French Progressive Metal Band SPHERES New Album Helios Out Now!

– Jonathan Lino (vocals, guitar)
– Olivier Moreau (guitar, backing vocals)
– Clémence Santé (bass)
– Jesse Haddad (drums)
– Marco Walczak (keyboards)

The new SPHERES album Helios takes you on a spiritual journey into a dystopian world. The music is a magical fusion of hazy, ambient, and at times turbulent progressive metal. SHERES, follows hot on the heels of their highly praised debut album Iono which the band supported across Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and their home country of France. The video for Spiritual Journey is an intricate meld of atmospheric vocals and trippy psychedelic imagery. The lyrics are both cryptic and telling riddles with pain and self discovery. Their sophomore album does not disappoint.

About 3 years after the release of their very-well welcomed debut full-length effort ‘IONO’ (2019), French Progressive Metallers SPHERES have released their sophomore album Helioson CD, LP & Digital through M & O Music & Spinoza Records.

Founded at the end of the year 2017 by Jonathan Lino (composer/singer/guitarist), French progressive-metal band SPHERES released its debut full-length album on 2019 with‘IONO’ very well received by both critics and public.

Stream Or Buy Helios Here

Track Listing:

02.Spiritual Journey
06.Running Man
07.Take Me Higher, Ailleurs
08.Do You Agree

Spheres Online


Cannibal Corpse, Dark Funeral, Immolation, Black Anvil – Toronto Show Review Nov 6, 2022

Written By Timothy Voldemars Johnston

Standing on my balcony yesterday as the sun set, gazing upon a sky on fire, I knew this night was going to be something special. There was just something in the air and I was not disappointed.

It took me about 45 minutes to get downtown to the Danforth Music Hall, as traffic sucked, as usual when I am trying to actually get somewhere on time. I missed the opening band. I will say however, that I have seen Black Anvil several times and… not my type of music, so not a big deal for me. I heard good things from people standing outside though. I’m assuming they were appreciated by those who did get to see them. I did however get there just in time to witness the mighty Immolation.

Immolation is tied with Deicide for being my favorite Death Metal band of all time so, I would have been very angry if I had missed any of their set (even though Ive seen them only a couple months earlier at the Velvet Underground. They are a band I will always try to see, no matter how often they tour and did they ever destroy this night. Wow! What a pummeling, steamrolling, crushing performance. While not my favorite performance ever from them it was definitely up there. I had some trouble making out the riffs, and that was unfortunate, but it was great to see them in front of such a huge crowd getting the appreciation they deserve. My only regret is that they only played for 30 minutes. But did they ever put a lot into those 30 minutes.

Many who know me understand Im not a huge fan of Death Metal in general. It’s just not my thing. But somehow this band hits me different. They create such an amazing and unique atmosphere with their music. Their guitarist, Robert Vigna, is probably in my top 5 favorite guitarists of all time. His leads
are just perfection in my opinion.

After Immolation ended and a bunch of people moved back from the front, I moved up a bit with my buddy to get a better spot to witness what was to follow. The reason I came to this show. The lights went down, the stage went red, and out marched the Ineffable Kings of Darkness, Dark Funeral. I immediately had flashbacks to when we, Eclipse Eternal, opened for them at the Opera House in 2007, the first time I ever saw them. A smile, teeth showing, crept onto my face. I knew what was to come.
Raging, blistering fast, raw yet melodic, memorable Black Metal. And that is what they delivered. No holds barred, they owned the stage. Definitely the best performance I’ve ever seen by them and the audience was won over. Screams, cheers and horns up after every song. I will admit, I was a little concerned that this audience, which was obviously mostly Death Metal fans, would not appreciate the offering provided, but I was happily surprised. When, near the end of their set, Dark Funeral’s newest singer waved their black banner, the audience erupted in applause and my night was made.

After they left the stage, I headed outside to get some much-needed air and to cool down as it was hotter than hell in the venue. 1,500 (?) people packed into the venue was a lot. Definitely the biggest metal concert I’d been to in a very long time.

Outside, I met up with a Toronto Metal stalward, Beast! Back when I first started playing shows, many years ago, Beast had been at almost every show and knew everyone. Then he disappeared for a couple years. Took Cannibal Corpse to bring him back out. Was good catching up. Then back inside I went. I found my buddy again, this time much further back and on came the headliner Cannibal Corpse. Now, I will fully admit, I’m not a big fan (see earlier where I said I wasn’t really into Death Metal). I really only like a couple songs by them, and those are the really old ones, so, of what I saw, I will say, live, they are amazing at what they do and the audience went absolutely wild for them.

The pit was crazy. The band played with pure conviction and based on the reaction of everyone around me, I’ll say they did exactly what everyone wanted. I stayed around for several songs, got to hear one of my favorites, and then took off to the sound of wild cheering and craziness continuing behind me. Now that’s a metal show. First sold-out concert I’ve been to in many years. Definitely one to remember.


Amigo the DEVIL – Oct 31 Concert Review

Written By Timothy Voldemars Johnston

What a crazy show. Bizarre, moving, infuriating, hilarious, dark, hot as hell and wild. I’ve never been to a show quite like it. Let me go back to the beginning.

I got there almost an hour early. There was already a line outside Lee’s Palace, of maybe 50 people. It was spitting cold waves of light, almost mist-like rain. After what seemed like forever, now cold, wet and feeling like I might have made the wrong decision about coming out. he lineup, which was now significantly longer, finally started moving. It was a slow process, but I finally got in, after getting carded LOL!

I immediately go to the merch area and grab a CD from the opener, Willi Carlisle, who is
sitting at the desk (I didn’t recognize him in his Halloween costume, which was a demented looking Hobo clown), and then grabbed an Amigo the Devil CD.

The venue starts to really fill up at this point. I get to a spot I like, and the wait began. More and more people pack in. It’s an odd mix of people for sure. Lots of hipster types, some really normal-looking folks and a smattering of goths and metalheads. Some people are dressed up, but I’d say less than a quarter of the people there and I’m not dressed up either. Just didn’t feel it this year. For the first time ever. Whatever.

After an hour of standing there all wet and clammy Im beginning to getting really warmed up with the HUNDREDS of people who showed up for the show. I’m not pleased.

Finally, the lights go low and out comes Willi. Now, I didn’t know what to expect.
I had only heard his music for the first time the day of the show. Country with a dark edge, but still, very country, twang and all. I did however like what I had heard (which is why I got the cd). So, he comes out, dressed as the clown I had bought the CD from and it’s just him. Alone. His only instruments are a harmonica, a hand thingy, an acoustic guitar, an accordian and I believe a bango made an appearance at one point. Now, I’m not sure if it was just the heat, but both the musicians performing tonight totally reminded me of comedians I really like. Willi reminded me of the late great Chris Farley from SNL, if Chris was to do dark Country, lol. It was super fascinating to watch his mannerisms
and for whatever reason, it totally worked. Especially with him dressed as a clown. For the most part, I really enjoyed his set. A great mix of dark American folk tunes and older style dark country, mixed with lots of off-beat humor. Great voice. My only criticism was his bringing politics into it. I didn’t come to hear about someone’s politics. Regardless of whether I agree with them or not. This show in particular isn’t the place, and that bothered me. Still, overall, I was impressed. Lots of charisma.

Then it was Amigo’s turn. He had a whole band with him, and they were all dressed as demented, bloody, psychotic looking, nuns, and they were on fire! Going from heavy as Hell songs, to super depressing songs, to funny songs and back without any drop in energy at all. The banter in between songs was just perfectly off kilter and definitely lent to the authenticity of the performances.

Every member of the band played like they loved what they were doing, just totally into it. It’s really rare, to see a band enjoying themselves as much as the audience, but this was it. The demented sing-a-long parts were just amazing. The highlight being the sing-a-long of “Life’s just a Joke and Death is the punchline” which totally summed up the whole night and, again, not sure if this was just my overheated brain, but I swear Amigo live is like a mix of Carlos Mencia, Fluffy (Gabrial Iglesias) and Mitch Hedberg (three of my favorite comedians) if they performed dark as hell death folk/country music. He had jokes just like they would make (not rip offs of course, but ones that you could see all of them making) and the mannerisms were just all there. It was hilarious and totally worked with the music.

The only really dark part of their performance was when the singer was telling a super sad, emotional story of a friend’s untimely demise and a member of the audience started heckling him. Not sure of all the things said, but from what I heard, it was super disrespectful. I did hear him at one point yell “Thrash Metal” and “just play the song”…amongst some other things I won’t write. The audience turned on the guy really quick, lots of yelling and after Amigo just said screw it, didn’t finish the story and started playing and there was a bunch of yelling and shoving by the crazy guy and Amigo actually stopped the set and jumped into the audience to escort the crazy person out of the building. Once Amigo got back on stage, it took a bit for me to get into the show, as I was upset and felt embarrassed for him, like I felt really,
really bad for him, as his story was obviously very painful to recall, but the audience roared their appreciation with waves of applause and cheering that wouldn’t stop which turned the situation around and saved the show. Amigo rallied and put on an amazing performance right until the end. One show I will never forget. If you get a chance to see them live,
do it.


An Evening With WARDRUNA

Photo Credit Wardruna’s Website

Wardruna Review Written By Timothy Voldemars Johnston

Wardruna is a Norwegian music constellation dedicated to creating musical renditions of ancient Norse and Nordic traditions. use a broad selection of both traditional and historical Nordic instruments. Non-traditional instruments and other sources of sound such as trees, stones, bones, water and fire are used to enhance the nature of the theme being portrayed.

As a live band Wardruna operates in various constellations of personnel but the standard configuration the last few years has been:

  • Einar Selvik – Vocals, Taglharpa, Kravik-lyre, Bukkehorn
  • Lindy-Fay Hella – Vocals 
  • Arne Sandvoll – Percussion, Backing vocals
  • Eilif Gundersen – Bukkehorn, Lur, Flute, Backing vocals
  • HC Dalgaard – Drums, Percussion, Backing vocals
  • John Stenersen – Mora-harp

The day started as most others. Up at 6am, before the Sun even thinks of rising, and at work by 7. Nothing new there. Rainy and cold and unpleasant. Unlike my usual days, this day held the promise of magic. Of course, because the magic wasn’t to begin until the evening, the day felt double as long. The work day finally ended at 4, and I was to pick up two of my closet friends in Etobicoke and head through the absolute mess that is Downtown Toronto. Through the concrete tomb I drove, bumper to bumper, through miles of construction and bad drivers I traversed white knuckled. Finally, at 7pm, we arrived at our destination, the Meridian Hall. Flashbacks of being here just a few weeks ago for Heilung bring some energy to the walk over and in front of the venue we meet up with two more of my closet friends (both of whom had never heard of Wardruna and were going into this on my recommendation only). Then we’re all in. The place is packed, the energy is popping. The sound of people excitedly talking fills the “lobby”. We head downstairs to find the washrooms and I bump into another friend (Inertia entertainment, the host of the show) and we chat for a bit. He heads off and then back upstairs we go. The heat builds, and I’m back outside into the cold. As if it was meant to be, outside I run into my old Black Metal brother in arms Mark Howitt (Wolven Ancestry, NordiKult). After talking for a bit, my companions and I are back inside and down to our seats. I’m 4th row from the front. Right in the middle. Around 8:30 the lights go out and the magic begins. Wardruna. Not just music, but an experience. An ebb and flow of emotion and sonic textures, all punctuated by lights and colors and the subtle movements of the practitioners. The beauty of it was astounding. The sound filled the room and drew us all in, carrying us through a myriad of emotions and thoughts. Wonder and amazement could be seen in all the faces around me. Each time a song ended and faded to black, the audience roared in appreciation. After around an hour and a half, the show concluded with an encore of Einar’s solo song “Snake Pit Poetry”. What a show. The whole audience rose as one and cheered and sang praise for what we had all witnessed, for we all knew, this was something special, this was magic in the flesh. After the lights went up, I spent some time in the lobby area meeting up with my bandmate and his sons who gifted me an amazing carved stone necklace with featured skull and the Hagalaz rune on it. Also, the amazing photographer friend. Then I got to have a quick chat with two lovely lady friends. Then I met up with the friends I came with and we headed outside, where I was greeted by Michael Grund (Hexenklad) and his other band’s drummer. We chatted for a bit about what an amazing experience we just witnessed here and then we were off. Back through the concrete jungle and home. What an amazing night. Good music and great companions.

Photo Credit Timothy Voldemars Johnston
Photo Credit Timothy Voldemars Johnston
Photo Credit Timothy Voldemars Johnston
Photo Credit Timothy Voldemars Johnston

Heilung, An Experience To Remember

Written By Timothy Voldemars

Photo By Timothy Voldemars

What an incredible night. Heilung was more than music, it was an experience. It was like Wardruna mixed with Cirque du soleil (in a good way).

So, to start my story off, let’s start at the beginning. I got off work at 4 and by 5, I was headed downtown in Toronto Ontario. As it was rush hour traffic, I knew I needed to give extra time to get down there and wanted to be at the venue early as I’ve never been there before. I arrived around 6, found parking easy enough, grabbed a quick Subway sandwich for dinner and headed to the venue.

The Meridian Hall is huge. Looks like a high class theater venue. Odd choice for a show like this I thought for a band that is so earth/forest/nature based, so, my hopes were somewhat lessoned. I got in the venue at 7 and headed right into the merch line. It wasn’t long before I got into a conversation about music with two fascinating folks behind me and my evening started looking up. It must have been 30 minutes before we got to the front of the line. I got myself a hoodie and a couple CDs.

As I wandered the lobby I ran into some friends and had good conversation with them. Then it was time. Headed into the auditorium and found my seat. I started up a conversation with the people beside me and settled in. Then I get a text from a good friend who is on her way and wanted to know if the show had started. I told her not yet and I’d let her know when the lights went off. Still having time I checked my Facebook. I saw another one of my friends was coming to the show. I liked the post. Not 30 seconds later I look beside me and there she is sitting down beside me LOL! What! That’s crazy. And she is such a fascinating person to talk with in person so, the Norns definitely had a hand in this. Shortly after, lights go down. The invocation begins. I text My other friend to let her know the shows about to start. From there the journey of Heilung began.

A trance-like journey back in time. Their rythmic beats and chanting building and changing, the ebb and flow drawing us all in. It was beautiful, it was magical, it was awe-inspiring and when the final song began, a wave of bodies rose and I rose with then, cheering and swaying to the beats. It was something else. An experience I wish you had all been able to feel.

After the show I wandered and ran into friends and hung out for a bit outside. Overall, quite an amazing night. And the venue turned out to be perfect for the show. The sound was amazing.

Photo By Timothy Voldemars
Photo By Timothy Voldemars
Photo By Timothy Voldemars

Going Down The Rabbit Hole, Peter Steele’s Former Band, CARNIVORE

Carnivore was a crossover thrash metal band from Brooklyn, NY, they were active from 1982 until 1990. The band was fronted by vocalist/bassist/songwriter Peter Steele and formed from the ashes of Steele’s previous band, Fallout (13), which also included Carnivore drummer Louis Beateaux. The original band had guitarist Keith Alexander, who was replaced in 1986 by Marc Piovanetti. This band was over the top, wild and controversial on stage.

Carnivore released 2 albums and often came under fire for their lyrical content, which critics deemed as sexist, racist, and/or anti-religious, although most of the band’s songs were done tongue-in-cheek and meant to push the listeners button. The band also had ties to Agnostic Front. Steele contributed lyrics to AF’s 1986 LP “Cause For Alarm”, which also featured Louis Beateaux playing drums. After Carnivore’s split, Steele formed Subzero which would later become Type O Negative. Type O Negative’s first album, “Slow, Deep, And Hard”, featured material partially written for Carnivore.

In 2006, Steele resurrected the band with a whole new line-up for live shows. 

Original Carnivore guitarist Keith Alexander died in July, 2005 in a bicycle accident.
Peter Steele died in April, 2010, from heart failure. Peter Steele is gone, but his epic legacy is not forgotten.

The first album is more traditional metal, drawing inspiration from Black Sabbath and 1970s Judas Priest, while the second has significant crossover influence. The ‘post-apocalyptic’ theme that dominated the first album and spread partially into the second album was apparently based on a dream Pete Steele had that became the basis for the lyrics of “Predator”. All other lyrical themes are said to compliment the environment of humanity or lack there of, between World Wars 3 and 4.

Both albums are in the speed-thrash genre. The lyrical themes include nihilism, anti-religious sentiment, racism, intolerance, and general human stupidity, a heap of cynicism, and explicit depictions of gore and despair. For example, this line from “Ground Zero Brooklyn” sums up the band fairly well: “I shit my pants as I wait for the reaper!”. Song titles and lyrical themes like “Jesus Hitler”, “Race War”, and “God is Dead” are also representative of their humour, dry wit and dumbed-down intelligence explaining the fate of humanity. Some would argue that their lyrics inflame prejudice among minorities, others would say they highlight the futility of such attitudes.

Reunion and new album On April 24, 2006, German Rock Hard Magazine stated that another reunion show was announced to take place at Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany which followed a US tour.


Influences and Recollections Of A Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

Braddon S. William’s playing in the band “Rogers Ritual” as openers for Bret Michaels

Live music has been on my mind quite a lot during this time of quarantine and social distancing, sparking much nostalgia about shows I have attended thus far in my lifetime, along with speculation (and dread) over how concerts will proceed moving forward. Personally, I don’t have a clue what is in store, or even when we will all be able to gather in large groups to experience some live shows again. This break in the action has definitely been fostering a ton of creativity among musicians in many genres, and I am eager to see how many amazing songs and albums await us in the aftermath of this pandemic. 

Social media has been full of inspired collaborations and live performances, and it has certainly been entertaining, but let’s face it…nothing beats the thrill of actually being at a show. The exchange of energy between the artists and the audience is simply something that must be experienced in person. 

Having begun my love affair with live music in 1976, I readily admit I am hopelessly addicted to the thrill of seeing and hearing the music delivered at maximum impact.
My father drove me (along with a couple of my friends) to Market Square Arena (RIP MSA!) in 1976 to see Kiss, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, and Artful Dodger (all for the price of $6.50!). Needless to say, the torch had been lit, and from that moment forward I have continually been looking forward to the next time. All the while, I have been compiling this staggering list of incredible experiences at shows. No matter if the venue is a tiny indoor hole in the wall or an enormous outdoor state of the art facility, the recipe remains largely the same; I am with people I love, surrounded by people just like us, people who love the music, bands, energy, and sheer spectacle of the scene. We meet new friends and share stories about past shows and generally learn that our tribe is pretty damn spectacular for the most part. For that relatively brief time we are together, we all escape all the negativity, stress, and anxiety of our “normal” lives. For that time, if we are lucky, we experience a bit of bliss.

In the 44 years I have been attending concerts, I have been fortunate to see many iconic performers and performances, and have crossed a huge chunk of bands and artists from my personal bucket list. Of course, I have also seen people that have passed away since I saw them, making the experiences even more precious. Among my treasured memories are The Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, Ramones, Iggy Pop, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, The Who, ZZ Top, Rush, Kiss, Queen, Steely Dan, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Robert Plant And The Sensational Space Shifters, Ted Nugent, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, Fleetwood Mac, Jeff Beck, Yes, Foghat, Heart, Cheap Trick, Max Webster, The Doobie Brothers, Aerosmith, Supertramp, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Santana, Foo Fighters, Johnny Winter, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, George Thorogood & The Delaware Destroyers, The Black Crowes, Oasis, Weezer, Ween, The Flaming Lips, The Raconteurs, Patti Smith, Bob Mould, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Paul Rodgers, Joe Cocker, Peter Frampton, John Fogerty, Cher (yeah, I said Cher!) and the list goes on and on.
My list would not be close to complete without my beloved Metal and other varieties of Hard rocking bands: Slayer, Black Sabbath, Opeth, PanterA, Ministry, Rammstein, Jinjer, Baroness, Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie (and White Zombie), Nine Inch Nails, Behemoth, King Diamond, Testament, Anthrax, Megadeth, Mastodon, Strapping Young Lad, The Devin Townsend Project, Amon Amarth, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Nile, Tool, Meshuggah, Avatar, Motörhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Deep Purple, UFO, AC/DC (with Bon Scott and Brian Johnson, too!), Blue Öyster Cult, Whitechapel, Slipknot, Korn, Machine Head, Black Label Society, Down, Hatebreed, Red Fang, Primus, DevilDriver, Clutch, Melvins, Weedeater, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Lamb Of God, Gojira, Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Deftones, Mr. Bungle, Queens Of The Stone Age, Mudvayne, Steel Panther, Van Halen, Mötley Crüe, Guns ‘N Roses, Whitesnake, Tesla, Dokken, L.A. Guns, Great White, Ratt, Poison, Saigon Kick, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine, Fishbone, Monster Magnet, Corrosion Of Conformity, Type O Negative, GWAR, Nashville Pussy, System Of A Down, Static-X, Otep, Jane’s Addiction, L7, Butcher Babies, Walls Of Jericho, Suicide Silence, Unearth, Chimaira, Children Of Bodom, Thy Art Is Murder, Death Angel, Slaughter To Prevail, Masked Intruder, Pennywise, and John 5 And The Creatures.
As I typed that crazy list of bands, I realized there were at least as many that I left out. They can’t all be winners, after all. What is really important (at least to me) is the simple fact that when I am at a show, I am in my element…my true happy place. I miss live music. I miss everything about the ritual of going to shows, and I’m quite sure I’m not alone in feeling this way. I hope this finds you all safe and healthy. I look forward to resuming our passion for shows, for music, for Life!

Braddon S. Williams is a music journalist, musician and avid concert goer residing somewhere in the US.