Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, The Relentless (Drums), The Hammer (Guitar), The Channeler (Vocals), and The Watcher (Bass), collectively known as Malleus, have returned with a debut album of Black/Speed Metal spite by the name of The Fires of Heaven, which will see the light of day on both CD and LP through the Armageddon Label.
Opening with the soft violin and cello tones of The Tempest, Malleus soon gets down to the business at hand of angry, snarling Black Metal with a hugely abrasive Speed Metal influence on the riffs and the vocals. Breakneck drumming, gnarly bass tones and raw, aggressive vocals all plough a forward furrow of steady, barely controlled violence, whilst the riffs plunge and rise with alacrity and vehemence.
Tracks such as Beyond the Pale have a more workmanlike quality, not plodding but more methodical in the delivery of the drums and guitar leads, though the vocal work stays particularly vociferous throughout the whole album.
Other tracks such as The Prophetess rely on savage bass leads and marauding drum tones to create a more volatile and aggressive sound, and it’s here that Malleus truly come alive and pull your attention firmly into what they are creating. During the second half of the album the tracks get a lot lengthier, allowing Malleus to explore their sound more as well as giving each component more time to showcase themselves. This is particularly noticeable for the bass play during The Fires of Heaven which has a far more prominent sound and meshes well with riffs that have a slight brooding quality to them.
The Fires of Heaven then is an album that grows on you, and is definitely back end heavy in terms of intensity of tracks towards the latter half of the album and in terms of creativity.
Best moments of the album: The intro is an impressive and misleading start to the album. Also Prophetess and The Fires of Heaven for the snarling bass tones.
Worst moments of the album: Nothing really.
Released in 2023 by Armageddon Label
Track listing 1. The Tempest 1:34
2. A Dark Sun Rises 4:11
3. Beyond The Pale 5:33
4. Prophetess 3:54
5. The Fires Of Heaven 7:33
6. Into The Flesh 3:48
7. Awakening 8:01
8. Mourning War 9:34
The Channeler – vocals
The Hammer – guitar
The Watcher – bass
The Relentless – drums
Guest musicians Kris Force – violin in “The Tempest”
Jackie Perez Gratz – cello in “The Tempest”
Immerse your soul into an interconnected series of historical tragedies brilliantly expressed by one of the best Black Metal duos of the current scene in their newborn masterpiece.
After giving us a taste of what’s to come with their stunning 2020 EP in Plague Hymns, Sacramento, California-based Black Metal duo Sarcoptes (whose name is a genus of mites, by the way) brings us their highly awaited sophomore full-length opus Prayers to Oblivion, their strongest album since their inception in 2008, bringing forward everything they’ve promised and more. Displaying a dark, wicked artwork by Adam Burke of Nightjar Illustration, the album presents an immaculate blend of Black and Thrash Metal laced with atmospheric bits for further emphasis as both near 15-minute epic songs and shorter ones carefully brought into being by Garrett Garvey on vocals and drums, and Sean Zimmerman on the guitars, bass and keyboards, with the help of Bobby Koelble (Death, Azrael, Expedition Delta, Leviathan Project) as a guest lead guitarist. Each of the songs follows an interconnected series of historical tragedies in chronological order brilliantly thought and expressed by the duo, from the events of World War I to the Vietnam War, offering fans of Emperor, Immortal and early Satyricon, among several others, an intense, balanced and absorbing album that keeps the listener riveted due to the constantly changing patterns and structures.
As the rain falls down, Garrett and Sean initiate their sonic attack blasting their instruments mercilessly in Trenches, with Garrett roaring the song’s dark lyrics in great fashion (“Dig the trenches / Dig your own graves / A vile panorama / Of human misery / A series of follies / Spurred on by greed”) in a 14-minute lecture in grim and furious Black Metal. In Spanish Flu, more of their Stygian lyrics are offered to us all (“Choking, gasping, blackish blue / Clamor, the church bells ring / Miasmic horror, Spanish flu / Fly with death’s black wings”) while Sean extracts pure evil and hatred from his guitar and phantasmagorical keys, morphing into the 13-minute beast titled Dead Silence, where the blast beats by Garrett walk hand in hand with the epic keys by Sean, also presenting the duo’s trademark riffage and venomous guttural roars. It’s definitely another must-listen creation for admirers of both old school and modern-day Black Metal, and it’s impressive how the duo can craft songs that last for four, five or fifteen minutes and sound amazing in all cases, which is exactly what’s offered to us in Tet, exhaling violence thanks to the amazing job done by Garrett on drums, who also growls like a demon supported by Sean’s sulfurous riffs. Finally, how about another multi-layered, somber and majestic 14-minute aria to close the album on a fiery note? That’s what we’ll all get in Massacre at My Lai, with Garrett vociferating rabidly while Sean kicks ass once again armed with his stringed weapons and eerie keys, flowing majestically until the song’s climatic and atmospheric finale.
In a nutshell, Prayers to Oblivion is dark, sinister, evil and majestic, offering us all everything we love in Black Metal and more, and if you want to put your hands on such precious gem of extreme music you can buy the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore by clicking HERE or HERE, from Apple Music, or from Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to also follow such talented American duo on Facebook and on Instagram for all things Sarcoptes, and to stream all of their wicked creations on Spotify. As mentioned, Prayers to Oblivion is undoubtedly Sarcopte’s most powerful and impactful work to date, flawlessly turning different tragedies in the history of mankind into first-class Black Metal, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for such brilliant duo.
Best moments of the album:Trenches and Dead Silence.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2023 Transcending Obscurity Records
Track listing 1. Trenches 13:56
2. Spanish Flu 4:21
3. Dead Silence 13:01
4. Tet 5:07
5. Massacre at My Lai 14:15
Garrett Garvey – vocals, drums
Sean Zimmerman – guitars, bass, keyboards
Behold this infernal storm of Blackened Thrash Metal by a one-man army from Scotland, heavily inspired by witchcraft and the supernatural while also deeply rooted in his Scottish origins.
Crowned “Scotland’s king of the arcane mosh” by Metal Hammer magazine, Aberdeen-based Blackened Thrash Metal one-man army Hellripper, the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist James McBain (Lock Howl, Lord Rot, Rats of Reality), aims to invoke the quintessential Black N’ Roll sound by mixing influences from classic 80’s Black Metal records with a more modern edge, heavily inspired by witchcraft and the supernatural while also deeply rooted in his Scottish origins, and always using the landscape and historical events as a backdrop for his lyrics and imagery. Now in 2023 it’s time for Hellripper to kill once again with Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags, the project’s third studio album, establishing a new threshold of excellence and raising the bar further over its 2020 album The Affair of the Poisons. Recorded and mixed by James himself at Coronach Studios, mastered by Damian Herring at Subterranean Watchtower Studios, and displaying a sick artwork by Adam Burke of Nightjar Illustration, the album is undoubtedly James’ most personal and diverse work to date, bringing the landscapes and legends of the Scottish Highlands to life in a beyond fantastic way.
James wastes no time and begin his sonic massacre in The Nuckelavee, delivering sheer electricity and rage through his riffs and blast beats in a demolishing fusion of Black and Thrash Metal for admirers of the darkest side of music, and the party is just starting as James has endless fuel to burn, bringing to our ears more of his acid roars and riffs in I, The Deceiver, sounding brutal yet very melodic; whereas the title-track Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags, featuring the majestic bagpipes by guest Antonio Rodríguez, blends James’ passion for extreme music with his Scottish roots in a very compelling manner, with his riffs and beats walking hand in hand with his visceral screams. As you all know, a beautiful song name requires an even more beautiful sound, and that’s exactly what James has to offer us all in Goat Vomit Nightmare, being frantic, sulfurous and blasphemous from the very first second, not to mention his thrashing riffs and solos are simply fantastic.
Featuring Joseph Quinlan (Desert Heretic) on lead guitars and additional vocals by Marianne, James takes no prisoners in his quest for violence and blood in The Cursed Carrion Crown, where his vocals get more and more demented as the music progresses, therefore blasting endless aggression for our vulgar delight. Joseph is back in The Hissing Marshes, where it’s impressive how James was able to blend the music by Motörhead and The Exploited to perfection. Moreover, his work on bass and drums is superb throughout the entire song, all spiced up of course by his devilish growling, whereas in Poison Womb (The Curse of the Witch) we face the last guest solo by Joseph, with the music being as fast and infernal as the rest of the album, or in other words an ode to all things 666, or a “lovely” song perfect for a “romantic” moment with your significant other. Last but not least, we’re treated to over eight minutes of pure hell and sulfur titled Mester Stoor Worm, perhaps the most Black Metal of all songs (which is obviously a good thing) where James is yet again spot-on with his screams, riffs and demented beats.
You can enjoy all the fury, speed and energy of the Blackened Thrash Metal played by Hellripper by following James and his Scottish beast on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to his YouTube channel and by streaming his music on Spotify, and above all that, by purchasing the phenomenal Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags from his own BandCamp page, from his official EU store as a CD or an LP, or simply by clicking HERE or HERE. Hellripper is absolutely fast, loud and uncompromising, with Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags being a contemporary masterpiece of extreme music that deserves a listen from any living being that enjoys some good old Black Metal with a powerful Rock N’ Roll attitude. So keep calm, listen to the superb new opus by Hellripper, and all hail the goat!
Best moments of the album:Goat Vomit Nightmare, The Cursed Carrion Crown, The Hissing Marshes and Mester Stoor Worm.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2023 Peaceville Records
Track listing 1. The Nuckelavee 5:47
2. I, The Deceiver 4:55
3. Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags 7:14
4. Goat Vomit Nightmare 3:15
5. The Cursed Carrion Crown 5:47
6. The Hissing Marshes 3:51
7. Poison Womb (The Curse of the Witch) 3:43
8. Mester Stoor Worm 8:31
Band members James McBain – vocals, all instruments
Guest musicians Joseph Quinlan – additional lead guitars on “Poison Womb (The Curse of the Witch)”, “The Cursed Carrion Crown” and “The Hissing Marshes”
Marianne – additional vocals on “The Cursed Carrion Crown”
Antonio Rodríguez – great highland bagpipes on “Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags”
A massively ambitious yet sincere album that ought to be regarded as a landmark album in Dissonant Black Metal, carefully brought into being by an uncanny Lithuanian horde.
Intense as well as atmospheric, Vilnius, Lithuania-based Dissonant Black Metal entity Sisyphean has the perfectly tempered sound for this style of music by crafting thrilling and engaging songs that are both coherent and fulfilling, which can be appreciated in all of its glory in their brand new opus, entitled Colours of Faith. Mixed by Satanic Audio, mastered by Resonance Sound Studio, and displaying a stylish cover artwork by Adam Burke of Nightjar Illustration, Colours of Faith is a massively ambitious yet sincere album that ought to be regarded as a landmark album in the style, showcasing all the talent of Dainius P. on vocals, Adomas V. and Kamil U. on the guitars, guest Andrius B. on bass, and Mantas D. on drums, appealing to admirers of the music by Svartidaudi, Deathspell Omega, Blut aus Nord, Mgla and Svartulven, just to name a few.
The dissonant, futuristic intro Before the Light warms up the listener for the pulverizing aria Scorched Timeless, with Adomas and Kamil showing absolutely zero mercy for their stringed axes accompanied by the rumbling bass by Andrius, all spiced up by the demonic vociferations by Dainius. Then investing in a more straightforward, no shenanigans Black Metal sonority, the band will darken your thoughts to the sound of Hearts of Mercury, again showcasing visceral riffs boosted by the infernal blast beats by Mantas, whereas strident guitar lines ignite the multi-layered Black Metal extravaganza titled Sovereigns of Livid Hope, offering our avid ears seven minutes of total chaos and darkness where Dainius roars in anger while Mantas adds a good dosage of intricacy to the overall result with his wicked drums.
After 25 seconds of ethereal sounds in the interlude The Descent the band comes crushing our senses with the beyond Stygian and heavy-as-hell Exiles, where the riffage by Adomas and Kamil will penetrate deep inside your psyche while Andrius and Mantas keep shaking the foundations of the earth with their respective bass and drums, resulting in a classic Black Metal tune with modern nuances. Their second to last explosion of evil sounds comes in the form of Open Wounds, a somber tune with Doom Metal hints that reminds me of some of the most recent creations by the almighty Watain; and lastly, it’s time for almost 10 minutes of insanity and chaos titled Conqueror, starting in a more than obscure manner before evolving into a sluggish, visceral feast of our beloved Black Metal where Mantas dictates the song’s hellish pace while Dainius keeps vociferating rabidly like there’s no tomorrow, with its second half becoming the soundtrack to a sinister horror movie until all fades into the unknown.
You can reach out to those Lithuanian metallers through Facebook and Instagram, letting them know how much you love their music, and also purchase Colours of Faith (which is also available for a full listen on Spotify) from their own BandCamp page or from the Transcending Obscurity Records webstore in the US (as a digipak CD or as a gatefold LP) or in Europe (also in CD or LP format). A brilliantly written and arranged album, Colours of Faith provides for intuitive undulations of extremity and emotions, not only captivating your attention throughout but also moving you, and that’s exactly the beauty of the music played by Sisyphean, delivering much more than just plain Black Metal by creating an enfolding atmosphere that will last for all eternity and, therefore, allowing the band to continue exploring the darkest side of music for many years to come.
Best moments of the album: Hearts of Mercury, Sovereigns of Livid Hope and Exiles.
Worst moments of the album:Open Wounds.
Released in 2022 Transcending Obscurity Records
Track listing 1. Before the Light 0:58
2. Scorched Timeless 6:43
3. Hearts of Mercury 5:18
4. Sovereigns of Livid Hope 7:02
5. The Descent 0:26
6. Exiles 5:49
7. Open Wounds 4:58
8. Conqueror 9:45
Band members Dainius P. – vocals
Adomas V. – guitars
Kamil U. – guitars
Mantas D. – drums
A Portland, Oregon-based one-man Cosmic Black Metal entity returns with his fifth full-length opus, finding a new voice for his frustrations with humankind through five aggressive, metallic songs.
From the depths of the outer rim to solid footing of green earth, Solar Paroxysm, the fifth full-lenth opus by Portland, Oregon-based one-man Cosmic Black Metal entity Mare Cognitum, finds itself moving from the impossible to the familiar, with the project’s lone wolf Jacob Buczarski occupying himself with the failures of humankind over the past epoch, finding a new voice for his frustrations through five aggressive, metallic songs. Featuring a beyond stunning artwork by Adam Burke at Nightjar Illustration, Solar Paroxysm lifts the veil and reveals the true musicianship which has fueled Mare Cognitum since its impetus a decade ago, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the Stygian creations by Spectral Lore, Dawn, Blut Aus Nord and Chaos Moon, among others.
In the beautiful opening track Αntaresian, a beyond atmospheric and enfolding start grows in intensity and darkness until exploding into visceral Black Metal where Jacob showcases all his dexterity with his fulminating beats and blazing riffs, as well as showing his deep passion for old school and modern-day extreme music, roaring with tons of anguish and despair in his blackened heart. And Jacob keeps firing unstoppable blast beats and fills, razor-edged guitar lines and rumbling bass punches, generating a massive wall of sounds that will penetrate deep inside your psyche in the 11-minute aria titled Frozen Star Divinization, a lecture in Atmospheric Black Metal infused with classic Black Metal nuances; whereas investing in a more obscure and menacing sonority by presenting elements from Blackened Doom and classic Doom Metal we have Terra Requiem, where Jacob’s riffage is absolutely mesmerizing, dragging us all into his Stygian lair forever and ever while the music flows majestically until the song’s epic finale.
The following aria, entitled Luminous Accretion, already starts in full force with Jacob hypnotizing our senses once again through his whimsical riffs and classic Black Metal drumming. Moreover, there’s not a single space left in the air, resulting in top-of-the-line Atmospheric Black Metal for lovers of the genre, or in other words, one of the most complete, detailed and therefore best extreme music songs of the past few years. And last but not least, we’re treated to Ataraxia Tunnels, sounding primeval and intense from the very first second thanks to Jacob’s thunderous drums and piercing riffs, not to mention the hints of Epic Metal added to its core musicality, and of course it’s not an Atmospheric Black Metal song if it doesn’t carry pensive, austere lyrics for our total delectation (“Visions conjure throughout / A delusion searing into memory / So vividly / Once compulsively wrought / Now imbued to confine a once-great mind / Forever”).
The sinister and obscure realms of Cosmic Black Metal ruled by Jacob and his Mare Cognitum can be further explored by following the project on Facebook and on Instagram, by streaming more of his wicked creations on Spotify and, above all that, by purchasing Solar Paroxysm from the project’s own BandCamp page, from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page, from Metal Odissey in CD and double LP formats, or from Apple Music. Now suddenly so outwardly truculent and antagonistic, Mare Cognitum finally reveals the project’s true essence with Solar Paroxysm, inviting us all to join Jacob on a one way journey into madness and sorrow, with his Cosmic and Atmospheric Black Metal being everything we need to get lost in darkness for all eternity.
Best moments of the album: Frozen Star Divinization and Luminous Accretion.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2021 I, Voidhanger Records/Extraconscious Records
An up-and-coming American entity is ready to conquer the world of heavy music with their debut album, presenting their own struggles with anxiety and depression reflected on the backdrop of environmental collapse on Earth.
Let’s all celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day with the first-class metal music blasted by Boston, Massachusetts-based female-fronted unity Aversed in their debut full-length opus entitled Impermanent, the ass-kicking follow-up to their 2011 self-titled EP and their 2016 EP Renewal. Mixed and mastered by Christian Donaldson at The Grid Productions, produced by the band’s own guitarist Alden Marchand, and displaying a sick artwork by Adam Burke at Nightjar Illustration, Impermanent illustrates the unique approach to songwriting by frontwoman Haydee Irizarry, guitarists Sungwoo Jeong and Alden Marchand, bassist Peter Albert de Reyna and drummer Jeff Saltzman with nine diverse compositions full of catchy hooks and vast melodies, pivoting from Melodic Death Metal towards a nuanced balance of Blackened and Orchestral Melodic Metal. “The album presents our own struggles with anxiety and depression reflected on the backdrop of environmental collapse on Earth. However, like the changing mind, we present this inevitable human destruction as a chance for a beautiful rebirth, a chance for new life to flourish. We attempted to portray this imagery by combining the violence of death and black metal with the lighthearted beauty of rock & roll, blues, and classical,” commented the band about their newborn beast.
A melancholic intro quickly explodes into a venomous Melodic Death Metal feast entitled Natsukashi, a Japanese word used when something evokes a fond memory from your past, also presenting hints of classic Death and Black Metal while Jeff takes the lead with his unstoppable beats, accompanied by the razor-edged guitars by Sungwoo and Alden and, therefore, resulting in a beyond perfect way to start the album. Then we have Close My Eyes, bringing to our ears a very pleasant and melodious vibe where Haydee steals the show with both her piercing clean vocals and her she-wolf roars, living up to the legacy of renowned acts such as Arch Enemy and The Agonist, not to mention the amazing job done by the band’s guitar duo once again; followed by Laboratory, where we’re treated to very entertaining lyrics declaimed by Haydee (“Ten thousand years ago / the blossom of mankind / sprung forth unto Earth / a civilized mistake / Machines to woo thy mind / and spin it into exquisite design / separated from nature / we transcend into gods”) amidst a neck-breaking, demented Death Metal sound where Peter and Jeff make the earth tremble with their infernal kitchen. And putting the pedal to the metal the quintet offers the frantic and austere title-track Impermanent, with Jeff’s crushing drums walking hand in hand with the hellish screams by Haydee.
After such imposing tune, a smooth and serene intro and the background sound of waves kick off the thrilling Abandoned, alternating between more melodic Metalcore moments and sheer savagery, with Sungwoo’s and Alden’s riffs cutting our skin deep, whereas blending their core sonority with Progressive Death Metal, they bring forward the intricate, multi-layered Solar Sea, where Haydee keeps growling nonstop (and obviously stunning us all with her amazing voice), while Peter blasts his bass with tons of intricacy and rage. In Malaise the band invests into a more straightforward, in-your-face sound while still presenting their most melodic side, with the band’s guitar duo, accompanied by the bass jabs by Peter, generating a dense and strident atmosphere from start to finish; and Aversed will blow your mind with the epicness and violence flowing from Spiraling, a metallic and insane extravaganza where Jeff sounds utterly bestial behind his drums while Haydee keeps embellishing the airwaves with her piercing clean vocals and devilish growls. And lastly, it’s time for more of their fusion of Melodic Death Metal with Progressive Metal and Metalcore in Nightshade, once again presenting furious riffs and beats intertwined with the demented roars by Haydee, growing in intensity until fading into an ethereal finale.
After taking several listens to Impermanent, I must say that such awesome, multi-layered album of modern metal music will certainly become a (and sorry about the bad joke) permanent part of my daily metal playlist, and I highly recommend you also add it to yours by purchasing it from the band’s own BandCamp page, where you can by the way acquire a fantastic bundle containing a shirt, a double-sided hoodie, a CD in jewel case and the LP version of the album, or from Apple Music, showing your absolute support to one of the most promising and hardworking bands of the current American scene. Hence, don’t forget to also follow the guys and girl from Aversed on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their kick-ass videos, helping to keep the fires of the underground burning bright. In the end, Aversed did a superb job with Impermanent, paving an exciting path ahead of them in the melodic and progressive landscape while at the same time offering something fresh to admirers of the fusion of aggressiveness and harmony. And if this is just their first album, I can’t imagine how far the band can go in a not-so-distant future.
Best moments of the album: Natsukashi, Laboratory and Nightshade.
Behold the debut opus by this Nantes, France-based Sludge and Doom Metal entity, narrating epic, anguish-ridden tales of the slow destruction of the planet and sowing seeds of the inexorable vengeance of mother nature.
Following the ponderous steps of giants like Eremit and Jupiterian while adding their own darkened grit and weighed down heaviness to the proceedings, Nantes, France-based Blackened Sludge/Doom Metal trio Subterraen has just released their debut opus entitled Rotten Human Kingdom, crafting 10+ minute songs narrating epic, anguish-ridden tales of the slow destruction of the planet and sowing seeds of the inexorable vengeance of mother nature. Formed in 2017, the band comprised of Clem Helvete on vocals and guitars, Chris KKP also on the guitar and Milvus on drums masterfully carries the torch of the style on their newborn spawn, with the crisp recording, mixing and mastering by the band’s own Chris KKP and the cryptic artwork by the talented illustrator Adam Burke (Nightjar Illustration) turning it into a must-listen for admirers of the somber creations by renowned acts such as Eyehategod, Neurosis, , Conan and Primitive Man.
Just like a creature form the abyss the band arises with their sluggish, eerie sounds in the 13-minute doomed feast titled Blood for the Blood Gods, where Clem roars and gnarls demonically while Milvus pounds his drums in the most devilish way possible. Furthermore, their guitar work is also amazing, exhaling darkness and evil, and with all atmospheric, melancholic passages enhancing the song’s taste and punch considerably. Then we have For a Fistful of Silver, an explosion of the most Stygian and darkest fusion of Sludge and Doom Metal, with Clem once again taking the lead with his enraged roaring while Milvus alternates between Black Metal-inspired drums and primeval doom beats. It’s impressive how the music evolves and progresses like if it was the soundtrack to a psychological horror movie, with the dirty and visceral riffs by both Clem and Chris penetrating deep inside your skin. After such avalanche of blackened sounds, it’s time for the trio to enfold us all with the delicate interlude Oceans are Rising, where minimalist guitar lines permeate the air for over two minutes until Clem, Chris and Milvus show no mercy for our souls with the demolishing Blackened Doom Metal aria Wrath of a Downtrodden Planet, a beastly creation by Subterraen where slow and steady beats and malignant ambience provide Clem exactly what he needs to darken our thoughts with his hellish screams, and the music remains as imposing, dense and vile as it can be, all spiced up by their trademark raw, piercing guitars.
The Matriarch is ready to eat our hearts while we fall into the abyss to the sound of the brand new album by one of the best Canadian metal bands of all time.
Formed in 2007 in Vancouver, the biggest city in the stunning province of British Columbia, Canada, the unrelenting Power/Melodic Death Metal squad known as Unleash The Archers has sharpened their arrows and hit the bullseye once again with their fifth full-length album, entitled Abyss. Featuring ten new tracks, this adventure is a concept album and a sequel to their 2017 masterpiece Apex, and was once again recorded with legendary producer Jacob Hansen of Hansen Studios in Denmark. Portraying another epic artwork, this time designed by Adam Burke (Nightjar Illustration), Abyss might not be as grandiose and breathtaking as Apex, something quite impossible to be done in my humble opinion, but it’s indeed a vibrant display of the band’s dexterity, their passion for Heavy Metal and their infinite creativity to bring forth a compelling storyline together with their music, proving why frontwoman Brittney Slayes, guitarists Grant Truesdell and Andrew Saunders, and drummer Scott Buchanan heave reached such high level of admiration and relevance all over the world, carving their spot in the hearts of all types of metalheads.
Smooth, serene guitar lines invite us all to join the band in their quest for metal in the opening tune Waking Dream, where Brittney already showcases all her vocal potency, gradually evolving into the epic title-track Abyss, with Grant and Andrew taking the lead with their crisp and strident riffs and solos. It will work beautifully when played live, blending their modern-day Power Metal with 80’s Glam Metal, I might say. Then again presenting an 80’s rockin’ vibe thanks to its background keys and classic beats we have Through Stars, sounding like it was taken from an old school Hard Rock album, being very pleasant while at the same time developing the story majestically told by Brittney, and when you think they’re going to slow down a little they come with an onrush of sounds titled Legacy, even bringing nuances of Black Metal added to their classic metal music. However, the music never really clicks, though, falling flat after a while (nothing to worry about, though).
In Return to Me the band brings forward a more progressive and groovier side, with Scott dictating the rhythm with his old school beats, resulting in another good composition by the quartet albeit a bit generic if compared to their older songs, whereas it’s with Soulbound that the party really starts, showcasing ass-kicking lyrics screamed by Brittney (“We race around the melted char of what was once a neutron star / And use the gravity to whip us into dark galactic rifts / Yet still somehow we can’t escape, they have no flaw, they feel no pain / These twisted shadows of the men I once condemned”) while Grant and Andrew are unstoppable with their axes in this ode to Heavy Metal. And get ready for another round of inspiring, metallic words (“Once more we’re flying fast as light / Dark matter passing in the night / Pursued by a force we can’t outrun / As we hurtle towards a dying sun / We maneuver through the remnants of a moon on the solar winds of supernovas / There is not a place to hide, the Matriarch is close behind, it’s plain to see she’s coming for us all”) in the superb Faster Than Light, bringing to our ears a stuninng Stratovarius-like feel (and an absolutely weird official video to our eyes, by the way), with all band members speeding things up and blasting sheer awesomeness for our total delectation.
After such intense tune, it’s time for a passionate performance by Brittney supported by her loyal bandmates in The Wind that Shapes the Land, with Grant and Andrew slashing our ears with their sharp riffage while Scott doesn’t stop hammering his drums throughout the song’s eight minutes of a top-of-the-line fusion of Melodic Death and Power Metal. Carry the Flame is another 80’s-inspired Hard Rock/Heavy Metal song showcasing a beautiful vocal duo between Brittney and Andrew, while Scott continues to bring the thunder to the music with his beats, all spiced up by some ass-kicking, soulful guitar solos. Lastly, in order to properly conclude the album the band brings to our ears the epic, symphonic and climatic Afterlife, a very detailed and dense composition where Brittney is once again flawless with her high-pitched, heroic vocals, accompanied by the galloping beats by Scott and the always flammable guitars by Grant and Andrew until the song’s serene and warm ending.
In a nutshell, as already mentioned, although Abyss is not on par with Apex, it will surely entertain all fans of the band while at the same time it puts a climatic conclusion to the overall story concept initiated with their 2017 album. Do not expect to listen to a new “The Matriarch”, “Call Me Immortal” or “Shadow Guide” in Abyss, but to brand new, unique compositions that have their place and purpose well defined by Unleash The Archers, and if you want to give their new album a shot you can stream it in full on Spotify or purchase a copy of it from several locations such as their own BandCamp page, Napalm Records, Apple Music, Amazon or indiemerchstore.com, among others. Also, don’t forget to follow Brittney and the boys on Facebook and on Instagram, getting up to date to all things related to one of the best metal bands of all time hailing from Canada. In the end, the Matriarch might eat our hearts while we fall into the abyss, but as long as that happens while we listen to the first-class metal blasted by Unleash The Archers, we can rest assured our souls will be free in the afterlife.
Best moments of the album:Through Stars, Soulbound, Faster Than Light and The Wind that Shapes the Land.
Worst moments of the album:Legacy and Return to Me.
Released in 2020 Napalm Records
Track listing 1. Waking Dream 3:45
2. Abyss 6:44
3. Through Stars 5:34
4. Legacy 5:26
5. Return to Me 5:34
6. Soulbound 3:54
7. Faster Than Light 5:11
8. The Wind that Shapes the Land 8:36
9. Carry the Flame 4:42
10. Afterlife 7:30
Band members Brittney Slayes – vocals
Grant Truesdell – guitar
Andrew Saunders – guitar, harsh growls, additional vocals, synths
Scott Buchanan – drums
Francesco Ferrini – orchestration on “Afterlife”
Ben Arscott – bass (session)
The Heavy Metal beasts from Pittsburgh return with another sensational round of soaring vocals, incendiary riffs and classic drums in their fourth full-length opus.
After hundreds of concerts, festivals, tours, three full-length albums, one EP and one compilation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Heavy Metal machine Lady Beast is more than ready to celebrate over 10 years kicking ass and spreading their fulminating music all over the world with their fourth full-length opus entitled The Vulture’s Amulet, an ode to all things metal highly inspired by behemoths the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Mercyful Fate and Motörhead. Featuring a beyond stylish and sexy artwork by American artist Adam Burke (Nightjar Illustration), The Vulture’s Amulet has everything it takes to conquer the hearts of any diehard metalhead, from soaring vocals to breathtaking riffs and blast beats, showcasing all the talent, energy and passion flowing from frontwoman Deborah Levine, guitarists Andy Ramage and Chris Tritschler, bassist Greg Colaizzi (who has just left the band, being replaced by Amy Bianco) and drummer Adam Ramage and, above all, proving once again heavy music is still alive and kicking inside our hearts forever and ever.
Classic, razor-edged riffs ignite the frantic and electrifying ode to heavy music titled Metal Machine, filling every single space in the air with electricity and rage before Deborah comes ripping with her powerful and piercing vocals, or in other words, an 80’s classic metal hymn released a few decades later, in 2020. And get ready for another metal storm led by Andy and Chris with their incendiary riffage in Runes of Rust, a Judas Priest-inspired hymn where Adam smashes his drums with tons of precision and groove, sounding as old school as it can be; while the sick bass lines by Greg generate a thunderous atmosphere perfect for the band’s guitar duo to pierce our ears with their riffs in The Gift, a beautiful fusion of the music by renowned Teutonic bands like Grave Digger, Running Wild and Accept, giving you all you need to bang your head like there’s no tomorrow.
Then phantasmagorical guitars à la Mercyful Fate are one of the main ingredients in Sacrifice to the Unseen, while Deborah continues to kick us in the head with her feminine and ferocious vocal lines, also bringing the most electrifying elements from classic Hard Rock to the overall result, followed by the even more metallic and inspiring Betrayer, reminding me of some of the best songs from Judas Priest’s 1978 classic album Killing Machine (or Hell Bent For Leather), with Deborah being simply fantastic on vocals accompanied by the NWOBHM-like riffs by Andy and Chris. And drinking from the same fountain as Iron Maiden in their instrumental classics “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)” and “Transylvania”, but of course with Deborah’s ass-kicking vocals embellishing the airwaves, we have The Champion, an epic Heavy Metal anthem filling our hearts with hope, fire and, of course, Heavy Metal.
It’s time to put the pedal to the (heavy) metal in the absolutely furious, high-octane tune entitled Transcend the Blade, this time a fully instrumental track with Andy and Chris spearheading their sonic onrush, firing beautiful riffs and solos for our total delight, whereas slowing things down a bit (while at the same time getting darker) the band offers us all the title-track The Vulture’s Amulet, a mid-tempo tune where Greg and Adam are ruthless with their thunderous bass and drums, respectively, with Deborah returning in full force declaiming the song’s stylish lyrics. and last but not least, the closing tune Vow of the Valkyrie is an exciting and flammable feast of old school riffs and solos, blast beats and the always killer vocals by Deborah, resulting in a true born-to-be-an-underground-metal-classic bringing forward an amazing guitar “duel” by Andy and Chris tailored for lovers of the seven-stringed ax.
In a nutshell, as already mentioned, The Vulture’s Amulet has everything one might ask for in traditional Heavy Metal, plus of course the mesmerizing touch added by Deborah with her she-wolf vocals, and if you want to show Lady Beast your true support you can buy the album directly from their BandCamp page, from the Reaper Metal Productions webstore (in both vinyl and cassette formats), from Apple Music or from Amazon, as well as stream it in full on YouTube and on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, proving to Deborah and her henchmen you’re worth joining their metal den and with The Vulture’s Amulet being the perfect soundtrack for enjoying a cold beer deep down there together with those heavy music beasts.
Best moments of the album: Metal Machine, The Gift, Betrayer and Vow of the Valkyrie.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2020 Reaper Metal Productions
1. Metal Machine 3:15
2. Runes of Rust 4:26
3. The Gift 5:09
4. Sacrifice to the Unseen 5:09
5. Betrayer 3:29
6. The Champion 5:24
7. Transcend the Blade 3:42
8. The Vulture’s Amulet 5:14
9. Vow of the Valkyrie 5:03
Deborah Levine – vocals
Andy Ramage – lead guitar
Chris Tritschler – rhythm guitar
Greg Colaizzi – bass
Adam Ramage – drums
Blasting top-of-the-line music since their genesis in 2013, this cosmic power trio is inviting you for an electrified journey through the realms of Rock N’ Roll, Experimental Metal and Acid Rock with their brand new album.
There’s a cosmic power trio hailing from Denver, the capital of Colorado, in the United States, that has been forging their own path in music by blasting top-of-the-line Heavy Rock since their genesis in 2013, described by the band members themselves as “heavy-boogie rock on acid”. The trio, known as Cloud Catcher and consisting of Rory Rummings on guitar and vocals, Kam Wentworth on bass and Jared Soloman Handman on drums, has spent considerable time crafting their own style of heavy cosmic rock, taking deep inspiration from the music by Black Sabbath, Grand Funk Railroad, Spirit Caravan, Led Zeppelin and tons of other classic groups, resulting in their brand new amazing album titled Trails Of Kozmic Dust.
Cloud Catcher have been on a roll since day one, delivering year after year high-quality material, starting with their debut EP Colossus in 2013, followed by some rehearsal demos in 2014, the full-length album Enlightened Beyond Existence in 2015, and the single Righteous Ruler in 2016, before returning with the full-bodied Trails Of Kozmic Dust now in 2017. Displaying an enthralling cover art designed by Adam Burke of Nightjar Illustration, this is an album that will expand your music horizons and put you on a trance from start to finish, and you won’t even need to take any acid to feel the band’s chaotic, groovy and intricate music flowing through your veins and especially through your mind.
Psychedelic sounds warm up the listener for a journey back to the 60’s and 70’s entitled Astral Warlord, a vibrant and electrified tune full of breaks and variations where albeit all musicians sound incredibly creative and focused, it’s Jared who steals the spotlight with his refined technique, setting the perfect tone for the song’s crazy, poetic lyrics (“Winds of dawn are howlin’ / Calling your name in the dark of the night / Winter comes for your life / Cold is the steel that ends your strife”). Celestial Empress brings more top-tier Heavy Rock smoothly flowing from the band’s sharp instruments, with Rory delivering an inspired performance on vocals. Moreover, the instrumental pieces sound like a hybrid of the early days of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, in special the excellent bass lines by Kam and the fiery guitar solos by Rory. And without allowing the listener to breathe, the power trio keeps blasting rumbling bass lines and distorted riffs in the groovy Beyond The Electric Sun, a song that contains all elements fans of the genre are always searching for, those being heaviness, progressiveness, craziness and tons of feeling, with its final instrumental sequence being beyond astounding.
Then we have quick Jazz-inspired break from all insanity going on, named Dimensional Interlude, followed by Visions, a psychedelic composition tailored for lovers of Grand Funk Railroad and Captain Beyond (with a metallic twist à la Iron Maiden), with sheer acidity emanating from the guitar lines and vocals by Rory while Kam and Jared keep the reverberation at a maximum level with their pounding bass and drums. After listening to such powerful song, you’ll certainly ask yourself how far into space this talented band can go with their music. Anyway, the title-track Trails Of Kozmic Dust is yet another a complex, soulful creation by Rory, Kam and Jared, quickly transporting you to another dimension, not to mention the song’s eccentric lyrics (“Trails of kozmic dust connect my soul / Tellin’ me secrets that should not be told / Time is iridescent in black holes / Trails of kozmic dust will guide you home”).
Before the final curtains fall in Trails Of Kozmic Dust, the low-tuned, menacing bass guitar by Kam slowly drags us to the world of Cloud Catcher in the Blues-ish Heavy Rock instrumental trip Super Acid Magick, with its last minute being a demolishing display of how intricate Experimental Rock can be; whereas Righteous Ruler, which builds an instant connection with its predecessor, sounds as if the band is returning to planet earth after such otherworldly voyage through the realms of rock music, again showcasing potent riffs by Rory and the always roaring bass by Kam, while Jared continues to do magic behind his drums. In addition, if you want to know how good this power trio sounds when they convey all their music madness to the stage, you can enjoy an amazing live performance by Cloud Catcher at the Marquis Theater in Denver, on December 19, 2015 playing several songs from Trails Of Kozmic Dust by clicking HERE, HERE and HERE.
If you enjoyed becoming part of the hallucinatory sonic expedition led by Cloud Catcher, go check their Facebook page for more news, and purchase Trails Of Kozmic Dust at the band’s own BandCamp page, at the Totem Cat Records’ Big Cartel in CD or LP format, at the Stickman Records’ webstore, at Discogs or on Amazon. The never-failing fusion of Rock N’ Roll, Experimental Metal and Acid Rock has always had an enormous potential to blow our minds under any circumstances, but when the band in question has an undisputed, full-blown talent like Cloud Catcher as we can see in Trails Of Kozmic Dust, we know that mental explosion will be even stronger and more potent than anyone could expect.
Best moments of the album: Astral Warlord, Beyond The Electric Sun and Visions.
Worst moments of the album:Righteous Ruler.
Released in 2017 Totem Cat Records
Track listing 1. Astral Warlord 5:31
2. Celestial Empress 5:41
3. Beyond The Electric Sun 7:06
4. Dimensional Interlude 1:03
5. Visions 4:28
6. Trails Of Kozmic Dust 6:21
7. Super Acid Magick 3:34
8. Righteous Ruler 5:42
Band members Rory Rummings – guitar, vocals
Kam Wentworth – bass, backing vocals
Jared Soloman Handman – drums