Concert Review – Nervosa & Destruction (Lee’s Palace, Toronto, ON, 05/01/2022)

The German butchers of Thrash Metal struck back in another diabolical night of heavy music in the city of Toronto.

OPENING VX36 and Sunlord

There’s nothing better than ending another fun weekend and getting ready for a cold and rainy Monday than a night of pure Thrash and Death Metal, and that’s exactly what several Torontonian metalheads were able to enjoy last night at Lee’s Palace thanks to the ruthless Diabolical North American Tour 2022, with the bands VX36, SUNLORD, NERVOSA and the iconic DESTRUCTION offering their fans exactly what they needed to slam into the pit and raise their horns nonstop. The first band to hit the stage was Geyserville, California-based Thrash/Groove Metal band VX36, led by vocalist and guitarist Nate Klug, who inspired all thrashers at the venue to bang their heads to great songs such as Satan’s Fury and Blood War. That was an excellent start to the night, and I just wish the band had new material to present as everything they played, despite being awesome, was from over seven years ago I believe.

Band members
Nate Klug – vocals, guitar
Gage Higgins – lead guitar, vocals
Nick Altenburg – bass
John Lorence – drums

After a really, really quick break, it was time for Jackson Heights, New York’s own Heavy/Speed Metal trio SUNLORD to kick some ass on stage. Comprised of vocalist, guitarist and founder Alfonso Ferrazza, bassist Ashely Wells and drummer Lamar Little, the band delivered a solid show including the fun songs Forbidden Witch and Turn Me Loose, with Lamar stealing the spotlight with a beyond professional and thrilling performance behind his drums, adding an extra touch of groove and heaviness to the band’s music. In the end, Sunlord might not be as thrash as the other bands from the night, but they definitely proved why they were chosen to open for Nervosa and Destruction with their energy and passion for heavy music.

Band members
Alfonso Ferrazza – vocals, guitars
Ashely Wells – bass
Lamar Little – drums

NERVOSA

Finally, after years and years waiting, I was able to see for the first time ever the all-female thrashing machine NERVOSA pulverizing everything and everyone live on stage. One of the most multinational bands of the current metal scene, as the band is now formed of Spanish frontwoman Diva Satanica, Brazilian guitarist and founder Prika Amaral, Italian bassist Mia Wallace and Greek drummer Eleni Nota, the quartet was infernal with their fusion of Death and Thrash Metal from start to finish, with the stunning Diva Satanica not only showcasing a breathtaking vocal performance, but her stage presence was also a thing of beauty. Still promoting their 2021 opus  Perpetual Chaos, Nervosa made a lot of awesome noise playing songs the likes of Kill the Silence, Masked Betrayer, Into Moshpit, Guided By Evil and Under Ruins, as well as my favorite ones of the night, Genocidal Command, Time to Fight and Rebel Soul, where not only Diva Satanica was flawless on vocals, but Prika, Mia and Eleni were also smashing their instruments in great fashion. I just wish the girls had some time to interact with their fans at their booth (which apparently was reduced to just a few random items as their shirts couldn’t be delivered on time), but again, what really matters is what they do on stage, and they more than succeeded by inflicting that nice pain in our necks due to all headbanging involved.

Band members
Diva Satanica – lead vocals
Prika Amaral – guitar, backing vocals
Mia Wallace – bass
Eleni Nota – drums

DESTRUCTION

Another short break and there they were, German Thrash Metal institution DESTRUCTION, ready to show everyone at Lee’s Palace what old school thrash is all about. Anything I say about the band’s frontman and mastermind Schmier won’t be enough to depict his energy, his charisma and his onstage performance, kicking ass from the very first second and showing absolutely no mercy for our souls armed with his metallic bass and raspy vocals. Blending classics the likes of Nailed to the Cross, Born to Perish, Mad Butcher, Thrash Till Death, Bestial Invasion and The Butcher Strikes Back with songs from their recently released album Diabolical, including the amazing title-track and the pulverizing No Faith in Humanity, Schmier and his henchmen Damir Eskić and Martin Furia on the guitars and Canadian beast Randy Black on drums gave a lecture in Thrash Metal to their fans, showing why they’ve been alive and kicking since their inception in the distant year of 1983. By the way, close to the end of the show, Schmier had some very nice words to say about a guy that was present at the venue who was their first ever North American fan, being the first person in the US and Canada to purchase their 1984 demo Bestial Invasion of Hell. That was a really cool moment, and that guy, who was not too far from where I was standing, seemed deeply touched by such amazing tribute by one of his favorite bands of all time. That’s pure Thrash Metal, and after all was said and done (already past midnight, by the way), we were all certain those Teutonic metallers will return to destroy Toronto once again in a not-so-distant future.

Band members
Schmier – vocals, bass
Damir Eskić – lead guitars
Martin Furia – guitars
Randy Black – drums

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Album Review – Dark Zodiak / Ophiuchus (2021)

These Teutonic bringers of Death and Thrash Metal are ready to smash us all to the sound of their third full-length album, translating into extreme music the thirteenth sign of the zodiac.

Thrilling live shows, a crushing sound, direct interaction with the crowd and an incendiary fusion of Thrash and Death Metal forged from whipping riffs, vicious drums and thunderous female growls. That’s exactly what Eggingen, Germany-based squad Dark Zodiak stands for, leading the band to rock all over Germany and Europe and to share the stage with renowned acts such as Tankard, Debauchery and Eluveitie, among many others, since their inception in 2011. After the releases of their 2011 debut demo Throwing Stones, followed by the full-length albums See You in Hell, from 2014, and Landscapes of Our Soul, from 2017, it’s time for frontwoman Simone Schwarz, guitarists Charly Gak and Benni Poeck, bassist Steffi Bergmann and drummer Dieter Schwarz to smash our skulls once again with their third installment, the heavy and furious Ophiuchus, the thirteenth sign of the zodiac. A large constellation straddling the celestial equator, having its name taken from the Greek Ὀφιοῦχος (Ophioukhos, or “serpent-bearer”), Ophiuchus is a lesson in underground extreme music, showcasing a band that’s not only extremely talented, but that also nurtures a deep passion for Death and Thrash Metal presented as 48 minutes of music split into the ten unrelenting, organic and honest tracks.

A sinister intro evolves into the thrashing beast Do More Say Less, with Simone providing her welcome card through her guttural, she-demon vocals, while Charly and Benni fire razor-edge Death Metal riffs nonstop, and it’s time for Dieter to smash his drums rabidly in the fast and furious Heaven, Earth And Beneath, showcasing a perfect combination of the instrumental madness from Thrash Metal with the vile growling from Death Metal, consequently inspiring us all to smash our skulls into the circle pit. Their sick and violent display of Death and Thrash Metal goes on in Invisible Apocalypse, where Simone invests in some demented Deathslam-inspired screeches while Steffi and Dieter make sure the ambience remains as dense as possible with their infernal kitchen; whereas the obscure vociferations by Simone kick off the infernal Ophiuchus, sounding as if Exodus went full Death Metal and presenting a great job done once again by the band’s guitar duo with their dirty riffs and solos, resulting in over seven minutes of ass-kicking metal with atmospheric passages and endless rage. Then another round of their unstoppable beats, crushing riffage and devilish roars is offered to our ears in the form of Destroy Destruction, a classic Death Metal tune with Dieter showcasing all his dexterity and insanity behind his drums.

The band’s blazing guitars will slash your ears in the also violent, headbanging tune Humor, where Simone’s deep growls walk hand in hand with the classic beats by Dieter, resulting in a solid and entertaining display of old school Death Metal, followed by From Thrash Till Death, once again bringing to our avid ears a pulverizing fusion of Thrash and Death Metal spearheaded by the scorching riffs by Charly and Benni during its three minutes of music tailored for banging our heads like true maniacs. The lyrics in 2020 A.D. couldn’t have represented better the current (and shitty) state of our world, while musically speaking it’s a mid-tempo, hammering extravaganza where Steffi’s bass (together with Dieter’s drums) will make your head tremble in great Death Metal fashion; and after a quick intro, Total Freedom explodes into pure Death Metal in their second to last breath of violence, and you better get ready to growl and gnarl together with Simone during the entire song, not to mention the heaviness of the pounding beats by Dieter. Lastly, blending the gory sound of Cannibal Corpse with the thrashing madness of Exodus and Nuclear Assault the band offers us all Ignorance, a great choice to close the album showcasing Simone’s vicious and demonic growling and the always thrilling drums by Dieter from start to finish, leaving us disoriented but absolutely eager for more of their music in the future.

After all is said and done, we must all admit Dark Zodiak did a damn good job throughout the entire album, offering our ears humongous dosages of savagery, dexterity and passion for extreme music. Hence, we should all hail those Teutonic bringers of Death and Thrash Metal by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by streaming more of their music on Spotify, and by grabbing a copy of Ophiuchus from their own website, from their BandCamp page, and soon enough from other retailers like Apple Music and Amazon. And may the stars of our beloved Death and Thrash Metal keep guiding Dark Zodiak in their quest for total annihilation, celebrating heavy music with more ass-kicking releases like Ophiuchus.

Best moments of the album: Heaven, Earth And Beneath, Ophiuchus and Ignorance.

Worst moments of the album: Total Freedom.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Do More Say Less 5:49
2. Heaven, Earth And Beneath 4:04
3. Invisible Apocalypse 3:45
4. Ophiuchus 7:18
5. Destroy Destruction 4:40
6. Humor 5:16
7. From Thrash Till Death 3:03
8. 2020 A.D. 4:52
9. Total Freedom 5:27
10. Ignorance 3:57

Band members
Simone Schwarz – vocals
Charly Gak – guitar
Benni Poeck – guitar
Steffi Bergmann – bass
Dieter Schwarz – drums

Album Review – War Agenda / Propaganda (2020)

Join those Teutonic thrashers in their quest for heavy music to the sound of their sophomore album, bringing to our ears a collection of rebellious anthems inspired by the glory of the 80’s and 90’s.

Ready to kill in the name of old school Bay Area Thrash, a Daisbach and Sinsheim, Germany-based horde formed in 2012 that goes by the straightforward name of War Agenda has just unleashed upon humanity their sophomore album, titled Propaganda, a rebellious ode to 80’s and 90’s thrash in the vein of Exodus, Slayer, Testament and Kreator, among others. Featuring an insurgent artwork by Mal Semmens Art, Propaganda has everything a diehard fan of classic Thrash Metal can ask for, from its austere lyrics to raspy vocals and smashing drums, showcasing all the talent of one of the band’s masterminds Ingo on the guitars together with his loyal henchman Hamdi on drums and newcomers Mostafa Troll on vocals, Raafat on the guitar and Marcel on bass. In other words, simply put on your best mask and join those Teutonic thrashers in their quest for heavy music, slamming into the pit and raising your horns to the sound of their visceral creations.

In the intro Sounds of Oppression we’re treated to serene and melancholic acoustic guitars, but of course darkly oppressive, exploding into the title-track Propaganda, where the metallic bass by Marcel will smash your head while Mostafa begins his Bobby Blitz-inspired vocal attack in an old school Bay Area Thrash extravaganza with the band’s own Teutonic twist, perfect for igniting the album’s endless circle pit vibe. Then blending the Speed Metal of Megadeth with the insanity of the early days of Exodus, Ingo and Raafat slash their stringed axes in great fashion firing ass-kicking riffs and solos nonstop in Plan B, a song that will inspire you to bang your head in the name of thrash, followed by Human Race, an acid “tribute” to our rotten society, with Hamdi pounding his drums accompanied by the strident riffage by the band’s guitar duo, spearheaded by Mostafa’s manic declamation of the song’s austere lyrics. And more of their no shenanigans Thrash Metal comes in the form of United in Hypocrisy, a headbanging tune showcasing crushing beats and strident riffs, recommended for slamming into the pit while enjoying a cold beer; whereas Marcel brings forward obscure bass lines in the bold Silence of Justice, before morphing into another feast of classic thrashing sounds the likes of Obituary, Nuclear Assault and Exodus, presenting Ingo and Raafat’s riffage in total sync with Mostafa’s raspy gnarls.

Heavy-as-hell and menacing from the very first second, the quintet brings forth the violent Apartheid, a lesson in 80’s Thrash Metal where Hamdi goes berserk with his wicked beats and fills from start to finish, and it’s time for total anarchy and chaos with the thunderous Chaos Invasion, blending their trademark Thrash Metal with modern-day Groove Metal thanks to the fulminating sounds blasted by Marcel and Hamdi with their unstoppable bass and drums. Then let’s head into the battlefield together with War Agenda in the frantic War of Nations, with Ingo and Raafat taking the lead with their razor-edged riffs while Mostafa vociferates and roars like a true thrashing beast in an awesome display of German Thrash Metal for fans of Kreator. In Killer Disease, despite its dark and venomous feel, the music is not as inspiring as its predecessors, sounding a bit generic I might say. Mostafa continues to bark rabidly while Hamdi smashes his drums with tons of precision, though, and closing such austere album we have Child of Dreams, showcasing a delicate intro before exploding into their classic thrashing sonority where Ingo and Raafat are on fire with their wicked solos, ending the album in a pensive and rebellious way .

You can enjoy Propaganda in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to keep supporting underground Thrash Metal you should purchase the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Great Dane Records’ BandCamp or webstore, from Season of Mist, from Amazon or from Discogs, keeping the band more than inspired to destroy everything that crosses their path with their thrashing music for many years to come. In addition, don’t forget to also follow War Agenda on Facebook, and whenever this never-ending, shitty pandemic is finally over, I’m sure you’ll be the first to know where you can slam into the pit like a true Thrash Metal lover to the music crafted by this talented and ruthless German squad, just the way we all like it in the most rebellious music style in Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Propaganda, Human Race and War of Nations.

Worst moments of the album: Killer Disease.

Released in 2020 Great Dane Records

Track listing
1. Sounds of Oppression 2:10
2. Propaganda 4:03
3. Plan B 4:20
4. Human Race 5:31
5. United in Hypocrisy 3:27
6. Silence of Justice 4:49
7. Apartheid 4:08
8. Chaos Invasion 3:20
9. War of Nations 3:46
10. Killer Disease 4:39
11. Child of Dreams 5:24

Band members
Mostafa Troll – vocals
Ingo – guitars
Raafat – guitars
Marcel – bass
Hamdi – drums

Album Review – Reternity / A Test Of Shadows (2020)

Just one year after the release of their debut album, this German Melodic Heavy Metal outfit returns in full force with a worthy and stronger successor in every way.

Just one year after the release of Facing the Demon and after several successful club shows and festivals, the creative duo consisting of frontman Stefan Zörner and guitarist Carsten Sauter, together with guitarist Oskar Schmidt, bassist Didi Schenk and drummer Suat Gören, collectively known as Heilbronn, Germany-based Melodic Heavy Metal outfit Reternity, are back in full force with their sophomore album entitled A Test of Shadows, a worthy and stronger successor in every way. Produced in cooperation with Jonas Kümmerle at Analog Mixing Studio, A Test Of Shadows brings forward compact songs without unnecessary lengths, always spiced up by the melodic and expressive vocals of Stefan as well as the powerful and original riffs of Carsten, with a musical spectrum ranging from homages to the Speed and Thrash Metal scene of the blissful 80’s to heavy and danceable mid-tempo hymns and neck-breakers, resulting in a sound that should quickly grow on the heart of every friend of melodic, varied metal.

A creepy version to an excerpt from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony NO. 9 in D Minor, OP. 125: IV. Finale: Presto – Allegro Assai – Rezitativo – Allegro Assai sets the stage for Sniper’s Death, where Suat begins crushing his drums in great fashion, offering Stefan all he needs to shine on vocals in a thrilling and heavy-as-hell Melodic Heavy Metal feast, also showcasing Thrash Metal-infused guitars. There’s more of their groovy and smashing riffs in This Is the End, courtesy of the band’s infernal guitar duo Carsten and Oskar supported by Didi’s rumbling bass, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline and exhaling pure metal, and it’s interesting to see how the band has invested a lot more on the thrill and heaviness of classic Heavy Metal this time rather than the melody of their previous release as in My Crush, with Stefan doing a great job declaiming the song’s passionate lyrics. In the title-track A Test of Shadows, a very progressive and dark creation by Reternity, Carsten’s and Oskar’s riffage sounds as razor-edged as possible, with Suat dictating the pace with his intricate beats and fills. Needless to say, this should sound amazing when played live; and  starting with elements from Groove Metal and from the heavier-than-usual rock blasted by Volbeat and Godsmack they offer us all A Grave Called Home, alternating between more introspective, serene moments and obscure, pounding guitars and drums.

Time to put the pedal to the metal once again in (We Were) the Gods, with Stefan’s precise vocal lines being amazingly supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals in a hybrid of classic Heavy Metal with contemporary Melodic Metal, not to mention Suat’s old school beats, and they keep hammering our heads with their fusion of harmony and aggressiveness in Falling Shadows, where Didi once again blasts metallic sounds form his bass while the band’s guitar duo offers our ears Iron Maiden-inspired riffs. In You’ll See the Sun they tried to sound a little bit more stoner or alternative than usual; however, it didn’t work as well as expected, with even Stefan’s vocals sounding uninspired and bland, feeling disconnected from the rest of such amazing album. Fortunately, in No Deeper Hole the boys get back to a more frantic and berserk mode thanks to the smashing drums by Suat and the always incendiary riffs and solos by Carsten and Oskar, and the sheer electricity flowing from all instruments will surely generate some nice circle pits during their live concerts. Lastly, obscure piano notes kick off the somber and melancholic Stranded, created in collaboration with Jazz musician Aljoscha Crema, by far the most personal of all songs where Stefan has another superb performance on vocals, putting a gentle and introspective ending to A Test Of Shadows.

In summary, if you consider yourself a diehard fan of melodic and classic Heavy Metal, I highly recommend you take a shot at A Test Of Shadows, first by streaming the album in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and then, even more important than that, by purchasing the album from your favorite retailer, including the MDD shop, Nuclear Blast, Apple Music and Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow Reternity on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about Stefan, Carsten & Co., as I’m more than sure those German metallers will keep embellishing the airwaves with their refined and extremely pleasant creations for many years to come, just like what they have to offer us in A Test Of Shadows, an album that explains why not only the big German bands like Scorpions and Helloween have conquered the world of heavy music, but also why the underground scene in Germany is by far one of the best in the entire world.

Best moments of the album: (We Were) the Gods, Falling Shadows and No Deeper Hole.

Worst moments of the album: You’ll See the Sun.

Released in 2020 Black Sunset

Track listing
1. Symphony NO. 9 in D Minor, OP. 125: IV. Finale: Presto – Allegro Assai – Rezitativo – Allegro Assai (Intro) 0:19
2. Sniper’s Death 4:08
3. This Is the End 3:21
4. My Crush 4:12
5. A Test of Shadows 4:29
6. A Grave Called Home 5:07
7. (We Were) the Gods 4:11
8. Falling Shadows 4:06
9. You’ll See the Sun 4:29
10. No Deeper Hole 2:47
11. Stranded 5:18

Band members
Stefan Zörner – vocals
Carsten Sauter – guitars
Oskar Schmidt – guitars
Didi Schenk – bass
Suat Gören – drums

Guest musician
Aljoscha Crema – piano on “Stranded”

Album Review – Mindead / Mindead (2019)

Playing a gritty kind of Melodic Groove Metal, this German squad is ready to put Stuttgart on the world map of modern metal music with their brand new album.

Hailing from the beautiful city of Stuttgart, capital of southwest Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state, Thrash/Groove Metal five-piece act Mindead plays a gritty kind of modern metal music with lots of passion and a unique flavor, having quickly established themselves in the local scene surrounding Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart since their inception in 2001. After the release of their debut EP Still Empty in 2004, followed by their first full-length album Abandon All Hope in 2008 (re-released in 2016, by the way) and more recently their sophomore opus Controlling The Tides in 2015, it’s time for Mindead to strike once again with their third installment, self-titled Mindead, a solid statement showing the band has become aware of their own self and that they are proud of what they currently stand for.

And the band comprised of frontman Timo Fielker, guitarists Pablo Mateo and Chris Lohrmann, bassist Benedikt Wagner and drummer Benjamin Hölle had a strong and clear idea of what they wanted to do in their new album, translating that into nine solid and vibrant compositions where the quintet never repeats themselves. “Let’s do something different, deeper, more intense, heavier. We’ll still sound like us, no matter what others may say,” commented Mindead about what the listener can expect to find in the album, an amalgamation of heavy and melodic styles highly recommended for fans of bands like Slipknot, Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage, Tool, Machine Head and Deftones, just to name a few.

An atmospheric intro is gradually “invaded” by the classic beats by Benjamin and the crushing riffs by Pablo and Chris in The Edge, evolving into a modern-day Melodic Groove Metal feast and sounding neck-breaking and very harmonious from start to finish; whereas Killing The Flame is as groovy as it can be thanks to the rumbling bass by Benedikt, while frontman Timo alternates between deranged screams and darker, more serene vocals, also bringing elements from more contemporary styles like Metalcore and Deathcore. The band’s electrifying party goes on in One Last Time, presenting a similar sound as the current American metal scene and feeling a lot more introspective and melodic than its predecessors. Moreover, pay attention to the amazing job done by Benedikt with his metallic bass lines, adding more stamina to the overall result.

And the dark clouds from the previous song keep blocking any sunlight in At The Borderline while the band blasts minimalist sounds and a female voice sends an obscure message, before Timo begins roaring with a lot of anguish and rage. In the even more modern and melodic Every Second, Timo sounds absolutely enraged on vocals while the rest of the band keeps the ambience grim and pensive with their razor-edged riffs and rhythmic beats, generating a catchy musicality full of interesting breaks and variations. Then drinking from the same ravenous fountain as Lamb Of God the quintet fires the excellent The Narcissist King, an ass-kicking Groove Metal tune with Timo stealing the spotlight with his growls while Pablo and Chris continue to slash our ears with their riffage.

All That’s Left is a touching and gripping ballad by Mindead where Benjamin adds some punch to the acoustic guitars with his precise beats, while Timo delivers his most passionate vocal performance of the whole album, and distorted lines permeate the air in To Fight A Demon, igniting the most Slipknot-inspired song of the album and presenting classic and heavy-as-hell riffs by the band’s dynamic guitar duo, which provide Timo all he needs to thrive with his Black Metal-ish vocals. Lastly, closing the alum we have the obscure and groovy Tired, where Pablo, Chris and Benedikt sound at the same time aggressive and gentle with their stringed weapons. In my humble opinion, the only issues with this song is that it goes on for a little too long, albeit still dense and entertaining. Moreover, in most versions of the album you’ll also be treated to an acoustic version of All That’s Left, a beautiful rendition of what’s already a damn good song, enhancing the reach and all  other details of Timo’s vocals considerably.

In summary, the talented Mindead are more than ready to put their hometown Stuttgart and the entire Germany on the map of modern metal music with their new album, breaking free from the confines of local stardom by effectively blending classic and modern-day elements in their inspiring creations and pointing to a bright future ahead of them. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to listen to more of their music on Spotify and, of course, to purchase their self-titled opus from your favorite location by clicking HERE. In case modern and very melodic Groove Metal is your cup of tea, simply give Mindead a chance and you won’t regret at all; quite the contrary, I bet you’ll end up at a concert venue in Stuttgart having a beer and raising your horns to such up-and-coming Teutonic squad.

Best moments of the album: The Edge, The Narcissist King and All That’s Left.

Worst moments of the album: Tired.

Released in 2019 Metalapolis Records

Track listing
1. The Edge 4:30
2. Killing The Flame 3:48
3. One Last Time 5:25
4. At The Borderline 4:37
5. Every Second 3:53
6. The Narcissist King 3:44
7. All That’s Left 3:13
8. To Fight A Demon 5:26
9. Tired 6:07
10. All That’s Left (Acoustic) (Hidden track) 3:06

Band members
Timo Fielker – vocals
Pablo Mateo – guitar
Chris Lohrmann – guitar
Benedikt Wagner – bass
Benjamin Hölle – drums

Album Review – HerezA / Death Metal Drunks (2019)

Join this horde of ruthless headbanging bastards in their quest for metal and booze, armed to the teeth with their brand new opus of straightforward Death N’ Roll.

Vodka, whiskey, gin, rakija, black tooth grin, tequila, Jägermeister and Jack Daniel’s, all mixed with humongous dosages of rebelliousness, depravity and violence. That’s the extremely combustible recipe found in Death Metal Drunks, the brand new album by Croatian/German Punk/Death Metal horde HerezA and a fantastic follow-up to their 2017 release I Become Death. As the band itself likes to say, there’s no “pre”, no “post”, no “tech”, no “prog” and not even any “swe” references or connotations in their new opus, but a straightforward Death N’ Roll attack highly recommended for fans of the demolishing music played by iconic acts like Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death, The Exploited, Carcass, Kreator, Motörhead and several other relentless rock and metal entities.

Formed in 2014 in Beli Manastir, Croatia, but currently located in the beautiful Stuttgart, capital of southwest Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state, what used to be a duo comprised of vocalist Ivan Kovačević and guitarist Slobodan Stupar is now a full-bodied squad with the additions of bassit Holger and drummer Thomas Polder, which translates into not only a more dynamic musicality but also makes it possible for HerezA to tour a lot more, spreading their nihilistic, inebriate and boisterous creations to the four corners of our decaying world. Produced by Slobodan himself, recorded, mixed and mastered by Mario Marković, and featuring an absolutely superb cover art by Croatian artist Andrej Bartulović (All Things Rotten), perfectly representing what HerezA are all about, Death Metal Drunks is one of those albums that will put a huge smile on your face every single time you listen to it, inspiring you to join other metalheads into the sickest circle pits you can think of.

Wicked distortions and a menacing aura suddenly explode into sheer violence in the form of music in Back From The Grave, where Ivan’s roars sound even more enraged than in their previous album, while guest vocalist Adrie Kloosterwaard (Sinister) delivers deep, guttural Cannibal Corpse-inspired lines to make things even more brutal. Then Slobodan shows no mercy for our necks with his incendiary riffs in Genocid, where Thomas keeps hammering his drums frantically, therefore being recommended for fans of a thrashier and more hardcore version or our good old Death Metal; whereas Kopam Oči, Režem Jezik, Prste, Nos I Uši (“I dig my eyes, I cut my tongue, my fingers, my nose and my ears” from Croatian), featuring guest vocals by Igor Buljin (Gorthaur’s Wrath), follows a similar pattern as most songs in I Become Death, or in other words, it’s  an onrush of vicious sounds that will inspire you to slam into the pit like a maniac while Slobodan and Holger don’t stop slashing their stringed weapons mercilessly.

Blazing guitars and punk-infused drums dictate the rhythm in the boozy metal hymn Death Metal Drunks, by far my favorite song of the album showcasing utterly entertaining lyrics vociferated by Ivan (“We are back once again / To show you how it’s done / Pedal to the metal, full speed ahead / Breaks are for the weak / Head through the wall, we don’t care at all / Heading for selfdestruction / Give us booze, give us beer / We are ready for execution”), followed by Rak n’Roll, bringing forward less than two minutes of total sonic anarchy as if the Exploited and Napalm Death had a son (and if that son was trained by Cannibal Corpse), with highlights to Thomas’ crushing performance on drums. Horses bring the noise in Dullahan, a thunderous tune infused with badass Rock N’ Roll elements the likes of Motörhead, also presenting a great job done by Slobodan with his scorching riffs and featuring the third guest vocalist of the album, Aleister Kainulainen (King Satan), to give the whole song and extra kick. And if you think HerezA will slow down at any given point you’re absolutely wrong, as Do Kosti Bez Milosti (“to the bone without mercy”) is another overdose of violence, insanity and rage sung in their mother tongue Croatian, with Ivan’s demented growls and Thomas’ nonstop beats inspiring the listener to violently crack their spinal cords in half.

Beneath The Wheels Of Death is hell on wheels once again led by the berserk grunts by Ivan while Slobodan delivers spot-on riffs and solos, and there’s no time to breathe at all as after a weird semi-acoustic intro the quartet blasts their own version of what can be called “Country Metal” in Necrobitch, Cowgirl From The Morgue, with its lyrics seeming like they were taken from a Steel Panther song but embraced by the heaviness and speed of Punk Rock. In addition to that, pay good attention to how Holger’s groovy and rumbling bass lines add a lot of electricity to the overall result. In Stupid Spoiled Whore the quartet once again brings to our ears very “classy” lyrics (“Spoiled, rich, little girl / You have everything in the world / Mommy and daddy love you so / They can’t see you’re just a / Piece of shit / You make me sick / An ugly boar / Stupid spoiled whore / Shit for brains / You leave stains / Everywhere you go / You’re stupid spoiled whore”), with the music being a feast of raw, razor-edged noises and tones that couldn’t sound more violent. And lastly, Monstrum is a beyond thrilling and deranged way to close such excellent album of extreme music where Thomas steals the spotlight with his frantic drumming while Ivan, Slobodan and Holger fill out every empty space with their respective growls, riffs and bass punches.

After all is said and done, I have only one very simple question to you, and I’m pretty sure your answer will be positive. Do you consider yourself a Death Metal drunk? Well, if you’re reading this review to the very end I believe you are, which means you’re more than ready to join HerezA in their quest for metal and booze by following them on Facebook, and especially by purchasing your copy of Death Metal Drunks (available for a full listen on Spotify and on YouTube) from the Godz ov War Productions’ BandCamp or webstore, as well as from Apple Music and Discogs. And after putting your hands on the album and hitting play, you know what to do. It’s booze, slamming, more booze, headbanging while slamming, an extra dose of booze, and so on.

Best moments of the album: Kopam Oči, Režem Jezik, Prste, Nos I Uši, Death Metal Drunks and Do Kosti Bez Milosti.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Godz ov War Productions

Track listing
1. Back From The Grave (feat. Adrie Kloosterwaard) 2:56
2. Genocid 1:58
3. Kopam Oči, Režem Jezik, Prste, Nos I Uši (feat. Igor Buljin) 2:53
4. Death Metal Drunks 3:10
5. Rak n’Roll 1:34
6. Dullahan (feat. Aleister Kainulainen) 2:42
7. Do Kosti Bez Milosti 3:15
8. Beneath The Wheels Of Death 2:10
9. Necrobitch, Cowgirl From The Morgue 3:23
10. Stupid Spoiled Whore 2:35
11. Monstrum 1:38

Band members
Ivan Kovacevic – vocals
Slobodan Stupar – guitar, vocals
Holger – bass
Thomas Polder – drums

Guest musicians
Adrie Kloosterwaard – vocals on “Back From the Grave”
Igor Buljin – vocals on “Kopam Oči, Režem Jezik, Prste, Nos I Uši”
Aleister Kainulainen – vocal on “Dullahan”

Metal Chick of the Month – Ela

ELA ROCKS!

Hailing from the charming Stuttgart, capital of southwest Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state and known for the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche headquarters and museums, our metal chick of the month of August is ready to set fire to The Headbanging Moose with her powerful vocals, stunning looks and deep passion for Hard Rock, Rock N’ Roll, and Heavy and Power Metal. Furthermore, you’ll certainly find her evolution in music quite interesting, from her mellower, radio-friendly Pop Rock early days to her current ferocious beast mode, blasting first-class Heavy Metal for our absolute delectation, always ready to rock like there’s no tomorrow. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the raven-haired vocalist Michaela “Ela” Eichhorn, or if you prefer you can simply call her Ela, frontwoman for German Melodic Heavy Metal band ELA and a woman that beautifully represents the power and importance of women in contemporary metal music.

You won’t find a lot of personal details about our dauntless Ela on the internet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to read, learn and enjoy about her. Let’s say that if you want to know more about Ela, all you have to do is search for her own band ELA, as in the end the two can be considered the same entity. In other words, there’s no Michaela Eichhorn without ELA and vice-versa, which means we’ll be focusing on Ela’s career with her band on this humble tribute to this talented German singer, starting with the band’s inception over ten years ago, in the year of 2006. As a matter of fact, we can go a bit further than that, to the year of 2004, when Ela was part of a Karlsruh, Baden-Württemberg-based band named Com’n Rail, with whom she released the full-length album Out of My Universe that same year (and you can still buy the album from Amazon or from Discogs).

After several concerts all over Germany to promote Out of My Universe in the following years, Com’n Rail split up in 2006, with Ela finally founding what’s known today as ELA. However, as already mentioned, the band’s first releases, those being the EP’s Out of Time and Little Lies, both released in 2008, and the full-length albums Passion, from that same year, and Make My Day, from 2009, showed a much smoother side of Ela, offering her fans a fusion of classic Hard Rock with pop and alternative music. Ela’s debut EP Out of Time featured German musician J.R. Blackmore (the son of Ritchie Blackmore and his former German wife Margit, and known from bands like EBC Roxx and Over the Rainbow) on the guitar, with the invitation originating from Ela herself after listening to one of his instrumental pieces during a radio interview in Hamburg and falling in love with his refined technique. Upon returning home that night, she sent an email to Mr. Blackmore inviting him to participate in her album, he obviously accepted the invitation, and two weeks later the single Out Of Time was recorded (check out the official video shot at the legendary rock club Headbangers Ballroom in Hamburg HERE), with the full EP featuring the aforementioned single, a couple of original songs  by Ela and instrumental pieces by Mr. Blackmore, and a cover version for UFO’s Queen of the Deep. As a consequence of the very positive feedback received from fans and the specialized media, the duo went on a fairly extensive European tour after the release of the EP, not to mention the official video was played on many German music channels such as iMusic1 TV, Hit24, Deluxe TV and Streetclip.Tv.

The year of 2008 also witnessed the release of her first full-length album Passion, which you can listen in full on YouTube, again drawing excellent feedback and very positive reviews from the media. This was Ela’s first cooperation with Martin Engler of Mono Inc., which also happened in her next album. Songs like After the Rain and Out of Time achieved great success among fans of her music, the first single Little Lies made it onto several radio playlists for several weeks, her cover versions for Credence Clearwater Revival’s Who’ll Stop the Rain and Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me were simply amazing, and Bleed got its own official video, shot at a castle for Ela’s own delight. “I’m a huge fan of castles, and it was my utmost wish to film on the historic grounds of a fortress. Just the masonry is ever so fascinating, and for a song like ‘Bleed’ I couldn’t have imagined any other location”, said our talented frontwoman.

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In 2009 Ela was back in action with a more rockin’ sonority with the album Make My Day, featuring re-recorded songs form her previous releases, and new songs like Here to Stay, Who (Won’t You Tell Me) and Right for the Devil, and once again featuring Martin Engler on drums, percussion, keyboards, programming and other arrangements. Ela had a few nice words to say about this heavier and harder version of her music. “The atmosphere in a studio is different to the one on stage, where you’re being swept away by the energy of your fans. Before you pick a song for an album, you work for weeks on that tune until it is to your perfect liking. However, and I think I speak for many of my musician colleagues here, after a while you may dislike this song and/or you suddenly get new ideas for it. Music has a lot to do with emotions, so I think that your own feelings play a major role here. When you know that you’re due to play live shows, it gets you in a different mood, you feel changed. I can only speak for myself, but I felt an overpowering urge to bring these songs across way harder – well, I guess, I simply wanted to ROCK more,” she commented, already pointing to a heavier future for her band.

Although Ela might not have released any new material under her own band until 2015, in 2010 she founded together with J.R. Blackmore and keyboardist Tony Carey (Rainbow) the project EBC Roxx,  having released the album Winners Vol.1 that same year,  with the song Silver Arrows being the anthem to accompany the first race of Mercedes Formula 1 pilots Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg that season. Then after a short hiatus Ela returned in 2015 with her band ELA showcasing a more visceral and metallic sound in Nervous Breakdown, featuring among several hard and heavy songs a medley of two of Slade’s biggest classics, Cum On Feel the Noize and Gudbuy T’Jane. Produced by Jörg Uken (Soundlodge Tonstudio) and mixed by Sascha Paeth (Avantasia, Beyond the Black, Edguy), Nervous Breakdown led Ela and her bandmates to promote the album on a tour with the iconic band Bonfire, proving once again she was on the right path in heavy music.

In 2016 Ela and her henchmen got even more metal with the release of the EP Out Of This World, presenting a much harder sonority closer to the Symphonic Metal played by bands such as Nightwish and Lacuna Coil, as you can see in this live version of the song This Kaleidoscope from 2017. Then in 2017 ELA finally achieved its most metallic form with the release of the full-length opus Second Reality, featuring powerful songs like Deadly Sins, therefore explaining why the album stayed in the Top 20 of the German Rock and Metal Charts for weeks. Ela’s metal side received so much praise from fans, critics and media from all over the world her band even toured around Germany as a supporting act for the one and only Grave Digger, not to mention Ela’s guest vocals in 2019 in the title-track Facing the Demon, from the album Facing the Demon, by German Melodic Heavy Metal act Reternity. Having said all that, you might be asking yourself what’s next for Ela, right? Well, no one knows exactly what our dark-haired singer will bring to our avid ears in the future, but we can rest assured it’s definitely going to rock our world.

ELA’s Official Facebook page
ELA’s Official Instagram
ELA’s Official YouTube channel

Album Review – Reternity / Facing the Demon (2019)

An exciting display of Melodic Heavy Metal by four experienced musicians from the German scene, dealing with the struggles we all have with our inner demons and temptations.

Founded in the summer of 2018 in Heilbronn, a city in northern Baden-Württemberg, Germany, by Stefan Zörner (SpiteFuel, Lanfear, Strangelet) on vocals, Carsten Sauter (Mighty D., Pyroclasm) on guitars and bass, Semen Brik (Echo.Mensch) also on the guitar, and Sascha Beul (Remember Twilight, Darkness Ablaze) on drums, four experienced and skillful musicians from the German Heavy Metal and Hard Rock scene, Melodic Heavy Metal outfit Reternity has just released their debut full-length album, entitled Facing the Demon, following up the successful release of their 2018 two-track demo, which received an amazing feedback from both fans and critics. Dealing with the struggles we all have with our inner demons and temptations, something that’s beautifully depicted in the album artwork, Facing the Demon was carefully produced by Jonas Kümmerle at Analog Mixing Studio, taking the album’s overall sound quality to a whole new level and, therefore, allowing those Swabian metallers to shine throughout 40 minutes of heavy music, ranging from classic Hard Rock to more berserk styles such as our good old Thrash Metal.

The acoustic guitars by Carsten and Semen kick off the intro Strings of Sor 1: Sunset, working as the calm before the storm for Last Days of War, a frantic and very melodic Heavy Metal tune with thrashing elements, as if Anthrax decided to play a faster version of Hard Rock. Moreover, Stefan leads his metal brigade with his ass-kicking, angry vocals, keeping the energy level really high until the next song, titled Tomorrow’s History, comes crushing our minds with another incendiary performance by the band’s guitar duo while Carsten keeps rumbling the foundations of the earth with his bass lines, also bringing some soulful guitar solos just the way we like it in Power Metal. Then the spoken words by Stefan in the melodic bridge Reternity II set the tone for the amazing Hard Rock power ballad I Love the Night, highly inspired by 80’s Glam Metal but with the band’s own modern twist. As the sound of guitars and bass fills every empty space in the air, get ready to sing the song’s awesome chorus alongside those German metallers in great fashion.

In Down. Not. Broken, one of the songs from their 2018 demo and another potent tune infused with Thrash Metal nuances, it’s time for Sascha to pound his drums mercilessly, therefore adding tons of electricity and stamina to the musicality, with Carsten and Semen once again kicking us in the face with their riffs and solos. The title-track Facing the Demon is a lesson in Symphonic Power Metal, with Stefan and guest vocalist Michaela “Ela” Eichhorn (frontwoman for German Melodic Heavy Metal band E:L:A) being on fire and utterly flawless on vocals, while the guitars and bass sound absolutely metallic from start to finish for our total delight; whereas in Singularity all instruments, in special the bass lines, present a lot of Progressive Metal nuances, sounding more modernized than the rest of the album, albeit not as vibrant. Furthermore, Stefan does a great job on vocals as usual, with the song’s acoustic ending also being a nice addition to the overall result.

The second song from their 2018 demo, Suicide Butterflies, is a very rhythmic and solid creation by Reternity, showcasing an electrified Sascha on drums while Carsten brings considerable amounts of progressiveness and groove with his riffs and bass punches; followed by Stone to Mouth, featuring German singer Chantal Freier doing a gorgeous introduction to the song in her mother tongue. Overall, it sounds like a fusion of the music by Skid Row, Gojira and Anthrax with alternative music from the 90’s, with all the shredding plus the German words being welcome extra touches to such vibrant composition. And last but not least, Carsten and Semen fire acoustic guitar lines one last time in the outro Strings of Sor 2: Sundown, closing the album on a serene note; however, keep listening to it for the hidden track All Grey, a fun and frantic Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll party with highlights to Stefan’s vocal performance boosted by the song’s effective backing vocals.

You can show your support to those skillful and unrelenting Teutonic metallers by following them on Facebook, and of course by purchasing your copy of Facing the Demon (also available for a full listen on Spotify) from the MDD Records webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. Because, you know, if you’ve decided you’re finally going to face your inner demons from now on, keeping your head high and without any fear of failure, the best way to do that is accompanied by our good old Heavy Metal, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Last Days of War, I Love the Night and Facing the Demon.

Worst moments of the album: Singularity.

Released in 2019 MDD Records

Track listing
1. Strings of Sor 1: Sunset (Intro) 1:05
2. Last Days of War 4:22
3. Tomorrow’s History 3:50
4. Reternity II 0:54
5. I Love the Night 2:55
6. Down. Not. Broken 3:32
7. Facing the Demon (feat. Michaela “Ela” Eichhorn) 4:31
8. Singularity 5:34
9. Suicide Butterflies 4:18
10. Stone to Mouth (feat. Chantal Freier) 4:47
11. Strings of Sor 2: Sundown (Outro) 1:12
12. All Grey (Hidden track) 2:39

Band members
Stefan Zörner – vocals
Carsten Sauter – guitars, bass
Semen Brik – guitars
Sascha Beul – drums

Guest musicians
Chantal Freier – female vocals (intro) on “Stone to Mouth”
Michaela “Ela” Eichhorn – female vocals on “Facing the Demon”

Album Review – SpiteFuel / Second To None (2017)

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a new flammable entity hailing from Germany is born, bringing you a broad spectrum of Heavy Metal, Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll always true to their motto “we don’t care, we just rock!”

There are countless instances in the world of heavy music when a fresh new start is necessary to fix some issues and flaws a band might have in order to move forward with their career, and in the case of German metallers SpiteFuel those changes couldn’t have been done at a better time, culminating with the release of their gripping new album titled Second To None. After the split-up of the also German group Strangelet in the beginning of 2016, three of the former members of the band, lead singer Stefan Zörner, guitarist Tobias Eurich and bassist Finn Janetzky joined forces with ex-Devil’s Darling members Timo Pflüger (guitar) and Björn-Philipp Hessenmüller (drums) to form SpiteFuel, aiming at blasting their traditional Heavy Metal and Hard Rock the likes of Judas Priest, Accept, Guns N’ Roses and Queensrÿche throughout the entire world, always remaining true to their motto “we don’t care, we just rock!”

Hailing form Heilbronn, a city in northern Baden-Württemberg, Germany, SpiteFuel offer the listener during Second To None’s over 45 minutes of music a broad spectrum of Heavy Rock, from hard neck-breakers and heavy mid-tempo pounders to fragile ballads full of emotion, all in the name of Rock N’ Roll. The cover artwork, made by renowned American artist Travis Smith (Seempieces), who has already worked with several iconic bands such as Nevermore, Iced Earth and Death, among others, completes a coherent overall picture of the music found in Second To None. Furthermore, despite being a newly reformed group, SpiteFuel still keeps the initial fire that gave birth to Strangelet burning inside them, proving their excitement and passion for heavy music will never cease no matter what.

The tribal and enthralling On Burning Wings introduces us to a Hard Rock extravaganza named Purified, where its blazing guitars and nonstop action fill every single space in the music. Moreover, Tobias and Timo blend the fury of German Power Metal and the fun of American Hard Rock in their riffs and solos, also presenting hints of the sonority crafted by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Then we have a good dosage of headbanging riffs and crushing beats in a badass feast named By My Hand, an excellent choice for a rock n’ roll radio playlist where Stefan effectively plays the role of the band’s frontman like Vince Neil, Brett Michaels and so many other Hard Rock idols; followed by the even better Whorehouse Symphony, venturing through heavier fields with hints of Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold added to its already solid musicality. That fusion of metal styles ends up working extremely well, turning it into the best and most unique song of the album in my opinion, with highlights to the great performance by Stefan with his more aggressive vocals and to Finn with his rumbling bass lines.

In Regrets, what starts in a melancholic way quickly morphs into a pleasant power ballad, showcasing a passionate performance by Stefan on vocals while the rest of the band maintains a dark but smooth vibe flowing, including a soulful guitar solo to spice things up a bit; whereas in the first single of the album, Sleeping With Wolves, a howling wolf warns the listener a heavy music party is about to begin. It’s another song with pounding drums and heavier-than-usual riffs à la Avenged Sevenfold, without losing the harmony of Hard Rock and with highlights to the gripping performances by Stefan on vocals and the skillful Björn on drums. And the rising instrumental bridge Adamah’s Tribes works as a mysterious intro to Triad Of Faith, where the old school Heavy Metal riffs and solos by Tobias and Timo, together with the always thunderous bass guitar by Finn, give the Hard Rock played by SpiteFuel a more serious and epic taste.

Fly, a serene ballad by these talented German rockers, is a moment of peace amidst all the heaviness blasted throughout the rest of the album, with an absolute focus on the gentle vocals by Stefan, but all that tranquility doesn’t last for too long as the band gets back to their flammable rockin’ sounding in Devil’s Darling, named in allusion to one of the bands that originated SpiteFuel. Once again presenting sharp riffs and bass lines, it’s a good Hard Rock composition, albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album (it should sound a lot better if played live, though). And lastly, despite its melancholic start, It Remains Empty Forever quickly becomes an electrified Rock N’ Roll chant with modern Hard Rock and Heavy Metal elements, also displaying hints of progressiveness thanks to the drumming by Björn.

As mentioned in the beginning of this review, a new entity known as SpiteFuel was born from the ashes of Strangelet, and based on the high-quality of the music found in Second To None these German rockers seem to have finally found their desired shape and sound, which will certainly propel them to new heights in the rock and metal universe. You can get in touch with the guys through their official Facebook page, listen to their music through their BandCamp page, and buy your copy of Second To None at the MDD Records webstore, at the Nuclear Blast webstore, at the EMP webstore, on Amazon and at several other retailers such as Saturn and Media Markt. SpiteFuel don’t care, they just rock, and after taking a good listen at Second To None you’ll realize that’s exactly what they want us all to do together with them. Well, we can’t say no to some good old Rock N’ Roll, right?

Best moments of the album: Purified, Whorehouse Symphony and Sleeping With Wolves.

Worst moments of the album: Devil’s Darling.

Released in 2017 MDD Records

Track listing
1. On Burning Wings 1:14
2. Purified 3:49
3. By My Hand 4:21
4. Whorehouse Symphony 5:20
5. Regrets 6:17
6. Sleeping With Wolves 6:14
7. Adamah’s Tribes 0:40
8. Triad Of Faith 4:19
9. Fly 4:19
10. Devil’s Darling 4:10
11. It Remains Empty Forever 4:45

Band members
Stefan Zörner – vocals
Tobias Eurich – guitar
Timo Pflüger – guitar
Finn Janetzky – bass
Björn-Philipp Hessenmüller – drums