Saturday, April 04, 2020

Taste The Source...

Mind Reverse - Cosmic Flow (2020)


Following up on an EP and a pair of singles all released in 2017 (two years after forming the band), the Brazilian group of Mind Reverse have taken an intensive three years to assemble this, their first LP. With a hefty thirteen full songs to its run, Cosmic Flow shows the band's high-octane heavy rock, with healthy infusions of psychedelic and funk rock, and a few splashes of prog as well, all mixed together in top-notch form.
Starting off with the tasty grooves of “New Lands”, Mind Reverse get things cooking and pull the listener right on into the heat. The hooks, captivating arrangements, and permeating creativity are persistent qualities for the rest of the album as well, with quick-changing rhythms playing up the main beat, fills to get your spine bouncing, and always more room for a snazzy flourish or three. It's hard to pick out a favorite song, as the album flows so damn well through them all, and there's always new details to notice.
Fat but nimble bass-lines, deftly agile drumming, guitar-work that can switch on a dime between gritty and soaring, and vocals that wonderfully complement it all are joined by a number of other touches, with organ, flute, and keyboard embellishments making the music practically burst with enthusiasm and liveliness. There's not a false step among the songs, and the range covered by the band is made all the more impressive by how casually cool they make it seem. There's a bit of a Jane's Addiction vibe at times, but pulled off with much more sincerity, less deflective wryness, and a hell of a lot more psychedelic flair.
For the band's first album, it's put together astonishingly well. The energy is managed nicely, with a few slower groove tunes spaced out among the higher-tempo rides, letting listeners appreciate both sides without getting worn out on either. The stylistic range, as previously mentioned, is fantastic, and there's so many melodic hooks that you'll be spoiled for choice on which one to get stuck in your head. The care put into making the music is evident in every moment, though it never gets in the way of rocking out. Thoroughly impressive work, and some of the best heavy rock I've heard in a long while. Don't miss out on this one, if you have even a slight taste for heavy rock. Cheers to Mind Reverse!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Craneón, Gripe, Manthrass, Necro (Brazil), Persona (Argentina)




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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Ascending From Ooze...

ITUS - Primordial (2020)


Marking the first non-single, non-cover release from this Canadian band, Itus' EP Primordial comes together as just over twenty minutes of sludgy doom with an emphasis on melodic hooks. Balancing out that grooviness with high-pressure harshness from the vocals and guitar tone, opening track “Cloud Reader” pulls listeners in with alternations and build-up of those two sides, Good flavor, solid riffing, and impressive back-and-forth between the band-members kicks things off with a strong lead, picked up by “Question Everything”. Changing to a crunching rhythm for the opening portion of its run, the second song settles into a heavy grind, with plenty of change-ups to keep things interesting, and a rattling climax followed by a feedback bridge.
The title track takes middle position, with the vocals mixed into a submerged crush for the slower parts, but rising back up in the mix to match tempo escalations. It also features maybe the hookiest riff on the EP, and finds its counter-weight in a haunting scream before kicking in more of their sludge influence. Rather than settle into a predictable pattern, they follow that with “This Can't Be”, a moody, contemplative piece which takes more from funeral doom in its styling. Drawn-out chord strains and sustained tone adjustments complement the (mostly) clean vocals, pulling thoughts of early Bell Witch material to mind.
Lastly, “The Chaplain” brings the EP to a close on a lush and vibrant note, with early tone study gradually turning to a concrete structure, joined by vocals and regular chording. Taking its pacing carefully, the song grows in sinister intensity and pressure, riding its way up to a pounding crescendo and feedback finish. A very strong first release, and well worth checking out for doom fans looking for something with some brains behind the fuzz.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Dead Hand, The Hyle, Nest, NIXA, Wolf Blood




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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Power Of The Cosmos...

Earth Drive - Helix Nebula (2020)


Coming about three years after their previous album, Stellar Drone, the Portuguese band of Earth Drive are back with more tracks than any of their other albums. Subtitled “Dust Makes This Cosmic Eye Look Red”, the new album shows Earth Drive continuing to hone their mix of heavy psych and space metal, and the results are downright fantastic, though it takes numerous play-throughs to appreciate just how much they've packed into the experience.
The first of the dozen included on Helix Nebula is the intro-ish “Cosmic Eye”, which matches a jangling guitar riff to deep-throb bass alternations, kicking things right into gear. A fade leads to the title track, in which rolling rhythms shift momentum between the two lead vocalists, on the back of guitar and drum swells. The excitement of the band to be back is evident, and it's hard to not get pulled in by that energy, along with the hooks and power of the song itself.
As things cruise on from there (with the transitory track “Holy Drone” guiding listeners inward), the care that the band has put into giving the album a persistent sense of flow becomes increasingly evident. Careful handling of the songs' energies creates something of an undertow effect; you try to think back to how the music got to a certain point, and you have to keep threading further and further back, as it builds on itself so much throughout the album.
To be clear, Earth Drive most definitely do not sacrifice individual song quality for the shape of the overall album. Song after song rocks and captivates, with nuances and twists helping to distinguish each track, though the underlying character is clearly consistent. Grooves and deep riff explorations are given full due, and the band's knack for going from an introspective moment of quiet to an outburst of liveliness gets put to superb use several times.
A pair of 'bridge' tracks (“Nagarjuna” and “Anulom Vilom”) mark the change-over to what would be Side B on a vinyl release of the album (and can some savvy label license this band's discography to make that happen already?). With the first return to 'full-length' song size, “Science of Pranayama”, ED reassert themselves in what feels like the album's climax, with the meditative “Deep Amazon”, expansive “Space God”, and outro of “Phantalien” following. All together, the new album is outstanding, and shows quite thoroughly how Earth Drive keep building and developing on the ideas of their earlier work. If you're a fan of heavy psych, do not let yourself miss this.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Frozen Planet....1969, Hijo de la Tormenta, Jess and the Ancient Ones, Ksyatriya, Mondo Drag




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Saturday, March 07, 2020

Lowering The Mask...

Hyde - Hyde (2020)


Made and recorded in France, with mixing and mastering handled in Sweden, this debut album from the band known as Hyde packs seven solid tracks of heavy desert rock. Coming together at just over forty-five minutes, the band spreads their wings with style and plenty of memorable hooks, and shows that they've got the chops to keep their chosen style rolling through songs both short and long.
Opening with “The Victim”, the band starts on good footing as big riffs rumble on, get tightened up for the verses, and swell again on the choruses. It brought Kyuss to mind, but Hyde have put enough of their own spin on the vibes to keep it respectable. “Black Phillip” follows, slowing down to more of a doom rock mode, though the vocals hang on to their warmth. Again, the guitar riffs are where the power stands out most, as they hit a savory balance between hooky melodics and craggy roughness. Some spoken/whispered touches, particularly in the subdued breakdown, help shape the song's atmosphere further, making for a brief bout of creepiness before surging back up into the rock.
“Tsunami” takes things in a direction even slower and colder for its intro, and while it retains some of that tone for its remainder, it's largely back into the heavy desert rock. The tail end of the song lives up to its name with a swelling crescendo, then it's on into “D W A G B”, the most mysteriously named track of the album. Making use of an extensive sample (you'll just have to listen to place it), the song is otherwise instrumental, and it's one of the harder-kicking rides Hyde offer so far.
It also marks the halfway point, as the last three songs (“Hunter's Run”, “The Barber Of Pitlochry”, and a self-titled track) add up to twenty-three minutes of the total play-time. Fittingly, it's here where the mood and feel of the songs grow to their biggest proportions. Add to that the compelling flow within the tracks and between them, and there's not much choice but to just go with the ride through the back half and enjoy the massive grooves. Of course, “Hyde”, at eleven minutes and change in the closing position, is the one which dominates, and which shows the band working the most structural changes into their song-writing. All in all, a solid debut, and one which should have desert rock fans keeping an ear out for more to come from Dr. Jekyll's dark side.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Forming the Void, Kyuss, Sonora Ritual, Snake Thursday, Tuber




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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Readying The Ride...

Silent Agreement - From the Amusement Park (2020)


Making their debut with this three-track EP, the German group of Silent Agreement bring an updated but earthy take on classic hard rock as their main focus. Punchy rhythms and to-the-point riffing keep things active and moving, while the vocals hit a nice balance between roughness and clarity. “Solid”, the first of the EP's songs, opens with a funky flanging guitar solo before dropping in a grimy hard rock groove and vocals to match. A string of questions leads to assurance that the singer will be “solid as a rock,” before kicking back to another flanged break, then cycling back through. It has good energy and a well-grounded groove,
“Dream World” picks up with a somewhat more easy-going vibe, as the singer reflects on a series of mental images and scenarios, ultimately refusing them all. The rising energy of the chorus lets the vocals really shine, while a slow-down bridge gives things a shot of soul. Lastly, “Judas” brings a growl of contempt to the lyrics and their delivery, while a dark edge infiltrates the guitar's chunky chords. Another tasty bridge does duty here, with some of the fanciest noodling of the EP popping up as it rides along. A nice intro to the band, with enough earworm hooks to keep these cropping up in memory until their follow-up arrives.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; early Exciter, High Spirits, Molly Hatchet, Motorhead, early Van Halen




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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Early Signs Of Life...

Randy Holden - Population II (1970)


Originally released in 1970, the debut solo album from Blue Cheer guitarist Randy Holden featured a style that was unfamiliar at the time, but which has subsequently grown to a full genre. While the hard and psychedelic rock styles of the '60s are still quite evident, there's also the chunky riffs and fat bass-end of heavy metal peeking its head out into the world on this album.
Of course, back then, the record technicians who had a fix on how that style should be handled in the mastering process were few and far between, so now that half a century has passed, Riding Easy Records have unearthed it and given it proper audio treatment, letting the wide-spread grooves and sprawling solos shine out with greater body and fullness.
For such an early chunk of heavy metal exploration, the album goes down with surprising smoothness. Packing four full tracks, with a couple of shorties sandwiched between them, the album flows along in cool form, letting its melodies and hooks roll along without too much fuss about sticking to the standard practices. It's a fun and fascinating peek at some nearly-lost roots of the style, and with the ten-minute closer of “Keeper of My Flame”, it packs a big finish. Riding Easy's reissue is due out on February 28th, so if you're ready to dig on one of the pioneers of heavy metal, get ready to pick this one up and have it take you back.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Deep Purple, The Human Instinct, Iron Butterfly, MC5, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels




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