Album Review – Unwanted Guest / Grave Metallum (2022)

Influenced by the rock and metal bands he grew up with in the 80’s and 90’s, a British vocalist and multi-instrumentalist invites us all to listen to his first solo album.

Influenced by the rock and metal bands he grew up with in the 80’s and 90’s, coupled with his unique melodic writing style, England-based NWOBHM band Seventh Son guitarist Dave Fox takes on his solo project under the name Unwanted Guest, a dream come true for Dave himself that was only possible due to the timeout taken by Seventh Son during the Covid-19 pandemic (like what happened with most bands). After the release of the project’s 2021 four-track self-titled debut EP (with all proceeds going to UK’s biggest mental health charity Mind), Dave and his Unwanted Guest are back this year with a full-length opus titled Grave Metallum, offering us all 12 amazing tracks of retro-modernist metal music all written, sung, played and produced by Dave himself, and I’m sure you’ll have a very good time enjoying the full album it doesn’t matter if you’re familiar with Dave’s work with Seventh Son or not.

As you hit play the Hard Rock riffs by Dave will kick off the opening tune Autopsy, a solid tune where his Myles Kennedy-like vocals add an extra dosage of electricity to the overall result, and keeping the energy level high it’s time for Dave to slash his guitar in great fashion in Birth Machine Baby, showcasing not only a pleasant pace but also a catchy and exciting chorus (“One hundred years from now none of us will be around / We’re singing ‘welcome to the nation’ / Birth machine baby coming at you maybe / Save all your dying for me”). The song that carries the name of the project, Unwanted Guest, reminds me a lot of some of the best creations by Velvet Revolver and Stone Temple Pilots spiced up by its 70’s-inspired background keys, whereas the title-track Grave Metallum is a song in honor of all of our deceased rock and metal heroes with Dave being on fire with both his riffs and beats while at the same time he explains why rock is hanging by a thread (but will never actually die). Future Not Fear presents another round of his fusion of Progressive Rock and Metal with more straightforward Rock N’ Roll sounds, with Dave once again hypnotizing us all with his Deep Purple-inspired keys, and there’s no sign of slowing down as he keeps fueling our inner rockin’ fire with Blood on the Saw, bringing forward heavy, dirty riffs combined with more of his classic vocals.

Our lone wolf keeps embellishing the airwaves with his piercing riffs and solos in the Rock N’ Roll party Load Shift, also drinking from his beloved 90’s rock and metal fountain, resulting in an awesome option to add to your road trip playlist. Waterfall not only has a chorus that is as catchy as it can be (“Down the waterfall / One last breath to call / Down the waterfall / Into the darkness”), but it could also be played at any radio station anywhere in the world with Dave doing an amazing job armed with his guitar and bass, whereas Only One Chance sounds a bit generic compared to the rest of the album, albeit Dave still showcases his trademark riffs and melodic vocals during the whole song, of course. Back to a more metallic, thrilling mode it’s time for Takin’ All the Money, where it’s impressive how he is capable of sounding like the dynamic duo Scott Weiland and Slash all by himself in a thrilling hybrid of classic Rock N’ Roll with modern-day Hard Rock; and Dave’s rockin’ feast has no time to end, so grab a cold beer and hit the dance floor to the sound of the awesome Brain Shadow, presenting an amazing pace full of groove and feeling with his sharp riffs walking hand in hand with his old school keys. And finally, let’s all bang our freakin’ heads one last time with Dave in Every Part of Me, also blending progressiveness with more modern sounds while also displaying interesting vocal effects.

After listening to Grave Metallum in its entirety, which by the way you can do on Spotify, you’ll feel extremely energized and ready to rock with the multi-talented Dave Fox, who’s waiting for you on Facebook and on Twitter to provide you with news about Unwanted Guest and other nice-to-know details about his career. Furthermore, in order to show him all your support, go grab your copy of Grave Metallum from the project’s BandCamp page, or click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream his music. As opposed to the name of the project, I’m sure Dave and his Unwanted Guest will be a very welcome guest to your collection of rock and metal albums, inspiring this multi-talented British musician to keep kicking some ass armed with his vocals and all instruments in the project’s future releases.

Best moments of the album: Birth Machine Baby, Unwanted Guest, Future Not Fear and Brain Shadow.

Worst moments of the album: Only One Chance.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Autopsy 3:12
2. Birth Machine Baby 4:24
3. Unwanted Guest 4:39
4. Grave Metallum 4:45
5. Future Not Fear 3:38
6. Blood on the Saw 3:25
7. Load Shift 3:13
8. Waterfall 3:53
9. Only One Chance 3:52
10. Takin’ All the Money 2:51
11. Brain Shadow 4:23
12. Every Part of Me 3:56

Band members
Dave Fox – vocals, all instruments

Metal Chick of the Month – Kristina Vega

Save me, for the punishment of my head…

Let’s turn up the heat here at The Headbanging Moose in this month of June and properly kick off the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere with a metal lady that will absolutely stun you with her powerful vocals and onstage presence. A metal singer and vocal coach known for her work with bands the likes of Born In Exile, SerapiS, and Cobra Spell, she has a fantastic vocal range that allows her to sing not only metal but pretty much any music style, which explains why she’s becoming more and more famous, respected and admired in the current music scene. I’m talking about the multi-talented Kristina Vega, also known as Kris Vega, carrying the flag of Catalan metal wherever she goes armed with her fulminating voice. I bet you’re eager to know more about such skillful musician as much as Kris is waiting for you to join her in her quest for heavy music.

Born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, Kris had her first contact with metal music when she was only eight years old, more specifically a Rammstein song which she has tattooed on her arm (which we’ll talk about shortly). When she was 16 she had a band called MOTH (which didn’t last for too long according to Kris herself), she also spent five years with a Japanese music group where she used to write music and do the guttural vocals, then three more years with a Blues band, and another metal group called Lunes 12. However, Kris had to take a break from music for a while, getting back in action in the metal scene after seeing an ad asking for a vocalist for a local band. It didn’t take long for Born In Exile to take its desired shape and form, catapulting our diva to stardom right after the band’s first release. Furthermore, growing up in the golden years of Nu Metal helped her to detect all her registers, to play with different techniques of singing and to find her way as a vocalist, having also thoroughly studied how harsh vocals, textured voice and hyper-compression techniques work in order to reach different types of sound. A formed vocal coach by Rodrigo Llamazares at Vocal Studio (a specialist in vocal coaching for teachers), she actually started studying electric bass at the age of 14, and two years later she recorded her first album as a bass player and a guttural vocalist.

Formed in 2012 in Barcelona by drummer JuanMa Ávila and guitarists Carlos Castillo and Rodrigo Baez (all from the band Corelyn) with the goal of creating a project with progressive influences inside Heavy Metal that would please fans of bands the likes of Symphony X, Opeth, Dream Theater, Rush, Myrath, Leprous and Circus Maximus, among others, the unstoppable Melodic Progressive Metal outfit known as Born In Exile has been on a roll since its inception, all of course multiplied by one thousand after Kris joined the band in August 2015 with her melodic, raspy and soaring vocals, having recorded with the band their debut opus Drizzle of Cosmos, in 2017, which by the way led the band to play at Barcelona Rock Fest in 2018, their sophomore album Transcendence, in 2020, and an EP titled Live at Vampire Fest, in 2021. Kris mentioned in one of her interviews that she recorded a cover version for Queen’s “The Show Must go On” as a reply to the band’s ad where they were searching for a new vocalist, followed by a short meeting with JuanMa and Carlos, and both were absolutely mesmerized by her vocals, which you can enjoy in all its glory in songs such as Fields On Fire, The Lighthouse of the Haunted Keeper, Enchantress, One More Line, Ziggurat, Revenant and Torch.

Apart from her career with Born In Exile, our talented diva can also be seen blasting her unparalleled vocals with the bands Cobra Spell, Uneven Frame and SerapiS, as aforementioned. As a matter of fact, Kris has just started her stint with Cobra Spell, the Dutch Heavy Metal/Hard Rock outfit led by guitarist Sonia Anubis (Burning Witches, Crypta), having replaced the band’s original vocalist Alexx Panza about a month ago, and although she hasn’t recorded anything in the studio yet with the band you can already enjoy her visceral vocals with Cobra Spell on the road, as she’s now touring with the band despite the extremely short time to rehearse with them. It’s not clear if Barcelona-based Nu Metal project Uneven Frame is still active as there are no news from the band since 2020, but it would definitely be interesting to see what Kris can do in a more alternative style (and you can take a listen at their demos on their YouTube channel); and regarding Progressive Metal project SerapiS, recently formed by Kris together with guitarist Joaco Luís (Mollitiam, Born In Exile), you can enjoy the band’s first three singles on Spotify, or go to YouTube to be stunned by Act I: Defiance, Act II: Dissidence, and Act III: Wistfulness, pointing to a very interesting future ahead of them.

Our multi-talented Kris can also be seen as a guest vocalist for the songs Our Demise, from the 2021 album The Harbour in Me, by Spanish Symphonic Power Metal act Embersland, and The Breathless Season Bane, from the 2021 album Portraits, by Spanish Atmospheric Black Metal horde Perennial Isolation; and as a metal vocal coach at the Metal Academy School of Music, the first school completely devoted to Heavy Metal and Hard Rock founded in 2017 in Barcelona, and as a voice actress for The Monster Factory, a Montreal, Canada-based company specialized in the conception of voices for monsters, zombies, aliens and many more creatures in the video game and film industries provided by metal vocalists the likes of our unstoppable diva.

Highly influenced by a wide variety of styles, from bands like Tool, Arch Enemy, Opeth, Leprous, Slipknot and Jinjer to vocalists like Freddie Mercury and Mónica Naranjo, Kris has already performed in over 500 concerts, singing not only Heavy Metal and Hard rock, but also Blues, Soul, Death, Progressive and Experimental Metal, proving not only how skillful she is, but also how experienced she already is in the music industry. As mentioned, having listened to her first metal song at the young age of eight, more specifically the song Klavier, from the album Sehnchust by Rammstein, thanks to the father of one of her neighbours, Kris quickly moved on to other bands and artists such as Linkin Park, Slipknot, Machine Head, System of a Down, Otep and Arch Enemy, being right now a huge fan of Jinjer, In This Moment, Gojira, Opeth, Devin Townsend, Myrath and Twelve Foot Ninja. When asked if she listens to any bands that she considers some sort of “guilty pleasure”, Kris mentioned Nino Bravo, from her childhood years, Azul y Negro, from her teens, and Evanescence, when she was in her 20’s. In addition, when questioned if she prefers Nightwish or Epica, she said she doesn’t really enjoy their voices, being a much bigger fan of stronger vocals the likes of Jinjer and Battle Beast.

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An avid reader of everything surrounding the voice anatomy, Kris is also writing a book to help singers who are just starting their careers and trying to find their own voice, focusing on all obstacles a vocalist might find along the way as for example not being told what’s working and what’s not, which by the way happened to her in the beginning of her career. She believes anyone can sing as long as it represents your own voice and delivers the desired message, always working not only her students’ voices but also their fears, their landscapes and so on, trying to transfer as much courage and strength to all of them during her classes.

It was right after the release of Drizzle of Cosmos that Kris and her bandmates from Born In Exile began touring on a more professional level, having played in different countries and festivals, such as Barcelona Rock Fest. She mentioned that when the band received an email informing they were selected to open that festival she almost cried of pure joy, also saying their performance at the festival was one of the most memorable moments of her life so far. She mentioned in one of her interviews how difficult it is to perform onstage for a massive festival crowd, the importance of being mentally prepared, and the energy shared with the crowd. Still talking about touring, Kris said that she loves to play alongside renowned bands as everything feels a lot more professional, and that although organizing tours (especially outside of Spain) is a lot of work, all that effort is definitely worth it.

As a prominent woman in Heavy Metal, Kris commented on how she sees the role of women in the current metal scene and the type of treatment she receives from men. She mentioned that despite a few bad experiences and situations in her career, one of the most beautiful things in her life is the fact she’s extremely well treated by her bandmates, who support her in everything and the whole feminist movement. However, she believes women in metal should stop fighting against each other for different reasons and realize that they’re stronger when united, saying it’s important to stop thinking like a man and avoid at all costs using sexist words and expressions that are stuck inside our minds thanks to the way we’re taught those things by our society. Moreover, Kris also faced some criticism and sexism when she decided to move from her hairdresser job (which she had been doing since she was 15) to pursue her career in music. She used to listen to things such as being a vocalist or working with music doesn’t pay your bills, doesn’t put food on the table, that she should get a “real” job, and so on, but that didn’t stop her from becoming the awesome vocalist she is today.

Regarding the metal scene these days, she said she thinks the musical landscape is unfair, complaining about an empty venue for an excellent band that goes all the way from Australia to Spain, for example, which is frustrating for the musicians involved. In addition, she said she would like to encourage all bands to have more respect and companionship among themselves, and to see more support to local bands by inviting them to open for the foreign headliners, just like what happened to Born In Exile during Barcelona Rock Fest where the band might have played for only 30 minutes, but according to Kris herself it was good enough to show the crowd what they got. And to be honest, even if they had played for only five minutes that would have been more than enough for the metalheads at the festival to witness how amazing the music by Born In Exile is and how powerful Kris’ vocals are, always singing about love, pain, real-life experiences and other related topics, therefore adding an extra personal touch to her thrilling performance.

As aforementioned, Kris is an accomplished vocal coach, offering vocalists not only from Barcelona but from all around the world different options to work with her, including more basic, free courses through the Metal Academy School of Music, or intensive online and in-person courses (which you can get more details by contacting her by email), and she’s waiting for you to begin a very productive and fun partnership in the name of rock and metal music. By the way, you can also click HERE to check all of her official links where you can get to know more about Kris and her career. Lastly, in case you decide to take vocal classes with Kris and it starts to rain, that might be a very good sign, and the reason for that is quite funny. When she was asked about something curious that has already happened with Born In Exile, she said that every time the band is about to do something important, it rains, it doesn’t matter if it’s the recording of a new album, signing with a record label, playing at a famous venue, or anything else. In other words, let’s join the incendiary Kristina Vega in her quest for heavy music, and may the rain fall down on us for many decades to come together with such inspiring musician.

Kristina Vega’s Official Facebook page
Kristina Vega’s Official Instagram

Kristina Vega’s Official Twitter
Born In Exile’s Official Facebook page
Born In Exile’s Official Instagram
Born In Exile’s Official YouTube channel
Born In Exile’s Official Twitter

Concert Review – Gojira & Deftones (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 05/22/2022)

A great night of Progressive, Groove and Alternative Metal in Toronto almost ruined by the total lack of organization and respect for customers by Live Nation.

INTRODUCTION: No VOWWS, and a massive headache caused by Live Nation

The only word I can use to start this review is “nightmare”. All the happiness from the moment I knew Australian Death Pop duo VOWWS was not opening for GOJIRA and DEFTONES at the Budweiser Stage, which meant more Gojira for me, simply vanished when I arrived at the venue and saw the massive line formed for what the so-called organization decided to do to reassign seats based on a “first come first serve” basis that absolutely NO ONE was informed beforehand. I bought floor tickets because I hate seats, and to my surprise I was assigned to seats at the 200 level. It’s like ordering a pizza but receiving a burger instead because “the pizza is over”, right? Not only that, seats at the Budweiser Stage are AT LEAST 40-50% cheaper than floor tickets, so not only I got a burger, but it was one 50% cheaper than the pizza I paid for. Live Nation is the sole responsible for such mess when they decided to move the concert from the RBC Echo Beach (which is basically a huge floor section with no seats) to the Budweiser Stage, and if you’re pissed off just like I am, I highly recommend you submit a huge complaint about the whole situation by EMAIL to Live Nation including your order details, screenshots of your tickets and anything else you might want to send them. This is absolutely ridiculous, and we should receive some sort of refund for their total lack of organization and respect for their customers.

GOJIRA

Moving on to the concerts, although I was completely disappointed and pissed off with our stupid seats, at least France’s own Progressive/Groove Metal masters GOJIRA were capable of reducing my stress considerably with another flawless performance in the city. Mixing some of their classics such as Backbone, Stranded, Flying Whales and Silvera with songs from their latest album Fortitude, including the fantastic Born for One Thing and Amazonia, the quartet comprised of the Duplantier brothers Joe and Mario, plus bassist Jean-Michel Labadie and guest guitarist Aldrick Guadagnino  of KLONE (as Christian Andreu returned home to be present with his first newborn child), inspired the fans in the floor section (not in the seats, of course, which made me even more furious) to jump up and down and slam into the circle pit nonstop during their longer set as VOWWS wasn’t there, as mentioned. Mario is a beast behind his drums, proving why he’s a reference to any rock and metal drummer these days, while also interacting with the audience all the time and throwing lots of drumsticks to the fans during the entire concert. To the floor section fans, of course.

Setlist
Born for One Thing
Backbone
Stranded
Flying Whales
The Cell
Love / Remembrance
Hold On
Grind
Silvera
L’enfant Sauvage
Amazonia
The Gift of Guilt

Band members
Joe Duplantier – vocals, guitar
Christian Andreu – guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie – bass
Mario Duplantier – drums

DEFTONES

After a somewhat lengthy break, it was time for Sacramento, California-based Alternative Metal trailblazers DEFTONES to mesmerize their loyal and supportive fans with a long and very dynamic setlist that traveled through all of their albums until their most recent opus Ohms, released in 2020. Songs like Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away), Swerve City, Change (In the House of Flies) and my favorite of the night, My Own Summer (Shove It), drove the crowd crazy and, for the ones who could make it to the floor section (and sorry for repeating this a thousand times, but I’m really pissed off with what Live Nation did to me and to so many others), the whole concert turned into a massive rock and metal party spearheaded by the band’s charismatic frontman Chino Moreno. And what to say about their lighting? It was a thing of beauty, adding an extra touch of insanity and passion to their solid performance. I’m beyond certain Deftones will return to Toronto several times due to the standing ovation they received from the fans when the concert was over at the Budweiser Stage this Sunday, and hopefully next time EVERYONE who bought GENERAL ADMISSION tickets can actually be in the floor section to jump and enter the circle pits freely without being stuck in a tiny, very uncomfortable and, above all that, unsolicited chair.

Setlist
Pompeji (outro)
Genesis
Rocket Skates
Prayers/Triangles
Royal
Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
My Own Summer (Shove It)
Tempest
Swerve City
Digital Bath
Knife Prty
Beware
Sextape
Diamond Eyes
Rosemary
Bloody Cape
Change (In the House of Flies)
Ohms

Encore:
Lotion
7 Words

Band members
Chino Moreno – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Stephen Carpenter – lead guitar
Lance Jackman – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Fred Sablan – bass, backing vocals
Frank Delgado – keyboards, turntables, samples
Abe Cunningham – drums

Concert Review – Opeth & Mastodon (Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto, ON, 04/22/2022)

And Toronto was finally able to enjoy a night of absolute heaviness and progressiveness by two of the most important bands of the current rock and metal scene worldwide.

OPENING ACT: Khemmis

It looks like everything is back to normal as metal concerts in Toronto (and in the entire Canada) are happening everyday now, and after my return to action on April 13 with Judas Priest it was time to keep the ball rolling and head to the cozy Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto on Friday night for a very special night of Progressive Rock and Metal with the co-headlining tour of OPETH and MASTODON, two bands that definitely know how to put on a wonderful show wherever they go. And besides, the weather was absolutely perfect, with a bright, sunny day and temperatures ranging between 5 and 14 degrees Celsius inspiring us to get out of our homes to bang our heads together with those impressive bands.

Before Mastodon hit the stage, precisely at 7pm it was time for the opening act, American Doom Metal outfit KHEMMIS, to warm us up with their short but very entertaining performance. Named after an ancient Egyptian city, Khemmis showcased all their talent playing songs from their growing discography, including their latest album Deceiver, released in 2021, with songs such as Three Gates and Conversation with Death receiving a very positive return from the crowd that was already present at the venue. All band members were in absolute sync from start to finish, resulting in a solid performance that proved why they were chosen to be the opening act for those two behemoths of intricacy.

Setlist
Avernal Gate
Three Gates
Living Pyre
Isolation
Conversation with Death

Band members
Ben – vocals, guitars
Phil – vocals, guitars
David Small – bass
Zach – drums

MASTODON

Finally, after years of waiting, American Progressive Metal/Rock titans MASTODON finally returned to Toronto to kick some ass with their undisputed, electrifying music. It was around 8pm if I’m not mistaken when Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher, Troy Sanders and Brann Dailor hit the stage with the excellent Pain With an Anchor, from their 2021 album Hushed and Grim, setting fire to the audience eager for their concert, including of course myself, and let me tell you that the wait was absolutely worth it.

Unfortunately, like what happened in the first part of the tour last year, there were no songs from their superb 2017 album Emperor of Sand in their setlist, but that doesn’t mean the show wasn’t awesome, with classics such as Crystal Skull, Megalodon and Black Tongue, intertwined with new songs the likes of Teardrinker and Pushing the Tides, captivating our senses mercilessly and urging us to raise our horns to one of the best bands from the current rock and metal scene. Not only that, the background titantron was simply mesmerizing, especially in beautiful songs like the aforementioned Megalodon and the impressive The Czar, adding an extra kick to the music played to perfection by the quartet.

Of course, their closing song was their biggest hit, the fantastic Blood and Thunder, and let me tell you that since watching the Netflix movie Metal Lords I immediately think of the two boys form the movie escaping from the psychiatric ward when the music starts. Although there were no kids running on stage, the band could witness a lot of crazy metalheads slamming into the circle pit, which inspired them to play even louder, heavier and better than ever. Troy was on fire throughout the entire set, becoming the band’s “frontman”, while Brann was not only flawless behind his drums, but at the end of the concert when he took the mic to say a lot of good things about Toronto, about how the band missed us fans, he also proved to be a very nice and humble guy (who also got worried about someone from the audience who apparently passed out during their concert). Thank you, Mastodon! and please come back to Toronto soon for another amazing night of first-class metal music!

Setlist
Pain With an Anchor
Crystal Skull
Megalodon
The Crux
Teardrinker
Bladecatcher
Black Tongue
The Czar
Pushing the Tides
More Than I Could Chew
Mother Puncher
Gobblers of Dregs
Blood and Thunder

Band members
Troy Sanders – vocals, bass
Brent Hinds – vocals, guitars
Bill Kelliher – guitars, backing vocals
Brann Dailor – vocals, drums

OPETH

After a short break, Sweden’s own Progressive Rock/Death Metal institution OPETH took the stage to distill their unique sound for the delight of their Torontonian fans, and although their most recent album, In Cauda Venenum, is from the already distant year of 2019, nobody seemed to care about that and had a great time enjoying the music played (to perfection) by the band’s frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt and his henchmen. I must confess I’m not a big fan of Opeth as I think their music is sometimes too progressive and their songs too long for playing live, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy what I saw on stage.

My favorite songs from their setlist were by far Hjärtat vet vad handen gör, Ghost of Perdition and Deliverance, mainly due to the additional heaviness and obscurity found in them, but of course their entire show was great, entertaining all of their diehard fans who took over the venue. In addition, I need to say that Joakim Svalberg and Sami Karppinen are two beasts behind their instruments, enhancing the band’s punch considerably. Mikael also enjoyed interacting a lot with the crowd, exchanging a few words with a fan who could speak their mother tongue Swedish, repeating countless times he doesn’t do drugs (except for a few of them), and saying how much he missed playing to his Canadian fans. How long will their Toronto fans need to wait for another round of Opeth’s progressiveness no one knows, but based on the reaction from the crowd I bet everyone would have loved to see that happen again the next day.

Setlist
Livets Trädgård
Hjärtat vet vad handen gör
Ghost of Perdition
Cusp of Eternity
The Devil’s Orchard
The Drapery Falls
In My Time of Need
Sorceress
Deliverance

Band members
Mikael Åkerfeldt – vocals, guitars
Fredrik Åkesson – guitars, backing vocals
Martín Méndez – bass
Joakim Svalberg – keyboards, piano, mellotron, backing vocals
Sami Karppinen – drums

Album Review – Notturno / Obsessions (2022)

A melancholic trip into the obsessive compulsions that take shape within our lives in the form of first-class Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal made in Italy.

Developing its atmosphere through lengthy songs with strong dynamics and pacing, keeping the listener lost in a reverie and crafting an immersive experience at once melancholic and infectious, the newborn Italian Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal project Notturno will take you on a melancholic trip into the obsessive compulsions that take shape within our lives, the psychological torment, and the scourge of madness that takes hold inside the ancient walls of the human psyche with their debut full-length opus entitled Obsessions, peering around the dark corners within all of us. The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Vittorio Sabelli (Dawn of a Dark Age, Suici.De.Pression), Notturno floats between Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal, Doom Metal and chamber music, sounding intimate and possessing a strong character highlighted by the unique and singular expressiveness of female vocalist Kjiel (Eyelessight) and organically driven drum work of Sven. Mixed and mastered by Stefan Traunmuller, and displaying a stylish artwork by Dario Ursino (featuring model Michela Suffritti), Obsessions offer the listener 36 minutes of an absolutely stunning Black Metal sound, pointing to a bright future ahead of such promising project.

The sluggish, somber beats by Sven kick off the first of the three tracks of the album, simply titled Fear, being gradually accompanied by the melancholic guitars and low-tuned bass by Vittorio while building a depressive and obscure atmosphere that will darken your heart and soul, all of course embraced by Kjiel’s smooth but anguished vocals. Furthermore, the guitar work by Vittorio is a thing of beauty, elevating the song’s intensity to a whole new level. Then more of the band’s Depressive Black Metal will invade our senses in Darkness, with Vittorio and Sven being in absolute sync with their respective riffage and slow and steady beats while Kjiel sounds even more perturbed and evil on vocals, adding an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result. And the last song of their triumvirate of darkness and depression, entitled Falling, brings forward Kjiel’s most anguished vocalizations accompanied by the minimalist and reverberating guitars by Vittorio in a lesson in Atmospheric Black Metal, with their despair, hatred and obscurity rising as the music progresses while also presenting elements from Progressive, Experimental and Doom Metal before ending in a beyond Stygian way.

If you want to know more about Vittorio Sabelli and his Notturno, you can find the project on Facebook for news and other details, and of course if you’re a true admirer of Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal with a beyond sinister aura you can purchase your copy of Obsessions as a very special bundle containing a digipack CD, a shirt printed on Gildan softstyle, a logo patch, a signed postcard, a magnet and a logo sticker, as well as a CD or in digital format. Italy has always been an amazing source of first-class Atmospheric Black Metal thanks to bands like Notturno, and may that darkness go on forevermore to the sound of classy and multi-layered albums like Obsessions. In other words, if this is just the first step in the career of Notturno, I can’t imagine what’s next for this newborn entity brought into being by the multi-talented Vittorio Sabelli.

Best moments of the album: Fear and Falling.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Fear 12:49
2. Darkness 9:06
3. Falling 14:55

Band members
Kjiel – vocals
Vittorio Sabelli – guitars, bass

Guest musician
Sven – drums

Album Review – Artamene / Ziggurat (2022)

Behold the debut opus by this Iranian metal horde, setting out on the difficult path of breaking barriers and scaling the cliffs of prejudice.

Setting out on the difficult path of breaking barriers and scaling the cliffs of prejudice, Tehran, Iran-based Heavy/Thrash Metal band Artamene has just unleashed upon humanity their debut full-length opus, entitled Ziggurat, bringing into being much more than just an amalgamation of metal and non-metal styles, but a solid statement that vocalist Soheil Avakh, guitarists Pedram Shitrah and Ali Karimi, bassist Yahya Rahmani and drummer Pooya Shitrah are among us to stay, showcasing their deep and sincere passion for heavy music with each track of their newborn spawn. “Ziggurat is based on Iranian ancient mythology which we tried to show human life in the era that we are living, especially ourselves as an Iranian metal band who are labeled as Satan worshipers and accused as an anti-cultural wave and relate it to the storyline which was told,” commented the band about the album, inviting us all to join them in their quest for Heavy Metal, freedom and equality.

The sinister guitars by Pedram and Ali kick off the opening tune Infinite Escape, with Soheil declaiming the song’s lyrics with tons of anger in his heart (“As the sun appears / Spate of piercing thoughts start to flow / Desertion, illusion, an infinite escape / As you decide to face your fears / The same coward you always have been grown”) in a fusion of Thrash and Groove Metal with Metalcore elements, whereas the band’s guitar duo keeps darkening the skies with their riffage and solos in Fear of Darkness, another heavy and melodic creation by the quintet where Pooya dictates the song’s wicked pace while also presenting hints of Progressive Metal. It’s then time for another neck-breaking extravaganza entitled Heavy Motion, with Yahya and Pooya adding tons of groove to the music armed with their sonic weapons, resulting in an awesome display of heavy music inspired by renowned acts the likes of Pantera and Lamb of God; and in Mayhem the name of the song says it all, sounding brutal and fierce from the very first second with Soheil showcasing his dirtiest and deepest roars of the whole album.

Get ready to slam into the circle pit to the sound of Shining Black, where Pedram and Ali show no mercy for our souls while Yahya is on absolute fire with his metallic bass, or in other words, it’s a solid, progressive and thrilling instrumental feast by Artamene; and Yahya’s bass keeps hammering our heads in Inshushinak, blending the heaviest elements from Groove and Thrash Metal and all spiced up by the gruesome, infernal screams and vociferations by Soheil in paradox with his own clean vocals. The sound of rain ignites the delicate interlude Rain of Paradise, with Pedram and Ali jamming in great fashion, setting the stage for Petrichor, starting in the same enfolding manner as its predecessor before evolving into a melodic and somber musicality, with Soheil’s melancholic vocals walking hand in hand with the whimsical riffs by the band’s guitarists.

As aforementioned, Ziggurat, which is available for a full listen on on YouTube and on Spotify, is much more than just an album of contemporary metal music, but proof that Artamene will keep moving forward no matter what, going against all odds in the name of heavy music and working hard for their place in the scene. Hence, don’t forget to follow those Iranian metallers on Facebook and on Instagram for all things Artamene, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for their wicked videos, and of course, above all that, to purchase a copy of Ziggurat by clicking HERE. Let your hearts shine through this blackened earth, and let the violent but melodic music blasted by Artamene in Ziggurat enter deep inside your soul forever and ever.

Best moments of the album: Heavy Motion, Mayhem and Inshushinak.

Worst moments of the album: Rain of Paradise.

Released in 2022 WormHoleDeath

Track listing
1. Infinite Escape 5:27
2. Fear of Darkness 4:10
3. Heavy Motion 3:54
4. Mayhem 3:50
5. Shining Black 5:24
6. Inshushinak 6:01
7. Rain of Paradise 2:55
8. Petrichor 5:38

Band members
Soheil Avakh – vocals
Pedram Shitrah – lead guitar
Ali Karimi – rhythm guitar
Yahya Rahmani – bass
Pooya Shitrah – 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

Metal Chick of the Month – Adrienne Cowan

So sin ‘til you win, let your demons out! Lady Lightbringer!

It’s time for a true metal opera this February on The Headbanging Moose, courtesy of our multi-talented metal lady of the month. A metal vocalist, poet, vocal coach and musician best known for being the frontwoman and composer for American Symphonic Metal band Seven Spires, among several other amazing metal bands and projects, Adrienne Elizabeth Catli Cowan, who goes by her stage name of Adrienne Cowan, will mesmerize you with her unique vocals, both extreme and classic Heavy Metal clean vocals. In other words, she can sing pretty much any type of metal and non-metal music, from the Symphonic Metal of Seven Spires to Death Metal, Deathcore and Dark Jazz, and I’m sure you’ll have an absolute blast with Adrienne after knowing more about the life and career of such skillful artist.

Born on January 28, 1995 in Houston, the most populous city in Texas and the fourth most populous city in the United States, Adrienne is formally trained in classical and most contemporary styles as a graduate of both Berklee College of Music (with a degree in Music Composition) in Boston, Massachusetts and the Academy of Contemporary Music in the UK, although she was also self-taught in both extreme clean vocals for many years before finally finding a perfect vocal coach in Swedish singer David Äkesson. Her connection with music started a lot earlier than that, though, as since she was a child she was already taking part in choirs and taking piano lessons, performing in musicals and then entering music school, and from there starting to compose her music and to expand her knowledge and skills, especially as a singer. For instance, Adrienne had her first performance as a vocalist at the age of three at an event at the church her family attended, beginning her piano lessons after that at the age of six and being mainly into choir and darker popular musicals such as Phantom of the Opera throughout elementary and middle school. Not only that, her parents pulled her out of high school so that she could attend a music school full-time, so through that show of support she already had a good feeling about her potential skills.

When she was still living in England, in 2012, Adrienne was making demos by herself for a dark and theatrical project she had yet to debut, and after moving back to the United States in 2013 she met Jack Kosto in a bookstore in her first week at Berklee and told him about her project and songs. From there Seven Spires were born, with all band members having extensive musical knowledge and studies, therefore drawing on their backgrounds to express themselves musically without limits of genre or technique. Seven Spires released their first album in 2014, the EP The Cabaret of Dreams, with all of its songs representing half of their 2017 full-length opus Solveig, where not only Adrienne was responsible for all vocals, keyboards, lyrics and songwriting, but also for the production and vocal engineering, showcasing all her talent and professionalism. After Solveig, the band released the full-length albums Emerald Seas, in 2020, and Gods of Debauchery, in 2021, and if you want to enjoy all of the band’s epic creations you can find Seven Spires on Spotify and on YouTube, where you can also have a visual orgasm with their official videos for the songs Lightbringer, Succumb, The Unforgotten Name, The Cabaret Of Dreams, Drowner Of Worlds, Bury You, The Paradox, This God Is Dead, Silvery Moon, The Cursed Muse, and Dare To Live, as well as some live footage, making of’s, behind the scenes and other awesome videos by Adrienne and her crew.

Apart from her career with Seven Spires, you can also find Adrienne and her powerful vocals in distinct bands and projects such as International Power Metal band Light & Shade, with whom she recorded the vocals for the 2016 album The Essence of Everything; International Power Metal/Hard Rock band Sascha Paeth’s Masters of Ceremony, with whom she recorded the vocals (and piano for one track) in the 2019 album Signs of Wings; and American Symphonic Deathcore band Winds of Plague, with whom she recorded the keyboards and backing vocals in the 2017 album Blood of My Enemy. In addition, Adrienne was also part of American Melodic Heavy Metal band FirstBourne from 2016 to 2018, having recorded the vocals and keyboards in their 2016 album Riot and in the 2017 acoustic single Home, and of Frontiers All Stars in 2020 and Riot Underground between 2012 and 2013.

You can also find her singing and playing live with German Symphonic Power Metal band Avantasia since 2018, with American Heavy Metal band Mike Kerr from 2015 until 2018, and with American Power/Thrash Metal band Sonic Pulse. Not only that, Adrienne was also a guest musician in an array of bands and projects, those being vocals for the song I Declare War from the 2020 album The Journey, by German Melodic Death Metal band Deliver the Galaxy; vocals for several songs from the 2021 album The Metal Opera by Magnus Karlsson, by Swedish Symphonic/Melodic/Power Metal band Heart Healer; vocals for the song My Guide My Hunger from the 2018 album As Above So Below, by Italian Melodic Death Metal band Hell’s Guardian; vocals for the song The End of Innocence from the 2017 album Reflections, by American Neoclassical Heavy Metal artist Jimi Mitchell; vocals for the song Mammoth from the 2017 album Pianometal, by American Symphonic/Progressive Metal artist Kyle Morrison; vocals for the song The Truth of the Lion from the 2015 album The Truth of the Lion, by Mike Kerr; harsh and clean vocals for the songs Conjunction of Souls and The Restitution from the 2020 album Pile of Priests, by American Progressive Death Metal band Pile of Priests; vocals for the song Let It Go from the 2018 album Re-Animated, by Italian Power Metal band Trick or Treat; and vocals and lyrics for the 2018 album Lights in the Murk, by Italian Symphonic Black Metal band Yass-Waddah. Do you want more? Because our she-wolf was also responsible for the songwriting for the song Hold Tight from the 2016 EP Dirty Lyxx, by American Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Dirty Lyxx, and she also sung vocals in Black Science’s Freedom (Or Die Trying), featured in the outro of one Camp Camp episode, and sang both a duet with Casey Lee Williams in the RWBY Volume 6 credits song Nevermore, and in the song War of Volume 7. Adrienne has also been a part of the Freelance Orchestra in their RTX 2016 (where to her surprise she ended up in the RWBY music panel) and 2018 concerts, plus Anime Boston 2018, and you can always have a great time watching her own videos on her official YouTube channel.

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Adrienne got into the world of metal music around the age of 11 when her uncle showed her Metallica and Scorpions, but it wasn’t until she found out about musicians the likes of Alexi Laiho, Janne Wierman and Yngwie Malmsteen that she really started to feel at home listening to Heavy Metal. She mentioned it appealed in some way to her classical background, and watching live Children of Bodom videos was quite inspiring. However, she’s not only into metal, but showcases a wide variety of influences in her life. “I’m not a one-dimensional person – I’m a human – so I’m allowed to like other stuff”, she said in one of her interviews. “I’m not a huge K-pop fan or anything, but I really like good pop writing. From a technical standpoint, as a songwriter, I’m like: damn, good for you guys. And there’s a certain sassy energy – it just speaks to me in a way that a lot of metal doesn’t.” Another influence on our beloved diva as a writer are painters of the Romantic period, with German painter Caspar David Friedrich and Russian painter Ivan Aivazovsky being two of her main inspirations. “I’m also a big fan of (the English composer) Edward Elgar – he does this piece called ‘Sospiri Op. 70,’ which is the most beautiful thing, it sounds like the pain of falling in love. It was something I listened to a lot when we were writing this record. And of course, Chopin,” she said, also finding inspiration under night skies and in the darker depths of the human condition to write her lyrics. Adrienne also nurtures an amazing openness with her fans on social media, which she credits to her experience as a My Chemical Romance fan back when she was younger. “This one interview with them came out, and I remember one of the guys in the band saying basically, ‘We say these things in our music, we are a bunch of fucked up guys, and it helps our fans know… you’re not alone.’ That really made me feel less alone when I was a sad teenager, and then when I grew up into a sad adult, I thought, damn, I could be that for somebody else.”

Regarding her singing style, technique and how she maintains her vocal cords in great shape, Adrienne mentioned in one of her interviews that she likes to meditate before shows and uses her instincts to decide what she’ll sing or scream either high or low. “The low death metal style is more present and more grounded and more angry and earthier in a way. The higher black metal screams are more spiritually pitched or spiritually empty — when there’s black metal themes and nihilistic lyrics, of course I’m probably going to scream with that high tone”, said Adrienne. In addition, when she was enrolled at The Academy of Contemporary Music at the age of 16 she joined an after-school club where all metalhead students gathered to jam on a new song every week, opening her eyes to the rest of the metal world and challenging her to vocally try different styles of each subgenre of metal. She also mentioned that she has studied many techniques of singing including theatrical belting, Speech Level Singing, bel canto and even some throat singing, with the hardest part being unlearning things previous teachers had told her in order to properly approach whatever new technique she was learning, and with the very high Power Metal “scream” being one of the styles that took her the longest to develop. In order to maintain her vocal health, she mentioned that she basically has to just mind her sleep and hydration levels, trying to stay out of the direct blast of heaters or air conditioners, and trying not to get sick or allergic. However, at the end of the day, even dehydrated or sick the show must go on, which forced her to develop alternate techniques to sing through sickness.

A huge fan of Lord of the Rings, all forms of art, Gothic style, cheesy Sci-Fi, vampire shows, coffee and fantasy games, Adrienne enjoys mountain hikes, spending time by any shore, and playing JRPG’s (Japanese Role-Playing Games) and games with friends between her musical ventures. “After a long tour, I like to sit at home and sleep in my own bed, play video games, maybe think about going out… If I get to go on a little holiday or something, I love road trips and anywhere remote with alpine forests and quiet waters. Wyoming is great for this, as are many spots on the West Coast. Anything to get me away from people and out of my regular world,” commented Adrienne, who despite being very fond of animals cannot take care of a dog or cat due to her lack of space and time to do so. And when asked which hobbit from Lord of the Rings she would choose to be part of her band for the rest of their days, she provided a curious and fun answer to that. “Either Sam or Pippin, I think. Because I think I’m a Frodo, and I need a support system like Sam. But also I need a Pippin to just make me laugh all the time no matter what, and just help lighten the mood, and tell me to eat my carrots and mushrooms.”

Last but not least, our raven-haired vocalist also had a few interesting words to say about the whole pandemic and how it has been impacting her life on the road with Seven Spires. “All of this resulted in connecting more with our fans online. So although it’s super frustrating to not know exactly when we’re going to be able to play live again, we have found a way to do the online equivalent of hugging people at the merch table and listening to their stories,” said Adrienne, who also mentioned she keeps working hard to entertain and stay in touch with her fanbase, also teaching online, private vocal lessons and running a weekly workshop on everything from orchestration to arranging to songwriting techniques, all of which you can find on Linktree and on Patreon. “Mostly I teach tools for people to be able to express what they have in mind, and I teach from a really emotional standpoint.” And if you want to know more about Adrienne, her likes and dislikes, her inspirations and so on, there are countless interview online with her such as this one to Rock Titan or this one called RichardMetalFan Interviews! Ep. 33: Adrienne Cowan of Seven Spires/Winds of Plague/Avantasia, where she talks about her journey with music from where she started until now. Having said all that, what are you waiting for to let Adrienne reach deep inside your heart and take you on a breathtaking musical voyage to the sound of her stunning vocals?

Adrienne Cowan’s Official Facebook page
Adrienne Cowan’s Official Instagram
Adrienne Cowan’s Official YouTube channel
Adrienne Cowan’s Official Twitter
Seven Spires’ Official Facebook page
Seven Spires’ Official Instagram
Seven Spires’ Official YouTube channel
Seven Spires’ Official Twitter

“I know that if I’m just stagnant and sitting on my ass, I’m not going to be happy. So if I want to be happy, I have to do something about it.” – Adrienne Cowan

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021

“I wanted to play drums because I fell in love with the glitter and the lights, but it wasn’t about adulation. It was being up there playing.” – Charlie Watts

And there goes another year without a single metal concert in Canada. Another year full of uncertainties, fears, polarization, restrictions, and everything else we “love” so much. I honestly don’t know what to say about 2021 apart form the fact it was undoubtedly much better than 2020, but that means nothing considering the total nightmare that 2020 was. We lost a lot of huge names in the rock and metal scene such as Joey Jordison, Dusty Hill, Mike Howe, Johnny Solinger, Marsha Zazula, Alexi Laiho, John Hinch, John Lawton, Charlie Watts and Hank Von Hell, among many others. Tons of festivals including Download, Wacken Open Air, Hellfest, Bloodstock Open Air, Sweden Rock Festival and Dynamo MetalFest were scheduled to return this year after the 2020 editions of those festivals were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but unfortunately Sweden Rock, Hellfest, Download and Wacken Open Air were once again cancelled. With that said, why do we metalheads still believe in a better future? Is it because, despite all adversities, our favorite bands released some of their best albums from the past few years?

Hence, as new lockdowns are being imposed upon us in a never-ending pandemic loop, there’s not much we can do but enjoy The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, keeping us sane until this madness is finally over. Or maybe I should say if it will be over one day, of course. There’s a bit of everything for all types of fans, from classic Heavy Metal to the brutality of Death Metal, from the modern nuances of Melodic Death Metal to old school Thrash Metal, and so on, and in my humble opinions one of the most interesting facts about several albums launched in 2021 is their duration, with many of those surpassing the one hour barrier such as Senjutsu, Helloween, Persona Non Grata, Existence Is Futile and Blood on Blood, not to mention the over four hours of music from the Lordiversity boxset, which for me proves how much the bands responsible for those albums love their fans by offering them a lot of new music to enjoy during such difficult times. I would say that even if there are ZERO metal albums launched in 2022, we’ll still have a lot of great music to enjoy throughout the year thanks to all the amazing records released in 2021, don’t you agree?

1. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu (REVIEW)
Behold another masterpiece by the one and only Iron Maiden with its 82 minutes of tactics, strategy, war, resilience and determination.
Best song of the album: Hell on Earth

2. Helloween – Helloween (REVIEW)
A dream come true for all generations of “Happy, Happy Helloween” fans from all over the world.
Best song of the album: Skyfall

3. Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon (REVIEW)
It’s time to join Trivium in the court of the dragon to the sound of their magnificent new opus.
Best song of the album: Like a Sword Over Damocles

4. Exodus – Persona Non Grata (REVIEW)
Don’t be a “persona non grata” in the world of heavy music and get into the circle pit to the sound of this newborn thrashing beast.
Best song of the album: Lunatic-Liar-Lord

5. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined (REVIEW)
State of the art Death Metal played with passion and breathless precision by the most violent and unrelenting band of all time.
Best song of the album: Surround, Kill, Devour

6. 1914 – Where Fear and Weapons Meet (REVIEW)
Ukraine’s own doom infantry is back into the battlefield with another masterpiece, telling the gruesome tales of World War I.
Best song of the album: Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines)

7. Motorjesus – Hellbreaker (REVIEW)
Let’s drive through the fires of hell together with one of the best bands from the German rock and metal scene.
Best song of the album: Hellbreaker

8. Nervosa – Perpetual Chaos (REVIEW)
A deadly and thrashing lesson in perpetual chaos by four metalheads hailing from Brazil, Italy, Spain and Greece
Best song of the album: Time to Fight

9. Gojira – Fortitude (REVIEW)
Let’s all face up the world to the sound of the new masterpiece by one of the most dynamic bands of the current metal scene.
Best song of the album: Amazonia

10. Blaze Bayley – War Within Me (REVIEW)
The man who will live for a thousand years is back, inspiring us all to fight the war within us and to take our future in our own hands.
Best song of the album: Pull Yourself Up

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Running Wild – Blood on Blood (REVIEW)
12. Lordi – Lordiversity (REVIEW)
13. Cradle of Filth – Existence Is Futile (REVIEW)
14. Diabolizer – Khalkedonian Death (REVIEW)
15. Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida (REVIEW)
16. Moonspell – Hermitage (REVIEW)
17. Lutharo – Hiraeth (REVIEW)
18. Unflesh – Inhumation (REVIEW)
19. Scarlet Aura – Genesis of Time (REVIEW)
20. Coiled Around Thy Spine – From The Ashes (REVIEW)

In addition to all that, let’s bang our heads with our Top 10 EP’s of 2021 to prove once and for all that not all great albums of the year have to be so long. The EP’s from this list are simply awesome, showcasing the band’s talent and their ability to sound epic even if the music lasts for only a few minutes.

1. Eonian – The Nomad (REVIEW)
2. Lady Beast – Omens (REVIEW)
3. The Agonist – Days Before the World Wept (REVIEW)
4. Tantivy – Eyes in the Night (REVIEW)
5. Grale – AGITACIÓN (REVIEW)
6. Bouquet of Dead Crows – Hemispheres Part 2: Cerebral (REVIEW)
7. Kadavereich – Radiance Of Doom (REVIEW)
8. Wolvencrown – A Shadow Of What Once Was (REVIEW)
9. Juliet Ruin – Dark Water (REVIEW)
10. Black Hole Deity – Lair Of Xenolich (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2021? Also, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC+2 on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show! And if you lost some or most of our special editions of The Headbanging Moose Show, including our Top 20 Underground Albums of 2021 – Parts I and II, go to our Mixcloud page and there you have hours and hours of the best of the independent scene, sounds good?

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2022!

And before I go, I’ll leave you with some touching words by Mr. Lordi and his crew of monsters…

Something something blah blah to you
All the sincere wishes come true
I put vengeance on my wish list
And that’s what Santa brought
So have a merry something and a happy blah blah blah

Album Review – Immaterium / The Primal Evil EP (2021)

This newborn project from Poland is ready to stun us all with its debut EP, offering us all a journey through the realms of Symphonic and Progressive Metal.

Inspired by the aggressive guitars of Tesseract and Gojira, the epic orchestrations of Wintersun and the powerful vocals of Wind Rose and Rhapsody of Fire, Polish self-taught songwriter and composer Ma’ar Gareth is ready to unleash upon humanity The Primal Evil, the debut EP by her Symphonic/Progressive Metal project Immaterium. Featuring guest vocalists Filip Robertsson from Sweden, Craig Cairns (Midnight Prophecy, Cosmic Void) from the UK and Lucas Rodrigues (FerReus, Hell Gun) from Brazil, as well as multi-instrumentalists Zebyl from Romania and Barthelemy from France, The Primal Evil is a stunnig debut effort by Ma’ar Gareth, who’s responsible not only for all keyboards, synths and orchestrations in the album, but also for all lyrics, which are by the way based on Sci-Fi and fantasy series, resulting in a journey through the realms of Symphonic and Progressive Metal that shall please all fans of those subgenres of heavy music.

Like the soundtrack to a fantasy movie, Ma’ar brings forth epic orchestrations and eerie piano notes accompanied by the operatic vocals by Lucas in The Phoenix Falls, while Barthelemy takes takes care of the more metallic part of the music with his classic riffs and beats. Then investing in a more Progressive Metal sonority it’s time for Vargöld, When All Is Dust, where Zebyl plays all guitars, bass and drums while Filip fires his Dream Theater-inspired vocal lines, all of course embraced by Ma’ar’s epic sounds; and continuing to explore mystical lands it’s time for the Symphonic Metal tune Hymn Of The Warmaster, this time with Craig on the vocal duties, while the music exhales groove and heaviness. Lastly, Ma’ar and her henchmen Filip and Zebyl offer our ears a fusion of Symphonic, Progressive and Groove Metal entitled The Curse Of Enlightenment, presenting strong elements from the music by Gojira, Fear Factory and Therion, sounding futuristic and somber at the same time.

You can stream The Primal Evil in its entirety on YouTube (and most probably also on Spotify) starting December 14, and also show your support to Ma’ar Gareth by following Immaterium on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to the project’s YouTube channel, by streaming its music on Spotify, and above all that, by purchasing the EP from its own BandCamp page or from Apple Music. The Primal Evil showcases not only a very promising start to Immaterium, but also all the passion for heavy music and epic tales by the project’s mastermind Ma’ar Gareth, leaving us eager for more of her captivating music in a not-so-distant future, and who knows, perhaps that will come in the form of a full-length concept album for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: Vargöld, When All Is Dust and The Curse Of Enlightenment.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. The Phoenix Falls 4:13
2. Vargöld, When All Is Dust 6:32
3. Hymn Of The Warmaster 5:32
4. The Curse Of Enlightenment 4:55

Band members
Ma’ar Gareth – keyboards, synths, orchestrations

Guest musicians
Filip Robertsson – vocals on “Vargöld, When All Is Dust” and “The Curse Of Enlightenment”
Zebyl – guitars, bass and drums on “Vargöld, When All Is Dust”, “Hymn Of The Warmaster” and “The Curse Of Enlightenment”
Craig Cairns – vocals on “Hymn Of The Warmaster”
Barthelemy – guitars, bass and drums on “The Phoenix Falls”
Lucas Rodrigues – vocals on “The Phoenix Falls”