Saturday, April 10, 2021

Weighing In Together...

Bongzilla / Tons - Doom Sessions Vol. 4 (2021)

Continuing a steady pace for their split albums in this series, this is the second Doom Sessions release from Heavy Psych Sounds this year. Bringing together the long-running Bongzilla with the Italian group Tons, this installment

The elder of the two bands gets the A-side, and Bongzilla leads with “Mother Flowers Little Helper”, and despite seeming a bit word salad, it makes a big impression. Plugging along on a main riff that does enough work for a stretch of nine and a half minutes, spiced with groaning vocals, hard beats, and a fair amount of high-hat clanging, the tune is a heaping helping of opener to get listeners in the stoner doom mood. “Cosmic Distillate, Nectar Collector” follows, picking up the pace (relatively speaking) with a hooky pull from guitarist Jeff Schultz. Some chuggy breakdown adds to the fun, gaining enough momentum to build a slow-swinging rhythm up and into the exit. “Cupcake” (I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it's an ode to an edible) takes a similar tack, but brings in more feedback, spiking things up as the sludge gets consumptive, eventually crawling the tempo down to a seething end.

Tons' side is a single track split into three parts: “Chronic Morning Obesity”. As dismally heavy-sounding as the title suggests, the quartet gets down to semi-psychedelic sludginess, raw vocals and crunching chords complemented by the concessions to harmony which perk up the music. Highly in tune with the style of Bongzilla's contributions, the band thunders along in swampy style, crashing and crushing. A low-mixed sample of someone rambling through a list of all the food they want to cure their munchie cravings shows up in the last slice, making for an entertaining shaping of the mostly-instrumental grooves.

Both sides fit together extremely well, so if you've been in the mood for some fresh and dirty stoner doom, all splashed up with sludgy tendencies, then this double serving is right up your alley. The split officially releases April 23rd, but pre-sales are already up, and going fast, with an assortment of colorways for the vinyl. Cheers to HPS for another winner.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bomg, Cavity, Dead Existence, Dopethrone, Wizard Smoke

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Tons - Chronic Morning Obesity, Part 1 (320 kbps)

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Saturday, April 03, 2021

Faces Behind Faces...

Planeetta 9 - Pirun Piiska (2021)


Following up on their single by the same name from earlier this year, the Finnish sextet of Planeetta 9 bring a concept EP to life across four tracks. Blending doom metal, rock, and folk music, the group delivers an undeniably distinctive style, and shows how deep the well of ideas they drew from in concocting these songs is.

The title track is the first of the four, working some tight-knit grooves with twisting rhythmic arrangements, earthy vocals, and a rich diversity to the instrumentation. The breakdowns are inventive with their heaviness, the switch-ups in band-member focus feel like natural flows to the song, and the escalating intensity is handled to very nice effect. A bit of guitar soloing, paired with deep-beat drums, gives the unpredictable path of the song a helpful anchor, and an extra hook to fix it in memory. Track two, “Sama hauta”, opens with a more traditional doom metal riff, bringing Saint Vitus, Candlemass, or Below to mind with the dramatically-delivered vocals alongside the melancholy string tones. The band hits a fine line between weight and melody in the mood, with the nimble handling of shifts and augmentations casting them in excellent light.

“Juoksuhiekka”, the third in the run, brings the somber tones used in the preceding songs to fuller life, employing bowed instruments and piano, along with a hushed vocal presence, to thoroughly evoke a regretful ache. Easily the most withdrawn of the EP's songs, it encourages a bit of introspection before “Vakuumilapset” leaps the energy back up. Returning the electric guitars and cymbals to the fore, this closing piece finds the band luxuriating in winding chord progressions, rich tones, and plenty of reverb. A frenzied crescendo ridden right into another one lets the band exit the EP with flying colors. Each of the songs has so much going on, and with such fine technique, that despite the four-song length, this is one that can easily be relistened to time and time again while still finding new details.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Crown Larks, Hukkunud Hinged, Monolith Grows!, Odradek Room, Stonerror

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Planeetta 9 - Sama hauta (320 kbps)

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Burnt By Starlight...

Gods of Space - Against the Falling Sky (2021)

Delivering their latest in a string of releases stemming back to 2014, the Pennsylvania-based trio of Gods of Space provide a concisely cosmic trip this time around. Packing five tracks and coming in a few minutes shy of half an hour, the band makes great use of their time, pushing ideas in a range of directions while keeping the hard psych flavors flowing continuously.

First of the tracks on the EP is “Against All Odds”, a soaring ignition piece with some hard bass-line riffs cranking it along. The gritty timbre of the strings contrasts nicely with the clear tones of the vocals, while the drummer's change-ups in intensity add a further layer of action. Pop in some tasty (though brief) guitar soloing, and it's a solid groover, not to mention an enjoyable wake-up tune if you play it early in your day. “Exit Point” follows, shifting to a darker tone; fitting with the EP's concept, this is presumably the point at which our intrepid crew of astronauts hits the point of no return, and the deep, quick-moving riffs fit the mood wonderfully.

“Falling Sky” picks up at the mid-point, employing a bit of retro stoner rock foundation before amping it up and skewing into full-blown '60s psych touchpoints. It's one of the easier tracks to let your mind glide along with, thanks to an extended breakdown section that really evokes the ship reaching its peak, and then beginning to collapse. “Sub Orbital” follows that up nicely with strains of melancholic melody contrasted against harder, engine-like chug riffs. The flow is good, the concept flavors are on-point, and the music is reliably solid.

Lastly, there's “Surf”, the EP's longest track, which opens on a stripped-down arrangement using string hammering for a chilly, desolate vibe. As it sprawls out into livelier tones, the band shows their facility with delicate arrangements, while the drummer keeps a reminder of the doom in store for the cosmonauts evident in his brooding beats. A fiery crescendo into an unwinding finish provides the perfect cap on the experience, and making for a truly impressive release from Gods of Space. The official release date is April 20th, so if you didn't already have that date circled on your calendar, go ahead and make a note to grab a copy of this that day. I promise you, it will not disappoint.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Demonauta, Frozen Planet....1969, Giant Gutter From Outer Space, Tuber

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Gods of Space - Exit Point (320 kbps)

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Saturday, March 20, 2021

True To The Name...

Heavy Trip - Heavy Trip (2020)


Coming at us from the fabled land of Vancouver, the crew of Heavy Trip released their self-titled LP around this time last year. They're getting a worldwide boost in visibility, though, thanks to the reissuing of that LP by Burning World Records, who are also responsible for the excellent live label of Roadburn Records. With plenty of high-esteem bands to their respective catalogs, it's a great way for Heavy Trip to get some more well-deserved recognition, as anyone lucky enough to grab one of the splatter-styled records (or CDs, or digital copies, or online streams) will quickly agree.

Leading off with the punny “Hand of Shroom”, the band dives right into their heavy psychedelic metal MO with enticing flair, snaky guitar lines, and enough fuzz to get your head well and truly clogged. A coolly confident bass maneuvers about the roiling guitar action with supportive finesse, while the drummer keeps things grooving, whether pacing it high or low. The music does a great job of blending old-school psych melting with a more modern toothiness, letting the music really lunge out and grab you right after rolling off a sweet and slippery progression.

Lunar Throne” follows, taking more of a chill approach to the vibes, while keeping up the impressive interplay and flexibility from the performers. Some truly savory shredding is on display with this one, spinning it out to the edge of the rails before pulling things back on track, only to roam off in another wild direction. “Mind Leaf” carries the spacy cruise on with more of a desert rock tinge to the proceedings, letting gritty soloing flow over a bumping bass-line, while the drums bang out a lifeline of percussive care. The crazed crescendo this one reaches is a jaw-dropping display, even when listened to completely sober, so be careful it doesn't knock you on your ass when you're a little loaded.

Lastly, there's “Treespinner”, which settles back down from the high-intensity of “Mind Leaf”, at least initially. Exploring just how many ways they can bend the main riff into new but recognizable forms, the band finds lots of answers, and keeps the energy feeling just fine as they do so. It adds up to a wonderful thirty-six minutes or so, though you must play it at high volume. You'll feel the guilt if you don't. In any event, grab up one of this new run of vinyl, or whatever option for listening best floats your boat, and have yourself a grand time with this one.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Rooster, Bomg, Earth Drive, Frozen Planet....1969, Ufomammut

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Heavy Trip - Lunar Throne (320 kbps)

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Saturday, March 13, 2021

Making Heavy Contact...

Stonus - Séance (2021)


Keeping their momentum going from the release of their first LP about this time last year, the Cyprian quintet of Stonus are back with their third EP. Coming together at just under twenty minutes across the three tracks, the band leads off with “Evil Woman”, a gritty blend of heavy and hard rock, working a riff that circles through repetitions of trailing off and coming back in force. Tasty guitar tone and plenty of cymbal action keep the energy high, while the breakdowns show a desert rock-ish poignancy and streaks of psychedelic spaciness.

“Messianism” takes over from there, keeping up the fuzzed guitar hooks but sliding in a bit of darker tone on the bass side. The riff approach gets changed up, too, opting for more of a back-and-forth slide, to compelling effect. Again, it's in the breakdowns that the band really shines, with the instruments coming down enough to let the vocals bask in smoky enticement, then some knotty guitar-work amping things up for a big finish. Lastly, “El Rata” slides the style dial further over into desert rock territory, with a thrumming bass hook dominating the track. Riding the waves to a mid-song climax lets the band spend time exploring the aftermath for the song's remainder, soaking up more sun-baked vibes as they navigate craggy chords and wade through the fuzz. Quite a fun set of songs, and one to spike up the ears of newcomers to the group's output. Electric Valley Records are putting out a stylish vinyl treatment on March 26th, but pre-orders are going fast, so you might wanna jump on that right this moment if you want one for your collection.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Craneon, Kyuss, Manthrass, Tuber

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Stonus - Evil Woman (320 kbps)

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Saturday, March 06, 2021

Grasping and Rending...

Grale - Agitacion (2021)

Formed under the pressures of the pandemic lockdown, with members from Olde, Indian Handcrafts, and Cross Dog, this quartet of Canadian metal-makers have put together five tracks for their debut EP. Blending death metal aggression with sludgy grime, the band finds ways to keep their high-tempo maneuverings engaging and healthily diverse, never settling for too long into any one groove.

Opening track “Meth Aggressor” gets things off to a fine start, meshing grinding riffs with rhythmic deftness, and letting the harsh vocals of guest Rob Urbinati set tones of near-vicious acidity and swelling doom. Fine instrumental work gets the motor running, and “No Justice for All” picks up that momentum to run into a disarming bit of melodic indulgence, hooking listeners before pummeling them with more hard-beat action. A bit of throwback soloing comes in quick and sharp, swaying heads and setting ground for some spacier effects the band has in store.

Midpoint tune “The Blade”, in spite of its name, actually brings things down to a slower pace, working a staunch set of riffs to savory effect. Splashes of guitar tone exploration give way to speedier shredding, clean tones clashing excellently with the bass' weighty presence. “The Emptiness Project” punches in for its penultimate spot with still another powerful lead riff, swinging its downbeats with solid power, then cranking up to harder drive. The banging beats brought in towards the end might have this one slotted in as my personal favorite of the five. Lastly, “Terror Control” hits a churning back-and-forth swing for its commanding guitar and drum alternations, bringing the EP to a fiery finish. Excellent work on all five tracks, and one of the better things to emerge from the circumstances of the pandemic. The EP dropped at the end of February, so get on over to Grale's BandCamp and grab yourself a copy already!

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Abstracter, Body Void, Lifeless Gaze, Mountain God, Rainbows Are Free

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Grale - Meth Aggressor (320 kbps)

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