Album Review – Stratovarius / Survive (2022)

One of the pillars of Finnish heavy music returns with a fantastic album of first-class Melodic Power Metal, proving they’re still standing strong after almost 40 years on the road.

At long last, after several years waiting for new material from the one and only Finnish Melodic Power Metal institution Stratovarius, the band has finally unleashed their new album, the excellent Survive, following up on their also great 2015 effort Eternal. Produced by the band’s own guitarist Matias Kupiainen, mixed also by Matias at 5 by 5 Studio and Estúdio Eiffel, mastered by Ermin Hamidovic at Systematic Productions, and displaying a classy artwork by Hungarian artist Gyula Havancsák, Survive has all elements we learned to love in the music by Stratovarius without sounding cheesy or outdated, showcasing vocalist Timo Kotipelto, guitarist Matias Kupiainen, keyboardinst Jens Johansson, bassist Lauri Porra and drummer Rolf Pilve on absolute fire from start to finish and, therefore, placing the album as one of the best of 2022 hands down.

Matias wastes no time and begin his riff attack in the title-track Survive, kicking off the album on a very high note while also displaying a fantastic vocal performance by Timo and the unstoppable Power Metal drums by Rolf, and more of their striking Melodic Power Metal comes in the form of Demand, presenting their always inspiring lyrics (“Feel the fury / And demonstrate the pain / Show them your anger and despair / Fear the future / For fighting is in vain / It comes for you, unbearable, unthinkable”); whereas the unrelenting Jens adds a touch of magic to the music in Broken, while Timo declaims the song’s powerful words flawlessly. Firefly, one of the first singles of the album, exhales classic Stratovarius with Lauri delivering sheer groove from his bass accompanied by the pounding beats by Rolf, and keeping the album at a very pleasant level of energy we have We Are Not Alone, where once again Matias and Jens are in absolute sync with their respective riffs and keys. Then in Frozen in Time we face a less “power” and more rhythmic, melodic tune by Stratovarius, presenting a great job done by Rolf on drums while overflowing intricacy and groove.

It’s then time for the first single of the album, the absolute banger World on Fire, where Timo is the one on fire with his soaring vocals while Matias delivers an amazing dosage of stamina through his riffs and solos; followed by Glory Days, where Timo beautifully sings the song’s powerful words (“We are the war / We are the storm / A lightning that lights up the sky / We are the wind / We are the rain / We are the howl in the night”) while the music is a fusion of the band’s past and present sound, feeling absolutely thrilling until the very last second. They tried to be more symphonic than usual in the power ballad Breakaway, which is not bad, but it lacks the same punch as the rest of the album; then raise your fists to the imposing Before the Fall, with its background vocals bringing even more electricity to the overall result while Matias kicks ass on the guitars and Rolf doesn’t stop crushing his drums. Lastly, get ready for 11 minutes of serene passages, melodic riffs and blasting drums as the icing on the cake with Voice of Thunder, where Jens takes the lead with his futuristic keys while his bandmates enfold us all in a Melodic Power Metal voyage, flowing smoothly and majestically until it’s classy finale.

Survive is available in all of its glory on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course you should purchase a copy of such amazing album by clicking HERE or HERE. The unparalleled Stratovarius, who are waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, might have taken seven years to release a new album, but the wait was absolutely worth it as Survive not only brings forward everything we love in their music, but it also presents a band that’s sharper, tighter and more focused than ever, brilliantly surviving in a genre that’s considered oversaturated by most people. Are Stratovarius the best band to ever arise from Finland? In my humble opinion, yes, no doubt about that, but even the ones who don’t agree with me have to admit that they’re indeed one of the most solid bands of the current metal scene, and Survive is another clear example of how strong and relevant the band still is and will forever be.

Best moments of the album: Survive, Demand, World on Fire and Glory Days.

Worst moments of the album: Breakaway.

Released in 2022 earMusic

Track listing
1. Survive 4:39
2. Demand 4:03
3. Broken 4:57
4. Firefly 3:38
5. We Are Not Alone 4:34
6. Frozen in Time 6:43
7. World on Fire 4:26
8. Glory Days 5:06
9. Breakaway 4:28
10. Before the Fall 4:15
11. Voice of Thunder 11:10

Band members
Timo Kotipelto – vocals
Matias Kupiainen – guitars
Jens Johansson – keyboards
Lauri Porra – bass
Rolf Pilve – drums

Guest musicians
Ari Sievälä, Petri Aho, Hepa Waara, Mikko Herranen, Anssi Stenberg, Viljami Holopainen, Mikael Salo, Heikki Mäkäräinen, Antti Lappalainen & Jani Liimatainen – vocals (choirs)

Metal Chick of the Month – Tatiana Shmayluk

Booyakah, Tatiana!

As The Headbanging Moose is celebrating nine years of existence this month of October, there’s nothing better than offering the first slice of our cake to a woman who’s undoubtedly the most important name of all time from the Ukrainian rock and metal scene, and I would dare to say even from the entire music scene in Ukraine. Born on March 15, 1987 in Horlivka, or Gorlovka, a city located in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, she’s a singer and songwriter better known as the frontwoman for Groove Metal/Metalcore act Jinjer since 2010, kicking some serious ass wherever she goes armed with both her furious roars and mesmerizing clean vocals. I’m talking about the one and only Tatiana Shmayluk, a multi-talented and humble woman who’s also a role model to countless girls out there who want to find in heavy music a way to express all of their feelings, hopes and frustrations, and I’m sure you’ll get addicted to her vocals and her music after reading this tribute to her.

Long before becoming the face of Jinjer, Tatiana was already singing and screaming according to her own mother, always listening to Russian and Ukrainian pop songs she heard on the radio. “My mother told me I started screaming when I was a very little girl. I screamed so loud I had a hernia in my belly.” Furthermore, one of her favorite songs from her childhood was the 1989 dance song Lambada, by French-Brazilian group Kaoma, which she mentioned she still sings along to it with great joy, although she doesn’t know Portuguese. She then began singing more seriously at the age of eight, taking vocal lessons for a couple of months and making her onstage debut that year in a concert hall with a choir. “The songs were accompanied with dancing. I was very nervous, and of course I screwed it up because of the dancing. So I said, ‘Never again.’ I cannot do synchronic dancing with someone else. I need to do it alone so I can control the whole thing,” commented Tatiana, who also said that it was her older brother, who was a guitar player to a Doom Metal band, who introduced her to metal music, more specifically to Aria, the long-running Moscow metal outfit hailed as the “Iron Maiden of Russia.”

Proudly carrying the flag of modern-day metal music to all four corner of the earth, Jinjer were formed back in 2008 in Donetsk, but the band considers their official start with the addition of Tatiana and guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov in 2010. None of the founding members remain with the band, with the current lineup being comprised of the aforementioned Tatiana on vocals and Roman on the guitars, together with Eugene Abdukhanov on bass and Vladislav Ulasevish on drums. Influenced by countless renewned acts the likes of Opeth, Guano Apes, Slayer, Death, Pantera, Anathema, Lamb of God, Gojira and Twelve Foot Ninja, as well as groups across the spectrum of R&B, soul, funk, jazz, reggae, and hip-hop, such as Cypress Hill and House of Pain, the band has already released four studio albums in their career, those being their 2014 debut Cloud Factory, their 2016 sophomore album King of Everything, and more recently their 2019 opus Macro and their 2021 critically acclaimed album Wallflowers, all of which have reached number one in their native Ukraine, while also seeing a total of 16 singles, six of which reached the top of the Ukrainian charts and one of which, Pisces, became a global hit and has to date sold over 20 million copies. In addition, they’ve also released three EP’s, those being Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (2009), Inhale, Do Not Breathe (2012) and Micro (2019), and the 2020 live album Alive in Melbourne. You can enjoy several of their best compositions on YouTube, such as Vortex, Judgement (& Punishment), Wallflower, Home Back, Sit Stay Roll Over, and Who Is Gonna Be The One, as well as their full ass-kicking performance live at Resurrection Fest in Viveiro, Spain, in 2018, among many, many other awesome videos, and don’t forget to also stream their full discography on Spotify.

Unfortunately, not long after the ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian military, anti-government protestors and pro-Russian rebels began in 2014, Tatiana and her bandmates had to escape Donetsk, moving to a suburb near the city of Lviv around 800 miles away, not far from the Polish border. “”But we got bored there because it’s a city for tourists,” explained Tatiana. “We rented a house but it was impossible to live there because there were problems with water, with electricity, heating. So that’s why we moved to a more civilized place.” Furthermore, when asked about what makes Jinjer uniquely Ukrainian, she said that because the band comes from a land where kindness equals weakness, a tough country for everyone including their parents, especially in the 90’s, the band members became really grind and tough. For instance, she mentioned that Ukrainians don’t go to a doctor if something hurts, for example, enduring the pain until the end. That’s one of the reasons why the band tries to never cancel any of their concerts and tours, even if it’s impossible to play, showing how strong and determined they are.

Apart from her undisputed career with Jinjer, you can also find Tatiana as a guest vocalist in an array of distinct albums and songs, including the songs Through the Never (I Will Return) and Horror of Daniel Wagner, from the 2022 album Horror of Daniel Wagner, by Ukrainian Heavy/Power Metal band Morton; the song Find My Way, released in 2022 by American Modern Metal band Lions At The Gate; the song Over and Out, released in 2021 by Australian Heavy Rock band Twelve Foot Ninja; and my favorite of all those tracks, the pulverizing Hello Death, from the 2022 album Cancer Culture, released by Polish Death/Groove Metal act Decapitated. Not only that, if you pay good attention to Jinjer’s song Judgment (& Punishment) you’ll notice several elements from reggae added to the band’s extreme music, and that’s something that comes from Tatiana as she was a part of a band that played reggae, ska, ska-punk and funk before Jinjer, playing several cover songs and singing in Ukrainian, Russian and English. “I was a huge fan of reggae. I wore dreadlocks and I was all about Rastafari,” commented Tatiana, who also said that, even being a huge reggae fan, she doesn’t smoke weed simply because she doesn’t like it.

Currently living in Los Angeles, California and spending as much time as possible on tour, having closed 2021 with over 70 concerts including many summer festivals, a short tour of mainland Europe and a two-month North American tour, Tatiana obviously misses her homeland, her family and friends, although she finds the region’s lingering Soviet attitudes unappealing, with the remnants of hardline communism surrounding everyone there. While she was still living in Ukraine, she said that “I was too young to remember life in Soviet Union, but the spirit of Soviet Union is still here. I’m living in an apartment built maybe 40 years ago, and my parents live in such an apartment, as well. All our shops and supermarkets are situated in buildings built then. So it is still like Soviet Union. And there are a lot of people who still have Soviet Union in their heads and their minds.” However, Tatiana mentioned she doesn’t feel safe when on tour it doesn’t matter which country she’s visiting, not only in Ukraine, saying she’s always afraid of going anywhere by herself.

In one of her interviews, Tatiana said it’s a surprise to her that people are still impressed that women can scream, mentioning for example female-fronted German thrash metallers Holy Moses, who she got to know when she was an 18-year old girl in Ukraine, and saying that despite the fact bands like Jinjer might impress the younger generations, the older generations have always known what women can do in rock and metal music. “Sometimes I’m annoyed, but then you say, ‘OK, well, I didn’t see a hummingbird until I was 35 years old.’ It’s always a right time to discover new stuff. It’s great that screaming women are a phenomenon.” She also said it’s incredible to know she’s an inspiration for many young women mainly because they don’t know she’s in fact a very shy person, also sensitive, fragile and easy to be offended, or in her own words, she’s not better than anyone, complementing by saying she’s just a performer when she’s on stage. “Of course there is some true shit, but I don’t move my head 24/7 and I don’t scream all the time. Well, I scream every night. But not every morning.” Furthermore, you can learn a little more about how Tatiana learned to scream by clicking HERE, from first hearing Otep to screaming Mudvayne lyrics, to the dominant force she is today.

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As any other metalhead in the world, Tatiana has a lot of idols and influences in her life, in her vocal style, in the way she writes the music for Jinjer and so on, but following those artists wasn’t easy at all when she was a young girl due to the aforementioned impact of the Soviet Union over Ukraine at that time. “Metal wasn’t accessible for me. Where I grew up in Donetsk, not many worldwide metal artists would come. They’d go to the capital, and it was 700km and 12 hours on the train. I didn’t have money because I was a teenager and my mom was strict; she didn’t give me much pocket money, although that stimulated me to earn it myself, for which I’m really grateful to her. My parents wouldn’t have let me out of the town, but that was for the best too. It made me want to play my own music and form my own band.” As mentioned, her brother was the one who got her into metal (although he stopped listening to heavy music when he grew up), but before that she used to listen to a lot of rock music, grunge and punk especially after the Soviet Union collapsing in 1991, as MTV hit the Ukrainian airwaves and she began listening to bands like Nirvana and The Offspring. She then found the music by Otep, and got addicted to the vocals by the iconic Otep Shamaya. “I think I was 15 when I heard Otep the first time,” said Tatiana in one of her interviews. “I said, ‘This dude is so cool!’ And my friend said, ‘This is a girl!’ I was like, ‘Jesus fucking Christ!’ This is the first girl I am hearing do this. I was shocked, and I wanted to shock people like her.”

Being a rock and metal artist in Ukraine wasn’t easy at all, taking Tatiana and the rest of the band around five years just to cross the Ukrainian border and play in Romania, and even longer to reach other European countries and the United States, but fortunately everything seems to be working for Jinjer now, with the band organically growing in the worldwide scene and gaining more and more respect from fans from all four corners of the earth. As expected, Tatiana has some important complaints about the Ukrainian metal scene, saying that most Ukrainian bands stick to playing in Ukraine or Russia, and that they don’t usually sing in English, the main reason why they just play in their motherland. “I was always inspired by western music culture in jazz, blues and then metal. I always had this love for English speaking music, even pop music; Britney Spears is one of my biggest idols! People can understand it easily and for me, it was always about spreading my own message through a language that is more available for people all around the world of different countries. That’s why we chose to sing in English and that’s how we made our own path.” Another major issue in Ukraine according to her is the post-U.S.S.R. thinking and mindset, where you’re not accepted if you’re different, as for example tattoos (and we all know she has plenty) are not acceptable for men nor women in her homeland.

However, as you might probably know, Ukraine is suffering with the Russian invasion that started back in February this year, and that has been hitting the band hard in their hearts and minds since then. In March 2022, it was reported that Jinjer had “paused” their career to focus on relief efforts in Ukraine after the war began. Right after that, in June 2022, Jinjer announced that they received permission from the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture to leave Ukraine and tour as ambassadors of the nation to raise funds and awareness. “We are very thankful to our Ministry Of Culture for the Ukraine who gave us this opportunity to do what we love to do, and play all the festivals we have announced. We’re using every festival to raise funds and spread awareness about the real war that is happening in the 21st century, which is crazy. It’s hard to believe, but this is the harsh reality. It’s heartbreaking, but at the same time we are also full of hope that soon it is all going be over. We are spreading positivity and hope, and we are dreaming about peace. I hope that no other European or world country ever experiences the same as the Ukraine,” commented Tatiana, also saying she has no idea when Jinjer will be able to play in Ukraine again, and that the band will never stop fighting. Moreover, in their most recent releases there are lyrics addressing the war in Donbas and its effects on their home region of Donetsk, and you can also find tons of amazing interviews with Tatiana and the boys talking about the war in Ukraine, just like this one conducted by Loudwire.

Regarding her relationship with social media, Tatiana said that due to her explosive nature she usually replies back to anyone that messages her, it doesn’t matter if it’s a positive or negative comment, saying she “enjoys” replying back to internet trolls because she’s easy to piss off. “Sometimes it’s just overwhelming. I feel like if I let it go, I will let them continue to do this shit again and again. It’s like I give them unspoken permission,” commented our stunning diva, also saying most of the feedback she gets online is actually positive. In addition, one of her favorite ways of interacting with her fans is to customize shirts she receives from them before a show and wear them onstage the same night. “Most of the time, these shirts are very personal. For example, yesterday I was given a shirt — it has a huge ape giving a middle finger and it says something like, ‘Humans destroy everything.’ It’s so related to our song Ape. They will see me wear it on the stage and it is a huge pleaser. They get double joy. I love all the things they bring to me at meet and greet. They are so sweet,” said Tatiana, complementing by saying that some of those fans are very shy and don’t want to talk a lot, being very happy with just an autograph and a photo.

Our unstoppable frontwoman also said that, in an effort to improve her own standing with Mother Nature, she tried to be a vegan for three years, but she went back to eating meat in the middle of a tour because she was starving. She said she still tries to be moderate in consuming meat, and that she doesn’t drink milk, though, revealing her own inner conflict. “I still try being vegan, but it’s really hard for me because I was raised in a family that was not very rich,” she explained. “We could not afford eating meat very often. So when I stopped eating meat, I realized that I loved meat a lot. When I smell meat, it drives me crazy. Something inside of me forgets about animals, suffering, health, environment, and I just want a good piece of meat.” You can get to know more about Tatiana by listening to our growler answering 10 questions asked by Metalshop TV (volume 1 and volume 2), as well as other interviews online such as Tatiana and her bandmates answering the most asked questions on the Internet about Jinjer. Lastly, just like several people out there (including myself), Tatiana also believes something went wrong in our evolution, saying mankind went wrong, and that although we are so small on this earth we act like we are gods, which makes her really sad. She’s trying to learn how to be happy, how to find the happiness inside, and to appreciate her life. “That’s my biggest ambition, to be happy and find inner peace, and for there to be justice for Ukraine.”

Tatiana Shmayluk’s Official Facebook page
Tatiana Shmayluk’s Official Instagram
Tatiana Shmayluk’s Official Twitter
Jinjer’s Official Facebook page
Jinjer’s Official VKontakte
Jinjer’s Official Instagram
Jinjer’s Official YouTube channel
Jinjer’s Official Twitter

“You know what, I’m losing my faith in music. I don’t feel like I can express myself enough to say what I really feel because there are no words to explain. So, I feel like I should give up… but then something makes me go further.” – Tatiana Shmayluk

Album Review – Blind Guardian / The God Machine (2022)

Seven years after the release of Beyond The Red Mirror, the most respect German Power Metal bards of all time make a brilliant return with their breathtaking twelfth studio album.

Seven years after the release of Beyond The Red Mirror, the multi-talented German Power Metal bards Blind Guardian make a brilliant return and compensate for the waiting time with their new studio album, entitled The God Machine, the twelfth in their undisputed career. Produced, recorded and engineered by Charlie Bauerfeind and Thomas Geiger, mixed by Joost van den Broek and Jos Driessen, mastered by Jaakko Viitalähde, and displaying a classy artwork by Peter Mohrbacher, The God Machine brings everything we learned to love and more in the music by frontman Hansi Kürsch and his henchmen André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen on the guitars, Frederik Ehmke on drums, and session musicians Barend Courbois on bass and Thomas Geiger on keyboards, with each song having its lyrics based on a specific novel, play, series or milestone in their personal lives, such as The Kingkiller Chronicle, Battlestar Galactica and American Gods. “We didn’t want to rehash our style from 1995, but on the other hand we didn’t want to have to continue on our current path forever. The God Machine is a new beginning for us. We’re putting everything back to square one and return to certain patterns that we neglected a bit on previous releases. Look forward to an album that is straighter, more aggressive, but always blessed with highly infectious melodies and hooks,” commented Hansi about the band’s new opus.

The rhythmic riffs by André and Marcus set the stage for the epic Deliver Us From Evil, with Hansi distilling his trademark, powerful vocals from the very first second in a pure Blind Guardian sound with no shenanigans, or in other words, this will be a fantastic opener for their upcoming concerts. In Damnation we’re treated to cryptic words darkly declaimed by Hansi (“They’re like ghosts / The ancient ones / Burning blue’s their sign / It’s all true / Hush don’t cry / Better hide”) while his bandmates deliver first-class Power and Heavy Metal nonstop in a journey back in time to the band’s early days; followed by Secrets Of The American Gods, which starts in a beyond epic, majestic manner before exploding into another headbanging, symphonic Power Metal aria, being therefore tailored for their live setlists. And it’s then time for another explosion of visceral Power Metal by the bards entitled Violent Shadows, where Barend and Frederik’s kitchen offers the band’s guitar duo the perfect atmosphere for their wicked riffs and solos.

Life Beyond The Spheres displays solid instrumental and vocals, albeit it lacks the same punch as its predecessors. The keys by guest Joost van den Broek are spot-on, though, enhancing the song’s kick. Then speeding things up and delivering a beautiful fusion of heaviness, epicness and violence the band brings forward Architects Of Doom, where Frederik dictates the pace while Hansi continues to stun us all with his unparalleled vocals; and Hansi mesmerizes us once again in Let It Be No More, starting in a serene, pensive manner and evolving into a bold and beautiful sonority where André pierces our souls with his guitar solo. The fantastic Blood Of The Elves brings to us listeners powerful lyrics (“Honor, it’s easy to dispose / In this darkest hour we’re alone / From behind closed doors it aims for her / Magic’s reaching out to draw her in / To the eye of the storm / The storm”) spiced up by a traditional, straightforward sound that will please all fans of the band, whereas just like a sinister, climatic ending of a fantasy movie we’re treated to the hammering Destiny, a great way to conclude another sensational work by Blind Guardian showcasing their characteristic vocals and riffs enfolded by gorgeous background elements.

Blind Guardian The God Machine Nuclear Blast Mailorder Vinyl Boxset

Such masterpiece of German Power and Heavy Metal can be appreciated in all of its glory on YouTube and on Spotify, but if I were you I would certainly click HERE or HERE to purchase the physical edition of the album, including the superb Nuclear Blast Mailorder Vinyl Boxset, limited to 1,700 copies, which comes with a crystal-clear double LP with red inkspot and black splatter in a gatefold with 24-page booklet, a digipack CD, a board game, a slipmat, a signed card, a sticker and a postcard set. Don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, and to stream all of their amazing videos and albums on YouTube and on Spotify. In summary, seven years between two albums feels like an eternity for us fans when the band in question is as amazing as Blind Guardian, but the wait was certainly worth it as The God Machine proves why such German metal machine is so respected and admired in the world of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Deliver Us From Evil, Damnation, Violent Shadows and Blood Of The Elves.

Worst moments of the album: Life Beyond The Spheres.

Released in 2022 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Deliver Us From Evil 5:21
2. Damnation 5:20
3. Secrets Of The American Gods 7:28
4. Violent Shadows 4:17
5. Life Beyond The Spheres 6:02
6. Architects Of Doom 6:20
7. Let It Be No More 4:48
8. Blood Of The Elves 4:37
9. Destiny 6:46

Nuclear Blast Mailorder Edition, Vinyl Boxset bonus tracks
10. Life Beyond the Spheres (Cyber Mix) 6:07
11. Destiny (Lead Guitar Version) 6:42
12. Let It Be No More (Heavy Vocals) 4:49

Band members
Hansi Kürsch – vocals
André Olbrich – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Marcus Siepen – rhythm and acoustic guitars
Frederik Ehmke – drums

Guest musicians
Barend Courbois – bass (session)
Thomas Geiger – keyboards, effects (session)
Joost van den Broek – keyboards on “Life Beyond The Spheres”
Marcela Bovio, Marjan Welman, Olaf Senkbeil, Hacky Hackmann & John “Jaycee” Cuijpers – backing vocals

Album Review – Grave Digger / Symbol of Eternity (2022)

The mighty Grave Digger go back in time to offer us all a powerful sequel to their 1998 classic Knights of the Cross based on the Knights Templar, the Crusades and the Holy Grail.

One of the most important and creative bands in the history of German rock and metal, the mighty Power Metal institution Grave Digger, is back two years after the excellent Fields of Blood with another headbanging album entitled Symbol of Eternity, bringing to our ears everything we’ve learned to love in their music since the band’s inception decades ago. Produced, mixed and mastered by the band’s mastermind, the iconic Chris Boltendahl himself, at his own studio named Graveyard Studios, and displaying a beautiful artwork by Uwe Jarling, Symbol of Eternity is a concept album based on the Knights Templar, the Crusades and the Holy Grail, working as a sequel to the band’s 1998 classic Knights of the Cross while showcasing once again all the talent and passion of the aforementioned Chris Boltendahl together with his henchmen Axel Ritt on the guitars, Jens Becker on bass and Marcus Kniep on drums.

It’s time to head into the battlefield to the sound of the epic, cinematic intro The Siege Of Akkon before Chris & Co. deliver pure Heavy Metal in the exciting Battle Cry, with Marcus dictating the pace with his old school beats accompanied by the rumbling bass by Jens. Put differently, it’s pure, unfiltered Grave Digger for all diehard fans of the band to sing along with them, and the same can be said about Hell Is My Purgatory, showcasing an addictive chorus vociferated by Chris (“Hell is my purgatory / I’m a sinner, I’m your priest / Hell is my purgatory / Faith unleashed the beast / Hell is my damnation / My holy revelation / Hell is my crematory / Hell! Hell! Hell!”) and a great sync between Axel’s riffs and Jens’ metallic bass. Then pure German metal riffage flows from Axel’s guitar in the also high-octane King Of The Kings, where Marcus once again hammers his drums in great fashion, whereas the title-track Symbol Of Eternity brings forward the band’s usual heaviness and obscurity, displaying a sluggish pace, somber passages and the melancholic vocals by Chris, albeit not as exciting a the rest of the album. After the short Middle Eastern-inspired interlude Saladin, the band returns in full force with Nights Of Jerusalem, offering our ears more of their thunderous drums, dirty riffs and raspy vocals. Moreover, we all know Chris is an amazing storyteller, and he nails it once again in this classic tune.

Heart Of A Warrior presents another beyond catchy chorus (“Take my last breath / Prepared myself to death / In my last hour / I feel the power / And I was sent by God / To be victorious / I got the heart / Of a warrior”) embraced by a classic Grave Digger sonority; while acoustic guitars kick off the mid-tempo, headbanging tune Grace Of God, with its background symphonic element adding an extra touch of epicness to the overall result. Back to a more melodic sonority, it’s time for Axel to extract sheer electricity form his guitar in Sky Of Swords, perfect for banging your head and raising your fists in the air together with the unrelenting Grave Digger, followed by Holy Warfare, a pure Heavy and Power Metal feast made in Germany with an exciting pace and riffage where Marcus pounds his drums as we dive into the battle together with the band. The Last Crusade, the last original song from the album, will darken the skies to the deep, sinister vocals by Chris while the instrumental pieces sound and feel utterly powerful. Last but not least, the bonus track Hellas Hellas, featuring guest vocals by its original singer Vasilis Papakonstantinou, has been a staple in Grave Digger’s sets whenever they played Greece, since the 90’s, and this new studio version kicks some serious ass to the point it should be played anywhere, not just in Greece (and you can compare it to the original version by clicking HERE).

Grave Digger Symbol of Eternity Limited Collector’s Hardcover Boxset

Symbol of Eternity can be savored in its entirety on Spotify, but of course if you’ve always been a loyal soldier of the Grave Digger army you can purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE, including the super limited collector’s hardcover boxset (and good luck trying to find that one available as it’s limited to only 500 copies worldwide) that includes the limited 2CD mediabook, a 115 x 75cm flag, an armband with metallic 3D emblem, an A3 poster, a signed autograph card and a certificate of authenticity. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and their electrifying tour dates, raising your sword together with Chris and his horde whenever they take your city by storm. In a nutshell, Symbol of Eternity might not get even close to being their strongest effort to date, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a powerful and gripping album of old school German Heavy Metal, proving why Grave Digger have been on the road for so many decades and showing us all they’re far from calling it quits. Long live Grave Digger, and may their Power Metal be part of the soundtrack of our lives for all eternity!

Best moments of the album: Battle Cry, Hell Is My Purgatory, Heart Of A Warrior and Holy Warfare.

Worst moments of the album: Symbol Of Eternity.

Released in 2022 ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records

Track listing
1. The Siege Of Akkon 1:03
2. Battle Cry 3:53
3. Hell Is My Purgatory 3:53
4. King Of The Kings 4:43
5. Symbol Of Eternity 5:18
6. Saladin 0:36
7. Nights Of Jerusalem 4:40
8. Heart Of A Warrior 3:46
9. Grace Of God 4:23
10. Sky Of Swords 4:16
11. Holy Warfare 3:43
12. The Last Crusade 5:20
13. Hellas Hellas (Vasilis Papakonstantinou cover) 4:00

Limited Edition Boxset/ Mediabook CD 2 (Live at Metal Hammer Paradise)
1. The Clansman’s Journey 1:31
2. Healed by Metal 4:31
3. The Clans Will Rise Again 5:31
4. Lawbreaker 3:33
5. The Roundtable 5:36
6. The Curse of Jacques 5:09
7. Season of the Witch 5:17
8. Excalibur 5:25
9. Rebellion 5:49
10. Witch Hunter 3:44
11. Heavy Metal Breakdown 8:18

Band members
Chris Boltendahl – vocals
Axel Ritt – guitar
Jens Becker – bass
Marcus Kniep – drums

Guest musician
Vasilis Papakonstantinou – vocals on “Hellas Hellas”

Metal Chick of the Month – Sandie Gjørtz

The resurrection of the Lilith!

As the summer solstice is gone, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer, and here at The Headbanging Moose it’s time to darken the skies even more with our metal lady of the month of August, the stunning, enigmatic and evil Sandie Gjørtz, also known as Sandie “The Lilith” Gjørtz, Sandie The Lilith, or simply Lilith, the unrelenting frontwoman for Danish Melodic Death Metal outfit Defacing God. Her devilish roars will haunt your damned soul for all eternity, and I’m sure you’ll thank us at The Headbanging Moose for introducing you to such talented woman of the current metal scene. Be careful, though, as Lilith is the primordial she-demon as you might know, and succumbing to her enchantment means you might never see the light of day again in your life.

Growing up with Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal as both her parents are metalheads, Sandie mentioned heavy music has always been a natural part of her life. “I’ve been told that even before I could walk, I often crawled in front of the TV when my parents played a VHS live video with Ozzy Osbourne and I managed to stand up in front of the TV and shake my diaper-ass to ‘Bark at the Moon’ for example. So yeah, it is simply in my veins”, commented our mesmerizing vocalist in one of her interviews, also saying she started out “softly” with Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and King Diamond before getting to know Pantera and, with the discovery of YouTube when she was around 11 years old, being introduced to harder and heavier bands the likes of Sepultura, a band her father loves by the way. When she told her father about that, he got so excited he showed her his copy of Slayer’s ultimate classic album Reign In Blood, and once again she felt that indescribable rush flowing through her veins.

“I am eternally grateful for these influences on music in my youth. It has always been following me and helped me through dark times, many times! And since that time, I just knew that I wanted to be or do something in this kind of music. It’s a deep, burning passion that is extremely hard to even describe as said. If you know and get it, you get it. If not… You never will,” complemented Sandie, who also said that although she knew nothing about growling or extreme vocal techniques when she was young, she has always been busy with music, singing and acting in drama classes during her school years, as well as choir singing at the church, which was curiously one of her hobbies before turning into Lilith. She knew she wanted to become a vocalist, but as mentioned she didn’t know at that age that women could also do extreme singing, while at the same time she realized choir singing and clean vocals weren’t enough for her.

Having a raging fire burning inside her and dealing with anger issues, things she wanted to express somehow as she considered herself an intense and emotional girl during her youth, Sandie finally discovered bands the likes of Holy Moses and Arch Enemy when she was around 15 years old, being blown away by those women who could manage to do extreme singing just like some of her idols such as Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel. “First, it seemed a little bit extreme for me because I never saw anything like that before and for me, it was not a ‘natural’ thing for a woman to scream and sing that deep. Back then, I also don’t think that women who did growls, screams and extreme vocals, in general, was such a common or known phenomenon like it is nowadays. Not that I know at least. I just know that I adored it and decided that if they could do it, I sure as hell could do it too!”

Since then, our unstoppable growler has been investing all her talent, energy and passion into making extreme music, learning extreme techniques on her own, always trusting her feelings and saying metal music works as pure therapy for her, that it is really what she lives for. After so many years practicing and developing her vocal skills, Sandie knew it was time for her to have her own Extreme Metal band, leading to the creation of Defacing God in 2015. “I always wanted to play in a band, but only did something about it in 2015 when our drummer (Michael Olsson) and I decided to start a project together. After the decision was made, we began to search for musicians with the same intentions and passion as ourselves, and it ended up with the constellation we have today.” From that day on, Lilith was born.

Currently comprised of Sandie “The Lilith” Gjørtz on vocals (who’s also responsible for all visuals and lyrics), Signar Petersen and Christian Nielsen on the guitars, Rasmus “Kalke” Nielsen on bass, and Michael Olsson on drums, Defacing God were formed in 2015 in Aalborg, a city in the Jutland region of Denmark, but only going public in 2018. Sandie mentioned she hadn’t worked in any other projects before founding Defacing God, only focusing on her singing as well as on some other instruments like the guitar, keyboards, piano and cello, which means we can all consider Defacing God her beloved (and evil) first baby. “Since most of us in the band are experienced musicians by now, we chose to keep our project close to our bodies until we thought everything was completely clear. We didn’t think it made sense to make ourselves visible before, and none of us wanted to stand on stage and deliver something half-finished. Therefore, we have worked at high pressure to be coordinated and create something that we ourselves are proud to show off. I myself really appreciate bands that have a complete theme, stage expression, etc.,” commented our Lilith, also saying that “in addition to the above, we have had some legal construction problems with our rehearsal rooms, and we were therefore forced to take a break for a few months and have our rooms rebuilt and ready. Furthermore, we have had a change in the lineup and our band members. Everything takes time – especially when it comes to music. We have had so much in the making, so many ideas, and it is only now that I feel that we have found our right track and expression. I just think that’s how it is with art in general. It’s one big bubble of ideas, thoughts and expressions, and it can take a long time before the result of all this turns out to be something that makes sense.”

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Inspired by opulent Scandinavian metal traditions, Defacing God base their conceptual themes on the seeping darkness that moves in us all, rooted in occultism and witchcraft, but primarily the mythologically mysterious female demon Lilith and her tales of fervent defiance and perseverance. Through their storytelling, music and aesthetic, the band pulls their listeners into a dark universe of obscure myths, folklore and ancient stories, all the while weaving in often subtle lyrical inspirations from modern societal oppressions and personal demons while musically speaking they echo the styles of artists such as Cradle of Filth, Carach Angren and Dimmu Borgir, blending it with a conventional dose of Black Metal and merging these auras with infernal Death Metal. Hence, as Defacing God are gearing up for the release this September of their debut opus The Resurrection of Lilith, the band has already unleashed upon us a few songs that will feature in the album just to give us a taste of how devilish and heavy it will be, and you can already succumb to the dark world ruled by Defacing God by listening to the songs Succumb the Euphoria, Monolith Of Apocalypse Arise, The Marked Ones, and Rise Of The Trinity, all available on Spotify by the way, also showcasing stunning, hypnotizing visuals thanks to the wicked mind of Lilith. Celebrating feminist power and sisterhood throughout Defacing God’s entire upcoming album, Sandie mentioned that the trinity formed of Abyzou, Jezebel and Lilith is the kind of catalysator who speaks for all cremated witches who never got a voice through times and history, strong and wise women have been slaughtered, molested, executed and abused, just because the herd were scared of their wisdom and free spirit.

As already mentioned, Sandie is highly inspired by Scandinavian metal as well as witchcraft and occultism, also nurturing a personal love for Black Metal, all expressed through the band’s upcoming stage performances and in many of her texts, representing her view of the world and her own experiences. “In the era of witch hunting (between the 15th and 18th centuries) it was only women who stood out from the crowd or perhaps knew something. They were not considered part of normality, and so they were burned – basically because the ‘masses’ did not understand them and were afraid of them. Today it is more acceptable to fall outside the norm. Actually, I think that it has become modern to be alternative – but no matter what, there will always be those who cannot or will not understand you, and you cannot and must not please everyone. That is really what is the message in the theme and what many of the texts can be analyzed down to. Therefore, we have decided that it must be a consistent theme throughout our expression,” commented Sandie in one of her interviews. Furthermore, among her favorite artist and bands, you’ll find some renowned acts the likes of Marduk, Lord Belial, Rotting Christ, Nile, Morbid Angel, Septicflesh, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth and Belzebubs, also being inspired by movies, books, games, ancient history and “dark places” that she has visited through time.

A proud Aalborg citizen, Sandie said that the metal community in her hometown and in the entire Denmark is quite strong, also saying that it houses a lot of talented solo musicians and great bands compared to other bigger countries. “The community is strong here in Aalborg, too, where I live. We, for example, have a big international festival, Aalborg Metal Festival, scheduled in November every year which is a great festival with lots of passionate, hard-working people behind. Through blood, sweat and tears they make this huge festival work each fucking year without complaints,” also mentioning concerts and festivals arranged by AR&M (Aalborg Rock & Metal) several times a year, where a bunch of hard-working volunteers line up for making the whole thing work as well. One interesting fact about Sandie and her Defacing God is the fact that in 2019 the band was booked for Viborg Metal Festival having only released one song at that time, which according to Sandie herself happened because some people behind the festival already knew her bandmates from other bands and trusted them to put on a great show regardless.

Although she hasn’t been involved with other bands prior to Defacing God, Sandie was a guest musician in the album To Live To Kill To Live, by Danish Heavy/Power Metal act Manticora, saying she loved the experience of collaborating with the band in their latest album. “This part I sang was supposed to be an evil Chinese aunt who killed her whole family due to jealousy. The more brutal, the better!” However, if you think her life is just surrounded by brutality, you might be really impressed by the quality work she used to do before focusing on her career as a musician. “After I finished high school, I took some exams related to business and straight after that I followed my vision (besides of the music) to become a social worker, specialized in young people with mental health diagnoses and social problems. I started to study my bachelor’s in social education and on the side I worked as a teacher,” she said in one of her interviews, also mentioning her passion for the beauty industry. She simply loves everything that has to do with makeup, skincare routines and the ways we can express ourselves in a visual and creative way, taking some exams in the beauty industry and having actually made a living off her own beauty firm, Gorgeous By Gjoertz, while at the same time taking a degree in service, hospitality and tourism management at University College in Aalborg. Not only that, she was also a self-employed insurance agent at one of Scandinavia’s biggest insurance companies, proving how unrelenting and full of energy she is. So, after all is said and done, what are you waiting for to renounce to your weak gods and succumb to the dark powers of a true goddess like Lilith?

Sandie Gjørtz’s Official Instagram
Defacing God’s Official Facebook page
Defacing God’s Official Instagram

“In the name of art there should no boundaries and everyone should have the freedom to be their own independent self, to explore and to express as they desire without being judged or oppressed.” – Sandie Gjørtz

Album Review – Oathbringer / Tales of Glory (2022)

Let’s head into the battlefield together with this promising Serbian band armed with their debut opus, offering us all an overdose of pure, unfiltered Heavy Metal.

Formed in the city of Kragujevac, Serbia at the end of 2019 as a project of guitarist Lazar “Berserker” Zakić under the name Riddle of Steel, the incendiary Heavy Metal army currently known as Oathbringer is set to release their debut opus, entitled Tales of Glory, bringing to our metallic ears an overdose of pure, unfiltered metal music. Recorded at Studio Coolijana, produced by Marko Petković Petko, and displaying a dark, heathen artwork by Velio Josto, known for his work with bands such as Vulture, Enforcer, Riot V, Iron Angel and Warlord, Tales of Glory offers the listener a selection of classic Heavy and Power Metal songs carefully brought forth by the aforementioned Lazar “Berserker” Zakić on the guitars together with his bandmates Miloš “Priestkiller” Stošić on vocals and bass, Petar “Axxer” Đorđević also on the guitars, and Bora “Helldiver” Petrović on drums, pointing to a promising future ahead of those Serbian warriors.

Simply hit play and the epic intro Arrival will invite you to the world of Oathbringer before the band comes ripping in Odin’s Call, where Lazar and Petar rev up their engines to the sound of their stringed axes while Bora dictates the pace with his classic beats, not to mention how powerful Miloš sound with both his vocals and bass. More of the band’s old school Heavy Metal infused with groovy and dirty sounds is offered to us all in Hail to the King, a headbanging party led by the raspy vocals by Miloš with Bora pounding his drums like the hammer of Thor (as the guys from Manowar would say); whereas putting the pedal to the metal it’s time for the quartet to head into the battlefield to the sound of Stand or Fall, a high-octane Heavy and Power Metal hymn where the band’s guitar duo is on absolute fire with their raw, visceral riffs and solos.

Venturing through Hard Rock lands the band inspires us to raise our horns to Alone in the Night, bringing to our ears another thrilling performance by Lazar and Petar on the guitars; and an acoustic, ethereal start to the melancholic vocals by Miloš kick off the Lord of the Rings-inspired ballad The Ring, sounding utterly beautiful from start to finish and, of course, very enfolding and epic. Then back to their heaviest mode it’s time for the breathtaking Shayol Ghul, with Bora kicking some serious ass behind his drums while also reminding me of the fastest tunes by Stratovarius with a Power Metal twist. The band continues to blend the heaviness of Thrash Metal with the epicness of the music by Manowar in Moria, which should work really well if played live due to its headbanging rhythm and catchy chorus, ending in a classy way to the sound of a piano. In addition, as a bonus the band offers us all the demo version for Under the Spell, from when the band was still called Riddle of Steel. As it’s “just” a demo it’s not as detailed as the rest of the album, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as powerful and in line with the band’s core sound.

After all is said and done, you’ll certainly feel the urge to grab your sword and shield and head into the battlefield together with the guys from Oathbringer, and you can start doing so by following them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other cool info about the band. Furthermore, don’t forget to show your utmost support to the Serbian underground by purchasing the excellent Tales of Glory by clicking HERE, keeping the fires of classic Heavy and Power Metal burning in the beautiful country of Serbia. Oathbringer were capable of turningtheir tales of glory into first-class metal music in their first full-length album, and I’m sure that when their sophomore album is released they’ll sound even stronger, more focused and more powerful for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: Hail to the King, Stand or Fall and Shayol Ghul.

Worst moments of the album: Under the Spell.

Released in 2022 RTR Records

Track listing
1. Arrival 0:50
2. Odin’s Call 4:20
3. Hail to the King 3:49
4. Stand or Fall 3:46
5. Alone in the Night 4:16
6. The Ring 4:02
7. Shayol Ghul 5:29
8. Moria 6:01

Bonus track
9. Under the Spell (demo) 4:32

Band members
Miloš “Priestkiller” Stošić – vocals, bass
Lazar “Berserker” Zakić – guitars
Petar “Axxer” Đorđević – guitars
Bora “Helldiver” Petrović – drums

Guest musician
Luka Milošević – guitars on “Under the Spell”

Album Review – Greyhawk / Call of the Hawk EP (2022)

Flying higher than the sky and spreading their wings all over the world, these American metallers are back with a thrilling new EP of old school Heavy and Power Metal.

Equal parts traditional Heavy Metal, Power Metal and shred, Seattle, Washington, United States-based outfit Greyhawk blends the best parts of these styles together to create a high energy, dynamic heavy metal music that fans of Dio, Yngwie Malmsteen, Racer X, Manowar, Visigoth and Judas Priest will rejoice in. Having released their debut EP Ride Out in 2018 and their first full-length album Keepers of the Flame in 2020 to acclaim from both critics and fans alike, the band comprised of Rev Taylor on vocals, Jesse Berlin and Jacquelynn Ziel on the guitars, Darin Wall on bass, and Nate Butler on drums is back with a new EP, entitled Call of the Hawk, continuing the epic metal stylings of the previous releases while also adding some fresh new elements to their music. Mixed and mastered by Deron Daum, recorded by Deron Daum and Shana Daum at MagicMix Studios, and displaying a kick-ass cover art by GrimuzzA, the EP has everything we love in metal music, from blazing guitar solos and driving rhythms to soaring operatic vocals, harkening back to the golden years of Heavy Metal.

Jesse and Jacquelynn begin slashing their stringed axes in Steelbound, generating a classic, metallic atmosphere accompanied by the rumbling bass by Darin, feeling like a fusion of Queensrÿche and Saxon while Nate dictates the song’s imposing pace with his beats. The title-track Call Of The Hawk  brings to our avid ears an old school, in-your-face sonority inspired by 80’s Heavy Metal, with Rev declaiming the song’s epic words in great fashion while the band’s guitar duo stuns us all with their refined riffs and solos; whereas in Demon Star the band offers us all a galloping pace thanks to the awesome job done by Farin and Nate with their thunderous kitchen, presenting elements found in the music by Iron Maiden, Helloween and Iced Earth. Moreover, Rev’s soaring vocalizations sound very theatrical, always supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals. Then we have Shattered Heart, even more melodic and powerful than its predecessors, or in other words, a lecture in 80’s Heavy and Power Metal by Greyhawk showcasing epic vocal lines, reverberating bass and pounding drums, all spiced up by the razor-edged guitars by Jesse and Jacquelynn. Lastly, it’s time for more of their sharp riffs and rhythmic beats in the form of Take The Throne, a very pleasant mid-tempo tune led by Rev’s vocalizations.

In summary, Call of the Hawk, which is available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, keeps the talented and hardworking Greyhawk flying higher than the sky, spreading the band’s wings all over the world with their classic fusion of Heavy and Power Metal. Hence, in order to show those American metallers your utmost support, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course to purchase their first-class new EP from their own BandCamp page, from the Fighter Records BandCamp page, or from the Xtreem Music webstore. And after an array of excellent albums, I’m sure it won’t take long for Greyhawk to invite us to fly once again on their metal wings with more of their thrilling creations.

Best moments of the album: Call Of The Hawk and Shattered Heart.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Fighter Records

Track listing
1. Steelbound 4:10
2. Call Of The Hawk 3:56
3. Demon Star 4:07
4. Shattered Heart 3:26
5. Take The Throne 6:40

Band members
Rev Taylor – vocals
Jesse Berlin – guitars
Jacquelynn Ziel – guitars
Darin Wall – bass
Nate Butler – drums

Album Review – VOLDT / Vandalism (2022)

A trio of German rockers will attack your senses with their debut album, offering us all 42 minutes of an amalgamation of rock and metal styles that will please all metal enthusiasts with a taste for innovative songwriting.

Raw and sinister, yet diverse and melodic, Hamburg, Germany-based Progressive Metal/Rock band VOLDT has risen from the ashes of several projects to conquer the stage with their bold interpretation of modern metal with an old school vibe. Formed of Al Shirazi on vocals and guitars, Johannes Horas on bass and Wanja Gröger on drums, the trio is ready to rock our world with their first ever full-length album, entitled Vandalism, the follow-up to their 2019 debut EP Voken. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Fabian Großberg, and displaying a Punk Rock-inspired artwork by the band’s own Johannes Horas and Al Shirazi, Vandalism brings to our ears 42 minutes of an amalgamation of rock and metal styles that will please all metal enthusiasts with a taste for innovative songwriting, proving how versatile and dynamic those three German rockers can be.

A wicked laugh by Al kicks off the rocking tune The Great Command, where Johannes fires Primus-inspired bass punches for our total delight while Wanja dictates the pace with his rhythmic and at the same time demolishing beats; and Al continues to slash his stringed axe in Headless Haunting Hound while he declaims the song’s poetic lyrics, blending the melody of Progressive Rock and Metal with the insanity found in Groove Metal. Then enhancing their rage and heaviness it’s time for Killing At the Speed of Light, where Wanja crushes his drums nonstop in the name of Heavy Metal, not to mention Al’s classic riffs, whereas we’re treated to over six minutes of progressiveness in the form of music in Symphony of Suicide, with Al and Johannes hammering their respective guitar and bass from start to finish and with Al once again delivering his Doom Metal-inspired vocal lines.

The groovy bass jabs by Johannes will hit you hard in the head in Monsters Of the Sea while Wanja keeps pounding his drums; it loses its grip after a while though, despite being a good composition. Back to a more visceral and frantic mode the trio offers us all Teachings, a song that exhales madness and groove with Al kicking ass with both his sharp riffage and obscure vocalizations, or in other words, it will surely ignite some fun mosh pits if played live by the band. Their second to last blast of Progressive Rock and Metal is entitled Servant, a song that will inspire you to bang your head together with the band or simply close your eyes and enjoy Al’s vocal performance, and lastly, let’s raise our horns one final time to Shame or Glory, presenting hints of 80’s Heavy and Power Metal and an amazing job done by Wanja with his intricate beats and fills.

The talented VOLDT crew is waiting for you on Facebook and on Instagram, where you can get more details about their career, their music, tour dates and so on, as well as on YouTube and on Spotify where you can stream all of their wicked creations. In addition, don’t forget to show them your utmost support by purchasing their new album from their BandCamp page sooner than you can scream “VOLDT!” In  nutshell, Vandalism is not only a very entertaining album of rock and metal music, but a statement by those three unstoppable musicians from Germany telling us all that they’re among us to stay, always ready to vandalize our ears with their incendiary and innovative music.

Best moments of the album: Headless Haunting Hound, Symphony of Suicide and Teachings.

Worst moments of the album: Monsters Of the Sea.

Released in 2022 Blood Blast Distribution

Track listing
1. The Great Command 4:36
2. Headless Haunting Hound 5:33
3. Killing At the Speed of Light 4:09
4. Symphony of Suicide 6:33
5. Monsters Of the Sea 5:25
6. Teachings 5:18
7. Servant 5:37
8. Shame or Glory 5:14

Band members
Al Shirazi – vocals, guitars
Johannes Horas – bass, backing vocals
Wanja Gröger – drums

Album Review – Emetropia / Equinox (2022)

This imposing Swedish metal band is ready to hypnotize us all with their breathtaking debut concept album.

Formed in 2017 in the city of Linköping, Sweden, Symphonic Metal act Emetropia is set to release their debut album, entitled Equinox, bringing the full Equinox Saga which was teased in their 2018 debut EP Procession of the Kings, with all EP tracks also being “re-imagined” and re-recorded. While many bands in the genre choose to lean towards a gothic, dark theme, Emetropia instead focus on delivering energetic and dynamic metal driven by big orchestras and choirs carefully brought forth by Lisa Wallenberg on vocals, Olle Renius and Jonatan Jakobsson on the guitars, Kristoffer “Bobo” Pynnönen on bass, Liam Strand on keyboards and orchestrations, and Oscar Heikkinen on drums. Mixed and mastered by Michele “Meek” Guaitoli and displaying a stunning artwork by Jani Stefanović, Equinox “is a story about a small boy who finds himself captivated by a story told by the fireplace at night. In this tale, the kings of Summer and Winter rage a never-ending battle for the throne. Saddened by the fact that they are trapped in a cycle of bloodshed and suffering, the boy sets out to convince the Fey King and Frost King to make peace. However, while the Great Wheel turns, can it ever stop spinning?”, as explained by the band’s vocalist and lyricist Lisa.

Liam kicks some ass from the very first second with his striking keys in the re-imagined version of Seasonal Warfare, while Olle and Jonathan begin their guitar duel in great fashion in a classic Symphonic Metal feast for admirers of the genre. Then in the also re-imagined version of A Summer Breeze, Oscar dictates the song’s epic pace with his thunderous beats supported by the rumbling bass by Kristoffer and the magical orchestrations by Liam, not to mention how powerful and hypnotizing Lisa’s operatic vocals sound; and this six-piece squad keeps embellishing the airwaves with their unique Symphonic Metal in That Fateful Night, with all backing vocals enhancing the song’s impact and epicness considerably while Lisa beautifully tells the story proposed. In the re-imagined version of Lord of the Blizzards we’re treated to the angelic vocals by Lisa in paradox with harsh growls, turning the song into a metal opera  with the rhythmic drums by Oscar and the riffage by Olle and Jonatan guiding us on Emetropia’s musical voyage; whereas the stunning piano notes by Liam kick off the whimsical The First Leaf Falls, absolutely epic and bringing to our ears over six minutes of classic Symphonic Metal with a cinematic approach.

The visceral riffs by the band’s guitar duo set fire to the music in Fall’s First Storm, offering us all an electrifying wall of sounds spearheaded by the crushing drums by Oscar while providing Lisa with all she needs to shine on vocals, and it’s time for a classic Melodic Metal tune with symphonic nuances entitled The Old Gods, as if Stratovarius and Nightwish had a child together, and with Liam and Oscar once again stealing the spotlight with their respective instruments. The re-imagined version of Procession of the Kings is another Nightwish-inspired tune by those Swedish rockers that will put you to dance while you enjoy Lisa’s mesmerizing vocal performance, resulting in a top-of-the-line composition flawlessly brought forth in the name of metal music. Finally, prepare your senses as an 11-minute voyage through the realms of Symphonic Metal is about to begin in His Final Endeavour, full of breaks and variations and feeling like the score to an epic movie blending the band’s core essence with Heavy and Power Metal elements. Furthermore, Olle and Jonatan are bestial with their guitars, all of course spiced up by the stunning vocals by Lisa until the song’s smooth and climatic finale.

The talented musicians from Emetropia are waiting for your feedback on their music on Facebook and on Instagram, and don’t forget to also subscribe to their official YouTube channel and to stream all of their creations on Spotify. “Equinox represents everything about Emetropia. After half a decade of songwriting and developing as musicians, we’ve finally completed an album that sounds just like we envisioned it. There will be straight forward power metal, there will be mind-boggling progressive metal, and there will be bombastic symphonic metal over the course of its 53 minute run time! In the end, Equinox provides listeners with nine diverse and unique songs, all displaying the different sides of Emetropia to look forward to. We can’t wait to finally unveil the complete Equinox Saga,” commented Liam about the band’s new opus, which will be available for purchase from their BandCamp page, and I’m sure you’ll be beyond thrilled to join Emetropia in their quest for Symphonic Metal to the awesome music found in Equinox.

Best moments of the album: Fall’s First Storm, Procession of the Kings and His Final Endeavour.

Worst moments of the album: That Fateful Night.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Seasonal Warfare (Re-Imagined) 4:00
2. A Summer Breeze (Re-Imagined) 5:47
3. That Fateful Night 5:27
4. Lord of the Blizzards (Re-Imagined) 5:31
5. The First Leaf Falls 6:29
6. Fall’s First Storm 5:14
7. The Old Gods 4:29
8. Procession of the Kings (Re-Imagined) 4:54
9. His Final Endeavour 11:06

Band members
Lisa Wallenberg – vocals
Olle Renius – lead guitars
Jonatan Jakobsson – rhythm guitars
Kristoffer “Bobo” Pynnönen – bass
Liam Strand – keyboards, backing vocals
Oscar Heikkinen – drums

Album Review – Battle Beast / Circus of Doom (2022)

Welcome to the circus ruled by the one and only Battle Beast, featuring ten tracks that blend true Heavy Metal with pop and rock vibes.

Since their inception in 2005 in the city of Helsinki, Finland, the Heavy/Power Metal and Hard Rock bulldozer known as Battle Beast has been on an unstoppable ride, releasing an array of albums that can already be considered metal classics such as their 2015 opus Unholy Savior, and contemporary gems like their 2017 album Bringer Of Pain. Now in 2022 our beloved frontwoman Noora Louhimo and her bandmates Joona Björkroth and Juuso Soinio on the guitars, Eero Sipilä on bass, Janne Björkroth on the keyboards and orchestrations, and Pyry Vikki on drums are back in action with Circus of Doom, the follow-up to their not-so-good 2019 album No More Hollywood Endings. Recorded, produced, engineered and mixed by Janne Björkroth at JKB Studios, mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox Studios, and displaying a classy artwork by Jan “Örkki” Yrlund of Darkgrove Design, Circus of Doom features ten tracks that blend true Heavy Metal with pop and rock vibes, putting the band back on track and showing us all why they’ve become one of the most important names of the current European scene.

A quick circus-inspired intro evolves into the melodic and wicked title-track Circus of Doom, showcasing classic Power Metal lyrics declaimed by Noora (“The lions are hungry / And filled with rage / Afraid and angry / Locked in a cage / Ah / The circus is coming to town”) spiced up by the whimsical keys by Janne, whereas Wings of Light can be considered a journey back in time to their Bringer of Pain sound, with Pyry dictating  the song’s headbanging pace while Joona and Juuso keep slashing their guitars in the name of Heavy Metal firing riffs and solos that exhale pure electricity. Master of Illusion, one of the first singles of the album, brings forward the band’s more recent creations, mixing heavy music with pop in a theatrical manner, and once again it’s Noora who steals the spotlight with her powerful voice; followed by Where Angels Fear to Fly, another tune where the band focuses a lot more on their Hard Rock vein than on Heavy Metal while Janne kicks ass with his keys and orchestrations from start to finish. Then happy, strident riffs permeate the air in Eye of the Storm, an upbeat metal tune spearheaded by Noora’s soaring vocals and Pyry’s rhythmic drumming.

In Russian Roulette, witty words are powerfully sung by Noora (“In this game of Russian roulette / The room is filled with sin, would you let me in? / Tonight might be the night / As troubles disappear, the moon seems so near / Beneath electric starlight”) while her bandmates deliver a solid balance of Heavy Metal, Disco and Rock N’ Roll, whereas Freedom is an imposing, pounding composition that will please all fans of the early days of Battle Beast, bringing to our avid ears the galloping drums and bass by Pyry and Eero, respectively, not to mention how epic the backing vocals sound. The Road to Avalon sounds and feels extremely melodic, inviting us all to dance together with those Finnish rockers while Eero’s rumbling bass goes hand in hand with the old school riffage by the band’s guitar duo, and sharp vocalizations ignite the groovy and exciting tune Armageddon, bringing forward another striking performance by Noora on vocals supported by the stylish riffs and solos by Joona and Juuso. Last but not least, it’s time for a Power Metal feast entitled Place That We Call Home, where the sound of the guitars makes a potent paradox with the keys by Janne, putting a climatic ending to the album. As a matter of fact, if you go for the Digibook edition of the album you’ll be treated to two excellent bonus tracks, The Lightbringer and Tempest of Blades, both definitely worth the extra investment.

You can enjoy Noora’s soaring vocals and the thunderous Heavy Metal played by her henchmen in Circus of Doom in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course purchase a copy of the album by clicking HERE. In addition, don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel (if you haven’t done so yet, of course). Battle Beast might not sound as metallic as in their early days, but they managed to find an awesome balance between Heavy Metal and pop music that turns their more recent releases (with the exception of No More Hollywood Endings) a beyond enjoyable listen to any fan of good music, it doesn’t matter if that person is a metalhead or not, and that only contributes to elevate their name in the metal scene even more. In other words, welcome to the circus of Heavy Metal by Battle Beast, and don’t forget to bang your head nonstop to each one of the “attractions” of the show.

Best moments of the album: Wings of Light, Freedom, Armageddon and Tempest of Blades.

Worst moments of the album: Where Angels Fear to Fly.

Released in 2022 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Circus of Doom 4:57
2. Wings of Light 4:07
3. Master of Illusion 4:08
4. Where Angels Fear to Fly 3:56
5. Eye of the Storm 4:26
6. Russian Roulette 4:16
7. Freedom 3:44
8. The Road to Avalon 4:30
9. Armageddon 3:43
10. Place That We Call Home 3:47

Digibook bonus tracks
11. The Lightbringer 4:23
12. Tempest of Blades 3:32

Band members
Noora Louhimo – vocals
Joona Björkroth – guitars, backing vocals
Juuso Soinio – rhythm guitars
Eero Sipilä – bass, backing vocals
Janne Björkroth – keyboards, orchestrations, backing vocals
Pyry Vikki – drums