Saturday, December 09, 2017

Dirges For Divinity...

Djinn and Miskatonic - Even Gods Must Die (2017)

Hailing from India (and the excellent Transcending Obscurity record label), Djinn and Miskatonic made their debut with the album Forever in the Realm back in the year of 2013. Now they're back, with another six songs of doom and dread, rumbling bass and slow-moving riffs, and they're well in their element.
Kicking off with “I, Zombie” (no, not a cover of the White Zombie track), the band plugs into a heavy current, waves of chords drifting back and forth, as they dig into the opener for the better side of fifteen minutes. Having made their demonstration of how well they handle size, the band trims things back for a few following songs, before returning to the ten-plus size for the last two. And through that total hour of dirging, the band tests out some flavor experiments while keeping the modern doom base firm. There's drizzles of black and death, stretches of clean vocals (usually quickly countered with guttural rasping), but the main drives are built on the backs of workhorse riffs, just rolling on and on with some small twists worked into their cycles.
The biggest fault with the music, from my perspective, would be how straight-forward it is. Both the album and band name suggest some mystical elements, but what you get is pretty standard, if jumbo-sized, modern doom metal from start to finish. There's no real toying with unusual sounds (a spot of keyboards here and there would have done wonders in that regard), and the steadiness of the weight makes things feel more sloggish than crushing by the end of it all. It's good stuff, just don't go into it expecting the psychedelic elements suggested by the cover art.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Brume, Electric Wizard, Major Kong, REZN, SwampCult


Saturday, December 02, 2017

Incantations Of Darkness...

Shadowmaster - Shadowmaster (2017)

Formed as Desert Crone, and releasing one EP before taking their current name from its closing track, the Swedish group of Shadowmaster have already done their part to earn good will and favorable buzz from fans of dirty doom. Now that they've put together a full album under their new incarnation, the three-piece band has an eight-song set of bassy assaults, slow-grind rhythms, brazen howls, and alienating distortions. Happily, the whole grimy affair is getting a CD release courtesy of Seeing Red Records, and assuming it gets the attention and acclaim it deserves, a vinyl release hopefully won't be too far off, though the hour-plus run-time will demand double disks in that event.
With crashes of cymbals echoing away over the twisted growls of the guitar, the group raises quite a din, bending it to torturous paths and slamming out chords with little mercy to their mood. The namesake song from the Desert Crone EP gets revisited, and fitted in well with the rest of the malignant vibes the album carries, and which give it such a seething subdermal energy despite the overall slow pacing.
And for all the nastiness that's pumped into each thick-bodied strum, there's an unnerving streak of psychedelia running through most of it. Call it a time capsule of dark-side '60s by way of Swedish memory, or just an updated sludge interpretation, but whatever the prompting, it works well in the context of the heavy blasts so regular across the songs, exceptions like the entirety of “The Lizard King” aside. For the most part, the shit going down is big, buzzy, and downright mean in tone, whether they're using vocals to complement the riffs or not, and that's before even addressing the nineteen-minute finishing song. And on top of all that, it's pretty easy to groove to, assuming a blend of doom, sludge, and psych metal suits your tastes. If that's the case, get yourself a copy already.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Bath, Brume, Goya, Raedon Kong, Wounded Giant


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Aligning Unstable Forces...

Dreamgrave - Monuments I. - The Anxious (2017)

Dreamgrave made quite an impression on me with their debut album, Presentiment, released back in 2014 (good grief, time flies), so I was thrilled to hear that the band had put together some new music, even if it required some line-up changes to get to that point.  This EP, the lengthily titled Monuments I. - The Anxious, is the first in a promised series of EPs exploring thematically-linked focuses, and with the first three songs in that series, the group has set their new members into place in ways that bring their new talents to the fore without sacrificing the band's established character.
The prog roots are still in place, and shown off quite thoroughly, but Dreamgrave steadily play about with incorporating other styles, ranging in tone from death metal brandishes to symphonic expansions.  The fusion of the musical styles is matched by a wide spread of instrumental elements, with guitars (acoustic and electric), assorted other strings, flexible percussion, subtle atmospherics, and an impressive array of vocal approaches all coming together in service of the songs.   There's more, of course, but it would take quite a few sessions with the EP to pin them all down with certainty.  And while I wouldn't say that the band's emotional presentation has matured, since that would be undercutting the professionalism with which they conducted themselves on their first album, it does feel like they've widened the range of what they're sharing with their listeners, with more room for reflection.  It's an EP that feels much deeper than its three-song duration would suggest, and personally, I can't wait to hear what more they have in store for us.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Änglagård, Artension, Indonesia (Russia), Opeth, 3rd Ear Experience


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Stellar Strolls And Stompdowns...

Mother Mars - On Lunar Highlands (2017)

Like the rest of Pepper Shaker Records' line-up, we're big fans of Mother Mars here at The Burning Beard, even if their Australian location does preclude us from catching them live.  So it was a jolt and a thrill to hear that the heavy psych group has another album coming up, and we jumped at the chance to give it an early listen.  And while it's been a couple of years since their last full release, the very fine Black Coffee and Good Advice EP (and four years since their last album, Steam Machine Museum), there's no rust to be heard in the quartet's jammy performance as they launch right into a groovy roller with “Wrecker's Reunion Ball”, getting down and turning it out.
And as they ride on, Mother Mars show that they've been brewing up plenty of new tastes for their fans, while staying true to the fuzzy funkiness and bluesy bent (not to mention a strong shot of spaciness) that makes their heaviness so damn enjoyable. Whether cruising along on a steady riff or blowing it up into expanding madness, the band keeps a through-line of deep-toned rock going, balanced with enough exotic elements to help them stand out even more from similar acts. There's chill material, fiery stuff, goofy fun, and serious rock. Whether you're new to the band or a long-time listener, you're gonna have a good time with this album. Don't miss it, you hear?
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Crown Larks, Frozen Planet....1969, JPT Scare Band, Mondo Drag, Weedeater


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Ruptures, Spires, And Sky...

Jupiterian - Terraforming (2017)

Jupiterian made quite an impression on us back in 2015 with their first LP, Aphotic, so it's with great delight that I dug into this, their latest album, and found their doom just as potent as before, but with an even more expansive scope to the music and production.   The songs sound big, and not just because most of them are about seven minutes long; resonance, timbre, and reverb combine to rattle your teeth while still coming out of your speakers with deceptive smoothness, while the riffs and roamings come down with all the force of mausoleum doors into rain-soaked earth.
Little touches here and there, like the ringing of distant bells or crashes of muffled thunder, help build a more powerful atmosphere, and give a sense of the band trying to make the album a full experience, something more than just a series of songs.  There's enough fury behind the vocals and lead shreddings to suggest black, death, or sludge influence, but doom pretty handily holds sway over all of it.  From the forceful rhythms to the seeping anguish, Terraforming shows the band with incredible command over their material, high skill at building moods, and a way with building understated melodies that can rear up and swallow you whole.  Goddamn good stuff, don't miss out on this if doom is a musical flavor you even slightly enjoy.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Goya, Heavydeath, Ksyatriya, Nelly Olsen


Saturday, November 04, 2017

Tracking Live Eruptions...

Acid Elephant - Solar Caravan (2017)

It's been a while since we've checked in on Acid Elephant, but in the years since their last studio album, Star Collider, they've continued outputting live material at a fairly steady rate. Solar Caravan is the latest recording to capture the group in their live setting, and over the course of its three tracks, they show that they've been hard at work growing their heavy psych power. Massive riffs, rumbling bass, crashing drums, tight grooves, and enough distortion to make your head swim; they've got them all, with the grit and grime to tar your speakers into suitable earthiness. While all the songs are great, the show-stealer is undoubtedly “Radien”, a ~22-minute burner that smokes its way through a few dozen turns in structure, developing a sinister but still psychedelic haze of resonance and tone. As one big EP, it's a fun trip, and Acid Elephant's continued workshopping of their material should keep fans eager for the next full studio effort to arrive.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bitchcraft, Merlin, Mondo Drag, Salem's Pot, Tons