Album Review – Ibaraki / Rashumon (2022)

Trivium’s own Matt Heafy turns his inner demon into first-class Black Metal in his new solo project, the end-result of a journey to find his own voice.

Originally formed in 2012 under the name Mrityu by Trivium’s own vocalist and guitarist Matt Heafy with the goal of generating Norwegian-style Black Metal (while also presenting elements from Extreme Progressive Metal and Metalcore in its sound), United States-based Black Metal project Ibaraki (which is by the way the name for a terrifying Japanese demon taken from feudal legend) has finally unleashed upon humanity its debut effort, entitled Rashomon, which according to Matt himself is the end-result of a journey to find his voice. Mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Recording Studios, and produced and engineered by Emperor’s one and only Ihsahn, Rashomon is more than just an expression of Matt and Ihsahn’s deep creative resonance, with his bandmates from Trivium, those being guitarist Corey Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto and drummer Alex Bent, contributing to the album as session musicians. “The violence in America towards Asians, the murders of Asians because of people’s small-mindedness – we can see what’s happening. It’s like I never quite felt like I was Asian enough because I’m half and I never felt white enough because I’m half, but I feel like it’s important for me to talk about this now. Everything has a rich, amazing, beautiful culture behind it – every single civilization, every culture, every walk of life. So I hope that it can make Asian metalheads or Asian fans of music feel a little bit more represented. It’s great to be able to say, ‘this is where I’m from,’ and, ‘this is who I am.’,” commented Matt about the album.

Hakanaki Hitsuzen (which translates as something like “inevitably ephemeral”) is a whimsical intro that will transport you to the world of Ibaraki before Matt and his crew come ripping in Kagutsuchi, where Matt is on fire with both his enraged screams and unstoppable riffs accompanied by the always pulverizing drums by Alex. Furthermore, everything from the breaks and variations to its ethereal passages, clean vocals and the ass-kicking bass solo by Paolo is stunning, resulting in a lesson in Experimental Black Metal. Then continuing his path of experimentations and progressiveness, we’re treated to another explosion of majestic Black Metal entitled Ibaraki-Dōji, with Matt and Corey slashing their stringed axes while Alex sounds infernal on drums, all enhanced by the song’s background orchestrations. In Jigoku Dayu, an acoustic start evolves into a gentle sonority to the calm, clean vocals by Matt, sounding enfolding until the very end, whereas in Tamashii no Houkai (or “collapse of the soul”), featuring Ihsahn on lead guitars, the band blasts a vicious fusion of classic Black Metal with progressiveness, rage and groove, also showcasing another great vocal performance by Matt.

The skies get darker and darker as the music progresses in Akumu (which means “nightmare”), where you can sense all the anguish and despair in Matt’s roars supported by Alex’s massive beats and the beastly gnarls by guest vocalist Nergal of Behemoth; followed by Komorebi (or “sunbeams”), a very melodic tune presenting different layers plus lead guitars by Corey, despite lacking the same energy of its predecessors. Then alternating between smooth passages and the hellish heaviness of Black Metal we have one of the most detailed of all songs, Rōnin, featuring backing vocals by Norwegian vocalist Heidi Solberg Tveitan of Starofash, who’s by the way married to Ihsahn and has a son, Angell Solberg Tveitan, and a daughter, Ariadne Solberg Tveitan, with him, both also doing backing vocals on the song, plus additional screams by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance and lead guitars by Ihsahn. Susanoo no Mikoto is as experimental and groovy as it can be, with Paolo and Alex generating a rumbling atmosphere perfect for Matt’s screams while the song’s second half is a wicked sonic experiment conducted by Matt and featuring additional vocals by Ihsahn. And lastly, it’s time for a little less than three minutes of pure eccentricity entitled Kaizoku (or “pirate”), with Matt declaiming the song’s lyrics like a true bard.

The breathtaking, multi-layered Rashomon can be better  appreciated in its full glory on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course you can add it to your private collection of Extreme Metal albums by grabbing your favorite version of it from Ibaraki’s official homepage or by clicking HERE, and don’t forget to also follow the project on Facebook and on Instagram for news and, who knows, some tour dates in the upcoming months, and to subscribe to its YouTube channel for more wicked videos. It might have taken almost 10 years for Matt and his inner demon Ibaraki to finally see the light of day, but the wait was definitely worth it as the music found in Rashomon is outstanding to say the least, and hopefully Matt will continue his path of self-discovery with Ibaraki in the coming years, bringing to us fans more of his experimental fusion of extreme music with progressive elements and Japanese legends.

Best moments of the album: Kagutsuchi, Ibaraki-Dōji, Akumu and Rōnin.

Worst moments of the album: Komorebi.

Released in 2022 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Hakanaki Hitsuzen (儚き必然) 1:28
2. Kagutsuchi (迦具土) 7:34
3. Ibaraki-Dōji (茨木童子) 7:51
4. Jigoku Dayu (地獄太夫) 7:40
5. Tamashii no Houkai (魂の崩壊) 5:58
6. Akumu (悪夢) 5:53
7. Komorebi (木漏れ日) 6:06
8. Rōnin (浪人) 9:13
9. Susanoo no Mikoto (須佐之男命) 7:12
10. Kaizoku (海賊) 2:53

Band members
Matt Heafy – vocals, guitars

Guest musicians
Corey Beaulieu – guitars, lead guitars on “Komorebi”
Paolo Gregoletto – bass, bass solo on “Kagutsuchi”
Alex Bent – drums
Ihsahn – lead guitars on “Tamashii no Houkai” and “Rōnin”, additional vocals on “Susanoo no Mikoto”
Nergal – additional vocals on “Akumu”
Heidi Solberg Tveitan – backing vocals on “Rōnin”, samples on “Susanoo no Mikoto”
Gerard Way – additional vocals on “Rōnin”
Angell Solberg Tveitan – backing vocals on “Rōnin”
Ariadne Solberg Tveitan – backing vocals on “Rōnin”

Album Review – Benthik Zone / εἴδωλον (2022)

A celebration of the beauty of metamorphosis and hybridism in the form of first-class Atmospheric Black Metal made in Portugal.

Hailing from Porto, a coastal city in northwest Portugal, the Atmospheric Black Metal duo Benthik Zone is back with more of their fusion of experimental, atmospheric and progressive sounds with their third full-length opus, entitled εἴδωλον, which is Greek for “eidolon”. Establishing a parallel between classical antiquity and contemporaneity by creating a poetic dialogue with various myths, stories speaking about fabulous creatures, humans and gods, the album celebrates the beauty of metamorphosis and hybridism, which goes from the human being to the vegetal and animal life but carries the weight of that transition process and its consequences in the bodies of the “εἴδωλον” characters. “Beyond this interesting convergence between the term εἴδωλον and the culmination of the myth (Actaeon) from which we were inspired, it was perceived that in general terms the meaning of particular interest to us, in the context of this album, was that of a spectre, ghost, that has been vexing us at every stage of our work,” commented the duo formed of vocalist A. Leão and multi-instrumentalist F. Braga, who together with guest G. Correia are offering us all an even more elaborate, twisted and expansive concept album of Atmospheric Black Metal that keeps their sound evolving in myriad mysterious and compelling ways.

The disruptive, atmospheric intro Atravesso o Portal Mítico (“I go through the mythical portal”) will drag you to the unique world of Benthik Zone, setting the stage for E Embriagado pelo Reflexo (“and intoxicated by the reflection”), an Extra-Terrestrial Atmospheric Black Metal journey spearheaded by the strident riffage by F. Braga while A. Leão fires hellish gnarls from start to finish, presenting the most primeval elements of old school Black Metal until everything fades into an acoustic, naturalistic passage halfway through it, again exploding into a sea of obscurity and experimentations for our vulgar delectation. After such demolishing start to the album we’re treated to Sonho-a Desnuda (“I dream of her naked”), another eerie, ethereal creation by the duo that starts in an mesmerizing manner, and that Stygian ambience goes on for over three minutes until crushing beats and disruptive sounds invade our ears in a lesson in Experimental Black Metal.

A. Correia and F. Braga generate a beyond captivating ambience with their instruments in Na Iluminação do Presente (“in the lighting of the present”), all spiced up by the cryptic vocalizations by A. Leão in an insane and pulverizing display of Atmospheric Black Metal, flowing into the cinematic interlude Qual Espectro (“which spectrum”), which will pierce our minds before we face Da Zona Perdida no Tempo (“from the zone lost in time”), an explosion of the duo’s blackened sounds exhaling creativity and darkness while exploring new sounds. Furthermore, G. Correia adds his share of lunacy to the music with his wicked instruments, resulting in a sonic attack without a single second of peace. Lastly, closing the album it’s time for 11 minutes of primeval and obscure sounds in Imenso Abismo do Reino Submerso (“immense abyss of the sunken kingdom”), where tribal, esoteric beats are intertwined with eccentric instruments such as the didgeridoo, generating a hypnotizing, idiosyncratic Atmospheric Black Metal experience not recommended for the lighthearted while also ending in an absolute Stygian fashion.

If you have what it takes to face the 47 minutes of experimentations, progressiveness and obscurity brought into being by Benthik Zone in the form of εἴδωλον, you can enjoy the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and also start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates. However, above all that, in order to show your true support and admiration for those Portuguese metallers you should definitely purchase a copy of their newborn beast from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Onism Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore, from Apple Music, or from Amazon. As already mentioned, the album celebrates the beauty of metamorphosis and hybridism, and there’s nothing more appropriate than the Atmospheric Black Metal by Benthik Zone to properly showcase all that beauty in darkness and chaos.

Best moments of the album: E Embriagado pelo Reflexo and Imenso Abismo do Reino Submerso.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Onism Productions

Track listing
1. Atravesso o Portal Mítico 2:01
2. E Embriagado pelo Reflexo 8:28
3. Sonho-a Desnuda 8:10
4. Na Iluminação do Presente 7:59
5. Qual Espectro 1:53
6. Da Zona Perdida no Tempo 7:28
7. Imenso Abismo do Reino Submerso 11:27

Band members
A. Leão – vocals, didgeridoo
F. Braga – guitars, bass, drum programming, backing vocals

Guest Musician
G. Correia – transverse flute, berimbau, hangpan, flute

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 – Primeval Well / Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits (2021)

This uncanny metal entity is back with their sophomore album, overflowing with the fullness of the rivers, valleys and folk legends and mythology of the mountains of east Tennessee.

Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States, commonly known as “Music City” for its vibrant country music scene, the uncanny Experimental Folk/Black Metal entity known as Primeval Well is ready to unleash upon humanity their sophomore effort, entitled Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits, the follow-up to their 2019 self-titled album. Absolutely overflowing with the fullness of the rivers, valleys and folk legends and mythology of the mountains of east Tennessee, Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits beautifully represents what the band itself likes to call “Experimental Southern Gothic Black Metal”, offering our ears haunting and unsettling sounds and atmospheres carefully brought forth by Ryan Clackner on vocals and guitars, Luke Lindell on bass, Edward Longo on keyboards and Zac Ormerod on drums, showing a healthy evolution from their debut album and, more important than that, showcasing a stunning fusion of experimental sounds with the aggressiveness of traditional extreme music.

Eerie and cryptic from the very first second, the extended intro Psilocybin Psychosis by the Mountain Top Cross brings forward background vocalizations and wicked noises that set the stage for the band to kill in Raising Up Antlers to Our Mountain Gods, where an experimental start explodes into visceral Black Metal to the sick growls by Ryan and the infernal blast beats by Zac, showcasing some interesting breaks and variations and, of course, endless darkness and acidity. After such powerful start, Ryan’s classy guitars are quickly accompanied by the groovy bass by Luke and the galloping drums by Zac in She Flies Undead, less violent at first while presenting a wicked fusion of Southern Rock and Black Metal, or in other words, the epitome of musical experimentation, whereas again exploring new sounds armed with their sonic weapons the quartet adds hints of Doom Metal to their core sonority in Ghost Fires Burn Light in Our Eyes, with Ryan kicking ass with both his demented roars and crisp riffage while Edward adds a touch of finesse to the music with his keys.

The title-track Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits will penetrate deep inside your psyche and drag you to the wicked world ruled by Primeval Well, displaying hellish gnarls, razor-edged Black Metal riffs and classic beats by the quartet, while once again presenting elements from their local culture, it’s time for a stylish hybrid of Gothic, Folk and Black Metal titled Tales Carved in Stone on a Forbidden Road, with the guitars by Ryan and the rumbling bass by Luke stealing the spotlight. Then in Where All Things are Forgotten we face a somber, melancholic start to the deep vocals by Ryan, and that atmospheric vibe goes on for over four minutes when everything suddenly bursts into chaos, spearheaded by the massive beast by Zac and finally flowing into the phantasmagorical outro Sickening Laughter with the Grinning Trees, where the acoustic guitars by Ryan walk hand in hand with the song’s haunting background sounds.

The chaotic but at the same time harmonious sounds of the rivers and valleys of Tennessee are waiting for you in Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits, an album that might not be an easy listen at first for newcomers to the world of Experimental Black Metal, but that will surely captivate your senses for all eternity once you complete its full musical voyage. Hence, don’t forget to give the guys from Primeval Well a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to purchase a copy of such dense and distinguished album from their own BandCamp page. In a nutshell, as aforementioned, Ryan, Luke, Edward and Zac did an amazing job in Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits, delivering a majestic hybrid of several metal and non-metal styles that will undoubtedly place the album among the must-have releases of 2021 when the music in question is at the same time experimental and extreme.

Best moments of the album: Raising Up Antlers to Our Mountain Gods, Ghost Fires Burn Light in Our Eyes and Tales Carved in Stone on a Forbidden Road.

Worst moments of the album: Where All Things are Forgotten.

Released in 2021 Moonlight Cypress Archetypes

Track listing
1. Psilocybin Psychosis by the Mountain Top Cross 3:20
2. Raising Up Antlers to Our Mountain Gods 10:45
3. She Flies Undead 9:44
4. Ghost Fires Burn Light in Our Eyes 9:13
5. Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits 8:38
6. Tales Carved in Stone on a Forbidden Road 9:21
7. Where All Things are Forgotten 8:01
8. Sickening Laughter with the Grinning Trees 2:22

Band members
Ryan Clackner – vocals, guitars
Luke Lindell – bass, vocals
Edward Longo – keyboards, vocals
Zac Ormerod – drums

Album Review – Die Entweihung / Kings & Pawns (2021)

An Israel-based one-man army continues to follow an eclectic direction with his new opus, mixing diverse musical genres with Black Metal vocals and Middle-Eastern melodies.

Formed in 2007 by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Denis Tereschenko (known as Herr Entweiherr during the first years of the project) in the northern part of Israel, three years after moving to Haifa from his hometown Vitebsk, in Belarus, Melodic Dark/Black Metal entity Die Entweihung, which is German for “the desecration”, has just unleashed upon us all the project’s impressive tenth full-length opus, entitled Kings & Pawns, continuing the eclectic direction of some of his previous albums by mixing diverse musical genres the likes of Experimental, Doom and Thrash Metal with trademark Black Metal vocals, Middle-Eastern melodies and lyrics that, just like in the previous two albums, deal with “the confrontation of man and his surrounding world”. Not only that, Kings & Pawns also marks Die Entweihung’s first release in nine years to feature a couple of guest musicians, more specifically vocalists Alexander Ivanov (of Jinx) and Alena “Dark Zero” (of Nocturnal Pestilence), and bassist Anton Shirl (of Tales of Darknord), bringing additional layers of obscurity and mystery to the already idiosyncratic music crafted by Denis, all enfolded by a stylish artwork by Yulia “BooShweak” Asher.

A wicked intro quickly evolves into a metallic feast titled Away into the Night, where Denis delivers at the same time slashing riffs and whimsical keys, working as an expanded intro to The Moustached God, a grim fusion of Experimental Black Metal and contemporary Progressive Metal where Denis gnarls like a creature from the underworld while his beats and fills, as well as his Arabian guitar lines and solos, elevate the song’s epicness through the roof. And our talented and relentless lone wolf continues to pave his path of darkness and harmony in As The Hangover Starts, showcasing more of his classic Heavy Metal riffs intertwined with Symphonic Black Metal keys; whereas enhancing his progressiveness and experimentations we’re treated to the melodic instrumental tune Confrontation, once again displaying a fantastic job done by Denis on the guitars while he also crafts a dense kitchen with his drums and bass. Then guest Alexander Ivanov makes a demented vocal duo with Denis in Kings & Pawns, while our one-man army keeps hammering his drums and extracting sheer electricity form his riffage in a great depiction of his Melodic Dark Metal.

Featuring Alena “Dark Zero”, Iron Maiden-inspired guitars ignite the atmospheric The Nonsense Games, where Alena kicks some serious ass with her Doro-like clean vocals and devilish roars from start to finish; while sounding darker and more primeval than before, Denis and his Die Entweihung bring forward elements from an array of styles in the hypnotizing The Only Thing Worthy to Save, keeping the album at a high level of obscurity. Alena returns in full force in the cover song Working Class Hero, originally released by John Lennon under his solo project John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band in their 1970 self-titled album (check the original version HERE), showcasing all her talent and passion for heavy music and, therefore, resulting in a beautiful rendition for such distinct classic; and the albums closes with another cover song, this time Sons of Moon and Fire, from the 1999 demo Revelation by Russian Black Metal horde Der Gerwelt, a beyond amazing tribute by Die Entweihung featuring guest bassist Anton Shirl (of Tales of Darknord), dedicated to the memory of Dmitry Aarbreck Abramov (R.I.P.) from the original Der Gerwelt lineup (and you can take a listen at the original version HERE).

In the end, as you can see it’s quite difficult to label the music crafted by Denis and his Die Entweihung in Kings & Pawns, showcasing all the dexterity, creativity and dynamism by such talented musician. Hence, the best thing to do in order to try to understand all styles and nuances found throughout the album is to stream it in full on YouTube, and of course purchase the album (and show Denis your utmost support) from his own BandCamp page, from Wings of Destruction’s BandCamp page or webstore, or from Discogs. Also, don’t forget to give Denis a shout on Facebook, getting to know more about his career, his music and plans for the future, consequently inspiring him to always move forward armed with his epic music. In a world where each one of us is either a king or a pawn, and with the discrepancy between those two groups growing exponentially year after year, there’s nothing better than some diverse and epic metal music to help us endure our daily lives, and Denis and his Die Entweihung are among us exactly to help us with that.

Best moments of the album: The Moustached God, Kings & Pawns and The Nonsense Games.

Worst moments of the album: Confrontation.

Released in 2021 Wings of Destruction

Track listing
1. Away into the Night 2:47
2. The Moustached God 6:32
3. As The Hangover Starts 8:36
4. Confrontation 4:02
5. Kings & Pawns 4:53
6. The Nonsense Games 7:12
7. The Only Thing Worthy to Save 6:42
8. Working Class Hero (John Lennon cover) 4:02
9. Sons of Moon and Fire (Der Gerwelt cover) 7:02

Band members
Denis Tereschenko – vocals, all instruments

Guest musicians
Alena “Dark Zero” – harsh and clean vocals & arrangements on “The Nonsense Games” and “Working Class Hero”
Alexander Ivanov – harsh and clean vocals & arrangements on “Kings & Pawns”
Anton Shirl – bass on “Sons of Moon and Fire”

Album Review – Goatchrist / Apotheosis (2020)

One of UK’s most innovative underground acts returns with a multi-layered and very experimental concept album representing a hugely-modified musical retelling of the Books of Enoch.

One year after the release of the excellent Pythagoras and after unleashing upon humanity a series of non-metal albums in 2020, those being Revelations of the Gnostic Christ, The Philosopher’s Hand and more recently Goatchrist, Leeds, UK’s own vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Guilherme (or J. Guilherme if you prefer) and his Experimental Black Metal alter-ego Goatchrist are back with another imposing opus entitled Apotheosis, a concept album representing a hugely-modified musical retelling of the Books of Enoch, apocryphal magical texts from antiquity. Following the story of Edris, who leaves his hometown due to his perception of its absolute wickedness in order to find a city of divinely-acting inhabitants, Apotheosis showcases once again the undeniable talent of J. Guilherme, this time accompanied by D. Tann and guests A. Billingham and R. Shipley providing several different voices to give life to all characters involved in the story, inviting the listener to join Goatchrist in another detailed and very entertaining musical voyage.

Stygian guitars permeate the air in the cryptic intro Prologue – From a People Lost… while Jacob begins declaiming its cryptic words, warming us up for the absolutely experimental and progressive Chapter 1 – …unto the Wilderness, Seeking the City of Divine Beings (מַלְכוּת), where its lyrics couldn’t have been darker and more poetic than what they already are (“I am born from great evil, / My mind has dwelt in sin. / I have not mind or heart, / As awakened cantors deep within.”), blending Progressive Metal with heavier sounds and non-metal styles and, therefore, turning it into a beyond amazing ride for fans of all types of rock and metal music. And continuing his path of experimentations and metaphysical philosophies, Jacob and his Goatchrist offer another epic composition titled Chapter 2 – Hark! Appeareth (מֶטָטְרוֹן), where all guitars, drums, keys and orchestrations generate a bold ambience for his demonic gnarls, resulting in a progressive and sharp hybrid of Cradle of Filth and Opeth. Then a very theatrical start kicks off the 11-minute aria Chapter 3 – Five Archangels, bringing to our ears classic piano and keys, deep guttural vociferations and sluggish, Doom Metal-inspired beats, also presenting Jazz-y moments, endless breaks and variations and an enfolding atmosphere from start to finish, not to mention the amazing job done by guest R. Shipley as the voices of Gabriel and Michael.

Chapter 4 – I Am That Which Is Called ‘I Am’ (אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה) brings forward another round of Goatchrist’s wicked words (“[0] “No-thing” is that which exists, / And at the start, is that which is. / But from “thing-ness” it is disjoint, / And thus contracts to a single point.”) while the music is once again an explosion of countless rock, metal and other distinguished styles, with Jacob firing classic bass lines, soulful guitar solos and his trademark growling. Put differently, it can’t get any more experimental, multi-layered and dynamic than this. Or maybe it can, as Chapter 5 – Reborn unto Paradise (כֶּתֶר in Microcosm) blends elements from Ambient, Shoegazing and Atmospheric Black Metal to Goatchrist’s core Experimental Metal, resulting in a musical voyage where all voices by Jacob, D. Tann and A. Billingham make the whole experience even more enthralling and detailed. Furthermore, it’s interesting how Jacob meticulously added tons of idiosyncratic sounds in the background while at the same time keeping the whole song very cohesive and smooth, growing in intensity until its visceral and beast-like grand finale.

Needless to say, Jacob and his always electrifying Goatchrist managed to surprise us one more time with the high quality of the music and the exceptional concept found in his new album Apotheosis, and after so many top-notch releases in a row and in such a short period of time one can never know where the project will go from now on, which lands and storylines Jacob will explore, nor what types of music styles will be incorporated into his unique compositions. Hence, don’t forget to follow Goatchrist on Facebook, to listen to more of the project’s music on Spotify, and to purchase a copy of Apotheosis from Goatchrist’s own BandCamp page or from Amazon, keeping in mind the BandCamp download will also include two publications, one called “The Magical Key to Understanding the Album ‘Apotheosis’”, and another one titled “Third Book of Enoch”, just to give you an idea of how focused and detailed-oriented Jacob is whenever his mind begins paving the next step in the career of Goatchrist. Are you curious to know what happens to Edris in Apotheosis? Well, why don’t you let Jacob tell you that through the very distinguished music by Goatchrist? I’m sure you’ll get addicted to all of his sonic experimentations, just like what he has to offer in Apotheosis.

Best moments of the album: Chapter 1 – …unto the Wilderness, Seeking the City of Divine Beings (מַלְכוּת) and Chapter 5 – Reborn unto Paradise (כֶּתֶר in Microcosm).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Prologue – From a People Lost… 2:12
2. Chapter 1 – …unto the Wilderness, Seeking the City of Divine Beings 9:53
3. Chapter 2 – Hark! Appeareth 7:13
4. Chapter 3 – Five Archangels 11:23
5. Chapter 4 – I Am That Which Is Called ‘I Am’ 9:41
6. Chapter 5 – Reborn unto Paradise (כֶּתֶר in Microcosm) 17:11

Band members
J. Guilherme – all instruments, narration, voices of יהוה, Uriel, Raphael and Lucifer
D. Tann – voices of Edris, מֶטָטְרוֹן and Lucifer

Guest musicians
A. Billingham – voices of Sophia and Lucifer
R. Shipley – voices of Michael and Gabriel

Album Review – Goatchrist / Pythagoras (2019)

Like a phoenix arising from the ashes, one-man project Goatchrist returns with a thrilling melding of Black Metal, Jazz and progressive music, exploring the various metaphysical and occult philosophies of Pythagoras.

After a huge and cryptic hiatus that lasted for three long years, the talented multi-instrumentalist Jacob Guilherme, or J. Guilherme if you prefer, previously known as Dominator Xul’Ahabra, is back in action with his Leeds, UK-based one-man project Goatchrist, now venturing through the realms of Experimental Black Metal instead of the Blackened Death Metal from his early days. If you’re familiar with Goatchrist’s discography, let’s say the more vicious and austere music found in his previous albums, those being She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror, from 2014, The Epic Tragedy of the Cult of Enlil, from 2015, and Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant), from 2016, gave place to a much more experimental and melodic sonority with a focus on metaphysical philosophies, and that new era of Goatchrist can be fully appreciated in his brand new opus, entitled Pythagoras, a conceptual full-length album about the Greek metaphysical philosopher, father of the Western philosophical tradition and ideological precursor to occultism.

Dedicated to R. R. Givens (also known as Proscriptor McGovern, from American Black/Thrash Metal band Absu), a man of great talent and understanding and a significant inspiration in the creation of the album, Pythagoras features a thrilling melding of Black Metal, Jazz and progressive music, exploring the various metaphysical and occult philosophies of the ancient Greek sage, such as the ontology of all existence, the five three-dimensional solids whose faces are regular polygons and their links to the five pre-scientific “elements” (air, fire, earth, water and aether), and the Pythagorean attitude towards reincarnation. Written, recorded, mixed and mastered between J. Guilherme’s home studio and V. Calin’s home studio, who by the way lends his musical talents to a couple of songs in the album, Pythagoras might be one of the best fusions of extreme music (and other styles) with science and philosophy from the underground and independent scene of the past few years, proving why although Jacob shouldn’t have stopped making music under his project Goatchrist a few years ago, his break was more than healthy and inspiring as we can all enjoy now with Pythagoras.

The Initiation of Pythagoras by Thoth Hermes Tresmegistus is an instrumental, epic intro that sets the stage for Worlds, a lot more melodic and ethereal than Goatchrist’s previous endeavors, where Jacob does a great job on the guitars and drums, generating an enfolding and experimental atmosphere and also presenting an interesting paradox between demonic screeches and clean, anguished vocals. Moreover, right from the beginning you can sense the aforementioned hints of Jazz added to the music, which is also the case in The Tetractys, offering more experimentations and idiosyncratic sounds from Jacob’s (un)usual instruments and, consequently, feeling a lot more Progressive Metal than Black Metal, with its lyrics being some sort of lecture about what the title of the song truly means (“Tetractys of the Decad: / One, two, three and four / in union; musica universalis – / Unity; Dyad; Harmony; Kosmos.”).

Back to a more berserk and violent mode, Jacob slashes his strings while at the same time he blasts delicate and futuristic sounds and tones in Pythagorean Solids, with his harsh gnarls and whimsical keys being in absolute sync form start to finish, whereas in Introduction to Numbers we’re treated to one minute of madness flowing from his keys before all hell breaks loose in Numbers, reminding me of some of his oldest creations in terms of fury and heaviness, blending old school Black Metal with tons of progressiveness and the gentleness of Jazz. In other words, this is a full-bodied creation that lives up to Goatchrist’s own legacy, and undoubtedly one of the best moments of the album.

Then we have Harmony of the Spheres, a somber, atmospheric and minimalist composition that works like an extended bridge to Metempsychosis, bringing forward elements from the Stygian music by Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Rotting Christ, with the hellish growls by Jacob matching perfectly with the instrumental pieces and also presenting a lot of groove flowing from his wicked bass lines and intricate piano notes. And lastly, The Death of Pythagoras is a very introspective tune spiced up by deep, dark lyrics (“Then the sun will set over Croton, / The folk tire of his ways – of his ways. / The greatest mind in all of time, / Approaches the end of his days – of his days. / Enemies travelled in the dead of night, / To the meeting house in Milo, setting it alight.”) and nuances of R&B and Indie Rock in the vocal lines, and if you are a patient person simply wait for a while as after a few minutes of silence Jacob offers us all nothing more, nothing less than his own bizarre and fun “cover” version for American singer Billie Eilish’s hit Bad Guy. I bet you’ll be surprised with the final result of this moment of relaxation by Mr. Guilherme.

As already mentioned, I’m quite happy and excited with the return of Jacob Guilherme to the world of extreme music under his one-man army Goatchrist, and let’s hope the feedback he receives from metal fans like us is enough to inspire him to release more and more Goatchrist albums in the future, always dealing with the most diverse and interesting themes like what we see in Pythagoras. Hence, don’t forget to show him your support by following Goatchrist on Facebook, and by purchasing Pythagoras from his own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Amidst the seriousness of all the metaphysical and occult philosophies by Pythagoras there’s still room for the crushing and experimental sounds of Black Metal, and fortunately we have Mr. Jacob Guilherme to channel that amalgamation of styles and topics through his inner beast Goatchrist, exactly how underground extreme music is supposed to be.

Best moments of the album: Worlds, Pythagorean Solids and Numbers.

Worst moments of the album: Harmony of the Spheres.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. The Initiation of Pythagoras by Thoth Hermes Tresmegistus 1:12
2. Worlds 8:44
3. The Tetractys 4:00
4. Pythagorean Solids 4:19
5. Introduction to Numbers 1:01
6. Numbers 5:45
7. Harmony of the Spheres 4:14
8. Metempsychosis 8:28
9. The Death of Pythagoras / Bad Guy (Billie Eilish cover) (Hidden track) 10:50

Band members
J. Guilherme – vocals, all instruments

Guest musicians
V. Calin – lead guitar on “Worlds”, vocals (chorus) on “The Death of Pythagoras”
D. Tann – vocals on “Worlds”

Album Review – Vesperith / Vesperith (2019)

Experimental, intuitive, abstract and futuristic. This is Vesperith.

Experimental, intuitive, abstract and futuristic. That’s what an Experimental Black Metal one-woman project hailing from Tampere, a city in southern Finland, that goes by the stylish name of Vesperith, has to offer us all with her debut full-length self-titled opus, or as Vesperith herself likes to call it, get ready for an entrancing tempest of “Experimental Audiovisual Mysticism” made in Finland. Co-produced by Oranssi Pazuzu mainman Jun-His, Vesperith is the brainchild of the multi-talented artist Sariina Tani, former vocalist for Finnish Progressive Gothic/Melodic Doom Metal band Reveries End, who’s not only responsible for all vocals and instruments in her debut album, but also for the songwriting, lyrics, artwork and animation, channeling the depths of the cosmos through the vessel of Vesperith by fusing music, art and theosophy to otherworldly, meditatively chaotic dark radiance.

Musically speaking, Vesperith sounds and feels like a cosmic marriage of Björk meets Swans via Emperor (and we can also add Myrkur and Burzum to this amalgamation of sounds and styles), mirroring the duality of light and darkness and meditating on the nature of shadows and emptiness. “This new album is a pilgrimage to the abyss. For many, shadows, darkness, emptiness or void are almost stigmatized as evil, bad or scary, but I see almost heartbreaking beauty, light and infinity there,” explained the enchanting Sariina, with her album of entrancing astral visions certainly being one of the deepest, darkest things to come out of Finland in a while, therefore deserving your undivided attention. From atmospheric drones, screeching distortion and a mesmerizing ambience, Vesperith is a conduit for the chaotic harmony of the universe that suddenly blows up into euphoric phoenix-like waves of bewitching guitars and hypnotic siren song, inviting you to join Sariina in her whimsical journey to infinity.

Cosmic waves and hypnotizing sounds permeate the air from the very first second in the opening track The Magi (the “wise men” from the East who brought gifts to the infant Jesus), before the angelical vocalizations by Sariina penetrate deep inside our minds like a tribal initiation to her ethereal world, working as an extended and enfolding intro that keeps growing in intensity and “invades” the following tune titled Fractal Flesh, where you can sense Sariina is about to unleash an endless amount of energy at any moment. That indeed ends up happening after around two and a half minutes in an explosion of Black Metal infused with experimental and atmospheric elements, not to mention Sariina’s devilish harsh vocals, which feel bestial and obscure while at the same time very delicate. And if you thought the two previous songs were already very eccentric get ready for Refractions, a Dark Ambient extravaganza where Sariina’s anguished roars emerge from the very depths as a sonic refraction pierces our ears and minds beautifully.

The musical experimentation by Sariina gets even more unique in Valohämärä, which should translate from Finnish as “twilight”, once again presenting stunning vocal lines by our skillful one-woman army amidst an overdose of doom-ish beats and serene background keys and tones. Furthermore, she fires her most demonic, she-wolf gnarls of the entire album and in her mother tongue, just to make things even more enthralling, dismantling our senses with her visceral sonority. Then you better be prepared to have your senses heightened with over ten minutes of an incredible journey through the realms of Experimental Black Metal entitled Quintessence, where Sariina will put you on a fantastic trance with her gorgeous vocals in an enfolding atmosphere perfect for gazing at the stars before an onrush of blackened sounds and hellish growls crushes your soul mercilessly, slowing things down gradually until imposing sounds crush our psyche in the closing tune Solar Flood, perhaps the most atmospheric and gentle of all tracks in Vesperith. All we have to do is close our eyes, free our minds from any dark thoughts, and let Sariina mesmerize us all with her otherworldly vocal lines until the song’s very last second.

If there’s one amazing thing that truly stands out in Vesperith, that is certainly how the music flows smoothly and flawlessly from start to finish, building a very detailed connection from track to track and, consequently, making the album feel like one single (and wonderful) entity. For instance, last week, more precisely on November 8, Sariina hosted a pre-listening party at the Helsinki Ursa observatory, where the lights were dimmed and the album was listened in full in the dark while the attendants could also watch the stars (and the event was also streamed live through the Svart Records’ YouTube channel, by the way), showing how important it is to listen to Vesperith as a whole without interruptions and with the only “distraction” being the charming lights up in the sky. Also, with a lineup of cohorts gathered around her, Sariina will also take Vesperith to the stages of Europe during the end of this year and into 2020, and if you want to know more about such distinguished artist, her tour dates and other nice-to-know details, go check what she’s up to on Facebook and on Instagram, and obviously buy your copy of Vesperith from the project’s own BandCamp page, from the Svart Records’ webstore, or simply click HERE for all locations where you can purchase and listen to Vesperith. Sariina and her Vesperith are not only the future of atmospheric heavy music, but a journey though space and time that should definitely be appreciated by anyone who loves music, nature and the stars, especially if all at once.

Best moments of the album: Fractal Flesh and Quintessence.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Svart Records

Track listing
1. The Magi 8:57
2. Fractal Flesh 6:37
3. Refractions 4:35
4. Valohämärä 7:51
5. Quintessence 10:31
6. Solar Flood 7:27

Band members
Sariina Tani – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Ploughshare / Tellurian Insurgency EP (2019)

Feeding on sickness, unbearable oppression and blind violence, here comes a cryptic Australian entity armed with their new EP blending a multitude of influences and sounds.

Feeding on sickness, unbearable oppression and blind violence, the brand new EP by Australian Black/Death Metal entity Ploughshare, entitled Tellurian Insurgency, is the perfect depiction of what this mysterious band hailing from Canberra, the capital city of Australia, stands for, always with open arms to a multitude of influences and sounds in order to serve a greater purpose, including Black, Death and Doom Metal mixed with Noise Rock, Post-Punk and even the darkest offshoots of Electronic Ambient. In the span of a little over 22 minutes, Ploughshare’s music flows impetuous and intense in Tellurian Insurgency, the natural follow-up to their 2018 full-length album In Offal, Salvation. Recorded and mixed by Elliot Johnson and Max Napier, mastered by MR and featuring a demonic artwork and layout by JR and RT, the new EP by this idiosyncratic Australian horde is not an easy listen at all for the average rock and metal fan, representing the band’s urge to reinvent themselves and bring something new to the listener with each and every album released, never sticking to a specific formula or style. “Ploughshare is what occurs when we come together as a band,” they explain. “We all bring material, but this will always undergo transformation once we’re together. The music emerges contingently, and in a manner that makes it impossible to inscribe our wills into it. We might all contribute, but we are equally all caught up in it.”

Ominous noises explode into sheer madness and chaos in the opening track Abreactive Trance, a demented voyage through the realms of Experimental Black Metal showcasing enraged vociferations, slashing guitar riffs and infernal blast beats, reeking of desperation and insanity while the music lives up to the legacy of modern-day extreme music. Then we have Indistinguishable Beast of Flight, even more experimental and progressive, with its vocal lines reaching a new level of dementia while the guitars sound utterly strident and piercing, or in other words, get ready for a multi-layered metal extravaganza that will please all fans of heaviness and noise, all spiced up by the gargantuan amount of intricacy flowing from the song’s beats and fills. In Offal, Salvation (Andrew Nolan Re-mix), a new and interesting version for the title-track of their 2018 full-length opus, the disturbing and roaring sounds blasted by the band are infused with electronic noises and tones, resulting in a fresh and futuristic musical experiment albeit a the same time maintaining the core violence of the original version, whereas Xeno-Chemical Insider is another eerie composition by the band that sounds a lot more electronic than metal, which I’m pretty sure was the band’s original goal with this song.  Simply close your eyes and let Ploughshare penetrate deep inside your skin with their deranged screams, rhythmic beats and endless obscurity until the song’s ethereal and somber finale.

Although Ploughshare might be considered an unknown creature by many, you can still get in touch with them on Facebook to let them know how crazy you think their music is, and in order to show your support to this eccentric squad hailing from Australia you can purchase Tellurian Insurgency directly from their own BandCamp or from several other locations in different formats, such as the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp, the Brilliant Emperor Records’ BandCamp and Big Cartel, and the Metal Odyssey webstore. It’s almost impossible to predict what’s next for Ploughshare, but judging by the creativity and cohesiveness of the music found in the short but extremely diverse and thrilling Tellurian Insurgency, we can rest assured those metallers from Down Under won’t stop impressing us with their demented creations in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Indistinguishable Beast of Flight.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 I, Voidhanger Records/Brilliant Emperor Records/Night Rhythms Recordings

Track listing
1. Abreactive Trance 6:16
2. Indistinguishable Beast of Flight 5:22
3. In Offal, Salvation (Andrew Nolan Re-mix) 6:01
4. Xeno-Chemical Insider 4:10

Band members
*Information not available*

Guest musician
VS – additional vocals on “Abreactive Trance”