Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ensiferum – One Man Army

Despite their fantastic legacy, Ensiferum is a band I’ve only recently begun to explore. I picked up “From Afar” about a month ago and was hooked. For that reason, checking out their newest album, “One Man Army”, was a no-brainer. It seems that the reception to the band’s previous album wasn’t as positive as it was to the first four records, so “One Man Army” marks an important point in the band’s career. While I can’t say I’m familiar with “Unsung Heroes” (and therefore can’t compare this record to it), “One Man Army” is definitely a worthy purchase. It is largely a tale of two albums; the first half of the record is your standard Ensiferum affair, while the second half is much more adventurous (in both good and bad ways).

Other than the short intro, the album kicks off with a 3-song run that is definitely the highlight. Both “Axe of Judgement” and “One Man Army” are blazing fast, thrashy tracks that deliver a mountain of riffs. They do of course slow down at times, but never in a way that gets boring. Though these would be the only two songs of their kind on the album, they get the energy flowing and the blood pumping for the rest of the ride. In between these two tracks is “Heathen Horde”. Not unlike “Twilight Tavern” from many years ago, this track is the ultimate crowd sing-along. Though it is more of a mid-paced stomping track, it is still incredibly effective.

When the album reaches “Cry For The Earth Bounds”, things take a slight turn. In general, this song is your standard Ensiferum fanfare: epic folky melodic death metal. Part way through however, there is a short interlude featuring female vocals; it’s not a terrible concept, but the execution is a bit weak here. Nevertheless, it is so brief that it isn’t too painful. Where this album gets really crazy is “Two of Spades”. If the name doesn’t give it away, this song is Ensiferum’s tribute to Motorhead/speed metal in general. It is a combination of the band’s own sound with a punkier, speedier flare to it. Or at least, that’s what you think for most of the track, until there is another interlude. This one is all over the place; it has some jazzy moments, as well as some whistling and some chants of "hey!". While I actually loved the band’s take on Motorhead, the interlude could be done without. It isn’t awful, but it interrupts the flow of the track. With that said, the fact that they pack that much material into just 3 and a half minutes is astounding. This is the type of song that is a love-or-hate track, but it has me convinced.

The next two tracks are more of a return to Ensiferum’s more typical sound. The latter of the two, “Descendants, Defiance, Domination” is a lengthy epic, but if you are familiar with some other Ensiferum epics (ex: “Heathen Throne”), this will be satisfying. But just when the band had lulled you back to their more enjoyable sound, they do something a bit wonky with the last track. “Neito Pohjolan” isn’t metal. Nor is there anything wrong with that; but this relatively tame, clean-vocal song just sounds out of place. I suppose for a folk band, it isn’t that much of a stretch, but it sounds too strange to really work on this record.

On the whole, “One Man Army” is a diverse effort. Unfortunately, with the exception of most of “Two of Spades”, any attempts are experimentation largely fail. There is still more than enough of Ensiferum’s trademark sound to enjoy here, and for that reason, this album is worth buying. But the only reason “One Man Army” falls short of my love of “From Afar” is because it tries to be too ambitious.

Be sure to check out and like Ensiferum on Facebook!

"Heathen Horde"
"One Man Army"
"Two of Spades"

Final Rating
4.0/5 or 80%. 

Written by Scott

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Unspeakable Axe Records Interview

This interview is with Eric Musall, the owner of Unspeakable Axe Records. The label was started in early 2013 and has quickly become one of the most consistent and best labels in metal. Their albums have always been received favourably by SFM (Besieged, Sabbatory, Overcharge, Omnivore, etc.), so I wanted to talk to the man behind the label to get some insight about how things are run.

Skull Fracturing Metal (SFM): Hi Eric. I wanted to start by asking you about how Unspeakable Axe got started. I know you’ve mentioned that you wanted to release great titles by obscure artists, but what convinced you to go through with it and start up a label? Was there anything in the process of starting a label that was more difficult than you first expected?

Unspeakable Axe Records (UAR): The main inspiration for me to start the label was just realizing a daydream of mine as a metal fan.  Besieged's album (which ended up being our second release) was long in the making, and when it finally arrived they were unsigned - so they self-released it as a pro-pressed CD-R.  It was barely available anywhere - I ended up ordering it from a shop in Winnipeg.  A few years later I was doing work for other labels (more on that below) so I was getting pretty familiar with the basic process and expenses of doing a release, and I had some money saved up from my day job.  I decided out of the blue one day that this album ("Victims Beyond All Help") was worth plucking from obscurity, and if no one else was going to do it, I ought to.  So I emailed the guys from the band about it and the same day started to think about a name and logo for the label, etc.

SFM: Unspeakable Axe Records is billed as a sub-label of Dark Descent, but I believe you only first visited Dark Descent's headquarters last year. How did you first get hooked up with Dark Descent and get associated with them as a sub-label?

UAR: By wandering down weird paths.  This is less known now, but originally Dark Descent was co-founded by two guys: Matt Calvert, who still runs it, and another guy named Cory who was in the band Cosmic Atrophy.  He made cool death metal, somewhat Demilich-inspired.  The idea was that the 2nd Cosmic Atrophy album would be the first Dark Descent release, since Cory was having trouble finding the label support that his music deserved.  A little before that, I was dabbling in art for bands, this kind of rough ink drawing style, and Cory found me through a thread I posted on the Metal Archives.  I ended up doing a lot of art for the Cosmic Atrophy album - a series of sketches for inside the booklet, and later a mixed media piece that was going to be the cover.  Lots of Lovecraftian stuff.  When the label started, I ended up talking to Matt too, and doing a little design work.  I drew something for the booklet of one of their earliest releases (Burial Invocation) and designed an ad or something.  But the idea from the start was that Cory would be doing most of that stuff while Matt handled the business end.

Well ultimately, and unfortunately, Cory evaporated into thin air.  I got the impression that he just lost his enthusiasm for metal.  The Cosmic Atrophy album never was finished, and Matt took over running the label solo.  He needed a graphics guy to design ads and postcards, and do layouts for CDs, vinyl and shirts.  And I was the guy standing there, I guess.  I knew Photoshop pretty well and so just started doing most of the work he needed done.  A few years later when I wanted to do this label of my own, it was natural to work with him.  I didn't want to compete with his distro (there are more than enough distros in the US as it is) and thought we could support each other.

SFM: Your label made quite a name for itself with its first two releases (Birth A.D. and Besieged). How did you find out about these two bands? 

UAR: Besieged I had been following for a long time.  Someone recommended their 2-song original demo "Visions of Pain" (again this was on Metal Archives, I used to hang out there a ton).  I checked them out on MySpace - look it up, kids! - and loved it.  That kind of hyper-aggressive death/thrash is my main love.  As for Birth AD, Matt knew Jeff Tandy somehow, because he knows everybody, and Jeff needed someone to release or distribute "I Blame You."  Style-wise it was an awkward fit for Dark Descent, but when Matt heard I wanted to start a somewhat thrash-oriented label, he suggested I talk to Jeff and do the release.  Happy I did - it ended up being our first out of the gate and was just great.

SFM: One thing I really appreciate about UAR is that although many of the releases are in similar subgenres (thrash, death, etc.), no two releases of yours really sound alike. For example, Birth A.D., Besieged, and Overcharge, among others, all play thrash in completely different styles. Is this an important factor when signing new bands?

UAR: Not really.  I think it just happens naturally from the way I pick bands to listen to and sign.  For one thing my personal tastes are diverse, so even though everything with the label starts from a foundation of thrash and related styles, I like all kinds of things that at least in my mind are tangential to that.  I think the lines between Metallica, Possessed, Death and Repulsion are kind of blurry, and I like all of the stuff that exists in that big, messy area of music.  And I also like song-oriented and riff-oriented bands, and bands with a strong identity.  I'd gravitate more toward signing a really kickass grind band that can write a memorable tune rather than signing a third-rate thrash band that sounds like Besieged but worse.  

SFM: I imagine that you get a lot of emails from bands looking to join your label. Do you have any advice for these bands in terms of how to get a label’s attention?

UAR: Yeah, there's a pretty steady flow.  I'd just say, try to put together a real press kit or at least an email that looks like it's worth the time to read.  Include your logo, a band pic if you've had some taken, all the appropriate links to your social media presence, and obviously a way for me to listen to you.  I get some emails with no real info, sometimes just one mp3 or worse a live recording or some weird demo where the vocals haven't been added yet.  And I just want to tell them - this is not the way to get someone's attention when there are so many bands out there vying for label interest from anyone and everyone.  Just try harder; be professional about it.  And also, try to make sure you're talking to the right label.  I might have diverse tastes but I'm not really going to give more than a passing glance at a modern ultra-brutal, triggered-out-the-ass slam band.  It is so far from our aesthetic that I wouldn't even be doing them a favor by signing them.

SFM: Are there any albums you put out on your label that you think the metal world just didn’t pick up on? In other words, were you surprised by the reaction to any of your releases? If so, why do you think the album got the reaction it did?

UAR: It's hard to tell, it all seems a little random to me.  I just release what I like and what I think people should hear.  But I think sometimes people's tastes can be very unadventurous.  You can sell a lot of copies of a pretty generic band that's playing the style of the moment, as long as it's marketed properly, and then have comparatively few pay attention to something better in a style that's just not getting much attention right now.  Who knows?  Zoldier Noiz was a little bit of a hard sell; those guys put like 5 different genres in a blender.  I think the final product is impressive and very cohesive, but it's hard to explain to people what it is and it's just not for everyone.  Overcharge was one I thought would do a little better than it has so far; that album is so catchy.  But running a label means you're in it for the long haul.  Hopefully people will discover some of these less-noticed albums in the years to come.  Never can tell when the right post on the right forum is going to inspire a rediscovery of some lost gem.

SFM: A major difficulty of running a record label is dealing with the continually increasing postage rates or fluctuating exchange rates that can make selling to certain countries more difficult. How do you deal with these external factors that can hurt business? Is it possible to truly mitigate these issues?

UAR: Exchange rates haven't been a factor for me at all so far.  Postage prices much more so.  Nothing you can do except try to find workarounds.  My shipping processes have improved a lot - I keep a lot of different box sizes around to get the right fit for whatever someone orders.  I have poly bags to ship shirts in, since the bags weigh next to nothing and keeping the weight down reduces the price.  And I added an option to our shop some time ago where you can check a box to order a CD with the jewel case removed.  That reduces weight from 4 ounces to 2, which is a difference of a few dollars shipping to most foreign countries.  Just gotta do whatever I can.  People who still buy physical media are already a dying breed, and they're MY people; I want to take care of them.

SFM: Of all of your upcoming releases, the one that I haven’t heard too much information about is Black Tower’s “The Secret Fire”. What can you tell us about this release, and is there an approximate release date?

UAR: It's probably going to be late spring or early summer on that one - we're waiting on the art right now, which is being done by Danille Gauvin (Corpsessed, Adversarial, lots of other bands - Danille's the best).  I hope it takes people by surprise - though see comment above about how random this shit can be!  Personally I love the album.  It was a demo submission and my ears perked up about 30 seconds in.  Kinda NWOBHMish, very melodic, with some influences from punk and black metal, and these Tolkien lyrics that appeal to the nerd in me.  The vocal style is unusual, nasally and punkish - reminds me a little bit of Witchfinder General or something.  The band members were all in punk groups out of Ottawa prior to this, but they're metal listeners too and wanted to try their hand at this.  I think they did a great job.  And being a big punk fan myself, something in the DNA of this group hits a sweet spot for me.

SFM: Now for the tough question: what is your favourite UAR release? 

UAR: What are the chances I'm going to answer this one?  I like them all, man.  It's a large commitment in terms of both money and energy to put out a CD or a record.  I won't do it unless it's something I'd really LOVE to have in my personal collection.  I will admit this: I'll always have a special place in my heart for the Besieged album because it inspired me to do this in the first place, and because Nolan (guitarist and vocalist) is a sick individual.  I've watched live videos of them and I don't even understand what he's doing.  Their new EP (should be out next month) is just demented.  But all the things we've released so far are meaningful to me; none of it is just product.  A few labels seem to just pump out interchangeable albums and I have no interest in doing that at all.

SFM: Any last words for the fans out there?

UAR: I have fans?  (SFM Note: Absolutely!)

Be sure to check out and like Unspeakable Axe Records on Facebook!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thulcandra – Ascension Lost

Thulcandra is a melodic black metal band featuring Obscura’s frontman on both guitar and vocals. One glance at their artwork reveals that they’re big fans of Dissection, and even a single listen to their third album, “Ascension Lost”, would also give away that fact as well. This means that Thulcandra’s style of music is rooted primarily in the mid-1990s Swedish black metal scene where bands like Sacramentum, Vinterland, and Unanimated (alongside Dissection) were kings. On “Ascension Lost”, the riffs are freezing cold, the production is hollow sounding, and the vocals are a wave of sickening screams that even throw in the occasional “blech!” sound. Perhaps the two most common black metal elements – tremolo picking and blast beats – are present here. While the former is in high supply, the latter is more methodically placed. In fact, much like the aforementioned Sacramentum, Thulcandra’s drumming is spectacular because it is incredibly varied. There is everything from the Immortal-esque ride cymbal abuse, to lots of punk/thrash beats, to more spacey drumming with plenty of fills (to support the melodies of the guitar; see about 2 and a half minutes into “Deliverance in Sin and Death”), to ultimately punishing blast beats.

Perhaps what stands out most on “Ascension Lost” is the guitar playing. The riffs you expect to hear are on this album: dissonant chords and melodies that are played at absurd tempos. But what separates Thulcandra from the rest of the crowd is that the guitar playing has so much more to offer. Both of the first two tracks, “The First Rebellion” and “Throne of Will”, do an excellent job of showcasing the band’s willingness to incorporate more standard heavy metal melodies. In other words, there are impressive guitar solos and melodic leads whose foundation is melody, rather than dissonance. This is something that black metal as a whole tends to lack relative to other subgenres of metal (possibly in an attempt to be more “alien” to the rest of metal), but this guitar playing greatly improves “Ascension Lost”. Even the riffs occasionally fall under more traditional metal realms. In another nod to Immortal, Thulcandra incorporates some of those thrashier black metal riffs that were prominent on “At The Heart of Winter”. This is particularly noticeable later in the album on a song like “The Second Fall”. The band also makes use of acoustic moments, but never really overdoes it, giving you just enough time to recover before the next blast of chilling riffs.

As if Thulcandra had not done everything else to near perfection at this point, mainman Steffen Kummerer delivers one of the best black metal vocal performances in many years. He doesn’t do anything too different from his vocal approach with Obscura; it’s just that this higher-pitched rasp has always been better suited to black metal. As a result, you can feel an incredible amount of intensity in his voice, particularly when the rest of the music is going at full speed. This is the truly the best thing about black metal. With all of the madness and absurdity that occurs in this music, it is the sheer raw emotion that breaks through and makes an impact. And ultimately, this is why Thulcandra’sAscension Lost” is so brilliant: it was made by musicians who have an immense understanding and feeling for this style of music. They know what works and what doesn’t, and have put together and album reflecting everything great about the style of metal they play.

Be sure to check out and like Thulcandra on Facebook!

"The First Rebellion"
"Throne of Will"
"Deliverance in Sin and Death"
"The Second Fall"

Final Rating
4.5/5 or 90%. 

Written by Scott

Friday, January 23, 2015

Angelus Apatrida – Hidden Evolution

Quite a few years ago, I stumbled across a great band from Spain called Angelus Apatrida. They had a couple of albums out at the time, and I checked out their first one, “Evil Unleashed”. It was somewhat of an interesting release because it was more similar to a Pantera-esque groove-thrash (“Cowboys From Hell”-era) than it was straight ahead thrash. Over the years, I’m sort of lost track of the band, largely in part because their albums are not easy to find in North America. That all changes with “Hidden Evolution”, their fifth record.

At some point since the band’s first album, they’ve refocused their emphasis to be more on the thrash side of things. Make no mistake, this album has little, if any, ties to Pantera’s music. This is evident on “Immortal”, which hits you with a drum fill and a thrashing monstrosity of a riff right out of the gate. Perhaps more importantly, this song shows why I always enjoyed Angelus Apatrida’s first album: they keep the focus on the songs. There are so many hooks and catchy moments on this song, and they never stop coming throughout the album. Whether the band is playing at warp-10 speed or being a bit more melodic in their approach, it always seems to work.

One reason this band is so great is because of their singer Guillermo Izquierdo. His accent is not noticeably thick, and he has incredible control of his voice. Though he differs sonically from someone like James Hetfield, he has the same ability to bark out words and then instantly switch to something with a little more range. His versatility is a huge asset because it allows the band to utilize less aggressive drum patterns that the vocals can follow. Much in the same way Metallica varied up their tempos, Angelus Apatrida does so successfully, and this makes “Hidden Evolution” very easy to sit through, even at 52 minutes.

In terms of their formula, Angelus Apatrida does not experiment too much. The title track is a bit of an epic journey, and has some twists and turns. Additionally, sometimes they push the melodicism a bit further, such as parts of “First World of Terror” and "Tug of War", but they do not try their hand at a ballad, or anything more in a death/doom/black metal etc. direction. They really don’t need to mix it up though. It feels so rare to hear a genuinely great thrash band that plays straightforward thrash these days. Most of the time, modern thrash bands either sound like an Exodus rehash and aren’t that great, or they’re great because they bring new elements into a thrash sound. Angelus Apatrida does neither of those things. They just play thrash with so much energy and conviction that you can’t help but headbang to it. In hindsight, I’m really not sure why this band hasn’t blown up and become huge yet. Sure, they’re bigger than a lot of other thrash bands these days, but given how long Angelus Apatrida has been around and how good their music is, they should be appreciated much more heavily in the thrash arena than they are. That said, if you are a thrash fan, “Hidden Evolution” is a must purchase!

Be sure to check out and like Angelus Apatrida on Facebook!

"First World of Terror"
"Tug of War"
"End Man"

Final Rating
4.5/5 or 90%. 

Written by Scott

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Countless Skies – Countless Skies

For all of the hate that melodic death metal tends to get, it really is a diverse subgenre. You can go the Ensiferum route and throw in folk elements; alternatively, you can do what Children of Bodom used to do with neoclassical influences and create something interesting that way. Perhaps the most impactful way to create melodeath, however, is to take influence from Insominum, who create some of the most emotionally charged music in existence. This sound is largely what UK melodic death metal newcomers Countless Skies hope to emulate. Their self-titled first EP is an excellent demonstration in the band’s abilities, and shows a lot of potential for the future. To be fair to the band, the entire EP doesn’t just sound like Insomnium; however, that’s when they are at their best. The most forceful moments on the release are when the double bass pounds away at a steady 8th or 16th note beat as the rest of the band follows along. The first track, “Ethereal” is a great example of this. At one point, clean vocals come in over top of this charging rhythm and provide a gripping melody. This is directly followed by a spaced-out section where the harsh vocals return and everything except the drums slow down a bit. These sorts of sections are very prevalent across the entire release.

The band also isn’t afraid to slow things down for tamer, interlude-like moments. This is where the bass comes to the forefront of the music and makes an impact. Another common thing Countless Skies does on this EP is the way they use melodic riffs for more intense sections. This occurs on both “Penance” and “Everlast”, and helps differentiate these tracks from the other two. Unfortunately there is one more riff style that Countless Skies relies on. In both of the first two tracks, the band tries to use some more unique rhythms (particularly in the verses) to let the guitars stand out. While this effort is appreciated, it isn’t all that effective. The sections end up coming off as unfulfilling because they don’t allow keyboards to provide a nice backdrop to the rest of the music. Nevertheless, they don’t ruin the songs because the band is quick to return to their more emotional pounding.

A big point of contention for some will be the inclusion of clean vocals on this release. Singing is becoming seemingly more popular than ever in melodeath, and it has had varying results. The biggest problem many of these bands face is that they just don’t have a good clean vocalist. In Countless Skies’ case, this isn’t an issue, and this is why the clean vocals work. The aforementioned section in “Ethereal” is a great example of how the band can seamlessly switch between singing and growls with no negative impact on the music. The only slight complaint I can levy against the singing is that on “Reverence”, the first half of the song is a little too focused on clean vocals (though this is partly because the track starts out quite a bit tamer than the other three songs). The track builds and explodes into a more brutal affair as it progresses, so it is effective in that sense, but it would be nice if the song has a bit less emphasis on singing.

Despite some specific issues I had with this EP, the rest of the release is an incredible experience in a style that hasn’t grabbed my attention the way other subgenres of metal have. For that reason, not only is “Countless Skies” a worthwhile purchase, but it also shows a band that will definitely be worth following in the future.   

Be sure to check out and like Countless Skies on 


Final Rating
4.2/5 or 84%. 

Written by Scott

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hellripper – The Manifestation of Evil

One look at the cover art for “The Manifestation of Evil” should tell you immediately what Hellripper is all about. Both the band name and the lack of colour indicate that this release is going to consist of raw, primal evil. In other words: blackened speed metal! The band (or rather, 1-man show) waste no time with filler as there are 4 tracks here that don’t even combine for 10 minutes of playtime. Nevertheless, Hellripper’s brevity plays to their strengths. This is most evident on the opening track “Flesh Ripper”, where great riffs reign supreme. This song is by far the best on the EP, and its chorus is incredibly infectious, both because of the riff underneath it, and because of the calls of “beware of the Flesh Ripper!”. Whether you cite Venom, Midnight, Bathory, or whoever else as an influence, this song fits the bill. Things get even more enjoyable when the guitars cut out in favour of a drum/bass break before the Motorhead-esque guitar solo. But as quickly as the song gets going, it’s over.

Luckily for us listeners, song two, “Total Mayhem”, is the other highlight. Once again, the song is successful because of its punky, simplistic riffing in the chorus, and easy to growl along to chorus. This song steps up the speed even further than “Flesh Ripper” did, and ultimately provides an incredibly energetic jolt to an already inspired release. After these two tracks, Hellripper provides two more songs in a similar vein. They don’t manage to be quite as good as the first couple of tracks, but they definitely don't sound out of place. With that said, “Trial By Fire” is differs from the rest of the EP in that it offers some harmonized guitars at one point.

The mainman behind Hellripper, James McBain, has the perfect voice for this sound. His words sound more like tortured screams. They’re understandable enough that you don’t lose that old-school 80s feel, but are also brutal enough that the band doesn’t feel tame compared to their peers. At times, it actually seems as though his voice becomes harsher. For example, “Black Mass Sacrifice” shows McBain actively trying to rip his throat out. This is in stark contrast to the first two songs where he was closer to Cronos than he would become on this later track. In any case, his vocals, along with all of the rest of the instrumentation, are more than competent. The only slight complaint I have is that the production seems to differ between the songs. Nothing sounds drastically different, but I noticed during each listen that I had to adjust the volume as each new track started. In any case, this type of music isn’t meant to sound perfect, so it doesn’t hurt the release too bad. Ultimately, “The Manifestation of Evil” is exactly what the title describes. This release is a prime example of witching metal, and a necessary release for all fans of this style.

Be sure to check out and like Hellripper on Facebook!

"Flesh Ripper"
"Total Mayhem"

Final Rating
4.1/5 or 82%. 

Written by Scott

Friday, January 16, 2015

Epi-demic/Solanum – Passages to Lunacy

Passages to Lunacy” is a split that brings together two Canadian thrashers. First up is the 4-piece Winnipeg-bred Solanum. From the intro of “Friendly Civil Servant”, it’s pretty clear that we’re looking at high-end demo/low-end EP quality production. Things are relatively clear, but they don’t really sound all that full. Of course, once the thrashing starts about a minute in, none of that really matters. The band serves up a crossover-inspired sound that would not be out of place on a Cryptic Slaughter or D.R.I. record. This feeling primarily comes from the vocals, which are shouted out at rapid speed, and have a punk flare to them. The band’s riffs tend to be a bit more inspired than most crossover groups, as they occasionally work their way into more standard thrash territory. It also doesn’t hurt that the band varies up the tempos and avoids playing hyper-fast all the time (this is particularly evident on “Welcome To Our Homemade Hell”). Sometimes it feels like you might have heard a riff before, but there are few albums released over 30 years since the inception of thrash that avoid this problem. The only real flaw of Solanum’s side of the split is that these songs don’t have a lot of staying power. They would be incredibly fun live, or as something to drive to, but it’s hard to remember much of what goes on during this release.

Side 2 brings in Epi-demic, a Canadian trio who also worships those who thrash. The production is definitely worse than Solanum’s was, and it is noticeably quieter. This isn’t an awful thing on its own, but in the context of a split, the bands really should ensure their volumes are similar. Once you crank up the sound however, Epi-demic actually bring the heat even better than Solanum did. They too suffer from somewhat forgettable tracks, but they will catch your attention while the music is playing. Nevertheless, the groovy bass intro that opens this side of the split, combined with the crunching guitars that follow set the tone for a short, but sweet thrashing. Epi-demic’s singer is incredibly raw. You wouldn’t really expect him to be Canadian based on his voice, as it can sound pretty German at times. Nevertheless, he is a great fit for the chaos of the music, which even includes blast beats at times. On the whole, both bands definitely show a lot of potential, and with a bit more innovative songwriting (and better production), both could definitely be major players in the thrash scene. If you’re always on the lookout for up and coming bands, “Passages to Lunacy” is a must-buy.

Be sure to check out and like Solanum and Epi-demic on Facebook!

All of it

Final Rating
3.5/5 or 70%. 

Written by Scott