Saturday, July 04, 2020

See, Hear, Feel...

Sound of Origin - The All Seeing Eye (2020)

After popping up with their Seeds of the Past EP back in 2017, and making an appearance on last year's Doomed & Stoned in England compilation, the quartet of Sound of Origin have rolled back around with their first full album, boasting fifty minutes of stoner-tinged doom across nine songs.
First of the bunch is “Not Dead Yet”, with some lancing guitar and booming bass chords setting things up for a run of slow and heavy riffage. The title track pops out of that form, briefly, with a burst of higher-tempo drumming opening it up before sliding right back into regular stoner doom proceedings. Good mixing keeps the bass unmuddled, while the slight sinking of the vocals makes them a part of the crunches and fuzz. A mid-way break launches things back into the higher energy altitudes, before arcing back down into a bass riff that makes up for the interlude with extra weightiness.
And, for the most part, that MO carries the album. There's twists of sludge (as in “Dim Carcosa” and “Lockjaw”, their choice for lead single), and Sabbathy melodics (“Morning Bird”), but the grounding in that style established by the opening tracks is always evident, however tweaked. Luckily, the interplay between the bass and drums (like the opening cruise of “Stoned Messiah Blues”) keeps things fun enough to buoy the listener through the album. It's an easy one to let yourself let go and float along with, thanks to the solid riffs throughout each song, and the momentum rarely lets up.
Closing out with the nine-minutes-and-change of “Tempest Dunes”, the band stretches their riffs and scope out to monstrous sizing, working a call-and-return structure to fun effect. All together, it should be a nice treat for stoner doom fans who've been looking for a new group to add to their rotation. The All Seeing Eye goes up for sale on August 21st, through APF Records.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Attalla, Dopethrone, Godsleep, Tar Pit, Wizard Smoke


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Crushed In The Gears...

Malsten - The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill (2020)

Following up on their Torsion single from May of last year, the Swedish doom quartet of Malsten (which translates to 'grindstone', or, more thematically, 'millstone') have emerged more fully with this, their debut album. Leading off, naturally enough, with the song from that preceding single, the album gets underway on a horripilating vibe, with feedback and synths rolling out an uneasy tension before the guitar comes in with a raw-edged riff. It's a nice, broad-shouldered progression, and the band takes their time building it out for a bit before expanding things with the vocal incorporation. Should you wish to follow along with the lyrics, you'll get to explore the dastardly doings of the titular mill's owner. According to the band, this album shares only the first four chapters/tracks of that story; an uncommon approach, but the distinctiveness is well appreciated.
Through each of the songs (“Immolation”, “Grinder”, and “Compunction” follow, in that order), Malsten show themselves to be quite skilled not just with the moment-to-moment doom, but also at the larger shaping of the songs, and their place in the album as a whole. They're able to dig into a riff or rhythm interaction and tease it into something new, without it seeming overly indulgent or dry. The slow slides into relative calm, when they're used, are effectively offset by crashing returns, and their use of synth textures (courtesy of member Andreas, who's also the bassist) lends the music some engaging further dimensions. Bridges and breaks come through naturally, without a sense of over-orchestration, and the band's ability to keep strong momentum flowing through the various change-ups is one of the album's most impressive qualities.
Heaviness is abundant (and then some), but it's managed with an ear towards how it can strengthen the song, rather than being a persistent, unchanging weight across everything, as some doom bands fall into doing. The band also operates so smoothly with how its individual instruments come together, it can go right over your head how well they're playing off of each other if you're just grooving along with it. But they've definitely got the chops, as this excellent first album shows, and finding out how they grow from here is going to be very exciting. If fine-crafted traditional doom is your thing (or if it's not, but you're willing to give it a shot), do yourself a favor and pick this up once it's out. Pre-orders start July 3rd, full release is July 24th, vinyl is coming through Interstellar Smoke Records. Hats off to Malsten.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Descend Into Despair, Earthshine, The Fateful Hour, Heavydeath, HellLight


Saturday, June 06, 2020

Soot And Stones...

Chimney Creeps - Nosedive (2020)

Popping up from New York with this, their debut album, the power trio of Chimney Creeps (like chimney-sweeps, get it?) brings a seven-song batch of sludge-varnished heavy rock to the table. Flexing their style and rotating member focus on the instrumental opener “March of the Creeps”, the band shows a bit of grunge flavoring, but with a leaner, buzzier approach. It's a good foundation-setter for the next tune, “Head in the Sand”, which brings in guitarist Dennis Haggerty's lead vocals, striking a balance between punkish barking and moments of melodic harmonizing. Both the bassist (Donavon deCesare) and drummer (Alex Hadjiloukas) provide backing vocals throughout the album, pulling their performances in the songs that much tighter together.
As the songs go on, the band shows its facility with crusty riffs, big swells, dirty grooves, and beefy bass-lines. Keeping up a steady current of wounded anger, the group digs out old-school hooks and gives them a modern sharpening, while keeping the underground vibes well in effect. Things get a bit expanded in the second half, with the closer of “Diving Line” shading out into a number of stony bridges. Riding out on a big-finish groove, the Chimney Creeps make it easy to spin the album time after time. It'll be interesting to hear how their style develops with subsequent releases, whether they play up their dirt rock, grunge, or sludgy sides, or keep honing a fusion of the three. However it goes, if you've been in the mood for some audibly authentic heavy rock, you'd do well to pick yourself up a copy of this album. Available on vinyl and digital, both at very reasonable prices.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Alice in Chains, Funeral Horse, Pale Grey Lore, Rainbows Are Free, Sex Scheme


Saturday, May 30, 2020

Down In A Hole...

IRN - IRN EP (2020)

Having kept up a steady stream of releases since their self-titled debut album back in 2013, the Canadian group of IRN have kept honing their sludge chops with each split, single, and LP to emerge. This new EP is their mostly widely distributed to date, with support from Breathe Plastic, Rope or Guillotine, Bad Moon Rising, and Craniophagus Parasiticus, coming out on tape, digital, and vinyl once July 1st rolls around.
First of the two tracks is “Blood Seeping from Your Eyes”, which flows from yelled curses right into the main groove. Punch-ins of feedback and snarls of bass smear right into the percussion and bellows, with the ~11-minute track continually finding room for another twist or bridge. “DIE!” is the most common and recognizable command among the vocal distress, and the song builds up some great tension (underscored by ringing feedback) as it burns along. A resurgence of venom helps spike the song into its closing moments, before moving on to the second side.
“Forever Miserable” moves into a slower pace, grinding along while bringing the vocals further to the fore, and delivering coordinated bursts from the instruments. Again, a use of rising tension throughout the track keeps the energy pushing along, with the band rising to recapture the speed from the first song. An extended mood shift back towards the slower material brings it back down to the mud from the midpoint, but revs back up for a big finish. Overall, some solid sludge, and a good way to get out some frustration if you happen to be stuck indoors.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Body Void, Lifeless Gaze, NEST, Noothgrush, Primitive Man


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Cracked And Cadaverous...

Eremit - Desert of Ghouls (2020)

Wasting no time in following up on their debut album from last year, the German trio of Eremit have unleashed this two-track EP, released (as was their LP) by the prolific Transcending Obscurity Records.
Leading with the nine-minute “Beheading the Innumerous”, the band rapidly rumbles up to action speed, pulled upwards by a growler of a riff and stabs of guitar feedback. As the rasping vocals make their way in, the tune congeals into a firmer groove, still working that central riff and showing how durable it is. Some tempo adjustment about midway through leads to more of a groove rider, but the original heaviness and raw vibes remain intact. Things ramp back up to higher speeds for the finish, with a grinding last minute leading to the next track.
The B-side is “City of Râsh-il-nûm”, and while the song doesn't quite deliver the Tolkien-ish mood suggested by that title, it does take its time at the start to build up a gentle atmosphere. Some slow string action, quiet percussion to guide it along, and some echoing bells or chimes glide along for about three of the song's twelve minutes. After that point, some amped guitar enters the mix, perking things up and providing enough dissonance that you may get a few goosebumps prickles while listening. Gradual increases on the general heaviness follow, making the song something of a study in the band's ability to pace itself while pushing onward. Slightly before the mid-point, they kick into hard gear, bumping up the volume on everything along with their intensity, and continue to cruise while finding additional elements to introduce along the way. All around, a good showing from this band, with some fun clues as to where they'll be going from here.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Deuil, Mudbath, Plaguewielder, Slabdragger, Zaraza


Saturday, May 16, 2020

Dreams And Delirium...

Slowbot - Sleepwalker (2020)

It's been almost five years since Slowbot's last release, with their sophomore EP, Pacifier for the Mind.  Following just a year after their self-titled debut EP (which we covered here), their second effort found the band solidifying their stoner rock flavors into a heavier form, and stepping up their cover art as well.  Both trends continue with this LP, which comes as a welcome return from their hiatus, and brings with it six tracks of the French group's heavy rock explorations.
First of the tunes is “Sleepwalker (Part 1)” (its second half closes out the album, fittingly), a creeping crusher which finds the band delving into doomier territory than they've shown on either of the earlier releases.  Once the mood is firmly set, the vocals arrive, ringing out over the swampiness of the guitar and bass, and muffled clangs of the cymbals, with a goosebump-raising ghostliness to the timbre and intonation.  Some deft soloing directs a bridge into more pronounced restatement of the original riffage, with a brief drop before surging even higher for the finish.
With that powerful opening, there would be a lot of options for how to follow it up, and Slowbot go with a shift towards more of a hard rock route in “Strange Fish”.  The drums are allowed to come through more clearly, the guitar riff rides faster and more intently, and the vocals, while still echoing with some distortion, feel more earthly in their delivery.  As if to balance that out, the breakdown is much more psychedelic, with some serious flourishes on the strings.  “Inside” steps back into the big shoes, coming together at just under nine minutes, and bringing its heavy rock base on a versatile trip.  The vocals come through cleaner still, and some lush atmospheric bridges rise up, but with the guitar and bass slamming their chords down as hard as they do, not an ounce of heaviness is sacrificed.
Opening the B-side (assuming this album gets the vinyl release it absolutely deserves) is “Ride”, which brings a rollicking rhythm to bear, and a pounding chorus to get lodged in your head.  Dropping down to just seven minutes, it really evokes the sun-baked feel of rolling down a highway with no particular destination, and practically demands to be played at high volume.  Penultimate track “Here Comes the Fire”, far from being a toss-off warm-up for the finish, changes to a rawer guitar tone to help it stand out (as the LP's shortest song, it kind of needs that feature).  Some droning warbling from the singer helps lend further garage psych flavoring, and the guitarist really seems to be having fun with the solo on this one.
Lastly, “Sleepwalker (Part 2)” brings a close with its nearly eleven-minute run.  Pulling together vibes from all the preceding songs, it unfurls a lengthy instrumental wandering, building up energy before the vocals break in, pulling it into the doom-tuned mood.  Flowing from there through assorted other twists and mutations, the band eventually ties it all back into the original order, giving a fine showcasing of their chops in the process.  It's a pleasure to hear Slowbot back again, and rising to the occasion with such verve and creativity.  Here's hoping that (in addition to this getting a vinyl pressing) their next release doesn't have such a time gap in making its way to us.  Even if it should, though, this one is loaded with enough variety and life to hold up to playing all that while.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Canopy, Fatso Jetson, Greenthumb, Keef Mountain, Pale Grey Lore