Album Review – Mazikeen / The Solace of Death (2020)

A beastly album of Symphonic Death and Black Metal from Australia that proves death can be comforting when enfolded by first-class extreme music.

What started in 2013 in Melbourne, Australia as a solo project by guitarist Andrew Shiells with the help from Chris Meyer (from Australian Black Metal act Aberration Nexus), who recorded some drums and synths for the project’s first demo tracks, has evolved to a much bolder and multi-layered beast in recent years, blasting a crushing hybrid of Symphonic Death and Black Metal with other extreme styles such as Melodic Death Metal and old school Black Metal. I’m talking about Mazikeen (based on the Hebrew word “mazzikim”, meaning “harmful spirits”), an infernal horde comprised of the aforementioned Andrew Shiells and his henchmen James Edmeades (Claret Ash) on vocals, Kris Marchant on the guitars, Aretstikapha (Plasmodium, Klavierkrieger) on piano and synths, and Marco Pitrruzzella (Six Feet Under, Sleep Terror) on drums, who are unleashing upon us their first full-length opus titled The Solace of Death, featuring eight original songs and four insane cover tracks throughout impressive 67 minutes of music, all embraced by the stylish and sinister artwork by Australian artist Jamie Ludbrooke.

An eerie, phantasmagorical intro evolves into a feast of symphonic and dark sounds in the opening track The Solace Of Death, where Marco is absolutely infernal with his blast beats while James delivers his Dani Filth/Shagrath-inspired roars and gnarls, supported by the imposing synths by Andrew and Aretstikapha, whereas in Apostate it’s time for ten minutes of Symphonic Black Metal infused with Doom and Melodic Death Metal nuances where the guitars by Kris and Andrew sound sharp and very harmonious just the way we like it in extreme music. Brutal and enthralling form start to finish, this great composition lives up to the legacy of bands like Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and Carpathian Forest, which can also be said about Vexation Through The Golden Sun, even more obscure, violent and epic than its predecessors, spearheaded by the insane drums by Marco while his bandmates make sure every empty space in the air is filled with darkness and evil, resulting in a lecture in modern-day Symphonic Black Metal full of breaks and variations, Stygian passages and even some serene, acoustic moments for our total delight. And featuring guest vocals by Josh Young (Astral Winter, Atra Vetosus), Mazikeen go full Scandinavian Black Metal in Fractricide, inspired by the trailblazers of the genre such as Mayhem and Emperor, blasting a demolishing sonority that will make your head tremble nonstop.

Josh returns with his wicked gnarls in the melancholic and somber Psychotic Reign, starting in a Gothic Metal-ish vibe while also presenting elements from Atmospheric Black Metal in its core essence. Moreover, I personally love the paradox created between Marco’s stone crushing beats and all background keys and symphonic elements, giving the whole song and extra touch of eccentricity, flowing into the cryptic and atmospheric instrumental bridge Harrowing Cessation, which also develops into a romantic instrumental ballad entitled MORS VINCIT OMNIA, or “death conquers all” from Latin, where the strength and depth of the piano notes take the lead and guide the music until its inevitable and grim ending. And in the last original song from the album, Cerulean Last Night, Mazikeen get back to a more ferocious and visceral mode, uniting the most piercing elements from old school Black Metal and contemporary Symphonic Black Metal spiced up by the visceral guest vocals by Ian McLean (The Maledict).

The last batch of songs in The Solace of Death is the band’s own tribute to their biggest idols and influences, starting with Mayhem’s Freezing Moon, originally released in the 1994 cult album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (check the original version HERE), with Mazikeen’s version featuring the vicious vocals by guest Ashahalasin (Inhuman Remnants, Somnium Nox) infernally complemented by the pulverizing drums by Marco, followed by Disection’s Night’s Blood, from the 1995 album Storm of the Light’s Bane, as bestial as the original song with Kris and Andrew delivering sheer electricity and rage through their scorching riffs. Then we have a cover for Dimmu Borgir’s Mourning Palace, from the 1997 album Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (you can listen to the original one HERE), where James does a fantastic job on vocals accompanied by the whimsical keys and synths by Andrew and Aretstikapha. And finally, Ashahalasin returns for their cover song for Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger, from the 1994 album Transilvanian Hunger, as raw and malevolent as the original tune, with Marco once again taking the lead firing endless dementia and wrath from his blast beats.

You can enjoy this precious gem of Australian Black Metal in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and also grab your copy of the album from the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page, from the Iron, Blood & Death Corporation’s BandCamp page, from Apple Music, or click HERE for all options where you can buy or stream the album. Mazikeen can also be found on Facebook, where you can know more about the band, their tour dates, their music and plans for the future, proudly carrying the flag of Black Metal wherever they go. In a nutshell, Andrew and his horde from Mazikeen nailed it in The Solace of Death, showing us all that death can be indeed comforting, especially if enfolded by a good amount of first-class Black Metal like the sonic devastation blasted by such distinct band hailing from the always inspiring Australia.

Best moments of the album: Vexation Through The Golden Sun, Fractricide and Night’s Blood.

Worst moments of the album: Harrowing Cessation.

Released in 2020 Satanath Records/Iron, Blood & Death Corporation

Track listing
1. The Solace Of Death 6:57
2. Apostate 10:05
3. Vexation Through The Golden Sun 10:46
4. Fractricide 4:54
5. Psychotic Reign 7:00
6. Harrowing Cessation 2:30
7. MORS VINCIT OMNIA 2:59
8. Cerulean Last Night 7:34
9. Freezing Moon (Mayhem cover) 6:36
10. Night’s Blood (Dissection cover) 7:10
11. Mourning Palace (Dimmu Borgir cover) 5:36
12. Transilvanian Hunger (Darkthrone cover) 5:36

Band members
James Edmeades – vocals
Kris Marchant – guitars
Andrew Shiells – guitars, synths
Aretstikapha – piano, synths
Marco Pitrruzzella – drums

Guest musicians
Josh Young – vocals on “Fractricide” and “Psychotic Reign”
Ian McLean – vocals on “Cerulean Last Night”
Ashahalasin – vocals on “Freezing Moon” and “Transilvanian Hunger”

Metal Chick of the Month – Mariia “Masha” Dementieva

Raise some hell, our true Lady Evil!

Are you ready to scream and roar together with our metal chick of the month of April in the name of darkness and evil, here on The Headbanging Moose webzine? If you’re a fan of the blasphemous, obscure and absolutely awesome music played by renowned acts like Behemoth, Septicflesh and Kaoteon, among many others, you’ll fall in love with the talent and beauty of Mariia “Masha” Dementieva, also known as simply Masha (or even  Mary Crematorium in a not-so-distant past, and if you prefer, Мария Дементьева in her mother tongue), the unrelenting frontwoman for Ukrainian Blackened Death Metal horde Nordwitch. That, of course, if you come from another galaxy or dimension and haven’t listened to Nordwitch’s sulfurous music yet, because if you’re from this planet I’m sure you’re already addicted to Masha’s demonic growling.

Although there’s isn’t much available online about Masha’s personal life (apart from many awesome photos from her career as a model, photo model and alternative tattoo model), you can still enjoy a good amount of information from her ass-kicking Kyiv-based band Nordwitch, formed in 2015. Singing about some very interesting topics such as satanism, occultism and ancient Scandinavian mythology, Nordwitch bring forth a flammable fusion of Black and Death Metal in their music, offering tons of melody amidst a brutal sonic devastation. The name Nordwitch, according to Masha herself, is the band’s representation of the mysticism and mystery of Scandinavian witches with a hint of female sexuality, which by the way matches perfectly with her diabolical vocal style. As a matter of fact, before becoming Nordwitch, Masha and the rest of the band, guitarists Max and Leo and bassist Max Senchilo, were all part of a Symphonic/Progressive Metal band named Crystalnight, where Masha was not their vocalist, but their keyboardist. If you’re curious to know how Masha and her bandmates used to sound before morphing into the dark beast known as Nordwitch, you can take a listen at some of their songs from their ReverbNation profile, such as Dark Angel and the original version of Nordwitch’s crushing tune Lady Evil.

In addition, not only Masha spearheads her horde of Blackened Death Metal in Nordwitch, but she was also one of the producers of their 2016 opus Mørk Profeti together with the other members of the band. You can listen to their pulverizing album in full on YouTube, and raise your horns to amazing songs like the aforementioned Lady Evil and Messiah of Death, or search for some live footage online like this one where the band is playing Lady Evil live at MHM – Metal Head’s Mission Festival in 2018. Furthermore, don’t forget to buy your copy of the album at the Satanath Records BandCamp, to subscribe to the band’s YouTube channel (where you can find for example a fun and raw version of the song No Regret live in Kyiv, Ukraine in 2016), follow them on VKontakte, and listen to more of their music through their ReverbNation and SoundCloud profiles. Who doesn’t enjoy listening to some brutal metal music like this remastered live version of Messiah of Death, right?

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In regards to her idols and main influences in music and in life in general, Masha said in one of her interviews that not only herself but all of her bandmates are inspired by mysticism, occultism and several other eccentric topics when writing their music, always trying to make their sound as unique as possible. As the main founder and central figure of Nordwitch, a project that was originated inside her pagan mind, Masha is obviously influenced by all classic Black Metal bands, such as Mayhem, Watain and Bathory, which she’s been a fan since she was a teenager, and you can see how much she’s passionate about such controversial but fantastic subgenre of heavy music by visiting her official Instagram account and searching for her personal videos playing several Black Metal classics on the piano and keyboard. For instance, take a very good listen at her delicate but at the same time piercing piano versions for Burzum’s Dunkelheit and Han Som Reiste, Dark Funeral’s Stigmata, Dissection’s Where Dead Angels Lie and Thorns Of Crimson Death, and Shining’s Tillsammans Är Vi Allt, among others, as well as non-Black Metal hymns like Type O Negative’s Love You To Death. In addition, she mentioned in an interview that she’s also influenced by classical music and Scandinavian folk music, which kind of explains her passion for the piano, and that Runhild Gammelsæter, a Norwegian musician notable for being the vocalist for the American bands Thorr’s Hammer and Khlyst, is her favorite female metal singer of all time, complementing by saying that she cannot choose only one male singer as her favorite, though, as there are too many.

When asked about her hobbies outside of music, Masha listed a few very interesting and healthy activities, like working out and practicing sports, modeling and photography, also mentioning her interest in satanism, occultism and the mythology of ancient Scandinavia, which as aforementioned are the main topics covered in the music by Nordwitch. In addition, Masha said in one of her interviews she’s an apolitical person, as in her opinion true Black Metal has always been and will continue to be away from politics or anything related to it, being focused on religion and other more obscure topics. She also said that she had always dreamed about being in an Extreme Metal band like Nordwitch, but she wasn’t sure if that was going to actually happen one day, also saying she understands being a woman in a Black and Death Metal band from the underground scene is not easy at all, but that she won’t give up and keep on rockin’, always counting on the support form her family, friends and fans, aiming as high as possible with Nordwitch in the years to come. And we, true metalheads, will be ready to hail darkness and raise our horns together with the unstoppable Masha and her henchmen, no doubt about that.

Masha’s Official Instagram
NordWitch’s Official Facebook page
NordWitch’s Official VKontakte
NordWitch’s Official YouTube channel

Album Review – Theurgia / Transformation (2017)

Descend into the crypts of Hades to the sound of the perturbing and dense Black Metal brought forth by this ruthless Venezuelan horde.

Forged in the scorching fires of Maracaibo, Venezuela in 2014 from the ashes of a band called Daemonhorn, but currently located in Colombia, old school Black Metal horde Theurgia are among us to blast pure hatred and violence with the release of their debut full-length album, titled Transformation. Recorded at Fenix Estudio in Barranquilla, Colombia, mixed and mastered at Dae Home Studio, and featuring an ominous album art created by John Quevedo Janssens (with the art in the digital edition being designed by the band’s own vocalist and guitarist Daemonae), Transformation brings all elements that make traditional Black Metal so compelling and menacing, helping the band carve their name in the history of underground South American extreme music.

The word “Theurgia” is the Lesser Key of Solomon (also known as Clavicula Salomonis Regis) called “Ars Theurgia Goetia”, the invocation of 31 demonic entities (those being emperors, dukes, kings and princes) with special characteristics. With such an imposing name, the music by Theurgia couldn’t sound more perturbing and dense than what they offer us in Transformation, with their lyrics talking about important topics such as general philosophy and war (in full gear). In the 40 minutes of visceral, disturbing music of the album, the band comprised of lead singer and guitarist Daemonae, guitarist Mortum P., bassist Teuterastus and drummer Hellbeats deliver an enraged message to the world, stating that darkness is upon us and there’s nothing we can do to avoid our grievous fate. In other words, if you’re searching for high-end raw old school extreme music or even the perfect soundtrack to the apocalypse, Transformation has exactly what you need to enfold your darkest and most villainous thoughts.

An intro directly from the pits of hell, titled The Torch ov Creation, announces devastation is about to break loose in ILV (The Verb of Waters), which begins in a doom-ish mode until Daemonae starts to fire his blackened growls while Hellbeats lives up to his own moniker on drums, with the music gradually evolving to raw and furious old school Black Metal. If that solid start is not heavy enough for you, the title-track Transformation presents the Venezuelan quartet on their most menacing beast mode, with Mortum P. delivering truly infernal riffs that effectively complement the demented drumming by Helbeats. Put differently, this full-bodied ode to darkness will offer your ears a chaotic havoc of Black Metal sounds led by the aggressive gnarls by Daemonae.

Transmutation (Of Synesthetic Formula) brings forward more of the band’s evil and obscure sounds, with Daemonae vociferating like a demonic entity while Teuterastus and Hellbeats threaten us all with their rumbling instruments, disturbing our senses until the songs climatic ending. Then we have My Oeneric Dreams, a short, ominous bridge to the visceral Procesio IV – Monotonous Chant, another song that begins in a Doom Metal fashion before exploding into a haunting feast of Black and Death Metal. This is a top-notch blackened aria where Hellbeats sets fire to the musicality with his drums, while Mortum P. distils his sulfuric riffs mercilessly. If you’re a fan of vile Blackened Death Metal, this song is simply tailored for your avid inner demon.

There’s no time to breathe with an onrush of crushing extreme music named Procesio V – Dolorvm, presenting an imposing sonority generated by the mesmerizing Black Metal riffs by Mortum P. and the unearthly bass by Teuterastus; followed by Procesio VI – Mea Spíritus in Opium (the creation of our souls before apparent orthodox existence), where the band gets to a truly demented level, delivering high dosages of putrid gnarls, devilish riffs and blast beats, resulting in a scathing descend into the crypts of Hades with Theurgia, therefore ending the album on a high note. And as a bonus track to the physical version of the album we have their cover version for Dissection’s Retribution – Storm of the Light’s Bane (check the original version HERE), taken from the tribute album “In Memory of Jon Nödtveidt – A Tribute to Dissection”, bringing all the fury of the original song by Dissection with Theurgia’s own perverse twist.

You can easily join the dark side of South American Extreme Metal by following Theurgia on Facebook and YouTube, and purchase your copy of Transformation, which you can listen in its entirety HERE, through the Throats Productions’ BandCamp, the Worship Tapes’ webstore, the Esfinge Records’ webstore or at Discogs. And after listening to Transformation, may your soul never be in peace again.

Best moments of the album: ILV (The Verb of Waters), Transformation and Procesio IV – Monotonous Chant.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Throats Productions/Worship Tapes

Track listing
1. The Torch ov Creation (Instrumental) 0:54
2. ILV (The Verb of Waters) 5:56
3. Transformation 7:27
4. Transmutation (Of Synesthetic Formula) 6:20
5. My Oeneric Dreams (Instrumental) 0:41
6. Procesio IV – Monotonous Chant 7:39
7. Procesio V – Dolorvm 5:25
8. Procesio VI – Mea Spíritus in Opium 5:49

Physical Edition bonus track
9. Retribution – Storm of the Light’s Bane (Dissection cover) 5:19

Band members
Daemonae – vocals, lead guitars
Mortum P. – rhythm guitars
Teuterastus – bass, backing vocals
Hellbeats – drums