Saturday, December 03, 2016

Shrouded Hands of Doom...

Shroud Eater / Dead Hand - Split (2016)

While Shroud Eater has been on our radar, this is the first of their releases we've reviewed, so it's a pleasure to encounter them teamed up with Dead Hand (whom we've covered before, and always enjoyed).  For this split, it's a fairly straight-forward affair, each band getting half a 7" for their song, but they don't put a moment of the format to waste.
Shroud Eater open things up with a thick, rough-edged wave of bass, soon joined by the slow-howl vocals and a big, rolling beat.  Things are kept swampy, teetering somewhere in the overlap of doom metal and sludge, and though it feels a little short for their style at just six minutes, the band manages to pack a sense of extra size into it with the reverb and aggressive chording.
Dead Hand pick up from there, launching into a faster, more venomous brand of doom.  There's touches of both black and death to be heard, but those work more as fuel additives in the doom engine they're running as they roar through the song's valleys and tangles.
Very solid stuff from each band, making this split a great spot to jump in if you're unfamiliar with either band, or both of 'em.  Check it out the next time you're in the mood for a quick shot of doom with nice variety to it.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Blind Samson, The Munsens, Reptensol, Trees, Wounded Giant


Friday, September 23, 2016

Scorching Desert Blues...

Turnip - Window Killer (2016)
What would happen if you stuck Soundgarden, ZZ Top and Clutch in a blender?  Well, apart from a bloody mess of blended humans and guitars, the resulting brew might sound something like the exhilarating noise that American stoner blues merchants, Turnip, have come up with.
Never To Bleed opens Window Killer with the musical equivalent of a widescope desert panorama.  Blusey slide guitars and husky vocals set an atmospheric precedent that informs, but never restrains, the rest of the album.  Howl sees Turnip move away from out-and-out heavy blues to a somewhat grundgier sound that never quite shakes the shackles of the blues away but definitely feels as though it occupies a different space from the album's other songs.
Desert overlords Kyuss are invoked in spirit and attitude, likewise the ghost of messers Plant, Page, Bonnam and Jones hover over Turnip during their most soulfully blusey moments; but the group make a respectful nod to the heroes of old without ever nicking from them.
The remains that, even if you strip all of the influence away, you're left with a really excellent heavy stoner blues record that shouldn't be missed.  The comedic name belies a band of genuine quality and Window Killer is great album.
~ Martin

For fans of; Clutch, ZZ Top, Kyuss, Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Chaos Reigns Supreme

 Hexxus - Tunguska (2016)

Are you fucking ready to make every hair on your body stand on end and melt any sense you ever held dear?
The Alabama bred Hexxus has Billy Luttrel on guitar and vocals; Matt Marks on drums and vocals; and Justin Regelin on bass and vocals. All three have been busy in the world of doomy sludge for some time with different projects such as Molehill, Hog Mountain, Charnel Ground, and Capsized. Their amplifier worshipping sound has opened a riff of time and space with their newest LP Tunguska. 
"Andromeda" has a slow burning beginning until the screeched out singing, which is a duty shared by all three members, and doesn't let get go until you completely suffocate from it. At ten minutes in length you can definitely see their influences of Swans and Neurosis but with an even deeper sense of aggression. That pure hatred that bleeds through to "Andromeda" doesn't skip a beat with "The Great Migration" with the vocals just getting more and more gnarled and twisted the guitars begin to swell and soar giving more depths to the sound. Justin's bass beats grind together for "Cross Bearer" as Billy's guitar attempts to keep everything in some sort of order but somehow sounds more chaotic for it. The layers topple over for a moment of clarity but that's quickly destroyed as the screeched vocals are dubbed, echoed and sound tortured beyond belief. All sounds cease any sense of order in "Extinct is Instinct" as just pure hell with every sound coming together to burn down any clarity in your head. An acid soaked guitar comes out of nowhere breaking up the doom jarring all of your senses. "Tunguska" ends everything and begins with a surprisingly clean production. Banging drums. Glorious guitars. And even the still snarled vocals are tamer in nature. It's almost like the monstrous band in reflecting on all its destroyed. All it's burned. All it's killed. It's calm now. But then the second half begins. Akin to a giant beast roaming the land for the next village to destroy. The vocals come back harsher than ever. The instruments are played in a primal nature. Then they slow down their sludgy guitars. Each note slower and slower. Until there's nothing but silence. 
For Fans Of: Neurosis, Swans, The Melvins, Godflesh, Converge

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Thunder And Destruction...

- Tuho (2016)

After warming up with a couple of EPs over the past couple of years, Finnish group Dö have released their first full-length album, and the six tracks held within it present their sludgy doom in fine form, deploying gruff vocals, pounding drums, and low-growling strings in a swampy mass of beats and anger.  "Born Under Black Wings" opens things up with a roar, pursuing that initial burst of power with dogged determination, throwing chunky chords and snarls around without fear.  "Everblast II (The Aftermath)" follows, switching in some higher pitch for the guitar and bringing some earworm melodies with it, riding the riffs through thundering drum-work and the lower strings' rumble. From there, "Ex Oblivione" shows more of that melodic side, with an instrumental ride through uneasy atmosphere and increasingly pressurized measures swelling to monstrous slamming.  "Kylmä" rides a rugged groove in to pick up where "Ex Oblivione" leaves off, working its main riff with focus and wonderful grime to the tones.  "Hail the Fire", the shortest track by far at a little under two and a half minutes, provides a calm interlude on acoustic guitar, with vocals toned down to match its quiet contrast.
But then "Forsaken Be Thy Name" rips into life, with its ~12-minute runtime to bring things to an end, and those moments of softness are gone, stomped out by a colossus of pain, savagery, and regret.  Sometimes using the full instrument set, and paring it down for aching power at other moments, the song makes for an excellent close-out to the album, showing even more variety to Dö's expansive style.  For a first album, the presentation by the band should have them winning over the ears of heavy music fans around the world in short order, so be sure you give them a listen as soon as you can.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Attalla, Funeral Horse, Green Fiend, Oldd Wvrms, Wounded Giant


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Gorging On Ether...

Devourer of Heaven - When the Sky Fell EP (2016)

This first EP from the Los Angeles-based doom project Devourer of Heaven is the work of Alex Makuch, who wrote, performed, recorded, and mixed all of the songs.  "Rise" starts off the EP in a sedate tone, strings being gently warmed up, before the heavier elements filter into place.  Some nice grime to the guitar tone clears the way for the growled vocals, and as the guitar picks up into wilder life, the bass and drums swell out into a grander scope, fitting well with the track's title and laying a strong groundwork for what follows.
"Fire and Pain" takes it from there, with guest Sten Hasselquist contributing some extra guitar layers, as the mood shifts to more of a melodic doom sensibility, though the hard edges of the break-downs retain the kick of the first song.  A smooth shift carries on into "Empire Dead", showing some more overt funeral doom influences (balanced by some lively howls from guitar) as the weight of the chords intensifies and the bridging riffs slow.
Lastly, "Gallows Prayer" returns to the initial calm of "Rise", savoring some slow-picked notes before blooming into a lush arrangement working thick-nested drum-work against the slower strings, and finishing with a solid flourish and declension.  The variety put into the songs speaks well for the DoH project's future, as there's a sense of fruitful experimentation to each of the songs.  Far from being a one-note style worshipper, Makuch seems to be taking pleasure in finding ways of fusing non-obvious aspects of different doom strains together for something which challenges him, while not going overboard enough to lose grasp of the songs' main drives.  Good stuff all around, and a very promising start for the band.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Battle Path, Blind Samson, Crimson Altar, The Munsens, Pillar of Leviathan


Friday, August 26, 2016

Joyriding Meteoroids...

Stonecutter - Space Ride EP (2016)

Making their debut with this EP (which is titled as simply Stonecutter EP on their BandCamp), this duo from Poland introduce themselves to the world with five tracks focused on having fun with that mix of styles that Polish groups seem so adept with: namely, doom/stoner metal with a wide streak of psychedelia and some bluesy currents.
Opening track "Tombstone" draws listeners into the action with eight minutes of instrumental cruising, building momentum and craggy riffs with thick fuzzy bass to serve as their tarmac, before "Space Rock" activates the jets to break out of the atmosphere and head for outer space with plans of bleary-eyed mischief.  Alternating between deep, hard crunches and more open acoustic environments for the strings, the song keeps things burning along without staying too rooted in what came before it.
The band's self-titled track picks up from there, sprawling out over more than nine minutes, and slipping into a mellower ride (one which literally gave me goosebumps as the tones slid over each other), though it's not too long before the heaviness re-emerges, with pedal treatments of the strings producing something akin to gravity's pull in audio form.  "Stone Cold Blues" picks up after that, getting even crunchier and dirtier with the riffs, and finally, "Klint Westwood" provides a two-minute wrap-up with a spaced-out take on a familiar melody.
As a whole, the EP does a great job of showing off the duo's talents, covering a nice range of varying styles, heaviness, and techniques in execution, while leaving enough unsaid to build temptation for follow-ups.  Personally, I can't wait to hear more from this band, so I'll be hoping that they get the recognition and support from fans that they've earned with their work so far.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Acid Elephant, Dead Thunder, Frozen Planet....1969, Gallileous, Major Kong