Album Review – Gallia / Obscura (2022)

Enjoy this breathtaking album of Symphonic Metal infused with sheer epicness and storytelling, masterfully crafted by an up-and-coming four-headed outfit from Belgium.

Creating Symphonic Metal with an amount of epicness and storytelling that would fit a dark fantasy trilogy on the big screen, leading to what the band itself likes to call “Cinematic Metal”, Stevoort, Belgium-based four-headed outfit Gallia is unleashing upon humanity their first full-length opus, entitled Obscura, building on the story that was set in place by their 2019 EP Everflame, which was about the band’s fight against the dark. Produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Yarne Heylen at Project Zero Studio and displaying a beautiful artwork by Gogo Melone, Obscura tells the story of the band finishing their duty with the Everflame and returning to a life of freedom, and finding a different world than the one they left behind, presenting noticeable influences from Symphonic Metal bands such as Nightwish, Epica and Xandria while at the same time the theatricality of big composers such as Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, all meticulously crafted by frontwoman Elyn Vandenwyngaert, guitarist Yannick Maris, bassist Laurens Vandebroek and drummer Ties Jehoul.

The clock is ticking in the intro Aperture, inviting us all to join Gallia in their cinematic, metallic journey to the sound of the heavy and melodic Return of Time, already starting in full force to the massive drums by Ties in a beyond thrilling exhibit of modern-day Symphonic Metal, with Elyn stealing the spotlight with her powerful voice. The fantastic Blackout Queen feels like the soundtrack to an epic movie, with Laurens kicking some serious ass armed with his thunderous bass while Yannick brings sheer Heavy Metal awesomeness to the sound through his sharp riffs, flowing into the whimsical Mirage, starting in an enfolding way to the sound of the piano before evolving into a very theatrical composition where Ties pounds his drums in a classy manner. Then an eerie, wicked intro suddenly morphs into another Metal Opera titled Reflection, showcasing the incendiary riffs by Yannick intertwined with a dark and beautiful vocal performance by Elyn; whereas Path of the Nomad is even more imposing, epic and dense than its predecessors, bringing forward an amazing job done by all band members and consequently taking the song to a whole new level of magic, with of course Elyn being flawless on vocals.

Then adding elements from Folk Metal to their core sonority, the band delivers the symphonic interlude Free Me, setting the stage for Spirit of the Sea, showcasing a catchy chorus (“Spirit of the Sea, hear my plea, hear my plea / The balance of my life lies in the hands of thee / You decide my destiny / Hear my plea, oh Spirit of the Sea / Let me return to land and tree / I call to you: let me be free”) and a mesmerizing pace and atmosphere; whereas guided by the classic, hammering drums by Ties the band offers our ears the also melodic and vibrant Chaos, with its background elements sounding absolutely majestic. In Euphoria we’re treated to poetic lyrics declaimed by Elyn (“The road is long / but our destiny is straight ahead / We march in faith and think of lands / that we have left”) amidst a multi-layered, melodic Symphonic Metal feast, and their second to last lecture in symphony and heavy music comes in the form of Tears of Gold, presenting over seven minutes of dark passages, rumbling bass lines and crushing riffs. Lastly, it’s time for Eryn to shine on vocals one final time in the stunning ballad New World, growing in intensity to the stylish riffs by Yannick until reaching a climatic, ethereal finale.

In summary, Obscura is one of those musical voyages that make Symphonic Metal so interesting and thrilling, thanks of course to the extreme focus and hard work invested in the making of the album by the talented members of Gallia, positioning them as one of the must-listen names of the current scene. Having said that, in order to support Elyn and the boys and fuel their inner fire to keep delivering first-class music to all of us, let’s all follow them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and so on, subscribe to their official YouTube channel and stream more of their music on Spotify, and of course grab a copy of Obscura from the band’s own BandCamp page sooner than you can say “Cinematic Metal”. Heavy music cannot get any more theatrical than what Gallia have to offer us in their new album, leaving us eager for the next chapter in their promising path of heavy music infused with a huge dosage of fantasy.

Best moments of the album: Blackout Queen, Path of the Nomad and Chaos.

Worst moments of the album: Mirage.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Aperture 1:19
2. Return of Time 4:44
3. Blackout Queen 3:34
4. Mirage 4:42
5. Reflection 5:05
6. Path of the Nomad 4:13
7. Free Me 2:35
8. Spirit of the Sea 4:04
9. Chaos 4:21
10. Euphoria 4:13
11. Tears of Gold 7:32
12. New World 5:13

Band members
Elyn Vandenwyngaert – vocals
Yannick Maris – guitars
Laurens Vandebroek – bass
Ties Jehoul – drums

Album Review – Provectus / Postero Mundi (2022)

Inspired by the early pioneers of the genre, this Belgian horde carries the spirit of old school Black Metal in their pulverizing newborn beast.

Founded in 2015 in Vosselaar, a municipality located in the Belgian province of Antwerp, while rooted from the minds of vocalist and guitarist Tempore Anomalia and drummer Obitus, the unrelenting, old school Black Metal horde Provectus focuses on creating quality 90’s Black Metal cutting into a diverse range of lyrical themes, always inspired by the early pioneers of the genre such as Immortal and Dissection. Now in 2022 it’s time for Tempore Anomalia and Obitus, together with bassist Roach, to crush us all with the rawness and brutality found in their first full-length opus Postero Mundi, which translates from Latin as “the next world”, the follow-up to their 2018 debut EP Existential Delusion. Produced and mixed by the band itself, mastered by Yarne Heylen at Project Zero Recording Studio, and featuring a sinister artwork by Kris Verwimp, Postero Mundi carries the spirit of old school Black Metal by distancing itself from the modern fusions and endless subgenres , being therefore highly recommended for admirers of the darkest and most sulfurous side of extreme music.

Sinister organ pipes and epic background sounds invite us all to join Provectus in pitch black darkness in the intro Gloria Dolorem before the trio pulverizes our souls with the title-track Postero Mundi, with Obitus delivering pure hatred from his old school Black Metal blast beats accompanied by the rumbling bass by Roach while Tempore Anomalia vociferates like a true servant of the underworld. In Aetherflow Dimensions we face poetry flowing from the song’s lyrics (“In a distant vision a grace to behold, where the dark has shifted and the space seems so cold. / Mystical and phenomenal sights of blazing lights beckoning to me.”) while the trio keeps hammering their instruments nonstop; followed by Bane of Existence, starting in a melodic, somber manner before Tempore Anomalia begin extracting pure obscurity from his riffage while growling deeply at the same time, and all that heaviness and violence keeps growing in intensity in the name of classic Black Metal.

It’s then time for the phantasmagorical, spine-chilling interlude Lucid Nightmare, led by the unearthly keys by Tempore Anomalia, captivating our souls before we face the imposing Torn Fabric of Time, bringing forward total fuckin’ mayhem in the form of unrelenting Black Metal masterfully blasted by those Belgian demons. Moreover, Obitus is on absolute fire behind his drums making the earth tremble, while Tempore Anomalia declaims the song’s infernal words from the bottom of his blackened heart, not to mention how metallic and sulfurous the bass lines by Roach sound and feel. A gargantuan roar by Tempore Anomalia kick off the fulminating aria Disordered Phenomenon, where his own riffs add tons of malignancy to the overall result and also showcasing another brutal performance by Obitus on drums; whereas in Fractured Entity we have one last round of their wicked lyrics (“The saga continues endlessly. / Insanity drifting the emotionless sea. / Absorbed and hexed by apathy. / The cosmic curse of the entity!”), presenting elements from Doom Metal to enhance the song’s obscurity.

The gates of the underworld are wide open, and Provectus are there waiting for you to join them in the name of old school, visceral Black Metal to the sound of their amazing new album, which by the way is available for a full listen on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and above all that, to purchase the caustic, devilish Postero Mundi from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Necktwister’s webstore, or from Apple Music. Provectus are among us to spread sheer hatred and obscurity with their newborn beast, putting Belgium in the map of classic Black Metal and, therefore, giving us all a very good reason to darkly smile while listening to their evil creations on our path to the next world.

Best moments of the album: Postero Mundi, Torn Fabric of Time and Disordered Phenomenon.

Worst moments of the album: Fractured Entity.

Released in 2022 Necktwister

Track listing
1. Gloria Dolorem 1:40
2. Postero Mundi 7:16
3. Aetherflow Dimensions 7:49
4. Bane of Existence 6:53
5. Lucid Nightmare 2:28
6. Torn Fabric of Time 10:02
7. Disordered Phenomenon 4:01
8. Fractured Entity 7:05

Band members
Tempore Anomalia – vocals, guitars, synths, keys
Roach – bass
Obitus – drums

Album Review – Captain Naysayer / Captain Naysayer EP (2021)

All aboard the Rock N’ Roll vessel captained by a talented five-piece Belgian crew, taking you on a trip through the unruly waters of rock and metal music to the sound of their self-titled debut EP.

Starting as a wet dream of guitarist Daan and drummer Evert from a Belgian rock band named The DeVilles, Keerbergen, Belgium-based Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock act Captain Naysayer are ready to rock your world to the sound of their self-titled debut EP, bringing to the table a fun and vibrant sound inspired by 70’s Rock N’ Roll. Comprised of the aforementioned Daan and Evert together with their countrymen Tom on keyboards and Bert on bass, as well as Brazilian vocalist Arthur, who by the way joined the band from overseas after seeing their online post to lure some candidates for the job, Captain Naysayer take no prisoners in their quest for classic rock and metal, offering to us all six undisputed songs that go from the most classic form of Rock N’ Roll to heavier and more melodic passages, and the final result will certainly put you to dance and bang your heads together with the boys like there’s no tomorrow.

Arising from the bottom of the ocean like a true kraken, Captain Naysayer start blasting their 70’s Rock N’ Roll in Black Silhouette, spearheaded by the smashing beats by Evert and the classic vocals by Arthur, with the Axel Rudi Pell-inspired keys by Tom being the icing on the cake. And more of their old school rock music is offered in the form of Changes, where Daan’s soulful riffs and Bert’s low-tuned bass add an extra touch of nostalgia to the overall result, not to mention how rhythmic and pleasant the drumming by Evert sounds; followed by Voodoo Lovin’, an amazing display of Psychedelic Rock with a Southern Rock twist where the lyrics declaimed by Arthur couldn’t have been more Hard Rock than this (“Since we first met you put me through a test / Going through the ringer on the tip of your finger / It was hard each day just to get a little closer to you / It was like a spell, it was like a trance / Nothing in my mind except for the desire / For the fire that was burning in between your legs”).

After such powerful start, the second half of the EP kicks off with I See Danger, showcasing a Placebo-like vibe in Arthur’s strident vocals accompanied by some tribalistic elements and the Rock N’ Roll riffage by Daan. In addition, tons of progressiveness flows from all instruments, with Tom’s keys bringing electricity and epicness to their core sound in another ode to rock and metal music. Then smooth keys and a whimsical atmosphere suddenly explode into a Jethro Tull-like sonority in Blue Eyed Mask, a delicate ballad by Captain Naysayer where the vocals by Arthur exhale poetry and melancholy from start to finish, whereas they showcase their Deep Purple vein and passion for classic Progressive Rock and Metal in the closing tune Living Again, where Tom is on fire with his ass-kicking keys while Evert and Bert bring the Blues to the music, all spiced up by an incendiary performance by Arthur on vocals while ending in the most vibrant way imaginable.

If you want to know more about Captain Naysayer before boarding their Rock N’ Roll vessel, you can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and plans for the future, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music and videos, and of course purchase their thrilling EP from BandCamp and stream it on Spotify (or simply click HERE to choose your favorite version of the album). I’m sure those Belgian musicians (and of course their Brazilian vocalist) will love to hear from you, keeping their inner rockin’ fire burning and, therefore, inspiring them to move forward in their career and continue to embellish the airwaves with their great fusion of old school Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Blues, carving their names in the small but always prolific underground Belgian scene.

Best moments of the album: Voodoo Lovin’ and Living Again.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Black Silhouette 4:27
2. Changes 3:53
3. Voodoo Lovin’ 4:18
4. I See Danger 3:33
5. Blue Eyed Mask 4:23
6. Living Again 5:09

Band members
Arthur – vocals
Daan – guitar
Tom – keys
Bert – bass
Evert – drums

Album Review – Shocker / Shocker EP (2021)

Enjoy this journey through the past, present and future of rock and metal music brought forth by five hardworking and talented Belgian “shockers”.

Formed somewhere in 2018 in Kuurne, a municipality located in the Belgian province of West Flanders, from an old idea by frontman Sammy Peleman (After All, September Syn) and bassist Koen (when Sammy performed as a guest vocalist in Koen’s cover band Back to Back), Shocker are a Heavy Metal and Hard Rock outfit that doesn’t like to be stuck to any boundaries or labeled as just one specific music style, bringing to our ears an amalgamation of rock and metal genres and subgenres with a strong 70’s Psychedelic Rock vibe to make things more entertaining and vibrant. Now in 2021 it’s time for Sammy and Koen, together with their bandmates  David Vandewalle (Anesthesy, Artrach) on the guitars, Chris Dedeurwaerder (Phoenix Rebellion) on guitars and keyboards, and Jelle Vandewalle on drums, to release their debut self-titled EP, containing four no shenanigans rockin’ songs that will take you on a journey to the past, bring you back to the present, and show you that the future of Rock N’ Roll is safe thanks to hardworking and talented bands like those Belgian rockers.

And let Shocker’s party begin with some good old, electrifying Rock N’ Roll in the opening tune Thrillseeker, with David and Chris bringing a touch of 80’s metal to the music with their riffs while of course Sammy kicks some ass with his Glam Metal vocals; whereas switching gears to a darker sonority found in some of the more contemporary songs by Iron Maiden they offer us all Twisted Shape of Man, before Jelle begins pounding his drums accompanied by the rumbling bass by Koen and the incendiary riffs from the band’s guitar duo. Then Koen ignites the band’s somber machine with his low-tuned, metallic bass in The Genuine Falls while Sammy declaims the lyrics with tons of passion and introspection, resulting in a classic Heavy Metal tune that slowly and gradually accelerates its pace until reaching an epic, galloping sound led by Jelle’s beats, also infused with a few welcome Progressive Rock and Metal nuances. Lastly, closing the EP it’s time for some groove in the Hard Rock and Hair Metal extravaganza titled Breaking the Silence, where the strident riffs and solos by David and Chris walk hand in hand with Sammy’s soaring vocals, therefore putting a classic conclusion to their debut effort.

Despite the fact that the EP is relatively short in duration, with the four songs lasting for a combined running time of a little less than 23 minutes, it’s indeed an amazing indication of where those five skillful musicians are headed to in their future releases, not to mention their progressive vein allows them to experiment a lot more than other regular bands, which of course means we can expect a few good surprises from Shocker anytime they release a new EP or full-length album. Furthermore, as a completely independent band that loves the DIY style from the bottom of their hearts as much as they love rock music, they need our support and admiration to keep moving forward in their career, so why not paying them a visit on their official Facebook page not only to provide your feedback on their music, but more important than that, to purchase their newborn EP and to keep on rockin’ in the free world? That’s what electrifying rock music like what those Belgian “shockers” have to offer us all is all about, and that’s pretty much all that we need in our lives.

Best moments of the album: The Genuine Falls.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Thrillseeker 5:07
2. Twisted Shape of Man 6:56
3. The Genuine Falls 5:17
4. Breaking the Silence 5:26

Band members
Sammy Peleman – vocals
David Vandewalle – guitars
Chris Dedeurwaerder – guitars, keyboards
Koen – bass, backing vocals
Jelle Vandewalle – drums

Album Review – Hulder / Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry (2021)

The past is alive because the present is dead. With the glorious birth of Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry, long live Hulder!

One of the best-kept secrets hailing from the underground Black Metal scene, Portland, Oregon-based one-woman entity Hulder was formed back in 2018 as the sole work of the selfsame Hulder, whose real name is Marz Riesterer, a native of Mechelen, Belgium but currently residing in the United States. She quickly went to work on Hulder’s first demo released in 2018, titled Ascending the Raven Stone, ancient and regressive but with no shortage of technicality. Hulder then began crystalizing her aesthetic in her subsequent albums both in sheer sonics as well as visuals, culminating now in 2021 with her debut opus Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry. Recorded at De Pestkerk Studio and mixed at The Underworld Studio, this demonic opus is structured like a true album, with side one kicking in an utterly feral manner and cresting along to vicious wanderlust while side two furthers the synth mysticism and maintains a more triumphant aspect, with each of its eight tracks being deeply rooted in 90’s classicism, from the paganisms of earliest Enslaved  and Kampfar to the hypnotizing grit of classic Judas Iscariot. Supported by session drummer Necreon (Cauterized, Funebrarum, Trepanation), Hulder is on absolute fire throughout the entire album, offering our ears old school, raw Black Metal that’s utterly dynamic, engaging, nuanced and transportive, but undeniably physical in its pulsing vistas of darkness and mystery.

The opening track Upon Frigid Winds is pulverizing from the very first second, with Hulder beautifully growling the song’s Stygian words (“Almighty force of the damned / Awakened by eons of pain / Born of destruction and carnage / Brought to light once again / Upon frigid winds we ride / Blaze the path of retribution / Clashing of mere mortal weaponry / Force of evil remains eternal”). In other words, it’s classic, grim Black Metal, period. And our dauntless black metaller keeps darkening the skies in Creature of Demonic Majesty, blasting her guitars and bass mercilessly, therefore crafting a beyond menacing ambience while Necreon keeps smashing his drums nonstop; then inspired by the early days of renowned acts the likes of Immortal, Marduk and Mayhem, Hulder explodes our senses with the sulfurous Sown in Barren Soil, presenting an amazing job done with her piercing riffage, and always supported by the precise Necreon, of course. And it’s time to soothe our souls to the sound of the folk-infused, atmospheric tune titled De Dijle, where Hulder meticulously blends the sounds of nature with phantasmagorical keys and her trademark she-demon gnarls.

After such mesmerizing tune, Hulder offers our avid ears the mid-tempo Atmospheric Black Metal aria Purgations of Bodily Corruptions, once again boosting the song’s malignancy with her devilish keys and riffs, whereas Lowland Famine brings forward old school Black Metal in its purest form from start to finish, with the venomous she-wolf roars by Hulder being beautifully complemented by her Cradle of Filth-inspired keys. Put differently, the song effectively epitomizes Hulder’s talent and passion for extreme music; and switching gears to an atmospheric, almost shoegazing sonority Hulder captivates us all with her delicate vocals in A Forlorn Peasant’s Hymn, exploding into visceral Black Metal while displaying poetic lyrics barked by our one-woman army (“A trail of fallen kin lie before me / As far as my tired eyes can see / A bloodred horizon to illuminate my path / I hear their cries as they share in my agony”). Finally, let’s crack our necks headbanging to the menacing From Whence an Ancient Evil Once Reigned, where Hulder’s slashing riffage and low-tuned bass generate a massive wall of sounds enhanced by Necreon’s bestial drumming, putting a sensational conclusion to such inspiring and medieval album.

I guess I don’t need to say we have right in front of us one of the most detailed, organic and infernal albums of 2021, and we don’t need to listen to anything that will still be released this year to make such statement. Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry is a true gem of extreme music, making me wonder what’s next in the career of this talented Belgian-American metaller. Hence, don’t forget to give Hulder a shout on Facebook, to stream more of her awesome music on Spotify, and to purchase Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry in less than two weeks from several distinct locations including her own BandCamp page, the Iron Bonehead’s BandCamp page or webstore, Record Shop X and Apple Music. The past is alive because the present is dead. With the glorious birth of Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry, long live Hulder!

Best moments of the album: Upon Frigid Winds, Sown in Barren Soil, Lowland Famine and A Forlorn Peasant’s Hymn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Iron Bonehead

Track listing
1. Upon Frigid Winds 3:22
2. Creature of Demonic Majesty 3:33
3. Sown in Barren Soil 4:43
4. De Dijle 6:33
5. Purgations of Bodily Corruptions 4:23
6. Lowland Famine 5:26
7. A Forlorn Peasant’s Hymn 6:03
8. From Whence an Ancient Evil Once Reigned 5:07

Band members
Hulder – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Necreon – drums (session)

Album Review – Malfested / Shallow Graves EP (2020)

Behold this epic tale about a great battle between men and the undead in the form of the pulverizing Death Metal crafted by an uncanny Belgian horde.

Forged in the fires of Kortrijk, a Belgian city and municipality in the Flemish province of West Flanders, in 2020, the year of “the great plague”, the unrelenting Death Metal unity known as Malfested released on November 2, the famous “Day of the Dead”, their debut EP entitled Shallow Graves. Highly inspired by renowned acts the likes of Bloodbath, Deicide and Carnation, the band comprised of Arne on vocals and Niels on the guitar, as well as other anonymous members, offers in Shallow Graves an epic tale about a great battle between men and the undead, where they have to find a way to stop this overwhelming evil. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Cyril Hostyn, Shallow Graves exhales aggression, anger and heaviness just the way we like it in classic Death Metal, leaving us completely disoriented after the album’s 21 minutes of vicious music are over. Put differently, simply hit play and head into the violent and merciless battlefield side by side with those uncanny Belgian metallers in the name of our good old Death Metal.

Flies buzzing and the stench of dead bodies ignite the vicious onrush of old school Death Metal titled Shallow Graves, where Arne vociferates rabidly and deeply accompanied by the Hardcore-infused riffage by Niels, and whoever is playing the drums is a true metal beast. And you better be physically prepared as they keep hammering our heads and haunting our souls with their undisputed fusion of old school and modern-day Death Metal in Masked with the Skulls of the Fallen, where once again Arne’s growls and snarls sound beyond brutal, building an instant and visceral connection with the pulverizing Fields of Bloodshed, showcasing austere lyrics (“One wounded man had made it out – to the tell the tale before he bled out / Like fire the word spread through the land – a whole town crushed by a demon hand / Summon the fearless – send them out to investigate / Expose the demons – that only live in old wife’s tales”), frantic beats and the trademark scorching riffs by Niels.

I the excellent Venefica (The Banished One) we’re treated to a sick and thrilling display of savagery and hatred in the form of Death Metal by Malfested. Moreover, Arne and Niels must be really proud of the stone crusher they called to be their drummer, resulting in the perfect combination of evil sounds tailored for slamming our skulls into the circle pit. Then leaning towards the darkest form of Death Metal you can think of, you can sense sheer rage flowing from Arne’s guttural roars in Incantations, while the music remains as bestial and aggressive as possible, not to mention the demolishing but at the same time melodious riffs by Niels. Finally, Malfested show no mercy for our necks and souls as they offer our ears another infernal tune titled Cistern of Souls, inspired by the glory of 90’s Death Metal the likes of Deicide, Morbid Angel and Death, among several others, and as soon as it’s over you’ll feel desperate for more of their violent music.

I guess I don’t need to say Malfested are here to stay based on the high quality of the music found in Shallow Graves, right? Those Belgian metallers are on fire throughout the entire EP, which by the way can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, pointing to a bright (and demolishing) future ahead of them. Hence, don’t forget to follow those cryptic musicians on Facebook and, above all, to purchase a copy of Shallow Graves from their own BandCamp page. Will Arne, Niels and their henchmen win their battle against the undead armed with their undisputed Death Metal? Only time will tell, but until then we can rest assured Malfested will continue to decimate our senses with their wicked and perverse creations, elevating the name of their homeland in the underworld of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Shallow Graves and Venefica (The Banished One).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Shallow Graves 3:14
2. Masked with the Skulls of the Fallen 3:47
3. Fields of Bloodshed 3:37
4. Venefica (The Banished One) 3:48
5. Incantations 4:00
6. Cistern of Souls 3:10

Band members
Arne – vocals
Niels – guitar
Unknown – guitar, bass, drums*

* There’s no information available about the other band members.

Album Review – BleedSkin / Blood Reign (2020)

Bang your heads to the brutal display of classic and contemporary Death Metal blasted by this promising Belgian band in their debut album.

Forged in 2016 in the fires of Andenne, a Belgian municipality located in the Walloon province of Namur, BleedSkin are an up-and-coming band highly inspired by iconic names from the 80’s and 90’s the likes of  Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, Dying Fetus and Aborted, among others, playing an old school, no bullshit style of Death Metal while singing about controversial topics such as dismemberment, butchery and annihilation. All that hard work and passion for heavy music has already led frontwoman Anouk Debecq, guitarists Benjamin Lefevre and Céline Mazay, bassist Rémy Adam and drummer Julien Vanhees to open for an array of bands including Exuviated, Debauchery and Blood Red Throne since their inception, culminating now in 2020 with the release of their debut effort Blood Reign, a brutal display of classic and contemporary Death Metal that will please all fans of the genre, recorded and mixed by Benoît Polomé at Noise Factory Studio and Soundwave Studio and embraced by a sinister artwork by Venezuelan artist Jesus Lhysta, better known under his moniker Rotted Artist.

A creepy, tribalistic and symphonic horror movie-inspired intro named Perverted Feelings sets the tone for the bestial devastation titled Eternal Hatred, where Benjamin and Céline begin slashing their axes while Anouk screams and roars deeply like an infernal entity, or in other words, this is a high-octane, classic Death Metal tune perfect for slamming into the circle pit, also bringing forward spot-on guitar solos and endless savagery. Once again inspired by renowned acts like Cannibal Corpse, Death and Morbid Angel, the band delivers Obsession, a great headbanging tune with Anouk once again showcasing all her she-wolf skills on vocals and where Julien hammers his drums without a single drop of mercy; and blending the ferocity of Death Metal with the speed of Thrash Metal the band offers us all No One Will Hear You, where Rémy and Julien will make your cranial skull tremble to the thunderous sound of their respective bass and drums. Then sounding as heavy as a stone crusher, it’s time for BleedSkin to pulverize our heads with Schizophrenia, with Benjamin and Céline yet again firing pure hatred from their guitars, and with guest Logan Dykens, the band’s former vocalist, bringing his share of dementia on backing vocals, whereas Point of No Return is an ode to the classic Death Metal sound from the 90’s and the 2000’s, with Anouk getting more and more demented on vocals as the music progresses without a single second of peace for our total delight.

Perversion of Mankind, which touches the complicated subject of pedophilia (and in order not to be censored, Anouk wrote it as if it were a children’s story where the monster is the pedophile), is another avalanche of incendiary riffs, blast beats and venomous vociferations brought forth by BleedSkin, while Silence Is Your Only Way, a song about sexism, violence against women, abortion and rape, is a demolishing composition where the music matches perfectly with the topics discussed (or maybe I should say barked) by Anouk in the lyrics, not to mention how unstoppable the band’s guitar duo sounds with their endless riffs and solos. Then more of their hellish growls and blast beats will penetrate deep inside your skin in The Dead Sale, feeling like Benjamin and Céline want to disintegrate their guitar strings due to the violence they apply to their riffage; followed by Innocent, the album’s second to last blast of classic Death Metal made in Belgium, where Benjamin is spot-on with his wicked guitar solo while Rémy doesn’t stop pounding his bass not even for a single second in a solid display of aggressiveness and rage. Lastly, how about more heaviness, anger and speed to properly close the album? That’s what they offer our metallic ears in Chaos Theory, where Anouk’s deranged, guttural roars are not recommended for the lighthearted, and with Julian dictating the pace with his demonic beats and fills.

BleedSkin’s debut full-length opus can be better appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show them your utmost support don’t forget to follow such promising band hailing from Belgium on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their sick creations and official videos, and above all that, to click HERE and purchase or stream your favorite version of Blood Reign. As you might have already noticed, those Belgian metallers do not aim at reinventing Death Metal nor anything like that, having as their main goal keeping the fires of classic Death Metal burning bright in the underground and, consequently, offering us fans a very good reason for breaking our necks headbanging and slamming like maniacs. Well, in the end, what else can we ask for in first-class extreme music, right? And thanks to the girls an boys from BleedSkin, we can rest assured we’ll have a lot of fuel to burn into the circle pit to the sound of their visceral music for quite a while.

Best moments of the album: Eternal Hatred, Schizophrenia and Silence Is Your Only Way.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Perverted Feelings 1:51
2. Eternal Hatred 3:18
3. Obsession 3:19
4. No One Will Hear You 3:44
5. Schizophrenia 3:33
6. Point of No Return 4:03
7. Perversion of Mankind 3:33
8. Silence Is Your Only Way 3:55
9. The Dead Sale 3:18
10. Innocent 4:02
11. Chaos Theory 4:03

Band members
Anouk Debecq – vocals
Benjamin Lefevre – lead guitars
Céline Mazay – guitars
Rémy Adam – bass
Julien Vanhees – drums

Guest musician
Logan Dykens – backing vocals on “Schizophrenia”, “Silence Is Your Only Way”, “The Dead Sale” and “Innocent”

Album Review – Aborted / La Grande Mascarade EP (2020)

Belgium’s own Death Metal trailblazers return with a three-track EP that will take you on a frantic journey through the realms of brutality and violence.

Forged in the fires of Waereghem, a municipality in the Belgian province of East Flanders, in the distant year of 1995, but currently featuring members from Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States, the unrelenting Brutal Death Metal trailblazers Aborted have just released a pummeling new three-track EP entitled La Grande Mascarade, containing two brand new tracks plus one previously unreleased song from the recording sessions of their 2018 album TerrorVision. Produced, mixed and mastered by Kristian ‘Kohle’ Kohlmannslehner at Kohlekeller Studio and featuring  a cadaverous artwork by Mitchell Nolte, La Grande Mascarade will take you on an 11-minute infernal journey through the realms of Death Metal and Grindcore ruled by Aborted, showcasing all the talent and fury exhaled by frontman Sven De Caluwe and his henchmen Harrison Patuto and Ian Jekelis on the guitars, Stefano Franceschini on bass and Ken Bedene on drums, leaving us all eager for more of their extreme sounds in a not-so-distant future.

And otherworldly voices kick off the brutal and visceral opening tune Gloom and the Art of Tribulation, exploding into a feast of modern-day Death Metal infused with Deathcore and Grindcore elements where Sven roars and barks like a true beast while Harrison and Ian are venomous with their riffs. Needless to say, this will undoubtedly be a fantastic addition to their live performances, not to mention the impact of its psychological lyrics on our minds (“Trauma sets in / Mesmerized by the hell I created / Swallowed whole by the darkness that lives within me / Architect of my spiritual undoing / Lover to misery”). Following such beautiful start they offer more of their trademark progressiveness and rage in another grim and cryptic song titled Serpent of Depravity, with Ken’s intricate and fulminating beats being perfectly complemented by the scorching riffs fired by the band’s guitar duo in a hybrid of Groove and Progressive Death Metal. And lastly, we’re treated to Funereal Malediction, a pure, hellish Death Metal and Grindcore devastation where Stefano and Ken make the foundations of the earth tremble with their respective weapons while Sven sounds absolutely berserk and demented on vocals. This amazing composition couldn’t have sounds more infernal than what it already does, with the complexity of their riffage and drums being beyond amazing and, therefore, resulting in a vile conclusion to the album.

This short but very entertaining (and obviously demolishing) display of Brutal Death Metal can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course, as we’re all living through such difficult times, we metalheads must stay together and provide the bands we love our true support by purchasing their music and merch, which in the case of Aborted can be done by clicking HERE or HERE. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram (in case you don’t do that already), letting them know how much you enjoy their sonic devastation and inspiring them to provide us more and more albums and EP’s like La Grande Mascarade, keeping the fires of extreme music burning and, consequently, keeping us all with a huge smile on our faces (and a lot of pain in our necks due to some brutal headbanging).

Best moments of the album: Funereal Malediction.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Gloom and the Art of Tribulation 4:38
2. Serpent of Depravity 3:21
3. Funereal Malediction 3:50

Band members
Sven De Caluwe – vocals
Harrison Patuto – guitar
Ian Jekelis – guitar
Stefano Franceschini – bass
Ken Bedene – drums

Album Review – WildHeart / No Love (2019)

Highly inspired by classic Hard Rock and Glam Metal from the 80’s, this five-piece act from Belgium will take you on an electrifying journey back to the Sunset Strip anno 1986.

Hailing from Ninove, a city and municipality located in the Flemish province of East Flanders in Belgium, Hard Rock outfit WildHeart is a young and hungry band with a great passion for and highly inspired by classic Hard Rock and Glam Metal from the 80’s such as Whitesnake, RATT, Mötley Crüe, Dokken and Van Halen, taking you on a journey back to the Sunset Strip anno 1986 with their fun and vibrant music. Having the debauchery on stage and a carefree Rock N’ Roll vibe as their top priorities, the band comprised of frontman Farty, guitarists Foxx and Juice, bassist Stevie Dee and drummer Thunderberck is offering to our ears now in 2019 their sophomore album entitled No Love, a follow-up to their also excellent self-titled debut album released in 2016.

Produced by Joren Cautaers and mastered at Mass Destruction Production in Sweden by none other than Erik Martensson, known from bands like Eclipse and W.E.T., No Love is a thrilling feast of rockin’ tunes and sounds tailored for diehard fans of the genre who are always eager to meet new bands playing that classic sonority from around 30 years ago. Even the band’s attire seems to be taken from the golden years of Glam and Heavy Metal, looking like a more serious (but still uncompromising) version of our beloved Steel Panther and really old school Van Halen.

The old school intro The Mirror grows in intensity until A Stranger’s Eyes comes crushing our heads and warming up our hearts, exhaling pure Hard Rock for lovers of the music by Motley Crüe and Poison, with the blazing riffs by Foxx and Juice dictating the song’s frantic rhythm while Farty powerfully declaims its lyrics. After such powerful start, it’s time to put on your tight leopard pants and get ready to bang your head with the band in Nothing but Trouble, a song that sounds as if it was taken straight from an album recorded in the 80’s, with Thunderberck pounding his drums with a lot of precision and Stevie Dee adding the word “metal” to the musicality armed with his bass punches; whereas a catchy riff ignites the headbanging Dutch Courage, where all band members showcase their deep passion for Glam Metal in over five minutes of first-class rock music for the masses. Moreover, Farty steals the spotlight with another fantastic vocal performance, while the band’s guitar duo breathes fire with their refined solos.

The title-track No Love leans towards classic Skid Row with hints of Survivor’s all-time hit “Eye of the Tiger”, with the sync between guitars, beats and bass being simply amazing, therefore resulting in an energizing tune that should sound beyond electrifying if played live. Then showcasing an Iron Maiden’s “From Here To Eternity”-inspired riff, led by Thunderberck’s crushing beats and presenting a pure 80’s vibe, One Way Ticket to Paradise is more than perfect for singing along with the band or enjoying it while having a relaxing ride on the highway on a summer day; and WildHeart keep hitting our heads hard with their old school music in Rumours, a song that feels like a power ballad at times, but still bringing the groove and punch from faster rock songs. Needless to say, Farty once again delivers a great performance on vocals, not to mention the band’s usual incendiary guitar solos.

Now rev up your engines for a mid-tempo Hard Rock extravaganza entitled Good to Be Bad, infused with the heavier sounds by bands like Judas Priest and Primal Fear (especially during the song’s scorching hot, metallic riffs), turning it into a great metal hymn perfect for raising your fists in the air together with the band. The Winner’s Always Right is another explosion of classic rock and metal spearheaded by Foxx’s and Juice’s unstoppable axes, while Thunderberck keeps slamming his drum set in great fashion. Well, this song definitely asks for a colorful bandana, don’t you think? Anyway, adding hints of classic Rock N’ Roll and Southern Rock to their old school musicality, this rockin’ quintet offers us the fun and fresh Valerie, and you’re already aware that every single time a Hard Rock band writes a song named after a girl, the final result exhales awesomeness. Lastly, WildHeart probably thought it was a good idea to close the album with a true headbanger, and that’s exactly what we get in Tonight We Rock, bringing to our avid ears a flammable fusion of the music by Van Halen with Scorpions, hence making it impossible to stand still to the dynamic riffs and beats blasted by the band while Farty delivers what’s perhaps his most inspired vocals of the whole album.

No Love, which by the way is available for a full and delicious listen on Spotify, is more than just another album of Hard Rock. It’s a passionate, detailed and very honest tribute from WildHeart to all of their heroes from the 80’s, working as some sort of “time machine” for everyone who loves that classic rock sonority that has been embellishing the Sunset Strip for over 30 years. Having said that, don’t forget to show those Belgian metalheads you true support and admiration by following them on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, and of course by purchasing your copy of No Love from several locations like Apple Music. After listening to No Love, I caught myself wondering if there’s a street that can be named the “Belgian Sunset Strip” in WildHeart’s homeland, having those obstinate rockers as one of the greatest new names of European Hard Rock and Glam Metal.

Best moments of the album: Dutch Courage, One Way Ticket to Paradise and Tonight We Rock.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 WildHeart Records

Track listing
1. The Mirror 1:12
2. A Stranger’s Eyes 5:21
3. Nothing but Trouble 5:00
4. Dutch Courage 5:09
5. No Love 5:03
6. One Way Ticket to Paradise 5:13
7. Rumours 6:12
8. Good to Be Bad 4:33
9. The Winner’s Always Right 4:43
10. Valerie 4:46
11. Tonight We Rock 4:47

Band members
Farty – vocals
Foxx – guitar
Juice – guitar
Stevie Dee – bass
Thunderberck – drums