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 – Varang Nord / Pārķiuņa Uomurs (2021)

One of the best metal hordes hailing from Latvia is ready to bring down the hammer with their fourth studio album, proudly dedicated to their vast and beautiful homeland.

3.5rating

varang-nord-pārķiuņa-uomurs-2021Founded in 2014 in the cold woods of Latvia, more specifically in the city of Daugavpils, located in south-eastern Latvia, the unstoppable horde known as Varang Nord combines harsh Death Metal riffs with epic accordion chants, creating a unique blend of northern Folk, Pagan and Viking Metal while praising a mighty battle, a bloody sacrifice to the Old Gods and a joyful northern feast with endless mugs of ale. Now in 2021, the band comprised of Maksims “Wolf” Popovs on vocals and guitar, Jelena Kalniša on vocals and accordion, Javgenijs Selivanovs also on the guitar, Danila Lopuha on bass and vocals, Vjačeslavs Janens on percussion and vocals, and Aigars Zeiza on drums returns to the battlefield with Pārķiuņa Uomurs, or “thunder’s hammer” in English, their fourth studio album, proudly dedicated to their homeland, the power and beauty of its nature and the depth of its cultural roots. Produced by the band and recorded at their personal studio, and mixed and mastered by Gints Lundbergs at Sound Division Studios, Pārķiuņa Uomurs is also the band’s first-ever album where all lyrics are written in the Latgalian language (an eastern dialect of Latvian), giving it an even more personal and organic feel.

A war is about to begin in the epic intro Pi Tuoļim Krostym, getting us ready for our bloodthirsty destiny to the sound of Stuojīs!, where the accordion by Jelena and the blast beats by Aigars make a superb paradox, offering Maksims everything he needs to roar like a true barbarian while Jelena brings a touch of finesse and melancholy with her clean vocals. Cīņis Gors, a battle anthem capturing the spirit of hard, long sea travels and conquests Northmen have been involved in, is a fun and inspiring Pagan and Viking Metal tune where the background elements by guest Yuri Borin walk hand in hand with the slashing guitars by Maksims and Javgenijs; and let’s keep banging our heads to Pārķiuņa Uomurs, another solid composition by this Latvian horde with Danila, Vjačeslavs and Aigars making the earth tremble with their imposing kitchen, whereas their warlike metal feast goes on in Dzeļža Ryuda, again presenting a headbanging, prancing rhythm led by Jelena’s wicked accordion, not to mention the awesome job done by Maksims with his evil growls.

It’s time then for a journey through the melancholic realms of old school Pagan Metal spearheaded by Jelena’s vocals in Svietņeica, accompanied by the rhythmic beats by Aigars and all somber background sounds, while Maksims roars deeply and more enraged in Uperiešona, a classic Viking Metal extravaganza the likes of Amon Amarth that will please all fans of the genre, with Danila crushing his bass guitar while Maksims and Javgenijs bring fire to the music with their riffage. And let’s prance around the fire pit together with those Latvian marauders in Syt Pa Seyi, a Pagan Metal feast perfect for their live performances with Aigars once again kicking some ass behind his drum set. Then mesmerizing accordion sounds, infernal and thunderous bass jabs and blast beats, and troll-like vocals set the tone in Troļļs, the epitome of Latvian Folk Metal where all band members are on absolute fire from start to finish, followed by Karaveiri, another good composition by those talented metallers (albeit not as dynamic nor creative as its predecessors) that flows into the atmospheric, acoustic outro Ceļš Da Sātai, bringing peace to our hearts after such intense battle.

varang-nord-2021Having said all that, I guess I don’t need to tell you that the time has come to grab your sword and shield, and join Varang Nord in the battlefield to the sound of their new opus, right? In order to do that, you can stream the album in full on Spotify, or prove you’re a true warrior from the North and purchase a copy of the album from Dead Pulse or from Apple Music. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, on VKontakte and on Instagram for all things Varang Nord, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their epic music and videos. Varang Nord are not just another band recommended for fans of bands the likes of Ensiferum, Amon Amarth and Turisas, but a fantastic Latvian institution that truly deserves our appreciation for their contribution to heavy music. And let those talented Latvians bring down the hammer on us all!

Best moments of the album: Cīņis Gors, Uperiešona, Syt Pa Seyi and Trolls.

Worst moments of the album: Karaveiri.

Released in 2021 Sliptrick Records

Track listing  
1. Pi Tuoļim Krostym 2:07
2. Stuojīs! 4:28
3. Cīņis Gors 4:18
4. Pārķiuņa Uomurs 4:44
5. Dzeļža Ryuda 5:18
6. Svietņeica 5:39
7. Uperiešona 5:00
8. Syt Pa Seyi 4:06
9. Troļļs 4:18
10. Karaveiri 5:48
11. Ceļš Da Sātai 2:16

Band members
Maksims “Wolf” Popovs – vocals, guitar
Jelena Kalniša – vocals, accordion
Javgenijs Selivanovs – guitar
Danila Lopuha – bass, vocals
Vjačeslavs Janens – percussion, vocals
Aigars Zeiza – drums

Guest musicians
Alyona Fomina – medieval bagpipes, talharpa, other traditional instruments
Yuri Borin – orchestral arrangements

Album Review – Pentral / What Lies Ahead of Us (2021)

This multi-talented metal unity from Brazil is ready to embellish the airwaves with their excellent new album, aiming at making the world a better place to live.

3.5rating

pentral-what-lies-ahead-of-us-2021Brazilian Heavy Metal unity Pentral, which by the way is Latin for “spirit”, mixes many sorts of global influences in their music while at the same time trying to honor the groove, unique harmonies, atmosphere and melody found in Brazilian music. Comprised of brothers Victor Lima (vocals and guitars) and Vagner Lima (drums), as well as Joe Ferry (bass), three Brazilians whose passion for rock music is only rivalled by their desire to make an album which contributes towards making the world a better place to live, the band has just released the excellent What Lies Ahead of Us. Produced by Pentral and Tim Palmer, mixed by Tim Palmer, mastered by Justin Shturtz and featuring a stunning artwork by Heidi Taillefer, the album travels through the realms of progressive and alternative music flawlessly, inspired by classic sounds from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. “The album was recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic and it was a huge challenge wearing face masks almost every time. There was tension and fear among the musicians and engineers of getting infected. Besides that, the songs are not “straight”. Pentral uses a lot of uncommon and odd time signatures and harmonies, so it was pretty hard to record the final version of the tracks. Atmosphere, harmony, melody, groove and a strong message to make people think. For the band, this is what music is all about,” commented Victor about the recording process.

The hypnotic voices by guests Isabella Trindade and Ivan Teixeira will captivate your senses before Pentral come crushing in Silent Trees, with Victor’s epic vocals walking hand in hand with the classic beats by Vagner, sounding very detailed, smooth and progressive, whereas again traveling through the realms of Progressive Rock and Metal the trio brings into being the thrilling All My Wounds, where Victor is on fire with his wicked riffage accompanied by the low-tuned, rumbling bass by Joe. Then blending the heaviness and modernity of Alternative Metal with their core sonority we’re treated to the incendiary Disconnected, with Vagner once again kicking some ass with his intricate beats; while slowing things down a bit the band delivers a somber intro in Letters From Nowhere, evolving into a dark Progressive Rock extravaganza led by Victor’s stylish guitar lines. And in Aiming For The Sun we face poetic lyrics declaimed by Victor (“Wake up, back from dawn of the dead / Many yearned for your head / Unfair forgive the ones / Who sent you there as they will drag / Themselves beneath instead / Get out at once and run”) while the music offers our avid ears an electrifying hybrid of traditional Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock.

It’s time to sit down, relax and enjoy the serene ballad A Gift From God, where Victor steals the spotlight with his passionate vocal performance, keeping the atmosphere as ethereal and mesmerizing as possible until the very last second, while the thunderous bass punches by Joe ignite the multi-layered, epic tune No Real Colour In Souls, offering our ears over eight minutes of awesomeness in the form of progressive beats, slashing riffs and cryptic vocals, living up to the legacy of 70’s and 80’s rock and metal, with the guitar solos by Victor being the icing on the cake. Then more of their dynamic and atmospheric mix of rock and metal comes in the form of The Shell I’m Living In, exploding into a more aggressive sound thanks to the enraged vocals by Victor and the pounding beats by Vagner, followed by Are You Satisfied?, where the metallic bass by Joe brings the groove to the music and with Victor delivering soulful vocals and guitar lines accompanied by the progressive drumming by  Vagner. It goes on for way too long, though. Finally, closing the album the band offers another musical voyage through the realms of Progressive and Alternative Rock and Metal entitled The Law, with its acoustic guitars adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result.

pentral-2021You can listen to What Lies Ahead of Us in its entirety on Spotify, but of course I highly recommend you purchase a copy of the album by clicking HERE, therefore showing your true support to Brazilian underground rock and metal. In addition, don’t forget to follow the trio on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their classy music and beautiful videos. After all is said and done, it’s a pleasure witnessing a band like Pentral not only delivering awesome music to our ears, but even more important than that, offering us all meaningful music, trying to make the world a better place for all of us as already mentioned through their distinguished compositions, and by doing that I’m sure they’ll win the hearts of rock and metal fans from all over the world, inspiring the trio to keep moving forward and embellishing the airwaves with their music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: All My Wounds, Aiming For The Sun and No Real Colour In Souls.

Worst moments of the album: Are You Satisfied?

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Silent Trees 7:13
2. All My Wounds 4:29
3. Disconnected 4:37
4. Letters From Nowhere 6:53
5. Aiming For The Sun 5:52
6. A Gift From God 5:53
7. No Real Colour In Souls 8:28
8. The Shell I’m Living In 4:06
9. Are You Satisfied? 7:54
10. The Law 8:43

BandCamp bonus tracks
11. Silent Trees (Radio Edit) 4:47
12. Aiming For The Sun (Radio Edit) 4:02

Band members
Victor Lima – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Joe Ferry – bass
Vagner Lima – drums

Guest musicians
Tim Palmer – additional guitars, tambourine and keyboards
Ivan Teixeira – keyboards
Yaniel Matos – cello
Isabella Trindade and Ivan Teixeira – voices on “Silent Trees”

Album Review – Gojira / Fortitude (2021)

Let’s all face up the world to the sound of the new masterpiece by one of the most dynamic, creative and thrilling bands of the current metal scene.

4.5rating

gojira-fortitude-2021Recorded at the famous Silver Cord Studio in New York City, the amazing Fortitude, the seventh studio opus by French Progressive/Groove Metal giants Gojira and the follow-up to their 2016 critically-acclaimed album Magma, is considered by the band a “groovy, aerated album” inspired as an encouragement to self-reinforcement, “to show courage to face up the world, to face tomorrow’s problems,” and after listening to each and every track from the album you’ll realize vocalist and guitarist Joe Duplantier, guitarist Christian Andreu, bassist Jean-Michel Labadie and drummer Mario Duplantier simply nailed it. According to Joe, the album’s title Fortitude “is to inspire people to be the best version of themselves and to be strong no matter what”, while the cover art, which represents “the spirit of the album”, was designed and painted by Joe himself. His brother Mario brought him various paintings of warriors and knights and showed him Pallas Athena, an 1898 oil-on-canvas painting by Gustav Klimt, and Knights of the Round Table. As he wanted to represent an indigenous person, it ended with his own interpretation of all these elements.

Their progressive vein explodes into sheer electricity in the opening tune Born for One Thing, with Mario proving why he’s one of the best metal drummers of the current scene. Put differently, it’s pure Gojira to properly kick things off, followed by the stunning Amazonia, where the band’s trademark metal is infused with local elements from the Brazilian culture for our total delight. Furthermore, it’s impossible not to sing along its lyrics with Joe (“There’s fire in the sky / You’re in the Amazon / The greatest miracle / Is burning to the ground / Godly Amazonia / Bloody Amazonia / Mighty Amazonia / Killing Amazonia”); and Joe and Christian keep kicking ass with their wicked riffage in Another World, another classic tune by the quartet perfect for banging our heads nonstop, not to mention how in sync Jean-Michel and Mario are with their heavy kitchen. Hold On is a more atmospheric and experimental composition by Gojira, bringing forward rhythmic beats, slashing riffs and the always visceral vocals by Joe, whereas in New Found we’re treated to strident, piercing riffs that only those French metallers can provide us all, feeling like it was taken from their 2005 cult album From Mars to Sirius. Needless to say, the Duplantier Brothers are on fire with their crushing vocals and pounding beats.

The title-track Fortitude is one of those classic Gojira interludes, an enfolding acoustic sound to soothe our souls before the beautiful The Chant fills outevery single space in the air, showcasing the band’s trademark, meaningful words (“You were told to swallow crawl and hide / Victims of fear and deception / Get ahold of yourself rise above / The better part of you, immortal”) amidst a lesson in Progressive Rock and Metal; and their sharp guitars come ripping in the neck-breaking Sphinx, where Joel invests into darker vocal lines accompanied by the vicious drums by Mario, not to mention how metallic the bass by Jean-Michel sounds. Let’s keep banging our heads to the fantastic Heavy Metal blasted by Gojira in Into the Storm, where the quartet enhances the epicness in their music considerably, resulting in a massive creation that will please all fans of the band, whereas slowing things down a bit and sounding more melancholic and somber than before it’s time for The Trails, a very introspective song spearheaded by Joe’s cryptic vocals. Lastly, slashing our ears mercilessly the band fires the awesome Grind, where Mario showcases all his dexterity behind his drums accompanied by the electrifying riffage by Joe and Christian, therefore ending the album on a kick-ass, piercing Progressive Metal note. In addition, if you’re lucky enough to find the Japanese edition of the album, you’ll be treated to three bonus songs (Silvera, Backbone and Pray) recorded live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in the United States on May 11, 2017.

gojira-2021Are you ready to have your mind and soul hypnotized by the unparalleled music brought into being by one of the biggest names of the current metal scene worldwide? If your answer is yes, you can enjoy Fortitude in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream such fantastic album. Also, don’t forget to follow Gojira on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates, initiatives they’re involved with, and so on, also subscribing to their YouTube channel for more of their music and other exclusive footage. As aforementioned, those French metallers wanted to create an album that would help us face our problems, our monsters and inner demons, and it’s impressive how they managed to do so without abandoning their core musical essence, providing us fans of Heavy Metal what’s perhaps the best album of 2021, an year where we lost so much but that at the same time is giving us some hope to keep moving forward.

Best moments of the album: Amazonia, New Found, Sphinx, Into the Storm and Grind.

Worst moments of the album: The Trails.

Released in 2021 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Born for One Thing 4:20
2. Amazonia 5:00
3. Another World 4:24
4. Hold On 5:30
5.New Found 6:36
6. Fortitude 2:07
7. The Chant 5:12
8. Sphinx 4:00
9. Into the Storm 5:02
10. The Trails 4:07
11. Grind 5:34

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
12. Silvera (live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre 2017) 3:57
13. Backbone (live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre 2017) 6:23
14. Pray (live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre 2017) 10:20

Band members
Joe Duplantier – vocals, guitar
Christian Andreu – guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie – bass
Mario Duplantier – drums

Guest musician
Adriana Vanella – vocals on “Amazonia”

Album Review – Dauthuz / Cold (2021)

Enjoy the new album by this ruthless squad that has been assaulting Dutch eardrums with their own twisted version of skull crushing, pounding Death Metal since 2015.

3.5rating

dauthuz-cold-2021Since their inception in 2015 in Zaanstad, a Dutch municipality in the province of North Holland, the ruthless Death Metal squad known as Dauthuz (old school slang for “the process of dying”) has been assaulting Dutch eardrums with their own twisted version of skull crushing, pounding Death Metal, and that couldn’t have been any different with their sophomore opus straightforwardly entitled Cold. Why Cold? Because cold are the calculations that operate the war machine, cold is the broken heart of the vengeful stalker, cold feels the barrel of the gun in the mouth of the victim, cold are the limbs of the last survivor on the frozen plain, and cold are those on the six feet deep descent. In other words, cold is death, and that’s exactly what vocalist Emiel Selderbeek, guitarists Dennis Jak and Hans Bijland, bassist Tim Roeper and drummer Bas Polder bring forth in their new album, recorded and produced by Dennis Jak, mixed and mastered by Kristian Kohle of the infamous Kohlekeller Studio, and featuring a stylish artwork by Italian artist Roberto Toderico.

The Evil Wicked Do is infernal and heavy right from the very first second thanks to the smashing drums by Bas and the visceral, deep growling by Emiel, or in other words, it’s classic Death Metal from the 90’s that kicks off the album on an aggressive and demented mode, and there’s no time to breath as the quintet keeps hammering our cranial skulls mercilessly in the fast and furious A New Dawn, where Dennis and Hans are unstoppable with their wicked riffage. Let’s keep slamming into the circle pit to the sound of The Dead, a pure Death Metal feast spearheaded by the strident guitars by Dennis and Hans while Emiel continues to roar and bark manically, accompanied by the rumbling bass by Tim and ending in a truly menacing way; whereas your ideal soundtrack to the end of the world must contain the song The Apocalypse, a fulminating lecture in old school Death Metal where Bas is once again infernal behind his drums, elevating the song’s darkness to a whole new level.

The title-track Cold will blacken your hearts and minds to the sound of the headbanging riffs by the band’s guitar duo while Emiel continues his path of savagery on vocals, not to mention the grim aura that permeates the air throughout the entire song, whereas investing in a darker and heavier sonority the likes of Unleashed, this unrelenting Dutch squad fires the massive tune Hellborn, inviting us all to crack our necks headbanging like true metalheads while Dennis and Hans deliver some sick guitar solos for our total delight.  Even more demented than its predecessors, Gore is a lecture in venomous Death Metal where Emiel sounds like a demonic entity on vocals while his bandmates make sure every single space in the air is filled with hatred and, of course, gore; followed by Termination, not as dynamic nor as detailed as the rest of the album albeit still presenting the band’s obscurity and heaviness from start to finish, with Emiel stealing the spotlight with his Stygian growling. Lastly, there’s nothing better than a pulverizing tune the likes of Crossfire to conclude the album, with all band members being on fire, bringing forth sheer malignancy while Bas once again takes the lead with his blast beats.

dauthuz-2021The unrelenting, demented Death Metal crafted by Dauthuz in Cold can be fully appreciated on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to the underground you should definitely purchase the album from the band’s Big Cartel, from Apple Music or from Amazon, as well as follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and all things Dauthuz, and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music. Death Metal made in the Netherlands can’t get any colder than this, and by that I mean any darker nor heavier than what Dauthuz offer us all in their new album, setting fire to their path of devastation and pointing to a bright future ahead of such hardworking Dutch act.

Best moments of the album: The Evil Wicked Do, The Apocalypse and Gore.

Worst moments of the album: Termination.

Released in 2021 Stageblast Records

Track listing
1. The Evil Wicked Do 4:00
2. A New Dawn 2:52
3. The Dead 6:13
4. The Apocalypse 3:20
5. Cold 4:51
6. Hellborn 5:10
7. Gore 4:03
8. Termination 4:56
9. Crossfire 7:10

Band members
Emiel Selderbeek – vocals
Dennis Jak – guitars
Hans Bijland – guitars
Tim Roeper – bass
Bas Polder – drums

Album Review – Mustasch / A Final Warning – Chapter One EP (2021)

Celebrating 20 years since their first record was released, these Swedish rockers are inviting us all to hit the dance floor to the sound of their new EP.

3.0rating

mustasch-a-final-warning-chapter-one-ep-2021With their straightforward and uncompromising attitude, Gothenburg, Sweden-based Heavy Metal/Hard Rock squad Mustasch is ready to celebrate 20 years since their first record was released now in 2021 with two new EP’s, the first being A Final Warning – Chapter One, followed by A Final Warning – Chapter Two (to be released in October). Comprised of Ralf Gyllenhammar on vocals and guitar, David Johannesson on lead guitar, Stam Johansson on bass and Robban Bäck on drums, Mustasch started way back in 1998 and have quickly become one of the most important Hard Rock bands of the Swedish scene, provoking many and having their music loved by many more, leading the band to win two Swedish Grammys so far in their career.  In A Final Warning – Chapter One, the band sounds more incendiary and melodic than ever, offering fans 20 minutes of pure Mustasch and, therefore, leaving us all eager for the second part of their celebrations later this year.

Without further ado, it’s time to ignite your rockin’ engines to the sound of the sharp riffs by Ralf and David and the rumbling bass by Stam in A Final Warning, blending the heaviness of classic Hard Rock with modern nuances and epic background effects, whereas going back to the golden years of pure Heavy Metal the quartet fires the metallic extravaganza Contagious, where Robban kicks some ass on drums while Ralf declaims the song’s lyrics with tons of energy and aggressiveness. Then investing in a more modern version of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll we have Albert Einstein, again showcasing classic, in-your-face guitar riffs while Ralf delivers a mix of System Of a Down and The Cult through his enraged vocals. Stam’s bass brings the groove to the dancing and sexy You Are Killing Me, and you better get ready to bang your heads nonstop together with the quartet as Ralf steals the spotlight on vocals accompanied by Robban’s crushing beats; followed by Searching for Long Range Communication, sounding as if it was taken from a 70’s action movie. In other words, it’s sheer Rock N’ Roll with Stam and Robban jamming like there’s no tomorrow until the melancholic and smooth outro To Be Continued puts an end to the EP.

mustasch-2021You can hit the dance floor by listening to the full EP on Spotify, but of course in order to show your support to the guys from Mustasch you should purchase your copy of the EP from the Sound Pollution webstore, from Napalm Records, from Season of Mist, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to follow those unstoppable Swedish rockers on Facebook and on Instagram, getting to know more about the band and warming up your senses for their upcoming EP. Will Mustach outdo themselves in the next chapter of A Final Warning? Stay tuned for the wild conclusion this October, my friends!

Best moments of the album: Contagious and You Are Killing Me.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Tritonus Records

Track listing
1. A Final Warning 5:03
2. Contagious 3:01
3. Albert Einstein 3:25
4. You Are Killing Me 3:52
5. Searching for Long Range Communication 3:49
6. To Be Continued 1:28

Band members
Ralf Gyllenhammar – lead vocals, guitar
David Johannesson – lead guitar
Stam Johansson – bass
Robban Bäck – drums

Album Review – Nuclear Winter / Greystone (2021)

Harare, Zimbabwe-based Melodic and Industrial Death Metal one-man army is back in action sharper than ever with his most powerful and detailed album to date.

3.5rating

nuclear-winter-greystone-2021After the success of his 2020 EP Stormscapes, Harare, Zimbabwe-based Melodic/Industrial Death Metal one-man army Nuclear Winter is set to unleash the project’s third full-length opus, entitled Greystone, where the band’s mastermind, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Gary Stautmeister recorded, wrote and produced everything by himself, giving the whole album a very personal touch. “I’m very happy to have completed this new album titled Greystone. I was aiming to produce something heavy but also more electronic than my previous EP. It was quite challenging mix-wise because each song uses a slightly different sound on the drums/bass/guitars, but I feel the overall production is an improvement from my previous work, and the songs are now hopefully more distinct from each other. I especially like Corridor of Shells – which is about a battle in which the surrendering army brings shame to their country,” proudly commented Gary about his new “baby”.

And Gary doesn’t waste a single second and begins shredding his guitar mercilessly in the opening tune The Wastelands, all boosted by the song’s futuristic background elements, therefore reminding me of some creations by the iconic Fear Factory. More of his fusion of Industrial and Death Metal comes in the form of the visceral and somber Stygian Awakening, with Gary growling like a demonic entity while at the same time generating an interesting paradox with his own clean vocals, resulting in a headbanging, epic and progressive creation by this Zimbabwean lone wolf; whereas Gary’s metallic bass jabs will hit you hard in the head in The Harvest Moon, another whimsical, multi-layered creation that travels through the realms of Progressive, Death and Melodic Metal flawlessly. It’s quite impressive how his music is so dense and detailed taking into account he’s only one single musician, and in Orwellian Future his undeniable talent becomes even clearer as he’s capable of bringing some welcome hints of electronic music to the song’s overall heaviness.

Time for Gary to invest in a more rockin’ sound in Corridor of Shells, where our one-man band kicks some serious ass with his riffs and solos while crushing his drums with tons of intricacy, sounding very atmospheric and therefore living up to the legacy of modern-day Industrial Metal. The Wavering Shadows beings in full force showcasing strident riffs, epic keyboards and hammering drums, keeping the album at a high level of obscurity and insanity, with Gary firing truly demonic, Black Metal-inspired gnarls, while he will put you to dance under the moonlight in Hidden Shrine, showcasing elements from 80’s electronic bands the likes of Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys and New Order added to the project’s core essence. The second to last explosion of Industrial Death Metal by Gary, entitled Graveyard Sculpture, continues his path of devastation and insanity, with the machine-like drums walking hand in hand with all futuristic keys; and The Failing Dawn, the closing tune of the album, might not be as impactful as its predecessors, but it still showcases Gary’s own “darkness versus light” vocal duel and his always visceral riffage.

nuclear-winter-2021In a nutshell, as aforementioned, it’s truly impressive how Gary manages to sound like a full-bodied band even doing all by himself, and in Greystone we must all admit he outdid himself in terms of creativity, punch and heaviness, offering us fans of heavy music what’s perhaps the best metal album that has ever been recorded in Zimbabwe, and even if Zimbabwe might not be considered a true metal country that still means a lot. Hence, don’t forget to show Gary your support and admiration by following him and his Nuclear Winter on Facebook and on Twitter, by streaming all of his wicked compositions on Spotify, and above all that, by purchasing your copy of Greystone from the MDD Records’ BandCamp page (or click HERE for all locations where you can stream or buy the full album). As he keeps evolving as a musician (and as a producer), let’s wait and see what’s next in the career of Mr. Gary Stautmeister, and until then we can keep enjoying all tracks from the excellent Greystone in the name of Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: Stygian Awakening, Corridor of Shells and The Wavering Shadows.

Worst moments of the album: The Failing Dawn.

Released in 2021 MDD Records

Track listing
1. The Wastelands 4:00
2. Stygian Awakening 4:12
3. The Harvest Moon 3:58
4. Orwellian Future 3:43
5. Corridor of Shells 4:20
6. The Wavering Shadows 4:07
7. Hidden Shrine 4:40
8. Graveyard Sculpture 3:13
9. The Failing Dawn 4:08

Band members
Gary Stautmeister – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Funebria / Death of the Last Sun (2021)

An infernal invocation to darkness by a ruthless Colombia-based horde, positioning the band as one of the driving forces of the South American extreme music scene.

3.5rating

funebria-death-of-the-last-sun-2021Funebria, the name of a rare manuscript “Carmina Funebria in Obitum Clarissimi” of influences in opus “Cantiones Profanae” and a fascination for funeral processions, is also the name of Venezuelan Black Metal horde Funebria, founded in 2004 in Maracaibo, a city in northwestern Venezuela and the capital of Zulia state (but currently based in Bogota, Colombia), having started following the path of pure old school Black Metal with their debut demo Manifiesto Al Esclavo, released in 2005. Currently comprised of Daemonae on vocals and guitars, Blackmiroz also on the guitars, Perverssturm on bass and backing vocals, and Naberius on drums, the band is unleashing upon humanity their third full-length album, entitled Death of the Last Sun, highly recommended for admirers of the music by Behemoth, Hate, Decapitated and Svart Crown, among others. Recorded mixed and mastered at DAE Home Studio by Ranndy Garcia (aka Daemonae), known for his work with Black Metal act Theurgia, Death of the Last Sun is an invocation to darkness in the most tight and raw way imaginable, positioning the band as one of the driving forces of the South American extreme music scene.

The tolling of the bells darkens our minds and hearts in the intro AIN, before all hell breaks loose in Ominous Armaggeddon, a visceral, straightforward Black Metal feast spearheaded by the infernal beats by Naberius while Daemonae roars and barks like a true demonic entity, also presenting progressive and groovy elements to spice the whole song up considerably. After such intense start to the album, more of their venomous fusion of Black and Death Metal is offered to our avid ears in the obscure tune Upheaval & Decadence, with hints of Doom Metal added to its already somber vibe, not to mention how ruthless Daemonae and Blackmiroz are with their riffage; and there’s no time to breathe as those South American beasts keep smashing our skulls mercilessly in Bleeding Sacrament, another brutal display of Black Metal infused with Daemonae’s trademark Death Metal growls that will put a grim smile on the faces of fans of extreme music.

Ethereal Form Of Saints sounds and feels as doomed as its predecessors, with Perverssturm firing low-tuned, bestial bass punches straight to our faces, therefore supporting the headbanging riffs by his bandmates, resulting in a massive tune where every single space in the air is filled with sulfur and hate. Dawn Of Black Inericon might be the shortest song of the album, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as dense, bold and Mephistophelian as all other songs, with Daemonae once again taking the lead with his deep roars supported by Naberius’ massive drums, whereas closing the album there’s more evil and hatred in the form of Black Waters Caesar, a lecture in old school and modern-day Black Metal full of breaks and variations, scorching riffs, bass jabs and the always demented beats by Naberius. Put differently, what a pulverizing conclusion to Death of the Last Sun, leaving us all eager for more of Funebria’s infernal creations in a not-so-distant future.

funebria-2021If you want to have a much better taste of all the darkness and wrath flowing from Funebria’s music, you can enjoy their new album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course you should definitely purchase the album from Dark Terror Temple’s BandCamp page, from the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon to show your utmost support to such distinguished South American horde. In addition, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook for news, tour dates, plans for the future and so on, proving you’re indeed a servant of the underworld as you like to brag about. Funebria are one of those bands whose sound is always evolving in the best way possible without abandoning their roots, and Death of the Last Sun is indeed a fantastic representation of their talent, their passion for Black Metal and their loyalty to this always brutal and captivating style.

Best moments of the album: Ominous Armaggeddon and Black Waters Caesar.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Dark Terror Temple/Satanath Records

Track listing
1. AIN 0:52
2. Ominous Armaggeddon 6:35
3. Upheaval & Decadence 4:43
4. Bleeding Sacrament 4:13
5. Ethereal Form Of Saints 5:35
6. Dawn Of Black Inericon 3:52
7. Black Waters Caesar 5:17

Band members
Daemonae – guitars, vocals
Blackmiroz – guitars
Perverssturm – bass, backing vocals
Naberius – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Heike Langhans

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The shackles of your demons fall silent… The shackles of your demons fall…

It’s time for the skies to get dark and melancholic here on The Headbanging Moose thanks to the doomed music blasted by our metal lady of the month of May, and I bet you’ll get absolutely addicted to her music right after the very first listen (in case you know nothing yet about her and her bands and projects, of course). Though of German descent, she was born on February 9, 1988 in Cape Town, a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, and currently resides in Sweden, where she joined Swedish Doom Metal band Draconian as the replacement to former singer Lisa Johansson in 2012. I’m talking about the multi-talented Heike Langhans, a songwriter, singer and designer well known for her work in the Gothic and metal scenes, always exploring a vast array of styles including Dark Wave, Electronic and Gothic Rock, among several others, therefore conquering the blackened hearts of the damned ones.

Drawn to melancholy Gothic music during her teenage years, Heike Langhans (which correct pronunciation is ‘hey-keh’ and ‘lung [the organ] – huns [like guns]’, as it’s a German name) began to dabble in composition, writing and singing at a very young age, already being part of school choirs at the age of eight, although she got sick of singing in groups, left that behind and started doing her own thing. She played piano occasionally, but mostly played classical guitar, which helped a lot in her writing process, and used to sing with her father when he played guitar at social gatherings. Heike joined her first band when she was around 15 years old, an all-girls band comprised of friends of her that was mainly a fun holiday thing, while she kept doing music on her own until she joined a proper band at the age of 19. Needless to say, she kept doing her own thing on the side to stay focused and as an outlet for her frustrations with the world and her surroundings.

Active since 2005, our South African started her career being associated with a few distinguished projects and bands, those being her Dark Electronic solo project :LOR3L3I:, South African Symphonic Metal band Inferium, and South African Black/Thrash Metal band Warthane, with her vocals being known to be sorrowful and her music peculiar and melancholic in nature. Regarding :LOR3L3I: (also known as LOR3L3I, LORELEI, or simply Lorelei), everything started back in 2006 as a melancholic electronic side project, with the name Lorelei having almost acted as an alter ego in a sense. According to Heike herself, the songs are raw and unpolished, a “spur-of-the-moment” type project where she just pours her heart into a song, record it and then struggle to touch it again, and you can take a very good listen at all her demos on her official BandCamp page, savoring delicate creations such as Jade Light and Fables. “I’ve said many times that I will never be able to sing these songs live, simply because I’ll be too emotional. It’s hard for me to wear my heart on my sleeve sometimes, so music is the only way. Lorelei is definitely my outlet and it’s quite revealing in many ways. Many people think me intimidating and secretive, but I’m more of an open book than what they care to realize,” commented Heike about her solo endeavor.

Inferium and Warthane are completely different stories, as they were already relatively established bands when Heike joined them. Under the moniker Heike Van Dominic, she was Inferium’s vocalist from 2005 until 2010, joining the band when they were still an instrumental group. They were the only band she knew doing Symphonic Metal at that time, with a huge influence from bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation. She said in one of her interviews that the band had a lot of potential and that they were doing quite well, but as they had a lot of issues with finding time and money to record and push it further they decided to call it quits in 2010. “I’ll always remember and enjoy my time in Inferium and I’ll forever be sad about the stellar songs that were to come, but it’s a sweet memory,” said Heike. Right after Inferium disbanded, more specifically in 2011, our diva, again under the name Heike Van Dominic, recorded the female vocals for the album Black Divine, by Warthane, which you can enjoy in its entirety on Spotify. Not only that, she also used her graphic designer skills to create the album’s stylish, somber artwork, proving how focused and talented she is it doesn’t matter which band or project she’s involved with.

Since 2012, Heike has been acting as the singer for Swedish Gothic/Doom Metal act Draconian, a cult band that started back in the already distant year of 1994 as Kerberos, playing Melodic Heavy and Death Metal with Black Metal influences, changing its name to Draconian around seven months after its inception. Heike joined the band following the departure of singer Lisa Johansson in 2011 after having made contact with guitarist Daniel Arvidsson, then with vocalist Anders Jacobsson to try an audition in Sweden. At first, she struggled to get a work visa in Sweden, which hampered the band’s ability to record an album, and until obtaining the visa she performed as a temporary singer for Gothic Rock band The Great Sleep in South Africa, as you can see for example in the song The Last Funeral. At the end of 2013, she finally received her work visa and was able to emigrate to Sweden, when she started working with Draconian while at the same time she started playing as a guest singer, guitarist and keyboardist in 2015 for Swedish Doom Metal band ISON, a side-project of Daniel Änghede (of Crippled Black Phoenix and Hearts of Black Science). She mentioned her main reasons for joining ISON were being able to play an instrument again like what she used to do in her teens, and putting a part of her own soul into it within a genre that was not electronic. You can have a very good taste of the music by ISON on their BandCamp page, with their first three albums having Heike on vocals, those being Cosmic Drone, Andromeda Skyline and Inner Space, or go to YouTube and search for their official videos such as the one for the song ISAE, as well as other precious gems like the duo playing a stunning acoustic version for The Final Cut by Pink Floyd (and you can compare their beautiful rendition with the original one HERE).

Finally, in 2015 Heike was able to record her first album with Draconian, by the way the sixth in the band’s career, the excellent Sovran, which she was not only responsible for the female vocal parts, but she also collaborated on writing the lyrics for tracks Dusk Mariner, Dishearten and The Marriage of Attaris, showing how easy it has been for Heike to connect with everyone at Draconian. “When I came to Sweden, I thought it would be very intimidating to have to all of a sudden be in this professional studio and work with world-class producers, and I underestimated myself a lot. But once I actually started doing it, I realized I was completely over-thinking everything. The guys were really laid back and easy to work with,” commented Heike. Then in 2020 she released with Draconian their second opus together, entitled Under a Godless Veil, where once again she was responsible for part of the lyrics, more specifically for the lyrics for the song Sleepwalkers, on top of her usual vocal duties. She also mentioned in one of her interviews that her work with Draconian hasn’t had any negative impact on her solo project :LOR3L3I: so far; quite the contrary, several Draconian fans kept writing her and asking her to continue to create music under her solo project, although she said nowadays she doesn’t have enough time to focus on that. It doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan of Draconian or a newcomer to their doomed world, you must check all of their official videos on YouTube such as the ones for the songs Sorrow Of Sophia, Sleepwalkers, Lustrous Heart, The Sacrificial Flame, Moon Over Sabaoth and Stellar Tombs, all of their creations on Spotify, as well as live footage the likes of Pale Tortured Blue live at MS Connexion Complex in Mannheim, Germany in 2019, and simply get lost in their realm of melancholy.

Apart from all of those previous and current bands and projects, you can also enjoy Heike’s unique voice as a guest vocalist in several other bands from all over the world. For instance, she played live with Finnish Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal band Hallatar in 2018, with whom she also recorded vocals for the song My Mistake and narrations for the songs Raven’s Song, Pieces and Spiral Gate from their 2017 album No Stars Upon the Bridge; she was a guest vocalist in the song Vision VII: One with the Soil from the 2017 album Visions, by Austrian Post-Black Metal act Anomalie; she also recorded the female vocal parts for the song The Path to Puya, from the 2019 album Aamamata by Spanish Doom/Gothic Metal act Helevorn; and vocals for the song Wolves at the Border, from the 2015 album Signal, by Swedish duo Hearts of Black Science. Not only that, Heike also did the layout and band photos for the 2020 album Premonitions, by International Epic/Atmospheric Black Metal band Sojourner, and was responsible for the vocals, keyboards, songwriting, lyrics, vocal recording, artwork, layout and design in the 2020 album Another World, by International Atmospheric Doom Metal band Light Field Reverie.

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When asked about her main idols and influences in music, Heike said it’s actually hard to pinpoint influences because many of her personal likes are not in any genres considered as Gothic in modern terms. However, the bands she related to early on would be Fields of The Nephilim, The Awakening, Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, Type O Negative, Dead Can Dance and Lycia, to name a few. In addition, as far as more modern Goth-inspired music goes, she has spent a great deal of time listening to Diary Of Dreams, Tiamat, Tristania, Paradise Lost, Anathema, Sins Of Thy Beloved, Katatonia, Draconian, and of course My Dying Bride. She said her passion for metal started when she was a teenager, as she used to get her father’s Pink Floyd and Meat Loaf CD’s and listen to them on repeat in her room while singing along, also watching renowned acts like Black Sabbath on VH1 and taping whatever metal she could find onto VHS or cassette. By the time she was 16, she was consuming a lot of metal from all sub-genres, gradually focusing on what suited her best emotionally speaking like Gothic, Symphonic and Doom Metal, only getting into Black Metal in her 20’s, but of course the emotional aspect and the melodies found in Doom Metal turned it into her all-time favorite genre as it certainly triggers a lot more in her personally.

In regards to touring, Heike said in one of her interviews she would love to tour around a South America, South Africa and Australia with Draconian, understanding that requires a lot of traveling and a huge investment, of course. “I look forward to traveling to countries to enjoy the scenery, food and people. The music is just our way of saying thank you for having us. It would feel slightly selfish to think our music is what made the show worth it, if you know what I mean,” complemented Heike, who also has a deep connection with the metal scene in her homeland. “Despite what most South Africans make themselves believe, Cape Town actually has a great metal scene and more bands than you might think. I can count on one hand the amount of friends I have there who ISN’T a musician. It’s a very creative and beautiful town.” She recommends Atmospheric Black Metal band Crow Black Sky, 2017 Battle for Wacken winners Megalodon, scene-legend Industrial Metal band Terminatryx and a few new-comers such as Constellatia as excellent bands from her beautiful country (and city) that we should all take a listen at.

Moving from South Africa to Sweden wasn’t an easy task for Heike, as it took around 19 months for her to receive her residence permit renewal in Sweden due to the country dealing with an influx of refugees. Based in Säffle, a municipality in Värmland County in west central Sweden, with the rest of the band since December 2019, Heike said she obviously misses Cape Town, her friends, the forwardness of people, Afrikaans jokes and Afrikaans words that you really can’t say anywhere else, but of course that she loves Scandinavia and that her head and her heart are in the North. Her Swedish might not be perfect yet, but her Afrikaans (Dutch) and German background ended up helping her a lot in understanding the language in the beginning, and she’s picking it up quite fast in her own opinion. She also commented about the fact that a lot of people in Sweden and in different parts of the world keep asking her why she’s white, which she believes that happens due to the idea the media sells that everyone in the African continent is black, complementing by saying she usually takes the opportunity to explain how things really work in South Africa.

Lastly, although Heike seems to be an unstoppable music-making machine, she’s just a regular human being like all of us who has her favorite hobbies and pastimes when she’s not singing, recording or performing on stage. As an avid gamer, she said she loves playing World of Warcraft and old school RPG’s the likes of Icewind Dale, Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights and Lionheart, as well as newer games like Skyrim, but of course she spends a great amount of time doing art, mostly digital and editing. There are days when she doesn’t want to deal with technology and she focuses of drawings and illustrations by hand, though. She also enjoys painting and photography, albeit she considers those quite expensive hobbies, and sewing, showing how versatile and talented she is. Furthermore, Heike is a big supporter of the Ubuntu Liberation Movement in South Africa, the Venus Project and the Zeitgeist Movement, always focusing on human liberation and free energy. “I will not eat or drink anything that comes from big corporations. Yes it’s difficult, but I refuse to support them. I also don’t eat meat any more, and I don’t really care what people have to say about that. I think that once people really put in the time and effort and research, not only from a health or principle perspective, but from an environmental perspective, they will realize that there is a lot that they are not being told. If they want to follow all the bullshit lies in the industry, then fine. But I will actively be against that. That’s what I think being an activist is about,” said our dauntless diva, and you can know a lot more about Heike, her bands, projects and so on by watching several online interviews with her, such as this one at FemME 2015 and this one for Metal & High Heels in 2019, letting her smooth and enchanting words and her undeniable charisma penetrate deep inside your doomed soul.

Heike Langhans’ Official Facebook page
Heike Langhans’ Official Instagram
Draconian’s Official Facebook page
Draconian’s Official Instagram
Draconian’s Official Twitter
:LOR3L3I:’s Official Facebook page

“I love slow and melancholic music. It brings my inner suffering to the surface and Doom Metal makes me feel like it’s okay to be an emotional being that suffers in this strange world.” – Heike Langhans