Saturday, September 07, 2019

Tangles Of Beauty...

Esogenesi - Esogenesi (2019)


Releasing their debut album through the always-reliable Transcending Obscurity Records, the Italian group of Esogenesi pack a good forty minutes into the five songs of their self-titled LP, with their chosen combo of death metal and doom staggeringly well-blended this early in their career. “Abominio” is the first of the five, and with a sturdy central riff, the band is free to spin off into a number of elaborations and tangents without losing the core impetus. Some powerful break-downs and fiery bridges lend the song further flavorful variety, While the guitar and bass provide beautiful textures and dark atmosphere, the drummer may be the one who gets to shine the most in this opener.
From there, “Decadimento Astrale” picks up, with a harder riding beat leading the way to brooding but powerful progressions, with the development of a secondary riff providing the majority of the song's intensity. “...Oltregenesi...” follows, serving as a comparatively brief interlude at just under four minutes, with the guitarist brandishing his solo chops in a meditative instrumental piece with light backing from the other players. It's one of the album's most luminous moments, and transitions into the darker vibes of “Esilio Nell'Extramondo” extremely well. Rising from a slow, dirge-like groove into harsher and more strident form, the almost ten-minute run of this track is put to good use, with plenty of involved exploration taking the foundational riffs to new heights.
Lastly, “Incarnazione Della Conoscenza”, another ~10-minute piece, shows the band balancing the intensities of their two metal styles against each other, with a shift from slow passion to fast power shaping the song. It makes for a strong finish to the album, and all around, they demonstrate very impressive creativity and restraint for a band on their first release. Fans of this fusion, and of doom metal with some extra punch, do yourself a favor and check this crew out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Dreamgrave, Heavydeath, HellLight, Illimitable Dolor, Murk Rider




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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Light Leaks Through...

Howling Giant - The Space Between Worlds (2019)


Following a string of EPs and a single for their cover of BOC's “Godzilla”, the Nashville-based group of Howling Giant are releasing their first full album, and taking their spacy stoner van art vibes to the next level by making it a concept album. Built around the idea of dreams creating alternate realities, the songs of The Space Between Worlds take form with a bit more lightness to their tone and attitude than the cover art and title might imply, but the abundance of riffage and
Moving faster than the stoner metal style usually does, opening track “Comet Rider” gets things off to a groove-packed start, with rushing bridges and barrages of drumming creating an atmosphere of '70s hard rock blurred into '90s desert rock, feeling something like a time-warped Kyuss at the end of the blend. “Nomad” carries on from there in similar fashion, setting up a comfortable run, before “Ghosts in the Well” shifts to a more stripped-down, acoustic bit of sober regret, accented with piano to really highlight the band's flexibility.
The River Guide” switches the clutch back into heaviness, with a throbbing main bass riff that carries the listener right into another soft breakdown, this time with a bit of glimmering synth to give things that ethereal touch. Riding that slow mood through a few measures before slipping the drums back into to resolidify, the heavier tendencies get to really take hold again in the follow-up, “Ice Castle”, which might be my favorite tune on the album, due to its blending of all the album's elements while balancing them out to a satisfying and memorable chunk of earworming. It's a little unfortunate that it gets buried in the album's mid-section, but hopefully it'll come out as a strong enough hook to linger in most listeners' memories.
Boasting the oddest title of the songs, “Cybermancer and the Doomsday Express” swings to a lighter tone while maintaining the hookiness, and with the line “It's better to explode than fade away,” the ensuing bit of soloing seems a little underwhelming, though the drum flourish for the finish salves that to a degree. As “Everlight” stretches out to nearly eight minutes, the band shows their more leisurely side, along with some proggish focus on overt meter antics. It's fluid and fun enough to make the length a non-issue, but at the same time, it doesn't feel like the length is really being put to any use other than distinguishing it on that length alone. Penultimate track “The Orb” does a better job of that, with numerous change-ups in rhythm and pacing, as well as a shot of bass reinforcement in its latter half, and at just a minute shorter than the preceding song, it shows how much sharper the band can be when they put their minds to it.
Finally, “Stone Giant” delivers a tasty closer, with some high-action guitar-work and malleable song-shaping resulting in a pleasing finish to the dream-based tale. Those who go into the album after seeing the “stoner metal spacelords” moniker found in the press release may be taken aback by the lightness of it, but there's fun and grooves to be had, so give it a go if you're looking for a way to extend the summer warmth.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Molly Hatchet, Night Horse, Sheavy, Shepherd (India), Van Halen




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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Three Suns Rising...

Acid Rooster - Acid Rooster (2019)


Coming to us from Leipzig in Germany, while the three-piece of Acid Rooster are releasing their first LP this year, they've been playing together for a couple of decades or so, and have been friends since even before that. Such familiarity seems almost essential to the nature of their songs, which on this release are partially pre-written and part improvisational. As you might guess just from that description and their locale, there's a lot of psychedelic and krautrock flavors swirling about in the music of Acid Rooster,
Leading with the evocatively titled “Oculatus Abyss”, which, like all of the songs on the LP, is instrumental, AR immediately lay down a hooky bass and drums groove before quickly adding in some twisting guitar gnarls. Letting that groove foundation ride for a while to set the stage, they then take off in a variety of exploratory interpolations, bringing in pedal effects and switching them out as strikes their fancy. Despite running over five minutes, it feels much quicker than that as soon as they drop into silence with its end, which makes the eleven-minute-plus status of follow-up “Moon Loop” seem less intimidating. Taking a slow, almost drone-like start, the song audibly charges itself up as it rides along, and as sprawling as it gets, the band does an excellent job of keeping a grounding rhythmic pull going underneath the starry-minded expansiveness. It gets almost hypnotic at points, just working its magic to impressive effect, and just like the opening track, the way it draws you in makes it hard to believe that it runs as long as it does.
With “Sulfur”, the following track, things pick up into a harder groove, with some truly tasty guitar soloing laced throughout its cosmic rock-out. This is probably the track most likely to get your head knocking back and forth, and the pop-up saxophone wailing helps that impulse right along. Things cool back down with “Time Lapse”, which roams a lush soundscape of warm vibes and quavering string reverb. It's a very friendly atmosphere, particularly coming off of the somewhat spiky “Sulfur”, and as the opener of the B-side, it makes for a great transition, with some surprising poignancy tucked into its sustained measures.
“Focus” continues the chillness, just cruising along on echoing guitar lines and firm but laid-back drum pacing, but finds some extra fuel about halfway through, and starts setting off towards the sky. Guitar, bass, drums, and synths all find extra speed and sparkle, twisting into a dazzling fireworks display before coming back down to Earth. “Äther” closes out the album, with a nice bit of reflectiveness in its run-time being just a few seconds off from the first track. Unlike “Oculatus Abyss”, it takes a dark tone to its psychedelic grooving, and while it's a bit of a sharp shift from the mood of the rest of the LP, it's also a strong showing of how well the band can handle heavier and angrier flavors while maintaining their high-octane performances and sense of character. All in all, it's a fantastic album, and a thoroughly impressive first LP. If you dig on psychedelic rock, do not let this one slip past you unheard. And if you check that box and also like to get your music on vinyl, move fast, as I expect the three hundred copies pressed on that format to move fast. Here's to Acid Rooster!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Camel, Frozen Planet....1969, Hawkwind, Mondo Drag, Zombie Picnic




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Sunday, August 04, 2019

Bones For The Altar...

Buzzard Cult - Buzzard Cult (2019)


Coming to us from the Atlanta region of Georgia, the trio of Buzzard Cult play a mixture of grungy heavy rock and crusty downtempo punk, turning out a fusion that's lively, easy to groove to, and clearly averse to poppy over-polishing. Leading with the EP's advance single, “No Turning Back”, the band shows guitar crunch meshed with bass-line toothiness, and drumming that fills in and embellishes on the rest of the rhythms. Feeling something like a Dirt-era Alice in Chains B-side, “Ill Scheming” follows, alternating between brooding musings and outburst lashings of the titular chorus. The enjoyable cragginess of the instruments rising together each time they hit that chorus should put a grin on your face and a nod in your neck, and BC ride that momentum into the more uptempo reproach of “You're to Blame”, taking aim at the guilty at large and brandishing a crashing upswell for its climax.
The second half of the EP initially slips back into lower speeds, but as “Lucid Dreams” continues, it finds its angry footing again. Slowly cooking until it boils over, this track just might be my personal favorite from the six showcased on this EP, and I imagine that its back-and-forth energy takes on some real power in live performances. “Night is Dark” slips back into a more relaxed bass groove, but keeps the tension evident in the bite of the guitar and coiled bursts from the drummer. A pedal-treated guitar solo lends things some extra juice, pushing the intensity of the song's ending up even as they slow the tempo down.
Final track “Lazy Mind” brings things to a solid head, working stern riffs and accusatory lyrics while gradually ramping up the tightness, and with its bass hooks digging in, it's hard not to wind up with this one stuck in your head. All together, it makes for a fun demonstration of the band's style and capabilities, and delivers some quality music in a style you don't come across too often. The band will also be playing some live shows in September, so if you're in the general Georgia area, check them out!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Alice in Chains, Halo of Flies, JPT Scare Band, Nations on Fire, Night Birds, Stinkerbell




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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Comforting Alien Skies...

Velvet Trip - Velvet Trip & The Six Moon Skies (2019)


Hailing from Sydney, Australia, the four-piece group of Velvet Trip are debuting with this EP, following a tease in the form of the “Take Control of Your Mind” advance single. Leading with the lengthily-titled “All My Life I Was 12ft Tall & Told My Tales Just the Same”, the group's psychedelic blues rock gets unfurled in flavorful form, with the earthy guitar tones and chill but energized drumming joining the solid bass and muted keyboards to form a deep soak of warm vibes. The singer leans towards Jimi Hendrix's friendly roughness in his inflection, but keeps it at a level of acknowledgment, rather than imitation, while the keyboardist gets to brandish a bit of Ray Manzarek riffage in the breakdown.
After a resurgence of energy for the finish, the intro track gives way to a more grounded groove as “Voodoo Cosmic Girl” picks up. Swinging between relatively locked-down rocking for the vocal sections and cutting loose in the interstitial instrumentals, it's clear that the band are having a lot of fun with the tune. Add to that the detail that each of the tracks are live one-run takes, and things get even more impressive, with the fine hooking of the players throwing lead lines to each other, catching them and expanding in fantastic style. The shift to “Take Control of Your Mind” comes so smoothly that you may not even catch the change-over without your eyes on the player, but it shifts into an even tighter riff swirl, with the echo effects in the later part of the song accentuating its hypnotic qualities.
In the EP's second half, “Hurricane” offers a quick (two minutes and change) keyboard-driven groover that emulates its name-sake by gradually intensifying, with spots of relative calm making the wilder parts strike that much harder. At seven minutes plus, “The Six Moon Skies” takes place as the EP's longest song, and the rambling riff explorations get their fullest indulgence here, as you might expect. It also shows some of the tenderest emotional pieces from the group, with some stripped-down bridges playing up the melodic emphasis to beautiful effect. The ride out of it and into the closing track offers some truly lush work to savor, and should recapture the attention of anyone playing it as background material.
Lastly, “The Man from the Blue Sun” starts off with a slow burn cruise, the drums picking up momentum and power, and eventually pushing things to where a guitar solo can lay in its piece, and guide the way to the high-flourish finale. It puts a nice cap on an all-around impressive set, with the debut and live-take qualities making things even more dazzling. Fans of psych rock, do yourself a favor and be sure to keep an ear on this band after you listen to the EP for yourself.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Farflung, Frank Sabbath, Frozen Planet....1969, Third Ear Experience




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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Looking For Fights...

Swamp Coffin - Flatcap Bastard Features (2019)


Coming to us from the Rotherham region of England, this is the debut EP from the three-piece of Swamp Coffin, set for release on August 23rd. Featuring four songs of increasing length, the band leads with “Blood in the Water”, a pull from their debut single Hey Ho, Stolen Logo, released at the start of last year. The six-minute song opens with a yowl of sustained feedback, bass gradually asserting itself until the guitar lands and sets the main groove. The drumming is generally spacy, but impactful, and the low-pitched growls of the vocals do a lot to build the sludge feel in the presence of the mostly clean-toned guitar. A chuggy breakdown pulls things into swampier territory, and SC maintain that trajectory through to the song's stripped-down end.
With follow-up “Annihulus”, some death metal flavor bleeds in, and the activity of the drumming gets a shot in the arm, throwing in some tasty fills wherever they can fit. The guitar and vocals feel more closely aligned here as well, and the instrumental stretches build some great moodiness out of the stark arrangements. The central riff gets some nice treatment, building in intensity until the last crash, whereupon “Black Shirt, Blacker Sabbath” takes over with a suitably stony groove. The dirty vocals and clean guitar push further apart here, but not enough to really throw things askew, and towards the end of the song's nine-minute run, there's some quite fun soloing action to savor, along with some cool crunch punctuation.
The eleven-minute-plus “Last of the Summer Slime” rounds out the EP, with its slow-burning sludge slog pulling in features from the preceding tracks. The chuggy breaks are there, along with lengthy instrumental measures, the death metal latherings, and craggily catchy bass-lines. There's some particularly effective resonance effects on the vocals at times, which lends things a subterranean feel, as does the gradual sinking of tempo and pitch towards the song's end. All together, it makes for a strong opening salvo from the band, and one which should turn some ears their way. Look for it to drop next month, and be sure to give it a listen once it does.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Attalla, Black Box Warning, NIXA, Quallus, Tombtoker




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