Album Review – Sleepers’ Guilt / What Remained (2022)

Dealing to a large extent with questions about the end of humanity as we know it, this Melodic Death Metal from Luxembourg begins a new era in their career with their thrilling and furious sophomore effort.

Hailing from Dippach, a commune and small town in south-western Luxembourg that is part of the canton of Capellen, Melodic Death Metal outfit Sleepers’ Guilt is back in action with their sophomore opus, entitled What Remained, marking the beginning of a new era in the band’s career with the debut of their new frontwoman Sany Faihrmann. Recorded, mixed and mastered by the band’s guitarist Marc Froehling, What Remained deals to a large extent with questions about the end of humanity as we know it and the challenges we might face in the near or more distant future, all that without being a concept album according to the band itself.  In addition to the classical instrumentation and the usual samples, Sany and Marc, together with their bandmates Chris T. Ian also on the guitars, Philip Rio Ries on bass and Ben Thuy on drums, dare to experiment with more exotic instruments, such as bouzoukis, mandolins, didgeridoos, and cellos, among others, to give the arrangements more opulence, while at the same time the music never loses its heaviness and always demands the listener’s attention.

Futuristic sounds ignite the band’s metal machine in the opening track Posthuman, with Philip and Ben dictating the rhythm with their heavy kitchen while Sany roars nonstop like a true she-demon, whereas Chris and Marc continue to extract sheer electricity from their axes in Wrath of Gods, another Melodic Death Metal extravaganza showcasing all the band’s heaviness, talent and passion for extreme music. As the name already says, Eye of the Storm is indeed a metallic storm by the quintet with Sany’s roars leading her bandmates into the eye of “you know what”, with the band’s guitar duo delivering classic riffs and solos for our total delight, therefore keeping the album at a high level of insanity. Let’s keep banging our heads to the pounding drums by Ben in Freedom Undone, a neck-breaking tune where Sany’s screams sound like a devilish version of Overkill’s Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth; and slowing things down a bit it’s time for the somber Ultimate Sin, not as powerful as the rest of the album but still very melodic, with Chris and Marc showcasing a great performance with their riffs and solos.

Train of Thoughts feels like a heavier, more devilish version of the Melodic Metal played by Stratovarius, with Sany delivering a dark and thrilling vocal performance by roaring deeply accompanied by the classy beast by Ben; and get ready for 10 minutes of high-quality Melodic Death Metal made in Luxembourg with Tides of Fate, starting in a serene, melancholic way before morphing into an experimental sonority and exploding into the band’s core sound with an epic touch, with Sany delivering her usual she-wolf growls while her bandmates keep the atmosphere as dense and electrifying as possible, not to mention their soulful, striking guitar solos. Then blackening their core essence considerably it’s time for the almost pure Death Metal onrush titled Pyre, also bringing to our ears elements from Groove Metal thanks to the amazing job done by Philip and Ben with their respective bass punches and venomous beats. Last but not least, Sleepers’ Guilt offer us all the Arch Enemy-inspired tune The Remains, with hints of the music played by Soilwork and In Flames while Chris and Marc are on fire armed with their guitars, providing Sany all she needs to gnarl like a creature form the abyss.

You can start following such promising name of the Luxembourger metal scene on Facebook and on Instagram, staying up to date with all things Sleepers’ Guilt, and also watch their videos and  stream all of their creations on YouTube and on Spotify. Furthermore, above all that, don’t forget to show them your utmost support by purchasing the excellent What Remained by clicking HERE. In a dystopian world, humanity is on the brink of extinction and the machines have taken over. But is it really the machines, or rather those who control the machines? And is there life outside the dystopian illusions, in solitude, amid an exhausted, repellent nature? Simply hit play in What Remained and let the band answer those questions to you, while of course you keep banging your head nonstop to their venomous music.

Best moments of the album: Wrath of Gods, Train of Thoughts and Pyre.

Worst moments of the album: Ultimate Sin.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Posthuman 4:23
2. Wrath of Gods 4:19
3. Eye of the Storm 6:39
4. Freedom Undone 5:52
5. Ultimate Sin 4:29
6. Train of Thoughts 6:04
7. Tides of Fate 10:15
8. Pyre 7:17
9. The Remains 9:24

Band members
Sany Faihrmann – vocals
Chris T. Ian – guitars
Marc Froehling – guitars
Philip Rio Ries – bass
Ben Thuy – drums

Album Review – Tishina / Uvod… (2022)

A first-class side-project by Bane’s mastermind to explore the slower, deeper and more emotional side of music, invoking the spirit of late 90’s and early 00’s doom.

Founded in 2020 by Serbian vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Branislav Panić, known best for his work with Blackened Death Metal band Bane, Tishina (Тишина), which means “silence” from Serbian, is a new Melodic Doom/Death Metal entity initially born as a side-project to explore the slower, deeper and more emotional side of music, highly influenced by giants such as Saturnus, October Tide, Mourning Beloveth, and Doom:vs, among others, who’s unleashing upon humanity its debut effort titled Uvod… (Увод…), which means “introduction” in English. Mixed and mastered at HellSound Studio by Honza Kapak, who also played drums in the album, and displaying a stylish artwork by Aleksandra Panić, Uvod… came mainly from the book of poems Nad Vodama Aheronta, written by Serbian author Predrag Rava, combining an exquisite blend of mid-paced melodic riffs, blackened sections, and various shifts in atmosphere and tone throughout its playtime while invoking the spirit of late 90’s and early 00’s doom.

Iz Mrtvog Ugla (Из Мртвог Угла), or “from a dead angle”, is a beautiful start to the album, reminding me of some of the classic creations by Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride with Branislav exhaling heaviness through his riffs and bass punches, supported by the sluggish beats by Honza; and continuing their path of obscurity and melancholy we have Dve Crne Ruze (Две Црне Руже), or “two black roses”, another Doom Metal extravaganza led by Branislav’s deep roars while Honza keeps pounding his drums in the name of darkness. Then after the short and sweet instrumental interlude Uteha (Утеха), or “consolation”, Branislav returns with his visceral riffage in Jutro Poslednjeg Dana (Јутро Последњег Дана), or “the morning of the last day”, darkening the skies even more in the name of Melodic Doom and Death Metal. Furthermore, it’s breathtaking to see how the duo is capable of sounding so heavy and serene at the same time, resulting in a multi-layered composition perfect for that type of slow and steady headbanging that’s characteristic of Doom Metal. Lastly, closing such somber album it’s time for Zauvek (Заувек), or “forever”, starting in a mesmerizing, enfolding manner before exploding into more of the project’s doomed sounds, with Branislav and Honza being in absolute sync from start to finish while Branislav’s anguished growls reach a whole new level of obscurity.

In case you would like to add the darkness and beauty of the music found in Uvod… to your personal collection, you can grab a copy of the album from Tishina’s own BandCamp page, from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, or from the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page, bringing an endless dosage of pure doom to your avid ears. I always find it impressive when a musician like Branislav can generate distinct, top-notch music such as with his two projects Bane and now Tishina, not only proving how talented and creative he is, but also providing us with double the awesomeness in the world of heavy music. And may Uvod…, just like the name of the album already says, be just the introduction to the amazing world of doom ruled by Branislav and his Tishina.

Best moments of the album: Iz Mrtvog Ugla [Из Мртвог Угла] and Jutro Poslednjeg Dana [Јутро Последњег Дана].

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Hypnotic Dirge Records/Satanath Records/The End of Times Records

Track listing
1. Iz Mrtvog Ugla [Из Мртвог Угла] 8:01
2. Dve Crne Ruze [Две Црне Руже] 5:55
3. Uteha [Утеха] 0:48
4. Jutro Poslednjeg Dana [Јутро Последњег Дана] 6:13
5. Zauvek [Заувек] 8:49

Band members
Branislav Panić – vocals, guitars, bass
Honza Kapak – drums

Concert Review – Arch Enemy & Behemoth (Rebel, Toronto, ON, 04/25/2022)

A night of rain, insanity, blasphemy and, above all that, first-class Heavy Metal for the delight of thousands of metalheads in Toronto.

OPENING ACTS: Unto Others and Napalm Death

Despite the heavy rain that decided to hit Toronto only a couple of hours before the fantastic tour named The North American Siege 2022 took the city by storm, the venue chosen for such metal attack, the spacious Rebel, was almost packed already when the first band of the night hit the stage exactly at 6:30pm, American Heavy Metal/Gothic Rock act UNTO OTHERS, and let me tell you I feel a little ashamed for not knowing those guys before last night. Promoting their 2021 opus Strength, vocalist and guitarist Gabriel Franco and his henchmen put on a sensational show, with songs such as Give Me to the Night, Summer Lightning and When Will God’s Work Be Done inspiring all fans to dance, slam into the pit, or simply raise their horns in the name of Rock N’ Roll. It was a short and sweet performance by such talented band, and I hope to see them again in Toronto (or anywhere else in the world) in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
Subdivisions (Rush song)
Heroin
Give Me to the Night
No Children Laughing Now
Can You Hear the Rain
Nightfall
Summer Lightning
When Will God’s Work Be Done

Band members
Gabriel Franco – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Sebastian Silva – guitars
Brandon Hill – bass
Colin Vranizan – drums

Right after a bathroom/beer break (not necessarily in this order), it was time for the iconic Barney Greenway and his Grindcore/Death Metal institution NAPALM DEATH to show Toronto what noise is all about for the delight of admirers of the heaviest and most demented side of music who attended the concert. Having released earlier this year the album Resentment Is Always Seismic – A Final Throw of Throes, the band was on absolute fire from start to finish, with Shane Embury and John Cooke hammering their respective bass and guitar mercilessly throughout their entire set. Amidst a hurricane of infernal tunes the likes of Fuck the Factoid, Contagion, Scum and the one-second masterpiece You Suffer, Barney had time to distill his opinion about controversial topics such as illegal immigration, being always of course on the side of the less fortunate. Closing their boisterous setlist, the band smashed our faces with their rendition of Dead Kennedys’ all-time classic Nazi Punks Fuck Off, sending a message of love and peace, and warning us it won’t take long for those four British noisemakers to return to our beloved city.

Setlist
Unchallenged Hate
Fuck the Factoid
Backlash Just Because
Hung
Contagion
Continuing War on Stupidity
Everyday Pox
Invigorating Clutch
Suffer the Children
Breed to Breathe
Scum
Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
You Suffer
Smash a Single Digit
Deceiver
Dead
Nazi Punks Fuck Off (Dead Kennedys cover)

Band members
Mark “Barney” Greenway – vocals
John Cooke – guitars
Shane Embury – bass, backing vocals, noises, effects
Danny Herrera – drums

ARCH ENEMY

Precisely at 8:35pm Sweden’s own Melodic Death Metal army ARCH ENEMY (although we can say the band is now 60% Swedish, 20% American and 20% Canadian) hit the stage and delivered exactly what the crowd wanted, which was a fusion of some of their best classics with the new songs Deceiver, Deceiver, House of Mirrors and Handshake With Hell, from their upcoming album Deceivers (to be released in July), spearheaded by the unstoppable Alissa White-Gluz and, of course, by one of the best guitarists of the Scandinavian metal scene, Mr. Michael Amott. It was clear in their faces how much they missed playing in front of an audience during the pandemic, in special Alissa who always gets very emotional when playing for her Canadian “family”, which translated into sheer adrenaline for our vulgar delectation. As a longtime fan of the band I was obviously more inspired to bang my head to songs such as Ravenous, Dead Bury Their Dead and Nemesis, but I must say their entire performance was awesome. How long will we have to wait to see Alissa and the boys again in Toronto? Massive circle pits like the ones we witnessed yesterday are not created out of silence, you know. We need Arch Enemy!

Setlist
Set Flame to the Night
Deceiver, Deceiver
The World Is Yours
Ravenous
War Eternal
My Apocalypse
House of Mirrors
The Eagle Flies Alone
As the Pages Burn
Handshake With Hell
Dead Bury Their Dead
Nemesis
Fields of Desolation (Outro)
Enter the Machine

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars, backing vocals
Jeff Loomis – lead guitars, backing vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

BEHEMOTH

And at 10:05pm the gates of hell opened once again and the almighty Blackened Death Metal horde BEHEMOTH emerged from the underworld with another flawless and very theatrical performance, darkening the skies of Toronto and putting a huge, devilish smile on the faces of everyone at Rebel (at least on the faces of the ones not wearing masks). Kicking off their demonic concert with one of my favorite Behemoth songs of all time, the incendiary Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer, the multi-talented Nergal, Seth, Orion and Inferno did not disappoint their fans, sounding utterly heavy, dark and blasphemous until the very last second. Their brand new song, entitled Ov My Herculean Exile, from their upcoming (and still untitled) new album, sounded amazing live, but of course there’s nothing like raising our horns in the name of evil to masterpieces such as Ov Fire and the Void, Christians to the Lions, Chant for Eschaton 2000, and the hymn to Satan himself, O Father O Satan O Sun!, proving why Behemoth are one of the best and most obscure bands of the current metal scene. And when the night was over and those Polish blasphemers left the stage, it was time for us Torontonians to keep some of that darkness inside our hearts, face the cold and rainy weather outside again, and return to our lairs waiting for the next time Behemoth come back to crush the infidels in Toronto with their undisputed music.

Setlist
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Wolves ov Siberia
Ov Fire and the Void
Evoe
Christians to the Lions
Bartzabel
Conquer All
Ov My Herculean Exile
Decade of Therion
Slaves Shall Serve
Chant for Eschaton 2000
O Father O Satan O Sun!

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

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Album Review – Gorebringer / Terrified Beyond Measure (2022)

Behold the sophomore opus by an international entity that’s back from the underworld, offering us more of their blackened yet technical Melodic Death Metal with gory themes.

Almost three years after the release of their debut effort A Craving For Flesh, the infernal, multi-national outfit known as Gorebringer is back with more of their Melodic Death Metal with gory themes in the form of their sophomore album, entitled Terrified Beyond Measure. Produced by the band itself, mixed and mastered at Tide Studio in London, England, and displaying an old school cover art by Delic Saike, Terrified Beyond Measure represents a step forward in the band’s career, currently comprised of Serpent on vocals, Kaz “Stench” B on guitars and bass, and guests Krzysztof Klingbein on drums and Burak Ulugüney on keyboards and synths, showcasing an “evilution” in their slightly blackened and somewhat technical sound, but melodic and yet dirty at the same time, being therefore recommended for fans of At The Gates, Death and Dissection, among several others.

Arising from the underworld, the quartet begins blasting their instruments with sheer violence and hatred in The Bottomless Pit, where Serpent sounds beyond bestial on vocals supported by the pulverizing drums by Krzysztof, or in other words, a perfect and devilish way to kick things off; whereas keeping the level of adrenaline extremely high it’s time for Man To Beast, another high-octane, pulverizing feast where Stench is on fire armed with his sharp riffage and rumbling bass lines, while Burak keeps the atmosphere as grim as possible with his spot-on keys and synths. Then we have the title-track Terrified Beyond Measure, bringing to our ears a full-bodied sonority alternating between galloping drums and bass and pure dementia with Serpent roaring manically nonstop, and like a stone crusher from hell Krzysztof will demolish our senses in The Evil Ones, providing Stench all he needs to slash our ears off with his beyond strident guitar lines in a lecture in contemporary Melodic Death Metal with a visceral Black Metal twist.

The instrumental interlude Moon Circle sets the stage for the band to demolish our senses once again with A Blackened Circle, an Arch Enemy/In Flames/Soilwork-inspired extravaganza showcasing piercing riffs, pounding drums and the always venomous gnarls by Serpent. It’s indeed a solid and entertaining tune albeit losing some of its punch after a while, though, whereas Necro Mess is a thrilling instrumental creation by Gorebringer where Stench delivers an amazing performance on the guitar supported by the blast beats by Krzysztof, resulting in a sonic hurricane that will please all fans of the genre and generate intense mosh pits if played live one day. Finally, closing such infernal album of Melodic Death Metal we have Flesh Feast, sounding fast and furious just the way we like it with Serpent’s growls making a brutal paradox with the crisp, melodic guitars by Stench, leaving us eager for more of their music in a not-so-distant future.

As aforementioned, the pulverizing Terrified Beyond Measure, which is by the way available in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, represents a huge improvement in the sound by Gorebringer, and you can put your dirty hands on that album by purchasing it from the Great Dane Records’ BandCamp page or from Apple Music. Don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, keeping in mind that gore is their business (and business is good), which means unless you have what it takes to face their evil Melodic Death Metal, you’ll become an easy prey to them.

Best moments of the album: The Bottomless Pit, The Evil Ones and Necro Mess.

Worst moments of the album: A Blackened Circle.

Released in 2022 Great Dane Records

Track listing
1. The Bottomless Pit 4:06
2. Man To Beast 4:49
3. Terrified Beyond Measure 5:49
4. The Evil Ones 4:25
5. Moon Circle 0:59
6. A Blackened Circle 4:47
7. Necro Mess 3:38
8. Flesh Feast 5:45

Band members
Serpent – vocals
Kaz “Stench” B – guitars, bass

Guest musicians
Krzysztof Klingbein – drums
Burak Ulugüney – keyboards, synths

Album Review – Haunted By Silhouettes / No Man Isle EP (2022)

Hailing from Norway, this unrelenting Melodic Death Metal squad is unleashing upon humanity a short and sweet EP destined to leave their listeners with a deadly taste for more.

Formed in 2013 in the city of Trondheim, Norway, the beautifully named Melodic Death Metal outfit Haunted By Silhouettes is unleashing upon humanity a new EP entitled No Man Isle, a short and sweet follow-up to their 2019 album The Last Day on Earth. Comprised of vocalist Mathias Jamtli Rye, guitarists Per Kristian Grimsland and Stian Hoel Fossen, bassist Ola Nilsen Kjøren, and drummer Håvard Bustad, the band is destined to leave their listeners with a deadly taste for more (along with necks bursting with pain) after listening to their new effort, portraying a style that is an actual evolution of what was once referred to as Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal or once proudly called Gothenburg Death Metal.

And the cinematic intro Departure sets the stage for the quintet to crush our souls in Flock, starting in full force to the infernal growling by Mathias while Ola hammers his bass majestically. In other words, it’s Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal infused with the most visceral elements from Groove Metal, resulting in a true headbanging composition for admirers of the genre. Then we have Selkie, featuring guest vocals by the one and only Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), who makes a powerful duet with Mathias while the band makes sure the atmosphere remains dense and enfolding from start to finish in a great display of Melodic Death Metal. Putting the pedal to the metal it’s time for Icon, where Per and Stian extract sheer electricity and rage form their stringed axes while Håvard “gently” invites us all to slam into the circle pit to the sound of his furious beats; whereas the guitars by Per and Stian continue to embellish the airwaves in the title-track No Man Isle while Mathias roars and growls in anger nonstop, supported by the classy, rhythmic drums by Håvard and, therefore, sounding heavy and melodic at the same time just the way we like it.

The talented and unstoppable Norwegian metallers from Haunted By Silhouettes are waiting for your feedback on Facebook and on Instagram, where of course you can get to know more about the band, their tour dates and plans for the future, and don’t forget to also stream their music on Spotify as many times as you want, and to obviously purchase or stream No Man Isle from your favorite retailer or service by clicking HERE. As already mentioned, the EP might be short in duration, but that didn’t stop the band from delivering tons of awesomeness in the form of their classic Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal, warming us up for their upcoming full-length album which might not have a release date yet, but we know it’s going to be marvelously violent and melodic.

Best moments of the album: Flock and Icon.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Departure 0:26
2. Flock 3:02
3. Selkie 3:24
4. Icon 4:16
5. No Man Isle 5:16

Band members
Mathias Jamtli Rye – vocals
Per Kristian Grimsland – guitar, vocals
Stian Hoel Fossen – guitar
Ola Nilsen Kjøren – bass
Håvard Bustad – drums

Guest musician
Björn “Speed” Strid – vocals on “Selkie”

Album Review – Once Human / Scar Weaver (2022)

One of the most distinctive and destructive metal bands of the modern era strikes again with a breathtaking new opus, showcasing their own mutation into an even more devastating beast.

Formed in 2014 in Los Angeles, California, in the United States by guitarist Logan Mader (Machine Head) and vocalist Lauren Hart, the ruthless Groove Metal act known as Once Human has steadily established themselves as one of the most distinctive and destructive metal bands of the modern era. Now in 2022, Logan and Lauren, together with guitarist Max Karon, bassist Damien Rainaud and drummer Dillon Trollope, are ready to kill once again with Scar Weaver, their third full-length album following up on the highly acclaimed releases The Life I Remember (2015) and Evolution (2017), showcasing the band’s own mutation into an even more devastating beast. “It was not an easy path to reach this point, I’ll tell you that,” says Logan Mader. “The original masterplan for the band was really passion-project driven. The first two albums, we were still finding our way. Where we’re at now is with a really strong posture and by far the best album we’ve done. Over the years we’ve done a lot of groundwork and some smaller tours, just grinding things out, sometimes even in a DIY fashion. But now we have legit team around us, the band is firing on all cylinders and everything seems to be lining up this time.”

Dillon begins smashing his drums mercilessly in Eidolon, with Logan and Max extracting sheer violence from their guitars, all of course spiced up by the venomous roars by our she-demon Lauren. Needless to say, it will be an awesome opener for their live concerts. Then we have the menacing Deadlock, featuring Robb Flynn of Machine Head, who makes a pulverizing duo with Lauren on vocals in a modern-day Melodic Death Metal feast with Metalcore nuances, or in other words, a true headbanger by Once Human; followed by the title-track Scar Weaver, which sounds more devilish and darker than its predecessors with Damien hammering his bass nonstop, adding endless groove to the band’s core sonority (not to mention how sharp the riffage by the band’s guitar duo feels). After that the band brings forward Bottom Feeder, sounding infernal and utterly heavy from the very first second while presenting another great job done by Logan and Max with their riffs and solos. Moreover, the metallic bass jabs by Damien will knock you out in the name of Groove Metal, and you better get ready to slam into the circle pit like a true metalmaniac in Where The Bones Lie, with Lauren stealing the show with her flammable growls and vociferations while Damien and Dillon make the earth tremble with their evil kitchen.

More introspective and somber than the rest of the album, Erasure showcases the band’s trademark sound with its first half feeling a little bland while the second half gets back to their usual sonic devastation. And the massive bass lines by Damien attack our senses once again in Deserted, accompanied by the sick, razor-edged riffs by Logan and Max. The high-octane We Ride is a brutal, hellish and absolutely aggressive display of Groove Metal by the band where Lauren is on fire from start to finish, supported by the demented drums by Dillon, whereas in Cold Arrival we’re treated to poetic lyrics growled by Lauren (“I ran so blind / Into the blades of your life / Gray and disguised / And peeled my eyes / As they unfurled”) amidst another thunderous display of Groove and Melodic Death Metal. Lastly, Lauren keeps vociferating wicked words (“No shoulder that won’t cut like a blade / When they’re cold / Turned their backs / I beg them to take your words / Off my chest, take them / Take your worth from my headache / In death”) in Only In Death, putting a beyond sinister ending to the album.

When Logan mentioned Scar Weaver is their strongest album to date he was not joking nor exaggerating at all. Scar Weaver is indeed a powerful and very detailed album of modernized metal music where all band members are in absolute sync until the very last second, providing us fans a very good reason to raise our fists and bang our heads in the name of Heavy Metal. Hence, don’t forget to give Once Human a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to stream all of their awesome creations on Spotify, and to obviously purchase your copy of Scar Weaver by clicking HERE or HERE. Blessed (or perhaps cursed) with plenty of additional time during the last year’s lockdown situation, Once Human have been able to refine and redefine their sound in Scar Weaver, turning the band into one of the driving forces of modern-day heavy music and, consequently, inviting us all to rock like there’s no tomorrow with Logan, Lauren & Co. for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Deadlock, Where The Bones Lie and We Ride.

Worst moments of the album: Erasure.

Released in 2022 earMUSIC

Track listing
1. Eidolon 4:06
2. Deadlock 3:39
3. Scar Weaver 4:36
4. Bottom Feeder 5:21
5. Where The Bones Lie 3:50
6. Erasure 5:01
7. Deserted 4:13
8. We Ride 2:50
9. Cold Arrival 4:20
10. Only In Death 5:14

Band members
Lauren Hart – vocals
Logan Mader – guitars
Max Karon – guitars
Damien Rainaud – bass
Dillon Trollope – drums

Guest musician
Robb Flynn – additional vocals on “Deadlock”

Album Review – Infected Rain / Ecdysis (2022)

One of the most prominent bands of the current Metalcore scene returns with an incendiary new album, showcasing their own metamorphosis while blending extreme, progressive groove with dark, haunting melodies.

Since forming in 2008, Chișinău, Moldova-based Progressive Modern Metal outfit Infected Rain has become one of the most exciting new acts in the heavy music world, with multi-talented frontwoman Elena “Lena Scissorhands” Cataraga emerging as one of the fastest-rising leading ladies of the genre. Now, after amassing a slew of new fans since the release of their acclaimed albums Asylum (2011), Embrace Eternity (2014), 86 (2017), and more recently Endorphin (2019), the band redefined themselves with their highly anticipated follow-up opus, the futuristic rebirth entitled Ecdysis. Currently comprised of the aforementioned Lena Scissorhands together with guitarists Vadim “Vidick” Ojog and Serghei Babici, bassist Vladimir Babici and drummer Eugen Voluta, Infected Rain showcases their own metamorphosis in Ecdysis while blending extreme, progressive groove with dark, haunting melodies. Produced by Voluta Valentin, Ecdysis successfully demonstrates the ultramodern brutality from Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore without sacrificing emotion and melody, displaying a new layer of Infected Rain that longtime followers and new fans alike will embrace.

Futuristic waves permeate the air in the opening track Postmortem Pt. 1, a song that flawlessly represents the band’s current sound with Lena starting her she-wolf vocal attack accompanied by the metallic bass by Vladimir; whereas Fighter is modern-day Metalcore at its finest, sounding heavy, ethereal and sinister at the same time with the band’s guitar duo Vidick and Serghei slashing their stringed axes in great fashion. And Vladimir and Eugen keep hammering their respective bass and drums in Longing, another puissant Metalcore extravaganza where Lena alternates between her beastly roars and her mesmerizing clean vocals, followed by Goodbye, a solid tune by Infected Rain bringing forward their trademark riffs, bass lines and pounding drums. Featuring the one and only Heidi Shepherd of Butcher Babies, the stunning The Realm of Chaos “was inspired by the massive depression we all lived in 2020. Dedicated to the lost nation and confused society we live in,” commented Lena herself. Musically speaking, it’s a fierce exhibit of the band’s core sonority with Lena and Heidi being on absolute sync from start to finish; and let’s keep banging our heads together with Lena and the boys in Everlasting Lethargy, with its second half lacking an extra kick, albeit still being a very entertaining song.

Lena’s sexy and whimsical vocals will penetrate deep inside your psyche in These Walls, supported by the disruptive guitar lines by Vidick and Serghei. It should sound amazing if they decide to add it to their live performances, I might say, and more of their unparalleled music comes in the form of Showers, with Lena once again stealing the spotlight with a spot-on vocal performance, not to mention all of the song’s stunning background elements. Then electronic sounds kick off the dancing tune November, evolving into a violent display of Metalcore by the quintet with the razor-edged sound of the guitars bringing an extra touch of darkness to the overall result; whereas blending hints of Groove Metal to their core essence it’s time for the visceral Never the Same, also presenting smooth, gentle passages to the gorgeous clean vocals by Lena and, therefore, resulting in a multi-layered creation that will please all fans of the band. Nine, Ten is one of Infected Rain’s trademark dark ballads, offering us all a hypnotizing sound flirting with New Wave music while making the band’s Alternative Rock and Metal vein pulse stronger, sounding beautiful and enfolding until the very last second. Finally, Postmortem Pt. 2 intentionally closes the circle in Ecdysis, continuing the more atmospheric path of the previous song and focusing on Lena’s passionate vocals while also presenting the heaviness of pure Metalcore thanks to the crushing beats by Eugen and the thunderous bass by Vladimir.

Lena and the boys are waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on VKontakte to know what you think about Ecdysis, which is by the way available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their sick videos, making of’s and so on, and above all that, to grab your copy of their incendiary new opus by clicking HERE. As already mentioned, Infected Rain nailed it with Ecdysis by smoothly blending the brutality and rage of heavy music with gentle nuances of electronic and futuristic sounds, placing them as one of the most prominent names of the current Metalcore scene and, therefore, pointing to an even more exciting road ahead of such distinguished Moldovan band.

Best moments of the album: Fighter, The Realm of Chaos and Never the Same.

Worst moments of the album: Everlasting Lethargy.

Released in 2022 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Postmortem Pt. 1 4:59
2. Fighter 5:05
3. Longing 5:14
4. Goodbye 5:28
5. The Realm of Chaos 3:44
6. Everlasting Lethargy 4:13
7. These Walls 4:01
8. Showers 4:29
9. November 4:00
10. Never the Same 3:00
11. Nine, Ten 5:17
12. Postmortem Pt. 2 5:16

Band members
Elena “Lena Scissorhands” Cataraga – vocals
Vadim “Vidick” Ojog – guitars
Serghei Babici – guitars
Vladimir Babici – bass
Eugen Voluta – drums

Guest musician
Heidi Shepherd – vocals on “The Realm of Chaos”

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021

“I wanted to play drums because I fell in love with the glitter and the lights, but it wasn’t about adulation. It was being up there playing.” – Charlie Watts

And there goes another year without a single metal concert in Canada. Another year full of uncertainties, fears, polarization, restrictions, and everything else we “love” so much. I honestly don’t know what to say about 2021 apart form the fact it was undoubtedly much better than 2020, but that means nothing considering the total nightmare that 2020 was. We lost a lot of huge names in the rock and metal scene such as Joey Jordison, Dusty Hill, Mike Howe, Johnny Solinger, Marsha Zazula, Alexi Laiho, John Hinch, John Lawton, Charlie Watts and Hank Von Hell, among many others. Tons of festivals including Download, Wacken Open Air, Hellfest, Bloodstock Open Air, Sweden Rock Festival and Dynamo MetalFest were scheduled to return this year after the 2020 editions of those festivals were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but unfortunately Sweden Rock, Hellfest, Download and Wacken Open Air were once again cancelled. With that said, why do we metalheads still believe in a better future? Is it because, despite all adversities, our favorite bands released some of their best albums from the past few years?

Hence, as new lockdowns are being imposed upon us in a never-ending pandemic loop, there’s not much we can do but enjoy The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, keeping us sane until this madness is finally over. Or maybe I should say if it will be over one day, of course. There’s a bit of everything for all types of fans, from classic Heavy Metal to the brutality of Death Metal, from the modern nuances of Melodic Death Metal to old school Thrash Metal, and so on, and in my humble opinions one of the most interesting facts about several albums launched in 2021 is their duration, with many of those surpassing the one hour barrier such as Senjutsu, Helloween, Persona Non Grata, Existence Is Futile and Blood on Blood, not to mention the over four hours of music from the Lordiversity boxset, which for me proves how much the bands responsible for those albums love their fans by offering them a lot of new music to enjoy during such difficult times. I would say that even if there are ZERO metal albums launched in 2022, we’ll still have a lot of great music to enjoy throughout the year thanks to all the amazing records released in 2021, don’t you agree?

1. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu (REVIEW)
Behold another masterpiece by the one and only Iron Maiden with its 82 minutes of tactics, strategy, war, resilience and determination.
Best song of the album: Hell on Earth

2. Helloween – Helloween (REVIEW)
A dream come true for all generations of “Happy, Happy Helloween” fans from all over the world.
Best song of the album: Skyfall

3. Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon (REVIEW)
It’s time to join Trivium in the court of the dragon to the sound of their magnificent new opus.
Best song of the album: Like a Sword Over Damocles

4. Exodus – Persona Non Grata (REVIEW)
Don’t be a “persona non grata” in the world of heavy music and get into the circle pit to the sound of this newborn thrashing beast.
Best song of the album: Lunatic-Liar-Lord

5. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined (REVIEW)
State of the art Death Metal played with passion and breathless precision by the most violent and unrelenting band of all time.
Best song of the album: Surround, Kill, Devour

6. 1914 – Where Fear and Weapons Meet (REVIEW)
Ukraine’s own doom infantry is back into the battlefield with another masterpiece, telling the gruesome tales of World War I.
Best song of the album: Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines)

7. Motorjesus – Hellbreaker (REVIEW)
Let’s drive through the fires of hell together with one of the best bands from the German rock and metal scene.
Best song of the album: Hellbreaker

8. Nervosa – Perpetual Chaos (REVIEW)
A deadly and thrashing lesson in perpetual chaos by four metalheads hailing from Brazil, Italy, Spain and Greece
Best song of the album: Time to Fight

9. Gojira – Fortitude (REVIEW)
Let’s all face up the world to the sound of the new masterpiece by one of the most dynamic bands of the current metal scene.
Best song of the album: Amazonia

10. Blaze Bayley – War Within Me (REVIEW)
The man who will live for a thousand years is back, inspiring us all to fight the war within us and to take our future in our own hands.
Best song of the album: Pull Yourself Up

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Running Wild – Blood on Blood (REVIEW)
12. Lordi – Lordiversity (REVIEW)
13. Cradle of Filth – Existence Is Futile (REVIEW)
14. Diabolizer – Khalkedonian Death (REVIEW)
15. Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida (REVIEW)
16. Moonspell – Hermitage (REVIEW)
17. Lutharo – Hiraeth (REVIEW)
18. Unflesh – Inhumation (REVIEW)
19. Scarlet Aura – Genesis of Time (REVIEW)
20. Coiled Around Thy Spine – From The Ashes (REVIEW)

In addition to all that, let’s bang our heads with our Top 10 EP’s of 2021 to prove once and for all that not all great albums of the year have to be so long. The EP’s from this list are simply awesome, showcasing the band’s talent and their ability to sound epic even if the music lasts for only a few minutes.

1. Eonian – The Nomad (REVIEW)
2. Lady Beast – Omens (REVIEW)
3. The Agonist – Days Before the World Wept (REVIEW)
4. Tantivy – Eyes in the Night (REVIEW)
5. Grale – AGITACIÓN (REVIEW)
6. Bouquet of Dead Crows – Hemispheres Part 2: Cerebral (REVIEW)
7. Kadavereich – Radiance Of Doom (REVIEW)
8. Wolvencrown – A Shadow Of What Once Was (REVIEW)
9. Juliet Ruin – Dark Water (REVIEW)
10. Black Hole Deity – Lair Of Xenolich (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2021? Also, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC+2 on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show! And if you lost some or most of our special editions of The Headbanging Moose Show, including our Top 20 Underground Albums of 2021 – Parts I and II, go to our Mixcloud page and there you have hours and hours of the best of the independent scene, sounds good?

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2022!

And before I go, I’ll leave you with some touching words by Mr. Lordi and his crew of monsters…

Something something blah blah to you
All the sincere wishes come true
I put vengeance on my wish list
And that’s what Santa brought
So have a merry something and a happy blah blah blah

Album Review – Swallow The Sun / Moonflowers (2021)

Jyväskylä, Finland’s own Doom Metal unity returns with another stunning album, offering us all eight beautiful, captivating songs blooming in misery.

Formed in 2000 in Jyväskylä, Keski-Suomi, Finland by guitarist Juha Raivio, the five-piece Finnish Melodic Doom/Death Metal outfit Swallow The Sun has just unleashed upon humanity their new opus entitled Moonflowers, the eight in their undisputed career. Currently comprised of Mikko Kotamaki on vocals, Juha Raivio on the guitars and keyboards, Juho Raiha also on the guitars, Matti Honkonen on bass, and Juuso Raatkainen on drums, Swallow The Sun continue to pave the gloomy path of their previous album When a Shadow Is Forced into the Light (inspired by the loss of Juha’s life partner Aleah Stanbridge in 2016), offering fans of the most melodic side of doom eight beautiful, captivating songs in the span of over 52 minutes, being therefore the perfect soundtrack for the darkest days in your life.

The striking opening song Moonflowers Bloom in Misery is absolutely doomed from the very first second, with Mikko already delivering his melancholic, grim vocal lines accompanied by the sluggish beats by Juuso, exploding into a massive feast of Melodic Death and Doom Metal. Then in Enemy we’re treated to beautiful lyrics declaimed by Mikko (“I crawl back to my shadow / From the edge of the light / Deep down into the sea of my own rain sirens / In the eye of the… / Enemy, inside of me / Torn from a trail of light / Grail of serpents lies”) while Juho and Juha’s guitars make an interesting paradox with Juha’s own keys; followed by Woven into Sorrow, a lecture in darkness and sorrow by the band presenting gorgeous, serene guitar lines intertwined with sheer heaviness and whimsical background elements, also featuring guest backing vocals by Antti Hyyrynen from Stam1na. Not only that, t’s impressive how they manage to make their music epic and symphonic without losing their blackened core essence, which is also the case in Keep Your Heart Safe from Me, almost eight minutes of top-of-the-line doom showcasing infernal, headbanging sounds led by Juuso’s drums supported by the low-tuned bass by Matti while also presenting a more cryptic, delicate side of the band.

All Hallows’ Grieve features guest vocals by the stunning Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber), and she nails it with her soulful vocals (“Before I go, I’ll let you know / My heart was honest, for you / My heart was cruel / You believed / I’m a soul of a ghost to fight for / I believe, I believe, I lost my will to fight for”), resulting in a sensational doom aria, whereas drinking from the fountain of 80’s Gothic and Doom Metal it’s time for the enfolding and somber The Void, where Matti and Juuso once again generate a reverberating ambience with their respective weapons. The Fight of Your Life is another gentle and melancholic composition by Swallow The Sun which despite presenting all elements we love in their music is not as compelling as the rest of the album; and closing the album it’s time for an infernal composition titled This House Has No Home, where the keys by Juha walk hand in hand with both the clean vocals and the demonic roars by Mikko, putting a climatic and dark ending to the album.

In a nutshell, the very pleasant and obscure Moonflowers, which is available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, cements Swallow The Sun’s name as one of the best Doom Metal acts of the past 20 years while at the same time provides admirers of doom with something fresh, leaving us all eager for more of their stunning creations. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and so on, and obviously to grab your copy of Moonflowers by clicking HERE. Keep in mind that if you go for the mediabook or boxset edition of the album, it comes with a very beautiful bonus disc with classical versions of all songs of the album recorded at the Sipoo Church in Finland by Trio N O X, comprised of Aino Rautakorpi on violin, Helena Dumell on viola and Annika Furstenborg on cello, as for example their gorgeous rendition of the song All Hallows’ Grieve. And while the moonflowers keep blooming in misery, Swallow The Sun will continue to darken the skies with their classy Doom Metal for at least another 20 years.

Best moments of the album: Moonflowers Bloom in Misery, Woven into Sorrow and All Hallows’ Grieve.

Worst moments of the album: The Fight of Your Life.

Released in 2021 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Moonflowers Bloom in Misery 6:19
2. Enemy 5:39
3. Woven into Sorrow 7:46
4. Keep Your Heart Safe from Me 7:47
5. All Hallows’ Grieve 5:37
6. The Void 5:39
7. The Fight of Your Life 7:13
8. This House Has No Home 6:40

Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc (Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun)
1. Moonflowers Bloom in Misery (classical version) 4:52
2. Enemy (classical version) 3:06
3. Woven into Sorrow (classical version) 4:39
4. Keep Your Heart Safe from Me (classical version) 3:13
5. All Hallows’ Grieve (classical version) 4:58
6. The Void (classical version) 4:01
7. The Fight of Your Life (classical version) 4:16
8. This House Has No Home (classical version) 3:03

Band members
Mikko Kotamaki – vocals
Juha Raivio – guitars, keyboards
Juho Raiha – guitars
Matti Honkonen – bass
Juuso Raatkainen – drums

Guest musicians
Cammie Gilbert – vocals on “All Hallows’ Grieve”
Antti Hyyrynen – backing vocals on “Woven into Sorrow”
Jaani Peuhu – backing vocals
Aino Rautakorpi – violin on all classical versions from the Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc “Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun”
Helena Dumell – viola on all classical versions from the Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc “Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun”
Annika Furstenborg – cello on all classical versions from the Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc “Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun”

Album Review – Hand of Kalliach / Samhainn (2021)

Behold the debut full-length album by this rising metal duo, offering us all dual concepts of benevolence and malevolence, all against the backdrop of the history, mythology and land and seascapes of the Scottish islands.

Melding a passion for metal music with traditional Scottish folk elements, Edinburgh, Scotland-based Atmospheric Celtic Metal duo Hand of Kalliach (a name that comes from the legend of the “Cailleach”, a Scottish witch god of winter) has just unleashed their globally awaited debut effort entitled Samhainn, focusing on dual concepts of benevolence and malevolence, all against the backdrop of the history, mythology and land and seascapes of the Scottish islands. Mixed and mastered by Wynter Prior at Sphynx Studios, and displaying a stylish artwork by Brazilian artist VHummel (aka Vinicius Hummel), the album is a lecture in Scottish metal by the couple formed of Sophie Fraser on vocals and bass, and John Fraser on vocals, guitars and drums, drawing  inspiration from the rhythms, time signatures and patterns used in folk music and adapting them for distorted guitars. “We’re both extremely excited to be releasing our debut full-length, Samhainn. Named after the ancient Celtic festival of winter (pronounced “Sah-win”), this album represents a huge gear change in our writing and production from our initial work, bringing a darker and more aggressive energy to our hybrid sound of Melodeath and Folk Metal,” commented John about the duo’s newborn spawn.

The opening tune Beneath Starlit Waters is atmospheric and enfolding form the very first second, with Sophie mesmerizing us all with her gentle vocals before John comes crushing with his deep roars and blast beats in a more epic version of Melodic Death Metal. Then in Solas Neònach we face sheer poetry flowing from the song’s lyrics (“Wake / From dreaming / The warmth departs these shores / From eightfold crones the chants are heard / The sand inverted once again”) while John slashes his stringed axe in great fashion, supported of course by Sophie’s ethereal vocalizations, followed by Each Uisge (roughly pronounced “eyach oosh-keh”), which translates to “water horse”, a demon from Scottish mythology that disguises itself as a horse before binding its flesh to a rider and galloping into the sea to drown and devour them. Musically speaking, it’s another stunning musical voyage showcasing a breathtaking vocal duet, a galloping bass and blast beats for our total delight. John continues to growl like a demonic entity in Roil, a lot more inclined to contemporary Melodic Death Metal, with Sophie embellishing the airwaves with her clean vocals; whereas adding elements from Viking Metal to their core essence it’s time for another epic onrush of sounds by the duo titled Cinders, where Sophie and John are thunderous with their respective bass and drums.

Arising from the depths of the underworld amidst a serene and melancholic ambience, The Lull Of Loch Uigeadail presents a more tribal side of the duo filling our ears with Celtic sounds and tones, bringing peace to our hearts before all hell breaks loose in Ascendant, leaning towards classic Melodic Death Metal while Sophie and John make the perfect metal couple throughout the entire song, resulting in a hybrid of pure rage and madness with smooth and hypnotizing sounds. Òran Na Tein’-éigin brings forward a stunning vocal attack by both Sophie and John, with its visceral drums creating a beautiful paradox with all background elements, and the duo keeps hammering our souls with their Atmospheric Celtic Metal in Trial Of The Beithir-Nimh, a solid, headbanging composition presenting metallic bass lines by Sophie intertwined with the flammable riffage by John. Finally,  get ready for one last round of poetic words (“Lost / On waves / Of an endless sea / Under starlit skies / It returns to me”) in Return to Stone while the music sounds a lot heavier and more doomed than all previous songs, feeling like the band’s farewell and, as a consequence, putting a pensive conclusion to the album.

This beautiful and absolutely atmospheric album made in Scotland can be better appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your utmost support and admiration for such talented duo you can purchase a copy of Samhainn from the band’s own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album), and don’t forget to follow Hand of Kalliach on Facebook and on Instagram to know more about this up-and-coming Scottish entity. As the festival of Samhainn marks the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or “darker-half” of the year, there’s nothing better than listening to an album that perfectly depicts that change from light to darkness and all of its nuances, and we must thank Sophie and john for being able to generate that album with such high level of passion and musicianship.

Best moments of the album: Solas Neònach, Each Uisge and Ascendant.

Worst moments of the album: Cinders.

Released in 2021 Trepanation Recordings

Track listing
1. Beneath Starlit Waters 5:56
2. Solas Neònach 4:53
3. Each Uisge 5:01
4. Roil 3:28
5. Cinders 3:02
6. The Lull Of Loch Uigeadail 3:49
7. Ascendant 3:13
8. Òran Na Tein’-éigin 4:10
9. Trial Of The Beithir-Nimh 3:49
10. Return to Stone 5:21

Band members
Sophie Fraser – vocals, bass
John Fraser – vocals, guitars, drums