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Gwendydd – Censored Award winner

by Thomas Kumke at 06 June 2022, 11:17 PM

GWENDYDD hailing from Sofia, Bulgaria were formed in 2018 by producer and songwriter Bambi Nikiforov and vocalist Vicky Stoichkova after her hugely successful performance at the Bulgarian TV show “Voice Of Bulgaria”. Formed as a female dominated extreme Metal band, “Censored” is the second full-length album of the band. It was produced by Bambi Nikiforov, mixed by Ivaylo Petrov, and mastered by Max Morton (IGNEA, INNER MISSING) at Morton Studio. The album has a length of more than 31 minutes. It was released via German label Drakkar Entertainment, which has a long history in Metal.

The career of GWENDYDD evolves quickly. After releasing their much-acclaimed debut album “Human Nature”, the band did not waste much time and did what they could do during the pandemic: writing new music. After touring as much as possible in 2021, among them an appearance at the famous Female Metal League Fest in Belgium, GWENDYDD went back to the studio. Things did not remain unnoticed, and it was no surprise that right on time for the new album, the band signed for the well-known German Metal label Drakkar Entertainment, and this is another milestone of the GWENDYDD journey.

After the intro “Awakening” which creates and slowly builds up tension, the extreme Metal assault begins with “Martyrdom”. It starts with a huge riff followed by a merciless pummeling at insane pace. The guitar riffing is dark and powerful, the bass lines are crushing, and the drumming is hammering. The growling vocals are brutal, and they vary between the low to the medium end of the guttural range. There is a mid-tempo break, which includes, beside the lead guitars, a few electronic samples. “Martyrdom” is full of anger and a kick-in-your-face opener. “This Is War” is a mid-tempo banger with a grim atmosphere and plenty of grooves in the riffing. The track is very different compared to the preceding “Martyrdom”. It is less direct; the textures contain more twists and distortions. There are a few samples smartly included in the background and they contribute nicely to the atmosphere of the track. “Rape” starts with a crunching bass line and a huge scream of Vicky Stoichkova. It is a mid-tempo track mainly, but with a lot of rhythm changes throughout. The drumming includes a few blast-beats and the guitar riffing includes again a lot of twists. The main contribution to the sound of the track is the bass. The vocals are versatile and include a few clean parts as well. “Rape” is the official video release, and the YouTube link is given below.

GWENDYDD are able to change their sound and if proof is needed, the ballad-esque “One Step More” is the song to choose. It features vocalist Vasko Raykov (ODD CREW) and the vocal duet is one of the album highlight, since Vicky Stoichkova utilizes her beautiful clean voice beside her growls. Another highlight is “A Hypocrite In A Child’s Eyes”, a mid-tempo track with a lot of grooves in the riffing, and with double-bass attacks. The central melodic theme has plenty of oriental vibes and Vicky Stoichkova growls her heart out on “A Hypocrite In A Child’s Eyes”. The oriental vibes continue in “We Are The New Order”. The track is faster than most others, switching between mid-tempo and up-tempo. Starting with electronic samples, the guitars quickly take over with some excellent riffing which drives the track forward. The sampling is here more dominant compared to the other songs. Highlight is the lead guitar solo, since there are not too many on the album. The track finishes oriental with a sitar part played by Ivaylo Petrov.

Spider” starts with a prelude containing samples and voices, before a hammering mix of guitar riffing and bass lines take over. Sonya Radeva leads the line of the track alongside the guitars, which includes a few lead parts and sampling effects as well. The electronic effects are a bit more pronounced in “Spider”, but contribute very well to the overall atmosphere of the song. “Dreadful” is one of the fastest songs on the album. After an atmosphere-building start, which is the melodic theme of the song, the highly paced bludgeoning starts with flesh-ripping riffs, relentless drumming and the brutal growls. While the verse parts are fast and direct, GWENDYDD add a lot of complexity to the remainder of the song and in particular to the final part of the song, where it all goes back to the initial theme. “It’s All Up To You” is the album closer and it summarizes the different sound elements of GWENDYDD very well: the aggressive pummeling, the melodic parts, the sampling effects, and the versality of the vocals.

GWENDYDD released an outstanding album. “Censored” is extreme Metal at its best and combines powerful guitar riffing, brutal growls, and crunching bass lines with playful melodic features as well as with progressive and groove elements. GWENDYDD are not shy to experiment with their sound and are ready to cross boundaries. Compared to the debut album, GWENDYDD have improved in every aspect including songwriting and production, and they are on a good way to establish their very own and unique sound. The album is very well produced. GWENDYDD is a band with huge potential and “Censored” sets the bar very high. It is an album that should be part of the collection of every extreme Metal fan.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

1. Awakening
2. Martyrdom
3. This Is War
4. Rape
5. One Step More (ft. Vasko Raykov)
6. A Hypocrite In A Child’s Eyes
7. We Are The New Order (ft. Ivaylo Petrov)
8. Spider
9. Dreadful
10. It’s All Up To You
Vicky Stoichkova – Vocals
Reni Angelova – Guitars
Tina Shelyazova ­ Guitars
Bambi Nikiforov – Drums
Sonya Radeva – Bass
Record Label: Drakkar Entertainment


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