Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sinking Into Doom...

Lung Molde - Lung Molde (2015)

This debut album from the Portland-based group Lung Molde takes psych/stoner doom to some of its darker corners, churning up deep grooves with fierce abandon and blaring feedback.  Some sharp pinch harmonics, wild reverb, and a massive growl of vocals are other prominent components to the band's bag of tricks, all brought together into smashing slabs of doom.
In keeping with their cover art, the music is a dark-shaded thing that requires you to look past the initial impression of broad strokes to recognize the underlying details.  Once you're in with the flow, the neat-claustrophobic atmosphere gains more power, letting them efficiently cover you with tones and rhythms intended to drag you to their depths.  It's hard to escape some unconscious body movement in time with the heavy waves of the songs, assuming you have your speaker volume and level of attention tuned to proper levels, as the saw-blade edges of the stringed instruments power through pedals and crash into the pounding of the drums.  By the time they reach the closing track of "Skulls in the Acid Well", it'll have you feeling like your nerves are being boiled (in the best way that could be).
Caligari Records have added another excellent album to their ever-impressive catalog with a run of 175 cassette copies, sure to be sold out soon, if it's not already so by the time you read this; and at ~40 minutes, it's in prime shape to earn a vinyl release further on, should we be lucky enough.  Even if you can't snag a physical copy, if deep dark doom with open form is what you crave, you must check this out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    early Electric Wizard, Heavydeath, Jupiterian, The Munsens, Sleep


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sweet Sweet Noise Rock...

Golden Legacy ~ Golden Legacy EP (2016)

Chaotic dissonance rarely comes with a hint of beauty, but Golden Legacy seems to have found a wonderful balance between the punching assault of guitar chords of Yanni Georgiou combined with the hammering drums and beautiful voice of Lorena Cachito. Hailing from London, the duo have spent the past year touring throughout Europe, hellbent on reaching a wonderful mixture of both insanity and harmony. Their self-titled EP begins with "Saint Dark", an unforgiving track with lyrics that are out for blood and revenge, spilling seamlessly into the improvised "Gold Meaning Variations", which was recorded to show off the band's talent and power as a live band. Improvisation is something the band has incorporated into their live shows, occasionally creating a 40-minute sprawl of noise and fury. Mirror crawls out from the improvisation beginning with timid vocals that slowly burn into something more angry, but this truly shows the band's main strength, creating a monstrous atmosphere with controlled vocals pulling them away from the extreme chaos present with most noise rock groups. Closing out the EP is another improvisation, "Gold Steps" where bustling guitars and drums became intertwined with the seductive vocals. A digital release will be available January 2016 with vinyl available later in the year.
 ~ Richard

For Fans Of; Lightning Bolt, Portishead, Metz, Pretty GIrls Make Graves, The Jesus Lizard 


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Skip's Top 20 Releases Of 2015...

Top 20 of 2015

1. Waft - Chronolith
"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."

2. 88 Mile Trip - Through the Thickest Haze
 "With "Through the Thickest Haze" bringing on nine new tracks, I've been having a lot of fun with this album, blasting it just about everywhere I happened to of been the last few weeks."

3. Space Probe Taurus - Mondo Satan
"Having listened to the entire record more than a few times now, I can confidently say there isn't a bad track, or even a mediocre track, on the whole thing. And if fuzz was a narcotic, you'd be dead after a listen, or maybe two for those of us with higher tolerances."

4Grusom - Grusom
"This debut full length from them made an even bigger impression on me though, taking all the great ideas and songs from the demo, building on them and adding more tracks in the studio to drop one of the best albums this year."

"Each of their albums are like the score for some fantastic sci-fi movie that never got made. "Everything Is Good" is no exception to this, with slow and mellow nuances that feel as if you're floating in an infinite cosmic ocean, that more often than not leads into bouts of distorted and groove driven stoner rock that are a trip all their own."

6. Soundcrawler - Dead End Host
"France's Soundcrawler can be described as the feral love child of Alice In Chains and Dozer, switching from heavy riffing to melodic and expansive guitar work that manage to create a sweeping realm of stoner rock."

7. Shellfin - Cities Without Names
"The Australia five piece of Shellfin are back at it, this time with the jewel of a stoner rock album called "Cities Without Names". Using huge array of samples, twenty ton riffs, burly vocals, crack drumming, rolling bass lines, and some interesting sounds in the interim, they put it all together and make it a perfect cocktail of heaviness."

"This second album is a booze fueled rock and roll machine with the finest in stoner and blues hardware, all designed to lay down fuzzed out, distorted riffs and heavy bass grooves."

9. XII Boar - Pitworthy
"Pitworthy" is everything you'd expect from the rowdy dudes in XII Boar, loud and crass stoner metal with a heavy dose of southern rock thrown in for good measure."

10. Matalobos - Matalobos EP
 "At just three tracks and still clocking it at around twenty three minutes, we're dealing with massive portions of darkness and heaviness each time the song changes, each on a monolith in its own right."

11. Dopethrone - Hochelga
 "And if you've never heard these guys, this is as good a place to start as any, just be prepared for the uncontrollable urge to generally cause hell after listening."

 12. Midnight Ghost Train - Cold Was The Ground
"While they seem a bit more willing to explore different styles and sounds this time around, the heart of it all is still the same. Straight forward heavy riffs with a groovy blues flare that's always been part of their signature."

13. Tripping the Mechanism - Epostas Virtus
"Add to that what seems like a band that are constantly developing and refining their sound, and you're left with what could be one of the best EPs of the year, and easily two of the coolest sludge tracks you'll hear this year".

14. Mammoth Mammoth - Hammered Again
"Hammered Again" is just what it sounds like from the title, an album full of hard rock that will be the perfect soundtrack for your next keg party, bong session, or general night of debauchery."

15. Black Space Riders - Refugeeum
"I've been following Germany's Black Space Riders for a couple years now, and they've always done one thing really well, that's playing heavy, psychedelic space rock."

16. Red Mountains - Down with the Sun
 "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."

17. Nightslug - Loathe
"Mixing bouts of feedback and brutally heavy sludge riffs, Germany's Nightslug treads that line between noise and music at times. At points, melding the two into a sonic monstrosity that completely pummels the listener."

18.  King Bison - King Bison
"These are straight forward, heavy stoner rock tunes with just the right amount of southern rock and blues influences in there to give them that extra little bit of groove in their riffs."

19. Desert Storm - Omniscient
"Seeming to pick up in nearly the same spot that "Horizontal Life" left off at, the opening salvo "Outlander" opens up the flood gates of booze soaked stoner metal that will have everyone head banging and throwing their hands in the air."

20. Holy Serpent - Holy Serpent
"When all of the parts of this LSD lubed machine work together, you're brought to a stoner doom trip that's more than fitting for all of us connoisseurs of heavy out there."

Honorable Mentions~

Simon Magus - First Year Catastrophe
"Masterful grooves mixed with punchy, heavy guitar riffs creates one of the best Sabbath styled doom albums this year."

Arenna - Given to Emptiness
"Arenna's latest effort is forty-seven minutes of pure stoner bliss, and while the ten minute opener is a pretty long track to kick things off, I don't think it really would of worked as well anywhere else."

"The entire album has a gigantic feel to it, like the difference between looking at a mountain range on the horizon, instead of just a mountain."

OneofYou - ReEducation
"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."

Killer Boogie - Detroit
"If you really dig the raw, explosive sound that the Garage and Heavy Rock bands of the 70's trafficked in, and the spaced out adventures from that classic Psychedelic Rock sound, then you've successfully found a new favorite band."

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Reflections And Distortions...

Disenchanter - Strange Creations (2015)

I first got clued-in to Disenchanter with their jumbo-sized EP at the start of last year, On Through Portals (reviewed right here), which followed their debut EP, Back to Earth, by about half a year.  The Portland-based group has now issued their first LP, and over its approximately hour-long run-time, Disenchanter show how the work put in on those first couple of releases helped them hone their skills.
From the first track, "792", the band is operating with high efficiency, finding room to let things grow into what I'd call 'epic' proportions if that term didn't have so much baggage.  Instead, I'll settle for 'glorious', with the soaring vocals putting me in mind of the better parts of Electric Citizen's Sateen album, while the balance of harmony and aggression on the instrumental side has a dynamic of its own.  Disenchanter seem to have picked up some extra speed since their last EP, with battering rolls of percussion, slick-fingered chord progressions, and some use of overlapping vocals all working to keep things vibrant without taking too much away from the heaviness.
The band also seem to have found room for extra styles in the space of a full album, with "Green Queen", for example, being a heavy rocker with plenty of '70s style slathered across its riffs and chorus arrangements.  At its heart, though, the album stays true to the doom-power of their earlier efforts, just turbo-charged into jolting liveliness.  Their skill with keeping long tracks interesting is well intact, and as their first album, this one will be standing strong for years to come.  If you haven't come across this band before, now's a great time to get into their music.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Blood Farmers, Druglord, Jess and the Ancient Ones, Salem's Pot, early Windhand


Friday, December 25, 2015

A Welcome Sensation...

Stone Machine Electric - The Amazing Terror EP (2015)

The Amazing Terror is the latest release from this Texan group, who've been putting out high-fuzz material since back in 2010.  With a few albums already under their belt, SME are going concise this time around with four tracks on the EP, though the energy doesn't suffer any dilution for the brevity.  Nimble grooving on guitar and bass, complemented by flexible rhythms from the drummer, result in rock somewhere between acid and psych, though the focus seems to mainly be on just getting down with the vibes.  The tracks seem to be cut out of sprawling live sessions in the studio, so there's a nice sense of spontaneity and freedom livening up the performances, particularly when they hit some free-floating cushions of heady space.  Aside from some enthusiastic background yells when the music really heats up, things are pretty much instrumental, making it even easier to slip right into the wash of warm tones.  By all means, check this group out if you dig on some inventive rock with a good ear for friendly distortion.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    The Electric Knives, The Escatones, The Heavy Co., Mondo Drag, Terminal Cheesecake


Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Healthy Growth...

Låt Det Gro - Demo 2015 (2015)

Making their entrance with this demo, the Swedish group of Låt Det Gro (translated, 'Let It Grow') draw audible inspiration from the doom-influenced heavy rock of the '70s, with warmly-amped guitar tones and snappy percussion joining chill bass grooves and smoky vocals for a pleasing and authentic-sounding trip through memory lane.  Snazzy casual shredding comes into play for bridges and solos, laid-back riffs propel the songs along, and in general, the band seems right at home in the crusty-denim world they've brought back to life in their songs.
As the band uses their native tongue for singing and song-titling, non-Swedes may be a bit lost to the specifics of LDG's intent, but the spirit of rock does its job of conveying their enthusiasm with little confusion.  As long as you're willing to let the grooves take you, and you've got a taste for traditional heavy rock, this demo's worth giving your time to hear.  Fingers crossed that the quartet will be able to put out another set of songs in the near future, but until then, this set will have them in good standing.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Deep Purple, Magic Circle, Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Valkyrie


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Rich With Grief...

Earthshine - Doomed to Wander and Never Die (2015)

Spanning ~45 minutes across six tracks, this debut album from the Australian band of Earthshine makes for quite an impressive entrance.  Building on a broad doom metal base, the group emphasizes atmosphere and slow, haunting riffs, with growling vocals which work to strengthen the music instead of just roaring over it.  The percussion and groaning strains of the strings come together with some excellent chemistry, and while the vocals are done well, the singer kindly steps back from time to time so that Earthshine can show off their skills with slow-churning power.
There's something that's difficult to place a finger on in the mixture of styles Earthshine uses on this album - a sort of jazziness to the break-downs, some faint psych rippling to some of the grooves, and a lean post-metal readiness with experimentation shaping the songs are all in there, but there's something practically ineffable as well.  It's tempting to just chalk it up to their musical character, vague as that might be, but that would be short-selling how fascinating they can be.  Whether trying to pick apart their writing-process decisions or just soaking in the results, it's an engaging and absorptive experience.
Similarly, I don't want to shrink the impact this album has in its own standing, but I am damn excited at just the idea of where the band will be with their next album, given how much range and potential they show here.  If atmospheric doom metal is in any way to your liking, check this album out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Bell Witch, Have A Nice Life, Reptensol, Venus Sleeps, early Windhand


Friday, December 18, 2015

Head To Sticky Head...

Chronobot / Hemptress - Split (2015)

Two Canadian groups join forces on this split, with each of them contributing three tracks along with a fixation on leafy green substances and their effects.  Chronobot's side, the 'Trichome Trilogy', starts things off low and slow, with a drawling riff in "Mars Red Eyes" that picks up steam and distortion while heading for trouble in the form of monster reverb.  Things rattle on in strong form from there, with Chronobot's tracks laying down a heady path picked up by Hemptress with their own style.
On Hemptress' side, things pick up a little more hard rock flavor, but the stoner doom core remains firmly intact.  Belting out the vocals and cranking the chords out to match, Hemptress keep things heated for the duration of their half, diving into psych rips of guitar that capture their high energy for those who can't make it to one of their shows.
While both groups bring plenty of character to the table, I've got to give the titling edge to Chronobot, with "Mushrune" and "Hashteroid" rounding out their trio, while Hemptress go for more low-key names and wrap the split up with "Conclusion of Confusion".  The first run of cassettes has already sold out, but there's still vinyl copies available from Sunmask Records (also based in Canada, in case that factors into your shipping calculations).  Good stuff all around, lots of hooky riffs, and very well-suited to cranking up while filling your room with clouds.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Dead Sea Apes, DopeRider, Major Kong, OLDD WVRMS, Weed Priest


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Chew On This...

Major Kong - Galactic Cannibalism EP (2015)

The latest release from those Polish heavy doomers of Major Kong is this four-track EP, hitting nearly half an hour of strident tones and deep grooves.  In keeping with the band's tradition, the songs are instrumental in nature, letting feedback, pinched notes, and just a couple of audio samples take the place of the howling vocals you might expect to find entrenched in the sludgy tones of bass and guitar.  There's also some pedal effects like phasing thrown in a few times, as with the gurgling warble of "Diabolic Mind Control", but for the most part, the music is reliably gritty and straight-forward.
Drum-wise, things are tasty, with perhaps a little more experimentation than usual going on in the beats and fills, and the cymbals are worked to produce some rattling dins that fit right in with the EP's general mood of violence and volume.  The four tracks make a good jumping-in point for those who haven't yet heard one of the band's full albums, with riffs and heaviness in truck-loads, while also serving as an appetite-whetter for old fans until MK's next LP comes along.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Dopelord, Raedon Kong, Salem's Pot, Temple Steps, Toner Low


Monday, December 14, 2015

Let 'em Burn...

Satan's Satyrs ~ Don't Deliver Us (2015) 

As to be expected, Satan's Satyr's are back with their own unique blend of doom metal and sleazy rock and roll. I have to admit that they've grown on me since the first time I heard their music. That very first go around, I wasn't impressed. Over the years though, things have changed between us. The ferocious attack of the bass and guitar, with the higher pitched vocals can create one hell of a catchy combination at times. That was probably one of the things that made me keep giving them a try, along with the satanic heavy rock on Adderall groove that makes itself apparent when the mood strikes. On their new album "Don't Deliver Us", you're given exactly what you'd expect from these guys. With howling, chaotic guitar lines being the driving force behind most of their work, they storm to the forefront from the very beginning of the album. I was a particular fan of the second track “Two Hands”, kicking off with a chugging bass line and those trademark vocals the song is high energy all the way through. Once you work your way into the second half, a garage rock vibe starts working its way through all of the buzz and fuzz. As it rounds out, the tracks gets more traditional, but still with that same grit we all know Satan's Satyrs for having. For me, this is one of their best albums to date, showing off what makes them such a recognisable band in the first place. You can pick up some physical copies from Bad Omen Records still, or get that digital fix over at bandcamp. 

 For Fans Of; Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Witchfinder General, Pentagram


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Rituals Of Morbidity...

Abysmal Grief - Strange Rites of Evil (2015)

This Italian quartet's latest album conjures up an atmosphere of occultism to enshroud their doom metal, with echoing voices, eerie organ melodies, and sinister bass-lines coming together in a way that fuses old-school heavy metal dramatism with a sharper and more modern form.
Gurgling vocals play up the 'sorcerer in a dark tower' mood, while the guitarist does a strong job of channeling stormy turbulence through his instrument, occasionally striking with lightning-like jabs of shredding.  Heady break-downs and build-ups take the listener for a ride through some wild territory, while track titles such as "Cemetery", "Child of Darkness", and "Dress in Black Cloaks" provide an extra taste of the musical setting when the vocals are too much to decipher.
It all comes together as a very solid album, easy to jump into, but with plenty of additional depth to encourage listeners to familiarize themselves with the songs.  As it's getting released on tape and LP (from Horror Records) as well as CD (via Terror From Hell Records), and almost certainly digital as well, you'll have plenty of options for how to get into it yourself, should occult doom metal be your bag.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Bleeth, Death SS, Heavydeath, Pallbearer, Runes Order


Friday, December 11, 2015

Second Golden Dawn...

Raedon Kong - Critical Paths (2015)

Coming back with their second full album after a self-released EP in 2013, Louisiana's duo of Raedon Kong stretch and blend genre definitions with an eagerness to blare their own style loud and clear (well, clear aside from the thick layers of fuzz wrapped around the guitar).  Doom, sludge, stoner rock, heavy metal, noise, and more get heated up, melted, and reformed to the needs of RK, who keep things heavy whether they're throwing themselves into a violent riff trip, twisting through complex melodies, or just getting down in the grooves and riding along to new territory.
Sure, there's some moments of calm, like the sweetness-out-of-nowhere turned inside-out of "Daughters", but that contrast works in fine service to emphasize the beats and pressure elsewhere.  It's also worth pointing out how well the duo blends and counter-points their voices throughout the album, achieving moments which will have you breaking out in goosebumps.
Hell Comes Home Records over in Ireland (a far trip from the band's home state; there's got to be a good story behind the two coming together) is the label handling this piece of sharp-edged brilliance, and making it available on vinyl or digital download from their BandCamp page.  If metal that doesn't confine itself to one style or slip up with the fusion appeals to you, be sure to check these guys out; just be sure to listen to the album in full to hear all they have to offer this time around.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Behold! The Monolith, Dead Hand, The Munsens, Reptensol, Warrior Pope


Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Dead Don't Rest...

Heavydeath - Demo XII: The Storm (2015)

Making with yet another in their long line of publicly-available demos, Heavydeath continue developing their style while retaining rough edges to the tone and production.  Thick riffs and dominating reverb play to the band's usual strengths, while the drummer gets a few spots in which he comes out beating harder and faster than their average crushing crawl.  The band also plays with some shiver-inducing tones and distortion on the guitar, and distant-mixed vocals provide an otherworldly vibe in "One Eye", while "Journey to the Shores of Death" is a rich atmospheric slab of funereal aching.
Even if you're well-accustomed to the band's modus operandi by this point, it's worth checking in on them with this one to stay informed on what Heavydeath are trying out, and to get a sense of where they might land musically once their next album drops.  Very good stuff, as this band always seems to deliver.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Abstracter, Disenchanter, Hoof, The Hyle, Thergothon


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Ready To Fight...

Quallus - Demo (2015)

Making their demo debut with a single ~20-minute track divided into two parts, this German group plays in the realm of the slow and heavy, adding a sludgy vocal twist to the usual bass-loving doom recipe.  Stir in a few psychedelic swirls from the guitarist, strong drum presence and variety, and a skill with making the lengthy sections flow together, and it's pretty impressive stuff for the work of just one day's recording.
Finding out what direction the band will take with subsequent releases is tempting, but right now it's nice to just enjoy their music as it stands without too much structuring to hamper their outpouring of riffs and throbbing bass-lines.  Keep your ears peeled for further work from these guys, as whether it's another demo or the jump to an EP, they've got considerable potential ready to be refined.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Attalla, The Hyle, NIXA, Plaguewielder, Wolf Blood


Saturday, December 05, 2015

Eat It All...

Various Artists - Brown Acid: The First Trip (2015)

Between Permanent Records' Lance Barresi and RidingEasy Records' Daniel Hall, the tunes on this compilation have been assembled from some serious collections and hard-to-find records, all of them showing the roots of metal as they grew in the '60s and '70s.  Fuzz, riffs, attitude, and honesty are the things you'll be hearing here, decked out with flavors from funk, psych, and hard rock (and just a dash of pop every now and then to help give those choruses some extra hooks).
Between blistering guitar-work, snazzy drumming, and grooves that'll get trapped between your ears for days, it's a collection that'll have you ready to go do some digging of your own to turn up these bands and more unknown excellence.  It's also some great stuff to just pop on when you want a heavy rock fix without having to deal with the modern sound of bands imitating bands who were imitating... well, you get the idea.  This is the real stuff, not slavish emulation generations removed from the original fire.  Before stoner rock got pinned down with specific criteria, before metal had any specifics beyond 'heavy', bands like these were making and breaking the musical molds.  And now it's here for easy access, so you don't even have to deal with moldy record jackets or dust from sleeves that haven't been pulled out in decades (if you don't want to, that is).
Best of all, the original labels and band-members have been tracked down, and these are genuinely licensed tracks, not just cheap bootlegs, so the sound quality is solid while the creators get due credit, royalties, and so on.  If you have any interest in getting a more-informed perspective on stoner rock's lineage, or just want some dirty, fuzzy rock, this compilation should be on your list of records to acquire.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Cold Blood, Fear Itself, It's A Beautiful Day, Salem Mass, Steve Miller Band


Thursday, December 03, 2015

From The Deep, Dark Depths...

Dark Ocean Society ~ Outbound (2015)

Dark Ocean Society's sole member C.M. Tedor creates a break wondering soundscape for his second record, Outbound. Beginning vocals on opener "Tides of Time" may suggest a break, unmoving tone until a screeched vocal shocks you unveiling a much more demonic overtone. Guitars so permeated with distortion create a sound stretching the covering a plane never considering going backward for a second as they spiral more and more until a fantastically abrupt end. "Outbound" follows with more bleakness with jams continuing to overflow your speakers until the sounds of a keyboard mimic something akin to a spaceship drifting further into the abyss of a frozen desert. Chanting echoes on Expanse end the meandering trip with sounds of crashes, clanks and angrier vocal bound together by a steady guitar. Memoriam slows the guitars and speeds up the drums for a wonderfully doom filled track followed directly is Exit with sped up guitars and images of an old world of yore with fluttering instruments for a sonics filled ride that needs to be heard. Portals shows off exceptional instrumentals leading into the final track "Ghost of lo", my personal favourite, with ease. A slow growing trippy, acid soaked hypnosis meant to be heard with headphones in seclusion at 1 am. Each perfectly named track bleeds into the next with ease. A constant isolated feeling of sounds woven together skillfully is only broken by the sound of wind sweeping and moving into nothing. A stoic and stunning work.
- Richard

For Fans Of; Neurosis, Isis, Cult of Luna, Tool, (post Syd Barrett/pre-Dark Side of the Moon) Pink Floyd


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Let's Go Mudding...

L.o.W. - Fuck Your Prerogatives demo (2015)

From the heavy-duty cover art and release title, this demo had me expecting some rough-and-tumble material, and it did not disappoint.  From the sludgy vocals to the rumble of fuzzy bass, L.o.W. dripped aggressive attitude with every note.  There's a joyful abandon to their playing, with enough slop to their style to keep things rooted in dirty honesty, and to my ears, they draw a lot of inspiration from bands of the late '90s, when the NOLA sludge sound was starting to spread to other regions, each with their own take on it.
The band also has some surprising touches of melody going on, mostly with middle track "Unfuckables", adding some uncommon flavor to what they're doing.  There's enough variety going on to make for a good demo, and fans of sludge that colors outside the lines may want to check in on them with this and future efforts.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Gilla Bruja, Legalize Crime, Lightsucker, Outlaw Order, Weedeater


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Dark Side Of The Moon...

Moon Curse - Spirit Remains

Update - In an unexpected turn of events a couple of our writers wanted to cover Spirit Remains, so instead of fighting to the death to unveil a victor, we're just gonna post both reviews. So there...
To my mind, there are two types of heavy: the sort that leaves you nodding your head to grooves and the sort that leaves you cowering in fear from your speakers.  While Moon Curse don't quite reach the infernal racket of, say, Come My Fanatics-era Electric Wizard, they're certainly not messing around, and while there's plenty of groove to this album, if they had to be put in one of the two brackets, I'd err on the side of the latter.  Throughout this album the lumberingly heavy riffs tempered with generous doses of auditory LSD puts me in mind of a recent favourite of mine, the great Monolord.
Spirit Remains is the Milwaukee, Wisconsin trio Moon Curse's second long player and it pretty-much ticks all the boxes for what an epically-proportioned stoner doom record should be.  The songs are long, they're heavy and very well-executed.  While Moon Curse's sound is not one that's never been explored before, they do it as well - if not better in some cases - than any other comparable band of the last few years.
Music this heavy can often feel a little brutish.  While that's no bad thing per se, continuous crushing heaviness with no moments of relief can feel somewhat caveman-like, for need of a better phrase.  Moon Curse have clearly realised this because their particular brand of heavy psych doom has little touches here and there that make this feel like one of the more sophisticated examples of the style in recent memory.  On Electric Veins there's a great section lead by the trippy vocals, with only minimal work from the instruments.  There's also a synthesizer in the background giving the song little flourishes of colour every now and then.  Other moments stand out too - the acoustic outro of the frankly incredible "Lord of Memories" really sets the song apart as something different.
Spirit Remains would be a great album without any of that.  The riffs are great, the vocals are well done, the drumming is excellent, and it's generally a well-recorded album.  What gives it the edge over the numerous other lesser albums in this style is the panache with which the album is executed.
~ Martin


My relationship with Moon Curse harkens back to the early hours of a Friday morning sometime in August 2012, when one night I stumbled upon their bandcamp page. Several (ok, about 8-10) Jack and cokes into the night I found myself buying all four variant's of their awesome debut LP, and have loved them ever since... I now own no less than 10 copies of that record, superseding all my other obsessive collections (Giants - Old Stories (7) and Sleep's Holy Mountain (7)). So with all the will in the world, I'm going to try my hardest to be entirely unbiased with the forthcoming paragraphs...

Ok, thats bollocks, Spirit Remains is awesome and you all need to buy it. Sod it, I don't care. I've been listening to this for what must be nigh on a year now if not more, in demo's, rough cuts and various other incarnations and it had me gripped from the very first play.
Right out off the bat the band's musical progression is clearly evident. Everything feel's bigger, grander and more layered than before. This can often be the downfall for a band of this ilk. With the increased recording budget and overly thought out song structure that often comes with a follow up album, band's often end up straying away from elements that were so often the true heart and soul of their original style. Once those elements are polished away a massive chunk of the character regularly goes with it. Thank fuck, that didn't happen here, I'd be heartbroken. No, once again the trio have knocked it straight out the park. Retaining all those element's that I loved about the self titled album and most notably my favourite track Black Elk, everything has just been added to, rather than been replaced to make way for new ideas. The most notable addition is an increased ferocity which really helps carry the album forward. The track Vicious Sky is a perfect example, as the increased pace works brilliantly to contrast the very Sabbath like 11+ minute tone that is Lord of Memories. The dark melodic mix doesn't waver for a second of the album's 42 minute duration and remains sombre and eerie from start to finish like an Edgar Allan Poe story. Something that's in no small part down to the huge amount of time, effort and detail that evidently went into it's mastering. From start to finish Spirit Remains is beautifully satisfying on a multitude of levels. I really don't know how they're going to top this next time around.

Go preorder it from our friends at Bilocation Records now!

For Fans Of; Mountain Witch, Monolord, Uncle Acid, (early) Om, Black Prism