Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Stoned to the Throne

Black Hand Throne ~ IV (2014)

Another band from the state of South Carolina is the sludgy Doom Metal sound coming from Black Hand Throne. In the interest of full disclosure, they were supposed to be featured in the "Rising Sons of the South" article I wrote a little while back, but when I was copy and pasting I must of skipped over them by accident. To make up for my oversight, I decided to expand the small blurb to a full blown album review, because their latest effort "IV" is definitely worth one. If you're looking for that sense of despair and pure annihilation in a Stoner Doom album, look no further than "IV", or pretty much any Black Hand Throne album for that matter. Their sound is that of men with doctorates in the ways of Stoner Doom Metal, taking what the pioneers did, building on it, and making it their own. The growling vocals that get bellowed out remind me of Church of Misery at times, with a super heavy instrument groove that rivals the likes of Sleep. The pounding drum rhythms give way to soul crushing guitars, with the bass guitar loading up the low end with sonic destruction. My favorite track on this album would have to be "War of the Ancients", with an atmospheric opening and walking bass line it takes a few moments for it to turn into a plodding funeral march when the crunchy guitar tones come slamming down. The track really hits its stride just after the start of a slightly cleaner vocal performance, going a little more in the direction of Crowbar this time around. The main riff has a little more of that sludgy, Southern vibe than some of the others, but it absolutely slays anything that stands in its path. As the seven minute opus begins to come to an end, the drummer start up with a slamming outro that really ends the track on a good note, with crunchy guitar tones acting as reinforcements. That's just a taste of what this almost seventy five minute album has to offer, you can pick up a digital copy at their bandcamp, which I think is the only available format at the moment, for ten bucks. While that seems a little steep for a download, it's a buck a track, the going rate at places like iTunes and Amazon. But give it a few streams before you decide, and if you're into it, it'll definitely be ten bucks well spent at the end of the day. 

 For Fans Of; Sleep, Electric Wizard, Bongzilla

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Somber Introduction...

The Sleer - The Sleer (2014)

On The Sleer's self-titled debut EP (which is almost long enough to slip by as an album), the group from Colorado puts an interesting spin on traditional doom, mixing in some black metal inclinations to make it more aggressive and primal. This is most prominent in the vocals, which, though they do make use of the rasping growl style, have an interesting 'damping' effect put on, making them not quite as abrasive as some other groups with comparable vocals. On the instrumental side, they've got some good bass/guitar grooves going, backed up by drums with a wide spectrum of performance. The song-writing pays homage to the doom of yesteryear, but puts enough of a personal interpretive spin on things to keep it from seeming stale or uninspired; instead, they come across as pleasingly modern while they show off their fondness for tarry riffs, conjuring up imagery of mysterious crypts and treacherous swamps.
As a debut, it's a very strong start for this crew, establishing a strong sense of their character and musical style, while also providing some serious doom. It's slow but powerful, serious enough to make the music feel genuine without being stodgy or rule-bound, and has enough variety to it that they'll have a good range of options when deciding how to follow up on it with their next release.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Trees, Hesperian Death Horse, Grey Widow, Lake Of Blood, Fleshpress


Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Voices Came From Below

Buried Voices ~ Arson for the Heart (2014)

Buried Voices are four guys from South Carolina that play the modern day equivalent of Heavy Rock, Heavy Modern Rock maybe? It could probably be labelled off as many things at the end of the day, but all that's really important is the music, and it is catchy, groove laden Hard Rock that is often duplicated by very rarely this well, with all of the proverbial gears falling into place perfectly. Their release "Arson for the Heart" just made its CD debut after three years in the making, and what I'm sure included some blood, sweat, and tears. Every track has its own personality quirks, which becomes clear after just a couple tracks have finished, with influences ranging from Merle Haggard to Alice In Chains, all the way to Pantera and Crowbar at times. There's a little something for everyone, and while you might not fall in love with every one of the eleven tracks, you're almost guaranteed to find at least one to latch on and sink your teeth into. From the melodic vocals that haunt tracks like "Pretty Little Helpless", to edgier and even some screamed vocals that pop up in other tracks like "Perfect the Art of Sorrow", courtesy of the bass player, to the crunchy guitar riffs that slam forward from start to finish, paired with a thick and prominent bass tone that you don't get all the time, and a slamming drummer that beats his kit like it stole something from him and you start to get a sense of how well these guys do their job, whether it be in a studio or on a stage. I'd have to label "The Blowtorch" as the standout track for me, opening up with one of those crunchy riffs that sound like they tear their way out of the speaker cone, while the singer belts out his edgy, and slightly gritty melodic vocals. The bass is exemplary, chugging along, while the drummer is pounding out his vicious rhythms in the background, picking up any dead space to be found in the mix and carrying it on their back, really making each song sound full and dynamic in its own right. You can get in on all of this too, just head over to their bandcamp and give the album a listen and buy a digital version, or head over to CDbaby and get a physical copy of their album on a pretty slick looking CD.

 For Fans Of; Alice In Chains, Corrosion of Conformity, Audiobreed

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sounds From The Psyche...

Billy Tsounis - Nefelibata (2014)

Psychedelic to the point of being semi-hallucinatory, the new album from Billy Tsounis pulsates with energy from the first moments, billowing out in expansive waves of guitar and bass held down by the solid drum-work.  Mr. Tsounis put everything together himself, and the quality and sense of interaction between the assembled pieces deserves some recognition; there's some truly intricate stretches of sound to be found here, and imagining the multi-tracking behind it all is enough to make your head start to spin.
Some of the tracks bring in heavily-distorted keyboards, which emphasize the dream-like quality which characterizes much of the music.  The moods of the album range from gentle to viciously aggressive, and while there's an ethereal feel to much of it, the harder parts land with genuine impact.  That sense of surreality is reinforced by song titles such as “Eyeballs In The Yard” and “The Clown Salivates”, and while vocals are absent, the space they leave is filled up nicely by the lushness of the instruments and the strength of the song-writing.  The guitar usually has a pleasantly bright tone, and in Tsounis' hands, it comes alive with personality, adding to the many layers of material to mull over while listening to the album again and again. Great stuff, all around.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; The Human Instinct, Ten Years After, Lightning Bolt, Jimi Hendrix, A Place To Bury Strangers


Friday, September 26, 2014

Assault Over Airwaves...

MAXX12 - Special Forces (2014)

On their second album, MAXX12 have a few new faces in the band, giving them the opportunity to redefine themselves. Having not heard their first album, I can't say how this outing differs, but the band offers some traditional hard rock dredged from the start of the '80s.  Big power chord riffs (sometimes fairly crunchy), melodramatic vocals, and radio-friendly song durations combine with arena rock ambitions to deliver a sound most likely to be heard on stations with “Edge” in their name.  The guitarist, T. Michael Riddle (a.k.a., Rooster) mixes in some neat twists here and there, but things are kept generally simple, without much in the way of surprises after the first listen.  These sorts of songs are generally meant to be memorized quickly for chant-along live performances, though, so it's hard to fault them for something intentionally omitted.  If you like your rock so straight-forward that it becomes retro, MAXX12 are part of the new crop of throw-back hard rock that seems to be growing more popular with each month, and they've got enough chops to keep up with the rest.  Ultimately, radio play will determine whether this iteration of the band swims or sinks.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; High Spirits, Twisted Sister, Dio, Night Ranger, Thin Lizzy


Thursday, September 25, 2014

We All Wear Masks

Plague Mask ~ Failure in Repetition (2014)

When I think of New York's music scene, Hardcore and Punk are among some of the first things to come to mind, and the following band has a certain degree of that in their music but deep down, it's thick, syrupy Sludge Metal through and through. From the state of New York, Plague Mask uses some of that classic NY Hardcore to propel an otherwise swamp mud tempo forward at breakneck speed for short bouts, but always returning to that Sludge Metal core, and the grinding pace it entails. Gracing us with their latest release "Failure in Repetition", with five tracks which can go from melodic and doom-y to a gnarly beast in the blink of an eye, and like all good things it goes by too quickly, even if the songs are short. While the thick and unforgiving guitars bear down on you, you're attacked, beaten, and left for dead by the drums, all while the vocalist stands there, snarling out lyrics and looking on approvingly. As much as I love the title for the track "MKUltra", my favorite track on the album would have to be the closer "Like Lemmings", opening up slow, with a dark and mellow guitar part, it rolls on for a few moments before opening up into a low and slow Sludge piece with a brutalizing riff that slowly bashes in your skull, this eventually tapers off, then speeds up some and their Hardcore pedigree shows through some for a moment, this lasts until around the two and a half minute mark and then the songs takes a sudden left turn and is never quite the same again. Being lead by a smooth, melodic Doom riff, the song pounds forward with all the others falling in line behind it, and just before the end of the song the riff changes yet again, going out on a heavy, growling note. You can pick it up from the group's bandcamp page, in digital format, along with their release from last year that you can read our coverage of here.

For Fans Of; Converge, Black Tusk, Skeletons

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Looking Into Darkness...

Animi Vultus - innerside... (2012)

In preparation for the upcoming album from Animi Vultus, we're heading back to 2012 to check in on their latest album, innerside....  According to their notes on BandCamp, the band's songs are 100% improvised, which makes the effective tone of their music just that much more impressive.  With one member (Saliatahn) handling all of the instruments and arrangement, and the other (Malphas) handling vocals and phrasing, they have an intriguing and distinct approach to generating their music.
At the same time, that unpredictability makes it very hard to pin them down.  They have a resonant epic doom sound to a lot of the material, with a chill to the production and a commitment to atmosphere (with touches like indistinct guttural noises, dry-sounding drums, and organ interludes) drawn from the more theatrical segment of black metal, but they pull in so many other influences that it seems inadequate to just call them black(ened) doom metal.  There's soundscapes, drone, heavily-filtered folk, funeral doom, and more, all of it effectively channeled in their unscripted studio sessions.
Most of the songs top the 6-minute mark (the two that don't are the intro and the very short “Meaningless Thing”), with the first post-intro track, “...As The World Burns” taking the crown at ~10 minutes.  The duo makes excellent use of their time, developing some goosebump-inducing atmospheres that sound ideal for listening to in winter with the lights extinguished, and then breaking them into pieces with a violent interruption (or, in the case of “Extension”, a dense polyrhythmic build-up into either didgeridoo or a well-programmed drone synth).  The last track, “Self Awareness” drifts along on gentle keyboards, circling a downward riff and stretching out into ethereality, then silence.
There's just not enough room to talk about all the impressive details to the extent that they deserve, so, as a condensed version, take it this way: If you want to hear musical darkness done in a variety of styles, get yourself a copy of innerside..., and stay tuned for their follow-up!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Gnaw Their Tongues, White Darkness, Trees, Blackwolfgoat, Sunwølf


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Life, Death, and Tube Amplifiers"

Flight of the Seraphim ~ The West (2014)

Flight of the Seraphim is a one man project from Wisconsin, with Sam Wallman handling the arrangement, engineering, and mastering of the entire thing. With this two track spacey, psychedelic, sludgy behemoth clocking in at about thirty-five minutes, I wouldn't say it was for people with short attention spans. The first of the two tracks on this release, the aptly named "The West: Part I" wastes no time getting started, opening up with a chunky bass riff it's not long before the guitar drops in and gives a very ethereal vibe to the whole thing, like floating in space and not being tethered to anything. Of course, with an almost sixteen minute instrumental song, there's tons of room to improvise and incorporate all sorts of influences and ideas into the music. As a quick example, after a few minutes of a space voyage, the music makes a change and trails off down sludge path, brutalizing every note along the way, with the drums picking up pace and the rest of the instruments following suit, the previously rather mellow and reserved track starts grooving and really stretching it's Metal legs. After a few more minutes you're presented with a screaming guitar solo that lasts a couple minutes before subsiding like a worn out storm. After going back to the albums space inspired roots for a few minutes, it's not long before the guitar changes up again, this time near the end of the track and it just happily plays psychedelic riffs before the whole song breaks down into a Sludge Metal chaos and roars to life just before the song ends, like the track's personal swan song. With "Part II" clocking in at just shy of twenty minutes, you have two mind consuming astral journeys on one release, and when being offered as a "name your price" deal on bandcamp, you can't argue with the price.

For Fans Of; Frozen Planet....1969, Hawkmoth, Heavy Blanket

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Calling All Creeps...

Merlin - Night Creep (2014)

Following up on their well-received new album, Christ Killer, Merlin have already put together a new single.  The A-side, “Night Creep”, makes use of an extended synth intro before bursting out into the sand-blasted desert doom the band does so well, stomping along to the crash of drums and some solid guitar crunch while the vocals outline a mysterious stalker's approach.  Plenty of switch-ups in the riffing and structure keep this one popping along, flying by the seat of its pants until the end comes in a din of psychedelic freak-out.
The B-side, “Robe Of Bones”, trades in the regular keyboard synth sound for a bigger, more pipe organ-like lavishing, letting its chords ring out as the band shifts into a slower mode with more emphasis on a traditional doom vibe (or as close to traditional as this band will let themselves be).  A lot of this track sinks into a heavy instrumental groove, gradually adding in extra touches until rising back up into a mighty organ-backed high-lighting of the drummer's prowess over growling bass.
Both tracks are pretty damn good (as you'd expect if you've heard the band before), and it makes for another strong entry in the band's catalog.  Details on the single's format for physical release are still a little hazy, but the digital version will be available on the band's site October 13th, and you can expect the '70s horror movie imagery to stay strong no matter how it emerges.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Celophys, Eternal Elysium, Spiral Shades, Wolf Blood, From Deep Space


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Let's Get Crushed...

Sunken - Recoil (2014)

Recoil is the first full album from the Belgian duo of Sunken, which employs just a bass and a drum set, but assembles some very strong and inventive material from their intentionally-limited tool-set; they even omit vocals, just so they can give their full focus to the noises they coax from their instruments.  And what noises!   Slow and unnervingly creepy, hard and fast and brutal, glistening with sludgy snarls of bass riffs, and sharp with raw aggression... it's all of these and more, in an hour's worth of ever-changing tunes.  Some hair-raisingly good use of feedback on the bass, plus a well-balanced level of cleanliness in the production, makes this one to turn up the volume on until you can just barely endure the sonic punishment, or until the bass rattles your speakers apart.
I can't really imagine what the practice and song-writing sessions could have been like for this, but they really paid out in spades.  The inventiveness Sunken shows is made even more admirable by their decision to go with only two instruments, as it really drives and challenges them to turn their hats inside-out with all the tricks they pull on this album.  The sheer fervor they inject into those instruments has the duo sounding bigger and meaner than bands three times their size, and the way in which they dole it out, making sure the listener will have gotten comfortable with the crunchy melodies before getting blasted by an assault without warning, deserves much respect and recognition.
Recoil is currently only available digitally, from the net-label GodHatesGodRecords, but if we're all very, very lucky, some wise label will get this pair signed for a physical release.  Until then, this will be regularly spinning on my hard drive and slowly burning away my speakers.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Bath, Wolf Blood, Lightning Bolt (if they went doom), Bell Witch, Norska


Friday, September 19, 2014

Tale of the Iron Giant

Canyon ~ Iron Giant single (2014)

Canyon wanted to let us know about their latest single "Iron Giant", and hopefully it's little taste of a new album from the Brazilian group. Opening up with a 70's Heavy Rock riff that's straight from the textbooks of retro sound, it feels very familiar yet still fresh and new, even working in flute sounds and a couple of psychedelic goodies at times. Switching from high energy rocking passages to slower, almost doom-ier passages, it's equatable to three guys taking all of the best things and somehow squeezing all of it into about four minutes and thirty seconds of song. The vocals start to make an reverb saturated appearance before the minute mark, but are only heard from in bouts throughout the track, which leaves plenty of room for some swinging Rock and Roll jamming, and they don't disappoint. The guitar tone is always polished and clear, and always ready to blow faces off, along with tight, precise drumming and a thumping, round bass tone.  Touching on everything from Heavy Rock to some Prog and Psychedelic Rock moments, if you're a fan of that retro sound that's so popular nowadays, then this should push all of the right buttons for you. You can check out our review of their longer self titled debut from earlier in the year here, and get all of your listening fixes over on their bandcamp.

For Fans Of; Radio Moscow, Pink Floyd, Santana

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Good Bunch Of Geezers...

Geezer ~ Gage (2014)

I know that whenever I receive an email from STB Records and Steve's pretty hyped about something, I should start getting excited too. It's pretty standard practice these days to be honest. He's not put a foot wrong with his releases so far so I don't have much reason to doubt the man, and lo and behold this merry band of bearded Yanks are no exception.
Straight out the gates there's a couple of things that surprise me about this trio. Firstly that the term 'Geezer' has any kind of connotation over that side of the pond, who knew?!  And second, that these guys ain't from the deep south. If you're streaming this as you read you may very well not believe me, but its true. Not even close to Dixie as it turns out. For those of you who have yet to give this album a spin, trust me when I say what I'm talking about will all become clear to you once you hear the opening bars of track two, Thorny. It couldn't epitomise the genre much more - slow, sombre and dripping in that beautiful heavy blues twang. In fact, Gage couldn't be a more brilliantly executed example of southern rock if it was drunkenly banging it's sister in the back of the General Lee while shooting an assault rifle out of the sunroof and voting Republican. It's pretty much text book stuff, and while for some that term may translate as not being 'original' I don't care. So you may have heard a similar riff elsewhere, or Pat's vocals may sound a bit like [insert name here], it doesn't matter. Why? Well, because it's bloody excellent thats why! Whats more it manages to be diverse at the same time, with the guys periodically stretching their artistic muscles between down tempo blues and dirty up tempo fury. They even tinker with other genres too, most notably managing to effortlessly reach into the realms of psychedelic and space rock on more than a few occasions. The end result being one of surprising beauty and blissful harmony. Not something you find on you average southern rock outing, I'm sure you'll agree. But thats all just my opinion, and to me Gage is truly a stella achievement within the stoner rock parameters and beyond. I'd be pretty surprised if any of you came away with more than the gripe that it was over all too soon.
So with all that being said, go forth and treat yourself to one, or ya know, two... three of STB Records beautiful vinyl presses.
Go on, you deserve it!
~ Jay

For Fans Of; Planet Of Zeus, Zodiac, Clutch, Scissorfight, Sex Type Thing


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

At a Snail's Pace

Snailking ~ Storm (2014)

Coming off of their well received album "Samsara" from a couple of years ago, this Swedish three piece are back with "Storm", and their slothish mix of Sludge and Doom Metal that drags its self along on its own time. Creating an atmosphere that completely enthralls you in music is a task, creating an atmosphere that's heavier than a truck full of depleted uranium is a completely different monster to tackle, but these guys make an exemplary effort, and deliver. They present the listener with a 5 track, almost hour long doom album that rumbles and rolls forward like a locomotive. The album's opening track "To Wonder" kicks off with a long, droning build up, that turns into the atmospheric guitar line, with a slow rolling bass line, and deep, methodical drumming it takes about two minutes for things to really amp up and you're ground to dust with a riff that seems to pummel you out of no where. After a couple more minutes the song makes another turn and goes back to being a bit more on the atmospheric side of things, with the vocals set a little farther back in the mix they can really sneak up on you at times, but anguished, shouted vocals that can slip into guttural territory at times really lends to the music, instead of detracting your attention or just being there. The eleven minute song ebbs and flows like a river full of rapids, but never losing any of the qualities that make them the quality Doom Metal band they are, and not really seeming like it took eleven minutes to finish. Before you realize it, you're knee deep into the second track "Premonitions", another eleven minutes of devastating Doom Metal that really hammers home exactly what this band is all about, and probably my favorite track on the album. You can hear the second and third tracks in their entirety right now on their bandcamp and pick up their earlier release "Samsara" in case you missed it, or get all of your physical copy needs covered here, including some colored and black vinyl.
For Fans Of; At the Graves, Pallbearer, Novembers Doom

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Honest Name...

DoomLord - Almas Malditas (2014)

Almas Malditas is the first side of a split between DoomLord (who provide these four songs) and King Heavy (whom you'll have to pick up a copy of your own to hear and evaluate, sorry!).  DoomLord pack as much material into their side as it can hold, with four tracks adding up to half an hour of traditional doom metal (with a name like DoomLord, what else would you expect?).  The Puerto Rican quintet starts off strong with the title track, which is so rich and vibrant you can practically hear the desolate graveyard setting creeping out of your speakers and into your home.  Throw in some magnificent guitar solos, which flip on a dime between growling menace and classic shredding, and some stomping drum-work, which ramps the energy right on up, and you've got a great traditional doom entry.
The band keeps up the quality as they move forward into “Illusion”, going for an even chillier atmosphere while maintaing the rich tonality and some hair-swinging riffs.  “Falso Dios” brandishes even more stone-cold riffs (they've got a real talent for that, in case you haven't picked up on that yet) and a monster break-down in which the guitars and drums have a body-shaking descent into wildness.  Lastly, “El Mal Renacera” pulls things shut with panache, starting off with the sound of slow rain before sliding into a dirge-like driving rhythm that packs in some tooth-gnashing guitar embellishments and inspired instrumental rampages before slowing to a close.
If you have a fondness for traditional doom metal, be sure to check in on DoomLord, and give your ears a treat.  Their solo full-length will be emerging before too long, and we intend to update you once that arrives; in the meantime, get yourself a copy of this split, and enjoy!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Candlemass, Carnivore, Demon Head, Below, Saint Vitus


Monday, September 15, 2014

Flight of the Moth

Black Moth ~ Condemned to Hope (2014)

 After a highly successful album in 2012's "The Killing Jar", the five piece out of the UK Black Moth are releasing their latest opus "Condemned to Hope" today on New Heavy Sounds Records, and it's a doomy, raucous, Heavy Rock album that just begs to be put on repeat. From the opening moments with the track "Tumbleweave", you're immediately enveloped with groove laden arms that are wrapped in vocal velvet. With a super fat bass tone, thunderous drumming, and a stunning double guitar attack the band has unlimited potential to play with, kicking out songs that are as catchy sounding as they are heavy. Then you get to the vocal performance which is edgy, bewitching, and silky all at once, like a siren of myth. Then over the course of the next ten tracks they deconstruct, reconstruct, and build on top of everything in their arsenal, with nothing sounding alike or feeling stale and played out. From fast and loud tracks that scream forward on the backs of slamming riffs like "White Lies", to darker and more melodic, doomier tracks that go down ridiculously smooth like good bourbon, such as "Red Ink". If you can picture Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick being dropped into Black Sabbath to replace Ozzy, you're pretty close to nailing down the sound of Black Moth in all of its awesomeness. You can pick up a digital copy over on iTunes, or get all of your hard copy fixes, including some limited colored vinyl over at their label's shop

For Fans Of; Black Sabbath, Electric Citizen, Pura Muerte

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Shapes Combined...

Toska - Polyforms (2014)

On their debut release, this three-piece band from Northern Ireland bring in a guest, Aran Glover, to provide the vocals for their post-metal experimentation, which they've condensed into a ~10-minute track. Mr. Glover's vocals bring plenty of aggression to the mix, surging over the rhythmic interplay of guitar and bass while the drums provide a precise counter-point. Quick bursts and fades add even more unpredictability to the musical proceedings, as does the group's ability to suddenly transition into more directly melodic passages, while keeping an under-current of energy flowing along. There's some very nice attention to tonality and harmonics, with a clean mix doing right by the work this crew has put into the music. As a debut, it's pretty sharp, though it does raise the question of how they'll handle vocals on subsequent releases; personally, I wouldn't be averse to an EP or two just to hear the trio tackle some purely instrumental material. They've got the chops, let's just see where they go with it!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Tool, Spiral Architect, ZAVM, V Shape Mind, Queens Of The Stone Age


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Playing With Pronouns...

Kalamata - You (2014)

You is the first album from Kalamata, a German trio who specialize in spaced-out riffs, heavy grooves, and fuzzy solos. Over the course of the album's seven tracks (“You”, “Have”, “To”, “Die”, “Soon”, “Mother”, and “Fucker”), the band blends psychedelic inspiration with some very tasty heavy rock sensibilities, showing a wide range of influences as the band carves out its own style. Though there's a sense of doom metal to some of the music (most notably in the way the bassist wields his chords), there's also enough of the more positive, sun-baked desert rock vibes to let the band shift around in the range between the two without getting pinned to either. That free-wheeling satisfaction with turning the music over and over until they have it just where it's wanted serves the band very well, giving their debut enough meat on the bones to hold up to repeated listening.
On top of that, the band keeps the flow from track to track going smoothly, and the linkage between the songs comes through (despite the absence of vocals to guide listeners) in the steady exploration of the music by Kalamata. Plenty of head-banging beats and shred-ready guitar-work keeps the energy high for the ride, and towards the tail-end, they start really cranking out the wild, edge-of-your-seat rips. 
It's a fantastic debut for this group, and we'll be keeping an eye out for anything else the group puts out for public consumption. There's word of a cassette reissue in the works, if that's how you roll, or you can go ahead and grab a CD or DD from their BandCamp.  Whichever way you go, don't let You get past you.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Albinö Rhino, Manthrass, Broughton's Rules, Norska, Acid Elephant


Friday, September 12, 2014

Spiritual Wax...

3rd Ear Experience - Incredible Good Fortune (2014)

With a diverse set of musical backgrounds, the six members of 3rd Ear Experience have really blended their abilities in an impressive fashion on their third and latest album, Incredible Good Fortune.  Progressive without getting too stiff, psychedelic without wandering too far from the core melodies, and spacy without losing its footing, the new album is a big chunk of finely-honed song-writing and unexpected, sparkling touches of embellishment.  At over an hour of expansive musical soaring, there's plenty of opportunities for them to show off their more-than-capable instrumental flights of fancy, with the guitars blasting off and leaving ringing waves of feedback in its wake as the drums, bass and keyboards meld together in some tasty fusion.  The guest appearance of five other musicians helps the band ensure a diversity of thought going into the songs, though it all flows together so smoothly that it can be a little difficult to pick out when someone comes in or departs.
Despite its run-time, the band has the stones to break it down into only five songs, letting each one have free rein to stretch out as long as needed to complete the cosmic wanderings.  The song titles land somewhere between whimsical and mysterious, matching up nicely with the cover art by vocalist/synthesist Amritakripa, with a track-list of “Tools”, “One”, “Parsley”, “White Bee”, and “Shaman's Dream”.  Each of the songs has its own distinct mood, with a few similarities in the essential instrumentation and attitude of the band to link them together; “Tools”, for example, as the opening song, pulls a more traditional rock approach to some of its aspects than the swimming-through-space sound of “One”, though they share swooping synthesizer, clean harmonizations, and a great deal of ambition.
If you've got fondness for either prog or psychedelic (or just space rock in general), do yourself a favor and check out this album as soon as you can, as it takes some of the best aspects of each, and just works to push them as far upwards as the band can go.  Thanks to a deal with Space Rock Productions, this album will be available on vinyl, though I suspect it will be one you'll want to scramble for if you expect to actually get your hands on a copy.  In any event, if you want to enjoy some spectacularly lush and inventive psychedelic soundscapes, make it a point to familiarize yourself with this album.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Domadora, The Human Instinct, early Porcupine Tree, Battles, Amish Rake Fight


Thursday, September 11, 2014

First Class Ticket to Slab City

Steak ~ Slab City (2014)

Steak's last EP "Corned Beef Colossus" was one of my first reviews for the blog, and my first introduction to the band. That was some cool, party worthy Stoner Rock, and their full length is more of the same. Actually traveling to the California desert to record, the birth place of that fuzz laden sound we love so much. With a staggered release over the first part of the month, just going live in North America yesterday, and everywhere else that's left today. If you already know who Steak are, then this is nothing less than what you'd expect, they're doing the Steak thing, and doing it damn well, with excellent production and seriously swinging riffs, even getting John Garcia in on a track. With that thick riff, groove assault they have thrown their "Slab City" hat the in ring to be a contender for Stoner Rock album of the year. The title track of the album pretty much sums everything up for you, an excellent representation of their sound, and one of, if not, my favorite of the entire album. After opening with some spacey sounds, it doesn't take long at all for the fuzz to drop and you're immersed in Stoner Rock goodness. The huge, commanding vocals come in just after a swinging riff that is fuzzier than a werewolf's ball-sack. The rolling drum line and rumbling bass guitar fill up the back of the mix with a colossal wall of sound to round everything out, turning the track into exactly what the title alluded to, a slab. If you are looking for an album to have a smoke session with, look no further, if you're looking for an album to turn any old party into a rager, then look no further my friends, you have made it. You can find all the necessary items to fulfill your listening needs at the Napalm Records Shop, and catch up on their back catalog at their bandcamp. One piece of Steak just isn't good enough.

For Fans Of Astroqueen, Kyuss, Truckfighters

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Medical Assistant Abuse...

Kick Nurse - Horse Conduit EP (2014)

On Kick Nurse's debut EP, they introduce themselves with a selection of three tracks, packed to the gills with energy and experimentation that just can't settle down.  Opening with “Gusto The Great”, the group engages in some blending of math rock with punk unruliness; while they've got the sneering attitude of no-wave down pat, the music's so technically accomplished that it just can't be lodged into that category.  Even as they balance shouted vocals against sizzling squeals of feedback, they keep their time signatures bouncing about, refusing to get bogged down in simplicity.  “Fist Bucket” follows, aiming for a sludgier sound, but keeping the unpredictable chord-chopping alive for more fun, and “Swish Amish Knife” rounds out the EP with a stretch almost as long as the other two tracks put together.  It's in this last one that they pull out any stops still plugged in, and show off more of their melodic side (though the manic vocals stay intact).
The EP's release date will be September 6th (they'll also be playing a show in Brighton, UK, that night, if you can make it), though you can go ahead and pre-order it from Kick Nurse's BandCamp page in either download or USB drive format.  If you've got a taste for music that actively fights against being pinned down to a single style or description, this crew's got some stuff to help you with your fix.  Here's to Kick Nurse never letting themselves get too comfortable!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Narcosatanicos, Sex Scheme, Don Caballero, The Uzbeks, Dead Hand


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Heavy Melodies

Seritas ~ Seritas (2014)

This hard hitting, dynamic duo from Michigan play what they have coined "Garage Doom", they lay down fuzzed out early doom riffs that almost take on a Stoner Rock vibe a couple of times in terms of just pure fuzz and groove. Coupled with the guitarist's melodic, hard hitting traditional doom styled vocals and it creates an unmistakeable sabbath worshiping sound, which is good by me, mix all of that with the drummer's pummeling Garage Rock drumming style, and you have a familiar yet unique, super melodic Doom Metal sound that's down right catchy in spots. Their first song to really get my attention, that something was different about this group was "Mourning Dove", opening up with a heavy, Sabbath-esque riff lumbering along, crushing all that stand before it's groovy-ness. While this is going on, and the vocalist is belting out his performance in that trademark raw, but melodic tone that he uses so well. The drums on this track just pound straight ahead, rumbling forward like a steamroller with the guitar line. Another song I really dug was the ultra bluesy "Hung My Head", having a slower, Blues riff that incorporates copious amounts of that almighty fuzz and is twice as heavy. If this is their version of blues music, I think a full album of this style is in order. If you want to get in on this unique take on Doom Metal, then head on over to their bandcamp page and pick up their self-titled debut for one of those "name your price" deals, can't go wrong with that. 

For Fans Of; Black Sabbath, At Devil Dirt, Witchfinder General

Monday, September 08, 2014

Rising Sons of the South

Remembering the days when I was first being exposed to music like Sludge Metal, Stoner Doom Metal, and Stoner Rock in my home of South Carolina, back around '03/'04, most metal fans had no idea about who even the well known bands in the scene were. Nu-Metal, Metalcore, and Deathcore was the order of the day back then. The look on my high school friend's faces when I tried to explain who Acid Bath were or what Electric Wizard sounded like was one of bafflement, and only grew more confused once I played them a couple tracks. This didn't phase me, I simply delved deeper into the music, getting my hands on and listening to anything I could find out about. Luckily, the man who introduced me to these genres, a trainer at my very first job, also told me about stonerrock.com so I had a direct source to go to and find some of the best groups out there at the time. Before long most of the other music was purged from my collection, with select artists the only ones left standing. That was many years ago, and while I didn't always keep up to date with the newest and most talked about bands, I never lost touch with the scene picking up new bands here and there over the years, doing my best to keep up with new releases from seasoned bands I know I'll enjoy. Over the last couple years however I've started back on my quest to find new stuff, discover up and coming acts, groups from the past that I overlooked before, and during this I've made some great discoveries from tons of other places, but nothing makes me more proud than to find bands right here in my state that are perpetuating the ways of the riff and keeping it heavy, the same state where I was hard pressed to find more than a handful of people who listened to Sleep about a decade ago now has a scene that's growing and becoming stronger every time one of these bands plays a show or releases a recording, and turns on another person to this great form of artistic expression we know as heavy music. I've taken the liberty of gathering all of these bands into one article for you fine folk, if you're a fan of this blog you're pretty much guaranteed to find at least one group on this list that you dig.

Buried Voices
 It's understandably tough to be an Alternative/Hard Rock band these days, with so many already out there, and all sounding pretty much alike, it's tough to be different without coming off as a gimmick or contrived. One of the reasons these guys are able to pull off exactly that and stand out from other groups doing the same thing is because they manage to sneak in bits of Southern Rock and Black Sabbath into their sound, and it provides that heavier, bluesier edge to their music. We'll have a full review of their album "Arson for the Heart" in the coming weeks, so be sure to check that out.

 Jay gave us his thoughts on Compel's first EP back in '12, which you can give a read right over here. This dynamic duo is an instrumental Sludge Metal band that plays some truly gnarly stuff, like filling your veins up with swamp mud. With long, droning songs that are brutally heavy and can sound equally sinister at times, and some that are thick and dirty mid-tempo jams, I'm still scratching my head as to how I've missed these guys since 2012. With no vocals, and no frills or niceties, it's just unadulterated sludge jams that churn and twist like a flag in the wind. In this day and age, somethings that are still stripped down and raw, in their purest form, are the best.

Fall of an Empire
These guys haven't left my playlist since I put them on it at the beginning of the year. Their first album "Songs of Steel and Sorrow" is a great work of Stoner Rock, incorporating traits of '70s Heavy Rock and Southern Rock into the group's whole vibe. With fuzzy sounds manifesting its self from deep within the speakers of a guitar cab, there's always a groovy, catchy riff to latch onto and ride out until the end of the song. Add in a drummer that beats his kit into submission like a slave driver, and a bass player with a round and smooth bass tone to really fill out that low end perfectly. Then you have a singer that looks like he's catching the holy ghost when he's performing, but if he stood still doing it, you'd probably think he was a robot or something.

With three guitarist and a shit ton of experience between the whole group, coming from local and regional acts like Deathvalley Driver, Diavolo, Carolyn, Shaokahn and Mean Wiener/Evil Empire among others, they perform a style of doomy Southern, Sludge Metal in the essence of the NOLA music scene, which we all love. That's not to say they're some cookie cutter band, being a fan of that Louisiana scene for a long time now I can confidently tell you that with the third guitar and their various influences, they have created something similar but definitely unique in its own right and is more than capable of standing on it's own two legs when compared to other groups doing the same thing. With solid musicianship all the way around I'd be here all day breaking down their individual sounds, but if you were to be sentenced to death by pressing, having these guys play instead of people stacking all those rocks on top of you would achieve the same goal with more jams and a lot less effort. Having already released a single off of their upcoming EP, it seems like nothing but good things are to come, be sure to keep an eye out for a release date.

Heathen Bastard
 Sharing a member with Thieving Coyote, Heathen Bastard falls more into the Stoner Doom Metal category, reminding me of bands like Weedeater in the best of ways. With growled out vocals, skull crushing riffs, and pounding drums moving at the pace of something stuck in a tar pit, you have plenty of fuzz in the mix too, but it's that low, chest rattling, bass fuzz. Remember that episode of South Park when they were searching for the "brown note"? Well, I think these guys are trying to find it through sludge doom experimentation, and I'm happy to be the guinea pig.

A few college guys get together and start a band, not that uncommon, right? But when you lay down gritty Stoner Rock tunes like this, you tend to automatically set yourself apart from the majority of those student bands that never really go anywhere. The band is always high energy, and quick to put down a grooving riff covered in fuzz that forces you to move, tap your foot, bang your head, something. My first impressions on hearing them a while back was like a Southern fried Fu Manchu, and I'd still say that it's not a completely wrong observation. If you've ever thought about putting mud tires on your boogie van, hearing these guys might just give you that final push to go for it.

Space Coke
When you just absolutely want to put on a party for the ages, give Space Coke a call and see if they're available. Complete with a wig and a smoke machine, they put on one hell of a Rock and Roll show, a full blown rager from the first note to the last. The self proclaimed purveyors of Motorcycle Rock, which I must admit has a ring to it, lay down dirty rock riffs and sleazy grooves for the ages. As their front man says "If the amps ain't smokin', it ain't Space Coke". Unfortunately they don't have any music up for your listening pleasure, but I'll leave you with the band's promo video, and you can always look around youtube, there's bound to be a live video or two. If you ever find yourself in the city of Columbia, South Carolina however, you might just walk into a bar and see a long haired front man slamming around the stage and playing the guitar on his back like he was channeling the spirit of Jimi Hendrix himself.

Thieving Coyote
We had a review for their latest EP go up not very long ago, which you can check out here. But they're a five piece Southern/Stoner Metal band that play no holds barred, sleazy jams about everything from hookers out on the highway to getting high, and are among the best at it. These guys know how to party, and how play kick ass tunes, and are damn good at both. 

Tripping the Mechanism
Having reviewed their full length earlier last month, which you can check out here, this three piece plays their own massive sounding version of Death Metal influenced Sludge Metal and always towing the line between sadistic brutality and beautiful melody at times, you never know exactly what to expect from them.

Waft is a primal, smoked out Sludge Metal act with songs about stuff like being Southern as fuck, hard not to love, right? It was a three piece, but after adding another guitar since the last time I've seen them I'm curious as to how that twin guitar attack will sound in the music, especially since their current guitarist could more than carry the load, this will just being icing on the cake. Judging from the ground shaking performance I was witness to, with the drummer snarling out lyrics as he beat those drums to within an inch of their life, and the bass player was slamming around like a madman and in the process had the whole club rocking, their upcoming recording is going to be a monster. Be sure to stay tuned for this one too.



Sunday, September 07, 2014

From The Cold...

Dead Hand - 2014 EP (2014)

From the wilds of Georgia emerges this two-track EP debut from Dead Hand, whom we featured last week on a split with Repellers.  The band's page states that a full-length is on the way, and that these two songs are half of the material intended for inclusion on that imminent arrival.  The first of these, “Ground To Ash”, begins with a quote from Stephen Hawking about the illegitimacy of authority systems, which leads quite naturally into some grinding, sludgy doom metal.  There's some funeral doom to it, some post-core (mainly in the intense but sometimes low-mixed drumming), but it's generally all swirled together without regard for those conventions, in keeping with the opening sample.
The second track, “The Last King” begins in a more subdued manner, with a steady drum-beat laying down a path for the gently-picked guitar melody, while bass hums in the background.  Moving past point after point where they might be expected to jump out into a big, loud burst, the band gradually develops the energy until they can sweep smoothly into a more violent mode.  With a sharp guitar tone that floats along on reverb, the second half of the song packs in signature changes, heavy riffs, and escalating tension, before finally releasing into the same quietness with which it began.
It's a promising start for this group, and with their split on Divine Mother Recordings already selling fast, it doesn't seem too farfetched to imagine the same will happen for the full-length, once it arrives.  Keep your ears open for more to come!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Unearthly Trance, Black Freighter, Integrity, Oak & Bone, November Coming Fire


Saturday, September 06, 2014

Funeral Doom On A Global Scale

Arms Of The Abyss - The Great Dying (2014)

According to the liner notes, Arms Of The Abyss' new album (the first from the band, though its members have played together before this) is centered around an nigh-unfathomable extinction event involving forces beyond the ability of man to comprehend.  The band communicates this concept through their chosen medium of cosmic doom metal, letting megalithic bass, sonorous drums, a strong range of vocal capabilities, and carefully-wielded guitar tell the tale of virtually an entire planet's ecological demise.
To do the music credit, it does sound like something that would be right in place echoing across an arctic ice shelf.  The album sounds lush in all the right places, colossal and cold in the rest, and produces the relatively rare feat of a successfully 'epic' metal album.  Whether taken seriously, imagining mysterious energies sweeping across the planet to devastate all living things, or imagining tundra warriors going mad with clubs and beards, the music has enough conviction in its doom to make it work.
Of course, combining a concept album, this kind of subject matter, and big doom metal sets the band up for some sizable closing song expectations.  Luckily, they rise to the occasion for “Fate Of The Faithful”, which ratchets up the oppressive atmosphere to the album's high-water point, before allowing it all to close with a planetary death drone.
As a debut, it's kind of staggering; where will they go from here?  Will they be one of those bands that intentionally releases just one album?  It is hard to imagine a group which started like this moving on to non-concept albums.  But that's looking beyond the extinction event, and The Great Dying stands strong on its own.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Thergothon, Tons, Evoken, Sunwølf, Ksyatriya