Metal Chick of the Month – Heike Langhans

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The shackles of your demons fall silent… The shackles of your demons fall…

It’s time for the skies to get dark and melancholic here on The Headbanging Moose thanks to the doomed music blasted by our metal lady of the month of May, and I bet you’ll get absolutely addicted to her music right after the very first listen (in case you know nothing yet about her and her bands and projects, of course). Though of German descent, she was born on February 9, 1988 in Cape Town, a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, and currently resides in Sweden, where she joined Swedish Doom Metal band Draconian as the replacement to former singer Lisa Johansson in 2012. I’m talking about the multi-talented Heike Langhans, a songwriter, singer and designer well known for her work in the Gothic and metal scenes, always exploring a vast array of styles including Dark Wave, Electronic and Gothic Rock, among several others, therefore conquering the blackened hearts of the damned ones.

Drawn to melancholy Gothic music during her teenage years, Heike Langhans (which correct pronunciation is ‘hey-keh’ and ‘lung [the organ] – huns [like guns]’, as it’s a German name) began to dabble in composition, writing and singing at a very young age, already being part of school choirs at the age of eight, although she got sick of singing in groups, left that behind and started doing her own thing. She played piano occasionally, but mostly played classical guitar, which helped a lot in her writing process, and used to sing with her father when he played guitar at social gatherings. Heike joined her first band when she was around 15 years old, an all-girls band comprised of friends of her that was mainly a fun holiday thing, while she kept doing music on her own until she joined a proper band at the age of 19. Needless to say, she kept doing her own thing on the side to stay focused and as an outlet for her frustrations with the world and her surroundings.

Active since 2005, our South African started her career being associated with a few distinguished projects and bands, those being her Dark Electronic solo project :LOR3L3I:, South African Symphonic Metal band Inferium, and South African Black/Thrash Metal band Warthane, with her vocals being known to be sorrowful and her music peculiar and melancholic in nature. Regarding :LOR3L3I: (also known as LOR3L3I, LORELEI, or simply Lorelei), everything started back in 2006 as a melancholic electronic side project, with the name Lorelei having almost acted as an alter ego in a sense. According to Heike herself, the songs are raw and unpolished, a “spur-of-the-moment” type project where she just pours her heart into a song, record it and then struggle to touch it again, and you can take a very good listen at all her demos on her official BandCamp page, savoring delicate creations such as Jade Light and Fables. “I’ve said many times that I will never be able to sing these songs live, simply because I’ll be too emotional. It’s hard for me to wear my heart on my sleeve sometimes, so music is the only way. Lorelei is definitely my outlet and it’s quite revealing in many ways. Many people think me intimidating and secretive, but I’m more of an open book than what they care to realize,” commented Heike about her solo endeavor.

Inferium and Warthane are completely different stories, as they were already relatively established bands when Heike joined them. Under the moniker Heike Van Dominic, she was Inferium’s vocalist from 2005 until 2010, joining the band when they were still an instrumental group. They were the only band she knew doing Symphonic Metal at that time, with a huge influence from bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation. She said in one of her interviews that the band had a lot of potential and that they were doing quite well, but as they had a lot of issues with finding time and money to record and push it further they decided to call it quits in 2010. “I’ll always remember and enjoy my time in Inferium and I’ll forever be sad about the stellar songs that were to come, but it’s a sweet memory,” said Heike. Right after Inferium disbanded, more specifically in 2011, our diva, again under the name Heike Van Dominic, recorded the female vocals for the album Black Divine, by Warthane, which you can enjoy in its entirety on Spotify. Not only that, she also used her graphic designer skills to create the album’s stylish, somber artwork, proving how focused and talented she is it doesn’t matter which band or project she’s involved with.

Since 2012, Heike has been acting as the singer for Swedish Gothic/Doom Metal act Draconian, a cult band that started back in the already distant year of 1994 as Kerberos, playing Melodic Heavy and Death Metal with Black Metal influences, changing its name to Draconian around seven months after its inception. Heike joined the band following the departure of singer Lisa Johansson in 2011 after having made contact with guitarist Daniel Arvidsson, then with vocalist Anders Jacobsson to try an audition in Sweden. At first, she struggled to get a work visa in Sweden, which hampered the band’s ability to record an album, and until obtaining the visa she performed as a temporary singer for Gothic Rock band The Great Sleep in South Africa, as you can see for example in the song The Last Funeral. At the end of 2013, she finally received her work visa and was able to emigrate to Sweden, when she started working with Draconian while at the same time she started playing as a guest singer, guitarist and keyboardist in 2015 for Swedish Doom Metal band ISON, a side-project of Daniel Änghede (of Crippled Black Phoenix and Hearts of Black Science). She mentioned her main reasons for joining ISON were being able to play an instrument again like what she used to do in her teens, and putting a part of her own soul into it within a genre that was not electronic. You can have a very good taste of the music by ISON on their BandCamp page, with their first three albums having Heike on vocals, those being Cosmic Drone, Andromeda Skyline and Inner Space, or go to YouTube and search for their official videos such as the one for the song ISAE, as well as other precious gems like the duo playing a stunning acoustic version for The Final Cut by Pink Floyd (and you can compare their beautiful rendition with the original one HERE).

Finally, in 2015 Heike was able to record her first album with Draconian, by the way the sixth in the band’s career, the excellent Sovran, which she was not only responsible for the female vocal parts, but she also collaborated on writing the lyrics for tracks Dusk Mariner, Dishearten and The Marriage of Attaris, showing how easy it has been for Heike to connect with everyone at Draconian. “When I came to Sweden, I thought it would be very intimidating to have to all of a sudden be in this professional studio and work with world-class producers, and I underestimated myself a lot. But once I actually started doing it, I realized I was completely over-thinking everything. The guys were really laid back and easy to work with,” commented Heike. Then in 2020 she released with Draconian their second opus together, entitled Under a Godless Veil, where once again she was responsible for part of the lyrics, more specifically for the lyrics for the song Sleepwalkers, on top of her usual vocal duties. She also mentioned in one of her interviews that her work with Draconian hasn’t had any negative impact on her solo project :LOR3L3I: so far; quite the contrary, several Draconian fans kept writing her and asking her to continue to create music under her solo project, although she said nowadays she doesn’t have enough time to focus on that. It doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan of Draconian or a newcomer to their doomed world, you must check all of their official videos on YouTube such as the ones for the songs Sorrow Of Sophia, Sleepwalkers, Lustrous Heart, The Sacrificial Flame, Moon Over Sabaoth and Stellar Tombs, all of their creations on Spotify, as well as live footage the likes of Pale Tortured Blue live at MS Connexion Complex in Mannheim, Germany in 2019, and simply get lost in their realm of melancholy.

Apart from all of those previous and current bands and projects, you can also enjoy Heike’s unique voice as a guest vocalist in several other bands from all over the world. For instance, she played live with Finnish Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal band Hallatar in 2018, with whom she also recorded vocals for the song My Mistake and narrations for the songs Raven’s Song, Pieces and Spiral Gate from their 2017 album No Stars Upon the Bridge; she was a guest vocalist in the song Vision VII: One with the Soil from the 2017 album Visions, by Austrian Post-Black Metal act Anomalie; she also recorded the female vocal parts for the song The Path to Puya, from the 2019 album Aamamata by Spanish Doom/Gothic Metal act Helevorn; and vocals for the song Wolves at the Border, from the 2015 album Signal, by Swedish duo Hearts of Black Science. Not only that, Heike also did the layout and band photos for the 2020 album Premonitions, by International Epic/Atmospheric Black Metal band Sojourner, and was responsible for the vocals, keyboards, songwriting, lyrics, vocal recording, artwork, layout and design in the 2020 album Another World, by International Atmospheric Doom Metal band Light Field Reverie.

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When asked about her main idols and influences in music, Heike said it’s actually hard to pinpoint influences because many of her personal likes are not in any genres considered as Gothic in modern terms. However, the bands she related to early on would be Fields of The Nephilim, The Awakening, Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, Type O Negative, Dead Can Dance and Lycia, to name a few. In addition, as far as more modern Goth-inspired music goes, she has spent a great deal of time listening to Diary Of Dreams, Tiamat, Tristania, Paradise Lost, Anathema, Sins Of Thy Beloved, Katatonia, Draconian, and of course My Dying Bride. She said her passion for metal started when she was a teenager, as she used to get her father’s Pink Floyd and Meat Loaf CD’s and listen to them on repeat in her room while singing along, also watching renowned acts like Black Sabbath on VH1 and taping whatever metal she could find onto VHS or cassette. By the time she was 16, she was consuming a lot of metal from all sub-genres, gradually focusing on what suited her best emotionally speaking like Gothic, Symphonic and Doom Metal, only getting into Black Metal in her 20’s, but of course the emotional aspect and the melodies found in Doom Metal turned it into her all-time favorite genre as it certainly triggers a lot more in her personally.

In regards to touring, Heike said in one of her interviews she would love to tour around a South America, South Africa and Australia with Draconian, understanding that requires a lot of traveling and a huge investment, of course. “I look forward to traveling to countries to enjoy the scenery, food and people. The music is just our way of saying thank you for having us. It would feel slightly selfish to think our music is what made the show worth it, if you know what I mean,” complemented Heike, who also has a deep connection with the metal scene in her homeland. “Despite what most South Africans make themselves believe, Cape Town actually has a great metal scene and more bands than you might think. I can count on one hand the amount of friends I have there who ISN’T a musician. It’s a very creative and beautiful town.” She recommends Atmospheric Black Metal band Crow Black Sky, 2017 Battle for Wacken winners Megalodon, scene-legend Industrial Metal band Terminatryx and a few new-comers such as Constellatia as excellent bands from her beautiful country (and city) that we should all take a listen at.

Moving from South Africa to Sweden wasn’t an easy task for Heike, as it took around 19 months for her to receive her residence permit renewal in Sweden due to the country dealing with an influx of refugees. Based in Säffle, a municipality in Värmland County in west central Sweden, with the rest of the band since December 2019, Heike said she obviously misses Cape Town, her friends, the forwardness of people, Afrikaans jokes and Afrikaans words that you really can’t say anywhere else, but of course that she loves Scandinavia and that her head and her heart are in the North. Her Swedish might not be perfect yet, but her Afrikaans (Dutch) and German background ended up helping her a lot in understanding the language in the beginning, and she’s picking it up quite fast in her own opinion. She also commented about the fact that a lot of people in Sweden and in different parts of the world keep asking her why she’s white, which she believes that happens due to the idea the media sells that everyone in the African continent is black, complementing by saying she usually takes the opportunity to explain how things really work in South Africa.

Lastly, although Heike seems to be an unstoppable music-making machine, she’s just a regular human being like all of us who has her favorite hobbies and pastimes when she’s not singing, recording or performing on stage. As an avid gamer, she said she loves playing World of Warcraft and old school RPG’s the likes of Icewind Dale, Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights and Lionheart, as well as newer games like Skyrim, but of course she spends a great amount of time doing art, mostly digital and editing. There are days when she doesn’t want to deal with technology and she focuses of drawings and illustrations by hand, though. She also enjoys painting and photography, albeit she considers those quite expensive hobbies, and sewing, showing how versatile and talented she is. Furthermore, Heike is a big supporter of the Ubuntu Liberation Movement in South Africa, the Venus Project and the Zeitgeist Movement, always focusing on human liberation and free energy. “I will not eat or drink anything that comes from big corporations. Yes it’s difficult, but I refuse to support them. I also don’t eat meat any more, and I don’t really care what people have to say about that. I think that once people really put in the time and effort and research, not only from a health or principle perspective, but from an environmental perspective, they will realize that there is a lot that they are not being told. If they want to follow all the bullshit lies in the industry, then fine. But I will actively be against that. That’s what I think being an activist is about,” said our dauntless diva, and you can know a lot more about Heike, her bands, projects and so on by watching several online interviews with her, such as this one at FemME 2015 and this one for Metal & High Heels in 2019, letting her smooth and enchanting words and her undeniable charisma penetrate deep inside your doomed soul.

Heike Langhans’ Official Facebook page
Heike Langhans’ Official Instagram
Draconian’s Official Facebook page
Draconian’s Official Instagram
Draconian’s Official Twitter
:LOR3L3I:’s Official Facebook page

“I love slow and melancholic music. It brings my inner suffering to the surface and Doom Metal makes me feel like it’s okay to be an emotional being that suffers in this strange world.” – Heike Langhans

Metal Chick of the Month – Cammie Gilbert

Holding on to everything you say… Cause’ your words they paint a picture of me…

In a very difficult year where the world sadly witnessed an increase in violence and racism against black people, and of course the more-than-necessary rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in their fight for freedom, liberation and justice, we at The Headbanging Moose want to share with all of you our humble tribute to another black woman who has been brilliantly fighting all that racism and showing to the world black women have their place in heavy music, just like other rock and metal divas who have already been honored here on our webzine like Melissa Bonny, Militia Vox, Alexis Brown, Thalìa Bellazecca and Kayla Dixon. I’m talking about the multi-talented and gorgeous vocalist and songwriter Cammie Gilbert, the stunning frontwoman for American Progressive Rock and Metal act Oceans of Slumber, a band that has already been labeled by many as “Opeth or Katatonia with female vocals”, but that in my opinion managed to craft their own sound and style, embellishing the airwaves with their delicate but at the same time scorching creations.

Born on October 8, 1987 in Shepherd, a city located in San Jacinto County, Texas, in the United States, Cammie joined Houston, Texas-based Oceans of Slumber at the age of 27, more specifically in the year of 2014 after the departure of the band’s former vocalist Ronnie Allen, who had been with the band since their inception in 2011. Cammie, who’s by the way on a solid and healthy relationship with the band’s founder, drummer and pianist Dobber Beverly, the sole reminiscent of their original lineup, became the primary songwriter for the group after joining, having already released with Oceans of Slumber the EP Blue, in 2015, followed by the full-length albums Winter (2016), The Banished Heart (2018) and more recently Oceans of Slumber (2020), all available for a full listen on Spotify. You can enjoy tons of amazing official videos of Cammie and Oceans of Slumber kicking some serious ass on their YouTube channel, including the songs The Decay Of Disregard, Pray for Fire, The Colors of Grace, The Adorned Fathomless Creation, Winter, To the Sea (A Tolling of the Bells), The Banished Heart, Strange Fruit, Suffer The Last Bridge, a cover version for Candlemass’ Solitude, an acoustic version for Turpentine, and a live in the studio version for the song This Road.

Currently comprised of the aforementioned Cammie and Dobber together with keyboardist Mat V. Aleman and newcomers Jessie Santos and Alexander Lucian on the guitars and Semir Ozerkan on bass, Cammie said that the band’s former guitarists Sean Gary and Anthony Contreras and bassist Keegan Kelly wanted to explore different influences and styles which never fit with what Oceans of Slumber were doing at that time, the kind of tension that’s absolutely normal, but she also said there were tensions as soon as she got into the band, resulting in a split between the former members not wanting to be “female fronted”. “There is a certain metal crowd that thinks its a gimmick. I’m not growling, I just sing clean and am emotional, but a lot of male singers have that emotion too. There’s just stigmas that make anything a woman does, the wrong thing for metal. We had a couple of those old school attitudes and transition wasn’t their strong suite,” mentioned Cammie in one of her interviews.

Apart from her years with Oceans of Slumber, Cammie is also the lead singer for a Houston, Texas-based project called Genoa Band together with Dobber and guitarist Christian Larson, another branch from Oceans of Slumber’s musical tree drawing upon the lyrical and atmospheric production of bands and artists like Nick Cave, Portishead and This Mortal Coil while still sounding heavy but more intimate, playing a fusion of styles such as Southern, Gothic and Dark Rock. However, there’s nothing officially released by the band and no news since mid-2019 when they announced their first single Paraffin was almost ready to be released, making me think if they gave up the idea of moving forward with the project due to everything that has been going on with Oceans of Slumber, including the recording and release of their 2020 self-titled album. You can also find Cammie as a very special guest in the 2020 album Transitus, by Dutch Progressive Metal/Rock project Ayreon, playing the part of Abby throughout the entire album. “We met a friend of Arjen Lucassen over in the UK and he was interviewing us and asked if there was anything that we wanted to tell Arjen. And so Dobber is like, ‘Yeah, if he could get any of us on an album, we’re big fans, and if you could have him listen to The Banished Heart, that’d be great.’ And so he followed through with that request. Shortly after that Arjen wrote that he loved The Banished Heart and he would love to work with me someday. And we were like, ‘Yeah, of course that’d be great.’ And then maybe a couple more months after that, it was, ‘You want to be on the album?’ And I peed my pants,” commented Cammie about her collaboration with one of her idols in heavy music.

When asked to make a list of the top 10 albums that changed her life, Cammie listed a collection of albums that usually occupy a dark corner of her mind where often emotions outweigh the heaviness of the music, including 40 Watt Sun’s 2011 EP The Inside Room, Agnes Obel’s 2013 album Aventine, Alice In Chains’ 1992 album Dirt (which by the way reminds her why she loves the kind of music that she makes), Anathema’s 2012 album Weather Systems, Eivør’s 2015 album Slør, Evergrey’s 2016 album The Storm Within, Katatonia’s 2016 album The Fall Of Hearts, Swallow The Sun’s 2015 triple album Songs From The North I, II & III, Agents Of Oblivion’s 2000 self-titled album, and last but not least, Type O Negative’s 1996 masterpiece October Rust. “I love Peter Steele. We love Type O Negative, there’s  just nothing like it. We go through a lot of his albums but that’s the main one for me. I love Cinnamon Girl, Be My Druidess and also Wolf Moon. Dobber saw them live once. Super jealous. I’ve just had to make up for it by reading the autobiography, and he buys everything he can as far as media regarding the band. It’s an experience to go through their songs. He [Peter Steele] is such a clever lyricist. It’s the funniest kind of music I feel like I listen to. It brings up my energy and makes me happy,” commented our talented vocalist about the unparalleled work by Mr. Peter Steele (R.I.P.).

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In one of her interviews, when questioned about the lack of more black women in heavy music, Cammie said that it’s due to a multitude of reasons, including sexist comments saying that her voice would fit pop or hip hop music much better than metal, and that clean singing that isn’t symphonic is connotated to sounding pop, which might influence the decision of a black woman to move towards a soul, gospel, R&B or blues direction. Cammie herself was basically told to sing in hip hop or pop and to never go anywhere near rock and metal, but no one ever told her why except for the preconceptions already mentioned. “And what Dobber heard in my voice and what he heard from me… I’m a very melancholy person. I’m in and out of bouts of depression and what I identify with metal and metal-adjacent music is, what I identify with the music that I find, if it makes me, if I’m already sad and it makes me sadder then I’m like, “This is going on a playlist.” And I like things that give me these, not give me these dark feelings, but validate my dark feelings, because I feel like that helps me release them,” said Cammie, also saying that she feels that’s changing as there are more and more alternative black and black metalhead females out there. For instance, her own parents were extremely religious, not allowing her to listen to extreme styles like Death Metal or Grindcore, but that’s different now as younger black kids and people in general can have access to all types of metal music through their phones, for example.

When questioned about the Black Lives Matter movement, racism and if metal has a problem with racism, she said that racism is everywhere, and that it’s something more people have to unlearn than they realize, especially in America. Despite being fortunate enough to not experience too many issues related to racism since joining Oceans of Slumber, she stated that she can no longer approach this subject without a multitude of emotions overtaking her resolve, nor keep the angry tears from welling up and pouring out of her eyes when black senators, mayors, celebrities and brave people online share their frustrations over America’s shortcomings. She feels like her history and the entire country are broken, with George Floyd’s death being a tipping point or a catalyst for a new generation to finally say enough is enough due to the undeniable ruthlessness in which his life was taken. “When you think about the history of America, there’s very little that’s good for anyone who isn’t white. That’s just the truth. It leaves a hollow feeling in your chest taking this information in from so many different outlets. You realize this country isn’t fixing something, it’s letting something go,” complemented Cammie about such delicate matter, also saying that in the days ahead we face the challenge of putting these emotions into goal-focused actions.

Lastly, always evolving as a vocalist and always ready to experiment with her music, Cammie is more than sure Oceans of Slumber are already starting to break out of the Progressive Rock and Metal scene, letting her inspirations guide her music and warning people who already like the band that they’ll have to let go of any expectations for what comes next, leaving us curious to see what the future holds for her and for Oceans of Slumber. Furthermore, as the fantastic vocalist  that she is, Cammie surely misses the stage and performing live to the band’s fans and to newcomers to their progressive world, and they’re already thinking of ways of getting back onstage in Houston obeying all recommended protocols of social distancing to keep everyone safe, including obviously all band members. And, of course, all of us fans of a good fusion of progressiveness, emotions and heavy music can’t wait to see Cammie back to where she belongs, mesmerizing us all with her powerful voice and showing us all black girls can and will forever rock no matter what.

Cammie Gilbert’s Official Instagram
Oceans of Slumber’s Official Facebook page
Oceans of Slumber’s Official Instagram
Oceans of Slumber’s Official Twitter
Oceans of Slumber’s Official YouTube channel

“I am a black woman in America and I am the great, great granddaughter of slaves. Memories upheld only in photographs; as a little girl I would try to imagine what their lives were like. But as it goes, reality unravelled the mystery behind my childish imagination. Now when I see old photos in civil war documentaries, I see their faces. When I watch the grainy black and white footage depicting the Jim Crow era, I see their faces. When I watch the films of the marches inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., I see their faces. And now when I sign into social media and see protestors getting tear-gassed, I see their faces, only now mine is there too.” – Cammie Gilbert

Album Review – Darzamat / A Philosopher at the End of the Universe (2020)

Let one of the best Polish metal bands of all time take you on a one-way journey to the end of the universe with their highly anticipated fifth full-length opus, showcasing their unique fusion of heavy music, philosophy and witchcraft.

It might have taken excruciating 11 years for Katowice, Poland-based Symphonic Black/Gothic Metal outfit Darzamat to stun us all once again with their fusion of heavy music, philosophy and witchcraft, but fortunately the wait is finally over with the release of the beautifully titled A Philosopher at the End of the Universe, the fifth full-length album in the career of such distinguished band that has been worshiped by fans from all over the world since their inception in the distant year of 1995. Produced, mixed and mastered at Gorycki & Sznyterman Studio in Krakow, Poland by Jarosław “Jaro” Baran, one of the most successful Polish music producers of all time, together with Grzegorz Sznyterman, A Philosopher at the End of the Universe is a concept album picking up the story right where its predecessor Solfernus’ Path, released in 2009, left off, including a fragment of a story straight from a classic Gothic novel written by the band’s vocalist and mastermind Rafał “Flauros” Góral together with his poet friend, prose writer and linguist Jesion Kowal, all of course spiced up by the darkly enthralling vocals by frontwoman Agnieszka “Nera” Górecka, the guitars by Chris, the bass by Markus and the drums by session musicians Icanraz and Kamil Bagiński.

An atmospheric, cryptic intro title Reminiscence opens our minds to the dark and visceral music blasted by Darzamat in the title-track A Philosopher at the End of the Universe, where the mesmerizing vocals by Nera make a beautiful paradox with the harsh gnarls by Flauros while Chris embellishes the airwaves with his melodious riffs and solos. Then we have Running in the Dark, spearheaded by the thunderous bass by Markus and blending Gothic Rock and Metal with modern-day Rock N’ Roll while acid poetry flows from Flauros’ demonic roars (“I take upon my shoulders the weight of the world / Blood and ugliness, bitterness and pain / Death, mourning, sadness and deep shadow / Still the world is hard to accept”), followed by Thoughts to Weigh on Farewell Day, starting in a truly menacing way thanks to the Stygian guitar lines by Chris and the infernal growling by Flauros and evolving into a Symphonic and Progressive Gothic Metal feast for admirers of the genre. And Nera once again captivates our senses with her unique voice in The Tearful Game, while the music remains as ethereal and enfolding as possible, or in other words, a metal version of a witchcraft ritual, also showcasing intricate and fierce beats from start to finish.

Investing in a more aggressive but still very atmospheric sonority, the band fires a lesson in contemporary Gothic Metal entitled The Sleeping Prophet, where the lyrics are once again stunningly declaimed by Nera (“The icon of Man on the monument of the world I am / Mors rules the land on the other side of darkness / The serpent is arisen in my breast / I curse and feel when God deserts me”), whereas in Clouds Clouds Darkening All the band sounds like a hypnotizing hybrid of Moonspell and Type O Negative, with all scorching riffs and fast-paced beats providing Flauros and Nera all they need to shine with their “darkness and light” vocal duet. Their second to last ode to obscurity, The Great Blaze, begins in a sexy and heavy manner with Nera distilling her Medusa-inspired vocals while Chris slashes his guitar in great fashion, alternating between somber moments and sheer melancholy, before Darzamat puts a climatic ending to the album with The Kaleidoscope of Retreat, highly inspired by the Gothic movement from the 80’s and 90’s, and with a huge focus on Nera’s enfolding vocal lines, therefore leaving us eager for more of the music by this new era of one of the best Polish metal bands of all time.

I truly hope Darzamat do not take another decade to release a new album, but as we never know what musicians like Flauros and Nera have in mind and what direction they want to take in their careers, let’s enjoy the moment and appreciate the first-class fusion of Symphonic Black and Gothic Metal from A Philosopher at the End of the Universe by streaming the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course by purchasing it from Daramat’s own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Those Polish metallers are also waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, ready to invite you to their coven and to take you on a melodic and Gothic journey to the end of the universe with their breathtaking new album, consequently (and hopefully) pointing to a busy and prolific period for the band in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: A Philosopher at the End of the Universe, The Sleeping Prophet and Clouds Clouds Darkening All.

Worst moments of the album: Thoughts to Weigh on Farewell Day.

Released in 2020 TuneCore/Szataniec

Track listing
1. Reminiscence 1:41
2. A Philosopher at the End of the Universe 4:28
3. Running in the Dark 4:30
4. Thoughts to Weigh on Farewell Day 4:17
5. The Tearful Game 5:26
6. The Sleeping Prophet 3:54
7. Clouds Clouds Darkening All 4:39
8. The Great Blaze 4:15
9. The Kaleidoscope of Retreat 5:43

Band members
Nera – vocals
Flauros – vocals
Chris – guitars
Markus – bass
Jacek Gut – drums (live)

Guest musicians
Icanraz – drums (session)
Kamil Bagiński – drums (session)

Album Review – Invernoir / The Void and the Unbearable Loss (2020)

Succumb to the fusion of the Doom, Death and Gothic Metal sounds found in the first full-length opus by an Italian act that perfectly represents the coldness of anguish and pain.

Born from the desire to revive the fusion of Doom, Death and Gothic Metal sounds of the 90’s taking inspiration from the best albums of bands like My Dying Bride, Anathema, Katatonia and Paradise Lost, Rome, Italy-based project Invernoir is cold and decadence, the anguish due to the awareness of not having a goal, the lack of answers, apathy and pain. Comprised of Alessandro Sforza (Ars Onirica) on harsh vocals, guitars, drum programming and cymbals, Lorenzo Carlini (Black Therapy) on clean vocals and guitars, and Valerio Lippera (Lykaion) on bass, Invernoir have been making a name for themselves since their inception in 2016, having already played alongside amazing bands such as Candlemass, Ahab, Skepticism, Shores of Null, Naga and Weeping Silence, and now two years after their debut four-track EP Mourn this dark and talented Italian triumvirate (now a quartet with the recent addition of drummer Flavio Castagnoli to their lineup, by the way) returns with the bold and atmospheric The Void and the Unbearable Loss, not only their first ever full-length effort, but an album that will surely carve the word “doom” in the blackened hearts of fans of the genre from all over the world.

It’s a grey, rainy and bleak day, the perfect ambience for Invernoir to captivate our senses with the title-track The Void and The Unbearable Loss, slowly growing in intensity until their sluggish beats and piercing guitars permeate the air for our total delight, followed by The Path, sounding less doomed and a lot more inclined to Gothic Metal than its predecessor. Furthermore, Alessandro and Lorenzo are once again precise with their riffs while alternating between their anguished roars and gloomy clean vocals, while Valerio blasts his bass with tons of groove. Then get ready for a somber and heavy-as-hell hybrid of traditional Doom Metal with Blackened Doom and Gothic Metal entitled House of Debris, perfect for breaking your neck headbanging in solitude while Alessandro screams like a demonic entity. And more melancholy in the form of first-class Doom Metal is offered by Invernoir in Suspended Alive, showcasing truly deep and obscure lyrics (“The purest form of pain / I saw it before it was born / The purest form of pain / A frame / Of what it was / And yet not”), smashing drums and endless agony flowing from their riffs.

Investing in a much more atmospheric and melodious sound, with Lorenzo taking the lead with his passionate clean vocals, Cast Away is another dense and introspective fusion of Melodic Doom Metal and Gothic Rock by this talented Italian trio, and they continue their downward spiral into madness and obscurity with the hammering Doom Metal feast titled The Burden, displaying a great job done by all three band members with their stringed weapons, therefore offering both Alessandro and Lorenzo all they need to sing and gnarl in anger. After such dense sonority, a strident riff kicks off the brutal, slow-paced At Night, presenting the band’s most damned side and reminding me of some of the creations by the iconic Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride in what’s probably their rawest and most visceral of all songs, before they come ripping with one more of their Stygian voyages through the realms of gothic and doom in The Loneliest, where Lorenzo is spot-on with his clean vocals by generating an amazing paradox with the harsh growls by Alessandro, always supported by the minimalist, thunderous bass by Valerio. Put differently, they couldn’t have ended the album in a more beautiful way.

This fantastic and somber gem of Italian gothic and doom can be fully appreciated on YouTube and on Spotify, and if you’re curious to know more about the guys from Invernoir, their music and their plans for the future you can start following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course purchase The Void and the Unbearable Loss from their own BandCamp page, from Funere’s BandCamp page or from the BadMoodMan Music’s BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music, Amazon and Discogs. As aforementioned, the new album by Invernoir is highly recommended for lovers of the melancholy blasted by the titans of the genre like My Dying Bride and Katatonia, proving once again why Italy has become (and will always be) a reference in underground doom.

Best moments of the album: Suspended Alive and Cast Away.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Funere/BadMoodMan Music

Track listing
1. The Void and The Unbearable Loss 7:03
2. The Path 7:02
3. House of Debris 5:57
4. Suspended Alive 5:37
5. Cast Away 7:09
6. The Burden 5:28
7. At Night 6:08
8. The Loneliest 7:00

Band members
Alessandro Sforza – harsh vocals, guitars, drum programming, cymbals
Lorenzo Carlini – clean vocals, guitars
Valerio Lippera – bass

Album Review – Memoira / Carnival of Creation (2020)

Combining a symphonic atmosphere with beautiful female vocals, this Finnish Gothic Metal outfit is back after a long hiatus with their third (and amazing) full-length album.

Known for their melancholic melodies and powerful guitar riffs, while combining a symphonic atmosphere with beautiful female vocals, Pori/Jyväskylä, Finland-based Symphonic Gothic Metal act Memoira is back after a long hiatus with their third full-length album, entitled Carnival Of Creation, the follow-up to their 2008 self-titled debut album and to their 2013 release Memories, Tragedies, Masquerades. Featuring a dark and melancholic artwork by Finnish artist Niina Varheenmaa, Carnival of Creation is highly recommended for fans of the music by Kamelot, Nightwish and Delain, among others, showcasing all the passion for the darkest and most delicate side of metal by founding members Jani Puusa on the guitars and Lassi Nuolivaara on keyboards and piano, together with newcomers Annika Jalkanen (For Selena and Sin, Blood Region) on vocals, Hannu Lindholm (The Howl) on the guitars, Niko Laaksonen (Randy Reckless, Blowtorch, Rorschach) on bass and Matti Virtanen (Dark Tone Company, Concrete Words, Anomaly) on drums.

And the gentle piano notes by Lassi intertwined with the enfolding voice by Annika set the tone in the charming opening track Dawn of Time, a very pleasant fusion of Gothic Metal and modern Hard Rock to properly kick things off in Carnival of Creation, followed by the title-track Carnival of Creation, bringing forward circus-inspired keys, potent beats by Matti and a strong symphonic vibe, with the band’s guitar duo Jani and Hannu keeping the ambience as dense and electrifying as possible through their riffs. Then get ready for over six minutes of adrenaline and groove in Queen Element, where sheer poetry flows from Annika’s mesmerizing vocals (“First rays of the sun awake the sleeping land / The roots of the bitter earth shall guide her hand / She pours the wine, sweet taste of divine”) while Niko pounds his bass in great fashion accompanied by the kick-ass drums by Matti; whereas sounding like a symphonic and delicate 80’s-inspired version of the Melodic Metal played by Stratovarius, Hunter’s Moon will please all fans of Scandinavian metal, with Lassi being in absolute sync with Niko and Matti, therefore generating a bold and gripping atmosphere.

Dark Passenger is an embracing metal waltz by Memoira that will penetrate deep inside your soul, with Annika once again stealing the spotlight with her dark and gentle vocals while her bandmates provide her a beautiful wall of sounds perfect for her to shine even brighter; and clearly inspired by the trademark sonority by Nightwish, Shooting Star reminds me of one of their greatest classics “Nemo”, with Niko bringing the groove with his rumbling bass. Put differently, it couldn’t have sounded more pleasant nor more atmospheric, which is also the case in Snowglobe, another gentle composition by Memoira with Annika taking the lead once again accompanied by the melancholic and smooth piano notes by Lassi, resulting in a lecture in Gothic Rock and Metal made in Finland. Last but not least, it’s time for a thrilling fusion of Gothic and Symphonic Metal in Crimson Bride Symphony, where all band member are on absolute fire, especially Jani and Hannu with their precise riffage, while Annika invites us all to dance to Memoira’s top-of-the-line music.

In a nutshell, Carnival of Creation, which is available for a full listen on Spotify, will undoubtedly take Memoira back to the position they deserve in the world of heavy music as one of the most interesting and talented bands from the Finnish Gothic scene, and if you want to show your support to such amazing band from the land of ice and snow you should follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and of course grab your copy of the album from their own webstore, from the Inverse Store, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Memoira seem to be back for good, inviting us all to join them in their dark and atmospheric carnival of Symphonic Gothic Metal, with their new album pointing to a bright and thrilling future ahead of those skillful Finnish rockers.

Best moments of the album: Dawn of Time, Queen Element and Crimson Bride Symphony.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Dawn of Time 5:52
2. Carnival of Creation 5:54
3. Queen Element 6:12
4. Hunter’s Moon 5:15
5. Dark Passenger 6:16
6. Shooting Star 5:45
7. Snowglobe 6:50
8. Crimson Bride Symphony 7:50

Band members
Annika Jalkanen – vocals
Jani Puusa – guitar
Hannu Lindholm – guitar
Lassi Nuolivaara – keyboards, piano
Niko Laaksonen – bass
Matti Virtanen – drums

Album Review – Paradise Lost / Obsidian (2020)

The overlords of doom return with another majestic album, exploring the unknown and opening new horizons with their awe-inspiring music.

Still reigning supreme as the overlords of doom after over three decades on the road, Halifax, England-based Doom Metal act Paradise Lost never gets tired of stunning us all with their refined hybrid of old school Doom and Death Metal with 80’s and contemporary Gothic Metal and Rock, proving why they’ve maintained their relevance in the world of heavy music without disappointing their loyal fans not even once in their vast career. Now in 2020 it’s time for frontman Nick Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, bassist Steve Edmondson and drummer Waltteri Väyrynen to darken the skies once again with Obsidian, their sixteenth studio album and the follow-up to their latest releases Medusa, from 2017, and The Plague Within, released in 2015. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Orgone Studios, with additional recordings done at Black Planet, and featuring a cryptic artwork by British artist Adrian Baxter, Obsidian might not be considered a classic yet like Gothic, Icon or Draconian Times, but I’m sure the album will reach its deserved cult status soon based on the amazing quality of the music found throughout its 47 astonishing minutes (plus the extra 10 minutes from the deluxe edition).

The gorgeous guest violin by Spanish musician Alicia Nurho adds a touch of finesse to the opening track Darker Thoughts, led by the always enfolding, deep vocals by Nick, sounding utterly grandiose, epic and doomed, and with Waltteri displaying all his refined skills behind his drum set. Then in Fall from Grace the band keeps slamming our heads mercilessly with their crushing riffage and damned beats, all led by Nick’s obscure roars while Steve makes the earth rumble with his bass (not to mention Greg’s hypnotizing solo), whereas Steve kicks off the 80’s-inspired dark tune titled Ghosts, enhanced by a brilliant performance by Nick with his Stygian vocals while his bandmates bring endless groove and electricity to the song from start to finish. And bringing forward contemplative lyrics that reek of modern-day poetry (“I’m tired of dreams, I’m tired of almost everything / Dreams deceive and living never lasts. / Too tired to sleep, denial of grief awakes my sins / Too weak to breathe, from living in deaths hands”), The Devil Embraced is another lesson in Gothic and Doom Metal spearheaded by Waltteri’s classic drums and the strident riffs by both Greg and Aaron.

Ominous sounds embellish the ambience in the also somber and heavy-as-hell Forsaken, where Nick is once again flawless on vocals supported by the slashing guitars by Greg and Aaron, while Steve and Waltteri sound absolutely thunderous with their respective instruments. After such dense tune, it’s time to bang our heads in darkness to the sound of Serenity, a hammering fusion of Doom and Death Metal tailored for admirers of the genre, also presenting some welcome breaks and variations, tons of progressiveness and the always macabre roars by Nick, followed by Ending Days, where Alicia returns with her gentle violin while the band gets back to a more serene and melancholic vibe, showcasing all their versatility and talent. Furthermore, the impact of the guitars and drums combined to the overall result is majestic, which can also be said about Hope Dies Young, featuring backing vocals by American singer Heather Mackintosh (Tapping the Vein), a very pleasant and enfolding sonority, and another round of their unique and stylish lyrics (“How could you know? / As pure as driven snow / Through a winter of descent / The splintered argument / Such a withering lament / Hopes will die young / Hopes will die young now”). The last song of the regular version of Obsidian, titled Ravenghast, brings to our ears a classic Paradise Lost sound, reminding me of some of their old school compositions from Draconian Times, with the level of heaviness and melancholy being beautifully insane while Waltteri blasts his drums in the best Doom Metal way possible and Nick fires his deep, demonic growls. If you decide to purchase the deluxe edition of Obsidian you’ll face the bonus tracks Hear the Night and Defiler, both very solid and classy Doom Metal compositions presenting all the elements we learned to love form the band’s distinguished music, making it totally worth the investment.

I guess I don’t need to ask you to take a good listen at Obsidian in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, especially if you’re a diehard fan of the band, and of course don’t forget to keep the fires of doom burning by purchasing your copy of the album by clicking HERE, and to follow Paradise Lost on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. If you search for the meaning of “obsidian” online, you’ll find out it’s a volcanic glass that’s supposed to be truth-enhancing, a strongly protective stone which forms a shield against negativity, blocking psychic attack and absorbing negative energies from the environment. Obsidian draws out mental stress and tension, stimulating growth on all levels, urging exploration of the unknown and opening new horizons. There couldn’t be a better representation of the new album by Paradise Lost, as their brand new opus is indeed a work-of-art perfect for heightening our senses and opening our minds and hearts for the glory of doom.

Best moments of the album: Darker Thoughts, Ghosts, Serenity and Ravenghast.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Darker Thoughts 5:46
2. Fall from Grace 5:42
3. Ghosts 4:35
4. The Devil Embraced 6:08
5. Forsaken 4:30
6. Serenity 4:46
7. Ending Days 4:36
8. Hope Dies Young 4:02
9. Ravenghast 5:30

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
10. Hear the Night 5:34
11. Defiler 4:45

Band members
Nick Holmes – vocals
Greg Mackintosh – lead & rhythm guitar
Aaron Aedy – rhythm guitar
Steve Edmondson – bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums

Guest musicians
Alicia Nurho – violin on “Darker Thoughts” and “Ending Days”
Heather Mackintosh – backing vocals on “Hopes Die Young”

Album Review – Witches Of Doom / Funeral Radio (2020)

Turn up the volume to 666 on your (funeral) radio and let one of the best Italian covens of all time embrace your soul with their undisputed rock and metal music.

It has been truly exciting to witness the rise and evolution of Rome, Italy-based Goth-Stoner-Doom Metal outfit Witches Of Doom since their inception in 2013, starting with their 2014 debut album Obey, followed by their 2016 sophomore installment Deadlights, and now with their third full-length opus titled Funeral Radio, by far their most cohesive and strong album to date. Currently comprised of frontman Danilo “Groova” Piludu, guitarist Federico “Fed” Venditti, and newcomers Saiax on bass and Francesco Ciacciarelli on drums (although the bass and drums in the album were recorded by Jacopo Cartelli and Luca Iovieno, respectively), the band offers in Funeral Radio everything a fan of the music by renowned acts like Danzig, Type O Negative, Black Sabbath, Joy Division and Moonspell can ask for. Recorded and mixed at Hombre Lobo and DaBox Studios in Rome, featuring a stylish artwork by Italian artist Carlo Muselli and keyboards by guest Fabio Reeks Recchia, Funeral Radio will paint new dark scenarios standing at the deep heart of each listener, showcasing all the passion this Italian institution nurtures for somber and heavy music.

Jacopo ignites the band’s doomed party with his rumbling bass in Master Of Depression, accompanied by the piercing riffs by Federico and the always mesmerizing and groovy-as-hell vocals by Danilo, exhaling the essence of everything the Witches Of Doom stand for, whereas the sluggish Doom Metal beats by Luca dictate the rhythm in the sexy and inebriate Coma Moonlight, spiced up by the stunning keys by Fabio and, consequently, living up to the legacy of amazing bands like Type O Negative and HIM, not to mention Fed’s awesome guitar solo as the icing on the cake. Then venturing through the realms of Gothic and Stoner Metal we have Queen Of Suburbia, where Fed leads his bandmates with his heavy and precise riffage while Danilo showcases another deep and vibrant vocal performance, with the keys by Fabio taking you back to the glory of the 90’s. And a Tarantino-inspired intro evolves into a damned and dark feast in the title-track Funeral Radio, where Danilo’s cryptic vocals match perfectly with the scorching riffs by Fed and the thunderous bass punches by Jacopo.

Enhancing their heaviness and leaning towards 90’s Gothic Rock and Metal, the band blasts the insanely catchy and fun Sister Fire, where Danilo and Fed are in absolute sync with their respective vocals and riffs, resulting in the perfect choice for an incendiary Rock N’ Roll party; and sounding like the soundtrack to an underground cult movie, mellow vocal lines and classy guitars dictate the rhythm in Ghost Train while Fabio keeps embellishing the airwaves with his keys, bringing an extra touch of melancholy to such dark and hypnotizing tune. November Flames offers the listener another blast of obscure and grim sounds inspired by the golden years of Gothic Rock, with Luca delivering a mix of Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll through his beats accompanied by the slashing riffs by Fed, sounding fast and melodic just the way we like it. Lastly, an atmospheric start led by Jacopo’s metallic bass gradually morphs into another hybrid of Gothic and Doom Metal titled Hotel Paranoia, putting a climatic and thrilling end to the album and flowing darkly and powerfully until its Stygian finale.

As already mentioned, Funeral Radio, which is available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, is undoubtedly the strongest and most diverse album to date by the Witches Of Doom, and in order to show your appreciation for such talented and obscure Italian coven don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course to add the album to your goth-rock collection by purchasing it from their official BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy and/or stream the album). In other words, put on some Witches Of Doom on your (funeral) radio, turn up the volume to 666, and let their delicious and dark music embrace you like there’s no tomorrow.

Best moments of the album: Coma Moonlight, Queen Of Suburbia and Sister Fire.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 My Kingdom Music

Track listing
1. Master Of Depression 4:42
2. Coma Moonlight 4:45
3. Queen Of Suburbia 4:45
4. Funeral Radio 6:54
5. Sister Fire 4:55
6. Ghost Train 4:16
7. November Flames 5:59
8. Hotel Paranoia 7:29

Band members
Danilo “Groova” Piludu – vocals
Federico “Fed” Venditti – guitars
Saiax – bass
Francesco Ciacciarelli – drums

Guest musicians
Fabio Reeks Recchia – keyboards
Jacopo Cartelli – bass (session)
Luca Iovieno – drums (session)

Album Review – Nicumo / Inertia (2020)

Let’s explore the vast and melancholic lands of Melodic Gothic Metal and Rock together with five talented Finnish musicians and their breathtaking new album.

Formed in 2007 in Ylivieska, a town and municipality of Pohjois-Pohjanmaa, Finland, the talented Melodic Gothic Metal/Rock institution known as Nicumo returns with another blast of their stylish “Melancholic Metal” in Inertia, the third full-length album in their solid career. Recorded and mixed by Olli Tainio at Joshua Music, mastered by Svante Forsbäck at Chartmakers Mastering, and featuring guest saxophonist Mikko-Ilari Ojala, Inertia will guide through vast and melancholic lands together with lead singer Hannu Karppinen, guitarists Atte Jääskelä and Tapio Anttiroiko, bassist Sami Kotila and drummer Aki Pusa, keeping the band’s momentum going after the releases of their 2013 debut album The End of Silence and their 2017 sophomore effort Storms Arise. “Inertia continues kind of naturally from where our second album Storms Arise left. Atmosphere is even deeper and more intense than in previous albums. We have grown as a band during these years of course, and I believe that it can be heard on this album. Songs are more solid and thoughtful entities, composed by needs of the song. Sound-wise this album is most experimental in our discography. Saxophone and even concrete floor played with drumsticks can be heard from the album just for an example,” commented Aki about the band’s newborn spawn.

In the awesome opening track Three Pyres a melancholic and somber Gothic Rock-infused start gradually evolves into a feast of deep, dark vocals by Hannu and the delicate but piercing guitar lines by Atte and Tapio, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the music by HIM with a more obscure vibe, and we’re all invited to dive into the band’s Melodic and Gothic Metal waters in Dark Rivers, with the band’s guitar duo crushing their strings mercilessly while Aki dictates the song’s pace alternating between faster beats and more rhythmic passages. In Same Blood, a stunning ballad with the band’s guitar duo embellishing the airwaves with their solos together with Mikko-Ilari and his saxophone, Hannu darkly declaims the song’s introspective words accompanied only by acoustic guitars at times, whereas in Witch Hunt their music leans towards classic Melodic Metal, but of course bringing the band’s darker sounds. Moreover, Hannu delivers more of his enraged growls while Sami keeps blasting his rumbling bass nonstop, keeping the album’s Gothic flame burning bright.

Then alternating between thunderous sounds and cryptic, melancholic moments the band brings forward the captivating Tree of Life, where Sami once again delivers tons of groove through his bass while Hannu’s crisp vocals are effectively supported by all background elements, followed by Mother and the Snake, even more enfolding and atmospheric, with Atte and Tapio cutting our skin deep with their wicked riffs and solos while Hannu once again shines with both his clean vocals and deep roars. After such powerful display of Gothic Metal, get ready to dance and bang your heads to the sound of Who You Are, an amazing tune showcasing Hannu’s most visceral growls and the band’s characteristic, slashing guitar lines and spot-on drums; and venturing through the realms of old school Gothic Rock and Metal we have Time Won’t Heal, as melancholic as the best creations by Ville Valo and his HIM, displaying inspiring guitar lines and an embracing ambience that provide Hannu all he needs to thrive on vocals once again. Finally, closing such beautiful album of melancholic music we have Black Wolf with its almost seven minutes of serene passages and heavy riffs, darkening our hearts (in a good way, of course) and flowing like the unruly waters of a Stygian river until its climatic finale.

In short, Inertia is a very entertaining, pleasant and solid album of Melancholic Metal tailored for admirers of such distinct style, inviting the listener to join Nicumo in darkness and savoring every single moment of the album together with them. Hence, let’s show our utmost support to those Finnish metallers by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by listening to more of their music on YouTube and on Spotify, and above all that by buying your copy of inertia from Nicumo’s official BandCamp page, from the Inverse Store, from Record Shop X or from Discogs, and may the breathtaking and somber music by Nicumo serve as the soundtrack to your most serene and melancholic moments in life.

Best moments of the album: Three Pyres, Same Blood and Mother and the Snake.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Three Pyres 3:57
2. Dark Rivers 4:38
3. Same Blood 4:20
4. Witch Hunt 4:41
5. Tree of Life 5:12
6. Mother and the Snake 3:55
7. Who You Are 4:32
8. Time Won’t Heal 3:46
9. Black Wolf 6:55

Band members
Hannu Karppinen – vocals
Atte Jääskelä – guitars
Tapio Anttiroiko – guitars
Sami Kotila – bass
Aki Pusa – drums

Guest musician
Mikko-Ilari Ojala – saxophone

Album Review – Chotzä / Tüüfuswärk (2020)

Succumb to the anti-social fusion of Black Metal and Black N’ Roll blasted by this infernal horde from Switzerland.

Formed as a side-project in 2011 in the city of Bern, on the German-speaking side of Switzerland, with the aim to create anti-social Black Metal and Black N’ Roll, the unstoppable and blasphemous unity known as Chotzä (which means “to vomit” in Swiss-German) is ready to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their third full-length opus, entitled Tüüfuswärk, the follow-up to their previous installments Plump u Primitiv, released in 2014, and Bärner Bläck Metal Terror, released in 2017. Apart from their frantic and aggressive sonority, perhaps one of the main ingredients in the music by Chotzä is the fact that all of their songs are sung in “Bärndütsch”, which is one of many existing Swiss-German dialects, allowing the wicked music crafted by lead singer Szivilzs, guitarists Gruäbähung and Raven Dust, bassist Näbugring, pianist Leopold and drummer Cpt. Cunt to sound even more organic, visceral and austere than what they would ever sound in English, and as a fan of extreme music I must say their dialect blends extremely well with their vicious Black Metal.

Featuring guest vocalist Herr Morbid (also known as Ferdinando Marchisio) of Italian Black Metal band Forgotten Tomb, the opening track Dräck am Schtäckä (Vatikan Version) presents a wicked intro that quickly explodes into berserk, blasphemous extreme music led by the devilish roars by Szivilzs while Raven Dust and Gruäbähung cut our skin deep with their infernal riffage, followed by Schtächzähni, as fast and demonic as its predecessor, with Cpt. Cunt dictating the rhythm with his Punk Rock/Hardcore-infused beats while the guitars bring a welcome Thrash Metal twist to the overall result, not to mention how Näbugring keeps the atmosphere dense with his wicked bass lines. And blending old school Black Metal with the Rock N’ Roll blasted by bands like Motörhead, Misfits and Danzig we have Horrorotika, where the sound of guitars will pierce your mind mercilessly and the backing vocals provide an amazing support to Szivilzs in this ode to blasphemy, sex and horror.

In Sex, Suff & Satan, what starts in a sinister, introspective way morphs into a mid-tempo Symphonic Black Metal aria led by Leopold and his Stygian piano notes, also presenting slashing guitar solos and bringing some welcome elements from Gothic Rock and Doom Metal, whereas our beloved Swiss horde speeds things up and enhance their already insane level of rage in Fiesä, Fulä Fettsack, where Szivilizs barks the song’s cryptic lyrics manically while Cpt. Cunt keeps smashing his drums like a beast, resulting in another sensational fusion of the band’s core Black Metal with the most vicious form of Rock N’ Roll. And leaning towards a more classic version of Black Metal, especially due to Cpt. Cunt’s blast bats and fills, Süüchägott showcases the band’s dynamic guitar duo firing lancinating, hellish riffs for our total delight while Szivilzs continues with his demonic vociferations.

Abfau brings forward an onrush of darkened sounds, infernal screams and endless wrath, or in other words, it’s ruthless Black Metal infused with Doom Metal nuances, with Gruäbähung and Raven Dust once again crafting pulverizing riffs and solos; and Leopold comes ripping with his phantasmagorical keys in Ds Tanzgebei, a fun (and somewhat dancing) Black Metal extravaganza where all band members sound bestial and electrifying form start to finish, keeping the album at a high level of dementia. Then get ready for battle to the sound of Fotzä, smashing our heads with an avalanche of blackened sounds and sulfurous growls, while Cpt. Cunt gives a lesson in Black Metal drumming. And last but not least, we’re treated to the rebellious and dense title-track Tüüfuswärk with its eight minutes of extreme and vile sounds, where the band’s stringed trio keeps hammering their axes with tons of precision and violence, all spearheaded by Szivilzs and his trademark gnarls.

The gates to the underworld are open in Switzerland thanks to the incendiary music blasted by Chotzä in their newborn spawn Tüüfuswärk, and if you want to show your support to such demented Black Metal horde you can follow them on Facebook to know more about their music, their concerts and other nice-to-know details about the band, and purchase your copy of the album from Northern Fog Records (CD), Sturmglanz (vinyl) or Worship Tapes (cassette). It’s truly impressive how those Swiss metallers are capable of blending the most hellish elements form a myriad of styles like Black Metal, Rock N’ Roll and Hardcore without sounding confusing or disorganized; quite the contrary, the music by Chotzä is absolutely furious, cohesive and thrilling, just like what we can see in Tüüfuswärk, showing us all this six-piece horde of darkness will still haunt our soul for years to come with their dark-as-the-night creations.

Best moments of the album: Dräck am Schtäckä (Vatikan Version), Horrorotika and Fiesä, Fulä Fettsack.

Worst moments of the album: Sex, Suff & Satan.

Released in 2020 Northern Fog Records/Sturmglanz/Worship Tapes

Track listing
1. Dräck am Schtäckä (Vatikan Version) 3:44
2. Schtächzähni 5:59
3. Horrorotika 4:28
4. Sex, Suff & Satan 6:15
5. Fiesä, Fulä Fettsack 4:47
6. Süüchägott 2:48
7. Abfau 7:11
8. Ds Tanzgebei 5:07
9. Fotzä 5:56
10. Tüüfuswärk 8:06

Band members
Szivilizs – vocals
Raven Dust – guitars
Gruäbähung – guitars
Näbugring – bass
Leopold – piano
Cpt. Cunt – drums

Guest musician
Herr Morbid – vocals on “Dräck am Schtäckä (Vatikan Version)”

Album Review – Lindsay Schoolcraft / Martyr (2019)

Renowned Canadian keyboardist and vocalist Lindsay Schoolcraft will take you on a very entertaining journey through the realms of Gothic Rock and Metal in her debut solo album.

An accomplished singer, songwriter, harpist, and pianist in her own right, Canadian keyboardist and vocalist Lindsay Schoolcraft (Cradle of Filth, Antiqva, The Astroplex, Daedalean Complex) is about to release her debut solo album entitled Martyr, a very entertaining feast of Gothic Rock and Metal recommended for admirers of the dark music played by bands like Evanescence and Nightwish, while  Cradle of Filth enthusiasts will certainly enjoy hearing this darkly romantic side of Schoolcraft’s music. Hailing from Oshawa, a city on the Lake Ontario shoreline, Lindsay is not only deeply proud of her Canadian roots, but she’s also a declared fan and a connoisseur of all things rock and metal, making us at The Headbanging Moose really proud of her development and growth as a musician, and with Martyr being the perfect depiction of all her dedication and passion for heavy music.

Produced, engineered, and mixed by Tyler Williams of Monolithic Productions, mastered by Lasse Lammert, and featuring a classy cover artwork by Anastasia Solti and logo by Lindsey Márton, Martyr is Lindsay’s personal tribute to rock and metal, channeling her years of experience as a musician and as a human being into ten original composition written by Lindsay herself together with American multi-instrumentalist Rocky Gray (Living Sacrifice, Evanescence, We Are the Fallen, Soul Embraced, Machina), who’s also responsible for all guitars, bass and drums in the album. Not only that, Martyr also brings an array of very special guests, including Xenoyr, vocalist for Australian Extreme Progressive Metal band Ne Obliviscaris, and who also plays with Lindsay in her Black Metal project Antiqva, adding an extra touch of darkness to Lindsay and Rocky’s goth-rock extravaganza.

Somber piano notes and a modernized vibe set the tone in Saviour, with Rocky slashing his strings before Lindsay comes ripping with her Amy Lee-inspired vocals in a top-notch Gothic Rock and Metal exhibit by our beloved Canadian musician, and a delicious feeling keeps permeating the air in Dangerous Game, where Lindsay not only does a great job on vocals, but her trademark keys also bring a nice touch to the music. Moreover, Rocky and his low-tuned bass punches sound as thunderous as they can be, adding the word “Gothic” to the final result. Stranger is even more delicate than its predecessors, but still presenting the electricity of Gothic Rock, and you can sense elements from bands like Evanescence, The Cure and Depeche Mode in the music; and her smooth piano notes keep dictating the rhythm in Into The Night, where it’s impressive how Lindsay can sound so gentle and dark at the same time (maybe a “side effect” of her years with Cradle of Filth), offering us all a ballad perfect for enjoying together with your loved one.

Can we call Blood From A Stone a Gothic, darker version of Enya, mainly due to the gorgeous way Lindsay declaims the song’s touching lyrics? Put differently, let Lindsay and her serene vocals and piano mesmerize you for over five minutes, which is also the case in the cinematic Dawn, where Lindsay is unstoppable with her melancholic piano notes in this ethereal and almost instrumental composition. Then supported by the innocent voices from a children’s choir, Lindsay’s keys get more piercing while Rocky brings heaviness to the musicality with his riffs and (programmed) beats in Remember, whereas in the metallic and gracious See The Light it’s time to put the pedal to the metal, reminding me of some of the best creations by UK’s Industrial Rock/Metal band Lahannya, featuring nonstop drums and the guttural vocals by guest Xenoyr, bringing the “beast” to the music while Lindsay obviously represents the “beauty”.

Where I Fall, another touching ballad by Lindsay, is perfect for soothing your soul on a cold and dark night, bringing to our ears spot-on piano notes and keys, whereas My Way Without You, featuring guest Lauren Francis (Devilment) on backing vocals, is almost just a “vocal and piano” song, showing how much Lindsay loves this variation of Gothic Rock. And last but not least, although the whole album is amazing, I must admit her version for The Cure’s dark classic Lullaby (you can check the original version HERE) is beyond hypnotizing,  and I’m sure Robert Smith is proud of Lindsay not only for the amazing job she does on the piano, but especially by the way she declaims the song’s wicked lyrics with so much feeling.

As already mentioned, we at The Headbanging Moose couldn’t be happier and prouder of Lindsay Schoolcraft and her newborn spawn Martyr, and if you also want to show your sincere support to such talented Canadian woman you should definitely follow her on Facebook, subscribe to her YouTube channel, listen to more of her music on Spotify, and purchase Martyr (anytime soon) and all of her other releases from her own BandCamp page. In a nutshell, Martyr a a more-than-enjoyable album of rock and metal music, and let’s hope it inspires Lindsay to keep releasing albums under her solo career for years to come and, consequently, to visit your city or town in a not-so-distant future for live performances, embellishing the airwaves with her undeniable talent and charisma.

Best moments of the album: Saviour, See The Light and Lullaby.

Worst moments of the album: Dawn.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Saviour 4:17
2. Dangerous Game 4:35
3. Stranger 4:15
4. Into The Night 5:02
5. Blood From A Stone 5:03
6. Dawn 3:10
7. Remember 4:01
8. See The Light 3:47
9. Where I Fall 4:48
10. My Way Without You 4:48
11. Lullaby (The Cure cover) 4:32

Band members
Lindsay Schoolcraft – vocals, piano, harp
Rocky Gray – guitars, bass, drum programming

Guest musicians
Spencer Creaghan – orchestrations
Matthew Van Dreil – additional orchestrations
Vassilis Thomas – Orthodox chant on “Saviour”
David Michael Moote – Gregorian chant on “Saviour”
Chanel Martins – support with children’s choirs on “Dangerous Game”, “Warm Me” and “Remember”
Xenoyr – guest vocals on “See The Light”
Lauren Francis – backing vocals on “My Way Without You”