Friday, August 28, 2015

Sarnath, Aldebaran, and Ib...

Space Mirrors - Cosmic Horror III: Stella Polaris (2015)

With Lovecraftian references and narratives pervading the final album in their Cosmic Horror trilogy, Space Mirrors begins its 11-track run with space rock so upbeat that it brushes against power metal at times.  The energetic approach seems like an odd one for their chosen subject matter (particularly the guitar, which causes most of the power metal comparisons), but there's an injection of theatrical melancholy from the vocals that provides a touch of lurking fear.  For the first third or so of the album, the synth-work feels under-utilized for something with 'cosmic' right there in the title, but it picks up before too long for some trills, warbles, and blats, with "(A Passer) Through the Storm" as the first to really accentuate its presence (though it drifts back away after that).
Things continue to pick up from that point, thanks to heavier bass-waves appearing in the following track, "In the Blood", and the chipper attitude of the earlier tracks further diminishes (though it never fully disappears) with the following songs.  "Burning Chaplet" assumes a western-doom veneer with seeping amped strings and clean acoustic picking leading to a shredding solo, "West of Arkham" is powered by a mean run from the drums (couple with some smoky saxophone at one point), and "The Crawling Chaos" takes the position of album big-boy with an 11:11 stretch of menacing atmosphere.
"Essential Saltes of Humane Dust" completes the album's descent into heaviness, stripping off most of the ornamentation on its way down to expose the band's proficiency with straight-forward beats and riffs, and "The Master" provides the final finish in the form of a spoken word piece complemented by strange piping and synth burbles.  It's an interesting course taken by the album, and it makes for an ambitious journey through styles, but it's not without some rough patches.  All in all, something to investigate for fans of tech-inclined space rock or occult doom rock.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Artension, Bretus, Gamma Ray, Hands of Orlac, Space God Ritual


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Power And Restraint...

Wyatt E. - Mount Sinai / Aswan (2015)

While this first release from the Belgian group of Wyatt E. holds only two tracks, there's almost half an hour between the pair.  What you'll hear in that time is an adeptly experimental fusion of doom metal and post-rock, with foreboding subterranean vibrations rumbling away under it all.  While the pacing rarely revs up to 'fast' material, the drum-work does a lot to keep vibrancy alive amid the anguish of the the guitar and the tombstone tone of the bass.  Synthy effects add to the weight without stealing any focus away from the core power, and the various temperments are brought together with impressive finesse.  It's music that's best experienced with few distractions, like a captivating horror film, and the absence of vocals works well to support the otherworldly qualities that gradually grow to dominate the two tracks.  A run of cassettes provides a physical form for the music, though as it was a 50-tape pressing, their availability will be a short-term thing.  One for any fans of meditative doom or experimental heavy music.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Bell Witch, Death Cube K, Earth, Mamaleek, Sunwølf


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Poised To Strike...

Kahbra - Kahbra EP (2015)

Making their debut with this four-track EP, Kahbra are a semi-recently-formed band from the busy city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  A little controlled bleariness to the production helps play up their stoner/desert rock, but it seems like they're still trying to get a bead on how to set themselves apart from all the other modern heavy rock outfits.  Their success at pulling together classic-sounding riffs also puts them in the position of sounding just a little stale, despite the good energy they bring out in their performances.  The slower, bluesier pieces provide some of the more memorable moments, getting some high-lighting in the middle two songs, "Rattlesnakes" and "The Giant's Dream", but the shift from the stompy rock of "Drown" into these and back into it (at a slightly lower gear) for "What I Lost" at the end can be a bumpy ride.  Still, they've got good grooves, good tone, and good titles, so don't write these guys off, even if you've got little chance of seeing them tour your part of the world anytime soon.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Clutch, High Spirits, Hobo Magic, Jussipussi, Orchid


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sounds From Beyond Space

Deep Space Destructors ~ Spring Break from Space EP (2015)

The title kind of sums it up for this one. Like upbeat party rock? Like spaced out psychedelia from the depths of the cosmos? You're in the right place, this new EP from Finland's Deep Space Destructors will push all the right buttons on your control panel. Even though it's only a couple of tracks, they make for quite the celestial voyage. Cranking up with "Journey to the Space Mountain", the opener is almost of eight minutes of high energy psych rock, launching out of the gate with catchy, groove laden bass and guitar riffs. The farther you get into it, the raw vocal melodies show through, with some spacey sound effects coming through here and there. The first track keeps that same energy level for the most part, because the second track starts off much mellower, relying on some psychedelic noises, sparse drumming, and audio samples to create a psychedelic atmosphere instead of using riffs and the usual tools of the trade. While seemingly random for the majority of the time, the eleven minute track still has a mesmerizing property where you just can't turn it off. While this is far from the band's first effort, it is their first vinyl release. You can pick up colored and black copies from Sapphire Records.  It seems that this would be a great soundtrack to a bout of mind expansion too, if you're into that sort of thing.

 For Fans Of; Hawkwind, Black Sabbath, Black Space Riders

In the Mushroom Garden

Lord Vapour - Lord Vapour (2014)

 If you've heard the instrumental stoner rock outfit Brunt that stormed onto the scene over the last couple years with their debut effort through HeviSike Records, then you already know one of the lads behind the psychedelic rock project, Lord Vapour. The band uses a heavier spin on a 70's psychedelic rock sound, managing to get things a bit fuzzier and more upbeat. Things stay pretty mellow and subdued to begin with, but they keep the fuzz close by, and put down a nice big dose of it at will, often injecting it into the song with long bursts then letting it fall back a bit. Of the three tracks on the EP, the middle child "In the Valley of Stars" was a favorite. Kicking off with a slightly fuzzed bass line, it takes a few moments for the droning guitar to make an appearance, followed after a bit by pounding drum rhythms with the raw and organic vocal performance popping up soon after that. The song carries on like that for about half of the six minute duration, until after the halfway point the guitar goes rogue for a minute or so before the whole band drops back in to end the track with a high energy jam session. This is an excellent debut effort for the band, it'll be interesting to see what they follow it up with.

 For Fans Of; Black Rainbows, Dozer, Greenleaf

Monday, August 24, 2015

They Came From the North

Curse of the North ~ Curse of the North: I (2015)

Oh, you haven't heard of these guys yet? Well, time to for your daily dose of learning. Picking up from the ashes of a couple now defunct bands like 3 Inches of Blood. Curse of the North offers their sacrifices in the form of some massive sounding doom metal. There's a little something for just about any doom fan, some retro guitar work for all of the people who dig that classic 70's doom metal vibe. You have darker, more intricate arrangements for all of those modern doom purists that are out there. Opening up with the single “Sleep While You Can”, it demonstrates the more traditional side of doom metal that they operate in, but still with that strictly Curse of the North style filter firmly in place. Opening up with loud and thick drumming, that's quickly joined by some ringing bass notes, some raw but dynamic vocals drop in behind that, with the crunchy guitar sound making its appearance last. This carries on until a little bit before halfway when a scorching guitar solo starts up and carries the song to a new level. Heading off in a new direction, picking momentum and riding it out like a stampeding war horse. The further you dig into the new album the more you'll see their balance of styles and directions put on display, but the opener is a good crash course for the uninitiated. It'll still be a while until October 23 when the album is released on Static Tension Records. 
 For Fans Of; Black Sabbath, Grand Magnus, Demon Head