Saturday, October 03, 2015

Strange Silvery Streaks...

Snail - Feral (2015)

Originally formed in 1992 but disbanded the following year, Snail reincarnated in 2008 and has been crawling steadily along since then.  Feral marks their fourth album, and with its eight songs, Snail show off a tangled web of fuzz, stoned-out riffs, relaxed grunginess, and heavy-loaded momentum.  Brash energy and a cheeky sense of humor run under the surface of the music, adding liveliness to the tracks beyond the clattering drums and reverbed strings, subdued enough to enhance what's already working instead of trying to override it.  When they do switch into high gear, Snail rocket along on a sooty trail of stardust and amplifier endangerment, pulling your ears along in the wake.
While there's some mellow head-space explorations tucked away in the album's run, they never fully lose the momentum carried from the more manic tracks, but channel it into a quiet intensity that might carry even more punch with its focus.  The melodies are catchy without getting poppy, there's good flow from track to track while keeping things varied, and the songs are hypnotic enough to keep some surprises in store for multiple listenings, so fans of fun heavy psych should do themselves a favor and check this one out.  Small Stone Records has CD copies available, though unfortunately the vinyl version sold out during pre-orders; hopefully they'll take that as enough of a sign of interest to do a second run in the near future.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    JPT Scare Band, Sleep, Telstar Sound Drone, Terminal Cheesecake, Wizard Cult


Friday, October 02, 2015

Invitation To Love...

Grim Van Doom - Grim Love (2015)

Pairing sludgy vocals, attitude, and rhythmic style with doom metal grounding in bass and guitar riffs, Grim Van Doom's latest release (their first full album) doesn't do much to explore new territory, but they play with enough earnestness and commitment to the style to earn some respect points.  Some nice mixing and production helps bring the metal into sharper focus, and the vocalist's grunts and howls have enough belt behind them to fit with the music instead of going overboard or getting over-powered by the instruments.
The biggest issue with the songs (as I heard it, at least) is that they're too compacted and organized for the vivacity of memorable sludge to really come through.  The antagonism with which they start the album is the level at which the end it, and they never really get to be let off of the leash, so to speak.  While that might make for a reliable experience for fans of the band who just want to dig into more of the same, it doesn't seem like it will do much to draw in people coming across the band for the first time.  More than decent performances across the board, but so far, it feels like they could stand to give the core melodies a little more room to breathe between hammering down with drums.  Still, they hit some good grooves and show some promise for future developments, so if you're down with the doom sludge, you might wanna check these guys out.  Copies are available on vinyl (161 marbled red & black copies, 372 on standard black), CD (1000 copy run, patch and poster included), and cassette (100 copy run, white shells) as part of a three-way effort by Wooaaargh Records, Aural Attack, and Vinylaceton, with digital downloads from Grim Van Doom's BandCamp page.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Dogmate, Noothgrush, Olmeg, Plaguewielder, Yellowtooth


Thursday, October 01, 2015

Man The Battlements...

Barbarian Fist - The Whorelord Cometh (2015)

With four beefy tracks, this debut LP from Norway's own Barbarian Fist expands on the promise of the group's 2013 demo, opening up with the immortal words of Conan (the barbarian, not the band) before moving into haze-shrouded but powerful stoner metal with a mean edge and some silly lyrics/titles.  Fuzz-toned guitar with some hidden bite leads the way, though the drums and bass deliver their own powerful punches, and with a mostly-instrumental approach to the song-writing, they get to take the music on psych-tinged excursions with steel in hand, rampaging through the riffs before making their triumphant exit.  
Some of it will make you nod your head along, some will get you to just sit back and take it in, and still more will pull the trick of leaving you unsure what just happened, but digging it all the same.  It's a damn fine debut album, and if you'd like to get a vinyl, CD, or digital copy, you can do so through Barbarian Fist's BandCamp page (linked below, as always).  Soak it up, and keep your ears open for more to come from this bad-ass band.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Behold! The Monolith, Druglord, Meanderthal, Megasus, Nelly Olsen


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Circling 'Round Again...

Vintage Cucumber - Ufo Freunde EP (2015)

Our last visit from Vintage Cucumber came in the form of their split with The Holy Cosmos back in March, but now they're back with a solo EP packing a half-hour and change, and their krauty spin on spacy psych rock is in fine form once again.  Sparkling guitar tones and deep-groove bass provide the more fluid side of the songs, while the drummer gets to show off a nice range of style in heating up and cooling down the songs as needed.  
While the band can rip right ahead on a high-speed tear, they've also got some cool style with the slower and more expansive stuff ("Mondfinger" is the go-to track for that on this EP, though the pressure-cooker of "Super Fabel" is just as satisfying).  The variety brought to the table by Vintage Cucumber for this EP gives it some strong replay value, particularly with the challenge of trying to keep from being pulled away into the wide-sky brain-space the band conjures up so well.  All in all, excellent stuff.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Axis/Orbit, Gallileous, Mondo Drag, Snake Thursday, Telstar Sound Drone


Monday, September 28, 2015

To the Depths of Depression

My Life's Despair ~ Invoked with Passion and Pain (2015)

We don't get sent a ton of gothic doom metal around here, and even less is worth reviewing. That's why I when I gave the new album from My Life's Despair a listen, it was a rather pleasant surprise. Being just a two man project from southern California, they duo take elements from black and death metal, then intertwine it seamlessly into what you'd normally consider gothic doom. The album's forth track is a prime example, after a keyboard intro some spoken vocals and a guitar part drops in before things slow down again. Once that happens it takes a few moments for a thick guitar track starts in, and the raw, black metal styled vocals make their first appearance. After a short interlude the screamed vocals are given some contrast with a pristine female vocal track. While this is going on, the arrangement is filled with ripping guitar sections and some crashing blast beats. Around the half way point the song takes another turn, slowing down with the piano reemerging and taking over the spot light until the vocals come back in. That carries the song through the last couple minutes of its duration. If you have fond memories of the 90's gothic doom scene, My Life's Despair is worth looking into for nostalgia's sake if nothing else. You can pick up your digital versions through iTunes, or physical copies here.

For Fans Of; My Dying Bride, Draconian, Tiamat

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bold New Day...

Arrakis - Ammu Dia (2015)

Hailing from the smokier regions of Greece, this three-piece is making with their first LP after figuring things out on a couple of demos and an EP.  Sprawling out to an hour's worth of heavy psych treats, Arrakis dig into deep grooves and twisting trips with strong performances from each of the members.  Nimble percussion (with some really nice use of the cymbals), rough'n'fuzzy guitar that spreads out colorful arrangements, and a bass to practically bounce you out of your seat come together strongly, mixing together bright sunbursts and doomy somberness with clever ideas and some kicking viciousness when they need it.
It's a great performance, and a hell of a first album.  There's some great variety to be found in Arrakis' deep dives, leisurely cruises, and frenzied freak-outs, though listeners who've just gotta have some vocals to connect them to the songs will sadly be left out in the cold.  One of the better heavy psych records to emerge so far in 2015, I wouldn't be surprised at all to find this on a number of year-end top pick lists.  Do yourself a favor and grab a copy before then if you like heavy psych rock or wild stoner metal.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Blacksmoker, DopeRider, Gallileous, Tuber, Wizard Cult