Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Marduk "Viktoria" Album Review

Sweden’s Marduk is back with their follow up to 2015's Frontschwein. Known for their military focused lyrics and unrelenting musicianship, Marduk has brought forth Viktoria to the world. The band consists of original guitarist Morgan “Evil” Hakansson, longtime guitarist “Devo” Andersson, and vocalist “Mortuus” Rosten. Drummer Fredrik Widigs who played on Frontschwein returns to the band's ranks for yet another story of tanks, death, and World War 2. Across nine tracks, Marduk shows off why they’re one of the most renowned black metal bands today.

Viktoria kicks off with the lead single, “Werwolf.” Sirens ablaze and a ripping black metal riff and double bass from Widigs. The opening track sounds like something more along the lines with earlier Marduk than anything they've released in the past 10 years. The main riff doesn't let up and neither does the double bass. The song is simple but powerful, showing off the power that Marduk have. Probably the most interesting part is the chorus part which features almost haunting choir-like vocals chanting the word “werewolf." You can hear right off the bat, without a doubt, this is a return to form for Marduk.

The next few songs, “June 44” and the second single from the album, “Equestrian Bloodlust” are very similar. “Equestrian Bloodlust” is another short few minute song that refuses to let up on the speed once it gets going. “June 44” on the other hand does have a bit more melody during its chorus. “Tiger I” stands out as a much more melodic track than you normally hear from Marduk. Lyrically the song focuses around the terror of the Panzer VI Tiger I German tank---nothing surprising to anyone familiar with Marduk. The melody though is almost haunting, telling to terror this tank brought in World War II. The pacing, while much slower than anything else on the album, is perfect for headbanging and chanting along. Many of the verses end with a commanding yell instead of Mortuus’ regular vocals, sounding like a German general instead of a black metal vocalist.

The last stand out track is the title track, which actually just had a music video released for it. The eponymous song mixes a lot of the elements from earlier songs. The main riffs are vicious but add a little bit more melodic flair to them instead of staying plainly consistent. The chorus and bridge on the other hand, slow down a lot more to a pace much closer to that of “Tiger I”. The fast-slow-fast sort of formula that Marduk use in “Vickoria” works incredibly well to make the song unpredictable and created incredible contrast in the instrumentals.

Marduk returns to form, Viktoria is what the fans have been asking for. More military/World War-based black metal from a band renowned for it. Viktoria is much more in line with that of Panzer Division Marduk than the past few albums they've released. A true black metal monster. While short, spanning a total of 33 minutes, this is an unrelenting slab of music. Marduk show even after 28 years, they’re still on top.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Review/Unboxing: The Metalhead Box - June

This months The Metalhead Box featured a bit more wear than just a shirt. We are heading into the summer months and especially here in Ontario, that means HOT, HOT, HOT! Needless to say, it was nice to see a trucker cap right on top of the box. Playing off the Death logo, the hat simply says "METAL". Get it, Death Metal? Anyways, its a nice hat and perfect for keeping this crazy hot sun off your face. To go along with it, this month's box featured a shirt from the Technical Death Metal band Whore of Bethlehem which features some killer art of a demon holding a sword on essentially a throne of skulls. Killer art and killer shirt.


It's not very common I get handed an album and have never heard of the band at this point. Years of writing down the line, you tend to discover a lot of underground bands. That being said, this month I was handed three new CDs from three different bands I had never heard of. From left-to-right we have; Mortuorial Eclipse Urushdaur, which is this Symphonic Black Metal bands brand new 2018 release, something I'm very excited to dive into. Next is Infernal Legion Your Prayers Mean Nothing, this month I went for a bit more of a Death Metal theme, I've been slacking in new Death Metal so this 2005 release is exciting to me. Lastly is another Death Metal release, this time it's Bloodsoaked and their last EP Religious Apocalypse which dropped in 2014. Stoked for a good mix of some new music, all these albums look like they'll be good listens.


To go along with the hat and keeping cool outdoors, the box also came with a Pestilence Koozie featuring the artwork from Consuming Impulse. Gotta keep that beer, or other canned item you are enjoying, at the right temperature, right? The other "extra" is a nice signature as The Metalhead Box  is known for. This month's feature is John McEntee, guitarist for the legendary Death Metal band Incantation which is definitely a cool signature for any Metla fans collection.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Review/Unboxing: The Metalhead Box - May

Welcome to a little bit different of a review or unboxing. I'm not sure what we should call this one, but regardless today we are checking out the May edition of The Metalhead Box, a box dedicated to bringing some cool and exclusive items to Metal fans monthly, so let's jump in and see what we can find.


Right on top as we open the box is a shirt with a logo I was unfamiliar with. The art, as well as the logo, clearly Black Metal had me very interested. Upon a little bit of research, we found the band is Vargrav, a Finnish Black Metal band who are beyond excellent. I'm definitely a big fan of the shirt, the art is excellent and the back print, “As Night Swallows The Night” with a pentagram is something I'm sad my longhair will cover.


Right underneath the shirt was a few CDs. First, right on top, was Mayhem’s 2009 Season of Mist release “Ordo ad Chao”. While I'm a fan of Mayhem and this is an album a lot of people talk about, I had yet to hear it so this was a really cool album to have in my collection. Next up was Drudkh’sAutumn Aurora” which is a band I had been meaning to listen to for quite a while. The album cover is spectacular and upon a few listens, I have to say I'm a fan, very glad to have received this album. Third, was an album from a band called Reign of Vengeance which was a DOA Magazine release. I was unfamiliar with this band prior to receiving this box, always happy to check out new stuff though so this is an album that will definitely get a few spins over the next few days. Last, was a sampler from the label Relapse Records, known for having some high profile bands on their roster. Obituary, Iron Reagan, Exhumed and Gruesome just to name a few of the bands on the album, definitely a good way to find some great new bands you may not know.


The second coolest part of this box and a The Metalhead Box exclusive item is a transparent red cassette copy of “Eonian”, the new album from Nuclear Blast Records alumni Dimmu Borgir. The album came out with very split reception, but love it or hate it, this is a very cool item to own!


Right under the CDs and cassette is a copy of DOA Magazine, a Death Metal magazine I'm unfamiliar with. Taking a quick flip through, there's a lot to offer in here including a ton of album reviews and interviews. This will definitely be a good read for anyone into getting other opinions on albums before (or even after) buying them.


So now it's time for the coolest part of this box, hidden under everything else and nestled in right under the magazine is a nice The Metalhead Box exclusive picture of Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing, complete with signature. Regardless of whether you're a fan primarily of Black Metal, Death Metal, Thrash Metal, Metalcore, Doom Metal, whatever you can decide, everyone knows Judas Priest. Any Metal fan can appreciate how cool of an item this is to receive and it's definitely a good way to close out the box.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Interview with Lucifer

Hey there, how are you today?
-Thank you, great! Sitting here in the Swedish countryside, enjoying the view!

Congratulations on the signing to Century Media Records, I can't express how excited I am to hear “Lucifer II”. How will this album differ from the first release?
-Thank you, yes we are thrilled to work with Century Media now. Great label, very sweet people! By some magic the second album turned out how Lucifer was originally intended musically when I first formed the band’s concept in my head, a way deeper dig through the record crates of the 70s. Less Hocus Pocus, more Hard Rock. Lucifer II is more diverse and opens some new doors. It is more catchy, I think!

Bigger label, bigger tours maybe, what's your guys plans with the first bit of new music and leading up to the release of the album?
-After releasing our first video for “California Son” a few days ago, we are now working on the next video to be released very soon. We just played our first few shows in the new line-up in Sweden, Denmark and Germany and it was awesome! We’re now looking forward to all the upcoming festival gigs this summer, especially Hellfest, Rockpalast and Psycho Las Vegas.

A few years ago you came to North America supporting High on Fire and Pallbearer, are you guys looking at coming back finally?
-Yes, aside from playing an exclusive show this year at Psycho Las Vegas, we are currently looking into touring the US again in 2019. Having spent three years of my life in California, I consider the US a second home and really can’t wait to take Lucifer back on the road there.

Why “Lucifer II”? Is there going to be on overlying concept connecting the first album with this one?
-I planned to number the albums before Lucifer I came out already. Lucifer II is simultaneously
also symbolic for a second incarnation of the band, I suppose.

Last but not least, is there anything you'd like to share with your fans who have been waiting ever so patiently for this announcement?
-I know the gap between these two albums was quite long and I hope the wait was worthwhile! I do think so! We are already talking about the third album and have a good chunk of material laying around. Expect Lucifer III to hopefully see the light of day way sooner this time, very likely around September 2019.

Thank you very much for you time, I'm excited to hear “Lucifer II” on July 6th.
-Thank you, the pleasure was mine! Hope you dig it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Interview with Ken Kängström and Linda Toni Grahn of Follow the Cipher

Hey there, how are you today?

Linda - Hey!! I´m fine, thanks and hope you too!

Ken - Hello! I´m awesome over here, and hope you are great too!

You guys in Follow the Cipher are about to drop your debut self titled album, are you excited to get it out?

Linda - Yes, we are very excited to finally release our album. To finally show you all what we have been working on since 2014 :)

The album will be coming out through Nuclear Blast Records nonetheless, how does it feel to be releasing the album through what is the quintessential Metal label?

Linda - It feels so overwhelming. We all are truly happy and so thankful for this opportunity. Nuclear Blast are like a hard working label with a family feeling.

Tell us a bit about the album, what is your guys music about? What drives you to create music?

Linda - The theme of the album is Post-apocalyptic. You can maybe feel revenge, power, action, sadness, hope and faith. It´s up to everyone to interpret it how they want.

Ken - As Linda says, it is has a theme regarding a future of destruction. It has some undertones of seriousness reflecting on how mankind treats our planet and all the conflicts around the world. There is nothing better than sitting back and enjoying a song that you just wrote and is are happy with. That feeling drives me for the next experience like that.

This may be Follow the Cipher's debut album, but you guys clearly have experience in what you're doing. Can you tell us a bit about your time and close friendship with Sabaton?

Ken - Well I guess Jonas and I has the history with these guys. Jonas has been an very close friend with Par for a very long time, also helping our Sabaton with various things on tour and at home. I met Joakim many years ago and moved in with him for a short while. We had a lot in common regarding what we considered to be good music and good composing even though we focused on different kinds of genres. Later on I became a sound engineer for Sabaton, and after ending that, I was invited by Joakim to compose music with him for Sabaton.

Who influences you to do what you do? When did you realize you wanted to start making music?

Linda - For me it has been growing through the years. The first person that made me wanted to do something with music was actually my cousin. He worked as a musician and I felt that it seemed to be very interesting, and when I met him once when I was 15 I thought that I wanted to be an artist after that meeting, but I was way to shy to sing so I wanted to be a dancer and went for dance classes in High school. But when I was 21 I started to play guitar and write music in a band and after a while I couldn't resist to start to sing.

So what's next? Will we be seeing Follow the Cipher touring worldwide?

Linda - Next up is two shows in June. The 2nd of June in Czech Republic at Metalfest and the other show is in Belgium at Graspop on June the 21st. We have got some proposals for touring but we don´t want to jump on the first tour we got if it´s not the right tour for us. We want to wait to the right tour comes along. And for sure we want to go for a tour worldwide. We want to play, see the world and meet up with all our fantastic supporting people out there.

Who would you like to hit the road with? Any bands you hope to support or have support you?

Linda - Oh what a good question, but it´s a tough one to answer. Hmm....I would say that it would be great to tour with bands that maybe have the same kind of genre. But I like to think that you can do what ever you want so we will see in the future. We are hoping for a tour in this autumn.

What was the writing and recording process like? Was there a lot of stress in the studio? You hear a lot about bands fighting and getting sick of each other when trying to get the recording done

Ken - We never had any fights, but it a hell of a ride doing this album. We pretty much had to record it twice, due to putting a lot of time to the pre-production of our first drafts, and it also did not help that we live far apart from each other in the band, so the process was both tedious and stressful at times. But we were determined to hang on and focus on an album that we could be really proud of.

Last but not least, do you have anything you'd like to share with your fans, old and definitely now new?

Linda - I will say THANK YOU so much for your support! Hope to meet you all!

Thank you very much for your time, I hope to see you on the road soon! Be sure to pick up Follow the Cipher's debut album "Follow the Cipher" on May 11th through Nuclear Blast Records

Linda - Thank you so much for this interview and thank you for showing the interest in the band :)

Ken- Thank you very much for the interview. We are honored to be invited. =)

pick up the album through the Nuclear Blast Webstore

check out the singles on YouTube
Valkyria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1e4nRzHoaE
Carolus Rex: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-3nE5L8vag
The Rising: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJqc7NR1mTM

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Cruelty Exalted "Cruelty Exalted" Review

          “Cruelty Exalted”, the new EP from the band of the same name, is a fantasy themed Technical Death Metal band who, while they stick true to this style, implements some of the best traits other subgenres have to offer, like the harmony Melodic Death Metal has or the speed and intensity of Black Metal. Featuring Alec Cordero on guitars, Todd Farnham on Bass and Yuri Kondra on vocals.

          Instantly, with the first track “Dethroning the Righteous” it becomes obvious the skill this band has as musicians, until about the midway mark, the song is pretty tame really only featuring a very melodic sort of sound, once the song speeds up and jumps into the faster bit though, it's not hard to hear the Technical part of this band. In the last minute, we get to hear everything in overdrive, speeding up even further and surprisingly in this part instead of trying to break into “the craziest solo you'll ever hear” it actually puts a lot more focus on the bass playing to push it along.

          “Callum Incendebat” pulls a lot more influence from Black Metal, taking a much more Melodic and harmony inspired approach to the entire song. Imagine the intensity of Darkthrone infused with the melody of Carcass or early In Flames. The song also taps James Benson (Amiensus) to help push along that Black Metal feel.

          All-in-all, this is a very solid first release from Cruelty Exalted, full of charm and intensity. With the amount of different styles prevalent throughout this EP, it's hard to not find something you could get behind. The only thing I think that can push this band along is a full time drummer, although it is hard to tell that the drums are programmed, some of the sections do seem a little inhuman.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Quantum Hierarchy "Neutron Breed" Review

          If you're into space and Death Metal than let me welcome you to Quantum Hierarchy. This is a Technical Death Metal band with the speed and destruction of a meteor and lyrics to match. Right off the get go, you'll hop into a short intro track and right into the title track, "Neutron Breed", luckily the lyrics are relatively easy to follow, describing the vast emptiness of space. The first track is blisteringly fast, full of hooks and intense musicianship, but does fall short in one section. While the lyrics are easy to follow, the vocals are mixed in slightly too low, as such the rest of the instrumentals are generally overpowering the vocals making them hard to make out without reading the lyrics.

          While I may have a mild gripe with Quantum Hierarchy's low vocal mix, there is a spot where they excel past the vast majority of bands and that's transitioning from song to song. Where a lot of bands want to be as heavy and intense as possible that's generally lost between the end of one song and start of another, while Quantum Hierarchy manage to maintain their intensity throughout all of "Neutron Breed" with perfectly implemented transitions. The EP, while only 3 actual songs (not including the minute intro) and 12 minutes actually sounds like one full song with the way each song transitions into the next, you won't even realise you've listened to the whole thing until it's done.

          Quantum Hierarchy's "Neutron Breed" is an exceptional level of Technical Death Metal, the instrumentals are intense, the guitar solos are, while few, technical and awe inspiring and the lyrics are distance but relative. If you're a fan of bands like Artificial Brain and Beyond Creation and need some SciFi based Death Metal, look no further.