Album Review – Defacement / Defacement (2021)

A dissonant Death and Black Metal statement of utter violence and despair against the endless inner struggle caused by the growing lack of meaning in this thing we call life.

3.5rating

defacement-defacement-2021What started in 2019 as the side project of an underground Black Metal band called Deathcrush quickly evolved into one of the most promising acts in the realm of dissonant Death and Black Metal and certainly one that doesn’t fear to experiment, although they remain faithful to Extreme Metal’s sonic roots. I’m talking about Utrecht, Netherlands-based entity Defacement, who after their self-produced debut Deviant are back from the underworld with their self-titled sophomore opus, a statement of utter violence and despair against the endless inner struggle caused by the growing lack of meaning in this thing we call life. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Catacomben Studios, displaying a sinister cover painting by Dusty Ray, and with art direction and layout by Francesco Gemelli, the album is a work poised between horror and introspection, showcasing all the talent and obscurity by vocalist and bassist Forsaken Ahmed, guitarist Khalil Azagoth and drummer Mark Bestia.

Limbo I is a beyond eerie intro sounding as if the gates to the netherworld have been wide open, haunting our souls before Defacement come ripping like a ravaging beast in Shattered, where Mark is simply demonic behind his drums, providing Ahmed all he needs to roar and scream in great Death Metal fashion (not to mention the pulverizing riffage by Khalil). In other words, it’s a lecture in modern-day Death and Black Metal, offering us all almost ten minutes of disturbing sounds and noises, endless obscurity and absolutely no sign of hope. Then even more atmospheric and ethereal, the interlude Limbo II will warm up our senses for the Blackened Doom-infused aria Disavowed, another vile and Stygian creation by the trio with Mark dictating the song’s infernal pace while Ahmed continues to burst his lungs vociferating nonstop, always accompanied by Khalil and his razor-edged guitar lines.

The second act of the album begins with the interlude entitled Limbo III, offering more whimsical sounds while at the same time warning us all of the dissonant metal attack that’s about to come in Disenchanted, which begins in full force to the hellish blast beats by Mark. Needless to say, Khalil is once again on fire with his intricate and extremely caustic riffage, while Ahmed showcases all the dark and fury inside his heart through his putrid roars, followed by their last instrumental bridge Limbo IV, once again displaying serene and calming sounds before Defacement crush our souls one last time in Wounded, featuring guest vocals by Brendan Sloan (Convulsing). The band brings to our ears over eight minutes of sheer brutality and dementia in the form of Death and Black Metal, with the riffs by Khalil reminding me of classic names of the Norwegian scene such as Mayhem and Immortal, flowing majestically until its hammering grand finale.

defacement-2021Although the album is only going to be launched in the beginning of September, you can already pre-order your copy from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page and from Apple Music, and while you wait for it you should definitely start following Defacement on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know information about the band, and stream more of their visceral music on Spotify. From chaotic blasting madness to melancholic slow passages and ambient interludes, Defacement’s atmospheric journey into the depths of the mind is going to leave a mark in the Extreme Metal scene, as well as an ugly scar on your soul, pointing to a promising and utterly vile path ahead of those unrelenting Dutch metallers.

Best moments of the album: Shattered and Wounded.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing 
1. Limbo I 2:06
2. Shattered 9:30
3. Limbo II 0:55
4. Disavowed 6:38
5. Limbo III 1:05
6. Disenchanted 9:51
7. Limbo IV 1:12
8. Wounded 7:55

Band members
Forsaken Ahmed – vocals, bass
Khalil Azagoth – guitars
Mark Bestia – drums

Guest musician
Brendan Sloan – vocals on “Wounded”

Album Review – Mare Cognitum / Solar Paroxysm (2021)

A Portland, Oregon-based one-man Cosmic Black Metal entity returns with his fifth full-length opus, finding a new voice for his frustrations with humankind through five aggressive, metallic songs.

From the depths of the outer rim to solid footing of green earth, Solar Paroxysm, the fifth full-lenth opus by Portland, Oregon-based one-man Cosmic Black Metal entity Mare Cognitum, finds itself moving from the impossible to the familiar, with the project’s lone wolf Jacob Buczarski occupying himself with the failures of humankind over the past epoch, finding a new voice for his frustrations through five aggressive, metallic songs. Featuring a beyond stunning artwork by Adam Burke at Nightjar Illustration, Solar Paroxysm lifts the veil and reveals the true musicianship which has fueled Mare Cognitum since its impetus a decade ago, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the Stygian creations by Spectral Lore, Dawn, Blut Aus Nord and Chaos Moon, among others.

In the beautiful opening track Αntaresian, a beyond atmospheric and enfolding start grows in intensity and darkness until exploding into visceral Black Metal where Jacob showcases all his dexterity with his fulminating beats and blazing riffs, as well as showing his deep passion for old school and modern-day extreme music, roaring with tons of anguish and despair in his blackened heart. And Jacob keeps firing unstoppable blast beats and fills, razor-edged guitar lines and rumbling bass punches, generating a massive wall of sounds that will penetrate deep inside your psyche in the 11-minute aria titled Frozen Star Divinization, a lecture in Atmospheric Black Metal infused with classic Black Metal nuances; whereas investing in a more obscure and menacing sonority by presenting elements from Blackened Doom and classic Doom Metal we have Terra Requiem, where Jacob’s riffage is absolutely mesmerizing, dragging us all into his Stygian lair forever and ever while the music flows majestically until the song’s epic finale.

The following aria, entitled Luminous Accretion, already starts in full force with Jacob hypnotizing our senses once again through his whimsical riffs and classic Black Metal drumming. Moreover, there’s not a single space left in the air, resulting in top-of-the-line Atmospheric Black Metal for lovers of the genre, or in other words, one of the most complete, detailed and therefore best extreme music songs of the past few years. And last but not least, we’re treated to Ataraxia Tunnels, sounding primeval and intense from the very first second thanks to Jacob’s thunderous drums and piercing riffs, not to mention the hints of Epic Metal added to its core musicality, and of course it’s not an Atmospheric Black Metal song if it doesn’t carry pensive, austere lyrics for our total delectation (“Visions conjure throughout / A delusion searing into memory / So vividly / Once compulsively wrought / Now imbued to confine a once-great mind / Forever”).

The sinister and obscure realms of Cosmic Black Metal ruled by Jacob and his Mare Cognitum can be further explored by following the project on Facebook and on Instagram, by streaming more of his wicked creations on Spotify and, above all that, by purchasing Solar Paroxysm from the project’s own BandCamp page, from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page, from Metal Odissey in CD and double LP formats, or from Apple Music. Now suddenly so outwardly truculent and antagonistic, Mare Cognitum finally reveals the project’s true essence with Solar Paroxysm, inviting us all to join Jacob on a one way journey into madness and sorrow, with his Cosmic and Atmospheric Black Metal being everything we need to get lost in darkness for all eternity.

Best moments of the album: Frozen Star Divinization and Luminous Accretion.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 I, Voidhanger Records/Extraconscious Records

Track listing
1. Αntaresian 11:16
2. Frozen Star Divinization 10:59
3. Terra Requiem 10:35
4. Luminous Accretion 10:51
5. Ataraxia Tunnels 12:31

Band members
Jacob Buczarski – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Onirik / The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity (2020)

A unique Black Metal album that is the consequence of the descent and return from below carrying the flames and lava on its scales, giving it back to the world in posthumous vengeance.

Following up on his highly-acclaimed 2015 album Casket Dream Veneration, Lisbon, Portugal-based Black Metal one-man horde Onirik, the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Gonius Rex, returns with yet another distinct and heavy-as-hell album entitled The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity, the fifth studio album in his solid career. Active since 2002, Onirik has been exploring Black Metal in several approaches, always faithful to its original purpose, the emission of unordinary, dissonant and raw outputs with trance-inducing atmospheres, typically very cold and bathed in magic. With the special guest participation of none other than Dirge Rep on drums (Gehenna, Enslaved, Orcustus, The Konsortium), and mixed and mastered by Semjaza of Thy Darkened Shade at Sitra Ahra Studio, who also took care of the album’s ambient elements, The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity is the consequence of the descent and return from below carrying the flames and lava on its scales, giving it back to the world in posthumous vengeance.

Prepare your senses for six minutes of a classic Norwegian Black Metal inferno in the opening tune Cult Beyond Eternity, where Gonius Rex extracts sheer malignancy from his guitar while gnarling demonically at the same time, and it’s impressive how he is capable of adding so much groove and progressiveness to his Stygian creations such as Trapped in Flesh, Blood and Dirt, piling up additional layers of awesomeness to his already scorching sound while guest Dirge Rep takes care of the violence and brutality with his blast beats. Then our avid ears are penetrated furiously by over nine minutes of a downward spiral into the pits of the underworld together with Gonius Rex entitled Assigned to the Inexorable Flames, with his bass lines sounding utterly demented, groovy and wicked, proving how talented and focused he is at what he does, with the entire song feeling as grandiose and somber as it can be from start to finish.

In Melodies of Reflections and Praise this unearthly entity offers us all a modern yet old school version of Melodic Black Metal infused with Progressive Black Metal elements where Dirge Rep continues to deliver insanity and intricacy through his beats, providing Gonius Rex all he needs to distill his Jazz-inspired bass jabs.  And venturing through the sluggish realms of Doom Metal, Onirik blast the heavy and thunderous Granted the Vision, Molded into Stone, with the bass punches by Gonius Rex allied with the slow and steady beats by Dirge Rep punching us all in the head mercilessly. After such dense extravaganza, and again blending traditional Black Metal with modern-day sounds and a demented atmosphere, we’re treated to an avalanche of darkened sounds for our vulgar delectation in Murmurs of the Aging Vessel, with both Gonius Rex and Dirge Rep being on fire with their respective sonic weapons, whereas back to a more berserk mode Onirik haunt our souls one last time with their infuriated Black Metal in Apathy of Might, and they keep hammering their instruments nonstop until the song’s grand finale.

You can show your support and admiration for Gonius Rex’s alter ego Onirik by following the project on Facebook, and of course by purchasing a copy of such incendiary album from the underground Portuguese scene from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page or from the Metal Odissey webstore in CD or in LP format.  “I have travelled beyond the casket and returned only to illustrate the certain retribution. This time the old ways flow deep like liquefied lava, ready to break the wounds of this earth and resurface in arsonists’ bliss,” cryptically said Gonius Rex about his newborn album, and even if you have no clue what exactly he wanted to say, let me tell you that the best way to understand his eerie words is by playing The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity at top volume and enjoying one of the best releases of the Portuguese underground scene in this obscure year of 2020.

Best moments of the album: Trapped in Flesh, Blood and Dirt and Assigned to the Inexorable Flames.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Cult Beyond Eternity 6:15
2. Trapped in Flesh, Blood and Dirt 4:35
3. Assigned to the Inexorable Flames 9:00
4. Melodies of Reflections and Praise 7:32
5. Granted the Vision, Molded into Stone 6:18
6. Murmurs of the Aging Vessel 6:47
7. Apathy of Might 5:32

Band members
Gonius Rex – vocals, guitars, bass

Guest musicians
Dirge Rep – drums
Semjaza – ambient

Album Review – Xythlia / Immortality Through Quantum Suicide (2020)

Enjoy this visionary soundtrack for our brutal, mutant universe, pushing the boundaries of Extreme Metal through the horrors of space vacuum.

The solo project of Minneapolis, Minnesota-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nick Stanger (also active in the ranks of black metallers Ashbringer), the distinguished entity named Xythlia brilliantly blends the most extreme Technical Death Metal and Grindcore with Voivod’s progressive and experimental approach and the mind-shattering guitar acrobatics of Krallice and Ocrilim, resulting in the perfect visionary soundtrack for our brutal, mutant universe, constantly changing its shape and skillfully alternating complex concatenations of schizoid death-grind riffs with short atmospheric interludes and space noises, dissonant and slanted melodies and crushing slow tempos. Engineered, mixed and mastered by Nick himself at Sound of the Northwoods in Minneapolis, and featuring a creepy and fascinating artwork by Mexican illustrator Carlos Agraz (The Art of Asty), where an alien creature performs a suicide ritual through the space and time continuum, furiously stabbing itself to death, the project’s debut album, entitled Immortality Through Quantum Suicide, testifies the birth of a new talent capable to look beyond the narrow confines of Extreme Metal, and to push it through the horrors of space vacuum. “When quarantine started, I had nothing but time to kill with a myriad of frantic uncertainty and anxiety,” explained Nick. “This record is a reflection of that. It’s a concept album that follows a character experiencing the full extent of isolation throughout infinite time.”

In the visceral opening track Death Unyielding, we already face a vile sonic devastation led by Nick’s infernal shredding, while at the same time he barks the song’s demented and chaotic lyrics (“Collider, a force that could wield the aeons / The secret to transcending time / Death will always show / Rearing its ugly head / Chaos, the beast unfolds / Devouring what’s left of this world / Day of reckoning / Waking nightmare / Chaos reigning / Death unyielding”), flowing into the also demolishing To Defy Inevitability, a lesson in Grindcore the likes of Napalm Death which also presents groovier and more atmospheric moments than its predecessor. In Initiation: Void we’re treated to thirty seconds of insanity in the form of sick riffs and blast beats, morphing into a Technical Death Metal havoc titled Tachyon Malnourishment, where Nick’s growls get more and more violent as the music progresses, with his riffs and bass punches sounding utterly metallic. Then in Antidream serene guitar lines work as the calm before a metal storm titled Ablation of Subconscious, starting in a more introspective way with Nick of course roaring like a beast while at the same time smashing his guitars and bass mercilessly, accompanied by his programmed but very organic drums in the most technical and progressive form of Grindcore you can think of.

Flesh Prison sounds infernal, rumbling and hammering from start to finish, with Nick’s riffs setting fire to the music, boosted by his thunderous bass jabs and the song’s wicked words (“Damnation / An eternity of peril / No end to suffering / Clench my fist / One more click / Body frail / Frantic mind”), whereas Post-Ironic Indoctrination is probably one of the most insane and disrupting minutes you’ll ever experience in heavy music. And that musical madness goes on in Schrödinger’s Foreskin, bringing elements from bands like Slayer and Exodus to Nick’s already hellish sound, not to mention the demented progressiveness he extracts from his violent bass, followed by The Eye Bath, another atomic bomb delivered by our lone wolf in a little over three minutes where he doesn’t stop slashing his guitar not even for a single second, therefore making your head tremble vigorously. After another round of sheer dementia titled Mutagenic Growth, it’s time for the closing tune Fester in the Nether, showcasing an eerie intro gradually evolving into more of Nick’s Technical Death Metal, blending furious riffs and beats with a reverberating bass sound. Furthermore, Nick definitely knows how to make the earth shake with his technical Grindcore, always vociferating rabidly to make things even heavier and more sinister.

Nick and his wild Xythlia are waiting for you to exterminate your senses in Immortality Through Quantum Suicide, and in order to show such insane entity of Technical Death Metal and Grindcore your support simply follow Xythlia on Facebook and purchase your copy of the album from the project’s own BandCamp page, from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page, or from the Metal Odissey webstore. Nick might be one single man enduring isolation just like the rest of us, but we must admit he made an excellent use of his time alone to bring his unrelenting Grindcore beast to life in Immortality Through Quantum Suicide, condensing all the horrors, darkness and fears from space vacuum into a massive wall of sounds that will leave you absolutely disoriented after the album’s 23 crushing minutes are over. Let’s hope we can witness a second round (or maybe I should say reincarnation) of Xythlia in the near future, pushing the boundaries of extreme music more and more into the unknown, exploding our heads with his austere sounds for centuries to come.

Best moments of the album: To Defy Inevitability, Flesh Prison, Schrödinger’s Foreskin and Fester in the Nether.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Death Unyielding 1:06
2. To Defy Inevitability 1:38
3. Initiation: Void 0:27
4. Tachyon Malnourishment 1:32
5. Antidream 0:45
6. Ablation of Subconscious 3:04
7. Flesh Prison 2:05
8. Post-Ironic Indoctrination 1:04
9. Schrödinger’s Foreskin 2:55
10. The Eye Bath 3:04
11. Mutagenic Growth 0:41
12. Fester in the Nether 4:45

Band members
Nick Stanger – vocals, guitars, bass, drum programming

Album Review – Thecodontion / Supercontinent (2020)

An atmospheric and conceptual voyage through various stages of ancient Earth’s continental drift phase, blasted by two Italians who use no guitars – only death.

In case you’ve never heard of Thecodontion, they’re an Atmospheric Black/Death Metal band founded in 2016 in Rome, Italy by vocalist G.E.F. and bassist G.D. who don’t use guitars in their music. Instead, they use two finger-picked, distorted basses, with a third one for solos, accompanied by vocals and drums in order to convey a more ancestral sound. This approach compliments their lyrical imagery, which is based on prehistory, fossils and geologic periods, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Antediluvian, Mitochondrion, Mithras and Neurosis, resulting in what the duo itself likes to call “Prehistoric Metal of Death”. As a matter of fact, the name Thecodontion comes from “Thecodontia”, an Ancient Greek word meaning “socket-teeth”, or an obsolete taxonomic grouping formerly used to describe a diverse group of reptiles which included both the ancestors of dinosaurs and of modern alligators and crocodiles, among others. After releasing their self-titled demo in 2018, followed by the EP Jurassic in 2019, Thecodontion return in full force in 2020 with their first full-length opus titled Supercontinent, an Atmospheric Black and Death Metal sonic journey and another step for the ever-developing and evolving sound of this archaic entity.

Recorded at Snakes Studio in Rome by Guglielmo Nodari, mixed and mastered at Necromorbus Studio in Stockholm, Sweden by Marco Salluzzo, and featuring an array of special guest musicians the likes of session drummer V.P. (Seventh Genocide), vocalist Skaðvaldur (Urðun, Igor Mortis), guitarist J.G.P. (Seventh Genocide, Bedsore) and vocalist R.C. (Seventh Genocide), Supercontinent is a conceptual voyage through various stages of ancient Earth’s continental drift phase, from the earliest known supercontinent (“Vaalbara”) to the most recent one (“Pangaea”), with extensive researches with an almost scientific approach having been made for the lyrical department, also bringing forward four instrumental non-metal songs featuring short poems about “superoceans” and a phenomenal artwork by Stefan Thanneur (Chaos Echoes), with a colorful representation of the final supercontinental stage and climax of the record, Pangaea surrounded by the Panthalassa Ocean.

The low-tuned, metallic bass lines by the duo ignite the album in the atmospheric intro Gyrosia before rumbling sounds and noises permeate the air in Vaalbara, blending the vilest elements from Black and Death Metal led by G.E.F.’s devilish roars while G.D. and V.P. hammer their instruments mercilessly, followed by Ur, featuring guest Skaðvaldur blasting some deep, gruesome vocals, where the band offers more of their primeval bass-driven music, sounding absolutely tribal and Stygian from start to finish (not to mention the amazing job done by V.P. with his ritualistic beats). After such demolishing start to the album, madness and chaos from the prehistorical times invade our ears in Kenorland, where it’s impressive how G.E.F and G.D. are capable of extracting such crisp and strident “guitar” sounds only using their bass guitars, overflowing the always amazing groove and rage of old school Death Metal. Then cinematic bass jabs set the tone in the bridge Lerova, growing in intensity until the duo comes crushing our senses accompanied by the pounding beats by V.P. in Nuna, a lesson in how to fill every single space in the air with menacing bass sounds while G.E.F. vociferates the song’s cryptic lyrics in great Black Metal fashion.

And they’ll make your head hurt with their pulverizing bass punches in Rodinia, where G.E.F. sounds even more demented and berserk on vocals, feeling very progressive and raw at the same time (albeit going on for a little too long, though), whereas Tethys is another atmospheric and enfolding bridge that warms up our senses for Laurasia-Gondwana, featuring guest J.G.P. on the baritone guitar, with the band smashing our skulls viciously with their infernal jamming, blending the fury and violence of Death Metal with the venomous screeches from Black Metal. Then we have the amazing Pangaea, where guest R.C. shares the vocal duties with G.E.F., while G.E.F. himself and G.D. make the earth tremble with their visceral bass attack. Moreover, it’s quite interesting to notice how the music evolves and progresses like the formation of a supercontinent, flowing darkly until the somber outro Panthalassa brings forward reverberating bass lines and slow-paced beats, giving the album a proper (and melancholic) ending.

Thecodontion’s journey through the history of ancient Earth’s supercontinents will soon be available for purchase from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp or webstore, and from the Repose Records’ webstore (in LP format), and you can also follow this dynamic duo from Italy on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details, and search from them on Spotify for more of their prehistorical metal music. As already mentioned, the duo uses no guitars in their music, only death, with Supercontinent undoubtedly representing the most important milestone in their short but already respectful career and, above all, a solid statement that the atmospheric, dark and heavy-as-hell music played by bands like Thecodontion will never face extinction.

Best moments of the album: Vaalbara, Kenorland and Pangaea.

Worst moments of the album: Rodinia.

Released in 2020 I, Voidhanger Records/Repose Records

Track listing
1. Gyrosia 2:09
2. Vaalbara 4:12
3. Ur 6:33
4. Kenorland 4:24
5. Lerova 2:24
6. Nuna 6:02
7. Rodinia 3:52
8. Tethys 1:58
9. Laurasia-Gondwana 3:06
10. Pangaea 7:37
11. Panthalassa 2:41

Band members
G.E.F. – vocals, arrangements
G.D. – bass, arrangements

Guest musicians
V.P. – drums (session)
J.G.P. – baritone guitar on “Laurasia-Gondwana”
R.C. – additional vocals on “Pangaea”
Skaðvaldur – vocals on “Ur”

Album Review – Ploughshare / Tellurian Insurgency EP (2019)

Feeding on sickness, unbearable oppression and blind violence, here comes a cryptic Australian entity armed with their new EP blending a multitude of influences and sounds.

Feeding on sickness, unbearable oppression and blind violence, the brand new EP by Australian Black/Death Metal entity Ploughshare, entitled Tellurian Insurgency, is the perfect depiction of what this mysterious band hailing from Canberra, the capital city of Australia, stands for, always with open arms to a multitude of influences and sounds in order to serve a greater purpose, including Black, Death and Doom Metal mixed with Noise Rock, Post-Punk and even the darkest offshoots of Electronic Ambient. In the span of a little over 22 minutes, Ploughshare’s music flows impetuous and intense in Tellurian Insurgency, the natural follow-up to their 2018 full-length album In Offal, Salvation. Recorded and mixed by Elliot Johnson and Max Napier, mastered by MR and featuring a demonic artwork and layout by JR and RT, the new EP by this idiosyncratic Australian horde is not an easy listen at all for the average rock and metal fan, representing the band’s urge to reinvent themselves and bring something new to the listener with each and every album released, never sticking to a specific formula or style. “Ploughshare is what occurs when we come together as a band,” they explain. “We all bring material, but this will always undergo transformation once we’re together. The music emerges contingently, and in a manner that makes it impossible to inscribe our wills into it. We might all contribute, but we are equally all caught up in it.”

Ominous noises explode into sheer madness and chaos in the opening track Abreactive Trance, a demented voyage through the realms of Experimental Black Metal showcasing enraged vociferations, slashing guitar riffs and infernal blast beats, reeking of desperation and insanity while the music lives up to the legacy of modern-day extreme music. Then we have Indistinguishable Beast of Flight, even more experimental and progressive, with its vocal lines reaching a new level of dementia while the guitars sound utterly strident and piercing, or in other words, get ready for a multi-layered metal extravaganza that will please all fans of heaviness and noise, all spiced up by the gargantuan amount of intricacy flowing from the song’s beats and fills. In Offal, Salvation (Andrew Nolan Re-mix), a new and interesting version for the title-track of their 2018 full-length opus, the disturbing and roaring sounds blasted by the band are infused with electronic noises and tones, resulting in a fresh and futuristic musical experiment albeit a the same time maintaining the core violence of the original version, whereas Xeno-Chemical Insider is another eerie composition by the band that sounds a lot more electronic than metal, which I’m pretty sure was the band’s original goal with this song.  Simply close your eyes and let Ploughshare penetrate deep inside your skin with their deranged screams, rhythmic beats and endless obscurity until the song’s ethereal and somber finale.

Although Ploughshare might be considered an unknown creature by many, you can still get in touch with them on Facebook to let them know how crazy you think their music is, and in order to show your support to this eccentric squad hailing from Australia you can purchase Tellurian Insurgency directly from their own BandCamp or from several other locations in different formats, such as the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp, the Brilliant Emperor Records’ BandCamp and Big Cartel, and the Metal Odyssey webstore. It’s almost impossible to predict what’s next for Ploughshare, but judging by the creativity and cohesiveness of the music found in the short but extremely diverse and thrilling Tellurian Insurgency, we can rest assured those metallers from Down Under won’t stop impressing us with their demented creations in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Indistinguishable Beast of Flight.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 I, Voidhanger Records/Brilliant Emperor Records/Night Rhythms Recordings

Track listing
1. Abreactive Trance 6:16
2. Indistinguishable Beast of Flight 5:22
3. In Offal, Salvation (Andrew Nolan Re-mix) 6:01
4. Xeno-Chemical Insider 4:10

Band members
*Information not available*

Guest musician
VS – additional vocals on “Abreactive Trance”

Album Review – Divine Element / Thaurachs Of Borsu (2017)

In the hostile lands of Borsu, witness the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war, human society and the fabric of the cosmos itself, all embraced by the fury and epicness of Melodic Death and Black Metal.

A comeback that has been slowly brewing since a few years now. Formed in 2002 in the city of Athens, Greece, Melodic Death/Black Metal act Divine Element was the first band of Spectral Lore’s multi-instrumentalist Ayloss and vocalist Antonis, releasing their self-titled debut album back in 2010. After a hiatus of almost seven years, Divine Element are finally back with the stunning Thaurachs of Borsu, the first chapter in many future ones to come under a new and ambitious conceptual undertaking, the combination of metal with fantasy literature and world-making. Featuring a classy artwork by Chilean artist Matias Trabold Rehren, Thaurachs of Borsu is based on the same-titled novel written by Ayloss, which will be unveiled not long after the album release (to be followed by short stories from Antonis), set on a medieval fantasy universe envisioned by the band.

Thaurachs of Borsu chronicles the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war, human society and the fabric of the cosmos itself, as the gritty and daring warriors of his nation, Borsu, fight to regain their ancestral homeland from a much more powerful enemy. Musically speaking, the album ties together several styles of metal to serve the higher purpose of epic storytelling, albeit taking notice to never fall into the typical clichés of “soundtrack metal”, keeping an old-school approach mostly centered around Death and Black Metal of the heavy, melodic variety. Put differently, after hitting play you’ll find yourself wandering through the lands of Borsu, ready for battle and eager for some blood, banging your head nonstop to the majestic heavy music played by Antonis and Ayloss, with the precise and masterful support of German drummer Hannes Grossman (Alkaloid, Hannes Grossman, Shapeshift) to make their sound even more enthralling.

A Realignment With Destiny is a fantastic epic intro to the battle that’s about to come, the title-track Thaurachs Of Borsu, where Antonis and Ayloss begin their crushing onslaught in total sync with the Amon Amarth-inspired beats by Hannes. In other words, this is superb metal music, dense and profound, with all instruments filling all spaces with sheer aggression and might. In addition, how not to fall in love for those monumental lyrics (“The valley folk to the mountains’ slopes withdrew / Surrounded only by unwrought stone / The sea lords to the dry desert driven / Οswan roams frenzied in a soundless plain / Mestyr hangs discouraged with a rusting blade / And all hearts bellow in a silent wailing / A resignation to oblivion”)?

In Onto The Trail Of Betrayal, Antonis’ potent deep growls keep rumbling the earth while the instrumental pieces invest in a more Black Metal sonority. Moreover, the intricate beats by Hannes go along flawlessly with the cutting riffs by Ayloss, resulting in eight minutes of the best underground Melodic Death and Black Metal you can get anywhere, where they not only play superior music but the story being told is also a work-of-art. Then in Beyond This Sea we’re treated to a calm and melancholic start before the sound of the sea and the guitar lines blend in a beautiful manner, creating a potent atmosphere for the metallic sounds that are about to come. Adding elements of Blackened Doom and Folk Metal to their menacing Melodic Death Metal, the result couldn’t sound more imposing and appealing, with highlights to how vocals and guitar follow the exact same lines.

The movie-inspired bridge Interlude (The Point Of No Return) sounds even more majestic than the album’s intro, warming up your fighting soul for the crushing Call Of The Blade, a gripping fusion of the music played by Amon Amarth with traditional Folk Metal, with Antonis sounding like a beast on vocals, enhancing the impact of the song’s already powerful lyrics (“The land speaks to me in an alien tongue / Though my blood was born in these shores / What will I find, if I dig to unearth these roots / The echo of old thoughts faints quickly here / As the collective energy rises triumphant / Powered by the fiery will of a few”). Traitor’s Last Stand is another belligerent tune by Divine Element, showcasing almost eight minutes of heavier-than-hell riffs, electrifying passages and enlivening breaks. Furthermore, Hannes brings a high dosage of intricacy to the overall musicality with his drumming, while Antonis keeps telling the story with precision and passion through his anger-fueled growls. The last part of the song exhales epicness, gradually morphing into the cinematic outro Augury For A Shapeless Future, where the gorgeous sound of a rough ocean, together with the orchestrations in the background, make it the perfect climatic ending for the album.

No words can describe with the right amount of detail how amazing Thaurachs Of Borsu is, which is why I highly recommend you go take a listen at the album in its entirety HERE, and also visit the band’s official Facebook page for more information and their YouTube channel for more awesomeness in the form of heavy music. Also, there are several locations where you can purchase Thaurachs Of Borsu, such as Divine Element’s BandCamp, the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp or webstore, and the Season of Mist’s webstore, as well as on Amazon and at Discogs. And while we wait for the next chapter in the career of Divine Element, we have plenty to enjoy and absorb in this superb album where heavy music and a thrilling story-telling couldn’t be more connected, impactful and vibrant.

Best moments of the album: Thaurachs Of Borsu, Beyond This Sea and Call Of The Blade.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing   
1. A Realignment With Destiny 2:13
2. Thaurachs Of Borsu 4:52
3. Onto The Trail Of Betrayal 7:45
4. Beyond This Sea 4:54
5. Interlude (The Point Of No Return) 1:30
6. Call Of The Blade 6:34
7. Traitor’s Last Stand 7:36
8. Augury For A Shapeless Future 2:39

Band members
Antonis – vocals
Ayloss – guitars, bass, synths

Guest musician
Hannes Grossman – drums (session)

Album Review – Lorn / Arrayed Claws EP (2017)

Absorb the music found in these five psychotic and violent tracks that perfectly exemplify the evolutionary path within the Black Metal field of this distinguished Italian act.

Rating4

ivr068-lorn-arrayed-clawsListening to the distinct Atmospheric Black Metal engendered by Italian act Lorn feels like contemplating a work-of-art by an unusual modern artist, changing its shape and form and bringing forward new elements every single time you stare at it. Since its inception in 1999, this alluring band from Bolzano, a city in the South Tyrol province of north Italy, has been delivering fresh extreme music through each of their releases, never sounding repetitive or outdated, with their full-length albums Towards the Abyss of Disease (2006) and Subconscious Metamorphosis (2013) being their most remarkable works to date. Now in 2017 Lorn are back with Arrayed Claws, featuring five psychotic and violent tracks that perfectly exemplify their evolutionary path within the Black Metal field.

If Subconscious Metamorhposis was a transcendental mental journey towards a superior illumination, Lorn’s new album looks more like a physical and desperate odyssey through the regions of Death. Featuring a classy artwork by Joel Angelini, with layout by Francesco Gemelli, Arrayed Claws will disturb your peace of mind and take you to the obscure realms of Black Metal crafted by the band’s mastermind and multi-instrumentalist Radok. Hence, as aforementioned, every instance you take a listen at such eccentric album you’ll experience different thoughts and feelings, expanding your comprehension of what atmospheric and experimental Extreme Metal truly means and, therefore, enhancing your personal connection with the music by Lorn.

In the opening track, titled Disharmonic Feticism, a darkened squall of brutal, extreme music hits the listener without clemency, with drummer Chimsicrin discharging furious old school Black Metal beats while Radok showcases all his skills through his demonic gnarls and violent riffs, not to mention its beautifully deranged lyrics (“Intentness / So that nothing correspond / Intolerance to the familiar / Orgasmic grate”). After seven minutes of violence and chaos, we face four minutes of a calm atmospheric passage to help soothe our souls, proving how broad extreme music can be when played by the right musicians (especially if they come from Italy, a never-ending source of high-end Black Metal). Their sonic demolition comes back in full force in Abstract Trap, a solid display of vicious Black Metal with Death and Thrash Metal elements to make it more aggressive, with the beastly Chimsicrin being unstoppable behind his drums. Moreover, this is another long, complex composition where again after around four minutes the band transitions their demonic music to an eerie atmospheric aura, with the difference that this time their havoc returns after a short while, with its ending feeling phantasmagorical and menacing.

lorn-logoThe second half of the album offers the listener two songs inspired by the Altaian mythology, two stages of a purification path. Toybodim, a fast-paced high-end Extreme Metal tune showcasing possessed vocals and lancinating guitars, takes its name from a black lake where the souls of the dead fall and become larvae, which can be seen in its lyrics (“Miserable parasite / The cowardice inebriates your void / Hidden haughtiness / Allegiance frighten your rotten self”); whereas the multilayered instrumental tune Sut-aq-Kol is a lake of milk where the spirits get purified, a placenta for the newborns. Musically speaking, this second song continues with Lorn’s banquet of extreme music, once again displaying boisterous drums and infernal riffs. The transition between these two tracks to the atmospheric Aus Nebel Turm aims at leaving the listener beaten and dismayed, with the painful awareness of being only a grain of nothing, lost in mysterious fogs of existence. After an ominous beginning, the music flows into pure Atmospheric and Experimental Black Metal, concluding the transcendental journey proposed by Lorn.

As mentioned in the beginning of this review, every single time you take a listen at the music by Lorn you’ll feel different,  and if you’re ready to experience and absorb all the fury and complexity found in the five tracks of Arrayed Claws, simply go to the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp or webstore to purchase this unconventional and extremely well-crafted album. Also, in order to keep track of such distinguished act, go visit Lorn’s Facebook page to know more about their music, future releases and other details, as a project like this that can unite harmony and disharmony in such enthralling way definitely deserves our sincere support.

Best moments of the album: Disharmonic Feticism and Toybodim.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Disharmonic Feticism 10:53
2. Abstract Trap 10:15
3. Toybodim 6:09
4. Sut-aq-Kol 4:56
5. Aus Nebel Turm 6:40

Band members
Radok – guitars, bass, synth, vocals
Chimsicrin – drums

Album Review – Howls Of Ebb / Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows (2016)

Derranged howls, mesmerizing riffs, distorted screeches and hellish beats. These are the main ingredients for one of the most unique and interesting heavy albums from the past few years, brought forth by an eccentric duo from San Francisco, California.

Rating4

IVR058 - HOWLS OF EBB - Cursus ImpasseSometimes I think I overuse the words “weird”, “eerie” and “unnatural” in our reviews at The Headbanging Moose, but after taking a listen at Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows, the first full-length release by American Black/Death Metal act Howls Of Ebb, you’ll have to agree with me there are no better words to describe the distinct music crafted by this talented duo from San Francisco, California. This is not an album for the regular fan of heavy music, but a journey though the most distorted thoughts and horrifying visions created deep down the human mind.

After releasing their debut EP Vigils of the 3rd Eye in 2014 and the MLP The Marrow Veil in 2015, it’s time for Howls Of Ebb to expand their deranged horizons and offer another blast of the freakish drug they call music, forged in the pitch black darkness of their evil den in the United States. Simply look at the names of the songs and tell me if you’ve ever seen anything as crazy as that in your entire life as a metalhead, but when you hit play you’ll realize those names are even too “soft” for all the insanity and outcry coming out of the screams and strings by Zee-Luuuvft-Huund and the beats by Roteen’ Blisssss, not to mention the eccentric cover art named “Theoin II”, by Italian artist Agostino Arrivabene.

Zee-Luuuvft-HuundIn the opening track, curiously entitled The 6th Octopul’th Grin, distorted and piercing noises and growls attack the listener mercilessly, with its Doom Metal beats and wicked riffs creating a tempestuous ambience, therefore turning this amazing song in the perfect soundtrack to a soul-torturing horror flick. If you survive this demented tune, you’ll be smashed by a furious Progressive Black Metal turmoil named Cabals Of Molder, where the guitar sounds like anguished screams by an evil entity from hell, being perfectly complemented by its constantly-changing rhythm and the grim vocals by Zee-Luuuvft-Huund.

The slower and sinister tune Maat Mons’ Fume offers a creepy atmosphere enhanced by its somber lyrics (“Fetid foul upon Sullied Jowls / Endlessly propagate! / We send gifts from afar / Now, Giant Red Tomb Agitate!”), with both guitars and drums growing into a thunderous level of aggression that goes on until a purely Doom Metal ending (guided by the low-tune bass lines by Zee-Luuuvft-Huund) put an end to this hellish creation. There was only one thing that came to my mind while listening to 7 Ascetic Cinders, 8 Dowries of gA’nOm: this is the type of song that would never, ever play in any radio station so anti-mainstream it is, which in the end means it reached its main goal, right? This multi-song brings forward seven minutes of distortions, vociferations and demonic echoes not for the average listener, and it’s interesting how each instrument sounds “individualist” at first, but together they work extremely well.

Roteen' BlisssssGaunt Vertigo is a smooth but dark instrumental bridge that prepares the listener to The Subliminal Lock – A Precursor To Vengeance, an explosion of Black Metal and Blackened Doom showcasing lyrics as bizarre as possible (“Come Dark Morbid Zen! / Illusory sub-Gnosis takes deeper root / Fleshly cowls crawl deep in the soot / The wick is raised, eyes in pursuit / Come Dark Morbid Zen!”), with the instrumental pieces always “surprising” the listener with all tempo changes, distorted passages and mesmerizing riffs and screeches. And as one last raid we have The Apocryphalic Wick, where after its initial three minutes of wicked noises, an obscure feeling grows uncontrollably until demonic growls open the gates of the underworld. Moreover, the despair in the voice by Zee-Luuuvft-Huund is superb, as if he’s getting asphyxiated due to his soul being consumed by darkness.

This unusual and interesting opus can be found on sale at the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp, or at the Cagliari Records’ BandCamp or webstore. And if you like the  weird effect caused by the noises from Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows penetrating your ears, go give Howls Of Ebb a shout at their Facebook page. Or maybe I should say you must give them a deranged howl instead, it all depends on how much your soul gets darkened by their music.

Best moments of the album: The 6th Octopul’th Grin and Maat Mons’ Fume.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. The 6th Octopul’th Grin 5:31
2. Cabals Of Molder 6:14
3. Maat Mons’ Fume 8:14
4. 7 Ascetic Cinders, 8 Dowries of gA’nOm 7:09
5. Gaunt Vertigo 1:20
6. The Subliminal Lock – A Precursor To Vengeance 6:23
7. The Apocryphalic Wick 7:21

Band members
Zee-Luuuvft-Huund – vibrations, low auras, polysyllabic morbid mysticisms (a.k.a. vocals, guitar, bass)
Roteen’ Blisssss – cadence of limp and duress, bronze aura (a.k.a. drums)