Monday, December 31, 2018

Gross Misconduct

Founded almost 20 years ago, and with three full-length studio albums to its name, the Canadian band Gross Misconduct has its share of experience. According to Metal Archives, the band is independent and has been since the beginning. The most recent work is the 2018 album titled Equinox. It was released on the 2nd of November. It has the following tracks.
1.Equinox 05:45
2.A Place of Bones 05:50
3.Exhaustive, Integral 05:27
4.Triserpentine 06:24
5.After the Vultures 04:27
6.Ocean Inferno 05:22
7.The Cloak 02:18
8.Slow Burn 06:11
total time 41:44
Equipped with a good production, it helps them a lot to have all that experience in order to make an independent album that can boom in the ears when you hear it. Having never heard the band, I was not expecting anything in particular. When you hear it, the modern extreme metal comes through immediately. The growling is mostly based on death metal, and the vocals are a bit comprehensible, and surprisingly so because I keep getting the impression that all the words are intelligible (or feel intelligible, most of the time). The guitars are progressive extreme metal, and it’s all types of headbanging guitar sounds, a bit of thrashy moments, some black metal riffing, melodic death metal parts and grooves are present throughout, but they wrap it with a solid Gross Misconduct treatment so that it is all smooth as the band’s style, not as a mix of various random genres. From the album’s start to the end, there is a consistent style that gives the flavor to the album.
Besides the work of putting together an album that sounds professional; that shows the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into making an album that they can be proud of; and the band’s dedication to the creative process of making metal music for no other reason than the spiritual satisfaction that you get from music—besides all that, which is all commendable—the one thing that I can say is the closer, the thing that clinches it all, has got to be the melodies. The melodies may not be that easy to hear at first because it’s extreme metal. You know, the overpowering sound of headbanging extreme metal, and all that, but once your hearing adjusts to the situation, the lay of the land, then the red carpet is really ready for the melodies to show up and do their thing. The band is not content with being good at being loud. Nor are they satisfied with showing that they can play their instruments. All good things, but you have to have the songs.
People say that today’s music listener has no patience. They say that the average listener does not wait very long before clicking and moving on to the next mosquito-attention-span thing and clicking away down the rabbit hole. I don’t know if that is true or not, but o.k., let’s do it that way and let’s see if you hear what these Canadians have to offer. If I have to recommend one song, I suggest that you listen to “Ocean Inferno.” If I may say so, though, I hope that you give it more than 13 seconds before clicking on to the next band. Don’t be that cruel because at about the 3:12 mark the guitar solo will kick in. I will not spoil it for you now. I will just say this: the band—to paraphrase what Scorpions said a long, long time ago—reached for the guitar melodies that will touch your feelings. If you don’t feel it, that’s fine, go back to what you were doing, but I’m just telling you that this song gives a good idea of what Gross Misconduct is all about. It’s a fine, fine song, as is the entire album.
OFFICIAL BAND BIOGRAPHY: There has been no script, adherence to the outside, nor even so much a thought given to what happens outside of four walls, two guitars, a bass, drums and a few microphones. Vancouver, Canada's Gross Misconduct enters its second decade as a band with continued and unrelenting focus on craft, songwriting and an uncompromising live show. Established in 1999 and consisting of founding members David London, Jesse Brint, John Kurucz and “new guy” Julian Kenchenten, the four-piece is poised to release its most complete offering with the band's third full-length release, Equinox.
Slated for a fall 2018 release, Equinox builds upon the foundation laid in Gross Misconduct's first two albums, The Process of Indoctrination (2007) and The Disconnect (2011). Equinox is an amalgam of the frantic thrash found on the band's debut and the more progressive death metal elements of its followup. The fast parts are faster, the slow parts are moodier. Songs breathe. Imagine Cynic with a dollop of Death, a smattering of The Crown/Mastodon/Gojira and healthy doses of 1980s Metallica and Slayer. This is where Equinox finds its home. The lyrical content straddles a myriad of inspirations from personal tragedy and death, to the natural world and observations on the human condition.
Hundreds of shows later, Gross Misconduct has shared the stage with seminal bands from across the globe: Napalm Death, At the Gates, Amon Amarth, The Haunted, Dark Tranquility, Insomnium, Amorphis, Brutal Truth, Skeletonwitch, Forbidden, Rotten Sound, among many others. Domestically, the Vancouver group has shared the stage with some of Canada's finest: Archspire, Augury, Fuck the Facts, Martyr, Neuraxis, No Means No, The Dayglo Abortions, Anonymus. Those efforts have not gone unnoticed on both the international and domestic fronts.

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Vindictive Miscreant
release date: November 28th, 2018
label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Master’s Paul Speckmann has been tearing it up since the early 1980s. That was a long time ago, kids. Master is a cult favorite for death metal fanatics due to the long discography and associated acts like Abomination and Death Strike, and the regular schedule of album releases.
Lyrically, Master is outspoken about its left, liberal political perspective, and this has been the case since the beginning, basically, talking about nuclear holocaust and weapons of mass destruction, criticizing political/social/religious institutions, all done in the rage of extreme metal. The lyrics rant and rave against politicians in general, and especially against Republican presidents of the United States (Paul is American, but the band is based in the Czech Republic and Paul has lived there for a long time).
In 2018 Master delivers on the groove death metal that is their trademark. It’s death metal with an old-school rock and roll way of writing songs. It goes something like this: thrash-style drumming and punk-metal drumming set to heavy, thick, grooving guitars, that utilize loudness and simplicity to connect right away. It’s bottom-heavy, pounding grooves with gruff, painful, furious growling.
The problem with this description is that it cannot arrive at the real uniqueness of the old-school Master death metal: good songwriting, with unmistakable vocals, that sounds like only Master does. There is charm, that quality that comes from old age, rock and roll, old metal, experience, from touring for years and years and years and understanding that in a live setting Master fans want to rock. Give them what they want. The people do not come to this show to gaze at their shoes, look at their belly buttons and stand there in contemplation of the meaning of the floor. They come to drink, mosh, scream and get rowdy.
Master knows its audience, and the audience wants Master to do what they do year round, year after year, sticking to the only the story that they have ever told. What a story it is. Listen to Master and have a good time. Do it again.

Saturday, December 29, 2018


Apocalyptic Rhymes
release date: November 9th, 2018
label: Cruz del Sur Music
1.The End 01:16
2.The Weight of the World 04:38
3.Home, Sweet Hell 05:16
4.Apocalyptic Rhymes 03:39
5.Make a Stand 03:36
6.The Unfathomable Evil 03:35
7.P.O.T.U.S.A. 04:56
8.Cosmic Outrage 04:22
9.Nothingness Awaits 03:15
10.Sunset Blood 07:19
total time 41:52
This is album number two for the German old-school thrashers. Like the album says, the band, which includes members of two veteran and respected acts Lanfear and Atlantean Kodex, has been watching the news and they don’t like what they see. They are not the biggest fans of capitalism, they have been observing the development of social problems, and have kept an eye on politics, all the while writing rocking tunes for banging your head.
It seems like lots of thrash bands do not like the 2018 president of the United States due to the musicians’ liberal politics, and Septagon is amongst the bunch that love to hate him every day of their lives. Given that the media have an unhealthy obsession with the man, watching the news makes many people hate him obsessively and compulsively. Septagon has written at least one song directly about him: P.O.T.U.S.A., President of the United States of Absurdistan. It’s angry, it’s headbanging, it’s obscene, and you might not want to play it in the presence of children, or supporters of the president.
Will conservative thrash fans that support the president enjoy hearing a band that insults him? Of course, not. Therefore, liberal, leftist thrash fans should be pleased with the Germans’ decision to take out all their political frustrations and their hatred of the U.S. president through memorable, fun thrash music. It’s done well, with a good production (you can hear the bass well, for instance), with good melodies, good thrash singing and catchy songs. Some people will love the album, others will not like the band’s approach of dividing the audience into liberals/conservatives and saying, “conservatives not welcome here.”


The Face of Fear
release date: November 16th, 2018
label: Metal Blade Records
Artillery (Denmark) began in the early 1980s. In 1985 they hit the ground running with their debut Fear of Tomorrow, a dark thrash album that will make you bang your head from start to finish. They followed in 1987 with Terror Squad, with a clearer sound quality and angrier harsher vocals and political outrage. The devil in the debut becomes the politicians in the second album. Both albums deserve to be heard by die-hard 1980s thrash fanatics. In 1990 they had their most accessible work, less thrashy, more melodic, more memorable; they made some changes, with better production, but it was Artillery metal on By Inheritance. Things should have continued very well for them.
The 1990s were not the best of times for the band, and they were basically missing in action. In 1999 they had B.A.C.K. out, another good album, but somehow things were not well and there was no new music for another 10 years. They figured things out, and in 2009, with a different vocalist, they recorded a new album. They really had figured it out now, and in 2011 there was another new album. In 2013 (their first one with their current vocalist) they pressed on, and then again in 2016.
In 2018 they continue to impress. Hopefully, Metal Blade Records and Artillery are content with each other and the band stays on this course. Working with both thrash and traditional heavy metal, with a thicker guitar tone than the old days, and a singer that does the air raid siren when called for, and the more forceful thrash screaming, too. Still thrashing, but also tasteful, Artillery nowadays is very enjoyable and their songs hit the target efficiently and quickly. Nicely done.


Vanitas Vanitatvm
release date: September 28th, 2018
label: Prophecy Productions
track listing:
1.Es ist ein sterbendt Liecht 01:00 instrumental
2.SATVRNVS 07:49
3.Λωτοφάγοι 06:09
4.Blutmond 06:25
5.Da brachen aus böse Blattern, am Menschen und am Vieh 06:44
6.VANITAS VANITATVM 02:36 instrumental
7.In Eis und Nacht 05:44
8.Nachzehrer 08:18
9.Als die Welt zur Nacht sich wandt 05:32
10.Νεϰρόπολις 09:34
11.Der Tag an dem das Meer seine Toten freigibt 02:50 instrumental
total time 01:02:41
Helrunar (Germany) now has a total of five studio albums and has been recording music for almost 20 years. This 2018 hour-long German-language work is a presentation that requires listeners with high expectations. The music elaborates on the aesthetics of black metal through the use of tremolo picking, thrash-based riffing, fast/blasting drumming, and the traditional BM vocals that feature a gruff, strong roaring type of rasp. This, in and of itself, is a very attractive sound. However, that is one half of the story only, for the other half consists of the creation of other moods, such as melancholy, foreboding, expectation, contemplation, and more, and all of which are realized in proportion to the black metal.
As examples, here is a bit of information about the last three tracks. Song number nine is a fast and a heavy beginning, with the bass guitar very audible, a generally muscular bottom end, almost with the production mentality of U.S. brutal death metal or of a sludge/doom band, and you don’t hear that many black metal bands sounding this heavy and full. You should hear these fast black metal parts done this way; it might surprise you how good it sounds. Number ten follows. Can black metal have groove? Helrunar proves that it is possible. A midtempo, heavy groove set to a German-language snarl sounds mighty fine. The song picks up a speed to an angry, thrashing tempo, and then dives into a journey of meandering melodies and melancholy, with some clear melodies over the thick rhythm guitars underneath, and ending with some very slow vibes towards the end, segueing into the last track. This last one is several minutes of viola slowly working away to end the album.
It’s not an easy-listening experience, of course, but then that is the whole point of Helrunar. This album is highly recommended for fans of serious, mature black metal. Look into the album if you want to dig into a work that offers a professional-level sound quality, and music that offers some depth in the instrumentation and songwriting. Imagine, if you will, the mentality of Rush, the more expansive thinking, applied to black metal, and Helrunar may make more sense.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Karmic Link

Karmic Link
Dark Metropolis
release date: October 19th, 2018
label: Rockshots Records
This album is really fun, compact, and catchy. It is focused on nothing else if not on creating direct songs that any open-minded rock music aficionado can understand, and understand them very quickly. The music utilizes various components to achieve this objective. Karmic Link works a particular type of dark pop goth metal that is nowhere near as strange as it looks in print to read it.
The songs and drumming are driven by big beats. The energy of the drumming works very well with the gothic/dance/pop/prog melodies of the keyboards, which is crucial for this album. The keyboards almost steal the show, actually, given their preponderance. The guitar riffs are also beat-driven and you could say that they take a back seat to the percussion and keyboards in terms of dominance. Having said that, the guitar melodies and solos, which are kept on a tight leash here, are very catchy. They get in, do their work, and leave after their work is done. The vocals are something like dark gothic industrial; somewhat shouty, somewhat growly, possibly with some effects on them, but pushed back enough in the mix for a proportionate element in the music.
The album delivers catchy song, after catchy tune. Every song has something to hook you in. This music might make you dance or bang your head or go to a rave. Or something like that. It looks like the band doesn’t care about genre rules or music behavior rules. Dance or mosh, it’s all the same here. Just relax those shoulders. It’s music. Different. Fun. Catchy. Surprising. Karmic Link.

Metal Bulletin Zine number 158

check out online issue number 158 of Metal Bulletin Zine: Massive Scar Era, Solium Fatalis, A Forest of Stars, William Wallace, Lost Tribes of the Moon

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

read online Metal Bulletin Zine number 157

At the link below read issue number 157 of Metal Bulletin Zine. Number 157 features: Noceur, Overwrought, Alchemy Chamber, Behemoth, and Sage.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


The Waters of Death
Cruz Del Sur Music
9 November 2018
This one is for fans of the old-school traditional doom with melancholic and beautiful guitar melodies and angelic singing. The quality of the recording is solid. The music is song-oriented, with slow moments that are typical of the genre, and with segments of uptempo pace that contrast well with the more somber moments. On one hand, you come here to this band because you want to hear good riffs and you want to hear the notes. The guitar melodies for the riffing and the soloing should be most pleasing to dedicated fans of the genre, especially those fans that enjoy the 1980s/1990s Dio/Martin guitar style of Black Sabbath, and the classic Candlemass and Trouble vibes. On the other hand, you come here to this band because you are looking for someone who can carry a tune in a pleasing way to the ears, who can sing and reach you that way, by singing, with the voice and the melodies.
Solemn doom crosses paths with epic heavy metal from this unique U.K. duo. The 2012 creation of multi-instrumentalist James Ashbey, Lethean's inventive combination of epic metal, NWOBHM and doom is put on full display on their six-song The Waters of Death debut, an album rife with atmosphere and imagery. Hailing from England, Lethean was formed in late 2012 by guitarist/drummer James Ashbey with the ambition of combining epic metal, NWOBHM and doom. The result was a distinctive sound rarely found in the British Isles. Two demos followed, the first forged in the U.K., the second in Athens, but these did not enjoy physical release and only reached a limited underground audience. Finally, the band got the boost it needed when, in early 2017, vocalist and co-writer Thumri Paavana came aboard.
A year later, Ashbey and Paavana entered the Seven Gates recording studio in Gothenburg, Sweden under the watchful eye of producer Jamie Elton (ex-Amulet). Utilizing organic recording techniques and employing an analogue mastering job courtesy of Jaime Gomez (of Angel Witch and Paradise Lost fame), Lethean came away with six songs of sorrowful yet nuanced doom and classic metal under the title The Waters of Death. The album, kickstarted by climactic opener "Idylls of the King" features a myriad of styles and influences, with mournful melodies and classic riffing complementing the impassioned and soulful delivery of Paavana.
Accompanied by atmospheric cover art courtesy of German artist Stefan Bleyl, The Waters of Death is an album that details themes of decline, departure and the passage of time, reinforced by diverse imagery drawn from mythology, literature and the elements. Ambitious in scope and rich in the fundamental traits of epic heavy metal, The Waters of Death firmly places Lethean into their own category where class, intelligence and a taste for the bold reign supreme.
Track Listing:
1. Idylls Of The King
2. Seafarer
3. In Darkness Veiled
4. Time And The Gods
5. Across Grey Waters
6. Devouring Fire
Lethean is:
Thumri Paavana - Vocals
James Ashbey - All Instruments

Weapon U.K.

Weapon U.K.
Set the Stage Alight - The Anthology
release date: Friday, November 30th 2018
Pure Steel Records
1. Set The Stage Alight
2. Liar
3. Take That Bottle
4. One Night Stand
5. Mad Mad World
6. Midnight Satisfaction
7. Bad Love
8. Olivia
9. Remote Control
10. Light Of The World
11. Killer Instinct
12. Things You Do
total playing time: 45:02 min
Danny Hynes – lead vocals
Jeff Summers – vocals, guitars
Baz Downes – bass, vocals
Bruce Bisland – drums
Die-hard fans of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, here is something nice for you. The people at Pure Steel Records in 2018 have put out the early recordings by Weapon. Nowadays the band is active, but this collection goes back to the earliest recordings from around 1980-1981. Listening to the tunes today you feel the youthful energy and the excitement of a band making music at a time, taking inspiration from Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Bad Company and other bands from the 1970s. It is fun, rocking-out music from what has become a legendary time for students of heavy metal history. Below is the official information from Pure Steel Records:
from Pure Steel Records
“Set The Stage Alight” must be considered one of the biggest hymns of the entire New Wave Of British Heavy Metal period. Just ask a certain Lars Ulrich. (More of that a bit later). “Set The Stage Alight” originally appeared on the B-Side of Weapon’s debut 7”/12” single »It’s A Mad Mad World« (issued in 1980). The original “classic” line-up of Weapon consisted of Bruce Bisland (drums), Jeff Summers (guitars), Barry Downes (bass) and Danny Hynes (vocals). The band was initially called Fast Relief but changed its name to Weapon in early 1980. “Set The Stage Alight” was originally also called “Fast Relief” (as well as the band itself) when written in 1979 by Jeff Summers. In addition to that, “Liar”, “It’s A Mad Mad World” and “One Night Stand” were three of the earliest songs the group had written together. The live set at the time consisted of around twelve original compositions (including later stage favourites such as “Midnight Satisfaction”, “Take That Bottle Away”, “Olivia”, “Killer Instinct”, “This Is The Song” and “Remote Control”). People have for a long time been baffled by the astonishing similarities between “Set The Stage Alight” and Metallica’s “Hit The Lights”, especially regarding the main riff. Has the band ever talked to Lars or James about this? Danny Hynes explains: “Anyone who knows the history of Weapon will know that ‘Set The Stage Alight’ was written by Jeff in 1979, three to four years before ‘Hit The Lights’. Metallica actually lifted the whole intro and used it for their song ‘Hit The Lights’! We've never had the chance to talk to Lars or James about it but I've been informed that they used to open their set with ‘Set The Stage Alight’ in the very early years.” Lars later selected the “Set The Stage Alight” for his famous »NWOBHM ‘79 Revisited« compilation album. Due to management problems, the original incarnation of Weapon split up in mid-1981 before having recorded their long awaited debut album. »Set The Stage Alight« now compiles on glorious vinyl what would have been Weapon’s first full-length record. Danny Hynes explains: “We would have completed the four demos and put twelve songs on the album. All the finished tracks were recorded between July and August 1980 at The Manor Studios, Oxford (which was also the home of Richard Branson) and Townhouse Studios, Shepherds Bush, London. The demos were recorded at Alvic Studios in West Kensington, London.”

Monday, December 24, 2018


The Voice of the Cult 30 Years Heavy
Pure Steel Records
release date: October 26th 2018
(original release: 1988)
Side A
1. The Voice Of The Cult
2. Live Hard
3. Chains Of Love
4. Share Yourself With Me
5. Fortune Teller
6. The Voice Of The Cult (Instrumental, Bonustrack)
Side B
7. Child Of Evermore
8. Soldiers Of The Flame
9. Evil For Evil
10. Take Me Home
11. Evil For Evil (Instrumental, Bonustrack)
Leather Leone: vocals
David T. Chastain: guitars
Mike Skimmerhorn: bass, backing vocals
Ken Mary: drums
In 2018 Pure Steel Records issued a new version of the 1988 album The Voice of the Cult by traditional heavy metal underground band Chastain. This gem features the shredding talents of the wizard David T. Chastain, the iron lungs of Leather Leone, with the hard-hitting drumming of the talented Ken Mary, and on bass Mr. Chastain’s reliable partner in crime throughout the 1980s Mike Skimmerhorn.
One of the running themes in the music of David T. Chastain is that he plays for only fans of serious guitar. Mr. Chastain has dedicated his life to the guitar. When he joined with the singer Leather Leone the magic began. Leather has a voice that sounds like only Leather can. Strong and powerful, muscular and gritty, the singing is done with horsepower and if you want to sing along, you most definitely are welcome to do it.
Anyway, the album is considered a cult favorite for fans of U.S. metal and it is because it has stood the test of time well. If you have never heard Chastain, this album is a great place to start.

Heir Apparent

Heir Apparent
The View from Below
No Remorse Records
release date: October 15, 2018
For fans of U.S. bands that have a cult following this Washington state band has a very interesting story. They originally formed in the early 1980s in the Seattle region and after a couple of demos they had their debut full-length Graceful Inheritance published in 1986. By most accounts, the album was received well and in some cases it was treated as a spectacular album. Notice, for instance, the reception afforded to said album on Metal Archives, but it’s not just there. The album has very positive reviews in German, too, and probably in Greek, as it appears that cult fans in Greece do like it quite a bit. In 1989 they followed up with the second work One Small Voice. The album, like the first one, is filled with quality performances and good songs.
If some European metal press liked the band, and some fans were ready for the band’s traditional style of music with good singing, melodies and memorable songs, they faced some very serious problems. Not only were they not based in Europe, they were located in the most distant part of the mainland of the United States up in the Northwest, as far as possible from a big city like New York and still very far from Los Angeles, where the 1980s rock and roll action was taking place. Maybe the band were also not so lucky, and did not meet more of the powerbrokers to hook up with. Perhaps the music was too progressive for the time. Maybe the fact that they changed singers from the first to the second album did not help them, either.
To make matters worse, way worse, it was now the late 1980s and that most despicable of abominations happens in the 1990s, and the unbearable hipsters of their day were catapulted to national prominence: grunge. In the context of the famous Seattle anti-metal arrogance of the tree-hugging, flannel-wearing, whale-saving, recycling, skateboarding, bandwagon-sports-fans, animal-rights-worshipping, we-don’t-have-an-accent-here-in-Seattle, anti-basketball, marijuana-cake-loving, pot-smoking, reefer-eating, vegan-cake-eating, sun-deprived, vitamin D pill-taking, almond-milk-drinking, atheism-is-the-new-religion, anti-talent, no-talent, good-for-nothing grungers of the 1990s, it was difficult for metal bands to thrive.
Heir Apparent broke up. Studio silence for two decades.
In 2018 they make a return with their third album. Nowadays the music is contemporary mellow melodic progressive. As expected, good singing, and good instrumentation. Chill, relaxed songs. Fans of bands like Dream Theater and Fates Warning would perhaps be a main demographic for this music. For this type of style, expect lyrics about politics and a pessimistic view on the state of the world and humanity. It is a pensive, not a rocking-out, style of music, with an intellectual aspect to it, as if the musicians are nowadays teachers, philosophers and parents. Maybe they are.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Into Eternity

Into Eternity
The Sirens
release date: October 26th, 2018
1.The Sirens 07:55
2.Fringes of Psychosis 06:58
3.Sandstorm 03:47
4.This Frozen Hell 07:02
5.Nowhere Near 07:17
6.Devoured by Sarcopenia 07:18
7.Fukushima 05:57
8.The Scattering of Ashes 03:48
total time 50:02
This year finally saw the return of Into Eternity. Has it really been ten years since the last album? While it is true that fans have kept checking in on them year after year to see when they would return, at times it seemed like this album might not happen at all. It’s not just the fans, the struggles of the band have taken a toll on the personnel, too. Nevertheless, the persistence has resulted in a brand new Into Eternity album in 2018.
Naturally, there are changes, but the music is still melodic extreme metal, with a healthy portion of prog power in there. The performances show that this music had been baking for a long time before it saw the light of day. It had to be right before you heard it. The time had to be right. Expectations were high, but no one has higher standards than the band itself. The guitar work sounds great, as usual, the singing is good, as expected, and the drumming goes from uptempo to blasting in the blink of an eye, and blasting remains a part of Into Eternity music.
They have worked hard to make this a worthy comeback. They should be proud. It has taken a lot of hard work. Into Eternity is returned after some ten years of silence and working to come back. The old and new fans should be pleased with the band’s present ways of interpreting melodic extreme metal.

Saturday, December 22, 2018


Rooted in Despair
release date: October 31st, 2018
1.A Morning in the Autumn Forest 04:00
2.To Father Worlds in the Bones of Ancient Solitude 16:35
total time 20:35
Krummholz is an exercise in the beauty of black metal. The recording is named Rooted in Despair, but the music is based on the quest to raise black metal to an art of the sublime, as you would find in the most beautiful heavy metal that there is and that you can think of. The first track is meant to give the sensation of walking in the woods on a bright summer day with the sounds of the waters of the rivers flowing all around and the birds chirping in the presence of the rays of the sun. The keyboards search for the feeling of peace and harmony. This is all a wonderful prologue to the main course that lasts more than 16 minutes. Transitioning smoothly from the first track to the second, they want to build major anticipating by starting with ambient, atmospheric segments perfect for contemplation, meditation, relaxation or prayer, and then about the 1:45 mark the drums make a grand entrance, and coupled with beautiful guitar melodies, now the journey to the stars has lift off. Once you are off the ground, and in the clouds, you have to wait a bit longer for the vocals to kick in about 2:25 and now we have all the components that seek to take us to a higher dimension, where beauty controls the realms of the imagination. The vocals are black metal, and done very well. A midrange type of rasp, not screechy, not too aggressive. The mature style of the black metal vocals works well with the music and the sensation of beauty continues even though it is extreme metal vocals. Finally, on vocals, there is also a mellow type of crooning and in some parts there is an additional singing tone, and it all adds to the objectives of this music, building, adding, leading towards the exploration of the sublime in the melodious sensations, enhanced through guitar and keyboards, of black metal. Very impressive, and with a good sound quality, too.
Krummholz is Noktal from Djibouti on drums, Seeker (Nelson Ulgravyskvrya) from Kenya/U.S. on guitars, keyboards and vocals, and Victor Rosewrath (Uganda) on vocals. Seeker is from the atmospheric black metal entity Nelecc and Rosewrath from the cult doom band Vale of Amonition.

Friday, December 21, 2018


Dreddmaster is do-it-yourself one-person homemade grind from the state of Arizona, U.S. The mind behind the project is Dredd, who prefers to call the music "blackened grindcore" that experiments with various genres in order to create a personal brand of DIY extreme noise. The music is very short, loud, obnoxious and super angry about everything under the sun mostly because Dredd hates everyone and everything and the music is the vehicle to express the constant source of frustration that life represents for Dredd. Don’t call Dredd if you are feeling sad and lonely because Dredd’s not going to relax you, Dredd’s going to play some of his grind noise for you and you might get the wrong idea.
Therefore, expect things to get loud, fast and end quickly. Then, expect for things to go a bit sideways, including narration and ambient moments. Dreddmaster is unlimited and bends to the will of the Dredd. Go for the ride, but don't ask where you are going because nobody knows except Dredd, the master, leader, dictatortot, tyrant, czar, emperor, caudillo and commander-in-chief of this ship.
So far the discography consists of the following: The Hardest Brother (2017); No Thanks (2018); A Horse Is a Horse of Course of Course (2018); Killing Fields (2018); Black and Death (2018); Black Forest (2018).

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Helgardh (review by MMB)

Mallevs Maleficarvm
Helgardh is a U.S. band that will begin 2019 with the release of its album called Mallevs Maleficarvm, a work that highlights three components of its black metal: (1) professional sound quality, (2) high standard in individual performance, and (3) the art of writing songs that people can understand.
The sound quality when you listen on headphones comes across clearly. It's very nice to hear a strong bottom end by way of the bass in conjunction with the drums. Once you hear the bottom end, and you know that it is there, your ears can comfortably move on to pay attention to the guitars and the vocals. I find that there is a pleasant, professional booming quality to the recording. I wonder how it will sound in the car. Right now, just listening on headphones, it's a very enjoyable listen as a black metal recording based on the idea of having a full, professional-level sound.
In terms of individual performances, as it is often the case, subconsciously I seem to start with whether the drumming catches my attention or not. Does the drumming have those intangibles that make it a worthwhile listen? Hard work, effort and dedication are crucial. In this case the skills are undeniable; the blasting, the sense of rhythm, the speed, the dexterity, so on and so forth. That's a great starting point, but the experience that is communicated on the album is even more attractive, that the drumming is working in the service of the songs, which is something that the bass is also doing. The guitar work is a serious clinic on how to write headbanging black metal riffs. Essentially, the riffs are thrash-based and in a black metal framework it is difficult not to be moved by the quality of the guitars. The sense for melody and shredding is another strength here. You can tell that the musicians have years of experience and they have the desire to make something that is melodic and headbanging. The vocals seal the deal. You will know immediately that the art of black metal vocals is serious business when it is done right. Full, strong, upfront, passionate (and not the screechy kind) and you can make out quite a few of the words due to the good enunciation. The more I listen, the more I am beginning to understand what the vocalist is saying, even though I do not have the lyrics.
Finally, what good is individual skill or a good sound if the songs are incapable of holding your attention? My initial impression is that the band has a single-mindedness of purpose in black metal songwriting. Do not waste the time of your listeners. Do not mess around, period. When it comes to the songwriting, be a mean go getter about concentrating faithfully on the idea of headbanging, skilled music. It is a key principle that classic heavy metal, thrash, death and black metal is founded upon. What do you say with your music? Well, you better say it efficiently! We have standards here, and we have no patience for people who cannot write a good song to save their lives. All of this, every single iota of these ideas, are understood very well by Helgardh, and they deliver in convincing fashion.
A job done very well.
The album will consist of the following songs:
1.Mallevs Maleficarvm
2.Harvest Wounds
3.Shepherd of the Damned
4.In the Shadow of the World's Remains
5.Terminus Crematoria
6.Veneficus Nex
7.The Aberration Scars
Biography: A dark and aggressive force is emerging out of the cold and arid atmosphere of the Appalachian Mountains. Helgardh is comprised of the unique blend of ardent death metal and baleful black metal. Founded by guitarist and vocalist Famine in 2009, they have since been on a quest to disperse their somber and sickening message. Spewing words of the Occult and Witchcraft underneath technically written composition and rugged melodies, this band will become perpetual. You have a slaying monster that’s spreading its putrid filth. They infested the Appalachian with their plague, and they’re descending from the rocks where they came to disperse their epidemic. This indomitable beast will surely poison your mind.
As European Black Metal progressed with each wave, the idea of Helgardh from the beginning was to create the next chapter for American Black Metal by utilizing the influences of modern death metal. After touring the East Coast region throughout 2011, the band recorded a 7 song EP titled ‘Ad Obscurus Aeternam’. Not completely satisfied with the sound, the band took time off and focused solely on writing the next release and making sure they had the sound they were looking for.
Armed with the new material in 2012 the band hit the road, sharing the stage with acts such as Deicide, Abigail Williams, Goatwhore, Jungle Rot and many more. At the end of 2012 Helgardh returned to the studio to record their debut full-length, ‘The Black Flame Descent’. With the only member change in the bands long history taking place in 2013, Helgardh acquired a new guitarist along with their new album and secured a deal with HPGD Productions. Following the signing they hit the road for a full coast-to-coast US tour with Danish Black Metallers Ajuna. Throughout this time Helgardh shared the stage with metal tyrants including Marduk, Moonspell, Sorcery and Inquisition.
The band began recording their sophomore release in 2015 at The Basement Recording Studio with Jamie King. The forthcoming album, titled Mallevs Maleficarvm, has guest appearances from Abysmal Dawn vocalist, Charles Elliot, and the voice of Dark Fortress, Morean.
The album is due out on Pagan Pride Records in early 2019, shortly after the 9 year anniversary of formation.

Bludgeoning Pipe (review by MMB)

Bludgeoning Pipe
release date: December 31, 2018
Please, please, friend, call 911 right now and tell them to send me some help right away. I have fallen and I can’t get up. I was minding my own business, doing chores around the house, and I got hurt when I was listening to my new favorite grinding and blasting brutal death band Bludgeoning Pipe. I am applying ice and heat to my neck, you know, like you are supposed to, but I am down for the count, kids. I can’t get up, and since I can’t go anywhere right now, while I wait for 911 to show up, I’ll tell you how I got injured. So, there is this band called Bludgeoning Pipe and it is a relentless intensity on my senior citizen ears, with lots of blasting and guitars coming at you from every which way and you won’t even know what hit you right on the money. The growling is animalistic and cannibalistic and sadistic and there is all types of gurgling and grunting going on and it’s a sublime grotesque enchantée élégance of extreme sounds.
Wait, wait, wait, wait a minute now, kids, don’t run away, don’t run away from your feelings, children, I have something else to tell you. Actually, I have two things to tell you. First, if you come looking for trouble with Bludgeoning Pipe, you best not come alone. Knock knock. Who’s there? Stopwatch. Stopwatch, who? Stopwatch you’re doing and pay attention to Bludgeoning Pipe going to blast you right out of the water, that’s who. Here is the second and most important thing about this recording: fun, headbanging chaos to the max!
The music is air tight. The screws have been tightened up a lot on these songs. The guitar work marches forward like it owns the room, pow, pow, boom, boom, thrashing, crashing, slashing and buzzsawing away, and it makes sense when you consider that this exercise in extreme aural destruction comes from people in bands like Effluvia, Mangled Overture, Pizz and Hydraulic Death. Bludgeoning Pipe fulfills the only promise that matters in bowling and rock and roll: they are going to rock out as hard as they can, as fast as they can, as loud as they can and give it their all and do it in short songs that will make you a believer. Welcome to Bludgeoning Pipe, children, bang your head and try not to get too injured when you are enjoying the brutality. Keep your elbows up in the pit!
Wartroleum is:
1-Intro 0:54
2-Maggot Swarm Collapse 2:58
3-Wartroleum 2:55
4-Filth Lord 1:03
5-Septic Suppuration 1:08
6-Slaughtering Rage 3:25
7-Caustic Regression 2:44
8-Ubik Formaldehyde 3:22

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Lizzies (review by MMB)

Lizzies: On Thin Ice
The Sign Records; 5 October 2018
Fans of traditional heavy metal with melodic singing should make it a point to investigate the classic rock of Lizzies (Spain): the sound of the youthful rising heavy rock of the late 1970s and early 1980s, especially as expounded by British, U.S. and German bands (and maybe a certain Irish band, too), seems a foundational inspiration for taking the classics from the past into the present. You can detect a more melodic side to the songs, a tendency to emphasize memorability ahead of the individual performances. It works wonders. It all sounds very appealing; good singing, guitar melodies and heavy rock as a wide spectrum. The songs are done so well; their skills in crafting songs that are accessible is a big strength for them. They make it easy for the fans of classic rock and heavy metal to find the treasures within the music.
The Spaniards are on a mission. This is their second album and they know that it has to impress. Has it impressed? In my personal list of big favorite albums for the month of October, I have only a couple of albums that I have heard that I have kept on regular rotation. This is one of them. I found it to be a satisfying listen and months later I still feel good about it. I haven’t got bored with it and I haven’t felt like I was exaggerating my favorable view of it. I would recommend it to fans of the classic sounds of the heavy rock of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal; classic U.S. heavy rock like Montrose, Y&T, Sammy Hagar, Blue Öyster Cult, early Van Halen, Dio, so on and so forth; Rainbow, U.F.O., Scorpions; and traditional classic heavy metal in general. It makes one wonder if power metal fans could be another demographic that could understand this music, too. The big melodies and the singing could be a winning factor for those fans when they hear how good the album really is.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Massive Scar Era (review by MMB)

Massive Scar Era: Color Blind
released: 5 October 2018
Years ago, as the story goes, guitarist/singer Cherine Amr sought to form a band, but she kept running into the difficulties that musicians face when trying to find other like-minded people to jam out some tunes, and in this case, it was taking place in Alexandria, Egypt. She eventually connected with Nancy Mounir, a violinist, and they have been working together ever since. It appears that nowadays the band consists of the two Egyptians with a couple of Canadians on drums and bass. The official information lists a total of six EPs, beginning in 2006 and this latest one is the sixth one. This is a short recording with five tracks (four songs and an interlude) and it lasts 16 minutes. The music is progressive, as already noted, and it features the violin, which adds a soft, gentle, melodic feel to the music, and when coupled with the singing, is very pleasant on the ears. That’s not all, though. Growling is part of their sound, for some harsher moments, and there are other little things, like in the percussion, that pop up here and there. Overall, the music is progressive, but it is short songs that are concise and effective. The listener will hear the music as songs quickly and without problems. The importance of the violin in the songs adds somber melodies as a major characteristic of the music, and with the melancholic singing, the result is a work that is easy to understand, but not sugary. Rather, the music is carried by a mood of pensive elegance that in certain spots is jolted with growling/screaming. If the description seems interesting to you, be sure to hear the recording at the link here.

Noceur and Dilapidation close out 2018 with an alliance

Tucked far away in the northwesternmost corner of the mainland of the United States of America, where the peaks of the mountains meet the greyed horizon’s mass of rainclouds and the warm rays of the sun cannot cut through, where the people retreat from the cold, wet streets in an effort to find some warmth in the comfort of a libation to wake up the soporific effect brought about by the miserable climate, there, in bars all over the western side of the state of Washington, be it on a Saturday night or a Tuesday night, one finds Noceur on the stage, working the invocation of the avant-garde dimensions, and there, one finds Dilapidation taking the mass of density as far as they can in front of anyone looking to connect with the practice of grave gargantuanism. The audiences there, those loyal participants in the stubborn but cordial scene of extreme metal music, get plenty, if they so choose, of exposure to both bands, given their regular appearances in local shows. Once in a while both bands may share the stage, as they recently have in 2018.
Their collaboration has taken a turn for the better in order to finish 2018 on a high note. Noceur offers two songs: “Never Sleeping, Ever Watching (07:14) and “Beneath the Symbol” (09:04). Noceur’s tracks underline their tendency to create a rather capricious sense of extreme art cacophony and harmony, a contorted game within another perturbing game, a twisted propensity for hoping to challenge, and irritate if need be, the listener into taking the time to look beyond the chaos and see the order. A person can understand Noceur, but only if the person wants to hear a band finding its own ways of crosspollination in the extreme and the avant-garde. Even after several rounds of Noceur’s songs, the listener might be wondering about the form and function of this black metal art. Where are you, listener? Are you still there? Can you keep up? How far off have wandered? Do you remember where you were and where are you now? Do you remember what they told you? That’s the proposition of Noceur. It is Noceur to Noceur with a mirror to you.
From day one, the goal has always been the same for Dilapidation: for the sounds to seem as they are coming from down in a hole in the ground. Big. Heavy. Massive. Pounding. Slow. Fast. Slow again. Fast again. A constant, thick groove weaving its way through the fog. When Dilapidation takes the stage no one can see their faces because the stage is engulfed in a cloud of smoke from the fog machine, further creating the impression that they are buried deep in the sound of the death doom that is the mission. This time around Dilapidation provides two songs “Rotting Genesis” (04:02) and “Damned in Exile” (06:42). The first song showcases the efficiency of a compact track, strengthened through a natural, honest way of recording. The blasting speed and the death metal heaviness sound gigantic in the hands of Dilapidation. Then, the last track busts out the doom big time. At one point, the band lets the drums stand out almost alone so that you can hear them pound slowly: up (pause), down (pause), up (pause), down (pause), for a little while, and the sound of a metallic clang, coming up and down, up and down, then the droning guitars and the gruff growling come from that previously mentioned hole deep in the ground. Dilapidation, headbanging and contemplation, and the search for subterranean peace goes on and on.
Let’s hope 2019 brings more from both bands.