Blackwülf – Thieves And Liars

Thieves And Liars Album Cover Art

Blackwülf – Thieves And Liars
Ripple Music
Release Date: 03/02/23
Running Time: 35:22
Review by Dark Juan

Good afternoon, dear fiends and vagabonds. It is I, Dark Juan, and my music journalism career (such as what it is!) has come full circle. Once upon a time in the dim and distant past of the previous decade to this one, an embryonic young writer was exulting in the fact that he got free records for writing a few words about them and cheerfully insulting everyone he took aim at, especially if they were wrong’ uns like Warrior Soul or Erotic Psycho, or, God forbid, the set of misogynist shitbags that were Flesh Hunter and the Analassaulters, or Sturmgeist Fornicator Insultus (who got upset with me after I ripped the piss out of his ridiculous moniker), who still ranks as having the most… pathetic name a Black Metal vocalist has ever given to himself, even when up against ex-members of Bathory like VVVnorth and Kothaar. If you want Dark Juan to like your stuff, just don’t be a fucking dickhead, OK?

Anyway, to drag ourselves back to the narrative before I got distracted by Sturmgeist Fornicator Insultus and his clear overcompensating for his pipecleaner-like limbs, way back when in 2018, I got a copy of (from Oakland, USA) Blackwülf’s “Sinister Sides” album and I remembered being carried off on “frothy purple waves of enthusiasm” by them. They were also roundly chastised by Dark Juan for having the temerity to release a fucking ballad on that album and Dark Juan is not positively disposed towards ballads. Let us see whether they have made the same mistake again…

Blackwülf sounds like hot desert nights and mescaline and watching the sun come up over the dunes while tripping your bollocks off. It’s burgers and fries in a shitty truck stop in the arse end of buttfuck nowhere and tequila with the local boys in the only bar for fifty miles around. It’s saguaro cactus, acid, Lone Star beer and cranking up the stereo and the aircon while you drive a straight, never-ending road through the Nevada desert. At least that’s how I remembered them, so I am expecting great things from the chaps this time.

Blackwülf appear to have lost none of their punch and their smoky-tinged Stoner grooves are still present and correct, opening slab ‘Shadow’ (and the rest of the album) referencing the darker sides of your dad’s record collection – it’s all Sabbath worship with added Hendrix and John Kongos psychedelics with a shed load of nods towards classic Rock and Metal – I can hear the likes of Cream, Albert Hammond and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in there, tempered with the bluesy sounds of Free and Blue Cheer, ELP style prog and then the whole shebang has a spine of steel with the chunkiness of Metal from across the ages – it’s a real melting pot of influences that all gel rather wonderfully, when, if they were mishandled, it could have ended up an unpleasant morass of noise that didn’t link together and sounded like shit. 

‘Psychonaut/ Edge of Light’ has annoyed me, though. Blackwülf have done it to me AGAIN. The song starts off like a matt-black battlewagon, belching diesel fumes and spitting high calibre explosives, but then they have fucking DONE ANOTHER BALLAD! Even more annoyingly, it’s really rather good Hawkwindy swirliness. It appears that I’m getting old. Insert a generic British joke about Yanks here and consider yourself told off, Blackwülf.

Apart from this reviewer’s idiosyncratic hatred of ballads, “Thieves And Liars” is a bloody good listen. It’s a black, dust-covered muscle car powered by the bass rumble of a 607 Windsor V8 engine. The album is superbly produced, everything having absolutely crystal clarity – the guitars are meatier than a butcher’s counter, the bass as butt-vibratingly low as it is possible to get without creating exciting new geological faults (Blackwülf are NOT to be played anywhere near San Francisco) and the whole record has a kind of polished, professional feel that can be somewhat lacking from Stoner/ Doom Metal, where it sometimes appears that the entire recording budget has normally been spent on illegal, mind-altering party treats and then the rest of the album has been recorded in a toilet for £46.80 and some Tic-Tacs and mastered by the local YTS trainee at the local college. 

Once more, Blackwülf bring the best of US style Doom and beguile this Yorkshire-based moron (who isn’t pissed on Breton cider this time) with their muscular and expansive Stoner/ Doom Metal. Special mention must be given to Alex Cunningham, whose rasping rock and roll voice really gives the music of Blackwülf that extra dimension that lifts them from the merely good to the truly excellent. His voice fits the music like… like… the ease and speed with which Dark Juan could infiltrate an all-girls’ university dormitory if the mood took him.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is very very pleased to have Blackwülf back on the scene after the Pandemic and all the fucking BOLLOCKS that came with it and awards 9/10 for an album that is an epic distillation of their previous works, purified and perfected and a damned fine listen whether you are a seasoned Blackwülf fan or a newcomer to the band. Wonder whether there’s room for a Blackwülf patch on the Surplice of Doom?

1. Shadow
2. Seems To Me
3. Killing Kind
4. Thieves And Liars
5. Failed Resistance
6. Psychonaut / Edge Of Light
7. Mysteries Of This
8. Brother
9. Cries For A Dying Star

Alex Cunningham — vocals
Pete Holmes — guitar
Jesse Rosales — guitar
Scott Peterson — bass
Dave Pankenier — drums


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.

Captain Caravan and Kaiser – Turned To Stone Chapter 6 (Split Album)

Turned To Stone Chapter 6 (Split Album) Album Cover Art

Captain Caravan and Kaiser – Turned To Stone Chapter 6 (Split Album)
Ripple Music
Release Date: 18/11/22
Running Time: 42:17
Review by Dark Juan

All reet, folks? Greetings and whatnot from Yorkshire, where the weather is inclement and everyone wears flat caps and clogs, eats breadcakes, drinks Tetley’s or Timothy Taylor’s and ladies have a white wine spritzer when they visit the local hostelries. We also know that we don’t walk on Ilkley Moor baht ‘at. We have all walked our whippets and fettled our ferrets and have now locked down in our humble abodes for the evening, whereupon I have clamped the Headphones Of Incipient Hearing Loss on, and am busy cursing Shell Broadband for their utterly appalling internet service. It has more drop outs than the bottom of the Marianas Trench and is about as reliable as an Alfa Romeo that has been rained on. Mrs Dark Juan is crafting something to do with fungi – she says it’s so our future fungal overlords will know that we are willing collaborators and therefore will spare us when they take over the world. Mrs Dark Juan has some strange ideas. Everyone knows it’s the corvids that are going to take over…

So, as it is blowing a gale outside and the sky has tried to drown me, I have plonked my fat arse on the sofa, am refusing to move and currently listening to the latest in Ripple Music’s “Turned To Stone” series, this being the sixth entry in that very excellent series. Ripple Music have a very impressive roster that tends towards the Doomier side of Metal, and as you all know, Dark Juan is all over that, like the most inexpensive of cheap suits. This split album features two bands, Norway’s Captain Caravan and Finland’s Kaiser and so far, so good – the groove is taking over and I will soon be in a patchouli-scented, grooved-out haze.

Captain Caravan open the album’s account with the first five songs on the record and I have to say that I’m pretty impressed by what I am hearing, seeing as they sound like Free if Tony Iommi and Scott “Wino” Weinrich played guitar for them mixed with a lot of weed and The Obsessed, Trouble and Saint Vitus. Opening cut ‘Down’ doesn’t bother with any subtlety, instead preferring to open proceedings with a monstrous riff of Herculean proportions, and then work their way up to Olympian riffmastery… For all they are fuzzy Doomsters, there’s a brilliantly sharp edge to the music and the production is simply masterful. The sound is huge, everything turned up to the max yet retaining clarity and listenability throughout. There’s no let up throughout the next four songs either, short and to-the-point jabs of classic sounding Doom goodness punching the listener repeatedly in the hypothalamus and releasing those sweet, sweet endorphins into your poor, punished brainpan. . Every song by Captain Caravan on this album is fucking brilliant. They have taken Fuzz, Doom and Stoner by the throat and shaken it until it shits itself. Melody and groove abound throughout and their unusual, polished, bluesy take on Doom is just a joy to hear and special mention must go to frontman Johnny Olsen, who is possessed by the lungs of a classic rock and roll singer and never fails to charm with his hairy-chested, full on rawk delivery. Also, it must be said, here be RIFFS. Riffs of a Brobdingnagian, gargantuan scale ebb and flow with some magnificence in song structures that do not deviate far from conventional norms. Do not take this as a criticism, even the most ardent Doom fan can sometimes get pissed off with middle eights that turn into middle 128s. By retaining this sense of purpose in the compositions, Captain Caravan have an immediacy to their music that Doom sometimes lacks, and are all the better for it. They absolutely do not sacrifice any grooviness in their quest for the mother lode of riffology though. If you like Thunder Horse, Sergeant Thunderhoof and the like you’ll enjoy Captain Caravan mightily.

Kaiser, on the other hand, follow a different path. They are worshippers of fuzz with a capital FUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Their bass driven, massively overpowered, organic sound is all about overwhelming the listener with sheer hirsute groove overload. The noise they make is incredible for a three piece. They are an altogether looser, more experimental band than Captain Caravan but they too worship at the altar of the Almighty Power of the Groove. ‘Howl’ starts with the sound of a turbine or rocket motor spooling up and then it is time for the RIFFS. These Finnish riffmeisters come from a similar area of music as do Captain Caravan, but with less Bluesiness and more Metal – where Captain Caravan craft riffs of high-powered majesty, Kaiser are the front line knights of Doom. Dented, dull armour and notched weapons from so much use are the order of the day here. More black engine oil than rocket fuel. Their riffs are living things that frequently take on lives of their own and the drumming is second to none. An endless, pummelling assault on the senses in combination with bass of such quintessential heaviness that the music world is going to have to come up with a new word to describe it. It does not charm and beguile the listener. It turns the listener’s insides into a chunky, painful soup. On ‘Fire’, the bass acts almost as another rhythm guitar during the solo and the vocals of Otu also please this grumpy old rock hack mightily. Both groovy as fuck yet capable of expressive histrionics in the vein of the old boy Ozzy himself, Otu delivers a wide-eyed commitment to his vocals that is more than a little worrying and has Dark Juan looking for something to defend himself with… Highlight of the whole album, and especially Kaiser’s input, is ‘Phoenix Part 1, 2, 3: Fission, Death, Rebirth’, a nine-minute plus sprawling, atmospheric trip to the outer reaches of human cognition with every single known guitar and bass effect flung into the cauldron together with samples of occultists and fuck knows what else. It is a resplendently magniloquent and unrepentant deep dive into the magic that is Doom, where groove and power mean everything and you just don’t stop until your entire audience is liquid…

All in all, this album is a fucking great listen, and Ripple Music have to be commended most highly for putting these two bands together on a split album, as they are both fucking superb, yet totally different in execution of the same style of music – where Captain Caravan are cleaner, more polished and more melodic, Kaiser are the filthy basement dweller who has come rampaging out of their cellar to bludgeon you to death with fuzz.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Det patenterte Dark Juan-systemet for blodsprut for my Norwegian friends and Patentoitu Dark Juan –veriroiskeluokitusjärjestelmä for the Finnish contingent – I am not even going to attempt a pronunciation of that word salad. I just had Google Translate do it and I couldn’t even understand the voice telling me how to say it. Go, go British education!) awards Captain Caravan and Kaiser a combined 10/10 for their joint groovy stupendousness. This split is an almost perfect Doom/ Fuzz/Stoner record. I’ll give Ripple Music a 10 as well for having a consistently exciting roster, as I have listened to a lot of it! I’m off for a brew. Ta ra!

01. Captain Caravan – Down
02. Captain Caravan – Sailors
03. Captain Caravan – Painted Wolf
04. Captain Caravan – She Can
05. Captain Caravan – Void
06. Kaiser – Howl
07. Kaiser – Fire
08. Kaiser – Black Sand Witch
09. Kaiser – Phoenix Part 1, 2, 3: Fission, Death, Rebirth

BK – Guitar
Johnny – Vocals
Geir – Bass
Morten – Drums

Otu – Guitar, vocals
Pex – Bass
RiQ – Drums


Captain Caravan:


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.

Behold! The Monolith – From The Fathomless Deep

From The Fathomless Deep Album Cover Art

Behold! The Monolith – From The Fathomless Deep
Ripple Music
Release Date: 15/07/22
Running Time: 44:27
Review by Dark Juan

“A rancid old alcoholic.”

This is a verbatim quote from Mrs Dark Juan as we were sharing some ice cream in the kitchen of Dark Juan Terrace and we were discussing the “merits” of the frankly abominable brew I have concocted, that is poised in its bottles in the pantry ready to strike down the unwary. She was telling me this is what I will become if I drink anymore of it. However, I am taking this with a large pinch of salt because during the same conversation she tried to convince me that Madagascan vanilla pods are picked by moonlight by aye-ayes (this is a kind of primate with an elongated finger for digging out termites et al) and responded violently when I rejected this and offered the counter argument that they are probably picked by eight-year-olds earning a pittance.

My wounds have been dressed (it is rather fascinating, in a morbid kind of way, just how many ways you can be maimed with a cold spoon) and Mrs Dark Juan has flitted back off upstairs in a state of high dudgeon to her recently redecorated craft eyrie to continue working on the small dog she’s making (out of felt and other materials as a sculpture, NOT out of the recovered parts of recently deceased pets, although I wouldn’t put it past her. My daughter once had a school project to create a horror doll. Mrs Dark Juan “helped” her. The doll got an A, my daughter got sent to pastoral care to be quizzed about whether she was OK and what her home life was like. To be fair, the doll was a cruelly burned and maimed Barbie with the actual preserved wings of a bird and bits of a model of an F-22 Raptor and a ladybird glued to it. Among other things).

None of which has even the slightest relevance to the record that I am currently experiencing, being “From The Fathomless Deep” by Los Angeles-based Sludge stalwarts Behold! The Monolith. Currently operating as a power trio, this is B! TM’s first full length release (fnarr fnarr!) since 2015, and by Satan they sound hungry…

‘Crown – The Immeasurable Void’ opens proceedings and, fuck me sideways and call me Roger, these gents are not fucking about. A mere few seconds in and they have already opened a new geological fault on the road outside Dark Juan Terrace and the neighbours are already complaining that they can’t park there anymore because there’s a bloody great hole where the road was. I have told them to complain to Behold! The Monolith in person. This is very nearly a new level of heavy. Ponderous, imposing riffs relentlessly bludgeon the listener, whose head very quickly resembles the consistency of tomato puree and underneath it all prowls the snapping, snarling vocal of Menno Verbaten. He rumbles the core of the earth with sepulchral low tones and makes the mid-range a most dangerous place to be, flaying the unsuspecting fan down to the muscle layer with his voice. Menno is not a one trick pony though. He can sing as well as weaponise his voice and on ‘Spirit Taker’ there are some sublime vocal harmonies.

In fact, the whole album has a very sinister sense of purpose, sounding like it is maintaining a steely-eyed focus on the distant horizon. It is remarkably single-minded for a Sludge Metal record, which, like anything slow, Doomy or Psychedelic, can have a tendency to either wander off into some kind of misty musical hinterland during the middle eight and get hopelessly lost, or focus so intently inward it gets distracted by its own navel gazing. Behold! The Monolith (thank fuck that my word processor accepts that punctuation. Editor Beth “I’ll Fuck You Up Faster Than Joe Bugner On Speed” Jones and Ever-Metal alumnus Simon “I Am Not Letting You Forget The Sexual Origami Joke” Black get upset, as does Rory “I’m A Grumpy Miserable Bastard And I Won’t Give Anyone A 10 No Matter How Much I Like Them” Bentley (pay attention to his words, as he is a walking encyclopedia of Heavy Metal) get very upset when the punctuation and grammar are incorrect when they are proofreading the deeply psychotic and increasingly rabid submissions from the Ever-Metal “team”. We are less a team and rather more a bunch of deranged psychopaths who are tightly leashed. They threaten us with violence over an Oxford comma. A poorly placed semi-colon invites apoplexy. Don’t even mention an interrobang to them) manage to neatly avoid both traps, as their command of the songwriting craft is second to none. Riffs, majesty and untrammeled violence morph seamlessly into extended Eastern-sounding acoustic passages, especially on 11-minute closer ‘The Stormbreaker Suite’ and writhe sinuously between fuzz-laden, creeping doominess, etheric splendour, the promise of an alley fight with broken bottles, adrenalin fuelled speed and the glory of bluesy Metal. 

Solos coruscate and cut through the ether with clarity and precision and the drumming is superb. In fact, the whole album is a perfectly executed piece. Production and mix – Sorted. Louder than a nuclear detonation six inches in front of your face, yet still retaining a superb listenable quality. Rich and earthy and warm. Drum sound – Powerful and penetrating yet still more percussive than a legion of pneumatic hammers levelling a mountain. Bass – My lower limbs have been destroyed. Thick and treacly, yet oozing purpose and menace throughout the record. Bedrock has been damaged in a 10-mile radius. Guitar – violent and aggressive, but still totally accessible and frequently a thing of beauty throughout the record. Clearly worshipping at the throne of Tony Iommi. The solos are out of this world. Riffs are monolithic. Colossal and earthshaking riffs abound. Songwriting – Masters of their craft. Songs have distinct movements but are seamless in transition and execution. This record has it all, and the extra dimension added by have a vocalist that isn’t a one trick pony considerably adds to the charm and listenability of an album that might well be the apogee of American Sludge. There is simply nothing you could add or take away to make this record better.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Behold! The Monolith a stonking 9/10 for an almost perfectly executed offering that is magnificent in every detail apart from a slight tendency to become a little lost in an extended middle passage from time to time. This, however, is a tiny gripe and I feel mean for deducting a mark, as this is the high-water mark for American Sludge Metal and it isn’t going to get any better than this. Totally on my list of top ten records of the year…

Day drinking on a Monday is OK, isn’t it? Wouldn’t want to be a “rancid old alcoholic”…

01. Crown – The Immeasurable Void
02. Psychlopean Dread
03. Spirit Taker
04. This Wailing Blade
05. The Seams Of Pangaea
06. The Stormbreaker Suite

Menno Verbaten – Bass and Vocals 
Matt Price – Guitar
Chase Manhattan – Drums


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.

Aptera – You Can’t Bury What Still Burns

You Can't Bury What Still Burns Album Cover Art

Aptera – You Can’t Bury What Still Burns
Ripple Music

Release Date: 17/06/22
Running Time: 40:00
Review by Paul Hutchings

Based in Berlin, Aptera is a combination of musicians drawn from all over the globe. Well, Italy, Belgium, US, and Brazil to be precise. Named after the site of the battle between the Sirens and the Muses in Greek mythology, Aptera are another all-female band to add to the ever-increasing list of musicians that are now holding their own in the world of Metal. 

With their debut EP released in 2019, now is the hour for their debut release to be unleashed and it’s a decent listen. Combining several styles, it’s almost impossible to pigeon-hole the quartet but a couple of listens throw out influences including Mastodon, Sabbath, Neurosis and even the fine Messa (whose album Close released in March is well worth checking out). 

It’s by no means the finished article, but the rawness and pure energy is part of the appeal. The vocals are at times ragged and yet they work well, bringing a dour, haunting delivery that sits comfortably alongside the heavier, sludgy tracks that dominate the release. ‘Selkies’ for example, switches from up-tempo semi-Thrash to slower, Doom laden segments with ease. There’s some decent guitar work laced across this release, and the thick riffs and powerful rhythm section ensure that the songs are appropriately damaging. 

‘Days of Void’ is pretty much Sabbath worship, but when the song is as compelling as this one, who really cares. Aptera bring heaviness combined with enough variation to make it more than simple adulation. 

Whilst most of the themes in the album centre of mythological tales of rebellion, revenge and rising from the ashes, there can’t be much challenge to the penultimate song. ‘When the Police Murder’ is either a statement about the problems in the US, or outrage at Sting and co for doing damage to ears with their music. I’ll plump for the former. And whilst most songs sit in the short category, averaging around the four-to-five-minute mark, Aptera end ‘You Can’t Bury What Still Burns’ with a gargantuan eight-minute song in ‘Nepenthes’ which switches between frantic speeds and crushingly slow slabs of doom-laden metal. 

It’s not an album that will make my top releases of 2022, yet there is ample to unpick and enjoy. For a debut it stands solid and true, and Aptera are yet another band to put on the list to keep an eye out for in the future. 

‘When The Police Murder’ Official Visualizer Video

01. Voice of Thunder
02. Selkies
03. Mercury
04. Unbearable Stain
05. Cosmosis
06. Days of Void
07. When the Police Murder
08. Nepenthes

Michela Albizzati – Guitar, Vocals 
Celia Paul – Bass, Vocals 
Renata Helm – Guitar, Backing Vocals 
Sara Neidorf – Drums


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings 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.

Las Cruces – Cosmic Tears

Las Cruces – Cosmic Tears
Ripple Music
Release Date: 03/06/2022
Running Time: 59:51

Review by Chris Galea

You know that feeling when you’re in a bustling crowd and yet you hear someone mention your name? Or when you’re passing through a food market and a particularly enticing odour gets you salivating and reels you in towards it? “Cosmic Tears”, the latest album from Las Cruces, sort of works in a similar way… It’s easy for the album to slip by unnoticed, but when you do pick it up you’ll forget everything else.

The D.N.A. of “Cosmic Tears” seems to come from Black Sabbath’s “Master Of Reality” and is as old-school as old-school Doom can get. From that the album morphs into quite a powerful beast. The music ranges from the psychedelic and plodding to the crushingly heavy, but is always played with passion.

As tracks such as ‘Wizard from the North’ or ‘Holy Hell’ indicate, there are monumentally heavy riffs all over the place. Another major selling-point is Mark Zamarron’s voice – powerful and intense… I dare say one of the best in this music niche. 

Even my least favourite tracks are actually still good songs. Sometimes the guitars meander a little bit but that quickly becomes water under the bridge.

Paul DeLeon, Las Cruces’ drummer, passed away a year ago, after having recorded this album. In fact, according to the band, the whole “Cosmic Tears” is being released as a tribute to Paul.

Las Cruces have been releasing, on average, one album every 12 years but when they do release an album they seem to make it well worth the wait. Case in point is “Cosmic Tears”.

‘Cosmic Tears’ Lyric Video:

01. Altar of the Seven Sorrows (instrumental)
02. Cosmic Tears
03. Stay
04. Wizard from the North
05. Reverend Trask
06. Egypt
07. Holy Hell
08. Terminal Drift (instrumental)
09. Relentless
10. The Wraith

Jason Kane – vocals
George Trevino – guitars
Mando Tovar – guitars
Jimmy Bell – bass
Paul DeLeon – drums


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea 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.

Cities Of Mars- Cities Of Mars

Cities Of Mars Album Cover Art

Cities Of Mars- Cities Of Mars
Ripple Music
Release Date: 20/05/2022
Running Time: 33:37
Review by Gaz Bates

Cities Of Mars return with their third installment, carrying on the story of a Soviet astronaut that stumbles upon a civilisation on Mars. This album brings out heavy riffs, air tight rhythm sections, ambient soundscapes and (my favourite part of the album) , the vocals.

Tracks like ‘Before The Storm’ and lead single ‘Towering Graves’ really show off the songwriting and vocal talents of the band. ‘The Prophet’ showcases some great guitar work and towards the end of the song, the drums really take over.

Next up is ‘Song Of A Distant Earth’, my favourite track from this album, an acoustic folk piece, full of storytelling.

‘Dawn Of Light’ and ‘The Dreaming Sky’ pick up the pace and heaviness, with songs that have echoes of early Mastodon and Tool throughout. 

‘Reflected Skyline’ has more great vocal melodies whilst ‘The Black Shard’ closes out the album, a 12-minute prog doom number, a fantastic ending to a fantastic album.

Cities Of Mars have not just made a great sounding album, they have combined storytelling and great songwriting to carry on a mythos around the band.

01. Before The Storm
02. Towering Graves (Osmos)
03. The Prophet (Methusalem)
04. Song Of A Distant Earth (Hathra)
05. A Dawn Of No Light (Chthon)
06. The Dreaming Sky (Anur)
07. Reflected Skyline (Sarraqum)
08. The Black Shard (Bahb – Elon)

Danne Palm – lead vocals, bass, synths
Christoffer Norén – lead vocals, guitar
Johan Aronstedt – backing vocals, drums & percussion, sound FX


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Gaz Bates 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.

Obsidian Sea – Pathos

Pathos Album Cover Art

Obsidian Sea – Pathos
Ripple Music
Release Date: 04/02/22
Running Time: 39:52
Review by Dark Juan

I don’t know what to do with myself. The weather outside is no longer trying to kill me. I went out with the Smellhounds this morning and there were no wheelie bins flying past me that will be needing to go on speed awareness courses, no refusal to go out from Rear-Admiral Sir Zeusington-Zeus (KCVG, VC, DFC and Bar, Order of The Red Banner, Croix de Guerre), even when he was desperate for a shit and especially no plastic bottles trying to brain me. Instead, I walked past a skip that had the contents of a house clear out in it and managed to snatch up a decent copy of Iron Maiden’s “Dance Of Death” for absolutely no money whatsoever. I am contemplating going back for the Counting Crows CD I saw, but I probably won’t because a) I am fundamentally lazy, and b) Counting Crows are a bit shit really.

It was ironic that when I was writing this review (and the paragraph above, at the time when Blighty was suffering from the kind of wind that I normally produce after a healthy breakfast of California Reaper chillies), there technically was not a website for these words to be posted on. Head Honcho General Field-Marshal Beth “One Inch Closer, Buster, And You’ll Be Wearing Your Balls As Earrings” Jones (she was quite cross at this point and by no means the usual delightful fairy she normally is), undertook a bit of a revamp, which, being as I am a libertine and enthusiast of mind altering substances and not an IT expert, I can only believe involved a large amount of twitching bottoms, incipient panic and a serious case of brown trousers time if it all went wrong. In which case, it was wonderful to write for you all. Actually, I’m lying. I don’t even LIKE Heavy Metal and you’re all longhaired Herbert’s and drug addicts and you’ll be going to hell faster than Glenn Danzig’s favourite cum sock. Also, tattoos suck. And piercings mean you have given your souls to Satan [they followed your punctuation – ED]. 

Repent, you pricks and ask Almighty God for forgiveness, before it is too late and you damn your souls to Hell for eternity and you find yourself being probed in ungentlemanly manners by shaggy hooved demons with tridents. Which is uncomfortable even if you’re a fan of double penetration.

Or you could completely ignore the above and give yourself the aural treat of listening to the fourth album from Bulgarian Progressive Proto-Rockers Obsidian Sea. “Pathos” is its name and it is spinning on the Deck of Death as we speak…

First off, what do these three fine gentlemen sound like? On the opening song ‘Lament The Death Of Wonder’ the first thing that strikes my educated lugholes is how much the vocal harmonies and especially the lead performance of Anton Avramov remind me of Psychotic Waltz circa “A Social Grace”. This should not be taken as a demerit because ‘Another Prophet Song’ is one of Dark Juan’s all-time favourites. The band (being a power trio) have a sound that is best described as Classic Rock and Metal, crossed with a strong Progressive and Psychedelic component. This album is fucking massively groovy and can be described as a Very Good Thing indeed. ‘Lament The Death Of Wonder’ sets the store for the album in magical fashion, reminding this listener of an interesting mélange of Wolfmother, Lucid Sins, Friendship, Lucifer and Red Spektor in sound. Throw in a bit of the more esoteric moments of Hawkwind in there as well and you have an intoxicating mix of styles that references Classic Rock and Metal yet still sounds incredibly vibrant, fresh and accessible. ‘I Love The Woods’ opens on a simple clean riff that then breaks into a gently distorted version of it, but the music is languid and fluid and is allowed to breathe. Where Obisidian Sea triumph is that they allow fucking NOTHING TO INTERFERE WITH THE MAJESTY OF THE GROOVE. The groove is all. Everything is groovy in the world of Obsidian Sea and Dark Juan is all about being the grooviest groovemeister the world has ever seen. Elongated bridges and movements abound and middle eights happily become middle thirty-twos in the finest tradition of Prog Rock and Psychedelic expressionism, yet nothing outstays its welcome. Indeed, the only negative point so far is that there is no cowbell. Everything needs more cowbell.

The production of this record is punchy as hell as well. The bass rumbles the old derriere in splendid fashion and the sound of the drums (apart from the floor tom – more on that later) and cymbals are well balanced, with nothing overpowering the other instruments. The soloing of Mr. Avramov on the guitar is also worthy of your attention, because when he rips he is a supple, fluid and incendiary soloist. The vocal harmonies are also just magical and the whole album just has riffs for fucking days, mate. The choppy, stop-start, ultra-chonky riffing on ‘The Long Drowning’ is just so…. Magnificent, when taken with the obvious vocal talents of these three fine Bulgarian gentlemen on their harmonies. And they are able to pick up their metaphorical skirts and give their instruments a bloody good, judicious spanking when they want to as well.

The opening riff to ‘Sisters’ stood out to me as well because it sounded like a half-speed Coheed and Cambria song. I think it was ‘The Crowing’, but this morphed quickly into a hairy-arsed Blues Rock riff of some seismic significance, before this bunch of Bulgarian musical miscreants chucked in some acid infused Stoner and Psychedelic influences, and then, in the middle eight, threw in a Doom Metal, mogadon slow riff overlaying some serious fuzz and phaser-wah shenanigans during the solo.

I think it’s safe to say I am a bit of a fan of Obsidian Sea based on the experience of this album. Discerning listeners who enjoy Lucifer and Lucid Sins and Blood Ceremony might well find this record to their considerable advantage. I’m fucking loving it, baby. Any band that worships at the Temple of The Groovy wins a fan in Dark Juan. And Obsidian Sea are High Priests of The Groove.  Everything on this record has been done right as well. The song arrangements are good, the lyrics excellent for non-native English speakers, the production on the money – apart from a curious flat spot on the low floor tom that makes tub-thumper Bozhidar Parvanov sound like he is employing an inventive and experimental new method of hitting it, by the simple expedient of using a recently defrosted cod, or some other kind of equally flaccid white fish substitute rather than a drumstick. However, this is extreme nit-picking, because I have to find something to criticize, because after all I am a critic. As in someone who writes about something because he can’t fucking do it himself.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Патентованата система за оценка на пръски кръв от Dark Juan for our Bulgarian friends) offers itself humbly to the service of the High Priests of The Groove that are Obsidian Sea with a stonking 9/10 for a sublime Psychedelic Rock and Metal hybrid album that beguiles, charms and seduces in the most unseemly manner. Sex wee. Sex wee fucking everywhere. Again. Buy this record.

01. Lament The Death Of Wonder
02. The Long Drowning
03. Sisters
04. Mythos
05. The Revenants
06. I Love The Woods
07. The Meaning Of Shadows

Anton Avramov – Guitars and Vocals
Delyan Karaivanov – Bass and Backing Vocals
Bozhidar Parvanov – Drums


Obsidian Sea Promo Pic

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.

Moon Coven – Slumber Wood

Slumber Wood Album Cover Art

Moon Coven – Slumber Wood
Ripple Music
Released Date: 07/05/2021
Running Time: 41:53
Review by Dark Juan

Hey up, chaps and chapesses and people of all other genders. It is I, Dark Juan, and I am back after a brief sojourn into the darkest recesses of my sewer-like mind and you are all going to spend the next ten minutes being bored out of your tiny little minds as I follow the usual well-worn path of tortured metaphors, exuberant frothing, rage, talking about my dogs as if any of you actually cared and some wholly made-up shit about me and mine. Probably. Anyhow, you have actually taken the time to read this and for that I thank you. There’s apparently some of you out there who like reading this absolute drivel I spew out on a semi-regular basis. Weirdos…

So, here we are, ensconced comfortably in Dark Juan Terrace, with the Dread Lord Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover doing his usual guard dog duties of shouting at EVERY SINGLE FUCKING PASSER-BY that goes past the house and trying to get me to fight with him (Igor is a French Bulldog of some 11 kilos in weight and is about as useful as a guard dog as a kettle made out of chocolate apart from the shouting and a serious case of small man syndrome, but fucking LOVES a good rumble with me) while the other two smellhounds snooze their afternoon away and Mrs. Dark Juan chortles quietly to herself while she creates some other mentally disturbing doll, or shapeshifting hare, or some other mad shit she finds cute but everyone else is justifiably scared of, and I listen to my sadly neglected review list. Today’s offering is from Swedish psychedelic doom merchants Moon Coven, a four-piece from Stockholm. For some reason I had to REALLY fight the urge to write Croydon, and I have no idea why this was a) funny as fuck to me, and b) why the urge was so powerful.

I am normally suspicious of a band describing themselves as psychedelic doom, as this normally means long drawn-out jams of a single riff for twenty minutes with lashings of fuzz and phaser wah and little in the way of actual music until the last fifteen seconds of the tune where everyone suddenly emerges from their weed-induced haze and clatters everything in sight before declaring it a wrap and proceeding to get even more baked. Thankfully, Moon Coven appear to have avoided that trap and seem to be rather more with it. Opening track ‘Further’ starts us off with a repeating riff that really doesn’t break any new stoner/doomy ground yet is still pretty fucking laid back and cool, but it is the voice of David Leban that is worthy of note. Not for this gentleman is the guttural roar or the relaxed drawl of, say, Master Charger or Thunder Horse, respectively. No, Dave (hereby yet again proving my theory that no matter where in the world a popular beat combo comes from, there has always been a Dave in a band. Even Japanese ones) comes from the school of Ozzy-esque impassioned wailing and emotive clean singing. This is to the band’s benefit because an acid-fuelled gritty growl would not work with the chilled grooves.

‘Eye Of The Night’ is probably the standout track on the record, with oodles of groove and a very cool twin guitar middle eight and the soaring voice of Dave bringing it all together in a satisfyingly complete whole. Fuck me, that sounds rude. I bet when Admiral Of The Fleet General Sir Richard “Run Out Of Things To Say Have You, You Northern Twatmonkey, So You’re Relying On Smut? Get Your Nose Back To The Grindstone Otherwise I Shall Send An Attack Beth And I’ll Only Need One” Tilley reads this there will be tea spurted everywhere from his nostrils and if there isn’t I’m going to be sorely disappointed (There was – Rick!!!). Nevertheless, let us discount my amusement at the thought of our Great Leader fountaining hot beverages from both nostrils and return to what I’m actually SUPPOSED to be doing… ‘A Tower Of Silence’ is a slow drawn-out groove, with slightly less distortion on the guitars and a more bass-led sound that borders on shoegaze with a deceptively simple riff that is slowly built on to form a complex, sinuous song that beguiles rather than bludgeons – this sense of light and dark is what sets Moon Coven apart from most of their contemporaries, who do have a tendency to just stick to the same stoner blueprint. ‘…Silence’ builds in an unhurried fashion and the phased psychedelic solo is a joy to hear, even in the shitty cans I’m wearing and leads into ‘Bahgsu Nag’ which conforms much more to the doom and stoner blueprint, with superfuzz guitar and a languid, relaxed central riff, until we hit the middle eight and then there is a dreamy, creamy, Eastern influenced part which is just gorgeous before the band crash heavily back into the central riff.

The production of the record is actually very good, considering it has a rather bass heavy sound. The cymbals have clarity and cut cleanly through the soupy, heavy guitar and bass combo and this record has an exceedingly rare thing – a snare drum sound I actually like. Snare drums normally sound like Lars Ulrich hitting upturned soup tureens (I’ll never not hate “St. Anger”) or are so far forward in the mix they rattle your fillings. The snare is perfectly placed in the mix and for this I am profoundly grateful. My only complaint is that the bass drum is almost inaudible because of the treacly thickness of the bass guitar. The fuzz appears to have run away with Moon Coven somewhat, but these are minor gripes from a shitty ex-musician who’s only really jealous, actually.

In conclusion – this is a damned fine psychedelic doom metal record, with Sabbathian vibes, mountainous riffs and a fine singer. However, it doesn’t bring anything new to what is becoming an oversaturated genre, and this is why it has dropped marks. The musicianship and songwriting are top fucking drawer though and for a long road trip on a hot summer night you could do a lot fucking worse. The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Det patenterade värderingssystemet Dark Juan blodstänk – that last word is crying out for a trad metal band to nick it) awards Moon Coven a very acceptable 8/10. A splendid effort, gentlemen.

‘Further’ (Official Video)

01. Further
02. Ceremony
03. Gibekli Tepe (Potbelly Hill)
04. Eye Of The Night
05. A Tower Of Silence
06. Bahgsu Nag
07. Seagull
08. My Melting Mind

Fredrik Dahlqvist – Drums
Axel Ganhammar – Guitars
Justin Boyesen – Guitars
David Leban – Vocals, Guitars


Moon Coven Promo Pic

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.

Void Vator – Great Fear Rising

Great Fear Rising Album Cover Art

Void Vator – Great Fear Rising
Ripple Music
Release Date: 23/04/2021
Running Time: 32:31
Review by Simon Black

You know once in a while, records come across the ether from bands I’ve never heard of, that absolutely blow my socks off. This is one of them, categorically and unequivocally.

Void Vator have been at this for a good seven years or so and despite having to recover from the challenge of losing the physical Californian presence of their drummer Moura to a USA Visa / immigration issue, seem to have channelled some of that frustration into one of the more interesting and punchy records I have heard in a while (although he’s still in there folks, thanks to the marvel of remote recording). Despite being at it since 2014, this is also only their sophomore album. At thirty-two minutes it’s short, it’s sweet, but it definitely packs a bloody powerful punch. Like everyone else, the pandemic has royally screwed with their plans, but unlike many other bands forced into remote writing and recording this baby does not lose one ounce of energy along the way and it was a problem they already had to address after Moura could no longer remain locally to the rest of the band, giving them a head start on the challenge everyone else has had to adapt to.

Musically, this is mostly high tempo Heavy Fucking Metal in the highly accessible American Modern Metal style, which flows that American Punk energy with a deep, long snort of metallic Rock’n’Roll that usually comes from a deep love of the likes of Motörhead, but whose parents lived through the Sunset Strip years and left the records behind to prove it. The energy is palpable and reflected in songs that largely fly by in three short minutes or so with a fast, but not excessively heavy delivery style and vocals from Lucas Kanopa that lean towards the clean but equally dirty style that means they are a band that could just cross a few aisles and get a wider audience if they can get their message out. That message is one of tightly executed and well-crafted song-writing, slathered in blisteringly raw but technically exquisite musically delivery.

That of course is the problem for so many acts right now. At this stage of their career the boys need high profile support slots to tell the world they are there, because if this record does not get listened to by a larger bunch of new listeners it’s going to be a damned shame. Upbeat, up-tempo and up your nostrils, with enough sleaze to maintain credibility but the musical chops to raise eyebrows positively, this is darned fine and refreshing stuff. So read this, buy this and make it fucking happen for them. If you don’t fucking mind…!

‘I Can’t Take It’ (Official Video)

01. I Can’t Take It
02. I Want More
03. There’s Something Wrong With Us
04. Losing Control
05. Great Fear Rising
06. McGyver’s Mullet
07. Encounter
08. Poltergeist
09. Infierno

Sam Harman – Bass
German Moura – Drums
Erik Kluiber – Guitars
Lucas Kanopa – Guitars & Vocals


Void Vator Promo Pic. Credit Nikkie Marie Kephartv
Photo Credit: Nikkie Marie Kephartv

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

Thunder Horse – Chosen One

Chosen One Album Cover Art

Thunder Horse – Chosen One
Ripple Music
Release Date: 12/03/2021
Running Time: 54:17
Review by Dark Juan

It is 10:42 in the morning at Dark Juan Terrace and for some unaccountable reason I am a) awake, b) already walked the hellhounds and c) cowering in fear at the great shiny hot yellow thing in the sky because yesterday it was grey and snowing and absolutely more suited to the black gloom and morbid humour that normally characterizes my days rather than the superheated ball of gases and minerals that some folk bizarrely like to cook themselves under on the beach. I don’t like beaches. Sand is gravely inconvenient and more than a little unpleasant. Especially in crevices. In mitigation of the horror of the colossal ball of fire trying to kill me with its rays, the moors above my little village look absolutely fucking stunning in their beauty and wild, barren charm with the sun shining on them. So, it is with unaccustomed good cheer and more than a little pleasant bonhomie I present to you the latest collection of pithy platitudes and tortured metaphors that constitute the bulk of my pathetic ramblings about people with actual talent doing marvellous things and entertaining me mightily while I am a snarky bastard about their art.

Today, it is Thunder Horse being given the dubious benefit of my attention while I accompany them with a splendid bucket of Yorkshire’s finest tea and Hodgson Fartpants (number three furry son) basking in the rays streaming through the window and emitting the kind of smells that would have you up on charges of crimes against humanity in The Hague in next to no time if the CIA hadn’t bought the rights to his anal emanations for use against banana republic leaders first.

So, Thunder Horse are an American band hailing from Texas and are fronted by a man whose primary musical bent is industrial metal, being one Stephen Bishop, frontman of Pitbull Daycare. Thunder Horse has absolutely FUCK ALL to do with industrial metal, so get that idea out of your pretty little heads now. Thunder Horse play a peculiar hybrid of superdoom mixed with proggy elements and a fair bit of psychedelia and you will be no doubt unsurprised to hear that it’s right up my perverted and poorly lit street. Abandon hope all ye who enter here…

I have to say that the production on this album is absolutely sublime. I can hear everything perfectly. Normally doom metal sounds like the entire band have been recorded while they have been immersed in oxtail soup with croutons. This production is absolutely crystal clear (mixing done by Caleb Bingham and mastering by Joe Bozzi) right down to the single, quiet china hits on softer passages, yet maintaining such a huge sound that it’s like a wall of steel hitting you at 800 miles an hour. It’s not so much sound, as a weapon designed to reduce your flesh to liquid and your bones to a strange jellylike substance. And the riffs. OH, THE FUCKING RIFFS. Black Sabbath meets a bit of Jane’s Addiction, who’s been knocking off Pink Floyd and Cromagnon whilst simultaneously courting Mountain, Crowbar and Deep Purple in their darker moments make for an intoxicating mix of elements for the seasoned metal veteran to enjoy. And a slightly worrying mental image. The bass (by Mr. Dave Crow – hereby confirming my theory that EVERY band has had a Dave in them at some point) is a fuzz fuelled, rumbling beast bent on evisceration, the drums (Jason “Shakes” West) not unlike a titanic, explosive belching war machine stomping entire companies of men flat in its inexorable desire to reach you and stomp you out of existence and the guitars similar to armoured, flailing beasts with adamantium tipped claws disembowelling their foes with snarling precision. The solos of T.C. Connally are just fucking awesome as is all the guitar work on the record.

The music is also superb. The songwriting is fucking expert level and the lead vocal engaging and easy to listen to, as Stephen Bishop has a voice not unlike a mélange of Ozzy, Kirk Windstein and Dave Winegum (sorry, Wyndorf. Mrs Dark Juan and her penchant for ruining metal has always called the Monster Magnet frontman Dave Winegum and it has kind of stuck. She managed to turn the lyrics of the chorus to Ghost’s ‘Year Zero’ from “Welcome to Year Zero” to “Welcome to New Zealand”. The shit I go through for the love of metal, I tell you…) and this is the perfect mix for a doom vocalist, rather than the roaring battle machines that are normally employed.

There is a weak point, however, and that is ‘Texas’. Saying it’s a weak point is a bit churlish, but an acoustic, wah dripping paean to your home state sidles perilously close to Dark Juan’s pathological hatred of ballads and his penchant for dropping marks off scores because ballads utterly fucking ruin the magic of metal records. I mean, who, when they are happily being plastered against the opposite wall of their room by a concentrated and lethal wall of sound, wants to suddenly drop to the floor in a boneless heap while some long haired twat wails about their lost love/ being on the road all the time/ drink/ drugs/ drink AND drugs/ their home/ the 15-year-old groupie they shouldn’t have touched/ their pet fucking hamster over some delicately plucked acoustic guitar? Not me, buster. Otherwise, the music is absolute motherfucking savagery in aural form. The arrangements are uncommonly powerful and the performance absolutely top notch in execution. I particularly enjoyed the progressive elements and the way they integrated into the heaviness, providing a counterpoint to the power with melody, Hammond organs and musicianship and the simple acid fuelled joy of psychedelia.

I can’t give you any stand out tracks because the quality is so fucking extremely high, although opener ‘Let Them Bleed’ should be ranked among one of the most venomous statements of intent I have ever heard. Touches of Sir Lord Baltimore and Cream and Hendrix creep out of the background of songs and lodge themselves in your subconscious – they even use a fucking voicebox on bonus track and ode to the joy of metal that is ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’ and this sends goosebumps down the spine and reminds you of the time when Aerosmith were amazing (circa 1972) and rock and metal were expansive and exploratory.

There’s also a bonus and extended version of ‘Texas’. This is a much better and more cohesive version than the version earlier on the record and reminds me greatly of the wonderful Hawkwind’s ‘Hurry On Sundown’ and bizarrely, hints of The Mamas and The Papas. Thunder Horse have redeemed themselves with what actually has turned out to be a mighty fine psychedelic little acoustic number, rather than a pants wettingly awful unplugged lighter waver.

Well done, gentlemen, well done indeed. Dark Juan is a Thunder Horse convert. You magnificent bastards.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (y’all) awards Thunder Horse a stonking 10/10 for a fucking monster of a record that it will be singing happily along to in its grave.

‘Let Them Bleed’ (Official Video)

01. Let Them Bleed
02. Among The Dead
03. Rise Of The Heathens
04. Chosen One
05. Broken Dreams
06. Song For The Ferryman
07. Texas
08. Halfway To Hell
09. Remembrance
10. Dear Mr. Fantasy (Bonus Track)
11. Texas (Extended Version)

Stephen Bishop – Guitar/Vocals
T.C. Connally – Lead Guitar
Dave Crow – Bass
Jason “Shakes” West – Drums


Thunder Horse Promo Pic

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.