Album Review – Gallia / Obscura (2022)

Enjoy this breathtaking album of Symphonic Metal infused with sheer epicness and storytelling, masterfully crafted by an up-and-coming four-headed outfit from Belgium.

Creating Symphonic Metal with an amount of epicness and storytelling that would fit a dark fantasy trilogy on the big screen, leading to what the band itself likes to call “Cinematic Metal”, Stevoort, Belgium-based four-headed outfit Gallia is unleashing upon humanity their first full-length opus, entitled Obscura, building on the story that was set in place by their 2019 EP Everflame, which was about the band’s fight against the dark. Produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Yarne Heylen at Project Zero Studio and displaying a beautiful artwork by Gogo Melone, Obscura tells the story of the band finishing their duty with the Everflame and returning to a life of freedom, and finding a different world than the one they left behind, presenting noticeable influences from Symphonic Metal bands such as Nightwish, Epica and Xandria while at the same time the theatricality of big composers such as Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, all meticulously crafted by frontwoman Elyn Vandenwyngaert, guitarist Yannick Maris, bassist Laurens Vandebroek and drummer Ties Jehoul.

The clock is ticking in the intro Aperture, inviting us all to join Gallia in their cinematic, metallic journey to the sound of the heavy and melodic Return of Time, already starting in full force to the massive drums by Ties in a beyond thrilling exhibit of modern-day Symphonic Metal, with Elyn stealing the spotlight with her powerful voice. The fantastic Blackout Queen feels like the soundtrack to an epic movie, with Laurens kicking some serious ass armed with his thunderous bass while Yannick brings sheer Heavy Metal awesomeness to the sound through his sharp riffs, flowing into the whimsical Mirage, starting in an enfolding way to the sound of the piano before evolving into a very theatrical composition where Ties pounds his drums in a classy manner. Then an eerie, wicked intro suddenly morphs into another Metal Opera titled Reflection, showcasing the incendiary riffs by Yannick intertwined with a dark and beautiful vocal performance by Elyn; whereas Path of the Nomad is even more imposing, epic and dense than its predecessors, bringing forward an amazing job done by all band members and consequently taking the song to a whole new level of magic, with of course Elyn being flawless on vocals.

Then adding elements from Folk Metal to their core sonority, the band delivers the symphonic interlude Free Me, setting the stage for Spirit of the Sea, showcasing a catchy chorus (“Spirit of the Sea, hear my plea, hear my plea / The balance of my life lies in the hands of thee / You decide my destiny / Hear my plea, oh Spirit of the Sea / Let me return to land and tree / I call to you: let me be free”) and a mesmerizing pace and atmosphere; whereas guided by the classic, hammering drums by Ties the band offers our ears the also melodic and vibrant Chaos, with its background elements sounding absolutely majestic. In Euphoria we’re treated to poetic lyrics declaimed by Elyn (“The road is long / but our destiny is straight ahead / We march in faith and think of lands / that we have left”) amidst a multi-layered, melodic Symphonic Metal feast, and their second to last lecture in symphony and heavy music comes in the form of Tears of Gold, presenting over seven minutes of dark passages, rumbling bass lines and crushing riffs. Lastly, it’s time for Eryn to shine on vocals one final time in the stunning ballad New World, growing in intensity to the stylish riffs by Yannick until reaching a climatic, ethereal finale.

In summary, Obscura is one of those musical voyages that make Symphonic Metal so interesting and thrilling, thanks of course to the extreme focus and hard work invested in the making of the album by the talented members of Gallia, positioning them as one of the must-listen names of the current scene. Having said that, in order to support Elyn and the boys and fuel their inner fire to keep delivering first-class music to all of us, let’s all follow them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and so on, subscribe to their official YouTube channel and stream more of their music on Spotify, and of course grab a copy of Obscura from the band’s own BandCamp page sooner than you can say “Cinematic Metal”. Heavy music cannot get any more theatrical than what Gallia have to offer us in their new album, leaving us eager for the next chapter in their promising path of heavy music infused with a huge dosage of fantasy.

Best moments of the album: Blackout Queen, Path of the Nomad and Chaos.

Worst moments of the album: Mirage.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Aperture 1:19
2. Return of Time 4:44
3. Blackout Queen 3:34
4. Mirage 4:42
5. Reflection 5:05
6. Path of the Nomad 4:13
7. Free Me 2:35
8. Spirit of the Sea 4:04
9. Chaos 4:21
10. Euphoria 4:13
11. Tears of Gold 7:32
12. New World 5:13

Band members
Elyn Vandenwyngaert – vocals
Yannick Maris – guitars
Laurens Vandebroek – bass
Ties Jehoul – drums

Album Review – Bathsheba / Servus (2017)

From the depths of the black charcoal mountains rises a new Occult Doom Metal entity, bringing endless sadness, pain and anguish with their first full-length opus.

From the depths of the black charcoal mountains rises Bathsheba, an unholy gathering of four talented musicians hailing from Genk, a city located in the Belgian province of Limburg, aiming at spreading grief and agony all over the world with their first full-length opus, the excellent Servus. Portraying a biblical name and fronted by the stunning she-devil Michelle Nocon (Serpentcult, Leviathan Speaks, Death Penalty), this distinct quartet formed in 2013 brings forth an occult version of Doom Metal intensified by elements from Sludge and Black Metal, resulting in a blackened feast of atmospheric and schizophrenic sounds.

The mystical frontwoman Michelle, together with guitarist Dwight Goossens (Disinterred), bassist Raf Meukens (Death Penalty, Torturerama) and drummer Jelle Stevens (Sardonis), released a demo  tape in October 2014 and shortly after signed to Svart Records, releasing an EP titled The Sleepless Gods in May 2015, which then led the band to participate in important underground festivals such as Doom Over London, DesertFest, Incubate, Dutch Doom Days and Doomed Gatherings. However, it’s with Servus, which features a stylish artwork by Olivier Lomer-Wilbers (Dissolvtion), that the band has reached a new level of wickedness, offering the listener six complex and peculiar songs about struggle, sadness, constant threat and distortion of the mind. In other words, Bathsheba will drag you into the horror of existence under the crushing weight of reality with the doomed music found in Servus.

Somber words work as an intro to the sluggish and obscure tune Conjuration of Fire, with the slow, dirty rhythm carved by Dwight, Raf and Jelle opening the gates of hell for the she-demon Michelle to start mesmerizing us by declaiming the song’s poetic lyrics (“Art of chaos / come over me / I wander endlessly / Are you the One / the One for me / Divided in Earth and Sea”). Furthermore, the second part of the song gets beautifully heavier and more diabolical, turning it into a modern-day witchcraft hymn. Like a tenebrous tempest, Bathsheba come crushing our souls in the boisterous Ain Soph, displaying old school doomed beats by Jelle and whimsical guitars by Dwight. Michelle delivers some deeper, darker vocal lines, while a saxophone creates a gripping paradox with the song’s more extreme Black Metal-inspired sounds. And the somber aura present in both previous songs continues to penetrate our skin in Manifest, where an atmospheric background and the smooth voice by Michelle are slowly joined by the other instruments until the music reaches a fierce Doom Metal stage bursting with melancholy and heaviness. Put differently, this excellent composition will offer you 10 minutes of hopelessness emanating from its sharp riffs, flammable solos and those potent and steady beats only found in old school Doom Metal.

Wandering through a desolated field, Bathsheba fire Demon 13, an awesome Doom and Sludge Metal chant with a demonic vibe showcasing a growing excruciating pain through the rumbling roar by Raf’s bass guitar and the pounding drums by Jelle, with Michelle sounding more menacing and pleasant and the same time. Inspired by the most obscure creations by Black Sabbath, Dwight brings tons of feeling to the music in the slow-paced and melodic composition The Sleepless Gods, while Michelle becomes some sort of enchantress through her vocals; and if you love truly dark sounds, I, at the End of Everything will certainly please your ears, being like a tribal version of Doom Metal displaying Stygian guitar lines in sync with Jelle’s rhythmic beats, not to mention the song’s conjuring lyrics (“And by the virtue of the Highest One / I command Thee / To perfect the Creation / Make me myself again / Universe tremble again / You who is worthy of all praise”). After this song is over, I bet you’ll go back to the beginning of Servus again and again so addictive Michelle’s performance is throughout the entire album, proving how gripping the music by Bathsheba can be.

Servus is already on sale at several locations, such as Bathsheba’s BandCamp or Big Cartel in different formats (CD, LP, CD + shirt package and LP + shirt package), at the Svart Records’ webstore, at Record Shop X, at Discogs, on iTunes or on Amazon. This, my friends, is the sorrowful and eldritch world crafted by this dark entity called Bathsheba, an obscure land where although happiness and peace are not welcome, we’ll indubitably enjoy living in its shadows.

Best moments of the album: Conjuration of Fire and Demon 13.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Svart Records

Track listing
1. Conjuration of Fire 7:34
2. Ain Soph 5:42
3. Manifest 10:33
4. Demon 13 5:45
5. The Sleepless Gods 7:14
6. I, at the End of Everything 8:25

Band members
Michelle Nocon – vocals
Dwight Goossens – guitars
Raf Meukens – bass
Jelle Stevens – drums