Album Review – Vampiric / Supernatural Tales (2020)

Phoenix, Arizona’s own lone wolf returns with more of his blood-soaked Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal in a tribute to darkness and the supernatural.

Arising from the depths of his lair less than one year after the release of his debut full-length album The Magic of the Night, the Phoenix, Arizona-based one-man army Nik Williams, the mastermind behind Symphonic Black/Thrash Metal entity Vampiric, is back with more of his blood-soaked, dark and captivating music in his brand new opus entitled Supernatural Tales, bringing to our ears more of his fusion of extreme and symphonic sounds while singing about vampires, wolves and other creatures of the night. Not only that, Nik once again did everything by himself, including all music, lyrics, artwork and so on, proving how passionate he is about heavy music and vampirism, and how his undeniable talent allows him to unite those two distinct topics into a collection of dynamic and obscure compositions.

Phantasmagorical synths and a stench of blood permeate the air in the opening track Endless Night, where Nik generates a bold atmosphere with all instruments, also firing both harsh growls and cryptic clean vocals and uniting Black and Thrash Metal in the name of darkness. In Bloodthirst we’re treated to sheer brutality, with Nik barking the song’s vampiric lyrics manically (“Do you hear it? / Does it not sound like the shadows calling your name? / At midnight’s strike, piercing the dark / Calling to you as if in dream / His presence made known / His shadow crawls across the wall”) while the music brings a fusion of Second-Wave Black Metal with classic Bay Area Thrash, all spiced up by its background keys; and blasting a more straightforward and rockin’ sonority, Nik offers us all the dark and dancing tune The Wolves Of Winter, showcasing slashing riffs and massive beats and bass punches, being tailored for admirers of Gothic Rock and Metal from the 80’s and 90’s with a more venomous twist. Then Nik continues to blast his drums and extract sheer malignancy from his guitar, resulting in a hybrid of Blackened Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal entitled Heart Of Fire, where our lone wolf sings about how fear sometimes controls our lives (“Rise from the fire whose flames burn you not / Become the fire / It matters not the fear that lives inside of your heart / But how you go forth and face that fear / Times of turmoil beget times of peace”).

Melodic guitars ignite the also frantic and obscure The Embrace Of The Vampire, with Nik growling and gnarling while at the same time generating a truly wicked ambience with his Phantom of the Opera-inspired keys, also presenting some elements found in the music by the almighty Cradle Of Filth, whereas an exciting ride through the lands of Rock N’ Roll, Black Metal and symphonic music is condensed into the multi-layered The Darkness Reborn, where Nik does a superb job with all instruments, in special with his demonic riffage and vicious roars. A Descent Into Madness is a visceral, in-your-face Extreme Metal tune where the bass sounds are absolutely metallic and thunderous, making a solid paradox with all the ethereal keys in the background, while Fall From The Sky leans towards the rawer musicality from his 2019 album, also bringing forward a spot-on balance between aggressiveness and melody while the drums sound as Black Metal as they can be. It’s a bit lengthy, though, despite all of its breaks and variations, but nothing to worry about, before the cinematic outro The Dawn Is No More puts a melancholic and at the same time epic conclusion to this bloodthirsty album.

Not only Supernatural Tales represents a healthy and interesting step forward in the career of Nik Williams and his Vampiric, but it’s also a solid statement that Nik is an unstoppable force of the underground, always working on new material and always eager to release original music to fans of that more extreme side of metal, having released so far two excellent albums in less than one year, and I’m not even counting his debut EP Death Tore Through, also released in 2019. Hence, you can show your support to such up-and-coming, hardworking artist by following him on Facebook, by subscribing to his official YouTube channel, and obviously by purchasing Supernatural Tales sooner than you can expect from his own BandCamp page (where you can by the way take a listen at a couple of his new songs already, as well as his previous releases). In a nutshell, in praising darkness and the supernatural with his new album, Nik is also carving his name in the metal underworld, leaving us eager for more of his vampiric tales and extreme sounds until the end of days.

Best moments of the album: Bloodthirst, The Wolves Of Winter and The Darkness Reborn.

Worst moments of the album: Fall From The Sky.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Endless Night 5:28
2. Bloodthirst 2:50
3. The Wolves Of Winter 5:40
4. Heart Of Fire 4:51
5. The Embrace Of The Vampire 5:31
6. The Darkness Reborn 3:36
7. A Descent Into Madness 3:20
8. Fall From The Sky 6:22
9. The Dawn Is No More (Outro) 2:31

Band members
Nik Williams – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Hearts & Hand Grenades / Adrenaline EP (2020)

Bang your heads nonstop to this fresh breath of Hard Rock that is not just built around the youth of today, but for all generations of true rock addicts.

In striving to create a true rock revival, and up-and-coming female-fronted Hard Rock unity that goes by the name of Hearts & Hand Grenades was formed in the beginning of 2019 in Buffalo, the second largest city in the state of New York, in the United States, focusing on creating a fresh breath of Hard Rock that is not just built around the youth of today, but for all generations of true rock addicts. After the release of their 2019 EP’s Wait and Nothing Left, it’s time for lead singer and bassist Stephanie Wlosinski, guitarists Kenny Blesy and Mike Bress, and drummer Tom Lafferty to showcase all their passion for rock music and dexterity with a new EP entitled Adrenaline, drawing influences from the likes of Metallica, AC/DC, Flyleaf and Halestorm, among many others. “We have been working very hard to bring our collective efforts to create a true hard rock sound with some meaningful lyrics. There is an undertone of frustration, desire, hope, and self- examining on these tracks. The agenda is to have something that anyone can relate to, no matter what walk of life you come from,” stated the band, aiming at filling the hole where true rock used to live with their new EP.

And our hearts begin beating to the rhythm of their classy Hard Rock in the title-track Adrenaline, where Stephanie and Tom will make the earth shake with their respective bass and drums while the band’s guitar duo extracts sheer electricity from their stringed axes, all spiced up by Stephanie’s thrilling vocals. Put differently, simply bang your head nonstop together with those talented rockers, just the way we love it in first-class Rock N’ Roll. Kenny and Mike keep hammering their guitars in great fashion in For the Weakened, bringing elements of Southern Rock and hints of Doom Metal to their already crushing musicality while Stephanie ventures through more aggressive lands with her piercing vocal lines. Then drinking from the more metallic fountain of NWOBHM, but still loyal to their Hard Rock foundations, Stephanie and the boys kick some serious ass once again with Daggers, a born-to-be-a-hit extravaganza where Kenny and Mike are on fire with their riffs, and there’s no sign of the band slowing down as they keep putting the pedal to the metal in the also headbanging Turning to Ashes, with its thrilling rhythm being dictated by Tom’s old school beats while the rest of the band fills out every single space in the air with the magic of Rock N’ Roll.

If you want to increase the amount of adrenaline in your life you can listen to such fun and vibrant EP in its entirety on YouTube, on Spotify and on Pandora, and of course purchase it directly from the band’s own webstore, as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow Stephanie and the boys on Facebook and on Instragram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to let their electrifying rock music penetrate deep inside your minds and your hearts each and every day where our good old Rock N’ Roll is required to lighten up our humor and make our lives a little better. After three awesome EP’s in just one year, Hearts & Hand Grenades are more than ready to focus their energy and passion for rock music in the creation of their first full-length opus, and as long as they keep loyal to their foundations, which means as long as they keep delivering more of the vibrant and fresh music found in Adrenaline, we can rest assured classic Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll will never die.

Best moments of the album: Adrenaline and Daggers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Adrenaline 5:29
2. For the Weakened 4:05
3. Daggers 3:31
4. Turning to Ashes 4:17

Band members
Stephanie Wlosinski – vocals, bass
Kenny Blesy – lead guitars
Mike Bress – guitars, keyboards
Tom Lafferty – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Lena Scissorhands

Walking in the night, I am trying to find you…

Before even starting this tribute to our metal chick of the month of July, let me just say her life is pretty much an open book. I mean, you can find pretty much anything about her online, and what you’re about to read might not be a surprise for you at all. However, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve to be featured on our webzine, as she’s not only extremely talented and passionate for heavy music, but she’s also a hardworking metalhead that never stops creating top-of-the-line music and videos for the delight of hundreds of thousands of metalheads from all over the world. Not only that, apart from her life in Heavy Metal she’s also a model and a makeup artist, proving her success, respect and admiration from her fans are not in vain. I’m talking about the unstoppable Moldovan vocalist Lena Scissorhands, the ravishing frontwoman for an up-and-coming Alternative and Nu Metal act that goes by the classy name of Infected Rain. Having said that, are you ready to be “infected” by Lena’s charisma and electricity here on The Headbanging Moose?

Born on November 22, 1986 in Chișinău, also known as Kishinev, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Moldova, nestled between Ukraine and Romania in Eastern Europe, Lena Scissorhands, whose real name is Elena Kataraga, fell in love with alternative music when she was 13 years old, although her real “crush” for metal music happened when she was 14 as she got simply mesmerized by the energy flowing from the sound of heavy guitar riffs and the brutality from harsh, guttural vocals. Due to her poor beginnings in Moldova, life was quite challenging for Lena and her family, forcing her to start working at a very young age to support her parents (who were very young when they had Lena) and her two younger sisters, with whom she mentioned she used to share her clothes and eat whatever was available (as well as pretend to be the Powerpuff Girls with them to lighten things up a bit). Looking on the bright side of life, those tough early days turned Lena into a very strong woman, always eager to achieve more through her work and always ready to provide help to the ones in need.

Currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, Lena mentioned in one of her interviews that the idea that the “Sin City” is a weird place bursting with people from all over the world only works if you’re a visitor, as living there is a complete different thing. She said if you live in Vegas you’re not really that much in contact with that lifestyle, unless of course that’s part of your job, but living there is pretty quiet due to the city’s remote location. Furthermore, apart from her current life in Vegas, Lena has also lived in different European countries, which kind of explains why she’s fluent in four languages, those being Russian, Romanian, English and Italian. “I’m very proud to speak all these four languages, and unfortunately I used to speak another language fluently. When I was a child, I used to live in Armenia, and I used to know Armenian like I know English – very, very well. I lived there for many years. But unfortunately, because of different life changing and living in different countries, and I was not in touch with my father because my parents separated and stuff like that, so I didn’t really use it. And a language, you lose it when you don’t use it. I do understand a little bit, and I can say a few things, but that’s it. So I don’t even consider that,” said Lena, who also explained she writes all her lyrics in English as the language became very natural to her, especially when she was attending university, although she actually started writing lyrics in Russian when she was a teenager at the age of 14.

It’s time to get down to business and start talking about Lena’s life with her awesome band Infected Rain, the band she started over ten years ago together with guitarist Vidick and Dj Kapa. At first, Lena said she didn’t know if she would be able to sing in a band in a professional way, but with the support from her bandmates and after starting taking vocal lessons with Tatiana Robertovna, with whom Lena learned how to breathe, how to feel the music and how to sing, Infected Rain became her number one priority and her reason to live. Formed in 2008 in her hometown Chișinău, Infected Rain combine a wide variety of styles such as Alternative, Death and Nu Metal with Metalcore and even elements from electronic music in an infectious sound, having already released a self-titled demo in 2008, the EP Judgemental Trap in 2009, and four full-length albums, those being Asylum (2011), Embrace Eternity (2014), 86 (2017) and more recently the excellent Endorphin (2019), showcasing all the power and versatility of the band currently comprised of our metal goddess Lena and her henchmen Vidick and Sergey on the guitars, Vladimir on bass and Eugene on drums. There are several official videos on YouTube for some of the best creations by Infected Rain, such as Me Against You, Mold, Stop Waiting, At The Bottom Of The Bottle, Serendipity, Enslaved By A Dream, a kick-ass cover version for Slayer’s Stain Of Mind, Judgemental Trap, Sweet, Sweet Lies, Fool The Gravity, Intoxicating, Orphan Soul, the absolutely stunning The Earth Mantra, Storm, Lure and Passerby, or you can also go to their official website or Big Cartel page to purchase their albums and some pretty cool merch.

Before signing with Napalm Records in 2019, Lena and the boys used to manage Infected Rain by themselves for around 10 years, booking their own concerts, taking care of all agreements and duties of a regular manager and so on, facing tons of challenges and hassles along the way. In one of her interviews, she mentioned that one of the biggest obstacles for Infected Rain during those years were promoters and booking agencies that didn’t want to work with them simply because they were independent, thinking they were a difficult band and that’s the reason why they were independent, when the only reason for that was the fact they came from a poor country with no possibilities at all. Having said that, why not enjoying a full performance by Infected Rain from their independent years, more specifically from their 2016 incendiary performance at Rockstadt Extreme Fest or from their 2017 concert at Club Thing in Germany? In addition, simply check this video titled “10 questions with Lena Scissorhands | Infected Rain” to know a little more about Lena and the band.

Apart from her life with Infected Rain, you can also find our multi-talented artist on a few other distinguished bands and projects, showcasing all her skills as a musician and her passion for music in general. For instance, she has been doing some singing during the live performances for a Moldovan Progressive Death Metal act called Neuromist since 2010 (although I couldn’t find any online video recording of her with the band), she has recorded a cover version for Russian duo t.A.T.u’s biggest hit All The Things She Said together with LA-based Alternative Rock act Chase The Comet, and also participated in some of the songs by Moldovan Progressive Metal/Rock band Seas on the Moon such as Promise and Hovering. As you can see, singing and playing became Lena’s own type of “drug”, her personal and healthy addiction, inspiring her to exercise and experiment a lot with her voice in different styles. All that work and experimentation would leave her voiceless for days in the beginning, but after starting her vocal lessons with renowned vocal coach Melissa Cross in 2013 everything changed for better in her life and career, allowing Lena to start delivering all the emotions, experiences, fears and disappointments in life from her very personal lyrics on stage without hurting her vocal cords.

As the amazing frontwoman that Lena is, she has obviously been asked a lot of times about how she views the current role and importance of women in heavy music, and what can be done to further enhance their relevance in the scene. However, although feminism and sisterhood in the metal scene are quite popular topics nowadays, she doesn’t consider herself a true feminist. “I know a lot of people expect me to be a little bit more feminist, or to talk more about how awesome it is to be a girl in metal. I really don’t do this big of a difference. I love seeing many girls in metal in general. It’s really cool because it takes dedication and women usually are very busy with their everyday life, with their families, with their kids, and it’s not that easy if you’re a woman, to give up everything. It’s a little bit easier for a man. Maybe. I don’t know,” said Lena, who also thinks that there isn’t a big difference between men and women in metal music, especially due to the fact she grew up in the company of boys in her neighborhood and considered herself very boyish until she was 15 or 16 years old. “I became more feminine later, but that’s it. That’s only the way I look. Inside I’m very fragile, I like being a woman, I like being fragile, I like being loved, I like being taking care of. But trust me, a man can say the same. Men also love to be loved, men also loved to be weak sometimes, and men also have weaknesses and emotions. We have blood, muscles, we are the same! Right? So, I really don’t see a big difference.”

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Lena is unsurprisingly addicted to sports, to touring and to adrenaline, saying she’s disciplined enough to work out at home, backstage or in a hotel room before her concerts. “I love yoga a lot because I become stretched really well. I like building up my body and you know, doing some weights sometimes. I don’t do cardio, because I have very low blood pressure, but at the same time I love hiking, I tried climbing as well, and I like biking a lot,” said Lena, who also mentioned she has a ritual before hitting the stage every show and sometimes even during her days off, requiring between half and a full hour of exercising and a minimum half hour of vocal warm-up, plus another hour to do her makeup, allowing her to feel perfectly prepared, stretched and warmed up prior to each concert. Moreover, Lena’s creations with Infected Rain are all meant to be played live, as according to our talented growler they’re extremely close to reality, expressing exactly what Lena was feeling when writing them, with some songs becoming even stronger during the band’s live performances.

As a huge fan of cartoons and horror flicks, Lena seems to be really into Disney and vampire movies, two completely different things that ended up helping her shape up her own persona quite well. “I became a big Disney nerd at an older age. When I was a kid I grew up in a pretty poor family and we didn’t really watch Disney movies unless they were on TV. So, I would say I really love Lion King because this was my first Disney movie I’ve ever seen and it’s very emotional. I also absolutely love Snow White, because I think it’s just amazing how unique it is, and it was the first cartoon movie that was made so… I also love a lot Alice in Wonderland, because I’m a big fan of the book as well, and I really like how unique the movie is, but still – you know – having the lot from the book… I can go on and on like this forever and ever. There are so many good ones,” commented Lena, who also said in one of her interviews that as she grew up with the tales of Dracula, she loves every type of vampire movie ever made, even lower budget productions or comedies about vampires, complementing by saying that she has also been watching a lot of zombie movies, that she has already gone through all the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises, and that now she wants to watch all the Resident Evil and A Nightmare on Elm Street movies as well.

As already mentioned, Lena also used to be a hair stylist and makeup artist, and as a proud vegan she usually tries to use vegan makeup instead of the regular brands you can find anywhere, saying one of her favorite brands is Kat Von D as she’s a vegan artist and all her makeup line is vegan as well. However, despite working with makeup, she truly believes charisma and kindness are what really attract her in people, saying that’s the true beauty in everyone. Furthermore, she also thinks there’s too much judgement or bias based on how a person looks nowadays, saying she doesn’t reply and she deletes all types of unnecessary comments such as “you’re too skinny”, “you have too many tattoos” and so on from her social media, complementing by saying we all punish ourselves too much already inside our minds to allow strangers to do the same for no reason.

Regarding veganism and her view of what’s happening to our environment, our skillful vocalist said she decided to become a vegan to see how she would feel, how much that would impact her health and her body, realizing she started to have a lot more energy on tour after adapting her eating habits around three years ago. Hence, you can notice the impact of her vegan lifestyle in the music by Infected Rain, with songs like the amazing The Earth Mantra beautifully (and darkly) representing everything that’s wrong with mankind in terms of all the wicked things we are doing to our planet. Despite not considering herself a true environmentalist, Lena is trying to be sensitive about nature, about animals and plants, and being more aware of her surroundings and how her actions impact everything and everyone in her life. Although a lot of people are trying hard to change their habits to have a minimal impact on our planet, Lena still thinks that’s not enough, that the current situation is extremely bad and that unfortunately it will take decades for the human race to change. If you’re also trying to make the world a better place you’ll certainly love the official video for The Earth Mantra, where Lena “interacts” with different bugs and other animals most people are not comfortable dealing with. “All the animals were real. I was very gentle with them. The owner of them was there, telling me how to hold those animals so no harm was done. I’m not scared of any bugs or anything. It’s actually a problem because I’m not afraid and I want to pet them and I want to touch them. So no, I’m not afraid,” commented the dauntless Lena.

Lastly, as also mentioned in the beginning of this tribute to Lena, her life is like an open book online, and let’s say she’s very proud of not being afraid of sharing all aspects of her life with her family, friends and fans worldwide. One of the main places where you can know everything about Lena is her official YouTube channel curiously titled BANANAS (as well as her own Patreon page), where you’ll find pretty much anything about her life, her hobbies, her career, her tattoos and other nice-to-know details, including also some interviews and chats with artists the likes of Melissa Cross and CJ McMahon (Thy Art Is Murder), and with all videos being edited by one of her bandmates, guitarist Vidick. For instance, there’s a very interesting video of Lena talking about the origins of Infected Rain which you might find very entertaining and informative, showing how much she’s not only a fantastic singer, but also that she was born to be in the spotlight so natural and smooth her onscreen performance is, and that’s exactly how she wants her YouTube channel to be for the foreseeable future. “When I decided to have my own YouTube channel and I saw that the band is becoming more known around the world and people are curious about me as a person, I made myself one promise, and I’m just trying to stick with that, and that’s it. It’s just I’m always going to be myself, and if people are not gonna like what they see or what they hear, it’s not in my power to change anybody’s mind, and I will never try to do that,” said Lena, inviting us all to join her in her world of heavy music, veganism, tattoos, and of course, bananas.

Lena Scissorhands’ Official Facebook page
Lena Scissorhands’ Official VKontakte
Lena Scissorhands’ Official Instagram
Lena Scissorhands’ Official Twitter
Lena Scissorhands’ Official YouTube channel
Infected Rain’s Official Facebook page
Infected Rain’s Official VKontakte
Infected Rain’s Official Instagram
Infected Rain’s Official Twitter
Infected Rain’s Official YouTube channel

“Reality is frustrating sometimes, music has become my escape. I want to help as many people as I can with my music. I want to touch people somewhere deep inside, try to end their fears and give them that escape that they always search for. Music saved my life, but when I started to sing is when my life acquired color.” – Lena Scissorhands

Album Review – Lamb of God / Lamb of God (2020)

Re-energized and unrelenting, Richmond, Virginia’s own Groove Metal titans are finally back after five years with their pulverizing eighth studio album.

At long last, five years after the release of the excellent VII: Sturm und Drang, Richmond, Virginia-based Groove Metal titans Lamb of God are finally back with a brand new album self-titled Lamb of God, the band’s eighth studio effort, for our vulgar delectation. Produced by Josh Wilbur (Korn, Megadeth, Gojira, Trivium), the fact that their new effort is self-titled is a testament to the band’s pride and satisfaction with these songs and this period in their creativity, showcasing a true and healthy collaboration between frontman Randy Blythe, guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton, bassist John Campbell and newcomer Art Cruz on drums, a re-energized and unrelenting lineup that’s more than ready to lay claim to the metal throne. “Putting only our name on it is a statement,” Mr. Randy Blythe said. “This is Lamb of God. Here and now,” expressing in words all the rage, groove and darkness found in each of the album’s ten original and extremely acid songs.

An eerie start evolves into a pounding Groove Metal feast in the opening track Memento Mori, where Willie and Mark and infernal with their riffs, inspiring us all to slam into the pit like true metal maniacs while Randy darkly vociferates the song’s psychological lyrics (“The hardest hour, the cruelest sign / I’m waking up from this wretched lie / I fight it the same, don’t waste this day / Wake up, wake up, wake up / Memento mori”), whereas in Checkmate we’re treated to more of their modern-day, austere words (“Watch the gears grind off their teeth / The screeching halt machine digging heels in disbelief / Two reactional identities, opposing policies / A bait and switch routine”), while Art brings forward all his fury and dexterity on drums, proving why he was chosen to take the band’s drumming duties. And in Gears, my favorite song of the entire album, Randy sounds inhumane with his enraged roars accompanied by Art’s pounding beats and the groovy and thunderous bass by John, resulting in a very intricate, multi-layered and thrilling aria from start to finish.

Speeding things up a notch, the quintet fires the neck-breaking, pulverizing tune Reality Bath, bringing an amazing shredding blasted by the band’s guitar duo while Randy alternates between his trademark growls and dark, eerie clean vocals, followed by New Colossal Hate, keeping the album at an insane level of wrath and violence. In other words, it’s another song perfect for jumping up and down with the band, with John and Art making the foundations of the earth tremble with their hellish kitchen, and they continue to crush our heads with the wicked and visceral Resurrection Man, one of the heaviest and most obscure of all tracks, with Art hammering his drums fiercely while Rady fires deep, vicious roars nonstop. Then featuring guest vocalist Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), the band delivers more of their hybrid of Groove and Thrash Metal in Poison Dream, with the sick riffage by Willie and Mark adding an extra kick to the overall result, not to mention the song’s vibrant and aggressive vibe.

The one and only Mr. Chuck Billy (Testament) lends his thunderous vocals to the high-octane Groove and Thrash Metal hurricane entitled Routes, sounding very melodic and at the same time as vile and caustic as possible, offering our avid ears their usual frantic beats, rabid screams and strident guitar solos, and you better get ready for another round of insanity and heaviness spearheaded by Randy and his demented screams in Bloodshot Eyes, also bringing some introspective moments while John and Art deliver endless groove through their unstoppable weapons. And last but not least, Lamb of God fire one last breath of first-class, demolishing metal music entitled On the Hook, with all of its crisp and thunderous riffs and bass jabs being nicely spiced up by Art’s rhythmic beats, uniting the heaviest elements from Thrash and Death Metal to the band’s core essence and, therefore, putting an amazingly heavy and explosive end to the album.

You can follow Lamb of God on Facebook and on Instagram (if you haven’t done so yet, of course) to stay up to date with everything that surrounds the band, including their tour dates, new songs and videos, news and other nice-to-know details, but I highly recommend you invest a small amount of your hard-earned money into their brand new album by clicking HERE and selecting your favorite version of it, as this is among the best metal albums of the year hands down. It might have taken a little longer than expected for Mr. Randy Blythe and his henchmen to released their new album due to all this horrifying and tedious COVID-19 pandemic, but at least the wait is over and, if you look on the bright side of life, all the wait was relatively worth it, making us insanely eager to see what Lamb of God had to offer us all in such obscure times. Needless to say, they didn’t disappoint at all, with their self-titled installment certainly fueling their inner selves to keep composing and delivering more of their unique Groove Metal for many years to come. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for metal concerts to be back on, buy your tickets to see Lamb of God live, and witness them kicking some serious ass with both their classics and the new fulminating songs from their new album, just the way we like it.

Best moments of the album: Memento Mori, Gears, Reality Bath and Routes.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Epic Records/Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Memento Mori 5:48
2. Checkmate 4:30
3. Gears 3:55
4. Reality Bath 4:32
5. New Colossal Hate 4:30
6. Resurrection Man 4:59
7. Poison Dream 4:57
8. Routes 3:04
9. Bloodshot Eyes 3:57
10. On the Hook 4:30

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Willie Adler – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Art Cruz – drums

Guest musicians
Jamey Jasta – vocals on “Poison Dream”
Chuck Billy – vocals on “Routes”

Album Review – From Hell / Rats & Ravens (2020)

Are you ready for an excellent album of Horror Metal set in mid-13th Century Eastern Europe that weaves an eerie and epic tale of witchery?

Labeling themselves as a Horror Metal concept band in which each recording is intended to be its own horror story, San Francisco, California-based Thrash/Death Metal act From Hell are unleashing upon humanity the second chapter in their horror anthology since their inception in 2010, the dark and sinister Rats & Ravens, an album set in mid-13th Century Eastern Europe that weaves an eerie and epic tale of witchery throughout its ten original tracks. Produced by Greg Wilkinson (High on Fire, Necrot, Autopsy) and mastered by Maor Appelbaum (Faith No More, Annihilator, Cynic), Rats & Ravens is not only the natural follow-up to their 2014 effort Ascent From Hell, but an evolutionary step in the career of the quartet currently comprised of the band’s mastermind and founder Aleister Sinn (also known as George Anderson) on vocals and guitar, Steve Smyth also on the guitar, Stephen Paul Goodwin on bass and Wes Anderson on drums. “The story is about a witch who desires children of her own and steals them from the villages nearby,” Aleister explains. “When she kills them, she traps the ravens who come for their souls. She keeps the children on this earth, reanimates their corpses with rats and calls them ‘Lilium.’”

Right after a short and sinister intro entitled Dark Heart, From Hell come crushing in the modern-day Thrash Metal tune They Come At Night, with its dark lyrics being manically vociferated by Aleister (“Running through the forest as daylight starts to dim / Following close behind I hear them closing in / Demons of the forest. Spirits in the wind. / Whispering in the darkness. Whispering, ‘She comes again!’”) while Stephen brings the groove with his wicked bass, followed by Lilium, a song about the proclamations from the witch as to what she has done, where the band blasts a thunderous fusion of Thrash and Groove Metal the likes of Lamb of God and Overkill, and with Aleister and Steve being merciless with their venomous riffs. And after a brilliant drum intro by Wes it’s time to slam into the pit together with From Hell in the infernal The Witch, an old school thrashing extravaganza showcasing fulminating riffs and rumbling bass punches, or in other words, the whole package diehard fans of the genre are always searching for.

Venturing through darker and more demonic lands, From Hell brings to our ears a mid-tempo, spine-chilling tune titled Don’t Cry For Help, led by the rhythmic beats by Wes while the band’s guitar duo kicks some serious ass with their riffs and solos; whereas Three And Nine is a ritualistic Thrash and Groove Metal chant where the entire band makes the skies darker and the fires form the netherworld stronger and brighter with their refined techniques, therefore keeping the level of horror in the album extremely high, and with Wes once again smashing his drums in great fashion from start to finish. Then in Forest Of The Screaming Trees a sinister, uncanny background is gradually accompanied by acoustic guitars before all hell breaks loose, morphing into a movie score-inspired Thrash Metal beast where Aleister, Steve and Stephen are in absolute sync with their hellish strings.

In the excellent Room For One those four metallers deliver a classic thrashing riffage together with vicious, pounding beats, generating the perfect ambience for Aleister and his high-pitched, devilish roars and, as a result, living up to the legacy of bands like Exodus and Testament. It’s a true headbanger, I might say, and it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and blast our ears and skulls with the frantic Body Rats, a classic Thrash Metal composition for the masses where Aleister leads his horde with his inhumane screeches while Stephen and Wes keep the earth trembling with their respective weapons. Lastly, there’s nothing better than a straightforward, in-your-face thrashing tune with some good amount of shredding, soaring screams and intricate beats like Am I Dead to properly close the album, with Wes being once again insane on drums, providing his bandmates all they need to darken our hearts and souls in the album’s climatic finale.

If you’re a fan of horror movies and at the same time a longtime admirer of Thrash and Death Metal, I highly recommend you go grab a copy of Rats & Ravens either by clicking HERE (where you can also stream it in full on Spotify) or by visiting the Scourge Records webstore, and don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for an additional share of horror, blood and mystery by keeping up to date with their news, releases and tour dates. From Hell did a fantastic job uniting their scorching metal music with witchcraft in Rats & Ravens, an album that doesn’t get tiresome nor bland at any given moment; quite the contrary, this is how heavy music should always sound. Heavy, dark, intricate and, above all that, absolutely evil.

Best moments of the album: Lilium, The Witch and Room For One.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Scourge Records

Track listing
1. Dark Heart 0:54
2. They Come At Night 5:49
3. Lilium 4:16
4. The Witch 5:50
5. Don’t Cry For Help 5:43
6. Three And Nine 5:29
7. Forest Of The Screaming Trees 5:49
8. Room For One 5:38
9. Body Rats 8:42
10. Am I Dead 6:56

Band members
Aleister Sinn – vocals, lead guitar
Steve Smyth – lead guitar
Stephen Paul Goodwin – bass guitar
Wes Anderson – drums

Album Review – Senescere / Alive But Somewhere Else (2020)

Focusing on struggling with the pain of loss, the new album by this Maryland-based metal band reflects all the dynamism and difficulties faced during all stages of grief.

Originally formed as an instrumental and acoustic solo project by vocalist and guitarist Alden Bradstock (Seventh Seal) in 2014, Westminster, Maryland-based Melodic Death Metal act Senescere grew into a full band with the addition of three new members in 2016, Nathan Heavel on bass, Andy Stark on drums and Josh Clark on additional vocals (all from bands such as Seventh Seal and Vestascension), allowing Alden to expand the band’s musical reach to a more aggressive and abrasive sound in their brand new opus Alive But Somewhere Else. Produced by Alden and Josh themselves, engineered and mixed by Josh at Dark Hollow Studio, mastered by Scott Atkins at Grindstone Studio, and featuring a stylish cover photograph by Mandy Martz Chappell, the album focuses on struggling with grief, turning to unhealthy sources of comfort and creating a false sense of happiness to deal with a loss. As stated by Alden himself, “loss and aging have been the central theme of this project since the beginning. I think I’ll always find some inspiration there, and new ways of looking at the pain and struggles it can bring. There are all kinds of faces and stages of grief. It’s dynamic, it isn’t always dark and miserable. It’s deceptive and difficult to categorize. I wanted the music to reflect this somehow, and I think that’s why I enjoy mixing multiple styles and varying intensity in the songwriting. It’s allowed to be extra melodic and catchy at times, just as it’s allowed to dive into blasting drums and tremolo picking if the song calls for it.”

And the smooth guitar lines by Alden ignite the atmospheric intro Freezing Of The Hillside, setting the stage for the band to stun us all in Lost In The Cold, where Alden’s deep guttural roars walk hand in hand with the classic beats by Andy, blending elements from Groove and Progressive Metal with their trademark Melodic Death Metal. Then speeding things up and enhancing their rage the quartet blasts the thrilling The Low Clouds, bringing forward dark and pensive lyrics (“Here I, as a loner / Do feel the texture of the edge / Tracing paths for days on end / A crisp and jagged line / So easy to step over / So welcoming to fall from”) and the usual strength and fury from Scandinavian metal, followed by Alive, clearly inspired by the modern and melodic metal music played by bands like Insomnium and Amorphis, with Alden growling with tons of anguish while Nathan and Andy give a lesson in groove and intricacy with their respective instruments, not to mention Josh’s spot on backing vocals.

After such powerful display of metal music, simply sit down, relax and let the enfolding lines from the instrumental piece Melted penetrate deep inside your mind before a wall of sounds smashes your senses in the fantastic Resonate, where Alden’s crisp riffs are beautifully complemented by the low-tuned bass by Nathan, exhaling progressiveness and feeling and all spiced by Alden’s piercing guitar solo; whereas Alden and Josh make a fantastic vocal duet in Aging Affinity, blending the visceral and violent sounds of classic Death Metal with the harmony and complexity of more modern styles, ending in a cryptic and atmospheric way. Heartspace is perfect for slamming into the circle pit while at the same time enjoying the sharp and intricate beats by Andy and the thunderous bass lines by Nathan, resulting in another ode to contemporary Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal that ends up warming up our senses for almost ten minutes of Senescere’s wicked music in Moon And Sun, where the band’s razor-edged riffs, pounding drums and obscure vocals invite the listener to an exciting metal voyage in what’s by far the most progressive and detailed of all songs, even bringing hints of Black Metal and putting an introspective and climatic ending to the album.

Highly recommended for fans of the melodic and pensive heavy music played by renowned acts the likes of Dark Tranquillity, Amorphis, Opeth, Katatonia and Insomnium, among several others, Alive But Somewhere Else can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your true support to Alden and his henchmen you should definitely purchase a copy of the album from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for news, tour dates and more of their classy music, helping you cope with loss and pain to the sound of our beloved Heavy Metal and, therefore, keeping Alden and his Senescere beyond inspired to create more of their multi-layered and meaningful music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Lost In The Cold, The Low Clouds and Resonate.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Freezing Of The Hillside 2:54
2. Lost In The Cold 4:12
3. The Low Clouds 5:36
4. Alive 3:36
5. Melted 2:13
6. Resonate 3:54
7. Aging Affinity 4:26
8. Heartspace 3:55
9. Moon And Sun 9:34

Band members
Alden Bradstock – guitars, vocals
Nathan Heavel – bass
Andy Stark – drums
Josh Clark – additional vocals

Album Review – Dead Animal Assembly Plant / Bring Out The Dead (2020)

Bring out your dead to the sound of the post-apocalyptic Industrial Metal by this Portland, Oregon-based army of freaks.

The Sweet Meats Slaughterhouse, founded in 1895 by Wilhelm Schröder, was internationally known for their advances in industrialized butchery, producing around 30% of the meats consumed in the United States at that time. In 1915 a tragedy struck the small town Wilhelm called home when all the livestock took some unexplained fatal disease, and the ever resourceful Wilhelm turned to the only available meat, the townsfolk. When they discovered the terrible truth they enacted their own form of justice, feeding the once prolific Mr. Schröder to his own machines. The Sweet Meats Slaughterhouse remained eerily quiet and vacant, until one night horrible noises resembling music emanated from the dank hallways, resulting in the birth of Portland, Oregon-based Down N’ Dirty Industrial Metal outfit Dead Animal Assembly Plant. Founded in 2007 by frontman Zach Wager, the band currently formed by Zach and his bandmates Eric ‘Zerø’ Bergen and Rebecca ‘Buzz’ Wager on the guitars, Nick ‘Nix’ Snyder on bass and Jason ‘Skorn’ Moore on drums is set to release their fourth full-length opus titled Bring Out The Dead, effectively combining elements of rock, metal and industrial from the 90’s until the present day. Mixed by Fernando Ruiz Jr. at Primal Recording Studio, mastered by Kevin Hahn at Opal Recording Studio, and with photography by Mothmeister, Bring Out The Dead is highly recommended for fans of Nine inch Nails, KMFDM, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Ministry and Rob Zombie, among others, bringing strong post-apocalyptic and horror influences to give it an extra touch of insanity.

Like a true infernal assembly line, the intro Cemetery Slums opens the gates of the underworld to the raw and industrialized A Violent Breed, showcasing austere lyrics dealing with everything that’s wrong with the human mind (“I am a violent breed / Programmed to be obscene / These hands praise ignorance / The blame becomes routine / My mind is a dirty bomb / Full of pettiness and virgin blood / With scriptures burned inside my head / Peddled and preached by empty men”), while Eric and Rebecca extract venomous, razor-edged sounds from their axes, sounding at times like a more metalized version of the already heavy-as-hell music by NIN. Then we have The Ghost of Friedrich Nietzsche, which by the way carries a great title for a modern and atmospheric Industrial Metal extavaganza, led by the robot-like drums by Jason while Zach madly vociferates the song’s wicked words, resulting in an amazing choice for a dark and goth party soudtrack, whereas Colors Under Attack couldn’t have started in a heavier and more thrilling way. This is old school Industrial Metal and Rock blending the sonic havoc blasted by icons like Rammstein, Ministry and KMFDM, with Nick and Jason generating a rumbling atmosphere with their respective weapons nonstop.

In the eerie and absolutely grim Somewhere Else, Zac’s vocals walk hand in hand with Eric’s and Rebecca’s metallic riffs, remaining obscure until the very last second and building an instant bridge with Sacred Disgrace, featuring the stunning New York City-based violinist and violist Lulu Black as a guest musician. Uniting the heaviness and groove of Industrial Metal and Neue Deutsche Härte with the finesse of Lulu’s violin, the song also offers an interesting paradox between her delicate sounds and Nick’s low-tuned bass jabs, reminding me of some of the best creations by the one and only Marilyn Manson. And the atmospheric and instrumental bridge Ghost Transmissions sets the stage for Behold the Righteous Plague, sounding heavier and more Rock N’ Roll than its predecessors but still bringing the band’s trademark Industrial Metal for our total delight, with Zach being utterly demented on vocals accompanied by the slashing riffage by the band’s guitar duo and Jason’s blast beats. Do the Inferno is probably the most fun of all songs, feeling like their personal “tribute” to NIN but also presenting a Misfits-inspired vibe, with Nick adding endless groove and thunder to their musicality (and the final result couldn’t have been more awesome, of course), and last but not least more of their classic industrialized sounds will penetrate deep inside our minds in The End of You, showcasing an amazing job done by both Eric and Rebecca on the guitars while Zach continues to lead his horde of freaks with his enraged vocals.

The release date of this excellent album of Industrial Metal might still be unknown due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, but I’m sure sooner than later we’ll all be able to purchase a copy of Bring Out The Dead, which is by the way a very suggestive title for such nasty period the entire world is facing, from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Armalyte Industries’ BandCamp page, as well as form other retailers like Apple Music and Amazon. In the meantime, you can support the mechanized freaks from DAAP by following them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, and subscribe to their YouTube channel or search from them on Spotify to listen to more of their acid and industrialized creations. As the end of the human race draws near based on all the madness and evil things happening pretty much everywhere right now, I personally suggest you add Bring Out The Dead to your post-apocalyptic playlist, banging your head to the first-class Industrial Metal played by DAAP while our putrid and corrupt society goes straight to hell.

Best moments of the album: A Violent Breed, Colors Under Attack, Behold the Righteous Plague and Do the Inferno.

Worst moments of the album: Somewhere Else.

Released in 2020 Armalyte Industries

Track listing
1. Cemetery Slums 1:42
2. A Violent Breed 4:10
3. The Ghost of Friedrich Nietzsche 4:26
4. Colors Under Attack 4:02
5. Somewhere Else 3:00
6. Sacred Disgrace 4:41
7. Ghost Transmissions 2:22
8. Behold the Righteous Plague 4:14
9. Do the Inferno 3:34
10. The End of You 4:15

Band members
Zach Wager – vocals
Eric ‘Zerø’ Bergen – guitars
Rebecca ‘Buzz’ Wager – guitars
Nick ‘Nix’ Snyder – bass
Jason ‘Skorn’ Moore – drums

Guest musicians
Lulu Black – violin on “Sacred Disgrace”
Regulo Junior – additional guitars on “Behold the Righteous Plague”

Album Review – Trivium / What The Dead Men Say (2020)

It’s time to listen to what these four (un)dead men from Orlando, Florida have to say in their thrilling new opus.

Three years after the release of the excellent The Sin and the Sentence, the unrelenting Matt Heafy on lead vocals and guitar, Corey Beaulieu on guitar and backing vocals, Paolo Gregoletto on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Alex Bent on drums and percussion, collectively known as Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal unity Trivium, return with another round of their always cohesive and breathtaking heavy music in What The Dead Men Say, the ninth studio album and another awesome addition to their undisputed career. Recorded at Studio 606 West in Northridge, Los Angeles, California, engineered, mixed and produced by Josh Wilbur, and mastered by Ted Jensen, What The Dead Men Say brings forward a myriad of styles and sounds that will please fans of all phases of the band, from Melodic Death Metal to Progressive Metal, Black Metal, Thrash Metal and Deathcore. “We’ve found a really great place to exist in this world. We love Melodic Death Metal, we love Death and Black Metal, and we love Hardcore. What the Dead Men Say is everything we do on one record,” commented Matt about their newborn spawn.

Furthermore, like The Sin and the Sentence, the lyrical content on What The Dead Men Say was inspired by modern aspects of life, with the album’s title being taken from a science fiction novella of the same name written by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in Worlds of Tomorrow magazine in June 1964. For instance, “Catastrophist” deals with the theme of humanity in a crisis, “Amongst the Shadows & the Stones” is about the horrors of war, “The Defiant” was inspired by R. Kelly’s documentary and abuse-enabling, “Bending the Arc to Fear” talks about the surveillance aspect of modern society, and so on, with the closing song “The Ones We Leave Behind” being about “running over” people to succeed in life, delivering a powerful message and portraying a whole new meaning in the wake of the 2019–2020 COVID-19 pandemic. With that said, it was more than obvious that the fusion of a precise and powerful music with meaningful lyrics would result in another future classic by Trivium, leaving us eager for more of their always-evolving and never-repetitive music in the years yet to come.

As soon as you hit play, the cinematic instrumental intro IX (a clear reference to the fact that What The Dead Men Say is their ninth full-length album) sets the stage for Matt & Co. to kick some ass with the title-track What the Dead Men Say, where Alex begins crushing his drums with tons of precision and fury accompanied by the scorching riffs by Matt and Corey. Bringing elements from the Progressive and Groove Metal by bands like Lamb Of God added to their core musicality, this is indeed an excellent way to start their new opus, followed by Catastrophist, one of the previously released singles of the album, keeping the groove and electricity flowing from start to finish. Moreover, its razor-edged riffs remind me of some of their compositions from their 2013 album Vengeance Falls, while Paolo makes the earth tremble with his sick bass jabs.

Then it’s time to go absolutely mental to the sound of Amongst the Shadows & the Stones, by far my favorite of all songs, presenting their trademark riffage and solos, intricate beats, tons of breaks and variations and an endless amount of violence in a hybrid of Groove, Heavy and Thrash Metal, with Matt rabidly roaring the song’s lyrics (“Bloodied corpses, broken bones reveal / A throng of clashes crushed, our nightmare sealed / Amongst the shadows and the stones”), whereas the semi-ballad Bleed Into Me, despite the solidness of the instrumental pieces (in special Paolo’s somber bass lines), doesn’t really click and falls flat after a while, but there’s nothing to worry about as this is the only low (or maybe I should say less intense) point of the entire album. And back to their usual high-octane mode the quartet fires the also amazing The Defiant, showcasing Iron Maiden-inspired guitars walking hand in hand with the vicious beats by Alex while at the same time presenting a great balance between Matt’s clean vocals and harsh screams. As a matter of fact, could this be an “alternate” version or a sequel to their classic “The Deceived” due to the sonic similarity between both songs? That’s a question only Matt, Corey, Paolo and Alex can answer, of course.

In the top-of-the-line Sickness Unto You a mellow and melancholic start gradually morphs into a violent metal feast by Trivium, with sheer rage flowing form Matt’s vocals while he and Corey demolish our ears with their razor-edged riffs, both supported by the always thunderous bass by Paolo, whereas Scattering the Ashes can be considered a good example of how diverse their new album is by blending the music from Silence In The Snow with In Waves, once again presenting a solid instrumental and spot-on backing vocals overflowing pure anguish. Then we’re treated to more of their always cryptic lyrics (“A strain of vigilance / Deep roots that all connect / We wait so diligent / Watching you / Watching you”) in Bending the Arc to Fear, starting in a Black and Thrash Metal-ish vibe and sounding perfect for slamming into the pit to the sound of the bestial drums by Alex. On a side note, I personally love the strident and metallic sound of their stringed axes throughout the entire album, enhanced by its crisp and polished overall production. Lastly, closing the album the quartet offers us all the melodic and vibrant The Ones We Left Behind, featuring the rumbling bass by Paolo accompanied by the stunning beats and fills by Alex while Matt and Corey give a lesson in riffs and feeling, concluding the album in a powerful and effective manner.

After listening to What The Dead Men Say in its entirety for a few times, you’ll quickly notice how not only the band’s technique and professionalism, but also their synchronicity, have been growing stronger and stronger through the years, pointing to an even brighter future for Matt and his bandmates in a near future and, therefore, positioning Trivium as one of the driving forces of modern-day metal music, never sounding tiresome nor predictable at all with each one of their releases. Hence, go check what the boys are up to on Facebook and on Instagram (especially because they’re all very active users of most social media platforms), subscribe to their YouTube channel, and above all that, grab your copy of such entertaining album from the Warner Music webstore or click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album (and if you have some extra money go for the Japanese Edition of the album, as it contains two very special acoustic versions for the songs “Bleed Into Me” and “Scattering the Ashes”), raising your horns, banging your head and listening to what the (un)dead men from Trivium have to say through their unparalleled music.

Best moments of the album: Amongst the Shadows & the Stones, The Defiant, Sickness Unto You and The Ones We Left Behind.

Worst moments of the album: Bleed Into Me.

Released in 2020 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. IX 1:59
2. What the Dead Men Say 4:45
3. Catastrophist 6:28
4. Amongst the Shadows & the Stones 5:40
5. Bleed Into Me 3:49
6. The Defiant 4:29
7. Sickness Unto You 6:14
8. Scattering the Ashes 3:25
9. Bending the Arc to Fear 4:46
10. The Ones We Left Behind 4:57

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
11. Bleed Into Me (Acoustic version) 3:45
12. Scattering the Ashes (Acoustic version) 3:04

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