Album Review – Unflesh / Savior (2018)

A dark, aggressive and extremely technical opus of Blackened and Melodic Death Metal by a four-headed American beast, sounding as pulverizing as extreme music can be.

Forged in 2014 in the fires of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in the United States as a solo project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Beevers (Solium Fatalis), who’s by the way a student at the highly prestigious Berklee College Of Music, but currently located in Boston, Massachusetts, Blackened Melodic Death Metal four-piece squad Unflesh has been on a roll since their inception, having already released an excellent EP in 2016 titled Transcendence to Eternal Obscurity (which featured the astounding German drummer Hannes Grossmann as a session musician), followed by their new and insanely heavy and entertaining album Savior. Featuring a beautiful and menacing artwork by Brazilian artist Junki Sakuraba, Savior will strongly appeal to fans of the unparalleled music by bands such as Dissection, Necrophagist, Emperor, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Dimmu Borgir, among others, placing the band comprised of the aforementioned Ryan Beevers on vocals and guitar,  Chris Gardino (Pathogenic, Wolfsmyth) on the guitar, Peter De Reyna (Seven Spires) on bass and Chris Dovas (Seven Spires) on drums as one of the most promising names of the current underground scene.

Ryan Beevers himself had a few words to say regarding Savior, giving more details on the direction he wanted to follow with his brainchild.  “I’ve always thought of the band as having a kind of mixed sound of 90’s black metal and more technical death metal bands. Since the band started I just called us “Extreme Metal” because it’s a broader label. I never thought the sound of the band would be described as just black metal or death metal. When the first EP “Transcendence to Eternal Obscurity” came out, most people seemed to identify the sound as technical death metal. This album is one more step forward in molding the sound of Unflesh, musically and lyrically the ‘Savior’ album is a lot darker and more aggressive than our previous EP,” said Ryan about his new opus, one that he definitely should be proud of, and one we should all thank him for providing to us, avid metalheads.

An eerie piano intro grows in intensity until progressiveness and sheer devastation invade our senses in the opening track Savior, thanks to the fulminating riffs by Ryan and Chris Gardino as well as the bestial drumming by Chris Dovas. In other words, it’s a dense and intricate depiction of modern-day Progressive and Melodic Death Metal, and a fantastic welcome card by the entire band. Following such breathtaking beginning we have Bestowal of Decay, bringing an avalanche of groove and complexity, being even more demonic than the opening tune with Ryan sounding hellish and demented on vocals, all complemented by some sick guitar solos and some ass-kicking, classic Death Metal lyrics (“The great fade of all life in the dawn / A blissful perception of the fathomless darkness obtained / Primeval scriptures deciphered before the mortal eyes / By forsaken powers of Unanimation / Unveiled”); and their destructive but very harmonious onrush of Black and Death Metal goes on in Final Writhe, an incendiary tune led by the mesmerizing riffs and solos by both Ryan and Chris Gardino, with Chris Dovas showing no mercy for his drum set while Peter brings density and darkness to the music with his unstoppable punches.

More rhythmic and presenting what’s perhaps the most intricate and thrilling beats of the entire album, always supported by Peter’s thunderous bass, Erosive Devotees presents an enraged Ryan growling and screaming nonstop, turning it into one of the top moments of the album, whereas in The Eradication Commenced the band fires more of their electrifying Blackened and Melodic Death Metal with no sign of slowing down at all. Quite the contrary, the band’s stringed trio is on fire from start to finish, slashing our ears beautifully while Chris Dovas adds hints of Doom and Black Metal to his beats and fills. And Caliginous is an even more progressive and melodic tune by Unflesh, with Ryan gnarling in perfect sync with the guitar lines and beats blasted by the rest of the band. Put differently, you can break your neck headbanging or simply close your eyes and enjoy the complex music waves of this multi-layered extravaganza. Either way, you’re going to have an awesome time.

Then a pulverizing display of dexterity and rage waits for us in Desecration of Light, a circle pit-catalyst with all ingredients we love in contemporary Extreme Metal where Chris Dovas will crush your skull with his demonic beats, while Ryan and Chris Gardino have an exciting guitar duel with their wicked riffs and solos, before a superb guitar solo introduces us to another scorching hot voyage through the realms of violence and progressiveness in Disintegration God, ending with another gorgeous guitar solo until everything fades into ethereal sounds, with its classic lyrics being the icing on the cake (“And the somber thrives as animation subsides / When all designed under a star descends into infinity / Predestined fall, all-encompassing fade of life / It corrodes away before the throne of Death / And into its sacred lore”).

In order to let Unflesh penetrate deep inside your mortal flesh with the top-tier metal music found in Savior, simply pay them a visit at their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and buy your copy of the album form their own BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. The monstrous beast known as Unflesh is more menacing, violent and cohesive than ever, and I’m sure not only the band’s talented originator is happy with the devastating potential of his infernal spawn, but also anyone else who loves the perfect fusion of aggressiveness, feeling and technique in extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Bestowal of Decay, Erosive Devotees and Desecration of Light.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Savior 5:04
2. Bestowal of Decay 5:23
3. Final Writhe 5:13
4. Erosive Devotees 5:22
5. The Eradication Commenced 5:13
6. Caliginous 5:17
7. Desecration of Light 4:26
8. Disintegration God 5:35

Band members
Ryan Beevers – vocals, guitars
Chris Gardino – guitars
Peter De Reyna – bass
Chris Dovas – drums

Guest musician
Anthony Lusk-Simone – additional orchestral elements

Metal Chick of the Month – Jill Janus (September 2, 1975 – August 14, 2018)

“The dark, the dark… The darkness falls on you. The dark, the dark… The darkness swallows you.” – The Dark, by Huntress

It took me a while to think of a proper beginning to this posthumous tribute to the talented and gorgeous metal vocalist Jill Janus, frontwoman for one of the most promising metal acts of the past few years, California-based Heavy Metal squad Huntress, but as I mentioned HERE she was going to me our metal chick one day no matter what. Owner of an extremely powerful and captivating voice, delivering beautiful high-pitched screams that were capable of putting a huge and genuine smile on the face of the Metal God himself Rob Halford, Jill unfortunately committed suicide this past August 14, 2018 outside of Portland, Oregon at the age of 42, after years battling against her inner demons. In this humble tribute, let’s remember the life and career of Jill, her bands and projects, her contribution to heavy music, her fight against mental illness, and bang our heads and raise our horns to her flammable Heavy Metal, because she might be gone from this world, but her spirit undoubtedly lives on.

Born on September 2, 1975 in Catskill Mountains, a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains, located approximately 160 km north-northwest of New York City and 60 km southwest of Albany, Jill was always very reserved about her personal life, much to the impact her mental disorder had to her memories. All we know is that Jill, a huge fan of bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Lamb of God, started her musical journey as a child performing opera in Upstate New York, and that as a teenager she traveled to Europe taking on coloratura soprano roles and was awarded a scholarship to the American Musical Dramatic Academy in Manhattan. She was such an intense musician that even during her relatively short career she was able to make a significant impact on the scene, taking part of several amazing projects and bands since the beginning. For instance, Jill, who was a trained opera singer according to several sources, was not only the voice for Huntress, but also the singer for acts such as Chelsea Girls, Vexy Strut, Under the Covers and The Starbreakers, not to mention her future project that was going to be called Victory: The Rock Opera, and her time as a Playboy model and as a topless DJ, being known as either Penelope Tuesdae or simply Tuesdae in some of these endeavors.

In regards to her career with Huntress, and I might say that I personally consider Jill and Huntress to be one single entity, the band was “unofficially” founded in 2007 when Jill released two demo songs, those being Back from the Dead to Kill and Call of the Wild, to be used as “bait” for potential musicians for her band. It was in 2010 when Jill joined forces with underground Heavy Metal band Professor in Highland Park, California to finally form the Huntress we learned to admire, always true to the roots of Heavy Metal with hints of Thrash, Death and Black Metal and with Jill being responsible for the vocal duties with her breathtaking Amazonian-inspired 4-octave vocal range as well as for the lyrics, releasing right away a three-song EP titled Off with Her Head, containing the songs Off With Her Head, Hollow Hills and The Creeper. Singing about occult and obscure topics such as witchcraft, sorcery and witch hunters, Huntress then released three incendiary full-length albums in the span of four years, starting with their debut opus Spell Eater, in 2012, followed by Starbound Beast, in 2013, and finally Static, in 2015, leading the band to tour the world as a supporting act to several metal heavyweights like Lamb of God, Arch Enemy, Kreator, Amon Amarth, Killswitch Engage, Testament, Danzig, Trivium, Sabaton and Dragonforce. You can purchase all three albums directly from their BandCamp page, and remember Jill’s extraordinary voice on YouTube with the videos for the songs Sorrow, Zenith, Spell Eater and Flesh.

In an interview Jill gave to a metal webzine from Brazil called Portal do Inferno in 2014 (you can check the full interview HERE in both Brazilian Portuguese and English), she explained the band’s discography as her spiritual journey through three elements and a tribute to the Goddess in her three forms, the maiden, the mother, and the crone, with each one of her three albums representing one of those elements. Spell Eater was the maiden, sounding ferocious and raw; Starbound Beast was the mother, more thoughtful and showcasing better musicianship and songwriting; and Static was the crone, being vicious, brutal and consequently heavier and darker. During that same interview, Jill provided some details about her partnership with the one and only Lemmy Kilmister (R.I.P.), who wrote the lyrics for the excellent song I Want to Fuck You to Death from the album Starbound Beast. Jill said they were good friends, that they would meet at the Rainbow in Los Angeles for drinks, that one day she asked him to write a song for her and, voilà, Lemmy gave her two pieces of paper with the lyrics to the song, which according to Jill herself was at that time “the most romantic thing a man had ever done to her.”

Furthermore, if live performances are your cup of tea, or in other words, if you deeply need to see an artist or band playing live to know if they’re actually good, you can have a really good time watching some live footage from Jill and her Huntress on YouTube, such as their acoustic version for Blood Sisters in 2013 at the 100.3 the X studios, which by the way was the first time ever the band has done a live acoustic performance; a live version of the song Spell Eater in 2012; their performance of the song Senecide at the Tidal Wave Festival 2012 in San Francisco, California (courtesy of Capital Chaos TV); and the song The Tower live at First Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2012, on tour with Dragonforce. Hence, it’s ass-kicking performances like those that will keep the name of Jill Janus resonating in the air waves through the years.

Her contribution to other metal and rock bands and projects was also superb, with the most interesting one being the Los Angeles-based all-female supergroup The Starbreakers, comprised of Jill on vocals together with guitarists Nita Strauss (We Start Wars, Alice Cooper, Iron Maidens) and Courtney Cox (Iron Maidens, Femme Fatale), bassist Emily Ruvidich (Paradise Kitty, Misty Day), and drummer Lindsay Martin (We Start Wars, Wasi Wasi, The Aviators). Formed in 2017, the main goal of those five blonde metallers was simply to rock like there’s no tomorrow by playing songs from their metal heroes, and there are plenty of videos on YouTube for you to have a sonic blast with the girls. For example, you can check them kicking some serious ass by playing several classics such as Judas Priest’s all-time metal hymn Painkiller and Dio’s undisputed hit Holy Diver at The Viper Room, in West Hollywood on March 11, 2017, during their first ever live performance; Metallica’s roaring tune Master of Puppets also at The Viper Room in 2017; and Megadeth’s breathtaking classic Hangar 18 at Whisky A Go Go, in West Hollywood earlier this year.

All her other projects are just as fun and interesting, starting with the Chelsea Girls, an all-girl cover band formed by Jill together with Samantha Maloney (Hole, Motley Crüe), Allison Robertson (The Donnas), and Corey Parks (Nashville Pussy), with the band’s name referencing an Andy Warhol flick. She was also the vocalist (under the name Tuesdae) for Vexy Strut from 2003 to 2006, a New York-based Hard Rock band where all other band members were guys, playing music in the veins of Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses with overtly sexual and cocky lyrics; she sang along with Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) in an acoustic project called Under the Covers for a while (and you can check some photos of the duo HERE); and last but not least, Jill and Angus Clark of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra have recently announced a “Rock n’ Roll romance of innocence and lust” named Victory: The Rock Opera, telling the tale of Victory, an internet sensation and a social media superstar whose God-like reach has given hope to the desolate and deranged. There are some demos available on their official website, but no one knows for sure what will happen with the entire project after Jill’s death. Apart from her career as a singer, as aforementioned she was also a topless DJ under the pseudonym Penelope Tuesdae, and if you’re curious to see what she was like at that time you can check some NSFW photos HERE, as well as a behind the scenes photo shoot on Vimeo. If you think Jill was ashamed of her endeavor as a topless DJ, you’re absolutely wrong. “I was living in New York City and needed cash. So I learned how to DJ, but added a gimmick to make more money. I did it topless. A few years later, I have Playboy to thank for legitimizing topless DJ’ing as a lucrative business, although I quit when Vexy Strut was formed. That was my goal all along – to get your attention as a singer and songwriter. So what – I showed you my boobs. Mission accomplished!”, said our diva in one of her interviews.

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Jill’s standpoint regarding her classical music and opera background is also very interesting, as she told Portal do inferno during the same interview mentioned  before that she was always listening to opera singers and classical music, especially Maria Callas due to her vocal richness and skills, that her classical training helped her support her metal voice, and that she was very strict separating metal from opera. The reason for that split was that she never liked Symphonic Metal, calling it “easy listening” metal, showing she was indeed a tough old school metalhead with great passion for the more straightforward, ass-kicking and no-shenanigans-nor-preservatives type of metal. As a matter of fact, just take a listen at any of the Huntress albums and you’ll notice there’s nothing there that’s not deeply rooted in old school metal and rock music, and that’s one of the reasons why she was so loved by several icons like Lemmy and Halford.

When asked about being a female artist in an environment mostly dominated by men, she said she loved being the only girl on tour, calling the rest of the band and all other bands as her brothers, who used to take good care of her. She was also asked to give some advice to any female metal singers starting their careers, and her answer to that was quite direct: she said any girl should go after her vocal coach Melissa Cross, who has already worked with tons of other amazing vocalists such as Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Angela Gossow, former singer for Arch Enemy, due to the exceptional job she does with singers, warming them up, training them, teaching them how to take good care of their voices, among other awesome tips and activities. She also said during that same interview she was never afraid of using her sexuality and sex appeal to draw her listeners “close to the flame”, as she considered herself a witch and a pagan, becoming very natural for her to be nude. I have to admit being naked was something so natural and easy for her it was far from being something dirty or porn, but simply the way she found to better connect to her inner self and to nature itself.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to write a tribute to Jill now without talking about her recent death on August 14 this year (check this video summarizing this sad event HERE). She had always been very open over the years about her mental illness in the form of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder and alcoholism, which resulted in several struggles throughout her life. Also diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2015 while the band was working on Static, she was able to win that personal battle after undergoing a hysterectomy, being declared cancer-free later. In an interview to Revolver, she described how the schizoaffective disorder evolved into full schizophrenia, which affected her in her 20’s and continued until her death. She said “I was suicidal constantly. I was very suicidal early on in my life. Then in my mid-20’s, it shifted to full-blown mania, where I can’t really remember much of my 20’s. I can’t remember anybody from high school, either. I lost my long-term memory and can’t remember names, faces, or even places. We’ll be at a venue on tour and Blake will be, like, ‘We’ve played here two times before,’ but I’ll have no recollection.” Jill told Psychology Today in a 2015 interview that she attempted suicide for the first time at the age of 16 “with a pair of scissors. I was getting mandatory counseling at school but didn’t see a psychiatrist until I was 20,” she said. “I was then diagnosed manic-depressive and participated in a medical study at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.” She was eventually diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, telling Psychology Today “I’ve always seen and heard things others couldn’t. Many visions or dreams would manifest into reality, which my family and friends described as my ‘psychic ability.’ This caused more drama at school, being called a ‘freak’ and getting beaten up. When I was 17, the visions and encounters with ‘other-worldly creatures’ was almost a daily occurrence.”

Some of the most interesting and peculiar parts of her interview with Psychology Today are a very good depiction of how serious any type of mental illness can be, impacting not only the life of the person suffering from it but also everyone else living around this person. For instance, one of the ways that her mental illness manifested was that she created different “characters” or “identities” and was eventually diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Dissociative identity disorder is characterized as having two or more distinct personality states. People often forget parts of their life as they cannot recall experiences from one personality state when they are in a distinct, separate personality state. She described these different “characters” this way: “As a child, I had a very active imagination and would pretend to be characters I created. This seems normal for a kid, but then I started seeing these characters and they’d take over my body. It felt like being possessed like in the movies. I could shed it easily as a child, but when I hit my 20’s, it became very difficult to shake it.” She complemented by saying “I spent 10 years as ‘Penelope Tuesday,’ the persona I initially created to conceal my true identity as I worked the NYC nightlife scene. I cannot remember much of my life during those years, except through stories from my friends and family. I was manic, fiercely ambitious and slept very little. I was not drinking or abusing drugs during my time in New York. My family became very worried and moved me home to get help after discovering I had breast-augmentation surgery. But I wasn’t aware that I had done this until a few weeks later when I snapped back to reality and saw I had breast implants. It was terrifying. I spent time at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, New York, and was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (dissociative identity disorder).”

She also explained how the bias manifested in her youth. “I was embarrassed about being perceived as ‘crazy.’ As a kid I was made to feel bad or was bullied for being different. As a child, I would make up things about myself to avoid seeming odd. This coping tactic got more intense after college and then I felt other personalities taking hold,” she said. “I used an alias for most of my life, keeping who I really was hidden. Only now am I capable of letting go of my various identities, but it’s still painful to feel vulnerable.” As time went on, she was able to find treatments that were effective in managing her mood and psychotic symptoms. She also said the combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy was effective for her. Cognitive-behavioral therapy often includes examining how one’s thoughts and behaviors may influence emotions and well-being, and how modifying thoughts and behaviors can improve clinical outcomes. In addition to that, she also found that her music was influential in her coping. Her experience is supported by research that shows that music therapy improves clinical outcomes among individuals with mental illness, including schizophrenia and mood disorders. “Music saved my life. My mother says I was singing before I could speak. I knew my purpose as soon as I could talk. It was always music. I relate to the mathematics behind music, it soothes my brain and helps me cope with my various disorders,” she said. “By the time I was 10, I was performing in operas and musicals. My vocal range developed quickly. I was using four octaves by 13. The discipline and focus was beyond my years. But I’ve never had much patience for people. I was always one step ahead. Music is the only way I ever knew how to cope.”

And you can notice how much Jill loved her music and metal in general, and how open she always was about her mental condition, by watching several interviews with her on Youtube, such as her chat with Brittney Patton in 2016 where she talks about mental illness, artwork, sobriety and other topics; talking about touring and her childhood to Rock Hard Megazine in 2012; an interview to Yell! Magazine during Heavy MTL in 2013; a two-part interview filmed by JAM Magazine on tour backstage at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas on November 2, 2013 (check part one HERE and part two HERE); an interview to Jeanette LeBlanc from The Heavy Press after a Huntress show at The Kool Haus, in Toronto in 2013; or simply watch this EPK published by Huntress in 2012 where Jill talks about the band and their music.

After Jill’s passing this August, several renowned artists and bands from the rock and metal scene shared their shock and sadness on social media, such as Rob Halford, Lzzy Hale, Alex Skolnick, johan Hegg, Starkill, DragonForce, Otep, Randy Blythe, Cristina Scabbia, Alissa White-Gluz, and obviously her boyfriend, bandmate and partner in crime Blake Meahl, among many, many others as you can see HERE and HERE, showing how respected, loved and admired Jill was her entire life and career, and that she was never alone despite all her mental issues. Having said that, if you or someone you know and love might be at risk of suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (or use the Lifeline Chat) if you’re in the United States, reach out to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention if you live here in Canada, or any other support number or website from this international list of suicide crisis lines no matter where you are located in the world.

Jill Janus’ Official Instagram
Jill Janus’ Official Twitter
Huntress’ Official Facebook page
Huntress’ Official Twitter

“Once you decide to choose your purpose and live only for that purpose, that is when you will find success, and right now Huntress is it. I’m married to heavy metal and that is all that I have.” – Jill Janus

Album Review – Meka Nism / The War Inside EP (2018)

One of the most promising new names of the Orlando metal scene strikes again with an electrifying EP of modern-day Alternative Rock and Metal.

Formed back in 2006 under the name of Meka Nism and Her Rusty Tears, Orlando-based Alternative Metal act Meka Nism strikes again with a brand new EP titled The War Inside, following the same pattern of modern and metallic sounds from their three previous releases, those being their 2016 live album Live From the Machine,  the 2015 EP The Shift, and their 2013 debut EP The Dance at the End of the World, not to mention the 2006 album Mad to Love (released under the band’s original name).  Having shared the stage with heavyweight bands like Mastodon, Gojira, Sevendust, Hellyeah and Otep, among others, along with festival appearances at Kink Festival (Orlando, Florida), SXSW (Austin, Texas) and Breeding Festival (Germany), and named Orlando’s #1 Metal Band by Orlando Weekly in 2016, Meka Nism continue to carve their name in the scene, solidifying the band as one of the most interesting new names in Alternative Rock and Metal.

Comprised of vocalist Ms. Meka Nism (or simply Meka), who by the way was the former guitar player for Orlando punk legends Dirty Barby and Angel Autopsy, guitarists Bobby Keller and Danny Arrieta, bassist Jarret Robinson, keyboardist Jay Adkisson and drummer Nick Colvin, Meka Nism offer in The War Inside five distinct songs of passion and hatred, war and peace, sanity and madness, all embraced by the band’s modern and captivating sonority and led by Meka’s powerful vocals. If you’re searching for a nice female-fronted alternative in modern metal music, Meka Nism have all it takes to captivate your senses, with the music found in The War Inside being the perfect depiction of what this American six-piece squad is capable of.

The smooth keys by Jay Adkisson ignite the melodic and fresh title-track The War Inside, where Bobby and Danny are in total sync with their electrified riffs while Meka beautifully declaims the song’s passionate words (“Fighting Through the War Inside / Reaching from the chaos / Wait for me, I’ll wait for you / Nothing can keep us apart / Wait for me, I will find you!”). Less modernized and alternative, These Years of Silent Screams leans towards more traditional Heavy Metal, a neck-breaking tune by Meka Nism with the band’s eccentric frontwoman showcasing an amazing vocal performance. Then it’s time to slam into the pit together with the band in Trailblazer, led by the potent and precise drums by Nick, alternating between heavier moments and lighter, inspiring parts. Moreover, both guitars come slashing our skin mercilessly, while Meka thrives with both her demented growls and her clean vocals; and the keys by Jay help build a soothing ambience in Arrows of Alchemy, accompanied by the rumbling bass by Jarret in a semi-ballad that will please fans of the genre and that could easily be played on any rock n’ roll radio show, ending in a classy and touching way. And lastly, Black Sky (It’s Not Over Yet) is another song that begins as a heavy ballad highlighting Meka’s smooth voice and Jay’s enfolding piano notes, evolving into a heavier but still melancholic sonority before its poetic ending to the voice of Meka.

You can take a detailed listen at The War Inside on Spotify, follow Meka Nism on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase the EP from their own BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from iTunes, Amazon or CD Baby. After listening to The War Inside, it will become clear to you as to why Meka Nism were chosen the best metal band based in Orlando by Orlando Weekly a couple of years ago, pointing to a bright future ahead for the band’s red-haired shaman and her loyal bandmates and leaving us eager for more of their music (and perhaps their first full-length album) in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Trailblazer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. The War Inside 4:49
2. These Years of Silent Screams 3:32
3. Trailblazer 4:32
4. Arrows of Alchemy 5:22
5. Black Sky (It’s Not Over Yet) 4:03

Band members
Ms. Meka Nism (Meka) – vocals
Bobby Keller – lead guitar
Danny Arrieta – rhythm guitar
Jarret Robinson – bass
Jay Adkisson – keys
Nick Colvin – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Mallika Sundaramurthy

Eat the dead, cut the flesh!

Let’s turn up the heat on this last month of summer here on The Headbanging Moose with some old school, gory and extremely violent Death Metal, and in order to do that in style we have “recruited” the unstoppable Mallika Sundaramurthy, frontwoman for American Technical/Brutal Death Metal band Abnormality, as our metal chick of the month. Born in Gardner, a city in Worcester County, Massachusetts, in the United States, but currently residing in Prague, the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic (or Czechia), Mallika is not only the owner of a potent voice, but she’s also absolutely passionate for all things Death Metal, being a huge supporter of underground metal as a fan, as a musician and as a businesswoman as well. Having said that, get ready to slam into a vicious circle pit together with Mallika, because things are about to get as savage and heavy as hell.

Half Indian and half English-American, with her father coming from Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu on the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, and her mother being from New Hampshire, a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, Mallika is married to Russian musician Serge Gordeev, from Death Metal bands like Epicardiectomy and Fleshbomb. As you can see, pure Death Metal runs through the veins of the couple, which led to the creation of their own label Ultimate Massacre Productions. But before we talk about their label, let’s focus on the early days of Mallika, who has been playing in Death Metal bands since 2002, a couple of years after she graduated from Gardner High School, located in Gardner, Massachusetts. While Mallika was giving her first steps in extreme music, she was at the same time studying illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, in Boston, Massachusetts, which she graduated in 2004. And that knowledge she gained through her studies was not in vain, becoming a fundamental part of her up-and-coming career.

Regarding her career as a musician, Mallika got into Heavy Metal during her high school years. In the beginning, Mallika was more into classic rock and metal the likes of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Alice in Chains, with her taste for heavier and more brutal music growing after she started listening to the pulverizing Death Metal by Deicide and Cannibal Corpse. By the way, becoming a fan of Death Metal was the main reason why she decided to do extreme vocals, which is pretty much the same path followed by anyone who chooses to play an instrument based on their favorite bands and styles. And just as a side note, our ruthless growler joined her first metal band while studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, but there aren’t any details available online about that part of her career.

What you will for sure find online are all details about her history with her own Death Metal band, Massachusetts-based squad Abnormality, formed in late 2005 by Mallika together with guitarist Jeremy Henry, drummer Jay Blaisdell and guitarist Michael O’Meara (who left the band in 2009), with bassist Josh Staples joining the band in 2009 and guitarist Sam Kirsch in 2015 to complete their current lineup. The band strives to make high quality extreme music without worrying about conforming to certain boundaries or styles, having released to date a four-track demo in 2007 (including the song Visions, which found its way onto the popular video game Rock Band 2 as a bonus track), a three-track EP titled The Collective Calm in Mortal Oblivion in 2010, and the full-length albums Contaminating the Hive Mind in 2012, and Mechanisms of Omniscience in 2016. If you want to have a very good taste of all the brutality and electricity flowing from the music by Abnormality, you can check for instance their official videos on YouTube for the songs Mechanisms of Omniscience, Monarch Omega, and Fabrication of the Enemy, or even take a more detailed listen at their full discography at their own BandCamp page (which obviously means you should also buy their albums from there). Furthermore, Mallika mentioned in one of her interviews that Abnormality did a cover version for the classic Desperate Cry by Sepultura at the formation of the band when she joined a band named Teratism on stage, impressing their then members Jay and Michael (culminating with the creation of Abnormality, as you can see), also playing other cover songs live over the years such as Eric Clapton’s Cocaine and Death’s The Philosopher, but never including any of those in their recorded material. Finally, one last interesting note about Abnormality is that their first concert ever happened in 2006 at a house party organized by their drummer Jay, including the bands Dehumanized, Sexcrement and Soul Remnants. That was probably one hell of a demolishing Death Metal party, I must say.

Apart from Abnormality, Mallika, who takes care of her potent voice by doing usual things like getting proper rest, keeping her throat hydrated and avoiding alcohol, is also the frontwoman for American Death Metal all-female band Castrator, an international project formed in 2013 and based in New York City with members from distinct parts of the earth such as Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Colombia and the United States. As you can see by the name of the band, Castrator is a confrontational band, with all of the song titles found in their 2014 demo and 2015 EP, both titled No Victim, being some sort of feminist revenge fantasy, such as Honor Killing and The Emasculator. Mallika explained that the band was born when her friend Carolina Perez, drummer for American Death/Thrash Metal act Hypoxia, expressed the desire to form an all-female band, aiming at writing aggressive music, playing some devastating concerts, and have fun together above all things. She also mentioned it was important to bring up through the horror and intensity of their lyrics the issues and struggles women from all over of the world face every single day, in particular parts of the world where women’s rights are far behind. When writing the lyrics, Mallika researched and read countless stories and documentaries of individual cases of honor killings, as well as violence, rape, and murder against women, translating all that hatred and negative thoughts into Death Metal lyrics. In order to be smashed by Castrator, go check their BandCamp page, where you’ll be able to listen to (and to buy) the austere and utterly brutal tunes Honor Killing, No Victim and The Emasculator.

Our relentless growler was also part of American Technical/Brutal Death Metal band Parasitic Extirpation from 2011 until 2015, with whom she recorded the EP Putrid Crown, in 2014. You can enjoy Mallika kicking some serious ass in this also very interesting band with the title-track Putrid Crown,  and all other tracks directly from their BandCamp page. And even with all her duties with Abnormality, Castrator and Parasitic Extirpation, she still found time to be part of several other bands and projects as a guest musician, like singing live for British Technical Brutal Death Metal unity Unfathomable Ruination, in 2017; and being a guest studio singer in the songs Circumcised with a Chainsaw, from the 2013 album Skewered in the Sewer by Indian Brutal Death Metal act Gutslit; the title-track The Redemption of Past Supremacy, from the 2012 album The Redemption of Past Supremacy by American Brutal Death Metal act Habitual Defilement; Endless Outrage, from the 2016 album Ouroboric Stagnation by International Brutal Death Metal act Neurogenic;    Dies Irae…, from the 2013 album Lords of Rephaim by America Brutal Death Metal act Pathology; Tower Deflower, from the 2012 album Festering Human Remains by America Death Metal act Scaphism; the superb cover version for Pat Benatar’s Heartbreaker, from the 2014 EP XXX Bargain Bin Vol​.​2 by American Death Metal act Sexcrement; and Incinerator, from the 2013 album Black and Blood by American Death Metal act Soul Remnants. As you can see, all those songs are beyond brutal and demolishing, exactly the way good Death Metal is supposed to be.

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With respect to Mallika’s main influences in music, she’s a diehard and longtime fan of several renowned acts of the Extreme Metal scene such as Suffocation, Gorgasm, Decapitated, Immolation, Cryptopsy, Cannibal Corpse, Monstrosity, Carcass and Morbid Angel, among several others, with American Death Metal masters Hate Eternal, standing out among their influences if you take a detailed listen at their music. Questioned about which album she would take to her own grave, Mallika answered Pierced from Within, released in 1995 by American Technical Death Metal band Suffocation, and while listening to that album it makes total sense as to why she handpicked it instead of tons of other classics. Needless to say, Suffocation would obviously be part of her dream metal fest lineup, also including bands such as Immolation, Deeds of Flesh, Cryptopsy (with Lord Worm), Origin, Malignancy, Monstrosity, Vader, Gorgust, Wormed, Defeated Sanity, Napalm Death, Incantation, Vile, Decapitated, Hate Eternal, Nile, Krisiun, Devourment, and so on. And lastly, when asked to list the five albums any metalhead must have in his or her collection to have a deeper understanding of what Brutal and Technical Death Metal is all about, Mallika selected Close to a World Below by Immolation, Effigy of the Forgotten by Suffocation, Altars of Madness by Morbid Angel, She Lay Gutted by Disgorge, and Masticate to Dominate by Gorgasm. Also, when questioned about what inspires her and the rest of Abnormality when writing their lyrics, she said that the whole band enjoys writing about current events at home and abroad, conspiracies, and their contempt for the New World Order, as well as other things in their lives, in their imagination, science fiction and fact, corruption, and time travel, always focusing on the darker side of humanity and never afraid to take a political stand. Of course, Mallika considers real life horror far worse than anything imagined in fiction, albeit she also thinks those monsters in fiction reflect that same dark side of our own humanity and the evils that we are capable of.

Mallika’s business side together with her utter passion for extreme music are an essential piece of Ultimate Massacre Productions, an extreme music label managed by Mallika herself and her husband Serge Gordeev, originally founded in 2012 by Serge as a licensed merch supplier for metal bands. After her arrival and after taking on Mexico’s Human Decomposition as their first signed band, the project propelled to a new and promising direction, which could be seen in her own words at that time. “We thought it would be great to build the label together, combining our collective experience and passion for music to grow Ultimate Massacre,” she said, also mentioning that “our main goal is to spread great music that we ourselves love, and to help the bands on our roster to reach new levels.” Mallika and Serge work endlessly for the joys that art brings with it, putting a lot of effort and passion into making the label a genuine home for underground extreme bands. Based in Prague, the label has increased their portfolio considerably through the years, including today bands such as Apophys, Incontinence, Chordotomy, Fungus, Imperium and Natrium. Hence, if you consider yourself a true death metaller, you can keep an eye at their official Facebook page for new kick-ass bands and releases from the underground Death Metal scene.

As aforementioned, Mallika is a huge admirer and connoisseur of underground metal music, saying she’s fine with a huge part of metal music staying underground mainly because it’s extreme and offensive, and therefore not recommended for mainstream listeners. However, she also said it’s extremely difficult to survive in the underground scene, as the majority of underground musicians have to have income coming from other sources such as day jobs despite their passion and dedication to heavy music. Well, having to face issues like that doesn’t seem to be a problem for musicians like Mallika, because the underground scene at least in the United States seems to be very strong to her eyes, with lots of great bands keeping the flames of extreme music burning bright in her homeland. For instance, she recommends bands like Malignancy, Disgorge, Dehumanized, Bloodsoaked, Guttural Secrete, Goemagot, Sapremia, Habitual Defilement and Expurgate for starters, and from her hometown she thinks you should take a good listen at Revocation, Sexcrement, Dysentery, Hivesmasher, Scalpel, Scaphism, Soul Remnants, and many, many more. She also mentioned she believes that classifications in metal such as Deathcore, Power Metal, Blackened Death Metal and so on are necessary to help listeners find new bands according to their likes and dislikes, as long as people are not carried away with creating new subgenres. Furthermore, Mallika has a very peculiar view on how many people nowadays end up knowing new bands through illegal downloads, as she understands that albeit illegal downloads are inevitable due to several reasons such as lack of money for buying all the music downloaded, those fans need to realize the bands depend on that money to stay alive, but as long as they support the bands in other ways like attending their concerts, buying a shirt or listening to their music for free on Spotify or YouTube, some sort of balance can be reached.

When asked about how she feels being a woman in a male-dominated scene like Death Metal, Mallika said she has always felt good, always having a good time with her bands since the beginning of her career. She mentioned there are more and more talented and hardworking women making a name for themselves in the Death Metal scene, being really proud of them and supporting them whenever and however she can. She said it’s not easy to be a woman in metal as there’s a lot of sexism in the world and even more discouragement for a woman to be part of the extreme music scene; however, she hopes one day that will end, and it will become something we won’t even think about discussing as men and women will just be equal in numbers and in talent. If you think about names like Angela Gossow, Tarja Turunen, Simone Simons, Doris Yeh, Cristina Scabbia and Alissa White-Gluz, not to mention all the other ladies who put their hearts and souls into making first-class metal music from all parts of the world, I also believe we’re not that far from reaching Mallika’s dream.

Last but not least, Mallika is as aforementioned a professional graphic and concept artist in the video game industry, having already worked for Harmonix Music Systems (the company that created the Rock Band franchise) for four years, and later becoming a freelance artist and working for a company called Techona as a graphic artist since earlier this year. Regarding her time with Harmonix, Mallika provided a few interesting details about how Abnormality got involved in the game Rock Band 2 with the song Visions. While she was working on the game together with a team of artists, the company allowed employees to submit music for consideration to be entered into the game; at first she didn’t want to do it, but the rest of Abnormality asked her to try, and in the end the company picked their music to be one of the songs of the game together with a lot less violent (or I should say not violent at all) bands like Bon Jovi, Avenged Sevenfold and Blondie. Needless to say, Mallika is not only passionate about Death Metal, but also crazy for old school Death Metal album arts, dark fantasy and surrealism, being inspired by artists such as Zdzisław Beksiński, Wayne Barlowe, and Dan Seagrave. As a matter of fact, you can easily see all that passion for abstract art and surrealism in the Abnormality album arts, all designed and created by our obstinate growler herself, as well as the cover art for the 2012 split album Phylum Morph-Apokalupsis by American Brutal Death Metal/Grindcore bands Animals Killing People and Andromorphus Rexalia, the layout and cover art for the 2016 album Eon by American Technical Death Metal band Formless, and the cover art for the 2013 EP One Inch Monster by Swedish Thrash Metal act Sonic Assault. As talented, honest and diligent as she is, being capable of screaming and gnarling like a beast with her band and of translating all the violence and gore of Death Metal into stunning album arts, it’s more than obvious why Mallika has turned into a reference in extreme music, and may she have a long and prosperous reign as our queen of guttural vocals.

Mallika Sundaramurthy’s Official Facebook page
Mallika Sundaramurthy’s Official Twitter
Mallika Sundaramurthy’s Official YouTube channel
Mallika Sundaramurthy’s Official Instagram
Abnormality’s Official Facebook page
Abnormality’s Official Twitter
Abnormality’s Official YouTube channel
Abnormality’s Official Instagram

“I see there are many more talented women stepping up the plate in the death metal scene. I am really proud of my fellow ladies who are kicking ass, and I call many of them friends. I DO personally go out of my way to support women in metal, especially those who work hard, carry themselves professionally, and play really well. I know it’s not easy. There is so much sexism in the world, and we women are so often discouraged from taking part of the extreme metal scene.” – Mallika Sundaramurthy

Album Review – Jollymon / Void Walker (2018)

A lesson in groove, electricity and punch by an American Stoner Metal power trio reborn from the ashes in the name of Rock N’ Roll.

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, more specifically from Vancouver, a city on the north bank of the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington, Stoner Metal outfit Jollymon has just released their fifth full-length album titled Void Walker, their first in eighteen years and a lesson in groove, electricity and punch. Comprised of frontman and songwriter Carey Rich on vocals and bass, John Colgate on guitar and vocals, and Mark Blackburn on drums, Jollymon were originally formed in Eugene, Oregon, releasing their debut full-length album, Sailing, in 1995, followed by a stream of high-quality albums until the band exploded in 2000 with no plans to return, until the power trio began to talk, jam and work on a batch of songs that would become their newborn child. “Whereas the previous four records were more grungy rock songs, the material on Void Walker is more on the metal side. But, we managed to keep the space-rock element, and even turned it up,” comments Carey on the band’s shift of direction with Void Walker.

Another thing Carey notices about Void Walker compared to the band’s previous releases is that the album is clearer and better produced. “We’ve come full circle with our recording approach. The first and second albums had great studio gear with Grammy-nominated producer Drew Canulette running the show. However, the third was a lesser studio done on more of a budget. And, the fourth album, our self-titled one, was a home studio recording. Sure, it sounds good, but you can definitely hear the quality difference between it and Void Walker – or even our first two records, for that matter.” He also explained that the album is entitled Void Walker because it is what Jollymon’s name should be. “Void Walker is a kind of symbol of what our sound is. It’s hard to describe, because it’s really left up to the imagination, which has been more of what we are: less wordy, forced lyrics, but simple imaginative shorelines with an epic soundtrack to back whatever is said.”

Old school ass-kicking Rock N’ Roll permeates the atmosphere in the psychedelic and catchy opening track Tsunami, led by the deep vocals by Carey while John mesmerizes us all with his wicked riffs and solos, followed by Monkeyhawk, where an eccentric intro turns into a very progressive tune, with John’s guitar lines being flawlessly complemented by Mark’s groovy beats, not to mention the song’s wicked lyrics, something you can only find in Sludge Metal (“Monkeyhawks not black or white, makin love giving life to fire, Monkeyhawk baby sings a song, its gonna make me cry, its gonna make me cry…”). And inspired by the potent and unique music by Mastodon, the trio fires a dancing-headbanging-beer-drinking extravaganza titled A Good Day, with Corey showcasing an awesome vocal performance while Mark’s precise drumming keeps the rhythm vibrant and entertaining from start to finish.

Less piercing and more rhythmic, Be Nice presents the band’s “softer” side in a 70’s-inspired Rock N’ Roll vibe, perfect for warming up the night at a rock pub anywhere in the world (and you’ll definitely feel compelled to sing the chorus along with them). After that classic rock tune we have Slice of Life, perhaps the most psychedelic of all songs, where the trio extracts pure groove form their instruments, in special John with his hypnotizing guitar while Mark is responsible for bringing heat to the musicality; followed by Forecast, where all you need to do is simply close your eyes and let Jollymon guide you on a whimsical music journey. John is simply superb with his sick guitar solos, and the music remains ethereal and captivating until its gentle ending for our total delight.

The metallic bass lines by Corey ignite the rockin’ feast Missile Commander, another solid composition by the band with John and Mark being in absolute sync, therefore providing Corey all he needs to thrive on vocals, whereas the title-track Void Walker is a flawless fusion of Stoner and Progressive Metal, proudly representing the high quality of the music found in the entire album with an electrifying vibe morphing into Progressive Rock beautifully, all in line with the song’s enthralling lyrics (“Here we go away through the sky, / here we go wade through the fields, / wondering where are lives, are drifting / away through the wheel. / With wings so wide and no room to soar, / before you can fly, you must find the floor. / A picture of the rain, when it falls it won’t feel the same.”). And last but not least, the closing song of the album, entitled Sky Burial, is just as pleasant and soulful as its predecessors, with John kicking some serious ass with his fiery guitar solos.

Do you want to surf the rockin’ waves blasted by Jollymon and show your appreciation for such distinct underground band? You can follow them on Facebook, listen to more of their music on YouTube, and grab your copy of Void Walker (which by the way you can listen in full on Spotify) from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Amazon or from CD Baby. Let’s hope Jollymon don not explode again after the release of Void Walker, but based on the awesomeness found in the album and the way the band is facing this new phase in their career I’m pretty sure we don’t have to worry about that at all. Quite the contrary, those three dauntless musicians will surely keep on rockin’ in our free world and keep marveling us all with their sensational music.

Best moments of the album: Monkeyhawk, A Good Day and Void Walker.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Tsunami 3:48
2. Monkeyhawk 4:43
3. A Good Day 3:56
4. Be Nice 3:46
5. Slice of Life 3:50
6. Forecast 4:07
7. Missile Commander 2:35
8. Void Walker 4:50
9. Sky Burial 5:02

Band members
Carey Rich – vocals, bass
John Colgate – guitar, vocals
Mark Blackburn – drums

Album Review – Godsmack / When Legends Rise (2018)

A rollercoaster of good and bad moments in the band’s first effort away from more traditional Heavy Metal into a softer and exaggeratedly radio-friendly Hard Rock sound.

Almost four years after the release of the incendiary 1000hp, American Alternative Rock/Metal icons Godsmack are back in action with When Legends Rise, the seventh studio album in their solid career, and their first effort away from more traditional Heavy Metal into a softer and exaggeratedly radio-friendly Hard Rock sound. And when I say “exaggeratedly radio-friendly” I’m not exaggerating (not sure if I’m allowed to use that word and its variations so many times in just a couple of lines), because not only When Legends Rise doesn’t bring the same horsepower, rage and heaviness of 1000hp, but it sounds and feels way too mellow and generic compared to everything they’ve already released since their inception.

As early as 2015, frontman and guitarist Sully Erna spoke of his will to create a new sound for Godsmack in their next album, later describing the album in 2017 as a “reinvention” for the band, as a “new chapter” juxtaposed against older albums, of which he described as “vintage classic Godsmack”. Let’s say he succeeded and failed miserably at the same time, because it doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan of the band or if you’ve never heard of them before, as soon as you finish listening to the 11 tracks in When Legends Rise you won’t be able to tell if it was a good or bad experience so many highs and lows the entire album has. As a matter of fact, I guess if you follow Godsmack from the very beginning, the lowest moments of the album will make you feel extremely disappointed with this “new direction” chosen by Sully and his henchmen.

The tribal-like beats by Shannon Larkin kick off the best and most metal song of the entire album, the title-track When Legends Rise, which despite not being a masterpiece, it’s indeed a catchy and entertaining song led by the unique vocals by Sully, sounding as radio-friendly as the band wants but still bringing some of their old school aggressiveness. Then we have Bulletproof (if you’re a regular radio listener you might have heard it a billion times already), which is not that bad but with potential to be a lot better (and by that I mean heavier), with bassist Robbie Merrill doing a very good job in keeping the atmosphere dense and rumbling; followed by Unforgettable, probably the cheesiest song ever written by Godsmack, sounding way too happy for my taste and with the support choir by The Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook Choir being plain boring. Well, as I’ve mentioned a thousand times in this webzine, I hate generic choirs.

Every Part of Me presents hints of the sounding from their early days, especially through the melodious guitar lines by Tony Rombola, resulting in a very decent song that reminds us all of the potential Godsmack is throwing away by trying to sound more mainstream than they should, while Take It to the Edge sounds quite similar to its predecessor, but with heavier and more piercing guitar and bass lines. Furthermore, it’s good to hear Sully screaming and sounding a little angrier, and albeit this is not their classic Alternative Metal it can be considered something like a well-crafted version of modern-day Hard Rock. After that interesting sequence of heavy tunes the band offers us the ballad Under Your Scars, and although I’ve complained about almost every song so far I must admit this is indeed a good one, mainly due to the beautiful job done by guest violinist Zvezdelina Haltakova and guest cellist Irina Chirkova. And in Someday, after a not-so-exciting start the music evolves to a harder but still generic sonority that goes on for too long, ruining what could have been a good Hard Rock song. In addition, a weak song such as this would have benefited a lot from a guitar solo, something the whole album lacks by the way, and something that really started to bother me after a few listens.

And the “genericism” found in When Legends Rise goes on in Just One Time, even with Robbie and Shannon bringing some decent groove to the music, saving it from being a total failure. Then we have the excellent Say My Name, proving that when Sully and his crew speed up their pace and deliver stronger, more austere lyrics, they sound a billion times better. Hence, together with the opening track, this is by far one of the best songs of the album, presenting flammable Rock N’ Roll guitar riffs and rhythmic beats, which unfortunately cannot be said about Let It Out, another so-so creation alternating between heavier moments and very bland passages. It might once again sound good on the radio for the average listener, but definitely not for Rock N’ Roll fans, with the biggest issue for me being that the sound of both guitars is really low, or even worse, almost nonexistent. Furthermore, what’s also very irritating in the entire album is that there are moments like the closing song Eye of the Storm where a very promising start morphs into tasteless rock music; however, the more aggressive pieces of the song save it from total damnation, not to mention that we finally have a guitar solo added to it.

In the end, after When Legends Rise (available for a full listen on Spotify), we have to agree with this article from the online publication The Top Tens listing Godsmack as one of the top 10 bands that aren’t metal according to Encyclopaedia Metallum, together with names such as Avenged Sevelfold, Disturbed, Korn and Rage Against The Machine, but at least those bands still deliver a significant amount of rage and rebelliousness through their music, as opposed to what Godsmack (unfortunately) did in their new album. And if that toned-down version of Hard Rock is the direction Sully Erna really wants to take from now on with his band to reach a “broader audience”, well, good luck with that. I’ll personally stick to their more vibrant material from Godsmack, Awake and 1000hp.

Best moments of the album: When Legends Rise, Take It to the Edge and Say My Name.

Worst moments of the album: Bulletproof, Unforgettable, Someday and Let It Out.

Released in 2018 Universal Music

Track listing
1. When Legends Rise 2:52
2. Bulletproof 2:57
3. Unforgettable 3:28
4. Every Part of Me 3:20
5. Take It to the Edge 3:15
6. Under Your Scars 3:51
7. Someday 4:44
8. Just One Time 3:09
9. Say My Name 3:38
10. Let It Out 3:41
11. Eye of the Storm 3:21

Band members
Sully Erna – vocals, guitar
Tony Rombola – lead guitar
Robbie Merrill – bass
Shannon Larkin – drums

Guest musicians
Zvezdelina Haltakova – violin on “Under Your Scars”
Irina Chirkova – cello on “Under Your Scars”
The Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook Choir – additional vocals on “Unforgettable”

Metal Chick of the Month – Margarita Monet

I wanna lose myself in you…

Attention, metalheads! It’s time for another metal chick of the month here on yours truly The Headbanging Moose, and this month let’s pay our humble tribute to an up-and-coming singer, pianist, composer and actress that truly knows how to blend the heaviness, madness and rage of Heavy Metal with the delicacy and feeling of classical music. Known for her powerful voice and incredible range, she’s the frontwoman and founder for American Hard Rock/Symphonic Metal band Edge Of Paradise. I’m talking about Margarita Monet, or Margarita Martirosyan if you prefer, born on February 15, 1990 in Yerevan, the capital and largest city of Armenia as well as one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, but who has been living in the United States since she was 11 years old.

Margarita moved from Armenia to Moscow, Russia at a very early age with her family, where she lived for about 10 years, starting music lessons at the age of four and quickly accelerating into a competitive and performance-ready pianist, competing and winning awards in numerous piano competitions. When she was 11 years old, her father (who is a scientist) got a job offer in Houston, Texas, in the United States, meaning her life was going to have a huge impact in regards to lifestyle and mindset. In Houston, she attended The High School For The Performing and Visual Arts, for musical theater, moving to New York shortly after where she got accepted into New York University’s Tisch School Of The Arts, majoring in Theater at the Meisner Studio and minoring in Music. While living in New York, she acted in off Broadway plays, independent short and feature films, and sang with local bands at the city’s clubs. In addition, as a teenager, Margarita used to go back to Russia during the summer seasons and did some performing and recording with concertos, being known within the community of people who follow classical mostly from competitions in the country.

It was in 2010 when our red-haired diva had another significant move in her life, heading to Los Angeles after getting interest from various acting agents in the city. Just a week after arriving in Hollywood, Margarita already joined a singing and dancing group and recorded on their album Angels De Amor, going solo after various live shows with that group. After going solo and starting working on original material for her first solo album, she met guitarist Dave Bates, who was in search of a singer who could replace Irish rock vocalist Robin McAuley (McAuley Schenker Group, Survivor) in their project named BLEED. Soon their music partnership created tremendous results and solidified the band that took up the new name, Edge Of Paradise.

With Edge Of Paradise, which by the way is the official band of Nashville Knights, a women’s American football team of the Legends Football League (LFL) based in Nashville, Tennessee, and part of Rockers Against Trafficking (a foundation created by Kevin Estrada to raise awareness about human trafficking), Margarita released their debut album Mask, in 2011, featuring a rhythm section consisting of Gregg Bissonette on drums and Tony Franklin on bass (coming in at #6 most added on national CMJ radio, right behind Machine Head and Five Finger Death Punch), the EP Perfect Shade Of Black, in 2013, the full-length Immortal Waltz, in 2015, co-produced by Bob Kulick (Kiss, Motörhead) and  Michael Wagener (and coming at #12 on national rock and metal radio charts), and the six-track EP ALIVE, in 2017. If you want to get a fun and pleasant overdose of the gorgeous vocals by Margarita, go to their official YouTube channel (or their VEVO channel as well) for songs such as Mistery, Dust To Dust, Shade Of Crazy, Rise For The Fallen, In A Dream, Break Away and Perfect Shade Of Black, or even for some treats such as their cover versions for Darlene Love’s 1963 song Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Sally’s Song Black Sabbath’s masterpiece Children of the Sea, Margarita’s voice-and-piano version for Scorpion’s all-time classic ballad Still Loving You, or the band’s live performance of the song Ghost at the Soultone Cymbals Studio in 2016. Thus, after listening to her stunning voice in all those songs, you’ll quickly understand why she was featured in Metalholic’s “Top 25 Women in Hard Rock and Metal” in 2012.

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Furthermore, as aforementioned, apart for her music career Margarita also has an acting and screen background going back to her New York days, including a part as a dancer in the 2009 short drama Alicia, playing a character called Amy in the 2010 action movie No Leaf Clover, and portraying an illegal prostitute in the 2011 documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, all under her birth name Margarita Martirosyan. Now with Margarita dedicating a huge share of her time to Edge Of Paradise, it’s uncertain if we’ll see her again on screen, but at least we can rest assured the band will keep shooting videos for their songs, which means more Margarita for our avid eyes and ears.

When asked about her biggest idols in beauty, fashion and music, Margarita provided some interesting and beyond awesome names in all fields. Her inspirations in the modelling and fashion business are first Audrey Hepburn, who she has admired since she was a kid due to her feminine, classy and effortless look and style, and also Doro Pesch and Joan Jett due to their edgier styles. When it comes to music, her list of icons is even more impressive, with unparalleled names such as Ronnie James Dio, Robert Plant, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury being her favorite ones due to their distinct and timeless sound, as well as their emotion, attitude and conviction when singing and performing.

Margarita doesn’t see herself as a fashion and make-up junkie, but more like a “creative junkie”, meaning that because of her role with Edge Of Paradise she always strives to create something different and attractive for the fans, leading her to experiment with different looks, and having the freedom to express herself through music and while performing on stage. Having said that, Margarita’s typical makeup and style signature can be considered a mix of Rock N’ Roll with a bit of Gothic fashion, blending leather and lace with bold accessories such as belts and chains, always wearing black with accent colors like red, silver and gold. And, of course, her trademark blood-red lips. All those strong colors and accessories are complemented by Margarita’s endless energy when she hits the stage, being very expressive and putting her heart and soul into each song played, and by her creativity, as she simply loves experimenting with different chains, spikes, fabrics and other material when creating her stage outfit. When asked about how she prepares herself for a concert, Margarita said she tries to rest as much as possible and stay hydrated, and that she doesn’t take too long to get dressed and put on her makeup as she always knows what she’s going to wear. She also said being in a band is a lifestyle she truly loves, and although it’s not an easy one she has a lot of fun and pleasure while working on new material, creating new visual arts for the band and rehearsing, always aiming at moving forward with the band.

Regarding being an artist, our red-haired muse mentioned that she’s always been determined to become an artist since her childhood in Russia, where she was surrounded by art. Her mom used to take her to theaters, concerts and ballets, inspiring her to start performing at a very young age. So far, it has been a thrilling and rewarding ride to her (despite being a very demanding way of life), with honesty, hard work and creativity being some of the most important elements in her career, not to mention her life motto which is “do it because you love it and enjoy every part of the journey, it goes by fast!’’ In addition, singing metal music in front of a huge crowd and recording vocals for Edge Of Paradise were initially a brand new experience and a challenge for her, despite her previous experience as an artist and her passion for classic voices like Dio and Freddie Mercury. Furthermore, Margarita said that coming up with melody ideas and finding her own style were very rewarding steps for her, and of course she’s always interested in evolving as a singer and as an artist in general.

Last but not least, when asked about the importance of image in her life and career, and how social media has had an impact on those, she said that as we live in a digital world where everything is over saturated, social media ends up working as a double-edged sword because we have the tools to reach people, but if you don’t have the best content (both visually and musically) you won’t be able to attract people’s attention. She complemented by saying you really have to create a world that people will want to be part of, inspiring people to follow you, and therefore boosting your creative process. Well, I guess Margarita is absolutely right about that, because if you think about it, who doesn’t want to be part of the unique and whimsical world created by Edge Of Paradise?

Margarita Monet’s Official Facebook page
Margarita Monet’s Official Instagram
Edge Of Paradise’s Official Facebook page
Edge Of Paradise’s Official YouTube channel
Edge Of Paradise’s Official Instagram

“Your music has to speak for itself, invest in your content, in the quality of your sound, if you have a great product you will get your foot in the door! Of course it’s important to promote, and that takes a lot of money too. If you’re an independent band you gotta hire your own publicity, but if you don’t have great content to promote you won’t go very far, so I would say make the music that’s authentic and you’re really proud of and you’ll find your way!” – Margarita Monet

Album Review – NONE / Life Has Gone On Long Enough (2018)

Lose yourself on a journey through eight organic tracks of foggy mountainous atmosphere and bleak music by this unknown Atmospheric Black Metal entity, devouring and nourishing a hopeless life.

Written and recorded throughout the latter half of 2017, Life Has Gone On Long Enough, the brand new album by American Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal entity NONE, takes its haunting shape through eight organic tracks of foggy mountainous atmosphere and bleak music. On this new chapter, NONE delves deeper into the blackest woods to find abandonment, and developing its tortured personality further. Moving in and out like the long shadows of an ancient forest, the harsh musical passages of Life Has Gone On Long Enough intertwine and die through forlorn atmospheres, devouring and nourishing a hopeless life.

Presented in a six-panel digipack with gorgeous panoramic photography, Life Has Gone On Long Enough represents a huge step forward in the career of this unknown, almost nameless creature, bringing all elements that made their 2017 debut self-titled EP so compelling and mesmerizing, but also showcasing new details and nuances that only make their music even more engaging than you can imagine, being highly recommended for admirers of the atmospheric creations by bands like Woods of Desolation, Coldworld, Shining, Gris and Sombres Forêts.

Ethereal sounds penetrate deep inside our minds in the intro Bleak, Damp, and Dead, transporting us to a different dimension and time titled A World, Dead and Gray, where the band’s melancholic and dark sonority fills every single empty space, with the song’s Doom Metal-inspired beats together with its lancinating riffs setting the perfect stage for the song’s uncanny gnarls coming from the unknown. In short, this is a superb exhibit of modern-day Atmospheric Black Metal, which can also be said about Bed the Cold Earth, where hopelessness and grief are the only two emotions crafted by NONE from start to finish, with their slow and steady beats and delicate guitar lines building a disquieting wall of Stygian sounds, flowing majestically until its somber finale. And in Hypoxic we face a gentle and introspective intro to another Depressive Black Metal feast, with the music remaining as lugubrious as possible with the deep, harsh laments complementing the overall obscurity. Put differently, this is one of those songs recommended for getting lost with your own deviant thoughts.

The somber Corroded creates an instant connection with the previous tune, where its mournful and gray background noises are thoroughly blended with the bitterly cold and melancholic sounds of guitars and keyboards, suddenly exploding into flammable Atmospheric Black Metal in Desiderate, with its crisp guitar melodies creating an interesting paradox with the song’s angelic keyboards. Moreover, also presenting a beyond obscure ambiance that will certainly blacken your heart and mind, the music flows into a desperate ending that lives up to the legacy of contemporary Ambient and Depressive Black Metal. Sluggish, creepy and macabre, Life is Long Enough showcases mysterious laughs intertwined with a pensive and heavy atmosphere, in a beautiful and captivating exhibit of the most outlandish and gloomy sounds you can think of, therefore dragging you to the palest and most ominous corner of life, and with its delicate, ethereal ending being the icing on the cake. And as a “bonus” to the listener we have a cover for Burzum’s Illa Tiðandi, an instrumental work-of-art by NONE presenting the cold winds of winter accompanied by a gentle piano just like the original by Mr. Varg Vikernes, which you can check HERE.

You can travel through the realms of Depressive and Atmospheric Black Metal ruled by NONE by taking a full listen at Life Has Gone On Long Enough on YouTube and on Spotify, and by purchasing the album from several locations such as the Hypnotic Dirge Record’s BandCamp or webstore in distinct formats (as a regular CD, as a Life Has Gone On Long Enough + their self-titled debut EP bundle, as a CD + shirt + sticker bundle, or as a Life Has Gone On Long Enough + self-titled EP + shirt + sticker mega bundle), as well as from CD Baby or from Discogs. Life might be long enough as masterfully depicted by NONE in their new album, but we can never get enough of their multi-layered, somber creations, proving Atmospheric Black Metal can be just as (if not more) exciting and vibrant than any of your regular metal genres.

Best moments of the album: A World, Dead and Gray, Desiderate and Life is Long Enough.

Worst moments of the album: Corroded.

Released in 2018 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Bleak, Damp, and Dead 2:51
2. A World, Dead and Gray 7:46
3. Bed the Cold Earth 7:44
4. Hypoxic 6:59
5. Corroded 5:17
6. Desiderate 7:52
7. Life is Long Enough 7:56
8. Illa Tiðandi (Burzum cover) 6:03

Band members
*Information not available*

Album Review – The Fallen Prodigy / Relive//Regret//Repeat (2018)

Enjoy 11 stunning metal tracks influenced by a myriad of modern Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore elements, brought forth by a multi-talented female-fronted outfit hailing from New York City.

If you’re a fan of modern-day Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore, I highly recommend you go take a detailed listen at Relive//Regret//Repeat, the brand new album by New York City-based female-fronted outfit The Fallen Prodigy. Featuring a straight-to-the-point artwork by Rob Walden (Rob Walden Design), Relive//Regret//Repeat, the follow-up to the band’s 2015 EP Passengers, consists of 11 stunning metal tracks influenced by a myriad of modern metal elements, being absolutely perfect for fans of the high-octane music by renowned acts such as Trivium, Killswitch Engage, Arch Enemy, As I Lay Dying and All That Remains, among several others.

Comprised of the unstoppable Jay Jimenez on vocals, Andrew Padilla and Daniel Davenel on the guitars, Jonathan Rodriguez on bass, and Joseph Falzone on drums, The Fallen Prodigy solidified their lineup back in 2014 and wasted no time, putting together music that can crush the stereotypes that may surround the metal genre. Through hard work, dedication and great music, The Fallen Prodigy set out to bring something new and unique back to the metal scene, and the music found in Relive//Regret//Repeat will show you exactly what they mean by that, smashing you like an insect with its over 50 minutes of top-of-the-line Melodic Death Metal.

The opening track Extinct is modern, visceral and aggressive form the very first second, with the guitar duo Andrew and Daniel sounding absolutely fantastic. However, it’s Jay who steals the spotlight with both her deranged growls and her potent clean vocals, showcasing all her talented right from the start of the album. Even more violent than the album opener, Boy Who Cried Wolf presents a devilish Jay on vocals, singing and screaming about our vile human nature (“You live life like you deserve more than others / Manipulating everyone and everything to have things your way / You long for acceptance and will seek it at any cost / Consumed by arrogance you’ll always find yourself”), while Joseph doesn’t let the insanely high level of energy go down with his frantic beats; followed by Regret, which starts in an almost electronic vibe before exploding into vibrant Metalcore, with Jay once again providing a fantastic balance between her harsh screams and clean vocals and with the crisp sound of guitars boosting the song’s impact considerably.

Leaning towards more traditional Melodic Death Metal (especially the characteristic Scandinavian sound), the whole band blasts the fresh and gripping Stray, with highlights once again to the amazing sound extracted from the guitars by Andrew and Daniel, whereas Misery is led by the dynamic drumming by Joseph, with Jonathan delivering those rumbling Groove Metal punches from his bass while the music alternates between neck-breaking moments and total devastation. The awesome Eighty-Sixed is a heavier-than-hell, straight-to-the-face high-end Metalcore tune where the extremely talented Jay growls and screams nonstop like a rabid beast, or in other words, it’s that type of song that will ignite some serious circle pits during their live concerts; and featuring guest vocalist Lauren Babic of Canadian Alternative Metal act Red Handed Denial, Composure is a very technical and melodic creation by The Fallen Prodigy, yet still as aggressive as it can be, delivering a modern-day message from the band to our ears (“Disaster awaits those who find a home in a filth called misery / My soul is being held captive / Somewhere it’s screaming just let me go home / Just let me go home”).

Then get ready to bang your head like a maniac to the crushing main riff in Fractured, before a slamming feast begins led by the brutal beats by Joseph in a multi-layered composition where Jay thrives thanks to the amazing support provided by her bandmates. In Repeat, featuring guest vocals by Will Ramos of American Deathcore band A Wake in Providence, we face a band that doesn’t know the meaning of the word “soft”, with the total havoc blasted by the entire band being spiced up by the welcome dosage of progressiveness brought forth by the guitar duo to the musicality; followed by Relive, a good song that feels a bit confusing at times despite the always solid work done by the stringed trio Daniel, Andrew and Jonathan, accompanied by guest guitarist Angel Vivaldi. Last but not least, the final song of the album, titled Endure, is a solid statement by Jay and the guys that they will carry on no matter what, keeping the flame of Melodic Death Metal alive and kicking, enfolded in a classic sound with the band’s own twist, therefore ending the album on a truly high note.

You can listen to the entire Relive//Regret//Repeat on Spotify and get a better sense of how potent and dynamic the music by The Fallen Prodigy is, and also visit their Facebook page for news and tour dates, and their YouTube channel for more of their music. And in case you want to grab a copy of such electrifying album, there are several location where you can find it such as the band’s own BandCamp page and Big Cartel (as a CD + poster bundle or a CD + T-shirt bundle), on iTunes, on Amazon, or on CD Baby. If I were you I would definitely keep an eye on what The Fallen Prodigy are up to, because whenever they take your town by storm you must be there to experience a lesson in Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore, just like what they did in Relive//Regret//Repeat. In other words, do you think you have what it takes to face Jay and the guys?

Best moments of the album: Extinct, Boy Who Cried Wolf, Eighty-Sixed and Fractured.

Worst moments of the album: Relive.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Extinct 4:12
2. Boy Who Cried Wolf 4:32
3. Regret 5:55
4. Stray 4:14
5. Misery 4:22
6. Eighty-Sixed 3:10
7. Composure (feat. Lauren Babic) 5:32
8. Fractured 4:20
9. Repeat (feat. Will Ramos) 3:47
10. Relive (feat. Angel Vivaldi) 4:56
11. Endure 5:04

Band members
Jay Jimenez – vocals
Andrew Padilla – guitar
Daniel Davenel – guitar
Jonathan Rodriguez – bass
Joseph Falzone – drums

Guest musicians
Lauren Babic – vocals on “Composure”
Will Ramos – vocals on “Repeat”
Angel Vivaldi – guitars on “Relive”