Album Review – Obscura Qalma / Apotheosis (2021)

Exploring human existence in an epistemological solipsistic view, the debut album by this Stygian Italian horde is a lecture in epic and dark Death Metal that exists in its own philosophically inspired realm.

Formed in 2018 in Venice, Italy from connections built in their local scene while performing within their prior projects, the unrelenting Blackened/Symphonic Death Metal horde known as Obscura Qalma have just released their debut full-length opus, entitled Apotheosis, the follow-up to their 2019 EP From the Sheol to the Apeiron. Mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni at Domination Studio and displaying a sinister artwork by Mexican artist Néstor Ávalos (Black Arts), Apotheosis (or “to deify” from Greek) explores human existence in an epistemological solipsistic view inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud, as well as by contemporary figures such as Massimo Recalcati and James Owen Weatherall, while musically speaking the inspiration comes from bands the likes of Dissection, Emperor and Death as well as by classical music and film composers such as Alexandre Desplat, showcasing all the talent and passion for dark music by vocalist and guitarist Sirius (Necrosy, Supremacy), guitarist Sartorius (As Memory Dies), bassist Theo (From the Shores), and drummer Res (Supremacy).

The cinematic and absolutely epic intro Demise Of The Sun sets the stage for Obscura Qalma to crush our souls in Impure Black Enlightenment, a lecture in Symphonic Black Metal with Res smashing his drums manically accompanied by the wicked riffage by Sirius and Sartorius, all spiced up by an imposing atmosphere and the demonic growls by Sirius. Then keeping the ambience as dark and sulfurous as possible the quartet blasts the venomous Gemini, with Theo and his rumbling bass adding a touch of aggressiveness to the overall result, not to mention how infernal the drums sound once again; and their onrush of obscurity goes on in The Forbidden Pantheon, another epic, massive Blackened Death Metal extravaganza led by the hellish vociferations by Sirius, sounding old school but at the same time offering the listener a fresh and modern twist. There’s no time to breathe as the quartet keeps decimating our souls in Transcending The Sefirot, with Res sounding like a three-headed beast behind his drums supported by the whimsical riffs and solos by Sirius and Sartorius.

It can’t get any more symphonic than in Paradise Lost, a dense, multi-layered creation by Obscura Qalma showcasing their trademark fusion of classic Death and Black Metal with movie-inspired scores and wicked sounds, and you better get ready to have your neck broken in half to the sound of Fleshbound, a pulverizing Blackened Death Metal tune where their riffs, bass lines and pounding beats will hammer your head mercilessly until the very last second. Never tired of bringing forward their passion and admiration for the dark side of music, it’s time for Sirius to roar in anger in The Telemachus Complex, a beautiful composition that will leave you completely disoriented, with Res taking the lead with his intricate and furious beats, whereas not a single moment of peace is offered to us all in Imperial Cult, with its background elements creating an interesting paradox with the savagery crafted by all band members. Lastly, we’re treated to Awaken A Shrine To Oblivion, starting in a more alternative and futuristic manner and evolving into their usual sound, albeit not as compelling as its predecessors.

You can enjoy all the obscurity and fury of Apotheosis by streaming the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your utmost support to those talented Italian metallers you should purchase the album from their BandCamp page or Big Cartel, from the Rising Nemesis Records’ BandCamp page or Big Cartel, or simply click HERE for different places where you can buy or stream the album. In addition to all that, don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their wicked music. “From the nihilistic foundations of European culture and epistemological solipsism to astrophysics and psychoanalysis, Apotheosis dwells on the limits of human knowledge and the impassable boundaries of its own existence,” commented the band about their newborn spawn, creating epic and dark Death Metal that exists in its own philosophically inspired realm and, therefore, paving a promising path ahead of the band in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Impure Black Enlightenment, Paradise Lost and The Telemachus Complex.

Worst moments of the album: Awaken A Shrine To Oblivion.

Released in 2021 Rising Nemesis Records

Track listing
1. Demise Of The Sun 1:24
2. Impure Black Enlightenment 4:07
3. Gemini 5:17
4. The Forbidden Pantheon 5:01
5. Transcending The Sefirot 4:33
6. Paradise Lost 6:23
7. Fleshbound 4:01
8. The Telemachus Complex 5:28
9. Imperial Cult 4:28
10. Awaken A Shrine To Oblivion 5:57

Band members
Sirius – vocals, guitar
Sartorius – guitar
Theo – bass, backing vocals
Res – drums, additional percussion

Album Review – Vulnificus / Innomination EP (2021)

Behold the debut effort by an unrelenting American duo attempting to push Death Metal back to its extreme limits.

Formed in the fall of 2021 in the United States by vocalist Eston Browne (Abolishing the Ignominious) and multi-instrumentalist Wilson Sherels (Urotherapy, Epidermolysis), the dynamic Brutal Death Metal duo known as Vulnificus is attempting to push Death Metal back to its extreme limits with their debut demo/EP, entitled Innomination, highly recommended for fans of bands the likes of Cenotaph, Defeated Sanity, Brodequin and Orchidectomy. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Demolition Studios by Wilson with additional recording and mixing of vocals by Eston at BWNTWN STN, and displaying a sick cover art by Pileworm Guttural Art and logo by Force Fed Graphics, Innomination will smash us like an insect with its 12 minutes of sheer brutality, leaving us all absolutely disoriented and eager for their first full-length opus in the near future.

Wilson begins his demented sonic attack in Scraped and Scattered, providing Eston with all he needs to torment our souls with his gruesome vociferations. In other words, it’s the epitome of underground brutality, and I’m sure Wilson’s blast beats will inspire you to slam into the pit like a maniac in the name of Death Metal. The duo shows no mercy for our necks in Induced Rampage, as Wilson continues to hammer his guitar, bass and drums nonstop while Eston roars and growls like a creature from the abyss, resulting in an insane Death Metal extravaganza spiced up by the song’s closing eerie noises crafted by Eston. And their last Deathslam feast comes in the form of the title-track Innomination, another bestial creation by those infernal metallers showcasing their trademark growls and demolishing beats, not to mention how caustic the riffs by Wilson feel, ending the band’s welcome card on a high and putrid note.

After the 12 minutes of savagery blasted by Vulnificus are over, you’ll certainly go back to the start and listen to their undisputed Brutal Death Metal again and again, proving how sick, vile and honest their music is. Hence, let’s show our support to this up-and-coming American bludgeoning duo by following them on Facebook and on Instagram for all things Vulnificus, and by grabbing a copy of their demo from their own BandCamp page or by streaming it as many times as you want on Spotify. As already mentioned, Eston and Wilson are already working on their debut full-length album for sometime in 2022, and until then we can keep practicing our slamming skills to the sound of Innomination because when their full-bodied beast comes to life, it will be hell on earth in the name of Brutal Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: Induced Rampage.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Scraped and Scattered 4:37
2.Induced Rampage 4:19
3. Innomination 2:54

Band members
Eston Browne – vocals
Wilson Sherels – all instruments

Album Review – Ewiniar / Burning the Night (2021)

From a mutual love of dark, moody and melancholic music emerges the debut album by a Melodic Gothic Rock and Metal husband-and-wife unity from Croatia.

From a mutual love of dark, moody and melancholic music emerges the sound of Split, Croatia-based Melodic Gothic Rock/Metal unity Ewiniar,  who has just released their debut effort Burning the Night. Combining female vocals over juddering drums and blistering guitar work to deliver a sonic experience that is all their own, the husband-and-wife duo formed of vocalist Katarina Tramontana and vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Marin Tramontana explores the broad range of their influences by producing music that lights their inner fire in Burning the Night, all enhanced by the top-of-the-line mixing and mastering by Theodor Borovski at Slaughtered Studio and the stylish artwork by James Hutton Illustration, therefore being highly recommended for admirers of the music by renowned bands the likes of Nightwish, Within Temptation and Epica, among many others.

As soon as you hit play a doomed atmosphere will embrace your soul in Against the Stream, with Marin delivering classic beats and riffs, and consequently providing Katarina with all she needs to shine on vocals. Not only that, all elements from 80’s Gothic Rock added to their music make things even more mesmerizing. Then blending the whimsical sounds of bands like Tristania, Nightwish and Paradise Lost, the band offers us all Under the Stars, a beautiful creation by the duo showcasing Katarina’s crisp vocal lines amidst the rumbling bass lines and rhythmic beats by Marin, followed by Years of Heaven, another enfolding creation by Ewiniar where Marian has an awesome performance as a one-man music machine, with his riffs and solos walking hand in hand with his ethereal keys. And a serene start to the acoustic guitars by Marin and Katarina’s gorgeous vocals evolves into Mother, presenting a solid sound but lacking the same punch and feeling from the rest of the album.

Adding hints of folk to their doomed Gothic Rock it’s time for the almost medieval ballad Midnight Sun, flowing smoothly until the very end (and all spiced up by a soulful guitar solo by Marin), whereas drinking form the same fountain as Epica, Nightwish and After Forever the duo brings forward Suspiria, with Katarina stealing the spotlight with her stunning vocals. Back to an 80’s goth sonority the couple delivers the melodic Until the End of Time, feeling like the soundtrack to a fantasy movie thanks to the cryptic ambience crafted by Marin; and the second to last blast of their fusion of Gothic Rock and Metal comes in the form of Seekers of the Sense, another stylish, gentle but at the same time dark composition. Lastly, the title-track Burning the Night is even more epic and imposing than its predecessors, with Katarina embellishing the airwaves with her voice while Marin brings thunder to the music with his riffs, beats and keys until the very last second.

Burning the Night might be available in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but in order to show your true support to such talented couple you should definitely purchase a copy of the album from their own BandCamp page. Also, don’t forget to follow Katarina and Marin on Facebook and on Instagram for news, more of their music and other nice-to-know details about them, immersing yourself in the Gothic and melodic world of Ewiniar. Katarina and Marin deserve our full appreciation and respect for putting together such beautiful and embracing album all by themselves, and let’s hope that their aforementioned mutual love for dark music never dies and that they keep bringing forth an array of albums as good as their debut opus in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Under the Stars, Suspiria and Burning the Night.

Worst moments of the album: Mother.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Against the Stream 4:43
2. Under the Stars 4:30
3. Years of Heaven 5:23
4. Mother 5:31
5. Midnight Sun 6:29
6. Suspiria 5:11
7. Until the End of Time 5:02
8. Seekers of the Sense 4:57
9. Burning the Night 5:09

Band members
Katarina Tramontana – vocals
Marin Tramontana – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Swallow The Sun / Moonflowers (2021)

Jyväskylä, Finland’s own Doom Metal unity returns with another stunning album, offering us all eight beautiful, captivating songs blooming in misery.

Formed in 2000 in Jyväskylä, Keski-Suomi, Finland by guitarist Juha Raivio, the five-piece Finnish Melodic Doom/Death Metal outfit Swallow The Sun has just unleashed upon humanity their new opus entitled Moonflowers, the eight in their undisputed career. Currently comprised of Mikko Kotamaki on vocals, Juha Raivio on the guitars and keyboards, Juho Raiha also on the guitars, Matti Honkonen on bass, and Juuso Raatkainen on drums, Swallow The Sun continue to pave the gloomy path of their previous album When a Shadow Is Forced into the Light (inspired by the loss of Juha’s life partner Aleah Stanbridge in 2016), offering fans of the most melodic side of doom eight beautiful, captivating songs in the span of over 52 minutes, being therefore the perfect soundtrack for the darkest days in your life.

The striking opening song Moonflowers Bloom in Misery is absolutely doomed from the very first second, with Mikko already delivering his melancholic, grim vocal lines accompanied by the sluggish beats by Juuso, exploding into a massive feast of Melodic Death and Doom Metal. Then in Enemy we’re treated to beautiful lyrics declaimed by Mikko (“I crawl back to my shadow / From the edge of the light / Deep down into the sea of my own rain sirens / In the eye of the… / Enemy, inside of me / Torn from a trail of light / Grail of serpents lies”) while Juho and Juha’s guitars make an interesting paradox with Juha’s own keys; followed by Woven into Sorrow, a lecture in darkness and sorrow by the band presenting gorgeous, serene guitar lines intertwined with sheer heaviness and whimsical background elements, also featuring guest backing vocals by Antti Hyyrynen from Stam1na. Not only that, t’s impressive how they manage to make their music epic and symphonic without losing their blackened core essence, which is also the case in Keep Your Heart Safe from Me, almost eight minutes of top-of-the-line doom showcasing infernal, headbanging sounds led by Juuso’s drums supported by the low-tuned bass by Matti while also presenting a more cryptic, delicate side of the band.

All Hallows’ Grieve features guest vocals by the stunning Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber), and she nails it with her soulful vocals (“Before I go, I’ll let you know / My heart was honest, for you / My heart was cruel / You believed / I’m a soul of a ghost to fight for / I believe, I believe, I lost my will to fight for”), resulting in a sensational doom aria, whereas drinking from the fountain of 80’s Gothic and Doom Metal it’s time for the enfolding and somber The Void, where Matti and Juuso once again generate a reverberating ambience with their respective weapons. The Fight of Your Life is another gentle and melancholic composition by Swallow The Sun which despite presenting all elements we love in their music is not as compelling as the rest of the album; and closing the album it’s time for an infernal composition titled This House Has No Home, where the keys by Juha walk hand in hand with both the clean vocals and the demonic roars by Mikko, putting a climatic and dark ending to the album.

In a nutshell, the very pleasant and obscure Moonflowers, which is available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, cements Swallow The Sun’s name as one of the best Doom Metal acts of the past 20 years while at the same time provides admirers of doom with something fresh, leaving us all eager for more of their stunning creations. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and so on, and obviously to grab your copy of Moonflowers by clicking HERE. Keep in mind that if you go for the mediabook or boxset edition of the album, it comes with a very beautiful bonus disc with classical versions of all songs of the album recorded at the Sipoo Church in Finland by Trio N O X, comprised of Aino Rautakorpi on violin, Helena Dumell on viola and Annika Furstenborg on cello, as for example their gorgeous rendition of the song All Hallows’ Grieve. And while the moonflowers keep blooming in misery, Swallow The Sun will continue to darken the skies with their classy Doom Metal for at least another 20 years.

Best moments of the album: Moonflowers Bloom in Misery, Woven into Sorrow and All Hallows’ Grieve.

Worst moments of the album: The Fight of Your Life.

Released in 2021 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Moonflowers Bloom in Misery 6:19
2. Enemy 5:39
3. Woven into Sorrow 7:46
4. Keep Your Heart Safe from Me 7:47
5. All Hallows’ Grieve 5:37
6. The Void 5:39
7. The Fight of Your Life 7:13
8. This House Has No Home 6:40

Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc (Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun)
1. Moonflowers Bloom in Misery (classical version) 4:52
2. Enemy (classical version) 3:06
3. Woven into Sorrow (classical version) 4:39
4. Keep Your Heart Safe from Me (classical version) 3:13
5. All Hallows’ Grieve (classical version) 4:58
6. The Void (classical version) 4:01
7. The Fight of Your Life (classical version) 4:16
8. This House Has No Home (classical version) 3:03

Band members
Mikko Kotamaki – vocals
Juha Raivio – guitars, keyboards
Juho Raiha – guitars
Matti Honkonen – bass
Juuso Raatkainen – drums

Guest musicians
Cammie Gilbert – vocals on “All Hallows’ Grieve”
Antti Hyyrynen – backing vocals on “Woven into Sorrow”
Jaani Peuhu – backing vocals
Aino Rautakorpi – violin on all classical versions from the Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc “Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun”
Helena Dumell – viola on all classical versions from the Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc “Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun”
Annika Furstenborg – cello on all classical versions from the Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc “Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun”

Album Review – Exodus / Persona Non Grata (2021)

Don’t be a “persona non grata” in the world of heavy music and get into the circle pit to the sound of the newborn beast by one of the driving forces of Thrash Metal worldwide.

Persona Non Grata, an unacceptable or unwelcome person, is also the name of the brand new Thrash Metal beast by Bay Area titans Exodus, their first studio album since Blood In, Blood Out in 2014 and their second to feature vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza since he returned to the band that same year. Recorded at drummer Tom Hunting’s three home studios in Lake Almanor, California, mixed by Andy Sneap at Backstage Studios, engineered by Steve Lagudi, displaying an ass-kicking, venomous artwork by Pär Olofsson, and featuring guests Rick Hunolt, who had been an Exodus member on and off since replacing original guitarist Kirk Hammett in 1983, and Zetro’s own sons Nick Souza and Cody Souza on backing vocals, both from Zetro’s band Hatriot, Persona Non Grata is another lesson in violence by the aforementioned Zetro and Tom together with guitarists Gary Holt and Lee Altus and bassist Jack Gibson, and despite the delay in the release of the album due to Gary’s commitments with Slayer until 2019 and Tom’s diagnosis with squamous cell carcinoma of the stomach (and I’m sure Tom will beat the shit out of it), the wait was totally worth it as their new album is undoubtedly one of the best releases in the world of metal in 2021.

Gary and Lee waste no time and begin their axe attack in great fashion in the pulverizing title-track Persona Non Grata, a lecture in savagery by Exodus uniting their early days sound with their heavier and more demonic present, also showcasing a beyond bestial Tom on drums;  and they keep hammering our heads mercilessly in the circle pit-generator R.E.M.F., presenting another awesome guitar job by Gary and Lee supported by the metallic bass by Jack, while Zetro vociferates rabidly just the way we like it. Then an incendiary intro evolves into another Thrash Metal extravaganza titled Slipping into Madness, which will inspire you to slam into the pit in the name of heavy music. It’s very old school without sounding outdated, with Zetro once again being on fire with his raspy roars, whereas in Elitist the band sounds less intense but still violent and acid as usual, with Jack and Tom extracting earthshaking sounds from their respective bass and drums while the band’s guitar duo delivers their trademark sharp solos. Sinister sounds permeate the air in Prescribing Horror, a neck-breaking, vile creation by Exodus where Tom smashes his drums flawlessly, followed by The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves), a pure, unfiltered Bay Area Thrash hymn which will sound amazing when played live, with Zetro, Gary and Lee being in total sync from start to finish.

Exodus Persona Non Grata Box Set

The Years of Death and Dying is a lot more melodic than its predecessors, offering their trademark unfriendly lyrics (“I’m a force of nature pure and sure / I’ve killed through all of time / When a GALE force wind blows through you / You’ll know that you are mine / I am legend, I’m your end / You’ll wither when I’m near / I’m the years of death and dying / the sum of all your fears”), while in Clickbait the unstoppable Zetro gnarls the song’s austere words manically (“We take the clickbait / Follow as they lead / With every word they captivate / We blindly follow they trail like human sheep / Never awake always asleep”) accompanied by the brutality blasted by Tom on drums. After the short and sweet Southern Rock-inspired instrumental interlude Cosa del Pantano, the band comes crushing us all in Lunatic-Liar-Lord, featuring a sick guitar solo by Rick Hunolt while the band brings to our ears eight minutes of aggression, speed and adrenaline, all spearheaded by the undisputed riffage by the one and only Gary Holt. There’s no sign of slowing down and the quintet keeps delivering sheer electricity and rage in The Fires of Division, another Thrash Metal anthem perfect for hitting the “dance” floor while Zetro continues to fire his unique growls; and closing such dense and demolishing album of vicious thrash we have Antiseed, starting in a dark manner before exploding into a massive, evil creature led by the aggressive vocals by Zetro and the heavy-as-hell riffage by Gary and Lee.

After listening to over one hour of the ass-kicking, first-class, undisputed Thrash Metal blasted by Exodus in Persona Non Grata, we can rest assured thrash is very much alive, and will forever be, positioning not only the album as one of the best metal releases of the year, but also Exodus as one of the true driving forces of today’s Thrash Metal alongside Testament. Hence, don’t forget to follow Zetro, Gary & Co. on Facebook and on Instagram, and to buy or stream Persona Non Grata by clicking HERE, and if I were you I would definitely go for the beyond special boxset edition of the album (which you can purchase HERE or HERE), limited to 2,000 worldwide and including the album on CD and orange/red swirl with black splatter vinyl, a “Jam Camp!” Blu-ray, a 20-page booklet, a slip mat, a wall flag and a patch, all embraced by a custom packaging with 3D-vacuformed album art and clamshell box with die-cut window and gold foil stamping. And if after all that you still decide not to grab your copy of such insane album, I’m sorry but from now on you’re “persona non grata” at The Headbanging Moose.

Best moments of the album: Persona Non Grata, R.E.M.F., The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves) and Lunatic-Liar-Lord.

Worst moments of the album: The Years of Death and Dying.

Released in 2021 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Persona Non Grata 7:30
2. R.E.M.F. 4:22
3. Slipping into Madness 5:33
4. Elitist 3:58
5. Prescribing Horror 5:09
6. The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves) 3:01
7. The Years of Death and Dying 5:22
8. Clickbait 4:31
9. Cosa del Pantano 1:13
10. Lunatic-Liar-Lord 7:59
11. The Fires of Division 5:23
12. Antiseed 6:17

Band members
Steve “Zetro” Souza – vocals
Gary Holt – lead and rhythm guitars
Lee Altus – lead and rhythm guitars
Jack Gibson – bass
Tom Hunting – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Rick Hunolt – lead guitars on “Lunatic-Liar-Lord”, backing vocals
Cody Souza – backing vocals
Nick Souza – backing vocals

Album Review – Goatchrist / Odes to the Radiant One (2021)

One of UK’s most talented underground entities is ready to mesmerize us all once again with his brand new Kabbalistic Progressive Black Metal album.

One year after the release of the excellent Apotheosis, Leeds, UK-based Experimental/Progressive Black Metal entity Goatchrist returns to action once again with a Kabbalistic Progressive Black Metal album entitled Odes to the Radiant One, a unique listening experience that will keep you hooked until the last minute. The brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist J. Guilherme (or Jacob Guilherme, if you prefer), Goatchrist nailed it once again with Odes to the Radiant One, containing both the experimental tendencies of Pythagoras and an Orthodox Black Metal basis for composition and, therefore, turning the album into a must-listen for fans of the most experimental side of extreme music.

The short and sweet intro Baruch Atta Adonai… warms up our souls for I, the Lawgiver, with Jacob already delivering crisp, piercing riffs and his trademark devilish gnarls, supported by the clean vocals by D. Tann to give the song’s poetic lyrics an extra punch (“I shall be, / Felled before the promised land art reached, / For of my needs and dreams: / I did not them feed.”). In other words, it’s all we want in Progressive Black Metal, whereas in The Emergence of Tiferet from that Qlipa which Envelopes Binah we’re treated to another round of Jacob’s unique words (“Each oneness can be divided into onenesses. / Each single ‘One’ is dependent on other ‘Ones’: / Whether a thought, or whether some force, / Or whether a glare or a stench or a roar, / All possess multiple ‘Ones’!”) amidst a fusion of Melodic Black Metal and progressive and symphonic elements. Guest D. Tann returns with his clean vocals in Proclamations of the Baal Shem Tov, while Jacob smashes his drums and slashes his axe in a very melodic and enfolding display of Black Metal, with its vocal paradox adding tons of feeling to the overall result.

Then ominous organ sounds are the main ingredient in Interlude, generating a whimsical ambience before we face Of the Sephirot (Which Art the Qlippoth), another solid Black Metal creation by Jacob showcasing his trademark growls intertwined with eccentric background sounds in a hybrid of extreme music and metaphysical theories. After such intense composition, eerie keys are quickly joined by blast beats and visceral guitars in Transcending the Boundaries of Ayin, with Jacob growling and gnarling like a demonic entity until the very last second; followed by A People Embattled (or, A Song for Those Who Wrestle with El), a classic Goatchrist song with a modern twist bringing to our ears Jacob’s unique fusion of heavy and melodic sounds, all of course spiced up by his wicked roars in a lesson in Progressive black Metal. In the second to last aria from the album, titled Jacob’s Ladder, Jacob offers more obscure and sluggish sounds by adding elements of Doom Metal such as damned beats to Goatchrist’s core sonority, sounding grim and dark until the very end. Lastly, Jacob brings to our ears Im HaShem Lo Yivneh Bayis, his own metallic rendition to a traditional Jewish song that means “unless the Lord builds the house”, also known as “Shomer Yisrael” or “Guardian Of Israel”, putting an upbeat and vibrant ending to the album.

In summary, in the very detailed and exciting Odes to the Radiant One, which is available for a full listen on YouTube, Jacob and his Goatchrist continue to explore the Kabbalah and its importance in Jewish mysticism in a very entertaining way without losing the project’s darkened core sound, proving once again how talented Jacob is and how easily he can incorporate non-metal elements to his Experimental and Progressive Black Metal. Hence, don’t forget to pay him a visit on Facebook to keep up to date with all things Goatchrist, and more important than that, to purchase Odes to the Radiant One from his own BandCamp page, showing all your admiration and support to the underground. And may Jacob release more albums like his latest ones in the near future in honor of his own cultural heritage and, of course, in the name of good extreme music.

Best moments of the album: I, the Lawgiver, Proclamations of the Baal Shem Tov and A People Embattled (or, A Song for Those Who Wrestle with El).

Worst moments of the album: Transcending the Boundaries of Ayin.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Baruch Atta Adonai… 0:22
2. I, the Lawgiver 6:32
3. The Emergence of Tiferet from that Qlipa which Envelopes Binah 4:48
4. Proclamations of the Baal Shem Tov 6:56
5. Interlude 1:22
6. Of the Sephirot (Which Art the Qlippoth) 6:22
7. Transcending the Boundaries of Ayin 4:03
8. A People Embattled (or, A Song for Those Who Wrestle with El) 5:14
9. Jacob’s Ladder 4:52
10. Im HaShem Lo Yivneh Bayis 3:48

Band members
J. Guilherme – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
D. Tann – clean vocals on “I, the Lawgiver” and “Proclamations of the Baal Shem Tov”

Album Review – Intricated / Apocalyptic Metamorphosis (2021)

From the sin swamped streets of Bangkok to the frenzied furnace of your nightmares, Intricated are coming for you armed with ten tracks of precision putridity and bludgeoning, blasting brutality.

Twisting the very fabric of reality, tearing through the layers of existence and warping everything you know to be true, Bangkok, Thailand’s own Brutal Death Metal unity Intricated has pushed themselves to the limit in their brand new album entitled Apocalyptic Metamorphosis, a worthy follow-up to their 2016 debut effort The Vortex Of Fatal Depravity. Mixed by the band itself, mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music, and displaying a sick artwork by Japanese illustrator Toshihiro Egawa, Apocalyptic Metamorphosis brings to our ears ten tracks of precision putridity and bludgeoning, blasting brutality carefully crafted by vocalist Panyawat Sridee, guitarist Jeeraset Paemongkol, bassist Wasumit Wongwai and drummer Pratchaya Phadungthin, resulting in a monstrous opus of chaos unleashed recommended for fans of Suffocation, Cryptopsy and Deeds Of Flesh, among others torchbearers of extreme sonic savagery.

An ominous, sinister intro titled The Sixth Invisible Light of the Unobserved Heterogeneity Dimension opens the gates of hell for Intricated to kill with Ruthless Domination, a pulverizing Deathslam onrush led by the blast beats by Pratchaya and the deep and utterly cadaverous growls by Panyawat while Jeeraset and Wasumit show no mercy for their stringed weapons; whereas Impaling the Emperor is even more infernal than its predecessor, with Pratchaya sounding beyond infuriated on drums. What a solid display of Brutal Death Metal by the band, sounding perfect for slamming into the pit like a demented beast, and there’s a lot more devastation by Intricated with Summoning the Abyzou, where they kick some serious ass with their pulverizing Death Metal spiced up by the razor-edged riffage by Jeeraset. And An Experimentation of Genocide (Unit 731) brings forward two and a half minutes of brutality, gore and violence in the form of extreme music, where it’s impressive how Panyawat’s vocals get deeper and more gruesome as the music progresses.

There’s no time to breathe as the quartet continues to smash our cranial skulls mercilessly in Flagitious Meditation, with Wasumit making the earth tremble with his bass supported by the always demented drums by Pratchaya, making an instant bridge with the also bludgeoning The Manifest of Apocalyptic Variation, highly recommended for breaking your neck headbanging with Jeeraset once again exhaling malignancy from his axe. Enigmatic Portal of Demise is a lecture in Brutal Death Metal by Intricated, showcasing all elements we love in the genre including of course the bestial vociferations by Panyawat and the complex but always infernal beats by Pratchaya; and keeping the album at a high level of animosity it’s time for the instrumental Interdimensional Being…, presenting a solid work done by the quartet (albeit I miss their evil growls). Finally it’s time for Iniquitous Creatures, a hellish, absolutely heavy and devilish creation bringing to our ears six minutes of pure savagery masterfully brought forth by the band, with Panyawat leading his horde with his wicked, deranged gnarls until the song’s Stygian ending.

The apocalyptic world of Death Metal ruled by Intricated can be better appreciated by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, and of course by purchasing Apocalyptic Metamorphosis from the Comatose Music BandCamp page or webstore as a regular CD or as a CD + shirt + sticker bundle, as well as from several other online locations including Barnes & Noble, Waterloo Records, Monster Music & Movies, Schoolkids Records, and Record Archive. From the sin swamped streets of Bangkok to the frenzied furnace of your nightmares, Intricated are coming for you armed with their beast of an album, proving Thailand can easily become one of the epicenters of underground Death Metal worldwide.

Best moments of the album: An Experimentation of Genocide (Unit 731), Enigmatic Portal of Demise and Iniquitous Creatures.

Worst moments of the album: Interdimensional Being…

Released in 2021 Comatose Music

Track listing
1. The Sixth Invisible Light of the Unobserved Heterogeneity Dimension 0:40
2. Ruthless Domination 3:46
3. Impaling the Emperor 3:50
4. Summoning the Abyzou 3:19
5. An Experimentation of Genocide (Unit 731) 2:34
6. Flagitious Meditation 2:49
7. The Manifest of Apocalyptic Variation 4:17
8. Enigmatic Portal of Demise 3:02
9. Interdimensional Being… 2:20
10. Iniquitous Creatures 6:05

Band members
Panyawat Sridee – vocals
Jeeraset Paemongkol – guitar
Wasumit Wongwai – bass
Pratchaya Phadungthin – drums

Album Review – Inherits The Void / Monolith Of Light (2021)

A one-man Atmospheric Black Metal entity from France arises from the underworld with his first full-length album, offering us all rage and melody entwined in seven hymns to the transience of man.

Brought into being in 2020 in Clermont-Ferrand, a city and commune of France, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, the Atmospheric/Melodic Black Metal entity known as Inherits The Void is the musical endeavor of French vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Antoine Scholtès, who’s releasing this year his debut full-length opus Monolith Of Light. The follow-up to the 2020 EP Mémoires, Monolith Of Light was born from Antoine’s desire for “a meeting between influences from the 90’s Swedish Black Metal scene and a more current orientation of the genre,” offering us all rage and melody entwined in seven hymns to the transience of man, bringing to mind the great masterworks of Dissection, Dawn and Vinterland, as well as the more contemporary sounds of France. “The main idea behind that album was to compose songs that would be both melodic and atmospheric, embraced by the desire to propose a range of various emotions,” commented Antoine, also saying that Monolith Of Light “deals with the will to face human beings with the fact that they are ephemeral on the scale of cosmos and to confront them, also, with their faults and the absurdity of many of their acts.”

And Stygian, mesmerizing sounds arise from the underworld before Antoine comes ripping with his infernal roars in Pillars of the Aether, a brutal Black Metal tune with an ethereal background where his blast beats and hellish riffs are simply amazing; whereas As the Winds Moan the Threnody is even more breathtaking and detailed than the opening track, showcasing an Antoine on fire with his riff and drum attack while at the same time he crafts a sinister and incendiary ambience perfect for his enraged growls, resulting in a beautiful display of Melodic and Atmospheric Black Metal. Then the title-track Monolith of Light continues to pave Inherits The Void’s obscure path, setting an interesting and demonic flow to the album and displaying the aggressiveness of classic Black Metal intertwined with melodic passages, all embraced by a strong sense of hopelessness.

Another hurricane of darkened sounds is offered to us all in the form of Unfathomable Echoes, where Antoine hammers his guitar, bass and drums mercilessly in a lecture in Atmospheric Black Metal that will please all fans of the genre, followed by Starless Path, which starts in a more melodic and serene manner and gradually evolves into Antoine’s trademark sonic strike, or in other words, it’s a stylish instrumental interlude that flows smoothly into the epic Through the Eyes of Cosmos, where once again our talented multi-instrumentalist extracts darkness and light at the same time from his riffage while his growls sound more demented than before, not to mention how the music drags you into the void to never let you out. And closing the album on a beyond high note we have Aorasia, another multi-layered, massive creation by Antoine showcasing his demonic gnarls enfolded by a very melodic and fierce sonority, with his guitar lines sounding utterly sharp until the very last second.

The somber and uncanny world of Inherits The Void can be explored in detail by following Antoine and his musical beast on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course if you want to show your utmost support to the underground you should purchase a copy of Monolith Of Light from the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp page, or from Sound Cave as a digipack CD, as a black vinyl, or as a stunning silver and black galaxy vinyl. After all is said and done, we’ll all realize Monolith Of Light is indeed an album built on contrasts, which is both classic and modern, bridging the gap between decades afar and, therefore, proving Antoine is on the right path with his atmospheric and extreme alter-ego.

Best moments of the album: As the Winds Moan the Threnody and Unfathomable Echoes.

Worst moments of the album: Starless Path.

Released in 2021 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. Pillars of the Aether 6:16
2. As the Winds Moan the Threnody 5:04
3. Monolith of Light 5:20
4. Unfathomable Echoes 4:45
5. Starless Path 2:04
6. Through the Eyes of Cosmos 5:41
7. Aorasia 7:53

Band members
Antoine Scholtès – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Emerald Rage / High King (2021)

Raise your horns to this triumphant and epic album of pure Heavy Metal crafted by three young American musicians, paying homage to the glorious medieval times, King Arthur and tales of pagan folklore.

After four intense years releasing a bunch of demos, EP’s and singles, Akron, Ohio-based Heavy/Power Metal unity Emerald Rage has finally unleashed upon humanity their debut full-length album, entitled High King, a fun and admirable sonic rollercoaster as the band successfully explores the melodic sense of the NWOBHM and all the explosive leads that come with the baggage, being highly recommended for admirers of the music by Skyclad, Falconer, Iron Maiden, and so on. Paying homage to the glorious medieval times, King Arthur and tales of pagan folklore, the album sounds and feels absolutely triumphant and epic, showcasing all the talent and passion for old school metal music by Jacob Wherley on vocals and guitars, Patrick Kern also on the guitars, and Erik Curry on bass, supported by session drummer David Hardesty.

Frantic riffs and beats ignite the metal extravaganza titled Into the Sky, a beautiful and electrifying tribute to the golden years of Heavy Metal with Jacob kicking ass on vocals accompanied by the galloping bass by Erik. In Wrathful Eyes the rumbling bass by Erik offers exactly what Jacob needs to declaim the song’s wicked lyrics (“You think the morning fog hides all the lies you’ve told / But I see through the dismal gloom straight to your blackened soul / Your forces they stand line by line grumbling to themselves / They know their leader is a thief, a craven and a fool”) in another high-octane display of classic metal music, whereas a more epic, thunderous vibe permeates the air in High King, spearheaded by the tribal beats by David while Jacob and Patrick extract sheer electricity from their guitars in the best Manowar style. Then telling a story of a pagan warrior, the band blasts the traditional Heavy and Power Metal tune Heart of a Pagan, showcasing an excellent guitar attack together with the unstoppable bass jabs by Erik.

In Dire Wolves the band delivers a solid hybrid of classic Heavy Metal with 80’s Hard Rock that reminds me of some of the most thrilling creations by Axel Rudi Pell, with their striking guitar riffs and solos penetrating deep inside your mind; and adding elements from Thrash Metal to their core sonority, Erik and David bring the groove to the music in White Stag while Jacob and Patrick keep slashing their stringed axes with tons of feeling and dexterity. Then inspired by the badass Rock N’ Roll by the unparalleled Motörhead, those young metallers will put you to bang your head and slam into the pit in Empress, with even Jacob’s voice displaying hints of the grumpy vocals by Lemmy, followed by Goddess Freya, which albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album still has its good moments, with Jacob doing another great job on vocals supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals. Last but not least, Emerald Rage bring forth the rumbling tune Wings of Solitude, sounding very stylish with its strident riffs in paradox with the low-tuned, metallic bass by Erik, also full of breaks, variations and endless stamina for our total delight.

You can join Emerald Rage in their metal voyage through the glory of the medieval times by streaming High King in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details, and above all that, by grabbing your copy of their thrilling debut installment from their own BandCamp page, from the Stormspell Records’ Big Cartel, from Apple Music, from Amazon or from Discogs. Now that those young rockers have finally released their first full-length album, let’s wait and see what’s next in their career and to what period in time they’ll take us with their refined Heavy Metal, sounding like true veterans and, consequently, keeping the fires of old school heavy music burning bright wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Into the Sky, Dire Wolves and Empress.

Worst moments of the album: Goddess Freya.

Released in 2021 Stormspell Records

Track listing
1. Into the Sky 5:30
2. Wrathful Eyes 4:26
3. High King 5:37
4. Heart of a Pagan 3:25
5. Dire Wolves 3:29
6. White Stag 3:54
7. Empress 3:21
8. Goddess Freya 3:56
9. Wings of Solitude 5:35

Band members
Jacob Wherley – lead vocals, guitars
Patrick Kern – guitar, backing vocals
Erik Curry – bass, backing vocals

Guest musician
David Hardesty – drums (session)

Album Review – Hand of Kalliach / Samhainn (2021)

Behold the debut full-length album by this rising metal duo, offering us all dual concepts of benevolence and malevolence, all against the backdrop of the history, mythology and land and seascapes of the Scottish islands.

Melding a passion for metal music with traditional Scottish folk elements, Edinburgh, Scotland-based Atmospheric Celtic Metal duo Hand of Kalliach (a name that comes from the legend of the “Cailleach”, a Scottish witch god of winter) has just unleashed their globally awaited debut effort entitled Samhainn, focusing on dual concepts of benevolence and malevolence, all against the backdrop of the history, mythology and land and seascapes of the Scottish islands. Mixed and mastered by Wynter Prior at Sphynx Studios, and displaying a stylish artwork by Brazilian artist VHummel (aka Vinicius Hummel), the album is a lecture in Scottish metal by the couple formed of Sophie Fraser on vocals and bass, and John Fraser on vocals, guitars and drums, drawing  inspiration from the rhythms, time signatures and patterns used in folk music and adapting them for distorted guitars. “We’re both extremely excited to be releasing our debut full-length, Samhainn. Named after the ancient Celtic festival of winter (pronounced “Sah-win”), this album represents a huge gear change in our writing and production from our initial work, bringing a darker and more aggressive energy to our hybrid sound of Melodeath and Folk Metal,” commented John about the duo’s newborn spawn.

The opening tune Beneath Starlit Waters is atmospheric and enfolding form the very first second, with Sophie mesmerizing us all with her gentle vocals before John comes crushing with his deep roars and blast beats in a more epic version of Melodic Death Metal. Then in Solas Neònach we face sheer poetry flowing from the song’s lyrics (“Wake / From dreaming / The warmth departs these shores / From eightfold crones the chants are heard / The sand inverted once again”) while John slashes his stringed axe in great fashion, supported of course by Sophie’s ethereal vocalizations, followed by Each Uisge (roughly pronounced “eyach oosh-keh”), which translates to “water horse”, a demon from Scottish mythology that disguises itself as a horse before binding its flesh to a rider and galloping into the sea to drown and devour them. Musically speaking, it’s another stunning musical voyage showcasing a breathtaking vocal duet, a galloping bass and blast beats for our total delight. John continues to growl like a demonic entity in Roil, a lot more inclined to contemporary Melodic Death Metal, with Sophie embellishing the airwaves with her clean vocals; whereas adding elements from Viking Metal to their core essence it’s time for another epic onrush of sounds by the duo titled Cinders, where Sophie and John are thunderous with their respective bass and drums.

Arising from the depths of the underworld amidst a serene and melancholic ambience, The Lull Of Loch Uigeadail presents a more tribal side of the duo filling our ears with Celtic sounds and tones, bringing peace to our hearts before all hell breaks loose in Ascendant, leaning towards classic Melodic Death Metal while Sophie and John make the perfect metal couple throughout the entire song, resulting in a hybrid of pure rage and madness with smooth and hypnotizing sounds. Òran Na Tein’-éigin brings forward a stunning vocal attack by both Sophie and John, with its visceral drums creating a beautiful paradox with all background elements, and the duo keeps hammering our souls with their Atmospheric Celtic Metal in Trial Of The Beithir-Nimh, a solid, headbanging composition presenting metallic bass lines by Sophie intertwined with the flammable riffage by John. Finally,  get ready for one last round of poetic words (“Lost / On waves / Of an endless sea / Under starlit skies / It returns to me”) in Return to Stone while the music sounds a lot heavier and more doomed than all previous songs, feeling like the band’s farewell and, as a consequence, putting a pensive conclusion to the album.

This beautiful and absolutely atmospheric album made in Scotland can be better appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your utmost support and admiration for such talented duo you can purchase a copy of Samhainn from the band’s own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album), and don’t forget to follow Hand of Kalliach on Facebook and on Instagram to know more about this up-and-coming Scottish entity. As the festival of Samhainn marks the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or “darker-half” of the year, there’s nothing better than listening to an album that perfectly depicts that change from light to darkness and all of its nuances, and we must thank Sophie and john for being able to generate that album with such high level of passion and musicianship.

Best moments of the album: Solas Neònach, Each Uisge and Ascendant.

Worst moments of the album: Cinders.

Released in 2021 Trepanation Recordings

Track listing
1. Beneath Starlit Waters 5:56
2. Solas Neònach 4:53
3. Each Uisge 5:01
4. Roil 3:28
5. Cinders 3:02
6. The Lull Of Loch Uigeadail 3:49
7. Ascendant 3:13
8. Òran Na Tein’-éigin 4:10
9. Trial Of The Beithir-Nimh 3:49
10. Return to Stone 5:21

Band members
Sophie Fraser – vocals, bass
John Fraser – vocals, guitars, drums