Album Review – Trivium / In the Court of the Dragon (2021)

It’s time to join Trivium in the court of the dragon to the sound of their magnificent new opus.

“In the court of the dragon
Death of gods and world
In the court of the dragon
You will know your worth”

After getting back on track with their two previous albums, those being the excellent The Sin and the Sentence, released in 2017, and What The Dead Men Say, released in the beginning of 2020, Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal unity Trivium continues to deliver their trademark fusion of violence, speed and intricacy with their newborn spawn, beautifully titled In the Court of the Dragon, the tenth studio album in their beyond solid career. Produced by Josh Wilbur and mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, In the Court of the Dragon sounds and feels even better than its predecessors, proving the isolation during the pandemic was extremely productive for vocalist and guitarist Matt Heafy, guitarist Corey Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto, and drummer Alex Bent, who as I always like to say elevated Trivium’s sound to a whole new level after joining the band in 2017, and in their new album he sounds even more awesome than usual.

Composed and arranged by Emperor’s own Ihsahn, X is an epic, dark and cinematic intro that warms up our senses for the fulminating In the Court of the Dragon, where Matt begins screaming the song’s powerful lyrics (“In the court of the dragon / Death of gods and world / In the court of the dragon / You will know your worth”) accompanied by the headbanging riffs and beats by Corey and Alex, whereas an imposing start morphs into sheer adrenaline in Like a Sword Over Damocles, with Matt and Corey kicking ass on the guitars while Paolo makes the earth tremble with his bass jabs. Needless to say, Alex adds tons of intricacy and feeling to this already fantastic composition, turning it into my favorite of the entire album. Then we have Feast of Fire, the second single of the album and a solid, traditional Trivium song, albeit not as powerful as the rest of the album. Then it’s time for another frantic, high-octane creation by the quartet named A Crisis of Revelation, providing an excellent balance between their heaviest side and their more melodious, clean sounds, and if played live it will surely ignite some fun mosh pits during their live concerts.

In The Shadow of the Abattoir we’re treated to a gentle beginning to the deep, clean vocals by Matt, evolving into another complex Melodic Death and Heavy Metal feast spearheaded by Alex and his unstoppable drums and spiced up by their sick guitar solos; and more of their groovy sounds are offered to us all in the neck-breaking No Way Back Just Through, with Matt once again thriving with both his clean singing and enraged roars. A massive wall of sounds will hammer your head mercilessly in Fall Into Your Hands, even heavier and more detailed than its predecessors, where Matt screams nonstop from the bottom of his heart while his bandmates add elements from Progressive, Death and even Symphonic Metal to their core sonority. It looks like the guys form Trivium wanted to offer endless heaviness in their new album, and they more than succeeded in that as From Dawn to Decadence is another bestial Metalcore tune where Matt, Corey and Paolo are in absolute sync from start to finish with their infernal riffage and bass. Lastly, closing the album we face one final round of their trademark wicked lyrics in The Phalanx (“Within the thrill, amidst the kill / One against all, soon blood will spill / We cannot wait to make your pain / We are the burn inside your brain”) amidst a hurricane of heavy sounds that lasts for stunning seven minutes.

Trivium are a band that at the same respects their past while always looking towards the future, and In the Court of the Dragon (available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify) is the perfect depiction of that, pointing to an even brighter future ahead of those four talented metallers who are becoming one of the most important bands of the current scene worldwide. Hence, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube for news, tour dates, and more of their sick music and videos, and if you want to add the majestic In the Court of the Dragon to your personal collection, you can purchase it from their official webstore, or click HERE for several other places where you can buy the physical or digital copy of the album. As the lyrics to the title-track say, “in the court of the dragon you will know your worth”, and if you’re there to the sound of Trivium’s new album, you can rest assured the “dragon” will provide you with exactly what you deserve.

Best moments of the album: In the Court of the Dragon, Like a Sword Over Damocles, A Crisis of Revelation and Fall Into Your Hands.

Worst moments of the album: Feast of Fire.

Released in 2021 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. X 1:26
2. In the Court of the Dragon 5:09
3. Like a Sword Over Damocles 5:30
4. Feast of Fire 4:18
5. A Crisis of Revelation 5:35
6. The Shadow of the Abattoir 7:11
7. No Way Back Just Through 3:53
8. Fall Into Your Hands 7:45
9. From Dawn to Decadence 4:08
10. The Phalanx 7:15

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

Guest musician
Ihsahn – orchestration and synths on “X”

Album Review – Rampart / WWII: Memories For The Future (2021)

Let’s join Maria and the boys into the battlefield to the sound of their newborn opus, encompassing less known historical facts about the most destructive war in world’s history.

Founded in 2006 in Sofia, Bulgaria and led by frontwoman Maria “Dièse” Doychinova, the unstoppable Heavy Metal war machine that goes by the name of Rampart returns to the battlefront with their fifth full-length installment, entitled WWII: Memories For The Future, featuring 11 tracks full of energy, epicness, speed and violence. Produced by Maria Dièse herself, mastered by Michael “Miro” Rodenberg at Gate Studio, displaying a classic artwork by Stefan Valkanov, and featuring Rock Thrashler (aka Svetoslav Slaveykov) as a World War II and sound consultant and Valdemar (aka Vladimir Ivanov) as a guest bassist in four songs, WWII: Memories For The Future is a concept album that encompasses less known historical facts about the most destructive war in world’s history, all wrapped up by the straightforward, ass-kicking metal music brought forth by the aforementioned Maria together with guitarists Yavor Despotov and Sebastian Agini, bassist Svilen Ivanov and drummer Stefan Mijalković.

The guitars by Yavor and Sebastian ignite the opening tune June 22nd, inspired by Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union which started on Sunday June 22, 1941, with Maria delivering an epic vocal performance; whereas investing in a more melodic and thrashier sound, the quintet blasts the solid Napalm Stars, with Stefan dictating the song’s galloping pace accompanied by the rumbling bass by Svilen, showcasing interesting breaks and variations as well as elements from Progressive Metal. In Entropy Of Mind the band once again unites Heavy Metal with Hard Rock and Thrash Metal, resulting in a headbanging massacre spearheaded by the vicious beats by Stefan while Maria keeps stunning us all with her vocal lines; and drinking from the fountain of NWOBHM, the band delivers an Iron Maiden-inspired extravaganza titled Twice Occupied, with Yavor and Sebastian stealing the spotlight with their sharp riffs and solos, followed by Luftraum, switching gears to a more modern sonority, more inclined to Thrash Metal than Heavy Metal where Maria sounds infuriated on vocals.

Back to a more traditional musicality, it’s time to go all the way to the 80’s to the sound of Stormtalkers, where Maria is effectively supported by her bandmates’ backing vocals while the band’s guitar duo once again slashes their stringed axes nonstop. Valdemar makes sure the earth tremble to the sound of his bass in the fast and direct Power Metal tune Wolfsrudel, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline; while a Megadeth-like atmosphere will embrace your soul in Overcast Omen, with Maria and the boys bringing forward more of their old school metal music, and with Valdemar being once again on fire with his bass jabs. Then we have Harleys In Berlin, a tribute to all things metal by Rampart where the riffage by Yavor and Sebastian will pierce your ears in great fashion, while Maria declaims the song’s fresh and vibrant lyrics. Not only that, Yavor is also brilliant with his classy piano notes; whereas razor-edged riffs and solos are the main ingredients in the upbeat metal feast titled Black Sun, with Maria kicking some ass on vocals while Stefan doesn’t let the energy go down with his rhythmic beats and fills. Lastly, closing the album it’s time for another fast-paced, metallic creation entitled Now We Are One, again showcasing the band’s talent and passion for heavy music.

Maria and the boys are waiting for you to join their metallic army on Facebook, especially if you’re a fan of bands such as Helloween, Doro, Battle Beast and Burning Witches, and if you want to give WWII: Memories For The Future a try you can enjoy it in full on YouTube and on Spotify. In addition, don’t forget to show your utmost support to Rampart by purchasing their new opus from the Sleaszy Rider Records’ BandCamp page or webstore as a regular CD or as a CD + DVD combo including their live performance at Wacken Open Air in 2017 plus a couple of interviews and official videos, as well as from Apple Music or from Amazon. When heavy music and World War II are put together the final result is usually above average, but in the case of Rampart they more than nailed it with their new album, pointing to an even brighter future ahead of those Bulgarian warriors.

Best moments of the album: Entropy Of Mind, Harleys In Berlin and Black Sun.

Worst moments of the album: Luftraum.

Released in 2021 Sleaszy Rider Records

Track listing
1. June 22nd 3:09
2. Napalm Stars 5:50
3. Entropy Of Mind 3:41
4. Twice Occupied 4:00
5. Luftraum 4:30
6. Stormtalkers 3:06
7. Wolfsrudel 4:28
8. Overcast Omen 5:42
9. Harleys In Berlin 5:07
10. Black Sun 4:32
11. Now We Are One 4:13

Dics 2 (DVD)
1. Apocalypse Or Theatre (Live At Wacken) 6:02
2. June 22nd (Live At Wacken) 3:10
3. Napalm Stars (Live At Wacken) 5:25
4. The Flood (Live At Wacken) 4:08
5. Give Nothing Back (Live At Wacken) 3:55
6. Crown Land (Live At Wacken) 3:38
7. Ghost Of Freedom (Live At Wacken) 4:50
8. Interview with Wacken Foundation 14:10
9. Interview with Rampart 8:39
10. June 22nd (Official Music Video) 3:31
11. Entropy Of Mind (Official Music Video) 3:54

Band members
Maria Dièse – vocals
Yavor Despotov – guitars, bass and piano on “Harleys In Berlin”
Sebastian Agini – guitars
Svilen Ivanov – bass
Stefan Mijalković – drums

Guest musicians
Valdemar – bass on “Luftraum”, “Wolfsrudel”, “Overcast Omen” and “Now We Are One”

Album Review – KK’s Priest / Sermons of the Sinner (2021)

Are you ready to listen to the sermons of this classic Heavy Metal band of sinners?

Back in January 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was just about to hit us all really hard, Mr. Kenneth Downing, Jr., better known as Judas Priest’s former guitarist KK Downing, announced he would work on brand new music alongside former Judas Priest vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens, guitarist A.J. Mills, bassist Tony Newton and drummer Les Binks (who also played with Judas Priest from 1977 to 1979), later replaced by Sean Elg due to a wrist injury, forming a classic metal band that goes by the name of KK’s Priest. Most probably due to the pandemic, the band’s debut effort Sermons of the Sinner, which was produced and mixed by KK himself together with Tony, and mastered by Ade Emsley (Iron Maiden, Blaze Bayley, Absolva) at Table of Tone Mastering, had to be delayed up until this month, but the wait was totally worth it despite the band’s cheesy name and the album’s even cheesier lyrics, as KK and his henchmen brought forth a solid, old school Heavy Metal album that will certainly please most admirers of KK’s undisputed career.

In the intro Incarnation, a heavy storm, the sound of thunder and an ominous background narration set the stage for the band to kick some serious ass in Hellfire Thunderbolt, where the metallic riffs by KK and A.J. provide Ripper all he needs to stun us all with his infernal roars while Sean dictates the song’s old school pace. This is what I call an pulverizing welcome card by KK’s Priest, whereas in Sermons of the Sinner, even more epic and demonic than its predecessor, Ripper steals the spotlight with a flawless vocal performance supported by the rumbling bass by Tony and the crushing drums by Sean, while KK delivers his trademark fiery solos in a newborn metal classic. Then it’s time for another pure Heavy Metal extravaganza titled Sacerdote y Diablo, with Ripper sounding awesome as usual on vocals while we’re also treated to some epic background elements as a complement to the band’s incendiary sound. And Raise Your Fists is a straightforward Heavy Metal hymn perfect for their upcoming live concerts, presenting a great sync between KK and A.J. supported by the spot-on bass by Tony.

In Brothers of the Road, albeit the lyrics are cheesy as hell they do what they’re supposed to anyway, walking hand in hand with its direct sound that’s not as awesome as the rest of the album, but still very enjoyable. Then a melancholic start is gradually accompanied by the pounding beats by Sean in Metal Through and Through, bringing forward elements from the darkest creations by Black Sabbath with Dio on vocals (when they were called Heaven & Hell), or in other words, it showcases a beautiful Doom Metal vibe; and let’s put the pedal to the metal as KK is on absolute fire in Wild and Free, an in-your-face onrush of heavy and piercing sounds that will put you to bang your head nonstop, led by the visceral, soaring vocals by Ripper. In Hail for the Priest I’m not sure if KK’s trying to send a message to the guys from Judas Priest or simply saying he’s the real Judas Priest; either way, simply forget about their beef and enjoy another solid metal tune where KK once again slashes his axe in great fashion, followed by Return of the Sentinel, another direct mention to Judas Priest (more specifically to their classic song “The Sentinel”) showcasing a great job done on the guitars and bass while Ripper declaims the song’s words with tons of power, resulting in what’s by far the album’s most epic creation.

If you haven’t given Sermons of the Sinner a try yet, you can enjoy it in full on Spotify, and also get to know more about KK’s plans for the future with his new band on Facebook and on Instagram, enjoy all of their videos on YouTube, and grab your copy of the album by clicking HERE. When speaking to KNAC in June this year about Sermons of the Sinner, KK said that he was already working on material for the next album by KK’s Priest, which would be more of a collaboration effort than the first album, and if it’s half as good as Sermons of the Sinner we can rest assured there will be a lot of high-end metal music for us in the near future. I just wish he could change the name of the band to something more creative and unique, but let’s face it, in the end that doesn’t really matter as it’s always about the music, and the music found in Sermons of the Sinner is beyond awesome.

Best moments of the album: Hellfire Thunderbolt, Sermons of the Sinner, Metal Through and Through and Wild and Free.

Worst moments of the album: Brothers of the Road.

Released in 2021 EX1 Records

Track listing
1. Incarnation 0:58
2. Hellfire Thunderbolt 3:49
3. Sermons of the Sinner 5:25
4. Sacerdote y Diablo 5:35
5. Raise Your Fists 4:10
6. Brothers of the Road 3:22
7. Metal Through and Through 8:13
8. Wild and Free 4:15
9. Hail for the Priest 5:44
10. Return of the Sentinel 8:59

Band members
Tim “Ripper” Owens – vocals
KK Downing – guitars
A.J. Mills – guitars
Tony Newton – bass
Sean Elg – drums

Album Review – Lady Beast / Omens EP (2021)

Bang your head nonstop to the straight-to-the-point new EP of pure Heavy Metal by this fantastic Pittsburgh-based band, sprinkling a dust on the poisoned path from which they summit.

The stunning Deborah Levine and her bandmates Andy Ramage and Chris Tritschler on the guitars, Amy Bianco on bass and Adam Ramage on drums, collective known as Pittsburgh, United States-based Heavy Metal outfit Lady Beast, are back in action now in 2021 with a short and sweet EP entitled Omens, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2020 album The Vulture’s Amulet, featuring four original tracks plus a very special cover song that transpire pure Heavy Metal throughout the EP’s almost 20 minutes of music. Sprinkling a dust on the poisoned path from which Lady Beast summit, Omens is highly recommended for admirers of the NWOBHM combined with the badass music and rockin’ attitude by Motörhead, Thin Lizzy and Mercyful Fate, among others, providing newcomers to their metallic realm a very good sample of what the band has been delivering to their fans since their inception in 2009, and of what we can expect from such talented crew in their future releases.

The Poisoned Path already brings pure Heavy Metal to our avid ears, with its old school lyrics declaimed by Deborah (“I go out in the dark, / I whisper to the night… / A voice, it soon replies… / Secure a candles flame, / and sharpen up your blade. / Follow me down the poisoned path I’ve made.”) making things even more exciting, while Amy kicks some ass with her low-tuned bass. Then it’s time for more of the band’s melodic sounds in Reaper, with Andy being on fire with his riffs and solos accompanied by his guitar comrade Chris, feeling utterly inspired by the classic music by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest; and they continue to travel through the golden years of rock and metal in Blood For Blood, with Adam smashing his drums in great fashion while Deborah mesmerizes us all once again with her sharp and captivating vocals. After such powerful tune, Lady Beast pay a high-octane tribute to the one and only Rainbow with their electrifying rendition for the undisputed classic Kill the King (you can check the original song HERE), with Deborah and the boys (and girl) being on fire from start to finish, specially Andy and Chris who deliver together sheer awesomeness through their guitars. Last but not least, let’s bang our heads once again to the pounding drums by Adam in the thrilling The Fool’s Journey, showcasing incendiary riffs and solos supported by the rumbling bass by Amy, therefore providing Deborah all she needs to shine on vocals.

If you want to give Omens a spin, you can find the EP in its entirety on YouTube, but of course in order to show your true support to underground Heavy Metal you should definitely purchase a copy of it from the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as from the Reaper Metal Productions’ webstore in regular CD format or as an ass-kicking 12″ LP on screen printed black/white splatter vinyl that comes with a 11×11 two sided insert with band photo and lyrics (and as side A is the only playable side, on side B is a screen printed image in metallic silver ink). Also, don’t forget to give the band a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their first-class music and stylish videos. I guess I don’t need to explain that the omens found in Lady Beast’s new EP are all beyond good, but just in case you don’t believe me, simply hit play and let this fantastic beast from Pittsburgh show you how heavy music should be played. I bet you’ll instantly fall in love for their music.

Best moments of the album: Kill the King and The Fool’s Journey.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Reaper Metal Productions

Track listing
1. The Poisoned Path 3:26
2. Reaper 3:50
3. Blood For Blood 3:34
4. Kill the King (Rainbow cover) 4:17
5. The Fool’s Journey 4:25

Band members
Deborah Levine – vocals
Andy Ramage – lead guitar
Chris Tritschler – rhythm guitar
Amy Bianco – bass
Adam Ramage – drums

Album Review – Iron Maiden / Senjutsu (2021)

Behold another masterpiece by the one and only Iron Maiden with its 82 minutes of tactics, strategy, war, resilience and determination in the form of majestic Heavy Metal.

5.0rating

iron-maiden-senjutsu-2021“Have you seen the writing on the wall?”

The wait is finally over. After nearly six years, Senjutsu (or 戦術 in Japanese, loosely translated as “tactics and strategy”), the seventeenth studio album by British Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden, has finally seen the light of day, and let me tell you each second waiting for such masterpiece was absolutely worth it. Marking the longest gap between two Iron Maiden studio albums following The Book of Souls from 2015, Senjutsu is also the band’s second double album, again using their original logotype (with the extended letters R, M and N) like in The Book of Souls, their first studio album since their 1984 cult album Powerslave to have no songwriting contributions from Dave Murray in any way, and the first since their 1998 opus Virtual XI to feature multiple songs written by Steve Harris alone. Once again recorded at Studios Guillaume Tell in Paris, produced by Kevin Shirley, co-produced by Steve Harris, and displaying a formidable samurai version of our beloved Eddie on the artwork designed by Mark Wilkinson (with the name of the album rendered on the right side of the cover art by the actual vertical Japanese spelling of “senjutsu” and on the left side by a font reminiscent of Japanese characters), Senjutsu takes the band back to the darker and edgier sound from albums the likes of The X-Factor, A Matter of Life and Death, The Final Frontier and The Book of Souls, showcasing another brilliant work done by the unstoppable Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers and Nicko McBrain.

Traditional Japanese drums ignite the obscure and introspective title-track Senjutsu, offering us Maidenmaniacs over eight minutes of epicness to properly kick things off with Bruce already mesmerizing us all with his unique voice. Moreover, I love how his vocals walk hand in hand with the guitars by Dave, Adrian and Janick, not to mention the song’s ritualistic vibe (similar to what they did in their previous album with “If Eternity Should Fail”), followed by the already known tune Stratego with its lyrics full of metaphors about how hard it is for anyone to face their own lives (“How do you read a madman’s mind / Teach me the art of war / For I shall bring more / Than you bargained for”), while Nicko and Steve take care of that amazing galloping sound that became the band’s trademark, not to mention the song’s stunning guitar solos. Then we have The Writing on the Wall, the first single of the album which you might have probably listened to countless times already, where a country and southern vibe together with its catchy-as-hell chorus declaimed by Bruce (“Have you seen the writing on the wall / Have you seen that writing / Can you see the riders on the storm / Can you see them riding / Can you see them riding… Riding next to you”) turn it into the perfect option for hitting the road with your loved ones.

Lost in a Lost World brings forward another sinister intro to the sound of acoustic guitars that feels like it was taken from one of Bruce’s solo albums, exploding into a fusion of The X-Factor, Brave New World and A Matter of Life and Death with a lot of elements from Progressive Rock and Metal added to their core sonority, and with Steve’s bass lines being superb as usual, punching you right in your face, whereas back to a heavier sound we’re treated to the mid-tempo, rockin’ feast titled Days of Future Past, again blending classic Iron Maiden with Bruce’s solo material and displaying an amazing job done by the band’s guitar triumvirate accompanied by the pounding drums by an inspired Nicko. Needless to say, it will sound amazing if added to their live performances. Then beginning in a similar way as The Final Frontier’s “The Talisman”, The Time Machine presents a more cadenced pace with the background keys by Steve complementing the sharp work by the guitar boys, evolving into a sick galloping and diverse extravaganza halfway through it; and the sound of the ocean brings comfort to our hearts before Iron Maiden once again hypnotize us all in Darkest Hour, a somber ballad in the vein of A Matter of Life and Death’s “Out of the Shadows” but with a stronger vibe, all spiced up by their undisputed, soulful guitar solos.

iron-maiden-senjutsu-super-deluxe-boxset

Iron Maiden Senjutsu Super Deluxe Boxset

The last batch of songs from Senjutsu was entirely written by Steve Harris, and let me tell you it’s a flawless lesson in rock and metal music, starting with his undisputed bass lines in Death of the Celts, being gradually joined by Nicko and the rest of the crew. What a bold, multi-layered metal voyage by the band, overflowing epicness, progressiveness and electricity nonstop, spearheaded by the rumbling kitchen by Steve and Nicko, of course. And you better get ready for over 12 minutes of majestic Heavy Metal in the form of The Parchment, once again beginning in a serene, cryptic manner and evolving into a very progressive mid-tempo sound. Bruce’s vocals are utterly imposing and epic from start to finish, with Dave, Janick and Adrian being on total fire with their stringed axes. And lastly, Hell on Earth is a song that gave me goosebumps from the very first second, as soon as I started listening to it, feeling like “The Aftermath” from The X-Factor but at the same time a lot more intricate and powerful, with Steve and Nicko taking the lead while Dave, Adrian and Janick deliver sheer melody through their incendiary riffs, providing Bruce all he needs to flawlessly tell the story proposed in the song until all fades into the unknown in a somber and climatic manner. In other words, thank you, Mr. Steve Harris, for being so awesome.

iron-maiden-2021To be fair, there are no actual words I can choose to describe all the darkness, the energy, the details and the intricacy found in Senjutsu. It’s simply incredible how Iron Maiden managed to deliver such masterpiece without sounding outdated, repetitive or bland after so many decades on the road, leaving us all eager for another studio album, for their next tour, for more Eddies and so on, even knowing all members are in their 60’s already (as a matter of fact, Nicko is almost 70). Not only that, the way they promoted the new album on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube from day one, including the fun ride that was “Belshazzar’s Feast” (a story from the Book of Daniel in the Bible, also known as ​“the story of the writing on the wall”, with the initials WOTW cropping up in a lot of Iron Maiden-related places), was beyond entertaining, proving the band trespassed the barriers of music with Senjutsu. Furthermore, this is also one of those situations where buying the physical album, despite the fact we live in a digital world, is almost mandatory, especially if you go for the Super Deluxe Boxset, or even better, for the FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box, which will deserve its own review as soon as I receive it next week. And now please excuse me, as I need to get back to Senjutsu and listen to it another billion times on a loop for the foreseeable future, just the way it’s supposed to be when the band in question is the almighty Iron Maiden.

Best moments of the album: Senjutsu, Days of Future Past, Death of the Celts, The Parchment and Hell on Earth.

Worst moments of the album: I’m still trying to find one.

Released in 2021 Parlophone/Sanctuary Copyrights/BMG

Track listing 
1. Senjutsu 8:20
2. Stratego 4:59
3. The Writing on the Wall 6:13
4. Lost in a Lost World 9:31
5. Days of Future Past 4:03
6. The Time Machine 7:09
7. Darkest Hour 7:20
8. Death of the Celts 10:20
9. The Parchment 12:39
10. Hell on Earth 11:19

FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box/Super Deluxe Boxset Bonus Disc (Blu-ray)
1.The Writing on the Wall documentary

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass, keyboards
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Ira Sidenko

ira01

How to open your heart in the chaos of life? Learn to give and to share, to hustle and strive…

If you consider yourself a diehard fan of both old school and modern-day Death Metal, I’m certain you’ll have a very good time with our metal chick of the month of September. Not only she’s the owner of a potent and visceral voice, but her charisma, together with her onstage (and onscreen) performance, turn her into a must-listen and see for any admirer of first-class extreme music. I’m talking about the unstoppable Russian growler Ira Sidenko, also known as Irina Sidenko (or even Ирина Сиденко in Russian), the frontwoman for Tomsk, Russia-based Death Metal brigade Dehydrated, and a metalhead who is always expressing her passion for Heavy Metal through her music and art.

Born in the city of Tomsk, in Tomsk Oblast, a federal subject of Russia (an oblast) that lies in the southeastern West Siberian Plain, Ira studied at Tomsk State University, or TSU, known in her mother tongue as Томский Государственный Университет, or ТГУ, but it’s not clear exactly what course or courses she took at TSU. It was in 2008 when she founded Dehydrated (being named Dehydrated Entrails from 2008 until 2009, when they changed their name to the current one) together with guitarist Evgen Tsibulin, bassist Evgeny Zimin and drummer Alexey Ablayev, with only Ira and Evgen being still in the band from its original formation. Playing a fusion of classic Death Metal with other styles such as Deathcore, Grindcore, Groove Metal and even Progressive Metal, among others, the band didn’t know exactly what they wanted to play at first, but they knew it was going to be hard and aggressive, experimenting with several genres and subgenres of heavy music as aforementioned. By the way, when asked about the origin of the band’s name, Ira explained that’s how you feel after a concert, feeling dehydrated both physically and mentally after all the exchange of energy between the band and the crowd.

Having already played in several international festivals including Metal Head’s Mission (Ukraine), Metal Crowd (Belarus), Petrogrind (St. Petersburg), Metal Maidens (Kaluga), and Cieszanów Rock Festiwal (Poland), as well as tours around Russia and Eastern Europe, the band has unleashed upon humanity an array of high-quality albums and EP’s, those being the 2009 demo Suffering from Mummification, the full-lengths Duality of Existence (2011), Zone Beneath the Skin (2012) and Awake in Era (2012), the EP’s Mind Extract (2011), Piranha or Whale? (2019) and Piranha or Whale (Part II) (2020), and a 2011 split with the bands PureFilth, Grace Disgraced and Redrvm. Furthermore, in one of her interviews, Ira mentioned that her favorite Dehydrated album to date is Awake in Era, as she considers it more professional and more atmospheric than the other releases, with each of its songs representing a different story, but I’m sure that opinion will change with each of their releases just like what happens with any musician. And when asked about what Dehidrated means to her, she said that as music is her life, the band represents life to her, always showing a lot of love for her own work.

Dehydrated are a DIY band, doing everything themselves and relying a lot on the internet for sales and promotional activities just like countless underground bands worldwide. Ira mentioned that services like BandCamp, Spotify, Patreon and YouTube have been helping the band a lot with their promotion, but that at the same time they still have a hard time trying to organize tours all by themselves.  Hence, if you want to give the music by Dehydrated a try, you can stream all of their creations on BandCamp, on Spotify and on YouTube, where you can have an absolute blast with songs the likes of Hell Doesn’t Exist, Parallels, Sickness, Outlaws, Thirst of Dose, Werewolf, Alive Underground, Piranha or Whale, and their excellent covers for Motörhead’s Ace of Spades and Lake of Tears’ U.N.S.A.N.E.

Apart from her career with Dehydrated, you can also find Ira kicking some ass with a female-fronted metal band from Saint Petersburg, Russia named Fallcie for a while, and she can also be seen as a guest vocalist in the song А Время Шло, from the 2020 EP А Время Шло (or “time went on”) by Kaluga, Russia-based Melodic Death Metal band Last Trial. In addition, Ira is also an amazing online vocal coach as you can see on her own YouTube channel, not only providing some great tips to growlers worldwide, but also uploading to her channel cover versions for countless songs the likes of Slaughter to Prevail’s Hell, Rammstein’s Sonne, Linkin Park’s From the Inside, Decapitated’s Homo Sum, Death’s Without Judgement, Vader’s Hexenkessel, and Whitchapel’s I Dementia.

All those top-notch cover versions are not in vain, as all of those bands are also part of Ira’s idols and influences list. As a matter of fact, when asked about how she would define the sound by Dehydrated, she mentioned it’s a fusion of different styles from bands such as Death, Gojira, Animal as Leaders, and so on. Regarding her personal preferences, our beloved growler mentioned the first bands she fell in love with were Rammstein and Slipknot, later moving on to Black and Death Metal and getting absolutely addicted to that. Furthermore, the first time she heard a Death Metal band was when she got to know the music by Aborted, also getting hooked to the music by Whitechapel, Deicide and Vital Remains. However, Ira said she doesn’t have any limits when listening to music, being also a fan of Jazz, Blues, Grindcore and many other distinct styles, but of course always praising metal behemoths the likes of Motörhead, Manowar and Metallica.

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Ira also provided her view on how to become a metal vocalist in one of her interviews, saying that there’s no secret to that but several years of practice and studies (and tons of mistakes) and a never-ending desire to grow, always searching for the right sound and for professional development. Although she mentioned she hadn’t had an older brother to show her metal music, Ira mentioned she had a friend with whom she used to listen to Rammstein together, which inspired her to form a band and, later, as her taste for music became heavier and heavier, she naturally decided to learn how to do guttural by herself. Having the flexibility to sing in English, Russian and German, Ira believes her vocal performance and her confidence have improved a lot since the band’s 2009 debut demo Suffering from Mummification, again pointing out to the importance of constant learning to become a better vocalist.

When asked about the metal scene in Russia (and in Eastern Europe in general), she thinks the bands in Russia need to show more of their own culture and ideas when creating music instead of trying to mimic famous European or American bands, but of course she acknowledges there are tons of fantastic bands in her homeland such as Katalepsy and Arkona. Moreover, in regards to her hometown Tomsk, she said that there was a time when Siberia, where Tomsk is located, once had a very strong metal scene, but that has changed over time and today the scene is not as powerful and the attendance to metal concerts has dropped significantly. She complemented by saying that not only in Tomsk, but in the entire Russia (and maybe we can also add the rest of the world to the mix), you can only get in contact with metal music through the internet, as the radio and TV do not offer any space to bands like Dehydrated, and there aren’t any major festivals either to promote the bands. She still thinks that there are great bands coming from her hometown, though, such as Apokefale and Dark Revenge, which needless to say need our total support to avoid getting extinct.

Last but not least, our Russian growler believes that becoming a Death Metal vocalist isn’t easy at all, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, but of course it can be a little bit tougher to girls depending on the situation due to the sexism that still happens in the metal community all over the world. She said that once in a while she’s the target of that sexism, but she doesn’t really care about it and keeps working hard to make Dehydrated a better band and to make herself a better vocalist. When asked about how she responds to those attacks, she said she simply doesn’t answer back to the haters, ignoring them on social media and focusing on what really matters, which is the opinion and support of her fans, her friends and her family. And to be fair, she’s more than right in doing so, avoiding bringing that negativity to her work as a musician, therefore keeping her haters screaming in anger (but not as greatly as her) for not engaging in a virtual battle with her. That’s how you recognize a true musician, and let’s hope Ira keeps growling in our faces for many years to come with her ass-kicking band.

Ira Sidenko’s Official VKontakte
Dehydrated’s Official Facebook page
Dehydrated’s Official VKontakte
Dehydrated’s Official Instagram
Dehydrated’s Official YouTube channel

“We are very pleased to be able to create and do what we like, we do not know for how long but the only certainty is that there is only one here and now. We look to the future positively.” – Ira Sidenko

Album Review – Malacoda / The Strain EP (2021)

Inspired by the works of Guillermo Del Toro, this Canadian entity is unleashing upon us all their second EP of the year, delving even further into their horror inspired roots.

3.0rating

malacoda-the-strain-ep-2021After the releases of their debut self-titled album in 2015, the EP Ritualis Aeterna in 2016, the full-length opus Restless Dreams in 2018, and the EP Crawling Chaos earlier this year, Oakville, Canada-based metal band Malacoda continues to deliver their fusion of Gothic, Power, Symphonic, Melodic and Progressive Metal for our total delight with their second EP of the year, entitled The Strain. Recorded, mixed and mastered by the band’s own founder, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Lucas Di Mascio at Old Haunt Recording Studio,  and displaying a goth artwork by Yeganeh Ghasemi featuring model Goddess Ov Death, The Strain is inspired by the works of the one and only Guillermo Del Toro, delving even further into the band’s horror inspired roots and bringing forward all the talent of the aforementioned Lucas together with guitarist Wes MacDonald and bassist Zak Stulla, not to mention an array of guest musicians to make the EP even more compelling.

The title-track The Strain already begins in full force to the symphonic and epic keys by Lucas while guest drummer Andrew Suarez (Bangin Productions, Fatality) showcases all his dexterity behind his drum set, adding an extra touch of heaviness to the music, and also presenting elements from Doom and classic Heavy Metal with Lucas delivering his Ghost/Candlemass/Mercyful Fate-inspired vocals. Then featuring additional vocals by Beth Wilson and with Lucas taking care of the drumming duties, Crimson Peak is a slower but heavy-as-hell and obscure creation where Wes extracts sheer darkness from his riffage and solo, accompanied by the melodic, rumbling bass by Zak; whereas investing into a more progressive sonority were treated to Where Shadows Play, another solid tune by the band to also feature additional vocals by Beth Wilson, with Lucas and Beth making a great vocal duo while guest drummer Victor Boechat smashes his drums mercilessly from start to finish. And lastly, a very melodic and introspective intro morphs into the Gothic Rock and Metal feast entitled Mind Flayer, featuring drummer Ryan Claxton (This Is Death Valley) and additional vocals by Wes, while Lucas presents both his powerful clean vocals and his demonic gnarls from start to finish.

malacoda-2021You can stream the full EP on Spotify, show your support to Malacoda by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and click HERE for all social media, links to buy their music and merch, videos and so on. “There really is a balance of dark aggression and beauty in these songs,” stated Lucas about the band’s new EP, complementing by saying that “that’s been the consistent tone with these four tracks – keeping it dark but letting some tender spots poke through.” And let’s say Lucas nailed it, with his words precisely describing the music found in The Strain and, consequently, inviting us all to join him and his henchmen in the dark realm ruled by Malacoda, and proving Malacoda are following a healthy and strong musical path, evolving as a band and providing us all fans high-quality metal music made in Canada with each one of their releases.

Best moments of the album: The Strain and Where Shadows Play.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing 
1. The Strain 7:49
2. Crimson Peak 3:51
3. Where Shadows Play 3:51
4. Mind Flayer 5:11

Band members
Lucas Di Mascio – vocals, keys, drums on “Crimson Peak”
Wes MacDonald – guitar, additional background vocals on “Mind Flayer”
Zak Stulla – bass

Guest musicians
Andrew Suarez – drums on “The Strain”
Victor Boechat – drums on “Where Shadows Play”
Ryan Claxton – drums on “Mind Flayer”
Beth Wilson – background vocals on “Crimson Peak” and “Where Shadows Play”

Album Review – Scarlet Aura / Genesis of Time (2021)

One of the best Romanian bands of all time returns like a Phoenix with the breathtaking last part of “The Book of Scarlet” trilogy, offering us all more of their flawless fusion of Heavy and Power Metal.

4.0rating

scarlet-aura-genesis-of-time-2021Chaos on Earth, uncertainty in life, plagues, disasters and once again the feeling that there is no one there to save the world. But from a distance there is always someone or something that watches humankind. Scarlet, partly Devil, partly Angel and most important, partly Phoenix, is there together with its sidekicks to set rights and wrongs. That’s what you’ll get in Genesis of Time, the third and last part of “The Book of Scarlet” trilogy by Romanian Heavy/Power Metal outfit Scarlet Aura, following up on their critically acclaimed albums Hot’n’Heavy, released in 2018, and Stormbreaker, from 2020. Mixed, mastered and produced by the band’s own guitarist Mihai “Myke D” Dănciulescu at Silver City Studio, and displaying a stylish artwork by renowned Brazilian artist Gustavo Sazes, Genesis of Time does not shy away from taking risks and introducing unexpected turns, new musical atmospheres and landscapes, bringing the perfect and balanced ending to the trilogy with its over one hour of undisputed music carefully brought forth by frontwoman Aura Dănciulescu, guitarist Mihai “Myke D” Danciulescu, bassist Rene Nistor and drummer Matthias Klaus.

The futuristic and epic instrumental The Book of Scarlet will instantly transport you to the magical world of Scarlet Aura, with Mihai taking the lead with his stylish and sharp riffs and solos accompanied by Rene and Matthias with their heavy kitchen, flowing into the Power Metal extravaganza titled Raw Power, a song that will put you to bang your head nonstop to the classic beast by Matthias while Aura mesmerizes us all with her soaring, metallic and absolutely melodic vocals until the very last second. Then a a cinematic intro morphs into more of their classic fusion of Heavy and Power Metal in Dark Lightning, where Mihai once again steals the spotlight with his razor-edged riffs and striking solos while Rene doesn’t stop smashing his bass; and Aura and the boys masterfully bring forward the Stratovarius-inspired tune Utopia, another powerful composition that lives up to the legacy of Melodic Metal without showing a single second of boredom. Quite the contrary, it’s utterly electrifying from start to finish, and there’s no time to breathe as the quartet keeps delivering fast and melodic metal music for our vulgar delectation in Frostbite, with Matthias taking the lead with his kick-ass drums, whereas in The Black Roses the band slows things down a bit but keeping the heaviness of their core essence intact, with Aura declaiming the song’s lyrics with tons of passion and energy.

And the rumbling bass by Rene ignites their metal machine once again in Right Place, Wrong Time, also showcasing interesting background keys, and all of course spiced up by another sharp vocal performance by Aura, while in Human Obsolete they get back to a more metallic and thunderous sonority, with Mihai and Rene being in total sync with their respective riffage and bass jabs. It’s time for another Scandinavian Melodic Metal-like feast entitled In The Line of Fire, where Aura’s vocals are beyond impactful, supported by the old school sound crafted by her bandmates, whereas adding hints of the Doom Metal played by renowned acts like Candlemass and Black Sabbath to their trademark Power Metal they offer us all the heavy and sinister tune Saints Need Sinners, with over six minutes of groovy bass jabs, slashing guitars, pounding drums and dark vocals. Are you ready to fly high in the sky together with Aura and her henchmen? That’s exactly what Scarlet Aura deliver in the epic Wings of Light, a straight-to-the-point, in-your-face Power Metal tune showcasing all of the band’s heavy artillery, followed by the title-track Genesis Of Time, the most epic of all songs bringing forward nine minutes of sheer power and electricity, or in other words, a dense and imposing aria by the band that will please all fans of classic Power Metal, also presenting elements from Progressive Metal to give it an extra kick. Needless to say, the trilogy couldn’t have ended in a more climatic manner.

scarlet-aura-2021All good things must come to an end, which is the case with Scarlet Aura’s “The Book of Scarlet” trilogy with the release of the excellent Genesis of Time, and it’s impressive how the band managed to bring into being an even better opus than Stormbreaker, displaying a more mature, melodic and intricate sound that will undoubtedly be appreciated by metalheads from all over the world. Hence, if you want to know more about one of the best bands (if not the best) in the history of Romanian metal, you can follow the band on Facebook, on Instagram and on VKontakte, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their distinguished music and videos, stream all of their awesome creations on Spotify, and of course show your true support to the band by purchasing Genesis of Time from their own webstore or from other retailers such as Apple Music and Amazon sooner than you can say “scarlet”. Now that the trilogy is finally concluded, let’s see what Scarlet Aura will have for us fans with their upcoming releases. And despite the fact I doubt they can unleash upon us something better than Genesis of Time, I must also say that no one should ever doubt Aura and the boys, as just like a metallic Phoenix they keep coming back from the underworld spreading their fiery music to all four corners of the earth with each of their first-class albums.

Best moments of the album: Dark Lightning, Utopia, In The Line of Fire and Wings of Light.

Worst moments of the album: The Black Roses.

Released in 2021 Universal Music Romania/Silver City Records

Track listing  
1. The Book of Scarlet 6:31
2. Raw Power 4:49
3. Dark Lightning 5:14
4. Utopia 5:02
5. Frostbite 5:46
6. The Black Roses 6:13
7. Right Place, Wrong Time 5:46
8. Human Obsolete 5:28
9. In The Line of Fire 5:46
10. Saints Need Sinners 6:20
11. Wings of Light 4:27
12. Genesis Of Time 9:06

Band members
Aura Dănciulescu – lead vocals
Mihai “Myke D” Dănciulescu – guitars, vocals
Rene Nistor – bass, vocals
Matthias Klaus – drums

Collectibles Review – Iron Maiden’s The Studio Collection – Remastered (Deluxe Edition)

Do you want to make an Iron Maiden fan truly happy? How about giving that person a deluxe edition of five of the band’s most beloved albums, including a figurine and a patch?

4.5rating

iron-maiden-4th-batch-the-studio-collection-remasteredIf there are still a few Iron Maiden albums missing in your personal collection and you want to complete it before Senjutsu is released on September 3, or if you want to give an extra touch of awesomeness to your memorabilia, our third (and probably last) special review in preparation for the band’s highly anticipated seventeenth studio album will not only focus on The Studio Collection – Remastered, released back in 2018/2019, but more specifically on the DELUXE EDITION of five of the band’s most beloved albums, those being Fear of the Dark, A Matter of Life and Death, The Number of the Beast, Somewhere in Time, and Live After Death, which also come with a kick-ass figurine, a very cool patch, and of course the remastered versions of the albums in digipak CD format, because as you all know it’s all about the music in the end.

Covering Iron Maiden’s sixteen-strong studio albums across their career to date, plus what’s in my humble opinion the best live album of all time, the recordings were taken from the same remasters as the 2015 hi-res digital releases and with the track listing matching the original UK releases, all reissued by Parlophone Records (or BMG in the United States). The albums from The Studio Collection series were released chronologically in batches of four (as you can see below), plus Live After Death which was released separately, with one CD from each batch of releases also optionally available in a specially artworked box featuring the aforementioned 1:24 scale figurine and the exclusive patch. “We’ve wanted to revisit these for a long time and I was delighted with the remastering we did in 2015. I thought it was the best that our albums have ever sounded and it was only right that we made them available on CD now too,” said the one and only Mr. Steve Harris.

First batch
Iron Maiden / Killers / The Number Of The Beast (option of standard or collectors boxset edition including TNOTB Eddie figurine and patch) / Piece Of Mind

Second batch
Powerslave / Somewhere In Time (standard/collectors) / Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son / No Prayer For The Dying

Third batch
Fear Of The Dark (standard/collectors) / The X Factor / Virtual XI / Brave New World

Fourth batch
Dance Of Death / A Matter Of Life And Death (standard/collectors) / The Final Frontier / The Book Of Souls (not remastered, but appearing in digipak for the first time)

fear-of-the-dark-2015-remaster-deluxe-edition03The remasters are an amazing choice for newcomers to the world of Iron Maiden or to fans whose CD’s or LP’s are not in good condition anymore due to the repeated plays, but even if you feel your collection is already complete I think there’s still room for the collectors/deluxe edition including the figurine and the patch. The figurine is pretty much an “add-on” to the Legacy of the Beast figurines collection, being made of the same material and displaying the same size and finishing, which means if you’re collecting those then this is the only way you have to complete your Legacy of the Beast set, as the figurines from the deluxe editions are not sold separately anywhere (unless you go to eBay, of course, but then it’s up to you how much you’re willing to pay for those). Regarding the patch, they’re beautiful and will make your metal vest shine even more whenever you’re wearing it, with the only “issue” being the fact they’re iron-on patches, not sew-on ones, which means it will be almost impossible to take them out if by any chance you decide to move them to a new vest or jacket. Not a big deal, but it’s important to keep that in mind if you’re a patch lover.

fear-of-the-dark-2015-remaster-deluxe-edition02You can find all five deluxe edition boxes on Amazon Canada, for example, but pay good attention to the prices as they vary from around 25 to 90 Canadian dollars based on the availability of each item. Furthermore, you can also try your luck on other online stores worldwide such as Siren Records, Waterloo Records and Easy Street Records, which might not have all five albums but will be very helpful if you don’t have any issues buying from multiple sellers. And as the delivery is quite fast in all cases, you’ll have plenty of time to listen to all of the remastered albums, add the patches to your vest, place your new figurines together with your other items such as the Funkos from Funko Pop! Rocks: Iron Maiden (Wave I), drink a nice pint of Red ‘N’ Black, and be more than ready to blow your speakers with the release of Senjutsu on September 3! Does that sound like a good plan to you?

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Collectibles Review – Funko Pop! Rocks: Iron Maiden (Wave I)

The amazing first wave of Iron Maiden Pop! Vinyl figures is gonna get you, no matter how far.

5.0rating

funko-pop-rocks-iron-maiden-wave-iOur second special review (after Iron Maiden’s Red ‘N’ Black) in preparation for the release of Iron Maiden‘s  seventeenth studio album Senjutsu on September 3, will be dedicated to the first wave of Eddies from the Funko Pop! Rocks: Iron Maiden collection, something that took way too long for Funko to release (and even longer for The Headbanging Moose to review it). After probably tons and tons of requests sent to Funko in the past few years to create a series of Funko Pop! figures in honor of the most beloved mascot in the history of Heavy Metal, they finally launched what they called “wave one” back in 2020 with the classic Eddies from the band’s first four albums, and the final result is beyond what we all could’ve expected.

Measuring around 3 ¾ inches tall (or 9.5 centimeters tall if you prefer) and packaged in a window display box, each one of the Iron Maiden Pop! Vinyl figures released, those being IRON MAIDEN, KILLERS, THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST and PIECE OF MIND, is a thing of beauty, a mandatory item in the collection of any Maidenmaniac, and the perfect gift to any metalhead from all ages. The quality of the material is outstanding and all Eddies are extremely well-crafted and detailed, not to mention Eddie looks badass even as a cute Funko. My favorite one is undoubtedly the Piece of Mind Eddie due to its uniqueness compared to the others (as I’m a fan of the bald Eddie), and my one and only complaint is the fact the little devil that comes with The Number of the Beast Eddie doesn’t stand properly like the main Eddie, but who am I to complain about that? They could’ve simply ignored the devil, right? So, as an add-on, it’s quite cool (even if it keeps falling all the time).

funko-pop-rocks-iron-maiden-wave-i-02You can also try your luck to grab your Funko Eddies from several online and physical retailers such as Pop In A Box, Amazon, Hot Topic, Mind Games, Sunrise Records, and EB Games,  among many others all around the world, but keep in mind that due to their very fair prices, which vary from 8 to 15 US Dollars, and due to the fact it’s Eddie, which means people don’t think twice to buy an item like that, the Eddies from the first wave might be either sold out or being sold by a much higher price, some even higher than 40 US Dollars. Furthermore, get ready as the second wave of Iron Maiden Pop! Vinyl figures is coming later this year with another round of awesome Eddies for us fans (and that will certainly mean another review on The Headbanging Moose), which usually means the first wave will become even more difficult to find anywhere. Having said all that, what are you waiting for to buy your Funko Eddies from the first wave and proudly display them together with your other memorabilia? They look cool anywhere you place them, even if it’s inside your shower I might say. Invest some of your disposable income into all four of those cute big-headed, little Eddies and… UP THE IRONS!

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