Album Review – Lutharo / Hiraeth (2021)

Behold the first full-length album by this fantastic Canadian Melodic Death Metal band, balancing hauntingly beautiful atmospheres with raw power and aggression.

Following the success of their 2020 EP Wings of Agony, Hamilton, Canada-based Melodic Death Metal outfit Lutharo (or Lutharö, if you prefer) is back into the battlefield with their first full-length opus, entitled Hiraeth, a Welsh word that has no direct English translation but that means an intense form of longing or nostalgia for a place long gone, or even an unaccountable homesickness for a place you have never visited. Recorded and mixed by Tyler Williams at Monolithic Productions, mastered by Lasse Lammert at LSD Studios, and displaying a classy artwork by Gogo Melone, Hiraeth launches into an epic exploration of the technical, musical and compositional abilities of frontwoman Krista Shipperbottom, guitarists Victor Bucur and John Raposo, bassist Chris Pacey and drummer Duval Gabraiel, balancing hauntingly beautiful atmospheres with raw power and aggression, and therefore, representing a huge step in the right direction for such talented Canadian band.

The sound of a beating heart ignites Lutharo’s metal machine in the intro Introspection, setting the stage for Victor and John to kick some ass with their riffs in the high-octane To Kill or to Crave, where Krista already showcases all her talent and fury through her sick, demented roars, sounding like a modern-day version of Angela Gossow during her unforgettable Arch Enemy years. Duval keeps hammering his drums frantically in What Sleeps in Your Mind, accompanied by the rumbling bass by Chris and the always sharp axes by the band’s guitar duo in a flawless display of contemporary Melodic Death Metal, followed by Phantom, slightly more symphonic than its predecessors but still venomous and heavy-as-hell, bringing forward another round of the band’s unrelenting music spearheaded by the she-wolf screams by Krista, and Worship Your Path, where the band’s stringed trio generates a massive atmosphere for their unstoppable frontwoman to shine once again, not to mention it’s epic NWOBHM vibe.

Lutharo Hiraeth Box Set

In Hopeless Abandonment the skillful Krista and the boys show no sign of slowing down, with Duval being on absolute fire with his crushing beats and fills, not to mention the always incendiary riffage and solos by Victor and John. Are you tired already? Because Krista is ready to slash your damned soul with her wicked roars in Valley of the Cursed, displaying a brutal performance by Duval on drums and, consequently, adding an extra touch of aggression to the band’s first-class musicality; whereas In Silence We Reign sounds and feels more epic than the rest of the album, a pounding tune that will work perfectly if played live with Duval making sure we break our necks headbanging nonstop while Krista gives a vocal lesson from start to finish. Their second to last explosion of Melodic Death Metal comes in the form of the breathtaking Eclipse, very intricate and progressive at times, with the guitars by Victor and John exhaling electricity and harmony, and last but not least, the band invests into a darker sonority in Lost in a Soul, putting a climatic ending to the album to the blast beats by Duval and the crisp riffage by Victor and John, until everything fades into an enfolding darkness.

As I like to say, it’s an absolute pleasure seeing bands like Lutharo taking their music to a whole new level and showing the entire world the quality, strength and diversity of the current Canadian metal scene, and with Hiraeth they not only more than succeeded in that, but they also placed themselves as one of the driving forces of the Canadian scene. Hence, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel (like I’ve already done) for more of their awesome music and beautiful videos, to stream all of their creations on Spotify, and of course to grab your copy of Hiraeth from their own BandCamp page or from their Big Cartel (where you can find a fantastic box set containing the Hiraeth digipack CD, a logo patch, a Hiraeth flag, a logo keychain and a signed photo), as well as from Apple Music. It will be interesting to see if Lutharo will be capable of delivering something more powerful and dynamic than Hiraeth in their future releases, but based on the talent of all musicians involved I wouldn’t be surprised if next year Krista and the boys stun us all once again with their undisputed metal music.

Best moments of the album: To Kill or to Crave, What Sleeps in Your Mind, Valley of the Cursed and Eclipse.

Worst moments of the album: Phantom.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Introspection 1:42
2. To Kill or to Crave 4:51
3. What Sleeps in Your Mind 5:19
4. Phantom 5:01
5. Worship Your Path 5:03
6. Hopeless Abandonment 4:23
7. Valley of the Cursed 4:31
8. In Silence We Reign 4:50
9. Eclipse 4:07
10. Lost in a Soul 7:03

Band members
Krista Shipperbottom – vocals
Victor Bucur – guitars, backing vocals
John Raposo – guitars
Chris Pacey – bass
Duval Gabraiel – drums

Guest musician
Elliot Vernon – orchestral arrangements

Album Review – Black Hole Deity / Lair Of Xenolich EP (2021)

This new American entity comes ripping with their debut dimension-altering listening experience, overflowing their supernatural and sci-fi-themed Death Metal.

When you put together past and present members of ruthless metal acts like Chaos Inception, Malignancy, Fear Factory, Cruelty Exalted and Calcemia, the result is obviously going to be demolishing to say the least. That’s exactly what vocalist Chris White, guitarists Alec Cordero and Cam Pinkerton, and renowned drummer Mike Heller, collectively known as Birmingham, Alabama-based Death Metal horde Black Hole Deity, have to offer us all in their debut EP entitled Lair Of Xenolich, highly recommended for fans of the likes of Nocturnus, Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal and Deeds of Flesh, just to name a few. Produced and mixed by Mike Heller at Heaven and Heller Studios, re-amped and mastered by Lasse Lammert at LSD Studios, and featuring a blasphemous artwork by Chris Kiesling from Misanthropic Art, Lair Of Xenolich is a dimension-altering listening experience, bringing to our ears supernatural and sci-fi-themed Death Metal, sounding progressive yet dark and brutal throughout its intense 16 minutes of music.

Mike showcases all his brutality and skills behind his drums in the fulminating opening tune Razed Earth Edict, where the band goes straight to the point, with Chris’ demented roars complementing their razor-edged riffs flawlessly. Then in Railgun Combat we’re treated to venomous lyrics barked by Chris (“Incandescent / Blaze through steel corridors / Priming our armaments / To sear their flesh / Break the covenant / Carnage in the church of Nihilanth / Bursts of plasma, claims their souls”) while Alec and Cam continue to kill with their stringed axes in another bestial Death Metal exhibit by the quartet, and featuring guest violinist Ally Storch, Hypersleep Dementia is a melodic and introspective interlude that will penetrate deep inside our psyche before the band comes ripping in Multiverse Incantations, with Mike hammering his drums mercilessly accompanied by the obscure riffage by Alec and Cam, resulting in a headbanging extravaganza with absolutely no shenanigans nor any artificial elements. And lastly, the title-track Lair Of Xenolich will offer your avid ears three minutes of top-of-the-line Death Metal, with Alec’s soulful solos and Mike’s crushing beats adding an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result, therefore putting an amazing ending to the album.

After all is said and done, although we’re talking about just 16 minutes of music, let’s say the dexterity, rage and intensity those four horsemen of Death Metal put into the making of the EP make it sound like a full-bodied album, pointing to an exciting future ahead of them full of wicked, multi-layered releases. Hence, don’t forget to show Black Hole Deity your appreciation by following them on Facebook, and especially by purchasing Lair Of Xenolich from the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (and soon from other retailers like Apple Music and Amazon), keeping the fires of underground Death Metal burning bright and, of course, inspiring us to slam into the pit like true metalmaniacs to the furious sound of their top-of-the-line sci-fi inspired creations.

Best moments of the album: Razed Earth Edict and Lair Of Xenolich.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. Razed Earth Edict 4:22
2. Railgun Combat 3:28
3. Hypersleep Dementia 1:49
4. Multiverse Incantations 4:10
5. Lair Of Xenolich 3:03

Band members
Chris White – vocals
Alec Cordero – lead guitar
Cam Pinkerton – rhythm guitar, bass, backing vocals
Mike Heller – drums

Guest musician
Ally Storch – violin on “Hypersleep Dementia”

Album Review – Lindsay Schoolcraft / Martyr (2019)

Renowned Canadian keyboardist and vocalist Lindsay Schoolcraft will take you on a very entertaining journey through the realms of Gothic Rock and Metal in her debut solo album.

An accomplished singer, songwriter, harpist, and pianist in her own right, Canadian keyboardist and vocalist Lindsay Schoolcraft (Cradle of Filth, Antiqva, The Astroplex, Daedalean Complex) is about to release her debut solo album entitled Martyr, a very entertaining feast of Gothic Rock and Metal recommended for admirers of the dark music played by bands like Evanescence and Nightwish, while  Cradle of Filth enthusiasts will certainly enjoy hearing this darkly romantic side of Schoolcraft’s music. Hailing from Oshawa, a city on the Lake Ontario shoreline, Lindsay is not only deeply proud of her Canadian roots, but she’s also a declared fan and a connoisseur of all things rock and metal, making us at The Headbanging Moose really proud of her development and growth as a musician, and with Martyr being the perfect depiction of all her dedication and passion for heavy music.

Produced, engineered, and mixed by Tyler Williams of Monolithic Productions, mastered by Lasse Lammert, and featuring a classy cover artwork by Anastasia Solti and logo by Lindsey Márton, Martyr is Lindsay’s personal tribute to rock and metal, channeling her years of experience as a musician and as a human being into ten original composition written by Lindsay herself together with American multi-instrumentalist Rocky Gray (Living Sacrifice, Evanescence, We Are the Fallen, Soul Embraced, Machina), who’s also responsible for all guitars, bass and drums in the album. Not only that, Martyr also brings an array of very special guests, including Xenoyr, vocalist for Australian Extreme Progressive Metal band Ne Obliviscaris, and who also plays with Lindsay in her Black Metal project Antiqva, adding an extra touch of darkness to Lindsay and Rocky’s goth-rock extravaganza.

Somber piano notes and a modernized vibe set the tone in Saviour, with Rocky slashing his strings before Lindsay comes ripping with her Amy Lee-inspired vocals in a top-notch Gothic Rock and Metal exhibit by our beloved Canadian musician, and a delicious feeling keeps permeating the air in Dangerous Game, where Lindsay not only does a great job on vocals, but her trademark keys also bring a nice touch to the music. Moreover, Rocky and his low-tuned bass punches sound as thunderous as they can be, adding the word “Gothic” to the final result. Stranger is even more delicate than its predecessors, but still presenting the electricity of Gothic Rock, and you can sense elements from bands like Evanescence, The Cure and Depeche Mode in the music; and her smooth piano notes keep dictating the rhythm in Into The Night, where it’s impressive how Lindsay can sound so gentle and dark at the same time (maybe a “side effect” of her years with Cradle of Filth), offering us all a ballad perfect for enjoying together with your loved one.

Can we call Blood From A Stone a Gothic, darker version of Enya, mainly due to the gorgeous way Lindsay declaims the song’s touching lyrics? Put differently, let Lindsay and her serene vocals and piano mesmerize you for over five minutes, which is also the case in the cinematic Dawn, where Lindsay is unstoppable with her melancholic piano notes in this ethereal and almost instrumental composition. Then supported by the innocent voices from a children’s choir, Lindsay’s keys get more piercing while Rocky brings heaviness to the musicality with his riffs and (programmed) beats in Remember, whereas in the metallic and gracious See The Light it’s time to put the pedal to the metal, reminding me of some of the best creations by UK’s Industrial Rock/Metal band Lahannya, featuring nonstop drums and the guttural vocals by guest Xenoyr, bringing the “beast” to the music while Lindsay obviously represents the “beauty”.

Where I Fall, another touching ballad by Lindsay, is perfect for soothing your soul on a cold and dark night, bringing to our ears spot-on piano notes and keys, whereas My Way Without You, featuring guest Lauren Francis (Devilment) on backing vocals, is almost just a “vocal and piano” song, showing how much Lindsay loves this variation of Gothic Rock. And last but not least, although the whole album is amazing, I must admit her version for The Cure’s dark classic Lullaby (you can check the original version HERE) is beyond hypnotizing,  and I’m sure Robert Smith is proud of Lindsay not only for the amazing job she does on the piano, but especially by the way she declaims the song’s wicked lyrics with so much feeling.

As already mentioned, we at The Headbanging Moose couldn’t be happier and prouder of Lindsay Schoolcraft and her newborn spawn Martyr, and if you also want to show your sincere support to such talented Canadian woman you should definitely follow her on Facebook, subscribe to her YouTube channel, listen to more of her music on Spotify, and purchase Martyr (anytime soon) and all of her other releases from her own BandCamp page. In a nutshell, Martyr a a more-than-enjoyable album of rock and metal music, and let’s hope it inspires Lindsay to keep releasing albums under her solo career for years to come and, consequently, to visit your city or town in a not-so-distant future for live performances, embellishing the airwaves with her undeniable talent and charisma.

Best moments of the album: Saviour, See The Light and Lullaby.

Worst moments of the album: Dawn.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Saviour 4:17
2. Dangerous Game 4:35
3. Stranger 4:15
4. Into The Night 5:02
5. Blood From A Stone 5:03
6. Dawn 3:10
7. Remember 4:01
8. See The Light 3:47
9. Where I Fall 4:48
10. My Way Without You 4:48
11. Lullaby (The Cure cover) 4:32

Band members
Lindsay Schoolcraft – vocals, piano, harp
Rocky Gray – guitars, bass, drum programming

Guest musicians
Spencer Creaghan – orchestrations
Matthew Van Dreil – additional orchestrations
Vassilis Thomas – Orthodox chant on “Saviour”
David Michael Moote – Gregorian chant on “Saviour”
Chanel Martins – support with children’s choirs on “Dangerous Game”, “Warm Me” and “Remember”
Xenoyr – guest vocals on “See The Light”
Lauren Francis – backing vocals on “My Way Without You”