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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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Shadows Against a Wall...

Buensucesco ANALOGY: The Sun | Divided Line (2017)

Concept albums are tricky to review.  If I hadn't read Buensucesco's promotional material before listening to their new EP ANALOGY: The Sun | Divided Line, would I have known this compact, quixotic journey of an album is inspired by "Myth of the Cave," an Israeli musical suite itself inspired by Plato's Allegory of the Cave?  Probably not.  Even so, their aspirations to conceptually lofty heights shine through in inventive songwriting, surprising instrumentation, and clever twists.  And with song titles like "On the one hand, the poor put down, surrendered bought all the things were taken, much cohesion, a lot of sweetness"... well, I think we can all agree that Buensucesco is reaching for something well beyond ground-level rock.

The first couple of tracks get right into it with wailing guitars and a big, moody sound.  Evocative and occasionally mysterious, these feel like post-rock songs with something waiting just beneath the surface, like a trap waiting to be sprung.  "The tulip curse came with the arrival of fall" (I warned you about the song titles) is a relaxed, hopeful piece that brings in twinkling piano keys under soaring guitars.  By this point I had taken it for granted that I was listening to instrumental post-rock, when "Wunderkammer" surprised me with death growls and alternating Isis-like clean vocals.  The songs leading up to this point feel like an introduction by comparison, though that's by pure virtue of shock: "Wunderkammer" brings a force barely intimated by its predecessors.  Track 5 snaps the other way as it soothes with soft chords and gentle piano backing, working its way up to string-bending heaviness and pounding beats.  The last song, mercifully titled "Fate forgive us," brings in a saxophone, of all things, eschewing a jazz quality in favor of something sleepy, dream-like, and very much in keeping with the tradition of shoegaze.

It's obvious that the Buensucesco are brimming over with ideas and anxious to put them on display.  From pianos, to saxophones, to synths, to song titles that would stretch the word count of any review, these guys have crammed a lot of ideas into a package that's barely a half hour long.  ANALOGY: The Sun | Divided Line features bold yet compartmentalized experimentation, and I'm looking forward to Buensucesco exploring the ideas they've laid out here and expanding them into something larger.

For Fans Of; Isis, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, Ashes and Iron

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Buensucesco - Fate forgive us (320 kbps)


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sticky Smoking Pages...

Pale Grey Lore - Pale Grey Lore (2016)

Though this album was originally released last summer, it's picked up some new attention with Kozmic Artifactz' plan to put out a vinyl release of it via their Oak Island Records imprint.  Given Kozmic Artifactz' reliable track record (no puns intended, I swear), it seemed worth our time to give a listen to these lads from Ohio. For a debut, the self-titled album has a nice, strong, confident stride to its style, from the opening track's brandished chords to the final moments of closer “Grave Future” and the trippy invitations it contains.
The music does a fun job of blending modern stoner doom with joyful '70s heavy rock tonality, with the beats and rhythms further swirling the lines between those two big influences.  Stuff like the southern-fried grooves of “Black Sun Rise” had me in mind of Mountain, for example, while the touch of Deep Purple, Blue Cheer, and Iron Butterfly can be felt in various other places in the album.  And like so many of those albums from yesteryear, the guitarist manages to give his instrument a sense of its own life, at times not so much playing as singing through its strings.
And the rhythms are similarly new but familiar, often managing to get my head swaying along within a few moments of kicking into the song.  While not exactly uplifting, there is a warmth and friendliness to the music that does a lot to help it quickly connect to the right spots for fans of heavy rock, and the details of the music are thick enough that on repeat listenings, you can either let yourself sink into the grooves or pick away at all the little things happening, depending on your mood at the time.  In any event, it's a damn good start for this group, and one which has me hoping to hear more from them in the near future.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid King, Ancient Warlocks, Desert Suns, JPT Scare Band, Wizard Smoke