About Gustavo Scuderi

"If I could survive to live one more time I wouldn't be changing a thing at all Done more in my life than some do in ten I'd go back and do it all over again..."

Album Review – Leper Colony / Leper Colony (2023)

***Review by Luke Hayhurst, writer for Morbid Wings (Print) ZineVM Underground Fanzine and Doom-Metal.com***

I’m very much of the opinion that Rogga Johansson doesn’t sleep! How can he sleep with a list of bands and projects that would keep a civil servant happy for a decade? His latest endeavour is the Death/Thrash Metal triumvirate Leper Colony, who have chosen Friday the 13th of January as a suitable date to unleash their debut self-titled album through Transcending Obscurity Records.

You can’t ask for a more powerful opener than The Human Paradox; a blistering track of intensive Death Metal ferocity and wild thrashing aggression. Deep growled vocals bring to life a very captivating chorus section whilst chugging riffs and frenzied drumming complete with punishing bass and extravagant guitar melodies. ‘Perdition’s End’ is a more direct and hard-hitting track with simpler riffs and in-your face vocals, though the rhythm guitar here has a cold tinge to it that is rather enigmatic.

There is little variation to this opus which spans just over the half an hour mark, save for the odd passage of slower, groovier rhythm such as during tracks like Rapture Addict. However, the ferocious aggression, raging guitar solos and fuck you attitude certainly make up for that! A very listenable album full to the gills with mighty riffs, energetic urgent drumming styles and unadulterated violence.

Best moments of the album: The roaring opener that is The Human Paradox.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2023 by Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. The Human Paradox 4:22
2. Perdition’s End 3:19
3. The Surgical Undeadvors 3:43
4. Tar and Feathers 3:15
5. Rapture Addict 4:40
6. Leper Colony 4:35
7. A Flow So Greatly Macabre 3:20
8. Flesh Crawl Demise 3:24
9. Gruesome End 2:55

Band members
Marc Grewe – vocals
Rogga Johansson – guitars, bass
Jon Skäre – drums

Links
Leper Colony Facebook | YouTube | BandCamp | Spotify | Apple Music | Amazon

Album Review – Seven Doors / Feast of the Repulsive Dead (2023)

Behold the spine-chilling debut album by this one-man outfit from the UK, flawlessly combining his passion for 70’s and 80’s horror films with his love for 90’s Death Metal.

A one-man horror-themed Death Metal band formed in 2020 in Cornwall, located in the southwest of the UK, the unrelenting Seven Doors, whose name is inspired by the name of the hotel in Lucio Fulci’s 1981 film The Beyond, is ready to take everything to the next level of horror with the project’s debut full-length album Feast of the Repulsive Dead, the follow-up to its 2021 debut EP The Gates of Hell. Recorded by the project’s mastermind, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Wills, mixed by Ben King at Cryptic Sound, mastered by JB Van Der Wal at Hewwetover Studio, and displaying an 80’s horror flick-themed cover art by Dedy Badic Art, Feast of the Repulsive Dead flawlessly combines Ryan’s passion for 70’s and 80’s horror films with his love for 90’s Death Metal, with his musical influences stemming from renowned acts like Death, Gorguts, Asphyx, Malevolent Creation and Cannibal Corpse, resulting in a banger of a record that will certainly grab the attention of Death Metal enthusiasts worldwide.

Fully created by Slasher Dave of Acid Witch, A Quiet Night in the Cemetery is a great intro absolutely inspired by all of those awesome slasher flicks form the 80’s, sending shivers down your spine before Ryan begins decimating his guitar in the title-track Feast of the Repulsive Dead, a lesson in brutality and gore where he roars and gnarls deeply like a creature taken from a horror movie. And Ryan keeps distilling his visceral, in-your-face Death Metal in the also demolishing Stalked, Strangled and Stabbed, displaying an amazing job done with his riffage and his vile but intricate beats; followed by The Morbid Mortician, with the guest solo by Paul Nazarkardeh of De Profundis bringing an extra touch of insanity to the music, therefore living up to the legacy of the genre, with the song’s infuriated riffage being a thing of beauty. Ryan’s fusion of Death Metal and horror continues to impress in Welcome Back to Life, offering more of his demonic growls amidst a neck-breaking sonic devastation, whereas inspired by giants the likes of Immolation, Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel, it’s time for a mid-tempo, heavy-as-hell tune titled I’ll Swallow Your Soul, with Ryan once again being on fire with all instruments.

It’s then time to slam into the circle pit to the sound of the Death Metal extravaganza titled The Hack Shack, showcasing a huge dosage of violence and gore spiced up by the hard work Ryan put into each second of the song, feeling very detailed, exciting and brutal, and there’s no time to breathe as Ryan continues to crush our damned souls in Isolated Existence, another Cannibal Corpse-inspired tune presenting hammering drums and demented riffs. After such demolishing tune, a serene intro explodes into sheer violence and hatred in The Graves of Matool. Needless to say, Ryan sounds infernal with both his guttural roars and unstoppable Death Metal riffs; and Ryan still has a lot of fuel to burn with Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers, featuring the guest solos by Chris Monroy and Mike De La O of Skeletal Remains, another bestial composition where his bass and drums will hit you hard in the head. Lastly, we have his rendition of Malevolent Creation’s Eve of the Apocalypse (check the original one HERE from their 1992 album Retribution), and I must say what a beautiful tribute by Ryan and his Seven Doors, sounding as demented and obscure as the original version.

“The key theme here for me is density: protein-packed riffs rip along with satisfying retro thickness, sometimes shifting gears up into buzzing tremolo passages, and everything from the kick drum to the vocals just packs onto the satisfying impact. That’s not to say anything is overcrowded, but thin and lifeless death metal this is not. Classic staples of the genre, like larger-than-life solos floating on top of the mix and gnarly bass runs helping to kick off songs, keep Feast of the Repulsive Dead grounded and viciously enjoyable throughout. Whether or not you’re in the right climate to share my mindset, the end of the year – and this year specifically – tends to be rough for many reasons. Let Seven Doors drive away some of those worries through sheer force,” commented Ryan about his fantastic, must-listen new opus, and if you want to show him your support you can follow Seven Doors on Facebook and Instagram, stream his music on Spotify, and purchase a copy of Feast of the Repulsive Dead from his own BandCamp page, or from the Redefining Darkness Records’ webstore in the US (as a CD or an LP) and in Europe (also as a CD or as an LP) sooner than a dead body can resuscitate as a zombie.

Best moments of the album: Feast of the Repulsive Dead, The Morbid Mortician, The Hack Shack and Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers.

Worst moments of the album: Absolutely none.

Released in 2023 Redefining Darkness Records

Track listing
1. A Quiet Night in the Cemetery 1:08
2. Feast of the Repulsive Dead 4:56
3. Stalked, Strangled and Stabbed 3:55
4. The Morbid Mortician 5:00
5. Welcome Back to Life 4:20
6. I’ll Swallow Your Soul 4:01
7. The Hack Shack 3:38
8. Isolated Existence 4:13
9. The Graves of Matool 5:40
10. Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers 3:13
11. Eve of the Apocalypse (Malevolent Creation cover) 3:05

Band members
Ryan Wills – vocals, all instruments

Guest musicians
Slasher Dave – everything on “A Quiet Night in the Cemetery”
Paul Nazarkardeh – guitar solo on “The Morbid Mortician”
Chris Monroy – guitar solo on “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers”
Mike De La O – guitar solo on “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers”

Album Review – Tidal Wave / The Lord Knows (2023)

An impressive and memorable collection of songs that aims to fill each air particle with fire, fuzz and power by an up-and-coming Swedish Heavy Rock outfit.

Forged in 2019 in the fires of Sundsvall, a city and the seat of Sundsvall Municipality in Västernorrland County, Sweden, the Heavy Rock quartet that goes by the name of Tidal Wave is ready to crush our souls with their new album The Lord Knows, drawing from a fertile wellspring of influences including classic bands like Black Sabbath, Nirvana, and Audioslave. Comprised of Alexander ‘Sunkan’ Sundqvist on vocals, Jesper ‘Jerpo’ Sjödin on the guitars, Adam ‘Aden’ Nordin on bass, and Rasmus ‘Raz’ Sundberg on drums, Tidal Wave offer us all in their new album an impressive and memorable collection of songs that aims to fill each air particle with fire, fuzz and power, delivering epic solos for ages and mind-blowing vocals and, therefore, carving their names in the Swedish Heavy and Stoner Rock scene.

The dirty bass by Adam and the groovy riffage by Jesper kick off the rockin’ tune Lizard King, perfect for hitting the road due to its Heavy Rock sound with hints of Stoner and Sludge Metal, not to mention how powerful the vocals by Alexander sound. Then it’s pedal to the metal because it’s time for a Rock N’ Roll party titled End of the Line, a fast and electrifying tune showcasing an amazing job done by Rasmus on drums while Jesper keeps slashing our ears with his old school riffs; followed by Marijuana Trench, bringing forward six minutes of an acid musical trip for the masses. Needless to say, Alexander keeps kicking ass on vocals supported by the rumbling bass by Adam. And the band invests into an almost pure Stoner Metal sound in Pentagram, reminding me of giants of the genre such as Black Sabbath, Candlemass and Pentagram, with Rasmus dictating the song’s obscure pace with his sluggish beats.

Let’s bang our heads like there’s no tomorrow to the sound of Robbero Bobbero, sounding visceral and thrilling form start to finish with Alexander taking the lead with his sick vocals, while Jesper and Adam deliver a raw stringed attack for our total delight. Rasmus ignites another one of the band’s Heavy Rock onrush in By Order of the King, which despite starting as the soundtrack to an action movie car chase, it loses its punch after a while; whereas enhancing their heaviness to a whole new level they offer our avid ears the sinister, melancholic and grim Purple Bird, with Alexander once again stealing the show with his passionate vocal performance. And last but not least, it’s time for one final Heavy Rock tune infused with acid titled Thorsakir, again presenting the band’s trademark guitar dirtiness and doomed beats and with Adam being on fire armed with his bass, bringing groove and thunder to the music.

If you want to drown under the majestic waves of Heavy Rock crafted by those Swedish rockers, you can find all details about them on Facebook and on Instagram, and don’t forget to also stream their creations on YouTube and on Spotify, or simply click HERE for all things Tidal Wave. The excellent The Lord Knows, available for purchase from Ripple Music’s BandCamp page, webstore or Big Cartel (as a CD or as a deluxe vinyl edition), sets the bar high for Tidal Wave in their upcoming releases, living up to the legacy of Scandinavian Heavy Rock and, consequently, adding even more fuel to the band’s tank to keep on rockin’ in our free world.

Best moments of the album: End of the Line, Marijuana Trench and Robbero Bobbero.

Worst moments of the album: By Order of the King.

Released in 2023 Ripple Music

Track listing
1. Lizard King 4:08
2. End of the Line 3:34
3. Marijuana Trench 6:29
4. Pentagram 5:45
5. Robbero Bobbero 4:39
6. By Order of the King 5:38
7. Purple Bird 5:07
8. Thorsakir 5:57

Band members
Alexander ‘Sunkan’ Sundqvist – vocals
Jesper ‘Jerpo’ Sjödin – guitar
Adam ‘Aden’ Nordin – bass
Rasmus ‘Raz’ Sundberg – drums

Album Review – Nothingness / Supraliminal (2023)

Raise your horns to the cauldronous mix of multiple extreme styles carefully crafted by this remorseless Death Metal entity from Minnesota.

Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Death Metal purveyors Nothingness are finally back with their sophomore album, entitled Supraliminal, following up on their critically acclaimed 2019 debut album The Hollow Gaze of Death. Tracked, mixed, and mastered by Adam Tucker at Signaturetone Recording, produced by Nothingness and Adam Tucker, and displaying a sick artwork by Mark Voortallen (aka Vulture), Supraliminal brings to our ears a cauldronous mix of multiple extreme styles carefully crafted by Barclay Olson on vocals, Alex Walstad on the guitars, bass, syntsh, 12 string and backing vocals, and Jason Hirt on drums, always respecting the history of metal and, therefore, being recommended for admirers of Gorguts, Gojira, Morbid Angel and Iniquity, among others extreme music giants.

Featuring DgS of Suffering Hour on guest vocals, the opening tune Curse of Creation brings forward sick lyrics barked by Barclay (“Formed gilded rotted repeated / Malformed deities adorn Gardens of / Spiritual decay / Death feeds / Mankind breeds / The Flame consumes / resplendently / Life is a curse”) amidst sheer groove, violence and intricacy, and Alex keeps hammering his guitar and bass supported by the massive beast by Jason in the old school Death Metal feast titled Horrendous Incantation, blasting a no shenanigans, in-your-face sonority that will please all fans of the genre. Catapulted Into Hyperspace, featuring guest guitars by YhA of Suffering Hour and guest vocals by XH, offers more of the band’s vicious metal attack, with Jason once again kicking some ass behind his drums, whereas Temple of Broken Swords brings to our ears over six minutes of a disturbing atmosphere generated by the band, resulting in an infernal display of Death Metal spearheaded by the visceral roars by Barclay.

And that heavy and somber ambience keeps darkening our minds in Festering Abstraction, presenting hints of Blackened Doom for our total delight; followed by Inviolate Viscera, featuring guest Jubjy on vibraslap and YhA once again on the guitars, the shortest of all songs but exhaling pure evil spiced up by its vile lyrics (“Wandering down writhing corridors / Twisting turning / Coming apart at the seams / Tunnels worming ever inward / Fluid leaking from in between”). Then blending Death and Doom Metal in a meticulous manner, the band fires seven Stygian minutes in Beacon of Loss, where Jason pounds his drums manically while Barclay vociferates deeply until the very last second, and get ready to have your skull crushed by the band in The Anvil, one of the heaviest songs of the album led by the venomous growling by Barclay, overflowing groove and sulfur. Lastly, DgS is back on vocals in Decimation Mechanism, starting in a very sinister way before morphing into one final onrush of obscure death, also showcasing an amazing job done on the guitars by Alex.

You can soon put your dirty, damned hands on Supraliminal by purchasing the album from the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp page or webstore in CD or tape format, and don’t forget to also start following Nothingness on Facebook and on Instagram for all things surrounding the band, and to stream more of their wicked creations on Spotify. In a nutshell, those Minneapolis guys definitely know how to create crushing, visceral, heavy-as-hell Death Metal, with Supraliminal presenting a big step in their career and, consequently, pointing to a bright future ahead of them without a shadow of a doubt.

Best moments of the album: Horrendous Incantation, Temple of Broken Swords and The Anvil.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2023 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. Curse of Creation 4:31
2. Horrendous Incantation 4:19
3. Catapulted Into Hyperspace 4:37
4. Temple of Broken Swords 6:36
5. Festering Abstraction 5:10
6. Inviolate Viscera 2:37
7. Beacon of Loss 7:11
8. The Anvil 3:42
9. Decimation Mechanism 4:43

Band members
Barclay Olson – vocals
Alex Walstad – guitar, bass, synth, 12 string, backing vocals
Jason Hirt – drums

Guest musicians
DgS – additional vocals on “Curse of Creation” and “Decimation Mechanism”
YhA – additional guitars on “Catapulted Into Hyperspace” and “Inviolate Viscera”
XH – additional vocals on “Catapulted Into Hyperspace”
Jubjy – vibraslap on “Inviolate Viscera”

Concert Review – Walter Froebrich Memorial Show (The Rockpile, Toronto, ON, 01/07/2023)

A beautiful tribute to the life of the Metal Mayor of Toronto and his undisputed passion for heavy music. 

INTRODUCTION: AM HERE…

If you have no idea who Walter Froebrich was, let’s say he was the Metal Mayor of Toronto, as I’ve seen many people referring to him as. He was in pretty much every metal concert we all attended i the city in the past 20 years, from Heavy Metal to Death and Black Metal, from Thrash Metal to Deathcore and Viking Metal, and so on, always holding a few beers, always raising the horns, always surrounded by friends, and always supporting metal music no matter what. He even had his own motto, “AM HERE.” Sadly, in November 2022 due to lack of proper healthcare by the Toronto authorities Walter passed away at home after several visits to the hospital, and that brought a lot of grief to all metal fans in the city. If he had received a proper service, if he had been through the required scans and so on, he would still be around us. He will be extremely missed by the metal community in all upcoming concerts in Toronto, no doubt about that. I was going to use the common expression “may his soul rest in piece”, but I’m sure Walter himself would prefer a slight adaptation of it, “may his soul rest in metal”.

WALTER FROEBRICH MEMORIAL SHOW

That’s why on January 7 the Toronto scene came together to celebrate Walter’s life and his passion for heavy music at The Rockpile with the Walter Froebrich Memorial Show, an event organized by Steve Hoeg, Drew Masters, Junior Jr LeClerc and Jake Disman, among others, with no more, no less than TWENTY SEVEN bands playing from 1pm until midnight to a sold out venue, while money for Walter’s family was raised through a silent auction and a 50/50 draw. Unfortunately due to personal reasons I could not attend the celebration, but my friend and photographer Keith Ibbitson of Lower Eastside Photography was there to capture some amazing shots of the entire show, and to provide us with a sense of how awesome everything was and how happy Walter must be whenever he is right now with his homage.

In Keith’s own words, “we raised over 17,000 dollars for Walter’s family. It was a sold out show. All the bands were absolutely amazing! Drew Masters was the MC for the evening. The friends Walter made over his concerts outings just blew my mind! Each one is family, the metal community is one big family, they come together for each other like no other.” And as you can see from the photo gallery below, it was indeed a night to remember, a celebration of life and metal, exactly how Walter would have liked it to be. Here are all the fantastic bands that were on the bill, and as many people have said Walter would have certainly taken a selfie with each one of them…

The House of Haunt
Snake River Redemption
Dominant Species
Madam
Anger by Design
GFU
Dawn Vally
Cowboys from Hell (Pantera tribute)
Disciple (Slayer tribute)
King Moonracer
Byrdy
Fury 44
Sons Of Sabbath
Freeloader
Spades GT
MLC
Omnivert
Devil Witch
The Dominion
The Android Meme
Burdizzo
Crème Flesh
Pillars of Eternity (Down tribute)
Red Lowe (circus performer)
Phear
Chainfall
Gen-X (90’s rock cover band)

In the Facebook page to the event you can find a lot more details about the whole thing, see other photos taken by different attendees, other posts and discussions around Walter and the metal community in Toronto, and so on, as well as a very nice summary of the night on the video below. RIP WALTER! AM HERE!

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Album Review – Fatalismo / Dominate to Exterminate EP (2023)

Bang your heads to the debut EP by this Puerto Rican Melodic Death Metal horde, telling the story of how sometimes we feel dominated by dark thoughts or by someone with evil intentions.

Hailing from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, the newborn Melodic Death Metal squad known as Fatalismo is ready to crush our souls with their debut EP, entitled Dominate to Exterminate, highly recommended for fans of The Crown, Hypocrisy, Dark Tranquility and Kataklysm, among others. Recorded at Music Rite Studio, produced by the band’s own vocalist Abraham Baez, mixed and mastered by their own guitarist Joel Rodriguez, and displaying a sick artwork by Giannis Nakos of Remedy Art Design, Dominate to Exterminate tells the story of how sometimes we feel dominated by dark thoughts or by someone with evil intentions, showcasing all the talent and passion for extreme music by the aforementioned Abraham and Joel alongside bassist Jose Ortiz and drummer Norman Saez.

Joel (with the help of guest guitarist Rafael Sanchez) ignites the band’s Puerto Rican attack with his infernal riffs in Dominate to Exterminate, while Jose blasts his bass manically. Moreover, although their core sound is rooted in Melodic Death Metal, there’s a lot of classic Death Metal to enjoy in their music, and they continue their infuriated onrush in Undeceased, with Norman crushing his drums and inviting us all to slam our cranial skulls into the circle pit while Abraham roars and screams in the name of extreme music. Then adding elements from traditional Thrash Metal to their core sonority the quartet keeps hammering our heads nonstop with their piercing riffs and rumbling bass lines in Darkest Thoughts, not to mention how demented Abraham sounds on vocals; whereas the melodic riffs by Joel and Rafael will penetrate deep inside your mind in The Devil Came to Play, sounding extremely heavy and groovy thanks to the excellent job done by the band’s kitchen of Jose and Norman. Finally, closing such powerful EP we have Sacred Hills, a vicious, neck-breaking extravaganza led by the classic beats by Norman while Abraham keeps vociferating like a beast for our total delight, ending their metallic feast on a high note.

In summary, Dominate to Exterminate might be short in duration, but it effectively represents everything Fatalismo are capable of, and if you want to show your utmost support to the Puerto Rican metal scene you can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and so on, subscribe to their YouTube channel and stream their music on Spotify, and of course purchase a copy of Dominate to Exterminate by clicking HERE. The band offers us all in their new album five songs that at the same deal with fictional stories and the state of mind and emotions of humanity these days, and after listening to its intense 18 minutes of music you’ll quickly realize there’s no better music style to perfectly represent our rotten reality than our good old Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: Undeceased and Sacred Hills.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2023 Independent

Track listing
1. Dominate to Exterminate 4:33
2. Undeceased 2:46
3. Darkest Thoughts 3:16
4. The Devil Came to Play 3:26
5. Sacred Hills 3:49

Band members
Abraham Baez – vocals
Joel Rodriguez – guitars
Jose Ortiz – bass
Norman Saez – drums

Guest musician
Rafael Sanchez – guitars

Album Review – Wretched Fate / Carnal Heresy (2023)

***Review by Luke Hayhurst, writer for Morbid Wings (Print) ZineVM Underground Fanzine and Doom-Metal.com***

I find a lot of the cover art that is created by Skadvaldur to be very impressive, but the artwork for Carnal Heresy is a step above even his usual work. This is the sophomoric album from Swedish Death Metal band Wretched Fate and has been put out on CD and LP through those purveyors of all things excellent and dark, Redefining Darkness Records.

Right from the opening moments of Mind Desecrator the carnage on display is all encompassing. A sonically brutal apocalypse of malicious intent laden guitar tones combined with a deep and ominous sounding bass display, as well as a thuggish old school drumming style and gripping vocal work from frontman Adrian Selmani whose rumbling growls are harrowing and yet draw you into every chorus!

Whereas some Death Metal bands like to create a dark and gloomy atmosphere, Wretched Fate sticks doggedly to brutality over everything else, with a viciously technical underbelly in the form of twisting and writhing guitar rhythms. So whilst other bands are focusing on layered atmospherics, Wretched Fate are too busy chugging you into the abyss for any of that!

I wouldn’t expect anything less from an album entitled Carnal Heresy than a full blooded Death Metal beatdown, and these Swedish purveyors of riffs and decimation deliver up a grueling display of powerful and sickening hostility and barbaric violence.

Best moments of the album: I love how the vocals draw you into each chorus!

Worst moments of the album: Nothing, it’s a strong album in all areas.

Released in 2023 by Redefining Darkness Records

Track listing
1. Mind Desecrator 3:24
2. Momentary Suicide 3:25
3. Utterance from the Inhuman Tongue 3:05
4. Cry from Beyond 4:25
5. Umbilical Suffocation 5:26
6. Harlots for Suffering 4:02
7. Upon the Weak 4:40
8. Morbid Testament 4:36
9. Spineless Horror 5:55

Band members
Adrian Selmani – vocals
Mats Andersson – guitars, backing vocals
Fredrik Wikberg – guitars, guitar solo on “Utterance from the Inhuman Tongue”
Robin Magnusson – bass
Samuel Karlstrand – drums

Guest musicians
Alexander Högborn – additional vocals on “Utterance from the Inhuman Tongue”
Mikael Hanni – additional vocals on “Harlots for Suffering”

Links
Wretched Fate Official website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp | Spotify

Album Review – Barnabas Sky / What Comes To Light (2023)

Combining groovy guitar riffs, catchy choruses and spherical synth sounds, the sophomore album by German multi-instrumentalist Markus Pfeffer offers us all another exciting Hard Rock voyage.

The brainchild of Kaiserslautern, Germany-based multi-instrumentalist Markus Pfeffer (Winterland, Scarlett, Lazarus Dream), Melodic Hard Rock project Barnabas Sky combines groovy guitar riffs, catchy choruses, distinctive voices of several singers with international reputation, spherical synth sounds and filigree solos to a timeless rock melange way beyond short-lived trends, which is exactly what you’ll get in the project’s sophomore opus, titled What Comes To Light, the follow-up to its 2021 debut Inspirations. Supported by drummer Thomas Rieder and an array of guest vocalists the likes of Jesse Damon (Silent Rage), Doogie White (Rainbow), Dan Reed, Roy Cathey (Coald Sweat), Dirk Kennedy (Hittman), Carsten Lizard Schulz (Evidence One, Domain), Lee Small (Lionheart), Alan Tecchio (Wartchtower) and Danny Vaughn (Tyketto), Markus embellishes the airwaves with his fusion of Hard Rock and AOR, with the beautiful artwork by Stan W. Decker (Powerwolf, Megadeth, Rage, Masterplan) and the mastering by Rolf Munkes (Michael Schenker, Mad Max, Voodoo Circle) at Empire Studios turning the album into a must-listen for fans of Winterland, Tyketto, Silent Rage, Rainbow and Phenomena, among others.

Featuring the talented Danny Vaughn of Tyketto on vocals, the title-track What Comes To Light brings forward a mix of classic Hard Rock taken directly from the 80’s with modern-day Melodic Rock, spiced up by the amazing job done by Markus with his melodious riffs while Thomas brings tons of groove to the music. Then we have We Are Electric, featuring vocalist Lee Small of SHY, Phenomena and Lionheart, a more rhythmic tune where the bass lines by Markus sound metallic and vibrant, offering Lee exactly what he needs to shine on vocals; followed by Till My Dying Days, featuring Roy Cathey of Cold Sweat and The Fifth on vocals, another modern rock creation by Markus showcasing ethereal backing vocals, classy guitars and passionate vocal lines. Then with the one and only Doogie White of Alcatrazz, Rainbow and Malmsteen on vocals, we have Circus Of Delight, where Markus is once again on fire armed with his guitar and bass while Thomas kicks ass as usual on drums. Needless to say, Doogie has an incendiary performance on vocals. And featuring Dan Reed of Dan Reed Network, Take A Ride is a synth-fueled Hard Rock/AOR extravaganza showcasing delicate but powerful vocals by Dan, while Markus once again brings the groove with his bass lines.

A futuristic and thunderous intro gradually evolves into a Rock N’ Roll song titled A Dying Song, featuring guest vocals by Carsten ‘Lizard’ Schulz of Lazarus Dream and Devoid, and despite its solid structure it could have been slightly shorter, though; whereas Deibys Artigas Venegas of Preincarnation kicks ass on vocals in Isolation, where pure 80’s Hard Rock flows from all instruments and of course from Deibys’ vocals, sounding very exciting from start to finish and with Markus being spot-on with his riffs and solos. Then we have Grant Me A Wish From Heaven, with vocals by Jesse Damon of Silent Rage and backing vocals by Paul Sabu, a solid mid-tempo creation by Markus and his henchmen; and get ready to bang your head together with Barnabas Sky in One Or The Other, showcasing guest Alan Tecchio of Watchtower on vocals, sounding electrifying and modern without losing the project’s core essence rooted in the 80’s. Featuring Dirk Kennedy of Hittman on vocals we have Seven Wonders, closing the regular version of the album by offering our ears more of the project’s melodic and thrilling rock music, whereas Lee Small returns in the bonus track No Tomorrow, a very entertaining composition that’s worth the investment in the physical version of the album, with Lee stealing the spotlight with another stylish vocal performance.

Markus Pfeffer and his Barnabas Sky are waiting for you on Facebook with news, more of the project’s classy rock music, and other nice to know details about it, and of course if you want to purchase a copy of What Comes To Light you can find all information you need by clicking HERE. In a nutshell, it’s impressive how Markus was capable of putting together such cohesive and dynamic album even with so many different vocalists as guest musicians. Well, all of those vocalists are extremely talented, which already helped him a lot in shaping up the album to be so powerful and balanced, but there are many out there who wouldn’t have been able to reach the same level of quality, proving how skillful and focused Markus is and, therefore, leaving the gates oh heaven and hell open for Markus and his henchmen to deliver another excellent album of Hard Rock in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: What Comes To Light, Circus Of Delight and Isolation.

Worst moments of the album: A Dying Song.

Released in 2023 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. What Comes To Light 4:53
2. We Are Electric 4:33
3. Till My Dying Days 4:49
4. Circus Of Delight 4:44
5. Take A Ride 4:24
6. A Dying Song 8:04
7. Isolation 5:47
8. Grant Me A Wish From Heaven 4:16
9. One Or The Other 4:22
10. Seven Wonders 6:02

CD bonus track
11. No Tomorrow 4:59

Band members
Markus Pfeffer – guitars, bass, keyboards, synths

Guest musicians
Danny Vaughn – vocals on “What Comes To Light”
Dan Reed – vocals on “Take A Ride”
Doogie White – vocals on “Circus Of Delight”
Jesse Damon – vocals on “Grant Me A Wish From Heaven”
Roy Cathey – vocals on “Till My Dying Days”
Dirk Kennedy – vocals on “Seven Wonders”
Lee Small – vocals on “We Are Electric”
Carsten ‘Lizard’ Schulz – vocals on “A Dying Song”
Alan Tecchio – vocals on “One Or The Other”
Deibys Artigas Venegas – vocals on “Isolation”
Thomas Rieder – drums, percussion
Paul Sabu – backing vocals on “Grant Me A Wish From Heaven”
Stephan Hugo – backing vocals

Album Review – Grá / Lycaon (2023)

Succumb to the dark side of music ruled by this Swedish Black Metal horde armed with their sinister and visceral fourth studio album.

Since their inception in Stockholm, Sweden in 2010, the fantastic Black Metal entity Grá (a mixture of the Icelandic “grár” and the Swedish “grå”, simply meaning “gray”) has relentlessly worked to shape their music to be both a perfect example of Swedish Black Metal and a very personal interpretation of its classic sound. Now in 2023 the horde comprised of Heljarmadr (Dark Funeral, Cursed 13) on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Vediger (Diabolic Lust, Cursed 13) on bass, and Dimman (Veiled, Cursed 13) on drums returns from the underworld with their fourth opus, entitled Lycaon, a lecture in classic and modern Black Metal. Mixed by Terry Nikas at Zero Gravity Studios, mastered by George Nerantzis, displaying an explosive cover art by Chilean artist Felipe Ignacio, and featuring guest guitarist and keyboardist Maugrim (Vargagrav, Cursed 13) and guest vocalist Terry Nikas (Scar of the Sun), Lycaon heads in the opposite direction of their 2018 intricate and bombastic album Väsen, displaying fewer layers meticulously measured and well thought out to carry the right atmosphere forward.

White City Devil is very melodic and grim from the very first second, with Dimman sounding like a beast behind his drums offering Heljarmadr exactly what he needs to darkly roar nonstop in a flammable fusion of old school Black Metal with contemporary Melodic Black Metal. After such intense tune we have Flame of Hephaestus, even more sulfurous and with Heljarmadr growling the song’s lyrics in great fashion (“Through cinders and snow, chasing the storms / Cleansed and so cold, concealed and obscure / Astray from all life, so violently dark / Shrouded in ice, forged in the fire”) while the guitars sound utterly caustic; and Maugrim and Heljarmadr keep slashing our ears with their visceral riffs in Torn Asunder, an ode to Black Metal that will please all fans of the genre. Then we’re treated to the title-track Lycaon, a lesson in modern-day Black Metal spearheaded by the venomous vocals by Heljarmadr while Vediger and Dimman make the earth tremble with their demonic kitchen. In other words, simply raise your horns in the name of evil to the sound of this amazing song.

It’s then time for their infernal rendition of Bathory’s Chariots of Fire (from their 1987 album Under The Sign Of The Black Mark), with Heljarmadr stealing the spotlight with his demented vocal lines; whereas the sinister bass by Vediger kick off the groovy and melodic Ett Avskedsbrev (or “a farewell letter” from Swedish), accompanied by the rhythmic beats by Dimman. Brännmärkt, which means “tarnished”, “tainted” or “branded”, carries on the torch exploring the cold war from a Swedish perspective, where the intro depicting a Swedish emergency siren called “Hesa Fredrik” (Hoarse Fredrik) and an old radio transmission was recorded right when the Russia-Ukraine war started. Musically speaking, it’s absolutely heavy and obscure, with Dimman pounding his drums mercilessly while the guitars by Maugrim and Heljarmadr bring an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result, flowing into the tribalistic outro titled Jaws of the Underworld, concluding the album on a cinematic note to the sound of the hammering drums by Dimman.

As aforementioned, Väsen might have been dropped like a bomb onto our heads back in 2018, but it’s with Lycaon that Grá have reached a whole new level of obscurity in their music, already placing it as one of the best albums of 2023 even if we’re just starting the month of January. Hence, don’t forget to show your support and admiration to the guys from Grá by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their official YouTube channel, by streaming all of their wicked creations on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing their massive new album from the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp page, from Sound Cave as a Digipak CD, a black vinyl or as a limited color vinyl, or from Amazon. Lycaon is Swedish Black Metal at its finest, and I’m sure you’ll succumb to the dark side ruled by Grá right after your first listen to such Stygian album.

Best moments of the album: Flame of Hephaestus, Torn Asunder, Lycaon and Brännmärkt.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2023 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. White City Devil 4:40
2. Flame of Hephaestus 4:20
3. Torn Asunder 4:17
4. Lycaon 5:10
5. Chariots of Fire (Bathory cover) 2:50
6. Ett Avskedsbrev 4:27
7. Brännmärkt 6:17
8. Jaws of the Underworld 3:38

Band members
Heljarmadr – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Vediger – bass, backing vocals
Dimman – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Maugrim – additional guitars and keyboards
Terry Nikas – additional vocals

Album Review – Elusion / The Fundamental Paradox (2023)

Let the music from the sophomore album by this Belgian Symphonic Metal trio embrace you, showcasing a continuous evolution of their sound.

Fans of Beyond the Black, Ad Infinitum, Epica and Within Temptation, among several other big names of the European symphonic and melodic scene, will have an amazing time listening to The Fundamental Paradox, the sophomore effort by a Belgian Symphonic Metal band that goes by the stylish name of Elusion. Currently formed of Evy Verbruggen on vocals, Domingo Smets on the guitars and backing vocals, and Frederik Van Mieghem on drums, the trio showcases a continuous evolution of the Elusion sound in their new installment compared to their debut album Singularity, released back in 2019, living up to the legacy of the genre while also carving their name in the underground Belgian scene by offering our avid ears nine solid songs throughout the album’s 42 minutes of music.

In the opening tune …In Love and War we already face a huge dosage of classic Heavy Metal added to their core Symphonic Metal thanks to the incendiary riffs by Domingo, with Evy kicking ass with both her strident clean vocals and her she-demon gnarls, whereas the sound of the rumbling bass will punch you in the head in the also electrifying Chiaroscuro, with Frederik dictating the song’s pace behind his drums, therefore offering Evy the perfect ambience for her soaring vocals. Acrimonious is even groovier and more metallic than the previous songs, with Domingo and Frederik being in absolute sync with their sonic weapons, once again sounding a lot more modern than classic Symphonic Metal mainly due to its Progressive and Groove Metal nuances. And there’s no sign of slowing down as the trio keeps embellishing the airwaves with their sharp music in Adversity, presenting another awesome performance by Evy on vocals supported by the crushing beats by Frederik and all of the song’s background elements.

The first single of the album, entitled Science|Fiction, brings to our avid ears more of the band’s incendiary Symphonic Metal spearheaded by the razor-edged riffage and solos by Domingo; and the tribalistic vocalizations by Evy ignite the next tune, titled From the Woods to the Water, a solid piece by Elusion despite lacking the same energy of the rest of the album. It’s then time to blast a purely European Symphonic Metal tune named In Balance, where Domingo keeps extracting endless electricity from his axe accompanied by the pounding drums by Frederik; whereas enhancing their epicness and emotion, the trio fires the symphonic extravaganza Isochronism, showcasing classic riffs, hammering drums, stunning orchestrations and the always enfolding vocals by Evy. Lastly, after such charming song the band closes the album on a high note with Deafening Silence, bringing forward another round of the metallic guitars by Domingo and the vicious but intricate beats by Frederik.

If you want to know more about Evy, Domingo and Frederik, listen to more of their their music, and stay up to date about their tour dates and plans for the future, you can find those Belgian metallers on Facebook, on Instagram, on YouTube, and on Spotify, and above all that, you can grab your copy of The Fundamental Paradox from the band’s own BandCamp page. After listening to each and every track from The Fundamental Paradox, we must all agree that Elusion are hands down one of the most interesting names of the Belgian Symphonic and Melodic Metal scene, with their newborn opus representing not only a big step in their career, but it’s also another must-listen album made in Belgium, leaving us eager for more of their refined music in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Adversity, Science|Fiction and In Balance.

Worst moments of the album: From the Woods to the Water.

Released in 2023 Independent

Track listing
1. …In Love and War 3:43
2. Chiaroscuro 3:49
3. Acrimonious 4:20
4. Adversity 4:24
5. Science|Fiction 4:05
6. From the Woods to the Water 5:48
7. In Balance 6:23
8. Isochronism 4:29
9. Deafening Silence 5:21

Band members
Evy Verbruggen – vocals
Domingo Smets – guitars, backing vocals
Frederik Van Mieghem – drums