Album Review – Goatchrist / Apotheosis (2020)

One of UK’s most innovative underground acts returns with a multi-layered and very experimental concept album representing a hugely-modified musical retelling of the Books of Enoch.

One year after the release of the excellent Pythagoras and after unleashing upon humanity a series of non-metal albums in 2020, those being Revelations of the Gnostic Christ, The Philosopher’s Hand and more recently Goatchrist, Leeds, UK’s own vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Guilherme (or J. Guilherme if you prefer) and his Experimental Black Metal alter-ego Goatchrist are back with another imposing opus entitled Apotheosis, a concept album representing a hugely-modified musical retelling of the Books of Enoch, apocryphal magical texts from antiquity. Following the story of Edris, who leaves his hometown due to his perception of its absolute wickedness in order to find a city of divinely-acting inhabitants, Apotheosis showcases once again the undeniable talent of J. Guilherme, this time accompanied by D. Tann and guests A. Billingham and R. Shipley providing several different voices to give life to all characters involved in the story, inviting the listener to join Goatchrist in another detailed and very entertaining musical voyage.

Stygian guitars permeate the air in the cryptic intro Prologue – From a People Lost… while Jacob begins declaiming its cryptic words, warming us up for the absolutely experimental and progressive Chapter 1 – …unto the Wilderness, Seeking the City of Divine Beings (מַלְכוּת), where its lyrics couldn’t have been darker and more poetic than what they already are (“I am born from great evil, / My mind has dwelt in sin. / I have not mind or heart, / As awakened cantors deep within.”), blending Progressive Metal with heavier sounds and non-metal styles and, therefore, turning it into a beyond amazing ride for fans of all types of rock and metal music. And continuing his path of experimentations and metaphysical philosophies, Jacob and his Goatchrist offer another epic composition titled Chapter 2 – Hark! Appeareth (מֶטָטְרוֹן), where all guitars, drums, keys and orchestrations generate a bold ambience for his demonic gnarls, resulting in a progressive and sharp hybrid of Cradle of Filth and Opeth. Then a very theatrical start kicks off the 11-minute aria Chapter 3 – Five Archangels, bringing to our ears classic piano and keys, deep guttural vociferations and sluggish, Doom Metal-inspired beats, also presenting Jazz-y moments, endless breaks and variations and an enfolding atmosphere from start to finish, not to mention the amazing job done by guest R. Shipley as the voices of Gabriel and Michael.

Chapter 4 – I Am That Which Is Called ‘I Am’ (אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה) brings forward another round of Goatchrist’s wicked words (“[0] “No-thing” is that which exists, / And at the start, is that which is. / But from “thing-ness” it is disjoint, / And thus contracts to a single point.”) while the music is once again an explosion of countless rock, metal and other distinguished styles, with Jacob firing classic bass lines, soulful guitar solos and his trademark growling. Put differently, it can’t get any more experimental, multi-layered and dynamic than this. Or maybe it can, as Chapter 5 – Reborn unto Paradise (כֶּתֶר in Microcosm) blends elements from Ambient, Shoegazing and Atmospheric Black Metal to Goatchrist’s core Experimental Metal, resulting in a musical voyage where all voices by Jacob, D. Tann and A. Billingham make the whole experience even more enthralling and detailed. Furthermore, it’s interesting how Jacob meticulously added tons of idiosyncratic sounds in the background while at the same time keeping the whole song very cohesive and smooth, growing in intensity until its visceral and beast-like grand finale.

Needless to say, Jacob and his always electrifying Goatchrist managed to surprise us one more time with the high quality of the music and the exceptional concept found in his new album Apotheosis, and after so many top-notch releases in a row and in such a short period of time one can never know where the project will go from now on, which lands and storylines Jacob will explore, nor what types of music styles will be incorporated into his unique compositions. Hence, don’t forget to follow Goatchrist on Facebook, to listen to more of the project’s music on Spotify, and to purchase a copy of Apotheosis from Goatchrist’s own BandCamp page or from Amazon, keeping in mind the BandCamp download will also include two publications, one called “The Magical Key to Understanding the Album ‘Apotheosis’”, and another one titled “Third Book of Enoch”, just to give you an idea of how focused and detailed-oriented Jacob is whenever his mind begins paving the next step in the career of Goatchrist. Are you curious to know what happens to Edris in Apotheosis? Well, why don’t you let Jacob tell you that through the very distinguished music by Goatchrist? I’m sure you’ll get addicted to all of his sonic experimentations, just like what he has to offer in Apotheosis.

Best moments of the album: Chapter 1 – …unto the Wilderness, Seeking the City of Divine Beings (מַלְכוּת) and Chapter 5 – Reborn unto Paradise (כֶּתֶר in Microcosm).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Prologue – From a People Lost… 2:12
2. Chapter 1 – …unto the Wilderness, Seeking the City of Divine Beings 9:53
3. Chapter 2 – Hark! Appeareth 7:13
4. Chapter 3 – Five Archangels 11:23
5. Chapter 4 – I Am That Which Is Called ‘I Am’ 9:41
6. Chapter 5 – Reborn unto Paradise (כֶּתֶר in Microcosm) 17:11

Band members
J. Guilherme – all instruments, narration, voices of יהוה, Uriel, Raphael and Lucifer
D. Tann – voices of Edris, מֶטָטְרוֹן and Lucifer

Guest musicians
A. Billingham – voices of Sophia and Lucifer
R. Shipley – voices of Michael and Gabriel

Album Review – Sathamel / Horror Vacui (2019)

A seething cauldron of fire and blood in the form of Blackened Death Metal made in the UK, feeding the primal fear that writhes in our souls.

Is there anything more terrifying to the human mind than the void? Is it not the emptiness that lies beyond our last breath that props up all our dreams of heaven? That’s what a Black/Death Metal band formed in 2012 in Leeds, a city in the northern English county of Yorkshire, under the name Sheol, but currently known as Sathamel, is going to tell us all in their brand new album entitled Horror Vacui, a concept in art that is approximately translated from Latin to “fear of empty spaces”, continuing the path of darkness from their previous releases after a two-year hiatus while creating a more cohesive sound, and with the title applied in a more literal sense in terms of the void felt while the entity that is Sathamel had halted all activity.

Mixed and mastered by Samuel Turbitt at Ritual Sound Studios, Horror Vacui is a seething cauldron of fire and blood, a declaration of war, an edict of domination and a sentence of death, all embraced by the fulminating and devilish sounds blasted by Sathamel’s brand new lineup comprised of vocalist Kruk, guitarists KVN and Cygnus, bassist Nadir and drummer Reykr, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the scorching music by Hate, Behemoth, Deicide and Marduk. Each song in Horror Vacui carries that touch of darkness from beyond the world and feeds the primal fear that writhes in our souls, powerfully representing all your fears unleashed in an unrelenting firestorm of terror.

In the opening tune Libera Me, a cinematic intro will enfold you in darkness until the music reaches a devilish level led by Kruk’s enraged roars, growing into modern-day Black Metal showcasing scorching riffs by KVN and Cygnus and the infernal blast beats by Reykr. Needless to say, this is not recommended for the lighthearted, being effectively spiced up by phantasmagorical background sounds and vocalizations. The title-track Horror Vacui is brutal and blasphemous in the vein of Behemoth, with its dense and sulfuric instrumental penetrating deep inside your skin while you can enjoy dark poetry flowing form its lyrics (“Together as one / A carrion beast and tyrant’s fist / to consume the stars with purest joy / and to feed on covenants of creation / I create a masterpiece of horror and ecstasy / My canvas – your hollow smile / The front line expands under mastro’s hands / Universe bends to painter’s will”); and it’s time for total devastation with Sathamel in Raise Flame From Ash, an explosion of Blackened Death Metal where the vocals by Kruk sound as bestial and deep as they can be, with a venomous stench reeking in the air during its two and a half minutes of darkened sounds smashing your brain mercilessly.

KVN and Cygnus, supported by the rumbling bass by Nadir, dictate the rhythm in A New Age Of Lycanthropy, a neck-breaking, malevolent tune presenting all elements we love in extreme music, including a truly obscure and evil aura, whereas in The Devil’s Hand we’re treated to another onrush of demonic words (“Alive but intimate in death / Like maggots we nest / Nest in dead flesh / Alive but dependant on death / Like red fields we blossom embracing the dead”) while the music is beyond infernal, bringing to our ears flammable riffs by the band’s guitar duo and an intricate drumming by Reykr to give the whole song an extra kick. Then Kruk growls and gnarls like a beast from the underworld in Whispers Of A Husk, where the vicious beats by Reykr will crack your skull mercilessly in a lesson in technique and obscurity in the name of Black Metal.

Blazing guitars ignite the also hellish Świt, a cult-like, headbanging hymn crafted by the band, with Nadir extracting sheer thunder from his bass while the background choir makes the whole song more epic and imposing, not to mention how Kruk’s vocals remind me of Unleashed’s own Johnny Hedlund. There’s no time to breathe as Sathamel keep haunting our souls with their fiendish Blackened Death Metal in There Where Is No Time, not as complex and vibrant as the rest of the album but still presenting the band’s characteristic riffage and harsh vocals, and you better get ready for almost eight minutes of virulent and Stygian sounds in Of Spilled Wine And Broken Glass, more rhythmic than all previous songs and full of breaks and variations, but obviously still unleashing pure evil on us, ending in a twisted and obscure way.

If your heart is as dark as the music by Sathamel, and if you do not fear being trapped for all eternity in the void, you can follow the band on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and grab your copy of such otherworldly album, which by the way is available in full on Spotify, from their own BandCamp page or Big Cartel, as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. Sathamel’s onrush of darkness and void will leave you completely disoriented from start to finish, proving once and for all there’s nothing better than some first-class Blackened Death Metal hailing from our beloved United Kingdom to feed all of our inner demons and fears.

Best moments of the album: Horror Vacui, Raise Flame From Ash and Whispers Of A Husk.

Worst moments of the album: There Where Is No Time.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Libera Me 5:51
2. Horror Vacui 4:32
3. Raise Flame From Ash 2:38
4. A New Age Of Lycanthropy 4:20
5. The Devil’s Hand 3:55
6. Whispers Of A Husk 3:48
7. Świt 3:55
8. There Where Is No Time 3:53
9. Of Spilled Wine And Broken Glass 7:41

Band members
Kruk – vocal
KVN – guitar
Cygnus- guitar
Nadir – bass
Reykr – drums

Album Review – Age of Atlas / Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. (2016)

Just hit play and enjoy a feast of heavy, catchy and groovy compositions, brought forth by four promising British musicians who are constantly challenging themselves and pushing the boundaries of progressive music.

Rating4

album-cover-frontIf you have never visited Kingston upon Hull, usually abbreviated to Hull, a city and unitary authority in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, you’re missing all the vitality and distinctiveness of the city’s culture and heritage. For instance, you can go check their Humber Mouth literature festival, the annual Hull Jazz Festival, as well as several other exhibitions, theaters and concerts. Such cultural richness could only translate into amazing heavy music, which is exactly the case with Alternative Rock/Metal band Age of Atlas, who are releasing their first full-length album entitled Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey., following on from their debut EP The Scale of Things to Come, from 2014.

With Peter Measures on vocals, Mikey Scott on drums and the two nearly identical twins Keelan and Kye Beavers on guitar and bass, respectively (which is probably the main reason why they are in perfect synchronicity at all times), this very technical Hull-based group formed in the year of 2012 is highly recommended for fans of the progressive heavy music played by Coheed and Cambria and Tides of Man, among many other distinct bands. Self-recorded at Mikey’s own studio Fruit Trade Music and featuring a beautiful artwork by James Fenwick Illustration, Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. epitomizes everything Age of Atlas are today in a feast of gripping riffs, stunning breaks and poetic vocal lines, obviously pointing to an absolutely bright future that lies ahead for this talented quartet.

The progressive and sharp opening track Sleight Of Hand Of Glory already offers the listener a taste of what Age of Atlas are capable of, with its alternative and psychedelic intro being boosted by the metallic bass lines by Kye before lead singer Peter Measures starts firing his modern poetry (“The thunder in your tongue finger lisps the blood from the thumb / Your hunter handed stitching yearns and breaks and comes undone”), not to mention the elements of Blues and Jazz added to the musicality which end up expanding its range even more. And that’s only the beginning, as the punchy riffs by Keelan and the roaring drums by Mikey steal the show in Natural Sciences, a hybrid of Dream Theater and Gojira with a Hard Rock twist. Despite being considerably heavy for many average radio listeners, I’m more than sure this electrifying tune could still be played at any rock n’ roll radio station in the world and become an instant hit. While that doesn’t happen, you can keep enjoying the intricacy provided by Kye on bass and the spot-on guitar solos by Keelan in For The Feast That Follows, some sort of “controlled craziness” that works really well from start ot finish, bringing pure awesomeness to our ears.

Presenting a modernized ambience, Father Of The Fear Of Falling is a soulful and technical composition where the complexity provide by Mikey on drums flawlessly supports the alternating moments of melodious softness and headbanging riffs found throughout the entire music; while Echoes Of Empire, presenting even more tempo changes and a passionate performance by Peter on vocals, is another sonic experiment for fans of Progressive Metal, with its backing vocals adding an extra touch of liveliness to the song. In The Brackening, highly influenced by Groove Metal but still having Progressive Rock as its core element, pay good attention to the “battle” between brothers Keelan and Kye with their unstoppable stringed weapons while Peter continues to blast his fiery vocal lines. An in Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance the band presents a more mainstream approach through smooth and progressive Hard Rock lines. This can be considered the most generic (or least innovative) of all tracks, albeit being well-crafted and offering a solid performance by Peter supported by the song’s background keyboards.

pic1Background electronic effects, rumbling bass lines and a headbanging rhythm make listening to the excellent Ambering a very positive experience, displaying even hints of pop music in certain moments. Furthermore, the last piece of the song is one of those progressive journeys loved by fans of the genre, which should sound incredible if played live. Then we have Needer, sounding heavier and sharper at first, but getting back to the band’s harmonious experimentations. Needless to say how bass and drums get inside your head and shake your brain in a good way, another remarkable characteristic of the music by Age of Atlas. And the icing on the cake comes in the form of an almost 7-minute aria of progressiveness named Gyromancer: it doesn’t matter if you prefer heavier and crazier sounds or a more serene complexity, the band brings forward all variations of Progressive Metal and Rock in this powerful tune, and the final result will certainly electrify the rest of your day.

As any other creative progressive band, Age of Atlas do not settle down at all and are already working on writing and refining new material for a follow up second album. While we wait for the next chapter in their promising career, let’s visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud to know more about the band and to enjoy more of their music. And as an early Christmas gift (and to show how nice the citizens of Hull are), Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. is available as a free download for fans who sign up to the band’s mailing list (which you can do by clicking HERE). “We’ll always try and push ourselves in new ways and writing new material, working on new songs, is the most enjoyable way of challenging ourselves.” says vocalist Peter, and we must all agree that as long as they keep challenging themselves and releasing albums like Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey., the future of progressive and groovy music looks more than good not only for Kingston upon Hull, but for the entire world.

Best moments of the album: Sleight Of Hand Of Glory, Natural Sciences and The Brackening.

Worst moments of the album: Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing 
1. Sleight Of Hand Of Glory 4:26
2. Natural Sciences 3:06
3. For The Feast That Follows 3:49
4. Father Of The Fear Of Falling 3:43
5. Echoes Of Empire 4:08
6. The Brackening 5:28
7. Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance 4:37
8. Ambering 3:25
9. Needer 3:57
10. Gyromancer 6:52

Band members
Peter Measures – vocals
Keelan Beavers – guitar
Kye Beavers – bass
Mikey Scott – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Lena Abé

Your presence here astonishes us, Lena!

Another year, another fantastic female bass player to reignite The Headbanging Moose and thaw all the ice and snow accumulated in the past few weeks. Coincidence or not, she’s also a “doom” bassist just like last year, corroborating the darkest side of music always welcomes any metal chick that chooses to ride the four-strings with arms wide open. I’m talking about Lena Abé, the awesome bassist for British Doom Metal icons My Dying Bride and a woman that, above all things, loves her family, friends and heavy music.

Lena was born on January 4, 1983 in Tokyo, Japan, but moved to the UK with her family when she was still a little baby. Half Japanese and half British, she was raised in Yorkshire and, according to Lena herself, she has the proper accent to prove it. Coming from a musical family and seeing her family as one of her major influences, Lena started in the world of music when she was around 10 years old, having keyboards and other creative toys instead of the usual dolls. She started playing the guitar then, watching her father play his own and wanting to be like him. She mentioned during one of her interviews that the rest of her story is quite typical for most musicians, as she played with some bands in high school, got more involved with the metal scene, and then finally joined My Dying Bride.

Being so close to family has brought lots of benefits to Lena, especially in terms of her inner strength and perseverance, never giving up on her dreams and projects. Our badass bassist believes learning is a never-ending cycle, saying she’s always learning new things by herself or from other people and musicians. By the way, Lena said she has a drum kit in her cellar, which she’s determined to master at some point in her life. With that said, it’s easy to understand why she truly hates things like selfishness, rudeness and inconsideration, and why one of her favorite quotes is “What matters is not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.”

She said she doesn’t remember exactly when she got to know My Dying Bride before joining them, but she remember seeing the band in magazines such as Kerrang and Terrorizer and on MTV. She really got into them around 2004 by listening to their album Songs of Darkness, Words of Light and by seeing them live, and that was more than enough for her to begin exploring the rest of the band’s catalogue.

In regards to her career with them, Lena replaced Adrian Jackson as the band’s bassist in 2007, which was around when Dan Mullins replaced John Bennett on drums. She used to live just a couple of streets apart from the band’s guitarist and founding member Andrew Craighan and they had some friends in common, so when Adrian left the band Andrew asked her to audition. I don’t need to say Andrew and the rest of the band loved her style and skills, right?

So far she has recorded with My Dying Bride the live album An Ode to Woe (2008); the full-length albums For Lies I Sire (2009), A Map of All Our Failures (2012) and Feel the Misery (2015); the EP’s Bring Me Victory (2009), The Barghest o’ Whitby (2011) and The Manuscript (2013); and the single Hollow Cathedra (2015), with For Lies I Sire being her favorite album by My Dying Bride, including all their previous releases from even when she wasn’t their bassist. She also played rhythm guitar for British Death/Black Metal band Severed Heaven between 2011 and 2014, but didn’t record anything with them except for their live performances. Some excellent options for the ones who want to listen to Lena kicking fuckin’ ass with her powerful bass guitar together with My Dying Bride are the songs Like a Perpetual FuneralAnd My Father Left ForeverBring Me Victory and Feel the Misery.

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Our Nippo-British diva believes that spending time with the other band members on tour is one of the best things about being in a metal band, and among her most memorable moments on the road are meeting Adam Jones from Tool and him inviting her to their Manchester show as a VIP, and playing with Metallica and Mastodon in Athens, Greece in 2007. One important detail about this is that, according to Lena, that was only her sixth or seventh show with My Dying Bride, so you can imagine how much adrenaline was rushing through her veins then. In terms of her favorite cities and/or countries to visit or to perform with the band, she mentioned Moscow, Romania, Mexico City, Florida and, of course, Japan. And although being raised in the UK, she considers the UK metal scene very weak and depressing, where people are not willing to spend any money on local bands or travel any distance to see them live.

During her early teens, when she was a fan of alternative music such as Portishead, Janes Addiction and Weezer, she started looking for more powerful music, finally connecting to Heavy Metal. Among her favorite bands we can find dark and progressive acts like All Shall Perish, Behemoth, Tool, Septic Flesh, Tomahawk and Whitechapel, and as a fan of witch house she also enjoys the dark beats by bands like Salem, Mater Susperia Vision and RVT$TVX. In addition, one of her favorite most recent albums is Weighing Souls With Sand, from 2007, by The Angelic Process. Take a listen at this album HERE and you’ll see how dark the music enjoyed by Lena is. And if you want to know her list of the 11 most miserable songs in the world, simply click HERE. You will find amazing bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Type O Negative, especially this one with the song Red Water (Christmas Mourning), very powerful and, obviously, miserable.

Lastly, in terms of hobbies and other activities in her personal life, Lena mentioned she simply loves Wii, Xbox and video games in general, including retro gaming too, as well as she’s a fitness fanatic and likes to spend her evenings at the gym. Also, she reads a lot of true crime and lists Lost Highway as her favorite film. And guess what her favorite food is? Sushi, of course! She might have been raised in the UK, but her Japanese blood gets stronger and speaks up at least in this case.

Equipment
Mayones Be 4 Gothic bass guitar
Mayones 5-String Patriot
Mayones Slogan custom 5-string
Trace Elliot AH600-12 Head amp head, 1518 + 1048H cabinets

Lena Abé’s Official Facebook page
Lena Abé’s Official Twitter
My Dying Bride’s Official Facebook page

My Dying Bride’s Official Twitter

“Prepare yourselves for failure after failure. If you can survive the disappointment and hardship you might just make it with some sanity intact.” – Lena Abé