Album Review – Grá / Lycaon (2023)

Succumb to the dark side of music ruled by this Swedish Black Metal horde armed with their sinister and visceral fourth studio album.

Since their inception in Stockholm, Sweden in 2010, the fantastic Black Metal entity Grá (a mixture of the Icelandic “grár” and the Swedish “grå”, simply meaning “gray”) has relentlessly worked to shape their music to be both a perfect example of Swedish Black Metal and a very personal interpretation of its classic sound. Now in 2023 the horde comprised of Heljarmadr (Dark Funeral, Cursed 13) on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Vediger (Diabolic Lust, Cursed 13) on bass, and Dimman (Veiled, Cursed 13) on drums returns from the underworld with their fourth opus, entitled Lycaon, a lecture in classic and modern Black Metal. Mixed by Terry Nikas at Zero Gravity Studios, mastered by George Nerantzis, displaying an explosive cover art by Chilean artist Felipe Ignacio, and featuring guest guitarist and keyboardist Maugrim (Vargagrav, Cursed 13) and guest vocalist Terry Nikas (Scar of the Sun), Lycaon heads in the opposite direction of their 2018 intricate and bombastic album Väsen, displaying fewer layers meticulously measured and well thought out to carry the right atmosphere forward.

White City Devil is very melodic and grim from the very first second, with Dimman sounding like a beast behind his drums offering Heljarmadr exactly what he needs to darkly roar nonstop in a flammable fusion of old school Black Metal with contemporary Melodic Black Metal. After such intense tune we have Flame of Hephaestus, even more sulfurous and with Heljarmadr growling the song’s lyrics in great fashion (“Through cinders and snow, chasing the storms / Cleansed and so cold, concealed and obscure / Astray from all life, so violently dark / Shrouded in ice, forged in the fire”) while the guitars sound utterly caustic; and Maugrim and Heljarmadr keep slashing our ears with their visceral riffs in Torn Asunder, an ode to Black Metal that will please all fans of the genre. Then we’re treated to the title-track Lycaon, a lesson in modern-day Black Metal spearheaded by the venomous vocals by Heljarmadr while Vediger and Dimman make the earth tremble with their demonic kitchen. In other words, simply raise your horns in the name of evil to the sound of this amazing song.

It’s then time for their infernal rendition of Bathory’s Chariots of Fire (from their 1987 album Under The Sign Of The Black Mark), with Heljarmadr stealing the spotlight with his demented vocal lines; whereas the sinister bass by Vediger kick off the groovy and melodic Ett Avskedsbrev (or “a farewell letter” from Swedish), accompanied by the rhythmic beats by Dimman. Brännmärkt, which means “tarnished”, “tainted” or “branded”, carries on the torch exploring the cold war from a Swedish perspective, where the intro depicting a Swedish emergency siren called “Hesa Fredrik” (Hoarse Fredrik) and an old radio transmission was recorded right when the Russia-Ukraine war started. Musically speaking, it’s absolutely heavy and obscure, with Dimman pounding his drums mercilessly while the guitars by Maugrim and Heljarmadr bring an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result, flowing into the tribalistic outro titled Jaws of the Underworld, concluding the album on a cinematic note to the sound of the hammering drums by Dimman.

As aforementioned, Väsen might have been dropped like a bomb onto our heads back in 2018, but it’s with Lycaon that Grá have reached a whole new level of obscurity in their music, already placing it as one of the best albums of 2023 even if we’re just starting the month of January. Hence, don’t forget to show your support and admiration to the guys from Grá by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their official YouTube channel, by streaming all of their wicked creations on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing their massive new album from the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp page, from Sound Cave as a Digipak CD, a black vinyl or as a limited color vinyl, or from Amazon. Lycaon is Swedish Black Metal at its finest, and I’m sure you’ll succumb to the dark side ruled by Grá right after your first listen to such Stygian album.

Best moments of the album: Flame of Hephaestus, Torn Asunder, Lycaon and Brännmärkt.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2023 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. White City Devil 4:40
2. Flame of Hephaestus 4:20
3. Torn Asunder 4:17
4. Lycaon 5:10
5. Chariots of Fire (Bathory cover) 2:50
6. Ett Avskedsbrev 4:27
7. Brännmärkt 6:17
8. Jaws of the Underworld 3:38

Band members
Heljarmadr – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Vediger – bass, backing vocals
Dimman – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Maugrim – additional guitars and keyboards
Terry Nikas – additional vocals

Concert Review – Cannibal Corpse (The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON, 11/06/2022)

And there we had another fantastic night of sheer brutality and blasphemy in Toronto spearheaded by the Corpse. 

OPENING ACTS: Black Anvil, Immolation and Dark Funeral

What a fantastic night of sheer brutality and blasphemy at The Danforth Music Hall yesterday in Toronto! If you’re a diehard fan of Death and Black Metal you must attend one of the concerts of the North American Tour 2022 this fall with the bands BLACK ANVIL, IMMOLATION, DARK FUNERAL and the unstoppable, unparalleled CANNIBAL FUCKIN’ CORPSE, with the sold out night yesterday in Toronto proving how strong extreme music still is even with all the bad music that’s dumped onto us everyday by the “specialized” media. The weather was perfect and the line to get into the venue started to form really early, maybe even before 4pm, showing it was going to be indeed an unforgettable night to all 1,500 fans who were lucky enough to get a ticket.

The first band to hit the stage was New York-based Black/Thrash Metal outfit BLACK ANVIL, but I had to miss the first few minutes of their setlist due to the massive line to buy merch. Unfortunately, the never-ending merch lines seem to be the new norm as that has happened in every single concert I’ve been to after the end of the pandemic, which makes me wonder if the fans are willing to spend a lot of extra money with shirts and other merch fearing that a new pandemic might hit anytime, or that the organizers have no clue what they’re doing and can’t put together a decent way to serve all fans that want to buy some merch. Anyway, back to the music, as soon as I was able to get into the main hall I could enjoy Black Anvil’s straightforward, no shenanigans performance, with their drummer stealing the spotlight with a solid performance. They’ve just released a new album this Friday, entitled Regenesis, which was basically everything they played last night, so if you know nothing about them and are attending one of their concerts opening for Cannibal Corpse you must listen to their new opus. Well, you should listen to it even if you’re not attending any concert, as those guys are great.

Setlist
The Gates of Brass
In Two
The Bet
29
8-Bit Terror
Grant Us His Love
Castrum Doloris

Band members
P.D. – vocals, bass
Sos – guitars
Travis Bacon – guitars
R.G. – drums

After a very short break (and the main reason for that is because all four bands had to finish their concerts by 11pm at the latest due to the neighborhood where the venue is located), it was then time for American Death Metal masters IMMOLATION to crush our souls with their extremely aggressive and technical creations, blending songs from their newest album Acts of God, such as the title-track An Act of God, Shed the Light and the closing song Apostle, with old school stuff including one song from their 1991 debut album Dawn of Possession, the fulminating Burial Ground, which ignited one of the most ravenous mosh pits of their infernal performance. Vocalist and bassist Ross Dolan was on fire throughout their entire set, while his bandmates made sure the electricity kept flowing between the band and the crowd. I’m sure it won’t take long for Immolation to return to Toronto,  and whenever that happens I’m sure I’ll be there to slam into the pit once again to the sound of their visceral music.

Setlist
Abandoned
An Act of God
The Age of No Light
Swarm of Terror
Noose of Thorns
The Distorting Light
Overtures of the Wicked
Burial Ground
Shed the Light
Of Martyrs and Men
When Halos Burn
Apostle

Band members
Ross Dolan – vocals, bass
Robert Vigna – guitars
Alex Bouks – guitars
Steve Shalaty – drums

Of course I was at The Danforth Music Hall last night mainly to see the headliners Cannibal Corpse, but I was also very excited to witness the scorching Black Metal by Sweden’s own DARK FUNERAL for the very first time live, and let me tell you it was indeed a unique experience as the band spearheaded by the talented frontman Heljarmadr delivered endless obscurity and blasphemy to their avid fans. Promoting their awesome new opus We Are The Apocalypse, Dark Funeral fired a great fusion of their early days and more contemporary creations, with songs the likes of Leviathan, The Secrets of the Black Arts and Let the Devil In receiving a huge roar back from the crowd showing all their admiration for the band. It was also funny seeing Heljarmadr asking every single fan at the venue to scream “HAIL SATAN!” together with him, and I can’t imagine what the girls at the bar and the guys from security felt during such inspirational moments. The top moments of their performance for me were the neck-breaking, evil tune My Funeral, and the closing song Where Shadows Forever Reign, turning Toronto into the worldwide Black Metal capital for one night and, therefore, guaranteeing Dark Funeral will return to the city to darken the skies once again with their undisputed Black Metal in the near future.

Setlist
Unchain My Soul
Hail Murder
Leviathan
My Funeral
The Secrets of the Black Arts
Open the Gates
When I’m Gone
Nail Them to the Cross
Let the Devil In
Where Shadows Forever Reign

Band members
Heljarmadr – vocals
Lord Ahriman – guitars
Chaq Mol – guitars
Adra Melek – bass
Jalomaah – drums

CANNIBAL CORPSE

And finally there they were, three years after their hammering performance at The Opera House back in 2019 (which was by the way my last concert before the world went to shit with the pandemic), Buffalo, New York’s one and only Death Metal institution CANNIBAL CORPSE took the city of Toronto by storm once again with their rage, speed, heaviness, precision and groove, driving the entire floor section mental and, consequently, igniting a massive circle pit that lasted for their entire performance. Frontman George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (armed with his monstrous neck and his beyond cool T-shirt “Respect the Neck”), guitarists Rob Barrett and Erik Rutan, the bass phenom Alex Webster, and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz were in absolute sync from start to finish, turning up the eat at the venue to the point you would sweat even if you were not moving at all.

What I love about Cannibal Corpse is that their setlists are always a journey through all of their phases, mixing classics the likes of Unleashing the Bloodthirsty and Stripped, Raped and Strangled with newer stuff such as Kill or Become and Inhumane Harvest, this one form their most recent album Violence Unimagined. Corpsegrinder had the crowd in his bloody hands instantly, delivering not only a savage vocal performance but also interacting in a very fun way with all fans, either by throwing bottles of water to them or by challenging everyone to try to beat him in a headbanging duel during I Cum Blood (and of course, we all failed miserably as Corpsegrinder himself predicted). Another fun moment with Corpsegrinder was before Fucked With a Knife, when he dedicated it to all women and instead of hearing guys cheering that, he actually listened to A LOT of women screaming at the venue. He commented on that by saying there are usually only 20 women in their concerts, which is already a lot in his opinion, and when he asked the ladies to scream again they were even louder. Well, after such nice moment, the circle pit kept moving ferociously to Fucked With a Knife, as expected.

Every single time I write anything about Cannnibal Corpse I need to say how much I admire Mr. Alex Webster and his wicked bass lines, and yesterday in Toronto he proved once again why he’s the best bass player of the entire Death Metal universe. That man is a beast on bass, and the best part is that you can actually listen to each and every note coming from his bass clearly. And while Mr. Webster was demolishing our ears with his bass during masterpieces the likes of Devoured by Vermin, A Skull Full of Maggots and Hammer Smashed Face, the rowdy crowd in Toronto kept having a very good time inside the circle pit in the name of first-class metal music. It’s so nice to be a fan of a band like Cannibal Corpse, as not only all of their albums are amazing, but their live performances are a thing of beauty. There should be a law for the band to play here at least once a month, but as that’s not possible I’m happy if they kept releasing ass-kicking albums and keep coming back to Toronto every couple of years. LONG LIVE THE CORPSE!

Setlist
Scourge of Iron
The Time to Kill Is Now
Inhumane Harvest
Code of the Slashers
Fucked With a Knife
The Wretched Spawn
Gutted
Kill or Become
I Cum Blood
Evisceration Plague
Death Walking Terror
Condemnation Contagion
Necrogenic Resurrection
Unleashing the Bloodthirsty
Devoured by Vermin
A Skull Full of Maggots
Stripped, Raped and Strangled
Hammer Smashed Face

Band members
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – vocals
Rob Barrett – lead and rhythm guitar
Erik Rutan – lead guitar
Alex Webster – bass guitar
Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums

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Album Review – Thundermother / Black and Gold (2022)

You better watch out as these Swedish girls are the light in the sky that turns black into gold in their new album, always loud and free in the name of Rock N’ Roll.

Two years after their highly acclaimed album Heat Wave, the unstoppable Stockholm, Sweden-based Hard Rock brigade Thundermother is back with a fantastic new album titled Black and Gold, a roar for all it’s worth. Not only musically rough and loud, but also controversial and honest, the band currently formed of the ass-kicking Guernica Mancini on vocals, Filippa Nässil on the guitar, newcomer Mona “Demona” Lindgren on bass, and Emlee Johansson on drums sounds beyond sharp and flammable throughout their entire new album, proving why they’ve become one of the most admired and respected bands of the current Hard Rock scene and, therefore, attracting the attention of diehard fans of renowned acts the likes of AC/DC, Airbourne and Rose Tattoo, among others.

Just hit play and be stunned by The Light In The Sky, a Rock N’ Roll anthem perfect to be played at the biggest stadiums in the world where Guernica is simply flawless on vocals while Emlee dictates the pace with her pounding beats; whereas the title-track Black And Gold is just as electrifying and vibrant, with Filippa delivering her usual rockin’ riffs and, therefore, resulting in another hymn for hitting the road. Raise Your Hands is a more rhythmic, headbanging tune by Thundermother paying a tribute to our beloved rock music, with some Jazz-ish influences showcasing the classy kitchen by Mona and Emlee, and after three breathtaking songs the quartet slows things down and offer us the Blues-infused ballad Hot Mess, with Guernica melting the hearts of her fans with her beautiful vocals. Getting back to a more incendiary mode it’s time for Wasted, a beer-drinking extravaganza where those four rockers are in absolute sync until the very last second, with Filippa kicking some serious ass with her riffs and solos, followed by Watch Out, where Guernica sends a fun message through the lyrics (“I’m beautiful with looks that kill / You better watch your words / You run around and talking shit /At least that’s what I heard”) while her bandmates smash their instruments in the name of Rock N’ Roll.

I Don’t Know You offers to our avid ears more of their classic lyrics (“I met you, a rainy day / In June, I met you / With a backstage pass / Like a fool / Drinking all our booze / With the crew / But who the fuck are you”) spiced up by an AC/DC-like sound and vibe, while All Looks No Hooks brings forward their usual fusion of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll where Filippa and Mona deliver pure melody and groove from their stringed axes. Then it’s time for an AC/DC and Airbourne-inspired hurricane titled Loud And Free, one of the most exciting of all tracks with Guernica and Filippa kicking us hard in the head with their superb performances; and it’s pedal to the metal as those Swedish girls won’t stop rockin’ our world in Try With Love, where Emlee once again speeds things up with her incendiary beats. Stratosphere keeps the album at a high level of adrenaline, with Guernica leading her bandmates with her undisputed soaring vocals, whereas the closing song Borrowed Time is a ballad that feels more like a bonus track. It’s not bad at all, but they could have ended the album in a much more exciting way with the previous song.

Thundermother Black and Gold Limited Boxset

When Black and Gold was released just a week before I was going to see Thundermother live for the first time ever in Montreal, I already knew their concert was going to be fantastic (and, of course, they lived up to the hype). All of the songs from Black and Gold, which is by the way available for a full listen on Spotify, are pure gold, with the girls always playing loud and free wherever they go. Hence, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and above all that, to purchase Black and Gold from their official webstore or by clicking HERE, and if you consider yourself a true servant of rock music you should definitely go for the limited boxset (limited to a thousand units) packaged in a backpack, containing a digipak CD, a 100x150cm flag, a pair of socks, a DIN A5 fake tattoo, a sweat band, an autograph and a certificate of authenticity. Thundermother are the light in the sky of rock music, and their new album will undoubtedly help them strike fast and hard all four corner of the earth for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: The Light In The Sky, Black And Gold, Watch Out and Loud And Free.

Worst moments of the album: Borrowed Time.

Released in 2022 AFM Records

Track listing
1. The Light In The Sky 3:34
2. Black And Gold 3:19
3. Raise Your Hands 3:40
4. Hot Mess 4:25
5. Wasted 3:24
6. Watch Out 3:11
7. I Don’t Know You 3:35
8. All Looks No Hooks 3:41
9. Loud And Free 2:50
10. Try With Love 3:29
11. Stratosphere 3:21
12. Borrowed Time 4:08

Band members
Guernica Mancini – vocals
Filippa Nässil – guitar
Mona “Demona” Lindgren – bass
Emlee Johansson – drums

Album Review – Watain / The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain (2022)

One of the world’s most well-known and notorious Black Metal bands is finally unleashing upon us their infernal seventh full-length opus.

Crawled out of Satan’s cunt in 1998 and has since then ascended and grown into one of the world’s most well-known and notorious Black Metal bands, Uppsala/Stockholm, Sweden-based horde Watain returns from the underworld with their greatly anticipated seventh studio album, entitled The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain. Continuing to arouse and electrify their audience with an unmistakable, adventurous brand of Black Metal Magic processed and distilled over the course of a 25-year long history, vocalist E. Danielsson and guitarist P. Forsberg, together with session musicians H. Eriksson on the guitar, A. Lillo on bass and E. Forcas on drums, show no mercy for our souls throughout the 50 minutes of insanity found in their new album. Recorded live inside an old church on the Swedish countryside, produced by T. Stjerna at Necromorbus Studio, and displaying a sick artwork by the band’s own vocalist E. Danielsson in collaboration with Indonesian artist Oik Wasfuk, The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain takes the listener one step closer to the innermost heart of a band that despite always being surrounded by rumors and controversy has always strived for the most sincere and genuine ways of expression.

The visceral riffs by P. Forsberg and H. Eriksson will cut your skin deep in the fulminating opening track Ecstasies in Night Infinite, a brutal, old school Swedish Black Metal aria for our vulgar delectation, not to mention how infernal E. Forcas sounds on drums; whereas E. Danielsson growls and gnarls like a true servant of Satan in The Howling, with his bandmates blasting more of their demolishing Black Metal. Serimosa, a word or name of power communicated out of unknown origin which tells of the electric notion of the coming of a great power, is even darker, heavier and more atmospheric, or in other words, a different but amazing side of the band led by the demonic vociferations by E. Danielsson, followed by Black Cunt, which as you can see carries a Stygian name for another round of the band’s Mephistophelian Black Metal where P. Forsberg and H. Eriksson take the lead with their sulfurous riffs and solos. And back to their most demented mode the band offers us all the blackened chant Leper’s Grace, showcasing absolutely hellish guitar lines accompanied by the blast beast by E. Forcas and the massive bass punches by A. Lillo.

The cryptic instrumental interlude Not Sun Nor Man Nor God sets the stage for Watain to kill again in Before the Cataclysm, utterly violent and obscure from the very first second, with E. Danielsson roaring nonstop with tons of anger and hatred in his damned heart, therefore living up to the legacy of classic Swedish Black Metal. Then featuring guest vocalist Farida Lemouchi (Molasses, The Devil’s Blood) and guest guitarist Gottfrid Åhman (Invidious, In Solitude) we’re treated to We Remain, and Farida will crush your corrupted, doomed heart with her enfolding vocals while the band blends the most obscure elements of Black and Doom Metal, resulting in a stunning hymn to darkness. Get ready to be pulverized by those Swedish devils in Funeral Winter, where E. Forcas is on fire behind his drums dictating the song’s pace while his bandmates extract pure evil from their sonic weapons, and before Watain crawls back into the shadows they offer our avid ears the old school Septentrion, with the band’s guitar duo slashing our minds with their wicked riffage.

You can experience the same agony and ecstasy of such important band from the global Black Metal scene by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by streaming more of their infernal creations on Spotify, and above all that, by purchasing the excellent The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain by clicking HERE or HERE. Characterized by a twisted beauty and primal ecstatic force, Watain are the wolf that keeps on hunting, fearless and free, in the dark night of man, with their new album depicting that hunt to perfection thanks to its endless heaviness, obscurity, rage and hatred, all elements that have made our beloved Black Metal so powerful and compelling through the years, while the band keeps always exploring the winding depths of both mind and spirit with a new sense of clarity and determination.

Best moments of the album: Ecstasies in Night Infinite, Serimosa, Leper’s Grace and We Remain.

Worst moments of the album: Black Cunt.

Released in 2022 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Ecstasies in Night Infinite 4:01
2. The Howling 4:05
3. Serimosa 5:26
4. Black Cunt 5:25
5. Leper’s Grace 4:09
6. Not Sun Nor Man Nor God 1:26
7. Before the Cataclysm 7:25
8. We Remain 6:15
9. Funeral Winter 4:27
10. Septentrion 6:43

Band members
E. Danielsson – vocals
P. Forsberg – guitars

Guest musicians
H. Eriksson – guitars (session)
A. Lillo – bass (session)
E. Forcas – drums (session)
Farida Lemouchi – vocals on “We Remain”
Gottfrid Åhman – lead guitar on “We Remain”

Album Review – Dark Funeral / We Are The Apocalypse (2022)

One of the pillars of Swedish Black Metal returns from the underworld with a new opus to prove once and for all that they’re the apocalypse.

The year of 1993 was when it all began, when Lord Ahriman and Blackmoon founded the infernal war machine we now know as Stockholm, Sweden-based Dark Funeral, one of the most intense and prominent Black Metal acts ever. Now in 2022, vocalist Heljarmadr, guitarists Lord Ahriman and Chaq Mol, bassist Adra Melek and drummer Jalomaah are back from the underworld with another opus of sheer obscurity and hatred, beautifully entitled We Are The Apocalypse. Mixed by Daniel Bergstrand at Dugout Productions, mastered by Paul Logus at PLX Mastering, and displaying a devilish artwork by by Marcelo Vasco, the band’s long-awaited seventh full-length album is a lecture in Swedish Black Metal not recommended for the lighthearted, proving why the band has been haunting our damned souls for almost three decades.

The evil guitars by Lord Ahriman and Chaq Mol will pierce your minds in the infernal opening tune Nightfall, a classic Scandinavian Black Metal onrush with no artificial elements, only our good old darkness and hatred, while the tribal beats by Jalomaah ignite the Stygian aria Let The Devil In, with Heljarmadr vociferating the song’s wicked words rabidly (“I take a deep, good look inside myself / I open up the gates to let the Devil in / He’s riding on the shadow of my soul / And everywhere I go, he’ll be there walking beside me”). Then get ready to be pulverized by Dark Funeral in When Our Vengeance Is Done, a fast, furious and demented creation by the band showcasing those old school Black Metal riffs we all love so much, whereas Nosferatu carries a beautiful name for another blackened sonic attack by the quintet, with Jalomaah being on fire behind his drums with both his rhythmic and demented beats.

Slowing things down a bit it’s time for the Blackened Doom-infused chant When I’m Gone, perfect for the darkest days of your useless lives, with Adra and Jalomaah making our heads tremble to the sound of their respective bass and drums. Their evil sounds keep permeating the atmosphere in Beyond The Grave, with Jalomaah’s hellish blast beast providing Heljarmadr all he needs to growl like a creature from the underworld. A Beast To Praise brings forward absolutely dark, psychological lyrics barked by Heljarmadr (“In solitude I am talking to ghosts / And while the netherworld is being ripped open wide / My human flesh is still keeping me / Between these walls, and I am eager to die”) while Lord Ahriman and Chaq Mol slash our senses with their otherworldly riffs in a lecture in Black Metal; whereas cryptic guitar lines kick off their second to last breath of obscurity titled Leviathan, not as inspiring nor as visceral as the other songs form the album, albeit still extremely violent. And last but not least, it’s time for one final explosion of pure Black Metal in the form of We Are The Apocalypse, with the demolishing drums by Jalomaah walking hand in hand with the strident riffage by the band’s guitar duo.

Such beast of an album can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but if I were you I would certainly purchase your favorite version of this devilish masterpiece by clicking HERE. We Are The Apocalypse, which will undoubtedly feature among the best metal albums of the year in countless lists from all over the world, has no artificial elements added to it, just the wrath of five insanely talented Swedish black metallers who remain loyal to the foundations of the genre even after so many years on the road. Hence, don’t forget to follow Dark Funeral on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their official YouTube channel for more of their disturbing Black Metal. Because you know, when it comes to Black Metal, Dark Funeral are indeed the apocalypse.

Best moments of the album: Nightfall, When Our Vengeance Is Done, Beyond The Grave and A Beast To Praise.

Worst moments of the album: Leviathan.

Released in 2022 Century Media

Track listing
1. Nightfall 5:13
2. Let The Devil In 4:40
3. When Our Vengeance Is Done 4:20
4. Nosferatu 4:41
5. When I’m Gone 5:46
6. Beyond The Grave 5:08
7. A Beast To Praise 4:49
8. Leviathan 4:34
9. We Are The Apocalypse 4:33

Band members
Heljarmadr – vocals
Lord Ahriman – guitars
Chaq Mol – guitars
Adra Melek – bass
Jalomaah – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Johanna Sadonis

Lucifer, oh, Lucifer… Falling for me…

As another weird and dark year is coming to its inevitable end, and as winter is finally coming, let’s set The Headbanging Moose on fire and warm us up this month of December with our tribute to the last metal lady of 2021, the unstoppable Johanna Sadonis, also known as Johanna Claudia Platow, the frontwoman for Heavy/Doom Metal/Rock entity Lucifer. Born on January 21, 1979 in Berlin, Germany, but currently residing in Stockholm, Sweden due to being married to Lucifer’s own guitarist and drummer Nicke Andersson, Johanna is not only an accomplished and extremely talented vocalist, but also a DJ, a designer, an art director and a lyricist involved in various metal bands and projects during the 90’s and early 2000’s. Having said all that, are you ready to join Johanna in her quest for dark and doomed music?

A late bloomer in the Hard Rock scene, Johanna started out in the 90’s playing and singing Extreme Metal in the underground scene, gradually moving to a darker and more melodic 70’s-inspired Hard Rock and Heavy Metal style after founding Lucifer back in 2014. But let’s take a step back in time and talk a little about her early days and how she started in music before moving on to her current band. Johanna got into rock music when she was really young with her parents’ record collection, getting to know bands the likes of The Rolling stones, AC/DC, ZZ Top and Deep Purple, among others, as well as Punk Rock from her older brother. Then in 1992 when she was 13 she went to see Guns N’ Roses and Metallica, with her next gig being Danzig when she was 14, setting her first step into the dark side of music and moving on to heavier and darker styles such as Death, Black and Doom Metal.

According to Johanna herself that happened because she was at a summer camp when she was 12 and two of her friends were into metal, and when she was 16 those guys asked her to guest sing on the demo cassette of their Death Metal band (which by the way ended up happening a few more times as that was the thing in the 90’s), getting her more and more involved with the underground scene in Berlin. At that time Johanna said she was very serious about all that. She had black hair, black clothes, her whole room was black, and she got into magic, having worked at an esoteric book shop after school. However, her earliest memory of her fascination with singing and music was when she discovered the song Leader Of The Pack by the Shangri-Las on a Rock N’ Roll compilation cassette that her mom gave her when she was six. As she couldn’t speak English at that time, she said she started writing lyrics to songs down phonetically so she could sing along as a child. Later in her early teenage years she started to write poems and lyrics, and bought her first acoustic guitar, teaching herself to play and to sing.

It was only in 2014 in Berlin when Johanna formed Heavy/Doom Metal/Rock outfit Lucifer, and after a few lineup changes Johanna became the only original member of the band currently comprised of our stunning frontwoman together with guitarist and drummer Nicke Andersson, guitarists Martin Nordin and Linus Björklund, and bassist Harald Göthblad, having also relocated the band to Stockholm, Sweden, as already mentioned. When asked if she’s ever faced any legal problems with using the name Lucifer considering it’s a name other bands have already used throughout the years, she mentioned she wouldn’t have chosen the name if it would have belonged to a larger active band, but so far she hasn’t had any problems with it. In addition, when asked about how dark the name of the band is, Johanna reminded us all that bands like Black Sabbath and Pentagram are not Black or Death Metal, also mentioning The Rolling Stones’ classic Sympathy for The Devil as an example of how demonic figures can also be used successfully in a more Rock N’ Roll way.

Playing what can be called a 70’s-inspired fusion of Rock N’ Roll and Doom Metal, Luficer have already released four full-length albums, those being Lucifer I (2015), Lucifer II (2018), Lucifer III (2020), and Lucifer IV (2021), with Johanna obviously being the lead singer in all of those records, plus the keyboardist and sampler on Lucifer I. If you want to have a very good taste of how awesome the music by Lucifer is, you can stream all of their albums on Spotify, or watch all of their breathtaking videos on YouTube including Dreamer, California Son, Bring Me His Head, Leather Demon, Midnight Phantom, their cover versions for The Rattles’ Devil’s On The Loose and Angel Witch’s Loser, and enjoy several amazing concerts like their ass-kicking performances at the Crossroads Festival in Bonn, Germany in 2018 and at Rockpalast in 2018 and in 2019.

Before forming Lucifer, Johanna could be seen in several distinct bands and projects. She was the vocalist for German Symphonic Black Metal band Cryogenic, with whom she recorded their 1996 demo and the 1998 album Celephais; sang for German Black Metal horde Dies Ater on their 1999 album Reign of Tempests, from 1999; formed the Heavy/Doom Metal/Rock band The Oath with her friends Vincent Wager and Linnéa Olsson in 2012, her last band before Lucifer, having recorded their self-titled full-length album in 2014; was part of the Electronic Indie Pop band Informer along with Rayshele Teige, a former employee of Century Media in the United States, in 2010; and was part of Swedish Melodic Black Metal unity Vinterkrig from 1996 until 1997, having recorded with them the demo Härskare över stjärnorna och mina drömmar (which was just released earlier this year).

Not only that, you can also find our beloved vocalist as a guest musician in different bands and projects through the years, those being the female vocals for the songs Marie Louise and Black Wedding, from the 1996 album Leviathan by a German Death Metal band called Ferox; vocals on the songs Now Howls the Beast and Psychic Visions, from the 2017 album Inside the Skull by American Doom Metal act Beastmaker; and vocals on the song Queen Among Rats, from the 2009 album Privilegivm, and on the cover version for Alice In Chains’ hit Them Bones, from the 2010 EP Them Bones / This Inner Soil, both by German Black/Gothic Rock/Metal band Secrets of the Moon. Not only that, Johanna was also the designer, producer and art director in all of the Lucifer’s albums, proving how talented she is. When asked if all her past experiences with the bands that came before Lucifer had an impact on the way she handles the band, she said that she certainly learned that she’s not putting up with ego bullshit and phoniness anymore, and that with Lucifer it’s all about the passion of creating music and enjoying the ride.

Regarding her idols and influences in rock and metal music, Johanna always lists some of the best, most classic vocalists and performers you can think of, including Ozzy Osbourne, Robert Plant, Ann Wilson, Stevie Nicks and Patti Smith, also saying that she listens to a lot of 70’s classic Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and early Heavy Metal, and that fictional horror, real life horror and the horror in one’s head also have a huge influence in her lyrics. Furthermore, in one of her interviews she was asked to list ten albums which she feels don’t get the proper attention from the media and the fans, and her list was very diverse, including Hard Attack by Dust, Bloodrock U.S.A. by Bloodrock, the self-titled album by Starz, Electric Jewels by April Wine, Straight Up by Badfinger, the self-titled album by Bob Seger, the self-titled album by Journey, Special Forces by 38 Special, Year of The Cat by Al Stuart, and Lucifer III by “you know who”. Johanna also mentioned that Lucifer do not have a specific formula or concept behind their albums, that they simply think of what kind of songs would make people excited, what makes them feel good, and hope that the band doesn’t lose quality or doesn’t get stale with every release.

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In terms of her life on the road with Lucifer, Johanna mentioned that she has already performed hundreds of shows with the band and that each one of those are important in their own way, saying the band plays the same way in front of 20 people in some village or at Helffest in front of over 7,000 people. In addition, when it comes to organizing their setlist, she said that they usually like to start off the set with a mid tempo number to get into the groove and end the set in some sort of sonic eruption, never putting two songs of the same kind in a row (such as two ballads, for example), maintaining an interesting flow to keep the attention of the audience. She also shared an interesting story that happened on the road, when guitarist Martin Nordin ended up playing ping pong with Ace Frehley on the Kiss Kruise where Lucifer played three sets, and also mentioned she would love to play in places such as Australia, New Zealand and South America.

As a prominent woman in the world of rock and metal music, Johanna believes you have to have a little bit of a thick skin if you’re a woman due to the fact the scene has always been a male-dominated one, saying that things got a little better in recent years compared to when she was a teenager as now we can see a lot more bands with girls, but at the same time there are still weird expressions like “female-fronted”. Johana strongly believes gender shouldn’t be a genre, also commenting about how deep that’s within our culture as you get treated differently as a woman in obvious ways, but also in really subtle ways. Johanna also pointed to the fact that there are still too many sexist and nasty comments on social media whenever a woman is part of a rock or metal band, but that fortunately that’s changing. “I felt it necessary for the first time to post, ‘if you’re a homophobe, you’re a sexist, racist, you are not welcome here.’ If you feel like you have to burn your Lucifer album now, please do so. I don’t care. That post went around quite a lot. A lot of people were applauding it, but then there was also all kinds of people going, ‘you suck anyways.’ Because I’m against sexism, racism, and homophobia? I mean, what side are you on then. I’m really shocked at how much racism is out there. But luckily that’s getting talked about too. We’re still a little bit in the middle ages, unfortunately. It can’t go fast enough.”

When asked about the metal scene in her hometown Berlin versus her current home Stockholm, Johanna mentioned that there isn’t a huge difference between those places as the rock and metal community kind of networks around the world, as people in New York, Berlin, Stockholm, London or any other city in the world are connected and know each other through social media, making it a little bit more globalized and organized. She said though that although she used to go out and DJ quite often in Berlin, she doesn’t do that much anymore in Stockholm not because there aren’t enough clubs or because the scene is not big in Sweden, but mainly due to her busy touring schedule as she feels happier with the quietness of her home nowadays after so many weeks on the road. She still misses her DJ years, though, when she used to run a monthly old school Heavy Metal party at the Kill ‘Em All Club in Berlin, which by the way she started together with the same Vincent Wager from The Oath.

Having founded Riding Reaper Records in 2020 alongside her husband and bandmate Nicke Andersson, Johanna commented that some of her advantages of making music today are her wisdom and experience gathered through the years, but also saying that she can’t really compare it to the music industry in the 90’s when she started because she was only part of the underground music scene as a musician. Also, she considers streaming services like Spotify and any social media as necessary evils because they allow the band to stay closely connected to their fanbase and to feel the pulse of what’s up. That connection was actually very important for Lucifer during the pandemic, as Johanna and the boys also had to stay home in isolation for a long period of time without playing any concerts. She mentioned the sales were pretty good, though, probably due to the fact people had more time to listen to music at their homes.

Lastly, when asked about what she considers the most amazing thing in her life, she answered that musically it’s having met Nicke and marrying him because “he is the perfect partner in crime when it comes to music,” also saying that it’s a luxury that they can do what they love the most together, which is recording music and playing live. And if you want to know more about Johanna and her incendiary band Lucifer, there are countless video interviews online such as this one to Metal Insider’s Newsroom, where she talks about Lucifer’s overall sound and other nice-to-know topics; this one where Johanna and Nicke pick the best albums from 1975; this one to Doomed & Stoned in 2018; the ‘How Well Do You Know Your Bandmate’ for Metal Injection; and this one with Darren Paltrowitz (host of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast) where she talks about the influence of Glenn Danzig, getting through the Coronavirus pandemic, future plans and more. As you can see, there’s no reason not to fall in love for Johanna and her Lucifer, succumbing to the dark side to the sound of her unique voice and charisma.

Johanna Sadonis’ Official Instagram
Lucifer’s Official Facebook page
Lucifer’s Official Instagram
Lucifer’s Official Twitter
Lucifer’s Official YouTube channel

“After my initial love affair with classic rock and heavy metal I got heavily into death, doom and black metal at the age of 16 and sang on a variety of demo cassette tapes of local death and black metal bands in Berlin. I had black hair, black clothes, my whole room was black and I got into magic. I worked at an esoteric book shop after school. I was very serious about this all. My mother thought it was just a phase but look at me, not much has changed!” – Johanna Sadonis

Album Review – Orecus / The Obliterationist (2021)

Behold the rebirth of an amazing Swedish act armed with their first full-length album, drawing influences from the riff-focused modern-era Death Metal together with the aggression of its older counterpart.

Founded in 2011 in Stockholm, Sweden and having released an EP titled Conclusion in 2016, but re-ignited as a band in 2020, Melodic Death Metal unity Orecus draws influences from the riff-focused modern-era Death Metal together with the aggression of its older counterpart, forming a clear path between sheer brutality and clever songwriting. Comprised of Philip Grüning on vocals, Elias Ryen-Rafstedt and Francis Larsson on the guitars, and Martin Maxe on bass, Orecus are set to release their first full-length opus entitled The Obliterationist, showcasing the band’s capability to create uncompromising Modern Death Metal that both grooves and reeks havoc, spiced up by the pristine re-amping, mixing and mastering by Buster Odeholm of Impact Studios and enfolded by a dark and aggressive artwork by Jorden Haley, who has already worked with bands the likes of Daath and The Agony Scene.

Elias and Francis begin slashing their guitars mercilessly in The Obliterationist while Philip roars the song’s austere lyrics like a true beast (“There’s money to be made in reeking havoc / When our leaders slaughter for personal gain / Provoking the underdogs / Until their fates are sealed”) in a vicious display of modern-day Melodic Death Metal; and hammering drums are accompanied by the low-tuned, metallic bass by Martin in Distress Signal, a good headbanging tune where Philip’s growling gets deeper and more demonic than before, also presenting elements from classic Death and Groove Metal. Then investing in a more contemporary sonority by adding hints of Metalcore to their already infernal sound, the band fires the venomous The Destruction Path, where the strident riffage by Elias and Francis will pierce your mind like a bullet, whereas featuring guest vocalist Chad Kapper (Frontierer) we’re treated to Blodvite, displaying industrialized sounds and endless electricity flowing smoothly from all instruments. Moreover, it’s impressive how they can sound technical but at the same time extremely dark and heavy, and it’s time to crush our spinal cords into the circle pit to the sound of Omnipotent, a brutal Melodic Death Metal composition where sheer violence and rage exhale from the band’s riffs, bass jabs and drums nonstop.

Supported by the spot-on guest vocals by Fredrik Söderberg (Soreption), the bass by Martin sounds and feels beyond visceral in Below The Threshold, while the band’s guitar duo cuts our skin deep with their demonic shredding accompanied by Philip’s inhumane gnarls, and they continue their Melodic Death Metal onrush with the also heavy and dark Unborn, Reborn, showcasing an amazing job done by both Elias and Francis in absolute sync with the song’s intricate beats. Then the deep guttural roars by Philip will haunt your soul in the bludgeoning tune My Manifest, presenting their trademark Melodic Death Metal guitars intertwined with a somber atmosphere and endless savagery. In Become The Nihilist the band shows why they’re never tired of blasting obscurity and rage from their sonic weapons, albeit not as vibrant as its predecessors and sounding a bit generic after a while. It’s still heavy-as-hell, though, setting the tone for Extinct, bringing to our ears one last round of their Stygian words barked by Philip (“I’ve caught a glimpse of what’s to come / A sinking world / Suffocated by submissive views / The deafening silence speaks volumes”) while the music remains as demented as possible, not to mention how thunderous Martin sounds on bass.

The ruthless guys from Orecus are waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on Spotify to show you exactly what they got, and of course in order to provide them your utmost support you can purchase The Obliterationist from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, adding such intense album of Melodic Death Metal to your personal and vile collection. As already mentioned, Orecus offer us fans of extreme music a fantastic fusion of old school and modern-day Death Metal with endless aggression, heaviness and intricacy in The Obliterationist, and let’s hope that their newborn spawn is just the first step in this new phase of their career, keeping the flames of underground Swedish Melodic Death Metal burning high and bright for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: The Obliterationist, The Destruction Path and Below The Threshold.

Worst moments of the album: Become The Nihilist.

Released in 2021 Violent Groove

Track listing
1. The Obliterationist 4:42
2. Distress Signal 3:23
3. The Destruction Path 4:08
4. Blodvite 3:32
5. Omnipotent 4:27
6. Below The Threshold 3:57
7. Unborn, Reborn 5:06
8. My Manifest 3:52
9. Become The Nihilist 3:39
10. Extinct 4:27

Band members
Philip Grüning – vocals
Elias Ryen-Rafstedt – guitars
Francis Larsson – guitars
Martin Maxe – bass

Guest musicians
Chad Kapper – vocals on “Blodvite”
Fredrik Söderberg – vocals on “Below The Threshold”

Album Review – Heavy Feather / Mountain of Sugar (2021)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: Sometimes I Feel.

Released in 2021 The Sign Records

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

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

Album Review – Thundermother / Heat Wave (2020)

Let’s turn up the heat to the sound of the brand new album by a Swedish band that doesn’t just play Rock N’ Roll. They are Rock N’ Roll.

Founded by guitarist Filippa Nässil in 2009 in Växjö, a town in southern Sweden’s Kronoberg County, but currently based in the Swedish capital Stockholm, Hard Rock/Rock N’ Roll all-female squad Thundermother is back in action with a brand new album entitled Heat Wave, their fourth full-length opus and the follow-up to their 2018 self-titled release, offering the listeners another round of their fantastic fusion of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock, Blues, Punk Rock and Heavy Metal. Even groovier than its predecessors, Heat Wave presents 13 catchy compositions showcasing all the skills and passion for heavy music by Filippa and her bandmates Guernica Mancini on vocals, Majsan Lindberg on bass and Emlee Johansson on drums, with the fine tuning being provided at Medley Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark by Hard Rock hitmaker Søren Andersen, an experienced producer and gifted guitarist who has already worked with Glenn Hughes, Dave Mustaine and Tommy Aldrige, to name a few,  resulting in a sophisticated version of an “AC/DC meet Motörhead” sound with fresh modern rock elements and a rich 70’s groove.

An Airbourne-like vibe permeates the air in the electrifying opening tune Loud and Alive, with Emlee pounding her drums in great fashion while Guernica inspires us all to rock like there’s no tomorrow with her piercing vocals, all spiced up by Filippa’s slashing riffs and solos. Then rockin’ guitar lines are accompanied by the rumbling bass by Majsan in the Hard Rock extravaganza titled Dog from Hell, an ode to classic Rock N’ Roll highly recommended for hitting the road or enjoying a cold beer, followed by Back In ’76, another song perfect for a live concert inspiring us all to raise our fists to Thundermother’s undisputed rock music where Filippa and Majsan are once again on absolute fire with their stringed axes, offering Guernica all she needs to mesmerize us all with her amazing vocal performance. And it’s time for the girls to put the pedal to the metal and kick us all in the face with the frantic, breathtaking tune Into the Mud, with Emlee obviously dictating the pace with her unstoppable beats, therefore generating a fantastic ambience while Filippa’s shredding and Majsan’s metallic bass bring sheer thunder to the overall result.

The title-track Heat Wave is an AC/DC-inspired feast of classic riffs and beats, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline (and heat, of course), and I would love to listen to this old school rock song played on any radio station worldwide, whereas despite Sleep might not be a bad composition, we must admit the girls sound a lot more cohesive and exciting when playing faster songs. I mean, it works well as a ballad, in special Guernica’s passionate vocals, but perhaps this was something asked by their record label as it feels a little out of place among the other songs from the album. Back to a more visceral and unrelenting mode, Filippa brings to our avid ears an Iron Maiden’s “Two Minutes to Midnight”-ish riff, setting fire to the excellent Driving In Style, supported by the heavy kitchen by Majsan and Emlee. Put differently, I dare you to stand still to such insane Rock N’ Roll hymn, and it looks like Thundermother never get tired of embellishing the airwaves with their vibrant Hard Rock as we can all witness in Free Ourselves, one more tune tailored for admirers of the music by AC/DC and Airbourne where Guernica and Emlee make a truly dynamic duo with their combination of soulful vocals and classic drums.

Venturing through the realms of Southern Rock mixed with tequila and endless electricity, the girls fire the riding tune Mexico, spearheaded by the groovy bass by Majsan and the always pounding beats by Emlee, definitely inspiring us all to rock in Mexican soil; and blending the groove by Lenny Kravitz with classic rock form the 70’s they offer us the radio-friendly Purple Sky, showcasing another spot-on performance by Filippa with her always strident and hypnotizing riffs and solos. Let’s keep clapping our hands and raising our glasses to the Rock N’ Roll by Thundermother in Ghosts, a straightforward and extremely catchy tune that could have easily been played on a TV show like Sons of Anarchy. Needless to say, Guernica has another flawless performance on vocals, and speeding things up once again they bring forward the high-octane, thrilling Somebody Love Me, one of those songs I bet Emlee loves to play due to its pace. Moreover, how can we not heed Guernica’s call to love her? The whole song presents a sensational job done by this talented Swedish quartet, no doubt about that, whereas Majsan’s rumbling bass sets the tone in the closing tune Bad Habits, where Thundermother yet again smash our senses with their hybrid of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll, ending the extremely fun ride that is Heat Wave on a high note.

As the band itself likes to say, Thundermother don’t just play Rock N’ Roll. Thundermother are Rock N’ Roll, and Heat Wave is undoubtedly the perfect depiction of all their love for the genre, their undeniable talent and all the hard work they put on crafting each and every song of the album. Hence, don’t forget to give the girls a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to purchase your desired version of Heat Wave, which is also available for a full listen on Spotify, by clicking HERE (or HERE if you’re a Swedish customer). After all is said and done, why don’t we just forget about our problems and get back into the mud together with Guernica, Filippa, Majsan and Emlee, turning up the heat and enjoying the fantastic music blasted by four girls who put the word “thunder” in our good old, dirty and rebellious Rock N’ Roll?

Best moments of the album: Loud and Alive, Into the Mud, Driving In Style and Somebody Love Me.

Worst moments of the album: Sleep.

Released in 2020 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Loud and Alive 3:56
2. Dog from Hell 3:37
3. Back In ’76 3:34
4. Into the Mud 3:15
5. Heat Wave 3:56
6. Sleep 3:57
7. Driving In Style 3:43
8. Free Ourselves 3:52
9. Mexico 3:38
10. Purple Sky 4:48
11. Ghosts 3:45
12. Somebody Love Me 3:43
13. Bad Habits 3:35

Band members
Guernica Mancini – vocals
Filippa Nässil – guitar
Majsan Lindberg – bass
Emlee Johansson – drums

Album Review – Katatonia / City Burials (2020)

The most free-spirited of modern metal bands returns with absorbing 58 minutes of meticulously crafted melodies and inspired, idiosyncratic arrangements.

“In days and nights of black and silver, the dead end king will come. From pieces of broken mirrors there will be a crown bestowed upon his head. In reflections of shattered glass not only the seasons will turn, but also the change disguised by the lapse of time. His mind will have to come to bear the weight of everything that was left behind and forgotten. Archiving the inaccessible. Celebrating the abandoned and mourning the destroyed. The city burials.” – Anders Nyström

Revered masters of melancholy for nearly 30 years, Swedish Progressive/Alternative Rock/Metal icons Katatonia have always pursued a profound emotional connection with their music and those who listen to it. Formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1991 by now vocalist Jonas Renkse and guitarist Anders Nyström, the most free-spirited of modern metal bands has taken a slow and steady but at the same time endless fascinating journey from primitive beginnings in the extreme music underground to their current status as darlings of both the metal world and the Progressive Rock scene. Now in 2020, after a well-deserved break taken by Jonas and Anders together with their henchmen Roger Öjersson on the guitars, Niklas Sandin on bass and Daniel Moilanen on drums since the release of their last album The Fall Of Hearts in 2016, Katatonia return in full force with City Burials, the eleventh studio album in their unique career. From its grim album art by Beech (The Pineapple Thief, Godsticks, Jen Cloher) to the very last second of the closing song, City Burials is the ultimate proof of Jonas and Anders’ enduring artistic bond throughout the album’s absorbing 58 minutes of meticulously crafted melodies and inspired, idiosyncratic arrangements, perfectly representing the band’s ever-evolving sound.

And a beyond whimsical start led by Jonas’ serene clean vocals kicks off the opening track Heart Set to Divide before his bandmates come crushing with a harmonious fusion of Progressive Metal and Alternative Rock, with the bass by Niklas bringing sheer groove to their music, whereas in Behind the Blood the flammable guitars by Anders and Roger embellish the airwaves in a lesson in modern rock and metal music that lives up to the band’s own legacy, not to mention the song’s poetic lyrics (“Rivers rush, behind the blood / The cinder skies come alive with this drop of sunset / How far can we go? Along the elusive flood / I’ve been waiting all of my life to be with you”). Then slowing things down and adding a good amount of melancholy and grief to their musicality Katatonia offer us all Lacquer, with all instruments, including the programmed drums by guest Joakim Karlsson (from Swedish Black Metal act Craft), providing all Jonas needs to shine on vocals.

A futuristic and cinematic feel permeates the air in Rein, where the minimalist guitar sounds blasted by Anders and Roger walk hand in hand with Daniel’s intricate beats, culminating in a delicate sound that will certainly please all fans of this more contemporary version of the band, followed by The Winter of Our Passing, a HIM-inspired composition showcasing beautiful passages and an ethereal vibe led by the band’s sharp guitar duo and the always groovy bass by Niklas, leaning at time towards pure Progressive Rock. After such embracing song it’s time for Vanishers, an utterly experimental and atmospheric tune by Katatonia featuring the angelic vocals by Anni Bernhard (from Swedish rock band Full Of Keys) where we’re all inspired to close our eyes and savor each note while witnessing a beautiful sunrise. And displaying nuances from the music played by rock acts like Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam without forgetting their melancholic core essence, the band offers our avid ears the also progressive and gentle City Glaciers, presenting another great job done by Anders and Roger with their crisp riffs and solos.

The last batch of songs in City Burials couldn’t have sounded more experimental and ethereal, with gentle piano notes intertwined with rumbling bass punches igniting the cryptic Flicker, where Jonas beautifully declaims the song’s words (“So cruel your desire / It pulled me under / But the drapery of my eye won’t fall / I lie in wait for the night to find you / Sephia teeth and claw”) while its modernized and atmospheric vibe penetrates deep inside your soul. Once again investing in serene and somber sounds and tones instead of the heaviness of their early days, Jonas takes the lead with his enfolding vocals in Lachesis, a too-short song that could have been a lot more detailed than its final shape and form, while in Neon Epitaph they get back to a heavier and groovier sound, with the tribal, fierce beats by Daniel and the mesmerizing riffs by Anders and Roger resulting in a lesson in modern-day Progressive Rock and Metal. Finally, intricate and progressive sounds conclude the album in Untrodden, never getting too heavy nor too mellow, but reaching a very pleasant balance exhibiting the absolute synchronicity between Jonas’ vocals and Anders’ precise riffs and solos.

In summary, the experimental and multi-layered City Burials, which you can stream in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify, continues to pave Katatonia’s path through the more serene and melancholic lands of Progressive Rock and Metal while also presenting to the band’s longtime fans an even more alternative side of Jonas, Anders & Co., positioning them as one of the most important bands of the genre (apart from their already important role in more extreme styles decades ago). Hence, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube to know more about them and of course about their music, and grab your copy of City Burials from several distinct locations by clicking HERE. I’ve recently read somewhere that City Burials is the perfect album to listen to at dawn, and after taken a few good listens at it I must agree with such beautiful comment about it. Well, I’m sure you’ll also have the same feeling while listening to it, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Behind the Blood, City Glaciers and Neon Epitaph.

Worst moments of the album: Lachesis.

Released in 2020 Peaceville Records

Track listing
1. Heart Set to Divide 5:29
2. Behind the Blood 4:37
3. Lacquer 4:42
4. Rein 4:28
5. The Winter of Our Passing 3:18
6. Vanishers 5:07
7. City Glaciers 5:42
8. Flicker 4:45
9. Lachesis 1:54
10. Neon Epitaph 4:32
11. Untrodden 4:29

Limited Edition bonus tracks
12. Closing of the Sky 5:24
13. Fighters (Enter The Hunt cover) 3:38

Band members
Jonas Renkse – vocals
Anders Nyström – guitars
Roger Öjersson – guitars
Niklas Sandin – bass
Daniel Moilanen – drums

Guest musicians
Anni Bernhard – vocals on “Vanishers”
Anders Eriksson – programming
Joakim Karlsson – drum programming on “Lacquer”