Album Review – Oathbringer / Tales of Glory (2022)

Let’s head into the battlefield together with this promising Serbian band armed with their debut opus, offering us all an overdose of pure, unfiltered Heavy Metal.

Formed in the city of Kragujevac, Serbia at the end of 2019 as a project of guitarist Lazar “Berserker” Zakić under the name Riddle of Steel, the incendiary Heavy Metal army currently known as Oathbringer is set to release their debut opus, entitled Tales of Glory, bringing to our metallic ears an overdose of pure, unfiltered metal music. Recorded at Studio Coolijana, produced by Marko Petković Petko, and displaying a dark, heathen artwork by Velio Josto, known for his work with bands such as Vulture, Enforcer, Riot V, Iron Angel and Warlord, Tales of Glory offers the listener a selection of classic Heavy and Power Metal songs carefully brought forth by the aforementioned Lazar “Berserker” Zakić on the guitars together with his bandmates Miloš “Priestkiller” Stošić on vocals and bass, Petar “Axxer” Đorđević also on the guitars, and Bora “Helldiver” Petrović on drums, pointing to a promising future ahead of those Serbian warriors.

Simply hit play and the epic intro Arrival will invite you to the world of Oathbringer before the band comes ripping in Odin’s Call, where Lazar and Petar rev up their engines to the sound of their stringed axes while Bora dictates the pace with his classic beats, not to mention how powerful Miloš sound with both his vocals and bass. More of the band’s old school Heavy Metal infused with groovy and dirty sounds is offered to us all in Hail to the King, a headbanging party led by the raspy vocals by Miloš with Bora pounding his drums like the hammer of Thor (as the guys from Manowar would say); whereas putting the pedal to the metal it’s time for the quartet to head into the battlefield to the sound of Stand or Fall, a high-octane Heavy and Power Metal hymn where the band’s guitar duo is on absolute fire with their raw, visceral riffs and solos.

Venturing through Hard Rock lands the band inspires us to raise our horns to Alone in the Night, bringing to our ears another thrilling performance by Lazar and Petar on the guitars; and an acoustic, ethereal start to the melancholic vocals by Miloš kick off the Lord of the Rings-inspired ballad The Ring, sounding utterly beautiful from start to finish and, of course, very enfolding and epic. Then back to their heaviest mode it’s time for the breathtaking Shayol Ghul, with Bora kicking some serious ass behind his drums while also reminding me of the fastest tunes by Stratovarius with a Power Metal twist. The band continues to blend the heaviness of Thrash Metal with the epicness of the music by Manowar in Moria, which should work really well if played live due to its headbanging rhythm and catchy chorus, ending in a classy way to the sound of a piano. In addition, as a bonus the band offers us all the demo version for Under the Spell, from when the band was still called Riddle of Steel. As it’s “just” a demo it’s not as detailed as the rest of the album, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as powerful and in line with the band’s core sound.

After all is said and done, you’ll certainly feel the urge to grab your sword and shield and head into the battlefield together with the guys from Oathbringer, and you can start doing so by following them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other cool info about the band. Furthermore, don’t forget to show your utmost support to the Serbian underground by purchasing the excellent Tales of Glory by clicking HERE, keeping the fires of classic Heavy and Power Metal burning in the beautiful country of Serbia. Oathbringer were capable of turningtheir tales of glory into first-class metal music in their first full-length album, and I’m sure that when their sophomore album is released they’ll sound even stronger, more focused and more powerful for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: Hail to the King, Stand or Fall and Shayol Ghul.

Worst moments of the album: Under the Spell.

Released in 2022 RTR Records

Track listing
1. Arrival 0:50
2. Odin’s Call 4:20
3. Hail to the King 3:49
4. Stand or Fall 3:46
5. Alone in the Night 4:16
6. The Ring 4:02
7. Shayol Ghul 5:29
8. Moria 6:01

Bonus track
9. Under the Spell (demo) 4:32

Band members
Miloš “Priestkiller” Stošić – vocals, bass
Lazar “Berserker” Zakić – guitars
Petar “Axxer” Đorđević – guitars
Bora “Helldiver” Petrović – drums

Guest musician
Luka Milošević – guitars on “Under the Spell”

Metal Chick of the Month – Kristina Vega

Save me, for the punishment of my head…

Let’s turn up the heat here at The Headbanging Moose in this month of June and properly kick off the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere with a metal lady that will absolutely stun you with her powerful vocals and onstage presence. A metal singer and vocal coach known for her work with bands the likes of Born In Exile, SerapiS, and Cobra Spell, she has a fantastic vocal range that allows her to sing not only metal but pretty much any music style, which explains why she’s becoming more and more famous, respected and admired in the current music scene. I’m talking about the multi-talented Kristina Vega, also known as Kris Vega, carrying the flag of Catalan metal wherever she goes armed with her fulminating voice. I bet you’re eager to know more about such skillful musician as much as Kris is waiting for you to join her in her quest for heavy music.

Born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, Kris had her first contact with metal music when she was only eight years old, more specifically a Rammstein song which she has tattooed on her arm (which we’ll talk about shortly). When she was 16 she had a band called MOTH (which didn’t last for too long according to Kris herself), she also spent five years with a Japanese music group where she used to write music and do the guttural vocals, then three more years with a Blues band, and another metal group called Lunes 12. However, Kris had to take a break from music for a while, getting back in action in the metal scene after seeing an ad asking for a vocalist for a local band. It didn’t take long for Born In Exile to take its desired shape and form, catapulting our diva to stardom right after the band’s first release. Furthermore, growing up in the golden years of Nu Metal helped her to detect all her registers, to play with different techniques of singing and to find her way as a vocalist, having also thoroughly studied how harsh vocals, textured voice and hyper-compression techniques work in order to reach different types of sound. A formed vocal coach by Rodrigo Llamazares at Vocal Studio (a specialist in vocal coaching for teachers), she actually started studying electric bass at the age of 14, and two years later she recorded her first album as a bass player and a guttural vocalist.

Formed in 2012 in Barcelona by drummer JuanMa Ávila and guitarists Carlos Castillo and Rodrigo Baez (all from the band Corelyn) with the goal of creating a project with progressive influences inside Heavy Metal that would please fans of bands the likes of Symphony X, Opeth, Dream Theater, Rush, Myrath, Leprous and Circus Maximus, among others, the unstoppable Melodic Progressive Metal outfit known as Born In Exile has been on a roll since its inception, all of course multiplied by one thousand after Kris joined the band in August 2015 with her melodic, raspy and soaring vocals, having recorded with the band their debut opus Drizzle of Cosmos, in 2017, which by the way led the band to play at Barcelona Rock Fest in 2018, their sophomore album Transcendence, in 2020, and an EP titled Live at Vampire Fest, in 2021. Kris mentioned in one of her interviews that she recorded a cover version for Queen’s “The Show Must go On” as a reply to the band’s ad where they were searching for a new vocalist, followed by a short meeting with JuanMa and Carlos, and both were absolutely mesmerized by her vocals, which you can enjoy in all its glory in songs such as Fields On Fire, The Lighthouse of the Haunted Keeper, Enchantress, One More Line, Ziggurat, Revenant and Torch.

Apart from her career with Born In Exile, our talented diva can also be seen blasting her unparalleled vocals with the bands Cobra Spell, Uneven Frame and SerapiS, as aforementioned. As a matter of fact, Kris has just started her stint with Cobra Spell, the Dutch Heavy Metal/Hard Rock outfit led by guitarist Sonia Anubis (Burning Witches, Crypta), having replaced the band’s original vocalist Alexx Panza about a month ago, and although she hasn’t recorded anything in the studio yet with the band you can already enjoy her visceral vocals with Cobra Spell on the road, as she’s now touring with the band despite the extremely short time to rehearse with them. It’s not clear if Barcelona-based Nu Metal project Uneven Frame is still active as there are no news from the band since 2020, but it would definitely be interesting to see what Kris can do in a more alternative style (and you can take a listen at their demos on their YouTube channel); and regarding Progressive Metal project SerapiS, recently formed by Kris together with guitarist Joaco Luís (Mollitiam, Born In Exile), you can enjoy the band’s first three singles on Spotify, or go to YouTube to be stunned by Act I: Defiance, Act II: Dissidence, and Act III: Wistfulness, pointing to a very interesting future ahead of them.

Our multi-talented Kris can also be seen as a guest vocalist for the songs Our Demise, from the 2021 album The Harbour in Me, by Spanish Symphonic Power Metal act Embersland, and The Breathless Season Bane, from the 2021 album Portraits, by Spanish Atmospheric Black Metal horde Perennial Isolation; and as a metal vocal coach at the Metal Academy School of Music, the first school completely devoted to Heavy Metal and Hard Rock founded in 2017 in Barcelona, and as a voice actress for The Monster Factory, a Montreal, Canada-based company specialized in the conception of voices for monsters, zombies, aliens and many more creatures in the video game and film industries provided by metal vocalists the likes of our unstoppable diva.

Highly influenced by a wide variety of styles, from bands like Tool, Arch Enemy, Opeth, Leprous, Slipknot and Jinjer to vocalists like Freddie Mercury and Mónica Naranjo, Kris has already performed in over 500 concerts, singing not only Heavy Metal and Hard rock, but also Blues, Soul, Death, Progressive and Experimental Metal, proving not only how skillful she is, but also how experienced she already is in the music industry. As mentioned, having listened to her first metal song at the young age of eight, more specifically the song Klavier, from the album Sehnchust by Rammstein, thanks to the father of one of her neighbours, Kris quickly moved on to other bands and artists such as Linkin Park, Slipknot, Machine Head, System of a Down, Otep and Arch Enemy, being right now a huge fan of Jinjer, In This Moment, Gojira, Opeth, Devin Townsend, Myrath and Twelve Foot Ninja. When asked if she listens to any bands that she considers some sort of “guilty pleasure”, Kris mentioned Nino Bravo, from her childhood years, Azul y Negro, from her teens, and Evanescence, when she was in her 20’s. In addition, when questioned if she prefers Nightwish or Epica, she said she doesn’t really enjoy their voices, being a much bigger fan of stronger vocals the likes of Jinjer and Battle Beast.

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An avid reader of everything surrounding the voice anatomy, Kris is also writing a book to help singers who are just starting their careers and trying to find their own voice, focusing on all obstacles a vocalist might find along the way as for example not being told what’s working and what’s not, which by the way happened to her in the beginning of her career. She believes anyone can sing as long as it represents your own voice and delivers the desired message, always working not only her students’ voices but also their fears, their landscapes and so on, trying to transfer as much courage and strength to all of them during her classes.

It was right after the release of Drizzle of Cosmos that Kris and her bandmates from Born In Exile began touring on a more professional level, having played in different countries and festivals, such as Barcelona Rock Fest. She mentioned that when the band received an email informing they were selected to open that festival she almost cried of pure joy, also saying their performance at the festival was one of the most memorable moments of her life so far. She mentioned in one of her interviews how difficult it is to perform onstage for a massive festival crowd, the importance of being mentally prepared, and the energy shared with the crowd. Still talking about touring, Kris said that she loves to play alongside renowned bands as everything feels a lot more professional, and that although organizing tours (especially outside of Spain) is a lot of work, all that effort is definitely worth it.

As a prominent woman in Heavy Metal, Kris commented on how she sees the role of women in the current metal scene and the type of treatment she receives from men. She mentioned that despite a few bad experiences and situations in her career, one of the most beautiful things in her life is the fact she’s extremely well treated by her bandmates, who support her in everything and the whole feminist movement. However, she believes women in metal should stop fighting against each other for different reasons and realize that they’re stronger when united, saying it’s important to stop thinking like a man and avoid at all costs using sexist words and expressions that are stuck inside our minds thanks to the way we’re taught those things by our society. Moreover, Kris also faced some criticism and sexism when she decided to move from her hairdresser job (which she had been doing since she was 15) to pursue her career in music. She used to listen to things such as being a vocalist or working with music doesn’t pay your bills, doesn’t put food on the table, that she should get a “real” job, and so on, but that didn’t stop her from becoming the awesome vocalist she is today.

Regarding the metal scene these days, she said she thinks the musical landscape is unfair, complaining about an empty venue for an excellent band that goes all the way from Australia to Spain, for example, which is frustrating for the musicians involved. In addition, she said she would like to encourage all bands to have more respect and companionship among themselves, and to see more support to local bands by inviting them to open for the foreign headliners, just like what happened to Born In Exile during Barcelona Rock Fest where the band might have played for only 30 minutes, but according to Kris herself it was good enough to show the crowd what they got. And to be honest, even if they had played for only five minutes that would have been more than enough for the metalheads at the festival to witness how amazing the music by Born In Exile is and how powerful Kris’ vocals are, always singing about love, pain, real-life experiences and other related topics, therefore adding an extra personal touch to her thrilling performance.

As aforementioned, Kris is an accomplished vocal coach, offering vocalists not only from Barcelona but from all around the world different options to work with her, including more basic, free courses through the Metal Academy School of Music, or intensive online and in-person courses (which you can get more details by contacting her by email), and she’s waiting for you to begin a very productive and fun partnership in the name of rock and metal music. By the way, you can also click HERE to check all of her official links where you can get to know more about Kris and her career. Lastly, in case you decide to take vocal classes with Kris and it starts to rain, that might be a very good sign, and the reason for that is quite funny. When she was asked about something curious that has already happened with Born In Exile, she said that every time the band is about to do something important, it rains, it doesn’t matter if it’s the recording of a new album, signing with a record label, playing at a famous venue, or anything else. In other words, let’s join the incendiary Kristina Vega in her quest for heavy music, and may the rain fall down on us for many decades to come together with such inspiring musician.

Kristina Vega’s Official Facebook page
Kristina Vega’s Official Instagram

Kristina Vega’s Official Twitter
Born In Exile’s Official Facebook page
Born In Exile’s Official Instagram
Born In Exile’s Official YouTube channel
Born In Exile’s Official Twitter

Concert Review – Lamb of God & Megadeth (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 05/18/2022)

After two years of waiting, Toronto was finally able to witness all the energy and heaviness of “The Metal Tour of the Year”… and it was absolutely awesome!

OPENING ACTS: In Flames and Trivium

Ladies and gentlemen, or whatever way you like to be referred as, what an incredible night of first-class, high-octane, infernal Heavy Metal we had yesterday in Toronto at the unparalleled Budweiser Stage, with IN FLAMES, TRIVIUM, LAMB OF GOD and the one and only MEGADETH showing us all why their tour was named The Metal Tour of the Year! As a matter of fact, last night’s concert was originally scheduled to happen in 2020, but of course due to the shitty COVID-19 pandemic (which apparently seems to be finally over), it had to be rescheduled countless times. Anyway, the wait was totally worth it, as all bands were simply awesome yesterday, putting a huge smile on the faces of everyone at the venue (and the fans didn’t seem to care about the fact the temperature in the city dropped from the mid-30’s to the low-10’s in just a couple of days). Well, I believe Sweden’s own Melodic Groove Metal/Metalcore icons IN FLAMES were awesome as well, as due to work and traffic I wasn’t able to make it to their concert, but a friend that arrived earlier said they kicked ass.

Setlist
Cloud Connected
Behind Space
Everything’s Gone
Where the Dead Ships Dwell
Call My Name
All for Me
I Am Above
Take This Life

Band members
Anders Fridén – vocals
Björn Gelotte – guitar
Chris Broderick – guitar
Bryce Paul Newman – bass
Niels Nielsen – keyboards
Tanner Wayne – drums

I was scared I wouldn’t be able to make it to see Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal maniacs TRIVIUM, but fortunately I arrived at the venue around 10 minutes before they hit the stage with their short but extremely powerful performance. Matt Heafy, Corey Beaulieu, Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent were beyond happy to be back in Toronto after almost five years (yes, their last concert in the city was in the distant year of 2017), and add to that the superb tracks from their most recent album In the Court of the Dragon, those being the title-track In the Court of the Dragon and my favorite one of the album, Like a Sword Over Damocles, and there you have a recipe for success (and mosh pits). “Throes of Perdition” and “Feast of Fire”, which were on the setlist in the US dates, were replaced by Strife and Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr, and let’s say those new additions to their setlist received a killer feedback from the crowd, who engaged in several mosh pits while the band was on fire onstage. And what can I say about the jumping up and down ignited by Matt during their hit In Waves? That was outstanding to say the least. Furthermore, Matt mentioned this was the biggest show of the entire North American tour, proving how much us Torontonians love all bands involved, and hopefully that will inspired Trivium to return to Toronto for a full-bodied performance on their own in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
X
In the Court of the Dragon
Like a Sword Over Damocles
Beyond Oblivion
Strife
Rain
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
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

LAMB OF GOD

If there’s a band that knows how to inspire any type of person in the world to slam into the mosh pit, that’s undoubtedly Richmond, Virginia’s Groove Metal horde LAMB OF GOD, who precisely at 8:10pm hit the stage for the total delight of all metalmaniacs ready for a good dosage of heaviness, rage and insanity. Still promoting their 2020 self-titled masterpiece, the unstoppable Randy Blythe and his henchmen put on an unforgettable show, from the opening song Memento Mori, until the very last second of their all-time classic Redneck. It’s beautiful to see the rise of Lamb of God to the status of metal giants, as now they even have fire onstage like what they provided us with in Walk With Me in Hell, which was by the way flawless and one of the top moments of the entire night. It doesn’t matter if they played darker, more introspective songs like 512 or if they exhaled sheer violence like in Contractor, everything was perfect, and Toronto definitely shared their love for the band with all horns in the air, all screaming, and of course the frantic, never-stopping mosh pits in the floor section. As expected, Randy, who seemed possessed throughout their entire set, delivered a couple of Woooooo!’s as his personal tribute to the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and dedicated Redneck to the guy who in 2018 tried to swim back to that same venue during their tour with Slayer. Toronto can’t wait to have Lamb of God again in the city, an I can’t wait to slam into the pit to the sound of one of my favorite metal bands of the past decade.

Setlist
Memento Mori
Ruin
Walk With Me in Hell
Resurrection Man
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
Contractor
11th Hour
512
Ghost Walking
Vigil
Laid to Rest
Redneck

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Phil Demmel – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Art Cruz – drums

MEGADETH

As expected, most fans at the Budweiser Stage were there to witness “MegaDave” Mustaine and his Thrash/Speed Metal institution MEGADETH distill their unique classics in the city again after so many years, and when the clock hit 9:45pm our dreams came true as the first notes from Hangar 18 (right after the intro Prince of Darkness) were played by Dave and his bandmates Kiko Loureiro, James LoMenzo and Dirk Verbeuren. Is there a better way to kick off a show than with such classic, followed by the underrated tunes Dread and the Fugitive Mind and Angry Again? What a brilliant start to their set, winning the hearts and minds of everyone instantly. Dave and Kiko played their guitars to perfection as usual during the entire concert, making our jaws drop and inspiring us to show them the horns during and after each song played. I loved the fact they’re still playing the superb Trust after so many decades, and although they replaced another pulverizing song, “She-Wolf”, with A Tout Le Monde, that didn’t do any harm to their concert. Who doesn’t love to sing such stunning ballad together with Dave, screaming the song’s French words at the top of his or her lungs? In addition, a few different versions of Vic Rattlehead appeared onstage during the songs Conquer or Die!, Dystopia and Peace Sells, adding an extra touch of awesomeness to the show, culminating with their undisputed hymn Holy Wars… The Punishment Due. By the end of the concert, Dave mentioned the band is recording the follow-up to their 2016 album Dystopia and that the album should see the light of day this summer, so all we need to do now is wait for it and for another night of our beloved Megadeth in Toronto… and Dave promised he’ll return to the city, oh yeah!

Setlist
Prince of Darkness
Hangar 18
Dread and the Fugitive Mind
Angry Again
Conquer or Die!
Dystopia
The Conjuring
Trust
Sweating Bullets
A Tout Le Monde
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells

Encore:
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due
Silent Scorn
My Way
Shadow of Deth

Band members
Dave Mustaine – vocals, guitars
Kiko Loureiro – guitars, backing vocals
James LoMenzo – bass, backing vocals
Dirk Verbeuren – drums

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Album Review – Böllverk / Heading For The Crown (2022)

Get ready to bang your heads nonstop to the debut album by this Bavarian act, offering powerful Teutonic material forged in the gloriously timeless style of early Accept, Warlock and Running Wild.

Formed in 2018 in Aschaffenburg, a city in Bavaria, Germany, and after a few lineup changes, the talented Heavy Metal squad Böllverk has finally unleashed their debut effort, entitled Heading For The Crown, offering pithy, refreshing and powerful Teutonic material forged in the gloriously timeless style of early Accept, Warlock and Running Wild for the old school-addicted battlevest banger fraction. Currently comprised of Svenja on vocals, Zahn and Raphi on the guitars, Tim on bass and Angelo on drums, Böllverk are on absolute fire in Heading For The Crown, with the classic artwork by Bastian Kraus and the sharp recording, mixing and mastering by Rolf Munkes at Empire Studios giving an even stronger vibe to the entire album, inspiring us all to head into the battlefield together with the band in the name of our beloved old school Heavy Metal.

The incendiary guitars by Zahn and Raphi kick off the pure, unfiltered Heavy Metal tune Ask The Angel, Listen To The Devil, an awesome way to start the album with the galloping drums by Angelo walking hand in hand with the 80’s-inspired vocals by Svenja, and more of their fusion of the classic music played by Iron Maiden, Accept, Judas Priest and Warlock is offered to us all in Let’s Ride Till Dawn, with the band’s guitar duo dictating the rhythm with their spot-on riffs and solos. Good Morning Rock’n’Roll is one of those “breakfast songs” highly recommended for all metalheads worldwide, bringing forward a beautiful hybrid of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock where Svenja’s piercing vocals are complemented by the raspy, Motörhead-infused roars by Zahn; whereas the title-track Heading For The Crown is an in-your-face, straightforward metal extravaganza led by the crushing drums by Angelo, supported by the rumbling bass by Tim.

Zahn’s evil roars boost the high-pitched screams by Svenja in The 7th No (IS A KO), another Hard Rock feast where the sound of the guitars will slash your ears mercilessly, and it’s time to bang our heads nonstop together with Böllverk in Master Of Thunder, another sharp, no shenanigans creation by the quintet showcasing a heavy and melodic kitchen by Tim and Angelo. Then venturing through the realms of Southern and Stoner Metal the band offers us all Live Fast, with Zahn taking the lead on vocals. It’s a good song, but it lacks the epicness of the rest of the album, though. Zahn keeps screaming in Next Level Of Service while Svenja fires her trademark Doro-inspired vocals lines, all spiced up by another round of their flammable riffs and thunderous bass lines, and last but not least, we’re treated to more of their rumbling Heavy Metal in the form of Someday We Will Die, clearly inspired by the classics from the NWOBHM and, therefore, ending the album on a thrilling note.

You can get to know more about Böllverk by following those Teutonic metallers on Facebook and on Instagram, staying up to date with all of their news, tour dates, plans for the future and so on, and you can also send them your feedback about their music as I’m sure the entire band would love to hear from you. In addition, in order to show your support and appreciation for ass-kicking underground German metal you should definitely purchase a copy of Heading For The Crown from the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as stream the album in its entirety on Spotify. Böllverk didn’t need to reinvent the wheel with Heading For The Crown to sound awesome, showing how powerful Heavy Metal still is and, of course, not only pointing to a bright future ahead of the band, but also providing us metalheads with one more excellent reason for keep banging our heads until the very end.

Best moments of the album: Ask The Angel, Listen To The Devil, Good Morning Rock’n’Roll and Someday We Will Die.

Worst moments of the album: Live Fast.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Ask The Angel, Listen To The Devil 6:05
2. Let’s Ride Till Dawn 3:27
3. Good Morning Rock’n’Roll 4:25
4. Heading For The Crown 4:49
5. The 7th No (IS A KO) 4:37
6. Master Of Thunder 6:26
7. Live Fast 4:20
8. Next Level Of Service 3:56
9. Someday We Will Die 5:50

Band members
Svenja – vocals
Zahn – guitars, vocals
Raphi – guitars
Tim – bass
Angelo – drums

Album Review – Axel Rudi Pell / Lost XXIII (2022)

Mr. Axel Rudi Pell and his henchmen are back with another thrilling album consisting of ten deeply melodic Hard Rock songs.

For more than thirty years, Bochum, Germany-based guitarist and songwriter Axel Rudi Pell has released new albums at regular intervals with his Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Axel Rudi Pell, and it couldn’t have been any different now in 2022 as Axel and his henchmen Johnny Gioeli on vocals, Volker Krawczak on bass, Ferdy Doernberg on keyboards and Bobby Rondinelli on drums have just unleashed upon us their 21st album to date, the excellent Lost XXIII, following up on their 2020 album Sign of the Times. Mixed by Thomas Geiger, produced by Axel Rudi Pell himself, mastered by Ulf Horbelt, and displaying a classic artwork by Thomas Ewerhard, Lost XXIII consists of ten deeply melodic Hard Rock songs showcasing a number of fast-paced highlights and surprising compositions, putting a huge smile on the faces of all diehard fans of such talented guitarist as well as to newcomers to his metallic world.

Lost XXIII Prequel, one of their trademark intros to pretty much all of their albums, sets the stage for Johnny and Axel to kick some ass in Survive, where Johnny flawlessly declaims the song’s catchy chorus (“Will we survive? / Who is our enemy? / Restrictions for all, can’t you see? / Will we survive? / Searching for destiny / Unchaining the souls to be free / Will we survive?”) while Bobby dictates the pace with his heavy and melodic beats. And let’s keep raising our horns to the dirty and thrilling Hard Rock by Axel and his crew in the dancing tune No Compromise, with Volker and Bobby doing an awesome job with their old school kitchen, whereas the electrifying riffs by Axel will keep penetrating deep inside your mind in Down on the Streets, while Ferdy brings forth those 70’s-inspired keys we all love so much. Johnny will make the hearts of Hard Rock lovers from all over the world melt with the deep, soulful ballad Gone with the Wind, all spiced up by the passionate keys by Ferdy, followed by Freight Train, another song that sounds like a heavier version of Bon Jovi in the band’s career, presenting a solid instrumental always boosted by Johnny’s soaring vocals.

Putting the pedal to the metal it’s time for the high-octane tune Follow the Beast, showcasing an incredibly addictive chorus (“Follow the beast / The end is in sight, the end’s coming near / Follow the beast / Dark clouds all over the sea / Follow the beast / There’s no way out, living in fear / Follow the beast / Stay close to me, don’t disappear”), with Bobby being on fire behind his drums while Axel embellishes the airwaves with his stylish riffs and solos. Then Ferdy’s gentle piano kicks off the romantic Fly with Me, where needless to say Johnny steals the spotlight with another striking vocal performance while Axel extracts sheer passion from his strings, proving metal bands don’t need to play at the speed of light to sound majestic. Johnny takes a break while his bandmates jam in great fashion in the instrumental tune The Rise of Ankhoor, spearheaded by the virtuoso Axel armed with his incendiary guitar, pumping us up for the title-track Lost XXIII, a traditional Axel Rudi Pell aria exhaling epicness, magic and darkness, with Ferdy’s keys nicely complementing Axel’s riffs in a bold and powerful feast full of melancholy beautifully transformed into words by Johnny, putting a stunning ending to the album.

Axel Rudi Pell Lost XXIII Deluxe Box Set

Such beautiful and pleasant album of our beloved Heavy Metal and Hard Rock can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would add it to your collection of metal albums by clicking HERE, or even better, you can grab the superb Lost XXIII Deluxe Box Set from Nuclear Blast or from Napalm Records. In addition, Axel and his team of amazing musicians are waiting for you on Facebook and on Instagram, where you can stay updated on their tour dates, and based on the high quality of the music found in Lost XXIII their upcoming shows will surely be awesome. And just like that we have more of the thrilling music by Mr. Axel Rudi Pell to enjoy until the band releases new material, most probably in 2024, for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: Survive, No Compromise, Gone with the Wind and Follow the Beast.

Worst moments of the album: Freight Train.

Released in 2022 SPV/Steamhammer

Track listing
1. Lost XXIII Prequel (Intro) 1:47
2. Survive 5:02
3. No Compromise 4:57
4. Down on the Streets 4:46
5. Gone with the Wind 8:56
6. Freight Train 6:08
7. Follow the Beast 5:02
8. Fly with Me 5:42
9. The Rise of Ankhoor 3:48
10. Lost XXIII 8:35

Band members
Johnny Gioeli – vocals
Axel Rudi Pell – guitar
Volker Krawczak – bass
Ferdy Doernberg – keyboards
Bobby Rondinelli – drums

Concert Review – Nervosa & Destruction (Lee’s Palace, Toronto, ON, 05/01/2022)

The German butchers of Thrash Metal struck back in another diabolical night of heavy music in the city of Toronto.

OPENING ACTS: VX36 and Sunlord

There’s nothing better than ending another fun weekend and getting ready for a cold and rainy Monday than a night of pure Thrash and Death Metal, and that’s exactly what several Torontonian metalheads were able to enjoy last night at Lee’s Palace thanks to the ruthless Diabolical North American Tour 2022, with the bands VX36, SUNLORD, NERVOSA and the iconic DESTRUCTION offering their fans exactly what they needed to slam into the pit and raise their horns nonstop. The first band to hit the stage was Geyserville, California-based Thrash/Groove Metal band VX36, led by vocalist and guitarist Nate Klug, who inspired all thrashers at the venue to bang their heads to great songs such as Satan’s Fury and Blood War. That was an excellent start to the night, and I just wish the band had new material to present as everything they played, despite being awesome, was from over seven years ago I believe.

Band members
Nate Klug – vocals, guitar
Gage Higgins – lead guitar, vocals
Nick Altenburg – bass
John Lorence – drums

After a really, really quick break, it was time for Jackson Heights, New York’s own Heavy/Speed Metal trio SUNLORD to kick some ass on stage. Comprised of vocalist, guitarist and founder Alfonso Ferrazza, bassist Ashely Wells and drummer Lamar Little, the band delivered a solid show including the fun songs Forbidden Witch and Turn Me Loose, with Lamar stealing the spotlight with a beyond professional and thrilling performance behind his drums, adding an extra touch of groove and heaviness to the band’s music. In the end, Sunlord might not be as thrash as the other bands from the night, but they definitely proved why they were chosen to open for Nervosa and Destruction with their energy and passion for heavy music.

Band members
Alfonso Ferrazza – vocals, guitars
Ashely Wells – bass
Lamar Little – drums

NERVOSA

Finally, after years and years waiting, I was able to see for the first time ever the all-female thrashing machine NERVOSA pulverizing everything and everyone live on stage. One of the most multinational bands of the current metal scene, as the band is now formed of Spanish frontwoman Diva Satanica, Brazilian guitarist and founder Prika Amaral, Italian bassist Mia Wallace and Greek drummer Eleni Nota, the quartet was infernal with their fusion of Death and Thrash Metal from start to finish, with the stunning Diva Satanica not only showcasing a breathtaking vocal performance, but her stage presence was also a thing of beauty. Still promoting their 2021 opus  Perpetual Chaos, Nervosa made a lot of awesome noise playing songs the likes of Kill the Silence, Masked Betrayer, Into Moshpit, Guided By Evil and Under Ruins, as well as my favorite ones of the night, Genocidal Command, Time to Fight and Rebel Soul, where not only Diva Satanica was flawless on vocals, but Prika, Mia and Eleni were also smashing their instruments in great fashion. I just wish the girls had some time to interact with their fans at their booth (which apparently was reduced to just a few random items as their shirts couldn’t be delivered on time), but again, what really matters is what they do on stage, and they more than succeeded by inflicting that nice pain in our necks due to all headbanging involved.

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

DESTRUCTION

Another short break and there they were, German Thrash Metal institution DESTRUCTION, ready to show everyone at Lee’s Palace what old school thrash is all about. Anything I say about the band’s frontman and mastermind Schmier won’t be enough to depict his energy, his charisma and his onstage performance, kicking ass from the very first second and showing absolutely no mercy for our souls armed with his metallic bass and raspy vocals. Blending classics the likes of Nailed to the Cross, Born to Perish, Mad Butcher, Thrash Till Death, Bestial Invasion and The Butcher Strikes Back with songs from their recently released album Diabolical, including the amazing title-track and the pulverizing No Faith in Humanity, Schmier and his henchmen Damir Eskić and Martin Furia on the guitars and Canadian beast Randy Black on drums gave a lecture in Thrash Metal to their fans, showing why they’ve been alive and kicking since their inception in the distant year of 1983. By the way, close to the end of the show, Schmier had some very nice words to say about a guy that was present at the venue who was their first ever North American fan, being the first person in the US and Canada to purchase their 1984 demo Bestial Invasion of Hell. That was a really cool moment, and that guy, who was not too far from where I was standing, seemed deeply touched by such amazing tribute by one of his favorite bands of all time. That’s pure Thrash Metal, and after all was said and done (already past midnight, by the way), we were all certain those Teutonic metallers will return to destroy Toronto once again in a not-so-distant future.

Band members
Schmier – vocals, bass
Damir Eskić – lead guitars
Martin Furia – guitars
Randy Black – drums

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Album Review – Konvent / Call Down the Sun (2022)

Denmark’s own Doom Metal institution returns with a masterful sophomore offering, doubling down on the band’s songwriting talent and brutal, heavy sound.

Two years after taking the entire Doom and Heavy Metal scene by storm with the release of their boisterous debut full-length album Puritan Masochism, Copenhagen, Denmark’s own Death/Doom Metal institution Konvent returns with a sophomore offering entitled Call Down the Sun that doubles down on the band’s songwriting talent and brutal, heavy sound. Recorded and mixed by Lasse Ballade at Ballade Studios, mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege Studio, displaying a Stygian artwork by Mads Berg, and undoubtedly inspired by recent dark times, the ongoing pandemic and cancellation of live performances, the new album’s thunderous apocalyptic sound is impossible to escape, with the four-piece entity formed of Rikke Emilie List on vocals, Sara Helena Nørregaard on the guitars, Heidi Withington Brink on bass, and Julie Simonsen on drums unleashing hurricanes of Blackened Death and Doom Metal upon us all, sounding even more pissed-off, fast-paced and pitch-black than ever.

The cryptic words barked by Rikke (“Climb into the distance / Aiming for the price / Seeking a device / Climb into the distance / High”) are the main ingredient in the sluggish and atmospheric Into the Distance, darkening the skies to the slow and steady beats by the talented Julie, whereas Sara and Heidi hammer their stringed weapons mercilessly in Sand is King, sounding utterly perfect for breaking your neck headbanging in the name of doom, not to mention Rikke’s roars get even more demonic and obscure. Julie continues to deliver her trademark tribal beats in In the Soot, another solid fusion of Death and Doom Metal where Sara’s Black Sabbath-inspired riffs will penetrate deep inside your lost soul; and Stygian clouds keep blocking all sunlight in Grains, with Heidi providing those low-tuned bass lines we darkly love so much while Sara keeps slashing her axe in great fashion for our total delight.

And the reverberating bass by Heidi kicks off the superb Fatamorgana, with its somber, poetic lyrics being powerfully vociferated by Rikke (“Time to venture out again through the sand to Neverend / Every step is poorly cast / Leave them in the past / Forever, the orb is a guide / Endeavour from morning till night”) while the music flows flawlessly in a lecture in contemporary Doom Metal, all spiced up by its cult-like backing vocals, morphing into a massive, sinister instrumental Interlude for the also venomous Never Rest, bringing forward the quartet’s undisputed heaviness spearheaded by another brutal work done by Julie on drums, with Rikke once again haunting us all with her inhumane, deep gutturals. Then adding hints of Stoner and Sludge Metal to their core sonority, it’s time for the thunderous Pipe Dreams, where the synchronicity between Sara and Heidi is superb form start to finish as usual. Lastly, we’re treated to Harena, perhaps the band’s deepest and most detailed composition of all time. The melodic but extremely sharp riffs by Sara are a thing of beauty, supported as always by the demolishing kitchen by Heidi and Julie while Rikke roars from the bottom of her blackened heart, resulting in a stunning, dense and climatic ending to the album.

Such delicious masterpiece of Death and Doom Metal can be fully appreciated on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course I highly recommend you purchase your favorite copy of the album by clicking HERE, adding an amazing touch of darkness to your private collection. Also, don’t forget to follow the girls from Konvent on Facebook and on Instagram, staying up to date with news, their plans for the future and their tour dates, and I’m more than sure that watching Konvent playing live might be a fantastic experience. Who knows, maybe one days they’ll tour across Canada? Anyway, having said all that, let’s all call down the sun to the undisputed doom played by those four Danish metallers, and enjoy their beyond sweet companionship in darkness for all eternity.

Best moments of the album: Sand is King, Fatamorgana and Harena.

Worst moments of the album: In the Soot.

Released in 2022 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Into the Distance 5:23
2. Sand is King 4:12
3. In the Soot 4:52
4. Grains 6:05
5. Fatamorgana 5:54
6. Interlude 2:00
7. Never Rest 5:39
8. Pipe Dreams 4:05
9. Harena 7:13

Band members
Rikke Emilie List – vocals
Sara Helena Nørregaard – guitars
Heidi Withington Brink – bass
Julie Simonsen – drums

Concert Review – Arch Enemy & Behemoth (Rebel, Toronto, ON, 04/25/2022)

A night of rain, insanity, blasphemy and, above all that, first-class Heavy Metal for the delight of thousands of metalheads in Toronto.

OPENING ACTS: Unto Others and Napalm Death

Despite the heavy rain that decided to hit Toronto only a couple of hours before the fantastic tour named The North American Siege 2022 took the city by storm, the venue chosen for such metal attack, the spacious Rebel, was almost packed already when the first band of the night hit the stage exactly at 6:30pm, American Heavy Metal/Gothic Rock act UNTO OTHERS, and let me tell you I feel a little ashamed for not knowing those guys before last night. Promoting their 2021 opus Strength, vocalist and guitarist Gabriel Franco and his henchmen put on a sensational show, with songs such as Give Me to the Night, Summer Lightning and When Will God’s Work Be Done inspiring all fans to dance, slam into the pit, or simply raise their horns in the name of Rock N’ Roll. It was a short and sweet performance by such talented band, and I hope to see them again in Toronto (or anywhere else in the world) in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
Subdivisions (Rush song)
Heroin
Give Me to the Night
No Children Laughing Now
Can You Hear the Rain
Nightfall
Summer Lightning
When Will God’s Work Be Done

Band members
Gabriel Franco – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Sebastian Silva – guitars
Brandon Hill – bass
Colin Vranizan – drums

Right after a bathroom/beer break (not necessarily in this order), it was time for the iconic Barney Greenway and his Grindcore/Death Metal institution NAPALM DEATH to show Toronto what noise is all about for the delight of admirers of the heaviest and most demented side of music who attended the concert. Having released earlier this year the album Resentment Is Always Seismic – A Final Throw of Throes, the band was on absolute fire from start to finish, with Shane Embury and John Cooke hammering their respective bass and guitar mercilessly throughout their entire set. Amidst a hurricane of infernal tunes the likes of Fuck the Factoid, Contagion, Scum and the one-second masterpiece You Suffer, Barney had time to distill his opinion about controversial topics such as illegal immigration, being always of course on the side of the less fortunate. Closing their boisterous setlist, the band smashed our faces with their rendition of Dead Kennedys’ all-time classic Nazi Punks Fuck Off, sending a message of love and peace, and warning us it won’t take long for those four British noisemakers to return to our beloved city.

Setlist
Unchallenged Hate
Fuck the Factoid
Backlash Just Because
Hung
Contagion
Continuing War on Stupidity
Everyday Pox
Invigorating Clutch
Suffer the Children
Breed to Breathe
Scum
Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
You Suffer
Smash a Single Digit
Deceiver
Dead
Nazi Punks Fuck Off (Dead Kennedys cover)

Band members
Mark “Barney” Greenway – vocals
John Cooke – guitars
Shane Embury – bass, backing vocals, noises, effects
Danny Herrera – drums

ARCH ENEMY

Precisely at 8:35pm Sweden’s own Melodic Death Metal army ARCH ENEMY (although we can say the band is now 60% Swedish, 20% American and 20% Canadian) hit the stage and delivered exactly what the crowd wanted, which was a fusion of some of their best classics with the new songs Deceiver, Deceiver, House of Mirrors and Handshake With Hell, from their upcoming album Deceivers (to be released in July), spearheaded by the unstoppable Alissa White-Gluz and, of course, by one of the best guitarists of the Scandinavian metal scene, Mr. Michael Amott. It was clear in their faces how much they missed playing in front of an audience during the pandemic, in special Alissa who always gets very emotional when playing for her Canadian “family”, which translated into sheer adrenaline for our vulgar delectation. As a longtime fan of the band I was obviously more inspired to bang my head to songs such as Ravenous, Dead Bury Their Dead and Nemesis, but I must say their entire performance was awesome. How long will we have to wait to see Alissa and the boys again in Toronto? Massive circle pits like the ones we witnessed yesterday are not created out of silence, you know. We need Arch Enemy!

Setlist
Set Flame to the Night
Deceiver, Deceiver
The World Is Yours
Ravenous
War Eternal
My Apocalypse
House of Mirrors
The Eagle Flies Alone
As the Pages Burn
Handshake With Hell
Dead Bury Their Dead
Nemesis
Fields of Desolation (Outro)
Enter the Machine

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars, backing vocals
Jeff Loomis – lead guitars, backing vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

BEHEMOTH

And at 10:05pm the gates of hell opened once again and the almighty Blackened Death Metal horde BEHEMOTH emerged from the underworld with another flawless and very theatrical performance, darkening the skies of Toronto and putting a huge, devilish smile on the faces of everyone at Rebel (at least on the faces of the ones not wearing masks). Kicking off their demonic concert with one of my favorite Behemoth songs of all time, the incendiary Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer, the multi-talented Nergal, Seth, Orion and Inferno did not disappoint their fans, sounding utterly heavy, dark and blasphemous until the very last second. Their brand new song, entitled Ov My Herculean Exile, from their upcoming (and still untitled) new album, sounded amazing live, but of course there’s nothing like raising our horns in the name of evil to masterpieces such as Ov Fire and the Void, Christians to the Lions, Chant for Eschaton 2000, and the hymn to Satan himself, O Father O Satan O Sun!, proving why Behemoth are one of the best and most obscure bands of the current metal scene. And when the night was over and those Polish blasphemers left the stage, it was time for us Torontonians to keep some of that darkness inside our hearts, face the cold and rainy weather outside again, and return to our lairs waiting for the next time Behemoth come back to crush the infidels in Toronto with their undisputed music.

Setlist
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Wolves ov Siberia
Ov Fire and the Void
Evoe
Christians to the Lions
Bartzabel
Conquer All
Ov My Herculean Exile
Decade of Therion
Slaves Shall Serve
Chant for Eschaton 2000
O Father O Satan O Sun!

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

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Album Review – Hyperia / Silhouettes of Horror (2022)

This unrelenting Melodic Thrash Metal squad from Canada is back with a fast and furious new album, exploring parapsychology, night terror hallucinations and inhumane government experiments.

Formerly of Calgary, Alberta, and now residing in Vancouver, British Columbia, the unrelenting Canadian Melodic Thrash Metal squad Hyperia is unleashing upon humanity a fast, melodic and heavy-hitting thrasher entitled Silhouettes of Horror, the follow-up to their 2020 critically acclaimed album Insanitorium. Mixed by Colin Ryley at Singularity Sound Studios, mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox Studios, and displaying a beyond classic artwork by Belarusian illustrator Andrei Bouzikov, Silhouettes of Horror explores parapsychology, night terror hallucinations and inhumane government experiments, all embraced by the thrashing music blasted by Marlee Ryley on vocals, Colin Ryley and David Kupisz on the guitars, Scott DeGruyter on bass and session musician Gord Alexander on drums. “The album is mostly about government experiments, greed, and conspiracies, but also about sleep disorders because I have suffered from them since childhood and because of that it was an easy theme to write about,” commented Marlee about the band’s newborn beast.

A cryptic voice ignites the frantic opening track Hypnagogia, with Colin and David slashing their stringed axes accompanied by the thrashing beats by Gord, all of course spiced up by the demented roars by Marlee, and putting the pedal to the metal the band fires the insane Thrash Metal feast Intoxication Therapy, living up to the legacy of bands the likes of Anthrax and Toxic Holocaust with Marlee stealing the spotlight with her she-wolf screams. They keep hammering their instruments mercilessly in Experiment 77, another melodic and sick Thrash Metal aria where Colin is on fire with his guitar solos, whereas a more rhythmic start led by the rumbling bass by Scott and the fierce beats by Gord kick off the mid-tempo, darkened tune Severed, with Marlee’s growling being supported by infernal backing vocals. Following such obscure song, the band continues to invest into a NWOBHM-inspired sonority in Prisoner Of The Mind, with the guitar duel by Colin and David sounding awesome throughout the entire song.

Marlee and her henchmen keep blasting their fusion of insanity, rage and metal music in Terror Serum, a solid display of their Melodic Thrash Metal where Gord does an excellent job dictating the song’s pace with his classic beats, and get ready for a thrashing ride together with Hyperia in the form of Whitecoat, the perfect remedy for a boring day. Put differently, simply slam into the pit to the visceral screams by Marlee and be a happier person, whereas the title-track Silhouettes of Horror brings to our avid ears another round of their devilish riffs supported by the metallic bass by Scott, sounding very melodic and thrilling until the very last second. Operation Midnight is a flawless hybrid of classic Heavy Metal with Bay Area Thrash where Marlee sounds truly possessed on vocals while Colin and David deliver sheer aggression and harmony from their guitars, followed by the last original song from the album, Pleonexia, offering at the same time a more obscure side of Hyperia and their usual sonic devastation, flowing violently to the demonic beats by Gord until the very end. Finally, we’re treated to their cover version for ABBA’s classic Gimme Gimme Gimme (check out the original version HERE), and the band did a fantastic job adding their touch of evil to the music while keeping the song’s core essence intact.

If you believe you have what it takes to face the 50 minutes of the insane thrashing extravaganza crafted by Hyperia in Silhouettes of Horror, you can enjoy the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to provide those Canadian metallers  with your utmost support you can purchase the album from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music. In addition, don’t forget to give the band a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, showing your love for such talented band from the Great White North. Do you believe in government experiments and conspiracy theories? Are you a diehard fan of first-class Thrash Metal? If your answer is yes to one or both of these questions, then Hyperia have exactly what’s needed to put a huge smile on your face while you raise your horns to the demented music found in their excellent new album, leaving us all eager for more of their wicked creations in the nearby future.

Best moments of the album: Intoxication Therapy, Experiment 77, Whitecoat and Operation Midnight.

Worst moments of the album: Severed.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Hypnagogia 4:17
2. Intoxication Therapy 4:38
3. Experiment 77 4:28
4. Severed 4:20
5. Prisoner Of The Mind 4:18
6. Terror Serum 4:51
7. Whitecoat 3:31
8. Silhouettes of Horror 3:54
9. Operation Midnight 4:22
10. Pleonexia 6:59
11. Gimme Gimme Gimme (ABBA cover) 4:29

Band members
Marlee Ryley – vocals
Colin Ryley – lead guitar, backing vocals
David Kupisz – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Scott DeGruyter – bass, backing vocals

Guest musician
Gord Alexander – drums (session)

Album Review – Abbath / Dread Reaver (2022)

Riff-maestro Abbath Doom Occulta returns with total metal mayhem in the form of his third full-length opus, cementing his place among the Black Metal hierarchy.

After the successful releases of his 2016 debut self-titled album and the 2019 opus Outstrider, Bergen, Norway-based Black Metal riff-maestro Abbath Doom Occulta is ready to cement his place among the metal hierarchy with Dread Reaver, his third album with his eponymous project Abbath. Recorded at Dub Studio with additional recordings at Bergen Lydstudio, produced by Endre Kirkesola and Dag Erik Nygaard, mixed by Abbath himself and Endre Kirkesola, and mastered by Maor Appelbaum at Maor Appelbaum Mastering, Dread Reaver might not represent a revolution in Black Metal, but it’s indeed a vibrant and visceral album of extreme music by the aforementioned Abbath on vocals, guitars and bass together with Ole André Farstad on lead and acoustic guitars, Mia Wallace on bass, and Ukri Suvilehto on drums, offering the listener his signature blend of blistering Speed Metal, traditional metal influences, and of course a touch of ice cold Black Metal, the perfect recipe for total metal mayhem.

Let’s cut to the chase and join Abbath in pitch black darkness to the opening tune Acid Haze, a demolishing Black Metal extravaganza led by the scorching riffs by Abbath and Ole supported by the bestial bass by Mia and the infernal beats by Ukri, and continuing their path of devastation the band brings forward Scarred Core, showcasing more of Mia’s crushing bass jabs while Abbath roars the song’s austere words like a demonic entity and Ole delivers an ass-kicking guitar solo made in hell. Then a sinister acoustic intro sets the stage for Abbath to kill again in Dream Cull, sounding less violent but absolutely obscure and evil from start to finish with Ukri dictating the song’s galloping pace; whereas Ukri keeps hammering his drums in Myrmidon accompanied by the razor-edged riffs by Abbath and Ole. In other words, it’s Abbath’s trademark Black Metal infused with hints of classic Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, and the final result is obviously awesome.

Mia’s rumbling bass returns in The Deep Unbound, a bestial composition that will smash you like an insect to the venomous growling by Abbath; and more of the band’s raw Black Metal is offered in Septentrion, with the pounding drums by Ukri walk hand in hand with the incendiary riffage by Abbath and Ole. Their rendition to Metallica’s Trapped Under Ice (check out an original live version of it HERE) is indeed a fun ride, with Abbath’s raspy vocals adding a touch of malignancy to the overall result; and our Norwegian black metaller still has a lot of fuel to burn together with his horde in The Book Of Breath, another straightforward Black Metal tune where Ukri fires violent, melodic beats nonstop, while the title-track Dread Reaver closes the regular version of the album with a dense and heavy atmosphere spearheaded by Abbath’s demonic gnarls and Mia’s smashing bass lines. However, if you go for the physical edition of the album you’ll be treated to an amazing bonus track, the band’s fun cover version for Motörhead’s Make My Day (check the original version HERE), where Abbath sounds like Lemmy incarnate on vocals for our total delight.

Abbath’s brand new effort can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course if you consider yourself a true servant of Norwegian Black Metal you can purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE, and also support Abbath and his horde by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram to stay up to date with their news, tour dates and so on. With Dread Reaver it feels like Abbath is reaching the desired shape and form of his music and style, and hopefully he’ll keep delivering high-quality Black Metal for admirers of the genre for many years to come now that he seems to be free from drugs and alcohol, focusing only on what really matters, which is crafting devilish music just the way we like it in the name of darkness.

Best moments of the album: Acid Haze, Myrmidon and The Deep Unbound.

Worst moments of the album: Septentrion.

Released in 2022 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. Acid Haze 4:51
2. Scarred Core 3:29
3. Dream Cull 4:15
4. Myrmidon 4:33
5. The Deep Unbound 4:07
6. Septentrion 4:28
7. Trapped Under Ice (Metallica cover) 3:59
8. The Book Of Breath 4:35
9. Dread Reaver 4:43

CD bonus track
10. Make My Day (Motörhead cover) 4:16

Band members
Abbath – vocals, guitars, bass
Ole André Farstad – lead and acoustic guitars
Mia Wallace – bass on “Acid Haze”, “Scarred Core”, “The Deep Unbound” and “Dread Reaver”
Ukri Suvilehto – drums