Metal Chick of the Month – Kristina Vega

Save me, for the punishment of my head…

Let’s turn up the heat here at The Headbanging Moose in this month of June and properly kick off the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere with a metal lady that will absolutely stun you with her powerful vocals and onstage presence. A metal singer and vocal coach known for her work with bands the likes of Born In Exile, SerapiS, and Cobra Spell, she has a fantastic vocal range that allows her to sing not only metal but pretty much any music style, which explains why she’s becoming more and more famous, respected and admired in the current music scene. I’m talking about the multi-talented Kristina Vega, also known as Kris Vega, carrying the flag of Catalan metal wherever she goes armed with her fulminating voice. I bet you’re eager to know more about such skillful musician as much as Kris is waiting for you to join her in her quest for heavy music.

Born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, Kris had her first contact with metal music when she was only eight years old, more specifically a Rammstein song which she has tattooed on her arm (which we’ll talk about shortly). When she was 16 she had a band called MOTH (which didn’t last for too long according to Kris herself), she also spent five years with a Japanese music group where she used to write music and do the guttural vocals, then three more years with a Blues band, and another metal group called Lunes 12. However, Kris had to take a break from music for a while, getting back in action in the metal scene after seeing an ad asking for a vocalist for a local band. It didn’t take long for Born In Exile to take its desired shape and form, catapulting our diva to stardom right after the band’s first release. Furthermore, growing up in the golden years of Nu Metal helped her to detect all her registers, to play with different techniques of singing and to find her way as a vocalist, having also thoroughly studied how harsh vocals, textured voice and hyper-compression techniques work in order to reach different types of sound. A formed vocal coach by Rodrigo Llamazares at Vocal Studio (a specialist in vocal coaching for teachers), she actually started studying electric bass at the age of 14, and two years later she recorded her first album as a bass player and a guttural vocalist.

Formed in 2012 in Barcelona by drummer JuanMa Ávila and guitarists Carlos Castillo and Rodrigo Baez (all from the band Corelyn) with the goal of creating a project with progressive influences inside Heavy Metal that would please fans of bands the likes of Symphony X, Opeth, Dream Theater, Rush, Myrath, Leprous and Circus Maximus, among others, the unstoppable Melodic Progressive Metal outfit known as Born In Exile has been on a roll since its inception, all of course multiplied by one thousand after Kris joined the band in August 2015 with her melodic, raspy and soaring vocals, having recorded with the band their debut opus Drizzle of Cosmos, in 2017, which by the way led the band to play at Barcelona Rock Fest in 2018, their sophomore album Transcendence, in 2020, and an EP titled Live at Vampire Fest, in 2021. Kris mentioned in one of her interviews that she recorded a cover version for Queen’s “The Show Must go On” as a reply to the band’s ad where they were searching for a new vocalist, followed by a short meeting with JuanMa and Carlos, and both were absolutely mesmerized by her vocals, which you can enjoy in all its glory in songs such as Fields On Fire, The Lighthouse of the Haunted Keeper, Enchantress, One More Line, Ziggurat, Revenant and Torch.

Apart from her career with Born In Exile, our talented diva can also be seen blasting her unparalleled vocals with the bands Cobra Spell, Uneven Frame and SerapiS, as aforementioned. As a matter of fact, Kris has just started her stint with Cobra Spell, the Dutch Heavy Metal/Hard Rock outfit led by guitarist Sonia Anubis (Burning Witches, Crypta), having replaced the band’s original vocalist Alexx Panza about a month ago, and although she hasn’t recorded anything in the studio yet with the band you can already enjoy her visceral vocals with Cobra Spell on the road, as she’s now touring with the band despite the extremely short time to rehearse with them. It’s not clear if Barcelona-based Nu Metal project Uneven Frame is still active as there are no news from the band since 2020, but it would definitely be interesting to see what Kris can do in a more alternative style (and you can take a listen at their demos on their YouTube channel); and regarding Progressive Metal project SerapiS, recently formed by Kris together with guitarist Joaco Luís (Mollitiam, Born In Exile), you can enjoy the band’s first three singles on Spotify, or go to YouTube to be stunned by Act I: Defiance, Act II: Dissidence, and Act III: Wistfulness, pointing to a very interesting future ahead of them.

Our multi-talented Kris can also be seen as a guest vocalist for the songs Our Demise, from the 2021 album The Harbour in Me, by Spanish Symphonic Power Metal act Embersland, and The Breathless Season Bane, from the 2021 album Portraits, by Spanish Atmospheric Black Metal horde Perennial Isolation; and as a metal vocal coach at the Metal Academy School of Music, the first school completely devoted to Heavy Metal and Hard Rock founded in 2017 in Barcelona, and as a voice actress for The Monster Factory, a Montreal, Canada-based company specialized in the conception of voices for monsters, zombies, aliens and many more creatures in the video game and film industries provided by metal vocalists the likes of our unstoppable diva.

Highly influenced by a wide variety of styles, from bands like Tool, Arch Enemy, Opeth, Leprous, Slipknot and Jinjer to vocalists like Freddie Mercury and Mónica Naranjo, Kris has already performed in over 500 concerts, singing not only Heavy Metal and Hard rock, but also Blues, Soul, Death, Progressive and Experimental Metal, proving not only how skillful she is, but also how experienced she already is in the music industry. As mentioned, having listened to her first metal song at the young age of eight, more specifically the song Klavier, from the album Sehnchust by Rammstein, thanks to the father of one of her neighbours, Kris quickly moved on to other bands and artists such as Linkin Park, Slipknot, Machine Head, System of a Down, Otep and Arch Enemy, being right now a huge fan of Jinjer, In This Moment, Gojira, Opeth, Devin Townsend, Myrath and Twelve Foot Ninja. When asked if she listens to any bands that she considers some sort of “guilty pleasure”, Kris mentioned Nino Bravo, from her childhood years, Azul y Negro, from her teens, and Evanescence, when she was in her 20’s. In addition, when questioned if she prefers Nightwish or Epica, she said she doesn’t really enjoy their voices, being a much bigger fan of stronger vocals the likes of Jinjer and Battle Beast.

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An avid reader of everything surrounding the voice anatomy, Kris is also writing a book to help singers who are just starting their careers and trying to find their own voice, focusing on all obstacles a vocalist might find along the way as for example not being told what’s working and what’s not, which by the way happened to her in the beginning of her career. She believes anyone can sing as long as it represents your own voice and delivers the desired message, always working not only her students’ voices but also their fears, their landscapes and so on, trying to transfer as much courage and strength to all of them during her classes.

It was right after the release of Drizzle of Cosmos that Kris and her bandmates from Born In Exile began touring on a more professional level, having played in different countries and festivals, such as Barcelona Rock Fest. She mentioned that when the band received an email informing they were selected to open that festival she almost cried of pure joy, also saying their performance at the festival was one of the most memorable moments of her life so far. She mentioned in one of her interviews how difficult it is to perform onstage for a massive festival crowd, the importance of being mentally prepared, and the energy shared with the crowd. Still talking about touring, Kris said that she loves to play alongside renowned bands as everything feels a lot more professional, and that although organizing tours (especially outside of Spain) is a lot of work, all that effort is definitely worth it.

As a prominent woman in Heavy Metal, Kris commented on how she sees the role of women in the current metal scene and the type of treatment she receives from men. She mentioned that despite a few bad experiences and situations in her career, one of the most beautiful things in her life is the fact she’s extremely well treated by her bandmates, who support her in everything and the whole feminist movement. However, she believes women in metal should stop fighting against each other for different reasons and realize that they’re stronger when united, saying it’s important to stop thinking like a man and avoid at all costs using sexist words and expressions that are stuck inside our minds thanks to the way we’re taught those things by our society. Moreover, Kris also faced some criticism and sexism when she decided to move from her hairdresser job (which she had been doing since she was 15) to pursue her career in music. She used to listen to things such as being a vocalist or working with music doesn’t pay your bills, doesn’t put food on the table, that she should get a “real” job, and so on, but that didn’t stop her from becoming the awesome vocalist she is today.

Regarding the metal scene these days, she said she thinks the musical landscape is unfair, complaining about an empty venue for an excellent band that goes all the way from Australia to Spain, for example, which is frustrating for the musicians involved. In addition, she said she would like to encourage all bands to have more respect and companionship among themselves, and to see more support to local bands by inviting them to open for the foreign headliners, just like what happened to Born In Exile during Barcelona Rock Fest where the band might have played for only 30 minutes, but according to Kris herself it was good enough to show the crowd what they got. And to be honest, even if they had played for only five minutes that would have been more than enough for the metalheads at the festival to witness how amazing the music by Born In Exile is and how powerful Kris’ vocals are, always singing about love, pain, real-life experiences and other related topics, therefore adding an extra personal touch to her thrilling performance.

As aforementioned, Kris is an accomplished vocal coach, offering vocalists not only from Barcelona but from all around the world different options to work with her, including more basic, free courses through the Metal Academy School of Music, or intensive online and in-person courses (which you can get more details by contacting her by email), and she’s waiting for you to begin a very productive and fun partnership in the name of rock and metal music. By the way, you can also click HERE to check all of her official links where you can get to know more about Kris and her career. Lastly, in case you decide to take vocal classes with Kris and it starts to rain, that might be a very good sign, and the reason for that is quite funny. When she was asked about something curious that has already happened with Born In Exile, she said that every time the band is about to do something important, it rains, it doesn’t matter if it’s the recording of a new album, signing with a record label, playing at a famous venue, or anything else. In other words, let’s join the incendiary Kristina Vega in her quest for heavy music, and may the rain fall down on us for many decades to come together with such inspiring musician.

Kristina Vega’s Official Facebook page
Kristina Vega’s Official Instagram

Kristina Vega’s Official Twitter
Born In Exile’s Official Facebook page
Born In Exile’s Official Instagram
Born In Exile’s Official YouTube channel
Born In Exile’s Official Twitter

Metal Chick of the Month – Ira Sidenko

ira01

How to open your heart in the chaos of life? Learn to give and to share, to hustle and strive…

If you consider yourself a diehard fan of both old school and modern-day Death Metal, I’m certain you’ll have a very good time with our metal chick of the month of September. Not only she’s the owner of a potent and visceral voice, but her charisma, together with her onstage (and onscreen) performance, turn her into a must-listen and see for any admirer of first-class extreme music. I’m talking about the unstoppable Russian growler Ira Sidenko, also known as Irina Sidenko (or even Ирина Сиденко in Russian), the frontwoman for Tomsk, Russia-based Death Metal brigade Dehydrated, and a metalhead who is always expressing her passion for Heavy Metal through her music and art.

Born in the city of Tomsk, in Tomsk Oblast, a federal subject of Russia (an oblast) that lies in the southeastern West Siberian Plain, Ira studied at Tomsk State University, or TSU, known in her mother tongue as Томский Государственный Университет, or ТГУ, but it’s not clear exactly what course or courses she took at TSU. It was in 2008 when she founded Dehydrated (being named Dehydrated Entrails from 2008 until 2009, when they changed their name to the current one) together with guitarist Evgen Tsibulin, bassist Evgeny Zimin and drummer Alexey Ablayev, with only Ira and Evgen being still in the band from its original formation. Playing a fusion of classic Death Metal with other styles such as Deathcore, Grindcore, Groove Metal and even Progressive Metal, among others, the band didn’t know exactly what they wanted to play at first, but they knew it was going to be hard and aggressive, experimenting with several genres and subgenres of heavy music as aforementioned. By the way, when asked about the origin of the band’s name, Ira explained that’s how you feel after a concert, feeling dehydrated both physically and mentally after all the exchange of energy between the band and the crowd.

Having already played in several international festivals including Metal Head’s Mission (Ukraine), Metal Crowd (Belarus), Petrogrind (St. Petersburg), Metal Maidens (Kaluga), and Cieszanów Rock Festiwal (Poland), as well as tours around Russia and Eastern Europe, the band has unleashed upon humanity an array of high-quality albums and EP’s, those being the 2009 demo Suffering from Mummification, the full-lengths Duality of Existence (2011), Zone Beneath the Skin (2012) and Awake in Era (2012), the EP’s Mind Extract (2011), Piranha or Whale? (2019) and Piranha or Whale (Part II) (2020), and a 2011 split with the bands PureFilth, Grace Disgraced and Redrvm. Furthermore, in one of her interviews, Ira mentioned that her favorite Dehydrated album to date is Awake in Era, as she considers it more professional and more atmospheric than the other releases, with each of its songs representing a different story, but I’m sure that opinion will change with each of their releases just like what happens with any musician. And when asked about what Dehidrated means to her, she said that as music is her life, the band represents life to her, always showing a lot of love for her own work.

Dehydrated are a DIY band, doing everything themselves and relying a lot on the internet for sales and promotional activities just like countless underground bands worldwide. Ira mentioned that services like BandCamp, Spotify, Patreon and YouTube have been helping the band a lot with their promotion, but that at the same time they still have a hard time trying to organize tours all by themselves.  Hence, if you want to give the music by Dehydrated a try, you can stream all of their creations on BandCamp, on Spotify and on YouTube, where you can have an absolute blast with songs the likes of Hell Doesn’t Exist, Parallels, Sickness, Outlaws, Thirst of Dose, Werewolf, Alive Underground, Piranha or Whale, and their excellent covers for Motörhead’s Ace of Spades and Lake of Tears’ U.N.S.A.N.E.

Apart from her career with Dehydrated, you can also find Ira kicking some ass with a female-fronted metal band from Saint Petersburg, Russia named Fallcie for a while, and she can also be seen as a guest vocalist in the song А Время Шло, from the 2020 EP А Время Шло (or “time went on”) by Kaluga, Russia-based Melodic Death Metal band Last Trial. In addition, Ira is also an amazing online vocal coach as you can see on her own YouTube channel, not only providing some great tips to growlers worldwide, but also uploading to her channel cover versions for countless songs the likes of Slaughter to Prevail’s Hell, Rammstein’s Sonne, Linkin Park’s From the Inside, Decapitated’s Homo Sum, Death’s Without Judgement, Vader’s Hexenkessel, and Whitchapel’s I Dementia.

All those top-notch cover versions are not in vain, as all of those bands are also part of Ira’s idols and influences list. As a matter of fact, when asked about how she would define the sound by Dehydrated, she mentioned it’s a fusion of different styles from bands such as Death, Gojira, Animal as Leaders, and so on. Regarding her personal preferences, our beloved growler mentioned the first bands she fell in love with were Rammstein and Slipknot, later moving on to Black and Death Metal and getting absolutely addicted to that. Furthermore, the first time she heard a Death Metal band was when she got to know the music by Aborted, also getting hooked to the music by Whitechapel, Deicide and Vital Remains. However, Ira said she doesn’t have any limits when listening to music, being also a fan of Jazz, Blues, Grindcore and many other distinct styles, but of course always praising metal behemoths the likes of Motörhead, Manowar and Metallica.

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Ira also provided her view on how to become a metal vocalist in one of her interviews, saying that there’s no secret to that but several years of practice and studies (and tons of mistakes) and a never-ending desire to grow, always searching for the right sound and for professional development. Although she mentioned she hadn’t had an older brother to show her metal music, Ira mentioned she had a friend with whom she used to listen to Rammstein together, which inspired her to form a band and, later, as her taste for music became heavier and heavier, she naturally decided to learn how to do guttural by herself. Having the flexibility to sing in English, Russian and German, Ira believes her vocal performance and her confidence have improved a lot since the band’s 2009 debut demo Suffering from Mummification, again pointing out to the importance of constant learning to become a better vocalist.

When asked about the metal scene in Russia (and in Eastern Europe in general), she thinks the bands in Russia need to show more of their own culture and ideas when creating music instead of trying to mimic famous European or American bands, but of course she acknowledges there are tons of fantastic bands in her homeland such as Katalepsy and Arkona. Moreover, in regards to her hometown Tomsk, she said that there was a time when Siberia, where Tomsk is located, once had a very strong metal scene, but that has changed over time and today the scene is not as powerful and the attendance to metal concerts has dropped significantly. She complemented by saying that not only in Tomsk, but in the entire Russia (and maybe we can also add the rest of the world to the mix), you can only get in contact with metal music through the internet, as the radio and TV do not offer any space to bands like Dehydrated, and there aren’t any major festivals either to promote the bands. She still thinks that there are great bands coming from her hometown, though, such as Apokefale and Dark Revenge, which needless to say need our total support to avoid getting extinct.

Last but not least, our Russian growler believes that becoming a Death Metal vocalist isn’t easy at all, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, but of course it can be a little bit tougher to girls depending on the situation due to the sexism that still happens in the metal community all over the world. She said that once in a while she’s the target of that sexism, but she doesn’t really care about it and keeps working hard to make Dehydrated a better band and to make herself a better vocalist. When asked about how she responds to those attacks, she said she simply doesn’t answer back to the haters, ignoring them on social media and focusing on what really matters, which is the opinion and support of her fans, her friends and her family. And to be fair, she’s more than right in doing so, avoiding bringing that negativity to her work as a musician, therefore keeping her haters screaming in anger (but not as greatly as her) for not engaging in a virtual battle with her. That’s how you recognize a true musician, and let’s hope Ira keeps growling in our faces for many years to come with her ass-kicking band.

Ira Sidenko’s Official VKontakte
Dehydrated’s Official Facebook page
Dehydrated’s Official VKontakte
Dehydrated’s Official Instagram
Dehydrated’s Official YouTube channel

“We are very pleased to be able to create and do what we like, we do not know for how long but the only certainty is that there is only one here and now. We look to the future positively.” – Ira Sidenko

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 – Heavy Feather / Mountain of Sugar (2021)

Rawer, heavier and harder, the sophomore album by these sensational Swedish roots rockers ooze with a 70’s sound and feel, filled with attitude, raw vocals and roaring guitar riffs.

Two years after the release of their critically acclaimed debut album Débris & Rubble, vocalist Lisa Lystam, guitarist Matte Gustavsson, bassist Morgan Korsmoe and drummer Ola Göransson, collectively known as Stockholm, Sweden-based Roots Rock outfit Heavy Feather, are ready to stun us all once again with their sophomore effort entitled Mountain of Sugar, an even rawer, heavier and harder album than their previous one, but still with the Roots and Psychedelic Rock touch holding it all together. Recorded by  Erik “Errka” Petersson at No Regrets Fonogram in Stockholm and mastered by Magnus Lindberg (Lucifer, Imperial State Electric), Mountain of Sugar consists of 11 tracks oozing with a 70’s sound and feel, filled with attitude, raw vocals and roaring guitar riffs, therefore being once again highly recommended for fans of iconic bands like Free, Cream and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Let’s take a journey back to the 70’s to the magical riffs by Matte in 30 Days, and Lisa doesn’t take too long to begin mesmerizing us with her powerful voice accompanied by her bandmates’ classic backing vocals in an awesome way to properly kick off the album, whereas singing about the eternal fight between time and love (“When I get old / Start counting my days / Living them slow / Living in haze / There’s one thing that’s clear / And that is your grace”), Bright in My Mind is another solid Rock N’ Roll tune with Morgan carefully slamming his bass from start to finish. Love Will Come Easy brings forward more of their fusion of 70’s rock music with contemporary Hard Rock and Blues, with Ola dictating the pace while Lisa shines as usual with her piercing vocal lines; and catchy lyrics (“Yes I’m relentless, a mountain of sugar / And I keep on rising, the mountain of sugar / I am mesmerizing, a mountain of sugar / But don’t get me feisty, the mountain of sugar”) and an upbeat vibe are the main ingredients in the vibrant Mountain of Sugar, not to mention Lisa’s kick-ass harmonica. Then a Deep Purple-inspired riff by Matte is boosted by the classy kitchen blasted by Morgan and Ola in Too Many Times, where Matte also adds tons of electricity to the music with his soulful riffs. And did I mention there’s also some cowbell for our total delight?

It’s time for a classic ballad by Heavy Feather titled Let It Shine, where Lisa steals the spotlight with a very passionate vocal performance while her bandmates deliver smoothness and love through their refined instruments, whereas Come We Can Go is old school Rock N’ Roll for admires of the genre, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline and showcasing an amazing job done by Ola on drums. In Sometimes I Feel we’re introduced to a male vocalist (perhaps Matte?) instead of Lisa’s usual vocals, with Matte and Morgan being in total sync with their stringed weapons, generating a gentle but at the same time heavy ambience. Lisa is then back on vocals to hypnotize our senses in Lovely Lovely Lovely, while Ola fires classic beats and fills and Matte continues to shine with his electrifying solos; and a high dosage of Rock N’ Roll riffs and beats permeate the air in the awesome Rubble & Débris, a wordplay with the title of their previous album, inspiring you to sing, drink and bang your head together with the quartet while Lisa steals the show once again with her visceral vocals. Finally, ending the album the band delivers a delicate and beautiful ballad titled Asking in Need, perfect for listening to it while embracing your loved ones, all spiced up by the whimsical riffs and solos by Matte.

Those Swedish rockers are definitely making a name for themselves in the worldwide Rock N’ Roll scene, first with Débris & Rubble and now with Mountain of Sugar, two albums that can already be considered a must-have for anyone who enjoys old school rock music. You can get to know more about Heavy Feather on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their official YouTube channel, stream all of their awesome creations on Spotify, and grab your copy of Mountain of Sugar from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music, and soon from other locations. It’s a pleasure seeing how Heavy Feather took a step forward in their career with Mountain of Sugar without giving up their passion for the past, which only proves Rock N’ Roll is not only timeless, but also as sweet and delicious as sugar.

Best moments of the album: 30 Days, Mountain of Sugar and Rubble & Débris.

Worst moments of the album: Sometimes I Feel.

Released in 2021 The Sign Records

Track listing
1. 30 Days 3:41
2. Bright in My Mind 3:27
3. Love Will Come Easy 4:07
4. Mountain of Sugar 2:23
5. Too Many Times 2:46
6. Let It Shine 2:52
7. Come We Can Go 3:44
8. Sometimes I Feel 3:59
9. Lovely Lovely Lovely 4:13
10. Rubble & Débris 3:15
11. Asking in Need 3:40

Band members
Lisa Lystam – vocals, harmonica
Matte Gustavsson – guitars
Morgan Korsmoe – bass
Ola Göransson – drums

Album Review – Eight Lives Down / Humans (2020)

Four distinct musicians from four different countries united in the name of metal, bringing to us all a truly unique sound, unmistakably heavy and angry, yet refreshingly different and unpredictable.

Originally founded by Greek-Kiwi vocalist and lyricist Aliki Katriou in 2016 together with British guitarist James Scott (replaced by French guitarist Paul Allain in 2017), bassist Marcin Orczyk from Poland, and Brazilian drummer Rodrigo Moraes Cruz, London, UK-based Extreme Metal act Eight Lives Down has its roots in Groove and Thrash Metal, but constantly branches out stylistically incorporating influences from Progressive, Death and Black Metal, as well as various other musical genres such as Punk Rock, Blues, and traditional folk music, while vocals range from low growls and high screams to clean and even operatic phrases, creating a truly unique sound, unmistakably heavy and angry, yet refreshingly different and unpredictable. Now in 2020 the quartet is ready to invade our senses with their debut full-length opus, entitled Humans, showcasing all their versatility, dynamism, creativity and rage, all enhanced by the album’s top-notch mixing and mastering done by Dan Baune at Noise Foundry Productions, while embraced by a modern, stylish artwork by Dylan Sutton.

The blazing guitar riffs by Paul kick off the sick and groovy Opening Shots, bringing forward a fusion of Melodic Death Metal with more modern and alternative styles, with Aliki growling like a true she-demon for our total delight, followed by Misguided, where the metallic bass jabs by Marcin will hit you in the face while Aliki blasts her wicked mix of clean vocals and harsh gnarls, leaning towards contemporary Thrash and Groove Metal while Rodrigo dictates the pace with his classy beats. Then the mesmerizing vocalizations by Aliki accompanied by tribalistic sounds and tones ignite the heavy and experimental Angela, with Paul, Marcin and Rodrigo bringing sheer progressiveness to the music with their refined techniques, whereas From The Cradle is a lot more introspective, grim and atmospheric than its predecessors, starting in a semi-acoustic manner while Aliki declaims the song’s dark lyrics, sounding at the same time like a 90’s Groove and Funk Metal tune and a modern-day thrashing tune, something a wicked band like Faith No More would definitely do.

More of their rumbling sounds permeate the air in the also heavy and furious Sacrifice, a lecture in Groove Metal by Eight Lives Down where Aliki’s roars get deeper and more enraged while Rodrigo sounds pulverizing on drums, supported by Marcin’s menacing bass; and in Organize Your Mind the quartet offers us all a hybrid of the rebelliousness of Alternative Metal with the intricacy of Progressive Metal, with Paul being on absolute fire with his demented riffage, while also presenting interesting atmospheric passages and endless heaviness. After that it’s time to break our necks headbanging together with Aliki and the boys in Colder, adding hints of Heavy Rock to their already crushing sonority while Paul and Marcin have a fun duel with their strident riffs and solos and low-tuned bass punches, respectively. Lastly, you better get ready for nine minutes of introspection, groove and heaviness in the form of Why, starting in a serene way with Aliki declaiming the song’s cryptic words, evolving into a thunderous metal feast led by Rodrigo’s visceral beats, not to mention the incendiary solos by Paul as the icing on the cake.

This precious gem of Extreme and Experimental Metal can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube, but of course in order to show your support to Aliki and her loyal henchmen you should definitely buy a copy of Humans from their own BandCamp page, from their webstore or from Amazon, as well as follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about such up-and-coming metal band, and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their idiosyncratic creations. It will certainly be more than just interesting to see what the future holds for Eight Lives Down with their upcoming releases, if they’ll keep experimenting like crazy or if they’ll set a defined shape and style for their music. Until then, while we wait for the creative mind of Aliki to provide us more insanity in the form of music, we can keep banging our heads nonstop to Humans, by far one of the best alternative albums of the year.

Best moments of the album: Opening Shots and Sacrifice.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Cult Of Parthenope

Track listing
1. Opening Shots 3:50
2. Misguided 4:01
3. Angela 3:56
4. From The Cradle 7:40
5. Sacrifice 3:52
6. Organize Your Mind 4:21
7. Colder 4:20
8. Why 9:02

Band members
Aliki Katriou – vocals
Paul Allain – guitar
Marcin Orczyk – bass
Rodrigo Moraes Cruz – drums

Album Review – Intercepting Pattern / The Encounter (2020)

A free-flowing 30-minute long composition ebbing and flowing between heavy syncopated grooves, Jazz fusion flourishes, ethereal synth-layered passages and cybernetic Death Metal.

Formed in 2016 in the city of Berlin, Germany, a distinguished Progressive Metal unity known as Intercepting Pattern is comprised of vocalist Daniel Sander, guitarist and keyboardist Marte Auer, bassist Clemens Engert and drummer Lille Gruber, all seasoned musicians known for their time in projects such as Defeated Sanity, Infecting the Swarm and Cerebric Turmoil. Produced, mixed & mastered by Tom ‘Fountainhead’ Geldschläger at FountainheadHQ and featuring a stunning artwork by Niklas Sundin (Mitochondrial Sun, Dark Tranquillity), Intercepting Pattern’s debut effort, entitled The Encounter, was created and designed as one free-flowing 30-minute long genre-bending composition, ebbing and flowing between heavy syncopated grooves, Jazz fusion flourishes, ethereal synth-layered passages and cybernetic Death Metal with seamless ease, appealing to fans of groups such as Meshuggah, Cynic and Panzerballett, among others. For release purposes, The Encounter is split into 10 “song” sections, although it is strongly suggested to listen to it in one session as it was intended when being created.

Clearly inspired by classic TV shows and movies that dealt with alien forms of life, the opening track Extragalactic Radio presents Lille and Clemens bringing endless groove and intricacy to the music with their beats and bass punches while Marte adds a touch of finesse to the overall result with his riffs and solos, flowing into the Progressive Death Metal feast titled Signal-to-Noise, where Daniel fires anguished, raspy roars accompanied by the always blazing guitars by Marte, resulting in an excellent option for breaking your neck headbanging. And their mysterious, otherworldly story goes on in Interlude I, an atmospheric and futuristic creation by Intercepting Pattern that will certainly send shivers down your spine before Eigenlicht offers us all Jazz and Blues united with the band’s hybrid of Progressive and Groove Metal, or in other words, a complex and extremely enjoyable tune where Marte and Lille are in absolute sync with their incendiary riffs and beats, whereas Hypnagogia is another wicked instrumental creation by the quartet with Clemens’ bass jabs making your head tremble in awe, all spiced up by background voices and ethereal keys, and running smoothly until its whimsical conclusion.

Interlude II is a cinematic bridge created to keep the listener hypnotized and eager for what’s next, as Daniel returns in full force with his rabid growls in Rebiogenesis, with the band’s razor-edged guitars and rumbling bass together with the sick drums by Lille generating a multi-layered wall of sounds for our total delectation. Then featuring guest Jimmy Pitts (Eternity’s End, Eynomia, NorthTale, NYN, The Fractured Dimension) on keyboards we have Fuga Finalis, an explosion of Progressive Groove Metal infused with Jazz and other idiosyncratic sounds and tones. Not only that, can you feel the anger bursting from Daniel’s roars? It’s sick and amazing at the same time, of course. And the music makes an instant bridge with the also demented and progressive Asmodeus, sounding as bold and weird as possible while led by the jamming beats by Lille, being therefore highly recommended for musicians who love the fusion of metal and Jazz, before the outro Epilogue ends the album in a cryptic and again atmospheric manner, with its instrumental pieces exhaling melancholy and heaviness until all is said and done.

“Having played in various metal bands before, we were kind of drawn to modern jazz and fusion records at the time and wanted to challenge ourselves with a more complex and improvisational approach to music. Of course, being the metal kids that we are, we couldn’t totally hide from our roots, but overall we tried to emphasize extended harmonic concepts and recurring rhythmic motives common to a Jazz/Fusion context”, commented the band about their newborn spawn, and after listening to the album in its entirety it’s easy to understand exactly what they wanted to accomplish in The Encounter. Needless to say, they more than succeeded in their quest, and if you want to give Intercepting Pattern a try you can grab your copy of The Encounter from the Rising Nemesis Records’ BandCamp page, and soon also from the Rising Nemesis Records’ Big Cartel and from IndieMerchstore. You can also get to know more about the band by following them on Facebook, showing your appreciation for their wicked hybrid of Heavy Metal and Jazz, and inspiring them to keep exploring the outer space and alien life with their refined music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Signal-to-Noise, Rebiogenesis and Fuga Finalis.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Rising Nemesis Records

Track listing
1. Extragalactic Radio 3:26
2. Signal-to-Noise 1:56
3. Interlude I 1:38
4. Eigenlicht 3:07
5. Hypnagogia 3:56
6. Interlude II 1:46
7. Rebiogenesis 4:48
8. Fuga Finalis 2:34
9. Asmodeus 4:35
10. Epilogue 2:15

Band members
Daniel Sander – vocals
Marte Auer – guitars, synths
Clemens Engert – bass
Lille Gruber – drums

Guest musician
Jimmy Pitts – guest keyboards solo on “Fuga Finalis”

Album Review – Thundermother / Heat Wave (2020)

Let’s turn up the heat to the sound of the brand new album by a Swedish band that doesn’t just play Rock N’ Roll. They are Rock N’ Roll.

Founded by guitarist Filippa Nässil in 2009 in Växjö, a town in southern Sweden’s Kronoberg County, but currently based in the Swedish capital Stockholm, Hard Rock/Rock N’ Roll all-female squad Thundermother is back in action with a brand new album entitled Heat Wave, their fourth full-length opus and the follow-up to their 2018 self-titled release, offering the listeners another round of their fantastic fusion of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock, Blues, Punk Rock and Heavy Metal. Even groovier than its predecessors, Heat Wave presents 13 catchy compositions showcasing all the skills and passion for heavy music by Filippa and her bandmates Guernica Mancini on vocals, Majsan Lindberg on bass and Emlee Johansson on drums, with the fine tuning being provided at Medley Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark by Hard Rock hitmaker Søren Andersen, an experienced producer and gifted guitarist who has already worked with Glenn Hughes, Dave Mustaine and Tommy Aldrige, to name a few,  resulting in a sophisticated version of an “AC/DC meet Motörhead” sound with fresh modern rock elements and a rich 70’s groove.

An Airbourne-like vibe permeates the air in the electrifying opening tune Loud and Alive, with Emlee pounding her drums in great fashion while Guernica inspires us all to rock like there’s no tomorrow with her piercing vocals, all spiced up by Filippa’s slashing riffs and solos. Then rockin’ guitar lines are accompanied by the rumbling bass by Majsan in the Hard Rock extravaganza titled Dog from Hell, an ode to classic Rock N’ Roll highly recommended for hitting the road or enjoying a cold beer, followed by Back In ’76, another song perfect for a live concert inspiring us all to raise our fists to Thundermother’s undisputed rock music where Filippa and Majsan are once again on absolute fire with their stringed axes, offering Guernica all she needs to mesmerize us all with her amazing vocal performance. And it’s time for the girls to put the pedal to the metal and kick us all in the face with the frantic, breathtaking tune Into the Mud, with Emlee obviously dictating the pace with her unstoppable beats, therefore generating a fantastic ambience while Filippa’s shredding and Majsan’s metallic bass bring sheer thunder to the overall result.

The title-track Heat Wave is an AC/DC-inspired feast of classic riffs and beats, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline (and heat, of course), and I would love to listen to this old school rock song played on any radio station worldwide, whereas despite Sleep might not be a bad composition, we must admit the girls sound a lot more cohesive and exciting when playing faster songs. I mean, it works well as a ballad, in special Guernica’s passionate vocals, but perhaps this was something asked by their record label as it feels a little out of place among the other songs from the album. Back to a more visceral and unrelenting mode, Filippa brings to our avid ears an Iron Maiden’s “Two Minutes to Midnight”-ish riff, setting fire to the excellent Driving In Style, supported by the heavy kitchen by Majsan and Emlee. Put differently, I dare you to stand still to such insane Rock N’ Roll hymn, and it looks like Thundermother never get tired of embellishing the airwaves with their vibrant Hard Rock as we can all witness in Free Ourselves, one more tune tailored for admirers of the music by AC/DC and Airbourne where Guernica and Emlee make a truly dynamic duo with their combination of soulful vocals and classic drums.

Venturing through the realms of Southern Rock mixed with tequila and endless electricity, the girls fire the riding tune Mexico, spearheaded by the groovy bass by Majsan and the always pounding beats by Emlee, definitely inspiring us all to rock in Mexican soil; and blending the groove by Lenny Kravitz with classic rock form the 70’s they offer us the radio-friendly Purple Sky, showcasing another spot-on performance by Filippa with her always strident and hypnotizing riffs and solos. Let’s keep clapping our hands and raising our glasses to the Rock N’ Roll by Thundermother in Ghosts, a straightforward and extremely catchy tune that could have easily been played on a TV show like Sons of Anarchy. Needless to say, Guernica has another flawless performance on vocals, and speeding things up once again they bring forward the high-octane, thrilling Somebody Love Me, one of those songs I bet Emlee loves to play due to its pace. Moreover, how can we not heed Guernica’s call to love her? The whole song presents a sensational job done by this talented Swedish quartet, no doubt about that, whereas Majsan’s rumbling bass sets the tone in the closing tune Bad Habits, where Thundermother yet again smash our senses with their hybrid of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll, ending the extremely fun ride that is Heat Wave on a high note.

As the band itself likes to say, Thundermother don’t just play Rock N’ Roll. Thundermother are Rock N’ Roll, and Heat Wave is undoubtedly the perfect depiction of all their love for the genre, their undeniable talent and all the hard work they put on crafting each and every song of the album. Hence, don’t forget to give the girls a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to purchase your desired version of Heat Wave, which is also available for a full listen on Spotify, by clicking HERE (or HERE if you’re a Swedish customer). After all is said and done, why don’t we just forget about our problems and get back into the mud together with Guernica, Filippa, Majsan and Emlee, turning up the heat and enjoying the fantastic music blasted by four girls who put the word “thunder” in our good old, dirty and rebellious Rock N’ Roll?

Best moments of the album: Loud and Alive, Into the Mud, Driving In Style and Somebody Love Me.

Worst moments of the album: Sleep.

Released in 2020 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Loud and Alive 3:56
2. Dog from Hell 3:37
3. Back In ’76 3:34
4. Into the Mud 3:15
5. Heat Wave 3:56
6. Sleep 3:57
7. Driving In Style 3:43
8. Free Ourselves 3:52
9. Mexico 3:38
10. Purple Sky 4:48
11. Ghosts 3:45
12. Somebody Love Me 3:43
13. Bad Habits 3:35

Band members
Guernica Mancini – vocals
Filippa Nässil – guitar
Majsan Lindberg – bass
Emlee Johansson – drums

Album Review – Guardian Of Lightning / Cosmos Tree (2020)

Behold the mighty sound of the ultra-heavy electric bass by a Brazilian power trio who praises the gods of thunder and metal in their excellent debut opus.

Known as the the herald of a new wave of metal music, curiously labeled as “Thunder Metal”, Guardian Of Lightning are a three-piece band based in São Paulo, Brazil featuring lead bassist Iron King, his father Marco Fino on vocals and rhythm guitar, and Lord Drum on drums, with their unique sound being a fresh take on the metal genre, replacing the typical lead guitar role with that of an ultra-heavy thundering electric bass. Lead bassist Iron King (yes, that is his real name) grew up surrounded by music, inspiring him to follow in the footsteps of bass legends such as Cliff Burton, Joey DeMaio and Lemmy Kilmister and, therefore, leading him to form Guardian Of Lightning back in 2017. Produced by Eurico Tavares at Stage Record Power Audio Studio, the band’s debut opus Cosmos Tree makes it clear from the very first second that the electric bass is front and center throughout the entire album, but each individual song will also bring to you a wide variety of sounds, an undeniable sync and dynamism between the band members, and of course, the magic of our beloved Heavy Metal.

The album’s atmospheric Intro will certainly invite you to the heavy world of Guardian Of Lightning, setting the tone for the epic title-track Cosmos Tree, which reminds me of the mighty sound blasted by Grand Magus infused with the rockin’ elements from the music by Motörhead, with Lord Drum dictating the rhythm with his pounding beats while Iron King shreds his bass in great fashion.  In the superb Raise Your Sword, the Mark Tornillo-like vocals by Marco walk hand in hand with the thrilling Power Metal beats and bass punches fired by Lord Drum and Iron King, respectively, also bringing hints of 70’s Progressive Rock and Metal through their intricate and thunderous bass sounds, followed by the also epic Sound of Thunder, exactly what Iron King delivers from his rumbling bass, showcasing an accelerated pace and classic riffs and lyrics, therefore resulting in an ode to all things rock and metal tailored for fans of the music by Manowar and other bands that love to add endless epicness to their creations. And once again inviting us all to bang our heads in the name of metal, the trio masterfully smashes their instruments in Aligned With the Stars, where the riffage by Marco provides an amazing support to Iron King’s metallic bass.

Then adding elements from Blues to their core sonority, the trio brings forward the beautiful Follow Your Silver Shine, where Iron King is once again majestic with his visceral and electrifying bass jabs and solos, while his father Marco showcases a fun and vibrant vocal performance from start to finish, whereas Inside of Us presents another solid fusion of Stoner, Sludge and Southern Metal with more epic styles such as classic Heavy and Power Metal, not to mention that what Iron King does with his bass is truly impressive, making our heads tremble with awe. Lord Drum begins hitting his drums harder than usual in the also rockin’ Another Place, where it’s a pleasure to witness the sonic synchronicity of father and son crushing their strings with power and dexterity, and they keep jamming with passion until the very end. Lastly, slowing things down a bit the band offers the more serene and classic Be Like the Moon, where Iron King once again showcases all his skills armed with his bass, and albeit this song is not as creative or inspiring as its predecessors, it still provides the listener a very good reason for having a cold beer and headbanging nonstop.

After taking a few detailed listens at Cosmos Tree, you’ll see it’s easy to understand what Guardian Of Lightning mean with the expression “Thunder Metal”, because that’s exactly what you’ll get throughout the album’s over 30 minutes of music, pure and mighty thunder in the form of our good old Heavy Metal, consequently paving an interesting path ahead of Iron King and his loyal henchmen for the coming years. Hence, don’t forget to follow such promising band on Facebook and on Instagram, to listen to more of their music on Spotify, and above all, to purchase your desired version of Cosmos Tree by clicking HERE, proving to the gods of thunder and metal you deserve a place right by their side in Valhalla.

Best moments of the album: Raise Your Sword, Sound of Thunder and Follow Your Silver Shine.

Worst moments of the album: Be Like the Moon.

Released in 2020 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:09
2. Cosmos Tree 5:00
3. Raise Your Sword 3:41
4. Sound of Thunder 4:17
5. Aligned With the Stars 3:29
6. Follow Your Silver Shine 3:58
7. Inside of Us 3:15
8. Another Place 4:55
9. Be Like the Moon 3:29

Band members
Marco Fino – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Iron King – lead bass guitar
Lord Drum – drums

Album Review – Häxan / White Noise (2020)

Three Welsh girls are ready to bring the noise armed with their first full-length album, always in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

With an impressive array of live shows and festivals under their belt, including Download Festival, Monsters Of Rock Cruise, Rock The Boat Cruise and Hard Rock Hell, Cardiff, Wales-based all-female Hard Rock trio Häxan is ready to take the world of rock and metal by storm with their brand new album White Noise, a lecture in classic rock tailored for fans of the music by Led Zeppelin, Suzi Quatro, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. Recorded at Stompbox Studios in Wales, the album was produced, mixed and mastered by Todd Campbell (Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons), who’s helped lead singer and guitarist Sam Bolderson, bassist Harriet Wadeson and drummer Jess Hartley reach a higher level with their music, all embraced by a straightforward and strong artwork by Matt Riste Illustration, and if you think the COVID-19 pandemic would stop the girls from embellishing the airwaves with their music you’re absolutely wrong. “We debated postponing the album launch until there was more certainty in our (and your) lives. We ultimately decided that so many of our fans and friends had been asking for this album for so long, that it was only right to continue with its launch and hopefully help to give everyone a little something to look forward to. We want White Noise to be able to mask the sounds of the uncertain outside world that’s around all of us currently, to allow people to escape it. It’s an opportunity to shut everything else out and enjoy the incredible potency of music.”

Let’s cut to the chase as it’s time to rock together with the girls from Häxan in the opening tune Damned If You Do, presenting elements from classic rock with the electrifying punk-ish sound blasted by bands like Volbeat, with Jess sounding fantastic on drums while Sam delivers sheer adrenaline with her spot-on riffs, followed by Killing Time, a mid-tempo headbanging tune led by the pounding drums by Jess accompanied by the crushing bass punches by Harriet, bringing a Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” vibe and, therefore, resulting in a lesson in 80’s Rock N’ Roll for admirers of the genre. After such great start the band offers us all Nine Lives, a Volbeat/Misfits-inspired composition by the trio where Sam and Harriet slash their strings beautifully while Sam blasts her delicate but potent vocals for our total delight. Needless to say, this is an amazing option for their live performances, which is also the case with Grave Digger, where the band ventures through more Blues-ish, Southern Rock lands. Furthermore, Sam poetically declaims the song’s lyrics while Jess keeps the song’s pace smooth and vibrant at the same time, not to mention the thrilling guitar solo blasted by Sam. And they keep smashing their instruments powerfully in the Hard Rock extravaganza Louder Than Words, with Harriet and Jess making the earth tremble with their thunderous bass and drums, also bringing to our avid ears soulful guitar riffs and solos and endless stamina.

In Black Sheep the trio gets back to a darker and groovier sonority, with Harriet hammering our heads with her fiery bass while Sam brings forward more of her charming vocals, sounding almost like a grim, badass rock ballad, whereas uniting the groove of Southern Rock with the old school Hard Rock by AC/DC Häxan offer us all the dancing Crash and Burn, with Sam’s vocals being nicely complemented by some crisp backing vocals, rockin’ guitar riffs and incendiary solos. In the flammable Skeletons, we’re treated to a high-speed, dirty pounding Rock N’ Roll party by the girls where Jess is unstoppable on drums, providing Sam all she needs to scream the song’s catchy chorus flawlessly (“Your skeletons are out to play, you thought you’d take them to your grave / You’ll always be the second best to demons that you’d laid to rest / Your skeletons are running wild, haunting you til the day you die / You believe what’s done is done, but you won’t ever run / From all your skeletons, skeletons”), before Living Dead closes the album in great fashion, albeit not as inspiring as the rest of the album, but still showcasing all the dexterity of the girls with Jess once again kicking ass with her beats together with Harriet’s rumbling bass jabs.

The talented and hardworking girls from Häxan are waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on Spotify to rock your world like there’s no tomorrow, bu of course in order to show them your true support and to prove you deserve a place in the Rock N’ Roll heaven, go grab your copy of White Noise from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In a nutshell, White Noise might not be a revolution in rock music, but that has never been the band’s intention anyway. Sam, Harriet and Jess just want to play pure, unfiltered rock music and give us all a very good reason for smiling, banging our heads and dancing the night away. After two astounding releases, those being their 2017 debut EP Breaking Down the Walls and now the top-of-the-line White Noise, what’s next for the girls from Häxan? Well, only time will tell, but we can all rest assured they will never sell out and will keep bringing the noise to our avid ears for many years to come, always in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: Damned If You Do, Nine Lives and Skeletons.

Worst moments of the album: Living Dead.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Damned If You Do 4:50
2. Killing Time 4:07
3. Nine Lives 4:45
4. Grave Digger 5:03
5. Louder Than Words 4:07
6. Black Sheep 5:35
7. Crash and Burn 4:07
8. Skeletons 5:34
9. Living Dead 4:27

Band members
Sam Bolderson – vocals, guitar
Harriet Wadeson – bass
Jess Hartley – drums

Album Review – Grand Magus / Wolf God (2019)

It’s time to worship the almighty Wolf God together with one of the most talented and hardworking bands of the Swedish metal scene.

Hailing from the stunning city of Stockholm, Sweden, Heavy/Doom Metal three-piece act Grand Magus has been delivering a powerful and thrilling amalgamation of styles such as Blues, Hard Rock, Heavy and Doom Metal since their inception in the now distant year of 1999 (or even 1996 if you consider their years under the name Smack as part of their current career), gathering a respectable fanbase through the years around the entire world of heavy music. For instance, their self-titled debut album Grand Magus, released in 2001, stirred up the underground to the point it is now considered to be a cult favorite, and now in 2019 the band comprised of Janne “JB” Christoffersson on lead vocals and guitars, Mats “Fox” Skinner on bass and backing vocals, and Ludwig “Ludde” Witt on drums returns in full force with Wolf God, the ninth album in their solid career and undoubtedly one of the most interesting and epic albums of the year. Drawing influence from bands such as Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Manowar, Grand Magus are absolutely focused, sharp and heavy-as-hell in Wolf God, blasting hymn after hymn for the delight of all lovers of the golden years of classic metal music.

With the majority of the songs being recorded on the first take at The Sweetspot Recording Studio in Sweden together with producer Staffan Karlsson (Arch Enemy, Firewind, Spiritual Beggars), Grand Magus achieved an honest, diverse and yet down-to-earth sound that envelops the trio’s true power, letting the music flow naturally throughout the album’s almost 40 minutes of undisputed Heavy Metal. “We decided to let go of the current philosophy to record drums first and then bass and then guitar etc. This time, we met up, jammed and created together during the last six months with the goal to record basic tracks live,” said the band about their newborn opus, and by enfolding it with the old school, aggressive artwork by American artist Anthony J. Roberts (Blackmindseye) the trio finally reached a new level of epicness that will certainly save a spot for them among the gods of metal.

Featuring orchestrations by Swedish musician Nico “Dyngwie” Elgstrand (guitarist for Entombed A.D.), who has already played acoustic guitars in a couple of tracks from their previous albums, Gold and Glory is a classy and epic intro to the howling title-track Wolf God, where Ludde pounds his drums in great Manowar-inspired fashion while JB delivers his trademark potent vocals, resulting in an old school metal song perfect for banging our heads while worshiping the Wolf God itself. And Fox’s thunderous bass take the lead in the also majestic A Hall Clad in Gold while Ludde continues to smash his drum set vigorously, not to mention all the passion and energy flowing from JB’s vocals, especially during the song’s absolutely catchy chorus.

Traditional, utterly metallic lyrics (“Ancient forces / Sleeping deep within my heart / Been searching / Through the ages in the dark / A secret / That will put me to the test / And guide me / So much stronger than the rest”) are the main ingredient in the headbanging tune Brother of the Storm, where JB fires pure electricity from his riffs while the beats by Ludde get more rhythmic and imposing, and you better keep banging your head like there’s no tomorrow in the incendiary Dawn of Fire, another classic, stylish Heavy and Doom Metal hymn led by JB’s crisp riffs and Fox’s rumbling bass. On a side note, I saw those guys playing this excellent tune live when they opened for Amon Amarth  here in Toronto, and it sounded beyond powerful and inspiring. Then putting the pedal to the metal the trio offers the circle pit-catalyst Spear Thrower, where we can enjoy Ludde’s berserk beats supporting the always pleasant vocals by JB, being tailored for fans of classic Heavy Metal while all is spiced up by JB’s piercing solos; whereas To Live and to Die in Solitude, one of the best songs in Wolf God with highlights to JB’s passionate performance and the unstoppable drums by Ludde, couldn’t be any more epic, vibrant and electrifying, or in other words, simply close your eyes and savor each and every note of such distinct ode to metal music.

A cryptic, semi-tribal intro evolves into another riff-fest titled Glory to the Brave, a beer-drinking, headbanging creation by the trio with Fox filling all spaces in the air with his bass jabs, perfect for raising your horns in the air together with Grand Magus, whereas in the thrilling He Sent Them All to Hel the skillful JB declaims the lyrics about a hero dealing with death and darkness in the aftermath (“First light in the morning – Foul smell of decay / He stands in silence – Nothing to say / Black ravens are calling / Flying high over head / Their wine is served by the dead / Once they rode together / Now he’s alone / Filling his soul with rage”), boosted by spot-on instrumental parts, endless stamina and the classic beats by Ludde, resulting in what’s in my humble opinion one of their best battle hymns of all time. And there’s nothing better than the pure Heavy Metal flowing from Untamed to close the album on a high note, showcasing a classic riffage and wild guitar solos by JB, while Fox and Ludde are on absolute fire on bass and drums, with the music flowing smoothly and powerfully until its epic finale.

It’s time for us all to praise the Wolf God, and we can do that by enjoying one of the best albums of 2019 in full on Spotify or by purchasing a copy of it from the Hamburg Records webstore or from the Nuclear Blast webstore. At this point of their career, we can all happily rest assured Grand Magus will never sell out, which means they’ll keep offering us all, lucky metalheads, precious gems of the underworld like Wolf God, bringing all their passion and respect for the gods of metal with each and every song of their albums and, more important than that, continuing to fight for Heavy Metal no matter what, always in the name of the almighty riff.

Best moments of the album: A Hall Clad in Gold, Brother of the Storm, To Live and to Die in Solitude and He Sent Them All to Hel.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Gold and Glory 2:18
2. Wolf God 3:49
3. A Hall Clad in Gold 5:02
4. Brother of the Storm 3:16
5. Dawn of Fire 5:12
6. Spear Thrower 2:55
7. To Live and to Die in Solitude 3:41
8. Glory to the Brave 5:15
9. He Sent Them All to Hel 3:37
10. Untamed 3:46

Band members
Janne “JB” Christoffersson – lead vocals, guitars
Mats “Fox” Skinner – bass, backing vocals
Ludwig “Ludde” Witt – drums

Guest musician
Nico “Dyngwie” Elgstrand – orchestrations on “Gold and Glory”