Concert Review – The Bay Strikes Back Tour (London Music Hall, London, ON, 10/01/2022)

And the Bay struck back in the city of London, Ontario for the delight of all Thrash Metal lovers slamming into the pit on a completely sold-out night.

INTRO: The Bay Strikes Back Tour 2022

Featuring Bay Area Thrash Metal icons DEATH ANGEL, EXODUS and TESTAMENT, the fantastic party labeled The Bay Strikes Back Tour 2022 actually started back in Europe in February 2020, but only lasted for two months due to all COVID-19 restrictions at that time. However, in 2022 the three bands got back in action with the first leg of a North American tour in April and May, another European leg in the summer, and now a second North American leg this fall, including the sold out, majestic thrashing night on October 1 at the London Music Hall in London, Ontario, here in Canada. The place was jam packed from the very first second the doors opened at 6pm, and that was the landscape until Testament closed the night already past 11pm, requiring a lot of stamina, headbanging and moshing from the fans lucky enough to get a ticket for such unique night of pure Thrash Metal.

DEATH ANGEL

Precisely at 6:50pm, and with the merch lines still being huge (which caused several fans to miss part of the concert), San Francisco, California’s own Thrash Metal squad DEATH ANGEL kicked off the night on a high note, blending old school tunes the likes of Mistress of Pain and Voracious Souls with newest hits such as The Moth and Humanicide, from their latest effort Humanicide, released in 2019. Mark Osegueda was on fire throughout the entire concert, showcasing an amazing vocal performance while his bandmates made sure there was plenty of heaviness and speed for the fans at the London Music Hall to get into the circle pits. It was really cool to see bassist Damien Sisson sporting a Toronto Raptors jersey, and of course seeing how much Canadians love Death Angel. Right after they finished playing the closing tune, the excellent Thrown to the Wolves, it became obvious that their setlist was way too short, but I’m sure the band will be back for a full-bodied, ass-kicking performance sooner than we can say “Thrash Metal”.

Setlist
The Ultra-Violence / Mistress of Pain
Voracious Souls
Seemingly Endless Time
The Dream Calls for Blood
Caster of Shame
The Moth
Humanicide
Thrown to the Wolves

Band members
Mark Osegueda – vocals
Rob Cavestany – guitar
Ted Aguilar – guitar
Damien Sisson – bass
Will Carroll – drums

EXODUS

After a quick bathroom/beer/merch break, all fans at the venue got in their desired positions for the fulminating Thrash Metal attack by the one and only EXODUS, and it was indeed a killer lesson in violence. Steve “Zetro” Souza, Gary Holt, Lee Altus, Jack Gibson and Tom Hunting felt at home in London, crushing everything and everyone that crossed their path during their high-octane, heavy-as-hell performance, and consequently putting a huge smile on the faces of everyone at the venue. Promoting their sensational 2021 opus Persona Non Grata, the band delivered endless adrenaline in a setlist that beautifully mixed new songs like The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves) and The Years of Death and Dying with old school thrashing classics including A Lesson in Violence, Blacklist and Bonded by Blood. Zetro and Gary were insane on stage the whole time, while their fans were simply slamming into the pit like there’s no tomorrow. Close to the end of the show, before they played the electrifying The Toxic Waltz, Zetro thanked everyone at the venue for an amazing sold-out night and thanked security for the excellent job done in keeping everyone safe during the concerts, while a Canadian flag with the Exodus logo was shining bright behind the drums, and Gary made a tear of pure joy fall from everyone’s faces when he played a snippet from Slayer’s undisputed classic “Raining Blood”. We need Slayer back. Anyway, as usual they ended the concert with Strike of the Beast, or maybe I should say STRIKE OF THE FUCKIN’ BEAST, with a promise Exodus will soon return to Canadian lands for another lesson in violence.

Setlist
The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)
A Lesson in Violence
Blood In, Blood Out
The Years of Death and Dying
Deathamphetamine
Blacklist
Piranha
Prescribing Horror
Bonded by Blood
The Toxic Waltz
Strike of the Beast

Band members
Steve “Zetro” Souza – vocals
Gary Holt – lead and rhythm guitars
Lee Altus – lead and rhythm guitars
Jack Gibson – bass
Tom Hunting – drums, percussion

TESTAMENT

It took a little longer for Oakland, California-based Thrash Metal titans TESTAMENT to hit the stage at the London Music Hall, more specifically at 9:30pm, but I must say the wait was totally worth it as Chuck Billy and his crew masterfully blasted our hearts and souls with their very technical, infernal and thrilling Thrash Metal. It didn’t matter if they played newer songs like Rise Up, The Pale King and WWIII, or thrashing classics the likes of Practice What You Preach and First Strike Is Deadly, the crowd went mental into the circle pit, inspiring the whole band to play even faster and heavier than usual. The new songs from their 2020 album Titans Of Creation sounded fantastic live, but it was the old school stuff that set endless fire to the pit. I have to say that D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate), Electric Crown and The Formation of Damnation might be three of the finest Thrash Metal anthems of all time, and if you add to that the sensational way Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick slashed their axes, the rumbling bass by Steve Di Giorgio, and of course the unparalleled drums by Mr. Dave Lombardo, who received perhaps the most heartwarming ovation from the crowd from all bands, there you have the cream of thrash served on a plate of pure gold to their Canadian fans. Chuck Billy was having an amazing time, being extremely happy with the reaction of the crowd before Native Blood when he mentioned the importance of the day before the show, September 30, to all indigenous people due to the National Truth and Reconciliation Day in Canada, and pretending he was “brewing” pure Thrash Metal in the giant “casserole” known as the floor section while fans were in a devastating mode during Into the Pit, among a few nice stories he told in between songs. Everyone left the London Music Hall extremely satisfied with the whole night, in special with the ass-kicking performance by Testament, and it won’t take long for them to return to Canada to blast our ears once again as long as we always practice what we preach.

Setlist
Rise Up
The New Order
The Pale King
Children of the Next Level
Practice What You Preach
WWIII
D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
Native Blood
Night of the Witch
Electric Crown
The Formation of Damnation
First Strike Is Deadly
Into the Pit
Alone in the Dark

Band members
Chuck Billy – vocals
Eric Peterson – guitar
Alex Skolnick – guitar
Steve Di Giorgio – bass
Dave Lombardo – drums

Album Review – De Profundis / The Corruption of Virtue (2022)

This unrelenting London, UK-based Death Metal entity will corrupt us all to the sound of their most intense, aggressive and challenging release to date.

Most bands mellow with age, but that’s not the case with London, UK-based Death Metal entity De Profundis. Nearly two decades since their inception, the band currently comprised of Craig Land on vocals, Shoi Sen and Paul Nazarkardeh (both of Monument of Misanthropy) on the guitars, Steve Woodcock on bass and Tom Atherton on drums has only evolved to become more and more extreme with each album, their latest probably being their most intense, aggressive and challenging release to date, entitled The Corruption of Virtue, the follow-up to their 2018 critically acclaimed album The Blinding Light of Faith. Produced by Peter Dowsett and displaying a sick artwork by Alex Tartsus (Depravity, Sepulchral Curse), The Corruption of Virtue is an absolute treat for any fan of Death Metal who likes the music to be demanding, engrossing and well thought out, being therefore highly recommended for lovers of bands such as Death, At The Gates, Carcass and Martyr, among several others.

The quintet wastes no time and begin their Progressive Death Metal attack in Ritual Cannibalism, where Craig sounds awesomely gruesome on vocals supported by Shoi and Paul’s acid riffage, not to mention the demolishing beats by Tom; whereas Sectarian Warfare is even more devastating than the opening tune, with Shoi and Paul being simply flawless armed with their stringed axes while Steve and Tom make the earth tremble with their respective bass and drums in a lecture in Death Metal. Then the low-tuned, rumbling bass by Steve will crawl deep inside your mind in the venomous Relentless March, the perfect fusion of brutality and intricacy, with Craig sounding like a creature from the abyss; and it’s time to slam into the circle pit like a headbanging bastard to the sound of Weaponised Rape, where their progressive vein gets even stronger spearheaded by the unstoppable blast beats by Tom.

Sick guitar riffs and solos spiced up by endless violence and dementia are the main ingredients in the multi-layered Death Metal feast Embrace Dystopia, simply infernal from start to finish, and more of their undisputed Death Metal is offered to us all in Desecrating Innocence, with Craig vociferating rabidly in the name of evil, blasphemy and rage. In Religious Cancer we face three minutes of vicious, thunderous sounds blasted by De Profundis where the guitar solos by Shoi and Paul sound as sharp as a knife, always supported by the metallic bass by Steve. Following such demented tune, another round of their obscure but extremely melodic and technical music is offered to us all in Scapegoat, showcasing a great job done by the band’s guitar duo while Tom hammers his drums mercilessly. Lastly, we’re treated to another solid composition titled The Sword Verses, and albeit it lacks a little of the violence from the rest of the album we can still enjoy Craig barking in great fashion as usual.

As already mentioned, De Profundis are far from slowing down or mellowing as the years go by; quite the contrary, in their vicious new opus The Corruption of Virtue they keep growing as a Death Metal beast, and if you want to show your total admiration and respect for those British death metallers you can start following them on Facebook and on Instagram, stream more of their infernal music on Spotify, and of course purchase a copy of the caustic The Corruption of Virtue from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Transcending Obscurity Records webstore as a CD or as a gatefold LP with metallic effect and UV lamination by clicking HERE or HERE. It’s not easy at all to sound even more brutal than usual with each album released, but if the band in question is De Profundis let’s say that their new album proves that’s just another regular day in their undisputed career.

Best moments of the album: Sectarian Warfare, Desecrating Innocence and Scapegoat.

Worst moments of the album: The Sword Verses.

Released in 2022 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Ritual Cannibalism 3:34
2. Sectarian Warfare 4:09
3. Relentless March 4:47
4. Weaponised Rape 4:08
5. Embrace Dystopia 4:35
6. Desecrating Innocence 4:55
7. Religious Cancer 3:20
8. Scapegoat 4:03
9. The Sword Verses 4:59

Band members
Craig Land – vocals
Shoi Sen – guitars
Paul Nazarkardeh – guitars
Steve Woodcock – bass
Tom Atherton – drums

Album Review – Cage Fight / Cage Fight (2022)

It’s time to get into a bloodsoaked cage fight to the sound of the thrilling debut album by an up-and-coming London, UK-based Hardcore outfit.

Featuring the stunning French vocalist Rachel Aspe, known for her time with the iconic French Neo-Metal act Eths, and TesseracT guitarist James Monteith, London, England-based Crossover/Hardcore unity Cage Fight have just unleashed upon us mere mortals their debut self-titled effort, one of the most furious records to emerge from the UK in years. The anger and frustration of the band’s debut album is the perfect catharsis for our times, not only showcasing all the talent of the aforementioned Rachel and James together with bassist Jon Reid and drummer Nick Plews, but the artwork itself, a grabbing hand with the Cage Fight logo tattooed on the palm, visually portrays the violent rage at the core of the band’s music. Legitimately tattooed by Rachel, a tattoo artist by trade, the process of creating the image is as impactful as the final artwork itself, giving you a very good idea of how ruthless and austere the album sounds. “I cherish the ability to channel my anger through this outlet. In a world full of uncertainty and frustration this type of music was the only thing I found solace and balance in. These songs have a deep meaning for me and I hope this is something that other people can relate to,” commented the multi-talented Rachel about such outstanding album.

Featuring Jeremy Sylvester, a highly influential and prolific Garage and House producer from the UK, the album begins with a modern, electronic Intro that sets the stage for The Mirror Shattered, a bestial Hardcore tune with Punk Rock elements led by the venomous guitars by James while Rachel roars manically, therefore living up to the legacy of bands such as The Exploited and Ratos de Porão. There’s no time to breathe as Nick keeps hammering his drums in Killer, another excellent composition showcasing a high-octane fusion of Crossover Thrash and Groove Metal where once again James is infernal armed with his axe. Rachel sounds possessed by a demonic entity throughout the entire album, and it couldn’t have been any different than that in the awesome Hope Castrated, a massive, in-your-face Hardcore feast where Jon’s rumbling bass and Nick’s furious beats will make your head tremble, and it’s then time to slam into the pit and raise our horns in the name of rebelliousness and rage in Make A Decision, absolutely fast and furious thanks to another flawless performance by Nick on drums while Rachel showcases her trademark she-demon screams for our total delight. Their Punk Rock vein pulses stronger than ever in Guillotine, with the slashing, piercing riffs by James walking hand in hand with the bass punches by Jon, not to mention Rachel even fires some gruesome, vile Brutal Death Metal screeches.

The MMA entrance-inspired interlude Cage Fight! warms us up for the metal battle entitled Shine Don’t Fade, sounding and feeling pulverizing from the very first second thanks to the dynamic and evil sounds blasted by James, Jon and Nick, perfect for breaking your neck headbanging; whereas in One Minute the quartet plays at the speed of light in a great hybrid of classic Thrash Metal the likes of Anthrax with the more ferocious music by Lamb of God. In Tell Me What Real Is, less visceral but still heavy-as-hell, dense and demonic, Rachel keeps screaming inside our heads while her bandmates extract sheer animosity form their sonic weapons, whereas in Respect Ends there’s absolutely no sign of tiredness by the band, with James once again kicking ass with his riffage while Rachel delivers an insane dosage of animosity through her growls. Then we have Eating Me Alive, featuring guest vocalist Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder), who sadly died on May 11 at the very early age of 41, bringing an extra touch of violence to the overall result by making an awesome vocal duo with Rachel; followed by My Dreams, which starts in a somber manner before exploding into the band’s modern-day Crossover Thrash. Moreover, Rachel leads her henchmen for over six minutes of aggressiveness, dementia and fury. And lastly we’re treated to their cover version for Body Count’s Bitch In The Pit (check the original song HERE), a sensational rendition by Cage Fight with Rachel stealing the spotlight with her enraged, she-wolf roars, turning her into the undisputed “bitch in the pit”.

In a nutshell, Cage Fight more than nailed it with their debut opus, providing us headbangers with a very good reason for raising our horns nonstop and slamming into the circle pit like there’s no tomorrow. Hence, don’t forget to stream the album in full on Spotify, to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates (and believe me, you don’t want to miss their live performances if they take your city by storm), and of course, to purchase your favorite version of such intense album of European Hardcore by clicking HERE. As you might have noticed, Rachel, James, Jon and Nick are waiting for you inside the cage for an ass-kicking metal fight to the sound of their debut opus, but you better be prepared to have your ass kicked in the name of Hardcore and Thrash Metal, of course.

Best moments of the album: The Mirror Shattered, Hope Castrated, Guillotine and Bitch In The Pit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Candlelight Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:25
2. The Mirror Shattered 2:34
3. Killer 3:17
4. Hope Castrated 2:54
5. Make A Decision 3:15
6. Guillotine 2:32
7. Cage Fight! 0:58
8. Shine Don’t Fade 3:15
9. One Minute 4:04
10. Tell Me What Real Is 3:18
11. Respect Ends 3:03
12. Eating Me Alive 3:37
13. My Dreams 6:16
14. Bitch In The Pit (Body Count cover) 3:05

Band members
Rachel Aspe – vocals
James Monteith – guitar
Jon Reid – bass
Nick Plews – drums

Guest musicians
Jeremy Sylvester – samplers on “Intro”
Trevor Strnad – vocals on “Eating Me Alive”

Album Review – Gorebringer / Terrified Beyond Measure (2022)

Behold the sophomore opus by an international entity that’s back from the underworld, offering us more of their blackened yet technical Melodic Death Metal with gory themes.

Almost three years after the release of their debut effort A Craving For Flesh, the infernal, multi-national outfit known as Gorebringer is back with more of their Melodic Death Metal with gory themes in the form of their sophomore album, entitled Terrified Beyond Measure. Produced by the band itself, mixed and mastered at Tide Studio in London, England, and displaying an old school cover art by Delic Saike, Terrified Beyond Measure represents a step forward in the band’s career, currently comprised of Serpent on vocals, Kaz “Stench” B on guitars and bass, and guests Krzysztof Klingbein on drums and Burak Ulugüney on keyboards and synths, showcasing an “evilution” in their slightly blackened and somewhat technical sound, but melodic and yet dirty at the same time, being therefore recommended for fans of At The Gates, Death and Dissection, among several others.

Arising from the underworld, the quartet begins blasting their instruments with sheer violence and hatred in The Bottomless Pit, where Serpent sounds beyond bestial on vocals supported by the pulverizing drums by Krzysztof, or in other words, a perfect and devilish way to kick things off; whereas keeping the level of adrenaline extremely high it’s time for Man To Beast, another high-octane, pulverizing feast where Stench is on fire armed with his sharp riffage and rumbling bass lines, while Burak keeps the atmosphere as grim as possible with his spot-on keys and synths. Then we have the title-track Terrified Beyond Measure, bringing to our ears a full-bodied sonority alternating between galloping drums and bass and pure dementia with Serpent roaring manically nonstop, and like a stone crusher from hell Krzysztof will demolish our senses in The Evil Ones, providing Stench all he needs to slash our ears off with his beyond strident guitar lines in a lecture in contemporary Melodic Death Metal with a visceral Black Metal twist.

The instrumental interlude Moon Circle sets the stage for the band to demolish our senses once again with A Blackened Circle, an Arch Enemy/In Flames/Soilwork-inspired extravaganza showcasing piercing riffs, pounding drums and the always venomous gnarls by Serpent. It’s indeed a solid and entertaining tune albeit losing some of its punch after a while, though, whereas Necro Mess is a thrilling instrumental creation by Gorebringer where Stench delivers an amazing performance on the guitar supported by the blast beats by Krzysztof, resulting in a sonic hurricane that will please all fans of the genre and generate intense mosh pits if played live one day. Finally, closing such infernal album of Melodic Death Metal we have Flesh Feast, sounding fast and furious just the way we like it with Serpent’s growls making a brutal paradox with the crisp, melodic guitars by Stench, leaving us eager for more of their music in a not-so-distant future.

As aforementioned, the pulverizing Terrified Beyond Measure, which is by the way available in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, represents a huge improvement in the sound by Gorebringer, and you can put your dirty hands on that album by purchasing it from the Great Dane Records’ BandCamp page or from Apple Music. Don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, keeping in mind that gore is their business (and business is good), which means unless you have what it takes to face their evil Melodic Death Metal, you’ll become an easy prey to them.

Best moments of the album: The Bottomless Pit, The Evil Ones and Necro Mess.

Worst moments of the album: A Blackened Circle.

Released in 2022 Great Dane Records

Track listing
1. The Bottomless Pit 4:06
2. Man To Beast 4:49
3. Terrified Beyond Measure 5:49
4. The Evil Ones 4:25
5. Moon Circle 0:59
6. A Blackened Circle 4:47
7. Necro Mess 3:38
8. Flesh Feast 5:45

Band members
Serpent – vocals
Kaz “Stench” B – guitars, bass

Guest musicians
Krzysztof Klingbein – drums
Burak Ulugüney – keyboards, synths

Album Review – Eight Lives Down / Humans (2020)

Four distinct musicians from four different countries united in the name of metal, bringing to us all a truly unique sound, unmistakably heavy and angry, yet refreshingly different and unpredictable.

Originally founded by Greek-Kiwi vocalist and lyricist Aliki Katriou in 2016 together with British guitarist James Scott (replaced by French guitarist Paul Allain in 2017), bassist Marcin Orczyk from Poland, and Brazilian drummer Rodrigo Moraes Cruz, London, UK-based Extreme Metal act Eight Lives Down has its roots in Groove and Thrash Metal, but constantly branches out stylistically incorporating influences from Progressive, Death and Black Metal, as well as various other musical genres such as Punk Rock, Blues, and traditional folk music, while vocals range from low growls and high screams to clean and even operatic phrases, creating a truly unique sound, unmistakably heavy and angry, yet refreshingly different and unpredictable. Now in 2020 the quartet is ready to invade our senses with their debut full-length opus, entitled Humans, showcasing all their versatility, dynamism, creativity and rage, all enhanced by the album’s top-notch mixing and mastering done by Dan Baune at Noise Foundry Productions, while embraced by a modern, stylish artwork by Dylan Sutton.

The blazing guitar riffs by Paul kick off the sick and groovy Opening Shots, bringing forward a fusion of Melodic Death Metal with more modern and alternative styles, with Aliki growling like a true she-demon for our total delight, followed by Misguided, where the metallic bass jabs by Marcin will hit you in the face while Aliki blasts her wicked mix of clean vocals and harsh gnarls, leaning towards contemporary Thrash and Groove Metal while Rodrigo dictates the pace with his classy beats. Then the mesmerizing vocalizations by Aliki accompanied by tribalistic sounds and tones ignite the heavy and experimental Angela, with Paul, Marcin and Rodrigo bringing sheer progressiveness to the music with their refined techniques, whereas From The Cradle is a lot more introspective, grim and atmospheric than its predecessors, starting in a semi-acoustic manner while Aliki declaims the song’s dark lyrics, sounding at the same time like a 90’s Groove and Funk Metal tune and a modern-day thrashing tune, something a wicked band like Faith No More would definitely do.

More of their rumbling sounds permeate the air in the also heavy and furious Sacrifice, a lecture in Groove Metal by Eight Lives Down where Aliki’s roars get deeper and more enraged while Rodrigo sounds pulverizing on drums, supported by Marcin’s menacing bass; and in Organize Your Mind the quartet offers us all a hybrid of the rebelliousness of Alternative Metal with the intricacy of Progressive Metal, with Paul being on absolute fire with his demented riffage, while also presenting interesting atmospheric passages and endless heaviness. After that it’s time to break our necks headbanging together with Aliki and the boys in Colder, adding hints of Heavy Rock to their already crushing sonority while Paul and Marcin have a fun duel with their strident riffs and solos and low-tuned bass punches, respectively. Lastly, you better get ready for nine minutes of introspection, groove and heaviness in the form of Why, starting in a serene way with Aliki declaiming the song’s cryptic words, evolving into a thunderous metal feast led by Rodrigo’s visceral beats, not to mention the incendiary solos by Paul as the icing on the cake.

This precious gem of Extreme and Experimental Metal can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube, but of course in order to show your support to Aliki and her loyal henchmen you should definitely buy a copy of Humans from their own BandCamp page, from their webstore or from Amazon, as well as follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about such up-and-coming metal band, and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their idiosyncratic creations. It will certainly be more than just interesting to see what the future holds for Eight Lives Down with their upcoming releases, if they’ll keep experimenting like crazy or if they’ll set a defined shape and style for their music. Until then, while we wait for the creative mind of Aliki to provide us more insanity in the form of music, we can keep banging our heads nonstop to Humans, by far one of the best alternative albums of the year.

Best moments of the album: Opening Shots and Sacrifice.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Cult Of Parthenope

Track listing
1. Opening Shots 3:50
2. Misguided 4:01
3. Angela 3:56
4. From The Cradle 7:40
5. Sacrifice 3:52
6. Organize Your Mind 4:21
7. Colder 4:20
8. Why 9:02

Band members
Aliki Katriou – vocals
Paul Allain – guitar
Marcin Orczyk – bass
Rodrigo Moraes Cruz – drums

Album Review – Grimgotts / Sagas EP (2020)

A UK-based Symphonic Power Metal squad continues to chronicle the epic battles between men and dragons on the high seas of Andria in the second part of their new trilogy.

Fans of Rhapsody of Fire, Dragonforce, Sonata Arctica and Alestorm will be signing up to set sail with London, UK-based Symphonic Power Metal band Grimgotts with their brand new EP entitled Sagas, the second part of a trilogy that started earlier this year with the release of the EP Tales, and that will see its epic conclusion later in 2020 with the third EP Legends. Sagas continues to chronicle the epic battles between men and dragons on the high seas of the mythical land of Andria, which is by the way the band’s own original fantasy realm, just like what was told in the first EP of the trilogy and in their previous releases Lions of the Sea (2017) and Dragons of the Ages (2019), proving the band formed by frontman Andy Barton, guitarist David Hills, keyboardist Fabio Garau, bassist Nelson Moreira and drummer Mo Abdelgadir definitely know how to unite fantasy and heavy music with tons of symphonic and epicness flawlessly for the delight of metal fans across the seven seas (and beyond).

It’s time to sail together with the pirates from Grimgotts in the opening tune Northern Passage, a symphonic and epic feast led by the inspiring keys by Fabio and the always precise beats by Mo, while Andy declaims the song’s lyrics like a true bard. Put differently, simply grab your sword and join the band in their quest for metal, whereas the strident riffage by David ignites the even more metallic Power Metal tune Rise Again, accompanied by the rumbling bass by Nelson and the awesome balance between Andy’s vocal lines and Fabio’s magical keyboards, definitely making your day more exciting and fun. Then we have Plunder, Loot & Chantey, an absolutely perfect soundtrack for prancing around the fire while drinking a pint of mead, or if you prefer a more “technical” language, this is a very entertaining fusion of Symphonic Power Metal with Folk and Epic Metal, with Mo dictating the pace with his classic beats. And lastly, the band offers the faster and more traditional title-track Sagas, another great option for banging your heads with Grimgotts, with David and Fabio making an incendiary duo with their respective riffs and keys while Andy showcases all his talent as the band’s frontman, leaving us eager for the last EP of their trilogy in a not-so-distant future.

It feels like Grimgotts are following a treasure map with Tales, Sagas and Legends, with each EP and each song being a different adventure the listener needs to face before reaching the glorious end of the trilogy, and let’s all admit their formula is working really well, making us all excited and ready for their next challenge. Hence, don’t forget to follow those UK metallers on Facebook and on Instagram, to listen to more of their music on Spotify, and to grab your copy of Sagas (sooner than you can scream “ahoy!”) and all of their previous albums from their own BandCamp page, showing them your true support and proving you have what it takes to sail the unruly seas of Andria together with the boys from Grimgotts, spending your time signing metal anthems while drinking beer and raising your swords until the end of their exciting saga.

Best moments of the album: Rise Again and Plunder, Loot & Chantey.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Northern Passage 4:18
2. Rise Again 6:52
3. Plunder, Loot & Chantey 3:43
4. Sagas 4:06

Band members
Andy Barton – lead vocals
David Hills – guitars
Fabio Garau – keyboards
Nelson Moreira – bass
Mo Abdelgadir – drums

Album Review – Tableau Mort / Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion (2019)

A spiritual journey exploring humanity’s fixation with knowledge, sacrifice and perfection in the form of atmospheric and emotional Black Metal.

Drawing on symbolic and thematic influences from Romanian Orthodox Christianity, Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion, the debut album by British Black Metal horde Tableau Mort, is a spiritual journey exploring humanity’s fixation with knowledge, sacrifice and perfection, which is often a path to madness. Recorded and produced by Jerry Sadowski and George Topor, mixed and mastered by Neil Haynes at Parlour Studios, and featuring a beyond obscure artwork by Alex Shadrin (Nether Temple Design), Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion will bring to your ears a truly atmospheric and emotional sound that is both melodic and melancholic, also mixing Orthodox chanting with frenzied screams to expand on the band’s macabre foundations.

Formed in 2017 in London, the band comprised of veteran musicians of the underground scene (all of Romanian origin), those being James Andrews on lead vocals, George Topor on the guitar, keys and backing vocals, Cristian Giurgiu also on the guitar, Marek Basista on bass and George Bratosin on drums and backing vocals, might describe themselves as a Black Metal band, but there are in fact a lot more aspects and layers to their sound, resulting in the modern and powerful music found in Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion. Not only that, the band also invests heavily on their onstage performance and attire, proving those servants of the dark are more than prepared to spread their blasphemous message all over the world no matter who their enemies are.

Darkness is already upon us in the melodic and boisterous opening track Impending Corruption, where atmospheric keys complement the slashing riffs by George Topor and Cristian while James leads the horde with his fiendish gnarls and screeches. After such ominous start it’s time for Fall of Man and its darkly poetic lyrics (“And I find in your face, a most unfamiliar maze / I gaze at the sky as the colour bleeds out of space / In this moment of grief I light myself ablaze”), a Black Metal mass with hints of classic Blackened Doom (which obviously makes it even more menacing) where George Bratosin sounds extremely precise and brutal at the same time on drums. And it seems Tableau Mort want to get darker and darker as the album progresses, just like what we’re able to witness in Carpenter Of Sorrow, with Marek’s low-tune, devilish bass lines building a thunderous base for James to thrive with his unearthly roars; whereas Broken On The Wheel is a sonic mass of Stygian and venomous sounds where George Topor and Cristian are absolutely infernal with their guitars, while George Bratosin alternates between blast beats and doomed, intricate passages for our vulgar delectation.

Leaning towards classic Norwegian Black Metal, the band offers us an explosion of the most aggressive and obscure sounds you can think of in Tapestry Sewn, where James and George Bratosin sound utterly demonic on vocals and drums, respectively, and also bringing the most obscure elements from old school Doom Metal, therefore being prohibited for the lighthearted.  The band’s guitar duo keep crushing their sulfurous strings in Mother’s Promise while Marek and George Bratosin make the earth tremble with their weapons, inspiring us all to bang our heads and raise our horns to this ode to all things evil. Last but not least, a gargantuan amount of heaviness flows from all instruments in Beyond His Gaze, reeking of despair and insanity and showcasing captivating, poetic lyrics (“In Every blade of grass that shoots from the ground / The animals that graze, the parasites that feed / The rays of the sun that penetrate the darkness / The breeze that carries the rain”). Furthermore, the beyond demonic growling by James adds an extra touch of malignancy to this devilish aria, putting a climatic ending to such astounding album.

Tableau Mort’s lecture in Romanian Orthodox Christianity in the form of somber and disturbing Black Metal can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to those UK metallers simply follow them on Facebook and purchase your copy of Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion from Loud Rage Music’s BandCamp or webstore, as well as from Apple Music, Amazon or Discogs. Tableau Mort are definitely pinning the entire UK on the worldwide map of Black Metal with their music, and based on their skills, passion for heavy music and creativity, they have the potential to become one of the references of the genre in the coming years, leaving their mark already upon humanity with Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion, and leaving us eager for more of their cryptic creations.

Best moments of the album: Fall of Man and Tapestry Sewn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Loud Rage Music

Track listing
1. Impending Corruption 4:32
2. Fall of Man 6:17
3. Carpenter Of Sorrow 4:37
4. Broken On The Wheel 4:55
5. Tapestry Sewn 5:02
6. Mother’s Promise 4:41
7. Beyond His Gaze 6:18

Band members
James Andrews – lead vocals
George Topor – guitar, keys, backing vocals
Cristian Giurgiu – guitar
Marek Basista – bass
George Bratosin – drums, backing vocals

Album Review – Gorebringer / A Craving For Flesh (2019)

A gory fusion of Melodic Death Metal with more extreme styles blasted by a bloodthirsty trio from the UK, eviscerating your ears and minds ruthlessly.

Proudly carrying the flag of Melodic Death Metal everywhere they go, but always venturing through more aggressive and gory lands, London, England-based triumvirate Gorebringer has just unleashed upon us their debut full-length opus entitled A Craving For Flesh, highly recommended for admirers of the fusion of speed, violence and melody blasted by bands like The Black Dahlia Murder and At The Gates. Formed in 2017 by vocalist Blööd Wörm (also known as Gorebringer himself), guitarist and bassist Stench, and drummer Carrion, Gorebringer offer in A Craving For Flesh everything we love in traditional Swedish Melodic Death Metal, but of course with their own British (and utterly putrid) twist. Mixed and mastered by TsunTsun Productions, and featuring a demonic, parasite-inspired artwork by Kumislizer Design, A Craving For Flesh will eviscerate your ears and mind ruthlessly, showing Gorebringer are not among us to make new friends, but instead to pulverize us with their bloodthirsty onrush of sounds.

An ominous intro featuring the dark keys by guest B.ulugüney ignites the demolishing The Fog, where Carrion showcases all his technique and fury from the very first beat while Blööd Wörm’s hellish gnarls sound a lot more Black Metal than Melodic Death Metal, therefore bringing a humongous amount of obscurity to the music. Then deep guttural growls and nonstop blast beats permeate the air in Meatporn, showcasing classic Death Metal-like lyrics (“Rotten breath fills the air / As the eyes rolling back, / Sweat drops on smelly-sexy / Corpse of your beloved one.”), as well as some sick Carcass-inspired riffs and solos and demented bass punches powerfully delivered by Stench; and it’s time to slam into the circle pit to the high-octane and extremely vile Rivers Of Blood, with its strident, metallic guitars adding more balance to the overall devastation brought forth by the trio, resulting in a lesson in modern Melodic Death Metal with a truly devilish vibe.

In My Sweet Knife, a crisp and austere fusion of Melodic and Blackened Death Metal tailored for admirers of the darkest forms of metal music, we’re treated to over four minutes of nonstop action where the vocals by Blööd Wörm overflow adrenaline and rage, whereas in The Cabin a movie-inspired beginning evolves into a to a dark, raw and neck-breaking sonic extravaganza where Carrion is absolutely precise and violent on drums, with the overall musicality flirting with classic Black Metal at times. And back to a more Arch Enemy/Carcass-inspired mode, the trio fires sheer hatred and madness in Shattered Sanity, with Stench continuing to slash his strings mercilessly while the infernal roars by Blööd Wörm get even more piercing and menacing than before.

Bloodsoaked Chapel is a sonic havoc blending the most visceral elements from Melodic Death Metal and modern-day Hardcore where its bass couldn’t sound more metallic, also presenting demented, controversial lyrics (“Oh sodomized slaves of my mine / Stop whining, surrender and have fun / My rage will grow faster, darker / Digging your holes is my absolute pleasure / Your flesh is my most precious toy / Your skin decorates my den perfectly”). After such high level of aggressiveness, the trio slows things down a bit and offers us a darker, more introspective composition titled The Hollow, clearly inspired by the music by Arch Enemy. It’s not that this is a bad song, but in my humble opinion Gorebringer sound a lot more cohesive and vibrant when they play at the speed of light. Lastly, Carrion accelerates the band’s wicked pace in the closing tune, the instrumental beast named The Restless Forest, once again flirting with Melodic Black Metal, while Stench gives a lecture in electricity and groove with his guitar shredding and bass jabs.

I’m pretty sure the guys from Gorebringer are beyond satisfied with the outcome of their collective efforts in A Craving For Flesh (available for a full listen on YouTube), and they definitely should be, as their debut album is indeed an amazing work of contemporary Melodic Death Metal infused with the goriest elements from traditional Death Metal the likes of Cannibal Corpse. Hence, if you want to show your true support to this talented trio from the UK, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, and don’t forget to purchase your copy of A Craving For Flesh from the Gate Of The Silver Key Records’ BandCamp page or from Discogs, helping Gorebringer spread their visceral, acid and absolutely sanguinary creations to the four corner of our rotten and evil world.

Best moments of the album: Meatporn, Rivers Of Blood and Bloodsoaked Chapel.

Worst moments of the album: The Hollow.

Released in 2019 Gate Of The Silver Key Records

Track listing
1. The Fog 5:54
2. Meatporn 3:17
3. Rivers Of Blood 3:46
4. My Sweet Knife 4:34
5. The Cabin 6:29
6. Shattered Sanity 4:42
7. Bloodsoaked Chapel 3:30
8. The Hollow 4:30
9. The Restless Forest 4:41

Band members
Blööd Wörm – vocals
Stench – guitars, bass
Carrion – drums

Guest musician
B.ulugüney – keyboards

Album Review – Grimgotts / Dragons of the Ages (2019)

Set sail and enjoy this concept album about a war between dragons, sea-creatures and men in the form of classic and imposing Symphonic Power Metal.

Formed in the town of Horsham in 2015 by vocalist Andy Barton as a joke parody band at first, British Symphonic Power Metal act Grimgotts initially described themselves as “probably the best Harry Potter themed symphonic power metal band to come out of West Sussex”, having released only one (unofficial) single under that gimmick. Fortunately for us, fans of symphonic metal music, Andy decided to shift the band’s focus to fantasy and nautical themes the following year, and with the help of other musicians Grimgotts released their debut EP entitled Here Be Dragonlords, followed by another EP that same year named Extenditus Playus, the EP Part Man, Part Beast, Part Dragon in early 2017, and the full-length album Lions of the Sea by late 2017 after teaming up with  keyboardist Fabio Garau, guitarist David Hills and bassist James Taylor.

In 2018 Grimgotts solidified their lineup with bassist Nelson Moreira and drummer Mo Abdelgadir, playing at Power Metal Quest Festival and supporting German power metallers Victorius in London, England, inspiring the band to set sail once again in 2019 with the release of their sophomore full-length opus, titled Dragons of the Ages, a concept album about a war between dragons, sea-creatures and men set in the same fictional world of Vale as per the band’s own previous albums. Produced by Alex Loader (Ethereal Sound Studio) and featuring an epic, dragon-infused artwork by Ryan Marter (Arctic Wolf Design), Dragons of the Ages will please most fans of bands like Edguy, Twilight Force, Rhapsody, Alestorm and Sabaton, among others, taking the listener on a vibrant journey to a whimsical land where heavy music is the ultimate soundtrack to epic battles.

The sound of the waves and the symphonic keys by Fabio invite the listener to join Grimgotts in War’s Come to Our Shores, reminding me of the epic and adventurous music played by UK’s own Alestorm, with Andy’s vocals being a mix of Sabaton’s Joakim Brodén’s and Italian icon Fabio Lione’s, also featuring guest Julia Zelg with her beautiful female vocals. After such vibrant welcome card it’s time for The Last Dragon Warriors, where Julia once again helps Andy to declaim the song’s classic Power Metal lyrics (“For every day that we are here / We prepare to take the world / With our ships we can sail to the sun / For years we’ve sat and we’ve decayed / But today with stand as one / A mighty army, hail to the lords”) while David fires some ass-kicking, incendiary solos to add more electricity to the overall result, whereas Ancient Waters sounds and feels even more epic and imposing, inspired by the symphonic music played by acts like Rhapsody of Fire, Blind Guardian and Sabaton, with David’s riffs and Nelson’s rumbling bass dictating its thrilling rhythm.

In War at Dawn Fabio fires strident key notes while Mo pounds and slams his drums with precision and feeling, resulting in a Symphonic Power Metal extravaganza perfect for heading into the battlefield, with Andy telling the story with a lot of passion. Then prance around the fire pit together with your friends to the sound of The King Under the Sea, where David keeps slashing his stringed weapon and Mo keeps smashing his drums nonstop, not to mention the epic vibe generated by Fabio’s keys; and folk-ish elements ignite the metallic feast entitled The Long Road, sounding more progressive than its predecessors but still loyal to the foundations of Symphonic Power Metal. In addition, Nelson and Mo once again shine with their refined techniques. And Turning the Tide, the most Power Metal of all songs, is another battle hymn where David is on fire with his riffs while Mo sounds like a stone crusher on drums, sounding and feeling very melodic, epic and, above all, as fast as good Power Metal should be.

Despite bringing forward fanciful lyrics as its main ingredient (“The Shaman spoke to me / Told me of my destiny / The Northmen march to war / The dragons still can fall / For our great ancient city / Let’s not delay / Pray, we won’t go astray”), Take to the Sea lacks more stamina and strength. It’s still very enjoyable, though, especially if you’re a diehard fan of the genre. Back to a more dense sonority, The Great Shadow is embraced by the crisp keys by Fabio, with Andy delivering high-pitched, tuneful vocal lines the likes of André Mattos (R.I.P.), and with that inspiring vibe going on until the song’s climatic ending, all spiced up by David’s flammable solos. Last but not least, get ready for over eight minutes of folk-like keyboards, galloping beats and bass, electrifying guitars and soaring vocal lines in Here Be Dragonlords, even presenting some deep guttural vocals on the second half of the song while its ending is amazingly epic, melancholic and powerful.

You can listen to Grimgotts’ tribute to the sea, to mythical creatures and dragons and, of course, to our beloved Heavy Metal on YouTube and on Spotify in its entirety, and after “returning” from such distinct voyage don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and to purchase Dragons of the Ages from the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music or from Amazon. And may those metal pirates and warriors hailing from the UK continue to invade our minds and enhance our senses with their imposing and symphonic music for many years to come, always fighting for glory, for freedom and for metal.

Best moments of the album: The Last Dragon Warriors, War at Dawn and Turning the Tide.

Worst moments of the album: Take to the Sea.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. War’s Come to Our Shores 6:05
2. The Last Dragon Warriors 5:26
3. Ancient Waters 3:54
4. War at Dawn 4:18
5. The King Under the Sea 3:20
6. The Long Road 4:54
7. Turning the Tide 3:32
8. Take to the Sea 3:28
9. The Great Shadow 5:22
10. Here Be Dragonlords 8:30

Band members
Andy Barton – lead vocals
David Hills – guitars
Fabio Garau – keyboards
Nelson Moreira – bass
Mo Abdelgadir – drums

Guest musicians
Hector Clark – backing vocals on “The Last Dragon Warriors”
Julia Zelg – additional vocals on “War’s Come to Our Shores” and “The Last Dragon Warriors”
Nick Thurtell – additional vocals
Prash Sarma – additional vocals