Finland’s masters of Melodic Death Metal return with a bold and sinister new album, taking us back into the dark times of the witch prosecutions in Northern Europe.
Based on a short story by Niilo Sevänen (just like their 2016 album Winter’s Gate), Anno 1696, the ninth studio album by Finnish Melodic Death Metal institution Insomnium, takes the listeners back into the dark times of the witch prosecutions in Northern Europe, famine and superstition. Mixed by Jaime Gomez Arellano at Arda Recorders, mastered by Tony Lindgren at Fascination Street Recording Studios, displaying a classy artwork by Sami Makkonen, and featuring guest keyboards by Coen Janssen (Epica, Amahiru), the follow-up to their 2019 effort Heart like a Grave doesn’t disappoint at all, proving why this Joensuu, Pohjois-Karjala-based unity currently comprised of vocalist and bassist Niilo Sevänen, guitarists Ville Friman, Markus Vanhala and Jani Liimatainen, and drummer Markus Hirvonen has become one of the pillars of the genre in the entire Scandinavia, delivering first-class Melodic Death Metal album after album for our total delight.
Acoustic guitars and tribal beats ignite the opening tune 1696, being gradually joined by several other elements and evolving into a demolishing feast of their trademark Melodic Death Metal, with Niilo’s growls matching perfectly with their melodious guitar lines; followed by White Christ, presenting strong, classic lyrics flawlessly declaimed by the iconic Sakis Tolis of Rotting Christ together with Niilo (“In the name of our Saviour and Lord / In the name of our Monarch and the Crown / I’ve come to bring the law and justice to this land / I’ve come to bring the light and grace of the Christ”) in a lecture in Melodic Black and Death Metal. Then we have Godforsaken, featuring Johanna Kurkela (Altamullan Road, Auri, Eye of Melian) on vocals, adding a touch of finesse and melancholy to the overall result, accompanied by the massive beats by Markus Hirvonen and the piercing riffs by the band’s guitar triumvirate, flowing into the pure Insomnium tune Lilian, where a serene, delicate intro once again explodes into their unparalleled sound, showcasing an amazing job done by Ville, Markus Vanhala and Jani with their axes and, therefore, inviting us to headbang in pitch black darkness.
More of their poetic, bitterly cold lyrics is offered to us all in Starless Paths (“Cruel is the winter’s might / Dreadful the howl of wind / Beyond the pathless treks we roam / Where the church bells never toll”) while the music sounds extremely harmonious and dense from start to finish, and the band continues to distill their stylish Melodic Death Metal in The Witch Hunter, spearheaded by the classic beats by Markus Hirvonen while keeping the album as vibrant as it can be. The shortest of all tracks, titled The Unrest, begins in a similar acoustic way as the opening tune while Niilo darkly declaims the song’s words together with the clean vocals by Ville and Jani, and albeit being a good song it lacks the same energy from the others. Finally we’re treated to The Rapids, bringing forward a superb fusion of violence, melancholy, harmony and darkness by Insomnium, offering our avid ears almost eight minutes of their undisputed music. Moreover, Niilo roars deeply while his bandmates make sure the music remains imposing until the very last second, with their guitar solos piercing our souls majestically.
Perhaps the best way to fully understand everything Insomnium wanted to accomplish with Anno 1696 would be by watching this track by track video, and before or after you do so you can stream the album in its entirety on Youtube and on Spotify, being therefore properly immersed in the sinister world crafted by such important band from the Finnish scene. Also, don’t forget to start following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and above all that, to purchase the excellent Anno 1696 by clicking HERE or HERE. As already mentioned, the album is all about the witch prosecutions in Northern Europe, and there’s nothing better than the Stygian and melancholic music by Insomnium to guide us all through such dark and horrifying times.
Best moments of the album:White Christ, Lilian and The Rapids.
Worst moments of the album:The Unrest.
Released in 2023 Century Media
Track listing 1. 1696 6:18
2. White Christ 6:03
3. Godforsaken 8:35
4. Lilian 4:29
5. Starless Paths 7:48
6. The Witch Hunter 5:43
7. The Unrest 3:52
8. The Rapids 7:38
Japanese Edition Disc 2 – Songs of the Dusk 9. Flowers of the Night 5:28
10. Stained in Red 6:50
11. Song of the Dusk 9:43
Niilo Sevänen – lead vocals, bass
Ville Friman – guitars, clean vocals
Markus Vanhala – guitars
Jani Liimatainen – guitars, clean vocals
Markus Hirvonen – drums
Guest musicians Sakis Tolis – vocals on “White Christ”
Johanna Kurkela – vocals on “Godforsaken”
Coen Janssen – keyboards
Get ready to have your sinful soul dragged to hell by this Portuguese Blackened Death Metal outfit to the sound of their infernal sophomore opus.
The result of loss and sacrifice, the culmination of pain, and absolute detachment from life, O.M.E.N., or Omnis Malum Et Noceo, which translates from Latin as “everything evil and harmful”, is the sophomore opus by Lisbon, Portugal-based Black/Death Metal horde Okkultist, representing the band’s strongest effort since their inception in 2016 and, consequently, a huge step forward in the career of one of the most interesting names of the current Portuguese scene. The journey of an obsolete sense of desperateness from walking out of the void weighting us down that is depression, into the high state of spiritual healing, O.M.E.N. has everything a diehard fan of Blackened Death Metal desires and more, showcasing the undeniable talent and passion for the occult by vocalist, lyricist and visionary Beatriz Mariano, lead guitarist and co-founder Leander Sandmeier, rhythm guitarist João Corceiro (who by the way pre-produced the album), bassist David J. Rodrigues and drummer Eduardo Sinatra, all of them more than ready to drag your sinful soul to the pits of hell.
The title-track O.M.E.N. feels like the band is summoning evil spirits from the underworld (“In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas / Luciferi Excelsi / Ave”), resulting in a very extensive intro that opens the gates of hell for Okkultist to attack our senses with Death to Your Breed, where the Melodic Death and Black Metal drums by Eduardo create a rumbling ambience for the witch-like roars by Beatriz, providing us with everything we love in extreme music, being fast, furious, heavy and absolutely evil. The band continues to fire their acid fusion of Death and Black Metal in Meet Me in Hell, inviting us all to bang our heads nonstop to the devilish, piercing riffs by Leander and João; whereas the hellish sound of their guitars permeate the air in Blood on Satan’s Claw, bringing to our ears four minutes of undisputed heaviness and obscurity. And in Demonic Warfare we face another round of first-class Black and Death Metal spearheaded by the inhumane roars by Beatriz while Eduardo dictates the pace with his pounding drums, not to mention the striking solos by Leander.
9th Layer of the Abyss is a song that can be considered Okkultist’s ultimate black mass, taking us on a one-way journey to the pits of the netherworld while Eduardo brings forward sheer doom through his slow and steady beats; whereas back to a more infuriated mode, this unstoppable horde will darken our minds with the brutality and harmony found in Thy Blood, Thy Flesh, Thy Sacrifice, showcasing once again striking riffs and solos, devilish blast beats, and the always mesmerizing she-demon gnarls by Beatriz. Then in loving memory of the one and only Alexi Laiho (RIP), it’s time for their rendition of Children of Bodom’s hit Sixpounder (check out the original one HERE) from their 2003 critically acclaimed album Hate Crew Deathroll, presenting a fantastic job done by the entire band from start to finish. Lastly, closing the album we’re invited to slam into the pit one last time to the sound of Crimson Ecstasy, with Beatriz growling viciously while David’s bass and Eduardo’s drums make the earth tremble in the name of Extreme Metal. In addition, not even the unnecessary lengthy silence at the end of the song (before one final invocation of around one minute comes up) ruins the track’s overall quality. I wonder if they had to release an album with over 40 minutes of duration as requested by their record label, and that was their way of doing it.
The caustic and thrilling O.M.E.N., which is available in all of its glory on YouTube and on Spotify, and on sale from the Alma Mater Records’ BandCamp page and webstore, as well as from Apple Music (or you can click HERE for links to the album and all other things Okkultist), will certainly open countless doors worldwide for the band, and you can also show them your support and admiration by following them on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube. “Dark times exist so we can harness that power through them, and rise above anything or anyone that has tried to put us down. This album is for YOU – YOU who have survived through the worst of your days, YOU who didn’t know what to do when things got tough, YOU who’ve felt hopeless, blind, beaten up, not knowing where you have to be in life. You are not alone. Take this album, and use its strength to show you how endless your inner power is. It’s all in your hands,” commented Beatriz about their newborn spawn, an album that will feature among the best hailing from Portugal this year hands down.
Best moments of the album:Death to Your Breed, Meet Me in Hell, Thy Blood, Thy Flesh, Thy Sacrifice and, obviously, Sixpounder.
Worst moments of the album: None, except for the length of the first track and the extensive silent break of the last track.
Released in 2023 Alma Mater Records
Track listing 1. O.M.E.N. 4:00
2. Death to Your Breed 3:24
3. Meet Me in Hell 4:31
4. Blood on Satan’s Claw 4:05
5. Demonic Warfare 4:33
6. 9th Layer of the Abyss 4:13
7. Thy Blood, Thy Flesh, Thy Sacrifice 4:05
8. Sixpounder (Children of Bodom cover) 3:26
9. Crimson Ecstasy 10:12
Band members Beatriz Mariano – vocals
Leander Sandmeier – lead guitars
João Corceiro – rhythm guitars
David J. Rodrigues – bass
Eduardo Sinatra – drums
Behold the magnificent debut opus by this Belarusian Black Metal horde, based on the denial of the usual foundations of the world, on the darkest manifestations of human activity, and on energies hidden beyond the Dark Abyss.
Forged in the scorching fires of Minsk, Belarus in 2019, when five essences emerged from the abyss to the veils of night on the eve of the end times in order to reap the living, to satisfy the hunger of darkness and to nourish the wombs of the dark gods, the venomous Melodic Black Metal horde Ciemra (or Цемра, which means “darkness” in Belarusian) delivers fast-paced, cold and pure Black Metal which is looking at both the classic European sound and its more contemporary interpretations, which is exactly what you’ll find in their newborn opus titled The Tread of Darkness. Recorded at Alma Studio, mixed and mastered by Yaroslav Tseluyko at Jaro Sound, and displaying a demonic artwork by Nestor Povarnin, The Tread Of Darkness is based on the denial of the usual foundations of the world, on the darkest manifestations of human activity, and on energies hidden beyond the Dark Abyss, masterfully brought into being by the witch Malvain on vocals, Misery and Zima on the guitars, Kurz on bass, and Sønn on drums.
The acoustic guitars by Misery and Zima will mesmerize your soul accompanied by the slow and steady beast by Sønn in Ciemra, before the Belarusian sorceress Malvain begins gnarling in a dark and beautiful manner, with the music growing in intensity until becoming a sulfurous and grandiose feast of undisputed Black Metal. After such impactful start, the band continues to distill their blend of Melodic Black Metal with old school, raw Black Metal in Four Riders, with the band’s guitar duo cutting our skin deep with their evil riffage, followed by Vomiting Void, very melodious and bestial from the very first second while showcasing devilish lyrics growled by Malvain (“Burning the world / Building the temple / In the end of the night / There’s a Vomiting Void / So far material awake the gun”). And investing in a more cadenced, obscure sonority led by the classic drums by Sønn supported by the low-tuned bass by Kurz, Call of the Ancestors is an evil composition perfect for summoning evil spirits.
Then continuing to pave their path to pitch black darkness it’s time for War, again presenting the trademark roars by Malvain while Misery and Zima add elements from Death and Doom Metal to their riffs; and their piercing, strident guitars keep darkening the skies in A Night for the Death, where their Blackened Doom vein arises like a creature from the netherworld, with Kurz and Sønn once again hammering our heads with their demonic kitchen in a lecture in extreme music. The eerie vociferations by Malvain are the main ingredient in the Black Metal extravaganza Winter, where the caustic sound of their guitars will blacken your mind for all eternity, whereas in Serpent’s we face more of their infernal words (“The shaking Serpent / In the Abyss / The Raw materials / I’m on my knees…”) while the music is just as Stygian and heavy as the rest of the album, exploding into a gargantuan onrush of pure Black Metal at the end. Lastly, closing such somber album we have Where the Eyes Close, offering more of the band’s darkly melodic and grim Black Metal for our total delight, with its ethereal passages creating a stunning paradox with the band’s more visceral and violent side.
Best moments of the album:Ciemra, Vomiting Void, A Night for the Death and Where the Eyes Close.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2023 Avantgarde Music
Track listing 1. Ciemra 7:09
2. Four Riders 4:41
3. Vomiting Void 3:52
4. Call of the Ancestors 4:59
5. War 5:49
6. A Night for the Death 5:43
7. Winter 4:48
8. Serpent’s 4:28
9. Where the Eyes Close 5:00
Malvain – vocals
Misery – guitar
Zima – guitar
Kurz – bass
Sønn – drums
I must confess I was a little worried about what would happen to the GAEREA, UADA, CARACH ANGREN and ROTTING CHRIST concert at Lee’s Palace in Toronto last night, as part of their amazing Under Our Black Cult North American Tour 2023, mainly due to the shitty weather that has been punishing the United States and Canada in the past month or so. If you go to Gaerea’s official Facebook page, you’ll see they had to miss a few concerts in the US due to the nasty weather conditions, and after the heavy snow storm that hit Toronto this Friday I wasn’t sure if the concert was actually going to happen. Fortunately for all of us Torontonians who headed to a sold-out Lee’s Palace last night the weather was perfect for this time of the year (it wasn’t even that cold), and not only the four bands played, but they all kicked some serious ass.
My only complaint is once again related to the time the doors opened, already after 7pm, and the time Portuguese Black Metal entity GAEREA hit the stage, at 7:30pm sharp. This means a lot of people who were still lining up outside of the venue until around 7:40pm missed the first few minutes from Gaerea’s performance. Why can’t the venues open their doors at least one hour prior to the first band, and come up with a faster way to check ID’s and tickets so that fans can enjoy all bands they paid some good money to see? Anyway, Gaerea were phenomenal during their short but powerful concert, playing only songs from their 2022 opus Mirage such as Salve and Laude while their mysterious frontman kept mesmerizing us all with a unique performance that reminded me of a darkened mix of Iggy Pop and Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan. It was a dark, atmospheric and evil performance by the quintet, and I can’t wait to see them return to Toronto in the near future.
Setlist Intro Deluge
*Information not available*
After a very quick break, it was time for American Melodic Black Metal horde UADA to pulverize our damned souls with one of the most atmospheric concerts I’ve seen in a while, playing long, intricate and visceral songs the likes of the title-track from their 2020 opus Djinn, plus The Purging Fire and Cult of a Dying Sun, with the strong smell of incense from the beginning of the show generating a captivating ambience for all fans at the venue. Jake Superchi was insane on vocals and guitar, headbanging manically while also growling like a beast for our total delight, while his band members, particularly drummer Josh Lovejoy, kept the music flowing majestically until the very last second. UADA are already gearing up for their first South American tour this October, which not only means those guys are becoming bigger and bigger in the metal scene, but also that if you live in one of the South American cities they’re visiting in a few months you can rest assured you’re in for a fantastic treat.
The Purging Fire
Snakes & Vultures
Cult of a Dying Sun
Black Autumn, White Spring
Jake Superchi – vocals, guitars
James Sloan – guitars
Nate Verschoor – bass
Josh Lovejoy – drums
The third opening act of the night, Dutch Symphonic Black Metal demons CARACH ANGREN, also brought forth an ass-kicking concert, perhaps not as detailed or melodic as Gaerea or UADA, but full of energy and absolutely phantasmagorical. Blending songs from all of their albums with their latest opus Franckensteina Strataemontanus, from 2020, the duo Seregor (aka Dennis Droomers, who’s by the way in a relationship with the stunning Sandie Gjørtz, the frontwoman for Danish Melodic Death Metal outfit Defacing God) and Ardek (aka Clemens Wijers), with the support of the butcher Bastiaan Boh on the guitars and Gabe Seeber on drums, delivered a very theatrical concert for the crowd in Toronto, inspiring the fans to ignite some circle pits and even a wall of death with their devilish music. The only thing that bothered me a lot was the lack of a bassist while Ardek had two keyboards, but as weird as it might look the band has a lot of chemistry onstage and you end up forgetting about that minor detail right after the first song.
Setlist Electronic Voice Phenomena The Ghost of Raynham Hall
The Carriage Wheel Murder
Bitte Tötet Mich
A Strange Presence Near the Woods
Bloodstains on the Captain’s Log
Seregor – vocals, guitars
Ardek – keyboards, piano, orchestrations, backing vocals
Bastiaan Boh – guitars
Gabe Seeber – drums
It was around 10:20pm when the main attraction of the night, Greek Black Metal institution ROTTING CHRIST, showed Toronto once again why they’re one of the most important names in the history of extreme music, and will always be a reference to any metalhead who’s into the darkest side of metal. It’s beyond impressive how the iconic Mr. Sakis Tolis and his brother Themis Tolis are still so energetic on stage after so many decades on the road, hypnotizing the crowd and making every single one of their concerts simply memorable. In addition, I need to mention bassist Kostas Heliotis and guitarist Kostis Foukarakis also added their share of heaviness and electricity to the show, headbanging nonstop, interacting with the fans, and of course, playing all songs to perfection.
I was finally able to witness the guys playing songs form their awesome 2019 album The Herectics live, those being Fire, God and Fear and The Raven, and both were superb. However, their classics including the opening tune 666, Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy, Elthe Kyrie, In Yumen-Xibalba and Noctis Era were the most electrifying moments of the show as expected, generating intense, unstoppable mosh pits for the delight of everyone who decided to brave the storm that became the main pit. And how not to love Rotting Christ when they worship our buddy Satan by playing on the same night the songs Apage Satana, Societas Satanas, and the majestic Grandis Spiritus Diavolos? That was superb, and the energy flowing between the band and the crowd was insane.
Whenever the mighty Rotting Christ takes the city of Toronto by storm again, I’ll certainly be there. It’s one of those must-see shows by a band that loves what they do and that loves to witness their fans going mental during their live performances. The temperature inside Lee’s Palace was so hot that some people had to wait after the show was over for their shirts to dry from all their sweat before enduring another cold winter night in Toronto, but after all was said and done everything was totally worth it. Sakis is an unstoppable metal beast, the city of Toronto loves him, and hopefully next time he’s in the city with his horde they can play in front of an even bigger crowd. And until that day comes, we should all keep these words deep inside our herectic hearts… NON SERVIAM!
Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy
Fire, God and Fear
Grandis Spiritus Diavolos
This Finnish five-piece metal act is ready to attack with their new EP, a representation of the way a happy life usually starts to sadden towards the end due to the inevitability of death.
Formed back in 2017 in the city of Valkeakoski, Finland, the five-piece killer combo known as Bloody Falls combines all kind of elements of the most extreme metal genres, including blasting drums, epic passages and memorable guitar riffs that will make your head explode in a million pieces, while having their sound rooted in contemporary Melodic Black and Death Metal. Now in 2023 the band formed of Antero Hakala on vocals, Stavros Mathios and Marko Mäkinen on the guitars, Mika Lehtinen on bass and Rami Vartiainen on drums is unleashing upon humanity their new EP entitled Dying is Easy, following up on their 2021 album Burn the Witch. Recording and produced by the band’s own guitarist Stavros Mathios at VStudio, and mixed and mastered by Max Morton at Morton Studio, the EP is a representation of the way a happy life usually starts to sadden towards the end due to the inevitability of death, all introduced by heavy riffs and guttural vocals.
Are you scared to die, or are you scared to live? Well, Bloody Falls will answer that question to you in Dying is Easy, a brutal explosion of Black, Death and Groove Metal led by the venomous roars by Antero while Stravos and Marko darken the atmosphere with their devilish riffs. Then get ready for six minutes of sheer heaviness and obscurity in the modern-day Black and Death Metal feast titled Dancing with Flames, with Mika’s rumbling bass and Rami’s hammering drums inspiring us all to break our necks headbanging like crazy bastards; whereas Face Your Demise leans towards modern-day Melodic Death Metal with some Metalcore nuances, with Antero’s vocals sounding as evil as possible accompanied by the classic and melodic guitars by Stravos and Marko. It’s time for a headbanging, visceral Melodic Death Metal tune entitled Death By Hanging, with Rami stealing the spotlight with his massive beats while Antero keeps roaring like a beast, and their last blast of extreme music comes in the form of Reaper Is My Neighbor, where the bass jabs by Mika will hit you hard in the face while the band’s guitar duo keeps slashing their stringed weapons in great fashion.
Although it would have been nicer to have a full-length album released by the band instead of just an EP, the 25 minutes of music found in Dying is Easy are already incendiary enough to prove how talented and passionate for heavy music those Finnish metallers are, and if you want to show them your support you can find them and start following them on Facebook and on Instagram, stream more of their music on Spotify, and grab a copy of their new EP from the Art Gates Records webstore, from Apple Music, or by clicking HERE. As death is inevitable, why not enjoy some good heavy music during our miserable lives like what Bloody Falls have to offer us all until our very last breath?
Best moments of the album:Dancing with Flames and Death By Hanging.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2023 Art Gates Records
1. Dying is Easy 5:13
2. Dancing with Flames 5:46
3. Face Your Demise 4:22
4. Death By Hanging 4:10
5. Reaper Is My Neighbor 4:39
Antero Hakala – vocals
Stavros Mathios – guitars
Marko Mäkinen – guitars
Mika Lehtinen – bass
Rami Vartiainen – drums
Succumb to the dark side of music ruled by this Swedish Black Metal horde armed with their sinister and visceral fourth studio album.
Since their inception in Stockholm, Sweden in 2010, the fantastic Black Metal entity Grá (a mixture of the Icelandic “grár” and the Swedish “grå”, simply meaning “gray”) has relentlessly worked to shape their music to be both a perfect example of Swedish Black Metal and a very personal interpretation of its classic sound. Now in 2023 the horde comprised of Heljarmadr (Dark Funeral, Cursed 13) on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Vediger (Diabolic Lust, Cursed 13) on bass, and Dimman (Veiled, Cursed 13) on drums returns from the underworld with their fourth opus, entitled Lycaon, a lecture in classic and modern Black Metal. Mixed by Terry Nikas at Zero Gravity Studios, mastered by George Nerantzis, displaying an explosive cover art by Chilean artist Felipe Ignacio, and featuring guest guitarist and keyboardist Maugrim (Vargagrav, Cursed 13) and guest vocalist Terry Nikas (Scar of the Sun), Lycaon heads in the opposite direction of their 2018 intricate and bombastic album Väsen, displaying fewer layers meticulously measured and well thought out to carry the right atmosphere forward.
White City Devil is very melodic and grim from the very first second, with Dimman sounding like a beast behind his drums offering Heljarmadr exactly what he needs to darkly roar nonstop in a flammable fusion of old school Black Metal with contemporary Melodic Black Metal. After such intense tune we have Flame of Hephaestus, even more sulfurous and with Heljarmadr growling the song’s lyrics in great fashion (“Through cinders and snow, chasing the storms / Cleansed and so cold, concealed and obscure / Astray from all life, so violently dark / Shrouded in ice, forged in the fire”) while the guitars sound utterly caustic; and Maugrim and Heljarmadr keep slashing our ears with their visceral riffs in Torn Asunder, an ode to Black Metal that will please all fans of the genre. Then we’re treated to the title-track Lycaon, a lesson in modern-day Black Metal spearheaded by the venomous vocals by Heljarmadr while Vediger and Dimman make the earth tremble with their demonic kitchen. In other words, simply raise your horns in the name of evil to the sound of this amazing song.
It’s then time for their infernal rendition of Bathory’s Chariots of Fire (from their 1987 album Under The Sign Of The Black Mark), with Heljarmadr stealing the spotlight with his demented vocal lines; whereas the sinister bass by Vediger kick off the groovy and melodic Ett Avskedsbrev (or “a farewell letter” from Swedish), accompanied by the rhythmic beats by Dimman. Brännmärkt, which means “tarnished”, “tainted” or “branded”, carries on the torch exploring the cold war from a Swedish perspective, where the intro depicting a Swedish emergency siren called “Hesa Fredrik” (Hoarse Fredrik) and an old radio transmission was recorded right when the Russia-Ukraine war started. Musically speaking, it’s absolutely heavy and obscure, with Dimman pounding his drums mercilessly while the guitars by Maugrim and Heljarmadr bring an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result, flowing into the tribalistic outro titled Jaws of the Underworld, concluding the album on a cinematic note to the sound of the hammering drums by Dimman.
As aforementioned, Väsen might have been dropped like a bomb onto our heads back in 2018, but it’s with Lycaon that Grá have reached a whole new level of obscurity in their music, already placing it as one of the best albums of 2023 even if we’re just starting the month of January. Hence, don’t forget to show your support and admiration to the guys from Grá by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their official YouTube channel, by streaming all of their wicked creations on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing their massive new album from the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp page, from Sound Cave as a Digipak CD, a black vinyl or as a limited color vinyl, or from Amazon. Lycaon is Swedish Black Metal at its finest, and I’m sure you’ll succumb to the dark side ruled by Grá right after your first listen to such Stygian album.
Best moments of the album:Flame of Hephaestus, Torn Asunder, Lycaon and Brännmärkt.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2023 Avantgarde Music
Track listing 1. White City Devil 4:40
2. Flame of Hephaestus 4:20
3. Torn Asunder 4:17
4. Lycaon 5:10
5. Chariots of Fire (Bathory cover) 2:50
6. Ett Avskedsbrev 4:27
7. Brännmärkt 6:17
8. Jaws of the Underworld 3:38
Heljarmadr – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Vediger – bass, backing vocals
Dimman – drums, percussion
Maugrim – additional guitars and keyboards
Terry Nikas – additional vocals
An intriguing band is Golgata. A two man affair who list themselves as Spokesman 1 and 2, and a compelling and evocative piece of cover art on their new album that brings back some very nostalgic feelings for some important 90’s Black Metal releases. Ur Eld Och Aska or in English “out of fire and ashes”, is the duo’s third album in four years and has been released on CD by Satanath Records, as was debut album Skam (“Shame”) and 2020’s Tempel (“Temple”).
It isn’t just the artwork that gives off those 90’s vibes. Listen to the opening title track and you’ll be transported back thirty years to murky and bleak guitar tones, grandiose drumming techniques and biting melodies. Throw in some menacing croaky vocals, chanted backing vocals and an unrelenting bass tone, and all the ingredients are present for a superb album.
Another aspect of this album that harks back to another era is the production. The vocals sit slightly lower than the drums and bass in the mix, as do the guitars. Rather than this being a simple mistake in the mastering, I’d say this feels like it has been done deliberately and rather than diminish the overall sound it actually adds a level of bleak charm to proceedings.
Whilst the opening track has a compelling, fluid sound to it, tracks such as Undersatar (“Subjects”) have a far more rigid and steely sound to the riffs, and songs such as Liv for en Gud (“Live for one God”) combine the bands penchant for the melodic with a hard nosed determined sound, often at a slower and more calculating tempo.
Don’t get me wrong when I mentioned the 90’s influence, this is no album playing out a nostalgia trip for the sake of it, rather Golgata play music that pays tribute to the past whilst decisively moving forward. Ur Eld Och Aska is a supreme slice of Melodic Black Metal craftsmanship; captivating and enthralling.
Best moments of the album: The artwork is stunning, and the whole atmosphere of the album is captivating.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2022 by Satanath Records
Track listing 1. Ur Eld Och Aska 4:31
2. Undersåtar 4:13
3. Liv För En Gud 4:12
4. Vagabond 6:20
5. Återkomst 3:42
6. En Sista Synd Innan Fallet 4:29
7. Marvatten 4:22
8. Vagabond II 1:26
Band members Spokesman 2 (Niclas Ankarbranth) – vocals, guitars, bass, drums
Spokesman 1 (S.) – guitars
Jonas Olsson – mandolin (track 4, 6) on “Vagabond” and “En Sista Synd Innan Fallet”
Mari Biäre Howerdal – female vocals (track 1, 6, 7) on “Ur Eld Och Aska”, “En Sista Synd Innan Fallet” and “Marvatten”
Quebecois one man Black Metal project Orphique has unveiled a debut album entitled Consécration Cadavérique, which has been independently released on cassette, but has also seen a CD release via Sepulchral Productions.
The first of five tracks, Onirique has a steady, composed feeling to it; a methodical sound that breaks into blast beating fury in a mature and controlled way. Vocally, Monsieur Potter has a powerful snarling style, whilst his song-writing technique leans towards the intricate and thought provoking. He’s also a very talented guitarist and some of his guitar based melodies are extremely beautiful to behold, as are his stark, cold undertones. As for his bass playing technique, it is again deliberate, strong and pronounced, and each instrument has been given its time to shine on this opening track, which just like the whole album is recorded and mastered smoothly.
Whilst this album is technically very sound, there is a spark missing in my opinion. So, whilst the album is more than listenable, it also fails to set the blood pumping in a way that a truly great album would. If anything, Consécration Cadavérique feels very much like a paint by numbers album, right down to the subtle use of synth and the obligatory tremolo picking. So whilst everything fits well together, the album flows nicely and there is plenty of bleak melody involved, it still feels a little formulaic.
With all of that being said, Consécration Cadavérique is still a very enjoyable album, just not an exciting one.
Best moments of the album: The overall fluency and technicality of the musicianship.
Worst moments of the album: There are no worst moments especially.
I curse at their holy symbols… I laugh as they pray…
As we’re reaching the end of 2022, let’s all make a lot of noise together with our last metal lady of the year in the name of rock and metal music, sounds good? And when I say a lot of noise, I mean A LOT OF noise, because our metallic diva this month of December is undoubtedly one of the most talented drummers of the current Death and Thrash Metal scene, hammering her drums mercilessly for our total delight wherever she goes. I’m talking about the talented and charismatic Luana Dametto, the unrelenting drummer for Brazilian Death/Thrash Metal horde Crypta, and also known for her work with the bands Nervosa, Chaos Rising and Apophizys. Having said that, are you ready to know more about such unstoppable lady of the extreme music scene?
Born on November 22, 1996 in Tapejara, a municipality in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, Luana started her path in the world of music at the young age of 12 when she already began to play drums, later joining her very first band, Passo Fundo, Brazil-based Death Metal act Apophizys, at the age of 16. That’s exactly when she discovered her passion for Death Metal, and from there it was just a matter of time until she joined Brazilian Thrash Metal ladies Nervosa back in 2016. However, before becoming part of Nervosa, Luana studied Graphic Design at UPF – Universidade de Passo Fundo in Brazil in order to build a career in this field while still working as a musician in her spare time until the age of 19, which turned out to be very useful for her as she actually applied her studies into her passion for heavy music, being responsible for the artwork for the first (and only) full-length album by Apophizys.
Speaking about Apophizys, our metal lady was part of the band between 2012 and 2017, when the band split up, having recorded with them the album Into the Chaos back in 2015, which included some excellent songs such as Fear of the Unknown and Carnage (and you can enjoy a nice drum cam recorded by Luana herself for this song by clicking HERE). In one of her interviews, Luana explained exactly how she made it to Apophizys, saying that in the city of Passo Fundo there were two Death Metal bands, one formed by brothers who wouldn’t allow her to join the band, and the aforementioned Apophizys. She said Apophizys already had a drummer at that time, but Luana didn’t give up and stayed tuned to them hoping their drummer would leave the band, opening the so much needed spot for her. As you might already know, that worked, and Luana kicked some ass behind her drums with Apophizys for six years before joining Nervosa.
Luana was still in college when Nervosa’s founder and guitarist Prika Amaral added her on Facebook and contacted her for an audition (being referred by Brazilian drummer Eduardo Lane of NervoChaos, who had already toured with Apophizys before), as at that time Nervosa had just lost their previous drummer Pitchu Ferraz. She then travelled to the city of São Paulo, passed the test, and went on to start playing live with the band that same year and to record the band’s 2018 opus Downfall of Mankind. From such intense album, you can enjoy amazing songs the likes of Kill The Silence and Never Forget, Never Repeat (and there’s also a kick-ass drum cam for this song HERE). After the album release, she traveled and toured a lot around the world, playing at several big festivals and, therefore, turning music into her main occupation. In addition, Luana also recorded with Nervosa the single Freakshow, originally released on the Adult Swim metal compilation 2 in 2019. It was in 2020 when Luana parted ways with Nervosa, saying that the main reason for her departure was the fact that the three girls at that time felt there was no more passion for doing music together. There wasn’t any type of fighting or arguing, and she said they could have even continued with the band as is, but they all agreed they had to change something to reignite that passion and love for extreme music.
The seed for what’s known today as Crypta had already been planted before she left Nervosa, more specifically in June 2019, as a new musical project by Luana together with Fernanda Lira, also from Nervosa. As the co-founder of the band, she said the focus would be on playing Death Metal in a way that could not be done with Nervosa, inviting Dutch guitarist Sonia Anubis (of Burning Witches) to the band and later also adding Brazilian guitarist Tainá Bergamaschi (of Hagbard) to their lineup. After consolidating the band members, they started working on their debut effort Echoes of the Soul, released in 2021, and you can have an absolute blast to the sound of such incendiary album to the sound of songs such as From The Ashes, Dark Night Of The Soul and Kali (check out another awesome drum cam for this song HERE). Furthermore, earlier this year the band released the single I Resign (which also has a really cool drum cam video that can be watched HERE), once again presenting the visceral and heavy elements that are characteristic of their sound. Moreover, if live concerts are your cup of tea, you can find Luana pounding her drums in great fashion in several live videos of the band including From The Ashes live at Wacken Open Air 2022, and a 30-minute performance at Espaço Som studio in São Paulo, Brazil in November 2021.
Apart from Crypta, Nervosa and Apophizys, you can also find Luana smashing her drums since 2021 with Chaos Rising, a collaborative international project focused on different subgenres of heavy music open to every female artist interested in metal that includes members from Brazil, France, Germany, England, Sweden, Hungary, Russia, Iran and Argentina, among others. She recorded with Chaos Rising in 2021 the single Cost of Inaction alongside Swiss vocalist Alessia Mercado (Burning Flesh, Murge), French guitarist Stéphanie Nolf (Unsafe), Italian guitarist Francesca Mancini (Sudden Death), and German bassist Tina Gruschwitz (Demorphed, Cryoblood), and the final result is a bestial Death and Thrash Metal attack that will please all fans of extreme music. In addition, Luana was also a guest drummer in the 2016 EP Souls Dragged into the Abyss of Torment, by Brazilian Melodic Black/Death Metal act Isfet, also working in the recording of the album. If you want to listen to Luana playing a more demonic, blackened style of music, you can enjoy for example what’s perhaps the best song of the album, Perennial Pain Domain.
Regarding her idols and influences, Luana mentioned that she’s a huge fan of Thrash, Black and in special Death Metal, and that she began playing drums influenced by Joey Jordison (RIP) of Slipknot and Vinnie Paul (RIP) of Pantera, learning a lot about double bass and groove by listening to and watching them. She also mentioned Kerim “Krimh” Lechner of Decapitated and Derek Roddy of Hate Eternal as influences on the way she does her blast beats, complementing by saying that playing drums was actually a random thing that happened to her, as she was only 11 years old when she got in touch with a friend who played drums who led her to get her own set and begin playing. Not sure if her setup is still the same, but a few years ago she was using a 14″ Color Sound 900 Black Heavy Hi-Hat, a 16″ Color Sound 900 Black Heavy Crash, a 17″ Color Sound 900 Black Heavy Crash, a 18″ 2002 Giga Bell Ride “Psychoctopus”, and a 16″ Color Sound 900 Black China.
Speaking about her life on the road, although Luana might still be a very young drummer, she has already been to several different parts of the world including of course most regions in Brazil, the United States, Colombia, many countries across Europe and Asia (even recommending Singaporean Grindcore act Wormrot as one of her favorite bands of the region), and even the United Arab Emirates together with Nervosa and now Crypta. She mentioned Rock in Rio in Brazil and Altavoz Fest in Colombia as the most memorable concerts so far in her career, saying that Altavoz Fest is some sort of “Rock in Rio Colombia” where she played in front of over 30,000 people. Moreover, when asked which bands she enjoyed the most to play alongside, our dauntless drummer mentioned Havok (Brazil), Warbringer (United States) and Venom Inc. (England) as her favorite bands to tour together. There are some very interesting interviews with Luana on YouTube (most of them in Portuguese, though) where she talks about not only her touring experience but also about what’s next for Crypta, their music and so on, such as this one to a podcast named TUPFS, this one to Revista Freak, and this one to Hedflow.
There’s also another excellent interview to a podcast named Music Hero where she talks about being a woman in the extreme metal scene, and that’s how we’ll conclude this humble tribute to her. As a prominent female drummer in the world of heavy music, Luana thinks the scene is still ruled by men and that there’s a lot of sexism everywhere, saying she feels extremely disappointed when people treat her as if she knows less about her instrument than guys just because she’s a woman. Her advice to other women who are starting their careers in music is to focus on your work and ignore all the negativity that might come from some people, only doing what you truly feel comfortable doing. When asked about her favorite female metal musicians, Luana listed Canadian drummer Justine Éthier (Karkaos, Blackguard), Dutch vocalist Simone “Som” Pluijmers (Your Chance to Die, Lacerated, Cerebral Bore), and American vocalist Reba Meyers (Pray for Teeth) as the best for her, and just by mentioning only names from the underground scene we can see how much Luana is passionate about it. Hence, if you also love the underground extreme scene, you must go check what Luana and the other girls from Crypta are doing and, of course, stay tuned for when the band takes your city by storm with their pulverizing live performance, with Luana proving that you don’t need to be a big guy to powerfully smash your drums in the name of extreme music.
This Apalači Folk Metal entity returns from the underworld after seven years of silence with a new album that will further cement their rich and powerful legacy.
Born out of the desire to explore the heritage of the Eastern Woodland Indians of North America through stunning classical guitar instrumentation and lush atmosphere, West Virginia, United States-based Black/Folk Metal entity Nechochwen (a Lenape word that basically means “walks alone”) returns from the underworld seven years after the release of the full-length album Heart of Akamon with a new opus, entitled Kanawha Black, the fourth studio effort in their already solid career. Playing what they like to call “Apalači Folk Metal”, the duo comprised of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nechochwen and bassist and drummer Pohonasin offers in their new album fierce melodies, heartfelt compositions and riff stylings that will further cement the rich and powerful legacy that they’ve nurtured since their inception in 2005, being highly recommended for admirers of the music by Panopticon, Agalloch and Falls of Rauros, among others.
The incendiary riffs by Nechochwen are powerfully complemented by the blast beats by Pohonasin in the opening tune Kanawha Black, a fulminating Black and Folk Metal onrush where Nechochwen roars like a demonic entity while also providing top-notch clean vocals. Then we’re treated to The Murky Deep, where a tribalistic, folk start evolves into a Melodic Black Metal feast spearheaded by the massive drums by Pohonasin and the gentle acoustic guitars by Nechochwen. Furthermore, it’s truly impressive how they blend the most primeval folk elements with their more extreme core sound, which is also the case in I Can Die But Once, bringing forward over six minutes of ethereal, atmospheric passages intertwined with bursts of anger and obscurity, resulting in a multi-layered adventure through the realms of Neofolk for admirers of the genre.
And those mesmerizing sounds flow into the rumbling Folk Metal extravaganza titled A Cure for the Winter Plagues, where Nechochwen sounds like a beast with his deep roars and piercing guitars while Pohonasin will make your head tremble armed with his bass. Then investing in a more direct Atmospheric Black Metal sonority it’s time for the duo to crush our souls in Visions, Dreams, and Signs, bringing to our ears seven minutes of blackened riffs, infernal drums and the always hellish gnarls by Nechochwen, whereas their second to last breath of Black and Folk Metal comes in the form of Generations of War, presenting pulverizing growls and hammering drums that will smash you mercilessly while folk elements add a touch of finesse in the background. Lastly, the duo once again captivates our senses with their acoustic sounds in Across the Divide, another solid display of the band’s dexterity and passion for heavy music, with their Heavy Metal-infused guitars sounding utterly awesome.
After all is said and done, it’s a true pleasure to witness the triumphant return to action by Nechochwen with the excellent Kanawha Black after such a long period of silence, and if you want to put your hands on the album you can already preporder it directly from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Bindrune Recordings’ BandCamp page. Moreover, don’t forget to also follow the duo on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details, and to stream all of their atmospheric creations on Spotify, getting more familiarized with their music and, consequently, being able to explore the North American Indian heritage together with Nechochwen and Pohonasin in the name of the band’s trademark Apalači Folk Metal.
Best moments of the album: Kanawha Black and Visions, Dreams, and Signs.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2022 Bindrune Recordings
Track listing 1. Kanawha Black 6:23
2. The Murky Deep 4:03
3. I Can Die But Once 6:16
4. A Cure for the Winter Plagues 3:32
5. Visions, Dreams, and Signs 7:27
6. Generations of War 6:16
7. Across the Divide 7:50
Band members Nechochwen – vocals, guitars, e-bow, keyboards, hand drum, floor tom, rattle, cedar flute, lalawas
Pohonasin – bass, drums, backing vocals