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”

Album Review – Bouquet of Dead Crows / Hemispheres Part 2: Cerebral EP (2021)

The second half of Hemispheres is finally among us, showcasing a more Post-Rock side of one of the most interesting names of the current British scene.

When two become one. That’s the story behind the EP’s Hemispheres Part 1: Celestial, released last year, and Hemispheres Part 2: Cerebral, recently brought into being, which together form a single entity named Hemispheres by Cambridge, UK-based Sci-Fi Alternative Rock and Metal act Bouquet of Dead Crows. Originally written as one album but released in two parts mainly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hemispheres combines big riffs with big melodies and shifting time signatures, with Celestial showcasing a more punkish and upbeats vibe, while Cerebral leans towards Post-Rock. Recorded at the Parlour Studios, produced by Neil Haynes and displaying a classy artwork by Stewart Harris from Stewart Harris Designs, just like the 2020 EP, Cerebral continues to showcase all the talent and attention to detail by vocalist Antoinette Cooper, guitarist Neil Bruce, bassist Karen Gadd and drummer Andrew Coxall, putting a dark and very melodic ending to Hemispheres that will please all fans of our good old rock music.

Neil begins extracting serene notes from his guitar accompanied by the steady beats by Andrew in Idle Thoughts before Antoinette delivers her trademark, smooth vocals for our total delight in a great display of Post-Rock with progressive elements; then putting the pedal to the metal the band fires the dancing and heavy tune Standing at the Precipice, bringing forward their Alternative Metal vein with Neil and Karen being on fire with their respective riffs and bass lines, not to mention how visceral the drums by Andrew sound. In One More Sunrise the band gets back to a more gentle and enfolding sonority, presenting a charming atmosphere crafted by all four band members spearheaded by the stunning vocals by Antoinette, followed by The Longest Road, a fantastic ballad where they invest in a more melancholic sound by blending their core Alternative Rock with Post-Rock nuances, and with Neil doing a beautiful job on the guitar as usual. Lastly, get ready for over nine minutes of classy Rock N’ Roll in the form of Somewhere in the Static, where Antoinette sounds majestic supported by the strident guitars by Neil and the rumbling kitchen by Karen and Andrew, flowing smoothly and flawlessly until the very last second.

The second part of Hemispheres can be better appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course if you want to add Cerebral (and Celestial) to your collection of rock albums you can purchase it from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, or simply grab the full Hemispheres album by clicking HERE or HERE. In addition, don’t forget to give Antoinette, Neil, Karen and Andrew a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their stylish music. Now that Celestial and Cerebral are finally united and Hemispheres has reached its final shape and form, I’m eager to know what’s next in the career of one of the most interesting names of the current British rock scene, and based on what they have already offered us with their latest releases I’m sure their next endeavor will be just as awesome.

Best moments of the album: Standing at the Precipice and Somewhere in the Static.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 German Shepherd Records

Track listing
1. Idle Thoughts 4:20
2. Standing at the Precipice 2:29
3. One More Sunrise 4:17
4. The Longest Road 5:36
5. Somewhere in the Static 9:48

Band members
Antoinette Cooper – vocals
Neil Bruce – guitars
Karen Gadd – bass, backing vocals
Andrew Coxall – drums, synths, programming, backing vocals

Album Review – Cradle of Filth / Existence Is Futile (2021)

A bewitching, fearless nosedive into the abyss masterfully brought into being by UK’s most infernal Extreme Metal institution of all ages.

All hope has disappeared into the void. The flames that flickered on the horizon for so long have reached our backyard, leaving endless fields of black ashes and smoke rising from the ruins of our lands. Yet, why shall we not enjoy a last ferocious soundtrack to our inevitable end? That’s exactly what UK’s own Extreme Metal institution Cradle of Fitlh has to offer us all in Existence Is Futile, their thirteenth studio opus and the follow-up to their critically acclaimed albums Hammer Of The Witches and Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay. Produced by Scott Atkins at Grindstone Studios and displaying another bestial artwork by Arthur Berzinsh, who took inspiration from The Garden of Earthly Delights by Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch, Existence Is Futile is about existential terror, the threat of everything and the end of the world according to the band’s frontman and mastermind Dani Filth, all embraced by the grandiose metal music carefully brought into being by Dani and his henchmen Richard Shaw and Marek “Ashok” Šmerda on the guitars, Daniel Firth on bass, Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka on drums, and newcomer Anabelle Iratni (who also plays with Dani on the Symphonic Gothic/Groove Metal project Devilment) on female vocals, keyboards, lyre and orchestrations.

The classic intro The Fate of the World on Our Shoulders is absolutely obscure, cinematic and epic, opening the gates of hell for the band to kill in Existential Terror, with all background orchestrations making Dani’s demonic gnarls sound even creepier accompanied by the sulfurous guitars by Richard and Ashok. In other words, it’s an imposing Symphonic Black Metal tune to properly kick things off, whereas switching to their trademark fusion of Gothic and Black Metal we’re treated to Necromantic Fantasies, where Anabelle proves why she was chosen to be the band’s new keyboardist delivering crisp, phantasmagorical keys for our absolute delight. The first single of the album, Crawling King Chaos, is a demonic creature in the form of extreme music where the heaviness of the guitars create an awesome paradox with the song’s whimsical keys, not to mention how infernal Marthus sounds on drums as usual; then it’s time to soothe our damned souls to the enfolding interlude Here Comes a Candle… (Infernal Lullaby) before we face five minutes of sheer darkness in the acid Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War, with Dani’s hellish screeches walking hand in hand with Anabelle’s clean vocals and the demolishing kitchen crafted by Daniel and Marthus. And Discourse Between a Man and His Soul is another dark and melancholic tune that matches perfectly with the band’s theatrical vibe, with Daniel bringing tons of heaviness to the overall result.

Cradle of Filth Existence Is Futile Mailorder Edition Box Set

Another massive wall of sounds will hammer your heads mercilessly in the sinister The Dying of the Embers, once again presenting the band’s trademark blast beats infused with more melodic and gothic nuances, followed by the Mephistophelian interlude Ashen Mortality, spearheaded by Anabelle’s somber keys and warming up our senses for How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose?, a beautiful, old school Cradle of Filth composition that will sound amazing if played live. Furthermore, Dani is infernal on vocals as usual while Daniel and Marthus add endless groove and feeling to the music with their respective bass jabs and pounding drums; and a guest narration by Doug Bradley talking about how our rotten society is coming to an end quickly explodes into brutal and melodic Extreme Metal in Suffer Our Dominion, with Anabelle stealing the spotlight one more time. Us, Dark, Invincible, the last song from the regular version of the album, is as imposing and grim as its predecessors, with Dani roaring, growling and screaming nonstop for the delectation of all his fanbase while the band’s guitar duo adds sheer aggressiveness to the overall result. Lastly, if you go for the digital and deluxe edition of the album you’ll be treated to two amazing bonus tracks Sisters of the Mist and Unleash the Hellion, both extreme and demented, with Marthus smashing his drums ferociously until the very last second.

“Existence Is Futile is the apocalyptic conclusion of three years of Cradle of Filth’s world touring and is definitely our most severe album to date, reveling in existential dread, the fear of the unknown, the uncertainty of fate in a yawning cosmos and the meaninglessness of life also being the search for life’s meaning”, commented Dani about the band’s new album, also saying that “heavy stuff indeed and as a wise man was allegedly recently heard to say ‘The inevitable heat-death of the universe and subsequent closure of time and space itself, could have no better soundtrack than this album’.” If you want to join the almighty Cradle of Filth in their quest for extreme music and add Existence Is Futile to your apocalyptic collection, you can follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other sorts of witchcraft, and purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE, including the stunning mailorder edition box set limited to 650 copies worldwide containing the digipack and the silver double LP version of the album, buttons, a flag, a necklace, a lyrics sheet and an alternate cover. A bewitching, fearless nosedive into the abyss, Existence Is Futile is the perfect album for these most imperfect of times, and if the world comes to an end before their next opus is unleashed upon humanity at least we’ll enjoy our afterlife knowing their ultimate howl was indeed a beast of an album.

Best moments of the album: Crawling King Chaos, Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War, The Dying of the Embers and How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose?

Worst moments of the album: Necromantic Fantasies.

Released in 2021 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Fate of the World on Our Shoulders 1:37
2. Existential Terror 6:17
3. Necromantic Fantasies 5:40
4. Crawling King Chaos 5:27
5. Here Comes a Candle… (Infernal Lullaby) 1:28
6. Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War 5:21
7. Discourse Between a Man and His Soul 5:30
8. The Dying of the Embers 6:08
9. Ashen Mortality 1:50
10. How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose? 4:34
11. Suffer Our Dominion 6:22
12. Us, Dark, Invincible 6:26

Digital/Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
13. Sisters of the Mist 7:14
14. Unleash the Hellion 6:23

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Anabelle Iratni – female vocals, keyboards, lyre, orchestrations
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums, keyboards, orchestrations

Guest musician
Doug Bradley – narration on “Suffer Our Dominion” and “Sisters of the Mist”

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 – Carcass / Torn Arteries (2021)

It’s time to wake up once again and smell the bloody and melodic new album by one of the most important bands in the history of extreme music.

If you have a craving for bloody, raw Extreme Metal, get ready to be stunned by Torn Arteries, the brand new opus by Liverpool, UK-based Grindcore masters Carcass, unleashing hell, violence and gore upon us all mere mortals. Recorded at Ghost Ward Studio and The Stationhouse, mixed at Ghost Ward Studio, mastered at Fascination Street Studios and featuring a beautiful artwork by Polish artist Zbigniew Bielak, Torn Arteries is not only the band’s seventh studio album, but their first in eight years since the majestic Surgical Steel, released in 2013, and the wait was absolutely worth it as vocalist and bassist Jeff Walker, guitarist Bill Steer and drummer Daniel Wilding are on fire from start to finish, showcasing all their refined skills while blending the aggressiveness of extreme music with their trademark melody and visceral lyrics.

Daniel kicks off their splatter show with the title-track Torn Arteries, with Jeff’s sick gnarls sounding better than ever for our total delight. What a pulverizing start to the album I might say, not to mention the demented riffs and solos by Bill, and it’s time to crack your neck headbanging to Dance of IXTAB (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No.1 in B), less violent but extremely melodic and sharp with Bill stealing the spotlight with his unmatched riffage, whereas a wicked guitar solo ignites another Melodic Death Metal and Grindcore extravaganza titled Eleanor Rigor Mortis, accompanied by the always raw and vile growling by Jeff while Daniel’s drums dictate the song’s old school pace. Then we have Under the Scalpel Blade, the only song to feature in their 2020 EP Despicable (and we already know how infernal this tune is), while more of their putrid, acid metal music is brought into being in The Devil Rides Out, again proving why they’re a reference in both Melodic Death Metal and Grindcore, with Bill’s riffs and solos being awesome as usual.

Carcass Torn Arteries Limited Box Set

As heavy and aggressive as its predecessors, Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited is a fulminating tune where Jeff is not only bestial on vocals but his bass also sounds hellish, being the perfect option for banging your head like a maniac together with the band throughout its almost 10 minutes where savagery and harmony collide in a vicious way, therefore offering our ears a unique metal voyage. The groovy beats by Daniel once again ignite a Grindcore attack entitled Kelly’s Meat Emporium, with Jeff and Bill being in absolute sync with their respective bass lines and riffs, inviting us all to slam into the circle pit, whereas in In God We Trust a sinister start quickly evolves into a rhythmic and heavy-as-hell sound spearheaded by Daniel’s classy drums, all spiced up by Bill’s undisputed, sharp solos. Then paying homage to themselves, the trio blasts the headbanging tune Wake Up and Smell the Carcass / Caveat Emptor, showcasing another awesome guitar job by Bill while Jeff continues to haunt our souls with his demonic gnarls. And their last breath of insanity and gore comes in the form of The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing, where Jeff, Bill and Daniel smash their sonic weapons in great fashion offering us all another solid tune to close such austere and melodic album.

As Carcass are not only an awesome band but also a group of very nice gentlemen, they’ve made the full album available on both YouTube and Spotify for our vulgar delectation, but of course let’s support the masters of Melodic Death Metal and Grindcore by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and by purchasing a copy of their bloodthirsty new album from Nuclear Blast by clicking HERE or HERE, and if I were you I would go for the sick Torn Arteries boxset limited to 2,000 worldwide, including the album on CD and veggie splatter vinyl, a 24-page booklet, and a porcelain plate with a stainless steel fork and knife dinnerware set. It’s time to wake up and smell the carcass to the sound of Torn Arteries, knowing that as long as Carcass remain active, their smell will continue to be a thrilling fusion of metal music, blood, speed and violence.

Best moments of the album: Torn Arteries, Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited and Kelly’s Meat Emporium.

Worst moments of the album: Dance of IXTAB (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No.1 in B).

Released in 2021 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Torn Arteries 4:00
2. Dance of IXTAB (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No.1 in B) 4:29
3. Eleanor Rigor Mortis 4:14
4. Under the Scalpel Blade 3:56
5. The Devil Rides Out 5:22
6. Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited 9:42
7. Kelly’s Meat Emporium 3:24
8. In God We Trust 3:57
9. Wake Up and Smell the Carcass / Caveat Emptor 4:36
10. The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing 5:20

Japanese Edition bonus track
11. NWOBHEAD 3:03

Band members
Jeff Walker – vocals, bass
Bill Steer – guitars, backing vocals
Daniel Wilding – drums

Guest musician
Tom Draper – guitars (live)
Per Wiberg – organ, piano
Fredrik Klingwall – keyboards

Album Review – Sepulchre by the Sea / Ratiocination EP (2021)

Bristol, UK’s own Atmospheric Black Metal one-man army returns with a classy new EP inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s famous Ratiocinations detective stories.

3.0rating

sepulchre-by-the-sea-ratiocination-ep-2021Less than one year after the release of the full-length opus Conqueror Worm, the talented Bristol, UK-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ashley Shannon and his Atmospheric Black Metal alter-ego Sepulchre by the Sea are back in action with a brand new EP, entitled Ratiocinations. Recorded during the winter lockdown and inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s famous Ratiocinations detective stories, this 26-minute EP brings to our avid ears another round of the dense, dark and absolutely captivating sound carefully crafted by Ash, keeping the gears of Sepulchre by the Sea turning smoothly and providing us a very good indication of the path that the project will follow with its upcoming releases.

A cinematic intro warms up the listener for the darkness that’s about to explode in Ghost of the Departed, with Ash screaming like a demonic entity nonstop while he extracts razor-edged riffs from his guitar at the same time. Put differently, this is classic Atmospheric Back Metal made in the UK, flowing smoothly until its Stygian finale; and Ash fires another dense and incendiary tune titled Beast Made Flesh, presenting elements of Scandinavian Black Metal added to its core. Moreover, Ash is simply on fire with his blast beats, mayhemic riffage and infernal growling, resulting in a more obscure and heavier sound than in the opening track. Lastly, get ready for 12 minutes of undisputed Atmospheric Black Metal in the form of the title-track Ratiocinations, with a gentle intro morphing into a demented feast of blast beats and sick guitar lines by Ash. It’s by far one of his strongest and most detailed creations to date, a multi-layered aria of darkness sounding like three or four songs in one due to all of its unique passages, breaks and variations, therefore putting a climatic ending to the EP.

sepulchre-by-the-sea-logo-2021Ash and his Sepulchre by the Sea are waiting for you on Facebook and on Instagram (and I’m sure he’ll love to hear what you have to say about his music), and don’t forget to also stream all of his first-class creations on Spotify and, above all that, to purchase Ratiocinations from his own BandCamp page or by clicking HERE. It’s always a pleasure seeing different bands and projects drawing inspiration from such important writers and poets the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, and in the case of Ash and Sepulchre by the Sea we can already say it’s getting harder and harder to identify if it’s a metal band inspired by Poe’s undisputed work or if it’s Poe’s poetry turned into top-of-the-line metal music, proving how talented Ash is and, consequently, leaving us eager for another round of his atmospheric creations in the near future.

Best moments of the album: Ratiocinations.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing   
1. Ghost of the Departed 8:24
2. Beast Made Flesh 5:45
3. Ratiocinations 12:00

Band members
Ashley Shannon – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Iron Maiden / Senjutsu (2021)

Behold another masterpiece by the one and only Iron Maiden with its 82 minutes of tactics, strategy, war, resilience and determination in the form of majestic Heavy Metal.

5.0rating

iron-maiden-senjutsu-2021“Have you seen the writing on the wall?”

The wait is finally over. After nearly six years, Senjutsu (or 戦術 in Japanese, loosely translated as “tactics and strategy”), the seventeenth studio album by British Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden, has finally seen the light of day, and let me tell you each second waiting for such masterpiece was absolutely worth it. Marking the longest gap between two Iron Maiden studio albums following The Book of Souls from 2015, Senjutsu is also the band’s second double album, again using their original logotype (with the extended letters R, M and N) like in The Book of Souls, their first studio album since their 1984 cult album Powerslave to have no songwriting contributions from Dave Murray in any way, and the first since their 1998 opus Virtual XI to feature multiple songs written by Steve Harris alone. Once again recorded at Studios Guillaume Tell in Paris, produced by Kevin Shirley, co-produced by Steve Harris, and displaying a formidable samurai version of our beloved Eddie on the artwork designed by Mark Wilkinson (with the name of the album rendered on the right side of the cover art by the actual vertical Japanese spelling of “senjutsu” and on the left side by a font reminiscent of Japanese characters), Senjutsu takes the band back to the darker and edgier sound from albums the likes of The X-Factor, A Matter of Life and Death, The Final Frontier and The Book of Souls, showcasing another brilliant work done by the unstoppable Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers and Nicko McBrain.

Traditional Japanese drums ignite the obscure and introspective title-track Senjutsu, offering us Maidenmaniacs over eight minutes of epicness to properly kick things off with Bruce already mesmerizing us all with his unique voice. Moreover, I love how his vocals walk hand in hand with the guitars by Dave, Adrian and Janick, not to mention the song’s ritualistic vibe (similar to what they did in their previous album with “If Eternity Should Fail”), followed by the already known tune Stratego with its lyrics full of metaphors about how hard it is for anyone to face their own lives (“How do you read a madman’s mind / Teach me the art of war / For I shall bring more / Than you bargained for”), while Nicko and Steve take care of that amazing galloping sound that became the band’s trademark, not to mention the song’s stunning guitar solos. Then we have The Writing on the Wall, the first single of the album which you might have probably listened to countless times already, where a country and southern vibe together with its catchy-as-hell chorus declaimed by Bruce (“Have you seen the writing on the wall / Have you seen that writing / Can you see the riders on the storm / Can you see them riding / Can you see them riding… Riding next to you”) turn it into the perfect option for hitting the road with your loved ones.

Lost in a Lost World brings forward another sinister intro to the sound of acoustic guitars that feels like it was taken from one of Bruce’s solo albums, exploding into a fusion of The X-Factor, Brave New World and A Matter of Life and Death with a lot of elements from Progressive Rock and Metal added to their core sonority, and with Steve’s bass lines being superb as usual, punching you right in your face, whereas back to a heavier sound we’re treated to the mid-tempo, rockin’ feast titled Days of Future Past, again blending classic Iron Maiden with Bruce’s solo material and displaying an amazing job done by the band’s guitar triumvirate accompanied by the pounding drums by an inspired Nicko. Needless to say, it will sound amazing if added to their live performances. Then beginning in a similar way as The Final Frontier’s “The Talisman”, The Time Machine presents a more cadenced pace with the background keys by Steve complementing the sharp work by the guitar boys, evolving into a sick galloping and diverse extravaganza halfway through it; and the sound of the ocean brings comfort to our hearts before Iron Maiden once again hypnotize us all in Darkest Hour, a somber ballad in the vein of A Matter of Life and Death’s “Out of the Shadows” but with a stronger vibe, all spiced up by their undisputed, soulful guitar solos.

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Iron Maiden Senjutsu Super Deluxe Boxset

The last batch of songs from Senjutsu was entirely written by Steve Harris, and let me tell you it’s a flawless lesson in rock and metal music, starting with his undisputed bass lines in Death of the Celts, being gradually joined by Nicko and the rest of the crew. What a bold, multi-layered metal voyage by the band, overflowing epicness, progressiveness and electricity nonstop, spearheaded by the rumbling kitchen by Steve and Nicko, of course. And you better get ready for over 12 minutes of majestic Heavy Metal in the form of The Parchment, once again beginning in a serene, cryptic manner and evolving into a very progressive mid-tempo sound. Bruce’s vocals are utterly imposing and epic from start to finish, with Dave, Janick and Adrian being on total fire with their stringed axes. And lastly, Hell on Earth is a song that gave me goosebumps from the very first second, as soon as I started listening to it, feeling like “The Aftermath” from The X-Factor but at the same time a lot more intricate and powerful, with Steve and Nicko taking the lead while Dave, Adrian and Janick deliver sheer melody through their incendiary riffs, providing Bruce all he needs to flawlessly tell the story proposed in the song until all fades into the unknown in a somber and climatic manner. In other words, thank you, Mr. Steve Harris, for being so awesome.

iron-maiden-2021To be fair, there are no actual words I can choose to describe all the darkness, the energy, the details and the intricacy found in Senjutsu. It’s simply incredible how Iron Maiden managed to deliver such masterpiece without sounding outdated, repetitive or bland after so many decades on the road, leaving us all eager for another studio album, for their next tour, for more Eddies and so on, even knowing all members are in their 60’s already (as a matter of fact, Nicko is almost 70). Not only that, the way they promoted the new album on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube from day one, including the fun ride that was “Belshazzar’s Feast” (a story from the Book of Daniel in the Bible, also known as ​“the story of the writing on the wall”, with the initials WOTW cropping up in a lot of Iron Maiden-related places), was beyond entertaining, proving the band trespassed the barriers of music with Senjutsu. Furthermore, this is also one of those situations where buying the physical album, despite the fact we live in a digital world, is almost mandatory, especially if you go for the Super Deluxe Boxset, or even better, for the FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box, which will deserve its own review as soon as I receive it next week. And now please excuse me, as I need to get back to Senjutsu and listen to it another billion times on a loop for the foreseeable future, just the way it’s supposed to be when the band in question is the almighty Iron Maiden.

Best moments of the album: Senjutsu, Days of Future Past, Death of the Celts, The Parchment and Hell on Earth.

Worst moments of the album: I’m still trying to find one.

Released in 2021 Parlophone/Sanctuary Copyrights/BMG

Track listing 
1. Senjutsu 8:20
2. Stratego 4:59
3. The Writing on the Wall 6:13
4. Lost in a Lost World 9:31
5. Days of Future Past 4:03
6. The Time Machine 7:09
7. Darkest Hour 7:20
8. Death of the Celts 10:20
9. The Parchment 12:39
10. Hell on Earth 11:19

FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box/Super Deluxe Boxset Bonus Disc (Blu-ray)
1.The Writing on the Wall documentary

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass, keyboards
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

Beverage Review – Iron Maiden’s Red ‘N’ Black

The morals of life and the perils of death in the form of a delicious porter style beer full of “the red and the black.”

3.5rating

iron-maiden-beer-red-n-black-logo“The red and the black, people don’t want the truth, look in their eyes and you send them away
The red and the black, fate and hypocrisy, burden’s a heavy load there is no doubt
The red and the black, all out of luck again, how many chances can anyone have
The red and the black, treachery out to win, there in the wrong place and at the wrong time.”

As we’re getting closer and closer to the release of Senjutsu, the seventeenth studio album by the one and only Iron Maiden, let’s have a round of special reviews in celebration of their new album that will see the light of day exactly one month from today, on September 3, starting with our (belated) review of Iron Maiden’s Red ‘N’ Black porter, one of the best creations from the list of Iron Maiden beers so far by the indomitable Bruce Dickinson and Robinsons Brewery. After having tasted the original Trooper Beer, plus the excellent Hallowed and Sun and Steel, I was finally able to grab a few bottles of Red ‘N’ Black and, although I’m not a big fan of dark beers, I must admit this one provided me a very pleasant drinking exercise.

Having its name inspired by one of the best compositions by Iron Maiden after the return of Bruce on vocals over 20 years ago when Brave New World was released, that being The Red And The Black from the majestic The Book Of Souls, Iron Maiden’s Red ‘N’ Black is a modern take on a recipe that dates back to the 1850’s, a time when porter style beer was becoming increasingly popular in Britain. At 6.8% in bottle or 5.8% ABV in cask, Red ‘N’ Black is the first dark beer in the Trooper ranks and the strongest beer in the range to date, showcasing a blend of chocolate and crystal malt that gives this full-bodied beer a roasted malt and caramel backbone, while the Robinsons’ yeast provides hints of both liquorice and honey to create a delicious warming brew. “I like tasting outside the box. Stouts and porters were virgin territory for me so I just went by feel. Martyn and I hope we have created a new take on a classic beer and one which I hope will tickle the taste buds of ale fans in a pleasantly unexpected way,” explained Bruce when the beer was about to be launched.

As I already mentioned, I had a very good time savoring all the 500mL from the Red ‘N’ Black bottle (while of course listening to The Red And The Black) even not being a huge fan of dark beers, and the reason for that is mainly due to the lack of that (way too) strong bitterness that several porters out in the market have. Bruce and Robinsons Brewery managed to turn Red ‘N’ Black into a very easy-drinking beer, and you won’t even notice its 6.8% ABV. Furthermore, this is an amazing option to pair with an aged or fruity cheese, to taste it right after you devour some good old ribs, or to simply enjoy it by itself while watching a football match on TV. I still consider Sun and Steel as my top Iron Maiden beer so far, but as I said that’s due to my personal taste for lighter beers; however, I can also state that Red ‘N’ Black is by far my top dark beer, being very tasteful, smooth and, as mentioned in the official description of the beer, pleasantly warming.

iron-maiden-beer-red-n-blackGood luck trying to find it now, though, as the beer was advertised as a limited edition back when it was originally launched, which means it’s going to be tough finding a bottle for sale anywhere. For instance, you can’t find it using the UK Trooper Finder nor the US Trooper Finder, it’s not available from the Iron Maiden Beer webstore, from the Robinsons Brewery official website, nor from Iron Maiden Beer Canada (where The Headbanging Moose is located). But who knows? Maybe you live in a privileged country or area where there are still a few bottles of Red ‘N’ Black available, right? And if you find at least one bottle, save it for September 3 to celebrate the release of the highly anticipated Senjutsu. Unless you want to go full samurai and drink a pint of Sun and Steel on launch date instead, of course.

Beer details
Style: Porter – English
ABV: 6.8%
From: Robinsons Family Brewers
Country: England, United Kingdom

Album Review – Internal Conflict / A P O R I A (2021)

Over 40 minutes of first-class Metalcore made in the UK, delivering a deep exploration of modern metal whilst reflecting on society and what it is to be human in deeply challenging times.

3.5rating

internal-conflict-aporia-2021Following their 2018 EP Nothing Is Lost and continuing their progressive creativity and innovative take on Heavy Metal, A P O R I A, the sophomore opus by Leicester, England-based Metalcore/Thrash Metal outfit Internal Conflict, is part brutal, part melodic, delivering a deep exploration of modern metal whilst the lyrical themes reflect on society and what it is to be human in deeply challenging times. Mixed and mastered by Neil Hudson at Initiate Audio & Media Studios and displaying a stunning artwork designed by Domonic Sohor, A P O R I A is undoubtedly the band’s strongest effort to date, proving why vocalist Adam Kyle, guitarists Sean Rice and Matt Hall, bassist Dan Laffar and drummer Chris Bentley carved themselves a slot at the renowned Bloodstock Open Air next month.

Chris begins his metal attack from the very firs second in the awesome fusion of Metalcore and Thrash Metal titled Kingdom of Apathy, offering Adam all he needs to roar and scream manically, not to mention his clean vocals are also powerful and full of rage, whereas a serene intro quickly explodes into another feast of heavy riffs, crushing drums and visceral vocals in Paraesthesia, sounding very modern and thrilling and, therefore, resulting in a great option for banging our heads nonstop with the band. The quintet speeds things up a bit and gets heavier-than-hell in Atlas Down, with Adam’s vocals sounding even more demented while Sean and Matt slash their guitars mercilessly, supported by the classic bass lines by Dan; and Bleed the Sky is one more tune inspired by contemporary Metalcore that will please all fans of the genre, with the piercing sound of their guitars bringing endless heaviness to the final result, also showcasing an electrifying paradox between clean and harsh vocals.

Let’s keep cracking our necks headbanging to the pounding beats by Chris in Hollow Heart, also offering our ears those classic atmospheric and melancholic moments from Metalcore, followed by Traitorous, a good song where Internal Conflict keep delivering their trademark sound, but that lacks the violence and punch from its predecessors, sounding a bit repetitive after a while. Nothing that truly harms the album, though. The second to last blast of heavy music by those British metallers comes in the form of The Line, with Sean, Matt and Dan sounding venomous with their stringed weapons, once again generating a dense ambience for Adam to kill with his vile screams; and closing the album it’s time for a six-minute Metalcore journey infused with Thrash, Groove and Heavy Metal elements entitled Kayfabe, with the old school riffage by the band’s guitar duo walking hand in hand with the rhythmic beats by Chris.

internal-conflict-2021You can get to know more about Internal Conflict by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their official YouTube channel for more of their thrilling fusion of modern-day metal music with old school nuances, and above all that, show your support to UK’s underground by purchasing a physical copy of A P O R I A by clicking HERE or by purchasing a digital copy of the album or streaming it on your favorite platform by clicking HERE. If you’re attending Bloodstock Open Air this August, there you have a fantastic chance to witness Internal Conflict kicking some ass on stage playing several songs from A P O R I A live (as well as some of their previous creations), showing you why they can be considered one of the leaders of the Metalcore scene in their homeland and, of course, why we can rest assured we’ll hear a lot more from those British musicians sooner than we can imagine.

Best moments of the album: Kingdom of Apathy, Atlas Down and Kayfabe.

Worst moments of the album: Traitorous.

Released in 2021 PHD

Track listing 
1. Kingdom of Apathy 5:28
2. Paraesthesia 4:12
3. Atlas Down 4:29
4. Bleed the Sky 5:17
5. Hollow Heart 5:02
6. Traitorous 3:56
7. The Line 5:43
8. Kayfabe 6:10

Band members
Adam Kyle – vocals
Sean Rice – lead guitar
Matt Hall – rhythm guitar
Dan Laffar – bass
Chris Bentley – drums

Interview – Alex Mancini (Unknown Refuge)

Do you know what it is to grow up in the digital age of expression? Let’s have a chat with Alex Mancini, the talented vocalist and bassist for UK rockers Unknown Refuge, where he talks about that, the band’s debut album From The Darkness, and a lot more.

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Alex Mancini (Unknown Refuge)

The Headbanging Moose: Thank you for your time in chatting with us today! Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers and talk a little about the idea behind Unknown Refuge?

Alex Mancini: Hi I’m Alex, I’m the lead singer from Unknown refuge, we originally formed in 2016. The idea Unknown Refuge really came from us needing a band name for our first gig, we looked around where we were rehearsing and I saw a sign that said refuge point which made me wonder where mine was and that’s where the idea Unknown Refuge came from.

THM: You guys have just released your debut album From The Darkness. How difficult was it for the band to record it, and what inspired each band member to write the songs from the album?

AM:   It wasn’t too difficult for the band to record it, it was just difficult in terms of organizing a time where we were all available to pit aside a few weeks. The songs primarily stem from things I come across in my own life and I reflect these themes through use of ideas such as mythology, wars and some of my own personal experiences.

THM: I had a very good time enjoying each and every track from the album, but of course everyone has a favorite song and in my case it’s I’m Not A Bad Guy. I just love the pace, the punch and the lyrics from this specific song. What about you guys? Which song or songs from the album are your favorite ones and why?

Alex: My favourite is Journey because it depicts a lot of my life and I really enjoy playing it.

Morgan Deveney (drums): I’d say Battle Hymn  is my favorite I just love the energy behind the riff and the drums.

Jack Tracey (lead guitar): I really like playing Palace Walls, I quite like the breakdown and think it gives it a really good feel.

Harry Skinner (rhythm guitar): I’d say my favorite is To The Light,  I just really enjoy that opening riff.

THM: Who are your main idols in music and in life in general, and how much do they influence the band’s style and lyrical content?

AM:   I’d say we take a lot of influence from old metal bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slash and we try and incorporate that with new ideas to form what we believe is a new style of Hard Rock/Metal.

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Album Review – Unknown Refuge / From The Darkness (2021)

THM: You might be tired already of answering questions about the effect of COVID-19 to the music scene worldwide, with of course a huge negative impact on the shows and events industry. How has this pandemic been to you guys? As you’re a fairly new band, do you think you’re suffering more or less than established bands out there?

AM: We’ve definitely been suffering less than bands that completely rely on that income. Fortunately we have jobs on the side as this isn’t our full time career; however it has presented its own struggles with trying to produce new music and get people interested whilst no gigs are available.

THM: When Unknown Refuge was formed back in 2016, you were still teenagers in your 15’s. How have you guys managed the balance between Unknown Refuge and your studies since the band’s inception? Apart from touring, of course, what else in your student’s life is let’s say hampering your work with the band?

AM: Music is something that we all love deeply and I believe that no matter what we’re doing outside of that we’ll always try and make the time to progress our musical careers as much as we can.

THM: All band members are really young and were pretty much born already in the digital era. However, I would like to know your opinion on illegal downloads, on streaming services such as Spotify versus buying the physical copy of an album, and so on. And taking all that into account, how do you envision the future of the music industry in the coming years?

AM: That’s a tough one, I personally love physical copies of music, I do not agree with illegal streaming or downloading and I think places such as Spotify and streaming services like that are slowly killing the music industry. I know that that’s how people consume content nowadays, I can’t see that changing, but for me personally I think physical copies will always hold a place in my heart as that’s what I was around whilst growing up with rocker parents.

THM: Let’s have some fun now and talk about what could be considered a “dream tour” for Unknown Refuge. If you could choose 2 or 3 bands to tour with for one year, who would those be and why?

AM: I’d say Alter Bridge, Volbeat and Iron Maiden would be absolutely amazing. We are all huge fans of these and to play with bands that we admire so much would be a dream come true.

unknown-refuge

Unknown Refuge

THM: What’s next for Unknown Refuge? Now that you have already released your first album, which is the most important milestone for any band, what else do you have planned for the band in the short and long term?

AM: As soon as we are able we are going to get out and gig as much as possible, beyond that hopefully we will have new material written and be looking at recording a second album soon.

THM: Once again, thanks a lot for your time and for letting us know a little more about Unknown Refuge! Keep on rockin’, and please feel free to send any final messages you want to our readers.

AM: Thank you for having us, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who has supported us so far, and if you haven’t then please checkout our website and Facebook for updates as to what we have coming up!

Links
Unknown Refuge Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify | BandCamp | Big Cartel