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

Metal Chick of the Month – Heike Langhans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Review – Jupiterian / Protosapien (2020)

Rising as a mythical creature, this Brazilian Atmospheric Sludge and Doom Metal outfit is ready to haunt our souls with the crushing, primeval music found in their brand new opus.

Formed in 2013 in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, the unyelding Atmospheric Sludge/Doom Metal outfit Jupiterian is back in action after releasing their groundbreaking album Terraforming in 2017, which was akin to the sound of tectonic plates shifting. In the aftermath of that event, a new revelation has been unearthed, their magnum opus Protosapien. Featuring a Stygian artwork by Polish artist Mariusz Lewandowski, it slices through the ominous atmospheric murk of the band’s previous effort and in an almost primitive yet strangely evolved manner, goes for the jugular. Comprised of Von  vocals, guitars and synths, A on the guitar, R on bass and G on drums, Jupiterian rise as a mythical creature, imbibing everything that transpired and distilling it all to create something highly potent, dense and sonically immeasurable, a form of harrowing, otherworldly Sludge and Doom Metal that lumbers on erratically, carving their own path, trampling on anything that dares stand in their way, and being therefore highly recommended for admirers of the music by  Eremit, Loss, Primitive Man, Gaerea and My Dying Bride, among others.

The phantasmagorical and cinematic intro Homecoming will crawl deep inside your skin and darken your heart until the gates to the underworld are open with the imposing Mere Humans, where the reverberating bass by R and the Stygian riffs by V and A will make your head tremble while G fires sluggish, doomed beats nonstop. V’s and A’s dirty and piercing guitar lines keep bringing darkness to us all in Voidborn, accompanied by G’s damned drums and the hellish vociferations by V, being perfect for cracking your neck headbanging in solitude. Put differently, this is the epitome of primeval Sludge and Doom Metal spiced up by the obscurity of Blackened Doom, whereas in the vile Capricorn we’re treated to a ritualistic doom aria spearheaded by G’s tribal beats, with the quartet bringing forward a sharp hybrid of American Sludge Metal and classic Doom Metal. Furthermore, the bass punches by R sound absolutely metallic, taking the song’s malignancy to a whole new level. And they offer more of their raw and unearthly sounds in the heavy-as-hell Starless, showcasing a great sync between R and G with their respective bass jabs and drums while the inhumane growls by V add an extra touch of evil to the overall result. Lastly, a gargantuan roar by V ignite the one hundred percent, unfiltered Atmospheric Doom Metal feast titled Earthling Bloodline, where G pounds his drums slowly and steadily while his bandmates generate a menacing ambience with their strings from hell.

There are numerous places where you can put your dirty hands on Protosapien, such as the band’s own BandCamp page, the official Transcending Obscurity Records webstore (where you can find precious gems such as the 8-panel digipak CD with metallic effect and sandalwood fragrance or an amazing boxset including an autographed LP), the Transcending Obscurity Records webstores for the US and Europe, Apple Music, Amazon and so on. Hence, you can also support those Brazilian doomers by following them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and also by streaming all of their wicked creations on Spotify. As aforementioned, like a mythical creature Jupiterian are among us to haunt our souls and blacken our damned hearts, having in Protosapien the perfect weapon to attack us all with their crushing, antediluvian doom.

Best moments of the album: Capricorn and Earthling Bloodline.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Homecoming 2:09
2. Mere Humans 5:38
3. Voidborn 6:53
4. Capricorn 7:06
5. Starless 7:13
6. Earthling Bloodline 6:40

Band members
V – vocals, guitars, synths
A – guitar
R – bass
G – drums

Album Review – Colosso / Apocalypse EP (2020)

Pestilence, War, Death and Famine masterfully turned into brutal and obscure Death Metal by a heavier-than-hell unity hailing from Portugal.

What if a vicious horde hailing from Portugal decided to turn the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, the Book of Revelation by John of Patmos, into gruesome and raw Death Metal? That’s exactly what a project formed in 2011, currently comprised of Max Tomé on guitars, keyboards and vocals, Alexandre Ribeiro (Grog) on bass and Robin Stone (Norse) on drums, collectively known as Porto, Portugal-based Death Metal unity Colosso, has to offer us all in their brand new EP simply titled Apocalypse, translating into modern and sharp Death Metal all the darkness flowing from the four riders Pestilence, War, Famine and Death.

After years of toiling in the underground, putting out six releases of ever-evolving Death Metal such as their debut full-length opus Peaceful Abrasiveness, in 2012, and more recently Rebirth, in 2018, Colosso seem to have reached their most demonic shape and form in Apocalypse, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Norse, Morbid Angel, Nile, Incantation and Suffocation, among other behemoths of extreme music. Mixed and mastered by Max Tomé himself, and featuring a beyond obscure album art by Phlegeton Art Studio, as well as guest vocals by Guilherme Henriques of Oak and Gaerea, Diogo Santana of Analepsy, and Sérgio Afonso of Bleeding Display, Apocalypse is an undoubtedly breathtaking and refreshingly diverse album, showcasing the myriad aspects of this bold and innovative Death Metal band without compromising on their aggressive, apocalyptic sound.

And pestilence and plague permeate the air in the vicious and heavy-as-hell Pestilence, blending the violence of Death Metal with the grim and infernal sounds of Blackened Doom while guest vocalist Guilherme Henriques barks and roars like a creature from the netherworld. Not only that, Robin smashes his drums mercilessly nonstop, with that disturbing and evil onrush of sounds going on and on until the song’s visceral ending. Then guest Sérgio Afonso lends his guttural vocals to Colosso in the also Stygian tune War, with the sounds of machine guns and explosions making the whole song even more realistic, leaning towards classic Death Metal. Moreover, Alexandre’s bass jabs and Robin’s beats feel like the epitome of evil, resulting in a pulverizing display of extreme music for lovers of the genre.

Max himself is responsible for the vocal duties in Death, a lot more melodic and crisper than its predecessors while still providing the band’s characteristic rawness and darkness. Furthermore, Max is spot-on with his razor-edged riffs accompanied by Robin’s intricate drums and, as a surprise, Max fires clean, ethereal vocals instead of the album’s characteristic putrid gnarls, bringing elements from Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal to Colosso’s core savagery. And last but not least, Diogo Santana provides his share of deep guttural roars to Famine, where the band gets back to their most demented and hellish mode, showcasing all band members in total sync led by Max’s strident riffs, while Robin sounds like a stone crusher on drums and, as a consequence, flirting with Brutal Death Metal at times.

In summary, if you’re an admirer of the meanest and heaviest side of Death Metal you must give these Portuguese metallers a very good try as Max and his henchmen have all it takes to explode your mind and darken your soul with their brand new installment Apocalypse, which by the way will soon be available from the band’s own BandCamp page and from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in distinct formats such as the awesome T-shirt + CD + Digital Download bundle. Also, don’t forget to show your support to Colosso by following them on Facebook and by listening to more of their somber creations on Spotify. As the four dreadful figures in the Book of Revelation who symbolize the evils to come at the end of the world get closer and closer to us, there’s nothing better than the avalanche of Death Metal roars crafted by Colosso to provide them a warm and friendly welcome, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: War and Famine.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Pestilence 8:14
2. War 4:07
3. Death 4:11
4. Famine 4:14

Band members
Max Tomé – guitars, keyboards, vocals on “Death”
Alexandre Ribeiro – bass
Robin Stone – drums

Guest musicians
Guilherme Henriques – vocals on “Pestilence”
Sérgio Afonso – vocals on “War”
Diogo Santana – vocals on “Famine”

Album Review – Forlet Sires / Holy (2019)

The “abandoned forefathers” of Switzerland continue their explorations of uneasy, heavy music with their excellent sophomore opus of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal.

Brought into being in late 2013 in Winterthur, a Swiss city northeast of Zurich, near the German border, Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal unity Forlet Sires might have started out as a conventional Atmospheric Black Metal project, but soon the band started to incorporate influences from several distinct styles such as classic Black Metal, Doom Metal and even Progressive Metal, consolidating a new approach on the genre without any boundaries while keeping a grief aspect in every tone. Now in 2019 the band comprised of Kilian Schmid on vocals, Tobias Kalt and Sebastian Vogt on the guitars, Matthias Menzi on bass and Daniele Brumana on drums returns in full force with Holy, the follow-up to their 2016 debut album Journey Towards Ruin and a lesson in atmospheric and utterly dark music.

Recorded by Forlet Sires at Gaswerk Winterthur with assistance from Pascal Pendl and George Necola, mixed by Billy Anderson, mastered by Justin Weis and featuring a stylish artwork by Adam Burke that perfectly depicts the album’s sense of death, abandonment and hopelessness, Holy presents an evolved version of Forlet Sires (by the way, an old English expression that roughly translates to “abandoned forefathers”, expressing how mankind has lost its way in various aspects) continuing their explorations of uneasy, heavy music, creating an elusive net of insecurity and surpassing music barriers while following the band into their sonic abyss. These words might sound a bit too poetic for some of you, but as soon as you start listening to Holy I’m sure you’ll realize no words can effectively describe the dark and atmospheric poetry flowing from Forlet Sires’ music.

Melancholy permeates the air from the very first second in the opening track Carnage and Candor, with Tobias and Sebastian taking the lead with their somber guitar lines, suddenly exploding into visceral Atmospheric Doom Metal for our total delight with Kilian roaring like an infernal beast. Moreover, this multi-layered aria brings forward tons of progressiveness and obscurity, getting more and more infuriated as the music progresses with Daniele adding a touch of evil with his Black Metal blast beats, ending in a truly grim and vile manner just the way we like it in Doom Metal. Then in Where Nothing Shall Thrive we’re treated to a classic display of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal that leans towards the most vicious form of Blackened Doom you can think of, all enhanced by the physiological and somber lyrics vociferated by Kilian (“You’re alive, alone. You’re afraid, you tried. Devils are in your mind, lining you up to die. Fade away, longing for more. Feel the void, mourn the waste of life. Youth was lost, faster than you thought. Midlife has passed, all you did was dreaming. Gently conditioned, ambition repressed by degrees.”). And to make things even better, the stringed trio Tobias, Sebastian and Matthias exhale heaviness and evil from their axes throughout the entire song, not to mention the lesson in intricacy and darkness given by Daniele on drums.

Dead Skin, a demonic hybrid of Progressive Metal and Blackened Doom by the quintet, sounds and feels as wicked as it can be,  with Kilian leading his horde with his demented growls and gnarls while the sound of guitars penetrates deep inside your skin and Matthias delivers tons of groove from his bass, resulting in a full-bodied composition that will please all fans of the genre without a shadow of a doubt. And lastly, the thunderous bass by Matthias together with Daniele’s drums generate a beyond aggressive atmosphere in We Roam This World Alone, the epitome of Atmospheric Doom Metal showcasing Stygian words that carry a message of anguish and grief growled by Kilian (“Cold sorrow claims all hope. Live on, for reasons unknown. Falling. Fallen. While I’m bleeding unappealing strands of purulence, I am feeding off a cyst on this dry cunt.”). Hence, keep banging your head nonstop to Tobias’ and Sebastian’s crushing riffage until the song’s climatic finale, overflowing desperation and evil.

It’s quite impressive how Forlet Sires are capable of crafting lengthy, complex and sorrowful compositions without sounding tiresome or repetitive; quite the contrary, each one of the four songs found in Holy, available in full on Spotify, will keep you mesmerized, dragging you into a downward spiral of darkness together with the band, which in the end means they were more than successful in their aforementioned duty of generating fresh and at the same time mournful music. If you want to show your true support to this talented Swiss army of doom, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and grab your copy of Holy from their BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, preparing your blackened mind and soul for the most desolating and melancholic moments in life.

Best moments of the album: Where Nothing Shall Thrive and We Roam This World Alone.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Cruel Bones

Track listing
1. Carnage and Candor 12:37
2. Where Nothing Shall Thrive 7:45
3. Dead Skin 8:59
4. We Roam This World Alone 11:23

Band members
Kilian Schmid – vocals
Tobias Kalt – guitars
Sebastian Vogt – guitars
Matthias Menzi – bass
Daniele Brumana – drums

Album Review – Illimitable Dolor / Leaden Light (2019)

Drenched in wistful melancholy and stirring up faded albeit rich memories, the new album by this Australian-based unity is an ambitious ode to all things doom.

New South Wales, Australia-based Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal masters Illimitable Dolor return from the darkest corners of the earth after the release of their highly acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2017 with a brand new opus, entitled Leaden Light, carrying on where they last left, drenched in wistful melancholy and stirring up faded albeit rich memories, sounding purer, more refined and clearer in expression than before, and lingering for long in your thoughts. With three artworks made by Indonesian artist Varises Otak for the CD, LP and box set editions exclusively (with layout and design by Australian graphic designer Pat Di Palo), this is an ambitious release from the band that features some of the best music in the style without overdoing any aspect of it.

Formed in 2014 in the city of Sydney, the band comprised of Stuart Prickett (The Slow Death, Horrisonous) on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Yonn McLaughlin (The Slow Death, Nazxul) on drums and vocals, Dan Garcia (The Slow Death) and Mat V. Newton (Lycanthia) on the guitars, Gavin Collison on bass and Guy Moore (Elysium) on keyboards offers in Leaden Light a raw and obscure fusion of Atmospheric Doom and Death Metal with Funeral Doom, influenced by renowned acts such as Skepticism, My Dying Bride and Officium Triste, beign therefore recommended for admirers of the music by Mournful Congregation, Evoken, The Slow Death and Chalice of Suffering, among others. Containing five extremely detailed, mournful and lengthy songs in the span of over 51 minutes, Leaden Light is not an easy listen for the lighthearted, consuming your soul and inviting you to join the band in darkness for all eternity.

A thunderstorm warns the listener darkness is upon us, before Yonn and his sluggish beats together with Guy’s phantasmagorical keys invade our senses in Armed He Brings The Dawn, showcasing a dense and heavy atmosphere from start to finish while Stuart vociferates the song’s Stygian words deeply through his low-tuned, devilish gnarls. In addition, the music flows like a river of darkness, alternating between purely somber passages and more piercing sounds, embracing the listener majestically. Soil She Bears is just as damned, lugubrious and grim as its predecessor, with deep and visceral roars permeating the air while the keys by Guy keep the ambience truly menacing. Not only that, Gavin and Yonn bring heaviness to the musicality with their respective punches and beats, dragging you to the bitterly cold crypts of the underworld.

Horses Pale And Four continues form where the previous song ended, building momentum and aiming at reaching a climatic stage where all instruments are darkly connected, with Stuart’s growls and the band’s guitar triumvirate’s riffs complementing each other flawlessly. Put differently, this is a bold and enfolding display of Atmospheric Doom Metal spiced up by Atmospheric Black Metal and Blackened Doom nuances tailored for lovers of the genre. Then the serene, melancholic piano notes by Guy kick off the utterly doomed and depressive Leaden Light Her Coils, where the guitars by Stuart, Dan and Mat feel like a delicate but extremely sharp knife cutting our skin deep. Furthermore, its rhythm is beyond mesmerizing, and you’ll certainly be stunned by how grandiose their music can be, with Guy, Gavin and Yonn giving a lecture in Doom Metal with their slow, steady and reverberating tones. And last but not least, the sextet morphs into their most Atmospheric Black Metal mode possible in 2.12.14 (which is probably the date when the band was created), feeling very touching, ethereal and melancholic, with Stuart, Dan and Mat taking the lead with their gentle guitar lines, followed by Yonn’s precise beats and all other grim instruments and sounds until the song’s dense ending.

As already mentioned, Leaden Light, available in full on Spotify, might not be an easy listen at first for the average rock fan, but it’s definitely worth a shot and a fantastic introduction to the world of modern-day Atmospheric Death and Doom Metal. Hence, you can show your true support to such idiosyncratic entity hailing from Australia by following them on Facebook, and specially by grabbing your copy of Leaden Light from several locations like their own BandCamp page or the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in the US or in Europe (where by the way you can still purchase the beyond special gold CD or LP box sets), as well as from iTunes or Amazon. In other words, succumb to the most lugubrious side of music by joining Illimitable Dolor in pitch black darkness, and may your life be doomed forever and ever to the sound of their classy and extremely somber music.

Best moments of the album: Horses Pale And Four and Leaden Light Her Coils.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Armed He Brings The Dawn 14:50
2. Soil She Bears 7:18
3. Horses Pale And Four 11:27
4. Leaden Light Her Coils 13:48
5. 2.12.14 4:27

Band members
Stuart Prickett – guitars, vocals, keyboards
Dan Garcia – guitars
Mat V. Newton – guitars
Gavin Collison – bass
Guy Moore – keyboards
Yonn McLaughlin – drums

Album Review – Et Moriemur / Epigrammata (2018)

Transcending the perceptions of the death and doom styles and bringing back forgotten elements from the past, the new opus by this talented Czech band perfectly depicts our attempt to cope with the death of those we loved.

Founded in 2008 in Prague, in the Czech Republic, Atmospheric Black/Death/Doom Metal supergroup Et Moriemur, featuring members of legendary bands like Dissolving of Prodigy, Self-Hatred and Silent Stream of Godless Elegy, has been spreading what they like to call “Existential Doom” all over the world ever since. The name of the band, which is Latin for “and we will die”, already says a lot about how obscure and damned their music sounds, with their brand new album Epigrammata, the third in their already solid career, transcending the perceptions of the death and doom styles and bringing back forgotten elements from Gregorian chanting, delving into the rich European history and using Latin and ancient Greek to convey their message. Featuring an array of amazing guest musicians, Epigrammata has all of its song names in Latin taken from the Requiem Mass, notable for the large number of musical compositions that it has inspired, including settings by Mozart, Verdi, Bruckner, Dvořák, Fauré and Duruflé. Originally, such compositions were meant to be performed in liturgical service, with monophonic chant.

The band, comprised of Zdeněk Nevělík on vocals, piano and keyboards, Aleš Vilingr and Pavel Janouškovec on the guitars, Karel Kovářík on bass and Michal “Datel” Rak on drums, had a few interesting words to say about their new album. “Epigrammata represents our attempt to cope with the dying or death of those we loved. To create a solemn and classical atmosphere we used lyrics in ancient Greek (the title itself means epigrams) and in Latin, more precisely from the Mass for the dead – the album follows the typical Requiem structure, i.e. Introitus, Requiem Aeternum, Dies Irae etc. – and of course the traditional, unisono male Gregorian chant. In any case we tried not to do a uni-dimensional record. So apart from the inevitable grief there is gratitude as well for having had the chance to share our life with them and hope that they are well – wherever they are.”

Whimsical waves invade our senses in Introitus (or “prelude”), with guest Kostas Panagiotou bringing epicness to the intro with his enigmatic words before a massive wall of sounds crushes us all in Requiem Aeternam (“eternal rest”), with the doomed, sluggish beats by Datel and the imposing background choir generating a truly Stygian ambience. Furthermore, Zdeněk sounds as demonic as he can be, not to mention the potency of the music coming from the violin and cello. Then the piano by Zdeněk kicks off a Blackened Doom extravaganza titled Agnus Dei (“lamb of god”), a song that reeks of sheer darkness where cavernous growls get deeper and deeper in a delicate paradox with the smother background elements. In addition, Guest musicians Labrini Karousou and Vangelis Mertzanis provide another anguished and eccentric narration, feeling more doomed than atmospheric, and absolutely haunting and dense from start to finish. And their somber mass of Doom and Black Metal goes on with another fantastic hymn titled Dies Irae (“day of wrath”), with the band’s stringed trio Aleš, Pavel and Karel being extremely precise with their scorching, damned riffs and punches, and with the keyboards by Zdeněk sounding beautifully eccentric and wicked.

In Offertorium (“offering”) we’re treated to a Phantom of the Opera-like vibe blended with the band’s otherworldly sounds and tones, with Datel simply smashing his drums slowly and flawlessly while the choir keeps mesmerizing our minds, remaining dark and vibrant until its grand finale; whereas in the slightly faster and more piercing Communio (“communion”), Et Moriemur continue to fire their low-tuned, demonic tones intertwined with the church-like choir and a huge dosage of melancholy, maintaining the album at a vibrant and perturbing level. And in Libera Me (“rescue me”) an eerie organ together with the cavernous growls by Zdeněk generate a truly enfolding atmosphere, evolving into a lecture in Blackened Doom infused with church music elements. Furthermore, the entire band is utterly focused and energized, extracting the most damned but at the same time melodious sounds you can think of from their instruments, with every single second of this aria being beyond captivating (especially the final recitation by Zdeněk).

Then the piano by Zdeněk dictate the rhythm in Absolve Domine (“release lord”), complemented by his pensive words and cinematic-epic-imposing background sounds, with the music growing beautifully until darkness is upon us once again in the Blackened Doom aria Sanctus (“spirit”), a headbanging mass led by the crawling, gloomy beats by Datel. Hence, this amazing composition will elevate your senses with its potent sonority, not to mention how the entire band is capable of sounding so devilish and gentle at the same time. Lastly we have In Paradisum (“in paradise”), a 10-minute voyage through the realms of Existential Doom where its first part is pure old school Doom Metal, until anguished lamentations permeate the air in one of the most obscure and hypnotizing metal masses I’ve ever listened to in my life. In addition, the song’s sluggish drums, serene guitars and epic keys will penetrate deep inside your soul, with an ethereal feminine voice ending this top-notch album of Atmospheric Doom Metal majestically.

Et Moriemur are one of those bands you won’t listen to anywhere but only during your moments of introspection and melancholy, with Epigrammata representing everything the band stands for in terms of music and lyrical themes. And in order to show your support to such distinguished band, go follow them on Facebook and grab your copy of Epigrammata directly from their BandCamp page or from the Transcending Obscurity Records webstore in a Digipak CD + sticker bundle, as well as from iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and Discogs. However, if you prefer an exclusive and more stylish version of the album, I highly recommend you go after the Epigrammata Gold-embossed and UV-laminated Box Set, containing the digipak CD with booklet, an A3 size poster having a special artwork, a fridge magnet having the album artwork, two stickers of the album artwork + emblem artwork, and an individual hand-numbered certificate of ownership for your copy. It can’t get any better, more doomed and more obscure than this, and I’m sure you’re going to love it.

Best moments of the album: Agnus Dei, Libera Me and Sanctus.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Introitus 1:41
2. Requiem Aeternam 5:15
3. Agnus Dei 5:14
4. Dies Irae 4:12
5. Offertorium 5:44
6. Communio 6:14
7. Libera Me 5:18
8. Absolve Domine 2:47
9. Sanctus 6:05
10. In Paradisum 10:41

Band members
Zdeněk Nevělík – vocals, piano, keyboards
Aleš Vilingr – guitar
Pavel Janouškovec – guitar
Karel Kovářík – bass
Michal “Datel” Rak – drums

Guest musicians
Kostas Panagiotou – vocals on “Introitus”
Nikos Vlachakis – vocals on “Agnus Dei”
Labrini Karousou & Vangelis Mertzanis – recitation on “Agnus Dei”
Jaroslav Klvaňa, Karel Russ & Lukáš Pavlovský – choir
Andrea Michálková – cello
Zuzana Králová – violin
Jindřich Bešťák – trombone
Honza Kapák – acoustic guitar

Album Review – Hammerhands / Largo Forte (2016)

The soundtrack to your darkest days is here, courtesy of a talented Canadian band and their sluggish, heavy and rowdy music.

Rating4

hh-largo-forte-coverFew subgenres of heavy music can be so disturbingly awesome as Sludge and Doom Metal thanks to those low-tuned sounds, wicked screams and sluggish beats that penetrate our hearts and souls every single time we listen to them, making our lives a little more miserable just the way we like it. Hailing from the city of Mississauga, Ontario (extremely close to our “headquarters”), here comes Canadian Sludge Metal quartet Hammerhands offering their moodiness, blasphemy and grudge in their brand new album, entitled Largo Forte, a solid display of atmospheric and doomed heavy music that will accompany your misery during those dark and rainy days.

Formed in the year of 2012, Hammerhands released their debut album, Glaciers, one year later in 2013, also releasing that same year a special covers EP named 1995 containing their versions for two of their biggest influences in music (“X.Y.U.” by The Smashing Pumpkins, and “To Bring You My Love” by PJ Harvey). It might have taken three years for the band to release new original material, but based on the music found in Largo Forte it was definitely worth the wait. Featuring a dark and pensive artwork by their own bassist Justin Hunt, Largo Forte brings forward the band’s trademark Atmospheric Sludge and Doom Metal blended with Alternative Metal and other subgenres of heavy music, generating a metallic ambience tailored for fans of sheer heaviness.

The rumbling bass by Justin kicks off the groovy Eighteen, a sluggish composition that becomes a dark feast of modern and crude Sludge Metal when the inebriate and desperate vocals by NJ Borreta join the musicality, with its anguish ending only increasing its impact even more; followed by THUNDERCHUNK, a dense Stoner Metal chant emanating pure anger from its lyrics (“You are a brave man, / some father’s son. / Hammer your hard head, / against the ground. / You’re going to flex your muscles, / and bare your teeth. / Break everything around you, / you know I’ll hold my god damn stance.”). Guitarist Collin Young does a superb job with his wicked noises while drummer Jon Galletly delivers those slow and extremely heavy beats we love in this type of music, with yet another ending transpiring hopelessness and anguish.

hammerhandsHigh Plains is just perfect for an eerie strip-tease done by a mischievous and devilish woman, an obscure Sludge and Doom Metal tune led by the thunderous bass by Justin and the slow and steady beats by Jon, not to mention the spot-on vocals by Collin throughout the entire song. And the title-track Largo Forte begins as obscure as its predecessor, with the bass lines kicking you in the face while Collin fires some Sabbath-inspired riffs in the background. Moreover, the music is kept low and dark almost in its entirety, suddenly exploding into pure hatred through the desperate screams by NJ. Mezzo Grave, displaying some wicked noises and screeches, works as a bridge to If You’re Not Part of the Party, You’re Part of the Problem, showcasing downright distortion and an endless dosage of aggressiveness. The thunderous sounds blasted by bass and drums will pierce your mind, whereas NJ continues delivering his anguished lines until the song’s chaotic and heavy ending.

With a start lot lighter than all previous tunes, Where We Go brings forward more melodious and melancholic sounds thanks to the guitar lines by Collin. Albeit being a good composition, it’s slightly below the rest of the album in terms of quality and creativity, but fortunately that doesn’t last long as we’re treated to the almost pure Doom Metal tune Darkerness with its low-tuned sonority and slow, heavy pace. This song presents a tormented intro that goes on for over two minutes, warning the listener that darkness is upon us, which is only confirmed through its macabre lyrics (“We’ll gut them, / and bleed them dry. / They’ll scream for hope, / but die inside. / Now that they plunge, / there is no right. / This place, / no light.”). Furthermore, as already happened in previous songs, its ending is a noisy and deranged chaos. In The Hardest Thing we have one final blast of distress, with Collin declaiming the lyrics through his somber and funereal vocals while the rest of the band plays some sort of Tarantino-inspired noisy Blues, an interesting way to close such a substantial album.

There’s a nice way to enjoy the whole album on YouTube in the 49-minute official video crafted by the band, displaying deserted landscapes, predatory reptiles, burning lava, among other beautiful scenes from Mother Nature, and you can also visit their Facebook page and YouTube channel to know more about their music and future projects. Obviously, you can purchase Largo Forte at Hammerhands’ BandCamp page to show your true support to these talented Mississaugans whose job is to provide us fans of Sludge metal exactly the type of music needed on our gloomiest days.

Best moments of the album: THUNDERCHUNK, High Plains and If You’re Not Part of the Party, You’re Part of the Problem.

Worst moments of the album: Where We Go.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Eighteen 4:58
2. THUNDERCHUNK 7:11
3. High Plains 4:57
4. Largo Forte 6:44
5. Mezzo Grave 2:34
6. If You’re Not Part of the Party, You’re Part of the Problem 3:39
7. Where We Go 5:50
8. Darkerness 7:58
9. The Hardest Thing 5:25

Band members
NJ Borreta – vocals, guitar
Collin Young – guitar, vocals on “High Plains”, “Where We Go” and “The Hardest Thing”
Justin Hunt – bass, backing vocals
Jon Galletly – drums, backing vocals

Guest musician
Andrew Couto – saxophone on “Darkerness”