Album Review – Black Reuss / Journey (2022)

Liechtenstein’s own one-man Gothic and Doom Metal band returns with the second part of his four-album concept, surrendering to inner preferences and being less and less controlled by material or negative things.

Formed in 2018 in Triesen, the third largest municipality of the Principality of Liechtenstein, Gothic/Doom Metal one-man army Black Reuss has just released the second part of his four-album concept, entitled Journey, the follow-up to his 2021 album Metamorphosis and a preparation for the upcoming albums Arrival and Death. The man behind Black Reuss, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Maurizio Dottores, is at home in doomy Heavy Metal with a touch of melancholy and a certain heaviness that has accompanied him in some chapters of his life, with Journey being about surrendering to inner preferences and being less and less controlled by material or negative things, being therefore highly recommended for admirers of the doomed music by Paradise Lost, Type O Negative, Katatonia and Black Sabbath, among others.

Eerie, futuristic sounds ignite the atmospheric Exodus, with Maurizio wasting no time by distilling his trademark fusion of Gothic Rock and Metal while firing sharp riffs from start to finish, and switching gears to a more sinister vibe thanks to his tribal beats and minimalist guitar lines we’re treated to Dejection, living up to the legacy of classic Doom Metal. Moreover, Maurizio’s deep vocals add a touch of anguish to the overall result, whereas experimenting with more unconventional sound and elements it’s time for the somber Egression, where Maurizio does a great job with both his riffs and bass lines; followed by the bold, atmospheric and pensive Hole, where its sonority will embrace you in the name of Gothic and Doom Metal and with Maurizio’s riffage and beats bringing forward sheer heaviness. Slowing things down a bit we have the Gothic Rock feast Fail, where once again Maurizio is on fire armed with his rumbling bass, adding endless groove to the music, while a beyond sinister and atmospheric start evolves into a Gothic Metal extravaganza in Deep-Seated, with Maurizio’s introspective, deep vocals and low-tuned bass lines beautifully darkening the skies, also presenting hints of Southern Rock and Metal for our total delight.

Drinking from the same obscure fountain as renowned acts the likes of Moonspell, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, Maurizio brings forth sheer doom in Regression, another first-class composition showcasing sluggish beats and riffs enfolded by an ethereal ambience, and it’s then time for a headbanging tune entitled Dependence, where Maurizio slashes his guitar in great fashion while his beats bring an extra kick to the song, being clearly inspired by the 80’s Gothic Rock scene (and a recommended addition to your road trip playlist, by the way). Integrity keeps the album at a high level of energy and doom, with Maurizio adding a phantasmagorical vibe to it with his keys while his guitar work sounds very melodic and sharp as usual; and the last two songs of the album are also the longest ones, starting with Affection, a slow, reverberating composition that exhales pure Doom Metal with his guitar solos being a thing of beauty, flowing into the pensive and grim Redemption, an atmospheric nine-minute aria where Maurizio declaims the song’s lyrics with tons of anguish while its instrumental pieces are simply spot-on, consequently putting a delicate but impactful ending to the album.

While we wait for the third and fourth chapters in the musical adventure crafted by Maurizio Dottores and his Black Reuss, we can definitely have a very good time enjoying Metamorphosis and of course Journey, which is by the way available in its entirety on Spotify, and you can also show your utmost support to this interesting one-man band from Liechtenstein by following him on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to his YouTube channel, and obviously by clicking HERE and purchasing your favorite version of Journey. What’s next for Black Reuss? How will Arrival and Death sound in comparison to Metamorphosis and Journey? The wait for those questions to be answered is one of the most compelling parts in the music by Maurizio Dottores, a man that’s definitely placing Liechtenstein in the map of heavy music with his unique creations.

Best moments of the album: Hole, Deep-Seated and Dependence.

Worst moments of the album: Egression.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Exodus 5:54
2. Dejection 6:41
3. Egression 4:40
4. Hole 4:20
5. Fail 4:51
6. Deep-Seated 6:02
7. Regression 6:17
8. Dependence 4:44
9. Integrity 4:46
10. Affection 8:39
11. Redemption 9:46

Band members
Maurizio Dottores – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Böllverk / Heading For The Crown (2022)

Get ready to bang your heads nonstop to the debut album by this Bavarian act, offering powerful Teutonic material forged in the gloriously timeless style of early Accept, Warlock and Running Wild.

Formed in 2018 in Aschaffenburg, a city in Bavaria, Germany, and after a few lineup changes, the talented Heavy Metal squad Böllverk has finally unleashed their debut effort, entitled Heading For The Crown, offering pithy, refreshing and powerful Teutonic material forged in the gloriously timeless style of early Accept, Warlock and Running Wild for the old school-addicted battlevest banger fraction. Currently comprised of Svenja on vocals, Zahn and Raphi on the guitars, Tim on bass and Angelo on drums, Böllverk are on absolute fire in Heading For The Crown, with the classic artwork by Bastian Kraus and the sharp recording, mixing and mastering by Rolf Munkes at Empire Studios giving an even stronger vibe to the entire album, inspiring us all to head into the battlefield together with the band in the name of our beloved old school Heavy Metal.

The incendiary guitars by Zahn and Raphi kick off the pure, unfiltered Heavy Metal tune Ask The Angel, Listen To The Devil, an awesome way to start the album with the galloping drums by Angelo walking hand in hand with the 80’s-inspired vocals by Svenja, and more of their fusion of the classic music played by Iron Maiden, Accept, Judas Priest and Warlock is offered to us all in Let’s Ride Till Dawn, with the band’s guitar duo dictating the rhythm with their spot-on riffs and solos. Good Morning Rock’n’Roll is one of those “breakfast songs” highly recommended for all metalheads worldwide, bringing forward a beautiful hybrid of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock where Svenja’s piercing vocals are complemented by the raspy, Motörhead-infused roars by Zahn; whereas the title-track Heading For The Crown is an in-your-face, straightforward metal extravaganza led by the crushing drums by Angelo, supported by the rumbling bass by Tim.

Zahn’s evil roars boost the high-pitched screams by Svenja in The 7th No (IS A KO), another Hard Rock feast where the sound of the guitars will slash your ears mercilessly, and it’s time to bang our heads nonstop together with Böllverk in Master Of Thunder, another sharp, no shenanigans creation by the quintet showcasing a heavy and melodic kitchen by Tim and Angelo. Then venturing through the realms of Southern and Stoner Metal the band offers us all Live Fast, with Zahn taking the lead on vocals. It’s a good song, but it lacks the epicness of the rest of the album, though. Zahn keeps screaming in Next Level Of Service while Svenja fires her trademark Doro-inspired vocals lines, all spiced up by another round of their flammable riffs and thunderous bass lines, and last but not least, we’re treated to more of their rumbling Heavy Metal in the form of Someday We Will Die, clearly inspired by the classics from the NWOBHM and, therefore, ending the album on a thrilling note.

You can get to know more about Böllverk by following those Teutonic metallers on Facebook and on Instagram, staying up to date with all of their news, tour dates, plans for the future and so on, and you can also send them your feedback about their music as I’m sure the entire band would love to hear from you. In addition, in order to show your support and appreciation for ass-kicking underground German metal you should definitely purchase a copy of Heading For The Crown from the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as stream the album in its entirety on Spotify. Böllverk didn’t need to reinvent the wheel with Heading For The Crown to sound awesome, showing how powerful Heavy Metal still is and, of course, not only pointing to a bright future ahead of the band, but also providing us metalheads with one more excellent reason for keep banging our heads until the very end.

Best moments of the album: Ask The Angel, Listen To The Devil, Good Morning Rock’n’Roll and Someday We Will Die.

Worst moments of the album: Live Fast.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Ask The Angel, Listen To The Devil 6:05
2. Let’s Ride Till Dawn 3:27
3. Good Morning Rock’n’Roll 4:25
4. Heading For The Crown 4:49
5. The 7th No (IS A KO) 4:37
6. Master Of Thunder 6:26
7. Live Fast 4:20
8. Next Level Of Service 3:56
9. Someday We Will Die 5:50

Band members
Svenja – vocals
Zahn – guitars, vocals
Raphi – guitars
Tim – bass
Angelo – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Lilita Arndt

lilita01

Eternal darkness is covering my eyes and penetrating me…

Dark skies are over us all once again here on The Headbanging Moose thanks to the raw and visceral Black Metal crafted by a multi-talented woman who will undoubtedly blacken our hearts even more. Hailing from Rivne, a historic city in western Ukraine located over 300 kilometers to the west of the country’s capital Kiev, she’s not only an amazing Extreme Metal vocalist, but she also plays all instruments including lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, bass and drums for her stunning one-woman Occult and Depressive Black Metal project entitled Ieschure. Her poetic name, Lilita Arndt, adds an extra touch of beauty to her unique creations, and you’ll be more than pleased with her music, her view of Black Metal and how she incorporates all her influences into each one of her songs.

Lilita’s interest in writing and playing music began at a very early stage of her childhood, when she started to write lyrics and later tried to create simple melodies for them on her acoustic guitar, which by the way was her very first instrument, then learning how to play keyboards (followed by all other instruments she currently knows), all self-taught and never having any sort of formal or structured music lessons with anyone. After taking part in different projects as a singer, including an old acoustic project called Embrace of Hedera from 2007 until 2015 which played melancholic, dark and romantic music with acoustic guitars and clean female vocals (and with whom she recorded the album The Castle On The Rolling Hills in 2015), Lilita wanted to explore new territories by creating her own music with her own melodies, lyrics, singing and atmosphere, being the mastermind of her own project and experimenting with melodies and vocals, the main reason why she decided to found her own solo project Ieschure back in 2015.

A word chosen by Lilita after the whole album The Shadow was finished in 2017, Ieschure has the project’s name related to occult things and the meaning of this word is really important for her, although our multi-talented musician prefers it to be known only by herself. Dealing with classic Black Metal lyrical themes such as occultism, witchcraft and death, and using a serpent as her symbol (more specifically as a primitive symbol of power and wisdom but at the same time representing death and damnation), this one-woman Black Metal force has already released an array of bold, captivating albums since the project’s inception in 2015, those being the aforementioned full-length opus The Shadow, in 2017, the EP’s Cold Stars of Eternity and Phantoms of God, in 2020, and more recently the split album Witch’s Consecration, now in 2021, with Brazilian Black Metal horde Promethean Gate. If you want to have a very good taste of how breathtaking the music by Ieschure is, you can enjoy some awesome songs online such as Eternal Agony, Mystic Schizophrenia and Phantoms Of God, or simply go to BandCamp, to Big Cartel and to Spotify (or click HERE) to stream and purchase all of her wicked creations.

Not only the woman responsible for all vocals and instruments in all of Ieschure releases, Lilita also handles all recording, mixing, mastering, lyrics and layout of the albums, which is absolutely in line with her initial dream of having a project of her own. In addition, Lilita has also collaborated in several albums from other bands, with the most memorable for her to date being singing with the bands Detention and Restless. For instance, she recorded vocals for the songs Nidhogg (from the album Lost Souls in a Godless World) and Wolf’s Head (from the album The Battle of Tara) by American Doom/Stoner/Southern Metal band Black Mountain Thunder, both in 2015; vocals for the song The Face of God, from the 2015 self-titled album by American Stoner/Doom Metal band Clawhammer; vocals on the 2014 album Marginal, by Kazakh Depressive Metal band Detention; vocals on the song Rurel, from the 2018 self-titled EP by Italian Black/Folk Metal band Dovrefjell; backing vocals on the songs Spiritueller Selbstmord, from the 2014 album Verwüstung, and Wenn Die Sterne Nicht Mehr Scheinen, from the 2014 EP Horizont, by Ukrainian Black Metal/Ambient band Moloch; vocals on the 2017 album Funeral Impressions, by Italian Funeral Doom Metal band Restless; and vocals on the song Bride of Winter, from the 2016 album Forgotten Tales, by Italian Black Metal band Waldweg; not to mention the cover art for the 2019 EP The Wanderer, by Tuskish Atmospheric Black Metal band Akrunant.

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Regarding her first experiences with Heavy and Black Metal, Lilita mentioned in one of her interviews that she began listening to popular metal bands when she was a teenager, becoming more and more interested in the underground and, consequently, getting attracted to the world of Black Metal. In her opinion, Black Metal is not just a music style, but a dark side of art, an irrational fusion of music, theatre and philosophy, full of paradoxes and concentrating the strongest emotions, hatred and some perverted love to life, which is the main reason why she considers it perfect. She complemented by saying that she has felt the presence of hidden forces in the world since she was a little child, gradually getting more interested in those and in occultism, also saying that realizing that she will die some day was what truly attracted her to that. Apart from drawing inspiration from the works of renowned occultists the likes of Aleister Crowley, Eliphas Levi, Stanislas de Guaita and George Gurdjieff, she also enjoys reading and studying about her work as a designer, all forms of art, mythology, psychology, history, travelling and everything that can give her new knowledge about the world. And in terms of what inspires the music by Ieschure the most, she mentioned Black Metal behemoths such as early Urfaust, Behexen, Rotting Christ, My Dying Bride, Opeth and, above all, Burzum, as his music embodies the ideas of misanthropy and loneliness in the best way imaginable according to our sinister diva.

When asked about her vocal style and technique, Lilita said that her screaming vocals were influenced by classic Black Metal bands, whereas for clean vocals she gets her inspiration from non-Black Metal music, as for example Julie Christmas, her favorite female singer of bands like Battle Of Mice and Made Out of Babies, and Free Dominguez, of Kidneythieves. In addition, regarding her songwriting process, Lilita said the first thing she does is many improvisations on the guitar at her home studio, recording various ideas, listening to them again at a later stage, and if she finds any of those ideas interesting enough she rerecords them to include all other instruments. Also, she complemented by saying most of her time in that process is taken by the lyrics writing process, as she can rewrite those many times and do various vocal improvisations to find the best version, finally rerecording everything.

As a true admirer of the underground, in special the first wave of Black Metal bands, their sound and atmosphere, as well as old Doom Metal, Lilita also said that although she doesn’t listen to a lot of bands from the Black Metal scene in her homeland Ukraine she knows there are several bands and projects in the country who create true underground music, always prioritizing the music instead of fame or money. However, she said she cannot compare herself to any of those bands, as she tries to go her own way with her own opinion about music. In addition, she also mentioned in one of her interviews that she doesn’t usually attend concerts, as for her personally the best way to listen to music is to listen to it in her headphones.

Lastly, when questioned if one day Ieschure will become a full-bodied group with other members joining her, Lilita said that, although she’s always open to change, she doesn’t think that’s a possibility for now. Furthermore, she mentioned that if one day she finds that a good alternative for embodying her ideas she will definitely try working with other musicians, as long as of course they’re sincerely interested in music and follow similar or the same ideas as hers. In the end, it doesn’t matter if she continues to create music as a lone she-wolf or if she finds the perfect lineup for Ieschure, our beloved metal witch will keep experimenting with melodies and vocal styles while always keeping an evil Black Metal atmosphere in the background, playing raw and devilish sounds for our total delectation in the name of darkness, death and the occult.

Ieschure’s Official Facebook page
Ieschure’s Official Instagram
Ieschure’s Official Twitter
Ieschure’s Official YouTube channel

“For me black metal is really a dark side of Art. It’s not just a music style. Mixture of music, theatre and philosophy, more irrational than other music styles, full of paradoxes, concentrating the strongest emotions, hatred and some perverted love to life. That is why it is perfect.” – Lilita Arndt

Album Review – Gasoline Guns / Motor Cult (2021)

Time to join this Ukrainian cult of gasoline, guns, rum, whiskey, bourbon and badass Rock N’ Roll.

3.5rating

gasoline-guns-motor-cult-2021Bringing to our avid ears another round of their high-octane fusion of Heavy Metal, Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock spiced up by ass-kicking harsh vocals, a combination the band itself likes to call “Metal N’ Roll”, the flammable Motor Cult, the brand new opus by Chernihiv, Ukraine-based metal drunkards Gasoline Guns, is a fun and vibrant collection of nine songs about a post-apocalypse and explosive world, blazing whiskey, fate, dusty roads and, of course, our good old, infernal Rock N’ Roll. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Higain Records and displaying a gasoline and coal-fueled artwork by Ian Guy the Motoring Artist, Motor Cult continues to pave the rockin’ path created by vocalist Dmytro “Talladega”, guitarists Danylo Sobolev and Volodymyr Zvol, bassist Andrew Moyseenko and drummer Volodymyr back in 2013, not only being the perfect follow-up to their 2015 demo and their 2016 full-length album Rust’n’Dust, but also a must-have for admirers of the fusion of burning fuel and badass riffs by bands such as Chrome Division and Motörhead.

Rev up your engines and join Gasoline Guns’ rockin’ feast in the alcohol-infused opening track Bourbon Burns, where Dmytro fires his trademark raspy vocals while Volodymyr crushes his drums in the best Motörhead style, whereas in Under Wicked Sky the raw and dirty lyrics barked by Dmytro (“There is no going back / And hope is a mistake / One more race, one more chase / One more lovely day / Riding road of fury / Riding road of pain / You live, you die / But you will live again”) bring even more thunder to the visceral riffs and solos blasted by Danylo and Volodymyr Zvol, resulting in a fast-paced ode to pure, unfiltered Rock N’ Roll. Their acid hybrid of Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll strikes again in the form of Hell Thunder, where the Lemmy-inspired bass by Andrew will make your head tremble mercilessly; and reminding us of the early days of Chrome Division, those Ukrainian rockers deliver a frantic tune entitled Gasoline and Guns, inviting us all to scream and shout the song’s catchy chorus together with them while Volodymyr dictates the pace with his pounding beats, not to mention Danylo’s sick guitar solo.

It’s not a true Rock N’ Roll album without a song with a Spanish name inspired by Mexican gunslingers, and that’s exactly what Gasoline Guns offer us all with tons of alcohol, bullets flying everywhere and the breathtaking sound of their guitars in El Pistolero, and the skies will get darker and the air heavier in the Stoner, Southern and Sludge Metal tune This Road Is a Snake, where Dmytro continues to tell tales of the life on the road with his inebriate vocals. Those five Ukrainian rockers keep hammering our heads with their vicious sounds in Nothing to Prove, where the riffage by Danylo and Volodymyr Zvol will penetrate deep inside your skin and invite you for a bloody pub brawl, and the band’s guitar duo, together with Andrew, will put you to bang your head like a metal maniac in the awesome Wheels of Rust, a classic Rock N’ Roll extravaganza with no shenanigans that will please all fans of the genre. Finally, we’re treated to And That’s Why We Drink, urging us metalheads to grab our glasses and bottles and join Gasoline Guns in their metallic tribute to all things alcohol, led by the always heavy and unfriendly voice of Mr. Dmytro “Talladega”.

gasoline-guns-2021After all is said and done, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and hit the road together with Gasoline Guns to the sound of Motor Cult, and in order to do so you can stream their awesome new album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and above all that, purchase Motor Cult from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, showing all your support to the underground. In the end, who doesn’t want to join a Ukrainian cult of gasoline, guns, rum, whiskey, bourbon and badass Rock N’ Roll, right? That’s all we need to find our inner strength to endure this dangerous highway we all like to call life.

Best moments of the album: Under Wicked Sky, Gasoline and Guns and Wheels of Rust.

Worst moments of the album: None, you bastards!

Released in 2021 Mythrone Promotion / Defense Records

Track listing   
1. Bourbon Burns 3:02
2. Under Wicked Sky 2:32
3. Hell Thunder 3:08
4. Gasoline and Guns 4:08
5. El Pistolero 3:54
6. This Road Is a Snake 5:07
7. Nothing to Prove 3:58
8. Wheels of Rust 4:25
9. And That’s Why We Drink 4:42

Band members
Dmytro “Talladega” – vocals
Danylo Sobolev – lead guitars
Volodymyr Zvol – rhythm guitars
Andrew Moyseenko – bass
Volodymyr – drums

Album Review – KLEE Project / Screaming Out Loud (2021)

This talented Italian act is ready to rock and scream out loud once again with their brand new album of old school Southern and Hard Rock.

3.5rating

klee-project-screaming-out-loud-2021Almost three years after the release of their debut album The Long Way, Rome, Italy-based Southern/Hard Rock act Klee Project is finally ready to rock you like a hurricane once again with their brand new album Screaming Out Loud, showcasing all the passion for our beloved rock music by vocalist and guitarist Roberto Sterpetti, guitarist Chicco Gussoni, bassist Lorenzo Poli and drummer Daniele Iacono. Recorded and mixed at Memphistudio in Rome by Frank Altare and Roberto Sterpetti, mastered at Elephant Mastering by Riccardo Parenti, and featuring lyrics by Jessie Galante and a stylish artwork by Antonella Regi, Screaming Out Loud is a lesson in 80’s Hard Rock that will certainly please all fans of the genre. “Screaming Out Loud was composed in a difficult period and we want to remember it as a sign of confidence, a strong reaction in the face of critical moods. The new album is this, a sense of optimism and hope for the future,” commented frontman Roberto Sterpetti.

The guitars by Roberto and Chicco set fire to the music in Another Man, accompanied by the classic Hard Rock beats by Daniele and the rumbling bass by Lorenzo, also presenting hints of Southern Rock and Metal in their core sonority; and continuing their rockin’ path the quartet offers the electrifying Heaven, living up to the legacy of Italian Rock N’ Roll. Moreover, it’s impressive how their guitars sound so dirty and melodious at the same time, not to mention the old school vocals by Roberto, whereas investing in a stronger Southern Rock vibe, it’s time for the headbanging feast titled Wicked Soul, where the band blends 80’s Hard Rock with the modernity of Godsmack, and the final result couldn’t have been better, led by the slashing riffage by Roberto and Chicco. And One Time is another old school, straight-to-the-point creation by KLEE Project where Lorenzo and Daniele provide Roberto a solid base for his raspy vocals, keeping the energy level of the album as high as an eagle flying in the sky.

Razor-edged riffs are the main ingredients in the Rock N’ Roll party Back on in Love Again, with Daniele kicking some serious ass with his pounding drums while Roberto declaims the song’s 80’s Glam Metal-inspired lyrics (“Here we go / Here we go again / Our love keeps sitting on the fence / You’re playing me / Over and over / Want you to move in a little closer”). It’s then time for a classic Hard Rock ballad by those Italian rockers titled One Word, presenting a decent instrumental spiced up by a soulful guitar solo by Chicco, albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album, while back to a more intense musicality the quartet fires the somber and harmonious Right Now, with the band’s stringed trio being in absolute sync from start to finish while Daniele dictates the song’s catchy pace with his classy beats. The title-track Screaming Out Loud is a classic Hard Rock extravaganza where Roberto leads his crew with his vibrant vocals in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll, with Chicco once again stealing the spotlight with another in-your-face guitar solo, and lastly we have You’re My Champion, an atmospheric ballad where Roberto fires some inspirational words supported by the enfolding sound crafted by his bandmates, putting a beautiful ending to the album.

klee-project-2021You can easily find more information about KLEE Project, their music, tour dates, plans for the future and other shenanigans on Facebook and on Instagram, and don’t forget to also subscribe to their official YouTube channel and, above all that, to purchase Screaming Out Loud from Apple Music or from Amazon, and to stream the full album as many times as you want on Spotify. The Italian rockers from KLEE Project are waiting for you to join them for a kick-ass Rock N’ Roll party to the sound of their new album, and I bet as soon as you hit play you’ll be banging your head, screaming out loud and rockin’ like there’s no tomorrow together with the band and your loved ones, just the way things are supposed to be in our lives filled with rock and metal music.

Best moments of the album: Wicked Soul, Back on in Love Again and Screaming Out Loud.

Worst moments of the album: One Word.

Released in 2021 This Is Core

Track listing
1. Another Man 2:44
2. Heaven 3:07
3. Wicked Soul 3:02
4. One Time 3:18
5. Back on in Love Again 3:03
6. One Word 4:07
7. Right Now 3:08
8. Screaming Out Loud 3:15
9. You’re My Champion 4:07

Band members
Roberto Sterpetti – vocals, guitars
Chicco Gussoni – lead guitars
Lorenzo Poli – bass
Daniele Iacono – drums

Guest musician
Corrado Pirri – additional guitars

Album Review – Ecclesia / De Ecclesiæ Universalis (2020)

Showcasing the perfect syncretism between Heavy and Doom Metal, this army of French inquisitors stands strong on their crusade against every doom heretic with their incendiary debut album.

Playing what they like to call epic and dark Doom Metal-influenced Heavy Metal since their formation as a trio in 2016, the now fully-formed army of French inquisitors known as Ecclesia (the Latin word for “church”) unleashed upon us sinners this Friday the 13th their debut full-length musical mass De Ecclesiæ Universalis, which is Latin for “the universal church”, following up on their highly acclaimed 2017 demo Witchfinding Metal of Doom. Armed with purifying fire, blessed swords and Holy Rage, the band currently comprised of Frater Arnhwald on vocals, Julius Accusator and The Witchfinder General on the guitars, Frater Ignis Sacer on bass, Pater Hexenhammer on drums and Pater Walkelinus on organ and keyboards deals with the 12th Century dark medieval age of Holy Inquisition in their lyrics, showcasing the perfect syncretism between Heavy and Doom Metal in their music and, therefore, being highly recommended for admirers of the music by Candlemass, Cathedral and Solitude Aeternus, among other giants of the 80’s heavy and doom scene, standing strong on their crusade against every doom heretic and urging us all to confess our unholy sins.

Gregorian chants and the always tenebrous sound of the rain ignite the album in the bold intro Excommunicamus, before the strident riffage by Julius and The Witchfinder General dictate the rhythm in the hybrid of classic Heavy and Doom Metal titled Vatican III, a superb song to start the album where the rockin’ vocals by Arnhwald truly enhance the song’s impact and blasphemous feel, whereas their Black Sabbath vein beautifully explodes in Ecclesia Sathani, with Walkelinus’ phantasmagorical pipes bringing a touch of evil to the overall result, blending the glory of the 70’s and 80’s with their modern-day Doom Metal. Then get ready to crack your neck headbanging in the name of the unholy church of doom ruled by Ecclesia in Montségur, where Hexenhammer and Walkelinus are in absolute sync with their respective beats and keys while Arnhwald continues to fire his ass-kicking, King Diamond-inspired vocal lines. And never tired of hammering their sonic weapons, Ecclesia deliver another amazing tune entitled Behold the Heretic Burning, feeling like it was taken from one of Dio’s classic albums (which obviously means excellency), while Ignis Sacer makes sure the earth shakes to the sound of his menacing bass.

After such amazing first half of the album, how about seven minutes of a fusion of classic Doom Metal with Stoner and Southern Metal, spiced up by epic keys and soaring vocals? That’s what you’ll get in the Stygian hymn Antichristus. Needless to say, the band’s guitar duo will pierce your skin deep with their venomous riffs, ending the song in the most visceral way possible, and you better prepare your ears for another round of slashing riffs in Deus Vult, where the church-like organ pipes by Walkelinus will captivate your mind, opening it up for the slamming Rock N’ Roll crafted by his band members while sounding as harmonious and thrilling as it can be. It’s time to go full doom in the cryptic God’s Trial, with the sluggish beats by Hexenhammer walking hand in hand with the riffage by Julius and The Witchfinder General, being tailored for admirers of the most primeval form of Doom Metal (albeit not as powerful as the rest of the album). Before all is said and done, we’re treated to their cover version for Venom’s classic Burn The Witches (actually, the original song is titled “Don’t Burn The Witch”), from their 1982 cult album Black Metal, and you check the original version HERE, with Ecclesia’s version being absolutely awesome from start to finish, morphing into the stunning church-inspired outro Ite Missa Est to put a proper ending to their metal mass.

In case you’re considering joining a church for any given reason, I suggest you go check the services provided at the temple of doom ruled by Ecclesia on their Facebook page, and purchase your copy of the sensational De Ecclesiæ Universalis from their own BandCamp page, from the Aural Music webstore, from Season of Mist, from jpc.de, from Best Buy or from Amazon, proving to those French metallers you’re not a doom heretic and that you’re worth their mercy. Put differently, why not confessing your darkest and most impure sins to the sound of the ass-kicking metal music blasted by Ecclesia in their flammable newborn spawn? I’m sure both God and the Devil will love to witness you succumbing to their visceral, damned creations.

Best moments of the album: Vatican III, Montségur, Antichristus and Deus Vult.

Worst moments of the album: God’s Trial.

Released in 2020 Aural Music

Track listing
1. Excommunicamus 1:07
2. Vatican III 4:44
3. Ecclesia Sathani 5:26
4. Montségur 6:03
5. Behold the Heretic Burning 4:57
6. Antichristus 7:11
7. Deus Vult 5:33
8. God’s Trial 6:32
9. Burn The Witches (Venom cover) 3:25
10. Ite Missa Est 1:39

Band members
Frater Arnhwald – vocals
Julius Accusator – lead guitar
The Witchfinder General – rhythm guitar
Frater Ignis Sacer – bass
Pater Hexenhammer – drums
Pater Walkelinus – organ, keyboards

Album Review – Hvalross / Cold Dark Rain (2020)

Rocking since they were teenagers in punk, metal, prog and rock bands, this fantastic Dutch four-piece act is ready to kick some ass armed with their electrifying debut opus.

Rocking since they were teenagers in punk, metal, prog and rock bands, Roosendaal, Netherlands-based Hard Rock/Stoner Metal act Hvalross, which is by the way the Norwegian word for “walrus” (and don’t ask me why they opted for such distinct name for their band), was born in 2018 after lead singer Gerben van Oosterhout, guitarist Barry Veeke, bassist Maarten Vermeulen and drummer Tristan de Rijk decided to end their three-year musical break to make great hard rocking music together. Heavily influenced by bands such as Mastodon, Judas Priest, Gojira, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, but of course with their own Dutch twist, Hvalross have just unleashed upon humanity their debut album, entitled Cold Dark Rain, offering fans of Doom, Stoner and Southern Metal a very good reason for raising their horns and bang their heads to the sound of nine original, heavy-as-hell and groovy compositions in the span of 35 intense minutes.

And it’s time for the quartet to kill in the opening tune Death From Above, a headbanging extravaganza led by the classic riffage by Barry and the pounding beats by Tristan, or in other words, a fusion of old school Hard Rock the likes of AC/DC with heavier and groovier styles that will please all fans of our good old Rock N’ Roll. In Trenchfeet the band sounds clearly inspired by 80’s Heavy Metal infused with Stoner and Doom Metal elements, with Gerben sounding truly epic on vocals supported by the spot-on backing vocals by Maarten. There are no shenanigans nor any artificial elements, it’s straightforward rock music made in the Netherlands for our total delight, and they keep venturing through the realms of Southern Rock and Metal in Finally Repent, where Barry and Maarten make a dynamic stringed duo while Gerben keeps singing with tons of passion. Then I Shot My Best Friend presents a curious name for a high-octane feast of metallic riffs, low-tuned bass jabs and frantic beats, sounding and feeling like an European version of Mastodon with Barry going full progressive on the guitar, while Tristan doesn’t let the level of energy go down not even for a single second.

There’s more of their solid and electrifying rock music in Oblivion, bringing to our ears another round of Gerben’s classic Hard Rock vocal lines accompanied by the groovy bass by Maarten, therefore keeping the album as vibrant as it can be; followed by The Owl, a more melodious and psychedelic tune by Hvalross that will take you on a journey through the 70’s and 80’s to the sound of their strident riffage, rumbling bass and classic beats, with Tristan once again stealing the spotlight with his refined technique. As I Am is a truly neck-breaking Stoner Rock and Metal exhibit by the quartet, blending the groove by Mastodon with the obscurity of Black Sabbath and sounding very detailed from start to finish, with Gerben kicking ass yet again on vocals, whereas the quartet puts the pedal to the metal in the thrilling Playing The Big Game, presenting nonstop sonic action by all band members with Gerben’s vocals being boosted by the incendiary riffs by Barry and the crushing drums by Tristan. Lastly, a more sinister side of the band is showcased in the closing tune Geryon, which despite being another solid and detailed composition it’s not as electrifying as the rest of the album. Maarten’s thunderous bass will punch in the head mercilessly, though, enhancing the song’s impact considerably.

After all is said and done, we must all admit Gerben, Barry, Marteen and Tristan were absolutely precise throughout the entire album, available for a full listen on Spotify, blending elements from all of their rock and metal heroes while at the same time crafting something unique that sounds like Hvalross and nothing else. Hence, as we all love when a band is capable of uniting their passion for heavy music with endless creativity and feeling like the guys from Hvalross did in Cold Dark Rain, let’s show our true support to them by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and obviously by purchasing their newborn opus from their own BandCamp page. And may the walruses of Hard Rock and Stoner Metal keep hammering our heads with their amazing music with countless more albums through the years.

Best moments of the album: Death From Above, I Shot My Best Friend and Playing The Big Game.

Worst moments of the album: Geryon.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Death From Above 3:52
2. Trenchfeet 4:00
3. Finally Repent 3:28
4. I Shot My Best Friend 2:58
5. Oblivion 3:48
6. The Owl 4:02
7. As I Am 3:31
8. Playing The Big Game 3:45
9. Geryon 5:56

Band members
Gerben van Oosterhout – vocals
Barry Veeke – guitars
Maarten Vermeulen – bass, backing vocals
Tristan de Rijk – drums

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: The Sentient.

Released in 2020 Independent

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

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

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

Album Review – Guardian Of Lightning / Cosmos Tree (2020)

Behold the mighty sound of the ultra-heavy electric bass by a Brazilian power trio who praises the gods of thunder and metal in their excellent debut opus.

Known as the the herald of a new wave of metal music, curiously labeled as “Thunder Metal”, Guardian Of Lightning are a three-piece band based in São Paulo, Brazil featuring lead bassist Iron King, his father Marco Fino on vocals and rhythm guitar, and Lord Drum on drums, with their unique sound being a fresh take on the metal genre, replacing the typical lead guitar role with that of an ultra-heavy thundering electric bass. Lead bassist Iron King (yes, that is his real name) grew up surrounded by music, inspiring him to follow in the footsteps of bass legends such as Cliff Burton, Joey DeMaio and Lemmy Kilmister and, therefore, leading him to form Guardian Of Lightning back in 2017. Produced by Eurico Tavares at Stage Record Power Audio Studio, the band’s debut opus Cosmos Tree makes it clear from the very first second that the electric bass is front and center throughout the entire album, but each individual song will also bring to you a wide variety of sounds, an undeniable sync and dynamism between the band members, and of course, the magic of our beloved Heavy Metal.

The album’s atmospheric Intro will certainly invite you to the heavy world of Guardian Of Lightning, setting the tone for the epic title-track Cosmos Tree, which reminds me of the mighty sound blasted by Grand Magus infused with the rockin’ elements from the music by Motörhead, with Lord Drum dictating the rhythm with his pounding beats while Iron King shreds his bass in great fashion.  In the superb Raise Your Sword, the Mark Tornillo-like vocals by Marco walk hand in hand with the thrilling Power Metal beats and bass punches fired by Lord Drum and Iron King, respectively, also bringing hints of 70’s Progressive Rock and Metal through their intricate and thunderous bass sounds, followed by the also epic Sound of Thunder, exactly what Iron King delivers from his rumbling bass, showcasing an accelerated pace and classic riffs and lyrics, therefore resulting in an ode to all things rock and metal tailored for fans of the music by Manowar and other bands that love to add endless epicness to their creations. And once again inviting us all to bang our heads in the name of metal, the trio masterfully smashes their instruments in Aligned With the Stars, where the riffage by Marco provides an amazing support to Iron King’s metallic bass.

Then adding elements from Blues to their core sonority, the trio brings forward the beautiful Follow Your Silver Shine, where Iron King is once again majestic with his visceral and electrifying bass jabs and solos, while his father Marco showcases a fun and vibrant vocal performance from start to finish, whereas Inside of Us presents another solid fusion of Stoner, Sludge and Southern Metal with more epic styles such as classic Heavy and Power Metal, not to mention that what Iron King does with his bass is truly impressive, making our heads tremble with awe. Lord Drum begins hitting his drums harder than usual in the also rockin’ Another Place, where it’s a pleasure to witness the sonic synchronicity of father and son crushing their strings with power and dexterity, and they keep jamming with passion until the very end. Lastly, slowing things down a bit the band offers the more serene and classic Be Like the Moon, where Iron King once again showcases all his skills armed with his bass, and albeit this song is not as creative or inspiring as its predecessors, it still provides the listener a very good reason for having a cold beer and headbanging nonstop.

After taking a few detailed listens at Cosmos Tree, you’ll see it’s easy to understand what Guardian Of Lightning mean with the expression “Thunder Metal”, because that’s exactly what you’ll get throughout the album’s over 30 minutes of music, pure and mighty thunder in the form of our good old Heavy Metal, consequently paving an interesting path ahead of Iron King and his loyal henchmen for the coming years. Hence, don’t forget to follow such promising band on Facebook and on Instagram, to listen to more of their music on Spotify, and above all, to purchase your desired version of Cosmos Tree by clicking HERE, proving to the gods of thunder and metal you deserve a place right by their side in Valhalla.

Best moments of the album: Raise Your Sword, Sound of Thunder and Follow Your Silver Shine.

Worst moments of the album: Be Like the Moon.

Released in 2020 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:09
2. Cosmos Tree 5:00
3. Raise Your Sword 3:41
4. Sound of Thunder 4:17
5. Aligned With the Stars 3:29
6. Follow Your Silver Shine 3:58
7. Inside of Us 3:15
8. Another Place 4:55
9. Be Like the Moon 3:29

Band members
Marco Fino – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Iron King – lead bass guitar
Lord Drum – drums

Album Review – Hearts & Hand Grenades / Adrenaline EP (2020)

Bang your heads nonstop to this fresh breath of Hard Rock that is not just built around the youth of today, but for all generations of true rock addicts.

In striving to create a true rock revival, and up-and-coming female-fronted Hard Rock unity that goes by the name of Hearts & Hand Grenades was formed in the beginning of 2019 in Buffalo, the second largest city in the state of New York, in the United States, focusing on creating a fresh breath of Hard Rock that is not just built around the youth of today, but for all generations of true rock addicts. After the release of their 2019 EP’s Wait and Nothing Left, it’s time for lead singer and bassist Stephanie Wlosinski, guitarists Kenny Blesy and Mike Bress, and drummer Tom Lafferty to showcase all their passion for rock music and dexterity with a new EP entitled Adrenaline, drawing influences from the likes of Metallica, AC/DC, Flyleaf and Halestorm, among many others. “We have been working very hard to bring our collective efforts to create a true hard rock sound with some meaningful lyrics. There is an undertone of frustration, desire, hope, and self- examining on these tracks. The agenda is to have something that anyone can relate to, no matter what walk of life you come from,” stated the band, aiming at filling the hole where true rock used to live with their new EP.

And our hearts begin beating to the rhythm of their classy Hard Rock in the title-track Adrenaline, where Stephanie and Tom will make the earth shake with their respective bass and drums while the band’s guitar duo extracts sheer electricity from their stringed axes, all spiced up by Stephanie’s thrilling vocals. Put differently, simply bang your head nonstop together with those talented rockers, just the way we love it in first-class Rock N’ Roll. Kenny and Mike keep hammering their guitars in great fashion in For the Weakened, bringing elements of Southern Rock and hints of Doom Metal to their already crushing musicality while Stephanie ventures through more aggressive lands with her piercing vocal lines. Then drinking from the more metallic fountain of NWOBHM, but still loyal to their Hard Rock foundations, Stephanie and the boys kick some serious ass once again with Daggers, a born-to-be-a-hit extravaganza where Kenny and Mike are on fire with their riffs, and there’s no sign of the band slowing down as they keep putting the pedal to the metal in the also headbanging Turning to Ashes, with its thrilling rhythm being dictated by Tom’s old school beats while the rest of the band fills out every single space in the air with the magic of Rock N’ Roll.

If you want to increase the amount of adrenaline in your life you can listen to such fun and vibrant EP in its entirety on YouTube, on Spotify and on Pandora, and of course purchase it directly from the band’s own webstore, as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow Stephanie and the boys on Facebook and on Instragram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to let their electrifying rock music penetrate deep inside your minds and your hearts each and every day where our good old Rock N’ Roll is required to lighten up our humor and make our lives a little better. After three awesome EP’s in just one year, Hearts & Hand Grenades are more than ready to focus their energy and passion for rock music in the creation of their first full-length opus, and as long as they keep loyal to their foundations, which means as long as they keep delivering more of the vibrant and fresh music found in Adrenaline, we can rest assured classic Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll will never die.

Best moments of the album: Adrenaline and Daggers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Adrenaline 5:29
2. For the Weakened 4:05
3. Daggers 3:31
4. Turning to Ashes 4:17

Band members
Stephanie Wlosinski – vocals, bass
Kenny Blesy – lead guitars
Mike Bress – guitars, keyboards
Tom Lafferty – drums