Album Review – Minneriket / Gjennom Meg Går Ingen Til Hvile (2022)

A lecture in Romantic Black Metal by one of the driving forces of the current Norwegian scene, dedicated in loving memory to those we have lost.

Four years after the excellent Anima Sola, Norwegian Romantic Black Metal band Minneriket, the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Stein Akslen, returns with another blast of awesomeness in the form of Gjennom Meg Går Ingen Til Hvile, or ““through me no one goes to rest” from Norwegian. Produced and mixed by Stein himself at Hagall Studios, recorded on various location throughout the world (with all field-recordings done by Stein on location in Norway out in nature to supplement the compositions on the album), mastered by Niklas Kveldulfsson, and displaying a classic logo by Christophe Szpajdel of Lord of the Logos and front cover photography by Eivind Nilsen of Clean Shot Photography beautifully portraying model Lise Marie Sommerstad, the album features a pretty big roster of session musicians, some being amateurs, some being more known people. “In total I have been working on this album for about 6 years now. There’s a lot of memories tied up on it, and it will be dedicated in loving memory to those we have lost. Some of the lyrics on the album actually dates back about 17 years, so I’ve used this album to really go full circle,” commented Stein, who also had some interesting words to say about the field-recordings. “That had me sleeping outside in the forests for a few nights to record an owl, and all other sounds – including wolves – are real. There are no samples at all on the album.”

Birds chirping and the gentle sound of the piano ignite the opening tune Så Kald En Jord (“so call a land”), evolving into a fusion of atmospheric music and primeval Black Metal to the hellish gnarls by Stein in paradox with the song’s smooth female vocals, offering us all over eight minutes of cryptic passages, sharp guitars and rhythmic beats. Then the instrumental piece Hjemlengsel (“homesickness”) will bring peace and sorrow to our blackened hearts thanks to the stunning cello by guest Norlene Olmedo, followed by Begravelsens Hjerteslag (“the heartbeat of the funeral”), another bold and multi-layered creation by Stein where the finesse of its operatic vocals walks hand in hand with the heavy-as-hell sounds crafted by our Norwegian multi-instrumentalist in a thrilling fusion of Melodic and Atmospheric Black Metal. Regnbuer I Gråtoner (“rainbows in shades of gray”) is another beautiful metal voyage by Stein and his guests, and it’s impressive how he manages to make each and every song so unique with his bass and drums generating a rumbling ambience perfect for his devilish growls; whereas in Sorg Og Savn (“grief and loss”) we face doomed words darkly declaimed by Stein and guest Ingrid.mariea (“Dear friends, dear family / I will leave you behind / I am the lifeless rain of autumn / Without you I will shine / My wounds are yours to reap and harvest”) while the music pierces our minds mercilessly.

The serene and atmospheric interlude Solnedgang (“sunset”) will soothe our damned souls before Stein comes ripping once again in Hvil I Fred (“rest in peace”), starting in a delicate manner to the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks before exploding into more of his trademark Black Metal. Moreover, once again the heaviness of the guitars and drums beautifully clashes with enfolding keys and piano notes, not to mention how stunning the female vocalizations sound and feel. After that, delicate piano notes permeate the air in Forglemmegei (“forget-me-not”), a well-engendered (albeit a bit too long) intermission that sets the tone for Nåde (“grace”), bringing forward over 13 minutes of what feels like the soundtrack to a dark and sinister movie, with Stein blending three or four songs into one massive beast while alternating between obscure passages and sheer dementia in the form of Black Metal, ending in an epic and enfolding manner before the outro 11379 brings to our ears a stylish exhibit of folk and classic elements, with the sounds of the piano and flute adding an extra touch of delicacy to the album.

A must-listen for fans of Myrkur, Jinjer, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Arch Enemy and Evanescence, among several others, Gjennom Meg Går Ingen Til Hvile undoubtedly represents a huge step forward in the career of the multi-talented Stein, and if you want to put your hands on such distinguished album of extreme music you can purchase it from Minneriket’s own BandCamp page. In addition, don’t forget to also follow Stein and his Black Metal alter-ego on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to his YouTube channel, and to stream more of his stylish compositions on Spotify. As mentioned by Stein, Gjennom Meg Går Ingen Til Hvile is much more than just another metal album, but a music representation of his own memories intertwined with the sounds of nature, deserving our full admiration and respect and, therefore, positioning Minneriket as one of the driving forces of the current underground Black Metal scene.

Best moments of the album: Regnbuer I Gråtoner, Hvil I Fred and Nåde.

Worst moments of the album: Forglemmegei.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Så Kald En Jord 8:42
2. Hjemlengsel 2:04
3. Begravelsens Hjerteslag 7:31
4. Regnbuer I Gråtoner 6:44
5. Sorg Og Savn 5:32
6. Solnedgang 1:42
7. Hvil I Fred 5:31
8. Forglemmegei 3:44
9. Nåde 13:17
10. 11379 3:17

Band members
Stein Akslen – lead vocals, guitars, field-recordings, synths, additional instruments

Guest musicians
Misstiq – keys
Māra Lisenko – vocals
Christina Rotondo – vocals
Niklas Kveldulfsson – drums
Ingrid.mariea – vocals
Maria Kosma – bass
Margarita Chernova – strings
Norlene Olmedo – cello
Kyba – vocals
Elvann – harp
Kim Fleuchaus – flute
Thomas Englmann – saxophone
Jenny Modeman – additional vocals
C80 – additional keys
Li – gong
Temu – additional vocals
Elsewhere Choir – choir

Interview – Jaume Antuñano (Eonian)

It’s time for The Headbanging Moose to chat with guitarist, composer and lyricist Jaume Antuñano about his awesome solo project Eonian and his debut EP The Nomad, among other fun topics.

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Jaume Antuñano (Eonian)

The Headbanging Moose: Hi, Jaume! Welcome to The Headbanging Moose, and thanks for joining us for this interview! Can you please begin by introducing yourself to our readers and talk a little about your new project Eonian? How would you label your music?

Jaume Antuñano: Hi Gus! Thank you so much for having me. Eonian is a symphonic black/death metal solo project that I started in early 2020. The pandemic had just hit NYC and we were stuck at home, so I began writing music to keep my mind busy. Originally, this was going to be an instrumental project, but as I started composing and recording, I decided to write lyrics and to incorporate vocals too.

THM: You have just released a fantastic debut EP entitled The Nomad, which I highly recommend for fans of bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. What’s the main idea or concept behind the album, and how long did it take for you to finalize the entire process until the release of the album?

JA: The Nomad is a concept EP. All five songs tell the story of this mysterious, once powerful character who is condemned by the gods to wander for eternity after falling from grace. Trying to tie all the songs together both musically and through the lyrics made it a little harder, but overall it was a pretty quick process. It took about ten months for the EP to be completed.

THM: I personally enjoyed all five songs from the EP, especially Winter Wanderer and Cleansing Fire. What about you? What’s your favorite song of the EP and why? And you can’t say all five, of course! 😉

JA: This is like choosing between mom and dad! But okay, I’ll go ahead and say Cleansing Fire too.

THM: The main band that plays with you in The Nomad is formed by French vocalist DM, Italian bassist Francesco Loconte, Swedish drummer Freddy Ortscheid and Argentinian musician Diego Soldi. How difficult was it to put together such distinct international project, and how did you get to know each one of your band members?

JA: They all did such an amazing job and I’m so glad I got in touch with them. I can compose parts for different instruments, but I can only play the guitar, so I went on Fiverr and contacted these great musicians to record everything else. After I wrote the songs, I sent them a first demo and midi files, and we went from there. This was entirely done via the Internet and we actually never met in person, but despite all that, this was a very easy process and they knocked it out of the park.

THM: There are also seven other guest musicians on the album, as for example Russian violinist Margarita Chernova and Ukrainian pianist Polina Chornaya. Why did you decide to have so many guests on the album, how did you recruit each one of them, and how happy are you with the final result?

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Album Review – Eonian / The Nomad EP (2021)

JA: The reason behind having all these guest musicians is because I wanted to include musicians from different backgrounds. Some of them are used to playing metal, but some others are not, and I think that added some depth to my original ideas. Each one of them brought something to the table that I wouldn’t have been able to come up with myself, and I’m absolutely stoked with the results.

THM: What’s next for Eonian? Can we expect a full-length album from you in the near future? And as you’re basically a virtual band (at least for now), do you have any plans for a tour either with the same musicians featured on the album or with new local ones from the New York area?

JA:   I already have some ideas for new songs, but it is too early to know if the next release will be an EP or a full-length album. As for a future tour, I would really like it if Eonian became a band, so NYC folks, hit me up if you are interested.

THM: How has this never-ending pandemic impacted your work as a musician? And do you see a light at the end of the tunnel for metal bands now that the vaccination is picking up almost everywhere and concerts and festivals are starting to be scheduled again?

JA: Like many other musicians, new and consolidated, being stuck at home for so long really pushed me to start writing new stuff. Luckily, it looks like things are improving rapidly and that many bands are going to be presenting their new material live soon. I can’t wait and I already marked down a few concerts I don’t want to miss, including your fellow Canadians Unleash the Archers at Le Poisson Rouge here in NYC.

THM: When and why did you decide to move from Spain to the United States? Did it have anything to do with your career as a musician, or was it due to a completely different reason?

JA: I moved to the U.S. in 2011 to complete a Master’s degree in Literature. My plan was to stay for two years and go back to Spain, but I met my now-wife and… never left.

eonian-logoTHM: How different is the metal scene in your home country Spain compared to where you are now in The United States? Any local underground bands from both countries you would recommend to our readers?

JA: There is so many different styles and so much talent out there that I find it difficult to come up with major differences between the current metal scenes of Spain and the U.S. Maybe ten, fifteen years ago the difference was more defined, as European metalheads in general were very into the wave of Power Metal bands and also the Gothenburg sound was huge over there. The elitists will probably correct me, but I think that today there is quite an overlap regarding the genres that metalheads from both countries listen to. As for your second question, I’ll start by giving a shout-out to a couple of bands from my hometown of Valencia: In Mute (Melodic Death Metal) and Retribution (Symphonic Black/Death). And as for New York bands, I’m going to go with Valcata, which is another Internet-produced project that features many different musicians and vocalists from all over the world. Check them out!

THM: Thanks again for your time, and congratulations for your amazing debut EP! Please feel free to send your final message and considerations to our readers, and keep up with the excellent work with Eonian!

JA: Thank you for the interview and for your positive review of The Nomad! I would also like to thank all of the session musicians that recorded in this EP, and Fernán Nebiros, from Peruvian death metal legends Mortem, who was involved in the early stages of this project and whose valuable input helped me immensely. And to the readers, I encourage you to follow Eonian on Instagram and Facebook and to let me know what you think of the EP!

Links
Eonian Facebook | Instagram | Linktree | Spotify | BandCamp | DistroKid

Album Review – Eonian / The Nomad EP (2021)

Raise your horns to the first-class fusion of furious riffs, drums, and vocals with epic choirs and orchestral arrangements carefully brought forth by this international Symphonic Extreme Metal project.

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eonian-the-nomad-ep-2021Assembled in 2020 by Manhattan, New York City-based Spanish guitarist Jaume Antuñano, the amazing multinational Symphonic Extreme Metal project that goes by the name of Eonian is set to release their debut EP, entitled The Nomad, a must-have for fans of bands the likes of Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Septicflesh. Mixed and mastered by Simone Pietroforte at Divergent Studios, and displaying a classic cover art by Javier Barjollo and a stunning logo designed by Alice Malvisi from Hexibex Design, The Nomad was fully produced online and includes five songs that blend furious riffs, drums, and vocals with epic choirs and orchestral arrangements carefully brought forth by Jaume together with French vocalist DM (Helioss), Italian bassist Francesco Loconte (Koroth, Kormak), Swedish drummer Freddy Ortscheid (Entrails) and Argentinian musician Diego Soldi on all orchestrations, as well as seven other very special guest musicians from all over the world.

A metal storm is about to begin in Winter Wanderer, featuring guest solos by Indian musician Manish Kashyap (Deathknell) and Spanish musician Isaac “Whitefingers” Solanas (Frozen Shield), with Jaume’s riffage and Freddy’s blast beats generating a bold and visceral ambience, all boosted by DM’s infernal roars; whereas living up to the legacy of Symphonic Black Metal the band delivers the imposing Versus The Titan, where the orchestrations by Diego are superb, not to mention the stunning guest violin solo by Russian musician Margarita Chernova. Then a movie-inspired intro grows in intensity until all hell breaks loose in the Dimmu Borgir-like aria Cleansing Fire, featuring a keyboard solo and arrangements by Mexican musician Andrés Samboní (Desvirtual), once again showcasing all the fury of DM on vocals together with the piercing, scorching riffs by Jaume. It’s time for an epic journey with Jaume and his horde in Delirium, offering us all a keyboard solo by Argentinian musician Pablo Pallares (Utópica) and an electric violin solo by Spanish musician Néstor Català (Tales of Gaia), with Francesco, Freddy and Diego generating a beautiful wall of sounds in the background, before the piano solo by Ukrainian musician Polina Chornaya adds a touch of finesse to the thunderous tune Shores Of A Lost Sea, putting a fantastic and climatic ending to the EP with DM roaring and screaming rabidly amidst a top-of-the-line Extreme Metal sonority.

eonian-logoIn a nutshell, the debut EP by Eonian is without a shadow of a doubt a precious gem hailing from the underground of several countries that truly deserves our admiration, and you’ll soon be able to stream it or purchase it from different locations by clicking HERE. Hence, if you want to know more about the team led by Jaume you can start following Eonian on Facebook and on Instagram and click HERE to not only read more about the project, but to also hire each person involved in the creation of The Nomad in case you’re looking for some skillful musicians for your own metal or non-metal endeavor. In a world where we’re all becoming more and more involved with technology yet at the same time isolated from society, it’s always a pleasure to witness guys like Jaume bringing people together in the name of heavy music, providing us fans first-class Extreme Metal and, therefore, pointing to a bright future ahead of the project. And although the name of the EP somehow represents Jaume’s personal and musical life, as if he is the nomad depicted in the album art moving from one place to another, he’s far from being a solitary man in our Heavy Metal universe as you can see.

Best moments of the album: Winter Wanderer and Cleansing Fire.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing 
1. Winter Wanderer 4:17
2. Versus The Titan 4:32
3. Cleansing Fire 4:55
4. Delirium 3:37
5. Shores Of A Lost Sea 4:44

Band members
DM – vocals
Jaume Antuñano – guitar
Francesco Loconte – bass
Freddy Ortscheid – drums
Diego Soldi – orchestrations

Guest musicians
Manish Kashyap – guitar solo on “Winter Wanderer”
Isaac “Whitefingers” Solanas – guitar solo on “Winter Wanderer”
Margarita Chernova – violin solo on “Versus The Titan”
Andrés Samboní – keyboard solo and arrangements on “Cleansing Fire”
Pablo Pallares – keyboard solo on “Delirium”
Néstor Català – electric violin solo on  “Delirium”
Polina Chornaya – piano solo on “Shores Of A Lost Sea”