Monday, August 30, 2021

Full Length Review: V:28 "Live In Arendal 2008" (Independent) by Corban Skipwith

Band: V:28
Location: Arendal
Country: Norway
Genre: Atmospheric electronic black/death metal
Format: Digital album
Label: Independent
Release date: January 21, 2018
Who’s ready for a live album? Let’s Go!
V:28 with ‘Live In Arendal 2008’.
It’s so exciting for me when I get to review new things and I can tell you now it’s not that often I get to review live albums so I was exacted by this.
When reading the bio of the band they claim to be a ‘Half Man-Half Machine’ band. Can you get any cooler than that? If that alone doesn’t make you want to listen to this album then you’re lying.
So the first thing that stuff out to me was how ‘theatrical’ it felt in nature, it felt like I was watching a Metal documentary or something, or imagine a Metal David Attenborough! (That would be quite the scene) but that’s the strong almost ‘cinematically’ vibrant this felt.
When we talk about the music itself I would describe it to be variants of
-Death Metal
-Symphonic Metal
-Black Metal
Sharing back and forth the different influences and inspirations incorporated into their music, you’ll hear the loud, violent moving of the drums and guitar when the ‘Death’ flavour comes in, vice versa you will hear strong symphonic keys and dramatic elements play out on the Symphonic Metal appears.
What’s good about this is the way in which they switch between and at times blend the different genres, it doesn’t sound messy at all. The combinations are swift and technical, not leaving any real possibility for poor mashing and awkward temp shifts, it’s clean, cut and executed in the highest of ways.
I’ll tell you most of the times listening to this I completely forgot it was a live album, I had to always remind myself as I preview the new song titles that it says ‘LIVE’ on the album cover.
I mean from time to time you hear the crowd cheering but once the next song hits it’s all quiet again.
Also frequent in this album are these interesting sound clips of people talking and different actions being done that plays all through the album beginning, middle and end.
As I wasn’t there Live and I’m listening to it and not watching it I don’t know if these clips were performed live as in they were video clips that everyone was physically watching or if it was just audio but regardless of which it was, it gives a strong sense of theatre mixed with the album, as if it was released as an ‘experience’ rather than a body of work.
I highly recommend this album for anyone who is looking for something new and fresh, for people who are after a strong Metal performance, what I’m trying to say is this album will be for everyone. It has a little bit for all and I feel if you give this a try especially in a closed off environment you will feel something you’ve never felt in Metal before. –Corban Skipwith

Eddie Risdal: Vocals, guitars
Kristoffer Oustad: Guitars
Atle Johansen: Bass

Track list:
1. Perspective
2. Soldier Of The Neverending War
3. A Prophecy Written In Uranium
4. DeConstructor
5. World Wide Bombing Day
6. Desert Generator
7. When Entropy Decreases

This review can also be read at Corban Skipwith's Facebook group Relentless Reviews With Corbz. -DW

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Full Length Review: Windbruch "No Stars, Only Full Dark" (Hypnotic Dirge) by Dave Wolff

Band: Windbruch
Location: Nizhnevartovsk
Country: Russia
Genre: Atmospheric black metal
Format: CD, digital album
Label: Hypnotic Dirge
Release date: February 1, 2014
The Russian city of Nizhnevartovsk is characterized by long winters, early autumns and late springs. This sounds like a fitting location for a band like Windbruch and their style of black metal, which includes atmosphere, depressive vibes and elements of post and prog. “No Stars, Only Full Dark” was recommended to me by Daniel Ryan of Transylvanian Forest Ezine and (more recently) the net radio program Dan’s Block Featuring DJ Chaos, and it’s as fitting a harbinger for the coming of autumn.
This was released back in 2014 and as far as I know they haven’t released anything since. It’s not your typical black metal album though no one can say what typical black metal is anymore. As a stand-alone release it doesn’t sound exactly like anyone else despite the slight similarities to Burzum, Sear Bliss, Limbonic Art and Deafheaven. “No Stars, Only Full Dark” has dusky overtones and a feel of vast emptiness, it’s clear and polished with as much soothing melody as depressive presentiment. Rather than diminish its darker angles it brings them out making them much more profound, imposing and encompassing.
I’ve never heard this band before today but already I’m starting to realize why “No Stars, Only Full Dark” draws people into the band’s world so easily at first listen. It comes closer to the majestic beauty in darkness than what most BM bands achieved in the 1990s. The band is the brainchild of a solo musician who goes by the name Rodion. In his songwriting he displays a certain obsession with what’s dark, repetitive and hypnotic. He doesn’t exactly surpass what Count Grishnackh did, but Rodion clearly makes an effort to take it into new directions, adding new elements to give his hypnotic dynamics elevated levels of intensity.
One example of what I mean is the track “No Stars”, which marries chimes, dissonant, droning guitars, intricate percussion and waves upon waves of keyboard sounds to paint a mural of futuristic desolation that’s simultaneously forlorn and dazzling. It results in a feeling likened to Ray Bradbury’s short story “Kaleidoscope” and for clarification of what I’m referring to you’ll have to read it for yourself. The track “Only Full Dark” is built on more ethereal keyboard sounds, thriving on slow rhythms and haunting spoken word parts to permeate your soul before taking turns into musical territory that’s even darker and emptier. It’s a shame Rodion hasn’t pursued his vision further since “No Stars, Only Full Dark” shows he was on to something. Maybe in the near future he’ll start writing new material to build on what he accomplished here. –Dave Wolff

Rodion: Vocals, all instruments

Track list:
1. The Dance of Liquid Fire
2. No More Entry, No More Exit
3. No Stars
4. A City on Fire
5. Only Full Dark
6. Neswa-Pawuk
7. Flashback to my Lake

Friday, August 27, 2021

Single Review: Upon Shadows "Encuentro / Kohtaaminen" (Independent) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Upon Shadows
Location: Montevideo
Country: Uruguay
Genre: Feminine dark metal
Format: Digital
Label: Independent
Release date: October 18, 2020
Oh, Bandcamp, where would I be without you?
Not writing this for sure! What’s good everyone! I’m back and today we have a small EP to cover and even though it’s only two tracks they pack more of a punch then any two track EP I’ve ever heard! Welcome to the 2020 release of "Encuentro/Kohtaaminen" by Upon Shadows.
So as I mentioned above we have two tracks as the title suggests. After many listens back and forth I’ve discovered the two songs are the same just in two different languages. The first track in Spanish and the second in Finnish. But as they are both identical I’m going to be reviewing these two songs as a single:
Both mean ‘Meeting’ in English.
Let me say this, the profound energy and all around aura that these two songs present are some of the darkest and magical I’ve ever come across.
From the opening intro you can hear this beautiful piano lead you off into this scene of ‘Black Metal’ that cultivates your every sense. Those thrashing drums and guitar riffs all taking charge at once almost in a sonic race to get to the finish line.
Amongst all this brutality provided by the instrumentation, we get a constant call back to the ‘magical’ element I spoke of earlier.
It will only be in small increments throughout the whole track but certain piano keys or particular ambient sound transitions send chills down my spine (for all the right reasons).
The vocal harmonies go back and forth between:
-Death Growls
-High Pitch Screaming
-Lullaby style singing
I love how even though there are various singing styles all in one song it never feels overlapped or overused, never ‘too’ much or ‘too’ little. It’s all fits perfectly within the 7 minutes given and I love how they manage to branch out the different layers of music presented and then execute the vocals accordingly.
Although I may not understand what they are saying (in either version) I can say this has made me feel more real-life emotion than most album recommendations for sure, call this ‘Lullabies for Metalheads’ because that’s what it feels like.
The magical Ambient elements, the brutality of the Metal. The talent shift with the ever-changing vocal harmonies and the constant layering of the music to help not only make an interesting track but also provide that in-depth experience that one doesn’t normally find.
I highly recommend everyone go listen to this and feel the experience! –Corban Skipwith

Natalia Arocena: bass
Tamara Picardo: keyboards, guitars and vocals

Special participations:
Lucía Sena: Drums
Angela P. Coldnight: DSBM vocals
Gabriel Brikman: Guitar arrangement

Track list:
1. Encuentro
2. Kohtaaminen

This review can also be read at Corban Skipwith's Facebook group Relentless Reviews With Corbz. -DW

Monday, August 23, 2021

Full Length Review: Drift Into Black "Patterns Of Light" (Black Doomba Records) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Drift Into Black
Location: New Jersey
Country: USA
Genre: Melodic doom metal
Full Length: Patterns Of Light
Format: Digital album, limited edition vinyl LP
Label: Black Doomba Records
Release date: May 28, 2021
It’s not very often you hear an album with both Black Metal and Classic Heavy Metal vibes, so let’s talk about it!
Patterns Of Light by Drift Into Black.
So, this is the May release by the band, to my knowledge their most recent album and it features a tracklist of 8 songs.
The first thing I want to mention that really grabbed my attention was the amazing synchronized harmony between Melodic Black Metal and Classic Heavy Metal (as mentioned above).
It’s less the combination and more the fluency that surprises me because in theory those two should mix well, considering how many numerous Black Metal/Folk combinations there are out there, it only makes sense that these two would blend. The part that I feel makes this whole project come together perfectly is the production.
From the opening track you can hear the melody seemingly pouring into the ear of the listener, you can hear all the individual instrumentation pop out with bright colours and flavours.
You can hear the amazing vocal performances given to further enhance the project’s smooth experience.
If I had to describe the singing imagine Dio mixed with some Trivium (clean vocals) and that’s the vibe I’m getting.
I also love how they are able to create this fantastically cohesive listen from start to finish.
It’s one thing to have beautifully created tracks but if you don’t utilize them properly and make sure that each song flows into the next to create the said ‘seeming less’ experience then it’s all for nothing or more realistically it’s less enjoyable knowing that In between each song is either unfitted production, prolonging silence or improper use of textures, influences, and samples.
What I’m trying to say is, when you’re going for a melodic album it’s been to make sure the whole project runs its course like a river! Take Led Zeppelin IV, for example, one of the most perfect albums in existence to the point it’s almost magical!
The fluency in that album is top tier and every song whether heavier or softer fits together perfectly with the rest of the album.
In short, this band does the same type of perfectionism on this project, its heavy when it needs to be, it’s melodic when it has to be and they focused on the album as a whole to create a brilliant/majestic experience that won’t be soon forgotten! –Corban Skipwith

Craig Rossi: Vocals, guitars, keyboards
Rick Habeeb: Guitars
Paul LaPlaca: Bass, megatar
Klemen Markelj: Drums

Track list:
1. The Silent Autumn
2. Among the Beast
3. Mother in Peril
4. The Burial Gown
5. Thread of Hope
6. Her Voice from Beyond
7. Patterns of Light Pt1
8. Patterns of Light Pt2

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Full Length Review: Fuck The Facts "Pleine Noirceur" (Noise Salvation) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Fuck The Facts
Location: Gatineau, Québec
Country: Canada
Genre: Grindcore
Full Length: Pleine Noirceur
Format: Digital album, limited edition 12" clear w/ smoke vinyl (second pressing), limited edition compact disc (second pressing)
Label: Noise Salvation
Release date: November 20, 2020
Fuck the Facts! I’m here to review
Right off the bat, that’s a fun headline for a review.
This is actually the band name and the album we will be talking about today is called:
-Pleine Noirceur
So, here we have a Canadian Grindcore band! A sub-genre of metal I never really talk about but a sound I do enjoy from time to time. For those who don’t know it’s known for being a very ‘meat and potatoes’ style in the sense of similar to Death Metal it has its cliché notes and overall sonic aesthetic it follows throughout almost all the bands.
For Grindcore it’s normally maniac/crazy screaming over just repeating fast-paced instrumentals with not too much variety or technique involved, a band that defies this cliché would be a band like ‘Dying Fetus’ who especially on their album ‘Wrong One To Fuck With’ definitely explored greater creativity and sound for the sub-genre.
But back to this band, I have to admit this album really surprised me. It had the trademark high pitch screaming accompanying the record but it’s in the instrumentals and production and even some of the off the wall patterns incorporated throughout that makes it such an interesting listen.
For example, I hear so many various influences such as:
-Black Metal
-Speed Metal
-Death Metal
-Death Core
Not only does it borrow from a lot of different diverse genres but it showcases them out in front of the song, I’ve talked about cases where ‘subtly’ can be an overlooked and often underappreciated way to incorporate new ideas and music but when a band like this lets their influences speak for themselves it’s really badass and makes a statement.
It seemed like from the very first song I was left wondering ‘what sound will I hear next’ or ‘what will they add into this one or that it was a really fun, engaging experience that made me look forward to in a way the creativity coming from track to track.
If I had to compare what they are doing to someone recently I’d have to say use the Black Metal outfit ‘Liturgy’. A one-woman act I believe (similar to Burzum) anyway she recorded this album called ‘H.A.Q.Q’ that just threw all the traditional elements of Black Metal out the window in exchange for extreme use of noise and glitch and total experimentation.
To be honest, a lot of the metal community don’t even like her music because they don’t believe she can be considered ‘Black Metal’ as she’s strayed too far from the original sound.
But nonetheless, preferences aside the level of creativity (although not as extreme) are relatable here in their embracing of the different core influences and sounds.
With the wonderful use of production and elements of surprise, the vocal performances were amazing and as batshit as you could ever hope for in a Grindcore album.
This is the kind of album you choose to listen to if you’re sick of the same ‘Meat and Potato’s’ sound and you want something more, if you’re an ‘old head’ or ‘traditionalist’ then maybe this album isn’t for you, our maybe it is? The only way to truly know is by helping these guys out by streaming the album below and helping them in their career!
It’s a thumbs up from me! –Corban Skipwith

Topon Das: Guitars
Mathieu "Vil" Vilandre: Guitars, drums
Mel Mongeon: Vocals, lyrics
Track list:
1. Doubt, Fear, Neglect
2. Ailleurs
3. Pleine Noirceur
4. Aube
5. Sans Lumière
6. Sans Racines
7. Everything I Love Is Ending
8. A Dying Light
9. Dropping Like Flies
10. L'abandon
11. An Ending
12. _cide

This review can also be read at Corban Skipwith's Facebook group Relentless Reviews With Corbz. -DW

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Full Length Review: Altars Of The Moon "Brahmastra" (Disorder Recordings) by Dave Wolff

Band: Altars Of The Moon
Location: Portland, Oregon
Country: USA
Genre: Experimental post black metal
Full Length: Brahmastra
Format: Digital album
Label: Disorder Recordings
Release date: August 20, 2021
Beginning as an idea while 2020 began with the Covid-19 lockdown, Altars Of The Moon and the concept of reflecting “the vast majesty of isolation” through music was created by Uada bassist Nate Verschoor. Verschoor had a vision to shape into a chaotic storm of darkened soundscapes and given a voice to present a collective interpretation of distance and remoteness in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Watching a favorite cable TV program once, I was given the idea that when the universe ended in the distant future, and light and heat no longer existed, gravity would remain to become the dominant force. Altars Of The Moon’s full length “Brahmastra” comes across as a representation of this idea from its first moments, seemingly dislocating you from light and inexorably draw you into its complex soundscapes and sinister vocals.
For two songs comprising half an hour, “Brahmastra” feels like an eternity is crammed into that space of time, with dual bass, guitars and synthesizers ebbing and flowing and undulating like an endless ocean of serenity and chaos. Once Verschoor and Jeff Wilson of Chrome Waves and formerly of Nachtmystium constructed a turbulent vortex leading to turmoil and pandemonium, all they needed was a narrative and a voice to relate it.
Heath Rave of Lotus Thrones bases this narrative on the ancient Indian legend of the Mahabharata, which tells of powerful supernatural weapons called the Brahmashirsha astra and the Brahmanda astra. Written for this album is a modern tale based on this legend, depicting the apocalypse as a mantra to complement Verschoor and Wilson’s musicianship.
Hinting at Burzum, Dødheimsgard and Blut Aus Nord as the songs shift from one mood to the next, “Brahmastra” mingles 90s black metal and ambient music with modern blackgaze, prog black metal and post black metal. Some material written in sounding attributed to classic Pink Floyd is easily recognizable but doesn’t contrast with anything.
The dark and desolate sensibilities grow each time the overall mood on this album changes, until the feeling of witnessing the final destruction of all things is all that’s left to experience. No ruins, no buried structures, just nothingness. When it comes to depicting the apocalypse, Altars Of The Moon is a band that takes it seriously. –Dave Wolff

Heath Rave: Vocals
Nate Verschoor: Bass, guitars, synth, programming
Jeff Wilson: Bass, guitars, synth

Track list:
1. Brahmastra Pt. 1
2. Brahmastra Pt. 2

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Full Length Review: Evoking Winds "Towards Homestead" (Independent) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Evoking Winds
Location: Minsk
Country: Belarus
Genre: Atmospheric folk metal
Full Length: Towards Homestead
Format: Digital album
Label: Independent
Release date: August 10, 2008 (Reissued August 10, 2021)
I swear this can’t just be me, when listening to a certain album you just get these magical ‘goosebumps’ all through your body that make you shiver in excitement for what you're experiencing sonically, it’s the most amazing feeling when it comes and reporting to you all today I’m excited to announce I can add another album to that list.
Evoking Winds - Towards Homestead
So this is actually an older album (released in 2008) but re-issued this month. It contains 10 tracks and running just under the half an hour mark with 28 minutes and 16 seconds run time.
There is so much to enjoy from this album that it’s almost criminal to choose just one aspect, let’s start with the vocal performances.
Although there are many tracks on this album that feature just instrumentals when there is singing it’s done in some amazing classic Norwegian Black Metal mixed with a pinch of modern-day Death it’s quite the amazing mixture of tons and octave shifts.
I love the intensity in the spoken words, the brutality in the range. It reminds me of a storm approaching on a clear sunny day, ready to wreak havoc on all that is near, truly powerful performances.
On the production side of things, we have some of the strongest examples of Medieval Folk done right. If anyone is familiar with my work they know I’m a massive fanboy of Folk music, the traditional type and so whenever I hear an artist or a band utilize the sounds of a more ‘refined’ era it makes me smile cheek to cheek for I know I’m listening to not only great music but carefully thought out and planned in the details and the production.
If I had to give some sort of reference for the music side of things, imagine a combination of the band ‘Panopticon’ combined with Folk artist ‘Richard Dawson’ and that’s the vibe I’m getting.
True, authentic Medieval Folk at its finest and when you add on top of all that the listening experience with some good quality isolated headphones it makes for a more grand experience! One of those albums that makes you think of fairytales, magic and what lies beyond our own life.
I love the way this album made me feel whilst listening, I know that’s not the most important thing in the world but it does leave that lasting impression. The instrumentation was done perfectly and with the most technical prowess one could have, the vocals were the perfect contrast to the harmonic dream state that was the production and it all fit together nicely.
I would want everyone to give this album a chance at least once, I feel it could change your day too! –Corban Skipwith

Track list:
1. By the River She Cried
2. Oh Black Raven, Leave Me Be
3. In the Woods, On Yellow Sand
4. Yurja
5. Rye by Mountainside
6. There by the Adamant Sea
7. Why You, River
8. In Our Yard
9. Arrow's Burial
10. Grateful Night

Friday, August 13, 2021

EP Review: Reign Of Terror "Beer Metal" (Independent) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Reign Of Terror
Country: Australia
Genre: Death-thrash metal
EP: Beer Metal
Format: Digital, CD
Label: Eschatonic Records
Release date: July 22, 2021
What an ironic turn of events, that a legendary Australian band would be the one to not only ‘cultivate’ the term ‘Beer Metal’ but also provide one of the strangest yet most illusive albums I’ve heard in Metal all year.
What we have here is a five-track rabbit hole with plenty of different lanes, structures and room to explore that after each listen you’ll find yourself picking up something new.
Initially, I immediately picked up influences of:
-Arch Enemy
-Cannibal Corpse
And even certain elements of ‘Speed Metal’ sprinkled throughout the project in the way of tempos and time signatures.
With this being my first experience with this band, I have a lot to love about it. For example, I love the fluent production. To me this feels like one cohesive project with very little room for ‘a break’, so to speak, in the sonic aesthetic and vibe, they took the time to create. It’s engaging at its core and on the outside, it’s coated in this dark, gloomy essence that makes you feel you’re trapped within a musical black hole, all alone yet drawn to the powers at hand.
I also love the emphasis on the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for Metal. It made me think of a heavily patriotic narrative but the source being Heavy Metal. I have to say I haven’t really heard a song quite like it, to be honest, the closest till now I could compare this to would either be ‘The Metal’ by Tenacious D or ‘We’re Not Gonna Take it’ by Twisted Sister. Regardless, it’s a moving track that forces you to feel for the cause.
I love how in the five songs they are able to clarify a strong, brutal and indulgent direction. It’s got elements from a whole family of different genres and sounds that all come together in perfect harmony (which is no easy thing to do). And so without giving away the heart of the record, I once again request that each and every one who is reading this (metalhead or not) give this group a try and see why I reviewed them!
Passion, Velocity, Relentlessness, and Drive. This band and album have it all. It’s the kind of album that gives the middle finger to the status quo and makes you feel good for supporting them! I can’t recommend this enough, please go support them by visiting the link below! –Corban Skipwith

Reggae: Guitar, vocals
Mad Mike: Bass
Danny Mundi: Drums
JJ Lodding, Kim Malone, Luke Read: Backing vocals

Track list:
1. Black Tooth Grin
2. Carved In Stone
3. Daemon In A Bottle
4. Human Centipede
5. On Her Black Wings

Monday, August 9, 2021

Full Length Review: Burial In The Sky "Creatio Et Hominus" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Burial In The Sky
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Country: USA
Genre: Progressive technical death metal
Full Length: Creatio Et Hominus
Format: Digital album, CD, purple translucent vinyl
Label: Independent
Release date: June 1, 2018
If you thought you heard all there is to hear from death metal, I challenge you to give Burial In The Sky a chance. The Philadelphia act brazenly incorporates psychedelic progressive rock into “Creatio Et Hominus”. If Death collaborated on an album with Marillion it might sound something like this… or maybe not.
Anyway, you would hardly expect any crushing musicianship to follow the instrumental introduction “Nexus”, a noirish piece preparing you for a quiet metropolitan evening. Then the next track “Tesla” hits you quite unexpectedly with the most guttural vocals and downtuned guitars you can handle. This brutality is artfully contrasted with trippy, atmospheric guitars, piano, saxophone, mandolin, kalimba and radical mood changes illustrating life’s complexities.
In no way is this elitism from a band viewing deviation as pretentious, nor is this a musical preachfest demanding change and belittling you intellectually. Burial In The Sky equally respects both forms of expression, as they grow organically from each other in all the complexity they display, and they intend for you to feel every perception of reality contributing to a more complete world view. All subtle nuances of existence are given credence; through the rest of the album, and the band invites your openness without trying to instill anything into your head.
“Creatio Et Hominus”.makes a statement that everyone has the potential to evolve on their own terms. Even more surprising is, during the writing and recording of this album the band found the songs were assuming a life of their own, progressing beyond their expectations and becoming far more artistic than they thought they would turn out in the beginning. It surprises me that I discovered this album by chance and was greeted with such a profound statement.
The band has a new album coming out on Rising Nemesis Records this month, and I’m more than curious to hear what they’ve pieced together. They said they’ll be taking what they’ve done here further, with even more creativity and intensity. –Dave Wolff

Jorel Hart: Vocals
James Tomedi: Guitars, Slide, Keys, Mandolin, Kalimba
Zach Strouse: Bass, Saxophone
Sam Stewart: Drums, Piano
Jimmy Murphy: Vocals on “Tesla”
Brody Uttley: Guest Solo on “Creatio et Hominus”

Track list:
1. Nexus
2. Tesla
3. Nautilus' Cage
4. The Pivotal Flame
5. Psalms Of The Deviant
6. 5 Years
7. Creatio et Hominus

Interview with Moonlight Lily by Dave Wolff

Interview with Moonlight Lily by Dave Wolff

Your debut single “Masquerade” flavors gothic metal with alternative rock, emo metal and groove; the mix sounds natural and unforced. How did Moonlight Lily put this together and how much input did they have?
Blue Maddox (vocals, lyrics, synths): We didn’t really have any particular genre in mind while writing this song. We all like heavier sound but our influences are very diverse, so I guess it’s not strange that it’s showing in our music. This song was written when the pandemic just started so we did absolutely everything over the internet. The same happened with a few other songs we wrote last year.
Ed had these riffs buzzing in his head for a while so one day he decided to record them. That was the first draft of the song. Amazingly the guitars, bass and drums were already pretty solid. He shared the instrumental and I immediately heard the melodies that would go with it. I laid down the keys, then the vocal line and then the music inspired the lyrics. Everything came out instinctively and organically. Ed produced the song and I provided input as well. We recorded all in our home studios. Eric Rachel mixed the song and mastering was done by Alan Douches from West West Side Music.

Did arranging your single via the internet and taking time to develop your respective parts help the band compose a better song?
Blue: In recent years the technology has provided so many options that had not been available before. You can record the entire album at a home studio if you so choose. I personally like this, and I think it did help a lot. During the lockdown if it weren’t for the internet how would we create something at all? But when you ask if it helped compose a better song, I can’t say. In comparison to what?

Did everyone in Moonlight Lily meet through the internet, or were you acquainted with one another “in real life”? What made you decide how to pool your varying influences into your sound? Is the formula working so far?
Blue: I met Jenna and her drummer over the internet back in early 2017. I was living in Boston at a time, so we were meeting in Connecticut for rehearsals. I later relocated to New Jersey. Jenna and I parted ways with the drummer in early 2020 and started working with Ed at about that time. Ed and I are colleagues from work. I am not sure that we have a formula. At least not consciously. We know we want a heavier sound but other than that all options are open. We create what we feel at the moment. That’s worked so far but we will see how the listeners will react.

Were you all working in bands before forming Moonlight Lily? How much experience do you have as musicians, vocalists and songwriters?
Blue: We’ve all been in the bands since we were teenagers. Jenna in Of Beauty and Madness, The Riffsurfers, Dead Emotion… She also holds Bachelor’s in Music. Ed was a part of notable acts from PR, Madera Negra and Codigo Civil. I come from another continent so you’ve probably never heard of any of my previous bands. I’ve been writing and singing for years too.

Do your previous bands have material available for streaming? How about Ed and Jenna? How long have you been vocalist and writer to date?
Blue: You can look up Ed’s Madera Negra on Spotify or Jenna’s Of Beauty And Madness on Bandcamp. Me, I am not sure. What would count as a start date? I sang in every choir of every school I ever attended. I was maybe nine or ten when I first started. And writing, it was in high school when I started writing more seriously. I was big on Russian classics back then, Dostoyevsky especially. He had opened my mind to strange human nature and psychology, which I was just starting to grasp. There were also a few poets, Baudelaire or Poe come to mind.

What kind of a writer was Dostoyevsky and which of his ideas about human nature and psychology spoke to you and why?
Blue: I will oversimplify but to try and answer your question, he was an exceptional novelist who had a profound understanding of human nature. The idea that we are complicated beings born into this condition rooted in suffering and full of neurosis and pathology, tortured by our own existence full of all kinds of fears and ambivalent feelings, where default is inevitable while we, for the most part, remain unconscious, strongly resonated with me then and it still does today. The majority of us, when we are kids, we just are. But then, at some point we realize we exist and there is a world around us, and we try to make sense of it. Nothing strange there. It’s just how it is. But the moment you start asking questions you find there is no good answer, and no one bloody knows who we are, why we do what we do and why here.

Were there other Russian authors who you read as often as Dostoyevsky?
Blue: I read quite a few others, but they didn’t click as much as Dostoyevsky. There was, of course, Tolstoy, then Pushkin, Chekov, Bulgakov…

In what ways did Poe and Baudelaire help you understand you were not alone in your feelings and your questioning of what was around you?
Blue: Death, dreams, fantasy, beauty, passion, failure, fears, paradox, melancholy, impermanence, ecstasy, contrast, imagination, horror… All heavily present in their writings. To avoid setting myself up for a very long and possibly confusing answer I will just quote Poe: “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream…”

Which of Poe and Baudelaire’s writings had the most profound and lasting impact on you when you read them?
Blue: Poe’s “A Dream within a Dream”, “Annabel Lee”, and “The Raven” … Baudelaire’s “The Flowers of Evil” …

How did you hook up with Eric Rachel and Alan Douches to mix and master the single?
Blue: We had done a lot of research before we decided who we’d want to mix and master the single. We also wanted someone local. Eric and Alan both have rich portfolios, and we like their work. We got in touch with Eric. He heard the material and agreed to mix it, then he hooked us up with Alan.

Who had Rachel and Douches worked with before you discovered them? What about their track record convinced the band they’d do a good job?
Blue: The list of bands they worked with is very long. Some bands are well known some less known but everything we heard was well done. For example, Eric Rachel worked with In This Moment and Alan with Mastodon. Your readers have probably heard of those two bands.

What is “Masquerade” about lyrically and what was the inspiration? Can you describe how the lyrics and music complement each other?
Blue: The music created a certain mood, the mood evoked memories, and the memories inspired the lyrics. The song is about the irony of our existence, which, I often think, is nothing but a masquerade. We live the roles we created for ourselves, and we fight with all we have to live another day. Always rushing, always thinking we’ll be late for something. Then eventually we run out of days and then what? Would anything you lived, or didn’t live, matter?
The chorus describes the last days of my father’s life. The verses talk about my struggle to remain after he was gone. The bridge is a conclusion.
I intentionally wrote it as sort of a love story nested in imaginary realms. That, coupled with gothic metal, I thought would help people create their own version of “Masquerade”.
Jenna (piano, keyboards): “Masquerade” is a personal story of Blue’s, but we feel it’s a story that many can relate to. We will all experience great loss in our lives, and hopefully “Masquerade” will serve as a help during difficult times.

For what reason did you write such a personal song as your first single? Do you hope it will inspire listeners to look at themselves and make their own decisions
Blue: All our songs are personal. Every sound, every word. Even the stories that didn’t happen in the objective reality on some level do draw from experience and are still very personal. Ed didn’t know what I was going to do with the song when he first wrote it. And I wrote to it as I felt it. Why I felt like writing about my father, I can’t explain. I also didn’t think in terms of 1st single or 10th single. It just so happened that we decided it to be our first release. I certainly hope it will inspire the listeners in some way, whether to look beneath their own roles, or not to look at all… and of course, to decide for themselves.

How many streaming and social media sites is “Masquerade” posted to since its release? How aggressively has the band promoted it and how have reviewers received it?
Blue: The song was released on all major platforms (Spotify, Apple, iTunes, Deezer, Pandora, Amazon etc.). It’s posted on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, MeWe. We haven’t promoted too aggressively but the reviews we received were very rewarding. We were definitely pleased to read them.

Do you remember some of the favorable reviews that came from the single’s promotion? How much did they show how appreciated your efforts were?
Blue: All the reviews were favorable, but yours definitely stood out. I was genuinely touched. You didn’t just hear the music, you “saw” us. I hope that there will be others who would see beyond a genre.

Is “Masquerade” going to be included on a debut EP or full length or was it intended to be a stand-alone single?
Blue: We are not sure yet. We have two more singles coming, one now in July and another one in August. Several other songs are in the making. We may continue with the singles, but we may also go for a full length.

What can you tell the readers about your upcoming singles before their release? Are they going to be of the same personal nature as “Masquerade”?
Blue: Hmm, personal yes, but not as personal. One will take the listeners to a journey through a magical forest. What they make out of that journey will be up to them. The other one could make them ask similar questions as “Masquerade”. Musically all three songs are different. I am very curious to see what people will think about the new songs.

Are these upcoming singles going to be the songs composed around the same time as “Masquerade”? How many do Moonlight Lily have written? Briefly summarize the lyrical content of these songs?
Blue: One of the two upcoming singles was composed around the same time as “Masquerade”. The other one was completed at that time too, but it is actually a second incarnation of the song that Jenna and I had done before. It was completely redone/recomposed keeping only the main keyboard lines and the original lyrics. We have about five finished songs and probably twice that in progress. If I have to briefly summarize then the lyrics are mostly about love, passion, death and things occult and invisible.

Why did the band decide to write lyrics of a personal nature? Is it meant to be cathartic and/or a means of connecting with people who listen?
Blue: Many songs are cathartic, in a way. At least I think most of our songs are. But “Masquerade” especially. It tortures and provides relief, all at the same time. I guess there will be a lot of people who would probably be able to connect to it. I can only say that it wasn’t a conscious decision on our part.
Jenna: Many great songs have a personal story to them. Those songs tend to stick with people throughout life. The songs that take you back to that time and help find closure or a pleasant memory are songs many keep listening to them for a very long time. Which, as artists, is something we all want.

What about the occult and the invisible is the band interested by and how will your lyrics approach it?
Blue: I think it’s possible that we live in a super advanced VR game where quantum physics (and science in general) may soon prove that magic, and everything that goes with it, is real. This is why the lyrics always dance somewhere between the worlds.
Jenna: We as humans more than other animals question our place in and the world around us and beyond. Whether or not there is true magic or what we don't have the ability to understand yet it's good to explore.

How will love, passion and death fit with the occult subjects you write about? Are you also drawing from literature, or will it all come from your imagination?
Blue: They fit naturally. Everything is intertwined. What happens and what is felt in the objective reality, and everything seen and felt in our minds, all is a part of the same flow. It starts in the world of ideas and then it becomes solid. Some of it we understand, and some of it we still don’t, but both are equally real. I found a lot of interesting ideas in the work of Dion Fortune, Manly P. Hall, and other similar writers. But to answer your question, I draw from experience and imagination, from movies, literature and folklore. I am a huge fan of Anne Rice novels and vampire movies, fantasy and sci-fi movies too.

Which of Anne Rice’s novels helped fuel your imagination? Which fantasy and science fiction films?
Blue: Anne’s novels… all Vampire Chronicles. The Vampire Lestat is my favorite. I liked The Queen of the Damned, the Tale of the Body Thief, Vampire Armand. The Mayfair Witches were interesting. I liked the Violin too. Movies, there are so many. Any vampire movie or series you can think of I am sure I’ve seen it. I watched The Queen of the Damned like a hundred times (absolutely love the soundtracks!), Underworld, Blade, Only Lovers Left Alive, Let Me In, Dracula… Other fantasy/fiction: Devil’s Advocate, Constantin, Matrix, Avatar, Star Wars, The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings, Marvel Movies, Ghost in the Shell, The Fifth Element, The Last Witch Hunter, Crimson Peak… There are really too many to mention all.
Jenna: I'm a fan of cartoons and comedy as well as some sci-fi fantasy movies. I enjoyed Dragon Prince on Netflix recently on the fantasy spectrum. I enjoy a good novel now and then too. I read A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, and it was dark and hilarious! I need a good laugh as well as a good story, I guess.

Which of the works of Dion Fortune and Manly P. Hall should the readers look for?
Blue: I’d rather recommend them go to Spotify, or any other platform, and listen to our music instead. I guess if anyone is interested in the history of esoteric traditions, the “Secret Teachings of All Ages” by Manly P. Hall is a good book. It’s also his most famous, I believe. As far as Dion, it may be better to read a bit about Golden Dawn and the Theosophical Society and if that’s of any interest then check her books. She wrote fiction as well. I am by no means an expert on the subject. I just read what I am drawn to in a given moment. Right now, I am reading “Sorcery, The Invocation of Strangeness” by Thomas Sheridan, “Introduction to Magic, Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus” by Julius Evola and the UR Group and Jung’s “The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious”.

What have you gotten from the occult nature of Fortune and Hall’s books?
Blue: I am not sure I understand what you are asking. Almost everything in their books is occult. There is also philosophy, esotericism, metaphysics... I don’t claim to understand it all but what I do understand I have no way to summarize it in a few lines. I can say though that even creating music, or any form of art, is occult in nature. We connect to other levels of ourselves and other realities. You can even say that we connect to the source (and I don’t mean this in a religious way). By creating a work of art, one wills the spirit into a physical form, which is nothing but magic. You are a writer, right? Can you write if you don’t get into “the space”? I certainly can’t. It’s almost as if opening some kind of portal within oneself and connecting to or with something else. You may say that all artists are magicians. I hope I’m making sense.

Is there any information you can offer about your new singles? Or do you prefer to keep them a secret until they’re made available?
Blue: Actually, our second single “The House of Butterflies” is already out. We published it while we were doing this interview. In the old Slavic folklore, there is a story about female demonic kind of fairy which would call people out at night, put them in some kind of hypnotic state and lead them through the woods and to a precipice where they would meet their end. In our song these fairies are much nicer  They are inviting the listeners to step into a beautiful, magical forest. There is a house hidden deep in those woods, a house full of shimmering butterflies and blazing colors. If you dare to step in, you’ll find there is something still kicking inside your shell. What happens next is up to the listeners. Musically, the song is different from our first single, but I would like to leave it to you and to the listeners to tell us what you thought of it. The third single will be out on August 13th. We can talk about it then.
Jenna: Masquerade was a song that speaks to everyone with the lyrics (in my opinion). Butterflies is a song that is visual as well as being a song. You might find yourself reaching for those butterflies while listening. The next song will hopefully be a nice surprise for our fans!

Where is “The House of Butterflies” available for viewing? Is there just a streaming single or did the band also produce a promotional video?
Blue: Ed and I made several visualizers and lyric videos for, both “Masquerade” and “The House of Butterflies”. The videos for the third single are ready too. You can see them on our YouTube page. We will probably make an actual music video in the near future, but we haven’t decided when, yet.

How well known is this Slavic legend you based “Butterflies” on? How did you think up the idea of altering this legend for your single?
Blue: I am not sure, but I imagine in some parts of Europe it would be well known. The idea came to me, I didn’t rationalize it much. Ed is an absolute genius. His music has a certain atmosphere, almost mystical. I heard the instrumental and then saw pictures. I saw the story happening. I guess I just connected to what was before me. Talking about magic, eh? I think somehow Ed and I visited the same forest. Why the fairies from the legend were there too, I don’t know 

Why did you decide to leave “Butterflies” open-ended and allow the listener to conclude the story? Was this to build a connection with your listeners or just for the sake of mystery?
Blue: I had to leave it open-ended. The path to discovering one’s essence and true will is different for everyone. What I experience in “The House of Butterflies” will more than likely be different from what you or someone else would experience.

Would the band consider basing future songs on the movies and novels you mentioned above, or maybe writing more orchestral songs sort of like the soundtracks you mentioned?
Blue: I doubt that we would base our songs on those movies and novels as far as the storylines, but some of their characters could be an inspiration. I can tell you that we’ve just finished a song that has something to do with vampires, literally and metaphorically. As far as orchestral songs, I am not sure which ones you mean, but everything is possible. We want our music to come out organically so we will see.

-Dave Wolff

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Full Length Review: Ondfødt "Norden" (Immortal Frost Productions) by Reggae

Band: Ondfødt
Country: Finland
Genre: Black metal
Full Length: Norden
Format: Digital album, jewel case CD (limited to 1000 copies), standard black vinyl, opaque cyan blue vinyl, solid white / opaque cyan blue swirl with black splatter vinyl
Label: Immortal Frost Productions
Release date: July 30, 2021
From the stable of Immortal Frost Productions comes this hateful beast by Ondfødt. This is some grim black metal in the old-school vein. It’s a hammering affair with some relentless drumming. When these guys go into high gear they absolutely pummel. But even better, the guitars have a fair amount of variety to them with some melodic parts and of course the heavier alternate picking riffage with some tasty and memorable hooks thrown in. I have to say some of the melodic bits and guitar solos are rather tasty as well!
Musically this is rather good despite the 'grim' black metal production values on this release. I think the production whist being a little on the 'necro' side of things really adds to the recording, though I'd understand if some people found it a bit hard to listen to. It really showcases the buzzsaw sound of the guitars rather well, and suits the vocals too I have to say!
If you were a fan of early Mayhem or Dark Funeral this should interest you. Playing-wise this is much more varied than the above two reference points. Maybe if you threw Bathory albums into the mix you might have a fairer comparison of where these guys are at. I have to give these guys points for focusing on the songwriting rather than just trying to be extreme for the sake of it. Overall I have to say I really enjoyed this one! Keep it up, guys!
Make sure you give the guys a like on Facebook or buy / stream their stuff on Immortal Frost Productions. –Reggae

Owe Inborr: Drums, guitars, bass, vocals
Juuso Englund: Guitars

Track list:
1. Höstdröm
2. Höstfurstin
3. Han Bor I Skuggona
4. Gifti Från Tadjin
5. Fyri Do Dör
6. Mörkri
7. Ti Dödas Viso
8. Natten
9. Norden

Thursday, August 5, 2021

EP Review: Waking Dream (The Cannibal Fae Of) "Psych Ward Zombie EP" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Location: Manhattan, New York
Country: USA
Genre: Gothic, experimental
EP: Psych Ward Zombie EP
Format: Digital
Label: Independent
Release date: November 12, 2020
After interviewing Eurithia Tachinidae and Lyra Daydream of Waking Dream (The Cannibal Fae Of) last November, I felt compelled to listen to them. I’ve always been attracted to the beauty I saw in dark music, something others were unable or unwilling to see, and found worth in bands with the nerve and foresight to reveal said beauty, intentionally or not.
This Manhattan duo dives deeply into darker mental and psychological states untouched by many except for horror storytellers skirting the outer fringes of darker mental and psychological states, all the while knowing they were on the safe side of sanity. These darker states are almost impossible to fully understand unless you’ve “been there”. There is a method to their madness as you’ll realize if you take time to understand the broken places where people find themselves after traumatic experiences in their lives.
To leave rationality and normalcy behind and at least partly experience traumatized frenzy check out “Psych Ward Zombie EP” but be warned your perception of reality, of life and death, may not be exactly the same afterward. Rather than demanding attention, Waking Dream induces a subtle modicum of inquisitiveness as to the darkness and dementia they reveal. Once you enter they let you stay for some time, allowing this darkness and dementia to sink in through constant shifting of moods and musical influences.
Not knowing what influences to expect is an integral part of the journey, be it goth, electronic, or trance. This band doesn’t plan to evolve but evolve organically from what they previously composed.
Where beauty in darkness fits stems from fear of the unknown, what the band describes as unexplainable and scientifically unproven. Hidden truths of the universe are finally revealed in their entirety when our souls leave the physical world. The trauma we experience and that Waking Dream incorporates into this EP is connected to the fear of death, the moment our last vestige of mortality hangs to mortal existence. But once we’re past that, according to Eurithia and Lyra, death is not something to be feared.
“Psych Ward Zombie EP” is the latest step in this journey toward understanding the universe. Jim Morrison and the Doors sought to break on through; from their early recordings to this one Waking Dream carry the torch for them and are well on their way to doing so. –Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Psych Ward Zombie
2. Catharsis

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Full Length Review: The Grasshopper Lies Heavy "A Cult That Worships A God Of Death" (Learning Curve Records) by Corban Skipwith

Band: The Grasshopper Lies Heavy
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Country: USA
Genre: Post-hardcore
Full Length: A Cult That Worships A God Of Death
Format: Digital, vinyl
Label: Learning Curve Records (USA)
Release date: July 15, 2021
Gun to my head.
If you had me forced to answer what I found the most underrated or should I say most overlooked form of music is, I’d say ‘noise’.
For a lot of people, noise isn’t even a genre that they are aware of. It’s found in the deepest part of our favourite genres and sub genres, used by only the most specific or most creative of artists.
In this case, we take a look at another shining star in the world of ‘Bandcamp’ and take a look into the mind of a group of individuals who aren’t satisfied with the norm and a decision that I am more than happy to hear.
-A Cult That Worships A God Of Death by The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.
So, this is a new album by a new band, something I’m quite fond of finding these days and among these 8 tracks you can find variety unlike many other albums I’ve come across.
To me this isn’t just a band being diverse for the hell of it, within the limitless sounds and layers waved you have the very real feeling of almost on an ‘ominous’ presence track for track.
Within my listens I discovered elements of
-Post Rock
-Sludge Metal
-Groove Metal
-Power Violence
-Alternative Metal
-Ambient and more
I will be honest, after the manic episode that was the intro track I was hoping for a more ‘out there’ sound and experience.
This isn’t too say I don’t love what they did but I guess after such a opener I was excited to see if they could push the boundaries even further sonically and aesthetically.
Although not initially what I expected the production and the platter variety presented to the listener is nothing short of amazing! You have all the above mentioned influences coming together to form this mesh of sorts which all tie together in perfect harmony using what can only be described as ‘magical syncing’.
I say this because normally an album that dives so strongly into a typhoon of different sounds will usually be at the artists’ downfall as it takes way too much effort (normally) to sync everything together but somehow and someway this band does the mission impossible of the metal scene!
All in all, I’m being more vague then normal here because I want you all to give this a listen and experience the wonders for yourself. I could describe everything just fine but I feel even my words couldn’t do this project justice, listen and feel the aura! –Corban Skipwith

James Woodard: Guitars, vocals, synth
Mario Trejo: Bass
Steven Barrera: Drums

Track list:
1. Untitled
2. The Act Of Buying Groceries
3. Charging Bull
4. Tennessee
5. The Pastor's Pockets
6. A Cult That Worships A God Of Death, Parts I-IV
7. Bullet Curtain
8. サウンドチェック

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Full Length Review: Dungeon Serpent "World of Sorrows" (Nameless Grave Records) by Reggae

Band: Dungeon Serpent
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Country: Canada
Genre: Melodic death metal
Full Length: World of Sorrows
Format: Digital album, limited edition CDs
Label: Nameless Grave Records (USA)
Release date: July 16, 2021
This is some seriously underground metal. From the outset, it’s pretty much flat-out black / thrash / war / grind metal. But don't let that fool you. After the initial onslaught, some more varied influences start to appear. It's a little more difficult to pigeonhole these guys as it sits somewhere between Blasphemy, Terrorizer (old) and maybe old Incantation, Sarcofago, Bolt Thrower and a couple of Aussie bands like Abominator and Bestial Warlust... you get the idea.
The recording is grim and underproduced, but on closer listen these guys are really quite skilled. Dungeon Serpent combines a few genres of extreme metal into one unholy package. I don't tend to review individual songs but after the initial barrage of noise / extremity on the first track some really tasty black metal riffs kick in.... with some Slayer-esque solos. This isn't just stock standard war metal either, the lads have railed in influences from different genres of metal to create something at really stands apart from its peers. As it goes on some rather tuneful solos appear but the heavy as f--k riffage is a constant. These guys are brutal!
Guttural vocals and absolutely hammering drums. Some wicked double kicks that pepper the whole release from start to finish. The alternate picking present on this album is nothing short of brutal. If you like this stuff then I can only implore you to give this a fair listen. To the lads, I hope you guys get a lot of plays and a lot of sales on this, this is a short but sweet release, and one of the more extreme releases I've heard in a while. I know this is supposed to be grim disturbing black metal, but I have to say it really brightened my Sunday! Basically, I’m kicking back with a beer and reveling in the extremity and classic brutal riffage this release has brought. It actually makes me happy there are still people making music like this. -Reggae

Arawn: Guitars, vocals, bass, compositions

Track list:
1. Necroscope
2. Decay
3. Immortal Incubation
4. Cosmic Sorcery
5. World of Sorrows (Instrumental)