Album Review – Am Himmel / As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow (2022)

An ecclesiastical nightmare formed by emanations from the metaphysical voids trapped in the eternal light arises to the sound of its debut effort of unearthly Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal.

“As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit…”

An ecclesiastical nightmare formed by emanations from the metaphysical voids trapped in the eternal light, Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal entity Am Himmel, which translates as “in the sky” from German, is the new solo project from vocalist and multi-instrumentalist JMKP, an old soul from the Netherlands whose inspiration lies between doomy synth-based Drone, raw Black Metal and Shoegaze, channeling ancient and metaphysical energies through the combination of eerie soundscapes with raw and buzzing extreme music in his newborn beast entitled As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow. There’s a sinister and unearthly atmosphere surrounding the whole record, not just from the devilish growls and shrieks, but also from the hypnotic mystical synth layers, being therefore highly recommended for admirers of the music by Urfaust, Lurker of Chalice and Xasthur, among other servants of darkness.

Bleared By The Infinite Wings is darkly noisy from the very first second, inviting us all to the ethereal world of Am Himmel by blending the melancholy of Atmospheric Black Metal with the obscurity of Doom Metal. Moreover, JMKP does an amazing job with both his sluggish beats and anguished gnarls, and continuing his path of darkness it’s time for The Patience And Silence Of A Saint’s Death, even more somber than its predecessor with our lone wolf’s devilish roars penetrating deep inside your mind in a lecture in Atmospheric Black Metal. Then get ready for over seven minutes of whimsical passages, slow and steady beats and cryptic vociferations in the form of The Virgin Wages Celestial War In The Seraphim Courts, flowing smoothly until the very last second thanks to the piercing riffage by the project’s mastermind; whereas adding elements from Drone and Ambient music to his core sonority JMKP offers us all the visceral The Fumes Of Thy Preposterous Torment, where all background elements match perfectly with his demented gnarling and vile beats, resulting in first-class extreme music. Once again bring to our ears sheer obscurity and despair, JMKP will drag you to his Stygian lair to the sound of his hypnotizing drums and screaming guitars in The Bewildered Firstling Thrusts The Knife Into Her Brother; and lastly, our multi-talented Dutch metaller brings forward another round of wicked, venomous sounds in the title-track As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow, a song which not only concludes the album on a high note, but that will also please at the same time fans of old school Black Metal and admirers of modern-day Atmospheric Metal hands down.

If you want to put your doomed hands on As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow, you can soon purchase it directly from Am Himmel’s own BandCamp page, as well as from the Burning World Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (for the US or the rest of the world customers). A starless kingdom bereft of celestial pureness, evoking strange rituals in the gothic catacombs of Christianity and insanity, Am Himmel will certainly change your view of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal for the better, with As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow beautifully representing everything JMKP and his new project stand for and, consequently, positioning it not only as one of the most promising names of the Dutch scene, but also as one of the driving forces of the genre worldwide.

Best moments of the album: The Patience And Silence Of A Saint’s Death and The Fumes Of Thy Preposterous Torment.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Burning World Records

Track listing
1. Bleared By The Infinite Wings 6:56
2. The Patience And Silence Of A Saint’s Death 5:12
3. The Virgin Wages Celestial War In The Seraphim Courts 7:22
4. The Fumes Of Thy Preposterous Torment 6:31
5. The Bewildered Firstling Thrusts The Knife Into Her Brother 6:25
6. As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow 5:23

Band members
JMKP – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Rotten Casket / First Nail in the Casket EP (2022)

After a long time in peace and silence, this Dutch horde is ready to kill once again armed with a brand new EP of pulverizing Death Metal.

After a long time in peace and silence, the Dutch Death Metal collective that goes by the name of Rotten Casket is lifting the coffin lid and crawling back onto this planet to shed earthy rotten tunes onto mankind with their brand new EP First Nail in the Casket, following up on their 2015 EP’s Simply Rotten Death and Consumed by Filth. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Tom Meier, and displaying a raw, old school artwork by Roberto Toderico, First Nail in the Casket is not only a harbinger for the first full-length album by vocalist Martin van Drunen (Asphyx), guitarists Frank Bergesson and Yorck Segatz (Sodom), bassist Patrick van der Beek (Disabuse, Born Infected), and drummer Stefan “Husky” Hüskens (Asphyx), but also a statement that Rotten Casket are back on track again and ready to kill, paving a pulverizing path ahead of the band.

A demented roar by Martin ignites the Hardcore-infused Death Metal attack entitled Covid-119, with Frank and Yorck showing no mercy four our damned souls with their infernal riffs while Patrick and Stefan keep the atmosphere as dense and obscure as possible with their wicked kitchen. Then adding elements of D-Beast Crust to their already chaotic sonority it’s time for the quintet to pulverize us all in Caskets on Wheels, with their guitars breathing fire while Patrick continues to hammer his bass mercilessly, whereas Bonetomb Residents is another headbanger that will inspire you to slam into the pit while holding a cold beer in a display of traditional Death Metal with an European twist. Not only that, Martin’s raspy, anguished growls add an extra touch of insanity to the overall result for our vulgar delectation. Lastly, get ready for one final explosion of dementia and rage in the form of Death Metal in Coffin Birth, with Martin’s vociferations being in total sync with Frank and Yorck’s evil guitars, sounding evil and dirty from start to finish.

It’s extremely easy to enjoy First Nail in the Casket in its entirety and to show your support to the band by purchasing a copy of the album. Simply go to YouTube and to Spotify for a full stream of the EP, and grab a copy of it from the band’s own BandCamp page, from Lycanthropic Chants as an LP or as a cassette, from Supreme Chaos Records as a CD or as an LP, from Apple Music, or click HERE for multiple ways you can buy the album. Also, let’s show our admiration for Rotten Casket by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, getting to know more about the band, their tour dates and plans for the future. First Nail in the Casket might not exactly be their first nail in the casket, but it’s not their last either, proving those Dutch metallers still have a lot of fuel to burn armed with their undisputed Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: Covid-119 and Caskets on Wheels.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Lycanthropic Chants/Supreme Chaos Records

Track listing
1. Covid-119 6:06
2. Caskets on Wheels 3:54
3. Bonetomb Residents 3:59
4. Coffin Birth 4:24

Band members
Martin van Drunen – vocals
Frank Bergesson – guitars
Yorck Segatz – guitars
Patrick van der Beek – bass
Stefan “Husky” Hüskens – drums

Album Review – Defacement / Defacement (2021)

A dissonant Death and Black Metal statement of utter violence and despair against the endless inner struggle caused by the growing lack of meaning in this thing we call life.

3.5rating

defacement-defacement-2021What started in 2019 as the side project of an underground Black Metal band called Deathcrush quickly evolved into one of the most promising acts in the realm of dissonant Death and Black Metal and certainly one that doesn’t fear to experiment, although they remain faithful to Extreme Metal’s sonic roots. I’m talking about Utrecht, Netherlands-based entity Defacement, who after their self-produced debut Deviant are back from the underworld with their self-titled sophomore opus, a statement of utter violence and despair against the endless inner struggle caused by the growing lack of meaning in this thing we call life. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Catacomben Studios, displaying a sinister cover painting by Dusty Ray, and with art direction and layout by Francesco Gemelli, the album is a work poised between horror and introspection, showcasing all the talent and obscurity by vocalist and bassist Forsaken Ahmed, guitarist Khalil Azagoth and drummer Mark Bestia.

Limbo I is a beyond eerie intro sounding as if the gates to the netherworld have been wide open, haunting our souls before Defacement come ripping like a ravaging beast in Shattered, where Mark is simply demonic behind his drums, providing Ahmed all he needs to roar and scream in great Death Metal fashion (not to mention the pulverizing riffage by Khalil). In other words, it’s a lecture in modern-day Death and Black Metal, offering us all almost ten minutes of disturbing sounds and noises, endless obscurity and absolutely no sign of hope. Then even more atmospheric and ethereal, the interlude Limbo II will warm up our senses for the Blackened Doom-infused aria Disavowed, another vile and Stygian creation by the trio with Mark dictating the song’s infernal pace while Ahmed continues to burst his lungs vociferating nonstop, always accompanied by Khalil and his razor-edged guitar lines.

The second act of the album begins with the interlude entitled Limbo III, offering more whimsical sounds while at the same time warning us all of the dissonant metal attack that’s about to come in Disenchanted, which begins in full force to the hellish blast beats by Mark. Needless to say, Khalil is once again on fire with his intricate and extremely caustic riffage, while Ahmed showcases all the dark and fury inside his heart through his putrid roars, followed by their last instrumental bridge Limbo IV, once again displaying serene and calming sounds before Defacement crush our souls one last time in Wounded, featuring guest vocals by Brendan Sloan (Convulsing). The band brings to our ears over eight minutes of sheer brutality and dementia in the form of Death and Black Metal, with the riffs by Khalil reminding me of classic names of the Norwegian scene such as Mayhem and Immortal, flowing majestically until its hammering grand finale.

defacement-2021Although the album is only going to be launched in the beginning of September, you can already pre-order your copy from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page and from Apple Music, and while you wait for it you should definitely start following Defacement on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know information about the band, and stream more of their visceral music on Spotify. From chaotic blasting madness to melancholic slow passages and ambient interludes, Defacement’s atmospheric journey into the depths of the mind is going to leave a mark in the Extreme Metal scene, as well as an ugly scar on your soul, pointing to a promising and utterly vile path ahead of those unrelenting Dutch metallers.

Best moments of the album: Shattered and Wounded.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing 
1. Limbo I 2:06
2. Shattered 9:30
3. Limbo II 0:55
4. Disavowed 6:38
5. Limbo III 1:05
6. Disenchanted 9:51
7. Limbo IV 1:12
8. Wounded 7:55

Band members
Forsaken Ahmed – vocals, bass
Khalil Azagoth – guitars
Mark Bestia – drums

Guest musician
Brendan Sloan – vocals on “Wounded”

Album Review – Dauthuz / Cold (2021)

Enjoy the new album by this ruthless squad that has been assaulting Dutch eardrums with their own twisted version of skull crushing, pounding Death Metal since 2015.

3.5rating

dauthuz-cold-2021Since their inception in 2015 in Zaanstad, a Dutch municipality in the province of North Holland, the ruthless Death Metal squad known as Dauthuz (old school slang for “the process of dying”) has been assaulting Dutch eardrums with their own twisted version of skull crushing, pounding Death Metal, and that couldn’t have been any different with their sophomore opus straightforwardly entitled Cold. Why Cold? Because cold are the calculations that operate the war machine, cold is the broken heart of the vengeful stalker, cold feels the barrel of the gun in the mouth of the victim, cold are the limbs of the last survivor on the frozen plain, and cold are those on the six feet deep descent. In other words, cold is death, and that’s exactly what vocalist Emiel Selderbeek, guitarists Dennis Jak and Hans Bijland, bassist Tim Roeper and drummer Bas Polder bring forth in their new album, recorded and produced by Dennis Jak, mixed and mastered by Kristian Kohle of the infamous Kohlekeller Studio, and featuring a stylish artwork by Italian artist Roberto Toderico.

The Evil Wicked Do is infernal and heavy right from the very first second thanks to the smashing drums by Bas and the visceral, deep growling by Emiel, or in other words, it’s classic Death Metal from the 90’s that kicks off the album on an aggressive and demented mode, and there’s no time to breath as the quintet keeps hammering our cranial skulls mercilessly in the fast and furious A New Dawn, where Dennis and Hans are unstoppable with their wicked riffage. Let’s keep slamming into the circle pit to the sound of The Dead, a pure Death Metal feast spearheaded by the strident guitars by Dennis and Hans while Emiel continues to roar and bark manically, accompanied by the rumbling bass by Tim and ending in a truly menacing way; whereas your ideal soundtrack to the end of the world must contain the song The Apocalypse, a fulminating lecture in old school Death Metal where Bas is once again infernal behind his drums, elevating the song’s darkness to a whole new level.

The title-track Cold will blacken your hearts and minds to the sound of the headbanging riffs by the band’s guitar duo while Emiel continues his path of savagery on vocals, not to mention the grim aura that permeates the air throughout the entire song, whereas investing in a darker and heavier sonority the likes of Unleashed, this unrelenting Dutch squad fires the massive tune Hellborn, inviting us all to crack our necks headbanging like true metalheads while Dennis and Hans deliver some sick guitar solos for our total delight.  Even more demented than its predecessors, Gore is a lecture in venomous Death Metal where Emiel sounds like a demonic entity on vocals while his bandmates make sure every single space in the air is filled with hatred and, of course, gore; followed by Termination, not as dynamic nor as detailed as the rest of the album albeit still presenting the band’s obscurity and heaviness from start to finish, with Emiel stealing the spotlight with his Stygian growling. Lastly, there’s nothing better than a pulverizing tune the likes of Crossfire to conclude the album, with all band members being on fire, bringing forth sheer malignancy while Bas once again takes the lead with his blast beats.

dauthuz-2021The unrelenting, demented Death Metal crafted by Dauthuz in Cold can be fully appreciated on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to the underground you should definitely purchase the album from the band’s Big Cartel, from Apple Music or from Amazon, as well as follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and all things Dauthuz, and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music. Death Metal made in the Netherlands can’t get any colder than this, and by that I mean any darker nor heavier than what Dauthuz offer us all in their new album, setting fire to their path of devastation and pointing to a bright future ahead of such hardworking Dutch act.

Best moments of the album: The Evil Wicked Do, The Apocalypse and Gore.

Worst moments of the album: Termination.

Released in 2021 Stageblast Records

Track listing
1. The Evil Wicked Do 4:00
2. A New Dawn 2:52
3. The Dead 6:13
4. The Apocalypse 3:20
5. Cold 4:51
6. Hellborn 5:10
7. Gore 4:03
8. Termination 4:56
9. Crossfire 7:10

Band members
Emiel Selderbeek – vocals
Dennis Jak – guitars
Hans Bijland – guitars
Tim Roeper – bass
Bas Polder – drums

Album Review – Helestios / Your Pain Tastes Good (2020)

Drawing upon ancient mythology while at the same time looking at the current state of the world, this newborn multi-cultural metal act is ready to attack armed with the fusion of melody and fury from their debut release.

Combining the melodic approach and broad appeal of Metallica with the ferocity and thematic invention of Sepultura, Basingstoke, UK-based Power/Thrash Metal outfit Helestios is ready to conquer the world of heavy music with their debut album titled Your Pain Tastes Good, a reminder of how metal stays true to itself and its fans, reflecting the reality of life and urging people to think for themselves and move forward positively. Formed in early 2020 by Henrijs Leja on vocals and guitar, Stelios Aggelis on lead guitar, Agnis Aldiņš on bass and Ian den Boer on drums, all skillful musicians hailing from Latvia, Greece and Netherlands, Helestios are both the power and the fury we need to inspire us, with their new album offering our ears both traditional metal riffing and melodic structure as well as more aggressive and atmospheric tones, and with its lyrics drawing upon ancient mythology while at the same time looking at the state of the world around us right now.

Wicked vocalizations and the slashing riffs by Henrijs and Stelios ignite Helestios’ metal machine in Sacrifice, blending the fury of the Groove Metal by Lamb of God with the Power Metal by bands like Gamma Ray and Primal Fear, whereas Black Storm, a churning sea of riffs and tales told in the ancient mythologies of Syria and Egypt, sounds and feels as modern as the opening track with Ian dictating the rhythm with his classic beats accompanied by the thunderous bass by Agnis and the deep roars by Henrijs, keeping the album at a high level of animosity and rage. And  let’s keep banging our heads together with those four metallers in Downgraded World, presenting another amazing job done by the band’s guitar duo with their incendiary riffs and solos and all spiced up by the powerful vocal performance by Henrijs; and Back to Where it Starts offers us all more of their solid fusion of Thrash and Power Metal, albeit not as exciting as its predecessors. It still showcases a great work done by the stringed trio with their venomous riffage and rumbling bass, though.

The title-track Your Pain Tastes Good begins in an ominous manner before exploding into another round of Helestios’ infuriated metal music, again bringing forward a nice mix of harsh growls and clean vocals while Ian adds tons of progressiveness and intricacy to the music with his beats. Then it’s time for a metal onslaught spearheaded by the flammable guitars by Henrijs an Stelios in All Attack, a modern-day Thrash Metal extravaganza with hints of Death and Groove Metal written in support of the Belorussian people who have spent recent months fighting to overthrow what many see as one of the last tyrannies of Europe. Put differently, it can’t get any heavier nor darker than this, I might say.  And the quartet continues to slam their instruments in great fashion in You Are Free, where its headbanging rhythm is nicely boosted by Ian’s massive drums while also bringing forward very melodic lines exploding from their guitars and vocals. And last but not least, hypnotizing guitars kick off their final breath of Thrash Metal entitled Return to Baalbek, with Henrijs sounding truly demonic on vocals, therefore resulting in the perfect soundtrack for slamming into the circle pit in an amazing hybrid of sheer aggressiveness and soulful melodies.

In a nutshell, although Helestios might be a brand new name in the metal community, each band member know exactly what they are doing in Your Pain Tastes Good, sounding as polished, professional, focused and aggressive as any of the big names of the Thrash and Power Metal scene. Hence, don’t forget to show this talented, multi-cultural metal act your support by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by streaming more of their powerful music on Spotify, and by grabbing your copy of their top-notch debut album from different locations sooner than you can say the word “pain”. Helestios’ fusion of melody and fury will surely please all fans of Heavy Metal in general, leaving us eager for more of their thrilling creations and, of course, putting a huge smile on our faces for knowing underground metal music in the UK is alive and kicking as usual.

Best moments of the album: Sacrifice, All Attack and Return to Baalbek.

Worst moments of the album: Back to Where it Starts.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Sacrifice 4:46
2. Black Storm 3:08
3. Downgraded World 4:05
4. Back to Where it Starts 3:39
5. Your Pain Tastes Good 5:45
6. All Attack 3:57
7. You Are Free 3:44
8. Return to Baalbek 5:11

Band members
Henrijs Leja – vocals, guitar
Stelios Aggelis – lead guitar
Agnis Aldiņš – bass
Ian den Boer – drums

Album Review – Hvalross / Cold Dark Rain (2020)

Rocking since they were teenagers in punk, metal, prog and rock bands, this fantastic Dutch four-piece act is ready to kick some ass armed with their electrifying debut opus.

Rocking since they were teenagers in punk, metal, prog and rock bands, Roosendaal, Netherlands-based Hard Rock/Stoner Metal act Hvalross, which is by the way the Norwegian word for “walrus” (and don’t ask me why they opted for such distinct name for their band), was born in 2018 after lead singer Gerben van Oosterhout, guitarist Barry Veeke, bassist Maarten Vermeulen and drummer Tristan de Rijk decided to end their three-year musical break to make great hard rocking music together. Heavily influenced by bands such as Mastodon, Judas Priest, Gojira, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, but of course with their own Dutch twist, Hvalross have just unleashed upon humanity their debut album, entitled Cold Dark Rain, offering fans of Doom, Stoner and Southern Metal a very good reason for raising their horns and bang their heads to the sound of nine original, heavy-as-hell and groovy compositions in the span of 35 intense minutes.

And it’s time for the quartet to kill in the opening tune Death From Above, a headbanging extravaganza led by the classic riffage by Barry and the pounding beats by Tristan, or in other words, a fusion of old school Hard Rock the likes of AC/DC with heavier and groovier styles that will please all fans of our good old Rock N’ Roll. In Trenchfeet the band sounds clearly inspired by 80’s Heavy Metal infused with Stoner and Doom Metal elements, with Gerben sounding truly epic on vocals supported by the spot-on backing vocals by Maarten. There are no shenanigans nor any artificial elements, it’s straightforward rock music made in the Netherlands for our total delight, and they keep venturing through the realms of Southern Rock and Metal in Finally Repent, where Barry and Maarten make a dynamic stringed duo while Gerben keeps singing with tons of passion. Then I Shot My Best Friend presents a curious name for a high-octane feast of metallic riffs, low-tuned bass jabs and frantic beats, sounding and feeling like an European version of Mastodon with Barry going full progressive on the guitar, while Tristan doesn’t let the level of energy go down not even for a single second.

There’s more of their solid and electrifying rock music in Oblivion, bringing to our ears another round of Gerben’s classic Hard Rock vocal lines accompanied by the groovy bass by Maarten, therefore keeping the album as vibrant as it can be; followed by The Owl, a more melodious and psychedelic tune by Hvalross that will take you on a journey through the 70’s and 80’s to the sound of their strident riffage, rumbling bass and classic beats, with Tristan once again stealing the spotlight with his refined technique. As I Am is a truly neck-breaking Stoner Rock and Metal exhibit by the quartet, blending the groove by Mastodon with the obscurity of Black Sabbath and sounding very detailed from start to finish, with Gerben kicking ass yet again on vocals, whereas the quartet puts the pedal to the metal in the thrilling Playing The Big Game, presenting nonstop sonic action by all band members with Gerben’s vocals being boosted by the incendiary riffs by Barry and the crushing drums by Tristan. Lastly, a more sinister side of the band is showcased in the closing tune Geryon, which despite being another solid and detailed composition it’s not as electrifying as the rest of the album. Maarten’s thunderous bass will punch in the head mercilessly, though, enhancing the song’s impact considerably.

After all is said and done, we must all admit Gerben, Barry, Marteen and Tristan were absolutely precise throughout the entire album, available for a full listen on Spotify, blending elements from all of their rock and metal heroes while at the same time crafting something unique that sounds like Hvalross and nothing else. Hence, as we all love when a band is capable of uniting their passion for heavy music with endless creativity and feeling like the guys from Hvalross did in Cold Dark Rain, let’s show our true support to them by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and obviously by purchasing their newborn opus from their own BandCamp page. And may the walruses of Hard Rock and Stoner Metal keep hammering our heads with their amazing music with countless more albums through the years.

Best moments of the album: Death From Above, I Shot My Best Friend and Playing The Big Game.

Worst moments of the album: Geryon.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Death From Above 3:52
2. Trenchfeet 4:00
3. Finally Repent 3:28
4. I Shot My Best Friend 2:58
5. Oblivion 3:48
6. The Owl 4:02
7. As I Am 3:31
8. Playing The Big Game 3:45
9. Geryon 5:56

Band members
Gerben van Oosterhout – vocals
Barry Veeke – guitars
Maarten Vermeulen – bass, backing vocals
Tristan de Rijk – drums

Interview – Bastiën Baron (Shuulak)

How about an “alchemical” talk with Mr. Bastiën Baron, one of the founders of Dutch metal act Shuulak, talking about their brand new album Citrinitas and their passion for the occult?

Bastiën Baron (Shuulak)

The Headbanging Moose: Can you please begin by introducing the band to our readers? Who are Shuulak, when was the band formed, and what is your main goal in the world of heavy music?

Bastiën Baron: At heart we’re a heavy metal band, but we’ve given it a modern spin and drenched it in occultism. Our goal is to have a street named after us. Or a small town. Preferably the latter.

THM: Although your 2019 EP Citrinitas might be short in duration, there’s a lot of good stuff in each one of its four tracks. Why did you decide to release such a short album instead of a full-length one, and are you satisfied with the final result of the EP?

BB: Thanks for the compliments! There are many reasons for this. But foremostly, releasing a full-length album is a long and costly process. By keeping our releases short, we’re able to do them more frequently, which I think, people will appreciate. Especially in this day and age. That said, as our audience grows, so does demand for a physical release. We’ll relieve the itch soon.

THM: Can you explain in more details the concept behind Citrinitas and its connection to your previous EP’s Nigredo, released in 2017, and Albedo, from 2018?

BB: The EP’s are connected and are named after the steps towards the alchemist’s Magnum Opus; the goal of which is immortality and ultimate knowledge. It’s an ongoing story we’re not finished telling yet.

THM: What’s the main reason why you guys decided to explore such distinct topic in your albums? And can we expect more of this alchemical side of Shuulak in your future releases, or is it time for the band to venture through different lands and concepts?

BB: Alchemy is an exciting journey into the depths of the soul. There are, however, many more paths to take in the world of mysticism and the occult. So, we definitely won’t stop here.

Album Review – Shuulak / Citrinitas EP (2019)

THM: It’s simply fantastic to see more and more bands all over the world with women in their formation who are not only their lead singers, but also guitarists, bassists and drummers, which is exactly the case with Shuulak. How is it to have two girls on the band, Eve Laetitia and Puck Wildschut, taking care of the guitar and bass duties respectively?

BB: To us it’s quite.. normal. We don’t really think about it, to be honest. Though, Eve is really happy about it. She’s been the only girl for a long time, so it’s refreshing to have Puck around.

THM: How does your creative process work, I mean, do you all work together on the music and the lyrics, or are there any duties that are performed by only one or two of the band members? The process seems to be working well, as the music found in your albums sounds great, but is there anything the band thinks that could be done in a different or better way in the future?

BB: Angelo and Eve write the music, Bastiën handles the lyrics and vocals. Though it’s not set in stone, the process is quite fluid and ever changing. There’s a lot of back and forth. I don’t think there’s a ‘best’ or ‘better’ way to do things. Every song is different, and so is the way we write them. We’re constantly refining.

THM: Who are your biggest influences in music and in life in general, and how much do those influences impact the way Shuulak compose music?

BB: Musically we’re inspired by a great many artists but we don’t copy anyone. We’re all big horror fans and this definitely shines through in our music. Stuff like the books of Clive Barker or Dario Argento’s movies definitely inspire us as well as books on the real life history of the occult and ritual magic.

Shuulak

THM: What’s your opinion about the current metal scene in the Netherlands? Do you think this is a good time for bands like Shuulak to release more and more music and to tour around the country? And apart from the big names like Epica, Within Temptation and Delain, what other Dutch metal or even non-metal bands would you recommend to our readers?

BB: The Netherlands are very small, and so is the metal scene here. It’s very cozy and a good place to be. As for us, we’ve got our eyes set further. We frequently visit our southern neighbors in Belgium, as well as our friends in Germany.

It’s true The Netherlands is known for a blossoming female-fronted scene and you’ll find many wonderful bands here, but I would recommend a German band: Crownfall. We played our very first concert in Germany with them and not only are they amazingly talented musicians, they’re wonderful people too. So check them out!

THM: What does the future hold for Shuulak? And when would fans from other parts of Europe, from Asia and from North and South America be able to witness the band playing live in their countries?

BB: We’re focused on Europe right now, but we’re not dismissing the idea of an intercontinental tour. When demand is high enough, we’ll definitely visit those places.

THM: Thank you very much for your time. Please feel free to send your final considerations, goodbyes and anything else you would like to say to our readers.

BB: We’d like to thank The Headbanging Moose for this interview! To all of you reading this: you’re awesome for making it this far. If you’re curious, check us out on Bandcamp or find us on Spotify. We hope to see you at a show in the near future and are looking forward to finding new friends and disciples.

Links
Shuulak Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify | BandCamp | Apple Music

Metal Chick of the Month – Nadja Peulen

Say it, Nadja! We’re out for blood!

As part of our annual tradition here at The Headbanging Moose, the first metal chick of the year must be a badass bass player to properly kick things off with a lot of thunder and heaviness just the way we like it in Heavy Metal, and in 2020 that couldn’t be any different than that, of course. Having said that, get ready to venture through the realms of Alternative and Nu Metal with the one and only Nadja Peulen, a German-born bassist and backing vocalist currently based in Los Angeles, California, in the United States known for bringing tons of groove to our avid ears as the bassist for American metallers Coal Chamber from 1999 to 2000, again between 2002 and 2003, and one last time after a huge band hiatus from 2013 until 2016 when the group disbanded once and for all.

Born on January 10, 1975 somewhere in the always beautiful Germany, our 1.73m-tall blue-eyed, red-haired bassist started her life in music at a very early age due to her family travelling a lot and staying at several different places, always on the road in the name of Rock N’ Roll, always surrounded by distinct people, and always attending music concerts. Of Polish and German descent, Nadja grew up in the Netherlands and listened to a lot of 70’s music such as Motown, disco and classic rock at home because of her parents, being highly influenced by those styles in her current way of playing bass. Originally starting out studying art with aspirations to be a painter, Nadja naturally decided to switch to music, playing drums before becoming a bassist and continuing her career as a drummer after moving to Los Angeles when she was only 18, learning from renowned drummers and jamming with several different musicians (while at the same time working in different jobs such as tiling bathrooms and working as a waitress in a strip bar).

After a while, when Nadja decided she wanted to get more into songwriting, she was given a bass guitar (a cheap $100 one, by the way) and started playing with one finger only, gradually evolving to a couple more fingers and never having a single lesson in her life. Three months later, she was already in an all-girl band named Tail, playing around Hollywood for a couple of years at Whisky a Go Go, The Viper Room and whatever clubs were there at the time. After a couple of years, Nadja was invited to join Los Angeles-based Nu Metal outfit Coal Chamber in 1999 while bassist Rayna Foss-Rose was on maternity leave, and again after the recording of the 2002 album Dark Days when Rayna left the band for good, playing live with the band in several domestic and international tours with bands like Drowning Pool co-headlining the tours. Despite not having recorded the bass lines in Dark Days, Nadja is featured in the official video for Fiend, one of the band’s most well known songs which is thought to be about how the band and the Nu Metal genre were getting heavily criticized at the time. In addition, Nadja was also featured as the band’s bass player in the excellent concert Live at the Maritime Hall, San Francisco, CA, 1999 in the bonus DVD from the 2005 special re-release of their 1997 debut album Coal Chamber.

Then after a long period of silence from 2003 until 2011, Coal Chamber reunited for a short run of international shows with bassist Chela Rhea Harper instead of Nadja, but our talented red-haired bassist officially returned to the band in October 2013 shortly before the band signed to Napalm Records to record a new album. “Beyond happy and excited today to announce my return on bass with Coal Chamber,” Nadja wrote on the day of her official return to the band. “I’ve missed my brothers and can’t wait to rock the stage with them again and see all of you!” It was in May 2015 that Coal Chamber released their fourth album in thirteen years and their only studio album with Nadja on bass, entitled Rivals, adding a touch of Groove Metal to their musicality while at the same time distancing themselves from their previous Gothic Metal style. From Rivals, you can enjoy Nadja’s rumbling bass punching you in the face in songs like Another Nail In The Coffin, Suffer In Silence (featuring Ministry’s driving force Al Jourgensen on guest vocals), and I.O.U. Nothing.

Apart from her awesome stints with Coal Chamber, Nadja was also the bass player and backing vocalist for a Los Angeles-based Theatrical/Alternative Avantgarde Rock duo known as Vera Mesmer, together with vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Christopher Mesmer, formerly of Reveille, as well as guest drummer Bones Elias (Julien K, formerly of Dead by Sunrise), from 2010 until 2013. Vera Mesmer left two very interesting releases to the world before the duo parted ways in 2013, those being the 2012 EP Orphans and the 2013 single Down the Hole, showing a different and very theatrical storytelling side of both Chris and Nadja, as you can see for example in the official video for the song Back from the Dead. “We’re constantly brainstorming and creating. We’ve completely let go of templates and we don’t stick to the genre game,” said Nadja about the artistic freedom she found with Vera Mesmer while the band was still active. “We encompass all music styles while still undeniably retaining that Vera Mesmer sound.”

You can also find Nadja lending her thunderous bass lines to a project entitled Roadrunner United from 2005 to 2008, having recorded the excellent single and video The End together with Dino Cazares (Fear Factory), Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour) and Matt Heafy (Trivium), among others, for the 2005 album The All-Star Sessions, as well as the 2008 DVD featuring a making of and a live concert with several artists such as Ville Valo (HIM), Scott Ian (Anthrax) and Tim “Ripper” Owens, with Nadja kicking some serious ass in songs like Type O Negative’s all-time classic Black No. 1 together with Ville Valo on vocals, Andreas Kisser on lead guitar, Dino Cazares on rhythm guitar, Joey Jordison on drums and Rob Caggiano on keyboards, and Tired ‘n Lonely together with Mina Caputo on vocals, Matt Baumbach on lead guitar, Acey Slade on rhythm guitar, Joey Jordison on drums and Rob Caggiano on keyboards. Furthermore, between 2004 and 2006, Nadja was also featured in the music videos for the songs (Rock) Superstar and What’s Your Number? as part of the backup band with Tim Armstrong (Rancid) and Christian Olde Wobbers (Fear Factory), both by American Hip-Hop group Cypress Hill.

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As already mentioned, Nadja has a wide and eclectic taste for music, with her primary influences lying along the Trip Hop, Industrial and Alternative Rock and Metal vein the likes of Massive Attack, Killing Joke, The Cult, Faith No More, Jane’s Addiction, Ministry, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, David Bowie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Grand Funk Railroad and Stevie Wonder, with the one and only Iggy Pop being part of one of the most exciting moments in her career. A friend of hers called Whitney, who used to play guitar for Iggy Pop, invited Nadja for a jamming session one day, but she initially said no. “Why don’t you come down to the Swinghouse and jam with me and a couple of friends?”, said Whitney, and she promptly answered “Well I’m in bed. My bass is dusty and I’m watching TV. I really don’t feel like jamming with you right now.” Whitey called back a couple of times and finally said, “Well, it’s Iggy and he wants to jam with you.” Nadja didn’t believe her friend, saying “Yeah you’re fucking with me. You just want me to come down there and hang out.” Then she got another phone call from Iggy’s manager, which turned out to be his son Eric. He said, “Yeah, Iggy Pop is down here and he really, really wants to jam with you.” She still thought it was a prank, when she finally got a phone call from Iggy himself where she recognized his voice and nearly pissed her pants. Iggy said, “Nadja, I have heard a lot of really good things about you. I want to jam with you. Come down here – can you be here in 10 minutes?” Needless to say, Nadja joined her idol and they jammed for a few hours, with Nadja later saying in one of her interviews that she was always afraid to meet someone like Iggy Pop because she believed a person like that would probably be an asshole and she would never be able to listen to his music the same way. However, he was really nice to her, a humble guy exactly how anyone would expect.

Regarding her life on the road with Coal Chamber, Nadja mentioned in one of her interviews that she really loved playing the songs Another Nail In The Coffin and Bad Blood Between Us live with the band, both from the album Rivals, and that she would have loved to be in a tour co-headlined by Coal Chamber, System Of A Down and Korn, the latter with whom Coal Chamber only played at the same festivals such as Heavy Montreal in 2015 and Graspop Metal Meeting in 2013. When questioned about the fact she was the only female on the tours with Coal Chamber, she said that it was indeed challenging as she had for example to get dressed in the bathroom of the bus, which was a very small space. However, Nadja also said she was fine being the only girl in a “boy’s club”, complementing by saying that being utterly professional was what kept everything working well. Also, on a side note, Nadja mentioned being on stage, being in that moment, is when her mind stops and she can achieve some peace of mind, having also achieved that peace by doing yoga, more specifically Kundalini Yoga, a school of yoga influenced by Shaktism and Tantra schools of Hinduism.

Nadja also launched in 2003 her own T-shirt and apparel company called CruelTees, selling her products not only online but also through stores such as Hot Topic. Owner and head designer of CruelTees, Nadja has always loved painting and sketching, having even been in Art Academy before quitting it to move to Los Angeles, with her designs fusing dark Gothic and wild Rock N’ Roll images with clever slogans. However, if you click on the official website for CruelTees, it will redirect you to her website Sonic Dominion without any products available. There are a few items in her webshop, though, but nothing related to CruelTees. Perhaps Nadja is working on a new collection for the future? If you’re curious to know more about CruelTees and ask Nadja for any updates on the brand, you can message her directly through her official website contact form, and who knows, maybe you’ll be one of the first to receive news on a new series of CruelTees shirts and apparel.

Endorsed by Schecter Guitars, Mesa Boogie, Dean Markley Strings, Monster Energy Drink and Monster Cable, our skillful bassist, who by the way thinks labeling a music style is not really that relevant, commented in one of her interviews that she’s happy to see an increasing number of female bass players (as well as guitarists and drummers) out in the market playing with their bands, which is always a good thing in heavy music, also saying she likes the fact that several of those bassists are adopting the finger style when playing their instruments, something that was a taboo in the past. Nadja herself is a finger bass player, as mentioned before, and the fact this old school technique is becoming popular again brings a lot of joy to her heart. And last but not least, Nadja’s relationship with her fans is quite healthy, with some of her fans even becoming her personal friends. She said that she can’t obviously answer everything to everyone due to her busy schedule, as she doesn’t consider herself an Internet person with enough time for social media. She actually doesn’t enjoy engaging on social media on a personal level, focusing on her work as a musician and as a designer instead. We have to agree with Nadja on that, and if you want to know more about her professional career you can either follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or watch some of her interviews and other videos on YouTube like the BIAS FX demo, an interview during Heavy Montreal in 2015, an interview to INDIEPOWER TV! in 2015, or an interview she gave to Dean Markley at NAMM also in 2015. What are you waiting for to let one of the most badass female bassists of all time show you all she got? Nadja kicks some serious ass, and she will crush you like an insect with her thunderous bass, no doubt about that.

Nadja Peulen’s Official Facebook page
Nadja Peulen’s Official Instagram
Nadja Peulen’s Official Twitter
Nadja Peulen’s Official YouTube channel
Coal Chamber’s Official Facebook page
Coal Chamber’s Official Instagram
Coal Chamber’s Official Twitter

“To me being on stage and playing music is one of the best things because I have a very busy mind – I’m always thinking.” – Nadja Peulen

Album Review – Shuulak / Citrinitas EP (2019)

Five skillful Dutch “alchemists” of Heavy Metal continue their pursuit of alchemical enlightenment with their brand new EP.

In 2014 in Breda, a city and municipality in the southern part of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Brabant, a friendship formed during previous musical collaborations laid the foundation for what’s to become Dutch Heavy Metal act Shuulak, whose otherworldly songs, deeply rooted in alchemy and the occult, explore man’s obsession with things that would only  destroy him. Constantly challenging themselves through the years, the band comprised of Bastiën Baron on vocals, Eve Laetitia and Ricardo Kroon on the guitars, Puck Wildschut on bass and Angelo Tower on drums has already released three EP’s since their inception, those being Nigredo, in 2017, a concept signifying the first step in the alchemist’s magnum opus with its songs being a collection of tales telling of humanity’s desire for greatness inevitably ending in madness and depravity, Albedo, in 2018, and finally Citrinitas, now in 2019, where the band continues their pursuit of alchemical enlightenment. Not only that, the band does their own recording, photography, video editing and visual design, with their music standing as a testament to the undying power of our good old Heavy Metal, especially in the underground and independent scene.

And Shuulak don’t waste a single second and start blasting sheer awesomeness to our avid ears in the opening track, entitled The Chosen, where Eve and Ricardo cut our skin deep with their scorching riffs while Puck and Angelo generate a rumbling atmosphere in the background, spearheaded by Bastiën and his soaring vocals. Then blending the epicness of bands like Primal Fear with the Melodic and Progressive Metal of Dream Theater and Mastodon we have Altar of Gods, another solid and captivating tune by Shuulak where Puck’s bass punches will make your head tremble, while Eve spits fire from her excellent riffs and solos. In Chaosborn this talented five-piece act brings thunder and groove to their classic Heavy Metal, with Bastiën sounding truly obstinate and enraged on vocals as if he’s marching into battle, while the band’s guitar duo keeps embellishing the airwaves with their old school riffage and Angelo doesn’t stop pounding his drums in great fashion, before we’re treated to the title-track Citrinitas, an eerie, atmospheric composition where the sound of the organs and delicate female voices will hypnotize your senses, as if the band is warming up our souls for their upcoming release.

Hence, while we wait for Shuulak’s next step in their promising career, we can all enjoy Citrinitas, which by the way is a term given by alchemists to “yellowness” (being one of the four major stages of the alchemical magnum opus, and literally referred to “transmutation of silver into gold” or “yellowing of the lunar consciousness”), in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and purchase it directly from the band’s own BandCamp page or from Apple Music. In addition, don’t forget to follow such distinct band on Facebook, showing all your support to Bastiën, Eve, Ricardo, Puck and Angelo, five Dutch “alchemists” that definitely know how to transform their wicked ideas and thoughts into top-of-the-line Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Chaosborn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. The Chosen 3:52
2. Altar of Gods 4:39
3. Chaosborn 3:58
4. Citrinitas 1:08

Band members
Bastiën Baron – vocals
Eve Laetitia – lead guitar
Ricardo Kroon – rhythm guitar
Puck Wildschut – bass
Angelo Tower – drums

Interview – Anthony Kaoteon

In this exclusive interview, Lebanese vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Kaoteon talks about his brand new project Death Tribe, his already established band Kaoteon, and his always delicate connection to the Middle-East.

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

The Headbanging Moose: Let’s begin with a very simple question, and that is who’s Anthony Kaoteon? When did you begin your life in metal music, and who influenced you the most to follow that path?

Anthony Kaoteon: I am a Lebanese kid who grew up at the end of Civil War, witnessed the Syrian occupation, the religious hatred of my countrymen, the bombs in the streets of Beirut, the Israeli mass airplane attacks on the country to mention a few big events that scarred me as a child and made me realize that the world is blind and needs someone loud enough to hear the truth.

THM: What’s your goal with Death Tribe, and what’s the main difference from your already established band Kaoteon? Can you tell us more about the story behind Death Tribe and the reason for the band’s name?

AK: Death Tribe is more of a personal project where I am experimenting with Metal genres. It is not a side project but it has no restrictions or limitations as it has no genres, not one vocalist or one sound. The only restriction is me as the only fixed member in the band but working with new musicians opens my mind and allows me to explore areas I would have never explored otherwise. If I was a polyamorous guy, then KAOTEON would be my lover and Death Tribe my date.

Album Review – Death Tribe / Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment (2019)

THM: Regarding your brand new album Beyond Pain and Pleasure: A Desert Experiment, how was the recording process of the album? Did everything go as planned, and do you think the final result sends the message you had in mind to the listener?

AK: The recording process was very lengthy, expensive and time consuming especially that it was recorded in several regions and studios around the world. The biggest impact on sound were the mixing engineer – namely Karim Sinno from The Audioloft in Lebanon. He brought everything together and kept it crystal clear.

THM: Beyond Pain and Pleasure features an array of excellent guest vocalists such as Walid Wolflust, Serge the Slave, Adnan Mryhij, Youmni Abou el Zahab and JM Elias. Apart from Walid Wolflust, who sings for your other band Kaoteon, are they all your personal friends? How did you invite each one of them to sing in the album?

AK: They are all personal and close friends of mine who have their great bands and I wanted to promote their sound through mine while promoting my sound through theirs. We come from a very talented region that is undiscovered and deserves much more support.

THM: My favorite songs from Beyond Pain and Pleasure are the title-track Beyond Pain and Pleasure, Neurotic Breakdown and Nuclear Hate. I personally think they’re very powerful and rebellious, which I believe is what you want the listener to feel while listening to the album. Having said that, what song from the album better represents yourself and your never-ending fight for freedom?

AK: That is the beauty of an album like BP&P, every person will have a different favorite. I enjoy Hollow, BP&P and Implode Explode a lot but this varies every now and then. The overall sound of the album is rebellious so I surely wanted that but what I really wanted is to deliver an eclectic album that brings all genres together under one record.

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

THM: I’m pretty sure the metal scene in the Netherlands, your current home, is a lot more developed than in your homeland Lebanon. Are there any bands you would recommend from the Dutch underground scene?

AK: I am still not very active in the scene due to a lot of shit happening in my personal life that I will not discuss but the bands here are very talented. I see a huge stoner metal movement. I cannot chose one band top of mind as it wouldn’t be just but there is definitely a lot of bands to check that won’t disappoint.

THM: Now talking about your connection to Lebanon and the Middle-East, how harmful do you think the combination of religion and politics is in that region not only to metal and non-metal music, but to all forms of art? And do you see an end to that in the future?

AK: It is detrimental and I am afraid I don’t see an end to it anytime soon. It is a deeply rooted plague that is still being nourished by the west to control its masses and use it when and where needed.

THM: Do you think one day you’ll be able to return to Lebanon and start making metal music again there? And what do your family and friends that are still in Lebanon think of the type of music you play?

AK: Most people don’t know what is metal unless they like it and play it. We live parallel lives so that we don’t get judged. I don’t see myself returning to Lebanon to play music any time soon.

Album Review – Kaoteon / Damnatio Memoriae (2018)

THM: What’s next for Anthony Kaoteon? Can we expect a new Kaoteon or Death Tribe album in a not-so-distant future, and do you have any plans for touring with any of your bands around Europe or in North America? I would love to see either Kaoteon or Death Tribe performing in Canada.

AK: For touring, KAOTEON is the horse of choice and we are releasing the 3rd album soon hopefully as we finished the recording with Adrian (Erlandsson) from At the Gates on drums and Linus (Klausenitzer) from Obscura on bass again. The mixing and mastering were finalized by Tue Madsen in Denmark at Antfarm Studios and the artwork is getting ready with Vincent Fouquet in France.

THM: Thanks a lot for your time, Anthony! It’s always a pleasure interviewing relentless musicians like you who keep the underground metal scene alive and kicking. Please feel free to send a final message to our readers, and anything else you would like to say to all fans of heavy music out there.

AK: Thanks a million for the opportunity to speak and promote the music Gustavo. People like you keep the dream alive and I hope you will keep it up. As for the readers and music lovers, if you want bands to keep making music – support them!

Links
Kaoteon Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp
Death Tribe Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp