Album Review – Heterogeneous Andead / Chaotic Fragments (2022)

A chaotic amalgamation of metal and non-metal styles beautifully brought into being by one of the most creative bands of the current Japanese scene.

Formed in 2013 in the metropolitan city of Tokyo, Japan, the idiosyncratic Symphonic Death/Thrash Metal unity that goes by the curious name of Heterogeneous Andead has just released their sophomore album, entitled Chaotic Fragments, the follow up to their 2018 debut album Deus Ex Machina. Comprised of Haruka Morikawa on vocals and Yusuke Kiyama on the guitars, synthesizers and programming (not to mention drummer Tomoyuki Nakano, who left the band shortly after the recordings of Chaotic Fragments), Heterogeneous Andead play a very unique style of heavy music that can be labeled as “Melodic and Symphonic Electro Death/Thrash Metal”, and it’s quite easy to identify all those elements in their new album, sounding very harmonious but at the same time chaotic, progressive but at the same time violent, and delicate but at the same time energetic.

The band begins a Speed and Thrash Metal-inspired attack entitled The Void Sacrifice, with Yusuke slashing his stringed axe while Haruka alternates between gnarling deeply in an old school Death Metal way and her operatic vocals; and the Anime-like keys and synths by Yusuke will penetrate deep inside your mind in Fragments of Memories, sounding as if you’re placed inside a video game where the soundtrack is ass-kicking heavy music, not to mention how awesome the drums by Tomoyuki sound and feel. Tomoyuki continues to crush his drums accompanied by the wicked riffs and keys by Yusuke in Last Reverie, fast and thrilling from start to finish with Haruka once again being a princess and a she-demon incarnate on vocals. Then close your eyes and succumb to the breathtaking Symphonic and Electronic Death Metal by Heterogeneous Andead in Beautiful Nightmare, also presenting elements from the Black Metal played by Cradle of Filth, or in other words, it’s nonstop adrenaline flowing through our avid ears.

Fission brings forward a fusion of the heaviness and rage of Death and Thrash Metal with the insanity of electronic music, with Haruka stealing the spotlight with another kick-ass vocal performance; whereas putting the pedal to the metal the trio fires the high-octane Mirror of the Lie, with its background keys adding hints of epicness to the demented Death Metal sounds blasted, once again reminding me of the heaviest and craziest Gothic Metal bands from the 80’s with a Black Metal twist. Their second to last explosion of idiosyncratic sounds is offered in the form of Regrettable, where Haruka’s barks make a beautiful paradox with the keys by Yusuke and obviously with her own operatic vocals, all supported by the classic blast beats by Tomoyuki. There’s time for one more round of their striking music with over eight minutes of flammable riffs and solos, sinister keys and massive beats entitled Licking, which despite lacking the creativity of the previous songs still provides a powerful ending to the album.

While Haruka and Yusuke search for a new guitarist, a new bassist and a new drummer to join them in their quest for heavy music, you can enjoy Chaotic Fragments in full on Spotify, as well as follow the band on Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel. In addition, in order to show all your support and admiration for Heterogeneous Andead, you can purchase their classy new album by clicking HERE, or from Qobuz. You won’t regret succumbing to the chaotic and experimental music brought into being by Heterogeneous Andead, proving once and for all that if innovation is your cup of tea in heavy music, the beautiful Japan will always be your place to go.

Best moments of the album: The Void Sacrifice, Beautiful Nightmare and Mirror of the Lie.

Worst moments of the album: Licking.

Released in 2022 WormHoleDeath

Track listing
1. The Void Sacrifice 4:49
2. Fragments of Memories 8:26
3. Last Reverie 5:24
4. Beautiful Nightmare 6:53
5. Fission 6:05
6. Mirror of the Lie 5:34
7. Regrettable 5:23
8. Licking 8:29

Band members
Haruka Morikawa – vocals
Yusuke Kiyama – guitars, synthesizers, programming
Tomoyuki Nakano – drums

Album Review – Culto Negro / La Noche Oscura del Alma (2022)

This Costa Rican horde will crush your senses with their debut opus, transforming the dark night of the soul into a first-class fusion of Black and Speed Metal.

Forged back in 2015 in the dark pits of Heredia, one of Costa Rica’s most historical cities, Black/Speed Metal horde Culto Negro (which by the way means “black cult” in English) has just unleashed upon humanity their debut full-length opus, beautifully titled La Noche Oscura del Alma, or “the dark night of the soul”, a sulfurous album of old school extreme music that exhales rage and adrenaline. Recorded by the band’s own guitarist Isak Arroyo at Orion Studios, mixed and mastered by Colin Marston at Menegroth Studios, and displaying a sick artwork by Nuno Zuki of Belial NecroArts (with additional artworks by Alan Corpse at Leprous Hands Arts), La Noche Oscura del Alma doesn’t have a single second of peace, offering our avid ears 39 minutes of a sonic Armageddon masterfully crafted by vocalist D.N., guitarists Esteban Sancho and Isak Arroyo, bassist AntiChristopher and drummer Vörago.

More than just a simple intro, Espectro Lunar (“lunar spectrum”) is already a bestial attack by Culto Negro where the riffage by Esteban and Isak is truly infernal, setting the stage for D.N. to kill in Desdoble (“unfold”), a fast and furious hybrid of Black and Thrash Metal that will please all fans of the genre bringing forward an amazing job done by Vörago on drums, keeping the music vibrant and evil from start to finish. Then it’s pedal to the metal as this Costa Rican party has no time to end to the sound of El Quinto Ángulo (“the fifth angle”), where D.N. makes his personal tribute to Hardcore and Punk Rock on vocals while the band’s guitar duo delivers sheer awesomeness through their riffs and solos, followed by Verso Adivinado (“guessed verse”), another frantic, demonic creation by the quintet where AntiChristopher’s bass punches add a touch of dementia to their scorching guitars, while Vörago hammers his drums in a true demented way. And Navajas, Cadenas y Espejos (“knives, chains and mirrors”) sounds like a hellish fusion of the music by Slayer, Motörhead and The Exploited, being therefore a fantastic option for slamming into the pit like there’s no tomorrow.

Get ready to be smashed like a bug by Culto Negro in the venomous Rojo Siniestro (“sinister red”), with D.N.’s vocals sounding more deranged than ever while Vörago keeps dictating the pace with his Punk Rock-infused beats; whereas in Caos o Cosmos (“chaos or cosmos”) the name of the song says it all, offering us all a chaotic sonority from the very first second with Esteban and Isak delivering pure thrashing riffs for our total delight. And such dynamic guitar duo revs up Culto Negro’s engines once again in Salvajes Destructores (“savage destroyers”), highly recommended for some nonstop headbanging and slamming into the pit; while Violencia Psicoactiva (“psychoactive violence”) is Black, Thrash and Speed Metal straight to your jugular, showcasing more of AntiChristopher and Vörago’s infernal kitchen. La Larga Marcha (“the long march”) can be considered the most infernal, brutal and caustic of all tracks where D.N. continues to vociferate like a rabid creature. Put differently, let’s all raise our horns to Culto Negro and their anti-religious extreme music. Last but not least, we have their cover version for Hermética’s Desterrando a los Oscurantistas (“banishing the obscurantists”), which original version can be enjoyed HERE, from Hermética’s 1989 self-titled debut album. It’s indeed an amazing rendition by those Costa Rican metallers, with AntiChristopher hammering his bass in great fashion until the very end.

If you believe you have what it takes to join the black cult ruled by such talented horde form Costa Rica, you can stream  La Noche Oscura del Alma in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course purchase it from the Godz ov War Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from the Violence Records’ BandCamp page. Culto Negro are also waiting for you on Facebook and on Instagram armed with the austere chants found in La Noche Oscura del Alma, showing us all Costa Rica is a metallic country as opposed to what most people think about it. They managed to transform the dark night of the soul into top-tier Extreme Metal in their debut effort, and may their music continue to darken the skies for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: El Quinto Ángulo, Navajas, Cadenas y Espejos and Salvajes Destructores.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Godz ov War Productions/Mythrone Promotion/Violence Records

Track listing
1. Espectro Lunar (Intro) 1:53
2. Desdoble 2:51
3. El Quinto Ángulo 2:52
4. Verso Adivinado 3:29
5. Navajas, Cadenas y Espejos 3:38
6. Rojo Siniestro 3:57
7. Caos o Cosmos 4:02
8. Salvajes Destructores 3:43
9. Violencia Psicoactiva 4:29
10. La Larga Marcha 5:29
11. Desterrando a los Oscurantistas (Hermetica cover) 2:15

Band members
D.N. – vocals
Esteban Sancho – guitars
Isak Arroyo – guitars
AntiChristopher – bass
Vörago – drums

Album Review – Megadeth / The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! (2022)

The sick, the dying… and the Megadeth!

Marking the longest gap between two studio albums in the band’s career since their 2016 release Dystopia, the excellent The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! is not only the sixteenth studio album by American Thrash/Speed Metal icons Megadeth, but a bold statement that the unrelenting Mr. Dave Mustaine and his henchmen are far from calling it quits, offering us all a lecture in thrash, speed and technique split into 12 incendiary songs. Produced by Dave Mustaine and Chris Rakestraw, mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, mixed by Josh Wilbur, displaying a classic cover art by Brent Elliott White, and with artwork, layout and design by Josh Graham at Suspended In Light, The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! is the first Megadeth album to feature drummer Dirk Verbeuren and the second to feature guitarist Kiko Loureiro, with the bass parts originally recorded by founding bassist David Ellefson being re-recorded by Steve Di Giorgio of Testament (although the band’s current bassist is James LoMenzo) after David was dismissed from the band due to a sex scandal during the album’s recording.

Showcasing an intro inspired by the classic scene “Bring Out Your Dead” from the 1975 cult movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the title-track The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! Quickly morphs into pure Megadeth to the stunning riffs by Dave and Kiko, being also perfect for screaming “Die! Die! Die!” together with “MegaDave”. Then we have Life in Hell, sounding fast and furious just the way we like it in Speed Metal with its lyrics being acid and fun at the same time (“Busted, caught red-handed again / You can’t be trusted, born to lose, you’ll never win / You’re so corrupted, you stand before us condemned / So maladjusted to the world we’re living and dying in”), not to mention how thunderous Dirk sounds on drums; followed by Night Stalkers, another one of my favorites where the band puts the pedal to the metal with Dave and Kiko being on fire with their wicked riffs, accompanied by Steve’s rumbling bass and Dirk’s pulverizing beats, all of course spiced up by a spot-on guest appearance by the one and only Ice-T, the man behind Body Count. In Dogs of Chernobyl a heavy and dark start gradually evolves into another metallic feast by Dave & Co., with its second part setting fire to the atmosphere with its razor-edged riffs, solos and beats, whereas Sacrifice sounds very similar to some of the songs from Dystopia, being very melodic and sharp and with Dave’s raspy voice being nicely supported by all backing vocals. And more of their undisputed fusion of Thrash and Speed Metal is offered to us all in Junkie, with Dave kicking some serious ass as usual with both his unique vocals and trademark riffs and solos.

After the tribalistic interlude Psychopathy, it’s time for Dave to distill his venom in Killing Time, showcasing lyrics that seem to be directed to the band’s former bassist Dave Ellefson (“Some people look at you and feel sorry / They see your beady eyes and a soul that is black / It’s clear to see, you’re a pathological liar / And your alibi was a lie, it was all just an act, and that’s a fact”); followed by Soldier On!, a headbanging extravaganza that transpires Megadeth where Dave leads his horde flawlessly, with “The Marching Metal Bastards” part at the end being ridiculously funny. Célebutante is another old school, straightforward tune by the band where Dirk and Steve are in absolute sync from start to finish, albeit presenting some really weird lyrics, while in Mission to Mars the lyrics are even weirder but for a good reason (they’re meant to be cheesy), also displaying excellent instrumental parts including its striking guitar solos. Then the incendiary shredding by Dave and Kiko ignite the closing tune We’ll Be Back, which was curiously the first single released, sounding technical, violent, fast and acid just the way we love it, or in other words, it’s simply flawless until the very end. Moreover, depending on the version of the album you acquire, there are some amazing bonus tracks waiting for you, with the best one being by far This Planet’s on Fire (Burn in Hell), originally recorded by Sammy Hagar on his 1979 album Street Machine (listen to the original version HERE), and featuring Sammy Hagar himself on vocals together with MegaDave.

You can enjoy the album in its entirety on Spotify, where by the way you’ll find the best bonus tracks in my humble opinion, but if you’re a loyal member of Megadeth’s Cyber Army you should definitely purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE or HERE, always keeping an eye on the band’s official Facebook and Instagram for news, tour dates and other fun stuff by Dave and his crew. In a nutshell, The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! couldn’t have sounded more Megadeth than this, staying loyal to the band’s original Speed Metal infused with Thrash Metal, while at the same time containing elements from all phases of their undisputed career, putting a huge smile on the faces of their old school fans and of newcomers to their metal realm. It’s an album for all of us, for all diehard metalheads out there, inspiring us to raise our horns to the sick, the dying… and the Megadeth!

Best moments of the album: The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead!, Life in Hell, Night Stalkers, Mission to Mars and We’ll Be Back.

Worst moments of the album: Célebutante.

Released in 2022 Universal Music

Track listing
1. The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! 5:04
2. Life in Hell 4:12
3. Night Stalkers 6:38
4. Dogs of Chernobyl 6:14
5. Sacrifice 4:08
6. Junkie 3:39
7. Psychopathy 1:20
8. Killing Time 5:13
9. Soldier On! 4:54
10. Célebutante 3:51
11. Mission to Mars 5:24
12. We’ll Be Back 4:29

Digital Edition bonus tracks
13. Police Truck (Dead Kennedys cover) 2:29
14. This Planet’s on Fire (Burn in Hell) (Sammy Hagar cover) 5:04

EMP Exclusive CD bonus tracks
13. This Planet’s on Fire (Burn in Hell) (Sammy Hagar cover) 5:04
14. Take No Prisoners (live) 3:29

Target Exclusive CD bonus tracks
13. This Planet’s on Fire (Burn in Hell) (Sammy Hagar cover) 5:04
14. The Conjuring (live)* 5:49

*Mislabeled as “Dystopia” on the album track listing.

Band members
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, additional bass
Kiko Loureiro – lead guitar, backing vocals, flute on “Night Stalkers”
Dirk Verbeuren – drums

Guest musician
Steve Di Giorgio – bass (session)
Ice-T – vocals on “Night Stalkers”
Sammy Hagar – vocals on “This Planet’s on Fire (Burn in Hell)”
Brandon Ray – additional vocals
Eric Darken – percussion
Roger Lima – keyboards, effects
Luliia Tikhomirova – narration on “Dogs of Chernobyl”
Bill Elliot – voices on “Junkie”
John Clement – voices on “Soldier On!”
The Marching Metal Bastards – voices on “Soldier On!”
Maila Kaarina Rantanen – voices on “Mission to Mars”
Clint Underwood – voices on “Mission to Mars”

Album Review – Hellfuck / Diabolic Slaughter (2022)

A horde of seasoned musicians from Poland brings pure sulfur and blasphemy to us all throughout the 32 minutes of Blackened Thrash and Speed Metal from their new album.

It looks like the more religious and conservative a country becomes, the better its Extreme Metal scene is, and when the country in question is Poland that becomes even more noticeable as some of the best metal acts to arise from the country are in the extreme music landscape such as Behemoth, Ragehammer, Embrional, Kult Mogił, and so on. That couldn’t have been any different with Blackened Thrash/Speed Metal horde Hellfuck, and if the name of the band is not enough to attract your attention maybe you’ll enjoy the name of their new opus, Diabolic Slaughter. Recorded at Panzer Studio, mixed and mastered by Haldor Grunberg at Satanic Audio, and displaying a sick cover artwork and layout design by Maciej Kamuda Art, Diabolic Slaughter is a beast of an album carefully brought into being by vocalist and guitarist Skullripper, guitarist Nelek, bassist Armagog and drummer Darek Mlody, all seasoned musicians from bands the likes of Embrional, Azarath, Stillborn, F.A.M. and Squash Bowels, bringing pure sulfur and blasphemy to our demented minds throughout the album’s 32 demolishing minutes.

Distorted, evil guitars ignite the opening tune Religious Scum, exploding into ass-kicking Thrash Metal spearheaded by the unfriendly, raspy vocals by Skullripper, consequently sounding absolutely perfect for slamming into the circle pit like a true metalmaniac. Darek continues to hammer his drums in great fashion in War Obsession accompanied by the razor-edged riffage by Skullripper and Nelek, as if Municipal Waste made a deal with the devil in the name of Black Metal; whereas Reigning in Hell is infernal, frantic and demented just the way we like it, with Armagog and Darek generating a reverberating atmosphere perfect for Skullripper to fire his demonic screams in a lecture in Blackened Thrash Metal by the band. The quartet keeps the momentum going with Angel’s Disgrace, another brutal fusion of Black and Speed Metal showcasing a fantastic riff work by the band’s guitar duo, and get ready to be pulverized by this Polish horde in God in Flames, even more demonic and breathtaking than the previous songs, where Darek once again dictates the pace with his hellish drums.

Living up to the legacy of the most demolishing form of Thrash Metal, it’s time for Time to Suicide, with the riffage by Skullripper and Nelek walking hand in hand with the massive beats by Darek; and the incendiary riffs and solos by Skullripper and Nelek keep piercing our ears in Church – Pigsty of Nations, with Armagog and Darek once again shaking the foundations of the earth with their Black Metal-inspired kitchen. Then arising from the very depths of the underworld the band offers us all H.M.S.T.O.P.S (or “Holy Mary, Suck The Prick Of Satan”), a no shenanigans sonic onslaught by Hellfuck that keeps the album at an insane level of animosity and rage, with Darek crushing our damned souls with his unstoppable beats. Their second to last blast of insanity, blasphemy and darkness comes in the form of The Vampiric Oath, with Skullripper gnarling rabidly supported by his devilish bandmates, not to mention its headbanging riffs are absolutely awesome; whereas last but not least, the quartet incorporates an extra dosage of the rebelliousness of bands like Toxic Holocaust, Exodus and Obituary into their core sonority, resulting in a thrashing creature entitled Despise the Priest to properly conclude the album.

As already mentioned, Poland is the place to be if you’re a diehard fan of the most extreme, blasphemous and ruthless forms of heavy music, and the guys from Hellfuck are making sure the fires of Polish metal keep burning bright anywhere they go to the sound of their awesome new album. Hence, don’t forget to start following those headbanging bastards from Poland on Facebook for news, tour dates and more of their wicked music, and to grab your copy of the incendiary Diabolic Slaughter from the Godz ov War Productions’ BandCamp page, adding an extra dosage of profanity to your already devilish collection and, as a consequence, making sure there’s absolutely no peace for your religious neighbors.

Best moments of the album: Religious Scum, Reigning in Hell and Church – Pigsty of Nations.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Godz ov War Productions

Track listing
1. Religious Scum 3:29
2. War Obsession 3:18
3. Reigning in Hell 2:43
4. Angel’s Disgrace 3:23
5. God in Flames 3:36
6. Time to Suicide 3:33
7. Church – Pigsty of Nations 2:23
8. H.M.S.T.O.P.S 3:36
9. The Vampiric Oath 2:49
10. Despise the Priest 3:13

Band members
Skullripper – vocals, guitar
Nelek – guitar
Armagog – bass
Darek Mlody – drums

Concert Review – Lamb of God & Megadeth (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 05/18/2022)

After two years of waiting, Toronto was finally able to witness all the energy and heaviness of “The Metal Tour of the Year”… and it was absolutely awesome!

OPENING ACTS: In Flames and Trivium

Ladies and gentlemen, or whatever way you like to be referred as, what an incredible night of first-class, high-octane, infernal Heavy Metal we had yesterday in Toronto at the unparalleled Budweiser Stage, with IN FLAMES, TRIVIUM, LAMB OF GOD and the one and only MEGADETH showing us all why their tour was named The Metal Tour of the Year! As a matter of fact, last night’s concert was originally scheduled to happen in 2020, but of course due to the shitty COVID-19 pandemic (which apparently seems to be finally over), it had to be rescheduled countless times. Anyway, the wait was totally worth it, as all bands were simply awesome yesterday, putting a huge smile on the faces of everyone at the venue (and the fans didn’t seem to care about the fact the temperature in the city dropped from the mid-30’s to the low-10’s in just a couple of days). Well, I believe Sweden’s own Melodic Groove Metal/Metalcore icons IN FLAMES were awesome as well, as due to work and traffic I wasn’t able to make it to their concert, but a friend that arrived earlier said they kicked ass.

Setlist
Cloud Connected
Behind Space
Everything’s Gone
Where the Dead Ships Dwell
Call My Name
All for Me
I Am Above
Take This Life

Band members
Anders Fridén – vocals
Björn Gelotte – guitar
Chris Broderick – guitar
Bryce Paul Newman – bass
Niels Nielsen – keyboards
Tanner Wayne – drums

I was scared I wouldn’t be able to make it to see Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal maniacs TRIVIUM, but fortunately I arrived at the venue around 10 minutes before they hit the stage with their short but extremely powerful performance. Matt Heafy, Corey Beaulieu, Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent were beyond happy to be back in Toronto after almost five years (yes, their last concert in the city was in the distant year of 2017), and add to that the superb tracks from their most recent album In the Court of the Dragon, those being the title-track In the Court of the Dragon and my favorite one of the album, Like a Sword Over Damocles, and there you have a recipe for success (and mosh pits). “Throes of Perdition” and “Feast of Fire”, which were on the setlist in the US dates, were replaced by Strife and Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr, and let’s say those new additions to their setlist received a killer feedback from the crowd, who engaged in several mosh pits while the band was on fire onstage. And what can I say about the jumping up and down ignited by Matt during their hit In Waves? That was outstanding to say the least. Furthermore, Matt mentioned this was the biggest show of the entire North American tour, proving how much us Torontonians love all bands involved, and hopefully that will inspired Trivium to return to Toronto for a full-bodied performance on their own in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
X
In the Court of the Dragon
Like a Sword Over Damocles
Beyond Oblivion
Strife
Rain
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Capsizing the Sea
In Waves

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

LAMB OF GOD

If there’s a band that knows how to inspire any type of person in the world to slam into the mosh pit, that’s undoubtedly Richmond, Virginia’s Groove Metal horde LAMB OF GOD, who precisely at 8:10pm hit the stage for the total delight of all metalmaniacs ready for a good dosage of heaviness, rage and insanity. Still promoting their 2020 self-titled masterpiece, the unstoppable Randy Blythe and his henchmen put on an unforgettable show, from the opening song Memento Mori, until the very last second of their all-time classic Redneck. It’s beautiful to see the rise of Lamb of God to the status of metal giants, as now they even have fire onstage like what they provided us with in Walk With Me in Hell, which was by the way flawless and one of the top moments of the entire night. It doesn’t matter if they played darker, more introspective songs like 512 or if they exhaled sheer violence like in Contractor, everything was perfect, and Toronto definitely shared their love for the band with all horns in the air, all screaming, and of course the frantic, never-stopping mosh pits in the floor section. As expected, Randy, who seemed possessed throughout their entire set, delivered a couple of Woooooo!’s as his personal tribute to the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and dedicated Redneck to the guy who in 2018 tried to swim back to that same venue during their tour with Slayer. Toronto can’t wait to have Lamb of God again in the city, an I can’t wait to slam into the pit to the sound of one of my favorite metal bands of the past decade.

Setlist
Memento Mori
Ruin
Walk With Me in Hell
Resurrection Man
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
Contractor
11th Hour
512
Ghost Walking
Vigil
Laid to Rest
Redneck

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Phil Demmel – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Art Cruz – drums

MEGADETH

As expected, most fans at the Budweiser Stage were there to witness “MegaDave” Mustaine and his Thrash/Speed Metal institution MEGADETH distill their unique classics in the city again after so many years, and when the clock hit 9:45pm our dreams came true as the first notes from Hangar 18 (right after the intro Prince of Darkness) were played by Dave and his bandmates Kiko Loureiro, James LoMenzo and Dirk Verbeuren. Is there a better way to kick off a show than with such classic, followed by the underrated tunes Dread and the Fugitive Mind and Angry Again? What a brilliant start to their set, winning the hearts and minds of everyone instantly. Dave and Kiko played their guitars to perfection as usual during the entire concert, making our jaws drop and inspiring us to show them the horns during and after each song played. I loved the fact they’re still playing the superb Trust after so many decades, and although they replaced another pulverizing song, “She-Wolf”, with A Tout Le Monde, that didn’t do any harm to their concert. Who doesn’t love to sing such stunning ballad together with Dave, screaming the song’s French words at the top of his or her lungs? In addition, a few different versions of Vic Rattlehead appeared onstage during the songs Conquer or Die!, Dystopia and Peace Sells, adding an extra touch of awesomeness to the show, culminating with their undisputed hymn Holy Wars… The Punishment Due. By the end of the concert, Dave mentioned the band is recording the follow-up to their 2016 album Dystopia and that the album should see the light of day this summer, so all we need to do now is wait for it and for another night of our beloved Megadeth in Toronto… and Dave promised he’ll return to the city, oh yeah!

Setlist
Prince of Darkness
Hangar 18
Dread and the Fugitive Mind
Angry Again
Conquer or Die!
Dystopia
The Conjuring
Trust
Sweating Bullets
A Tout Le Monde
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells

Encore:
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due
Silent Scorn
My Way
Shadow of Deth

Band members
Dave Mustaine – vocals, guitars
Kiko Loureiro – guitars, backing vocals
James LoMenzo – bass, backing vocals
Dirk Verbeuren – drums

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Concert Review – Nervosa & Destruction (Lee’s Palace, Toronto, ON, 05/01/2022)

The German butchers of Thrash Metal struck back in another diabolical night of heavy music in the city of Toronto.

OPENING ACTS: VX36 and Sunlord

There’s nothing better than ending another fun weekend and getting ready for a cold and rainy Monday than a night of pure Thrash and Death Metal, and that’s exactly what several Torontonian metalheads were able to enjoy last night at Lee’s Palace thanks to the ruthless Diabolical North American Tour 2022, with the bands VX36, SUNLORD, NERVOSA and the iconic DESTRUCTION offering their fans exactly what they needed to slam into the pit and raise their horns nonstop. The first band to hit the stage was Geyserville, California-based Thrash/Groove Metal band VX36, led by vocalist and guitarist Nate Klug, who inspired all thrashers at the venue to bang their heads to great songs such as Satan’s Fury and Blood War. That was an excellent start to the night, and I just wish the band had new material to present as everything they played, despite being awesome, was from over seven years ago I believe.

Band members
Nate Klug – vocals, guitar
Gage Higgins – lead guitar, vocals
Nick Altenburg – bass
John Lorence – drums

After a really, really quick break, it was time for Jackson Heights, New York’s own Heavy/Speed Metal trio SUNLORD to kick some ass on stage. Comprised of vocalist, guitarist and founder Alfonso Ferrazza, bassist Ashely Wells and drummer Lamar Little, the band delivered a solid show including the fun songs Forbidden Witch and Turn Me Loose, with Lamar stealing the spotlight with a beyond professional and thrilling performance behind his drums, adding an extra touch of groove and heaviness to the band’s music. In the end, Sunlord might not be as thrash as the other bands from the night, but they definitely proved why they were chosen to open for Nervosa and Destruction with their energy and passion for heavy music.

Band members
Alfonso Ferrazza – vocals, guitars
Ashely Wells – bass
Lamar Little – drums

NERVOSA

Finally, after years and years waiting, I was able to see for the first time ever the all-female thrashing machine NERVOSA pulverizing everything and everyone live on stage. One of the most multinational bands of the current metal scene, as the band is now formed of Spanish frontwoman Diva Satanica, Brazilian guitarist and founder Prika Amaral, Italian bassist Mia Wallace and Greek drummer Eleni Nota, the quartet was infernal with their fusion of Death and Thrash Metal from start to finish, with the stunning Diva Satanica not only showcasing a breathtaking vocal performance, but her stage presence was also a thing of beauty. Still promoting their 2021 opus  Perpetual Chaos, Nervosa made a lot of awesome noise playing songs the likes of Kill the Silence, Masked Betrayer, Into Moshpit, Guided By Evil and Under Ruins, as well as my favorite ones of the night, Genocidal Command, Time to Fight and Rebel Soul, where not only Diva Satanica was flawless on vocals, but Prika, Mia and Eleni were also smashing their instruments in great fashion. I just wish the girls had some time to interact with their fans at their booth (which apparently was reduced to just a few random items as their shirts couldn’t be delivered on time), but again, what really matters is what they do on stage, and they more than succeeded by inflicting that nice pain in our necks due to all headbanging involved.

Band members
Diva Satanica – lead vocals
Prika Amaral – guitar, backing vocals
Mia Wallace – bass
Eleni Nota – drums

DESTRUCTION

Another short break and there they were, German Thrash Metal institution DESTRUCTION, ready to show everyone at Lee’s Palace what old school thrash is all about. Anything I say about the band’s frontman and mastermind Schmier won’t be enough to depict his energy, his charisma and his onstage performance, kicking ass from the very first second and showing absolutely no mercy for our souls armed with his metallic bass and raspy vocals. Blending classics the likes of Nailed to the Cross, Born to Perish, Mad Butcher, Thrash Till Death, Bestial Invasion and The Butcher Strikes Back with songs from their recently released album Diabolical, including the amazing title-track and the pulverizing No Faith in Humanity, Schmier and his henchmen Damir Eskić and Martin Furia on the guitars and Canadian beast Randy Black on drums gave a lecture in Thrash Metal to their fans, showing why they’ve been alive and kicking since their inception in the distant year of 1983. By the way, close to the end of the show, Schmier had some very nice words to say about a guy that was present at the venue who was their first ever North American fan, being the first person in the US and Canada to purchase their 1984 demo Bestial Invasion of Hell. That was a really cool moment, and that guy, who was not too far from where I was standing, seemed deeply touched by such amazing tribute by one of his favorite bands of all time. That’s pure Thrash Metal, and after all was said and done (already past midnight, by the way), we were all certain those Teutonic metallers will return to destroy Toronto once again in a not-so-distant future.

Band members
Schmier – vocals, bass
Damir Eskić – lead guitars
Martin Furia – guitars
Randy Black – drums

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Album Review – Abbath / Dread Reaver (2022)

Riff-maestro Abbath Doom Occulta returns with total metal mayhem in the form of his third full-length opus, cementing his place among the Black Metal hierarchy.

After the successful releases of his 2016 debut self-titled album and the 2019 opus Outstrider, Bergen, Norway-based Black Metal riff-maestro Abbath Doom Occulta is ready to cement his place among the metal hierarchy with Dread Reaver, his third album with his eponymous project Abbath. Recorded at Dub Studio with additional recordings at Bergen Lydstudio, produced by Endre Kirkesola and Dag Erik Nygaard, mixed by Abbath himself and Endre Kirkesola, and mastered by Maor Appelbaum at Maor Appelbaum Mastering, Dread Reaver might not represent a revolution in Black Metal, but it’s indeed a vibrant and visceral album of extreme music by the aforementioned Abbath on vocals, guitars and bass together with Ole André Farstad on lead and acoustic guitars, Mia Wallace on bass, and Ukri Suvilehto on drums, offering the listener his signature blend of blistering Speed Metal, traditional metal influences, and of course a touch of ice cold Black Metal, the perfect recipe for total metal mayhem.

Let’s cut to the chase and join Abbath in pitch black darkness to the opening tune Acid Haze, a demolishing Black Metal extravaganza led by the scorching riffs by Abbath and Ole supported by the bestial bass by Mia and the infernal beats by Ukri, and continuing their path of devastation the band brings forward Scarred Core, showcasing more of Mia’s crushing bass jabs while Abbath roars the song’s austere words like a demonic entity and Ole delivers an ass-kicking guitar solo made in hell. Then a sinister acoustic intro sets the stage for Abbath to kill again in Dream Cull, sounding less violent but absolutely obscure and evil from start to finish with Ukri dictating the song’s galloping pace; whereas Ukri keeps hammering his drums in Myrmidon accompanied by the razor-edged riffs by Abbath and Ole. In other words, it’s Abbath’s trademark Black Metal infused with hints of classic Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, and the final result is obviously awesome.

Mia’s rumbling bass returns in The Deep Unbound, a bestial composition that will smash you like an insect to the venomous growling by Abbath; and more of the band’s raw Black Metal is offered in Septentrion, with the pounding drums by Ukri walk hand in hand with the incendiary riffage by Abbath and Ole. Their rendition to Metallica’s Trapped Under Ice (check out an original live version of it HERE) is indeed a fun ride, with Abbath’s raspy vocals adding a touch of malignancy to the overall result; and our Norwegian black metaller still has a lot of fuel to burn together with his horde in The Book Of Breath, another straightforward Black Metal tune where Ukri fires violent, melodic beats nonstop, while the title-track Dread Reaver closes the regular version of the album with a dense and heavy atmosphere spearheaded by Abbath’s demonic gnarls and Mia’s smashing bass lines. However, if you go for the physical edition of the album you’ll be treated to an amazing bonus track, the band’s fun cover version for Motörhead’s Make My Day (check the original version HERE), where Abbath sounds like Lemmy incarnate on vocals for our total delight.

Abbath’s brand new effort can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course if you consider yourself a true servant of Norwegian Black Metal you can purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE, and also support Abbath and his horde by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram to stay up to date with their news, tour dates and so on. With Dread Reaver it feels like Abbath is reaching the desired shape and form of his music and style, and hopefully he’ll keep delivering high-quality Black Metal for admirers of the genre for many years to come now that he seems to be free from drugs and alcohol, focusing only on what really matters, which is crafting devilish music just the way we like it in the name of darkness.

Best moments of the album: Acid Haze, Myrmidon and The Deep Unbound.

Worst moments of the album: Septentrion.

Released in 2022 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. Acid Haze 4:51
2. Scarred Core 3:29
3. Dream Cull 4:15
4. Myrmidon 4:33
5. The Deep Unbound 4:07
6. Septentrion 4:28
7. Trapped Under Ice (Metallica cover) 3:59
8. The Book Of Breath 4:35
9. Dread Reaver 4:43

CD bonus track
10. Make My Day (Motörhead cover) 4:16

Band members
Abbath – vocals, guitars, bass
Ole André Farstad – lead and acoustic guitars
Mia Wallace – bass on “Acid Haze”, “Scarred Core”, “The Deep Unbound” and “Dread Reaver”
Ukri Suvilehto – drums

Album Review – Cauchemar / Rosa Mystica (2022)

Behold the fully realized expression of this French-Canadian band’s signature sound of somber traditional doom they have been perfecting since their inception.

Rising from their moss-covered crypt, French-Canadian Heavy/Doom Metal act Cauchemar is back with their third full-length opus, darkly titled Rosa Mystica, the band’s first offering since the 2019 compilation Trapped Under Ice. Meticulously composed and rehearsed to perfection, recorded at No Man’s Land Studio, and displaying a stylish cover art by Russian artist Valeria Sakseeva, the album is a fully realized expression of Cauchemar’s signature sound of somber traditional doom the band has been perfecting since their inception in 2007 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, delivered with the vigor of Heavy Metal. The atmosphere on Rosa Mystica is spacious and rustic, gilded by the warm glow of stained-glass luminescence, all carefully brought into being by frontwoman Annick Giroux and her French-language incantations, guitarist François Patry and his austere muscular riffs, and bassist Andres Arango and drummer Joel Ladouceur’s vaulted geometry.

An atmospheric, grim intro to the acoustic guitars by François kicks off the old school opening song Jour de colère (or “day of wrath” in English) while Andres and Joel generate a rumbling ambience with their respective bass and drums, offering Annick all she needs to powerfully shine on vocals, whereas blending the epicness of classic Heavy Metal with the obscurity of Doom Metal the quartet offers us all the excellent Rouge sang (“blood red”), with Annick taking the lead with her solid vocals while François keep extracting fire from his riffs. Leaning towards pure Doom Metal, Notre-Dame-sous-Terre (“Notre-Dame-under-Earth”) is a Stygian composition by Cauchemar with Joel delivering those sluggish beats we love so much, and more of the blazing riffs and solos by François embellish the airwaves in Danger de nuit (“danger at night”), accompanied by the low-tuned bass by Andres in a thrilling hybrid of Heavy and Doom Metal with classic Hard Rock.

The title-track Rosa mystica brings to our ears another round of their cryptic Doom Metal spearheaded by the slow and steady drums by Joel. Needless to say, the guitar lines by François are a thing of beauty, whereas adding elements from Speed and Thrash Metal to their core sonority we’re treated to the high-octane aria Le tombeau de l’aube (“the tomb of dawn”), showcasing another spot-on performance by Joel on drums. Volcan (“volcano”), featuring a guest guitar solo by Alan Jones, is an old school Doom Metal chant with Blackened Doom nuances slightly less visceral than its predecessors but still very enjoyable; and last but not least, François’ acoustic guitars and the low-tuned bass by Andres kick off the melancholic La sorcière (“the witch”), offering our ears six minutes of mesmerizing doom enhanced by a guest guitar solo by Chany Pilote that puts a beyond climatic ending to the album.

Annick and her henchmen are waiting for your feedback on their music on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course if you want to show your total support to the Canadian underground you can purchase a copy of Rosa Mystica from the band’s own BandCamp page, or if you’re in Canada, in the United States or other non-EU country you can also get the album from the Temple of Mystery webstore as a CD, an LP or as a very special gold “Die Hard” version with a 4-page insert, a woven patch, a sticker and an 11″ x 17″ A3 poster, as well as from Record Shop X. In other words, let the atmospheric music found in Rosa Mystica penetrate deep inside your soul, keeping the fires of underground doom burning bright thanks to the talent and hard work of one of the torchbearers of the Québécoise scene.

Best moments of the album: Rouge sang, Danger de nuit and Le tombeau de l’aube.

Worst moments of the album: Volcan.

Released in 2022 Temple of Mystery

Track listing
1. Jour de colère 6:18
2. Rouge sang 3:11
3. Notre-Dame-sous-Terre 5:49
4. Danger de nuit 4:51
5. Rosa mystica 5:28
6. Le tombeau de l’aube 2:50
7. Volcan 5:22
8. La sorcière 6:07

Band members
Annick Giroux – vocals
François Patry – guitars
Andres Arango – bass
Joel Ladouceur – drums

Guest musicians
Alan Jones – guitar solo on “Volcan”
Chany Pilote – guitar solo on “La sorcière”

Album Review – Denfire / Riding the Winds of Death EP (2021)

After 30 years playing in several bands in Brazil and in the UK, this talented musician is ready to deliver his unique blend of heavy music with his debut solo EP.

After 30 years playing in several bands in Brazil and in the UK, it’s time for vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Denfire to go solo and deliver his unique blend of heavy music with his debut EP, entitled Riding the Winds of Death. Playing a solid and straight-to-the-point fusion of Thrash, Death and Heavy Metal throughout the EP’s 16 minutes of music, Denfire, who’s by the way the founder of a really interesting publishing company named Editora Denfire, specialized in the rock and metal scene worldwide, is literally on fire in his debut effort, making sure he transforms his talent and passion for heavy music into action, inviting us all to bang our heads and raise our horns to the sound of his incendiary creations.

Fires burning ignite the metal feast titled Break Out, where Denfire blasts a frantic fusion of Thrash and Speed Metal for our total delight, already showcasing all his dexterity armed with his guitar, delivering old school riffs just the way we like it. Then in Call to Arms he vociferates the song’s poetic lyrics (“Chains, locks and fences / Guard the public space / Blind compliance / Keeps power in place / Weapons of mass frustration / Plant the seed of domination”) while the music is a hammering Heavy Metal extravaganza. Lastly, we’re treated to another round of old school words by Denfire (“Clock is ticking / Thoughts race through my head / So nerve wrecking / Now I’m riding the winds of death”) in Enemy Mind, slashing his guitar in great fashion while also dictating the song’s pace with his fierce drumming, putting a bestial, thrashing ending to the album in the vein of Exodus and Testament.

In case you’re curious to know more about Denfire, his music and his devotion to heavy music, you can start following him on his official Facebook page, and of course you can show your utmost support and admiration for such skillful lone wolf by purchasing his debut EP from his own BandCamp page. In a nutshell, although Riding the Winds of Death might be relatively short in duration with only its aforementioned 16 minutes of music, it already presents a good chunk of what Denfire has to offer and what to expect from him in his future releases, concentrating an endless amount of heaviness and thrilling riffs that will undoubtedly please all fans of the genre.

Best moments of the album: Enemy Mind.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Break Out 5:33
2. Call to Arms 4:52
3. Enemy Mind 5:43

Band members
Denfire – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Celtic Hills / Mystai Keltoy (2021)

A massive metal attack made in Italy offering us all 11 tracks that speak of ancient alien civilizations, European pyramids, legends and historical facts of Friuli.

3.5rating

celtic-hills-mystai-keltoy-2021Mystai Keltoy, an enigmatic name that alludes to the Elusian Mysteries, is also the name of the brand new album by an Italian Melodic Power/Thrash Metal entity formed in 2010 that goes by the epic name of Celtic Hills, offering us fans of heavy music 11 tracks that speak of ancient alien civilizations, European pyramids, legends and historical facts of Friuli. Recorded and produced at The Groove Factory in Udine, Italy by Michele Guaitoli, and displaying a classy artwork representing the myth of the ancient visitors hand painted by artist Sheila Franco, Mystai Keltoy is a journey through several metal styles from early Thrash Metal to modern-day Power Metal, showcasing all the talent of the band comprised of Jonathan Vanderbilt on vocals and guitar, Jacopo Novello on bass, and Simone Cescutti on drums.

The Iron Maiden-like riffs by Jonathan and the crushing drums by Simone kick off the band’s metal extravaganza in The Light, blending the magic of traditional Heavy Metal with the acidity of the Speed Metal played by Megadeth. And let’s keep banging our heads to the smashing drums by Simone in Blood is not Water, accompanied by the thunderous bass by Jacopo, reminding me of some classic compositions by Overkill, Exodus and Metal Church, whereas powerful backing vocals add an extra touch of epicness to the imposing The Tomorrow of Our Sons, supporting Jonathan and his old school vocal lines. Putting the pedal to the metal, the trio fires the absolutely pulverizing battle hymn The 7-Headed Dragon of Osoppo, where all three musicians are in total sync with their incendiary riffs, bass punches and pounding drums, resulting in a lesson in Italian Heavy and Thrash Metal. There’s no time to breathe as those Italian metallers deliver another kick-ass tune entitled The Landing of the Gods, with Jonathan slashing his stringed axe nonstop.

Already Lost is epic and bold form the very first second, with the trio being on fire throughout the entire song which “forgets” their previous Speed Metal and invests into a pure Melodic Metal sonority. Then a futuristic atmosphere walks hand in hand with the metal demolition spearheaded by Simone’s drums in Falling Star, where it’s impressive how only three musicians can generate such dense sound; followed by Battle Of Frigidium, once again drinking from the same fountain as renowned acts the likes of Manowar, Iron Maiden and Iced Earth, with Jonathan’s vocals getting darker and more enraged as the music progresses. Featuring guest vocals by Italian singer Germana Noage (Aetherna, ƝOΔGE), Celtic Hills offer us fans a more melodic side of their music à la Nightwish, After Forever and Lacuna Coil in Eden, while Temple of Love never really takes off albeit sounding similar to the previous song, and never showing the same amount of adrenaline form the rest of the album. Finally, closing the album it’s time for a Melodic Power Metal tune entirely sung in Italian entitled Allitteratio, with Jacopo and Simone kicking some ass with their groovy and heavy kitchen.

celtic-hills-2021If you’re curious to see how the fusion of heavy music and legends of ancient civilizations sounds, you can enjoy Mystai Keltoy in its entirety on Spotify, but if I were you I would certainly purchase a copy of the album by clicking HERE. And, of course, you can start following Celtic Hills on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know information about the band. Inspired by the history of the populations that inhabited the area of present-day Carnia and Friuli, as aforementioned, but seen with a different perspective, Mystai Keltoy will blow your mind so heavy and detailed it sounds, leaving you eager for more as soon as it’s over and, therefore, keeping the fires of Italian metal burning bright thanks to the amazing job done by the unstoppable Celtic Hills.

Best moments of the album: The 7-Headed Dragon of Osoppo, The Landing of the Gods and Eden.

Worst moments of the album: Temple of Love.

Released in 2021 Elevate Records

Track listing  
1. The Light 3:16
2. Blood is not Water 4:05
3. The Tomorrow of Our Sons 3:29
4. The 7-Headed Dragon of Osoppo 4:02
5. The Landing of the Gods 3:27
6. Already Lost 3:51
7. Falling Star 3:58
8. Battle Of Frigidium 4:59
9. Eden 3:54
10. Temple of Love 3:10
11. Allitteratio 3:20

Band members
Jonathan Vanderbilt – vocals, guitar
Jacopo Novello – bass
Simone Cescutti – drums

Guest musician
Germana Noage – vocals on “Eden”