Saturday, August 10, 2019

Three Suns Rising...

Acid Rooster - Acid Rooster (2019)


Coming to us from Leipzig in Germany, while the three-piece of Acid Rooster are releasing their first LP this year, they've been playing together for a couple of decades or so, and have been friends since even before that. Such familiarity seems almost essential to the nature of their songs, which on this release are partially pre-written and part improvisational. As you might guess just from that description and their locale, there's a lot of psychedelic and krautrock flavors swirling about in the music of Acid Rooster,
Leading with the evocatively titled “Oculatus Abyss”, which, like all of the songs on the LP, is instrumental, AR immediately lay down a hooky bass and drums groove before quickly adding in some twisting guitar gnarls. Letting that groove foundation ride for a while to set the stage, they then take off in a variety of exploratory interpolations, bringing in pedal effects and switching them out as strikes their fancy. Despite running over five minutes, it feels much quicker than that as soon as they drop into silence with its end, which makes the eleven-minute-plus status of follow-up “Moon Loop” seem less intimidating. Taking a slow, almost drone-like start, the song audibly charges itself up as it rides along, and as sprawling as it gets, the band does an excellent job of keeping a grounding rhythmic pull going underneath the starry-minded expansiveness. It gets almost hypnotic at points, just working its magic to impressive effect, and just like the opening track, the way it draws you in makes it hard to believe that it runs as long as it does.
With “Sulfur”, the following track, things pick up into a harder groove, with some truly tasty guitar soloing laced throughout its cosmic rock-out. This is probably the track most likely to get your head knocking back and forth, and the pop-up saxophone wailing helps that impulse right along. Things cool back down with “Time Lapse”, which roams a lush soundscape of warm vibes and quavering string reverb. It's a very friendly atmosphere, particularly coming off of the somewhat spiky “Sulfur”, and as the opener of the B-side, it makes for a great transition, with some surprising poignancy tucked into its sustained measures.
“Focus” continues the chillness, just cruising along on echoing guitar lines and firm but laid-back drum pacing, but finds some extra fuel about halfway through, and starts setting off towards the sky. Guitar, bass, drums, and synths all find extra speed and sparkle, twisting into a dazzling fireworks display before coming back down to Earth. “Äther” closes out the album, with a nice bit of reflectiveness in its run-time being just a few seconds off from the first track. Unlike “Oculatus Abyss”, it takes a dark tone to its psychedelic grooving, and while it's a bit of a sharp shift from the mood of the rest of the LP, it's also a strong showing of how well the band can handle heavier and angrier flavors while maintaining their high-octane performances and sense of character. All in all, it's a fantastic album, and a thoroughly impressive first LP. If you dig on psychedelic rock, do not let this one slip past you unheard. And if you check that box and also like to get your music on vinyl, move fast, as I expect the three hundred copies pressed on that format to move fast. Here's to Acid Rooster!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Camel, Frozen Planet....1969, Hawkwind, Mondo Drag, Zombie Picnic




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Sunday, August 04, 2019

Bones For The Altar...

Buzzard Cult - Buzzard Cult (2019)


Coming to us from the Atlanta region of Georgia, the trio of Buzzard Cult play a mixture of grungy heavy rock and crusty downtempo punk, turning out a fusion that's lively, easy to groove to, and clearly averse to poppy over-polishing. Leading with the EP's advance single, “No Turning Back”, the band shows guitar crunch meshed with bass-line toothiness, and drumming that fills in and embellishes on the rest of the rhythms. Feeling something like a Dirt-era Alice in Chains B-side, “Ill Scheming” follows, alternating between brooding musings and outburst lashings of the titular chorus. The enjoyable cragginess of the instruments rising together each time they hit that chorus should put a grin on your face and a nod in your neck, and BC ride that momentum into the more uptempo reproach of “You're to Blame”, taking aim at the guilty at large and brandishing a crashing upswell for its climax.
The second half of the EP initially slips back into lower speeds, but as “Lucid Dreams” continues, it finds its angry footing again. Slowly cooking until it boils over, this track just might be my personal favorite from the six showcased on this EP, and I imagine that its back-and-forth energy takes on some real power in live performances. “Night is Dark” slips back into a more relaxed bass groove, but keeps the tension evident in the bite of the guitar and coiled bursts from the drummer. A pedal-treated guitar solo lends things some extra juice, pushing the intensity of the song's ending up even as they slow the tempo down.
Final track “Lazy Mind” brings things to a solid head, working stern riffs and accusatory lyrics while gradually ramping up the tightness, and with its bass hooks digging in, it's hard not to wind up with this one stuck in your head. All together, it makes for a fun demonstration of the band's style and capabilities, and delivers some quality music in a style you don't come across too often. The band will also be playing some live shows in September, so if you're in the general Georgia area, check them out!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Alice in Chains, Halo of Flies, JPT Scare Band, Nations on Fire, Night Birds, Stinkerbell




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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Comforting Alien Skies...

Velvet Trip - Velvet Trip & The Six Moon Skies (2019)


Hailing from Sydney, Australia, the four-piece group of Velvet Trip are debuting with this EP, following a tease in the form of the “Take Control of Your Mind” advance single. Leading with the lengthily-titled “All My Life I Was 12ft Tall & Told My Tales Just the Same”, the group's psychedelic blues rock gets unfurled in flavorful form, with the earthy guitar tones and chill but energized drumming joining the solid bass and muted keyboards to form a deep soak of warm vibes. The singer leans towards Jimi Hendrix's friendly roughness in his inflection, but keeps it at a level of acknowledgment, rather than imitation, while the keyboardist gets to brandish a bit of Ray Manzarek riffage in the breakdown.
After a resurgence of energy for the finish, the intro track gives way to a more grounded groove as “Voodoo Cosmic Girl” picks up. Swinging between relatively locked-down rocking for the vocal sections and cutting loose in the interstitial instrumentals, it's clear that the band are having a lot of fun with the tune. Add to that the detail that each of the tracks are live one-run takes, and things get even more impressive, with the fine hooking of the players throwing lead lines to each other, catching them and expanding in fantastic style. The shift to “Take Control of Your Mind” comes so smoothly that you may not even catch the change-over without your eyes on the player, but it shifts into an even tighter riff swirl, with the echo effects in the later part of the song accentuating its hypnotic qualities.
In the EP's second half, “Hurricane” offers a quick (two minutes and change) keyboard-driven groover that emulates its name-sake by gradually intensifying, with spots of relative calm making the wilder parts strike that much harder. At seven minutes plus, “The Six Moon Skies” takes place as the EP's longest song, and the rambling riff explorations get their fullest indulgence here, as you might expect. It also shows some of the tenderest emotional pieces from the group, with some stripped-down bridges playing up the melodic emphasis to beautiful effect. The ride out of it and into the closing track offers some truly lush work to savor, and should recapture the attention of anyone playing it as background material.
Lastly, “The Man from the Blue Sun” starts off with a slow burn cruise, the drums picking up momentum and power, and eventually pushing things to where a guitar solo can lay in its piece, and guide the way to the high-flourish finale. It puts a nice cap on an all-around impressive set, with the debut and live-take qualities making things even more dazzling. Fans of psych rock, do yourself a favor and be sure to keep an ear on this band after you listen to the EP for yourself.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Farflung, Frank Sabbath, Frozen Planet....1969, Third Ear Experience




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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Looking For Fights...

Swamp Coffin - Flatcap Bastard Features (2019)


Coming to us from the Rotherham region of England, this is the debut EP from the three-piece of Swamp Coffin, set for release on August 23rd. Featuring four songs of increasing length, the band leads with “Blood in the Water”, a pull from their debut single Hey Ho, Stolen Logo, released at the start of last year. The six-minute song opens with a yowl of sustained feedback, bass gradually asserting itself until the guitar lands and sets the main groove. The drumming is generally spacy, but impactful, and the low-pitched growls of the vocals do a lot to build the sludge feel in the presence of the mostly clean-toned guitar. A chuggy breakdown pulls things into swampier territory, and SC maintain that trajectory through to the song's stripped-down end.
With follow-up “Annihulus”, some death metal flavor bleeds in, and the activity of the drumming gets a shot in the arm, throwing in some tasty fills wherever they can fit. The guitar and vocals feel more closely aligned here as well, and the instrumental stretches build some great moodiness out of the stark arrangements. The central riff gets some nice treatment, building in intensity until the last crash, whereupon “Black Shirt, Blacker Sabbath” takes over with a suitably stony groove. The dirty vocals and clean guitar push further apart here, but not enough to really throw things askew, and towards the end of the song's nine-minute run, there's some quite fun soloing action to savor, along with some cool crunch punctuation.
The eleven-minute-plus “Last of the Summer Slime” rounds out the EP, with its slow-burning sludge slog pulling in features from the preceding tracks. The chuggy breaks are there, along with lengthy instrumental measures, the death metal latherings, and craggily catchy bass-lines. There's some particularly effective resonance effects on the vocals at times, which lends things a subterranean feel, as does the gradual sinking of tempo and pitch towards the song's end. All together, it makes for a strong opening salvo from the band, and one which should turn some ears their way. Look for it to drop next month, and be sure to give it a listen once it does.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Attalla, Black Box Warning, NIXA, Quallus, Tombtoker




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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Still Feel Heaviness...

King of None - Weightless Waters (2019)


Popping up with their third EP since debuting in 2015 with their self-titled one, the Finnish group King of None make their run this time with six tracks of psych-washed hard rock. Kicking off with “Words of Mine”, they brandish a solid noodly guitar groove that slips right into rougher tones, and while the yelling is kind of quiet in the mix, it still comes off as some of the rowdiest material in the line-up, and makes for a very enticing lead into the rest of the music.
“Worlds Collide” turns up the psychedelic influence as a contrast, but brings the hard rock right back up in force as soon as a bridge leads to that territory, and it stays in that flavor for most of its go. With a very solid stretch of shredding, the band gets blood pumping hard in the lead-up to the next track, the intriguingly-titled “Frog Palace”. Here, things slow back down for a heavy cruiser that makes for a fun midpoint to the EP (though where the frogs come in is still a mystery to me).
With the slow-grooving “Desolator”, the band provides a strong demonstration of their skill at weaving appreciable heaviness into hooky melodies, and their willingness to explore tangents when the path of the song becomes more interesting than just rolling along with the grooves. It shows a band that knows the appeal of bassy fuzz, but also wants to savor more nuanced song-writing. “Starbirling” follows after that, and as the band dives more fully into the retro hard rock vibes, there's a sense of them loosening up even more, making the riffs feel even more animated and energized. That easy-going cool sticks around pretty reliably from there, with final tune “Yellow Snake King” bringing in some more desert rock flavor, as the name somewhat suggests. At just over seven minutes, it's also the longest track on the EP, and the band makes use of that expanded space to really chew on the riffs, stretching them out into delightfully free-rolling head-banging inducements. Plenty to enjoy here, so check it out if you've been craving some heavy rock with substance to it.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Farflung, Fatso Jetson, Frozen Planet.... 1969, Fuzz Evil, Stone Machine Electric




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Saturday, July 06, 2019

Observing Final Rites...

Wizard Cult - Secunda & Masser (2019)


About four years ago, I had the pleasure of encountering the first album from Wizard Cult. It was heavy, it used psychedelic touches in interesting ways, and it had one of the most distinctive physical releases I've encountered (all the cassette copies were hand-collaged, with mine ending up wrapped in carefully-picked and pasted scraps of comic strips). For something just under half an hour in material, it made a deep impact, thanks in no small part to the sense of how much the band-members cared about bringing their music to life in more than just the usual ways.
This year, Wizard Cult are putting out their second release, which unfortunately looks to be their last, going by the digital liner notes (“From deep within the lost libraries of Arkngthand this album emerges, documenting the last efforts of a long lost cult of sorcerous power.”) So it was with a mix of anticipation and trepidation that I threw it on to hear; while the download copy has the album in unbroken A-side/B-side runs as an option, I'm going with the split version for ease of identifying specific sections.
Leading with the eleven-minute “The Cave”, the garage-like quality of the collected recordings is immediately evident, with a buzzy fuzz swaddling everything from the opening sample on through to the shaking bass and craggy crashes on the drum-kit. Cutting through most of the roughness, though, is the power of the grooves into which the band taps, with the blown-out vibes kind of suiting the intensity with which they play. As “The Cave” winds down from its trip, with screams and some cymbal flourish, it flows right on into half of the album's title, “Secunda”. Here, the bass throws down even harder, and with all the pieces established, it really starts to gel. The sludgy yells, the almost funeral doom-paced percussion, the deeply heavy psych growls of the guitar, and the overpowering bass rumble grind and slam together, and while it does feel kind of like you're sitting in on a rehearsal session, there's enough raw vitality vibrating through it all to make that a pleasing experience.
“Goat Demoness” drops into action with another cinema-sourced sample, and it's off into more dizzily-cranked heaviness, this time picking up the pace into a bleary-eyed late-night-highway burner. The hits come hard and strong, the menace is palpable, and it finishes off with the ringing of a cowbell. So, pretty great, obviously.
After a short lull, the fuzz returns with still another obscured sample to kick “The Fourth Pact” into action, bringing with it a slightly cleaner tone (at least to start), but even more anger to even that out. The plaintive screech of the strained guitar strings, along with the punch of the focused bass-line and plenty of squealing signal interference brings this one the furthest into sludge territory, and is sure to raise your heart-rate (or at least your blood pressure). With the finisher, “Masser”, Wizard Cult slide between the two tracks on a sled of disintegrating amp feedback, savoring it and letting exploration of the abstract run-off make up the majority of the song.
As an exit album, it's one which certainly plays on its own terms. It also presents the band, warts and all, high on the spirit of making their music their way, something which feels all too rare these days, and especially in the often over-produced realm of doom. Whether you picked up Wizard Cult's first album back in the day, or this is your first time hearing of them, I strongly recommend you spend your time to listen to this one (and then go back and check out the other one, either way, of course). Sad as I am to learn that this band has no plans to make further music, I'm also quite glad that they're going out on such an honest and powerful note.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bomg, Cult of Occult, Dead Existence, Hypnochron, Primitive Man




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