Album Review – Unwanted Guest / Grave Metallum (2022)

Influenced by the rock and metal bands he grew up with in the 80’s and 90’s, a British vocalist and multi-instrumentalist invites us all to listen to his first solo album.

Influenced by the rock and metal bands he grew up with in the 80’s and 90’s, coupled with his unique melodic writing style, England-based NWOBHM band Seventh Son guitarist Dave Fox takes on his solo project under the name Unwanted Guest, a dream come true for Dave himself that was only possible due to the timeout taken by Seventh Son during the Covid-19 pandemic (like what happened with most bands). After the release of the project’s 2021 four-track self-titled debut EP (with all proceeds going to UK’s biggest mental health charity Mind), Dave and his Unwanted Guest are back this year with a full-length opus titled Grave Metallum, offering us all 12 amazing tracks of retro-modernist metal music all written, sung, played and produced by Dave himself, and I’m sure you’ll have a very good time enjoying the full album it doesn’t matter if you’re familiar with Dave’s work with Seventh Son or not.

As you hit play the Hard Rock riffs by Dave will kick off the opening tune Autopsy, a solid tune where his Myles Kennedy-like vocals add an extra dosage of electricity to the overall result, and keeping the energy level high it’s time for Dave to slash his guitar in great fashion in Birth Machine Baby, showcasing not only a pleasant pace but also a catchy and exciting chorus (“One hundred years from now none of us will be around / We’re singing ‘welcome to the nation’ / Birth machine baby coming at you maybe / Save all your dying for me”). The song that carries the name of the project, Unwanted Guest, reminds me a lot of some of the best creations by Velvet Revolver and Stone Temple Pilots spiced up by its 70’s-inspired background keys, whereas the title-track Grave Metallum is a song in honor of all of our deceased rock and metal heroes with Dave being on fire with both his riffs and beats while at the same time he explains why rock is hanging by a thread (but will never actually die). Future Not Fear presents another round of his fusion of Progressive Rock and Metal with more straightforward Rock N’ Roll sounds, with Dave once again hypnotizing us all with his Deep Purple-inspired keys, and there’s no sign of slowing down as he keeps fueling our inner rockin’ fire with Blood on the Saw, bringing forward heavy, dirty riffs combined with more of his classic vocals.

Our lone wolf keeps embellishing the airwaves with his piercing riffs and solos in the Rock N’ Roll party Load Shift, also drinking from his beloved 90’s rock and metal fountain, resulting in an awesome option to add to your road trip playlist. Waterfall not only has a chorus that is as catchy as it can be (“Down the waterfall / One last breath to call / Down the waterfall / Into the darkness”), but it could also be played at any radio station anywhere in the world with Dave doing an amazing job armed with his guitar and bass, whereas Only One Chance sounds a bit generic compared to the rest of the album, albeit Dave still showcases his trademark riffs and melodic vocals during the whole song, of course. Back to a more metallic, thrilling mode it’s time for Takin’ All the Money, where it’s impressive how he is capable of sounding like the dynamic duo Scott Weiland and Slash all by himself in a thrilling hybrid of classic Rock N’ Roll with modern-day Hard Rock; and Dave’s rockin’ feast has no time to end, so grab a cold beer and hit the dance floor to the sound of the awesome Brain Shadow, presenting an amazing pace full of groove and feeling with his sharp riffs walking hand in hand with his old school keys. And finally, let’s all bang our freakin’ heads one last time with Dave in Every Part of Me, also blending progressiveness with more modern sounds while also displaying interesting vocal effects.

After listening to Grave Metallum in its entirety, which by the way you can do on Spotify, you’ll feel extremely energized and ready to rock with the multi-talented Dave Fox, who’s waiting for you on Facebook and on Twitter to provide you with news about Unwanted Guest and other nice-to-know details about his career. Furthermore, in order to show him all your support, go grab your copy of Grave Metallum from the project’s BandCamp page, or click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream his music. As opposed to the name of the project, I’m sure Dave and his Unwanted Guest will be a very welcome guest to your collection of rock and metal albums, inspiring this multi-talented British musician to keep kicking some ass armed with his vocals and all instruments in the project’s future releases.

Best moments of the album: Birth Machine Baby, Unwanted Guest, Future Not Fear and Brain Shadow.

Worst moments of the album: Only One Chance.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Autopsy 3:12
2. Birth Machine Baby 4:24
3. Unwanted Guest 4:39
4. Grave Metallum 4:45
5. Future Not Fear 3:38
6. Blood on the Saw 3:25
7. Load Shift 3:13
8. Waterfall 3:53
9. Only One Chance 3:52
10. Takin’ All the Money 2:51
11. Brain Shadow 4:23
12. Every Part of Me 3:56

Band members
Dave Fox – vocals, all instruments

Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/04/2022)

Existence might be futile, but witnessing Cradle of Filth live in Toronto every single time they come to the city is more than essential.

OPENING ACTS: Phantom High and Frayle

I always find it truly impressive how the traffic to get in and out of Toronto during the spring and summer seasons, mainly when the weather is clear and the temperatures are above +20oC, is multiplied by a thousand or more, making it impossible to arrive wherever you have planned on time. That’s the main reason why it took me hours to get to The Opera House this Saturday for the Existence Is Futile Tour with the bands PHANTOM HIGH, FRAYLE and the almighty CRADLE OF FILTH (not to mention American Thrash Metal act Misfire, who are missing part of the tour due to Covid-19 related issues), and because of that I sadly missed most of the awesome concert by Toronto’s own Glamcore/Death Pop/Alternative Metal outfit PHANTOM HIGH. Anyway, the few minutes of their performance I was able to witness were excellent, with their frontwoman Peril Erinyes showcasing all her talent, charisma and passion for what she does. I hope I can see them again in a not-so-distant future as their music and onstage performance are outstanding, and next time I promise I’ll beat traffic (even if that’s humanly impossible).

Band members
Peril Erinyes – vocals
Seven Six – guitars
Greg Shier – guitars
Faraz Jabbari – bass
Joey Prolx – drums

After a (very) quick break it was time for Cleveland, Ohio-based Doom Metal/Occult Rock band FRAYLE to kick some ass onstage with their massive, low-tuned, sluggish sounds, spearheaded by the angelic vocals by their stunning frontwoman Gwyn Strang, who by the way grew up on the east coast of Canada in the province of New Brunswick (which is why she said “I’m home” to the crowd several times during their performance). Playing a mix of songs from their awesome 2020 album 1692 plus a brand new song entitled Treacle & Revenge, from their upcoming album Skin & Sorrow (to be released on July 7), Gwyn and the boys put on a mesmerizing show, with Sean Bilovecky extracting sheer electricity from his guitar while bassist Eric Mzik and drummer Pat Ginley added endless heaviness and groove to the music. Nobody was capable of taking their eyes off Gwyn during their entire set, as not only she was at the same time the personification of good and evil, but her minimalist, delicate vocals and moves were a thing of beauty. There weren’t any mosh pits for obvious reasons, but everyone at The Opera House loved what Frayle had to show us, and Toronto is waiting for Gwyn to “return home” whenever she wants with her whimsical music.

Band members
Gwyn Strang – vocals
Sean Bilovecky – lead guitar
Eric Mzik – bass
Pat Ginley – drums

CRADLE OF FILTH

The last time I saw the unparalleled CRADLE OF FILTH was at the same venue back in 2019, before all this Covid-19 madness hit the world and still with Lindsay Schoolcraft on keyboards, and as you can see from their 2019 setlist only two songs were the same this Saturday, those being Nymphetamine (Fix) and Her Ghost in the Fog, with everything else being either based on their 2021 ass-kicking opus Existence Is Futile, such as Existential Terror, How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose? and Necromantic Fantasies, or some welcome surprises the likes of Nocturnal Supremacy, I Am the Thorn, A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil’s Whore) and Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds). Was it better, the same or worse than their 2019 performance? Well, I don’t like to compare concerts, as I strongly believe each performance has its own taste, its own details and its own energy, but what I can say is that Dani and his horde were as electrifying as expected, inspiring the fans at the venue to slam into the nonstop circle pits (even if you’re on a power mobility scooter) while screaming together with the band in the name of evil.

Most fans of course had an absolute blast with classics such as the aforementioned Nymphetamine (Fix) and the closing song Her Ghost in the Fog, but I might say their new songs Crawling King Chaos and Us, Dark, Invincible sounded simply superb live, proving once again how alive the band is and that we can expect at least a few more decades of pure filth from those devilish metallers. Dani, Ashok, Daniel Firth and Marthus were on fire as usual, but I must mention how powerful the performances by guest guitarist Donny Burbage (of Melodic Death/Folk Metal act Æther Realm) and the gorgeous keyboardist Zoë Marie Federoff (of Symphonic Metal act Catalyst Crime) were as well, translating into an even more incendiary concert by one of the trailblazers of Symphonic Extreme Metal. As a Cradle of Filth fanboy I think they should return to Toronto next week already, but of course I think all fans who attended another memorable concert by Dani and his crew will be more than happy to wait another year or so for the band to come to our beloved city again. The traffic back home was just as bad as when I was going to the concert, but who cares? It’s CRADLE OF FUCKIN’ FILTH, a metal institution that deserves all our admiration, and if next time they come to Toronto I have to walk 40km to get there, so be it.

Setlist
The Fate of the World on Our Shoulders
Existential Terror
Nocturnal Supremacy
Lilith Immaculate
I Am the Thorn
Crawling King Chaos
Nymphetamine (Fix)
A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil’s Whore)
How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose?
Scorched Earth Erotica
Us, Dark, Invincible
Portrait of the Dead Countess
Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds)
Necromantic Fantasies
Her Ghost in the Fog

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Donny Burbage – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Zoë Marie Federoff – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

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Album Review – Cage Fight / Cage Fight (2022)

It’s time to get into a bloodsoaked cage fight to the sound of the thrilling debut album by an up-and-coming London, UK-based Hardcore outfit.

Featuring the stunning French vocalist Rachel Aspe, known for her time with the iconic French Neo-Metal act Eths, and TesseracT guitarist James Monteith, London, England-based Crossover/Hardcore unity Cage Fight have just unleashed upon us mere mortals their debut self-titled effort, one of the most furious records to emerge from the UK in years. The anger and frustration of the band’s debut album is the perfect catharsis for our times, not only showcasing all the talent of the aforementioned Rachel and James together with bassist Jon Reid and drummer Nick Plews, but the artwork itself, a grabbing hand with the Cage Fight logo tattooed on the palm, visually portrays the violent rage at the core of the band’s music. Legitimately tattooed by Rachel, a tattoo artist by trade, the process of creating the image is as impactful as the final artwork itself, giving you a very good idea of how ruthless and austere the album sounds. “I cherish the ability to channel my anger through this outlet. In a world full of uncertainty and frustration this type of music was the only thing I found solace and balance in. These songs have a deep meaning for me and I hope this is something that other people can relate to,” commented the multi-talented Rachel about such outstanding album.

Featuring Jeremy Sylvester, a highly influential and prolific Garage and House producer from the UK, the album begins with a modern, electronic Intro that sets the stage for The Mirror Shattered, a bestial Hardcore tune with Punk Rock elements led by the venomous guitars by James while Rachel roars manically, therefore living up to the legacy of bands such as The Exploited and Ratos de Porão. There’s no time to breathe as Nick keeps hammering his drums in Killer, another excellent composition showcasing a high-octane fusion of Crossover Thrash and Groove Metal where once again James is infernal armed with his axe. Rachel sounds possessed by a demonic entity throughout the entire album, and it couldn’t have been any different than that in the awesome Hope Castrated, a massive, in-your-face Hardcore feast where Jon’s rumbling bass and Nick’s furious beats will make your head tremble, and it’s then time to slam into the pit and raise our horns in the name of rebelliousness and rage in Make A Decision, absolutely fast and furious thanks to another flawless performance by Nick on drums while Rachel showcases her trademark she-demon screams for our total delight. Their Punk Rock vein pulses stronger than ever in Guillotine, with the slashing, piercing riffs by James walking hand in hand with the bass punches by Jon, not to mention Rachel even fires some gruesome, vile Brutal Death Metal screeches.

The MMA entrance-inspired interlude Cage Fight! warms us up for the metal battle entitled Shine Don’t Fade, sounding and feeling pulverizing from the very first second thanks to the dynamic and evil sounds blasted by James, Jon and Nick, perfect for breaking your neck headbanging; whereas in One Minute the quartet plays at the speed of light in a great hybrid of classic Thrash Metal the likes of Anthrax with the more ferocious music by Lamb of God. In Tell Me What Real Is, less visceral but still heavy-as-hell, dense and demonic, Rachel keeps screaming inside our heads while her bandmates extract sheer animosity form their sonic weapons, whereas in Respect Ends there’s absolutely no sign of tiredness by the band, with James once again kicking ass with his riffage while Rachel delivers an insane dosage of animosity through her growls. Then we have Eating Me Alive, featuring guest vocalist Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder), who sadly died on May 11 at the very early age of 41, bringing an extra touch of violence to the overall result by making an awesome vocal duo with Rachel; followed by My Dreams, which starts in a somber manner before exploding into the band’s modern-day Crossover Thrash. Moreover, Rachel leads her henchmen for over six minutes of aggressiveness, dementia and fury. And lastly we’re treated to their cover version for Body Count’s Bitch In The Pit (check the original song HERE), a sensational rendition by Cage Fight with Rachel stealing the spotlight with her enraged, she-wolf roars, turning her into the undisputed “bitch in the pit”.

In a nutshell, Cage Fight more than nailed it with their debut opus, providing us headbangers with a very good reason for raising our horns nonstop and slamming into the circle pit like there’s no tomorrow. Hence, don’t forget to stream the album in full on Spotify, to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates (and believe me, you don’t want to miss their live performances if they take your city by storm), and of course, to purchase your favorite version of such intense album of European Hardcore by clicking HERE. As you might have noticed, Rachel, James, Jon and Nick are waiting for you inside the cage for an ass-kicking metal fight to the sound of their debut opus, but you better be prepared to have your ass kicked in the name of Hardcore and Thrash Metal, of course.

Best moments of the album: The Mirror Shattered, Hope Castrated, Guillotine and Bitch In The Pit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Candlelight Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:25
2. The Mirror Shattered 2:34
3. Killer 3:17
4. Hope Castrated 2:54
5. Make A Decision 3:15
6. Guillotine 2:32
7. Cage Fight! 0:58
8. Shine Don’t Fade 3:15
9. One Minute 4:04
10. Tell Me What Real Is 3:18
11. Respect Ends 3:03
12. Eating Me Alive 3:37
13. My Dreams 6:16
14. Bitch In The Pit (Body Count cover) 3:05

Band members
Rachel Aspe – vocals
James Monteith – guitar
Jon Reid – bass
Nick Plews – drums

Guest musicians
Jeremy Sylvester – samplers on “Intro”
Trevor Strnad – vocals on “Eating Me Alive”

Metal Chick of the Month – Jayn Maiven

So long in fear, I have gazed ghost tears….

It’s time to darken the skies here at The Headbanging Moose in this month of May thanks to the somber and absolutely beautiful music crafted by our metal lady of the month, and I bet you’ll get addicted to her voice after listening to her Stygian creations. Inspired by natured in all her forms, this West Yorkshire, England-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist is known by many under her nom de plume of Darkher, one of the most interesting names of the current folk and doom scene worldwide. I’m talking about Jayn Maiven, a multi-talented woman who devotes her life to dark music for our total delight, and who has a beyond bright future ahead of her and her Darkher as all of her releases are simply awesome.

As I like to say about this type of project, there’s no Jayn Maiven without Darkher and vice-versa, with Darkher representing not only Jayn’s alter-ego but also her view of our world, using her musical creature as a catharsis that can be noticed from her painful and truthful lyrics. Conceived as the sole brainchild and solo project of our unrelenting flame-haired metal diva in 2012, whose fragile elegance lies the creator of a powerfully emotive work, Darkher brings forth an amalgamation of sounds and styles carefully embraced by the project’s trademark fusion of folk and doom music, with her compositions inviting the listener into the mystical ancient world characterized by slowly building storm clouds of guitars and Jayn’s haunting, spine-tinglingly evocative voice.

Having already released her self-titled debut EP in 2013, followed by the 2014 EP The Kingdom Field and the full-length albums Realms, from 2016, and The Buried Storm, released earlier this year, the sound of Darkher has been described as “ghostly transmissions that sound like they were delivered by lost souls in the dead of night”, leading her to support several renowned acts the likes of Robin Guthrie, Dead Meadow, Esben And The Witch, Enslaved and Chelsea Wolfe, and playing in festivals such as Roadburn Festival and Damnation, among others. Creating extraordinarily dark music full of contrasts, including both chilling loneliness and the warmth of hope, Darkher is a derivate of the words “dark” and “her”, showcasing some sort of symbolism from Jayn’s past as she wanted to find a name which she felt better described the direction she had been heading in with her solo career after a decade working with and around other musicians.

Several different guest musicians have already been involved with Jayn in Darkher, such as for example guitarist and bassist Martin Wissenberg, former My Dying Bride drummer Shaun ‘Winter’ Taylor-Steels, drummer Christopher Smith, cellists Ludvig Swärd (Forndom), Arianna Mahsayeh and Melanie Chaplin, violinist Lambert Segura and guitarist Daniel Land. If you want to see the result of the collaboration between our skillful vocalist, guitarist, composer, lyricist and producer with all those distinguished musicians, you can enjoy the official videos on YouTube for Where the Devil Waits (filmed at the stunning location of Muncaster Castle in Cumbria, within its Victorian gardens and grounds), a song of empowerment and light relating to the shadows within that lead to attachment, to what can become destructive; Love’s Sudden Death, a dark, romantic ballad which was heavily inspired by the mood of the ancient landscape as it mirrors the emotions within, being “dramatic, beautiful and sometimes bleak” as mentioned by Jayn herself; Hollow Veil, recorded in Salem Woods in October 2015; as well as Ghost Tears, Immortals, Lament, and The Dawn Brings a Saviour, or you can also enjoy The Buried Storm in its entirety on YouTube, and all of her albums on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to show your support to Jayn and her Darkher by purchasing her releases from her BandCamp page and through her Patreon.

Before forming Darkher, our unstoppable rock and metal diva was a member of Epic Dark Folk band The Steals for several years, having released with them the EP Floodlights, in 2006, and the full-length effort Stactic Kingdom, in 2009, both available on Spotify and on BandCamp. However, that wasn’t the path she actually wanted to follow in her career after a certain time. “Throughout the years I was previously working on tracks for The Steals album and EP, I was in a very sombre state and I needed to make music to lift me out of that state. By the time I was ready to start writing songs again for what would be Darkher, I felt that I needed to symbolically burn what I had in order to begin a new chapter,” commented Jayn in one of her interviews, describing the musical metamorphosis that was happening inside her.

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In addition, her inspirations in music and life in general come from very distinct sources. For instance, she always says that her father has been a huge inspiration to her growing up, with both her parents having encouraged her passion for creating music for many years. “I am mostly inspired by my inner world, emotions and imagination, which I run in parallel to the outer world. Nature and the elements are always with me when I write, and are equally as inspiring for me due to their mood and drama,” said Jayn in one of her interviews, also mentioning that her lyrics are always from her deepest depths, past, future or present, and showcasing a strong fascination for water. “When I walk each day to The Kingdom Field I pass a river, everyday is a different picture, it has its own life force and seemingly personality. Where I live is surrounded by water, I live in the basin of a valley, a hamlet which is surrounded by streams, rivers and a canal all of which have caused flooding. So I think because of this I am deeply respectful of water in its many forms.”

Heavily influenced by mood-based dark music from an early age, and having a father who performed on stage in the 60’s, not only she grew up in a musical house but she has always nurtured a deep passion for the darker exponents of the post punk indie scene. “I was really into bands like the Sex Gang Children, Virgin Prunes and Alien Sex Fiend. I’ve always suffered with a bit of a depression and as a teenager was drawn to dark music and the whole theatrical Goth thing. I loved the textures and atmosphere of guitars,” also saying that at one point she was completely absorbed by the Cocteau Twins and she used to re-play their performance of Pink Orange Red on the TV every night after school. On the other hand, if you think Amalie Bruun’s Danish Black Metal band Myrkur has had any influence on Darkher’s style, being even called “Myrkur for the Folkies”, you’re absolutely wrong. “I’ve only come across her name very recently, I haven’t listened to her music yet, so I’m not sure if there is any thread of similarity,” said our diva.

When asked about her evolution from Realms until The Buried Storm, Jayn said that she sees it as a continuation of her creativity, feeling like it has many similar elements in the instrumentation, though she puts even more emphasis on the vocal harmonies as a feature on her newest album and she believes it leans towards a more cinematic feel. Moreover, the pandemic doesn’t seem to have had a negative impact on her creative process for The Buried Storm. “The effects of the pandemic were actually quite beneficial for me, to be able to take time out from any tour dates and really focus on the writing and recording. I also spent even more time alone, which I found to be very necessary for the writing process,” commented Jayn, and we must all agree with her the whole pandemic has been positive at least for the writing process of not only Darkher but countless other bands out there, who obviously had a lot more time to focus on their creative process with the whole touring thing being on hold for almost two years.

Interested in art and photography, beautiful and inspiring imagery, animals and nature, Jayn tries to spend half of her life outdoors, also nurturing a deep passion for doing videos and photographic imagery, which for her is all part of the creative process. “When I make music I see a lot of visions and imagery, so it’s great to be able to achieve some of that in video form,” said Jayn, which can be easily noticed in the video for Ghost Tears, for example. “The environment that I am surrounded by and the vast landscape is always in my mind when I write as I see music in a very visual way. For this reason I would love to one day try to write for film or TV and I equally feel the presence of many images when I write or produce. The studio walls otherwise would not inspire me to develop the sound and present it in such a way,” complemented our multi-talented artist. And lastly, when asked what the secret is to keep her long flaming hair look so grandiose and beautiful, she simply said there’s no actual secret, just that she never cuts it and therefore it serves her well for hiding behind it. Well, of course we would love to see her face on all of her videos, but the combination of nature and her long, incendiary hair is more than enough to keep us hooked not only on her music, but on her stunning art in general.

Darkher’s Official Facebook page
Darkher’s Official Instagram
Darkher’s Official YouTube channel
Darkher’s Official BandCamp page

“I find it very healing to make music, like a form of meditation.” – Jayn Maiven

Concert Review – Arch Enemy & Behemoth (Rebel, Toronto, ON, 04/25/2022)

A night of rain, insanity, blasphemy and, above all that, first-class Heavy Metal for the delight of thousands of metalheads in Toronto.

OPENING ACTS: Unto Others and Napalm Death

Despite the heavy rain that decided to hit Toronto only a couple of hours before the fantastic tour named The North American Siege 2022 took the city by storm, the venue chosen for such metal attack, the spacious Rebel, was almost packed already when the first band of the night hit the stage exactly at 6:30pm, American Heavy Metal/Gothic Rock act UNTO OTHERS, and let me tell you I feel a little ashamed for not knowing those guys before last night. Promoting their 2021 opus Strength, vocalist and guitarist Gabriel Franco and his henchmen put on a sensational show, with songs such as Give Me to the Night, Summer Lightning and When Will God’s Work Be Done inspiring all fans to dance, slam into the pit, or simply raise their horns in the name of Rock N’ Roll. It was a short and sweet performance by such talented band, and I hope to see them again in Toronto (or anywhere else in the world) in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
Subdivisions (Rush song)
Heroin
Give Me to the Night
No Children Laughing Now
Can You Hear the Rain
Nightfall
Summer Lightning
When Will God’s Work Be Done

Band members
Gabriel Franco – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Sebastian Silva – guitars
Brandon Hill – bass
Colin Vranizan – drums

Right after a bathroom/beer break (not necessarily in this order), it was time for the iconic Barney Greenway and his Grindcore/Death Metal institution NAPALM DEATH to show Toronto what noise is all about for the delight of admirers of the heaviest and most demented side of music who attended the concert. Having released earlier this year the album Resentment Is Always Seismic – A Final Throw of Throes, the band was on absolute fire from start to finish, with Shane Embury and John Cooke hammering their respective bass and guitar mercilessly throughout their entire set. Amidst a hurricane of infernal tunes the likes of Fuck the Factoid, Contagion, Scum and the one-second masterpiece You Suffer, Barney had time to distill his opinion about controversial topics such as illegal immigration, being always of course on the side of the less fortunate. Closing their boisterous setlist, the band smashed our faces with their rendition of Dead Kennedys’ all-time classic Nazi Punks Fuck Off, sending a message of love and peace, and warning us it won’t take long for those four British noisemakers to return to our beloved city.

Setlist
Unchallenged Hate
Fuck the Factoid
Backlash Just Because
Hung
Contagion
Continuing War on Stupidity
Everyday Pox
Invigorating Clutch
Suffer the Children
Breed to Breathe
Scum
Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
You Suffer
Smash a Single Digit
Deceiver
Dead
Nazi Punks Fuck Off (Dead Kennedys cover)

Band members
Mark “Barney” Greenway – vocals
John Cooke – guitars
Shane Embury – bass, backing vocals, noises, effects
Danny Herrera – drums

ARCH ENEMY

Precisely at 8:35pm Sweden’s own Melodic Death Metal army ARCH ENEMY (although we can say the band is now 60% Swedish, 20% American and 20% Canadian) hit the stage and delivered exactly what the crowd wanted, which was a fusion of some of their best classics with the new songs Deceiver, Deceiver, House of Mirrors and Handshake With Hell, from their upcoming album Deceivers (to be released in July), spearheaded by the unstoppable Alissa White-Gluz and, of course, by one of the best guitarists of the Scandinavian metal scene, Mr. Michael Amott. It was clear in their faces how much they missed playing in front of an audience during the pandemic, in special Alissa who always gets very emotional when playing for her Canadian “family”, which translated into sheer adrenaline for our vulgar delectation. As a longtime fan of the band I was obviously more inspired to bang my head to songs such as Ravenous, Dead Bury Their Dead and Nemesis, but I must say their entire performance was awesome. How long will we have to wait to see Alissa and the boys again in Toronto? Massive circle pits like the ones we witnessed yesterday are not created out of silence, you know. We need Arch Enemy!

Setlist
Set Flame to the Night
Deceiver, Deceiver
The World Is Yours
Ravenous
War Eternal
My Apocalypse
House of Mirrors
The Eagle Flies Alone
As the Pages Burn
Handshake With Hell
Dead Bury Their Dead
Nemesis
Fields of Desolation (Outro)
Enter the Machine

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars, backing vocals
Jeff Loomis – lead guitars, backing vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

BEHEMOTH

And at 10:05pm the gates of hell opened once again and the almighty Blackened Death Metal horde BEHEMOTH emerged from the underworld with another flawless and very theatrical performance, darkening the skies of Toronto and putting a huge, devilish smile on the faces of everyone at Rebel (at least on the faces of the ones not wearing masks). Kicking off their demonic concert with one of my favorite Behemoth songs of all time, the incendiary Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer, the multi-talented Nergal, Seth, Orion and Inferno did not disappoint their fans, sounding utterly heavy, dark and blasphemous until the very last second. Their brand new song, entitled Ov My Herculean Exile, from their upcoming (and still untitled) new album, sounded amazing live, but of course there’s nothing like raising our horns in the name of evil to masterpieces such as Ov Fire and the Void, Christians to the Lions, Chant for Eschaton 2000, and the hymn to Satan himself, O Father O Satan O Sun!, proving why Behemoth are one of the best and most obscure bands of the current metal scene. And when the night was over and those Polish blasphemers left the stage, it was time for us Torontonians to keep some of that darkness inside our hearts, face the cold and rainy weather outside again, and return to our lairs waiting for the next time Behemoth come back to crush the infidels in Toronto with their undisputed music.

Setlist
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Wolves ov Siberia
Ov Fire and the Void
Evoe
Christians to the Lions
Bartzabel
Conquer All
Ov My Herculean Exile
Decade of Therion
Slaves Shall Serve
Chant for Eschaton 2000
O Father O Satan O Sun!

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

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Album Review – Alunah / Strange Machine (2022)

Welcome to the “Strange Machine” driven by this unstoppable Hard Rock and Doom Metal entity, showcasing the band in their most diverse yet focused light.

Hailing from Sabbath City, the unstoppable Hard Rock/Doom Metal entity Alunah continues to tread their own path in 2022 with a fantastic new album, titled Strange Machine, following up on their critically acclaimed 2019 opus Violet Hour. Written and rehearsed during the pandemic whilst overcoming numerous personal struggles, recorded at the famous Foel Studio, and displaying a stylish artwork by Mariano Peccinetti, the album shows frontwoman Siân Greenaway, guitarist Matt Noble, bassist Daniel Burchmore and drummer Jake Mason in their most diverse yet focused light, overflowing with groove, blues, psychedelia and ferocity, therefore welcoming us all to the “Strange Machine” driven by such distinguished band.

And you better get ready for a wicked voyage to the sound of the title-track Strange Machine, with Jake taking the lead with his Doom Metal beats while Siân is absolutely mesmerizing on vocals, all spiced up by the razor-edged riffs by Matt. Let’s keep banging our heads to the rumbling bass by Daniel in Over The Hills, another lesson in Hard Rock and Doom Metal by the quartet that sounds and feels dense and captivating from start to finish; whereas it’s time for over six minutes of somber, melancholic passages and sounds in the form of Fade Into Fantasy, with Siân once again taking our hearts by storm with her deep, stunning vocals, followed by Broken Stone, another enfolding tune that starts in a tribal manner to the beats by Jake and the low-tuned, metallic bass by Daniel, while Matt delivers fiery Black Sabbath-inspired riffs from his axe. And in Psychedelic Expressway the name of the song says it all, bringing forward a romantic, thrilling fusion of Doom Metal with Psychedelic Rock for our vulgar delectation where all band members are on fire until the very end.

Featuring guest guitars from Shane Wesley of Crowbar, Alunah present the heavy and dirty The Earth Spins, a good composition that keeps the album at a high level of energy, while putting the pedal to the metal Siân and the boys are going to kick your ass mercilessly in Silver, showcasing those electrifying riffs we all love so much in Doom and Stoner Metal. Put differently, there’s not a single second of boredom throughout the entire song; it’s thunderous heavy music at its finest. And we face more of the raw bass lines by Daniel in Teaching Carnal Sins, who makes a fantastic duo with Matt and his old school riffage, flowing smoothly and darkly until the last second and consequently keeping us hypnotized by the band’s flawless performance. Lastly, the closing tune Dead Woman Walking is just as groovy and enfolding as the rest of the album, with Matt offering Siân all she needs to shine on vocals once again, generating a sensational conclusion to the album.

As usual, you can get to know Siân and the boys better by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and by streaming more of their intense, somber and melodic creations on Spotify. In addition, in order to show your true support and admiration for Alunah, you should grab a copy of Strange Machine from the Heavy Psych Sounds Records’ BandCamp page or webstore really soon, adding another fantastic item to your devilish collection. Alunah are taking a huge step forward in their career with Strange Machine, solidifying their sound, shaping up their own style, and as a consequence cementing their name in the history of British Doom Metal. Welcome to the Strange Machine, and let’s keep raising our horns to Alunah in the name of doom.

Best moments of the album: Broken Stone, Silver and Dead Woman Walking.

Worst moments of the album: The Earth Spins.

Released in 2022 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. Strange Machine 5:00
2. Over The Hills 3:55
3. Fade Into Fantasy 6:15
4. Broken Stone 5:16
5. Psychedelic Expressway 4:14
6. The Earth Spins 5:09
7. Silver 3:37
8. Teaching Carnal Sins 5:02
9. Dead Woman Walking 3:56

Band members
Siân Greenaway – vocals
Matt Noble – guitar
Daniel Burchmore – bass
Jake Mason – drums

Guest musician
Shane Wesley – guitars on “The Earth Spins”

Metal Chick of the Month – Adrienne Cowan

So sin ‘til you win, let your demons out! Lady Lightbringer!

It’s time for a true metal opera this February on The Headbanging Moose, courtesy of our multi-talented metal lady of the month. A metal vocalist, poet, vocal coach and musician best known for being the frontwoman and composer for American Symphonic Metal band Seven Spires, among several other amazing metal bands and projects, Adrienne Elizabeth Catli Cowan, who goes by her stage name of Adrienne Cowan, will mesmerize you with her unique vocals, both extreme and classic Heavy Metal clean vocals. In other words, she can sing pretty much any type of metal and non-metal music, from the Symphonic Metal of Seven Spires to Death Metal, Deathcore and Dark Jazz, and I’m sure you’ll have an absolute blast with Adrienne after knowing more about the life and career of such skillful artist.

Born on January 28, 1995 in Houston, the most populous city in Texas and the fourth most populous city in the United States, Adrienne is formally trained in classical and most contemporary styles as a graduate of both Berklee College of Music (with a degree in Music Composition) in Boston, Massachusetts and the Academy of Contemporary Music in the UK, although she was also self-taught in both extreme clean vocals for many years before finally finding a perfect vocal coach in Swedish singer David Äkesson. Her connection with music started a lot earlier than that, though, as since she was a child she was already taking part in choirs and taking piano lessons, performing in musicals and then entering music school, and from there starting to compose her music and to expand her knowledge and skills, especially as a singer. For instance, Adrienne had her first performance as a vocalist at the age of three at an event at the church her family attended, beginning her piano lessons after that at the age of six and being mainly into choir and darker popular musicals such as Phantom of the Opera throughout elementary and middle school. Not only that, her parents pulled her out of high school so that she could attend a music school full-time, so through that show of support she already had a good feeling about her potential skills.

When she was still living in England, in 2012, Adrienne was making demos by herself for a dark and theatrical project she had yet to debut, and after moving back to the United States in 2013 she met Jack Kosto in a bookstore in her first week at Berklee and told him about her project and songs. From there Seven Spires were born, with all band members having extensive musical knowledge and studies, therefore drawing on their backgrounds to express themselves musically without limits of genre or technique. Seven Spires released their first album in 2014, the EP The Cabaret of Dreams, with all of its songs representing half of their 2017 full-length opus Solveig, where not only Adrienne was responsible for all vocals, keyboards, lyrics and songwriting, but also for the production and vocal engineering, showcasing all her talent and professionalism. After Solveig, the band released the full-length albums Emerald Seas, in 2020, and Gods of Debauchery, in 2021, and if you want to enjoy all of the band’s epic creations you can find Seven Spires on Spotify and on YouTube, where you can also have a visual orgasm with their official videos for the songs Lightbringer, Succumb, The Unforgotten Name, The Cabaret Of Dreams, Drowner Of Worlds, Bury You, The Paradox, This God Is Dead, Silvery Moon, The Cursed Muse, and Dare To Live, as well as some live footage, making of’s, behind the scenes and other awesome videos by Adrienne and her crew.

Apart from her career with Seven Spires, you can also find Adrienne and her powerful vocals in distinct bands and projects such as International Power Metal band Light & Shade, with whom she recorded the vocals for the 2016 album The Essence of Everything; International Power Metal/Hard Rock band Sascha Paeth’s Masters of Ceremony, with whom she recorded the vocals (and piano for one track) in the 2019 album Signs of Wings; and American Symphonic Deathcore band Winds of Plague, with whom she recorded the keyboards and backing vocals in the 2017 album Blood of My Enemy. In addition, Adrienne was also part of American Melodic Heavy Metal band FirstBourne from 2016 to 2018, having recorded the vocals and keyboards in their 2016 album Riot and in the 2017 acoustic single Home, and of Frontiers All Stars in 2020 and Riot Underground between 2012 and 2013.

You can also find her singing and playing live with German Symphonic Power Metal band Avantasia since 2018, with American Heavy Metal band Mike Kerr from 2015 until 2018, and with American Power/Thrash Metal band Sonic Pulse. Not only that, Adrienne was also a guest musician in an array of bands and projects, those being vocals for the song I Declare War from the 2020 album The Journey, by German Melodic Death Metal band Deliver the Galaxy; vocals for several songs from the 2021 album The Metal Opera by Magnus Karlsson, by Swedish Symphonic/Melodic/Power Metal band Heart Healer; vocals for the song My Guide My Hunger from the 2018 album As Above So Below, by Italian Melodic Death Metal band Hell’s Guardian; vocals for the song The End of Innocence from the 2017 album Reflections, by American Neoclassical Heavy Metal artist Jimi Mitchell; vocals for the song Mammoth from the 2017 album Pianometal, by American Symphonic/Progressive Metal artist Kyle Morrison; vocals for the song The Truth of the Lion from the 2015 album The Truth of the Lion, by Mike Kerr; harsh and clean vocals for the songs Conjunction of Souls and The Restitution from the 2020 album Pile of Priests, by American Progressive Death Metal band Pile of Priests; vocals for the song Let It Go from the 2018 album Re-Animated, by Italian Power Metal band Trick or Treat; and vocals and lyrics for the 2018 album Lights in the Murk, by Italian Symphonic Black Metal band Yass-Waddah. Do you want more? Because our she-wolf was also responsible for the songwriting for the song Hold Tight from the 2016 EP Dirty Lyxx, by American Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Dirty Lyxx, and she also sung vocals in Black Science’s Freedom (Or Die Trying), featured in the outro of one Camp Camp episode, and sang both a duet with Casey Lee Williams in the RWBY Volume 6 credits song Nevermore, and in the song War of Volume 7. Adrienne has also been a part of the Freelance Orchestra in their RTX 2016 (where to her surprise she ended up in the RWBY music panel) and 2018 concerts, plus Anime Boston 2018, and you can always have a great time watching her own videos on her official YouTube channel.

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Adrienne got into the world of metal music around the age of 11 when her uncle showed her Metallica and Scorpions, but it wasn’t until she found out about musicians the likes of Alexi Laiho, Janne Wierman and Yngwie Malmsteen that she really started to feel at home listening to Heavy Metal. She mentioned it appealed in some way to her classical background, and watching live Children of Bodom videos was quite inspiring. However, she’s not only into metal, but showcases a wide variety of influences in her life. “I’m not a one-dimensional person – I’m a human – so I’m allowed to like other stuff”, she said in one of her interviews. “I’m not a huge K-pop fan or anything, but I really like good pop writing. From a technical standpoint, as a songwriter, I’m like: damn, good for you guys. And there’s a certain sassy energy – it just speaks to me in a way that a lot of metal doesn’t.” Another influence on our beloved diva as a writer are painters of the Romantic period, with German painter Caspar David Friedrich and Russian painter Ivan Aivazovsky being two of her main inspirations. “I’m also a big fan of (the English composer) Edward Elgar – he does this piece called ‘Sospiri Op. 70,’ which is the most beautiful thing, it sounds like the pain of falling in love. It was something I listened to a lot when we were writing this record. And of course, Chopin,” she said, also finding inspiration under night skies and in the darker depths of the human condition to write her lyrics. Adrienne also nurtures an amazing openness with her fans on social media, which she credits to her experience as a My Chemical Romance fan back when she was younger. “This one interview with them came out, and I remember one of the guys in the band saying basically, ‘We say these things in our music, we are a bunch of fucked up guys, and it helps our fans know… you’re not alone.’ That really made me feel less alone when I was a sad teenager, and then when I grew up into a sad adult, I thought, damn, I could be that for somebody else.”

Regarding her singing style, technique and how she maintains her vocal cords in great shape, Adrienne mentioned in one of her interviews that she likes to meditate before shows and uses her instincts to decide what she’ll sing or scream either high or low. “The low death metal style is more present and more grounded and more angry and earthier in a way. The higher black metal screams are more spiritually pitched or spiritually empty — when there’s black metal themes and nihilistic lyrics, of course I’m probably going to scream with that high tone”, said Adrienne. In addition, when she was enrolled at The Academy of Contemporary Music at the age of 16 she joined an after-school club where all metalhead students gathered to jam on a new song every week, opening her eyes to the rest of the metal world and challenging her to vocally try different styles of each subgenre of metal. She also mentioned that she has studied many techniques of singing including theatrical belting, Speech Level Singing, bel canto and even some throat singing, with the hardest part being unlearning things previous teachers had told her in order to properly approach whatever new technique she was learning, and with the very high Power Metal “scream” being one of the styles that took her the longest to develop. In order to maintain her vocal health, she mentioned that she basically has to just mind her sleep and hydration levels, trying to stay out of the direct blast of heaters or air conditioners, and trying not to get sick or allergic. However, at the end of the day, even dehydrated or sick the show must go on, which forced her to develop alternate techniques to sing through sickness.

A huge fan of Lord of the Rings, all forms of art, Gothic style, cheesy Sci-Fi, vampire shows, coffee and fantasy games, Adrienne enjoys mountain hikes, spending time by any shore, and playing JRPG’s (Japanese Role-Playing Games) and games with friends between her musical ventures. “After a long tour, I like to sit at home and sleep in my own bed, play video games, maybe think about going out… If I get to go on a little holiday or something, I love road trips and anywhere remote with alpine forests and quiet waters. Wyoming is great for this, as are many spots on the West Coast. Anything to get me away from people and out of my regular world,” commented Adrienne, who despite being very fond of animals cannot take care of a dog or cat due to her lack of space and time to do so. And when asked which hobbit from Lord of the Rings she would choose to be part of her band for the rest of their days, she provided a curious and fun answer to that. “Either Sam or Pippin, I think. Because I think I’m a Frodo, and I need a support system like Sam. But also I need a Pippin to just make me laugh all the time no matter what, and just help lighten the mood, and tell me to eat my carrots and mushrooms.”

Last but not least, our raven-haired vocalist also had a few interesting words to say about the whole pandemic and how it has been impacting her life on the road with Seven Spires. “All of this resulted in connecting more with our fans online. So although it’s super frustrating to not know exactly when we’re going to be able to play live again, we have found a way to do the online equivalent of hugging people at the merch table and listening to their stories,” said Adrienne, who also mentioned she keeps working hard to entertain and stay in touch with her fanbase, also teaching online, private vocal lessons and running a weekly workshop on everything from orchestration to arranging to songwriting techniques, all of which you can find on Linktree and on Patreon. “Mostly I teach tools for people to be able to express what they have in mind, and I teach from a really emotional standpoint.” And if you want to know more about Adrienne, her likes and dislikes, her inspirations and so on, there are countless interview online with her such as this one to Rock Titan or this one called RichardMetalFan Interviews! Ep. 33: Adrienne Cowan of Seven Spires/Winds of Plague/Avantasia, where she talks about her journey with music from where she started until now. Having said all that, what are you waiting for to let Adrienne reach deep inside your heart and take you on a breathtaking musical voyage to the sound of her stunning vocals?

Adrienne Cowan’s Official Facebook page
Adrienne Cowan’s Official Instagram
Adrienne Cowan’s Official YouTube channel
Adrienne Cowan’s Official Twitter
Seven Spires’ Official Facebook page
Seven Spires’ Official Instagram
Seven Spires’ Official YouTube channel
Seven Spires’ Official Twitter

“I know that if I’m just stagnant and sitting on my ass, I’m not going to be happy. So if I want to be happy, I have to do something about it.” – Adrienne Cowan

Album Review – Absolva / Fire In The Sky (2022)

One of the torchbearers of contemporary Heavy Metal made in the UK is back with their sixth opus, bearing all the hallmarks of the genre plus an even greater level of intensity.

After their critically acclaimed album Side By Side, released back in 2020, Manchester, England-based four-piece Melodic Heavy Metal squad Absolva is back in action with an ass-kicking new album, entitled Fire In The Sky, bearing all the hallmarks of old school British metal music that vocalist and guitarist Christopher Appleton, guitarist Luke Appleton, bassist Karl Schramm and drummer Martin Mcnee are known for, plus an even greater level of intensity. Recorded at Rocksector Records, mixed and produced by Chris Appleton himself, mastered by Ade Emsley at Table of Tone Mastering Ltd., and  featuring a classic artwork by Alberto Quirantes of Akirant Illustration, Fire in the Sky deals with an array of contemporary issues that impact everyone’s lives, such as alcohol and drug problems and the all too familiar effects of the global pandemic. “Absolva is usually known for the positive themes in our lyrics, yet this time we’ve been drawn toward some darker issues. The pandemic was a rough ride for most people and I personally found it difficult to take, with a mix of effects on my life. Like so many people we suffered the pain of losing a very good friend to the virus and then more generally the negative effects on our music industry as a whole were obviously really bad,” commented Chris about the band’s biggest inspirations for the new album.

Demon Tormentor is pure, unfiltered Heavy Metal from the very first second, with Chris and Luke pulverizing everything and everyone with their strident riffs while Karl and Martin smash their rumbling instruments in great fashion, starting the album on an electrifying mode. Then continuing their incendiary path of classic heavy music we have Burn Inside, reminding me of the more recent creations by Blaze Bayley (for obvious reason) and with Chris once again showcasing his vocal potency accompanied by his bandmates’ epic backing vocals; and rev up your engines for a Heavy Metal feast infused with Southern Rock and Metal nuances titled Addiction, perfect for raising your fists in the air to the pounding beats by Martin and the striking solos by the band’s dynamic guitar duo. Melodious lines permeate the air in What Does God Know, a power ballad by the quartet where Chris declaims the song’s words with tons of passion, whereas Stand Your Ground is another straightforward display of their Melodic Heavy Metal, albeit not as exciting as the other songs of the album, with Chris and Luke still presenting a great job on the guitars.

The title-track Fire In The Sky puts the band back on track, exhaling fire, electricity and epicness, or in other words, it’s a song perfect for hitting the road while Martin hammers his drums in great fashion, not to mention how sharp the song’s riffs sound and feel. Chris keeps delivering his trademark vocals and riffs in Man For All Seasons, supported by the always melodic and thunderous bass by Karl in an old school but at the same time modern version of heavy music, and get ready to bang your head nonstop together with the Absolva boys in Galloglaigh, a beyond pure British tune with their Judas Priest-inspired guitars adding fire to the overall sonority. Historic Year brings to our ears six minutes of epicness in the form of music, alternating between mid-tempo passages and sheer adrenaline thanks to the awesome riffage blasted by Chris and Luke. It will sound fantastic if played live, I might say, whereas Refuse To Die is a brilliant way to close the album, offering us all another round of their vibrant and melodious Heavy Metal with Chris being on absolute fire on vocals while Karl and Martin keep demolishing our souls with their undisputed kitchen.

As already mentioned in our review for Side By Side, you can get in touch with Chris, Luke, Karl and Martin through their official Facebook page and their Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music and stream all of their creations on Spotify, and of course purchase Fire In The Sky from their own Big Cartel page or from Apple Music. Although as mentioned by Chris the themes explored in their new album might be darker than usual, the quartet managed to turn all that obscurity and negativity into flammable, striking metal music, proving they’re much more than just another Heavy Metal band hailing from the UK, and therefore inviting us all to join them in their quest for heavy music for many years to come no matter what.

Best moments of the album: Demon Tormentor, Fire In The Sky and Refuse To Die.

Worst moments of the album: Stand Your Ground.

Released in 2022 Rocksector Records

Track listing
1. Demon Tormentor 3:36
2. Burn Inside 3:54
3. Addiction 4:25
4. What Does God Know 4:23
5. Stand Your Ground 5:07
6. Fire In The Sky 4:03
7. Man For All Seasons 4:00
8. Galloglaigh 4:06
9. Historic Year 6:00
10. Refuse To Die 3:06

Band members
Christopher Appleton – lead vocals, lead guitar
Luke Appleton – rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass
Martin Mcnee – drums

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