Album Review – Grale / AGITACIÓN EP (2021)

Comprised of four Canadian musicians who share the same passion for heavy music, this newborn and fully virtual Sludge Metal entity is ready to show us all the power of the riff with their debut EP.

3.5rating

grale-agitación-ep-2021Formed during the first pandemic lockdown, Canadian Sludge Metal project Grale is comprised of musicians who share a friendship with artist and producer Greg Dawson (guitarist for Canadian Doom Metal beast Olde) and a love of heavy music. Already an all-star unit featuring the aforementioned Greg Dawson on the guitars, Daniel Allen (of Indian Handcrafts) on vocals and guitars, Mark Rand (of Cross Dog) on bass and Kevin Farmer (of The Compound) on drums, Grale also enlisted contributions from members of metal heavyweights Sacrifice, Revocation and Gargoyl to elevate their “pandemic project” into a fully-fleshed and ferocious five-song assault, their debut EP entitled AGITACIÓN. Recorded at BWC Studios by Greg (who was also responsible for all mixing and mastering), Bandage A/V by Mark, Farmer Sound by Kevin and The Bethlab by Daniel, each song from the EP evolved from one good riff, with the band creating and collaborating remotely, focused on forging an organic new sound that would have followers of High on Fire, Motörhead or Judas Priest banging their heads in approval.

And guest vocalist Rob Urbinati (of Sacrifice) lends his enraged roars to Grale in the opening tune Meth Aggressor, making a dynamic duo with Daniel while the music showcases a visceral fusion of Death and Sludge Metal led by the massive riffs by Daniel and Greg, and with Kevin pounding his drums in great fashion. Then in No Justice For All the quartet brings forward a Mastodon-inspired sound (which means a more Progressive Metal vein, of course) where Daniel keeps vociferating nonstop accompanied by the low-tuned, rumbling bass by Mark and the always hammering beats by Kevin; whereas Grale slow things down considerably, investing in an old school Doom Metal sonority in The Blade, featuring guest guitar solos by Luke Roberts (of Gargoyl and Battlebear) and David Davidson (of Gargoyl and Revocation), with Daniel and Greg being once again merciless, worshipping the power of the riff with their guitars. The Emptiness Project is another dense and aggressive Sludge and Stoner Metal tune blasted by the quartet where all instruments are in absolute sync in the name of madness, with the piercing sound of the guitars walking hand in hand with the groovy bass jabs by Mark, and lastly, back to a more Progressive Sludge Metal sound, Grale offers us all the heavy and thrilling Terror Control, presenting visceral, raspy vocal lines, slashing riffs and crushing drums, therefore putting an awesome ending to the EP and leaving us eager for more of their sick music.

grale-2021I’ve already seen countless bands and artists releasing awesome material during this never-ending pandemic, but I must admit what the guys from Grale did together is beyond impressive taking into account they never even met in person to create their songs, rehearse or record them. If you’re curious to know how four guys from four different locations sound together in this virtual world we’ve been living in, simply go check the full EP on YouTube and on Spotify, and if you like what you see don’t forget to show them your support by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course by purchasing AGITACIÓN from their own BandCamp page (or click HERE for all places where you can get to know more about the band and purchase their music). In such difficult times, heavy music once again conquers all, uniting not only us fans but also talented musicians from all over the world (or in the case of Grale, from here in Canada) and keeping us sane until the pandemic is finally over. And I it takes even longer for this madness to finally end, at least we can rest assured the guys from Grale are among us to prove once and for all there’s nothing more comforting than the power of the riff.

Best moments of the album: Meth Aggressor and The Emptiness Project.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Meth Aggressor 4:31
2. No Justice For All 3:24
3. The Blade 4:04
4. The Emptiness Project 4:13
5. Terror Control 5:25

Band members
Daniel Allen – vocals, guitar
Greg Dawson – guitar
Mark Rand – bass
Kevin Farmer – drums

Guest musicians
Rob Urbinati – vocals on “Meth Aggressor”
Luke Roberts – guitar solo on “The Blade”
David Davidson – guitar solo on “The Blade”

Album Review – Olde / Pilgrimage (2021)

Arising from the underworld like a demonic beast, one of the most hardworking bands of the Canadian scene returns with another round of their acid Doom Metal in their third full-length album.

Patiently awaiting for their next victim on the darkest corners of Malton, a neighborhood in the northeastern part of the city of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, located to the northwest of Toronto, the unrelenting Doom Metal entity known as Olde is back in action after four long years with their third full-length opus, entitled Pilgrimage, following up on the heaviness, aggression and madness of their 2017 album Temple. Written, performed, recorded, mixed and mastered by Olde, with all production and mastering being done by the band’s own guitarist Greg Dawson at BWC Studios in Kingston, Ontario, displaying an apocalyptic artwork by Alexandre Goulet, and featuring guests Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain (of Voivod) and Nichol S. Robertson on the guitars and Nick Teehan on saxophone, Pilgrimage will smash your cranial skull mercilessly, showcasing all the passion for doom by vocalist Doug McLarty, guitarists Chris Hughes and Greg Dawson, bassist Cory McCallum and drummer Ryan Aubin.

Arising from the underworld like a demonic beast, the sluggish beats by Ryan dictate the pace in the massive title-track Pilgrimage, with Chris and Greg extracting sheer obscurity from their axes while Doug delivers his usual roars for our total delight, whereas accelerating their pace like a behemoth of doom, Cory’s rumbling, low-tuned bass will pierce your soul in A New King, while the guitars by Chris and Greg exhale dementia and darkness from start to finish in a great display of Sludge and Doom Metal. Then we have Medico Della Peste, an awesome creation by those five talented Canadians bringing to our ears everything we love in Doom and Stoner Metal, including slow and steady beats, dirty riffs, soulful solos and the trademark raspy vocals by Doug; and the sharp but very delicate sound of their guitars is a thing of beauty in the atmospheric In Defiance, with Cory and Ryan generating a sinister wall of sounds with their bass jabs and classic drums, sounding perfect for breaking your neck headbanging.

More of the band’s classic Doom Metal is offered to our avid ears in The Dead Hand, once again dragging us down to the underworld, showcasing wicked lyrics barked by Doug while his bandmates make sure every single space in the air is filled with insanity, not to mention the sick sax solo by guest Nick Teehan. Then the tribal drums by Ryan ignite the damned feast entitled Depth Charge, tailored for admirers of the genre, bringing forward a violent yet melodic guitar solo to enhance our senses and with Doug once again leading his demented horde with his deep voice. In Under Threatening Skies we’re treated to over six minutes of first-class Canadian doom spearheaded by the visceral riffage by Chris and Greg together with the thunderous bass by Cory, resulting in an awesome composition that lives up to the legacy of old school Doom Metal; whereas raw riffs and slow, primeval beats kick off the closing tune Wastelands, where a menacing sonority flows slowly and majestically until the very end with Doug once again screaming in anger and pain, putting a vintage ending to the album.

After all is said and done, you’ll be more than tempted to succumb to the most doomed side of music together with Olde, with Pilgrimage representing another awesome step in their already solid career. Hence, don’t forget to follow those Canadian metallers on Facebook and on Instagram, to stream their damned catalogue on Spotify, and to put your dirty hands on a copy of Pilgrimage by purchasing it from their own BandCamp page, from the Sludgelord Records’ BandCamp page or from the Seeing Red Records’ webstore. Let’s all walk together with Olde on their journey of doom to the sound of their newborn spawn, showing the entire world that whenever their music sounds as heavy, grim, unfriendly and sluggish as it can be, that means it’s mission accomplished for such hardworking band of doom from the Great White North .

Best moments of the album: A New King, Medico Della Peste and Under Threatening Skies.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Sludgelord Records/Seeing Red Records

Track listing
1. Pilgrimage 5:03
2. A New King 5:20
3. Medico Della Peste 4:05
4. In Defiance 6:44
5. The Dead Hand 5:11
6. Depth Charge 3:47
7. Under Threatening Skies 6:08
8. Wastelands 5:44

Band members
Doug McLarty – vocals
Chris Hughes – guitars
Greg Dawson – guitars
Cory McCallum – bass
Ryan Aubin – drums, guitar solos

Guest musicians
Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain – guitars
Nichol S. Robertson – guitars
Nick Teehan – saxophone

Metal Chick of the Month – Lisa Thompson & Jessica Marsden

lisa_jess

Lisa and Jess, the “sweet poison” of Sovereign Council.

Although the music by Canadian Symphonic Metal band Sovereign Council is already professional and pleasant enough to draw the attention of any metalhead that loves listening to some good symphonic heavy music, two of their band members can be considered a huge plus to their live performances, especially to the eyes and hearts of all regular guys (and even some girls) attending the show. Given the fact that this session of the Headbanging Moose is called “Metal Chick of the Month”, I bet you have an idea of what I’m talking about. Thus, for the first time in this website we have not only one, but two metal chicks at the same time to our total delight: the beautiful singer Lisa Thompson, and the stunning keyboardist Jessica “Jess” Marsden.

I had the pleasure to see this Kingston-based band opening for German Power Metal icons Primal Fear in Toronto, in May this year, and I can say those girls are more than just pretty faces on the stage. They are truly talented musicians, which by the way is what really matters in the end, enhancing the overall performance of the band with their voices, instruments and moves. You can take a listen at their contribution to the musicality of Sovereign Council in their official ReverbNation and YouTube channels, but not before checking out the biographies below to know more interesting details about those two beauties.

LISA THOMPSON

lisa01Born and raised in Ottawa, the official capital of Canada, Lisa Thompson grew up surrounded by rock music, with her father being a musician playing lead electric guitar and organ in local rock bands.  Lisa always sang as a child and, at the age of 10, her parents decided to start her up in singing and piano lessons.  She trained for nine years vocally, two years piano and then became a vocal coach in 2003. Today she continues to coach full time from her studio in Ottawa and specializes in coaching recording artists, performing musicians and bands.

At the age of 16, Lisa was a hired as a vocalist for a local recording studio in Ottawa and had the opportunity to write a few songs of her own, which fueled her passion for song writing and studio work.  Lisa started performing in rock cover bands in 2003, and over the years she has performed solo, in cover bands, tribute bands, original bands, and has had three albums produced between two different original bands.

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Our gorgeous singer joined Sovereign Council in 2012 as the band’s female vocalist.  She wasn’t looking to join a metal band at the time, but after one listen through the material of New Reign she was hooked to their music, and it was a welcomed challenge for Lisa contributing and writing vocal harmonies for the band. Moreover, performing along with lead singer Alex MacWilliam has been a true partnership feeding off of each other’s performance and vocals, giving their audience a performance of emotions and theatrics.

In regards to her musical interests and influences while growing up, they consist of a wide variety of artists, including names such as Evanescence, Disturbed, Silverchair, Led Zepplin, Eva Cassidy and Holly McNarland, just to name a few. You can see by this list that our charming female singer’s taste for music goes beyond metal, appreciating any artist that brings forth some high-quality material, especially in terms of singing and lyrics.

“There’s no better feeling than performing! Hearing your audience cheer you on and singing along with you. It’s surreal.” – Lisa Thompson

JESSICA MARSDEN

jess01Born on January 15, 1991 in Burnley, a market town in Lancashire, England, located around 34km north of Manchester, keyboardist Jessica Marsden (or simply Jess) also has a longstanding relationship with music. Her parents encouraged her to follow that path from a very young age: Jess was given her first miniature keyboard when she was only three years old and her father, who had taken a few organ and cornet lessons when he was a child and was more musically inclined than the average person, would play quick little tunes on the little keyboard for her. She then listened to what her father was playing and started figuring out how to play the same thing immediately after. Needless to say, music lessons started up not too long after.

At the age of five, Jess began taking piano lessons. She was able to grasp the basic theory behind it all, but by no means did she enjoy it: all she wanted to do was play the songs that she had heard on the radio or on a CD that her parents listened to. That was “unacceptable”, and therefore she was pushed to read music she was given, but the problema is that she simply hated it. Jess spent a few more years with a different teacher, who trained her ear further and provided guitar and vocal lessons.

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When our gorgeous keyboardist hit her senior years in high school, she stopped taking lessons altogether and began to pursue her own musical endeavours. This was around the time when her music taste started to broaden significantly, when she was listening to everything, from Rachmaninoff to Killswitch Engage and, of course, she loved it all. After finishing high school and being involved in several musicals, concerts and competitions, Jess went off to the University of Ottawa, taking classes ranging from Music Studies to Behavioural Psychology. She finished two years of the program and ran out of money, and not too long after returning to Kingston to live with her family and work for a while, a coworker informed her of a local metal band that was looking for a keyboardist. That was when Alex MacWilliam introduced her to Sovereign Council, and she has been there ever since.

According to Jess herself, working with such hard-working and creative individuals like the other members of sovereign Council has really pushed her to play further and further outside of her old comfort zone. She was used to playing softer and more melancholy pieces, although she had always secretly wanted to express her inner beast through heavier music. With that said, can we call Jess the “Beauty and the Beast” of the band?

“With every show, I am able to completely let loose, let my inner passions (love, sorrow and rage) build up, and let it out, turning it into something beautiful and expressive. Hopefully, this is something that many people can relate to and appreciate through our music.” – Jessica Marsden

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