Album Review – Terrordome / Straight Outta Smogtown (2021)

The new album by this unrelenting Polish squad will hit you hard right in the head with their fusion of Thrash Metal, Hardcore and Crossover Thrash with beyond acid lyrics.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Tomasz “ZED” Zalewski at Zed Studio and featuring an old school artwork by Marcin “Biały” Białkowski, Straight Outta Smogtown is the third full-length installment by a Thrash Metal squad formed in 2005 in the city of Kraków, Poland that goes by the in-your-face name of Terrordome, following up on the violence and adrenaline of their 2015 album Machete Justice. Highly recommended for fans of the sickness blasted by renowned acts the likes of Nuclear Assault, Slayer and Cryptic Slaughter, the new album by vocalist and guitarist Uappa Terror and guitarist Paua Siffredi, together with session musicians Simon on bass and Friggi Mad Beats (Chaos Synopsis, Attomica) on drums, will hit you hard right in the head with their fusion of classic Thrash Metal, Hardcore and Crossover Thrash, with an array of guests including Frank Blackfire (Sodom, Assassin) and Manu Joker (Uganga, Sarcofago) bringing even more electricity to the album’s metal thrashing madness.

Featuring an atmospheric guitar solo by guest Konrad “Destroyer” Ramotowski (Untervoid, Hate), the intro Terrorizing the Nation as the Best Way to Thwart Shameful Schemes warms up our bodies and minds for the Exodus and Nuclear Assault-inspired tune Possessed By Blyat, where Friggi Mad Beats crushes his drums mercilessly, being therefore perfect for slamming into the pit right away, whereas Worried Again sounds even heavier and more menacing, with Uappa’s visceral roars adding an extra touch of animosity to the music while Uappa himself and Paua extract pure Thrash Metal from their sick riffage. And their sonic attack has no time to stop, as they keep delivering hatred and madness in Steel on the Road, with their thrashing riffs and blast beats elevating the song’s insanity through the roof, not to mention how demented Uappa sounds on vocals.

The rumbling bass by Simon kicks off the Thrash and Groove Metal feast Plastic Death, where Uappa invests into Tom Araya-like vocals while his bandmates exhale heaviness through their sonic weapons, and it’s impressive how they managed to sound even faster and heavier than before in Your Personal Comfort Versus the Global Disaster, a brutal Thrash Metal assault showcasing razor-edged riffs by Uappa and Paua and the always wicked beats by Friggi Mad Beats. Then featuring guest vocals by Manu Joker and Jairo Vaz (Chaos Synopsis), get ready to be smashed by Terrordome in Desordem e Regresso, a sick display of extreme music and a “tribute” to the political nightmare that haunts Brazil these days; and Friggi Mad Beats hammers his drums in great fashion in the berserk Into the Void, a pulverizing Crossover Thrash extravaganza led by the vicious riffs and solos by the band’s relentless guitar duo. After such demented tune, their thrashing party goes on in the also electrifying Ego-Boost Downfall, drinking from the fountain of Bay Area Thrash and, therefore, offering our ears piercing riffs and thunderous bass jabs nonstop.

Money Kills carries a great title for another solid, straightforward Thrash Metal tune where all band members are on fire from start to finish, with Uappa stealing the spotlight by rabidly roaring the song’s acid words, while Demolition, featuring a slashing guitar solo by guest Frank Blackfire, offers more of their European thrash spearheaded by the machine gun-like beats by Friggi Mad Beats. Put differently, it will work perfectly when played live to an avid moshing crowd, and firing some Gary Holt-like riffs and infernal beats the quartet brings forward another humongous dosage of animosity and rebelliousness in I Don’t Care, where Uappa is once again demented on vocals. Then an atmospheric intro evolves into a headbanging tune titled Conspiracy, where Uappa and Paua invite us all to dance like a monkey into the circle pit, albeit not as intense as its predecessors; whereas an intro taken from the 1968 cult movie Night of the Living Dead, directed by the iconic George A. Romero (R.I.P.), explodes into what’s in my opinion the best song of the album, The Day They Left Their Graves, a lecture in Thrash Metal with Friggi Mad Beats sounding utterly infernal on drums, presenting the perfect combination of old school thrash with tales of the living dead.

You can get caught in the frantic mosh crafted by Terrordome in Straight Outta Smogtown by listening to the full album on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you consider yourself a true thrashing trooper you should definitely purchase the album from the band’s own BandCamp page and webstore, from the Selfmadegod Records’ BandCamp page and webstore, from Apple Music or from Discogs. In addition, don’t forget to follow those sick thrashers on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their awesome creations. After all is said and done, Terrordome proved us all with Straight Outta Smogtown that Thrash Metal is more than alive, especially in the underground, solidifying their name in the local and international scene and, of course, proudly carrying the flag of Polish extreme music wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Worried Again, Steel on the Road, Desordem e Regresso and The Day They Left Their Graves.

Worst moments of the album: Conspiracy.

Released in 2021 Selfmadegod Records

Track listing
1. Terrorizing the Nation as the Best Way to Thwart Shameful Schemes 0:48
2. Possessed By Blyat 2:41
3. Worried Again 3:24
4. Steel on the Road 2:38
5. Plastic Death 3:32
6. Your Personal Comfort Versus the Global Disaster 2:50
7. Desordem e Regresso 2:45
8. Into the Void 2:25
9. Ego-Boost Downfall 2:57
10. Money Kills 3:49
11. Demolition 2:43
12. I Don’t Care 2:49
13. Conspiracy 3:41
14. The Day They Left Their Graves 3:09

Band members
Uappa Terror – vocals, guitars
Paua Siffredi – guitars
Virious – bass*
Rob Sixkiller – drums*

Guest musicians
Simon – bass (session)
Friggi Mad Beats – drums (session)
Konrad “Destroyer” Ramotowski – guitar solo on “Terrorizing the Nation as the Best Way to Thwart Shameful Schemes”
Słoma – additional vocals on “Worried Again”
Kosa – additional vocals on “Worried Again”
Syru – additional vocals on “Worried Again”
Frank Blackfire – guitar solo on “Demolition”
Manu Joker – additional vocals on “Desordem e Regresso”
Jairo Vaz – additional vocals on “Desordem e Regresso”

*Bass and drums recorded respectively by Simon and Friggi Mad Beats

Album Review – Wojtek / Does This Dream Slow Down, Until It Stops? EP (2021)

Bang your heads in total isolation to the sound of the new EP by this Italian Sludge Metal entity, offering us all four austere songs born from the boredom and frustration of two lockdowns.

Wojtek is a basic, Polish male name. Wojtek is also a Syrian bear who fought in the Battle of Cassino, during World War II, carrying crates of ammunition and roaring at enemies. And Wojtek is also a Padua, Italy-based band born in May 2019, playing a heavy and raw fusion of Sludge and Doom Metal, and who have just released their third EP curiously titled Does This Dream Slow Down, Until It Stops?, offering fans of heavy music four austere songs born from the boredom and frustration of two lockdowns. Comprised of vocalist Mattia Zambon, guitarists Morgan Zambon and Riccardo Zulato, bassist Simone Carraro and drummer Enrico Babolin (who was also the producer of the album), Wojtek dig deeper into their favorite topic, that being human misery, in each of the four tracks of the EP, with the mixing and mastering by Mattia Bonafini, the cryptic artwork by the band’s own guitarist Riccardo Zulato and the logo by View From The Coffin adding an extra touch of darkness, rage and despair to the band’s venomous metal music, therefore living up to the legacy of the most primeval form of Sludge Metal.

In the opening track Catacomb we’re treated to wicked lyrics growled by Mattia (“Grow my fears / Is this town real? / Drill my ears / Endless pain I feel / Whenever you whisper I break / Every inch of my muscles will shake”) while his bandmates blast their instruments with tons of rage and aggressiveness from the very first second in an infernal display of contemporary Sludge Metal, and Enrico continues to add his share of animosity to their rebellious music through his Thrash and Death Metal beats in Desensitized, with Morgan and Riccardo slashing their strings mercilessly. Put differently, this is a neck-breaking, violent tune that reeks of progressiveness and obscurity. Then an instrumental and absolutely atmospheric horror movie-inspired interlude entitled Rednetrab (or “bartender” backwards) will send shivers down your spine before those Italian metallers come crushing one last time with their dirty and Stygian sounds in XX Years, a beyond disturbing creation where the bass punches by Simone will hit you right in the face while Mattia vociferates rabidly à la Mike Patton, bringing to our ears a flawless hybrid of Hardcore and modern-day Stoner and Sludge Metal tailored for admirers of the genre.

If you’re curious to know more about Wojtek and their wicked creations, you can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram right away, and grab your copy of Does This Dream Slow Down, Until It Stops?, which is by the way available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, from several locations including the band’s own BandCamp page, the Ripcord Records’ BandCamp page, the Teschio Dischi’s BandCamp page, the Violence In The Veins’ BandCamp page, and Apple Music. In the end, it looks like this never-ending pandemic has been extremely fruitful for the guys from Wojtek, inspiring them to turn their inner darkness and frustrations into first-class doom and, consequently, offering us all another good reason to keep banging our heads while in total isolation from society.

Best moments of the album: Desensitized and XX Years.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Ripcord Records/Shove Records/Teschio Dischi/Fresh Outbreak Records/Violence In The Veins

Track listing
1. Catacomb 4:37
2. Desensitized 5:02
3. Rednetrab 4:08
4. XX Years 5:31

Band members
Mattia Zambon – vocals
Morgan Zambon – guitars
Riccardo Zulato – guitars
Simone Carraro – bass
Enrico Babolin – drums

Album Review – Salò / Sortez vos Morts EP (2021)

A newborn French entity brings out their dead in their debut EP of pulverizing Industrial Metal and Blackened Crust.

Labeling their own music as “Blackened Crust Industrial As Fuck”, Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, France-based Industrial/Blackened Crust outfit Salò is unleashing upon humanity their debut EP entitled Sortez vos Morts, or “bring out your dead” in English, which as the band itself says, “tells you, without telling you everything either, poor little ones, how it generally goes – after all the lights at the end of the tunnel have closed.” Recorded and mixed by Manu Laffeach at Studio Chaudelande, mastered by Cyrille Gachet at Dick Doom Studio, and featuring an apocalyptic artwork by CLLK Artwork and logo by Dehn Sora, Sortez vos Morts is highly recommended for fans of the darkest and most desperate form of Industrial Metal you can think of, showcasing all the rage and versatility of this up-and-coming quartet formed by HCT on vocals and bass, AVS on the guitars, DLE onkeyboards and samples, and NGH on drums.

There’s nothing better than kicking of an Industrial Metal album than with a wicked, cinematic intro the likes of La Morale C’est Ça… (or “the moral is that…” in English), setting the stage for the band to crush in the visceral Sans Gêne Ni Haine, or “without embarrassment or hatred”, sounding sick and demented from the very first second with AVS and NGH making an infernal duo with their respective riffs and beats, while HCT barks and roars like a rabid beast. Then the phantasmagorical keys by DLE add an extra touch of dementia to the furious fusion of Industrial Metal and Blackened Crust by Salò in Sans Toit Ni Loi (“no roof or law”), with AVS firing his Thrash Metal-inspired riffage, followed by Tant D’interdits (“so many prohibitions”), where another eerie, alternative intro morphs into a neck-breaking sonority showcasing the rhythmic drums by NGH spiced up by the sick keys and samples by DLE, not to mention how HCT effectively takes the lead with his deranged screams. Their second to last blast of industrialized sounds, titled Sonnez La Curée (“ring the quarry”), is an insane and demonic creation by the French quartet where its thrashing, Punk Rock-infused riffs, together with its rebellious attitude and Hardcore growling by HCT, turn it into the most detailed and thrilling of all songs; whereas the ruthless and hellish Contagion closes the album in the most aggressive way possible, bringing to our ears venomous screams and riffs, menacing keys and Doom Metal-inspired beats.

Sortez vos Morts is available for a full stream on YouTube, but of course if you want to truly show your support for those French metallers you should start following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and even more important than that, purchase the EP from their BandCamp page, from the Cold Dark Matter Records’ BandCamp page or Big Cartel, from the Coups de Couteau’s BandCamp page, and soon also from the Duality Records’ Big Cartel. We must all admit Sortez vos Morts is indeed an amazing start for Salò, therefore already positioning them as a driving force of the genre in their homeland, and if that’s the music we’ll all hear “after all the lights at the end of the tunnel have closed”, then we can rest assured that the other side is at least heavy, furious and frantic, just the way we like it.

Best moments of the album: Sans Gêne Ni Haine and Sonnez La Curée.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Cold Dark Matter Records/Coups de Couteau/Duality Records

Track listing
1. La Morale C’est Ça… 1:04
2. Sans Gêne Ni Haine 6:53
3. Sans Toit Ni Loi 4:28
4. Tant D’interdits 4:02
5. Sonnez La Curée 6:29
6. Contagion 3:53

Band members
HCT – vocals, bass
AVS – guitars
DLE – keyboards, samples
NGH – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Jeanne Sagan

Am I the monster you created?

After such a difficult year for all of us, let’s start 2021 off with a bang to the sound of the rumbling, menacing bass by a woman that has been nothing but amazing to the metal community with her refined skills, her passion for heavy music and her immensurable contribution to the Heavy Metal, Hard Rock and Metalcore scene. Not only that, she’s also a very talented singer and pianist, showcasing all her versatility and allowing her to take part in any type of band from an array of styles. Born on January 11, 1979 in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the United States, Jeanne Sagan (also known as Jeanne Wawrzyniak) is the ass-kicking bassist and backing vocalist for American Heavy Metal band Crossing Rubicon, and also known as the former bassist and backing vocalist for American Heavy Metal/Metalcore band All That Remains from 2006 to 2015, having been embellishing the airwaves with her bass since 2001 and, more important than that, being ready to make this new year that has just been born a lot more fun with her music.

Having also played for a band called The Acacia Strain in 2003, Jeanne originally worked merchandise tables for Prosthetic Records before being called to join All That Remains in 2006 to replace their former bassist Matt Deis, which was by the way a funny story according to Jeanne herself as she had moved out to Arizona thinking she was done with Massachusetts, but after meeting someone at the record label and started helping out she ended up getting back to her birth state. In addition, if you think she comes from a family of musicians let me tell you that you’re absolutely wrong. When asked if she grew up in a musical household, Jeanne said that she only started in the world of music when she was in sixth grade, picking up the trumpet as her first instrument during high school, also mentioning her younger brother is also into music, DJ’ing and touring with bands, despite the fact their parents are not musicians. It was only when she was in college that she started playing bass and jamming with bands, and from that moment on the world of heavy music gained a new badass bass player.

Jeanne Sagan is also known as Jeanne Wawrzyniak due to the fact she’s married to American vocalist Scott Wawrzyniak, better known by his stage name of Scotty Anarchy, the frontman for metal bands Crossing Rubicon and Piercing Immortality. In one of their interviews together, Scott and Jeanne said they met through two mutual friends, Ian Jones and Rusty Kupier, sometime in 2011, with Scott saying he was instantly attracted to Jeanne’s passion and kindness, but as he was married at that time it wasn’t the right thing to do (and Jeanne said she used to run away from him because of that connection she felt with him). A few years later Scott was single and playing a Buckcherry show, and Jeanne approached her after the show to talk, asking for his number, and they have not stopped talking since, saying it’s easy to play in a band with his wife as he gets to look to his right every night and see his best friend, his soul mate and the love of his life sharing his passion with him. Jeanne complemented by saying their bond is greater and stronger than they could have ever dreamed, mentioning important milestones like their mutual fight for sobriety as one of the things that strengthen their relationship every single day.

Regarding her 10-year stint with American Metalcore band All That Remains, from 2006 to 2015, as aforementioned she joined the band while working on the merch table for Prosthetics Records, having recorded her first single with the band that same year, the excellent The Air That I Breathe, proving she was the perfect choice for handling the band’s bass duties. After that first single, Jeanne recorded an array of first-class albums with the band, those being The Fall of Ideals (2006), Overcome (2008), …for We Are Many (2010), A War You Cannot Win (2012) and The Order of Things (2015), as well as a live album and DVD in 2007 simply titled Live, and you can enjoy her rumbling bass smashing your senses in songs such as What If I Was Nothing, This Probably Won’t End Well, Two Weeks, The Last Time, Chiron and This Calling, or simply go to the band’s Spotify profile to stream each one of those albums in full.

However, in 2015 Jeanne announced her amicable departure from All That Remains in order to pursue personal interests (and by that I mean playing bass and backing vocals in Crossing Rubicon alongside her husband), being replaced by Aaron “Bubble” Patrick, formerly of the band Bury Your Dead. At the time of her departure form the band, Jeanne commented, “It is with heavy heart that I depart from All That Remains. I’ve decided to follow my heart and pursue other opportunities in life. I truly appreciate the amazing experiences and the great fans over the last decade. I wish ATR all the best going forward.” She said that just like in every band there are ups and downs to everything, and in that particular case the negatives started to outweigh the good, which drove her away eventually. She does take away growing as a person and as a musician, though, becoming more outgoing and overcoming insecurities, standing up for herself and getting the courage to follow her own path.

Now as the bass player and backing vocalist for American Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Crossing Rubicon, Jeanne seems to be enjoying a lot more freedom in her bass playing style and in contributing to the band’s writing process, having already recorded with the band their two full-length albums so far, those being  No Less than Everything, in 2016, and more recently Seeing Red, in 2019. Formed in 2009 in Bristol, Connecticut, in the United States, and having their name inspired by the expression “Crossing (the) Rubicon”, which means to pass a point of no return after Julius Caesar’s crossing of the river Rubicon in Italy in 49 BC, the band offers a molten blend of 80’s hooks and musicianship with modern rock power and relevance, having already opened for renowned acts including Mötley Crüe, Queensrÿche, Pop Evil and many more. Hence, if you want to enjoy some of the creations by Crossing Rubicon, simply search for them on Spotify or watch their official videos on YouTube for songs like The Fallen, Who’s Gonna Save You, I Will Remain and Seeing Red.

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Apart from her career with All That Remains and Crossing Rubicon, Jeanne is also featured in several other bands and projects, all hailing form the United States. For instance, she has been the bass player for a Mathcore band called Blood Has Been Shed, known for having two members of Killswitch Engage (Howard Jones and Justin Foley) in the band, since 2012, but nothing official has been released with Jeanne on the band so far (and no one knows if that will ever happen). She’s also a member of a Heavy Metal band called Piercing Immortality under the moniker Jeanne Anarchy, also with her husband Scotty Anarchy on vocals as mentioned before, playing bass and backing vocals on their 2018 EP Systematic Global Poisoning and on their 2019 EP Risen from the Ashes, and in her years before All That Remains she was the bassist for Metalcore band Ligeia, for Technical Metalcore band Light Is the Language (having recorded with them the EP The Void Falls Silent, in 2001), and for Metalcore band The Acacia Strain in 2003. In addition, you can also find Jeanne as the guest bassist for Stoner/Sludge Metal band Oxen in their 2015 album The Vanishing.

As any true rock and metal fan, Jeanne has a lot of different influences and idols regarding not only her playing style but also her looks. She said that apart from her past in the Hardcore scene, which has obviously had an impact on her style, she also considers both of Tool bass players (Paul D’Amour and Justin Chancellor) and Jason Newsted-era Metallica as her biggest influences in music. Furthermore, although she has always looked up to rock stars with larger than life personas like David Bowie, being a little envious of all his bright and vibrant hair colors, she said she’s never done anything too extreme with her appearance, considering herself more of a Janis Joplin than a Lady Gaga, and when asked about which bands or artists she enjoys listening to, she mentioned amazing options from the rock and metal scene including Hatebreed, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, The Smiths and so on. Her equipment is also a very important part of her career, and you can see her in different stages of her life using several ass-kicking pieces such as a black cherry Spector Legend 4 Classic four-string bass with EMG 35DC active pickups and Ampeg SVT bass amplifiers, a Soundgear 4-strings and an ARTB100 four-string (the latter of which can be seen in the music video for the song Hold On), Orange amplifiers and Omega speaker cabinets, Tiny Terror 1000 watt, Boss tuner, Darkglass B7K, and Shure wireless system.

Touring is obviously a crucial piece in the career of any rock and metal musician, and it couldn’t be any different than that with Jeanne. In one of her interviews, she talked about how important it is not only to put on a great show on stage, but also to hang out with the other bands, to meet new people, to do great interviews and to convince people who are seeing the band for the first time how great their music is. Apart from festivals like Graspop and Ozzfest, where not only she said she had an amazing time and was able to watch performances by bands she enjoys a lot like Dragonforce, Jeanne mentioned that she would like to return to festivals such as Download and Rock Am Ring, and to explore a little more countries like Japan. She also said that playing a lot of shows in a short span of time plus all the traveling can be a little exhausting, but that in the end she feels great after seeing so many happy fans attending the concerts. Moreover, in order to stay fit and put on a kick-ass show on stage, Jeanne and her bandmates said that they try to stay in shape by running a lot (around the parking lots), going to the gym and cooking on the bus (instead of eating junk food), usually having much healthier eating habits than if they were all at home.

Our dauntless bassist also has some interesting thoughts about the current state of metal in the digital age we’re all living in, saying that although metal is alive and kicking, a lot of people refused to change and got stuck in their old mentalities, fighting and ignoring downloading music instead of finding a way to use it as an advantage. However, if there’s one thing that annoys Jeanne is the fact that people keep taking pictures, recording everything and posting that online when her band is playing live instead of enjoying the show. “What does get annoying is people just staring at their phones when we’re playing and I wonder, are we doing our jobs right? What can we do to get their attention? We’re there to put on a show and that’s our focus,” complained our skillful bass player, and we must all agree with her that such behavior is indeed quite disturbing. Jeanne also talked about the fact she’s been doing a lot more vocals both in the studio and on stage, both clean and harsh ones, something that she used to be insecure about and learned how to overcome by practicing and preparing until making herself more confident.

Both Jeanne and her husband Scott have mentioned in several interviews about their fight against alcoholism, their struggles and how they managed to get clean and sober, something both are really proud of. Jeanne said that she used to drink to numb herself from things that were bothering her, and that after some time she talked to Scott about sobriety and they inspired each other to get sober and stay sober, having a reason to want to wake up every single day, open their eyes and live life together to the fullest. In addition, she mentioned their involvement with Road Recovery, an organization founded in 1998 that helps addiction through music, which is very inspiring and humbling from a sobriety standpoint, and we must all celebrate everything the couple has accomplished in their lives and career by getting clean and, therefore, having more energy, creativity and focus to apply to their music. Hence, if you want to know more about Jeanne, her career, her relationship with Scott, her adventures on the road and so on, go check some of her interviews on YouTube such as this one at Carolina Rebellion in 2013, this one at Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival in 2008, and this one at Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival in 2009, among several others, where you can see why Jeanne is not only a badass bass player, but also an awesome human being and a fantastic metalhead.

Crossing Rubicon’s Official Facebook page
Crossing Rubicon’s Official Twitter
Crossing Rubicon’s Official YouTube channel
Piercing Immortality’s Official Facebook page
Piercing Immortality’s Official Instagram
Piercing Immortality’s Official Twitter

“I think that Metal is alive. It seems that people are stuck in mentalities and refuse to change. The industry fought and ignored downloading rather than finding a way to make it work for them. Also because of the Internet, people think they are going to be overnight stars—that goes for TV also. No one wants to put their nose to grind, but we will. We believe in ourselves and we believe in the scene.” – Jeanne Sagan

Album Review – Malfested / Shallow Graves EP (2020)

Behold this epic tale about a great battle between men and the undead in the form of the pulverizing Death Metal crafted by an uncanny Belgian horde.

Forged in the fires of Kortrijk, a Belgian city and municipality in the Flemish province of West Flanders, in 2020, the year of “the great plague”, the unrelenting Death Metal unity known as Malfested released on November 2, the famous “Day of the Dead”, their debut EP entitled Shallow Graves. Highly inspired by renowned acts the likes of Bloodbath, Deicide and Carnation, the band comprised of Arne on vocals and Niels on the guitar, as well as other anonymous members, offers in Shallow Graves an epic tale about a great battle between men and the undead, where they have to find a way to stop this overwhelming evil. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Cyril Hostyn, Shallow Graves exhales aggression, anger and heaviness just the way we like it in classic Death Metal, leaving us completely disoriented after the album’s 21 minutes of vicious music are over. Put differently, simply hit play and head into the violent and merciless battlefield side by side with those uncanny Belgian metallers in the name of our good old Death Metal.

Flies buzzing and the stench of dead bodies ignite the vicious onrush of old school Death Metal titled Shallow Graves, where Arne vociferates rabidly and deeply accompanied by the Hardcore-infused riffage by Niels, and whoever is playing the drums is a true metal beast. And you better be physically prepared as they keep hammering our heads and haunting our souls with their undisputed fusion of old school and modern-day Death Metal in Masked with the Skulls of the Fallen, where once again Arne’s growls and snarls sound beyond brutal, building an instant and visceral connection with the pulverizing Fields of Bloodshed, showcasing austere lyrics (“One wounded man had made it out – to the tell the tale before he bled out / Like fire the word spread through the land – a whole town crushed by a demon hand / Summon the fearless – send them out to investigate / Expose the demons – that only live in old wife’s tales”), frantic beats and the trademark scorching riffs by Niels.

I the excellent Venefica (The Banished One) we’re treated to a sick and thrilling display of savagery and hatred in the form of Death Metal by Malfested. Moreover, Arne and Niels must be really proud of the stone crusher they called to be their drummer, resulting in the perfect combination of evil sounds tailored for slamming our skulls into the circle pit. Then leaning towards the darkest form of Death Metal you can think of, you can sense sheer rage flowing from Arne’s guttural roars in Incantations, while the music remains as bestial and aggressive as possible, not to mention the demolishing but at the same time melodious riffs by Niels. Finally, Malfested show no mercy for our necks and souls as they offer our ears another infernal tune titled Cistern of Souls, inspired by the glory of 90’s Death Metal the likes of Deicide, Morbid Angel and Death, among several others, and as soon as it’s over you’ll feel desperate for more of their violent music.

I guess I don’t need to say Malfested are here to stay based on the high quality of the music found in Shallow Graves, right? Those Belgian metallers are on fire throughout the entire EP, which by the way can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, pointing to a bright (and demolishing) future ahead of them. Hence, don’t forget to follow those cryptic musicians on Facebook and, above all, to purchase a copy of Shallow Graves from their own BandCamp page. Will Arne, Niels and their henchmen win their battle against the undead armed with their undisputed Death Metal? Only time will tell, but until then we can rest assured Malfested will continue to decimate our senses with their wicked and perverse creations, elevating the name of their homeland in the underworld of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Shallow Graves and Venefica (The Banished One).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Shallow Graves 3:14
2. Masked with the Skulls of the Fallen 3:47
3. Fields of Bloodshed 3:37
4. Venefica (The Banished One) 3:48
5. Incantations 4:00
6. Cistern of Souls 3:10

Band members
Arne – vocals
Niels – guitar
Unknown – guitar, bass, drums*

* There’s no information available about the other band members.

Album Review – Ice War / Defender, Destroyer (2020)

Spelling a shift in its musical direction with a faster and more aggressive sound, this Canadian one-man army will rock your world with his classic fusion of Speed and Heavy Metal.

After the dissolution of his previous band Iron Dogs in 2015, the unstoppable Ottawa, Canada-based metaller Jo “Steel” Capitalicide (also known for his contribution to some amazing underground bands such as Aphrodite, Dexezon and Expunged) has been on a roll with his solo project entitled Ice War, releasing a stream of demos, EP’s and full-length albums at full force, culminating with the release of his fourth full-length opus now in 2020, the fulminating Defender, Destroyer. Featuring a beyond classic artwork by Canadian artist Didier Normand, the album is Jo’s personal tribute to all things Speed, Heavy and Thrash Metal with a Punk-ish, Hardcore twist, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Savage Grace, S.D.I., Razor and Iron Angel, among others, to the very first Helloween EP from 1985, spelling a shift in the project’s musical direction with a faster and more aggressive sound.

Jo begins slashing his stringed ax in great fashion in the opening track Power from Within, an ode to 80’s Thrash and Speed Metal infused with Punk Rock elements, while at the same time he pounds his drums nonstop and fires his raspy, rebellious vocals with a lot of power, followed by the thrashing title-track Defender, Destroyer, where Jo sounds even more berserk and mental, showcasing flammable riffs and rumbling bass punches while inviting us all to slam into the circle pit to the sound of his unstoppable beats. And Soldiers of Frost is even faster and more electrifying than its predecessors, with Jo giving a lesson in feeling and passion for old school metal music, resulting in the perfect composition for singing along with our talented lone wolf, not to mention how incendiary his riffs and solos are.

And there’s no sign of slowing down at all, as Jo keeps hammering our heads with his high-octane fusion of Thrash and Speed Metal with Hardcore elements in Rising from the Tomb, where it’s impressive how he sounds like a full-bodied band even being absolutely by himself. Then it’s time for a mid-tempo, headbanging metal extravaganza titled Mountains of Skulls, where Jo keeps vociferating like a beast and shredding his strings beautifully, reminding me of the early days of bands like Exodus, Metallica and Megadeth, whereas in Crucified in Fire he ventures through more traditional Heavy Metal lands, bringing forward high-pitched screams amidst his always thrilling riffage and blast beats, never letting the level of adrenaline go down and, therefore, inspiring us to keep raising our fists to his ass-kicking music. After such high-speed exhibit we’re treated to another round of classic thrashing sounds and tones in Demonoid, where Jo focuses on his strident riffs and the song’s old school lyrics, resulting in pure Speed Metal made in Canada tailored for metalheads who enjoy having a cold beer while crushing their skulls into the circle pit.

It looks like Jo is never tired of delivering tons of electricity and rebelliousness through his music, which is also the case in the Punk Rock-infused tune Skull and Crossbones, presenting a rumbling atmosphere due to his metallic bass punches and reverberating drums, and in Running Out of Time, with his vocals getting more and more enraged and inebriate, sounding as one of his biggest personal tributes to metal from the 80’s, bringing to our ears vicious riffs and solos while the rhythm remains as insane as possible thanks to his hellish blast beats. Finally, there’s nothing better to properly close an album then with a groovy and insurgent hymn the likes of Breakaway, where Jo generates a rowdy ambience with his unstoppable guitars, bass and drums, building the perfect atmosphere for delivering his classic roars, ending Defender, Destroyer in a very melodic and epic way for our vulgar delectation.

You can show your support to this talented one-man army hailing from Canada by following Ice War on Facebook and on Instagram, by listening to more of his classic metal music on Spotify, and above all that, by purchasing your copy of Defender, Destroyer from the Fighter Records’ BandCamp page or from the Xtreem Music webstore sooner than you can say “Speed Metal”, keeping the unrelenting Jo “Steel” Capitalicide pumped up and ready to rock wherever he goes. Defender, Destroyer has no artificial elements, no special effects, nor any kind of innovation; it’s a straightforward, in-your-face album of classic Speed Metal deeply rooted in the 80’s, and that’s precisely what Jo needed to bring forth in his new album to truly shine. Well, let’s say that he more than succeeded in that, taking us all on a frantic and vibrant journey to the 80’s and, consequently, putting a huge smile on the faces of everyone who loves the music from that glorious decade from the bottom of their metal hearts.

Best moments of the album: Defender, Destroyer, Soldiers of Frost and Demonoid.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Fighter Records

Track listing
1. Power from Within 3:00
2. Defender, Destroyer 3:31
3. Soldiers of Frost 4:09
4. Rising from the Tomb 4:02
5. Mountains of Skulls 4:23
6. Crucified in Fire 3:56
7. Demonoid 3:58
8. Skull and Crossbones 3:27
9. Running Out of Time 3:21
10. Breakaway 4:40

Band members
Jo “Steel” Capitalicide – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Tøronto / Under Siege EP (2020)

Weird n’ wild Speed Metal from the 80’s heavily inspired by Hardcore and Punk Rock, condensed into 22 fast and filthy minutes made in Sweden.

Weird n’ wild Speed Metal from the 80’s heavily inspired by Hardcore and Punk Rock. That combustible mixture is exactly what you’re going to get in Under Siege, the striking debut mini-album by a Swedish metal horde that goes by the unique name of Tøronto (why a band from Sweden was named after the biggest Canadian city is beyond my comprehension), following up on their highly-acclaimed 2018 demo Nocturnal High. Comprised of vocalist and guitarist Edvin Aftonfalk and bassist Dag Landin, here under the stage names Eddie Flawless and 79-83, respectively, and also featuring drummer Leo Ekström Sollenmo (from Lethal Steel and Temisto), here under the name Lt. Oxtreme, as well as one Seb Cyborg on lead guitars, this vicious quartet formed in 2017 partly out of the ashes of the sorely missed Swedish Progressive Death Metal squad Morbus Chron is ready to kill armed with their newborn spawn, providing fans of bands such as Razor, Warfare, Inepsy, Discharge and Motörhead, among others, a fast and furious ode to the 80’s free of any artificial elements, sounding “unselfconsciously” minimalist and raw throughout its eight bangers which average only around two or three minutes each, just to give you an idea of how compact and precise Tøronto are in what they do.

And you better get ready to be smashed by the quartet in the dirty and rebellious opening tune Fast and Filthy, a thrilling fusion of Speed and Thrash Metal with classic Punk Rock where Seb and Eddie will cut your skin deep with their razor-edged shredding while Eddie distills his inebriate vocals in great fashion; and their berserk sounds invade our senses mercilessly in Fire in Sight, another old school metallic extravaganza where Lt. Oxtreme pounds and hammers his drums nonstop. Put differently, this is a Thrash Metal hurricane tailored for admirers of the genre who wish they could go back in time to the 80’s (and stay there forever, of course), whereas the rumbling bass jabs by 79-93 ignite the pulverizing ode to all things metal titled Frostbite Bitch, and such beautiful name couldn’t have had a sound that’s more acid and headbanging than what it already does, spearheaded by Lt. Oxtreme and his classic, smashing beats and fills. And inspired by the early days of titans like Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica we have Mud City Maze, with the incendiary riffs blasted by Eddie and Seb being effectively complemented by the band’s heavy-as-hell kitchen, all spiced up by Seb’s traditional and always exciting solos.

Then the band offers us all 23-11-0, and whatever those numbers mean the band translates them into 80’s Speed Metal for our total delight, with Eddie sounding absolutely mental with his raspy vocals while Lt. Oxtreme doesn’t let the level of adrenaline go down not even for a single second. Adding a welcome touch of Rock N’ Roll to their fulminating sonority, they offer our ears the rhythmic Ride the Rails, perfect for hitting the road with your buddies or to enjoy a cold beer while Tøronto kick some ass onstage, whereas  in Bunker (Under Siege) the music leans towards classic Punk Rock but with the band’s core Speed and Punk Metal essence intact, resulting in a song made for uniting all punks and metallers of the world in the name of good heavy music. Moreover, Eddie’s demented growls are nicely supported by his bandmates’ visceral backing vocals, while Seb keeps exhaling sheer electricity through his guitar solos. Finally, Eddie’s and Seb’s Megadeth-inspired riffs are the main ingredient in the closing song Lights Out at Bedlam, quickly morphing into another sonic assault by those Swedish rockers while 79-83 blasts thunder and rage from his bass.

If you want to join the 100% Swedish and (unfortunately) 0% Canadian unity known as Tøronto in their quest for Speed Metal, Punk Rock and lots of booze, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, listen to more of their music on Spotify, and obviously purchase your copy of the short and sweet Under Siege from the Dying Victims Productons’ BandCamp page or webstore in regular black vinyl format or as a special edition on colored vinyl, both containing a poster, a sticker, a post card, a download code and a patch, as well as from Apple Music. In a nutshell, our roten and decaying society is under siege by a fantastic four-piece squad hailing from Sweden, and they only need 22 minutes to decimate us all just the way we like it in uncompromising extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Fast and Filthy, Fire in Sight and Ride the Rails.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Dying Victims Productions

Track listing
1. Fast and Filthy 3:24
2. Fire in Sight 3:33
3. Frostbite Bitch 2:59
4. Mud City Maze 1:29
5. 23-11-0 2:04
6. Ride the Rails 3:50
7. Bunker (Under Siege) 2:26
8. Lights Out at Bedlam 2:52

Band members
Eddie Flawless – vocals, guitars
Seb Cyborg – lead guitars
79-83 – bass
Lt. Oxtreme – drums

Album Review – Trivium / What The Dead Men Say (2020)

It’s time to listen to what these four (un)dead men from Orlando, Florida have to say in their thrilling new opus.

Three years after the release of the excellent The Sin and the Sentence, the unrelenting Matt Heafy on lead vocals and guitar, Corey Beaulieu on guitar and backing vocals, Paolo Gregoletto on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Alex Bent on drums and percussion, collectively known as Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal unity Trivium, return with another round of their always cohesive and breathtaking heavy music in What The Dead Men Say, the ninth studio album and another awesome addition to their undisputed career. Recorded at Studio 606 West in Northridge, Los Angeles, California, engineered, mixed and produced by Josh Wilbur, and mastered by Ted Jensen, What The Dead Men Say brings forward a myriad of styles and sounds that will please fans of all phases of the band, from Melodic Death Metal to Progressive Metal, Black Metal, Thrash Metal and Deathcore. “We’ve found a really great place to exist in this world. We love Melodic Death Metal, we love Death and Black Metal, and we love Hardcore. What the Dead Men Say is everything we do on one record,” commented Matt about their newborn spawn.

Furthermore, like The Sin and the Sentence, the lyrical content on What The Dead Men Say was inspired by modern aspects of life, with the album’s title being taken from a science fiction novella of the same name written by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in Worlds of Tomorrow magazine in June 1964. For instance, “Catastrophist” deals with the theme of humanity in a crisis, “Amongst the Shadows & the Stones” is about the horrors of war, “The Defiant” was inspired by R. Kelly’s documentary and abuse-enabling, “Bending the Arc to Fear” talks about the surveillance aspect of modern society, and so on, with the closing song “The Ones We Leave Behind” being about “running over” people to succeed in life, delivering a powerful message and portraying a whole new meaning in the wake of the 2019–2020 COVID-19 pandemic. With that said, it was more than obvious that the fusion of a precise and powerful music with meaningful lyrics would result in another future classic by Trivium, leaving us eager for more of their always-evolving and never-repetitive music in the years yet to come.

As soon as you hit play, the cinematic instrumental intro IX (a clear reference to the fact that What The Dead Men Say is their ninth full-length album) sets the stage for Matt & Co. to kick some ass with the title-track What the Dead Men Say, where Alex begins crushing his drums with tons of precision and fury accompanied by the scorching riffs by Matt and Corey. Bringing elements from the Progressive and Groove Metal by bands like Lamb Of God added to their core musicality, this is indeed an excellent way to start their new opus, followed by Catastrophist, one of the previously released singles of the album, keeping the groove and electricity flowing from start to finish. Moreover, its razor-edged riffs remind me of some of their compositions from their 2013 album Vengeance Falls, while Paolo makes the earth tremble with his sick bass jabs.

Then it’s time to go absolutely mental to the sound of Amongst the Shadows & the Stones, by far my favorite of all songs, presenting their trademark riffage and solos, intricate beats, tons of breaks and variations and an endless amount of violence in a hybrid of Groove, Heavy and Thrash Metal, with Matt rabidly roaring the song’s lyrics (“Bloodied corpses, broken bones reveal / A throng of clashes crushed, our nightmare sealed / Amongst the shadows and the stones”), whereas the semi-ballad Bleed Into Me, despite the solidness of the instrumental pieces (in special Paolo’s somber bass lines), doesn’t really click and falls flat after a while, but there’s nothing to worry about as this is the only low (or maybe I should say less intense) point of the entire album. And back to their usual high-octane mode the quartet fires the also amazing The Defiant, showcasing Iron Maiden-inspired guitars walking hand in hand with the vicious beats by Alex while at the same time presenting a great balance between Matt’s clean vocals and harsh screams. As a matter of fact, could this be an “alternate” version or a sequel to their classic “The Deceived” due to the sonic similarity between both songs? That’s a question only Matt, Corey, Paolo and Alex can answer, of course.

In the top-of-the-line Sickness Unto You a mellow and melancholic start gradually morphs into a violent metal feast by Trivium, with sheer rage flowing form Matt’s vocals while he and Corey demolish our ears with their razor-edged riffs, both supported by the always thunderous bass by Paolo, whereas Scattering the Ashes can be considered a good example of how diverse their new album is by blending the music from Silence In The Snow with In Waves, once again presenting a solid instrumental and spot-on backing vocals overflowing pure anguish. Then we’re treated to more of their always cryptic lyrics (“A strain of vigilance / Deep roots that all connect / We wait so diligent / Watching you / Watching you”) in Bending the Arc to Fear, starting in a Black and Thrash Metal-ish vibe and sounding perfect for slamming into the pit to the sound of the bestial drums by Alex. On a side note, I personally love the strident and metallic sound of their stringed axes throughout the entire album, enhanced by its crisp and polished overall production. Lastly, closing the album the quartet offers us all the melodic and vibrant The Ones We Left Behind, featuring the rumbling bass by Paolo accompanied by the stunning beats and fills by Alex while Matt and Corey give a lesson in riffs and feeling, concluding the album in a powerful and effective manner.

After listening to What The Dead Men Say in its entirety for a few times, you’ll quickly notice how not only the band’s technique and professionalism, but also their synchronicity, have been growing stronger and stronger through the years, pointing to an even brighter future for Matt and his bandmates in a near future and, therefore, positioning Trivium as one of the driving forces of modern-day metal music, never sounding tiresome nor predictable at all with each one of their releases. Hence, go check what the boys are up to on Facebook and on Instagram (especially because they’re all very active users of most social media platforms), subscribe to their YouTube channel, and above all that, grab your copy of such entertaining album from the Warner Music webstore or click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album (and if you have some extra money go for the Japanese Edition of the album, as it contains two very special acoustic versions for the songs “Bleed Into Me” and “Scattering the Ashes”), raising your horns, banging your head and listening to what the (un)dead men from Trivium have to say through their unparalleled music.

Best moments of the album: Amongst the Shadows & the Stones, The Defiant, Sickness Unto You and The Ones We Left Behind.

Worst moments of the album: Bleed Into Me.

Released in 2020 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. IX 1:59
2. What the Dead Men Say 4:45
3. Catastrophist 6:28
4. Amongst the Shadows & the Stones 5:40
5. Bleed Into Me 3:49
6. The Defiant 4:29
7. Sickness Unto You 6:14
8. Scattering the Ashes 3:25
9. Bending the Arc to Fear 4:46
10. The Ones We Left Behind 4:57

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
11. Bleed Into Me (Acoustic version) 3:45
12. Scattering the Ashes (Acoustic version) 3:04

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

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 – Scarlet Aura / Stormbreaker (2020)

Join the stunning Aura Dănciulescu and her henchmen in their quest for heavy music with the breathtaking second volume of their conceptual “The Book Of Scarlet” trilogy.

My fellow metalheads, it’s time to visit the charming and vibrant Romania, more specifically the country’s capital Bucharest, to have an absolute blast with Stormbreaker, the breathtaking fourth studio album by a Heavy and Power Metal unity that has been making a name for themselves since their inception in 2014 under the name Aura, but currently known by the stylish moniker of Scarlet Aura, marking the official release of the second fantasy book volume from the conceptual “The Book Of Scarlet” trilogy after their 2018 installment Hot’n’Heavy, and showing the entire world who they are through the album’s musical and lyrical parts. And let me tell you that Stormbreaker is even more powerful than its predecessor, putting the band comprised of the stunning frontwoman Aura Dănciulescu, guitarist Mihai Dănciulescu, bassist Rene Nistor and drummer Doru Florin Gheorghita in the spotlight of not only the Romanian metal scene, but anywhere else in the world where people live and breath our beloved Heavy Metal.

“As an artist I’m not afraid to dig into the unknown by approaching sensible subjects in our songs, subjects like the difficulty of being honest with others but also with yourself regarding your own feelings, the need of overcoming a huge sufferance that troubles you, the lack of courage when it’s about doing the right thing, the lack of love or the crying for it… Subjects that make ourselves human, subjects that are in each one of us and that make us who we are and maybe throughout our music, we get recovered, healed or better, we discover ourselves for who we really are because with any doubt music heals the spirit, metal heals the heart,” commented the band’s front lady Aura about their brand new opus, with Mihai adding that “Stormbreaker continues the heavy metal statement we started with Hail To You and although “The Book Of Scarlet” trilogy takes these albums into a fantasy world of discovering Scarlet, I think we’ll all realize after listening that actually Scarlet is in each one of us. Stormbreaker comes rough, it comes straightforward, it comes in your face with the powerful rhythms, edgy guitar riffs, almost psychedelic guitar solos, hard crunchy bass lines, modulations and surprises at every step not giving you the time to get bored but to want more after every song, all of us exceeding even our own expectations.”

The cinematic intro The World Is Not Enough (perhaps inspired by the James bond movie of the same name released in 1999) welcomes the listener to the magic world of Scarlet Aura, setting the stage for the infernally heavy Metal Hell, spearheaded by the soaring vocals by Aura and exhaling epicness and rage from start to finish. Furthermore, Mihai is bestial with his riffage while Rene and Doru keep the atmosphere as dense and thunderous as it can be. And the band keeps the momentum going by firing a high-octane, melodic and absolutely demolishing hymn title Battle Cry, where Mihai and Rene are superb with their stringed weapons, not to mention Aura’s enfolding vocals as usual. Needless to say, this metal anthem will work majestically when played live, which can also be said about the title-track Stormbreaker, where the band presents their more melodic side, leaning towards classic Hard Rock at times and with Rene kicking some serious ass with his rumbling bass while Doru keeps pounding his drums in great fashion.

Loose Cannon has a delicious vibe à la Iron Maiden’s classic “Stranger in a Strange Land” thanks to the thunderous job done by both Rene and Doru, but it’s Aura who steals the spotlight with her potent voice. Put differently, simply bang your head nonstop to the band’s classy and rebellious Heavy Metal. And Mihai ignites the also thrilling and vibrant I Am The One with his razor-edged riffs, again flirting with Hard Rock but keeping the band’s metallic core essence intact, therefore sounding and feeling like it was originally recorded in the 80’s; whereas it’s time to slow things down and enjoy a passionate and flammable performance by Aura in the ballad High In The Sky, showcasing an ethereal and serene ambience while Mihai blasts his precise riffs and solos throughout the entire song. Then incendiary guitar lines take the lead in the upbeat, insurgent anthem The Heretic, where Aura is yet again fantastic with her deep and potent roars, resulting in a lesson in Heavy Metal with a darker twist, all spiced up by Doru’s crushing beats.

Adding hints of Punk Rock and Hardcore to their classic Heavy Metal, the band brings forward the dancing tune Daddy’s Lil Monster, displaying an amazing sync between Rene and Doru in the background while Aura leads her henchmen with her enthralling voice. Back to a more classic sonority the band offers our ears the good (but not as exciting as the rest of the album) A Blast From The Past, presenting a decent job done by all band members despite losing its grip after a while, and closing the album Aura and the boys bring forth their own fast-and-furious metal hymn titled Scarlets United, blending elements from bands like Helloween, Judas Priest and Primal Fear into their already electrifying musicality, with Mihai putting the pedal to the metal with his wicked guitar solos and, consequently, leaving us eager for more of Scarlet Aura’s beautiful metal music as soon as the album is over.

The Book Of Scarlet is open and Scarlet Aura are more than ready to take the world of heavy music by storm with its sensational second chapter Stormbreaker, and if you want to know more about this up-and-coming Romanian squad, listen to more of their music and keep an eye on their tour dates, simply follow them on Facebook, on VKontakte and on Instagram, listen to more of their music on Spotify and, above all that, purchase your copy of Stormbreaker from the band’s official webstore in CD or LP format, as well as from other locations like Apple Music and Amazon. Aura and the boys are united in their quest for metal, ready to head into the battlefield and armed with their newborn spawn Stormbreaker, positioning the band as one of the most promising new names of the scene. Having said that, what are you waiting for to officially become a “Scarlet” in the name of Heavy Metal?

Best moments of the album: Metal Hell, Battle Cry, Loose Cannon and The Heretic.

Worst moments of the album: A Blast From The Past.

Released in 2020 Silver City Records

Track listing
1. The World Is Not Enough 1:56
2. Metal Hell 6:03
3. Battle Cry 4:33
4. Stormbreaker 4:27
5. Loose Cannon 6:06
6. I Am The One 3:55
7. High In The Sky 6:15
8. The Heretic 5:46
9. Daddy’s Lil Monster 4:48
10. A Blast From The Past 5:29
11. Scarlets United 5:09

Band members
Aura Dănciulescu – lead vocals
Mihai Dănciulescu – guitars, backing vocals
Rene Nistor – bass, backing vocals
Doru Florin Gheorghita – drums