Album Review – Immortal Guardian / Psychosomatic (2021)

What’s the best thing to do during this never-ending pandemic? This talented American group has the answer to that armed with their brand new album of breathtaking Progressive Power Metal.

After winning over new audiences with their acclaimed 2018 debut full-length album Age of Revolution and touring relentlessly alongside fellow shredders such as Marty Friedman, Powerglove and Exmortus, Austin, Texas’ own Progressive Power Metal entity Immortal Guardian is back in action in 2021 with their sophomore effort, entitled Psychosomatic, offering their fans more of what they like to call “Super Metal”. As a matter of fact, as the spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic began to ensue, each member of the band retreated to their respective hometowns; guitarist and keyboardist Gabriel Guardian (also known as Gabriel Guardiola) remained in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, vocalist Carlos Zema (of bands like Outworld and Heaven’s Guardian) recorded his vocals from his home in Brazil, new drummer Justin Piedimonte stayed in Montreal, Canada, and new bassist Josh Lopez remained in the band’s native Texas. With shutdowns around the world being enforced, the band completely scrapped the originally planned record that they had been working on and were heavily inspired to write and create a new thematic record about their emotions surrounding current events, with the final result being at the same time epic, bold and of course very personal to each one of those four talented musicians.

The title-track Psychosomatic beings in an imposing manner led by the whimsical keys by Gabriel, gradually evolving into a feast of Progressive Metal showcasing the high-pitched screams by Carlos (and somewhat working as an extended intro to the rest of the album), and they put the pedal to the metal in the heavy and groovy Power Metal tune Read Between the Lines, with the bass jabs by Josh adding sheer heaviness to the overall result while Carlos continues to shine on vocals. Then it’s time to enjoy this eternal lockdown together with the guys form Immortal Guardian in the multi-layered, electrifying Lockdown, with Justin dictating the pace with his intricate beats while Gabriel kicks some serious ass with both his riffs and keys, whereas featuring guest guitars by Marcelo Barbosa (of Almah and Angra), Phobia is another thunderous dosage of their fusion of Progressive and Power Metal where Gabriel, Josh and Justin are in absolute sync with their sonic weapons. And more of their intricate sounds and magical passages are offered in the epic extravaganza titled Clocks, with the keys by Gabriel generating a beautiful ambience perfect for his own piercing guitar solos.

After the short atmospheric interlude Self-isolation, let’s keep banging our heads to the sound of the Heavy Metal hurricane titled Goodbye to Farewells, featuring guest vocals by Mary Zimmer (of Helion Prime), with all band members extracting tons of adrenaline from their instruments while Mary sounds utterly bestial with her harsh roars, showcasing a different side from her work with her main band. Then in Candlelight we’re treated to a pensive, melancholic intro where Josh adds his share of darkness through his bass, evolving into a more traditional hybrid of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock (albeit not as entertaining nor dynamic as the rest of the album, though, going on for too long), and more of their refined piano notes permeate the air in Find a Reason, a more gripping ballad than the previous song, sounding dense from start to finish and with Carlos passionately declaiming the song’s words while Justin pounds his drums flawlessly. Finally, Gabriel once again brings forward his deep passion for shredding in New Day Rising, a spot-on depiction of their Progressive Power Metal, offering many breaks, variations, complex passages and the usual speed and energy of Power Metal for the delight of admirers of the genre.

It’s quite easy to join the army of immortals spearheaded by Gabriel, Carlos, Josh and Justin, as their newborn spawn is available from an array of locations including the band’s own BandCamp and webstore, the M-Theory Audio webstore (in CD and limited purple LP format), the Plastic Head webstore (also in CD and limited purple LP format), or simply click HERE for all places where you can buy or stream the album. Also, let’s show our support to those talented metallers by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by streaming more of their music on Spotify. Psychosomatic is undoubtedly the perfect example of how we should face the COVID-19 pandemic, turning our fears, anxiety and hopelessness into ass-kicking metal music like what Immortal Guardian were capable of doing (perhaps not in such majestic way, of course), showcasing once again the positive energy Heavy Metal can bring to us all even during the most difficult times of our lives. Stay home, stay safe, and rock on!

Best moments of the album: Lockdown, Phobia and Goodbye to Farewells.

Worst moments of the album: Candlelight.

Released in 2021 M-Theory Audio

Track listing
1. Psychosomatic 5:33
2. Read Between the Lines 6:01
3. Lockdown 4:12
4. Phobia 6:13
5. Clocks 5:12
6. Self-isolation 0:39
7. Goodbye to Farewells 5:50
8. Candlelight 5:24
9. Find a Reason 7:00
10. New Day Rising 5:56

Band members
Carlos Zema – vocals
Gabriel Guardian – guitars, keyboards
Josh Lopez – bass
Justin Piedimonte – drums

Guest musician
Mary Zimmer – harsh vocals on “Goodbye to Farewells”
Marcelo Barbosa – guitars on “Phobia”

Metal Chick of the Month – Cammie Gilbert

Holding on to everything you say… Cause’ your words they paint a picture of me…

In a very difficult year where the world sadly witnessed an increase in violence and racism against black people, and of course the more-than-necessary rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in their fight for freedom, liberation and justice, we at The Headbanging Moose want to share with all of you our humble tribute to another black woman who has been brilliantly fighting all that racism and showing to the world black women have their place in heavy music, just like other rock and metal divas who have already been honored here on our webzine like Melissa Bonny, Militia Vox, Alexis Brown, Thalìa Bellazecca and Kayla Dixon. I’m talking about the multi-talented and gorgeous vocalist and songwriter Cammie Gilbert, the stunning frontwoman for American Progressive Rock and Metal act Oceans of Slumber, a band that has already been labeled by many as “Opeth or Katatonia with female vocals”, but that in my opinion managed to craft their own sound and style, embellishing the airwaves with their delicate but at the same time scorching creations.

Born on October 8, 1987 in Shepherd, a city located in San Jacinto County, Texas, in the United States, Cammie joined Houston, Texas-based Oceans of Slumber at the age of 27, more specifically in the year of 2014 after the departure of the band’s former vocalist Ronnie Allen, who had been with the band since their inception in 2011. Cammie, who’s by the way on a solid and healthy relationship with the band’s founder, drummer and pianist Dobber Beverly, the sole reminiscent of their original lineup, became the primary songwriter for the group after joining, having already released with Oceans of Slumber the EP Blue, in 2015, followed by the full-length albums Winter (2016), The Banished Heart (2018) and more recently Oceans of Slumber (2020), all available for a full listen on Spotify. You can enjoy tons of amazing official videos of Cammie and Oceans of Slumber kicking some serious ass on their YouTube channel, including the songs The Decay Of Disregard, Pray for Fire, The Colors of Grace, The Adorned Fathomless Creation, Winter, To the Sea (A Tolling of the Bells), The Banished Heart, Strange Fruit, Suffer The Last Bridge, a cover version for Candlemass’ Solitude, an acoustic version for Turpentine, and a live in the studio version for the song This Road.

Currently comprised of the aforementioned Cammie and Dobber together with keyboardist Mat V. Aleman and newcomers Jessie Santos and Alexander Lucian on the guitars and Semir Ozerkan on bass, Cammie said that the band’s former guitarists Sean Gary and Anthony Contreras and bassist Keegan Kelly wanted to explore different influences and styles which never fit with what Oceans of Slumber were doing at that time, the kind of tension that’s absolutely normal, but she also said there were tensions as soon as she got into the band, resulting in a split between the former members not wanting to be “female fronted”. “There is a certain metal crowd that thinks its a gimmick. I’m not growling, I just sing clean and am emotional, but a lot of male singers have that emotion too. There’s just stigmas that make anything a woman does, the wrong thing for metal. We had a couple of those old school attitudes and transition wasn’t their strong suite,” mentioned Cammie in one of her interviews.

Apart from her years with Oceans of Slumber, Cammie is also the lead singer for a Houston, Texas-based project called Genoa Band together with Dobber and guitarist Christian Larson, another branch from Oceans of Slumber’s musical tree drawing upon the lyrical and atmospheric production of bands and artists like Nick Cave, Portishead and This Mortal Coil while still sounding heavy but more intimate, playing a fusion of styles such as Southern, Gothic and Dark Rock. However, there’s nothing officially released by the band and no news since mid-2019 when they announced their first single Paraffin was almost ready to be released, making me think if they gave up the idea of moving forward with the project due to everything that has been going on with Oceans of Slumber, including the recording and release of their 2020 self-titled album. You can also find Cammie as a very special guest in the 2020 album Transitus, by Dutch Progressive Metal/Rock project Ayreon, playing the part of Abby throughout the entire album. “We met a friend of Arjen Lucassen over in the UK and he was interviewing us and asked if there was anything that we wanted to tell Arjen. And so Dobber is like, ‘Yeah, if he could get any of us on an album, we’re big fans, and if you could have him listen to The Banished Heart, that’d be great.’ And so he followed through with that request. Shortly after that Arjen wrote that he loved The Banished Heart and he would love to work with me someday. And we were like, ‘Yeah, of course that’d be great.’ And then maybe a couple more months after that, it was, ‘You want to be on the album?’ And I peed my pants,” commented Cammie about her collaboration with one of her idols in heavy music.

When asked to make a list of the top 10 albums that changed her life, Cammie listed a collection of albums that usually occupy a dark corner of her mind where often emotions outweigh the heaviness of the music, including 40 Watt Sun’s 2011 EP The Inside Room, Agnes Obel’s 2013 album Aventine, Alice In Chains’ 1992 album Dirt (which by the way reminds her why she loves the kind of music that she makes), Anathema’s 2012 album Weather Systems, Eivør’s 2015 album Slør, Evergrey’s 2016 album The Storm Within, Katatonia’s 2016 album The Fall Of Hearts, Swallow The Sun’s 2015 triple album Songs From The North I, II & III, Agents Of Oblivion’s 2000 self-titled album, and last but not least, Type O Negative’s 1996 masterpiece October Rust. “I love Peter Steele. We love Type O Negative, there’s  just nothing like it. We go through a lot of his albums but that’s the main one for me. I love Cinnamon Girl, Be My Druidess and also Wolf Moon. Dobber saw them live once. Super jealous. I’ve just had to make up for it by reading the autobiography, and he buys everything he can as far as media regarding the band. It’s an experience to go through their songs. He [Peter Steele] is such a clever lyricist. It’s the funniest kind of music I feel like I listen to. It brings up my energy and makes me happy,” commented our talented vocalist about the unparalleled work by Mr. Peter Steele (R.I.P.).

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In one of her interviews, when questioned about the lack of more black women in heavy music, Cammie said that it’s due to a multitude of reasons, including sexist comments saying that her voice would fit pop or hip hop music much better than metal, and that clean singing that isn’t symphonic is connotated to sounding pop, which might influence the decision of a black woman to move towards a soul, gospel, R&B or blues direction. Cammie herself was basically told to sing in hip hop or pop and to never go anywhere near rock and metal, but no one ever told her why except for the preconceptions already mentioned. “And what Dobber heard in my voice and what he heard from me… I’m a very melancholy person. I’m in and out of bouts of depression and what I identify with metal and metal-adjacent music is, what I identify with the music that I find, if it makes me, if I’m already sad and it makes me sadder then I’m like, “This is going on a playlist.” And I like things that give me these, not give me these dark feelings, but validate my dark feelings, because I feel like that helps me release them,” said Cammie, also saying that she feels that’s changing as there are more and more alternative black and black metalhead females out there. For instance, her own parents were extremely religious, not allowing her to listen to extreme styles like Death Metal or Grindcore, but that’s different now as younger black kids and people in general can have access to all types of metal music through their phones, for example.

When questioned about the Black Lives Matter movement, racism and if metal has a problem with racism, she said that racism is everywhere, and that it’s something more people have to unlearn than they realize, especially in America. Despite being fortunate enough to not experience too many issues related to racism since joining Oceans of Slumber, she stated that she can no longer approach this subject without a multitude of emotions overtaking her resolve, nor keep the angry tears from welling up and pouring out of her eyes when black senators, mayors, celebrities and brave people online share their frustrations over America’s shortcomings. She feels like her history and the entire country are broken, with George Floyd’s death being a tipping point or a catalyst for a new generation to finally say enough is enough due to the undeniable ruthlessness in which his life was taken. “When you think about the history of America, there’s very little that’s good for anyone who isn’t white. That’s just the truth. It leaves a hollow feeling in your chest taking this information in from so many different outlets. You realize this country isn’t fixing something, it’s letting something go,” complemented Cammie about such delicate matter, also saying that in the days ahead we face the challenge of putting these emotions into goal-focused actions.

Lastly, always evolving as a vocalist and always ready to experiment with her music, Cammie is more than sure Oceans of Slumber are already starting to break out of the Progressive Rock and Metal scene, letting her inspirations guide her music and warning people who already like the band that they’ll have to let go of any expectations for what comes next, leaving us curious to see what the future holds for her and for Oceans of Slumber. Furthermore, as the fantastic vocalist  that she is, Cammie surely misses the stage and performing live to the band’s fans and to newcomers to their progressive world, and they’re already thinking of ways of getting back onstage in Houston obeying all recommended protocols of social distancing to keep everyone safe, including obviously all band members. And, of course, all of us fans of a good fusion of progressiveness, emotions and heavy music can’t wait to see Cammie back to where she belongs, mesmerizing us all with her powerful voice and showing us all black girls can and will forever rock no matter what.

Cammie Gilbert’s Official Instagram
Oceans of Slumber’s Official Facebook page
Oceans of Slumber’s Official Instagram
Oceans of Slumber’s Official Twitter
Oceans of Slumber’s Official YouTube channel

“I am a black woman in America and I am the great, great granddaughter of slaves. Memories upheld only in photographs; as a little girl I would try to imagine what their lives were like. But as it goes, reality unravelled the mystery behind my childish imagination. Now when I see old photos in civil war documentaries, I see their faces. When I watch the grainy black and white footage depicting the Jim Crow era, I see their faces. When I watch the films of the marches inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., I see their faces. And now when I sign into social media and see protestors getting tear-gassed, I see their faces, only now mine is there too.” – Cammie Gilbert

Album Review – Texas Murder Crew / Everyone’s Last Breath EP (2020)

Capturing the music of the flies buzzing to the sight and stench of inhuman cruelty, this Dallas, Texas-based act will pulverize your senses with the boiling, filthy sound of their debut opus.

Capturing the music of the flies buzzing to the sight and stench of inhuman cruelty in their wicked creations, Dallas, Texas-based Brutal Death Metal/Deathslam six-piece act Texas Murder Crew will pulverize your senses with the boiling, filthy sound of their debut EP entitled Everyone’s Last Breath, drowning you as you reach in agonized desperation for a hand held out in pity. Featuring the dual guttural vocals of Logan Ross and Brent Wells, offering differing shades of sickening brutality, a thick wave of riffs by guitarist Kevin Clark (Devourment, Kill Everything), crushing foundations by bassist Timothy Dewayne Ratcliff and drummer Benjie Quezada, and hallucinatory shadows and the buzzing of the flies by Terry Burleson and his samplers, Everyone’s Last Breath is a must-have album for fans of underground brutality and rage, sounding absolutely verminous and gruesome, and having your body twitching, hungry for violence throughout its 17 minutes of unrelenting extreme music.

As soon as you hit play, a truly cinematic, somber intro grows in intensity until all hell breaks loose, preparing the listener for the pulverizing Curse of Humanity, with Brent and Logan making a bestial vocal duo with their sick gnarls and screeches while Kevin and Timothy decimate their stringed weapons mercilessly, resulting in a Brutal Slamming Death Metal avalanche infused with tons of groove and infinite aggressiveness. Destroy the Witness is another devastating lesson in Death Metal where Logan fires his Cannibal Corpse-inspired riffs while Timothy and Benjie shake the foundations of the earth with their thunderous instruments, not to mention how inhumane the vocals by both Brent and Logan sound, and if you thought they were going to slow down their savagery you’re utterly wrong, as the band keeps smashing our skulls in Beneath My Feet, offering us all three minutes of putrid, wicked Death Metal where Kevin once again takes the lead with his sick riffage. The band’s demented vocal duo continues to bark and vomit their gruesome words in the title-track Everyone’s Last Breath, with Benjie sounding like a stone crusher on drums, or in other words, this is a dense and cohesive Death Metal feast that perfectly represents the band’s dexterity and passion for brutality. Finally, Terry kicks off the closing tune Stronghold with his sinister samplers, being gradually joined by the violent sounds blasted by his bandmates, requiring only a little less than two minutes to annihilate us all.

There are multiple locations where you can put your dirty and blood-soaked hands on Everyone’s Last Breath, such as the band’s own webstore, Comatose Music’s BandCamp and webstore, Amazon, and other alternative options such as Randy’s Record Shop and Saturn. Also, let’s show the guys from Texas murder Crew our total support by following them on Facebook and on Instagram to know more about their music, tour dates and plans for the future, keeping the fires of Brutal Death Metal alive for many years to come and, of course, making sure those talented death metallers will keep delivering their wicked and brutal creations until their very last breath.

Best moments of the album: Curse of Humanity and Everyone’s Last Breath.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Comatose Music

Track listing
1. Intro 1:39
2. Curse of Humanity 3:31
3. Destroy the Witness 4:00
4. Beneath My Feet 2:50
5. Everyone’s Last Breath 4:19
6. Stronghold 1:29

Band members
Brent Wells – vocals
Logan Ross – vocals
Kevin Clark – guitars
Timothy Dewayne Ratcliff – bass
Terry Burleson – samplers, backing vocals
Benjie Quezada – drums

Album Review – Architectural Genocide / Cordyceptic Anthropomorph (2020)

A sickening, slamming and brutal album of Death Metal from the always fertile breeding ground of Texas, courtesy of an up-and-coming band ready to unleash hell upon humanity.

Texas has always been a fertile breeding ground for the most brutal extremes of Death Metal, and Houston’s own Architectural Genocide have been proving themselves a match for all the illustrious, gore-soaked names who have gone before them since their inception in 2017, unleashing hell upon humanity with their debut full-length opus entitled Cordyceptic Anthropomorph, the sound of sheer brute force within a maelstrom of violence and pulverized flesh. Mixed and mastered by renowned Italian drummer Davide “BrutalDave” Billia (Beheaded, Antropofagus, Hour Of Penance), and featuring a brutal and Stygian artwork by American musician and designer Jon Zig (Images of Violence, Deeds of Flesh, Relics of Humanity, Viral Load), Cordyceptic Anthropomorph is highly recommended for fans of the absolute chaos blasted by bands like Disentomb, Gorgasm and Visceral Disgorge, showcasing all the undeniable talented of lead singer Daniel Brockway, guitarist Jonathan Blake, bassist Matt Day and drummer Nat Conner, and of course their deep passion for what people like to call “Brutal Texan Death Metal”.

It’s time to slam into the circle pit like there’s no tomorrow to the sound of the opening track Spires of Mangled Tissue, bringing to our ears brutal devastation from the very first second, with Nat sounding infernal with his blast beats and fills while Daniel barks like a rabid beast, resulting in a freaking heavy extravaganza from start to finish. Then in Hallucinogenic Demise an ominous intro led by Jonathan’s wicked guitar lines and Matt’s low-tuned bass evolves into modern and furious Death Metal with Daniel’s inhuman screeches adding a touch of dementia to the overall result, with Nat once again crushing his drums manically; and they continue their onrush of dark and hellish sounds in Dominate and Proliferate, where Jonathan extracts sheer violence from his stringed axe in great Brutal Slamming Death Metal fashion. And the title-track Cordydeptic Anthropomorph lives up to the legacy of both old school and modern-day Death Metal, sounding and feeling as brutal and technical as it can be thanks to the amazing job done by the band’s stringed duo, not to mention Nat’s demented and intricate beats.

And the boys from Architectural Genocide keep smashing our skulls and spinal cords with the visceral and infuriated Gorge on Deceased, the perfect depiction of how vile but at the same time melodic and technical the quartet can be, offering a few interesting breaks and variations while Daniel’s deep guttural roars continue to reverberate in the air. Then Nat takes the lead once again in the berserk Pleasure Induced by Agony, sounding like a stone crusher on drums in what’s perhaps the heavier and most vicious of all songs from the album, with Jonathan and Matt showing no mercy for their strings (nor for our necks, of course). The second to last blast of malevolent Death Metal by this skillful four-piece horde comes in the form of Abolishment of Human Existence, where Matt and Nat are in absolute sync with their respective bass punches and demonic beats and fills, providing Daniel all he needs to shine with his deep vociferations, whereas Burgeoning Necrosis is a fantastic and pulverizing closing tune, or in other words, the epitome of everything the band stands for, showcasing the classic, hammering drums by Nat and the always brutal shredding by Jonathan.

If you have what it takes to face the Brutal Texan Death Metal assault fired by Architectural Genocide in their debut installment, all you have to do is go to Comatose Music’s BandCamp or webstore, as well as to Discogs, to put your hands on such ruthless album of extreme music. Hence, don’t forget to show your true support to the guys from Architectural Genocide by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and by listening to their music on Spotify. The architect of genocide is among us to bring us all a whole new level of sickening, slamming and brutality with Cordyceptic Anthropomorph, proving once again why the underground is and will always be the dark lair (and consequently our endless source) for ass-kicking Death Metal, and if you’re in Texas then the awesomeness coming from that is even higher, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Hallucinogenic Demise, Cordydeptic Anthropomorph and Pleasure Induced by Agony.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Comatose Music

Track listing
1. Spires of Mangled Tissue 4:51
2. Hallucinogenic Demise 5:48
3. Dominate and Proliferate 4:21
4. Cordydeptic Anthropomorph 5:06
5. Gorge on Deceased 3:56
6. Pleasure Induced by Agony 5:42
7. Abolishment of Human Existence 5:19
8. Burgeoning Necrosis 5:03

Band members
Daniel Brockway – vocals
Jonathan Blake – guitar
Matt Day – bass
Nat Conner – drums

Album Review – Infuriate / Infuriate (2018)

Here comes a group of Texas all-stars armed with their debut album of fast and furious Death Metal, focusing on the brutal side of nature and unconscientious human behavior.

A group of Texas all-stars, Austin-based Death Metal/Grindcore unit Infuriate was founded in late 2015 by drummer Sterling Junkin (Widower, Laughing and Lying, Venereal Baptism) and guitarist Steven Watkins (Serpentian, Sect of Execration, Sarcolytic, Images of Violence), with vocalist and guitarist Jason Garza (Blast Perversion, Slow Grind) and bassist Alan Berryman (Whore of Bethlehem, Cathexis) completing the band’s pulverizing lineup. After about a year and a half of songwriting, nine demolishing tracks of unrelenting Death Metal and Grindcore had been arranged for the band’s debut self-titled album, released earlier this year, being highly recommended for fans of bands like Deeds Of Flesh, Severed Savior, Severe Torture and Disavowed.

Featuring an obscure artwork by the legendary artist Jon Zig, as well as special images for each song for a more vivid lyric booklet, the album contains a wide range of sinister topics that focus mainly on the brutal side of nature and unconscientious human behavior, with the music being deeply rooted in late 90’s Death Metal with a modern speed. Furthermore, although the album might not surpass the 30-minute barrier, it doesn’t feel incomplete or simplistic at all. Quite the contrary, just like several renowned acts like Slayer and Cannibal Corpse have mastered doing, Infuriate were capable of condensing a gargantuan amount of violence, hatred, heaviness and speed throughout the album’s relatively short time span, positioning the quartet as one of the most promising new names of the underground extreme music scene.

The opening track Juggernaut Of Pestilence is total savagery from the very first note, led by the razor-edged riffs by Jason and Steven while drummer Sterling pounds his drums mercilessly, and their devastation goes on in the sonic havoc titled Slaughter For Salvation, with Jason growling in a demonic and rabid way, being perfect for slamming into the circle pit with the sound of the guitars getting extremely acute and flammable for our total delight. Then Collective Suffering showcases a modern-day Cannibal Corpse vibe, mainly due to the amazing job done by the band’s stringed trio, with the bass punches by Alan sounding as heavy as hell; whereas in Engastration we’re treated to a violent and metallic sonority that gets quite progressive at times, therefore enhancing its taste considerably, also presenting lyrics that reek of old school Death Metal (“Creatures of ingenuity / With voracious appetites / Lacking conscience / They gather…”).

Only Pain Remains is another hurricane of Death Metal and Grindcore for your avid (and evil) ears, with both guitars exhaling rage and madness while Sterling continues to smash his drum set, not to mention Jason’s berserk growls and roars. And the band keeps smashing our heads with their visceral music in Matando, an unstoppable Grindcore tune infused with Death Metal elements spearheaded by an inspired guitar duo, with Jason once again vociferating contemporary and aggressive words (“False sense of security / Betrayed for all to see / Bleeding profusely / From the wounds of treachery / An altercation bred from deception / You must bleed with me”), followed by Mori Terrae, where their guitar shredding is effectively complemented by the fierce beats by Sterling while Jason barks like a beast nonstop in this full-bodied hymn of destruction, and Surrogate, a frantic and pulverizing display of crushing Grindcore with the bestial growls by Jason being supported by another excellent job done on the guitars, with the song’s fulminating pace being furiously led by Sterling’s beats. And lastly we have Cannibalistic Gluttony, portraying a beautiful name for another disturbing tune by Infuriate with the music remaining vile, demented and intricate from start to finish, with highlights to the groovy and complex beats by Sterling, closing the album on an absolutely brutal mode.

In a nutshell, what are you waiting for to slam your damn skull into the circle pit to the pulverizing Death Metal crafted by Infuriate? You can purchase their debut album (available for a full listen on YouTube) from the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp or webstore (in regular CD format or as a CD + T-shirt bundle), as well as from your usual online retailers iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and Discogs, and keep up to date to all things Infuriate by following them on Facebook, but that, of course, only if you think you’re brave enough to face an overdose of sheer aggression and rage in the form of extreme music made in Texas.

Best moments of the album: Slaughter For Salvation, Only Pain Remains and Matando.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. Juggernaut Of Pestilence 2:28
2. Slaughter For Salvation 2:56
3. Collective Suffering 2:41
4. Engastration 3:20
5. Only Pain Remains 4:10
6. Matando 3:35
7. Mori Terrae 3:46
8. Surrogate 3:18
9. Cannibalistic Gluttony 3:17

Band members
Jason Garza – vocals, guitar
Steven Watkins – guitar
Alan Berryman – bass
Sterling Junkin – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Margarita Monet

I wanna lose myself in you…

Attention, metalheads! It’s time for another metal chick of the month here on yours truly The Headbanging Moose, and this month let’s pay our humble tribute to an up-and-coming singer, pianist, composer and actress that truly knows how to blend the heaviness, madness and rage of Heavy Metal with the delicacy and feeling of classical music. Known for her powerful voice and incredible range, she’s the frontwoman and founder for American Hard Rock/Symphonic Metal band Edge Of Paradise. I’m talking about Margarita Monet, or Margarita Martirosyan if you prefer, born on February 15, 1990 in Yerevan, the capital and largest city of Armenia as well as one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, but who has been living in the United States since she was 11 years old.

Margarita moved from Armenia to Moscow, Russia at a very early age with her family, where she lived for about 10 years, starting music lessons at the age of four and quickly accelerating into a competitive and performance-ready pianist, competing and winning awards in numerous piano competitions. When she was 11 years old, her father (who is a scientist) got a job offer in Houston, Texas, in the United States, meaning her life was going to have a huge impact in regards to lifestyle and mindset. In Houston, she attended The High School For The Performing and Visual Arts, for musical theater, moving to New York shortly after where she got accepted into New York University’s Tisch School Of The Arts, majoring in Theater at the Meisner Studio and minoring in Music. While living in New York, she acted in off Broadway plays, independent short and feature films, and sang with local bands at the city’s clubs. In addition, as a teenager, Margarita used to go back to Russia during the summer seasons and did some performing and recording with concertos, being known within the community of people who follow classical mostly from competitions in the country.

It was in 2010 when our red-haired diva had another significant move in her life, heading to Los Angeles after getting interest from various acting agents in the city. Just a week after arriving in Hollywood, Margarita already joined a singing and dancing group and recorded on their album Angels De Amor, going solo after various live shows with that group. After going solo and starting working on original material for her first solo album, she met guitarist Dave Bates, who was in search of a singer who could replace Irish rock vocalist Robin McAuley (McAuley Schenker Group, Survivor) in their project named BLEED. Soon their music partnership created tremendous results and solidified the band that took up the new name, Edge Of Paradise.

With Edge Of Paradise, which by the way is the official band of Nashville Knights, a women’s American football team of the Legends Football League (LFL) based in Nashville, Tennessee, and part of Rockers Against Trafficking (a foundation created by Kevin Estrada to raise awareness about human trafficking), Margarita released their debut album Mask, in 2011, featuring a rhythm section consisting of Gregg Bissonette on drums and Tony Franklin on bass (coming in at #6 most added on national CMJ radio, right behind Machine Head and Five Finger Death Punch), the EP Perfect Shade Of Black, in 2013, the full-length Immortal Waltz, in 2015, co-produced by Bob Kulick (Kiss, Motörhead) and  Michael Wagener (and coming at #12 on national rock and metal radio charts), and the six-track EP ALIVE, in 2017. If you want to get a fun and pleasant overdose of the gorgeous vocals by Margarita, go to their official YouTube channel (or their VEVO channel as well) for songs such as Mistery, Dust To Dust, Shade Of Crazy, Rise For The Fallen, In A Dream, Break Away and Perfect Shade Of Black, or even for some treats such as their cover versions for Darlene Love’s 1963 song Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Sally’s Song Black Sabbath’s masterpiece Children of the Sea, Margarita’s voice-and-piano version for Scorpion’s all-time classic ballad Still Loving You, or the band’s live performance of the song Ghost at the Soultone Cymbals Studio in 2016. Thus, after listening to her stunning voice in all those songs, you’ll quickly understand why she was featured in Metalholic’s “Top 25 Women in Hard Rock and Metal” in 2012.

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Furthermore, as aforementioned, apart for her music career Margarita also has an acting and screen background going back to her New York days, including a part as a dancer in the 2009 short drama Alicia, playing a character called Amy in the 2010 action movie No Leaf Clover, and portraying an illegal prostitute in the 2011 documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, all under her birth name Margarita Martirosyan. Now with Margarita dedicating a huge share of her time to Edge Of Paradise, it’s uncertain if we’ll see her again on screen, but at least we can rest assured the band will keep shooting videos for their songs, which means more Margarita for our avid eyes and ears.

When asked about her biggest idols in beauty, fashion and music, Margarita provided some interesting and beyond awesome names in all fields. Her inspirations in the modelling and fashion business are first Audrey Hepburn, who she has admired since she was a kid due to her feminine, classy and effortless look and style, and also Doro Pesch and Joan Jett due to their edgier styles. When it comes to music, her list of icons is even more impressive, with unparalleled names such as Ronnie James Dio, Robert Plant, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury being her favorite ones due to their distinct and timeless sound, as well as their emotion, attitude and conviction when singing and performing.

Margarita doesn’t see herself as a fashion and make-up junkie, but more like a “creative junkie”, meaning that because of her role with Edge Of Paradise she always strives to create something different and attractive for the fans, leading her to experiment with different looks, and having the freedom to express herself through music and while performing on stage. Having said that, Margarita’s typical makeup and style signature can be considered a mix of Rock N’ Roll with a bit of Gothic fashion, blending leather and lace with bold accessories such as belts and chains, always wearing black with accent colors like red, silver and gold. And, of course, her trademark blood-red lips. All those strong colors and accessories are complemented by Margarita’s endless energy when she hits the stage, being very expressive and putting her heart and soul into each song played, and by her creativity, as she simply loves experimenting with different chains, spikes, fabrics and other material when creating her stage outfit. When asked about how she prepares herself for a concert, Margarita said she tries to rest as much as possible and stay hydrated, and that she doesn’t take too long to get dressed and put on her makeup as she always knows what she’s going to wear. She also said being in a band is a lifestyle she truly loves, and although it’s not an easy one she has a lot of fun and pleasure while working on new material, creating new visual arts for the band and rehearsing, always aiming at moving forward with the band.

Regarding being an artist, our red-haired muse mentioned that she’s always been determined to become an artist since her childhood in Russia, where she was surrounded by art. Her mom used to take her to theaters, concerts and ballets, inspiring her to start performing at a very young age. So far, it has been a thrilling and rewarding ride to her (despite being a very demanding way of life), with honesty, hard work and creativity being some of the most important elements in her career, not to mention her life motto which is “do it because you love it and enjoy every part of the journey, it goes by fast!’’ In addition, singing metal music in front of a huge crowd and recording vocals for Edge Of Paradise were initially a brand new experience and a challenge for her, despite her previous experience as an artist and her passion for classic voices like Dio and Freddie Mercury. Furthermore, Margarita said that coming up with melody ideas and finding her own style were very rewarding steps for her, and of course she’s always interested in evolving as a singer and as an artist in general.

Last but not least, when asked about the importance of image in her life and career, and how social media has had an impact on those, she said that as we live in a digital world where everything is over saturated, social media ends up working as a double-edged sword because we have the tools to reach people, but if you don’t have the best content (both visually and musically) you won’t be able to attract people’s attention. She complemented by saying you really have to create a world that people will want to be part of, inspiring people to follow you, and therefore boosting your creative process. Well, I guess Margarita is absolutely right about that, because if you think about it, who doesn’t want to be part of the unique and whimsical world created by Edge Of Paradise?

Margarita Monet’s Official Facebook page
Margarita Monet’s Official Instagram
Edge Of Paradise’s Official Facebook page
Edge Of Paradise’s Official YouTube channel
Edge Of Paradise’s Official Instagram

“Your music has to speak for itself, invest in your content, in the quality of your sound, if you have a great product you will get your foot in the door! Of course it’s important to promote, and that takes a lot of money too. If you’re an independent band you gotta hire your own publicity, but if you don’t have great content to promote you won’t go very far, so I would say make the music that’s authentic and you’re really proud of and you’ll find your way!” – Margarita Monet

Album Review – Of the Sun / Before a Human Path EP (2017)

Exploring the extremes of human emotion and imagination and finding balance within while embracing chaos, this high-skilled power trio is ready to show you what “Southern Progressive Metal” is all about with their brand new album.

Self-describing their wicked music as “Southern Progressive Metal”, American power trio Of the Sun are releasing their new EP titled Before A Human Path, a highly recommended album for fans of Gojira, Pantera, Mastodon and Between The Buried And Me, among other iconic groups, exploring the extremes of human emotion and imagination, finding balance within while embracing chaos in each of its five unique compositions. While Of the Sun’s sound is firmly rooted in Groove and Thrash Metal, it also contains elements of Progressive Metal, creating a distinct atmosphere exactly like what you’ll be able to experience in Before a Human Path.

Hailing from Austin, the state capital of Texas, in the United States, the band formed by Patrick Duvall (lead vocals, guitar), David Duvall (bass, vocals) and Johnny Reed (drums) released their debut album AM Radio in August 2009, taking some good years for them to finally come back with new material. Fortunately, the wait is finally over for the delight of admirers of innovative and groovy music, and the final result will definitely bring a positive outcome for the band’s career. “With Before a Human Path, we pulled from personal extremes to convey a more colorful and varied storyline within the span of each song. Ultimately shunning conventional songwriting formula, we really dug in to unearth something we felt isn’t currently being done”, the band commented about the album.

The Tightrope Mile already begins in full force, sounding like a more progressive and groovier version of Pantera where Patrick has an amazing performance on vocals, reminding me of the old days of Phil Anselmo, while David blasts pure metallic lines through his bass guitar. Moreover, all its psychedelic and heavy passages make it sound like three or four songs in one, an always positive attribute in progressive music. In the kick-ass Nebulamorphous we have the perfect example of what the band calls Southern Progressive Metal, bringing the most electrifying elements from Southern Rock and Progressive Metal together while Johnny is responsible for the intricacy found in the music with his sick drumming. At the same time, Patrick takes care of the song’s deranged side with his sick growls, effectively complementing all this sonic feast of craziness and rumbling sounds.

Featuring guest musicians Phil Davidson on violin and viola, and Kullen Fuchs on vibraphone, Cantos offers the listener an exciting doomed sonority, with its clean vocals being exactly what the music demands. Furthermore, this dark and introspective creation by Of The Sun gets even better as time passes by due to the amazing guitar lines by Richard together with the low-tuned bass by David. The intricate and aggressive tune A Soliloquy brings forward Groove Metal with a lot of progressiveness and hatred flowing from its vocals and bass lines, reaching a whole new level of insanity (and don’t forget to pay attention to the excellent drumming by Johnny throughout the entire song); whereas in the sharp Southern Metal chant The Limbless God we face more demented metal music to pierce our ears mercilessly. Their fusion of anger and creativity couldn’t sound more thrilling, with highlights to the great sync once again between Richard and David, not to mention all tempo changes and endless heaviness which end up adding an extra dosage of adrenaline to the final result.

To sum up, despite being only an EP technically speaking, Before a Human Path brings to the listener a full-flavored adventure in experimental heavy music thanks to the refined skills of each one of the three musicians from Of the Sun. If you want to show your support for Patrick, David and Johnny, go check what they’re up to at their Facebook page, listen to their music at ReverbNation, and don’t forget to buy your copy of Before a Human Path at their official BandCamp page. This creative and energetic trio of musicians is ready to show you what “Southern Progressive Metal” is all about, and you’ll be more than pleased with what they can do to your ears with their music.

Best moments of the album: Nebulamorphous and A Soliloquy.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. The Tightrope Mile 7:09
2. Nebulamorphous 5:34
3. Cantos 7:22
4. A Soliloquy 7:22
5. The Limbless God 5:31

Band members
Patrick Duvall – lead vocals, guitar
David Duvall – bass, vocals
Johnny Reed – drums

Guest musicians
Phil Davidson – violin and viola on “Cantos”
Kullen Fuchs – vibraphone on “Cantos”

Album Review – The Sound That Ends Creation / We Are The Burden (2016)

Get ready for 21 minutes of brutal and technical Grindcore that will crush your spinal cord mercilessly.

Rating5

the sound that ends creation - we are the burdenIf someone asks you to mention a good one-man or one-woman band in Heavy Metal, the first names that will come to your mind probably play raw and obscure Black Metal. I would say that’s the case in nine out of ten projects, but obviously there are also many excellent multi-instrumentalists generating interesting material in other ramifications of heavy music such as Death and Doom Metal, for example. However, I believe this will be the first time you’ll be facing a one-man army blasting a trenchant fusion of Grindcore and Metalcore, two subgenres of heavy music where you’ll usually find regular bands comprised of at least three members. I’m talking about The Sound That Ends Creation, the indomitable creature generated inside the mind of American musician Chris Dearing in which he plays all of guitar and bass, as well as performing vocals and programming drums.

Formed in early 2016 in the city of Allen, Texas, in the United States, The Sound That Ends Creation blends all main styles found in extreme music, those being Death Metal, Black Metal, Mathcore and even Sludge and Stoner Metal, together with the project’s core essence formed of unrelenting Grindcore. The result of that brutal fusion can be seen in We Are The Burden, the debut album by The Sound That Ends Creation that will crush your spinal cord mercilessly in its 21 minutes of uncompromised devastation. Do not expect any sign of happiness or positivity emanating from the music, but only sheer savagery perfect for slamming into the pit as expected from any good Grindcore band.

Chris comes barking like a rabid dog in the opening track, a two-minute technical Grindcore tune named The Complex, also blasting the first wave of heavy riffs and violent beats in We Are The Burden. Moreover, drums sound amazingly organic despite being programmed, which is also the case in Burn the Trees, Burn the Bark, a diabolical mix of Grindcore and Black Metal, with its guitar lines being as sharp as the Death Metal-inspired growls by Chris. It doesn’t matter if the music gets faster than a bullet or as sluggish and somber as traditional Doom Metal, the entire song kicks fuckin’ ass. And the distorted mind of Chris provides the listener another two-minute havoc overflowing anger and hatred entitled A Cyclical Dawn, with highlights to all its tempo changes, which in my opinion means a lot considering the fact this is a relatively short composition.

TSTECLOGOThe Fires Are Growing trespasses the boundaries of heaviness, almost feeling like pure old school Death Metal at times while also sounding extremely progressive, flowing to a lancinating ending before the most intricate composition of the album, Machinations Of Progress, brings forth chaos and harmony at the same time. Highly recommended for fans of complexity and fury in music the likes of old school Carcass, this is the perfect example of how our lone wolf is capable of sounding like many well-established Technical Death Metal bands even being by himself and having no support from any record label. And how about an atmospheric break titled Interlude before Chris’ onslaught returns? You better take that time off to breathe, because what he delivers in A Hollow Pine Box is simply awesome. Not only guitars are superb (as well as all rhythmic beats and breaks), but there’s also room for hints of Pantera and the low-tuned sonority of Stoner Metal, enhancing the song’s impact on the listener.

If you’re still alive after such level of devastation, there’s still more madness in the form of music for you. Pounding his guitar and bass, Chris offers more high-quality Death Metal and Grindcore in less than two minutes titled Bottom Feeders, followed by The Open Eye, where the high-pitched growling by Chris together with his deeper guttural brings more flavor to the overall result. And closing the album with a beautiful message about how cruel and heartless we can all be, Chris presents the extremely technical A Portrait Of Inhumanity, a brutal Death Metal assault with progressive notes where Chris has another visceral performance on vocals.

After listening to such an inspiring album, I suggest you all go get in touch with Chris and his electrified The Sound That Ends Creation at the project’s Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube channel, and if you love the demolishing sound of raw and technical Grindcore you can purchase We Are The Burden at The Sound That Ends Creation’s BandCamp page. Chris’ 21 minutes of ruthless and virulent music are definitely worth the investment, and by buying the album you will also help this talented artist in perpetrating the awesomeness and energy of the independent scene of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Burn the Trees, Burn the Bark, The Fires Are Growing and A Hollow Pine Box.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. The Complex 2:06
2. Burn the Trees, Burn the Bark 2:18
3. A Cyclical Dawn 2:24
4. The Fires Are Growing 2:08
5. Machinations Of Progress 2:10
6. Interlude 1:13
7. A Hollow Pine Box 2:07
8. Bottom Feeders 1:38
9. The Open Eye 1:59
10. A Portrait Of Inhumanity 3:14

Band members
Chris Dearing – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Orisonata / Orisonata (2014)

Beautiful vocals, superb saxophone solos, classical guitar, jazz, piano and many other elements make this Progressive Symphonic Metal album a very fresh and attractive alternative in the world of heavy music.

Rating4

orisonata-cover-artIf anyone asks you about Symphonic Metal, you automatically think of bands from countries like Finland, Netherlands, Italy, Germany or any other European country, but never of American bands, right? Well, that’s about to change with the self-titled debut album from American Progressive Symphonic Metal band Orisonata, a project by composer and guitarist, Jason Lee Greenberg, and his wife, vocalist Jennifer Grassman.

Orisonata can be compared not only to bands such as Nightwish, Within Temptation, Kamelot, Tarja Turunen and Blind Guardian, but also to the progressive musicality from Dream Theater and even to the Pop/Rock from Evanescence, Sarah Brightman and Muse. And the band was able to generate that high quality mix of classical guitar, jazz, and heavy music in a very solid and professional way, which in my opinion is the biggest strength of this project: being so diverse without losing their value proposition. In other words, Orisonata deliver what they promise, which is some very creative and unique heavy music.

And as the music is what really matters here, let’s get down to it. The album might have only 7 songs in total, but together they are responsible for over 50 minutes of music, highlighting the band’s progressive vein. The first track of the album is also the longest one: with almost 9 minutes, Journey to the Center of the Earth is a pleasant Heavy Metal voyage the likes of Nightwish, with amazing saxophone solos, changes in tempo, breaks and everything else you want to see in a progressive heavy song. Then come Once And Future King, a very progressive tune with interesting riffs and guitar solos, and The Great Baptism, a song that mixes the sonority of Dream Theater and Tarja Turunen in a way that would make both band and artist very proud of Orisonata.

The following track, Unholy Creation,  can be considered the most Heavy Metal one of the album with its fast drums, heavy riffs and many hints of Nightwish from their Oceanborn times, accompanied by the amazing piano from jazz artists Pamela York. Furthermore, the vocals and lyrics fit the song perfectly, making it the best track of the album in my opinion.

Oath Breaker keeps the energy level up with the great singing done by Jennifer, together with some awesome solos and music variations, while Robin Hood offers us more delightful saxophone solos amidst pure Symphonic Metal. The album ends with the beautiful ballad The Muses, a very “medieval” tune with highlights to the amazing contribution by Cynthia Butler on flutes.

orisonata-jennifer-grassman-photo-by-laughlin-photographyRegarding the lyrics, they’re all based on literature, legend and ancient mythology, and remind me of some old Nightwish songs such as “Sacrament of Wilderness” (you can check the lyrics from Onisonata’s “Unholy Creation” in the video at the bottom of this review), and in terms of the album art, it is also very well-done and matches with the album’s proposal and musicality.

And finally, all musicians involved in this project are extremely talented, but we have to salute the couple Jason and Jennifer for their brilliant work with all instruments and beautiful operatic vocals, respectively. Although they’ve been on the road for quite some time and won many awards for their previous music creations, it’s amazing to see the amount of passion they still have for composing new material. Besides the “dynamic duo”, I would say the most important piece of the music found in Orisonata are the stunning solos by world-renowned classical saxophonist Todd Oxford. What this guy does with his saxophone is unbelievable and adds so much value to the music that it’s hard to imagine any of the songs without it.

So far, the album as had a soft release on CD Baby and on Orisonata’s official website, but will shortly be available through Amazon, Spotify, and other major retailers, and you can also check more information about the band on their official Facebook page and on Twitter.

Of course, the band has yet a long way to go and only time will tell if they’ll succeed or not, but two lessons can already be learned from Orisonata: for all other independent bands in the world, this is the level of work, professionalism and creativity you need to put on your music in order for it to be successful, otherwise you’ll be just “one more band” in the market; and for heavy music lovers, Orisonata show how good the indie scene can be and that we should support it as much as we can if we want to keep the flame of Heavy Metal alive.

Best moments of the album: Journey to the Center of the Earth, Unholy Creation and Oath Breaker.

Worst moments of the album: Once And Future King.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Journey to the Center of the Earth 8:42
2. Once And Future King 6:35
3. The Great Baptism 8:04
4. Unholy Creation 7:18
5. Oath Breaker 5:01
6. Robin Hood 7:55
7. The Muses 5:07

Band members
Jason Lee Greenberg – all guitars & instruments
Jennifer Grassman – all vocals

Guest musicians
Todd Oxford – saxophone
Wade Vandesande – bass on “Oath Breaker”
Brad Shearhart – bass on “Robin Hood”
Pamela York – piano on “Unholy Creation”
Cynthia Butler – flutes on “The Muses”
Marco Bayarena – synth solo on “Journey to the Center of the Earth”