Saturday, January 19, 2019

Emerging From Cold Depths...

Tar Pit - Tomb of Doom (2019)

Following a few line-up adjustments and a hard-to-find demo, the Portland-based quintet of Tar Pit have emerged with their debut album, boasting about forty minutes of hot-blooded doom metal across its five tracks. Drawing from the late-'70s/early-'80s vibes of basements, dungeons, and caverns, along with the inclination to build expansive narratives, the group tempers the quirks of yesteryear with some firm structuring, focused production handling, and a meaner demeanor. The tracks flow into each other with fine style, the grooves are deep and dirty, and the guitar solos, when they arise, are both vivacious and suitably downcast.
As the album goes on, it really gets its hooks into you, aided by the clever positioning of the tracks; they start out with the longest song, then gradually shorten them down to the middle, then grow them back out on the way to the end. It's a neat way of accelerating the pace without sacrificing any of the weight, and seeing it put to use on a first album impresses further how much potential this band has. There's nothing to detract from Tomb of Doom's power as an album in its own right, though, with no sign of the fumbles or self-conscious second-guessing that so regularly pop up to pull down early works. If anything, my complaint would be that it feels a little short, but at the same time, that helps them keep it trim and punchy.
While I'll be sour that I won't have a chance to see these guys live anytime soon, that's somewhat salved by the knowledge that a copy of the album is on its way. Check them out for yourself, snag a copy of the cassette pressing if that's a format you rock (only 100 copies made), and keep your ears perked for more to come from Tar Pit. In the musical world, at least, 2019 is starting off on a good note.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Below, Blood Farmers, Goya, Merlin, Saint Vitus


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Turning Through Time...

Frozen Planet.... 1969 - The Mystery Wheel (2019)

Spawned in the recording sessions for their 2017 album Electric Smokehouse, Frozen Planet.... 1969's The Mystery Wheel is a single 26-minute jam taking listeners through the riffs and grooves filling the Australian band's heads at the time. Heavy and psychedelic, with swanky guitar wonking it up with hard-plugging bass and funky drumming sliding about the place, the jam keeps a wonderful unpredictability alive for its run without slipping into aimlessness or wankery. Maybe the most impressive part of it is the sense of how well-tuned to each other's ideas the band members are, with one laying down the opener of a new tangent and the others near-immediately hooking into supporting meshes. Slips into chiller territory handled well, with the quiet mood studies bearing a goosebump-inducing intensity you wouldn't necessarily expect from an improvisational session, but there you have it. Between the slick grooves, heady psych pumps, talent show-casing, and staunch coolness, it's a little chilling to imagine that this piece of work could have remained tucked away in the band's vault. Thankfully, now that it's out in the light of day, FP69 fans have an extra piece of excellence to enjoy. And if you're new to the band, it's not a bad place to start, as long as you recognize that you're jumping into the deep end with them.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Deep Purple, Groggy, Iron Butterfly, Mondo Drag, Stonerror


Saturday, January 05, 2019

Setting Down Roots...

Withered Fist - This is My Mountain (2019)

Starting off 2019 with the release of their debut EP, the Irish two-piece of Withered Fist brings three hefty tracks of melodic doom metal to bear. Starting off with the title track, they make it clear that their heaviness won't be compromised by the melodic emphasis, with instrumentalist Justin Maloney (formerly of Two Tales of Woe and Acrid Nebula) grinding on the strings of his bass until it's all too easy to imagine blood seeping from his fingers. The percussion doesn't aim for anything too fancy, but provides a perfectly suitable dirge-paced beat to the glowering atmosphere, and the strains of guitar give a slight wash of psychedelic or sludgy flavoring to the affair.
“The Dread” picks up from there, moving to a rolling beat which plays up the drums a bit more, and giving things a little more heavy rock flavor while keeping the metal aspects firmly in place. A workhorse of a main riff keeps things moving along with good fluidity, and the stylish big finish will undoubtedly make for a great live track. Lastly, “The Journey” clocks in with over ten minutes of power, riding highs and lows of energy while getting its hooks in, and showing a more tender side to the band with the work of vocalist Carl King (TtoW). It all makes for a strong debut with good repeat value, so check them out if you've been looking for some fresh heavy music that avoids easy pigeon-holing.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Green Druid, Headless Kross, The Sleer, Valkyrie, Wounded Giant


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Stung By Sunlight...

Scorpio Rising - Scorpio Rising (2018)

Rising up from the depths of Cincinnati, the one-man doom project of Scorpio Rising has three songs to offer on his self-titled debut demo. Leading with “Black Equinox”, he establishes some old-school doom vibes (think Saint Vitus), with steadily-paced guitar riffs trading off with bass accentuations. Whispered vocals add to the sense of the first track having been recorded in a desolate cathedral, and the song glides out to a quiet fade. “I said it all with that kiss...” takes over from there, with its ~7-minute run-time giving SR an opportunity to show how he handles the long-form doom. A focus on atmosphere serves him well, as the vocals are kept submerged while percussion peaks up through the dirge-like bass grind.
Lastly, “I love you ?” picks things up into a quick-moving haze of garage rock psychedelia, with distorted guitar chords washing over dirty riffs and an almost surf rock-ish percussion line. It's something of an odd finish, but at just a couple minutes long, it works to reinvigorate the listener before sending them off. While there's some expected roughness to the demo, it's still enjoyable, and shows SR bringing his ideas to successful life. Hopefully there'll be more confidence in the vocals on future releases, but as is, it's a nice introduction that does a good job of demonstrating the flavors and skills the band digs.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Abbot, Count Absurdo, Heavydeath, Hypnochron, The Munsens


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Twisting Through Growth...

Through The Canopy - Descension (2019)

Coming to us from Norway, the three-piece of Through The Canopy are issuing their first EP after a couple years of live gigs and private practice, and the two-track release brings their ambitious mixture of styles to light with fine form.  With each song running over ten minutes, there's more to dig into than the track-list would suggest, and it leads with “Seven Days”, featuring a slow warming build-up into proggy tech work, then more fully into a metallic groove.   The band keeps the song changing again and again from there, with impressive twists keeping the action fluid and high-aiming.  Hints of death metal keep the teeth bared, there's a distinct heaviness to the harder riffs even as they zip along, and some sharp soloing brings power while eschewing cheese.  It's an intricate blend, and for such a lengthy track, it keeps things moving from one focus to the next with such cleverness and vivacity that it never seems to drag.
The other track, “Illusions Lost”, takes a similar tack to the song-writing, but wears a slower and more somber mood for its warping, while also placing more emphasis on allowing listeners to trace the changing of the main melody.  Though it demonstrates the band's abilities with just as much range as the A-side, it presents a much different side to their fusions.  To be honest, this is the one that I expect will really hook ears, despite running a few minutes longer than “Seven Days”, thanks to its firmer groove establishment.   But between the two tracks, there's fantastic work and detailing to spare, leading to an excellent first impression.   The vinyl release of the EP is up for pre-order, so check them out, nab yourself a copy, and keep your ears sharp for their next release.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Asilo, Behold... The Arctopus, Lesbian, mid-era Opeth, Qualeaceans


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Rise And Shine...

Sonic Moon - In Orbit (2018)

With almost two years of gigs under their belt, the Danish quintet of Sonic Moon have issued their first EP, and In Orbit brings a four-pack of tunes to entice listeners, opening with the desert rock twist of “Places”. Dry-sounding chords lead through harmonized yells and a bruiser of a beat, giving some good opening energy to the set.
The grungy grooves of “The Heavens” pop up next, letting hooky melody and tasty guitar tones mesh with rugged bass pulses and some high cymbal action, making an intriguingly heavy piece out of higher-end elements than are usual for the style, before “Something Else” picks up the lead. A little bit of atmosphere is set with quiet strings before a ripple of drums lead back to the beefier material, slipping in a little psychedelia in the end-of-measure guitar twinkle and twang, and the band spices things up by making good use of phasing on the line in the track's back-end.
Lastly, there's a ~7-minute self-titled song, and “Sonic Moon” makes use of its position and space by working a slow-burn escalation into heady riffage. The band's co-op powers really come to the fore in this slow-paced study, with each instrument getting plenty of time in the audio spotlight. For the band's first release, it does a great job of showing off their skills in a range of styles, speeds, and intensities, and provides a fair number of hooks to catch in your ears at the same time. Keep your head up for more to come from this crew.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Catherine, DDT (Canada), The Heavy Co., early Kyuss, Suiciety