Saturday, January 31, 2015

Black Feather Storm...

The Raven King - Red (2014)

Coming in at just under half an hour of material, this debut EP from Spain's new outfit The Raven King fuses doom metal with blackened vocals, working in a few other elements while they're at it.  The songs are involved and complex, with all but one breaking eight minutes in duration, and the length of the songs allows them to go in some interesting directions, with finely-polished bridges and permutations of the melodies.  Some sound effects worked in as atmospheric additives help enhance the sense of setting established by each track, while the links from one to the next help tie everything together in a very satisfactory way. Even with those links, the band succeeds in crafting a distinct feel for each of the tracks, so that despite the notable similarities, there's a pleasing amount of variation contained in the EP.
Though it might take a little time to warm up to the vocals, they too are incorporated with care for the song at large, and the growling of the voice meshes well with those from the guitar and bass, creating solid waves of grim doom and monolithic-sounding bass reverb.  By the time The Raven King reaches the end (with "The World In His Eyes"), they've done enough to establish themselves as a force with which to be reckoned, as well as being very talented musicians.  It's quite the first release, so if you've been left wanting for serious doom that's fully capable of employing experimentalism to further their sound, here's something to satisfy your needs.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Disenchanter, Abstracter, Lake Of Blood, Agalloch, Stoneburner


Toasted For Pleasure...

Twingiant - Devil Down (2015)

Arriving with their second full-length album, this crew of heavy rockers from Arizona have packaged half an hour of slow, deep grooves, lightly sand-blasted and heavy with the bass.  Starting off with the rolling rock of "Old Hag", the band immediately calls up an atmosphere of fuzzy-minded late-night parties thrown in quarries or similarly craggy landscapes, heated by a pit of fire.  Twingiant show such a firm handle on their ability to work a riff that it's tempting to compare them to the heavy rock legends of the '70s, but there's distinctly modern touches to it, provided most noticeably in the deep growling yell of the vocalist.  The pronounced edge of the guitar meshes with the fuzzy warmth of the bass in a very tasty fashion, playing up both mean and mellow sides to the music without compromising either, and the drummer adapts with admirable ease to everything thrown at him by their wandering minds.
The band's done a great job in packing the heat of Arizona in autumn into this new album, and I fully expect to see this popping up on Top 20 lists once we hit the end of 2015.  It's one of those albums that just gets better and better with repeated plays, until you can bob your head away to the rhythms and grooves without missing a beat, all the way through to the big finish of the title track.  The album will drop for purchase on February 7th, so set aside some cash to pick up a copy, play it for yourself, and feel the warmth melt away those winter blues.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Celophys, Attalla, Major Kong, Aleph Null, Sleep


Friday, January 30, 2015

Check The Math...


Here with their debut EP is the new Paris-based trio of HARPS, a band which is so far specializing in rock with some post-metal elements.  The four tracks on this EP kick off with "Back to the Ground", which has some strong work on the instruments, particularly the drums, though the vocals seem too glam to fit with the rest of the song.  The second track, "Everyone's Halloween", focuses more on the instrumental side of things, though again, the vocals feel disingenuously slick when put against the grumbling bass and rolling guitar.  "L'éclat" shifts to a slower mode for the instruments and a gruffer style for the vocals, hitting the sweetest balance between the two sides to be found on the EP.  Lastly, there's "Warriors", by far the longest track here, with 7+ minutes of carefully-developed rhythms and layers.
The EP features some careful production, as with the sleek cross-fading from track to track, but to my ears, things are a little too controlled, and the band would do well to let the music breathe with less cagey arrangements.  That may be at odds with the math rock/post-metal pieces they seem to be working to incorporate, but as it is, it feels as though the music is being denied some exciting possibilities.  With more wild abandon and less crooning, HARPS could put their technical prowess to some lively ends.  It remains to be seen how they choose to develop their sound (maybe they'll even include some harps someday), but the potential is certainly there.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Destrage, Genesis Climber, John Gallow, Toska, Cutty's Gym


Scuttle Into Light...

Lizzard - Majestic (2014)

Fusing alternative and heavy rock with a light salting of metalcore, Lizzard's latest album since their start in 2008 lives up to the name they've given it, with a richness to the production, arrangement, and performance that does the band proud.  Virtually every instrument gets tweaked with effects at one point or another, and the band's willingness to experiment with every detail allows them to dig into some distinctive and uncommon corners of musical melding.  It does sometimes feel as though the cleanliness of the vocals could have used some more grit, but even so, the band delivers a strong performance.
Highlighting the melodies forms a big focus of the songs, and even when they're lathered up with additional effects, the band's knack for crafting smooth-flowing lines and progressions, then twisting them into something new, comes through with more than enough clarity of sound and expression to make their impulses understood.  The trimming away of excess reverb and over-filled passages keeps Lizzard free of too much ambiguity, but the number of unpredictable turns in their songs help balance out that lightness.  Whether upbeat (as with "Circles" or "Reminder") or edging into more down-cast territory ("The Roots Within (Majestic)", our pick for streaming), Lizzard keep their heads above water, moving persistently through the tricky clusters and heart-felt verve of their music.  It's a very respectable effort, and a well-realized release from a band that's had time to figure out what they want to accomplish.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Between The Buried And Me, Tool, Queens of the Stone Age, Muse, Incubus


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Castigate The Species...

Buitre Humano - Buitre Humano E.P (2014)

On their 5-track debut EP, this Spanish outfit provides some harder-than-usual groove rock, with blast-beats, rough vocals, and saw-tooth guitar giving things a manic edge.  The energy rarely drops, and the band's ability to maintain that level of aggression speaks well for things to come.  For now, though, they've got material which they can proudly perform at live gigs (though it raises my hair to imagine how beat the band is after one of their shows) and which effectively provides listeners with a sense of the band's personality and skill with high-speed, high-density riffage.  While my personal tastes don't have much warmth towards the death metal vocals employed here, I have to admit that it fits well with the music, leaving no room for mistakes regarding the band's essential anger.
Over the five tracks, Buitre Humano shred, thrash, stomp, and scream, going wild with their instruments, but also throwing themselves into fits of technical excitement.  It's a release that's hard not to respect for its vibrancy, and while there's a lot of death metal influence shaping the songs, they're carried off with more groove and warmth by the players than I usually expect of that style.  If you're not opposed to some death-growls and head-banging, give this band a chance, and stay tuned for further developments.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Goatwhore, Pig Destroyer, Gojira, Iron Tongue, Sepultura


Bleeding Black Fuel...

SUPERTANKER - songs from the ashes (2014)

Following up on their "In Fall We Trust" advance single, this group from Paris have come out swinging with their first full album, which makes use of gritty production, a variety of vocal stylings, and some unabashed noodle-shredding on guitar to assemble 13 tracks of groove-loving grungy stoner rock with a blend of thrash.  On the lower end of the register, the drums and bass combine to form some rocket fuel propelling the songs along, so that while the group doesn't leave the usual stoner rock tempos too far behind, they do push things clearly towards harder territory.
Fitting with that lean 'n' mean rockiness, most of the songs (as you might expect of a thirteen-track album) don't go on too long, though Supertanker do include a few bigger cuts that let them flex their muscles with more groove indulgence and riff-rattling bridges.  Interludes like "Eternity" and "Used" provide some good flavor contrast to the angrier times, giving listeners some breathing room before the band launches back into their thrashy blitzing, while some Alice In Chains-like doom grunge comes through in "Cold" and other parts.  Around the midway mark is "Inside", which really charges up the speed (particularly with the drums), giving a good jolt of momentum to carry listeners through the rest to the last (and longest) song on the album, the forlorn but incendiary "I Can't Live A Second Life".
As the band's debut album, it's nice and strong, well-rounded without losing its edge or focus, with enough experimentation in finding out what they can make of hard grunge to proudly join the ranks of that underheard but burgeoning crowd these days.  It's always fun trying to anticipate what will emerge next from the French metal scene, and Supertanker are another quality act to leave you surprised but rocking.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Buitre Humano, Tsar Bomba, Black Freighter, Alice In Chains, Pantera


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Dusky Patchwork...


Another one of Denmark's numerous quality stoner rock outfits, GRUSOM have stepped out onto the international scene with their new demo, featuring three tracks with fittingly macabre flavors.  The first of these tracks is "Evil", a bluesy gothic crooner which builds to a slow burn of keyboards and guitar over slow-thumping drums as vocalist Nicolaj Hoffmann Jul pushes through the gloom.  After that, it's on into "Gruesome", which holds onto the blues and doom, but ramps up the energy of the instruments a bit, pulling the guitar to new spidery heights, raising the keyboard to match, trading off between the two, then drawing them together for a big crash of chords before sinking back into slower sadness.  For the end comes "Reaper", which uses a surprisingly bouncy main riff (lightened by the keyboards again) to pull things to a close with lyrics telling of rising from flames.
For a demo, it's nice and compact, it shows off the band's skills, and offers a taste of things to come while being a toothsome chunk in its own right.  For fans of doom blues, it'll be well worth keeping an ear to the ground for more developments from GRUSOM, as they seem to have lit a fire beneath their own feet.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Danzig, TK Bollinger & That Sinking Feeling, Dax Riggs, Groggy, Jak Locke


Falling Faster and Faster...

Sedated Angel - Beautyfall (2014)

On their third album, Danish rock outfit Sedated Angel have pulled together some heavy rock with a decent amount of flavor straight out of late-'90s desert rock, blending it with modern style for a punchy, sunburned stretch of gritty tunefulness.  Bristling with sharp guitar-work, buoyed by strong and confident bass, and knocked out of the park by the slamming drums, the music has a tendency to speed through its run like a dragster with nitro activated, leaving a smoking black trail in its wake.  Despite that sense of speed, they somehow keep the friendlier, more mellow elements of summer stoner rock intact, and you can almost hear the grin on the vocalist's face as he wails out his piece.
There's a number of instant classic tracks to be heard on the album, and picking one out as the streamable highlight was no easy task, especially since the band, for all of its rich desert rock flavor, never really sinks into over-indulgence or exhaustion of a riff.  Instead, they keep things relatively short and sweet, with all of the songs under the six-minute mark, ideal for getting lodged in your head without dragging on so long as to get tangled in memories of other music.  With a recent release on vinyl, Sedated Angel have delivered an album which will surely have the heavy rock community buzzing away for months to come.  Give it a listen today!  Bonus points if you do so while speeding down the road.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Black Rainbows, Crypt Trip, Kyuss, Spiral Shades, Slow Season


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Purveyor of Shadows

Phantomass ~ Phantomass (2014)

Phantomass is an Occult Doom Metal band that formed in Russia just last year, featuring members of Electric Lords, Electric Sunrise, and Crypt Janitor. Imagine Black Sabbath playing at a black mass in Aleister Crowley's basement and you're starting to get an idea of what their brand of Doom Metal is all about. After just a few months of playing together they recorded these six songs over the course of two days to make up their self-titled debut album. You're presented with some dark and heavy grooves, accompanied by more traditionally styled Doom Metal vocals that leads into the occasional guttural scream. Low and slow, the songs drag along like a fresh organ harvest victim during that long crawl across the seedy motel room floor to a telephone. Of the six tracks on their offer to the elder gods of metal, my favorite so far is the opening track "Dagon". Aside from the Lovecraft nod, and sample of a reading from his story of the same name, the song is about as heavy as that old monolith that Dagon darted to. The song's main riff is a thing of ear brutalizing beauty, and drags along until just before the halfway point and then kicks into a fast and loud section. At halfway things coming slow back down only for the song to be launched back into the fast lane again. With the drums going from slow and deliberate death march, to raining rapid fire strikes with each change in the song's direction, this seems to be the prevailing sound through most of the second half of the track. What follows "Dagon" are five more well executed Doom Metal songs that are well deserving of attention, and with the album being available just about everywhere on the internet including iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud, it shouldn't be hard for you to find a copy to hear. Or you can head over to their Bandcamp and kick out a few bucks for one of their high quality downloads.

For Fans Of; Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Electric Wizard

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Strong Stuff

Gorilla Pulp ~ Hell In a Can EP (2014)

I'll admit, Stoner Rock isn't even in the top ten things that comes to mind when I think of Italy, but after hearing some of the talent that comes out of there, maybe it should be. Gorilla Pulp is just some of the latest talent to make itself known, with the release of their debut EP "Hell In a Can" on Mother Fuzzer Records. It's four tracks (including the intro) of head banging, Heavy Stoner Rock in the image of Kyuss and Motorhead's stoned bastard. The closer "Witchcraft" is probably my favorite track on the EP, which doesn't surprise me as it's also probably the most "Sabbath-y". Opening with a dark and fuzzy riff, it only takes a few moments for the drums to chime in and start their deep rumbling stomp, that's what really gets the ball rolling. After the band gets behind it, the song launches into a sonic tirade with lots of howling guitar work before switching to that crunchy riff and the vocals make their first appearance, this time in a doom-ier styling than the "Lemmy with a bullhorn" sound that you hear in parts of the other songs. This song consists largely of instrumental jamming though, and with a jam this good, you don't need everything over lapped with vocals, sometimes just letting the track ride is the best thing you can do. If any of this sounds appealing, head over to Mother Fuzzer's Bandcamp page and listen to the whole thing for yourself, then pick up one of those slick looking CDs with the even cooler poster.

 For Fans Of; Monster Magnet, Orange Goblin, Red Fang

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sick City Sewage...

Legalize Crime - Blues of the Fallen World EP (2014)

Taking their name from an EP by the EyeHateGod side-project of Outlaw Order, this Polish quartet takes their first publically-available steps into music with plenty of personality.  Song names like "50 Bags Of Cocaine" (which features a great opening sample, one at which I'd expect most of our movie-savvy readers to grin when heard) and "Doomed City" stay true to their most obvious influences, with music to match.  The low-tuned sludge poured out of their bass is cut with percussion, while the guitar (coming in just a bit higher than the bass' rich reverb) and throat-tearing vocals inject enough virulent violence to push the music up into an active state of contagion.
Most of the riffs sound as though they could have been pulled from a stained and sticky box of NOLA sludge albums, a few go more Sabbath-flavored, but the four tracks maintain a respectable level of aggression and consistent mad groove that deserves props for how well they've acquitted themselves on their first release.  Legalize Crime also deserve some recognition for just how well they've nailed that delta sludge sound despite being all the way over in Poland, though they do put enough of their own spin on it to avoid coming off as derivative.  They even throw in a quick 'n' dirty tape demo track at the end (with another time-honored sample incorporated), leaving the listener with an appropriately grimy and uneasy aftertaste.  Keep an ear out for more to come from this band, and expect to hear their name come up more and more over the next few months.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    EyeHateGod, Zeppheroin, Grey Widow, Meth Drinker, Gilla Bruja


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Unholy Heat Transformation...

Hypnochron - Herbs for the Alter (2014)

Over the years, Chicago has managed to turn out a fair number of excellent groups in the doom metal vein, and one of the latest has emerged in the form of Hypnochron, who specialize in sludgy stoner doom, omitting vocals in favor of working healthy helping of great samples into the grit.  From the opening growls of the album's first track, "Tree", Hypnochron crank out dirty grooves, throwing themselves into the riffs and riding them ragged, then jumping into the next fuzzy burst.  While they're certainly no slouches at bringing the doom sound to life, the tracks are surprisingly short for the style, with the majority falling under the five-minute mark.  That's somewhat made up for by the second-to-last track, "Rise From Below", which goes for a long haul before dropping listeners off into "Fall of the Sun" for a closer.  At the same time, it's refreshing to have a doom metal band bash out what they want and not try to run out the clock by retreading the same ground to double a song's length.
Before that end comes, Hypnochron have ripped through plenty of chords and attitude, playing with different ideas for each track while staying true to the sleazy horror vibes and graveyard jam flavor.  As a debut, it's pretty great, with the band establishing their style clearly while leaving themselves some room to develop in new directions, while the samples add a fun flavor to their deviant debauchery.  If you're a fan of stoner doom metal, it's certainly worth picking up a copy and keeping an ear out for further developments from this band.
Residents of Chicago and nearby areas should prepare themselves for one of the group's live performances, which will be taking place in February; check their BandCamp and/or Facebook pages for more info.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Bitchcraft, Toke, Dopelord, Major Kong, Wolf Blood


Friday, January 23, 2015

Inhaling The Sun...

Mondo Drag - Mondo Drag (2015)

Blazing their way out of the wind-swept hills of California, Mondo Drag have returned with their third album, of which they have a high enough opinion to give it self-titled status.  That confidence is well-placed, as the group delivers a time-tunneling blend of blues and heavy psychedelic rock, unearthing juicy bedrock riffs and cutting loose with some inspired free-roaming action on guitar and keyboards.  The vocals are used just enough, and in just the right places, to give the desert-set storm of vibrant grooves a human center, keeping the band rooted to the earth through their wide-eyed trips in a way that really plays well to their rich and bluesy flavor.
Of course, every psychedelic band worth its salt can come up with some evocative song titles, and Mondo Drag succeed here as well, with names like "Shifting Sands", "Pillars of the Sky", and "Crystal Visions Open Eyes" situating and enhancing the powerful vibes provided by the music.  All the different parts, from the album's cover art to the smallest shifts in melody, tie together in a more than satisfactory fashion, and it's a lot of fun to be swept away by Mondo Drag's awesome groove capabilities.  Get yourself a copy on CD or vinyl (recently released through Kozmik Artifactz), and have yourself a good time getting lost in the depths of this excellent desert rock.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Led Zeppelin, Quatrain, Deep Purple, The Lords of Beacon House, Iron Butterfly


Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Shotgun Wedding

Gunslinger's Bride ~ Windwitch EP (2014)

From Croatia's gritty underground Gunslinger's Bride and their, Southern groove infected, Stoner Rock sound have stormed on the scene. Their debut EP "Windwitch" is short, only five songs, but it packs a devastating punch. With the dirt road vocals being sung and growled out at different times, some songs have a down right catchy vocal melody behind them. Backing up the snarling frontman, the guitar lays down everything from fingertip brutalizing solos to swinging, heavy Stoner Rock riffs, and bluesy licks that remind you of Dixieland. The bass's rounded tone still cuts through the mix, blasting along chunky riffs in all of its low end glory. The drums keep time like the precision ticking of an expensive watch, but hammering out explosive rhythms. While every one of the the songs will have you bobbing your head and singing along to the best of your ability, I particularly gravitated to the fourth track, "Foe". It kicks off in high gear and slamming forward, with a thick and slightly "southern-ized" riff that has more flavor added with a rumbling bass line that strays from the guitar line and carves its own path at times, but always coming back to the mother groove. The singer tries to steal the spotlight with rough, attacking vocals that flow together into their own rhythm on top of everything else, and may of succeeded, you'll have to judge for yourself. With the guys releasing these five tracks of well executed Stoner Rock at the tail end of the last year, it's understandable if you've missed them before now, but you don't have to any longer. Head over to their bandcamp and grab yourself a "name your price" copy.

For Fans Of; Orange Goblin, Planet of Zeus, Thieving Coyote

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Who Grows There?

Count Absurdo - Night of the Living Soil EP (2014)

Count Absurdo are a new trio hailing from Finland, and on their debut EP, they bring three tracks of heavy doom rock to life with flair and a good jolt of juice.  One of the things setting them apart from similar acts is their willingness to resurrect the falsetto shriek from the '80s, throwing it out over the blaring of the guitar and bass as just another piece of their tooth-gnashing ensemble (though it's most heavily-used in the opening track, "Welcome to the Mansion").  Track two, "Countess Absurdo", is a relatively restrained trek through big bass riffs and punchy drums, though the guitarist gets to go wild in a shredding exit that covers a good stretch of the song.  Last of all, "From Dusk Till Doom" extends its duration across 9+ minutes of exploring a slow-moving doom riff, spicing it up with flourishes and making regular use of the title as a chanted chorus before the track mutates into a psychedelic groove.
The three songs make for a very respectable introduction for the band, showing off a variety of skills, a playfulness with the conventions of a genre that can easily take itself too seriously, and some really ripping skills on their instruments.  Whether or not they retain the high-pitched vocal attacks, this is a band certainly worth your time to check out now, before they land a few festival gigs and explode in popularity.  They've got the talent, energy, and enthusiasm to make it work, so it's up to you to give them an ear.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    DoomLord, Saint Vitus, Below, Genocide (Japan), Pilgrim


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Steadied By Force...


This doom trio has finally put forth their debut LP, and as they make their way from its start to the finish, they leave an excellent impression.  Starting off with the slow bass-tones of "Die With The Sun", Nixa warms the audience up with some light stuff before quickly ramping up the action.  They seem to have taken inspiration from a wide variety of groups from the last decade, alternating between and combining flat-out riffs, driving melodies, warm tone adjustment for the guitar, moderate feedback, and beat-down drum rhythms in ways that make it difficult to evaluate them against other bands.  They've hit that sweet spot of sounding both familiar and new, and they hold on to that difficult achievement for much of the album.
The band's balancing act also extends to the vocal aspect, which brings together rough and comparatively clean deliveries, though both styles get their own extended solo stretches.  Again, it's not really a new way of handling that part of the music, but thanks to the care they take in working it into the rest of the song, it feels fresher (and heavier) than most of the doomcore or blackened doom bands I've heard that have tried similar performances.  On top of that, they have a good sense of when to strip things down to just the instruments, and as a result, there's some really effective crashes of pounding commotion to off-set the lighter sections.
For a group with just one EP under their belt before their first album, it's thoroughly impressive work.  They've kept things trim and fit, though with enough time devoted to experimentation to keep it from feeling anything like routine.  I'm already half-tempted to go back and edit it into my Top 20 for 2014 list, and I'm sure further listening will only make it grow on me more.  Be sure to give this one a go, and stay warmed-up for the follow-up album, on which the band is already working.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Elder, Attalla, The Scimitar, Hesperian Death Horse, Asilo


Monday, January 19, 2015

Blast To The Face...

Nihilo - Dum Spiro Spero (2014)

Giving death metal a light coat of doom to its bass and slower guitar sections, Nihilo's latest album is an aggressive but well-crafted offering from the Swiss quintet, with an effective degree of viciousness heating their barrage of instruments, throaty vocals, and a number of well-used audio samples.  As the group kicks into the start of their second decade together, they have a clear grip on their material, style, and approach, turning out a well-rounded album with hardly any fat or over-indulgence left on the jagged bones of the songs.  The songs get in, run over some bridges, spend enough time playing with the riffs to satisfy, then wrap things up in one way or another.  That wrap-up might come in the form of a sudden instrumental chop, one of the feverish samples, or a smooth grind out of the last riff, but no matter how Nihilo goes about capping their songs, it provides a snappy cap to their latest rampage.
Of special note is the title track, which closes out the album with 20+ minutes of grimy-sounding (in a good way) progressive changes with a host of surprises in store.  The album is due out on vinyl at the end of the month, so if you've got a taste for highly-satisfactory death doom (or is it doom death?), be sure to pick yourself up a copy from Wooaaargh Records.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Dream Death, High On Fire, Yellowgoat, Coffins, Sarcofago


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Head To Drumhead...

Holly Hunt / Slomatics - Bill Ward / Ulysses, My Father (2014)

With one song apiece on this split 7", Slomatics and Holly Hunt put each other to the test in a collision between Ireland and the US.  On the A-side, Holly Hunt provide an ode to Bill Ward, letting thunderous drums and hair-raising bass deliver their modern Sabbath worship in the form of a mighty central riff.  It's pulled off with plenty of style, getting almost violent with how forcefully they pound away at the music; a hell of a song.
Slomatics' B-side, "Ulysses, My Father", heads for similar territory, plowing deep grooves with the power of their bass and drums, but with vocals arising this time around.  Though there's an echoing distance to the words, they're sung strongly enough to not get sucked under by the swampy morass of the music, which seethes with power beneath the stoner-edged attitude.  Two damn fine tracks, and well worth picking up the 7" to enjoy them for yourself.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Conan, Elder, Funeral Horse, Pendejo, Manthrass


Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Lords Are Back...

DoomLord - Black Testament (2014)

DoomLord's first full album builds from the foundation established on their split with King Heavy, expanding the sound of the band while remaining true to their love of traditional doom metal.  As part of their observance of those fundamental rituals, the songs are sizable chunks of darkened mystery, with only a couple of tracks falling below the 8-minute mark, while their titles run along the lines of "Faceless God", "Animam Possessionem" (a tribute to Evil Dead), and "Evil Rises Again".  There's also a cover of a Black Sabbath track at the end, just in case they didn't already have you well-convinced.
The album is dedicated to the group's original guitarist, Candido Olivera Novoa, who has since passed on, and for a lover of this style of music, it's quite the tribute.  All of the songs feature strong arrangement and fun, inventive riffs, and while the lyrics can be a little overwrought, that's perfectly in line with the music from which they draw their audible influences.  The energy animating the skeletal remains and dark sorcerers of DoomLord's creations is carried off with such enthusiasm that it's hard not to be won over, whether they're diving into a cranked-up instrumental rip or balefully intoning the doom that is certain to come.  There's a great balance of theatricality with flat-out rocking, and while they take the time to make some very nice atmospheric touches, they also know when to cut loose and go wild.  All in all, a very strong debut with lots of promise for the band's future, and plenty of tuneful doom to fill your ears.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Below, Candlemass, Saint Vitus, Genocide (Japan), Pilgrim


Friday, January 16, 2015

Welcome to the Dark Side of the All Black Rainbow Moon...

Les Lekin - All Black Rainbow Moon (2014)

The opening track, simply titled “Intro”, starts your listening journey off like a slow paced, post-apocalyptic walk across a grave-laden, scorched, industrial Earth while suffering from a bad psychosis trip, weighted down with military gear and heavy-duty weaponry.  The 6-track soundtrack of All Black Rainbow Moon is all spacey, all doomy, all atmosphere, and no vocals to get in the way.  The three piece from Salzburg, Austria, fools you into thinking there are several more instruments contributing to this groovy eulogy.  One track bleeds into the next and creates a unified collection of music that can throw you into a state of hypnotic relaxation if you let it.
The recording gives you the sense that the band wanted to capture the sound of the room.  There is a little to be desired here but it works with the style and genre.  Imagine the members of Weedeater getting into a slap-fight over dope with the ’73 Hawkwind line-up in a garage studio somewhere.  The drum sound is not powerful or dominant but instead distant and eased into the background, while the bass is not booming or heavy but prevalent, steady, and grim.  The guitar keeps the band sounding old school heavy and at times psychedelic and trippy.
The 10-minute track “All Black” is a favorite track that somehow doesn’t feel all that long.  The song conveys a musical story bringing you from lowly lows to rushing highs strewn with dynamic, effect-heavy guitar leads.  Soundscapes from Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile come to mind.  The sense of impending disaster is always on the cusp of your mind as you descend into the song.  Some of the tracks such as “Useless” and “Loom” take a while to build and can leave you wondering if they ever will get somewhere.  At around 2 to 3 minutes in, they gain a pulse, the crew of the space ship realizes that these are their final minutes before burning up in the atmosphere, and a rush of glee and panic ensues.
This is the album to pick up if you’re in the mood for kicking back with the headphones on, drinking a few, or smoking a bowl.  You can relax to it but it’s heavy and edgy enough that your purist “metal” friends won’t put you down for it.  Pick it up!
~ Brian O.

For Fans Of;    Red Sparowes, Toundra, WeedEater, Bongzilla, Comacozer 

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fight Like A Man

Die Like Gentlemen - Five Easy Lies (2015)

Die Like Gentlemen's signature sound, is that you can't easily describe their signature sound, just put it somewhere in the neighborhood of "Brutal Progressive Sludge Rock" for argument's sake. You're left slightly scratching your head after the first listen, not entirely sure what you just listened to, but damn sure that it was heavy, and that you have to push play again so you can figure it out. While I suppose experiences may vary, but anytime you're immediately compelled to press play again after listening for the first time, that's a good one in my book. Their second and latest release "Five Easy Lies" came out earlier this month, and it's excellent follow up to 2013's "Romantic Delusions of Hell", no sophomore slump for these guys. Forever treading the line between rock and metal in their music, you have gruff, sometimes guttural vocal performances on top of roaring guitar riffs that all of the stock footage of nuclear mushroom clouds on YouTube wouldn't do justice. The rhythm section of the group is tight, and loud, with lots of low end bass guitar rumble, and machine gun snare drum bursts. The whole drumming performance really stands out on this record, always seeming to push the urgency of the track in question. The top song from "Five Easy Lies" for me was probably "Animals of Romance". Really showing off their Progressive chops on this one, it opens with a Stoner-esque riff, but it soon delves into the depths of darkness, becoming gnarled and deadly. The vocals take a bold and dynamic turn on this one, saving some of the raw, guttural stuff in exchange for even larger, dynamic, Doom Metal styled singing that boarders on Grunge sometimes, as does the whole track at points over the almost eight and a half minute duration. Running the slalom of Sludge, Doom and Grunge all the way down the track, with lots of time and room to explore. Towards the end of the song, the band moves back toward that devastating Sludge Metal sound, but the vocals never make that move and stay the course, really making the instruments behind it stand out as a result. But of course, it couldn't just be over, that wouldn't do for an ending to a song this epic in proportions. One last transition to a slower, more mellow section rounds everything out nicely for the last minute or so. For the best way to experience Die Like Gentlemen though, go to their bandcamp and give it a listen. It'll be some of the most creative Sludge Metal you'll hear all year.

For Fans Of; Kyuss, Black Sabbath, Kylesa, Torche, Crowbar

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Boogie Through The Dark...

Five Mile Smile - Boogaloo Blues (2014)

Back after a hiatus which began in 2003, Ireland's Five Mile Smile are already hard at work on songs to re-establish their sound.  One of those tracks is "Boogaloo Blues", a hard-edged blues rock song with ample humor and crunchy chords.  The band keeps their heads down, focused on their work, though the vocalist gets to belt out some attitude of his own over the gritty low-down.  Though it's only one track, it does a solid job of laying out their path from here on out, while leaving listeners hungry for more of their dirty-but-charming crassness.  Keep an ear out for more to come, and be sure your spine is limber enough to handle all the shaking that will ensue.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    The Getaway People, The GTVs, Jak Locke, RHINO, Manthrass


Monday, January 12, 2015

Ain't Dead Yet

Killer Boogie ~ Detroit (2015)

 If you really dig the raw, explosive sound that the Garage and Heavy Rock bands of the 70's trafficked in, and the spaced out adventures from that classic Psychedelic Rock sound, then you've successfully found a new favorite band. Don't worry, you can thank me later. One thing the guys in Killer Boogie do, and do well, is ride the wave of those gritty, infectious riffs all the way in with bruising drum lines and rolling bass licks. And when they're not laying down the law like that, which isn't very often, you're usually presented with some sort of sound that seems cosmic in origin. Like the intro to the aptly titled "Cosmic Eyes", just before it kicks into a crunchy mid-tempo riff and accompanied by salvo of drum beats, it only last so long before things slow down however. With a harmonic vocal section the track takes on a whole new quality, when it's accompanied by the always direct and powerful vocal delivery. But this track can only stay in one place so long, and it doesn't take long for a new identity to emerge in the form of a mellow, and even more psychedelic song. This lasts well into the second half of the almost nine minute duration until it starts building back up, only to be stopped by a sudden influx of even harsher psychedelic noises, but they don't last long and the track sort of fades away afterwards, but by no means the album. You still have four more jams on the album to keep you company, and they all go straight back to the balls out, carefree sort of rock and roll that they do so well. The album is already up for sale, so you may still have a chance to score one of the colored copies for your vinyl collection. It'll also be available digitally and on CD at the same place you order the vinyl, head on over to Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

For Fans Of; MC5, Baby Woodrose, Radio Moscow

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Hot And Crispy...

Craneón - Hacia el Sol (2014)

The debut album from Craneón rolls smoothly out with fluid harmonies and detailed production-work clearing the way for their heart-felt grooves and thundering presence.  Opening with the title track, the band quickly demonstrates their facility in blending together a wide variety of styles and influences, raising up a shimmering concoction of solar-fueled rock with a disregard for rules.  That style persists, though it goes through several changes, on through the likes of "Mr. Basstone" (I have to admit, I was expecting a little Guns 'n' Roses flourish of some sort), the slow sunset blistering of "Cuervos", the rough head-banger of "Avanza", and more, all the way until "Emigra" provides an exit.
The group has a truly impressive range, and while fuzzy hard rock anchors most of the album, they ride it out on such successfully experimental jaunts into various off-shoots that I never felt as though they were repeating themselves.  There's a pleasing warmth to the music, fitting with the title, and the musicians all play with such confidence and mutual enrichment that it's hard to believe this is their first release together.  A damn fine start to this band's career, and (assuming you like most of what we share with you here) one certainly worth your time to hear.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Hijo de la Tormenta, Manthrass, Pendejo, Monolith, Demonauta


Friday, January 09, 2015

Rollin' Down The Line...

Doom Division - Train Rolls On (2014)

Doom Division’s first non-demo release brings to mind an image of a gang of Mad Max-style greasers who converted an auto shop into a jam room somewhere in the American South, soaked their guitar pickups in swamp water, and paid homage at the unholy altar of all that is doom and sludge.  It falls within the realm of “Southern Doom”, although their home town of Stuttgart, Germany, is nowhere close to the Southern U.S..  It doesn’t matter though as they seem to be influenced enough by the sound to get it mostly right.
The lyrical content definitely conveys a certain theme and the album title sums it up nicely.  Train Rolls On contains songs about drifting, gambling, hot rods, trains, drinkin’, prisons, and everything else David Allen Coe said would make the perfect country and western song.  The recording itself is decent, capturing the slow, low-tuned, groovy, thick sound reminiscent of bands who first slunk out of the sludge and grime of the New Orleans metal scene.  The drums punch and the guitars are surprisingly clean with minimal slop.  The vocals are an almost boring monotone scream that almost reminds you of Kirk Windstein of Crowbar, sometimes dipping into the range of guttural death metal.  It seems to work with the style though.
At times the songs run together in one big monotonous cavalcade of sound.  The tracks run long at 5 to 8 minutes and in truth aren’t quite dynamic enough to garner that length.  Track 5 does provide a twangy, country and blues, Robert Johnson-inspired instrumental break in “The Ballad of Blind Jeff Dupree”.  “Death Letter” is another instrumental track amped up with atmosphere that provides a nice wave in the overall flat album structure.  A stand-out track is “Jesus Chrysler” with a slick, slimy riff and anthem-style scream declaring “Roll! On! Jesus Chrysler!”.  It grooves and has an oddly American feel… played by Germans.
Overall the album is a solid release if you’re a fan of the genre.  It has some nice riffage and thematic lyrics, a cool band name and a wicked-looking train on the cover.  The band sounds powerful, tight and together, and although listening to the whole collection of songs is tedious, I've heard worse, way worse.
~ Brian O.

For Fans Of;    Crowbar, Kingdom of Sorrow, Soilent Green, Black Sabbath, GoatWhore


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Through Unknown Galaxies...

AXIS/ORBIT - Axis/Orbit EP (2014)

Sounding like a darker version of Bay-area psychedelic rock, the debut EP from NYC's AXIS/ORBIT juices together some fuzz-toned and wild guitar, staunch bass with a smooth touch, vocals and delivery that had me in mind of both the MC5 and Deep Purple, and a drummer with a good head for when to dive in and when to hold back.  The three tracks, "Hazy", "The Owl", and "Riot Canal" make up a release which nicely balances homage to their influences with enough edge in carving out their own territory, hitting a very sweet spot of keeping the listener wrapped up in comfort without knowing what's coming next (at least until they've played it again, and again, and...).
While the three tracks all get in and done with a briefness to keep you wishing for more, they manage to jam enough inventiveness, deep grooves, space-trip solos, and crisp pedal usage into their runs to still achieve an expansive sound to drag listeners in, toss them about in an energy storm, and launch them off into a new musical orbit.  Excellent stuff, with plenty of promise for what AXIS/ORBIT have in store for the world, and an excellent launch-pad into their new album.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Telstar Sound Drone, Moon Curse, Spiral Shades, Aleph Null, Fossil


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Chewed Without Mercy...

TEETH - Unremittance (2014)

In the listening bar today we have TEETH, a new four-piece outfit out of California.  I say new because this big honking slab of a record here that they’ve titled Unremittance has only been out for approximately a month and a half, and the band’s first show is this month in Anaheim, CA, in support of Incantation.  Not bad at all fellas.  The album cover tells me that this will be something pretty damn heavy more than likely so we shall see!  Now for the music…
Within about 30 seconds of pressing play on the first track, To Dream Is To Suffer, you know you’re in for something pretty badass.  These guys immediately start laying it down in the vein of what I can only describe as right up there with Gojira, and it only gets better.  From there you’re taken on a wide-open, very well-written ride of vicious progressions ranging from brutally fast, crushing heavies with dual vocals screaming back and forth and then going to big, opened-up doomy sludge sections.  I like heavy music that lets me breathe with dynamics.  These guys get that and do it very well.  Not to mention there’s a few parts in here where the music subsides and I can totally see a room full of people singing/screaming every word right back to the band.
The stand out track for me would be track 7, “Vers La Famme”.  It starts off with a blistering riff backed up by equally blistering drums and  progresses into a meat-grinder of sorts, mixing every element the band touched on throughout the record.  The second half of the song pummels along into one of those instances that I mentioned with a room full of people screaming in unison.  In the final outro section we’re left to be put down easy with an almost hypnotic, zone-out guitar riff that would be perfect if it just went a little longer.  It’s badass though, nonetheless….
In doing my homework on TEETH prior to writing this review, I noticed that they didn’t really have much info out.  They have a Facebook and Bandcamp page, but not much else.  I reached out to the band and found that they’ve been writing this record for the past two years and after listening a few times, it shows.  I discovered that they had everything recorded and then decided to rework the guitars and rewrite some things until they had the riffs right.  As a full-on believer in the power of the riff myself, I can only congratulate these fellas on a job well done.  Kids, take notice.  If you haven’t heard of TEETH you probably will soon.  Vinyl will be available of this release in the near future too, so keep an eye out for that.
~ Ramsey Damngoode

For Fans Of;    Gojira, Hull, Gorefest, Bloodlet, Coffinworm