Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/04/2022)

Existence might be futile, but witnessing Cradle of Filth live in Toronto every single time they come to the city is more than essential.

OPENING ACTS: Phantom High and Frayle

I always find it truly impressive how the traffic to get in and out of Toronto during the spring and summer seasons, mainly when the weather is clear and the temperatures are above +20oC, is multiplied by a thousand or more, making it impossible to arrive wherever you have planned on time. That’s the main reason why it took me hours to get to The Opera House this Saturday for the Existence Is Futile Tour with the bands PHANTOM HIGH, FRAYLE and the almighty CRADLE OF FILTH (not to mention American Thrash Metal act Misfire, who are missing part of the tour due to Covid-19 related issues), and because of that I sadly missed most of the awesome concert by Toronto’s own Glamcore/Death Pop/Alternative Metal outfit PHANTOM HIGH. Anyway, the few minutes of their performance I was able to witness were excellent, with their frontwoman Peril Erinyes showcasing all her talent, charisma and passion for what she does. I hope I can see them again in a not-so-distant future as their music and onstage performance are outstanding, and next time I promise I’ll beat traffic (even if that’s humanly impossible).

Band members
Peril Erinyes – vocals
Seven Six – guitars
Greg Shier – guitars
Faraz Jabbari – bass
Joey Prolx – drums

After a (very) quick break it was time for Cleveland, Ohio-based Doom Metal/Occult Rock band FRAYLE to kick some ass onstage with their massive, low-tuned, sluggish sounds, spearheaded by the angelic vocals by their stunning frontwoman Gwyn Strang, who by the way grew up on the east coast of Canada in the province of New Brunswick (which is why she said “I’m home” to the crowd several times during their performance). Playing a mix of songs from their awesome 2020 album 1692 plus a brand new song entitled Treacle & Revenge, from their upcoming album Skin & Sorrow (to be released on July 7), Gwyn and the boys put on a mesmerizing show, with Sean Bilovecky extracting sheer electricity from his guitar while bassist Eric Mzik and drummer Pat Ginley added endless heaviness and groove to the music. Nobody was capable of taking their eyes off Gwyn during their entire set, as not only she was at the same time the personification of good and evil, but her minimalist, delicate vocals and moves were a thing of beauty. There weren’t any mosh pits for obvious reasons, but everyone at The Opera House loved what Frayle had to show us, and Toronto is waiting for Gwyn to “return home” whenever she wants with her whimsical music.

Band members
Gwyn Strang – vocals
Sean Bilovecky – lead guitar
Eric Mzik – bass
Pat Ginley – drums

CRADLE OF FILTH

The last time I saw the unparalleled CRADLE OF FILTH was at the same venue back in 2019, before all this Covid-19 madness hit the world and still with Lindsay Schoolcraft on keyboards, and as you can see from their 2019 setlist only two songs were the same this Saturday, those being Nymphetamine (Fix) and Her Ghost in the Fog, with everything else being either based on their 2021 ass-kicking opus Existence Is Futile, such as Existential Terror, How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose? and Necromantic Fantasies, or some welcome surprises the likes of Nocturnal Supremacy, I Am the Thorn, A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil’s Whore) and Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds). Was it better, the same or worse than their 2019 performance? Well, I don’t like to compare concerts, as I strongly believe each performance has its own taste, its own details and its own energy, but what I can say is that Dani and his horde were as electrifying as expected, inspiring the fans at the venue to slam into the nonstop circle pits (even if you’re on a power mobility scooter) while screaming together with the band in the name of evil.

Most fans of course had an absolute blast with classics such as the aforementioned Nymphetamine (Fix) and the closing song Her Ghost in the Fog, but I might say their new songs Crawling King Chaos and Us, Dark, Invincible sounded simply superb live, proving once again how alive the band is and that we can expect at least a few more decades of pure filth from those devilish metallers. Dani, Ashok, Daniel Firth and Marthus were on fire as usual, but I must mention how powerful the performances by guest guitarist Donny Burbage (of Melodic Death/Folk Metal act Æther Realm) and the gorgeous keyboardist Zoë Marie Federoff (of Symphonic Metal act Catalyst Crime) were as well, translating into an even more incendiary concert by one of the trailblazers of Symphonic Extreme Metal. As a Cradle of Filth fanboy I think they should return to Toronto next week already, but of course I think all fans who attended another memorable concert by Dani and his crew will be more than happy to wait another year or so for the band to come to our beloved city again. The traffic back home was just as bad as when I was going to the concert, but who cares? It’s CRADLE OF FUCKIN’ FILTH, a metal institution that deserves all our admiration, and if next time they come to Toronto I have to walk 40km to get there, so be it.

Setlist
The Fate of the World on Our Shoulders
Existential Terror
Nocturnal Supremacy
Lilith Immaculate
I Am the Thorn
Crawling King Chaos
Nymphetamine (Fix)
A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil’s Whore)
How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose?
Scorched Earth Erotica
Us, Dark, Invincible
Portrait of the Dead Countess
Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds)
Necromantic Fantasies
Her Ghost in the Fog

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Donny Burbage – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Zoë Marie Federoff – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

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Album Review – Kabbalah / The Omen (2021)

Succumb to the dark side to the sound of the Occult Rock with a subtle Spanish folk and western vibe by this talented coven, looming in the dark, esoteric realms of witchcraft.

Hailing from Pamplona, Spain, Occult Rock all-female trio Kabbalah was formed on the ashes of local outfit Las Culebras, looming in the dark, esoteric realms of witchcraft and closed door arts while starting a prolific cycle of music by self-releasing three EP’s, those being Kabbalah, Primitive Stone and Revelations, between 2013 and 2016, progressing to their 2017 debut album Spectral Ascent. Now in 2021 it’s time for Alba DDU (vocals, guitar), Marga Malaria (vocals, bass) and Carmen Espejo (vocals, drums) to come back to life with their sophomore full-length opus entitled The Omen, where their 70’s rock influences are sprinkled with a subtle Spanish folk and western vibe while keeping the heaviness intact. In The Omen, Kabbalah cultivate their distinctive cross of influences moving between heavy riffs, harmonized vocals and killer songwriting, with its cover art, referencing the Kutná Hora ossuary located in the Czech Republic, welcoming listeners to the ill-fated cosmos portrayed in the album.

Those Spanish rockers begin their feast of Doom Metal and Heavy Rock with Stigmatized, heavily inspired by the sound of the Dio-era Black Sabbath, with Marga shaking the foundations of the earth with her sick bass while the song’s mesmerizing vocals are beautifully spiced up by the damned beats by Carmen. And Alba brings forward the power of the riff in Ceibas, being in absolute sync with Marga’s dirty bass jabs in a lecture in Occult Rock with tons of elements from 70’s Psychedelic Rock and 80’s Hard Rock; followed by Night Comes Near, offering us all more of their delicate but piercing sounds with Carmen kicking some serious as with her rhythmic beats, dictating the rhythm and offering Alba and Marga all they need to shine with their axes. Then ritualistic words are stunningly declaimed by the trio (“Seven witches, around the fire, singing and preaching, on a night of thunder. / In the ceremony pyre, where lies the undying, the soul rises, and leaves the body.”) in The Ritual, while the music remains obscure, dense and captivating from start to finish, with the awesome Black Sabbath-like beats by Carmen being the icing on the cake.

Dark clouds are above us all in the Stygian Occult Rock extravaganza titled Lamentations, led by the minimalist but sharp riffage by Alba while Carmen fires some tribalistic beats nonstop, not to mention the fantastic job done by all three girls with their hypnotizing, witch-like vocalizations. Sounding like a song extracted form a Quentin Tarantino movie, Labyrinth is spiced up by the sensational low-tuned bass jabs by Marga, being therefore once again tailored for all admirers of the obscure and eerie sounds blasted by bands like Candlemass, Witchfinder and Pentagram; whereas despite its 70’s-inspired lyrics (“Here I am, I’ve landed in a desert, a place to be, nothing as beautiful as this is. / Orange shades, that looked so familiar, from the first time, I saw the sand.”), Duna is not as powerful as the rest of the album, sounding too polished and light at times. And last but not least, back to a more menacing and somber sonority, the trio offers our avid ears the thunderous Liturgy, where Alba is on fire with her raw riffs accompanied by the sluggish drums by Carmen, all boosted as usual by their enthralling vocal lines.

It’s time to succumb to the dark and delicious rock music crafted by those Spanish witches in The Omen, and in order to do so simply go to Spotify to stream the album in full, and of course if Occult Rock is your cup of tea you can purchase such detailed and enfolding album from several locations including the band’s own BandCamp page, Ripple Music’s BandCamp page, webstore or Big Cartel, the Rebel Waves Records’ BandCamp page, the Stoner Witch Records’ webstore or Amazon. Not only that, don’t forget to follow Kabbalah on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, for news, tour dates and more of their occult creations, allowing this extremely talented coven hailing from Spain to drag you into their doomed lair for all eternity.

Best moments of the album: Ceibas, The Ritual and Labyrinth.

Worst moments of the album: Duna.

Released in 2021 Ripple Music/Rebel Waves Records/Stoner Witch Records

Track listing
1. Stigmatized 3:56
2. Ceibas 3:16
3. Night Comes Near 3:51
4. The Ritual 3:19
5. Lamentations 3:24
6. Labyrinth 3:47
7. Duna 3:19
8. Liturgy 4:14

Band members
Alba DDU – vocals, guitar
Marga Malaria – vocals, bass
Carmen Espejo – vocals, drums

Album Review – Arcana 13 / Black Death EP (2020)

A lethal mixture between the visual terror of Italian horror with the heavy and magical atmospheres of 70’s Occult Rock in the form of a short but extremely sharp and obscure EP.

“Emblems seen through the fog, it’s the end of it all. Look upon the blood-red moon and you’ll be facing the Black Death.”

Hailing from Italy, the birthplace of cult horror movie masters like Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento and Mario Bava, among many others, more specifically from Ravenna, a city in in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy, Doom/Heavy Metal entity Arcana 13 (which should be read as Arcana Tredici, as “tredici” is 13 in Italian) is unleashing upon humanity more of their “Horror Doom”, a lethal mixture between the visual terror of Italian horror with the heavy and magical atmospheres of 70’s Occult Rock, with their brand new EP entitled Black Death, the follow-up to their 2016 full-length opus Danza Macabra.

Comprised of Simone Bertozzi and Andrea Burdisso on vocals and guitars, Filippo Petrini on bass and Luigi Taroni on drums, Arcana 13’s latest gravestone is the collaboration with director Luca Canale Brucculeri on his new horror TV series Black Death, based on the eponymous comic book. He got enthralled by Arcana 13’s music and decided to commission the main theme’s songwriting for the series, resulting in this short but extremely effective display of horror and doom by Arcana 13, all complemented by a grim artwork designed by Spanish artist Pol Abran (Branca Studio). Having said that, are you ready to face darkness and horror together with this talented four-piece act of doom?

Like in a sinister horror movie the song Black Death starts in a truly phantasmagorical way, evolving into a feast of damned beats blasted by Luigi and cryptic guitar lines by both Simone and Andrea. Not only that, it has a beautiful Black Sabbath-inspired vibe that will certainly captivate all your senses, inviting you to feel the thunderous bass by Filippo smashing your skull mercilessly, while the last part of the song is faster, more dynamic and more flammable, bringing to our avid ears a wild guitar solo as the icing on the cake. Then Arcana 13 offer us all something I’d never thought I would see one day, a somber and atmospheric Doom Metal version of an Iron Maiden song, more specifically the old school Wrathchild (check out this amazing version from Iron Maiden’s latest live album The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter, released in 2018), where Filippo kicks ass on bass while the vocal lines sound and feel grim and introspective from start to finish, also showcasing a fantastic job done by Simone and Andrea with their damned riffage.

If Black Death is only the “teaser trailer” to what Arcana 13 are preparing for us in the near future in the form of a new horror movie-inspired full-length opus, then we can all rest assured great things are about to happen in the ominous world of such skillful and hardworking Italian group. Hence, keep an eye on their official Facebook page for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the quartet, and grab your copy of Black Death from their official BandCamp page, from the Aural Music webstore, from FYE.com and soon from several other locations, showing your utmost support to a band that certainly knows how to transform a spine-chilling, psychological horror story into top-of-the-line heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Both songs are darkly amazing.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Aural Music

Track listing
1. Black Death 6:48
2. Wrathchild (Iron Maiden cover) 3:52

Band members
Simone Bertozzi – vocals, guitar
Andrea Burdisso – vocals, guitar
Filippo Petrini – bass
Luigi Taroni – drums

Album Review – Spiral Skies / Blues For A Dying Planet (2018)

Get ready to be put in a trance and to be taken on a unique musical journey by a psychedelic Swedish band and their “rock from another planet”.

With influences ranging over decades, Swedish Occult Rock band Spiral Skies has created a sound that can most easily be described as “rock from another planet”, a unique blend of folk, doom and 70’s-inspired rock music the likes of Jefferson Airplane, Curved Air and The Devil’s Blood, all embraced by a unique visual performance at their intense and enchanting live shows. After their debut EP A Queendom to Come, released in 2015, it’s time for Spiral Skies to further spread their sorcery with their brand new album beautifully titled Blues For A Dying Planet, an ode to the past that’s at the same time always looking into the future.

Formed in 2014 in the Swedish capital Stockholm, Spiral Skies are the talented Frida on vocals, Jonas and Dan on the guitars, Eric on bass and Daniel on drums, each one with a different musical background and distinct influences, but all sharing the same passion for 70´s genuine rock and metal music. In Blues For A Dying Planet, which features a classy cover illustration by Vadim Karasyov, cover and booklet design by Atmanoid, and cover photo by Björn Pettersson, the band brings forth an amalgamation of styles with a strong Psychedelic Doom Metal and Rock core essence, putting you in a trance and taking you to the golden years of rock, always spearheaded by the mesmerizing vocals by Frida.

An organ and the sound of the wind in the intro Black Hole Waltz ignite the feast of Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal named Awakening, with Jonas and Dan dictating the rhythm with their Iron Madein-ish riffs while Frida gives a lesson in passion and energy with her flamboyant vocals. Put differently, this rockin’ hymn has an old school Heavy Metal vibe that, when blended with its core Doom Metal essence, makes things even more captivating. Following such powerful start we have Dark Side of the Cross, a very good song to dance under the stars that leans towards the classic Doom Metal by Black Sabbath with a more whimsical Rock N’ Roll aura, also showcasing a great job done by Daniel with his intricate beats; and The Wizard’s Ball, where Frida keeps delivering sheer awesomeness through her charming and potent vocals, with the rest of the band keeping the music at a very pleasant and gripping pace, flowing smoothly until its climatic ending. Then it’s time to dance with Frida and the boys in Danse Macabre, a classic Hard Rock song with tons of psychedelic elements from Doom Metal added to its beautiful sonority, with Jonas and Dan blasting straightforward, old school guitar riffs that effectively help embellish the ambience.

Labyrinth of the Mind is perhaps the most Black Sabbath of all tracks, with a great balance between the heaviness of the guitar riffs and the gentle voice by Frida, resulting in a hypnotizing musicality perfect for closing your eyes and letting the band take you on a one-of-a-kind musical journey. In Shattered Hopes we’re treated to a hybrid between pure Psychedelic Rock and more contemporary Doom Metal and Hard Rock, uniting past and present through the riffs by the band’s guitar duo and the always fiery vocals by Frida; whereas the poetically-titled tune Left Is Right and Right Is Left Behind has its name translated into classic Rock N’ Roll with tons of psychedelia added to its mesmerizing waves. Furthermore, Eric with his solid bass lines and Daniel with his fierce beats create the perfect background for Frida to shine once again on vocals. And lastly, their feast of classy and gripping sounds is majestically concluded with the lesson in Psychedelic Rock and Metal named The Prisoner, a full-bodied voyage led by the heavy and very melodic guitars by both Jonas and Dan.

The enchanting voice by Frida and her Spiral Skies can be better appreciated through the band’s Facebook page and Spotify, and if you want to buy a copy of Blues For A Dying Planet and consequently have all that’s needed to prance around the fire pit under a moonlit sky, you can find the album on sale at the AOP Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, at the Nuclear Blast webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. Although the 70’s might be long gone and everything is now just a distant memory, the music by bands like Spiral Skies is what keeps the spirit and passion of that golden decade burning bright inside our souls.

Best moments of the album: Awakening, Danse Macabre and The Prisoner.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 AOP Records

Track listing
1. Black Hole Waltz 1:25
2. Awakening 3:31
3. Dark Side of the Cross 4:04
4. The Wizard’s Ball 5:36
5. Danse Macabre 4:18
6. Labyrinth of the Mind 5:42
7. Shattered Hopes 3:18
8. Left Is Right and Right Is Left Behind 4:38
9. The Prisoner 6:02

Band members
Frida – vocals
Jonas – guitars
Dan – guitars
Eric – bass
Daniel – drums