Album Review – Swallow The Sun / Moonflowers (2021)

Jyväskylä, Finland’s own Doom Metal unity returns with another stunning album, offering us all eight beautiful, captivating songs blooming in misery.

Formed in 2000 in Jyväskylä, Keski-Suomi, Finland by guitarist Juha Raivio, the five-piece Finnish Melodic Doom/Death Metal outfit Swallow The Sun has just unleashed upon humanity their new opus entitled Moonflowers, the eight in their undisputed career. Currently comprised of Mikko Kotamaki on vocals, Juha Raivio on the guitars and keyboards, Juho Raiha also on the guitars, Matti Honkonen on bass, and Juuso Raatkainen on drums, Swallow The Sun continue to pave the gloomy path of their previous album When a Shadow Is Forced into the Light (inspired by the loss of Juha’s life partner Aleah Stanbridge in 2016), offering fans of the most melodic side of doom eight beautiful, captivating songs in the span of over 52 minutes, being therefore the perfect soundtrack for the darkest days in your life.

The striking opening song Moonflowers Bloom in Misery is absolutely doomed from the very first second, with Mikko already delivering his melancholic, grim vocal lines accompanied by the sluggish beats by Juuso, exploding into a massive feast of Melodic Death and Doom Metal. Then in Enemy we’re treated to beautiful lyrics declaimed by Mikko (“I crawl back to my shadow / From the edge of the light / Deep down into the sea of my own rain sirens / In the eye of the… / Enemy, inside of me / Torn from a trail of light / Grail of serpents lies”) while Juho and Juha’s guitars make an interesting paradox with Juha’s own keys; followed by Woven into Sorrow, a lecture in darkness and sorrow by the band presenting gorgeous, serene guitar lines intertwined with sheer heaviness and whimsical background elements, also featuring guest backing vocals by Antti Hyyrynen from Stam1na. Not only that, t’s impressive how they manage to make their music epic and symphonic without losing their blackened core essence, which is also the case in Keep Your Heart Safe from Me, almost eight minutes of top-of-the-line doom showcasing infernal, headbanging sounds led by Juuso’s drums supported by the low-tuned bass by Matti while also presenting a more cryptic, delicate side of the band.

All Hallows’ Grieve features guest vocals by the stunning Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber), and she nails it with her soulful vocals (“Before I go, I’ll let you know / My heart was honest, for you / My heart was cruel / You believed / I’m a soul of a ghost to fight for / I believe, I believe, I lost my will to fight for”), resulting in a sensational doom aria, whereas drinking from the fountain of 80’s Gothic and Doom Metal it’s time for the enfolding and somber The Void, where Matti and Juuso once again generate a reverberating ambience with their respective weapons. The Fight of Your Life is another gentle and melancholic composition by Swallow The Sun which despite presenting all elements we love in their music is not as compelling as the rest of the album; and closing the album it’s time for an infernal composition titled This House Has No Home, where the keys by Juha walk hand in hand with both the clean vocals and the demonic roars by Mikko, putting a climatic and dark ending to the album.

In a nutshell, the very pleasant and obscure Moonflowers, which is available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, cements Swallow The Sun’s name as one of the best Doom Metal acts of the past 20 years while at the same time provides admirers of doom with something fresh, leaving us all eager for more of their stunning creations. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and so on, and obviously to grab your copy of Moonflowers by clicking HERE. Keep in mind that if you go for the mediabook or boxset edition of the album, it comes with a very beautiful bonus disc with classical versions of all songs of the album recorded at the Sipoo Church in Finland by Trio N O X, comprised of Aino Rautakorpi on violin, Helena Dumell on viola and Annika Furstenborg on cello, as for example their gorgeous rendition of the song All Hallows’ Grieve. And while the moonflowers keep blooming in misery, Swallow The Sun will continue to darken the skies with their classy Doom Metal for at least another 20 years.

Best moments of the album: Moonflowers Bloom in Misery, Woven into Sorrow and All Hallows’ Grieve.

Worst moments of the album: The Fight of Your Life.

Released in 2021 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Moonflowers Bloom in Misery 6:19
2. Enemy 5:39
3. Woven into Sorrow 7:46
4. Keep Your Heart Safe from Me 7:47
5. All Hallows’ Grieve 5:37
6. The Void 5:39
7. The Fight of Your Life 7:13
8. This House Has No Home 6:40

Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc (Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun)
1. Moonflowers Bloom in Misery (classical version) 4:52
2. Enemy (classical version) 3:06
3. Woven into Sorrow (classical version) 4:39
4. Keep Your Heart Safe from Me (classical version) 3:13
5. All Hallows’ Grieve (classical version) 4:58
6. The Void (classical version) 4:01
7. The Fight of Your Life (classical version) 4:16
8. This House Has No Home (classical version) 3:03

Band members
Mikko Kotamaki – vocals
Juha Raivio – guitars, keyboards
Juho Raiha – guitars
Matti Honkonen – bass
Juuso Raatkainen – drums

Guest musicians
Cammie Gilbert – vocals on “All Hallows’ Grieve”
Antti Hyyrynen – backing vocals on “Woven into Sorrow”
Jaani Peuhu – backing vocals
Aino Rautakorpi – violin on all classical versions from the Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc “Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun”
Helena Dumell – viola on all classical versions from the Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc “Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun”
Annika Furstenborg – cello on all classical versions from the Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc “Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun”

Album Review – Lucifer Star Machine / The Devil’s Breath (2020)

Raise your horns to the high-octane, hard-hitting fusion of Rock N’ Roll, Punk Rock and Hardcore blasted by a German squad armed with their brand new album.

Are you ready for a feast of high-octane, hard-hitting Rock N’ Roll, Punk Rock and Hardcore blasted by the tattooed, white trash bastard sons of the devil, collectively known as German Punk N’ Roll squad Lucifer Star Machine? Telling tales about love, pain, death and religious atrocities, Lucifer Star Machine will unleash hell upon us once again with their fourth full-length opus titled The Devil’s Breath, a 42-minute long road to hell that lures the listener with huge choruses, infernal riffs and monstrous melodies presented with the band’s trademarked straightforward, no-bullshit attitude, and perfectly visualized in the album cover art by Polish artist Łukasz Jaszak, giving the album a a vintage horror magazine look which complements the music and pays homage to the big boys of Rock N’ Roll such as Motörhead, Ramones, Social Distortion, Volbeat, Misfits and Turbonegro.

Formed in London, England in 2002, but based in Hamburg, Germany since 2014, the hometown of lead singer Tor Abyss, the now all-German band comprised of the aforementioned Tor Abyss on vocals, Mickey Necro and Marshall Speed on the guitars, Benny Zin on bass and Jay Impact on drums has outdone themselves in The Devil’s Breath, resulting in an album full of honesty, heart and soul with a fantastic storyline captured in every song. Setting a new standard for the band itself, The Devil’s Breath brings to our ears a high-energy mixture of classic rock and punk with a touch of metal and hints of 50’s Rock n’ Roll, combining raw, heartfelt music with great musicianship and addictive hooks and, therefore, being highly recommended for fans of the dancing and electrifying music of all aforementioned Rock N’ Roll icons.

Excerpts from “not-so-good” TV news ignite the frantic and electrifying The Void, blending the best elements from Punk Rock with the badass Rock N’ Roll by Motörhead. Moreover, Tor is berserk on vocals while Jay doesn’t stop smashing his drums not even for a single second, and after such demolishing start to the album it’s time for more melodic and dancing punk music in Dwell In Misery, where Mickey and Marshall are on fire with their razor-edged riffs, being therefore recommended for admirers of the music by the Misfits and Social Distortion. Jay keeps hammering his drums in Cruel Hearts, and if you enjoy a good mosh pit with your friends this is the perfect soundtrack for that, not to mention how Benny’s rumbling bass makes the earth tremble, feeling like the Misfits and Volbeat had a bastard son; followed by Baby, When You Cry, a great song presenting an old school vibe without sounding outdated or obsolete at all, perfect for lovers who want to dance the night away together, while the band’s guitar duo continues to kick some serious ass with their riffs and solos.

A strident riffage and a headbanging rhythm are the main ingredients in The Night Is Young, with Tor leading his henchmen with his raspy vocals in this never-ending party while Benny extracts insane sounds from his bass; whereas more rumbling bass punches and endless electricity fill out every empty space in Eat Dust, originally released in 2015 as a single, with all band members being in perfect sync delivering a vibrant Punk Rock extravaganza for our total delectation. In A Touch Of Death the band adds nuances of Rockabilly to their music just the way Volbeat would do, but of course keeping their Punk Rock core essence intact, resulting in another great option for slamming into the pit, while El Camino Real definitely feels like a song that could be used in a Quentin Tarantino movie, with Tor impersonating a classic singer the likes of Elvis Presley while Jay brings forward tons of groove with his precise beats. And their Rock N’ Roll party goes on in Pretender, showcasing a solid job done by both Mickey and Marshall on the guitars (despite getting a bit tiring after a while).

Then putting the pedal to the metal the quintet pierces our ears with the frantic and vicious Evil Blood, blasting nonstop action with highlights to Jay’s awesome performance on drums and with Tor sounding even more rabid and demented on vocals. And as there’s no such thing as getting tired of Rock N’ Roll, the band delivers another fun composition titled Midnight Crawler, where their crisp guitar riffs are effectively boosted by Benny’s thunderous bass, with more high-speed dirty pounding rock music filling our avid ears in Your Love Remains, where Jay and Benny show no mercy for our heads with their menacing low-tuned roars. Put differently, this song will certainly please all fans of classic punk music the likes of the Misfits without a shadow of a doubt. And lastly, their personal “tribute” to the devil comes as the title-track Devil’s Breath, starting in an acoustic way in great Spaghetti Western/Johnny Cash fashion and continuing on that obscure and very entertaining vibe until the very end, with Tor having an amazing and introspective vocal performance.

Having said all that, what are you waiting for to join Lucifer Star Machine and their best buddy, the devil himself, in their quest for Rock N’ Roll? Simply follow them on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, and grab your copy of The Devil’s Breath directly from their BandCamp page or from their official webstore, as well as from other locations such as the Season of Mist webstore and the Bilocation Records webstore. And you know what to do after putting your hands on such incendiary album of Punk N’ Roll, right? That’s quite a simple and very pleasant task. Grab a cold beer, slam into the circle pit together with Lucifer Star Machine and, above all that, always raise your horns.

Best moments of the album: The Void, Cruel Hearts, Eat Dust and Evil Blood.

Worst moments of the album: Pretender.

Released in 2020 The Sign Records

Track listing
1. The Void 3:40
2. Dwell In Misery 3:12
3. Cruel Hearts 2:57
4. Baby, When You Cry 3:33
5. The Night Is Young 3:50
6. Eat Dust 2:32
7. A Touch Of Death 4:00
8. El Camino Real 2:33
9. Pretender 3:46
10. Evil Blood 2:18
11. Midnight Crawler 3:44
12. Your Love Remains 3:22
13. Devil’s Breath 3:15

Band members
Tor Abyss – vocals
Mickey Necro – guitars
Marshall Speed – guitars
Benny Zin – bass
Jay Impact – drums

Album Review – Tannoiser / Alamut EP (2018)

An excellent album of crushing, distorted and obscure sounds, courtesy of an Italian power trio ready to spread darkness in the name of old school Sludge and Doom Metal.

Forged during the summer of 2015 in Salò, a town and comune in the Province of Brescia in the region of Lombardy on the banks of Lake Garda, in Italy, Stoner/Doom Metal power trio Tannoiser is a reality among us with their slow and obscure music inspired by cult acts such as Celtic Frost, Electric Wizard and Cathedral, also inserting some stylistic elements dear to the primordial Black Metal into the mix. Comprised of Bruno Almici on vocals and bass, Francesco Bellucci on the guitar and Davide Serpelloni on drums, Tannoiser are unleashing upon humanity their brand new EP, entitled Alamut, aiming at spreading darkness through their low-tuned, rumbling instruments and screams, all in the name of old school Doom Metal.

The name of the album is a clear reference to the mountain fortress, whose remains are located in the current Iran and which served as the basis for the sect of the Nizarites, better known as Hashashin, a story distinguished by mysteries that weave reality and legend. The dark, also understood as a lack of certainties, is another underlying macroscopic theme, starting from the subject chosen for the cover itself, the cannabis plant, whose history in the last century has been characterized by obscurantism and demonization, and which is linked to the history of the stronghold of Alamut. Musically speaking, as aforementioned Alamut brings to the listener doomed and distorted heavy music that lives up to the legacy of the genre, turning the album into a must-listen for diehard Doom Metal fans in pursuit of fresh alternatives in the market.

In the opening track, curiously named Baba Vanga after a blind Bulgarian mystic, clairvoyant, and herbalist, a beyond weird intro quickly explodes into piercing and rumbling Stoner Metal led by the low-tuned bass and the anguished roars by Bruno, while Francesco slashes his strings in a vibrant fusion of old school Doom Metal and modern Rock N’ Roll. And the trio wastes no time and keep firing their fun and vibrant Stoner Metal in Paradacsa, with the bass punches being nicely supported by Davide’s steady and fierce beats. Moreover, the song presents an even more menacing vibe than its predecessor, being highly recommended for banging your head really hard in pitch black darkness; whereas the scorching hot buzzing blasted by Bruno from his bass ignites a somber Doom Metal feast titled Necrophage, where he also growls in a perturbing way while Davide keeps pounding our heads with his drums, with the music flowing demonically until its crushing finale.

March of Wrecks continues to pave the power trio’s path of obscurity, anger and pain, even bringing more aggressive nuances from Black Metal to their dense musicality, with Francesco doing an awesome job with his razor-edged riffs, while The Void showcases the most serene start of all songs from the EP, sounding melancholic and eerie with Bruno’s Stygian bass lines taking the lead while Francesco’s guitar lines once again bring electricity to the music. Then it’s Davide who takes care of kicking off their last breath of top-of-the-line Doom and Stoner Metal, titled Mekkano, remaining as dark as doomed music can be, with all band members adding their touch of malignancy to the sonority, especially Francesco with his mesmerizing riffs.

Entering the dark and sluggish world of Tannoiser is quite easy, as all you need to do is follow them on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and of course purchase your copy of Alamut (available for a full listen on YouTube and on SoundCloud) directly from their BandCamp page or from Amazon. Tannoiser were spot on with their thrilling fusion of Stoner and Doom Metal in Alamut, and apparently the band will only grow stronger and stronger as time goes by, pointing to a bright future not only for the band but for the entire genre as well.

Best moments of the album: Baba Vanga and March of Wrecks.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Leynir Booking & Prod

Track listing
1. Baba Vanga 4:11
2. Paradacsa 5:33
3. Necrophage 5:20
4. March of Wrecks 3:59
5. The Void 5:52
6. Mekkano 4:38

Band members
Bruno Almici – vocals, bass
Francesco Bellucci – guitar
Davide Serpelloni – drums