Album Review – Singularity / Place of Chains (2019)

The emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned turned into an ass-kicking hybrid of Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal by a sensational metal unity from Arizona.

Tempe, Arizona-based Technical Death Metal/Symphonic Black Metal hybrid act Singularity is back from outer space to pulverize our senses once again with the release of Places of Chains, the follow-up to their highly acclaimed 2014 self-titled debut album and their 2016 EP Void Walker. Since their formation in 2010, the band now comprised of Jack Fliegler (ToxicxEternity, Hemoptysis) on vocals and guitar, Adam King (Depraved Heretic, Arkaik) on bass and vocals, and Nathan Bigelow (Arkaik, Alterbeast, Solar Impulse) on drums, not to mention keyboardist Nick Pompliano (R.I.P), who sadly passed away during the creation process of the album in 2018, has continually shown themselves to be a forward-thinking act, one with a bold vision built on fusing Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal together in a myriad of ways. In other words, let’s say this talented American entity was capable of uniting the best of both worlds in Place of Chains, bringing forth music that has at the same time the intricacy and aggressiveness of Death Metal with the beauty and mystery of Black Metal, and the final result is absolutely stunning to say the least.

Mixed by Mike Low (Inferi, Oubliette), mastered by Zak Denham (Anagnorisis), and featuring additional orchestrations on every track by Malcolm Pugh (Inferi, A Loathing Requiem) and a futuristic and apocalyptic artwork by Justin Abraham, who has already worked with several excellent bands like Equipoise, Inanimate Existence, Lecherous Nocturne, A Loathing Requiem, Virulent Depravity and Æpoch, among several others, Place of Chains will undoubtedly and strongly appeal to all fans of bands like  Fleshgod Apocalypse, Old Man’s Child, Dimmu Borgir and the first album from Irreversible Mechanism. “Place of Chains is the translation to the song title ‘Desmoterion’ which lyrically illustrates the emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned. Considering that many of the songs on this record lyrically are about enslavement, we felt it was a good over-arching title for the record. We strongly believe that this is the best Singularity record so far. Singularity would also like to thank our guest artists that we had the privilege of having on this record. With every record, we try to further hone in on what the core of Singularity’s sound is and what we want to bring to the world of metal,” commented the band on the release of their newborn spawn.

Bellum, a cinematic and incendiary intro led by the futuristic orchestrations by guest Malcolm Pugh, sets the stage for Singularity to smash us all in Victory or Death, featuring Jared Christianson (Arkaik) as a guest vocalist.  Showcasing lyrics that invite us all to war (“Let the games begin / Your legions are chosen for a tournament / Worthy of the ages / The astral arena beckons your names”), this is a first-class Technical Death Metal tune where Jack is astounding with his riffs and solos while Nathan sounds like a stone crusher on drums, not to mention the intricacy and groove flowing from Adam’s bass. And in Sisyphean Cycle an ominous intro evolves into a doom-ish feast of Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir infused with Death Metal nuances, where Adam continues to impress with his thunderous bass jabs while the keys by Nick bring an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result.

Guest vocalist Jeremy Davis (Animus Complex) brings his own dosage of lunacy to Ritual of Regret (by the way, check the band’s amazing guitar playthrough for it HERE), a song that begins in full force spearheaded by Nathan and his insane beats while Jack and Nick have a healthy and thrilling “riffs-versus-keys duel”, leaning towards pure Symphonic Black Metal at times. Furthermore, all of their roars reach a true demonic level as the music progresses, also bringing to our ears sensational razor-edged guitar solos. Back to a more technical mode, Singularity offer us all Consume and Assume, a fast and intricate Death Metal chant perfect for slamming into the pit, all embraced by the whimsical keys by Nick and also featuring a guest guitar solo by Nick Padovani (Equipoise, Virulent Depravity), who co-composed the song with the band; whereas in Desmoterion you better get ready for over seven minutes of pulverizing Technical Death and Black Metal with all band members being in absolute and demonic sync, bringing forth an imposing and epic atmosphere for our total delight. The song’s vocals couldn’t sound more infernal and wicked than this, as well as its piercing guitar solos and all breaks and variations, resulting in a full-bodied aria by this talented metal unity.

In the berserk Serpentes, Eternal not a single space in the air is left empty, with the Stygian words vociferated by Jack and Adam (“Far below / Beneath black earth and snow and decay / Residing under ice and rot, they seek / Surface world never knows / Eyes like fire, these Serpentine / Hearts beat steady as the ancient ones”) shining amidst a feast of slashing riffs and solos, rumbling bass lines and unstoppable blast beats, followed by Dead Receptors, co-composed by Singularity and John Low (the band’s former drummer), which sounds like a hybrid between classic and a more technical version of Death Metal with a stylish twist, as if it was a dark and devilish “waltz” where the vocal lines alternate between obscure Black Metal moments and full Death Metal roars. And last but not least, As Dark as This Nefarious Night is another onrush of darkened and complex sounds by Singularity where Nathan once again delivers sheer violence on drums, while Jack and Adam make our heads tremble with their respective riffs and bass punches, ending in a visceral and epic manner.

You can enjoy this striking album of technical and symphonic extreme music in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your true support to the guys from Singularity, and as a tribute to the deceased Nick Pompliano, you should definitely purchase your copy of the album from The Artisan Era Records’ webstore, from Singularity’s BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Also, don’t forget to give them a shout on their official Facebook page, as I’m sure the band would love to hear your thoughts on Place of Chains. Now it’s time for Singularity to give life to their creations on stage while promoting their new album (which means you should definitely keep an eye on their live tour announcements) before heading back to their spacecraft and begining the writing process of their new material, and I personally can’t wait to see what those skillful and hardworking guys from Arizona will provide us in their future releases.

Best moments of the album: Victory or Death, Ritual of Regret and Desmoterion.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Bellum 2:44
2. Victory or Death 3:39
3. Sisyphean Cycle 6:26
4. Ritual of Regret 3:07
5. Consume and Assume 4:50
6. Desmoterion 7:07
7. Serpentes, Eternal 4:39
8. Dead Receptors 4:03
9. As Dark as This Nefarious Night 5:08

Band members
Jack Fliegler – vocals, guitar
Adam King – vocals, bass
Nick Pompliano (R.I.P) – keyboards
Nathan Bigelow – drums

Guest musicians
Malcolm Pugh – additional orchestrations
Jared Christianson – vocals on “Victory or Death”
Jeremy Davis – vocals on “Ritual of Regret”
Nick Padovani – guitar solo on “Consume and Assume”

Album Review – Iced Earth / Horror Show (2001)

Are you looking for the ultimate Heavy Metal soundtrack to spice up your Halloween party? Mr. Jon Schaffer and his henchmen can definitely help you with that.

IcedEarth-HorrorShowTampa, Florida-based Power/Thrash Metal veterans Iced Earth might be one of the most underrated bands in the history of heavy music, and I believe they’re not bigger or more famous due to Mr. Jon Schaffer’s fickle temper, which has resulted in countless (and unstable) lineup changes in the history of the band, lowering any expectations a fan might have about their future. I personally don’t care that much about the mood of any musician, as long as this doesn’t negatively affect the overall quality of the music. Take a look at Dave Mustaine and Dani Filth, for example, and you’ll notice there are some changes in their music, but the core essence of Megadeth and Cradle of Filth is always there for the delight of their fans. Due to those constant changes you never know exactly what to expect from Iced Earth, as they sometimes deliver really bad material, but fortunately for all of us their 2001 album Horror Show showcases the Iced Earth we all want to listen to, sounding powerful, well-engendered and, above all, very creative and entertaining.

Horror Show is not just a traditional Heavy Metal album, also bringing a lot of the energy from Power Metal and some of the violence found in Thrash Metal, and that’s in my opinion the best “formula” Jon and his crew can offer us. Furthermore, it’s kind of  a concept album focused on different horror stories, making it even more interesting for Heavy Metal fans that also enjoy reading a frightful book or going to the movies to see a good dosage of monsters and blood. For instance, all songs on the album are based on classic horror films, from werewolves to vampires and mummies, and many of the lyrics are lifted directly from the source material, proving that when Jon doesn’t let his personal issues interfere in his music, the final result is always fantastic. Add to all that some incredibly talented musicians like Matt Barlow on vocals, Larry Tarnowski on the lead guitar, Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Death, Charred Walls of the Damned) on bass and Richard Christy (Death, Charred Walls of the Damned) on drums, and there you have the utmost recipe for awesomeness.

Wolf, the first track of the album inspired by The Wolf Man films, is an excellent heavy song to kick things off, showing why Jon is considered by many one of the best riff-makers in Heavy Metal. The speed of the song and its grinding riffs give it an amazing Thrash Metal touch, not to mention its chorus inspired by a poem that is recited in the 1941 film The Wolf Man, making any fan excited for the rest of the album. Then we have Damien, inspired by The Omen films, presenting outstanding lyrics that make a lot of sense if you have read the book or seen the movies like I’ve done (“When the Jews return to Zion / And a comet fills the sky / The Holy Roman Empire rises / And you and I must die”). As a matter of fact, the chorus was taken from the 1976 film The Omen, and the spoken section was adapted from a speech in its 1981 sequel, Omen III: The Final Conflict, just to give you a sense of how detailed this song is. Things get even better in Jack, inspired by the one and only Jack the Ripper, with Jon slashing our ears with his riffs in great “Ripper” fashion. Moreover, perhaps the funniest thing about this song is that Horror Show was the last studio album (apart from their album of cover songs called Tribute to the Gods, from 2002) Matt recorded before Tim “Ripper” Owens (The Ripper himself!) joined the band in 2003 and recorded The Glorious Burden in 2004, which is for me one of their best and most consistent albums of all.

The album continues with Ghost of Freedom, the only song that wasn’t inspired by any horror movie or character. It’s a very beautiful ballad and one of the top moments of the whole album, showing us a more “romantic” side of Jon and how good Matt’s voice can be even when he’s not screaming. The following three songs might not be masterpieces, but they surely keep the album at a high level of adrenaline and epicness. Im-Ho-Tep (Pharaoh’s Curse) (inspired by The Mummy), Jekyll & Hyde (inspired by The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and Dragon’s Child (inspired by Creature from the Black Lagoon) not only have amazing concepts, but the music itself is very pleasant and cohesive, embracing us all and pulling us deeper into the world of horror created by the band throughout the entire album.

IcedEarth_Promo2001Frankenstein (“surprisingly” inspired by Frankenstein) is even better than those three tracks, raising your energy level and making you want to headbang like a crazy motherfucker, followed by the best song of Horror Show without a shadow of a doubt, the stunning Dracula (also “astoundingly” inspired by Dracula), a metal masterpiece that’s absolutely flawless from start to finish, presenting to the listener the duo Jon and Matt at the peak of their forms. This is an all-time fan favorite and a mandatory track in any of the band’s live setlists, also bringing to our avid ears ass-kicking lyrics (“Do you believe in love? / Do you believe in destiny? / True love may come only once in a thousand lifetimes…”). Lastly, we have The Phantom Opera Ghost, obviously inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, and despite all the additional elements and musicians it sounds too pretentious and doesn’t deliver what the fans are actually expecting.

The limited edition has a bonus disc with two totally opposite moments: an incredible cover for Iron Maiden’s Transylvania, where Jon does what he does best with his guitar; and a tedious interview with him that lasts for over an hour. I guess there’s a one-disc version of Horror Show that includes Transylvania as a regular track, so if I were you that’s the one I would buy. And finally, one thing that Iced Earth have always delivered are stunning album arts. The band’s own mascot, Set Abominae, might not be part of the compositions this time, but he certainly makes the front cover of Horror Show designed by Danny Miki and Travis Smith darkly captivating. In a nutshell, Horror Show, which makes the already distant year of 2001 look like it just happened yesterday, is a mandatory choice for that Heavy Metal Halloween party you’re planning with your friends (as well as a good source of inspiration for your costumes), or maybe you can just dress up as Jon Schaffer and walk around your neighborhood playing some of the tracks from Horror Show on your guitar, how about that? We could even call this new Halloween tradition as “Trick or Thrash”.

Best moments of the album: Wolf, Damien, Ghost of Freedom, Dracula and Transylvania.

Worst moments of the album: The Phantom Opera Ghost.

Released in 2001 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Wolf 5:20
2. Damien 9:12
3. Jack 4:14
4. Ghost of Freedom 5:12
5. Im-Ho-Tep (Pharaoh’s Curse) 4:45
6. Jekyll & Hyde 4:39
7. Dragon’s Child 4:21
8. Frankenstein 3:50
9. Dracula 5:54
10. The Phantom Opera Ghost 8:41

Limited Edition Disc Two
11. Transylvania (Iron Maiden cover) 4:30
12. Interview with Jon Schaffer (conducted by Sumit Chandra) 69:27

Band members
Matt Barlow – vocals
Jon Schaffer – guitar
Larry Tarnowski – lead guitar
Steve DiGiorgio – bass
Richard Christy – drums

Guest musicians
Yunhui Percifield – lead vocals on “The Phantom Opera Ghost” as “Christine”, backing vocals
Jim Morris – guitar solo on “Ghost of Freedom”, keys, backing vocals
Howard Helm – keys (pipe organ) on “The Phantom Opera Ghost”
Richie Wilkison, Rafaela Farias & Sam King – backing vocals

Album Review – Death Angel / Humanicide (2019)

A solid and entertaining album of old school Thrash Metal that marks the band’s return to the wolves alongside a survivalist pack mentality.

Since their return from a long hiatus in 2001, American Thrash Metal wolfpack Death Angel has been on a constant and solid roll, releasing a series of albums that, although might not be considered masterpieces, are extremely high-quality albums of good old, classic thrash. If their 2016 installment The Evil Divide is in my humble opinion their strongest album of this new phase of the band and one of their all-time best ones in terms of creativity, speed and rage, we can say their brand new opus Humanicide, the ninth studio album in their career, continues to pave their thrashing path and keeps the band more than just relevant in the current metal scene, therefore keeping the flames of old school Thrash Metal burning brighter than a thousand suns.

Recorded and mixed at Audio Hammer Studios in Sanford, Florida, with additional recording at Spiderville Studios in Oakland, California and mastered at Sterling Sound in Nashville, Tennessee, Humanicide is the band’s fourth album in a row to be produced by Jason Suecof (Charred Walls of the Damned, Crotchduster, Capharnaum) and also to have the same lineup comprised of vocalist Mark Osegueda, guitarists Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar, bassist Damien Sisson and drummer Will Carroll. In addition to that, Humanicide also marks Death Angel’s return to the wolves alongside a survivalist pack mentality, which is also reflected in the album artwork designed by renowned American artist Brent Elliott White (Megadeth, Trivium, 4ARM, Thy Art Is Murder, Amon Amarth), who already worked with Death Angel in their 2010 album Relentless Retribution and in their 2013 album The Dream Calls for Blood. Having said that, are you ready to join this unrelenting wolfpack in their quest for Thrash Metal?

An epic intro ignites the bold title-track Humanicide, with the strident guitars by both Rob and Ted morphing into a shredding feast while Mark’s vocals sound piercing and acid just the way we like it, thrashing our souls mercilessly for almost six minutes before we’re treated to Divine Defector, devastating form start to finish thanks to the pounding beats by Will, and albeit not a brilliant song it’s still classic Thrash Metal and a good option for slamming into the pit. And more melodic but utterly aggressive, Death Angel put the pedal to the metal in another feast of classic guitar lines, nonstop drums and raspy vociferations in Aggressor, with Rob and Ted doing a very good job with both their acoustic lines and electrified riffs.

I Came for Blood, my favorite of all songs, is a fast and infuriated explosion of old school thrash where its guitars couldn’t sound more thrilling, while Damien and Will bring sheer thunder with their respective instruments, not to mention the song’s aggressive, take-no-prisoners-like lyrics (“The bloody nose of victory / Fueled by seeds of hate / Make peace with my enemies? / No chance, not today / I’ve traveled through the unknown / That is where I thrive / You chose to say my name aloud / So I shall never die”). Featuring the smooth piano by Ukrainian guest musician Vika Yermolyeva, Immortal Behated is a pensive and beautiful metal tune, very detailed and full of layers and nuances, and also presenting crisp guitar solos, intricate drumming and endless darkness to heighten our senses, whereas in Alive and Screaming they get back to their trademark berserk mode, with Mark being on fire on vocals supported by his bandmates’ potent backing vocals, showcasing once again a demolishing job done by Will on drums. And The Pack, as Mark himself says, is a call to arms, sounding as if the band wants to gather all thrashing wolves to fight side by side with them, with Rob and Ted stealing the spotlight with their flammable riffage.

Children Of Bodom’s own Alexi Laiho delivers a vibrant guitar solo in Ghost of Me, another fast-paced, high-octane tune with Mark firing his trademark screams, bringing to our ears riffs and solos played at the speed of light, therefore inspiring us all to slam into the pit like maniacs. Next, it’s time for Jason Suecof to fire a guitar solo in Revelation Song, focusing on the melody rather than the speed and offering another blast of dark poetry by the band (“Watch for their people dawning / Watch for their evil task / A negative space revival / A negative faceless mask, hey / A child to be so wicked / Coming to steal your mind / Lost in a destructive space / Lost in a revolting time”), with Damien’s bass sounding truly ominous in the background. Of Rats and Men is a generic version of their own music, which despite Mark’s efforts to make it more engaging the music never really takes off, while The Day I Walked Away, some sort of a “bonus track” included in all versions of the album (and that’s why I don’t understand why it’s called a bonus track), is one more not-so-exciting song by the band with a bland sound and vibe, but still presenting some good moments such as the guitar solos blasted by Rob and Ted.

In summary, as already mentioned Humanicide (available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, and on sale from several locations as you can see HERE) is far from being a masterpiece, but it’s still an above average album of old school thrash that definitely deserves a shot. To be honest with you, I would love to see Death Angel go back to the more diverse and crisp musicality found in The Evil Divide, but of course I wouldn’t complain at all if they decide to keep following the same formula and deliver to us another ten albums on the same vein as Humanicide in the coming years. And for a great band like Death Angel, who have always crafted first-class Thrash Metal since their beginnings, that’s more than enough to keep us happy.

Best moments of the album: Humanicide, I Came for Blood, Immortal Behated and The Pack.

Worst moments of the album: Of Rats and Men and The Day I Walked Away.

Released in 2019 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Humanicide 5:42
2. Divine Defector 3:24
3. Aggressor 5:11
4. I Came for Blood 3:12
5. Immortal Behated 6:08
6. Alive and Screaming 3:36
7. The Pack 3:33
8. Ghost of Me 4:34
9. Revelation Song 5:33
10. Of Rats and Men 4:08
11. The Day I Walked Away 3:29

Band members
Mark Osegueda – vocals
Rob Cavestany – guitar
Ted Aguilar – guitar
Damien Sisson – bass
Will Carroll – drums

Guest musicians
Alexi Laiho – lead guitars on “Ghost of Me”
Jason Suecof – lead guitars on “Revelation Song”
Vika Yermolyeva – piano on “Immortal Behated”

Album Review – Dark Station / Down in The Dark (2019)

Get ready for an overdose of heavy riffs, groovy sounds and soaring vocals by five talented guys who are among us to prove once and for all that modern rock music is alive and kicking.

In the spring of 2018, five Southern California musicians (Nathan Spades on vocals, Kyle Ort and David Bruno on the guitars, Eric Sinful on bass, and Dylan Roy on drums) came together to form a new band with the ability to seamlessly transition from crushingly heavy riffs to unforgettably haunting melodies and lyrics, leaving their respective project behind. That band is Hard Rock/Alternative Metal unity Dark Station, who are ready to unleash upon us their debut album entitled Down in the Dark, poised to cement the band’s name as a commendable force in the rock world. Put differently, get ready for an overdose of heavy riffs, groovy sounds, soaring vocals and electrifying passages by five talented guys who are among us to prove once and for all that modern rock music is alive and kicking.

A futuristic intro explodes into modern-day Alternative Metal in Ryse, where the groovy bass punches by Eric will make your head tremble while Nathan begins his enraged vocal attack amidst screeching guitar noises, resulting in a beyond solid welcome card by the band. Then drinking form the same fountain as icons like Nine Inch Nails, Marylin Manson and Korn, the quintet fires Heroes, a dark and melodic tune where Kyle and David once again pierce our ears with their riffs, not to mention its ominous aura, followed by New Age, with another wicked intro morphing into rumbling metal music, sounding very atmospheric and heavy. Moreover, Eric and his menacing bass are on fire throughout this headbanging song that perfectly depicts what modern American metal is all about. And Villain is even more alternative than all previous songs, showcasing a great job done by both Kyle and David on the guitars with their flammable riffs while Nathan’s vocals get more obscure and wicked, bringing an extra touch of lunacy to the overall musicality.

No Life sounds like the music from all bands from that period where we got Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace and so on, and although it might not be as vibrant as the other songs, its lyrics match perfectly with the music (“Summers eyes / Frienemies / Car exhaust  / I can’t believe / Something else was inside me / yeah  / You’ve gotta fight it alone now / It’s out of control”), whereas the born-to-be-a-radio-hit Obvious brings to our ears the utterly melodic bass punches by Eric while Nathan darkly declaims the song’s words (“We take the pain / Every day / Could we be the same / On the other side / I’ll try my luck again / Again / You know it’s not enough / For me”).After that awesome display of rock music we have Hollow, another somber, pensive creation by Dark Station where Nathan exhales melancholy from his vocals and with Dylan pounding his drums with tons of precision, also bringing crisp guitar solos and a huge dosage of anger for our total delight.

Leaning towards the most contemporary form of American Alternative Rock and Metal, Misery is a great option to be part of a soundtrack for hitting the road, with all instruments filling every single space in the air, therefore providing Nathan all he needs to thrive on vocals. Ghost keeps the album at a high level of adrenaline, flirting with Industrial Rock and Metal but keeping the band’s core essence intact. Not only that, Eric and Dylan make a very effective dynamic duo, bringing thunder to the music with their instruments; and modernized, metallic sounds keep permeating the air in Locked On, with its background futuristic touch helping enhance the impact of each instrument considerably, especially the guitars by Kyle and David alternating between more serene moments and razor-edged sounds. As their final blast of Alternative Metal, we’re treated to more of the band’s radio-ready rockin’ music in the form of Visions, where slashing riffs are powerfully complemented by the crushing bass by Eric and Dylan’s rhythmic beats, ending in a desperate and captivating way.

What are you waiting for to show those talented Southern Californians your support and appreciation? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, bang your head to their music on Spotify, and get ready to rock to the sound of Down in The Dark sooner than you think by pre-ordering your copy of the album from the band’s official website or from Apple Music. There’s a new age of American Alternative Rock and Metal coming, and based on the quality and electricity flowing from Dark Station’s debut album I’m more than certain we’ll see those guys spearheading that very welcome movement in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Ryse, Hollow and Misery.

Worst moments of the album: No Life.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Ryse 3:37
2. Heroes 4:19
3. New Age 3:09
4. Villain 3:55
5. No Life 3:09
6. Obvious 4:01
7. Hollow 3:13
8. Misery 3:00
9. Ghost 4:20
10. Locked On 3:23
11. Visions 4:34

Band members
Nathan Spades – vocals
Kyle Ort – guitar
David Bruno – guitar
Eric Sinful – bass
Dylan Roy – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – The Harp Twins

Can you feel the wind of the north, my dear Camille and Kennerly?

How about we celebrate insane six years of The Headbanging Moose with two very talented women who have the unique ability of transforming the heaviest and most intense metal classics into serene and touching ballads only armed with their ethereal harps? I’m talking about Camille and Kennerly Kitt, known worldwide as The Harp Twins, who have achieved an unprecedented success not only among metal fans but in countless other music genres and entertainment segments, leading them to tour across several countries in North and America, Europe and anywhere else where their whimsical sounds are truly appreciated. And no, you’re not seeing double, as The Harp Twins are indeed identical twins, providing your avid ears double the pleasure with their refined skills by mixing all types of rock, metal and soundtrack arrangements with the gentle sounds flowing form their harps. Not only that, Camille and Kennerly are also accomplished actresses, showing there’s no actual limit for this talented American duo.

Born in the city of Chicago, Illinois, United States in 1989, with their heritage being mostly Norwegian mixed with Swedish, Finnish, English, Scottish, French, German and a little Cherokee Indian, Camille and Kennerly began playing the piano when they were children, followed by the harp when they went to junior high school. The duo was drawn by the beauty of the harp, saying it seemed like a magical instrument to them. By the way, their first harps (small, pre-owned lever harps) were bought with money they got from jobs such as babysitting and dog-walking, in order to show their mother they were really serious about playing the instrument. Classically trained in piano and also capable of playing a little percussion, the two blonde harpists also love to sing, which can be seen in some of their own original compositions and cover songs, although of course their main focus is and will always be their mesmerizing harps.

Having already played their electric harps, acoustic and electro-acoustic concert grand harps in several concert series, festivals, fairs and conventions in front of the most diverse crowds, even playing for US presidents, tech geniuses and global leaders, Camille and Kennerly have released over 100 singles online since the beginning of their career, as well as some very interesting cover albums, developing a huge cult of followers worldwide through their social media and becoming undoubtedly the most famous harp duo in the world. All that success is not in vain, of course, as both sisters hold a Bachelor of Music degree in Harp Performance and graduated with highest honors (“Summa Cum Laude”) at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, located in Wheaton, Illinois, not to mention their previous years in a music studies program at a local college where they were in the Honors Scholar Program and represented the college at several collegiate summits.

Despite being formally trained in classical music and having the aforementioned degrees, their true obsession in music has always been taking the harp to new heights and exploring new grounds, nurturing a deep passion for arranging and performing rock, metal and soundtrack music as a harp duet, as well as their Nordic-inspired original songs thanks to their Scandinavian origin, always without any backtracks, studio productions or record labels involved, beautifully representing what it truly means to be an independent artist. And after listening to their duet arrangements of contemporary songs from artists including Iron Maiden, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Enya and Journey, among many, many others, you’ll be able to fully understand why they have chosen to follow such distinguished path, embellishing the airwaves with their gentle, melodic and classy harp fingering.

As already mentioned, The Harp Twins, who by the way perform on Venus “Classic” Concert Grand pedal harps and Lyon & Healy “Silhouette” Electric lever harps, have several albums released (also in physical format) apart from their hundreds of online singles and videos, with their YouTube videos totaling over 106 million views with over 600,000 subscribers as of September 2019. For instance, their cover of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven alone garnered over three million YouTube hits as of September 2019, while their version of Iron Maiden’s Fear of the Dark received over 11 million views as of September 2019. Their six self-produced albums are Harp Attack (2013), Harp Attack 2 (2015), Harp Attack 3 (2018), Harp Fantasy (2013), Harp Fantasty 2 (2016), and Winter Lights (2017); while the Harp Attack series are dedicated to covers of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal songs and the Harp Fantasy series focus on covers of video game, anime, film and television soundtracks such as Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Pirates of the Caribbean, Final Fantasy, Star Trek, Star Wars, Vikings, Silent Hill and The Lord of the Rings, just to name a few, Winter Lights was their first-ever holiday album, including two new original songs and ten new arrangements of holiday classics from years gone by. Furthermore, their music has also been featured in countless media like National Geographic, The Huffington Post, ABC News, Conan O’Brien’s TeamCoco, AMCtv.com, Guitar World, Revolver, and many more, having also been praised by different music icons like Megadeth, Billy Idol, Kansas and Within Temptation, who shared the twins’ music on their official social media.

As a metalhead, I’m pretty sure you’re eager to listen to Camille and Kennerly playing some of your favorite metal classics of all time, right? Well, all you have to do is subscribe to their YouTube channel, sit down and enjoy their harp versions for, but not limited to, Rush’s Closer to the Heart, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, Dio’s Rainbow in the Dark, Metallica’s Fade to Black, Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills, and Megadeth’s A Tout le Monde. Go visit their official YouTube channel, or buy their music from CD Baby or from Apple Music, relax and enjoy these and countless other classic like Send Me an Angel, Smoke on the Water, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Hotel California, Don’t Stop Believin’, Every Breath You Take, and so on.

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Camille and Kennerly always say they switch off playing melody and accompaniment, even within the same piece, and also that apart from all cover songs they do either by request or by their own choice, they have also been composing original music for their harps for years, which can be seen in songs like North and the music theme for their own animated logo. In addition, you can also find Camille and Kennerly as guest harpists in the intro Time to Set You Free,  from the album The Second Big Bang, released in 2017 by Brazilian Melodic Power Metal project Soulspell. And regarding her main influences and idols in music, the twins mentioned in one of their interviews that their earliest musical influences were rock and classic rock because that’s what their mother used to listen to, including bands like The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Billy Idol, Van Halen, ZZ Top and Johnny Cash, later expanding their range due to their classical training to most artists and bands who think outside the box and follow their own path.

Although their main focus is obviously on their harp career, the duo is also famous for their acting and modeling skills, being members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and AFTRA and having already acted in theater, film and television. For instance, in the season 6 finale of The Walking Dead, they played a walker nicknamed “Ouch That’s My Hair”, who was fought and killed by the character Carol, and had roles as “The Marcelli Twins” in the dark teen comedy Blacktino (as you can see in the official trailer by clicking HERE), from 2011, as well as appearances in many other movies like Delivery Man (2013), Elephant Medicine (2010) and The End of Lost Beginnings (2009), and in several commercial such as a national Japanese commercials for Chupa Chups lollypops. Still talking about their film career, Camille and Kennerly always like to mention that they do all their videos by themselves, arranging the music, finding the filming location, making their own costumes, filming everything with a small hand-held video camera on a tripod, recording the sound in their own living room and editing the video themselves. Needless to say, there’s no such thing as playbacks or any other “magic tricks” in their videos, as what you hear is exactly how it’s being played by our multi-talented twins. Also, when asked about their life on the road, Camille and Kennerly said in several interviews they have lots of memorable moments to share, like when they represented the United States at the World Harp Festival in Paraguay, where they had extensive support from the American embassy resulting in a full concert the day after the event to a sold out theater, and all of their performances at several Walker Stalker Cons, playing right before panels with Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs and Greg Nicotero. It’s impossible to list all events they have participated so far in their career, featuring in all types of public, private, philanthropic, academic, corporate, cultural and political events, proving once again how talented and professional they are.

Of course, there’s no Camille and Kennerly without their harps and vice-versa, and that’s why it’s important and truly interesting to know more about the girls’ ethereal weapons. Their acoustic concert grand harps are 6’3” (or 1.9 m) and weigh 90 lbs (or 40.8 kg), while their electric harps are 4’ (or 1.22 m) and weigh 16 lbs (or 7.25 kg); regarding the number of strings, their acoustic concert grand harps have 47 strings (which can have three different pitches, those being flat, natural and sharp), their electric lever harps have 33 strings (which can have two different pitches, either flat/natural or natural/sharp), and their Harpsicle Harps have 26 strings. In addition, although it’s possible for the twins to use distortion on their electric harps, they don’t actually do that due to the difficulty to use distortion while still continuing the melody and accompaniment; however, you can enjoy Camille and Kennerly blasting distorted harp sounds on their cover version for Billy Idol’s White Wedding (by the way, Billy Idol himself even said that “if you live long enough you get to see this version of White Wedding”), and a slight effect in their Doctor Who Theme and The Smith’s Asleep covers. When asked about how they manage to carry their harps everywhere and how they handle their weight while playing, they said they put a strap on their backs to do that, but that they also bruise their hips from the straps if they wear the harps for too long. They love the freedom of movement, though, helping them to properly perform rock songs with their electric harps. Some people like to ask them why they don’t move even more while playing, and they said it’s tougher to reach a necessary balance with the harps than with a guitar or violin, for example.

Aside from being impressive harpists, Camille and Kennerly also have a variety of other interests and hobbies in their lives, keeping them absolutely busy pretty much all of the time. For instance, the twins are third degree black belts in Tae Kwon Do and former Tae Kwon Do instructors, which by the way caused two broken fingers to Kennerly while sparring one day, and stitches to Camille’s face as a result of puncture wound sustained while holding a board that Kennerly was breaking. In the end, those incidents made them decide to stop practicing martial arts and focus on their career as harpists. Our beloved blonde musicians were also competitive swimmers as kids (having both qualified for the Junior Olympics five times), are experts in rifle marksmanship, and are trained in horseback riding, not to mention their passion for other activities and hobbies such as hiking, working out, watching TV shows like The Walking Dead and Vikings, reading, writing, and so on. Moreover, the Kitt Twins are also actively involved in their community, supporting education and health initiatives for unprivileged children overseas, and volunteering for many years at a monthly deaf/hard-of-hearing social gathering (and yes, they know sign language), among other endeavors, as they strongly believe in the importance of giving back. The girls also sponsor a few kids in Ethiopia, helping to provide them school, food, clothing and medical care, always hoping more and more people will follow their steps to make the world a better place.

Last but not least, Camille and Kennerly’s connection as twins is beautifully externalized in the way they always look at each other while they’re playing, and in their twin costumes (which as mentioned are always put together by the twins themselves by mixing and matching things they already have at home), unless of course they need to dress differently for a commercial, film or media project. Having said that, if you want to have double the fun with the classy and mesmerizing music by Camille and Kennerly, or if you are an event organizer who’s searching for a truly unique attraction to captivate the attention of your guests on your next big event, you can get in touch with The Harp Twins by sending an email to HarpTwins@HarpTwins.com, and don’t forget to keep an eye on their Events Page on Facebook for all of their public performances, concerts and other events. And if you want to show your support to their distinguished work with their harps, as aforementioned you can purchase their music from Apple Music and from CD Baby, or simply visit their official website for all music, news, tour dates and other nice-to-know information about the unstoppable twins who give a beyond welcome touch of delicacy to our good old rock and metal music.

Camille and Kennerly’s Official Facebook page
Camille and Kennerly’s Official Instagram
Camille and Kennerly’s Official Twitter
Camille and Kennerly’s Official YouTube channel

“When someone tells us that our music has helped them through an illness, or inspired their child to learn an instrument, or even just given them some peace after a trying day, that means the world to us. As musicians, it’s the greatest feeling to know that our music has touched someone else in some way.” – Camille and Kennerly Kitt

Album Review – Mavradoxa / Nightmarrow (2019)

The final breath of dark and heavy sounds by a now extinct metal unity will take you on a journey of isolation and hopelessness through the realms of Atmospheric Black Metal.

Let me begin this review by saying that I was absolutely shocked when I read earlier this year that the beyond promising and talented Rochester, New York-based Atmospheric Black Metal band Mavradoxa was calling it quits after only a few years of existence. Fortunately for all of us, fans of dark and atmospheric music, the band left us with three excellent full-length albums, those being their 2016 debut opus Sojourners, their fantastic 2017 release Lethean Lament, and more recently Nightmarrow, released earlier this year via Hypnotic Dirge Records. Although related to the tonal atmosphere and character of their previous albums, Nightmarrow sees the band developing and intensifying their song-writing ability, crafting simultaneously cohesive yet unpredictable songs with a progressive hue that is still rooted in Atmospheric Black Metal.

Engineered by Nicholas Alan at Subterranean Studios, mixed by Stephen Parker (Pillorian, Maestus), mastered by Justin Weis at Trakworx Recording, and featuring a stunning artwork by American artist Dylan Garrett Smith, Nightmarrow represents a meditation on the isolation and hopelessness of our age (particularly in the realm of the urban), and the consequences of technology and voracious consumption of resources. Mavradoxa’s founding duo Zachary Smith, also known as Nival, and Monica Finger, also known as Lux, together with guitarist Tyler Stasierowski (from The Highest Leviathan) and bassist Josh Mason (from Wandering Oak and Acrylazea), perfectly depict that feeling of solitude and desperation in Nightmarrow, positioning the unfortunately now defunct band as one of the most creative and interesting bands of the underground scene in the United States.

Featuring guest vocals by Matt Greenwood and an additional guitar solo by Nicholas Alan, the opening track Maple begins in full force with the razor-edged riffs by Zach and Tyler and the intricate beats by Monica generating a rumbling ambience perfect for Zach’s anguished roars, sounding as powerful and grim just the way we like it in Atmospheric Black Metal. Furthermore, the song’s progressive ending flows smoothly into the even darker musical voyage entitled The Carrion Shade, where Josh and Monica make the earth tremble with their respective instruments while the entire band darkly intones the song’s cryptic lyrics (“Black sun, black moon / In shadows, entombed / Flame, gold, & rust / slowly coalesced / in the pale of the / last winter sunset”). This is Progressive Black Metal at its finest showcasing all band members in absolute sync, therefore delivering a crushing wall of blackened sounds for our total delight, in special Zach and Tyler with their flammable guitars.

Matt Greenwood returns in the title-track Nightmarrow, where the music gets closer to what was offered to us in Lethean Lament, presenting more introspective and atmospheric sounds and passages. Zach sounds utterly enraged and acid on vocals, with Monica’s gentle clean vocals bringing more balance to this dense and bold feast of extreme music. Then an acoustic, ethereal bridge named Rustling Leaves soothes our souls and warms up our senses for Black Crystal Snowfall, featuring guest vocals by Swamp and sheer poetry flowing from its lyrics (“Ancestral whispers beckon us back / to a starless womb, to a time before / this place where all is languishing, / where all is ensnared by the grasp / of synthetic hands, becoming, / and ripping our bones from within”), also bringing forward elements from Blackened Doom added to their core atmospheric music. Monica’s steady beats and Zach’s and Tyler’s crisp riffs will undoubtedly embrace your soul from start to finish, reaching a climatic and piercing grand finale that gently morphs into a melancholic outro titled Umbra, where Zach and Tyler deliver a passionate performance with their acoustic guitars, concluding Nightmarrow on a high and pensive note.

If Nightmarrow, which by the way is available in full on YouTube and on Spotify, is indeed the last breath of Atmospheric Black Metal by Mavradoxa no one knows for sure. The band might decide to come back from their “retirement” one day to smash our senses again with their somber music, who knows? Until that day arrives (if it arrives,  of course), you can keep in touch with Zach and Monica on Facebook, and purchase your copy of Mavradoxa’s final journey through the realms of atmospheric and extreme music from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp page (or click HERE for all details about the band and where to buy their music), as well as from your regular retailers such as Apple Music, Amazon, CD Baby and Discogs. Having said that, it’s with a heavy heart that I finalize this review (or maybe I should call it a tribute), as heavy, ominous and splendorous as the music by the now extinct Mavradoxa. Thank you for your music, Zah and Monica, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing from you two again in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: The Carrion Shade and Nightmarrow.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Maple 7:41
2. The Carrion Shade 9:25
3. Nightmarrow 9:34
4. Rustling Leaves 1:45
5. Black Crystal Snowfall 10:57
6. Umbra 3:40

Band members
Zachary Smith – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Monica Finger – drums, vocals
Tyler Stasierowski – electric guitars, 12-string acoustic guitar
Josh Mason – fretless bass guitar

Guest musicians
Matt Greenwood – guest vocals on “Maple” and “Nightmarrow”
Swamp – guest vocals on “Black Crystal Snowfall”
Nicholas Alan – additional lead guitar on “Maple”

Album Review – Violent Life Violent Death / Sadness Rains EP (2019)

Charlotte, North Carolina’s own Metalcore institution returns with a venomous new EP, sounding as heavy, acid and violent as usual.

Owners of the best EP of 2018 as per our humble Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018 with their amazing release Come, Heavy Breath, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Metalcore unity Violent Life Violent Death is back in action this year with another heavy-as-hell EP entitled Sadness Rains, highly recommended for admirers of the music by Every Time I Die, Zao and The Dillinger Escape Plan. Furthermore, if there’s one thing that really helps Violent Life Violent Death sound so cohesive from one release to another is their immaculate lineup, still formed by Scott Cowan on vocals, Joseph Benham and Joey Park on the guitars, Justin Campbell on bass and David Holquin on drums, building a solid and interesting connection between albums.

A cinematic intro morphs into the band’s characteristic austere sonority in Choke, with Scott firing his infernal gnarls manically while the rest of the band blasts sheer obscurity and hatred through their instruments, not to mention how Joseph and Joey will pierce your skin deep with their riffs. And it looks like Violent Life Violent Death decided to venture through much darker paths in their new EP, as Love In Violet begins in a mournful, somber way before exploding into high-octane Metalcore led by David’s frantic beats and fills, sounding as sharp and visceral as it can be; followed by the title-track Sadness Rains, another bestial display of modern-day Metalcore and Deathcore that will inspire you to slam into the pit, with Justin’s bass and David’s drums generating a rumbling ambience perfect for Scott to roar like a demonic entity. In Hissing Tongue the band sounds even faster and more demented, with the stringed trio Joseph, Joey and Justin being on absolute fire throughout the entire song, providing Scott all he needs to thrive with his evil vociferations and, therefore, resulting in what’s my favorite of the five songs. And last but not least, Pray concludes the EP with huge dosages of brutality, rage and darkness, with Justin extracting tons of groove form his bass while Joseph and joey fire crystalline but utterly venomous riffs from their axes.

In a nutshell, Sadness Rains, available for a full listen on Spotify, might not be as impactful as Come, Heavy Breath, but it’s just as heavy, vile and aggressive, keeping the band’s core essence burning bright and pointing to a healthy future for this American band that’s already more than just a promise. Having said that, what are you waiting for to follow them on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel and grab your copy of Sadness Rains from their Big Cartel page or from the Innerstrength Records’ BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music or from Amazon (or simply click HERE for a list of all places where Sadness Rains is available)? Now after a trilogy of ass-kicking EP’s by Violent Life Violent Death it’s time for those talented metallers to release a full-length opus to blow our minds with their rage and electricity, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: Love In Violet and Hissing Tongue.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Innerstrength Records

Track listing
1. Choke 3:56
2. Love In Violet 4:25
3. Sadness Rains 2:40
4. Hissing Tongue 2:13
5. Pray 3:38

Band members
Scott Cowan – vocals
Joseph Benham – guitar
Joey Park – guitar
Justin Campbell – bass
David Holquin – drums

Album Review – Slipknot / We Are Not Your Kind (2019)

Heavier and more experimental than usual, those masked metallers are back with a fantastic album that proves once again why Heavy Metal is our kind of music.

From the obscure depths of the human psyche, American Alternative Metal horde Slipknot returns after five long years with a brand new album, entitled We Are Not Your Kind, the sixth studio album in the career of those masked marauders and a beyond solid statement by the band saying that, despite all the losses and problems they’ve had in the past decade or so, they can still deliver top-of-the-line metal music for the masses. Produced by Greg Fidelman, who has already worked with several renowned bands like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Slayer and with Slipknot themselves in the albums .5 The Gray Chapter in 2014 and Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) in 2004, We Are Not Your Kind has been described as a heavier and more experimental album than their previous releases featuring moody instrumentals and electronic elements, and the final result is simply stunning.

Not only that, We Are Not Your Kind is the band’s first album since the firing of longtime member Chris Fehn, while the rest of the crew remains the same, with Sid Wilson and Craig “133” Jones on turntables, samples, media and keyboards, Jim Root and Mick Thomson on the guitars, Shawn “Clown” Crahan on custom percussion and backing vocals, Corey Taylor on lead vocals, Alessandro Venturella on bass and Jay Weinberg on drums, not to mention their newest member “Tortilla Man” also on custom percussion and backing vocals, who joined the band for their live performances earlier this year. Jim Root himself said that the album is “the most time we’ve had to write a record, and work stuff out together” and that “while the industry is moving toward singles, Slipknot wanted to make an album experience, front to back.” On a side note, while the title of the album is taken from a line in the band’s standalone single “All Out Life”, released in 2018, that specific song is not featured on the standard edition, but only on the Japanese edition for a reason beyond my knowledge. Well, who cares, right? As long as the music found in the standard edition of the album kicks ass we can live without “All Out Life” despite that being a damn good song.

Insert Coin is one of those fantastic, ethereal intros that transport the listener into the wicked world of Slipknot, before their new anthem Unsainted, featuring the Angel City Chorale, invades our senses, with the thunderous percussion blasted by Jay and Shawn reeking classic Slipknot, all boosted by the sick shredding by Jim and Mick and lyrics that deal with Corey’s fight against depression (“Oh, I’ll never kill myself to save my soul / I was gone but how was I to know? / I didn’t come this far to sink so low / I’m finally holding on to letting go”). Needless to say, I can’t wait to watch them playing this song live next week in Toronto, like what they did on Jimmy Kimmel Live earlier this year. Birth of the Cruel, a mid-tempo tune perfect for headbanging while Corey alternates between his demented clean vocals and harsh roars, is a lot less violent but still creepy and thunderous, with Jim, Mick and Alessandro delivering tons of groove through their strings; followed by the somber bridge Death Because of Death, featuring guest vocalist Kat Primetau, warming us up for Nero Forte, bringing forward a classic fusion of Heavy and Alternative Metal and a great job done by Jay on drums, dictating the song’s pounding rhythm while Corey sounds as crazy as he can be, always supported by smooth but piercing backing vocals.

Critical Darling is an almost-radio-friendly tune by Corey, Shawn & Co., showcasing slashing riffs by the band’s badass guitar duo while Corey gnarls manically, once again supported by spot-on backing vocals which end up making the chorus extremely catchy; whereas in A Liar’s Funeral a cryptic intro morphs into some sort of “new version” of their own dark ballad “Snuff”, suddenly exploding into a neck-breaking sonority with hints of Doom and Sludge Metal, alternating between sheer melancholy and raging madness from start to finish. Then in the magnificent Red Flag we face the most classic version of Slipknot in the album, overflowing insanity, heaviness, fury and that awesome blend of the wicked noises by Sid and Craig with the venomous percussion by Shawn. Hence, this should sound outstanding if played live, not to mention how sharp both guitars and Alessandro’s bass punches sound. Then after the uncanny bridge What’s Next we’re treated to one of Slipknot’s most experimental songs of all time, Spiders, which sounds absolutely addictive, demented and fun, with all its background noises and percussion generating a unique ambience for our avid ears and mind. Put differently, simply relax, sit down and sing the song’s weird lyrics along with Corey, while Jim and Mick deliver short but crushing riffs as the music progresses.

Somber beats and riffs ignite the pulverizing Orphan, presenting the band’s trademark sonority that made them famous worldwide, and with Alessandro and Jay being on fire with their rumbling instruments while Corey’s vocals get utterly deranged, sounding perfect for smashing your skull into the circle pit. The last part of album is comprised of longer-than-usual songs that surpass the 6-minute barrier, starting with the very experimental My Pain, presenting an eerie atmosphere created by Sid and Craig and low, pensive vocalizations; however, the music never gets as heavy or fast as we’re used to, making me wonder if fans of classic Slipknot will enjoy it. Anyway, that eccentric vibe goes on in Not Long for This World, where Corey and the band’s electronic duo Sid and Craig set the tone before the rest of the band comes ripping with their acid instruments, bringing to our ears a beautiful melody and rumbling bass lines, with its creepy ending building an instant connection with Solway Firth, a circle pit-catalyst showcasing scorching riffs by Jim and Mick and endless electricity flowing from Jay’s beats, while Corey declaims the song’s austere words in great fashion (“I’m not ahead of my time- I just drew the first breath – If I’m alive tomorrow / I will alleviate the pressure… by cutting you out of me / I found my bottom line – dead on the front lines- I know I’ll never go home / So set fire to your ships and past regrets and be free”). And lastly, as aforementioned, All Out Life might be only present in the Japanese edition of the album, but it’s such a great song, perfect for slamming and screaming its lyrics together with the band (like you can see on their performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live), it makes the investment in this version of the album totally worth it.

In a nutshell, one of the most innovative and influential bands of modern metal music from the past 20 years, the one and only Slipknot, managed to deliver a fantastic album against all odds, proving once again that there’s nothing better than adversity to makes us (and, in this particular case, the entire band) stronger and more focused. Having said that, I highly recommend you grab your copy of the album, as well as other well-crafted merch, from the Slipknot Official Store, and buy your ticket for the Knotfest Roadshow when the band invades your city with their chaotic and rebellious anthems. We Are Not Your Kind might sound a bit too experimental or modern for some people, but I’m pretty sure most fans of contemporary heavy music will have a very good time listening to this multi-layered and very dense album. And whenever you catch yourself screaming “we are not your kind!” together with Corey and the guys, you’ll be at the same time showing everyone Heavy Metal is and will always be YOUR kind of music.

Best moments of the album: Unsainted, Red Flag, Spiders, Orphan and All Out Life.

Worst moments of the album: My Pain.

Released in 2019 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Insert Coin 1:38
2. Unsainted 4:20
3. Birth of the Cruel 4:35
4. Death Because of Death 1:20
5. Nero Forte 5:15
6. Critical Darling 6:25
7. A Liar’s Funeral 5:27
8. Red Flag 4:11
9. What’s Next 0:53
10. Spiders 4:03
11. Orphan 6:01
12. My Pain 6:48
13. Not Long for This World 6:35
14. Solway Firth 5:56

Japanese Edition bonus track
15. All Out Life 5:40

Band members
(#0) Sid Wilson – turntables, keyboards
(#4) Jim Root – lead and rhythm guitars
(#5) Craig “133” Jones – samples, media, keyboards
(#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan – custom percussion, backing vocals
(#7) Mick Thomson – lead and rhythm guitars
(#8) Corey Taylor – lead vocals
Alessandro Venturella – bass
Jay Weinberg – drums

Guest musicians
Angel City Chorale – choral performance on “Unsainted”
Kat Primetau – additional vocals on “Death Because of Death”

Album Review – The Promise Of Plague / The Tomb Of Lost Lovers (2019)

The debut album by this American quartet is an obscure fusion of black, industrial, punk and electronic, and you’ll simply love this style known as “Electro Black”.

Featuring members and ex-members of bands like Abominant, Fatal Step, Astrum Empyrean Asunder, Absence of Faith, Märcoda and Assisting Sorrow, the Louisville, Kentucky-based four-piece Industrial Black Metal entity known as The Promise Of Plague is back in 2019 with their debut full-length opus entitled The Tomb Of Lost Lovers, a huge step forward for the band in terms of creativity, strength and overall sound production compared to their 2016 demo Sleepwalking Into Armageddon. Comprised of Jim Higgins and Ashley Vega on vocals, Jerry Barksdale on guitars, keys and programming, and Chris Dalton on bass, The Promise Of Plague play an obscure and piercing fusion of Black and Industrial Metal infused with Punk Rock and electronic elements, or as some people like to say, they play a fairly new style called “Electro Black”.

And their Electro Black becomes already crystal clear in the opening track You Became My Noose, ignited by cutting guitars and electronic beats intertwined with whimsical keys, with Jim alternating between demonic roars and clean, anguished vocals and also presenting symphonic nuances in the background as a welcome add-on. Tim keeps gnarling in great Black Metal fashion in The Quiet, while Jerry slashes his guitar and Ashley brings some finesse to the music with her vocals in a short and sweet display of modern Industrial Black Metal; followed by These Stones Were Meant To Be Thrown, where its imposing and rockin’ vibe reminds me of the primeval days of the unparalleled Cradle of Filth. Furthermore, Jerry and Chris are ruthless with their stringed weapons, while Jim and Ashley make an amazing duet once again exhaling anger, passion, melancholy and darkness from their vocal lines, sounding at the same time furious and doomed. And what can I say about their cover version for Venom’s Warhead? It’s just as raw and infernal as the original one released in 1984 (check it out HERE), showcasing a great job done by Jerry with his scorching hot riffs and the hints of Doom Metal added to the musicality to make it more demonic.

Then leaning towards the classic Doom Metal played by Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost we have Insolent, sounding and feeling considerably different from the previous songs of the album and presenting another spot-on performance by both Jim and Ashley on vocals. In other words, it’s dark, heavy and damned, ending in the most melancholic and beautiful manner you can think of. Chris’ low-tuned bass lines fill every empty space in the somber Mine Is A Place Called Hell, where Ashley’s clean vocals make a very interesting paradox with Jim’s hellish screeches in what’s perhaps the most electronic of all songs, perfectly depicting what Electro Black is all about. And lastly, the title-track Tomb Of Lost Lovers is a rumbling and dancing hybrid of classic Black Metal with electronic music, with Jerry bringing tons of epicness with his keys. Not only that, it should work really well at a dark electro party, with all band members delivering sheer aggression and electricity form their respective instruments.

I guess after reading this humble review of The Tomb Of Lost Lovers you got really curious about what Electro Black is, right? If your answer is yes, go check what The Promise Of Plague are up to on their official Facebook page, and grab your copy of the album directly from the band’s own BandCamp page. In a nutshell, The Promise Of Plague might not be reinventing the wheel with their fusion of metal and non-metal styles, but they have certainly unleashed an interesting and entertaining beast of heaviness, fury and darkness with their debut album, pointing to a very healthy future for the quartet and, who knows, inspiring more underground musicians who are starting their careers in heavy music to venture through the realms of Electro Black, a subgenre of metal that will never go mainstream without any doubt, and we’ll always love it that way.

Best moments of the album: These Stones Were Meant To Be Thrown and Insolent.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. You Became My Noose 3:54
2. The Quiet 1:53
3. These Stones Were Meant To Be Thrown 4:38
4. Warhead (Venom cover) 3:03
5. Insolent 5:44
6. Mine Is A Place Called Hell 3:18
7. Tomb Of Lost Lovers 3:50

Band members
Jim Higgins – vocals
Ashley Vega – vocals
Jerry Barksdale – guitar, keys, electronics
Chris Dalton – bass

Album Review – Inanimate Existence / Clockwork (2019)

A pulverizing album of Technical and Progressive Death Metal by a ruthless Bay Area triumvirate, dealing with the human tendency to struggle with the acceptance of mortality and our limited time on earth.

Formed in 2011 in the renowned Bay Area, in the state of California, United States, Progressive/Technical Death Metal trio Inanimate Existence returns in 2019 with a brand new opus entitled Clockwork, the follow-up to the group’s highly praised fourth album, Underneath a Melting Sky, released in 2017. Featuring a futuristic and whimsical cover art by by Justin Abraham (who has already worked with bands like Equipoise, Aepoch and Oubliette), with additional artwork by Mark Erskine (from Erskine Designs), recorded by Inanimate Existence and Zack Ohren, and mixed and mastered by Zack Ohren at Shark Bite Studios in Oakland, California, Clockwork delves deeper into cerebral Progressive Death Metal depths, while buoyed by the group’s established penchant for merciless full-throttle brutality and frenetic tech-death driven terrain.

And the band comprised of Cameron Porras on vocals and guitar, Scott Bradley on bass and backing vocals, and Ron Casey (Continuum, Brain Drill) on drums had a few nice words to say about their newborn spawn. “We’re thrilled to finally be able to share our 5th studio album with all of you! This is definitely the most work we have ever put into an album by a long shot. Sound wise I’d say that it’s a continuation of our last album but much more polished and mature,” commented the band, describing Clockwork’s thematic focus as “dealing with the human tendency to struggle with the acceptance of mortality and our limited time on earth. It explores the questions we torment ourselves with during life along with the irony of how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of the universe. The title refers to the mechanisms of a clock and how every tick brings you closer to your doom.”

The trio begins firing their fusion of insanity and progression mercilessly in the title-track Clockwork, with Ron dictating the rhythm with his furious beats while Cameron brings a touch of delicacy to the music with his guitar riffs and solos, sounding at the same time devastating and very melodic; whereas in Voyager we’re treated to lyrics that exhale insanity (“Isolated, trapped inside the capsule / I fear that I may now be on my own / My crew have perished, and I am alone / Orbiting beyond the atmosphere / My communications are down and the power is cut / I gaze back to the Earth / Wondering, will I be remembered?”), with the music bringing elements from smoother styles like Jazz while Scott extracts sheer thunder from his intricate bass lines. This talented American triumvirate keeps smashing our senses with their vicious Progressive Death Metal attack in Apophenia, as complex and pulverizing as possible, sounding as if the almighty Krisiun went full progressive at times, offering to the listener several neck-breaking moments led by Ron’s insane drumming; and their metal extravaganza goes on in Desert, with all three member firing wicked and intricate sounds and tones from their respective instruments. Put differently, it’s straightforward Progressive Death Metal with a vibrant atmosphere, not to mention Cameron’s sick solos adding some welcome lunacy to the overall result.

In Solitude the band offers us pensive and modern lyrics (“I return to solitude / Where once again I contemplate / What my purpose is inside this burdensome reality / I return to solitude / Where once again I contemplate / What is my purpose?”), while its instrumental parts are absolutely mental, with both Cameron and Ron crushing their weapons nonstop, followed by Diagnosis, where the band continues to slash our ears with the modernized and very complex version of Death Metal. Moreover, the bass lines by Scott sound insanely heavy and metallic, with the music also bringing interesting eerie passages and breaks (despite going on for a bit too long). Then back to a more demonic and infuriated mode we have Ocean, blending the most violent and thrilling elements from Progressive and Death Metal with Ron sounding infernal on drums, therefore providing Cameron the perfect ambience for gnarling deeply and rabidly, once again presenting spot-on melodic and ethereal passages. Lastly, Liberation closes the album with more of the dynamic, electrifying sounds from the depths of the human psyche by the trio, with Scott and Ron bringing thunder to the musicality while Cameron keeps delivering harmonious riffs and solos while growling like a beast until the song’s visceral ending.

You can have your brain shredded into pieces by listening to Clockwork in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and after being stunned by Inanimate Existence simply go check what they’re up to on their official Facebook page, including their tour dates, and purchase your copy of their brand new opus from their BandCamp page, from The Artisan Era webstore (in several exclusive formats and bundles), from Apple Music or from Amazon. As aforementioned, the band itself said that we all struggle with the concept of mortality and our limited time on this planet, which means we should not waste too much time thinking but enjoying some good, destructive and complex Death Metal while we’re alive, with Clockwork being an excellent choice for that.

Best moments of the album: Voyager, Desert and Ocean.

Worst moments of the album: Diagnosis.

Released in 2019 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Clockwork 4:34
2. Voyager 5:40
3. Apophenia 4:37
4. Desert 4:06
5. Solitude 4:42
6. Diagnosis 5:34
7. Ocean 4:55
8. Liberation 6:43

Band members
Cameron Porras – vocals, guitar
Scott Bradley – bass, vocals
Ron Casey – drums