Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Enduring Presence...

Humbaba - A Timeless Mass (2017)

When we last heard from Humbaba, it was with their two-track debut EP back in 2014.  Given how much I enjoyed it, I was thrilled to find out that not only was the band still kicking, but that they had put together this first full-length album (with a redesigned band logo as a bonus).
Singing with clear energy and impact, vocalist Emre Can Serteli fits his musical element smoothly into the tapestry of beats, riffs, and sustained tonal flourishes drawn forth by the other three members, making for some satisfyingly deep tunes to envelop your senses.  There's also a nice wide range of styles put to use, from the general psych doom vibes of the early tracks to the '70s doom and Danzig-ish dark blues crooning in the title track (and elsewhere), or the smoky rumble and haze of “Shame On You Lazy Raymond”.
Each track gets time enough for the band to flesh out its ideas, slip in some tasty groove passages, and do some extra exploration, and it's fun to hear the group testing out their ideas while staying grounded in firm foundations.  The cathedral-like grandeur of final track “Lost and Fine With It” makes for a more-than-solid closer to the album, and on the whole, it does an excellent job of expanding Humbaba's sound while still pleasing those they hooked with that first EP.  Definitely worth checking out for any fans of warm (but not exactly mellow) heavy music; let's hope that it'll be less than three years before Humbaba unleash their next release.

For Fans Of; Druglord, The Munsens, Olde Growth, Raedon Kong, Rhino (Italy)


Friday, March 24, 2017

Power Riffage From Rome...

Chronic Hangover - Nero Inferno Italiano (2016)

Hailing from central Italy and cutting their teeth in most of Rome’s stoner / doom venues, Chronic Hangover bring dusty desert riffs with relative speed.  This is music for stoner rock fans who want their tracks with some get up and go, and sitting somewhere between Mercyful Fate and Monster Magnet, Chronic Hangover have their own sound while building off their influences with clear effort.  Stand out track “Regretudo” has a 42-second build-up (by no means slow) before the track topples over and we hit a nice groove track reminiscent of Truckfighters in their prime.  Even though this is a more introspective track, as opposed to some of the other rippers featured on here, we’re able to see how independent each individual musician is in Chronic Hangover and what they’re bringing to the table.  On-point vocals playing off a fantastic thumping rhythm section with fantastic overdrive-backed guitar solos that come together like butter without overpowering each other.  This is for fans of all those bands in the early-to-mid-'80s that felt they were born too late, yet still wanted to throw their hat in the ring for that specific blend of metal that got them to buy an instrument and start a band in the first place.

For Fans OfMercyful Fate, Ghost, Monster Magnet, Truckfighters


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Priapic Navigation...

Kalamata - Disruption (2017)

It's been longer than I'd hoped since we last heard from the German crew of Kalamata, but their time away has borne excellent fruit in the form of this new album, Disruption. Happily, Kalamata still have the same understated sense of humor glazing the music as with the last album, as the track titles make clear; in progression, those are “MY”, “ERECTION”, “SHOWS”, “ME”, “THE”, and “DIRECTION”. Keeping their old 'desert rock drowning in doom' dynamic alive and well, Kalamata also show a growth (and though I'm hesitant to use such a loaded word, you could also call it 'maturation') in the arrangement and escalation of their songs. Brooding periods of echoing strings, building drum-beats, and tone meditation lead to roaring onslaughts of nasty, gnashing grooves, while elsewhere, slow cruising through uncurling melodies calls to mind the best of the '70s heavy psych bands.
It's not an album for playing in your car (unless you're, say, spending multiple hours on a highway with no change-offs), but something to let yourself sink into and absorb with as few distractions as possible. The ramping up to the finish in “DIRECTION” is done so damn well that I'm already wishing I could hear the album for the first time again, but at the same time, I have the feeling that I'll be noticing new details with each listen for quite a while to come. Heavy music fans of any stripe or inclination, give this a try; unless you just have to have vocals in the mix, I'd say this is an album that truly has something for all of you (though, admittedly, sludge is kind of low in the ratio). Excellent work, Kalamata. And hey, could you guys restock your patches soon, please?
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Broughton's Rules, Goya, Merlin, Narcosatanicos


Friday, March 17, 2017

High Desert Psych...

Stratus Nimbus - Stratus Nimbus (2016)

Some great throwback old school '90s vibes here.  Sounds like something that could easily have come out from Twentynine Palms or Seattle / Yakima back in the day and was overlooked until now, with an album cover that appears to be a nod to the Pacific Northwest by featuring the Fremont Troll.  They go heavy on the Misty Grey influence, but not quite to the level of worship.  I couldn’t find a lot of background on these guys, but it appears to be the work of one guy by the name of Tom Davies, using a round table of musicians to knock this stuff out.  This thing has its own sound coupled with a pretty clear vision of where it’s trying to go.  Clocking in around thirty minutes, each track is completely varied from the last, but they're all knocking that '90s sound right out of the park.  Stand-out track “A walk in the dark” starts with a slow waltz of fuzz with heavy SD-1-powered riffage on top of the fantastic rhythm track, flirting with a King Tuff sound if you replaced the bubble gum with a big fat blunt.  Looking at one of the best 'riding around town' records of the year right here.  Check out “galaxy girl” as it doubles down on more of a psych rock sound that we don’t get a lot of anymore.  Fans of the first few years of Man’s Ruin releases are going to eat this up.

For Fans OfMisty Grey, Psychic Dose, Saint Vitus, Static Tension, early Helmet


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Water and Crows...

Tethra - Like Crows for the Earth (2017)

Italian foursome Tethra, following heavy touring and the release of their debut record back in 2013, are back with another foray into the dark.  Where Drown into the Sea of Life focused on water and the passage from life to death as thematic elements, Tethra take things to a more personal level on their new full-length Like Crows for the Earth, exploring loss and solitude through another symbol: the crow, a species that devastates any ecosystem it's introduced to, as a stand-in for humanity.

The most distinctive element of Tethra's sound, by far, is vocalist Clode.  No stranger to growls and death cries, this guy's real talent is his clean singing.  His bassy, syrupy voice sets the band's sound apart and should please any fan of Peter Steele.  Understated interludes haunt this album from the background--many of the songs feature lead-in tracks all their own and simply pick up where those leave off.  Most often leveraging acoustic guitars, but sometimes bringing in outside sounds (the sitars on "Deserted" are a high point), these quiet rest-stops feel melancholic and fragile set amidst the mid-tempo riffs, downtuned chugs, and guitar solos that otherwise dominate the soundscape.  When the bigger sounds crash in, all doom and gloom, they carry with them that establishing mood and give the greater work a moody, depressive slant.  "Subterranean", the stand-out of the album for me, has Clode crooning mournfully as twin guitars weave a matching melody.  It feels good to go big, but it never hurts to set the stage.

Fusing elements of doom and gothic metal with just a hint of progressive, Tethra is heady, dark stuff.  Intense and often soaked with emotion thanks primarily to lead singer Clode Tethra, Like Crows for the Earth will worm its way into your thoughts and stick there.

For Fans Of; Saturnus, Type O Negative, Soliloquium, Summoner's Circle

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