Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Loss And Anger...

Gurthang / Beyond Life - Melodies of Sorrow (2015)

Coming from Cimmerian Shade Recordings, this split twists together doom, noise, black metal, and a dash of industrial for a very atmospheric and chilly experience.  Both bands contribute material recorded somewhere in the 2013-2014 range, but it all sounds fresh and vitalized.
Gurthang's half of this split is aggressive but weighty doom with a blackened edge, grinding through riffs while percussion pounds away.  While the black metal influence tilts the scales in its favor a few times (most strongly with "Arise"), there's a low-tuned groove rolling along under their most furious guitar-work, and the bulk of their material makes good use of the moody coldness to be found while wallowing in the low-end.
Beyond Life take their side in similar directions, though they spin a denser cocoon of synth drones and incidental noises, with a near-buried voice intoning a litany of despair.  Starting with "Heavy Rain", creaking mechanical rhythms coupled with the inspired squeals of guitar give things a feel not unlike being strapped to a conveyor belt headed for a factory's furnace.  "The Burial Rite" turns, appropriately, to a more funeral doom style, and "Driven by Melancholy" closes out the album with a keening and thoroughly forlorn arrangement of subdued strings.
Both groups bring a strong sense of their character to bear in their contributed pieces, and it all goes quite well with cold weather, particularly if you've got some frost building up on your windows.  So far, the label's announced no plans for a vinyl release (just CD and digital files), but it's still worth putting your hands on a copy if you enjoy funeral doom with some aggression and experimentation.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Abysmal Grief, The Fateful Hour, Gulaggh, Pedestal for Leviathan, Runes Order


Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Bag I'm In

Sam Knee - The Bag I'm In (2015)

The full title is The Bag I'm In: Underground Music and Fashion in Britain 1960-1990, though for accuracy's sake, that should be amended to have 'Rock' inserted between 'Underground' and 'Music'. Among the genres receiving virtually no coverage are ska (despite a 2-Tone chapter), hip-hop, electronic (aside from a passing reference to the enormously influential Throbbing Gristle and acid raves), and metal, unmentioned until 1984 with the 'Thrash/Crossover' section. Dub, reggae, and rudeboys (none of which get their own section) are brought up peripherally a few times, but the number of photos with black Britons can be counted on one hand, and Indians seem entirely absent despite the fashion-mimicking of their regionality by the hippie and space rocker sets.

There's also some sweeping characterization made with the first line of the author's introduction: “Unique to this island, the music and fashion scenes are ingrained in the UK's DNA, going hand in hand as an inseparable force of nature that shapes our lives and the society we exist in.” Aside from the preposition at the end, there's the issue of omitting (whether by choice or simply not thinking of it) consideration of another island nation, Japan, where music culture and correspondent clothing have similar intertwining, from the punk-sworn bikers to the visual kei movement, not to mention the mainstream-abhorring experimental electronic/noise scene or the massive influx of American rock after World War II. I'll leave additional national counter-examples up to readers' discretions.

Providing brief analysis and background for each of the styles covered, along with a pertinent lyrical excerpt for each (in a nice touch, the back-to-back sections of Second Wave Punk and Goth respectively use “Punks Not Dead” and “Bela Lugosi's Dead”), the book tells its history in pictures well enough through the extensive photo illustrations, though as the author notes, size restraints limit the scope of exploration. The mod section stands tied with punk as the lengthiest, if revivals and derivatives go uncounted, though punk and its various off-shoots would otherwise easily win. One of the more interesting inclusions is hard mod, “an almost mythical, transitory sartorial style that is virtually impossible to pin down,” which spans just two photographs.

A focus on the lead-up to punk's emergence and the subsequent fallout tints most of the historical examinations, but given the impact the arrival of that genre had on music, fashion, and the UK in general, it's an understandable skewing. On the other hand, there's some odd minimizing of some aspects, such as the reduction of third-wave skinhead politicism and agitation to just two sentences. Similarly, “half-baked, shabby, second wave Gothdom” and pre-thrash metal, which the author characterizes as being marginalized to “poodle permed, Dungeons & Dragons playing sci-fi kids” during the punk era get brushed past without investigation even while recognizing their cultural subsumption. Even in light of needing to save page space, the amount of material excluded raises questions, particularly when the book's foreword identifies what did make the cut (such as Smithsmania and the '79-'81 fashions of Postcard Records) as “36 of Britain's most radical, vital underground scenes”.

The subjects of photographs are often identified by first name only, but there are a few with full name inclusions, and some of the photos have the locations identified as well, which adds an interesting sense of the regional disparities. There's some noticeable pixelization with the photos that have been blown up to larger sizes (a handful of which get double-page spreads), but the value of their inclusion (and of being able to get a closer look at some of their details) makes this easy to forgive. On a sweet note, a couple of pictures of Robert and Janet Knee, presumably the parents of the author, are included in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)/Beatnik and Art School Boho sections.

Some regional slang appears, and US readers may be confused by references to 'Mohican haircuts', which go by the name 'Mohawk' over here, but these turns of phrase can generally be puzzled out, and they add a nice personal flavor to the book's analytical angle. The appendix of an 'illustrated style guide' proves one of the book's most intriguing aspects, with paper-doll-style presentations and head-to-toe examinations of the fashions illustrated by Florence Bamberger offering help for quick perusals or more involved study.

The book may make you turn a fresh eye towards your own clothing choices in relation to your listening habits, past, present, and future; it may also give you an urge to visit your parents for the purpose of raiding their stored-away wardrobes. Whatever the case may be, it's an engrossing assembly of music/fashion cross-sections over three decades of the UK's history, framed and enthusiastically connected by Knee's assessments of influence. A scattering of band names and record labels adds an extra dimension of enjoyment for record-hunters, and it's fun to imagine the accompanying CD or DJ mix some enterprising individual could put together from all of the songs that get quoted along the way. All together, quite a good read, though some of its choices will have readers scratching their heads as they try to figure out the reasoning.

~ Gabriel


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Heartache And Hellscapes...

Without - Elaborations: I (2015)

The two lengthy tracks of this release add up to the first album from Minneapolis' metal band Without, who have some philosophy behind their style (if you want to read the screed in full, just check their BandCamp page).  The resultant music is slow, heavy, and near-devoid of hope, essentially funeral doom with a few twists to the formula.  The band makes strong use of controlled feedback run alongside clean but mournful vocals, taking their time to spin together an atmosphere of loss and longing, while the bass growls out its unforgiving mood.
While there's plenty of similarities between the two tracks, there's also individuality in the way they approach their execution, with "True Escape" acting as a more straight-forward prep for the twisting sorrows of "No One, Nowhere, Nothing".  The latter track also digs into some evolution of its melody across most of its run, growing more claustrophobically intense and pressurized.
The album is available digitally or as a 150-copy run of cassettes in hand-made fabric cases from Without's BandCamp page, so if you like your doom slow and sad, checking in on this will pay off pretty well for you.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Disenchanter, Evoken, NIXA, SaturninE, The Sleer


Friday, November 20, 2015

Swirl Together Now...

Frank Sabbath - Frank Sabbath (2015)

This first full album from France's trio of Frank Sabbath is quite a first step.  Swirling together heavy psych, blues, stoner rock, and a few other influences, FS deliver a heady concoction of cool grooves and heated riffs, backed by smoked-out vocals, snappy drum-work, and (of course) plenty of bass.  They've also got some great track flow going on, with one dove-tailing neatly into the next, and the album as a whole has great structuring, split into distinct (and titled) halves conceived by the band as sprawling sets.  Just make sure you have song gaps turned off when you play it, so the little delays don't detract from the band's hard work.
Whether they're getting lost in spacy trips or digging down with focus into a deep-trench groove, Frank Sabbath come off here with flying colors, and they're already hard at work on a follow-up.  Expect to see this one on my year-end Top 20 list, and keep your ears peeled for news on that second album.  If you find yourself in need of some more Frank Sabbath after listening to this for the first time (totally understandable), they've been kind enough to throw one of their jam sessions on BandCamp for free download, so dive in already.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Mondo Drag, Murder in the Cathedral, Quatrain, Vanilla Trainwreck


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Getting Physical...

CHILD - Healer EP (2015)

Los Angeles' CHILD offer a enjoyable mixture of no-BS riffage, hazy psychedelic rock, and petulant, strutting grooves.  It's clear from the first song of their second release, Healer, that CHILD are all about getting straight to the point, saying what they have to say and getting the hell out.  The EP's longest song is only 5 minutes and with the whole thing lasting a mere 20 minutes, the release certainly doesn't outstay its welcome.
The most striking thing about Healer's five songs is how focused they are.  In a music landscape where many bands of CHILD's ilk work long atmospheric intros and extended spacy jams into their songs, CHILD feel punchy and very immediate.
The vocals are the most unusual aspect of the band - on all of Healer's five songs, the singer is bathed in reverb and echo, giving a trippy vibe to an otherwise fairly straight-up rock sound.  I generally tend to associate the sort of to-the-point riffage that CHILD trade in with reasonably clean, powerful vocals, perhaps in the vein of John Garcia or even Ozzy Osbourne.  Instead, what we get here is something that I would generally associate more with a slow-burning psych rock band than the riff-centric stoner rock of CHILD.  While it might be a little unexpected, it gives the band the unique edge that is needed to set any group apart in such a crowded scene.  It can at times be a little difficult to understand the lyrics - which is a shame as they are interesting – however, the juxtaposition of riff rock and hazy psych works well for them and definitely sets CHILD as their own band.
Also of note is the abundance of memorable motifs and solid hooks on this EP.  The pleasingly crunchy riff of “Window” reminds me of early Queens Of The Stone Age, while “Mountain” has an intro riff that will refuse to leave your head for a long time.  While Healer is brief to the point of fleeting, those with a taste for rock solid riffs and psychedelic inflections will find a lot to enjoy here.
~ Martin

For Fans Of; Black Sabbath, Earthless, Kadavar, Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Raising Hell In The Woods...

Rise of the Wood - Demo (2015)

Playing in the field of hard rock with a metal edge, this Dutch band and their six-track demo specialize in earthy, semi-rural material and attitude.  While the songs have a way to go in making themselves stand out from similar stuff, the band shows a knack for tight riffs and good synergy between the members, something that will see them in good standing for their future efforts.  Some more tonal variety would be nice, and a little more change-up with the drum's pacing wouldn't hurt either, but overall, it's a respectable demo showing the potential of this band without any big flaws.  Whether they follow their hard rock side or settle into a mellower groove base, I don't doubt that Rise of the Wood will continue playing hard and having fun with their music.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Five Black Bullets, Helltrain, Kyuss, Teacher, Queens of the Stone Age


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Toasted Coasts...

Ponamero Sundown - Veddesta (2015)

Van rock typically melts amp tubes via California, where the sand meets the sea and the West Coast gave birth to hot rods and skateboards.  When giving Ponamero Sundown a listen, your first instinct tells you these guys are definitely from the Left Coast, U.S.A.  The fuzz pedals and wah-wahs are fully engaged to the max; this has to be straight out of Southern Cali, right?
Ponamero Sundown calls Stockholm, Sweden, home and has blended their own version of good-time heavy rock, inspired by sounds of the '70s combined with a modern stoner twist.  The opening cowbell of “Bottom of the River” might as well serve as the ignition for the freeburn to follow.  With the first few notes of the track, it doesn’t take long to realize you’re in for a ride. Anders Martinsgård, on guitar, and Robert Trisches, on bass, get down to business quickly with plenty of riffs and tight licks in their pockets.  Trisches’ bass channels the best of John Entwistle at times, with hints of Tatsu Mikami.  In the meantime, Niclas Engwall brings pipes that are plenty strong to keep the ride moving.
Behind it all is the unforgiving drumming of Peter Eklund.  The man is a fill-master, laying down one perfect roll and cannon beat after another.  The drums on this album are some of the best I’ve heard in years.
Named after an industrial area in northern Stockholm, Veddesta has been Ponamero Sundown’s home base for years, where the album was written, and where it was primarily recorded, according to the band.  This is a heavy dosage of maximum fuzzed-out rock and roll that keeps the party flowing like a well-waxed boogie van making the Saturday night scene.
Ponamero Sundown never fall into the trap of overplaying or self indulgence.  They bang it out and move along.  Veddesta and all the burnage from Ponamero Sundown’s fuzz flavor is available now via Transubstans Records, with a vinyl release set for December 11. 
~ Andy


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Embrace The Desolation...

Il Vuoto - Weakness (2015)

After a couple of demos, the Italian one-man funeral doom band of Il Vuoto has released its first full-length, consisting of seven sorrowful tracks formed from regally expansive sonic space, wailing guitar-work, grave-born vocals, and more.  Elements of decay and grandeur like a low-mixed piano, distant owls, and the sounds of rainfall are worked in to solid effect, and the track titles, such as "And Night Devours Me" and "Through Mirrors I Saw the Ghost of Me", snap right into place with the music's atmosphere.
The notes which came with this release mentioned a Sunn O)))-inspired use of drone on the demos, and while most of Weakness has a more traditional funeral doom approach, that noisier side does come into play, most notably in "The Harvest".  There's also some relatively calm reflectiveness, as in "Sea of Emptiness", which builds around an acoustic riff and the sounds of breaking waves for a bit of peace before returning to the howls of betrayal.
It's a very well-assembled album, and one of those cases in which being a one-man operation really seems to have allowed the music to be expressed exactly as intended, without external suggestions disrupting the outpouring.  Fans of moody and majestic doom should find time to give this a listen.  Great work and arrangement from Il Vuoto, and an excellent debut LP.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Bell Witch, Evoken, Jupiterian, Thergothon, Velvet Cacoon


Friday, November 13, 2015

Proof Of Life...

Muddy Moonshine - Distilled in Finland EP (2015)

The four tracks of this EP mark the first release from the six-piece Finnish blues rock band Muddy Moonshine, who take a somewhat darker and heavier approach to the music than most bands in the genre.  Pinning down where these qualities are coming from is kind of tricky, but it's mostly owed to the tones of the instruments and vocals, which have a deep and earthy vibe to their delivery.
There's also some fuzz to the bass, but not quite enough to stick the 'stoner' prefix to their style, though a fair number of the riffs could be shifted to fit that without too much tweaking.  There's an interesting tug-of-war going on between the casual vocals and bass presence, and the more charged-up drum and guitar section, resulting in some lively tensions with little draw-back.  If you've been in a heavy rock rut and want something more melodic and moody, or just want to hear blues rock go heavy, give this band a shot or two.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    modern Iggy & The Stooges, Kahbra, The Stone Fox (Australia), T.K. Bollinger & That Sinking Feeling, Testosteroll


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Doom With Surprises

Apotheosis - Bane (2015)

Coming back after a couple years away, Apotheosis follow up on their 2012 debut of Husk with this new album, conveniently split into two parts perfectly sized for a vinyl release (though as far as I know, so far it's digital-only).  Fingers crossed for them to keep up that four-letter-word habit for their next release, hopefully arriving before too long, and for this to get a release on the format for which it seems made.
"Side A" starts the band off on this doom voyage with something close to the usual fare, slow-paced bass and percussion establishing the atmosphere while the vocalist makes his gradual entrance.  But there's something of a death metal edge to the cleanliness of tone and riff-structuring, sharpening the doom aspect into a meaner-than-usual cut of the style.
That transformation shapes the first track with slow determination (it does give Apotheosis ~19 minutes of room in which to show their chops), and following along as they carve and twist the song into various forms can be a rewarding experience if you're willing to give it sufficient attention.  "Side B" takes a slightly mellower but similar route, holding back on its violent capacities until the crescendos erupt, and the two halves complement each other in a very satisfying way.  And did I mention that all of this is being turned out by a two-man operation?
Aside from providing some excellent grooves equally comfortable with the slothier side of doom and its meaner territory, the band comes off as an inventive crew which put some serious thought into their work.  Any doom-heads out there who might need fast-acting gratification, this one's probably not for you.  Those who like hearing a doom-based metal band demonstrate their skill at incorporating extra style elements, get on this.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Behold! The Monolith, Coffin Torture, Corpse Light, Heavydeath, Stoneburner


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Psychic Release Device...

Haoma - Haoma EP (2014)

Coming to us by way of Denton, Texas, where Anvileater Records makes its home, this two-piece Swedish outfit has received a remastered reissue of their debut EP, originally released back in 2013.  The four tracks (three nice and sizable, one so quick it's almost a bridge) dig into doom with a warm corona, lashing together heavy riffs and spacy atmosphere for a heady trip through fuzzy lands.  The song titles are nicely evocative (among them, "Astrospliff" and "Concrete Shaman"), the bass has the power to make your head swimming if you're in the right position relative to your speakers, and as the tunes get looser over the EP's run, the music achieves a hypnotic effect.  The end of the last track feels like it comes too soon, and it'll easily lure you back in for another go if you're willing.  One hell of a debut, tapes and downloads are currently available from the label.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Monolord, RHINO (Italy), Salem's Pot, Toke, Windhand


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

True Universal Force...

Nauseahtake - Laws of Universal Gravitation (2015)

Nauseahtake's debut album, Laws Of Multiversal Gravitation, beckons its listeners in with an eerie sound sample played over a didgeridoo drone.  Plenty of bands have started off their albums in such a way, but Amsterdam's Nauseahtake actually offer a really fresh, interesting take on the genres they tackle.  The influences on this album are clearly wide-reaching and the scope of the band's ambition is impressive.   At various times in the 25 minute opening song, “The Crust”, I'm reminded of Amon Duul II and Hawkwind.   Further into the song, they take on a more overtly metal sound, with crushing riffs and relentless drumming delivered with real gusto and aggression when needed, while at other times, the band can create a sound delivered with calculated understatement and sinister power.
Laws Of Multiversal Gravitation definitely gets very heavy at times, but quite often I'm reminded more of classic psychedelic heavy rock than anything too doomy in the classic sense of the word, not that that's any bad thing.  Nauseahtake rock out when they need to but also know when it's best not to be too heavy.  That understanding of subtlety is not something too many bands have a decent grasp on, so it's refreshing to hear a band this accomplished at both real heaviness and lighter, more atmospheric sections.
The ambition shown in these three tracks is really impressive.  While many heavy bands are happy to simply repeat a couple of choice riffs for half an hour and call it a song (not that there's anything wrong with that), Nauseahtake have an almost proggy take on long form songs, with the album's three songs all taking on multiple parts with different moods and influences.  Listening to songs as long as these can often feel like an undertaking you don't want to commit to too often.  However, the variety shown on these three songs means that the album is actually reasonably accessible and enjoyable from the very first listen, though it's certainly the sort of album that you'll want to play a few times to get the full effect.
This album is enjoyable all the way through and generally a well-executed and original take on heavy music that blends together a lot of different influences into a surprisingly coherent whole.  Definitely recommended for anyone interested in original music that really rocks out.
~ Martin

For Fans Of; Amon Duul II, Hawkwind, Nik Turner, Salem Mass, Wicked Lady


Monday, November 09, 2015

Keeping Fear Alive...

Organ - Tetro (2015)

Hailing from Belluno, Italy, the four-piece of Organ is a self-described "Horror Doom" band.  The description is correct...  Upon first listen to their recently released debut, Tetro, one is reminded of a key element of doom that gets lost so easily: the sound of fear.  When Black Sabbath unleashed their self-titled song on an unsuspecting public way back in 1970, that evil-sounding tri-tone riff wasn't just heavy and slow.  That shit was SCARY! 
Organ deliver this foreboding atmosphere in spades.  Opening track "Slave Ship" sets the tone right away with a crushingly heavy hypnotic riff that grows on you the longer it goes on.  If you let it, you will be transported to another world, one even bleaker than this one in which we live.  This dark and lonely journey continues through all five tracks, which include "Witch House", "Kholat Syakhl" (which translates to "Dead Mountain"), "Hal", and epic closer "Enuma Anu Enlil".  The vocals are sparse and buried in the mix, but even that works in Organ's favor.  I wish the running time of just over 33 minutes was a little longer, but they get their point across, and then some.
We are in a golden age for our stoner/doom scene.  There are more bands out there than ever, and our genre is more prominent than ever before. With bands such as Organ emerging, the future looks good too. Well done, guys.
~ Mark

For Fans Of;    Electric Wizard, Om, Sleep, Uncle Acid, Windhand


Sunday, November 08, 2015

The Giants Of Doom Cometh...

Mammoth Storm ~ Fornjot (2015)

Fornjot, the first full-length effort from Swedish power trio Mammoth Storm, firmly entrenches the band as bringers of DOOM!
Released on Napalm Records, the album opener Augurs Echo is an 11-minute-plus epic that builds off a sonic landscape created by guitarist Christer Ström before being joined by the concise, heavy, delivery of Emil Ahlman’s drums, and the powerful vocals of Daniel Arvidsson; also providing brontosaurus bass lines. The track shifts between an epic, doom march to vast horizons of sound, echoing the tragedy of lonely, barren northern lands.
Sumerian Cry is a fuzz-loaded battle march, suitable for combat via helicopter or horse. The trio slowly, builds up the attack mode before firmly switching the pace back to lumbering doom on the title track. According to legend, Fornjot is a giant and ruler of Finland, Kvenland, and Gotland. The power of the giant and the bleak landscape he rules over are well amplified in Fornjot.
Mammoth Storm creates its work in layers, moving the listener through heavy realms while never stopping the story from plowing ahead. Production on Fornjot is tight to say the least. This is professional doom to the max, helping cement Mammoth Storm as major player in the realms of doom and sludge.
Out now on Napalm Records, theres a variety of formats to choose from, including three colours of limited edition wax.
~ Andy

For Fans Of; Cough, Tons, Coliseum, Xasthur, Megasus


Saturday, November 07, 2015

Turning To Rock...

Sonic Medusa ~ The Sunset Soundhouse Tapes (2015)

In this, Sonic Medusa's first release, seasoned veterans from The Obsessed, Goatsnake, White Zombie, Hollywood Rose, and frankly too many others to list serve up a gnarled and battered black storm of classic doom-inspired stoner rock.  The primal drumming is what makes this such an extremely enjoyable ride, along with glorious guitars that feel like coming home and a singer snarling out vicious words against a wicked underworld, all culled together to serve up an open ended mind battle of a battle of wills against ancient gods and demons.  "Cold Wind" begins with guitars akin to breaking through a brick wall, which serve to let you know you're in for a maddening ride, showing an unrelenting passion that casually leaks into "Wolf's Prayer".  These two songs give this recording a fantastic early high.
Psychedelic lovers will no doubt find a new favourite with "The Goblin Suite" as it quickly swells into a kaleidoscope of riffs and vocals that constantly expand and contract, giving a wonderfully dizzying effect to the listener.  Near-tribal drumming begins the closing track "Medusa" before churning out a powerful, triumphant sound interested in one thing - glory.  As the last riff comes to an abrupt end, you'll be left more than eager for the entire album to play again.  I'm sure our friends over at Ripple Music have already got the ball rolling on that front.
~ Richard

For Fans Of; (early) Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Samson, Thin Lizzy, Dio


Indulging Dark Fantasies...

DoOoM - Death is the Mother of Beauty (2015)

Setting out with their first full album after the release of their Pure EP last year, DoOoM churn out some thick instrumentals in the style of (what else?) doom metal.  Rippling waves of bass, thumping drums, and some fierce (bass?) guitar come together with strong focus and engaging melodies, firing up some heady fumes to get things swirling before your ears.  One minor complaint is that most of the songs seem a little short (the longest running 5:31), but that helps them avoid the pitfalls of over-extended riffs.
Given the brevity of the songs, there is a sense that this is more of a demonstration of what the band can accomplish, rather than a fully-fledged album.  There's not that much tying the songs together, apart from the technique and heaviness, and while they do come off strong in the showing, there's just a little something missing.  As majestic as the cover art and album title suggest the songs will be, they're not quite there yet.  But don't let that stop you from checking this band out, and be sure to keep tuned for further developments from DoOoM.  If you wanna rep them, T-shirts featuring their logo and the largest rodent in the world, the capybara, can be snagged from their BandCamp along with a download of the album.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Attalla, Blind Samson, Bongripper, Brunt, Major Kong


Friday, November 06, 2015

Rusted Switchback Tracks...

Santonegro - Derailing EP (2015)

This five-track EP serves as the debut release from Spain's Santonegro quartet, and they hit the ground running with a toothsome but groovy form of stoner rock.  There's more than a little grunge influence to be heard in the hooky melodies and fuzzed guitar (not to mention the vocal style), but the gravity of the bass-work gives it some weight to appeal to modern audiences, and the guitar goes on more tear-off shreds than you ever heard if your grunge exposure was limited to radio and MTV.
There's some good energy going on, but the grooves may be a little too warm and friendly for those who've had their tastes adapted to even the most lightly-tinted stoner doom that's been on a rise since the '90s.  If you can dig the upbeat vibes, though (along with the occasional "Yeah!  Yeah!"), and let yourself go with the crunchy flow, you should be able to get some more-than-decent enjoyment out of this band's efforts.  It's available as a CD or download through their BandCamp, so check it out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Audioslave, LizZard, Nightosaur, Pohjoinen, Queen Chief


Thursday, November 05, 2015

Consigned To Darkness...


Making their sophomore return with this four-track EP, OLDD WVRMS work an occult atmosphere of sludgy doom and blackened edges with their four-piece line-up.  There's a lot to be enjoyed here, as the bass turns out brutal riffs, the drums deliver violent beatings, and the guitar and vocals howl away rawly.  Some generous application of spoken-word samples enhances the alien vibes, and while a lot of the music is spent in skull-rattle mode, the slower and heavier sections are just as pleasing.
It's a sharp EP with a lot to dig into for its size, and the (so far) tape-only physical release will likely be sold out soon, if that's not already the case by the time you read this.  But grab yourself a digital copy, throw the band what you think it's worth (or as close to that as you can afford), then turn it up and enjoy the squirming sounds.
~ Gabriel

 For Fans Of;    Boar, Coffin Torture, Fange, Hoof, Lightsucker


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Powerful Ascent...

Skullcave - Climbing EP (2015)

This second EP from the Australian trio of Skullcave takes doom, swirls in some grungy hooks, then gives it a stiff shot of psych-like fuzz and feedback concentration.  It all works out to something with a taste running near heavier-than-usual stoner metal, but with enough odd twists worked in to keep things unpredictable, even on repeat listenings.  The six resultant tracks pack a stormy atmosphere into their run-time, shifting neatly between bone-breaking viciousness and fuzz-brained drifting, and in the process, getting things cooked up nice for whenever they decide to pull out a full album.
And, in a nice show of structural sense, they save their wildest stuff for the last two tracks, with "(Falling)" building into "Climbing" in superb style.  Biding its time until the need for Hell to break loose arrives, this pair of songs nearly steals the whole show, but it also builds so well on the previous songs that it's hard to pull them apart.  Check this EP out, by all means, but really do yourself a favor and listen to it in full.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Alice In Chains, Lesbian, The Munsens, Snail, Wolf Blood