Album Review – Helslave / Divination EP (2017)

Prepare yourself for a grim and murky fusion of old school and modern Swedish-inspired Death Metal by five Italian troopers in their path of destruction and killing.

Formed in 2009 by guitarist Jari, Italian Death Metal act Helslave is a Rome-based band taking its influences from the 90’s Death Metal and Melodic Death Metal Swedish scene, adding their personal twist to generate a mix of old and modern school metal music. After releasing a self-titled demo in 2010, followed by the EP Ethereal Decay in 2013 and their first full-length album An Endless Path in 2015, the band started playing shows all over Italy and Europe, sharing the stage with acts such as Grave, Asphyx, Havok, Hideous Divinity and Destroyer 666, also appearing at Metaldays in 2014, keeping themselves busy and always charged up to continue their path of destruction wherever they go.

In the beginning of the year, Helslave entered the studio to record a brand new EP titled Divination, comprised of four brand new tracks leaning towards darker and heavier sounds, playing their already traditional Swedish-inspired Death Metal in the vein of Grave, Entombed and Desultor, all embraced by the devilish artwork designed by Misanthropic Art. Prepare yourself for grim and murky old school Death Metal, the kind of stuff that doesn’t rely on triggered blast beats, light-in-the-loafers warbling, or anything but the crudest building blocks to construct its killing art. Hence, although Divination lasts for only around 16 minutes, that’s more than enough for Helslave to crush your spine mercilessly.

In the opening track, beautifully titled Summoning The Eternal Eclipse, an ominous intro morphs into sheer devastation by Jari and his henchmen, with drummer Francesco Comerci dictating the song’s demented rhythm in a solid display of Swedish Death Metal. In addition, newcomer Diego Laino and his Unleashed-inspired vocals keep the song’s ferocity at an extremely high level, perfect for declaiming the song’s menacing lyrics (“Silence falls, it freezes all around / the arrival of divine / ancestral ritual summon
/ Blinding lights, no human eye can see
/ let the plague fall on the weak”). And there’s no time to breathe, as the band rises from the pits of hell with another brutal carnage named Lord Of Lies, presenting old school, visceral Death Metal with hints of other extreme genres such as Black and Thrash Metal to add more dynamism to the musicality. The guitar duo Jari and Lorenzo Fabiani are simply fantastic, blasting scorching, darkened riffs through their instruments, not to mention the intricate beats by Francesco in this ode to obscurity.

In The Spawn Of Astaroth, the band slows things down a bit, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fire truly dismembering riffs and beats, with Diego growling like a beast while Francesco and bassist Luca Riccardelli maintain a dense ambience in the background. Moreover, the final guitar lines exhale pure Black Metal, not to mention the song’s insurgent lyrics (“The fate of a great battle / has to be faced / an indomitable army has to be defeated / We are the ones who walk the left hand path / As written in the blood of the prophecy / The only way to conquer this land”). And Desecration, their last spawn of vicious Death Metal, is fast, demonic and amazingly neck-breaking, again presenting traditional piercing riffs and solos by Jari and Lorenzo as well as the complex and vibrant drumming by Francesco, being highly recommended for fans of Unleashed and Obituary.

You can take a full listen at Divination on YouTube, and follow Helslave through their Facebook page, YouTube channel, ReverbNation and SoundCloud. And if you want to show your true support to high-end underground Death Metal, you can purchase the EP at Helslave’s BandCamp or Big Cartel, at the Black Market Metal’s Big Cartel, or at Discogs. The only “issue” with Divination is that it’s only 15 minutes long, but as aforementioned that doesn’t stop Helslave from shining and destroying with their unrelenting Death Metal, leaving us eager for more kick-ass extreme music by this hardworking Italian squad.

Best moments of the album: Summoning The Eternal Eclipse.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Black Market Metal

Track listing
1. Summoning The Eternal Eclipse 4:08
2. Lord Of Lies 3:32
3. The Spawn Of Astaroth 3:43
4. Desecration 4:35

Band members
Diego Laino – vocals
Jari – lead guitars
Lorenzo Fabiani – guitars
Luca Riccardelli – bass
Francesco Comerci – drums

Album Review – Sunterra / Reborn EP (2017)

Under the sign of the ancient Egypt goddess Isis, one of the most important Industrial Metal bands from the underground Austrian scene is reborn with a new lineup and a reinvigorated attitude.

Rating5

coverUnder the sign of the ancient Egypt goddess Isis, Austrian Gothic/Industrial Metal act Sunterra are celebrating their reunion after a 10-year hiatus from the music scene with their brand new EP titled Reborn, which as you can imagine by its name marks the resurrection of the band, presenting a musical progression without forgetting their own roots. Combining Industrial and Gothic Metal with hints of Electro and Dubstep, Sunterra aim at creating their own, distinctive sound, oferring the listener fresh and thrilling music that will put you on a trance and certainly sharpen your senses while listening to it.

Formed in 1998 in the charming city of Vienna, Austria after the split of a band named Virgin Seed, and having chosen their new name Sunterra as a game of words standing for the gathering of fire and earth, the band led by bassist and lyricist Chris enjoyed almost a decade of considerable success in the independent Austrian scene, releasing the demo In Diebus Illis in 1999 and the full-length albums Lost Time, in 2002, and Graceful Tunes, in 2005, before calling it a day in 2006. In 2015, with a brand new lineup and a reinvigorated attitude, Sunterra were reborn from the ashes like a phoenix and are more than ready to rock again, with their brand new EP being the first and exciting installment in this second incarnation of the band.

Electronic and futuristic elements set the tone in the solid Industrial Metal composition Reign Supreme, with the harsh growls by Carlos and the clean, gentle voice of Slovakian singer Lilly reaching a great balance, complementing each other’s lines effectively. In addition, the song’s chorus is quite catchy and should work really well live. In Shadow in the Dark, the band “abandons” their heavy industrialized musicality a bit, focusing on their Gothic Metal vein, with gentle piano notes and the delicate vocals by Lilly guiding the listener in this eccentric voyage. This is a melancholic, alternative ballad that ends with Carlos and Ivan delivering some heavy gnarls and riffs respectively, generating an interesting contrast with the song’s initial smoothness. Then in Lord of Lies we face some obscure guitar and bass lines by Ivan and Chris, which together with the potent programmed beats will break your neck while Lilly keeps delivering her angelical vocals. Put differently, this is a high-end professional fusion of Industrial and Gothic Metal, with its background effects helping make the overall sonority truly menacing.

sunterra-1This is W.A.R. brings forward an eerie futuristic ambience with elements from electronic music, feeling like a dance hit from the 80’s or 90’s with a metallic approach and gentle breaks being thoroughly inserted amidst the fury emanating from Carlos’ guttural growls; whereas Ministry of Thoughts presents a strong Marilyn Manson-inspired atmosphere, sounding extremely alternative and mechanized. In this song highly recommended for lovers of the darkest side of Industrial Metal, Ivan showcases an excellent performance on both guitar and all programmed elements, turning it into one of the best tracks of the album. And concluding the EP, Shut Up!!! begins in an ominous way with a whimsical dialogue between Carlos and Lilly before becoming a feast of electronic Industrial Metal perfect for hitting the dance floor, a creepy track by Sunterra to end Reborn on a high note.

As one of the most important Industrial Metal bands from the underground Austrian scene is finally back in action, why not feed their newly reborn fire  with your passion for heavy music? You can watch a preview of the entire EP on YouTube to get a better sense of what the music by Sunterra is all about, or stream it in its entirety to be enchanted by their modern metal music, as well as follow them on Facebook to know more about the band and their future projects and live concerts. And if you want to show your true support for these Austrian industrialists of darkness, you can get your copy of Reborn at their BandCamp page, on iTunes, on Amazon, at Discogs and several other online retailers.

Best moments of the album: Lord of Lies and Ministry of Thoughts.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 NRT-Records

Track listing
1. Reign Supreme 4:28
2. Shadow in the Dark 5:15
3. Lord of Lies 5:05
4. This is W.A.R. 4:49
5. Ministry of Thoughts 4:47
6. Shut Up!!! 3:51

Band members
Carlos – male lead vocals
Lilly – female lead vocals
Ivan – lead guitars, programming
Chris – bass