The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021

“I wanted to play drums because I fell in love with the glitter and the lights, but it wasn’t about adulation. It was being up there playing.” – Charlie Watts

And there goes another year without a single metal concert in Canada. Another year full of uncertainties, fears, polarization, restrictions, and everything else we “love” so much. I honestly don’t know what to say about 2021 apart form the fact it was undoubtedly much better than 2020, but that means nothing considering the total nightmare that 2020 was. We lost a lot of huge names in the rock and metal scene such as Joey Jordison, Dusty Hill, Mike Howe, Johnny Solinger, Marsha Zazula, Alexi Laiho, John Hinch, John Lawton, Charlie Watts and Hank Von Hell, among many others. Tons of festivals including Download, Wacken Open Air, Hellfest, Bloodstock Open Air, Sweden Rock Festival and Dynamo MetalFest were scheduled to return this year after the 2020 editions of those festivals were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but unfortunately Sweden Rock, Hellfest, Download and Wacken Open Air were once again cancelled. With that said, why do we metalheads still believe in a better future? Is it because, despite all adversities, our favorite bands released some of their best albums from the past few years?

Hence, as new lockdowns are being imposed upon us in a never-ending pandemic loop, there’s not much we can do but enjoy The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, keeping us sane until this madness is finally over. Or maybe I should say if it will be over one day, of course. There’s a bit of everything for all types of fans, from classic Heavy Metal to the brutality of Death Metal, from the modern nuances of Melodic Death Metal to old school Thrash Metal, and so on, and in my humble opinions one of the most interesting facts about several albums launched in 2021 is their duration, with many of those surpassing the one hour barrier such as Senjutsu, Helloween, Persona Non Grata, Existence Is Futile and Blood on Blood, not to mention the over four hours of music from the Lordiversity boxset, which for me proves how much the bands responsible for those albums love their fans by offering them a lot of new music to enjoy during such difficult times. I would say that even if there are ZERO metal albums launched in 2022, we’ll still have a lot of great music to enjoy throughout the year thanks to all the amazing records released in 2021, don’t you agree?

1. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu (REVIEW)
Behold another masterpiece by the one and only Iron Maiden with its 82 minutes of tactics, strategy, war, resilience and determination.
Best song of the album: Hell on Earth

2. Helloween – Helloween (REVIEW)
A dream come true for all generations of “Happy, Happy Helloween” fans from all over the world.
Best song of the album: Skyfall

3. Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon (REVIEW)
It’s time to join Trivium in the court of the dragon to the sound of their magnificent new opus.
Best song of the album: Like a Sword Over Damocles

4. Exodus – Persona Non Grata (REVIEW)
Don’t be a “persona non grata” in the world of heavy music and get into the circle pit to the sound of this newborn thrashing beast.
Best song of the album: Lunatic-Liar-Lord

5. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined (REVIEW)
State of the art Death Metal played with passion and breathless precision by the most violent and unrelenting band of all time.
Best song of the album: Surround, Kill, Devour

6. 1914 – Where Fear and Weapons Meet (REVIEW)
Ukraine’s own doom infantry is back into the battlefield with another masterpiece, telling the gruesome tales of World War I.
Best song of the album: Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines)

7. Motorjesus – Hellbreaker (REVIEW)
Let’s drive through the fires of hell together with one of the best bands from the German rock and metal scene.
Best song of the album: Hellbreaker

8. Nervosa – Perpetual Chaos (REVIEW)
A deadly and thrashing lesson in perpetual chaos by four metalheads hailing from Brazil, Italy, Spain and Greece
Best song of the album: Time to Fight

9. Gojira – Fortitude (REVIEW)
Let’s all face up the world to the sound of the new masterpiece by one of the most dynamic bands of the current metal scene.
Best song of the album: Amazonia

10. Blaze Bayley – War Within Me (REVIEW)
The man who will live for a thousand years is back, inspiring us all to fight the war within us and to take our future in our own hands.
Best song of the album: Pull Yourself Up

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Running Wild – Blood on Blood (REVIEW)
12. Lordi – Lordiversity (REVIEW)
13. Cradle of Filth – Existence Is Futile (REVIEW)
14. Diabolizer – Khalkedonian Death (REVIEW)
15. Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida (REVIEW)
16. Moonspell – Hermitage (REVIEW)
17. Lutharo – Hiraeth (REVIEW)
18. Unflesh – Inhumation (REVIEW)
19. Scarlet Aura – Genesis of Time (REVIEW)
20. Coiled Around Thy Spine – From The Ashes (REVIEW)

In addition to all that, let’s bang our heads with our Top 10 EP’s of 2021 to prove once and for all that not all great albums of the year have to be so long. The EP’s from this list are simply awesome, showcasing the band’s talent and their ability to sound epic even if the music lasts for only a few minutes.

1. Eonian – The Nomad (REVIEW)
2. Lady Beast – Omens (REVIEW)
3. The Agonist – Days Before the World Wept (REVIEW)
4. Tantivy – Eyes in the Night (REVIEW)
5. Grale – AGITACIÓN (REVIEW)
6. Bouquet of Dead Crows – Hemispheres Part 2: Cerebral (REVIEW)
7. Kadavereich – Radiance Of Doom (REVIEW)
8. Wolvencrown – A Shadow Of What Once Was (REVIEW)
9. Juliet Ruin – Dark Water (REVIEW)
10. Black Hole Deity – Lair Of Xenolich (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2021? Also, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC+2 on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show! And if you lost some or most of our special editions of The Headbanging Moose Show, including our Top 20 Underground Albums of 2021 – Parts I and II, go to our Mixcloud page and there you have hours and hours of the best of the independent scene, sounds good?

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2022!

And before I go, I’ll leave you with some touching words by Mr. Lordi and his crew of monsters…

Something something blah blah to you
All the sincere wishes come true
I put vengeance on my wish list
And that’s what Santa brought
So have a merry something and a happy blah blah blah

Album Review – Nocturnal Wanderer / Gift of the Night (2021)

This unknown entity will crush your soul with its newborn beast, offering endless midnight mysticism and reverence for all that goes by night.

Formed in the Spring of 2021 in the Pacific Northwest region as a one-man anonymous project, Portland, Oregon-based Black Metal entity Nocturnal Wanderer has just released its debut full-length opus, entitled Gift of the Night. Recorded and produced at Sacred Atavism, and featuring illustrations by Thaumaturge Artworks and lettering by NW, the album showcases a traditional Black Metal sound and minimalist compositions, yet allowing the occasional Heavy Metal style solo to seep in. Ferocious while at the same time strangely serene and triumphant, Gift of the Night is a singular beast offering us all endless midnight mysticism and reverence for all that goes by night, being therefore highly recommended for admirers of the music by Havukruunu, Malokarpatan, Panphage and Arckanum, among others.

The opening track Twilight Befell is an infernal, raw Black Metal feast with darkly poetic lyrics (“Eventide arrive / Sunlight’s glow fading / Darkness creatures stirring / Bats flitter across the black sky / Aria of dusk / Air chill and sharp / Breathe the night into lungs”) to properly kick off the album, whereas our anonymous lone wolf continues to hammer his drums and extract sulfur from his stringed axe in Darkness in Rapture, another demented old school Black Metal tune presenting all elements we love in the genre. Then adding the most Stygian elements from Doom Metal to his core sonority it’s time for the sinister Sentient Shadows, where once again this one-man horde presents a visceral job on the guitars and drums until the very last second; and drinking from the blasphemous fountain of classic bands the likes of Mayhem, Immortal and Dark Funeral he brings forward By Moonlight, showcasing another round of sick riffs, incendiary blast beats and venomous roars. His second to last breath of darkness comes in the form of Distant Stars in Distant Skies, sounding absolutely haunting and vile, all spiced up of course by his grim, otherworldly gnarls, and there’s time for one final blast of obscurity by Nocturnal Wanderer entitled The Amberdawn, which takes too long to take off and lacks those traditional Black Metal words and growls, but nothing that would cause any harm to the album.

If you consider yourself a true servant of darkness, you can enjoy Gift of the Night in its entirety on YouTube, and of course purchase a copy of such raw and intense album from the project’s own BandCamp page, from the Nameless Grave Records’ webstore or from the Balor’s Eye Productions’ BandCamp page, diving even deeper into the void that consumes our souls. Although the entity behind  Nocturnal Wanderer doesn’t want to disclose his identity (at least not for now), that won’t stop fans of the darkest side of music, including myself, to thank him for bringing into being Gift of the Night, a precious gem of the underground that will help in keeping the flames of Black Metal burning for centuries to come, leaving us even more curious to know the real name of a creature so loyal to the dark.

Best moments of the album: Darkness in Rapture and By Moonlight.

Worst moments of the album: The Amberdawn.

Released in 2021 Nameless Grave Records/Balor’s Eye Productions/Altare Productions

Track listing
1. Twilight Befell 4:45
2. Darkness in Rapture 3:57
3. Sentient Shadows 5:39
4. By Moonlight 5:27
5. Distant Stars in Distant Skies 5:25
6. The Amberdawn 6:10

Band members
Anonymous – vocals, all instruments

Metal Chick of the Month – Johanna Sadonis

Lucifer, oh, Lucifer… Falling for me…

As another weird and dark year is coming to its inevitable end, and as winter is finally coming, let’s set The Headbanging Moose on fire and warm us up this month of December with our tribute to the last metal lady of 2021, the unstoppable Johanna Sadonis, also known as Johanna Claudia Platow, the frontwoman for Heavy/Doom Metal/Rock entity Lucifer. Born on January 21, 1979 in Berlin, Germany, but currently residing in Stockholm, Sweden due to being married to Lucifer’s own guitarist and drummer Nicke Andersson, Johanna is not only an accomplished and extremely talented vocalist, but also a DJ, a designer, an art director and a lyricist involved in various metal bands and projects during the 90’s and early 2000’s. Having said all that, are you ready to join Johanna in her quest for dark and doomed music?

A late bloomer in the Hard Rock scene, Johanna started out in the 90’s playing and singing Extreme Metal in the underground scene, gradually moving to a darker and more melodic 70’s-inspired Hard Rock and Heavy Metal style after founding Lucifer back in 2014. But let’s take a step back in time and talk a little about her early days and how she started in music before moving on to her current band. Johanna got into rock music when she was really young with her parents’ record collection, getting to know bands the likes of The Rolling stones, AC/DC, ZZ Top and Deep Purple, among others, as well as Punk Rock from her older brother. Then in 1992 when she was 13 she went to see Guns N’ Roses and Metallica, with her next gig being Danzig when she was 14, setting her first step into the dark side of music and moving on to heavier and darker styles such as Death, Black and Doom Metal.

According to Johanna herself that happened because she was at a summer camp when she was 12 and two of her friends were into metal, and when she was 16 those guys asked her to guest sing on the demo cassette of their Death Metal band (which by the way ended up happening a few more times as that was the thing in the 90’s), getting her more and more involved with the underground scene in Berlin. At that time Johanna said she was very serious about all that. She had black hair, black clothes, her whole room was black, and she got into magic, having worked at an esoteric book shop after school. However, her earliest memory of her fascination with singing and music was when she discovered the song Leader Of The Pack by the Shangri-Las on a Rock N’ Roll compilation cassette that her mom gave her when she was six. As she couldn’t speak English at that time, she said she started writing lyrics to songs down phonetically so she could sing along as a child. Later in her early teenage years she started to write poems and lyrics, and bought her first acoustic guitar, teaching herself to play and to sing.

It was only in 2014 in Berlin when Johanna formed Heavy/Doom Metal/Rock outfit Lucifer, and after a few lineup changes Johanna became the only original member of the band currently comprised of our stunning frontwoman together with guitarist and drummer Nicke Andersson, guitarists Martin Nordin and Linus Björklund, and bassist Harald Göthblad, having also relocated the band to Stockholm, Sweden, as already mentioned. When asked if she’s ever faced any legal problems with using the name Lucifer considering it’s a name other bands have already used throughout the years, she mentioned she wouldn’t have chosen the name if it would have belonged to a larger active band, but so far she hasn’t had any problems with it. In addition, when asked about how dark the name of the band is, Johanna reminded us all that bands like Black Sabbath and Pentagram are not Black or Death Metal, also mentioning The Rolling Stones’ classic Sympathy for The Devil as an example of how demonic figures can also be used successfully in a more Rock N’ Roll way.

Playing what can be called a 70’s-inspired fusion of Rock N’ Roll and Doom Metal, Luficer have already released four full-length albums, those being Lucifer I (2015), Lucifer II (2018), Lucifer III (2020), and Lucifer IV (2021), with Johanna obviously being the lead singer in all of those records, plus the keyboardist and sampler on Lucifer I. If you want to have a very good taste of how awesome the music by Lucifer is, you can stream all of their albums on Spotify, or watch all of their breathtaking videos on YouTube including Dreamer, California Son, Bring Me His Head, Leather Demon, Midnight Phantom, their cover versions for The Rattles’ Devil’s On The Loose and Angel Witch’s Loser, and enjoy several amazing concerts like their ass-kicking performances at the Crossroads Festival in Bonn, Germany in 2018 and at Rockpalast in 2018 and in 2019.

Before forming Lucifer, Johanna could be seen in several distinct bands and projects. She was the vocalist for German Symphonic Black Metal band Cryogenic, with whom she recorded their 1996 demo and the 1998 album Celephais; sang for German Black Metal horde Dies Ater on their 1999 album Reign of Tempests, from 1999; formed the Heavy/Doom Metal/Rock band The Oath with her friends Vincent Wager and Linnéa Olsson in 2012, her last band before Lucifer, having recorded their self-titled full-length album in 2014; was part of the Electronic Indie Pop band Informer along with Rayshele Teige, a former employee of Century Media in the United States, in 2010; and was part of Swedish Melodic Black Metal unity Vinterkrig from 1996 until 1997, having recorded with them the demo Härskare över stjärnorna och mina drömmar (which was just released earlier this year).

Not only that, you can also find our beloved vocalist as a guest musician in different bands and projects through the years, those being the female vocals for the songs Marie Louise and Black Wedding, from the 1996 album Leviathan by a German Death Metal band called Ferox; vocals on the songs Now Howls the Beast and Psychic Visions, from the 2017 album Inside the Skull by American Doom Metal act Beastmaker; and vocals on the song Queen Among Rats, from the 2009 album Privilegivm, and on the cover version for Alice In Chains’ hit Them Bones, from the 2010 EP Them Bones / This Inner Soil, both by German Black/Gothic Rock/Metal band Secrets of the Moon. Not only that, Johanna was also the designer, producer and art director in all of the Lucifer’s albums, proving how talented she is. When asked if all her past experiences with the bands that came before Lucifer had an impact on the way she handles the band, she said that she certainly learned that she’s not putting up with ego bullshit and phoniness anymore, and that with Lucifer it’s all about the passion of creating music and enjoying the ride.

Regarding her idols and influences in rock and metal music, Johanna always lists some of the best, most classic vocalists and performers you can think of, including Ozzy Osbourne, Robert Plant, Ann Wilson, Stevie Nicks and Patti Smith, also saying that she listens to a lot of 70’s classic Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and early Heavy Metal, and that fictional horror, real life horror and the horror in one’s head also have a huge influence in her lyrics. Furthermore, in one of her interviews she was asked to list ten albums which she feels don’t get the proper attention from the media and the fans, and her list was very diverse, including Hard Attack by Dust, Bloodrock U.S.A. by Bloodrock, the self-titled album by Starz, Electric Jewels by April Wine, Straight Up by Badfinger, the self-titled album by Bob Seger, the self-titled album by Journey, Special Forces by 38 Special, Year of The Cat by Al Stuart, and Lucifer III by “you know who”. Johanna also mentioned that Lucifer do not have a specific formula or concept behind their albums, that they simply think of what kind of songs would make people excited, what makes them feel good, and hope that the band doesn’t lose quality or doesn’t get stale with every release.

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In terms of her life on the road with Lucifer, Johanna mentioned that she has already performed hundreds of shows with the band and that each one of those are important in their own way, saying the band plays the same way in front of 20 people in some village or at Helffest in front of over 7,000 people. In addition, when it comes to organizing their setlist, she said that they usually like to start off the set with a mid tempo number to get into the groove and end the set in some sort of sonic eruption, never putting two songs of the same kind in a row (such as two ballads, for example), maintaining an interesting flow to keep the attention of the audience. She also shared an interesting story that happened on the road, when guitarist Martin Nordin ended up playing ping pong with Ace Frehley on the Kiss Kruise where Lucifer played three sets, and also mentioned she would love to play in places such as Australia, New Zealand and South America.

As a prominent woman in the world of rock and metal music, Johanna believes you have to have a little bit of a thick skin if you’re a woman due to the fact the scene has always been a male-dominated one, saying that things got a little better in recent years compared to when she was a teenager as now we can see a lot more bands with girls, but at the same time there are still weird expressions like “female-fronted”. Johana strongly believes gender shouldn’t be a genre, also commenting about how deep that’s within our culture as you get treated differently as a woman in obvious ways, but also in really subtle ways. Johanna also pointed to the fact that there are still too many sexist and nasty comments on social media whenever a woman is part of a rock or metal band, but that fortunately that’s changing. “I felt it necessary for the first time to post, ‘if you’re a homophobe, you’re a sexist, racist, you are not welcome here.’ If you feel like you have to burn your Lucifer album now, please do so. I don’t care. That post went around quite a lot. A lot of people were applauding it, but then there was also all kinds of people going, ‘you suck anyways.’ Because I’m against sexism, racism, and homophobia? I mean, what side are you on then. I’m really shocked at how much racism is out there. But luckily that’s getting talked about too. We’re still a little bit in the middle ages, unfortunately. It can’t go fast enough.”

When asked about the metal scene in her hometown Berlin versus her current home Stockholm, Johanna mentioned that there isn’t a huge difference between those places as the rock and metal community kind of networks around the world, as people in New York, Berlin, Stockholm, London or any other city in the world are connected and know each other through social media, making it a little bit more globalized and organized. She said though that although she used to go out and DJ quite often in Berlin, she doesn’t do that much anymore in Stockholm not because there aren’t enough clubs or because the scene is not big in Sweden, but mainly due to her busy touring schedule as she feels happier with the quietness of her home nowadays after so many weeks on the road. She still misses her DJ years, though, when she used to run a monthly old school Heavy Metal party at the Kill ‘Em All Club in Berlin, which by the way she started together with the same Vincent Wager from The Oath.

Having founded Riding Reaper Records in 2020 alongside her husband and bandmate Nicke Andersson, Johanna commented that some of her advantages of making music today are her wisdom and experience gathered through the years, but also saying that she can’t really compare it to the music industry in the 90’s when she started because she was only part of the underground music scene as a musician. Also, she considers streaming services like Spotify and any social media as necessary evils because they allow the band to stay closely connected to their fanbase and to feel the pulse of what’s up. That connection was actually very important for Lucifer during the pandemic, as Johanna and the boys also had to stay home in isolation for a long period of time without playing any concerts. She mentioned the sales were pretty good, though, probably due to the fact people had more time to listen to music at their homes.

Lastly, when asked about what she considers the most amazing thing in her life, she answered that musically it’s having met Nicke and marrying him because “he is the perfect partner in crime when it comes to music,” also saying that it’s a luxury that they can do what they love the most together, which is recording music and playing live. And if you want to know more about Johanna and her incendiary band Lucifer, there are countless video interviews online such as this one to Metal Insider’s Newsroom, where she talks about Lucifer’s overall sound and other nice-to-know topics; this one where Johanna and Nicke pick the best albums from 1975; this one to Doomed & Stoned in 2018; the ‘How Well Do You Know Your Bandmate’ for Metal Injection; and this one with Darren Paltrowitz (host of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast) where she talks about the influence of Glenn Danzig, getting through the Coronavirus pandemic, future plans and more. As you can see, there’s no reason not to fall in love for Johanna and her Lucifer, succumbing to the dark side to the sound of her unique voice and charisma.

Johanna Sadonis’ Official Instagram
Lucifer’s Official Facebook page
Lucifer’s Official Instagram
Lucifer’s Official Twitter
Lucifer’s Official YouTube channel

“After my initial love affair with classic rock and heavy metal I got heavily into death, doom and black metal at the age of 16 and sang on a variety of demo cassette tapes of local death and black metal bands in Berlin. I had black hair, black clothes, my whole room was black and I got into magic. I worked at an esoteric book shop after school. I was very serious about this all. My mother thought it was just a phase but look at me, not much has changed!” – Johanna Sadonis

Album Review – Goatchrist / Odes to the Radiant One (2021)

One of UK’s most talented underground entities is ready to mesmerize us all once again with his brand new Kabbalistic Progressive Black Metal album.

One year after the release of the excellent Apotheosis, Leeds, UK-based Experimental/Progressive Black Metal entity Goatchrist returns to action once again with a Kabbalistic Progressive Black Metal album entitled Odes to the Radiant One, a unique listening experience that will keep you hooked until the last minute. The brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist J. Guilherme (or Jacob Guilherme, if you prefer), Goatchrist nailed it once again with Odes to the Radiant One, containing both the experimental tendencies of Pythagoras and an Orthodox Black Metal basis for composition and, therefore, turning the album into a must-listen for fans of the most experimental side of extreme music.

The short and sweet intro Baruch Atta Adonai… warms up our souls for I, the Lawgiver, with Jacob already delivering crisp, piercing riffs and his trademark devilish gnarls, supported by the clean vocals by D. Tann to give the song’s poetic lyrics an extra punch (“I shall be, / Felled before the promised land art reached, / For of my needs and dreams: / I did not them feed.”). In other words, it’s all we want in Progressive Black Metal, whereas in The Emergence of Tiferet from that Qlipa which Envelopes Binah we’re treated to another round of Jacob’s unique words (“Each oneness can be divided into onenesses. / Each single ‘One’ is dependent on other ‘Ones’: / Whether a thought, or whether some force, / Or whether a glare or a stench or a roar, / All possess multiple ‘Ones’!”) amidst a fusion of Melodic Black Metal and progressive and symphonic elements. Guest D. Tann returns with his clean vocals in Proclamations of the Baal Shem Tov, while Jacob smashes his drums and slashes his axe in a very melodic and enfolding display of Black Metal, with its vocal paradox adding tons of feeling to the overall result.

Then ominous organ sounds are the main ingredient in Interlude, generating a whimsical ambience before we face Of the Sephirot (Which Art the Qlippoth), another solid Black Metal creation by Jacob showcasing his trademark growls intertwined with eccentric background sounds in a hybrid of extreme music and metaphysical theories. After such intense composition, eerie keys are quickly joined by blast beats and visceral guitars in Transcending the Boundaries of Ayin, with Jacob growling and gnarling like a demonic entity until the very last second; followed by A People Embattled (or, A Song for Those Who Wrestle with El), a classic Goatchrist song with a modern twist bringing to our ears Jacob’s unique fusion of heavy and melodic sounds, all of course spiced up by his wicked roars in a lesson in Progressive black Metal. In the second to last aria from the album, titled Jacob’s Ladder, Jacob offers more obscure and sluggish sounds by adding elements of Doom Metal such as damned beats to Goatchrist’s core sonority, sounding grim and dark until the very end. Lastly, Jacob brings to our ears Im HaShem Lo Yivneh Bayis, his own metallic rendition to a traditional Jewish song that means “unless the Lord builds the house”, also known as “Shomer Yisrael” or “Guardian Of Israel”, putting an upbeat and vibrant ending to the album.

In summary, in the very detailed and exciting Odes to the Radiant One, which is available for a full listen on YouTube, Jacob and his Goatchrist continue to explore the Kabbalah and its importance in Jewish mysticism in a very entertaining way without losing the project’s darkened core sound, proving once again how talented Jacob is and how easily he can incorporate non-metal elements to his Experimental and Progressive Black Metal. Hence, don’t forget to pay him a visit on Facebook to keep up to date with all things Goatchrist, and more important than that, to purchase Odes to the Radiant One from his own BandCamp page, showing all your admiration and support to the underground. And may Jacob release more albums like his latest ones in the near future in honor of his own cultural heritage and, of course, in the name of good extreme music.

Best moments of the album: I, the Lawgiver, Proclamations of the Baal Shem Tov and A People Embattled (or, A Song for Those Who Wrestle with El).

Worst moments of the album: Transcending the Boundaries of Ayin.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Baruch Atta Adonai… 0:22
2. I, the Lawgiver 6:32
3. The Emergence of Tiferet from that Qlipa which Envelopes Binah 4:48
4. Proclamations of the Baal Shem Tov 6:56
5. Interlude 1:22
6. Of the Sephirot (Which Art the Qlippoth) 6:22
7. Transcending the Boundaries of Ayin 4:03
8. A People Embattled (or, A Song for Those Who Wrestle with El) 5:14
9. Jacob’s Ladder 4:52
10. Im HaShem Lo Yivneh Bayis 3:48

Band members
J. Guilherme – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
D. Tann – clean vocals on “I, the Lawgiver” and “Proclamations of the Baal Shem Tov”

Metal Chick of the Month – Haydee Irizarry

Blame the witch! Shame the witch! Hang the witch!

As the days are getting shorter and colder in the Northern Hemisphere, let’s warm things up here at The Headbanging Moose this November with the incendiary vocals and performance of our metal lady of the month, the multi-talented Haydee Irizarry, or Haydée Irizarry if you prefer. Vocalist for Melodic Groove/Death Metal act Carnivora, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and composer for Alternative Rock/Metal project Zahra Lux, and vocalist and composer for her own solo project, not to mention her six years as the vocalist for Melodic Death Metal outfit Aversed, Haydee owns a very potent and dynamic voice, delivering a wide range of styles that go from smooth, clean vocals to deep and visceral growls, positioning her as one of the most interesting names of the current American underground scene. Having said that, are you ready to know a little more about Haydee, her bands and projects, her influences, and her passion for all types of music?

Born on February 28, 1995 in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States, but currently residing in Salem, Massachusetts, and of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, Haydee graduated in 2013 from Lincoln Park High School in Chicago and then moved on to study jazz, classical and contemporary music writing and production at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts that same year, where she also became the lead singer for her classmates’ band Aversed. However, before we start talking about her professional career in music, let’s take a step back and go all the way to her childhood years, more specifically to when she was only four years old. At that age, Haydee received a keyboard that ignited her interest in studying and writing songs on the piano, while her grade school was a Lutheran school that introduced hymnals and sight reading to her and prompted her to join choirs at the age of eight, when she realized she had a natural talent and love for singing that was undeniable and she knew she wanted to be a vocalist. Not only a vocalist, but a metal vocalist, as while she remembers her family listened to everything from Redding’s soul to their Latin culture’s salsa when she was a kid in Chicago, she also became enchanted by Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal. When asked what attracted her to the harder stuff, she said metal offered release and salvation as she struggled with her parents’ divorce, an abusive brother and her mental health. “When I was getting started, I really connected to the aggression because of all the things I was feeling at the time,” she explained. “I was feeling a lot of dark, intense things that I didn’t really quite know how to express outside of music.” Then at the age of 16 she joined the Chicago School of Rock so she could perform and develop as a performing frontwoman, having also studied guitar, piano and bass through private teachers, and through that plus her choral experience she achieved many honors and had the ability to play Lollapalooza and many other local festivals in Chicago. She learned pop, rock, jazz, blues, metal and so on, all of which directed her to the Berklee College of Music, as already mentioned.

Since 2017, Haydee has been the voice of American Melodic Groove/Death Metal act Carnivora, with whom she has already recorded three singles, those being Bogdweller, in 2019, Witch City, in 2020, and more recently Hypnogenic, featuring guests Jon Donais (Anthrax, Shadows Fall) and Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall, Act Of Defiance). The band’s guitarist Cody Michaud believes Haydee is helping Carnivora evolve in a more sophisticated, more accessible, less testosterone-fueled direction, helping them transition their sound from Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal to a more groove-oriented Heavy Metal with Death Metal influences. “If you’re a fan of folk music, there’s folk metal, and there’s symphonic metal,” commented Haydee in one of her interviews. “It doesn’t have to be the Cookie Monster screams. It isn’t always aggressive. It can be very beautiful.” She also explained how she ended up becoming the band’s new vocalist a few years ago. “I had met the Carnivora members at an early Aversed gig and we had become friends and performed with each others bands’ many times. They were interested in transitioning their style and believed my vocal skills and personality was compatible and here we are!”

Speaking about Boston, Massachusetts-based Progressive/Melodic Death Metal act Aversed, Haydee was the band’s vocalist from 2015 until September 1, 2021, having recorded with the band their 2016 EP Renewal and the full-length opus Impermanent earlier in 2021, not to mention the live album Abandoned in Charlestown, released in August 2021. You can enjoy Haydee kicking some ass with Aversed in the official videos for the songs Laboratory, Impermanent, and Close My Eyes, or simply click HERE to enjoy the album in its entirety. When asked how she was invited to join Aversed, she said the band had been active since 2009, before she lived in Boston, and as she was attending Berklee College of Music she had met many local metal musicians and bands and had been referred to be their new vocalist and joined them in 2015. In addition, Haydee mentioned that she had studied gutturals before joining them and it proved to be a great transition to practice performing the new technique that she had been developing.

Apart from her time with Carnivora and Aversed, our beloved vocalist has also lent her beautiful voice to an array of distinct bands through the years, with the first ever metal band she was officially in, called Ephemeral Sunrise, being a huge learning experience as she was able to get a taste of where she needed to grow and what the local scene was like. Another amazing project she’s currently involved with is called Zahra Lux, which translates to “beautiful light” or “flower light”, combining classical, rock and blues music to form one heavy and delicate musical experience featuring gorgeous piano lines, soulful vocals and orchestral arrangements. “Before I went down the surprising road of melodic death metal and guttural vocals I had thought that I would strictly be a blues and heavy metal vocalist that would sound more like Evanescence, and other female fronted rock and metal bands,” said Haydee, having already released under her Zahra Lux project the EP’s The Deam (2018) and Rosewater (2020), and more recently the single Say No More, in August this year.

You can also enjoy Heydee’s powerful vocals in other bands and projects, such as Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal band Widows Rite, with whom she recorded the album Volume 1 back in 2018, and Queen Boudicca Metal Opera. Haydee has also been a guest in distinct albums by excellent underground bands, those being vocals on the song Shutter, from the 2020 EP Eulogy by American Gothic/Death/Doom Metal band Autumn’s Ashes; vocals on Per Erebus, from the 2018 album Per Erebus ad Astra by American Blackened Thrash Metal band Graviton; vocals as “The Soldier” on Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster, from the 2018 album Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster by American Power Metal band Helion Prime; and vocals on A Gathering of Storms, from the 2018 album Genetically Engineered to Enslave, by American Death Metal band Solium Fatalis.

As aforementioned, Haydee grew up listening to all kinds of music such as blues, classic rock, classical, and Latin music, but when the music in question is our beloved Heavy Metal her main influences range from Joe Duplantier of Gojira and Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy to all classic metal vocalists such as Dio, Ozzy and Rob Halford. Her first ever record which introduced her to heavy music was Fallen, by Evanescence, when she was eight years old, taking her down the rabbit hole that would eventually lead her to find Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and all of the icons of early metal, also delving into the early punk scene. Nowadays you can find pretty much anything on her playlist including Chelsea Wolfe, Bjork, Black Sabbath and At The Gates, as well as “guilty pleasures” such as Katy Perry, Sia and Lady Gaga, as long as it’s well-written pop music, of course. When asked which three songs would be perfect for someone listening to her for the first time, Haydee mentioned her cover versions for Sia’s Everyday is Christmas and Arch Enemy’s As The Pages Burn, plus Aversed’s Renewal, because they are diverse and represent her as she is now, still growing but slowly establishing a strong voice within the music industry. By the way, if you want to see how wide Haydee’s range can be and how eclectic her taste for music is, you can take a shot at her cover versions for Iron Maiden’s Hallowed Be Thy Name, Alanis Morissette’s Uninvited, Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel, and Prince’s Purple Rain, among several others on her personal YouTube channel.

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Absolutely engaged in the music no matter which band she’s in, Haydee not only has an incendiary voice, but her onstage performance is just as flammable and electrifying, earning her a few unique nicknames including Haydee the Hyena, Metal J.Lo and Metal Selena. “I love the Metal Selena and Metal J.Lo because I like to embrace my culture,” she said, “like wearing my hoops.” Furthermore, she mentioned in one of her interviews the importance of understanding R&B and classical music to become a better metal vocalist. “Both styles have extreme soul and depth that is definitely important in metal music in both style and vocal delivery. Having experienced performing many different songs with different stories and intentions I have a large understanding of what level of emotions, strength, and movements to deliver to any song to make it as effective as it can be. I couldn’t do that if those many styles had not molded my range to be the way it is now as well. Every life and musical experience finds itself in each new performance that you share and it’s really wonderful.”

Regarding touring, Haydee said that she dreams of touring the world with Carnivora and of being able to make a living from her art without having to work a day job. having already played in many small to large stages in a wide variety of local bars and clubs, she would also love to play some major festivals the likes of Maryland Death Fest, NAMM and SWSW, and return to Chicago Open Air, a festival that holds a spot in her heart. “At Chicago Open Air 2017 Aversed and I had performed on the last day alongside acts such as Slayer, Behemoth, and Ozzy Osbourne to name a few. Nearing the end of Ozzy’s set our tour bus crew was giving the band a last call to get on the bus or else it was leaving without us! My phone has been dead and I didn’t know. By the grace of the metal gods I ran into my band mates while I was getting a pretzel and ran back with them. Everyone was there besides our guitarist Sungwoo Jeong. After an awful 10 minutes of frantic calling, searching, and figuring out a way for him to fly back to Boston on his own, we searched the bus one last time and found he’d been asleep the whole time. I had immense luck and Sungwoo cracked us all up and it made one hell of a story.” In addition, her first metal experience as a vocalist was the Iron Maiden vs. Judas Priest show at the Chicago School of Rock in 2011, a huge moment for her because it had really transitioned her from a bedroom performer to a real one, pushing her to keep doing it.

As Carnivora is now a female-fronted metal band, Haydee was asked her opinion about the role of women in the current metal scene. She said that the face of metal is shifting a lot towards women, but the metal community still has a lot to learn and that can be frustrating, mainly because bands with female lead singers often get lumped together even if they’re creating radically different sub-styles, although she’s fine with the label “female-fronted metal”. In addition, she said that as a growing force, women get a lot of attention that may not be given as frequently to an all-male group because there is something different brought to the table that is intriguing. Women have the same depth and aggression as men, and to have an artistic platform to display that (as well as their delicate nature) is a new and amazing thing. The only disadvantage that she sees is the play on sexism and creating sex appeal that purposefully overshadows or interferes with the platform for ones natural talent. “Women work hard to do what they do and they do not need to hide behind sex appeal to be respected for their time, talent, and work. Knowing that and showing that is important,” commented Haydee.

Last but not least, Haydee also provided her comments about things that she learned recording new music during the COVID-19 pandemic, starting by saying how important it was for her to put a strong focus on songwriting, something that we all know cannot be done properly when the musician is on the road most of the time, saying the simplicity of “one-on-one” writing with guitarist Cody Michaud allowed them to present something more refined to the rest of the team. Secondly, she mentioned how hard the entire band worked on the recording process of their demos, saying she pushed herself to knock out vocal takes and stacked harmonies. Then Haydee moved on to talking about their jam sessions, how important it was for them to get back to practicing together as soon as it was safe to meet up, and how tighter their playing got after that, followed by how important it was to release new music during the pandemic even without being able to tour during that time. And last but not least, she mentioned a fun game Carnivora had during the video shoot for Hypnogenic, the first time they had to load in and get together since everything shut down, where each band member had to wear their newest Vans shoes acquired during quarantine and compare them. Let’s say this is indeed a very healthy competition for a group of metalheads eager to get back on the road, and those shoes are beyond awesome for any trip or for a demanding activity like kicking ass on stage, and we cannot wait to see Haydee and Carnivora eating our flesh alive during their upcoming concerts.

Haydee Irizarry’s Official Facebook page
Haydee Irizarry’s Official Instagram
Haydee Irizarry’s Official Twitter
Haydee Irizarry’s Official YouTube channel
Carnivora’s Official Facebook page
Carnivora’s Official Instagram
Carnivora’s Official Twitter
Carnivora’s Official YouTube channel

“The face of metal is shifting a lot towards women and women from all different countries that look so different. It’s awesome to be a part of that change.” – Haydee Irizarry

Album Review – 1914 / Where Fear and Weapons Meet (2021)

Ukraine’s own doom infantry is back into the battlefield with another masterpiece, telling the gruesome tales of World War I, its soldiers’ fate, their death, fear and feats to be never forgotten.

Lviv, Ukraine-based Blackened Death/Doom Metal offensive 1914 continues to reflect the gruesome tales of World War I, its soldiers’ fate, their death, fear and feats to be never forgotten, unleashing upon humanity their superb new opus entitled Where Fear and Weapons Meet, comprised of eleven tracks of pure historic harshness following up to the band’s sophomore album The Blind Leading the Blind and their debut effort Eschatology of War. Unlike their previous works, Where Fear and Weapons Meet is not about death, but about life, as most of the heroes and protagonists in the songs survived war, became heroes and finally returned home, with even the album cover emphasizing this by depicting an injured, shell-shocked and bleeding sole survivor of a shield attack holding his hand out to death, praying in agony, but death does not take him away. Furthermore, the album begins in Serbia and continues on the first track from the prospective of Gavrilo Princip, who assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo and caused the outbreak of World War I, all masterfully embraced by the massive fusion of sludge, death and doom sounds crafted by vocalist Ditmar Kumarberg, guitarists Liam Fessen and Vitalis Winkelhock, bassist Armin von Heinessen and drummer Rusty Potoplacht.

As expected the band kicks things off with their trademark intro War In, this time showcasing the original of the most famous Serbian song of the Great War period, “Tamo Daleko”, setting the stage for 1914 to crush our senses with FN .380 ACP#19074, with Rusty sounding infernal and ruthless on drums while Liam and Vitalis deliver endless electricity and heaviness through their wicked riffage. What a bestial start to the album, I might say, followed by Vimy Ridge (In Memory of Filip Konowal), offering us all another round of their WWI-inspired doomed lyrics growled by Ditmar (“Things didn’t go down as expected / Hill 145, ill-fated Vimy Ridge. / We are entrenched in mud as wild hogs, my 47th Battalion / A small wooded knoll we called “the Pimple” 2 miles in front of us. / We need to capture the machine gun nests, each was heavily defended”) in a demonic display of Ukrainian Sludge, Death and Doom Metal. Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines) describes the terrible events of the Battle of the Messines Ridge during June 7-14, 1917 in Belgium, one of the most insane episodes of the Great War, while musically speaking you better get ready for another multi-layered wall of sounds spearheaded by Rusty’s venomous blast beats and all the symphonic, cinematic background sounds; and continuing their path of doom and devastation we face Don’t Tread on Me (Harlem Hellfighters), where the sound of the guitars by Liam and Vitalis is phenomenal, not to mention the thunderous bass by Armin, whereas featuring Ukrainian country and folk musician, singer and songwriter Sasha Boole, Coward is very unique and distinct form the rest of the album, with the final result being really entertaining.

…And a Cross Now Marks His Place brings forward an amazing and brutal vocal duet between Ditmar and guest Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost), resulting in a lecture in old school Doom Metal that will inspire you to crack your neck headbanging, followed by Corps d’autos-canons-mitrailleuses (A.C.M), where a wicked intro quickly morphs into a Blackened Doom feast showcasing the band’s trademark warlike words (“Hold the line, Minerva will cover us / The Hotchkiss machine gun poured lead in all directions / Send our messages to all boches – We will avenge for the Belgium! / 16 of us were killed in action, / 16 of us in this Galizian sludge / They called home”). In Mit Gott für König und Vaterland we’re treated to five minutes of obscurity, brutality and fear in the form of ass-kicking Doom and Death Metal led by the demented growls by Ditmar; whereas the sound of bagpipes will penetrate deep inside your mind before 1914 come crushing like a war tank in their version for Eric Bogle’s The Green Fields of France (No Man’s Land), which original version can be appreciated HERE, an impressive rendition where Liam and Vitalis are on absolute fire with their unstoppable riffs, not to mention the song’s demonic, hellish ending, flowing into War Out, putting a climatic and stylish conclusion to their sonic battle.

It’s time to head into the battlefield together with the unstoppable troopers of 1914, and in order to do so you can enjoy the album in full on YouTube and on Spotify, follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for tour dates and other nice-to-know information about them, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their austere music, and above all that, purchase your favorite version of the stunning Where Fear and Weapons Meet by clicking HERE. This masterpiece is indeed another heavily intense and deep-reaching output that will grant 1914 even higher appreciation than the five-piece is already credited with, and I must say that after such powerful and bold album the band has gone beyond the underground barrier and can now be considered one of the torchbearers of warlike doom worldwide. In other words, the Great War lives on, mainly thanks to the brilliant job done by the best Ukrainian metal band of all time.

Best moments of the album: Vimy Ridge (In Memory of Filip Konowal), Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines), …And a Cross Now Marks His Place and The Green Fields of France (No Man’s Land, Eric Bogle cover).

Worst moments of the album: Absolutely none.

Released in 2021 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. War In 1:11
2. FN .380 ACP#19074 5:54
3. Vimy Ridge (In Memory of Filip Konowal) 5:11
4. Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines) 7:04
5. Don’t Tread on Me (Harlem Hellfighters) 7:54
6. Coward (ft. Sasha Boole) 2:55
7. …And a Cross Now Marks His Place (ft. Nick Holmes) 7:29
8. Corps d’autos-canons-mitrailleuses (A.C.M) 7:54
9. Mit Gott für König und Vaterland 5:18
10. The Green Fields of France (No Man’s Land, Eric Bogle cover) 10:57
11. War Out 1:40

Band members
2.Division, Infanterie-Regiment Nr.147, Oberleutnant – Ditmar Kumarberg – vocals
37.Division, Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr.73, Wachtmiester – Liam Fessen – guitar
5.Division, Ulanen-Regiment Nr.3, Sergeanten – Vitalis Winkelhock – guitar
9.Division, Grenadier-Regiment Nr.7, Unteroffiziere – Armin von Heinessen – bass
33.Division, 7.Thueringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr.96, Gefreite – Rusty Potoplacht – drums

Guest musician
Nick Holmes – vocals on “…And a Cross Now Marks His Place”
Sasha Boole – vocals on “Coward”

Album Review – Enthrallment / Against The Will To Live – Sky Burial (2021)

Get ready to be smashed by the brand new opus by this old school band formed at the zenith of the Death Metal industry in Bulgaria in times of political and social turbulence.

Brought into being in the fires of Pleven, Bulgaria at the zenith of the Death Metal industry in 1998 in times of political and social turbulence, Brutal Death Metal/Grindcore outfit Enthrallment is back in action with their sixth full-length opus, entitled Against The Will To Live – Sky Burial. Produced by the band’s own drummer Ivo Ivanov and Enthrallment at MRDR Sound Studio in Sofia, Bulgaria and displaying a Stygian cover art by Denumbra Artworks, Against The Will To Live – Sky Burial showcases a precise mix of American and European Death Metal carefully crafted by vocalist Plamen Bakardzhiev, guitarists Vasil Furnigov and Nikola Ognyanov, basisst Rumen Pavlov and drummer Ivo Ivanov, being therefore highly recommended for admirers of the fury and talent of bands such as Suffocation, Entombed and Immolation.

The eerie guitars by Vasil and Nikola kick off the Stygian opening tune Hollow Roots, evolving into a putrid Death Metal feast spearheaded by the crushing drums by Ivo. In other words, what a pulverizing sound spiced up by the gruesome roars by Plamen, and the band continues to hammer their sonic weapons and to smash our cranial skulls in Painting A Bloody Symphony, a straightforward, classic Death Metal extravaganza tailored for fans of bands the likes of Suffocation and Morbid Angel. There’s no time to take a breath as Rumen slams his metallic bass manically in Surgical Masquarade, accompanied by the visceral growls by Plamen and the always brutal riffage by the band’s guitar duo, resulting in another excellent option for heading into the circle pit for some action.

More insanity in the form of Death Metal is offered to our avid ears in Divine Mandolins, with Rumen and Ivo generating a menacing ambience with their infernal kitchen; and get ready for another round of savagery and heaviness in Sacrificial Euthanasia, where Plamen showcases more of his deep guttural roars nonstop, being therefore recommended for some nice and sweet headbanging. Then a massive wall of deadly sounds will hit you hard in the head in Hegemony Of The Weak, where the band brings forward all their fury together with a high dosage of intricacy, whereas like a beast lurking in pitch black darkness, Enthrallment will devour your flesh in Giving Alms To Birds, with Plamen’s hellish roaring being nicely complemented by the song’s background vocalizations. It’s an evil Death Metal composition with hints of classic Doom Metal to properly conclude the album, I might say.

All the violence and hatred blasted by Enthrallment in Against The Will To Live – Sky Burial can be fully appreciated on YouTube, but of course in order to show your support and admiration for underground Bulgarian metal you should purchase a copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as from the Rebirth the Metal Productions’ BandCamp page or Big Cartel. Also, don’t forget to follow the guys from Enthrallment on Facebook to stay up to date with all things surrounding such talented band. In a nutshell, Against The Will To Live – Sky Burial is the ultimate proof why those Bulgarian metallers are still alive after decades on the road, elevating the name of Death Metal in their homeland to a whole new level of destruction, aggression and obscurity.

Best moments of the album: Painting A Bloody Symphony, Sacrificial Euthanasia and Giving Alms To Birds.

Worst moments of the album: Divine Mandolins.

Released in 2021 Rebirth the Metal Productions

Track listing
1. Hollow Roots 4:37
2. Painting A Bloody Symphony 3:20
3. Surgical Masquarade 3:52
4. Divine Mandolins 3:47
5. Sacrificial Euthanasia 3:37
6. Hegemony Of The Weak 3:35
7. Giving Alms To Birds 3:47

Band members
Plamen Bakardzhiev – vocals
Vasil Furnigov – guitar
Nikola Ognyanov – guitar
Rumen Pavlov – bass
Ivo Ivanov – drums

Album Review – KK’s Priest / Sermons of the Sinner (2021)

Are you ready to listen to the sermons of this classic Heavy Metal band of sinners?

Back in January 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was just about to hit us all really hard, Mr. Kenneth Downing, Jr., better known as Judas Priest’s former guitarist KK Downing, announced he would work on brand new music alongside former Judas Priest vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens, guitarist A.J. Mills, bassist Tony Newton and drummer Les Binks (who also played with Judas Priest from 1977 to 1979), later replaced by Sean Elg due to a wrist injury, forming a classic metal band that goes by the name of KK’s Priest. Most probably due to the pandemic, the band’s debut effort Sermons of the Sinner, which was produced and mixed by KK himself together with Tony, and mastered by Ade Emsley (Iron Maiden, Blaze Bayley, Absolva) at Table of Tone Mastering, had to be delayed up until this month, but the wait was totally worth it despite the band’s cheesy name and the album’s even cheesier lyrics, as KK and his henchmen brought forth a solid, old school Heavy Metal album that will certainly please most admirers of KK’s undisputed career.

In the intro Incarnation, a heavy storm, the sound of thunder and an ominous background narration set the stage for the band to kick some serious ass in Hellfire Thunderbolt, where the metallic riffs by KK and A.J. provide Ripper all he needs to stun us all with his infernal roars while Sean dictates the song’s old school pace. This is what I call an pulverizing welcome card by KK’s Priest, whereas in Sermons of the Sinner, even more epic and demonic than its predecessor, Ripper steals the spotlight with a flawless vocal performance supported by the rumbling bass by Tony and the crushing drums by Sean, while KK delivers his trademark fiery solos in a newborn metal classic. Then it’s time for another pure Heavy Metal extravaganza titled Sacerdote y Diablo, with Ripper sounding awesome as usual on vocals while we’re also treated to some epic background elements as a complement to the band’s incendiary sound. And Raise Your Fists is a straightforward Heavy Metal hymn perfect for their upcoming live concerts, presenting a great sync between KK and A.J. supported by the spot-on bass by Tony.

In Brothers of the Road, albeit the lyrics are cheesy as hell they do what they’re supposed to anyway, walking hand in hand with its direct sound that’s not as awesome as the rest of the album, but still very enjoyable. Then a melancholic start is gradually accompanied by the pounding beats by Sean in Metal Through and Through, bringing forward elements from the darkest creations by Black Sabbath with Dio on vocals (when they were called Heaven & Hell), or in other words, it showcases a beautiful Doom Metal vibe; and let’s put the pedal to the metal as KK is on absolute fire in Wild and Free, an in-your-face onrush of heavy and piercing sounds that will put you to bang your head nonstop, led by the visceral, soaring vocals by Ripper. In Hail for the Priest I’m not sure if KK’s trying to send a message to the guys from Judas Priest or simply saying he’s the real Judas Priest; either way, simply forget about their beef and enjoy another solid metal tune where KK once again slashes his axe in great fashion, followed by Return of the Sentinel, another direct mention to Judas Priest (more specifically to their classic song “The Sentinel”) showcasing a great job done on the guitars and bass while Ripper declaims the song’s words with tons of power, resulting in what’s by far the album’s most epic creation.

If you haven’t given Sermons of the Sinner a try yet, you can enjoy it in full on Spotify, and also get to know more about KK’s plans for the future with his new band on Facebook and on Instagram, enjoy all of their videos on YouTube, and grab your copy of the album by clicking HERE. When speaking to KNAC in June this year about Sermons of the Sinner, KK said that he was already working on material for the next album by KK’s Priest, which would be more of a collaboration effort than the first album, and if it’s half as good as Sermons of the Sinner we can rest assured there will be a lot of high-end metal music for us in the near future. I just wish he could change the name of the band to something more creative and unique, but let’s face it, in the end that doesn’t really matter as it’s always about the music, and the music found in Sermons of the Sinner is beyond awesome.

Best moments of the album: Hellfire Thunderbolt, Sermons of the Sinner, Metal Through and Through and Wild and Free.

Worst moments of the album: Brothers of the Road.

Released in 2021 EX1 Records

Track listing
1. Incarnation 0:58
2. Hellfire Thunderbolt 3:49
3. Sermons of the Sinner 5:25
4. Sacerdote y Diablo 5:35
5. Raise Your Fists 4:10
6. Brothers of the Road 3:22
7. Metal Through and Through 8:13
8. Wild and Free 4:15
9. Hail for the Priest 5:44
10. Return of the Sentinel 8:59

Band members
Tim “Ripper” Owens – vocals
KK Downing – guitars
A.J. Mills – guitars
Tony Newton – bass
Sean Elg – drums

Album Review – Antim Sanskar / Antim Sanskar (2021)

An international outfit formed of members from India, Austria and the UK is ready to bring doom to us all with their heavy and dense new album.

What started back in 2019 as a one-man project evolved into an international three-headed beast part Indian, part Austrian and part British that’s ready to crush your damned souls with their undisputed extreme music. I’m talking about Antim Sanskar (referring to the funeral rites in Sikhism, as antim means “final” while sanskar means “rite”), an Atmospheric Doom and Black Metal entity comprised of Sunay Bhat on vocals, Riccardo Veronese on rhythm and lead guitars, and Desderoth on bass, keyboards and drums, who has just released their debut full-length self-titled album. Recorded, mixed and mastered by C.P.P at W.I.E Studio, featuring a minimalist cover art by Sunay Bhat himself, and band logo design and commissioned art design by Dandi Iskander, the album consists of seven tracks embedded with skull-crushing riffs, painful melodies and heartfelt lyrics presented with a blend of clean vocals and harsh growls, dealing with somber themes such as depression, loss, regret and death and, therefore, being highly recommended for admirers of the darkest and most melancholic side of doom.

The cryptic piano notes by Desderoth in the intro Funeral Without Goodbyes will penetrate deep inside your mind before gentle acoustic guitars kick off The Feral Child, earlier released as “Asylum” for Sunay’s solo project Window of Doom. The song has been completely reworked and rereleased, resulting in almost 10 minutes of melancholic Doom Metal presenting deep, visceral gnarls by Sunay beautifully supported by the sluggish beats and ethereal keys by Desderoth, as well as elements from Funeral Doom to make things even more obscure. Changing gears to a more introspective and melodic vibe, Embers of the Ancient Flame offers the listener Sunay’s dark, clean vocals accompanied by the classic piano by Desderoth, evolving into a Melodic Doom Metal extravaganza spiced up by the stunning guitar lines and solos by Riccardo.

Then in the cinematic, instrumental Interlude the music blends majestically with the sound of the storm and the Gregorian chants in the background, setting the tone for Window of Doom, showcasing darkly poetic lyrics declaimed by Sunay (“In her withered bosom / She held a bed of thorns / Yearning to fall asleep, / Lay there forever / Allow the time to fade / Slip into eternal darkness / The only friend she knew / To sink in grief”) while the music offers a fusion of classic Doom Metal and Funeral Doom thanks to the spot-on beats and guitars by Desderoth and Riccardo, respectively. After such intense aria, phantasmagorical keys will crawl under your skin in DRC, exploding into a massive Doom Metal sonority where Riccardo is on fire with his wicked riffs, sounding very unique and disturbing from start to finish; and last but not least, it’s time for the trio to deliver a more infernal version of their doomed sounds in Die, Decay, Disintegrate, with Sunay roaring in a deeper and more demonic way while the guitars by Riccardo sound utterly metallic.

In case you’re curious to see how the collaboration between India, Austria and the UK resulted in first-class Atmospheric Doom and Black Metal, you can enjoy the album in its entirety on YouTube, but of course in order to provide your utmost support to the guys from Antim Sanskar go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on Instagram, and purchase a copy of their newborn opus from their own BandCamp page (and don’t forget to visit their online merch store as there’s a lot of cool stuff there waiting for you). In a nutshell, the music crafted by Sunay, Riccardo and Desderoth in Antim Sanskar is truly unique and captivating, proving once again that good metal music has no boundaries, and leaving us eager for the next step in their short career in our world of death and doom.

Best moments of the album: The Feral Child and Window of Doom.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Funeral Without Goodbyes 2:56
2. The Feral Child 9:51
3. Embers of the Ancient Flame 7:49
4. Interlude 2:48
5. Window of Doom 8:12
6. DRC 6:01
7. Die, Decay, Disintegrate 4:54

Band members
Sunay Bhat – vocals
Riccardo Veronese – rhythm and lead guitars
Desderoth – bass, keyboards, drums

Album Review – Skverna Liniya / In a Garland of Wax (2021)

Behold the debut full-length album by this uncanny Russian Progressive and Atmospheric Black Metal entity, representing the breakdown of the worldview, spiritual torments and the path of self-destruction.

Forged in the fires of Voronezh, a city on the Voronezh River in southwestern Russia, Progressive/Atmospheric Black Metal entity Skverna Liniya (or Скверна Линия, which translates from Russian as something like “dirty line”) is set to unleash upon humanity their debut full-length album In a Garland of Wax (or В венке из воска), following up on their 2020 EP Snowfall. Mixed and mastered by Mikhail Kurochkin and displaying a stylish artwork by innersys32, In a Garland of Wax is based on the lyrics of Boris Poplavsky (1903-1935), a Russian poet in exile whose work was focused on the soul’s withering and searching in a hostile environment, loneliness and fear in coming into contact with reality. Representing the breakdown of the worldview, spiritual torments and the path of self-destruction, the album is a must-listen for all admirers of atmospheric and extreme music, carefully brought into being by multi-instrumentalists Sergey Chirkov and Andrey Pospelov supported by guest musicians Roman Graver on harsh vocals, Konstantin Bers on clean vocals and Ivan Salo on drums.

The Rustle of Smoldering Life (Шорох тлеющей жизни) sounds and feels atmospheric and enfolding from the very first note, with Ivan and Roman kicking some ass with their respective beats and roars, therefore providing Sergey and Andrey all they need to thrive with their riffage (not to mention the song’s ethereal finale), whereas How Cold It Is. The Empty Soul Keeps Silence… (Как холодно. Молчит душа пустая…) already begins in full force with Roman screaming rabidly nonstop while the strident, piercing riffs by the band’s guitar duo add a touch of progressiveness to the music, resulting in a modern-day Black Metal extravaganza spiced up by the phantasmagorical clean vocals by Konstantin. Then get ready for over seven minutes of first-class Atmospheric Black Metal made in Russia in Green Horror (Зеленый ужас), showcasing a somber ambience to the sound of the crisp guitars by Sergey and Andrey while Roman roars manically for our total delight. The Sunset Blazed O’er The Madhouse… (Пылал закат над сумасшедшим домом…) brings forward sheer devastation and progressiveness, with Ivan sounding infuriated behind his drums accompanied by the thunderous bass punches by Sergey, flowing into an instrumental and utterly atmospheric Interlude (Интерлюдия) that will captivate our senses before the band crushes our souls one last time with the instrumental aria titled In Forgotten Wide Spaces (На забытых просторах), where the keys by Sergey bring a touch of finesse to their Doom Metal-infused sonority.

If you want to know more about this up-and-coming entity hailing from Mother Russia, go check what they’re up to on their official Facebook page, and of course don’t forget to also show your utmost support to the Russian underground by purchasing your copy of In a Garland of Wax from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Beverina Productions’ BandCamp page, from the Casus Belli Musica’s BandCamp page, or from the BMC Productions’ BandCamp page. And after putting your hands on such dense and enfolding album of extreme music, get ready to be dragged into the Stygian realms ruled by Skverna Liniya for all eternity, and have your soul consumed by darkness while you follow this musical one-way path to self-destruction.

Best moments of the album: The Rustle of Smoldering Life and The Sunset Blazed O’er The Madhouse…

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Casus Belli Musica/Beverina Productions

Track listing
1. The Rustle of Smoldering Life (Шорох тлеющей жизни) 6:14
2. How Cold It Is. The Empty Soul Keeps Silence… (Как холодно. Молчит душа пустая…) 4:22
3. Green Horror (Зеленый ужас) 7:30
4. The Sunset Blazed O’er The Madhouse… (Пылал закат над сумасшедшим домом…) 5:55
5. Interlude (Интерлюдия) 2:03
6. In Forgotten Wide Spaces (На забытых просторах) 8:17

Band members
Sergey Chirkov – guitars, bass, keys
Andrey Pospelov – guitars, additional bass on “The Rustle of Smoldering Life”

Guest musicians
Roman Graver – harsh vocals
Konstantin Bers – clean vocals
Ivan Salo – drums