Album Review – When Plagues Collide / An Unbiblical Paradigm (2023)

Belgium’s own Symphonic Deathcore institution returns with an even more impressive and bold opus that will certainly reach deep inside your blackened heart and soul.

Five years after the release of their excellent debut full-length album Tutor of the Dying, Zaventem, Belgium-based Symphonic Deathcore beast When Plagues Collide is back with an even more impressive and bold album, their sophomore effort titled An Unbiblical Paradigm, highly recommended for admirers of the music by Shadow Of Intent, Lorna Shore and Thy Art Is Murder, among others. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Yarne Heylen at Project Zero Studio, the new album by vocalist Wouter Dergez, guitarists Santy Van der Mieren and Joris Dergez, bassist Joshua Kinsbergen and drummer Siebe Hermans continues to showcase a focused and sharp band venturing through the realms of Melodic Death Metal, Symphonic Black Metal and Metalcore just like in Tutor of the Dying, but this time the quintet took up their music a notch, delivering an even stronger and more electrifying work that will certainly reach deep inside your blackened heart and soul.

An atmospheric start gradually evolves into a Symphonic Deathcore attack titled Converted Into Cipher, with Siebe hammering his drums mercilessly while Wouter roars and screams like a demonic beast, or in other words, it’s indeed a fantastic tune to kick things off; and things get even heavier and more infernal in Death In Progress, featuring guest vocals by Sven de Caluwé (Aborted, Coffin Feeder, Bent Sea), with Santy and Joris kicking some serious ass armed with their axes in the name of first-class Deathcore. God Complex is absolutely epic, imposing and majestic from start to finish, with the deep guttural by Wouter sounding truly inhumane in paradox with the song’s background keys, not to mention how thunderous the kitchen crafted by Joshua and Siebe is, whereas in The Glutton we face wicked lyrics barked by Wouter (“In the absence of daylight / We lay dying in the palm of the promised land / Where failure meets hate and mercilessness / Dominated by the sick and the cold / These barren grounds were always welcoming the nomads we are / An eternity of dying is nothing -Death is our womb”) amidst a furious Symphonic Deathcore madness.

Then the band’s stringed trio formed of Santy, Joris and Joshua will make your head tremble with their venomous riffs and bass lines in Monopoly Of Violence while Siebe keeps pounding his drums nonstop, followed by the demented The Grand Mouth Of Hell, most probably their darkest creation to date, showcasing all of their talent, rage and passion for extreme music spearheaded by the hellish gnarls by Wouter and the always piercing riffage by Santy and Joris. In Devourer Of Memories the band offers us all another round of their acid words (“This inexorable wind collects the lives of the lost and the wandering / Spreading sorrow and despondency / Whilst offering salvation through the breath of extinction / Reaching out her cold hands to deliver and ensure the loss of our cherished and beloved”) spiced up by their sick, heavy-as-hell sound, while ending the album we have the melancholic and atmospheric outro In Alle Stilte (or “in complete silence” from Dutch), with its delicate background sounds walking hand in hand with the words declaimed by Wouter.

The talented and hard working guys from When Plagues Collide are waiting for you with their undisputed Symphonic Deathcore on Facebook and on Instagram, and you can also stream all of their creations on Spotify. Furthermore, above all that, don’t forget to purchase a copy of the breathtaking An Unbiblical Paradigm from Apple Music, or click HERE for all things When Plagues Collide. It’s simply amazing to witness the growth of When Plagues Collide from their previous effort Tutor of the Dying to the sensational An Unbiblical Paradigm, positioning those Belgian metallers as one of the references in Symphonic Deathcore worldwide and, consequently, giving us several reasons to keep banging our heads and raising our horns to their first-class music.

Best moments of the album: Death In Progress, God Complex and The Grand Mouth Of Hell.

Worst moments of the album: I think In Alle Stilte could have been placed before Devourer Of Memories, which would have given the album a much more climatic ending.

Released in 2023 Necktwister/Sonic Rendezvous

Track listing
1. Converted Into Cipher 3:52
2. Death In Progress 5:03
3. God Complex 3:25
4. The Glutton 3:38
5. Monopoly Of Violence 4:23
6. The Grand Mouth Of Hell 4:33
7. Devourer Of Memories 4:39
8. In Alle Stilte 2:46

Band members
Wouter Dergez – vocals
Santy Van der Mieren – guitar
Joris Dergez – guitar
Joshua Kinsbergen – bass
Siebe Hermans – drums

Guest musician
Sven de Caluwé – additional vocals on “Death In Progress”

Metal Chick of the Month – S Caedes

Black Metal is the air that she breathes!

If you agree with the statement that humanity is a mistake, you’ll have an absolute blast with our metal lady of this month of April here on The Headbanging Moose, setting fire to our rotten and decaying world with her inhumane gnarls, unique looks and devilish attitude. Known in the underworld of extreme music as the ruthless frontwoman for bands the likes of Lebenssucht, Humanitas Error Est and I Am All Wounds, she’s the perfect depiction of the importance of women in the current Black Metal scene worldwide, inviting us all to her Stygian lair to the sound of her sulfurous and harsh yet mesmerizing music. Her name is Anett Hauzu or Anett Gebauer, but you might know her for her demonic monicker S Caedes, a German Black Metal she-wolf that will crush your damned soul with her undeniable talent and passion for the darkest side of music and arts in general.

Born and raised in Leipzig, the most populous city in the German state of Saxony, S Caedes, which by the way is the combination of “sadist” (S) and “carnage” (Caedes, in Latin), with both words standing for her character, is much more than “just” a Black Metal vocalist, being also a skillful and innovative photographer and model, and according to S Caedes herself, she’s also a “blood fetishista” and a “fucked up mind”. Married to Australian vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Chris Gebauer, of bands such as Deadspace, Humanitas Error Est and I Am All Wounds (and as you might have notice, those two are definitely “partners in crime” in most of their music projects), S Caedes mentioned in one of her interviews that she was discovering different styles of metal music when she was around 12 or 13 years old, getting to know Black Metal and falling in love with it at the age of 14, saying Black Metal was then able to provide her with a special feeling that no other type of music could. “It’s just the feeling of knowing exactly where you stand with yourself. I’m strictly anti-religious and disgusted by humanity. It’s not an empty phrase for me, it’s just… me. Black Metal stands for the hate and aggression I always had and still have inside. I can’t put it better in words. When you’re really into Black Metal, you’ll know what I mean. Either you feel it or not,” commented S Caedes, who also said that after discovering Black Metal she always wanted to be on stage and scream the hell out of her throat, but she didn’t do anything to create a band then.

It was close to the end of 2012 when S Caedes together with drummer Ahephaïm started searching for musicians to finally form a Black Metal band, which was the initial spark for what would become Leipzig, Germany-based Brutal Black Metal entity Humanitas Error Est. One year later, S Caedes and Ahephaïm finally had a complete band lineup and started creating songs for their first album as Humanitas Error Est, resulting in their 2016 eleven-track beast Human Pathomorphism. A project with negative thoughts against any religions and pure misanthropy, Humanitas Erorr Est “is about confronting the world with its own brutality, its own sadism, its own hypocritical statement of liberty. It’s about unleashing indomitability, stir up hatred. It’s a scornful critical examination at mankind itself,” as stated by the band itself, with their name being the idea of Ahephaïm, a very unique, not cliché-ridden name that represents exactly what they stand for, meaning as already mentioned “humanity is a mistake” or “humanity is an error” in Latin.

After the tough decision of disbanding in 2019, S Caedes and Ahephaïm spent the better half of 2019 and early 2020 searching for the right musicians to propel them forward, with their new lineup being comprised of our metal lady and the band’s drummer, of course, together with Basmu (aka Chris Gebauer) on vocals, Arboria and Mictician on the guitars, and Fenrir on bass, turning the band into a multinational horde with members from Germany, Belgium, France and Australia. After the band being reborn like a phoenix, a new song was released back in 2020 entitled An Inexcusable Existence, available for purchase directly from their BandCamp page, following the same misanthropic and anti-human tropes expressed in their earlier work, and you can compare their new sound with their older songs the likes of Raping Religions and Pain Feeder to see their inner fire is still intact. Moreover, the band is currently working on a new album, which I’m sure will be amazingly brutal.

Her other major band, the venomous Depressive Suicidal Black Metal outfit Lebenssucht, is also a multi-national group with most members being the same as from Humanitas Error Est, those being S Caedes on vocals,  Ahephaïm on drums, Arboria on the guitars, Basmu on bass, and the non-Humanitas Error Est member Irleskan, from Austria, on lead guitars. One interesting fact about Lebenssucht is that the band was originally formed by S Caedes and Ahephaïm together with a third member, renowned vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Déhà (from bands like Acathexis, Déhà and Yhdarl, among several others, and who also mastered the debut album by Humanitas Error Est), who left the band in 2019. Despite not being a member of Lebenssucht anymore, Déhà is seen like a brother by S Caedes, showing all respect and admiration they have for each other. Lebenssucht, which means “lust for life” or “life addiction”, don’t have any limits as per S Caedes herself, and although the style played by the band is labeled as Depressive Suicidal Black Metal, the project is not about bringing hatred to the world. “It’s about enjoying your life, no matter what price you have to pay for. It’s about turning negativity into strength. Life is our drug,” commented S Caedes. If you want to properly experience the music by Lebenssucht, you can find their 2016 debut EP Fucking My Knife and their 2020 full-length opus -273​,​15°C (which represents absolute zero, the lowest possible temperature where heat energy is absent in a substance) on Spotify and on BandCamp, and enjoy the officials videos for A Hole in My Heart, Mirrors and Beloved Depression on YouTube, and stay tuned as their next album is going to sound even harsher, according to S Caedes herself.

Apart from her work with Humanitas Error Est and Lebenssucht, the unstoppable S Caedes is also one half of the stunning Black Metal duo  I Am All Wounds, together with her life partner Chris Gebauer, describing their music as “two souls colliding in a frenzied internal storm”, or “a sonic illustration of two beings woven together in fervent longing, an unyielding force,” having recorded the EP Keep Me Breathing in 2020, available on their BandCamp page and which contains the beautiful song You’re The Air That I Breathe. Not only that, she has also participated in a live improvisation recording named XXVI – IX – MMXV together with Ahephaïm and Déhà, recorded on September 26, 2015 (but released only in 2020) at Gate 32 Studios in Sofia, Bulgaria.

If you think all of those bands are projects are enough for S Caedes, you’re absolutely wrong, as our diva of darkness can also be found as a guest vocalist in the song Libido Dominandi, from the 2019 EP of the same name released by Australian Depressive Black/Gothic Metal act Deadspace; and also doing vocals on the songs The Unfair Betrayal, Insomnia and Morbus, from the 2019 album Morbus, and additional vocals on the 2019 live album Live at Brutal Assault 2017, both by Déhà’s Drone/Doom/Black Metal project Yhdarl; plus a couple of other guest appearances with the Black Metal bands Withering Night and Absolutus. Do you want more? What if I told you S Caedes was also the artwork model and was responsible for the editing in Deadspace’s 2019 EP Libido Dominandi; took care of the logo and layout for the 2020 EP Nuclear Sundown, by German Black/Doom Metal one-man project Exitium Sui; did the photography for the 2016 demo Century of the Goat, by German Black/Thrash Metal band Goatfuck; and also took care of the layout for the 2020 EP Keep Me Breathing, by her own project I Am All Wounds?

Not only that, S Caedes also did lots of videos for different bands (either her own or other unrelated bands), including the videos for the songs Moksha, by Deadspace; Serpent on a Cross, by Spectral Damnation; A Hole In My Heart, by Lebenssucht; An Inexcusable Existence, by Humanitas Error Est; teasers and trailers for Deadspace and Lebenssucht; and just finished the music video for Demenzia Mortis, which is yet to be released. When asked how she’s capable of maintaining a healthy balance between so many bands and projects with diverse sounds, she said that as each band carries a special part of her character and her view of life she needs them all to express herself with all emotions, always remaining true to herself and her principles, and saving enough physical and mental energy for each one of them.

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As expected, S Caedes is obviously highly influenced by countless Black Metal bands, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t enjoy other styles such as Dark Ambient, Doom Metal, Martial Industrial, Death Metal and so on, and that she doesn’t own records from completely different artists such as Shakin’ Stevens and Rosenstolz. Among her favorite bands you’ll find great names the likes of Darvaza, Ritual Death, Merrimack, Vortex Of End, Aversio Humanitati, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber, Arkhon Infaustus, Benighted, Ondskapt,  just to name a few; on the Dark Ambient side she likes listening to Slaughter Natives, Gnaw Their Tongues, Triarii and Puissance, among others; and on the Martial Industrial side S Caedes likes groups such as Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, in special their song The Love & Defiance of Being Alive. “People who know me well often call me complicated concerning my taste of music. I don’t agree with that, I just don’t listen to every shit, that’s the point. Music needs to be able to crawl in my head and stay there, squeeze out my inner self, fuck my brain an give me goosebumps or the will to mosh like a psycho,” commented S Caedes about her unique taste in music, always focusing on the importance of Black Metal in her life and career. “Black Metal is my life, as ridiculous as it maybe sounds to some readers, it’s like that. It’s my personal freedom, I can lay down and just be who I really am.”

Regarding her vocal style and technique, S Caedes said in one of her interviews that in the beginning she just tried out what she could do with her voice, with her training songs being Sluts of Hell from Nattefrost and Bleached Bones from Marduk, and her throat was always scratching like hell after. She then started searching online for instructions on how to use her voice properly and found a very helpful video named The Zen Of Screaming, by renowned vocal coach Melissa Cross, also asking other vocalists for their advice. “It’s really great to discover your voice, trying out what is possible,” commented S Caedes, who also said that it’s important to reach a good balance to be able to sing extreme music. Moreover, when asked about her view of touring with a band and playing live, she mentioned that her bands’ audiences should always be ready to engage with them, as the bands always deliver a very emotional and honest performance. “The advantage of being on stage is that you can let out all your emotions in such extreme way, which is simply not possible when you’re at home. On stage I’m completely in rage, it’s like a shot in my head, letting the audience suck what comes out. Blood always brings me to this special state of mind. I’m a heavy blood fetishist (real blood, no fake shit!), it’s a big passion of mine and I just love being covered in it. When the music begins, I’m not thinking anymore, I’m just 100% in the songs and always give my everything. Off stage… well, I fought several years against all of these rule-based behaviors and finally succeed to be able to do in life what satisfies myself. Family and friends call me a bulldozer. Typical Aries. I agree with that. I’m a sadist. I like to torture slaves. I’m not beating around the bush with that. In addition, I’m also working as photographer and model. So, yeah I have quite a lot to do, but it’s exactly what makes me happy. I don’t care about being evil (whatever that means). I only care about my very needs.” She also said that she really doesn’t care if she plays in front of 50 or 5000 people, mentioning their performances at Underground Remains Open Air, Night Of Blasphemy and Boarstream Open Air as really mind-blowing moments.

When asked about the current Black Metal scene worldwide and in her homeland Germany, S Caedes said she sees it as a big family, finding like-minded people who are able to understand her point of view as opposed to the stress and hypocrisy that comes from living in a regular society. “Most people have their daily routine with all these stupid rules (e.g. dress code at work). Black Metal helps (helped me) to break through (social) conventions, finding myself and staying true to myself. Black Metal can help to relieve everyday’s negativity,” said our Black Metal she-demon, who also believes the Black Metal scene in Germany is a bit more elitist than in other countries as the scene is very developed with lots of festivals, labels and bands. “The fact is that I don’t care from which country a band is. It’s all about the music. Nothing more, nothing less.”

S Caedes is also an accomplished photographer and fetish model, usually under the name Anett Gebauer,  having her own website named Anett Gebauer Photo & Film dedicated to that form of art, and stating that her intent is to express various moods and emotions that are sometimes hidden from the naked eye. “Through the visual arts, I work to uncover underlying voices in order to portray alternative perceptions of life without limits. My work is about exposing the beauty of raging desires, unleashing your inner self, and for those who like it the morbid and obscure way, also daring to drown in deep dark waters. I invite you to take a deeper look under the surface. Through my images, I study the unconscious creatures of the collective human existence – pulsating, seductive and also shocking.” She also offers band shootings, CD artwork, music video creation and retouchings, is bookable for events and live photography, and does self-photography and work as a model. “I am a lover of dark arts, spanning from visual arts, film, music and literature. I create art that is rooted in life, with either positive or negative influences. All my work is inspired by bare emotions and the depths of human existence. I am forever excessive, perfervid, dirty-minded and stay always hungry for more.” Furthermore, she has already been part of several exhibitions, including Heart Of Darkness, in 2018 in the United States; Radiant Art Festival, in 2016 in Belgium; Session Noire, in 2011 in Germany and Belgium; and Art-P, in 2009 and 2010 also in Germany, among others.

Last but not least, S Caedes has a peculiar view on different topics, sometimes controversial, sometimes fairly straightforward. For instance, she said that one of the things she wishes the most is that the endless suffering of animals would finally end and that they would be accepted and respected as sentient beings; and also that her mom is her real life childhood hero, as she’s still grateful to her for a lot of things. “Honestly, I didn’t want me as a daughter,” commented S Caedes, who also said that as a wrestling fanatic her biggest heroes in the sport are Triple H and Sabu. “There was just so much blood in their matches, an intoxicating and formatively awesome sight for me.” As you can see, S Caedes is not just an amazing musician and artist, but also a great human being with a lot to offer to the metal community, always carrying the flag of Black Metal, the flag of freedom of expression and the flag of arts in general proudly high, and we’ll always be grateful to her for being so awesome and for creating such inspiring music and imagery.

S Caedes’ Official Facebook page
S Caedes’ Official Instagram
Anett Gebauer Photo & Film’s Official Facebook page
Anett Gebauer Photo & Film’s Official Instagram
Humanitas Error Est’s Official Facebook page
Humanitas Error Est’s Official Instagram
Humanitas Error Est’s Official YouTube channel
Lebenssucht’s Official Facebook page
Lebenssucht’s Official Instagram
Lebenssucht’s Official YouTube channel

“I don’t care about underground or popularity. I want to reach people who understand our music, who are able to feel our music.” – S Caedes

Album Review – Elusion / The Fundamental Paradox (2023)

Let the music from the sophomore album by this Belgian Symphonic Metal trio embrace you, showcasing a continuous evolution of their sound.

Fans of Beyond the Black, Ad Infinitum, Epica and Within Temptation, among several other big names of the European symphonic and melodic scene, will have an amazing time listening to The Fundamental Paradox, the sophomore effort by a Belgian Symphonic Metal band that goes by the stylish name of Elusion. Currently formed of Evy Verbruggen on vocals, Domingo Smets on the guitars and backing vocals, and Frederik Van Mieghem on drums, the trio showcases a continuous evolution of the Elusion sound in their new installment compared to their debut album Singularity, released back in 2019, living up to the legacy of the genre while also carving their name in the underground Belgian scene by offering our avid ears nine solid songs throughout the album’s 42 minutes of music.

In the opening tune …In Love and War we already face a huge dosage of classic Heavy Metal added to their core Symphonic Metal thanks to the incendiary riffs by Domingo, with Evy kicking ass with both her strident clean vocals and her she-demon gnarls, whereas the sound of the rumbling bass will punch you in the head in the also electrifying Chiaroscuro, with Frederik dictating the song’s pace behind his drums, therefore offering Evy the perfect ambience for her soaring vocals. Acrimonious is even groovier and more metallic than the previous songs, with Domingo and Frederik being in absolute sync with their sonic weapons, once again sounding a lot more modern than classic Symphonic Metal mainly due to its Progressive and Groove Metal nuances. And there’s no sign of slowing down as the trio keeps embellishing the airwaves with their sharp music in Adversity, presenting another awesome performance by Evy on vocals supported by the crushing beats by Frederik and all of the song’s background elements.

The first single of the album, entitled Science|Fiction, brings to our avid ears more of the band’s incendiary Symphonic Metal spearheaded by the razor-edged riffage and solos by Domingo; and the tribalistic vocalizations by Evy ignite the next tune, titled From the Woods to the Water, a solid piece by Elusion despite lacking the same energy of the rest of the album. It’s then time to blast a purely European Symphonic Metal tune named In Balance, where Domingo keeps extracting endless electricity from his axe accompanied by the pounding drums by Frederik; whereas enhancing their epicness and emotion, the trio fires the symphonic extravaganza Isochronism, showcasing classic riffs, hammering drums, stunning orchestrations and the always enfolding vocals by Evy. Lastly, after such charming song the band closes the album on a high note with Deafening Silence, bringing forward another round of the metallic guitars by Domingo and the vicious but intricate beats by Frederik.

If you want to know more about Evy, Domingo and Frederik, listen to more of their their music, and stay up to date about their tour dates and plans for the future, you can find those Belgian metallers on Facebook, on Instagram, on YouTube, and on Spotify, and above all that, you can grab your copy of The Fundamental Paradox from the band’s own BandCamp page. After listening to each and every track from The Fundamental Paradox, we must all agree that Elusion are hands down one of the most interesting names of the Belgian Symphonic and Melodic Metal scene, with their newborn opus representing not only a big step in their career, but it’s also another must-listen album made in Belgium, leaving us eager for more of their refined music in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Adversity, Science|Fiction and In Balance.

Worst moments of the album: From the Woods to the Water.

Released in 2023 Independent

Track listing
1. …In Love and War 3:43
2. Chiaroscuro 3:49
3. Acrimonious 4:20
4. Adversity 4:24
5. Science|Fiction 4:05
6. From the Woods to the Water 5:48
7. In Balance 6:23
8. Isochronism 4:29
9. Deafening Silence 5:21

Band members
Evy Verbruggen – vocals
Domingo Smets – guitars, backing vocals
Frederik Van Mieghem – drums

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.