Album Review – Minneriket / Gjennom Meg Går Ingen Til Hvile (2022)

A lecture in Romantic Black Metal by one of the driving forces of the current Norwegian scene, dedicated in loving memory to those we have lost.

Four years after the excellent Anima Sola, Norwegian Romantic Black Metal band Minneriket, the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Stein Akslen, returns with another blast of awesomeness in the form of Gjennom Meg Går Ingen Til Hvile, or ““through me no one goes to rest” from Norwegian. Produced and mixed by Stein himself at Hagall Studios, recorded on various location throughout the world (with all field-recordings done by Stein on location in Norway out in nature to supplement the compositions on the album), mastered by Niklas Kveldulfsson, and displaying a classic logo by Christophe Szpajdel of Lord of the Logos and front cover photography by Eivind Nilsen of Clean Shot Photography beautifully portraying model Lise Marie Sommerstad, the album features a pretty big roster of session musicians, some being amateurs, some being more known people. “In total I have been working on this album for about 6 years now. There’s a lot of memories tied up on it, and it will be dedicated in loving memory to those we have lost. Some of the lyrics on the album actually dates back about 17 years, so I’ve used this album to really go full circle,” commented Stein, who also had some interesting words to say about the field-recordings. “That had me sleeping outside in the forests for a few nights to record an owl, and all other sounds – including wolves – are real. There are no samples at all on the album.”

Birds chirping and the gentle sound of the piano ignite the opening tune Så Kald En Jord (“so call a land”), evolving into a fusion of atmospheric music and primeval Black Metal to the hellish gnarls by Stein in paradox with the song’s smooth female vocals, offering us all over eight minutes of cryptic passages, sharp guitars and rhythmic beats. Then the instrumental piece Hjemlengsel (“homesickness”) will bring peace and sorrow to our blackened hearts thanks to the stunning cello by guest Norlene Olmedo, followed by Begravelsens Hjerteslag (“the heartbeat of the funeral”), another bold and multi-layered creation by Stein where the finesse of its operatic vocals walks hand in hand with the heavy-as-hell sounds crafted by our Norwegian multi-instrumentalist in a thrilling fusion of Melodic and Atmospheric Black Metal. Regnbuer I Gråtoner (“rainbows in shades of gray”) is another beautiful metal voyage by Stein and his guests, and it’s impressive how he manages to make each and every song so unique with his bass and drums generating a rumbling ambience perfect for his devilish growls; whereas in Sorg Og Savn (“grief and loss”) we face doomed words darkly declaimed by Stein and guest Ingrid.mariea (“Dear friends, dear family / I will leave you behind / I am the lifeless rain of autumn / Without you I will shine / My wounds are yours to reap and harvest”) while the music pierces our minds mercilessly.

The serene and atmospheric interlude Solnedgang (“sunset”) will soothe our damned souls before Stein comes ripping once again in Hvil I Fred (“rest in peace”), starting in a delicate manner to the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks before exploding into more of his trademark Black Metal. Moreover, once again the heaviness of the guitars and drums beautifully clashes with enfolding keys and piano notes, not to mention how stunning the female vocalizations sound and feel. After that, delicate piano notes permeate the air in Forglemmegei (“forget-me-not”), a well-engendered (albeit a bit too long) intermission that sets the tone for Nåde (“grace”), bringing forward over 13 minutes of what feels like the soundtrack to a dark and sinister movie, with Stein blending three or four songs into one massive beast while alternating between obscure passages and sheer dementia in the form of Black Metal, ending in an epic and enfolding manner before the outro 11379 brings to our ears a stylish exhibit of folk and classic elements, with the sounds of the piano and flute adding an extra touch of delicacy to the album.

A must-listen for fans of Myrkur, Jinjer, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Arch Enemy and Evanescence, among several others, Gjennom Meg Går Ingen Til Hvile undoubtedly represents a huge step forward in the career of the multi-talented Stein, and if you want to put your hands on such distinguished album of extreme music you can purchase it from Minneriket’s own BandCamp page. In addition, don’t forget to also follow Stein and his Black Metal alter-ego on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to his YouTube channel, and to stream more of his stylish compositions on Spotify. As mentioned by Stein, Gjennom Meg Går Ingen Til Hvile is much more than just another metal album, but a music representation of his own memories intertwined with the sounds of nature, deserving our full admiration and respect and, therefore, positioning Minneriket as one of the driving forces of the current underground Black Metal scene.

Best moments of the album: Regnbuer I Gråtoner, Hvil I Fred and Nåde.

Worst moments of the album: Forglemmegei.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Så Kald En Jord 8:42
2. Hjemlengsel 2:04
3. Begravelsens Hjerteslag 7:31
4. Regnbuer I Gråtoner 6:44
5. Sorg Og Savn 5:32
6. Solnedgang 1:42
7. Hvil I Fred 5:31
8. Forglemmegei 3:44
9. Nåde 13:17
10. 11379 3:17

Band members
Stein Akslen – lead vocals, guitars, field-recordings, synths, additional instruments

Guest musicians
Misstiq – keys
Māra Lisenko – vocals
Christina Rotondo – vocals
Niklas Kveldulfsson – drums
Ingrid.mariea – vocals
Maria Kosma – bass
Margarita Chernova – strings
Norlene Olmedo – cello
Kyba – vocals
Elvann – harp
Kim Fleuchaus – flute
Thomas Englmann – saxophone
Jenny Modeman – additional vocals
C80 – additional keys
Li – gong
Temu – additional vocals
Elsewhere Choir – choir

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021

“I wanted to play drums because I fell in love with the glitter and the lights, but it wasn’t about adulation. It was being up there playing.” – Charlie Watts

And there goes another year without a single metal concert in Canada. Another year full of uncertainties, fears, polarization, restrictions, and everything else we “love” so much. I honestly don’t know what to say about 2021 apart form the fact it was undoubtedly much better than 2020, but that means nothing considering the total nightmare that 2020 was. We lost a lot of huge names in the rock and metal scene such as Joey Jordison, Dusty Hill, Mike Howe, Johnny Solinger, Marsha Zazula, Alexi Laiho, John Hinch, John Lawton, Charlie Watts and Hank Von Hell, among many others. Tons of festivals including Download, Wacken Open Air, Hellfest, Bloodstock Open Air, Sweden Rock Festival and Dynamo MetalFest were scheduled to return this year after the 2020 editions of those festivals were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but unfortunately Sweden Rock, Hellfest, Download and Wacken Open Air were once again cancelled. With that said, why do we metalheads still believe in a better future? Is it because, despite all adversities, our favorite bands released some of their best albums from the past few years?

Hence, as new lockdowns are being imposed upon us in a never-ending pandemic loop, there’s not much we can do but enjoy The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, keeping us sane until this madness is finally over. Or maybe I should say if it will be over one day, of course. There’s a bit of everything for all types of fans, from classic Heavy Metal to the brutality of Death Metal, from the modern nuances of Melodic Death Metal to old school Thrash Metal, and so on, and in my humble opinions one of the most interesting facts about several albums launched in 2021 is their duration, with many of those surpassing the one hour barrier such as Senjutsu, Helloween, Persona Non Grata, Existence Is Futile and Blood on Blood, not to mention the over four hours of music from the Lordiversity boxset, which for me proves how much the bands responsible for those albums love their fans by offering them a lot of new music to enjoy during such difficult times. I would say that even if there are ZERO metal albums launched in 2022, we’ll still have a lot of great music to enjoy throughout the year thanks to all the amazing records released in 2021, don’t you agree?

1. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu (REVIEW)
Behold another masterpiece by the one and only Iron Maiden with its 82 minutes of tactics, strategy, war, resilience and determination.
Best song of the album: Hell on Earth

2. Helloween – Helloween (REVIEW)
A dream come true for all generations of “Happy, Happy Helloween” fans from all over the world.
Best song of the album: Skyfall

3. Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon (REVIEW)
It’s time to join Trivium in the court of the dragon to the sound of their magnificent new opus.
Best song of the album: Like a Sword Over Damocles

4. Exodus – Persona Non Grata (REVIEW)
Don’t be a “persona non grata” in the world of heavy music and get into the circle pit to the sound of this newborn thrashing beast.
Best song of the album: Lunatic-Liar-Lord

5. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined (REVIEW)
State of the art Death Metal played with passion and breathless precision by the most violent and unrelenting band of all time.
Best song of the album: Surround, Kill, Devour

6. 1914 – Where Fear and Weapons Meet (REVIEW)
Ukraine’s own doom infantry is back into the battlefield with another masterpiece, telling the gruesome tales of World War I.
Best song of the album: Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines)

7. Motorjesus – Hellbreaker (REVIEW)
Let’s drive through the fires of hell together with one of the best bands from the German rock and metal scene.
Best song of the album: Hellbreaker

8. Nervosa – Perpetual Chaos (REVIEW)
A deadly and thrashing lesson in perpetual chaos by four metalheads hailing from Brazil, Italy, Spain and Greece
Best song of the album: Time to Fight

9. Gojira – Fortitude (REVIEW)
Let’s all face up the world to the sound of the new masterpiece by one of the most dynamic bands of the current metal scene.
Best song of the album: Amazonia

10. Blaze Bayley – War Within Me (REVIEW)
The man who will live for a thousand years is back, inspiring us all to fight the war within us and to take our future in our own hands.
Best song of the album: Pull Yourself Up

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Running Wild – Blood on Blood (REVIEW)
12. Lordi – Lordiversity (REVIEW)
13. Cradle of Filth – Existence Is Futile (REVIEW)
14. Diabolizer – Khalkedonian Death (REVIEW)
15. Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida (REVIEW)
16. Moonspell – Hermitage (REVIEW)
17. Lutharo – Hiraeth (REVIEW)
18. Unflesh – Inhumation (REVIEW)
19. Scarlet Aura – Genesis of Time (REVIEW)
20. Coiled Around Thy Spine – From The Ashes (REVIEW)

In addition to all that, let’s bang our heads with our Top 10 EP’s of 2021 to prove once and for all that not all great albums of the year have to be so long. The EP’s from this list are simply awesome, showcasing the band’s talent and their ability to sound epic even if the music lasts for only a few minutes.

1. Eonian – The Nomad (REVIEW)
2. Lady Beast – Omens (REVIEW)
3. The Agonist – Days Before the World Wept (REVIEW)
4. Tantivy – Eyes in the Night (REVIEW)
5. Grale – AGITACIÓN (REVIEW)
6. Bouquet of Dead Crows – Hemispheres Part 2: Cerebral (REVIEW)
7. Kadavereich – Radiance Of Doom (REVIEW)
8. Wolvencrown – A Shadow Of What Once Was (REVIEW)
9. Juliet Ruin – Dark Water (REVIEW)
10. Black Hole Deity – Lair Of Xenolich (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2021? Also, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC+2 on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show! And if you lost some or most of our special editions of The Headbanging Moose Show, including our Top 20 Underground Albums of 2021 – Parts I and II, go to our Mixcloud page and there you have hours and hours of the best of the independent scene, sounds good?

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2022!

And before I go, I’ll leave you with some touching words by Mr. Lordi and his crew of monsters…

Something something blah blah to you
All the sincere wishes come true
I put vengeance on my wish list
And that’s what Santa brought
So have a merry something and a happy blah blah blah

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 – Häxkapell / Eldhymner (2021)

Let your soul burn to the debut album by this Swedish Black Metal beast, examining, contemplating and utilizing the concept of fire as a source of power, a destroyer and a bringer of life.

“The longest journey is the journey inwards…”

Founded in 2015 by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Oraklet in the city of Haparanda, a locality and the seat of Haparanda Municipality in Norrbotten County, Sweden, a caustic Black Metal entity that goes by the name of Häxkapell (which means “witch chapel” or “chapel of witchery” from Swedish) is set to release its first full-length opus, titled Eldhymner (or “fire hymns”), an album which examines, contemplates and utilizes the concept of fire as a source of power, a destroyer and a bringer of life. Mastered by T. Stjerna at NBS Studio, and featuring session musicians JM on drums and IPU on the violin, Eldhymner conveys sheer, unadulterated veneration for classic Swedish Black Metal of all kinds, being recommended for admirers of the extreme music blasted by bands the likes of Covenant, Naglfar, Marduk, Emperor and Dissection, among several others.

Ominous sounds permeate the air in the epic intro Kallet (“the call”), inviting us to the Stygian realm ruled by Häxkapell before they take our minds by storm with Tomhetens Lågor (“the flames of emptiness”), with JM dictating the song’s imposing pace while Oraklet roars with tons of anger in his damned heart, resulting in an old school Black Metal composition with some very welcome elements from Atmospheric Black Metal added to its core essence. And this venomous Swedish entity blasts another fulminating Black Metal tune titled Eldskapt (“created by fire”), living up to the legacy of bands like Marduk and Immortal, while Oraklet is utterly infernal with his growls and riffs accompanied by the demonic beats by JM, all spiced up by the crying violin by IPU; flowing into the phantasmagorical Askans Drottning (“the queen of ashes”), where they continue to haunt our souls with their infernal sounds. Moreover, JM is once again bestial behind his drum set, providing Oraklet all he needs to shine with his demonic screams.

Ur Malströmmens Famn (“from the embrace of the maelstrom”) is absolutely demolishing from the very first second, a lecture in Black Metal by Oraklet and his henchmen that will penetrate deep inside your skin and burn your veins and muscles mercilessly. Not only that, Oraklet’s riffage couldn’t have sounded more Black Metal than this, not to mention the song’s cryptic background voices. Then investing into a more cadenced sonority it’s time for a Melodic Black Metal tune titled Solraviner (“sun ravines”), full of breaks and variations supported by the cinematic keys by Oraklet, followed by Häxkapellet (“the witch chapel”), where once again Oraklet vociferates rabidly accompanied by the headbanging drums by JM in a lesson in contemporary Black Metal, evolving into a beyond heavy and crushing extravaganza. In other words, it’s over eight minutes of dark and caustic sounds for our total delight, until the band embraces us all with the ethereal outro Sanningen (“the truth”), where the violin by IPU will finally bring peace to our blackened hearts.

An eternal furnace of chaos breeding that which lies beyond, forever tempting the embers of life with the flames of everlasting silence, fire will always be a pivotal element in our society, representing at the same time life and death, darkness and light, and in Eldhymner the talented Oraklet was capable of transforming that scorching nature of fire into first-class Black Metal, helping to pave the band’s path to stardom in the underground community. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to Häxkapell by following the project on Facebook, and more important than that, by purchasing a copy of Eldhymner from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Nordvis Produktion’s webstore in CD or LP format, or click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album. And let the fires of Swedish Black Metal burn bright for centuries to come to the sound of amazing bands like Häxkapell.

Best moments of the album: Eldskapt, Ur Malströmmens Famn and Häxkapellet.

Worst moments of the album: Solraviner.

Released in 2021 Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. Kallet 2:20
2. Tomhetens Lågor 5:51
3. Eldskapt 6:50
4. Askans Drottning 4:46
5. Ur Malströmmens Famn 4:05
6. Solraviner 5:40
7. Häxkapellet 8:31
8. Sanningen 2:18

Band members
Oraklet – vocals, guitar, keyboards

Guest musicians
JM – drums (session)
IPU – violin (session)

Album Review – Antim Sanskar / Antim Sanskar (2021)

An international outfit formed of members from India, Austria and the UK is ready to bring doom to us all with their heavy and dense new album.

What started back in 2019 as a one-man project evolved into an international three-headed beast part Indian, part Austrian and part British that’s ready to crush your damned souls with their undisputed extreme music. I’m talking about Antim Sanskar (referring to the funeral rites in Sikhism, as antim means “final” while sanskar means “rite”), an Atmospheric Doom and Black Metal entity comprised of Sunay Bhat on vocals, Riccardo Veronese on rhythm and lead guitars, and Desderoth on bass, keyboards and drums, who has just released their debut full-length self-titled album. Recorded, mixed and mastered by C.P.P at W.I.E Studio, featuring a minimalist cover art by Sunay Bhat himself, and band logo design and commissioned art design by Dandi Iskander, the album consists of seven tracks embedded with skull-crushing riffs, painful melodies and heartfelt lyrics presented with a blend of clean vocals and harsh growls, dealing with somber themes such as depression, loss, regret and death and, therefore, being highly recommended for admirers of the darkest and most melancholic side of doom.

The cryptic piano notes by Desderoth in the intro Funeral Without Goodbyes will penetrate deep inside your mind before gentle acoustic guitars kick off The Feral Child, earlier released as “Asylum” for Sunay’s solo project Window of Doom. The song has been completely reworked and rereleased, resulting in almost 10 minutes of melancholic Doom Metal presenting deep, visceral gnarls by Sunay beautifully supported by the sluggish beats and ethereal keys by Desderoth, as well as elements from Funeral Doom to make things even more obscure. Changing gears to a more introspective and melodic vibe, Embers of the Ancient Flame offers the listener Sunay’s dark, clean vocals accompanied by the classic piano by Desderoth, evolving into a Melodic Doom Metal extravaganza spiced up by the stunning guitar lines and solos by Riccardo.

Then in the cinematic, instrumental Interlude the music blends majestically with the sound of the storm and the Gregorian chants in the background, setting the tone for Window of Doom, showcasing darkly poetic lyrics declaimed by Sunay (“In her withered bosom / She held a bed of thorns / Yearning to fall asleep, / Lay there forever / Allow the time to fade / Slip into eternal darkness / The only friend she knew / To sink in grief”) while the music offers a fusion of classic Doom Metal and Funeral Doom thanks to the spot-on beats and guitars by Desderoth and Riccardo, respectively. After such intense aria, phantasmagorical keys will crawl under your skin in DRC, exploding into a massive Doom Metal sonority where Riccardo is on fire with his wicked riffs, sounding very unique and disturbing from start to finish; and last but not least, it’s time for the trio to deliver a more infernal version of their doomed sounds in Die, Decay, Disintegrate, with Sunay roaring in a deeper and more demonic way while the guitars by Riccardo sound utterly metallic.

In case you’re curious to see how the collaboration between India, Austria and the UK resulted in first-class Atmospheric Doom and Black Metal, you can enjoy the album in its entirety on YouTube, but of course in order to provide your utmost support to the guys from Antim Sanskar go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on Instagram, and purchase a copy of their newborn opus from their own BandCamp page (and don’t forget to visit their online merch store as there’s a lot of cool stuff there waiting for you). In a nutshell, the music crafted by Sunay, Riccardo and Desderoth in Antim Sanskar is truly unique and captivating, proving once again that good metal music has no boundaries, and leaving us eager for the next step in their short career in our world of death and doom.

Best moments of the album: The Feral Child and Window of Doom.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Funeral Without Goodbyes 2:56
2. The Feral Child 9:51
3. Embers of the Ancient Flame 7:49
4. Interlude 2:48
5. Window of Doom 8:12
6. DRC 6:01
7. Die, Decay, Disintegrate 4:54

Band members
Sunay Bhat – vocals
Riccardo Veronese – rhythm and lead guitars
Desderoth – bass, keyboards, drums

Album Review – Skverna Liniya / In a Garland of Wax (2021)

Behold the debut full-length album by this uncanny Russian Progressive and Atmospheric Black Metal entity, representing the breakdown of the worldview, spiritual torments and the path of self-destruction.

Forged in the fires of Voronezh, a city on the Voronezh River in southwestern Russia, Progressive/Atmospheric Black Metal entity Skverna Liniya (or Скверна Линия, which translates from Russian as something like “dirty line”) is set to unleash upon humanity their debut full-length album In a Garland of Wax (or В венке из воска), following up on their 2020 EP Snowfall. Mixed and mastered by Mikhail Kurochkin and displaying a stylish artwork by innersys32, In a Garland of Wax is based on the lyrics of Boris Poplavsky (1903-1935), a Russian poet in exile whose work was focused on the soul’s withering and searching in a hostile environment, loneliness and fear in coming into contact with reality. Representing the breakdown of the worldview, spiritual torments and the path of self-destruction, the album is a must-listen for all admirers of atmospheric and extreme music, carefully brought into being by multi-instrumentalists Sergey Chirkov and Andrey Pospelov supported by guest musicians Roman Graver on harsh vocals, Konstantin Bers on clean vocals and Ivan Salo on drums.

The Rustle of Smoldering Life (Шорох тлеющей жизни) sounds and feels atmospheric and enfolding from the very first note, with Ivan and Roman kicking some ass with their respective beats and roars, therefore providing Sergey and Andrey all they need to thrive with their riffage (not to mention the song’s ethereal finale), whereas How Cold It Is. The Empty Soul Keeps Silence… (Как холодно. Молчит душа пустая…) already begins in full force with Roman screaming rabidly nonstop while the strident, piercing riffs by the band’s guitar duo add a touch of progressiveness to the music, resulting in a modern-day Black Metal extravaganza spiced up by the phantasmagorical clean vocals by Konstantin. Then get ready for over seven minutes of first-class Atmospheric Black Metal made in Russia in Green Horror (Зеленый ужас), showcasing a somber ambience to the sound of the crisp guitars by Sergey and Andrey while Roman roars manically for our total delight. The Sunset Blazed O’er The Madhouse… (Пылал закат над сумасшедшим домом…) brings forward sheer devastation and progressiveness, with Ivan sounding infuriated behind his drums accompanied by the thunderous bass punches by Sergey, flowing into an instrumental and utterly atmospheric Interlude (Интерлюдия) that will captivate our senses before the band crushes our souls one last time with the instrumental aria titled In Forgotten Wide Spaces (На забытых просторах), where the keys by Sergey bring a touch of finesse to their Doom Metal-infused sonority.

If you want to know more about this up-and-coming entity hailing from Mother Russia, go check what they’re up to on their official Facebook page, and of course don’t forget to also show your utmost support to the Russian underground by purchasing your copy of In a Garland of Wax from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Beverina Productions’ BandCamp page, from the Casus Belli Musica’s BandCamp page, or from the BMC Productions’ BandCamp page. And after putting your hands on such dense and enfolding album of extreme music, get ready to be dragged into the Stygian realms ruled by Skverna Liniya for all eternity, and have your soul consumed by darkness while you follow this musical one-way path to self-destruction.

Best moments of the album: The Rustle of Smoldering Life and The Sunset Blazed O’er The Madhouse…

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Casus Belli Musica/Beverina Productions

Track listing
1. The Rustle of Smoldering Life (Шорох тлеющей жизни) 6:14
2. How Cold It Is. The Empty Soul Keeps Silence… (Как холодно. Молчит душа пустая…) 4:22
3. Green Horror (Зеленый ужас) 7:30
4. The Sunset Blazed O’er The Madhouse… (Пылал закат над сумасшедшим домом…) 5:55
5. Interlude (Интерлюдия) 2:03
6. In Forgotten Wide Spaces (На забытых просторах) 8:17

Band members
Sergey Chirkov – guitars, bass, keys
Andrey Pospelov – guitars, additional bass on “The Rustle of Smoldering Life”

Guest musicians
Roman Graver – harsh vocals
Konstantin Bers – clean vocals
Ivan Salo – drums

Album Review – Sepulchre by the Sea / Ratiocination EP (2021)

Bristol, UK’s own Atmospheric Black Metal one-man army returns with a classy new EP inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s famous Ratiocinations detective stories.

3.0rating

sepulchre-by-the-sea-ratiocination-ep-2021Less than one year after the release of the full-length opus Conqueror Worm, the talented Bristol, UK-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ashley Shannon and his Atmospheric Black Metal alter-ego Sepulchre by the Sea are back in action with a brand new EP, entitled Ratiocinations. Recorded during the winter lockdown and inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s famous Ratiocinations detective stories, this 26-minute EP brings to our avid ears another round of the dense, dark and absolutely captivating sound carefully crafted by Ash, keeping the gears of Sepulchre by the Sea turning smoothly and providing us a very good indication of the path that the project will follow with its upcoming releases.

A cinematic intro warms up the listener for the darkness that’s about to explode in Ghost of the Departed, with Ash screaming like a demonic entity nonstop while he extracts razor-edged riffs from his guitar at the same time. Put differently, this is classic Atmospheric Back Metal made in the UK, flowing smoothly until its Stygian finale; and Ash fires another dense and incendiary tune titled Beast Made Flesh, presenting elements of Scandinavian Black Metal added to its core. Moreover, Ash is simply on fire with his blast beats, mayhemic riffage and infernal growling, resulting in a more obscure and heavier sound than in the opening track. Lastly, get ready for 12 minutes of undisputed Atmospheric Black Metal in the form of the title-track Ratiocinations, with a gentle intro morphing into a demented feast of blast beats and sick guitar lines by Ash. It’s by far one of his strongest and most detailed creations to date, a multi-layered aria of darkness sounding like three or four songs in one due to all of its unique passages, breaks and variations, therefore putting a climatic ending to the EP.

sepulchre-by-the-sea-logo-2021Ash and his Sepulchre by the Sea are waiting for you on Facebook and on Instagram (and I’m sure he’ll love to hear what you have to say about his music), and don’t forget to also stream all of his first-class creations on Spotify and, above all that, to purchase Ratiocinations from his own BandCamp page or by clicking HERE. It’s always a pleasure seeing different bands and projects drawing inspiration from such important writers and poets the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, and in the case of Ash and Sepulchre by the Sea we can already say it’s getting harder and harder to identify if it’s a metal band inspired by Poe’s undisputed work or if it’s Poe’s poetry turned into top-of-the-line metal music, proving how talented Ash is and, consequently, leaving us eager for another round of his atmospheric creations in the near future.

Best moments of the album: Ratiocinations.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing   
1. Ghost of the Departed 8:24
2. Beast Made Flesh 5:45
3. Ratiocinations 12:00

Band members
Ashley Shannon – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Nordicwinter / Sorrow (2021)

An unstoppable one-man army from Canada examines the darker side of the human condition in his beautiful new album of Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal.

3.5rating

nordicwinter-sorrow-2021After a lengthy hiatus, Quebec, Canada-based Atmospheric Depressive Black Metal one-man horde Nordicwinter came back in a big way in 2020, releasing two new full-length albums (Requiem and Desolation) and showing no sign of slowing down as the project hits us once again with a new full-length album, entitled Sorrow, released amidst the dead of winter. Produced and engineered by the Nordicwinter’s mastermind Evillair (aka Yves Allaire, who’s also responsible for all vocals, all instruments, drum programming, production, engineering, songwriting and lyrics), recorded, mixed an mastered at Dirgevows Studios, and featuring a somber cover image by Melissa Parker, Sorrow examines the darker side of the human condition through somber and melancholic music sticking at a mostly mid-tempo pace, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the music by bands the likes of Xasthur, Austere, NONE and Nocturnal Depression.

And Evillair begins his atmospheric and melancholic journey with Somber Winds of Despair (Part I), showcasing enfolding guitars and a dark vibe, exploding into top-of-the-line Atmospheric Black Metal with the anguished roars by our one-man army penetrating deep inside your soul; whereas beauty and melancholy flow from Evillair’s words (“I see your cold corpse / Laying upon the crimson leaves / I hear the lost song / Whispered by the dismal breeze”) in Sullen Echoes, while the music offers our ears a sinister fusion of Blackened Doom and Atmospheric Black Metal. Then more of his Stygian sounds invade our ears in In This Darkness…, where his incendiary, classic Black Metal riffs will burn your skin mercilessly in paradox with the song’s bitterly cold background, not to mention his gnarls get more and more demonic as the music progresses.

This Mournful Dirge brings to our ears another round of his dark poetry (“In dismal veils of snow / I fade into this tomb / As fading memories / Whisper eternal gloom”) amidst a somber atmosphere in a great display of Depressive Black Metal, followed by Dying Winters, where a beyond embracing start will drag you into the cold lands ruled by Nordicwinter and with Evillair doing a great job with both his growls and riffs, all spiced up by the programmed drums (which sound truly organic, by the way). And what kicked off such intense album is completed with Somber Winds of Despair (Part II), again showcasing sharp but at the same time delicate guitars, venomous, introspective vocals, and a sense of hopelessness permeating the air until the very last second. In other words, a simply stunning creation by Evillair and his Nordicwinter, ending in a more than hypnotizing way and flowing into Enshrined by Solitude, a funereal, depressive outro that will darken your thoughts as the storm gets closer and closer.

nordicwinter-evillair-2021You can easily join Evillair and his Nordicwinter by streaming Sorrow in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, savoring every second of its over 50 minutes of solitude and introspectiveness, but don’t forget to also follow the project on Facebook and on Instagram for news and other nice-to-know details about this lone wolf of the Great White North, and above all that, to purchase a copy of the album from the project’s own BandCamp page, from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (as a regular CD or as a very special bundle), from Apple Music or from Amazon. In a nutshell, Evillair more than succeeded in providing us his view of the darker side of the human condition through his music, leaving us eager for more of his stunning Black Metal in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: In This Darkness… and Somber Winds of Despair (Part II).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing  
1. Somber Winds of Despair (Part I) 7:27
2. Sullen Echoes 9:20
3. In This Darkness… 7:28
4. This Mournful Dirge 8:43
5. Dying Winters 9:36
6. Somber Winds of Despair (Part II) 8:11
7. Enshrined by Solitude 2:39

Band members
Evillair – vocals, all instruments, drum programming

Metal Chick of the Month – Lilita Arndt

lilita01

Eternal darkness is covering my eyes and penetrating me…

Dark skies are over us all once again here on The Headbanging Moose thanks to the raw and visceral Black Metal crafted by a multi-talented woman who will undoubtedly blacken our hearts even more. Hailing from Rivne, a historic city in western Ukraine located over 300 kilometers to the west of the country’s capital Kiev, she’s not only an amazing Extreme Metal vocalist, but she also plays all instruments including lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, bass and drums for her stunning one-woman Occult and Depressive Black Metal project entitled Ieschure. Her poetic name, Lilita Arndt, adds an extra touch of beauty to her unique creations, and you’ll be more than pleased with her music, her view of Black Metal and how she incorporates all her influences into each one of her songs.

Lilita’s interest in writing and playing music began at a very early stage of her childhood, when she started to write lyrics and later tried to create simple melodies for them on her acoustic guitar, which by the way was her very first instrument, then learning how to play keyboards (followed by all other instruments she currently knows), all self-taught and never having any sort of formal or structured music lessons with anyone. After taking part in different projects as a singer, including an old acoustic project called Embrace of Hedera from 2007 until 2015 which played melancholic, dark and romantic music with acoustic guitars and clean female vocals (and with whom she recorded the album The Castle On The Rolling Hills in 2015), Lilita wanted to explore new territories by creating her own music with her own melodies, lyrics, singing and atmosphere, being the mastermind of her own project and experimenting with melodies and vocals, the main reason why she decided to found her own solo project Ieschure back in 2015.

A word chosen by Lilita after the whole album The Shadow was finished in 2017, Ieschure has the project’s name related to occult things and the meaning of this word is really important for her, although our multi-talented musician prefers it to be known only by herself. Dealing with classic Black Metal lyrical themes such as occultism, witchcraft and death, and using a serpent as her symbol (more specifically as a primitive symbol of power and wisdom but at the same time representing death and damnation), this one-woman Black Metal force has already released an array of bold, captivating albums since the project’s inception in 2015, those being the aforementioned full-length opus The Shadow, in 2017, the EP’s Cold Stars of Eternity and Phantoms of God, in 2020, and more recently the split album Witch’s Consecration, now in 2021, with Brazilian Black Metal horde Promethean Gate. If you want to have a very good taste of how breathtaking the music by Ieschure is, you can enjoy some awesome songs online such as Eternal Agony, Mystic Schizophrenia and Phantoms Of God, or simply go to BandCamp, to Big Cartel and to Spotify (or click HERE) to stream and purchase all of her wicked creations.

Not only the woman responsible for all vocals and instruments in all of Ieschure releases, Lilita also handles all recording, mixing, mastering, lyrics and layout of the albums, which is absolutely in line with her initial dream of having a project of her own. In addition, Lilita has also collaborated in several albums from other bands, with the most memorable for her to date being singing with the bands Detention and Restless. For instance, she recorded vocals for the songs Nidhogg (from the album Lost Souls in a Godless World) and Wolf’s Head (from the album The Battle of Tara) by American Doom/Stoner/Southern Metal band Black Mountain Thunder, both in 2015; vocals for the song The Face of God, from the 2015 self-titled album by American Stoner/Doom Metal band Clawhammer; vocals on the 2014 album Marginal, by Kazakh Depressive Metal band Detention; vocals on the song Rurel, from the 2018 self-titled EP by Italian Black/Folk Metal band Dovrefjell; backing vocals on the songs Spiritueller Selbstmord, from the 2014 album Verwüstung, and Wenn Die Sterne Nicht Mehr Scheinen, from the 2014 EP Horizont, by Ukrainian Black Metal/Ambient band Moloch; vocals on the 2017 album Funeral Impressions, by Italian Funeral Doom Metal band Restless; and vocals on the song Bride of Winter, from the 2016 album Forgotten Tales, by Italian Black Metal band Waldweg; not to mention the cover art for the 2019 EP The Wanderer, by Tuskish Atmospheric Black Metal band Akrunant.

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Regarding her first experiences with Heavy and Black Metal, Lilita mentioned in one of her interviews that she began listening to popular metal bands when she was a teenager, becoming more and more interested in the underground and, consequently, getting attracted to the world of Black Metal. In her opinion, Black Metal is not just a music style, but a dark side of art, an irrational fusion of music, theatre and philosophy, full of paradoxes and concentrating the strongest emotions, hatred and some perverted love to life, which is the main reason why she considers it perfect. She complemented by saying that she has felt the presence of hidden forces in the world since she was a little child, gradually getting more interested in those and in occultism, also saying that realizing that she will die some day was what truly attracted her to that. Apart from drawing inspiration from the works of renowned occultists the likes of Aleister Crowley, Eliphas Levi, Stanislas de Guaita and George Gurdjieff, she also enjoys reading and studying about her work as a designer, all forms of art, mythology, psychology, history, travelling and everything that can give her new knowledge about the world. And in terms of what inspires the music by Ieschure the most, she mentioned Black Metal behemoths such as early Urfaust, Behexen, Rotting Christ, My Dying Bride, Opeth and, above all, Burzum, as his music embodies the ideas of misanthropy and loneliness in the best way imaginable according to our sinister diva.

When asked about her vocal style and technique, Lilita said that her screaming vocals were influenced by classic Black Metal bands, whereas for clean vocals she gets her inspiration from non-Black Metal music, as for example Julie Christmas, her favorite female singer of bands like Battle Of Mice and Made Out of Babies, and Free Dominguez, of Kidneythieves. In addition, regarding her songwriting process, Lilita said the first thing she does is many improvisations on the guitar at her home studio, recording various ideas, listening to them again at a later stage, and if she finds any of those ideas interesting enough she rerecords them to include all other instruments. Also, she complemented by saying most of her time in that process is taken by the lyrics writing process, as she can rewrite those many times and do various vocal improvisations to find the best version, finally rerecording everything.

As a true admirer of the underground, in special the first wave of Black Metal bands, their sound and atmosphere, as well as old Doom Metal, Lilita also said that although she doesn’t listen to a lot of bands from the Black Metal scene in her homeland Ukraine she knows there are several bands and projects in the country who create true underground music, always prioritizing the music instead of fame or money. However, she said she cannot compare herself to any of those bands, as she tries to go her own way with her own opinion about music. In addition, she also mentioned in one of her interviews that she doesn’t usually attend concerts, as for her personally the best way to listen to music is to listen to it in her headphones.

Lastly, when questioned if one day Ieschure will become a full-bodied group with other members joining her, Lilita said that, although she’s always open to change, she doesn’t think that’s a possibility for now. Furthermore, she mentioned that if one day she finds that a good alternative for embodying her ideas she will definitely try working with other musicians, as long as of course they’re sincerely interested in music and follow similar or the same ideas as hers. In the end, it doesn’t matter if she continues to create music as a lone she-wolf or if she finds the perfect lineup for Ieschure, our beloved metal witch will keep experimenting with melodies and vocal styles while always keeping an evil Black Metal atmosphere in the background, playing raw and devilish sounds for our total delectation in the name of darkness, death and the occult.

Ieschure’s Official Facebook page
Ieschure’s Official Instagram
Ieschure’s Official Twitter
Ieschure’s Official YouTube channel

“For me black metal is really a dark side of Art. It’s not just a music style. Mixture of music, theatre and philosophy, more irrational than other music styles, full of paradoxes, concentrating the strongest emotions, hatred and some perverted love to life. That is why it is perfect.” – Lilita Arndt