Album Review – Immortal Guardian / Psychosomatic (2021)

What’s the best thing to do during this never-ending pandemic? This talented American group has the answer to that armed with their brand new album of breathtaking Progressive Power Metal.

After winning over new audiences with their acclaimed 2018 debut full-length album Age of Revolution and touring relentlessly alongside fellow shredders such as Marty Friedman, Powerglove and Exmortus, Austin, Texas’ own Progressive Power Metal entity Immortal Guardian is back in action in 2021 with their sophomore effort, entitled Psychosomatic, offering their fans more of what they like to call “Super Metal”. As a matter of fact, as the spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic began to ensue, each member of the band retreated to their respective hometowns; guitarist and keyboardist Gabriel Guardian (also known as Gabriel Guardiola) remained in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, vocalist Carlos Zema (of bands like Outworld and Heaven’s Guardian) recorded his vocals from his home in Brazil, new drummer Justin Piedimonte stayed in Montreal, Canada, and new bassist Josh Lopez remained in the band’s native Texas. With shutdowns around the world being enforced, the band completely scrapped the originally planned record that they had been working on and were heavily inspired to write and create a new thematic record about their emotions surrounding current events, with the final result being at the same time epic, bold and of course very personal to each one of those four talented musicians.

The title-track Psychosomatic beings in an imposing manner led by the whimsical keys by Gabriel, gradually evolving into a feast of Progressive Metal showcasing the high-pitched screams by Carlos (and somewhat working as an extended intro to the rest of the album), and they put the pedal to the metal in the heavy and groovy Power Metal tune Read Between the Lines, with the bass jabs by Josh adding sheer heaviness to the overall result while Carlos continues to shine on vocals. Then it’s time to enjoy this eternal lockdown together with the guys form Immortal Guardian in the multi-layered, electrifying Lockdown, with Justin dictating the pace with his intricate beats while Gabriel kicks some serious ass with both his riffs and keys, whereas featuring guest guitars by Marcelo Barbosa (of Almah and Angra), Phobia is another thunderous dosage of their fusion of Progressive and Power Metal where Gabriel, Josh and Justin are in absolute sync with their sonic weapons. And more of their intricate sounds and magical passages are offered in the epic extravaganza titled Clocks, with the keys by Gabriel generating a beautiful ambience perfect for his own piercing guitar solos.

After the short atmospheric interlude Self-isolation, let’s keep banging our heads to the sound of the Heavy Metal hurricane titled Goodbye to Farewells, featuring guest vocals by Mary Zimmer (of Helion Prime), with all band members extracting tons of adrenaline from their instruments while Mary sounds utterly bestial with her harsh roars, showcasing a different side from her work with her main band. Then in Candlelight we’re treated to a pensive, melancholic intro where Josh adds his share of darkness through his bass, evolving into a more traditional hybrid of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock (albeit not as entertaining nor dynamic as the rest of the album, though, going on for too long), and more of their refined piano notes permeate the air in Find a Reason, a more gripping ballad than the previous song, sounding dense from start to finish and with Carlos passionately declaiming the song’s words while Justin pounds his drums flawlessly. Finally, Gabriel once again brings forward his deep passion for shredding in New Day Rising, a spot-on depiction of their Progressive Power Metal, offering many breaks, variations, complex passages and the usual speed and energy of Power Metal for the delight of admirers of the genre.

It’s quite easy to join the army of immortals spearheaded by Gabriel, Carlos, Josh and Justin, as their newborn spawn is available from an array of locations including the band’s own BandCamp and webstore, the M-Theory Audio webstore (in CD and limited purple LP format), the Plastic Head webstore (also in CD and limited purple LP format), or simply click HERE for all places where you can buy or stream the album. Also, let’s show our support to those talented metallers by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by streaming more of their music on Spotify. Psychosomatic is undoubtedly the perfect example of how we should face the COVID-19 pandemic, turning our fears, anxiety and hopelessness into ass-kicking metal music like what Immortal Guardian were capable of doing (perhaps not in such majestic way, of course), showcasing once again the positive energy Heavy Metal can bring to us all even during the most difficult times of our lives. Stay home, stay safe, and rock on!

Best moments of the album: Lockdown, Phobia and Goodbye to Farewells.

Worst moments of the album: Candlelight.

Released in 2021 M-Theory Audio

Track listing
1. Psychosomatic 5:33
2. Read Between the Lines 6:01
3. Lockdown 4:12
4. Phobia 6:13
5. Clocks 5:12
6. Self-isolation 0:39
7. Goodbye to Farewells 5:50
8. Candlelight 5:24
9. Find a Reason 7:00
10. New Day Rising 5:56

Band members
Carlos Zema – vocals
Gabriel Guardian – guitars, keyboards
Josh Lopez – bass
Justin Piedimonte – drums

Guest musician
Mary Zimmer – harsh vocals on “Goodbye to Farewells”
Marcelo Barbosa – guitars on “Phobia”

Concert Review – Arch Enemy & Kreator (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 10/29/2014)

Mosh pits, mosh pits! We’ve got mosh pits! Come grab your mosh pits!

OPENING ACTS: Starkill and Huntress

arch enemy_kreator_natour2014Unfortunately, due to the absolutely insane traffic to get from Oakville to The Opera House in Toronto at 6pm on a Wednesday (plus the fact there were TWO accidents on the highway, making things even worse), I missed BOTH opening acts, American Melodic Death Metal band STARKILL and American Heavy Metal band HUNTRESS. Well, I got the very last song from Huntress and it was truly kick-ass for the less than 5 minutes I had to see them, but I cannot say I actually saw those two bands in action. I’m really sorry, guys! It’s the price to pay when you live in the suburbs and have to work for the entire day before going to concerts, but I’ll try to review Starkill’s 2014 new album Virus of the Mind as soon as possible and a new Huntress album whenever it’s released in the future for sure. And Jill Janus is so beautiful, she will be a Metal Chick of the Month one day here at The Headbanging Moose.

KREATOR

IMG_3046Fuckin’ brutal, fuckin’ sick, fuckin’ awesome, and all other “fuckings” you can think of. German Thrash Metal behemoths KREATOR delivered a motherfuckin’ amazing nonstop violent concert, tearing the house down with their classic, fast and furious heavy music. Mille Petroza drove the fans crazy each time he screamed “TORONTO!”, demanding every single person at The Opera House to slam into the mosh pits and scream as loud as possible. And what can be said about drummer Jürgen “Ventor” Reil? One day we’ll see the guy arrested for excessive violence against his drum kit.

The band’s setlist was also a lesson in violence, with classics such as Violent Revolution, Extreme Aggression, Phobia, Voices of the Dead and Impossible Brutality putting a smile on everyone’s faces, as well as some bruises along our bodies, of course. However, there were three songs that reached perfection and made their whole performance even more memorable: the sensational Enemy of God (my favorite Kreator song of all time), the new and boisterous Phantom Antichrist, and the last song of the setlist, Pleasure to Kill, which left a beautiful trail of devastation at the venue. The only problem with their performance and with the whole festival for me was: who was (were) the motherfucker(s) farting every 5 seconds during the concerts? C’mon, what had you eaten before getting to the venue? Rotten food? Five pounds of pulled pork? Rat meat? That smell was destroying my respiratory system, you sick bastard(s).

IMG_3055Anyway, I guess one of the top moments in everyone’s memories will be the infamous “Wall of Death”, especially for the ones who were at the opposite side of a giant fat bastard. Even at such a small venue, we did it, and it was so cool I saw people eager for more walls of death at every song played. Moreover, it’s always a pleasure to see metalheads picking other metalheads up whenever there was a fall, showing how respectful and united we are. Also, it amazes me to see more and more girls, Asians, Latin Americans and people from any other nationalities, religion, sexual orientation etc. at Heavy Metal concerts. I’m not going to be arrogant and say we are the evolution of mankind, but at least we’re trying harder and getting better results than any other “organized” society in the world, and that makes me really proud to be a metal fan.

Setlist
1. The Patriarch
2. Violent Revolution
3. Civilization Collapse
4. Extreme Aggression
5. Phobia
6. Enemy of God
7. Voices of the Dead
8. Endless Pain
9. Victory Will Come
10. Mars Mantra
11. Phantom Antichrist
12. Impossible Brutality
13. Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite)
14. Pleasure to Kill

Band members
Miland “Mille” Petrozza – vocals, guitar
Sami Yli-Sirniö – guitar
Christian “Speesy” Giesler – bass
Jürgen “Ventor” Reil – drums, vocals

ARCH ENEMY

IMG_3072When ARCH ENEMY open their concert with the superb Enemy Within, one of the best Melodic Death Metal songs in the history of music, you know it’s going to be a wild night. From the very first to the very last minute of their incredible performance, Michael, Alissa & Co. perfectly commanded the crowd with a flawless setlist, full of insane classics blended with newer songs. Maybe the only change I would have done to their setlist was replacing  the boring You Will Know My Name, which wasn’t that good live, with something more brutal like “Diva Satanica” or “I Am Legend/Out For Blood”, but that’s just my opinion. In regards to the other new songs from War Eternal, both War Eternal and As the Pages Burn sounded A LOT better live, with the latter being responsible for a humongous circle pit.

And how not to get thrilled with masterpieces like Ravenous, Revolution Begins, My Apocalypse, Dead Bury Their Dead, Blood on Your Hands and Nemesis? So many good moments I don’t even know what to say. Even less bestial songs like Under Black Flags We March, with Alissa White-Gluz waving the Arch Enemy flag for the delight of all fans, and No Gods, No Masters, where she led an intense jumping up and down during the entire song, were brilliant. By the way, although all songs played are classics or powerful enough to even wake up the dead, it was the band members’ individual performances that made the night truly memorable. Nick, Sharlee and Daniel were amazing, Alissa was a beast, and Mr. Michael Amott makes playing the guitar look so fuckin’ easy I want to buy one right know and start shredding, even if I have no idea on how to do it. Seriously, how can he be that awesome? It’s unbelievable how smooth, technical and soulful his guitar lines are. Snow Bound, oh, Snow Bound!

IMG_3087Talking about Alissa, our Canadian goddess was absolutely stunning, electrified, and more than happy and excited to be playing in Canada for the first time since joining Arch Enemy earlier this year. The smile on her face while holding the Canadian flag up high was priceless (and she looks gorgeous either smiling or playing the badass angry woman, no matter what). Now I truly know why Angela Gossow herself chose Alissa to replace her as the frontwoman of one of the most influential Melodic Death Metal bands of all time.

The Opera House will never be the same after all those hours of endless mosh pits, fists and horns in the air, and PURE FUCKIN’ METAL. They should change the name of the venue from now on to “The Mosh Pit House” or something like that. It was totally awesome, and I’m sure everyone that attended the festival will agree with me. At the end of the day, getting back to Oakville, waking up at 6am the next morning to work and go to the gym in the evening was extremely hard due to all the glorious pain flowing through my body, but nothing that some more Arch Enemy in my car and in my MP3 player couldn’t take care of. Mosh pits anybody?

Setlist
1. Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F minor)
2. Enemy Within
3. War Eternal
4. Ravenous
5. Revolution Begins
6. My Apocalypse
7. You Will Know My Name
8. Bloodstained Cross
9. Under Black Flags We March
10. As the Pages Burn
11. Dead Eyes See No Future
12. No Gods, No Masters
13. Dead Bury Their Dead
14. We Will Rise

Encore:
15. Khaos Overture
16. Yesterday Is Dead and Gone
17. Blood on Your Hands

Encore 2:
18. Snow Bound
19. Nemesis
20. Fields of Desolation (outro)
21. Enter the Machine

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars
Nick Cordle – lead guitars
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

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