Album Review – Endarken / The Plague of Truth (2021)

This new underground band formed of seasoned musicians will crush our heads with their debut album, offering us all 14 tracks of in-your-face, fast-paced technical metal music.

With former members of bands the likes of Hatesphere and Chaoswave, a new Death and Thrash Metal band hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark that goes by the name of Endarken has just released their debut full-length opus, entitled The Plague of Truth, offering us fans 14 tracks of in-your-face, fast-paced technical metal music. Mixed and mastered by Tue Madsen (Meshuggah, The Haunted, Rob Halford), and displaying a stunning artwork by Jeff Christensen, an amazing surrealist painter from Seattle, the album is the perfect depiction of the talent and passion for heavy music by vocalist Tim Nederveen, guitarists Anders Høeg and Henrik Rangstrup, bassist Troels Lehmann and drummer Dennis Buhl, being highly recommended for fans of a more modern version of Thrash Metal with a very welcome European twist.

The band wastes no time and begins crushing our heads with their visceral music in Prophets of Apathy, with Anders and Henrik sounding infuriated armed with their axes in a classic Thrash Metal tune with Death Metal nuances. Tim continues to roar like a rabid beast in Da Stargo Tora (or “the black of my eyes”), another lesson in savagery and melody by the quintet showcasing piercing guitar riffs and solos for our total delight, and it’s time to slam into the circle pit to the sound of Insomnia, with Dennis dictating the song’s neck-breaking pace with his beats supported by the rumbling bass by Troels. Then drinking from the same thrashy fountain of bands like Exodus and Overkill while at the same time adding elements of Melodic Death Metal to their core sonority we have Reawake the Wolves, spearheaded by the venomous riffage by Anders and Henrik; and after the atmospheric interlude The Hunt Begins, the band comes crushing with the heavy-as-hell Reign of Disgrace, with Tim’s growls being effectively complemented by clean background vocals while the rest of the band delivers sheer animosity and rage through their sonic weapons. And get ready to bang your head nonstop to the violent Insurmountable, where Dennis blasts his drums with tons of fury and intricacy in another modern-day Thrash Metal tune made in Europe.

More melodic and somber than its predecessors, Seraphim brings forward another awesome riff work by the band’s talented guitar duo, providing Tim with all he needs to kick ass with his deep roaring, whereas more of their fulminating thrashing sounds come in the form of Velvet Redemption, where Tim sounds like a creature from the netherworld while Dennis showcases all his talent and technique behind his drums. In the title-track The Plague of Truth the band decided to invest into a more obscure sound, and although it’s still as heavy and melodic as the other songs it doesn’t really take off; followed by the cinematic bridge Endarkened, setting the tone for the pulverizing The Struggle, led by Dennis’ infernal drums and Troels’ metallic bass. Needless to say, it will inspire you to slam into the circle pit like a maniac without a shadow of a doubt, while their second to last hurricane of Thrash Metal, entitled The Pledge, brings to our ears more of Tim’s bestial gnarls supported by the slashing riffage and sick solos by Anders and Henrik. Last but not least, it’s time for the brutal Dead Swan Ballet, leaning towards pure Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal thanks to the crisp sound of their guitars, therefore putting a demented ending to the album.

This beast of an album can be fully appreciated on Spotify, but of course if you consider yourself a true metal collector you can grab a physical copy of the album from the band’s own webstore, or click HERE for all places where you can buy or stream the album. In addition, don’t forget to give Endarken a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their wicked creations. Endarken put their (blackened) hearts and souls into the making of The Plague of Truth, and all that passion for heavy music becomes crystal clear as soon as you hit play, proving why those underground veterans know exactly what they’re doing when armed with their killer instruments, and of ocurse leaving us eager for more of their music in the near future.

Best moments of the album: Da Stargo Tora, Insomnia, Seraphim and The Struggle.

Worst moments of the album: The Plague of Truth.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Prophets of Apathy 3:38
2. Da Stargo Tora 4:09
3. Insomnia 3:27
4. Reawake the Wolves 3:38
5. The Hunt Begins 0:47
6. Reign of Disgrace 3:20
7. Insurmountable 3:58
8. Seraphim 4:02
9. Velvet Redemption 3:48
10. The Plague of Truth 2:13
11. Endarkened 0:30
12. The Struggle 3:29
13. The Pledge 3:41
14. Dead Swan Ballet 4:30

Band members
Tim Nederveen – vocals
Anders Høeg – guitars
Henrik Rangstrup – guitars
Troels Lehmann – bass
Dennis Buhl – drums

Album Review – Manticora / To Live to Kill to Live (2020)

Let the Progressive Power and Thrash Metal by this Denmark-based unity mesmerize you during the 63 minutes of music found in the second part of their horror novel-inspired concept album.

Hvidovre, Denmark’s own Progressive Power/Thrash Metal unity Manticora is back in action in 2020 with their ninth full-length opus, entitled To Live to Kill to Live, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed To Kill to Live to Kill, released in 2018. This is the second part of a grandiose concept based on their 334-page horror novel (which by the way can be purchased HERE), mixed by Jacob Hansen (Primal Fear, U.D.O., Destruction) and featuring guest musicians form bands like Allegiance Reign, Defacing God and Withering Surface, all embraced by a comic book-inspired artwork by Danish artist David Troest. To Live to Kill to Live offers the listener 63 minutes of undisputed metal music, showcasing not only all the dexterity by frontman Lars F. Larsen, gutarists Kristian Larsen and Stefan Johansson, bassist Kasper Gram and drummer Lawrence Dinamarca, but also their creativity and precision in uniting Heavy Metal with a thrilling storytelling. “It all started out as a crazy and almost impossible idea… A book and two albums… I mean… come on? Today I’m so proud of the final result and I still can’t understand that we actually did it,” commented Kristian about the band’s newborn spawn, inviting us all to join them in this breathtaking adventure in the “Land of the Rising Sun”.

A cinematic intro ignites the 14-minute aria entitled Katana – The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud, quickly exploding into modern and electrifying Heavy Metal where Lawrence is absolutely bestial on drums, sounding like a hybrid between the music by Trivium and Stratovarius, and with Kristian and Stefan delivering sheer stamina from their riffs and solos. Furthermore, the storyline progresses flawlessly together with the massive wall of sounds and all breaks and variations blasted by Manticora, building an instant connection with the Japanese-inspired bridge To Nanjing, bringing peace to our minds and soothing our souls before those Danish metallers explode our senses with the imposing The Farmer’s Tale, Pt. 3 – Eaten by the Beasts, where Kasper and Lawrence bring tons of groove and intricacy to the music while Lars keeps declaiming the song’s dark words in great fashion, not to mention the guitar duo’s wicked solos. Then it’s time for a Groove and Heavy Metal feast entitled Slaughter in the Desert Room, where both guitars and Kasper’s bass jabs generate a rumbling atmosphere perfect for Lars to fire more of his trademark vocals. In other words, this amazing song couldn’t have sounded bolder nor more epic than what it already is.

Following such insane composition, phantasmagorical keys give an extra touch of evil and darkness to Through the Eyes of the Killer – Filing Teeth, a true Metal Opera where Kristian and Stefan take the lead with their sinister guitars while Lawrence blasts sluggish, Doom Metal-inspired beats; followed by Katana – Death of the Meaning of Life, leaning towards classic Scandinavian Melodic Death and Power Metal and at the same time sounding as thunderous as it can be, with Lars giving a lesson in passion and feeling while his bandmates don’t stop crushing their instruments not even for a single second for our total delectation. And Tasered/Ice Cage is another explosion of modern-day Melodic Death Metal with both Kristian and Stefan kicking some serious ass with their strident, piercing guitar lines, always in absolute sync with Lawrence’s intricate beats.

Then serene, acoustic guitars intertwined with crisp riffs in a Dream Theater-ish style ignite the pleasant Goodbye Tina, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline and with tons of harmony flowing from Lars’ vocal lines, before Manticora come ripping once again with Tasered/Removal, a heavy and rumbling tune where Kasper does a superb job with his metallic bass, being perfect for cracking your neck headbanging to their solid fusion of Groove and Power Metal; whereas the atmospheric instrumental bridge Stalin Strikes will expand your senses and gently flow into a Japanese-spoken narrative titled Ten Thousand Cold Nights, advancing the storyline into the closing tune Katana – Beheaded, sounding and feeling imposing and vibrant form the very first second, therefore putting a climatic end to the album with all band members being on fire, in special the band’s unstoppable guitar duo and the talented Lawrence, while Lars continues to give life to the story through his soaring vocals.

If you haven’t got in touch with the music by Manticora yet, go check what those Danish metallers are up to on Facebook and on Instagram, listen to more of their music (including the first part of the story released in 2018) on Spotify, and grab a copy of To Live to Kill to Live from their own BandCamp page, from the Sound Pollution webstore, from the ViciSolum Productions’ BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In summary, we must all admit Manticore have definitely outdone themselves in their new album, sounding tighter and even more melodic and incendiary than in their previous album, and concluding their epic Japanese saga on a high and utterly metallic note. After setting the bar so high with To Live to Kill to Live, what’s next for Manticora? Well, that’s something only time will tell, but until then we have a lot of high-end metal music to enjoy thanks to one of the best bands hailing from the Danish scene.

Best moments of the album: Katana – The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud, Slaughter in the Desert Room and Katana – Death of the Meaning of Life.

Worst moments of the album: Goodbye Tina.

Released in 2020 ViciSolum Productions

Track listing
1. Katana – The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud 14:40
2. To Nanjing 1:57
3. The Farmer’s Tale, Pt. 3 – Eaten by the Beasts 4:23
4. Slaughter in the Desert Room 6:11
5. Through the Eyes of the Killer – Filing Teeth 4:59
6. Katana – Death of the Meaning of Life 5:25
7. Tasered/Ice Cage 5:45
8. Goodbye Tina 5:54
9. Tasered/Removal 3:16
10. Stalin Strikes 2:36
11. Ten Thousand Cold Nights 0:51
12. Katana – Beheaded 7:26

Band members
Lars F. Larsen – vocals
Kristian Larsen – guitars
Stefan Johansson – guitars
Kasper Gram – bass
Lawrence Dinamarca – drums