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”

Metal Chick of the Month – Haydee Irizarry

Blame the witch! Shame the witch! Hang the witch!

As the days are getting shorter and colder in the Northern Hemisphere, let’s warm things up here at The Headbanging Moose this November with the incendiary vocals and performance of our metal lady of the month, the multi-talented Haydee Irizarry, or Haydée Irizarry if you prefer. Vocalist for Melodic Groove/Death Metal act Carnivora, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and composer for Alternative Rock/Metal project Zahra Lux, and vocalist and composer for her own solo project, not to mention her six years as the vocalist for Melodic Death Metal outfit Aversed, Haydee owns a very potent and dynamic voice, delivering a wide range of styles that go from smooth, clean vocals to deep and visceral growls, positioning her as one of the most interesting names of the current American underground scene. Having said that, are you ready to know a little more about Haydee, her bands and projects, her influences, and her passion for all types of music?

Born on February 28, 1995 in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States, but currently residing in Salem, Massachusetts, and of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, Haydee graduated in 2013 from Lincoln Park High School in Chicago and then moved on to study jazz, classical and contemporary music writing and production at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts that same year, where she also became the lead singer for her classmates’ band Aversed. However, before we start talking about her professional career in music, let’s take a step back and go all the way to her childhood years, more specifically to when she was only four years old. At that age, Haydee received a keyboard that ignited her interest in studying and writing songs on the piano, while her grade school was a Lutheran school that introduced hymnals and sight reading to her and prompted her to join choirs at the age of eight, when she realized she had a natural talent and love for singing that was undeniable and she knew she wanted to be a vocalist. Not only a vocalist, but a metal vocalist, as while she remembers her family listened to everything from Redding’s soul to their Latin culture’s salsa when she was a kid in Chicago, she also became enchanted by Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal. When asked what attracted her to the harder stuff, she said metal offered release and salvation as she struggled with her parents’ divorce, an abusive brother and her mental health. “When I was getting started, I really connected to the aggression because of all the things I was feeling at the time,” she explained. “I was feeling a lot of dark, intense things that I didn’t really quite know how to express outside of music.” Then at the age of 16 she joined the Chicago School of Rock so she could perform and develop as a performing frontwoman, having also studied guitar, piano and bass through private teachers, and through that plus her choral experience she achieved many honors and had the ability to play Lollapalooza and many other local festivals in Chicago. She learned pop, rock, jazz, blues, metal and so on, all of which directed her to the Berklee College of Music, as already mentioned.

Since 2017, Haydee has been the voice of American Melodic Groove/Death Metal act Carnivora, with whom she has already recorded three singles, those being Bogdweller, in 2019, Witch City, in 2020, and more recently Hypnogenic, featuring guests Jon Donais (Anthrax, Shadows Fall) and Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall, Act Of Defiance). The band’s guitarist Cody Michaud believes Haydee is helping Carnivora evolve in a more sophisticated, more accessible, less testosterone-fueled direction, helping them transition their sound from Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal to a more groove-oriented Heavy Metal with Death Metal influences. “If you’re a fan of folk music, there’s folk metal, and there’s symphonic metal,” commented Haydee in one of her interviews. “It doesn’t have to be the Cookie Monster screams. It isn’t always aggressive. It can be very beautiful.” She also explained how she ended up becoming the band’s new vocalist a few years ago. “I had met the Carnivora members at an early Aversed gig and we had become friends and performed with each others bands’ many times. They were interested in transitioning their style and believed my vocal skills and personality was compatible and here we are!”

Speaking about Boston, Massachusetts-based Progressive/Melodic Death Metal act Aversed, Haydee was the band’s vocalist from 2015 until September 1, 2021, having recorded with the band their 2016 EP Renewal and the full-length opus Impermanent earlier in 2021, not to mention the live album Abandoned in Charlestown, released in August 2021. You can enjoy Haydee kicking some ass with Aversed in the official videos for the songs Laboratory, Impermanent, and Close My Eyes, or simply click HERE to enjoy the album in its entirety. When asked how she was invited to join Aversed, she said the band had been active since 2009, before she lived in Boston, and as she was attending Berklee College of Music she had met many local metal musicians and bands and had been referred to be their new vocalist and joined them in 2015. In addition, Haydee mentioned that she had studied gutturals before joining them and it proved to be a great transition to practice performing the new technique that she had been developing.

Apart from her time with Carnivora and Aversed, our beloved vocalist has also lent her beautiful voice to an array of distinct bands through the years, with the first ever metal band she was officially in, called Ephemeral Sunrise, being a huge learning experience as she was able to get a taste of where she needed to grow and what the local scene was like. Another amazing project she’s currently involved with is called Zahra Lux, which translates to “beautiful light” or “flower light”, combining classical, rock and blues music to form one heavy and delicate musical experience featuring gorgeous piano lines, soulful vocals and orchestral arrangements. “Before I went down the surprising road of melodic death metal and guttural vocals I had thought that I would strictly be a blues and heavy metal vocalist that would sound more like Evanescence, and other female fronted rock and metal bands,” said Haydee, having already released under her Zahra Lux project the EP’s The Deam (2018) and Rosewater (2020), and more recently the single Say No More, in August this year.

You can also enjoy Heydee’s powerful vocals in other bands and projects, such as Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal band Widows Rite, with whom she recorded the album Volume 1 back in 2018, and Queen Boudicca Metal Opera. Haydee has also been a guest in distinct albums by excellent underground bands, those being vocals on the song Shutter, from the 2020 EP Eulogy by American Gothic/Death/Doom Metal band Autumn’s Ashes; vocals on Per Erebus, from the 2018 album Per Erebus ad Astra by American Blackened Thrash Metal band Graviton; vocals as “The Soldier” on Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster, from the 2018 album Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster by American Power Metal band Helion Prime; and vocals on A Gathering of Storms, from the 2018 album Genetically Engineered to Enslave, by American Death Metal band Solium Fatalis.

As aforementioned, Haydee grew up listening to all kinds of music such as blues, classic rock, classical, and Latin music, but when the music in question is our beloved Heavy Metal her main influences range from Joe Duplantier of Gojira and Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy to all classic metal vocalists such as Dio, Ozzy and Rob Halford. Her first ever record which introduced her to heavy music was Fallen, by Evanescence, when she was eight years old, taking her down the rabbit hole that would eventually lead her to find Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and all of the icons of early metal, also delving into the early punk scene. Nowadays you can find pretty much anything on her playlist including Chelsea Wolfe, Bjork, Black Sabbath and At The Gates, as well as “guilty pleasures” such as Katy Perry, Sia and Lady Gaga, as long as it’s well-written pop music, of course. When asked which three songs would be perfect for someone listening to her for the first time, Haydee mentioned her cover versions for Sia’s Everyday is Christmas and Arch Enemy’s As The Pages Burn, plus Aversed’s Renewal, because they are diverse and represent her as she is now, still growing but slowly establishing a strong voice within the music industry. By the way, if you want to see how wide Haydee’s range can be and how eclectic her taste for music is, you can take a shot at her cover versions for Iron Maiden’s Hallowed Be Thy Name, Alanis Morissette’s Uninvited, Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel, and Prince’s Purple Rain, among several others on her personal YouTube channel.

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Absolutely engaged in the music no matter which band she’s in, Haydee not only has an incendiary voice, but her onstage performance is just as flammable and electrifying, earning her a few unique nicknames including Haydee the Hyena, Metal J.Lo and Metal Selena. “I love the Metal Selena and Metal J.Lo because I like to embrace my culture,” she said, “like wearing my hoops.” Furthermore, she mentioned in one of her interviews the importance of understanding R&B and classical music to become a better metal vocalist. “Both styles have extreme soul and depth that is definitely important in metal music in both style and vocal delivery. Having experienced performing many different songs with different stories and intentions I have a large understanding of what level of emotions, strength, and movements to deliver to any song to make it as effective as it can be. I couldn’t do that if those many styles had not molded my range to be the way it is now as well. Every life and musical experience finds itself in each new performance that you share and it’s really wonderful.”

Regarding touring, Haydee said that she dreams of touring the world with Carnivora and of being able to make a living from her art without having to work a day job. having already played in many small to large stages in a wide variety of local bars and clubs, she would also love to play some major festivals the likes of Maryland Death Fest, NAMM and SWSW, and return to Chicago Open Air, a festival that holds a spot in her heart. “At Chicago Open Air 2017 Aversed and I had performed on the last day alongside acts such as Slayer, Behemoth, and Ozzy Osbourne to name a few. Nearing the end of Ozzy’s set our tour bus crew was giving the band a last call to get on the bus or else it was leaving without us! My phone has been dead and I didn’t know. By the grace of the metal gods I ran into my band mates while I was getting a pretzel and ran back with them. Everyone was there besides our guitarist Sungwoo Jeong. After an awful 10 minutes of frantic calling, searching, and figuring out a way for him to fly back to Boston on his own, we searched the bus one last time and found he’d been asleep the whole time. I had immense luck and Sungwoo cracked us all up and it made one hell of a story.” In addition, her first metal experience as a vocalist was the Iron Maiden vs. Judas Priest show at the Chicago School of Rock in 2011, a huge moment for her because it had really transitioned her from a bedroom performer to a real one, pushing her to keep doing it.

As Carnivora is now a female-fronted metal band, Haydee was asked her opinion about the role of women in the current metal scene. She said that the face of metal is shifting a lot towards women, but the metal community still has a lot to learn and that can be frustrating, mainly because bands with female lead singers often get lumped together even if they’re creating radically different sub-styles, although she’s fine with the label “female-fronted metal”. In addition, she said that as a growing force, women get a lot of attention that may not be given as frequently to an all-male group because there is something different brought to the table that is intriguing. Women have the same depth and aggression as men, and to have an artistic platform to display that (as well as their delicate nature) is a new and amazing thing. The only disadvantage that she sees is the play on sexism and creating sex appeal that purposefully overshadows or interferes with the platform for ones natural talent. “Women work hard to do what they do and they do not need to hide behind sex appeal to be respected for their time, talent, and work. Knowing that and showing that is important,” commented Haydee.

Last but not least, Haydee also provided her comments about things that she learned recording new music during the COVID-19 pandemic, starting by saying how important it was for her to put a strong focus on songwriting, something that we all know cannot be done properly when the musician is on the road most of the time, saying the simplicity of “one-on-one” writing with guitarist Cody Michaud allowed them to present something more refined to the rest of the team. Secondly, she mentioned how hard the entire band worked on the recording process of their demos, saying she pushed herself to knock out vocal takes and stacked harmonies. Then Haydee moved on to talking about their jam sessions, how important it was for them to get back to practicing together as soon as it was safe to meet up, and how tighter their playing got after that, followed by how important it was to release new music during the pandemic even without being able to tour during that time. And last but not least, she mentioned a fun game Carnivora had during the video shoot for Hypnogenic, the first time they had to load in and get together since everything shut down, where each band member had to wear their newest Vans shoes acquired during quarantine and compare them. Let’s say this is indeed a very healthy competition for a group of metalheads eager to get back on the road, and those shoes are beyond awesome for any trip or for a demanding activity like kicking ass on stage, and we cannot wait to see Haydee and Carnivora eating our flesh alive during their upcoming concerts.

Haydee Irizarry’s Official Facebook page
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Haydee Irizarry’s Official Twitter
Haydee Irizarry’s Official YouTube channel
Carnivora’s Official Facebook page
Carnivora’s Official Instagram
Carnivora’s Official Twitter
Carnivora’s Official YouTube channel

“The face of metal is shifting a lot towards women and women from all different countries that look so different. It’s awesome to be a part of that change.” – Haydee Irizarry

Album Review – The Agonist / Days Before the World Wept EP (2021)

Canada’s own Melodic Death Metal beast returns with a new EP inspired by real life experiences, exploring a grim, conceptual tale of greed, gluttony, confusion, pain, redemption and hope.

After the excellent full-length albums Eye of Providence and Orphans (and the mediocre Five), Montreal, Canada-based Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore outfit The Agonist is back in 2021 with an amazing new EP beautifully titled Days Before the World Wept, taking another bold step in their musical and lyrical progression. Produced by Christian Donaldson at The Grid Productions (Beyond Creation, Cryptopsy, Despised Icon), Days Before The World Wept is inspired by real life experiences, exploring a grim, conceptual tale of greed, gluttony, confusion, pain, redemption and hope enveloped in a new level of aggression and cohesive, technical prowess carefully brought into being by frontwoman Vicky Psarakis, guitarists Danny Marino and Pascal “Paco” Jobin, bassist Chris Kells and drummer Simon McKay, therefore representing a new solid stone in the metallic castle of one of the most important bands of the Canadian metal scene.

Serene, melancholic piano notes ignite the Melodic Death Metal extravaganza titled Remnants in Time, where Vicky sounds like a she-wolf on vocals, growling like a demented creature while Simon hammers his drums mercilessly, or in other words, it’s old school The Agonist with a modern twist. Immaculate Deception is another shot of brutality and harmony by the quintet, with Danny, Pascal and Chris slashing their stringed weapons in great fashion, therefore putting us all to headbang nonstop; followed by Resurrection a solid metal tune where Vicky continues to shine with both her deep guttural roars and her piercing clean vocals, showcasing tons of intricacy and violence thanks to the rumbling kitchen by Chris and Simon. And the band’s guitar duo keeps extracting sheer electricity and darkness from their weapons while Vicky screams and sings beautifully in Feast on the Living, presenting a classic Melodic Death Metal sound infused with Metalcore elements, not to mention how vibrant the drums by Simon sound and feel. Lastly, the title-track Days Before the World Wept is the most demonic and heaviest of the EP, with Vicky being a beast incarnate on vocals, offering us all six minutes of savagery with the band’s trademark melody while bringing to our ears razor-edged riffs and crushing beats, all spiced up by a delicate and whimsical chorus.

In a nutshell, The Agonist nailed it with Days Before the World Wept, which is by the way available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, bringing to our avid ears the band’s full potential even being just a five-track EP, and you can show your support to Vicky and the boys by following them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and by purchasing the EP by clicking HERE, or in case you have some extra budget left I recommend you go for the outstanding Days Before the World Wept Immortal Bundle including a signed vinyl 45RPM, a signed CD, a signed 11×17 poster, a 4×4 sticker, a pullover hoodie, a stress ball, a bottle opener keychain, and a T-shirt (from five awesome choices). The days before the world wept might be long past us, but the music by The Agonist remains strong, heavy and thrilling just the way we like it in their new opus, paving the way for more of their first-class releases in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Remnants in Time and Days Before the World Wept.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Remnants in Time 4:53
2. Immaculate Deception 3:35
3. Resurrection 5:11
4. Feast on the Living 3:22
5. Days Before the World Wept 6:05

Band members
Vicky Psarakis – vocals
Danny Marino – guitar
Pascal “Paco” Jobin – guitar
Chris Kells – bass
Simon McKay – drums

Album Review – Trivium / In the Court of the Dragon (2021)

It’s time to join Trivium in the court of the dragon to the sound of their magnificent new opus.

“In the court of the dragon
Death of gods and world
In the court of the dragon
You will know your worth”

After getting back on track with their two previous albums, those being the excellent The Sin and the Sentence, released in 2017, and What The Dead Men Say, released in the beginning of 2020, Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal unity Trivium continues to deliver their trademark fusion of violence, speed and intricacy with their newborn spawn, beautifully titled In the Court of the Dragon, the tenth studio album in their beyond solid career. Produced by Josh Wilbur and mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, In the Court of the Dragon sounds and feels even better than its predecessors, proving the isolation during the pandemic was extremely productive for vocalist and guitarist Matt Heafy, guitarist Corey Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto, and drummer Alex Bent, who as I always like to say elevated Trivium’s sound to a whole new level after joining the band in 2017, and in their new album he sounds even more awesome than usual.

Composed and arranged by Emperor’s own Ihsahn, X is an epic, dark and cinematic intro that warms up our senses for the fulminating In the Court of the Dragon, where Matt begins screaming the song’s powerful lyrics (“In the court of the dragon / Death of gods and world / In the court of the dragon / You will know your worth”) accompanied by the headbanging riffs and beats by Corey and Alex, whereas an imposing start morphs into sheer adrenaline in Like a Sword Over Damocles, with Matt and Corey kicking ass on the guitars while Paolo makes the earth tremble with his bass jabs. Needless to say, Alex adds tons of intricacy and feeling to this already fantastic composition, turning it into my favorite of the entire album. Then we have Feast of Fire, the second single of the album and a solid, traditional Trivium song, albeit not as powerful as the rest of the album. Then it’s time for another frantic, high-octane creation by the quartet named A Crisis of Revelation, providing an excellent balance between their heaviest side and their more melodious, clean sounds, and if played live it will surely ignite some fun mosh pits during their live concerts.

In The Shadow of the Abattoir we’re treated to a gentle beginning to the deep, clean vocals by Matt, evolving into another complex Melodic Death and Heavy Metal feast spearheaded by Alex and his unstoppable drums and spiced up by their sick guitar solos; and more of their groovy sounds are offered to us all in the neck-breaking No Way Back Just Through, with Matt once again thriving with both his clean singing and enraged roars. A massive wall of sounds will hammer your head mercilessly in Fall Into Your Hands, even heavier and more detailed than its predecessors, where Matt screams nonstop from the bottom of his heart while his bandmates add elements from Progressive, Death and even Symphonic Metal to their core sonority. It looks like the guys form Trivium wanted to offer endless heaviness in their new album, and they more than succeeded in that as From Dawn to Decadence is another bestial Metalcore tune where Matt, Corey and Paolo are in absolute sync from start to finish with their infernal riffage and bass. Lastly, closing the album we face one final round of their trademark wicked lyrics in The Phalanx (“Within the thrill, amidst the kill / One against all, soon blood will spill / We cannot wait to make your pain / We are the burn inside your brain”) amidst a hurricane of heavy sounds that lasts for stunning seven minutes.

Trivium are a band that at the same respects their past while always looking towards the future, and In the Court of the Dragon (available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify) is the perfect depiction of that, pointing to an even brighter future ahead of those four talented metallers who are becoming one of the most important bands of the current scene worldwide. Hence, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube for news, tour dates, and more of their sick music and videos, and if you want to add the majestic In the Court of the Dragon to your personal collection, you can purchase it from their official webstore, or click HERE for several other places where you can buy the physical or digital copy of the album. As the lyrics to the title-track say, “in the court of the dragon you will know your worth”, and if you’re there to the sound of Trivium’s new album, you can rest assured the “dragon” will provide you with exactly what you deserve.

Best moments of the album: In the Court of the Dragon, Like a Sword Over Damocles, A Crisis of Revelation and Fall Into Your Hands.

Worst moments of the album: Feast of Fire.

Released in 2021 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. X 1:26
2. In the Court of the Dragon 5:09
3. Like a Sword Over Damocles 5:30
4. Feast of Fire 4:18
5. A Crisis of Revelation 5:35
6. The Shadow of the Abattoir 7:11
7. No Way Back Just Through 3:53
8. Fall Into Your Hands 7:45
9. From Dawn to Decadence 4:08
10. The Phalanx 7:15

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Guest musician
Ihsahn – orchestration and synths on “X”

Album Review – Primal Age / Masked Enemy (2021)

One of the trailblazers of Hardcore and Edge Metal in Europe returns with another furious album, again dealing with animal rights, vegetarianism, ecology, denunciation of overconsumption and abuse of power.

3.5rating

primal-age-masked-enemy-2021Bringing forward a furious mix of Heavy Metal and Hardcore since 1993 and still going strong, always with a lot of energy, passion and determination, and relentlessly presenting a strong critical view on the ugliest parts of our rotten society, Évreux, France-based Hardcore/Edge Metal unity Primal Age is back with more of their furious music in their new opus entitled Masked Enemy, the follow-up to their 2017 EP A Silent Wound. Refusing to hold back on themes like defense of animal rights, vegetarianism, ecology, denunciation of overconsumption and abuse of power, the band comprised of Didier on vocals, Benoit and Florian on the guitars, Dimitri on bass, and newcomer Miguel on drums goes once again straight to your jugular in their new album, with the crisp recording and mixing by Guillaume Doussaud at Swan Sound Studio, the awesome mastering by Alan Douches at West West Side Music, and the ass-kicking artwork by Visual Injuries (who have been working for the band for several years and know how to translate their music and lyrics into images), turning it into a must-have for fans of extreme music with a meaningful message.

Their political feast of heavy music begins with Intro & Wise Old Man, featuring an excerpt from 12-year old Severn Suzuki’s speech during the United Nation’s Earth Summit Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 (see the full video HERE), with sinister sounds growing in intensity until Didier comes growling manically supported by his bandmates, generating a sick atmosphere that lives up to the legacy of classic Hardcore. Then it’s time to slam into the pit to the vicious beats by Miguel and the always melodic but extremely austere riffage by Benoit and Florian in The Devil Is Hidden In Shadow, not to mention Didier sounds even more demented on vocals; followed by Adolescent Humanity, a fusion of Metalcore, Hardcore, Heavy Metal and classic Punk Rock that will invite you to crush your skull into the circle pit, with Dimitri and Miguel being on fire with their hellish kitchen. In The Two Heads Monster we’re treated to the acid lyrics barked by Didier (“Control of the living became an economic stake / Sectors collusion promises us the best / But it’s a dark future’s conjuring / Chemistry and Nature are not getting along”) amidst sheer violence in the form of old school Hardcore, whereas the title-track Masked Enemy reminds me of the music by The Exploited with hints of the Thrash Metal played by Slayer and Exodus, which obviously translates into pure awesomeness, while Miguel dictates the song’s visceral pace.

The frantic beats by Miguel, the intense riffs by Benoit and Florian, and endless electricity are the main ingredients in I Warn You, another excellent creation by Primal Age that will please all fans of the genre without a shadow of a doubt, while the semi-acoustic interlude The Downside Of Progress will capture your soul before the band comes ripping once again in Who Dares Wins, a smashing, in-your-face tune led by the infuriated roars by Didier displaying no shenanigans nor any artificial elements, just our good old Hardcore to make you crack your neck headbanging like a true beast. And get ready to be dragged into a hurricane of Metalcore and Hardcore to the incendiary guitars by Benoit and Florian in the high-octane tune Passion vs. Fashion, while Dimitri keeps hammering his bass nonstop. What a pulverizing composition, I might say, whereas the second to last explosion of their politics-infused metal music, entiled Blinded By Cruelty, brings to our ears another round of their wicked riffs and beats, all of course spiced up by the deep growling by Didier, before all comes to an end with the instrumental outro Awakening Of Consciousness, putting a serene, melancholic and climatic ending to the album.

primal-age-2021Masked Enemy is available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to properly show your support to Primal Age and join them in their fight against everything that’s wrong with our decaying society, you should definitely purchase the album from their Big Cartel in CD or vinyl, from the WTF Records webstore also as a CD or vinyl, from Coretex Records, from Apple Music, from Amazon or from Discogs, or simply click HERE for the digital version of the album. In addition, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube to stay up to date with all things Primal Age. Those French trailblazers of Hardcore and Edge Metal nailed it once again with their new album, and may their powerful message reach the four corners of the earth in hopes that we can all make the world a better place to live to the sound of their first-class music.

Best moments of the album: The Devil Is Hidden In Shadow, Masked Enemy and Passion vs. Fashion.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 WTF Records

Track listing   
1. Intro & Wise Old Man 4:24
2. The Devil Is Hidden In Shadow 3:12
3. Adolescent Humanity 2:22
4. The Two Heads Monster 3:16
5. Masked Enemy 3:14
6. I Warn You 3:14
7. The Downside Of Progress 1:09
8. Who Dares Wins 3:58
9. Passion vs. Fashion 3:16
10. Blinded By Cruelty 3:48
11. Awakening Of Consciousness 2:00

Band members
Didier – vocals
Benoit – guitars
Florian – guitars
Dimitri – bass
Miguel – drums

Album Review – Internal Conflict / A P O R I A (2021)

Over 40 minutes of first-class Metalcore made in the UK, delivering a deep exploration of modern metal whilst reflecting on society and what it is to be human in deeply challenging times.

3.5rating

internal-conflict-aporia-2021Following their 2018 EP Nothing Is Lost and continuing their progressive creativity and innovative take on Heavy Metal, A P O R I A, the sophomore opus by Leicester, England-based Metalcore/Thrash Metal outfit Internal Conflict, is part brutal, part melodic, delivering a deep exploration of modern metal whilst the lyrical themes reflect on society and what it is to be human in deeply challenging times. Mixed and mastered by Neil Hudson at Initiate Audio & Media Studios and displaying a stunning artwork designed by Domonic Sohor, A P O R I A is undoubtedly the band’s strongest effort to date, proving why vocalist Adam Kyle, guitarists Sean Rice and Matt Hall, bassist Dan Laffar and drummer Chris Bentley carved themselves a slot at the renowned Bloodstock Open Air next month.

Chris begins his metal attack from the very firs second in the awesome fusion of Metalcore and Thrash Metal titled Kingdom of Apathy, offering Adam all he needs to roar and scream manically, not to mention his clean vocals are also powerful and full of rage, whereas a serene intro quickly explodes into another feast of heavy riffs, crushing drums and visceral vocals in Paraesthesia, sounding very modern and thrilling and, therefore, resulting in a great option for banging our heads nonstop with the band. The quintet speeds things up a bit and gets heavier-than-hell in Atlas Down, with Adam’s vocals sounding even more demented while Sean and Matt slash their guitars mercilessly, supported by the classic bass lines by Dan; and Bleed the Sky is one more tune inspired by contemporary Metalcore that will please all fans of the genre, with the piercing sound of their guitars bringing endless heaviness to the final result, also showcasing an electrifying paradox between clean and harsh vocals.

Let’s keep cracking our necks headbanging to the pounding beats by Chris in Hollow Heart, also offering our ears those classic atmospheric and melancholic moments from Metalcore, followed by Traitorous, a good song where Internal Conflict keep delivering their trademark sound, but that lacks the violence and punch from its predecessors, sounding a bit repetitive after a while. Nothing that truly harms the album, though. The second to last blast of heavy music by those British metallers comes in the form of The Line, with Sean, Matt and Dan sounding venomous with their stringed weapons, once again generating a dense ambience for Adam to kill with his vile screams; and closing the album it’s time for a six-minute Metalcore journey infused with Thrash, Groove and Heavy Metal elements entitled Kayfabe, with the old school riffage by the band’s guitar duo walking hand in hand with the rhythmic beats by Chris.

internal-conflict-2021You can get to know more about Internal Conflict by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their official YouTube channel for more of their thrilling fusion of modern-day metal music with old school nuances, and above all that, show your support to UK’s underground by purchasing a physical copy of A P O R I A by clicking HERE or by purchasing a digital copy of the album or streaming it on your favorite platform by clicking HERE. If you’re attending Bloodstock Open Air this August, there you have a fantastic chance to witness Internal Conflict kicking some ass on stage playing several songs from A P O R I A live (as well as some of their previous creations), showing you why they can be considered one of the leaders of the Metalcore scene in their homeland and, of course, why we can rest assured we’ll hear a lot more from those British musicians sooner than we can imagine.

Best moments of the album: Kingdom of Apathy, Atlas Down and Kayfabe.

Worst moments of the album: Traitorous.

Released in 2021 PHD

Track listing 
1. Kingdom of Apathy 5:28
2. Paraesthesia 4:12
3. Atlas Down 4:29
4. Bleed the Sky 5:17
5. Hollow Heart 5:02
6. Traitorous 3:56
7. The Line 5:43
8. Kayfabe 6:10

Band members
Adam Kyle – vocals
Sean Rice – lead guitar
Matt Hall – rhythm guitar
Dan Laffar – bass
Chris Bentley – drums

Album Review – Hyperomm / In My Own Spaceship (2021)

Dealing with the conquest of space in different parts of history, the new and exciting album by this one-man army from Russia touches on historical facts and thoughts on the topic of our future.

3.5rating

hyperomm-in-my-own-spaceship-2021Dealing with the conquest of space in different parts of history, In My Own Spaceship, the third full-length opus by Moscow, Russia-based Melodic Death Metal project Hyperomm, following up on the success of the band’s 2019 album Transcendence, touches on historical facts and thoughts on the topic of our future, all taken from the innovative mind of the band’s founder, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Anton Trubin. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Anton himself, who was also responsible for all vocals, guitars, keys, sampling, lyrics, songwriting and the album’s artwork and design, In My Own Spaceship invites the listener for a metallic space journey together with Anton and session drummer Vladimir Fomenko (of bands like Lautreamont and Дебри), all embraced by a more futuristic version of the music played by renowned acts the likes of In Flames, At The Gates and Arch Enemy.

Rocket Scientist (1929) kicks off in full force to the sick blast beats by Vladimir and the always melodious but piercing riffs by Anton, resulting in a true headbanger that lives up to the legacy of Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal to set the tone in such futuristic album, followed by Hope Springs Eternal (2150),  where poetry flows from its lyrics (“Our fathers killed this place / Blood of their grandsons on their hands / We are looking for a clue / That will come to the rescue”) while the music blasted by Anton is imposing and epic from start to finish. Then guest vocalist Katerina Zabolotskaya brings a beautiful touch of finesse to Close Your Eyes (2151), where Anton once again slashes his guitar in great fashion accompanied by the thunderous beats by Vladimir in an amazing display of modern-day Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal, and there’s no time to breathe as our journey through space and time goes on in E Pur Si Muove! (1633), showcasing crisp, intricate riffs and drums while Anton growls and roars like a creature from outer space.

Investing in a more aggressive and demonic sonority, Anton and his Hyperomm put the pedal to the metal in Humanity’s Dream (1961), a great option for slamming into the pit in the name of metal and science, whereas a video game-inspired start explodes into first-class Melodic Death and Industrial Metal titled Emotional Anchors (2055), where once again Anton roars rabidly form start to finish while he delivers ass-kicking riffs and solos for our total delight. In Who Are on the Stars? (3000BC), get ready for another round of cryptic words declaimed by Anton (“Our grandfather’s fathers talked about the skies / That gods and our ancestors indwell there / They look onto us and guide our lives / Oh how we want to look at them”) amidst an intricate, Dream Theater-ish sound, while slowing things down a bit Anton fires Invention/Dissemination (2200), showcasing a heavier and darker atmosphere spiced up by Anton’s futuristic keys; however, it’s not as vibrant as the rest of the album. And lastly, we’re treated to the melancholic, pensive outro 13799000000 Years Ago, featuring arrangements by guest Alexander Glinsky and, therefore, putting a beautiful and climatic finale to In My Own Spaceship.

hyperomm-2021Anton’s journey through space and time can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your support to our dauntless Russian metaller you should purchase the album from his own BandCamp page, from the Soundage Productions’ webstore, from Apple Music, from Amazon or from Discogs. In addition, don’t forget to follow the project on Facebook, Instagram and VKontakte for all things Hyperomm, an to subscribe to his YouTube channel for more of his unique music. Having said all that, what are you waiting for to jump on Hyperomm’s spaceship and follow Anton on his wild quest through space? And instead of the silence found out there, you better be prepared for an overdose of first-class metal music by such creative and hardworking musician hailing from Russia.

Best moments of the album: Close Your Eyes (2151), Humanity’s Dream (1961) and Emotional Anchors (2055).

Worst moments of the album: Invention/Dissemination (2200).

Released in 2021 Soundage Productions

Track listing 
1. Rocket Scientist (1929) 5:03
2. Hope Springs Eternal (2150) 4:21
3. Close Your Eyes (2151) 4:53
4. E Pur Si Muove! (1633) 5:55
5. Humanity’s Dream (1961) 5:44
6. Emotional Anchors (2055) 5:13
7. Who Are on the Stars? (3000BC) 4:17
8. Invention/Dissemination (2200) 4:53
9. 13799000000 Years Ago 1:52

CD bonus track
10. We Made Because We Could 5:01

Band members
Anton Trubin – vocals, guitars, sampling, drums

Guest musicians
Vladimir Fomenko – drums (session)
Katerina Zabolotskaya – female vocals on “Close Your Eyes (2151)”
Alexander Glinsky – arrangements on “13799000000 Years Ago”

Metal Chick of the Month – Mikaela Attard

mikaela01

I flew high on black wings when death looked me closer in the eye…

The Headbanging Moose is about to become The RED-banging Moose this summer with our multi-talented, sunning and rebellious metal chick of the month of June, and you better get ready because she’s out for blood. I’m talking about Mikaela Attard, a vocalist, composer, lyric writer and producer hailing from the island of Malta, in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, with a wide vocal range that allows her to easily sing in multiple rock and metal styles, known in the metal community for her time with Maltese Extreme Metal act Martyrium and more recently for her wicked solo project MIKAELA. Born on May 8, 1993, Mikaela has been singing since the young age of eight, having actually started with classical singing training as well as classical piano training and examinations. In addition, she won the Pop Idol in Malta when she was 13 and released her first Alternative Rock EP Hear Me Out when she was 15, with all the singles from the EP getting constant airplay. Do you want more? Alright, here we go.

Having performed on several stages around Malta and overseas, including cities like Los Angeles and Boston, in the United States, and several European countries, Mikaela studied Vocal Performance on campus at Berklee College of Music in Boston and furthered her education with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Production with Summa Cum Laude, always attracted to the creation and production side of the music, and also getting into the science and engineering behind it as well as into Game Audio and Film Scoring. All that passion, talent and education resulted in multiple awards in her career, including Best New Artist in 2010, Best Female Artist and Malta’s Export Artist in 2011, Vodafone Upcoming Artist and Berklee College Singer-Songwriter, and Best Metal Band in 2019.

Let’s begin her journey in our Heavy Metal universe with her two-year stint with Martyrium (or MartYriuM), an Extreme Metal band from Malta formed by Count Mortem in 1999 with the spawn of the second wave of Black Metal, offering fans of extreme music a unique blend of Black and Death Metal with a specific sound design introducing sinister orchestrations and industrial elements to the style. Our red-haired diva began her time with Martyrium back in 2018, and Mikaela herself mentioned that it was a great learning experience in the beginning. However, as time passed by she started to feel very uncomfortable inside the band, stating that things got unacceptable literally, from the conditions how they treated her as a frontwoman and how they used her pictures, never wanting to hear what she had to say about those topics, leading to her departure form the band in 2020. It is what it is, unfortunately, because as you can see in some live videos such as Martyrium playing the song Curse Of Salvation at Oskorei Midvinter Festival in 2019 and the song Vital in Willemeen, Arnhem, Netherlands during the Female Metal Voices Tour 2018 with the Butcher Babies and Kobra and The Lotus, Martyrium kicked some serious ass with Mikaela fronting the band. Not only that, Mikaela had also been part of several collaborations such as Xirka Rock, and collaborated with the legendary multi-instrumentalist Marco Minnemann on his album My Sister on the songs My Sister and A Working Town. In addition, she was also a member of a metal band called Hex Omega during part of the 2010’s.

A few months after leaving Martyrium due to the personal issues listed above with the other band members, our Maltese metal goddess founded her stunning solo project MIKAELA, having already released her debut effort Nocturne In Red in 2020 alongside guitarist and bassist Kyle Farrugia (from Maltese metal band Align the Tide) and the aforementioned Marco Minnemann on drums, bringing to our ears an electrifying and sexy fusion of Metalcore, Deathcore, Progressive, Black, Death and Nu Metal, as you can see in the excellent song Chaotic Mind. According to Mikaela herself, Nocturne In Red is a conceptual album and also comes to terms with her personal experiences. “The concept of the album is about state of the mind. In fact, even it is even portrayed in the artwork on the album. I hold on a crystal ball and assigned to it the human brain. It is dripping black blood from it, and basically what it means is that it is about six different states of the mind and it is different how we perceive them, but sometimes we still are the same in the difference. So that is what it generally is about. All the songs are about a particular episode and that is what inspired me to write a particular song,” said Mikaela, complementing by explaining the idea behind the song Bring Me Blood. “That was inspired by an extreme event I went through in the past. I was the victim of an attempted murder here in Malta. I wrote that song in literally five minutes basically, it was just spitting out the words and music. It just came right on and that is why I decided that it should be the first single on the album, because it is so authentic. It is like: I left from somewhere over there. The song speaks about the anger I felt towards the situation and also towards the misunderstanding of court. I do not think it was well dealt in court, I think justice was not delivered.” And you can watch Mikaela discussing about that in an interview to Gabriel Gignac from Grizzly Media named 10 Bites of Nocturne In Red.

When asked about what us fans should expect from her first solo album, Mikaela explained how different the music style would be from her previous years with Martyrium. “My background of influences are quite different from Martyrium’s, although obviously there’s a lot of common favorites. I, however, like a more dynamic plateau of sounds and textures. I am a lot into deathcore, jazz, classical, electronic, groove and progressive music apart from all the metal in general. Obviously, I have a fond love for Black Metal and Death Metal too as well as all sorts of rock and metal in general. But I’m not quite a one kind of music-kind-of-girl. For that matter, I also love techno and industrial.” Regarding her main influences and idols, as expected she keeps getting inspired by a vast array of distinguished musicians and bands the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Metallica, Megadeth, Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, The Prodigy, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Opeth, Janis Joplin, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Lamb of God, Otep, Gojira, Slipknot, Thy Art Is Murder, Whitechapel, Jinjer, Bring Me The Horizon, Suicide Silence, Northlane, Chelsea Grin, Behemoth, After The Burial, Emmure, In This Moment, Arch Enemy, Wage War, ERRA and Ded, just to mention a few, which explains why the music found in her solo project is so difficult to label, so unique and diverse.

An accomplished vocalist, Mikaela can easily switch from clean singing to powerful growls and screaming vocals, and when asked about how she grew to like and practice this kind of singing and who were her heroes or inspirations that got her into that, she said that she’s a trained classical singer with a fond love for rock and metal who has always listened to those styles, having been introduced to them at a young age by her parents, and as her voice has always had sort of a rasp and natural scream it was a smooth transition for her to start doing guttural vocals. “My first experiences growling and screaming in public came gradually but once I launched some of the music at my debut, it was then official,” commented Mikaela, who’s also absolutely passionate about being on stage. “I must have been 9 singing in public, festivals, auditions, cathedrals, singing with organs and orchestras, stages, karaoke’s, we used to do it all the time when I was kid. It was fun. My first official outside country experience in public was singing in Johannesburg, South Africa though on a much larger scale and I loved it. I never feared the stage, can’t really say I got ever shy or anything… And I guess that still shows to this day.” And although she believes the pandemic might destroy metal music if nothing is done urgently, she understands the whole situation and keeps working off stage in anything that requires her attention. “We’re doing this massive sacrifice to help stop the spread of covid which now I don’t even know when that will ever stop but let’s hang on. When I’m off stage, there’s still a lot of things to do for a musical act so I keep myself entertained and focused by practicing on my own, coming up with ideas, drawing, writing, preparing orders and doing everything necessary to keep it going.”

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As a woman that performs in a genre that is always connected with power and strength, when asked about what she would say to women in general who face sexism and undermining and are considered weaker than men, she believes that all women in metal and in life in general should not go down to the level of the bullies who are being sexist, as it’s a waste of time. “If you share negativity, that’s what you’ll get. So be positive, feel it for real and just shut them and their vibes out of your life. The world is much better than that. Always be yourself and look for people who share the same ambition, who can see through you for real and what you’re after in life and music. You deserve better, we are strong and our strength should be celebrated just as any man can,” commented Mikaela, who also thinks that music shouldn’t be divided by gender or sex at all, as if we don’t all have a pair of vocal cords and we all can sound unique no matter what techniques we use to voice our hearts out.

Regarding her view of the metal scene in her homeland Malta, she mentioned that although Malta is a small island with a population of only around 500,000 people, it’s pretty much the same population as Iceland, but a lot of great artists come from Iceland. “I do not think it is quite within the culture to appreciate Metal a lot. It is not the mainstream at all. With the Metal scene, there are a lot of bands and actually, if you play here, a lot of the people in the crowd perform themselves. In general, I think it is very hard to make it, you have to skip the first step and it has to be outside of Malta, unfortunately,” said our screaming queen, complementing by saying that despite the fact there are several excellent metal bands showcasing a lot of potential on the island, the lack of a proper market or industry makes it extremely hard (albeit not impossible) for most bands to reach a decent level of success. In addition, if you want to know more about Mikaela and her beautiful home country, I highly recommend you watch two very interesting interviews with her done by local publications, one being 73 Questions Malta, where she talks about her thoughts on the metal industry in Malta and what it was like growing up there, and another called Lovin Malta Meets: Mikaela, where Lovin Malta’s resident music journalist JP Azzopardi discussed everything with her, from her musical origins to the world of metal and her future plans.

There are many TV performances of Mikaela on Youtube with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra during an event called Rockestra, a collaboration that Mikaela considers really amazing, singing in front of 13,000 fans in her homeland even with the fact that metal is still a controversial style in Malta. For instance, you can enjoy her powerful vocals in absolute sync with her country’s national orchestra in songs such as Metallica’s Enter Sandman in 2011, Guns N’ Roses’ Paradise City in 2012, Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train in 2016, and AC/DC’s Back In Black in 2018, showing her performances with the orchestra were not a once-off, but she’s a recurrent guest during such unique festival. Also, there’s another great video of Mikaela performing Black Sabbath’s Children Of The Sea live on the Maltese TV channel One on the program Q, always showing her support for metal music in Malta.

Our talented Mikaela also loves to interact with her fans and followers on social media, not only posting pictures but also writing lengthy captions and asking them questions as well as for opinions or suggestions; however, people tend to simply “ignore” her questions and give her only compliments in the comments. Mikaela said she actually appreciates all the comments and compliments, not judging anyone for not answering any of the questions posted and always valuing the interactions with her followers. She also likes to keep track of the number of streams of her songs, which countries she’s listened the most and merchandise purchases, as she believes it’s very important to know where her music is being enjoyed. For instance, she mentioned in one of her interview that Germany is amongst the top countries where her debut solo album is being listened to, as well as the United States, Canada (and The Headbanging Moose is proud to contribute to that, of course), Mexico and Russia.

Having several beautiful tattoos all over her body, Mikaela said it all started with ‘Rock and Roll’ inked on the side of her palms some years ago and she has never looked back, having her two full arm sleeves, palms, fingers, front side of the thighs, some on the neck, ass and full back all covered (and always ready for more). “I love tattoos, I think it’s like turning a house into a home. I feel confident in my body and what I represent. In my country it was still a taboo, especially on women, until a few years ago, but things slowly started changing thankfully. I used to get looks for having red hair in the past, can you imagine when I had the first tattoo sleeve? Older mentalities still judge a woman with tattoos greatly and to be fair, it is still not the norm and could get a lot of judgement,” commented Mikaela, who’s always encouraging uniqueness and trying to lead by example. Furthermore, when asked why she has chosen red as her main color, when her zodiac sign says it should have been green or pink, she answered by saying she loves red a lot along with black, representing a lot of things for her personally and becoming an important part of her identity. Mikaela also has some interesting hobbies whenever she’s not listening to music, writing, playing the piano and experimenting with mixing and sound engineering. For example, she loves to paint occasionally with pencils or acrylics and of course to take part in photo shooting sessions, among other non-music activities, but yet again she has mentioned several times already that music is her life and vice-versa. “Well, I live the cliché, yes my life is the music.” Well said, Mikaela!

Mikaela Attard’s Official Facebook page
Mikaela Attard’s Official Instagram
Mikaela Attard’s Official Twitter
Mikaela Attard’s Official YouTube channel

“Honestly, the more you know about music, and the more you know how things are done behind that, I think being a vocalist is just the tip of the iceberg. I think it is good to you have some kind of knowledge. I mean, you do not have to have a degree if you just like to read about mixing, mastering and production and you have the space to do so, I think it is just awesome. But I really wanted to get that formal degree. So that is why I applied for that degree course. It was very important for me, it was a game changer, because I have always seen music not from a vocalist perspective. I have always seen it as a musician’s perspective, since I am formally trained and piano classically trained and also jazz trained.” – Mikaela Attard

Album Review – SynlakrosS / 0K4M1 (2021)

Spain’s own Melodic Death Metal institution returns with their most creative album to date, showcasing a message by a creature brought into being by humans from a synthetic embryo and alien DNA.

3.5rating

synlakross-0k4m1-2021Pre-produced by Roronona and produced by Facundo Novo at Novo Studios, 0K4M1 is the brand new opus by Valencia, Spain’s own Melodic Death Metal institution SynlakrosS, following up on their critically acclaimed 2018 release Malice Murder while addressing a conceptual message in which the listener also becomes the protagonist of the story. “This album is completely different from our previous albums. This time you are part of history, how? The album is a message sent by the creature 0K4M1, and you are the one who receives this message from millions of light years away. Like a message in a bottle. At the end of the listening, you must choose if you want to keep it a secret, or if you want to share it with others. And who is 0K4M1? 0K4M1 is a creature created by humans from a synthetic embryo and alien DNA. Created to be a lethal weapon, the new antichrist. Before dying, it decides to record its life experience and share it with everyone who receives this message. Because perhaps its experience can ease the listener’s existential pain and suffering. It’s a sad but beautiful album, dark but full of energy,” explained the band currently comprised of frontwoman Patricia Pons, guitarists Ivan Muñoz and Aaron Hidalgo, bassist ‘Roro’ Pablo Fuentes, and drummer Dan Shurak.

As soon as you hit play you’ll be treated to a futuristic, eerie intro simply named Intro 0K4M1, warming up our senses for the melodic and visceral Pitch Black, with Patricia screaming the song’s words beautifully (“Alone I am. Cold and black / Neutron Star / Dark halos of God shine when massive stars collapse / Black Goo / Blood, hate and fascination”) in a venomous display of the band’s modern-day fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore, flowing into the headbanging Melodic Death Metal extravaganza Oscilloscope, where newcomer Dan smashes his drums mercilessly while Roro extracts the most metallic sounds you can imagine form his menacing bass. After such exciting start to the album it’s time for The Last Day of Eris, another shot of their multi-layered and thrilling music once again showcasing cryptic words vociferated by Patricia (“This is the last day of Eris / I sail in the storm / Everything crashes around me, / but I don’t want to lose hope”) while Ivan and Aaron slash their axes in great fashion.

Then a cryptic beginning grows in intensity until all hell breaks loose in Ökami, with the rumbling bass by Roro walking hand in hand with the vicious drumming by Dan, therefore resulting in a solid display of Melodic Death Metal for admirers of the genre; followed by Lost In The Universe, a somber mid-tempo tune by SynlakrosS where the guitars by Ivan and Aaron sound utterly sharp, piercing our minds mercilessly (albeit not as breathtaking as the rest of the album). And Patricia mesmerizes us all with her wildest side in the high-octane Escape From Earth, screaming like a true she-wolf while also providing at the same time some rebellious clean vocals. Furthermore, her bandmates make sure we feel absolutely inspired to slam into the circle pit to the sound of their infernal riffs, bass punches and stylish beats, before the entire band brings forward six minutes of introspective, futuristic sounds in the grim Stardust, flowing smoothly and darkly until the very last second and, as a consequence, putting a climatic ending to their first-ever Sci-Fi release.

synlakross-2021After all is said and done, are you going to share the message sent by the creature known as 0K4M1 with the world, or are you going to keep it a secret? In case you haven’t made up your mind yet, you should definitely stream the album on  Spotify as many times as you want, follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and more of the band’s unique music, subscribe to their official YouTube channel for more of their insane videos, and above all that, click HERE to purchase your copy of the album and support SynlakrosS on their quest for heavy music. Those Spanish metallers did an awesome job narrating the synthetic life and death of this uncanny creature named 0K4M1 in their new album, and let’s hope we hear more from Patricia, Roro & Co. in a not-so-distant future. End of transmission.

Best moments of the album: Oscilloscope, The Last Day of Eris and Escape From Earth.

Worst moments of the album: Lost In The Universe.

Released in 2021 independent

Track listing
1. Intro 0K4M1 1:14
2. Pitch Black 3:04
3. Oscilloscope 3:34
4. The Last Day of Eris 3:44
5. Ökami 3:30
6. Lost In The Universe 4:14
7. Escape From Earth 3:56
8. Stardust 6:27

Band members
Patricia Pons – vocals
Ivan Muñoz – guitar
Aaron Hidalgo – guitar
‘Roro’ Pablo Fuentes – bass
Dan Shurak – drums