Metal Chick of the Month – Başak Ylva

Between love and hate… I’m waiting for you daydreamer…

There’s nothing better than celebrating any type of anniversary with some classy metal music, and here at The Headbanging Moose it couldn’t be any different than that as we celebrate eight years of existence supporting the underground by paying a humble tribute to our beyond amazing metal chick of the month of October. Owner of a stunningly operatic voice, she’s the singer, songwriter and founder of a fantastic Symphonic Metal act that goes by the poetic name of Dream Ocean, as well as a professional Opera singer. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the multi-talented Başak Ylva, also known as Başak C., a woman that will surely put you in a trance with her powerful vocals and stylish music. Are you ready to join Basak and The Headbanging Moose on a very pleasant symphonic journey?

Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, but currently residing in Cologne, the largest city in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Başak began her singing career at the age of seven encouraged by her parents (although they were hoping she would sing traditional Turkish music) in the children’s choir of the TRT (Turkish Radio and Television) and continued it in 2003 as a soprano in the youth classical choir of the TRT. During her high school years, she initially pursued a scientific focus, which she followed in 2004 with a degree in business administration at the University of Istanbul, which she completed in 2008 as a bachelor’s degree. On the advice of her professors, she decided in 2008 to make music her profession and at the age of 23 she started her first bachelor’s degree for her operatic career with Prof. Ayşe Sezerman in Opera singing at the Music Conservatory of Istanbul University as a mezzosoprano. During her studies, she sang as a choir singer in various Opera projects such as Die Opernprobe and Dido and Aeneas, while in 2012 she sang for the first time in Europe at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival under the direction of Rolf Beck, later making her solo debut in 2013 as Susanna in La Nozze di Figaro.

After completing her bachelor’s degree in 2014 in the role of Giovanna Seymour from Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, she began her master’s degree at the University of Music and Dance in Cologne with Professor Mechthild Georg in 2015, where she sang in many different Opera projects such as the literary Opera of the HfMT Cologne, AscheMOND or The Fairy Queen (choir, Opera Wuppertal), Hansel and Gretel (witch, Opera studio of the HfMT Cologne), Dido and Aeneas (Sorceress, Festival of Early Music Knechtsteden) and The Clever Little Fox (Forester and Owl at the Theater Aachen). In addition to her operatic activities, she also performs musicals and film and crossover music with event orchestras. Furthermore, as a choir and solo singer, she was able to gain further experience with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Helmuth Rilling, Tan Dun and E. Oronzo Estrada in countries such as Brazil, China, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Poland and South Korea.

An accomplished mezzosoprano and vocal coach, an admirer of makeup, interior design, fashion, movies and video games, and a huge supporter of female freedom and empowerment, Başak started her metal music career with Dream Ocean in Turkey in 2009, having “moved” the band to Germany in 2015 to pursue her career as an Opera singer. As she’s the creative mind, lyricist and composer behind the band, it was becoming really hard for her to fly all the time back to Turkey due to the fact she had been working in Germany for three years already. Currently comprised of our beloved diva together with Oz Khan and Borna Matosic on the guitars, Sebastian Heuckmann on bass, Nils Kessen on drums and Sebastian Plück on the keyboards, the band has been on a roll for the past ten years, having already released the EP Daydreamer, in 2012, and the full-length albums Lost Love Symphony, in 2018, and The Missing Stone, now in 2021. Before that, the band was “just a name” according to Başak herself, as they were just entertaining themselves without investing into anything more serious at first. In other words, Dream Ocean was a hobby band where they tried some covers with friends every now and then in the studio, and then she started to write her own songs and got encouraged to take things a lot more serious due to all the positive feedback received. As they were all working in different jobs or studying, and due to their their limited financial situation, they couldn’t record and album and the band was put on hold from 2011 to 2016. In between that they still did concerts and wrote songs, until they were finally able to record their debut album. If you want to have a very good taste of the music by Dream Ocean, you can enjoy several of their official videos on YouTube including Eterna Espera, Uyan, Daydreamer, The Great Silence, Somewhere Untouched, Everstorm, Forever and Beyond The Greed, or you can also stream all of their creations on Spotify.

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As aforementioned, Başak is also a professional Opera singer, using even a different name for her metal career (Başak Ylva, instead of Başak C.) due to the prejudice that still exists in classical music. “I actually try to hide it. Because in the past, I was told that I am dressing too much femme fatale-like, very extravagant. Or that my hair was too red for singing in a church. Or I should not make my hair blond because I am Turkish. Or that I should not wear red lipstick because this was not a job to wear red lipstick. Therefore the classical music branch, especially in Germany, not so much in Sweden or Norway, but in Germany, it is terribly backwards and conservative. And several times, I got severely bullied because of that,” commented our diva. Still regarding her career as an Opera singer, she described the dark moments experienced during the COVID-19 lockdown in Germany. “We performed a couple of performances around September and October. But then the next lockdown came, and the theatre decided to not extend the contracts. And when I thought I was just starting my job and was thinking, I landed in a good opera house, and I could slowly build up my career. And now I was jobless! Like from top to zero. Of course, for me, this is another thing. When I don’t have a job, I am at risk to lose my visa. And I am also helping my brother in Turkey. So everything went down. And I got a big depression. I could not go out for 6 months. I did not sing for 6 months. And I just started to have therapy. Because everything was falling apart in my life. I mean, in everybody’s life, in Sebastian’s too. But for me, my visa and everything is depending on my job. I thought something like, my career has ended. I’m done. They will throw me out of the country.”

Although she doesn’t have any side projects aside from Dream Ocean, Başak mentioned in one of her interviews that she would love to do her own solo crossover project with folk and Celtic touches. However, due to her very busy agenda with Dream Ocean and her career as an Opera singer, she said it will be really tough to actually pursue that. Let’s say that she already does A LOT with both Dream Ocean and her classical career (as you can see in her beautiful repertoire), and that we’re all more than fine with “just” those two projects. And lastly, regarding her influences and idols in music and what inspires her the most to compose her stunning creations, Başak said her introduction to Symphonic Metal happened with Nightwish, plus a local Turkish band called Almôra (which unfortunately split up in 2009). She said she used to listen to those bands and sing along with them, and the final result was so good that later on Almôra found her recordings online and invited her to sing with them in front of a real audience. Moreover, she also expressed her passion for Opera as well, saying that in the end her distinct influences end up complementing each other. “I love Opera because it has another challenging side and gives another satisfaction such as learning very hard, complicated music and then singing it with perfect technique. One is for technicality and the other is for my creativity.” Having said all that, how about we stop right here and go listen to the amazing creations by our metal diva and her Dream Ocean, and also enjoy her awesome performances as an Opera singer? I’m sure you’ll love every single second of her music and get addicted to her distinguished voice.

Başak Ylva’s Official Facebook page
Başak Ylva’s Official Instagram
Başak Ylva’s Official YouTube channel
Dream Ocean’s Official Facebook page
Dream Ocean’s Official Instagram
Dream Ocean’s Official Twitter
Dream Ocean’s Official YouTube channel

“I just want people to know that musicians and the audience – we complete a whole and we’re the same. Having the same struggles and happiness, the same problems and same solutions – one may find the way easier while the other needs to take a second look. But in the end, we meet at the same place, which is the concert hall. There we want to reach them, get to know them, and for them to get to know us. To see that we mean what we play and sing with our words, and while we do this we want to be speaking their words. Things maybe they could never say out loud. We just want people to know that we desire to tell stories and meet with people who ARE the heroes of those stories. We hope we can do this.” – Başak Ylva

Album Review – Motorjesus / Hellbreaker (2021)

Let’s drive through the fires of hell together with one of the best bands from the German rock and metal scene to the sound of their fantastic newborn album.

4.5rating

motorjesus-hellbreaker-2021Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to rev up your engines once again to the sound of the first-class, undisputed fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock brought forth by Mönchengladbach, Germany-based rockers Motorjesus, who have just unleashed upon us all their brand new studio album, beautifully titled Hellbreaker. Following up on the success of their 2014 album Electric Revelation and their most recent opus Race to Resurrection, released in 2018, the band comprised of Chris “Howling” Birx on vocals, Andreas “Andy” Peters on lead guitars and Oliver Beck on drums, supported by their buddies Patrick Wassenberg on rhythm guitars and  Dominik Kwasny on bass, truly stepped up their game in Hellbreaker, offering fans of heavy music the perfect soundtrack for crossing the fires of the underworld in the best rockin’ style together with the band.

A cinematic start is quickly joined by the scorching riffs by Andreas and Patrick in the electrifying feast Drive Through Fire, before Chris comes ripping with his trademark, soaring vocals, inviting us all to hit the road in the name of Rock N’ Roll, and if you think that was awesome wait until you listen to the Motörhead-infused hymn Battlezone, with Oliver smashing his drums in great fashion accompanied by the rumbling bass by Dominik. Put differently, this song will sound beyond perfect if played live, and Motorjesus keep driving way over the speed limit in the superb Hellbreaker, where Chris beautifully sings the song’s rockin’ lyrics (“This is the meltdown / Generation of the steel / When the worlds collide, together / Between the angels and the hell machine”) while his bandmates not only kick some ass with their sonic weapons but also with their spot-on backing vocals. Then it’s time for a Southern Rock and Metal party together with the boys in Beyond the Grave, a neck-breaking tune showcasing the dirty, furious riffage by Andreas and Patrick supported by Dominik and his classic bass jabs, whereas putting the pedal to the metal once again the saviors of Rock N’ Roll will put us to dance in Dead Rising, where all band members are in absolute sync while Chris takes the lead with his visceral vocal lines.

You better have some inner fuel left as the band’s rockin’ energy keeps flowing nonstop in Car Wars, another amazing tune by those German rockers where the riffs and solos by the band’s guitar duo are absolutely thrilling, also presenting hints of our good old Rockabilly; and the thunderous bass by Dominik kicks off the Heavy Metal mid-tempo extravaganza Firebreather, as melodic and groovy as it can be, being therefore perfect for some headbanging, beer drinking and horns raising, not to mention its stylish lyrics (“Got no place to call my own / Another journey starts now / As we’re marching on / On the path that leads, / but it’s too soon / You’re on the crossroads to your doom”). More of their trademark Hard Rock is presented to us in the form of Lawgiver, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline with Andreas and Patrick once again stealing the spotlight with their refined axes, while Black Hole Overload is a heavier and denser creation by Motorjesus where the band’s stringed trio has all the support they need from Oliver’s pounding drums to shine with their Stoner Metal sounds. They still have enough stamina for another round of their frantic Rock N’ Roll in Back to the Bullet, once again inspired by the furious music by Motörhead, with Chris sounding truly enraged form start to fish for our total delight, flowing into the acoustic and smooth outro The Outrun, soothing our souls after such avalanche of incendiary heavy music.

motorjesus-2021I guess I don’t need to say that Hellbreaker, which is by the way available in full on Spotify, is a mandatory addition to your rock and metal collection, right? It’s undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year, and it will surely inspire you to bang your head and sing along with the band every time you hit the highway. Hence, don’t forget to give the guys from Motorjesus a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to stream more of their gasoline-infused creations on Spotify, and above all that, to buy or stream your favorite version of Hellbreaker by clicking HERE or HERE. The one and only “Motorjesus”, perhaps the coolest guy you’ll ever find out there, is ready to break through the fires of hell armed with his undisputed Rock N’ Roll. Having said that, what are you waiting for to join him in his awesome adventure? Simply hit play, raise your horns, and enjoy the ride.

Best moments of the album: Battlezone, Hellbreaker, Dead Rising, Car Wars and Back to the Bullet.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 AFM Records

Track listing  
1. Drive Through Fire 5:52
2. Battlezone 3:36
3. Hellbreaker 4:07
4. Beyond the Grave 3:40
5. Dead Rising 3:47
6. Car Wars 3:35
7. Firebreather 4:28
8. Lawgiver 5:05
9. Black Hole Overload 4:35
10. Back to the Bullet 3:51
11. The Outrun 1:55

Band members
Chris “Howling” Birx – vocals
Andreas “Andy” Peters – lead guitars
Oliver Beck – drums

Guest musicians
Patrick Wassenberg – rhythm guitars (live/session)
Dominik Kwasny – bass (live/session)

Album Review – Axel Rudi Pell / Sign of the Times (2020)

Time doesn’t seem to be an issue at all for this German guitar virtuoso, as he keeps on rockin’ the nation with another round of his first-class fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock.

It looks like the one and only guitar virtuoso Axel Rudi Pell and his henchmen Johnny Gioeli on vocals, Volker Krawczak on bass, Ferdy Doernberg on keyboards and Bobby Rondinelli on drums will keep on rockin’ the nation for many decades to come based on the electrifying fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock found in Sign of the Times, the 19th studio album in the band’s impressive career, keeping up with their own stream of one studio album every two years and always delivering first-class music like what they did in 2018 with Knights Call, in 2016 with Game of Sins, in 2014 with Into the Storm, and so on. As a matter of fact, you’ll need to go back over 30 years to fully appreciate the entire work of such talented Bochum, Germany-based guitarist, not to mention the over 1.7 million albums sold worldwide as the perfect indicator of how awesome his music is. Hence, his consistency enjoys more and more respect and appreciation within the hard and heavy community as the years go by, with Sign of the Times proving once again why he has (deservedly) become a true legend among guitar players and all types of metalheads from all over the world, even without accepting such honorable title.

As soon as you hit play, get ready to have your senses invaded by The Black Serenade, a cinematic intro that’s always part of their albums, warming us up for the incendiary Gunfire, where Axel begins slashing his strings in great fashion as usual accompanied by Ferdy’s 70’s-inspired keys and the potent beats by Bobby. Needless to say, Johnny is absolutely superb on vocals, yet again showing us all that their best songs always burn such as “Burning Chains”, “Fire”, and now this amazing composition. Then we have Bad Reputation, a lesson in classic Hard Rock led by Axel’s trademark riffs and the always crisp vocals by Johnny, also bringing a very pleasant pace and vibe and a beyond catchy chorus, all spiced up by the sharp and precise guitar solos by Axel; followed by the title-track Sign Of The Times, where an atmospheric intro is gradually boosted by metallic riffs, classic drums and the rumbling bass by Volker. Put differently, simply relax and enjoy over seven minutes of top-of-the-line Hard Rock that’s at the same time slow, steady and always great to listen to.

Speeding things up a bit the quintet fires the solid The End Of The Line, showcasing Bobby’s old school drumming while Axel and Johnny complement each other’s incendiary performances flawlessly, resulting in another amazing choice for their live concerts, whereas in As Blind As A Fool Can Be it’s time for one of their trademark, classy ballads, where we’re all invited to hold our loved ones tight and enjoy their smooth and gentle musicality while Johnny gives a lesson in passion and reach with his unique voice. And Ferdy takes the energy of his magical keys to a whole new level in Wings Of The Storm, a mid-tempo tune where Johnny tells a thrilling story through his soaring vocal lines while his bandmates generate a well-balanced and captivating ambience in the background, maintaining the album at an absurd level of quality, groove and feeling.

How about one more thrilling Rock N’ Roll ride with the boys? That’s what you’re going to get in Waiting For Your Call, utterly loyal to their own traditions and living up to the legacy of bands such as Bon Jovi, Heart and Journey, with Volker, Ferdy and Bobby being spot-on with their fiery instruments, providing Johnny all he needs to shine on vocals. Following such fun tune, a Reggae-inspired intro beautifully spearheaded by Johnny and Axel soon morphs into a 70’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal extravaganza à la Rainbow titled Living In A Dream, bringing to our avid ears amazing performances by all band members, in special Ferdy with his whimsical keys, and showing a more alternative side of Axel while at the same time keeping his core essence intact. And last but not least, a fusion of epicness and dexterity concludes the album in Into The Fire, where Axel’s riffs sound insanely mesmerizing, therefore showcasing all his talent and skills as the fantastic guitarist that he is. Furthermore, this is such a gorgeous tune that I wish it was even longer and more atmospheric than its final shape and form just to provide us more time to enjoy Axel’s stunning music.

Sign of the Times Vinyl Boxset

I don’t think I need to tell you that if you consider yourself a diehard fan of classic rock and metal, you definitely need to purchase Sign of the Times, right? And you can do so by clicking HERE and selecting your favorite version of the album, with the deluxe vinyl boxset (which comes with a wall clock, a digipak CD version of the album, a double-LP gatefold in different colours, a magnet, a button, an A1 double sided poster, an A5 photo card and a sticker, all strictly limited to 1000 copies) being undoubtedly your go-to version of it. Also, don’t forget to give Mr. Axel Rudi Pell a shout on Facebook showing your respect and admiration for the amazing music he always brings to us fans, with Sign of the Times keeping the flames of such unparalleled guitarist and his loyal bandmates burning bright for the next couple of years until we see more of his stylish metal music. And as you might have already noticed, saying he’ll stun us once again with his captivating creations is not just a simple desire or a dream, but the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Best moments of the album: Gunfire, Bad Reputation, The End Of The Line and Living In A Dream.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 SPV/Steamhammer

Track listing
1. The Black Serenade (Intro) 1:40
2. Gunfire 5:21
3. Bad Reputation 5:41
4. Sign Of The Times 7:10
5. The End Of The Line 5:22
6. As Blind As A Fool Can Be 6:14
7. Wings Of The Storm 5:48
8. Waiting For Your Call 5:34
9. Living In A Dream 5:59
10. Into The Fire 6:01

Band members
Johnny Gioeli – vocals
Axel Rudi Pell – guitar
Volker Krawczak – bass
Ferdy Doernberg – keyboards
Bobby Rondinelli – drums

Album Review – Bonded / Rest In Violence (2020)

Bonded by old school and modern Thrash Metal, these German metallers masterfully unite the past, present and future of the genre in their debut album.

Featuring former Sodom members Bernd “Bernemann” Kost on the guitar and Markus “Makka” Freiwald on drums, as well as guitarist Chris Tsitsis (Suicidal Angels), bassist Marc Hauschild (Tauron) and vocalist Ingo Bajonczak (Assassin), German Thrash Metal squad Bonded was formed in 2018 in Dortmund, a city in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region, aiming at creating nothing short of highly versatile and hard-hitting Thrash Metal with no shenanigans nor any type of artificial elements, and let’s say they more than succeeded in that with their debut full-length installment, the excellent and pulverizing Rest In Violence. Produced by Cornelius Rambadt (Sodom, Disbelief, Onkel Tom) at Rambado Recordings in Essen, Germany, ddsplaying an obscure artwork by German artist and musician Björn Gooßes (Killustrations), and featuring very special guest appearances by vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth (Overkill) and bassist Christian “Speesy” Giesler (Extinct the Scum, Kreator), Rest In Violence will bring to your avid ears a well-balanced mix of the past, present and future of Thrash Metal, showing how much those guys love such rebellious and heavy metal style.

A Testament-inspired intro quickly explodes into melodic and vibrant Bay Area Thrash in Godgiven, where Bernd and Chris waste no time and begin slashing their strings mercilessly, resulting in a great headbanging tune to properly kick things off, whereas the even faster and more infuriated Suit Murderer is an amazing thrashing tune by Bonded bringing elements from the traditional sonority by Sodom and Destruction, where Ingo roars deeply like a maniac while Markus doesn’t stop crushing his drums not even for a single second. And featuring guest vocals by the aforementioned Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and guest bass by Christian “Speesy” Giesler, Rest In Violence is a bestial display of modern-day thrash where Ingo and Bobby make an infernal vocal duo while the rest of the band puts the pedal to the metal armed with their instruments of mass devastation, also blasting some wicked guitar solos for our total delight.

And there’s more of their pounding and visceral Thrash Metal in Je Suis Charlie (the slogan created by French art director Joachim Roncin and adopted by supporters of freedom of speech and freedom of the press after the January 7, 2015 shooting in which twelve people were killed at the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo), with Marc and Markus being responsible for keeping the “kitchen” heavy and dense, providing Ingo all he needs to vociferate the song’s austere words. Then razor-edged riffs dictate the rhythm in the also furious and groovy The Rattle & The Snake, where Markus is once again bestial on drums while Ingo keeps growling loudly and rabidly, turning it into a fantastic option for slamming into the pit and with the harmonica bringing a welcome touch of finesse to the overall musicality. Although the obscure No Cure For Life is darker and heavier than its predecessors and a good choice for breaking your neck headbanging, it looses its grip after a while, though, but nothing that would harm the album. And keep banging your heads nonstop to Where Silence Reverberates, leaning towards the vicious Groove Metal blasted by Lamb of God and with the demolishing riffage by both Bernd and Chris sounding beyond awesome; followed by Galaxy M87, where bonded get back to a more berserk mode inspired by Bay Area Thrash the likes of Exodus and Testament. Furthermore, Ingo is on fire with his demented roars, while his bandmates exhale heaviness and rage from their sonic weapons.

In the deranged Arrival we’re all treated to an amazing job done by the band’s guitar duo with their incendiary riffs and solos, not to mention the accelerate pace spearheaded by Markus and his venomous beats, and it looks like their circle pit extravaganza has no time to end based on the violence flowing from The Beginning Of The End, one of the bonus tracks from the album’s limited first-pressing edition CD, led by Ingo and his enraged gnarls. The entire band blasts a lesson in modern-day Thrash Metal infused with Groove Metal nuances, once again highly inspired by the most contemporary creations by thrashing masters Exodus. But wait, as there’s still more, as melodic guitar lines ignite the second bonus tracks of the CD version of Rest in Violence, entitled To Each His Own, also speeding things up and offering us fans a very good reason to crush our skull into the mosh pit, with Markus stealing the spotlight with his infernal performance on drums. Lastly, a serene, acoustic intro kicks off the introspective and grim The Outer Rim, with Ingo’s vocals getting closer to the clean voice by Soilwork’s own Björn “Speed” Strid, while Bernd and Chirs bring tons of feeling and groove to the song with their riffs and solos, ending the album in a truly powerful way.

The year of 2020 has barely started and it has already provided us all several amazing Thrash Metal albums, with Rest In Violence by Bonded being one of the most interesting and honest of all releases hands down. Hence, go check what those metallers are up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and click HERE to check all places where you can grab your copy of such killer album. As mentioned in the beginning of this review, while listening to Rest In Violence I’m sure you’ll identify all influences from the past of Thrash Metal in their music while at the same time sensing a modern and fresh sound, always moving forward and never sounding outdated or obsolete. Those German guys are definitely bonded by Thrash Metal, guaranteeing a lot of fun for us fans of violence and rebelliousness in music and, above all, of our beloved mosh pits.

Best moments of the album: Suit Murderer, Rest In Violence, The Rattle & The Snake and Galaxy M87.

Worst moments of the album: No Cure For Life.

Released in 2020 Century Media

Track listing
1. Godgiven 4:13
2. Suit Murderer 4:12
3. Rest In Violence 3:49
4. Je Suis Charlie 3:55
5. The Rattle & The Snake 4:00
6. No Cure For Life 4:40
7. Where Silence Reverberates 5:14
8. Galaxy M87 4:52
9. Arrival 3:52
12.The Outer Rim 4:42

First-Pressing Edition CD bonus tracks
10. The Beginning Of The End 4:15
11.To Each His Own 4:26

Band members
Ingo Bajonczak – vocals
Bernd “Bernemann” Kost – guitar
Chris Tsitsis – guitar
Marc Hauschild – bass
Markus “Makka” Freiwald – drums

Guest musicians
Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth – vocals on “Rest In Violence”
Christian “Speesy” Giesler – bass on “Rest In Violence”

Album Review – Once / After Earth (2018)

Inspired by neo-romantic soundtrack music, this talented German squad will take you to a world of fantasy, passion and mystery with their debut full-length album.

Heavily inspired by neo-romantic soundtrack music, and including typical elements of a classical Aristotelian drama combined with heavy guitars and drums in their music, German Symphonic Metal act Once has been embellishing the airwaves with their unique musicality since their inception in 2012 in North Rhine-Westphalia, culminating now in 2018 with the release of their debut full-length album, entitled After Earth. If you’re an admirer of the classy and enfolding Symphonic Metal crafted by iconic bands like Epica, Nightwish, Within Temptation and Beyond The Black, the creations by this German quartet comprised of Alina Lesnik on vocals, Marco Paulzen on the guitars, bass and harsh vocals, Frank Wypchol on keyboards, piano and orchestrations, and Alexander Hey on drums will certainly please your metallic soul.

Featuring a curious artwork by Tullius Heuer and orchestra and choir arrangements by Frank Wypchol, produced by Frank Wypchol and Marco Paulzen, recorded and engineered by Marco Paulzen in Münster, Germany, and having as a very special guest musician Shir-Ran Yinon (Krayenzeit, Haggard, Eluveitie and New Model Army) on violin, After Earth will take the listener to a world of fantasy, passion and mystery, which combined with the band’s imposing musicality and the album’s crisp and vibrant production will fully captivate your senses, making you eager for more of the music by this talented German squad. In other words, simply hit play, close your eyes, and let Once guide you through the exciting lands of After Earth.

Like the intro to an epic movie, Act 1 (Overture) invites us all to join Once in their musical journey starting with the imposing and symphonic Awake, a lesson in Symphonic Power Metal led by the classic keys and piano by Frank, with Alina living up to the legacy of stunning vocalists like Tarja Turunen and Floor Jansen. Then even more symphonic than its predecessor, My Masterpiece showcases another excellent performance by Frank with his keys while Marco brings passion to the music with his riffs and solos, as well as Alexander and his thunderous beats; followed by The Allure, presenting guest Shir-Ran Yinon and her whimsical violin in a beautiful feast of symphonic and melodic sounds and tones. Furthermore, Alina is magnificent on vocals, while Marco creates a very interesting paradox to the tenderness of the violin with his heavier-than-hell riffs.

Again featuring Shir-Ran Yinon, Distorted Smiles is a serene ballad where Alina smoothly declaims the song’s classy lyrics (“Winter’s fingers creeping chillingly / Across the rusty window bar / Through the stormy blizzard rings / A weary melody coming from afar”) before their crushing Symphonic Metal strikes again in The Hour of Eden’s Fall, presenting stylish words (“Images of a bursting sanity / Are turning into a lost reflection / Of the eternal bond of our affection / Painting the moment as a memory / Once my only world was your embrace / Now my heart is buried and erased”) and incendiary performances by Marco and Alexander, bringing rage and electricity to the music with their harsh growls, cutting riffs and nonstop beats. After such powerful display of symphonic music, a cinematic bridge titled Act II (Intermezzo) builds an imposing and adventurous atmosphere for the power ballad My Fairytale, with Alina stealing the spotlight with her fiery vocals while Frank and his keys and orchestrations add tons of electricity to the overall result, being perfect for fans of Epica and Nightwish.

Spiced up by a stunning work done on the piano by Frank we have Phenomena, a metallic symphony of sounds that feels like the soundtrack to a dangerous but thrilling adventure, with Marco carving the word “metal” onto the musicality with his Melodic Metal riffs and bass punches, connecting instantly with the Opera Metal-inspired tune The Sins of Saints, keeping the ambience vibrant and exciting with Frank and Marco being on absolute fire throughout the entire song, slashing our senses and dragging us to their fantastic world of heavy music. Then in Insane Schemes of Sanity an ethereal start morphs into a classy and gentle Symphonic Power Metal extravaganza, flirting with Folk Metal at times thanks to its pace and breaks, as well as Frank’s keys and Alina’s storytelling vocals, whereas in The Final Stage, where Shir-Ran Yinon embellishes the musicality once again with her magic violin, we’re treated to over 10 minutes of first-class Symphonic Metal led by Alina’s gorgeous vocal lines, all embraced by vibrant, stunning orchestrations and boosted by Marco’s deep roars, flowing flawlessly for our total delight until its grand finale, before Epilogue (A Memento of Our Hiraeth) concludes this album of symphony, melody and epicness in a beyond enfolding and theatrical way, mesmerizing our senses for over six minutes with its gentle piano notes and orchestral background elements.

It’s quite impossible to stand still or unemotional while listening to Once, especially if you’re a longtime fan of stylish, epic and heavy orchestral music, and in order to show your appreciation for such distinct band go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and purchase your copy of After Earth, a gorgeous lecture in Symphonic Metal, from the Pride & Joy Music webstore, from MBM Music By Mail, from the NEH Records webstore, from iTunes, or from Amazon. Once will certainly take you on a fantastic musical journey with After Earth, showing you how relevant Symphonic Metal still is nowadays, and how inspiring it can be in your everyday life.

Best moments of the album: The Allure, The Hour of Eden’s Fall, Phenomena and The Final Stage.

Worst moments of the album: Insane Schemes of Sanity.

Released in 2018 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Act 1 (Overture) 2:04
2. Awake 4:19
3. My Masterpiece 3:40
4. The Allure (feat. Shir-Ran Yinon) 3:59
5. Distorted Smiles (feat. Shir-Ran Yinon) 3:52
6. The Hour of Eden’s Fall 4:45
7. Act II (Intermezzo) 2:12
8. My Fairytale 3:55
9. Phenomena 4:35
10. The Sins of Saints 3:57
11. Insane Schemes of Sanity 4:31
12. The Final Stage (feat. Shir-Ran Yinon) 10:18
13. Epilogue (A Memento of Our Hiraeth) 5:51

Band members
Alina Lesnik – vocals
Marco Paulzen – guitars, bass, harsh vocals
Frank Wypchol – keyboards, piano, orchestrations
Alexander Hey – drums

Guest musician
Shir-Ran Yinon – violin on “The Allure”, “Distorted Smiles” and “The Final Stage”

Album Review – Motorjesus / Race to Resurrection (2018)

While Jesus saves, Motorjesus are back in full force on their race for our good old Rock N’ Roll.

At long last, after four long years Mönchengladbach-based Heavy Metal/Hard Rock squad Motorjesus is finally back with a brand new album, titled Race to Resurrection, which is not only the fifth in their solid and electrifying career, but also a very organic and enhanced follow-up to their 2014 opus  Electric Revelation. More rounded, more balanced and much more diverse than their previous offerings, Race to Resurrection is one hundred percent Motorjesus, or in other words, an amalgamation of Rock N’ Roll anthems portraying Jesus as a cool and fun anti-hero who loves rock music above all things. With such distinct theme and endless electricity flowing from their music, how not to enjoy that ride with those metallers from North Rhine-Westphalia, right? Just by looking at the album’s marvelous cover art you already know Motorjesus are among us to kick some serious ass.

Even the departure of former companions Guido Reuss (guitar) and Roman Jasiczak (bass) in 2016 could not stop those German gasoline rockers from unleashing upon humanity their new album, spearheaded by frontman Chris “Howling” Birx and his henchmen Andreas “Andy” Peters on the guitar and Oliver Beck on drums, as well as session musicians Dominik Kwasny on bass and Patrick Wassenberg on rhythm guitar, both from Chris’ cover band Chris Howling Band (and who are by the way also playing with the band during their live performances). If you’re a fan of renowned bands such as Anthrax, Motörhead, Spiritual Beggars and Pantera you’ll simply love the music found in Race to Resurrection, and if you’re already a longtime fan of Motorjesus there you have another must-have addition to your road trip playlist.

Rev up your engines because a Rock N’ Roll race made in Germany is about to begin in Tales from the Wrecking Ball, showcasing melodious lines that feel like a hybrid between Van Halen and Motörhead. Hence, Chris doesn’t waste a single second and begins blasting his potent, enraged vocals accompanied by the flammable rockin’ riffs by Andy and Patrick. After such fantastic start, Oliver pounds his drums in a rhythmic, headbanging tune perfect for hitting the road titled King Collider, a thrilling Hard Rock feast led by the stunning riffs by Andy and Patrick while Dominik keeps hammering his bass strings mercilessly; whereas Re-Ignite follows the same path of awesomeness, sounding closer to what they did in Electric Revelation. Moreover, Chris once again leads his troop with his piercing vocal lines, with the band’s guitar duo giving another lesson in Heavy Metal and Hard Rock. Then bang your fuckin’ head nonstop to the electrifying, utterly awesome rockin’ hymn Speedway Sanctuary, with its pace, vibe and punch being absolutely stunning while at the same time the guitars by Andy and Patrick slash our ears beautifully. Put differently, this is how modern and vibrant rock music should always be done, my friends.

Casket Days is a galloping composition showcasing hard-hitting beats and thunderous bass lines, with Chris once again thriving on vocals by firing more aggressive, demented growls than usual, keeping the atmosphere of the album truly combustible. In the melancholic and captivating power ballad The Infernal it’s time to slow things down a bit, sounding more impactful (and I would say even more meaningful) than their old ballads, with the acoustic guitars having a 90’s vibe that end up adding a very welcome extra taste to the final result, while in Burning Black the band gets back to their more ferocious and harmonious mode. In a nutshell, this is classic Motorjesus, bringing forward potent vocals and lyrics, a headbanging rhythm and beyond scorching riffs and bass lines. And Motorjesus put the pedal to the metal in another incendiary tune named The Damage, where all band members are in total sync, with the sound of guitars bringing joy and electricity to our hearts as well as the fast and precise drums by Oliver (not to mention Andy’s sensational guitar solo). Needless to say, this is another mandatory song for their live performances. On the other hand, despite its fantastic lyrics and solid instrumental, The Storm is slightly below the rest of the album regarding its punch and feeling. It’s not a bad song, not at all, but the entire album is so amazing this one ended up not being that good, got it?

When a song named Engines of War kicks off with beyond thrilling guitar lines you know it will be a fiery Hard Rock feast, this time obviously led by Andy and his unstoppable guitar, inspiring us to get into the circle pit and to slam to the pounding beats by Oliver. On a side note, I wish more radio stations all over the world played songs like this precious gem of Rock N’ Roll. Anyway, The Chase reminds me of the music by Danish rockers Volbeat, slightly less Johnny Cash-like and more Motörhead-ish (if that makes sense to you), a great fast-and-furious rockin’ tune for going over the speed limit on the highway, with Chris’ vocals and Dominik’s bass sounding flawless when combined; and you’ll be caught in a mosh once again thanks to another classic and thrilling creation by Motorjesus titled Running Out of Time, where Andy and Patrick show no mercy for their strings, therefore blasting badass Rock N’ Roll for our total delight until the song’s breathtaking finale. Last but not least, Oliver crushes our minds once again with his drums while the Chris exhales adrenaline through his potent vocals in the closing tune Awaken the Tyrants, presenting several breaks and layers and flowing powerfully and smoothly until its ending.

As I mentioned in my review for Electric Revelation, while Jesus saves, Motorjesus rock, and that motto continues to be more than valid in Race to Resurrection, an album that cements the band as one of the biggest name in contemporary Hard Rock and that will keep their fire burning bright in the scene even after the considerable lineup changes that impacted them a couple of years ago. Having said that, don’t waste any time and go show your support for such distinguished band on Facebook right now, and purchase your copy of their latest masterpiece from several different options by clicking HERE or by visiting the PS-Metal webstore. It doesn’t matter if your favorite Motorjesus album is Deathrider, Wheels of Purgatory, Electric Revelation or their newborn baby Race to Resurrection, as long as we have the music by Motorjesus in our hearts (and of course in our playlists), our race for our beloved Rock N’ Roll will never end.

Best moments of the album: Speedway Sanctuary, The Infernal, The Damage and Engines of War.

Worst moments of the album: The Storm.

Released in 2018 Drakkar Records

Track listing   
1. Tales from the Wrecking Ball 4:38
2. King Collider 4:14
3. Re-Ignite 3:46
4. Speedway Sanctuary 4:30
5. Casket Days 3:58
6. The Infernal 5:20
7. Burning Black 4:21
8. The Damage 3:59
9. The Storm 4:51
10. Engines of War 3:50
11. The Chase 4:20
12. Running Out of Time 4:01
13. Awaken the Tyrants 5:24

Band members
Chris “Howling” Birx – vocals
Andreas “Andy” Peters – guitars
Oliver Beck – drums

Guest musicians
Dominik Kwasny – bass (live/session)
Patrick Wassenberg – rhythm guitars (live/session)

Album Review – Misanthrope Monarch / Regress To The Saturnine Chapter (2017)

Be prepared for 35 minutes of ruthless and crushing music offered by a German act that has all it takes to become the next big name in the underground Death Metal scene.

It brings me a lot of joy to see that one of the first independent acts reviewed at The Headbanging Moose over three years ago has kept growing as a band since then, evolving to a much stronger, thrilling and boisterous entity through the years. The band in question goes by the imposing name of Misanthrope Monarch, who after the release of their self-titled mini-album in 2014 are finally back with their first full-length installment, the bold, technical and absolutely devastating Regress To The Saturnine Chapter. It doesn’t matter if you like a more modern and technical version of Death Metal or that traditional old school havoc brought forth by bands such as Cannibal Corpse and Deicide, as Misanthrope Monarch offers you all of that and more during the album’s 35 minutes of extreme brutality.

Supported by the Wacken Foundation and featuring a menacing artwork by the band’s ex-guitarist Chris Salmen (Combat Colour) as well as Sami Yli-Sirniö of Kreator as a guest guitarist, Regress To The Saturnine Chapter is the epitome of European underground Death Metal, not only representing to perfection what this Oberhausen-based quintet is all about, but also what you can expect from any other German band that knows how to beautifully blend the gore and heaviness of Death Metal with tons of melody and devotion to extreme music. Furthermore, the album also marks the debut of lead singer Cristoph “Chris” Mieves, a Death Metal bulldozer who also growls like a beast for German acts Grind Inc. and Resurrected, and if you know those bands I’m sure you have a very good idea of how savage the music by Misanthrope Monarch shall sound now.

The short, dissonant intro Towards The Utopian Kingdom Of Fire warns the listener there’s a first-class metal tempest coming entitled Usurping The Throne, where drummer Max Scheefeldt decimates his drum set while Chris provides those old school Death Metal deep guttural, menacing growls we all love in this type of music, not to mention the song’s insane main riff and the kick-ass solo by guest musician Sami Yli-Sirniö. Put differently, this is an absolutely fantastic display of what Misanthrope Monarch are capable of doing, pumping us all up for a lot more of their crushing Death Metal, which is what we end up getting in Crushing The Unbeliever, a re-recording from their 2014 mini-album (you can check the original version HERE). The bands gives a new shape and form to the song, with the new version sounding more destructive due to the cavernous screams by Chris. Moreover, the guitar duo comprised of Kristian Gøbels and Richie Zubek will burn your ears and pierce your mind with their lancinating riffs. And the insanely heavy and thrilling The Brotherhood Of Destruction has the perfect name for the chaotic music presented, sounding old school and modern at the same time. Furthermore, if you love the music by Cannibal Corpse you’ll have a blast with the infernal gnarls by Chris and the rhythmic and precise drumming by Max, as well as the intricate bass lines à la Alex Webster by Pat Fleischmann.

In the next track, titled Dispelled, metallic guitars and bass pound our heads violently, while Chris keeps vociferating like a demonic creature. Kristian and Richie bring a lot of melody to the musicality with their solos, never letting the energy level go down. The title-track Regress To The Saturnine Chapter is amazingly brutal and obscure, presenting a more progressive side of the band, in special the intricacy brought forth by Pat and Max on bass and drums respectively; whereas Father Sin And The Hollow Spirit is the second old song to be redesigned (enjoy the original version HERE). I personally love both versions of it, with the new one having as its strongest elements the gory growls by Chris and the more polished and thunderous overall production, making each instrument more aggressive and therefore more enjoyable.

Black Sirens Lurking presents another side of the band, showcasing an atmospheric, acoustic beginning that suddenly explodes into an imposing sonority led by the beautiful guitars by Kristian and Richie, setting the tone for the technical The Omega Embrace, which keeps the violent aura of the album burning through the demonic riffs, beats and growls bred by the entire band, despite losing some of its grip after a while. On the other hand, Trail Of The Heretic (Maleficium) is brutal Death Metal from start to finish, living up to the most gruesome icons of the genre. Max sounds bestial on drums as well as Chris on vocals, with the riffs and solos blasted by the band’s dynamic guitarists being the song’s icing on the cake. And lastly, their final onrush of demonic sounds comes in the form of a more complex and eerie song titled Cosmic Maze, sounding and feeling more somber than all previous tunes, with the guitars exhaling darkness and despair while Chris sends a not-so-happy message through his devilish vociferations, ending in a melancholic and beautiful way.

In a nutshell, with the ruthless Regress To The Saturnine Chapter (which can be listened in its entirety on YouTube or Spotify), Misanthrope Monarch are accrediting themselves as one of the strongest names in the underground scene when the style in question is Death Metal, and who knows, maybe we’re facing the actual future of Death Metal with those guys. I guess I don’t need to say that they need our full support to turn that future into an exciting reality, right? In order to do that, go visit their Facebook page for news and other info, enjoy their music on YouTube, and purchase Regress To The Saturnine Chapter through their own BandCamp or Big Cartel (where you can choose between the regular CD version or the CD + T-shirt bundle), on iTunes, on Amazon or at CD Baby. I was going to say that I’m eager to see what’s next for Misanthrope Monarch, but their new album is so damn good I guess for now it’s better if we simply enjoy it as much as we can without thinking about the future, and let the band follow their natural path and keep smashing us all with their impeccable Death Metal for the coming decades.

Best moments of the album: Usurping The Throne, The Brotherhood Of Destruction, Father Sin And The Hollow Spirit and Trail Of The Heretic (Maleficium).

Worst moments of the album: The Omega Embrace.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Towards The Utopian Kingdom Of Fire 0:44
2. Usurping The Throne 3:21
3. Crushing The Unbeliever 3:12
4. The Brotherhood Of Destruction 3:50
5. Dispelled 3:35
6. Regress To The Saturnine Chapter 3:22
7. Father Sin And The Hollow Spirit 2:43
8. Black Sirens Lurking 2:31
9. The Omega Embrace 3:15
10. Trail Of The Heretic (Maleficium) 3:25
11. Cosmic Maze 5:29

Band members
Chris Mieves – vocals
Kristian Gøbels – guitar
Richie Zubek – guitar
Pat Fleischmann – bass
Max Scheefeldt – drums

Guest musician
Sami Yli-Sirniö – lead guitar on “Usurping The Throne”

Album Review – Through Chaos & Solitude / The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun EP (2017)

A classy and meaningful Melodic Black Metal project aiming at opening our eyes and show us that we, mankind, are our own blessing and our own curse.

“The thawing winds of the morning sun is us. Mankind. We are our own blessing and our own curse. We are the stroke of wing which causes these winds to blow. We try to become god ourselves while declaring him for dead and still we deny our nature. We subdue the earth and its children and still we strive for more. By now we already realized our purpose and we willingly choose to neglect it. We’re flying directly into the sun and still we’re accelerating…”

These dark, poetic words perfectly summarize the music you’ll find in The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun, the debut demo by German Melodic Black Metal project Through Chaos & Solitude, led by multi-instrumentalist Tim Rule (Forward to Eden) with the help of Sebastian D. (Castigator) on drums. Featuring a serene cover art by Pottriot Illustrationen, and written, recorded and mixed by Tim himself during this past winter in the city of Ruhrpott in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state of Germany, The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun brings beautiful, melancholic and dark music in the vein of bands like Woods Of Ypres, Agalloch and Falls Of Rauros, with each one of its three songs sending a thoughtful message about life and death, our souls, our existence and our struggles.

The initial sound of the howling wind in the first song of the demo, titled The Intransigence Of The Soul, is suddenly joined by an onrush of heavy guitars and blast beats, with the demonic gnarls by Tim giving life (or I should say death) to the song’s poetic lyrics (“Constant struggle of the mind and the heart / Constant suspense of the body and the mind / Persistency in the thought – restlessly moving on / Intransigence of the soul…”). Furthermore, anguish, despair and loneliness are just a few of the emotions explored by Tim in this piercing Black Metal chant, ending in an acoustic and pensive manner before we face the second piece of the demo, A Heart Of Eternal Winter (And The Longing For Your Warmth), which builds a direct bridge to the opening track, beginning in a slow-paced rhythm inspired by the obscurity of Doom and Gothic Metal, also showcasing acute Black Metal blast beats by Sebastian D. and a somber ambience. Tim’s phantasmagoric vocals embrace us in darkness at first, shifting to his hellish growls and back to melodic clean vocals and, therefore, creating a nice paradox of voices inside our minds.

Also connected to its predecessor, If This Is The Best We Can Get Then I Am Disappointed brings forward obscure acoustic guitars and once again the haunting sound of the wind while Tim darkly grasps the song’s austere lyrics, which present his personal view of mankind (“Evolution has brought us so far / And still – look where we are / Creating life and taking life / All in the same conceited breath / We are appointing ourselves to gods / Whereas declaring him for dead / If this is the best we can be / Then please let it end with me / Evolution has brought us so far…”). In addition, this composition is another excellent sample of the clash of distinct sounds Tim enjoys putting together, displaying slow and steady beats à la Doom Metal during its first half, whereas the second part of the song brings an explosion of heavy and dissonant sounds that lives up to the legacy of Scandinavian Black Metal, until it finally reaches its lugubrious ending.

In summary, Tim and his Through Chaos & Solitude are not only offering us well-crafted, harmonious and dark heavy music, but he also discusses important topics about the dangerous direction mankind is taking, pointing to our dread but inevitable extinction. If you’re a metalhead that’s always in pursuit of high-end music coming from independent artists and bands who also care about the content and message transmitted through their creations, Through Chaos & Solitude might be exactly what you’re craving, and obviously don’t forget support this brand new project by purchasing The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun at the Bound By Modern Age Records’ BandCamp or webstore (in tape or CD format), at the Mark My Words Records’ BandCamp or webstore, or at Discogs. Let’s hope Tim goes on with Through Chaos & Solitude, a classy project with a meaningful message that only brings more energy to his already excellent Melodic Black Metal, and that mankind finally opens their eyes for all the wrongful things that are happening in our world before it’s too late.

Best moments of the album: The Intransigence Of The Soul.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bound By Modern Age Records/Mark My Words Records

Track listing
1. The Intransigence Of The Soul 7:58
2. A Heart Of Eternal Winter (And The Longing For Your Warmth) 5:10
3. If This Is The Best We Can Get Then I Am Disappointed 6:37

Band members
Tim Rule – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Sebastian D. – drums