From southern France comes Poste 942, a new heavy rock band to get things rolling. Melding sounds of stoner rock, heavy blues rock, and some modern hard rock, it's a interesting mix that you don't hear done this way all of the time. Massive riffs that swell and recede like a flood stricken river, with the rumbling of the bass guitar and drums rolling in like a storm front. With this being their debut effort, you expect the band to still be in the process of finding their sound and unique voice, the normal things you see new bands going through. You don't have any of those sorts of problem it would seem. Sounding like a heavy handed mixture of Clutch and Kyuss, the twangy fuzz riffs start up loud and stay that way. I was really into the second track "Miss You Like the Devil" on the very first play through. Starting off with a scratchy guitar info and some crashes, it doesn't take long before a huge, crunch riff starts cranking up. The song ramps up into a swinging rock song with somewhat of a 70's vibe, with raw and edgy vocals taking center stage. The deep drumming in certain parts of this one almost take on a tribal quality, adding a lot of low end rumble and making the track sound even bigger than it already did. At only five tracks, it may not seem like much on the surface of things, but that old adage of "don't judge a book by its cover" holds true once again. Give it a chance and check it out on bandcamp where you can give it a listen, then make your final verdict. If you're a fan of that classic stoner rock sound, then the infectious riffs all over this one will have you hooked in no time.
For Fans Of; Clutch, Kyuss, Planet of Zeus, Midnight Ghost Train, The Dallaz
The guys in Deep Aeon have returned with bluesy stoner grooves in the form of "Temple of Time", a follow up to their first "Icy Spring Recordings". With six new tracks, the album goes by in a fuzzy, bass thumping haze, and while the band is blasting full steam ahead, you can become so enamored with the music that you lose track of time. What seemed like ten or fifteen minutes was really thirty, and the album is starting over again. The guitars keep things turned up and fuzzed out, with the bass keeping a clean and round tone from start to finish. The drums lay out crisp rhythms that fill in the background perfectly, and lends an amount of depth not all drummers seem to. While most of the tracks have a modern, stoner rock sound that is everything great about heavy rock music, one track really stood out a bit from the others. The third song going in, "Floating", has a catchy blues rock vibe from the very outset, not to say heaviness is put to the wayside, the other elements are just worked around it nicely. Opening up with a slightly twangy riff, it doesn't take long for the clean, bluesy vocals drop in with a little harmonizing going on in the background. Just before the halfway point the fuzz kicks in and starts to wail. This heavy riffing part carries on for a couple minutes, with the vocals losing some of that polish as it went along. The stoner rock prowess still shows through in certain places, but this track shows that the guys are more than one trick ponies, and they can play the genre game just fine. The album isn't out yet, but it's coming out this Saturday (April 4th) so there's still time to get some pre-orders in on this joint venture between H42 Records and Shithead Records to put out Deep Aeon's debut full length.
Released on Halloween of last year, the self-titled debut from this Argentinian band is a stylish blending of psychedelic and stoner rock, putting warm '70s amp tones to work alongside prominent drumming and chill bass grooves. Some prog-like experimentation with overlapping rhythms, along with some very impressive fuzzy freak-outs, serves to bring out the band's character in strength despite the absence of vocals. Three of the band's four members do service on guitar (with two of them doubling up on bass), allowing for some truly intricate interplay and layering, and playing up each other's strengths in interesting ways.
The energy and enthusiasm displayed by Persona on this first release, besides making for one hell of a groove-shaker, points to a promising future for the group. Their way with spinning sleek cool into high-speed rolls of fire had my hair standing on end more than a few times, and their range of styles and moods suggests that they'll have very little trouble keeping things fresh on the releases of the future.
The album has such a fine flow from song to song that when the last song hits its final note, there's almost a sense of whiplash at the sudden absence of Persona's golden tones. Of course, that only encourages listeners to give it another go, so it's a crafty touch from the band, and the album is one that I sincerely hope plenty of people will get to hear. Copies are availabledigitally through BandCamp, so go ahead and load up some of this high-octane heavy rock as soon as you can.
For Fans Of; Manthrass, Earth Drive, The Heavy Company, Mondo Drag, Planes Of Satori
As indicated by the name, this is the first release from the Lords Of Venus, a group out of California with a focus on heavy stoner doom. If that's not enough to pique your interest, let me give you more description of this EP; first of the four tracks is "Illuminate", which lights things up with a murky soundscape before breaking out the metal, keeping it low and slow with dusky atmosphere and a fittingly vulgar attitude. With the last resonant bass chord, it's over, and on into "Passages", which makes use of a more prominent and lively main riff without sacrificing any of the doom.
"Hail" comes in after that, and while it's a song name with some stiff competition in the realm of stoner doom, Lords Of Venus put in a good showing, injecting still more energy into the tar-thick progressions. "Carcosa" starts off the end with a plodding beat and deep-buzzing guitar, ramping up to a more intense deployment of the same style until it burns itself right out of existence.
It's a strong set of songs, and Lords Of Venus have done well by themselves with establishing their style and attitude through the low-cranked headiness. There's already rumblings of more material to be delivered to the masses in the near future, so keep your ears open for further developments from this promising trio of doom priests.
For Fans Of; Electric Wizard, Toke, Sumokem, Attalla, Olde Growth
After about five years of EPs and appearances on splits, the Finnish group of BOAR have finally put together a full-length album (released through Lost Pilgrim Records, who've handled such fine bands as Mudbath, Deuil, and Fange) to bring their unfettered stoner doom power to life in full glory. The first of the six tracks to be found on Veneficae is "Old Grey", which fires up the album with a gurgle and buzz, then a roar of sludgy percussion, vocals, and feedback. After a firm coat of dirt, some traces of recognizable melody emerge, though they're still heavily crushed by the band's unrelenting treatment, and after fading into a drum-carried bridge, the song rattles out, leaving a strong impression to be picked up by "Witch Woman" and carried forward through the rest.
"Witch Woman" blends a little more of the traditional doom metal sound into the crustiness set up by the first song, along with some dark psychedelic elements to keep things unpredictable and wild. There's also some cool loping rhythm worked in over a break of relatively sweet-toned guitar riffing (underlaid with hissing growls), plenty of head-banging stretches, and a quick double-stomp ending before "Sand" erupts to up the head-banging ante. Somehow, despite the howling noise and scratchy edges, "Sand" really hits close to my early Black Sabbath brain-spots; admittedly not for the whole song, but for a pretty substantial chunk, making it more than worthy of a smoky jam-out session.
The title track picks up from there, followed by "Trees" and "Wolf Lord", and if the names don't tip you off to how heavy the band keeps things, you'll just have to pick up your own copy. Sludge, noise, doom, and a healthy amount of experimentation come together with a style both technical and casual, blending them so smoothly into gritty grooves that you'll have to listen over and over again to figure out how they did it, and even then, you'll still be wondering. Veneficae will be released May 1st, though you can go ahead and pre-order through Lost Pilgrims; vinyl will be limited to 500 copies, so don't sleep on this one if you like your metal dirty, noisy, and heavy as Hell.
For Fans Of; Acid Bath, Rorcal, Ulver, Grey Widow, Dopelord
GRIPE are by no means a new band, as the Argentinian group has been putting out releases for roughly a decade, but here on their latest EP, they show that their energy is just as high as ever. Things start off on a high note, with "Elementos de Elevacion", at 7+ minutes, taking the first slot and the honor of longest track to be found on La Revolucion Permanente. A roaring wave of feedback introduces the song, trailing off into an electronic burbling quickly superceded by firm and earthy rock chords and drums, while an interesting phasing or flanging effect on the vocals gives them an otherworldly vibe. There's surprises around every bend of the song's structure, with pit-falls and chittering synths serving as side-notes to the powerful main melody, and the mood is practically boiling with drastic swings.
After that monumental starter, the band has virtually unlimited options for how to proceed, and their choice is to drift right into what could easily be an extension of "Elementos", as "Sublimato" holds onto the heavy end while introducing a free-floating approach to the vocal passages and some thick-packed guitar stompage. "Nana" takes a little break for subdued guitar as the drums lay out their attack plan, then the rest of the band engages for a fantastically crunchy psych groove while the vocalist chants the name of the song.
The EP's title track steps in from there to do duty as an interlude, with its sub-2-minute run-time essentially acting as the eye and edge of the hurricane before spinning into the closer, "Bromuro de Pancuronio". Though it has a slower tempo than the preceding material, "Bromuro" still gets down without restraint, and works as a damn good finale, winding things down but staying energized.
For a band with a decade's worth of experience behind it, GRIPE still sound amazingly inventive and enthusiastic, pushing themselves to try out new combinations and approaches to the fusion of styles informing their music. If you haven't heard of them before now (like myself, I have to admit), then La Revolucion Permanente makes for a great point to jump into this hard-working group's catalog.
For Fans Of; Manthrass, Lucuma, Craneón, Bruto, Persona
While lots of people got in on the band's debut release "The Sandcrawler" back in 2012, they've just made their triumphant return last month with "The Dead-End Host". France's Soundcrawler can be described as the feral love child of Alice In Chains and Dozer, switching from heavy riffing to melodic and expansive guitar work that manage to create a sweeping realm of stoner rock. "The Dead End Host" manages to cram nine of these on to one album, each one offering up a little something different but never lacking in the main areas. Well put together songs lead to well put together albums, and that's exactly what happened here. The songs all go together so well that it's difficult to choose just one for listening, you find yourself constantly starting from track one and listening all the way through. "The Dead-End Host" opens up with the video single "Raiders", and the five and a half minute soundtrack to a pursuit through the post apocalyptic desert. After a slow guitar build up during the intro, it slams into overdrive around the one a half minute mark. Like nailing the accelerator in a sports car, you're forced back into your seat by the sudden blast of fuzz and drums. The vocal performance on this track, like most of the others, is one of the main things to invoke that memory of Alice in Chains. While they do share some musical similarities at times, that vocal resemblance is uncanny at certain points. This track never reaches that same energy as they display in that fuzz blast at the beginning, but that's okay. There's eight more chances, and they absolutely nail every one of them. You can acquaint yourself with their newest album over at their bandcamp, where you can check out their 2012 debut also, if you haven't already and pick up CD copies of it all too.
For Fans Of; Half Gramme of Soma, Truckfighters, Karma To Burn
CULTO's first release (CULTO) came out in 2013, with the tracks "Culto I" and "Culto II" making up its half-hour run of doom-laden, high-feedback drone metal. Now the Italian duo is back again with CULTO II, featuring five minutes less material, but making up for that by building it as a single track ("Culto III", if you were having trouble guessing).
Things start off quiet and subtle, with a single tone rising, drifting, and shifting as it grows in volume and intensity, gradually being joined by additional presences which swell up from beneath the edge of hearing. Around the 5-minute mark, some synth keyboarding slips in with slow and somber steps, joined soon after by a heavier bass reverb, with everything maintaining the anticipation-building restraint as the song continues to climb. A few more minutes, and measured acoustic guitar is combed into the folds of the sonic arrangements, imparting the sinister atmosphere of black metal's more folk-driven interludes, minus the screaming.
Things continue in this vein, with the underlying synths growing more pronounced in their hissing and sine-wave undulations while the guitar provides a steady progression until fading off into a cloud of nebulous feedback and trailing tones, and finally into silence. Though less outwardly metal than CULTO's previous release, the doom is still palpable, and the music makes for quite the experience when focused on in a darkened room. Whether used as a palette cleanser or in preparation for more visceral music, "Culto III" is an interesting piece which benefits from the contrast it provides in any comparison. Something best suited for cold and dark nights.
For Fans Of; Sunn O))), Sutekh Hexen, Ulver, Bhutan, Bill Laswell
These Italian doomsters have a long, glorious history of some great albums in the realm of doom metal. Their newest album since 2011's "Mountains of Madness" was released on Blood Rock Records. It really doesn't stray too very far from they tried and true sound they've perfected over the years, not that it needed to. They've always had that right mixture of melody and heaviness, so that something massively heavy can still have the haunting, resonant qualities of something thatwould usually be much more melodic and softer in style. It's a balancing act, and they manage to balance it in just the right ways. While the lead off track "Addiction" is the video single and quite good, I really got into the next to last track "In Winter". For this one they crawl along slower than usual in the beginning, with the megalithic riff dragging out that feeling of despair to new depths. It doesn't stay that way forever, switching over to a crushing mid-tempo riff about a third of the way through. And even manages to kick it up another notch afterwards, around the halfway point. Falling back into the slow crawl from the beginning, it doesn't take very long for a screaming guitar solo to fall into place. With the song being just over nine minutes long, the transitions are seamless and don't feel rushed. With the album being produced and mixed by Billy Anderson himself, you know it's properly done and sounds great. You can pick up the digital version for just a few bucks off of Blood Rock's bandcamp or check out the Doomraiser's store for all of physical copy needs, including some vinyl options.
For Fans Of; Saint Vitus, Black Sabbath, Paradise Lost
Mares Of Diomedes is a new group from Ireland, comprised of two brothers who've previously played in separate bands while jamming at home together, and who have finally decided to see what they can come up with as an officially unified group. The four tracks assembled for their first EP amount to just under half an hour of sludgy doom, and right from the start, the brothers make it clear that they know how to effectively use fuzz and walls of bass, while the drums are carefully mixed to avoid being drowned out by the low-end power.
The first three tracks ("Under Burning Sun", "The Messiah", and "The Flood") aim for similar territory, providing plenty of opportunities for listeners to engage in that distinctive doom style of slow head-banging broken up by harder and/or faster thrashing, with the vocals staying raw and throaty. On the last track, "Tooth and Nail", the brothers really pull out the stops, giving it a run-time about twice as long as any of the other songs so that each section can get full attention. Rolling drums, a thick under-current of bass, and a truly doom-driven melody bring the monster to life, with so much fervor animating it that I can't help but imagine what an experience it would be live.
For a first release, even considering the musical experience both members already have, it's a doozy. Heavy and dirty, well-mixed without losing the grit, the band gets to show off their range but makes no bones about their commitment to doom and sludge. Very solid stuff, and a cinch for ensuring attention to the band in all of their future efforts.
For Fans Of; Coffin Torture, Attalla, The Sleer, Weed Priest, Blind Samson
Originally released in February last year, the self-titled debut of Australia's heavy blues rock band Child (not to be confused with the Californian heavy psychedelic band of the same name) has finally received wider distribution and a vinyl release, thanks to the ever-vigilant Kozmik Artifactz and Bilocation Records. Since this one slipped under the RWTD radar at the time of its original release, what better opportunity could there be for us to fix that omission?
Once you've got your copy ready to go, the first thing you'll hear will be the sound of "Trees", a big chunky brick of dirty blues, mixing a steep buzz-wall of bass with careful-handed picking on guitar and earthy vocals. It's the type of song that makes you want a stiff drink just to get closer to the band's headspace, helped along by the line "Every day, I've got whiskey in my coffee," just one of the lyrics painting the picture of a free spirit trying to make it by in a cruel world.
"Stone By Stone" picks up from there with another slow-moving groove, letting beat-down weariness and a little bit of hope flow together until the guitar heats up into a blaze of psychedelic vivacity. "All Dried Up" pulls the rug out from under the expectations of its name, delivering a juicy squeezing of rock with more of that psychedelic flavor tinting the blues, and penultimate track "Mean Square" gets even heavier with the wailings and fuzz.
Last of all, the two-parter "Blue Overtone Storm / Yellow Planetary Sun" finds the band just throwing themselves into the waves while calling out to the sky, getting cosmic while staying grounded in heart-felt grit. While the initial vinyl run of 511 copies has already sold out, it looks like response was positive enough that Kozmik Artifactz might have another batch available in the near future, so if you missed out that first time around, keep an ear to the ground for news of your second chance at this superb heavy blues.
For Fans Of; Groggy, That Sinking Feeling, Wicked Lady, Eternal Elysium, Danzig
Molior Superum have been making music for about half a decade now (if you need a refresher, check out our review of Into the Sun from back in 2012), and while 2014 saw the release of a single (The Inconclusive Portrait) in June, the band also released this quadruple-track EP in December. Offering up ~20 minutes of heavy rock, Electric Escapism begins with "Bortom Livets Sjal" (just in case you forgot they hail from Sweden), a real kicker of an opening track which bashes out the core rhythm on drums while slathering it up with big-amped guitar and bass, riding wild through the leather-booted rocking.
"Eyes in Orbit" picks up from there, maintaining the main vibe but getting even harder on the drums, and from the sound of things, doing a good job of giving the guitarist some serious blisters. It's a quick 'n' dirty basher that's a lot of fun, and it's strong enough to avoid being overshadowed or forgotten, even in the position of #2 out of 4 tracks. "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife" gets just as dirty as it needs to in order to fit with its title, which references a 19th-century piece of Japanese pornographic art, and stretches out its tentacles in a psychedelic entrapment of coiling chords and slick grooves, hitting almost 7 minutes of fuzzy fun all on its own.
Lastly, "Försummad" brings things home by slowing down a little from the previous track's rocket blast, still blazing hot, just in a steady trajectory to touch down firm at the end of the ride. Taken all together, the four tracks on the EP show that Molior Superum have lost none of their fire, and that the next release, whether it's a single, another EP, a split, or a full album, will certainly be worth your time and money to snatch up and stuff into your ears. Now that the weather's warming up (at least in my part of the world), it's the perfect time to get these songs flowing if you haven't already picked up your own Electric Escapism.
For Fans Of; Mos Generator, Persona, Daily Thompson, Isaak, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
Three years on from the release of their first full-length, with an EP, a split, and some side-project work to fill the time, Undersmile have returned with their second album. Clocking in at 75 minutes, Anhedonia aims for the alternative side of doom metal, with slow-crooned lyrics, cello accompaniment, and clean melodies to go with the heavy chords and bass reverb. Keeping the tempo low and the subject matter depressive, the band trudges through the weight of their songs, lifting up occasionally with the sad sweetness of the strings, but always returning before too long to the anger and angst. With only one song dropping below the 10-minute mark, Anhedonia successfully captures a sensation of protracted grief and suffering, stretching out each track into a dirge which allows moments of rage to interrupt the grief. Grim and foreboding, it's an album that really benefits from being played only once the daylight has vanished, and preferably with the windows open to let the anguish stream out into the night. The record will be released on April 1st, available on vinyl, CD, and digital downloads from Black Bow Records. Fans of down-cast mopery wrapped in sledge-like poundings of bass and guitar should definitely check it out. ~ Gabriel
For Fans Of; Woods of Ypres, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Fall Of Efrafa, Light Bearer, Oak & Bone
Zoe's third album (though it's the only one you'll find listed on their BandCamp page) is a blending of '00s-style hard rock with some fuzzier tones and feedback, adding up to a dirtier sort of big-venue rock. Easy-to-follow choruses and chords form the backbone of the songs, with some admittedly cool grooves put to work in the bridges and solos.
When the band isn't focusing on getting the crowds to sing along, their creativity gets to shine more brightly, and they show some stimulating ideas of how to fuse their instruments in the spaces between refrains. It's their need to pay homage to the hard rock of yesteryear that feels like it's holding them back the most while other modern bands in a similarly heavy vein are having fun riding over the torn-down remains of '70s rock song structuring. Zoe show a number of times that they can jam out pretty hard when they want to, and they've got the slamming string crashes down solid, so the reason for their persistent use of repeat-repeat-repeat-repeat writing is something of a mystery.
If you're looking for an album to serve as background music while you pound back a few beers and get some car-tuning done, there's a huge pool of worse to be had, but if you're looking to actually engage with the album, and your musical knowledge stretches further back than the last decade and a half, you'll likely be left a little cold by Zoe's latest. Hopefully their next effort will find the group discarding the old stand-bys in favor of more mind-bending material, even if just by moving up to harder liquor. Raise The Veil is now available on CD and vinyl.
For Fans Of; Orchid, Clutch, Queens Of The Stone Age, MACH22, Mastodon
While this Greek squad has been at it since the early 90's, they've only started recording recently, with their debut album "Keep It Alive" coming out at the tail end of last year. The 90's grunge scene has its finger prints all over their sound, along with healthy doses of psych and stoner rock to obscure things just a little. Pretty much six tracks of the best stuff that the bygone decade had to offer. You have swinging, down tuned stoner rock jams, some heavy rock tracks with a spacey vibe, and even a couple songs thick with that unmistakeable Seattle sound from back in the day. With all those influences, and the amount of time they've been playing together, it's no surprise that they have a different vibe than most of the other stoner rock bands out of Greece that are making noise right now.
The title track is last up on the album, and being the longest one on there ensures that it's going to be plenty of time to lay down a killer track. Starting off with what can be described as Eddie Vedder taking over vocal duties for Kyuss, the song builds up with a bass guitar rumble before the vocals become shouted and a gritty guitar sound sinks into everything as it moves like a car that's wide open on a desert blacktop. Of course around the half way point things change up and take a slower direction, with the guitar losing some of that gritty edge and lending a heavy psych feel to the second half of the song. While the guys only have this up on bandcamp as a download right now, it'll be worth checking out and seeing what all the fuss is about.
The Midnight Ghost Train ~ Cold Was the Ground (2015)
The Midnight Ghost Train are back with their raw and super heavy blues rock concoction. Even though the guys call Kansas home, but I'd venture to say that the Mississippi River delta could just as easily serve as home from their sound. While they seem a bit more willing to explore different styles and sounds this time around, the heart of it all is still the same. Straight forward heavy riffs with a groovy blues flare that's always been part of their signature. Where they do explore and wander it feels seamless, like they've done it all along. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. The second track "Gladstone" was a favorite from the first spin, with a thick, hazy stoner rock influence that's undeniable from the first few notes. Wasting no time, it starts out high energy and aside from a couple well placed, short lulls over the course of those four minutes, it stays that way to the very end. That slightly twangy and completely pulverizing guitar playing is on grand display yet again, with the frontman having more control over your headbanging than you do with it. Backed up with a ground rumbling bass line, and those thunderous, hammering drum rhythms, it's a perfect storm of sound when everything comes together just so. The vocals keep their low, country growl firmly in place on top of the tracks, in the way all good blues songs do. We all knew going into this that "Buffalo" would be a hard act to top, and while I'm not sure "Cold Was the Ground" is necessarily better, it's easily on par with that one and not to be missed all the same. To make that easier, check out Napalm Record's Store with their nice vinyl selection including some gold and clear for this one, and a cd for the people who aren't into vinyl as much.
Though they came together back in 2012, Redemption marks the first release from this French quartet, and it's strong enough to justify the wait. Rouge Coma opens up the EP with a track that shares their name, making use of heavy reverberant slams on the strings and a growing percussive presence to lay out their plans for doom-drenched starkness, with a burst of harsh vocals towards the end. Developing the complexity further as they go on, the band drags listeners from there into "Stranger", an even harder-hitting piece with audio sample interludes telling of mistreatment and desperation in between the savage howls and stabbing chord progressions.
Things get even more tense with "Silence", with the heavy string sounds speeding up, the drums laying down thicker fills, and the vocalist doing his best to tear something in his throat for good. The trend is continued on "So I'm Lost", with increased knottiness for the rhythms as they rocket towards the end, spitting out sharp counter-points to the thick and heavy waves. A little breather at the end is soon overwhelmed, and a fever pitch is reached with the closing title track, pulling together all of the viciousness shown over the previous songs into one last barrage of gut-punching fervor.
The band's handling of their material is damned impressive with its steady pushing of the needle further and further along the meter to overload. One of those releases that really rewards listening to its original track lay-out in full, so that the band can fully dig its fingers into your brains. One hell of a debut, and enough to have me wishing that Rouge Coma's next release will take a bit less than two more years to make its assault on the public.
For Fans Of; Stoneburner, Gallow God, Fudge Tunnel, early EyeHateGod, Bongripper at 45 RPM
With a space of three years between their last album and this one, it's easy to imagine the work that Narcoiris have been putting in at the studio and practice sessions, tweaking their sound and song structures to hit just the right meshing of heaviness and tunefulness. Those hopes are well-met from the start of the album, which kicks in the doors on "Despertar" with a fuzz-swaddled guitar riff, buzzing along to warm things up before introducing the rest of the musicians. The vocals come in clean (but not too clean), the drums are mixed to comfortably mesh while still having the option of blowing up into big attacks, and the bass sidles along with casual cool.
Having established their groove, Narcoiris ride it right through the album, throwing in twists here and there, but staying faithful to the heavy rock heart that pumps out their beats. It's one of those albums that really seems suited for long drives, when you can play through it start to finish, get back to the start, and just let it go for another cycle so you won't be pulled out of the vibes. My only dissatisfaction (and it's a small one) is that I would have liked to hear a little more freak-out from the guitar, but the band works so well together that I can understand why they didn't want to break their groove.
CD copies are available from Venado Records, so if you've got a taste for authentically heavy rock that juices things up with their original performances instead of dialing it in later at the studio, be sure to snag a copy for your listening pleasure. Who knows, with enough interest shown, we may even get the album on more formats, and this stuff is good enough to deserve all the exposure it can get.
For Fans Of; Manthrass, Valkyrie, Magic Circle, Saint Vitus, Necronomicon (Brazil)
Popping up out of Washington with this debut EP, Queen Chief draws on themes of dissatisfaction, displacement, and disillusionment for their fuzzy desert rock sound. Native American roots provide a sense of earthly connection for the fast-cruising riffs, skyward-skimming solos, and solid grounding percussion. The five tracks deliver an ambitious and effective taste of what the band's future holds in store for their listeners, with enough variety and experimentation to make it clear that they've got plenty of ideas tucked away for further developments.
There's also a cool flow to the EP's tracks, with clear connections leading from one song's outro into the next one's intro, making for one big chunk of style and attitude that slips into your ears without a hitch. Maybe most interesting are the group's slower moments, which show a soulful melancholy more engaging and complex than the usual 'party 'til the sun comes up, then keep going' attitude associated with the bulk of desert rock acts. That's not to say that the band can't pull off that rowdy raucousness, just that there's more sides to this group than first, second, or third listens will reveal. Let's hope they stick to their guns, keep the hits coming, and broaden their touring horizons so that more and more people can fall in line with Queen Chief.
For Fans Of; Powered Wig Machine, Chiefs, The Hunted Crows, Mother Mars, Daily Thompson
This is the first album to come from the brainstorms of ¡FLIST!, a project led by Montreal-based musician/visual artist Charlie Twitchwith support from Peggy Hogan and Nick Schofield. Their style on this first release purees together elements from doom, be-bop, industrial, drone, and more; in what might be a nod to the influence of Foetus on shaping the sounds, ¡FLIST!'s name appears in katakana on the album cover. Mixing sardonicism with mocking exuberance as freely as the other pieces of the stylistic mosaic, Twitch's presence lurks between the beats of the music until the time comes for him to rush through the speakers or headphones out at his audience.
The variety of influences and embracing of electronic instrumentation might turn off some listeners with rigid standards of what is and is not acceptable use of doom flavor, but while ¡FLIST!'s incarnation is wholly their own, the list of bands that could be pointed to as fore-runners is quite a lengthy one (though the best of them had their hey-day in the '80s). With 21st-century technology and today's nightmarish global situations at his disposal for inspiration and interpretation, Twitch summons up a twisting ride of sudden drops and spasms, mood swings and jags of manic depression. One for those looking to expand their horizons, or followers of Eskaton/Brainwashed/Cold Meat Industries and similar record labels.
For Fans Of; PIG, Foetus, Sow, Alien Sex Fiend, tweaker
Having put in some serious work since their two-track 2013 release Lead to the Grave, the Colorado trio of The Munsens (transplanted from New Jersey) are back with a new EP, heavy with bass, fuzz, and what sounds like horror movie samples. That's a winning combination in my book, and what makes it even better is the group's way with their riffs, loaded with slow-growling doom while keeping the beat rolling along, savoring the sludgy slabs, and cranking up the assault when the time is right.
Things start off with the dark occultation of the title track, throwing in some quick guitar flourishes over the massive main riffs while calling out inescapable destruction via the lyrics, and slipping into a subdued touch of piano for the outro. The music rolls from there into "Slave", employing a swifter, more rock-leaning blast of attitude before sliding back into the sludgier stuff. Lastly, "The Hunt" weighs in at 11 minutes of full-on gritty doom metal fused with more deep-bass rock-speed head-banging, demanding high volume from your speakers to do justice to the band's power and intensity.
Available for download or as part of a limited cassette run, the EP crunches and crushes with style, setting The Munsens as a strong contender from the ranks of fresh faces in the stoner doom arena these days. Get yourself hot with what they've already put out, and start counting the days until the world is lucky enough to see a full album from these doom-bringers.
For Fans Of; Wolf Blood, Ladybird, Count Absurdo, Hypnochron, Windhand
After a couple of demos stretching back to 2011, and a gig recording captured in 2012, Shepherd have finally readied a full-length album to unleash their heavy rock and attitude on the world. With track titles such as "Black Cock of Armageddon" and "Wretch Salad", the Indian group sets expectations for some dirty sounds, and certainly does not disappoint in meeting them and then some. From the start of the first song, "Spite Pit", the band cranks out noisy, amped-up, and hard-grooving riffs, with some juicy slowed-down sections to make you appreciate the blurs of sound all the more.
While it's hard to deny the title track as the king of the crop (especially with the sweet pedal-treated tones it brings into play), it does get some stiff competition, maybe most strongly from the closer, "Stalebait", which gets mired in a tarry pit, wrenches about with some sharp guitar, and then sinks beneath the surface as the album comes to a close.
The more manageably-sized tracks don't skimp on the weight either, with even the shortest entries just rolling around in the smoky reverb. There's not really a weak track to be found, as Shepherd have struck a fine balance between keeping the songs trim and indulging in the necessary extended haze of stoner rock. The music ranges from modern heavy rock back to a more direct channeling of Black Sabbath's vibes, so that there's something to appeal to the tastes of any interested burn-outs and metal-heads out there.
The album is currently available only on CD (or download from the BandCamp), but it comes in a variety of packages, with optional add-ons of a T-shirt and a silk-screen poster, though quantities of both are more than a little limited. With all the buzz this album is getting, though, it seems like another likely candidate for popping up in a licensed vinyl edition by some savvy record label in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled for that to crop up if digital just doesn't do it for your collection. In any event, pop this album into your ears and let Shepherd guide you on a heavy metal odyssey.
Last week in Iowa City, Milk Duct Tape threw their release party for this, their debut EP. Trying to identify the style of the band is to play a pick-'n'-match game, with flavors of grunge, desert rock, a little punk, a peppering of southern rock, some psychedelic, and a whole lot of attitude, all shaken up together and shotgunned in one go, then set loose on stage or in your stereo to bring their distorted mental landscapes to life.
The six tracks you'll find on this EP, as soon as you realize you need to grab a copy, move in an inebriated boogie from thrashy to sweet-toned fuzz, wild-eyed and on edge to chill and blearily happy, somehow managing to make it all seem seamless and perfectly natural, even when they're flying by the seats of their pants into a nose-dive of howling guitar and launching immediately into something new. Solid stuff for blasting out of your truck's windows, kicking back in a cloud of smoke, or engaging in the heshery all the kids like these days; as long as a situation has energy and rules to be broken, it's a good fit for Milk Duct Tape.
Copies of the EP can be found as a CD or BandCamp download, but with only 100 copies of the CD made, and 25 of those made available for public purchase, you'll want to get in gear if you intend to get yourself a physical copy.
For Fans Of; The Heavy Company, Special People, Fuzz Evil, Mos Generator, Poor Dumb Bastards
The first album from Argentinian band Domination throws fifteen tracks of old-school heavy metal at its audience, banging its head, stomping its feet, and not going easy on the noodly solos. High-energy drumming and vocals step up to the plate and do a cracking job of channeling the spirit of '80s metal (the storyline of the album's concept is even focused on Bolshevik revolutionaries) into a modern form, while some atmospheric touches between songs help cinch the album's style together with a strong sense of setting.
There are some near-symphonic touches at times, leading the band to cross the line into power metal territory, though some of the riffs are a little tougher than usually expected of that genre's content. A fondness for slipping into falsetto doesn't exactly help the band avoid that comparison, but when Domination throws themselves into the instrumental side of things, it really picks up liveliness.
Virtually all of the tracks are in the four-to-five-minute range, with a handful of pacer tracks included, and the ~5:30 two-parter "All Around Dead / Colors Become Dark" standing as the longest on the album. As a result, the momentum is kept running hot, the songs flow from one right into the next, and with the solos that are squeezed in, each one effectively sets its stamp down with clarity. Fans of retro heavy metal are sure to find their tastes catered to with care by this new group, and as long as they keep up the high standard of energy set with this debut, they'll be getting the crowds moving in the pit wherever they play.
For Fans Of; Symphony X, Twilightning, early Pantera, Manowar, Artension
Bhutan's first release begins with a metallic rattling, a shifting glide of tone, and vibrations. It's solidly representative of the album's atmosphere, which lurks in uneasy meldings of doom and drone-savoring post-metal. Splitting the album's title into three tracks, Bhutan begin by shaping the feedback and layered synth effects into a dark setting with "Behind", letting the sounds push each other into new shapes and angles as their presence alters the whole. A howling, acid-edged wall of bass or guitar (it's so heavily twisted, it's hard to say for sure which it is) is introduced with "Dead", spasming and keening away while the structure continues to mutate. As Bhutan enter "Woods", the metal is burned right through to its base, allowing the group to rebuild from the ground up, which they choose to do so with slams of bass, recognizable rhythms, and a style that serves as home terrain for doomsters after the foreboding trip through the previous songs.
Bhutan have really pushed themselves to experiment with well-established styles on this debut, and the results are damned impressive. They acquit themselves well in each of the modes, sounding equally at home in the foggy synth drifts, the hypnotic bleed of drone feedback, and the wintry funereal doom metal. I find myself imagining how mind-melting the live performances must be, and consequently having to smooth the hairs of my arms back down, it brings such a chill. It's just as exciting to think of where they'll go from this excellent starting point, which offers so many spine-tingling possibilities. Venado Records and Zann's Music are the handlers for the CD edition, which comes with a poster, sticker, credit sheet, and a hand-made envelope for the disc. Something for very cold nights or sunless days, to be played as loudly as you can handle.
For Fans Of; Sutekh Hexen, Gnaw Their Tongues, Sunn O))), Akira Yamaoka, Thergothon
Deveikuth have been burning away underground for a few years now, putting out the massive double-track release of XIII-IX in 2013 and contributing the track "II" to a split with Drog last year. Their virulent doom is breaking further ground and new numbers in 2015 with this album of three songs totaling an hour of goosebump-inducing dark sounds. It's an album of nothing but title tracks, which is something that comes around so rarely it just felt worth noting.
The music rumbles into motion with "VII", a thick morass of low-end feedback, slow-measured percussive beats, and ethereal vocals providing a glimpse of something escaping the audio tar pit, contrasted with rough shrieks once the tone has been set. As the howls from strings and throat draw to their finish, "π" picks up, providing the album's center with an appropriately irrational bout of madness. The tonal resonance takes focus from the start, glowering and undulating while the drum and cymbals fall into place like drops of mercury.
Lastly, "III" gurgles into action with even more acerbic sounds, scratching away at harsh feedback and inarticulated wails while unloading heavy chord drops that ring out like some unearthly and gigantic bells. While it's difficult to pick out specific moments in the tracks, that's only because Deveikuth hit their groove and hit it hard, catching listeners in a sonic undertow to drag them into the unseen depths. The band's crushing waves of sound are largely unrelenting, with just a few moments of peace slipped in to keep the ears raw before getting brutalized again. It's heavy, hellish, and superbly crafted to get under your skin and into your nerves.
For Fans Of; Sutekh Hexen, Eibon, Trees, Pentemple, Sunn O)))
With this being Fvnerals follow up to 2013's "The Hours EP", their first full length "The Light" is what you'd expect, more of what has built their name thus far, filled with haunting melodies that creep along and include just the right touch of heaviness to bind the whole thing together into the bleakest of atmospheres. The vocals are airy and enchanting throughout the whole thing, with moments of it being barely louder than whisper, and at other times the vocals can be a little louder, but downright hypnotizing. The guitar puts down droning, somber passages, with the drummer never in much of a hurry, but always right on time in the grand scheme of things. The second track on the album "Vakna" has a long build up to the halfway point's massive crescendo, it's like your soundtrack for an asteroid strike apocalypse and that's zero hour for a rock the size of a small country to slam into the planet at a few thousand miles an hour. The sort of thing even single-celled organisms and cock roaches don't survive. This eventually slows back down and returns to the original section, like a review of the scorched ground and towering clouds of dust left behind. Now, if you're a die-hard metal fan, don't let the "shoegaze" and "dark ambient" tags throw you off, this is still some of the most soul crushingly melancholy music to come out last year. Just think of it as listener friendly funeral doom. If this sounds enticing, head over to their bandcamp and hear it for yourself.
After a couple EPs and last year's "Truck Stop Baby 7"", the UK's XII Boar are back with their first full length album. "Pitworthy" is everything you'd expect from the rowdy dudes in XII Boar, loud and crass stoner metal with a heavy dose of southern rock thrown in for good measure. But it's also a lot of things you wouldn't necessarily expect, and some tracks are a departure from anything you've heard by them in the past. Leanings toward stoner rock, thrash, and doom metal make themselves more evident in some of those tracks, but always thick with that signature XII Boar flavor. While all ten tracks and just over forty-eight minutes of stoner metal goodness is the biggest fix we've had of XII Boar yet, like all good drugs, you end up wanting more. While I can listen to the album on repeat for an entire day and never think of changing it, the last track "Quint" really blew me away the first time I listened to it. After the first nine tracks of stoner metal, the closing track really delivers some heavier doom metal influenced goodness over its eleven minute duration. Kicking off a crunchy guitar lead-in, it only takes a few moments before the drums and bass roll in like storm clouds. Around the one minute mark things take off to a galloping beat with the front man's dirt road styled vocals leading the way. By the time you get to the halfway point, things take a turn for the slow, with a plodding tempo and even more snarled vocals. Things pick back up after a bit, but only for a short time before things take another left turn and drops off into a lone guitar piece. Around the nine minute mark things slow down again, with a howling guitar to break the silence, with the band rejoining not long after. Ending the whole album on such a heavy jam further shows that these guys are far from showing their whole hand, and have more tricks up their collective sleeves. With the official release being today, the guys threw a release party this past weekend, and it look like a damn good time. So do yourself a favor, pick up a copy of this and throw your own party, you deserve it.
For Fans Of; Down, Artimus Pyledriver, Orange Goblin, Weedeater, Crowbar
This split marks my first encounter with Astralnaut (though I dig the name, and looking at their BandCamp page tells me I need to get cracking on familiarizing myself with their past EPs and album), but as I was already a big fan of Weed Priest's potent stoner doom blend, I had high expectations. Happily, I was not let down in the least, as between the two bands and their quarter-hour of low-tuned dark grooves, I had a damn good time.
Astralnaut starts things off, sparking a film sample as they warm up their instruments to rock the dead with "Parasitic". A muscular main riff carries the essence along while conflict and determination are outlined by the singer's menacing style. After crossing the half-way mark of the track, Astralnaut open up the valves on their dark energy reserves, letting the strings start to bleed into blurs, the drums pound harder, and the speed accelerate; hell, they even made the cow-bell sound bad-ass, and that's no easy trick.
After Astralnaut slink into the darkness, Weed Priest take command of things, and "Graveyard Planet" rises with some imagery that would be right at home in the pages of Heavy Metal. A hard-grinding bass groove gets things situated before bringing in the vocals and twisting the chords around, plunging into the hallowed dirt of their setting with killer style. A squeal into tonal overload, a fading out of the volume, and it's over, at least until you hit play again.
What with both bands being residents of Ireland, imagining the sort of shows these two would put on together is almost enough to get you checking into your passport situation to catch a gig. Air fare being what it is, though, you'd probably be better suited contenting yourself with letting these tracks (and the rest of each band's catalog) drive their leafy lethality into the core of your brain. If you need more convincing, just play the EP again, you'll get it soon enough.
For Fans Of; Ladybird, Toke, Dopethrone, Sleep, The Sleer