Album Review – Svartulven / Ruins of Desolation, Transcendence for the Other Side (2021)

Immerse yourself into the 40 minutes of Orthodox Black Metal split into seven obscure arias carefully crafted by an up-and-coming horde from the Hellenic Republic.

3.5rating

If you’re an admirer of the darkest side of extreme music it’s time for you to enjoy some Orthodox Black Metal made in Greece in the vein of Misotheist and Ascension, courtesy of an occult and mystic entity known as Svartulven armed with their debut opus entitled Ruins of Desolation, Transcendence for the Other Side. Mixed by Nikos Trialonis at Goblin’s Lair Studios in Greece, mastered by V.Santura at Woodshed Studio in Germany, and displaying a cryptic cover artwork by Adrian Baxter, the album brings forward 40 minutes of ass-kicking Black Metal split into seven obscure arias carefully crafted by this up-and-coming horde from the Hellenic Republic.

Arising from the depths of the underworld, this uncanny band comes ripping with their phantasmagorical sounds in Witness of Fire Beyond, with its venomous roars and strident riffs penetrating deep inside your psyche in a great display of sulfurous Black Metal, whereas Svartulven in Twilight begins in full force with its pounding drums hammering our cranial skulls mercilessly, also displaying an amazing fusion of visceral screams with some background vocalizations and, therefore, being highly recommended for fans of a more progressive and diverse style of Black Metal. And continuing their path of devastation, obscurity and evil, Svartulven deliver the straightforward extravaganza Therianthropic Metamorphosis, again presenting classic blast beats, Stygian guitars, low-tuned bass lines, and a crushing sense of despair that permeates the air until the very last second.

The Parable of Abel offers us all five minutes of sheer darkness in the form of old school Black Metal, or in other words, it’s another amazing example of what the band is capable of doing, with the song’s razor-edged riffs generating a pulverizing paradox with its groovy bass jabs. Back to a more classic sound, Herald of Eternal Damnation presents a mid-tempo start spearheaded by their always harsh vociferations that explodes into an avalanche of brutality and violence, resulting in a lecture in Black Metal by such talented Hellenic outfit. Their second to last onrush of extreme music comes in the form of Feast for the Black Earth, again showcasing a heavier-than-hell kitchen, a sinister atmosphere and sharp riffs for our total delight, before the band crushes us one last time with The Crystal Scythe of the Old, a beyond caustic composition where its wicked vocals and a disturbing ambience will haunt our damned souls until all fades into the unknown.

The gates to the Hellenic underworld are open thanks to Svartulven and their Ruins of Desolation, Transcendence for the Other Side, and in order to join them in their quest for extreme music you can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and soon purchase a copy of their austere new album from Dark Terror Temple’s BandCamp page or webstore, proving you’re a true servant of darkness. Although the names of the musicians that are part of such distinguished horde are unknown, in the end that’s just a minor detail taking into account the high quality of the music found in their debut effort, and they can keep their identities as secret as they want as long as they keep delivering more of their incendiary Black Metal for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Svartulven in Twilight and Herald of Eternal Damnation.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Dark Terror Temple/The Chalice Prod

Track listing
1. Witness of Fire Beyond 7:01
2. Svartulven in Twilight 4:59
3. Therianthropic Metamorphosis 6:30
4. The Parable of Abel 5:15
5. Herald of Eternal Damnation 4:19
6. Feast for the Black Earth 4:35
7. The Crystal Scythe of the Old 6:01

Band members
*Information not available*

Album Review – Yoth Iria / As The Flame Withers (2021)

Dark, diabolical, and majestic while taking a fresh look into 90’s Greek Black Metal with a nostalgia of the past and a twist into the future. That’s what these infernal veterans have to offer in their newborn spawn.

Forged in the fires of Athens, Greece in 2019 by bassist Jim Mutilator, a founding member of legendary Greek Black Metal band Rotting Christ, and vocalist The Magus, who formed Necromantia in 1989 together with Baron Blood (R.I.P.), one of the most influential and avantgarde bands of the scene, Hellenic Black Metal outfit Yoth Iria is an amalgam of the influences and visions of its creators, sounding dark, diabolical, emotional, powerful and majestic while taking a fresh look into 90’s Greek Occult Black Metal with a nostalgia of the past and a twist into the future. Now in 2021, the duet which developed and pioneered the underground scene back in the day is ready to crush our souls with their first full-length album, titled As The Flame Withers. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Pentagram Studio by Yoth Iria and George Emmanuel (Rotting Christ, Septicflesh, Lucifer’s Child), and displaying a Stygian artwork by Indian artist Harshanand Singh, As The Flame Withers represents everything this primeval entity stands for, supported by guest musicians George Emmanuel on the guitars, John Patsouris on keys and J.V. Maelstrom (Dephosphorus, Nigredo) on drums, dragging the listeners into the pits of the underworld and keeping them there forever in pitch black darkness.

The Children of Bodom-inspired riffage by George kicks of the melodic and infernal The Great Hunter, bringing to our ears old school Norwegian Black Metal blended with the epicness of Behemoth and Rotting Christ, whereas mesmerizing, imposing sounds permeate the air in the insane title-track Yoth Iria, showcasing beyond obscure lyrics growled by The Magus (“For aeons he laid dormant / speaking through dreams / conspiring in visions / watching from his Throne / Arch-Priest and King / of the Seven Hells / The Highest of Angels / the Brightest of them all”) while his bandmates keep the atmosphere as heavy and somber as possible. Then it’s time for George and Jim to slash their respective guitar and bass in the very melodious but of course heavy-as-hell Hermetic Code, a very atmospheric creation by the band offering our ears a good dosage of Doom Metal added to their core ferocity; and arising from the pits of the underworld like a demonic entity, The Magus and Jim bring forward Demonaz-inspired vocalizations and dirty, rumbling bass lines in The Mantis, with the background keys by John Patsouris sounding insanely epic while J.V. Maelstrom hammers his drums mercilessly.

In the excellent The Red Crown Turns Black we face more of their blasphemous lyrics (“From the deserts of Saturn / and the depths of the Abyss / the General of Chaos / the Devourerof Souls”) while the music sounds like a demonic fusion of Behemoth, Immortal and Children of Bodom, with George being once again sensational with his wicked riffs and solos, and rocking guitars and classic beats ignite the Stygian extravaganza titled Unborn, Undead, Eternal, reminding me of some of the most recent creations by Rotting Christ, with The Magus gnarling like a creature from the netherworld nonstop. The second to last explosion of their Ritualistic Black Metal comes in the form of Tyrants, where The Magus’ roars are effectively supported by the hellish kitchen by Jim and Maelstrom, resulting in another doomed, thunderous aria blasted by this talented Greek horde, while Jim continues to smash his bass in the closing tune The Luciferian, accompanied by the grim guitars by George. Once again blending old school Black Metal with Doom Metal and more contemporary styles, the song unfortunately loses its grip after a while, albeit nothing that could do any harm to such powerful album.

In the end, As The Flame Withers, which is by the way available for a full listen on YouTube, is exactly what such prominent duo from the Greek Black Metal scene is saying the album is, an ode to the early days of the genre without sounding outdated, tiresome nor bland at all. Hence, if you want to explore their obscure realm in more detail and stay updated with all things Yoth Iria, you can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course purchase your copy of As The Flame Withers from the Pagan Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (including the CD and black LP versions of the album), as well as from Record Shop X. It’s indeed a true pleasure witnessing two trailblazers of the Greek Black Metal scene generating such infernally dark music with so much punch and potency even after all these decades on the road, proving once again extreme music can be a true fountain of youth for many, while the flames of Black Metal keep burning the souls of the unbelievers for all eternity.

Best moments of the album: Yoth Iria, The Mantis and The Red Crown Turns Black.

Worst moments of the album: The Luciferian.

Released in 2021 Pagan Records

Track listing
1. The Great Hunter 4:24
2. Yoth Iria 5:41
3. Hermetic Code 6:34
4. The Mantis 7:19
5. The Red Crown Turns Black 6:26
6. Unborn, Undead, Eternal 5:14
7. Tyrants 4:51
8. The Luciferian 6:32

Band members
The Magus – vocals
Jim Mutilator – bass

Guest musicians
George Emmanuel – guitars (session)
John Patsouris – keys (session)
J.V. Maelstrom – drums (session)

Album Review – Nervosa / Perpetual Chaos (2021)

What happens when you put together four metalheads hailing from Brazil, Italy, Spain and Greece? A deadly and thrashing lesson in perpetual chaos, of course.

Staying true to their roots while exploring new terrains with a revitalized international line-up now comprised of Brazilian founding guitarist Prika Amaral, Spanish growler Diva Satanica (of Bloodhunter), Italian bassist Mia Wallace (of bands such as Abbath, Triumph of Death and The True Endless) and Greek drummer Eleni Nota (of Lightfold and Mask of Prospero), the ruthless all-female Death and Thrash Metal powerhouse Nervosa is ready to attack with inexorable fury, pungently sharp riffs and aggressive vocals on the 13 massive tracks from their newborn spawn, entitled Perpetual Chaos, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2018 opus Downfall Of Mankind. Recorded at Artesonao Casa de Grabación Studio in Málaga, Spain, produced by Prika Amaral and Martin Furia at Studio Porino, and mastered by Yarne Heylen, Perpetual Chaos builds upon the turbulence, adding diverse musical elements to create an infallible new standout that will strike the listener in a way only Nervosa could, therefore placing the album as one of the best releases of 2021 hands down.

The unstoppable Prika ignites their thrashing machine with her flammable riffs in the brutal Venomous, sounding pulverizing from the very first second with Diva Satanica being a true she-demon on vocals while Eleni showcases all her skills and rage on drums, whereas in Guided by Evil the rumbling, obscure sounds blasted by Mia and Eleni are everything Diva Satanica needs to growl the song’s vile words (“Desire consumes you, blinds you, takes you off the line / But you go slowly cause all you do is lie / Every step taken, misfortune is your delight / Tormented by feelings, swallowed by quicksand”) in another ass-kicking fusion of Death, Thrash and Black Metal. Following such frantic start, People of the Abyss is perhaps one of the most infuriated and heaviest of all songs in the history of Nervosa where Prika will pierce your ears mercilessly with her classy riffs and solos accompanied by the devilish bass by Mia, therefore inflicting some serious pain in your neck due to the intense headbanging needed. And more of their demented and grim sounds is offered in the title-track Perpetual Chaos, with Eleni and Prika making a hellish duo and, consequently, providing Diva Satanica a solid base for her to haunt our souls with her otherworldly screeches and gnarls.

Featuring guest guitarist Guilherme Miranda (of Entombed A.D.), Until the Very End is a high-octane fusion of Death and Thrash Metal brought forth by those unrelenting women where Prika is once again phenomenal armed with her killer strings; and it’s time for Nervosa to smash our skulls mercilessly in Genocidal Command, with German thrash legend Schmier, from the one and only Destruction, making a demented vocal duo with Diva Satanica, always supported by the thunderous kitchen by Mia and Eleni. Slower but heavy-as-hell, Kings of Domination presents hints of Groove Metal added to the guitar lines by Prika and the bass jabs by Mia, resulting in the perfect sound for headbanging like there’s no tomorrow, while Time to Fight is another short and sweet display of their thrashing savagery, inviting us all to slam into the pit while Eleni pounds her drums in great fashion. If you think the girls from Nervosa are tired already of so much violence, you better get ready for more of their Stygian sounds in Godless Prisoner, showcasing a straightforward sonority led by Prika while Eleni dictates the pace with her solid beats, albeit not as powerful as the other songs from the album.

Blood Eagle gets back to a more ferocious and somber musicality, with Prika and Mia being in total sync with their stringed weapons while Diva Satanica adds her personal dosage of Death Metal to the band’s core Thrash Metal through her devilish gnarls; and Eric A.K. (of Flotsam and Jetsam) lends his trademark vocals to Rebel Soul, a Motörhead-inspired metal extravaganza that will invite you to raise your horns and bang your head like a beast, bringing forward Diva Satanica and Eric on absolute fire from start to finish. Never slowing down nor selling out, and always loyal to the foundations of Thrash Metal, the band offers us all Pursued by Judgement, with Mia hammering her evil bass accompanied by the crushing drums by Eleni, keeping the album at a high level of animosity before we’re treated to the closing tune Under Ruins, presenting disruptive words viciously barked by Diva Satanica (“I feel death coming / Getting lonelier everyday / In the cravings that consume me / Self destruction without limits”) while her bandmates make sure the electricity keeps flowing nonstop through their wicked instrumental.

To be fair, I was a little worried about the future of Nervosa after the departures of vocalist and bassist Fernanda Lira and drummer Luana Dametto last year, but the moment Prika announced Diva Satanica, Mia Wallace and Eleni Nota as the new members of her thrashing squad I was more than sure their new album would sound phenomenal to say the least based on their unique talent and background in heavy music. Well, let’s say those four metal ladies exceeded all expectations in Perpetual Chaos, delivering an album that’s at the same time brutal, melodic, thrilling and detailed. Hence, don’t forget to give the girls a shout on Facebook and on Instagram to let them know how much you enjoyed their newest creations, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their distinguished music and videos, to stream all of their catalogue on Spotify, and above all that, to purchase Perpetual Chaos from their own BandCamp page or webstore (America or Europe), or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream what’s by far one of the most exciting metal albums of the year. And before I forget… VIVA PERPETUAL CHAOS!

Best moments of the album: People of the Abyss, Genocidal Command, Time to Fight and Rebel Soul.

Worst moments of the album: Godless Prisoner.

Released in 2021 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Venomous 3:46
2. Guided by Evil 3:30
3. People of the Abyss 3:27
4. Perpetual Chaos 3:39
5. Until the Very End 3:18
6. Genocidal Command 2:56
7. Kings of Domination 3:41
8. Time to Fight 2:32
9. Godless Prisoner 3:19
10. Blood Eagle 3:41
11. Rebel Soul 3:17
12. Pursued by Judgement 3:27
13. Under Ruins 3:57

Band members
Diva Satanica – lead vocals
Prika Amaral – guitar, backing vocals
Mia Wallace – bass
Eleni Nota – drums

Guest musicians
Guilherme Miranda – additional guitars on “Until the Very End”
Schmier – additional vocals on “Genocidal Command”
Eric A.K. – additional vocals on “Rebel Soul”

Album Review – Code Noir / Jack of All Spades EP (2020)

Hailing from Greece and Sweden, this dynamic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal duo returns with a band new EP featuring five rockin’ tunes that speak of the darkness of the human psyche.

Hailing from Greece and Sweden, Code Noir are a Hard Rock and Heavy Metal duo formed in 2015 originally as a four-piece band comprised of Michael T on vocals and guitars, Moth also on the guitars, Adam Chapman on bass and Vaart Pilgrem on drums, with each member bringing their background and experience from a wide variety of musical styles, ranging from theatrical music to Punk Rock to Extreme Metal. However, shortly before the band entered the studio, Moth and Vaart left the band, leaving Michael and Adam to continue the recordings of their debut mini-album Burn Card by themselves. Now in 2020 the duo strikes back with their second EP, entitled Jack of All Spades, showcasing the project’s musical evolution by moving away from the punk influences to a much more rock and metal focused sound. Mixed by Adam himself at Black Dawn Studios in Sweden, mastered by Tobben Eriksson, and featuring a classy artwork by VisionBlack, Jack of All Spades brings to the listener five songs that speak of the darkness of the human psyche, drawing from principal songwriter Michael’s experiences and insight as a professional psychologist, therefore inviting us all to join the duo in this thrilling and psychological quest.

Michael and Adam begin their metallic feast with the classic The Devil Within, with both rockers slashing their strings in a thrilling Hard Rock manner while Michael’s 80’s-inspired voice is effectively supported by the backing vocals by guest Kiran Surana. Then putting the pedal to the metal the dynamic duo blasts the high-octane Supersonic, showcasing old school lyrics roared by Michael (“Slave / To everything that you see / Each time you look in the mirror / You run around / Like a rat in a maze / With space and time erased”) while the music remains as exciting as our good old Heavy Metal requires; and Kiran appears once again as a guest in the frantic Words Never Said, with Adam slashing his guitar in great fashion, firing razor-edged riffs and classy solos, while Michael not only thrives on vocals but his thunderous bass adds an extra touch of heaviness to the music. After such powerful tune, acoustic guitars and a somber atmosphere are the main ingredients in Monarch, a very melodic fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock crafted by Code Noir featuring guest guitarist Lukky Sparxx, who also returns to support the duo in Crucify Their Way, a very entertaining and electrifying metal extravaganza where both Michael and Adam are on fire from start to finish, all boosted by the song’s rebellious lyrics (“Live, fight to die, defy the opposition / Break through the control that builds your inhibition / Hate, steal the lies, deny their false religion / Annihilate the laws that waste upon your vision”).

In summary, Jack of All Spades, which is available in its entirety on YouTube, is not just a solid and entertaining display of rock and metal by Code Noir, but it also gives us fans a much better idea of the direction the band is taking with their music and, consequently, pointing to a very interesting future ahead of them. Hence, don’t forget to follow the boys on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously to purchase their honest and fun EP from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. As already mentioned, the music by Code Noir is much more than “just” good Rock N’ Roll, making us think thanks to their austere lyrics and, as a consequence, proving once again how rock and metal music will always have an important role in our lives.

Best moments of the album: Supersonic and Crucify Their Way.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Leviaphonic Records

Track listing
1. The Devil Within 4:20
2. Supersonic 5:31
3. Words Never Said 3:46
4. Monarch 4:20
5. Crucify Their Way 3:55

Band members
Michael T – vocals, rhythm and lead guitar, bass
Adam Chapman – lead guitar

Guest musicians
Kiran Surana – backing vocals on tracks “The Devil Within” and “Words Never Said”
Lukky Sparxx – lead guitar on tracks “Monarch” and “Crucify Their Way”

Album Review – Sombria / Chirographon Dei (2020)

Let your soul be embraced by the beautiful fusion of Dark and Melancholic Metal from the debut album by a promising international group that has all it takes to conquer the world of heavy music.

Formed in 2019 by singer and songwriter Dimi De San, who comes under the name ‘’Valentina Devin’’, and guitarist and composer Raven Seven, Sombria are an international Dark/Melancholic Metal project featuring members from Greece, Norway and Mexico, those being the aforementioned Dimi De San on vocals and Raven Seven on guitars and orchestrations together with session musicians Lucien Keir also on the guitar, Saber Thorn on bass and Winter Cain on drums, aiming at raising awareness through their music, lyrics and performances over many sensitive subjects like child poverty and environmental issues. Now in 2020 this recently formed unity is unleashing upon humanity their debut opus Chirographon Dei, which translates from Latin as something like “the manuscript of the gods”, containing nine original songs recorded, mixed and mastered by Raven Seven at his own studio, all embraced by a gorgeous artwork by Dimi De San, and all depicting everything Symphonic Gothic Metal stands for.

Enfolding orchestrations and piano notes permeate the air in the opening tune Voyage into Lethe, with Dimi embellishing the airwaves with her operatic vocals while Raven Seven extracts somber, minimalist sounds form his guitar in a hybrid of the early days of Nightwish and Tristania. Then leaning towards the most melancholic form of Gothic Metal the band offers our ears the sorrowful Black December, with Saber Thorn and Winter Cain bringing a welcome dosage of Doom Metal to the musicality, followed by Sarcophagus of Roses, another symphonic and epic aria by Sombria where Winter Cain showcases all his dexterity behind his drums, offering Dimi all she needs to shine once again on vocals and, therefore, resulting in the perfect depiction of modern-day Symphonic Gothic Metal. And whimsical piano notes are intertwined with the rumbling bass by Saber Thorn in the gothic extravaganza Mirror of God, where Raven Seven and Lucien Keir make a dynamic duo with their darkened riffage, with the music remaining dense and imposing until the very end.

Dimi takes the lead with her pensive, anguished vocals in the darkly beautiful Ballet of Sadness, a delicate ballad by Sombria that will conquer the hearts of even the toughest metalheads, whereas the crying sound of the violin kicks off the epic and obscure The Soul’s Manuscript, where Winter Cain keeps pounding his drums and bringing doom to us all while Dimi invades our souls with her mesmerizing voice, not to mention the excellent job done once again by the band’s guitar duo. Then like a creature from another world the band comes ripping in the symphonic and heavy-as-hell Wine of Lunacy, where Gothic, Doom and Symphonic Metal are united in the name of darkness. Needless to say, Dimi is once again stunning on vocals, and investing in an even more romantic musicality we have Penitence, with all band members providing Dimi a truly enfolding ambience perfect for her sexy vocals, while the music alternates between heavier moments and menacing passages. Lastly, Sombria’s final breath of obscurity, melancholy and melodious lines comes in the form of the multi-layered Poem from the Dark Gardens, even more epic and operatic than all previous songs, with Raven Seven and Lucien Keir slashing their axes in great fashion supported by all background orchestrations.

The magical and dark world crafted by Sombria in Chirographon Dei can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show Dimi, Raven Seven and their loyal henchmen all your support and admiration you should grab a copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to also follow Sombria on Facebook and on Instagram to keep an eye on everything surrounding such amazing multi-national band, once again demonstrating your passion for the darkest and most melancholic form of heavy music. Sombria’s hybrid of Dark and Melancholic Metal found in their debut opus will surely embrace you like the bitterly cold wind on a winter night, dragging you to their lair and keeping you in the shadows forever and ever. And I’m more than sure that’s exactly what you’re expecting from those ptalented musicians who put their hearts and souls into creating meaningful music for lovers of the dark side.

Best moments of the album: Voyage into Lethe, Sarcophagus of Roses and Wine of Lunacy.

Worst moments of the album: Black December.

Released in 2020 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Voyage into Lethe 5:47
2. Black December 6:07
3. Sarcophagus of Roses 7:07
4. Mirror of God 6:52
5. Ballet of Sadness 5:01
6. The Soul’s Manuscript 5:45
7. Wine of Lunacy 7:28
8. Penitence 7:11
9. Poem from the Dark Gardens 9:02

Band members
Valentina Devin (Dimi De San) – vocals
Raven Seven – guitars, orchestrations

Guest musicians
Lucien Keir – guitar (session)
Saber Thorn – bass (session)
Winter Cain – drums (session)

Album Review – Helestios / Your Pain Tastes Good (2020)

Drawing upon ancient mythology while at the same time looking at the current state of the world, this newborn multi-cultural metal act is ready to attack armed with the fusion of melody and fury from their debut release.

Combining the melodic approach and broad appeal of Metallica with the ferocity and thematic invention of Sepultura, Basingstoke, UK-based Power/Thrash Metal outfit Helestios is ready to conquer the world of heavy music with their debut album titled Your Pain Tastes Good, a reminder of how metal stays true to itself and its fans, reflecting the reality of life and urging people to think for themselves and move forward positively. Formed in early 2020 by Henrijs Leja on vocals and guitar, Stelios Aggelis on lead guitar, Agnis Aldiņš on bass and Ian den Boer on drums, all skillful musicians hailing from Latvia, Greece and Netherlands, Helestios are both the power and the fury we need to inspire us, with their new album offering our ears both traditional metal riffing and melodic structure as well as more aggressive and atmospheric tones, and with its lyrics drawing upon ancient mythology while at the same time looking at the state of the world around us right now.

Wicked vocalizations and the slashing riffs by Henrijs and Stelios ignite Helestios’ metal machine in Sacrifice, blending the fury of the Groove Metal by Lamb of God with the Power Metal by bands like Gamma Ray and Primal Fear, whereas Black Storm, a churning sea of riffs and tales told in the ancient mythologies of Syria and Egypt, sounds and feels as modern as the opening track with Ian dictating the rhythm with his classic beats accompanied by the thunderous bass by Agnis and the deep roars by Henrijs, keeping the album at a high level of animosity and rage. And  let’s keep banging our heads together with those four metallers in Downgraded World, presenting another amazing job done by the band’s guitar duo with their incendiary riffs and solos and all spiced up by the powerful vocal performance by Henrijs; and Back to Where it Starts offers us all more of their solid fusion of Thrash and Power Metal, albeit not as exciting as its predecessors. It still showcases a great work done by the stringed trio with their venomous riffage and rumbling bass, though.

The title-track Your Pain Tastes Good begins in an ominous manner before exploding into another round of Helestios’ infuriated metal music, again bringing forward a nice mix of harsh growls and clean vocals while Ian adds tons of progressiveness and intricacy to the music with his beats. Then it’s time for a metal onslaught spearheaded by the flammable guitars by Henrijs an Stelios in All Attack, a modern-day Thrash Metal extravaganza with hints of Death and Groove Metal written in support of the Belorussian people who have spent recent months fighting to overthrow what many see as one of the last tyrannies of Europe. Put differently, it can’t get any heavier nor darker than this, I might say.  And the quartet continues to slam their instruments in great fashion in You Are Free, where its headbanging rhythm is nicely boosted by Ian’s massive drums while also bringing forward very melodic lines exploding from their guitars and vocals. And last but not least, hypnotizing guitars kick off their final breath of Thrash Metal entitled Return to Baalbek, with Henrijs sounding truly demonic on vocals, therefore resulting in the perfect soundtrack for slamming into the circle pit in an amazing hybrid of sheer aggressiveness and soulful melodies.

In a nutshell, although Helestios might be a brand new name in the metal community, each band member know exactly what they are doing in Your Pain Tastes Good, sounding as polished, professional, focused and aggressive as any of the big names of the Thrash and Power Metal scene. Hence, don’t forget to show this talented, multi-cultural metal act your support by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by streaming more of their powerful music on Spotify, and by grabbing your copy of their top-notch debut album from different locations sooner than you can say the word “pain”. Helestios’ fusion of melody and fury will surely please all fans of Heavy Metal in general, leaving us eager for more of their thrilling creations and, of course, putting a huge smile on our faces for knowing underground metal music in the UK is alive and kicking as usual.

Best moments of the album: Sacrifice, All Attack and Return to Baalbek.

Worst moments of the album: Back to Where it Starts.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Sacrifice 4:46
2. Black Storm 3:08
3. Downgraded World 4:05
4. Back to Where it Starts 3:39
5. Your Pain Tastes Good 5:45
6. All Attack 3:57
7. You Are Free 3:44
8. Return to Baalbek 5:11

Band members
Henrijs Leja – vocals, guitar
Stelios Aggelis – lead guitar
Agnis Aldiņš – bass
Ian den Boer – drums

Album Review – Peculiar Three / Leap Of Faith (2020)

A talented trio of Greek musicians invites us all to their cyclical dance in their first full-length album full of rock emotion, metal aesthetic and prog essence.

“Do you remember what Darwin says about music? He claims that the power of producing and appreciating it existed among the human race long before the power of speech was arrived at. Perhaps that is why we are so subtly influenced by it. There are vague memories in our souls of those misty centuries when the world was in its childhood.” – Sherlock Holmes – A Study in Scarlet

Formed in 2013 in Livadia, a town located in the central part of Greece, Progressive Rock/Metal studio project Peculiar Three, also known as peculiar three or even π3, is inviting us all to their cyclical dance with their first full-length opus Leap Of Faith, following up on their 2014 EP P3culiar. Mixed, produced and mastered at Locomotive Sound Studio by Ektoras Sohos, and displaying a stunning artwork by Greek artist Sotiris Kotsonis, Leap Of Faith was entirely performed and recorded live by vocalist and bassist Valantis Dafkos, guitarist an keyboardist Panos Karkanas and drummer Paris Gatsios, offering fans of the genre 46 minutes of first-class, organic heavy music split into seven new songs plus a very special bonus track, all full of rock emotion, metal aesthetic and prog essence.

Panos kicks of the band’s progressive party with his melodious riffage in Perpetual, gradually accompanied by the rhythmic beats by Paris and the whimsical vocals by Valantis, evolving into a fusion of epicness and creativity; whereas investing into a Black Sabbath-inspired Doom Metal sonority (sounding like their classic “Heaven & Hell” at times) the band offers us all Innermost, featuring a saz solo by guest Mantis Savvidis, with Valantis smashing his bass beautifully and with the music remaining dark and melodic from start to finish. Then we have Inkblot, a Progressive Rock extravaganza by the trio that’s more direct and less dense than its predecessors, where Panos keeps embellishing the airwaves with his riffs while Valantis provides some wicked vocal lines; and a somber and melancholic intro ignites the also entertaining Marginal, blending progressiveness with the heavier sounds of Southern and Stoner Metal, with Paris dictating the pace with his slow and steady beats.

The title-track Leap of Faith is an electrifying feast of traditional rock and metal where all band members are in total sync, with Panos once again slashing his strings in great fashion while also presenting melancholic and somber passages. In The Sentient, less vibrant than the rest of the album, the band goes full progressive and abandons most of their heaviness for a while, and albeit not being truly exciting, it’s still a very pleasant song perfect for admirers of the genre with Panos and Paris making a dynamic duo with their riffs and beats. Peculiar Three get back to a more headbanging sound in Knaves o’ Knives, displaying elements from the music by bands such as Alice In Chains blended with the doom by Black Sabbath and a touch of 70’s rock, resulting in a great jamming vibe by the trio from start to finish. And lastly, featuring orchestrations and keys by guest Panos Makoulis, the bonus track Caliban’s End brings to our ears a serene and inspiring sound, with its acoustic lines and orchestrations walking hand in hand and, therefore, putting a very beautiful ending to the album.

You can enjoy this very entertaining and utterly independent, DIY album of Progressive Rock and Metal in its entirety on Spotify, but of course the best way to show the guys from Peculiar Three your support and admiration is by purchasing the album from their BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, as well as by following them on Facebook and by subscribing to their YouTube channel for more of their music. There’s still a long road ahead of those talented Greek rockers, but the healthy evolution in their sound from their debut EP to Leap Of Faith in terms of creativity and overall sound quality already indicates that the sky is the limit for them, which is not only good new for fans of progressive music, but to anyone who enjoys an honest and fun combination of the thrilling sound of guitars, bass and drums in the name of rock.

Best moments of the album: Innermost and Knaves o’ Knives.

Worst moments of the album: The Sentient.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Perpetual 5:41
2. Innermost 5:40
3. Inkblot 5:44
4. Marginal 5:36
5. Leap of Faith 5:14
6. The Sentient 4:55
7. Knaves o’ Knives 7:10
8. Caliban’s End (bonus track) 5:49

Band members
Valantis Dafkos – lead & backing vocals, bass
Panos Karkanas – guitars, keys
Paris Gatsios – drums

Guest musicians
Mantis Savvidis – saz solo on “Innermost”
Panos Makoulis – orchestration & keys on “Caliban’s End”

Album Review – Puta Volcano / AMMA (2020)

A highly enterprising and unusual release by four Greek rockers who definitely know how to blend 90’s Seattle Grunge with Stoner and Southern Rock.

Athens, Greece-based Hard Rock/Post-Grunge quartet Puta Volcano has been building up their legacy and fanbase one gig, one album and one song at a time since their inception in 2012, having released their debut EP Represent Victory Below Eye that same year, their first full-length installment The Sun in 2015,  and more recently another EP titled Harmony of Spheres, in 2017, gaining notoriety in their homeland for their heavy mixture of Seattle Grunge with Stoner and Southern Rock, all with a Southeastern European twist. Already acknowledged in the Greek heavy rock scene, the band comprised of Anna Papathanasiou on vocals, Alex Pi on the guitar, Bookies on bass and Steve Stefanidis on drums is ready to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their brand new opus AMMA, a highly enterprising and unusual release full of heft and verve, combining elements from the music by Alice In Chains, Melvins, Hole, A Perfect Circle, Kylesa and Baroness and, therefore, creating a tantalizing and electrifying sound.

Produced by Johnny Tercu, recorded by Alex Ketenjian, Nick Dimitrakakos and Alex Bolpasis and mixed and mastered by Alex Ketenjian and Johnny Tercu, all at Unreal Studioz in Athens, and featuring a classy artwork that’s the collective effort of artists Anna Papathanasiou herself and Laura Bricta, with an inner sleeve photo by Chrysalena Antonopoulou and logo and layout by Fuzz Ink., AMMA is a multi-layered and very entertaining album of rock music, bringing forward a collection of songs reflecting the whereabouts of a band who illustrates the well documented character of their craft, while simultaneously branching out to new territories using bits and pieces of novelties, making the exploration of each and every track of the album a detailed nit-picking adventure for the listener.

The inspiring an cinematic intro R-Entry prepares our ears and minds for the groovy Entropica, showcasing poetic lyrics declaimed by Anna (“Back from an endless slumber / Across event horizons / Silence where once was thunder / Ashes and rust surround me / I’m breaking / Having seen too many ends / I’m choking / Struggling to let go”) while Steve blasts some sluggish and potent beats accompanied by Bookies’ low-tuned bass, resulting in a lecture in Post-Grunge. Then again drinking from the same fountain as iconic bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden we have Venus Lullaby, presenting a beautiful sonority led by Alex’s distortions and Anna’s charming vocals, driving you absolutely addicted to her passionate performance, not to mention the song’s electrifying vibe; and venturing through more aggressive and harder lands the band offers us all First Light, a true headbanging Rock N’ Roll anthem with hints of classic Heavy Metal where Alex and Bookies are on fire with their stringed weapons, while Anna continues to shine on vocals.

Then a somber intro morphs into a Hard Rock and Grunge extravaganza titled Black Box, with Steve and Bookies hammering their instruments ruthlessly, therefore providing Anna all she needs to fire her Alice In Chains-inspired vocals and inspiring us all to bang our heads like there’s no tomorrow, followed by Sugar Cube, a more introspective creation by the quartet showcasing crisp and delicate guitar lines and beats, bringing to our ears that trademark Seattle sound with a nice Greek twist. The atmospheric bridge Echoing Icons sets the stage to the exciting Primitive Data, another explosion of Post-Grunge with gorgeous lyrics (“Like raindrops on the sea / Break stillness and riple the veil / I fall from blackest space / A flailing newborn / Heliacal rising again / More shadows in my head / I left my center back home / A lifetime ago”), also showcasing the ass-kicking shredding by Alex and the fierce drumming by Steve.

Wicked guitars and deep, dark vocals permeate the air in Apnea, again exploring 90’s Grunge grounds with metallic nuances, flowing smoothly until its crisp ending, whereas Torus sounds groovier than all previous songs thanks to the potent bass jabs by Bookies, presenting stunning performances by all band members with Steve slamming his drum kit mercilessly, living up to the legacy of the Seattle sound. After such enfolding sonority it’s time for Puta Volcano to enhance their heaviness and rage in Space Blanket, a very melodic, sinister and vibrant song where Anna sounds as dark and devilish as possible and with Alex having another amazing performance with his riffs and solos, while ethereal sounds ignite the closing tune titled Kassandra’s Gift, led by Anna and her whimsical voice before the entire band comes crushing our senses one last time in a lesson in modernity and progressiveness.

The excellent AMMA is available for a full and detailed listen on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to Puta Volcano you should definitely purchase the album from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, or simply click HERE for all locations where you can grab a copy of the album or simply stream it. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, with AMMA working as the utmost representation of everything the band stands for, their talent and their strong focus on what they do, leaving us all eager for more of their music and pointing to a fantastic future for such distinguished Greek quartet with their Seattle-inspired sound.

Best moments of the album: First Light, Black Box, Primitive Data and Space Blanket.

Worst moments of the album: Sugar Cube.

Released in 2020 The Orchard

Track listing
1. R-Entry 0:42
2. Entropica 4:28
3. Venus Lullaby 3:45
4. First Light 3:41
5. Black Box 4:20
6. Sugar Cube 3:18
7. Echoing Icons 1:41
8. Primitive Data 4:32
9. Apnea 2:43
10. Torus 4:15
11. Space Blanket 4:15
12. Kassandra’s Gift 5:47

Band members
Anna Papathanasiou – vocals
Alex Pi – guitar
Bookies – bass, backing vocals
Steve Stefanidis – drums

Album Review – SiXforNinE / Parallel Universe (2019)

An amazing album of rock and metal music containing nine high-energy compositions overflowing groove and adrenaline, carefully brought forth by four talented musicians hailing from Greece.

It’s time to bang our heads to the groovy and melodic Alternative Metal blasted by SiXforNinE, a four-piece band formed in 2011 in the always fun city of Athens, Greece, who are releasing now in 2019 a brand new and extremely entertaining opus entitled Parallel Universe, a follow-up to their 2015 debut self-titled album being highly recommended for fans of the music by bands like Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin. Comprised of founding members Georga Kapa on the guitar, Herc Booze on bass and Pete Outfox on drums, as well as Fotis Benardo (Necromantia, Septicflesh) on vocals, SiXforNinE have been on a roll since their inception, having already shared the stage with renowned acts such as Monster Magnet, Fates Warning, Leprous, and Memory Garden, and with Parallel Universe representing an evolutionary step in their relatively short but already solid career.

Recorded at DevasoundZ Studios in Athens, produced by Fotis Benardo himself, mixed by Paul Pavao (Disturbed, Stone Temple Pilots, Breaking Benjamin), mastered by Tom Baker (Rob Zombie, Nine Inch Nails, Mötley Crüe), and featuring a stunning artwork by Vagelis Petikas (Revolver Design), Parallel Universe showcases a very special chemistry between all four band members in each of its nine high-energy rock anthems, dealing with distinct topics such as a galactic travel via astral projection and the story of a refugee hoping for a better future. In other words, you better get ready to rock with SiXforNinE, as the Rock N’ Roll party crafted by those four talented Greek metallers doesn’t seem to have a time to end based on the amount of adrenaline flowing from their new album.

The band begins their feast of mesmerizing and groovy sounds in Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining, a lecture in progressiveness by the quartet where Fotis and his Miles Kennedy-inspired vocals walk hand in hand with George’s crisp riffs, not to mention Herc’s rumbling bass lines, followed by the heavier and more progressive Life Devouring Demons, reminding me of some of the incendiary creations by Mastodon. Furthermore, Pete brings endless intricacy with his beats in an awesome fusion of Alternative Rock and Metal with the heaviness of Progressive Metal, while Herc is on absolute fire with his metallic bass. And as heavy as high-end Alternative Metal can be, the band explodes our ears with the melodic and vibrant Bullet Off Its Course, a song that could easily be played in any radio station with Fotis once again stealing the spotlight with his passionate vocals.

Then inspired by the music by Alter Bridge, Breaking Benjamin and other big names of the alternative scene, George slashes his strings beautifully while Pete’s beats bring groove and thunder to the music in Never Ending Road, whereas in More Than Words Can Say the band blends the heaviest elements from Progressive Metal with smoother rockin’ nuances, displaying a powerful job done by George on the guitar as well as Fotis on vocals, overflowing rage and anguish from start to finish. And it’s time to slow things down a bit and enjoy a pensive and whimsical musical journey by SiXforNinE in Counting Stars (a Parallel Universe), where George, Herc and Pete generate an enfolding ambience with their respective instruments, resulting in almost 10 minutes of ethereal passages and piercing sounds. Not only that, George’s guitar solo is a thing of beauty, adding an extra touch of finesse to a fantastic song that flows flawlessly into a catchy ending.

Very intricate and full of breaks and variations, Out of the Blue offers the listener the thunderous sound of the bass lines by Herc nicely complementing Pete’s wicked beats, being at the same time violent and very harmonious and with Fotis’ roars bringing even more stamina to the song’s already gripping vibe. In Sea of Lies we’re able to witness pure Rock N’ Roll flowing through the band’s instruments, sounding tailored for being played at top volume at a rock pub while everyone is enjoying a cold and tasty beer; moreover, George and Pete couldn’t sound more electrifying with their riffs and beats, also presenting the progressiveness that makes their music so compelling. And lastly, the angry bass by Herc ignites the closing tune Meditation Hyperjam, a sonic extravaganza of badass sounds and tones led by George’s heavy riffs while Fotis fires his potent vocals, putting a truly exciting ending to the album.

If you love rock and metal music with high dosages of complexity, groove and electricity, then Parallel Universe, which you can hear in full on YouTube and on Spotify, is the perfect solution to satisfy your craving. Hence, go check what SiXforNinE are up to on Facebook, including their tour dates, and grab your copy of the album from their own webstore, as well as from Apple Music or from Amazon. Fotis, George, Herc and Pete did one hell of a job in Parallel Universe, and there’s nothing better to show them our support and appreciation than by rocking like there’s no tomorrow together with this hardworking and amazing band coming from Hellenic lands.

Best moments of the album: Life Devouring Demons, Counting Stars (a Parallel Universe) and Sea of Lies.

Worst moments of the album: Never Ending Road.

Released in 2019 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining 6:12
2. Life Devouring Demons 5:52
3. Bullet Off Its Course 5:00
4. Never Ending Road 4:53
5. More Than Words Can Say 5:02
6. Counting Stars (a Parallel Universe) 9:16
7. Out of the Blue 5:58
8. Sea of Lies 4:10
9. Meditation Hyperjam 5:12

Band members
Fotis Benardo – vocals
George Kapa – guitars
Herc Booze – bass
Pete Outfox – drums

Album Review – Voidnaut / Nadir (2019)

A thrilling and very detailed album of Melodic Groove Metal made in Greece, overflowing heaviness, punch and electricity.

Hailing from the always vibrant city of Athens, Greece, Heavy/Groove Metal act Voidnaut was formed in 2015 by guitarist Kostas Krikos and vocalist Stavros Benardo as a small project, gradually evolving into a much bolder and violent beast with the additions of drummer Kostas Alexakis (Acid Death) and bassist Kostas Tasakos (Double Square) not long after. With influences ranging from Disturbed to Pantera and the overall sound of American Heavy Metal, Voidnaut are unleashing upon us their debut full-length album, entitled Nadir, mixed and produced at Devasounds Studios by Fotis Benardo (SixforNine, Septic Flesh), mastered by Steve Lado (Tardive Dyskinesia), and featuring a modern artwork by Giannis Nakos (Remedy Art Design). And overflowing heaviness, punch and electricity, of course.

The acoustic guitar by Kostas Krikos in the intro Nadir works as the “calm before the storm”, warning us all there’s a demolishing feast of Groove Metal coming entitled Back from the Grave, a straightforward and catchy tune where Kostas Alexakis provides those traditional pounding beats we love in heavy music, while its lyrics remind me of some of the most interesting creations by bands like Dream Theater and Trivium (“I shut off the engine of light and in darkness I reigned / To another dimension,My redemption… / All I need is a sign-an unknown sacrifice I’m the keeper of light. / In my hour of pain wicked forces I gained for I’m back from…”). Then get ready to bang your head to a fusion of Southern and Groove Metal named Hunted, where Stavros does a great job with his raspy, angry vocals while Kostas Tasakos extracts pure metallic lines from his bass; and Stavros kicks off the flammable This Pain of Mine with a demented scream, while the rest of the band fires modern-day Alternative and Groove Metal lines, sounding perfect for jumping up and down during their live performances.

Control is another smashing tune by Voidnaut led by Kostas Alexakis’ thunderous beats and spiced up by Kostas Krikos’ electryfing riffs and solos, with all four band members being on fire from start to finish in an awesome display of modern metal music. Then more modernity and contemporary sounds invade our ears in Porcelain Lady, displaying a great sync between Kostas Tasakos and Kostas Alexakis with their rumbling bass punches and beats, respectively, while Stravos keeps roaring like a pro on vocals; and putting the pedal to the metal the band offers us Damage Done, blasting sheer rage and groove from their sharp instruments, with highlights to Kostas Alexakis’ incendiary performance on drums, not to mention the amazing guest vocals by Fotis Benardo and guest guitar solo by Bob Katsionis (Firewind, Outloud).

Kostas Krikos keeps cutting our skin deep with his razor-edged riffs in Scarred for Life, highly inspired by the music crafted by icons like Killswitch Engage, Light The Torch and other exponents of the Metalcore and Alternative Metal scene, with Stravos simply kicking some serious ass with his screams, followed by Road to Nowhere, probably the most commercial track of the album (which doesn’t mean it’s bad at all, though, just less electrifying), presenting solid instrumental pieces spearheaded by Kostas Krikos and his in-your-face riffs. Lastly, closing the album Voidnaut deliver tons of aggression in Savage World, drinking from the same fountain as bands like Trivium, sounding groovy, heavy-as-hell and vibrant, with Kostas Alexakis once again stealing the spotlight with his rhythmic and furious drumming. They’re definitely on beast mode in this great song, which obviously puts a climatic ending to the album, therefore leaving us eager for more of their modern-day Melodic Death and Groove Metal.

It’s quite easy to feel all of Voidnaut’s groove and punch from Nadir, as all you have to do is listen to the album in full on Spotify, or purchase it from iTunes or Amazon. You can also keep updated with all things Voidnaut such as tour dates and new releases by following the band on Facebook, and enjoy more of their music (and videos) by subscribing to their YouTube channel, showing your true support to another excellent Hellenic band that will surely keep fighting for metal music for years to come with their talent, passion and energy. Needless to say, we should all thank them for that by banging our heads nonstop to their powerful music.

Best moments of the album: This Pain of Mine, Control and Damage Done.

Worst moments of the album: Road to Nowhere.

Released in 2019 7hard/7us Records

Track listing
1. Nadir 1:17
2. Back from the Grave 4:16
3. Hunted 3:20
4. This Pain of Mine 4:15
5. Control 3:38
6. Porcelain Lady 4:26
7. Damage Done (feat. Fotis Benardo & Bob Katsionis) 4:36
8. Scarred for Life 4:26
9. Road to Nowhere 4:15
10. Savage World 3:52

Band members
Stavros Benardo – vocals
Kostas Krikos – guitars
Kostas Tasakos – bass
Kostas Alexakis – drums

Guest musicians
Fotis Benardo – vocals on “Damage Done”
Bob Katsionis – guitar solo on “Damage Done”