Album Review – Ibaraki / Rashumon (2022)

Trivium’s own Matt Heafy turns his inner demon into first-class Black Metal in his new solo project, the end-result of a journey to find his own voice.

Originally formed in 2012 under the name Mrityu by Trivium’s own vocalist and guitarist Matt Heafy with the goal of generating Norwegian-style Black Metal (while also presenting elements from Extreme Progressive Metal and Metalcore in its sound), United States-based Black Metal project Ibaraki (which is by the way the name for a terrifying Japanese demon taken from feudal legend) has finally unleashed upon humanity its debut effort, entitled Rashomon, which according to Matt himself is the end-result of a journey to find his voice. Mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Recording Studios, and produced and engineered by Emperor’s one and only Ihsahn, Rashomon is more than just an expression of Matt and Ihsahn’s deep creative resonance, with his bandmates from Trivium, those being guitarist Corey Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto and drummer Alex Bent, contributing to the album as session musicians. “The violence in America towards Asians, the murders of Asians because of people’s small-mindedness – we can see what’s happening. It’s like I never quite felt like I was Asian enough because I’m half and I never felt white enough because I’m half, but I feel like it’s important for me to talk about this now. Everything has a rich, amazing, beautiful culture behind it – every single civilization, every culture, every walk of life. So I hope that it can make Asian metalheads or Asian fans of music feel a little bit more represented. It’s great to be able to say, ‘this is where I’m from,’ and, ‘this is who I am.’,” commented Matt about the album.

Hakanaki Hitsuzen (which translates as something like “inevitably ephemeral”) is a whimsical intro that will transport you to the world of Ibaraki before Matt and his crew come ripping in Kagutsuchi, where Matt is on fire with both his enraged screams and unstoppable riffs accompanied by the always pulverizing drums by Alex. Furthermore, everything from the breaks and variations to its ethereal passages, clean vocals and the ass-kicking bass solo by Paolo is stunning, resulting in a lesson in Experimental Black Metal. Then continuing his path of experimentations and progressiveness, we’re treated to another explosion of majestic Black Metal entitled Ibaraki-Dōji, with Matt and Corey slashing their stringed axes while Alex sounds infernal on drums, all enhanced by the song’s background orchestrations. In Jigoku Dayu, an acoustic start evolves into a gentle sonority to the calm, clean vocals by Matt, sounding enfolding until the very end, whereas in Tamashii no Houkai (or “collapse of the soul”), featuring Ihsahn on lead guitars, the band blasts a vicious fusion of classic Black Metal with progressiveness, rage and groove, also showcasing another great vocal performance by Matt.

The skies get darker and darker as the music progresses in Akumu (which means “nightmare”), where you can sense all the anguish and despair in Matt’s roars supported by Alex’s massive beats and the beastly gnarls by guest vocalist Nergal of Behemoth; followed by Komorebi (or “sunbeams”), a very melodic tune presenting different layers plus lead guitars by Corey, despite lacking the same energy of its predecessors. Then alternating between smooth passages and the hellish heaviness of Black Metal we have one of the most detailed of all songs, Rōnin, featuring backing vocals by Norwegian vocalist Heidi Solberg Tveitan of Starofash, who’s by the way married to Ihsahn and has a son, Angell Solberg Tveitan, and a daughter, Ariadne Solberg Tveitan, with him, both also doing backing vocals on the song, plus additional screams by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance and lead guitars by Ihsahn. Susanoo no Mikoto is as experimental and groovy as it can be, with Paolo and Alex generating a rumbling atmosphere perfect for Matt’s screams while the song’s second half is a wicked sonic experiment conducted by Matt and featuring additional vocals by Ihsahn. And lastly, it’s time for a little less than three minutes of pure eccentricity entitled Kaizoku (or “pirate”), with Matt declaiming the song’s lyrics like a true bard.

The breathtaking, multi-layered Rashomon can be better  appreciated in its full glory on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course you can add it to your private collection of Extreme Metal albums by grabbing your favorite version of it from Ibaraki’s official homepage or by clicking HERE, and don’t forget to also follow the project on Facebook and on Instagram for news and, who knows, some tour dates in the upcoming months, and to subscribe to its YouTube channel for more wicked videos. It might have taken almost 10 years for Matt and his inner demon Ibaraki to finally see the light of day, but the wait was definitely worth it as the music found in Rashomon is outstanding to say the least, and hopefully Matt will continue his path of self-discovery with Ibaraki in the coming years, bringing to us fans more of his experimental fusion of extreme music with progressive elements and Japanese legends.

Best moments of the album: Kagutsuchi, Ibaraki-Dōji, Akumu and Rōnin.

Worst moments of the album: Komorebi.

Released in 2022 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Hakanaki Hitsuzen (儚き必然) 1:28
2. Kagutsuchi (迦具土) 7:34
3. Ibaraki-Dōji (茨木童子) 7:51
4. Jigoku Dayu (地獄太夫) 7:40
5. Tamashii no Houkai (魂の崩壊) 5:58
6. Akumu (悪夢) 5:53
7. Komorebi (木漏れ日) 6:06
8. Rōnin (浪人) 9:13
9. Susanoo no Mikoto (須佐之男命) 7:12
10. Kaizoku (海賊) 2:53

Band members
Matt Heafy – vocals, guitars

Guest musicians
Corey Beaulieu – guitars, lead guitars on “Komorebi”
Paolo Gregoletto – bass, bass solo on “Kagutsuchi”
Alex Bent – drums
Ihsahn – lead guitars on “Tamashii no Houkai” and “Rōnin”, additional vocals on “Susanoo no Mikoto”
Nergal – additional vocals on “Akumu”
Heidi Solberg Tveitan – backing vocals on “Rōnin”, samples on “Susanoo no Mikoto”
Gerard Way – additional vocals on “Rōnin”
Angell Solberg Tveitan – backing vocals on “Rōnin”
Ariadne Solberg Tveitan – backing vocals on “Rōnin”

Metal Chick of the Month – Jayn Maiven

So long in fear, I have gazed ghost tears….

It’s time to darken the skies here at The Headbanging Moose in this month of May thanks to the somber and absolutely beautiful music crafted by our metal lady of the month, and I bet you’ll get addicted to her voice after listening to her Stygian creations. Inspired by natured in all her forms, this West Yorkshire, England-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist is known by many under her nom de plume of Darkher, one of the most interesting names of the current folk and doom scene worldwide. I’m talking about Jayn Maiven, a multi-talented woman who devotes her life to dark music for our total delight, and who has a beyond bright future ahead of her and her Darkher as all of her releases are simply awesome.

As I like to say about this type of project, there’s no Jayn Maiven without Darkher and vice-versa, with Darkher representing not only Jayn’s alter-ego but also her view of our world, using her musical creature as a catharsis that can be noticed from her painful and truthful lyrics. Conceived as the sole brainchild and solo project of our unrelenting flame-haired metal diva in 2012, whose fragile elegance lies the creator of a powerfully emotive work, Darkher brings forth an amalgamation of sounds and styles carefully embraced by the project’s trademark fusion of folk and doom music, with her compositions inviting the listener into the mystical ancient world characterized by slowly building storm clouds of guitars and Jayn’s haunting, spine-tinglingly evocative voice.

Having already released her self-titled debut EP in 2013, followed by the 2014 EP The Kingdom Field and the full-length albums Realms, from 2016, and The Buried Storm, released earlier this year, the sound of Darkher has been described as “ghostly transmissions that sound like they were delivered by lost souls in the dead of night”, leading her to support several renowned acts the likes of Robin Guthrie, Dead Meadow, Esben And The Witch, Enslaved and Chelsea Wolfe, and playing in festivals such as Roadburn Festival and Damnation, among others. Creating extraordinarily dark music full of contrasts, including both chilling loneliness and the warmth of hope, Darkher is a derivate of the words “dark” and “her”, showcasing some sort of symbolism from Jayn’s past as she wanted to find a name which she felt better described the direction she had been heading in with her solo career after a decade working with and around other musicians.

Several different guest musicians have already been involved with Jayn in Darkher, such as for example guitarist and bassist Martin Wissenberg, former My Dying Bride drummer Shaun ‘Winter’ Taylor-Steels, drummer Christopher Smith, cellists Ludvig Swärd (Forndom), Arianna Mahsayeh and Melanie Chaplin, violinist Lambert Segura and guitarist Daniel Land. If you want to see the result of the collaboration between our skillful vocalist, guitarist, composer, lyricist and producer with all those distinguished musicians, you can enjoy the official videos on YouTube for Where the Devil Waits (filmed at the stunning location of Muncaster Castle in Cumbria, within its Victorian gardens and grounds), a song of empowerment and light relating to the shadows within that lead to attachment, to what can become destructive; Love’s Sudden Death, a dark, romantic ballad which was heavily inspired by the mood of the ancient landscape as it mirrors the emotions within, being “dramatic, beautiful and sometimes bleak” as mentioned by Jayn herself; Hollow Veil, recorded in Salem Woods in October 2015; as well as Ghost Tears, Immortals, Lament, and The Dawn Brings a Saviour, or you can also enjoy The Buried Storm in its entirety on YouTube, and all of her albums on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to show your support to Jayn and her Darkher by purchasing her releases from her BandCamp page and through her Patreon.

Before forming Darkher, our unstoppable rock and metal diva was a member of Epic Dark Folk band The Steals for several years, having released with them the EP Floodlights, in 2006, and the full-length effort Stactic Kingdom, in 2009, both available on Spotify and on BandCamp. However, that wasn’t the path she actually wanted to follow in her career after a certain time. “Throughout the years I was previously working on tracks for The Steals album and EP, I was in a very sombre state and I needed to make music to lift me out of that state. By the time I was ready to start writing songs again for what would be Darkher, I felt that I needed to symbolically burn what I had in order to begin a new chapter,” commented Jayn in one of her interviews, describing the musical metamorphosis that was happening inside her.

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In addition, her inspirations in music and life in general come from very distinct sources. For instance, she always says that her father has been a huge inspiration to her growing up, with both her parents having encouraged her passion for creating music for many years. “I am mostly inspired by my inner world, emotions and imagination, which I run in parallel to the outer world. Nature and the elements are always with me when I write, and are equally as inspiring for me due to their mood and drama,” said Jayn in one of her interviews, also mentioning that her lyrics are always from her deepest depths, past, future or present, and showcasing a strong fascination for water. “When I walk each day to The Kingdom Field I pass a river, everyday is a different picture, it has its own life force and seemingly personality. Where I live is surrounded by water, I live in the basin of a valley, a hamlet which is surrounded by streams, rivers and a canal all of which have caused flooding. So I think because of this I am deeply respectful of water in its many forms.”

Heavily influenced by mood-based dark music from an early age, and having a father who performed on stage in the 60’s, not only she grew up in a musical house but she has always nurtured a deep passion for the darker exponents of the post punk indie scene. “I was really into bands like the Sex Gang Children, Virgin Prunes and Alien Sex Fiend. I’ve always suffered with a bit of a depression and as a teenager was drawn to dark music and the whole theatrical Goth thing. I loved the textures and atmosphere of guitars,” also saying that at one point she was completely absorbed by the Cocteau Twins and she used to re-play their performance of Pink Orange Red on the TV every night after school. On the other hand, if you think Amalie Bruun’s Danish Black Metal band Myrkur has had any influence on Darkher’s style, being even called “Myrkur for the Folkies”, you’re absolutely wrong. “I’ve only come across her name very recently, I haven’t listened to her music yet, so I’m not sure if there is any thread of similarity,” said our diva.

When asked about her evolution from Realms until The Buried Storm, Jayn said that she sees it as a continuation of her creativity, feeling like it has many similar elements in the instrumentation, though she puts even more emphasis on the vocal harmonies as a feature on her newest album and she believes it leans towards a more cinematic feel. Moreover, the pandemic doesn’t seem to have had a negative impact on her creative process for The Buried Storm. “The effects of the pandemic were actually quite beneficial for me, to be able to take time out from any tour dates and really focus on the writing and recording. I also spent even more time alone, which I found to be very necessary for the writing process,” commented Jayn, and we must all agree with her the whole pandemic has been positive at least for the writing process of not only Darkher but countless other bands out there, who obviously had a lot more time to focus on their creative process with the whole touring thing being on hold for almost two years.

Interested in art and photography, beautiful and inspiring imagery, animals and nature, Jayn tries to spend half of her life outdoors, also nurturing a deep passion for doing videos and photographic imagery, which for her is all part of the creative process. “When I make music I see a lot of visions and imagery, so it’s great to be able to achieve some of that in video form,” said Jayn, which can be easily noticed in the video for Ghost Tears, for example. “The environment that I am surrounded by and the vast landscape is always in my mind when I write as I see music in a very visual way. For this reason I would love to one day try to write for film or TV and I equally feel the presence of many images when I write or produce. The studio walls otherwise would not inspire me to develop the sound and present it in such a way,” complemented our multi-talented artist. And lastly, when asked what the secret is to keep her long flaming hair look so grandiose and beautiful, she simply said there’s no actual secret, just that she never cuts it and therefore it serves her well for hiding behind it. Well, of course we would love to see her face on all of her videos, but the combination of nature and her long, incendiary hair is more than enough to keep us hooked not only on her music, but on her stunning art in general.

Darkher’s Official Facebook page
Darkher’s Official Instagram
Darkher’s Official YouTube channel
Darkher’s Official BandCamp page

“I find it very healing to make music, like a form of meditation.” – Jayn Maiven

Album Review – Watain / The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain (2022)

One of the world’s most well-known and notorious Black Metal bands is finally unleashing upon us their infernal seventh full-length opus.

Crawled out of Satan’s cunt in 1998 and has since then ascended and grown into one of the world’s most well-known and notorious Black Metal bands, Uppsala/Stockholm, Sweden-based horde Watain returns from the underworld with their greatly anticipated seventh studio album, entitled The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain. Continuing to arouse and electrify their audience with an unmistakable, adventurous brand of Black Metal Magic processed and distilled over the course of a 25-year long history, vocalist E. Danielsson and guitarist P. Forsberg, together with session musicians H. Eriksson on the guitar, A. Lillo on bass and E. Forcas on drums, show no mercy for our souls throughout the 50 minutes of insanity found in their new album. Recorded live inside an old church on the Swedish countryside, produced by T. Stjerna at Necromorbus Studio, and displaying a sick artwork by the band’s own vocalist E. Danielsson in collaboration with Indonesian artist Oik Wasfuk, The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain takes the listener one step closer to the innermost heart of a band that despite always being surrounded by rumors and controversy has always strived for the most sincere and genuine ways of expression.

The visceral riffs by P. Forsberg and H. Eriksson will cut your skin deep in the fulminating opening track Ecstasies in Night Infinite, a brutal, old school Swedish Black Metal aria for our vulgar delectation, not to mention how infernal E. Forcas sounds on drums; whereas E. Danielsson growls and gnarls like a true servant of Satan in The Howling, with his bandmates blasting more of their demolishing Black Metal. Serimosa, a word or name of power communicated out of unknown origin which tells of the electric notion of the coming of a great power, is even darker, heavier and more atmospheric, or in other words, a different but amazing side of the band led by the demonic vociferations by E. Danielsson, followed by Black Cunt, which as you can see carries a Stygian name for another round of the band’s Mephistophelian Black Metal where P. Forsberg and H. Eriksson take the lead with their sulfurous riffs and solos. And back to their most demented mode the band offers us all the blackened chant Leper’s Grace, showcasing absolutely hellish guitar lines accompanied by the blast beast by E. Forcas and the massive bass punches by A. Lillo.

The cryptic instrumental interlude Not Sun Nor Man Nor God sets the stage for Watain to kill again in Before the Cataclysm, utterly violent and obscure from the very first second, with E. Danielsson roaring nonstop with tons of anger and hatred in his damned heart, therefore living up to the legacy of classic Swedish Black Metal. Then featuring guest vocalist Farida Lemouchi (Molasses, The Devil’s Blood) and guest guitarist Gottfrid Åhman (Invidious, In Solitude) we’re treated to We Remain, and Farida will crush your corrupted, doomed heart with her enfolding vocals while the band blends the most obscure elements of Black and Doom Metal, resulting in a stunning hymn to darkness. Get ready to be pulverized by those Swedish devils in Funeral Winter, where E. Forcas is on fire behind his drums dictating the song’s pace while his bandmates extract pure evil from their sonic weapons, and before Watain crawls back into the shadows they offer our avid ears the old school Septentrion, with the band’s guitar duo slashing our minds with their wicked riffage.

You can experience the same agony and ecstasy of such important band from the global Black Metal scene by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by streaming more of their infernal creations on Spotify, and above all that, by purchasing the excellent The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain by clicking HERE or HERE. Characterized by a twisted beauty and primal ecstatic force, Watain are the wolf that keeps on hunting, fearless and free, in the dark night of man, with their new album depicting that hunt to perfection thanks to its endless heaviness, obscurity, rage and hatred, all elements that have made our beloved Black Metal so powerful and compelling through the years, while the band keeps always exploring the winding depths of both mind and spirit with a new sense of clarity and determination.

Best moments of the album: Ecstasies in Night Infinite, Serimosa, Leper’s Grace and We Remain.

Worst moments of the album: Black Cunt.

Released in 2022 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Ecstasies in Night Infinite 4:01
2. The Howling 4:05
3. Serimosa 5:26
4. Black Cunt 5:25
5. Leper’s Grace 4:09
6. Not Sun Nor Man Nor God 1:26
7. Before the Cataclysm 7:25
8. We Remain 6:15
9. Funeral Winter 4:27
10. Septentrion 6:43

Band members
E. Danielsson – vocals
P. Forsberg – guitars

Guest musicians
H. Eriksson – guitars (session)
A. Lillo – bass (session)
E. Forcas – drums (session)
Farida Lemouchi – vocals on “We Remain”
Gottfrid Åhman – lead guitar on “We Remain”

Album Review – Abbath / Dread Reaver (2022)

Riff-maestro Abbath Doom Occulta returns with total metal mayhem in the form of his third full-length opus, cementing his place among the Black Metal hierarchy.

After the successful releases of his 2016 debut self-titled album and the 2019 opus Outstrider, Bergen, Norway-based Black Metal riff-maestro Abbath Doom Occulta is ready to cement his place among the metal hierarchy with Dread Reaver, his third album with his eponymous project Abbath. Recorded at Dub Studio with additional recordings at Bergen Lydstudio, produced by Endre Kirkesola and Dag Erik Nygaard, mixed by Abbath himself and Endre Kirkesola, and mastered by Maor Appelbaum at Maor Appelbaum Mastering, Dread Reaver might not represent a revolution in Black Metal, but it’s indeed a vibrant and visceral album of extreme music by the aforementioned Abbath on vocals, guitars and bass together with Ole André Farstad on lead and acoustic guitars, Mia Wallace on bass, and Ukri Suvilehto on drums, offering the listener his signature blend of blistering Speed Metal, traditional metal influences, and of course a touch of ice cold Black Metal, the perfect recipe for total metal mayhem.

Let’s cut to the chase and join Abbath in pitch black darkness to the opening tune Acid Haze, a demolishing Black Metal extravaganza led by the scorching riffs by Abbath and Ole supported by the bestial bass by Mia and the infernal beats by Ukri, and continuing their path of devastation the band brings forward Scarred Core, showcasing more of Mia’s crushing bass jabs while Abbath roars the song’s austere words like a demonic entity and Ole delivers an ass-kicking guitar solo made in hell. Then a sinister acoustic intro sets the stage for Abbath to kill again in Dream Cull, sounding less violent but absolutely obscure and evil from start to finish with Ukri dictating the song’s galloping pace; whereas Ukri keeps hammering his drums in Myrmidon accompanied by the razor-edged riffs by Abbath and Ole. In other words, it’s Abbath’s trademark Black Metal infused with hints of classic Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, and the final result is obviously awesome.

Mia’s rumbling bass returns in The Deep Unbound, a bestial composition that will smash you like an insect to the venomous growling by Abbath; and more of the band’s raw Black Metal is offered in Septentrion, with the pounding drums by Ukri walk hand in hand with the incendiary riffage by Abbath and Ole. Their rendition to Metallica’s Trapped Under Ice (check out an original live version of it HERE) is indeed a fun ride, with Abbath’s raspy vocals adding a touch of malignancy to the overall result; and our Norwegian black metaller still has a lot of fuel to burn together with his horde in The Book Of Breath, another straightforward Black Metal tune where Ukri fires violent, melodic beats nonstop, while the title-track Dread Reaver closes the regular version of the album with a dense and heavy atmosphere spearheaded by Abbath’s demonic gnarls and Mia’s smashing bass lines. However, if you go for the physical edition of the album you’ll be treated to an amazing bonus track, the band’s fun cover version for Motörhead’s Make My Day (check the original version HERE), where Abbath sounds like Lemmy incarnate on vocals for our total delight.

Abbath’s brand new effort can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course if you consider yourself a true servant of Norwegian Black Metal you can purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE, and also support Abbath and his horde by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram to stay up to date with their news, tour dates and so on. With Dread Reaver it feels like Abbath is reaching the desired shape and form of his music and style, and hopefully he’ll keep delivering high-quality Black Metal for admirers of the genre for many years to come now that he seems to be free from drugs and alcohol, focusing only on what really matters, which is crafting devilish music just the way we like it in the name of darkness.

Best moments of the album: Acid Haze, Myrmidon and The Deep Unbound.

Worst moments of the album: Septentrion.

Released in 2022 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. Acid Haze 4:51
2. Scarred Core 3:29
3. Dream Cull 4:15
4. Myrmidon 4:33
5. The Deep Unbound 4:07
6. Septentrion 4:28
7. Trapped Under Ice (Metallica cover) 3:59
8. The Book Of Breath 4:35
9. Dread Reaver 4:43

CD bonus track
10. Make My Day (Motörhead cover) 4:16

Band members
Abbath – vocals, guitars, bass
Ole André Farstad – lead and acoustic guitars
Mia Wallace – bass on “Acid Haze”, “Scarred Core”, “The Deep Unbound” and “Dread Reaver”
Ukri Suvilehto – drums

Album Review – Dark Funeral / We Are The Apocalypse (2022)

One of the pillars of Swedish Black Metal returns from the underworld with a new opus to prove once and for all that they’re the apocalypse.

The year of 1993 was when it all began, when Lord Ahriman and Blackmoon founded the infernal war machine we now know as Stockholm, Sweden-based Dark Funeral, one of the most intense and prominent Black Metal acts ever. Now in 2022, vocalist Heljarmadr, guitarists Lord Ahriman and Chaq Mol, bassist Adra Melek and drummer Jalomaah are back from the underworld with another opus of sheer obscurity and hatred, beautifully entitled We Are The Apocalypse. Mixed by Daniel Bergstrand at Dugout Productions, mastered by Paul Logus at PLX Mastering, and displaying a devilish artwork by by Marcelo Vasco, the band’s long-awaited seventh full-length album is a lecture in Swedish Black Metal not recommended for the lighthearted, proving why the band has been haunting our damned souls for almost three decades.

The evil guitars by Lord Ahriman and Chaq Mol will pierce your minds in the infernal opening tune Nightfall, a classic Scandinavian Black Metal onrush with no artificial elements, only our good old darkness and hatred, while the tribal beats by Jalomaah ignite the Stygian aria Let The Devil In, with Heljarmadr vociferating the song’s wicked words rabidly (“I take a deep, good look inside myself / I open up the gates to let the Devil in / He’s riding on the shadow of my soul / And everywhere I go, he’ll be there walking beside me”). Then get ready to be pulverized by Dark Funeral in When Our Vengeance Is Done, a fast, furious and demented creation by the band showcasing those old school Black Metal riffs we all love so much, whereas Nosferatu carries a beautiful name for another blackened sonic attack by the quintet, with Jalomaah being on fire behind his drums with both his rhythmic and demented beats.

Slowing things down a bit it’s time for the Blackened Doom-infused chant When I’m Gone, perfect for the darkest days of your useless lives, with Adra and Jalomaah making our heads tremble to the sound of their respective bass and drums. Their evil sounds keep permeating the atmosphere in Beyond The Grave, with Jalomaah’s hellish blast beast providing Heljarmadr all he needs to growl like a creature from the underworld. A Beast To Praise brings forward absolutely dark, psychological lyrics barked by Heljarmadr (“In solitude I am talking to ghosts / And while the netherworld is being ripped open wide / My human flesh is still keeping me / Between these walls, and I am eager to die”) while Lord Ahriman and Chaq Mol slash our senses with their otherworldly riffs in a lecture in Black Metal; whereas cryptic guitar lines kick off their second to last breath of obscurity titled Leviathan, not as inspiring nor as visceral as the other songs form the album, albeit still extremely violent. And last but not least, it’s time for one final explosion of pure Black Metal in the form of We Are The Apocalypse, with the demolishing drums by Jalomaah walking hand in hand with the strident riffage by the band’s guitar duo.

Such beast of an album can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but if I were you I would certainly purchase your favorite version of this devilish masterpiece by clicking HERE. We Are The Apocalypse, which will undoubtedly feature among the best metal albums of the year in countless lists from all over the world, has no artificial elements added to it, just the wrath of five insanely talented Swedish black metallers who remain loyal to the foundations of the genre even after so many years on the road. Hence, don’t forget to follow Dark Funeral on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their official YouTube channel for more of their disturbing Black Metal. Because you know, when it comes to Black Metal, Dark Funeral are indeed the apocalypse.

Best moments of the album: Nightfall, When Our Vengeance Is Done, Beyond The Grave and A Beast To Praise.

Worst moments of the album: Leviathan.

Released in 2022 Century Media

Track listing
1. Nightfall 5:13
2. Let The Devil In 4:40
3. When Our Vengeance Is Done 4:20
4. Nosferatu 4:41
5. When I’m Gone 5:46
6. Beyond The Grave 5:08
7. A Beast To Praise 4:49
8. Leviathan 4:34
9. We Are The Apocalypse 4:33

Band members
Heljarmadr – vocals
Lord Ahriman – guitars
Chaq Mol – guitars
Adra Melek – bass
Jalomaah – drums

Album Review – Dusk / The Relic (2022)

Known for incorporating Atmospheric Black Metal into Hard Bass Industrial, this uncanny Costa Rican entity will darken your mind with their sophomore opus.

Known for incorporating Atmospheric Black Metal into Hard Bass Industrial, full of unrelenting, uncaring and pounding blast beats and inhuman growling vocals mixed with modern rhythms such as Darkstep and other electronic influences, Dusk are an Industrial Black Metal project formed as an official band in 2016 in San Jose, Costa Rica, highly influenced by the music by Borgne, Perturbator and Blut Aus Nord, just to name a few. Now in 2022 this uncanny entity is back with a new opus, entitled The Relic, their sophomore full-length album following up on their 2021 release The Hermit, as well as on their EP’s Eko (2016), Epoka (2018) and Threnody (2019), showcasing all the talent and insanity of Shaman on vocals, Implacable on the guitar, Pàlak on bass, and Dusk on all programming, synthesizers and effects.

Eerie background noises ignite the opening track Relic I, bringing to our ears infernal bursts of dementia through the riffage by Implacable and all effects blasted by Dusk, while Shaman fires sinister, demonic roars that will haunt your souls in the name of Industrial Metal. Relic II is even more epic and imposing thanks to its dense atmosphere while Implacable keeps slashing his stringed axe accompanied by the low-tuned bass by Pàlak, offering Shaman exactly what he needs to sound like a beast incarnate on vocals. In other words, it’s first-class Industrial Black Metal made in Costa Rica, whereas like the soundtrack to a devilish, underground horror movie it’s time for the quartet to captivate our senses and drag us into darkness with Relic III, where Dusk showcases all his talent as the awesome Industrial Metal musician he is in the most experimental of all songs, evolving into the sonic beast Relic IV, spearheaded by the venomous gnarling by Shaman while Dusk keeps blackening the ambience with his wicked synths and effects in a display of primeval Industrial Metal with an Atmospheric Black Metal vibe. The last of the “relics”, obviously titled Relic V, will darken your thoughts to the sound of the crushing riffs, bass lines and synths by the band, resulting in a beyond Stygian creation that lives up to the legacy of Industrial Black Metal.

The unique and somber music brought into being by Dusk might not be an easy listen at first for the regular rock and metal fan, but after diving deep into their chaotic world of industrial and blackened sounds I’m sure you’ll get addicted to all of their demented creations, just like what they have to offer us all in The Relic. Hence, don’t forget to give the band a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their sick compositions, and to purchase their brand new opus soon from their own BandCamp page. Dusk are undoubtedly one of the biggest names of the underground scene in their homeland Costa Rica, sounding more infernal and sinister with each one of their releases and, therefore, leaving us eager for more of their perturbing Industrial Black Metal in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Relic II and Relic IV.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Relic I 7:42
2. Relic II 6:43
3. Relic III 5:39
4. Relic IV 8:09
5. Relic V 8:47

Band members
Shaman – vocals
Implacable – guitar
Pàlak – bass
Dusk – programming, synthesizers, effects

Album Review – Gorebringer / Terrified Beyond Measure (2022)

Behold the sophomore opus by an international entity that’s back from the underworld, offering us more of their blackened yet technical Melodic Death Metal with gory themes.

Almost three years after the release of their debut effort A Craving For Flesh, the infernal, multi-national outfit known as Gorebringer is back with more of their Melodic Death Metal with gory themes in the form of their sophomore album, entitled Terrified Beyond Measure. Produced by the band itself, mixed and mastered at Tide Studio in London, England, and displaying an old school cover art by Delic Saike, Terrified Beyond Measure represents a step forward in the band’s career, currently comprised of Serpent on vocals, Kaz “Stench” B on guitars and bass, and guests Krzysztof Klingbein on drums and Burak Ulugüney on keyboards and synths, showcasing an “evilution” in their slightly blackened and somewhat technical sound, but melodic and yet dirty at the same time, being therefore recommended for fans of At The Gates, Death and Dissection, among several others.

Arising from the underworld, the quartet begins blasting their instruments with sheer violence and hatred in The Bottomless Pit, where Serpent sounds beyond bestial on vocals supported by the pulverizing drums by Krzysztof, or in other words, a perfect and devilish way to kick things off; whereas keeping the level of adrenaline extremely high it’s time for Man To Beast, another high-octane, pulverizing feast where Stench is on fire armed with his sharp riffage and rumbling bass lines, while Burak keeps the atmosphere as grim as possible with his spot-on keys and synths. Then we have the title-track Terrified Beyond Measure, bringing to our ears a full-bodied sonority alternating between galloping drums and bass and pure dementia with Serpent roaring manically nonstop, and like a stone crusher from hell Krzysztof will demolish our senses in The Evil Ones, providing Stench all he needs to slash our ears off with his beyond strident guitar lines in a lecture in contemporary Melodic Death Metal with a visceral Black Metal twist.

The instrumental interlude Moon Circle sets the stage for the band to demolish our senses once again with A Blackened Circle, an Arch Enemy/In Flames/Soilwork-inspired extravaganza showcasing piercing riffs, pounding drums and the always venomous gnarls by Serpent. It’s indeed a solid and entertaining tune albeit losing some of its punch after a while, though, whereas Necro Mess is a thrilling instrumental creation by Gorebringer where Stench delivers an amazing performance on the guitar supported by the blast beats by Krzysztof, resulting in a sonic hurricane that will please all fans of the genre and generate intense mosh pits if played live one day. Finally, closing such infernal album of Melodic Death Metal we have Flesh Feast, sounding fast and furious just the way we like it with Serpent’s growls making a brutal paradox with the crisp, melodic guitars by Stench, leaving us eager for more of their music in a not-so-distant future.

As aforementioned, the pulverizing Terrified Beyond Measure, which is by the way available in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, represents a huge improvement in the sound by Gorebringer, and you can put your dirty hands on that album by purchasing it from the Great Dane Records’ BandCamp page or from Apple Music. Don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, keeping in mind that gore is their business (and business is good), which means unless you have what it takes to face their evil Melodic Death Metal, you’ll become an easy prey to them.

Best moments of the album: The Bottomless Pit, The Evil Ones and Necro Mess.

Worst moments of the album: A Blackened Circle.

Released in 2022 Great Dane Records

Track listing
1. The Bottomless Pit 4:06
2. Man To Beast 4:49
3. Terrified Beyond Measure 5:49
4. The Evil Ones 4:25
5. Moon Circle 0:59
6. A Blackened Circle 4:47
7. Necro Mess 3:38
8. Flesh Feast 5:45

Band members
Serpent – vocals
Kaz “Stench” B – guitars, bass

Guest musicians
Krzysztof Klingbein – drums
Burak Ulugüney – keyboards, synths

Album Review – Tome Of The Unreplenished / Earthbound (2022)

This Atmospheric Black Metal horde offers in their new opus a transcendental journey of a cold, earthy aesthetic twisted with punishing riffing brilliance.

A representation of conceptual philosophy, progression, and elevation through sound, the uncompromising Cypriot Atmospheric Black Metal project Tome Of The Unreplenished is finally releasing their most anticipated album to date, their sophomore full-length opus entitled Earthbound, a transcendental journey of a cold, earthy aesthetic twisted with punishing riffing brilliance. Formed as a solitary act in the city of Nicosia in 2012 by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Hermes, the project has solidified its lineup with vocalist, guitarist and flutist Alexandros (Macabre Omen), bassist Aort (Code), and drummer Tom Vallely (Omega Centauri, Macabre Omen), who together with Hermes worked to craft the sounds of Earth and Space found in Earthbound, pushing the boundaries of musical progression while experimenting with radical, brutal and unforgiving sounds.

The opening track Tellurian is atmospheric and visceral from the very first second, with Tom sounding merciless behind his drums offering Hermes exactly what he needs to not only vociferate the song’s Stygian words (“I hear a whisper / A form beholding the universe / And I am bound on Earth (or am I?) / Ablaze a prayer beyond the known / My gift to you / Reclaim thy wings”) but also to fire razor-edged riffs from his guitar, flowing into the even more menacing and somber Unbound, where Hermes showcases all his talent and passion for extreme music, growling rabidly accompanied by the low-tuned, sinister kitchen by Aort and Tom. Put differently, it’s infernal Atmospheric Black Metal at its finest for our total delight. Then the beautifully titled Tryst at the Gales of Cyprus will bring to your avid ears the band’s trademark sonority infused with Doom Metal nuances, transporting you to their obscure realm while Hermes gnarls with tons of anguish and hatred supported by the clean vocals by Alexandros.

The band continues to darken the skies with their classy and undisputed Atmospheric Black Metal in Toward the Self, led by the melodic blast beats by Tom while Hermes extracts primeval sounds form his guitar, all enhanced by the song’s background vocalizations; and get ready for over 11 minutes of atmospheric passages, blackened riffs and drums, eerie vocal lines and endless obscurity in the form of Astraios Ayr, a full-bodied, imposing aria by Tome Of The Unreplenished where all band members are on absolute fire from start to finish. Furthermore, the combination of Hermes’ riffs and the rumbling bass by Aort is a thing of beauty, ending in a beyond epic and imposing manner while morphing into the instrumental piece Portcullis to Dodekatheon, a pure ambient voyage that puts a climatic conclusion to the album, exhaling melancholy and darkness to the sound of the reverberating, metallic bass by Aort while Tom masterfully pounds his drums in a pure tribal way.

In order to join the quartet on their journey through the realms of atmospheric and uncanny Black Metal, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and, even more important than that, to purchase a copy of their new album from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp page, from the Xenoglossy Productions’ webstore, or from Sound Cave in CD or LP format. In summary, Hermes and his henchmen from Tome Of The Unreplenished simply nailed it with Earthbound, bringing forth everything the band stands for and, consequently, providing us fans of extreme music with the perfect soundtrack for a true otherworldly voyage.

Best moments of the album: Unbound and Astraios Ayr.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Avantgarde Music/Xenoglossy Productions

Track listing
1. Tellurian 6:09
2. Unbound 8:35
3. Tryst at the Gales of Cyprus 5:29
4. Toward the Self 5:55
5. Astraios Ayr 11:14
6. Portcullis to Dodekatheon 9:12

Band members
Hermes – vocals, guitars, keyboards, tambourine
Alexandros – clean and backing vocals, classical guitars, flute
Aort – bass
Tom Vallely – drums, percussion

Album Review – Nechochwen / Kanawha Black (2022)

This Apalači Folk Metal entity returns from the underworld after seven years of silence with a new album that will further cement their rich and powerful legacy.

Born out of the desire to explore the heritage of the Eastern Woodland Indians of North America through stunning classical guitar instrumentation and lush atmosphere, West Virginia, United States-based Black/Folk Metal entity Nechochwen (a Lenape word that basically means “walks alone”) returns from the underworld seven years after the release of the full-length album Heart of Akamon with a new opus, entitled Kanawha Black, the fourth studio effort in their already solid career. Playing what they like to call “Apalači Folk Metal”, the duo comprised of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nechochwen and bassist and drummer Pohonasin offers in their new album fierce melodies, heartfelt compositions and riff stylings that will further cement the rich and powerful legacy that they’ve nurtured since their inception in 2005, being highly recommended for admirers of the music by Panopticon, Agalloch and Falls of Rauros, among others.

The incendiary riffs by Nechochwen are powerfully complemented by the blast beats by Pohonasin in the opening tune Kanawha Black, a fulminating Black and Folk Metal onrush where Nechochwen roars like a demonic entity while also providing top-notch clean vocals. Then we’re treated to The Murky Deep, where a tribalistic, folk start evolves into a Melodic Black Metal feast spearheaded by the massive drums by Pohonasin and the gentle acoustic guitars by Nechochwen. Furthermore, it’s truly impressive how they blend the most primeval folk elements with their more extreme core sound, which is also the case in I Can Die But Once, bringing forward over six minutes of ethereal, atmospheric passages intertwined with bursts of anger and obscurity, resulting in a multi-layered adventure through the realms of Neofolk for admirers of the genre.

And those mesmerizing sounds flow into the rumbling Folk Metal extravaganza titled A Cure for the Winter Plagues, where Nechochwen sounds like a beast with his deep roars and piercing guitars while Pohonasin will make your head tremble armed with his bass. Then investing in a more direct Atmospheric Black Metal sonority it’s time for the duo to crush our souls in Visions, Dreams, and Signs, bringing to our ears seven minutes of blackened riffs, infernal drums and the always hellish gnarls by Nechochwen, whereas their second to last breath of Black and Folk Metal comes in the form of Generations of War, presenting pulverizing growls and hammering drums that will smash you mercilessly while folk elements add a touch of finesse in the background. Lastly, the duo once again captivates our senses with their acoustic sounds in Across the Divide, another solid display of the band’s dexterity and passion for heavy music, with their Heavy Metal-infused guitars sounding utterly awesome.

After all is said and done, it’s a true pleasure to witness the triumphant return to action by Nechochwen with the excellent Kanawha Black after such a long period of silence, and if you want to put your hands on the album you can already preporder it directly from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Bindrune Recordings’ BandCamp page. Moreover, don’t forget to also follow the duo on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details, and to stream all of their atmospheric creations on Spotify, getting more familiarized with their music and, consequently, being able to explore the North American Indian heritage together with Nechochwen and Pohonasin in the name of the band’s trademark Apalači Folk Metal.

Best moments of the album: Kanawha Black and Visions, Dreams, and Signs.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Bindrune Recordings

Track listing
1. Kanawha Black 6:23
2. The Murky Deep 4:03
3. I Can Die But Once 6:16
4. A Cure for the Winter Plagues 3:32
5. Visions, Dreams, and Signs 7:27
6. Generations of War 6:16
7. Across the Divide 7:50

Band members
Nechochwen – vocals, guitars, e-bow, keyboards, hand drum, floor tom, rattle, cedar flute, lalawas
Pohonasin – bass, drums, backing vocals

Album Review – Persecutory / Summoning the Lawless Legions (2022)

An album of sheer darkness masterfully brought into being by a Black and Death Metal horde hailing from Turkey in honor of the seven deadly sins.

Forged in 2014 in the scorching fires of Kadıköy, an older settlement than most of those on the Anatolian side of the city of İstanbul, Turkey, the demonic Black/Death Metal horde known as Persecutory will darken your minds and souls with their sophomore full-length opus, entitled Summoning the Lawless Legions, the Stygian follow-up to their 2016 EP Perversion Feeds Our Force and their 2017 album Towards the Ultimate Extinction. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Can Gelgeç at Studio Sirri, and displaying a devilish artwork by Alex Shadrin of Nether Temple Design, Summoning the Lawless Legions is an album of sheer darkness masterfully brought into being by Tyrannic Profanator on vocals, Infectious Torment and Vulgargoat on the guitars, Deathbed on bass, and Kyle on drums, living up to the legacy of the most obscure and infernal form of extreme music.

The piercing riffs by the band’s guitar duo will penetrate deep inside your psyche in As The Serpents Ascend while Tyrannic Profanator vociferates the song’s wicked words like a creature form the underworld (“Beneath the blackened seas which elder ones take breath / Their primal strength summons, the lords of Shammash / Resided in the fixed stars, infernal serpent’s pride / Burnt embers of the fire, splendor of the unholy light”), therefore offering our ears a modern but at the same time primeval form of Black Metal; and Kyle shows no mercy for his drums in Thou Abyssic Fire In Rebellion, a vicious, hammering aria by the quartet where the gnarling by Tyrannic Profanator gets even more satanic and visceral. Put differently, it’s old school Black Metal with a Turkish Death Metal twist, and the music remains acid and vile until the very last second with Infectious Torment and Vulgargoat embellishing the airwaves with their dark and very melodic guitar riffs and solos.

Another explosion of brutality, obscurity and rage comes in the form of Adorned In Primeval Seas, where the blast beast by Kyle are accompanied by the massive, thunderous bass lines by Deathbed, generating an imposing wall of sounds perfect for Tyrannic Profanator to growl like a beast. Then Deathbed makes the earth tremble with his beastly bass in Circle Of The Spirit Devourers, a darker tune with hints of Doom Metal added to its core sonority with the wicked roars by Tyrannic Profanator walking hand in hand with the inhumane beats by Kyle, whereas lastly we face more of the demented lyrics growled with tons of anger by Tyrannic Profanator (“Forlorn mistress of the circle embraced spheric daughters / Forlorn queens of suffering screamed at their presence / Forlorn servants are chained below the seas of cavities / Forlorn goddess of grief dances on seven storeyed mountains”) in The Blazing Spheres, while the music remains as hellish, heavy and disturbing as possible until the very last second.

Summoning the Lawless Legions, which is available for a full and detailed listen on YouTube, is indeed a lecture in contemporary Blackened Death Metal by Persecutory while remaining loyal to the foundations of the genre, proving those Turkish metallers are not only extremely talented, but also true servants of the darkest side of music. Hence, in order to show them your support and to join them in their quest for extreme music, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on Instagram, and purchase a copy of their newborn beast from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Godz ov War Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore as a CD, a blue cassette or a red cassette. Let’s all toast in honor of Summoning the Lawless Legions and of the seven deadly sins, and rest assured that while Persecutory are among us the fires of evil will keep burning our damned souls to the sound of their infernal music.

Best moments of the album: Thou Abyssic Fire In Rebellion and Adorned In Primeval Seas.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Godz ov War Productions

Track listing
1. As The Serpents Ascend 7:15
2. Thou Abyssic Fire In Rebellion 7:27
3. Adorned In Primeval Seas 7:06
4. Circle Of The Spirit Devourers 8:23
5. The Blazing Spheres 7:40

Band members
Tyrannic Profanator – vocals
Infectious Torment – guitars
Vulgargoat – guitars, backing vocals
Deathbed – bass
Kyle – drums