Friday, February 28, 2014

The 71ton treat

71TONMAN ~ 71TONMAN (2013)

71TONMAN is a five piece Sludge band from Poland, and when a band like this has titled songs such things as "Bacon Bomb" and "Face Fuckin' Machine", you know you're in for a treat. They play an extra heavy brand of low and slow Sludge Metal. Incorporating different atmospheric elements in the music, and healthy dose of psychedelia to round out the mix, they're not quite like anyone else doing this style of music presently. Sure, there are plenty you could draw comparisons too, but you'll be hard-pressed to find one just like them.
Of the whole album, and all 6 awesome tracks, the one that really just did it for me was "Cyborg Jesus", it opens up with a textbook Sludge riff that trudges right along with the drum beat until a howling vocal performance starts up, vocalist switches between shrieking gutturals and hard edged, slightly Blues tinged vocals, even gruff, grunge-like vocals. The song continues on in like fashion until around the four minute mark the song takes a turn for the atmospheric with the addition of cleaner guitar tones, and lots of reverb giving some of it a slightly spacey vibe, that would be the healthy dose of psychedelia coming into play.
All in all, even with five of the six tracks clocking in at longer than five minutes length it still feels like a short album when it's over. I'm sure this partly due to the fact that each song is like it's own adventure, taking unpredictable turns at every opportunity. Even after giving it a fifth complete listen, I'm still noticing things I completely missed the first four times. Be sure to go over to their bandcamp and give it a try, you can't go wrong.

For Fans Of; Acid Bath, Kylesa, EyeHateGod, Church of Misery, Crowbar

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Call of the Mammoth Salmon

Mammoth Salmon ~ Call of the Mammoth (2013)

For those of you who don't know, another one of those heavier than hell Stoner Doom bands from Portland, Oregon is Mammoth Salmon, and they released this gem of a debut full length back on Halloween of last year. This album is an absolute sonic monolith, we're talking bone pulverizing heaviness. With the gravel road vocals, headbanging riffs, and hammering drums, the whole album falls together nicely.
With the opening track "Dark Descent", Mammoth Salmon displays their unique take on Stoner Doom Metal, with lots of Sludge influence and atmosphere. It's an instrumental track, but you don't miss the vocals with the droning bass line and pounding drums to keep you company, not to mention the riff and spaced out sound effects towards the end of the track, it's a bit different than anything that follows, and that's alright. The following track "In Constant Shadows" opens with a low and slow bass line, and after about a minute the guitar and drums come in and crush everything in a thunderous roar. After a bit, it slows back down to just the bass line only to have that cut short by the guitar and drum dropping back in. The back and forth gives the song a sort of unpredictable feel, Mammoth Salmon wants to keep the listening on their toes, and succeed. The third track and probably my favorite of the album is called "Sacred Smoke", it opens with a guitar part that seems like it'd be right at home in the bowels of a Sleep song. In fact, whole song is a textbook example of Stoner Doom Metal done correctly. While the band it's self has their own unique sound this track could almost be a long, lost Sleep recording in certain parts.
While "Call of the Mammoth" is very much a quality album stoned or sober, there is nothing quite like sitting back and sparking up to heaviness incarnate. So, go over to their bandcamp, and start it up, then indulge in some of your favorite mind stimulating substances and you won't look back. It's free too, that means more money to spend on drugs for you.

For Fans Of; Sleep, Kylesa, Weedeater

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Warped Groove...

Mindwarp - Mindwarp EP (2014)

On their self-titled debut EP, Mindwarp tests the waters with approximately 23 minutes of mellow grooving, drawing mainly from bluesy psychedelic rock for their style, which remains resolutely instrumental, letting the instruments do all the talking that needs to be done. Skilled meshing of rhythms and riffs helps the band put down a strong first step on “Haarko – Haari”, before they plow onwards into the chunkier chops and wailing guitar of “Adrenochrome”, the drifting big-sky blues of “Excuse Me, I Have To Go To Space Now”, and the thrumming, thick-clustered chords of “Iramocram”.
It's a very tasty first helping of sounds from the band, which does a great job of showing off their technical skills while losing themselves in a heavy blanket of psychedelic overload. While waiting for the group to put together and release a full LP, this EP will find its way into plenty of repeat listenings. They've earned it, along with their name.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Blue Cheer, Sungod, Eternal Elysium, Jess And The Ancient Ones, The Druids Of Stonehenge


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Venom To Spare...

Grey Widow - I (2014)

I is, as you might have guessed, the first album from this group, which includes members from Dopefight, Parole, Thread, Insect Warfare, and The Ergon Carousel. The music is harsh and sludgy, and listening to the eight tracks (which proceed through the Roman numerals from “I” to “VIII”) is like going to a Satanic biker party in a swampy grave-yard, where fist-fights and belligerent inebriation can rule the night.
The tone achieves a sense of being saturated in violence, while the distortion on the vocals is just enough to give it the feeling of echoing through space, allowing them to scale the menace up to a semi-cosmic level. Aside from all that, the crew is just plain skilled at putting together head-bang-inducing riffs and switching up the percussion to keep the energy and variety levels high. They can jump from a vicious shred right into a sway-in-the-pit tempo groove, and have it slide into place perfectly, without a bump to be heard. There's also some killer build-ups, with the violence slamming back in without losing any of its impact.
As debut albums go, Grey Widow is in top form. The band has a clear sense of the sound and atmosphere they want to create, and enough experience under their belt to eliminate all the technical issues that so often hurt first records from metal bands. The sonic acoustics keep it punchy, but also let the sound cover an expansive space, giving it a real sense of power, like a motor you know can rev up to kill speed in no time flat.
Lucky residents of the UK will get to see the band on tour there starting in March, but for the rest of the people with a taste for violent, acid-burned doom with a black hue, Grey Widow has physical release of the album coming soon. Here's hoping they do a pre-order, because I have a feeling this is going to be snapped up in a flash.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; EyeHateGod, Meth Drinker, Dopethrone, Acid Bath, Fudge Tunnel


Thursday, February 20, 2014

The soundtrack to your black magic ritual.

Mount Salem ~ Endless (2014)

Coming out of Chicago, Illinois, the newest contender to throw their hat into the Heavy Occult Rock ring is Mount Salem. After only being together for about a year, they got signed to Metal Blade Records in the summer of 2013, and are going to release an extended version of their original "Endless EP", with two extra songs on March 4th 2014. The entire album has an atmosphere all it's own (the vintage gear roster doesn't hurt this cause a bit), it's dark and brooding from the opening track. Heavy, heavy riffs, an absolutely enchanting vocal performance, it has everything someone could want from a Heavy or Occult Rock band, it even has organ parts throughout the whole thing. If you could properly imagine Black Sabbath and Ray Manzarek from The Doors having a jam session at the center Stonehenge, this is probably as close as you can get to that musically.
The album opens with "Good Times", an early Doom sounding riff, that backing organ, and thunderous drums. After some jamming it slows down, and the vocalist begins to play her part. The whole song has a sort of peaks and valley feel to it, from the high energy, jamming, peaks that's repeated a couple times throughout the track, to the slower, more atmospheric, valleys that put the vocals center stage. I'm not entirely sure how that sounds in print, but to the auditory sense, it's a thing of beauty. Moving right along, the fourth track on the album is entitled "Full Moon" and it starts off slow, methodically moving ahead with soft drums, and lots of cymbals, a mellow riff to top it all off. The vocals come in with that same softness and usual excellence. After more than two minutes of this, the songs blasts into a retro sounding Heavy Rock part, a swinging bass and drum part with those hauntingly beautiful vocals taking on a little bit of an edge this time around. The closing track, aptley named "The End" manages to be an even darker sounding song than the rest of the album. The opening with just the organ and drums leading the way, shortly followed by a heavy riff and it proceeds from there into a Sabbath sounding jam, another one of those peaks. That fades out, and you're left down in one of those familiar valleys where that voice stands out so clear. The dynamics she uses in her vocals and also the way she uses them, remind me a bit of The Gathering and Anneke's vocals, that really shows on this track.
If you're a fan of the Retro/Occult Rock scene that's become a little more prominent lately, this is definitely your thing, without question. If you're a fan of that early/traditional sounding Doom Metal, this would also be well worth your time to check out. If you're a fan of heavy music in general, I'm betting this will push all of your buttons the right way. Since it's not out yet, you can get all of your pre-order needs taken care of here.

For Fans Of; Coven, Blood Ceremony, Witchcraft, Black Sabbath, Orchid

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Bitch's Cauldron...

Bitchcraft - Bitchcraft (2013)

This five-piece band from identifies themselves as devout Sabbath worshippers, and though there's just four tracks enclosed on this EP, those four tracks are more than enough to confirm this claim. There's definitely some modern touches, as with their solid use of a horror movie sample or two, but the majority of the EP is engulfed in swampy rolling reverb, thick riffs, and a heady haziness that effectively evokes black candles and green smoke.

The EP begins with “Not The One”, which starts things off on a decidedly heavy note with a message for sinners before casting off into slow, sludgy depths, and sinking deeper for almost ten minutes. The music keeps a smooth momentum from there by rolling into “Mouth Of A Cave”, which delivers more red-eyed riffs while trimming enough of the feedback down to let the singer's voice shine through, which it does quite well, striking a nice harmonic balance with the other instruments. From a trailing sustained guitar wail, things get a bit more openly psychedelic on “Acid Dream”, which turns the air into a disorienting fog of thick tones, and “Stoned One” brings things to a close with a classic-sounding gritty riff that ends up shredded to pieces by the last note, neatly tying up a release that begs to be listened to over and over again.

Excellent work from the group, and hopefully some label will be canny enough to sign this for a physical release in the near future. In the meantime, you can head over to their Bandcamp page and kick 'em a few zlotys for your own digital copy to hold you over.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Windhand, Jess And The Ancient Ones, Belzebong, Electric Wizard, Black Sabbath


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Where there's smoke, there's fire.

Smokin' Ace ~ With Honour On Fire Confused (2014)

After reaching the finals of their country in the Emergenza music contest, Stoner Rock band Smokin' Ace has self-released their debut album "Honour On Fire Confused". This Russian three piece kick out slabs of the grooviest Stoner Rock imaginable, but still has those Retro and Blues influences all over it.
To start off their album the song "My Addictions" opens up with a drum beat and quickly escalates to a full blown Kyuss-worshipping session, nothing new, or fancy, just a killer Stoner Rock song, excellent riffs with the perfect tone, and a vocalist with a serious Blues edge in their voice. As an opening track, it does it's job perfectly and offers a glimpse into what the rest of the album offers. The following track "For Maniacs and Freaks" is just as swinging as the first track, with a great twangy main riff a la early Fu Manchu, the song definitely evokes that 90's Stoner Rock vibe, probably what most would consider the "Golden Age". The drumming once again is spot on, with the vocals taking a bit of a harder edge to them this go 'round, and one hell of a groovy bass line underneath it all. The last song I'm going to touch on for this write up is "Song Without a Reason", it opens up with a very folksy little Blues riff, with vocals to match and by the time it ends, it's been built up into a very heavy Blues Rock song. It drags on a tad, and is the longest track on the album at just shy of five minutes, but when a song is this good, it really just doesn't matter. The musicianship on this is perfect, every single part is played, and played to it's fullest.
To pick up a digital version of this absolutely killer album, and hear all the tracks I haven't mentioned head over to their bandcamp. It's a free download by the way, can't go wrong with that price, especially not on an album as good as this.

For Fans Of; Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet, Greenleaf, Sea of Green

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Swill For The Chill...

The Swill - Thirst For Misery (2013)

On their first EP, The Swill offer some dirty, down-tuned, semi-sludgy metal. Over the course of the EP's five songs (“You Are Alone”, “Demons And Rust”, “Deeper Dungeons”, “Analysis Paralysis”, and “The Void And The Vision”), they show off both their rough and melodic sides, shifting neatly from thumping drums and buzzing bass to slow, noodling guitar solos, and back again. The vocalist seems to have more interest in the upper end of the register than in indulging in the more common baritone, so it'll help you warm up to the band if you're already comfortable with the antics of groups like Dio and Yes. The rest of the instruments seem to have drawn from the same era for song-writing inspiration, and the result is an effort with a distinct emphasis on melodies, though they never lose the delightful dirtiness worked in at every step along the way.
For a first release, it's great, tightly-made and well-structured, so that the end delivers a longing for more. It'll be interesting to hear how this band develops, so keep your ears to the ground for more rumblings as they keep at it.  The band has the EP up for name-your-own-price at their BandCamp, with a limited amount of cassette copies left, so check it quick!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Crowskin, The Alligators, Occultation, Led Zeppelin, Night Birds


Friday, February 07, 2014

Intravenous Doom...

Druglord ~ Enter Venus (2014)

There's no accounting for taste. Hell, as I write this I'm actually knocking back cinnamon vodka with gold flakes floating in it (screw you, I'm out of Wild Turkey). But we do all have a friend or two who you can completely rely on when it comes to recommendations. Thankfully I'm blessed with at least five; Frank, Niels, Rich (Speedowax records), Dan (Easyrider Records) and good ol' Steve (STB Records). If any of these chaps point something out to me I know they're onto a winner. So last year when the latter dropped me a line to say he'd be putting out Druglord's second album and I should check out their first release, Motherfucker Rising, I knew it was advise I'd do well to adhere to. Naturally I did, and a matter of minutes latter I was throwing money at the band in return for a signed LP, a shirt and various other odds and ends. So imagine my face when I get home yesterday to an early copy of this, Druglord's mighty new album Enter Venus, on absolutely beautiful splattered vinyl.
Now, I know not all of you will be too familiar with this Virginia trio but to be quite frank if you're not, you're fucking up. Druglord are to music what Salvador Dali was to landscape artworks - fucking mental... and yet entirely awe inspiring. Best described as kinda like Windhand performing the best of Saint Vitus while under the influence of a heroic dose of mushrooms... if you can imagine what that would ultimately result in? Although I would advise you right now, not slap this album on while tripping yourself. It's so dark, down tuned and crushing that it kinda feels like you're being dragged to the very bowels of hell. Not an advisable route to travel down while opening the doors of perception.
So yup, Enter Venus, as you've probably already assumed, is a whole big bunch of terrifying. It pushes boundaries and stretches itself pretty widely over the whole doom genre that lines become blurred and demons abound. From your usual and expected fuzz laden, gut wrenching licks to it's almost schizophrenic (at times) composition, it strives to be both familiar and unorthodox, and you know what? It does just that. There's a beautiful chaotic elegance to it that I've just not experienced before. At least not all amalgamated in one place. It has that psychotic creepiness of Agoraphobic Nosebleed, sans the break-neck speed. The raw aggression of Weedeater, minus quite as much sludge, and all the reverb and sorrowful tone of Sleep, but without... Well, nothing really. Just all the reverb and sorrowful tone of Sleep. Maybe with just an angrier approach. It truly epitomises all thats dirty, blood-curdling and arcane about the genre... and I bloody love it.

Having initially suffered a minor set back due to the covers being damaged in shipping it will be up for preorder on in a variety of vinyl based forms. 115 'standard' copies, 100 for the euro market, and Obi press limited to 87 but most notably will undoubtably the diehard version, limited to just 48 copies and complete with a stamped and screen printed box and complete with a shed load of extras.
Goddamn, you guys are spoilt!
~ Jay

For Fans Of; Moss, Sourvein, Eagle Twin, Major Kong, In The Company Of Serpents


Thursday, February 06, 2014

"Death in the Afternoon" that code for a sex thing?

The Outlaws of Zen ~ "Death in the Afternoon" (2013)

This four piece, from Michigan, have dubbed themselves The Outlaws of Zen. I don't know exactly how many "Zen-like" qualities they possess, but "The Outlaws" part seems to fit them pretty well, playing a down and dirty sort of Heavy/Retro Southern Rock. If you've come looking for spacey sounds and long, droning guitar chords, I suggest you keep scrolling because this isn't what you're looking for. But if you're looking for something to blast out of your stereo on the way to the race track or while you're just out drinking and causing trouble, this is exactly what you need in your life.
The title track "Death in the Afternoon" opens up with a funky sort of bass riff, which is shortly joined by the drums for a complete rhythm section jam for a few moments before the howling guitar and vocals drop in, with a certain amount of the dirt road bite that reminds the listener of Orange Goblin at certain points. The following song "Burning Bridges" is a little different, with the guitar having a bit more of a darker tone, along with the vocals being a little less prominent in the mix, but those classic, gravelly, slightly Southern fried, vocals are still right there. It serves to give the song a darker vibe than some of the others, but doesn't detract from that retro sounding riffs that back the whole thing up. The last song on the album "Hangovers Feel Better Than Regret", is a Blues influenced song through and through, the most mellow on the album, it shows their songwriting chops aren't only used for fast, no fuck giving Rock and Roll, but for deeper, Blues riff driven songs that to be just as heavy as the previous 5 tracks. When you compare it to the rest of the album, it's a fairly large departure from their tried and true sound, but it is also a superior closing track and probably my favorite of the album, with a soul filled vocal performance that seems to harken back to those good ole' Motown days in both vibe and emotion.
I've only touched on three of the six songs here, but if those I've talked about sound appealing, you'll dig the rest of it too. You can go check out their bandcamp and give the whole thing a listen, and get a pretty cheap download. Then if you're like me, got this album and wanted to hear what else they had to offer up, they have an EP from 2012 also, available as a name your price deal.

For Fans Of; Orange Goblin, Clutch, Artimus Pyledriver, Throttlerod, Corrosion of Conformity

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Unearthing The Obscurities...

Various Artists - Obscure Anthems AA.VV (2013)

Compilation albums and label samplers are a great way to come across new bands, and on this offering from Radioactive Records, twelve different groups get the chance to represent themselves. About half of the tracks are heavy rock, but there's also some traditional heavy metal (in the form of Sideburn, who start off the album), gothic metal (Cpt. Kronos, with the creaking "Queen Of The Night"), traditional doom metal (provided by Sulphurea and Fever Dog, as well as Spirit Caravan's faithful cover of a Saint Vitus song), plus some space metal (mainly in the song from Cosmic Fool). It's a nice delving into the collection of artists Radioactive Records has to offer, and if you're looking to explore some new heavy music while enjoying a beer and looking forward to summer, this will do it up a treat.  Keep your ears open, and you might find a few bands you'll want to give further investigation.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Easy Rider Records, Halo Of Flies (the label), Forcefield Records, Southern Lord, Nuclear Blast


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Out Of The Stratosphere...

Elevators To The Grateful Sky ~ Cloud Eye (2013)

I love a bit of harmonica. It's bloody underrated if you ask me, that is providing two crucial factors are adhered to - 1. The wielder actually knows how to play the thing. 2. They're not so drunk that they throw up through it. Oh yeah, I've seen that, it's truly a sight to behold. But thats a story for another time. Evidently, resident bassist Giorgio does know a thing or two when it come's to the latter (I've no idea if he's ever hurled while playing though). It's a great way to start any album... Except maybe a Darkthrone album... or Bathory album... Well and black/death metal album really. Ok, it's a great way to start any southern rock/stoner/psych album. So with that in mind, to say the opening track Ridernaut kicks ass feels like somewhat of an understatement. Any band worth their salt knows the importance of having to impress right out the gates and Elevators clearly got the memo, because despite hailing from the coast of Sicily these chaps flatten everything in their path with a huge wave of southern rock fury. Well, thats not entirely accurate. I think 'southern rock psych' would be the most apt description. Although I feel I need to crowbar 'space rock' in there too... Dammit. Pigeon-holing bands these days is becoming more and more exhausting. Not that that's essentially a bad thing, obviously. Except when it comes to my job here. Especially when it comes to my job here in fact, and more so with Cloud Eye. Why? Well these skilful little bastards have managed to crank out one of the most diverse albums I've heard in the last 12 months. I swear, skip just 30 seconds into the title track and you're met with a touch of reggae! Nothing too heavy handed, just a familiar guitar twang and smooth laid back drum line. It's audacious, but goddammit you've gotta hand it to them because no matter what they turn their hands at they nail it and still manage to make the whole thing flow effortlessly. Some bands like to get high and open the doors of perception, these guys on the other hand, turn up the reverb then effectively point themselves at the moon and knock back a fistful of acid. I've had this album playing for the last few days now and I'm still not entirely sure whats more impressive; that they thought that could get away with amalgamating elements of psych, prog, grunge, blues, southern, space, classic, and desert rock... or the fact that they actually pulled it off.
Whatever your particular cup of tea, there's something here for you in some shape or form, but if you like your rock from the south, a little trippy and with big fat slabs of wah from time to time, then get your ass on over to Transubstans Records and part with some bucks. It'll be the most satisfying thing you'll do this week.
~ Jay

For Fans Of; Nebula, Dozer, Doublestone, All Them Witches, DeepSeaGreen


Monday, February 03, 2014

Downtuned In The Desert...

Tuber Desert Overcrowded (2013)

It is an awful -8 degrees here in Dayton, OH as I write my first review for 2014 and there's nothing I can think of more fitting than an album flush with warmth to remove me, at least mentally, from these sub zero temperatures like Desert Overcrowded by Tuber, who hail from (the oh so warm) Greece.
The album opens with an energetic title track that is both moving and intriguing. I find my self hearing certain elements of The Smiths at times, which is a good thing. Moving through out the record there is a certain sense of ambition about it as a whole. Taking well honed elements from areas of post rock and shoe gaze and mixing it with that desert rock sound, but in such a tactful way that it makes it all its own. Sometimes with bands in such a style as this things at time can feel a little forced or suspectly disingenuous. However this is far from the case with Tuber. This record has a feel and shape all of its own whilst removing itself from the clutter associated with the ever growing experimental genre. The closing track The South Will Prevail is a personal highlight for me. It showcases all the elements of the band while bringing in some interesting tribal elements. Never overdone and forever remaining tasteful through out!
Cheers to Tuber!
~ Stephen

For Fans Of; Sungrazer, Explosions In The Sky, Deserts Of Mars, Sun Eater, The Cosmic Dead