Saturday, August 29, 2015

Darken The Skies...

Funerary - Starless Aeon (2015)

The new album from Funerary is a deep-sunk pit of despair, raw and jagged enough to call to mind some of the emotionalism of black metal or the harsher sort of sludge, but firmly rooted in the bass-heavy ethos of doom.  After a couple of relatively quick tracks to show what they intend to do, the band rolls out the big ones, letting themselves sink into the tarry weight of reverbed strings, slow-speed drums, and vocals that billow out like poison clouds over the decaying soundscapes.  As the darkness leaks from your speakers, flowing from one crushed dream to the next, the band shows a good control of keeping the momentum strong through such sluggish tempos, shifting their presence between withdrawn and aggressive without seeming too forced.  Those who want their doom slow and crushing will be well pleased, but those who need more of a heavy rock bent to the riffs and production will likely be turned off by the acid-etched edges.  A limited reissue run of cassettes will be out from Sentient Ruin Laboratories (along with digital copies), while Vendetta Records will be handling the vinyl.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Battle Hag, Boar Worship, Heavydeath, Tons, Trees


Friday, August 28, 2015

Sarnath, Aldebaran, and Ib...

Space Mirrors - Cosmic Horror III: Stella Polaris (2015)

With Lovecraftian references and narratives pervading the final album in their Cosmic Horror trilogy, Space Mirrors begins its 11-track run with space rock so upbeat that it brushes against power metal at times.  The energetic approach seems like an odd one for their chosen subject matter (particularly the guitar, which causes most of the power metal comparisons), but there's an injection of theatrical melancholy from the vocals that provides a touch of lurking fear.  For the first third or so of the album, the synth-work feels under-utilized for something with 'cosmic' right there in the title, but it picks up before too long for some trills, warbles, and blats, with "(A Passer) Through the Storm" as the first to really accentuate its presence (though it drifts back away after that).
Things continue to pick up from that point, thanks to heavier bass-waves appearing in the following track, "In the Blood", and the chipper attitude of the earlier tracks further diminishes (though it never fully disappears) with the following songs.  "Burning Chaplet" assumes a western-doom veneer with seeping amped strings and clean acoustic picking leading to a shredding solo, "West of Arkham" is powered by a mean run from the drums (couple with some smoky saxophone at one point), and "The Crawling Chaos" takes the position of album big-boy with an 11:11 stretch of menacing atmosphere.
"Essential Saltes of Humane Dust" completes the album's descent into heaviness, stripping off most of the ornamentation on its way down to expose the band's proficiency with straight-forward beats and riffs, and "The Master" provides the final finish in the form of a spoken word piece complemented by strange piping and synth burbles.  It's an interesting course taken by the album, and it makes for an ambitious journey through styles, but it's not without some rough patches.  All in all, something to investigate for fans of tech-inclined space rock or occult doom rock.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Artension, Bretus, Gamma Ray, Hands of Orlac, Space God Ritual


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Power And Restraint...

Wyatt E. - Mount Sinai / Aswan (2015)

While this first release from the Belgian group of Wyatt E. holds only two tracks, there's almost half an hour between the pair.  What you'll hear in that time is an adeptly experimental fusion of doom metal and post-rock, with foreboding subterranean vibrations rumbling away under it all.  While the pacing rarely revs up to 'fast' material, the drum-work does a lot to keep vibrancy alive amid the anguish of the the guitar and the tombstone tone of the bass.  Synthy effects add to the weight without stealing any focus away from the core power, and the various temperments are brought together with impressive finesse.  It's music that's best experienced with few distractions, like a captivating horror film, and the absence of vocals works well to support the otherworldly qualities that gradually grow to dominate the two tracks.  A run of cassettes provides a physical form for the music, though as it was a 50-tape pressing, their availability will be a short-term thing.  One for any fans of meditative doom or experimental heavy music.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Bell Witch, Death Cube K, Earth, Mamaleek, Sunwølf


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Poised To Strike...

Kahbra - Kahbra EP (2015)

Making their debut with this four-track EP, Kahbra are a semi-recently-formed band from the busy city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  A little controlled bleariness to the production helps play up their stoner/desert rock, but it seems like they're still trying to get a bead on how to set themselves apart from all the other modern heavy rock outfits.  Their success at pulling together classic-sounding riffs also puts them in the position of sounding just a little stale, despite the good energy they bring out in their performances.  The slower, bluesier pieces provide some of the more memorable moments, getting some high-lighting in the middle two songs, "Rattlesnakes" and "The Giant's Dream", but the shift from the stompy rock of "Drown" into these and back into it (at a slightly lower gear) for "What I Lost" at the end can be a bumpy ride.  Still, they've got good grooves, good tone, and good titles, so don't write these guys off, even if you've got little chance of seeing them tour your part of the world anytime soon.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Clutch, High Spirits, Hobo Magic, Jussipussi, Orchid


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sounds From Beyond Space

Deep Space Destructors ~ Spring Break from Space EP (2015)

The title kind of sums it up for this one. Like upbeat party rock? Like spaced out psychedelia from the depths of the cosmos? You're in the right place, this new EP from Finland's Deep Space Destructors will push all the right buttons on your control panel. Even though it's only a couple of tracks, they make for quite the celestial voyage. Cranking up with "Journey to the Space Mountain", the opener is almost of eight minutes of high energy psych rock, launching out of the gate with catchy, groove laden bass and guitar riffs. The farther you get into it, the raw vocal melodies show through, with some spacey sound effects coming through here and there. The first track keeps that same energy level for the most part, because the second track starts off much mellower, relying on some psychedelic noises, sparse drumming, and audio samples to create a psychedelic atmosphere instead of using riffs and the usual tools of the trade. While seemingly random for the majority of the time, the eleven minute track still has a mesmerizing property where you just can't turn it off. While this is far from the band's first effort, it is their first vinyl release. You can pick up colored and black copies from Sapphire Records.  It seems that this would be a great soundtrack to a bout of mind expansion too, if you're into that sort of thing.

 For Fans Of; Hawkwind, Black Sabbath, Black Space Riders

In the Mushroom Garden

Lord Vapour - Lord Vapour (2014)

 If you've heard the instrumental stoner rock outfit Brunt that stormed onto the scene over the last couple years with their debut effort through HeviSike Records, then you already know one of the lads behind the psychedelic rock project, Lord Vapour. The band uses a heavier spin on a 70's psychedelic rock sound, managing to get things a bit fuzzier and more upbeat. Things stay pretty mellow and subdued to begin with, but they keep the fuzz close by, and put down a nice big dose of it at will, often injecting it into the song with long bursts then letting it fall back a bit. Of the three tracks on the EP, the middle child "In the Valley of Stars" was a favorite. Kicking off with a slightly fuzzed bass line, it takes a few moments for the droning guitar to make an appearance, followed after a bit by pounding drum rhythms with the raw and organic vocal performance popping up soon after that. The song carries on like that for about half of the six minute duration, until after the halfway point the guitar goes rogue for a minute or so before the whole band drops back in to end the track with a high energy jam session. This is an excellent debut effort for the band, it'll be interesting to see what they follow it up with.

 For Fans Of; Black Rainbows, Dozer, Greenleaf

Monday, August 24, 2015

They Came From the North

Curse of the North ~ Curse of the North: I (2015)

Oh, you haven't heard of these guys yet? Well, time to for your daily dose of learning. Picking up from the ashes of a couple now defunct bands like 3 Inches of Blood. Curse of the North offers their sacrifices in the form of some massive sounding doom metal. There's a little something for just about any doom fan, some retro guitar work for all of the people who dig that classic 70's doom metal vibe. You have darker, more intricate arrangements for all of those modern doom purists that are out there. Opening up with the single “Sleep While You Can”, it demonstrates the more traditional side of doom metal that they operate in, but still with that strictly Curse of the North style filter firmly in place. Opening up with loud and thick drumming, that's quickly joined by some ringing bass notes, some raw but dynamic vocals drop in behind that, with the crunchy guitar sound making its appearance last. This carries on until a little bit before halfway when a scorching guitar solo starts up and carries the song to a new level. Heading off in a new direction, picking momentum and riding it out like a stampeding war horse. The further you dig into the new album the more you'll see their balance of styles and directions put on display, but the opener is a good crash course for the uninitiated. It'll still be a while until October 23 when the album is released on Static Tension Records. 
 For Fans Of; Black Sabbath, Grand Magnus, Demon Head


Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Loved Dead...

Neh Czneg / EGB / Anji Cheung - Neh Czneg / EGB / Anji Cheung (2014)

I was tempted to begin this review by talking about how three-way splits are usually more of a gamble in coherence than the standard double-up splits, but that would have been an exercise in irrelevance, as unlike most releases by three different artists bonded by a record label (in this case, Droning Earth Records), this is a set of collaborations instead of a jumble of individual efforts.  Further adding to the curiosity factor is how all three tracks ("Lurking Fear", "Madness from the Sea", and "Horror in Clay") take a Lovecraftian phrase or story title for their name, and then attempt to actually channel some of that atmosphere into the sonic environments instead of just name-dropping as a lure or slathering it on as superficial cosmetics.  The moody doom goes right down to the bones for these pieces, which take the tack of building around feedback, drones, and indistinct noises (whispers and such) for their nocturnal excursions, with some infrequent and electronically-shredded vocals as the only human element.  If you want to sit down and just have some dark sound-waves to engulf you, it's a treat, but those looking for steady beats and distinct riffs will likely find it more than a little off-putting.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Dead Machines, Gnaw Your Tongues, Sunn O))), Sutekh Hexen, Wicked King Wicker


Friday, August 21, 2015

Far-Off Warmth...

Abandoned Dreams - Home EP (2015)

The release of this EP marks a new chapter for the German band of Abandoned Dreams, as it's their first without founding member 'Liesa,' who parted ways after the release of Isolation and Solitude towards the end of 2013.  Working as a trio now, with the standard bass/drums/guitar/vocals arrangement, it feels a bit like this EP is their way of figuring out their new dynamic, though any uncertainty they might have is well-hidden.  First of the three lengthy pieces is the title track, which starts up with a jaunty, almost post-punkish riff from the guitar, using palm-muting or some similar technique to give it a chopped style like a worn-out music box before shifting back into more traditional metal as they expand that initial melody, and the rest of the track follows solid exploration through its paces on into the rest of the EP.
A thick treatment of drums and cymbals, along with the bass' steady grounding, keeps things heavy in "Keep the Lights Burning" while the vocals provide expression of the melancholy mood; things get emotional, but not to the point of weepiness, and towards the end the music swells into a wintry sort of grandeur before handing things over to the closing track.  The most striking initial impression of "Embrace" is the way it tempers a funereal atmosphere with a percussive side more lively than that genre usually gets to employ.  The guitar and bass are clean in tone, but bring an effective sadness out in their sliding notes, and when the vocals emerge (about 4 minutes in) there's enough of a precedent set for their emotional bent that it comes off as natural and unforced, particularly as it lets the strings segue into harder and faster forms, nodding to the group's blackened past works.  All together, the three songs represent the group's new line-up quite well, and it's certainly worth checking out if you want your doom cold and frosty.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Bell Witch, Candlemass, Pallbearer, Sunwølf, Thergothon


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Troubled Behavior...

Deaf Horse - House of Correction (2015)

The latest record to emerge from this UK quartet's minds plays in the realm of grungy hard rock, though they have more fun and creativity with it than that short description might lead you to assume.  Though it rarely gets to be too on-the-nose, you can hear how the band also draws influence from blues, psych, a little post-punk, and even some pop (very lightly used, but evidenced in the catchy hooks and choruses).  If you want metal, they've got that too, but blended in so thoroughly that it might bypass the ears of purists until an especially wicked jab catches them unawares.  Hearing the band's handling of energy is an interesting side to the album in itself, with harder pieces such as the bass slamming and buzzing in "White Lies" or the grinding riff of "Lose Your Head" easily shifting into activity less feverish but just as riled-up, and exploding after appropriate intervals back into the beatings.
There's also a good sense of humor to the band's style, which helps provide balance to the frequently depressive lyrics.  Bright cuts of guitar or a particularly over-the-top patter of hits from the drums are just a couple of ways in which that cheekiness is handled on the instrumental side, while the vocals have a persistent sardonicism that manages to keep him grounded (for the most part) even at his highest pitches.  It's a record that hits a strong stride after doing some establishing work, then kicks along with deepening character right through to the end.  "Stronger Than You" provides a solid closer with enough of a trail to leave you pining for more, and the album as a whole comes together with panache and precision.  If alt-flavored grunge or inventive rock in general is something you crave, get yourself a copy.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Alice In Chains, Iggy & The Stooges, King Dude, Nick Cave, early Toadies


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dirty Doom Drippings...

Goat Bong - Drudge, Dregs & Degradation EP (2015)

This new EP from one-man band Goat Bong lashes out with a quarter-hour's worth of fuzzy heavy stoner psych with a slight lo-fi rasp.  Though the drums stick out a bit in the mixing, the three tracks are a fun chomp of black-light Halloween attitude.  Going fully instrumental puts a better focus on the atmosphere, which gets plenty of thoughtful touches to liven up the zombified mind-set; a personal favorite was the organ-set keyboard in "A Spire in the Mist", though the scraping chains and tolling bell at the out-set of "Onward Strides the Mammoth" were close contenders.
It's kind of like White Zombie with the thrash, samples, and need to be the center of attention bled out, leaving behind a lean and mean spook-house metal machine with some shredded flesh still hanging.  A good entry-point to Goat Bong (go ahead and pick up their album Goat Worship & Sodomy if this is where you're starting) and a tasty way to whet your appetite if you're already a fan.  And remember, there's nothing stopping you from lighting up a Jack-o'-lantern or hanging up a skeleton whenever you feel like it, so if the music moves you to do so...
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Acid Witch, DopeRider, Gallileous, Livid, Weed Priest


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Preaching to the Choir

OneofYou ~ ReEducation (2015)

OneofYou is a couple of Kansas guys that put on display distorted and aggressive blues riffs, stoner sensibilities, add to that with catchy melodies and vocals that occasionally have a political or social message in their delivery. It's nothing too overbearing or extreme though, because if you're like me, some band yelling at me about all of their opinions just doesn't do it for you. As the band says, this is a concept album made to parallel their everyday lives. So instead of preaching to you, when they put their thoughts out there, it's always something the largest majority of human beings, can get behind and understand. Getting to the music though, my standout for the album was the forth song called "Governor's Noose". Leading off with a sample of some preacher crying out against the dangers of rock and roll, it doesn't take long for a straight forward drum rhythm to pick up the beat, kicking off what can best be described as a punk rock version of the blues. Falling in behind the drums, the guitar is thick and crunchy but turns into a low howl over different points of the track. After an upbeat first half, the song begins to wind down, the last quarter of it is spent in a controlled chaos of swirling guitar notes and drum strikes. What is easily the most outspoken album I've heard this year is probably also one of the infectious, with certain songs that are quick to get under your skin and stay there. Offered up as a "name your price" deal on bandcamp, it'd be hard to say no once you hear it.

 For Fans Of; Midnight Ghost Train, The Phuss, Jackson Firebird

Monday, August 17, 2015

Play Slow, Die Fat

Waft ~ Chronolith (2015)

I've been waiting a long time to bring all of you this review. Pretty much since I walked in on the middle of their live set for the first time and instantly noticed my rib cage rattling around in my chest. I first mentioned them in my Rising Sons article a while back, but they are well worth revisiting with the release of their debut LP "Chronolith". Six pummeling tracks of sludge tainted stoner doom metal later, and you're a changed person, the kind of changes that coincide with being hit in the stomach by a three ton hammer. Opening things up with the raucous bout of "Eternal Sigh", which is a five minute exercise in despair. Starting off slow, and even dropping down to the pace of a geological process at one point, it soon gives way to a torrential flood of pulverizing drums, with a charging bass line and hectic guitar riffing. It's not content to end there though, finding a happy medium in the mid-tempo area, they fall into a sludgy groove that's suitable for stomping the skulls of your enemies. Digging into the album a little farther and you come across a personal favorite called "Southern Sky", and as the band so aptly puts it, the song is about being southern as fuck. After a few droning guitar notes, plus some loud and round drumming, things kick off into a pounding groove, with a southern flair in the guitar riff, and snarling vocals that could almost of come from a rabid dog. Being the shortest track on the album, it is a bruiser with an unmistakable Bongzilla vibe. By the end of the three minutes it's almost like you can feel that hot summer sun beating down on you. The entire album has a raw and gritty feel, like you're standing in a grimy dive bar watching them play in person. But, if you like your doom metal heavily stoned and drunk as a skunk, you'll love Waft. Plus, they made it a "name your price" deal on bandcamp, that's as good as they come.

For Fans Of; Weedeater, Cough, Dopethrone, Electric Wizard, High on Fire

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Grown To Fruition...

DoctoR DooM - This Seed We Have Sown (2015)

After an EP and a couple of singles, DoctoR DooM have finally put out their first full LP, and from the sounds of it, the time spent in development was nowhere close to being in vain.  Heavy rock with some desert and blues streaks rules the day, with a warm smokiness curling through the songs and over the riffs.  While they're not bringing anything revolutionary to the table in their handling of heavy rock, the band ties it all together with a friendly style and cruising momentum for something that steps above the individual pieces.  Sidling along from one casual groove to the next, DRDM feel as though they're aiming for fun without an overabundance of flash, with the mixing keeping the slow-baked warmth crisp and clear while the band pulls one trick after another from their bag of ideas.  It's a fun ride while it lasts, and one with a smooth enough flow to allow and encourage letting it just play again, so if you're looking for something to help you through the dog days of summer, give this one a try and see how it makes the hours melt away.  CDs and downloads are available through Ripple Records, with an STB Records vinyl release to materialize soon, so pick your format poison and start chugging.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Black Mountain, Demon Head, The Heavy Co., Kadavar, Spiral Shades


Friday, August 14, 2015

Davy Jones' Jams...

Seagrave - Dead Demo (2015)

Philadelphia's quintet of Seagrave are just starting out on their voyage, and with the four-pack of tracks included on this demo, they sketch out a rough draft of their intended destination.  First of the four is "Blood Angels", which brings kind of an updated '70s heavy rock approach out of the gate, with ballsy attitude in the vocals and straight-forward riffing.  "Through the Lions Eye" tweaks the guitar-work for a harder edge, but keeps most of the other elements in place; there's also a sense of expanded acoustics thanks to some soaring guitar touches.  In "Laying With Snakes", things get a little bit bluesier, but not enough to really set it apart, as the tempo and delivery mainly stay the same.  "Riders" goes a little further with that blues influence, and feels like the most experimental of the lot, but it can't seem to stop itself from shifting back into standard between the slower bits.
Seagrave's biggest issue so far is that there's not enough of their own style coming through in the songs to distinguish them from all the other throw-back heavy rock acts that keep bubbling up these days.  There's also the way that their name feels unattached to their music, as there's not much of death, wateriness, or doom to be heard so far; something like 'Stone Altar' would be a better fit.  But aside from those points of complaint, they seem to be having a good time making their music, and it does have good energy carrying along its yester-year sound, so if you want more retro heavy rock, they'll happily do it for you.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Clutch, Father Sky, Orchid, Pentagram, Queens of the Stone Age


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ready To Cook...

Tuna de Tierra - EPisode I: Pilot (2015)

'Italian desert rock' may not be a phrase you hear that often (unless you're actively looking for it), but this debut EP from Tuna de Tierra ('tuna of the land', playing off of 'chicken of the sea'?) goes a way towards adjusting that probability with its three tracks.  Aiming for a more sedate and less 'brains cooked by the sun' mood with the chunky grooves, the music (especially opening track "Red Sun") can make you feel like a lizard who's managed to scuttle his way into some shade at high noon while everything else is rushing about the sands (assuming you're willing to take the 'desert' part of desert rock that literally).

With a very solid mesh of the three-piece's instruments and guitarist Alessio De Cicco's vocals, the songs get a strong flow going from which it's hard to extract yourself; just the way you want the tease of a first EP to work.  Closing things with a relatively quick track (one with caravan-like hand-drums put into play) after the big first two reinforces that lure, giving this a hefty amount of replay resilience so you can soak up the heat without a care.  Going by this admirable start, Tuna de Tierra should have plenty of ears attuned for their further musical explorations.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Chiefs, Desert Suns, Fuzz Evil, The Heavy Co., Red Scalp


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sparks And Heat...

Livid - Demo 2015 (2015)

The musical output of Minneapolis is probably best-known for its more rock-oriented leanings (hard to avoid when you're the home-town of Prince), but the debut demo from that fine city's new trio of Livid shows a more metallic side to MPLS, and it's a compelling one indeed.  The three-piece splits their ~25-minute track "Sint" into two parts for easier digestion, with the first big bite rumbling into action on the back of throbbing low-end strings and fleshed-out percussion.  When the vocals do arrive, it's with a disarming cleanliness and strong projection, giving a nod to doom practices of the past without being too dogmatic about it, and there's an interesting interaction between their semi-hallowed presence and the dirtier bass vibrations.  There's also a pleasing amount of thoughtfulness in how the song proceeds, with the melodies curling into new directions without losing the original thread, and the atmosphere growing larger and more pressurized as it continues.
With a cool blaze of feedback leading into the second half and its opening revival of toothy guitar, the band refocuses and leads a new attack.  I have to say, the guitar lines in part two hook my ears more firmly than the slow burn of the first, but then again, it works so well because of the way the band builds up to it.  For a band not yet to their first 'real' release, they've got a firm bead on what they want to pull off, and they do it with plenty of style.  Check them out, and keep your ears peeled for more to come from Livid.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Blood Farmers, Brume, Dopelord, Electric Wizard, Heavydeath


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Right Out of the Blue

Brain Pyramid ~ Magnetosphere (2015)

 Now out of Spain instead of France, Brain Pyramid have put out their first release from their new home base. "Magnetosphere" is made up of three tracks, two of which are improvised jam sessions. Using these extended jams really gives the album an organic feel, letting you catch something new in the music every time you listen to it. The title track kicks things off, and at more than twenty-five minutes, it's clearly one of those improvised jam sessions. Opening up with an audio sample, it slowly builds from some faint guitar lines and slow drum rhythms and eventually turns into an acid soaked space voyage by the times things wind down. The other improvised track "Solar Winds" follows right behind that, with an eight and a half minute run time, it's another instrumental stoner rock jam, but without all the drawn out sounds and psychedelia. Kicking off with a blast of fuzzed out blues riffing, things get off to a roaring start and doesn't slow down a bit until the end. The release date is still a ways off, not until November 1st, so there isn't a ton of information out there about it yet. But if you're into instrumental psych jams, this will be one to watch out for over the next couple months.

For Fans Of; Earthless, Frozen Planet....1969, Jimi Hendrix


Monday, August 10, 2015

In the Dead of Night

Bison Machine ~ Hoarfrost (2015)


Another stellar release from the people over at Kozmik Artifactz is the latest album from Bison Machine. "Hoarfrost" reminds me of 70's hard rock attitude with a nice, heaping dose of modern day fuzzed out, stoner tones in the mix. There isn't really anything new offered here, nothing experimental and overly complicated. Just straight from the gut, pounding rock and roll music with as much soul, as groove engrained in it. I really became enthralled with the second song on the album, "Old Moon". Opening up with a ringing guitar note, and building drum rolls, it isn't long before the guitar takes over for a minute before things mellow out. Once this happens, a raw, but airy vocal performance takes center stage, with the tranquility only being broken by hairy, distorted tone coming from the guitar riff. The song follows this series of high energy peaks, mixed with the slower, more subdued valleys of sound over the six and half minute duration. Once past the half way point though, things begin picking up momentum and doesn't look back until quickly dropping off at the end of the track. This is the track that stuck with me, but when put in it's proper place on the album, the entire thing turns into one big slab of perfectly executed stoner rock. For the sake of your pockets when it comes to those shipping charges, people in the US can grab their vinyl directly from Bison Machine's bandcamp (where the digital version is name your price), while you fine European folks can pick it from Kozmik Artifact

For Fans Of; Greenleaf, The Sword, Dozer


Saturday, August 08, 2015

Hurtling Through The Cosmos...

Axis Orbit - Axis Orbit (2015)

After their excellent debut EP last year, Axis Orbit (who seem to have dropped the / from their name) are back with a full LP of their spacy heavy psych rock, with some tracks from the EP given a polished reworking for inclusion.  They start off with "Hazy", a suitably smooth glide into smoky sound to establish the album's attitude, then float off into the rest of the album, with a diverse character set by song titles such as "I Can't Feel a Thing", "In the Summer", and "You Were a Friend of Mine".  Bleary fuzzings from the guitar and gut-level throbbings from the bass melt together with cracks from the drums to stave off the grogginess that could easily be induced by such heady material, but it's not all manic reverb.  Some bluesy soulfulness comes through at times (as in the previously-mentioned "I Can't Feel a Thing"), with the strings switching to sweetness until "Riot Canal" flows in to burn things down.
The music takes something of an acid western turn in the album's second half, with cleaner guitar popping up (maybe most notably in the just-barely-restrained vibes of "The Owl") and a more sentimental attitude taking over the riffing, noodling, and vocal stylings.  It helps build a strong sense of AO's creative depth, and handily blows up any misconceptions that they might be just another heavy psych band.  Not to say they can't do that when they want to, as the low-tone down-tempo moodiness of closing track "Infidel" emphasizes, but there's certainly more than the usual to be found in this spacy cycle.  A run of 300 vinyl copies is available through Nasoni Records (or directly from the band, with a bonus T-shirt), so if you've been looking around for some deep musical musings for repeated ear-dives, get on this.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Brain Pyramid, Groggy, Merlin, Snake Thursday, Tuber


Friday, August 07, 2015

Dirty, Dangerous, Deranged...

DopeRider - DEMO (2015)

"Drugged Up Demonoid", the first of the two tracks on the New Jersey-based DopeRider's debut demo, is a ~15-minute stretch of sonic perversions steeped in stoner doom ritual, with the buzz of the recording folding neatly into the fuzz of the bass.  Blasting amplification on the vocals (and everything else that can be wired into it), the DR three-piece rumbles through the track like a moss-covered tank, shaking and hissing out black soot, but pressing on with determination.  There's no shortage of fire in their bellies as they bring the noise, and I was half-expecting to hear an Evil Dead chainsaw rev to life at any moment, especially after the cherry-picked Frankenstein sample that opens up the demo.  Instead, I was hit with a head-spinning wave of truly heavy psychedelic inventiveness, as DR rips into a combo of hot-line guitar, wall-o-sound bass, and drumming with some real violence behind it for an long cut of the song before dissolving into a pit of acid distortion.
"Fractal Resin" serves as the rest of the band's opening salvo, with a well-executed chain of feedback leading into its more concisely demonic form.  The sense of friendliness is cooked off into vapor, leaving a potent concentration of menace behind.  Whether taken on the standards of a demo or a full EP, DopeRider have dropped a damn strong start with these two songs, one that can leave you just sitting there feeling vaguely stunned once it's over (assuming you had the volume up to proper levels, of course).  I'm not sure which track to include as our streaming example, as they cover such different ground, so today you get the whole release.  Keep an ear on this crew.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Cough, Green Druid, Heavydeath, Toke, Wizard Cult


Thursday, August 06, 2015

Shades Of The Past...

Eternal Black - Eternal Black EP (2015)

Birthing their doom in Brooklyn, the trio of Eternal Black and their self-titled debut EP make a good impression by reaching back to the '70s for their primary influences.  Issued by the band's own Obsidian Sky Records label (a name shared by the EP's first track), Eternal Black delves into sluggish riffing and deliberate intonations of the lyrics, with pleasingly grimy-sounding bass and measured drum-beats to keep things on track.  Some minor occult flavor adds an extra sheen to the bluesy heavy metal focus of "The Dead Die Hard", while "Armageddon's Embrace" goes a little harder with the riffs and lines ("Raining blood in the sewers / Demons howl in the rectory") for its finish.  Fans of '70s doom will find honest and earnest homage here, with enough proficiency in putting the songs together to stick in the ears and leave a good impression.  Get out a beat-up black leather jacket, burn some incense, and turn it up.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    English Dogs, Iron Man, The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight, Pentagram, Saint Vitus


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Get Your Boots...

Ainriail - Rural Sludge EP (2015)

This four-track EP marks the arrival of the Irish stoner sludge duo Ainriail, a pair who put their bass, drums, and voices to work with strong style.  Stepping past the usual sludge expectations to reach for something more, the duo move for heavy psych-like gnarls of bass riffing and intricate rhythms while their kicking nastiness splatters sludgy rawness all over the doomy inclinations.  In addition to in-the-moment finesse, Ainriail put together a cool flow for the EP, handling the energy arc and arrangement depth from song to song with excellent care.  "Rise" starts things with a hard punch, beating your ears up before springing the moody thoughtfulness of "Wasteland", then the post-punkish crawl and blatting bass hit explosions of "We Move Slow".  Finally, "Othering" pulls styles from everything else (plus some well-integrated tambourine) and spins it into a new set of shapes for your listening pleasure.  A hell of an introduction, Rural Sludge sets Ainriail up as a band to follow for fans of heavy music with an eagerness to experiment.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Blind Samson, Hijo de la Tormenta, Kalamata, Mares of Diomedes, Sunken


Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The Silver Surfer Theme

Pangalactic ~ Pangalactic EP (2015)

There's all sorts of genre labels you could stick on this band's debut effort, but for our purposes today, Pangalactic have created three tracks of instrumental psychedelic rock, from outer space. Somewhere out there is a planet with a few stoned creatures recording this music, and it just gets sent here with a Connecticut stamp on it to confuse all of us. It's obviously the idea they're going for though, with the lead off track being called "Re-entry Blues", which is probably my favorite of the three. After a hypnotic bass part, and some ringing guitar notes that sound like radar pings, things get kicked off with high tempo, twangy surf rock styled riffing, mixed with psych bass grooves and some smooth, jazz influenced drumming. Around the three and a half minute mark things take their first left turn into deep space while slowing things down a bit. It doesn't last very long though, and it quickly resumes the swinging rock riffs that really got things going. The next track follows a similar template, but the last one "Gilgamesh" comes out of left field with tribal chanting that sounds like it could of been something out of "Cannibal Holocaust". If you're into any sort of space, psychedelic, or post-rock this EP is worth checking out, and being "name your price" you can't go wrong.

For Fans Of; Pink Floyd, Frozen Planet....1969, Jupiter Zeus

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Through Smoke and Darkness...

Bretus / Black Capricorn
~ Split (2015)

One of the meanest splits so far this year, two Italian heavy weights cut loose with both barrels for a pairing surely made in the backroom at some virgin sacrifice no one knows about. First up on the album is Bretus with their track "Haunter of the Dark", a six and a half minute trudging doom opus that's not quite equal parts Black Sabbath and Type O Negative. After opening with some thunder and church bells, a snarling riff starts up and huge vocals make their presence felt, things meld and solidify more as slightly harsher vocals make their appearance well into the song. If you're familiar with their work, this one won't let you down. The flip side is all about Black Capricorn's crushing doom metal sound that they've made their name on. Droning riffs that drag themselves along to the pounding drum rhythms, with the only reprieve being a howling guitar solo in the second half. All of this with deep, powerful vocals presiding over the whole thing. Definitely the grittier of the two bands, they offer the perfect contrast to the relatively cleaner sound from Bretus. While it took a little looking to find a place to buy the split, it looks like you can grab it from the record label Arcane Tapes here.

For Fans Of; Pilgrim, Saint Vitus, Merlin


Monday, August 03, 2015

Time to Catch Up...

Valley of the Sun ~ Sayings of the Seers re-issue (2015)

 Another overlooked gem from a few years ago that's making the rounds again is Valley of the Sun's 2011 effort "The Sayings of the Seers". This time on Kozmik Artifactz, and with a couple of extra tracks including a great acoustic version of "Riding the Dunes". With the album not only consisting of punchy, distortion driven riffs, the farther you get into it, the more mellow  guitar work starts to show through. Add in the drums that roll in like low hanging storm clouds, it's a solid piece of heavy rock with some subtle grunge influences making their presense felt here and there over the duration. My favorite on this has been the original version of "Riding the Dunes", with thick, slightly sludgy riffs, and a grungy vocal delivery, it's one of the heavier tracks on the album, with an undeniable groove. The acoustic version would obviously lack some of the same intensity, but the nuances and overall tone of the song change a little bit and you have an equally good but polar opposite version from what you started with. You can grab the vinyl version directly from the Kozmik Artifactz webstore, or if you just want a digital version to keep with you, check out the Valley of the Sun bandcamp.

For Fans Of; Truckfighters, Alice In Chains, Priestess


Saturday, August 01, 2015

The Full Initiation...

Wizard Cult - Meteorites, Tektites, & Impactites (2015)

Wizard Cult's been kicking around for a few years, but this release marks their first LP effort, one with a decidedly lo-fi presentation.  Not to say that the quiet mixing and thickened acoustics detract from the experience, but if you're someone who needs major-label-level production, you probably won't be able to take too much of the album.  Those who are OK with the murkiness will find a breed of doom that embraces fat-tubed feedback for some excellent experiments in stony psychedelic fusion.  The yelling of the vocals provides a counter-point of punchiness to keep a grounding in the material realm, an important touch with songs including not only "Doom-God", but also both "Goat Demon" and "Goat Demons" back-to-back.  Those last two might as well have been one big two-part track, as the keening guitar at the end of the first howls right back into place after the short silence between them, but the split is probably convenient for live-show considerations.
Over the course of the four tracks, it feels as though every time the trio let their minds drift away to explore the wide-ranging spaciness in the psych side of their music, they're ready with a mean club-swing of doom to knock out anyone whose guard got lowered by the siren call of the whammy pedal.  The abrupt drop at the very end is another nice technique from the band, as anybody being carried along in the slow-flowing doom by that point will have little else to listen to for more.  Then again, maybe it was a genuine bit of roughness from the recording work.  Either way, Wizard Cult have put a a very solid debut, one that, despite the sound quality, just works.  And slams.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Bomg, Gallileous, Heavydeath, Hypnochron, Mudbath