Album Review – Sahara / The Curse EP (2021)

One of the most celebrated cult acts from the Argentinian scene is back with a brand new EP, offering us all a rusty-cage raw, drugged-out and dark fusion of Stoner, Sludge and Doom Metal.

3.0rating

sahara-the-curse-ep-2021A cult band in the Stoner and Doom Metal scene, Paraná, Argentina’s own Sahara released two celebrated studio full-length albums as well as a live album and a split with Mephistofeles before involuntarily disbanding in 2019. However, with the help of Mephistofeles members Gabriel Ravera on bass and Ivan Sacharczuk on drums, Sahara’s founder, vocalist and guitarist Martin Ludi decided to continue with the band, firing on all cylinders now in 2021 with a brand new four-track EP fittingly titled The Curse, the result of what Sahara have become and a hint of what the future holds for the band. Recorded at Evil Fidelity Studios on tape by John Follador and mixed by Dangerous, The curse offers fans of the genre a rusty-cage raw, drugged-out and dark fusion of Stoner, Sludge and Doom Metal that sounds at he same time punkish and impossibly catchy, proving the band’s comeback is not a curse, but in fact a blessing to the South American underground.

Vile and dirty from the very first second, the trio smashes their instruments flawlessly in the 70’s-inspired opening tune Hell on Earth, showcasing an amazing job done by Ivan with his old school drumming while Martin fires at the same time devilish riffs and Ozzy Osbourne-ish vocals; whereas the low-tuned, crude bass by Gabriel kick off the venomous Altar of Sacrifice, bringing to our ears more of their classic Doom Metal (not to mention the sick guitar solos by Martin), being tailored for admirers of damned and sharp doom. Following such obscure creation, Gallows Noose has a mysterious and hypnotizing vibe found in the music by Black Sabbath and Candlemass while also presenting elements from Psychedelic Rock, with Martin and Gabriel being in absolute sync with their stringed weapons by darkly jamming like there’s no tomorrow. Lastly, closing the EP it’s time for an instrumental extravaganza in the form of the title-track The Curse, where the bass punches by Gabriel will smash your heads mercilessly accompanied by the Stoner and Doom Metal beats by Ivan.

sahara-2021Like a violent phoenix arising from the ashes, Sahara are back in action stronger than ever with their newborn spawn The Curse, reclaiming their throne as the kings of doom in the Argentinian scene and, of course, aiming at spreading their damned wings and reaching new heights in the world of heavy music. Having said that, don’t forget to start following Martin and his henchmen on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates (if we’ll ever have those again, of course), more of their music and other nice-to-know info about the band, and above all that, to grab your copy of The Curse from the Regain Records’ BandCamp page or from the Shadow Records’ webstore, showing everyone you’re a true servant of doom and, therefore, allowing Sahara’s Stygian curse to haunt your soul for all eternity.

Best moments of the album: Hell on Earth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Regain Records

Track listing
1. Hell on Earth 4:57
2. Altar of Sacrifice 3:00
3. Gallows Noose 6:13
4. The Curse (Instrumental) 2:53

Band members
Martin Ludi – vocals, guitar
Gabriel Ravera – bass
Ivan Sacharczuk – 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 – Heavy Feather / Mountain of Sugar (2021)

Rawer, heavier and harder, the sophomore album by these sensational Swedish roots rockers ooze with a 70’s sound and feel, filled with attitude, raw vocals and roaring guitar riffs.

Two years after the release of their critically acclaimed debut album Débris & Rubble, vocalist Lisa Lystam, guitarist Matte Gustavsson, bassist Morgan Korsmoe and drummer Ola Göransson, collectively known as Stockholm, Sweden-based Roots Rock outfit Heavy Feather, are ready to stun us all once again with their sophomore effort entitled Mountain of Sugar, an even rawer, heavier and harder album than their previous one, but still with the Roots and Psychedelic Rock touch holding it all together. Recorded by  Erik “Errka” Petersson at No Regrets Fonogram in Stockholm and mastered by Magnus Lindberg (Lucifer, Imperial State Electric), Mountain of Sugar consists of 11 tracks oozing with a 70’s sound and feel, filled with attitude, raw vocals and roaring guitar riffs, therefore being once again highly recommended for fans of iconic bands like Free, Cream and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Let’s take a journey back to the 70’s to the magical riffs by Matte in 30 Days, and Lisa doesn’t take too long to begin mesmerizing us with her powerful voice accompanied by her bandmates’ classic backing vocals in an awesome way to properly kick off the album, whereas singing about the eternal fight between time and love (“When I get old / Start counting my days / Living them slow / Living in haze / There’s one thing that’s clear / And that is your grace”), Bright in My Mind is another solid Rock N’ Roll tune with Morgan carefully slamming his bass from start to finish. Love Will Come Easy brings forward more of their fusion of 70’s rock music with contemporary Hard Rock and Blues, with Ola dictating the pace while Lisa shines as usual with her piercing vocal lines; and catchy lyrics (“Yes I’m relentless, a mountain of sugar / And I keep on rising, the mountain of sugar / I am mesmerizing, a mountain of sugar / But don’t get me feisty, the mountain of sugar”) and an upbeat vibe are the main ingredients in the vibrant Mountain of Sugar, not to mention Lisa’s kick-ass harmonica. Then a Deep Purple-inspired riff by Matte is boosted by the classy kitchen blasted by Morgan and Ola in Too Many Times, where Matte also adds tons of electricity to the music with his soulful riffs. And did I mention there’s also some cowbell for our total delight?

It’s time for a classic ballad by Heavy Feather titled Let It Shine, where Lisa steals the spotlight with a very passionate vocal performance while her bandmates deliver smoothness and love through their refined instruments, whereas Come We Can Go is old school Rock N’ Roll for admires of the genre, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline and showcasing an amazing job done by Ola on drums. In Sometimes I Feel we’re introduced to a male vocalist (perhaps Matte?) instead of Lisa’s usual vocals, with Matte and Morgan being in total sync with their stringed weapons, generating a gentle but at the same time heavy ambience. Lisa is then back on vocals to hypnotize our senses in Lovely Lovely Lovely, while Ola fires classic beats and fills and Matte continues to shine with his electrifying solos; and a high dosage of Rock N’ Roll riffs and beats permeate the air in the awesome Rubble & Débris, a wordplay with the title of their previous album, inspiring you to sing, drink and bang your head together with the quartet while Lisa steals the show once again with her visceral vocals. Finally, ending the album the band delivers a delicate and beautiful ballad titled Asking in Need, perfect for listening to it while embracing your loved ones, all spiced up by the whimsical riffs and solos by Matte.

Those Swedish rockers are definitely making a name for themselves in the worldwide Rock N’ Roll scene, first with Débris & Rubble and now with Mountain of Sugar, two albums that can already be considered a must-have for anyone who enjoys old school rock music. You can get to know more about Heavy Feather on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their official YouTube channel, stream all of their awesome creations on Spotify, and grab your copy of Mountain of Sugar from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music, and soon from other locations. It’s a pleasure seeing how Heavy Feather took a step forward in their career with Mountain of Sugar without giving up their passion for the past, which only proves Rock N’ Roll is not only timeless, but also as sweet and delicious as sugar.

Best moments of the album: 30 Days, Mountain of Sugar and Rubble & Débris.

Worst moments of the album: Sometimes I Feel.

Released in 2021 The Sign Records

Track listing
1. 30 Days 3:41
2. Bright in My Mind 3:27
3. Love Will Come Easy 4:07
4. Mountain of Sugar 2:23
5. Too Many Times 2:46
6. Let It Shine 2:52
7. Come We Can Go 3:44
8. Sometimes I Feel 3:59
9. Lovely Lovely Lovely 4:13
10. Rubble & Débris 3:15
11. Asking in Need 3:40

Band members
Lisa Lystam – vocals, harmonica
Matte Gustavsson – guitars
Morgan Korsmoe – bass
Ola Göransson – drums

Album Review – Kabbalah / The Omen (2021)

Succumb to the dark side to the sound of the Occult Rock with a subtle Spanish folk and western vibe by this talented coven, looming in the dark, esoteric realms of witchcraft.

Hailing from Pamplona, Spain, Occult Rock all-female trio Kabbalah was formed on the ashes of local outfit Las Culebras, looming in the dark, esoteric realms of witchcraft and closed door arts while starting a prolific cycle of music by self-releasing three EP’s, those being Kabbalah, Primitive Stone and Revelations, between 2013 and 2016, progressing to their 2017 debut album Spectral Ascent. Now in 2021 it’s time for Alba DDU (vocals, guitar), Marga Malaria (vocals, bass) and Carmen Espejo (vocals, drums) to come back to life with their sophomore full-length opus entitled The Omen, where their 70’s rock influences are sprinkled with a subtle Spanish folk and western vibe while keeping the heaviness intact. In The Omen, Kabbalah cultivate their distinctive cross of influences moving between heavy riffs, harmonized vocals and killer songwriting, with its cover art, referencing the Kutná Hora ossuary located in the Czech Republic, welcoming listeners to the ill-fated cosmos portrayed in the album.

Those Spanish rockers begin their feast of Doom Metal and Heavy Rock with Stigmatized, heavily inspired by the sound of the Dio-era Black Sabbath, with Marga shaking the foundations of the earth with her sick bass while the song’s mesmerizing vocals are beautifully spiced up by the damned beats by Carmen. And Alba brings forward the power of the riff in Ceibas, being in absolute sync with Marga’s dirty bass jabs in a lecture in Occult Rock with tons of elements from 70’s Psychedelic Rock and 80’s Hard Rock; followed by Night Comes Near, offering us all more of their delicate but piercing sounds with Carmen kicking some serious as with her rhythmic beats, dictating the rhythm and offering Alba and Marga all they need to shine with their axes. Then ritualistic words are stunningly declaimed by the trio (“Seven witches, around the fire, singing and preaching, on a night of thunder. / In the ceremony pyre, where lies the undying, the soul rises, and leaves the body.”) in The Ritual, while the music remains obscure, dense and captivating from start to finish, with the awesome Black Sabbath-like beats by Carmen being the icing on the cake.

Dark clouds are above us all in the Stygian Occult Rock extravaganza titled Lamentations, led by the minimalist but sharp riffage by Alba while Carmen fires some tribalistic beats nonstop, not to mention the fantastic job done by all three girls with their hypnotizing, witch-like vocalizations. Sounding like a song extracted form a Quentin Tarantino movie, Labyrinth is spiced up by the sensational low-tuned bass jabs by Marga, being therefore once again tailored for all admirers of the obscure and eerie sounds blasted by bands like Candlemass, Witchfinder and Pentagram; whereas despite its 70’s-inspired lyrics (“Here I am, I’ve landed in a desert, a place to be, nothing as beautiful as this is. / Orange shades, that looked so familiar, from the first time, I saw the sand.”), Duna is not as powerful as the rest of the album, sounding too polished and light at times. And last but not least, back to a more menacing and somber sonority, the trio offers our avid ears the thunderous Liturgy, where Alba is on fire with her raw riffs accompanied by the sluggish drums by Carmen, all boosted as usual by their enthralling vocal lines.

It’s time to succumb to the dark and delicious rock music crafted by those Spanish witches in The Omen, and in order to do so simply go to Spotify to stream the album in full, and of course if Occult Rock is your cup of tea you can purchase such detailed and enfolding album from several locations including the band’s own BandCamp page, Ripple Music’s BandCamp page, webstore or Big Cartel, the Rebel Waves Records’ BandCamp page, the Stoner Witch Records’ webstore or Amazon. Not only that, don’t forget to follow Kabbalah on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, for news, tour dates and more of their occult creations, allowing this extremely talented coven hailing from Spain to drag you into their doomed lair for all eternity.

Best moments of the album: Ceibas, The Ritual and Labyrinth.

Worst moments of the album: Duna.

Released in 2021 Ripple Music/Rebel Waves Records/Stoner Witch Records

Track listing
1. Stigmatized 3:56
2. Ceibas 3:16
3. Night Comes Near 3:51
4. The Ritual 3:19
5. Lamentations 3:24
6. Labyrinth 3:47
7. Duna 3:19
8. Liturgy 4:14

Band members
Alba DDU – vocals, guitar
Marga Malaria – vocals, bass
Carmen Espejo – vocals, drums

Album Review – High Priestess / Casting The Circle (2020)

Seasoning their psych-doom cauldron with tribal percussion and prog rock arrangements, this American trinity is ready to cast a spell on us with their excellent new album.

Convoking crushing riffs drenched with lush harmonies and hypnotic eastern themes, Los Angeles-based Doom Metal trinity High Priestess was formed in 2016 by bassist and vocalist Mariana Fiel when she recruited Katie Gilchrest on guitar and vocals and Megan Mullins on drums, crafting a sound that echoes both past and future incarnations of doom and psychedelia since then. After the release of their highly-acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2018, it’s time for High Priestess to captivate our senses once again with their sophomore opus Casting The Circle, featuring a dark and sexy artwork by Jill Colbert at Manfish Inc. and seasoning their psych-doom cauldron with keyboards, tribal percussion, signature harmonies and grandiose prog rock arrangements. “After playing these songs live for many months, we are pleased to have captured them in their definitive recorded versions for the whole world. We honor gods and goddesses, ancestors and spirits from the past, present and future and sing songs of misfortune,” commented Katie Gilchrest herself about the band’s amazing new album.

A tribal, dark mass is about to start in the deep and embracing Casting the Circle, led by Megan’s ritualistic beats while Katie and Mariana begin blasting their enthralling vocal lines in a true psychedelic and doomed manner. Put differently, it’s absolutely impossible not to get hypnotized by their music, which is also the case in the fabulous Erebus, where the trio leans towards the most obscure side of iconic acts like Black Sabbath and Candlemass, but with a delicious feminine touch added to the overall result. It’s almost ten minutes of enfolding passages, crisp riffs and the sluggish beats by Megan, all spiced up by Katie’s astounding, piercing guitar solos, whereas The Hourglass is a Psychedelic and Progressive Rock extravaganza blending the trademark sound from the 70’s with the band’s more contemporary doom, with Katie’s stunning riffs being complemented by the low-tuned bass by Mariana and the classic drums by Megan, not to mention the song’s fiery vocal lines.

Then it’s time to surrender to the most Stygian side of life in Invocation, offering our avid ears over 17 minutes of ethereal and somber passages led by Katie’s primeval, mesmerizing riffs while Mariana and Megan dictate the rhythm with their thunderous but delicate instruments, summoning the prince of darkness with their scorching Doom Metal. Flowing like an arrow on fire through the night and getting heavier and more imposing halfway through it, the song remains tribal and dense until its demolishing grand finale, with Katie heightening our senses with her cryptic organ keys. And lastly we have Ave Satanas, an ethereal and obscure outro by the trio where their somber vocalizations will drag you into their sinister lair in the name of Satan (which in the case of High Priestess is a beyond awesome opportunity for any metalhead, of course).

The circle of what the band itself likes to call “Heavy-Psych Doom” has been cast by Katie, Mariana and Megan in their newborn opus, and in order to join those three undeniably talented women in their quest for such unique style of heavy music simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and grab your copy of Casting The Circle from Ripple Music’s BandCamp page or webstore (US and Europe), as well as from Amazon. The high priestesses of heavy and lustful Doom Metal are among us to stay, and as they conjure each and every one of us to become part of their devilish kingdom, there’s only one question left, and it’s indeed a very simple one. Who are we to say no to such distinguished and dexterous triumvirate of doom?

Best moments of the album: Erebus and The Hourglass.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Ripple Music

Track listing
1. Casting the Circle 5:10
2. Erebus 9:37
3. The Hourglass 6:46
4. Invocation 17:22
5. Ave Satanas 3:26

Band members
Katie Gilchrest – vocals, guitars, organ
Mariana Fiel – bass, vocals
Megan Mullins – drums, percussion

Album Review – Dead Witches / The Final Exorcism (2019)

One of the most infamous British covens returns to exorcise our demons with another fantastic lesson in Doom Metal.

The haunting vocals, heavy riffs, fuzzed bass and savage drumming blasted by the infamous British Occult Stoner/Doom Metal coven known as Dead Witches are back for our total delight in 2019 in their brand new sophomore opus titled The Final Exorcism, a follow up to their 2017 extravaganza Ouija. The brainchild of drummer Mark Greening, founding member of Electric Wizard, Ramesses and With The Dead, Dead Witches took the underworld of heavy music by storm with their debut album in 2017, but it’s now with The Final Exorcism that the quartet sounds even more powerful, damned and gloomy, just the way we like it in Doom Metal.

Featuring the aforementioned Mark on drums accompanied by bassist Carl Geary and newcomers Soozi Chameleone (from Satlan) on vocals and Oliver Irongiant (from Grave Lines, Sea Bastard and End the Agony) on the guitar, replacing Virginia Monti and Greg Elk (R.I.P.), respectively, The Final Exorcism is not only the epitome of everything Dead Witches stand for, but a highly recommended album for admirers of devilish and cryptic doom who simply love the night. Put differently, get ready to be dragged down to pitch black darkness with over 40 minutes of classic Doom Metal made in England split into seven distinct and beautifully crafted songs embraced by the somber artwork by Goatess Doomwych, who had already worked with the band in their previous effort.

A cryptic, horror movie-inspired intro named There’s Someone There sets the stage for the sluggish and grim title-track The Final Exorcism, where Oliver begins his riff-attack together with Carl’s reverberating bass punches, all enfolded by Soozi’s sexy and hellish vocals and roars. In other words, this is first-class neck-breaking Doom Metal, offering our ears over seven minutes of somber and atmospheric passages, pounding beats and endless obscurity. And the distorted guitar lines by Oliver keep dictating the rhythm in Goddess Of The Night, while Mark does what he knows best, which is smashing his drums slowly, steadily and fiercely. In addition, Soozi sings like she’s the true goddess of the night, embellishing the airwaves with her damned vocals. Then Dead Witches ask a simple question to us in the wicked When Do The Dead See The Sun, with the answer being quite easy (obviously never), and the music translates that fact into sheer melancholy, feeling like it was taken from a Tarantino movie and, consequently, warming up our senses for The Church By The Sea, where Mark and Carl generate a massive wall of sounds with their weapons while Soozi will put you on a trance in this Sabbath-inspired Doom and Stoner Metal aria. Also, don’t forget to check out this sick live footage recorded on February 22, 2019 during their performance at Heavy Psych Sounds Fest at The Borderline, in London. It’s doom in its rawest form.

The last part of the album is just amazing, starting with Lay, Demon, a brutal and visceral Doom Metal hymn led by Mark’s Stygian beats, while Oliver and Carl keep extracting absolute evil from their strings. “Lay, Demon was the second track that we wrote for the new record, The Final Exorcism,” said Mark. “This is a slab of old-school doom, with a heavy crushing swing to it, as it plods along to cast out any evil spirits that have entered your soul. Vocalist Soozi Chameleone adds lyrics that tell the tale of a demonic romance, and what happens when you become entranced by an evil spirit …”; whereas in Fear The Priest the whole band summons our spirits for one final exorcism, with its bass and riffs sounding menacing and thunderous from start to finish. Furthermore, the music remains disturbing and alluring for over nine minutes, with Soozi once again stealing the spotlight with her demonic vocal performance. As Mark himself said about this feast of blackened sounds, “Fear The Priest was the last track to be written to complete the album, the idea of the track is based around demonic possession, good vs evil, the fear the possessed person has towards the priest, it’s the longest track on the album, the riffs are pure evil and I think it’s the perfect track to let people know what to expect from the new album.”

You can have a blast with Dead Witches by listening to their brand new sonic exorcism in full on YouTube, by following them on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel or by listening to more of their music on Spotify, as well as of course by purchasing The Final Exorcism from the Heavy Psych Sounds Records’ BandCamp or webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, as long as you join this talented coven hailing from the UK, a place where dark and damp days, exorcisms and doom are just around the corner waiting, readily available for everyone who loves top-of-the-line dark and sluggish metal music and whose soul has already been consumed by darkness and evil.

Best moments of the album: The Final Exorcism and Fear The Priest.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. There’s Someone There 0:35
2. The Final Exorcism 7:32
3. Goddess Of The Night 8:08
4. When Do The Dead See The Sun 1:38
5. The Church By The Sea 7:33
6. Lay, Demon 5:47
7. Fear The Priest 9:29

Band members
Soozi Chameleone – vocals
Oliver Irongiant – guitar
Carl Geary – bass
Mark Greening – drums

Album Review – Orchid / Miasma (2019)

Immerse yourself in the debut full-length opus by four Indian metallers who are not afraid to experiment with the new and the unknown, always ready to push their own boundaries in heavy music.

Formed in late 2011 in Bangalore (also known as Bengaluru), the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state, Avantgarde/Progressive Metal entity Orchid is a four-piece band comprised of Kaushal on vocals, Vinay on the guitar, Rahil on bass and Mayur on drums that plays a dense and very distinct blend of Heavy Metal with several other genres and styles such as Progressive Rock, Hardcore and Psychedelic Rock leanings (as well as Mathcore), pushing the boundaries of heavy music in the subcontinental underground and remaining one of the most original bands to emerge from the region.

In 2016, Orchid released their much-awaited self-titled debut EP to critical acclaim with Rolling Stone India calling it “one of the best cult classics of 2016” and “one of the most intriguing metal releases of the year”, inspiring the guys to keep moving forward and keep spreading their distinguished music to all four corners of the earth with their debut full-length opus Miasma, an album tailored for fans of bands like Dillinger Escape Plan, Gorguts and Frank Zappa, among others. Unlike their previous EP, which touched upon themes of techno-surrealism, Miasma is more straightforward with sociopolitical themes, with the artwork, done by the band’s own drummer through Copycat, containing elements from every song on the album.

An enraged scream by Kaushal kicks off the low-tuned, sluggish and heavy-as-hell opening track Obsolescence, with Vinay delivering lancinating riffs while Mayur brings tons of intricacy and dementia to the musicality with his beats, remaining crazy, vibrant and unique from start to finish, whereas in Solipsist we’re treated to two and a half minutes of top-notch Progressive Metal where Kaushal growls and roars manically while Vinay and Rahil give a lesson in progressiveness and heaviness with their stringed weapons. Then we have Master Supreme, a short and sweet headbanging tune led by the crushing drums by Mayur, bringing to our avid ears the most insane elements from Progressive and Groove Metal. “The song is about the pervasive influence and the growing epidemic of gurus/godmen and their cults in Indian society as well as abroad. Religion and spirituality is the biggest scam in the world; and because we live in India, we have a front-row seat to the circus,” commented the band about this austere and captivating song.

After the shortest song of the album, it’s time for the longest one, titled Dead End, offering seven minutes of insanity, rage and eccentricity. In other words, a full-bodied sonic extravaganza full of breaks and variations, not to mention the beautiful Jazz-inspired passage featuring guest Aadarsh Subramaniam and his old school keyboard solo, building an instant bridge to the also pulverizing Identoid, where Rahil extracts truly thunderous roars from his bass while Mayur and Kaushal “duel” to see who’s the most aggressive and demented one, maintaining the album at a high level of ferocity and intricacy. Following such fun tune we have Sugar Pill, showcasing the most progressive of all starts but quickly morphing into a sonic onrush of crisp guitar riffs, Hardcore-inspired drums and raspy growls, fading into a very alternative and sluggish outro, before Zero-Sum Game comes crushing like a thunderbolt, already beginning in full force and bringing a violent Kaushal on vocals, while Vinay keeps firing his classic and slashing guitar lines in a lesson in modern-day Progressive Metal with Avantgarde Metal and Mathcore nuances. Lastly the band offers us all Disassembly Line, not as vibrant and crushing as all previous songs but still a good sample of all the madness the quartet can blast through their music, with highlights to the once again amazing job done by Mayur on drums.

In a nutshell, the guys form Orchid were able to condense all their skills, influences and rage in a very intricate and solid way throughout Miasma, placing their brand new album as a fresh option for fans of heavy music who are always in pursuit of bands that think outside the box and that are not afraid to experiment with the most distinct music styles and genres. Having said that, what are you waiting for to show your support to those Bangalore-based metallers? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and purchase Miasma directly from their BandCamp page as well as from Instamojo. I bet you’ve never thought metal music made in India could sound so insane and eccentric like this, right?

Best moments of the album: Obsolescence, Dead End and Zero-Sum Game.

Worst moments of the album: Disassembly Line.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Obsolescence 5:54
2. Solipsist 2:34
3. Master Supreme 1:10
4. Dead End (feat. Aadarsh Subramaniam) 6:59
5. Identoid 2:47
6. Sugar Pill 4:22
7. Zero-Sum Game 4:32
8. Disassembly Line 3:48

Band members
Kaushal – vocals
Vinay – guitars
Rahil – bass
Mayur – drums, percussion

Guest musician
Aadarsh Subramaniam – keyboard solo on “Dead End”

Album Review – Spiral Skies / Blues For A Dying Planet (2018)

Get ready to be put in a trance and to be taken on a unique musical journey by a psychedelic Swedish band and their “rock from another planet”.

With influences ranging over decades, Swedish Occult Rock band Spiral Skies has created a sound that can most easily be described as “rock from another planet”, a unique blend of folk, doom and 70’s-inspired rock music the likes of Jefferson Airplane, Curved Air and The Devil’s Blood, all embraced by a unique visual performance at their intense and enchanting live shows. After their debut EP A Queendom to Come, released in 2015, it’s time for Spiral Skies to further spread their sorcery with their brand new album beautifully titled Blues For A Dying Planet, an ode to the past that’s at the same time always looking into the future.

Formed in 2014 in the Swedish capital Stockholm, Spiral Skies are the talented Frida on vocals, Jonas and Dan on the guitars, Eric on bass and Daniel on drums, each one with a different musical background and distinct influences, but all sharing the same passion for 70´s genuine rock and metal music. In Blues For A Dying Planet, which features a classy cover illustration by Vadim Karasyov, cover and booklet design by Atmanoid, and cover photo by Björn Pettersson, the band brings forth an amalgamation of styles with a strong Psychedelic Doom Metal and Rock core essence, putting you in a trance and taking you to the golden years of rock, always spearheaded by the mesmerizing vocals by Frida.

An organ and the sound of the wind in the intro Black Hole Waltz ignite the feast of Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal named Awakening, with Jonas and Dan dictating the rhythm with their Iron Madein-ish riffs while Frida gives a lesson in passion and energy with her flamboyant vocals. Put differently, this rockin’ hymn has an old school Heavy Metal vibe that, when blended with its core Doom Metal essence, makes things even more captivating. Following such powerful start we have Dark Side of the Cross, a very good song to dance under the stars that leans towards the classic Doom Metal by Black Sabbath with a more whimsical Rock N’ Roll aura, also showcasing a great job done by Daniel with his intricate beats; and The Wizard’s Ball, where Frida keeps delivering sheer awesomeness through her charming and potent vocals, with the rest of the band keeping the music at a very pleasant and gripping pace, flowing smoothly until its climatic ending. Then it’s time to dance with Frida and the boys in Danse Macabre, a classic Hard Rock song with tons of psychedelic elements from Doom Metal added to its beautiful sonority, with Jonas and Dan blasting straightforward, old school guitar riffs that effectively help embellish the ambience.

Labyrinth of the Mind is perhaps the most Black Sabbath of all tracks, with a great balance between the heaviness of the guitar riffs and the gentle voice by Frida, resulting in a hypnotizing musicality perfect for closing your eyes and letting the band take you on a one-of-a-kind musical journey. In Shattered Hopes we’re treated to a hybrid between pure Psychedelic Rock and more contemporary Doom Metal and Hard Rock, uniting past and present through the riffs by the band’s guitar duo and the always fiery vocals by Frida; whereas the poetically-titled tune Left Is Right and Right Is Left Behind has its name translated into classic Rock N’ Roll with tons of psychedelia added to its mesmerizing waves. Furthermore, Eric with his solid bass lines and Daniel with his fierce beats create the perfect background for Frida to shine once again on vocals. And lastly, their feast of classy and gripping sounds is majestically concluded with the lesson in Psychedelic Rock and Metal named The Prisoner, a full-bodied voyage led by the heavy and very melodic guitars by both Jonas and Dan.

The enchanting voice by Frida and her Spiral Skies can be better appreciated through the band’s Facebook page and Spotify, and if you want to buy a copy of Blues For A Dying Planet and consequently have all that’s needed to prance around the fire pit under a moonlit sky, you can find the album on sale at the AOP Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, at the Nuclear Blast webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. Although the 70’s might be long gone and everything is now just a distant memory, the music by bands like Spiral Skies is what keeps the spirit and passion of that golden decade burning bright inside our souls.

Best moments of the album: Awakening, Danse Macabre and The Prisoner.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 AOP Records

Track listing
1. Black Hole Waltz 1:25
2. Awakening 3:31
3. Dark Side of the Cross 4:04
4. The Wizard’s Ball 5:36
5. Danse Macabre 4:18
6. Labyrinth of the Mind 5:42
7. Shattered Hopes 3:18
8. Left Is Right and Right Is Left Behind 4:38
9. The Prisoner 6:02

Band members
Frida – vocals
Jonas – guitars
Dan – guitars
Eric – bass
Daniel – drums

Album Review – Free From Gravity / Saints and Sinners EP (2016)

Come along and take away a bit of kick-ass British Rock N’ Roll.

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FFG_Saints and Sinners EPLet’s take a short and sweet break from all the insanity and devastation that usually blasts from The Headbanging Moose and chill out to the dancing music by British Hard Rock/Rock N’ Roll group Free From Gravity. Highly inspired by classics such as The Who, Eric Clapton and The Beatles, among other renowned artists who have showed the world the beauty of a catchy chorus, of melodious but punky guitars and obviously of those famous yeah-yeah-yeah’s, Free From Gravity play what they call “Kick Assed Chilled Out Rock” (or Soft Rock with Attitude), and that’s exactly what you’ll find in each one of the four compositions that together give life to Saints and Sinners, the brand new EP by this classy four-piece act from Portsmouth, a large port city located on the south coast of the UK.

Led by vocalist and guitarist Vince Barnes, Free From Gravity are affiliated to Yes To Life, a cancer charity dedicated to helping people find complementary and alternative medicines to combat cancer, also inspiring Vince and his crew to write music as you can see in their debut single The Long Road (see more details HERE). That alone is already enough for all of us headbangers to give all our respect to the band, but add to that their professionalism, their dexterity with their instruments and their passion for rock music and there you have the perfect recipe for awesomeness.

The frist song of the EP, titled Crazy Lady, feels like a journey back to the 60’s and 70’s when Psychedelic Rock (or just Rock N’ Roll if you prefer) the likes of The Beatles and The Who dominated the entire world. Vince Barnes has that smooth type of voice perfect for telling a story through music, not to mention the song’s yeah-yeah-yeah’s, and I truly love the deep sound emanating from Lewis Trickett’s bass throughout the entire song. Faster and heavier, Dance with Me is a traditional British Rock N’ Roll tune where Vince and lead guitarist Tony “ToneDeff” Bennett put us all to dance with their electrified riffs and extremely catchy chorus, with the outstanding guitar solo by Tony adding a lot of energy to the music. Hence, I’m pretty sure this fun song will pump up the crowd during their live performances.

FFGA Hard Rock name like Saints and Sinners obviously demanded a Hard Rock vibe, and that’s what the entire band effectively offers to the listener in this case. Drummer TJ Jackson keeps the fuel flowing through the band’s engine with his crisp beats, with Tony once again firing an excellent guitar solo while backing vocals nicely complement the vocal lines by Vince. I want to see more of this wilder side of Free From Gravity, letting their Southern Rock-ish vein flourish even more in their future compositions. And there’s more traditional Brit Rock for you embraced by a 60’s/70’s aura named Step into the Sunlight, a recommended song to listen on the road where Vince and Tony once again deliver some exciting guitar lines and solos, leaving the doors open for more Free From Gravity in a near future (perhaps with their first full-length album).

Not only you can connect with Free From Gravity through their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud, as well as purchase their EP at the CD Baby webstore or on Amazon, but if you live near Portsmouth you can  also see the band performing live in what’s known as “guerrilla gigs” across the south coast of England. The exact location of those gigs will be kept a secret, with the band announcing each one only hour ahead of time on Facebook (which means fans will need to keep a keen eye on their Facebook page). As all members from Free From Gravity are fully behind the philosophy “Come Along And Take Away A Bit Of Magic”, why don’t you help them “fight” those guerrillas while enjoying their kick-ass Rock N’ Roll? I’m sure you’ll have a very good time doing that.

Best moments of the album: Saints and Sinners.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Crazy Lady 4:47
2. Dance with Me 4:49
3. Saints and Sinners 3:47
4. Step into the Sunlight 4:40

Band members
Vince Barnes – vocals, rhythm guitar
Tony “ToneDeff” Bennett – lead guitar
Lewis Trickett – bass guitar
TJ Jackson – drums

Album Review – Phantom / …Of Gods and Men (2014)

With huge doses of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire, this Canadian power trio delivers an indie Heavy Metal masterpiece for our total delight.

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Of Gods And Men v2.9Do you really love Heavy Metal? Do you not only listen to it, but feel it and live it every single day of your life? If your answer is “YES!”, screaming with your horns in the air, you MUST listen to …Of Gods and Men, the brand new album by Canadian Heavy Metal band Phantom, by far one of the best new metal bands I can think of. D.D. Murley, Necro Hippie and J.J. Blade (who unfortunately has left the band to pursue other career goals) are true Heavy Metal warriors, and they more than deliver it in this indie masterpiece.

Formed in January of 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, this Heavy Metal/Power Metal trio simply masters the art of crafting catchy, dynamic and nostalgic music, inspired by the musicality of the 80’s with huge doses of energy and passion for Heavy Metal. After releasing their 2013 EP The Powers That Be, and after playing the Newblood Stage at the famous Bloodstock Festival in the UK in 2014, this promising and electrifying band sounds even more mature and more than ready to conquer the world with their first full-length album. …Of Gods and Men is a Heavy Metal extravaganza, with each and every song definitely worth our time, money, screams and horns.

A megalith is not only a large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones, like Stonehenge in the UK or the Easter Island’s Moai, but also the album art in …Of Gods and Men and the album’s imposing intro, Megalith, setting the tone for the superb Children of the Stars to kick some serious ass: the name is 80’s metal, the music is 80’s metal, and it’s totally awesome from start to finish.  Vocalist/guitarist D.D. Murley has an amazing voice, he is a great riffmaker, and he will surely get you pumped to scream with him the simple but excellent chorus “Pray for us / Children of the stars”. In other words, he knows how to deliver Heavy Metal to us all.

Too Young to Die, with its awesome bass lines and drums, introduces to us the refined skills of the other band members, bassist Necro Hippie and drummer J.J. Blade. Besides, its great energy and the message in the lyrics are a delight to fans of old school metal music, making it almost impossible not to start banging our heads nonstop. However, it’s the next song that can be considered the icing on the cake in …Of Gods and Men: Blood & Iron, a song heavily inspired by behemoths like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Saxon, is the epitome of Heavy Metal, and there isn’t a single detail here that’s not 100% pure fuckin’ metal. I saw Phantom playing it live once opening for Blaze Bayley here in Toronto, and it got stuck inside my mind instantly. With its perfect galloping rhythm, Manowar-ish lyrics and also the “Oh-oh-oh-oh!” halfway through it, this is already a classic no matter if it’s a brand new song by an indie band. Why these guys are not signed yet to a strong record label is a question beyond my comprehension.

phantom-promoAnyway, the longest song of the album, The Kings Road, is more melodic than its predecessors, reminding me of old school Iron Maiden from Piece Of Mind and Powerslave with elements from 70’s Psychedelic Rock. It’s indeed a bold 8-minute instrumental track where all band members showcase their outstanding techniques as musicians. Right after that metal feast we have another intro, this time called Trinity, which invites us to enjoy the title-track, Of Gods and Men, with its beginning being a good indicator that pure metal is about to come. It’s another lesson in heavy music, with highlights to its great chorus and to the incredible synergy among all band members.

How not to headbang like a motherfuckin’ bastard to something that sounds even like old school Anthrax due to its heavier approach? Well, that’s the case in The Devil In Me, with its ressonating bass lines guiding the music while J.J. Blade pounds his drum kit. And lastly, the band offers us Beyond the Sun, a song that will leave us eager for more of Phantom’s heavy music without a shadow of a doubt. This is like Iron Maiden with Paul Di’Anno on vocals, with all its shredding, solos and insane speed making it truly outstanding.

The band will release …Of Gods and Men on December 6 at Toronto’s own legendary rock bar, the Bovine Sex Club, and if you live in Toronto or will be around the city on that day or weekend, do not miss the chance to witness one of the most powerful and exciting indie bands in Canada. There will be plenty of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire for all fans that attend their concert, and even more to tame the entire world with the release of such an epic album. This is Heavy Metal, period.

Best moments of the album: Children of the Stars, Blood & Iron and Beyond the Sun.

Worst moments of the album: Nothing in …Of Gods and Men is bad or boring at all.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Megalith 2:24
2. Children of the Stars 4:18
3. Too Young to Die 3:57
4. Blood & Iron 4:04
5. The Kings Road 8:20
6. Trinity 1:11
7. Of Gods and Men 5:28
8. The Devil In Me 5:08
9. Beyond the Sun 5:38

Band members
D.D. Murley – lead vocals and guitar
Necro Hippie – bass guitar
J.J. Blade – drums*

* Currently J.J. Blade has left the band to pursue other career goals.