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”