Album Review – Am Himmel / As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow (2022)

An ecclesiastical nightmare formed by emanations from the metaphysical voids trapped in the eternal light arises to the sound of its debut effort of unearthly Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal.

“As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit…”

An ecclesiastical nightmare formed by emanations from the metaphysical voids trapped in the eternal light, Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal entity Am Himmel, which translates as “in the sky” from German, is the new solo project from vocalist and multi-instrumentalist JMKP, an old soul from the Netherlands whose inspiration lies between doomy synth-based Drone, raw Black Metal and Shoegaze, channeling ancient and metaphysical energies through the combination of eerie soundscapes with raw and buzzing extreme music in his newborn beast entitled As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow. There’s a sinister and unearthly atmosphere surrounding the whole record, not just from the devilish growls and shrieks, but also from the hypnotic mystical synth layers, being therefore highly recommended for admirers of the music by Urfaust, Lurker of Chalice and Xasthur, among other servants of darkness.

Bleared By The Infinite Wings is darkly noisy from the very first second, inviting us all to the ethereal world of Am Himmel by blending the melancholy of Atmospheric Black Metal with the obscurity of Doom Metal. Moreover, JMKP does an amazing job with both his sluggish beats and anguished gnarls, and continuing his path of darkness it’s time for The Patience And Silence Of A Saint’s Death, even more somber than its predecessor with our lone wolf’s devilish roars penetrating deep inside your mind in a lecture in Atmospheric Black Metal. Then get ready for over seven minutes of whimsical passages, slow and steady beats and cryptic vociferations in the form of The Virgin Wages Celestial War In The Seraphim Courts, flowing smoothly until the very last second thanks to the piercing riffage by the project’s mastermind; whereas adding elements from Drone and Ambient music to his core sonority JMKP offers us all the visceral The Fumes Of Thy Preposterous Torment, where all background elements match perfectly with his demented gnarling and vile beats, resulting in first-class extreme music. Once again bring to our ears sheer obscurity and despair, JMKP will drag you to his Stygian lair to the sound of his hypnotizing drums and screaming guitars in The Bewildered Firstling Thrusts The Knife Into Her Brother; and lastly, our multi-talented Dutch metaller brings forward another round of wicked, venomous sounds in the title-track As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow, a song which not only concludes the album on a high note, but that will also please at the same time fans of old school Black Metal and admirers of modern-day Atmospheric Metal hands down.

If you want to put your doomed hands on As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow, you can soon purchase it directly from Am Himmel’s own BandCamp page, as well as from the Burning World Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (for the US or the rest of the world customers). A starless kingdom bereft of celestial pureness, evoking strange rituals in the gothic catacombs of Christianity and insanity, Am Himmel will certainly change your view of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal for the better, with As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow beautifully representing everything JMKP and his new project stand for and, consequently, positioning it not only as one of the most promising names of the Dutch scene, but also as one of the driving forces of the genre worldwide.

Best moments of the album: The Patience And Silence Of A Saint’s Death and The Fumes Of Thy Preposterous Torment.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Burning World Records

Track listing
1. Bleared By The Infinite Wings 6:56
2. The Patience And Silence Of A Saint’s Death 5:12
3. The Virgin Wages Celestial War In The Seraphim Courts 7:22
4. The Fumes Of Thy Preposterous Torment 6:31
5. The Bewildered Firstling Thrusts The Knife Into Her Brother 6:25
6. As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow 5:23

Band members
JMKP – vocals, all instruments

Metal Chick of the Month – Kristina Vega

Save me, for the punishment of my head…

Let’s turn up the heat here at The Headbanging Moose in this month of June and properly kick off the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere with a metal lady that will absolutely stun you with her powerful vocals and onstage presence. A metal singer and vocal coach known for her work with bands the likes of Born In Exile, SerapiS, and Cobra Spell, she has a fantastic vocal range that allows her to sing not only metal but pretty much any music style, which explains why she’s becoming more and more famous, respected and admired in the current music scene. I’m talking about the multi-talented Kristina Vega, also known as Kris Vega, carrying the flag of Catalan metal wherever she goes armed with her fulminating voice. I bet you’re eager to know more about such skillful musician as much as Kris is waiting for you to join her in her quest for heavy music.

Born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, Kris had her first contact with metal music when she was only eight years old, more specifically a Rammstein song which she has tattooed on her arm (which we’ll talk about shortly). When she was 16 she had a band called MOTH (which didn’t last for too long according to Kris herself), she also spent five years with a Japanese music group where she used to write music and do the guttural vocals, then three more years with a Blues band, and another metal group called Lunes 12. However, Kris had to take a break from music for a while, getting back in action in the metal scene after seeing an ad asking for a vocalist for a local band. It didn’t take long for Born In Exile to take its desired shape and form, catapulting our diva to stardom right after the band’s first release. Furthermore, growing up in the golden years of Nu Metal helped her to detect all her registers, to play with different techniques of singing and to find her way as a vocalist, having also thoroughly studied how harsh vocals, textured voice and hyper-compression techniques work in order to reach different types of sound. A formed vocal coach by Rodrigo Llamazares at Vocal Studio (a specialist in vocal coaching for teachers), she actually started studying electric bass at the age of 14, and two years later she recorded her first album as a bass player and a guttural vocalist.

Formed in 2012 in Barcelona by drummer JuanMa Ávila and guitarists Carlos Castillo and Rodrigo Baez (all from the band Corelyn) with the goal of creating a project with progressive influences inside Heavy Metal that would please fans of bands the likes of Symphony X, Opeth, Dream Theater, Rush, Myrath, Leprous and Circus Maximus, among others, the unstoppable Melodic Progressive Metal outfit known as Born In Exile has been on a roll since its inception, all of course multiplied by one thousand after Kris joined the band in August 2015 with her melodic, raspy and soaring vocals, having recorded with the band their debut opus Drizzle of Cosmos, in 2017, which by the way led the band to play at Barcelona Rock Fest in 2018, their sophomore album Transcendence, in 2020, and an EP titled Live at Vampire Fest, in 2021. Kris mentioned in one of her interviews that she recorded a cover version for Queen’s “The Show Must go On” as a reply to the band’s ad where they were searching for a new vocalist, followed by a short meeting with JuanMa and Carlos, and both were absolutely mesmerized by her vocals, which you can enjoy in all its glory in songs such as Fields On Fire, The Lighthouse of the Haunted Keeper, Enchantress, One More Line, Ziggurat, Revenant and Torch.

Apart from her career with Born In Exile, our talented diva can also be seen blasting her unparalleled vocals with the bands Cobra Spell, Uneven Frame and SerapiS, as aforementioned. As a matter of fact, Kris has just started her stint with Cobra Spell, the Dutch Heavy Metal/Hard Rock outfit led by guitarist Sonia Anubis (Burning Witches, Crypta), having replaced the band’s original vocalist Alexx Panza about a month ago, and although she hasn’t recorded anything in the studio yet with the band you can already enjoy her visceral vocals with Cobra Spell on the road, as she’s now touring with the band despite the extremely short time to rehearse with them. It’s not clear if Barcelona-based Nu Metal project Uneven Frame is still active as there are no news from the band since 2020, but it would definitely be interesting to see what Kris can do in a more alternative style (and you can take a listen at their demos on their YouTube channel); and regarding Progressive Metal project SerapiS, recently formed by Kris together with guitarist Joaco Luís (Mollitiam, Born In Exile), you can enjoy the band’s first three singles on Spotify, or go to YouTube to be stunned by Act I: Defiance, Act II: Dissidence, and Act III: Wistfulness, pointing to a very interesting future ahead of them.

Our multi-talented Kris can also be seen as a guest vocalist for the songs Our Demise, from the 2021 album The Harbour in Me, by Spanish Symphonic Power Metal act Embersland, and The Breathless Season Bane, from the 2021 album Portraits, by Spanish Atmospheric Black Metal horde Perennial Isolation; and as a metal vocal coach at the Metal Academy School of Music, the first school completely devoted to Heavy Metal and Hard Rock founded in 2017 in Barcelona, and as a voice actress for The Monster Factory, a Montreal, Canada-based company specialized in the conception of voices for monsters, zombies, aliens and many more creatures in the video game and film industries provided by metal vocalists the likes of our unstoppable diva.

Highly influenced by a wide variety of styles, from bands like Tool, Arch Enemy, Opeth, Leprous, Slipknot and Jinjer to vocalists like Freddie Mercury and Mónica Naranjo, Kris has already performed in over 500 concerts, singing not only Heavy Metal and Hard rock, but also Blues, Soul, Death, Progressive and Experimental Metal, proving not only how skillful she is, but also how experienced she already is in the music industry. As mentioned, having listened to her first metal song at the young age of eight, more specifically the song Klavier, from the album Sehnchust by Rammstein, thanks to the father of one of her neighbours, Kris quickly moved on to other bands and artists such as Linkin Park, Slipknot, Machine Head, System of a Down, Otep and Arch Enemy, being right now a huge fan of Jinjer, In This Moment, Gojira, Opeth, Devin Townsend, Myrath and Twelve Foot Ninja. When asked if she listens to any bands that she considers some sort of “guilty pleasure”, Kris mentioned Nino Bravo, from her childhood years, Azul y Negro, from her teens, and Evanescence, when she was in her 20’s. In addition, when questioned if she prefers Nightwish or Epica, she said she doesn’t really enjoy their voices, being a much bigger fan of stronger vocals the likes of Jinjer and Battle Beast.

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An avid reader of everything surrounding the voice anatomy, Kris is also writing a book to help singers who are just starting their careers and trying to find their own voice, focusing on all obstacles a vocalist might find along the way as for example not being told what’s working and what’s not, which by the way happened to her in the beginning of her career. She believes anyone can sing as long as it represents your own voice and delivers the desired message, always working not only her students’ voices but also their fears, their landscapes and so on, trying to transfer as much courage and strength to all of them during her classes.

It was right after the release of Drizzle of Cosmos that Kris and her bandmates from Born In Exile began touring on a more professional level, having played in different countries and festivals, such as Barcelona Rock Fest. She mentioned that when the band received an email informing they were selected to open that festival she almost cried of pure joy, also saying their performance at the festival was one of the most memorable moments of her life so far. She mentioned in one of her interviews how difficult it is to perform onstage for a massive festival crowd, the importance of being mentally prepared, and the energy shared with the crowd. Still talking about touring, Kris said that she loves to play alongside renowned bands as everything feels a lot more professional, and that although organizing tours (especially outside of Spain) is a lot of work, all that effort is definitely worth it.

As a prominent woman in Heavy Metal, Kris commented on how she sees the role of women in the current metal scene and the type of treatment she receives from men. She mentioned that despite a few bad experiences and situations in her career, one of the most beautiful things in her life is the fact she’s extremely well treated by her bandmates, who support her in everything and the whole feminist movement. However, she believes women in metal should stop fighting against each other for different reasons and realize that they’re stronger when united, saying it’s important to stop thinking like a man and avoid at all costs using sexist words and expressions that are stuck inside our minds thanks to the way we’re taught those things by our society. Moreover, Kris also faced some criticism and sexism when she decided to move from her hairdresser job (which she had been doing since she was 15) to pursue her career in music. She used to listen to things such as being a vocalist or working with music doesn’t pay your bills, doesn’t put food on the table, that she should get a “real” job, and so on, but that didn’t stop her from becoming the awesome vocalist she is today.

Regarding the metal scene these days, she said she thinks the musical landscape is unfair, complaining about an empty venue for an excellent band that goes all the way from Australia to Spain, for example, which is frustrating for the musicians involved. In addition, she said she would like to encourage all bands to have more respect and companionship among themselves, and to see more support to local bands by inviting them to open for the foreign headliners, just like what happened to Born In Exile during Barcelona Rock Fest where the band might have played for only 30 minutes, but according to Kris herself it was good enough to show the crowd what they got. And to be honest, even if they had played for only five minutes that would have been more than enough for the metalheads at the festival to witness how amazing the music by Born In Exile is and how powerful Kris’ vocals are, always singing about love, pain, real-life experiences and other related topics, therefore adding an extra personal touch to her thrilling performance.

As aforementioned, Kris is an accomplished vocal coach, offering vocalists not only from Barcelona but from all around the world different options to work with her, including more basic, free courses through the Metal Academy School of Music, or intensive online and in-person courses (which you can get more details by contacting her by email), and she’s waiting for you to begin a very productive and fun partnership in the name of rock and metal music. By the way, you can also click HERE to check all of her official links where you can get to know more about Kris and her career. Lastly, in case you decide to take vocal classes with Kris and it starts to rain, that might be a very good sign, and the reason for that is quite funny. When she was asked about something curious that has already happened with Born In Exile, she said that every time the band is about to do something important, it rains, it doesn’t matter if it’s the recording of a new album, signing with a record label, playing at a famous venue, or anything else. In other words, let’s join the incendiary Kristina Vega in her quest for heavy music, and may the rain fall down on us for many decades to come together with such inspiring musician.

Kristina Vega’s Official Facebook page
Kristina Vega’s Official Instagram

Kristina Vega’s Official Twitter
Born In Exile’s Official Facebook page
Born In Exile’s Official Instagram
Born In Exile’s Official YouTube channel
Born In Exile’s Official Twitter

Album Review – Citadel / Remember Your Past (2022)

Let your darkest thoughts guide you to the sound of the debut album by a promising “Second Wave Orchestral Black Metal” band hailing from France.

A musical project which began two years ago at the initiative of a single man, Meddy Beaufils Motte, responsible for the guitars, keyboards and orchestrations, and joined a few weeks later by vocalist and guitarist Jeff Grimal, Bordeaux, France-based Symphonic and Atmospheric Black Metal act Citadel has just released their debut full-length effort, entitled Remember Your Past, a “Second Wave Orchestral Black Metal” feast highly influenced by bands the likes of Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Der Weg Einer Freiheit and Enslaved. Mixed and mastered by Mathis Delepierre, and displaying a sinister artwork by the band’s own Jeff Grimal, Remember Your Past offers the listener seven tracks which form the personal story of a character with a specific life path, ranging from the common murderer to the spiritual man, while mixing different universes (those being science fiction, fantasy and, of course, reality), therefore showcasing all the talent and passion for heavy music by the aforementioned Jeff and Meddy together with bassist Benoit Gateuil and drummer Léo Isnard.

A beyond cinematic and phantasmagorical Intro sets the stage for Citadel to crush our souls with I See You, where Léo begins his sonic attack armed with his devilish drums, providing Jeff with all he needs to gnarl like a creature form the abyss. In other words, it’s kick-ass old school Black Metal with atmospheric nuances, not to mention how sharp the riffage by Jeff and Meddy sounds. The Cradle of Filth-inspired keys by Meddy ignite the also infernal Look, Your Pathetic Attempts, an imposing composition by those French metallers that lives up to the legacy of primeval Black Metal, with Jeff being once again demonic on vocals, roaring deeply and with tons of hatred in his heart; whereas the rumbling bass by Benoit offers a solid support to the strident guitars by Jeff and Meddy in The Road, where Jeff sounds even more demented on vocals than before, consequently enhancing the song’s obscurity and madness in the name of Atmospheric Black Metal.

Your Choice is simply brutal and dense from the very first second thanks to the thunderous kitchen crafted by Benoit and Léo while Jeff keeps screaming with tons of anger, also showcasing orchestral passages and piercing guitars, followed by Resurection, where a serene, melancholic start suddenly evolves into an instrumental Black and Doom Metal aria led by the intricate beats by Léo (and all that progressiveness permeates the air until the very end). Then back to a more visceral and raw mode the quartet fires sheer insanity through their sonic weapons in You’re a Piece of Shit, with Léo and Benoit punching us in the head mercilessly while Jeff and Meddy bring forward their trademark razor-edged Black Metal riffs. Finally, before all is said and done, there’s time for Citadel to captivate our senses one last time with a sinister Outro, fading into the unknown for our total delight.

Such acid and obscure album made in France can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to add it to your personal, devilish collection you should purchase it by clicking HERE and selecting your favorite version of it. In addition, don’t forget to start following Citadel on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, showing all your support to French Black Metal. Remember Your Past is not just dark or evil, but a musical representation of all the talent that emanates form those four metallers, and of course the insanity and obscurity from the human mind. In other words, simply join Citadel in their quest for extreme music, and let your darkest thoughts guide you while enjoying the epic Black Metal blasted by the band throughout their infernal debut opus.

Best moments of the album: Look, Your Pathetic Attempts, The Road and You’re a Piece of Shit.

Worst moments of the album: Resurection.

Released in 2022 Cold Dark Matter Records/Duality Records/Enter the Void Records

Track listing
1. Intro 2:10
2. I See You 4:01
3. Look, Your Pathetic Attempts 4:59
4. The Road 7:44
5. Your Choice 6:11
6. Resurection 6:45
7. You’re a Piece of Shit 5:04
8. Outro 5:32

Band members
Jeff Grimal – vocals, guitars
Meddy Beaufils Motte – guitars, keyboards, orchestrations
Benoit Gateuil – bass
Léo Isnard – drums

Album Review – Notturno / Obsessions (2022)

A melancholic trip into the obsessive compulsions that take shape within our lives in the form of first-class Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal made in Italy.

Developing its atmosphere through lengthy songs with strong dynamics and pacing, keeping the listener lost in a reverie and crafting an immersive experience at once melancholic and infectious, the newborn Italian Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal project Notturno will take you on a melancholic trip into the obsessive compulsions that take shape within our lives, the psychological torment, and the scourge of madness that takes hold inside the ancient walls of the human psyche with their debut full-length opus entitled Obsessions, peering around the dark corners within all of us. The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Vittorio Sabelli (Dawn of a Dark Age, Suici.De.Pression), Notturno floats between Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal, Doom Metal and chamber music, sounding intimate and possessing a strong character highlighted by the unique and singular expressiveness of female vocalist Kjiel (Eyelessight) and organically driven drum work of Sven. Mixed and mastered by Stefan Traunmuller, and displaying a stylish artwork by Dario Ursino (featuring model Michela Suffritti), Obsessions offer the listener 36 minutes of an absolutely stunning Black Metal sound, pointing to a bright future ahead of such promising project.

The sluggish, somber beats by Sven kick off the first of the three tracks of the album, simply titled Fear, being gradually accompanied by the melancholic guitars and low-tuned bass by Vittorio while building a depressive and obscure atmosphere that will darken your heart and soul, all of course embraced by Kjiel’s smooth but anguished vocals. Furthermore, the guitar work by Vittorio is a thing of beauty, elevating the song’s intensity to a whole new level. Then more of the band’s Depressive Black Metal will invade our senses in Darkness, with Vittorio and Sven being in absolute sync with their respective riffage and slow and steady beats while Kjiel sounds even more perturbed and evil on vocals, adding an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result. And the last song of their triumvirate of darkness and depression, entitled Falling, brings forward Kjiel’s most anguished vocalizations accompanied by the minimalist and reverberating guitars by Vittorio in a lesson in Atmospheric Black Metal, with their despair, hatred and obscurity rising as the music progresses while also presenting elements from Progressive, Experimental and Doom Metal before ending in a beyond Stygian way.

If you want to know more about Vittorio Sabelli and his Notturno, you can find the project on Facebook for news and other details, and of course if you’re a true admirer of Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal with a beyond sinister aura you can purchase your copy of Obsessions as a very special bundle containing a digipack CD, a shirt printed on Gildan softstyle, a logo patch, a signed postcard, a magnet and a logo sticker, as well as a CD or in digital format. Italy has always been an amazing source of first-class Atmospheric Black Metal thanks to bands like Notturno, and may that darkness go on forevermore to the sound of classy and multi-layered albums like Obsessions. In other words, if this is just the first step in the career of Notturno, I can’t imagine what’s next for this newborn entity brought into being by the multi-talented Vittorio Sabelli.

Best moments of the album: Fear and Falling.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Fear 12:49
2. Darkness 9:06
3. Falling 14:55

Band members
Kjiel – vocals
Vittorio Sabelli – guitars, bass

Guest musician
Sven – drums

Album Review – Dusk / The Relic (2022)

Known for incorporating Atmospheric Black Metal into Hard Bass Industrial, this uncanny Costa Rican entity will darken your mind with their sophomore opus.

Known for incorporating Atmospheric Black Metal into Hard Bass Industrial, full of unrelenting, uncaring and pounding blast beats and inhuman growling vocals mixed with modern rhythms such as Darkstep and other electronic influences, Dusk are an Industrial Black Metal project formed as an official band in 2016 in San Jose, Costa Rica, highly influenced by the music by Borgne, Perturbator and Blut Aus Nord, just to name a few. Now in 2022 this uncanny entity is back with a new opus, entitled The Relic, their sophomore full-length album following up on their 2021 release The Hermit, as well as on their EP’s Eko (2016), Epoka (2018) and Threnody (2019), showcasing all the talent and insanity of Shaman on vocals, Implacable on the guitar, Pàlak on bass, and Dusk on all programming, synthesizers and effects.

Eerie background noises ignite the opening track Relic I, bringing to our ears infernal bursts of dementia through the riffage by Implacable and all effects blasted by Dusk, while Shaman fires sinister, demonic roars that will haunt your souls in the name of Industrial Metal. Relic II is even more epic and imposing thanks to its dense atmosphere while Implacable keeps slashing his stringed axe accompanied by the low-tuned bass by Pàlak, offering Shaman exactly what he needs to sound like a beast incarnate on vocals. In other words, it’s first-class Industrial Black Metal made in Costa Rica, whereas like the soundtrack to a devilish, underground horror movie it’s time for the quartet to captivate our senses and drag us into darkness with Relic III, where Dusk showcases all his talent as the awesome Industrial Metal musician he is in the most experimental of all songs, evolving into the sonic beast Relic IV, spearheaded by the venomous gnarling by Shaman while Dusk keeps blackening the ambience with his wicked synths and effects in a display of primeval Industrial Metal with an Atmospheric Black Metal vibe. The last of the “relics”, obviously titled Relic V, will darken your thoughts to the sound of the crushing riffs, bass lines and synths by the band, resulting in a beyond Stygian creation that lives up to the legacy of Industrial Black Metal.

The unique and somber music brought into being by Dusk might not be an easy listen at first for the regular rock and metal fan, but after diving deep into their chaotic world of industrial and blackened sounds I’m sure you’ll get addicted to all of their demented creations, just like what they have to offer us all in The Relic. Hence, don’t forget to give the band a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their sick compositions, and to purchase their brand new opus soon from their own BandCamp page. Dusk are undoubtedly one of the biggest names of the underground scene in their homeland Costa Rica, sounding more infernal and sinister with each one of their releases and, therefore, leaving us eager for more of their perturbing Industrial Black Metal in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Relic II and Relic IV.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Relic I 7:42
2. Relic II 6:43
3. Relic III 5:39
4. Relic IV 8:09
5. Relic V 8:47

Band members
Shaman – vocals
Implacable – guitar
Pàlak – bass
Dusk – programming, synthesizers, effects

Album Review – Benthik Zone / εἴδωλον (2022)

A celebration of the beauty of metamorphosis and hybridism in the form of first-class Atmospheric Black Metal made in Portugal.

Hailing from Porto, a coastal city in northwest Portugal, the Atmospheric Black Metal duo Benthik Zone is back with more of their fusion of experimental, atmospheric and progressive sounds with their third full-length opus, entitled εἴδωλον, which is Greek for “eidolon”. Establishing a parallel between classical antiquity and contemporaneity by creating a poetic dialogue with various myths, stories speaking about fabulous creatures, humans and gods, the album celebrates the beauty of metamorphosis and hybridism, which goes from the human being to the vegetal and animal life but carries the weight of that transition process and its consequences in the bodies of the “εἴδωλον” characters. “Beyond this interesting convergence between the term εἴδωλον and the culmination of the myth (Actaeon) from which we were inspired, it was perceived that in general terms the meaning of particular interest to us, in the context of this album, was that of a spectre, ghost, that has been vexing us at every stage of our work,” commented the duo formed of vocalist A. Leão and multi-instrumentalist F. Braga, who together with guest G. Correia are offering us all an even more elaborate, twisted and expansive concept album of Atmospheric Black Metal that keeps their sound evolving in myriad mysterious and compelling ways.

The disruptive, atmospheric intro Atravesso o Portal Mítico (“I go through the mythical portal”) will drag you to the unique world of Benthik Zone, setting the stage for E Embriagado pelo Reflexo (“and intoxicated by the reflection”), an Extra-Terrestrial Atmospheric Black Metal journey spearheaded by the strident riffage by F. Braga while A. Leão fires hellish gnarls from start to finish, presenting the most primeval elements of old school Black Metal until everything fades into an acoustic, naturalistic passage halfway through it, again exploding into a sea of obscurity and experimentations for our vulgar delectation. After such demolishing start to the album we’re treated to Sonho-a Desnuda (“I dream of her naked”), another eerie, ethereal creation by the duo that starts in an mesmerizing manner, and that Stygian ambience goes on for over three minutes until crushing beats and disruptive sounds invade our ears in a lesson in Experimental Black Metal.

A. Correia and F. Braga generate a beyond captivating ambience with their instruments in Na Iluminação do Presente (“in the lighting of the present”), all spiced up by the cryptic vocalizations by A. Leão in an insane and pulverizing display of Atmospheric Black Metal, flowing into the cinematic interlude Qual Espectro (“which spectrum”), which will pierce our minds before we face Da Zona Perdida no Tempo (“from the zone lost in time”), an explosion of the duo’s blackened sounds exhaling creativity and darkness while exploring new sounds. Furthermore, G. Correia adds his share of lunacy to the music with his wicked instruments, resulting in a sonic attack without a single second of peace. Lastly, closing the album it’s time for 11 minutes of primeval and obscure sounds in Imenso Abismo do Reino Submerso (“immense abyss of the sunken kingdom”), where tribal, esoteric beats are intertwined with eccentric instruments such as the didgeridoo, generating a hypnotizing, idiosyncratic Atmospheric Black Metal experience not recommended for the lighthearted while also ending in an absolute Stygian fashion.

If you have what it takes to face the 47 minutes of experimentations, progressiveness and obscurity brought into being by Benthik Zone in the form of εἴδωλον, you can enjoy the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and also start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates. However, above all that, in order to show your true support and admiration for those Portuguese metallers you should definitely purchase a copy of their newborn beast from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Onism Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore, from Apple Music, or from Amazon. As already mentioned, the album celebrates the beauty of metamorphosis and hybridism, and there’s nothing more appropriate than the Atmospheric Black Metal by Benthik Zone to properly showcase all that beauty in darkness and chaos.

Best moments of the album: E Embriagado pelo Reflexo and Imenso Abismo do Reino Submerso.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Onism Productions

Track listing
1. Atravesso o Portal Mítico 2:01
2. E Embriagado pelo Reflexo 8:28
3. Sonho-a Desnuda 8:10
4. Na Iluminação do Presente 7:59
5. Qual Espectro 1:53
6. Da Zona Perdida no Tempo 7:28
7. Imenso Abismo do Reino Submerso 11:27

Band members
A. Leão – vocals, didgeridoo
F. Braga – guitars, bass, drum programming, backing vocals

Guest Musician
G. Correia – transverse flute, berimbau, hangpan, flute

Album Review – Tome Of The Unreplenished / Earthbound (2022)

This Atmospheric Black Metal horde offers in their new opus a transcendental journey of a cold, earthy aesthetic twisted with punishing riffing brilliance.

A representation of conceptual philosophy, progression, and elevation through sound, the uncompromising Cypriot Atmospheric Black Metal project Tome Of The Unreplenished is finally releasing their most anticipated album to date, their sophomore full-length opus entitled Earthbound, a transcendental journey of a cold, earthy aesthetic twisted with punishing riffing brilliance. Formed as a solitary act in the city of Nicosia in 2012 by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Hermes, the project has solidified its lineup with vocalist, guitarist and flutist Alexandros (Macabre Omen), bassist Aort (Code), and drummer Tom Vallely (Omega Centauri, Macabre Omen), who together with Hermes worked to craft the sounds of Earth and Space found in Earthbound, pushing the boundaries of musical progression while experimenting with radical, brutal and unforgiving sounds.

The opening track Tellurian is atmospheric and visceral from the very first second, with Tom sounding merciless behind his drums offering Hermes exactly what he needs to not only vociferate the song’s Stygian words (“I hear a whisper / A form beholding the universe / And I am bound on Earth (or am I?) / Ablaze a prayer beyond the known / My gift to you / Reclaim thy wings”) but also to fire razor-edged riffs from his guitar, flowing into the even more menacing and somber Unbound, where Hermes showcases all his talent and passion for extreme music, growling rabidly accompanied by the low-tuned, sinister kitchen by Aort and Tom. Put differently, it’s infernal Atmospheric Black Metal at its finest for our total delight. Then the beautifully titled Tryst at the Gales of Cyprus will bring to your avid ears the band’s trademark sonority infused with Doom Metal nuances, transporting you to their obscure realm while Hermes gnarls with tons of anguish and hatred supported by the clean vocals by Alexandros.

The band continues to darken the skies with their classy and undisputed Atmospheric Black Metal in Toward the Self, led by the melodic blast beats by Tom while Hermes extracts primeval sounds form his guitar, all enhanced by the song’s background vocalizations; and get ready for over 11 minutes of atmospheric passages, blackened riffs and drums, eerie vocal lines and endless obscurity in the form of Astraios Ayr, a full-bodied, imposing aria by Tome Of The Unreplenished where all band members are on absolute fire from start to finish. Furthermore, the combination of Hermes’ riffs and the rumbling bass by Aort is a thing of beauty, ending in a beyond epic and imposing manner while morphing into the instrumental piece Portcullis to Dodekatheon, a pure ambient voyage that puts a climatic conclusion to the album, exhaling melancholy and darkness to the sound of the reverberating, metallic bass by Aort while Tom masterfully pounds his drums in a pure tribal way.

In order to join the quartet on their journey through the realms of atmospheric and uncanny Black Metal, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and, even more important than that, to purchase a copy of their new album from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp page, from the Xenoglossy Productions’ webstore, or from Sound Cave in CD or LP format. In summary, Hermes and his henchmen from Tome Of The Unreplenished simply nailed it with Earthbound, bringing forth everything the band stands for and, consequently, providing us fans of extreme music with the perfect soundtrack for a true otherworldly voyage.

Best moments of the album: Unbound and Astraios Ayr.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Avantgarde Music/Xenoglossy Productions

Track listing
1. Tellurian 6:09
2. Unbound 8:35
3. Tryst at the Gales of Cyprus 5:29
4. Toward the Self 5:55
5. Astraios Ayr 11:14
6. Portcullis to Dodekatheon 9:12

Band members
Hermes – vocals, guitars, keyboards, tambourine
Alexandros – clean and backing vocals, classical guitars, flute
Aort – bass
Tom Vallely – drums, percussion

Album Review – Nechochwen / Kanawha Black (2022)

This Apalači Folk Metal entity returns from the underworld after seven years of silence with a new album that will further cement their rich and powerful legacy.

Born out of the desire to explore the heritage of the Eastern Woodland Indians of North America through stunning classical guitar instrumentation and lush atmosphere, West Virginia, United States-based Black/Folk Metal entity Nechochwen (a Lenape word that basically means “walks alone”) returns from the underworld seven years after the release of the full-length album Heart of Akamon with a new opus, entitled Kanawha Black, the fourth studio effort in their already solid career. Playing what they like to call “Apalači Folk Metal”, the duo comprised of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nechochwen and bassist and drummer Pohonasin offers in their new album fierce melodies, heartfelt compositions and riff stylings that will further cement the rich and powerful legacy that they’ve nurtured since their inception in 2005, being highly recommended for admirers of the music by Panopticon, Agalloch and Falls of Rauros, among others.

The incendiary riffs by Nechochwen are powerfully complemented by the blast beats by Pohonasin in the opening tune Kanawha Black, a fulminating Black and Folk Metal onrush where Nechochwen roars like a demonic entity while also providing top-notch clean vocals. Then we’re treated to The Murky Deep, where a tribalistic, folk start evolves into a Melodic Black Metal feast spearheaded by the massive drums by Pohonasin and the gentle acoustic guitars by Nechochwen. Furthermore, it’s truly impressive how they blend the most primeval folk elements with their more extreme core sound, which is also the case in I Can Die But Once, bringing forward over six minutes of ethereal, atmospheric passages intertwined with bursts of anger and obscurity, resulting in a multi-layered adventure through the realms of Neofolk for admirers of the genre.

And those mesmerizing sounds flow into the rumbling Folk Metal extravaganza titled A Cure for the Winter Plagues, where Nechochwen sounds like a beast with his deep roars and piercing guitars while Pohonasin will make your head tremble armed with his bass. Then investing in a more direct Atmospheric Black Metal sonority it’s time for the duo to crush our souls in Visions, Dreams, and Signs, bringing to our ears seven minutes of blackened riffs, infernal drums and the always hellish gnarls by Nechochwen, whereas their second to last breath of Black and Folk Metal comes in the form of Generations of War, presenting pulverizing growls and hammering drums that will smash you mercilessly while folk elements add a touch of finesse in the background. Lastly, the duo once again captivates our senses with their acoustic sounds in Across the Divide, another solid display of the band’s dexterity and passion for heavy music, with their Heavy Metal-infused guitars sounding utterly awesome.

After all is said and done, it’s a true pleasure to witness the triumphant return to action by Nechochwen with the excellent Kanawha Black after such a long period of silence, and if you want to put your hands on the album you can already preporder it directly from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Bindrune Recordings’ BandCamp page. Moreover, don’t forget to also follow the duo on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details, and to stream all of their atmospheric creations on Spotify, getting more familiarized with their music and, consequently, being able to explore the North American Indian heritage together with Nechochwen and Pohonasin in the name of the band’s trademark Apalači Folk Metal.

Best moments of the album: Kanawha Black and Visions, Dreams, and Signs.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Bindrune Recordings

Track listing
1. Kanawha Black 6:23
2. The Murky Deep 4:03
3. I Can Die But Once 6:16
4. A Cure for the Winter Plagues 3:32
5. Visions, Dreams, and Signs 7:27
6. Generations of War 6:16
7. Across the Divide 7:50

Band members
Nechochwen – vocals, guitars, e-bow, keyboards, hand drum, floor tom, rattle, cedar flute, lalawas
Pohonasin – bass, drums, backing vocals

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