Album Review – Konvent / Call Down the Sun (2022)

Denmark’s own Doom Metal institution returns with a masterful sophomore offering, doubling down on the band’s songwriting talent and brutal, heavy sound.

Two years after taking the entire Doom and Heavy Metal scene by storm with the release of their boisterous debut full-length album Puritan Masochism, Copenhagen, Denmark’s own Death/Doom Metal institution Konvent returns with a sophomore offering entitled Call Down the Sun that doubles down on the band’s songwriting talent and brutal, heavy sound. Recorded and mixed by Lasse Ballade at Ballade Studios, mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege Studio, displaying a Stygian artwork by Mads Berg, and undoubtedly inspired by recent dark times, the ongoing pandemic and cancellation of live performances, the new album’s thunderous apocalyptic sound is impossible to escape, with the four-piece entity formed of Rikke Emilie List on vocals, Sara Helena Nørregaard on the guitars, Heidi Withington Brink on bass, and Julie Simonsen on drums unleashing hurricanes of Blackened Death and Doom Metal upon us all, sounding even more pissed-off, fast-paced and pitch-black than ever.

The cryptic words barked by Rikke (“Climb into the distance / Aiming for the price / Seeking a device / Climb into the distance / High”) are the main ingredient in the sluggish and atmospheric Into the Distance, darkening the skies to the slow and steady beats by the talented Julie, whereas Sara and Heidi hammer their stringed weapons mercilessly in Sand is King, sounding utterly perfect for breaking your neck headbanging in the name of doom, not to mention Rikke’s roars get even more demonic and obscure. Julie continues to deliver her trademark tribal beats in In the Soot, another solid fusion of Death and Doom Metal where Sara’s Black Sabbath-inspired riffs will penetrate deep inside your lost soul; and Stygian clouds keep blocking all sunlight in Grains, with Heidi providing those low-tuned bass lines we darkly love so much while Sara keeps slashing her axe in great fashion for our total delight.

And the reverberating bass by Heidi kicks off the superb Fatamorgana, with its somber, poetic lyrics being powerfully vociferated by Rikke (“Time to venture out again through the sand to Neverend / Every step is poorly cast / Leave them in the past / Forever, the orb is a guide / Endeavour from morning till night”) while the music flows flawlessly in a lecture in contemporary Doom Metal, all spiced up by its cult-like backing vocals, morphing into a massive, sinister instrumental Interlude for the also venomous Never Rest, bringing forward the quartet’s undisputed heaviness spearheaded by another brutal work done by Julie on drums, with Rikke once again haunting us all with her inhumane, deep gutturals. Then adding hints of Stoner and Sludge Metal to their core sonority, it’s time for the thunderous Pipe Dreams, where the synchronicity between Sara and Heidi is superb form start to finish as usual. Lastly, we’re treated to Harena, perhaps the band’s deepest and most detailed composition of all time. The melodic but extremely sharp riffs by Sara are a thing of beauty, supported as always by the demolishing kitchen by Heidi and Julie while Rikke roars from the bottom of her blackened heart, resulting in a stunning, dense and climatic ending to the album.

Such delicious masterpiece of Death and Doom Metal can be fully appreciated on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course I highly recommend you purchase your favorite copy of the album by clicking HERE, adding an amazing touch of darkness to your private collection. Also, don’t forget to follow the girls from Konvent on Facebook and on Instagram, staying up to date with news, their plans for the future and their tour dates, and I’m more than sure that watching Konvent playing live might be a fantastic experience. Who knows, maybe one days they’ll tour across Canada? Anyway, having said all that, let’s all call down the sun to the undisputed doom played by those four Danish metallers, and enjoy their beyond sweet companionship in darkness for all eternity.

Best moments of the album: Sand is King, Fatamorgana and Harena.

Worst moments of the album: In the Soot.

Released in 2022 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Into the Distance 5:23
2. Sand is King 4:12
3. In the Soot 4:52
4. Grains 6:05
5. Fatamorgana 5:54
6. Interlude 2:00
7. Never Rest 5:39
8. Pipe Dreams 4:05
9. Harena 7:13

Band members
Rikke Emilie List – vocals
Sara Helena Nørregaard – guitars
Heidi Withington Brink – bass
Julie Simonsen – drums

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 – Miranda Wolfe

Free the beast within, Miranda!

It has become a tradition here at The Headbanging Moose to kick off a new year with a badass bass player on our Metal Chick of the Month section, and it couldn’t have been any different than that this January 2022 with our metal lady Miranda Wolfe. Born on July 31, 1987 in Edmonton, the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta, Miranda is not only a fantastic bass player from the Canadian underground scene, but also a talented designer and tattoo artist, and I’m sure you’re going to love her music, her art and her charisma when she’s hammering her bass together with her Thrash Metal band Mortillery. In other words, you better get ready as things are about to get heavy-as-hell to the sound of Miranda’s infernal bass, starting 2022 in style.

It’s simply impossible to pay a tribute to Miranda without talking about Mortillery, as she was one of the founders of the band back in October 2008 in Edmonton together with guitarist Alex Gutierrez and drummer Emily Smits when they decided it was time for their city to have a thrash band that represented the origin of the genre, because although the punk and metal scene had always been strong in Edmonton and there were a few crossover bands, there was nothing specific to that classic 80’s Bay Area Thrash sound at that time. Shortly after, vocalist Cara McCutchen joined the band, and James Guiltner was added as a lead guitarist to finish up what was the original line up. However, the band parted ways with James, replacing him with Alexander Scott, and later in 2013 replacing Alexander with Kent Quinlan. Emily also left the band back in 2010, with Kevin Gaudet being then responsible for the drums. For months the band tried to come up with a name, but every cool name they came up with was taken, and therefore they just made up a word by combining “mortal” and “artillery”.

Playing classic 80’s Thrash Metal in the vein of thrashing beasts Nuclear Assault and singing about topics like hell, death, evil, murder and the apocalypse, the awesome Mortillery, who are by the way on hold for now, released their self-titled debut demo in 2009, their self-titled EP in 2010 (containing the two songs from the 2009 demo plus other songs), and the full-length albums Murder Death Kill, in 2011, Origin of Extinction, in 2013, and more recently Shapeshifter, in 2016, not to mention the band was also featured on the 2016 Metal Hammer compilation Maximum Metal Vol. 218 with the song Radiation Sickness. Not only Miranda played bass in all of the band’s releases to date, but she was also responsible for the booklet artwork for their 2013 album Origin of Extinction, and the layout for their 2016 album Shapeshifter, showcasing another side of our metal lady that will be discussed shortly.

You can have an absolute blast with Miranda and her Mortillery on YouTube by enjoying their awesome videos for the songs Radiation Sickness, Age Of Stone, Torture and F.O.A.D., as well as the live versions for Murder Death Kill and Countless Suicide, and their cover versions for Razor’s Evil Invaders and Anthrax’s all-time classic Madhouse. You’ll certainly notice how metallic, visceral and rumbling the bass lines by Miranda sound in each of those songs, proving she’s much more than “just” a talented bass player, but a true metalhead that nurtures an absolute passion for what she does (also showing a deep passion for her partner, her two cats and dog, and for traveling and touring, by the way). And in case you’re eager for more of the music by Mortillery, you can also find all of their creations on sale and for streaming on BandCamp and on Spotify.

Highly influenced by monsters of metal such as early Metallica, Toxic Holocaust and Judas Priest, our beloved bassist is also huge into Punk Rock and very early Thrash Metal, with bands the likes of Exodus, Exciter, Annahilator, Razor, Broken Bones, Crucifix, GBH, Flotsam & Jetsam, Anthrax and Municipal Waste being a regular part of her playlist. Furthermore, Miranda and Mortillery have already shared the stage with some of their idols such as Death Angel and Anvil, to name a few, with their first show ever being the supporting act to the one and only Toxic Holocaust. As we’re talking about touring and supporting major bands, it’s important to mention that Mortillery use no special effects at all during their live performances, simply because they want their music to be heard for what it is with no distractions. And when asked which bands Miranda and the rest of the band would love to tour with, they mentioned playing alongside Overkill, Anthrax or Helloween would be a dream come true. Moreover, when asked about the metal scene in Edmonton, Miranda and the band mentioned there are lots of really dedicated bands and fans in the city, but the distance to other cities and the frigid temperatures in the winter can be a real barrier to touring, and if you want to check other amazing Canadian bands like Mortillery you should take a listen at Skull Fist, Diemonds, Cauldron, Kobra And The Lotus, Unleash The Archers, Tarantuja, Gatekrashor, Crystal Mess and Untimely Demise, among many, many others.

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In one of her interviews together with Cara, the girls were asked if they have to prove themselves twice as female musicians in a male dominated scene, or if this is not an issue anymore these days. Miranda and Cara simply answered that they don’t need to prove anything to anyone, that they just do what they enjoy and that their sound will always remain the same no matter what. In addition, they mentioned that if you are good at what you do, you should be recognized for that regardless of what sex you are, complementing by saying that they don’t believe that women “need” any special attention just because they are women, and that there was never a lack of recognition for the women that play metal, but just that there’s a lot more of women in the metal scene nowadays. There’s also an awesome panel online called “Women Who Rock” held in 2016 by Napalm Records (which can be seen in full HERE) featuring Fernanda Lira of Nervosa, Tatiana Shmailyuk of Jinjer, and of course Miranda and Cara, covering questions like “What does it mean to you to be a woman in metal?” and “Who’ve inspired you and what got you into metal?”, among other questions, where Miranda mentions Girlschool and Wendy O. Williams, two of the most important names in the history of rock and metal regarding female musicians, as the ones who got her into becoming a musician.

And last but not least, as aforementioned our unstoppable bassist took care of the booklet artwork in Origin of Extinction and the layout in Shapeshifter, and that talent in the arts and design field led her to open her own tattoo studio in 2021, simply named Miranda Wolfe Tattoos, a high detail custom tattooing studio specializing in blackwork, dotwork and traditional, being fully licensed, health board approved and bloodborne pathogens certified. Miranda has been tattooing since 2016 and she has always been a very artistic person who cares a lot about her work and her clients, always putting the most towards each and every piece she does, big or small. Hence, if you want to give Miranda Wolfe Tattoos a try and turn your idea for a tattoo into reality, you can get in touch with her by email, by Facebook or by Instagram, and I’m sure she will provide you with first-class customer service and all the attention you can get from a multi-talented metalhead like her. Who knows, maybe you can finally get that Thrash Metal-inspired tattoo you’ve been dreaming of with a real thrashing tattoo artist like Miranda, right?

Miranda Wolfe Tattoos’ Official Facebook page
Miranda Wolfe Tattoos’ Official Instagram
Mortillery’s Official Facebook page
Mortillery’s Official Instagram
Mortillery’s Official YouTube channel
Mortillery’s Official Twitter

Album Review – 1914 / Where Fear and Weapons Meet (2021)

Ukraine’s own doom infantry is back into the battlefield with another masterpiece, telling the gruesome tales of World War I, its soldiers’ fate, their death, fear and feats to be never forgotten.

Lviv, Ukraine-based Blackened Death/Doom Metal offensive 1914 continues to reflect the gruesome tales of World War I, its soldiers’ fate, their death, fear and feats to be never forgotten, unleashing upon humanity their superb new opus entitled Where Fear and Weapons Meet, comprised of eleven tracks of pure historic harshness following up to the band’s sophomore album The Blind Leading the Blind and their debut effort Eschatology of War. Unlike their previous works, Where Fear and Weapons Meet is not about death, but about life, as most of the heroes and protagonists in the songs survived war, became heroes and finally returned home, with even the album cover emphasizing this by depicting an injured, shell-shocked and bleeding sole survivor of a shield attack holding his hand out to death, praying in agony, but death does not take him away. Furthermore, the album begins in Serbia and continues on the first track from the prospective of Gavrilo Princip, who assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo and caused the outbreak of World War I, all masterfully embraced by the massive fusion of sludge, death and doom sounds crafted by vocalist Ditmar Kumarberg, guitarists Liam Fessen and Vitalis Winkelhock, bassist Armin von Heinessen and drummer Rusty Potoplacht.

As expected the band kicks things off with their trademark intro War In, this time showcasing the original of the most famous Serbian song of the Great War period, “Tamo Daleko”, setting the stage for 1914 to crush our senses with FN .380 ACP#19074, with Rusty sounding infernal and ruthless on drums while Liam and Vitalis deliver endless electricity and heaviness through their wicked riffage. What a bestial start to the album, I might say, followed by Vimy Ridge (In Memory of Filip Konowal), offering us all another round of their WWI-inspired doomed lyrics growled by Ditmar (“Things didn’t go down as expected / Hill 145, ill-fated Vimy Ridge. / We are entrenched in mud as wild hogs, my 47th Battalion / A small wooded knoll we called “the Pimple” 2 miles in front of us. / We need to capture the machine gun nests, each was heavily defended”) in a demonic display of Ukrainian Sludge, Death and Doom Metal. Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines) describes the terrible events of the Battle of the Messines Ridge during June 7-14, 1917 in Belgium, one of the most insane episodes of the Great War, while musically speaking you better get ready for another multi-layered wall of sounds spearheaded by Rusty’s venomous blast beats and all the symphonic, cinematic background sounds; and continuing their path of doom and devastation we face Don’t Tread on Me (Harlem Hellfighters), where the sound of the guitars by Liam and Vitalis is phenomenal, not to mention the thunderous bass by Armin, whereas featuring Ukrainian country and folk musician, singer and songwriter Sasha Boole, Coward is very unique and distinct form the rest of the album, with the final result being really entertaining.

…And a Cross Now Marks His Place brings forward an amazing and brutal vocal duet between Ditmar and guest Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost), resulting in a lecture in old school Doom Metal that will inspire you to crack your neck headbanging, followed by Corps d’autos-canons-mitrailleuses (A.C.M), where a wicked intro quickly morphs into a Blackened Doom feast showcasing the band’s trademark warlike words (“Hold the line, Minerva will cover us / The Hotchkiss machine gun poured lead in all directions / Send our messages to all boches – We will avenge for the Belgium! / 16 of us were killed in action, / 16 of us in this Galizian sludge / They called home”). In Mit Gott für König und Vaterland we’re treated to five minutes of obscurity, brutality and fear in the form of ass-kicking Doom and Death Metal led by the demented growls by Ditmar; whereas the sound of bagpipes will penetrate deep inside your mind before 1914 come crushing like a war tank in their version for Eric Bogle’s The Green Fields of France (No Man’s Land), which original version can be appreciated HERE, an impressive rendition where Liam and Vitalis are on absolute fire with their unstoppable riffs, not to mention the song’s demonic, hellish ending, flowing into War Out, putting a climatic and stylish conclusion to their sonic battle.

It’s time to head into the battlefield together with the unstoppable troopers of 1914, and in order to do so you can enjoy the album in full on YouTube and on Spotify, follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for tour dates and other nice-to-know information about them, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their austere music, and above all that, purchase your favorite version of the stunning Where Fear and Weapons Meet by clicking HERE. This masterpiece is indeed another heavily intense and deep-reaching output that will grant 1914 even higher appreciation than the five-piece is already credited with, and I must say that after such powerful and bold album the band has gone beyond the underground barrier and can now be considered one of the torchbearers of warlike doom worldwide. In other words, the Great War lives on, mainly thanks to the brilliant job done by the best Ukrainian metal band of all time.

Best moments of the album: Vimy Ridge (In Memory of Filip Konowal), Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines), …And a Cross Now Marks His Place and The Green Fields of France (No Man’s Land, Eric Bogle cover).

Worst moments of the album: Absolutely none.

Released in 2021 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. War In 1:11
2. FN .380 ACP#19074 5:54
3. Vimy Ridge (In Memory of Filip Konowal) 5:11
4. Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines) 7:04
5. Don’t Tread on Me (Harlem Hellfighters) 7:54
6. Coward (ft. Sasha Boole) 2:55
7. …And a Cross Now Marks His Place (ft. Nick Holmes) 7:29
8. Corps d’autos-canons-mitrailleuses (A.C.M) 7:54
9. Mit Gott für König und Vaterland 5:18
10. The Green Fields of France (No Man’s Land, Eric Bogle cover) 10:57
11. War Out 1:40

Band members
2.Division, Infanterie-Regiment Nr.147, Oberleutnant – Ditmar Kumarberg – vocals
37.Division, Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr.73, Wachtmiester – Liam Fessen – guitar
5.Division, Ulanen-Regiment Nr.3, Sergeanten – Vitalis Winkelhock – guitar
9.Division, Grenadier-Regiment Nr.7, Unteroffiziere – Armin von Heinessen – bass
33.Division, 7.Thueringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr.96, Gefreite – Rusty Potoplacht – drums

Guest musician
Nick Holmes – vocals on “…And a Cross Now Marks His Place”
Sasha Boole – vocals on “Coward”

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 – Moonspell / Hermitage (2021)

Portugal’s own Dark Metal institution returns with their thirteenth full-length album, offering us all a revolutionary and epic journey through the darkest days of human existence.

Portugal’s own Dark Metal institution Moonspell is approaching their 30th anniversary more ambitious and stronger than ever, and in order to proper celebrate such important milestone there’s nothing better than savoring each and every track from their newest opus, entitled Hermitage, the thirteenth studio album in their undisputed career. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Paradise Lost, Ghost, Sólstafir) at Orgone Studios and featuring a stylish artwork by Latvian artist Arthur Berzinsh, Hermitage is not only the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2017 album 1755 and their 2015 masterpiece Extinct, but it’s also a revolutionary, wonderfully intuitive and epic journey through the darkest days of human existence masterfully crafted by frontman Fernando Ribeiro, guitarist Ricardo Amorim, keyboardist Pedro Paixão, bassist Aires Pereira and newcomer Hugo Ribeiro on drums, as well as a testament to what they’ve always loved the most, which is honest, emotional metal that binds us even in the darkest times.

Just like the soundtrack to a dark thriller, the opening track The Greater Good will already mesmerize your senses, with the thunderous bass jabs by Aires and the massive beats by Hugo adding heaviness to such atmospheric tune, whereas sheer poetry flows from Fernando’s words (“So close to me, as tight as you can be / Inside the cell / The voice within, the desert wind / Calls out our name / So close, so close”) in Common Prayers, another captivating Gothic Metal aria by Moonspell where Ricardo and Aires are on absolute fire with their stringed weapons, not to mention the epic keys by Pedro. In All or Nothing, the guitars by Ricardo exhale passion and harmony nonstop in a beautiful display of Dark and Melancholic Metal that will please all fans of Moonspell’s most Gothic side, while Fernando is flawless as usual on vocals; and back to a more visceral and atmospheric sonority we’re treated to the dense Hermitage, with Fernando roaring the song’s epic lyrics (“In the circle of life and sin / On this day of apocalypse / On our way to hermitage / It’s the return to innocence”) while Hugo pounds his drums mercilessly. Then the cryptic bass sounds by Aires are intertwined with the classic keys by Pedro in Entitlement, a very melodic tune blending elements from Gothic and Progressive Metal, therefore sounding very experimental at times, with Ricardo taking the lead with his soulful riffs and solos.

It’s time for a fully instrumental voyage through the realms of darkness in the form of Solitarian, offering our ears classic, crying guitars, delicate keys and tribal beats, working as an interlude for the piercing The Hermit Saints, a headbanging extravaganza where all band members are in absolute sync, generating that classy trademark sound found in their latest albums. Moreover, Fernando’s anguished vocals are effectively supported by all background elements, resulting in a lecture in Dark Metal. In Apophthegmata we face an enfolding and smooth start, evolving into a massive sonority where Ricardo and Aires are once again unstoppable with their axes while Hugo showcases all his skills and potency behind his drums and Pedro keeps the ambience as sinister as it can be with his keys; whereas the quintet offers us fans over seven minutes of magnificent Dark Metal titled Without Rule, where the music remains ethereal but at the same time heavy and sharp from start to finish, with Fernando leading his bandmates into the unknown, flowing into the cinematic Black Metal-inspired outro City Quitter, putting a beyond atmospheric conclusion to such multi-layered album. Not only that, if you purchase the superb mediabook or limited deluxe box set versions of Hermitage, you’ll get as a beyond amazing bonus track the song Darkness in Paradise, Moonspell’s cover version for Candlemass’ classic tune from their 1988 album Ancient Dreams (check out the original version HERE), and let me tell you that their tribute to one of the pillars of Doom Metal is just as imposing as the original song, with Fernando stealing the spotlight with his Stygian vocals.

You can enjoy Hermitage in its entirety on Spotify, but this album is so detailed, enfolding and captivating that I highly recommend you purchase a copy of it to add it to your collection of dark and melancholic albums from Moonspell’s BandCamp page or webstore (where you can by the way find the special mediabook edition), or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream this precious gem of contemporary Dark Metal. Needless to say, don’t forget to follow Moonspell on Facebook and on Instagram to keep up to date with all things surrounding one of the most important metal bands of the European scene. As soon as this pandemic is over, we’ll all be able to leave our hermitages, including the guys from Moonspell, and we’ll finally be able to meet them again on stage to stun us all with the impressive creations of their newborn spawn.

Best moments of the album: Common Prayers, Hermitage, The Hermit Saints and Apophthegmata.

Worst moments of the album: Solitarian.

Released in 2021 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. The Greater Good 5:04
2. Common Prayers 4:08
3. All or Nothing 7:22
4. Hermitage 4:43
5. Entitlement 6:16
6. Solitarian 4:07
7. The Hermit Saints 4:22
8. Apophthegmata 5:41
9. Without Rule 7:42
10. City Quitter (Outro) 2:59

Mediabook/Limited Deluxe Box Set bonus track
11. Darkness in Paradise (Candlemass cover) 7:10

Band members
Fernando Ribeiro – vocals
Ricardo Amorim – guitars
Pedro Paixão – keyboards, samples, programming
Aires Pereira – bass
Hugo Ribeiro – drums

Album Review – Nervosa / Perpetual Chaos (2021)

What happens when you put together four metalheads hailing from Brazil, Italy, Spain and Greece? A deadly and thrashing lesson in perpetual chaos, of course.

Staying true to their roots while exploring new terrains with a revitalized international line-up now comprised of Brazilian founding guitarist Prika Amaral, Spanish growler Diva Satanica (of Bloodhunter), Italian bassist Mia Wallace (of bands such as Abbath, Triumph of Death and The True Endless) and Greek drummer Eleni Nota (of Lightfold and Mask of Prospero), the ruthless all-female Death and Thrash Metal powerhouse Nervosa is ready to attack with inexorable fury, pungently sharp riffs and aggressive vocals on the 13 massive tracks from their newborn spawn, entitled Perpetual Chaos, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2018 opus Downfall Of Mankind. Recorded at Artesonao Casa de Grabación Studio in Málaga, Spain, produced by Prika Amaral and Martin Furia at Studio Porino, and mastered by Yarne Heylen, Perpetual Chaos builds upon the turbulence, adding diverse musical elements to create an infallible new standout that will strike the listener in a way only Nervosa could, therefore placing the album as one of the best releases of 2021 hands down.

The unstoppable Prika ignites their thrashing machine with her flammable riffs in the brutal Venomous, sounding pulverizing from the very first second with Diva Satanica being a true she-demon on vocals while Eleni showcases all her skills and rage on drums, whereas in Guided by Evil the rumbling, obscure sounds blasted by Mia and Eleni are everything Diva Satanica needs to growl the song’s vile words (“Desire consumes you, blinds you, takes you off the line / But you go slowly cause all you do is lie / Every step taken, misfortune is your delight / Tormented by feelings, swallowed by quicksand”) in another ass-kicking fusion of Death, Thrash and Black Metal. Following such frantic start, People of the Abyss is perhaps one of the most infuriated and heaviest of all songs in the history of Nervosa where Prika will pierce your ears mercilessly with her classy riffs and solos accompanied by the devilish bass by Mia, therefore inflicting some serious pain in your neck due to the intense headbanging needed. And more of their demented and grim sounds is offered in the title-track Perpetual Chaos, with Eleni and Prika making a hellish duo and, consequently, providing Diva Satanica a solid base for her to haunt our souls with her otherworldly screeches and gnarls.

Featuring guest guitarist Guilherme Miranda (of Entombed A.D.), Until the Very End is a high-octane fusion of Death and Thrash Metal brought forth by those unrelenting women where Prika is once again phenomenal armed with her killer strings; and it’s time for Nervosa to smash our skulls mercilessly in Genocidal Command, with German thrash legend Schmier, from the one and only Destruction, making a demented vocal duo with Diva Satanica, always supported by the thunderous kitchen by Mia and Eleni. Slower but heavy-as-hell, Kings of Domination presents hints of Groove Metal added to the guitar lines by Prika and the bass jabs by Mia, resulting in the perfect sound for headbanging like there’s no tomorrow, while Time to Fight is another short and sweet display of their thrashing savagery, inviting us all to slam into the pit while Eleni pounds her drums in great fashion. If you think the girls from Nervosa are tired already of so much violence, you better get ready for more of their Stygian sounds in Godless Prisoner, showcasing a straightforward sonority led by Prika while Eleni dictates the pace with her solid beats, albeit not as powerful as the other songs from the album.

Blood Eagle gets back to a more ferocious and somber musicality, with Prika and Mia being in total sync with their stringed weapons while Diva Satanica adds her personal dosage of Death Metal to the band’s core Thrash Metal through her devilish gnarls; and Eric A.K. (of Flotsam and Jetsam) lends his trademark vocals to Rebel Soul, a Motörhead-inspired metal extravaganza that will invite you to raise your horns and bang your head like a beast, bringing forward Diva Satanica and Eric on absolute fire from start to finish. Never slowing down nor selling out, and always loyal to the foundations of Thrash Metal, the band offers us all Pursued by Judgement, with Mia hammering her evil bass accompanied by the crushing drums by Eleni, keeping the album at a high level of animosity before we’re treated to the closing tune Under Ruins, presenting disruptive words viciously barked by Diva Satanica (“I feel death coming / Getting lonelier everyday / In the cravings that consume me / Self destruction without limits”) while her bandmates make sure the electricity keeps flowing nonstop through their wicked instrumental.

To be fair, I was a little worried about the future of Nervosa after the departures of vocalist and bassist Fernanda Lira and drummer Luana Dametto last year, but the moment Prika announced Diva Satanica, Mia Wallace and Eleni Nota as the new members of her thrashing squad I was more than sure their new album would sound phenomenal to say the least based on their unique talent and background in heavy music. Well, let’s say those four metal ladies exceeded all expectations in Perpetual Chaos, delivering an album that’s at the same time brutal, melodic, thrilling and detailed. Hence, don’t forget to give the girls a shout on Facebook and on Instagram to let them know how much you enjoyed their newest creations, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their distinguished music and videos, to stream all of their catalogue on Spotify, and above all that, to purchase Perpetual Chaos from their own BandCamp page or webstore (America or Europe), or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream what’s by far one of the most exciting metal albums of the year. And before I forget… VIVA PERPETUAL CHAOS!

Best moments of the album: People of the Abyss, Genocidal Command, Time to Fight and Rebel Soul.

Worst moments of the album: Godless Prisoner.

Released in 2021 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Venomous 3:46
2. Guided by Evil 3:30
3. People of the Abyss 3:27
4. Perpetual Chaos 3:39
5. Until the Very End 3:18
6. Genocidal Command 2:56
7. Kings of Domination 3:41
8. Time to Fight 2:32
9. Godless Prisoner 3:19
10. Blood Eagle 3:41
11. Rebel Soul 3:17
12. Pursued by Judgement 3:27
13. Under Ruins 3:57

Band members
Diva Satanica – lead vocals
Prika Amaral – guitar, backing vocals
Mia Wallace – bass
Eleni Nota – drums

Guest musicians
Guilherme Miranda – additional guitars on “Until the Very End”
Schmier – additional vocals on “Genocidal Command”
Eric A.K. – additional vocals on “Rebel Soul”

Album Review – Unleash The Archers / Abyss (2020)

The Matriarch is ready to eat our hearts while we fall into the abyss to the sound of the brand new album by one of the best Canadian metal bands of all time.

Formed in 2007 in Vancouver, the biggest city in the stunning province of British Columbia, Canada, the unrelenting Power/Melodic Death Metal squad known as Unleash The Archers has sharpened their arrows and hit the bullseye once again with their fifth full-length album, entitled Abyss. Featuring ten new tracks, this adventure is a concept album and a sequel to their 2017 masterpiece Apex, and was once again recorded with legendary producer Jacob Hansen of Hansen Studios in Denmark. Portraying another epic artwork, this time designed by Adam Burke (Nightjar Illustration), Abyss might not be as grandiose and breathtaking as Apex, something quite impossible to be done in my humble opinion, but it’s indeed a vibrant display of the band’s dexterity, their passion for Heavy Metal and their infinite creativity to bring forth a compelling storyline together with their music, proving why frontwoman Brittney Slayes, guitarists Grant Truesdell and Andrew Saunders, and drummer Scott Buchanan heave reached such high level of admiration and relevance all over the world, carving their spot in the hearts of all types of metalheads.

Smooth, serene guitar lines invite us all to join the band in their quest for metal in the opening tune Waking Dream, where Brittney already showcases all her vocal potency, gradually evolving into the epic title-track Abyss, with Grant and Andrew taking the lead with their crisp and strident riffs and solos. It will work beautifully when played live, blending their modern-day Power Metal with 80’s Glam Metal, I might say. Then again presenting an 80’s rockin’ vibe thanks to its background keys and classic beats we have Through Stars, sounding like it was taken from an old school Hard Rock album, being very pleasant while at the same time developing the story majestically told by Brittney, and when you think they’re going to slow down a little they come with an onrush of sounds titled Legacy, even bringing nuances of Black Metal added to their classic metal music. However, the music never really clicks, though, falling flat after a while (nothing to worry about, though).

In Return to Me the band brings forward a more progressive and groovier side, with Scott dictating the rhythm with his old school beats, resulting in another good composition by the quartet albeit a bit generic if compared to their older songs, whereas it’s with Soulbound that the party really starts, showcasing ass-kicking lyrics screamed by Brittney (“We race around the melted char of what was once a neutron star / And use the gravity to whip us into dark galactic rifts / Yet still somehow we can’t escape, they have no flaw, they feel no pain / These twisted shadows of the men I once condemned”) while Grant and Andrew are unstoppable with their axes in this ode to Heavy Metal. And get ready for another round of inspiring, metallic words (“Once more we’re flying fast as light / Dark matter passing in the night / Pursued by a force we can’t outrun / As we hurtle towards a dying sun / We maneuver through the remnants of a moon on the solar winds of supernovas / There is not a place to hide, the Matriarch is close behind, it’s plain to see she’s coming for us all”) in the superb Faster Than Light, bringing to our ears a stuninng Stratovarius-like feel (and an absolutely weird official video to our eyes, by the way), with all band members speeding things up and blasting sheer awesomeness for our total delectation.

After such intense tune, it’s time for a passionate performance by Brittney supported by her loyal bandmates in The Wind that Shapes the Land, with Grant and Andrew slashing our ears with their sharp riffage while Scott doesn’t stop hammering his drums throughout the song’s eight minutes of a top-of-the-line fusion of Melodic Death and Power Metal. Carry the Flame is another 80’s-inspired Hard Rock/Heavy Metal song showcasing a beautiful vocal duo between Brittney and Andrew, while Scott continues to bring the thunder to the music with his beats, all spiced up by some ass-kicking, soulful guitar solos. Lastly, in order to properly conclude the album the band brings to our ears the epic, symphonic and climatic Afterlife, a very detailed and dense composition where Brittney is once again flawless with her high-pitched, heroic vocals, accompanied by the galloping beats by Scott and the always flammable guitars by Grant and Andrew until the song’s serene and warm ending.

In a nutshell, as already mentioned, although Abyss is not on par with Apex, it will surely entertain all fans of the band while at the same time it puts a climatic conclusion to the overall story concept initiated with their 2017 album. Do not expect to listen to a new “The Matriarch”, “Call Me Immortal” or “Shadow Guide” in Abyss, but to brand new, unique compositions that have their place and purpose well defined by Unleash The Archers, and if you want to give their new album a shot you can stream it in full on Spotify or purchase a copy of it from several locations such as their own BandCamp page, Napalm Records, Apple Music, Amazon or indiemerchstore.com, among others. Also, don’t forget to follow Brittney and the boys on Facebook and on Instagram, getting up to date to all things related to one of the best metal bands of all time hailing from Canada. In the end, the Matriarch might eat our hearts while we fall into the abyss, but as long as that happens while we listen to the first-class metal blasted by Unleash The Archers, we can rest assured our souls will be free in the afterlife.

Best moments of the album: Through Stars, Soulbound, Faster Than Light and The Wind that Shapes the Land.

Worst moments of the album: Legacy and Return to Me.

Released in 2020 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Waking Dream 3:45
2. Abyss 6:44
3. Through Stars 5:34
4. Legacy 5:26
5. Return to Me 5:34
6. Soulbound 3:54
7. Faster Than Light 5:11
8. The Wind that Shapes the Land 8:36
9. Carry the Flame 4:42
10. Afterlife 7:30

Band members
Brittney Slayes – vocals
Grant Truesdell – guitar
Andrew Saunders – guitar, harsh growls, additional vocals, synths
Scott Buchanan – drums

Guest musicians
Francesco Ferrini – orchestration on “Afterlife”
Ben Arscott – bass (session)

Album Review – Grave Digger / Fields of Blood (2020)

One of the most influential and pioneering bands of the German scene celebrates 40 years of their undisputed Heavy Metal on a journey back to the vastness of the Scottish Highlands.

Standing tall as one of the most influential and pioneering bands of the German Heavy Metal scene since their inception in the early 80’s, Gladbeck’s own Power Metal institution Grave Digger is celebrating their 40th anniversary in great fashion with the release of their 20th studio album, entitled Fields of Blood, the logic consequence of a legendary trilogy which started in 1996 with the breathtaking Tunes of War and an auditory battle of unique traditional metal, continuing their epic Highlands story. One thing I must say is that although most fans of the band had a very good time with their latest albums Return of the Reaper, Healed by Metal and The Living Dead, it’s when the band comprised of the iconic frontman Chris Boltendahl and his henchmen Axel Ritt on the guitars, Jens Becker on bass and Marcus Kniep on drums takes us into the vastness of Scotland on a journey through explosive sound landscapes that they truly thrive. Featuring a classy, old school artwork by Russian artist Alexander Tartsus, Fields of Blood even had some of its parts recorded in the Scottish Highlands, giving an extra touch of epicness to their no-frills, traditional brand of metal with unwavering pure steel, which nevertheless offers surprises, celebrating such a special anniversary of one of the most successful German Heavy Metal acts in the most glorious style.

Featuring very special guests Les Tambours du Bronx, the intro The Clansman’s Journey showcases a stunning combination of their tribal beats with the strident sound of the bagpipes, resulting in one of the most inspiring intros I’ve ever heard in my life, therefore warming up our senses for a feast of classic, warlike Grave Digger tunes starting with All for the Kingdom, where Marcus dictates the rhythm with his fierce beats while Axel and Jens slash their strings majestically, all of course spearheaded by Chris and his trademark raspy vocals. Then we’re treated to Lions of the Sea, the battle of the Scots against the Vikings translated into fist-raising Power Metal made in Germany, a song that should sound amazing when played live especially due to its catchy, rebellious chorus, not to mention the crisp riffage by Alex, who also kicks some serious ass in the inspiring tune Freedom, an ode to William Wallace’s famous speech where the whole bands speeds things up providing us all we need to head into the battlefield, with Chris delivering a superb vocal performance supported by the song’s spot-on backing vocals.

And Les Tambours du Bronx are back to add an extra kick to the already piercing sound of the bagpipes in The Heart of Scotland, where Chris declaims the song’s words with tons of feeling (“Raise your voices – raise your fists / For the king – the pride of our nation / Praise him and kneel – a will strong as steel / He carries the heart of Scotland / Praise him and kneel – a will strong as steel / He carries the heart of Scotland”) while the music remains slow, steady and dark from start to finish. After such imposing composition, the band brings forward Thousand Tears, a gentle and melancholic ballad that only Grave Digger can offer us featuring the unrelenting Finnish she-wolf Noora Louhimo, and as Chris and Noora have a sensational vocal duet I personally hope she can join the band on stage for a few concerts in the near future. In Union of the Crown they get back to their traditional (and I would even say their most traditional) sonority, with Chris singing with a lot of rage and power while Markus continues to pound his drums mercilessly, accompanied by the rumbling bass by Jens, whereas it’s impossible to stand still to the beer-drinking battle hymn entitled My Final Fight, where Chris screams and shouts the song’s lyrics flawlessly (“The battle began in the morning light / Five thousand gathered for the fight / Tired, exhausted we stood side by side / Welcomed the English with brave and pride”). Put differently, it’s time to prance around the fire, raise your swords and praise our beloved Heavy Metal together with those Teutonic metallers.

Grave Digger Fields of Blood Wooden Box

Then more of their trademark metal music comes in Gathering of the Clans, a song about the unity of the Highland clans and their will to fight for their freedom until the very end, with Alex sounding infernal with his razor-edged riffs and solos while the atmosphere is spiced up by the rebellious bagpipes by guests Hans Grothusen, Paul Grothe and Florian Bohm. After that, be prepared to bang your heads like dauntless highlanders in the rockin’ extravaganza titled Barbarian, where Alex’s riffs are beautifully complemented by the thunderous kitchen by Jens and Marcus, sounding as if the whole song was taken from one of their epic albums from the 90’s, followed by the title-track Fields of Blood, where a sensational bagpipe-infused intro evolves into ten minutes of pure Grave Digger with Chris, Alex, Jens and Marcus being on fire with their respective sonic weapons, guiding the music smoothly and with an endless amount of epicness and fire until the very end. By the way, the song’s closing moments are not only climatic, but also somber, captivating and as metallic as they can be, putting a pensive ending to the battle before the symphonic and cinematic outro Requiem for the Fallen embraces us all and provides us moments of peace in the aftermath, allowing us to grieve for the countless fallen bodies of all brave Scotsmen who died fighting for their freedom.

If you have what it takes to join Grave Digger in their quest for freedom in the Highlands, you can enjoy Fields of Blood in it entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, watch Chris and his loyal bandmates talking about each and every track from the album on a special series on YouTube by clicking HERE, HERE and HERE, and of course purchase your desired version of this grandiose album of metal music by clicking HERE, such as the insanely awesome Wooden Box strictly limited to 300 units including the digipak CD version of the album, a bonus live DVD titled “Live in Japan”, a special Highland flask and a black 7″ single. Also, don’t forget to follow Grave Digger on Facebook and on Instagram, staying up to date with everything that surrounds the band such as their new releases, live concerts and other nice-to-know details. I’m absolutely thrilled this unstoppable Teutonic army decided to return to the Highlands once again in celebration of their 40th anniversary, filling our hearts and souls with their inspiring tunes of war and freedom, and I can’t wait to see what Chris Boltendahl & Co. will offer us in their future albums if they decide to stay in Scotland for a little longer, hopefully bringing to our avid ears more of their undisputed Heavy Metal for many years (and decades) to come.

Best moments of the album: All for the Kingdom, Freedom, My Final Fight and Barbarian.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. The Clansman’s Journey 1:27
2. All for the Kingdom 4:10
3. Lions of the Sea 3:58
4. Freedom 4:53
5. The Heart of Scotland 5:19
6. Thousand Tears 4:57
7. Union of the Crown 3:58
8. My Final Fight 4:09
9. Gathering of the Clans 3:57
10. Barbarian 3:43
11. Fields of Blood 10:10
12. Requiem for the Fallen 3:00

Band members
Chris Boltendahl – vocals
Axel Ritt – guitars
Jens Becker – bass
Marcus Kniep – drums

Guest musicians
Noora Louhimo – female vocals on “Thousand Tears”
John Jaycee Cujpers, Olaf Senkbeil, Andreas von Lippinski & Hacky Hackmann – backing vocals
Les Tambours du Bronx – percussion on “The Clansman’s Journey” and “The Heart of Scotland”
H.P. Katzenburg – keyboards on “Thousand Tears”
Hans Grothusen, Paul Grothe & Florian Bohm – bagpipes, uilleann pipes

Album Review – Konvent / Puritan Masochism (2020)

A dark, primeval and absolutely stunning fusion of Death and Doom Metal masterfully crafted by four unrelenting women hailing from Denmark.

If you’re craving a dark and primeval fusion of Death and Doom Metal in the same vein as renowned acts such as Candlemass, Paradise Lost, Cult of Luna and Black Breath, who all unleashed the bleakest horror on mankind in the early 90’s, you’ll certainly fall in love with the “Primitive Death Doom” blasted by four talented and hardworking Danish women collectively known as Konvent. Formed in 2015 in the charming city of Copenhagen, this all-female band currently comprised of Rikke Emilie List on vocals, Sara Helena Nørregaard on the guitars, Heidi Withington Brink on bass and Julie Simonsen on drums is ready to haunt our souls with their debut full-length opus entitled Puritan Masochism, the brilliant follow-up to their 2017 demo, conjuring up a deserved revival for the whole death doom genre.

As obscure as the pits of hell from the very first second, the title-track Puritan Masochism comes ripping mercilessly, with Rikke barking the song’s acid lyrics in great fashion (“You pathetic, worthless subject / Submission keeps you erect / Ignorant as you wait / There are enemies at the gate / Slaughter the peacocks / Set fire to the lawns / Now the Queen shall hang”) while Julie sounds thunderous with her sluggish and damned beats, followed by The Eye, where Sara continues to masterfully slash her strings, therefore generating a menacing ambience complemented by Julie’s pounding drums and Heidi’s rumbling bass punches in another solid and visceral display of our good old Doom Metal. And in Trust we face a gargantuan amount of darkness, dementia and rage flowing from all instruments with Rikke being once again bestial with her she-demon growling, living up to the legacy of the genre without a shadow of a doubt.

Stygian clouds are all over us in World of Gone, with Sara and Heidi delivering minimalist but extremely sharp guitar lines and bass jabs respectively, inspiring us to break our necks headbanging in solitude while their music penetrate deep inside our psyche. Then blending elements from the grim music crafted by Black Sabbath, Candlemass and Tryptikon, the quartet fires another round of doomed riffs and beats simply titled Bridge, getting heavier and heavier as the music progresses thanks to the venomous beats by Julie, whereas the absolutely metallic and devilish bass lines by Heidi ignite the incendiary Waste, featuring guest vocals by Danish singer Tue Krebs Roikjer (from Atmospheric Black Metal band Morild), and let me tell you that Rikke and Tue make an infernal vocal duo throughout the entire song, turning it into one of the best and most demonic moments of the entire album.

Kicking off the last batch of songs from Puritan Masochism, Julie will smash your skull with her beats while Sara keeps extracting pure evil form her strings in Idle Hands, all embraced by the cryptic, poetic lyrics vociferated by Rikke (“These idle hands full of will / Go into the field / I will yield / Only dust and dew where they grew / Empty bags / Working mill / Go into the field / I will yield”). And closing the album we have Ropes pt. I, the first part of a double-the-pain extravaganza which begins in a mournful and cadaverous way thanks to the crisp guitar lines by Sara, with its ending being just as somber and captivating as its beginning, flowing smoothly into Ropes pt. II, an epic fusion of the slow and lugubrious sounds of Doom Metal with the enraged growls from Death Metal where Sara, Heidi and Julie are in perfect sync, providing Rikke all she needs to crush our minds with her deep guttural vocals. Put differently, this is what I call a breathtaking closure to such amazing album of extreme music.

In a nutshell, the girls from Konvent nailed it in Puritan Masochism, offering fans of both old school and contemporary Doom Metal a powerful lesson in heaviness and obscurity over the span of 48 minutes of music found in their newborn spawn, consequently pointing to a fantastic future for the band. Hence, go check what Konvent are up to on Facebook, including their tour dates, and of course don’t forget to show your true and honest support to those amazing metallers by purchasing Puritan Masochism directly from their BandCamp page, or click HERE for all locations where you can buy and stream the album in its entirety. The (under)world of doom will never be the same after Puritan Masochism, an album that can already be considered a new classic of such distinct genre, and albeit it has set the bar absurdly high for Rikke, Sara, Heidi and Julie in their future installments, I’m sure that’s exactly what those four amazing Danish girls wanted to achieve with the album, showing the entire world they’re among us to stay, their passion for a good challenge and, above all, that they’ll keep praising the riff and the horrors of doom for years to come.

Best moments of the album: Puritan Masochism, Trust, World of Gone and Waste.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Puritan Masochism 4:41
2. The Eye 3:25
3. Trust 5:17
4. World of Gone 5:57
5. Bridge 6:30
6. Waste (feat. Tue Krebs Roikjer) 4:59
7. Idle Hands 5:22
8. Ropes pt. I 4:36
9. Ropes pt. II 7:21

Band members
Rikke Emilie List – vocals
Sara Helena Nørregaard – guitars
Heidi Withington Brink – bass
Julie Simonsen – drums

Guest musician
Tue Krebs Roikjer – vocals on “Waste”