Album Review – Heterogeneous Andead / Chaotic Fragments (2022)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: Licking.

Released in 2022 WormHoleDeath

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

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

Metal Chick of the Month – Haruka Morikawa

A beautiful Japanese nightmare!

As we’re getting closer and closer to the end of another year of pure fuckin’ metal, let’s keep banging our heads nonstop to another extremely talented woman from the underground scene, this time hailing from Japan, or as several people like to call it, the “Land of the Rising Sun”. Easily switching between deep, demonic growls and an angelic, operatic voice, our metal lady of the month of November has been making a strong impact not only on the underground scene in her homeland, but her voice has been echoing all over the world and, therefore, attracting the attention of a wide variety of headbangers worldwide. I’m talking about Haruka Morikawa, also simply known as Haruka, the lead singer for Japanese Melodic/Symphonic Electro Death/Thrash Metal band Heterogeneous Andead, and just by the name of the band and the type of music they play you know you’re in for a treat in our humble tribute to such unique vocalist.

Born and raised in Japan, the skillful Haruka has been the voice of Tokyo’s own Heterogeneous Andead since April 2014, when the band’s current style reached its desired shape and form. However, the band was formed a little before that, though, starting as a project named Andead by founder and multi-instrumentalist Yusuke Kiyama in 2012, changing its name to Heterogeneous Andead in 2013 when they started playing some live concerts. Singing about caustic topics such as sorrow, grief and despair, Heterogeneous Andead have already released one EP and two full-length albums in their career, those being their 2015 debut EP Undead, the 2017 album Deus Ex Machina, and now in 2022 the album Chaotic Fragments, which will be reviewed by The Headbanging Moose sooner than you can say “Japan” and is already available for purchasing HERE. In addition to those, the band was also featured in the compilations Fear Candy 150 (Terrorizer Magazine, 2015), 嘘。(BM Records, 2015), Bad Wish (BM Records, 2015), Halloween – Trick Or Treat (BM Records, 2015), Imperative Music Compilation DVD Vol. 14 (Imperative Music, 2017), and Metal Japan Heavy Chains Vol.5 TieUp ConneXion #2 (Metal Japan Records, 2019).

Heterogeneous Andead have been suffering with several lineup changes lately, with guitarist Sho and bassist Takashi Onitake leaving the band in December 2021 and drummer Tomoyuki Nakano also leaving the band in July this year, which means Yusuke and Haruka are currently searching for a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer to join them in their quest for heavy music. I’m sure they’ll find some talented musicians to be part of the band soon, and until then you can enjoy Haruka’s unique vocals in the official videos for the amazing songs Denied, Automaton and Fission, as well as live recordings of the songs Demise of Reign, Flash of Calamity and Denied live at WildSideTokyo on September 16, 2019, and Unleashed live on February 11, 2017 at Shinjuku Head Power. Furthermore, you can always stream all of the band’s creations on Spotify as well.

An admirer of Classical Music, Jazz, Electronic Pop, Brutal Death Metal and Grindcore, the stunning Haruka doesn’t only mesmerize us all with her mezzo-soprano vocals, singing like an angel, and with her guttural growls and screeches, sounding like a devil, but she also makes sure her looks on stage are in sync with the music being played. According to her bandmate Yusuke, the concept of costumes is basically darkness or gorgeousness influenced by Japanese visual kei, a movement among Japanese musicians that is characterized by the use of varying levels of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynous aesthetics, similar to Western Glam Rock. Simply watch the aforementioned videos of the band, as well as their live performances, and you’ll see the incredible fusion of music and visuals in their creations.

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Owner of a natural Anime voice (according to the band itself), when asked about how she manages to go from her growls to her mezzo-soprano voice (and back) in seconds without having any sort of vocal issues, Haruka said she has already found the perfect way to switch from one style to another, complementing she has never lost her voice due to that extreme change. In one of her interviews our beloved vocalist said that although she didn’t feel her voice was the most remarkable piece of her identity in the beginning, she now understands and feels the power of her voice as part of her character, saying that it was Yusuke who inspired her to sing both harsh and clean vocals when she first joined the band. It was a challenge for her at first, of course, but Yusuke made sure he adapted part of the band’s style to match with her abilities, resulting in a win-win situation for both him and Haruka as the music by Heterogeneous Andead sounds fantastic nowadays. If you’re in Japan you might be lucky enough to witness them playing live, which occurs only once or twice a month, and despite not filling up big venues yet they certainly have a decent amount of followers that always attend their concerts.

Regarding the metal scene in Japan and how well their unique type of Extreme Metal is accepted in the country, Haruka mentioned during an interview that she can see metal bands having issues playing in countries or regions where the catholic church is very strong, but that’s not a problem in Japan as most of the Japanese population doesn’t follow any religion (or at least they don’t follow it blindly, I might say). What’s interesting is that Haruka is a Protestant Christian herself (and she mentioned only 1% of the country is Christian, by the way), but fortunately music and religion are not connected in any particular way in Japan. She also said that because she follows a Christian way of living she believes she can better express herself when singing with Heterogeneous Andead, externalizing all the sorrow and grief from the lyrics in great fashion.

You can watch a few fun and informative interviews on YouTube with Haruka, who’s by the way a big fan of our beloved monster Godzilla. For example, you can enjoy this nice interview to Antichrist Magazine in 2018 where Haruka and Yusuke talk about their previous album Deus Ex Machina; and this one to the Argentinian webzine Territorio Rock, also in 2018. And last but not least, anytime you watch a live performance by Haruka with Heterogeneous Andead you’ll certainly notice her movements are very theatrical, adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result. The reason for that is that not only Haruka was part of plays and musicals when she was a student, but she also practiced Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art that is split into many different styles, during her childhood, allowing her to improve the visual effects of her personal performance while singing at the same time. In other words, don’t mess with Haruka or you’ll get your ass kicked, got it? Simply relax and enjoy her unique vocals to the fullest, proving how much Japan is and will always be one of the most creative countries in the world when the music in question is Heavy Metal.

Haruka Morikawa’s Official Twitter
Heterogeneous Andead’s Official Facebook page
Heterogeneous Andead’s Official YouTube channel
Heterogeneous Andead’s Official Twitter

Album Review – Diabolical Raw / Elegy of Fire Dusk (2022)

Behold this grandiose album of Symphonic Black and Death Metal, telling a deep and detailed story inspired by ancient Central Asian Turkish mythology.

Having entered the Turkish Extreme Metal scene in the city of Izmir in the now distant year of 1998 under the name Diabolical and currently located in Hanover, Germany, the fantastic Symphonic Black/Death Metal duo now known as Diabolical Raw, comprised of vocalist Ozan Erkmen and multi-instrumentalist Ozan Tunc, is back from the pits of hell with their sophomore full-length opus, the imposing and epic Elegy of Fire Dusk, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2019 album Estrangement. Recorded, mixed and mastered by the band itself, and displaying a sinister yet gorgeous artwork by Mukadder “Muko” Karaoğlan, the album tells a story inspired by ancient Central Asian Turkish mythology that develops around Kaygun, the daughter of a small clan leader, showing that not only the music found in the album is grandiose, but there’s also a lot of depth in its lyrics.

Middle-Eastern elements spice up the bold, obscure intro Revelations, opening the gates of the underworld for the duo to crush our souls in Commands of the Gods, with Ozan Tunc generating a menacing ambience with his riffs, drums and all orchestrations, resulting in an imposing Dimmu Borgir-style aria showcasing the demonic vocal potency by Ozan Erkmen. Wise Old Woman is another blast of obscurity in the form of top-notch Symphonic Extreme Metal that feels like the soundtrack to a hellish horror movie, where Ozan Tunc sounds possessed by an evil entity behind his drums; and there’s no time to breathe as the duo’s fusion of Black Metal with symphonic elements and a Stygian storytelling is offered to us all in Entry into Erlik’s Hell, with Ozan Tunc extracting sheer darkness from his guitars, bass and drums while Ozan Erkmen roars and barks manically for our total delight. They keep guiding us through the realms of Turkish mythology in the incendiary aria Tilgen’s Fall, blending the most pulverizing elements of classic Black Metal with pure symphony, and get ready to be decimated by the duo in Face the Judgement, a brilliant Symphonic Black and Death Metal extravaganza spearheaded by the massive, unstoppable beats by Ozan Tunc, flowing into the instrumental interlude Uprising, which will captivate our senses before we’re treated to Talking With Gods, sounding as if it was taken directly form the soundtrack to an epic, demonic movie, with Ozan Tunc being simply majestic throughout the entire song.

No sign of slowing down as Diabolical Raw keep hammering our heads with their Symphonic Black Metal in The Invincible Army, where the wicked, evil vociferations by Ozan Erkmen will haunt your soul for all eternity while Ozan Tunc generates a beautiful wall of sounds in the background. Then an otherworldly roar by Ozan Erkmen kick off the infernal tune The Last War With Evil, the perfect combination of the rawness and violence of traditional Black Metal riffs with the finesse of Symphonic Black Metal, reminding me of some of the most visceral creations by Cradle of Filth, followed by its second part entitled The Last War With Evil II, once again exploding our senses with their somber sounds and wicked vociferations. Put differently, I must say that Ozan Erkmen might be one of the best Extreme Metal vocalists of the current scene. The Council at the Asar Land is one of the most symphonic and detailed of all songs, a flawless fusion of heaviness and orchestral elements thanks to a brilliant job done by Ozan Tunc, in special his venomous blast beats, before the album ends with the cinematic outro Epic Grandeur, putting a classy finale to all the madness and obscurity crafted by the duo.

In a nutshell, Diabolical Raw simply nailed it with Elegy of Fire Dusk, one of the best Extreme Metal albums of 2022 hands down, and if you want to show your support to such talented duo you can start following them on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel and stream more of their hellish creations on Spotify, and of course, above all that, purchase a copy of such awesome album from their own BandCamp page or from the Base Record Production’s BandCamp page. Do you think you have what it takes to face ancient Central Asian Turkish mythology in the form of Symphonic Black and Death Metal? If your answer is yes, don’t waste your time and go prove to Diabolical Raw that you’re a loyal servant of the dark side of music, inspiring the duo to keep embellishing the airwaves with their unparalleled music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Commands of the Gods, Entry into Erlik’s Hell, Face the Judgement and The Last War With Evil.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Base Record Production

Track listing
1. Revelations 2:31
2. Commands of the Gods 6:18
3. Wise Old Woman 5:33
4. Entry into Erlik’s Hell 8:02
5. Tilgen’s Fall 7:19
6. Face the Judgement 6:06
7. Uprising 2:06
8. Talking With Gods 6:37
9. The Invincible Army 5:54
10. The Last War With Evil 8:30
11. The Last War With Evil II 7:42
12. The Council at the Asar Land 7:45
13. Epic Grandeur 2:36

Band members
Ozan Erkmen – vocals
Ozan Tunc – all instruments

Metal Chick of the Month – Haley Roughton

We are food for a predator… immobilized, we die this night!

Houston, we have Heavy Metal. And it’s not just Heavy Metal, but a bold and electrifying fusion of extreme music with symphonic elements and movie scores, and if you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about I’m sure our metal lady of the month of September will help you with that. Not only an extremely talented vocalist capable of flowing from the most demonic growls to clean, groovy vocals, she also works as a spacesuit instructor and flight controller at NASA, which gives you an idea of her wide range of skills and level of intellect and energy. I’m talking about the multi-talented vocalist Haley Roughton, the frontwoman for Houston, Texas-based Symphonic/Melodic Death Metal horde The Xebellian Triangle. I bet you’re curious to know more about Haley, her work with The Xebellian Triangle and with NASA, her other music projects and so on, so get ready for a wild ride with such up-and-coming name of the current metal scene.

Before we head into her current adventure with The Xebellian Triangle, let’s take a step back and know more about her studies and career, just to give you a taste of how smart and focused Haley is and how she also applies those strengths into her music. As aforementioned, Haley has been very busy with projects and assignments at her workplace at NASA, having recently been certified as a flight controller and having already been an intern at the Avionic Systems Division (Command and Data Handling), working with MSP430 microcontroller, C language, QNAP API, HTTP protocol, general computer networks and programming microcontrollers in C in the development of software/drivers for a network-attached storage (NAS) device interfacing to the MPS430 microcontroller for the Modular Integrated Stackable Layers (MISL) project. Not only that, she was also an intern a few years ago for a company called Magaw Medical, in Texas, laying the foundations for a wireless, HD video laryngoscope, and also a student researcher at Texas Christian University, where by the way she graduated in Engineering with Electrical Emphasis. Moreover, she’s awesome in LTSpice/PSpice, MS Excel, C, MATLAB and Inventor/AutoCAD, among other technical skills needed in her career.

Do you think Haley is a nerd or geek after reading about her career? Well, yes, but of course she’s proud of that, and when you listen to her vocals with her bandmates from The Xebellian Triangle you’ll then realize she’s not just a nerd, but a badass nerd. Currently formed of Haley on vocals, who joined the band in the spring of 2021, alongside Ivy Jayne Lance (Suicide Pandemic, The Crypt Alive, The Isdal Cadaver, Remnants of Izanagi) on the guitars, Hakeem De Hoyos on bass, and Aron Hetsko (Aethereus, The Crypt Alive, Dorzia) on drums, The Xebellian Triangle were formed back in 2019 by Ivy and Aron, who had their initial band together in high school and after several years  met up to talk about how it would be great to finish their old songs, put them out and play them live, leading to the birth of The Xebellian Triangle, with their sound being inspired by renowned acts the likes of Amon Amarth, The Black Dahlia Murder, Epica, Dimmu Borgir and Fleshgod Apocalypse, among several others. After releasing a few singles starting in December 2021, The Xebellian Triangle (also referred to as TXT) released in the beginning of July their debut full-length opus, entitled At the Banks of the Rubicon (which is by the way available in full on Spotify), offering us all nine songs of first-class Melodic and Symphonic Death Metal with Haley kicking some serious ass on vocals, as you can witness in the songs Dracarys, with Haley being also responsible for its lyrics and arrangements (and which also has a very nice vocal playthrough by our metal diva on YouTube), and Confirmed.

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Sometimes labeled by the band itself as “The Black Dahlia Murder meets Hans Zimmer”, the music by The Xebellian Triangle is highly influenced by fantasy books, movies and series the likes of The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and The Witcher, among several others, as well as games such as World of Warcraft, which Haley plays (or at least used to play) on her free time, and sci-fi and horror films including John Carpenter’s The Thing, one of Haley’s favorite horror movies of all time. As already mentioned, Haley was involved in the development of some of the album lyrics and arranging patterns during the recording process by offering different perspectives, and if you click HERE you’ll have access not only to the band’s top-of-the-line creations, but also to their tour dates, merch, social media links and so on, seeing how focused and hardworking the entire band is and how they added all of those influences into their music. As you can see in Haley’s influences as well as in the rest of The Xebellian Triangle’s, they are all kind of nerds with their own varying preferences, including the aforementioned books, movies, shows, games and other things like anime, but Hailey also brings to the band elements from R&B thanks to her vocal training, adding more clean singing spots where they fit in the music by The Xebellian Triangle. Moreover, the band also tries to speak on things that are important to them such as feminism, the fight for racial equality, gay rights, trans rights, and supporting methods that build a greener, cleaner, safer, fairer world.

Always developing a portfolio of covers to show off her vocal ranges both clean and harsh on her YouTube channel, including Take This Lonely Heart, by Nothing But Thieves, Out of Time, by Skyharbor, and Holy Roller, by Spiritbox, Haley has also been part of a Death Metal band named Dorzia since 2021, having already recorded with them the singles  Blood Portrait, Looking In and Deity’s Grasp, with all three songs demonstrating Haley’s flexibility in her extreme vocals from gutturals to piercing high screams. Calling themselves “sonic brutality from Houston, Texas”, this six-piece act fronted by Haley has a lot of potential to grow in the coming years, and I can’t wait to see if their first ever EP or full-length album will become a reality in a not-so-distant future. In addition, just like what was mentioned about The Xebellian Triangle, you can find all details, important links and other shenanigans about Dorzia by clicking HERE. Furthermore, in addition to her recent work with The Xebellian Triangle and Dorzia, Haley was also featured as a guest vocalist in the song Oubliette, released in November 2021 as a single by an Austin, Texas-based Deathcore outfit named Snake Father, and let me tell you that Haley simply stole the show with her infernal she-wolf growls.

Regarding their live performance, The Xebellian Triangle always bring a lot of energy to the stage, with Haley loving to run and jump around, therefore engaging with the crowd whenever possible, not to mention Haley and Ivy both have stage clothes they wear to keep a recurring image. The band mentioned in one of their interviews that they plan to expand further in this and always want to bring new and exciting things to the live show, and we all know that usually translates into some extra awesomeness to the performance of any band. There are no current dates scheduled for The Xebellian Triangle for the rest of 2022 due to personal reasons, though, such as Haley doing some travelling on her own, but I’m sure it won’t take long for The Xebellian Triangle to take your city by storm. Hence, I wouldn’t miss the chance to see them live if I were you simply because you’ll be able to see one of the most exciting new names of the current American metal scene, fronted by a multi-talented woman who’s eager to scream and roar in your face and show you that no matter what happens, the stage is hers.

Haley Roughton’s Official Instagram
The Xebellian Triangle’s Official Facebook page
The Xebellian Triangle’s Official Instagram
The Xebellian Triangle’s Official YouTube channel
The Xebellian Triangle’s Official Twitter

Album Review – Depressed Mode / Decade of Silence (2022)

One of the most interesting names of the underground Finnish scene returns to action after almost 13 years with a brand new album of stunning and symphonic Doom Metal.

Established in Pori, a city and municipality on the west coast of Finland, in 2005 by vocalist and composer Otto Salonen, the amazing Symphonic Death/Doom Metal act known as Depressed Mode is set to release their long-awaited third full-length album Decade of Silence, almost 13 years after ..for Death.., released in 2009. Recorded by the band’s guitarist Teemu Heinola and the aforementioned Otto Salonen at Ansa Studio, mixed by the same Teemu, and mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox Studios, Decade of Silence will bring a humungous dosage of symphony and doom to your avid ears, showcasing all the talent and passion for heavy music by Otto and Teemu together with their bandmates Henri Hakala on bass and Iiro Aittokoski on drums.

Death Walks Among Us is sinister and obscure from the very first second, with the orchestrations by Otto giving it a cinematic vibe while his deep guttural will haunt your damned souls for all eternity, all spiced up by the vicious riffs by Teemu. Then featuring Veronica Bordacchini of Fleshgod Apocalypse as a guest vocalist, Endless November starts in the most lugubrious way possible, evolving into a sluggish, phantasmagorical Doom Metal song with Blackened Doom nuances, not to mention all symphonic elements sound and feel majestic; whereas back to a heavier and more symphonic mode it’s time for Iiro to dictate the pace with his pounding drums in Dissociation of the Extinguished Mind, featuring a guest guitar solo by Jarkko Kokko of Mors Principium Est. Veronica is back in As the Light Dims, another bold, multi-layered creation by Depressed Mode that starts in a serene way to the sounds of the piano and cello, offering our ears nine nocturnal minutes of stunning Doom Metal.

Just as imposing and grim as its predecessors,  Parasites of Mind explodes into a brutal fusion of Symphonic and Death Metal led by the venomous riffs by Teemu and the inhumane roars by Otto, smashing your cranial skull without a single drop of mercy, whereas drinking from the darkest fountain of Doom Metal you can think of, Kaamos (Land of Winter) brings forward the pounding beats by Iiro and the crushing riffs by Teemu, penetrating deep inside your soul while more of their sluggish, grim sounds permeate the air in Serpents, with sheer darkness flowing from both Otto’s vocals and Henri’s hammering bass. Eternal Darkness is another stunning creation featuring Veronica’s mesmerizing vocals, with the orchestrations by Otto sounding beautifully haunting while Iiro pulverizes his drums in a lesson in Symphonic Doom Metal. Finally, prepare your senses for 12 minutes of atmospheric passages, darkened skies and endless heaviness in the form of Aeternus, where Otto’s deep guttural brings a touch of Blackened Doom to the overall result, flowing darkly until its climatic and Stygian ending.

In a nutshell, the guys from Depressed Mode definitely know how to blend the heaviness of Doom Metal with the finesse of symphonic and orchestral music, and Decade of Silence is not only the perfect representation of that stunning fusion of sounds, but also a beyond strong comeback by those Finnish metallers. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram to know more about their music, to stream all of their wicked creations on Spotify, and of course to purchase Decade of Silence from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Inverse Records webstore sooner than you can say “doom”. After over a decade of silence it’s a pleasure to witness the return of such interesting name of the underground Finnish scene, and let’s hope that we don’t need to wait another ten years to listen to more of their awesome music.

Best moments of the album: Endless November, Eternal Darkness and Aeternus.

Worst moments of the album: Serpents.

Released in 2022 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Death Walks Among Us 5:53
2. Endless November 7:43
3. Dissociation of the Extinguished Mind 6:56
4. As the Light Dims 8:58
5. Parasites of Mind 6:39
6. Kaamos (Land of Winter) 6:16
7. Serpents 5:50
8. Eternal Darkness 5:46
9. Aeternus 12:09

Band members
Otto Salonen – vocals, orchestrations
Teemu Heinola – guitars
Henri Hakala – bass
Iiro Aittokoski – drums

Guest musicians
Veronica Bordacchini – vocals on “Endless November”, “As the Light Dims” and “Eternal Darkness”
Jarkko Kokko – lead guitars on “Dissociation of the Extinguished Mind”

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021

“I wanted to play drums because I fell in love with the glitter and the lights, but it wasn’t about adulation. It was being up there playing.” – Charlie Watts

And there goes another year without a single metal concert in Canada. Another year full of uncertainties, fears, polarization, restrictions, and everything else we “love” so much. I honestly don’t know what to say about 2021 apart form the fact it was undoubtedly much better than 2020, but that means nothing considering the total nightmare that 2020 was. We lost a lot of huge names in the rock and metal scene such as Joey Jordison, Dusty Hill, Mike Howe, Johnny Solinger, Marsha Zazula, Alexi Laiho, John Hinch, John Lawton, Charlie Watts and Hank Von Hell, among many others. Tons of festivals including Download, Wacken Open Air, Hellfest, Bloodstock Open Air, Sweden Rock Festival and Dynamo MetalFest were scheduled to return this year after the 2020 editions of those festivals were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but unfortunately Sweden Rock, Hellfest, Download and Wacken Open Air were once again cancelled. With that said, why do we metalheads still believe in a better future? Is it because, despite all adversities, our favorite bands released some of their best albums from the past few years?

Hence, as new lockdowns are being imposed upon us in a never-ending pandemic loop, there’s not much we can do but enjoy The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, keeping us sane until this madness is finally over. Or maybe I should say if it will be over one day, of course. There’s a bit of everything for all types of fans, from classic Heavy Metal to the brutality of Death Metal, from the modern nuances of Melodic Death Metal to old school Thrash Metal, and so on, and in my humble opinions one of the most interesting facts about several albums launched in 2021 is their duration, with many of those surpassing the one hour barrier such as Senjutsu, Helloween, Persona Non Grata, Existence Is Futile and Blood on Blood, not to mention the over four hours of music from the Lordiversity boxset, which for me proves how much the bands responsible for those albums love their fans by offering them a lot of new music to enjoy during such difficult times. I would say that even if there are ZERO metal albums launched in 2022, we’ll still have a lot of great music to enjoy throughout the year thanks to all the amazing records released in 2021, don’t you agree?

1. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu (REVIEW)
Behold another masterpiece by the one and only Iron Maiden with its 82 minutes of tactics, strategy, war, resilience and determination.
Best song of the album: Hell on Earth

2. Helloween – Helloween (REVIEW)
A dream come true for all generations of “Happy, Happy Helloween” fans from all over the world.
Best song of the album: Skyfall

3. Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon (REVIEW)
It’s time to join Trivium in the court of the dragon to the sound of their magnificent new opus.
Best song of the album: Like a Sword Over Damocles

4. Exodus – Persona Non Grata (REVIEW)
Don’t be a “persona non grata” in the world of heavy music and get into the circle pit to the sound of this newborn thrashing beast.
Best song of the album: Lunatic-Liar-Lord

5. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined (REVIEW)
State of the art Death Metal played with passion and breathless precision by the most violent and unrelenting band of all time.
Best song of the album: Surround, Kill, Devour

6. 1914 – Where Fear and Weapons Meet (REVIEW)
Ukraine’s own doom infantry is back into the battlefield with another masterpiece, telling the gruesome tales of World War I.
Best song of the album: Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines)

7. Motorjesus – Hellbreaker (REVIEW)
Let’s drive through the fires of hell together with one of the best bands from the German rock and metal scene.
Best song of the album: Hellbreaker

8. Nervosa – Perpetual Chaos (REVIEW)
A deadly and thrashing lesson in perpetual chaos by four metalheads hailing from Brazil, Italy, Spain and Greece
Best song of the album: Time to Fight

9. Gojira – Fortitude (REVIEW)
Let’s all face up the world to the sound of the new masterpiece by one of the most dynamic bands of the current metal scene.
Best song of the album: Amazonia

10. Blaze Bayley – War Within Me (REVIEW)
The man who will live for a thousand years is back, inspiring us all to fight the war within us and to take our future in our own hands.
Best song of the album: Pull Yourself Up

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

11. Running Wild – Blood on Blood (REVIEW)
12. Lordi – Lordiversity (REVIEW)
13. Cradle of Filth – Existence Is Futile (REVIEW)
14. Diabolizer – Khalkedonian Death (REVIEW)
15. Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida (REVIEW)
16. Moonspell – Hermitage (REVIEW)
17. Lutharo – Hiraeth (REVIEW)
18. Unflesh – Inhumation (REVIEW)
19. Scarlet Aura – Genesis of Time (REVIEW)
20. Coiled Around Thy Spine – From The Ashes (REVIEW)

In addition to all that, let’s bang our heads with our Top 10 EP’s of 2021 to prove once and for all that not all great albums of the year have to be so long. The EP’s from this list are simply awesome, showcasing the band’s talent and their ability to sound epic even if the music lasts for only a few minutes.

1. Eonian – The Nomad (REVIEW)
2. Lady Beast – Omens (REVIEW)
3. The Agonist – Days Before the World Wept (REVIEW)
4. Tantivy – Eyes in the Night (REVIEW)
5. Grale – AGITACIÓN (REVIEW)
6. Bouquet of Dead Crows – Hemispheres Part 2: Cerebral (REVIEW)
7. Kadavereich – Radiance Of Doom (REVIEW)
8. Wolvencrown – A Shadow Of What Once Was (REVIEW)
9. Juliet Ruin – Dark Water (REVIEW)
10. Black Hole Deity – Lair Of Xenolich (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2021? Also, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC+2 on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show! And if you lost some or most of our special editions of The Headbanging Moose Show, including our Top 20 Underground Albums of 2021 – Parts I and II, go to our Mixcloud page and there you have hours and hours of the best of the independent scene, sounds good?

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2022!

And before I go, I’ll leave you with some touching words by Mr. Lordi and his crew of monsters…

Something something blah blah to you
All the sincere wishes come true
I put vengeance on my wish list
And that’s what Santa brought
So have a merry something and a happy blah blah blah

Album Review – Obscura Qalma / Apotheosis (2021)

Exploring human existence in an epistemological solipsistic view, the debut album by this Stygian Italian horde is a lecture in epic and dark Death Metal that exists in its own philosophically inspired realm.

Formed in 2018 in Venice, Italy from connections built in their local scene while performing within their prior projects, the unrelenting Blackened/Symphonic Death Metal horde known as Obscura Qalma have just released their debut full-length opus, entitled Apotheosis, the follow-up to their 2019 EP From the Sheol to the Apeiron. Mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni at Domination Studio and displaying a sinister artwork by Mexican artist Néstor Ávalos (Black Arts), Apotheosis (or “to deify” from Greek) explores human existence in an epistemological solipsistic view inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud, as well as by contemporary figures such as Massimo Recalcati and James Owen Weatherall, while musically speaking the inspiration comes from bands the likes of Dissection, Emperor and Death as well as by classical music and film composers such as Alexandre Desplat, showcasing all the talent and passion for dark music by vocalist and guitarist Sirius (Necrosy, Supremacy), guitarist Sartorius (As Memory Dies), bassist Theo (From the Shores), and drummer Res (Supremacy).

The cinematic and absolutely epic intro Demise Of The Sun sets the stage for Obscura Qalma to crush our souls in Impure Black Enlightenment, a lecture in Symphonic Black Metal with Res smashing his drums manically accompanied by the wicked riffage by Sirius and Sartorius, all spiced up by an imposing atmosphere and the demonic growls by Sirius. Then keeping the ambience as dark and sulfurous as possible the quartet blasts the venomous Gemini, with Theo and his rumbling bass adding a touch of aggressiveness to the overall result, not to mention how infernal the drums sound once again; and their onrush of obscurity goes on in The Forbidden Pantheon, another epic, massive Blackened Death Metal extravaganza led by the hellish vociferations by Sirius, sounding old school but at the same time offering the listener a fresh and modern twist. There’s no time to breathe as the quartet keeps decimating our souls in Transcending The Sefirot, with Res sounding like a three-headed beast behind his drums supported by the whimsical riffs and solos by Sirius and Sartorius.

It can’t get any more symphonic than in Paradise Lost, a dense, multi-layered creation by Obscura Qalma showcasing their trademark fusion of classic Death and Black Metal with movie-inspired scores and wicked sounds, and you better get ready to have your neck broken in half to the sound of Fleshbound, a pulverizing Blackened Death Metal tune where their riffs, bass lines and pounding beats will hammer your head mercilessly until the very last second. Never tired of bringing forward their passion and admiration for the dark side of music, it’s time for Sirius to roar in anger in The Telemachus Complex, a beautiful composition that will leave you completely disoriented, with Res taking the lead with his intricate and furious beats, whereas not a single moment of peace is offered to us all in Imperial Cult, with its background elements creating an interesting paradox with the savagery crafted by all band members. Lastly, we’re treated to Awaken A Shrine To Oblivion, starting in a more alternative and futuristic manner and evolving into their usual sound, albeit not as compelling as its predecessors.

You can enjoy all the obscurity and fury of Apotheosis by streaming the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your utmost support to those talented Italian metallers you should purchase the album from their BandCamp page or Big Cartel, from the Rising Nemesis Records’ BandCamp page or Big Cartel, or simply click HERE for different places where you can buy or stream the album. In addition to all that, don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their wicked music. “From the nihilistic foundations of European culture and epistemological solipsism to astrophysics and psychoanalysis, Apotheosis dwells on the limits of human knowledge and the impassable boundaries of its own existence,” commented the band about their newborn spawn, creating epic and dark Death Metal that exists in its own philosophically inspired realm and, therefore, paving a promising path ahead of the band in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Impure Black Enlightenment, Paradise Lost and The Telemachus Complex.

Worst moments of the album: Awaken A Shrine To Oblivion.

Released in 2021 Rising Nemesis Records

Track listing
1. Demise Of The Sun 1:24
2. Impure Black Enlightenment 4:07
3. Gemini 5:17
4. The Forbidden Pantheon 5:01
5. Transcending The Sefirot 4:33
6. Paradise Lost 6:23
7. Fleshbound 4:01
8. The Telemachus Complex 5:28
9. Imperial Cult 4:28
10. Awaken A Shrine To Oblivion 5:57

Band members
Sirius – vocals, guitar
Sartorius – guitar
Theo – bass, backing vocals
Res – drums, additional percussion

Interview – Jaume Antuñano (Eonian)

It’s time for The Headbanging Moose to chat with guitarist, composer and lyricist Jaume Antuñano about his awesome solo project Eonian and his debut EP The Nomad, among other fun topics.

jaume-antunano-eonian

Jaume Antuñano (Eonian)

The Headbanging Moose: Hi, Jaume! Welcome to The Headbanging Moose, and thanks for joining us for this interview! Can you please begin by introducing yourself to our readers and talk a little about your new project Eonian? How would you label your music?

Jaume Antuñano: Hi Gus! Thank you so much for having me. Eonian is a symphonic black/death metal solo project that I started in early 2020. The pandemic had just hit NYC and we were stuck at home, so I began writing music to keep my mind busy. Originally, this was going to be an instrumental project, but as I started composing and recording, I decided to write lyrics and to incorporate vocals too.

THM: You have just released a fantastic debut EP entitled The Nomad, which I highly recommend for fans of bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. What’s the main idea or concept behind the album, and how long did it take for you to finalize the entire process until the release of the album?

JA: The Nomad is a concept EP. All five songs tell the story of this mysterious, once powerful character who is condemned by the gods to wander for eternity after falling from grace. Trying to tie all the songs together both musically and through the lyrics made it a little harder, but overall it was a pretty quick process. It took about ten months for the EP to be completed.

THM: I personally enjoyed all five songs from the EP, especially Winter Wanderer and Cleansing Fire. What about you? What’s your favorite song of the EP and why? And you can’t say all five, of course! 😉

JA: This is like choosing between mom and dad! But okay, I’ll go ahead and say Cleansing Fire too.

THM: The main band that plays with you in The Nomad is formed by French vocalist DM, Italian bassist Francesco Loconte, Swedish drummer Freddy Ortscheid and Argentinian musician Diego Soldi. How difficult was it to put together such distinct international project, and how did you get to know each one of your band members?

JA: They all did such an amazing job and I’m so glad I got in touch with them. I can compose parts for different instruments, but I can only play the guitar, so I went on Fiverr and contacted these great musicians to record everything else. After I wrote the songs, I sent them a first demo and midi files, and we went from there. This was entirely done via the Internet and we actually never met in person, but despite all that, this was a very easy process and they knocked it out of the park.

THM: There are also seven other guest musicians on the album, as for example Russian violinist Margarita Chernova and Ukrainian pianist Polina Chornaya. Why did you decide to have so many guests on the album, how did you recruit each one of them, and how happy are you with the final result?

eonian-the-nomad-ep-2021 150px

Album Review – Eonian / The Nomad EP (2021)

JA: The reason behind having all these guest musicians is because I wanted to include musicians from different backgrounds. Some of them are used to playing metal, but some others are not, and I think that added some depth to my original ideas. Each one of them brought something to the table that I wouldn’t have been able to come up with myself, and I’m absolutely stoked with the results.

THM: What’s next for Eonian? Can we expect a full-length album from you in the near future? And as you’re basically a virtual band (at least for now), do you have any plans for a tour either with the same musicians featured on the album or with new local ones from the New York area?

JA:   I already have some ideas for new songs, but it is too early to know if the next release will be an EP or a full-length album. As for a future tour, I would really like it if Eonian became a band, so NYC folks, hit me up if you are interested.

THM: How has this never-ending pandemic impacted your work as a musician? And do you see a light at the end of the tunnel for metal bands now that the vaccination is picking up almost everywhere and concerts and festivals are starting to be scheduled again?

JA: Like many other musicians, new and consolidated, being stuck at home for so long really pushed me to start writing new stuff. Luckily, it looks like things are improving rapidly and that many bands are going to be presenting their new material live soon. I can’t wait and I already marked down a few concerts I don’t want to miss, including your fellow Canadians Unleash the Archers at Le Poisson Rouge here in NYC.

THM: When and why did you decide to move from Spain to the United States? Did it have anything to do with your career as a musician, or was it due to a completely different reason?

JA: I moved to the U.S. in 2011 to complete a Master’s degree in Literature. My plan was to stay for two years and go back to Spain, but I met my now-wife and… never left.

eonian-logoTHM: How different is the metal scene in your home country Spain compared to where you are now in The United States? Any local underground bands from both countries you would recommend to our readers?

JA: There is so many different styles and so much talent out there that I find it difficult to come up with major differences between the current metal scenes of Spain and the U.S. Maybe ten, fifteen years ago the difference was more defined, as European metalheads in general were very into the wave of Power Metal bands and also the Gothenburg sound was huge over there. The elitists will probably correct me, but I think that today there is quite an overlap regarding the genres that metalheads from both countries listen to. As for your second question, I’ll start by giving a shout-out to a couple of bands from my hometown of Valencia: In Mute (Melodic Death Metal) and Retribution (Symphonic Black/Death). And as for New York bands, I’m going to go with Valcata, which is another Internet-produced project that features many different musicians and vocalists from all over the world. Check them out!

THM: Thanks again for your time, and congratulations for your amazing debut EP! Please feel free to send your final message and considerations to our readers, and keep up with the excellent work with Eonian!

JA: Thank you for the interview and for your positive review of The Nomad! I would also like to thank all of the session musicians that recorded in this EP, and Fernán Nebiros, from Peruvian death metal legends Mortem, who was involved in the early stages of this project and whose valuable input helped me immensely. And to the readers, I encourage you to follow Eonian on Instagram and Facebook and to let me know what you think of the EP!

Links
Eonian Facebook | Instagram | Linktree | Spotify | BandCamp | DistroKid

Interview – Tommaso “Tommy” Monticelli (Genus Ordinis Dei)

Join us in this awesome interview with Genus Ordinis Dei guitarist and producer Tommaso “Tommy” Monticelli where he discusses about the band’s new opus Glare of Deliverance, the series of videos from the album, and what’s next for those talented Italian metallers.

Tommaso “Tommy” Monticelli (Genus Ordinis Dei)

The Headbanging Moose: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about the music by Genus Ordinis Dei. Can you please start by introducing yourself to our readers? Who are the guys from Genus Ordinis Dei, and what are your goals with the band?

Tommy: Hi, I’m Tommy and I’m the guitarist and producer of Genus Ordinis Dei. We’re 4 metalheads: Me, Nick (Guitars and Vocals), Steven (Bass) and Richard (Drums). The band was formed in 2008 in Crema, our hometown. We were just a bunch of long-time friends who shared the passion for metal music and we decided to start to play together. We were 20 years old and none of us ever played in a real band before Genus Ordinis Dei (and I personally still never played in other bands). Richard came later in 2012 after changing two other drummers. Our goal is simple: become the most important Italian metal band ever.

THM: Now let’s begin talking about your 2020 album Glare of Deliverance. It’s known that the album tells the story of a young woman named Eleanor, who is persecuted by the Holy Inquisition, bringing the concept art of American author Tom Roberts to life. Can you explain in more detail this concept behind the album? How did you guys come up with such distinct theme?

Tommy: The idea of the story was born years ago too, actually, I still remember us writing down on a notebook the plot of the chapters while hanging out in a pub in our hometown. Then, almost two years ago, we thought it was good enough and we decided it was time to try to make it real. Glare Of Deliverance tells the story of Eleanor in 10 episodes with 10 videos and 10 songs, describing all the steps that bring Eleanor in the grasp of the Holy Inquisition. More in detail, the Hunters of the Holy Inquisition chase after her interrupting a mysterious ritual. The ritual involves a powerful item, a black stone that she calls “The Heart Of Stone”. The stone goes lost during the chase and she is captured and brought to the citadel where the Inquisitor awaits. She’s examined, tortured and finally judged guilty of witchcraft by the Bishop who gives her the possibility to abjure and be forgiven. But the night before the abjuration, a mysterious entity, The Fallen, appears in her dreams and foresees her fate. The story will continue in the next episode 🙂

THM: Also, each one of the ten songs from the album are combined in sequence like a short film or television series to tell that story. How difficult was it to put together those ten songs in the correct order without having any major breaks or interruptions to the flow of the storyline?

Tommy: It’s been tough! We had to deal with the construction of the video series of this story, a totally new thing for us (and also for the fans) that led us to face a lot of difficulties and uncertainty moments, especially in the middle of this pandemic. We enjoyed it and we’re so proud of the final result, both visually and musically speaking. It took a lot of time, considering that we had to create a crowdfunding campaign that fortunately went well. We wanted to create something that mixes a concept album with a tv series, and I think we did pretty well.

THM: Can you tell us how hard was it to produce the album yourself instead of hiring an external person or company to do it? What are some things you wish you could have done in a different way?

Tommy: After all I have to say that it’s been easier than ever. Having the complete control of any single detail at any step of the production is much better than telling someone else what to do and hoping to share the same vision. Obviously you need the right amount of experience and skill to do it yourself and achieve a professional result. We can’t be happier than this!

THM: How has been the whole experience of shooting a special video for each one of the songs from Glare of Deliverance? How are you guys managing all production, costume designing, extras and so on? And which member of the band has the strongest film-making vein, taking the lead in this bold endeavor?

Tommy: Nick is definitely the video guy of the band. Even if we shot a lot of videos during these years, this was a totally new experience for us. We spent months planning the production of audio and video before shooting the first episode. Creating the storyboards, hiring pro artists to draw the concept and create the costumes and the masks, finding the main actress, finding the locations, hiring the videomaker and planning all the logistics and budget took almost a year, considering that we funded everything with a crowdfunding campaign. We were almost beginners about this and finishing this crazy puzzle on our own makes us extremely proud.

Album Review – Genus Ordinis Dei / Glare of Deliverance (2020)

THM: I want to personally ask about the closing song, the 16-minute aria Fire. How special is that song for you and the rest of the band, I mean, did you feel something different while writing and recording this specific song compared to the others, and can we expect to see you guys playing it live one day?

Tommy: If we’ll have enough time on the setlist we’re gonna play the whole album live. In particular Fire is a special song because the first 9 minutes contain all the main riffs and melodies of the previous 9 songs (revisited, rearranged), a sort of moment of reflection of the journey that took to the final act. It also explodes in a choral epic hook that we personally love. We had a great time recording the choir (in another studio, a bigger one :)), another new experience for us. We feel we’ve grown so much after making this album.

THM: As you guys are based in Italy, one of the countries that have suffered the most with COVID-19, how has this never-ending pandemic been impacting your work with Genus Ordinis Dei and your life in general? How are the other bands from your local scene surviving these years with no live concerts?

Tommy: We always wanted to stay positive and keep developing this idea despite all this crazy situation. Also, we knew that people still need music and entertainment, even if the whole damn world is turning upside down. We decided from the beginning that we’d have never stopped working and that Glare Of Deliverance would be released, a way or another. Every band is trying to do their best to keep creating new content but I understand that it’s a tough challenge.

THM: Can you tell us a little about your biggest idols in music, arts and life in general? And how has their music influenced you and the band in the writing process of Glare of Deliverance?

Tommy: Then there’s a lot of bands that inspired me through this journey but I can’t forget how it started: Blind Guardian, Kamelot, Manowar and Iron Maiden are my all-time favourite guys and they’ll ever be. In this exact moment, the most impressive band to me is Gojira, from the songs to the image to the performances: top band right now. They’re so inspiring. In general I love concept albums and artists that try to focus on creating epic and evocative atmospheres.

Genus Ordinis Dei

THM: Do you think the Italian underground scene is stronger than ever, or do you see it decaying somehow? And what are some bands from your region other than Genus Ordinis Dei that you would recommend to our readers?

Tommy: Italy is not famous for metal bands in general. I’m not into the underground scene so much but for what I’ve seen in the last years, it’s not so interesting. Excluding big bands like Lacuna Coil and Fleshgod Apocalypse, what I would recommend right now are DGM and Nightland. Check them out.

THM: What does the future hold for Genus Ordinis Dei? Can we expect to see more of your epic and atmospheric music in a not-so-distant future?

Tommy: Now we’re focused on the last video episode releases, Dream on March 22nd and the other 3 in the following months. There’s still so much to do before saying “ok, Glare Of Deliverance is done, let’s pass to next one” but I confess that I’m already collecting new melodies and riffs, and we started writing the next storyboard 🙂 But still, we have tons of new stuff regarding Glare Of Deliverance and a couple of great news to spread. We’re preparing for the next live shows, creating a new show from scratch.

THM: Thank you very much for the interview! Any final considerations or comments you would like to share with our readers?

Tommy: If you want something new, something that no one ever did before, follow the first Metal Music Series: Glare Of Deliverance.

Thank you guys for the interview.

Stay safe and stay metal!

Hail!

Links
Genus Ordinis Dei Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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