Album Review – Obscura Qalma / Apotheosis (2021)

Exploring human existence in an epistemological solipsistic view, the debut album by this Stygian Italian horde is a lecture in epic and dark Death Metal that exists in its own philosophically inspired realm.

Formed in 2018 in Venice, Italy from connections built in their local scene while performing within their prior projects, the unrelenting Blackened/Symphonic Death Metal horde known as Obscura Qalma have just released their debut full-length opus, entitled Apotheosis, the follow-up to their 2019 EP From the Sheol to the Apeiron. Mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni at Domination Studio and displaying a sinister artwork by Mexican artist Néstor Ávalos (Black Arts), Apotheosis (or “to deify” from Greek) explores human existence in an epistemological solipsistic view inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud, as well as by contemporary figures such as Massimo Recalcati and James Owen Weatherall, while musically speaking the inspiration comes from bands the likes of Dissection, Emperor and Death as well as by classical music and film composers such as Alexandre Desplat, showcasing all the talent and passion for dark music by vocalist and guitarist Sirius (Necrosy, Supremacy), guitarist Sartorius (As Memory Dies), bassist Theo (From the Shores), and drummer Res (Supremacy).

The cinematic and absolutely epic intro Demise Of The Sun sets the stage for Obscura Qalma to crush our souls in Impure Black Enlightenment, a lecture in Symphonic Black Metal with Res smashing his drums manically accompanied by the wicked riffage by Sirius and Sartorius, all spiced up by an imposing atmosphere and the demonic growls by Sirius. Then keeping the ambience as dark and sulfurous as possible the quartet blasts the venomous Gemini, with Theo and his rumbling bass adding a touch of aggressiveness to the overall result, not to mention how infernal the drums sound once again; and their onrush of obscurity goes on in The Forbidden Pantheon, another epic, massive Blackened Death Metal extravaganza led by the hellish vociferations by Sirius, sounding old school but at the same time offering the listener a fresh and modern twist. There’s no time to breathe as the quartet keeps decimating our souls in Transcending The Sefirot, with Res sounding like a three-headed beast behind his drums supported by the whimsical riffs and solos by Sirius and Sartorius.

It can’t get any more symphonic than in Paradise Lost, a dense, multi-layered creation by Obscura Qalma showcasing their trademark fusion of classic Death and Black Metal with movie-inspired scores and wicked sounds, and you better get ready to have your neck broken in half to the sound of Fleshbound, a pulverizing Blackened Death Metal tune where their riffs, bass lines and pounding beats will hammer your head mercilessly until the very last second. Never tired of bringing forward their passion and admiration for the dark side of music, it’s time for Sirius to roar in anger in The Telemachus Complex, a beautiful composition that will leave you completely disoriented, with Res taking the lead with his intricate and furious beats, whereas not a single moment of peace is offered to us all in Imperial Cult, with its background elements creating an interesting paradox with the savagery crafted by all band members. Lastly, we’re treated to Awaken A Shrine To Oblivion, starting in a more alternative and futuristic manner and evolving into their usual sound, albeit not as compelling as its predecessors.

You can enjoy all the obscurity and fury of Apotheosis by streaming the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your utmost support to those talented Italian metallers you should purchase the album from their BandCamp page or Big Cartel, from the Rising Nemesis Records’ BandCamp page or Big Cartel, or simply click HERE for different places where you can buy or stream the album. In addition to all that, don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their wicked music. “From the nihilistic foundations of European culture and epistemological solipsism to astrophysics and psychoanalysis, Apotheosis dwells on the limits of human knowledge and the impassable boundaries of its own existence,” commented the band about their newborn spawn, creating epic and dark Death Metal that exists in its own philosophically inspired realm and, therefore, paving a promising path ahead of the band in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Impure Black Enlightenment, Paradise Lost and The Telemachus Complex.

Worst moments of the album: Awaken A Shrine To Oblivion.

Released in 2021 Rising Nemesis Records

Track listing
1. Demise Of The Sun 1:24
2. Impure Black Enlightenment 4:07
3. Gemini 5:17
4. The Forbidden Pantheon 5:01
5. Transcending The Sefirot 4:33
6. Paradise Lost 6:23
7. Fleshbound 4:01
8. The Telemachus Complex 5:28
9. Imperial Cult 4:28
10. Awaken A Shrine To Oblivion 5:57

Band members
Sirius – vocals, guitar
Sartorius – guitar
Theo – bass, backing vocals
Res – drums, additional percussion

Album Review – Eleine / Dancing In Hell (2020)

The time has come for us all to dance in the fires of hell to the sound of the striking new opus by this unstoppable Swedish Symphonic Metal group.

My dear metalheads, if you haven’t taken a listen yet at any of the songs from Dancing In Hell, the brand new opus by Landskrona, Sweden-based Symphonic Metal unity Eleine, I highly recommend you do so as soon as possible and get ready to be absolutely stunned by frontwoman Madeleine “Eleine” Liljestam, guitarist Rikard Ekberg, bassist Anton Helgesson and Jesper Sunnhagen throughout the 50 minutes of first-class, undisputed music found in what’s most probably the best Symphonic Metal album of 2020. With Dancing In Hell, the follow-up to their awesome 2019 EP All Shall Burn,  Eleine sound even more powerful, beautiful and unique than in their previous releases, taking a natural step into darker and heavier sounds and setting a new standard within the symphonic genre with hard-hitting, melodic and seductive metal hymns. Written and produced by Rikard and Madeleine, mixed, mastered and co-recorded by Thomas “Plec” Johansson at The Panic Room, and featuring another incendiary and sexy artwork by Néstor Ávalos, the album brings forward stories of inner demons, strength and loss, all embraced by majestic passages, heavy-as-hell riffs and the always sharp and hypnotizing voice of the one and only Madeleine.

Eleine kick off their amazing album with Enemies, originally released in their incendiary 2019 EP, and I won’t repeat myself and say how awesome this tune is. Simply enjoy all of its power and epicness, which is also the case in the title-track Dancing in Hell, one of the band’s heaviest compositions since their inception, offering our ears a massive wall of sounds boosted by symphonic elements with Jesper being unstoppable on drums, while Eleine embellishes the airwaves with her piercing vocals as usual. Then in Ava of Death we’re treated to in-your-face words beautifully declaimed by Eleine (“We will not forgive / Nor will we forget / The willful deceit that spread / Your future is dark / Soon filled with regret”) while Rikard and Anton slash their stringed weapons in a true headbanging mode, whereas it’s time to go full symphonic and epic in Crawl from the Ashes, with Jesper dictating the song’s imposing rhythm while Rikard continues to add the word “metal” to the overall musicality. And Eleine kidnaps our senses once again in As I Breathe, giving life to the song’s dark lyrics (“Have you no eyes at all / You’re standing against your own kind / Sickness from mind and heart / Eating flesh of those who risk it all / We’ll rise / You’ll fall / We run / You crawl”) while her bandmates fire a crisp fusion of Symphonic, Melodic and Groove Metal.

Anton takes the lead with his rumbling, metallic bass jabs in Memoriam, a mid-tempo symphonic tune tailored for admirers of the music by bands like Epica and Nightwish where all background elements only make the song even more thrilling and vibrant, followed by Where Your Rotting Corpse Lie (W.Y.R.C.L.), almost six minutes of grandiose metal music for our total delight where Rikard is not only bestial with his flammable riffs but also with his sick, deep guttural, while Jesper keeps the atmosphere heavy and dense with his unstoppable drums. All Shall Burn is the second song from their 2019 EP, and once again there’s nothing else to say about such amazing and imposing tune, whereas Die from Within is a lot more melodic than its predecessors, with Rikard sounding astounding on the guitar while Eleine brings her touch of finesse and passion to this metallic Opera-inspired tune, showcasing a beautiful paradox between her angelical voice and Rikard’s harsh roars. Lastly, after the serene and melancholic piano interlude The World We Knew, the band offers us all a cinematic and symphonic version for Die from Within, even more enfolding than the original one, with Eleine displaying all her vocal potency, therefore having an absolutely passionate performance supported by all the song’s booming orchestrations.

As already mentioned in the beginning of this review, Eleine are absolutely majestic throughout the entire Dancing In Hell, not only perfectly representing all the magic, epicness and feeling of classic Symphonic Metal in each of the album’s 11 tracks, but also sounding fresh and distinguished in a genre that’s considered already saturated by many critics and fans from all over the world. If you don’t believe me, you’ll have to wait a few more days to be undoubtedly surprised by Madeleine, Rikard & Co. when Dancing In Hell is officially released, but until then you can obviously take a look at what the band’s up to on Facebook and on Instagram, watch all of their astonishing official videos (including all the singles already released from their new album) on YouTube, stream more of their music on Spotify and, above all, purchase a copy or select your favorite streaming version of the album by clicking HERE or HERE, as well as buy a great selection of music, tees, prints and accessories from their own webstore. The time has come for us all to dance in the scorching fires of hell, and there’s nothing better than Eleine’s striking new album to serve as our devilish soundtrack to that.

Best moments of the album: Enemies, Dancing in Hell, As I Breathe and Where Your Rotting Corpse Lie (W.Y.R.C.L.).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Black Lodge Records

Track listing
1. Enemies 5:22
2. Dancing in Hell 5:06
3. Ava of Death 4:06
4. Crawl from the Ashes 4:02
5. As I Breathe 3:56
6. Memoriam 6:15
7. Where Your Rotting Corpse Lie (W.Y.R.C.L.) 5:55
8. All Shall Burn 4:21
9. Die from Within 4:38
10. The World We Knew 1:35
11. Die from Within (Symphonic Version) 4:34

Band members
Madeleine “Eleine” Liljestam – vocals
Rikard Ekberg – guitar, growls, vocals
Anton Helgesson – bass
Jesper Sunnhagen – drums

Album Review – Eleine / All Shall Burn EP (2019)

Let us all burn together with this awesome Symphonic Metal unity hailing from Sweden in their brand new EP.

“United we join the fight, against our enemies.”

As Christmas is just around the corner, Landskrona, Sweden-based Symphonic Metal unity Eleine is ready to help you select a nice and exciting gift for your beloved metal friends with the release of a brand new EP entitled All Shall Burn, the follow-up to their 2018 full-length album Until the End. Featuring a dark, demonic and sexy artwork made by Mexican artist Néstor Ávalos in collaboration with the band’s frontwoman Madeleine “Eleine” Liljestam, All Shall Burn mirrors a rough period in time festered with pain and despair, yet also relief and unity. Taking a step into the darker and heavier realms of metal music, the band now comprised of the aforementioned Madeleine, guitarist Rikard Ekberg, and newcomers Ludwig Dante on the guitar, Anton Helgesson on bass and Jesper Sunnhagen on drums managed to maintain their seductive sound with beautiful symphonies and melodies from their previous albums in All Shall Burn, while at the same time giving us fans a taste of what to expect from the band in their future releases.

And let the feast of epicness and melody by Eleine begin with the opening track Enemies, which kicks off in a truly ominous way before exploding into dark and dense Symphonic Metal led by Rikard and Ludwig’s heavy-as-hell riffs, sounding and feeling absolutely majestic from start to finish, all embraced by the poetic lyrics stunningly declaimed by Madeleine (“Blood fills my lungs / A foul taste on my tongue / A shifting of the sands / This madness will not stand / Touch me and you’ll die / Challenge your fate no I don’t mind / I face this with a smile / The truth always survives”). The title-track All Shall Burn is just as exciting and imposing as its predecessor, offering the listener a more neck-breaking rhythm with Jesper smashing his drums beautifully. Furthermore, Madeleine and Rikard have an entertaining duel the likes of “Beauty and the Beast” with their respective operatic vocals and harsh roars, turning it into a mandatory addition to their upcoming live performances.

After two original songs it’s time for Eleine to kick some serious ass with their cover version for Mein Herz Brennt, one of the biggest classics by Neue Deutsche Härte trailblazers Rammstein (take a listen at the original version HERE), and Eleine did a fantastic job by adding their own symphonic twist to it. Not only that, it’s impressive how a Swedish band can sound so German, with the bass punches by Anton making your head tremble while Madeleine brings a delicious feminine touch to the overall musicality. The last two tracks in all Shall Burn are gorgeous symphonic versions for the songs Hell Moon (We Shall Never Die), from their 2018 album (and you can compare it to the original version by clicking HERE), and All Shall Burn, and in both cases Eleine bring to our avid ears a mesmerizing, orchestral atmosphere focusing on the the vocal duet between Madeleine and Rikard. Can you imagine the band playing these songs accompanied by a full-bodied orchestra? That should sound breathtaking, no doubt about that.

As mentioned in the beginning of this review, in case you still don’t know what to give to that metalhead you love so much this Christmas, let Eleine help you with All Shall Burn, a short and (extremely) sweet display of their classic Symphonic Metal with some brilliant add-ons in the form of their Rammstein cover song and two orchestral masterpieces. You can listen to the EP in full on Spotify and purchase it from the band’s own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all options where you can find the EP), and don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know information about them. Let us all burn together with Eleine to the sound of the incendiary Symphonic Metal found in their new EP, reminding us all why Madeleine and the boys have been on a constant and awesome rise since the band’s inception, becoming one of the biggest names of the modern Scandinavian scene.

Best moments of the album: Enemies and Mein Herz Brennt.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Black Lodge Records

Track listing
1. Enemies 5:22
2. All Shall Burn 4:21
3. Mein Herz Brennt (Rammstein cover) 4:41
4. Hell Moon (We Shall Never Die) (Symphonic version) 4:32
5. All Shall Burn (Symphonic version) 4:21

Band members
Madeleine “Eleine” Liljestam – vocals
Rikard Ekberg – guitar, growls, vocals
Ludwig Dante – guitar
Anton Helgesson – bass
Jesper Sunnhagen – drums

Album Review – Kaoteon / Damnatio Memoriae (2018)

Blending a dark atmosphere with Middle-Eastern riffs and incendiary lyrics, here comes a fearless Lebanese horde armed with their brand new album of skull-crushing Black Metal.

Brought into being as a one-man project in 1998 by Anthony Kaoteon (Death Drive) in the scorching fires of Ashrafieh, one of the oldest districts of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, under the name Chaotaeon (from the merger of Chaotic and Aeon), Black/Death Metal act Kaoteon is one of those bands that keep fighting for metal and for freedom of speech no matter how hideous the consequences might be for them. For instance, in 2001 the band was forced to change their name to Kaoteon after an incident with the authorities in which they got arrested, where the police though that Chaotaeon was the translation of “devils” from Arabic, leading to false accusations that the band is satanic. In addition, on December 20, 2003 while the band was playing live, a handful of undercover police entered the club with automatic rifles, took the band hostage, locked them in the trunks of unmarked cars, and interrogated them for days, shuttling them from one location to another.

Blending a brutally dark atmosphere with riffs that range from anthemic post-rock to Middle-Eastern folklore and incendiary lyrics driven by the band’s background in their turbulent homeland, Kaoteon (now based in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands) return once again to darken our souls with their brand new opus titled Damnatio Memoriae, the ancient Latin punishment of eradicating a person or figure from all memory and mention. Featuring a somber artwork by Mexican musician and artist Néstor Ávalos (Black Arts) as well as bass wizard Linus Klausenitzer of Obscura and drum master Fredrik Widigs of Marduk as session musicians, joining full-time members Anthony Kaoteon on guitar and Walid Wolflust (Ordum) on vocals, Damnatio Memoriae brings nine skull-crushing, unrelenting and explosive Black Metal hymns that will undoubtedly leave you feeling ravaged and raw after all is said and done.

The title-track Damnatio Memoriae is a modern and vibrant Black Metal composition that will fulminate your senses, bringing forward sheer aggression from the very first second. Furthermore, Fredrik as we all know is a demonic beast on drums, generating the perfect demolishing vibe for Walid to declaim the song’s controversial lyrics through his enraged roars (“My heaven differs from yours. / Where is the loving light? Where is the eternal peace? / Desolate, grey, tyrannic, lonesome / Lit with my passion to burn”). If that start wasn’t demented enough for you, Kaoteon keep burning our souls with their blackened music in Barren Lands, where Anthony is absolutely on fire with his guitar accompanied by Linus and his menacing bass, sounding devastating from start to finish, whereas in Raging HellFire they managed to sound even more visceral and disturbing, with Walid barking and screaming like a rabid beast in a flammable display of brutal (and therefore fantastic) Black Metal (and don’t forget to check the song’s guitar playthrough by Anthony HERE).

In the pulverizing Venom of Exalt, be prepared to be completely crushed by the nonstrop blast beats by Fredrik, while Anthony delivers more of his always insane riffs. In addition, Walid is in his most hellish mode, growling harsher and harsher as the music evolves in this tune highly recommended for lovers of true extreme music. Taking their sonority to the extreme, Kaoteon deliver another explosion of devilish growls, intricate beats and endless hatred flowing from Anthony’s stringed ax in The Will, with the desperate screams by Walid increasing the impact of this already boisterous song. And a soulful guitar solo by Anthony ignites a feast of darkened sounds entitled Non Serviam, blending old school Black Metal with contemporary Blackened Death Metal in a dense and menacing ambience. Needless to say, that powerful combination turns it into one of the top songs of the entire album.

In Light of Compassion their sounding keeps growing darker and darker, showcasing a fierce neck-breaking riff supported by the pounding drums by Fredrik, with Walid firing some deep enraged gnarls. Moreover, the last part of this chant is a thrilling Black Metal demolition with hints of old school Death Metal, piercing our minds mercilessly. The second to last tune in Damnatio Memoriae, the incredible sonic onrush of Black and Death Metal named Into the Mouth of Kaos, presents a high level of dementia bursting from Walid’s screams, with the riffs by Anthony exhaling pure Black Metal while Fredrik doesn’t stop detonating our ears with his crushing performance. And last but not least, it’s time for A Breath, a slightly different version of Kaoteon bringing forward more progressiveness than their usual destruction thanks to the intricate guitar lines by Anthony, and the final result couldn’t sound more compelling and vibrant, ending this sensational album of Extreme Metal in the best way possible.

While online, I suggest you go check out this interesting article about Kaoteon and their fascinating origin story via Revolver Magazine, giving you a much better idea of how hard it is to be a metal fan in the Middle-East. As a matter of fact, Kaoteon said in a group statement that “Lebanese metalheads are some of the friendliest and most amazing people to hang out with. It is sad to see great potential in this world gone to waste because someone somewhere decided to label people at birth and imprison them into their borders. The scene itself is thirsty for metal, so international bands should expect amazing interaction from the crowd. The Dutch scene – where we exist now – shows strong support for local talent, unlike the Lebanese scene. The Dutch scene loves their bands above all, while we feel that the Lebanese metal scene favors the international bands.” Hence, why not showing your support to true Lebanese metal by liking Kaoteon’s official Facebook page, subscribing to their YouTube channel and, above all that, purchasing the awesome Damnatio Memoriae from their BandCamp page, from CD Baby, from iTunes or from Amazon? Bands like Kaoteon are the reason why we all know from the bottom of our hearts that heavy music will never die, proving the passion for metal and for freedom of speech can beat any type of adversity, even if that means you’re putting your life at risk.

Best moments of the album: Damnatio Memoriae, Raging HellFire, Non Serviam and Into the Mouth of Kaos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Damnatio Memoriae 4:33
2. Barren Lands 5:26
3. Raging HellFire 4:26
4. Venom of Exalt 4:35
5. The Will 5:41
6. Non Serviam 4:46
7. Light of Compassion 4:29
8. Into the Mouth of Kaos 4:18
9. A Breath 4:57

Band members
Walid WolfLust – vocals
Anthony Kaoteon – guitars

Guest musicians
Linus Klausenitzer – bass (session)
Fredrik Widigs – drums (session)