A filthy trio hailing from Pennsylvania will attack our senses with their debut full-length album, churning out a new slab of death-grinding disorientation.
Sonic violence abounds, as Pennsylvania, United States-based Death Metal/Grindcore rabble The Human Race Is Filth churns out a new slab of death-grinding disorientation entitled Cognitive Dissonance, their first full-length album and the follow-up to their 2022 EP Echo Chambers. Recorded at The Kaleidoscope, mixed and engineered by Ben Roth, mastered by Joel Grind, displaying a demented artwork by All4Band Design, and featuring a noise track recorded on every song throughout the entire recording, sometimes prominent in mix, sometimes faint, Cognitive Dissonance is a inhumane album carefully brought into being by Kasey Harrison (Police State, Bittered) on vocals and bass, Paul Folk (Exterminance, Police State, Bittered) on the guitars and noises, and Brett Rebman (Punctual, Phlegm, Gangrenous Flesh Consumption) on drums, dealing with topics like mental health, socioeconomic injustice, technology, personal struggle and privilege throughout the album’s intense 25 minutes of music.
Kasey had his toddler son speak the name of the band in the beginning of the intro Life Of Tyrants, followed by tribalistic, primeval beats and vociferations, setting the stage for the trio to kick some ass in Apes With Christ, with Brett showing no mercy for his drums and obviously for our necks while Kasey barks like a rabid beast throughout the entire song in an awesome fusion of Death Metal and Grindcore. Then we have Electronic Caterpillars, just as infernal and neckbreaking as its predecessor, showcasing dirty riffs by Paul that together with the rumbling bass by Kasey will penetrate deep inside your psyche; and the menacing bass by Kasey ignites the grim and groovy Bastardized before exploding into a demolishing Death and Sludge Metal onrush spearheaded by Kasey’s bestial roars, with the song’s heaviness going through the freakin’ roof. There’s no sign of the band slowing things down or delivering anything light; quite the contrary, their vicious, sludgy attack goes on in Cloaked In Shame, with Paul’s riffs and noises bringing an extra dosage of filth to their sound.
The Human Race Is Filth need less than two minutes to pulverize our senses in Hopes Wavered, a lesson in brutality, heaviness and darkness by the trio where Paul has a fantastic performance armed with his axe, and they keep hammering their sonic weapons in Propagating Technology, with Brett alternating between groovier moments and sheer violence. The album’s second to last song, beautifully titled Vomiting Strings Of Human Decay, is the perfect depiction of the band’s music, blending the savagery of Death Metal and Grindcore with sluggish, somber elements, being therefore ideal for slamming into the pit while drinking a cold beer, whereas Tribal Injections Of Division is solid and heavy from start to finish, albeit the band has a much stronger performance when investing into shorter songs. Nothing that hurts the overall quality of the album, of course, as it’s still very enjoyable.
“We wrote this album from August to November 2021 and were really going for straight out Death Grind with a touch of d-beat and Hardcore mixed in. We wanted dirtier guitar and bass tones, more aggressive drums, and more extreme vocals compared to the first three releases and we believe we accomplished those things on this release,” commented the band about their newborn beast, and if you want to know more about them, their tour dates and plans for the future, you can check what they’re up to on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, stream all of their creations on Spotify, and grab your copy of Cognitive Dissonance from their own BandCamp page or by clicking HERE. Cognitive Dissonance is heavy, noisy, evil, disturbing, and everything else we love in extreme music, proving that as long as the human race continues to be filth like the name of the band states, those three metallers will keep piercing our ears with their venomous music.
Best moments of the album:Apes With Christ, Bastardized and Vomiting Strings Of Human Decay.
Worst moments of the album:Tribal Injections Of Division.
Released in 2023 Independent
Track listing 1. Life Of Tyrants 1:22
2. Apes With Christ 3:23
3. Electronic Caterpillars 3:54
4. Bastardized 4:24
5. Cloaked In Shame 2:31
6. Hopes Wavered 1:42
7. Propagating Technology 2:04
8. Vomiting Strings Of Human Decay 1:59
9. Tribal Injections Of Division 4:04
Band members Kasey Harrison – vocals, bass
Paul Folk – guitar, noise
Brett Rebman – drums
Guest musician Ben Roth – guitars on “Bastardized”
This up-and-coming Symphonic Metal five-piece outfit from Philadelphia is well on their way to conquering the big stages and setting people’s minds ablaze to the sound of their striking debut album.
An up-and-coming five-piece act from Philadelphia, in the United States, centered around classically-trained singer Barbara Blackthorne and main songwriting, mastermind and guitarist Vlad Khavin, Symphonic Metal outfit Empress is well on their way to conquering the big stages and setting people’s minds ablaze with kaleidoscopic arrangements, and their brand new album Fateweaver is the perfect way to kick-off their path to success showcasing their unique take on Symphonic Metal while they effortlessly transition between a variety of powerful tunes. Mixed and mastered by Dan Swanö at Unisound Studios, produced and engineered by the aforementioned Vlad Khavin, and displaying a classy artwork by Nguyen Hieu, Fateweaver will fully captivate your senses thanks to the amazing job done by Barbara and Vlad alongside their bandmates Joseph Muir on the guitars, Nicholas Bonsanto on bass and Mark Stainthorpe on drums, asking you if you’re bound by fate or bound to control it, as they navigate the overarching theme of destiny through the tales of the individual characters on each song.
Whimsical keys ignite the symphonic, epic title-track entitled Legion, with Mark dictating the pace with his heavy beats before Barbara arrives like a Valkyrie from the sky and stuns us all with her operatic vocals, and the guitars by Vlad and Joseph reverberate in the air in the also imposing Beyond the Sleep, with all background elements adding an extra touch of magic to the overall result. Then a sinister, somber start evolves into a multi-layered feast of Symphonic Power Metal titled Chimera, also presenting tons of progressiveness and electricity while Barbara is flawless on vocals supported by the pounding drums by Mark; whereas they don’t waste a single second and continue their musical adventure in The Fall of Kingdoms, with Vlad and Joseph being on absolute fire with both their riffs and solos, followed by Black Arcana, very rhythmic, epic and dense from start to finish, with Barbara’s soaring vocals being a thing of beauty while Nicholas and Mark generate a rumbling atmosphere with their respective bass and drums.
Monarch is another dynamic and ethereal display of Symphonic Metal by those talented musicians where the riffage by the band’s guitar duo beautifully clashes with the song’s background keys, while there are moments of sheer progressiveness that remind me of Opeth and Dream Theater. In the electrifying Into the Grey, the unstoppable Barbara gorgeously declaims the song’s words (“The coming storm brings a change / The eye of fate shifts its gaze / The sky will show the way to rend fear from my heart”) while her bandmates make sure we’re transported into a world of magic and epicness to the sound of their undisputed Symphonic and Melodic Metal; whereas Immortelle sounds clearly inspired by classic Nightwish and Epica, offering our ears another round of their piercing sounds albeit a bit generic if compared to the rest of the album. And last but not least, closing such powerful album we have the seven-minute symphony Eventide, where Barbara showcases all her vocal range and potency and where all elements are in the right place, elevating the song’s punch to a whole new level and resulting in a climatic ending for admirers of the genre.
You can get to know more about Empress, their music, plans for the future, tour dates and so on by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, stay up to date with their new songs and videos by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by streaming their music on Spotify, and show your utmost support to those hard working American metallers by purchasing a copy of their new album from their own webstore or from their BandCamp page, or simply by clicking HERE or HERE to select your favorite version of the album or to stream it in full. What do you say? Are you bound by fate or bound to control it? If you don’t know the answer to that, let Empress help you to the sound of their striking debut album, allowing their stylish Symphonic Metal to penetrate deep inside your mind and soul.
Best moments of the album: Legion, Chimera and Into the Grey.
Worst moments of the album:Immortelle.
Released in 2022 Independent
Track listing 1. Legion 4:20
2. Beyond the Sleep 4:34
3. Chimera 7:11
4. The Fall of Kingdoms 5:40
5. Black Arcana 4:38
6. Monarch 5:35
7. Into the Grey 4:00
8. Immortelle 4:53
9. Eventide 6:54
Barbara Blackthorne – vocals
Vlad Khavin – guitars
Joseph Muir – guitars
Nicholas Bonsanto – bass
Mark Stainthorpe – drums
Bang your head nonstop to the straight-to-the-point new EP of pure Heavy Metal by this fantastic Pittsburgh-based band, sprinkling a dust on the poisoned path from which they summit.
The stunning Deborah Levine and her bandmates Andy Ramage and Chris Tritschler on the guitars, Amy Bianco on bass and Adam Ramage on drums, collective known as Pittsburgh, United States-based Heavy Metal outfit Lady Beast, are back in action now in 2021 with a short and sweet EP entitled Omens, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2020 album The Vulture’s Amulet, featuring four original tracks plus a very special cover song that transpire pure Heavy Metal throughout the EP’s almost 20 minutes of music. Sprinkling a dust on the poisoned path from which Lady Beast summit, Omens is highly recommended for admirers of the NWOBHM combined with the badass music and rockin’ attitude by Motörhead, Thin Lizzy and Mercyful Fate, among others, providing newcomers to their metallic realm a very good sample of what the band has been delivering to their fans since their inception in 2009, and of what we can expect from such talented crew in their future releases.
The Poisoned Path already brings pure Heavy Metal to our avid ears, with its old school lyrics declaimed by Deborah (“I go out in the dark, / I whisper to the night… / A voice, it soon replies… / Secure a candles flame, / and sharpen up your blade. / Follow me down the poisoned path I’ve made.”) making things even more exciting, while Amy kicks some ass with her low-tuned bass. Then it’s time for more of the band’s melodic sounds in Reaper, with Andy being on fire with his riffs and solos accompanied by his guitar comrade Chris, feeling utterly inspired by the classic music by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest; and they continue to travel through the golden years of rock and metal in Blood For Blood, with Adam smashing his drums in great fashion while Deborah mesmerizes us all once again with her sharp and captivating vocals. After such powerful tune, Lady Beast pay a high-octane tribute to the one and only Rainbow with their electrifying rendition for the undisputed classic Kill the King (you can check the original song HERE), with Deborah and the boys (and girl) being on fire from start to finish, specially Andy and Chris who deliver together sheer awesomeness through their guitars. Last but not least, let’s bang our heads once again to the pounding drums by Adam in the thrilling The Fool’s Journey, showcasing incendiary riffs and solos supported by the rumbling bass by Amy, therefore providing Deborah all she needs to shine on vocals.
If you want to give Omens a spin, you can find the EP in its entirety on YouTube, but of course in order to show your true support to underground Heavy Metal you should definitely purchase a copy of it from the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as from the Reaper Metal Productions’ webstore in regular CD format or as an ass-kicking 12″ LP on screen printed black/white splatter vinyl that comes with a 11×11 two sided insert with band photo and lyrics (and as side A is the only playable side, on side B is a screen printed image in metallic silver ink). Also, don’t forget to give the band a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their first-class music and stylish videos. I guess I don’t need to explain that the omens found in Lady Beast’s new EP are all beyond good, but just in case you don’t believe me, simply hit play and let this fantastic beast from Pittsburgh show you how heavy music should be played. I bet you’ll instantly fall in love for their music.
Best moments of the album: Kill the King and The Fool’s Journey.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2021 Reaper Metal Productions
Track listing 1. The Poisoned Path 3:26
2. Reaper 3:50
3. Blood For Blood 3:34
4. Kill the King (Rainbow cover) 4:17
5. The Fool’s Journey 4:25
Band members Deborah Levine – vocals
Andy Ramage – lead guitar
Chris Tritschler – rhythm guitar
Amy Bianco – bass
Adam Ramage – drums
Raise your swords and enjoy this epic album of Melodic Death Metal that will make you want to bang your head while beating the living shit out of magical creatures.
Hailing from Ghorusalem (it’s actually Pittsburgh, a city in western Pennsylvania, in the United States, but please bear with us), the warriors of Dethlehem have traveled through time and space to fight against dragons, wizards, warlocks, leviathans, shape-shifters and a shit ton of other things that needed to die since their inception in 2008. Despite the gimmick, it would be a big mistake to think that Dethlehem’s sound is no more than a witless joke. Truth be told, once you enter their realm you’ll face some good and epic Melodic Death Metal, as the fourth full-length opus from this four-piece army formed by Brutalitus the BloodBeard on vocals, Paladin Bovice on the guitars, Ranger Grimshaw Longfellow on bass and Overlord Brom on drums, entitled Maelstrom of the Emerald Dragon, harnesses the spirit of old whilst drawing from the power of modern Death Metal, creating a multi-layered sound that becomes even more compelling if you go full Dungeons & Dragons with the “Story Mode” edition of the album. Featuring an original artwork by American artist Joe Mruk (Red Buffalo Illustration), Maelstrom of the Emerald Dragon presents a band that has truly stepped up their game, sounding tighter and more technical than ever, showcasing a more progressive take on Death Metal and covering a lot of ground on an album that will make you want to bang your head while beating the living shit out of magical creatures.
And the story begins with Prelude – As Fate Would Have It, where acoustic guitars permeate the air before all hell breaks loose in A Tale That Time Forgot, with all band members blasting ass-kicking Melodic Death Metal sounds led by the raspy roars by Brutalitus, also bringing forward some good breaks and variations, a considerable amount of progressiveness and endless epicness. Although I understand Interlude I – Cloud Megalopolis is the explanation to the beginning of the adventure, it’s way too lengthy for people like me who prefer music rather than talking, sounding like one of those frustrated Manowar interludes from their latest albums; however, back to what really matters, which is metal music, the quartet fires another berserk, groovy and heavy-as-hell tune titled Return to the Halls of Madness, where Overlord Brom does an amazing job pounding his drums with strength and fury accompanied by the scorching riffs by Paladin Bovice, and they keep smashing their instruments in Mind Flayer, where Paladin Bovice’s guitar lines walk hand in hand with the rumbling and groovy bass by Ranger Grimshaw Longfellow, also bringing an Iron Maiden-ish vibe to make things even more vibrant.
Interlude II – Task for the Bog Witch is another interlude to advance the storyline, shorter and more entertaining with a lot of special “characters”, setting the stage for Escape From Wolf Mountain, a lot heavier and also more metallic than its predecessors, with Brutalitus growling manically and, consequently, injecting more adrenaline to the story being told, while Overlord Brom fires classic, furious beats nonstop, followed by the also frantic Beware the Mimic, showcasing a flammable fusion of classic Death Metal with Epic and Melodic Death Metal where once again Paladin Bovice shreds his strings in great fashion, all spiced up by the song’s old school lyrics (“Terrorize / In the rivets and wood lives teeth and eyes / Biding time / Ready to strike and dissolve your insides / This quagmire in plain sight / The treasure it holds is…”). After another decent bridge titled Interlude III – A Ravenous Storm where the heroes interact with a couple of funny giants, it’s time for a brutal extravaganza titled On the Backs of Giants, with sheer epicness flowing from its lyrics (“We rode on the backs of giants through the snow / Making our way through fractured ice / This journey lumbers on”) while all band members craft another vibrant and dark ambience with their respective instruments.
Gelatinous Cube Labyrinth is perhaps the most modernized tune of the album, with its guitars and bass at the same time piercing your mind and punching you in the stomach, flirting with Progressive Death Metal while Paladin Bovice adds a touch of awesomeness to the overall result with his sick guitar solos, whereas Interlude IV – Welcome to Your Doom is obviously another interlude preparing the listener for the final chapter of the story, with our heroes facing a witch and a dragon in The Emerald Dragon, bringing to our avid ears over seven minutes of melodic passages, clean and harsh vocals, thunderous bass punches and crisp guitars, while Overlord Brom sounds absolutely mental on drums from start to finish, flowing smoothly until its epic conclusion and setting the tone for the outro Interlude V – Cyclical Past, putting an interesting conclusion to the album while making the heroes “aware” of “the listeners”, leaving us all eager for more of their fantasy stories. Well, as it’s mentioned during the outro, the story is “to be continued”, which means we’ll hear a lot more from those dauntless metal warriors in a not-so-distant future.
There are actually two versions of the album available, one with no theatrical interludes for those who just want the music, and the full experience presented in the form of the semi-cohesive story that intertwines with the musical tracks, as reviewed above. You can stream the simpler version with no interludes in full on Spotify or purchase it from the band’s own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, or you can prove yourself a true metalhead, grab your sword and shield, and buy the full Story Mode version of Maelstrom of the Emerald Dragon also from their BandCamp page. In addition, don’t forget to join Dethlehem in their quest for metal by following them on Facebook, on Instagram, and by subscribing to their YouTube channel, staying up to date with all things Dethlehem, knowing where their next battles (or live concerts, if you prefer) will happen, and getting useful tips on how to ride giants while fighting witches and dragons at the same time you listen to their crushing and modern extreme music.
Best moments of the album: A Tale That Time Forgot, Escape From Wolf Mountain and On the Backs of Giants.
Worst moments of the album:Interlude I – Cloud Megalopolis.
Released in 2020 Independent
Track listing 1. Prelude – As Fate Would Have It 1:53
2. A Tale That Time Forgot 6:00
3. Interlude I – Cloud Megalopolis 4:20
4. Return to the Halls of Madness 5:01
5. Mind Flayer 5:04
6. Interlude II – Task for the Bog Witch 1:53
7. Escape From Wolf Mountain 4:00
8. Beware the Mimic 5:52
9. Interlude III – A Ravenous Storm 1:56
10. On the Backs of Giants 4:54
11. Gelatinous Cube Labyrinth 5:06
12. Interlude IV – Welcome to Your Doom 3:39
13. The Emerald Dragon 7:36
14. Interlude V – Cyclical Past 1:36
Band members Brutalitus the BloodBeard – vocals
Paladin Bovice – guitars
Ranger Grimshaw Longfellow – bass
Overlord Brom – drums
Guest musicians Lord Bonecrush – narrator, boisterous witch, Overlord Brom, backing vocals
Dan Behrens – Magic Man Dan
Bridget Yeager – Veldras
Dan Gold – giant 1, giant 2
Leighann Calamera – valley girl witch
Doyle M. Daigle II – Nildorph
Jack – himself
The Heavy Metal beasts from Pittsburgh return with another sensational round of soaring vocals, incendiary riffs and classic drums in their fourth full-length opus.
After hundreds of concerts, festivals, tours, three full-length albums, one EP and one compilation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Heavy Metal machine Lady Beast is more than ready to celebrate over 10 years kicking ass and spreading their fulminating music all over the world with their fourth full-length opus entitled The Vulture’s Amulet, an ode to all things metal highly inspired by behemoths the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Mercyful Fate and Motörhead. Featuring a beyond stylish and sexy artwork by American artist Adam Burke (Nightjar Illustration), The Vulture’s Amulet has everything it takes to conquer the hearts of any diehard metalhead, from soaring vocals to breathtaking riffs and blast beats, showcasing all the talent, energy and passion flowing from frontwoman Deborah Levine, guitarists Andy Ramage and Chris Tritschler, bassist Greg Colaizzi (who has just left the band, being replaced by Amy Bianco) and drummer Adam Ramage and, above all, proving once again heavy music is still alive and kicking inside our hearts forever and ever.
Classic, razor-edged riffs ignite the frantic and electrifying ode to heavy music titled Metal Machine, filling every single space in the air with electricity and rage before Deborah comes ripping with her powerful and piercing vocals, or in other words, an 80’s classic metal hymn released a few decades later, in 2020. And get ready for another metal storm led by Andy and Chris with their incendiary riffage in Runes of Rust, a Judas Priest-inspired hymn where Adam smashes his drums with tons of precision and groove, sounding as old school as it can be; while the sick bass lines by Greg generate a thunderous atmosphere perfect for the band’s guitar duo to pierce our ears with their riffs in The Gift, a beautiful fusion of the music by renowned Teutonic bands like Grave Digger, Running Wild and Accept, giving you all you need to bang your head like there’s no tomorrow.
Then phantasmagorical guitars à la Mercyful Fate are one of the main ingredients in Sacrifice to the Unseen, while Deborah continues to kick us in the head with her feminine and ferocious vocal lines, also bringing the most electrifying elements from classic Hard Rock to the overall result, followed by the even more metallic and inspiring Betrayer, reminding me of some of the best songs from Judas Priest’s 1978 classic album Killing Machine (or Hell Bent For Leather), with Deborah being simply fantastic on vocals accompanied by the NWOBHM-like riffs by Andy and Chris. And drinking from the same fountain as Iron Maiden in their instrumental classics “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)” and “Transylvania”, but of course with Deborah’s ass-kicking vocals embellishing the airwaves, we have The Champion, an epic Heavy Metal anthem filling our hearts with hope, fire and, of course, Heavy Metal.
It’s time to put the pedal to the (heavy) metal in the absolutely furious, high-octane tune entitled Transcend the Blade, this time a fully instrumental track with Andy and Chris spearheading their sonic onrush, firing beautiful riffs and solos for our total delight, whereas slowing things down a bit (while at the same time getting darker) the band offers us all the title-track The Vulture’s Amulet, a mid-tempo tune where Greg and Adam are ruthless with their thunderous bass and drums, respectively, with Deborah returning in full force declaiming the song’s stylish lyrics. and last but not least, the closing tune Vow of the Valkyrie is an exciting and flammable feast of old school riffs and solos, blast beats and the always killer vocals by Deborah, resulting in a true born-to-be-an-underground-metal-classic bringing forward an amazing guitar “duel” by Andy and Chris tailored for lovers of the seven-stringed ax.
In a nutshell, as already mentioned, The Vulture’s Amulet has everything one might ask for in traditional Heavy Metal, plus of course the mesmerizing touch added by Deborah with her she-wolf vocals, and if you want to show Lady Beast your true support you can buy the album directly from their BandCamp page, from the Reaper Metal Productions webstore (in both vinyl and cassette formats), from Apple Music or from Amazon, as well as stream it in full on YouTube and on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, proving to Deborah and her henchmen you’re worth joining their metal den and with The Vulture’s Amulet being the perfect soundtrack for enjoying a cold beer deep down there together with those heavy music beasts.
Best moments of the album: Metal Machine, The Gift, Betrayer and Vow of the Valkyrie.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2020 Reaper Metal Productions
1. Metal Machine 3:15
2. Runes of Rust 4:26
3. The Gift 5:09
4. Sacrifice to the Unseen 5:09
5. Betrayer 3:29
6. The Champion 5:24
7. Transcend the Blade 3:42
8. The Vulture’s Amulet 5:14
9. Vow of the Valkyrie 5:03
Deborah Levine – vocals
Andy Ramage – lead guitar
Chris Tritschler – rhythm guitar
Greg Colaizzi – bass
Adam Ramage – drums
Death falls so heavy on my soul… Death falls so heavy, makes me moan…
Things are about to get doomed, heavy and extremely sexy here at The Headbanging Moose with our metal chick of the month of May. Trained in classical, jazz and musical theatre vocals, as well as acting and dance, the talented and stunning Kayla Dixon, frontwoman for Doom Metal institution Witch Mountain and for Alternative Metal outfit Dress the Dead, is among us to prove once again that black girls do have a place in the world of heavy music, and she has been doing that in great fashion with her beyond powerful vocals since joining Witch Mountain in 2015. Hence, after listening to Kayla singing for the very first time you’ll get absolutely addicted to her voice and performance, no doubt about that, therefore going after everything she has already recorded in her career, it doesn’t matter if it’s metal or not.
Born on March 20, 1995 in Glendale, California and raised between Lancaster, Pennsylvania, California, and Maryland (as you can see, she moved a lot when she was a kid), Kayla has been singing since the age of five, joining a Jazz band at the age of 13, when she began to hone her vocal skills and discovered her passion for performing. Having studied ballet, modern and contemporary techniques at the American Dance Institute, the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Maryland Youth Ballet, among others, not to mention she’s a trained actor of Stanislavski and Meisner techniques (which contributed to her deep understanding of the importance of storytelling on stage), Kayla has already participated in several projects in her career, such as productions at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Levine Music, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts, also making an appearance in in the Sundance award winning movie I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, on Netflix, as well as in the TV series Portlandia, Grimm and Outlaw. In addition, she said in one of her interviews she doesn’t sit at a keyboard or think about intervals or scales, unless she’s writing harmonies. She usually writes the melody first, thinking about “what words match this melody and how can I put this melody into words?”
Kayla got her first contact with heavy music during her teens due to her sisters, who used to listen to bands like Marilyn Manson, Tool and Nine Inch Nails, and she fell in love for that type of music. After straying away from that for a while, she said it was when she was in the ninth grade that she rediscovered all those bands, later turning her attention to other heavier and more complex bands such as Meshuggah. She mentioned in one of her interviews that it was the intensity of metal music that really caught her attention at first, as she feels she can express all her emotions and feelings through metal. In addition, she also said that the energy coming from the audience while you’re on stage is also what makes heavy music so special for her.
Regarding her career with both Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, everything started back in 2015 when Kayla, who had recently discovered the music by Witch Mountain, saw on their Facebook page they were auditioning for a new vocalist after the departure in 2014 of the amazing Uta Plotkin, prior to the release of the album Mobile of Angels. She then decided to take a shot at that by submitting a video audition, admitting she was a little nervous as she loved Uta’s lyrics and the vocal melodies, but fortunately for all of us fans of rock and metal Kayla became the band’s new frontwoman (and let’s not forget she was only 19 years old at the time). Four years later, this excellent Portland, Oregon-based band formed back in 1997 released their first full-length album with Kayla on vocals, self-titled Witch Mountain (which by the way she was responsible for all lyrics), not to mention their 2016 single Burn You Down, impressing not only the band’s diehard fans with her potent voice and her ability to easily switch between clean and harsh vocals, but also her own band members. “When she laid down a scratch track in the studio and was going back and forth between the cleans and the dirties, our producer Billy and us were just sitting there laughing with joy,” recalls guitarist Rob Wrong. “For her that was just a scratch track, and we’re just like ‘most people in the world can’t do this.’ For Dixon, the possibility to cross styles and alternate between clean and screaming vocals is ‘a breath of fresh air.’”
Then in 2018, one year after parting ways with former The Haunted vocalist Peter Dolving, Dress the Dead announced a new lineup with our goddess Kayla on vocals in an unexpected move by many. “A mutual friend reached out to me about Dress the Dead. One of my first thoughts was, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready or even at an appropriate talent level to be replacing someone like Peter Dolving for these guys.’ I’d battled with the idea in my head for several months before finally reaching out. I had listened to and loved 1969, but what really hit me hard was when I heard the other songs that are still unreleased that they sent me. I had no idea how musically diverse this band would turn out to be,” said Kayla about joining her second major band, but as what happened with Witch Mountain her vocals matched Dress the Dead’s music flawlessly, as you can enjoy in the excellent songs 1969, There Goes The Sun and Promises & Kisses. In addition to that, just to give you an idea of how healthy her relationship with her new bandmates is, take a look at this fun YouTube video titled “Dress The Dead – Crappy Comments”, where Kayla and the rest of the band read and discuss about the most ridiculous comments they received from fans via social media.
Our hardcore vegan (yes, she’s a vegan) had also been involved with several other bands and projects before joining Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, each one offering Kayla a chance to showcase all her highly developed vocal skills. For instance, she was (apparently) the vocalist for a Cleveland, Ohio-based Groove/Death Metal band named Demons Within during an unknown period of time, and the lead singer for Sacramento, California-based Power Metal act Helion Prime from 2016 until 2017, with whom she recorded the sensational single Remnants of Stars, in 2017. Apart from that, she also started lending her unique voice now in 2019 to a British/Romanian Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal band named Clouds during some of their live performances, and she also appeared as a guest vocalist in the song Buried In Sand, from Clouds’ 2018 release Dor – Bonus Album; in the electrifying title-track Terminal, from the 2017 album Terminal, by British Melodic Progressive Metal band Divinity Compromised; and more recently in Living Light, from the 2019 album Divided by Darkness, by Phoenix, Arizona-based Doom Metal act Spirit Adrift, to be released later this month.
Touring is always one of the most difficult and demanding tasks in the life of a musician, and as a talented vocalist that Kayla is she obviously warms up her voice (and mind) properly before going on stage, sometimes meditating for a few minutes to reach her desired state of mind prior to performing. As a matter of fact, Kayla mentioned that meditation was one of the main activities she discovered through the years to fight her childhood traumas, to work on her spirituality and to remain strong when facing any type of adversity. She also said that, to keep her body and mind healthy while touring with Witch Mountain, who by the way have a very aggressive touring agenda, she tries to eat well and work out whenever she can, avoiding things like partying and drinking. Even with all those precautions to stay in shape, Kayla said that due to her incendiary performances each show ends up being fairly exhausting for her but energizing at the same time, saying it’s another form of “meditation” for her. “Music is a way for me to express that negativity and get it out. There’s also a positivity about it. So, it’s very energizing. Music is what makes me happy and I believe it is my life’s purpose,” commented Kayla, and if you take into account the fact that when she’s not on tour she can be giving vocal lessons or acting (albeit she hasn’t being doing a lot of that lately due to her busy schedule), it’s the utmost proof she was born to be an artist.
As curious as this might sound, Kayla always mentions in her interviews that she considers herself an introvert, although she’s not actually afraid of talking to people. Despite having introverted tendencies, she confronts that inner fear by working really hard on it, saying that fear doesn’t have to be who she really is or her story. And even more curious than that, she mentioned that one thing she loves doing for relaxation and fun is watching horror movies, with her favorite one being the 1982 cult movie Poltergeist and also mentioning Suspiria as another movie she enjoyed a lot (I just don’t know if she’s talking about the 1977 original one or the 2018 version). She said Poltergeist really freaked her out, that it was extremely scary in her opinion, so how can this be a relaxing activity, right? Anyway, still talking about ghosts and paranormal activities, she said she had a few paranormal experiences in her life, as her mother was really into that kind of thing and would tell her about ghosts she saw. She mentioned that when she was seven years old she was sitting in the living room around Christmas time watching the classic TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and when she went to her room there was this white figure of an old man standing. In addition, her dad, who’s by the way a pastor, also claims he’s seen a ghost in his church, which used to be an old-fashioned one-room school house back in the 1900’s, describing the appearance of the ghost in great detail. If ghosts truly exist or not, no one knows for sure, but if Kayla channels those encounters and experiences into her music, and we all know the unknown has always been a magnificent inspiration for all genres and subgenres of heavy music, we can rest assured she’ll keep providing us first-class rock and metal for decades to come.
Reeper, deadly reeper, it’s time to rumble to the flammable fusion of Stoner Rock and Doom Metal by this up-and-coming five-piece act from Philadelphia.
Formed in 2016 in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city, in the United States by Zach Thomas on vocals, Pat Daly and Andrew Price on the guitars, Shane Trimble on bass and Napz Mosley on drums, Hard Rock/Doom Metal act High Reeper originally started as a studio band, but it rapidly became apparent that their music was meant to be heard live and loud, making their debut in the Philly stoner rock scene in early 2017 with success and, as a consequence, being followed up by the release of their self-titled debut album now in 2018. Deeply rooted in modern Stoner Rock but still giving a nod to the early days of Black Sabbath, the band’s first offering is driven by pounding rhythms, thick guitars and soaring, screeching vocals, meant to be played loud and to be played often.
In other words, High Reeper is an unapologetic punch in the face for fans of early 70’s proto-metal, with the sound and smell of leather, weed, boozing, gambling and death permeating the record from start to finish. Produced, engineered and mixed by bass player Shane Trimble at TTR studios in Philadelphia as well as his home studio Delwood Sound in Delaware, the sound is laced with old school elements while still maintaining the focus of a modern-sounding release, being highly recommended for fans of the aforementioned Black Sabbath, as well as other noisy and obscure bands like Saint Vitus and Orchid. Throughout its 42 minutes of music split into nine unique tracks, each one with its own purpose and soul, High Reeper will take you on a psychedelic and stoner musical journey, running from up-tempo straight-ahead rock, to slowed down, heavy, early doom.
Otherworldly riffs kick off the flammable Doom Metal feast titled Die Slow, a fun tune that will certainly put you into a trance where Shane with his rumbling bass and Napz with his rhythmic beats set the stage for the Ozzy-inspired vocals by Zach; and enhancing their electricity and stamina to a whole new level, the quintet delivers a rockin’ hymn titled Chrome Hammer, showcasing a great riffage by the guitar duo comprised of Pat and Andrew in what’s in my humble opinion the best song of the entire album. Keep in mind the party is just starting, as in Soul Taker we’re treated to another excellent Black Sabbath-like anthem by High Reeper, with Napz smashing his drums and Pat and Andrew delivering pure feeling with their strings.
The title-track High Reeper is sluggish and somber as expected in good old Doom Metal, ignited by the low-tuned bass by Shane before it becomes a drum feast by Napz, flowing into a thrilling, metallic ending; whereas in Reeper Deadly Reeper a dark and menacing intro evolves into a hard rockin’ Stoner and Doom Metal mass, with Zach putting his heart and soul into his performance, therefore enhancing the song’s already powerful vibe considerably. Then we have Weed & Speed, where the name says it all, with the weed part coming in the form pure Stoner Metal flowing from their instruments, while the speed appears every now and then amidst the most sluggish and soulful riffs you can think of. However, the final result doesn’t feel as cohesive as the other songs, falling flat after a while.
In the fantastic Double Down And Let It Ride, simply let their doomed sounds and noises invade your senses, led by the always thrilling guitars by Pat and Andrew. This is what I would call the perfect depiction of a hybrid between old school Doom Metal with modern Stoner Metal and Southern Rock, and a path High Reeper should definitely keep exploring in their future releases. Black Leather (Chose Us) is an ode to the 70’s lifestyle where heavy rockers used to wear black no matter what, translated into top-tier Stoner Rock full of crisp riffs and solos, rhythmic beats and the inebriate vocals by Zach. And last but not least, closing this feast of witchcraft and psychedelia we have another solid tune titled Friend Of Death, where we’re able to enjoy all the dexterity by the band’s guitar duo as well as the precision and feeling of Napz on drums for over six minutes, not to mention Shane with his blackened low-tuned punches, with its last part being a thing of beauty for fans of the genre.
An album that effectively unites the devastation of Death Metal with the intricacy of Progressive Metal, brought into being by an American band that knows exactly how to create beautiful extreme music in a compelling and atmospheric way.
I guess I sometimes tend to overuse the word “atmospheric” in some of the reviews done here at The Headbanging Moose, but in the case of Persistence of Thought, the first full-length album by American Atmospheric Tech-Death Metal act Burial in the Sky, there’s no better word to describe the technical and whimsical assault of extreme music brought forth by the band, always interspersed between tranquil and at times psychedelic passages. And although you’ll find hints of the musicality by bands such as Nihil and Fallujah spread all over the creations by Burial in the Sky, they’re far from being a copy of either.
Formed by multi-instrumentalists William Okronglis and James Tomedi in the year of 2013 in Mount Carmel, a small city located in the state of Pennsylvania, United States, Burial in the Sky already released two EP’s prior to Persistence of Thought, those being Psychosis (2013) and Transcendence (2014). Joining them on Persistence of Thought is world class drummer Samus Paulicelli (Decrepit Birth, Abigail Wiliams), whose expert skills perfectly complement each song created by the duo. Add to that recipe the otherworldly album art by American artist Nathan Lee, and there you have an excellent option for lovers of the aggression found in Death Metal with the subtlety and finesse of progressive music.
In the opening track, entitled Entry I, serenity invades our ears and smooth piano notes bring peace to our souls, but suddenly all that calmness turns into an avalanche of Technical Death Metal led by the intricate drumming by Samus, changing completely the course of action in a very solid way. The band blends sheer brutality with melodious lines and a beautiful ambiance, going from total devastation to psychedelic passages (like what happens for instance at around four minutes) and back to their Dream Theater-sish extreme music, captivating the listener from start to finish. The second part of what can be called their “Entry Trilogy”, Entry II, follows a similar pattern, with William providing deep growls and interesting riffs while James fires his soulful guitar solos. Furthermore, the last part of the song is an outstanding sonic onslaught led by the unstoppable Samus on drums, including even hints of Black Metal in his beats and, therefore, increasing the album’s musical range. And closing the trilogy we have Entry III, a dark tune transpiring melancholy, where delicacy is found in the form of subtle guitar lines amidst all desperate screams and hellish drums blasted by the band, with highlights to the pleasant guitar duo at the end of the song.
The second part of the album begins with Anchors, where Burial in the Sky hypnotize us with a whimsical rhythm and a touch of finesse before charging our minds with their brutal musicality, with James delivering more of his amazing solos whereas Samus continues to display a high level of complexity on drums. This is a song highly recommended for banging your head with your eyes closed to properly enjoy the sound from every single instrument, until it reaches its climatic ending. Galaxy of Ghosts is the first song of the album to start in full force, already exhibiting the violence and anger found in the music by Burial in the Sky from the very first second. Not only this is a very technical composition presenting interesting tempo changes and guitar lines, but also pay attention to the awesome synchronicity between guitars and drums, and to how the band gradually increases the song’s electricity before ending it in a pensive way. And Dimensions Divide, the last blast of technical and furious Death Metal in Persistence of Thought, maintains the overall quality of the album really high, with its blazing guitars and top-notch drumming guiding the musicality, which once again fades into atmospheric sounds and pure melancholy.
In a nutshell, Persistence of Thought might not be an album for the masses due to the intricacy and heaviness of the music present in each one of its tracks, but that doesn’t mean all types of fans of heavy music can’t have a good time listening to it. Simply sit down, relax and absorb the music by Burial in the Sky, or you can also stand up and slam into the pit if that’s your cup of tea. You can purchase Persistence of Thought at their BandCamp page, on iTunes, on Amazon and other different locations, and by doing that you will show your support to this up-and-coming band that knows exactly how to unite the realms of devastation and complexity in a compelling and atmospheric way.
Best moments of the album: Anchors and Galaxy of Ghosts.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2016 Independent
Track listing 1. Entry I 6:02
2. Entry II 5:47
3. Entry III 4:40
4. Anchors 7:29
5. Galaxy of Ghosts 5:52
6. Dimensions Divide 4:42
Band members William Okronglis – vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, keys, percussion
James Tomedi – lead guitar, bass, keys, mandolin, slide guitar, percussion
Samus Paulicelli – drums (session)
Embrace the psychotic and dissonant uproar pouring from the satanic Black Metal crafted by this implacable duo, and you’ll definitely shorten your descent to the netherworld.
Born in 2014 as a new project from American multi-instrumentalist A.P., also known as Alex Poole (Chaos Moon, Esoterica, Krieg), and having released their self-titled debut full-length album that same year, Chaotic Black Metal band Skáphe return with their disturbing music and nightmarish vibe in Skáphe², an album that not only will keep haunting your soul just like their first installment, but that also consolidates this talented American duo as one of the most promising Black Metal acts in the world of heavy music.
The addition of Icelandic singer D.G., or Dagur (Misþyrming, Naðra), added a lot of dark power to this band from Philadelphia, located in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States, enhancing the obscurity, impact and malignancy found in their music. In other words, the macabre passages and enigmatic vociferations in Skáphe² will simply bring your deepest fears to light (or maybe I should say to darkness), a usually desired effect of Black Metal on people. Moreover, the hypnotizing artwork by Icelandic musician and artist H.V. Lyngdal, exhibiting an eviscerated devil devouring a human being, is the perfect depiction of our mental insanity and of our souls poisoned by the same fears exposed in the music by Skáphe.
Instead of regular song names, Skáphe simply numbered their creations from 1 to 6 in Roman numerals. The first track, entitled I, offers a darkling psychedelic start followed by a turmoil of dissonant growls and blast beats that will lacerate your soul, proving why they don’t label themselves “chaotic” in vain. In addition to that, D.G. provides his business card as the demonic voice of Skáphe in this bestial Black Metal chant with lots of Atmospheric Doom elements added to increase its infernal aura. II continues right where the opening track stopped, which means more satanic passages and cavernous screams with A.P. putting all his demons and anger into the music, resulting in sheer darkness. Needless to say, the anguished grasps by D.G. will make you feel very uncomfortable (in a good way, of course).
III, the third installment, is even sharper and more mesmerizing. It’s fast and sludgy at the same time thanks to the excellent job done by A.P. with all instruments, resulting in an ode to Black and Doom Metal represented by four minutes of despair with absolutely no hope in sight. In the Stygian tune IV, D.G. howls like a werewolf during its obscure start, and its eight minutes of extreme music are definitely not suitable at all for the faint at heart. Moreover, after an eerie break in the middle of the song, brutal Black Metal nicely explodes from all instruments for our total delight.
Obviously, the fifth chant, named V, keeps the fires of hell burning bright, showcasing a tormented performance by D.G. enhanced by the reverberating riffs and the doomed drumming by A.P. The tone of the guitar throughout the whole song is amazing, sounding like a downward spiral to Hades. And finally, the last tune VI reminds me of the most obscure songs by Triptykon at first, evolving to an extremely disturbing form of dark music. A.P. has an enraged performance, while D.G. continues his demented path to the underworld. And when the blasting Black Metal music stops, we’re treated to about two minutes of wicked background noises, meaning we’ve finally reached the gates of hell.
Follow the exploratory path of madness by a talented five-piece band whose main objective is to provide us distinct extreme music from multiple perspectives.
“Different music from multiple perspectives.”
If you visit the official Facebook page by American Progressive Black Metal quintet Dendritic Arbor, that’s the short and sweet description you’ll find about the eccentric music by this band hailing from the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States, and let me tell you there couldn’t be better words to describe their challenging and lunatic creations and experimentations. I myself consider labeling them as “just” a Progressive Black Metal band a limitation to their unique scope and creativity, but that’s something I’ll leave up to you to decide after you take a listen at their brand new EP entitled Sentient Village // Obsolescent Garden.
Formed in 2012, the band composed of Maxwell Beehner (guitars, vocals), Adam Henderson (guitars, vocals), Thomas Bittner (bass), Chris McCune (drums) and Kyle Lambert (responsible for the “noise”, or whatever that’s supposed to mean) is on a hot streak since their inception, releasing high-quality extreme music no matter if it’s just a single, a full-length album or an EP like Sentient Village // Obsolescent Garden. Featuring a more-than-unusual album art designed by Hannah MacAulay and Maxwell Beehner (Ageless Christian Records), this avant-garde four-track album will demolish you like a wrecking ball in its 20 minutes of psychedelic rage.
The weird noises in the beginning of Cotard Delusion (a rare mental illness in which an afflicted person holds the delusion that they are dead, either figuratively or literally) might deceive you a bit, making you think the music by Dendritic Arbor is not as heavy as promised, but as soon as the sonic carnage arises with an explosion of blast beats, absurdly demented guitar riffs and disgruntled howls and barks by both Maxwell and Adam, sounding like there’s a horde of hideous trolls making noises behind the band, you’ll realize these guys are not fooling around. However, things get even more demonic (and therefore better) in Failed Manifestations, a top-notch mix of Black, Death and Thrash Metal, all at once in a powergrinding turmoil, not to mention the “trolls” who keep vociferating their evil spell against mankind. In other words, it’s a complex, progressive and totally destructive nightmare for the faint of heart.
Keratoconus, which by the way is the name of a degenerative disorder of the eye in which structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than the more normal gradual curve, offers the listener brutal slamming Black Metal with no shenanigans, with drummer Chris McCune simply crushing everything with his inhuman beats. And what the hell are those wicked lyrics about (“Ruby moonlight harvesting the growth. / golden fishbone, lodged into the throat. / guess whose eating from the trash again?”)? Anyway, Latex, the most progressive of the four tracks, is an eldritch canticle forged in the pits of hell, where the whole band focuses all their strength and vileness to generate an idiosyncratic sonority until it becomes just a fading eerie noise to put an end to the album.
In a nutshell, Dendritic Arbor are not among us to provide us relaxing or charming songs, but a disquieting tsunami of Extreme Metal aiming at your ill-fated soul and your filthy heart. And with Sentient Village // Obsolescent Garden, available at their BandCamp page, they continue their exploratory path of madness that will send to your ears, as aforementioned, distinct heavy music from multiple perspectives.