Album Review – Disturbed / Divisive (2022)

David Draiman and his henchmen are back with a blistering angry album, bringing to our avid ears ten tracks of visceral, unfiltered Disturbed throughout its 38 minutes of duration.

With over 17 million records sold worldwide, Chicago, United States-based Heavy/Alternative Metal giants Disturbed have just released their eighth studio album, entitled Divisive, following up on their 2015 critically acclaimed album Immortalized and their 2018 not-so-acclaimed effort Evolution. As early as October 2020, frontman David Draiman stated that he wanted the new Disturbed album to be “blisteringly angry”, considering everything going on in the world with the pandemic, and let’s say the band more than succeeded in that with Divisive. Produced, mixed and engineered by Drew Fulk and mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, the album puts the band comprised of the aforementioned David Draiman on vocals, Dan Donegan on the guitar, John Moyer on bass and Mike Wengren on drums back on track, bringing to our avid ears ten tracks of visceral, unfiltered Disturbed throughout its 38 minutes of duration.

The opening track Hey You will already kick you in the head with its direct and inspiring lyrics vociferated by David (“Hey you / Have you had enough of it? / How the blind are leading the blind / Hey you / Are you angered enough / Do you feel confined / Are you losing your mind”), while the music exhales classic Disturbed for our total delight; whereas Mike hammers his drums mercilessly in the dark and heavy Bad Man accompanied by the rumbling bass by John in another display of the band’s trademark Alternative Metal. Then we have the title-track Divisive, which should work amazingly when played during their live concerts with David spearheading his henchmen with another solid vocal performance, being perfect for some fierce headbanging (not to mention how awesome Dan’s guitar solo sounds). And even heavier and more dynamic, Unstoppable presents a bestial performance by Mike on drums once again while David’s soaring vocals walk hand in hand with the slashing riffage by Dan, sounding very exciting from start to finish, whereas the metallic bass by John builds a strong base for David to roar in Love to Hate, a straightforward tune by Disturbed that feels like it was taken from one of their classic albums.

Feeding the Fire leans towards the band’s more recent albums like Immortalized, with David investing in deeper, more melancholic vocals, resulting in a fist-raising tune to the classic beats by Mike and the always incendiary riffs by Dan. After that, the band fires the beautiful Don’t Tell Me, inspired by guitarist Dan Donegan’s divorce from his wife of 18 years and featuring the iconic American singer Ann Wilson (best known as the lead singer of Heart), where an introspective start to the clean vocals by David evolves into a stunning dark ballad. Furthermore, their vocal duet is superb, overflowing passion and feeling, while the rest of the band makes sure the music remains heavy and touching until the very end. Get ready to jump up and down with Disturbed in the electrifying Take Back Your Life, bringing to our ears modern-day Alternative Metal with a straightforward chorus and a groovy instrumental, and if you want groove and heaviness you’ll have a blast to the sound of Part of Me, with John and mike generating a reverberating ambience perfect for David’s raspy vocals. And finally, we have Won’t Back Down, a great tune to close the album offering us all more of Disturbed’s undisputed heavy music, and I’m sure it will also inspire fans to raise their fists with the band if played live.

In summary, David Draiman and his henchmen did an excellent job with Divisive, especially if you compare it to Evolution, reigniting that amazing level of energy found in most of their previous albums, and you can enjoy that in all of its glory on YouTube and on Spotify, or simply purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE. Moreover, Disturbed can also be found on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for news, tour dates and more of their thrilling music. Although the name of the album is Divisive, I doubt it’s going to cause disagreement or hostility between people (as per the word’s own definition); quite the contrary, it doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime Disturbed fan or a newcomer to their rockin’ realm, you’ll certainly have a lot of fun while listening to such powerful album by an unstoppable band that continues to shine as one of the most important rock and metal groups of the past few decades.

Best moments of the album: Hey You, Unstoppable, Don’t Tell Me and Part of Me.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Reprise Records

Track listing
1. Hey You 4:28
2. Bad Man 3:22
3. Divisive 3:58
4. Unstoppable 3:58
5. Love to Hate 3:36
6. Feeding the Fire 4:19
7. Don’t Tell Me 4:31
8. Take Back Your Life 2:58
9. Part of Me 3:53
10. Won’t Back Down 2:52

Band members
David Draiman – vocals
Dan Donegan – guitar
John Moyer – bass
Mike Wengren – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Haruka Morikawa

A beautiful Japanese nightmare!

As we’re getting closer and closer to the end of another year of pure fuckin’ metal, let’s keep banging our heads nonstop to another extremely talented woman from the underground scene, this time hailing from Japan, or as several people like to call it, the “Land of the Rising Sun”. Easily switching between deep, demonic growls and an angelic, operatic voice, our metal lady of the month of November has been making a strong impact not only on the underground scene in her homeland, but her voice has been echoing all over the world and, therefore, attracting the attention of a wide variety of headbangers worldwide. I’m talking about Haruka Morikawa, also simply known as Haruka, the lead singer for Japanese Melodic/Symphonic Electro Death/Thrash Metal band Heterogeneous Andead, and just by the name of the band and the type of music they play you know you’re in for a treat in our humble tribute to such unique vocalist.

Born and raised in Japan, the skillful Haruka has been the voice of Tokyo’s own Heterogeneous Andead since April 2014, when the band’s current style reached its desired shape and form. However, the band was formed a little before that, though, starting as a project named Andead by founder and multi-instrumentalist Yusuke Kiyama in 2012, changing its name to Heterogeneous Andead in 2013 when they started playing some live concerts. Singing about caustic topics such as sorrow, grief and despair, Heterogeneous Andead have already released one EP and two full-length albums in their career, those being their 2015 debut EP Undead, the 2017 album Deus Ex Machina, and now in 2022 the album Chaotic Fragments, which will be reviewed by The Headbanging Moose sooner than you can say “Japan” and is already available for purchasing HERE. In addition to those, the band was also featured in the compilations Fear Candy 150 (Terrorizer Magazine, 2015), 嘘。(BM Records, 2015), Bad Wish (BM Records, 2015), Halloween – Trick Or Treat (BM Records, 2015), Imperative Music Compilation DVD Vol. 14 (Imperative Music, 2017), and Metal Japan Heavy Chains Vol.5 TieUp ConneXion #2 (Metal Japan Records, 2019).

Heterogeneous Andead have been suffering with several lineup changes lately, with guitarist Sho and bassist Takashi Onitake leaving the band in December 2021 and drummer Tomoyuki Nakano also leaving the band in July this year, which means Yusuke and Haruka are currently searching for a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer to join them in their quest for heavy music. I’m sure they’ll find some talented musicians to be part of the band soon, and until then you can enjoy Haruka’s unique vocals in the official videos for the amazing songs Denied, Automaton and Fission, as well as live recordings of the songs Demise of Reign, Flash of Calamity and Denied live at WildSideTokyo on September 16, 2019, and Unleashed live on February 11, 2017 at Shinjuku Head Power. Furthermore, you can always stream all of the band’s creations on Spotify as well.

An admirer of Classical Music, Jazz, Electronic Pop, Brutal Death Metal and Grindcore, the stunning Haruka doesn’t only mesmerize us all with her mezzo-soprano vocals, singing like an angel, and with her guttural growls and screeches, sounding like a devil, but she also makes sure her looks on stage are in sync with the music being played. According to her bandmate Yusuke, the concept of costumes is basically darkness or gorgeousness influenced by Japanese visual kei, a movement among Japanese musicians that is characterized by the use of varying levels of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynous aesthetics, similar to Western Glam Rock. Simply watch the aforementioned videos of the band, as well as their live performances, and you’ll see the incredible fusion of music and visuals in their creations.

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Owner of a natural Anime voice (according to the band itself), when asked about how she manages to go from her growls to her mezzo-soprano voice (and back) in seconds without having any sort of vocal issues, Haruka said she has already found the perfect way to switch from one style to another, complementing she has never lost her voice due to that extreme change. In one of her interviews our beloved vocalist said that although she didn’t feel her voice was the most remarkable piece of her identity in the beginning, she now understands and feels the power of her voice as part of her character, saying that it was Yusuke who inspired her to sing both harsh and clean vocals when she first joined the band. It was a challenge for her at first, of course, but Yusuke made sure he adapted part of the band’s style to match with her abilities, resulting in a win-win situation for both him and Haruka as the music by Heterogeneous Andead sounds fantastic nowadays. If you’re in Japan you might be lucky enough to witness them playing live, which occurs only once or twice a month, and despite not filling up big venues yet they certainly have a decent amount of followers that always attend their concerts.

Regarding the metal scene in Japan and how well their unique type of Extreme Metal is accepted in the country, Haruka mentioned during an interview that she can see metal bands having issues playing in countries or regions where the catholic church is very strong, but that’s not a problem in Japan as most of the Japanese population doesn’t follow any religion (or at least they don’t follow it blindly, I might say). What’s interesting is that Haruka is a Protestant Christian herself (and she mentioned only 1% of the country is Christian, by the way), but fortunately music and religion are not connected in any particular way in Japan. She also said that because she follows a Christian way of living she believes she can better express herself when singing with Heterogeneous Andead, externalizing all the sorrow and grief from the lyrics in great fashion.

You can watch a few fun and informative interviews on YouTube with Haruka, who’s by the way a big fan of our beloved monster Godzilla. For example, you can enjoy this nice interview to Antichrist Magazine in 2018 where Haruka and Yusuke talk about their previous album Deus Ex Machina; and this one to the Argentinian webzine Territorio Rock, also in 2018. And last but not least, anytime you watch a live performance by Haruka with Heterogeneous Andead you’ll certainly notice her movements are very theatrical, adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result. The reason for that is that not only Haruka was part of plays and musicals when she was a student, but she also practiced Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art that is split into many different styles, during her childhood, allowing her to improve the visual effects of her personal performance while singing at the same time. In other words, don’t mess with Haruka or you’ll get your ass kicked, got it? Simply relax and enjoy her unique vocals to the fullest, proving how much Japan is and will always be one of the most creative countries in the world when the music in question is Heavy Metal.

Haruka Morikawa’s Official Twitter
Heterogeneous Andead’s Official Facebook page
Heterogeneous Andead’s Official YouTube channel
Heterogeneous Andead’s Official Twitter

Concert Review – Trivium (Rebel, Toronto, ON, 10/25/2022)

The awesome night where Trivium switched from being an Orlando band to a Toronto band. 

OPENING ACT: Khemmis, Whitechapel and Between The Buried And Me

My last concert of such intense month of October couldn’t have been any better, as the city of Toronto hosted a fantastic night of modern-day metal with the Deadmen And Dragons Tour at Rebel, with the bands KHEMMIS, WHITECHAPEL, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME and the al-freakin’-mighty TRIVIUM proving that heavy music is still alive and kicking as opposed to what several “experts” say about it. It was a very comfortable night temperature-wise and the venue is awesome for concerts like that, with the only problem being as always their parking lot, which made several fans wait for over one hour to be able to get out of it as soon as the concert was over. Well, it is what it is, so let’s focus on the music which is what really matters in the end.

The first band to hit the stage at around 6:55pm was Denver, Colorado-based Doom Metal act KHEMMIS, which also opened for Mastodon and Opeth a few months ago, still promoting their 2021 album Deceivers. Their setlist might have been short but it was very cohesive and electrifying, inspiring an already big crowd to slam into the pit to their doomed and heavy creations. It was my second time seeing Khemmis, this time from the very beginning, and not only I must say I was impressed with their energy throughout their entire set last night, but I also think everyone at the venue felt the same chemistry with the band. If that’s not an invitation for Khemmy to keep coming back to Toronto, I don’t know what would be.

Setlist
Avernal Gate
Three Gates
Sigil
Isolation
A Conversation with Death

Band members
Ben – vocals, guitars
Phil – vocals, guitars
David Small – bass
Zach – drums

After a quick bathroom/beer break, Knoxville, Tennessee’s own Deathcore outfit WHITECHAPEL began their sonic attack for the delight of several diehard fans of the band at Rebel, and it was indeed a ferocious performance by frontman Phil Bozeman and his horde. From the opening tune I Will Find You, from their 2021 album Kin, to the closing moments of Doom Woods, Whitechapel drove the fans insane into the pit, with the whole band sounding on absolute fire specially during newer songs the likes of Lost Boy and A Bloodsoaked Symphony. Excellent performance by a band that I’ve never been into that much, but that I will surely give a few more listens in more detail in the near future.

Setlist
I Will Find You
Anticure
Lost Boy
Orphan
This Is Exile
A Bloodsoaked Symphony
Doom Woods

Band members
Phil Bozeman – vocals
Ben Savage – lead guitars
Alex Wade – guitars
Zach Householder – guitars
Gabe Crisp – bass
Ernie Iniguez – drums

The most “meh” moment for me of the entire night was the performance by Raleigh, North Carolina-based Progressive Metal band BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, which despite being very technical and precise in what they do, their setlist sounded a bit confusing and tiresome. The songs Revolution in Limbo and Never Seen/Future Shock, from their latest album Colors II, were played to perfection, but at least for me they lack that spark or special element that would make them truly entertaining live. There were a lot of BTBAM fans at the venue enjoying the show, though, maybe due to a different type of connection they have with the band, but as I said several people at the venue didn’t enjoy the band as much as they had fun with Whitechapel.

Setlist
Sun of Nothing
Revolution in Limbo
Extremophile Elite
Never Seen/Future Shock
The Future Is Behind Us

Band members
Tommy Giles Rogers – lead vocals, keyboards
Paul Waggoner – lead guitar, backing vocals, additional lead vocals
Dustie Waring – rhythm guitar, additional lead guitar
Dan Briggs – bass, keyboards
Blake Richardson – drums, backing vocals, additional lead vocals

TRIVIUM

Finally, at around 9:50pm, the lights went out and the DJ played Iron Maiden’s hit Run to the Hills through the speakers, inspiring everyone at Rebel to sing its iconic lyrics as a cool warmup for Orlando, Florida’s own Heavy Metal institution TRIVIUM. It was a nice moment for me personally as I had just seen Iron Maiden live in Newark last Friday, so that “bridge” from one band to another sounded really awesome to my ears. Then after the intro IX, Matt Heafy, Corey Beaulieu, Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent began kicking some serious ass with the excellent What the Dead Men Say, winning the hearts of everyone at the venue instantly.

In case you might be asking yourself why the tour is called Deadmen And Dragons Tour, that’s because when What The Dead Men Say was released back in 2020 we were in the middle of the pandemic, so there wasn’t a proper tour to promote that album before they released in 2021 the brilliant In the Court of the Dragon. That being said, their setlist was a fusion of both albums with a few old school hits the likes of Like Light to the Flies and To the Rats, resulting in a much better and obviously longer setlist than the one they played in Toronto opening for Lamb of God and Megadeth back in May.

Matt was really, really excited with the amount of people that went to see them last night and of course with the warm reception they had, reminding us all about their early days when no one knew what Trivium were in Canada. He kept saying in between songs he’s amazed with what the band and their Torontonian fans have built together, saying the crowd was so rowdy and vibrant to the point Trivium could switch from being an Orlando band to a Toronto band. I have no idea how loud their fans were in Calgary and other Canadian cities, nor how loud they’ll be tonight in Montreal, but yesterday was indeed a very special night for the band based on all mosh pits, screams and horns raised while they played pulverizing songs such as Amongst the Shadows & the Stones, In the Court of the Dragon and A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation, which by the way wasn’t played in most (or any) of their dates this tour.

By the way, Matt asked the band to stop playing In the Court of the Dragon right in the middle of it due to two stupid idiots that were about to start a fight in the circle pit. He asked them to split and stop with the fighting just like what he tells his four year-old twins, which was a funny moment that I’m sure no one at the venue will ever forget, in special those two idiots. Another thing that I find impressive is that their fans love their newest songs just as much as their old ones, with The Heart From Your Hate being one of the most special moments of the night alongside Shogun and In Waves. So now as promised, Matt, as Trivium “became” a Toronto band we want to see you guys playing ten or more concerts only in Ontario on the next tour, alright? We will be waiting for you with open arms, no doubt about that.

Setlist
Run to the Hills
IX
What the Dead Men Say
Into the Mouth of Hell We March
The Sin and the Sentence
Like Light to the Flies
Amongst the Shadows & the Stones
Chaos Reigns
The Shadow of the Abattoir
X
In the Court of the Dragon
To the Rats
The Heart From Your Hate
Shogun
A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation
Capsizing The Sea
In Waves

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

Concert Review – Accept (The Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 10/16/2022)

How can a band play without their lead singer and still sound awesome? That’s exactly what the mighty Accept delivered to the city of Toronto on one of the weirdest concerts the city has ever seen.

OPENING ACTS: Jugular, Rustik, Korrosive and Narcotic Wasteland

As I had just returned from Ottawa after seeing Iron Maiden kick some ass again, I had the “mission” to gather all the energy left in me after almost five hours on the road to head to Toronto to see the one and only German Heavy Metal institution ACCEPT deliver the purest form of Heavy Metal you can think of during their Too Mean To Die Tour 2022, and because of that I was extremely late to The Phoenix Concert Theatre and missed ALL opening acts, those being Barrie, Ontario’s Heavy/Thrash Metal band JUGULAR, Toronto, Ontario’s Hard Rock squad RUSTIK, Toronto, Ontario’s Thrash Metal horde KORROSIVE, and South Carolina’s own Death Metal outfit NARCOTIC WASTELAND. I’m really sorry, guys, but my body was asking for some rest, otherwise I would have simply passed out during one of the opening shows. Those bands are amazing, though, and if you enjoy exploring the underground I would highly recommend you go after their music, in special Narcotic Wasteland if you’re a diehard admirer of old school Death Metal.

ACCEPT

It was 9:30pm on a nice and not-so-cold night in Toronto when the mighty ACCEPT hit the stage at The Phoenix Concert Theatre, but it wasn’t their regular concert where the lights would go out and the entire band would start kicking ass with the song “Zombie Apocalypse”, from their 2021 opus Too Mean To Die. What we got was all bands members except Mark Tornillo walking to the stage with the lights still on, with Mr. Wolf Hoffmann grabbing the microphone and saying “as you can see we’re one man down”, explaining Mark had some very serious vocal issues, being prohibited to sing just 20 minutes before the concert otherwise his doctor said he could lose his voice forever. Wolf then asked if we were still OK to have a concert even without their lead singer, saying they would share the vocal duties among themselves and also ask for our help to sing along with them. Well, we were all there eager for some Accept, so what happened next was one of the weirdest and most unique live concerts ever.

Imagine five extremely talented and hardworking musicians playing first-class metal music from the bottom of their (metal) hearts, trying to sing their songs as best as they could, with no frontman to lead the crew. Is that a recipe for a massive failure? Maybe for another band, but not for Accept, who were absurdly professional and gave all they had to entertain their Torontonian fans. It was a much shorter setlist than their usual one, with all songs form their latest album being removed from their performance (probably because none of the band members could sing those), but at least we were smashed by an avalanche of classic the likes of Restless and Wild, Fast as a Shark, Metal Heart, Teutonic Terror, and of course, Balls to the Wall. Wolf was fantastic, brilliant, charismatic and perfect from start to finish, with his guitar screaming Heavy Metal and invading our minds and souls majestically. However, the man of the night for me was drummer Christopher Williams, who not only hammered his drums in great fashion the entire night, but he was the one responsible for most of the vocal parts, making his job even harder but at the same time more fun to watch. Mr. Christopher Williams, you’re a true metal beast! Thank you!

When the show was over after around only one hour there was of course a sense of frustration among some of their fans at the venue, but at the same time a lot of respect and admiration for the band for delivering a really good show even after the disastrous news shortly before their time to hit the stage. Of course I would have loved to see Mark Tornillo roaring in our faces on stage, but health always comes before any type of entertainment. I wish Mr. Tornillo a fast recovery, and may he come back screaming in the name of Heavy Metal faster than a shark. And did I mention there were plenty of mosh pits during Accept’s eccentric performance? That only shows how much those guys were professional and incendiary, inspiring some of the fans at the venue to crush their skulls into the pit even without a lead singer on stage asking them to do so. Hopefully the band will make up for such weird night on a not-so-distant future, returning to Toronto with a bigger, faster, heavier and more infernal set, but for now all I can say is that I’m proud to be an Accept fan, a band that will never surrender and always keep on fighting in the name of Heavy Metal.

Setlist
Restless and Wild
Hung, Drawn and Quartered
Midnight Mover
Demon’s Night / Starlight / Losers and Winners / Flash Rockin’ Man
Fast as a Shark
Metal Heart
Teutonic Terror
Pandemic
Balls to the Wall

Band members
Mark Tornillo – lead vocals*
Wolf Hoffmann – guitar
Uwe Lulis – guitar
Philip Shouse – guitar
Martin Motnik – bass
Christopher Williams – drums

*Vocalist Mark Tornillo was absent due to illness. Bassist Martin Motnik and drummer Christopher Williams shared lead vocal duties.

Metal Chick of the Month – Tatiana Shmayluk

Booyakah, Tatiana!

As The Headbanging Moose is celebrating nine years of existence this month of October, there’s nothing better than offering the first slice of our cake to a woman who’s undoubtedly the most important name of all time from the Ukrainian rock and metal scene, and I would dare to say even from the entire music scene in Ukraine. Born on March 15, 1987 in Horlivka, or Gorlovka, a city located in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, she’s a singer and songwriter better known as the frontwoman for Groove Metal/Metalcore act Jinjer since 2010, kicking some serious ass wherever she goes armed with both her furious roars and mesmerizing clean vocals. I’m talking about the one and only Tatiana Shmayluk, a multi-talented and humble woman who’s also a role model to countless girls out there who want to find in heavy music a way to express all of their feelings, hopes and frustrations, and I’m sure you’ll get addicted to her vocals and her music after reading this tribute to her.

Long before becoming the face of Jinjer, Tatiana was already singing and screaming according to her own mother, always listening to Russian and Ukrainian pop songs she heard on the radio. “My mother told me I started screaming when I was a very little girl. I screamed so loud I had a hernia in my belly.” Furthermore, one of her favorite songs from her childhood was the 1989 dance song Lambada, by French-Brazilian group Kaoma, which she mentioned she still sings along to it with great joy, although she doesn’t know Portuguese. She then began singing more seriously at the age of eight, taking vocal lessons for a couple of months and making her onstage debut that year in a concert hall with a choir. “The songs were accompanied with dancing. I was very nervous, and of course I screwed it up because of the dancing. So I said, ‘Never again.’ I cannot do synchronic dancing with someone else. I need to do it alone so I can control the whole thing,” commented Tatiana, who also said that it was her older brother, who was a guitar player to a Doom Metal band, who introduced her to metal music, more specifically to Aria, the long-running Moscow metal outfit hailed as the “Iron Maiden of Russia.”

Proudly carrying the flag of modern-day metal music to all four corner of the earth, Jinjer were formed back in 2008 in Donetsk, but the band considers their official start with the addition of Tatiana and guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov in 2010. None of the founding members remain with the band, with the current lineup being comprised of the aforementioned Tatiana on vocals and Roman on the guitars, together with Eugene Abdukhanov on bass and Vladislav Ulasevish on drums. Influenced by countless renewned acts the likes of Opeth, Guano Apes, Slayer, Death, Pantera, Anathema, Lamb of God, Gojira and Twelve Foot Ninja, as well as groups across the spectrum of R&B, soul, funk, jazz, reggae, and hip-hop, such as Cypress Hill and House of Pain, the band has already released four studio albums in their career, those being their 2014 debut Cloud Factory, their 2016 sophomore album King of Everything, and more recently their 2019 opus Macro and their 2021 critically acclaimed album Wallflowers, all of which have reached number one in their native Ukraine, while also seeing a total of 16 singles, six of which reached the top of the Ukrainian charts and one of which, Pisces, became a global hit and has to date sold over 20 million copies. In addition, they’ve also released three EP’s, those being Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (2009), Inhale, Do Not Breathe (2012) and Micro (2019), and the 2020 live album Alive in Melbourne. You can enjoy several of their best compositions on YouTube, such as Vortex, Judgement (& Punishment), Wallflower, Home Back, Sit Stay Roll Over, and Who Is Gonna Be The One, as well as their full ass-kicking performance live at Resurrection Fest in Viveiro, Spain, in 2018, among many, many other awesome videos, and don’t forget to also stream their full discography on Spotify.

Unfortunately, not long after the ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian military, anti-government protestors and pro-Russian rebels began in 2014, Tatiana and her bandmates had to escape Donetsk, moving to a suburb near the city of Lviv around 800 miles away, not far from the Polish border. “”But we got bored there because it’s a city for tourists,” explained Tatiana. “We rented a house but it was impossible to live there because there were problems with water, with electricity, heating. So that’s why we moved to a more civilized place.” Furthermore, when asked about what makes Jinjer uniquely Ukrainian, she said that because the band comes from a land where kindness equals weakness, a tough country for everyone including their parents, especially in the 90’s, the band members became really grind and tough. For instance, she mentioned that Ukrainians don’t go to a doctor if something hurts, for example, enduring the pain until the end. That’s one of the reasons why the band tries to never cancel any of their concerts and tours, even if it’s impossible to play, showing how strong and determined they are.

Apart from her undisputed career with Jinjer, you can also find Tatiana as a guest vocalist in an array of distinct albums and songs, including the songs Through the Never (I Will Return) and Horror of Daniel Wagner, from the 2022 album Horror of Daniel Wagner, by Ukrainian Heavy/Power Metal band Morton; the song Find My Way, released in 2022 by American Modern Metal band Lions At The Gate; the song Over and Out, released in 2021 by Australian Heavy Rock band Twelve Foot Ninja; and my favorite of all those tracks, the pulverizing Hello Death, from the 2022 album Cancer Culture, released by Polish Death/Groove Metal act Decapitated. Not only that, if you pay good attention to Jinjer’s song Judgment (& Punishment) you’ll notice several elements from reggae added to the band’s extreme music, and that’s something that comes from Tatiana as she was a part of a band that played reggae, ska, ska-punk and funk before Jinjer, playing several cover songs and singing in Ukrainian, Russian and English. “I was a huge fan of reggae. I wore dreadlocks and I was all about Rastafari,” commented Tatiana, who also said that, even being a huge reggae fan, she doesn’t smoke weed simply because she doesn’t like it.

Currently living in Los Angeles, California and spending as much time as possible on tour, having closed 2021 with over 70 concerts including many summer festivals, a short tour of mainland Europe and a two-month North American tour, Tatiana obviously misses her homeland, her family and friends, although she finds the region’s lingering Soviet attitudes unappealing, with the remnants of hardline communism surrounding everyone there. While she was still living in Ukraine, she said that “I was too young to remember life in Soviet Union, but the spirit of Soviet Union is still here. I’m living in an apartment built maybe 40 years ago, and my parents live in such an apartment, as well. All our shops and supermarkets are situated in buildings built then. So it is still like Soviet Union. And there are a lot of people who still have Soviet Union in their heads and their minds.” However, Tatiana mentioned she doesn’t feel safe when on tour it doesn’t matter which country she’s visiting, not only in Ukraine, saying she’s always afraid of going anywhere by herself.

In one of her interviews, Tatiana said it’s a surprise to her that people are still impressed that women can scream, mentioning for example female-fronted German thrash metallers Holy Moses, who she got to know when she was an 18-year old girl in Ukraine, and saying that despite the fact bands like Jinjer might impress the younger generations, the older generations have always known what women can do in rock and metal music. “Sometimes I’m annoyed, but then you say, ‘OK, well, I didn’t see a hummingbird until I was 35 years old.’ It’s always a right time to discover new stuff. It’s great that screaming women are a phenomenon.” She also said it’s incredible to know she’s an inspiration for many young women mainly because they don’t know she’s in fact a very shy person, also sensitive, fragile and easy to be offended, or in her own words, she’s not better than anyone, complementing by saying she’s just a performer when she’s on stage. “Of course there is some true shit, but I don’t move my head 24/7 and I don’t scream all the time. Well, I scream every night. But not every morning.” Furthermore, you can learn a little more about how Tatiana learned to scream by clicking HERE, from first hearing Otep to screaming Mudvayne lyrics, to the dominant force she is today.

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As any other metalhead in the world, Tatiana has a lot of idols and influences in her life, in her vocal style, in the way she writes the music for Jinjer and so on, but following those artists wasn’t easy at all when she was a young girl due to the aforementioned impact of the Soviet Union over Ukraine at that time. “Metal wasn’t accessible for me. Where I grew up in Donetsk, not many worldwide metal artists would come. They’d go to the capital, and it was 700km and 12 hours on the train. I didn’t have money because I was a teenager and my mom was strict; she didn’t give me much pocket money, although that stimulated me to earn it myself, for which I’m really grateful to her. My parents wouldn’t have let me out of the town, but that was for the best too. It made me want to play my own music and form my own band.” As mentioned, her brother was the one who got her into metal (although he stopped listening to heavy music when he grew up), but before that she used to listen to a lot of rock music, grunge and punk especially after the Soviet Union collapsing in 1991, as MTV hit the Ukrainian airwaves and she began listening to bands like Nirvana and The Offspring. She then found the music by Otep, and got addicted to the vocals by the iconic Otep Shamaya. “I think I was 15 when I heard Otep the first time,” said Tatiana in one of her interviews. “I said, ‘This dude is so cool!’ And my friend said, ‘This is a girl!’ I was like, ‘Jesus fucking Christ!’ This is the first girl I am hearing do this. I was shocked, and I wanted to shock people like her.”

Being a rock and metal artist in Ukraine wasn’t easy at all, taking Tatiana and the rest of the band around five years just to cross the Ukrainian border and play in Romania, and even longer to reach other European countries and the United States, but fortunately everything seems to be working for Jinjer now, with the band organically growing in the worldwide scene and gaining more and more respect from fans from all four corners of the earth. As expected, Tatiana has some important complaints about the Ukrainian metal scene, saying that most Ukrainian bands stick to playing in Ukraine or Russia, and that they don’t usually sing in English, the main reason why they just play in their motherland. “I was always inspired by western music culture in jazz, blues and then metal. I always had this love for English speaking music, even pop music; Britney Spears is one of my biggest idols! People can understand it easily and for me, it was always about spreading my own message through a language that is more available for people all around the world of different countries. That’s why we chose to sing in English and that’s how we made our own path.” Another major issue in Ukraine according to her is the post-U.S.S.R. thinking and mindset, where you’re not accepted if you’re different, as for example tattoos (and we all know she has plenty) are not acceptable for men nor women in her homeland.

However, as you might probably know, Ukraine is suffering with the Russian invasion that started back in February this year, and that has been hitting the band hard in their hearts and minds since then. In March 2022, it was reported that Jinjer had “paused” their career to focus on relief efforts in Ukraine after the war began. Right after that, in June 2022, Jinjer announced that they received permission from the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture to leave Ukraine and tour as ambassadors of the nation to raise funds and awareness. “We are very thankful to our Ministry Of Culture for the Ukraine who gave us this opportunity to do what we love to do, and play all the festivals we have announced. We’re using every festival to raise funds and spread awareness about the real war that is happening in the 21st century, which is crazy. It’s hard to believe, but this is the harsh reality. It’s heartbreaking, but at the same time we are also full of hope that soon it is all going be over. We are spreading positivity and hope, and we are dreaming about peace. I hope that no other European or world country ever experiences the same as the Ukraine,” commented Tatiana, also saying she has no idea when Jinjer will be able to play in Ukraine again, and that the band will never stop fighting. Moreover, in their most recent releases there are lyrics addressing the war in Donbas and its effects on their home region of Donetsk, and you can also find tons of amazing interviews with Tatiana and the boys talking about the war in Ukraine, just like this one conducted by Loudwire.

Regarding her relationship with social media, Tatiana said that due to her explosive nature she usually replies back to anyone that messages her, it doesn’t matter if it’s a positive or negative comment, saying she “enjoys” replying back to internet trolls because she’s easy to piss off. “Sometimes it’s just overwhelming. I feel like if I let it go, I will let them continue to do this shit again and again. It’s like I give them unspoken permission,” commented our stunning diva, also saying most of the feedback she gets online is actually positive. In addition, one of her favorite ways of interacting with her fans is to customize shirts she receives from them before a show and wear them onstage the same night. “Most of the time, these shirts are very personal. For example, yesterday I was given a shirt — it has a huge ape giving a middle finger and it says something like, ‘Humans destroy everything.’ It’s so related to our song Ape. They will see me wear it on the stage and it is a huge pleaser. They get double joy. I love all the things they bring to me at meet and greet. They are so sweet,” said Tatiana, complementing by saying that some of those fans are very shy and don’t want to talk a lot, being very happy with just an autograph and a photo.

Our unstoppable frontwoman also said that, in an effort to improve her own standing with Mother Nature, she tried to be a vegan for three years, but she went back to eating meat in the middle of a tour because she was starving. She said she still tries to be moderate in consuming meat, and that she doesn’t drink milk, though, revealing her own inner conflict. “I still try being vegan, but it’s really hard for me because I was raised in a family that was not very rich,” she explained. “We could not afford eating meat very often. So when I stopped eating meat, I realized that I loved meat a lot. When I smell meat, it drives me crazy. Something inside of me forgets about animals, suffering, health, environment, and I just want a good piece of meat.” You can get to know more about Tatiana by listening to our growler answering 10 questions asked by Metalshop TV (volume 1 and volume 2), as well as other interviews online such as Tatiana and her bandmates answering the most asked questions on the Internet about Jinjer. Lastly, just like several people out there (including myself), Tatiana also believes something went wrong in our evolution, saying mankind went wrong, and that although we are so small on this earth we act like we are gods, which makes her really sad. She’s trying to learn how to be happy, how to find the happiness inside, and to appreciate her life. “That’s my biggest ambition, to be happy and find inner peace, and for there to be justice for Ukraine.”

Tatiana Shmayluk’s Official Facebook page
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Tatiana Shmayluk’s Official Twitter
Jinjer’s Official Facebook page
Jinjer’s Official VKontakte
Jinjer’s Official Instagram
Jinjer’s Official YouTube channel
Jinjer’s Official Twitter

“You know what, I’m losing my faith in music. I don’t feel like I can express myself enough to say what I really feel because there are no words to explain. So, I feel like I should give up… but then something makes me go further.” – Tatiana Shmayluk

Album Review – Chimera / Gloria Mortis (2022)

Playing what can be described as a mix of Heavy and Black Metal, this up-and-coming Polish group returns with their sophomore album, as dark and heavy as it is melodic and epic.

Established at the end of 2013 in Warsaw, Poland, Chimera play what can be described as a mix of Heavy and Black Metal, which is exactly what they have to offer us all in their sophomore opus Gloria Mortis, the follow-up to their 2016 debut effort Transmutation. Recorded at Hainrich House Studio, Gloria Mortis is just as dark and heavy as it is melodic and epic, being highly recommended for admirers of the newest wave of extreme music, in special all the new names hailing form the vibrant underground scene in Poland, therefore showcasing all the talent by the band currently formed of Krzysztof Gałecki on vocals and guitars, founder Rafał “Charon” Mazur on lead guitars, Wiktor Waliłko on bass, and Andrzej Ruszkowski on drums.

An eerie intro simply titled I, where Krzysztof distills his Polish words to give it a darker edge, sets the tone for the pulverizing and grim Dunkelheit (“darkness” from German), presenting Black Metal riffs by Krzysztof and Charon while Andrzej hammers his drums powerfully, being at the same time ferocious and melodic, and kicking things off on a very high note. Then investing in a similar sound of its predecessor, Necrosis of Soul is another infuriated creation by Chimera where the band adds elements from Groove Metal and Deathcore to their core essence, not to mention Krzysztof sounds inhumane with his deep roars; whereas Madness sounds and feels even heavier and more demented, with Charon being on fire with his riffage and solos accompanied by the rumbling bass by Wiktor in an electrifying fusion of Black, Heavy and Death Metal. And the thunderous bass and beats by Wiktor and Andrzej, respectively, generate a menacing ambience in Nieistniejąc (“non-existent” from Polish), with the sharp riffs by the band’s guitar duo slashing our ears mercilessly.

The album’s “second act” begins with the horror-movie inspired interlude II, also displaying cryptic vocalizations and morphing into the intricate and groovy Immortal Self, reminding me of the music by several bands from the current American modern metal scene. Moreover, the song’s devilish growls and razor-edged riffs will pierce your mind like a bullet, whereas headbanging guitars and a Stygian atmosphere will embrace your soul in The Bable Tower, where Krzysztof continues to vociferate like a creature from the underworld in a vicious onrush of Black and Death Metal. Then in Asmodeus we’re all invited to slam into the circle pit thanks to its endless brutality, groove and electricity, with Andrzej sounding insane behind his drums supported by the metallic bass by Wiktor, resulting in one of the best songs of the album hands down. And the band keeps delivering their trademark hybrid of violence and intricacy in Dziki Sęp (“wild vulture” from Polish), bringing forward an awesome job done by Krzysztof and Charon with their Black Metal-infused riffs. There’s still time for one last breath of pure insanity entitled Among Wolves, getting heavier and heavier as time passes by, all spearheaded by the venomous vocalizations by Krzysztof before a narration-style outro named III puts a Stygian ending to the album.

If you’re an admirer of a modern fusion of Black, Death and Heavy Metal with a dense background, you should definitely give the new album by Chimera a try by streaming it in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course purchase it from the band’s own Facebook page to show your utmost support to the underground. In addition, go check what the band is up to on Facebook and on Instagram, including their tour dates, and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music and videos. Gloria Mortis is undoubtedly a step forward in the career of such promising band from the Polish metal scene, and I’m pretty sure that we’ll hear more from those guys sooner than we can imagine as their third opus isn’t far from seeing the light of day.

Best moments of the album: Dunkelheit, Madness and Asmodeus.

Worst moments of the album: Immortal Self.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. I 1:48
2. Dunkelheit 5:36
3. Necrosis of Soul 4:33
4. Madness 4:02
5. Nieistniejąc 5:15
6. II 1:22
7. Immortal Self 4:01
8. The Bable Tower 4:05
9. Asmodeus 4:30
10. Dziki Sęp 3:28
11. Among Wolves 3:59
12. III 1:07

Band members
Krzysztof Gałecki – vocals, guitars
Rafał “Charon” Mazur – lead guitars
Wiktor Waliłko – bass
Andrzej Ruszkowski – drums

Album Review – Blind Guardian / The God Machine (2022)

Seven years after the release of Beyond The Red Mirror, the most respect German Power Metal bards of all time make a brilliant return with their breathtaking twelfth studio album.

Seven years after the release of Beyond The Red Mirror, the multi-talented German Power Metal bards Blind Guardian make a brilliant return and compensate for the waiting time with their new studio album, entitled The God Machine, the twelfth in their undisputed career. Produced, recorded and engineered by Charlie Bauerfeind and Thomas Geiger, mixed by Joost van den Broek and Jos Driessen, mastered by Jaakko Viitalähde, and displaying a classy artwork by Peter Mohrbacher, The God Machine brings everything we learned to love and more in the music by frontman Hansi Kürsch and his henchmen André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen on the guitars, Frederik Ehmke on drums, and session musicians Barend Courbois on bass and Thomas Geiger on keyboards, with each song having its lyrics based on a specific novel, play, series or milestone in their personal lives, such as The Kingkiller Chronicle, Battlestar Galactica and American Gods. “We didn’t want to rehash our style from 1995, but on the other hand we didn’t want to have to continue on our current path forever. The God Machine is a new beginning for us. We’re putting everything back to square one and return to certain patterns that we neglected a bit on previous releases. Look forward to an album that is straighter, more aggressive, but always blessed with highly infectious melodies and hooks,” commented Hansi about the band’s new opus.

The rhythmic riffs by André and Marcus set the stage for the epic Deliver Us From Evil, with Hansi distilling his trademark, powerful vocals from the very first second in a pure Blind Guardian sound with no shenanigans, or in other words, this will be a fantastic opener for their upcoming concerts. In Damnation we’re treated to cryptic words darkly declaimed by Hansi (“They’re like ghosts / The ancient ones / Burning blue’s their sign / It’s all true / Hush don’t cry / Better hide”) while his bandmates deliver first-class Power and Heavy Metal nonstop in a journey back in time to the band’s early days; followed by Secrets Of The American Gods, which starts in a beyond epic, majestic manner before exploding into another headbanging, symphonic Power Metal aria, being therefore tailored for their live setlists. And it’s then time for another explosion of visceral Power Metal by the bards entitled Violent Shadows, where Barend and Frederik’s kitchen offers the band’s guitar duo the perfect atmosphere for their wicked riffs and solos.

Life Beyond The Spheres displays solid instrumental and vocals, albeit it lacks the same punch as its predecessors. The keys by guest Joost van den Broek are spot-on, though, enhancing the song’s kick. Then speeding things up and delivering a beautiful fusion of heaviness, epicness and violence the band brings forward Architects Of Doom, where Frederik dictates the pace while Hansi continues to stun us all with his unparalleled vocals; and Hansi mesmerizes us once again in Let It Be No More, starting in a serene, pensive manner and evolving into a bold and beautiful sonority where André pierces our souls with his guitar solo. The fantastic Blood Of The Elves brings to us listeners powerful lyrics (“Honor, it’s easy to dispose / In this darkest hour we’re alone / From behind closed doors it aims for her / Magic’s reaching out to draw her in / To the eye of the storm / The storm”) spiced up by a traditional, straightforward sound that will please all fans of the band, whereas just like a sinister, climatic ending of a fantasy movie we’re treated to the hammering Destiny, a great way to conclude another sensational work by Blind Guardian showcasing their characteristic vocals and riffs enfolded by gorgeous background elements.

Blind Guardian The God Machine Nuclear Blast Mailorder Vinyl Boxset

Such masterpiece of German Power and Heavy Metal can be appreciated in all of its glory on YouTube and on Spotify, but if I were you I would certainly click HERE or HERE to purchase the physical edition of the album, including the superb Nuclear Blast Mailorder Vinyl Boxset, limited to 1,700 copies, which comes with a crystal-clear double LP with red inkspot and black splatter in a gatefold with 24-page booklet, a digipack CD, a board game, a slipmat, a signed card, a sticker and a postcard set. Don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, and to stream all of their amazing videos and albums on YouTube and on Spotify. In summary, seven years between two albums feels like an eternity for us fans when the band in question is as amazing as Blind Guardian, but the wait was certainly worth it as The God Machine proves why such German metal machine is so respected and admired in the world of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Deliver Us From Evil, Damnation, Violent Shadows and Blood Of The Elves.

Worst moments of the album: Life Beyond The Spheres.

Released in 2022 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Deliver Us From Evil 5:21
2. Damnation 5:20
3. Secrets Of The American Gods 7:28
4. Violent Shadows 4:17
5. Life Beyond The Spheres 6:02
6. Architects Of Doom 6:20
7. Let It Be No More 4:48
8. Blood Of The Elves 4:37
9. Destiny 6:46

Nuclear Blast Mailorder Edition, Vinyl Boxset bonus tracks
10. Life Beyond the Spheres (Cyber Mix) 6:07
11. Destiny (Lead Guitar Version) 6:42
12. Let It Be No More (Heavy Vocals) 4:49

Band members
Hansi Kürsch – vocals
André Olbrich – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Marcus Siepen – rhythm and acoustic guitars
Frederik Ehmke – drums

Guest musicians
Barend Courbois – bass (session)
Thomas Geiger – keyboards, effects (session)
Joost van den Broek – keyboards on “Life Beyond The Spheres”
Marcela Bovio, Marjan Welman, Olaf Senkbeil, Hacky Hackmann & John “Jaycee” Cuijpers – backing vocals

Album Review – Grave Digger / Symbol of Eternity (2022)

The mighty Grave Digger go back in time to offer us all a powerful sequel to their 1998 classic Knights of the Cross based on the Knights Templar, the Crusades and the Holy Grail.

One of the most important and creative bands in the history of German rock and metal, the mighty Power Metal institution Grave Digger, is back two years after the excellent Fields of Blood with another headbanging album entitled Symbol of Eternity, bringing to our ears everything we’ve learned to love in their music since the band’s inception decades ago. Produced, mixed and mastered by the band’s mastermind, the iconic Chris Boltendahl himself, at his own studio named Graveyard Studios, and displaying a beautiful artwork by Uwe Jarling, Symbol of Eternity is a concept album based on the Knights Templar, the Crusades and the Holy Grail, working as a sequel to the band’s 1998 classic Knights of the Cross while showcasing once again all the talent and passion of the aforementioned Chris Boltendahl together with his henchmen Axel Ritt on the guitars, Jens Becker on bass and Marcus Kniep on drums.

It’s time to head into the battlefield to the sound of the epic, cinematic intro The Siege Of Akkon before Chris & Co. deliver pure Heavy Metal in the exciting Battle Cry, with Marcus dictating the pace with his old school beats accompanied by the rumbling bass by Jens. Put differently, it’s pure, unfiltered Grave Digger for all diehard fans of the band to sing along with them, and the same can be said about Hell Is My Purgatory, showcasing an addictive chorus vociferated by Chris (“Hell is my purgatory / I’m a sinner, I’m your priest / Hell is my purgatory / Faith unleashed the beast / Hell is my damnation / My holy revelation / Hell is my crematory / Hell! Hell! Hell!”) and a great sync between Axel’s riffs and Jens’ metallic bass. Then pure German metal riffage flows from Axel’s guitar in the also high-octane King Of The Kings, where Marcus once again hammers his drums in great fashion, whereas the title-track Symbol Of Eternity brings forward the band’s usual heaviness and obscurity, displaying a sluggish pace, somber passages and the melancholic vocals by Chris, albeit not as exciting a the rest of the album. After the short Middle Eastern-inspired interlude Saladin, the band returns in full force with Nights Of Jerusalem, offering our ears more of their thunderous drums, dirty riffs and raspy vocals. Moreover, we all know Chris is an amazing storyteller, and he nails it once again in this classic tune.

Heart Of A Warrior presents another beyond catchy chorus (“Take my last breath / Prepared myself to death / In my last hour / I feel the power / And I was sent by God / To be victorious / I got the heart / Of a warrior”) embraced by a classic Grave Digger sonority; while acoustic guitars kick off the mid-tempo, headbanging tune Grace Of God, with its background symphonic element adding an extra touch of epicness to the overall result. Back to a more melodic sonority, it’s time for Axel to extract sheer electricity form his guitar in Sky Of Swords, perfect for banging your head and raising your fists in the air together with the unrelenting Grave Digger, followed by Holy Warfare, a pure Heavy and Power Metal feast made in Germany with an exciting pace and riffage where Marcus pounds his drums as we dive into the battle together with the band. The Last Crusade, the last original song from the album, will darken the skies to the deep, sinister vocals by Chris while the instrumental pieces sound and feel utterly powerful. Last but not least, the bonus track Hellas Hellas, featuring guest vocals by its original singer Vasilis Papakonstantinou, has been a staple in Grave Digger’s sets whenever they played Greece, since the 90’s, and this new studio version kicks some serious ass to the point it should be played anywhere, not just in Greece (and you can compare it to the original version by clicking HERE).

Grave Digger Symbol of Eternity Limited Collector’s Hardcover Boxset

Symbol of Eternity can be savored in its entirety on Spotify, but of course if you’ve always been a loyal soldier of the Grave Digger army you can purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE, including the super limited collector’s hardcover boxset (and good luck trying to find that one available as it’s limited to only 500 copies worldwide) that includes the limited 2CD mediabook, a 115 x 75cm flag, an armband with metallic 3D emblem, an A3 poster, a signed autograph card and a certificate of authenticity. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and their electrifying tour dates, raising your sword together with Chris and his horde whenever they take your city by storm. In a nutshell, Symbol of Eternity might not get even close to being their strongest effort to date, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a powerful and gripping album of old school German Heavy Metal, proving why Grave Digger have been on the road for so many decades and showing us all they’re far from calling it quits. Long live Grave Digger, and may their Power Metal be part of the soundtrack of our lives for all eternity!

Best moments of the album: Battle Cry, Hell Is My Purgatory, Heart Of A Warrior and Holy Warfare.

Worst moments of the album: Symbol Of Eternity.

Released in 2022 ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records

Track listing
1. The Siege Of Akkon 1:03
2. Battle Cry 3:53
3. Hell Is My Purgatory 3:53
4. King Of The Kings 4:43
5. Symbol Of Eternity 5:18
6. Saladin 0:36
7. Nights Of Jerusalem 4:40
8. Heart Of A Warrior 3:46
9. Grace Of God 4:23
10. Sky Of Swords 4:16
11. Holy Warfare 3:43
12. The Last Crusade 5:20
13. Hellas Hellas (Vasilis Papakonstantinou cover) 4:00

Limited Edition Boxset/ Mediabook CD 2 (Live at Metal Hammer Paradise)
1. The Clansman’s Journey 1:31
2. Healed by Metal 4:31
3. The Clans Will Rise Again 5:31
4. Lawbreaker 3:33
5. The Roundtable 5:36
6. The Curse of Jacques 5:09
7. Season of the Witch 5:17
8. Excalibur 5:25
9. Rebellion 5:49
10. Witch Hunter 3:44
11. Heavy Metal Breakdown 8:18

Band members
Chris Boltendahl – vocals
Axel Ritt – guitar
Jens Becker – bass
Marcus Kniep – drums

Guest musician
Vasilis Papakonstantinou – vocals on “Hellas Hellas”

Metal Chick of the Month – Haley Roughton

We are food for a predator… immobilized, we die this night!

Houston, we have Heavy Metal. And it’s not just Heavy Metal, but a bold and electrifying fusion of extreme music with symphonic elements and movie scores, and if you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about I’m sure our metal lady of the month of September will help you with that. Not only an extremely talented vocalist capable of flowing from the most demonic growls to clean, groovy vocals, she also works as a spacesuit instructor and flight controller at NASA, which gives you an idea of her wide range of skills and level of intellect and energy. I’m talking about the multi-talented vocalist Haley Roughton, the frontwoman for Houston, Texas-based Symphonic/Melodic Death Metal horde The Xebellian Triangle. I bet you’re curious to know more about Haley, her work with The Xebellian Triangle and with NASA, her other music projects and so on, so get ready for a wild ride with such up-and-coming name of the current metal scene.

Before we head into her current adventure with The Xebellian Triangle, let’s take a step back and know more about her studies and career, just to give you a taste of how smart and focused Haley is and how she also applies those strengths into her music. As aforementioned, Haley has been very busy with projects and assignments at her workplace at NASA, having recently been certified as a flight controller and having already been an intern at the Avionic Systems Division (Command and Data Handling), working with MSP430 microcontroller, C language, QNAP API, HTTP protocol, general computer networks and programming microcontrollers in C in the development of software/drivers for a network-attached storage (NAS) device interfacing to the MPS430 microcontroller for the Modular Integrated Stackable Layers (MISL) project. Not only that, she was also an intern a few years ago for a company called Magaw Medical, in Texas, laying the foundations for a wireless, HD video laryngoscope, and also a student researcher at Texas Christian University, where by the way she graduated in Engineering with Electrical Emphasis. Moreover, she’s awesome in LTSpice/PSpice, MS Excel, C, MATLAB and Inventor/AutoCAD, among other technical skills needed in her career.

Do you think Haley is a nerd or geek after reading about her career? Well, yes, but of course she’s proud of that, and when you listen to her vocals with her bandmates from The Xebellian Triangle you’ll then realize she’s not just a nerd, but a badass nerd. Currently formed of Haley on vocals, who joined the band in the spring of 2021, alongside Ivy Jayne Lance (Suicide Pandemic, The Crypt Alive, The Isdal Cadaver, Remnants of Izanagi) on the guitars, Hakeem De Hoyos on bass, and Aron Hetsko (Aethereus, The Crypt Alive, Dorzia) on drums, The Xebellian Triangle were formed back in 2019 by Ivy and Aron, who had their initial band together in high school and after several years  met up to talk about how it would be great to finish their old songs, put them out and play them live, leading to the birth of The Xebellian Triangle, with their sound being inspired by renowned acts the likes of Amon Amarth, The Black Dahlia Murder, Epica, Dimmu Borgir and Fleshgod Apocalypse, among several others. After releasing a few singles starting in December 2021, The Xebellian Triangle (also referred to as TXT) released in the beginning of July their debut full-length opus, entitled At the Banks of the Rubicon (which is by the way available in full on Spotify), offering us all nine songs of first-class Melodic and Symphonic Death Metal with Haley kicking some serious ass on vocals, as you can witness in the songs Dracarys, with Haley being also responsible for its lyrics and arrangements (and which also has a very nice vocal playthrough by our metal diva on YouTube), and Confirmed.

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Sometimes labeled by the band itself as “The Black Dahlia Murder meets Hans Zimmer”, the music by The Xebellian Triangle is highly influenced by fantasy books, movies and series the likes of The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and The Witcher, among several others, as well as games such as World of Warcraft, which Haley plays (or at least used to play) on her free time, and sci-fi and horror films including John Carpenter’s The Thing, one of Haley’s favorite horror movies of all time. As already mentioned, Haley was involved in the development of some of the album lyrics and arranging patterns during the recording process by offering different perspectives, and if you click HERE you’ll have access not only to the band’s top-of-the-line creations, but also to their tour dates, merch, social media links and so on, seeing how focused and hardworking the entire band is and how they added all of those influences into their music. As you can see in Haley’s influences as well as in the rest of The Xebellian Triangle’s, they are all kind of nerds with their own varying preferences, including the aforementioned books, movies, shows, games and other things like anime, but Hailey also brings to the band elements from R&B thanks to her vocal training, adding more clean singing spots where they fit in the music by The Xebellian Triangle. Moreover, the band also tries to speak on things that are important to them such as feminism, the fight for racial equality, gay rights, trans rights, and supporting methods that build a greener, cleaner, safer, fairer world.

Always developing a portfolio of covers to show off her vocal ranges both clean and harsh on her YouTube channel, including Take This Lonely Heart, by Nothing But Thieves, Out of Time, by Skyharbor, and Holy Roller, by Spiritbox, Haley has also been part of a Death Metal band named Dorzia since 2021, having already recorded with them the singles  Blood Portrait, Looking In and Deity’s Grasp, with all three songs demonstrating Haley’s flexibility in her extreme vocals from gutturals to piercing high screams. Calling themselves “sonic brutality from Houston, Texas”, this six-piece act fronted by Haley has a lot of potential to grow in the coming years, and I can’t wait to see if their first ever EP or full-length album will become a reality in a not-so-distant future. In addition, just like what was mentioned about The Xebellian Triangle, you can find all details, important links and other shenanigans about Dorzia by clicking HERE. Furthermore, in addition to her recent work with The Xebellian Triangle and Dorzia, Haley was also featured as a guest vocalist in the song Oubliette, released in November 2021 as a single by an Austin, Texas-based Deathcore outfit named Snake Father, and let me tell you that Haley simply stole the show with her infernal she-wolf growls.

Regarding their live performance, The Xebellian Triangle always bring a lot of energy to the stage, with Haley loving to run and jump around, therefore engaging with the crowd whenever possible, not to mention Haley and Ivy both have stage clothes they wear to keep a recurring image. The band mentioned in one of their interviews that they plan to expand further in this and always want to bring new and exciting things to the live show, and we all know that usually translates into some extra awesomeness to the performance of any band. There are no current dates scheduled for The Xebellian Triangle for the rest of 2022 due to personal reasons, though, such as Haley doing some travelling on her own, but I’m sure it won’t take long for The Xebellian Triangle to take your city by storm. Hence, I wouldn’t miss the chance to see them live if I were you simply because you’ll be able to see one of the most exciting new names of the current American metal scene, fronted by a multi-talented woman who’s eager to scream and roar in your face and show you that no matter what happens, the stage is hers.

Haley Roughton’s Official Instagram
The Xebellian Triangle’s Official Facebook page
The Xebellian Triangle’s Official Instagram
The Xebellian Triangle’s Official YouTube channel
The Xebellian Triangle’s Official Twitter

Concert Review – Scorpions (Bell Centre, Montreal, QC, 08/27/2022)

And the city of Montreal still believes in the Rock N’ Roll played by the most important band in the history of Germany.

OPENING ACT: Thundermother

One week after the stunning Rammstein concert in Montreal, and after several hikes through trails and mountains in different parks in Quebec, I was back to Montreal for an explosion of classic Rock N’ Roll at the Bell Centre thanks to the Rock Believer World Tour 2022 by the one and only German Hard Rock institution SCORPIONS, supported by the electrifying Swedish girls from THUNDERMOTHER. Unfortunately, due to an infection that afftecs Mr. David Coverdale’s ability to perform, there will be no Whitesnake in any of the North American dates, which was also the case in Montreal, reducing the whole night to three hours of music instead of maybe four and a half, and that’s my only complaint about the whole concert as they could have given Thundermother another 20 or 30 minutes to play.

Anyway, the crowd had only one hour form the opening of the doors at 6pm until the unstoppable girls from THUNDERMOTHER took Montreal by storm with their breathtaking Rock N’ Roll, presenting songs from their entire career while focusing as expected on their latest albums Heat Wave, from 2020, and their newborn beast Black and Gold, which will be reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose Show sooner than you can say “Rock N’ Roll”. Frontwoman Guernica Mancini, guitarist Filippa Nässil, drummer Emlee Johansson, and newcomer Mona “Demona” Lindgren, who has recently replaced Majsan Lindberg on bass, put on a tremendous show that will surely help to grow their fanbase in Canadian lands, delivering nonstop fire and energy to the audience. Songs like Whatever, Black and Gold and Loud and Free are pure adrenaline in the form of music, but it was their last batch of songs comprised of We Fight for Rock ‘n’ Roll, Watch Out and their rockin’ hymn Driving in Style that truly showed why they were chosen to open for the mighty Scorpions and why they’re becoming more and more famous and admired in the world of music. Guernica’s voice is like thunder, so powerful and loud, that I wonder where she will go armed with such striking pipes. Hopefully back to Canada in a not-so-distant future for a few more concerts.

Setlist
Whatever
The Road Is Ours
Dog From Hell
Try with Love
Back in ’76
Black and Gold
Loud and Free
I Don’t Know You
We Fight for Rock ‘n’ Roll
Watch Out
Driving in Style

Band members
Guernica Mancini – vocals
Filippa Nässil – guitar
Mona “Demona” Lindgren – bass
Emlee Johansson – drums 

SCORPIONS

After a very short break it was time for the most important band in the history of Germany to kick some serious ass with their undisputed fusion of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll, putting a huge smile on the faces of every single person at the Bell Centre. As the name of the opening song of this new tour already says, the rockin’ SCORPIONS still have a lot of “gas in the tank”, which became crystal clear throughout their entire set blending new songs from the excellent Rock Believer with some of their biggest classics including Make It Real, Bad Boys Running Wild, Tease Me Please Me and Blackout. There was no time to breathe as those German rockers put the pedal to the metal until the very end, turning the night into another memorable visit to Montreal.

I honestly don’t know how Mr. Klaus Meine keeps on rockin’ like that at 74 years of age. He’s not human, he can’t be, as not only his voice is still fantastic, but his onstage performance is captivating. The same can be said about the band’s axe duo Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker, supported by the rumbling bass by Paweł Mąciwoda and, of course, the demolishing beats by Mikkey Dee. To be fair, I can’t think of a better place for Mikkey Dee to be after the end of Motörhead, and Scorpions are really lucky for having such talented drummer with them as they’ve never sounded so heavy and groovy in their entire career (and may that happy marriage last for all eternity).

From their new songs, the most exciting ones were of course the opener Gas in the Tank and Peacemaker, but the title-track Rock Believer also worked really well live inspiring us all to raise our fists and horns in the name of Rock N’ Roll. And what can I say about their classics? How many bands do you know that have so many rock hymns like Scorpions? Who doesn’t love to sing out loud Send Me an Angel, Big City Nights and Still Loving You from the bottom of their hearts? And what they did with the touching Wind of Change, adapting the original lyrics in support of Ukraine, is a thing of beauty that everyone at the venue loved to sing together with the band while the background showed the peace sign with the Ukrainian colors. “Now listen to my heart / It says Ukrainia / Waiting for the wind to change…”

As usual, a Scorpions concert is not complete without the Rock N’ Roll hit Rock You Like a Hurricane, and it didn’t matter if it was a little kid or a 75-year old lady, everyone who attended their concert at the Bell Centre screamed, danced and raised their fists in the air during the entire song, ending with a loud-as-hell standing ovation to the band that lasted for several minutes. It was deafening, sometimes even louder than the rock music played by Scorpions, showing how much respect and love the fans in Montreal have for the band. I almost missed Scorpions because their show in Toronto was on the same day as Rammstein in Montreal, but I’m glad I made the right decision to see them in Montreal a few days later. Why? Because just like the city of Montreal, I believe in the Rock N’ Roll played by Scorpions.

Setlist
Gas in the Tank
Make It Real
The Zoo
Coast to Coast
Seventh Sun
Peacemaker
Bad Boys Running Wild
Delicate Dance
Send Me an Angel
Wind of Change
Tease Me Please Me
Rock Believer
Blackout
Big City Nights

Encore:
Still Loving You
Rock You Like a Hurricane

Band members
Klaus Meine – vocals
Matthias Jabs – guitars
Rudolf Schenker – guitars, backing vocals
Paweł Mąciwoda – bass
Mikkey Dee – drums

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