Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Circling 'Round Again...

Vintage Cucumber - Ufo Freunde EP (2015)

Our last visit from Vintage Cucumber came in the form of their split with The Holy Cosmos back in March, but now they're back with a solo EP packing a half-hour and change, and their krauty spin on spacy psych rock is in fine form once again.  Sparkling guitar tones and deep-groove bass provide the more fluid side of the songs, while the drummer gets to show off a nice range of style in heating up and cooling down the songs as needed.  
While the band can rip right ahead on a high-speed tear, they've also got some cool style with the slower and more expansive stuff ("Mondfinger" is the go-to track for that on this EP, though the pressure-cooker of "Super Fabel" is just as satisfying).  The variety brought to the table by Vintage Cucumber for this EP gives it some strong replay value, particularly with the challenge of trying to keep from being pulled away into the wide-sky brain-space the band conjures up so well.  All in all, excellent stuff.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Axis/Orbit, Gallileous, Mondo Drag, Snake Thursday, Telstar Sound Drone


Monday, September 28, 2015

To the Depths of Depression

My Life's Despair ~ Invoked with Passion and Pain (2015)

We don't get sent a ton of gothic doom metal around here, and even less is worth reviewing. That's why I when I gave the new album from My Life's Despair a listen, it was a rather pleasant surprise. Being just a two man project from southern California, they duo take elements from black and death metal, then intertwine it seamlessly into what you'd normally consider gothic doom. The album's forth track is a prime example, after a keyboard intro some spoken vocals and a guitar part drops in before things slow down again. Once that happens it takes a few moments for a thick guitar track starts in, and the raw, black metal styled vocals make their first appearance. After a short interlude the screamed vocals are given some contrast with a pristine female vocal track. While this is going on, the arrangement is filled with ripping guitar sections and some crashing blast beats. Around the half way point the song takes another turn, slowing down with the piano reemerging and taking over the spot light until the vocals come back in. That carries the song through the last couple minutes of its duration. If you have fond memories of the 90's gothic doom scene, My Life's Despair is worth looking into for nostalgia's sake if nothing else. You can pick up your digital versions through iTunes, or physical copies here.

For Fans Of; My Dying Bride, Draconian, Tiamat

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bold New Day...

Arrakis - Ammu Dia (2015)

Hailing from the smokier regions of Greece, this three-piece is making with their first LP after figuring things out on a couple of demos and an EP.  Sprawling out to an hour's worth of heavy psych treats, Arrakis dig into deep grooves and twisting trips with strong performances from each of the members.  Nimble percussion (with some really nice use of the cymbals), rough'n'fuzzy guitar that spreads out colorful arrangements, and a bass to practically bounce you out of your seat come together strongly, mixing together bright sunbursts and doomy somberness with clever ideas and some kicking viciousness when they need it.
It's a great performance, and a hell of a first album.  There's some great variety to be found in Arrakis' deep dives, leisurely cruises, and frenzied freak-outs, though listeners who've just gotta have some vocals to connect them to the songs will sadly be left out in the cold.  One of the better heavy psych records to emerge so far in 2015, I wouldn't be surprised at all to find this on a number of year-end top pick lists.  Do yourself a favor and grab a copy before then if you like heavy psych rock or wild stoner metal.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Blacksmoker, DopeRider, Gallileous, Tuber, Wizard Cult


Friday, September 25, 2015

Wrecks And Strays...

AHAB - The Boats Of The Glen Carrig (2015)

The much-anticipated new release from the quartet of AHAB has finally landed, holding five tracks (only one under ten minutes) in its cargo.  From the start (well, after a little calm to build atmosphere), the band shows a thunderous power, shot through with veins of colder menace, and the shifting from one to the other and back again leads to some interesting effects.  As usual with this crew, the setting is nautical, which they emphasize with waves of feedback, curling melodies, and percussion that crests and break against the rest of the strident elements.  The band pulls together an impressively unified front, letting each member get some spot-light, but generally keeping things near-equally divided in the work-load.
The wailing strains of the guitar against harder crunch made for some of the most hair-raising moments in the album's run for me, but the whole thing has a professional standard to which it holds itself.  If you're not already one of the many who've ordered a copy, it makes for a nice entry point to the band's catalog, and for those who've enjoyed AHAB's previous releases, there's little here to make you regret sticking with them.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Attalla, Crowskin, Hooded Menace, Ramesses, Sea Bastard


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Staves And Suffering...

Dimaension X - Plagues Of Ægyptus (2015)

To call this album atmospheric would be an understatement.  Built on the ten Biblical plagues of Egypt as a conceptual base, the hour-long invocation layers elements of tribal music, some death metal, drone, and more over the doom metal foundation, crafting something distinctive and effective at causing goosebumps to crawl over your skin.  Lice, frogs, flies, and all the rest of the curses are given their dues with escalating pressure and tension, driven by recitations from the corresponding passages.  The biggest problem in the album is that "Death of the Firstborn" finishes without much fanfare or crescendo, making it underwhelming after the enjoyable journey through the preceding songs.  That aside, there's a lot of good work at play in the album, and its release under Creative Commons might garner forgiveness from some listeners.  So if you've been looking for some real 'wrath of God' type music lately, go on and give this a try.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Ak'chamel, Demon Hunter, Flight of the Seraphim, Isis, Samael


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Traveling Rough Terrain...

Decasia - Decasia EP (2015)

This EP marks the first full release from France's trio of Decasia, and through the 30+ minutes of heavy, jammy, and heated grooves, the band gets cracking with memorably cool style.  Playing with a good amount of familiarity, but with enough roughness to keep their desert/stoner style sounding authentic, the group rides through the songs at high and low speeds, knotting together cool stretches of twisting highway music while showing the ways in which they might grow on future releases.  They infuse the old combo of bass/drums/guitar & vocals with some fire of their own, and the results are ideal for playing at high volume to while away the last days of summer.  There's a little bit of Red Hot Chili Peppers flavor to the last track, "Dive", but the ratio of that to the rougher stuff is at the right level to keep it enjoyable.  All in all, definitely one for fans of desert and stoner rock to load into their ears and stay tuned for more.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Fuzz Evil, The Heavy Co., The Hunted Crows, Monobrow, Queen Chief


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

First Year Veterans

Simon Magus ~ The First Year of Catastrophe (2015)

Because I can never pass up exceptional doom metal, I'm going to introduce you to the debut album from Simon Magnus. Starting off life as a group of musicians looking to do a little something outside their comfort zone, it's mostly a studio band. Listening to even just the first track, you'll never get the impression that this was ever out of anyone's comfort zone. Masterful grooves mixed with punchy, heavy guitar riffs creates one of the best Sabbath styled doom albums this year. I've seen favorite tracks from this album so varied, I venture to say that they've all been picked at least once. For me it was "The Dying King", sitting at number four it's really the first slowed down track on the album, drawing from Saint Vitus as opposed to Black Sabbath for this one. Starting off at a crawling pace, the only deviations aside from the melodic vocals are the screaming guitar parts that add some spice here and there in the otherwise plodding tempo. In the second half it seems like the vocals take a small step back and the guitar plays a bigger role than it was. It seems like a small deviation, but it has a large effect on the tone of the track itself. And if you like the band Sasquatch, you'll love the song after it called "In League With Suffering". With the vocals taking a slightly different dynamic, and the tempo getting jacked up a little bit, it comes out a left field a little bit on you. Even with that, it still flows perfectly and is the perfect track to get you out of the slowed down haze of "The Dying King". You can pick up your digital copies on bandcamp, with no word on any physical copies yet, but you should pick it up all the same.

 For Fans Of; Trouble, Saint Vitus, Alice In Chains

Monday, September 21, 2015

Across the Horizon

Red Mountains ~ Down With the Sun (2015)

 I discussed my opinion of this band's single "Sun" a little while back, and I'm happy to report back that their debut album "Down With the Sun" lives up to the high expectations I had for it. As bad as I hate when things don't live up to expectations, it's moments like this that I love. Red Mountains have come back with a chunk sublime stoner rock that will rival most anything you've heard this year. The opener "Six Hands" blew me away with their seamless melding of stoner rock with some grungy and even pop-ish sounding influences, giving it a dark tone, but still able to keep things catchy to a certain extent. One of those songs that seems a bit infectious the very first time you listen to it, then later on you find yourself still listening, as you've been hitting the back button every time it ends. It opens up with a bruising guitar riff before slowing down some shortly after, with a slow bass part taking up the spotlight. This is where the band's grunge and doom pedigree shows through just a bit, laying on the oppressively dark tone, and setting themselves apart from the majority of stoner rock bands in the process. Once you move into the second half of the track though, things change up a bit, beginning with a long guitar solo that's nearly perfect. It's a short lived reprieve though, settling back into the original bass riff, but with the guitar taking on a lighter role, giving the remainder song a completely different vibe from the start. There's one more little track before time runs out though, with another howling guitar solo taking over before the very end of the song. While not every song follows this same formula, because that would get kind of old, instead they change things up a bit here and there. I can confidently say that there isn't a bad song on the entire record though. The album was just released at the beginning of September, so you're not that late to the party, and there's still vinyl to be had from Nasoni Records, or check out the group's bandcamp for your digital fix.

For Fans Of; Alice In Chains, Kyuss, Black Sabbath

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Rattle Your Brains...

Behold! The Monolith - Architects of the Void (2015)

The third album from this LA-based band finds them in fine form as they churn out some war-grade doom metal, link the tracks together with chains of steel, and otherwise bring the thunder.  Warm production and slight hints of humor, along with faint touches of stoner/psych head-warping, draw the music into something with more character than aggressive doom metal usually achieves, offering up something that earns the repeated plays fans of the album will find themselves compelled to hear.  Each of the musicians puts in a superb and varied performance, and the rushing attacks of the final mix suggest rehearsal after rehearsal getting things to smash together just right.
Though the songs are mostly on the long side, they run past without letting the weight each one carries bog it down into being boring or over-stretched.  Twists of melody and rhythm will keep you guessing your first time through (and on your second and third times, come to mention it), but they'll also dig into your ear-drums and make you bang your head whenever they want.  In short, just a damn good album, through and through.  Be sure to check it out if doom grown big and angry is something you're willing to blast out of your speakers on a regular basis once you get a copy.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Goya, Headless Kross, Heavydeath, Nelly Olsen, Venus Sleeps


Friday, September 18, 2015

Strapped But Not Clipped...

Sykopath Condor - Cell 36 (2015)

About a year and a half after the release of their first full-length, Sykopath Condor are back with another one, taking a 9-song trip into heavy rock.  While there's some metal edges provided by the rough bass and hard drums, and even a bit of dirty sludge on the pushes from time to time, it feels like heavy Southern rock is where most of their influence can be found (emulated pretty well for a band from the UK).  There's an unfortunate verging on nu-metal attitude popping up occasionally (if you listen close enough, you can hear them yell "Break it!" in "Rain"), but in their more groove-focused cuts, they hit on some fun grooves; like most of "Elfcrusher", for instance, which might be due to letting the vocals take a break so the instruments can build a full-sounding extension without having to speed it up to fit the yelling.  Or the similar situation in "Live in the Sun", which alternates cool break-downs with drawn-out bellows.
It's an uneven album, but the fun parts do out-weigh the sillier stuff, especially if you're in the mood for enjoying volume over paying attention to the lines.  And they've got a way with going whole hog when they tear loose on the riffs, a quality likely to please most Southern metal fans.  Whether it grows on your or pushes you away, give these guys a chance and get a real taste before judging.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Clutch, High On Fire, Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Uncle Van & The Buzzards Of Fuzz


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Trapped In A Cloud...

Blacksmoker - Origins (2015)

With a perfectly suitable title for their debut album, Blacksmoker have burst from the depths of Germany with eight tracks of deep-toned and dirty stoner doom with a wide stripe of rock energy (sometimes turning into thrash) to keep the fire burning bright.  Kicking hard on all of the instruments, and bellowing to match their power, Blacksmoker bring the thunder for first impressions, but for good or bad, all of the songs seem to blur together.  It's not because they all sound alike (the band does a nice job of avoiding that pit by changing things up pretty regularly), but at the end of the album, trying to think back to individual tracks, there's just so much shredding and smashing that pulling out single moments is a high challenge.  At least until a riff springs up out of memory and compels you to throw the album back on in full to find out which song held it, that is.
Fans of high-powered doom/stoner rock, check this one out, just don't try to make any sense out of the cover art.  The limited wooden box edition is already sold out, but you can find NA and EU distributors of the vinyl (along with the name-your-price digital version) on Blacksmoker's BandCamp page.  Get on it and turn it up.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Hossferatu, Melmak, Nightosaur, Sedated Angel, Warp Riders


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Spirits And Stones...

Ak'chamel - The Man Who Drank God (2015)

The latest release from this mysterious group takes a 'world music' approach to doom and darkness, with primitivistic instruments and spiritual chanting as the main forms through which their music takes shape.  With all but one of the tracks clocking in under three minutes, the moods are set and experienced in quick order, spun through so quickly it's a little disorienting, but working that effect to their advantage.  It's one of those musical releases thoroughly resists being summarized in words, so give the track below a listen, then head over to the BandCamp page to hear the rest.  A run of 100 tapes from Field Hymns is your only way to get a physical copy, but digital is also available through the same page for only $3.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Current 93, Death In June, Mamaleek, Opium Warlords, Sol Invictus


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Greek Swamp Noise

Zebu ~ At the Delta of Venus (2015)

 Not a stoner rock band, but still carrying the heavy music flag for Greece, Zebu offer up a dark southern tinged, sludgy, metal sound. At only four tracks, and none of those topping ten minutes, the whole thing really flies by and you'll find yourself instinctively restarting it more than once or twice. Opening up with the title track, things start off reserved, just a bass intro and some cymbals. The vocals don't take long to join in, starting off in a low, clean style, but gaining a rough edge once the heavier guitar riff jumps in. It continues at this plodding pace for a minute or so, before launching into a faster, bruising section. Probably the sludgiest part of the track, it's the exact sort of pounding rhythm that make the music so appealing in the first place. A great, headbanging guitar solo rounds things out with not long to go. The following track "Grandma" takes a different approach though, starting off at a crushing tempo and never letting up, also being the shortest track on the release, it almost feels a little short lived. It takes on a bit of a rock and roll feel at certain points, but it's still a metal track, through and through. You can head over to Zebu's bandcamp right now and pick up the brand new 12" vinyl.

 For Fans Of; Down, Corrosion of Conformity, Orange Goblin

Monday, September 14, 2015

Deep Shades of the Dunes

Savanah ~ Deep Shades EP (2015)

I came across the preview track for Savanah's debut EP "Deep Shades" quite a while back, but the resulting fuzzed out desert rock grooves were well worth the wait. I can't help but feeling like it's a perfect soundtrack for screaming through the desert at dusk in a muscle car. If that's not a prerequisite for quality desert rock, I have no idea what is. The massive riffs suit the sprawling desert landscape perfectly, seemingly just as large. Add to that an excellent sounding rhythm section, plus an interesting, melodic vocal performance, and things tend fall together pretty nicely for these guys. "Blue Reality" opens up with bass heavy rumblings that really grab your attention, after kicking off with a short bass intro the guitar drops in just a little later. The drums aren't far behind, but for most of the time the bass is running the show, with the vocals kicking in after a couple minutes. The higher pitched, doom-like vocals offer a nice contrast to the track. Towards the end of the seven minute track a howling solo shakes things up a good bit, something to awaken the senses. While it's the closer, it's still a great ride, sort of fading off into the darkened horizon after a bit. The whole EP is up for sale on the bandcamp now, for you to check out.

For Fans Of; 88 Mile Trip, Kyuss, Astroqueen 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Creaming Your Ears...

Terminal Cheesecake - Cheese Brain Fondue: Live in Marseille (2015)

A little over 20 years after their last release, Terminal Cheesecake have resurfaced on Artifical Heads Records with this double-LP live album, including the entirety of the 75-minute show they played and recorded last year in France.  The set-list includes tracks from their first album on through to their last, providing a thorough look through their noise rock, heavy psych, space dub kaleidoscope.  There's also a new track, "Fake Loop", which opens the album with a 10-minute-plus sprawl of calm hallucination before the move into rougher stuff.  And once that rough stuff starts in, it gives few moments of forgiveness for unwary listeners, so be prepared for brain-churning action once you get this sucker pouring out of your speakers.  Twisting and turning through abstract feedback and body-moving riff revving, TC decisively show that their skills haven't rusted in the slightest during their time away from the public.
500 copies on vinyl will be available from Artificial Head Records, with an official release date of October 20th, though you can go ahead and pre-order it if you want to be sure of getting one (and if you like heavy psych, you almost certainly do), or you can snag a reasonably-priced digital copy from their BandCamp page.  There's also rumblings of a new studio LP to emerge next year, so those who've been hungering for more Terminal Cheesecake the past couple decades will finally have enough mad psych rock to fill their appetites, at least for a while, and those new to this excellent band will have a fun time digging into their catalog.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Inspiral Carpets, Kaleidobolt, MC5, Mondo Drag, Wicked Lady


Friday, September 11, 2015

Stirring First Movements...

Temple of Gnosis - Mysterivm Magnvm EP (2015)

This new EP from the solo project Temple Of Gnosis pushes its format as far as it can go, edging right up on the half-hour mark with four helpings of ritualistic doom.  Opening with the title track, the EP prepares the experience with a heavy cloud of vibrations before close-noted guitar tears in with pulsing drums backing it up, and a deep voice rasping away under the crashes.  There's a pleasing sense of vastness to the recording acoustics and the echoing quality used for the instruments, which does a good job of strengthening the atmospheric effect, as does the unhurried flow from the end of one song into the next one's rattling rise.
There's a slight blackened flavor to the occult trappings and dirty vocals, amplified whenever the guitar or drums shift from the usual dirge settings up into battle mode, which might turn off some prospective listeners.  Personally, I think the music is stronger for its inclusion, as it opens up paths to some really furious outpourings of viciousness that would be out-of-bounds for a band operating under pure doom metal guidance.  The harshness also serves to put listeners at arm's length, calling for deeper-than-usual focus to sink into the dark grimness the music holds in store.  Despite keeping some fluctuation going in the instrumental energy, there's a firm thread of mood linking the four tracks together, and they make an excellent start for this musical project.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Earthling, Gnaw Their Tongues, Heavydeath, Jupiterian, Sutekh Hexen


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Slick And Sticky...

Sweat Lodge - Talismana (2015)

For their debut LP, the Austin-based quartet of Sweat Lodge have come out swinging with a retro hard/heavy rock style (plus a light dusting of '90s grunginess), concisely-written songs, and an occasional similarity to Ozzy's distinctive delivery in the vocals.  Keeping things grounded with a crisp beating from the drums, the rest of the band rumbles around with tobacco-stained attitude, yelling, pounding, and otherwise making themselves known while having a blast.
The album zips right along, springing the last song on you before you know it, but that seems kind of fitting for the music of Talismana.  It's high-energy stuff, so cutting it short keeps things from getting too tiresome, while also encouraging you to pop it in for another quick listen whenever the urge takes you.  There's some fun stuff lurking in there for those repeat listens, and plenty of hooks to find lodged in your brain days later, so if you want some more of that heavy rock with a splash of psych, try some time with the Sweat Lodge guys.  Ripple Music are handling the release, so hop on over to their page if you plan to pick up a copy.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    new Kadavar, Kahbra, Motor Sister, Orchid, The Sword


Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Let Your Head Swim...

chainsaw rainbow - 747 (2015)

Already out with a full album after the release of his debut EP, pink haze, back in May, chainsaw rainbow is back with more loose-minded treks through thick fuzz and meaty riffs, keeping a heavy psych vibe ringing out while digging into shoegaze grounding.  Virtually devoid of vocals, the music focuses on chewing into the riffs as on the EP, with two tracks from that release, "astropop" and "pink haze", included on this album for comparison of how the style has expanded. 
With the guitar's echoing and gnarled sound-waves providing the main pulsing beats to the music, it's easy to hear the music as something larger than a single player's output, as long as you're in the right mood for the chord collisions.  It's a set of songs that call for your ears to give up their usual expectations and go with the fuzzy flow, and while that's a mode that might be difficult for some to slip into, fans of heavy psych and extended riffage would do well to check into chainsaw rainbow with this release.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; A Place to Bury Strangers, JETDOG, Spacemen 3, Telstar Sound Drone, Vanilla Trainwreck


Tuesday, September 08, 2015

In the Monolith's Shadow

Doomed ~ Wrath Monolith (2015)

 Doomed have been around a while now, spreading their version of atmospheric death doom metal. This latest effort "Wrath Monolith" isn't a huge departure from the sound they've built their reputation on this far. The only real noticeable change is perhaps a slight increase in the intensity of certain parts. Seemingly relying on the brutal side of the music more than the atmospheric aspect that they've used so well in the past. This change in approach doesn't effect the album though, it's still good ole' Doomed that we've all come to know over the years. Being a death doom album, it should be no surprise that most of the songs clock in somewhere around the ten minute mark. My standout was "Our Ruin Silhouettes", featuring massive guitar parts that drive everything forward with brutal efficiency, with the deep, growling vocals laid perfectly on top. One of the shorter tracks, but still coming in at over six minutes, it seems to fly by from start to finish. Part of that is because of the that change of intensity I mentioned early, making the most out of an aggressive tempo and sound instead of relying on atmosphere to get their points across. As you move through the album, and down the list of guest vocalists, you get to "Looking Back" which is probably the only use of clean, melodic vocals on the whole album. But there's still plenty of gnarly, guttural vocals to go around on it also. With all of that going on, it's not wonder people are loving the new album. You can pick up a copy through Solitude Productions or on their bandcamp page and see for yourself.

 For Fans Of; (early)Katatonia, October Tide, Paradise Lost

Monday, September 07, 2015

Back In The Throne

Black Hand Throne ~ Vitiorum (2015)

After a widely recognized album with their last effort "IV", Black Hand Throne are back. This time taking a page directly from the stoner doom handbook, creating a concept album that is a stand alone track with a nearly forty minute duration. "Vitiorum" isn't some second rate "Dopesmoker" clone though, using elements from funeral doom metal and bouts of High On Fire styled intensity together to their full potential. After opening up with what sounds like piece of a Jim Jones rant, things start to move along at a bludgeoning pace, dragging the music's immensity with it each beat. The singer's snarled vocals start in almost immediately, telling the tale of "of a man living out the seven deadly sins, while repenting to a religious zealot more twisted than the man before him". Things slow down a bit, offering up a darker, more menacing atmosphere than before. Like the difference between someone beating you with a tire iron, and someone's cold gaze focused on you while plotting your torture and eventual death with said tire iron. The song goes back and forth like this, the endless dance between pummeling heaviness and a slow, crawling darkness. By the time you get to the end of the track, and have spent the last half hour kind of immersed in this whole thing, it starts to switch up a bit. The lighter tones start to show through a little bit, and at one point almost picks up a stoner rock sound. Within the last ten minutes things slow to a crawl with the exception of a howling guitar part. The vocals have even changed by now, simply speaking the lyrics instead of growling them out, and even a little melodic singing some by the very end of the song. You can pick up your vinyl and cds directly from Swamp Metal Records, or check out Black Hand Throne's bandcamp for your digital fix.

For Fans Of; Bongzilla, Evoken, Sleep

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Surrender All Hope...

Jupiterian - Aphotic (2015)

Jupiterian's debut album is doom metal done simply and honestly, letting the low tones and haunted moods carry the music on their substantial charms.  There's a cold funereal atmosphere to all of the songs, but describing Aphotic as just that is to undersell its depth, as the band dips into any sort of doom metal sub-genre you'd care to name.  The expansiveness of cosmic, the thick head-trip of stoner, the charged power of blackened (plus some of its vocal coarseness), and on and on... they draw from it all while keeping their flow steady, strong, and soaked in darkness.  Occasional lances of keening feedback give a nod to sludge, and the progressions call death metal to mind, but it's undeniably doom which guides it all.
As excellent as the music is, I don't feel like there's that much more I can say about it other than 'just listen already!'.  Doom metal fans of any stripe who like things heavy and crushing need to get on this ASAP.  A run of 175 tapes from Caligari Records is currently your only option for physical copies, but if they've sold out by the time you're reading this, get over to Caligari's BandCamp page and do yourself the favor of listening to the streamed version in full.  This is an early Top 20 of 2015 pick, easily.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Bell Witch, Funerary, Goya, Heavydeath, Tons


Friday, September 04, 2015

Churning And Burning...

Reptensol - Maelstrɔsm (2015)

While Reptensol may be making their debut with this album (and your guess is as good as mine as to how the title's supposed to be pronounced), they've been around since 2007, going through line-up changes and trying to get demos to people's ears.  Finally available to the public after the band's decision to go the self-release route, the oddities (and storminess) of Maelstrɔsm hardly end with the title, as they blend together psych, stoner, thrash, doom, and several other styles into a fast-changing and violently inventive set of tracks that keep the surprises coming from start to finish.
It's not just their twisting wildness that gives Reptensol a fist full of power, though.  The slight buzz of self-production (which does little to detract from the experience) is one of the only signs pointing to the band's rawness, and with over half a decade leading up to this point, it feels likely that it's there because they want it that way.  Similarly, each track comes out hard and ready to beat your brains in, but with enough tightness on the reins for the band to steer it in any direction they like.  Chugging riffs, spiraling progressions, and occasional spits of humor are woven together with flair and a steady sense of how much can be loaded into the songs, packing them so full the seams strain but hold fast.  It's a far cry from the standard stoner rock, and the experimentation rarely falters or hits a false step.  Damn good stuff, well worth the time spent cooking it up.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Funeral Horse, Meanderthal, Multishiva, Sleep (SHM era), Venus Sleeps


Thursday, September 03, 2015

Ride The Nova...

Stone From The Sky - NGC 1976 (2015)

This new album from Stone From The Sky (which, going by their BandCamp page, is their first non-split one) is a real treat, with a set of heated space rock songs that combine grittiness and grooves in near-equal measure, assertive and chill in alternate paces, and just down-right cool with the blur of their cosmic cruising.  Keeping things instrumental, the French trio lays down spacy treks through feedback, storms of percussion, and sweet grooves that'll firmly lodge themselves in your brain's riff receptors.  You may also find yourself suddenly banging your head along to the rhythm, or having other unconscious body reactions; this is all perfectly normal when encountering such damn good music.
Enjoyable in any state of mind (personally, I found a couple of tall cold ones to go great with it), SFTS' LP showing should earn them plenty of respect as it makes its rounds by word of mouth.  Fans of space rock, desert rock, heavy psych, and instrumental stoner rock should all do themselves a favor and plug this into their ears ASAP.  You can pick up a digital copy for a price of your choosing on the BandCamp page, where you've also got the options of CD for €5 and a T-shirt for €10, so you've got no excuse for delay.  Get it, turn the volume up as high as you can stand, and enjoy.
~ Gabriel


Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Sweat On The Trigger...

Hellrad - Things Never Change (2015)

Starting out with this album, Philadelphia's new sludgers in Hellrad are making a confident first stomp forward.  Grimy fidelity, thick oozings of bass, mean beatings from the drums, and vocals that sound like there's a cheese-grater strapped over the microphone come together for a nasty stew full of unidentifiable chunks.  Despite the roughness, they've got a good flow going on as they move from song to song, throwing out all-cap titles like "DOPE FIEND JESUS", "STREET ZOMBIES", and "SMOKE MORE CRACK" while weighing the aggression against the swampiness (which is emulated with surprising accuracy for a group from the City of Brotherly Love).
The occasional audio samples tucked into the songs go along with the titles in pointing to the group's tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, so if you demand a straight face from your misanthropic drug-fueled slimings, you may want to look elsewhere.  On the other hand, if you're cool with that attitude, and you want some truly dirty-sounding sludge, give Hellrad a try.  Just don't expect to be able to understand the vocals.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Dopethrone, Electricjezus, EyeHateGod, Hypnochron, Legalize Crime


Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Through the Skeleton Forest

Apothecary ~ Drifting Towards the Ancients (2015)

While I wouldn't consider Arkansas to be the bastion of death doom metal, they must be doing something right down there to produce a group like this. Having been together in one form or another, Apothecary has been around since 2012. And after an impressive debut EP from last year, they're back with a full length this time. "Drifting Towards the Ancients" is five tracks of oppressively heavy doom metal with some not so subtle death and sludge metal influences oozing their way through the music. They find ways to perfectly pair suffocating guitar tones with dark and atmospheric interludes, adding depth to the already menacing vibe. While you can see this in any of the tracks, the one that really sold me on the entire album was "Gamma Soul". Opening up with a little feedback and some slow drumming it only takes a few moments for everything to pick up the pace a little bit and for the song to drag itself along before a melodic vocal performance starts up, that goes along for a bit before deteriorating into a low growl a bit before the half way point. That's when the song slows down, just some loud drum strikes and a clean guitar line, that only last so long before things start to picking up that agonizing pace again. This time with the clean guitar part in tow. Things stay that way for the most of the eleven minute track, with the low, deathly vocals making another appearance. Within the last minute or so the track things break down into a hectic blast of sound, showing a little of their sludge metal colors. You can check it out over at their bandcamp and see for yourself though.

For Fans Of; (early) Paradise Lost, Winter, Evoken