Album Review – Pentral / What Lies Ahead of Us (2021)

This multi-talented metal unity from Brazil is ready to embellish the airwaves with their excellent new album, aiming at making the world a better place to live.

3.5rating

pentral-what-lies-ahead-of-us-2021Brazilian Heavy Metal unity Pentral, which by the way is Latin for “spirit”, mixes many sorts of global influences in their music while at the same time trying to honor the groove, unique harmonies, atmosphere and melody found in Brazilian music. Comprised of brothers Victor Lima (vocals and guitars) and Vagner Lima (drums), as well as Joe Ferry (bass), three Brazilians whose passion for rock music is only rivalled by their desire to make an album which contributes towards making the world a better place to live, the band has just released the excellent What Lies Ahead of Us. Produced by Pentral and Tim Palmer, mixed by Tim Palmer, mastered by Justin Shturtz and featuring a stunning artwork by Heidi Taillefer, the album travels through the realms of progressive and alternative music flawlessly, inspired by classic sounds from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. “The album was recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic and it was a huge challenge wearing face masks almost every time. There was tension and fear among the musicians and engineers of getting infected. Besides that, the songs are not “straight”. Pentral uses a lot of uncommon and odd time signatures and harmonies, so it was pretty hard to record the final version of the tracks. Atmosphere, harmony, melody, groove and a strong message to make people think. For the band, this is what music is all about,” commented Victor about the recording process.

The hypnotic voices by guests Isabella Trindade and Ivan Teixeira will captivate your senses before Pentral come crushing in Silent Trees, with Victor’s epic vocals walking hand in hand with the classic beats by Vagner, sounding very detailed, smooth and progressive, whereas again traveling through the realms of Progressive Rock and Metal the trio brings into being the thrilling All My Wounds, where Victor is on fire with his wicked riffage accompanied by the low-tuned, rumbling bass by Joe. Then blending the heaviness and modernity of Alternative Metal with their core sonority we’re treated to the incendiary Disconnected, with Vagner once again kicking some ass with his intricate beats; while slowing things down a bit the band delivers a somber intro in Letters From Nowhere, evolving into a dark Progressive Rock extravaganza led by Victor’s stylish guitar lines. And in Aiming For The Sun we face poetic lyrics declaimed by Victor (“Wake up, back from dawn of the dead / Many yearned for your head / Unfair forgive the ones / Who sent you there as they will drag / Themselves beneath instead / Get out at once and run”) while the music offers our avid ears an electrifying hybrid of traditional Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock.

It’s time to sit down, relax and enjoy the serene ballad A Gift From God, where Victor steals the spotlight with his passionate vocal performance, keeping the atmosphere as ethereal and mesmerizing as possible until the very last second, while the thunderous bass punches by Joe ignite the multi-layered, epic tune No Real Colour In Souls, offering our ears over eight minutes of awesomeness in the form of progressive beats, slashing riffs and cryptic vocals, living up to the legacy of 70’s and 80’s rock and metal, with the guitar solos by Victor being the icing on the cake. Then more of their dynamic and atmospheric mix of rock and metal comes in the form of The Shell I’m Living In, exploding into a more aggressive sound thanks to the enraged vocals by Victor and the pounding beats by Vagner, followed by Are You Satisfied?, where the metallic bass by Joe brings the groove to the music and with Victor delivering soulful vocals and guitar lines accompanied by the progressive drumming by  Vagner. It goes on for way too long, though. Finally, closing the album the band offers another musical voyage through the realms of Progressive and Alternative Rock and Metal entitled The Law, with its acoustic guitars adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result.

pentral-2021You can listen to What Lies Ahead of Us in its entirety on Spotify, but of course I highly recommend you purchase a copy of the album by clicking HERE, therefore showing your true support to Brazilian underground rock and metal. In addition, don’t forget to follow the trio on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their classy music and beautiful videos. After all is said and done, it’s a pleasure witnessing a band like Pentral not only delivering awesome music to our ears, but even more important than that, offering us all meaningful music, trying to make the world a better place for all of us as already mentioned through their distinguished compositions, and by doing that I’m sure they’ll win the hearts of rock and metal fans from all over the world, inspiring the trio to keep moving forward and embellishing the airwaves with their music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: All My Wounds, Aiming For The Sun and No Real Colour In Souls.

Worst moments of the album: Are You Satisfied?

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Silent Trees 7:13
2. All My Wounds 4:29
3. Disconnected 4:37
4. Letters From Nowhere 6:53
5. Aiming For The Sun 5:52
6. A Gift From God 5:53
7. No Real Colour In Souls 8:28
8. The Shell I’m Living In 4:06
9. Are You Satisfied? 7:54
10. The Law 8:43

BandCamp bonus tracks
11. Silent Trees (Radio Edit) 4:47
12. Aiming For The Sun (Radio Edit) 4:02

Band members
Victor Lima – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Joe Ferry – bass
Vagner Lima – drums

Guest musicians
Tim Palmer – additional guitars, tambourine and keyboards
Ivan Teixeira – keyboards
Yaniel Matos – cello
Isabella Trindade and Ivan Teixeira – voices on “Silent Trees”

Album Review – Juggernaut / La Bestia (2021)

Let’s slam into the circle pit to the sound of the brand new album of old school Thrash Metal by these four talented and unstoppable beasts hailing from Brazil.

Born in the year of 2005 in the Brazilian city of Blumenau, in the state of Santa Catarina, Thrash Metal outfit Juggernaut has just unleashed upon humanity their third full-length opus, entitled La Bestia, or “the beast” in English, offering fans of bands like Death, Sadus and Destruction a very good reason to slam into the circle pit to the sound of its eight unrelenting tracks infused with Progressive Rock and Metal influences. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Edgar Maccoppi at Edgar Maccoppi Áudio Estúdio, La Bestia began to take its shape and form back in 2017 with a very noble goal of providing us fans an honest album of the purest renowned Santa Catarina Thrash Metal you can think of with a lot of participation in the writing and composing process by all members, those being Cicero on vocals, Célio Jr. on the guitars, Valda on bass and Alefer on drums, and let me tell you that the final result lives up to its hype, sounding as fast, heavy and technical as our good old Thrash Metal demands.

The classic beats by Alefer kick off the thrashing metal madness TerrorISIS Squad, with Cicero’s vocals bringing hints of Black and Death Metal to their music, feeling absolutely inspired by the golden years of our beloved Thrash Metal, followed by Puppets of Society, as fast and demented as the opening track, where Célio Jr. continues to slash his stringed axe mercilessly while Valda and Alefer make the earth shake with their thunderous kitchen in an old school, in-your-face and massive display of their passion for heavy music. There’s no time to breathe as those Brazilian headbangers keep blasting sheer aggression in Hollow Surface, where Célio Jr. and Valda add their share of progressiveness to the overall result accompanied by the breaks and variations provided by Alefer’s beats, whereas investing into a blend of a galloping rhythm and a pure thrashing sonority we’re treated to Man of a Thousand Faces, with Cicero’s raspy roars and gnarls being exactly what’s needed to talk about all the lies, deceive and hate featured in the song’s lyrics.

Then it’s time for the quartet to hammer our cranial skulls once again with the Progressive Thrash Metal tune Human Template, keeping their core rebelliousness intact and therefore bringing into being a very entertaining and intricate mosh pit feast, not to mention Valda’s sick bass punches; and never tired of delivering 80’s Thrash Metal to us fans, Célio Jr. takes the lead with his classic riffs and solos in Useless Generation, while Alefer alternates between bestial moments and more complex passages on drums. The fulminating title-track La Bestia represents everything Juggernaut stands for, sounding violent, groovy and rebellious form start to finish, with its more progressive start morphing into a neck-breaking, venomous vibe where Cicero roars a mix of Portuguese and Spanish words to discuss about all issues found in Latin America such as slavery, hunger and crime, before the quartet offers us a cover version for Starship’s hit single We Built This City, from their 1985 album Knee Deep in the Hoopla (and you can check the original version HERE), with the band turning such upbeat pop hymn into a true headbanger where they managed to maintain the original song’s core essence while adding their own thrashing touch to it.

You can have a very good taste of what Thrash Metal made in Santa Catarina is all about by streaming the full album on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would definitely buy a copy of it from the band’s own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, showing your utmost support to the Brazilian underground scene. In addition, don’t forget to give Juggernaut a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to know more about the music by those talented thrashers from Brazil. The thrashing beast carefully brought forth by Juggernaut is ready to attack, and you better get ready because things inside the band’s sick circle pit are about to get beyond serious.

Best moments of the album: Puppets of Society, Human Template and La Bestia.

Worst moments of the album: Useless Generation.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. TerrorISIS Squad 4:40
2. Puppets of Society 4:46
3. Hollow Surface 4:30
4. Man of a Thousand Faces 3:57
5. Human Template 4:15
6. Useless Generation 4:46
7. La Bestia 5:32
8. We Built This City (Starship cover) 3:34

Band members
Cicero – vocals
Célio Jr. – guitars
Valda – bass
Alefer – drums

Album Review – Captain Naysayer / Captain Naysayer EP (2021)

All aboard the Rock N’ Roll vessel captained by a talented five-piece Belgian crew, taking you on a trip through the unruly waters of rock and metal music to the sound of their self-titled debut EP.

Starting as a wet dream of guitarist Daan and drummer Evert from a Belgian rock band named The DeVilles, Keerbergen, Belgium-based Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock act Captain Naysayer are ready to rock your world to the sound of their self-titled debut EP, bringing to the table a fun and vibrant sound inspired by 70’s Rock N’ Roll. Comprised of the aforementioned Daan and Evert together with their countrymen Tom on keyboards and Bert on bass, as well as Brazilian vocalist Arthur, who by the way joined the band from overseas after seeing their online post to lure some candidates for the job, Captain Naysayer take no prisoners in their quest for classic rock and metal, offering to us all six undisputed songs that go from the most classic form of Rock N’ Roll to heavier and more melodic passages, and the final result will certainly put you to dance and bang your heads together with the boys like there’s no tomorrow.

Arising from the bottom of the ocean like a true kraken, Captain Naysayer start blasting their 70’s Rock N’ Roll in Black Silhouette, spearheaded by the smashing beats by Evert and the classic vocals by Arthur, with the Axel Rudi Pell-inspired keys by Tom being the icing on the cake. And more of their old school rock music is offered in the form of Changes, where Daan’s soulful riffs and Bert’s low-tuned bass add an extra touch of nostalgia to the overall result, not to mention how rhythmic and pleasant the drumming by Evert sounds; followed by Voodoo Lovin’, an amazing display of Psychedelic Rock with a Southern Rock twist where the lyrics declaimed by Arthur couldn’t have been more Hard Rock than this (“Since we first met you put me through a test / Going through the ringer on the tip of your finger / It was hard each day just to get a little closer to you / It was like a spell, it was like a trance / Nothing in my mind except for the desire / For the fire that was burning in between your legs”).

After such powerful start, the second half of the EP kicks off with I See Danger, showcasing a Placebo-like vibe in Arthur’s strident vocals accompanied by some tribalistic elements and the Rock N’ Roll riffage by Daan. In addition, tons of progressiveness flows from all instruments, with Tom’s keys bringing electricity and epicness to their core sound in another ode to rock and metal music. Then smooth keys and a whimsical atmosphere suddenly explode into a Jethro Tull-like sonority in Blue Eyed Mask, a delicate ballad by Captain Naysayer where the vocals by Arthur exhale poetry and melancholy from start to finish, whereas they showcase their Deep Purple vein and passion for classic Progressive Rock and Metal in the closing tune Living Again, where Tom is on fire with his ass-kicking keys while Evert and Bert bring the Blues to the music, all spiced up by an incendiary performance by Arthur on vocals while ending in the most vibrant way imaginable.

If you want to know more about Captain Naysayer before boarding their Rock N’ Roll vessel, you can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and plans for the future, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music and videos, and of course purchase their thrilling EP from BandCamp and stream it on Spotify (or simply click HERE to choose your favorite version of the album). I’m sure those Belgian musicians (and of course their Brazilian vocalist) will love to hear from you, keeping their inner rockin’ fire burning and, therefore, inspiring them to move forward in their career and continue to embellish the airwaves with their great fusion of old school Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Blues, carving their names in the small but always prolific underground Belgian scene.

Best moments of the album: Voodoo Lovin’ and Living Again.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Black Silhouette 4:27
2. Changes 3:53
3. Voodoo Lovin’ 4:18
4. I See Danger 3:33
5. Blue Eyed Mask 4:23
6. Living Again 5:09

Band members
Arthur – vocals
Daan – guitar
Tom – keys
Bert – bass
Evert – drums

Album Review – Shocker / Shocker EP (2021)

Enjoy this journey through the past, present and future of rock and metal music brought forth by five hardworking and talented Belgian “shockers”.

Formed somewhere in 2018 in Kuurne, a municipality located in the Belgian province of West Flanders, from an old idea by frontman Sammy Peleman (After All, September Syn) and bassist Koen (when Sammy performed as a guest vocalist in Koen’s cover band Back to Back), Shocker are a Heavy Metal and Hard Rock outfit that doesn’t like to be stuck to any boundaries or labeled as just one specific music style, bringing to our ears an amalgamation of rock and metal genres and subgenres with a strong 70’s Psychedelic Rock vibe to make things more entertaining and vibrant. Now in 2021 it’s time for Sammy and Koen, together with their bandmates  David Vandewalle (Anesthesy, Artrach) on the guitars, Chris Dedeurwaerder (Phoenix Rebellion) on guitars and keyboards, and Jelle Vandewalle on drums, to release their debut self-titled EP, containing four no shenanigans rockin’ songs that will take you on a journey to the past, bring you back to the present, and show you that the future of Rock N’ Roll is safe thanks to hardworking and talented bands like those Belgian rockers.

And let Shocker’s party begin with some good old, electrifying Rock N’ Roll in the opening tune Thrillseeker, with David and Chris bringing a touch of 80’s metal to the music with their riffs while of course Sammy kicks some ass with his Glam Metal vocals; whereas switching gears to a darker sonority found in some of the more contemporary songs by Iron Maiden they offer us all Twisted Shape of Man, before Jelle begins pounding his drums accompanied by the rumbling bass by Koen and the incendiary riffs from the band’s guitar duo. Then Koen ignites the band’s somber machine with his low-tuned, metallic bass in The Genuine Falls while Sammy declaims the lyrics with tons of passion and introspection, resulting in a classic Heavy Metal tune that slowly and gradually accelerates its pace until reaching an epic, galloping sound led by Jelle’s beats, also infused with a few welcome Progressive Rock and Metal nuances. Lastly, closing the EP it’s time for some groove in the Hard Rock and Hair Metal extravaganza titled Breaking the Silence, where the strident riffs and solos by David and Chris walk hand in hand with Sammy’s soaring vocals, therefore putting a classic conclusion to their debut effort.

Despite the fact that the EP is relatively short in duration, with the four songs lasting for a combined running time of a little less than 23 minutes, it’s indeed an amazing indication of where those five skillful musicians are headed to in their future releases, not to mention their progressive vein allows them to experiment a lot more than other regular bands, which of course means we can expect a few good surprises from Shocker anytime they release a new EP or full-length album. Furthermore, as a completely independent band that loves the DIY style from the bottom of their hearts as much as they love rock music, they need our support and admiration to keep moving forward in their career, so why not paying them a visit on their official Facebook page not only to provide your feedback on their music, but more important than that, to purchase their newborn EP and to keep on rockin’ in the free world? That’s what electrifying rock music like what those Belgian “shockers” have to offer us all is all about, and that’s pretty much all that we need in our lives.

Best moments of the album: The Genuine Falls.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Thrillseeker 5:07
2. Twisted Shape of Man 6:56
3. The Genuine Falls 5:17
4. Breaking the Silence 5:26

Band members
Sammy Peleman – vocals
David Vandewalle – guitars
Chris Dedeurwaerder – guitars, keyboards
Koen – bass, backing vocals
Jelle Vandewalle – drums

Album Review – Rioghan / Blackened Sky EP (2021)

An up-and-coming Finnish poet and lyricist translates her work into music in her debut EP, deeply rooted in Progressive, Gothic and Progressive Metal.

Formed in 2019 by Finnish singer Rioghan Darcy, Lapua, Finland-based Alternative/Gothic Metal entity Rioghan is deeply rooted in Progressive, Gothic and Progressive Metal, translating into fresh and captivating music Rioghan’s work as both a poet and a lyricist. Now in 2021 our dauntless artist teamed up with Jonne Soidinaho, Eemeli Bodde and Atte Pohjonen, all skilled musicians from the Finnish music scene, to come up with a four-song EP entitled Blackened Sky, her debut installment as a vocalist. With all instruments being recorded and programming done by Eemeli and Jonne in various locations while vocals were recorded with Ville Hautaluoma in his studio in Seinäjoki, Finland, Blackened Sky brings something new to the table, being recommended for fans of rock and metal music who are not afraid of exploring newer, more alternative lands that are at the same time heavy, obscure, whimsical and fascinating.

Atmospheric and ethereal form the very first second, the opening track Hollowness already presents Rioghan’s delicate, enfolding vocals boosted by the song’s gentle background keys in a stylish fusion of Progressive and Alternative Rock and Metal, whereas sick Groove Metal riffs and bass punches together with tribalistic beats generate the perfect ambience for Rioghan’s piercing voice in Enough, where she showcases her more aggressive side and, therefore, turning this song into a must-listen for fans of the music by bands like Tesseract and Jinjer. Then investing in a much more alternative sound Rioghan brings forth the stylish Wither, where you won’t find the heaviness of the guitars from the previous song but instead electronic and atmospheric elements like what’s seen in the music by Lorde; and lastly, it’s time for an embracing, orchestral ambience in Corrupt, with Rioghan being supported by classic acoustic guitars while the music flows smoothly until everything fades to the sound of her comforting vocals.

I guess there’ll be a lot of discussion among fans of alternative music if Rioghan is rock, metal or something else, and that’s in my humble opinion the beauty of her music, avoiding any labels while at the same time bringing forth stunning elements from an array of musical styles, with Blackened Sky perfectly representing the first step in her promising career. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to Rioghan by following her on Facebook and on Instagram, by streaming her music on Spotify, and of course, by purchasing Blackened Sky from her own BandCamp page (or by pre-saving it to your desired music library by clicking HERE). I truly hope she doesn’t take too long to mesmerize us all once again with another EP or, even better, with her first full-length album, but until then let’s close our eyes and relax to the sound of the unique creations found in Blackened Sky, a short and sweet display of what this talented musician from the land of ice snow is capable of doing.

Best moments of the album: Enough.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Hollowness 3:25
2. Enough 4:46
3. Wither 3:18
4. Corrupt 3:26

Band members
Rioghan Darcy – vocals

Guest musicians
Eemeli Bodde & Jonne Soidinaho – all instruments, programming

Metal Chick of the Month – Cammie Gilbert

Holding on to everything you say… Cause’ your words they paint a picture of me…

In a very difficult year where the world sadly witnessed an increase in violence and racism against black people, and of course the more-than-necessary rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in their fight for freedom, liberation and justice, we at The Headbanging Moose want to share with all of you our humble tribute to another black woman who has been brilliantly fighting all that racism and showing to the world black women have their place in heavy music, just like other rock and metal divas who have already been honored here on our webzine like Melissa Bonny, Militia Vox, Alexis Brown, Thalìa Bellazecca and Kayla Dixon. I’m talking about the multi-talented and gorgeous vocalist and songwriter Cammie Gilbert, the stunning frontwoman for American Progressive Rock and Metal act Oceans of Slumber, a band that has already been labeled by many as “Opeth or Katatonia with female vocals”, but that in my opinion managed to craft their own sound and style, embellishing the airwaves with their delicate but at the same time scorching creations.

Born on October 8, 1987 in Shepherd, a city located in San Jacinto County, Texas, in the United States, Cammie joined Houston, Texas-based Oceans of Slumber at the age of 27, more specifically in the year of 2014 after the departure of the band’s former vocalist Ronnie Allen, who had been with the band since their inception in 2011. Cammie, who’s by the way on a solid and healthy relationship with the band’s founder, drummer and pianist Dobber Beverly, the sole reminiscent of their original lineup, became the primary songwriter for the group after joining, having already released with Oceans of Slumber the EP Blue, in 2015, followed by the full-length albums Winter (2016), The Banished Heart (2018) and more recently Oceans of Slumber (2020), all available for a full listen on Spotify. You can enjoy tons of amazing official videos of Cammie and Oceans of Slumber kicking some serious ass on their YouTube channel, including the songs The Decay Of Disregard, Pray for Fire, The Colors of Grace, The Adorned Fathomless Creation, Winter, To the Sea (A Tolling of the Bells), The Banished Heart, Strange Fruit, Suffer The Last Bridge, a cover version for Candlemass’ Solitude, an acoustic version for Turpentine, and a live in the studio version for the song This Road.

Currently comprised of the aforementioned Cammie and Dobber together with keyboardist Mat V. Aleman and newcomers Jessie Santos and Alexander Lucian on the guitars and Semir Ozerkan on bass, Cammie said that the band’s former guitarists Sean Gary and Anthony Contreras and bassist Keegan Kelly wanted to explore different influences and styles which never fit with what Oceans of Slumber were doing at that time, the kind of tension that’s absolutely normal, but she also said there were tensions as soon as she got into the band, resulting in a split between the former members not wanting to be “female fronted”. “There is a certain metal crowd that thinks its a gimmick. I’m not growling, I just sing clean and am emotional, but a lot of male singers have that emotion too. There’s just stigmas that make anything a woman does, the wrong thing for metal. We had a couple of those old school attitudes and transition wasn’t their strong suite,” mentioned Cammie in one of her interviews.

Apart from her years with Oceans of Slumber, Cammie is also the lead singer for a Houston, Texas-based project called Genoa Band together with Dobber and guitarist Christian Larson, another branch from Oceans of Slumber’s musical tree drawing upon the lyrical and atmospheric production of bands and artists like Nick Cave, Portishead and This Mortal Coil while still sounding heavy but more intimate, playing a fusion of styles such as Southern, Gothic and Dark Rock. However, there’s nothing officially released by the band and no news since mid-2019 when they announced their first single Paraffin was almost ready to be released, making me think if they gave up the idea of moving forward with the project due to everything that has been going on with Oceans of Slumber, including the recording and release of their 2020 self-titled album. You can also find Cammie as a very special guest in the 2020 album Transitus, by Dutch Progressive Metal/Rock project Ayreon, playing the part of Abby throughout the entire album. “We met a friend of Arjen Lucassen over in the UK and he was interviewing us and asked if there was anything that we wanted to tell Arjen. And so Dobber is like, ‘Yeah, if he could get any of us on an album, we’re big fans, and if you could have him listen to The Banished Heart, that’d be great.’ And so he followed through with that request. Shortly after that Arjen wrote that he loved The Banished Heart and he would love to work with me someday. And we were like, ‘Yeah, of course that’d be great.’ And then maybe a couple more months after that, it was, ‘You want to be on the album?’ And I peed my pants,” commented Cammie about her collaboration with one of her idols in heavy music.

When asked to make a list of the top 10 albums that changed her life, Cammie listed a collection of albums that usually occupy a dark corner of her mind where often emotions outweigh the heaviness of the music, including 40 Watt Sun’s 2011 EP The Inside Room, Agnes Obel’s 2013 album Aventine, Alice In Chains’ 1992 album Dirt (which by the way reminds her why she loves the kind of music that she makes), Anathema’s 2012 album Weather Systems, Eivør’s 2015 album Slør, Evergrey’s 2016 album The Storm Within, Katatonia’s 2016 album The Fall Of Hearts, Swallow The Sun’s 2015 triple album Songs From The North I, II & III, Agents Of Oblivion’s 2000 self-titled album, and last but not least, Type O Negative’s 1996 masterpiece October Rust. “I love Peter Steele. We love Type O Negative, there’s  just nothing like it. We go through a lot of his albums but that’s the main one for me. I love Cinnamon Girl, Be My Druidess and also Wolf Moon. Dobber saw them live once. Super jealous. I’ve just had to make up for it by reading the autobiography, and he buys everything he can as far as media regarding the band. It’s an experience to go through their songs. He [Peter Steele] is such a clever lyricist. It’s the funniest kind of music I feel like I listen to. It brings up my energy and makes me happy,” commented our talented vocalist about the unparalleled work by Mr. Peter Steele (R.I.P.).

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In one of her interviews, when questioned about the lack of more black women in heavy music, Cammie said that it’s due to a multitude of reasons, including sexist comments saying that her voice would fit pop or hip hop music much better than metal, and that clean singing that isn’t symphonic is connotated to sounding pop, which might influence the decision of a black woman to move towards a soul, gospel, R&B or blues direction. Cammie herself was basically told to sing in hip hop or pop and to never go anywhere near rock and metal, but no one ever told her why except for the preconceptions already mentioned. “And what Dobber heard in my voice and what he heard from me… I’m a very melancholy person. I’m in and out of bouts of depression and what I identify with metal and metal-adjacent music is, what I identify with the music that I find, if it makes me, if I’m already sad and it makes me sadder then I’m like, “This is going on a playlist.” And I like things that give me these, not give me these dark feelings, but validate my dark feelings, because I feel like that helps me release them,” said Cammie, also saying that she feels that’s changing as there are more and more alternative black and black metalhead females out there. For instance, her own parents were extremely religious, not allowing her to listen to extreme styles like Death Metal or Grindcore, but that’s different now as younger black kids and people in general can have access to all types of metal music through their phones, for example.

When questioned about the Black Lives Matter movement, racism and if metal has a problem with racism, she said that racism is everywhere, and that it’s something more people have to unlearn than they realize, especially in America. Despite being fortunate enough to not experience too many issues related to racism since joining Oceans of Slumber, she stated that she can no longer approach this subject without a multitude of emotions overtaking her resolve, nor keep the angry tears from welling up and pouring out of her eyes when black senators, mayors, celebrities and brave people online share their frustrations over America’s shortcomings. She feels like her history and the entire country are broken, with George Floyd’s death being a tipping point or a catalyst for a new generation to finally say enough is enough due to the undeniable ruthlessness in which his life was taken. “When you think about the history of America, there’s very little that’s good for anyone who isn’t white. That’s just the truth. It leaves a hollow feeling in your chest taking this information in from so many different outlets. You realize this country isn’t fixing something, it’s letting something go,” complemented Cammie about such delicate matter, also saying that in the days ahead we face the challenge of putting these emotions into goal-focused actions.

Lastly, always evolving as a vocalist and always ready to experiment with her music, Cammie is more than sure Oceans of Slumber are already starting to break out of the Progressive Rock and Metal scene, letting her inspirations guide her music and warning people who already like the band that they’ll have to let go of any expectations for what comes next, leaving us curious to see what the future holds for her and for Oceans of Slumber. Furthermore, as the fantastic vocalist  that she is, Cammie surely misses the stage and performing live to the band’s fans and to newcomers to their progressive world, and they’re already thinking of ways of getting back onstage in Houston obeying all recommended protocols of social distancing to keep everyone safe, including obviously all band members. And, of course, all of us fans of a good fusion of progressiveness, emotions and heavy music can’t wait to see Cammie back to where she belongs, mesmerizing us all with her powerful voice and showing us all black girls can and will forever rock no matter what.

Cammie Gilbert’s Official Instagram
Oceans of Slumber’s Official Facebook page
Oceans of Slumber’s Official Instagram
Oceans of Slumber’s Official Twitter
Oceans of Slumber’s Official YouTube channel

“I am a black woman in America and I am the great, great granddaughter of slaves. Memories upheld only in photographs; as a little girl I would try to imagine what their lives were like. But as it goes, reality unravelled the mystery behind my childish imagination. Now when I see old photos in civil war documentaries, I see their faces. When I watch the grainy black and white footage depicting the Jim Crow era, I see their faces. When I watch the films of the marches inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., I see their faces. And now when I sign into social media and see protestors getting tear-gassed, I see their faces, only now mine is there too.” – Cammie Gilbert

Album Review – Walk In Darkness / On The Road To Babylon (2020)

Walk in darkness on the road to Babylon together with one of the newest names of the Italian Symphonic Metal scene to the sound of their third full-length album.

Born in 2015 as a Gothic Metal project with many influences by guitarist, composer and lyricist Shaman, Italian Symphonic Gothic Metal outfit Walk In Darkness has just released their third full-length opus, entitled On The Road To Babylon, the follow up to their critically acclaimed 2018 album Welcome to the New World. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Virus Recording Studio by Alessandro Guasconi, and portraying a stunning artwork by Brazilian artist Carlos Fides (Artside Studio), On The Road To Babylon presents the band’s captivating atmospheres from their previous efforts, dragging the listener to another dimension as in a psychedelic and shamanic journey through time, a dreamlike journey but only in appearance as the dream is lucid and plausible. Constantly evolving, albeit having originally approached the Gothic Metal genre, the band diverged from its primeval sound to more original and unpredictable paths following the emotional and psychedelic component of music, with their brand new album perfectly representing that evolution in their musicality through the years.

Currently comprised of the aforementioned Shaman together with the talented frontwoman Nicoletta Rosellini (from Kalidia), guitarist Flaming Jack, keyboardist Tio Frank, bassist Monk Key and drummer Arcanus, Walk In Darkness are on fire throughout the entire album, offering us fans a collection of hymns to the sublime beauty of humanity that recedes and declines, dramatically mortal and fleeting but unattainable in its immense poetry. “On the Road to Babylon is a milestone in our endless musical research and evolution, almost like a prophecy and a warning to a world imploding due to pandemic crisis, self-isolation and trans-humanity. Mankind is perpetually on the road to Babylon and once again we are awaiting trial. Our intention is to write original songs with emotional and intense vocal parts combined with atmospheric and heavy music. The album is a concept formed by 9 songs, each of which is surprising and irrepressible because of the melodic and rhythmic solutions, the sweet and strong vocals as well as the deep and engaging lyrics. We directed an attentive gaze to the present and future world, analyzing and thinking about it, and we realized this album with incredible and moving atmospheres. We hope that every human being can listen to this at least once during lifetime on the way to Babylon,” commented Shaman about their newborn opus.

Whimsical keys permeate the air in the gorgeous opening track The Sound Of Rain, morphing into a classic Symphonic Metal feast led by the crushing beats by Arcanus while Nicoletta and guest Emiliano Pasquinelli make a dynamic vocal duo with their respective clean lines and visceral roars, and after such imposing start it’s time for the title-track On The Road To Babylon, starting in a melancholic and dark manner before the scorching riffs by Shaman and Flaming Jack, supported by the rumbling bass by Monk Key, fill out every single empty space in the music, sounding epic and touching until its very last second. Then inspired by the music by renowned European Symphonic Metal bands like Epica, Xandria, Delain and Beyond the Black, Walk On The Sky brings forward another round of slashing riffs, pounding drums and guttural growling, all embraced by Nicoletta’s angelical performance, whereas futuristic elements are thoroughly inserted in their classic sonority in On The Moon Or On Mars, with the keys by Tio Frank bringing a touch of finesse to the overall result, feeling like a hybrid of Progressive Rock and a Metal Opera.

A lot more inclined to old school Gothic Metal, Nothing showcases pensive words declaimed by the charming Nicoletta (“We can see / ships leaving for the stars / along the lines of space-time, / defying the laws of gravity / Only memories / are left in the cone of light / among floating plastic islands / in post-reality”), while in In The Mists Of Time the band enhances their heaviness and epicness considerably, with Nicoletta being amazingly supported by the powerful riffage by Shaman and Flaming Jack. Furthermore, it’s quite easy to visualize their fans hanging their lighters high while singing it together with the band during their live concerts. Then featuring guest vocalist Elisabetta Bettini, the band fires the also extremely melodic and passionate My Restless Wings, where Tio Frank, Mon Key and Arcanus generate a dense base perfect for the band’s guitar duo to shine with their soulful riffs; followed by Time To Rise, one of the first singles of the album, bringing forward the band’s characteristic romance, serenity and an embracing atmosphere while flowing smoothly until the very end and sounding as imposing as good Symphonic Gothic Metal always demands. Lastly, closing the album we have the groovy Critical System Failure, where the heaviness brought forth by Monk Key with his bass creates a gorgeous paradox with the gentle vocals by Nicoletta, resulting in a hypnotizing tune that will leave you eager for more of their music.

The talented metallers from Walk In Darkness are waiting for you to (guess what?) walk in darkness together with them on the road to Babylon, and in order to do that go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, listen to more of their stylish music on Spotify, and of course purchase On The Road To Babylon from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, among other locations. Italy is a well-known source of some of the best Symphonic Metal bands in the entire world, and now with Walk In Darkness solidifying their name with a triumvirate of high-end albums we can rest assured not only the country will remain on top of the “symphonic” food chain, but also that it won’t take long before Nicoletta, Shaman & Co. take your city by storm with their delicate and powerful music wherever you are.

Best moments of the album: On The Road To Babylon, On The Moon Or On Mars and In The Mists Of Time.

Worst moments of the album: Nothing.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. The Sound Of Rain 5:24
2. On The Road To Babylon 6:22
3. Walk On The Sky 4:40
4. On The Moon Or On Mars 4:47
5. Nothing 5:31
6. In The Mists Of Time 5:24
7. My Restless Wings 5:19
8. Time To Rise 5:35
9. Critical System Failure 4:06

Band members
Nicoletta Rosellini – vocals
Shaman – guitars
Flaming Jack – guitars
Tio Frank – keyboards
Monk Key – bass
Arcanus – drums

Guest musicians
Emiliano Pasquinelli – harsh vocals
Elisabetta Bettini – additional vocals on “My Restless Wings”

Album Review – Peculiar Three / Leap Of Faith (2020)

A talented trio of Greek musicians invites us all to their cyclical dance in their first full-length album full of rock emotion, metal aesthetic and prog essence.

“Do you remember what Darwin says about music? He claims that the power of producing and appreciating it existed among the human race long before the power of speech was arrived at. Perhaps that is why we are so subtly influenced by it. There are vague memories in our souls of those misty centuries when the world was in its childhood.” – Sherlock Holmes – A Study in Scarlet

Formed in 2013 in Livadia, a town located in the central part of Greece, Progressive Rock/Metal studio project Peculiar Three, also known as peculiar three or even π3, is inviting us all to their cyclical dance with their first full-length opus Leap Of Faith, following up on their 2014 EP P3culiar. Mixed, produced and mastered at Locomotive Sound Studio by Ektoras Sohos, and displaying a stunning artwork by Greek artist Sotiris Kotsonis, Leap Of Faith was entirely performed and recorded live by vocalist and bassist Valantis Dafkos, guitarist an keyboardist Panos Karkanas and drummer Paris Gatsios, offering fans of the genre 46 minutes of first-class, organic heavy music split into seven new songs plus a very special bonus track, all full of rock emotion, metal aesthetic and prog essence.

Panos kicks of the band’s progressive party with his melodious riffage in Perpetual, gradually accompanied by the rhythmic beats by Paris and the whimsical vocals by Valantis, evolving into a fusion of epicness and creativity; whereas investing into a Black Sabbath-inspired Doom Metal sonority (sounding like their classic “Heaven & Hell” at times) the band offers us all Innermost, featuring a saz solo by guest Mantis Savvidis, with Valantis smashing his bass beautifully and with the music remaining dark and melodic from start to finish. Then we have Inkblot, a Progressive Rock extravaganza by the trio that’s more direct and less dense than its predecessors, where Panos keeps embellishing the airwaves with his riffs while Valantis provides some wicked vocal lines; and a somber and melancholic intro ignites the also entertaining Marginal, blending progressiveness with the heavier sounds of Southern and Stoner Metal, with Paris dictating the pace with his slow and steady beats.

The title-track Leap of Faith is an electrifying feast of traditional rock and metal where all band members are in total sync, with Panos once again slashing his strings in great fashion while also presenting melancholic and somber passages. In The Sentient, less vibrant than the rest of the album, the band goes full progressive and abandons most of their heaviness for a while, and albeit not being truly exciting, it’s still a very pleasant song perfect for admirers of the genre with Panos and Paris making a dynamic duo with their riffs and beats. Peculiar Three get back to a more headbanging sound in Knaves o’ Knives, displaying elements from the music by bands such as Alice In Chains blended with the doom by Black Sabbath and a touch of 70’s rock, resulting in a great jamming vibe by the trio from start to finish. And lastly, featuring orchestrations and keys by guest Panos Makoulis, the bonus track Caliban’s End brings to our ears a serene and inspiring sound, with its acoustic lines and orchestrations walking hand in hand and, therefore, putting a very beautiful ending to the album.

You can enjoy this very entertaining and utterly independent, DIY album of Progressive Rock and Metal in its entirety on Spotify, but of course the best way to show the guys from Peculiar Three your support and admiration is by purchasing the album from their BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, as well as by following them on Facebook and by subscribing to their YouTube channel for more of their music. There’s still a long road ahead of those talented Greek rockers, but the healthy evolution in their sound from their debut EP to Leap Of Faith in terms of creativity and overall sound quality already indicates that the sky is the limit for them, which is not only good new for fans of progressive music, but to anyone who enjoys an honest and fun combination of the thrilling sound of guitars, bass and drums in the name of rock.

Best moments of the album: Innermost and Knaves o’ Knives.

Worst moments of the album: The Sentient.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Perpetual 5:41
2. Innermost 5:40
3. Inkblot 5:44
4. Marginal 5:36
5. Leap of Faith 5:14
6. The Sentient 4:55
7. Knaves o’ Knives 7:10
8. Caliban’s End (bonus track) 5:49

Band members
Valantis Dafkos – lead & backing vocals, bass
Panos Karkanas – guitars, keys
Paris Gatsios – drums

Guest musicians
Mantis Savvidis – saz solo on “Innermost”
Panos Makoulis – orchestration & keys on “Caliban’s End”

Album Review – Enslaved / Utgard (2020)

Once again inspired by Norse mythology, one of Norway’s most prominent bands of all time returns with more of their early Black Metal roots infused with experimentations with 70’s Progressive Rock.

Since their inception in the distant year of 1991, Bergen, Norway-based Progressive Black/Viking Metal horde Enslaved has continued to push their sound into new territories and remain fresh and relevant with each one of their records, which is also the case with their brand new opus entitled Utgard, the fifteenth studio album in their undisputed career. Currently comprised of vocalist and bassist Grutle Kjellson, guitarists Arve Isdal and Ivar Bjørnson, keyboardist Håkon Vinje and drummer Iver Sandøy, the band’s music once again draws heavily on the Viking cultural and religious heritage of their home country for inspiration, with most of the band’s lyrics relating to Norse mythology. Embraced by a somber artwork by Norwegian artist Truls Espedal, Utgard is titled after a location in Norse mythology, even including some Norse lyrics and song titles, while at the same time displaying the band’s early Black Metal roots infused with their experimentations with Progressive Rock from the 70’s, resulting in a very entertaining album for both diehard fans of the band and newcomers to their Viking realm.

Ritualistic vocalizations ignite the flammable and melodic Fires In The Dark, before the acoustic guitars by Arve and Ivar take us to desolate, bitterly cold Norwegian lands in a beautiful depiction of their modern-day Progressive Black Metal. Furthermore, Grutle, Håkon and Iver have a healthy vocal duel with their respective harsh roars and serene clean vocals, increasing the song’s taste considerably. Then leaning towards their more classic Black Metal, but of course also providing their fans elements from their current musical stage, we have Jettegryta, where Iver is on fire with his blast beats and intricate fills while Grutle growls and gnarls in a dark and captivating manner; followed by Sequence, more rhythmic and less visceral than its predecessors, with Grutle’s gnarls being once again effectively supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals. However, the guitar solos seem a bit disconnected from the rest of the music, resulting in a sound that’s not as exciting as expected in the end. Fortunately, in Homebound the band gets back on track, offering our ears beautiful, poetic words vociferated rabidly by Grutle (“When gold blinds / I will see beyond the false torches / The howling will guide us / Walking the plains between worlds / When houses fall / I will be the pillar in the hail / Unmoving we travel / Crossing oceans in mythological dreams”) while the music remains imposing and vibrant from start to finish.

In Utgarđr, a cryptic, hypnotizing interlude presenting deep vocalizations, we face freezing background sounds until Enslaved come ripping once again with Urjotun, blending their raw sonority with modernized and even electronic sounds and tones from 80’s pop music. As a matter of fact, the final result is truly exciting, as if it was taken from a cult action movie from that same decade. And strident riffs and the pounding drums by Iver kick off the grim and furious Flight Of Thought And Memory, a lecture in contemporary Progressive Black and Viking Metal alternating between obscure savagery and melancholic passages, or in other words, a very detailed, multi-layered composition tailored for admirers of the genre. Back to a more straightforward musicality the quintet offers us all the melodic Storms Of Utgard, with the guitars by both Arve and Ivar permeating the air in great fashion, boosted by the song’s galloping beats and celestial keys, and they put a gentle and inspiring closure to the album with Distant Seasons, a semi-acoustic ballad where we’re treated to serene clean vocals infused with tribal and primeval nuances, featuring spot-on backing vocals by guests Inger Sunneva Peersen and Sonja Elisabeth Peerson.

We must all admit it’s a real pleasure to witness Enslaved experimenting and developing new sounds album after album, and in Utgard, which by the way is available in full on YouTube and on Spotify, let’s say they nailed it, offering us all a well-balanced mix of their more violent roots with their present progressiveness and harmony. Hence, don’t forget to give those Norwegian metallers a shout on Facebook, to follow them on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and to purchase Utgard from their own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all location where you can find the album), and may Enslaved keep on rocking like there’s no tomorrow through the realms of Viking Metal and Progressive Rock for many decades to come in their gorgeous and mythical homeland.

Best moments of the album: Jettegryta, Homebound and Flight Of Thought And Memory.

Worst moments of the album: Sequence.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Fires In The Dark 5:59
2. Jettegryta 4:56
3. Sequence 6:39
4. Homebound 5:29
5. Utgarđr 1:51
6. Urjotun 4:21
7. Flight Of Thought And Memory 6:22
8. Storms Of Utgard 4:38
9. Distant Seasons 4:31

Band members
Grutle Kjellson – vocals, bass, keyboards
Arve Isdal – lead guitars, acoustic guitars, backing vocals on “Fires In The Dark”
Ivar Bjørnson – guitars, acoustic guitars, keyboards, effects, backing vocals on “Fires In The Dark”
Håkon Vinje – keyboards, piano, clean vocals
Iver Sandøy – drums, percussion, keyboards, effects, clean vocals

Guest musicians
Martin Horntveth – percussion, glockenspiel, rototoms, tubular bells, keyboards and programming on “Sequence”
Inger Sunneva Peersen – backing vocals on “Distant Seasons”
Sonja Elisabeth Peerson – backing vocals on “Distant Seasons”

Album Review – White Walls / Grandeur (2020)

Hailing from the Romanian shores of the Black Sea, four talented musicians return with their third full-length album of dynamic, splendorous and grandiose Progressive Metal.

Hailing from the Romanian shores of the Black Sea, more specifically from the city of Constanța, where the band was formed back in 2009, Progressive/Alternative Metal outfit White Walls has been associated with diverse groups such as Leprous, The Ocean, Opeth, Tool and Karnivool, often intertwining elements of darkness and light with relentless riffs, melancholic chords and a balanced mix between restlessness and restraint, resulting in what the band itself likes to call “Dynamic Progressive Metal”. Now in 2020, vocalist Eugen Brudaru, guitarist Alexandru-Eduard Dascălu, bassist Șerban-Ionuț Georgescu and drummer Theo Scrioșteanu return with an exciting full-length album entitled Grandeur, the third in their undisputed career. Mixed and mastered by Forrester Savell, and featuring a classy artwork by Romanian artist Radu Damian, Grandeur opens a whole new spectrum of musical pathways and offers a more mature sound seven years after the release of their previous effort Escape Artist. Inspired by the state of the world, the title is not only a beautiful word, but also reveals some of the underlying themes in the songs.

Serene guitars and a feeling of peace and hope will penetrate your mind in the intro False Beliefs, revving up the band’s engine for the groovy and violent Eye For An I, offering our ears a frantic, headbanging fusion of classic Progressive Metal the likes of Mastodon and Gojira with modernized Groove Metal nuances, with Eugen being on fire with both his clean vocals and his enraged roars. Then it’s time for another sonic voyage titled Home Is On The Other Side, where Alexandru cuts our skin deep with his riffage while Serban makes the earth tremble with his bass, not to mention it’s atmospheric intermission, sounding very intricate, detailed and vibrant until the very last second; and there’s not a single second to waste as the quartet fires the thrilling Holy Worse, with Eugen growling rabidly while Theo dictates the pace with his rhythmic beats, sounding as if they were a more alternative version of Dream Theater. After that, strident guitars blended with the reverberating bass by Serban ignite the also electrifying Velvet, full of breaks and variations and, therefore, perfectly representing what White Walls are all about, and I must say it will undoubtedly please all fans of the genre; and there’s more of Serban’s thunderous bass jabs in Speaking in Tongues, a very dynamic and straight-to-the-point composition where the band needs less than three minutes to showcase all their dexterity and passion for progressive sounds.

In Starfish Crown we face lyrics that are obviously there to make you think (“Retrieve the heart that whispers in your ear / My crescent lights flow / Would you help me? / Repetition is key / Resolution? We’ll see… / No direction for me / Just a silly dream”), while Serban and Theo make a fantastic duo as the band’s groovy kitchen, whereas Locked-in Syndrome is a little more inclined to Progressive Rock than the other songs, with Eugen doing a great job once again by displaying all his vocal range while Alexandru extracts minimalist but at the same time piercing sounds form his guitar. Then it’s time to enhance their heaviness and groove in the neck-breaking Month’s End, a fantastic tune with Theo smashing his drums with tons of precision and rage, resulting in one of my favorite songs of the album, exhaling an infinite amount of progressiveness and feeling. And you better prepare your senses for over six minutes of hammering Progressive Metal sounds in The Descent, where all band members demonstrate their close relationship with their instruments. In addition, Alexandru’s guitar solos are absolutely stunning, adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result. Lastly, let’s have a blast with Serban and Theo with their respective bass jabs and beats in The Slaughter (Marche Funèbre), sounding like two or three songs in one thanks to the amazing job done by the quartet throughout the song’s eight minutes of sheer complexity and creativity, before the music smoothly fades into eternity.

It’s indeed a very pleasant and unique experience to explore each and every track found in Grandeur in detail, and you can do so by streaming the album in full on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to properly support White Walls and inspire them to keep moving forward you can purchase a copy of the album from your favorite retailer by clicking HERE, as well as by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and by subscribing to their YouTube channel. The actual meaning of the word “grandeur”, which is splendor and impressiveness, especially of appearance or style, perfectly suits the music by White Walls, who not only represent Romanian rock and metal anywhere they go, but they also show everyone that, despite its complexity, Progressive Metal can be just as breathtaking as any other music style.

Best moments of the album: Eye For An I, Velvet and Month’s End.

Worst moments of the album: Locked-in Syndrome.

Released in 2020 Tentasol Records

Track listing
1. False Beliefs 1:38
2. Eye For An I 4:45
3. Home Is On The Other Side 5:04
4. Holy Worse 4:50
5. Velvet 4:56
6. Speaking in Tongues 2:41
7. Starfish Crown 5:32
8. Locked-in Syndrome 4:28
9. Month’s End 4:19
10. The Descent 6:47
11. The Slaughter (Marche Funèbre) 8:57

Band members
Eugen Brudaru – vocals
Alexandru-Eduard Dascălu – guitar
Șerban-Ionuț Georgescu – bass
Theo Scrioșteanu – drums

Guest musician
Cosmin Farcaș – additional keys and effects