Album Review – Cage Fight / Cage Fight (2022)

It’s time to get into a bloodsoaked cage fight to the sound of the thrilling debut album by an up-and-coming London, UK-based Hardcore outfit.

Featuring the stunning French vocalist Rachel Aspe, known for her time with the iconic French Neo-Metal act Eths, and TesseracT guitarist James Monteith, London, England-based Crossover/Hardcore unity Cage Fight have just unleashed upon us mere mortals their debut self-titled effort, one of the most furious records to emerge from the UK in years. The anger and frustration of the band’s debut album is the perfect catharsis for our times, not only showcasing all the talent of the aforementioned Rachel and James together with bassist Jon Reid and drummer Nick Plews, but the artwork itself, a grabbing hand with the Cage Fight logo tattooed on the palm, visually portrays the violent rage at the core of the band’s music. Legitimately tattooed by Rachel, a tattoo artist by trade, the process of creating the image is as impactful as the final artwork itself, giving you a very good idea of how ruthless and austere the album sounds. “I cherish the ability to channel my anger through this outlet. In a world full of uncertainty and frustration this type of music was the only thing I found solace and balance in. These songs have a deep meaning for me and I hope this is something that other people can relate to,” commented the multi-talented Rachel about such outstanding album.

Featuring Jeremy Sylvester, a highly influential and prolific Garage and House producer from the UK, the album begins with a modern, electronic Intro that sets the stage for The Mirror Shattered, a bestial Hardcore tune with Punk Rock elements led by the venomous guitars by James while Rachel roars manically, therefore living up to the legacy of bands such as The Exploited and Ratos de Porão. There’s no time to breathe as Nick keeps hammering his drums in Killer, another excellent composition showcasing a high-octane fusion of Crossover Thrash and Groove Metal where once again James is infernal armed with his axe. Rachel sounds possessed by a demonic entity throughout the entire album, and it couldn’t have been any different than that in the awesome Hope Castrated, a massive, in-your-face Hardcore feast where Jon’s rumbling bass and Nick’s furious beats will make your head tremble, and it’s then time to slam into the pit and raise our horns in the name of rebelliousness and rage in Make A Decision, absolutely fast and furious thanks to another flawless performance by Nick on drums while Rachel showcases her trademark she-demon screams for our total delight. Their Punk Rock vein pulses stronger than ever in Guillotine, with the slashing, piercing riffs by James walking hand in hand with the bass punches by Jon, not to mention Rachel even fires some gruesome, vile Brutal Death Metal screeches.

The MMA entrance-inspired interlude Cage Fight! warms us up for the metal battle entitled Shine Don’t Fade, sounding and feeling pulverizing from the very first second thanks to the dynamic and evil sounds blasted by James, Jon and Nick, perfect for breaking your neck headbanging; whereas in One Minute the quartet plays at the speed of light in a great hybrid of classic Thrash Metal the likes of Anthrax with the more ferocious music by Lamb of God. In Tell Me What Real Is, less visceral but still heavy-as-hell, dense and demonic, Rachel keeps screaming inside our heads while her bandmates extract sheer animosity form their sonic weapons, whereas in Respect Ends there’s absolutely no sign of tiredness by the band, with James once again kicking ass with his riffage while Rachel delivers an insane dosage of animosity through her growls. Then we have Eating Me Alive, featuring guest vocalist Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder), who sadly died on May 11 at the very early age of 41, bringing an extra touch of violence to the overall result by making an awesome vocal duo with Rachel; followed by My Dreams, which starts in a somber manner before exploding into the band’s modern-day Crossover Thrash. Moreover, Rachel leads her henchmen for over six minutes of aggressiveness, dementia and fury. And lastly we’re treated to their cover version for Body Count’s Bitch In The Pit (check the original song HERE), a sensational rendition by Cage Fight with Rachel stealing the spotlight with her enraged, she-wolf roars, turning her into the undisputed “bitch in the pit”.

In a nutshell, Cage Fight more than nailed it with their debut opus, providing us headbangers with a very good reason for raising our horns nonstop and slamming into the circle pit like there’s no tomorrow. Hence, don’t forget to stream the album in full on Spotify, to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates (and believe me, you don’t want to miss their live performances if they take your city by storm), and of course, to purchase your favorite version of such intense album of European Hardcore by clicking HERE. As you might have noticed, Rachel, James, Jon and Nick are waiting for you inside the cage for an ass-kicking metal fight to the sound of their debut opus, but you better be prepared to have your ass kicked in the name of Hardcore and Thrash Metal, of course.

Best moments of the album: The Mirror Shattered, Hope Castrated, Guillotine and Bitch In The Pit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Candlelight Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:25
2. The Mirror Shattered 2:34
3. Killer 3:17
4. Hope Castrated 2:54
5. Make A Decision 3:15
6. Guillotine 2:32
7. Cage Fight! 0:58
8. Shine Don’t Fade 3:15
9. One Minute 4:04
10. Tell Me What Real Is 3:18
11. Respect Ends 3:03
12. Eating Me Alive 3:37
13. My Dreams 6:16
14. Bitch In The Pit (Body Count cover) 3:05

Band members
Rachel Aspe – vocals
James Monteith – guitar
Jon Reid – bass
Nick Plews – drums

Guest musicians
Jeremy Sylvester – samplers on “Intro”
Trevor Strnad – vocals on “Eating Me Alive”

Album Review – Sleepers’ Guilt / What Remained (2022)

Dealing to a large extent with questions about the end of humanity as we know it, this Melodic Death Metal from Luxembourg begins a new era in their career with their thrilling and furious sophomore effort.

Hailing from Dippach, a commune and small town in south-western Luxembourg that is part of the canton of Capellen, Melodic Death Metal outfit Sleepers’ Guilt is back in action with their sophomore opus, entitled What Remained, marking the beginning of a new era in the band’s career with the debut of their new frontwoman Sany Faihrmann. Recorded, mixed and mastered by the band’s guitarist Marc Froehling, What Remained deals to a large extent with questions about the end of humanity as we know it and the challenges we might face in the near or more distant future, all that without being a concept album according to the band itself.  In addition to the classical instrumentation and the usual samples, Sany and Marc, together with their bandmates Chris T. Ian also on the guitars, Philip Rio Ries on bass and Ben Thuy on drums, dare to experiment with more exotic instruments, such as bouzoukis, mandolins, didgeridoos, and cellos, among others, to give the arrangements more opulence, while at the same time the music never loses its heaviness and always demands the listener’s attention.

Futuristic sounds ignite the band’s metal machine in the opening track Posthuman, with Philip and Ben dictating the rhythm with their heavy kitchen while Sany roars nonstop like a true she-demon, whereas Chris and Marc continue to extract sheer electricity from their axes in Wrath of Gods, another Melodic Death Metal extravaganza showcasing all the band’s heaviness, talent and passion for extreme music. As the name already says, Eye of the Storm is indeed a metallic storm by the quintet with Sany’s roars leading her bandmates into the eye of “you know what”, with the band’s guitar duo delivering classic riffs and solos for our total delight, therefore keeping the album at a high level of insanity. Let’s keep banging our heads to the pounding drums by Ben in Freedom Undone, a neck-breaking tune where Sany’s screams sound like a devilish version of Overkill’s Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth; and slowing things down a bit it’s time for the somber Ultimate Sin, not as powerful as the rest of the album but still very melodic, with Chris and Marc showcasing a great performance with their riffs and solos.

Train of Thoughts feels like a heavier, more devilish version of the Melodic Metal played by Stratovarius, with Sany delivering a dark and thrilling vocal performance by roaring deeply accompanied by the classy beast by Ben; and get ready for 10 minutes of high-quality Melodic Death Metal made in Luxembourg with Tides of Fate, starting in a serene, melancholic way before morphing into an experimental sonority and exploding into the band’s core sound with an epic touch, with Sany delivering her usual she-wolf growls while her bandmates keep the atmosphere as dense and electrifying as possible, not to mention their soulful, striking guitar solos. Then blackening their core essence considerably it’s time for the almost pure Death Metal onrush titled Pyre, also bringing to our ears elements from Groove Metal thanks to the amazing job done by Philip and Ben with their respective bass punches and venomous beats. Last but not least, Sleepers’ Guilt offer us all the Arch Enemy-inspired tune The Remains, with hints of the music played by Soilwork and In Flames while Chris and Marc are on fire armed with their guitars, providing Sany all she needs to gnarl like a creature form the abyss.

You can start following such promising name of the Luxembourger metal scene on Facebook and on Instagram, staying up to date with all things Sleepers’ Guilt, and also watch their videos and  stream all of their creations on YouTube and on Spotify. Furthermore, above all that, don’t forget to show them your utmost support by purchasing the excellent What Remained by clicking HERE. In a dystopian world, humanity is on the brink of extinction and the machines have taken over. But is it really the machines, or rather those who control the machines? And is there life outside the dystopian illusions, in solitude, amid an exhausted, repellent nature? Simply hit play in What Remained and let the band answer those questions to you, while of course you keep banging your head nonstop to their venomous music.

Best moments of the album: Wrath of Gods, Train of Thoughts and Pyre.

Worst moments of the album: Ultimate Sin.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Posthuman 4:23
2. Wrath of Gods 4:19
3. Eye of the Storm 6:39
4. Freedom Undone 5:52
5. Ultimate Sin 4:29
6. Train of Thoughts 6:04
7. Tides of Fate 10:15
8. Pyre 7:17
9. The Remains 9:24

Band members
Sany Faihrmann – vocals
Chris T. Ian – guitars
Marc Froehling – guitars
Philip Rio Ries – bass
Ben Thuy – drums

Album Review – Ibaraki / Rashumon (2022)

Trivium’s own Matt Heafy turns his inner demon into first-class Black Metal in his new solo project, the end-result of a journey to find his own voice.

Originally formed in 2012 under the name Mrityu by Trivium’s own vocalist and guitarist Matt Heafy with the goal of generating Norwegian-style Black Metal (while also presenting elements from Extreme Progressive Metal and Metalcore in its sound), United States-based Black Metal project Ibaraki (which is by the way the name for a terrifying Japanese demon taken from feudal legend) has finally unleashed upon humanity its debut effort, entitled Rashomon, which according to Matt himself is the end-result of a journey to find his voice. Mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Recording Studios, and produced and engineered by Emperor’s one and only Ihsahn, Rashomon is more than just an expression of Matt and Ihsahn’s deep creative resonance, with his bandmates from Trivium, those being guitarist Corey Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto and drummer Alex Bent, contributing to the album as session musicians. “The violence in America towards Asians, the murders of Asians because of people’s small-mindedness – we can see what’s happening. It’s like I never quite felt like I was Asian enough because I’m half and I never felt white enough because I’m half, but I feel like it’s important for me to talk about this now. Everything has a rich, amazing, beautiful culture behind it – every single civilization, every culture, every walk of life. So I hope that it can make Asian metalheads or Asian fans of music feel a little bit more represented. It’s great to be able to say, ‘this is where I’m from,’ and, ‘this is who I am.’,” commented Matt about the album.

Hakanaki Hitsuzen (which translates as something like “inevitably ephemeral”) is a whimsical intro that will transport you to the world of Ibaraki before Matt and his crew come ripping in Kagutsuchi, where Matt is on fire with both his enraged screams and unstoppable riffs accompanied by the always pulverizing drums by Alex. Furthermore, everything from the breaks and variations to its ethereal passages, clean vocals and the ass-kicking bass solo by Paolo is stunning, resulting in a lesson in Experimental Black Metal. Then continuing his path of experimentations and progressiveness, we’re treated to another explosion of majestic Black Metal entitled Ibaraki-Dōji, with Matt and Corey slashing their stringed axes while Alex sounds infernal on drums, all enhanced by the song’s background orchestrations. In Jigoku Dayu, an acoustic start evolves into a gentle sonority to the calm, clean vocals by Matt, sounding enfolding until the very end, whereas in Tamashii no Houkai (or “collapse of the soul”), featuring Ihsahn on lead guitars, the band blasts a vicious fusion of classic Black Metal with progressiveness, rage and groove, also showcasing another great vocal performance by Matt.

The skies get darker and darker as the music progresses in Akumu (which means “nightmare”), where you can sense all the anguish and despair in Matt’s roars supported by Alex’s massive beats and the beastly gnarls by guest vocalist Nergal of Behemoth; followed by Komorebi (or “sunbeams”), a very melodic tune presenting different layers plus lead guitars by Corey, despite lacking the same energy of its predecessors. Then alternating between smooth passages and the hellish heaviness of Black Metal we have one of the most detailed of all songs, Rōnin, featuring backing vocals by Norwegian vocalist Heidi Solberg Tveitan of Starofash, who’s by the way married to Ihsahn and has a son, Angell Solberg Tveitan, and a daughter, Ariadne Solberg Tveitan, with him, both also doing backing vocals on the song, plus additional screams by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance and lead guitars by Ihsahn. Susanoo no Mikoto is as experimental and groovy as it can be, with Paolo and Alex generating a rumbling atmosphere perfect for Matt’s screams while the song’s second half is a wicked sonic experiment conducted by Matt and featuring additional vocals by Ihsahn. And lastly, it’s time for a little less than three minutes of pure eccentricity entitled Kaizoku (or “pirate”), with Matt declaiming the song’s lyrics like a true bard.

The breathtaking, multi-layered Rashomon can be better  appreciated in its full glory on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course you can add it to your private collection of Extreme Metal albums by grabbing your favorite version of it from Ibaraki’s official homepage or by clicking HERE, and don’t forget to also follow the project on Facebook and on Instagram for news and, who knows, some tour dates in the upcoming months, and to subscribe to its YouTube channel for more wicked videos. It might have taken almost 10 years for Matt and his inner demon Ibaraki to finally see the light of day, but the wait was definitely worth it as the music found in Rashomon is outstanding to say the least, and hopefully Matt will continue his path of self-discovery with Ibaraki in the coming years, bringing to us fans more of his experimental fusion of extreme music with progressive elements and Japanese legends.

Best moments of the album: Kagutsuchi, Ibaraki-Dōji, Akumu and Rōnin.

Worst moments of the album: Komorebi.

Released in 2022 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Hakanaki Hitsuzen (儚き必然) 1:28
2. Kagutsuchi (迦具土) 7:34
3. Ibaraki-Dōji (茨木童子) 7:51
4. Jigoku Dayu (地獄太夫) 7:40
5. Tamashii no Houkai (魂の崩壊) 5:58
6. Akumu (悪夢) 5:53
7. Komorebi (木漏れ日) 6:06
8. Rōnin (浪人) 9:13
9. Susanoo no Mikoto (須佐之男命) 7:12
10. Kaizoku (海賊) 2:53

Band members
Matt Heafy – vocals, guitars

Guest musicians
Corey Beaulieu – guitars, lead guitars on “Komorebi”
Paolo Gregoletto – bass, bass solo on “Kagutsuchi”
Alex Bent – drums
Ihsahn – lead guitars on “Tamashii no Houkai” and “Rōnin”, additional vocals on “Susanoo no Mikoto”
Nergal – additional vocals on “Akumu”
Heidi Solberg Tveitan – backing vocals on “Rōnin”, samples on “Susanoo no Mikoto”
Gerard Way – additional vocals on “Rōnin”
Angell Solberg Tveitan – backing vocals on “Rōnin”
Ariadne Solberg Tveitan – backing vocals on “Rōnin”

Album Review – Tishina / Uvod… (2022)

A first-class side-project by Bane’s mastermind to explore the slower, deeper and more emotional side of music, invoking the spirit of late 90’s and early 00’s doom.

Founded in 2020 by Serbian vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Branislav Panić, known best for his work with Blackened Death Metal band Bane, Tishina (Тишина), which means “silence” from Serbian, is a new Melodic Doom/Death Metal entity initially born as a side-project to explore the slower, deeper and more emotional side of music, highly influenced by giants such as Saturnus, October Tide, Mourning Beloveth, and Doom:vs, among others, who’s unleashing upon humanity its debut effort titled Uvod… (Увод…), which means “introduction” in English. Mixed and mastered at HellSound Studio by Honza Kapak, who also played drums in the album, and displaying a stylish artwork by Aleksandra Panić, Uvod… came mainly from the book of poems Nad Vodama Aheronta, written by Serbian author Predrag Rava, combining an exquisite blend of mid-paced melodic riffs, blackened sections, and various shifts in atmosphere and tone throughout its playtime while invoking the spirit of late 90’s and early 00’s doom.

Iz Mrtvog Ugla (Из Мртвог Угла), or “from a dead angle”, is a beautiful start to the album, reminding me of some of the classic creations by Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride with Branislav exhaling heaviness through his riffs and bass punches, supported by the sluggish beats by Honza; and continuing their path of obscurity and melancholy we have Dve Crne Ruze (Две Црне Руже), or “two black roses”, another Doom Metal extravaganza led by Branislav’s deep roars while Honza keeps pounding his drums in the name of darkness. Then after the short and sweet instrumental interlude Uteha (Утеха), or “consolation”, Branislav returns with his visceral riffage in Jutro Poslednjeg Dana (Јутро Последњег Дана), or “the morning of the last day”, darkening the skies even more in the name of Melodic Doom and Death Metal. Furthermore, it’s breathtaking to see how the duo is capable of sounding so heavy and serene at the same time, resulting in a multi-layered composition perfect for that type of slow and steady headbanging that’s characteristic of Doom Metal. Lastly, closing such somber album it’s time for Zauvek (Заувек), or “forever”, starting in a mesmerizing, enfolding manner before exploding into more of the project’s doomed sounds, with Branislav and Honza being in absolute sync from start to finish while Branislav’s anguished growls reach a whole new level of obscurity.

In case you would like to add the darkness and beauty of the music found in Uvod… to your personal collection, you can grab a copy of the album from Tishina’s own BandCamp page, from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, or from the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page, bringing an endless dosage of pure doom to your avid ears. I always find it impressive when a musician like Branislav can generate distinct, top-notch music such as with his two projects Bane and now Tishina, not only proving how talented and creative he is, but also providing us with double the awesomeness in the world of heavy music. And may Uvod…, just like the name of the album already says, be just the introduction to the amazing world of doom ruled by Branislav and his Tishina.

Best moments of the album: Iz Mrtvog Ugla [Из Мртвог Угла] and Jutro Poslednjeg Dana [Јутро Последњег Дана].

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Hypnotic Dirge Records/Satanath Records/The End of Times Records

Track listing
1. Iz Mrtvog Ugla [Из Мртвог Угла] 8:01
2. Dve Crne Ruze [Две Црне Руже] 5:55
3. Uteha [Утеха] 0:48
4. Jutro Poslednjeg Dana [Јутро Последњег Дана] 6:13
5. Zauvek [Заувек] 8:49

Band members
Branislav Panić – vocals, guitars, bass
Honza Kapak – drums

Album Review – Nafrat / Veins EP (2022)

This Singaporean horde returns after a hiatus with a new EP, exploring darker atmospheric soundscapes coupled with their familiar blistering style of Blackened Death Metal.

Mixed and Mastered by Zoteng at Masterplan Studio and displaying an obscure artwork by the band’s own bassist Firdaus Kadir, Veins is the brand new three-track EP by Singapore-based Dissonant/Technical Death Metal horde Nafrat, following up on their 2018 full-length opus Abnegation after the band went on a hiatus due to personal reasons. Formed in 2003 and currently comprised of Han Shah on vocals and guitars, Iskandar Zul also on the guitars, the aforementioned Firdaus Kadir on bass and Islam Falmi on drums, Nafrat venture through new territories in their new EP with the exploration of darker atmospheric soundscapes coupled with the familiar blistering style of Blackened Death Metal that they produced in previous releases, turning such short and sweet record into a must-listen for fans of bands the likes of Hate Eternal, Immolation and Svart Crown.

Sinister sounds permeate the air in the Stygian instrumental intro Veins, dragging our souls to the obscure realms ruled by Nafrat before the quartet begins hammering our heads with In Absentia, a brutal, malignant Death Metal onrush spearheaded by the venomous beats by Islam while Firdaus extracts rumbling tones form his bass, all of course spiced up by the visceral guttural by Han in a solid, straight-to-the-point display of the band’s core sonority. Then more of their primeval, tribalistic music comes in the form of Oculus, with the guitars by Han and Iskandar decimating our ears while Islam sounds like a demented beast on drums, feeling absolutely bestial from start to finish with Han roaring deeply just the way we like it in Death Metal. Put differently, this might be a very good sign of what to expect from Nafrat in their upcoming releases.

You only need 12 minutes of your time to let Nafrat crush your cranial skull with their music by either streaming the EP in full on Spotify or by purchasing it from their own BandCamp page (or click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album, among other cool links). In addition, let’s show our support to underground metal made in Singapore by giving the guys from Nafrat a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, showing them how much we appreciate their devilish music. Veins might be short in duration but the quality of the music found in it is outstanding, which leaves me wondering what those Singaporean metallers will bring to our avid ears next, especially if they release a full-length album, always in the name of our good old Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: Oculus.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Veins 2:02
2. In Absentia 4:31
3. Oculus 4:59

Band members
Han Shah – vocals, guitars
Iskandar Zul – guitars
Firdaus Kadir – bass
Islam Falmi – drums

Album Review – Depressed Mode / Decade of Silence (2022)

One of the most interesting names of the underground Finnish scene returns to action after almost 13 years with a brand new album of stunning and symphonic Doom Metal.

Established in Pori, a city and municipality on the west coast of Finland, in 2005 by vocalist and composer Otto Salonen, the amazing Symphonic Death/Doom Metal act known as Depressed Mode is set to release their long-awaited third full-length album Decade of Silence, almost 13 years after ..for Death.., released in 2009. Recorded by the band’s guitarist Teemu Heinola and the aforementioned Otto Salonen at Ansa Studio, mixed by the same Teemu, and mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox Studios, Decade of Silence will bring a humungous dosage of symphony and doom to your avid ears, showcasing all the talent and passion for heavy music by Otto and Teemu together with their bandmates Henri Hakala on bass and Iiro Aittokoski on drums.

Death Walks Among Us is sinister and obscure from the very first second, with the orchestrations by Otto giving it a cinematic vibe while his deep guttural will haunt your damned souls for all eternity, all spiced up by the vicious riffs by Teemu. Then featuring Veronica Bordacchini of Fleshgod Apocalypse as a guest vocalist, Endless November starts in the most lugubrious way possible, evolving into a sluggish, phantasmagorical Doom Metal song with Blackened Doom nuances, not to mention all symphonic elements sound and feel majestic; whereas back to a heavier and more symphonic mode it’s time for Iiro to dictate the pace with his pounding drums in Dissociation of the Extinguished Mind, featuring a guest guitar solo by Jarkko Kokko of Mors Principium Est. Veronica is back in As the Light Dims, another bold, multi-layered creation by Depressed Mode that starts in a serene way to the sounds of the piano and cello, offering our ears nine nocturnal minutes of stunning Doom Metal.

Just as imposing and grim as its predecessors,  Parasites of Mind explodes into a brutal fusion of Symphonic and Death Metal led by the venomous riffs by Teemu and the inhumane roars by Otto, smashing your cranial skull without a single drop of mercy, whereas drinking from the darkest fountain of Doom Metal you can think of, Kaamos (Land of Winter) brings forward the pounding beats by Iiro and the crushing riffs by Teemu, penetrating deep inside your soul while more of their sluggish, grim sounds permeate the air in Serpents, with sheer darkness flowing from both Otto’s vocals and Henri’s hammering bass. Eternal Darkness is another stunning creation featuring Veronica’s mesmerizing vocals, with the orchestrations by Otto sounding beautifully haunting while Iiro pulverizes his drums in a lesson in Symphonic Doom Metal. Finally, prepare your senses for 12 minutes of atmospheric passages, darkened skies and endless heaviness in the form of Aeternus, where Otto’s deep guttural brings a touch of Blackened Doom to the overall result, flowing darkly until its climatic and Stygian ending.

In a nutshell, the guys from Depressed Mode definitely know how to blend the heaviness of Doom Metal with the finesse of symphonic and orchestral music, and Decade of Silence is not only the perfect representation of that stunning fusion of sounds, but also a beyond strong comeback by those Finnish metallers. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram to know more about their music, to stream all of their wicked creations on Spotify, and of course to purchase Decade of Silence from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Inverse Records webstore sooner than you can say “doom”. After over a decade of silence it’s a pleasure to witness the return of such interesting name of the underground Finnish scene, and let’s hope that we don’t need to wait another ten years to listen to more of their awesome music.

Best moments of the album: Endless November, Eternal Darkness and Aeternus.

Worst moments of the album: Serpents.

Released in 2022 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Death Walks Among Us 5:53
2. Endless November 7:43
3. Dissociation of the Extinguished Mind 6:56
4. As the Light Dims 8:58
5. Parasites of Mind 6:39
6. Kaamos (Land of Winter) 6:16
7. Serpents 5:50
8. Eternal Darkness 5:46
9. Aeternus 12:09

Band members
Otto Salonen – vocals, orchestrations
Teemu Heinola – guitars
Henri Hakala – bass
Iiro Aittokoski – drums

Guest musicians
Veronica Bordacchini – vocals on “Endless November”, “As the Light Dims” and “Eternal Darkness”
Jarkko Kokko – lead guitars on “Dissociation of the Extinguished Mind”

Album Review – Rammstein / Zeit (2022)

Germany’s own Neue Deutsche Härte institution wasted no time during the pandemic and is back in action with their fantastic eight full-length opus.

Driven by a growing need to fill the void created by the postponement of their tour, Germany’s own Neue Deutsche Härte institution Rammstein began writing new music during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, culminating now in 2022 with the release of the amazing Zeit, or “time” in English, the eighth studio album in their undisputed career and the follow-up to their 2019 critically acclaimed self-titled album. Recorded at Studios La Fabrique, produced by the band together with Olsen Involtini, and featuring a classy artwork depicting vocalist Till Lindemann, guitarists Richard Z. Kruspe and Paul Landers, bassist Oliver Riedel, keyboardist Christian “Flake” Lorenz and drummer Christoph Schneider walking down a staircase connected to the Trudelturm, a monument dedicated to aerial research located at Aerodynamic Park in Adlershof, Berlin (and by the way, the photo was taken by Canadian musician Bryan Adams), Zeit brings to our ears Rammstein’s trademark sound, creativity and energy, positioning it as one of the best albums of the year hands down.

Armee der Tristen (or “army of the dreary” in English) is pure Rammstein from the very first second, with Christian and Christoph generating a beautiful, melancholic atmosphere perfect for Till’s unique vocals, and after such hard-hitting start it’s time for the band to mesmerize our senses with the dark and heavy ballad Zeit, with Richard and Paul extracting minimalist but at the same time piercing riffs form their guitars. That obscure vibe goes on in Schwarz (“black”), with the rumbling bass by Oliver sounding even heavier than before, not to mention the massive, pounding drums by Christoph; and let’s get the party started with the headbanging tune Giftig (“toxic”), spearheaded by the machine-like kitchen by Oliver and Christoph while Till is on absolute fire on vocals, resulting in a great depiction of the band’s trademark Neue Deutsche Härte. Zick Zack (“snip snip”) not only has one of the funniest videos of the year, but the music is fantastic and catchy, and the lyrics are a thing of beauty if you understand German, of course. I bet it will sound superb when played live, whereas a background choir ignites the fats-paced, electrifying OK (the acronym for “ohne kondom”, or “without a condom”), with Till delivering his usual vocalizations accompanied by the wicked keys by Christian and the industrialized riffage by the band’s guitar duo.

Back to a more serious, somber mode, it’s time for Meine Tränen (“my tears”), another solid creation by Rammstein that alternates between slower moments and heavier, more epic passages, feeling dense and grim until the very last second; followed by Angst (“fear”), by far my favorite song of the album, bringing to our avid ears the band’s hammering beats and slashing guitars, all spiced up by another demented performance by Till on vocals giving life to the song’s austere words. No one will stand still to such banger, no doubt about that. And it looks like the band will keep crushing our skulls with their Industrial Metal in Dicke Titten (“fat tits”) as if the band was playing it on an assembly line, also displaying some ethereal moments led by Christian’s keys, resulting in a multi-layered composition that will surely become a fan-favorite. Lügen (“lies”) is most probably the weakest or less intense of all songs from the album, not as powerful as its predecessors, where Christian’s keys are amazing as usual but the vocal effects are somewhat irritating (therefore stealing some of the song’s punch), and lastly we have Adieu (“farewell”), a stunning farewell by the band (which makes me wonder if this is going to be their last album ever) where the music is deep, emotive and heavy just the way we like it, and with all band members offering Till exactly what he needs to shine on vocals one final time.

Such insane album of Neue Deutsche Härte infused with Industrial Metal and Rock can be enjoyed in full on Spotify, or you can also purchase your favorite version of it by clicking HERE, adding to your personal collection another avalanche of awesomeness by the one and only Rammstein. Also, don’t forget to give the guys a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their unique videos. Just like high quality wine, Rammstein keeps getting better and better as time passes by, but always remember that time waits for no one, and instead of wasting your time with bad music simply hit play on Zeit and be a much happier person to the sound of Rammstein’s unparalleled creations.

Best moments of the album: Zick Zack, OK, Angst and Adieu.

Worst moments of the album: Lügen.

Released in 2022 Universal Music

Track listing
1. Armee der Tristen 3:25
2. Zeit 5:21
3. Schwarz 4:18
4. Giftig 3:08
5. Zick Zack 4:04
6. OK 4:03
7. Meine Tränen 3:57
8. Angst  3:44
9. Dicke Titten 3:38
10. Lügen 3:49
11. Adieu 4:39

Band members
Till Lindemann – lead vocals
Richard Z. Kruspe – lead guitar, backing vocals
Paul Landers – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Oliver Riedel – bass guitar
Christian “Flake” Lorenz – keyboards, samples, synthesizers
Christoph Schneider – drums, percussion

Album Review – Böllverk / Heading For The Crown (2022)

Get ready to bang your heads nonstop to the debut album by this Bavarian act, offering powerful Teutonic material forged in the gloriously timeless style of early Accept, Warlock and Running Wild.

Formed in 2018 in Aschaffenburg, a city in Bavaria, Germany, and after a few lineup changes, the talented Heavy Metal squad Böllverk has finally unleashed their debut effort, entitled Heading For The Crown, offering pithy, refreshing and powerful Teutonic material forged in the gloriously timeless style of early Accept, Warlock and Running Wild for the old school-addicted battlevest banger fraction. Currently comprised of Svenja on vocals, Zahn and Raphi on the guitars, Tim on bass and Angelo on drums, Böllverk are on absolute fire in Heading For The Crown, with the classic artwork by Bastian Kraus and the sharp recording, mixing and mastering by Rolf Munkes at Empire Studios giving an even stronger vibe to the entire album, inspiring us all to head into the battlefield together with the band in the name of our beloved old school Heavy Metal.

The incendiary guitars by Zahn and Raphi kick off the pure, unfiltered Heavy Metal tune Ask The Angel, Listen To The Devil, an awesome way to start the album with the galloping drums by Angelo walking hand in hand with the 80’s-inspired vocals by Svenja, and more of their fusion of the classic music played by Iron Maiden, Accept, Judas Priest and Warlock is offered to us all in Let’s Ride Till Dawn, with the band’s guitar duo dictating the rhythm with their spot-on riffs and solos. Good Morning Rock’n’Roll is one of those “breakfast songs” highly recommended for all metalheads worldwide, bringing forward a beautiful hybrid of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock where Svenja’s piercing vocals are complemented by the raspy, Motörhead-infused roars by Zahn; whereas the title-track Heading For The Crown is an in-your-face, straightforward metal extravaganza led by the crushing drums by Angelo, supported by the rumbling bass by Tim.

Zahn’s evil roars boost the high-pitched screams by Svenja in The 7th No (IS A KO), another Hard Rock feast where the sound of the guitars will slash your ears mercilessly, and it’s time to bang our heads nonstop together with Böllverk in Master Of Thunder, another sharp, no shenanigans creation by the quintet showcasing a heavy and melodic kitchen by Tim and Angelo. Then venturing through the realms of Southern and Stoner Metal the band offers us all Live Fast, with Zahn taking the lead on vocals. It’s a good song, but it lacks the epicness of the rest of the album, though. Zahn keeps screaming in Next Level Of Service while Svenja fires her trademark Doro-inspired vocals lines, all spiced up by another round of their flammable riffs and thunderous bass lines, and last but not least, we’re treated to more of their rumbling Heavy Metal in the form of Someday We Will Die, clearly inspired by the classics from the NWOBHM and, therefore, ending the album on a thrilling note.

You can get to know more about Böllverk by following those Teutonic metallers on Facebook and on Instagram, staying up to date with all of their news, tour dates, plans for the future and so on, and you can also send them your feedback about their music as I’m sure the entire band would love to hear from you. In addition, in order to show your support and appreciation for ass-kicking underground German metal you should definitely purchase a copy of Heading For The Crown from the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as stream the album in its entirety on Spotify. Böllverk didn’t need to reinvent the wheel with Heading For The Crown to sound awesome, showing how powerful Heavy Metal still is and, of course, not only pointing to a bright future ahead of the band, but also providing us metalheads with one more excellent reason for keep banging our heads until the very end.

Best moments of the album: Ask The Angel, Listen To The Devil, Good Morning Rock’n’Roll and Someday We Will Die.

Worst moments of the album: Live Fast.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Ask The Angel, Listen To The Devil 6:05
2. Let’s Ride Till Dawn 3:27
3. Good Morning Rock’n’Roll 4:25
4. Heading For The Crown 4:49
5. The 7th No (IS A KO) 4:37
6. Master Of Thunder 6:26
7. Live Fast 4:20
8. Next Level Of Service 3:56
9. Someday We Will Die 5:50

Band members
Svenja – vocals
Zahn – guitars, vocals
Raphi – guitars
Tim – bass
Angelo – drums

Album Review – Axel Rudi Pell / Lost XXIII (2022)

Mr. Axel Rudi Pell and his henchmen are back with another thrilling album consisting of ten deeply melodic Hard Rock songs.

For more than thirty years, Bochum, Germany-based guitarist and songwriter Axel Rudi Pell has released new albums at regular intervals with his Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Axel Rudi Pell, and it couldn’t have been any different now in 2022 as Axel and his henchmen Johnny Gioeli on vocals, Volker Krawczak on bass, Ferdy Doernberg on keyboards and Bobby Rondinelli on drums have just unleashed upon us their 21st album to date, the excellent Lost XXIII, following up on their 2020 album Sign of the Times. Mixed by Thomas Geiger, produced by Axel Rudi Pell himself, mastered by Ulf Horbelt, and displaying a classic artwork by Thomas Ewerhard, Lost XXIII consists of ten deeply melodic Hard Rock songs showcasing a number of fast-paced highlights and surprising compositions, putting a huge smile on the faces of all diehard fans of such talented guitarist as well as to newcomers to his metallic world.

Lost XXIII Prequel, one of their trademark intros to pretty much all of their albums, sets the stage for Johnny and Axel to kick some ass in Survive, where Johnny flawlessly declaims the song’s catchy chorus (“Will we survive? / Who is our enemy? / Restrictions for all, can’t you see? / Will we survive? / Searching for destiny / Unchaining the souls to be free / Will we survive?”) while Bobby dictates the pace with his heavy and melodic beats. And let’s keep raising our horns to the dirty and thrilling Hard Rock by Axel and his crew in the dancing tune No Compromise, with Volker and Bobby doing an awesome job with their old school kitchen, whereas the electrifying riffs by Axel will keep penetrating deep inside your mind in Down on the Streets, while Ferdy brings forth those 70’s-inspired keys we all love so much. Johnny will make the hearts of Hard Rock lovers from all over the world melt with the deep, soulful ballad Gone with the Wind, all spiced up by the passionate keys by Ferdy, followed by Freight Train, another song that sounds like a heavier version of Bon Jovi in the band’s career, presenting a solid instrumental always boosted by Johnny’s soaring vocals.

Putting the pedal to the metal it’s time for the high-octane tune Follow the Beast, showcasing an incredibly addictive chorus (“Follow the beast / The end is in sight, the end’s coming near / Follow the beast / Dark clouds all over the sea / Follow the beast / There’s no way out, living in fear / Follow the beast / Stay close to me, don’t disappear”), with Bobby being on fire behind his drums while Axel embellishes the airwaves with his stylish riffs and solos. Then Ferdy’s gentle piano kicks off the romantic Fly with Me, where needless to say Johnny steals the spotlight with another striking vocal performance while Axel extracts sheer passion from his strings, proving metal bands don’t need to play at the speed of light to sound majestic. Johnny takes a break while his bandmates jam in great fashion in the instrumental tune The Rise of Ankhoor, spearheaded by the virtuoso Axel armed with his incendiary guitar, pumping us up for the title-track Lost XXIII, a traditional Axel Rudi Pell aria exhaling epicness, magic and darkness, with Ferdy’s keys nicely complementing Axel’s riffs in a bold and powerful feast full of melancholy beautifully transformed into words by Johnny, putting a stunning ending to the album.

Axel Rudi Pell Lost XXIII Deluxe Box Set

Such beautiful and pleasant album of our beloved Heavy Metal and Hard Rock can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would add it to your collection of metal albums by clicking HERE, or even better, you can grab the superb Lost XXIII Deluxe Box Set from Nuclear Blast or from Napalm Records. In addition, Axel and his team of amazing musicians are waiting for you on Facebook and on Instagram, where you can stay updated on their tour dates, and based on the high quality of the music found in Lost XXIII their upcoming shows will surely be awesome. And just like that we have more of the thrilling music by Mr. Axel Rudi Pell to enjoy until the band releases new material, most probably in 2024, for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: Survive, No Compromise, Gone with the Wind and Follow the Beast.

Worst moments of the album: Freight Train.

Released in 2022 SPV/Steamhammer

Track listing
1. Lost XXIII Prequel (Intro) 1:47
2. Survive 5:02
3. No Compromise 4:57
4. Down on the Streets 4:46
5. Gone with the Wind 8:56
6. Freight Train 6:08
7. Follow the Beast 5:02
8. Fly with Me 5:42
9. The Rise of Ankhoor 3:48
10. Lost XXIII 8:35

Band members
Johnny Gioeli – vocals
Axel Rudi Pell – guitar
Volker Krawczak – bass
Ferdy Doernberg – keyboards
Bobby Rondinelli – drums

Album Review – Sijjeel / Salvation Within Insanity (2022)

From the morbid purgatory that lies between the edge of sanity and the shores of madness comes a vicious Death Metal entity bringing forth disease, destruction and death.

From the morbid purgatory that lies between the edge of sanity and the shores of madness comes the furious, brutal Death Metal of a vicious entity known as Sijjeel. Hatched in the desert sands of Saudi Arabia nearly a decade ago, more specifically in 2013 in the city of Damman, the capital of the Eastern Province, the eyes of Sijjeel soon turned to Europe to find the warped souls that could complete the three-headed beast, with vocalist Floor Van Kuijk (Carnifloor, Focal Dystonia, Korpse) and bassist Lukas Kaminski (Stillbirth, Placenta Powerfist) being chosen to join guitarist Hussain Akbar and bring forth disease, destruction and death. Mixed and mastered by Floor himself at GLDCHN Studios, and displaying a hellish artwork by Indonesian artist Rudi Gorgingsuicide, the hellbound tour de force of terror Salvation Within Insanity is the first full-length effort by such demented trio, following up on the insanity found in their 2020 debut EP Cyclopean Megaliths and, therefore, being highly recommended for admirers of Defeated Sanity, Incinerate and Twitch Of The Death Nerve, among other bands that worship brutality above all things in heavy music.

The thunderous, menacing bass by Lukas will hammer your head mercilessly in the opening track Isolation Behind Unrealism, bringing forward pure, unfiltered Death Metal for lovers of the genre, with Floor barking rabidly amidst the band’s sonic devastation, whereas Inverted Contentment in Salvation is a beyond infernal display of the band’s ruthless aggression in the form of Death Metal, with Hussain firing razor-edged riffs from his axe while the programmed (but very organic) drums sound like a stone crusher. There’s not a single second of peace as those metallers keep pulverizing our ears in The Affliction of Deteriorating Minds, another solid display of Brutal Slammin’ Death Metal by the trio spearheaded by the sick guttural by Floor; and get ready to be smashed like an insect by the bludgeoning riffs and drums by Hussain in Mental Paralysis, also showcasing tons of progressiveness and groove flowing from Lukas’ demented bass jabs.

The trio continues to crush our senses in Climbing Into the Abyss, exhaling brutality, rage and speed, with Hussain once again displaying a spot-on job done on the guitar, and the music gets darker and more infernal as time goes by ending in a thrilling manner. Then they show no mercy for our souls with the fulminating Departing from Human Nature, where we’re treated to the demented beats by Lukas while Floor roars deeply nonstop, resulting in the epitome of the band’s brutality and gore; and their second to last explosion of vile Death Metal, entitled Indignation Overcame Me, brings forward endless savagery thanks to the infernal riffage by Hussain, smashing their sonic weapons like true beasts in the name of extreme music. Lastly, intricate, Stygian sounds ignite the closing hurricane Inflection to Thee Smut, offering us all another very good reason to slam into the circle pit, with Floor’s inhumane growls walking hand in hand with the blast beats by Lukas.

You can get to know more about Sijjeel, their tour dates, plans for the future and so on on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course in order to support the underground you should definitely purchase a copy of Salvation Within Insanity from Comatose Music’s BandCamp page or webstore. Relentless and absolutely punishing from start to finish, Salvation Within Insanity is indeed a fantastic display of Extreme Metal made in Saudi Arabia, proving once and for all our beloved metal music knows no barriers, inviting people from all over the world to slam into the pit and to raise our horns to bands like Sijjeel forever and ever. That’s how Death Metal is supposed to be, and if the band keeps firing albums like Salvation Within Insanity in the coming years such intense genre will get even stronger than what it already is.

Best moments of the album: Inverted Contentment in Salvation, Mental Paralysis and Departing from Human Nature.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Comatose Music

Track listing
1. Isolation Behind Unrealism 4:31
2. Inverted Contentment in Salvation 3:14
3. The Affliction of Deteriorating Minds 3:49
4. Mental Paralysis 4:04
5. Climbing Into the Abyss 4:33
6. Departing from Human Nature 3:25
7. Indignation Overcame Me 4:18
8. Inflection to Thee Smut 6:04

Band members
Floor Van Kuijk – vocals
Hussain Akbar – guitar, drum programming
Lukas Kaminski – bass