NYTT LAND – Ritual

Ritual Album Cover Art

NYTT LAND – Ritual
Napalm Records
Release Date: 06/08/2021
Running Time: 47:46
Review by Wallace Magri
10/10

Someone might say that my journey through different music styles, in my recent reviews, has gone way too far this time around. Because I ended up selecting, from Ever Metal’s list, a band from Siberia, Nytt Land, that play Shamanic Dark Folk Music, which is present all over “Ritual” – the seventh album from the duo, Natasha “Baba Yaga” Pakhalenko and Anatoly “Shaman” Pakhalenko.

But, as a matter of fact, I am very familiar with this kind of shamanic drumming, peculiar musical instruments and singing techniques, whose intention is to evoke the power of ancestral forces, basically for spiritual connection and healing – body, mind & soul, aligned with the spiritual world. You may ask me how the heck do I know about this stuff? Well, as most of you who read my reviews on Ever Metal already know, I am from Brazil and, in South America, we have a strong and powerful ancient folk tradition – that covers the Andes Mountains (Chile, Ecuador, Peru), all the way to the Rain Forest, where the native ethnicities perform Rituals that are quite similar to what is heard on Nytt Land’s album.

By the way, Sepultura gave a voice for native Brazilian tribes on the song ‘Kaiowas’ (from the 1993 album, “Chaos A.D.”), performed by the band with a native Indian tribe, in the middle of the Amazon Jungle! How could you possibly not love those guys from Sepultura!!! Here in Brazil, we also have adopted African ancient traditions and beliefs, called ‘Umbanda’ or ‘Candomblé’, that also perform rituals where mediums get direct connection to ethereal forces, through magic, helped by specific drumming techniques. The percussion sessions from Umbanda, hugely influenced Igor Cavalera (Sepultura’s drummer and founder member) on such songs as ‘Refuse/Resist’, and Max Cavalera played an African musical folk instrument – ‘Berimbau’ – on ‘Ratamahatta’, from Sepultura’s seminal album “Roots” (96).

Even though I’ve never met the Cavalera brothers on any occasion, the fact is, I also used to go those kind of Rituals, because I find myself astonished by how the shamans and babalorixás are able to evoke ethereal forces of Nature, guiding us through our deepest feelings, aligning our bodies in harmony with nature and spiritual forces, allowing us to comprehend ourselves and our role in the Universe and, hopefully, restoring our vital energy throughout Rites of Fire, everything protected by austere percussion and healing chants. (that’s our roots/bloody roots.. in Brazil, my friends!)

As I said before, according to their own traditions, that’s exactly what is heard on “Ritual”, an album that you should face as a dark and spiritual journey to keep in touch with the forces of nature and the spirits from the cold Siberian Forest. Judging by the video clip for ‘U-Gra’, I also figured out the resemblance to the South American and African ancient cultures, such as shamanic body painting, rudimentary clothing and ritualist dancing.

I have several playlists of Old Norse music, but “Ritual” caught my attention because they enable us to go through a full Siberian’s pagan Ritual, instead of the usual mix of folk music and heavy metal, performed by such bands as WARDRUNA, HEILUNG and RUNAHILD. All the songs on “Ritual” are performed exclusively with traditional instruments such as flutes, tagelharpa, horns and inserts of samples taken from live sounds of Nature – which make things even more realistic and authentic.

So, I dove in all the way and listened to “Ritual” about a dozen times, in different states of mind and absolutely loved what I experienced. It’s interesting because there are influences from the Mongol’s throat singing technique – with the purpose to connect with underworld forces that inhabit the frostbitten, dark and brooding woods of Siberia, as heard in the opening tracks, ‘Ritual’ and ‘The Fires of Ragnarok’, mixed with ethereal singing – that relate to the upper world – which completes the musical ambience with powerful tribal tambourine percussion, and with some of the aforementioned samples. Occasionally, Natasha sings in a more atmospheric neo Pagan style, to call the spiritual forces to take part in the Ritual.

‘Gróttasöngr’ and ‘Svartravn’ are based on “Poetic Edda” – the modern name for an untitled collection of Old Norse mythological anonymous poems, which goes back to 10th century shamanic tradition – in an ethereal ambience provided by atmospheric chants, bells, flutes and compassed percussion, driving the Ritual all the way to Valhalla, fearing no evil. The last song of “Ritual”, ‘Blood of the North’ is also influenced by Old Norse folk music, with the tagelharpa driving the listener to the end of the trance session in a melancholic funeral mood.

I could keep going on with my impressions on each song, but the main feel here is the impressive rawness, minimalism, purism and authenticity of the natural dark ambience provided by “Ritual”, taking Ambient Dark Folk music to the next level. It might sound a little bit frightening at first, but I can assure you that even so, it is still welcoming to the listener.

I highly recommend you listen to “Ritual’ in the proper environment, close to the woods; if that is possible, just light up a fire pit, get into a meditative mood, then focus on the drumming, chants and dark atmospheric ambience. Anyway, you shouldn’t fear spiritual force, unless you have unsolved questions with the underworld. Otherwise, go figure out the shamanic culture and enjoy the cold within for a while.

If you want to know more about Siberian Shamanism, I did a little research on the following website, which is very informative.

Shamanism in Russia – Embrace the Ancient Rituals and Traditions (56thparallel.com)

‘U-Gra’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Ritual
02. The Fires Of Ragnarok
03. The Birth Of A Shaman
04. Dead Man’s Dance
05. U-Gra
06. Gróttasöngr
07. Svartravn
08. Blood Of The North

LINE-UP:
Natasha “Baba Yaga” Pakhalenko – Vocals, Throat Singing, Drums, Percussion, Flutes, Programming
Anatoly “Shaman” Pakhalenko – Vocals, Throat singing, Tagelharpa, Mouth-Harp, Percussion, Horn, Programming

LINKS:

Nytt Land (Credit Ronny Zeisberg)
Photo by Ronny Zeisberg

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Wallace Magri and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Macabre Decay – Into Oblivion

Into Oblivion Album Cover Art

Macabre Decay – Into Oblivion
Grind To Death Records
Release Date: 18/06/2021
Running Time: 37:24
Review by Victor Augusto
8/10

Again, I have to remind you how I like, where possible, to follow new bands from the beginning and for their entire career. The opportunity to watch them evolve musically and professionally is something that I really admire on this path as a reviewer. However, for the band in this review, I have not been a dedicated follower of everything that they have done for 7 years and this is the first time that I written about them since I started my journey as a reviewer.

That does not mean that this is the first time I have heard of the Swedish Death metallers, Macabre Decay, as I have a CD from of their first demo that travelled from the US to this creepy huge land called Brazil. At that time, I won it on the Metal Meltdown radio show from DJ David Softee (yes, the same DJ that I mentioned in my Motorhammer review) after I answered a question about a line-up change that they talked about in an interview. At that time, I wasn’t a reviewer, so the impression you get of a band is a little different when you are just a listener and not writing about them!

Considering I am now hearing “Into Oblivion”, their second full album, and not the demo of a new band, the perception is even deeper. This time I noticed more elements and details that I hadn’t realised before. My first impression is that Macabre Decay flee from the typical Swedish Death Metal sound!

“What do you want to say, Victor?” (This is my schizophrenic inner mental voice talking to me). Well, when the words Death Metal and Sweden are used together, it is hard not to picture crystal clear sonorities with a dense and dark atmosphere created by a wall of melodies, riffs and heaviness. “Are you saying that Macabre Decay don’t have these?” (Hello again, Mr. Schizo!). No, I am not saying that at all!

I can feel all of those elements on this album, but they are more diluted within the 37 minutes of brutality. What caught my attention is how they are more oriented to bands like Bolt Thrower or Entombed. Nevertheless, they don’t forget about what has made Swedish heavy music famous around the world.

The vocals of Henka Andersson are pretty guttural, inspired, or similar to, the early Cannibal Corpse albums. Fredrik Gunnarsson offers brutal riffs complemented by Sami Mäki on lead guitars. The bass of Henrik Edlund Ljung walks in a more aggressive line to follow the linear structures of drummer Martin Knutar. None of them try to sound exuberant, but they work excellently as a team to create a good synergy.

I can mention songs like ‘Utterly Helpless’ that offers melodies akin the best Swedish Melodic Death Metal. What about technique? Maybe the beautiful acoustic ‘The Becoming of Art’ could answer that. This song is like an intro for the remarkable ‘Altered Flesh’ that, for me, is the best track on the album. This song has a mixture of everything I have mentioned so far although, maybe, the killer track ‘Wall of Bones’ can beat it with its hellish melodies, but I prefer to let to you decide which song is the best.

“No bullshit, just Death Metal”. These words are from the band on the Press Release and it defines perfectly what “Into Oblivion” is. I can assure you that this statement is true, but Macabre Decay is a very technical band as well. The achievement in their music is how they’ve found an amazing balance between aggressiveness and technique. The result is a very straight sound that can make you bang your head whilst enjoying technical, well-structured, compositions.

‘Kräks, Förruttnelse och Våld’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Icon
02. Impenitent Homicide
03. Into Oblivion
04. Utterly Helpless
05. The Becoming Of Art
06. Altered Flesh
07. Wall Of Bones
08. Last Breath
09. Beauty In Carnage
10. Kräks, Förruttnelse och Våld

LINE-UP:
Fredrik Gunnarsson – Guitars
Henka Andersson – Vocals
Henrik Edlund Ljung – Bass
Sami Mäki – Lead Guitars
Martin Knutar – Drums

LINKS:

Macabre Decay Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Leprous – Aphelion

Aphelion Album Cover Art

Leprous – Aphelion
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 27/08/2021
Running Time: 56:02
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

Certain areas of the world seem to have an outstanding ability to produce astonishing musicians, Norway being one of them. Maybe it’s the dark nights, rugged and vast scenery, or temperamental and often tempestuous weather that inspires the melodies out of their composers, maybe it’s the diet or way of life that feeds the creative mind or perhaps it’s purely coincidence, who knows. But the goodness of whatever it is, that brings forth such art, makes me an incredibly happy Beth indeed.

Leprous, one of Norway’s more recent, and arguably one of its finest, musical groups have been releasing music since 2009, and their most recent offering, “Aphelion” has just been released. Now, I’m a little behind with my reviewing, so bear with me, and nod in agreement, if you’ve already purchased this album. If you haven’t, please read on, and then go and purchase this album, because it is something very special.

You can tell from the first few bars of opener ‘Running Low’ that this album is going to be an expressive and emotive listen. Dark cinematic piano and sparse percussion set the opening, with the powerful but delicate vocals of Einar Solberg cutting through above anything else. Ebbing and flowing like the swelling of the incoming tide, this intriguing and masterfully written, and played, song lets the listener know that this album means serious business. It will challenge your mind, as well as your musical appreciation, with its intricacies.

And this is really how the whole album works. At the forefront, delicacy and intricate thought, coupled with immense skill and musical maturity, create a sound that really is stunning. I am in complete awe of Einar’s vocals. His voice is so unique, with a pure and crisp sound that he controls superbly well, so nothing is ever over or under-done. It is almost as if his singing is entirely controlled by his emotions, which in itself is paradoxical, as emotion is so uncontrollable. The inspiration for most of the compositions on this album have come from Einar’s own personal struggles with anxiety and depression, and every song does have a deep connection to feeling, whether it’s through the composition, instrumentation, or lyrics.

Every track on this album is simply perfection. Driven by piano and vocals – which are both hugely important to me – it explores heaviness in contrast with gentleness, pace in contrast with pauses, rhythm in contrast with freeform, and the full expanse of dynamics. It’s hugely cinematic, and symphonic, and would be fascinating to see performed live at some of the great opera houses around the world. I can only imagine how immersive it would sound in the likes of the Royal Albert Hall, or Sydney Opera House.

There are a couple of tracks that I’ll mention, even though this is an album of greatness in its entirity. ‘Have You Ever?’ is first. I love the low rumbling bass that sits in this track. It’s the sort of bass that makes your ribcage vibrate. This track also sits somewhere between Progressive Rock, Jazz, and James Bond theme music, which is just spectacularly bonkers, and very brave.

The other track that I want to mention is ‘On Hold’. Musically, it’s probably the most straightforward on the album. But its mastery is in the lyrics. A beautiful melancholy monologue about feeling stuck in desperation. A feeling that a lot of us can relate to, I think. I know I certainly can. It’s just so emotive… So breathtaking…

“Aphelion” is next level musical connection, and I’m completely blown away by it. Expect to see this album appearing in my top ten of the year… Thanks, Leprous, for creating music that provides solace. It is timeless, and genre-less, and reaches the next level of consciousness and healing. Slightly less thanks for making my job of picking an album of the year harder than it already was…But I’ll forgive you because this is sublime!

‘The Silent Revelation’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Running Low
02. Out Of Here
03. Silhouette
04. All The Moments
05. Have You Ever?
06. The Silent Revelation
07. The Shadow Side
08. On Hold
09. Castaway Angels
10. Nighttime Disguise

LINE-UP:
Einar Solberg – Vocals, Keyboards
Tor Oddmund Suhrke – Guitars
Robin Ognedal – Guitars
Simen Børven – Bass
Baard Kolstad – Drums

LINKS:

Leprous Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Rage – Resurrection Day

Resurrection Day Album Cover Art

Rage – Resurrection Day
Steamhammer/SPV
Release Date: 17/09/2021
Running Time: 50:02
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Rage have been at this a long time.

Although from the same German historic Power Metal label stable as Helloween, they have not quite managed to become such a major name outside of Power Metal circles, which is a shame, as the back catalogue of twenty-six studio albums, ten EP’s and four live albums since 1984 is bloody impressive by anyone’s standards. A quick look at the dizzying number of line-up changes that have revolved around Vocalist and Bassist Peavy Wagner over the decades may go some way to explaining that. Line-up changes take the wind out of any progress a band makes by slowing down the momentum and constantly forcing their fan base to readjust and this time it’s almost a completely new line up behind Peavy, with only drummer Vassilios Maniatopoulos still in play from previous incarnations, and even then this is only his second studio contribution. That’s the negative side. The positive aspect is you get to effectively reboot and ditch the parts that did not work, but either way it still does not make continuous growth and brand consistency easy.

The twelve tracks on here all have a huge amount of energy and this doesn’t feel like an old band going through the motions, but then eighteen months of lock downs and practically a new band will put a fire under most acts. The songs all have strength and enthusiasm in abundance and Peavy et al still have a lot they want to say. Musically this is mostly full pelt Power with added orchestrations, a healthy dollop of Speed Metal, with a few Thrashy touches in the time structures and vocal arrangements. Peavey is very much at the front of the mix, as you would expect since basically he is Rage. That said the musicianship from the rest of the band is top notch, but could do with being a bit more present in the mix other than during the solos.

‘Monetary Goods’ is the strongest track by a country mile – it’s anthemic and punchy and it holds its own far better than a lot of the material on here, which could have benefitted from a bit of pruning to be brutally honest. That said there’s nothing wrong with the rest of the material, but with a bit more of this catchiness sprinkled throughout then this would have been a resounding ten out of ten. Nevertheless, Rage remain masters of the genre and continue to be relevant.

‘Virginity’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Memento Vitae (Overture)
02. Resurrection Day
03. Virginity
04. A New Land
05. Arrogance and Ignorance
06. Man in Chains
07. The Age of Reason
08. Monetary Gods
09. Mind Control
10. Traveling Through Time
11. Black Room
12. Extinction Overkill

LINE-UP:
Peavy Wagner – Vocals & Bass
Vassilios Maniatopoulos – Drums
Stefan Weber – Guitars
Jean Borman – Guitars

LINKS:

Rage Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Sodom – Bombenhagel EP

Bombenhagel EP Cover Art

Sodom – Bombenhagel EP
Steamhammer/SPV
Release Date: 20/08/2021
Running Time: 14:47
Review by Dark Juan
8/10

Greetings, my sybaritic sycophants! It is I, Dark Juan, sometime Satanist, wannabe psychopomp and all round generally poor judge of character, and I have returned from a sojourn to France to drag my record collection, other possessions and Mrs. Dark Juan’s ridiculously colossal library back to jolly old Blighty, the plague island. Already I am objecting to the price of alcohol in the UK, when in France I could pick up a splendid bottle of red for the princely sum of 1.91EUR. In the company of my lovely friends over there and more especially my travel and work buddy Tony (whom Mrs. Dark Juan has now christened my ginger wife, for reasons best known only to herself) many bottles were sunk (although Tony was afraid of my favourite French tipple, Demon biere blonde, at a mere 12% strength) and the work was completed, which now means that the Smellhounds and their human servants are now living in a jungle of cardboard boxes and Dark Juan Terrace resembles a combination of an insane taxidermy studio, a moving company’s warehouse and a particularly grotty record shop. Which were always the best kind, as far as I am concerned. Also, books are fucking heavy. Twenty fucking eight boxes of books we lugged back between us… You’d expect me to look like Charles fucking Atlas after loading and unloading those bastards. I don’t. (More like Charles Dance 😂 – Rick)

I look like a tired old man who has overexerted himself with his twenty something girlfriend after a massive cocaine binge.

On that happy image, I’ll stop telling you about myself and instead let you know that I am listening to German thrashmeisters Sodom and their latest EP “Bombenhagel”. This is a three tracker, with the title track being a re-recorded version of the song originally released on the classic “Persecution Mania” album, way back when, in 1987. Fuck, I’m old. I remember that record being released. Anyway, Sodom have wisely not moved a single inch from their classic Eurothrash blueprint, which is a great thing from my point of view, because I have been able to indulge in a teenage nostalgiafest, remembering the first time I heard “Agent Orange” and reminiscing about the sheer excitement that thrash metal produced in me as a young, impressionable lad for whom Iron Maiden wasn’t cutting it anymore. Before I discovered Morbid Angel, anyway. ‘Bombenhagel’ doesn’t actually sound that different from the original version, the main difference being the twin guitar attack of Yorck Segatz and Frank Blackfire, as opposed to the single guitar lines of yore. Harris Johns also contributes a solo. There’s even a sneaky bit of the Stars And Stripes snuck into the end of the tune!!! It’s a decent version of a classic song though.

After ‘Bombenhagel’ we are into the realms of new material – ‘Coup De Grace’ being a paean to the depravity of the human race and the fact we are administering the coup de grace to ourselves as a species, what with the climate emergency going on around us and the absolute disregard the capitalist classes are paying to it, and ‘Pestiferous Posse’ being written about the cowboys, the outlaws and the gunfight at the OK Corral, and how it references to modern events, such as the storming of the US Capitol by a bunch of deluded dickheads who wished to overthrow democracy.

Musically, we are in classic thrash metal territory. Serrated, pistoning riffing and blistering solos and whammy bar dives are the order of the day, underpinned with snot nosed punk attitude and high-speed double bass drumming. Tom Angelripper’s mid pitched growl sounds as vibrant, snappy and snarly as ever and his distorted punk influenced bass punches through the guitar work with menace. The production on the EP is also the ultraclassic Eurothrash sound, rhythm guitars and bass slightly soupy sounding, with the drumming sitting proud, clean and kinglike above the rest of the music, and clear, clarion cymbals ringing arctically through it all.

All in all, the “Bombenhagel” EP is a jolly fine listen, a sub-15-minute thrash metal blast that doesn’t bring anything new to the table but proving that thrash metal done right will never die. With recent releases from Sacred Reich and Thrasherwolf and the like, thrash is undergoing something of a renaissance in the underground.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Das patentierte Dark Juan Blutspritzer-Bewertungssystem – I fucking LOVE German! Everything sounds better in German) awards these Teutonic thrash titans 8/10 for a fine EP, lacking only in bringing anything avant-garde to the music.

‘Bombenhagel 2021’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Bombenhagel
02. Coup De Grace
03. Pestiferous Posse

LINE-UP:
Tom Angelripper – Vocals, Bass
Yorck Segatz – Guitars
Frank Blackfire – Guitars
Toni Merkel – Drums

LINKS:

Sodom Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Tragedy – Disco Balls To The Wall

Disco Balls To The Wall Album Cover Art

Tragedy – Disco Balls To The Wall
Napalm Records
Release Date: 30/07/2021
Running Time: 57:55
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

I love funny stuff. I love tributes. I love disco. Three facts about me that I never thought would come in handy when combined. Turns out I was wrong, because New York City based Disco Metal band, Tragedy, require their listeners to like all three of the aforementioned things, alongside good old fashioned Heavy Metal. The latest release from this madcap bunch of loud shirted metal lunatics is “Disco Balls To The Wall”, a homage to that most energetic of eras, which utilizes a host of Rock and Metal genres to breath new life into some legendary dancefloor boogey classics. Everything from Abba to Bonnie Tyler put in an appearance, all with a new reimagined twist of tongue in cheek-ness.

This isn’t going to be a long review, because we already know these tunes inside out, from the number of times the original tracks have been played on radio station, at school discos and wedding receptions, and at every single office Christmas party the world over. So, I’m just going to give you my highlights – the ones where I found something clever and unexpected. But before I do, I will say that if you need something to listen to as a pick me up, you should just stop reading here and go and listen to it for yourself, because I can 100% guarantee it will do the job.

My first highlight comes early in the album, with ‘You’re The One That I Want’. Yes, it is the classic Disco Rock ‘n’ Roll track from the 1978 Hit Musical, “Grease”. But imagine, if you will, that Ozzy Osborne was playing Danny, and Black Sabbath were the T birds, and Gene Simmons was playing Sandy, with the rest of KISS as the pink ladies, and they decide to join forces and rebrand as Glam Punk for the choruses. That pretty much sums up this track, and really sets the tone for the rest of the album.

‘Raining Blood/It’s Raining Men’ is another comedy classic, which would be the obvious product of The Weathergirls getting absolutely monster drunk with Slayer and deciding to do a Christmas single Mash-up together but met in a middle ground that wasn’t quite as extreme or pop-friendly as either of the original tracks. Face-melting riffs next to disco lyrics. Classic!

‘How Deep Is Your Love’ gives more than a gentle nod to Rainbow, ‘Tragedy’ lives in the realms of classic 80s Hair Metal, and ‘Dancing Queen’ hangs about in Melodic Rock territory. Then, to close the album we get the high octane, Classic Heavy Metal of ‘Hot Stuff’…Genius.

Overall, a great album to just have fun to, and by God do we need that in our lives.

‘Raining Blood/It’s Raining Men’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
02. You’re The One That I Want
03. Evil/Baker Street
04. Stayin’ Alive
05. Sweet Caroline
06. Raining Blood/It’s Raining Men
07. How Deep Is Your Love
08. Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In
09. Africa
10. Total Eclipse Of The Heart
11. Tragedy
12. Dancing Queen
13. Skyfall
14. Hot Stuff

LINE-UP:
Disco Mountain Man – Lead Vocals, Lead Keyboards
Mo’Royce Peterson – Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar
Andy Gibbous Waning – Lead Bass, Lead Vocals
Garry Bibb – Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals
The Lord Gibbeth – Lead Drums

Lance – Towel Boy, Complete Idiot

LINKS:

Tragedy Promo Pic (Credit Michael Blase)
Photo by Michael Blase

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Apostolica – Haeretica Ecclesia

Haeretica Ecclesia Album Cover Art

Apostolica – Haeretica Ecclesia
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 17/09/2021
Running Time: 50:04
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Apostolica are a band with a bit of a buzz about them at the moment, although I’m very wary of the word ‘buzz’, because it’s a little too close to the entry for ‘hype’ in my thesaurus. As I often blather away on here, European Power Metal bands are churning records out at a crazy rate of knots all the time, despite the fact that in both America and especially here in the UK, they are very much a niche taste by comparison to other sub-genres of our wonderful metallum familiae. The phrase ‘cookie-cutter’ is often deployed when reviewing a fair few of them, but in reality ‘sausage-factory’ might be closer to the truth, given the sheer volume of acts and albums cranking the handle right now. When you have a crowded marketplace the risk of repetition and derivation is incredibly high and on the face of it this is a band, that sounds like Powerwolf and Sabaton, whilst borrowing the concepts both lyrically and visually of medieval masquerade and anonymity that Ghost have done so well…

…And those masks look great by the way, suiting the theme of “modern day knights of the Apocalypse” down to a tee, with ‘Meliora’-era matching Nameless Ghoul styled suits and hard, fixed black medieval death masks – but with the chin kept free for vocal movement (not to mention being a darn site cooler to wear). Ah well, there’s plenty of knobbly bits to hang a medical grade surgical mask on if needed…

I’m perhaps being a bit harsh here, as this is a band on their debut album (although by all accounts experienced musos make up their anonymous ranks) and I am judging this without any opportunity to understand if the positive parts of their reputation came from the live arena, since no-one has seen them perform yet (and to be clear when reviewing a new band I often try and track down live snippets online rather than watching their official videos). The derivation ceases to be an issue when a belter of a live show is unfolding, as the influences often just move into the background if the band are ripping you a new bum hole on stage, but in this instance I have only the record to go on.

Musically this is anthemic Power Metal with every track underscored with church organ orchestrations – which is a bit unfortunate really since Powerwolf just delivered the masterclass in this style with their ‘Call Of The Wild’ album a few months ago (although to be fair those boys have had six increasingly accomplished studio albums to polish their style and that record may well prove to be their peak). Add to this sound is a much gruffer vocal delivery more akin to that of Sabaton’s Joakim Brodén and lyrically Tobias Forge deserves an influential credit. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with what they are doing here, it’s just they aren’t quite doing it as well as those three big influences…

…Yet.

But then, it is early days, and more theatrical bands are stealing the glory right now, and I reserve the right to eat an appropriately chocolaty knight’s helmet when I do finally get to see them live. And to be clear, I think that would be worth waiting for, as musically these boys know how to crank the handle well, although for some bizarre reason all the best tracks don’t really start to surface until the album is over half way through. From ‘No More Place In Hell’ onwards, the anthemic first punching gets going with a vengeance, the arrangements get tighter and this starts to sound like a band well on their way to forging a strong individual sound of their own. What makes the difference is the harmonised ensemble choruses, which sound like the whole band are contributing to and unlike the discordance that often accompanies a bunch or rough and ready metallers doing backing grunts, these guys manage a pretty good choral harmony together. More of this please.

Add to the fact that the arrangements jump up a notch from this point on and I find myself having a completely different listening experience. It doesn’t let up after this, with the moody and elegantly structured ‘The Doom’ driving things forward superbly. After that, Simon is a happy bunny, but clearly next time around a bit more time is going to be needed on pre-production, and I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here and assuming that Covid fucked this up, as it really is an album of two halves. Deliver a whole album with the punch of the second half, and these boys are going to build a reputation that makes winging old hacks like me bitching about their influences irrelevant. A promising start…

‘Sanctus Spiritus’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Sanctus Spiritus
02. The Sword Of Sorrow
03. Come With Us
04. Thanatos
05. Pollution Is My Name
06. No More Place In Hell
07. The Doom
08. Famine
09. The Dusk Is Coming
10. Redemption

LINE-UP:
Ezekiel – Vocals
Isaia – Guitar
Jonas – Bass
Malachia – Drums

LINKS:

Apostolica Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Darkthrone – Eternal Hails……

Eternal Hails...... Album Cover Art

Darkthrone – Eternal Hails……
Peaceville
Release Date: 25/06/2021
Running Time: 41:23
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

I find myself seated alone at Dark Juan Terrace. Mrs. Dark Juan is away looking after her petits-enfants. The Smellhounds are quiescent and, rather more remarkably, not gassing the place out with their sulphurous and necrotic farts, and I was wondering what I should do with myself considering self-abuse ain’t my style (he sez ‘ere), I am awash with Yorkshire tea already and I can’t be arsed to build a model today. I am sat here basically not doing anything and frankly it’s annoying me, because I am in a right funny mood. I can’t even repair the Mighty Gothikpanzer’s wipers because the replacement part hasn’t arrived yet. None of which matters to you out there reading this and expecting a record review.

Speaking of record reviews, I had a fantastically interesting discussion with someone on that there internet about whether or not I should restrict myself to reviewing underground releases, or whether I should pick up on the occasional big band, and give them the dubious benefit of my wisdom as well – based on the premise that bigger bands don’t need the coverage from upstart internet based magazines like ever-metal.com, but the underground bands most certainly do. I’m personally of the opinion that I should review whatever the fuck I want (and do just that because I am the most contrary BASTARD) but allow myself the luxury, occasionally, of having a bash at the big boys too. Therefore, I am a champion of the underground but I also get the chance to tell you about some of the bands I have loved for decades – hence my total and utter adoration and hero worship of Graham Bonnet… This led into a larger discussion about whether festivals should be relying on super established acts to draw people in, and the seeming dichotomy between matters fiscal and matters of integrity to the scene but I’m not boring you with that.

Anyway – Bands I have loved for decades. Darkthrone are one of them. Ever since “A Blaze In The Northern Sky”, in fact. I love Darkthrone for their sheer disregard for the mainstream and their utter commitment to their own musical vision, and I will now tell you all about “Eternal Hails……”, their latest platter.

Opening with the utterly melancholy ‘His Masters Voice’ it’s obvious that Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have been listening to a LOT of Candlemass over the past few years. Employing a slow tempo not unlike Paradise Lost’s early work, the production initially sits at odds with the music, being as it is of the usual black metal lo-fi-recorded-in-a-hyperbaric-chamber-with-cans-attached-to-strings aesthetic, but with rather more doom than black metal in the music. The sheer quality of the musicianship and songwriting soon makes you forget about this, though. However, the classic BM production sound appears to be a studio contrivance this time, as apparently the usual studio method (Necrohell II – 8-track mobile recording equipment in an old bomb shelter) wasn’t available anymore because said recording equipment died a suitably Viking death, leading the boys to go to Chaka Khan Studios in Oslo instead. Just how do I quantify this music for you? Blackened doom metal? Doomy black metal? Who knows? All I know is that it is rather fucking good, actually. The pace picks up a bit on ‘Wake Of The Awakened’ and it is a pleasingly morose mid-paced stomper, but still rather doomier than you’d expect, being all slowed down black metal riffs and Nocturno Culto’s trademark serrated growl never sounding better. ‘Voyage To A Northpole Adrift’ is by far the song that has the most to thank black metal for, again being a fairly classic BM song slowed down to doom speeds with little flourishes of Celtic Frost and Trouble thrown in there just to confound and beguile the listener. ‘Lost Arcane City Of Uppakra’ throws a decidedly punk opening riff into the mix as well as a speedier middle section before breaking down into gently tapped cymbals and simple guitar and bass with an equally simple, yet ethereal keyboard. Then everything gels together and the guitars crash back in like a shield wedge of Viking reavers hitting your front line of swordsmen and this carries on to close off the album in perfect fashion. Darkthrone have not lost the skill of making less be considerably more in terms of atmosphere and feeling, even if that atmosphere and feeling is dying of exposure on a freezing cold hillside a mile from a dark and threatening forest, made indistinct through nebulous mist and snow that cuts your skin like tiny blades.

It’s not a cheerful record, this. It’s unremittingly grim. It’s endless grey steppes and howling winds and barely glimpsed horrors in the shadowy dark. I’ll be honest, I’ve enjoyed the fuck out of it but it hasn’t done anything for my already sour mood! Saying that though, it managed to conjure up visions in my head while I was listening to it with my eyes closed and cans on, and not a lot of music is able to do that with such ease. In fact, the more I listen to “Eternal Hails” the more I sink into it and the more it charms and seduces me. Especially because there isn’t a song under 7 minutes in length on the album, which gives Darkthrone more time to conjure up these musical wastelands. Possibly a classic in the making, I reckon, and absolutely uniquely Darkthrone.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Det patenterte Dark Juan blodsprutsystemet for våre norske venner) awards Darkthrone 10/10 for a sprawling exploration of just where black metal can go if you dial down the pseudo-Satanic lunacy and allow other influences to creep in and wrap themselves around you, whilst maintaining that martial edge that the likes of Dimmu Borgir have forgotten about in their quest to make their music as huge as possible. Simply a brilliant record from two masters of their twisted, arcane and unique craft.

‘His Masters Voice’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. His Masters Voice
02. Hate Cloak
03. Wake Of The Awakened
04. Voyage To A North Pole Adrift
05. Lost Arcane City of Uppakra

LINE-UP: (As if you need fucking telling unless you’re totally ignorant!)
Fenriz – Drums, guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals, lyrics
Nocturno Culto – Vocals, guitars, bass, producer, lyrics

LINKS:

Darkthrone Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Maitreya – Hyper Reels

Hyper Reels Album Cover Art

Maitreya – Hyper Reels
Self-Released
Release Date: 25/06/2021
Running Time: 48:55
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – there is some damn fine music coming out of Canada at the moment, and much of it leans on the Progressive side of things, which pleases me a lot. Today’s subject band are a Progressive Metalcore band from Oshawa, Canada, and their recent release, “Hyper Reels”.

The band started back in 2011, as an instrumental project, but didn’t kick into life as Maitreya until 2016, and this release is their sophomore album. And a pretty damn fine album it is too.

It blends melody with noise, synth with pure dirty riffs, harsh and clean vocals, and frantic rhythms, to create an exciting listening experience. According to their track-by-track breakdown, this album is ‘a collection of dialogues exploring parallels between human consciousness and technological advancement. The music peaks and valleys to the polarities of turbulent and serene emotions of the human psyche.’ And there are certainly a lot of polar opposites explored here.

The opening track, ‘Catalyst’ begins with a catchy, melody driven synth section that you can imagine playing out in a Trace/Ambience club. But that soon gives way to some almost 90’s grunge riffs, then full on metalcore with guttural vocals, before reintroducing the ambience into the mix, alongside some technical progressive sounds and rhythms. What a great way to start an album. Hellishly groovy and exploratory.

From here, the album gets progressively more Progressive, and Technical, revealing the true Metalcore that really drives Maitreya’s sound. The tone of some of the guitar sections are also pretty Industrial sounding, which I think as yet another dimension to the sound. It’s chaotic and frenetic, and sometimes feels like the wheels are going to come off, but it always resolves into something perfect, dramatic, and huge. A great example of this on the track ‘Summit’, which works its way through multiple sections, to create something that’s perfectly balanced on the edge of catastrophe! It’s like that fine line between genius and madness.

Track 5, ‘Invaders’ has to be one of my favourites on the album. It begins with 8-bit style video game music, before smashing you in the face with screams and thumping rhythms and giving way to a sweeping melodic section. Matt Curtrara’s vocals are really put to the test in this song. But he’s clearly up to the challenge, because his clean vocals are strong and crisp, and his dirty vocals range from Low, guttural growls, to blood-curdling screams. That being said, every musician in this band is hugely talented. Everything is so complex and technical, and simply wouldn’t work without the level of skill that these guys have clearly got.

This is an album that builds and builds, to an almost impossible to comprehend level of sound, and contrasting elements, with a few notable ebbs, ‘Pilgrim’ being an example of this. While it’s still heavy, and technical, it’s not quite as chaos driven as the previous tracks, providing an intermission of sorts, before we’re launched back into the beautiful cacophony of ‘Flesh Engine’, on our journey towards the end of the album.

This is a very bold album, which challenges the listening brain with its complexities, in so many ways. If you like Technical Progressive Metalcore, you are going to very much enjoy Maitreya.

‘Summit’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Catalyst
02. Departed
03. Radical
04. Summit
05. Invaders
06. Bloom
07. Pilgrim
08. Flesh Engine
09. Hyper Reels
10. Iswara

LINE-UP:
Matt McCabe – Guitar
Steve McMillan – Drums
Matt Cutrara – Vocals
Lyam Morrison – Bass
Mark Wylie – Guitar

LINKS:

Maitreya Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Sepultura – SepulQuarta

SepulQuarta Album Cover Art

Sepultura – SepulQuarta
Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 13/08/2021
Running Time: 60:56
Review By Victor Augusto
10/10

Hello everyone. I am Victor Augusto and today I don’t want to write, just as a reviewer, from this beautiful team at Ever Metal. Today, I am here just to share the experience of hearing an album from a band that I have truly admired since I was a young kid from a poor neighbourhood, growing up in a violent city in this land called Brazil. Firstly, thank you to Ever Metal for allowing me to write about it, considering I picked an album that wasn’t available on our review list. As a fan, I just wanted to express the experience of listening to this album from the band’s official streaming platforms.

Let me travel back to the year of 1999 when I was a young teenager, just 15 years old. At that time, I was living in a city called Rio de Janeiro, which is famous for its beautiful nature, but also for all the violence and chaos. My daily feeling, when I lived there, was to be like a prisoner inside all of that poverty and mess. All of this was allied by my family’s lack of money that made my period there seem like a nightmare. As always, I had Heavy Metal as my relief. I clearly remember the day that I was waiting to buy something in a store and I was lucky enough to see an interview with a band, talking about their new line-up and era. Yes, it was Sepultura during the ‘Against Tour’.

“Against”! You’ll all be asking that I must surely have heard about them before this album release?. Of course, I had already heard about Sepultura before, but I had never heard any of their albums. Let me remind you that the neighbourhood I was living in was so poor and Heavy Metal stores were a distant thing from there. I had no money to have access to MTV (which was only available on pay TV) or Heavy Metal magazines. Nevertheless, I started to look for all their CD’s and my huge love for the band began. Considering I discovered them when they were rebuilding after a very difficult period, I can say that I was lucky to see how Andreas Kisser and Paulo Jr (together with all the members at that time) fought to save the band.

From that moment on I have followed every album release, every interview and every tour, anything I can find. I am 100% sure that they’ve worked incredibly hard to put the band where it is now. If I was a fan of what they created in their first ten years of existence, I became even more of a fan watching how they stayed strong, battling to overcome. Today, Andreas Kisser is one of my biggest heroes because of his passion for music and for Sepultura. If all musicians put half of his passion and dedication into their bands, then many of them would be much bigger around the world.

If you have only started to respect the current line-up from their last two albums “Quadra” or “Machine Messiah” then I suggest you go back and listen to what they have created since the “Dante XXI” album, in 2006. Much of the Sepultura spirit on “Quadra” is a mix of everything that happened during these years. “Machine Messiah” was an important step of transition to what they have become nowadays. In addition, you know what happened after the “Quadra” release. The world collapsed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Do you think that Sepultura stopped because of that? No, they revisited old times and recent times with many guests every Wednesday, and called it SepulQuarta (Quarta means “Wednesday” in Portuguese).

For me this just highlighted how respected they are, from everything they’ve done in the past, together with all the new stuff. Every Wednesday they got together with a special guest to tell stories, talk about the history of the band and play a song with them and it has been very interesting to learn so much about them with almost four decades of existence. SepulQuarta is the album of those collaborations. It is like a live album, but keeping the original essence of the tracks. Songs like ‘Territory’ or ‘Inner Self’ respect the original versions, even though Derrick’s vocals are different from what they used originally

Songs like ‘Vandals Nest’ (which is far from being an old track) received a fresh face with Alex Skolnick (Testament) as special guest, also songs like ‘Hatred Aside’ became fantastic. By the way, I wish that Sepultura would invite one of the guests on this track ,Angélica Burns (Hatefulmurder) to collaborate more, because her vocal is one of the strongest I’ve heard recently. Considering she is singing alongside two other formidable female vocalists from the Brazilian scene she did an absolutely amazing job. Moreover, we can talk about the version of ‘Kaiowas’ that brings the sensibility of a Power Metal guitarist (Angra’s Rafael Bittencourt) alongside strong guitars from Andreas Kisser? Let me remind you that Rafael’s band Angra also released an album full of Brazilian sonority when Sepultura’s “Roots” was released in 1996.

I won’t detail all the tracks. Every single one is an absolute experience. Yes, an amazing experience that recalls the year the song was released, but with a modern sonority. I feel very connected to this album and I think I know the reason why. I have an idea of their struggles from the end of the nineties to where the band are now. For my personal life, things weren’t so different so, considering I had the band’s music as relief during all my life battles to escape the hell I was living, I feel the same when I look at their history. Maybe it is just a coincidence, who knows? It doesn’t matter now anyway, but what does matter?…My answer is “The experience”!

An Experience! Yes, this is how we can describe “SepulQuarta”. Even if this were an album of brand new material it would not be different. It may be a mix of the old and recent from the band, but with the same level of quality as if it were new tracks. It reflects decades of dedication and passion for music. It reflects a band that is always looking ahead and doesn’t stay chained to the past. Personally, this album made me travel in time and made me feel proud to have a Brazilian band like Sepultura that is brutally honest for their fans.

I’m sorry if you wanted a detailed review but I just wanted to share this experience as a longtime fan of Sepultura. I strongly recommend, you too, take the time to listen to “SepulQuarta” with an open heart, to find your emotions! Maybe, you can create your own review in your mind.

Thanks, Sepultura!

‘Mask’ feat Devin Townsend (Live SepulQuarta Sessions Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Territory (feat. David Ellefson)
02. Cut-Throat (feat. Scott Ian)
03. Sepulnation (feat. Danko Jones)
04. Inner Self (feat. Phil Rind)
05. Hatred Aside (feat. Angélica Burns, Mayara Puertas & Fernanda Lira)
06. Mask (feat. Devin Townsend)
07. Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering (feat. Emmily Barreto)
08. Vandals Nest (feat. Alex Skolnick)
09. Slave New World (feat. Matthew K. Heafy)
10. Ratamahatta” (feat. Joao Barone & Charles Gavin)
11. Apes Of God (feat. Rob Cavestany)
12. Phantom Self (feat. Mark Holcomb)
13. Slaves Of Pain (feat. Frédéric Leclercq & Marcello Pompeu)
14. Kaiowas (feat. Rafael Bittencourt)
15. Orgasmatron (feat. Phil Campbell)

LINE-UP:
Derrick Green – Vocals
Andreas Kisser – Guitars
Eloy Casagrande – Drums
Paulo Jr. – Bass

LINKS:

Sepultura Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.