Thursday, April 30, 2015

Clawed From Coffins...

Apostate - Time Of Terror (2015)

Ukraine's Apostate have an interesting history, with more black metal influences to the material they released in the mid-'90s before their break-up in '98, and their first full album not arriving until 2010, after their resurrection by bassist Alexander Kostko.  Time of Terror picks up the line of heritage with the death-edged, near-funereal doom of "Solar Misconception", crumbling in an assortment of audio samples to add still more to the classic doom-in-a-Hammer-Horror-vein somberness and setting (a practice revisited throughout the album).  Each of the five songs (the shortest of which is just 9 minutes) achieves its own distinct character, with all of the members doing a great job with their performance range, and the drummer in particular doing a fantastic job of parsing out separate rhythmic approaches for each song.
There's a lot of tradition being revived in these tracks, but since the band seems to only be interested in the bands who really pushed things and welded metal varieties into new forms, it's difficult to chalk all of the authority they command up to their past.  They're playing their guts out in the here-and-now, and as they roar along, Apostate make it clear that they're looking to the future when writing this music.  There's too much fire in its bones to be brushed off as a relic, and the ambition the group shows in the complexity of the songs is enough to earn them plenty of new listeners.  High-quality stuff, not to be missed by doom fans who like it slow, heavy, and majestic.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Forgotten Tomb, Disenchanter, Bell Witch, Lake of Blood, Pilgrim


Ophidian Offerings...

Shrine of the Serpent - Shrine of the Serpent EP (2015)

With members from Aldebaran, Roanoke, and Tenspeed Warlock, Shrine of the Serpent has a pretty reputable pedigree to its sludgy & deathly doom, and over the half-hour covered by their three songs on this debut EP, the group lays the metal down with resounding thumps and lyrical style channeled from the tradition-makers of '80s death/doom metal.  Blood, bones, and curses are cast upon the listener, with concise slices of melodic indulgence coming from the guitar over the throbbing bass.  The vocals are dark and guttural, but not to the point of overwhelming the words, so even in the biggest bridges of pounding drums and growls rising to near-wails, there's a clarity that keeps the essential thrust coming through with no problems.  It fits well with the restrained production, which keeps the band's output intimate as they deliver their angry tales of decay.  Instead of going for the huge amounts of reverb found in the stonier side of doom metal, their levels are cold and sharp, with the acoustics sounding as though the recording sessions could have taken place in a well-furnished crypt.
All three of the tracks feel well fleshed-out; they're long, but in a way that puts that time to work in expanding the main ideas, instead of just serving as padding for its own sake.  I'd rank them as generally equal in execution, but due recognition does need to go (as it so often does) to the longest track, the position of which is filled here by "Gods of Blight", a heavy grinder (with some fierce bass holds) that opens with a goosebump-inducing spoken-word section before the track proper closes the EP.  It's also here where the vocals become the most serpent-like, adding a blackened hissing method alongside the throatier delivery, and resulting in what could work well as a signature blending if the band decides to play up the imagery of their name.  A very solid start to the band's catalog.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Heavydeath, Blind Samson, The Sleer, Stoneburner, Caligari Records


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Zap The Neurons...

Wired Mind - mindstate:dreamscape (2015)

Wired Mind is a new group from Germany, with mindstate:dreamscape being their first release of their heavy prog voyage.  Stretches of instrumentation that rev up from calm cruising to headlong hurtling serve the longer tracks ("Road" and "Wired Dream"), while the shorter ones ("Jennifer's Dream of a Switchblade" and "Woman") get into the threshing with less hesitation.  The guitarist handles the flow from steady tones into fierce shredding with cool technique, serving as the wildest of the group's cards, though there's stiff competition for that position from the synth's spacier modulations.
That 'cool but crazy' spirit is at play for most of the performance, really.  While the group always has the songs well in hand, sneaky time changes and all, there's a heartening sense that no matter how many days they've been going at it in the rehearsal and recording process, every day they're still trying out some fresh approach to the music.  Some extra fuzz for the guitar, longer echo, effects of that sort, sure, but also structural stuff like the rhythm meshing and how far to push the sustain before crashing back in for the climax.  Great start, great album.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Saint Vitus, Kadavar, Gentle Giant, Desert Suns, Tuber


Playing For Heat...

Flannel Season - Flannel Season EP (2015)

Though they began as a straight-forward grunge band, Flannel Season's first studio-recorded release shows the group taking an interest in heavier sounds and lyrical material with more occult flavor than your average grungers.  They've mined that warm but sharp fuzz-tone from the more psychedelically-inspired type of mid-'90s alternative for the guitars, brought in a toasty effect for the bass (which goes well with the early heavy metal aspects which really come alive in "Autumn Song"), and the two mesh really well while the drummer keeps his side of things cool and commanding.  3/4 of the members handle the vocals, and in another nice touch from the band for this release, each gets their own track to command as the lead, with "Iowaska" making for a well-worked semi-jammy instrumental to round things out.
There's a good sense of character to the band, as despite pulling a whole lot of inspiration from the great heavy rock acts of the past, they put enough twists and cinches on their interplay and delivery to stand out.  It helps that they seem to genuinely be having a good time in the studio, making even their slowest moments move along with some spark going under the weight.  There's CD copies of the EP available at CDBaby (and iTunes serves the digital version), and the band has shows coming up in June, so get your ears on this stuff if heavy/desert/grunge/stoner rock is to your tastes in any way.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Fuzz Evil, The Munsens, Wolf Blood, Acid King, The Heavy Company


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Song of the Serpent

Holy Serpent ~ Holy Serpent (2015)

One of the future classics to be released by Riding Easy Records this year is the debut album from Australia's Holy Serpent. And with the level of bands coming from the land down under recently, and Riding Easy's stamp of approval, you shouldn't need much more validation than that. Their album is a heavy hitting slab of stoner doom metal, the sort that Riding Easy Records loves to put out, and all of us fine people love to hear. You get monumental psyched and smoked out doom riffs that pour out of the speakers, together with some serious low end in the mix to shake things up a bit. (And by "things" I mean whatever you happen to have sitting on top of your speaker cabinets, I hope you like it shaken and not stirred.) When all of the parts of this LSD lubed machine work together, you're brought to a stoner doom trip that's more than fitting for all of us connoisseurs of heavy out there. The album is due out soon, on May 12th, and they've already released a couple of the tracks for streaming, one of which is the awesomely titled "Shroom Doom". At just over five minutes, it's packed full of a monstrous riff that's like a spaced out beast stomping across the landscape, with the melodic vocal performance possessing a hypnotizing quality all their own to match with the psych qualities of the track, and punched out drums that slam and bang their way across those five minutes of stoner doom perfection. Not really all that often do I feel it factual to use that statement, but in the case of this song, and this entire album, it's well deserved. As with all of the Riding Easy Records collection, it comes in some sexy looking vinyl editions that are up for pre-order already, and even some CDs once the release date gets a bit closer.

For Fans Of; Salem's Pot, Sleep, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats

Monday, April 27, 2015

Holy Mountain of the Molossus

Fangs Of The Molossus ~ Fangs of the Molossus (2015)

While the self-titled Fangs of the Molossus album came out on CD back in 2013, it's getting a new breath of life thanks to a vinyl re-release from Italian Doom Metal Records. This will be their first release promoting the Italian doom metal scene exclusively, and with the wide spectrum of those bands, this is a stellar starting point for the indie label. The music itself is an exercise in occult doom metal with a heavy handed dose of psych and stoner at times. The third track "I Drink Your Blood" was an immediate attention grabber the first time through. This is a song Sleep would of written if they were watching nothing but 70's Italian horror flicks while getting stoned and recording "Sleep's Holy Mountain". The same use of massive, pounding riffs with an even darker and more sinister edge to them. With the bass and drums just as heavy as anything you've heard, the song slams through until the halfway point where it's broken up by an instrumental section with a hammering textbook doom riff that gives way to a spaced out guitar solo. By the last couple minutes things get reeled back in from the psychedelic freak out session and return to the opening riff that the track rides into the darkness on. With four more tracks of visceral doom metal gracing the LP, it's worth forty solid minutes of heaviness front and back. You can go snag a copy of the new black or blood red vinyl, or even a hand numbered promo edition, from Italian Doom Metal Records.

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

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Exercising Monastic Discipline...

Mad Monks - The Dark Retreat (2015)

The final album to emerge from the three-piece of Mad Monks shows the group in their self-avowed darkest release, as The Dark Retreat takes the band's prog and blues roots and gives them a deep dunking in a vat o' doom, turning out a record that goes both big and mournful with its riffs and rhythms.  Skittering tear-outs from the guitar and manically-powered black-jacks of bass provide most of the mutating assault, with the drums and vocals providing a comparatively stable side to the songs, at least until they get twisted with their own effects, but the Mad Monks also have a more atmospheric side, shown in tracks such as "Asthenia" and "Apsis".  For these, the stridency of the music is pulled back to more sinister effect, and the deliberate way with which Mad Monks apply pressure with the tension gives the whole album a great vibrancy.
With the band calling it a day after hitting such sweet spots with their fusion, this seems likely to become one of those hidden gems; after all, why do a bunch of promotion when there's no more shows?  But The Dark Retreat is more than worthy of being held up for appreciation by a wider audience than just those who already knew of the band, and though it's currently only available on CD, there's always the chance that it might end up on vinyl someday, even if the last two tracks ("Chimera" and "Perihelion") running 26 and 3 minutes long does make it a tricky proposition.  Don't hold your breath for a theoretical release, go ahead and grab yourself a copy of the one that already exists, then play it loud in a dark room.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Acid King, Spiral Shades, Morphine, Mondo Drag, Hellenica


Space Dino Sludgery...

V A I L S - Galactic Triceratops EP (2015)

South Wales' V A I L S are a two-piece with an urge towards musical experimentation, and on this debut EP, the pair shows their fondness for sludge with some understated humor.  Well, aside from the neon dinosaur on the cover, but beyond that, there's the song titles, with names like "Megatron's Telethon" and "Don't Poke The Bear" serving as a clearer statement of what the distorted vocals deliver.  Aside from "Don't Poke The Bear", which closes out the EP, the songs are all under the five-minute mark, letting the band spurt out different takes on their heavy groove base in rapid succession.  All of them work, and also hint at how the band might further develop on future releases (though the wild energy suggests they could just as easily throw everybody for a loop with something completely different next time around).
The EP is getting a 100-copy run on CD courtesy of When Planets Collide, and the first 50 or so come with an exclusive patch of the band's name, done all dino-like, so turn up your speakers and bang your head for the first few plays until you're ready to order a copy.  Do it fast enough, and we might even see a vinyl release in the works.  And hey, you know it'll be a better use of money than going to see Jurassic World.
~ Gabriel


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Stomping Your Way...

Headless Kross - Volumes (2015)

The Scottish three-piece that is Headless Kross have been putting on some great live shows and putting out albums to match since starting back in 2011, but with their new album, the group has laid down a clear challenge to all the bands with whom they might share a stage.  Consisting of just three tracks, but stretching out to three-quarters of an hour, Volumes finds Headless Kross spooling out heavy clouds of fuzz, feedback, and grimy tones punctured and punctuated by the powerful drum-beats, and clearly not giving a damn when it comes to holding back. 
"Rural Juror" is the biggest of the three, staking out a territory of 20+ minutes, and the band's gambit of throwing it right at the listener with the start of the album has the helpful effect of tenderizing your ears for the shorter stuff by way of the steady main riff's off-shoots and the aggression of the vocals.  "Who Is This Who Is Coming" and "Even The Destroyed Things Have Been Destroyed" make up side B, following in the riff worship rituals with their own distinctive onslaughts, going wilder and more psychedelic.  It's some high-quality stuff all around, with the rough FX of the guitar blazing almost out of control in the ripping and howls, and it makes for an album to be played as loudly as you can manage.  One of the stronger contenders for album of the year so far.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Bongripper, Major Kong, JPT Scare Band, Cough, Wolf Blood


The Hard Runner...

Strauss - Luia EP (2015)

Crossing stoner metal with the toasty tones of desert rock, the British quintet of Strauss have arrived after two years with the follow-up to their self-titled debut EP, and over the course of the five tracks on Luia, the group digs deep into the sandy grooves of that crossing.  "Mud At You" slings the listener off into the music with a rattling ride of crunchy chords and indomitable percussion while the vocals let rip.
The middle tracks are all big and atmospheric, with undeniable power shown in the massive sound pulled together by the instruments.  "For All The Wrong Reasons", in particular, finds the band pushing their deep-groove plowing to the hilt, with hard bars of riffage clocking listeners right upside the head.
While the vocals do drift into hardcore mode occasionally, they don't detract too much from the experience, and generally match the rough energy of the music.  The EP hits a good pacing, though the drop-off from the end of the last track does feel abrupt, and Strauss show a willingness to challenge themselves that should serve them well on further releases.  Give it a listen if you like some punky crustiness to your desert-dried metal.
~ Gabriel

 For Fans Of;    Mastodon, Deaf Flow, Repellers, Dead Hand, Baroness


Friday, April 24, 2015

Combination Of Forms...

Flight of the Seraphim - Fire, Water, Earth, Wind (2015)

It's difficult to give a description of Flight of the Seraphim without mentioning how prolific they are, as the band released four EPs and an album in 2014.  Since their EPs are long enough to pass for albums, you can do your own math on how much time the band invests in refining its prog metal arrangements before sharing them with the world, but the point is that this band somehow arranges a ton of intricate stuff and makes it sound good.
That fine polish and giving nature are clearly still in effect on FotS' latest album, which in addition to a track for each of the title elements boasts an bonus pair of songs, "Quintessence" and "Aether".  The band does an impressive job channeling the nature of each one into the musical textures and attitudes, with the rippling ring mod and overlapping rhythms of "Water" making for some of the more evocative moments (and, of course, "Earth" gets heavy, heavy, heavy, despite being the shortest of the title tracks).
It's all handled with skill and creativity, with no sense of pretension or over-repetition to the tangles of notes and beats, and while the album fits together great on its own, the two extra tracks make for a very effective coda.  Another impressive work from Flight of the Seraphim, certainly worth investigating if you've got a taste for metal mixing heaviness with lush sounds and song-writing.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Chord, Wicked Lady, Mondo Drag, Indukti, Titan


Psychic Vacation...

Comacozer - Deloun EP (2015)

Having been around since 2013, and with a demo released last year, Australian 3-piece Comacozer have stepped up with a full studio EP mixed by Frank Attard (Mother Mars, Frozen Planet.... 1969).  First of the three tracks to be found on Deloun is "Flamens of the Highest Order", a suitably cosmic-sounding 9-minute-plus slab of circling chords, building tension and layer development as it curls tighter and grows heavier.  With this first track, the band shows a clear interest in digging past the main grooves into weirder territory, enough to mark them immediately as a crew to follow with their promise of further fuzz-loving wanderings. Of course, right after that is the ear-resting interlude of "Cosmic Hypnosis", showing that while they can pull off the meditative/dronier side of heavy psychedelic with plenty of panache, it's the more active material that really lets Comacozer cut loose.
"Nebula Dawn" makes for the last of the tracks, merging elements from both of the prior pieces into a new space-age alloy.  The psychedelic side ride rises to the top here, with guitar notes bleeding into each other as the bass bobs along under the surface and the drums kick into fiery beats.  Undoubtedly even better live, where they don't have to sacrifice their jam time, it's a solid capper to the EP and a killer intro to the band.  They'll be playing a few live shows with Holy Serpent in June, so if you happen to be in Australia looking for quality heavy music, don't miss out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Gallileous, Bomg, Mares Of Diomedes, Humbaba, Oceans Of Titan


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Beyond The Eyes...

Malka - The Constant State (2015)

Billing themselves as a band which combines audio and visual stimuli for their performances, Malka claims to have a sound "unlike any other."  While that's clearly hyperbole, especially with how much influence the music seems to draw from dreampop, the band does boast a respectable rapport between the performances of its members, and the music comes together with a clean blend of psychedelic and garage rock energies.  A focus on extended crescendos brings a bit of post-rock flavor into the mix as well, and the songs are written with plenty of ambition and complexity to earn their wings.  As just a part of what the live performances entail, it's safe to say that Malka's energy and enthusiasm will lead them to even higher levels, but they're doing quite well even this early.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Porcupine Tree, Explosions In The Sky, 3rd Ear Experience, Daisy Chainsaw, Inspiral Carpets


Sand And Slime...

Motherslug - Self-Titled (2015)

With two EPs and a number of live gigs to their name already, Australia's stoner doom quintet of Motherslug are ready to slither their way into your ears with their debut full-length, which will also serve as the first release from No Slip Records once June rolls around.  The band gets their show on the road with "Devils Rise", which mixes standard doom metal with some desert attitude and tones, with some ambush beat-downs lurking in the shadows.  That mixture of styles is maintained with some twists across the album's ride of cracked earth and open skies, and while there's nothing to knock about the vocalist's performance, the song sections in which the band just tears away on feedback and reverb do have a fun habit of stealing the show.
While I haven't yet heard the band's earlier material (something I'll soon fix), one of the most engaging parts of the music was how the band demonstrated their familiarity with each other's musical character, playing up each other's strengths without distracting from the main force of the song.  With three tracks filling each side, the album is a solid chunk of sound, and something likely to please most fans of doom metal with a slightly sun-burned vibe.  300 vinyl copies will be available from No Slip Records, though the band might have a few should you be lucky enough to catch one of their shows, so go ahead and give the band a listen before the chance to get one is out of your hands.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Attalla, Blind Samson, Hellenica, Merlin, Electric Wizard


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Curing Lagomorphic Lethargy...

Sugar Skulls & Marigolds - The Coked Out Bunnies EP (2015)

Though Sugar Skulls & Marigolds come from Colorado, they've switched out the drug usually associated with that state for another on this, their debut EP.  First of the three tracks is the one which gives the EP its name, "Coked Out Bunnies", opening things up with an energetic stoner rock blast of guitar and drums leading into noodly and slamming territory, sans vocals.  "Sludgehammer!" picks up from there, with the energy level remaining high as more psychedelically-inclined tweaks to the guitar tone begin leaking in to distort the senses.  It's a smooth slip from there into "Bleach Bitch", where the group again gets dirty with their instruments before closing with a crash.
Groove-laden and lots of fun, the band has landed some nice quick hits to announce their presence, and with a pay-what-you-want price for the ~10 minutes of music, there's no reason not to at least check it out.  The band has announced a cassette release (presumably with all three songs on both sides) and will be touring come the start of May, so stay tuned for further developments from Sugar Skulls & Marigolds as they continue building their castle of rock.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Rizoma, GRIPE, Milk Duct Tape, MC5, Queen Chief


Blooming In Darkness...

Sonance - Blackflower (2015)

Despite having been active for just a few short years, Sonance have already built up an impressive catalog, thanks to keeping quality recordings of their live performances.  Blackflower is their second full-length (following 2012's Like Ghosts), and also their first for the imprint/sister label of Holy Roar Records, newly-established Truthseeker Music.
The album begins with its longest track, "Belgium / Blackflower", building a slow and brooding atmosphere out of strings, drums, and synths, and growing more claustrophobic with each passing minute.  Harshness cracks open the calm without warning, slipping the music into a caustic sea of growls and sludgy guitar to deliver on its implicit threats, then drifting along on the reverb and feedback until the aggression overtakes it again.  It's a bold and potent opening move, but the band pulls it off well, setting up the rest of the album with options of calm or violent continuance.  Sonance strikes a balance between the two, with some sections being almost symphonic, and others delving whole-heartedly into the sludge.  As they do so, the band shows off its capabilities in a wide spectrum of performance stylings, simultaneously suggesting that they still have plenty of surprises stored away for another day.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Crowhurst, Fvnerals, The Sleer, Jesu, Sarin


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Grind House Experience

Space Probe Taurus ~ Mondo Satan (2015)

When it comes to rock music and the great land of Sweden, I've come to expect nothing but the very best, and they seem to never disappoint. Space Probe Taurus have been at it under a different name or two since way back in 1992, and stormed back on the scene this year with a follow up to their 2008 self-titled effort. Their new album "Mondo Satan" is a killer return to form, and should definitely grab some people's attention when it comes out April 28th. A hulking slab of acid soaked rock that's sure to get speakers smoking and heads banging. With being named after a 60's sci-fi flick, sounding like a continuous grind house soundtrack, and based on their album art, it's clear they dig everything awesome from that bygone era. Having listened to the entire record more than a few times now, I can confidently say there isn't a bad track, or even a mediocre track, on the whole thing. And if fuzz was a narcotic, you'd be dead after a listen, or maybe two for those of us with higher tolerances. As good as all the songs are, especially tracks like the opener "Scorpio Queen", and "Galaxy Travelin' Blues", the track "Spahn Ranch Motherfucker" is quite possibly my favorite song of the year, so far. With a high energy guitar and drum intro, it launches into a fast action acid rock song, with a riff so fuzzy you can almost feel the static electricity on it. There's no long instrumental passages, no artsy experimentation, just straight up rock and roll from the first second to the very last, as well it should be. After you get into the track a bit, towards the half way point, you're hit with howling guitar solos to go along with the shouted vocals that made their appearance not long after the intro. It goes out in a blaze of glory though, riding the main riff and chorus out to the end. Even if the official release is not until the 28th, it looks as though you can buy it directly from Ripple Music already. But if you're a fan of high octane rock, with a heavy dose of fuzz, don't miss this one. Whether you go out and snag a copy right now, or wait a while, just make sure you get it.

For Fans Of; Killer Boogie, Blue Cheer, Monster Magnet, MC5, 500ft. of Pipe

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pour Another Round

Mammoth Mammoth ~ Hammered Again (2015)

If you haven't heard of these Australians before today, then you're missing out on some of the best stoner infused hard rock going. These guys have been at it for years, and with this being their fourth full length album, they've earned their stripes. "Hammered Again" is just what it sounds like from the title, an album full of hard rock that will be the perfect soundtrack for your next keg party, bong session, or general night of debauchery. I have to say though, we won't be held responsible when your nice little get together turns into a full blown rager once you hit play. While all eleven of the songs are noteworthy, and their slightly twisted, always dirty sense of humor shines through the lyrics of every last one of them. Especially the track "Fuel Injected", where there's a line talking eating angel dust for breakfast, then microwaving the cat because that's the best way to start the day. You have to marvel in awe of Oscar Wilde wordman-ship like that, not to mention at how absolutely ridiculous it sounds. The song it's self is pretty damn far from ridiculous though, it's a head banging good time that's sure to either incite stripping or a bar brawl. They start off with a cranked up, hard rock riff that slowly starts to erode away to the stoner side of things once it gets rolling. The drums are pounding from start to finish, punching out huge rhythms in the midst of heavy riffs and a howling guitar solo. The vocalist uses his trademark vocal delivery, with just enough grit to let you know that it's coming from someone experience. I've long felt like these guys were the closest thing our generation would have to our very AC/DC, except even better, and this latest album only reiterates that thought in my mind. Like any good AC/DC album, if you can't party to this, then there's something wrong with you, not the music. You can pick up "Hammered Again" directly from the Napalm Records site. And for my fellow Americans, Napalm Records even has a pre-order up for some limited vinyl along with the CD in their US store.

 For Fans Of; Monster Magnet, Orange Goblin, The Glasspack

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Filling The Air...

JETDOG - smoke, perfume & candy (2015)

JETDOG touched down with its first album, Outer Space Is The Place (you can read what I thought of that one right here), around this time last year.  Now back with another cosmic trip, one in which the second vocalist has a more distinct presence in the mix, the fuzzy feedback fun of the last album lives on.  Early versions of smoke, perfume & candy opened with the bleary-eyed ride of "jump off", but more recently, "don't drink the kool aid" has been their starter dose.  As suggested by that song title, the subtle sense of humor is still in effect as well, giving the roar of pedal effects a warm and semi-sardonic character that helps draw the listener right into the cocoon of pulsating reverb.  If overwhelming amounts of feedback and deep grooves aren't your thing, JETDOG might not click with your tastes, but for those who are willing to surrender themselves to waves of resonance guided by one main riff each go, there's a whole lot of fun to be had.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    My Bloody Valentine, A Place To Bury Strangers, Telstar Sound Drone, Werwulf, Skullflower


A Tasty Appetizer...

Banquet - Run To You / Mother Road 7" (2015)

The first release from San Fran-based Banquet is a doozy, bleeding together late-'70s grooves with today's sort of stoner rock sensibilities to get songs that roll casually along until it gives a lurch right into hard-riding terrain.  The guitar slips around from sharp and shredded to loose and bleary, catching the edge of the drummer's hardest knocks and tearing loose from there as the bass plugs along gamely.  Meanwhile, the vocals go right for the '70s jugular, bursting forth with enough raucous energy to get the lighters in the crowd raised into the air.
They're not exactly revolutionizing heavy rock yet, but as a first release, it definitely puts the band down as one on which to keep an ear.  There's heart, they're pushing themselves hard, and the jammier moments of the two songs show a cool liquidity of interplay between the members, one which I can already imagine going into service on some ~8-minute monster.  There's shirts to be had on the band's BC page, or you can jump on a copy of the 7" over at Who Can You Trust? Records, so keep sharp for further Banquet.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    The Hunted Crows, Chiefs, Queen Chief, Black Rainbows, Crypt Trip


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Get A Fright...

JPT Scare Band - Acid Acetate Excursion / Raping of the Titan's Sirens (2015)

If you haven't heard of the JPT Scare Band before now, don't feel too out of the loop; though they formed back in the early '70s, and recorded an album around the same time, that album didn't actually get released until 20 years later.  From that point forward, they kept releasing material both old and new, with a long string of albums emerging in the '00s.  About six years ago, they formed ties to Ripple Music, and as a result of that friendly relationship, their first two albums (unavailable since the original '90s releases on Monster Records) are getting a new lease on life as a double-pack set.
First of the two is Acid Acetate Excursion, a title which gives some big clues as to the nature of the music, and the one which had to wait a couple of decades to see the light of day.  Bluesy, psychedelic, heavy, and full of attitude (so much that I saw things get rumbled right off the flat-top of my speakers a couple of times), the JPT Scare Band can take a simple riff, play around with it a little bit, and all of a sudden find themselves lost in a wall of psychedelic feedback and shoulder-deep grooves.  On the other hand, they can also start virtually tunelessly (as with "Slow Sick Shuffle", bleed together some tones, and voila!  A wild groove.
The band comes off as casually and impulsively cool, and they sometimes make it very difficult to believe that it really is a hold-over from '73, especially when they launch into pedal and amp treatment so heavy as to put today's groups in that field to shame.  That same electrifying power is still going strong in the second album, which wastes no time leaping into the deep end and getting comfortable there.  There's a few change-ups in how the approach the songs (like the inclusion of a flute in "I've Been Waiting"), but without diminishing any of the roller-coaster fun.  Still very much both of and ahead of its time, the band is damn good through and through, so don't let yourself miss out on this reissue, which you'll be able to order come April 28th.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Wicked Lady, MC5, 13th Floor Elevators, Eternal Elysium, Iron Butterfly


Devil In The Diodes...

Scindite - Scindite EP (2014)

Previously available only as a download, the debut EP from Scindite has received CD form by way of Toten Schwan Records, bringing the Polish duo's music to those who like it physical.  Kicking off with "Dum Spiro", the EP quickly manifests a spooky atmosphere, packing whispers, audio fragments, slow synth-waves, and off-beat percussion into a thick nebula of industrial unease.  The production of the atmospheres is impressive in its pains-taking care, with droning back-drops pierced by quick flickers of digitization, doom channeled through laptops and sequencers.  That might not be your bottle o' beer, but much of the intent comes across as complementary to the louder and more violent stylings of metal-formed doom.  Give it a chance, you might like what you hear!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    White Darkness, Gnaw Their Tongues, Einsturzende Neubauten, X-TG, Bhutan

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Shaking That Thing...

Fakir Thongs - Habanero (2015)

With two EPs released in the past couple of years, Fakir Thongs have stepped up to deliver a full album, and as the group gets down with their heavy rock grooves, it's clear that the practice they've put in is paying off in spades.  Not satisfied to stick with the basic blend of bass, fuzz, and '70s-rock vocals (though all of those are there, don't worry), the band also packs in some intricate rhythms, energetic shifts and break-downs, while their grooves always have some twist laying in wait to draw them up into the next one.
The proggy flavor comes through with more clarity on some tracks, such as "Seven" (which is seven minutes long, naturally), but the band's care with their song-writing is one of the album's most consistent strengths; to my ears, it never felt as though they were taking the listener's attention for granted, but that they were fighting tooth and nail to earn it.  As long as they keep up that ambitious fire, keep cooking their tracks all the way, and give the occasional tour to let people enjoy them au naturale, Fakir Thongs will be well on their way to being a main-stay of the heavy rock realm.  They're currently in the middle of touring, so if you happen to be in the Italian region, don't miss a chance to see this band live!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Kosmic Halo, Manthrass, Lucuma, Queen Crescent, Desert Suns


Something Of A Phenomenon...

Titus - White Lines 7" (2014)

Though it was released last year, this single from the Italian band Tytus is getting some extra walking time due to North American distribution by Self Destructo Records, which clued us in to the band, along with the information that they still have a few of the translucent green 7"s available.  You can also pick up the single in yellow (Ghost Highway Recordings) or purple (Kornalcielo Records), so take your pick.
The first of the two songs you'll find on it, should you pick yourself up a physical or digital copy, is "New Dawn's Eve", a piece of throw-back heavy metal which relishes the head-banging, black leather, and wizards with guitars vibes of the mid-'80s as it pounds through its paces.  Clear vocals with touches of back-up harmonizing give it a relatively clean-cut sound, balanced out by the warm-tubed bass and squiggly guitar-work, while the drummer plays his ass off.  Good old-fashioned metal, you know?
Side B, which gives the single its name, pulls in more of that early '80s rock vibe, not quite arena, not quite hard rock, but upbeat and enthusiastic, which helps give it some of that charm so essential to successful '80s heavy metal emulation.  Between the two songs, Tytus leaves a good impression, and if they seem a little rough around the edges, it's still early days.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    MACH22, Manthrass, Acid Kola Turbo, Persona, Monolith


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Birds Up Above...

Crown Larks - Blood Dancer (2015)

The Crown Larks come from that well-honored bubbling pot of musical styles known as Chicago, and here on their debut album, they show the influences they've taken from their home, along with how they've reshaped and adapted them to the band's own ends.  Opening with "Gambian Blue Wave", the sextet blend blues, psychedelic, alternative, heavy rock, and jazz into an unpredictable but always-engaging whirlwind of moods and styles, jack-knifing around the tempo range and always seeking something new to try.  As a release by a well-established band, it would be impressive enough, but as an album with only one EP preceding it, Blood Dancer makes for a jaw-dropper.  
Taking any one of the tracks out of the full line-up just doesn't do the group's range justice, given that the contrast between their off-the-walls pieces and more 'rainy day' material just benefits both sides when taken as a whole.  If you're open to musical experimentation, then go on and fly on the wild side of the skies with the Crown Larks; US residents will have plenty of opportunities to do so for the next three months or so, as the band has just kicked off a big tour in support of the album.  You can find the tour dates, along with stream, downloads, and vinyl copies of Blood Dancer, over on their BandCamp page.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Narcosatanicos, Painkiller, Planes Of Satori, Captain Beefheart, Sonny Sharrock


Hardened French Steel...

Kopper8 - Kopper8 EP (2015)

This self-titled debut from French metal band Kopper8 serves as a warm-up for the full-length from which they're already beginning to release singles, and the four tracks to be found here give a good idea of what you should be expecting from the album to come.  If the cover art for the "Requiem" single is to be taken at face value, the band has been around since 2010, hammering out their aggressive Pantera-influenced style, and the songs show the effort that's gone into them.  Pummeling rhythms, guitar with plenty of swagger, and the belted-out lyrics come together with great combo power, though I'm personally hoping that more shredding gets packed into the full album, as the usual chugging riffs can get a little stale without that splash of unrestrained energy.
While the band's decision to sing only in French may be a barrier to non-Francophonic metal-heads out there, the rhythms and hard-hitting chords are more than easily understood, bridging any cultural gap with the power of straight-up metal.  If the days of the Big Four are still fresh in your heart, check in on Kopper8's activities and get a fresh shot of metal up your ass.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Pantera, Sol Inertia, Dendritic Arbor, Necrophobic, Slayer


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

For The Freaks...

Wo Fat - Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley (2015)

Wo Fat have been kicking around for about a decade now, and the time has finally come for a non-bootleg live show album to be put out by the band.  Over the five live show tracks, the group pulls from their last four albums (sorry, fans of The Gathering Dark), then throws in a bonus studio jam at the end.  If you've heard Wo Fat's music before, you know what to expect, with the fuzz, bass, and grooves, but hearing the band lay out the massive songs live is a treat, with the rough edges only adding to the experience.  Jolting feedback twitches, sharper buzzes, and the whistles & screams of the crowd makes it easy to visualize the trio on-stage, immersed in their sounds.  As wild as it gets, Wo Fat always seem to have the music under control (at times, just barely), and the confident performance makes the transition between absorptive freak-out passages and more grounded vocal sections go just fine.
At the end of the day, if you're a stoner/desert/heavy psych rock/metal fan who isn't opposed to live albums for whatever reason, you'll want to give this one a shot.  Digital versions are for sale (currently $10) on the BandCamp page, where you also have the option of picking up a vinyl copy (of a 500-piece run), or if you're undecided, to just stream the songs until you're convinced.  Enjoy!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Sleep, Mother Mars, Electric Wizard, Weedeater, Bomg


Bubbling Back Up...

Acid Kola Turbo - EP-2 (2015)

While the cover art may look familiar if you've checked out Acid Kola Turbo's first EP (and if you haven't, you can read our review of it right here), the three tracks to be found on EP-2 are all new.  This Netherlands-based band specialized in semi-proggy psychedelic rock last time, and much of that approach has been kept for their fresh efforts, though they sound more comfortable with getting their grooves dirty now.  The drums are crisp and clear, the guitar and bass get stretched in interesting ways, and the band's experimentation with their vocals leads to some quite cool meshing effects.
Of the three tracks, I'd have to give "Millionaires" the place of personal favorite, though I can't quite explain what pushes it over the other two for me.  Something in its energy and place as EP opener just lets it leap up and race around, while the other two have a more laid-back feel to their riffing.  In any event, Acid Kola Turbo have another solid release under their belts, moving them closer (fingers crossed!) to an eventual full-length.  Warm and heavy rock, just the thing if your part of the world is starting to warm up for summer.
~ Gabriel

 For Fans Of;    Lords Of Beacon House, Vanilla Trainwreck, Supersnazz, The Escatones, Slow Season


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spent Bottles and Brass

Dopethrone ~ Hochelaga (2015)

The gargantuan stoner doom riffs that Canda's Dopethrone are known for are back with this, their third full length album, "Hochelaga". Just released yesterday, it's their first full length since 2012. "Hochelaga" is classic Dopethrone, and they're just as good as ever at what they do. And if you've never heard these guys, this is as good a place to start as any, just be prepared for the uncontrollable urge to generally cause hell after listening. Full of smothering riffs, and littered with audio samples like so many dirty syringes on a dope house floor, the album launches with the aptly titled "Sludgekicker". I say aptly titled because it's one hell of a gnarly track, opening up with one of those audio samples I just mentioned followed by a guitar intro, with the bass and drums falling in shortly after, successfully turning your bones to dust when listening at high enough volume. When all three of these come together, you end up with a roaring monster locked in your sub-woofer, a snarling speaker that's all but oozing guitar riffs, and a wild-man growling over it all about drugs, booze, and death. Although this beautifully disgusting piece of sludge metal only lasts about four minutes, it's just the first of seven crushing tracks that make up the album. While all the vinyl was already sold out by the time I wrote this, there are still CDs for sale from Totem Cat Records, or grab a digital copy off of Dopethrone's bandcamp for the low, low price of $6.66US.

For Fans Of; Electric Wizard, Bongzilla, Weedeater