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  I want to introduce to you Athena, the Crowgrrl!

*Whitechapel’s “Mark of the Blade” (Metal Blade Records) serves not only as a celebration of the band’s 10th Anniversary, but also as a show of appreciation for their long-time fans. However, for those of you who may be picking this up for the first time, it’s also a fantastic introduction for new listeners. Although the band’s music is clearly Metal, it’s impossible to categorize it further as it blurs the lines between the myriad subgenres.

“It’s the most dynamic record we’ve done, in the sense that one song can be very aggressive while the next one will be softer and sentimental,” guitarist Alex Wade commented. “I think it’s great that we have opened up our sound to just write and play whatever we think sounds good. If it’s soft and has clean singing who cares as long as it’s a good song? I would rather do that than be closed-minded and stick to only the ‘extreme’ side of metal.”

Vocalist Phil Bozeman adds, “I honestly don’t think that we ever have to prove anything to anyone, we do this because we enjoy it, and if people want to listen and support us, that’s just a bonus,” says Bozeman. “With this record we knew what we didn’t want to do. We wanted to get away from the faster stuff, because we’re burned out on that 260bpm blastbeat thing. We’ve done that. Ultimately none of us agree with genre pigeon-holing, and we’re not afraid to write what we want to write, no matter what anyone else thinks.”

Hailing from Tennessee, Whitechapel is: vocalist Phil Bozeman, bassist Gabe Crisp, drummer Ben Harclerode, and guitarists Ben Savage, Zach Householder, and the aforementioned Alex Wade. The band’s moniker, as you may surmise, comes from the London district that was historically stalked by Jack the Ripper.

The apocalyptic super-nova of a song, “The Void”, starts the album off with a fiery intensity. The “Mark of the Blade” title track evokes Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror. The triple guitar threat is very impressive in the arrogant, genocidal “Elitist Ones”. My personal favorite on the album is the ominous “Bring Me Home” – who knew anything so Dark could shine so brightly?

“Tremors” is indeed strong enough to bring about a seismic catastrophe. “A Killing Industry” is completely over-the-edge…a proverbial slaughterhouse. The brilliant guitars belie the anguish and turmoil in “Tormented”.

The instrumental “Brotherhood” calls to the soul. A tortured soul faces lurking evil in “Dwell In The Shadows”. The percussion steals the show in “Venomous”, a true viper attack! (The guitar solo is reminiscent of a snake charmer). “Decennium” sparkles like a black diamond.

I’m loving this album! It’s already earned a spot in my personal Heavy Rotation stack.


*I always have been, and probably always will be a KISS fan. Even to the point where when my family adopts a rescue case animal, we always fill the first day here with KISS playing in the background as we take them for treats and stuff, where they always from that point forward equate KISS music with goodness and fun happening in their lives. That said, I could not wait to get my hands on the graphic novel “KISS: The Elder Vol. 1 – World Without Sun” (Dynamite Comics).

Writer: Amy Chu. Artist: Kewber Baal. Lettering: Troy Peteri. Color: Schimerys Baal.

The official synopsis is: “In a world without sun and a world without heroes, four young friends embark on a dangerous mission – to uncover the truth about the mysterious Council of Elders and their underground home, the City of Blackwell. But first they need the help of four mysterious figures from their past: The Starchild, The Demon, The Spaceman, and The Catman”.

A futuristic war destroyed the environment, driving humanity underground – salvaging what they could of human history.

Red-haired twins Eran and Noa know there must be more to the world than the underground cit of Blackwell. They want to visit the surface world, and show a probable map of how to get there to their friends Adi and Alex. They sneak through the air ducts and find a secret farm where crops are grown to sustain the populace. That triggers security alarms, so they flee to what appears to be an abandoned sanctuary. They keep seeing iconic symbols easily recognizable to KISS fans.

They awake an electronic entity called Morpheus – which is Blackwell’s original operating system. Morpheus not only teaches the teens the true history of the city, but also connects them to the original protective Avatars. You guessed it: Demon, Starchild, Catman, and Spaceman.

They are warned, “Blackwell is in trouble. The master program has slowly been corrupted. Humanity is headed on the wrong path. If the course is not corrected, everything and everyone will be destroyed.”

From there, the city’s Council of Elders – with a very dark secret of their own – have local law enforcement track down and stop the teens. However, the kids discover a very deadly secret…….

This one is a fun nail-biter, thrilling but with a distinct soundtrack evident even though this is a book. You can seriously hear the music in your mind’s eye and ear.

Personally, I can’t wait for the next installment. This one certainly left it at a frustrating cliff hanger. (Oh, HELL NO, they’re not gonna leave the story here?!)

*I absolutely LOVE Light of the Morning Star’s debut release, “Nocta” (Iron Bonehead Records). It celebrates all things Nocturnal, including Vampirism, Necromancy, and the Dark Arts. Excellent musicianship provides a starry backdrop for the deep, luscious black satin vocals.

What’s really surprising is that this is all performed by one man: the mysterious entity only known as O-A. The music is a hypnotic mix of deathrock, molten doom, and atmospheric black metal. A total dark musical masterpiece!

Nocta’s title track starts things off with funerary keyboards – the excellent symphonic song progresses into exploring nocturnal mysteries with a hint of Vampiric sexiness. I love both the whispered and clean vox in “Coffinwood”, this hypnotic song puts the Romance back into Necromancy. The venomous “Serpent Lanterns” totally Rocks!!!

The ominous funerary procession of “Grey Carriages” shows otherworldy beings collecting newly released souls. The brilliant “Crescentlight” has us dancing under the moon’s glow. The poisonous “Oleander Halo” combines the danger of a toxic plant with the influence of the Angel of Death.

The powerful “Ophidian” is inescapably captivating! “Lord of All Graves” is pure bone-chilling. I adore the catchy “Five Point Star” which honors the pentagram.

This surprisingly wonderful album that hints on but defies genres immediately made its way into my personal heavy rotation stack. I can’t sing its praises enough!

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