Album Review – Ildaruni / Beyond Unseen Gateways (2021)

A spiritual journey to the mysteries untold in the form relentless, epic Black Metal infused with ancient folk melodies, masterfully brought forth by this emerging Armenian raging force.

3.5rating

ildaruni-beyond-unseen-gateways-2021Having emerged as a raging force from the depths of the Armenian underground metal scene in 2016, Yerevan-based Pagan Black Metal horde Ildaruni (which by the way is the ancient pagan name of the second largest river that flows through Armenia, currently known as Hrazdan River) represents a blend of relentless, epic Black Metal and ancient folk melodies, forgotten from times immemorial, exploring the height of the Urartian domain through the cognitive machinations of a bygone age and the esoteric apprehension of ancient pagan occultism. Recorded by Armen Shaverdian and Mark Erskine at Armen Shaverdian’s Guitar Clinic Studio, mixed and mastered by George Emmanuel (Lucifer’s Child, Rotting Chris) at Pentagram Studio, and displaying an ominous artwork by Mark Erskine (Erskine Designs), the band’s debut opus Beyond Unseen Gateways is a hymn to the blazing light that sank into shadowy shrines, to the wild darkness that covered the debris of Ardini, and to the bygone flame that enlightened the sanctum of Haldi, introducing an authentic sound and a spiritual journey to the mysteries untold masterfully brought forth by frontman Artak Karapetyan, guitarists Robert Meliksetyan and Mark Erskine, bassist Garbis Vizoian and drummer Arthur Poghosyan.

Atmospheric and epic from the very first second, the intro Haldinini Baushini, Imsheini Tariani will transport you to the fantastic realm ruled by Ildaruni, with the tin whistle by guest Arthur Atayan adding an extra touch of mystery to their music, before Robert and Mark begin slashing their guitars in the Epic Metal tune Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom, presenting beautiful hints of Folk and Pagan Metal while Artak roars and growls lie a true demonic entity; followed by the also imposing Perpetual Vigil, showcasing an obscure, sinister intro led by the tribal beats by Arthur and morphing into a headbanging beast crafted by this talented Armenian horde, living up to the legacy of Melodic and Pagan Black Metal. And get ready for over eight minutes of infernal blast beats, incendiary riffs and venomous growls in the Black Metal aria Boundless Numen: Gardens of Ardini, a lecture in extreme music spearheaded by the sulfurous vociferations by Artak that will haunt your soul for all eternity.

Once again blending the epicness of Pagan Metal with the heaviness and fury of Black Metal, the quintet fires the demolishing musical journey Towards Subterranean Realms, not to mention how thunderous the bass jabs by Garbis sound in paradox with all background orchestrations; and there’s no time to breathe as those Armenian metallers keep embellishing the airwaves with their bold and dense sound in Exalted Birth, another explosion of modern-day Melodic Black Metal with the band’s guitar duo stealing the spotlight with their wicked riffage supported by Arthur Atayan’s hypnotizing bagpipes. They still have fuel for another ass-kicking Black Metal onrush entitled Arakha, with Arthur setting the tone with his tribal, massive beats, accompanied by the strident sound of the guitars and the always vile roaring by Artak, and right after an imposing and stunning start Ildaruni come ripping in Whence Ravenstone Beckons, providing us fans eight minutes of impressive Black Metal where Arthur sounds more devilish than ever on drums while also featuring guest vocals by  Anna Hovhannesyan, with the music flowing darkly until the end.

ildaruni-2021I must say that listening to Beyond Unseen Gateways is indeed a unique sonic experience, or a “spiritual journey” as the band itself mentioned, and the hybrid of Black Metal with folk elements and paganism matched flawlessly with the stories told throughout the album’s impressive 52 minutes of first-class metal music. Having said that, let’s all show our total support and respect to the guys from Ildaruni by following them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know info about the band, by streaming their awesome creations on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing a copy of Beyond Unseen Gateways from their own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album in full). The ominous flame now burns stronger as Iladruni have just unleashed their long-waited cryptic incantations in the form of their incendiary debut effort, appealing to fans of renowned acts the like of Kawir, Rotting Christ and Windir. And may the gates of genesis reopen and herald forth an epoch of exaltation anew.

Best moments of the album: Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom, Boundless Numen: Gardens of Ardini and Exalted Birth.

Worst moments of the album: Perpetual Vigil.

Released in 2021 Black Lion Records

Track listing
1. Haldinini Baushini, Imsheini Tariani 3:38
2. Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom 6:23
3. Perpetual Vigil 6:02
4. Boundless Numen: Gardens of Ardini 8:10
5. Towards Subterranean Realms 7:50
6. Exalted Birth 6:05
7. Arakha 6:34
8. Whence Ravenstone Beckons 7:58

Band members
Artak Karapetyan – vocals
Robert Meliksetyan – guitars, keyboards
Mark Erskine – guitars, keyboards
Garbis Vizoian – bass
Arthur Poghosyan – drums

Guest musicians
Arthur Atayan – tin whistle on “Haldinini Baushini, Imsheini Tariani,” “Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom,” and “Towards Subterranean Realms”, bagpipes on “Exalted Birth”
Anna Hovhannesyan – vocals on “Whence Ravenstone Beckons”

Album Review – Los Males Del Mundo / Descent Towards Death (2021)

It’s time to descend into death to the sound of the debut album by this Argentinian duo, inviting us all to a conceptual journey and dragging us into the darkest and most remote places of the human soul.

Formed in 2016 in Buenos Aires, the capital of the charming Argentina, by vocalist and drummer Dany Tee (of bands like Acathexis and Seelenmord) and guitarist Cristian Yans (of Eroica), Los Males Del Mundo (which translates from Spanish as “the evils of the world”) combine today’s modern Black Metal sound with late 90’s Melodic Black Metal, with lyrics deeply influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, Emil Cioran and A. Schopenhauer. Later joined by bassist Nikita Kamprad (of German Black Metal band Der Weg einer Freiheit) as a producer and guest musician, the project released in 2020 their debut self-titled EP, shaping up their sound and inspiring them to release now in 2021 their first full-length effort, titled  Descent Towards Death. Recorded at Estudio Carmen in Argentina, produced, mixed, and mastered in Würzburg, Germany by Nikita himself, and displaying a grim artwork by Matt Lombard, Descent Towards Death is an invitation to a conceptual journey, dragging you into the darkest and most remote places of the human soul, reflecting an internal battle between aggressive and furious passages blended with dense and introspective landscapes full of melancholic melodies. In other words, simply hit play and be prepared to face one of the best and most intense Black Metal albums of the year.

The sluggish, somber guitars by Cristian kick off the 12-minute Atmospheric Black Metal feast titled Falling Into Nothing, exploding into dissident Black Metal where Dany not only crushes his drums ruthlessly, but his demonic gnarls bring even more obscurity to the final result, taking the listener on a one-way journey into the netherworld. In The Silent Agony their cryptic words will penetrate deep inside your psyche (“Like worms hiding from sunlight / we take shelter in the dirt / descending to the deepest filth -memories of the past – / trying to give sense to our existence / as redemption / to justify the misery of our days”) while the music remains dense and scorching from start to finish, with Dany sounding infuriated behind his drum set and screaming like Dani Filth in his Cruelty and the Beast-era; whereas in Eternal Circle Of Vain Effords they add a huge dosage of Blackened Doom and Doom Metal to their core sonority, with the bass punches by Nikita hammering your head without mercy while Cristian continues to extract darkness from his wicked riffs. Then venturing through more epic and Stygian lands the band fires the infernal Nothing But A Lie, where Cristian’s riffage and Nikita’s vicious bass walk hand in hand, therefore providing Dany all he needs to haunt our souls with his otherworldly roars and screeches. And Slayer-ish guitars à la “Seasons in the Abyss” permeate the air in the closing aria The Heavy Burden while Dany continues to growl like a demonic entity, always accompanied by the rumbling bass by Nikita, resulting in a multi-layered creation that will undoubtedly blacken the skies and your heart, not to mention how beautiful Cristian’s closing guitar solo sounds and feels.

In a nutshell, it’s truly impressive how bold, detailed and sharp the entire Descent Towards Death sounds coming from only two guys from Argentina that are just starting their career in metal music, positioning the album as one of the best releases of 2021 as aforementioned. Hence, if you want to put your hands on such precious gem of South American Black Metal, simply go to their own BandCamp page, to the Northern Silence Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore, as well as other locations such as Juno Records and Clear Spot. In addition, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram for all things Los Males Del Mundo, including new music and videos, tour dates and plans for the future. It’s time to begin our descent into darkness and death together with this multi-talented Argentinian duo, and there’s nothing better than the austere and captivating music found in their newborn opus to guide us on this harsh but extremely thrilling voyage.

Best moments of the album: Falling Into Nothing and The Heavy Burden.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Northern Silence Productions

Track listing
1. Falling Into Nothing 12:12
2. The Silent Agony 8:28
3. Eternal Circle Of Vain Effords 5:16
4. Nothing But A Lie 4:56
5. The Heavy Burden 10:00

Band members
Dany Tee – vocals, drums
Cristian Yans – guitars

Guest musician
Nikita Kamprad – bass (session)

Album Review – Harakiri For The Sky / Mӕre (2021)

This Atmospheric Black Metal duo from Austria returns with a breathtaking collection of tales from feverish dreams in the form of their fifth full-length opus.

Mӕre, a malicious folkloristic entity creeping on sleeping people’s chest during the night and causing breathlessness and anxiety, is the exact state of diffuse terror and paralysis that has been enshrined in Vienna, Austria-based Atmospheric Black Metal duo Harakiri For The Sky’s music ever since their debut album. Now in 2021, a breathtaking collection of tales from feverish dreams is being released in the form of the band’s fifth full-length opus Mӕre, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2018 album Arson. Founded in 2011 by vocalist J.J. and multi-instrumentalist M.S., the aim of Harakiri For The Sky has always been to create a unique mixture of melancholy and aggression, madness and meaning, wrapped in alternately manic and mellow songs that bridged Black Metal and Atmospheric Post-Rock. Featuring session drummer Kerim “Krimh” Lechner (Septicflesh, Act of Denial) and an atmospheric artwork by Meike Hakkaart (Art of Maquenda), Mӕre will haunt your soul and darken your heart in a majestic way, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the somber music crafted by bands like Alcest, Wolves In The Throne Room and Agalloch.

The atmospheric guitars by M.S. kick off the venomous opening track I, Pallbearer, with Kerim hammering his drums in great Black Metal fashion, providing J.J. al he needs to vociferate rabidly. In other words, what a sensational start to the album, ending with gorgeous, serene piano notes and setting the tone for Sing for the Damage We’ve Done, a lesson in Atmospheric Post-Black Metal that’s as visceral and aggressive as it’s melodic and epic, with guest vocalist Neige (from bands like Alcest and Zero) helping J.J. declaim the song’s poetic and introspective words (“It’s been so long, it’s difficult to tell / If I truly miss what I once called home / It’s been so long, it’s difficult to tell / If this truly was my longest way home”). Another round of their imposing and captivating sounds fills our ears in the pulverizing Us Against December Skies, where J.J. sounds bestial with his sick screams while M.S. slashes his stringed weapons mercilessly supported by the always infernal blast beats by Kerim, and you better prepare your senses for 11 minutes of modern-day, vibrant Atmospheric Black Metal in the form of I’m All About the Dusk, where M.S. will hit you in the head with his low-tuned bass while piercing your mind with his riffage, being full of breaks and variations and an endless sense of despair. And the duo continues to spread darkness and rage through their devilish roars and riffs in Three Empty Words, another good tune blending the heaviness of Melodic Black Metal with Post-Black Metal where Kerim proves why he was invited by J.J. and M.S. to be responsible for the drumming duties.

Atmospheric Black Metal usually means lengthy songs, and in the case of Harakiri For The Sky that’s translated into a thrilling musical voyage through obscure lands titled Once upon a Winter, a multi-layered and very detailed composition where J.J. takes his rage and despair to the next level, whereas in And Oceans Between Us we face more of their cryptic, somber lyrics (“You were the ailment / And leaving was the cure / I fell away and I still suffer / And year by year I’m fading away”) enfolded by a beyond mesmerizing sonority led by the strident guitars by M.S., exhaling epicness and bringing to our ears grandiose passages intertwined with classic Black Metal beats. The anonymous vocalist of Portuguese Black Metal band Gaerea lends his sharp vocals to the Stygian tune Silver Needle // Golden Dawn, with the song’s guitars overflowing pure Atmospheric Black Metal while drums and vocals lean towards contemporary Post-Metal, and acoustic guitars kick off the melancholic and embracing Time Is a Ghost, growing in intensity as the music progresses with Kerim stealing the spotlight with his infernal drumming, while J.J. continues to growl and bark just the way we like it in extreme music. And as the icing on the cake, Harakiri For The Sky offer our ears a fantastic version for Song to Say Goodbye, from the 2006 album Meds by Placebo (you can check the original version HERE), and let me tell you the band did a tremendous job adding a gargantuan amount of obscurity and heaviness to their version, with J.J. taking the lead with his trademark hellish roars.

As you might already know, the word “harakiri” means a ritual suicide by disembowelment with a sword, formerly practiced in Japan by samurai as an honorable alternative to disgrace or execution, and after listening to the deep, scorching music found in Mӕre it’s easy to understand why the name of the band was chosen to be Harakiri For The Sky, piercing your soul like a samurai sword and eliminating all traces of life from your body, therefore leaving you in pitch black darkness for all eternity. Hence, don’t forget to give the duo a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to stream more of their enfolding music on Spotify, and to purchase their excellent new opus by clicking HERE. Needless to say, you should definitely go for the very special CD Wooden Boxset edition of the album, available from AOP Records, EMP, Nuclear Blast and Amazon. Melancholic and aggressive, Mӕre represents another solid stone in the career of Harakiri For The Sky, showing us all that in Atmospheric Black Metal there’s nothing better than a never-ending, eerie onrush of fear and terror.

Best moments of the album: Sing for the Damage We’ve Done, I’m All About the Dusk and And Oceans Between Us.

Worst moments of the album: Three Empty Words.

Released in 2021 AOP Records

Track listing
1. I, Pallbearer 7:06
2. Sing for the Damage We’ve Done 8:05
3. Us Against December Skies 8:21
4. I’m All About the Dusk 11:09
5. Three Empty Words 9:29
6. Once upon a Winter 10:27
7. And Oceans Between Us 8:57
8. Silver Needle // Golden Dawn 7:09
9. Time Is a Ghost 8:33
10. Song to Say Goodbye (Placebo cover) 5:25

Band members
J.J. – vocals
M.S. – all instruments

Guest musicians
Kerim “Krimh” Lechner – drums (session)
Neige – additional vocals on “Sing for the Damage We’ve Done”
Anonymous – additional vocals on “Silver Needle // Golden Dawn”

Album Review – Demon King / The Final Tyranny EP (2021)

This newly formed demonic trio aims to be one of the reigning champs of the Death Metal world with their fulminating and very technical debut EP.

Formed in 2019 in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States, Blackened Death Metal outfit Demon King is the comeback project of prominent original Enfold Darkness guitarist Matt Brown after stepping away from playing music for a number of years, now joined by technical wizards Malcolm Pugh (Inferi, A Loathing Requiem, Entheos) on bass and Jack Blackburn (Inferi, Enfold Darkness, Vital Remains) on drums. Together, this incredibly talented trio aims to be one of the reigning champs of the Death Metal world in the coming years, starting their path of devastation with their debut EP titled The Final Tyranny. Mixed by Zack Ohren at Castle Ultimate Productions, mastered by Justin Shturtz at Sterling Sound, and displaying an infernal artwork by renowned artist Justin Abraham, The Final Tyranny is strongly recommended for fans of Abigor, Arsis, Dimmu Borgir, Naglfar, Necrophagist and Old Man’s Child, among many others, providing the listener 17 minutes of undisputed dexterity, violence and rage.

We must admit Blackened Death Metal always brings us amazing, poetic lyrics, which is exactly the case in the opening track Tyrannical Reign of the Deceiver (“For ages the world did hold the coming of one / Which would usher in the era of din / And the chieftains they called upon disorder as order / Their ally for the clasp within / Multitudes surrender to him as their god”), while Jack sounds like a stone crusher from hell on drums and Malcolm hammers his metallic bass nonstop, resulting in an explosion of sounds that’s as technical and infernal as it can be. Then a sinister intro will darken the skies before the trio comes ripping with their hard-hittingTechnical Death Metal in Invoking the Spirit of Chaos, where Matt not only roars like a demonic entity, but his hellish riffage adds an extra touch of dementia to the music; and it’s time for more lunacy in the form of Technical and Blackened Death Metal in Transmutation of the Artilect, with Malcolm and Jack being absolutely thunderous and menacing with their beats and bass jabs while Matt continues to gnarl and scream rabidly in a perfect fusion of intricacy and heaviness. Lastly, even more obscure than its predecessors, The Watcher, Wreathed In Flame is a ruthless display of modern-day aggressiveness and fury, with the demonic drums by Jack being beautifully supported by the demented strings by both Matt and Malcolm, not to mention how piercing Matt’s guitar solos sound and feel.

This short and sweet display of unrelenting Blackened Death Metal by Demon King is available for purchase by clicking HERE, or from other retailers such as Amazon and Record Store Day. Also, don’t forget to follow those insane metallers on Facebook and on Instagram, and to stream their sick creations on Spotify, showing your utmost support to this newborn force of the extreme music scene. Across its four dense tracks, The Final Tyranny deftly combines and shifts on a dime between Technical Death Metal, Black Metal, and Melodic Death Metal in order to create a sound of their own, also pointing to a very interesting future ahead of the trio and, therefore, inspiring fans of Death Metal from all over the world to keep slamming into the circle pit while Matt, Malcolm and Jack show us exactly what to do when armed with their sharp instruments and their blackened hearts and souls.

Best moments of the album: Tyrannical Reign of the Deceiver and Transmutation of the Artilect.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Tyrannical Reign of the Deceiver 3:51
2. Invoking the Spirit of Chaos 4:16
3. Transmutation of the Artilect 4:31
4. The Watcher, Wreathed In Flame 5:04

Band members
Matt Brown – vocals, guitars
Malcolm Pugh – bass
Jack Blackburn – drums

Album Review – Dormanth / Complete Downfall (2020)

This already prominent band from the Spanish underground scene returns with the perfect soundtrack for mankind’s downfall, continuing with their traditional style of Melodic Death Metal.

Two years and a few lineup changes after the release of their highly acclaimed 2018 album IX Sins, Bilbao, Spain-based Melodic Doom/Death Metal outfit Dormanth returns to the battlefield with their fourth full-length opus titled Complete Downfall, featuring 11 songs where double bass drums, melodies and catchy choruses prevail in many of the songs along with other mid-tempo tunes, continuing with their traditional style of Melodic Death Metal influenced by bands like Paradise Lost, Amorphis, Amon Amarth, In Flames and Insomnium. Produced, mixed and mastered by Pedro J. Monge at Chromaticity Studios, and displaying a stylish cover art by The Blind Gallery, the album represents another step forward in the career of the band now formed by vocalist and guitarist Oscar Del Val, guitarist Jokin Andrés, bassist Isma Fernández and drummer Javi Martínez.

Javi begins hammering our heads with his vicious beats in the doomed and melodic opening tune Dreamcatcher, before Oscar comes ripping with his deep guttural growls and sick riffs in a first-class lecture in Melodic Death Metal as Dormanth’s welcome card, whereas Fire is another classic creation by the quartet, living up to the legacy of the genre and loyal to their own roots, with Oscar and Jokin being spot-on with their melodious guitars supported by the metallic bass by Isma. Tragicomic Day is as melodic and thrilling as its predecessors, with Oscar roaring in a beyond infernal way accompanied by the traditional drums by Javi, inspiring us all to break our necks headbanging like true bastards, and speeding things up and sounding more vicious than before they offer us all Beyond the Gates, sounding like the early days of Arch Enemy at times and with the riffs and solos by Oscar and Jokin feeling sharper than a razor blade. And in Odyssey in Time we’re treated to a no shenanigans, no bullshit fusion of Death and Doom Metal by Dormanth that will put all fans of heavy music to raise their horns high, with Javi once again showcasing an amazing performance behind his drums.

Galloping bass and drums set the pace in the also harmonious extravaganza The Origin, where the strident guitars by Oscar and Jokin bring a touch of finesse to the overall result, whereas slashing riffs are boosted by endless fury in the excellent Dark Times for the God’s Creation, spearheaded by Oscar’s demented roars and leaning towards a more epic version of Death Metal the likes of Unleashed. Then in the instrumental bridge -273° K enfolding guitars permeate the air before Dormanth kick ass once again with Brainstorm, where the band invites us all to keep banging our heads to their demolishing but very melodic music, also presenting interesting breaks and variations until its crushing finale. And the band puts the pedal to the metal in the Black Metal-ish Crystal Bone, with all band members sounding extremely sharp and focused, specially Javi with his venomous beats and fills, being therefore recommended for diehard fans of Melodic Death and Black Metal. Lastly, it’s time for Dormanth to go full Doom Metal in Bloody Scars, sounding and feeling sluggish and vile from start to finish, with Oscar being even more deranged and infuriated on vocals than before, and the atmosphere remains dark, menacing and grim until the very end.

Dormanth are eager to unleash all the darkness and fury from their first-class new album upon us all sooner than you can imagine, and while we wait for their doomed tempest we can keep an eye on their Facebook page and Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about such talented Spanish squad, and purchase a copy of Complete downfall from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Xtreem Music’s BandCamp page or webstore. As the complete downfall of mankind gets closer and closer, Dormanth are among us to provide our avid ears the perfect soundtrack for our doomsday, exploding our senses with their refined Melodic Death Metal and, above all, proving once and for all that their homeland Spain is indeed the birthplace of some of the best underground metal acts of all time.

Best moments of the album: Dreamcatcher, Beyond the Gates and Dark Times for the God’s Creation.

Worst moments of the album: The Origin.

Released in 2020 Xtreem Music

Track listing
1. Dreamcatcher 4:15
2. Fire 3:35
3. Tragicomic Day 4:52
4. Beyond the Gates 4:10
5. Odyssey in Time 3:37
6. The Origin 4:02
7. Dark Times for the God’s Creation 3:53
8. -273° K 0:50
9. Brainstorm 3:32
10. Crystal Bone 4:23
11. Bloody Scars 5:12

Band members
Oscar Del Val – vocals, guitar
Jokin Andrés – guitar
Isma Fernández – bass
Javi Martínez – drums

Album Review – Lord Almighty / Wither (2020)

Transcending genre norms, the new opus by this amazing Progressive Black Metal band from Boston showcases an epic world that will surely be loved by all types of metalheads.

Formed in the grimy artist spaces of Rugg Road in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States in 2013 by vocalist and guitarist Keenan Carroll and guitarist Samuel “Goose” Willgoose, later enlisting bassist Phill Gelinas and drummer Christopher Narainen to complete the line up and hit the road, the unrelenting Progressive Black Metal unity Lord Almighty continues to play a crushing mix of Black Metal blasts and Rock N’ Roll melodics in their newborn opus entitled Wither, the follow-up to their 2015 full-length album Paths. Recorded by Goose himself at Murder Box Studios, mixed by Phillip Cope at Jam Room, mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, and featuring a Stygian cover Art by Adam O’Day, Wither transcends genre norms, showcasing an epic world that will surely be loved by all types of metalheads. “Wither is an album that really was written over a few years. There were plenty of experiences along the way that continued our descent into madness. It was a hazy time looking through smoke and double vision. Conceptually we had a lot of different emotions and life experiences that culminated to what you hear. If you listen hard enough, you might even hear the crackle of the fire in our building where we lived or the cops pounding on the doors. Or maybe even the dreams in which we envisioned when we found ourselves without homes,” commented the band about their new album.

Their sonic onrush of sounds begins in full force with the opening track Cry of the Earth, where Christopher already presents his heavy artillery while the guitars by both Keenan and Goose bring a thrilling fusion of Black Metal and Punk Rock to the music, building an instant connection with the also progressive, multi-layered Sundown, with their strident guitars and intricate beats providing Keenan all he needs to vociferate with tons of anger, alternating between more rhythmic moments and sheer brutality. After such exciting start to the album, the quartet invests into a classic Black Metal sonority, offering our ears Mercy, with Phill and his Marduk-inspired bass punches adding an extra touch of evil to the overall result, sounding imposing and grim from start to finish and suddenly morphing into a incendiary tune titled Rise, where the Jazz-ish guitars by Keenan and Goose grow in intensity until exploding in a bestial Progressive Black Metal feast led by the crushing beats by Christopher. Then we have V, an instrumental intermission spearheaded by Christopher’s tribalistic beats, setting the tone for the neck-breaking and utterly progressive Despite, showcasing devilish riffs and solos, low-tuned bass lines and the always hellish growls and snarls by Keenan, also bringing forward hints of classic Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll, therefore demonstrating all the band’s versatility and range.

Stifled is another one of their cryptic instrumental creations, this time offering our ears a somber atmosphere and background voices, keeping everything as dark and heavy as possible before they come crushing our spinal cords with the Doom Metal-infused aria titled Adrift, also adding a touch of Atmospheric Black Metal to the song’s already pulverizing sound. Moreover, all band members are on fire throughout the entire song, exhaling obscurity and hopelessness; and after some inspired jamming the quartet fires the demonic Black Metal extravaganza entitled Hour By Hour, where Keenan and Goose sound beyond infernal with their razor-edged riffs, not to mention Goose’s blazin’ guitar solo. Their second to last blast of malignancy comes in the form of the title-track Wither, bringing forward their core progressiveness with Phill’s bass jabs hammering our heads mercilessly in a vicious display of contemporary Melodic Black Metal, whereas closing the album the band brings forth the also strident and piercing Hooded Three. The song actually takes longer than expected to take off, but when it does it’s another display of brutality by Lord Almighty with the thrashing riffs by the band’s guitar duo inspiring us all to slam into the pit.

The beyond progressive and demolishing creations found in Wither can be better appreciated in full on YouTube, but of course as usual if you want to truly demonstrate your support to the guys from Lord Almighty and keep the fires of underground extreme music burning bright forever and ever, go check what the band is up to on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, stream more of their music on Spotify, and above all that, grab your copy of their sulfurous new album from their own BandCamp page or webstore. As already mentioned, Wither is not only a very cohesive and vibrant album of extreme music, but it also translates into Black Metal all obscure experiences from each band member in their own descend into madness, which means you should definitely use the entire album as the soundtrack to your own downward spiral into the pits of the underworld. I’m sure the band would love to be part of that unique experience in your damned life.

Best moments of the album: Sundown, Rise and Hour By Hour.

Worst moments of the album: Hooded Three.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Cry of the Earth 3:51
2. Sundown 4:05
3. Mercy 2:31
4. Rise 4:20
5. V 0:51
6. Despite 3:43
7. Stifled 1:34
8. Adrift 3:55
9. Hour By Hour 3:57
10. Wither 4:49
11. Hooded Three 5:11

Band members
Keenan Carroll – vocals, guitars
Samuel “Goose” Willgoose – lead guitars
Phill Gelinas – bass
Christopher Narainen – drums

Album Review – Eshtadur / From the Abyss (2020)

These unrelenting Colombian metallers return from the abyss once again embodying a deathly melodic atmosphere that reaches into realms of darkness and despair through the decay of humanity.

Three years after the release of the fantastic Mother Gray, which led the band to perform across several countries such as Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, the unrelenting Pereira, Colombia-based Melodic Death and Black Metal unity known as Eshtadur has just unleashed upon us all their fourth full-length installment, entitled From the Abyss, once again embodying a deathly melodic atmosphere that reaches into realms of darkness and despair through the decay of humanity. With a name translating to “rebellion of angels”, this South American outfit currently comprised of Jorg August on vocals and guitars, Alejo Guitarecho on the guitars and Andres El Negro on bass, with the support of Polish drummer Michał Łysejko, seeks to rebel in its own darkened way, embracing the abject reality, while offering in their new album ten potent and multi-layered songs tailored for diehard fans of the extreme music blasted by iconic bands such as SepticFlesh, Behemoth, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Carach Angren, all embraced by the Stygian artwork by Colombian artist Carlos Jácome.

Featuring American guitarist Riche Brown from Mindscar, the opening tune Lowborn Bastard is imposing and atmospheric from the very first second, with Michał being already bestial on drums while Jorg roars deeply and manically, also presenting crisp guitar riffs and solos for our total delight, and pounding their instruments mercilessly the band offers our avid ears the fulminating The Adverse Side, showcasing a fantastic performance by Jorg and Alejo on the guitars accompanied by the thunderous bass by Andres and wicked symphonic background elements. Then we have The Red Door, a neck-breaking hybrid of Melodic Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal bringing forward cryptic words vociferated by Jorg (“The entrance of the never known / The altered state / I dare you find the door / Can you cross the line?”), while it’s impressive how Michał’s beats can be utterly bestial and intricate at the same time; and they go absolutely berserk in The Fall, blending the most visceral elements from Death and Black Metal spearheaded by the venomous growls by Jorg while their guitars sound as piercing and austere as possible. Following such demented tune, and featuring Swedish guiratist Henrik Danhage from Evergrey, She the Void ventures through the realms of Symphonic Doom Metal, presenting an interesting paradox between Jorg’s deep guttural and the song’s whimsical orchestrations, albeit being a little bit longer than what it should.

Then we’re treated to a very special cover version for the song All She Wrote, featuring Tunisian vocalist Zaher Zorgati from Myrath and once again Henrik Danhage on the guitars, originally recorded by Richmond, Virginia-based Glam Metal band FireHouse in their 1990 debut self-titled album (check the original version HERE), and Eshtadur’s version is simply amazing, bringing tons of metal to the original version’s core rockin’ vibe. It’s time for Eshtadur to put the pedal to the metal and blast the infernal Transient Stranger, where all band members are on fire, scathing our skins with their violence and wrath while Andres and Michał make the foundations of the earth tremble with their blackened, groovy sounds. Those Colombian metallers keep delivering sheer adrenaline, darkness and hatred in The Oathbreaker, with Jorg and Alejo making a demonic guitar duo while Michał pulverizes our senses with his menacing beats and fills in a lesson in contemporary Death Metal, followed by The Fear Difusser, featuring Colombian guitarist Adrián Holguín from Souledge, another round of acid, unfriendly extreme music by Eshtadur showcasing their usual blast beats intertwined with stunning background keys and slashing riffs. Lastly, there’s no better way to end such demolishing release than with an aggressive and furious tune, Disphased Dimension, led by Jorg’s devilish roars and the classic drums by Michał, while Andres brings the groove with his sick bass punches, putting a beautiful finale to the album.

As it happens with several bands from the most distinct parts of the world, it’s always a pleasure for fans of underground metal like myself to witness the organic and exciting growth of bands like Eshtadur, a band that’s not only carrying the flag of Colombian metal everywhere they go, but that has also been shaping up their own music style album after album, sounding more and more unique as times passes by, with From the Abyss representing another spot-on step in their already solid career. Hence, don’t forget to follow Jorg and his henchmen on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, and to grab your copy of From the Abyss or to stream the album in its entirety by clicking HERE, keeping the flame of Colombian Melodic Death Metal burning bright for many years to come. After four ass-kicking albums and extensive tours all over the world, I wonder what’s next for such distinct band, and the answer to that seems quite simple after listening to their new album in full a few times, that Eshtadur will keep delivering first-class metal music no matter what, never selling off nor slowing down.

Best moments of the album: The Adverse Side, The Red Door and The Oathbreaker.

Worst moments of the album: She the Void.

Released in 2020 Blood Blast Distribution

Track listing
1. Lowborn Bastard 5:28
2. The Adverse Side 3:44
3. The Red Door 5:00
4. The Fall 3:46
5. She the Void 6:56
6. All She Wrote (FireHouse cover) 4:17
7. Transient Stranger 4:18
8. The Oathbreaker 4:41
9. The Fear Difusser 4:29
10. Disphased Dimension 4:35

Band members
Jorg August – vocals, guitars
Alejo Guitarecho – guitars
Andres El Negro – bass

Guest musicians
Michał Łysejko – drums (session)
Riche Brown – guitar solo on “Lowborn Bastard”
Zaher Zorgati – vocals on “All She Wrote”
Henrik Danhage – guitars on “All She Wrote” and “She the Void”
Adrián Holguín – guitars on “The Fear Difusser”

Album Review – Onirik / The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity (2020)

A unique Black Metal album that is the consequence of the descent and return from below carrying the flames and lava on its scales, giving it back to the world in posthumous vengeance.

Following up on his highly-acclaimed 2015 album Casket Dream Veneration, Lisbon, Portugal-based Black Metal one-man horde Onirik, the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Gonius Rex, returns with yet another distinct and heavy-as-hell album entitled The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity, the fifth studio album in his solid career. Active since 2002, Onirik has been exploring Black Metal in several approaches, always faithful to its original purpose, the emission of unordinary, dissonant and raw outputs with trance-inducing atmospheres, typically very cold and bathed in magic. With the special guest participation of none other than Dirge Rep on drums (Gehenna, Enslaved, Orcustus, The Konsortium), and mixed and mastered by Semjaza of Thy Darkened Shade at Sitra Ahra Studio, who also took care of the album’s ambient elements, The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity is the consequence of the descent and return from below carrying the flames and lava on its scales, giving it back to the world in posthumous vengeance.

Prepare your senses for six minutes of a classic Norwegian Black Metal inferno in the opening tune Cult Beyond Eternity, where Gonius Rex extracts sheer malignancy from his guitar while gnarling demonically at the same time, and it’s impressive how he is capable of adding so much groove and progressiveness to his Stygian creations such as Trapped in Flesh, Blood and Dirt, piling up additional layers of awesomeness to his already scorching sound while guest Dirge Rep takes care of the violence and brutality with his blast beats. Then our avid ears are penetrated furiously by over nine minutes of a downward spiral into the pits of the underworld together with Gonius Rex entitled Assigned to the Inexorable Flames, with his bass lines sounding utterly demented, groovy and wicked, proving how talented and focused he is at what he does, with the entire song feeling as grandiose and somber as it can be from start to finish.

In Melodies of Reflections and Praise this unearthly entity offers us all a modern yet old school version of Melodic Black Metal infused with Progressive Black Metal elements where Dirge Rep continues to deliver insanity and intricacy through his beats, providing Gonius Rex all he needs to distill his Jazz-inspired bass jabs.  And venturing through the sluggish realms of Doom Metal, Onirik blast the heavy and thunderous Granted the Vision, Molded into Stone, with the bass punches by Gonius Rex allied with the slow and steady beats by Dirge Rep punching us all in the head mercilessly. After such dense extravaganza, and again blending traditional Black Metal with modern-day sounds and a demented atmosphere, we’re treated to an avalanche of darkened sounds for our vulgar delectation in Murmurs of the Aging Vessel, with both Gonius Rex and Dirge Rep being on fire with their respective sonic weapons, whereas back to a more berserk mode Onirik haunt our souls one last time with their infuriated Black Metal in Apathy of Might, and they keep hammering their instruments nonstop until the song’s grand finale.

You can show your support and admiration for Gonius Rex’s alter ego Onirik by following the project on Facebook, and of course by purchasing a copy of such incendiary album from the underground Portuguese scene from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page or from the Metal Odissey webstore in CD or in LP format.  “I have travelled beyond the casket and returned only to illustrate the certain retribution. This time the old ways flow deep like liquefied lava, ready to break the wounds of this earth and resurface in arsonists’ bliss,” cryptically said Gonius Rex about his newborn album, and even if you have no clue what exactly he wanted to say, let me tell you that the best way to understand his eerie words is by playing The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity at top volume and enjoying one of the best releases of the Portuguese underground scene in this obscure year of 2020.

Best moments of the album: Trapped in Flesh, Blood and Dirt and Assigned to the Inexorable Flames.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Cult Beyond Eternity 6:15
2. Trapped in Flesh, Blood and Dirt 4:35
3. Assigned to the Inexorable Flames 9:00
4. Melodies of Reflections and Praise 7:32
5. Granted the Vision, Molded into Stone 6:18
6. Murmurs of the Aging Vessel 6:47
7. Apathy of Might 5:32

Band members
Gonius Rex – vocals, guitars, bass

Guest musicians
Dirge Rep – drums
Semjaza – ambient

Album Review – Ov Shadows / I Djävulens Avbild (2020)

Arising from the darkest pits of Gothenburg, this Swedish horde is ready to stun us all once again with the Atmospheric Black Metal guided by chaos and darkness from their sophomore opus.

“Come forth from eternity
Beyond the paradise and tempt me with the forbidden fruit
Tempt me with knowledge and power and let me become god
I’m willing to leave the paradise
Mother of blasphemy and fornication
Dark goddess Lilith”

Gothenburg, Sweden’s own Black Metal entity Ov Shadows is rising once again form the pits of the underworld to stun us all with their sophomore full-length opus, titled I Djävulens Avbild, which translates to English as “In the Devil’s Image”, the follow-up to their 2018 debut album The Darkness Between Stars. Featuring a beautiful artwork by artist Vandraren, also known as Mister Snowpulse, the new record presents the band comprised of RA on vocals and bass, AA and AF on the guitars, and JW on drums at an unprecedented ferocity and forward-momentum, and apparently very intent on proving that to their listeners immediately, as pummeling drums and a heavy galloping riff fill the speakers within seconds of the album. “Ov Shadows is about exploring and embracing the dark aspects that dwell within us all – your ‘shadows-self’ as Carl Jung expressed it. Our vision is to create an atmospheric Black Metal guided by chaos and darkness,” commented the band, inviting us all to join them in their obscure and austere realm.

As aforementioned, the opening tune Den Eld Som Tär Och Förvrider (“The Fire That Consumes And Distorts”) offers us all an infernal sonic devastation from the very first second, with RA showcasing his welcome card in the form of his otherworldly screeches while JW shakes the foundations of the earth with his thunderous blast beats, whereas in Blasfemiskt Crescendo (“Blasphemous Crescendo”) we’re treated to more of their demonic Black Metal where AA and AF sound like two chainsaws with their cutting riffs, providing RA all he needs to thrive with both his wicked roars and rumbling bass. And an imposing and grim vibe will penetrate deep inside your soul in the Atmospheric Black Metal tune titled Under Dödens Vingar (“Under the Wings of Death”), where the band’s guitar duo continues to fire lancinating riffs through their axes nosntop while JW keeps the pace as heavy and thunderous as possible behind his drum set.

This Swedish quartet keeps slamming our skulls with their strident and sulfurous Black Metal in Anakoretens Gap (“The Maw of the Anchorite”), sounding very rhythmic, somber and doomed, spearheaded by JW’s bestial drumming and the always venomous growling by RA, while the title-track I Djävulens Avbild (“In the Devil’s Image”) keeps bringing to our avid ears Ov Shadows’ dense fusion of old school and contemporary Black Metal with Melodic Black Metal and even Doom Metal nuances, with the spine-chilling guitars by AA and AF giving you nightmares during your sleep. Then blazing guitars and a feeling of hopelessness will invade your senses in Spotsk (“Defiant”), another Stygian creation by Ov Shadows presenting some interesting breaks and variations amidst all the havoc crafted by JW and RA with their devilish kitchen, followed by the closing aria Av Kunskap Krönt Till Gud (“By Knowledge Crowned God”), even more demonic and dark than its predecessors, or in other words, a lesson in Melodic Black Metal led by RA’s hellish screams while AA and AF keep bringing fire and wrath to the musicality with their sick riffage.

The Stygian and austere creations by Ov Shadows are waiting for you on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to this skillful Swedish horde and your admiration for the darkest side of heavy music, you can buy your copy of I Djävulens Avbild, all sung in their mother tongue Swedish by the way (as opposed to their previous album entirely sung in English), from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp or webstore in regular CD format or as an amazing CD + shirt + patch + sticker bundle, and you can always follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for new, tour dates and more of their hellish music. Chaos and darkness reign supreme in the musical world brought forth by Ov Shadows in their newborn spawn, pointing to a bright future for the band in their already solid career, and inviting us all to renounce light and succumb to darkness for all eternity.

Best moments of the album: Blasfemiskt Crescendo, Anakoretens Gap and Av Kunskap Krönt Till Gud.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Den Eld Som Tär Och Förvrider 6:26
2. Blasfemiskt Crescendo 6:24
3. Under Dödens Vingar 5:44
4. Anakoretens Gap 5:07
5. I Djävulens Avbild 6:09
6. Spotsk 6:34
7. Av Kunskap Krönt Till Gud 6:34

Band members
RA – vocals, bass
AA – guitars
AF – guitars
JW – drums