Album Review – Witches Coven / World on Fire (2022)

A Stoner Rock and Metal lone wolf highlights the illnesses that doom today’s society in his debut opus, paying homage to the early sounds of 60’s and 70’s rock.

Conjured by Imran Manaff (aka Azrael, the multi-talented vocalist and instrumentalist of Singaporean one-man Black Metal band Funeral Hearse) in 2020 during the Covid-19 global pandemic, the newborn Stoner Rock and Metal beast that goes by the name of Witches Coven is set to release the project’s debut opus, entitled World on Fire, paying homage to the early sounds of 60’s and 70’s rock the likes of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Cactus infused with elements of Japan’s Church of Misery and Sweden’s Monolord. Produced by Imran himself, recorded at Hellblaze Studio, and mixed and mastered by Sonicmonk, all embraced by the sinister cover art by Pedro Rey, World on Fire showcases seven original songs loosely inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s infamous poem Howl while highlighting the illnesses that doom today’s society.

Raw, dirty guitars and sluggish beats ignite the opening tune Reason to Believe, evolving into a Stoner and Doom Metal feast the likes of old school Black Sabbath with Imran also firing his raspy vocals to make things even more infernal, whereas featuring excerpt from Consumption & Consumerism by Joseph Patrick, Shackles of Desire is even more demonic and grim. Put differently, it’s one of those Doom Metal compositions perfect for darkening the skies where Imran is ready to crush our souls with his riffage and beats. And Imran keeps hammering his sonic weapons and delivering ass-kicking Stoner Rock and Metal for our total delight in Waiting for Time, feeling like Imran is simply jamming with himself, sounding very organic and thrilling form start to finish.

Then drinking once again from the same obscure fountain of bands like Black Sabbath, Pentagram and Celtic Frost, it’s time for the dirtier-than-hell tune Blinded by Lights, with the inebriate vociferations by Imran walking hand in hand with his wicked riffs and rumbling bass lines; and let’s keep banging our heads like true bastards to the sound of Falling Through, another Sludge Metal extravaganza by Imran and his Witches Coven that will please all lovers of the most damned side of music. Imran shows no mercy for our necks and souls in Blurring the Lines, with his low-tuned bass jabs and sharp, crude riffs generating a reverberating vibe that penetrates deep inside our minds, and last but not least, Imran’s menacing bass returns in full force in Dawn of the Morning Star, a song that will block all light coming from the sun, therefore leaving us in pitch black darkness with the cryptic vocalizations by Imran sounding demented and hopeless until the very end.

The unstoppable Imran Manaff and his Witches Coven are waiting to darken our hearts and minds on the official Facebook page for Funeral Hearse (simply because Witches Coven doesn’t have its own specific page, or at least not yet, and because we can consider both bands as Imran’s alter-egos), and if you want to show your support to such hardworking and skillful lone wolf, you can purchase a copy of the excellent World on Fire from the Spy Satellite Records’ BandCamp page. May the hands of doom touch your soul through the infernal and piercing music blasted by Witches Coven, and may the energy and mystery of 60’s and 70’s rock and metal music keep flowing in the air for centuries to come thanks to awesome musicians from the independent scene such as Imran, who will surely bring forward more of his wicked music in the nearby future with both his Funeral Hearse and Witches Coven.

Best moments of the album: Reason to Believe and Blinded by Lights.

Worst moments of the album: Falling Through.

Released in 2022 Spy Satellite Records

Track listing
1. Reason to Believe 8:11
2. Shackles of Desire 8:15
3. Waiting for Time 6:25
4. Blinded by Lights 4:45
5. Falling Through 6:41
6. Blurring the Lines 8:26
7. Dawn of the Morning Star 7:56

Band members
Imran Manaff – vocals, guitars, bass, synth, drums programming

Metal Chick of the Month – Thais Amaral

Soldado não para!

If you’re a fan of the Crossover Thrash played by bands like Sepultura and Lamb of God, but at the same time highly influenced by Alternative and New Metal the likes of Korn, Jinjer and Deftones, get ready to be absolutely stunned by our metal chick of the month of November, who’s more than ready to rock like there’s no tomorrow together with her bandmates from a Brazilian band that goes by the stylish name of Endigna. Owner of a potent and versatile voice, she can deliver first-class clean vocals as well as demonic roars to our avid ears, both in Brazilian Portuguese and in English, leaving us all disoriented after her sonic attack is said and done. I’m talking about Thais Amaral, also known as Thais Endigna or even Babby Drunk, not only the frontwoman for Endigna but also a woman that brings a very welcome (and aggressive) feminine touch to a scene dominated by men.

Born and raised in Taboão da Serra, a municipality in the state of São Paulo in Brazil and part of the Metropolitan Region of the city of São Paulo, Thais started her life in music when she was around 8 or 9 years old because of the religious direction of her own family. As part of a gospel family, she got used to seeing people around her singing and playing different musical instruments; however, she only got interested in singing, never in playing an instrument, which led her to be part of the children’s choir at her church, moving on to the teenage group and to the youth group, later forming an all-female quintet where they used to sing a slightly different musical style more inclined to Soul and R&B. Although she decided to leave the church only when she was 16, she used to listen to a lot of rock music from the 90’s since she was around 12, which ended up having a huge influence on her desire to have her own band. That dream kind of came true when she was about to turn 18 years old, in 2003, when she formed a band named Goma 84, which unfortunately lasted for only two years until it was dissolved due to the different musical directions each member wanted to take. Through the years, apart from popular singing, Thais has also been enrolled in a course at IC&T – Instituto de Canto e Tecnologia in São Paulo, Brazil specialized in Heavy Metal vocal techniques, taught by Brazilian vocalist Thiago Bianchi (Shaman, Noturnall).

It was in 2007 that Thais formed her current band Endigna together with drummer (and also her husband) Tiago Sorrentino, aiming at showing a more aggressive side of rock and metal with lyrics in Portuguese, dealing with different introspective and rebellious topics. Highly influenced by renowned acts like Sepultura, Pantera, Lamb of God and Korn, as well as some very interesting names of the Brazilian scene such as Nação Zumbi and Raimundos, the band comprised of our metal lady Thais Amaral (or in this case Babby Drunk) on vocals, Tom Ayres on the guitar, Bruno Mota on bass and Tiago Sorrentino on drums released their debut EP entitled Soldado Não Para (which would translate as “a soldier doesn’t stop” or “a soldier never stops” from Portuguese) in 2014, and despite all the changes in their lineup through the years the band has solidified their name in the Brazilian underground scene, having already played in several cities across the country. At first, when the band was created, Thais and her bandmates were not exactly sure of what they wanted to do apart from obviously having fun playing in a metal band, and what started as a form of entertainment with the band playing cover songs from bands like Sepultura, System of a Down and Disturbed (like this live footage from 2012 where they play the classic Down with the Sickness), plus a couple of original compositions, quickly evolved to a more serious project, attracting more and more people curious to see that fusion of extreme music with female clean and harsh vocals.

In 2018, while Endigna was recording their first full-length album, Thais and Tiago faced a lot of problems with lineup changes and different musical ideas, which forced Thais to end the recordings and put an end also to Endigna as a band. However, after uploading on YouTube a vocal cover video for the song Pisces, by one of her favorite bands, Ukrainian metallers Jinjer, Thais was informed the video was not only seen by Jinjer themselves, but the band posted it on their official Facebook page, acknowledging it as the best cover version to one of their songs they’ve ever seen. If that wasn’t enough to make Thais extremely happy and proud of herself, Endigna were later invited to be the opening act for Jinjer at Manifesto Bar in São Paulo during their Latin American tour that year. Needless to say, that was a dream come true for Thais and the boys, re-igniting the fire inside Endigna for the delight of all fans of the band. If you want to enjoy the flammable music and live performances by Thais and her bandmates from Endigna, I recommend you take a good look and and even better listen at several Youtube videos from their official channel such as De Mãos Dadas, Pecado, Soldado Não Para, Lei Da Obediência, and several live videos like Morre Que Passa, Salvação at Mineiro Rock Bar, Pecado and Cara Da Derrota at Manifesto Bar in 2015, and Salvação, Sufocante and Lei Da Obediência live at Crazy Festival at Led Slay in 2011. Also ,don’t forget to check their SoundCloud page and official Instagram profile to know more about the band and their music.

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Apaart from her career with Endigna, our dauntless Thais can also be seen singing on the song Olho por Olho (which literally translates as “eye for an eye”) by a very peculiar project curiously named D.A.T.E.N.N.A (Desgraceiras Aterradoras Televisionadas Em Notícias Nada Agradáveis), a wordplay with the name of a Brazilian journalist who hosts a hideous TV show that deals mostly with the urban violence and nasty crimes in various regions of Brazil, as well as her aforementioned YouTube channel where you can find her vocal covers for Jinjer’s Pisces and Arch Enemy’s Reason To Believe, featuring special guest Hebberty Taurus,  guitarist for a Brazilian metal band called Dakhmas. Furthermore, Thais is also a skillful tattoo artist, running her own studio called Thais Amaral Tattoo in her hometown Taboão Da Serra (and you can get more details about the studio directly from its Facebook page or Instagram).

Regarding her biggest idols, influences and favorite bands and artists, Thais always mentions in her interviews iconic groups like Lamb Of God, Slayer, Deftones, Otep, Faith No More, A Perfect Circle, Tool and Stone Temple Pilots, and even pop artists like Beyoncé and P!nk; in addition, Thais also said in one of her social media profiles that the saddest song she’s ever listened to is Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven, the movie she’s watched the most in her life is The Craft, from 1996, saying she even owns it in VHS and DVD, and that she recommends the song Kriptonita, by a band named Ludov, for anyone who’s looking for good music from the Brazilian rock scene.

Thais, who by the way has been suffering from bulimia for several years but that fortunately has also been able to control that inner monster, said in one of her interviews that although the rock and metal scene are still considered sexist by many, she doesn’t really feel that difference or discrimination as she works better with guys than with girls, but that she obviously understands from a viewer standpoint that there’s a lot more pressure on women than on men. Also, our talented growler currently enjoys full support from her family in regards to her career as a musician, complementing by saying that this wasn’t the case in the beginning as the type of music played by Endigna isn’t exactly what we can consider a cash cow. Nevertheless, Thais and Endigna truly love to hit the stage and kick some serious asses, with her “ritual” before her live performances including a facial muscle warm-up, vocalizations and gargling with lukewarm water to drain her vocal chords, and after the concert is over she doesn’t talk or say anything for four or six hours to recover her voice.

Lastly, when asked about the rock and metal scene in her hometown and in the rest of Brazil, Thais said that there are countless amazing bands all over the country that deserve our attention, despite of course all hassles and barriers faced by any underground band that plays heavy music. She complemented by saying that her interaction with all organizers, as well as with all fans of heavy music, is always fantastic, praising the hard work by everyone involve in all festivals and events where Endigna played and saying she loves to interact with the fans, without whom Endigna wouldn’t exist in her opinion, also mentioning the importance of the internet for the band to spread their music, their videos and tour dates. And, as a bonus, if you speak fluent Brazilian Portuguese or have a very good understanding of the language, simply sit down, relax and enjoy this nice interview with Thais to a series called “A Cena É Delas” for Motim Underground, where she talks about everything that was mentioned above and more, focusing on the role of women in the current scene, showing that the underground in Brazil is stronger than ever with talented musicians like Thais proudly carrying the flag of heavy music wherever they go.

Thais Amaral’s Official Facebook page
Thais Amaral’s Official Instagram
Thais Amaral’s Official Twitter
Thais Amaral’s Official YouTube channel
Endigna’s Official Facebook page

Endigna’s Official Instagram
Endigna’s Official Twitter
Endigna’s Official YouTube channel