Album Review – Nihility / Beyond Human Concepts (2022)

Exploring the definition of nihilism as a philosophy and a way of life, this ruthless Portuguese horde will darken your mind with the Blackened Death Metal found in their sophomore opus.

Forged in the fires of Paços de Ferreira, a city in the Porto District in the north of Portugal, in 2012, Nihility are a four-piece Blackened Death Metal band heavily influenced by the roots of Death and Black Metal, exploring the definition of nihilism as a philosophy and a way of life, passing through the many different ways of nihilism, how it’s understood and adjusts to everyday life and society as a whole. Following their 2019 debut opus Thus Spoke The Antichrist, the band comprised of Mário Ferreira on vocals, Renato Barbosa on the guitars, Miguel Seewald on bass and Luís Moreira on drums has just released their sophomore effort, entitled Beyond Human Concepts, a top-notch album that hopefully will catapult these Portuguese youngsters into the forefront of the European Death Metal scene. Produced, mixed and mastered by Pedro Mendes at Ultrasound Studios Braga, and displaying a Stygian artwork by Credo Quia Absurdum, Beyond Human Concepts is an album of sheer brutality that will please fans of bands the likes of Behemoth, Vader, Morbid Angel, Decapitated and Vomitory, among others, representing an infernal step forward in the band’s career.

Renato ignites the band’s devilish machine with his riffage in the opening tune Martydom for the Herd, being gradually accompanied by Miguel’s bass and Luís’ drums in an infernal display of Black and Death Metal. And Mário continues to vociferate like a demonic entity in Hubris, with Luís crushing his drums in great fashion. Put differently, it’s a fulminating fusion of Blackened Death Metal with D-Beat Crust elements, whereas Destroy the Shackles of Prejudice is even more devastating than its predecessors, with Renato being on fire with his wicked riffs supported by the kitchen from hell by Miguel and Luís, not to mention how evil Mário sounds once again on vocals. Then after such high level of destruction get ready for two and a half minutes of insanity in the form of extreme music in Human Stupidity, a song that’s absolutely perfect for slamming into the pit while Mário vomits the song’s putrid words.

Conflicting Vanities is ideal for banging your head like a true metal maniac thanks to the visceral beats by Luís in another brutal display of Blackened Death Metal by the quartet that lives up to the legacy of the genre, and there’s no time to breathe as those Portuguese metallers keep delivering sheer dementia and obscurity in Will to Power, with Luís stealing the spotlight with his venomous drums. The Religious Dogma is another demented explosion of Blackened Death Metal made in Portugal where Mário roars and barks rabidly, accompanied by the slashing and rumbling sounds blasted by the band’s stringed duo, whereas the title-track Beyond Human Concepts brings to our avid ears an extreme music extravaganza where all band members showcase their dexterity and passion for heavy music, keeping the album blazing brightly. And last but not least, it’s time for Sea of Thoughts, a sinister outro that puts a proper end to the album (albeit not as vile as the other songs).

You can enjoy such devilish album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, follow Nihility on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, and above all that, grab your copy of Beyond Human Concepts from the band’s own BandCamp page, and from the Vicious Instinct Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (or click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album). In other words, go numb and let your mind go black, let your soul be engulfed and captured by the void, then let this be the vessel for all your pent-up aggression and rage, for this is Nihility and this is the void.

Best moments of the album: Destroy the Shackles of Prejudice, Human Stupidity and The Religious Dogma.

Worst moments of the album: Sea of Thoughts.

Released in 2022 Vicious Instinct Records

Track listing
1. Martydom for the Herd 3:28
2. Hubris 3:04
3. Destroy the Shackles of Prejudice 3:25
4. Human Stupidity 2:28
5. Conflicting Vanities 4:16
6. Will to Power 2:40
7. The Religious Dogma 3:21
8. Beyond Human Concepts 4:33
9. Sea of Thoughts 2:10

Band members
Mário Ferreira – vocals
Renato Barbosa – guitars, backing vocals
Miguel Seewald – bass
Luís Moreira – drums

Album Review – Moonspell / Hermitage (2021)

Portugal’s own Dark Metal institution returns with their thirteenth full-length album, offering us all a revolutionary and epic journey through the darkest days of human existence.

Portugal’s own Dark Metal institution Moonspell is approaching their 30th anniversary more ambitious and stronger than ever, and in order to proper celebrate such important milestone there’s nothing better than savoring each and every track from their newest opus, entitled Hermitage, the thirteenth studio album in their undisputed career. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Paradise Lost, Ghost, Sólstafir) at Orgone Studios and featuring a stylish artwork by Latvian artist Arthur Berzinsh, Hermitage is not only the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2017 album 1755 and their 2015 masterpiece Extinct, but it’s also a revolutionary, wonderfully intuitive and epic journey through the darkest days of human existence masterfully crafted by frontman Fernando Ribeiro, guitarist Ricardo Amorim, keyboardist Pedro Paixão, bassist Aires Pereira and newcomer Hugo Ribeiro on drums, as well as a testament to what they’ve always loved the most, which is honest, emotional metal that binds us even in the darkest times.

Just like the soundtrack to a dark thriller, the opening track The Greater Good will already mesmerize your senses, with the thunderous bass jabs by Aires and the massive beats by Hugo adding heaviness to such atmospheric tune, whereas sheer poetry flows from Fernando’s words (“So close to me, as tight as you can be / Inside the cell / The voice within, the desert wind / Calls out our name / So close, so close”) in Common Prayers, another captivating Gothic Metal aria by Moonspell where Ricardo and Aires are on absolute fire with their stringed weapons, not to mention the epic keys by Pedro. In All or Nothing, the guitars by Ricardo exhale passion and harmony nonstop in a beautiful display of Dark and Melancholic Metal that will please all fans of Moonspell’s most Gothic side, while Fernando is flawless as usual on vocals; and back to a more visceral and atmospheric sonority we’re treated to the dense Hermitage, with Fernando roaring the song’s epic lyrics (“In the circle of life and sin / On this day of apocalypse / On our way to hermitage / It’s the return to innocence”) while Hugo pounds his drums mercilessly. Then the cryptic bass sounds by Aires are intertwined with the classic keys by Pedro in Entitlement, a very melodic tune blending elements from Gothic and Progressive Metal, therefore sounding very experimental at times, with Ricardo taking the lead with his soulful riffs and solos.

It’s time for a fully instrumental voyage through the realms of darkness in the form of Solitarian, offering our ears classic, crying guitars, delicate keys and tribal beats, working as an interlude for the piercing The Hermit Saints, a headbanging extravaganza where all band members are in absolute sync, generating that classy trademark sound found in their latest albums. Moreover, Fernando’s anguished vocals are effectively supported by all background elements, resulting in a lecture in Dark Metal. In Apophthegmata we face an enfolding and smooth start, evolving into a massive sonority where Ricardo and Aires are once again unstoppable with their axes while Hugo showcases all his skills and potency behind his drums and Pedro keeps the ambience as sinister as it can be with his keys; whereas the quintet offers us fans over seven minutes of magnificent Dark Metal titled Without Rule, where the music remains ethereal but at the same time heavy and sharp from start to finish, with Fernando leading his bandmates into the unknown, flowing into the cinematic Black Metal-inspired outro City Quitter, putting a beyond atmospheric conclusion to such multi-layered album. Not only that, if you purchase the superb mediabook or limited deluxe box set versions of Hermitage, you’ll get as a beyond amazing bonus track the song Darkness in Paradise, Moonspell’s cover version for Candlemass’ classic tune from their 1988 album Ancient Dreams (check out the original version HERE), and let me tell you that their tribute to one of the pillars of Doom Metal is just as imposing as the original song, with Fernando stealing the spotlight with his Stygian vocals.

You can enjoy Hermitage in its entirety on Spotify, but this album is so detailed, enfolding and captivating that I highly recommend you purchase a copy of it to add it to your collection of dark and melancholic albums from Moonspell’s BandCamp page or webstore (where you can by the way find the special mediabook edition), or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream this precious gem of contemporary Dark Metal. Needless to say, don’t forget to follow Moonspell on Facebook and on Instagram to keep up to date with all things surrounding one of the most important metal bands of the European scene. As soon as this pandemic is over, we’ll all be able to leave our hermitages, including the guys from Moonspell, and we’ll finally be able to meet them again on stage to stun us all with the impressive creations of their newborn spawn.

Best moments of the album: Common Prayers, Hermitage, The Hermit Saints and Apophthegmata.

Worst moments of the album: Solitarian.

Released in 2021 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. The Greater Good 5:04
2. Common Prayers 4:08
3. All or Nothing 7:22
4. Hermitage 4:43
5. Entitlement 6:16
6. Solitarian 4:07
7. The Hermit Saints 4:22
8. Apophthegmata 5:41
9. Without Rule 7:42
10. City Quitter (Outro) 2:59

Mediabook/Limited Deluxe Box Set bonus track
11. Darkness in Paradise (Candlemass cover) 7:10

Band members
Fernando Ribeiro – vocals
Ricardo Amorim – guitars
Pedro Paixão – keyboards, samples, programming
Aires Pereira – bass
Hugo Ribeiro – drums

Album Review – Onirik / The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity (2020)

A unique Black Metal album that is the consequence of the descent and return from below carrying the flames and lava on its scales, giving it back to the world in posthumous vengeance.

Following up on his highly-acclaimed 2015 album Casket Dream Veneration, Lisbon, Portugal-based Black Metal one-man horde Onirik, the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Gonius Rex, returns with yet another distinct and heavy-as-hell album entitled The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity, the fifth studio album in his solid career. Active since 2002, Onirik has been exploring Black Metal in several approaches, always faithful to its original purpose, the emission of unordinary, dissonant and raw outputs with trance-inducing atmospheres, typically very cold and bathed in magic. With the special guest participation of none other than Dirge Rep on drums (Gehenna, Enslaved, Orcustus, The Konsortium), and mixed and mastered by Semjaza of Thy Darkened Shade at Sitra Ahra Studio, who also took care of the album’s ambient elements, The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity is the consequence of the descent and return from below carrying the flames and lava on its scales, giving it back to the world in posthumous vengeance.

Prepare your senses for six minutes of a classic Norwegian Black Metal inferno in the opening tune Cult Beyond Eternity, where Gonius Rex extracts sheer malignancy from his guitar while gnarling demonically at the same time, and it’s impressive how he is capable of adding so much groove and progressiveness to his Stygian creations such as Trapped in Flesh, Blood and Dirt, piling up additional layers of awesomeness to his already scorching sound while guest Dirge Rep takes care of the violence and brutality with his blast beats. Then our avid ears are penetrated furiously by over nine minutes of a downward spiral into the pits of the underworld together with Gonius Rex entitled Assigned to the Inexorable Flames, with his bass lines sounding utterly demented, groovy and wicked, proving how talented and focused he is at what he does, with the entire song feeling as grandiose and somber as it can be from start to finish.

In Melodies of Reflections and Praise this unearthly entity offers us all a modern yet old school version of Melodic Black Metal infused with Progressive Black Metal elements where Dirge Rep continues to deliver insanity and intricacy through his beats, providing Gonius Rex all he needs to distill his Jazz-inspired bass jabs.  And venturing through the sluggish realms of Doom Metal, Onirik blast the heavy and thunderous Granted the Vision, Molded into Stone, with the bass punches by Gonius Rex allied with the slow and steady beats by Dirge Rep punching us all in the head mercilessly. After such dense extravaganza, and again blending traditional Black Metal with modern-day sounds and a demented atmosphere, we’re treated to an avalanche of darkened sounds for our vulgar delectation in Murmurs of the Aging Vessel, with both Gonius Rex and Dirge Rep being on fire with their respective sonic weapons, whereas back to a more berserk mode Onirik haunt our souls one last time with their infuriated Black Metal in Apathy of Might, and they keep hammering their instruments nonstop until the song’s grand finale.

You can show your support and admiration for Gonius Rex’s alter ego Onirik by following the project on Facebook, and of course by purchasing a copy of such incendiary album from the underground Portuguese scene from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page or from the Metal Odissey webstore in CD or in LP format.  “I have travelled beyond the casket and returned only to illustrate the certain retribution. This time the old ways flow deep like liquefied lava, ready to break the wounds of this earth and resurface in arsonists’ bliss,” cryptically said Gonius Rex about his newborn album, and even if you have no clue what exactly he wanted to say, let me tell you that the best way to understand his eerie words is by playing The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity at top volume and enjoying one of the best releases of the Portuguese underground scene in this obscure year of 2020.

Best moments of the album: Trapped in Flesh, Blood and Dirt and Assigned to the Inexorable Flames.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Cult Beyond Eternity 6:15
2. Trapped in Flesh, Blood and Dirt 4:35
3. Assigned to the Inexorable Flames 9:00
4. Melodies of Reflections and Praise 7:32
5. Granted the Vision, Molded into Stone 6:18
6. Murmurs of the Aging Vessel 6:47
7. Apathy of Might 5:32

Band members
Gonius Rex – vocals, guitars, bass

Guest musicians
Dirge Rep – drums
Semjaza – ambient

Album Review – Barbaric Horde / Axe of Superior Savagery (2020)

An uncanny entity from Portugal is unleashing upon us a savage beast that lives up to the legacy of dirt and raw old school Black Metal.

The gates to the underworld are open in the beautiful city of Lisbon, Portugal, thanks to the venomous and unrelenting fusion of Black and Death Metal played by a mysterious entity that goes by the name of Barbaric Horde, ready to decimate your senses and leave you completely disoriented after the 28 minutes of infernal music found in their debut full-length opus, nicely titled Axe of Superior Savagery, are over. Featuring an old school artwork by Warhead Art and layout by Maciej Kamuda Art, Axe of Superior Savagery is a much bolder beast than their 2016 demo Gasmask Perpetrators and their 2017 demo Tainted Impurity, while at the same time keeping the band’s utterly raw and dirty core musicality intact, therefore living up to the legacy of the early days of Black Metal.

And this uncanny Portuguese entity quickly arises from the pits of hell with the fulminating opening track Tyrant of the Dark Trynity, offering our putrid ears a high dosage of evil in the form of insane blast beats, crude riffs and Stygian vociferations. Put differently, it can’t get any more underground than this, followed by Antichrist Command, bringing forward blasphemous, acid lyrics (“Flames of holocaust unconquerable / A new world alliance / Forged on the caustic fires of vengeance / Hideous fiends throw the kings head to the rats / One by one the knife will do god’s work”) amidst another infernal and visceral display of Black Metal infused with Death Metal elements. Then rumbling, doomed bass lines permeate the air in the also wicked Venomous Infernal Carnage, with extreme aggression flowing from their riffage while the song’s apocalyptic and tribal beats give the overall sonority a sense of despair and violence; and even more disturbing than its predecessors, Barbaric Provocation is a lesson in primeval Black Metal showcasing gruesome gnarls and roars, while the guitars and bass keep reverberating and piercing our ears mercilessly.

Furious and frantic drums dictate the rhythm in the ode to darkness and blasphemy titled Bow Before the Altar of Satan, where razor-edged guitar riffs will cut your skin deep and make you bleed in the name of extreme music, whereas the title-track Axe of Superior Savagery will simply smash your skull with its fusion of the rawest forms of Black and Death Metal. Hence, it couldn’t have sounded more demonic, as if Cannibal Corpse and Mayhem merged into one single entity of pure evil. Vicious guitars and a menacing, bold atmosphere are the main ingredients in the also disturbing chat Storms of Primitive Violence, sounding and feeling berserk and insane form start to finish, also presenting a very raw sound that will please all fans of the genre, before they offer us all one final blast of demented sounds not recommended for the lighthearted in the form of Wrath of Goetic Glorification, where truly demonic growls from the depths of the underworld lead this sick display of pure and unfiltered Black Metal, ending the album on a perturbing note.

Barbaric Horde’s infuriated display of Black and Death Metal can be better appreciated in its entirety on YouTube, and you can also show your support to the underground of the underground by listening to more of their music on Spotify and by purchasing Axe of Superior Savagery from the Godz ov War Productions’ BandCamp or webstore, from Rex Diaboli’s BandCamp or Big Cartel, or from Discogs. This eerie Portuguese horde, which I suspect is formed by two devilish members, is showing a lot of potential with Axe of Superior Savagery, aiming at carving their name in the Portuguese metal scene as one of the most barbaric, inhumane and dirty entities playing our beloved Black Metal, consequently putting a huge smile on Satan’s face for effectively representing him in our decaying and rotten world through their hellish music.

Best moments of the album: Antichrist Command and Bow Before the Altar of Satan.

Worst moments of the album: Venomous Infernal Carnage.

Released in 2020 Godz ov War Productions/Rex Diaboli

Track listing
1. Tyrant of the Dark Trynity 4:23
2. Antichrist Command 3:02
3. Venomous Infernal Carnage 4:32
4. Barbaric Provocation 2:57
5. Bow Before the Altar of Satan 3:27
6. Axe of Superior Savagery 3:03
7. Storms of Primitive Violence 3:34
8. Wrath of Goetic Glorification 3:31

Band members
*Information not available*

Album Review – Colosso / Apocalypse EP (2020)

Pestilence, War, Death and Famine masterfully turned into brutal and obscure Death Metal by a heavier-than-hell unity hailing from Portugal.

What if a vicious horde hailing from Portugal decided to turn the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, the Book of Revelation by John of Patmos, into gruesome and raw Death Metal? That’s exactly what a project formed in 2011, currently comprised of Max Tomé on guitars, keyboards and vocals, Alexandre Ribeiro (Grog) on bass and Robin Stone (Norse) on drums, collectively known as Porto, Portugal-based Death Metal unity Colosso, has to offer us all in their brand new EP simply titled Apocalypse, translating into modern and sharp Death Metal all the darkness flowing from the four riders Pestilence, War, Famine and Death.

After years of toiling in the underground, putting out six releases of ever-evolving Death Metal such as their debut full-length opus Peaceful Abrasiveness, in 2012, and more recently Rebirth, in 2018, Colosso seem to have reached their most demonic shape and form in Apocalypse, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Norse, Morbid Angel, Nile, Incantation and Suffocation, among other behemoths of extreme music. Mixed and mastered by Max Tomé himself, and featuring a beyond obscure album art by Phlegeton Art Studio, as well as guest vocals by Guilherme Henriques of Oak and Gaerea, Diogo Santana of Analepsy, and Sérgio Afonso of Bleeding Display, Apocalypse is an undoubtedly breathtaking and refreshingly diverse album, showcasing the myriad aspects of this bold and innovative Death Metal band without compromising on their aggressive, apocalyptic sound.

And pestilence and plague permeate the air in the vicious and heavy-as-hell Pestilence, blending the violence of Death Metal with the grim and infernal sounds of Blackened Doom while guest vocalist Guilherme Henriques barks and roars like a creature from the netherworld. Not only that, Robin smashes his drums mercilessly nonstop, with that disturbing and evil onrush of sounds going on and on until the song’s visceral ending. Then guest Sérgio Afonso lends his guttural vocals to Colosso in the also Stygian tune War, with the sounds of machine guns and explosions making the whole song even more realistic, leaning towards classic Death Metal. Moreover, Alexandre’s bass jabs and Robin’s beats feel like the epitome of evil, resulting in a pulverizing display of extreme music for lovers of the genre.

Max himself is responsible for the vocal duties in Death, a lot more melodic and crisper than its predecessors while still providing the band’s characteristic rawness and darkness. Furthermore, Max is spot-on with his razor-edged riffs accompanied by Robin’s intricate drums and, as a surprise, Max fires clean, ethereal vocals instead of the album’s characteristic putrid gnarls, bringing elements from Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal to Colosso’s core savagery. And last but not least, Diogo Santana provides his share of deep guttural roars to Famine, where the band gets back to their most demented and hellish mode, showcasing all band members in total sync led by Max’s strident riffs, while Robin sounds like a stone crusher on drums and, as a consequence, flirting with Brutal Death Metal at times.

In summary, if you’re an admirer of the meanest and heaviest side of Death Metal you must give these Portuguese metallers a very good try as Max and his henchmen have all it takes to explode your mind and darken your soul with their brand new installment Apocalypse, which by the way will soon be available from the band’s own BandCamp page and from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in distinct formats such as the awesome T-shirt + CD + Digital Download bundle. Also, don’t forget to show your support to Colosso by following them on Facebook and by listening to more of their somber creations on Spotify. As the four dreadful figures in the Book of Revelation who symbolize the evils to come at the end of the world get closer and closer to us, there’s nothing better than the avalanche of Death Metal roars crafted by Colosso to provide them a warm and friendly welcome, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: War and Famine.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Pestilence 8:14
2. War 4:07
3. Death 4:11
4. Famine 4:14

Band members
Max Tomé – guitars, keyboards, vocals on “Death”
Alexandre Ribeiro – bass
Robin Stone – drums

Guest musicians
Guilherme Henriques – vocals on “Pestilence”
Sérgio Afonso – vocals on “War”
Diogo Santana – vocals on “Famine”

Album Review – Cronaxia / Collapsing The Outer Structure (2018)

After two decades of their inception, this talented Portuguese Death Metal squad is finally unleashing upon humanity their pulverizing and very technical debut opus.

Born in the distant year of 1997 in the capital city Lisbon, Portuguese Death Metal horde Cronaxia has been fighting for extreme music in the fantastic Portuguese underground scene since their inception, never giving up despite all their struggles to find the right musicians and finally solidify their lineup and sound through the years. Currently a trio consisting of Sérgio on vocals and Renato and Filipe on the guitars, Cronaxia recruited bassist Alex Ribeiro and drummer Rolando Barros (both from Portuguese Brutal Death Metal/Grindcore band Grog) now in 2018 to give life to their first full-length album, a pulverizing and very technical lesson in Death Metal titled Collapsing the Outer Structure, highly recommended for fans of bands like early Kataklysm, Morbid Angel and Deeds Of Flesh.

Mixed and mastered by Paulo Vieira, known for his production work with Ironsword and Ravensire, Collapsing The Outer Structure is a work that walks the tightrope between genius and insanity, with songs like the jagged, restless “Dimension Ratio” being a vivid explosion of mind warping ideas. Immersed within these eight conceptual whirlwinds, the feeling is akin to having the secrets of the universe downloaded directly to your cerebral cortex in a fraction of a second. Bewildering yet incredible, almost too much to comprehend, you will find few listening experiences as overwhelming and intense as Collapsing The Outer Structure. It may have taken Cronaxia two decades to reach this defining moment, but now that their planets have aligned the force that has been unleashed is momentous and breathtaking.

In the title-track Collapsing the Outer Structure we already face total devastation in less than five seconds, with Rolando living up to the legacy of classic stone crushers of Death Metal while frontman Sérgio growls and barks like a rabid beast, sounding frantic and furious from start to finish. If this brutal welcome card is not enough for your metallic ears, Cronaxia don’t waste a single second and keep hammering our heads with their ruthless music in Logarithmic Cavitation, an insanely violent, heavy and extreme display of underground music made in Portugal where Felipe and Renato are in total sync with their lancinating riffs and solos, followed by The Core Condition, another brutish and demolishing hymn showcasing thunderous bass lines by Alex while the vocal lines get deeper and more demented than before, sounding and feeling as dense as Extreme Metal can be but also being very technical and polished. And get ready to be smashed by Cronaxia and their sharp and cataclysmic Death Metal in Dimension Ratio, where Rolando fires some sick blast beast and fills while Felipe and Renato continue to extract complex and demonic sounds and tones from their guitars.

The awesome Continuous Signal brings forward a pulverizing atmosphere crafted by the band, being tailored for fans of the early days of Cannibal Corpse with a fresh twist, not to mention Sérgio never gets tired of vociferating rabidly and deeply. Then it’s time for a galloping and demented composition titled Embryonic Reanimation, led by the bestial drumming by Rolando while Felipe and Renato show no mercy for their guitars (neither for our necks), whereas their second to last onrush of gruesome and very technical and melodic sounds comes in the form of Plasmatech, crushing our senses with its metallic riffs and unstoppable blast beats. Put differently, what a devastating (and absolutely awesome) Death Metal extravaganza by Cronaxia, with highlights to Sérgio’s cavernous growls. Hence, if you’re still alive after such demented level of aggression and dexterity by Cronaxia you’ll have your ears and mind decimated by Tangential Threshold, offering six minutes of deep guttural gnarls, nonstop beats and extremely sharp and acid riffs, or in other words, a lesson in Progressive and Technical Death Metal, ending the album in a rumbling, neck-breaking and somewhat esoteric manner.

In order to have your ears smashed by Cronaxia, simply go to Spotify to listen to Collapsing The Outer Structure in its entirety, and if their music makes your blood boil as expected, you should definitely show them your utmost support by following them on Facebook, subscribing to their YouTube channel, and grabbing your copy of the album from their BandCamp page, from the Lusitania Music webstore, from Amazon or from Discogs. By doing that, you’ll prove you have what it takes to “collapse the outer structure” together with this talented Portuguese squad in the name of Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: Dimension Ratio, Continuous Signal and Plasmatech.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Lusitanian Music

Track listing
1. Collapsing the Outer Structure 2:07
2. Logarithmic Cavitation 4:03
3. The Core Condition 4:11
4. Dimension Ratio 3:43
5. Continuous Signal 3:34
6. Embryonic Reanimation 3:02
7. Plasmatech 4:39
8. Tangential Threshold 6:03

Band members
Sérgio – vocals
Felipe – guitars, vocals
Renato – guitars, vocals

Guest musicians
Alex Ribeiro – bass (session)
Rolando Barros – drums (session)

Album Review – Beyond Carnage / Profane Sounds Of The Flesh EP (2018)

Aiming at creating a heavy and apocalyptic noise, with their old school Death Metal inspirations generating a filthy and powerful landscape, here comes a promising Portuguese horde crushing us all with their pulverizing debut opus.

Founded in the year of 2015 in the Portuguese capital Lisbon under the name Extreme Carnage, the pulverizing Death Metal five-piece horde known as Beyond Carnage has just released their debut opus, a five-track EP entitled Profane Sounds Of The Flesh, conceived with the aim to create a heavy and apocalyptic noise, with their old school Death Metal inspirations generating a filthy and powerful landscape. Having two of its tracks strongly inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft as well as European pagan legends, while the rest of the EP relies on an apocalyptic vision with a blackened atmosphere trapped in a paradox of organized chaos, Profane Sounds Of The Flesh is an amazingly aggressive welcome card by Beyond Carnage, accrediting the band as one of the most interesting new names of the Portuguese extreme music scene.

And the band comprised of vocalist João Colosso, guitarists Luís Correia and João Amado, bassist Inês Coelho and drummer Luis Abreu waste no time in their quest for Death Metal, as it’s time for total devastation with this talented Portuguese act to the sound of the opening track Infectious Parasitic Fungal God, with João Colosso almost vomiting the lyrics with his cavernous growls, while the band’s guitar duo will crush your spine with their demented riffs, bringing pure old school Death Metal for your avid ears. Then in the mid-tempo, demonic tune titled Necro Wizard, simply break your goddamn neck to the sluggish beats by Luis and the heavy and scorching guitar riffs, with Inês adding her personal dosage of obscurity to the music with her low-tuned bass.

And the band offers more of their straightforward Death Metal in Curse Of The Burning Rain, pounding their instruments like creatures of the dark, with the deep growls by João Colosso becoming as devilish as they can be, urging us all to slam into the pit to the sonic havoc blasted by the entire band. After such demented level of destruction, we have the even more disturbing Prophecy From A World Beyond, inspired by classic Death Metal the likes of Unleashed and Six Feet Under, with the band’s stringed trio Luis, João Amado and Inês giving a lesson in violence and gore, sounding raw and aggressive just the way we like it (not to mention João Colosso’s vile and putrid roars). And closing the album we have more of the band’s reverberating Death Metal with the song R´lyeh, Mother Of All Abominations, another killer metal feast where Luis showcases an amazing performance on drums, alternating between more rhythmic, potent beats and faster passages.

As previously mentioned, Profane Sounds Of The Flesh, available for a full listen on YouTube or on Spotify, has all the elements needed to turn it into a mandatory listen for fans of underground Death Metal, being an exciting sample of what we can expect from Bayond Carnage in the near future. In order to show those Portuguese metallers your support, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase Profane Sounds Of The Flesh directly from their BandCamp page, as well as from the Firecum Records’ webshop or from Discogs. In the end, you’ll feel disoriented and completely smashed after listening to the 25 minutes of brutality blasted by Beyond Carnage throughout the album, exactly what your metal soul was craving, as that’s what good Death Metal is all about.

Best moments of the album: Curse Of The Burning Rain and Prophecy From A World Beyond.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Firecum Records

Track listing 
1. Infectious Parasitic Fungal God 5:18
2. Necro Wizard 4:40
3. Curse Of The Burning Rain 5:07
4. Prophecy From A World Beyond 3:41
5. R´lyeh, Mother Of All Abominations 7:02

Band members
João Colosso – vocals
Luís Correia – guitars
João Amado – guitars
Inês Coelho – bass
Luis Abreu – drums

Album Review – Moonspell / 1755 (2017)

An orchestral and emotional concept album sang completely in Portuguese that will take you to the year of the horror when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon.

The year of 1755 marks the year of the horror when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon, when almost 100 thousand souls lost their lives, and this tragic event is still considered one of the most disastrous catastrophes in European history and nature. Now in 2017, in remembrance of the victims and the band’s hometown, the 1755 Lisbon earthquake was turned into a vicious, rip-roaring concept album straightforwardly titled 1755, the twelfth full-length studio release by Portuguese Dark Metal masters Moonspell, an orchestral and emotional adventure sang completely in Portuguese (which gives the whole album an additional poetic touch) that will transport your mind and soul to November 1, 1755, the holy day of All Saints’ Day and the day that the earth shook like never before in Lisbon.

There are a few remarkable differences between 1755 and Moonspell’s latest releases such as Night Eternal, Alpha Noir/Omega White and especially Extinct, as the band “distanced” themselves a little from the more Gothic and melodic approach from the past decade to venture through the realms of symphonic and epic sounds, and the final result couldn’t be more breathtaking. Featuring a lavish artwork by Portuguese artist João Diogo (Dramafall), 1755 might not be an easy listen at first for newcomers to the world of Moonspell or even to longtime fans of the band who don’t know a single word in Portuguese, but the final result is so compelling, sharp and cohesive I’m sure the whole album will grow on you until it becomes a mandatory part of your day-to-day playlist.

When I first saw the tracklist for 1755 I asked myself why they added one of their old songs as the opening track of the album, but after hitting play everything made sense. Em Nome Do Medo (or “in the name of fear”) is an obscure, haunting and absolutely awesome orchestral version for their biggest classic sung in Portuguese, from their 2012 album Alpha Noir/Omega White (take a listen at the original version HERE), with highlights to the superb job done by guest musician Jon Phipps (who actually created the orchestrations for the whole album) and the insanely beautiful choir (comprised of the amazing Crystal Mountain Singers and Tristania’s own Mariangela Dermutas) that accompanies frontman Fernando Ribeiro and his piercing vocals, and that epic aura of darkness goes on in the title-track 1755, where keyboardist Pedro Paixão delivers as usual some insane keys that complement the guitar sounds flawlessly. And what to say about Ricardo Amorim’s souful guitar solo? Put differently, I simply can’t wait to witness Moonspell playing this metallic opera live. And leaning towards a more metallic, rockin’ vein we have the threatening In Tremor Dei (or “fear Of God”), presenting the band’s characteristic Dark Metal with Fernando being beautifully supported by guest vocalist Paulo Bragança (who supplies the trenchant voice of a Fado fallen angel who is a big part of the Portuguese culture), with the song’s lyrics perfectly depicting the fire, wreckage, despair and death that took over Lisbon that day.

Desastre (the Portuguese word for “disaster”) gets closer to what the band did in Night Eternal, with Fernando’s growls sounding deeper and more enraged as he screams the word “culpado” (or “guilty” in English) with all his fury. Furthermore, the beats by drummer Miguel Gaspar will hit you hard inside your mind, showing how acute the entire album is. Then orchestral elements shine in another great display of Dark Metal blended with classical music titled Abanão (which means “quake” or “shakeup”), where Pedro once again boosts the song’s epicness with his keyboards while Miguel and bassist Aires Pereira live up to the song’s name with their rumbling beats and bass punches, respectively; followed by Evento (or “event”), where Moonspell keep blending their own sonority from Night Eternal with Memorial and more intense elements from orchestral music, not to mention how its lyrics showcase the thin line between love and hate people experience with religion. It’s another one of the top moments of the album, and needless to say it should also sound fantastic if played live. And 1 De Novembro (or “1st of November”), in reference to the day the earthquake happened, brings forward a more contemporary version of Moonspell where Fernando’s voice sounds considerably different than usual and where tons of heaviness and epicness arise due to the excellent job done by Pedro and Miguel on keys and drums.

1755 Deluxe Box

Then infused with modern Gothic and Dark Metal similar to what they did in the darkest and most melancholic tracks of Alpha Noir/Omega White, but with an epic twist, Ruínas (or “ruins”) displays an 80’s-inspired rhythm where the bass lines by Aires sound ominous, with its lyrics passionately declaimed by Fernando transmitting a true sense of hopelessness, setting the tone for Todos Os Santos (or “all saints”), one of the strongest tracks of the album and the musical depiction of the eternal war between men and God. Its thrilling guitars combined with the powerful vocals by Fernando and its thunderous backing vocals result in top-notch Moonspell music, also presenting a catchy-as-hell chorus (even if you don’t know anything in Potuguese) in a beyond perfect closing to such sad and important event in the history of Portugal. As a matter of fact, there’s still one more song in the regular version of the album, their cover version for Brazilian rock band Os Paralamas do Sucesso’s hit Lanterna Dos Afogados (listen to the original song HERE), feeling more like a “bonus” than a regular track and sounding very somber, melancholic and touching, with Fernando giving a lesson in dark vocals. Moreover, if you go with any of the special editions of 1755, you’ll also be treated to the Spanish version of Desastre, which according to Moonspell themselves is a homage to all their Spanish-speaking fans around the world, as in the late 18th century a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese was spoken in the streets of Lisbon.

What Moonspell did in 1755, turning all devastation, death and grief from the 1755 Lisbon earthquake into first-class art, is not only terrific musically speaking, but it also proves that the human being is capable of finding beauty even in the most adverse moments, and I guess that’s some sort of subliminal message the band wanted to send us all with this excellent album. With that said, go grab your favorite version of 1755 at the Napalm Records webshop, or at the band’s own BandCamp page or official European webstore, and learn more about one of the saddest and most terrifying day in the history of Portugal. 1755 might be known as the year of the horror, as the year when God abandoned the people of Lisbon, but at least we have Moonspell to properly tell that grim story to us all and to soothe our hearts and souls forevermore with their undisputed Dark Metal.

Best moments of the album: 1755, In Tremor Dei, Evento and Todos Os Santos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Em Nome Do Medo 5:32
2. 1755 5:12
3. In Tremor Dei 4:26
4. Desastre 3:22
5. Abanão 4:08
6. Evento 4:43
7. 1 De Novembro 3:53
8. Ruínas 4:45
9. Todos Os Santos 5:10
10. Lanterna Dos Afogados (Os Paralamas do Sucesso cover) 6:30

Deluxe Box/Digipak/Limited Edition/Japanese Edition bonus track
11. Desastre (Spanish Version) 3:36

Band members
Fernando Ribeiro – vocals
Ricardo Amorim – guitars
Pedro Paixão – keyboards, guitars
Aires Pereira – bass
Miguel Gaspar – drums

Guest musicians
Jon Phipps – orchestrations
Paulo Bragança – vocals on “In Tremor Dei”
Martin Lopez – darbuka in “1755”
Crystal Mountain Singers (Carmen Simões, Alexandra Bernardo, Silvia Guerreiro) and Mariangela Dermutas – choirs

Album Review – Viles Vitae / IV EP (2017)

The four basic elemental principles from ritual magic converted into four powerful and tempestuous compositions by a new horde of experienced Portuguese black metallers.

Rating5

frontcover_vilesvitaeThere’s a new entity arising from the underworld of Portuguese Black Metal that goes by the name of Viles Vitae, or “worthless life” from Latin, who are unleashing upon humanity their debut EP simply titled IV, offering fans of extreme music the four basic elemental principles still used in ritual magic converted into four powerful and tempestuous compositions. Four elements, four songs, or as stated by the band, “a crescendo of feelings and cyclical repetitions to elevate thy souls of the dead straight to the heart of the listener.”

Although the band was brought into being only in 2015 in the capital city of Lisbon, Portugal, Viles Vitae are no beginners at all. Featuring experienced and known members of the underground Portuguese scene, this sinful power trio delivers in IV exactly what they wanted to expose, which is the primary spirit of Black Metal crafted from the heart. After facing the somber album art designed by Fábio Infante, you’ll already feel death and darkness growing inside you, but it’s when the music starts that you’ll finally understand how Stygian and complex the creations by Viles Vitae are.

The first track of the EP, The Vortex of Disharmony, begins is an atmospheric way, with background noises taking us to a desolate world before the guitar sounds by Belial Necro slowly impregnate the air together with the bestial drumming by Deimos. Moreover, this macabre and devilish fusion of Blackened Doom and Black Metal is definitely not recommended for the lighthearted, with Vulturius gnarling in the most hellish form possible. Leaning towards a more traditional Black Metal sounding, Sunless Redeemer brings forward demonic and steady blast beats that end up developing the desired ambience for the demon-like vociferations by Vulturius, turning the overall result into a dark hymn of extreme music that brings absolutely no hope to our hearts.

viles-vitae-25Highly influenced by obscure Doom Metal, Source Life Extinction presents a funereal vibe and a menacing musicality, with Belial Necro making sure his riffs sound as vile as possible. This sensational composition by Viles Vitae is not only very impactful and heavier than hell, but also the perfect example of what this demonic horde can offer us all in their future releases. The fourth and last song of the EP, named Theory of Deconstruction, is their most complex and multilayered creation, where Vulturius continues to blast his harsh growls while Deimos gets more blackened than ever on drums. Furthermore, transpiring blasphemy and hatred, the song’s howling wolves and background choir will hypnotize you for the last four minutes of this aria of darkness and despair.

The four basic elemental principles from ritual magic explored by Viles Vitae are available for purchase at the Caverna Abismal Records’ BandCamp page, and soon through their webshop as well. And in case you’re fond of the most obscure side of extreme music just like what is crafted by this amazing horde from Portugal, go check their Facebook page for more details and news about their current work, tour dates and future plans. After the spawn of the ominous IV, I wonder what type of malignancy the talented Vulturius, Belial Necro and Deimos are preparing as the next step in their career and, while we wait for it, the potent music from IV can keep us more than entertained without a shadow of a doubt.

Best moments of the album: Source Life Extinction.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Caverna Abismal Records

Track listing
1. The Vortex of Disharmony 5:30
2. Sunless Redeemer 5:50
3. Source Life Extinction 6:15
4. Theory of Deconstruction 12:28

Band members
Vulturius – vocals
Belial Necro – guitars
Deimos – drums

Concert Review – Epica & Moonspell (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 01/22/2016)

An electrifying fusion of Melodic Death Metal, Dark Metal and Symphonic Metal from distinct parts of the world storms the Opera House in Toronto in a memorable celebration of music.

OPENING ACT: Starkill

The North American Enigma PosterAlthough the winter hasn’t been too harsh so far in the city of Toronto this year, there’s nothing better than warming it up even more with some high-quality metal music from different parts of the world, all at the same place and time, don’t you agree? That’s what happened this Friday at the nice and cozy The Opera House, where fans could witness the riveting fusion of Melodic Death Metal from the United States, Dark Metal from Portugal and Symphonic Metal from the Netherlands on a cold but (thankfully) snowless night.

And I was finally able to get a full concert in Toronto from the very first second, without missing anything, starting with the young and restless metallers from STARKILL. Still promoting their latest album, the good Virus of the Mind, from 2014, this talented American quartet distilled their Melodic Death Metal in a precise way, warming up the crowd for the main attractions yet to come. Lead singer/guitarist Parker Jameson and guitarist Tony Keathley seemed very comfortable on stage and also among the crowd right after their concert was over, having a few beers with their fans, therefore showing how humble these guys are too. Despite adding a couple of nice unreleased songs to their setlist (entitled Burn Your World and Cloudless), in my opinion they truly thrived with songs from their two studio albums, in special the excellent Be Dead or Die and Fires of Life. I just wish they had played a faster song such as “Breaking the Madness” or “Skyward” instead of Before Hope Fades to close the show, but that was just a minor detail in their solid overall performance.

Setlist
Be Dead or Die
Burn Your World
Cloudless
Fires of Life
Virus of the Mind
Before Hope Fades

Band members
Parker Jameson – lead guitar, vocals
Tony Keathley – guitar, backing vocals
Shaun Andruchuk – bass guitar
Spencer Weidner – drums

MOONSPELL

IMG_1037About 24 hours before the moon in the city transitioned from First Quarter to Full Moon, and after an interesting alternate version of La Bafomette working as an intro, the iconic Portuguese Dark Metal wolf pack MOONSPELL stormed the Opera House with their obscurity, heaviness, electricity and undisputed talent. I really don’t know what to say about their performance so perfect it was. Perhaps that it took me too long to watch those old school Gothic metallers live for the first time? Anyway, their live concert is so damn brilliant it feels like an enhanced version of their studio albums, especially the performance by frontman Fernando Ribeiro. There’s so much passion emanating from his voice, either through his deep clean vocals, through his powerful growls or through his “real-time poetry” (or even when he made a joke about the guys from Starkill being so young they could be his children),  that it’s impossible not to get completely mesmerized and stunned by him during the entire show.

IMG_1032Of course, the rest of the band contributes enormously to the perfection of their music, with highlights to the polished and soulful riffs and solos by guitarist Ricardo Amorim, and to the sinister notes by keyboardist Pedro Paixão. There’s an absolute attention to detail coming from each musician involved, turning the experience of seeing Moonspell live into something unique. In addition, when you have such a masterpiece like their 2015 album Extinct guiding the setlist, with incredible compositions like Breathe (Until We Are No More), Extinct and The Last of Us complementing their old classics Night Eternal, Opium, Vampiria and Full Moon Madness, it’s extremely easy to put a sincere smile on the faces of the fans that attended the concert.

My only complaint is that their setlist was way too short and didn’t live up to their dark legacy. When the show was over after a little less than one hour, I was eager for more of their Gothic Metal, something you can expect from such an amazing band with a dazzling career like Moonspell. Well, they haven’t risen to stardom for no reason, right? If they had another 20 or 30 minutes to showcase more of their beautiful music, maybe by adding songs like “White Skies” and “Scorpion Flower” to their setlist, the night was going to be epic and, more important than that, more than eternal for us mere mortals. I cannot wait to see the “gajos” from Monspell live again, and next time, before the lights go out and before our time is gone, they better be the headliners or we riot!

Setlist
La Bafomette (Intro)
Breathe (Until We Are No More)
Extinct
Night Eternal
Opium
Awake
The Last of Us
Funeral Bloom
Vampiria
Alma Mater
Full Moon Madness

Band members
Fernando Ribeiro – vocals
Ricardo Amorim – guitars
Pedro Paixão – keyboards
Aires Pereira – bass
Miguel Gaspar – drums

EPICA

IMG_1069However, as most fans at the venue were there to see the main attraction of the night, the Dutch metallers from EPICA, I had to cope with the fact Moonspell’s concert was over and get ready for another good performance by the red-haired bombshell Simone Simons and her loyal crew. Due to personal reasons, they had to cancel their concerts in Toronto, Chicago and Minneapolis last September, which is why I believe their fans at the Opera House were so excited this Friday night.

Blending old classics with newer songs from their 2014 album The Quantum Enigma, Epica captivated the hearts of most people at the venue, with Simone connecting every single moment with the fans. As it happened with Moonspell, songs like The Second Stone and The Essence of Silence, despite not being classics yet, set fire to the crowd and boosted even more the impact of their classics, creating a very positive atmosphere among the crowd. And what can I say about the weird keyboards by Coen Janssen? What the hell was that? I mean, it looks cheesy, but it ends up working well with the music. If you like Epica, you know what I’m talking about.

IMG_1066There was just one minor issue with Epica’s performance, that being Moonspell. Well, not actually Moonspell, but the quality of the sound by the Portuguese metallers was way above what Epica provided the fans, which in the end felt odd. Sometimes their music sounded a bit muffled or tangled, not as clean as their studio versions, with Simone’s voice sounding lower (and almost inaudible in some moments) than all instruments. Nothing that could diminish the excitement among the fans at the venue, though, and obviously nothing that would make the night less memorable. If that mix of different subgenres of heavy music from distinct countries will ever happen again, only time will tell. In the meantime, all that’s left for us is keep those good moments deep in our hearts and wait until these bands come back to Toronto (especially Moonspell, in my case) for another shot of top-notch Heavy Metal.

Setlist
Originem (Intro)
The Second Stone
The Essence of Silence
Sensorium
Unleashed
Martyr of the Free Word
Cry for the Moon (with drum solo)
Storm the Sorrow
The Last Crusade
The Obsessive Devotion
Victims of Contingency
Design Your Universe

Encore:
Sancta Terra
Unchain Utopia
Consign to Oblivion

Band members
Simone Simons – lead vocals
Mark Jansen – rhythm guitar, harsh vocals
Isaac Delahaye – lead guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Rob van der Loo – bass guitar
Coen Janssen – keyboards, piano
Ariën van Weesenbeek – drums, harsh vocals