Album Review – Terror Universal / Make Them Bleed (2018)

Behold the rise of the masked fearsome foursome of modern American metal and their bloodthirsty, action-packed debut album.

Comprised of current and former members of rock and metal renowned acts such as Machine Head, Ill Niño, Soulfly and Upon A Burning Body, here comes American Horror Metal masked supergroup Terror Universal, who have been unstoppable since the band’s inception back in 2014, having released their debut EP Reign of Terror in 2015 and shared the stage alongside heavy hitters including Korn, Asking Alexandria, Papa Roach and Fear Factory, among others. Now in 2018 those masked marauders are set to release their debut full-length album Make Them Bleed via minus HEAD Records, an album that can undoubtedly be considered the musical equivalent of a slasher film due to its aggressiveness, tension, lunacy and obviously the distinctiveness and eccentricity of each of the band’s bizarre members.

Snapping from moments of intense sonic bloodletting into menacing melodic mayhem, before creeping back into the shadows to do it all over again, the fearsome foursome Plague on vocals, Thrax on the guitar, Diabolus on bass and Massacre on drums live up to the legacy of modern-day American Alternative and Groove Metal the likes of Slipknot, Mushroomhead, Five Finger Death Punch, Deftones, Disturbed and so on. Produced by the band’s own members and mixed by Eddie Wohl (Smile Empty Soul, Fuel, Ill Niño, 36Crazyfists), Make Them Bleed will become the soundtrack to your most wicked nightmares, blasting your senses with its avalanche of heavy and metallic sounds and noises.

And the monstrous quartet kicks off their freak show of metal with a ferocious tune titled Passage of Pain, where Diabolus and Massacre make sure the ambience remains as heavy, menacing and obscure as possible with their rumbling bass and drums, respectively, while Plague screams and shouts like a true beast. Then in Welcome to Hell (which you can also watch as a guitar playthrorugh and as a bass playthrough on YouTube) Plague sounds utterly enraged, while Thrax transforms his guitar into a bloodthirsty weapon, resulting in the perfect depiction of modern extreme and alternative music made in the USA; followed by Spines, where an electronic-ish intro quickly evolves into a very dark and melodic sonority that could easily be played on any radio station, but still feeling extremely heavy. Featuring guest musician John Moyer (Disturbed) on bass, this can be called “a love song crafted by monsters”, sounding somehow romantic and violent at the same time.

Taking their animosity to a much higher level, Terror Universal bring forth the title-track Make Them Bleed, with the amazing low-tuned punches by Diabolus making the whole song more impactful. Moreover, its neck-breaking rhythm is effectively boosted by Plague’s demented growls, turning it into their personal hymn of sheer rage against everything and everyone, perfect for “spreading the violence” and “fucking the world” as Plague himself screams during the song. Then in Through the Mirrors they engage in their most Slipknot/Stone Sour-inspired mode, with the sick beats by Massacre guiding the musicality while Plague fires his crisp, acid vocals, not to mention Thrax and his cutting riffs; followed by the excellent Dig You A Hole with its gripping pace and vocal lines, enhanced by the fierce circus-like beats by Massacre and the song’s spot-on backing vocals. This is definitely one of the best new Alternative/Nu Metal songs you can find out there, making us bang our heads like maniacs without even noticing together with those four masked beasts.

Featuring the unstoppable Tony Campos (Fear Factory, Ministry, Soulfly, Static-X) on bass, who ends up giving the overall sound an Industrial Metal-like vibe with his crushing bass lines, Dead on Arrival is an excellent option for the band’s live performances to make everyone jump up and down together with them, whereas Into Darkness offers the listener another blast of their modern-day Horror Metal, albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album. Let’s say that it’s not a bad tune, but those freaks of nature sound way too “docile” in this case. On the other hand, their most savage and bestial mode arises in a great explosion of Groove and Thrash Metal named Your Time Has Come, with Thrax and Diabolus leading the carnage with their razor-edged strings, before Piece by Piece concludes the album like a bulldozer, with its metallic sounds penetrating deep inside our ears while Plague alternates between growling like a demon and firing his keen clean vocals.

In summary, if you enjoy modern American metal with an extra dosage of insanity and fury, all wrapped up by the grim and monstrous faces of Terror Universal, you’ll certainly have a good time listening to the music from Make Them Bleed. You can face those four creatures from hell anytime through their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and purchase your copy of the album through their BandCamp page, through their Pledge Music page, on iTunes or on Amazon. Just make sure you’re in good shape and ready to rock to the sound of Terror Universal because, you know, you won’t be dealing with regular people, but with rabid monsters of modern metal eager to taste your blood.

Best moments of the album: Welcome to Hell, Make Them Bleed and Dig You A Hole.

Worst moments of the album: Into Darkness.

Released in 2018 minus HEAD Records

Track listing    
1. Passage of Pain 3:57
2. Welcome to Hell 3:41
3. Spines (feat. John Moyer) 3:18
4. Make Them Bleed 3:32
5. Through the Mirrors 4:10
6. Dig You A Hole 4:35
7. Dead on Arrival (feat. Tony Campos) 3:34
8. Into Darkness 4:17
9. Your Time Has Come 3:21
10. Piece by Piece 3:06

Band members
Plague – vocals
Thrax – guitars
Diabolus – bass
Massacre – drums

Guest musicians
John Moyer – bass on “Spines”
Tony Campos – bass on “Dead on Arrival”

Advertisements

Album Review – Butcher Babies / Lilith (2017)

The most dangerous and relentless demons of heavy music return with another crisp, visceral and fun album of present-day Metalcore.

As I said in our Metal Chick of the Month dedicated to the Butcher Babies in October 2016 celebrating three years of The Headbanging Moose, frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey definitely know how to properly rumble, and now with the release of Lilith, their third full-length album, this Los Angeles-based Metalcore act spearheaded by those two gorgeous growlers more than cements their name in modern metal music. And don’t get fooled by their stunning looks, as Heidi and Carla can rip your heart out in the blink of an eye, just to show you how visceral and vibrant their music is.

After the release of the excellent Take It Like A Man, in 2015, an album that’s utterly entertaining from start to finish, fans of the Butcher Babies kept wondering if Heidi and Carla, together with Jason Klein on bass, Henry Flury on guitars and newcomer Chase Brickenden on drums would be able to deliver the same amount of aggressiveness and electricity that led them to play alongside giants like Marilyn Manson, Danzig, Rob Zombie and Cradle of Filth since the band’s inception, and for our total delight Lilith not only kicks some serious ass, but it also brings a more melodic side of the Butcher Babies that add an extra layer of intricacy and quality to their always fun compositions.

Now simply hit play and feel the metallic riffs by Henry crushing your skull before the dynamic duo Heidei and Carla begin their growling feast in Burn the Straw Man, not only a circle pit-generator with a catchy chorus and pure rage flowing from all instruments, but also a fantastic choice for opening their live concerts in full force. Following that flawless start we have the title-track Lilith, bringing their trademark ferocity infused with more melodic lines (mainly found in their cleaner vocals), with Chase proving why he was chosen to be the band’s new drummer; and Headspin, an almost-radio-friendly tune presenting a heavy but extremely sexy rhythm that will put you to dance and sing along with the band. Moreover, as a “bonus” the song got a lustful official video that deals with virtual reality (aka virtual sex) that’s definitely worth a watch. And in Korova the band gets back to a more underground Metalcore sonority, with Henry, Jason and Chase doing a solid job by supporting the screams by Carla and Heidi, all boosted by the song’s absolutely addictive chorus.

The beyond electrified #Iwokeuplikethis offers pure madness blasted by the entire band, with Chase sounding beastly on drums while our charming screamers fire some demented gnarls and deep growls nonstop. Things slow down a bit in The Huntsman, a dark Metalcore semi-ballad with hints of Alternative and Groove Metal which never really takes off despite the awesome rumbling bass lines by Jason, but everything returns to normal (if the Butcher Babies can be called “normal”) in Controller, a song that can be considered “old school Butcher Babies” by presenting all elements that made them famous in heavy music. Furthermore, its groovy and metallic tones are tailored for jumping up and down and breaking our necks headbanging with the band. And Oceana is another shot of insanity by Heidi and Carla, with the first firing her more strident screeches while the latter keeps growling deeper and deeper. In addition, Henry nails it with his crisp riffs, increasing the impact of the song to our ears.

In Look What We’ve Done we have more of their more melodic and commercial version (which means it should receive some decent air play in several radio stations), with both girls kicking ass with their potent clean vocals. And although they’re also great when singing smoother songs, I personally prefer their more enraged mode like what happens in POMONA (Shit Happens), a song that will cause some serious bruises inside the circle pit. Both girls sound demented throughout the entire song led by the frantic riffs and beats by Henry and Chase, respectively, turning it into one of the best songs of the whole album. And Underground and Overrated, the closing tune in Lilith, will pierce your ears with Henry’s cutting guitar riffs and solos and Heidi and Carla’s hellish screams. This is what I would call a “festival song”, being more than perfect for those open air festivals that happen all over Europe and North America during the summer.

Lilith might be known as a dangerous demon of the night who is sexually wanton (and who steals babies in the darkness), but from now on she will also be known as the Butcher Babies’ bitch, because no woman in metal can top Heidi and Carla in terms of stamina, fury and passion for the more alternative side of Heavy Metal. If I were you, I would certainly keep an eye on their Facebook page for their tour dates to promote Lilith (which by the way can be purchased through several different platforms, and if you’re lucky enough you might be able to find the Japanese edition with five sick bonus tracks), because as a guy that has already seen Heidi, Carla & Co. live I can assure you their concerts are insanely enjoyable. And needless to say, the Butcher Babies will keep on rocking and showing their love for heavy music until the end as true metalheads that they are.

Best moments of the album: Burn the Straw Man, Headspin, #Iwokeuplikethis and POMONA (Shit Happens).

Worst moments of the album: The Huntsman.

Released in 2017 Century Media

Track listing
1. Burn the Straw Man 4:05
2. Lilith 3:27
3. Headspin 3:32
4. Korova 4:05
5. #Iwokeuplikethis 3:01
6. The Huntsman 3:06
7. Controller 3:04
8. Oceana 3:32
9. Look What We’ve Done 3:35
10. POMONA (Shit Happens) 3:13
11. Underground and Overrated 3:59

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
12. Beer Drinker & Hell Raisers 2:54
13. They’re Coming To Take Me Away 3:16
14. Don’t Give A Fuck 2:22
15. Crazy Horses 2:55
16. Pussy Whipped 2:32

Band members
Heidi Shepherd – vocals
Carla Harvey – vocals
Henry Flury – guitar
Jason Klein – bass
Chase Brickenden – drums

Album Review – The Earth And I / The Candleman (2017)

Close your eyes and enjoy the first of two sister albums by this talented American band, introducing you to their unique fusion of groove-oriented sounds and captivating storytelling lyrics.

Playing a mix of groovy, moody, syncopated metal and more upbeat, accessible rock tunes inspired by bands like Periphery, Animals as Leaders and TesseracT, American Progressive Rock/Metal metallers The Earth And I (also known as TEAI, pronounced /tay/) are releasing their debut full-length album, titled The Candleman, the first of two sister albums (with the second one, named The Curtain, being scheduled for an early 2018 release). Featuring seven tracks through the course of 35 minutes, The Candleman will not only introduce you to the world of TEAI, but present to you in great fashion their unique music heavily focused on a fusion of groove-oriented sounds and captivating storytelling lyrics.

Formed in 2013 in the city of Warwick, New York, in the United States by guitarists Daniel Siew and Liam Zintz-Kunkel, drummer Suss Mackenzie and bassist Nick Petromilli, who were later joined by neo-soul vocalist Kendyle Wolven in 2017, TEAI aim at filling a serious need in the Progressive Metal world for non-operatic female vocals with The Candleman and The Curtain. Displaying a minimalist and classy artwork designed by the band’s own guitarist Daniel Siew, The Candleman definitely succeeds in bringing that vocal variation desired by TEAI to their metal music, effectively helping the band make a name for themselves in underground Progressive and Groove Metal.

The beautifully-titled atmospheric intro The Lake Under the Desert warms up the listener for the groovy and thunderous I. CGMTC (Life in the Sunset Zone), a powerful tune where Daniel, Liam and Nick create a wave of rumbling sounds with their strings, setting the stage for the mesmerizing vocals by Kendyle to shine brighter than the sun. Moreover, the song brings moments of hope flawlessly blended with passages full of anger, resulting in a full-bodied Progressive Metal experience for our senses enhanced by its poetic lyrics (“In the harbor, / the ship had turned to stone. / They watched from the Belfry, / long bones, and cold and unsound, / their skin drawn tight / over emaciated forms.”). Then in II. Little Frames, a more obscure, introspective creation by TEAI, the fiery Kendyle keeps blasting her potent vocals in a beautiful paradox with the harsh growls by Nick, with the musicality alternating between more technical Progressive Metal and rowdy Groove Metal. Put differently, simply close your eyes and let this feast of contrasting sounds penetrate deep inside your soul.

In the interesting And Now for a Slight Departure the band adds elements from Ska and Punk to their music, creating an upbeat vibe led by the high-pitched vocals by Kendyle and the rhythmic and precise beats by Adam, resulting in what can be considered a  more “radio-friendly” version of TEAI; while in Sugar High they get back to a darker sonority, with Daniel, Liam and Nick once again doing an amazing job with their axes, sounding like the bastard son of Dream Theater with Evanescence, but also presenting elements from Alternative Metal and Hard Rock to spice things up a bit.

Then as a break from all their groovy and wicked sounds TEAI offer us all a serene ballad named The Hollow Deluge, with Kendyle passionately (and effectively) declaiming its pensive words (“I stand before the most cloudy of waters. / I survey the scene with reserved apprehension. / There’s something not right here, like I’ve been here before. / It’s strangely familiar. / It’s almost uncomfortably comfortable.”), all boosted by the electricity that rises in the last part of the song, flowing into a climatic ending. And as the icing on the cake we have Skies Like Fences, bringing forward over 7 minutes of intricate drumming, metallic and extremely groovy bass lines, flammable guitar solos, deranged growls and endless energy, or in other words, an extravaganza of Progressive Metal once again led by Kendyle and her charming voice.

You can enjoy The Candleman in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify, follow TEAI on Facebook, and buy your favorite version of the album through the band’s own BandCamp or webstore (in digipak or MP3 format, as well as on iTunes and on Amazon. In a nutshell, TEAI set the bar really high for themselves with The Candleman, but of course if they keep doing what they’re capable of in The Curtain next year, which is delivering high-end metal with a strong progressive vein, I’m sure all of us fans of Progressive Metal will be more than happy when their second album is released, just like how we are now with The Candleman.

Best moments of the album: I. CGMTC (Life in the Sunset Zone) and Skies Like Fences.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. The Lake Under the Desert 0:56
2. I. CGMTC (Life in the Sunset Zone) 4:34
3. II. Little Frames 8:35
4. And Now for a Slight Departure 4:05
5. Sugar High 4:06
6. The Hollow Deluge 5:01
7. Skies Like Fences 7:37

Band members
Kendyle Wolven – lead vocals
Daniel Siew – guitar, vocals
Liam Zintz-Kunkel – guitar
Nick Petromilli – bass, vocals
Adam Susskind – drums

Album Review – Temptation’s Wings / Skulthor Ebonblade (2017)

Follow the epic adventures of the mighty warrior Skulthor, told by a relentless American power trio through their vibrant fusion of Stoner and Southern Metal.

Hailing from the mountains of North Carolina, in the United States, more specifically from the city of Asheville, here comes a bludgeoning power trio known as Temptation’s Wings, who since the band’s inception in 2005 has been blasting an old school fusion of Stoner and Southern Metal full of raw power, crushing riffs and epic vocals with influences ranging from Amon Amarth to ZZ Top, from Candlemass to Iced Earth, and so on. All that passion for heavy music culminated with the release of a demo titled Destruction of Another Dimension, in 2010, and the EP’s WarMallet: An EP of Brutality, in 2011, and Legends of the Tusk, in 2013, leading the band to play several concerts in support of their releases, including opening for metal legends Iced Earth in their hometown’s biggest venue, The Orange Peel. However, it’s now in 2017 that the trio aims at spreading their metallic wings over the entire world with the release of their debut full-length album, the rip-roaring Skulthor Ebonblade.

Showcasing a comic-inspired artwork by Minneapolis-based artist David Paul Seymour (the “Artist of Doom”), Skulthor Ebonblade is a doom-thrashing sonic representation of battles, berserkers, bizarre beasts and bashing skulls by the trio comprised of Micah on vocals and guitars, Chad on bass and Jason on drums, who above all things love to tell us epic tales of bloodshed and conquest through their music. With each one of its songs being a crushing narrative of brutality from start to finish, Skulthor Ebonblade can be considered a concept album that keeps the level of epicness and adventure always at the highest possible level. Having said that, simply grab your sword, ax and shield and head into the battlefield together with Temptation’s Wings to the sound of the glorious anthems found in the album’s 48 minutes of unrelenting metal.

Blazing fires in the intro Burning of Hjalmar warn the listener a monumental war of Sludge and Stoner Metal is about to begin in I’ Destroyer, where Micah and Chad build a wall of sound with their strings, being powerfully joined by Jason and his smashing beats. In addition, Micah impersonates the main character of the story in a gripping manner, while Chad and his bass sound as thunderous as they can be throughout the entire song. And the rumbling tunes by Chad kick off another heavy and potent creation by Temptation’s Wings entitled Into the Maelstrom, presenting top-tier Southern Doom with an epic atmosphere in the background, together with faster passages interspersed with darker, slower moments that end up turning it into a full-bodied experience for the listener.

And it seems that the skies are getting darker and darker as the music in Skulthor Ebonblade evolves, which is the case in To Forge a Legend (Ulfbehrt). Micah fires spot-on enraged vocals in perfect sync with the pounding drums by Jason, exhibiting a more melodic side of Temptation’s Wings with highlights to its sustained epic vibe. Then we’re treated to one of the most thrilling, razor-edged chants of the whole album, Lair of the Gorgon Queen, where Micah not only slashes our ears with his riffs, but his vocal performance is beyond heroic and vibrant. Furthermore, this flammable chant is also full of breaks, variations and nuances of several different music styles, not to mention Micah’s fantastic guitar solos; followed by Treachery of the Blind Raven, which by the way has a superb name for a metal song, where they continue their quest for Southern Metal in great fashion, with guitar and bass sounding as metallic as they can be and with all spaces being filled with the dense sounds of all instruments.

Witches of Dredmoor offers our avid ears almost 10 minutes of melancholic passages, low-tuned bass punches and passionate performances by all band members (in special Micah with his gripping story-telling vocal lines). It’s by far the darkest of all songs, presenting more of their stunning guitar solos and rhythmic beats to make the whole composition even more exhilarating; before the closing tune of the album, titled My Name Was Skulthor, brings forward an anguished anti-hero Skulthor with his dark thoughts and evil feelings consuming his mind, with all that negativity flowing from the song’s low-tuned bass lines and obscure vocals. There’s no happiness in sight, only the melancholy and sadness of a fallen warrior beautifully turned into first-class Doom Metal by Temptation’s Wings, concluding the album majestically. Actually, if you buy the CD version of the album, you get as a nice bonus from the band a 2-minute acoustic instrumental track named Solitude (inserted between “Lair of the Gorgon Queen” and “Treachery of the Blind Raven”), a simple but very positive extra touch to the album in my opinion.

You can take a detailed listen at Skulthor Ebonblade on YouTube, follow the band on Facebook, and purchase the epic, rumbling adventures of Temptation’s Wings through their BandCamp page or official website, as well as on iTunes. Although no one truly knows what lies ahead for Skulthor, we all know for sure that, no matter what destiny brings to our fallen warrior, the skillful minstrels of Heavy Metal known as Temptation’s Wings will be there to tell us another gripping story of violence, death and revenge through their kick-ass music.

Best moments of the album: I’ Destroyer, Lair of the Gorgon Queen and My Name Was Skulthor.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Burning of Hjalmar 1:24
2. I’ Destroyer 7:03
3. Into the Maelstrom 6:25
4. To Forge a Legend (Ulfbehrt) 7:46
5. Lair of the Gorgon Queen 6:03
6. Treachery of the Blind Raven 4:40
7. Witches of Dredmoor 9:40
8. My Name Was Skulthor 6:44

CD bonus track
6. Solitude 2:18

Band members
Micah – vocals, guitars
Chad – bass
Jason – drums

Album Review – Mavradoxa / Lethean Lament (2017)

A whirlwind of emotions from raw carnal aggression, nature reverence, despair, longing and bliss in the form of stunning Laurentian Black Metal.

“And all that we are,
all that we are,
is silhouettes
in silent
rain 

And all that we are,
all that we are,
is a blackbird
with wings
aflame”

Recorded in the spring of 2017, Lethean Lament, the second full-length installment by American Atmospheric Black Metal duo Mavradoxa, is not only a contemplative and majestic album that is expansive, atmospheric and melancholic, but it’s perhaps the best depiction in modern underground music of what’s commonly referred to as “Laurentian Black Metal”, being highly recommended for dreary and rain-soaked days during solitary walks, or in any moment of introspection. Formed in 2015 in the city of Rochester, New York, in the United States, the duo comprised of Nival (Zachary Smith) on vocals, guitar and bass and Lux (Monica Finger) on vocals and drums is sharper than ever in Lethean Lament, delivering long, progressive songs that flow with purpose where the atmosphere dictates and paints vivid stories in its movement and direction throughout the entire album, encapsulating a whirlwind of emotions from raw carnal aggression, nature reverence, despair, longing and bliss. Featuring contributions by violinist Andy McGirr on the songs “Cicadan” and “Across the Nival Grove”, and vocalist Makr Welden on the song “Crimson Waves of Autumnal Flame”, as well as a darkly distinguished and impactful artwork, Lethean Lament is honest and genuine Atmospheric Black Metal that beautifully carries on the tradition of bands like Agalloch, Waldgeflüster, Falls of Rauros and Obsidian Tongue.

In the opening track, titled Cicadan, the acoustic guitars by Nival generate the perfect atmosphere for the beyond pleasant violin by Andy to soothe our souls in a comforting and melancholic way, setting the stage for the 11-minute extravaganza The Phantom Visages, showcasing an avalanche of sluggish, somber guitars and beats by the talented duo, spiced up by harsher and more aggressive moments and also bringing elements from Black and Doom Metal, resulting in devilish Blackened Doom tailored for admirers of the genre. Furthermore, its mournful lyrics are effectively gnarled by Mavradoxa (“And soon into the graveyard’s maw the lustrous glow shall fade / Their echoing laments no longer stain the past / Their fleeting memories are borne to midnight rot / My lifeless frame upon the black tombstone is cast”), giving the entire song and even darker and more hypnotizing feel. Crimson Waves of Autumnal Flame is the absolute soundtrack for wandering through cold landscapes by yourself with its almost 18 minutes of melancholic passages, introspective clean vocals by Mark Welden, gentle but piercing guitars by Nival and steady, mesmerizing beats by Lux. The music in this underground masterpiece of winter-like sounds keeps growing in intensity inside your mind, turning it into a one-way journey into darkness.

Exploring their more progressive and atmospheric vein, Mavradoxa hone their instruments to pierce our souls with their depressive sounds in Across the Nival Grove, where vocals couldn’t sound and feel more anguished, flowing through several layers of contrasting tunes and nuances until its climatic ending led by Andy’s ethereal violin. Then we have From Fog, a magnificent composition where you can sense the night and the cold embracing the desperate vociferations blasted by the duo (“Shivering, staring at haze from breath on a shattered mirror / Streaking through shadowy groves / Skeletal roots, an edifice… / but where am I?”) in an amazing display of modern Atmospheric Black Metal. In addition, the song offers the listener old school Black Metal blast beats by Lux and a metallic riffage by Nival in perfect sync with the dense ambience surrounding the music, flirting with Progressive Black Metal and, therefore, keeping the music always fresh, vibrant and gripping. And lastly, there’s nothing better than a serene acoustic outro, named Metanoia, to wrap up this voyage through the obscure and gelid kingdom of extreme music reigned by Mavradoxa.

All you need to do to brave the storm of idiosyncratic sounds found in Lethean Lament (which by the way is our album review number 500, and there couldn’t have been a better choice to celebrate that expressive milestone than this) is go to YouTube for a full listen at the album, follow Mavradoxa on Facebook, and buy your copy of the album at the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp or webshop (as a regular CD or as a CD + shirt + sticker bundle), as well as at Discogs. And after facing such distinguished tempest of emotions, from sheer aggression to moments of hope and melancholy, you’ll certainly place Laurentian Black Metal, especially the one masterfully crafted by Mavradoxa, as one of your top choices for your most isolated and meditative moments in life.

Best moments of the album: Crimson Waves of Autumnal Flame and From Fog.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Cicadan 3:52
2. The Phantom Visages 11:25
3. Crimson Waves of Autumnal Flame 17:50
4. Across the Nival Grove 15:32
5. From Fog 11:00
6. Metanoia 1:59

Band members
Nival – vocals, guitar, bass
Lux – vocals, drums

Guest musicians
Andy McGirr – violin on “Cicadan” and “Across the Nival Grove”
Mark Welden – vocals on “Crimson Waves of Autumnal Flame”

Album Review – Cannibal Corpse / Red Before Black (2017)

Always loyal to their foundations and sounding rawer and more aggressive than ever, here comes the most hardworking act in Death Metal with another first-class onslaught of sheer brutality.

If there’s a band in extreme music that not only remains loyal to their foundations, but that also keeps delivering excellence with each and every album release, that band are American death metallers Cannibal Corpse. This Buffalo-based Death Metal institution never disappoints, always providing us fans everything we crave in extreme music, playing their music almost to perfection while maintaining a high level of rawness and aggressiveness in their sonority at all times, which is exactly the case in Red Before Black, the fourteenth studio album in their vile, ruthless and gory career. Having said that, do you have what it takes to face another brutal installment by the Corpse?

Released three years after the good A Skeletal Domain and featuring a slashing artwork by American comic book artist Vince Locke, Red Before Black not only proves why Cannibal Corpse are still alive and kicking after almost 40 years on the road, fighting against all odds and always going against anything that can be considered mainstream, but it also shows that there’s no sign of the band slowing down or venturing through less violent fields. Quite the contrary, it seems that the Corpse is thirstier for guts, entrails and blood than ever.  “We always try to make our music aggressive, but where an album like ‘A Skeletal Domain’ was definitely aggressive, it has a targeted refinement that the new album doesn’t. ‘Red Before Black’ is as well executed as anything we’ve done, but it has a rawness to it that we haven’t had in a long time,” asserted bassist Alex Webster.

Raw and putrid sounds impregnate our ears from the very first second in Only One Will Die, with the guitars by Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett sounding pulverizing while George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher barks manically as usual, showing why he’s one of the most respected and consistent growlers still in action. Furthermore, its lyrics reek of traditional Cannibal Corpse (“Both of us will throttle / Strangling with rage / Both consumed by madness, revenge has us enslaved / Both are badly wounded / And struggle to survive / Both are fighting to the death but only one will die”). Brutality keeps flowing from all instruments in the fantastic title-track Red Before Black, where the competent old school drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz maintains the pace at a frantic level while Corpsegrinder vociferates the song’s lancinating name ferociously. And those guys never get tired of blasting sheer Death Metal to our metallic ears, delivering violence and bloodshed from start to finish in this ominous circle pit-generator Code of the Slashers, with their always demonic guitar solos enhancing the song’s electricity to the limit; whereas Shedding My Human Skin is mid-tempo slashing tune where guitars penetrate deep inside our mind while Alex and Paul keep punching us in the head ruthlessly. The song loses its taste a bit after a while, though, but it’s still a decent creation by our beloved Corpse.

Get ready to be massacred by Corpsegrinder and his henchmen in Remaimed (let’s see if you can survive this hurricane of Death Metal), with all instruments played with extreme violence, in special the bass by Alex who once again proves why he’s in my humble opinion the best Extreme Metal bassist of all time; followed by Firestorm Vengeance, a heavy-as-hell metal tempest ignited by putrid, raw riffs that grow in intensity until all hell breaks loose, led by the unstoppable Paul on drums. Put differently, if you’re getting to know Cannibal Corpse at this point in your life, this is a very good sample of their more contemporary sound. Heads Shoveled Off is perfect for banging your head like Corpsegrinder himself, while Paul keeps demolishing his drums and the guitar duo Pat and Rob shows no mercy by cutting our ears with their sharp-edged strings, not to mention the song’s slashing words (“Back in Nam he killed a man / A shovel was used to cut his head off / Now forever changed lust to decapitate / Chop at the neck to keep the skull intact / Going insane / Come back deranged”), and displaying hints of progressiveness but still maintaining the band’s crude sonority, Corpus Delicti is another great job done by Rob and Pat with their axes, delivering amazing riffs and solos nonstop.

Red Before Black Collectors Bundle

In Scavenger Consuming Death we have the pleasure to witness Mr. Webster doing what he does best, shaking the foundations of the earth with his devilish bass lines, also presenting a fantastic chorus to follow along with Corpsegrinder, as well as visceral guitar solos and a thrilling pace. In other words, it can’t get any more Cannibal Corpse than this. The crude, primeval sonority found in In the Midst of Ruin, a beyond perfect tune for some carnage inside the circle pit, takes us back to the band’s early days, with Alex Webster firing bestial, rumbling tunes from his bass; while Destroyed Without a Trace, the second to last tune in Red Before Black, is filled with the band’s trademark harmony and aggressiveness (and a Corpsegrinder sounding more enraged than you can imagine), with all breaks and changes from slower, heavier moments to sheer devastation making it a great choice for their live concerts. Lastly, closing this crushing record we have more of the band’s old school Death Metal in Hideous Ichor, which despite being slightly below the rest of the album in terms of quality, it’s still very enjoyable if you’re a longtime fan of the band.

Metal Blade Records kind of surprised us all by uploading the full album on their YouTube channel, but of course in case you’re also a “Corpse addict” like myself you’re certainly going to buy your favorite version of the album at their webstore, like the Red Before Black Collectors Bundle, including among a ton of pretty cool stuff a bonus CD named “Blood Covered”, featuring Cannibal Corpse turning some metal classic by Accept, Metallica, Kreator, Possessed and other bands into their own infernal sound. Red Before Black exhales pure Cannibal Corpse, and it will surely maintain this fantastic Death Metal horde relevant in the minds of old school metal fans, it will show newcomers to the world of heavy music how Death Metal should always be played, and last but not least, it will keep haunting the souls of those who are not brave enough to face the most hardworking band in the history of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Only One Will Die, Red Before Black, Heads Shoveled Off and Scavenger Consuming Death.

Worst moments of the album: Shedding My Human Skin and Hideous Ichor.

Released in 2017 Metal Blade Records

Track listing 
1. Only One Will Die 3:24
2. Red Before Black 3:12
3. Code of the Slashers 4:45
4. Shedding My Human Skin 3:28
5. Remaimed 4:13
6. Firestorm Vengeance 3:43
7. Heads Shoveled Off 3:37
8. Corpus Delicti 3:29
9. Scavenger Consuming Death 4:33
10. In the Midst of Ruin 3:25
11. Destroyed Without a Trace 4:01
12. Hideous Ichor 4:33

Limited edition bonus disc “Blood Covered”
13. Sacrifice (Sacrifice cover) 3:04
14. Confessions (Possessed cover) 2:58
15. No Remorse (Metallica cover) 6:16
16. Demon’s Night (Accept cover) 4:17
17. Bethany Home (A Place to Die) (The Accused cover) 3:20
18. Endless Pain (Kreator cover) 3:11
19. Behind Bars (Razor cover) 2:20

Band members
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – vocals
Pat O’Brien – guitar
Rob Barrett – guitar
Alex Webster – bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums

Guest musician
Erik Rutan – backing vocals on “Only One Will Die”, lead guitar on “In the Midst of Ruin”

Album Review – Dzö-nga / The Sachem’s Tales (2017)

A demonic entity hailing from the United States gives life to the Algonquin folklore in a brand new concept album of vibrant and classy Atmospheric Black Metal.

In case you’re searching for the next name in Atmospheric and Epic Black Metal, you must take a listen at The Sachem’s Tales, the brand new concept album by an American Black Metal project that goes by the name of Dzö-nga (pronounced “zone-gah”), formed in 2016 in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, United States by multi-instrumentalist Cryvas. By the way, did you know Dzö-nga is the name of a cryptid or demon that is said to haunt the mountain Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world lying partly in Nepal and partly in Sikkim, India? Drawing inspiration from world mythologies, Dzö-nga is definitely the perfect name to represent the music by this heavy and eccentric monster of underground extreme music.

The Sachem’s Tales, Dzö-nga’s second full-length album and a concept album about the Algonquin folklore from creation mythos (“Against the Northern Wind”) to apocalyptic prophesies (“A Seventh Age of Fire”), is the project’s first release to feature Grushenka Ødegård on vocals, with Cryvas and Grushenka being joined by guest musicians Aaron Maloney (This or the Apocalypse) as their session drummer and Lilith Astaroth (Sorrowseed) lending an ethereal voice to “Halle Ravine”. Featuring a classy cover art titled “The Wendigo”, designed by British illustrator Frank Victoria, The Sachem’s Tales will certainly please all fans of the more atmospheric side of extreme music fused with folk elements, especially the ones who love the sound by bands like Agalloch, Falls of Rauros, Moonsorrow and Coldworld, among others.

Midewiwin Lodge, a serene instrumental intro led by the acoustic guitars by Cryvas and spiced up by elements from Mother Nature, sets up the ambience for the melancholic and gripping To the Great Salt Water, with the contrast between the piano and the blast beats perfectly supporting the gentle voice of Grushenka and the growls by Cryvas, enhancing the impact of its fairy tale-inspired lyrics (“What shall I tell our children? / Tell them our story / Tell them who they are / Far beyond the mountains / Where wild-men roam / Over the raging river’s foam / Follow the Whiteshell west”). Put differently, this is a beautiful rollercoaster of emotions crafted by Dzö-nga, going from deeply enraged moments to slower passages of pure tenderness. Then in The Wolves Fell Quiet what starts in a calm mode with the suave notes of the piano embracing our souls suddenly explodes into magnificent Atmospheric Black Metal, with Cryvas growling and gnarling like a hellish entity. Furthermore, multi-layered waves of blackened sounds mixed with ambient music turn listening to this tune into a distinct and dense journey through darkness.

In the acoustic ballad Halle Ravine, it’s time for Lilith Astaroth to give life to the song’s poetic lyrics, bringing hope and melancholy at the same time to our hearts, with the song’s smoother sonority also showcasing how versatile Cryvas is as a musician; followed by Against the Northern Wind, where blast beats ignite a flammable fusion of Atmospheric Black Metal with Folk and Dark Metal, once again presenting paradoxical elements that create a unique experience to the listener. Moreover, Cryvas’ demonic roars and Grushenka’s angelical voice complement each other in a superb way, making it impossible not to feel touched by all sounds blasted by the band, all reaching deep inside our hearts and souls. A Seventh Age of Fire brings forward almost 10 minutes of top-tier extreme music by Cryvas and his crew, where Aaron not only proves he’s a rabid beast behind his drums, but he also displays an extremely refined technique, therefore adding tons of intricacy to the musicality. And effectively complementing this stylish aria, Cryvas offers us all some epic church-inspired pipes, with all instruments converging to a climatic acoustic ending with the song’s lyrics yet again coming from a dark and thrilling fairy tale (“Be brave and you will be protected / Be wise and you will be rewarded / (Hear in our silence that we are at peace / Our mantle passed to you) / Light again the ancient flame / Lead our people back home”). And before all is said and done, we’re treated to the instrumental outro The Witching Meadow, a song that contains several elements found in Folk Metal, with its kick-ass piano notes generating a comforting atmosphere to end this fantastic album in great fashion.

You can enjoy this fairy tale of Extreme Metal in full on YouTube, follow Dzö-nga on Facebook, listen to their other creations on SoundCloud, and obviously purchase The Sachem’s Tales at the band’s own BandCamp page, at the Avantgard Music’s BandCamp, on Amazon or at Discogs. Having said that, let’s hope that this gargantuan, hazy creature named Dzö-nga keeps haunting not only mountain Kangchenjunga, but everywhere else in the world where high-quality metal music is appreciated for many years yet to come.

Best moments of the album: To the Great Salt Water and Against the Northern Wind.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. Midewiwin Lodge (Instrumental) 2:35
2. To the Great Salt Water 8:49
3. The Wolves Fell Quiet 7:23
4. Halle Ravine (feat. Lilith Astaroth) 4:04
5. Against the Northern Wind 7:16
6. A Seventh Age of Fire 9:23
7. The Witching Meadow (Instrumental) 3:26

Band members
Cryvas – vocals, all instruments
Grushenka Ødegård – vocals

Guest musicians
Aaron Maloney – drums (session)
Lilith Astaroth – vocals on “Halle Ravine”

Album Review – Motograter / Desolation (2017)

Get “motograted” by the thrilling fusion of Alternative Metal and Hard Rock blasted by this tenacious American outfit.

Do you know what a “motograter” is? If you’re familiar with the fusion of Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal and Hard Rock crafted by a relentless American squad known as Motograter, you already known that the “motograter” is a homemade musical instrument designed with industrial cable and guitar pieces that creates a unique bass sound, and by that you can imagine how thunderous their music sounds. Formed in 1995 in Santa Barbara, California, United States, the band (which by the way displays a tribal style body paint for their live concerts) has suffered considerable lineup changes and a few split-ups since their inception, but that didn’t stop the band from keeping on rocking, being reunited once again a few years ago and releasing this year their second full-length album after their 2003 debut self-titled release (featuring Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch on vocals), the hard and heavy Desolation, now with James Legion (Deadform, The Breathing Process) on the vocal duties.

As aforementioned, the reinvigorated Motograter, comprised of the talented James Legion on vocals, Matthew “Nuke” Nunes and Jesse Stamper on guitars, Mylon Guy on bass, Noah “Shark” Robertson on drums and Dustin “Skunk” Anderson on the motograter, will hit you in the face with a feast of alternative and metallic sounds found in their new album, with the artwork designed by Mister-Sam Shearon (who has already worked with renowned bands such as Iron Maiden, Ministry, Rob Zombie and Rammstein, among several others, and also created covers for comic books and graphic novels including Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Judge Dredd and The X-Files) effectively representing the energy and aggressiveness you’ll find throughout the entire album. With that said, are you ready to be “motograted” by this insane metal tribe?

You’ll experience modernity and electricity flowing from the very first second of the opening track Parasite, where Mylon, Noah and Dustin provide their welcome card in the form of thunderous and vibrant background sounds, giving all the necessary support for James to thrive with his vocals in an awesome blend of Hard Rock with Alternative and Nu Metal. Gripping guitar lines kick off another born-to-be-a-hit composition by Motograter, titled Dorian, with Matthew and Jesse slashing our ears with their riffs while Noah keeps the musicality as heavy as it can be with his pounding drums, not to mention the song’s completely addictive chorus that won’t leave your head for a few weeks; and their galvanized, rumbling sounds continue to permeate the atmosphere in Victim, another great sample of their contemporary Alternative Metal led by the ominous vocals by James.

In the excellent Paragon it becomes clear that those American metallers will never get tired of piercing our brains with their rumbling tones and roars, with the motograter going along really well with the song’s guitar riffs and the potent voice by James, being perfect for banging our heads nonstop together with the band due to its modern and thrilling rhythm. Slowing down a bit and sounding less metallic, Bleeding Through is a semi-ballad by this skillful sextet recommended for some radio play, albeit not as dynamic and fun as the rest of the album, followed by Misanthropical, which despite feeling like it’s going to be another ballad, it slowly morphs into an obscure metal chant with the motograter shaking the foundations of the earth, while the infernal duo Noah and Mylon continue to set fire to the music, and with the song’s guttural vocals adding some good amount of fury to the overall result. Daggers keeps the album at a great level of intricacy and stamina in an interesting mix of what’s almost a dark ballad with the heavier sounds of Alternative Metal, with Mathew and Jesse being fantastic on guitars, delivering both smoother and more electrified riffs during the whole song.

The last part of the album begins with Portrait of Decay, a hybrid of the more visceral music by Slipknot with the melody found in bands such as Alter Bridge, therefore becoming another strong candidate to become a radio favorite due to its catchy pace and vocals. Locust sounds and feels more aggressive than most of the album’s previous tracks, with Noah smashing his drums flawlessly while Mylon and Dustin make sure the music remains vibrant at all times (and let’s not forget about its harsh growls, one of the main ingredients that make this tune so amazing). Rise (There Will Be Blood), the second to last tune in Desolation, is one of those songs to jump up and down with the band during their live performances, bringing elements of more alternative bands like Linkin Park to their already potent sonority, followed by Shadows, a decent dark ballad that’s slightly below what Motograter can offer us despite the great job done by James on vocals. It’s still very enjoyable, though, especially if you’re into modern metal ballads.

In case you feel you’re more than ready to be “motograted” by Motograter, simply follow them on Facebook and listen to their music on YouTube or on Spotify. And if Desolation brings forward all you enjoy in modern metal music, you can buy your copy at the EMP Label Group webstore as a regular CD or as a CD + t-shirt bundle, as well as on iTunes, on Amazon or at Discogs. Not only Desolation has all elements needed to be a must-have album for admirers of contemporary Alternative Metal, but above all it will definitely help Motograter in solidifying their path in heavy music, and let’s hope the band’s lineup is finally stabilized once and for all and that they keep delivering high-end albums like this one for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Parasite, Dorian, Paragon and Locust.

Worst moments of the album: Bleeding Through and Shadows.

Released in 2017 EMP Label Group

Track listing
1. Parasite 3:46
2. Dorian 3:46
3. Victim 3:30
4. Paragon 4:03
5. Bleeding Through 3:28
6. Misanthropical 3:41
7. Daggers 4:21
8. Portrait of Decay 3:35
9. Locust 3:42
10. Rise (There Will Be Blood) 3:40
11. Shadows 3:18

Band members
James Legion – vocals
Matthew “Nuke” Nunes – guitar
Jesse Stamper – guitar
Mylon Guy – bass
Noah “Shark” Robertson – drums
Dustin “Skunk” Anderson – motograter

Guest musicians
Aleksi Oksa – samples
Justin Fowler, Ahrue Luster & Jon Berrier – additional samples

Album Review – Rapheumets Well / Enders Door (2017)

Enjoy the third and final installment of the saga of the Atai in the form of a thirteen-song Sci-Fi opera of Symphonic and Progressive Black Metal.

After the releases of the first and second parts of a trilogy about the complex saga of the Atai (ancient architects), who aid in the propagation of sentient life throughout the multi-verse, those being the full length albums Dimensions, from 2014, and The Exile, from 2016, American Symphonic/Progressive Black Metal warriors Rapheumets Well return now in 2017 with the third and final installment of this musical saga, Enders Door, a thirteen-song science fantasy opera in the form of Symphonic Metal. Although this relentless North Carolina-based squad suffered a few lineup changes from their previous release, such as the departure of lead singer Tripp King (being replaced by the insanely talented growler Jeb Laird), their music remains bold, visceral and ominous, perfect to give a climatic ending to such compelling story.

And do you want to know what happens in Enders Door while the entire band is kicking some serious ass with their flammable instruments? Well, this is what Rapheumets Well will tell you: in the fifth era of the Avomenian Empire, amidst the planetary ruins of Vaath, a rogue traveler would discover an artifact that would forever change his place in the cosmos. Upon arriving to retrieve the artifact, it became apparent that Eryos’ brother Nathyiem would never make it to their arranged meeting point.  In departing from the planet Vaath, Eryos received a distress signal from his brother’s ship, coming from an uncharted planet.  Upon arriving, he found an odd world inhabited by a mysterious species called the Dreth led by lecherous matriarch named Eishar.  It is here that he would uncover a faced-door, an inter-dimensional gateway to the Ender.

In the opening track, titled The Traveler, we face an eerie, cinematic start to the album, transporting us to the world of Rapheumets Well by blending the finesse of keyboards and choir with devastating blast beats, before Jeb begins growling like a beast; followed by Distress on the Aberrant Planet, where the brutality led by the band’s mastermind Joshua “Nasaru” Ward on drums is effectively complemented by the keyboards by Annette Greene, while guitarists Brett Lee and Hunter Ross make sure they add the world “metal” to the music. The Autogenous Extinction offers the listener more demolishing, ominous sounds crafted by this unstoppable band, resulting in high-end Symphonic Black Metal with hints of Blackened Death Metal for admirers of the music by Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth, with Annette bringing balance to the sonic havoc with her smooth vocals. And in Secrets of the Demigods we’re treated to another great “duel” between Annette and Joshua, a true clash of delicate vocals and bestial beats, all embraced by a dark and dense background enhanced by classic guitar riffs and solos.

Then we have one of the longest and most complex of all tracks, Lechery Brought the Darkness, with its semi-acoustic intro suddenly exploding into sheer Symphonic Black Metal, with the paradox of voices between Annette with her angelic vocals and Jeb with his rabid gnarls sounding incredible from start to finish; and the title-track Enders Door, a fantastic tune showcasing a phantasmagorical background, extreme violence flowing form Joshua’s drums, and crushing guitar lines by both Brett and Hunter, perfectly depicting the traveler’s quest in the form of top-tier metal. In Prisoner of the Rift, they keep a menacing aura upon us with a fusion of Symphonic Metal with acoustic and even folk elements, creating a unique sonority led by the gentle voice of Annette, whereas The Diminished Strategist kicks off in full force, being an amazing representation of modern and intense Black Metal. Furthermore, the song’s keyboards sound mesmerizing when combined with the clean vocals by both Annette and Joshua, with the huge amount of progressiveness added to the music amidst all the sonic chaos going on resulting in an eccentric music voyage.

Nastarian Waltz works as a whimsical bridge to the imposing and epic Ghost Walkers Exodus, where Joshua continues to impress on drums with his nonstop beats and fills in a flawless combination of progressiveness, symphonic elements and the most devastating form of Black Metal. Put differently, this song alone sounds so complete it is already worth the investment on the album. On the other hand, Killing the Colossus, despite being another solid creation by Rapheumets Well, is not as gripping as the other songs of the album. Its guitars and keyboards in a dark sync help boost the song’s taste though, not to mention the obscure vociferations by Jeb. Lastly, after a piano-guided atmospheric bridge titled Eishar’s Lament, it’s time for the closing track of the album, the sinister Unveiling the Sapient, with Joshua once again pulverizing everything and everyone with his drums while Brett and Hunter deliver some Technical Death Metal-inspired guitar lines and solos, culminating in a sensational conclusion for this awesome Sci-Fi story.

What are you waiting for to dive into the metallic world of Rapheumets Well? You can buy your copy of Enders Door at the Test Your Metal Records’ BandCamp or Big Cartel, as well as on iTunes or Amazon, and remember you can also get online the first two installments of this heavy and gripping trilogy, such as HERE and HERE. I honestly don’t know what’s next for Rapheumets Well, if they’ll start a new trilogy with a whole different story, if they’ll release a regular album, or maybe even release a prequel to this existing trilogy. One thing is certain: no matter what their next step is, we can rest assured Joshua and his bandmates will certainly blow our minds once again with their multi-layered metal music.

Best moments of the album: Distress on the Aberrant Planet, Enders Door and Ghost Walkers Exodus.

Worst moments of the album: Killing the Colossus.

Released in 2017 Test Your Metal Records

Track listing
1. The Traveler 4:39
2. Distress on the Aberrant Planet 3:57
3. The Autogenous Extinction 4:45
4. Secrets of the Demigods 4:40
5. Lechery Brought the Darkness 6:39
6. Enders Door 6:35
7. Prisoner of the Rift 2:58
8. The Diminished Strategist 5:36
9. Nastarian Waltz 1:13
10. Ghost Walkers Exodus 5:41
11. Killing the Colossus 5:58
12. Eishar’s Lament 1:18
13. Unveiling the Sapient 7:21

Band members
Jeb Laird – lead vocals
Annette Greene – clean vocals, keyboards
Brett Lee – guitar
Hunter Ross – guitar
Joshua “Nasaru” Ward – drums, clean vocals

Album Review – Trivium / The Sin and the Sentence (2017)

Fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics, a sensational new drummer and, above all, the return of Matt’s trademark screams. That’s the formula for best metal album of the year.

Finally, after two somewhat controversial albums (the technically excellent but not unanimous Vengeance Falls, from 2013, and the extremely tiresome Silence In The Snow, from 2015), Orlando-based Heavy Metal fighters Trivium are back on track with what’s probably going to be the best metal album for most critics and fans worldwide, the sharp, dynamic and vibrant The Sin and the Sentence. This amazing release (the eight studio album in their solid career) features everything you learned to love in the music by Trivium, such as fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics and, above all, the return of the band’s mastermind Matt Heafy’s screaming vocals, by far the most important element that makes The Sin and the Sentence a million light-years better than Silence In The Snow.

Not only Matt’s enraged growls are back, but it seems that the band has at long last found the perfect drummer for their music, the talented Alex Bent (Battlecross, Brain Drill, Dragonlord), who replaced drummer Paul Wandtke, and as soon as you hit play you’ll be able to clearly see the humongous difference Alex makes to their sound. In addition, another interesting thing in The Sin and the Sentence is that the album wasn’t going to be called this way if it wasn’t for the cover art and design done by Matt’s wife, Ashley Heafy, with whom he’s married since January 2010. In a recent interview, Matt stated that the working title for the album was The Revanchist and that the album was going to have gold and neon colors; however, those plans were changed once Ashley presented the band with symbols for each accompanying song, and from there The Sin and the Sentence was born.

The opening track, The Sin and the Sentence, kicks off in full force, with newcomer Alex showing us all the wonders a high-skilled drummer can do to a band. This born-to-be-a-classic tune is extremely addictive and as heavy as hell, with an inspired (and recovered) Matt simply kicking fuckin’ ass on vocals; and it seems that no matter how their music sounds, Matt & Co. definitely know how to craft beautiful lyrics (“I saw the dagger eyes staring back at me / I knew I’d never have a chance to bleed / Guilty, but in the sight of fallen men / They bury you before you speak / (The sin and the sentence)”). Then blending Death, Groove, Progressive and even Black Metal in an aggressive but very melodic manner, Beyond Oblivion, a technical tune that lives up to the band’s legacy, showcases fun, uprising backing vocals in sync with the rumbling sound of the bass by Paolo Gregoletto, not to mention their once again hypnotizing lyrics (“These shadows sleep so soundly / Appalled, he now averts his eyes / Disgraced, he felt so empty / Entrusting us with our demise”). And Other Worlds feels closer to what they did in the albums In Waves and Silence in the Snow by focusing on the clean vocals by Matt, while Corey Beaulieu and Matt deliver sharp and very harmonious guitar lines and solos, presenting hints of modern Hard Rock in its rhythm.

The second single of the album, The Heart from Your Hate, is another great example of how Trivium can adapt from being a truly heavy machine to a more radio-friendly band, presenting a catchy chorus that goes along really well with the song’s main riff; whereas Betrayer can be considered the most visceral and electrifying of all tracks in the album, a full-bodied, intricate composition that brings several elements from the band’s first (and more ferocious) albums. Furthermore, do you also think the guitars sound a lot like the classic riffage by Black Metal titans Emperor, one of Matt’s favorite bands of all time? Anyway, in The Wretchedness Inside, a song to bang your head like a maniac, Paolo sounds thunderous on bass, with the song’s overall rhythm reminding me of the most recent albums by Slipknot mixed with Trivium’s In Waves sounding. And, as usual, Matt provides us another blast of top-notch lyrics (“Submerged in dirt but it was never enough / To quell the fire in the back of my lungs / My bones are aching and my head is a mess / They said to run but I’m obsessed with the madness”). As a side note, this song was actually taken from a demo Matt ghostwrote for a different band in 2014; the song was never used though, so Trivium simply re-recorded it for The Sin and the Sentence. The following track, titled Endless Night, feels like some songs from Vengeance Falls, again with a higher focus on Matt’s clean vocals, also bringing hints of Hard Rock to their heavy sonority. Moreover, the sound of bass guitar, which by the way is simply fantastic the whole album, ends up boosting the impact of this specific tune considerably.

Sever the Hand is a first-class composition that can be divided in two distinct pieces, the first presenting a more melodic, smoother musicality, while the second brings all Trivium’s fury, in special the precise beats by Alex, the demonic riffage by Matt and Corey, and Matt’s sick growling. More obscure but still heavy and metallic, Beauty in the Sorrow displays gripping guitars by Matt and Corey (as well as one of the best guitar solos of the whole album), again bringing hints of traditional Black Metal in its riffs; whereas The Revanchist, one of Trivium’s most progressive songs of their past few albums and the longest in The Sin and the Sentence, brings forward powerful, metallic bass lines that will punch you in the head while Matt tells the story in a solid and entertaining manner, not to mention how Alex yet again steals the spotlight with his bestial, rhythmic drumming. Lastly, Thrown into the Fire is a song that showcases all elements from most of Trivium’s phases, not to mention how superb Matt’s screams sound. With the insane beats by Alex dictating the song’s rhythm, the final result is furious and harmonious just the way we love it, ending this awesome album in a brutal, vile and piercing way.

After listening to The Sin and the Sentence, do you also agree with me it will most probably be the best metal album of 2017? Let’s face it, there are tons of amazing albums launched this year, like the new ones from Kreator, Mastodon and Accept, but the new installment by Trivium is by far the most complete, creative and exciting of all (at least for me). Well, even if you think another album (or maybe albums) is better than The Sin and the Sentence, it’s still worth the investment, so go grab your favorite version of it at the Warner Music webstore, and don’t miss Matt & Co. when they take your city by storm in the coming months. And, obviously, let’s hope the band keeps the momentum going for years to come in the same awesome vein as they just delivered us all with The Sin and the Sentence.

Best moments of the album: The Sin and the Sentence, Betrayer, Sever the Hand and Thrown into the Fire.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. The Sin and the Sentence 6:23
2. Beyond Oblivion 5:17
3. Other Worlds 4:50
4. The Heart from Your Hate 4:04
5. Betrayer 5:27
6. The Wretchedness Inside 5:32
7. Endless Night 3:38
8. Sever the Hand 5:26
9. Beauty in the Sorrow 4:31
10. The Revanchist 7:17
11. Thrown into the Fire 5:29

Japanese Edition bonus track
12. Pillars of Serpents ’17 (re-recorded version) 5:03

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion