Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Prudential Center, Newark, NJ, 10/21/2022)

Another night of pure Iron Maiden madness hit the nice city of Newark as the band approaches the end of their fantastic 2022 tour.  

INTRO: Liberty and Prosperity… but no FTTB!

What wild, wild two weeks (or maybe I should say the entire month of October) of pure fuckin’ metal! After winning the renowned (and sometimes controversial) First to the Barrier in all three Canadian dates this year, I didn’t get it for the Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022 concert at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey last Friday, which motto is by the way “Liberty and Prosperity”, but to be fair I think the experience of meeting my fellow IMFC blood brothers and sisters before the gig was even more engaging and fun. The place chosen for our meetup was Bello’s Pub & Grill, located a short walking distance from the venue, and I loved meeting some new friends there while enjoying a beer, talking about Iron Maiden and metal in general, and so on. Furthermore, knowing that some people lined up for the FTTB at 6am and still got number 30 made me even happier for not winning it this time and being able to go to the meetup. And once again I made it to the flags picture! How cool is that?

OPENING ACT: Within Temptation

After our nice IMFC meetup, the crew headed to the Prudential Center for a look at the merch, some beers and some relaxing moments before Iron Maiden hit the stage once again with their fulminating Heavy Metal. The opening act was as expected Dutch Symphonic Metal/Alternative Rock band WITHIN TEMPTATION, who not only made a couple of changes to their setlist compared to their Canadian dates, but the stunning Sharon den Adel finally ditched that “dark princess” attire with a very tight corset for a more rockin’ style, wearing leather pants and jacket, and I think she looked a lot more relaxed and dynamic on stage by wearing that. Their concert was again short and sweet, with the song Raise Your Banner being once again one of the top moments of their performance. I’m not sure how much the Iron Maiden fans from New Jersey enjoyed Within Temptation as their reaction wasn’t as rowdy as in Ottawa, but it was a decent show in the end.

Setlist
The Reckoning
Paradise (What About Us?)
In the Middle of the Night
What Have You Done
Supernova
Don’t Pray for Me
Raise Your Banner
Mother Earth

Band members
Sharon den Adel – vocals
Robert Westerholt – guitars
Ruud Jolie – guitars
Stefan Helleblad – guitars
Jeroen van Veen – bass
Martijn Spierenburg – keyboards
Mike Coolen – drums

IRON MAIDEN

My last concert of the current Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022 couldn’t have been more special, as I was reunited with one of my best friends to see the almighty IRON MAIDEN for the first time together since 2013, and of course the band didn’t disappoint at all. Everyone at the venue had an amazing moment from the first seconds of the opener Senjutsu with its Samurai Eddie to the closing moments of Aces High, with classics such as Revelations and Hallowed Be Thy Name driving the fans absolutely crazy. Bruce was simply phenomenal on vocals throughout the entire show, as well as of course the rest of the band armed with their sonic weapons, making New Jersey lose its breath on another night of pure awesomeness.

Anything I say about the band’s guitar triumvirate won’t represent exactly how in sync, incendiary and precise they are, but in New Jersey our beloved Adrian kicked some serious ass with his axe, with his intro to The Writing on the Wall being a thing of beauty once again. And Steve and Nicko, holy shit, I thought the roof of the Prudential Center was going to fall due to the insane heaviness flowing from their respective bass and drums. I wish I could attend another concert before their last one in Tampa, Florida this Thursday October 27, but that’s not a problem at all. There’s a new tour coming up in 2023, so who knows? It’s just a matter of planning a decent trip to Europe or wait for the probable announcement of the North American leg soon.

And before I go, I wanted to mention one weird and dangerous incident that happened during the gig according to some members of the IMFC. As I was a little further back I didn’t see anything, but several people mentioned that there was a guy in the floor section carrying a handgun that became visible while he was crowdsurfing. I know it’s the United States and people love guns from the bottom of their hearts there, carrying guns anywhere they go, but having one during a concert with over 15,000 people was very immature and irresponsible of him. Maybe he wasn’t going to shoot anyone, but what if someone caught his gun and decided to do so? And how did he manage to go through security with a handgun while several fans, including myself, had to take even their belts off to be allowed into the venue? Is a belt more dangerous than a gun? Anyway, fortunately nothing bad happened and we all had a great time enjoying Iron Maiden in 2022, and now it’s time to get ready for The Future Past Tour in 2023!

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor
Senjutsu
Stratego
The Writing on the Wall
Revelations
Blood Brothers
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Trooper
The Clansman
Run to the Hills

Encore 2:
Churchill’s Speech
Aces High
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, ON, 10/15/2022)

One of the wildest crowds ever turned the charming Ottawa into a cauldron of pure Iron Maiden madness on an unforgettable Saturday night.

INTRO: Third time (at the FTTB) is a charm… or maybe not!

There I was yesterday in Ottawa for another night of pure Iron Maiden madness, but let’s say my third and last experience with the First to the Barrier offered by the Iron Maiden Fan Club was a mix of joy and disappointment due to the total lack of organization and the freakin’ cold winds blowing the whole time we were waiting in line for the slowest security on earth to give us our wristbands, check our names and so on. We got in only at around 5:59pm, less than a minute before the doors opened for the fans who had regular floor tickets, and as most of those fans simply rushed to the barrier, several (if not most) of the FTTB winners were only able to get to the third, fourth, fifth row, or even further back. Well, it is what it is, and at least I was able to be in the flag picture at the end of the concert and have a really cool meetup with other IMFC members the night before. If only the IMFC management allowed us members to organize the FTTB like we organize our meetups, things would have been a lot different on Saturday.

OPENING ACT: Within Temptation

The FTTB fiasco wasn’t a huge problem in the end as we got really good spots for the last Canadian date of the Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022 at the Canadian Tire Centre, which despite being sold as Ottawa it’s in fact located in Kanata, around 25km from Ottawa’s city centre. It’s a nice venue, but in the middle of nowhere, and if you don’t want to pay the high prices for food and beverages inside it I would say the best “restaurant” in the area is a convenience store located at the only gas station nearby. Anyway, at exactly 7:30pm the Dutch metallers from WITHIN TEMPTATION hit the stage with their solid fusion of Symphonic Metal and Alternative Rock, this time replacing the song Faster with a much better one called Entertain You, and they did entertain the crowd a lot, giving everyone a very good taste of the hurricane that was about to happen with Iron Maiden. Sharon was so thrilled with the warm reception the band got from the rowdy Canadian audience she sometimes got lost in her words, which was cute to witness. Great job, Sharon and boys! See you in Newark!

Setlist
The Reckoning
Paradise (What About Us?)
In the Middle of the Night
Stand My Ground
Entertain You
Supernova
Don’t Pray for Me
Raise Your Banner
Mother Earth

Band members
Sharon den Adel – vocals
Robert Westerholt – guitars
Ruud Jolie – guitars
Stefan Helleblad – guitars
Jeroen van Veen – bass
Martijn Spierenburg – keyboards
Mike Coolen – drums

IRON MAIDEN

Just like a Heavy Metal ritual, precisely at 8:50pm the lights went down, the speakers played the beyond classic intro Doctor Doctor, and there they were, the unparalleled, undisputed metal giants IRON MAIDEN for another insane concert for the delight of all fans at a sold out Canadian Tire Centre, and from the very first notes of Senjutsu it was clear that wasn’t going to be a slow and relaxed night. If you think about it, not only it was a Saturday night, the best day for anyone to see a concert, but Ottawa is geographically perfect for fans from Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, all surrounding towns and cities, other Canadian provinces, and several US cities, not to mention all fans travelling from other parts of the world such as Germany and England, and all fans were on absolute fire from start to finish, firing up the band with each scream, fist raised and mosh pit. And yes, there were several mosh pits. At an Iron Maiden concert. It was that chaotic.

I personally thought Bruce was a bit rushed in the first part of the gig, being disconnected from his bandmates in songs like Stratego and The Writing on the Wall, but nothing that could make the concert less enjoyable, of course. The concert was relatively calm until they played the classic Revelations, and that’s when the first mosh pits started if you could believe that, growing in intensity and reaching some insane levels of speed and violence in songs like Fear of the Dark and Iron Maiden. I was just waiting for a Scooby-Doo plot twist when Bruce would take off his mask and review himself as Tom Araya, saying Slayer was back in action and playing “Angel of Death” right after Aces High was over, but again, it was “just” Iron Maiden on stage, proving even a band that’s not as heavy like Iron Maiden can make our blood boil to the point we must slam into the pit so awesome they are. It was indeed a unique experience, and apart from Rock in Rio III in 2001 (for obvious reasons, as we’re talking about 150,000 people back then), Saturday night’s concert in Ottawa was the band’s most intense one I’ve ever been to.

The man of the night for me was undoubtedly Dave Murray. Although he doesn’t move as much around the stage as Bruce, Steve or Janick, he was absolutely fuckin’ flawless with his riffs and solos throughout the entire concert, as if all the energy emanating from such wild crowd was inspiring him to play better and better. That’s the beauty of seeing an iconic band like Iron Maiden different times during the same tour, as there are always those nuances that make each concert different from the others. Another example is that Bruce spoke a few sentences in French with the crowd. Some people might be wondering why he did that if we were in Ottawa, but as mentioned the city of Montreal and many other cities on the Quebec side are so close to Ottawa I would say maybe half of the venue was comprised of French-speaking fans, and Bruce acknowledging that shows how much they (still) care about their loyal fanbase. So it’s “goodbye” or “au revoir”, Canada! And we’ll meet again in Newark on Friday!

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor
Senjutsu
Stratego
The Writing on the Wall
Revelations
Blood Brothers
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Trooper
The Clansman
Run to the Hills

Encore 2:
Churchill’s Speech
Aces High
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton, ON, 10/12/2022)

A “Hamilton virgin”? No problem, Bruce. We know how to take good care of you.

INTRO: First to the Barrier, here we go again… or maybe not!

Due to work-related duties, I was unable to join my fellow brothers and sisters from the Iron Maiden Fan Club for the First to the Barrier yesterday at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a very good time enjoying my second night in a row of pure awesomeness with the Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022. As a matter of fact, the venue was so small and cozy that even if you arrived five minutes before Iron Maiden started their concert, you would still be able to grab a very good spot and witness everything happening on stage, and I still had time to be on the flag photo of the night with my fellow members of the IMFC, meeting a few new faces, and so on. This Saturday I’ll be in Ottawa and will certainly do the FTTB, but for now let’s focus on another amazing night of metal music in Hamilton.

OPENING ACT: Within Temptation

I was so late to the concert last night that I missed pretty much the entire concert by WITHIN TEMPTATION, plus the fact that I spent the first 20 minutes at the venue checking the merch and grabbing a beer. However, everything I said about the band’s performance from the Toronto show is also valid for Hamilton, with Sharon den Adel leading her henchmen throughout their solid setlist and, therefore, properly warming up the fans at the venue for another flawless performance by the one and only Iron Maiden. I saw a few people complaining about Within Temptation, saying they’re boring and shouldn’t be opening for Iron Maiden during this part of the Legacy of the Beast World Tour, but that’s most probably because Symphonic Metal is not as appreciated in the US and Canada as it is in Europe, for example, and when the type of music being played is not your cup of tea not even the best band in the genre can entertain you, don’t you agree? Anyway, there are still two more dates for me to see Within Temptation on stage this tour, so I’ll try to make the most out of it and support those Dutch metallers as much as I can.

Setlist
The Reckoning
Paradise (What About Us?)
Faster
In the Middle of the Night
Stand My Ground
Supernova
Don’t Pray for Me
Raise Your Banner
Mother Earth

Band members
Sharon den Adel – vocals
Robert Westerholt – guitars
Ruud Jolie – guitars
Stefan Helleblad – guitars
Jeroen van Veen – bass
Martijn Spierenburg – keyboards
Mike Coolen – drums

IRON MAIDEN

By now you might know already that if there’s one thing that IRON MAIDEN love to do, that is starting their concerts precisely at 8:50pm, and it couldn’t have been any different in Hamilton, of course. As I was a little further back than the barrier I was able to see the full stage last night, paying attention to each detail (while obviously screaming all songs together with the band), and what really caught my attention this time is the “massive” break between the three songs from Senjutsu and the Legacy of the Beast ones. Also, not sure if anyone has noticed it yet, apart from those two very distinct acts we can also notice in the Legacy of the Beast one how the band begins in a slower, darker and more melodic mode and starts speeding up with each upcoming song, culminating with the breathtaking Aces High. Those guys always think of every detail, providing their fans with a unique experience even when the setlist is absolutely the same during an entire tour.

Bruce was having a lot of fun playing with the band in Hamilton for the first time ever, calling himself a “Hamilton virgin” while also explaining he has already been in the city for his “An Evening with Bruce Dickinson” spoken tour, and complementing by saying the rest of the band had already played in Hamilton but in 1998 (with Blaze Bayley on vocals during the Virtual XI tour). Also, during Blood Brothers as usual Bruce began pointing out different flags from all over the world, focusing on two fans from Puerto Rico and Bangladesh which were let’s say a surprise to him, as in his opinion those places are too far from Canada. Well, maybe he hasn’t realized yet that Canada, in special the province of Ontario, is beyond multicultural, with people from pretty much every country in the world living here. I’m pretty sure those two guys didn’t travel all the way from Bangladesh and Puerto Rico to the show, but letting Bruce think about that was all the fun, right?

Musically speaking, the band was tight and electrifying as usual, with Adrian and Dave kicking some serious ass with their beautiful solos while Steve was in his natural beast mode running around the stage and jumping up and down nonstop. Depending on the night, and of course on the fans, some songs get more incendiary than others, and last night that was the case with Sign of the Cross, Hallowed Be Thy Name, The Trooper, The Clansman and Run to the Hills, proving that although their concerts on the same tour might look the exact same things, they’re never the same. Add to that the fact the venue was smaller than the Scotiabank Arena (and it was fun seeing Bruce checking if the fans at the highest seated sections were alive by asking them to move their arms and scream), and there we had a very intimate and flammable night with Eddie and the boys. Moreover, I still had some time after all was said and done to chat with a couple of buddies from the IMFC, who will obviously be in Ottawa this Saturday. Or do you think that one or two Iron Maiden concerts in one tour is enough?

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor
Senjutsu
Stratego
The Writing on the Wall
Revelations
Blood Brothers
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Trooper
The Clansman
Run to the Hills

Encore 2:
Churchill’s Speech
Aces High
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON, 10/11/2022)

Finally, after over three long years, the city of Toronto was able to scream for the one and only Iron Maiden again in a perfect night of beautiful Heavy Metal.

INTRO: Scream for me, IMFC!

Before I start talking about the concert itself last night, I must say it’s awesome to be part of a family like the Iron Maiden Fan Club, also known as IMFC. As Bruce likes to say, we’re all blood brothers, and on Monday night at The Loose Moose it was really fun meeting some of the IMFC members that were going to the concert the next day in Toronto, enjoy a few pints together, talk about the current tour and the upcoming The Future Past Tour 2023, and so on. I know it’s not easy to invest some good money into the IMFC these days due to everything that’s going on with the world, but if you’re lucky enough to have some spare budget it’s definitely worth it. I can’t wait to meet some of my IMFC buddies tonight in Hamilton, because as I said, there’s nothing like the Iron Maiden family, right?

OPENING ACT: Within Temptation

One of the most fun perks of the IMFC is undoubtedly the First to the Barrier, or the FTTB, and this year I must say I was extremely lucky getting the FTTB for all three Ontario dates, those being Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa, and of course I was more than excited for it in Toronto because if you’re familiar with the Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022 setlist, you know you’re in for a treat, getting to a very decent spot on the right side of the barrier. And Maidenmaniacs from all over the world started packing the Scotiabank Arena up early, allowing Netherlands-based Symphonic Metal/Alternative Rock act WITHIN TEMPTATION to play to an already big crowd, and we could see on the faces of all band members how happy they were because of that.

Promoting their latest EP Don’t Pray for Me, the band spearheaded by the charming vocalist Sharon den Adel played a short and sweet setlist including one of my favorite songs from their career, the exciting Paradise (What About Us?), and after each and every song the reaction from the fans at the venue was really heartwarming to the band. Right before playing the song Raise Your Banner, Sharon dedicated the song to Ukraine, raising an Ukrainian flag and waving it during the entire song, another moment that generated several claps and screams from the fans acknowledging not only how good the band is, but also that they’re on the right side of this stupid war. And after all was said and done, the band said farewell to their Torontonian fans, promising to be back soon to the city with more of their classy music.

Setlist
The Reckoning
Paradise (What About Us?)
Faster
In the Middle of the Night
Stand My Ground
Supernova
Don’t Pray for Me
Raise Your Banner
Mother Earth

Band members
Sharon den Adel – vocals
Robert Westerholt – guitars
Ruud Jolie – guitars
Stefan Helleblad – guitars
Jeroen van Veen – bass
Martijn Spierenburg – keyboards
Mike Coolen – drums

IRON MAIDEN

Precisely at 8:50pm, the speakers began playing UFO’s classic Doctor Doctor as a “warning” to anyone who wasn’t on their seats or still outside buying beer or merch that the party was about to start. Actually, there was an even earlier warning when they played a video of the Legacy of the Beast game with Transylvania as the soundtrack on the big screens a few minutes before that, but you know, there’s always time to grab another beer before the show. And what a show! The unstoppable British Heavy Metal machine IRON MAIDEN was on absolute fire from the very first second, captivating their crazy fans with the three songs from Senjutsu they’re playing on this tour, those being the title-track Senjutsu, Stratego and my favorite of all three live, The Writing on the Wall, with Bruce inspiring everyone at the venue to sing it along with him, before kicking us hard in the head with an avalanche of classics, including of course Revelations, Flight of Icarus and Hallowed Be Thy Name, making up for the long wait of over three years for the band to return to Toronto.

It feels like every single time the band comes to Canada they love to point out how diverse the audience is, with people from all over the world like Brazil, Mexico and Peru, as mentioned by Bruce before playing the beautiful Blood Brothers, visiting the city for another night of Iron Maiden magic. The entire band was flawless and I heard several old school fans saying that was one of the best Iron Maiden concerts they’ve seen in the past few decades, and based on the crowd’s reaction to Sign of the Cross, The Trooper, The Clansman and Run to the Hills, I have to admit that was indeed a night to remember. Furthermore, what can I say about the performance by Mr. Janick Gers? The man was out of control (in a good way, of course), feeling like he was not just playing the guitar but also giving us an aerobics lesson, playing and throwing his axe around in all possible and imaginable ways.

I must confess that when I first saw they were closing the concert with Aces High I was a little worried if Bruce was going to be able to sing it after such intense performance, but of course to the surprise of zero people he nailed it as usual, ending the night in such an electrifying note it was hard to believe the concert was over when the speakers started playing Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. One funny thing Bruce mentioned during the show was the fact that he was very, very happy to be playing indoors and not at the Budweiser Stage (as per their latest concerts in Toronto), which I don’t fully agree because the Budweiser Stage is a lot cooler than the Scotiabank Arena. Well, to be honest, I don’t really care where they play as long as they keep coming back to Toronto, and please excuse me for such short and not-very-detailed review as I’m heading now to the FTTB in Hamilton. Oh yeah, the show must go on. UP THE IRONS!

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor
Senjutsu
Stratego
The Writing on the Wall
Revelations
Blood Brothers
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Trooper
The Clansman
Run to the Hills

Encore 2:
Churchill’s Speech
Aces High
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

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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