Album Review – Exodus / Persona Non Grata (2021)

Don’t be a “persona non grata” in the world of heavy music and get into the circle pit to the sound of the newborn beast by one of the driving forces of Thrash Metal worldwide.

Persona Non Grata, an unacceptable or unwelcome person, is also the name of the brand new Thrash Metal beast by Bay Area titans Exodus, their first studio album since Blood In, Blood Out in 2014 and their second to feature vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza since he returned to the band that same year. Recorded at drummer Tom Hunting’s three home studios in Lake Almanor, California, mixed by Andy Sneap at Backstage Studios, engineered by Steve Lagudi, displaying an ass-kicking, venomous artwork by Pär Olofsson, and featuring guests Rick Hunolt, who had been an Exodus member on and off since replacing original guitarist Kirk Hammett in 1983, and Zetro’s own sons Nick Souza and Cody Souza on backing vocals, both from Zetro’s band Hatriot, Persona Non Grata is another lesson in violence by the aforementioned Zetro and Tom together with guitarists Gary Holt and Lee Altus and bassist Jack Gibson, and despite the delay in the release of the album due to Gary’s commitments with Slayer until 2019 and Tom’s diagnosis with squamous cell carcinoma of the stomach (and I’m sure Tom will beat the shit out of it), the wait was totally worth it as their new album is undoubtedly one of the best releases in the world of metal in 2021.

Gary and Lee waste no time and begin their axe attack in great fashion in the pulverizing title-track Persona Non Grata, a lecture in savagery by Exodus uniting their early days sound with their heavier and more demonic present, also showcasing a beyond bestial Tom on drums;  and they keep hammering our heads mercilessly in the circle pit-generator R.E.M.F., presenting another awesome guitar job by Gary and Lee supported by the metallic bass by Jack, while Zetro vociferates rabidly just the way we like it. Then an incendiary intro evolves into another Thrash Metal extravaganza titled Slipping into Madness, which will inspire you to slam into the pit in the name of heavy music. It’s very old school without sounding outdated, with Zetro once again being on fire with his raspy roars, whereas in Elitist the band sounds less intense but still violent and acid as usual, with Jack and Tom extracting earthshaking sounds from their respective bass and drums while the band’s guitar duo delivers their trademark sharp solos. Sinister sounds permeate the air in Prescribing Horror, a neck-breaking, vile creation by Exodus where Tom smashes his drums flawlessly, followed by The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves), a pure, unfiltered Bay Area Thrash hymn which will sound amazing when played live, with Zetro, Gary and Lee being in total sync from start to finish.

Exodus Persona Non Grata Box Set

The Years of Death and Dying is a lot more melodic than its predecessors, offering their trademark unfriendly lyrics (“I’m a force of nature pure and sure / I’ve killed through all of time / When a GALE force wind blows through you / You’ll know that you are mine / I am legend, I’m your end / You’ll wither when I’m near / I’m the years of death and dying / the sum of all your fears”), while in Clickbait the unstoppable Zetro gnarls the song’s austere words manically (“We take the clickbait / Follow as they lead / With every word they captivate / We blindly follow they trail like human sheep / Never awake always asleep”) accompanied by the brutality blasted by Tom on drums. After the short and sweet Southern Rock-inspired instrumental interlude Cosa del Pantano, the band comes crushing us all in Lunatic-Liar-Lord, featuring a sick guitar solo by Rick Hunolt while the band brings to our ears eight minutes of aggression, speed and adrenaline, all spearheaded by the undisputed riffage by the one and only Gary Holt. There’s no sign of slowing down and the quintet keeps delivering sheer electricity and rage in The Fires of Division, another Thrash Metal anthem perfect for hitting the “dance” floor while Zetro continues to fire his unique growls; and closing such dense and demolishing album of vicious thrash we have Antiseed, starting in a dark manner before exploding into a massive, evil creature led by the aggressive vocals by Zetro and the heavy-as-hell riffage by Gary and Lee.

After listening to over one hour of the ass-kicking, first-class, undisputed Thrash Metal blasted by Exodus in Persona Non Grata, we can rest assured thrash is very much alive, and will forever be, positioning not only the album as one of the best metal releases of the year, but also Exodus as one of the true driving forces of today’s Thrash Metal alongside Testament. Hence, don’t forget to follow Zetro, Gary & Co. on Facebook and on Instagram, and to buy or stream Persona Non Grata by clicking HERE, and if I were you I would definitely go for the beyond special boxset edition of the album (which you can purchase HERE or HERE), limited to 2,000 worldwide and including the album on CD and orange/red swirl with black splatter vinyl, a “Jam Camp!” Blu-ray, a 20-page booklet, a slip mat, a wall flag and a patch, all embraced by a custom packaging with 3D-vacuformed album art and clamshell box with die-cut window and gold foil stamping. And if after all that you still decide not to grab your copy of such insane album, I’m sorry but from now on you’re “persona non grata” at The Headbanging Moose.

Best moments of the album: Persona Non Grata, R.E.M.F., The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves) and Lunatic-Liar-Lord.

Worst moments of the album: The Years of Death and Dying.

Released in 2021 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Persona Non Grata 7:30
2. R.E.M.F. 4:22
3. Slipping into Madness 5:33
4. Elitist 3:58
5. Prescribing Horror 5:09
6. The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves) 3:01
7. The Years of Death and Dying 5:22
8. Clickbait 4:31
9. Cosa del Pantano 1:13
10. Lunatic-Liar-Lord 7:59
11. The Fires of Division 5:23
12. Antiseed 6:17

Band members
Steve “Zetro” Souza – vocals
Gary Holt – lead and rhythm guitars
Lee Altus – lead and rhythm guitars
Jack Gibson – bass
Tom Hunting – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Rick Hunolt – lead guitars on “Lunatic-Liar-Lord”, backing vocals
Cody Souza – backing vocals
Nick Souza – backing vocals

Album Review – Cutterred Flesh / Sharing is Caring (2021)

Brace yourselves for the new album by this ruthless Czech Death Metal horde, offering that warm, comforting, bludgeoning heaviness that will put you to sleep, perhaps permanently.

Forged  in 2001 in the burning fires of Karlovy Vary, a town in the west Bohemia region of the Czech Republic (or Czechia, if you prefer), a Brutal Death Metal beast that goes by the name of Cutterred Flesh is ready to spread violence, gore and insanity all over the world thanks to their newborn spawn, entitled Sharing Is Caring, the follow-up to their 2018 album Code: Violence. Recorded at Kohlekeller Studio under the supervision of Kristian Kohle Kohlmannslehner, and displaying a demonic artwork by Pär Olofsson (Aborted, Immolation), the album is loaded with all the Death Metal riffs you need, all the diversity to not only set the songs apart but to also keep things interesting, and that warm, comforting, bludgeoning heaviness that will put you to sleep, perhaps permanently, showcasing all the talent and aggressiveness of Jiri Krs on vocals, Vitali Novak and David Krombholz on the guitars, Zdenek Hnizdil on bass and Frantisek Drazdansky on drums, being therefore highly recommended for fans of Suffocation, Devourment, Aborted, Cattle Decapitation and Benighted, among several others.

Frantisek begins his sonic attack behind his drums in Vibrio Vulnificus, an obscure and primeval Death Metal aria by Cutterred Flesh where Jiri takes the lead with his inhumane growling, going straight to your jugular while showcasing a lot of intricacy at the same time; and Black Aurora brings forward another round of sheer violence and darkness by the quintet, with both Vitali and David breathing fire through their guitars, not to mention the stone crushing sound blasted by Frantisek for our total delight. Then in Where Only Old Flesh Stinks a more melancholic vibe is carefully added to their core devastation, setting the stage for Jiri to bark like a creature of the underworld while Zdenek delivers some vicious and complex lines from his bass, followed by Good Boy – Romantic Relationship with Necrotic Tissue, featuring guest vocals by American singer and guitarist Von Young of Lividity, a vicious Death Metal onrush that sounds as infernal and demolishing as it can be.

Cutterred Flesh Sharing Is Caring CD Box Set

The Mystery of the Black Hen offers our putrid ears three minutes of pure, unfiltered Death Metal where the band’s guitar duo not only cuts our skin deep with their sharp riffage, but they also fire beautiful solos, whereas in Amused by the Tenacity of a Dying Whore the band adds elements from Deathslam and even Deathcore to their massive sonority, resulting in one of the most disturbing and heaviest of all songs, and with Frantisek sounding like he’s possessed on drums. Fans of Suffocation and Aborted will have a blast with Knife Is Not the Enemy, a brutal and infernal European death feast where Jiri showcases his deepest guttural roars from start to finish, and there’s no time to breathe thanks to the imposing My Favourite Bodybag, another stunning depiction of the band’s brutality and talent with Zdenek and Frantisek generating a thunderous wall of Death Metal with their demonic kitchen. And how about a body slammin’ extravaganza as a bonus track? That’s what you’ll get in Progressive Body Adjustment, with Jiri’s screams being supported by the inhumane beats by Frantisek until the very last second.

If you’re a fan of the brutality of classic Death Metal with a melodic and intricate twist, I’m sure you’ll have a blast with Sharing is Caring, available for purchase from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore as an ass-kicking wooden LP box set with engraving containing a gatefold LP with metallic effect and UV lamination, an autographed card, an A3 size poster, a shaped logo patch, a bottle opener badge and a metallic sticker (and you can get it HERE or HERE), from Apple Music or from Amazon. Also, don’t forget to give the guys from Cutterred Flesh a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, sharing your love for Brutal Death Metal with the band and other metalheads from all over the world because, as the name of the album already says, sharing is caring.

Best moments of the album: Black Aurora, Where Only Old Flesh Stinks and Amused by the Tenacity of a Dying Whore.

Worst moments of the album: The Mystery of the Black Hen.

Released in 2021 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Vibrio Vulnificus 4:04
2. Black Aurora 4:26
3. Where Only Old Flesh Stinks 4:32
4. Good Boy – Romantic Relationship with Necrotic Tissue 3:16
5. The Mystery of the Black Hen 3:25
6. Amused by the Tenacity of a Dying Whore 3:10
7. Knife Is Not the Enemy 4:15
8. My Favourite Bodybag 4:12

Bonus track
9. Progressive Body Adjustment 3:37

Band members
Jiri Krs – vocals
Vitali Novak – guitar
David Krombholz – guitar
Zdenek Hnizdil – bass
Frantisek Drazdansky – drums

Guest musician
Von Young – vocals on “Good Boy – Romantic Relationship with Necrotic Tissue”

Album Review – Against The Plagues / Purified Through Devastation (2015)

The devastating new album by this Blackened Death Metal band from Chicago is undoubtedly the perfect soundtrack for the total extermination of our species.

Rating4

ALBUM_COVER_2015We all know that the human race has proven countless times to be a failed experiment of Mother Nature and that, consequently, there’s only one last resort to restore balance to the world, which is the total extermination of our species. Thus, as there’s no other way out, why not conducting that mandatory purge to the sound of the demolishing music found in Purified Through Devastation,  the brand new release by American Blackened Death Metal act Against The Plagues?

Based in Chicago, Illinois, this brutally heavy and technical band has been pulverizing the world with their Blackened Death Metal since their inception in 2005, mixing speed and slower tempos in a precise and explicit way for the delight of fans of extreme music. Featuring another first-rate artwork by renowned Swedish artist Pär Olofsson (you might remember him from some of our previous reviews such as the latest albums by Exodus and Irreversible Mechanism), six of the nine tracks in Purified Through Devastation were already part of either their 2012 EP The Quaternion or their 2015 EP Extermination Event, which altogether offer the listener a concept album that will leave you disoriented after its 47 minutes of annihilation are over.

Their pulverization begins in less than five seconds in Man’s Modern World, where lead singer Shaun Albro delivers potent screams and growls (hence leading the band’s dense musicality) while drummer Varyen Chylinski shows no mercy for mankind, sounding like a machine gun behind his drums. The brutal and atmospheric All Flesh Had Corrupted, showcasing a more modern version of Death Metal due to its background sounds, continues the band’s carnage and also presents some amazing guitar lines by Jon Corston and Aaron Covarrubias, especially their solos. And what can be said about Praetorian Icon, slightly faster, heavier and more demonic than the previous tracks, reinforcing their impressive technique to sound so destructive and tuneful at the same time?

photoThe next song, Theokratia, is a magnificent neck-breaking chant perfect for admirers of Melodic Death Metal but with sharper instruments, in special the bestial drumming by Varyen and the even deeper growls by Shaun. And their heavy artillery doesn’t give any sign of slowing down as seen in TerrorForm, where hints of Symphonic Black Metal blend perfectly with their traditional shredding, beats and screams, making it a highly-recommended tune for getting smashed in the circle pit. The same is valid for the awesome chant Extermination Event, where its initial siren alerts a scathing bloodshed is about to begin in the form of demented Death Metal.

Let’s say the album needed a short break from all extermination going on with the instrumental track Falling Further, but it’s just for less than two minutes before the psychotic tune Enblightened comes crushing your skull with its Black Metal elements, enhancing the already amazing harsh vocals by Shaun. And lastly, we have the threatening Enemy Herein to close the album, with all instruments getting darker than usual and Jon and Aaron firing more of their striking guitar solos.

Against The Plagues can be found on Facebook and ReverbNation, and there are so many awesome versions of Purified Through Devastation available for sale I don’t know where to start. You can grab your copy of the album at their BandCamp page, a limited edition CD signed by all members at their Big Cartel page, and both the regular version of the album or a special combo CD + T-shirt at the Non Serviam Records webstore. If the brutal extermination of mankind deserves a proper soundtrack, Against The Plagues are indubitably the ones to help us with that gruesome task.

Best moments of the album: Man’s Modern World, Theokratia and Extermination Event.

Worst moments of the album: Enemy Herein.

Released in 2015 Non Serviam Records

Track listing
1. Man’s Modern World 7:06
2. All Flesh Had Corrupted 4:58
3. Praetorian Icon 5:25
4. Theokratia 7:47
5. TerrorForm 5:12
6. Extermination Event 3:56
7. Falling Further 1:39
8. Enblightened 4:46
9. Enemy Herein 6:49

Band members
Shaun Albro – vocals
Jon Corston – guitar
Aaron Covarrubias – guitar
Milo Kovacevic – bass
Varyen Chylinski – drums

Album Review – Irreversible Mechanism / Infinite Fields (2015)

A mind-blowing experience in Progressive Death Metal that will please all fans of complex and aggressive heavy music.

Rating4

Infinite-Fields-1000When Dream Theater meet Mastodon, who meet Dimmu Borgir, who then meet Meshuggah, you can have a pretty good idea of the level of complexity, progressiveness and obscurity you will find in Infinite Fields, the debut full-length album by Belarusian Progressive Death Metal band Irreversible Mechanism. And you better get properly ready before listening to this album, as it will blow your mind beyond dispute.

Hailing from the city of Minsk, Belarus, musicians Yaroslav Korotkin and Vladislav Nekrash deliver an amazingly intricate blend of extreme and progressive music with the support of Lyle Cooper on drums, who by the way was the drummer on the last two albums by American Technical Death Metal The Faceless. In addition, the album art by renowned Swedish artist Par Olofsson, who has already provided his incredible art to innumerous bands such as Exodus, Aborted, Beyond Creation, Immolation and Onslaught, contributes to making the whole album even more captivating.

The opening track, Irreversible Mechanism, is an ominous instrumental intro that perfectly connects with the album art and transports the listener to this new world or dimension proposed by the band, right before you get absorbed with the complexity found in Into The Void, where you will enjoy interesting heavy riffs amidst intricate keyboard notes and lots of music breaks, with the Black Metal blast beats by Lyle adding a decent amount of fury to the music. Despite being only three musicians, this song shows they’re just everywhere. Outburst continues with the sonic madness, with the harsh growls by Yaroslav getting even more violent and blending deeper with the music while its calm and eerie break focusing on keyboard passages will definitely ease your heart a bit. Besides, there are so many good solos throughout the song I don’t know which one to talk about.

IrreversibleMechanism Photo1The way Irreversible Mechanism put together complex riffs, drums and bass lines in the next track, The Agony, is truly outstanding, followed by the title-track, Infinite Fields, which basically kicks off where the previous song ended, with an awesome rhythmic variation done by its guitar lines and with its sinister keyboards once again gaining the spotlight even with all the violence surrounding them. The excellent intro in Incipience sets the tone to the rest of this blasting song, which showcases a great combination of progressiveness and savagery, with highlights to Vladislav kicking ass with his guitar riffs while Yaroslav maintains his vocals as devilish as possible.

The last part of the album keeps delivering metallic and melodic music, beginning with Fragile, a very symphonic tune that will please fans of contemporary extreme music which offers to the listener keyboards and piano passages the likes of Dimmu Borgir, with its drums getting heavier and faster at times, while The Betrayer Of Time can be considered the band’s Death Metal-ish attack mixed with the progressive music by bands like Dream Theater. Finally, closing the album in a very climatic and desolated way we have more of that Symphonic Black Metal aura in the slower but more atmospheric tune Cold Winds, where its more demonic vocals work pretty well together with the precise and bestial beats by Lyle.

It’s important to mention that none of the songs in Infinite Fields, available as a CD in jewel case with a 12-page booklet through Blood Music’s official webstore and also at their BandCamp page, are too long, with only one of them surpassing the 6-minute barrier, but their level of complexity is beyond average for sure and they’re a million light-years away from being tedious. You can get a taste of Infinite Fields HERE or take a listen at the entire album HERE, and as aforementioned, be ready for a mind-blowing experience in extreme music thanks to this promising Belarusian metal act.

Best moments of the album: Outburst, Infinite Fields and Incipience.

Worst moments of the album: The Betrayer Of Time.

Released in 2015 Blood Music

Track listing
1. Irreversible Mechanism 2:54
2. Into The Void 6:13
3. Outburst 5:46
4. The Agony 3:40
5. Infinite Fields 5:13
6. Incipience 3:42
7. Fragile 3:43
8. The Betrayer Of Time 4:05
9. Cold Winds 3:53

Band members
Yaroslav Korotkin – vocals, bass, lyrics
Vladislav Nekrash – guitars, programming
Lyle Cooper – drums