Sunday, July 29, 2012

Music With Venom...

In The Company Of Serpents - Self Titled (2012)

By now may of you regular visitors will probably be somewhat accustomed to my tastes in the genres that we cover. So many of you will know that toward the bottom of my favourites list as it were lies drone. Not too prior to that you will actually find doom. But not all doom, no no no. The classic sort of stereotype that lives with one foot in the drone genre just doesn't seem to do anything for me. But just like sludge, when you take that crushing power and throw some tight grooves into the mix, well then you've created quite a different beast. Which brings me neatly on to this Colorado based little trio. Taking whats sounds like all the unused, darker and slower riffs that have been conjured up from the mind of the godfather of doom himself, Toni Iommi, they've twisted them into their very own niche. Not being scared to break convention and pick up the pace a little in parts they've also pushed the boundaries a bit by letting fly when it comes to the skins too and track three; Immolation is a perfect example of this. Opening with the archetypal slow churning of guitars and distorted vocals that sound like they're bellowing straight from the gates of hell, the build up pays off in droves when Joseph lets the sticks fly and pounds the tempo up a few notches. Joined with some truly crushing riffs played though a perfect amount of fuzz and overdrive it really makes for a relentlessly compelling listen. I can't help but think that if Iommi, Keith Moon and Jim Morrison all merged, got heavily into the occult and opium then hired Anton LaVey as their manager they would have probably sounded like this. Or to put it another way; it's what Lucifer would have playing on the radio as Dante walked through the gates of hell. Dark, twisted and yet still conscious of having the good sense to break from the norm and mix it up. The elements of doom, drone, sludge and stoner rock serve as a great foundation to experiment with throwing in little touches of desert rock, classic rock and death metal. Unorthodox? Sure. Executed successfully? Oh yes!
Now you've gotta love a band that's entirely DIY, but you have to love them even more when they offer up their music on cassette, and limited to just 250 I must add. But we love them because they've really done us a solid and are letting us chuck up a couple of tracks for a free download. If you dig them show some love and pitch them a few bucks, 35 minutes of groove filled doom for less than the cost of a pack of smokes... Not bad. No bad at all.
~ Jay

For Fans Of; Sleep, Bong, Eagle Twin, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Mountain Witch

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Three Cunning Hunts...

LeHunt - The Prototype EP (2012)
My house is the bane of my street. Honestly, I pity my neighbours. It’s all terraced housing, you see, so my excessively powerful amp rings clean and clear up and down the block with whatever spiky, noisy band I’m listening to at any given time. Right now, the band that claims the honour for annoying my neighbours the most is probably Lehunt.
Lehunt are a three piece from Kansas in the US, and they make a wonderfully taut brand of noisy hardcore. Now stick with us here, I know hardcore is not the standard for us here, but these days’ boundaries blur all the time, and this is no exception. Lehunt take the template of modern hardcore and tweak it, playing with the rhythm based sound that bands like Norma Jean and Botch pioneered and feeding in touches of chaotic noisecore ala Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza. Randomly, the balanced riffs bring to mind alt hardcore heroes Helmet at their 90’s best too, although I have no idea why. Nowhere is this blend more clearly demonstrated than in the EP closer ‘Black Gold, Texas Tea’, a stomper of a tune that builds on a thuggish sludgy riff, before throwing in some variable time signatures and discordant parts to throw off the listener, bringing back some solid sludgy riffage and ending on some awesome tech-noise that really reminded me of Tower of Rome.
The EP is well written, with Lehunt demonstrating an ability to write big solid riffs that make the head bob involuntarily, but also that they are equally at home with spazzy tech parts. Importantly, they can make these disjointed styles flow and work as songs for the most part, which some bands really struggle with. If I were to be picky, some of it doesn’t work – quite apart from its awesome name, ‘O god the Afterbirth’ has a picked riff which seems artificially slow, is repeated a bit too much and doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the song, contributing to the feeling that it seems a little over long. That really is being a bit picky though, the rest of the song is great.
Overall, this is a band well worth checking out, especially if you have even a passing like for latter day Norma Jean.

For Fans Of; Norma Jean, Botch, Throats, Misery Signals, Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza

Monday, July 23, 2012

Just Criminal...

The Outlaws Of Zen - Don't Bother Getting Up... We'll Let Ourselves In (2012)

Here's another little gem that appeared in my mailbox today, and just an FYI; if your email also contains the lines 'heavy riff based rock', 'the nation's leading murder per capita rate', and 'influenced by 70's obscure rock' then you're appearance on here is well and truly secured!
Hailing from Michigan you'd be forgiven for not immediately expecting to be met with that distinctive southern rock twang. But when I come to think about it, some of my favourite bands of that genre are actually some distance from sister marrying country - Maryland (Clutch), Oregon (Red Fang) and, well, Greece (Planet Of Zeus). None the less, that ethos is definitely flowing though these guys and most importantly it's working for them. But the one thing that really shines through for me is the vocal style. I call it the Neil Fallon school of heavy rock singing. Deep, thundering and profoundly southern sounding, then if that doesn't get your point across you just shout louder. That element coupled with a similar, yet wholly unique array of retro/deep south style riffs it sure makes for one hell of a mix. It's worked for Clutch for nearly 20 years and its working for these chaps now. In fact they're one of the very few who have managed to nail this perfect storm of southern rock elements and still remain some what individual and fresh. The recording doesn't follow this blueprint in its entirety though, instead infusing tones of classic metal and even smatterings of grunge in places. While this does serve to mix up the tracks a little all the best moments of the EP are well and truly rooted in the lets say, more confederate elements. In doubt? Well just have a listen to their track With The Swine, because if it doesn't conjure up visions dirty truckers, bar fights and moonshine then I think theres something fundamentally wrong with you.
Ultimately I think the guys could choose one of two roads to go down as and when they head to the studio and lay down a full length album. Either the 90's sorta sounding, slightly heavier Alice In Chains esque tone that some of the tracks (Boiling Point, Standard Double Standard) consist of. Or, and this would be my choice, just going completely balls out and delivering every single riff, beat and lyric with a pure rock fury, because if they can keep up the groove and shear power of tracks like Pornstache and the aforementioned With The Swine their follow up to this will not fail to blow everyone out of the water and I can't bloody wait!

For Fans Of; Clutch, Year Long Disaster, Planet Of Zeus, Viking Skull, Thunderfist

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cosmic Creativeness...

Sun Eater - Selftitled EP (2012)

Want and excuse to break out the bong and trip out within a haze of psychedelic riffs and whaling harmonic ambience? Of course you do ya crusty old hippy!
Now right out the gate I must admit that the only thing that lets this little gem down, in my opinion anyway, is the vocals. Granted they only kick in for the last 20 seconds of the very first track, but when the drumming is precise, the guitars carefully sculptured and the tone pitch perfect for creating a flawless monument to all that is psych, the last thing you need is off kilter shouting coming straight outta left field. It's like tripping out while watching a Yawning Man show in the desert under the stars... then all of a sudden GG Allin ploughs on stage and commandeers the mic. It kinda disrupts the whole ethos, but luckily it's so fleeting that the EP still has enough time to get back on track, and thats just what it does. Flowing and washing over you like an ocean of stoner-post-desert-space-rock... from the 60's. It's a fusion of fuzz that almost can't really decide what it is. Not that that's a bad thing, on the contrary in fact. Instead of coming off as confused and muddled it shows just how eclectic and diverse you can successfully be when merging the old and the new.
Keep and eye out for these guys, because if they crack out a full studio album (and leave out the vocals) I I'd go out on a limb and say you can look forward to hearing one of the best instrumental stoner/desert rock albums of the last 10 years.

For Fans Of; Yawning Man, Pink Floyd, Nebula, Sungrazer, Aver

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Way Back In The Day...

The Weekenders - Don't Plan On (2012)

Damn, we're getting quite a reputation in Utah. Thats right ladies and gents, more lovely goodness for your ear holes straight from Salt Lake City!
A little different from what we've received in the past the home of Mormon's. This time we're going retro. Really retro. Think, the days when Page and Plant reigned supreme, Leslie West was the size of a mountain and Grand Funk still had... well, funk. The Weekenders really manage to capture that early 70's vibe down to every single note. Vocal tone, reverb, echo and that distinct and that occasional classic organ harmonic are so spot on that you'd swear one if them must have a flux capacitor stashed away somewhere. But they're not without they're own modern touch. Much like Jack White's latest work that echos a bygone era, everything is bathed in a distinct homage to the classics but there are little tell tail signs that give it away. Slight tweeks and nuances within the riffs of Alone and Don't Plan On serve as subtle gestures that the guys grew up throughout the 80's and 90's. There are even a few hits at a little post rock influence in there too, most notably in the final track Penn Station. It's quite a little mix for sure, but ultimately it still remains the classic rock enthusiasts wet dream. Ok, I should really point out that if you're looking for pedal to the metal Wolfmother style riffage and composition you wont really find it here. Yeah there's some incredibly great guitar solos and the vocals are fantastic, but although both have totally mastered the old school genre they are at different ends of the spectrum. But that doesn't matter, think of this as Houses Of The Holy not High Voltage. If like me you're a lover of pretty much anything that rocked the 60's/70's or just plain feel you were born 25 years too late then you're gonna really dig The Weekenders. It's that simple.

Rob's been kind enough to let us give this little belter away, so be sure to hit the guys up on Facebook and give them a like!

For Fans Of; Led Zeppelin, White Stripes, Sir Lord Baltimore, Grand Funk Railroad, Raising Sand

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Storming Yet Sombre...

Make - Trephine (2012)

Y'all like a little post apocalyptic post metal/doom right? Sure you do. Well may I present to you, from North Carolina, Make. A trio of chaps creating some of the best dark, sombre and truly crushing tracks I've heard in a long long time. Hitting that sweet spot between hypnotically beautiful and shear haunting, this whole album really falls on the master class side of things. Easily hitting par with anything a true master of the genre, say Aaron Turner or Greg Anderson has created in the last decade or so. Echoing a similar song structure too, many of the tracks begin with a post rock (almost shoegaze in places) atmosphere. Slow drum beats backing a calm string harmonic, you know the sort of thing. Think Gifts From Enola, but then crank it up to 11 and force Isis onto the same stage. It's a real quiet before the storm approach, but nailed perfectly. Where many bands do try this method, so often one element lets them down. Either the gentle haunting side is slightly out of whack and heavy storming riffs and vocals are spot on or vice versa. Either way if one side doesn't quite cut the mustard then the whole track often winds up being a bit of a write off. Make however have managed to hit pretty confident home runs on both points. If you're a big fan of most bands backed by the likes of Hydra Head or Southern Lord then I really think this'll be slap bang up you're ally. Whats more, I have a distinct feeling these's fellas are only gonna go from strength to strength so keep a close eye on them!
Unfortunately we can't offer you anything from the album to download for free, but hit the stream up below first, sit back and enjoy. If you really dig it it's only about 7 bucks for the download. Or alternatively if you have a brain in you're nut then you'll shoot over to the guys Big Cartel page or Devouter Records and check out the lovely lovely white and grey splattered vinyl. If you are craving a little something for nothing you can have the guys live album, which is available here. That should keep you satisfied until the wax turns up.

For Fans Of; Pelican, Earth, Jodis, Zozobra, Rosetta

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fantastic Fin's...

Supertzar - Funeral Blues EP (2012)

Just a quick update today ladies and gents as I'm a little strapped for time. Y'all should really check out Finland's great heavy rock quartet Supertzar. With bucket loads of fantastic riffs and chock full of groove, the only problem with this EP is that its too short and will leave you craving a full length album. Don't worry though, as soon as that materialises it'll be up here!

For Fans Of; Graveyard, Gentlemans Pistols, Stubb, Motorcity Daredevils, Major Kong

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Hey There Pilgrim...

Black Cowgirl - Double EP (2012)

I'd not heard of Black Cowgirl before, so I may be excused to somewhat judge them, at first glance at least, on their artwork. It's got John Dyer Baizley written all over it, so surely I should expect something Baroness like or maybe Kylesa or Darkest Hour? Well as it turns out, no. In fact I'm way off the mark. Don't think sludge or furious metal, think more along the lines of rock with an infusion of technical riffage. But good technical riffs, riffs that still retain their groove. Not like Dragonforce shredding where it just sounds like someone attacking a guitar with an electric whisk. No no, these fellas have managed to not just retain that essence of soul that seeps from the strings but also give it a touch of Scandinavian style to boot. I know some of you will read that with a confused look and raised eyebrow, so if you're not familiar with them already, just hit up iTunes and check out some early In Flames or Amorphis. They're not by any means stealing anyones sound, but they do share that slight echoey and haunting sound scape structure, albeit nice a subtly. If thats not the sort of genre that really floats your boat then don't worry because the bulk of the two EP's sort of straddles the line between typical hard rock and desert rock, with the latter having a slight Gary Acre (Yawning Man) kind of feel.
The record itself is actually the combination of two EP's. Last years debut spanning side A (or tracks 1-6, for all you digitalists) and the new material recorded this year on side B. To be honest, they could really have just passed it off as a whole album as despite being recorded a year apart the transition is pretty seamless. That mite not sound like much of a big deal to most but anyone out there who is in a band and has either re-recorded old material or split a recording over a long period of time will know just how tricky this is to pull off. That technical expertise does really shine through in both the old and new recordings. If thats not good enough for you though you mite be interested to know that they're also due to embark on a small west coast tour at the end of the month with my friends Jess and Neil and their act The Company Band, so if you happen to be in Philly, NY or DC then I urge you check them out.
The album will be available on cd from the end of the month via the bands Big Cartel site, the vinyl however, well you're gonna have to wait until August for that little beauty. But keep checking Kozmik Artifactz for updates on when exactly you can get your mitts on it.

For Fans Of; Cky, In Flames, Black Spiders, Amorphis, Crippled Black Phoenix

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Down Right Dirty...

At Devil Dirt - Chapter II "Vulgo Gratissimus Auctor" (2012)

There's no two ways about it, these guys have been one of the main reason's the blog's YouTube channel has received so many views. The tracks we put up from they're self titled debut have been some of, if not the most viewed since day one, and that should tell you a lot of what you need to know about At Devil Dirt. Quality musicians making quality music. But if you missed the coverage of their first release here, then I'll bring you up to speed - It's two guys from Chile producing fuzzy yet harmonic tunes. Thats the long and short of it really.
This, their follow up to last years release takes on a slightly less gritty sound and shape. Where the last album could generally be described as quite grungy Chapter II feel's somewhat more doom driven. There is still more fuzz than you can shake a stick at, but it's a lot more polished and for want of a better word, accurate. Just from listening to the opening couple of minutes you could swear that you're put on Crowbar by mistake. The slow, driven and impending doom remains an underlying factor that ties the whole record together throughout the duration. But the strange thing is the collaboration between that doom and the almost softly sang vocals. It's different and at first it does sort of catch you off guard. But if like me you don't warm to the pairing straight away just give it a little time and hear the album out. Before too long I'm sure the penny will drop and you'll realise they do actually work really well together. The key to Chapter II though is it's ferocious clash of dirty fuzzy riffs and pounding drums. With patches of tracks echoing seminal works from the likes of the Desert Sessions, Sleep, Kyuss and Dozer it really does still blow my mind that this is the work of just two guys. What this mite lack in fast paced or reverb ridden vocals (if thats what you're looking for) it more than makes up in shear talent of composition.
Either way y'all should really give the album a blast. If you dig it you'll be pleased to know that the guys have sorted a pretty limited pressing on wax, just 100 to be exact. Up for sale now on the Bandcamp page they'll should be shipping around this time next month, so move fast!

For Fans Of; Black Mountain, Sleep, Graveyard, The Heavy Eyes, Ufesas

Monday, July 02, 2012

Breakin' Balls...

Broken Betty - Original Features EP (2012)

You must admit, when you think 'desert rock' your mind doesn't instantly make the connection to Poland. In fact it's probably so far down the list it's next to 'Gandhi' or 'Beef stroganoff'. But as everyone's probably noticed over the last few years the genre has somewhat gone pandemic. Leaving the dusty realms of California to spread far and wide, reaching some deep, dark and truly unexpected locations. So these days when it comes to the genre and eastern Europe there are fewer better acts to look at than the trio of Poles that make up Broken Betty. Their simply titled EP blew our hair back when we discovered it last year so when this arrived it was thrown straight on with eager anticipation.
Once again I'm glad to report that the guys have fallen far from letting us down. With slightly more edge and a noticeable increase in 'thump' from their debut release the album serves as a pretty good showcase on just how the guys have improved and developed their sound over the last 3 years. Along the lines of their second release The Sorry Eye its little more metallic but has still retained a real heavy desert feel. This time around though there are odd smatterings of what really remind me of 90's punk. Namely Bad Religion, especially with the opening track Bastard Rocket which sounds like a clash between the aforementioned and Fu Manchu. Hey, it works just go and have a listen. The whole EP is in fact riddled with unexpected elements all brought together in a sort of ferocious musical alchemy. Space rock fuzz and feedback coupled with almost grindcore like vocals on the track Everybodyshitsonmtv then closing with a post metal  ambiance that blends into a classic rock, almost Sabbath like affair. There's no doubting it not only works, but it's bloody awesome to boot. I can't see any reason why the guys couldn't keep this up for a full length album, which they really need to now do because I'm now dying to hear more!
Being the good sports that they are the boys have let me offer up a track of my choosing for a free download below. As always though go show them some love on their Bandcamp page. They're not looking to get rich just simply cover the cost of the recording, and at just $2 for the whole EP it'll hardly leave you broke. Besides, it'll be the best couple of bucks you've spend in a while I assure you!

For Fans Of; Queens Of The Stone Age, Nebula, Sungrazer, Causa Sui, Lo Pan