Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ophidian Interment...

Shrine of the Serpent / Black Urn - Shrine of the Serpent | Black Urn (2017)


When we last heard from Shrine of the Serpent, it was with their debut EP, back in 2015, so it's nice to see that the band is still going. They've resurfaced to do this split with Black Urn (a band new to me personally, though they've been around since about the same time SotS started), with just over half an hour of material between two tracks from each band. Shrine take the lead with “Desecrated Tomb”, a grim piece of exquisitely heavy doom spiked with sludgy feedback on the strings and a gurgling rasp on the vocals, drums pushing back against their near-burial in the low-end resonance. Snarls of melody claw out from the persistent pressure of the thrumming strings, generating a pull that's hard to resist and effectively drawing listeners along into “Catacombs of Flesh”, their second contribution to the split. The catacombs bring a bit more of a death metal influence to bear, though it still has that near-funereal doom feel of being submerged underground with the weight the band brings to bear, and SotS burn hard until the end comes with a decisive impact.
Black Urn's half of the split brings cleaner tone for the strings, with the finger-slides audible and emotive in their opener, “My Strength Lies Within Heavenless Plains”, which amplifies the funeral doom vibe before bringing the death back with a crash and violent escalation. That rage carries on through the rest of the track, never falling back into restraint until they've exhausted themselves. And when that time comes, it's picked up by their heavy sludge cover of Alice In Chains' “Junkhead”, the lyrics turned into unintelligible rasping howls. After hearing the laughable 'doom' cover of Pink Floyd's “Money” from Doom Side of the Moon recently, it's refreshing to hear a doom cover of a song that doesn't drop the ball, and while it would have been fun to have some of the original's harmonization for the choruses, Black Urn bring a strong sense of non-faked character to their rendition.
Between the two bands, it's a damn good time for those of you who like your doom dirty, kind of depressive, and heavy as fuck. General advice of not operating heavy machinery while using this applies, but if you do, be sure to play it loud enough to scare anyone in range of your vehicle's speakers.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Heavydeath, Hesperian Death Horse, Jupiterian, Mörk Gryning




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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Interpreting Spilled Blood...

Dirt Forge - Soothsayer (2017)


Hailing from Denmark, Dirt Forge are a fresh new band making their debut with this album, packing a solid forty-five minutes of sludgy doom metal (including a three-part title track) into the spaces of Soothsayer. There's some upbeat aspects to the music, mainly in the hooky melodies that are threaded throughout most of the songs, but on the whole, the music comes out swinging low and hard, with the vocalist's growls nicely complementing the snarling guitar and head-bash drumming.
By the time the band hits their second track, “Fortress Burning”, they're well in swing with the beats and grooves, with the thrashing and chord-clawing fitting together in a nasty mash which hints at some death metal fondness in the members' tastes. It's not high-flown metal; there's few trips through complicated time signature switch-ups or multi-part arpeggio solos. But the meathead vibe works well with the brutal flavor of the music, and there's more than enough unexpected inclusions to make clear that there's intelligence behind the slamming. As the trek continues, lyrics of death and despair filling it out, there's a firm sense of the affection this band has for the music and its history, and their homage pays off with some tasty riffs and hellacious howling. Check it out if you've been hungering for some mean metal with a low-end emphasis, and keep an ear out for more to come from these Denmark doomsters.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Black Anvil, Noothgrush, Oak, The Scimitar, Wizard Smoke




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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Crash Of Diesel...

Space Wizard - Vol. 1 (2017)


Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, Space Wizard are making their debut with this five-track EP of retro heavy rock, spiced with touches of fantasy metal, to make their impression of channeled '70s attitude upon the world. You can practically smell the beer-stained denim while listening to their songs of demons and wizards, so it's a bit of a shame the cover art doesn't offer some imagery you'd see on the side of a van (although the logo's spot-on) to go with the tunes; I guess they're saving that for the LP. There's not many surprises to be heard, but then again, that's not something for which they're aiming. It's just some straight-up riff digging, so as long as that's what you're craving, you should be able to have a fun time with this EP. And as it is their first release, what they've put together is pretty good by those standards, with a square chance that they'll spread their style further on upcoming efforts. Give it a listen when you've got a six-pack handy, and keep your ears open for more to come from this crew.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Demon Head, La Chinga, Orchid, Sheavy, Teacher




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Saturday, June 03, 2017

Stricken But Strong...

Illimitable Dolor - Illimitable Dolor (2017)


Making their debut with this album, Illimitable Dolor are an Australian band, spun out of The Slow Death to pay tribute to the death of their vocalist, Gregg Williamson. Furnishing a solid modern doom base with touches of death metal in the vocals and gleams of funeral doom in the pacing, emotion, and understated melodies (plus the organ-styled keyboards), ID have put together an album that's fully self-contained while also offering appreciable depth of content.
Though there's plenty of time given to the guttural vocals, the band builds atmosphere and follows riffs through numerous instrumental passages, allowing the somber mood to mature, seep in, and affect listeners' own emotions, assuming they're giving the music the attention it deserves. It's one that's tough to analyze, being suited more to simply being soaked in as an experience, but that's not to say that ID slump any on the song-writing front. As they and their instruments groan through the album's course, there's a broad slice of the metal spectrum explored along the way, made more impressive by how firmly each style is slotted into the music. It's an album well-suited to use for delving into your own depression, or for riding along with the band through theirs. That the songs can linger on in memory on the strength of their tunes is a plus, and hopefully the group will continue on to create something pursuing the melodies, without their grief holding onto them quite so tightly at that point.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Jupiterian, Sunwølf, Thergothon, WarHorse




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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Rising To The Sun...

Brume - Rooster (2017)


When we last heard from Brume, it was a couple of years ago, when they brought out their debut album, Donkey. The craggy bass-lines and deep valleys of beats have shifted with their new album, Rooster, moving to swifter tempos, a more intense general energy, and a more experimental approach to the song-writing. The vocals, which were a high point of the first album for me, have also received some tweaking, with some fun use of multi-tracking allowing Susie McMullin to sing against herself, swirl about, and slip verses in on the trailing sustains of their predecessors (check out “Harold” for some clear examples, or closing track “Tradewind” for some sharp soulfulness).
Maybe most noticeably, the drums move about much more, and while I didn't have any complaints about the action they offered in Donkey, I have to say that Rooster brings a wider scope to the territory Brume as a full band are able to cover, performing with high style all the while. At the same time, they've still got a handle on the psych-infused doom of their first album, with plenty of satisfaction for that vein streaming through tracks like “Calling the Serpent's Bluff” and “Tradewind”, and the savoring of that becomes all the richer for being something they've decided to hold close in the context of the band's expanded palette. Using the sophomore album to redefine their sound without losing what fans latched onto in the first album is an act that relatively few bands are able to pull off, but Brume have done a more-than-solid job of just that in Rooster. Fans of doom, go into this without building too many preconceptions; just do yourself a favor, take some time when you've got an hour to spare, and check it out in full.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid King, Bell Witch, Blood Farmers, Dorthia Cottrell, Venus Sleeps




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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Burning Transmission Fluid...

Stonerror - Stonerror (2017)


It's been about a year since Stonerror's debut EP, Rattlesnake Moan, but the Polish group has finally returned with eight new tracks of fuzzed bass foundations, groovy beat embellishments, snazzy guitar-work, and smoky vocals. Star-eyed psych and headbanging rock come together with tasty results, with some flavors like late-'90s alt rock providing an extra dose of ear-hooks for the melodies. The album moves fast, swaying and dipping through the down-beats and drifting warmth of the songs, and while it doesn't have the stylish dark tones of the group's EP, it's by no means a step down in quality.
Stonerror seem to have hashed out some of their weirder tendencies in the assembly of these tunes, finding something both more stylistically consistent and more upbeat, and calling to mind the sort of cozy musical blanket that you can just wrap yourself up in to while away an afternoon with a smile on your face. At the same time, they bring plenty of energy to bear in the songs, jamming in wild rock break-downs and tangled psych bridges, playing with tempos and time signatures, and generally having what sounds like a great time creating their music. One to blare through your speakers whenever you need some pick-me-up vibes, Stonerror also raise the question of whether their next release will be as much of a switch-up in their song-writing approaches as this one was to their last.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Crown Larks, Frank Sabbath, Strato's, Vanilla Trainwreck




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