Album Review – Chimera / Gloria Mortis (2022)

Playing what can be described as a mix of Heavy and Black Metal, this up-and-coming Polish group returns with their sophomore album, as dark and heavy as it is melodic and epic.

Established at the end of 2013 in Warsaw, Poland, Chimera play what can be described as a mix of Heavy and Black Metal, which is exactly what they have to offer us all in their sophomore opus Gloria Mortis, the follow-up to their 2016 debut effort Transmutation. Recorded at Hainrich House Studio, Gloria Mortis is just as dark and heavy as it is melodic and epic, being highly recommended for admirers of the newest wave of extreme music, in special all the new names hailing form the vibrant underground scene in Poland, therefore showcasing all the talent by the band currently formed of Krzysztof Gałecki on vocals and guitars, founder Rafał “Charon” Mazur on lead guitars, Wiktor Waliłko on bass, and Andrzej Ruszkowski on drums.

An eerie intro simply titled I, where Krzysztof distills his Polish words to give it a darker edge, sets the tone for the pulverizing and grim Dunkelheit (“darkness” from German), presenting Black Metal riffs by Krzysztof and Charon while Andrzej hammers his drums powerfully, being at the same time ferocious and melodic, and kicking things off on a very high note. Then investing in a similar sound of its predecessor, Necrosis of Soul is another infuriated creation by Chimera where the band adds elements from Groove Metal and Deathcore to their core essence, not to mention Krzysztof sounds inhumane with his deep roars; whereas Madness sounds and feels even heavier and more demented, with Charon being on fire with his riffage and solos accompanied by the rumbling bass by Wiktor in an electrifying fusion of Black, Heavy and Death Metal. And the thunderous bass and beats by Wiktor and Andrzej, respectively, generate a menacing ambience in Nieistniejąc (“non-existent” from Polish), with the sharp riffs by the band’s guitar duo slashing our ears mercilessly.

The album’s “second act” begins with the horror-movie inspired interlude II, also displaying cryptic vocalizations and morphing into the intricate and groovy Immortal Self, reminding me of the music by several bands from the current American modern metal scene. Moreover, the song’s devilish growls and razor-edged riffs will pierce your mind like a bullet, whereas headbanging guitars and a Stygian atmosphere will embrace your soul in The Bable Tower, where Krzysztof continues to vociferate like a creature from the underworld in a vicious onrush of Black and Death Metal. Then in Asmodeus we’re all invited to slam into the circle pit thanks to its endless brutality, groove and electricity, with Andrzej sounding insane behind his drums supported by the metallic bass by Wiktor, resulting in one of the best songs of the album hands down. And the band keeps delivering their trademark hybrid of violence and intricacy in Dziki Sęp (“wild vulture” from Polish), bringing forward an awesome job done by Krzysztof and Charon with their Black Metal-infused riffs. There’s still time for one last breath of pure insanity entitled Among Wolves, getting heavier and heavier as time passes by, all spearheaded by the venomous vocalizations by Krzysztof before a narration-style outro named III puts a Stygian ending to the album.

If you’re an admirer of a modern fusion of Black, Death and Heavy Metal with a dense background, you should definitely give the new album by Chimera a try by streaming it in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course purchase it from the band’s own Facebook page to show your utmost support to the underground. In addition, go check what the band is up to on Facebook and on Instagram, including their tour dates, and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music and videos. Gloria Mortis is undoubtedly a step forward in the career of such promising band from the Polish metal scene, and I’m pretty sure that we’ll hear more from those guys sooner than we can imagine as their third opus isn’t far from seeing the light of day.

Best moments of the album: Dunkelheit, Madness and Asmodeus.

Worst moments of the album: Immortal Self.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. I 1:48
2. Dunkelheit 5:36
3. Necrosis of Soul 4:33
4. Madness 4:02
5. Nieistniejąc 5:15
6. II 1:22
7. Immortal Self 4:01
8. The Bable Tower 4:05
9. Asmodeus 4:30
10. Dziki Sęp 3:28
11. Among Wolves 3:59
12. III 1:07

Band members
Krzysztof Gałecki – vocals, guitars
Rafał “Charon” Mazur – lead guitars
Wiktor Waliłko – bass
Andrzej Ruszkowski – drums

Album Review – Empress / Fateweaver (2022)

This up-and-coming Symphonic Metal five-piece outfit from Philadelphia is well on their way to conquering the big stages and setting people’s minds ablaze to the sound of their striking debut album.

An up-and-coming five-piece act from Philadelphia, in the United States, centered around classically-trained singer Barbara Blackthorne and main songwriting, mastermind and guitarist Vlad Khavin, Symphonic Metal outfit Empress is well on their way to conquering the big stages and setting people’s minds ablaze with kaleidoscopic arrangements, and their brand new album Fateweaver is the perfect way to kick-off their path to success showcasing their unique take on Symphonic Metal while they effortlessly transition between a variety of powerful tunes. Mixed and mastered by Dan Swanö at Unisound Studios, produced and engineered by the aforementioned Vlad Khavin, and displaying a classy artwork by Nguyen Hieu, Fateweaver will fully captivate your senses thanks to the amazing job done by Barbara and Vlad alongside their bandmates Joseph Muir on the guitars, Nicholas Bonsanto on bass and Mark Stainthorpe on drums, asking you if you’re bound by fate or bound to control it, as they navigate the overarching theme of destiny through the tales of the individual characters on each song.

Whimsical keys ignite the symphonic, epic title-track entitled Legion, with Mark dictating the pace with his heavy beats before Barbara arrives like a Valkyrie from the sky and stuns us all with her operatic vocals, and the guitars by Vlad and Joseph reverberate in the air in the also imposing Beyond the Sleep, with all background elements adding an extra touch of magic to the overall result. Then a sinister, somber start evolves into a multi-layered feast of Symphonic Power Metal titled Chimera, also presenting tons of progressiveness and electricity while Barbara is flawless on vocals supported by the pounding drums by Mark; whereas they don’t waste a single second and continue their musical adventure in The Fall of Kingdoms, with Vlad and Joseph being on absolute fire with both their riffs and solos, followed by Black Arcana, very rhythmic, epic and dense from start to finish, with Barbara’s soaring vocals being a thing of beauty while Nicholas and Mark generate a rumbling atmosphere with their respective bass and drums.

Monarch is another dynamic and ethereal display of Symphonic Metal by those talented musicians where the riffage by the band’s guitar duo beautifully clashes with the song’s  background keys, while there are moments of sheer progressiveness that remind me of Opeth and Dream Theater. In the electrifying Into the Grey, the unstoppable Barbara gorgeously declaims the song’s words (“The coming storm brings a change / The eye of fate shifts its gaze / The sky will show the way to rend fear from my heart”) while her bandmates make sure we’re transported into a world of magic and epicness to the sound of their undisputed Symphonic and Melodic Metal; whereas Immortelle sounds clearly inspired by classic Nightwish and Epica, offering our ears another round of their piercing sounds albeit a bit generic if compared to the rest of the album. And last but not least, closing such powerful album we have the seven-minute symphony Eventide, where Barbara showcases all her vocal range and potency and where all elements are in the right place, elevating the song’s punch to a whole new level and resulting in a climatic ending for admirers of the genre.

You can get to know more about Empress, their music, plans for the future, tour dates and so on by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, stay up to date with their new songs and videos by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by streaming their music on Spotify, and show your utmost support to those hard working American metallers by purchasing a copy of their new album from their own webstore or from their BandCamp page, or simply by clicking HERE or HERE to select your favorite version of the album or to stream it in full. What do you say? Are you bound by fate or bound to control it? If you don’t know the answer to that, let Empress help you to the sound of their striking debut album, allowing their stylish Symphonic Metal to penetrate deep inside your mind and soul.

Best moments of the album: Legion, Chimera and Into the Grey.

Worst moments of the album: Immortelle.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Legion 4:20
2. Beyond the Sleep 4:34
3. Chimera 7:11
4. The Fall of Kingdoms 5:40
5. Black Arcana 4:38
6. Monarch 5:35
7. Into the Grey 4:00
8. Immortelle 4:53
9. Eventide 6:54

Band members
Barbara Blackthorne – vocals
Vlad Khavin – guitars
Joseph Muir – guitars
Nicholas Bonsanto – bass
Mark Stainthorpe – drums