The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2020

“Rock stars come and go. Musicians play until they die.” – Eddie Van Halen

What can I say about the year of 2020? No words can describe all the pain, fear, anxiety, losses and struggles we all had to endure during what’s going to be sadly remembered as the worst year of our modern times. We saw the rise of coronavirus, which had a huge negative impact on pretty much everything and everyone we know, with millions of hardworking people unfortunately losing their jobs, concerts being cancelled, restaurants and other businesses being shut down, people getting stuck in their homes and having to deal with psychological issues like depression, and more important than that, with countless lives, and in some cases people really close to us, people we love, losing their battle against such horrible disease. We also witnessed a gut-wrenching surge in racism against black people all over the world, and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement in the never-ending fight for freedom and justice, trying to make our world a better place for everyone. And last but not least, we lost so many iconic figures it’s hard to list everyone without crying a little. We lost sports titans such as Kobe Bryant, Diego Maradona and Paolo Rossi, amazing, talented actors and actresses including our beloved “Black Panther” Chadwick Boseman, the original “Darth Vader” David Prowse and the unstoppable Mad Max’s villain “Immortal Joe” Hugh Keays-Byrne, and music geniuses like Rush’s unparalleled Neil Peart and one of the best and most revolutionary guitarists of all time, the one and only Eddie Van Halen. May their souls rest in peace.

However, although we might be living such difficult and stressful times, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with the development of effective vaccines that will certainly put our society back on track sooner than later, giving us all some hope and pointing to a much better future for all of us. In the meantime, I guess one thing that we metalheads have been doing (and will always do) throughout such shitty year is using the music we love to face all of our problems and fears with our heads and horns high in the sky, never giving up nor giving in. Having said that, I’ll leave you with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2020, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, showing to us all that it doesn’t matter what happens with the world, heavy music will always stand strong. From the most primeval form of Black Metal to fast and electrifying Power Metal, from a beyond amazing soaring numbers of women kicking ass in an array of styles such as Doom, Symphonic and Death Metal to the most underground Atmospheric Black Metal entities you can think of, from our good old Rock N’ Roll to modern-day Alternative Metal, music prevailed above darkness, pain and hate, and that’s how it will be forever and ever. Enjoy our list of top metal albums for this (terrible) year that’s coming to an end, and let’s keep raising our horns and banging our heads together in 2021!

1. Primal Fear – Metal Commando (REVIEW)
Join Primal Fear’s undisputed rock brigade and become a true metal commando to the sound of their breathtaking new album.
Best song of the album: Infinity

2. Trivium – What The Dead Men Say (REVIEW)
It’s time to listen to what these four (un)dead men from Orlando, Florida have to say in their thrilling new opus.
Best song of the album: Amongst the Shadows & the Stones

3. Testament – Titans Of Creation (REVIEW)
The titans of Thrash Metal are back in action with another technical, melodic and absolutely pulverizing album of extreme music.
Best song of the album: Night of the Witch

4. Lamb of God – Lamb of God (REVIEW)
Re-energized and unrelenting, Lamb of God are finally back after five years with their pulverizing eighth studio album.
Best song of the album: Gears

5. Sepultura – Quadra (REVIEW)
A sensational concept album based on Quadrivium embraced by a fusion of Thrash, Groove and Progressive Metal.
Best song of the album: Guardians of Earth

6. Onslaught – Generation Antichrist (REVIEW)
These UK veterans are ready to set the world on fire once again with one of the most ferocious Thrash Metal albums of the year.
Best song of the album: Religiousuicide

7. Ecclesia – De Ecclesiæ Universalis (REVIEW)
This army of French inquisitors stands strong on their crusade against every doom heretic with their incendiary debut album.
Best song of the album: Antichristus

8. Eleine – Dancing In Hell (REVIEW)
Time for us all to dance in the fires of hell to the sound of the striking new opus by this unstoppable Swedish Symphonic Metal group.
Best song of the album: Where Your Rotting Corpse Lie (W.Y.R.C.L.)

9. Grave Digger – Fields of Blood (REVIEW)
Grave Digger celebrate 40 years of their undisputed Heavy Metal on a journey back to the vastness of the Scottish Highlands.
Best song of the album: Freedom

10. Konvent – Puritan Masochism (REVIEW)
A dark, primeval and stunning fusion of Death and Doom Metal masterfully crafted by four unrelenting women hailing from Denmark.
Best song of the album: Puritan Masochism

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

11. Genus Ordinis Dei – Glare of Deliverance (REVIEW)
12. Paradise Lost – Obsidian (REVIEW)
13. Axel Rudi Pell – Sign of the Times (REVIEW)
14. Raventale – Planetarium II (REVIEW)
15. Hellsmoke – 2020 (REVIEW)
16. My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion (REVIEW)
17. Burning Witches – Dance with the Devil (REVIEW)
18. Naglfar – Cerecloth (REVIEW)
19. Scarlet Aura – Stormbreaker (REVIEW)
20. Thundermother – Heat Wave (REVIEW)

And how about we also pay a tribute to the bands that released short and sweet albums that condensed pretty much the same amount of electricity, rage and intricacy than any of the full-length albums from the list above? That’s why we’re also going to provide you as usual our Top 10 EP’s of 2020 for you to see that size doesn’t really matter.

1. Front – Antichrist Militia (REVIEW)
2. Malfested – Shallow Graves (REVIEW)
3. Tøronto – Under Siege (REVIEW)
4. Soul Dissolution – Winter Contemplations (REVIEW)
5. Lutharö – Wings of Agony (REVIEW)
6. Póstuma – Moralis (REVIEW)
7. Black Sun – Silent Enemy (REVIEW)
8. MĀRA – Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive! (REVIEW)
9. Serocs – Vore (REVIEW)
10. Invocation – Attunement to Death (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2020? Also, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC+2 on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show! And if you lost some or most of our special editions of The Headbanging Moose Show, including our Top 20 Underground Albums of 2020 – Parts I and II, go to our Mixcloud page and there you have hours and hours of the best of the independent scene, sounds good?

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2021!

And before we go, let’s bang our heads one last time in 2020 with a classic Christmas song by an amazing Romanian band that loves Heavy Metal from the bottom of their hearts, pointing to much better times ahead for all of us! Enjoy!

Album Review – Sepultura / Quadra (2020)

A sensational concept album based on Quadrivium embraced by a fusion of Thrash, Groove and Progressive Metal, masterfully crafted by the best Brazilian metal band of all time.

In case you’re form another dimension and haven’t listened to Quadra yet, let me tell you that the fifteenth studio effort by Brazilian Thrash/Groove Metal titans Sepultura is much more than just another metal album. With a concept based on Quadrivium, which are the four subjects or arts (namely arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy), taught after teaching the trivium, Quadra, meaning “four ways” from Latin, is a 12-track album divided into four sections of three songs each. The first being Thrash Metal songs based on the classic Sepultura sound; the second section is inspired by the groove-percussion oriented sound the band explored in Roots; the third part has more progressive songs inspired by the track Iceberg Dances from Machine Messiah, albeit not all are instrumental tracks; and side four features slow-paced and melodic tracks similar to the song Machine Messiah. Add to that the undeniable talent by the band’s four horsemen Derrick Green on vocals, Andreas Kisser on the guitars, Paulo Jr. on bass and Eloy Casagrande on drums, and there you have the band’s most successful record since 1998’s Against.

Recorded and produced by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden, and featuring a bold artwork by Christiano Menezes from Darkside Books revolving around the meaning of the number four, Quadra is also the Portuguese term for sports court. “We all come from different Quadras. The countries, all nations with their borders and traditions; culture, religions, laws, education and a set of rules where life takes place. Our personalities, what we believe, how we live, how we build societies and relationships, all depends on these set of rules that we grew up with. Concepts of creation, gods, death and ethics. Money, we are enslaved by this concept. Who’s poor and who’s rich, that’s how we measure people and material goods. Regardless of your Quadra you need money to survive, the prime rule to play this game called life. Hence the coin. The coin is forged with the senator skull, who represents the set of rules and laws we live by; the world map on his head delimiting the borders of all nations, imaginary lines separating people by concepts of race and the sacred,” explained Andreas about the concept behind the album art.

Tribal beats and futuristic sounds ignite the brutal and groovy Isolation, an old school Thrash Metal chant with Sepultura’s unique twist, where Derrick already tells us all this album is going to be fantastic through his enraged roars, whereas Means to an End is another ass-kicking, trademark creation by the quartet with the talented Eloy bringing tons of progressiveness and fury to the musicality, while Paulo continues to be precise and groovy as usual on bass. And there’s no sign of slowing down in Last Time, where Derrick and Eloy represent the brutality in the music while Andreas showcases his infinite talent as a shredder as well as with his fantastic solos; and adding primeval elements and beats from the band’s cultural background it’s time for one more round of savagery and groove united in the name of metal in Capital Enslavement, with Andreas slashing his strings beautifully accompanied by the unstoppable Eloy on drums. Back to a more traditional sound blending Thrash, Groove and Progressive Metal, Andreas, Paulo and Eloy generate a bold and reverberating atmosphere in Ali, sounding beyond perfect for Derrick to fire his beastly growls.

Raging Void is a mid-tempo, neck-breaking tune led by Eloy and his pounding drums where Derrick is effectively supported by all backing vocals, while Andreas keep stunning us all with his whimsical guitar. Then  a sensational acoustic intro by Andreas sets the stage for an austere and multi-layered metal feast entitled Guardians of Earth (which has one of the best and most touching official videos of the past decade), with all choirs and orchestrations making the whole song even more impactful and thrilling; followed by The Pentagram, bringing to our ears a classic Death Metal sonority infused with endless progressiveness and rage. Furthermore, Andreas is superb on the guitars as usual, while Paulo brings the groove with his minimalist but precise bass jabs, resulting in an excellent instrumental composition. After that we have Autem, uniting the past, present and perhaps the future of Sepultura by alternating between old school thrashing moments and the obscurity and hatred from Death and even Black Metal. Needless to say, Eloy and Andreas are in absolute sync throughout the entire song, and after the brief but beautiful acoustic intermission Quadra, it’s time for a darker, more introspective side of Derek in Agony of Defeat, where once again all background choirs and orchestrations bring a touch of finesse to the overall result, albeit not as majestic as the rest of the album, though. And last but not least, the delicate, sexy vocals by guest Emmily Barreto make a superb paradox with the raspy growls by Derrick in Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering, with the music sounding grim, melodic and vibrant form start to finish, or in other words, a great composition showcasing the band’s endless creativity and passion for heavy music.

After all is said and done, it’s more than fair to give such amazing album of heavy music four of our rating skulls, especially as the album revolves around the various meaning of the number four, right? In addition, in case you haven’t done so yet, I recommend you follow the best and most influential band of the Brazilian metal scene of all time on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their official YouTube channel for more of their unique and heavy-as-hell songs and videos, and of course purchase or stream Quadra by clicking HERE. When Derrick was asked during an interview with BraveWords “Which Sepultura album are you most proud of?”, he replied, “Definitely Quadra. It’s the latest album, and we really worked so hard on it. We have so many different elements from the past that have helped us get to here – where we are at right now. So, without a doubt in my mind, this is the strongest album that we’ve done together. And I’m extremely proud of it.” I guess we must all agree with Derrick that Quadra is hands down the most detailed, diverse and electrifying album of his era fronting Sepultura, raising the flag of Brazilian metal higher and higher for the delight of all of their loyal and diehard fans.

Best moments of the album: Isolation, Capital Enslavement, Guardians of Earth and Fear and Pain, Chaos, Suffering.

Worst moments of the album: Agony of Defeat.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Isolation 4:56
2. Means to an End 4:39
3. Last Time 4:27
4. Capital Enslavement 3:40
5. Ali 4:12
6. Raging Void 3:57
7. Guardians of Earth 5:11
8. The Pentagram 5:20
9. Autem 4:06
10. Quadra 0:46
11. Agony of Defeat 5:51
12. Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering 4:09

Alive in Brazil Digipack and Earbook bonus disc (recorded live at “Audio” in São Paulo, Brazil on June 20, 2015)
1. Choke 3:46
2. Convicted in Life 3:31
3. Sepulnation 4:41
4. Apes of God 3:22
5. Sepultura Under My Skin 3:45
6. Manipulation of Tragedy 4:19
7. The Vatican 6:34
8. Cut-Throat 2:55

Band members
Derrick Green – lead vocals
Andreas Kisser – guitars
Paulo Jr. – bass
Eloy Casagrande – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Bruna Zenti – violin
Kadu Fernandes – percussion on “Capital Enslavement”
Renato Zanuto – keyboards, orchestrations on “Isolation”, “Means to an End”, “Capital Enslavement” and “Guardians of Earth”, choir arrangements
Francesco Ferrini – orchestrations on “Last Time” and “Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering”
Robertinho Rodrigues – acoustic bass
Chorus Mysticus – choir vocals
Jens Bogren – backing vocals
Paulo Cyrino – effects on “Ali”
Gunnar Misgeld – choir arrangements on “Isolation”, “Last Time”, “Guardians of Earth” and “Agony of Defeat”
Emmily Barreto – female vocals on “Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering”

Concert Review –Testament (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 04/27/2017)

When you have two of the best and most iconic Thrash Metal bands of all time playing together in the city, you know exactly where you have to be.

OPENING ACTS: Prong and Sepultura

As much as I enjoy the Phoenix Concert Theatre and obviously the bands that were going to play last night, I truly and deeply hate the weekdays rush hour traffic to get from my town, the suburban Oakville, to Toronto whenever there’s a good metal concert I want to attend. At least the weather was fantastic (even with a short storm that happened at around 7pm), with the temperature being above 20 degrees, which means no one had to carry their burdensome jackets like what always happens when a concert is in the middle of the winter.

Anyway, due to traffic (and because I had to eat something before heading to the venue), I completely missed the performance by American Crossover Thrash power trio PRONG. I have absolutely no idea if it was a good concert or not. Well, probably yes as the group spearheaded by Tommy Victor has all it takes to deliver great music to the audience, but unfortunately I can’t say a word about what they did last night, not even write down their setlist.

Band members
Tommy Victor – lead vocals, guitar
Jason Christopher – bass guitar, backing vocals
Art Cruz – drums

Fortunately, I got to the Phoenix Concert Theatre just in time to see the always amazing show by Brazilian Thrash/Groove Metal masters SEPULTURA, who are currently promoting their latest album, the very experimental and exciting Machine Messiah.  Derrick Green, Andreas Kisser, Paulo Jr. and Eloy Casagrande put on an electrified performance on stage from start to finish, blending several songs of their new album like the excellent Phantom Self and Sworn Oath with all-time classics such as Desperate Cry, Inner Self (my favorite of the night) and Refuse/Resist, and of course the song most fans at the venue wanted to hear, their ritualistic hymn Roots Bloody Roots. The sound was very clear, cohesive and powerful, just like what the band offers us in their studio albums, proving Sepultura are a band that always provides their fans the same high level of quality found in their studio versions when they transport those compositions to the stage. As usual, the highlights of their performance were the insane riffs, solos and other awesome tricks done by Andreas with his guitar. That guy is one of the most gifted guitarists in the history of heavy music, which means if you’ve never seen him playing live, don’t miss that chance the next time “Sepultura do Brasil” visit your city.

Setlist
I Am the Enemy
Phantom Self
Choke
Desperate Cry
Sworn Oath
Inner Self
Alethea
Resistant Parasites
Refuse/Resist
Ratamahatta
Roots Bloody Roots

Band members
Derrick Green – lead vocals
Andreas Kisser – guitars
Paulo Jr. – bass
Eloy Casagrande – drums, percussion

TESTAMENT

After a short bathroom and beer break, it was time for American Thrash Metal behemoths TESTAMENT to create a sonic Armageddon in Toronto with their unparalleled aggression and refined technique. I guess I always say the same thing about Testament, but all band members are extremely talented and way above average, in special the guitar virtuoso Alex Skolnick and the human earthquake Gene Hoglan. Those two are not simple musicians, they’re demonic beasts when armed with their instruments, delivering the best of the best when it comes to heavy music.

Blasting some of their newest creations from the best metal album of 2016, the superb Brotherhood Of The Snake, especially the kick-ass tunes Brotherhood of the Snake, The Pale King and Stronghold, with old school songs and newer classics, they delivered a flawless performance for the delight of all metalheads at the venue. A few songs from their setlist deserve some special attention, like the brutal and sensational Rise Up for its enhanced mighty power when played live, the high-octane Centuries of Suffering for the insanely intricate magic Gene does behind his drums, and Electric Crown for the amount of groove and feeling flowing from the band’s instruments.

My only complaint about the concert was the excessive amount of solos, one for each band member. As much as I love each guy from the band, I personally prefer regular songs than solos. If they replaced those solos with newer songs like “The Number Game” or “Native Blood”, or with classic like “D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)” or “Burnt Offerings”, it would have been just perfect, but that’s just my opinion. The whole concert was fuckin’ awesome anyway; not even all those solos were able to cool down the audience, mainly because whenever there was a solo there was also a demolishing classic right after it, like when they played the circle pit-generator First Strike Is Deadly after Gene’s drum solo.

Before playing the encore, the iconic Chuck Billy, who by the way is singing better and better as time goes by, therefore being able to perfectly replicate his sensational deep growls live without making any extra effort, told the fans a story about when they were in Texas hanging out with the guys from one of the most respected, energized and violent bands of all time, the one and only Pantera, drinking Jack Daniel’s (and probably taking other stuff as well) with them. Can you imagine that? Testament and Pantera together? The 90’s were definitely the best period for Thrash Metal, no doubt about that. Chuck said that after a lot of drinking, something hit his head (maybe a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, or maybe it was the alcohol itself) and he told the other guys he had the name for their new album. It was going to be called Practice What you Preach, one of their biggest hits, and one of the best of the night as well.

There was still time for one last sick mosh pit with Over the Wall, and after all was said and done you could see how happy all fans of Testament were with their amazing performance. As Chuck said, I hope all promoters in Canada turn their eyes to Testament more often aiming at having more concerts all over the country, not only two or three cities. Let’s hope that those promoters listen to the deep voice by Chuck and we have more of the brotherhood of Thrash Metal in our currently not-so-cold country, because after such brilliant performance last night I’m sure all Torontonian fans of Testament are eager for more of their music.

Setlist
Brotherhood of the Snake
Rise Up
The Pale King
Centuries of Suffering
Alex Skolnick’s Guitar Solo
Electric Crown
Into the Pit
Low
Throne of Thorns
Stronghold
Eric Peterson’s Guitar Solo
Eyes of Wrath
Gene Hoglan’s Drum Solo
First Strike Is Deadly
Steve DiGiorgio’s Bass Solo
Urotsukidôji
Souls of Black
Seven Seals
The New Order

Encore:
Practice What You Preach
Over the Wall

Band members
Chuck Billy – vocals
Eric Peterson – guitar
Alex Skolnick – guitar
Steve Di Giorgio – bass
Gene Hoglan – drums

Album Review – Sepultura / Machine Messiah (2017)

“Sepultura do Brasil” are back with an exciting, multilayered journey through countless music genres and styles, proving there’s still room for innovation in heavy music.

Rating4

sepultura_machine_messiahIf you’re one of those diehard fans of Brazilian Thrash/Groove Metal icons Sepultura that doesn’t accept anything the band has done after the departure of Max Cavalera, you can stop reading this review right now as that version of Sepultura is long gone. Machine Messiah, the fourteenth studio album by the most important band in the history of Brazilian Metal, is not only their best release since their 1998 album Against, but also (and more important than that) their most experimental album since their 1996 classic Roots, completely different from that basic Thrash Metal formula from their early days, therefore offering admirers of innovative music an exciting, multilayered journey through countless music genres and styles.

Machine Messiah, which features a stylish artwork designed by visual artist Camille Della Rosa that feels like a play with the cover art from their 1991 cult album Arise, is also the band’s first studio album in over three years since The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart, from 2013, marking the longest gap between two studio albums in their career. In addition, this is the second album with Eloy Casagrande on drums, who’s definitely a lot more comfortable now with the band and, consequently, he ends up adding a lot more intricacy, electricity and groove to the music by Sepultura. And regarding Mr. Andreas Kisser, well, nothing I write in this review will be enough to describe what he did in Machine Messiah with his superb technique.

Venturing on new lands never before explored by Sepultura, the title-track Machine Messiah is a dark, slow and atmospheric tune where we have Derrick’s clean and somber vocals complemented by Andreas’ unique riffs and soulful solos, showcasing elements from Doom and Stoner Metal that increase the song’s obscurity; whereas I Am the Enemy, with its rebellious lyrics (“Powered by thoughts of revolution / Building all bridges of error / Search and destroy my sick innerself / To realize I’m not a fraud”), gets closer to the brutal Hardcore found in albums like Against, with Eloy smashing his drums while Andreas and Derrick emanate sheer violence in this excellent high-octane hymn. And in Phantom Self, an experimental Groove Metal composition with hints of Alternative Metal, regional elements from the Brazilian and Middle-Eastern cultures are nicely added to the musicality, enhanced by the song’s thoughtful lyrics (“The crash. Flash backs. Carnage the blood keeps on flowing / Killing me. Trapped inside this tragedy / Can’t see the road in front of me / Replay this nightmare over and over”).

Alethea is another distinct composition in such diverse album, albeit not as crisp and exciting as the previous songs despite its progressiveness and experimentations. Once again, it’s Andreas who delivers the best pieces of the song with his flammable guitar, which also happens in Iceberg Dances, a kick-ass instrumental extravaganza where Andreas, Paulo and Eloy are in perfect sync, firing powerful riffs, thunderous bass lines and groovy beats. It reminds me a lot of the music by Mastodon, which means it’s at the same time insane and harmonious, with its Deep Purple-inspired keyboards and Flamenco acoustic guitar lines bringing even more awesomeness to the overall result. The symphonic and sometimes epic Sworn Oath, the longest of all songs, is not just another good surprise in Machine Messiah, but also in my humble opinion the best sonority for Derrick’s voice when he’s not singing fast-paced Hardcore. Moreover, if played live with a proper orchestra, it should sound simply astounding.

sepultura_2017In the dark Resistant Parasites, Paulo delivers sheer heaviness with his bass lines, taking the song’s modern Groove Metal to the extreme, exhibiting a powerful and innovative vibe without losing the band’s characteristic aggressiveness, followed by Silent Violence, another track that reminds me of the craziness blasted by Mastodon. It’s fuckin’ heavy and complex at the same time, a tune to break your neck where Derrick fires madness and anger with his growls while Andreas continues to deliver pure creativity and feeling through his riffs and solos. Eloy and Andreas speed things up in the thrilling mosh pit-generator hymn Vandals Nest, bringing forward tons of creativity, complexity and groove (needless to say, I can’t wait to feel this song played live), before Cyber God gets back to the doomed sonority found in many parts of the album. This is a beautiful, somber ending to the regular version of the album, displaying low-tuned bass punches and piercing guitars, and blending elements from several styles such as Industrial, Groove, Gothic and Doom Metal, among many others, being extremely hard to define its style. And of course, if you go for the special edition of Machine Messiah, you’ll be treated to two top-notch bonus tracks, in special their cover version for Ultraseven no Uta from the cult tokusatsu science fiction TV series Ultra Seven, originally recorded by The Echoes & Misuzu Children’s Choral Group, not to mention the version that comes with a DVD with the making of Machine Messiah available at the Nuclear Blast webstore.

After Machine Messiah, I wonder where Andreas, Paulo, Derrick and Eloy will go next with their music. It’s such an experimental, intense and elaborate album it’s hard to imagine those four guys will be able to top it in terms of complexity with their future releases. But who am I to doubt what the iconic Sepultura will offer the world in the future? Andreas keeps getting better and better in what he does, putting his heart and soul into his music and uniting with his guitar in the most perfect way imaginable, with the other band members supporting him with precision and stamina. Sepultura are and will always be Brazil’s most prominent metal band no matter what, and with Machine Messiah they’re sending a solid message to the world there’s still room for innovation in heavy music, always keeping their core essence heavy and electrifying.

Best moments of the album: I Am the Enemy, Iceberg Dances and Vandals Nest.

Worst moments of the album: Alethea.

Released in 2017 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Machine Messiah 5:54
2. I Am the Enemy 2:27
3. Phantom Self 5:30
4. Alethea 4:31
5. Iceberg Dances 4:41
6. Sworn Oath 6:09
7. Resistant Parasites 4:58
8. Silent Violence 3:46
9. Vandals Nest 2:47
10. Cyber God 5:22

Special Edition bonus tracks
11. Chosen Skin 3:17
12. Ultraseven no Uta (The Echoes & Misuzu Children’s Choral Group cover) 1:18

Band members
Derrick Green – lead vocals
Andreas Kisser – guitars
Paulo Jr. – bass
Eloy Casagrande – drums, percussion

Interview – Hateful Warfare

Take a shot at this fun interview with Hateful Warfare to have a very good depiction of the everyday life, experiences and dreams of a true underground Death Metal band from Brazil.

Hateful WarfareThe Headbanging Moose: As you’re a brand new Death Metal act, I guess we need to start by presenting you to our readers. In other words, who are Hateful Warfare? Can you please share with us some details on how the band got together, why and how you chose the name “Hateful Warfare”, where each band member comes from, and what your main goals are for the future?

Hateful Warfare: The band is comprised of Andrei (bass/vocals), Norba (guitar) and Denis (drums), a traditional Death Metal power trio. The band is a reformation of another project we had in the past, which didn’t end up working well and so the three of us decided to remain together and focus our common ideas on our songwriting and composing. The name of the band came in a moment of anger (laughs), as we were searching for a name that was impactful and that at the same time matched with our personalities on stage. Our goals for the future are recording our first full-length album, shooting a video clip, and then going on a tour of the album across Brazil.

THM: The band might be new, but there has already been a significant change to your music when one of the guitarists left and Hateful Warfare became a power trio. How has that influenced your music and the dynamism among the three band members left? What are the positive outcomes of this important change?

HW: His time with the band was short mainly due to his geographic location/distance to the rest of the band, which was a huge hassle for our rehearsals. It was decided that we would go on as a power trio, and our dynamism only tends to grow because when you’re a power trio you have more freedom in terms of composition, improvisation, harmony, acquaintanceship, among other positive points. In addition to that, Andrei and Norba are father and son, which already helps a lot. We are all comfortable in what we’ve been doing so far and this is very significant for a band to move on.

THM: I had the pleasure of reviewing your short but extremely heavy debut EP, entitled Scenarios Of Execution. If I had to describe the album in just a few words, I would say it’s old school Death Metal exactly the way it’s supposed to be. How was the songwriting and composition period of the album? How long did it take to finalize everything, and what were the highlights of the entire process to you?

HW: Thank you for your kind words, this is very gratifying for us.  The creative process was very demanding, rehearsing two or three times a week, always composing riffs and with focus on creating something new everyday. We all thought about something during the week, wrote something, created the riffs, recorded at home and then presented that during the rehearsal in order to always capitalize on something. The recording was done at the Audio Goblin studio with the local producer and musician Fábio Gorresen (Flesh Grinder/Zombie Cookbook). It took one month to finalize the recording, mixing and mastering, and after that we released a few physical copies of the EP. We believe that the impact of the EP has been very positive, making us even more excited to record our full-length album as soon as possible.

THM: I would like to know more details about my favorite songs of the EP, starting with the excellent Welcome to my Nightmare. As mentioned in our review for the EP, the vocals sound inspired by the early days of the iconic Max Cavalera. Is he one of your main influences in music? How do you prepare your voice for the thunderous Death Metal by Hateful Warfare? In addition, although the riffs are extremely dirty, the overall result of the song is very melodic. How did you manage to reach that amazing level of balance between brutality and harmony?

Hateful Warfare02HW: There is no secret, it’s just a matter of keeping the throat always moist and sing with hatred (laughs). Regarding you mentioning the song being dirty and melodic, I believe that actually comes from our influences, as this song was inspired by classic Death Metal the likes of Scream Bloody Gore (Death)  to the Thrash Metal from the album Extreme Aggression (Kreator). There’s always aggressiveness followed by something harmonious that matches perfectly with the style.

THM:  My other favorite tune, Bloody Night, brings lots of awesome elements from different subgenres of extreme music, such as Black and Doom Metal. Was that something you planned on doing, or did it come up naturally during the writing process? How does the audience react to songs that are not purely Death Metal like this one?

HW: It was something natural, we don’t write our music trying to remain 100% loyal to Death Metal. We have an infinitude of influences inside each of our heads and that was what best suited the music, lyrics thrown to the imaginary with an aggressive theme and several variations in the instrumental, stressing the heaviness and the speed at different times.

THM:  Brazil might not be considered the most metal country in the world, but there’s still a good share of incredible bands spread across the country, not to mention how crazy most Brazilian headbangers are. In your opinion, how is the current Heavy Metal scene in Brazil? Do you feel that there are enough bands, venues and concerts down there to keep the fire of metal burning bright for many years to come? What are the main issues for a heavy band in Brazil?

HW: There are excellent new bands rising month after month, incredible places spread throughout Brazil, high-skilled musicians and the utmost quality. The only disturbing things are the high costs to maintain a band, equipment with extremely high taxes, and if you do not have a studio yourself you have to pay a lot of money to rehearse every single week. What drives metal in Brazil is the underground, we have to be headbangers faithful to the art, because making a living from metal in Brazil is still a dream for all of us, some can do it but that’s just a minority.

THM: What are top 5 albums that influenced the band members the most, and how much do those albums still inspire you to craft your music? What about non-metal bands and artists, are there any you enjoy that also impact the way you write your music?

HW: The top 5 albums that are the most present in the playlists of each one of us are Piece of Mind (Iron Maiden), Leprosy (Death), Severed Survival (Autopsy), Hell Awaits (Slayer) and Arise (Sepultura). Our writing process involves the whole context of what’s going on through our heads. At the moment I don’t have any specific albums to mention, but I would like to stress out that the lyrics for the song Addiction to Kill were written based on the story of the TV series Dexter.

THM: What would be the “dream tour” for Hateful Warfare? I mean, which bands would you feel honored to play with, and what are the cities, venues or festivals you would love to visit together with those bands?

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Album Review – Hateful Warfare / Scenarios Of Execution EP (2015)

HW: There is an infinity of bands who we dream of playing together, such as Destruction, Gruesome, Cancer, Kreator, Obscura, Obituary, Sodom, Vader and so on (laughs). With every passing year high-quality festivals are born in several countries, but like any headbanger it would be a dream come true to step on the stage at Wacken Open Air, Hellfest, Monsters of Rock, Obscene Extreme, among others.

THM: In regards to your current tour dates, how are the concerts to promote Scenarios Of Execution going? Do you have any funny stories to share with us, or talk about something that went horribly wrong with the band? And do you have any plans for an international tour here in North America, in Europe or anywhere else?

HW: The shows have been taking place only in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil, and they have been very positive so far for us. We have several good stories happening every night, the funniest being our first show. We were tuning the instruments to hit the stage and the intro was already going to start playing, when we lost sight of our drummer. We sought him all over the venue and no sign of him. We spent about 10 minutes looking for him and when we finally found him he was outside talking to some friends, while we were getting absolutely mad after him for a while (laughs).

THM: Muito obrigado pela entrevista! Please feel free to send a final message to all readers of The Headbanging Moose and to all fans of old school Death Metal all over the word.

HW: First of all, thanks for the compliments on our work, and also to the space provided for the interview. To all fans of old school Death Metal, always seek for novelties in the genre, there is a lot of good stuff emerging but that’s not getting recognized as it should. This genre has a lot to be unraveled yet, and that this Death Metal vein never runs out of blood!

Links
Hateful Warfare Facebook | YouTube
Sangue Frio Produções Facebook | Website

Album Review – Ektomorf / Retribution (2014)

A very good “primitive” album from a relatively new Eastern European Groove/Thrash Metal band.

Rating5

ektomorf_retributionAlthough Retribution is already Ektomorf’s 9th studio album, it’s the first one from this Groove/Thrash Metal Hungarian band founded in 1993 I’ve ever listened to, and to be honest with you I felt really happy to know there are still some new bands in the world doing this more primitive and aggressive type of music, even though it’s not totally original.

I read somewhere that due to the gypsy background from lead singer/founder Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas (he’s from Mezőkovácsháza, a small Hungarian city near the border of Romania), he faced a lot of racism and prejudice that held back Ektomorf from an international career. Fortunately, it seems all this bullshit is being expunged from our society and replaced by wise people willing to listen to good heavy music, no matter where it comes from.

Retribution starts in a very brutal way with the excellent song You Can’t Control Me, whose intro, heavy riffs and constant pounding already remind me of the musicality from Sepultura, Soulfly and even Slipknot. One characteristic found not only in this track, but in the whole album, is Zoli’s pronounced Eastern European accent: it’s not bad though, just different, and ends up adding something more rudimentary or “primeval” to the overall quality of the album.

When I listened to the next track, the groovier Ten Plagues, I immediately thought about Max Cavalera being probably one of Zoli’s biggest idols, as well as Anders Fridén, from Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons In Flames. The following track, Face Your Fear, sounds like a heavy sequence to the previous track, while Escape has a more modern sonority and it’s the closest one to the American Nu Metal. Then comes Who The Fuck Are You, the most Thrash Metal track of Retribution, and probably the one with the angriest lyrics of all too.

The album goes on with Numb And Sick, with its great riffs and the clean vocals from Cris Machado (Ill Niño) complementing Zoli’s guttural, making it one of the best of the album. In my humble opinion, this type of partnership with some established North American bands like Ill Niño is extremely important, as it’s usually what opens the doors in the United States and Canada to bands from different parts of the world, like Ektomorf, something that North America is in desperate need due to the amount of prefabricated junk we have to swallow down every single day while watching TV or listening to the radio here.

ektomorfGetting back to Retribution, Lost And Destroyed is for me the weakest track of the album, mainly due to the lack of violence, while Souls Of Fire is totally based on the music from Sepultura, especially from Against or Sepulnation, with its awesome rampant rythym. Then Ektomorf offer us an excellent and damn heavy version for Verbal Abuse’s I Hate You: although I still prefer the version from my Thrash Metal heroes Slayer, I must admit Zoli and his crew did an astounding job here too. Another very good track is Watch Me, which is even more inspired by Sepultura, more specifically in the song Dusted from the classic album Roots.

The last part of the album has Mass Ignorance, another violent track with great riffs and vocals; Save Me, which is a lot slower than the rest of the album, but as heavy as hell anyway; and  Whisper, a song with a very interesting riff and many music elements from bands such as In Flames and Soilwork. The CD version also contains a bonus track called Collapsed Bridge, a nice semi-acoustic ballad where it’s possible to notice the band’s gypsy influences.

The very inspired album art is also another highlight of Retribution, and again it might be just me but I can see a high influence from Sepultura’s Roots and Against there too. In summary, a very good album from a band not many people know about, and a great step for a band that should gain more respect and grow musically and creatively speaking in their path to success.

Best moments of the album: You Can’t Control Me, Numb And Sick, Souls Of Fire and I Hate You.

Worst moments of the album: Lost And Destroyed and Save Me.

Released in 2014 AFM Records

Track listing
1. You Can’t Control Me 2:15
2. Ten Plagues 3:20
3. Face Your Fear 2:23
4. Escape 3:24
5. Who The Fuck Are You 2:32
6. Numb And Sick (feat. Cris Machado) 2:42
7. Lost And Destroyed 4:09
8. Souls Of Fire 4:26
9. I Hate You (Verbal Abuse cover) 2:08
10. Watch Me 3:23
11. Mass Ignorance 2:42
12. Save Me 2:50
13. Whisper 5:56

CD bonus track
14. Collapsed Bridge 3:07

Band members
Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas – vocals, guitar
Tamás “Tomi” Schrottner – guitar
Szabolcs “Szabi” Murvai – bass
Róbert Jaksa – drums

Guest musicians
Cris Machado – clean vocals on “Numb And Sick”

Album Review – Sepultura / The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart (2013)

Another good album from the most important Brazilian Metal band of all time.

Rating5

Sepultura_-_The_Mediator_Between_Head_and_Hands_Must_Be_the_Heart_artworkIf there’s one thing that can be considered a true innovation in the new Sepultura album is its name: The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart is by far their most complex and longest album name ever. Take a look at their discography (if you’ve never seen it) and you’ll notice all albums have very short and direct names, such as Arise, Roots, Against, Nation, Roorback and Kairos. However, despite its creative name, the album doesn’t really bring anything new to the world of heavy music. It’s a good album with some interesting moments, but nothing that can be considered “above and beyond”.

I enjoyed a lot the opening track, Trauma of War. In my opinion, it has an excellent intro and reminds me of some insane 80’s Thrash Metal! The Vatican, the second track of the album, also has a cool intro, strong lyrics and sounds like classic Death Metal in most of its 6 minutes. Then that’s when the problems start with The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart: all the other songs sound very similar to each other. Impending Doom is one of the closest tracks to what Sepultura has been doing in the past few years, but it becomes quite boring after 2 minutes. Manipulation of Tragedy has the same problem as the previous track, while Tsunami might remind me a little of the old “Chaos A.D./Roots” days but this doesn’t make the song remarkable. The next track,The Bliss of Ignorants, has very “Roots” intro and riffs and this could have evolved to something more interesting. And Grief starts with a very clean guitar that goes on for about 2 minutes, then it becomes Doom Metal-like and that’s it, nothing special.

sepulturaThe last three songs raise the bar a little: The Age of the Atheist (the first single of the album) has awesome drums and it’s a perfect representation of Sepultura post-Roots; Obsessed has the best Metal drummer in the world, Mr. Dave Lombardo, as a special guest, and of course he adds a lot of feeling to the song with his unique technique; and the last track of the album, called Da Lama ao Caos, is a superb version for a song from a non-Metal Brazilian group called Chico Science & Nação Zumbi (it’s way better than the original song, by the way).

Regarding the job done by each band member, Derrick keeps singing like a caveman inside a cave fighting with a saber tooth (or vice-versa). Although his voice will never be as good as Max Cavalera’s, it works well for what the band needs nowadays. Eloy Casagrande is improving his drumming technique year after year, becoming faster and more violent, Paulo does a consistent job on bass, and Andreas shows why he’s the best Brazilian guitar player of all time.

The cover art matches perfectly with the album name, and maybe this is the best thing in its entirety. I’m not saying it’s a bad album, not at all. It’s pretty straight forward Heavy Metal material and I do love all music from Sepultura. It’s just that I know those guys can do better than this.

Best moments of the album: Trauma of War, The Vatican and Da Lama ao Caos.

Worst moments of the album: Impending Doom, Manipulation of Tragedy and Grief.

Released in 2013 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Trauma of War 3:45
2. The Vatican 6:33
3. Impending Doom 4:15
4. Manipulation of Tragedy 4:16
5. Tsunami 5:10
6. The Bliss of Ignorants 4:51
7. Grief 5:34
8. The Age of the Atheist 4:19
9. Obsessed (feat. Dave Lombardo) 3:53
10. Da Lama ao Caos (Chico Science & Nação Zumbi cover) 4:28

Band members
Derrick Green − lead vocals
Andreas Kisser − guitars, vocals on “Da Lama ao Caos”
Paulo Jr. − bass guitar
Eloy Casagrande – drums

Album Review – Sepultura / Roots (1996)

“Sepultura do Brasil” changed the world of music with the most creative Thrash Metal album of all time.

Rating2

Sepultura_-_RootsThe year of 1996 was a very special year in my life: it was my last year in high school, I finally turned 18, I was dating the most beautiful girl of the entire school, and in terms of music I saw Maiden live for the first time as well as some other awesome bands such as Helloween, Manowar, The Ramones, and my countrymen from Sepultura. I used to love listening to Beneath the Remains, Arise and Chaos A.D., but they simply blew my mind with the most innovative Thrash Metal album of all time: Roots.

Every relevant Thrash Metal band in the world has at least one unique album that redefined that music genre somehow, like Bonded by Blood from Exodus or Reign in Blood from Slayer. In the case of Sepultura, it was Roots that made them reach the top of the charts and become a reference for all future Thrash Metal bands. There were so many new elements in this album that I could spend hours writing about each one of them, but I’ll focus on the most important one in my opinion, which was Max Cavalera’s voice. He brilliantly turned his voice into a musical instrument, reaching some insane notes and sounding more violent than ever, changing the way many other guttural singers used their voices from that year on. Check out at the end of this post the video for Roots Bloody Roots, Sepultura’s all-time classic, and you’ll be able to see how his voice fully integrates with the other instruments giving a special punch to the whole album.

Sepultura-RootsThe most famous songs from Roots are Roots Bloody Roots, of course, Attittude with its amazing riffs and lyrics, and my least favorite one Ratamahatta (the lyrics don’t make any sense at all, it’s just a bunch of stupid disconnected Brazilian words, with a guest musician that makes me want to vomit just by hearing his name). However, you must pay attention carefully to the rest of the album because there are so many good guitar riffs, lyrics and percussion that will make you listen to Roots non-stop for weeks. You’ll find heavy and violent tracks, such as Straighthate, Spit, Cut-Thorat and Dictatorshit; some songs that were unimaginable for a Thrash Metal band before that like Lookaway (with the crazy Mike Patton as a special guest) and Ambush; and some material that doesn’t even sound Metal, but are extremely important for the album concept: Jasco and Itsári, this one being recorded with an aboriginal tribe in Brazil called the Xavantes. All songs connected, all representing a sad and violent side of Brazil. And the front cover is just amazing, perfectly summarizing the whole album in one single image.

My version of the album (which was probably the one released only in Brazil) had two great covers for Celtic Frost’s Procreation of the Wicked and Sabbath’s Symptom of the Universe, this one also featuring in that good Sabbath tribute called Nativity in Black. If you don’t have these two songs in your version of Roots, you should go after them.

There are very few things that make me proud of being Brazilian, and Sepultura and Roots are part of this “selected” group. This album is so great that it has not only changed Thrash Metal, it has changes music in general. Sepultura do Brasil! Um, dois, três… VAI!

Best moments of the album: Roots Bloody Roots, Attitude, Straighthate and Born Stubborn.

Worst moments of the album: Ratamahatta and Endangered Species.

Released in 1996 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Roots Bloody Root 3:32
2. Attitude 4:15
3. Cut-Throat 2:44
4. Ratamahatta 4:30
5. Breed Apart 4:01
6. Straighthate 5:21
7. Spit 2:45
8. Lookaway 5:26
9. Dusted 4:03
10. Born Stubborn 4:07
11. Jasco (instrumental) 1:57
12. Itsári (instrumental) 4:48
13. Ambush 4:39
14. Endangered Species 5:19
15. Dictatorshit 1:26

Band members
Max Cavalera – vocals, rhythm guitar, 4-string guitar, berimbau
Igor Cavalera – drums, percussion, timbau, djembe
Paulo Jr. – bass guitar, timbau grandé
Andreas Kisser – lead guitar, sitar, backing vocals