Album Review – Head of Jeddore / How to Slaughter a Lamb (2021)

Do you know how to slaughter a lamb? If not, let these three Canadian metallers teach you that to the sound of their intense and frenetic debut album.

3.5rating

head-of-jeddore-how-to-slaughter-a-lamb-2021Made up of vocalist Friendly Rich Marsella (Friendly Rich, The Lollipop People) and guitarists Greg Dawson (Olde, Grale) and Billy Curtis (The Abandoned Hearts Club, Cunter), and featuring an array of special guests the likes of Damian Abraham (Fucked Up), Kenny Bridges (Moneen), Greg Wright (Shatterpoint) and Luke Roberts (Gargoyl), Brampton, Canada-based newest metal supergroup Head of Jeddore is ready to kick some ass with their debut album entitled How to Slaughter a Lamb, offering up a slab of sophisticated mayhem for fans of Mr. Bungle, System of a Down and the (more adventurous) Melvins. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Greg himself at BWC Studios, How to Slaughter a Lamb brings to our ears an intense and frenetic metal attack, tapping into a wide variety of musical influences that goes from Stoner and Doom Metal to more modern styles such as Groove and Alternative Metal, while staying fierce and fiery throughout its 31 minutes of music.

The title-track How to Slaughter a Lamb kicks off at full speed with Mr. Marsella delivering demented vocal lines à la Mike Patton while Billy and Greg fulminate our ears with their rockin’ riffs, and more of their sonic insanity comes in the form of Into the Well, bringing elements of the Progressive and Groove Metal blasted by bands like Gojira and Mastodon and with its intricate and visceral drums adding an extra touch of aggressiveness to the overall result. Back to a more straightforward, in-your-face mode, the trio offers our ears the groovy The Age of Entitlement, where once again Billy and Greg feed Marsella with everything he needs to vociferate like a rabid creature; whereas sick guitar riffs and solos will pierce your mind without a single drop of mercy in The Tragedy Network, while we face at the same time a humongous amount of rage and lunacy through the band’s classic beats and vocals. And slowing things down a bit and adding elements from Alternative Metal to their core sonority, it’s time for another wicked musical voyage with Head of Jeddore titled Let Me Rot, where Marsella is once again bestial on vocals.

The trio continues to haunt our damned souls with their high-octane fusion of rock and metal styles in Kathmandu, reminding me of the early days of System Of A Down, with Billy and Greg giving a lesson in how to pulverize their stringed weapons, while Blood Waltz is another demolishing, awesome composition by those Canadian metallers offering us all a hybrid of Stoner and Doom Metal with Progressive Metal that will certainly please any fan of good music worldwide. Then showcasing a Children of the Grave-inspired riff it’s time for Marsella to growl and roar manically once again in The Old Man and the Sea, a song that will certainly put you to bang your head nonstop together with the band; and their Mastodon vein arises one more time in Peepholes and Moles, also presenting hints of the sick creations by Faith No More, not to mention the kick-ass riffs by the band’s talented guitar duo beautifully accompanied by the song’s hammering drums. And finally, a Death Metal-inspired gnarl ignites the closing tune The Bake Sale, before all hell breaks loose one last time inviting us all to slam into the circle pit until its vile and sluggish grand finale.

head-of-jeddore-2021In summary, if you consider yourself a true explorer of the world of rock and metal music, you should definitely give the guys from Head of Jeddore a shot. This talented Canadian act offers in their new album everything you can imagine in terms of creativity, heaviness, insanity and more, positioning them as one of the best new names of the Canadian scene. Hence, don’t forget to show them your love by following them on Facebook and on Instagram to stay up to date with all things Head of Jeddore, and even more important than that, by purchasing a copy of their sick new album by clicking HERE. And who knows, maybe one day those metallers from the Great White North will actually teach you how to slaughter a lamb.

Best moments of the album: How to Slaughter a Lamb, Kathmandu and Blood Waltz.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing 
1. How to Slaughter a Lamb 2:59
2. Into the Well 3:20
3. The Age of Entitlement 3:07
4. The Tragedy Network 2:41
5. Let Me Rot 4:05
6. Kathmandu 3:18
7. Blood Waltz 2:06
8. The Old Man and the Sea 3:08
9. Peepholes and Moles 3:09
10. The Bake Sale 3:23

Band members
Friendly Rich Marsella – vocals
Billy Curtis – guitar
Greg Dawson – guitar

Guest musicians
Damian Abraham – vocals
Tyler Semrick-Palmateer – vocals, guitar
Luke Roberts – vocals, guitar, bass
Greg Wright – guitar
Kevin Theodoropolus – vocals
Matt Nimmo – vocals
Brandon McColl – guitar
Kenny Bridges – vocals, guitar
Shane Drake – vocals
Erik Hughes – bass, vocals
Steve Mitchell – vocals, guitar

Album Review – Axedra / Mass Deception (2021)

After a long period of inactivity, this promising Vancouver, Canada-based Death Metal unity is back in action and ready to kill armed with their debut full-length album.

3.5rating

axedra-mass-deception-2021Formed in Russia in 2008 by the “Garipov Brothers”, those being vocalist and guitarist Ramil Garipov and guitarist Ilnur Garipov, Death Metal unity Axedra played only a few shows in their hometown before they had to disband when both of them moved to the city of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada in 2010. After a long period of inactivity, they finally gathered their material, put together a full-bodied band with Logan Jarred Charron on bass and Daniil Volovik on drums, and recorded their debut album Mass Deception, released now in 2021. Mixed and mastered at Death Culture Studio and displaying a bloody, cult-like artwork by Joyce Peng, the first official effort by Axedra will smash you like an insect with its old school Death Metal approach, being therefore recommended for admirers of the gore and destruction blasted by bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Deicide and early Decapitated.

Get ready for an infernal hurricane of old school death in the opening tune Momentary Control, a visceral welcome card by the quartet where Ramil begins his growling attack accompanied by the crushing beast by Daniil, whereas speeding things up they offer our ears the slamming hymn Buried Alive, showcasing classic Death Metal riffs by the band’s guitar duo and vile lyrics barked by Ramil (“Awoken by the deafening silence / Blinded by the absolute fiery darkness / Dampened air tastes decrepit / Restricted mind within fibromyalgic body”). Then the title-track Mass Deception will bring to your putrid ears two and a half minutes of sheer savagery led by the scorching riffage by Ramil and Ilnur, while Logan hammers his bass mercilessly, and it’s time to slam into the circle pit to the sound of Apocalypse, a straightforward, thunderous creation by Axedra where Daniil dictates the pace with his fierce and rhythmic beats.

Axedra keep destroying everything and everyone that crosses their path in Infectious Insanity, a pulverizing Death Metal feast where the riffage by Ramial and Ilnur is as demented as it can be, followed by Parasitic Nightmare, showcasing apocalyptic words vociferated rabidly by Ramil (“Wake, see your world turn into a parasitic nightmare / Left a wasteland, there’s no retreating / Soon you’ll find your soul is bleeding / Trapped, your dream is now a burden / Watch this planet contort and worsen”) while Logan and Daniil make the earth shake with their sharp and thunderous instruments in a lesson in violence and hatred. Are you tired already of their sick and heavy sounds? Because you better be prepared as the quartet will kill once again in Thought Corruption, offering us all a huge dosage of the old school, pounding drums by Daniil. And last but not least, it’s time for Hellbringer, a solid composition by the band that keeps the album flammable and demonic, albeit not as dynamic as the other songs.

axedra-2021In a nutshell, in Mass Deception, which is by the way available in full on YouTube, Axedra don’t aim at reinventing the wheel as you can see, but at keeping the fires of classic Death Metal burning bright thanks to the talent, hard work and aggressiveness of the band spearheaded by the Garipov Brothers. Hence, don’t forget to show them your support by following the band on Facebook, on Instagram and on VKontakte, by subscribing to their YouTube channel for more of their heavy-as-hell music, and above all that, by grabbing your copy of Mass Deception from the band’s own BandCamp page. I’m beyond certain you’ll have an amazing time slamming and banging your head nonstop to the first-class Death Metal crafted by Axedra, leaving you eager for more from those Canada-based Russian brothers in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Buried Alive, Apocalypse and Parasitic Nightmare.

Worst moments of the album: Hellbringer.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing  
1. Momentary Control 4:12
2. Buried Alive 3:30
3. Mass Deception 2:36
4. Apocalypse 4:36
5. Infectious Insanity 2:37
6. Parasitic Nightmare 4:06
7. Thought Corruption 2:53
8. Hellbringer 3:11

Band members
Ramil Garipov – vocals, guitar
Ilnur Garipov – guitar
Logan Jarred Charron – bass
Daniil Volovik – drums

Album Review – Discarded Self / Discarded Self (2021)

Created during a time of personal isolation, the debut solo album by this Canadian metaller ranges from tales of the macabre to introspective trips into self-loathing and personal degradation.

3.5rating

discarded-self-discarded-self-2021Flooding forth with misery and hate comes the first (and self-titled) album from Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada-based Blackened Doom/Sludge Metal act Discarded Self, the solo project from Jarret “Fuzzgod” Beach, who’s also a member of the bands Destroy My Brains and Ashes of Yggdrasil. Created during a time of personal isolation, the album ranges from tales of the macabre to introspective trips into self-loathing and personal degradation that dredge up terrible memories of the past to drown in personal regret. In other words, there is no hope for the future in the debut opus by Discarded Self, only darkness and hatred in the form of raw, unfiltered extreme music recorded at Doom Tomb Studios, featuring an array of local Canadian drummers as special guests, and displaying a beyond demonic artwork by Thahir M (The Black Catalogue) and Angel Carvallo (Avenged Creations).

Featuring B.J. Gingell (of Dahlmers Realm) on drums, the opening tune I Smell Pipes brings forward a cryptic intro accompanied by the low-tuned, damned bass by Jarret, evolving into a sluggish, sinister Doom Metal feast that will put you to bang your head until your neck breaks in half; and it’s time for drummer Jadan Paluck (of Destroy My Brains and Wrought) to crush our heads in Orbitoclast, with Jarret roaring like a rabid beast while he slashes his axe in great fashion at the same time in an awesome display of modern-day Sludge and Stoner Metal. Then get ready for 10 minutes of suffocating Blackened Doom Metal masterfully brought into being by Jarret in Push The Knife, with guest Brett Stewart (of Ashes of Yggdrasil) on drums and backing vocals, with Jarret sounding utterly demonic on vocals and also firing melodious, grim riffs for our total delight. And Jadan returns with his darkened and sluggish beats in the full-bodied aria entitled On The Unlevel, supporting Jarret in his quest for doom. Jarret’s bass punches sound even more menacing than before, not to mention how the aggressiveness and malignancy grow in intensity as the music progresses, therefore resulting in a disturbing Doom Metal feast.

Robert Hayman (of Ashes of Yggdrasil) is the guest drummer in I’m Weak, blasting his drums fiercely while Jarrett is infuriated with both his raspy screams and venomous riffage, or in other words, this is another fantastic option to headbang like a true metal maniac, whereas B.J. is back in action in Cultist Of The Pentagram in total sync with Jarrett’s devilish gnarls, riffs and bass jabs, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline, rage and darkness. Then rumbling bass sounds will punch you in the head in Abused (e)Motionless, with Jarret once again adding his share of evil to the overall result through his wicked growls in a solid display of Blackened Sludge Metal. Jarret comes ripping one last time with his somber guitar lines in Dance Upon The Dead, while Jadan returns with his slow and steady beats; it lacks a little of the punch from its predecessors, though, but it’s still a damn good song. And if you go for the limited edition of the album you’ll be treated to Discarded Self’s cover version for Upside Down as a bonus, just as demented and heavy as the original version from the almighty Fistula’s 2006 EP For a Better Tomorrow.

discarded-self-2021Jarret “Fuzzgod” Beach and his Discarded Self are waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, but of course in order to show your true support to underground Sludge and Doom Metal you should definitely purchase a copy of the album from the project’s own BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music or Amazon. As already mentioned, Discarded Self was brought into being during a time of personal isolation for Jarret, which proves once again extreme music is the perfect channel for all hatred, frustrations and fear we’ve been experiencing worldwide since the beginning of this endless pandemic. In other words, let’s all succumb to the dark side and join Jarret in his world of insanity and hopelessness, with his solo effort representing the perfect soundtrack to our damnation.

Best moments of the album: Orbitoclast, Push The Knife and I’m Weak.

Worst moments of the album: Dance Upon The Dead.

Released in 2021 Sarcophagus Recordings

Track listing   
1. I Smell Pipes 7:26
2. Orbitoclast 6:35
3. Push The Knife 10:51
4. On The Unlevel 10:04
5. I’m Weak 5:30
6. Cultist Of The Pentagram 5:55
7. Abused (e)Motionless 7:52
8. Dance Upon The Dead 8:27

Limited Edition bonus track
9. Upside Down (Fistula cover) 8:05

Band members
Jarret “Fuzzgod” Beach – vocals, all instruments

Guest musicians
B.J. Gingell – drums on  “I Smell Pipes” and “Cultist Of The Pentagram”
Jadan Paluck – drums on “Orbitoclast”, “On The Unlevel”, “Dance Upon The Dead” and “Upside Down”
Brett Stewart – drums and backing vocals on “Push The Knife”
Robert Hayman – drums on “I’m Weak” and “Abused (e)Motionless”

Album Review – Juliet Ruin / Dark Water EP (2021)

Bang your heads to the new EP by this amazing Canadian Modern Metal crew, reflecting a turn to darker sounds and grittier vocals while still preserving the spirit of what makes the band who they are.

3.0rating

juliet-ruin-dark-water-ep-2021Formed in 2015 in Edmonton, the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta, from the ashes of a previous project named Fiction of Fate with the desire to fuse a metal sound with clean technical vocal stylings in a way that is both beautiful and beastly, Modern Metal outfit Juliet Ruin has just unleashed upon us all a new EP titled Dark Water, following the band’s 2019 critically-acclaimed album Old Stardust, Love and Chaos. Comprised of Jess Fleming on lead vocals, Kent Geislinger and Wesley Rands on the guitars, Cody Reid on bass and Jesse Bauman on drums, Juliet Ruin are highly recommended for fans of the music by Jinjer, Infected Rain, The Agonist, Butcher Babies and so on, with their new EP reflecting a turn to darker sounds and grittier vocals while still preserving the spirit of what makes the band who they are, all spiced up by the first-class production, mixing and mastering by Diego Fernandez (who also plays the guitar as a guest in the title-track, by the way) and the enfolding artwork by Brandy Black. “The listening experience we are going for is a hard-edged, but catchy experience with lyrics you can shout in anger, but also it leans positive on message,” said the band about their newborn child.

The vicious bass by Cody sets the tone in the Alternative Metal hurricane Dark Water, with Jess bringing forward a fusion of the pop vocals by Shirley Manson (of Garbage) with visceral Melodic Death Metal growls, boosted by the awesome guitar job by Kent, Wesley and guest Diego Fernandez. Then sheer poetry flows from the celestial lyrics (“Banish me like burned down planets / Write my fate with sparkling lies / I am the universe you’re just one sky”) found in Cosmic Vertigo, while Jesse smashes his drums in great Alternative Rock and Metal fashion, therefore inviting us all to headbanging together with the band; followed by Fake Stigmata, considerably heavier and darker than its predecessors, with Jess being on fire with a passionate vocal performance supported by the massive and groovy wall of sounds by her bandmates, in special Cody and his metallic bass jabs. Lastly, it’s time for more of their hybrid of Groove Metal with Metalcore and Alternative Rock in Might, showcasing a delicate but at the same time grim side of the band, with Kent and Wesley firing classic, incendiary riffs throughout the entire song.

juliet-ruin-2021When Jess and the boys from Juliet Ruin said their new EP Dark Water would bring forward an edgier and angrier side of the band, they were not kidding at all. This talented Canadian quintet made sure the EP title was not chosen in vein, investing in a much darker sound and pointing to a bright future ahead of them. Hence, if you want to know more about such up-and-coming crew hailing from Canada, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on Instagram, stream more of their music and watch their videos on YouTube and on Spotify, and above all that, grab your copy of Dark Water from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, showing your utmost support to the Canadian underground. Juliet Ruin are inviting us all to sail through darker waters together with them in their new EP, and based on the high-quality of each of its four tracks I’m pretty sure that journey with the band will not only be thrilling, but it will also (and fortunately) last for a long time.

Best moments of the album: Dark Water and Cosmic Vertigo.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Dark Water 4:47
2. Cosmic Vertigo 4:08
3. Fake Stigmata 4:54
4. Might 4:16

Band members
Jess Fleming – vocals
Kent Geislinger – guitar
Wesley Rands – guitar
Cody Reid – bass
Jesse Bauman – drums

Guest musician
Diego Fernandez – guitars on “Dark Water”

Album Review – Grale / AGITACIÓN EP (2021)

Comprised of four Canadian musicians who share the same passion for heavy music, this newborn and fully virtual Sludge Metal entity is ready to show us all the power of the riff with their debut EP.

3.5rating

grale-agitación-ep-2021Formed during the first pandemic lockdown, Canadian Sludge Metal project Grale is comprised of musicians who share a friendship with artist and producer Greg Dawson (guitarist for Canadian Doom Metal beast Olde) and a love of heavy music. Already an all-star unit featuring the aforementioned Greg Dawson on the guitars, Daniel Allen (of Indian Handcrafts) on vocals and guitars, Mark Rand (of Cross Dog) on bass and Kevin Farmer (of The Compound) on drums, Grale also enlisted contributions from members of metal heavyweights Sacrifice, Revocation and Gargoyl to elevate their “pandemic project” into a fully-fleshed and ferocious five-song assault, their debut EP entitled AGITACIÓN. Recorded at BWC Studios by Greg (who was also responsible for all mixing and mastering), Bandage A/V by Mark, Farmer Sound by Kevin and The Bethlab by Daniel, each song from the EP evolved from one good riff, with the band creating and collaborating remotely, focused on forging an organic new sound that would have followers of High on Fire, Motörhead or Judas Priest banging their heads in approval.

And guest vocalist Rob Urbinati (of Sacrifice) lends his enraged roars to Grale in the opening tune Meth Aggressor, making a dynamic duo with Daniel while the music showcases a visceral fusion of Death and Sludge Metal led by the massive riffs by Daniel and Greg, and with Kevin pounding his drums in great fashion. Then in No Justice For All the quartet brings forward a Mastodon-inspired sound (which means a more Progressive Metal vein, of course) where Daniel keeps vociferating nonstop accompanied by the low-tuned, rumbling bass by Mark and the always hammering beats by Kevin; whereas Grale slow things down considerably, investing in an old school Doom Metal sonority in The Blade, featuring guest guitar solos by Luke Roberts (of Gargoyl and Battlebear) and David Davidson (of Gargoyl and Revocation), with Daniel and Greg being once again merciless, worshipping the power of the riff with their guitars. The Emptiness Project is another dense and aggressive Sludge and Stoner Metal tune blasted by the quartet where all instruments are in absolute sync in the name of madness, with the piercing sound of the guitars walking hand in hand with the groovy bass jabs by Mark, and lastly, back to a more Progressive Sludge Metal sound, Grale offers us all the heavy and thrilling Terror Control, presenting visceral, raspy vocal lines, slashing riffs and crushing drums, therefore putting an awesome ending to the EP and leaving us eager for more of their sick music.

grale-2021I’ve already seen countless bands and artists releasing awesome material during this never-ending pandemic, but I must admit what the guys from Grale did together is beyond impressive taking into account they never even met in person to create their songs, rehearse or record them. If you’re curious to know how four guys from four different locations sound together in this virtual world we’ve been living in, simply go check the full EP on YouTube and on Spotify, and if you like what you see don’t forget to show them your support by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course by purchasing AGITACIÓN from their own BandCamp page (or click HERE for all places where you can get to know more about the band and purchase their music). In such difficult times, heavy music once again conquers all, uniting not only us fans but also talented musicians from all over the world (or in the case of Grale, from here in Canada) and keeping us sane until the pandemic is finally over. And I it takes even longer for this madness to finally end, at least we can rest assured the guys from Grale are among us to prove once and for all there’s nothing more comforting than the power of the riff.

Best moments of the album: Meth Aggressor and The Emptiness Project.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Meth Aggressor 4:31
2. No Justice For All 3:24
3. The Blade 4:04
4. The Emptiness Project 4:13
5. Terror Control 5:25

Band members
Daniel Allen – vocals, guitar
Greg Dawson – guitar
Mark Rand – bass
Kevin Farmer – drums

Guest musicians
Rob Urbinati – vocals on “Meth Aggressor”
Luke Roberts – guitar solo on “The Blade”
David Davidson – guitar solo on “The Blade”

Album Review – Olde / Pilgrimage (2021)

Arising from the underworld like a demonic beast, one of the most hardworking bands of the Canadian scene returns with another round of their acid Doom Metal in their third full-length album.

Patiently awaiting for their next victim on the darkest corners of Malton, a neighborhood in the northeastern part of the city of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, located to the northwest of Toronto, the unrelenting Doom Metal entity known as Olde is back in action after four long years with their third full-length opus, entitled Pilgrimage, following up on the heaviness, aggression and madness of their 2017 album Temple. Written, performed, recorded, mixed and mastered by Olde, with all production and mastering being done by the band’s own guitarist Greg Dawson at BWC Studios in Kingston, Ontario, displaying an apocalyptic artwork by Alexandre Goulet, and featuring guests Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain (of Voivod) and Nichol S. Robertson on the guitars and Nick Teehan on saxophone, Pilgrimage will smash your cranial skull mercilessly, showcasing all the passion for doom by vocalist Doug McLarty, guitarists Chris Hughes and Greg Dawson, bassist Cory McCallum and drummer Ryan Aubin.

Arising from the underworld like a demonic beast, the sluggish beats by Ryan dictate the pace in the massive title-track Pilgrimage, with Chris and Greg extracting sheer obscurity from their axes while Doug delivers his usual roars for our total delight, whereas accelerating their pace like a behemoth of doom, Cory’s rumbling, low-tuned bass will pierce your soul in A New King, while the guitars by Chris and Greg exhale dementia and darkness from start to finish in a great display of Sludge and Doom Metal. Then we have Medico Della Peste, an awesome creation by those five talented Canadians bringing to our ears everything we love in Doom and Stoner Metal, including slow and steady beats, dirty riffs, soulful solos and the trademark raspy vocals by Doug; and the sharp but very delicate sound of their guitars is a thing of beauty in the atmospheric In Defiance, with Cory and Ryan generating a sinister wall of sounds with their bass jabs and classic drums, sounding perfect for breaking your neck headbanging.

More of the band’s classic Doom Metal is offered to our avid ears in The Dead Hand, once again dragging us down to the underworld, showcasing wicked lyrics barked by Doug while his bandmates make sure every single space in the air is filled with insanity, not to mention the sick sax solo by guest Nick Teehan. Then the tribal drums by Ryan ignite the damned feast entitled Depth Charge, tailored for admirers of the genre, bringing forward a violent yet melodic guitar solo to enhance our senses and with Doug once again leading his demented horde with his deep voice. In Under Threatening Skies we’re treated to over six minutes of first-class Canadian doom spearheaded by the visceral riffage by Chris and Greg together with the thunderous bass by Cory, resulting in an awesome composition that lives up to the legacy of old school Doom Metal; whereas raw riffs and slow, primeval beats kick off the closing tune Wastelands, where a menacing sonority flows slowly and majestically until the very end with Doug once again screaming in anger and pain, putting a vintage ending to the album.

After all is said and done, you’ll be more than tempted to succumb to the most doomed side of music together with Olde, with Pilgrimage representing another awesome step in their already solid career. Hence, don’t forget to follow those Canadian metallers on Facebook and on Instagram, to stream their damned catalogue on Spotify, and to put your dirty hands on a copy of Pilgrimage by purchasing it from their own BandCamp page, from the Sludgelord Records’ BandCamp page or from the Seeing Red Records’ webstore. Let’s all walk together with Olde on their journey of doom to the sound of their newborn spawn, showing the entire world that whenever their music sounds as heavy, grim, unfriendly and sluggish as it can be, that means it’s mission accomplished for such hardworking band of doom from the Great White North .

Best moments of the album: A New King, Medico Della Peste and Under Threatening Skies.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Sludgelord Records/Seeing Red Records

Track listing
1. Pilgrimage 5:03
2. A New King 5:20
3. Medico Della Peste 4:05
4. In Defiance 6:44
5. The Dead Hand 5:11
6. Depth Charge 3:47
7. Under Threatening Skies 6:08
8. Wastelands 5:44

Band members
Doug McLarty – vocals
Chris Hughes – guitars
Greg Dawson – guitars
Cory McCallum – bass
Ryan Aubin – drums, guitar solos

Guest musicians
Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain – guitars
Nichol S. Robertson – guitars
Nick Teehan – saxophone

Album Review – Immortal Guardian / Psychosomatic (2021)

What’s the best thing to do during this never-ending pandemic? This talented American group has the answer to that armed with their brand new album of breathtaking Progressive Power Metal.

After winning over new audiences with their acclaimed 2018 debut full-length album Age of Revolution and touring relentlessly alongside fellow shredders such as Marty Friedman, Powerglove and Exmortus, Austin, Texas’ own Progressive Power Metal entity Immortal Guardian is back in action in 2021 with their sophomore effort, entitled Psychosomatic, offering their fans more of what they like to call “Super Metal”. As a matter of fact, as the spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic began to ensue, each member of the band retreated to their respective hometowns; guitarist and keyboardist Gabriel Guardian (also known as Gabriel Guardiola) remained in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, vocalist Carlos Zema (of bands like Outworld and Heaven’s Guardian) recorded his vocals from his home in Brazil, new drummer Justin Piedimonte stayed in Montreal, Canada, and new bassist Josh Lopez remained in the band’s native Texas. With shutdowns around the world being enforced, the band completely scrapped the originally planned record that they had been working on and were heavily inspired to write and create a new thematic record about their emotions surrounding current events, with the final result being at the same time epic, bold and of course very personal to each one of those four talented musicians.

The title-track Psychosomatic beings in an imposing manner led by the whimsical keys by Gabriel, gradually evolving into a feast of Progressive Metal showcasing the high-pitched screams by Carlos (and somewhat working as an extended intro to the rest of the album), and they put the pedal to the metal in the heavy and groovy Power Metal tune Read Between the Lines, with the bass jabs by Josh adding sheer heaviness to the overall result while Carlos continues to shine on vocals. Then it’s time to enjoy this eternal lockdown together with the guys form Immortal Guardian in the multi-layered, electrifying Lockdown, with Justin dictating the pace with his intricate beats while Gabriel kicks some serious ass with both his riffs and keys, whereas featuring guest guitars by Marcelo Barbosa (of Almah and Angra), Phobia is another thunderous dosage of their fusion of Progressive and Power Metal where Gabriel, Josh and Justin are in absolute sync with their sonic weapons. And more of their intricate sounds and magical passages are offered in the epic extravaganza titled Clocks, with the keys by Gabriel generating a beautiful ambience perfect for his own piercing guitar solos.

After the short atmospheric interlude Self-isolation, let’s keep banging our heads to the sound of the Heavy Metal hurricane titled Goodbye to Farewells, featuring guest vocals by Mary Zimmer (of Helion Prime), with all band members extracting tons of adrenaline from their instruments while Mary sounds utterly bestial with her harsh roars, showcasing a different side from her work with her main band. Then in Candlelight we’re treated to a pensive, melancholic intro where Josh adds his share of darkness through his bass, evolving into a more traditional hybrid of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock (albeit not as entertaining nor dynamic as the rest of the album, though, going on for too long), and more of their refined piano notes permeate the air in Find a Reason, a more gripping ballad than the previous song, sounding dense from start to finish and with Carlos passionately declaiming the song’s words while Justin pounds his drums flawlessly. Finally, Gabriel once again brings forward his deep passion for shredding in New Day Rising, a spot-on depiction of their Progressive Power Metal, offering many breaks, variations, complex passages and the usual speed and energy of Power Metal for the delight of admirers of the genre.

It’s quite easy to join the army of immortals spearheaded by Gabriel, Carlos, Josh and Justin, as their newborn spawn is available from an array of locations including the band’s own BandCamp and webstore, the M-Theory Audio webstore (in CD and limited purple LP format), the Plastic Head webstore (also in CD and limited purple LP format), or simply click HERE for all places where you can buy or stream the album. Also, let’s show our support to those talented metallers by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by streaming more of their music on Spotify. Psychosomatic is undoubtedly the perfect example of how we should face the COVID-19 pandemic, turning our fears, anxiety and hopelessness into ass-kicking metal music like what Immortal Guardian were capable of doing (perhaps not in such majestic way, of course), showcasing once again the positive energy Heavy Metal can bring to us all even during the most difficult times of our lives. Stay home, stay safe, and rock on!

Best moments of the album: Lockdown, Phobia and Goodbye to Farewells.

Worst moments of the album: Candlelight.

Released in 2021 M-Theory Audio

Track listing
1. Psychosomatic 5:33
2. Read Between the Lines 6:01
3. Lockdown 4:12
4. Phobia 6:13
5. Clocks 5:12
6. Self-isolation 0:39
7. Goodbye to Farewells 5:50
8. Candlelight 5:24
9. Find a Reason 7:00
10. New Day Rising 5:56

Band members
Carlos Zema – vocals
Gabriel Guardian – guitars, keyboards
Josh Lopez – bass
Justin Piedimonte – drums

Guest musician
Mary Zimmer – harsh vocals on “Goodbye to Farewells”
Marcelo Barbosa – guitars on “Phobia”

Album Review – Liminal Shroud / Through the False Narrows (2020)

Behold the debut opus by a Canadian Black Metal horde that takes inspiration from the surging oceans and mist-strewn coast as they explore themes of futility, passage, and individual and metaphysical transformation.

Take these ashes – take these dreams of worlds to come
Only self remains – only what is true

As the skies turn grey and dense fogs hang above the shoreline, Canadian Black Metal unity Liminal Shroud will expel a swirl of melancholia and torment over its moss-strewn forests and perilous waves in their debut full-length album, titled Through the False Narrows. Formed in late 2017 in Victoria, British Columbia, the three-piece band comprised of Aidan Crossley on vocals and guitar, Rich Taylor on bass and vocals, and Drew Davidson on drums takes inspiration from the surging oceans and mist-strewn coast as they explore themes of futility, passage, and individual and metaphysical transformation in their new opus, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Ash Borer, Drudkh and Fen. Recorded by Jordan Koop at The Noise Floor Recording Studio, mixed by the band’s own Aidan Crossley, mastered by Rolando Rolas at Cavern of Echoes Studios, and featuring a striking artwork by Canadian artist Alayna Coral Gretton, Through the False Narrows offers the listener a unique form of Black Metal surging with atmosphere and anguish, melancholy and rage, showcasing Liminal Shroud’s own sound and style without sounding repetitive or tiresome at all.

A demented growl from the pits of the underworld ignite the sluggish, dark and infernal Blackened Doom-infused aria A Hollow Visage, with Aidan barking and roaring like an anguished beast supported by the intricate drumming by Drew, and with the music changing its shape and form throughout its imposing 11 minutes while presenting the band’s Black Metal core from start to finish. Then more of their fusion of progressiveness and obscurity comes in the form of Tainted Soil, with Aidan and Rich crafting a Stygian ambience with their respective riffs and bass lines while Drew and Rich are in absolute sync, darkening our minds and thoughts to the sound of their evil kitchen; followed by To Forget, presenting cryptic, acid lyrics vociferated by Aidan (“A life not lead lies obscured / Beyond broken branches / Amidst the shallow, desperate forest floor / What secrets have you buried?”) while the music remains bold and epic in a hybrid of classic Black Metal with Atmospheric Black Metal. Needless to say, this amazing tune will please all fans of the genre without a shadow of a doubt.

Liminal Shroud Through the False Narrows Bundle

Investing in a more melodic, melancholic and grim sonority, the trio offers our avid ears a majestic wall of sounds in The Grotto, where the strident riffage by Aidan matches perfectly with his own austere gnarls, ending in a truly enfolding manner before we’re treated to four minutes of old school Black Metal infused with Atmospheric and Epic Black Metal nuances in Erupting Light, where Drew is unstoppable behind his drums showcasing all his dexterity and passion for extreme music. Never tired of blasting their disturbing but extremely sharp and harmonious Black Metal, those Canadian metallers bring forward the multi-layered Sentinel, where Aidan keeps roaring deeply and demonically while Drew and Rich alternate between sheer obscurity and demolishing sounds, and before all is said and done get ready for an 11-minute feast of Atmospheric Black Metal in Lucidity, presenting their darkly pensive lyrics (“Dragged down by weighty night / Hollow, weary eyes – fixated / The world moves faster / Time is a wheel / Every second / Every hour”) and with Aidan being on fire with his strident riffs, accompanied by the smashing beats by Drew and the Marduk-inspired bass jabs by Rich, therefore putting a beyond splendid and venomous conclusion to Through the False Narrows.

Do you think you have what it takes to enter the realm of atmospheric and tormented Black Metal ruled by Liminal Shroud in their brand new album Through the False Narrows? If your answer is a hellish “yes” with an evil grim on your face, you can enjoy the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would definitely purchase such distinguished opus of extreme music from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (where by the way you can find this amazing bundle including a CD, a shirt, a woven patch, a magnet, a metallic button and a sticker), from Season of Mist or from Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about such talented horde, keeping the fires of their tormenting extreme music burning bright for centuries to come in their homeland and anywhere else in the world where Black Metal is truly appreciated.

Best moments of the album: To Forget and Lucidity.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. A Hollow Visage 11:16
2. Tainted Soil 6:33
3. To Forget 8:10
4. The Grotto 6:19
5. Erupting Light 4:08
6. Sentinel 6:56
7. Lucidity 11:05

Band members
Aidan Crossley – guitar, vocals
Rich Taylor – bass, vocals
Drew Davidson – drums

Album Review – Without Mercy / Seismic (2020)

A merciless Vancouver-based Death and Thrash Metal unity is ready to strike us all once again with their newest opus, representing four years of solid work ethic and unwillingness to compromise even in the slightest.

What’s in a name? Everything. And Vancouver, Canada-based Death/Thrash Metal unity Without Mercy certainly stays true to its name. Ruthless and menacing, these Canadian metal titans have cultivated a fusion of death and thrash, a sound that shows off the band’s respect for and dedication to both genres since their inception in 2004, being highly recommended for fans of the fulminating music by Cattle Decapitation, Meshuggah, Whitechapel and Pantera, among others. Now in 2020, the band comprised of Alex Friis on vocals, DJ Temple on the guitars, Ryan Loewen on bass and Matt Helie on  drums is ready to strike once again with their sophomore full-length effort Seismic, representing four years of solid work ethic and unwillingness to compromise even in the slightest. Produced by DJ Temple himself, mixed and mastered by Dave Otero at Flatline Audio, displaying a venomous artwork by Canadian artist Brayden Eshuis, and featuring very special guests Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, Nevermore) and Chris Broderick (Act of Defiance, Megadeth, Jag Panzer), Seismic will go straight for your jugular, offering you the most visceral fusion of Death, Thrash and Groove Metal you can think of.

With guest Jeff Loomis blasting one of his trademark, incendiary guitar solos, Thunderbird is an explosion of Thrash and Groove Metal the likes of Lamb of God and Meshuggah where Matt is bestial with his blast beats while Alex sounds like a rabid creature on vocals, and continuing their path of progressiveness, heaviness and rage, DJ Temple fires razor-edged riffs supported by the rumbling bass by Ryan in Abysmal, highly recommended for fans of Progressive Death and Thrash Metal. What DJ Temple does with his axe in the next song, titled Left Alone, is truly impressive, resulting in a lesson in intricacy and violence accompanied by his infuriated band members, and the final sound couldn’t have been more demented and sharper than what it already is; whereas Alex’s deranged roars and gnarls will penetrate deep inside your mind in Wiindigo, while Matt and Ryan make sure the earth trembles to the sound of their respective beats and bass jabs in another solid fusion of modern-day Death and Groove Metal.

Then it’s time for Chris Broderick to provide a sick guitar solo in Disinfect The Soul, a metal beast brought into being by this insane squad showcasing austere, in-your-face words barked by Alex (“Thank God there’s only one of you / I’m striving for a better form of survival / THE MEANS AREN’T AVAILABLE without the threat / I finally understand what could make a man run / Chasing my tail, I have it now / SO MUCH WORSE than first thought”), while in The Disaster the thrashing riffs and solos by DJ Temple are amplified by the crushing drums by Matt, or in other words, it’s a straightforward tune that will inspire you to slam into the circle pit like a maniac. Possessed brings forward another explosive round of their trademark music, feeling and sounding absolutely berserk from start to finish, and with Alex being once again demonic with his sick gnarls, presenting elements from the darkest forms of Death, Thrash and Groove Metal you can think of. I Break The Chain, the second to last blast of infernal metal music by Without Mercy, feels like a more deranged version of Gojira infused with the austerity of Cattle Decapitation, meaning it will hammer your heads mercilessly until the very end, before the band closes the album with Uprooted, presenting beautiful, darkly poetic lyrics “declaimed” by Alex (“To dream of the earth dying is nothing new / To watch in awe of its beauty is something I don’t do / To hold a dead bird in my hand and demand it sing / To hold a gift in my hand and not feel a thing”) while the music remains as acid and pulverizing as possible, spearheaded by DJ Temple’s scorching riffage and the always demented beats by Matt.

The Death and Thrash Metal landscapes might seem a bit too saturated for a lot of fans from all over the world, but let’s say Without Mercy managed to sound unique and fresh throughout Seismic, turning it into a must-listen to anyone who enjoys some well-engendered extreme music while at the same time loves to slam his or her cranial skull into a frantic mosh pit. Hence, you can show your support to those brave Canadian metallers by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by listening to more of their infernal creations on Spotify, and specially by purchasing your copy of Seismic from their own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album). In the beginning of this review it was mentioned that the name of the band, Without Mercy, says it all about their music. Well, the same can be said about the album name, as this is a true headbanging, thrashing earthquake made in Canada that will leave you completely disoriented after all is said and done, exactly the way the band had in mind. Yes, my friends, there’s indeed a mission accomplished in the name of death and thrash here.

Best moments of the album: Left Alone, Possessed and Uprooted.

Worst moments of the album: Wiindigo.

Released in 2020 Bloodblast Distribution

Track listing
1. Thunderbird 4:53
2. Abysmal 5:42
3. Left Alone 4:00
4. Wiindigo 4:55
5. Disinfect The Soul 7:18
6. The Disaster 3:52
7. Possessed 4:04
8. I Break The Chain 4:44
9. Uprooted 4:58

Band members
Alex Friis – vocals
DJ Temple – guitars
Ryan Loewen – bass
Matt Helie – drums

Guest musicians
Jeff Loomis – guitar solo on “Thunderbird”
Chris Broderick – guitar solo on “Disinfect The Soul”

Album Review – Cannibal / Fire Meets Steel (2020)

Fire meets steel in the name of 80’s Heavy Metal in the debut opus by the new band of the unstoppable Canadian guitarist Jo Capitalicide.

Playing 80’s-inspired metal music with catchy choruses and shredding leads, Ottawa, Canada-based Heavy/Speed Metal unity Cannibal is the newest brainchild from the unrelenting guitarist Jo Capitalicide, who has offered us the new albums by Ice War and Expunged earlier this year, and who’s also behind Canadian speed metallers Aphrodite. Together with Gretchen Steel (Zex, Espionage) on vocals, B. Destroyer (Machine Messiah) on the guitar, Andy Lust on bass and Christ Disappointer on drums, Jo and his Cannibal are unleashing upon us their debut effort Fire Meets Steel, an ode to the golden years of metal recorded during the summer of 2020, mixed and mastered by Dez D’Outre-Tombe, and featuring an old school cover art by Spanish artist Raul Gonzalez and a classic chrome logo by Venezuelan artist Daniel Porta, everything brought into being in the best DIY way possible.

It’s time to embark on a frantic and metallic journey together with Cannibal in The Warlock, with Jo and B. Destroyer firing blazing riffs and solos while Christ Disappointer doesn’t disappoint at all with his Thrash Metal-fueled beats, while in Skulls And Wings the band offers our ears a Warlock-inspired sonority with Gretchen doing a very good job by adding her feminine touch to the raw sounds blasted by her bandmates. Needless to say, once again Jo and B. Destroyer are on absolute fire on the guitars, and speeding things up and sounding more melodic than before they bring forward Gates Of Hell, presenting a classic Heavy Metal sonority from the 80’s with no shenanigans, spiced up by a catchy chorus tailored for being sung along together with Cannibal on any rock pub, followed by  On Your Feet, with Andy showing no mercy for his bass, blasting a metallic sound that will beautifully hammer our heads while Gretchen is effectively supported by her henchmen’s backing vocals in a very pleasant fusion of Heavy and Speed Metal.

The excellent title-track Fire Meets Steel is an ode to all of our metal heroes such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon, with Jo, B. Destroyer and Andy making a flammable stringed triumvirate while Christ Disappointer dictates the song’s vibrant pace behind his drums. Then the galloping bass by Andy supported by Christ Disappointer’s old school beats provide Gretchen all she needs to shine with her trademark she-wolf vocals in After All, bringing to our ears more of their straightforward metal music, with Jo and B. Destroyer yet again slashing their strings in great fashion. Last but not least, ending the album the quintet blasts the also raw and dirty Catacombs Of Hell, not as inspiring as the rest of the album (despite its great name) but still very cohesive and detailed. In addition, Gretchen’s vocals are not as powerful either, but the whole song still has a lot of good moments like the band’s trademark fiery riffage.

In summary, Cannibal don’t want to reinvent the wheel (or maybe I should say reinvent the steel) with their debut album; quite the contrary, Jo and his bandmates simply want to pay a humble tribute to the glory of the 80’s and 90’s with their music, offering us fans of classic Heavy Metal a very good reason for banging our heads while enjoying a cold beer together with our closest friends. As a matter of fact, with a Manowar-ish name like Fire Meets Steel, I don’t think you were expecting anything modern or futuristic, right? Hence, don’t forget to pay them a visit on Facebook and to purchase Fire Meets Steel, which is also available for a full listen on YouTube, from their own BandCamp page, keeping the fires of Cannibal burning bright and, therefore, helping them forge their steel to the best shape of all, which is of course the shape of our beloved Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: The Warlock and Fire Meets Steel.

Worst moments of the album: Catacombs Of Hell.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. The Warlock 3:42
2. Skulls And Wings 3:47
3. Gates Of Hell 3:15
4. On Your Feet 3:09
5. Fire Meets Steel 3:35
6. After All 3:44
7. Catacombs Of Hell 3:54

Band members
Gretchen Steel – vocals
Jo Capitalicide – guitar
B. Destroyer – guitar
Andy Lust – bass
Christ Disappointer – drums