Album Review – Nuclear Winter / Greystone (2021)

Harare, Zimbabwe-based Melodic and Industrial Death Metal one-man army is back in action sharper than ever with his most powerful and detailed album to date.

3.5rating

nuclear-winter-greystone-2021After the success of his 2020 EP Stormscapes, Harare, Zimbabwe-based Melodic/Industrial Death Metal one-man army Nuclear Winter is set to unleash the project’s third full-length opus, entitled Greystone, where the band’s mastermind, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Gary Stautmeister recorded, wrote and produced everything by himself, giving the whole album a very personal touch. “I’m very happy to have completed this new album titled Greystone. I was aiming to produce something heavy but also more electronic than my previous EP. It was quite challenging mix-wise because each song uses a slightly different sound on the drums/bass/guitars, but I feel the overall production is an improvement from my previous work, and the songs are now hopefully more distinct from each other. I especially like Corridor of Shells – which is about a battle in which the surrendering army brings shame to their country,” proudly commented Gary about his new “baby”.

And Gary doesn’t waste a single second and begins shredding his guitar mercilessly in the opening tune The Wastelands, all boosted by the song’s futuristic background elements, therefore reminding me of some creations by the iconic Fear Factory. More of his fusion of Industrial and Death Metal comes in the form of the visceral and somber Stygian Awakening, with Gary growling like a demonic entity while at the same time generating an interesting paradox with his own clean vocals, resulting in a headbanging, epic and progressive creation by this Zimbabwean lone wolf; whereas Gary’s metallic bass jabs will hit you hard in the head in The Harvest Moon, another whimsical, multi-layered creation that travels through the realms of Progressive, Death and Melodic Metal flawlessly. It’s quite impressive how his music is so dense and detailed taking into account he’s only one single musician, and in Orwellian Future his undeniable talent becomes even clearer as he’s capable of bringing some welcome hints of electronic music to the song’s overall heaviness.

Time for Gary to invest in a more rockin’ sound in Corridor of Shells, where our one-man band kicks some serious ass with his riffs and solos while crushing his drums with tons of intricacy, sounding very atmospheric and therefore living up to the legacy of modern-day Industrial Metal. The Wavering Shadows beings in full force showcasing strident riffs, epic keyboards and hammering drums, keeping the album at a high level of obscurity and insanity, with Gary firing truly demonic, Black Metal-inspired gnarls, while he will put you to dance under the moonlight in Hidden Shrine, showcasing elements from 80’s electronic bands the likes of Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys and New Order added to the project’s core essence. The second to last explosion of Industrial Death Metal by Gary, entitled Graveyard Sculpture, continues his path of devastation and insanity, with the machine-like drums walking hand in hand with all futuristic keys; and The Failing Dawn, the closing tune of the album, might not be as impactful as its predecessors, but it still showcases Gary’s own “darkness versus light” vocal duel and his always visceral riffage.

nuclear-winter-2021In a nutshell, as aforementioned, it’s truly impressive how Gary manages to sound like a full-bodied band even doing all by himself, and in Greystone we must all admit he outdid himself in terms of creativity, punch and heaviness, offering us fans of heavy music what’s perhaps the best metal album that has ever been recorded in Zimbabwe, and even if Zimbabwe might not be considered a true metal country that still means a lot. Hence, don’t forget to show Gary your support and admiration by following him and his Nuclear Winter on Facebook and on Twitter, by streaming all of his wicked compositions on Spotify, and above all that, by purchasing your copy of Greystone from the MDD Records’ BandCamp page (or click HERE for all locations where you can stream or buy the full album). As he keeps evolving as a musician (and as a producer), let’s wait and see what’s next in the career of Mr. Gary Stautmeister, and until then we can keep enjoying all tracks from the excellent Greystone in the name of Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: Stygian Awakening, Corridor of Shells and The Wavering Shadows.

Worst moments of the album: The Failing Dawn.

Released in 2021 MDD Records

Track listing
1. The Wastelands 4:00
2. Stygian Awakening 4:12
3. The Harvest Moon 3:58
4. Orwellian Future 3:43
5. Corridor of Shells 4:20
6. The Wavering Shadows 4:07
7. Hidden Shrine 4:40
8. Graveyard Sculpture 3:13
9. The Failing Dawn 4:08

Band members
Gary Stautmeister – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Nuclear Winter / Stormscapes EP (2020)

Taking on a new twist of an already unique blend of Melodic and Industrial Death Metal, a one-man outfit from Zimbabwe descends upon us all again with an exciting new EP.

After only a few short months, Zimbabwean Melodic/Industrial Death Metal one-man outfit Nuclear Winter descends upon us all again ready to blast the world with his fourth release, a relatively short but very enjoyable four-track EP entitled Stormscapes. After the collaboration on his 2019 album Night Shift, Nuclear Winter’s mastermind Gary Stautmeister decided to strike out on his own and mold the four tracks in Stormsacapes alone, taking on a new twist of an already unique blend of Melodic and Industrial Death Metal with Alternative Rock, proving with his new opus that not only can this Harare, Zimbabwe-based multi-instrumentalist create a rare twist on the tried-and-true Melodic Death Metal formula, but he can push his own envelope in new directions and make excellent new material in the process, undoubtedly making Zimbabwe’s metal scene (and Melodeath in general) truly proud of Gary’s project.

After hitting play you’ll be treated to an imposing and industrialized sonority permeating the air in the opening track Hearts of Stone, with Gary crushing his drums and firing incendiary riffs nonstop, therefore living up to the legacy of Industrial Death Metal and also bringing tons of epicness and obscurity to our avid ears. Then shredding his guitar strings in great fashion Gary delivers the even more atmospheric and dense The Wide Water, leaning towards the Symphonic Black Metal played by Dimmu Borgir at times mainly due to all the song’s phantasmagorical background elements, not to mention how devilish and grim his gnarls are. And Gary somehow managed to get even darker and heavier in The Northern Winds, getting closer and closer to traditional Black Metal infused with symphonic and industrial nuances, barking rabidly while at the same time mercilessly smashing his drums and bass, followed by his personal rendition of Frank Sinatra’s biggest hit of all time New York, New York (check the original version HERE). I must admit Nuclear Winter’s version is not only heavy-as-hell, but it also maintains the energy and thrill of the original version, showcasing Gary’s undisputed talent, his passion for the music he plays, and his utmost respect for the classics.

In a nutshell, it’s truly impressive how Gary is capable of generating such bold sound all by himself, and in order to show your support to what’s most probably the most interesting metal project coming from Zimbabwe you should definitely go check what he’s up to on Facebook, on Twitter and on YouTube, and visit his official BandCamp page to listen to and purchase Stormscapes soon, as well as his 2019 effort Night Shift. The only “problem” is that you’ll have to wait until the end of May to listen to the new creations by Gary and his Nuclear Winter, unless of course he releases one of the songs as a single in the coming weeks to give you a better taste of what to expect from Stormscapes, but believe me when I say you’ll instantly get addicted to his music after listening to his upcoming EP, no doubt about that, opening your eyes (and ears) to the rich but yet unexplored Zimbabwean metal scene.

Best moments of the album: The Wide Water and New York, New York.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Hearts of Stone 3:51
2. The Wide Water 3:33
3. The Northern Winds 4:00
4. New York, New York (Frank Sinatra cover) 3:20

Band members
Gary Stautmeister – vocals, all instruments

Metal Chick of the Month – Thalìa Bellazecca

I was raised by the storm and I’m living to serve my own pride!

Amidst one of the worst crisis the world has ever been through, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing nothing but fear, anger and darkness to our hearts, let’s pay a humble tribute to the beautiful Italy, where the virus has had so far the most devastating outcome, by providing you, our dear readers, with an overview of the life and career of the gorgeous, skillful and unstoppable Thalìa Bellazecca, the young and restless guitarist for Italian Power Metal band Frozen Crown, bringing some joy to our hearts and souls during such difficult times. If you, like almost all of us here, are quarantined and getting bored due to the lack of things to do, perhaps this short and sweet homage to Thalìa and all her countrymen, and of course her razor-edged riffs and solos, can help you enjoy your time of confinement a lot better.

Born on April 19, 2000 in Cantù, a city and commune in the Province of Como, located at the center of the Brianza zone in Lombardy, Italy, Thalìa Bellazecca is of Italian and Cuban origin, which explains her undeniable talent, groove and passion for music, and that’s exactly what we are going to focus on in this humble tribute to such distinguished shredder, as Thalìa seems to be a very reserved woman who lives and breathes music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Furthermore, it’s impossible not to talk about Italian Power Metal band Frozen Crown, the band where we have all been able to witness Thalìa kicking some serious ass with her incendiary guitar since 2017.

Formed back in 2017 by guitarist and vocalist Federico Mondelli in the Italian metropolis of Milan, one of the global capitals of fashion and design, and fronted by the powerful singer Giada Etro (already known for her work in Ashes You Leave), Frozen Crown are a Power Metal band infused with classic Heavy Metal and Melodic Death Metal vibes, having released since their inception the singles The Shieldmaiden and Kings, in 2017, and Neverending, in 2019, and the full-length albums The Fallen King, in 2018, and Crowned in Frost, in 2019, where the band minimized their  Symphonic Metal side and amplified their core Heavy and Power Metal considerably. As a matter of fact, although you can enjoy Thalìa’s refined technique and stunning looks in pretty much all of Frozen Crown’s official videos, all guitars in both of their albums were recorded by Federico (except for the guitar solo in Kings, which was recorded by our metal lady Thalìa), who was also responsible for all keyboards and artworks as well. You can enjoy all of their albums and songs directly from their BandCamp page (where you can obviously buy their music, as well as from their Big Cartel page) and also stream everything on Spotify.

However, as aforementioned, who said we cannot have a blast with Thalìa in all official videos released by Frozen Crown through the years? You can definitely enjoy Thalìa shredding her strings in great fashion while she bangs her head like a maniac in amazing Power Metal anthems such as  Neverending, Kings, Everwinter, I Am The Tyrant, Forever and The Shieldmaiden, and if live performances are your cup of tea how about taking a shot at some of the band’s live footage playing their ass-kicking metal music to the masses like in the songs Kings, Fail No More, The Shieldmaiden and I Am The Tyrant live at C.G. Busto Arsizio in 2018 in Varese, Italy; Kings live in Toulouse in 2020; Arctic Gales/Neverending and Winterfall live at Dagda Retorbido in 2019 in Pavia, Italy; To Infinity live at Arci Tom in 2018 in Mantua, Italy; or simply enjoy this live footage of Frozen Crown taking the German cities of Munich, Augsburg and Aschaffenburg by storm in 2019.

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Apart from her career with Frozen Crown, we can also witness Thalìa embellishing the airwaves with her riffs and solos in a few other very interesting projects and bands; for instance, during part of 2018, Thalìa was one of the live guitarists for Russian Thrash Metal female-fronted band Pokerface, whose music can be described as a fusion of the music by Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom and Kreator. Also, Thalìa is one of the guitarists for a sensational Megadeth tribute band called Nuclear Winter, formed in 2015 by vocalist and guitarist Paolo Ingianni and active in the best Lombard and Piedmontese rock clubs since 2016. You can check their official Instagram and YouTube channel for more information on the band, such as this incendiary cover version for Tornado of Souls live in 2019 at Rock’N’Roll Milano.

In addition to all that, our dauntless left-handed shredder plays the guitar for the Italian Women Tribute, a music project that was born in 2016 from an idea by Andy Rox and is the first and only rock tribute to Italian female voices existing in Italy (and you can also find more information about it on their Instagram besides their official website), and was recruited to record a solo on one of the songs for a Syrian project called Storm of Death, of Adnan Al Hamdan, his third album featuring a selection of over 120 guest musicians from over 44 countries, which you can take a better look on the project’s official Facebook page. The song where we’ll have the pleasure of listening to Thalìa slashing her strings is not available yet, but I’m sure soon enough we’ll hear more from Adnan or from Thalìa herself with a link to listen to it.

Highly influenced by a vast array of guitar heroes such as Kiko Loureiro, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, Paul Gilbert, Andy Timmons, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker and Yngwie Malmsteen, among countless others, our stunning guitarist manages her own YouTube channel, uploading several videos on a regular basis showcasing all her skills and passion for heavy music and rock in general. You can enjoy Thalìa and her inseparable ax playing cover versions for Kiko Loureiro’s Moment Of Truth, Frozen Crown’s Queen Of Blades, Joe Satriani’s Headrush and Satch Boogie, and Megadeth’s Conquer or Die, or simply watch her doing some guitar improvisation showing how talented she is. And last but not least, I believe I don’t need to say Thalìa also ventures through the realms of modeling, right? Just by looking at her gorgeous photos you probably guessed that yourself, and if you’re curious to know more about that distinguished side of our guitar hero you can check her work (and of other models) on the official Instagram of PERSONA, from Milan. Having said all that, I think we must all admit that Thalìa has it all, a ravishing look and style, an undeniable talent armed with her guitar, endless stamina and a deep and healthy addiction to Heavy Metal. If that’s not the perfect combination for a true headbanging woman, I honestly don’t know what could be.

Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official Facebook page
Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official Instagram
Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official Twitter
Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official YouTube channel
Frozen Crown’s Official Facebook page
Frozen Crown’s Official Instagram
Frozen Crown’s Official Twitter
Frozen Crown’s Official BandCamp page

Album Review – Nightfear / Apocalypse (2020)

An unstoppable Heavy Metal entity hailing from Spain returns in full force with their most powerful and mature album to date, always true and loyal to their origins.

Formed in the already distant year of 2008 in Madrid, Spain, an unstoppable Heavy Metal force that goes by the name of Nightfear is about to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their third full-length installment, entitled Apocalypse, by far their most powerful and mature album to date, featuring ten impressive compositions full of catchy melodies, razor-edged guitar riffs and the remarkable vocals by Lorenzo Mutiozabal, being highly recommended for fans of the fusion of Heavy and Power Metal blasted by iconic bands like Judas Priest, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Iron Maiden And Primal Fear.

Comprised of the aforementioned Lorenzo Mutiozabal on vocals, Ismael Retana and Ángel Fernández on the guitars, Manuel Moreno on bass and Osckar Bravo on drums, Nightfear released their debut album Inception in 2012, quickly establishing their name in the Spanish Heavy Metal scene, with their 2015 concept album Drums of War cementing their name as one of the most prominent national bands within the genre. However, it’s with Apocalypse that this unrelenting Spanish squad aims at conquering the world of heavy music, offering their fans and newcomers to their metal realm a new step in the evolution of the band while at the same time always staying true to their origins.

And Osckar already gives a taste of his refined skills in the opening track We are Back, kicking off the album on a high (and fast) note. In other words, this is definitely how any band should announce their return to action, with Lorenzo’s vocals reminding me of the golden years of Helloween’s own Andi Deris, not to mention the incendiary riffs and solos by the band’s guitar duo. Their ode to old school Heavy and Power Metal goes on in Shine, another Helloween-inspired anthem where Ismael and Ángel slash their strings majestically, resulting in an upbeat creation by the band where Manuel’s thunderous bass and Osckar’s nonstop beats generate a powerful atmosphere for our total delight, followed by Living Your Life, a mid-tempo rockin’ tune where Lorenzo is on fire with his high-pitched, passionate vocal lines, supported by spot-on backing vocals and classic, strident riffs.

It’s definitely impossible to stand still to the dynamic and high-octane A Better World, where Osckar and the band’s stringed trio are on absolute fire, therefore providing Lorenzo all he needs to shine on vocals. Furthermore, not only the song’s ending brings a beautiful guitar solo for our avid ears, but its utterly catchy chorus and sheer speed turn it into a must-listen for admirers of the genre. There’s no sign of slowing down, as in The Stranger, a very melodic and captivating tune once again drinking from the same fountain as several of their German neighbors, the band remains loyal to traditional Heavy Metal from start to finish. How can it get any better than this? Then even faster and more aggressive than its predecessors, the instrumental feast of metallic sounds and tones titled Psichokiller sounds like a Spanish version of Primal Fear, with Ismael and Ángel delivering pulverizing riffs and electrifying guitar solos nonstop; whereas the tribal beats by Osckar ignite the also incendiary Through the Stars, presenting over six minutes of flammable guitar lines and killer drums and bass punches, while Lorenzo keeps doing what he does best, which is blasting his soaring vocals majestically in this lecture in traditional Melodic and Power Metal.

Nuclear Winter is another pounding, headbanging creation by Nightfear where the entire band kicks some serious ass with their flammable vocals, piercing riffs, and thunderous bass and drums. Put differently, it’s an ode to 80’s and 90’s Heavy Metal, bringing forward beautiful, melodious lines intertwined with sheer adrenaline, and the band puts the pedal to the metal mercilessly, accelerating the pace and delivering a Power Metal extravaganza entitled The Evil in You, led by the intricate, high-octane shredding by the band’s talented guitarists while Osckar dictates the song’s frantic rhythm on drums. And lastly we have Angels of Apocalypse, one of the boldest creations of their career surpassing the eight-minute barrier, starting in a serene manner with a narration inviting the listener to join Nightfear in their new adventure and exhaling epicness, with Lorenzo giving a lesson in metal singing while the music flows smoothly and powerfully until the very end.

If you want to put your metallic hands on this precious gem of Heavy and Power Metal made in Spain, simply go to the Fighter Records’ BandCamp page or to Apple Music (and soon also available from the Xtreem Music webstore and other locations) to grab your copy of the album, and obviously don’t forget to follow Nightfear on Facebook and to listen to more of their music on Spotify, showing your true support to such distinct and talented metallers. A new year has just begun, and as several people are saying 2020 will be the year of the Apocalypse, at least we can rest assured Nightfear are among us to provide our ears and minds a vibrant and thrilling soundtrack to the end of the world.

Best moments of the album: We are Back, The Stranger, Through the Stars and Nuclear Winter.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Fighter Records

Track listing
1. We are Back 5:59
2. Shine 5:11
3. Living Your Life 5:00
4. A Better World 4:09
5. The Stranger 5:32
6. Psichokiller 4:29
7. Through the Stars 6:29
8. Nuclear Winter 6:05
9. The Evil in You 4:42
10. Angels of Apocalypse 8:27

Band members
Lorenzo Mutiozabal – vocals
Ismael Retana – guitar
Ángel Fernández – guitar
Manuel Moreno – bass
Osckar Bravo – drums