Metal Chick of the Month – Lauren Hart

Scar weaver, sew the flesh on my fears…

It’s time to turn up the heat and beat the bitterly cold winds of winter in the Northern Hemisphere here at The Headbanging Moose with one of the most electrifying women from the current metal scene worldwide. Owner of a beyond powerful, dynamic and versatile voice, she will crush you like an insect not only with her deep roars and stunning clean vocals, but also with her high-octane onstage performance. I’m talking about the multi-talented Lauren Hart, the unstoppable frontwoman for Los Angeles, California-based Groove Metal powerhouse Once Human, setting fire to this month of March and keeping the flames of heavy music burning bright wherever she goes for the total delight of us metalheads.

Born on April 8, 1986 in Anaheim, California, but raised in Australia, Lauren self taught piano as a toddler and guitar by the age of 14, proving she was more than ready for stardom at a very early stage in her life. It was in 2014 when she was discovered by former Senior Vice President of A&R for Roadrunner Records and record producer Monte Conner, who put her in touch with Canadian-American record producer and guitarist Logan Mader for a production deal; after the two met, they decided to start a whole new band and started to work on Once Human. That being said, there’s no Lauren Hart without Once Human and vice-versa, which means we’ll focus on the history of the band for a while before talking about some other specific details about our metal diva.

As aforementioned, Once Human was formed in 2014 in Los Angeles, California by Lauren and Logan, with the band’s current lineup being comprised of guitarist Max Karon, bassist Damien Rainaud and drummer Dillon Trollope. In a few of her interviews, Logan explained how Once Human came together. “It all kind of started as soon as I met Logan. I was sent to him because of my video I made, a guitar playing video which was actually pretty shit. I don’t know how I ended up in the hands of these big people but I sat down in the studio with I think was my $99 guitar and my crappy amp and I just started playing these metal riffs and recorded it and put it up on Youtube and Facebook and next thing I know, I’m getting to go into Logan Mader’s studio because I guess Monty Connor (A&R) saw it and he said, ‘Why don’t you try and build something around this girl, let’s have her in and see what happens’. So I came in and straight away we really hit it off and started writing together and I guess he’s normally used to people coming in and wanting to do radio music and a lot more commercial things and I didn’t want any part of that. In fact I didn’t want to do any career singing, I just wanted to do the metal riffs that I love so much and so I think he was taken aback by that because he spent so much time doing the radio stuff and yet he comes from heavy metal, that’s his soul. So when he was able to write heavy metal again with me, I feel like something awoke in him and we just started writing and never stopped,” said Lauren, who also mentioned the original name for the band was going to be Once We Were Human just because of the way the world is going nowadays, because the fall of humanity and the uprising of social media.

Mixing aggression with vulnerability and downright gut-wrenching growls with ethereal clean vocals, Once Human have already released three studio albums, all of course with Lauren on vocals, those being their 2015 debut The Life I Remember (where she also played piano and additional guitars), their 2017 sophomore opus Evolution, and more recently Scar Weaver, not to mention their 2018 live album Stage of Evolution and their 2022 EP Erasure. Furthermore, Once Human also appeared in the compilations Maximum Metal Vol. 210 (released in 2015 by Metal Hammer) and Le Sampler RockHard 159 (released by RockHard in 2015), both with the song The Life I Remember, and in the compilation Le Sampler RockHard 172 (released by RockHard in 2017) with the song Gravity. If you want to have a very good taste of the power, groove and electricity flowing from the music by Once Human, as well as the mesmerizing visuals of their official videos, you can enjoy on YouTube the songs Eye Of Chaos, Erasure, Cold Arrival, Deadlock, Sledgehammer, Only In Death, Gravity, Dark Matter, a live version for Flock Of Flesh, and tons of non-official videos of their live performances all around the world, as well as stream all of their furious creations on Spotify. On a side note, there’s one song and video, for the title-track Scar Weaver, that means a lot to Lauren. “The Scar Weaver track is about dealing with my anxiety and catastrophic thoughts. I give a bad thought (which is ONLY in my head) a true reality by feeding it energy – thus, giving it life, to grow and completely engulf my mind. I sew the flesh on my fears,” she commented.

Apart from her career with Once Human, Lauren can also be seen doing additional vocals for American Progressive/Melodic Power Metal band Kamelot live since 2018, having also recorded additional vocals for the songs Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire), Mindfall Remedy and The Proud and the Broken, from their 2018 album The Shadow Theory, and participated in their 2020 live album I Am the Empire: Live from the 013 singing the song Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire) live with the band. Another band that had the pleasure of having Lauren doing some vocals together with them was International Blackened Death/Groove Metal act Sinsaenum, with whom she recorded the song Sacred Martyr, from their 2018 album Repulsion for Humanity.

Lauren also mentioned in some of her interviews how she ended up singing with Kamelot. “Well I was on tour with Kobra and the Lotus and Kobra Paige told me that Thomas Youngblood (Kamelot) had his eye on me for a while because, as you know he’s taken other girls on tour, like Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) and Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) as they always have a guest feature. He always has his eye out for someone he can take for the next record. Kobra came up to me after one show in somewhere like Arizona and says ‘Hey, do you want to go and play a show with Kamelot?, you’re going to be opening up for Iron Maiden and Ghost’… I was like ‘uhm yes’!” Moreover, the experience with Kamelot also had a huge impact on her singing style. “Well, in the very beginning of Once Human, I didn’t want to clean-sing. I was scared. I said, ‘Screaming only.’ And Logan made me sing – I guess he heard something in me and knew I could do it — but on the first two albums, you can hear me singing, but it’s quite reluctant. I think it sounds held back and unsure. But on this album, on Scar Weaver, it’s full force. And that is definitely 100% because of Kamelot. You gotta come out of your shell with that band. You’re filling some big shoes – you’re filling Alissa White-Gluz, you’re filling Elize Ryd, you’re filling the shoes of these big amazing singer. So I couldn’t be shy about my vocals anymore. So doing it every night onstage, singing songs like “Liar Liar’ and ‘Sacrimony,’ you will come out of your shell. You’re thrown in the deep end. I became really familiar with my clean-singing voice, and my own style.”

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Still regarding her vocal technique and style, Lauren said that apart from the growth from the years with Kamelot and her daily singing she tries to stay fit, to be really connected with her voice and to know her limits, learning how to breathe and speak to an audience without a microphone, and learning how to project in a healthy way and becoming aware of diaphragm support. In addition, she also mentioned her work with vocal coach Melissa Cross, and with laryngologist Dr. Michael Johns to make sure everything stays healthy. “The style that I do, false chord screaming, is a lot of air, all the time. You have to be in really good shape to pull it off. So for me, I feel like being really fit and staying in the gym and making sure your cardio is up to par – I think that helps me onstage. I also did a lot of voice work – not singing, but voice, which is like breathing work, in a theater school. That’s what I incorporate into my screaming and my singing, to not do any damage and keep my breath down in my diaphragm,” she said, also mentioning a not-so-fun experience she had in her teens. “So when I was a teenager listening to metal, I had an ex-boyfriend who was in a band and I would always go to his rehearsals and after they were done rehearsing, I would always come in and they’d free jam and I’d scream on the microphone and I remember always tasting blood in my throat afterwards. Back then there was no YouTube, no internet really to look up whether or not that was okay so I thought ‘I’m doing it right because I taste blood’! Obviously, though there was something very wrong there.”

Lauren has several idols in her career and in her personal life, of course, including huge names the likes of Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy), Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth), Joe Duplantier (Gojira) and Layne Staley (Alice In Chains), also mentioning Black Metal in general as one of her influences when writing and composing music. When asked about her favourite European bands, she said “well my favorite metal album when I was a kid was Dimmu Borgir’s Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. I learned to drive to that album and I don’t recommend learning to drive to that album because you’ll get a lot of speeding tickets! But them and Opeth and I love Strapping Young Lad, loved Devin Townsend and Meshuggah. My first ever album that got me into metal was Yngwie Malmsteen’s Trilogy and that was sort of the gateway as I wanted to be a guitar player and that was, ‘Wow listen to this guy!’ I listened to that record over and over again and quickly it went from that to Dimmu Borgir, I don’t know how it happened but that’s how it went.”

Having already toured with renowned acts such as Dragonforce, Cradle Of Filth, Kobra And The Lotus, and Fear Factory, our beloved vocalist said that she still dreams of touring with other bands, of course, including Devin Townsend, Opeth, Arch Enemy, Dimmu Borgir, and Meshuggah, and of playing in Wacken Open Air with her band Once Human, complementing by saying she really enjoys to be on the road and that she would love visiting South America. In one of her interviews, Lauren talked about the beauty of screaming in small venues, where she can make eye to eye contact with the crowd and closely feel the reaction from her fans. Also, when questioned if the female-fronted label in metal should continue or cease to exist, she said that “I can see how that separation can cause that, I see the conflict but I also see a lot of my fans, I’ve gotten to know a lot of my fans on Patreon – a lot of them are huge fans of female-fronted metal, they’ll go to every show, they’ll buy all the merch and it’s a genre they are just in love with, I don’t know, there are good points and bad,” mentioning she would love to work with other prominent women in metal such as Angela Gossow, Alissa White-Gluz, and Noora Louhimo of Battle Beast.

Lauren was also asked in an interview if she has ever considered returning to acting, but she said that because of the competitiveness of it she doesn’t believe it’s something that she would pursue in her career despite having studied method acting for a number of years. “But you know what, method acting is all about not acting at all, but being honest, 100% honest with yourself. So it is very therapeutic, and I do believe it;’s helped me with my stage presence. Being comfortable in my own skin, being honest. Because people can feel that – they can feel when someone’s being fake. The audience can connect when you’re being true. So it’s definitely helped me be okay with being myself.” And if you want to know more curious facts about Lauren, her career, how she manages to sing and scream with so much passion and energy, there are several interviews on YouTube that I’m sure you’ll enjoy such as one called Screaming when SICK?! What happens…, one interview where she talks about how she learned screaming, another one where she talks about how she found her voice and plays a game called ‘How Well Do You Know Your Bandmate’, and a very relaxed one where she reads mean and not-so-mean YouTube comments about herself and her band. As you can see, Lauren Hart is everywhere, and if you consider yourself a true metalhead it’s time to know more about one of the driving forces of the current metal scene in the United States and bang your head nonstop to her undisputed vocals.

Lauren Hart’s Official Facebook page
Lauren Hart’s Official Instagram
Once Human’s Official Facebook page
Once Human’s Official Instagram

“I force myself to go places that I don’t normally want to go. I force myself to look at things that I’d typically want to not see.” – Lauren Hart

Album Review – Klendathu / Avarist: The Beginning & The End at Once EP (2022)

A Melbourne, Australia-based Blackened Death Metal entity returns with a new concept EP of one massive 25-minute music journey inspired by the ever-present environmental threat on our planet.

After two years since the release of Ad Nauseam, Melbourne, Australia-based Blackened Death Metal entity Klendathu is back in action with a new EP, entitled Avarist: The Beginning & The End at Once, the culmination of a year of hard work to not only improve on Ad Nauseam but to also create something of substance that the band’s mastermind Scott Masson and other people can be proud of. A concept record of just one song, this 25-minute Dark Metal journey will keep the listener’s attention from start to finish, allowing your mind to create a story inside your head. Featuring Ross Savage on drums, who by the way also produced the album, Avarist: The Beginning & The End at Once is inspired by renowned acts the likes of Behemoth, Machine Head, Gojira and Kataklysm, among others, as well as by the ever-present environmental threat on our planet and the suffering of all the poor animals that we enslave, use and discard without mercy every single day.

Like the soundtrack to a sinister thriller, eerie sounds arise amidst chaos until Scott begins hammering his bass accompanied by one of his trademark anguished roars and the blasting drums by Ross, blending elements from Groove and Industrial Metal into his core sonority. The song’s “second act” showcases a heavier-than-hell riffage by Scott while he keeps screaming manically, not to mention Ross’ beats will put you to headbang like a beast, whereas near the eight-minute mark it’s time for some dark vocalizations by Scott spiced up by his piercing guitar lines, and as the song approaches its twelfth minute it’s time for Scott to put the pedal to the metal and invite us all to crush our heads into the circle pit to the sound of his demented growls and Ross’ infernal drums in a fulminating Death Metal assault with hints of Hardcore for our vulgar delectation. We’re 17 minutes in and the music is only getting more apocalyptical and thunderous, not to mention how impressive it is that Scott’s energy level doesn’t go down not even for a single second. And our one-man metal army keeps roaring and roaring in the most demented way, with his riffs piercing through our minds and souls until the song’s obscure and terrorizing finale.

You can join Scott and his Klendathu in such distinguished, heavy and visceral musical voyage by streaming Avarist: The Beginning & The End at Once in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course by purchasing a copy of the 25-minute EP from Apple Music or from Amazon. When you think of Black and Death Metal, the first thing that comes to your mind is violence, blood and death, but with Klendathu the multi-talented Scott wants to show us all that although death is necessary and a crucial part of our lives it doesn’t have to be part of our eating habits, blending the importance of veganism and vegetarianism into his visceral music. That’s what Klendathu is all about, and that’s how it will always be thanks to the fantastic job done by our unrelenting Australian metaller.

Best moments of the album: The whole song is amazing, but its last part will pulverize your senses mercilessly.

Worst moments of the album: None, of course.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Avarist: The Beginning & The End at Once 25:49

Band members
Scott Masson – vocals, guitars, bass

Guest musician
Ross Savage – drums (session)

Album Review – Despotic / Where Freedom Dies EP (2021)

Four tracks of pure, unfiltered Death Metal brought forth by three talented guys from Down Under who are ready to tell you where freedom dies.

3.0rating

despotic-where-freedom-dies-ep-2021Created in 2020 out of a shared interest in old school Death Metal, Ballarat, Australia-based act Despotic is unleashing upon humanity their debut EP, entitled Where Freedom Dies, offering fans of extreme music four tracks of pure, unfiltered Death Metal carefully brought forth by Chris Newell (Vestal Cuntvomit, The Nihilistic Front, Pervertum Obscurum and Maleficium, among others) on vocals, Allan Butt (Maleficium, Into Ruin and Apocalyptian) on guitars and bass, and Andrew Loynes (Into Ruin) on drums. Not only that, the EP also represents the first go at handling the entire production, including tracking, mixing, and mastering, by Allan Butt, proving that not only he kicks ass it doesn’t matter which band he’s playing with (as you can see in our review for the EP Citizens Of The Apocalypse, released last year by Apocalyptian), but also that it looks like in Australia the DIY metal scene is stronger than ever thanks to skillful musicians like him.

Hammering their instruments in the best Death/Cannibal Corpse-inspired way, the trio delivers raw and classic Death Metal in Foreboding Obscurance, with Andrew dictating the pace while Chris growls like a demonic beast, resulting in an awesome welcome card by the band. Then in Citadel of Lies we face austere lyrics barked by Chris (“From our first breath we are numbered, Tagged and coded for their database / Sentient perception expurgated, Born to serve the high agenda / Acquiesce our souls to the acrid, Arrogance of the elitist subjugation / To yield such supreme over governance, you then crush and usurp all objectors”) accompanied by the infernal riffs by Allan; and more of their somber and visceral sounds comes in the form of Narcissistic Dominance, where Allan continues to slash his stringed axe furiously while Andrew sounds like a stone crusher on drums, delivering tons of intricacy and rage through his blast beats. Lastly, closing the EP the trio fires another round of their Stygian Death Metal in Rendered Senseless, with Chris vomiting the song’s wicked words supported by the thunderous riffs and bass jabs by Allan, as well as the always vile drums by Andrew.

despotic-logoYou can take a shot at Where Freedom Dies in its entirety on Spotify, but of course in order to show your support to the vibrant Australian underground you should click HERE for all places where you can stream or purchase the EP. Also, don’t forget to follow Chris, Allan and Andrew on Facebook and on Instagram, getting to know more about such promising name of the Australian Death Metal scene and staying up to date with the next steps in their career. If you have absolutely no idea where freedom dies, why don’t you join Despotic in their quest for extreme music? Those guys are not only talented musicians, but they can also help you answer such delicate question armed with their undisputed Death Metal, showing to us all once again that heavy music is always the best remedy when all hope is lost.

Best moments of the album: Narcissistic Dominance.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing   
1. Foreboding Obscurance 3:56
2. Citadel of Lies 4:03
3. Narcissistic Dominance 3:27
4. Rendered Senseless 3:56

Band members
Chris Newell – vocals
Allan Butt – guitar, bass
Andrew Loynes – drums

Album Review – Vyrion / Nil (2020)

A fantastic concept album of bone-crushing Black Metal made in Australia, telling the stories of civilizations from the cradle to their eradication by disease.

With Black N’ Roll rotting its heart, Nil, the brand new opus by Brisbane, Australia-based Progressive Black Metal horde Vyrion, brings a relentless bone-crushing, soul-fucking, thrashing element to the otherwise intricate formula the band comprised of Dale Williams on vocals and lead guitars, Mark Boyce also on the guitars, Mitch Rogers on bass and vocals, and James Daly on drums perfected on their 2014 album Geo. A concept album telling the stories of civilizations from the cradle to their eradication by disease, Nil takes all prisoners on a vivid journey, basking in the glory of our war-mongering past and looking eagerly towards our decrepit future, all embraced by the distinctive, aggressive and progressive Extreme Metal carefully (and furiously) crafted by this four-piece Black Metal entity who has been on a constant rise since their inception in 2007, having already carved their name in the history of Australian underground metal.

The piercing riffage by Dale and Mark ignites the furious Beleaguered, leaning towards classic Black Metal with James showing no mercy at all for his drum set (and consequently for our necks), but of course presenting the band’s core progressiveness and harmony, and more of their metallic wall of sounds will hammer our cranial skulls in Squall, a lesson in Progressive Black Metal spearheaded by Dale and Mark’s Stygian guitars, with Mitch and James generating a menacing atmosphere with their infernal kitchen. Then we have Avalanche, which as the name already states is an avalanche of old school Black Metal the likes of Dark Funeral and the early days of Enslaved infused with Progressive Black and Doom Metal, with Dale sounding like a creature from the abyss with his demonic gnarls, and you better get ready for another fulminating exhibit of the band’s undisputed talent and deep passion for Extreme Metal in Erupt, a mid-tempo feast of Black and Doom Metal where James provides hellish but at the same time very detailed beats throughout the entire song.

Time for a one-way voyage to the pits of the underworld to the sound of the 8-minute aria Crave, where all band members are on fire with their razor-edged riffs, rumbling bass punches and crisp drums, therefore inspiring you to bang your head nonstop and succumb to their otherworldly, venomous music; whereas atmospheric sounds are suddenly enfolded by an incendiary riffage in Monuments, where Dale couldn’t have sounded more bestial on vocals, resulting in the the epitome of Australian Black Metal, sounding and feeling menacing and thrilling form start to finish. In the vile and grim Dethrone the band brings forward their classic sonority with James delivering sheer brutality on drums accompanied by the once again flammable riffs and solos by the band’s guitar duo, albeit a bit generic compared to the rest of the album, and last but not least Vyrion darken the skies one final time with Infect, starting in a Stygian way before morphing into a neck-breaking Black Metal hymn where James once again takes the lead with his unstoppable drumming until the song’s cryptic ending.

After all is said and done, the hellish, blackened sounds blasted by Vyrion in Nil definitely deserve our respect and appreciation, as those Australian black metallers are not only extremely talented and focused, but the way they managed to transform such interesting concept into extreme music is also beyond outstanding. Hence, keep an eye on all things Vyrion by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and grab your copy of Nil from their own BandCamp page to show your true support to Black Metal from Down Under. As it seems like humanity will never learn with the mistakes and issues that caused civilizations to crumble into pieces throughout history, there’s nothing left for us to do but to enjoy the first-class, eye-opening Black Metal played by bands like Vyrion, pointing to a bright future for such amazing Australian horde and, unfortunately, to an even darker and more frightening destiny for our rotten and decaying world.

Best moments of the album: Squall, Erupt and Monuments.

Worst moments of the album: Dethrone.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Beleaguered 6:25
2. Squall 4:57
3. Avalanche 6:25
4. Erupt 3:18
5. Crave 8:01
6. Monuments 6:49
7. Dethrone 6:42
8. Infect 5:24

Band members
Dale Williams – vocals, lead guitars
Mark Boyce – guitars
Mitch Rogers – bass, vocals
James Daly – drums

Album Review – Depravity / Grand Malevolence (2020)

Get ready to be stunned by one of the most devastating albums of 2020, showcasing a solid fusion of masterful songwriting and skull-smashing brutality executed with blinding speed and power.

After releasing their groundbreaking debut album Evil Upheaval in 2018, Perth, Australia-based Death Metal horde Depravity are taking things to the next level on their new album, beautifully entitled Grand Malevolence, one of the most devastating albums of 2020. Technically evolved, showcasing a solid fusion of masterful songwriting and skull-smashing brutality executed with blinding speed and power, and embraced by an ass-kicking artwork by Russian artist Alex Tartsus (Sepulchral Curse, De Profundis), Grand Malevolence is a testament to the best expression this style holds, showcasing facets of the sub-genres without allowing it to dilute the overall intensity and momentum, all thanks to the undeniable talent by Jamie Kay (Inanimacy, The Ritual Aura) on vocals, Lynton Cessford (Entrails Eradicated) and Jarrod Curly (Malignant Monster) on the guitars, Ainsley Watkins (Scourge) on bass and Louis Rando (Impiety, The Furor) on drums, turning it into a must-have for admirers of the pummeling Death Metal blasted by giants such as Suffocation, Morbid Angel, Nile, Spawn of Possession, Gorgasm and Immolation, just to name a few.

Indulging Psychotic Thoughts is gruesome and devastating form the very first second, where Jamie doesn’t waste any time and begins barking deeply accompanied by the machine gun-like drums by Louis in an awesome display of classic Death Metal, and the band keeps blasting sheer animosity and vile sounds in the title-track Grand Malevolence, with the band’s guitar duo Lynton and Jarrod showcasing all their passion for extreme shredding while Louis continues to impress with his demented drumming. Then get ready to have your spinal cord smashed to tiny pieces in Invalid Majesty, where Depravity invite us all to kill into the circle pit, with Jamie sounding even more inhumane with both his deep guttural and deranged screams, not to mention the song’s wicked guitar solos; whereas investing in a Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel-inspired sonority the quintet fires the obscure and visceral Cantankerous Butcher, an ode to all things Death Metal where Aisnley’s bass jabs and Louis’ vicious beats provide Jamie all he needs to vociferate demonically. If you think Depravity are tired of so much violence, they continue their immoral path of devastation in Trophies of Inhumanity, another brutal creation by the quintet showcasing Lynton and Jarrod’s usual guitar duel, firing depraved riffs and solos amidst a hurricane of blast beats and evil gnarls.

Depravity Grand Malevolence Wooden Coffin-Shaped CD Box Set (Limited to 100)

Sounding like a stone crusher from hell, the band smashes everything and everyone that crosses their way in Castrate the Perpetrators, a song led by the destructive riffs by the band’s ruthless guitarists perfect for cracking your neck in half headbanging like a maniac, followed by The Coming of the Hammering, carrying a stunning name for a devastating sound by Depravity, obviously living up to the legacy of old school Death Metal without sounding outdated at all, where Jamie and Louis are in absolute sync with their respective roars and infernal beats. After such intense tune, it’s time more insanity and violence in the form of putrid Death Metal made in Australia in Barbaric Eternity, where those guys sound unstoppable and merciless with their killing instruments, not to mention I have no idea how Louis managed to stay so violent throughout the whole album. Anyway, are you tired already? Because Depravity still have a lot of fuel to burn starting with Hallucination Aflame, presenting their usual sonic devastation full of fulminating beats and fills, scorching riffs and rumbling bass lines, followed by the somber Epitome of Extinction, where the band delivers tons of groove and intricacy before going mental once again, with Ainsley giving a lesson in groove on bass. And lastly, an atmospheric, phantasmagorical start permeates the air, suddenly exploding into their venomous Death Metal in Ghosts in the Void, where Lynton and Jarrod take the lead with their neck-breaking riffage, therefore putting a beyond violent ending to the album.

It’s time to slam into the pit to the fulminating Death Metal blasted by Depravity, and in order to do so simply go check what those depraved metallers from Down Under are up to on Facebook and on Instagram, and above all, purchase your copy of the insane Grand Malevolence from their own BandCamp page, from the Transcending Obscuity Records’ webstore by clicking HERE or HERE (and if I were you, I would definitely go for the Wooden Coffin-Shaped CD Box Set, limited to 100 copies in coffin-shaped wooden box with engraving of the band logo and containing a12-panel inverted cross-shaped digipak CD with metallic effect and embossing, an autographed certificate, a gold logo patch, a fridge magnet and a badge), from Apple Music or from Amazon. Depravity are ready to smash us all like a beast with Grand Malevolence, proving once and for all Death Metal will always remain strong, vile, gory and, of course, brutal.

Best moments of the album: Grand Malevolence, Cantankerous Butcher and The Coming of the Hammering.

Worst moments of the album: Hallucination Aflame.

Released in 2020 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Indulging Psychotic Thoughts 4:08
2. Grand Malevolence 3:25
3. Invalid Majesty 4:17
4. Cantankerous Butcher 4:43
5. Trophies of Inhumanity 5:03
6. Castrate the Perpetrators 5:02
7. The Coming of the Hammering 5:34
8. Barbaric Eternity 3:04
9. Hallucination Aflame 3:51
10. Epitome of Extinction 4:36
11. Ghosts in the Void 5:24

Band members
Jamie Kay – vocals
Lynton Cessford – guitar
Jarrod Curly – guitar
Ainsley Watkins – bass
Louis Rando – drums

Album Review – AC/DC / PWRϟUP (2020)

The greatest Hard rock band of all time returns after the most turbulent period in their career with a brand new (and absolutely powered up) album as a tribute to the deceased Malcom Young.

“This record is pretty much a dedication to Malcolm, my brother. It’s a tribute for him like Back in Black was a tribute to Bon Scott.” – Angus Young, on PWRϟUP

Following the not-so-good 2014 album Rock or Bust and several internal issues with the band, including the passing of co-founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young in 2017, Australian Hard Rock titans AC/DC seem to be back on track after such turbulent period in their career with the excellent PWRϟUP, also known as Power Up (or even PWR/UP if you prefer), their sixteenth internationally released studio album and the seventeenth to be released in Australia. Featuring a minimalist but sharp artwork by renowned London, UK-based CG artist Ben Ib, and with every track being credited to the band’s masterminds Angus and Malcolm Young (as Angus raided the AC/DC vault of unreleased songs to record the album), PWRϟUP not only marks the return of vocalist Brian Johnson, drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams, all of whom left AC/DC before, during or after the supporting tour for their previous album, rejoining Angus and his other brother Stevie Young on rhythm guitar, but it’s also their first album since 1985’s Fly on the Wall to not include a track containing the word “rock” in the title and the first album since 1988’s Blow Up Your Video to not include a title-track.

As soon as the opening track Realize begins, you already know it’s classic AC/DC right from Angus’ very first note, or in other words, a good old Rock N’ Roll tune perfect for hitting the road where Phil is precise as usual on drums. Moreover,  it’s indeed a true pleasure seeing Brian back where he belongs, which is also the case in Rejection, slightly slower but just as electrifying as the opening tune, a song that will please all fans of the band for sure showcasing Angus and Stevie in perfect sync, not to mention the spot-on, old school backing vocals by Stevie and Cliff. Then we have Shot in the Dark, the AC/DC we’ve all been waiting for, going straight to the point with no shenanigans nor any artificial elements. Needless to say, Angus is once again flawless with his unique riffs and solos throughout the entire song, whereas Through the Mists of Time will take you on a journey back to the 80’s, led by Brian’s trademark raspy vocals and Phil’s steady beats. Put differently, don’t listen to it at home, but only in your car on your favorite highway, alright? Anyway, in the beautifully titled Kick You When You’re Down the music keeps up with what it “promises” in the song’s name, bringing to our ears the strident riffage by Angus and Stevie supported by the heavy kitchen by Cliff and Phil; and sounding like it was taken from one of their classic albums, Witch’s Spell is an amazing tune where Brian is yet again a beast on vocals, while Angus makes sure we keep banging our heads and raising our horns in the name of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll.

Speeding things up and turning up the heat, AC/DC offer our avid ears the electrifying Demon Fire, the epitome of their undisputed Rock N’ Roll that will make your hearts beat faster during their live performances while Angus mesmerizes us as usual with his devilish riffage. In Wild Reputation they get back to a more classic sonority, with all band members providing Brian exactly what he needs to deliver more of his unique vocals, followed by No Man’s Land, by far the weakest of all songs in Power Up. It’s still classic AC/DC with some Southern Rock influences, but it gets tiresome and falls flat after a while, with not even Angus being inspired in this case. Systems Down offers our ears another round of their trademark riffs, beats and truck driver-inspired vocals, keeping the album at a very good level of adrenaline (albeit not as awesome as the rest of the album), not to mention how effective the backing vocals are in supporting Brian, while the second to last explosion of Rock N’ Roll by Brian, Angus & Co. comes in the form of Money Shot, where Angus is not only amazing with his riffs, but his solo is also mesmerizing, and with Cliff bringing his dosage of groove through his wicked bass lines. Lastly, presenting a darker and more badass sound, Code Red is a great option for banging our heads nonstop together with Angus while he slashes his guitar in great fashion, resulting in a beer-drinking tune that puts a rockin’ ending to such old school album.

If you’re a longtime fan of AC/DC, you can go ahead and purchase your favorite copy of the album by clicking HERE or HERE without even listening to a single song from it, but in case you want to do a test-drive before making a decision you can stream PWRϟUP in full on YouTube and on Spotify, also keeping updated will all things AC/DC on Facebook and on Instagram, and listening to more of their undisputed rock music on YouTube and on Spotify. Most bands wouldn’t survive such dark times experienced by AC/DC since 2014, but who are we to question the power of the riff by Mr. Angus Young? I have absolutely no idea if PWRϟUP will be their last album ever, if Angus had to release it in the memory of his deceased brother before calling it quits, or if it’s just the beginning of a new era for the band. All I know is that PWRϟUP rocks, and if that’s by any chance their farewell studio album, let’s say Angus and the boys are going down in style, making Malcom really proud of his family wherever he might be.

Best moments of the album: Realize, Shot in the Dark, Witch’s Spell and Demon Fire.

Worst moments of the album: No Man’s Land and Systems Down.

Released in 2020 Sony Music

Track listing
1. Realize 3:37
2. Rejection 4:06
3. Shot in the Dark 3:06
4. Through the Mists of Time 3:32
5. Kick You When You’re Down 3:10
6. Witch’s Spell 3:42
7. Demon Fire 3:30
8. Wild Reputation 2:54
9. No Man’s Land 3:39
10. Systems Down 3:12
11. Money Shot 3:05
12. Code Red 3:31

Band members
Brian Johnson – lead vocals
Angus Young – lead guitar
Stevie Young – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Cliff Williams – bass guitar, backing vocals
Phil Rudd – drums, percussion

Album Review – Resin Tomb / Resin Tomb EP (2020)

A newborn Australian quartet offers in their debut effort a thrilling blend of dissonant Death Metal with flesh-ripping Black Metal and visceral grind madness.

Formed just two years ago by members of the underground Australian bands Hell Sounds, Descent and Snorlax, the furious Brisbane, Australia-based Death Metal/Grindcore unity Resin Tomb is unleashing upon us their debut self-titled EP, offering a blend of dissonant, intricate and soul-crushing Death Metal with flesh-ripping Black Metal and visceral grind madness at times as their signature sound, exuding a vibe not too far removed from one of their other projects, Snorlax. Recorded and mixed at Black Blood Audio, mastered by Simon at Empty Hall Studio, and featuring an old school, cadaverous artwork by Ethan Lee McCarthy (from bands like Primitive Man and Vermin Womb), the EP will decimate your senses with its five grotesque tracks full of bestial and serpentine riffs coupled with a skull-crushing percussion and guttural vocals, showcasing how vile the Dissonant Death Grind played by vocalist Matthew Budge, guitarist Brendan Auld, bassist Mitch Long and drummer Perry Vedelago can be.

Get ready to be smashed like an insect by Resin Tomb in the eerie and acid opening track Abrogate, blending the savagery of Grindcore with the obscurity of Black Metal while Matthew gnarls rabidly and Brendan cuts your skin deep with hi riffs, whereas Penance is even more devastating, sinister and atmospheric, presenting an amazing job done by Perry with his intricate and demonic beats, while Mirch’s bass generates a thunderous background perfect for the piercing roars by Mathew, therefore resulting in a lesson in contemporary Death and Black Metal infused with Deathcore elements. Then the strident riffs by Brendan ignite the also menacing Surfacing, an infernal Black Metal extravaganza spearheaded by the crushing drums by Perry while Matthew’s gruesome gnarls penetrate deep inside your psyche; and rumbling, vicious guitars and bass lines permeate the air in the short and absolutely violent Prostrated, with Brendan once again firing sheer darkness and wrath through his riffs, accompanied by the pounding beats by Perry and the always hellish growls by Matthew. And last but not least we have Bestial, where the name of the song says it all, bringing to our avid ears a brutal and of course bestial display of extreme music displaying the most visceral elements from Black and Death Metal. Furthermore, Brendan and Mitch are on fire with their stringed weapons, providing Matthew all he needs to shine with his deranged screams and gnarls, ending the album on a truly demented note.

Not only you can show your support to this sinister, up-and-coming horde from Australia by listening to their debut EP in full on YouTube and on Spotify, but you can (and should) also purchase a copy of it from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Brilliant Emperor Records’ BandCamp page or webstore in LP format or as an LP + longsleeve shirt bundle, or from Amazon. Also, don’t forget to give the boys a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, keeping up to date with their upcoming releases, live concerts (whenever this COVID-19 madness is over, of course) and other nice-to-know details about the band, keeping the flames of extreme music burning bright in the always prolific Australian metal scene.

Best moments of the album: Penance and Bestial.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Brilliant Emperor Records

Track listing
1. Abrogate 1:53
2. Penance 3:02
3. Surfacing 3:59
4. Prostrated 1:35
5. Bestial 5:16

Band members
Matthew Budge – vocals
Brendan Auld – guitars
Mitch Long – bass
Perry Vedelago – drums

Album Review – Mazikeen / The Solace of Death (2020)

A beastly album of Symphonic Death and Black Metal from Australia that proves death can be comforting when enfolded by first-class extreme music.

What started in 2013 in Melbourne, Australia as a solo project by guitarist Andrew Shiells with the help from Chris Meyer (from Australian Black Metal act Aberration Nexus), who recorded some drums and synths for the project’s first demo tracks, has evolved to a much bolder and multi-layered beast in recent years, blasting a crushing hybrid of Symphonic Death and Black Metal with other extreme styles such as Melodic Death Metal and old school Black Metal. I’m talking about Mazikeen (based on the Hebrew word “mazzikim”, meaning “harmful spirits”), an infernal horde comprised of the aforementioned Andrew Shiells and his henchmen James Edmeades (Claret Ash) on vocals, Kris Marchant on the guitars, Aretstikapha (Plasmodium, Klavierkrieger) on piano and synths, and Marco Pitrruzzella (Six Feet Under, Sleep Terror) on drums, who are unleashing upon us their first full-length opus titled The Solace of Death, featuring eight original songs and four insane cover tracks throughout impressive 67 minutes of music, all embraced by the stylish and sinister artwork by Australian artist Jamie Ludbrooke.

An eerie, phantasmagorical intro evolves into a feast of symphonic and dark sounds in the opening track The Solace Of Death, where Marco is absolutely infernal with his blast beats while James delivers his Dani Filth/Shagrath-inspired roars and gnarls, supported by the imposing synths by Andrew and Aretstikapha, whereas in Apostate it’s time for ten minutes of Symphonic Black Metal infused with Doom and Melodic Death Metal nuances where the guitars by Kris and Andrew sound sharp and very harmonious just the way we like it in extreme music. Brutal and enthralling form start to finish, this great composition lives up to the legacy of bands like Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and Carpathian Forest, which can also be said about Vexation Through The Golden Sun, even more obscure, violent and epic than its predecessors, spearheaded by the insane drums by Marco while his bandmates make sure every empty space in the air is filled with darkness and evil, resulting in a lecture in modern-day Symphonic Black Metal full of breaks and variations, Stygian passages and even some serene, acoustic moments for our total delight. And featuring guest vocals by Josh Young (Astral Winter, Atra Vetosus), Mazikeen go full Scandinavian Black Metal in Fractricide, inspired by the trailblazers of the genre such as Mayhem and Emperor, blasting a demolishing sonority that will make your head tremble nonstop.

Josh returns with his wicked gnarls in the melancholic and somber Psychotic Reign, starting in a Gothic Metal-ish vibe while also presenting elements from Atmospheric Black Metal in its core essence. Moreover, I personally love the paradox created between Marco’s stone crushing beats and all background keys and symphonic elements, giving the whole song and extra touch of eccentricity, flowing into the cryptic and atmospheric instrumental bridge Harrowing Cessation, which also develops into a romantic instrumental ballad entitled MORS VINCIT OMNIA, or “death conquers all” from Latin, where the strength and depth of the piano notes take the lead and guide the music until its inevitable and grim ending. And in the last original song from the album, Cerulean Last Night, Mazikeen get back to a more ferocious and visceral mode, uniting the most piercing elements from old school Black Metal and contemporary Symphonic Black Metal spiced up by the visceral guest vocals by Ian McLean (The Maledict).

The last batch of songs in The Solace of Death is the band’s own tribute to their biggest idols and influences, starting with Mayhem’s Freezing Moon, originally released in the 1994 cult album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (check the original version HERE), with Mazikeen’s version featuring the vicious vocals by guest Ashahalasin (Inhuman Remnants, Somnium Nox) infernally complemented by the pulverizing drums by Marco, followed by Disection’s Night’s Blood, from the 1995 album Storm of the Light’s Bane, as bestial as the original song with Kris and Andrew delivering sheer electricity and rage through their scorching riffs. Then we have a cover for Dimmu Borgir’s Mourning Palace, from the 1997 album Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (you can listen to the original one HERE), where James does a fantastic job on vocals accompanied by the whimsical keys and synths by Andrew and Aretstikapha. And finally, Ashahalasin returns for their cover song for Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger, from the 1994 album Transilvanian Hunger, as raw and malevolent as the original tune, with Marco once again taking the lead firing endless dementia and wrath from his blast beats.

You can enjoy this precious gem of Australian Black Metal in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and also grab your copy of the album from the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page, from the Iron, Blood & Death Corporation’s BandCamp page, from Apple Music, or click HERE for all options where you can buy or stream the album. Mazikeen can also be found on Facebook, where you can know more about the band, their tour dates, their music and plans for the future, proudly carrying the flag of Black Metal wherever they go. In a nutshell, Andrew and his horde from Mazikeen nailed it in The Solace of Death, showing us all that death can be indeed comforting, especially if enfolded by a good amount of first-class Black Metal like the sonic devastation blasted by such distinct band hailing from the always inspiring Australia.

Best moments of the album: Vexation Through The Golden Sun, Fractricide and Night’s Blood.

Worst moments of the album: Harrowing Cessation.

Released in 2020 Satanath Records/Iron, Blood & Death Corporation

Track listing
1. The Solace Of Death 6:57
2. Apostate 10:05
3. Vexation Through The Golden Sun 10:46
4. Fractricide 4:54
5. Psychotic Reign 7:00
6. Harrowing Cessation 2:30
7. MORS VINCIT OMNIA 2:59
8. Cerulean Last Night 7:34
9. Freezing Moon (Mayhem cover) 6:36
10. Night’s Blood (Dissection cover) 7:10
11. Mourning Palace (Dimmu Borgir cover) 5:36
12. Transilvanian Hunger (Darkthrone cover) 5:36

Band members
James Edmeades – vocals
Kris Marchant – guitars
Andrew Shiells – guitars, synths
Aretstikapha – piano, synths
Marco Pitrruzzella – drums

Guest musicians
Josh Young – vocals on “Fractricide” and “Psychotic Reign”
Ian McLean – vocals on “Cerulean Last Night”
Ashahalasin – vocals on “Freezing Moon” and “Transilvanian Hunger”

Album Review – Klendathu / Ad Nauseam EP (2020)

Bang your head to the debut EP by an Australian one-man band with a huge focus on artistic expressionism, animal rights, veganism and the inevitability of the planet’s decline.

The name Klendathu, which means means “triangular” in the Zulu language, is the homeworld of the creatures known as the Arachnids from the 1997 cult movie Starship Troopers, while the expression “ad nauseam” is a Latin term for argument or other discussion that has continued to the point of nausea. However, when you put those two together the result is a Melbourne, Australia-based Blackened Death Metal/Dark Metal one-man project entitled Klendathu, formed in the beginning of 2020 by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Scott Masson, the lead singer for Metalcore/Deathcore act He Who Seeks Vengeance and more recently for Death Metal band Apocalyptian, both already reviewed at The Headbanging Moose. With a huge focus on artistic expressionism and with its lyrical content inspired by our ecological footprint, environmental issues, animal rights, veganism and the inevitability of the planet’s decline, the project’s debut EP Ad Nauseam will surely please fans of the music by Behemoth, Gorgoroth, Cannibal Corpse, Sylosis, Six Feet Under and Sepultura, among many others, while at the same time sending a strong message to everyone who still thinks our decaying world is doing just fine.

Scott, who’s by the way a very proud vegan and animal rights activist and environmentalist, has already hinted at that theme in his previous records with He Who Seeks Vengeance (They Will Speak Of The Ghosts That We Became, released in 2019) and Apocalyptian (Citizens Of The Apocalypse, released earlier this year), but it’s with Klendathu that Scott finally has all the freedom to be himself and express how he feels about the current state of things. In addition, just to give you an idea of how personal the album is, everything in the album was recorded by Scott himself, with the exception of the mixing part which was done by an electronic producer named Kibosh, and the final result is indeed very personal, heavy and dark.

An ominous intro grows in intensity until dark and damned sounds invade our senses in Denying The Birth, where Scott fires Doom Metal-inspired riffs and infernal blast beats while screaming like a rabid beast, reminding me of old school Behemoth with some phantasmagorical background elements to add an extra kick to it. Then once again demolishing everything and everyone with his insane beats and riffage, Scott vociferates and barks nonstop in Anger Awakening, presenting hints of the Thrash and Groove Metal by Sepultura from their Roots-era while keeping Klendathu’s core obscurity intact, followed by Bargaining The New Revelation, the most vicious and devastating of all songs, with Scott doing a great job with his harsh roars and thunderous bass and drums, therefore  generating a reverberating sound that will crush your skull mercilessly, all spiced up by teen activist Greta Thunberg’s famous one-liner “How dare you!” and other parts of her speech during the UN climate summit in New York on September 23, 2019. After such bold and dense tune, Scott adds nuances of devilish Blackened Doom to his already scorching sonority in The Prelude Depression, where you can easily feel all the anguish and hatred flowing from his demented screams while the song’s keys and piano notes give the overall result a touch of finesse. And last but not least, more groovy and enraged sounds permeate the air in Accepting The End, with Scott going full Death Metal on vocals and firing crisp guitar riffs and solos. Moreover, its modern-day Black Metal-like drums are the ultimate proof that this incendiary song couldn’t have sounded more austere than what it already is.

You can follow Scoot and his very interesting Klendathu on Facebook, showing your appreciation not only for his music but also for his fight for animal rights and his efforts against all environmental issues we’ve been facing in the past few decades, and of course purchase his debut opus Ad Nauseam directly from his BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music and from Amazon, or stream the EP in full on YouTube and on Spotify. In the end, as long as you bang your head to Klendathu’s flammable music while doing your part in trying to make this world a better place, I’m sure guys like Scott will feel utterly inspired to keep crafting meaningful heavy music for many years to come. That, of course, if the world as we know it doesn’t come to an end first.

Best moments of the album: Bargaining The New Revelation and Accepting The End.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Denying The Birth 6:19
2. Anger Awakening 4:52
3. Bargaining The New Revelation 5:27
4. The Prelude Depression 5:52
5. Accepting The End 5:02

Band members
Scott Masson – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Wardaemonic / Acts of Repentance (2020)

Hailing from Western Australia, an infernal horde returns with more of their ancient and inscrutable Black Metal in the form of the mightiest album of their career.

Back from the hellish pits of Perth, Western Australia with the mightiest album of their career, the excellent Acts of Repentance, a ruthless Black Metal horde known as Wardaemonic has gone from strength to strength in their new album, incorporating slower, dissonant parts that work brilliantly when contrasted with their trademark “ancient and inscrutable Black Metal”. Furthermore, the band comprised of Maelstrom on vocals and drums, Anharat and Lord Bane on the guitars and Blitz on bass and synths offers fans of the music by iconic names such as Immortal, Marduk, Watain and Dark Funeral, among others, everything we crave in classic Black Metal, feeling uncompromising and steely in its approach while backed with enough experience to make the entire album memorable and also intriguing for the listener to keep coming back to it for more. Featuring a sulfurous artwork by French artist Leoncio Harmr (Eternal Storm) and layout by Finnish artist Turkka Rantanen (Paganizer, Demilich), Acts of Repentance is not only a fantastic addition to the band’s discography, marking their fourth full-length opus and the follow-up to their 2015 installment Obsequium, but also a must-have release for anyone who respects and admires underground Black Metal from the bottom of their (evil) hearts.

Dragging our souls to their Stygian Australian lair, the quarter begins their devastating Black Metal onrush in the first of the album’s five acts from hell, Act I – Introspection, where Maelstrom sounds beyond infernal with both his blast beats and devilish vociferations, resulting in a lecture in old school Black Metal clearly inspired by the genre’s infamous Scandinavian sound. Not only that, Anharat and Lord Bane will penetrate deep inside your psyche with their crushing riffage, and if you survive such demented and vicious display of extreme music you better get ready for another ass-kicking tune titled Act II – Admission, offering the listener nine minutes of blackened sounds and cryptic passages where those four black metallers from Down Under don’t stop hammering their instruments for our total delight. Moreover, Blitz makes the earth tremble with his bass lines and diabolical synths, helping the music flow as darkly and aggressively as it can be until the very end.

Then an absolutely atmospheric and phantasmagorical intro ignites the 12-minute aria entitled Act III – Castigation, morphing into a disruptive and evil sonic feast led by Maelstrom and his unstoppable blast beats and also bringing elements of primeval Doom Metal and Blackened Doom to our avid ears, not to mention the strident riffs and endless rage flowing from Maelstrom’s inhumane gnarls, sounding multi-layered, dense and utterly impactful. Another grim and captivating ambience brought forth by Wardaemonic is suddenly replaced by an avalanche of violent Black Metal titled Act IV – Sufferance, where the somber vocalizations by Maelstrom make an interesting paradox with his trademark deep roars while the band’s guitar duo continues to breathe fire from their stringed weapons. And ending the album in the most brutal and demolishing way we have Act V – Repentance, an unrelenting display of traditional Black Metal infused with Melodic and even Atmospheric Black Metal nuances. Your mind will be destroyed by the stunning riffs by both Anharat and Lord Bane accompanied by Blitz’s thunderous bass punches, concluding the album’s five acts on a truly high note.

Wardaemonic Acts of Repentance Autographed CD Boxset

The gates to the underworld of Australian metal are open once again thanks to Wardaemonic and their wicked new opus Acts of Repentance, available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, and in order to join those talented metallers in their quest for Black Metal simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and purchase your copy of the album from their own BandCamp page, from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in CD format or as an amazing autographed CD boxset, or from Apple Music. After such pulverizing opus of Extreme Metal, I bet you’re eager for more of the music by Wardaemonic, and I’m quite sure we won’t have to wait for another five excruciating years to hear again from one of the most talented and solid metal acts coming from Australia, darkening the skies and our souls with their undisputed Black fuckin’ Metal.

Best moments of the album: Act I – Introspection and Act III – Castigation.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Act I – Introspection 7:15
2. Act II – Admission 8:58
3. Act III – Castigation 12:09
4. Act IV – Sufferance 9:01
5. Act V – Repentance 8:14

Band members
Maelstrom – vocals, drums
Anharat – lead guitars
Lord Bane – guitars
Blitz – bass, synth programming