Slowbot is a four piece Stoner Rock band out of France, but to simply just label them off as Stoner Rock doesn't really do the music justice. What they play is really a "take no prisoners", grungy Stoner Rock with lots and lots of groove. With nice chunky, fuzz laden riffs, lots of fat bass groove, and 90's era grunge sort of vocals.Their debut, self-titled, EP was recorded in the summer of 2013, after only being a band for about a year. They just released the finished product on the 7th of April, after a Facebook competition to find the mix and mastering engineer. The result are 5 tracks of that heavy Stoner Rock that seems a little more addicting each time you listen to it, just like good music should. While all 5 songs are worth your time, and all were really stand outs in their own rights, the one I finally decided on talking about was probably what could be considered the single, "Casual Monsters". It's just one of those songs that embody the whole spirit and reason behind playing this kind of music. Opening with a Stoner Rock jam, a slightly fuzzy riff chugging along, that groovy bass line, and straight up, rock and roll drumming. The vocals drop in with that trademark Grunge sound, right in the middle of super clean and gravel filled, with a perfect amount of rawness and emotion. They really managed to pool the best things to come out of Rock music in the last 20 years or so, not bringing anything new to the table, but you shouldn't have to when you're doing the old thing so well that it almost sounds new. With a price tag of free over on their bandcamp, you really shouldn't pass this one up, one of the best, free pieces of music you'll pick up all year.
This German three piece plays what they've coined "heavy-dark-trip-rock", and that's a spot on description of their sound, because they defy pretty much all reasonable classifications. You'll hear a ridiculously wide spectrum of musical sounds, from dark and mellow electronic interludes, saxophone solos, Doom Metal riffs, Psychedelic Rock songs, lots of Prog Rock influences, it's all very well represented at some point in the 42 minute run time.
Their second release "Silentia Nova" opens up with the track "o.m.e.n - A Decision of Despair", and a crawling drum beat, accompanied by a kind of jazzy guitar track, and funky bass line. This is an instrumental track, so it continues on in like fashion for a little bit, until you get into the second half of the song and the Psychedelic Rock vibes start to kick in, with a loud, slightly fuzzy guitar part. The third track, simply titled "-" opens up with a mellow but funky bass and drum lines, which is joined shortly by a cool saxophone piece, and pretty much finishes that way and leads seamlessly into the next track. The sixth track is the title track "Silentia Nova", and is a real deal rock song all the way through, with a slow build up, you get to a hard hitting guitar riff, and a groovy as hell bass line that come together with tight drumming and produce one hell of a Psychedelic Rock song.
The group utilized lots of different sounds in their album, most of which you wouldn't normally find in this sort of music, but they use them, and use them well. From extensive uses of synths and keyboards and the dynamics they can create, all the way to the toe tapping saxophone pieces. If you're a fan of original and unique music, but at the same time like to hear some of those more traditional influences in it, then this is the band for you, give 'em a spin. You can pick up their vinyls over at Cargo Records and Sireena Music, or head over here for a quick download.
From the first chord of Gunpowder
Gray's title track on their self-titled debut EP (hey, hat trick!),
they rip into action, fueled by a high-octane mix of semi-grunged hard
rock. In a lot of ways, it sounds like a time capsule from the glory
days of Guns 'n' Roses, with near-soprano vocals tearing it up over
noodly riffs from the guitar and slamming drums keeping things
shaking loose. The crew dresses to match that era, with black
leather jackets and torn jeans, shades and cigarettes; one of the
guys even has a death-grip on his beer can in their group shot.
Lively, rambunctious, and undeniably
retro-themed, Gunpowder Gray seem to be intent on having a good time
and providing some rough-edged rock, so it's hard to fault them for
that. At the same time, considering how much stoner rock has eaten
up what used to be hard rock's territory, it does raise the question
of whether fans of that general area of music will be wanting to drop
the fuzz and go back to the cleaner, more stripped-down days of old.
From listening to the EP, though, I think that as long as Gunpowder
Gray can get people to their shows to share the energy, pound some
beers or shots, and lose some inhibitions, they'll be happy with
the results of their work.
For Fans Of; Clutch, Black
Stone Cherry, Black Label Society, Guns 'n' Roses, High Spirits
Heavily influenced by traditional epic
doom, the Swedish quintet behind Below make no bones about their aims
to sink as low as they can go while keeping a majestic sound present
in their playing. And really, they do a great job on Across The
Dark River, their debut album,
which begins with “Trapped Under Ground”, a track that delivers
on its title by sounding suffocatingly heavy and subterranean, and
only gets more oppressively crushing from there. Despite the
unrelenting doom, they find time to smoothly incorporate a few
shredding guitar solos and killer drum breaks into the songs, done
well enough to avoid any worries about it throwing off the tempo and
pacing as well as kicking some serious ass.
the album is filled with ghosts and death, betrayals and despair,
tortured magicians and triumphant ghouls, doing battle and sinking
into decay. If you have a soft spot for the most exuberant of occult
'80s metal, this album has a great shot at satisfying your tastes
beyond expectations. It's a wild, well-crafted, and excellent first
album, and it gives the impression that this band is destined for big
things and steady touring. Keep one ear out for further
developments, and the other listening to this album.
Fans Of; Candlemass, Demon Head, Forgotten Tomb, King Diamond,
The Slow Season EP
is the first release from Inwoods, a quartet of guys from Adelaide,
Australia, with a taste for stoner doom. Though there's only six
tracks on the EP, they average about 5+ minutes each, making for a
substantial offering of slow, low, and doom-soaked tunes. From the
opening title track onwards, the bass hums and rumbles, the drums
sound monstrous, and the guitar sizzles along in its down-tuned ways.
The vocalist takes his cues from the less sludgy side of stoner
doom, opting for a voice with more harmony than growling and
shouting, and all the instrumental elements come together around him
for a sticky blend of aggression and groove.
same time, they lace in some grungy style, snapping in a crunchy
guitar tear here, a riff that sounds like acid-washed and
sludge-soaked Nirvana or Stone Temple Pilots there, and
quiet-loud-quiet-loud song arrangement on a couple of the tracks. To
paraphrase the band themselves, they really do sound like something
familiar but new, and that something sounds pretty good. Even
better, like the best grunge bands, they have a good sense of humor
about things (possibly best-reflected in the raucous “Van Song”,
which blasts along while urging people to just “get in the van,
baby!”). Here's hoping they keep on keeping on, and share more of
that fun with the rest of us.
Fans Of; Moon Curse, Celophys, Alice In Chains, Valkyrie, Seed
The four-track debut EP from the
Italian group Rhino hums with energy, feedback, and stoner rock
vibes, rocking and shredding all over the place. It's as though the
usual desert rock band was put in a laboratory, hot-boxed 'til their
eyes were pure red, then popped out some recording equipment right
there in the lab. From the opening riot of “Spiral Target”,
through the flavored smoke of “Hiperviper” into the lengthy,
leisurely sprawl of “Bing Bong Bubbles”, and the big wrap-up in
“For My Pleasure”, the band keeps up a high level of quality
while showing off their skill with a variety of approaches to the
brain-melting material. Lively, groovy, and highly respectable, this
is the sort of music that almost demands high speeds down a long
stretch of asphalt for full appreciation. Until you can manage that,
though, do yourself a favor and check it out right here, then snag
yourself a copy to take to the road.
For Fans Of; Brimstone
Coven, Moon Curse, Black Sabbath, Church Of Misery, Deep Purple
Shrine is a UK four piece that you can't quite classify, but it's close enough to say they fall into some Prog/Math Rock/Hardcore crossover category. Over the course of just one track, you'll hear shades of more bands than you probably thought possible. They just released one of two EPs for the year entitled "Closer to the Sun" on April 7th, with part two coming out later on.
What you have on this EP are three tracks, 18 minutes, of open, melodic soundscapes punctuated by bouts of chaotic auditory assault. The track that seemed to stand out for me was the title track "Closer to the Sun", opening with a twin drum and guitar attack, it soon builds up into a short, choppy riff, then drops off into a soft lull, with open melodic sounds and airy vocals. The song it's self picks right back up with a sharp bass line as soon as the vocals take on a Hardcore sound. This sort of peak and valley, back and forth is typical of the band's sound for the most part, sometimes slowly ramping up to a crushing section, and going from 0 to 10 at the drop of a hat just as often. These guys are all over the map, yet seem to mesh everything together rather well, and make it look easy.
You can pick "Closer to the Sun" up on CD or digitally over at their bandcamp, and check out their earlier single "Kursk".
For Fans Of ~ Primus, The Ocean, If These Trees Could Talk
Hesperian Death Horse's debut album is
a sprawling affair, with four track that add up to nearly an hour's
worth of violent, nasty, chew-your-own-arm-off black metal, sludge,
and doom. A significant portion of the material plays with post-rock
conventions, though they're careful to never let it slide into the
self-indulgence that plagues so much of that material; instead, they
keep it tightly-focused, employing the quiet and melodic interludes
just to make the rest of it seem that much more dangerous.
Despite the acerbic nature of the
music, there's also a surprising lushness to it, thanks to the time
and effort put into it through every step of its creation. Listening
to it, you can appreciate how much they must have labored over
getting the arrangement and production just right, and that attention
to detail pays off in spades, even as they howl and thunder through
the tracks. This group from Croatia has an enormous talent for
balancing the violent, gritty side of their music with the smoother,
more subdued side, but even better, they put that talent to work to
elevate the music, instead of building the songs around a bunch of
'look what I can do' gimmickry, as a lesser band might be tempted to do.
Really, I don't feel as though I can
say enough good things about the work put into this album, so I'll
just say that it's fantastic work, it's an incredible debut, I'm
desperate for this to get a physical release so that I can import a copy, and leave it at that,
at least until they roll out their next album. Damn good stuff.
For Fans Of; Earthling,
Black Magician, Amort, Bell Witch, Ulver
English three piece, XII Boar (see title) should need no introduction. But for the new kids on the block, they play an extra sleazy mix of Southern and Stoner Metal, and for a southern stoner through and through it's one of the best things going right now. With fat, sludgey riffs, a punching bass line, and ferocious drumming they lay down a thick groove, and then blast it loud and proud, the way it should be.
The title track for the vinyl only release of "Truckstop Baby" is a Stoner Metal work of art, with seriously heavy southern styled riffs, and a chorus about those lovely lot lizards. It opens with a solitary Blues guitar piece, but is quickly joined by that heavy bass riff and those swinging drums, and the whole thing gives way to the gritty, dirt road vocals that pack a punch, reminding me of Artimus Pyledriver. On the flip side, you have a mellow, almost Blues revision of the lead off track on their debut offering "XII". This version of "Train Wreck (Slight Return)" is a good bit slower but they still managed to retain a nice, head bobbin' groove without the aggressiveness of the the original version. The song has a Down like quality to it in places, mostly in the chorus, but the overall tone is still uniquely XII Boar.
As I stated earlier, this is a vinyl only release, so you need to head over to their store and pick up a copy of the slick purple 7" that the songs come on, complete with a CD and trucker girl sticker.
For Fans Of; Down, Artimus Pyledriver, Orange Goblin, Weedeater, Crowbar
From the first blistering riff assault,
it's clear to hear what kind of music Space Chaser digs. Thrash with
a '90s pedigree seeps from their core, with drums, guitar, bass, and
vocals all rocketing forward at extreme speeds. The songs are quick
and punchy, with plenty of opportunities for head-banging and circle
pits to erupt. That unrelenting energy does make the songs a bit
difficult to differentiate at times, but it also works in the band's
favor, turning the entire album into one wild freak-out of thrash.
The album is also loaded with countless references to B-movie sci-fi
and horror, from the Puppet Master-derived
“Decapitron” to the frenetic “Saucer Attack”, “Predator”
and “Undead Revenge”. If you have a longing for ye olden days of
thrash with a sense of fun around it, be sure to check out
Space Chaser for a taste of that time, unfiltered and undiminished; the Germany-based group will be releasing Watch The Skies through This Charming Man Records for you to get your gnarly little hands on a copy this May.
For Fans Of; Holy Grail,
early Megadeth, Exodus, Exciter, Dr. Living Dead!
starts off with a squeal of feedback that lasts just a second before
they pull the floor out and drop the listener into a pit of heavy
resonance. It's a neat trick and a great introduction, and one that
does an excellent job of setting the stage for the rest of the
album's churning waves and swirling clouds of smoke and foggy haze.
To say that it's heavy psychedelia would be a serious understatement,
and they do a great job of blending '70s-inspired touches and
progressions into the knee-crushing weight of modern heaviness with
the amps turned up and fuzzed out. There's a nice subtle menace to
the track titles, which include memorable names like “Muzzle of a
Sleeping God”, “Backward Spoken Rhymes”, and the implicit
violence of “Roman Nails”.
Along the course of the
album, the doom elements begin to stand out more and more, gradually
taking over the album to culminate in the 15-minute, two-part title
track, which opens with some subdued chords that sound like they
should be playing over footage of a funeral at night. On its way to
that destination, the hard grooving, treacle-thick breakdowns, and
massive drum rolls serve up more than enough tasty, chunky, and
well-baked doom for any heavy psych or stoner metal fan to fill their
ears, several times over. Excellent stuff, don't miss out on this one.
For Fans Of;
Celophys, Olde Growth, Necronomicon (Brazil), Alice In Chains, Acid
An improved version of the self-titled first cassette from Demon Head (or
DEMON HEAD, as they always seem to write it), Demo 2014 still has roughness around its
edges, but underneath the fuzz (which you could experience for
yourself, if they hadn't already sold every last copy of their
100-cassette release) there's a bluesy traditional doom that drips
with old-school D&D flavor and love for heavy metal. Luckily,
you can still check out the four tracks (“Undertaker”, “Ride
the Wilderness”, “III”, and “Demon Head”) over at Caligari
Records' BandCamp page, which should give you a good idea of why you
should keep your ears to the ground for any info on their first
studio album or EP. Tasty stuff.
For Fans Of; Danzig, Black
Sabbath, Salem's Pot, Uncle Acid, Magic Circle
It would be fair to say that I've never made much of an effort to hide my immense and ever growing love for Utah's Top Dead Celebrity. So when my good buddy Jeff dropped me a line last year, to tell me about his new band Oxcross it goes without saying that I was just a little bit excited. But when I was given the finished album back in November and had to sit on it until now, well, you can surely imagine my frustration. Going by our past coverage of what the home of Mormonism and apparently meth, has to offer, it's undeniable that Utah, or more accurately Salt Lake City, has quite the pool of talent to dip into, and from the sound of things, there's no sign of it becoming stagnant any time soon.
Where the likes of TDC, Thunderfist and Dwellers flexed their rock and roll prowess with a dazzling array of riffage and gloriously groove thumping tunes to bang your head and air guitar/drum to, Oxcross have, in comparison, stepped out into somewhat uncharted territory. Right from from the start you can tell Tree & Stone has been carved out of a darker, more ominous and dare I say, focused niche. By which I mean, where other related projects had obvious elements of punk and beer chugging rock and roll, Oxcross have appeared to ever so slightly step out of that circle. Think of it as comparing Red Fang's last album to Converge's. It just can't be done. But it does bring me onto this new sound. It really draws more towards that grandioseness often associated acts you'd more likely find on labels such as Hydra Head or Relapse. With a slower, lower and all in all more sinister tone, Tree and Stone delivers a enormous gut punch in its opening minutes then proceeds to push you to the ropes and pummel you senseless about the head for the remaining 40 or so. It's at times manic, hate fuelled and brutally roaring, but all that coupled with moments of fleeting eerily harmonic beauty and an air of deliberate ambiance. It's pretty astonishing, and from what I can make out from the small amount of footage I've seen, makes for a pretty awe inspiring live performance. Accumulating in equal parts bowel rumbling ferocity and pure technical ecstasy Oxcross, much like Big Business manage to effortless turn out track after track of utter crushing brilliance. A couple of the highlights for me being the last couple of minutes of Seventh Son and the middle of Black Mark, which I'm pretty sure have been the cause of a few dents in my cars steering wheel, courtesy of my air drumming along. To sum up, Tree and Stone completely slays, on all counts. If you're in the market for a blitzkrieg of heavy and melodic tunes to rattle your brain loose from its moorings then this will far and away be the best 2 bucks you'd ever spend!
For Fans Of; Big Business, Kylesa, Baroness, Black Sleep Of Kali, In The Company Of Serpents
Slug Salt Lava's first full release
(after the single for “Fallout”) finds the one-man band from
Istanbul churning out some demented and heavy instrumental sludge,
perfectly tarry and low-pitched. After the quick opening track of
“Dust”, things slide into slow and low mode for the following of
“Fallout”, the revived power of “Cult”, and the final rise of
“Rejuvenation”. Each of the tracks sounds like it was recorded
in a bomb shelter, letting the echoing bass and careful percussion
roar to life and snake their way into your ears to give your brains a
good rattle. There's no doubt that this project has legs, so give
our sample track a listen, then scoot on over to the BandCamp page to
get yourself a copy and show Ersin (the bloke responsible for all the
mad doom) your support for his endeavours.
For Fans Of; Bongripper,
Bell Witch, Salem's Pot, Sleep, Major Kong
I'm not a big prog fan. On the whole, it's all a little bit disjointed and pretentious for my taste. I think my dislike stems back to my childhood, when I would be played Yes ad nauseum. Not that I can't appreciate the genre, hell, I love a good organ bashing (oh er!), but I'm a busy man dammit, where in my life is there space for a 10-minute Wakeman solo!? But I'm getting off track here. My point was going to be that Fuzz Manta are, for all intense and purpose a prog rock outfit. There are a myriad of other influences that shine through but their roots seem to be planted firmly within the early 70's progressive movement. I mean, just take a glance at the opening/title track, it's an absolute monster! Weighing in at a huge 34 minutes in length, they could easily give early Genesis a run for their money if it ever came to some kind of Back To The Future-like live stand off.
That being said, it was a little be of a slog for me to get through. Technically, it's absolutely remarkable, just like the rest of the album, but half and hour was a bit much. I think that's my only criticism with this album, and let's face it, that's wholly down to my own personal preference. If you do happen to share the same notion, then fear not, because from side B onwards the track length is quartered and The Stonewolf basically serves as a big unashamed monolith of spectacular talent.
Where many bands will incorporate a number of genres, then fleet between them throughout the recording, Fuzz Manta have gone to the extent of overlapping and merging them on top of one another. What's the difference you may ask? Well, it's one thing to break out a classic rock lick then suddenly ramp the pace up and go all southern rock, but it's a completely different ball game to be playing a southern rock riff then have someone playing an organ over the top. That takes a musical ear that very few bands out there actually possess. None the less, the whole amalgamation of different styles makes for one hell of a psychedelic mind bender of an album. Eclectic isn't the word. At times I actually had to check back on my iTunes to make sure that it hadn't skipped to something else while I was listening. From classic rock to stoner rock via the world of psych, space, funk, prog and even at times lounge, the Manta really take you on a journey. I've yet to actually exploit the whole album while tripping, but I can just tell that it's so textured and far out that I'm bound to find it a hell of an experience.
Do yourself a favour though and treat yourself to the vinyl, its undeniably the way this thing was meant to be heard. Float on over to our friends atBilocation Records and give your ears the joy they deserve!
For Fans Of; Kadavar, King Crimson, Baby Woodrose, Jefferson Airplane, PJ Harvey
Hazarder / Hesperian Death Horse - The Electric Wizard (2014)
This split doubles as a tribute to the
Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla (whose surname is used for both
tracks), so it's fitting that it comes from a record label in his homeland, though both of the contributing bands are from the neighboring country of Croatia. Hazarder's side of the split is a thick and sludgy
(but up-tempo) cloud of noise, heaving to and fro like a ship caught
in a magnetized storm, with the drums providing thunderclaps, an
electrical sizzling provided by the guitar, and the vocals serving as
ominous rumblings of further violence.
Hesperian Death Horse's side begins
with a quick jolt of piano-driven melody, before introducing agonized
black metal vocals into the proceedings. From there, it's a slow,
crushing grind of sound, like a steamroller turning skulls and
skeletons into pavement. It's nasty-sounding and virulent in all the
right ways, and they shift through a number of modes in the nine
minutes of their Tesla track, packing violence and agony into every
moment. Hats off to both bands, and their excellent, abrasive work, and here's hoping that PMK Records gives this a physical release in the near future.
For Fans Of; Moloch, Hate,
Open Tomb, Earthling, Weapon
Another awesome release from Napalm Records is Jackson Firebird, a two piece of Guitars and Drums from Mildura, Australia. They play loud, sleazy, fun as hell Rock and Roll in it's purest form. Chuck Berry comes to mind quite a few times for me over the course of the album, and it's a shot of something new and fresh in an increasingly saturated pool at this point. Lots of bands go after that 70's or 60's sound, but the 50's is where it all started. Add into that basic starting formula of a Gibson semi-hollow body guitar and bluesy vocals, an animal of a drummer, a little Punk Rock attitude and Garage Rock sort of musical ethics and you have one kick ass, in your face, Rock band. It's a good thing.
The album opens up with the title track "Cock Rockin'", and it's full of foul mouthed, piss and vinegar, Rock and Roll fury. And in a time where so much emphasis can be put on the nuances of an individual chord, it's a definite change of pace to hear such carefree sort of playing style when kicking out jams like this. The following song "She Said" opens with a rolling drum part, shortly joined by a ripping guitar solo which evolves into a nice chunky riff, which switches up around halfway and the gritty, Garage Rock type vocals kick in, half singing, half shouting. In the end, like most the songs, you'll end up feeling the urge to sing along while you're tapping your toe, if you don't just outright start singing. Getting on into the meat of the album some, you come across the number 7, a gem called "Can Roll". Opening with a 1-2-3 kick/snare beat, it turns into a classic, Arena Rock jam pretty quick, but with a twist. Imagine if Def Leppard were from Alabama, instead of the UK, and you have a good idea of the song is like. A super bluesy Rock riff that carries everything forward, and keeps a nice groove while it's doing it.
When they set about recording this album, they wanted to try and capture as much of the energy as they could from their live show, which they're known for, and put it on tape. Having never seen their live show, it'd seem they did a pretty admirable job. It's a party album by all accounts, from the first track to the closing. Get some friends together, put the beer on ice, light a fat one, kick this on, and watch the results.
From Perth, in Western Australia, Jupiter Zeus is a four piece, self proclaimed Psychedelic Space Rock band, which on the surface doesn't sound far off at all. Personally, I'd put them somewhere more in the Stoner/Psychadelic/Prog-ish category, but what fun would the world be without disagreements over music genres? Most of the tracks have different "vibes" throughout the whole album, but no matter what song you're on, you'll be greeted by super melodic riffs and harmonious vocals that are mesmerizing all on their own. Some of the songs have a very spacey feeling to them, not only in lyrical content, but in atmosphere. Occasionally giving the listener the impression that they could be floating in the great nothingness while the song plays on.
The album kicks off with the songs "Waves" and a deceivingly mellow guitar intro, interrupted by moments of thunderous drums until they finally merge and the riff really takes off at this point, turning the song into an absolutely crushing monolith of sound. I think it's the larger than life guitar sounds, and the vocals that remind me a bit of mid/late 90's Paradise Lost, which is a good thing in my opinion. The guitars and drums never really let up, keeping the wall of sound almost always at a constant maximum, which is a necessity when your first track sounds this huge. You can tell simply from all of the transitions and the song structures, not just here but throughout the album, exactly how meticulously these songs were put together. Which I'm sure translates into a lot of man hours in the practice space for these guys. The track "Psychotic Seeds" opens up with a heavy Stoner Rock riff, which lead into those same "air-y" sort of harmonic vocals that are so prevalent throughout the whole album, and are used well. This one takes all kinds of twists and turns as it goes through the motions, from Stoner Rock, to a really crunchy riff that could almost pass as Doom Metal, all the way down to a wailing, face-melter of a guitar solo.
It's hard to pin down this group, they're not quite like anything I've heard before, but at the same time pull certain familiar tones or sounds from all over the musical spectrum and meld them all together into an absolutely stellar 11 track album. While it's a digital only album at the moment, which you can pick up on the Magnetic Eye Records bandcamp, you can always drop 'em a line and show some interest in a physical release if you're digging the album that much.
For Fans Of; Nebula, Pink Floyd, Black Space Riders
Abramis Brama's sixth studio album is
also their first without bassist and founding member Dennis Berg, who
parted ways with the band after 15 years of service. Enkel
Biljett translates as 'One-Way
Ticket', suggesting that the band, while still proud of their
previous efforts, intends to keep changing as they move forward.
It's an attitude that's well-reflected over the course of the nine
songs they've assembled, as each one incorporates deft changes of tempo, rhythm,
time signature, and melody, twisting and turning without ever really
seeming to lose their way.
tracks on Enkel Biljett, all titled and sung in the group's native Swedish tongue, are
high-energy affairs, with each instrument rattling, shaking, and
shredding for all of its worth. Prog touches are integrated
naturally in the songs, allowing them to keep a rocking continuum
alive throughout the uncountable flips and twists through which they
put the songs, and providing a nice balance between the lean sound of
'70s hard rock and the bombast of prog rock. The album stays firmly
in that fold for its duration, exploring all the nooks, crannies, and
twists that they can find in the overlapping space between the two
genres, and showing off some toothsome material in the course of the
exploration. With such a sure-footed step to the next phase of the
band's existence, Abramis Brama seems poised to handle wherever their
ticket takes them.
Fans Of; Kadavar, Led Zeppelin, Ten Years After, Deep Purple, King
The sound of Sonora Ritual's debut
album is tough to pin down, as they use pieces of so many different
genres that it would be tough to ID them all. The dominant part of
the music is a sort of hard-edged desert rock, but juiced up with
some stoner-friendly doom that manifests in a knack for slow and
jagged chords, a bass tuned so low you can hear the strings rattle,
and a firm knowledge of how and when to kick the feedback to maximum.
Tracks like “Child Of The Sun” and
“Worship” practically simmer with hot solar energy, seeping out
of the speakers and through careful amp filters, even as the rhythms
head for wilder and wilder territory. The few places where Sonora
Ritual does slow down serve as well-timed breaks for some harmonic
atmospherics, and provide enough contrast to make the other tracks
seem even harder and drier in comparison.
It's kind of staggering to consider
that this is the group's first album, given how much care and
attention was given to the arrangement, production, and performances
it holds. In many ways, this sounds like the work of a group that's
been together for at least a decade, hashing out their sound and how
they want to balance everything, but it has the essential energy,
vitality, and willingness to experiment of a band that's just begun.
Bilocation Records was lucky enough to sign the group, and is due to
release Worship The Sun on
vinyl in the near future, so keep an ear out for further developments
from this group; all signs point to them exploding in notoriety in
the months to come.
For Fans Of; Orchid,
Kyuss, Church Of Misery, Kadavar, Sasquatch
I've long thought that there was something in the water in Sweden, the way the country has constantly churned out the most excellent Stoner and Doom bands. The Gravaiators are no exception to the rule. I discovered their 2012 release "Evil Deeds" last year and was impressed immediately, so I had fairly high expectations going into this. Their latest release "Motherload" failed to disappoint, with super heavy riffs and a real "no nonsense" sort of approach to their music, having lots of dynamics and different sounds, but never to the point where it feels over done and weighed down by them.
The first track I found myself hitting repeat on was "Bed of Bitches", opening up with a Doom riff that devastates everything in it's path, it eases up just as the vocals kick in, going from clean in the higher registers and taking on a bit of a gruff edge and his pitch goes into the lower registers, but it works and works very well, keeping the vocal performance very interesting over the course of the track. Another one of the later tracks that really grabbed my attention was "Drowned in Leaves", opening with a Sabbath-esque vocal performance, with the guitar and bass methodically strumming along behind it, at least until around the minute and a half point, when a crunchy Doom riff drops in and lays down the groove, that dance goes back forth until about the midway point where the song really kicks in the afterburners and goes into Hard Rock overdrive. The closer "Druid's Ritual" isn't really a new track, but a re-recording of a favorite track from an earlier release. After starting with a mellow introductory riff it kicks into familiar Doom Metal territory, with those same raw but still melodic vocals that are always present. Around the half way mark it goes from crushing Doom riff to a spacey, hypnotic jam session that grooves like little else on the planet, with a swinging bass line that grabs you and refuses to let go around 7/8 minute mark. It's not hard to see why this song is a favorite, it exemplifies the best qualities of the group, and it's, above all, just an epic track. From the variety of sounds over the course of the track, from which everyone is sure to find something to like, to the nearly seamless transitions over the course of the track.
Having high expectations going into something is always a risky sort of thing, especially when it comes to music though. You never know if the band is going to change directions, or if that direction will be one that you actually dig. But when your expectations are met, if not exceeded, those are the really good days, because they will not happen very often. Not only is it a piece of sonic art, the vinyls from over at Napalm Records are a thing of beauty.
For Fans Of; Sons of Huns, Black Sabbath, Pentagram
The latest release from the
Seattle-based Mystery Ship is a slick little single that grooves
along on psychedelic riffs and stylish drumming, with a vocalist who
channels the best of the '70s. “Bridgeburner” is a heavy rocker
that manages to take its time and savor every last note, squeezing
everything it can into four minutes of solid rocking. “Chinatown”
slides further into bluesy abandon and old-fashioned rock 'n' roll,
with the guitarist scuttling away up and down the neck at some times,
and stretching out the notes into elastic tension at others.
Together, the two tracks make a perfect treat for when you need a
quick intake of casual rock with which to unwind.
For Fans Of; Brimstone
Coven, Black Mountain, Supersnazz, Deep Purple, The Chubbies
The debut single from Germany's new
band Lord Of Giant is a nice shot of heavy desert rock, with
thunderous drums, hard guitar chords, and vocals just the right side
of clean. “Dust Demon” does a great job as the opening track,
showing the band's tastes and inclinations off in a way that's
virtually impossible to misinterpret, and throwing in a tasty
breakdown to ride out the end in style.
“Woman”, as the B-side, swirls some
Danzig-like blues metal influences into their expansive sound, but
take the time for another slamming breakdown before returning to the
passionate singing. There's only 222 copies of this single
(available in red, black, or green), and it will be available for
pre-order beginning May 1st, from H42 Records. If you
have a sweet tooth for desert rock, and like the sound of “Woman”,
don't let this one slip past you!
For Fans Of; Clutch,
Kyuss, Orchid, Night Horse, Kings Destroy
As the third and most recent album from
the Australian rockers of Mother Mars, Steam Machine Museum is
a toothsome piece of heavier-than-heavy desert rock core encrusted in
stoner doom flavor, rumbling like the engine of an El Camino
streaking down a broken highway. Crunch and groove are available in
heaping helpings, with the guitarist laying down some very
respectable slides of hard-worn psychedelic flares. The general
atmosphere of big skies and craggy landscapes is developed nicely by
the wide range of approaches taken by the vocalist, and the drums
match that range just as admirably. The instrumental songs will make
your head swim as they plow along, losing themselves in a fog of
feedback and ever-sharper guitar howling. Truly mad and inventive
work, with enough audio samples dropped in to let them nod to the
influential work of acts like Electric Wizard while having a good
time with their own strain of the music and crafting some monster
tunes. Don't miss out on this one!
For Fans Of; Salem's Pot,
Celophys, Major Kong, Norska, Electric Wizard
This EP from Octophuzz allows the band
to introduce themselves with four tracks of their particular blend of
rock. There's a distinct focus on hard-groove riffs, and an almost
grunge-like tendency to go through a 'rock out' section, drop in a
softer passage, then go back into the rock-out mode with guitar
blazing. The songs (“Liquid”, “Meantime”, “19”, and “Out
Of Your Way”) have a loose mix of hard, psychedelic, blues,
alternative, desert, and regular rock, pulling in whatever piece
sounds good or goes with the flow, and while it's over in just
fifteen minutes, they get their jabs in without wasting time. If
you're not averse to a little poppiness in your rock, give this
Danish quartet a listen and find out how you like their take on
For Fans Of; The Zutons, My Sick Friends, Brimstone Coven, Moon Curse, Black
the second album from the Arizona-based band Powered Wig Machine,
hits its stride from the first step, launching right into a gnarly
desert rock snapper (the one you'll find at the bottom of this
review). Humor and riffage combine in a pleasing ratio throughout
the album, though the big-sky riffs and sizzling guitar are
definitely the more prominent part. The vocals have a good edge of
roughness, fitting in alongside the steady and reliable drums, the
massive bass foundations, and the wind-blown sound of the guitar's
to the album, you could easily think that they're tearing along
without a care; that's when desert rock can reach some of its best
moments, after all. But listen just a little more carefully, and it
becomes evident just how much care the band put into getting just the
right balance of desert rock elements, not letting themselves get
bogged down by too much repetition, not sounding too light on the
bass or over-saturated on the treble end, and investing enough of
themselves in the project to give it a sense of their personality.
Much respect to these hard workers, who recently wrapped up a tour of
the south-west States in support of the album, and here's hoping they
put out a few singles or an EP to go with Supa-Collider
and tide us over until their next album emerges from the craggy sands.
Fans Of; Brimstone Coven, Kyuss, Iron Man, Weedeater, Elder
From Scotland, Red Sands is a Folk/Psychedelic Rock act, with a healthy dose or two of Prog thrown in for good measure. They released their self titled LP at the end of last year on Electone Records, and upon the first full listen you can clearly hear the influences of classic groups such as Pink Floyd and the like. This is probably why I find Red Sands to be more than just tolerable, even those this blend of music is, admittedly, a little out of my comfort zone. This group makes it work with just the right amount of catchiness and 60's sensibility to create a piece of music that seems like it'd be right at home in a California record store circa 1968, and probably would of sold pretty well back in the day too. The first song I caught myself hitting repeat on was "Too Short a Season", with a great opening riff, it switches up after just a few seconds when it's joined by an acoustic guitar and a kind of soft, "jazzy" sort of drum line. The vocals are clean with a very mellow type of delivery that reminds me a bit of The Mamas and The Papas. Just past the half way point the song switches up some and gains some steam, with the electric guitar coming back front and center stage. All in all, it's a group of extremely talented musicians that play really well written music, something that can respected by anyone, regardless of musical preferences. And with the way more and more musical preferences are leaning towards this type of music, I expect this band to garner quite the following after a while. To see more about the band head over here and check out their vinyl release while you're there.
For Fans Of; Dead Meadow, Pink Floyd, The Wicked Whispers
Agusa's debut album is not one to shy
away from lengthy songs, achieving 45 minutes of music over the
course of just five songs. As you might guess, they pack quite a bit
of content into each of those tracks; this is a Swedish prog rock
band, after all. And they more than live up to what you might expect
out of Swedish prog, channeling the 1970s down through the ages and
their instruments to create something that hums with its own vitality
even as it walks the same paths as numerous predecessors.
The melodies and rhythms are complex,
noodling along with counter-point timing and jamming out
complementary keys under break-neck drum-fills, and while the vocals
are an infrequent occurrence, when they do slide in, it's done with
ideal timing and harmony. Though it's the group's first album, the
members have plenty of experience, having put time in with Kama Loka,
Hoofoot, and Sveriges Kommuner & Landsting. That experience
serves them well, as the song-writing is spectacularly ambitious,
never sitting still or losing momentum as it flies from section to
For Fans Of; Änglagård,
Hot Cognition, Osibisa, Indukti, Jade Warrior
On their third album, Destrage deliver
a frenzied form of hard rock, drawing from power metal and technical
metal to spice things up. If that sounds like something to which
you'd be receptive, hang on, because they also throw in some
electronic, sometimes-drum'n'bass elements into the mix a few times
when they need just a little more kick. You can hardly say they're
afraid of high tempos, as some of the backing tracks occasionally
sound as though the loop was sped up for playback; they also like to
break into sudden slow bridges for contrast, before launching just as
suddenly back into high speed.
While power metal is not a usual part
of my musical intake, I have to hand it to the band for being
enthusiastic and creative with the material. Instead of the
painfully repetitive arpeggiation of Dragonforce, or the
artery-killing lyrical cheesiness of groups like Manowar, they blitz
through so many techniques over the course of the record that it's
practically hemorrhaging energy from every track. If high-energy,
high-tempo material is what you're craving, there's no doubt that
Destrage can scratch that itch; if you prefer things slow and low, you'll want to look elsewhere.
For Fans Of; Artension, AFI, Twilightning, Symphony X, Dream Theater