Wings of Destiny – Memento Mori

Momento Mori Album Cover Art

Wings of Destiny – Memento Mori
Wormholedeath
Release Date: 23/07/2021
Running Time: 46:24
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Another first for me, with my first review of a Costa Rican band (although to be fair the press release says originally from there, and they seem to have relocated since then). Since their inception in 2013, this bunch of Power Metallers have been very busy and done well to establish themselves on a global platform, with “Memento Mori” being their sixth album and showing them now well into their stride. Like many South American Power acts, the Angra, Rhapsody (in all its incarnations) and Symphony X touches are strong influences in their sound, but the band have a clear and distinct identity of their own. The net effect of which is an album that jumps around stylistically within the bounds of the sub-genre and keeps you guessing. Much of this lies with Anton Darusso’s ability to switch vocal styles quite as fluidly as his considerable range allows (in a similar way to Rob Allen) from the gruff to the extreme, and on to the clean and high he can adjust to the needs of the song with incredible flexibility.

This means you get the disconcerting altercation between say, the likes of the brutally thundering album opener ‘Playing With Fire’, to the more straight ahead Power rocking of ‘Death Wish’, and on again to the more technically melodic ‘Holy Grail’ – and indeed, all shades in between. The cracking ‘My Freedom’ even goes one stage further and incorporates all three in the same song! And let’s not leave out Darusso’s not inconsiderable talents on the ivories as well, with his bursts of Neo-Classical fluid proficiency from time to time and the kind of guitar/keyboard interplay that is the backbone of Italian Power acts.

I can think of no finer example of this than the title song itself, which is one of the outstanding moments on this record. It crams a lot into its nearly five minutes of run time and really showcases the musical talents of all band members quite spectacularly. They also find time to head down an almost Symphonic route with the epic album closer ‘Theater Of Tragedy’, which adds an over the top surreal feel to its opening bars that wouldn’t seem out of place on an Avatar album, before belting off at ninety miles an hour on a whirlwind tour of many of the stylistic touches we’ve seen throughout this piece with a good dose of choral orchestration to boot. It’s, technically, the most accomplished piece on here, although perhaps not as immediate in its catchiness and I can’t see it happening live, but it’s certainly an epic musical statement, and one that grows on me with repeated listening. Varied, technically brilliant and engaging, this is an absolute belter of a record.

Playing With Fire’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Playing With Fire
02. Death Wish
03. Holy Grail
04. Shadowland
05. Reborn Immortal
06. My Freedom
07. Of Dwarves And Men
08. Memento Mori
09. City On Fire
10. Theater Of Tragedy

LINE-UP:
Anton Darusso – Vocals & Keyboards
Andres Castro – Guitars
Cristian Jimenez – Guitars
Emil Minott – Bass
Horacio Paris – Drums

LINKS:

Wings Of Destiny 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.

Belle Morte – Crime Of Passion

Crime Of Passion Album Cover Art

Belle Morte – Crime Of Passion
Wormholedeath
Release Date: 25/06/2021
Running Time: 45:57
Review by Beth Jones
7/10

Belle Morte is a Dark Symphonic/Gothic/Progressive metal project from Minsk, Belarus, which began in 2017. “Crime Of Passion” is a dark story, of obsession, stalking, and murder, told from the perspective of both the murderer, and victim. It explores contrast in a variety of ways, examining the possibilities that there can be beauty in ugly or disturbing things, and vice versa.

With that kind of theme, it’s obvious from the start that this isn’t going to be a light-hearted album, but that’s to be expected given the genre. The orchestral elements are apparent right from the start, in the opening ‘Overture’, which sets a haunting tone with mournful Cello and flute creating a chilling atmosphere, and Violins that remind me a little of the sweeping passages in Saint-Saëns’ ‘Dance Macabre’.

From there, we travel into a frenetic and dark track ‘Who Are You’. This is pacey and full of spikey guitars, giving it a huge sense of fear and urgency. Musically, it has everything you’d expect from a symphonic track, Sweeping melodies, crystal clear vocals, and a dark and serious rhythm. Here, and indeed throughout the album we find another juxtaposition that works so well in this genre, but also fits with the contrasting theme of the album. Wonderful classical Mezzo-Soprano vocals, sitting on top of heavy, crunching, guitars and thumping bass and drums, alongside the ever-present classical piano and string section.

Vocally, there’s elements of a few different vocalists in the style, but I think for me it’s most similar to Tarja, which let’s be fair, is no mean feat, and should be applauded.

Track 4, ‘To Get Her’, introduces some of the more progressive elements of the album, with cross rhythms, and the various instruments playing separate melodies, all knitted together. This also adds to the drama and tension of the album.

The ambient sounds, and synth elements also add to the darkness, making it a true gothic work. And everything being in a minor key adds to this feeling, giving this a truly haunting sound.

In, ‘My Little Demon’, we get some male vocals. I get why they’re there, but I’m not sure the voice fits with the darkness of the album. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the voice, and there are some growled parts that are more in keeping, but in my humble opinion, more could have been made out of the contrast element in the parts where we have clean male vocals. They need to be rawer. Let’s not forget that this guy is playing the part of a murderer on the album. I know that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a gruff and unforgiving voice, but I think it would have helped deliver the contrast more effectively in this song.

That’s pretty much my only gripe with the album though. ‘Lace’ is my pick of the tunes. It’s very dark, and relies heavily on piano and vocals, which, as a pianist, and vocalist, always makes me happy! But aside from that, it’s a mournful ballad which appeals to my ever so slightly gothic nature. It’s also got a hellishly catch chorus.

All in all, this is a really good album. But I do feel this project has got further to grow yet. However, having only really been around for a couple of years, and having a large part of that taken up by the shitstorm of a global pandemic, I feel pretty certain that growth will happen. Definitely give it a spin if you like your metal on the Gothically Symphonic side.

‘Lace’ (Official Music Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Overture
02. Who Are You
03. If Only You Knew
04. To Get Her
05. Beauty And The Beast
06. My Little Demon
07. Broken Things
08. Beauty Meant To Kill
09. Lace
10. My Legacy
11. To Get Her (Acoustic Bonus Track)

LINKS:

Belle Morte 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.

Alchemia – Inception

Inception Album Cover Art

Alchemia – Inception
Wormholedeath
Release Date: 30/04/2021
Running Time: 39:28
Review By Mark Pritchard
9/10

For the last 2-3 weeks, the UK has been having an unexpected heatwave, which has made focusing a problem! We weren’t built for heat here! But, while I’ve been trapped in the depths of sweating and moaning about the weather (as is the custom for us Brits, regardless of the weather) I’ve been listening to “Inception”, the newest album by Brazilian Horror Metal band Alchemia. And that has helped me to come back to normality a bit. Well as close to normality as I can get! However, as is the way with the British climate, I’m now sitting here writing this review on the first rainy day in around 3 weeks (bloody weather)! So, if you would, please allow me to take a little of your time to tell you about the band as well as their newest album.

Alchemia was founded back in 2018 in the Brazilian city of São Paulo. “Inception” is actually the band’s debut album, and even though they have essences of Heavy, Black and Death metal in their sound, they combine those elements into something different and unique. There are obvious influences from Heavy, Black and Death Metal, but running alongside are also influences from film scores and classical orchestration. The amount of work they have put in to make this debut become a reality is obvious, and I think the future looks bright for the band.

When your mental state is as changeable as the weather, it’s great to be able to be totally absorbed by music. “Inception” is definitely one of those albums that grabs hold of you and reels you in. Some might think that, with the genre influences mentioned, it might not be the best thing to listen to when you’re in a bad place. But, in fact, “Inception” gave me a sense of there being a light at the end of the tunnel to bring me out of my rut, and that is exactly what has happened. It has intensity which hits you like a freight train, amazing vocals and is great to bang your head to. If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know I like a good headbang! Recently I have had to use a hairband when headbanging, so my hair doesn’t poke my eyes. Luckily, I was prepared, with my hairband at the ready!

The title track of the album is my pick for the stand out song. It’s intriguing. It starts with the sounds of a music box having the key turned, and closes with the music box slowing down. In between this, we’re hit with intense instrumentals and strong lyrics.

This album is a great example of what can be done with some excellent musicianship, and a bit of vision. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to it, and would recommend everybody check it out.

‘Grind’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Grind
02. Save Us
03. Inception
04. Haunting You
05. Ashes
06. If Nothing Is Sacred
07. Sacrifice
08. Mind Prison
09. Nightmares
10. Secret Call

LINE-UP:
Victor Hugo Piiroja – Vocals, Synths, Guitars
Rodrigo Maciel – Guitars
Felipe FIFAS – Bass
Wally D’Alessandro – Keyboard
Alex Cristopher – Drums

LINKS:

Alchemia Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Mark Pritchard 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.

All Wasted – Burn With Me

Burn With Me Album Cover Art

All Wasted – Burn With Me
Wormholedeath
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 46:16
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

With members rooted in Sweden’s ever-fruitful underground music scene, All Wasted are a punk-laced death metal group whose sole intention seems to be “have a bloody good time”. The five-piece possesses a sound definitely inspired by UK legends Motörhead, as they throw down a cavalcade of riffs with the melodies of classic rock & roll.

Whilst their intentions are pure and the heroes are of the highest order, “Burn With Me” does actually take a little while to really get into a solid groove. Openers ‘Passion Of Crime’ and ‘Behind Broken Glass’ do have their moments in the sun, the latter – the faster of the two – has an incredible energy to it to really psyche you up for what’s about to come, with the formidable tandem of vocalist Patrik Johansson and backing vocalist/guitarist Emil Sjöstrand making the vocal portions of the album an absolute treat. Johansson alone sits on such a fantastic middle ground of hardcore and death metal that makes you want to run round your front room and get all sweaty.

And maybe it’s just a personal taste thing of whilst those songs may be “good”, they’re not quite “great”, or maybe they were just eclipsed by the cataclysmic units of follow-up couplet ‘Towards The End’ and ‘Sense Of Weakness’. Any time I put this album on, these were the songs that made me stop and say “phwoar!” before making unflattering gurning faces. ‘Towards The End’ opens with a steady barrage of riffs, quite fittingly sitting somewhere between The Offspring’s ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ and In Flames’ ‘Bullet Ride’, as we gallop towards the monstrous chorus that has a touch of latter-day Children of Bodom/Bodom After Midnight (minus the keys).

They are then able to top themselves almost immediately with ‘Sense Of Weakness’ and largely, it’s because of all the same reasons why it’s predecessor was so good as well. Grooving riffs, a stunning vocal performance, and that chorus! The addition of a simple vocal harmony to give it some depth and theatre, and some top of the line drum work from H-Can, who is also simplifying his role, but in a way that still gives the song enough punch to make sure the energy levels don’t drop off completely.

From there, the album does keep a fairly high level throughout, and while it may largely do one thing, it does that one thing exceptionally well. ‘Dawn Will Rise No More’ does tap into more melodeath territory with searing melodies over the chorus, the title-track goes into a Cancer Bats-esque hardcore epiphany, and ‘Rotten To The Core’ and ‘This Means War’ do God’s work in keeping the energy levels and the quality up to the final note.

In regard to issues with the release, outside of the slow start, there’s not really much to complain about. As I said previously, “Burn With Me” largely does one thing, and does it well, so it’s not an album that you can dissect and say, “that hammer-on in track 6 didn’t work for me”. This ain’t exactly your dad’s 70’s prog that he won’t stop going on about. Arguably, because it stays in this realm throughout its entire duration, the sound does drag a little after a while, and it’s not even that long of an album, clocking in at just over 46 minutes. Compare that to some of the bigger punk/metal releases of the past few years, Capra’s debut went for 32 minutes, Svalbard’s post-metal-tinged “When I Die, Will I Get Better?” clocks in at 38 mins, Entombed A.D.’s “Bowels Of Earth” raged for 36 mins, even Napalm Death in their new age experimentations on “Throes Of Joy…” had a runtime of 42 mins. In a live setting, I imagine it’d be a non-factor, but whilst vibing around the house? It’s like sharing a flat with the Ultimate Warrior.

All Wasted’s debut album is tonnes of fun. I love a chorus that packs melodies into the aural energy of getting punched in the head, and this has that by the bucket full. The fun and energy of punk rock with the power and aggression of death metal will always be a winning combination in my mind!

‘Fading Out Of Line (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Passion Of Crime
02. Behind Broken Glass
03. Towards The End
04. Sense Of Weakness
05. The Rise
06. Burn With Me
07. I Am The Pain
08. Fading Out Of Line
09. Dawn Will Rise No More
10. Out Of This Grave
11. Rotten To The Core
12. Time To Burn
13. This Means War

LINE-UP:
Patrik Johansson – Vocals
Emil Sjöstrand – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Eric Rydén – Guitars
Jimmy Malmenlid – Bass
H-Can – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Steven Hooke 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.

Schysma – Schysma

Schysma Album Cover Art

Schysma – Schysma
Wormholedeath Records
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Running Time: 43:09
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Good afternoon, dear friends and followers of The One Who Walks Backwards. My Pimm’s fuelled rantings continue unabated. The evil Eye of Sauron in the sky above Yorkshire continues to burn its fiery will into my skin and I continue to cower within the shelter of Dark Juan Terrace swearing terrible vengeance upon it, if only I could construct a vessel able to withstand the crushing gravities and stellar heat I would encounter. How I wish I could plunge a spear of ethereal ice deep in the flaming heart of the beast, and then I would not have to experience the milk bottle white, blotchy legs and shamefully awful tattoos of the myriad of howling mad bastards who have unaccountably all not got jobs to go to and have instead turned up in the nearest hostelry in defiance of the possibility of further contagion from the last year… and they are doing this to shout about some grown men in shorts kicking a pig’s bladder around a bit of grass. Except, this time, it’s special because it is international. Bah humbug. I fucking hate football and the propensity of the followers of that sport to turn into gurning, fucktard dribblers as soon as it comes on the television. And people fight over it too. I mean come on…It’s a game. It is a game that has been hijacked by businessmen and NO fucking footballer is worth millions of pounds. Ever. Nurses, care workers, cleaners, deliverymen and any number of other jobs are worth more than fucking footballers, yet the ability to kick an inflated pig’s bladder straight is lauded more than people actually making a difference to other people’s lives. Fuck that for a game of soldiers…

I’m supposed to be doing a review aren’t I? I’ll stop moaning and crack on then…I am now listening to one of the most splendidly demented pieces of music I have ever had the pleasure to hear, in Schysma’s self-titled album. This Italian band have clearly decided that if they are going to play music, then they are going to go straight for the throat and bloody well gnaw chunks out of it as they hang on for dear life. How the fuck am I going to describe this chimeric beast?

Imagine Nightwish, sped up to one and half times the speed and add to that some of the most gloriously unhinged operatic vocals I have ever heard, roaming from alto to soprano with joy and carefree abandon, with a bit of nu-metal mixed into a gothic/ power metal sound and a keyboard player who has decided that the only way forward is to play high gothic keyboards at the speed of a Rhapsody Of Fire guitar solo constantly and without any form of restraint whatsoever.

Jesus Holy High Christ in a chariot driven sidecar – this is beyond magnificent. It’s absolutely fucking mental. The music is actually spectacularly complex and high minded and the entire band are superb players and they had a band meeting one day and have clearly said, “Behold this, our field of fucks. We have none to give, for it is barren.” Schysma are madder than a room full of painted frogs and even their visual aesthetic on their promo pictures is awesome, referencing high goth and The Portrait of Dorian Grey. Gorgeous gowns and militaristic clothing abound and even the production on the record has attained all new heights of bombast. Everything is so lushly produced it all risks descending into a glorious wriggling mess, yet somehow avoids this and from a production perspective this album is one of the richest, warmest things I have ever heard. Gothic metal sometimes risks the keyboards and high-handedness overpowering everything else, yet in Schysma every instrument is distinct and clear even over the powerful and idiosyncratic vocals of Eliana Sanna (think Floor Jansen and King Diamond’s love child, ignoring the unholy sexual congress that would have had to happen to result in this, and add a level of insanity that even Charles Manson would shrink back in horror from) and this is actually a pretty massive achievement, especially considering that Schysma’s entire sound can only be described as colossal. This is the kind of sound that Nightwish and Lacuna Coil wish they could achieve.

What are the downsides? It’s a fucking exhausting listen because there is just so much going on – the complexity in arrangement of Tool, the histrionics of Within Temptation and Nightwish, the drama of opera, the underlying influence of math metal like Meshuggah and Mudvayne and the vocals of an escaped and possibly murderous madwoman combine to slam you against a non-stop wall of sound and pin you there bloodied, helpless and powerless to resist. It also suffers slightly from not deviating from the formula the band have created for themselves – although every track is original and fresh, the sound and the arrangements of the songs are all cut from the same rich cloth. There’s no light and dark here, it’s all gorgeous coiffures, sumptuous lace gowns and frock coats and breeches, fuelled with endless fucking cocaine. Like, all the fucking cocaine in the world in one colossal snort with a fuckton of Billy added for good measure because Schysma couldn’t possibly think of slowing down to mortal speeds. Oh no. And that, while not a problem, does give a bit of a lack of variety to the music. A little bit of black coffee and a cigarette break and a number where they dial back the hell bent for warp speed gothic murderousness would pay handsomely.

I can’t give you a standout song because they are all absolutely fucking splendid. If you love bombast, gothic power metal and operatic female vocals, holy fuck, are you in for a treat! Honest to god I have never heard a more extreme gothic metal record ever. Every single element is turned up to eleven and stays there. For sheer absolute power, there ain’t much that can beat it.

I’m actually totally blown away. This is what operatic metal should sound like. Powerful, massive, absolutely unapologetic and utterly, UTTERLY out to lunch. Although metal purists will fucking hate it, I am in love with this bunch of Italian lunatics!

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Il sistema brevettato di valutazione degli schizzi di sangue di Dark Juan) cannot help himself but award Schysma the full beans 10/10 for a fucking fun record. Congratulazioni, ragazzi e ragazze!!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Day One
02. Origins
03. Romances For Weak Minded
04. Into My Illusion
05. As World Turns
06. No Lease Of Life
07. Gates Of Omega
08. Redrum
09. Aequilibrium
10. Your Sins Will Find You Out

LINE-UP:
Martina Bellini – Keyboards
Eliana Sanna – Vocals
Vladimiro Sala – Guitar
Luca Solina – Drums
Fabrizio Gaffuri – Bass Guitar

LINKS:

Schysma Promo Pic
Logo (

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.

Averted – Silenced EP

Silenced EP Cover

Averted – Silenced EP
Wormholedeath
Release Date: 18/12/2020
Running Time: 25:19
Review by Steven Hooke
7/10

It feels weird and a little dirty to describe anybody’s sound “old school djent” given the youthful tenure of the progressive metalcore-adjacent genre, following its primary explosion in popularity in 2009. I mean, it can only just about go and watch Wonder Woman 1984 in cinemas (if we were allowed outside that is).

But “old school” or “first-wave” djent seems the most fitting descriptor for this Southampton four-piece. These early days of the controversial movement saw bands perform in two very distinct ways: widdle around on guitar like they’re doing their Grade 8 exam with the occasional Meshuggah-laced power chord thrown in there to show they’re part of the scene, and swapping out the aggro parts of modern metalcore with ‘obZen’ by Meshuggah.

On their debut release, Averted have done the latter, offering a sprightly modern metalcore affair with Jamie Stevens’ tree trunk-thick guitar tone to bounce along the rhythm, that explodes into wild, spindly licks that eventually give way to the double-barrelled vocals of Syhem Angel. An underrated trope of the genre – and something producer Jack Stephens has nailed – is that a release’s mix allows drummers and bassists (the unsung heroes of metal rhythm sections) to have their talents heard to great extent as well, as drummer Merlin Parr meets every syncopated chug at the pass, and Logan Ashed does as good a job accentuating the low-end tones of the band’s sound, as he does echoing any tangible scale adventure Jamie takes, as heard best on ‘Vaecordia’.

Something I found took a little while to come around to (whilst categorically not saying they are bad at all) were the vocals of frontwoman Syhem. Her harshes are more than sound and up to the task, delivering a range not too dissimilar to Otep Shamaya, albeit with less rasp and more guttural body. In her cleans though, it almost feels like at times, she’s singing outside the ranges of this style of metalcore, having such a rich, unusual sound to her voice, oftentimes feeling more at home on a power metal record. Using ‘Sacrifice’ as an example, the instrumentation in the verses is short and punchy, whilst the vocals feel like they’re trying to use a more flowing kind of delivery, but somewhere there’s been a compromise and the vocals are trying to hit a word-per-beat ratio. Compare that to a song like ‘Absolution’, where sharp, heavy riffs build to a swell for Syhem’s vocals in a way that feels way more natural and it’s a no contest. Considering all parts of the EP were recorded in individual home studios, meaning the collaborative process would have been a different beast entirely, and as a group, they’re barely a year old, this can all easily be remedied in the post-apocalyptic future of inter-person engagements. Also, as a side note, the power clean vocals on the chorus of the title track are sinfully good. Take a bow.

Overall Averted haven’t rewritten the rules for djent or ushered in a new era of techy metalcore, everything on “Silenced” has been done before, but it’s a testament to them that at no point did it feel repetitive or boring. Again, considering each part of the EP was recorded in separate remote locations and doesn’t sound horrendously dysfunctional shows that they have promise as a unit. Getting a better hold of the song flow that is mutually beneficial to the music and vocals will improve with time and the delicate experiments with synths and keyboards, show that they’re already looking to expand their sound, and thus it may be a matter of time before the dedicated tech metalcore crowd starts taking notice.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Plea
02. Silenced
03. Vaecordia
04. The Curse
05. Sacrifice
06. Absolution

LINE-UP:
Syhem Angel – Lead Vocals
Jamie Stevens – Guitars
Logan Ashed – Bass
Merlin Parr – Drums

LINKS:

Averted

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Steven Hooke 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.

Aeternitas – Haunted Minds

Aeternitas – Haunted Minds
Wormholedeath Records/The Orchard/Aural Music
Release Date: 20/11/2020
Running Time: 48.08
Review by Dark Juan
5/10

Cordial greetings, dear friends and fellow followers of the Left-Hand Path! It is I, Dark Juan, and I trust I find you full of that Friday feeling and you are rapidly filling yourselves with alcohol and other party treats and that you are indulging in a lengthy and debauched weekend planned with your significant others. As long as there is love in the world then I am content. That, and worship of our Lord and Master of mankind, Shaitan. May the Horned One drink in your debauches like the finest wines and reap a fearful tally of souls from children who can’t spell Santa correctly… The little bastards will wish they had not asked for puppies for Christmas when the hellhounds are delivered, and they find the bloody, ravaged and half-eaten corpses of their parents being tossed around like ragdolls by Fido. Have you noticed that I am not amused by the imminent festivities yet? Bah, and indeed humbug…

This evening, I have gone down a different musical path than I normally do, and I will make a valiant and probably unsuccessful attempt to be factual about German gothic symphonic metal band Aeternitas and their latest offering, entitled “Haunted Minds”. Now, if you know me and considering the amount of crap I write for Ever-Metal, you really should by now, and you will no doubt be aware that I am a sad old goff and love anything pompous and overblown. Now, considering that, you would think that I would be a rabid fan of anything that involves metal and fucking orchestras, would you not? Well, normally you’d be correct, but gothic symphonic metal has to be done RIGHT, otherwise it just sounds like a colossal shitshow that some fucker has thrown some violins at.

Well…

It appears Aeternitas have listened to a metric fuckton of “Once” era Nightwish and taken ‘Dark Chest Of Wonders’ as a starting point and have stretched that particular sound as far as they can physically take it without descending into some keyboard led white noise explosion. However, Aeternitas are by no means as talented as that merry bunch of Finnish (and Dutch) orchestra enthusiasts, and it shows. Both the male and female vocalists are strictly average, bordering on poor in Aeternitas, and for this style of music to work you have to be an exceptional vocal talent, able to soar above the music. Neither Julia Marou or Alex Hunzinger are exceptional, and Alex in particular is not acceptable, as he doesn’t have an interesting voice, and nor can he growl properly, so you end up with some kind of bizarre halfway house vocal which is barely tolerable. He is a much better conductor of an orchestra, though. The symphonic parts of the record are fucking brilliant and the choir excellent and his arrangements good. The songs, however, are derivative and uninteresting. Julia’s voice is too low in the mix of the record and frequently sounds a half-tone flat while singing, and she also has a weak vibrato and range. For this style of metal to work, you need a coruscating skyrocket of a voice and Julia’s alto just doesn’t cut it.

The songs on the album are also uninspiring. Every song on the record sounds like a variation on ‘Dark Chest Of Wonders’ apart from album closer ‘My Haunted Mind’ which is an execrable piano ballad which ends the whole distinctly average shebang on the dampest of damp squibs. I fucking hate ballads and this one’s a stinker, ladies, gentlemen and people of other genders, being mournful without being interesting and overlong by about a minute, thereby prolonging the agony longer than you need it to be. Ironically, though, it shows exactly what Julia is capable of, switching from alto to contralto in parts and showing some interesting variation in her vocal style.

There’s so much I didn’t enjoy on this record. The songs all sound the same, Alex’s vocal is poor, the mix is fucking shocking and produces an experience not unlike listening to Nightwish whilst immersing your head in a bath of scalding hot treacle, none of the instruments are sharply produced and the bass overpowers everything. The drums are flat and lifeless, you can barely hear the guitar work and the keyboards disappear in and out of the overall sound. The vocals also sound muffled, as if they were recorded by a microphone located in a different room to the singer. It’s all so…mechanical. There is no passion, no soul.

Best tune on here? ‘Castles In The Air’ by a country fucking mile. Starts with bombastic pomposity and builds to a pretty groovy chorus that gets you singing along handily and stands head and shoulders above the rest of the album.

Disappointed doesn’t even cover the emotion I am feeling right now. Average. Painfully average.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Das Patentierte Dunkle Juan Blood Splat Bewertungssystem) awards Aeternitas 5/10 for an uninspired Nightwish-lite album. Meh. It got 5/10 because of the strength of the classical arrangements and because of the fucking slamming chorus on ‘Castles In The Air’.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Destiny
02. Fountain Of Youth
03. The Unforgivable Sin
04. The Birthmark
05. Castles In The Air
06. Fallen Innocence
07. The Ring
08. Another Day
09. The Beautiful
10. The Final Path
11. My Haunted Mind

LINE-UP:
Julia Marou – Vocals
Alex Hunzinger – Guitar, vocals
Anja Hunzinger – Keyboards
Daniel T. Lentz – Guitar
Rick Corbett – Bass (This man does not sound German!)
Frank Molk – Drums (There is an umlaut over the O but I am too disappointed to sort it out.)

LINKS:

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.

Ashes to Ashes – Urania

Urania Cover

Ashes to Ashes – Urania
Wormholedeath Music
Release Date:  01/04/2016
Running Time: 41.30
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
7/10

There is a debate in the world of rock and heavy metal that seems to have been raging ever since the dawn of time. No, it’s not who’s better, Megadeth or Metallica or who is the ultimate metal god of all time (of course, we know the answer to that one is Rob Halford!) It’s whether women have a place in the rock and metal world.

Before I get lynched for making such a statement, this is NOT, and I emphasise this, NOT, my way of thinking. I believe women have just as much right to be in a rock or metal band as men do, hell some of the women are BETTER than the guys but, this being said, there are some people around that think women can’t do the job as well as blokes can.

Now, I admit I was never really a fan of female fronted bands. This had nothing whatsoever to do with their musical or singing abilities, I just preferred the sound of a guy at the helm. I didn’t really like the mix of operatic vocals with heavy metals riffs by bands such as Nightwish and Epica and as this was obviously my own preference, I am by no means saying they weren’t good bands, they just weren’t for me.

But since those days, the female vocals have evolved, becoming a lot more aggressive and powerful which is why coming across a band such as Ashes to Ashes was a delight.

Formed in Genoa, Italy in 2010 by Marta Vassollo (piano/vocals), Paolo Schiavi (lead guitars) and Paolo di Lorenzo (drums), the three of them were eventually joined by Enrico Cabona (second guitar) and Stefano Anentodio (bass) to complete the line up. The band signed to Wormholedeath Records in 2013, after the release of their first album “Borderline” and their second album “Urania” was released in 2016.

In September 2016, Marta decided to leave the band and she was replaced by Giulia Sarpero (ex-vocalist of Kramers). Within a month the band were back in the studio to re-record two of the most representative tracks on the album with new vocals giving the songs a whole new atmosphere.

Musically, Ashes to Ashes blend light with dark, heavy with acoustic and, as their promo notes states they “take female fronted metal to a new level with a mix of cleans and growls that is visionary.” There are touches of alternative metal with bits and pieces of post hardcore on one side and clean arpeggios on the other.

At the first listen this album might seem a bit lightweight to some people, the vocals a teeny bit weak. BUT, stick with it, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Track five “The Forgiveness Song” introduces some male growls along with the female gentler vocals, a mix that shouldn’t work but does and this trend carries on for the rest of the album.

And listening through for the second and third time, the vocals are not as feeble as first thought. This woman has a great voice and although it’s not as aggressive as some of the female singers around at the moment, it doesn’t mean it is inferior to them in any way! In fact, it shows that women do not have to compete with the guys to make their mark. A woman doesn’t have to grunt and growl to prove she has a powerful voice, nor does she have to veer in the opposite direction and take on the operatics of Tarja or Simone.

Throw into the mix some great guitar work and musicianship and you have the terrific band Ashes to Ashes. They may only be starting out with this current line up but with a few years under their belt they could be up there with the best of them. The band, themselves, consider their strength to be their “ambition to create a distinctive sound” and this ambition could take them places. But they have to be careful not to fall into the trap of changing their vocal sound to fit in with all the other female led bands. Their “distinctive sound” is already starting to show through and they need to nurture that and let it grow and flourish.

All in all, this is a solid album from start to finish and is just over 41 minutes of well written, well performed tracks, proving that years of hard work, promotion and effort have paid off. I haven’t heard the first album but I certainly hope to hear anything else these guys put out and follow them on their journey of self-discovery and progress.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Popular
2. Nymph
3. Naked
4. Once Upon A Time
5. The Forgiveness Song
6. A Thousand Pieces
7. Birds In A Cage
8. Path In The Dark
9. Wallace Hartley
10. Mother Of Grace
11. Just Daydreaming

LINE-UP:
Enrico Cabona – Guitar
Paolo Di Lorenzo – Drums
Paolo Schiavi – Lead Guitar
Stefano Anentodio – Bass
Giulia Sarpero – Vocals

LINKS:

Promo Pic1

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn ‘The Metal Priestess’ King 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.