Album Review – Høstsol / Länge Leve Döden (2023)

A monumental celebration of the great Lord of Death in the form of dark and sinister 90’s Black Metal made in Scandinavia.

The Stygian project of Swedish vocalist Niklas Kvarforth (Shining), Norwegian guitarist Cernunnus (Manes), Finnish bassist Kalmos (Barathrum), and Finnish drummer Rainer Tuominkanto (Ajattara), Scandinavian Black Metal entity Høstsol, which by the way means “autumn sun” from Swedish, has just unleashed upon humanity their debut opus, entitled Länge Leve Döden, or “long live death”, an album conceived and recorded by people who have been molding the sounds of all things dark since the 90’s, and you can hear that experience and unconditional dedication in every note. Mastered by the legendary Andy LaRocque (King Diamond) at Sonic Train Studios, Länge Leve Döden is, according to the band itself, “our monumental celebration of the great Lord of Death. A perfect alignment of five songs that were written during an awful, unhealthy process over the course of two years. Expect Black Metal the way it used to feel and sound back in the early nineties, and rejoice!”

An eerie intro slowly evolves into the grim and dark As Seen Through The Eyes Of The Prophet, showcasing pensive lyrics (“A human life is worth less than nothing / So therefore I dream, night after night, / Dreams of putting an end to all materialistic desires, / And annihilate the despicable cosmic failures of the false prophet Jahve, / And through faith and fanatic devotion, crown the one true king”) and a beautiful Atmospheric Black Metal sound. Rainer sounds inhumane on drums, bringing endless heaviness to Det Som En Gång Var (Det Kommer Aldrig Igen), or “what once was (it will never be again)”, while Niklas vociferates beastly for our total delight during the song’s eight minutes of pure obscurity; followed by Länge Leve Den Ansiktslöse Mördaren, or “long live the faceless killer”, absolutely sinister from the very first second spearheaded by the vicious growls by Niklas and the always hammering beats by Rainer, not to mention the sulfurous riffs by Cernunnus. Then Gregorian chants ignite ten minutes of sheer Black Metal magic entitled Din Skördetid Är Nu Kommen, or “your harvest time has now come”, where Cernunnus is unstoppable with his classic riffage supported by the rumbling bass by Kalmos, sounding infernal and majestic from start to finish. And closing the album the quartet offers us all their hellish Black Metal with hints of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal in Parallellt Dubbelliv, or “parallel double life”, displaying a menacing ambience perfect for the demonic gnarls by Niklas.

There are several places where you can put your evil hands on Länge Leve Döden (which is by the way available in full on YouTube and on Spotify), including the band’s own Big Cartel, the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp page, Sound Cave (as a CD, an LP or a deluxe LP), The Sinister Initiative’s Big Cartel, Season of Mist (also as a CD or an LP), Shining Legions (yet again as a CD or an LP), or Apple Music. In addition, don’t forget to also start following such incendiary Scandinavian horde on Instagram, keeping up to date with all things Høstsol. Länge Leve Döden is indeed an amazing tribute to the Lord of Death, as the band stated, showcasing the reach and fire of Scandinavian Black Metal and, therefore, becoming the perfect soundtrack for the darkest days of our miserable lives.

Best moments of the album: Länge Leve Den Ansiktslöse Mördaren and Din Skördetid Är Nu Kommen.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2023 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. As Seen Through The Eyes Of The Prophet 9:31
2. Det Som En Gång Var (Det Kommer Aldrig Igen) 8:14
3. Länge Leve Den Ansiktslöse Mördaren 10:29
4. Din Skördetid Är Nu Kommen 8:44
5. Parallellt Dubbelliv 7:32

Band members
Niklas Kvarforth – vocals
Cernunnus – guitars
Kalmos – bass
Rainer Tuomikanto – drums

Album Review – Leper Colony / Leper Colony (2023)

***Review by Luke Hayhurst, writer for Morbid Wings (Print) ZineVM Underground Fanzine and Doom-Metal.com***

I’m very much of the opinion that Rogga Johansson doesn’t sleep! How can he sleep with a list of bands and projects that would keep a civil servant happy for a decade? His latest endeavour is the Death/Thrash Metal triumvirate Leper Colony, who have chosen Friday the 13th of January as a suitable date to unleash their debut self-titled album through Transcending Obscurity Records.

You can’t ask for a more powerful opener than The Human Paradox; a blistering track of intensive Death Metal ferocity and wild thrashing aggression. Deep growled vocals bring to life a very captivating chorus section whilst chugging riffs and frenzied drumming complete with punishing bass and extravagant guitar melodies. ‘Perdition’s End’ is a more direct and hard-hitting track with simpler riffs and in-your face vocals, though the rhythm guitar here has a cold tinge to it that is rather enigmatic.

There is little variation to this opus which spans just over the half an hour mark, save for the odd passage of slower, groovier rhythm such as during tracks like Rapture Addict. However, the ferocious aggression, raging guitar solos and fuck you attitude certainly make up for that! A very listenable album full to the gills with mighty riffs, energetic urgent drumming styles and unadulterated violence.

Best moments of the album: The roaring opener that is The Human Paradox.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2023 by Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. The Human Paradox 4:22
2. Perdition’s End 3:19
3. The Surgical Undeadvors 3:43
4. Tar and Feathers 3:15
5. Rapture Addict 4:40
6. Leper Colony 4:35
7. A Flow So Greatly Macabre 3:20
8. Flesh Crawl Demise 3:24
9. Gruesome End 2:55

Band members
Marc Grewe – vocals
Rogga Johansson – guitars, bass
Jon Skäre – drums

Links
Leper Colony Facebook | YouTube | BandCamp | Spotify | Apple Music | Amazon

Album Review – Tidal Wave / The Lord Knows (2023)

An impressive and memorable collection of songs that aims to fill each air particle with fire, fuzz and power by an up-and-coming Swedish Heavy Rock outfit.

Forged in 2019 in the fires of Sundsvall, a city and the seat of Sundsvall Municipality in Västernorrland County, Sweden, the Heavy Rock quartet that goes by the name of Tidal Wave is ready to crush our souls with their new album The Lord Knows, drawing from a fertile wellspring of influences including classic bands like Black Sabbath, Nirvana, and Audioslave. Comprised of Alexander ‘Sunkan’ Sundqvist on vocals, Jesper ‘Jerpo’ Sjödin on the guitars, Adam ‘Aden’ Nordin on bass, and Rasmus ‘Raz’ Sundberg on drums, Tidal Wave offer us all in their new album an impressive and memorable collection of songs that aims to fill each air particle with fire, fuzz and power, delivering epic solos for ages and mind-blowing vocals and, therefore, carving their names in the Swedish Heavy and Stoner Rock scene.

The dirty bass by Adam and the groovy riffage by Jesper kick off the rockin’ tune Lizard King, perfect for hitting the road due to its Heavy Rock sound with hints of Stoner and Sludge Metal, not to mention how powerful the vocals by Alexander sound. Then it’s pedal to the metal because it’s time for a Rock N’ Roll party titled End of the Line, a fast and electrifying tune showcasing an amazing job done by Rasmus on drums while Jesper keeps slashing our ears with his old school riffs; followed by Marijuana Trench, bringing forward six minutes of an acid musical trip for the masses. Needless to say, Alexander keeps kicking ass on vocals supported by the rumbling bass by Adam. And the band invests into an almost pure Stoner Metal sound in Pentagram, reminding me of giants of the genre such as Black Sabbath, Candlemass and Pentagram, with Rasmus dictating the song’s obscure pace with his sluggish beats.

Let’s bang our heads like there’s no tomorrow to the sound of Robbero Bobbero, sounding visceral and thrilling form start to finish with Alexander taking the lead with his sick vocals, while Jesper and Adam deliver a raw stringed attack for our total delight. Rasmus ignites another one of the band’s Heavy Rock onrush in By Order of the King, which despite starting as the soundtrack to an action movie car chase, it loses its punch after a while; whereas enhancing their heaviness to a whole new level they offer our avid ears the sinister, melancholic and grim Purple Bird, with Alexander once again stealing the show with his passionate vocal performance. And last but not least, it’s time for one final Heavy Rock tune infused with acid titled Thorsakir, again presenting the band’s trademark guitar dirtiness and doomed beats and with Adam being on fire armed with his bass, bringing groove and thunder to the music.

If you want to drown under the majestic waves of Heavy Rock crafted by those Swedish rockers, you can find all details about them on Facebook and on Instagram, and don’t forget to also stream their creations on YouTube and on Spotify, or simply click HERE for all things Tidal Wave. The excellent The Lord Knows, available for purchase from Ripple Music’s BandCamp page, webstore or Big Cartel (as a CD or as a deluxe vinyl edition), sets the bar high for Tidal Wave in their upcoming releases, living up to the legacy of Scandinavian Heavy Rock and, consequently, adding even more fuel to the band’s tank to keep on rockin’ in our free world.

Best moments of the album: End of the Line, Marijuana Trench and Robbero Bobbero.

Worst moments of the album: By Order of the King.

Released in 2023 Ripple Music

Track listing
1. Lizard King 4:08
2. End of the Line 3:34
3. Marijuana Trench 6:29
4. Pentagram 5:45
5. Robbero Bobbero 4:39
6. By Order of the King 5:38
7. Purple Bird 5:07
8. Thorsakir 5:57

Band members
Alexander ‘Sunkan’ Sundqvist – vocals
Jesper ‘Jerpo’ Sjödin – guitar
Adam ‘Aden’ Nordin – bass
Rasmus ‘Raz’ Sundberg – drums

Album Review – Wretched Fate / Carnal Heresy (2023)

***Review by Luke Hayhurst, writer for Morbid Wings (Print) ZineVM Underground Fanzine and Doom-Metal.com***

I find a lot of the cover art that is created by Skadvaldur to be very impressive, but the artwork for Carnal Heresy is a step above even his usual work. This is the sophomoric album from Swedish Death Metal band Wretched Fate and has been put out on CD and LP through those purveyors of all things excellent and dark, Redefining Darkness Records.

Right from the opening moments of Mind Desecrator the carnage on display is all encompassing. A sonically brutal apocalypse of malicious intent laden guitar tones combined with a deep and ominous sounding bass display, as well as a thuggish old school drumming style and gripping vocal work from frontman Adrian Selmani whose rumbling growls are harrowing and yet draw you into every chorus!

Whereas some Death Metal bands like to create a dark and gloomy atmosphere, Wretched Fate sticks doggedly to brutality over everything else, with a viciously technical underbelly in the form of twisting and writhing guitar rhythms. So whilst other bands are focusing on layered atmospherics, Wretched Fate are too busy chugging you into the abyss for any of that!

I wouldn’t expect anything less from an album entitled Carnal Heresy than a full blooded Death Metal beatdown, and these Swedish purveyors of riffs and decimation deliver up a grueling display of powerful and sickening hostility and barbaric violence.

Best moments of the album: I love how the vocals draw you into each chorus!

Worst moments of the album: Nothing, it’s a strong album in all areas.

Released in 2023 by Redefining Darkness Records

Track listing
1. Mind Desecrator 3:24
2. Momentary Suicide 3:25
3. Utterance from the Inhuman Tongue 3:05
4. Cry from Beyond 4:25
5. Umbilical Suffocation 5:26
6. Harlots for Suffering 4:02
7. Upon the Weak 4:40
8. Morbid Testament 4:36
9. Spineless Horror 5:55

Band members
Adrian Selmani – vocals
Mats Andersson – guitars, backing vocals
Fredrik Wikberg – guitars, guitar solo on “Utterance from the Inhuman Tongue”
Robin Magnusson – bass
Samuel Karlstrand – drums

Guest musicians
Alexander Högborn – additional vocals on “Utterance from the Inhuman Tongue”
Mikael Hanni – additional vocals on “Harlots for Suffering”

Links
Wretched Fate Official website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp | Spotify

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

Album Review – Golgata / Ur Eld Och Aska (2022)

***Review by Luke Hayhurst, writer for Morbid Wings (Print) ZineVM Underground Fanzine and Doom-Metal.com***

An intriguing band is Golgata. A two man affair who list themselves as Spokesman 1 and 2, and a compelling and evocative piece of cover art on their new album that brings back some very nostalgic feelings for some important 90’s Black Metal releases. Ur Eld Och Aska or in English “out of fire and ashes”, is the duo’s third album in four years and has been released on CD by Satanath Records, as was debut album Skam (“Shame”) and 2020’s Tempel (“Temple”).

It isn’t just the artwork that gives off those 90’s vibes. Listen to the opening title track and you’ll be transported back thirty years to murky and bleak guitar tones, grandiose drumming techniques and biting melodies. Throw in some menacing croaky vocals, chanted backing vocals and an unrelenting bass tone, and all the ingredients are present for a superb album.

Another aspect of this album that harks back to another era is the production. The vocals sit slightly lower than the drums and bass in the mix, as do the guitars. Rather than this being a simple mistake in the mastering, I’d say this feels like it has been done deliberately and rather than diminish the overall sound it actually adds a level of bleak charm to proceedings.

Whilst the opening track has a compelling, fluid sound to it, tracks such as Undersatar (“Subjects”) have a far more rigid and steely sound to the riffs, and songs such as Liv for en Gud (“Live for one God”) combine the bands penchant for the melodic with a hard nosed determined sound, often at a slower and more calculating tempo.

Don’t get me wrong when I mentioned the 90’s influence, this is no album playing out a nostalgia trip for the sake of it, rather Golgata play music that pays tribute to the past whilst decisively moving forward. Ur Eld Och Aska is a supreme slice of Melodic Black Metal craftsmanship; captivating and enthralling.

Best moments of the album: The artwork is stunning, and the whole atmosphere of the album is captivating.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 by Satanath Records

Track listing
1. Ur Eld Och Aska 4:31
2. Undersåtar 4:13
3. Liv För En Gud 4:12
4. Vagabond 6:20
5. Återkomst 3:42
6. En Sista Synd Innan Fallet 4:29
7. Marvatten 4:22
8. Vagabond II 1:26

Band members
Spokesman 2 (Niclas Ankarbranth) – vocals, guitars, bass, drums
Spokesman 1 (S.) – guitars

Guest musicians
Jonas Olsson – mandolin (track 4, 6) on “Vagabond” and “En Sista Synd Innan Fallet”
Mari Biäre Howerdal – female vocals (track 1, 6, 7) on “Ur Eld Och Aska”, “En Sista Synd Innan Fallet” and “Marvatten”

Links
Golgata Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp | Spotify

Album Review – Faustus / Memoriam (2022)

One of the most interesting names of the current Swedish scene will crush your skull with their new album, blending their trademark Deathcore with tons of progressiveness and groove.

Hailing from Bollnäs, a Swedish locality and the seat of Bollnäs Municipality in Gävleborg County, Sweden, the up-and-coming Deathcore outfit known as Faustus plays what they like to call “a freight-train-full-of-sledgehammers-headed-straight-towards-your-whole-family” sound, adding elements from Death Metal, Progressive Metal and Djent, among others, to their vicious core sonority. Now in 2022 the band comprised of Ludvig Setterlind on vocals, Anton Pärlenskog and Mattias Lövhaga on the guitars, Nils Hedberg on bass and Oskar Pärlenskog on drums is ready to attack armed with their sophomore effort, entitled Memoriam, following up on their 2018 debut album Laments of an Obscure Mind. Produced, mixed and mastered by Robert Kukla at Obsidian Recording Studios, and displaying a classic artwork by Jani Stefanovic of Dreamdecipher Productions, “this album can be regarded as a tribute/homage to what has been. Both in regards to people from our past as well as things in life that have had a big impact on us. We felt that we needed an outlet for these feelings and took to our trade of choice to fulfil that need, and here we are. The music in itself is fuelled by these feelings and brings a sort of anger and sorrow. Not a gloomy one mind you, but more something that represents honour. With that said, we didn’t skimp out on the groove or heaviness of the music, no it’s quite the contrary. It’s our best and most complete album yet,” commented the band.

In the opening tune Deprived of Liberty we’re treated to a groovy riff attack by Anton and Mattias accompanied by the thunderous bass by Nils, kicking off the album on a high note and flowing into the also visceral Psychogenic, with Ludvig roaring and screaming in anger nonstop while Oskar dictates the pace with his pounding drums, sounding as heavy as it is intricate and melodic. Let’s keep banging our heads to the sound of Anhedonia, where Nils and Oskar sound like an earthquake together, therefore providing Ludvig with all he needs to scream manically, whereas Existence, Death? begins in the most Progressive Metal way possible, morphing into another solid tune where all instruments sound sharp, caustic and detailed. And following such pulverizing tune, The Creation of What’s Called Hell is an infernal Deathcore and Death Metal creation spiced up by its sinister lyrics (“In utter darkness / Death is my only friend / Corrupting everything / Tearing the soul apart / In the silence I scream / Rots with the corpses / No incoming sources / Creating what’s called hell”).

Ludvig continues to growl like a beast in Architect of Ruin, more modern than its predecessors with the guitars by Anton and Mattias piercing our ears mercilessly; and blending elements from the Melodic Death Metal by bands such as Arch Enemy and Soilwork in their sonority Faustus offer us all Sleep, once again hammering our heads with their venomous drums and bass. Then leaning towards contemporary Groove Metal we have Tempus, sounding darker and more demonic than the rest of the album and with Ludvig stealing the spotlight with his devilish roars; while Obscurity is slightly generic compared to the other songs albeit still presenting the band’s core sonority, with the guitars by Anton and Mattias sounding incendiary. Back to a more obscure sound, it’s time for the band to blast the multi-layered From the Beginning to the End where Nils is as usual fantastic on bass while Oskar keeps the energy level truly high with his beats, morphing into the atmospheric outro XI, putting a serene and pensive ending to Memoriam.

If you want to enjoy all the fury and melody blasted by Faustus in Memoriam you can stream the album in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course purchase it by clicking HERE or HERE. Also, don’t forget to give the guys a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their visceral music. The Swedish metallers from Faustus did a very good job with Memoriam, blending a vast array of styles into their trademark Deathcore without losing their essence and without sounding confusing; as a matter of fact, I would love to see more of their experimentations and progressiveness in their upcoming albums as those elements brought a very welcome touch to their music, placing them among the most interesting names of the modern metal scene without a shadow of a doubt.

Best moments of the album: Psychogenic, The Creation of What’s Called Hell and Tempus.

Worst moments of the album: Obscurity.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Deprived of Liberty 3:56
2. Psychogenic 5:01
3. Anhedonia 3:29
4. Existence, Death? 4:41
5. The Creation of What’s Called Hell 5:58
6. Architect of Ruin 4:15
7. Sleep 3:57
8. Tempus 4:06
9. Obscurity 3:19
10. From the Beginning to the End 5:43
11. XI 2:44

Band members
Ludvig Setterlind – vocals
Anton Pärlenskog – guitar
Mattias Lövhaga – guitar
Nils Hedberg – bass
Oskar Pärlenskog – drums

Concert Review – Amon Amarth (History, Toronto, ON, 12/02/2022)

A beautiful night where all Vikings of Toronto put their backs into the oar and rowed in the name of heavy music together with the one and only Amon Amarth. 

OPENING ACTS: Cattle Decapitation, Obituary and Carcass

The last concert of 2022 (at least for me) couldn’t have been any better, as Toronto had the pleasure of hosting The Great Heathen Tour 2022 at this amazing new venue called History, which was by the way inaugurated in November 2021 and belongs to Toronto’s own rapper Drake, with the bands CATTLE DECAPITATION, OBITUARY, CARCASS and the unstoppable heathen horde AMON AMARTH. The venue is in a nice area of the city, near the beaches, with plenty of parking options and decent places to eat nearby such as The Burger’s Priest, making the whole experience a lot more enjoyable than going to a concert at Rebel, for example.

And everything was so well-organized, from the line to get into the venue to the merch booths, bars and coat check, that between the doors opening at 5:30pm and the first concert I had time to do all that and still had 15-20min left before American Progressive Death Metal/Grindcore outfit CATTLE DECAPITATION hit the stage at 6:30pm sharp with their vicious sonic attack. Still promoting their 2019 album Death Atlas, the band spearheaded by frontman Travis Ryan needed less than a minute to inspire the crowd to create a massive circle pit in the middle of the floor section, and that circle pit went on and on until the very end of their concert (and of the entire night, I might say). Moreover, although their setlist was extremely short, it was solid enough to put a smile on the faces of their diehard fans, with the pulverizing Bring Back the Plague being the icing on the cake of their great performance.

Setlist
Anthropogenic: End Transmission
The Geocide
Vulturous
The Great Dying Pt. II
Finish Them
We Eat Our Young
Time’s Cruel Curtain
Bring Back the Plague

Band members
Travis Ryan – vocals
Josh Elmore – lead guitars
Belisario Dimuzio – rhythm guitars
Olivier Pinard – bass
David McGraw – drums

If you’re familiar with the laws, rules and regulations in Toronto you know that most concerts must finish by 11pm depending on the neighborhood where the venue is located, so you can imagine that with four amazing bands like the ones from last night there weren’t any huge breaks in between bands. That being said, I had time to grab a quick beer before one of the biggest Death Metal institutions of all time, the unstoppable OBITUARY, began their insane performance led by the iconic vocalist John Tardy and the crushing drums by his younger brother Donald Tardy. It was again a short but precise and infernal performance by those American death metallers, blending their old school stuff the likes of I’m in Pain with a brand new song from their upcoming 2023 album Dying of Everything, the demolishing The Wrong Time, and by the reaction of the crowd to each and every song played by Obituary we know they’ll keep moving forward no matter what for many years to come. Needless to say, I can’t wait for Dying of Everything next year.

Setlist
Snortin’ Whiskey (Pat Travers Band song)
Redneck Stomp
Sentence Day
A Lesson in Vengeance
Visions in My Head
Circle of the Tyrants (Celtic Frost cover)
The Wrong Time
I’m in Pain
Don’t Care

Band members
John Tardy – vocals
Kenny Andrews – lead guitars
Trevor Peres – rhythm guitars
Terry Butler – bass
Donald Tardy – drums

Another short break, another beer, and then it was finally time for my first ever face-to-face meeting with England’s own Melodic Death Metal/Death ‘n’ Roll trailblazers CARCASS, one of the very few bands I’ve always been a fan of but that I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing live. Still promoting their fantastic 2021 album Torn Arteries, Jeff Walker, Bill Steer, Tom Draper and Daniel Wilding put on a marvelous show for the delight of all fans at the venue, igniting some sick mosh pits to the sound of Incarnated Solvent Abuse, This Mortal Coil, Genital Grinder, and my favorite Carcass song of all time, Heartwork. Hopefully, Carcass will keep delivering amazing material such as Torn Arteries in the coming years, which means more world tours of course, because Toronto loves Carcass and we’re eager to see them again in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (Intro)
Buried Dreams
Kelly’s Meat Emporium
Incarnated Solvent Abuse
Under the Scalpel Blade
This Mortal Coil
Dance of Ixtab (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No. 1 in B)
Genital Grinder
The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing
Corporal Jigsore Quandary
Heartwork
Carneous Cacoffiny (Outro)

Band members
Jeff Walker – vocals, bass
Bill Steer – guitars, backing vocals
Tom Draper – guitars
Daniel Wilding – drums

AMON AMARTH

At long last, just like what happened with Cannibal Corpse, the unparalleled Swedish Melodic Death Metal horde AMON AMARTH was finally able to return to Canada after three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the wait was beyond worth it as their concert yesterday in Toronto was superb to say the least. Those Swedish Vikings kicked some serious ass from the very first second of the classic Guardians of Asgaard (and yes, they’re starting their shows this tour already with a bang), with frontman Johan Hegg being on fire with his deep roars and a very respectful beard. All songs form their 2022 album The Great Heathen Army sounded fantastic live, in special the title-track The Great Heathen Army, adding an extra taste to their incendiary setlist full of classic songs including Destroyer of the Universe and Shield Wall.

The most memorable moment for all fans at the venue was undoubtedly when the band played their new hit Put Your Back Into the Oar, when halfway through it the whole floor section sat down and began rowing like in a Viking ship. That was amazing, really, really fun, proving Amon Amarth are one of those bands that know exactly how to captivate their audiences and interact with each and every fan in the most exciting way possible. If you’re attending one of their upcoming concerts, don’t forget to join the rowing. Their music is awesome, their stage is getting better and better with each tour, but the rowing is something so unique I think it should be mandatory for anyone who purchases a ticket to participate. I can’t wait for the next time Amon Amarth takes the city of Toronto by storm, and I’ll surely be there to put my back into the oar again! ROW! ROW! ROW!

It’s always great to enjoy a night of heavy music in Toronto, to share a few beers with your friends, and to see several familiar faces in the crowd. However, there was one of those familiar faces missing, and it was THE MOST familiar face of the Toronto metal scene. Our beloved super metal fan Walter Froeberich passed away on November 26 after trying to get help for nearly ten days for a serious abdominal pain, but he was allegedly sent home with just some antibiotics and, sadly, died at home in the end. His closest friends organized a protest in front of St. Joseph’s Hospital today demanding justice for Walter, and I really hope something is done to make sure that type of situation doesn’t ever happen again with anyone else in Toronto. I didn’t formally know Walter, but I’ve shared the pit with him many, many times and I’ll miss him in all future concerts in the city. When Amon Amarth played the excellent Raise Your Horns, I raised my horns for Walter, and I’m sure one day I’ll say hello to him in person when we meet in Valhalla again.

Setlist
Run to the Hills (Iron Maiden song)
Guardians of Asgaard
Raven’s Flight
Deceiver of the Gods
Oden Owns You All
The Pursuit of Vikings
The Great Heathen Army
Get in the Ring
Destroyer of the Universe
Put Your Back Into the Oar
Cry of the Black Birds
The Way of Vikings
First Kill
Shield Wall
Raise Your Horns

Encore:
Twilight of the Thunder God

Band members
Johan Hegg – vocals
Olavi Mikkonen – lead guitar
Johan Söderberg – rhythm guitar
Ted Lundström – bass
Jocke Wallgren – drums

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 – Jordfäst / Av Stoft (2022)

A ruthless Swedish Black Metal duo returns with their sophomore opus, telling sobering tales of human struggles against societal norms and religious oppression, and the fight for the right to determine one’s own fate.

An old Swedish word for being buried, loosely translated to ”attached to soil”, Jordfäst is also the name of a Skåne, Sweden-based Black Metal duo who unearth the grim past of the Scandinavian peninsula in their songs, channeling the long-forgotten cries of people that once lived. Now in 2022 it’s time for vocalist Olof Bengtsson and multi-instrumentalist Elis Edin Markskog, supported by session drummer Joakim Unger, to unleash upon humanity their sophomore opus entitled Av Stoft, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2021 debut full-length album Hädanfärd. Epic and dreaming, conjuring up soundscapes comparable to genre greats such as Ulver, Saiva, and Primordial, Av Stoft, which is Swedish for “of dust”, continues where Hädanefter left off, with folky melodies and theatrical narratives woven into a solid backbone of Black Metal. Recorded at Studio Wheelmust, mixed and mastered by William Blackmon at The Overlook, and featuring guest vocals by Joakim Svensson of Skogen, the album is comprised of two songs which have a combined playing time of 33 minutes, telling sobering tales of human struggles against societal norms and religious oppression, and the fight for the right to determine one’s own fate, with its gloomy layers interspersed with searing melodies reflecting a reality as unforgiving as the northern winter.

Eerie voices are suddenly joined by the massive beats by Joakim in Abortologen (“the abortologist”, from Swedish), bringing to our damned ears over 16 minutes of Scandinavian Black Metal infused with Folk and Doom Metal nuances where Olof roars manically in the name of pure evil, while Elis crafts a beyond caustic and visceral sound with his riffs, bass and keys, not to mention his guitar solos are a thing of beauty, enhancing the song’s epicness and electricity considerably. Put differently, it’s imposing and violent from start to finish, being therefore tailored for admirers of the genre while also ending in a serene way to the sound of a piano. The second song of the album, Kom Eld, Kom Regn (“come fire, come rain”), offers our ears pure Scandinavian Black Metal flowing from the very first second, with its vocalizations adding an extra touch of darkness to the overall result. Furthermore, the song brings forward a headbanging pace led by the strident riffage by Elis while Joakim hammers his drums in great fashion, and the music alternates between sheer aggressiveness and more melodic, Stygian moments. Not only that, Olof sounds absolutely bestial with his enraged roars, without a single second left empty throughout its 17 minutes of Scandinavian awesomeness that builds up to a sinister, epic and chilling ending.

“With Av Stoft we took a more timeless approach by implementing themes which have always been part of humanity’s history and shaped our society. Concepts pertaining to life and death; the right of the lone individual to either end or start one or the other as he sees fit, as well as the consequences that might follow. As on Hädanefter, the stories are told from several perspectives and depict everything from personal suffering to the relentless forces of nature – all of which are indifferent to our suffering and just biding their time to sweep us away, once and for all,” commented the duo about their newborn spawn, which will soon be available for purchase from the band’s own BandCamp page and from Nordvis Produktion, as well as for streaming on Spotify. Hence, don’t forget to start following Olof and Elis on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with all things Jordfäst, letting the obscure tales told by the duo in Av Stoft crawl dep inside your mind while they keep carrying the flag of Scandinavian Black Metal armed with their austere music for many decades to come.

Best moments of the album: Kom Eld, Kom Regn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. Abortologen 16:08
2. Kom Eld, Kom Regn 16:59

Band members
Olof Bengtsson – vocals
Elis Edin Markskog – guitar, bass, keyboards, backing vocals

Guest musicians
Joakim Unger – drums (session)
Joakim Svensson – additional vocals