Dark Juan’s Top Ten Releases Of 2020

Dark Juan’s Top Ten Releases Of 2020
By ‘Dark Juan’

Yes, my dear children of the night. It is that time again. It’s near Yule and the Krampus is rampant. At least that was what I said to Mrs Dark Juan during a night-time meeting in the hall leading to the bathroom. The Smellhounds are currently quiescent, Mrs Dark Juan is currently creating felt art and I have a bit of time off from wrangling young gentlemen, and also the Mighty Gothikpanzer flew through its MOT, so in a rare moment of sober good humour I present to you all this list of what I consider to be the records of the year. There’s going to be a few honourable mentions at the end, because this year has been a fucking BANGER for new metal, even though we have all been confined for the good of our various realms… Shall we dance?

10. Häxan – White Noise (July 2020)

An astonishingly assured debut album from a young British three piece, variously from Cheltenham and Wales. “White Noise” is based on the sound of classic hard rockers and these three young ladies kick serious amounts of arse. If I were to rank this list on the amount of songs by a single band reverberating around my poor damaged head, Häxan would have fucking aced it, folks. Harking back to an age when hard rock was king, yet somehow managing to convey a modern edge, HUGE fucking stadium rock choruses and killer riffs abound and the songs just drip snotty attitude and the kind of swagger you’d normally associate with veteran bands who have been massive for decades. This, unsurprisingly, is a Very Good Thing indeed and this album is still on fairly constant rotation in the Mighty Gothikpanzer after several months because of its sheer quality and the obvious enjoyment the band have in playing their music. Plus, I love Sam Bolderston’s voice, and this slab of good time, party rock and roll is an excellent addition to any metal fan’s record collection for when you want to dial back the heaviness and listen to something groovy.


9. Basement Torture Killings – Lessons In Murder (May 2020)

Primal, British old school death metal. Uncompromising and a listening experience not unlike having your face marched over by a thousand hobnailed boots for the rest of time, this record reminds us just how good death metal can be when played with passion and excitement. Vocalist Beryl is at her most effective when employing a Jeff Walker-esque high pitched snarl and the music is the soundtrack to all the worst horrors you can perpetrate on the human body with a bit of imagination and a room full of power tools. Speedy, bloody and shockingly violent, Basement Torture Killings took my face off with their sheer intensity and ferocious commitment to death metal. A top-notch addition to any collection of extreme metal.


8. The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous (April 2020)

I have had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Black Dahlia frontman and all-round good egg Trevor Strnad for Ever-Metal.com. It was the first ever interview I had conducted with a metal superstar, which has scared me half to fucking death to the point I haven’t done another, and I am ashamed to admit that there was quite a lot of abject and pathetic fangirling from your favourite pseudo-Satanist metal hack. Kudos to Trevor, who was most gracious during the times I was waffling in a panicked fashion. Thankfully, “Verminous” is quite simply a jaw-droppingly fine record from a band who have discovered the secret of expanding their sound into new dimensions without losing the core of what they are. This album is going to be impossible to top – Strnad has never sounded better vocally from subterranean grunt to head splitting howl, the songwriting and experimentation on display is astounding, and the band have lost none of their snaggletoothed bite and awesome power. Yet more proof that heaviness does not preclude melody, The Black Dahlia Murder are absolutely, ahem, MURDEROUS in their intensity and wild eyed, flailing power and this is the watershed moment in an already stellar career for these American extreme metal stalwarts. A most worthy purchase, should you choose to indulge yourself.


7. Master Charger – Origin Of The Lugubrious (August 2020)

Fellows in the British doom/stoner scene with Red Spektor, Master Charger are an order of magnitude heavier. Taking their cues from classic Sabbath, Master Charger dial down the psychedelia and turn up the heaviness quotient to something akin to a sonic avalanche. Yes, these guys are heavier than a planet with your mum and sister standing on it wearing underwear fashioned from neutronium. Sonically dense and Mogadon slow, Master Charger play artfully crafted doom metal with a stoner edge and are blessed with the voice of the pleasingly alliterative John James, whose whiskey and Marlboro Red soaked vocal is a joy to hear. Master Charger are fucking magnificent bastards and this is a record of such colossal heaviness that there were earthquake warnings in New Zealand when I played it.


6. Red Spektor – Heart Of The Renewed Sun (October 2020)

A SLIGHT change of pace and style to the previous entrant, Red Spektor served us up an absolute PEACH of an album in “Heart Of The Renewed Sun”. Effortlessly melding 60s psychedelia, the bluesiest of blues rock, metal and stoner, RS carried me off into internal mescaline fuelled musical visions of infinity, without all the tiresome bad tripping that normally comes whenever I take vast quantities of acid. Yes, for all I like to have my face melted by the speediest and rawest of heavy fucking metal, there are times when I want to trip balls and have my mind expanded. Red Spektor are the PERFECT band to take you on a tour of your own psyche. This isn’t to say that they ain’t heavy though. They are a gaily painted, super heavy battle truck bristling with acid gas projectors. If you dig melody and experimentation, grab this album.


5. Olivia Neutered John – Gorewhore (May 2020)

Holy fuck, not since the early days of Carcass or The Berzerker have I heard such demented savagery. Olivia Neutered John play old school grindcore in such a visceral way. It’s raw and bloody and ONJ are taking names and not taking any fucking prisoners. If you’re looking for melody, forget it. This is just sheer bastard powerviolence with a strong anti-paedophilia message. Considering my career in putting back together the recipients of abuse, this is a message Dark Juan not only gets behind, but will be joining Olivia Neutered John on the front line armed to the teeth and screaming for vengeance. The songs are short, sharp, devastatingly speedy shocks, not unlike stabs to the heart with cruelly serrated blades, yet the warped sense of humour necessary for grindcore lurks just behind the utter sonic destruction of the music, and ONJ make this list because there are painfully few bands making grindcore record these days, and I fucking love it. And they have the BEST band name EVER!!!


4. Quinn The Brain – Open Wide EP (May 2020)

Red raw and visceral nu-grunge with a serrated punk edge. No, stick with me here. Texans Quinn The Brain are ANGRY. They are fucking furious and they want the world to know it. Painfully emotional, but dripping with wry humour and a not inconsiderable amount of bile, this four track represents a surprisingly complete body of work from a band who easily evoke the memories of the classic riot girl bands of the 2000’s. Arta Salehi’s vocal especially reminds the verbose idiot writing this of the great Kat Bjelland of Babes In Toyland and the equally great (and very tall) Brody Dalle, of The Distillers. Plus, they are named after an episode of Daria (remember that show?) which is also a massive plus. Proof that heaviness doesn’t come just from metal, Quinn The Brain’s music is as flayed skin emotional as you can get.


3. White Crone – The Poisoner (February 2020)

Friend of Ever-Metal.com, general lovely person and top-notch blues musician Lisa Mann visits the results of a lifetime’s love of classic metal upon us and by Satan it’s a fucking banger of an album. Traditional metal all the way, it remains spectacularly vibrant and is more exciting than being caught in a ladies’ finishing college somewhere near Cheltenham wearing nothing but a bow tie and a wry grin, whilst carrying a bottle of champers. Lisa’s voice brings back echoes of the great metal vocalists, her barrel lunged delivery both powerful and excellent, along with top notch songwriting, guitar playing and some of the finest bass work you’ll ever hear irrespective of genre. The woman is a musical goddess and I will forever champion White Crone.


2. Protosequence – A Blunt Description of Something Obscene (May 2020)

My face still hasn’t recovered from the beating it has taken from this supertechnical death metal band’s record. If you love Necrophagist, you’ll fucking love this band. There are only four songs, but then the guys have thoughtfully included instrumental versions of each track and they are explosively brilliant. Stunning guitar work and drumming proves that death metal is not just a bunch of hairy arses battering their instruments and regurgitating their own giblets in a vague approximation of music. Fucking hell, boys, girls, and all other genders, this album is almost classical in musicianship such is its depth and complexity. I have played it a million times already and I show no signs of stopping.


01 The Machinist – I Am Void (November 2020)

Holy fucking fuck. Jesus Christ in a chariot driven sidecar. It is conceivable that The Machinist are my new favourite band. You are all no doubt aware that I regard The Berzerker’s self-titled debut album as the most violent and psychopathic record ever, and the benchmark for sheer brutality. Well, my faithful followers of all known genders, those worthy Australian nutjobs have finally been toppled from their throne by The Machinist’s extraordinary fusion of black metal, death metal, power electronics and industrial. For a debut album,” I Am Void” is simply staggering and utterly breathtaking in both scope and execution. My people, honest to both the false God and our Lord and Master Shaitan, this release is a landmark in extreme metal. It simply can’t possibly get any heavier or faster than this without shredding causality and destroying the universe. Best of all, they are fellow Mancs!


So, there you have it. Dark Juan’s top ten records of the year. 2020 might have sucked humungous hairy balls because of the worldwide pestilence and plague, but by God the world of metal didn’t. A vintage year for the music we love, my family of weirdos. If I may, I wish to share a few honourable mentions because there were several bands who missed the cut by a gnat’s chuff…

Bofo Kwo – Space/Time Carnivorium (June 2020) – Demented Finns tell the tale of three intergalactic cannibals and their adventures to a death metal soundtrack. As insane as it sounds.


Sertraline – Clouded Minds And Silver Lines (May 2020) – Young, British prog metal band gifted with exceptional vocalist in Lizzie show that prog metal can kick arse in a big way.


Lucifer – III (March 2020) – Absolutely gorgeous international doomsters with classic rock sensibilities and image keep up the exceptional quality of their releases with their third record.


Bull Elephant – Created From Death (August 2020) – “Created From Death” is the story of a slain African elephant that occultist Ahnenerbe SS attempted to bring back from the dead as a new form of battle asset. However, before re-animation could be completed it was intercepted by a mysterious witch-shaman, pursuing her own agenda and redirecting the undead creature’s purpose. With Nazi attack wolves.”

Says it all, really.


And last of all, we remembered the sadly missed Wayne Static with Static-X’s “Project Regeneration Vol. 1” (July 2020) which was simply magnificent nu-metal and a more than fitting tribute to one of our Lost Boys.


I’m done. I’m utterly spent. May you all make merry and receive all the love in the world from your families and significant others. A joyous Yuletide to you all. Remember to spell Santa correctly, kids, otherwise you’ll be getting a surprise you won’t forget in a hurry.

To read the original reviews follow these links:

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

Red Spektor – Heart Of The Renewed Sun

Red Spektor – Heart Of The Renewed Sun
Kozmik Artifactz
Release date: 02/10/2020
Running Time: 40:45
Review by Dark Juan
Score: Fucking millions out of 10!

Good afternoon once again, acolytes and denizens of the world. Of climes unknown to me, Brazil (hi, Victor!) and of Australia, a continent where even the wildlife is designed to kill humankind, yet where people still survive although their surroundings wage a guerrilla war, knocking off a victim here and there. And to anywhere else on this strange little blue ball careening through the galaxy at a steady 67,000 miles per hour. You are my brothers and sisters, you dear people, and my heart explodes with love for you all.

Actually, that’s a big fat lie. I am a twisted, obsidian wreck of a man only concerned with furthering my gospel and defiling virgins in the name of The One That Walks Backwards, and absinthe. My hellhounds (all three currently snoring in various positions of repose – Sir Zeusington Zeus VC, KCVG, MM, DFC and Bar stealing all the warmths in front of the radiator, Hodgson Biological-Warfare asleep on the sofa, welded to the side of Mrs. Dark Juan as usual and the Dread Lord Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover tilting at windmills, shouting at absolutely nothing and trying to fight dogs three times his size to no avail as is a normal day at Dark Juan Terrace…) are relaxed for once, enabling me to exhort the delights of Stoke-on-Trent heavy rock trio Red Spektor to you in peace, for once in my miserable goddamned existence! That, and the fine cup of Yorkshire tea by my side (other hot beverages are available, but trust me you wouldn’t want to fucking bother) enable me to give my full attention to an album that appears to be so far up my street it has parked its psychedelic painted Type 1 VW camper van in my front room, much to the consternation of Mrs. Dark Juan, who is upset that I have not told her that we were expecting visitors, from another plane of reality or otherwise.

Before we begin, a disclaimer – There will be drug references and an overuse of the word psychedelic in the following ranting. This is because psychedelic stoner rock gets me more excited than being left alone in a room full of cloned Gemma Arterton’s in varying states of undress and I have an endless supply of Viagra. You can thank me later for the mental image that has left you with.

Opening track ‘Warflower’ transports us instantly into the mid 70’s psychedelic explosion with a pleasing mix of Wolfmother, Hawkwind at their most muscular and the more exploratory parts of Steppenwolf and Blue Oyster Cult as a basis for their sound, with added Sir Lord Baltimore and LSD dripping Cream. This diverse mix of musical influences is indeed a Very Good Thing. It is well known that Dark Juan is a sucker for stoner and doom and added psychedelia just makes me dance like a hippy with those strange hand movements that only hippies and goth girls do to “Lucretia My Reflection”. It’s all phaser, fuzz and tube screamers and its fucking brilliant! Every instrument is mixed very well, and the clarity of the sound is excellent. The bass of Mr. Rob Farrell cuts cleanly through the mix without over powering the sound of the band as a whole and the riffs, man. The fucking riffs! Riffs of such splendour and majesty and acid fuelled power that I can’t help but prostrate myself at their feet and worship their shining puissance whilst weeping that I am the world’s shittest guitarist. Also, the impassioned howl of Mr. John Scane deserves note as he rips out his soul with his vocal, at the same time as whipping out cutting yet utterly groovy solos on his guitar. I am being transported on giant rainbow waves of mescaline fuelled enthusiasm into a stoner universe I haven’t visited since I reviewed Blackwulf, several years ago. This record is a mighty fucking beast, stomping around among the galaxies in there. Mainly because the drumming on this record, by Mr. Johnny Esp, is utterly magnificent. His drums are also produced to perfection, cymbals being punchy and easily clearing the bass and snare drum, and the bass drum being thrilling and resonant and not sounding like a taut dishcloth being clouted by a length of wet four by two.

‘Masquerade’ is a standout tune on the record, fuzz driven guitar being driven by sexy basslines and touches of Hammond organ while John howls his impassioned heart out. It has to be said that I currently love this modern reinterpretation of the early stages of hard rock and heavy metal that is being explored by the likes of Red Spektor, Lucifer, Häxan and the like. Having reviewed Blue Öyster Cult’s live record recently, I have had occasion to compare the mastery of BÖC’s early output with the more modern version that we call psychedelic stoner, and with this record by Red Spektor I am pleased to report to you all that this album is a modern classic in the making, if there’s any cosmic fucking justice.

‘Long Way Down’ has the trippiest opening I have heard in years, valve-driven fuzz phasered guitar with lashings of reverb and echo over a grooving bassline that suddenly jumps into the kind of hard rock riff that makes this hellpriest weep for joy, and want to cut the hands off every other guitarist out there. Then there’s some of the bluesiest soloing I have heard in a good long while as well.  Vocally, John Scane sits in a range best described as what Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale would have sounded like had he not got his bollocks stuck in a vice during recording sessions and this is to his credit. ‘Violet Sun’ is arguably the most psychedelic song on the record – echo, reverb and phaser turned up to the max for the utterly glorious acid-fuelled solo. The valve-driven, tube screamer sound adds to the ambience – it is a record that sounds like it has been played on the richest sounding pieces of old equipment the band could get their hands on.

In short, this record sounds absolutely PERFECT for what it aspires to be. Vintage, trippy as fuck and hard as hell. All bases are covered – the psychedelic aspect with the sound and the sometimes (ahem) exploratory middle eights, the hard rock with the tempos and distortion and soloing, and the blues in the arrangement of the songs (especially on ‘Hell To Pay’ – that verse is bluesy as fuck mate before we go skyrocketing off into purple edged, LSD fuelled universes of the mind on the soloing) and the vocal being of the classic rock type. It is safe to say I’m a bit of a fan, and proof that music doesn’t have to be spectacularly fast and roaring to be heavy as fuck, man.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is utterly broken beyond repair right now, to the imminent despair (and probably fury) of Editorial Lord Richard of Tilley, as he doesn’t like me making a mockery of his scoring system, but it is currently reading about 47,000,000 out of 10. It could be a calibration error.

A serious contender for Album of The Year. Red Spektor are THAT good.

01. Warflower
02. Revol
03. Masquerade
04. Guided Tears
05. Long Way Down
06. Violet Sun
07. Hell To Pay
08. Ivory Towers

John Scan – Vocals/ guitar
Johnny Esp – Drums
Rob Farrell – Bass


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



Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Stoke-On-Trent, UK based Psychedelic Stoner Hard Rock band Red Spektor. Huge thanks to John, Jonny & Rob for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

John: Hi, my name is John and I play guitar and sing.

Jonny: I’m Jonny and I play drums

Rob: I’m Rob and I play bass; our collective minds make our band Red Spektor which we formed late 2012

John: And we play psychedelic heavy rock. We have a debut album out through label Kozmik Artifactz and an EP from way back and we are just about to release our second album “Heart of the Renewed Sun”!

How did you come up with your band name?

John: I think it was a term seen in a book, but it was one of a few names we had, but this seemed to stick.

Where are you from and what is the Metal & Rock scene like there?

John: We are from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, UK. The metal and rock scene is good, lots of bands and a few places to play.

Rob: it’s definitely got better over the past few years

What is your latest release?

Rob: We are just about to release our second album “Heart of the Renewed Sun” on the 2nd October. With a single called ‘Long Way Down’ which is out now!

‘Long Way Down’ (Official Video)

Who have been your greatest influences?

John: It’s quite difficult to pinpoint specifically, but it’s fair to say our music has been likened to some of the heavier bands from the 1970’s. For example, Rory Gallagher is one of mine, not because of what he played, but his approach to his music. He does his own thing.

Rob: It is a tough question, cause individually we have a varied taste in music, which definitely has an effect on the music we make. I think it stops it being too much like one thing.

Jonny: For me The Who, songs like Happy Jack and I Can See For Miles were phenomenal, all about the drums and had energy.

What first got you into music?

Jonny: I wasn’t very old, 8 or 9, and my uncle used to come round on pay day having bought a record and I was always fascinated with the vinyl.

Rob: I’ve always been around music, but I think the first time I found my music was when a mate lent me a tape with Suicidal Tendencies and Nuclear Assault.

John: For me, getting my first record player as a teenager and hanging out with my like-minded friends who loved the rock music.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

John: John Frusciante

Rob: No idea for me, I’d love to collaborate with bands like Radio Moscow, Kadavar, Graveyard Uncle Acid on an awesome festival.

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

John: Download. I have fond memories of Donington, the hallowed turf of rock during the days of the Monsters of Rock festival. It would be great to fulfil a teenage dream!

Jonny: Has to be Glastonbury for me

Rob: Glastonbury would be cool, but I think something like South by South West, or the new Black Deer festival would be awesome.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

John: It’s not necessarily a weird item, but it felt weird to be given a vintage Ibanez guitar pedal from a fan. It’s worth a lot of money and they wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I still have it and look after it – if they ever want it back!

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

John: Everyone I’ve met has been wonderful, so carry on.

Rob: Agreed, stay awesome

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

John: Hillel Slovak the original guitar player from the Chillies who died too soon.

Rob: Same reason for me but I’d bring back Cliff Burton, awesome bass player.

Jonny: for me, its Keith Moon

Rob: that would make an insane super group

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

John: Love: creating lovely honest music with my good friends in the band. Dislike: poseurs.

Rob: Definitely playing our music, and meeting people while doing it. And I agree with hating the poseurs.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Rob: People getting rich on other people’s talents, while those with the talents go poor.

Jonny: Price of music instruments, everything is way expensive.

John: You’re not wrong. But I’d say any form of narrow-mindedness.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

John: It’s tough to name one, but I’d say “Love” by the Cult

Jonny: “Forever Changes” by Love, Rob you have to pick an album with love in it

Rob: Jeez, with love in it? I can’t think of one, wait “Louder Than Love” by Soundgarden, awesome record.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

John: For me, vinyl. Always. But whatever suits you.

Jonny: Definitely vinyl

Rob: Vinyl, then downloads then cassettes. Never CD’s. CD’s aren’t tactile or convenient.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

John: HRH Doom vs Stoner.

Rob: I agree, over 3000 people made that gig insane.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

John: I already do. I’m a designer. It was a hard fight to make that dream come to true. It’s a tough industry.

Jonny: I’d be an artist.

Rob: For me I’d be a failed poet, but I guess technically I already am.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

John: Barney Bubbles, Danny Fields, Rosetta Tharpe, Christine McVie, Sly Stone.

Rob: I agree, as long as they don’t drink all the booze.

What’s next for the band?

Rob: So, the biggest thing is the album launch on the 2nd October. The 5th track from the album is out now [Aug 7th] and called ‘Long Way Down’.

Then it’s getting some gigs sorted somehow. We have some ideas about streaming a live show and making a proper event of it, but we are still working out the details.

We’ll also have a second single out in a month or so along with a few music vids so stay tuned.

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

John: Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp.

Rob: yep, the usual places. The main one for physical sales is www.kozmik-artifactz.com/ or www.red-spektor.bandcamp.com/

For digital we also use Bandcamp, but also iTunes, Google Play Music, Spotify etc. and something like 26 stores.

Check out our website for details www.redspektor.com/

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Jonny: Cake

Rob: Cake, it’s nowt like a biscuit

John: Neither. They are a total eclipse.

Rob: of the heart?

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Rob: I guess the biggest thing is a thank you to everyone that has stuck by us over the years. And a huge shout out to Daz, Simon, Judy and Ashey, they are or have been a huge part of the band and we can’t thank them enough.

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