Sunday, May 31, 2015

Skeletal Stickiness...

R.O.L.F. - Es un Hermoso Lugar para Morir (2015)

With a collection of releases reaching back to the band's demo in 2010, R.O.L.F. (Remembrance of Lysergik Funeral) put out their first LP (American Tape) in 2012, and with the time since then, they've been hammering out the tracks that appear on this new one.  Those songs rear up with a snarl and fists lashing, with the quick'n'dirty sludge of opener "La Fuente" providing an initial salvo that puts a few holes in your ears to let the rest in with ease.  The smoggy coating keeps most of the music firmly rooted in that initial sludge base, but there are also some moments where they pull back a little bit to show some more melodic and less 'bash your brains against the wall' ways to handle the anger.  These less jolting grooves help get the grit down, and the times when they go at mixing the two directly (as when a bright cowbell opening gets snuffed by a gurgling growl in "A Cuchillo", only to lead into rising chords from the guitar, brutal to tuneful) show a band determined to keep things from getting stale.
For a second album, there's a lot to appreciate.  The band has a clear fix on their main style, but they're letting it grow organically into some other areas, trimming it back when it doesn't work and following with curiosity and an open mind when it does.  CD copies are already available for order, and the vinyl release is scheduled to go up tomorrow, so if you want some sludge with surprises drifting under the surface, give this trio your attention and don't mind the bruises.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    HATE&MERDA, Grey Widow, Fange, Acid Bath, Rorcal


Worm-Fed Blooms...

Corpse Light - Without Form EP (2015)

With this, their first release, the Baltimore-based band of Corpse Light makes their way into the modern doom scene with half an hour divided between four tracks.  The first of these, "The Fool", quickly establishes the weight of the band's taste, plying the listener's ears with slow but tuneful shifts from the strings, serious drumming, and a low-set roar from the vocalist, with a rush of life coming in towards the end.  A slight drop back down to more somber tones opens "Lying in State", which wears its funeral influences well; a measured pace and reserved riff give you about two minutes of tense peace before a howl of pain breaks loose from the singer, though whether he's voicing a mourner or the buried one is difficult to determine without reference to a lyric sheet.  Again, strikingly melodic strains rise up from the heaviness, giving the song sentiment without any sort of sappiness.
"R Complex" pulls in a more snarly riffing style, giving the drummer more freedom and sounding something like desert rock slowed down an octave or two.  Here, the singer is practically bellowing out, though still with a fuzzy filter effect corrupting the clarity in a well-fit way.  "Kenophobia" comes in to close the curtains with a nasty vibe like the death throes of a large beast, surging, relapsing, and fighting for breath.  Taken together, the four songs lead into each other quite well, connected by atmosphere and effects with evident skill.  If breath-snatching and oppressive senses of doom are to your taste, be sure to look into Corpse Light.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    The Sleer, Heavydeath, Hesperian Death Horse, Santo Rostro, Shrine of the Serpent


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Braying And Praying...

Brume - Donkey (2015)

The down-cast and mossy settings of Brume's first full album are evident as soon as you look at the track titles, the five of which run in order as "Shadows", "Win", "Help Me", "Even If Love", and "Mother Earth"; once you hit play, that moodiness manifests itself with full strength as the bass rumbles and a clear but obscured voice rises from the morass of low-end sounds.  Slow-moving but sharp-edged grooves put the muscle of the songs in action, sliding past so smoothly that before you know it, another 6 minutes or so has slipped by on well-oiled tunage.  There's a similar sense of that monolithic-but-psychedelic style Windhand moved away from with their second album, though Brume give it their own personal touches, such as being more free-handed with the energy.
Given how slabby each of the songs is, it's hard to go into more detail without just picking away at the ways in which they channel the tones, or going on a point-by-point analysis of how they bend the mood each time.  Suffice it to say, it's an album that comes in, does its thing extremely well, and leaves you with a sense of satisfaction and an urge to hear it again.  While I'm personally really hoping that this makes it to vinyl at some point, you can pick up a copy on CD from what's left of When Planets Collide's 100-copy run, at least at the time of this review's writing.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Psychedelic Witchcraft, Windhand, Jess and the Ancient Ones, Major Kong, Acid King


Take A Seat...

Green Druid - EP (2015)

As Green Druid admits on their BandCamp page, the only reason this isn't an album is because they didn't want their first LP to only have three songs.  Big, heavy, and steeped in doom, those three songs get readied by the atmospheric "Nightfall", which at just three minutes is a quickie by the standards established by the rest of the EP.  With distant bird cries, the sharpening of a blade, and tension from strings and synth, "Nightfall" sets the darkened mood with a deliberating hand, and the breaking-in of more typically doom metal bass fuzz with "Ritual Sacrifice" comes as a good shake to the senses.  There's a near-blackened texture to the venom in their buzzy feedback, into which the singer sinks his voice like a body into a swamp, growing less intelligible and more frantic as the end approaches.
"Rebirth" cuts in from there with a somewhat-faster amble to its wide-loping riffs, keeping the vocals at a reach but reducing their submersion a touch.  Think early Black Sabbath covered loosely by Cough, and you'll be near the same impression the song gave me.  Lastly, "Cursed Blood" spreads its wings over half of the EP's ~40-minute run-time, taking the blueprints of the other two biggies and expanding from there.  The band throws themselves into it with a focus of purpose, and for their first release, it's exceptional.  Thinking ahead to how crushing their full album will be is a little too much to handle, so just enjoy this monster EP for what it is.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Goya, Coffin Torture, Windhand, The Munsens, Bell Witch



Friday, May 29, 2015

Strange New World...

Mother Engine - Absturz (2015)

There's a lot of conceptual stuff coming to life in Mother Engine's second album.  Aside from the song-writing taking two years (with recording taking three days), there's the album artwork, which details a landscape shift from the aquatic setting of a crashed space-craft to a deadly desert, with brief lushness in between the two; this is to go with the narrative of the album, which accompanies the crew of that doomed space-craft (which shares the band's name) on their journey to survive.
From the first of the album's six big songs, "Nebel", the band comes together with a great sense of purpose and unity, pulling out trippy stretches of mostly-instrumental psychedelia with warmth and inventiveness, and changing it up in dizzying new ways with each additional song.  Hard grooves, casual trips, head-banging rhythms, and smooth-gelled twists come together in a kaleidoscopic fashion, with the band keeping their cool even at the most hair-raising moments.  One to catch the attention of any fans of heavy psychedelic rock, Absturz is worth every moment of the work put into it by the band, and while Mother Engine will have a hard time topping this, the fiery enthusiasm in their performance here leaves me with no doubt that their talents will burn even brighter with the next full album, whenever it may land on our planet.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Tuber, Frozen Planet....1969, Wired Mind, ZQKMGDZ, Lucuma


Please Insert Token...

Out Of Space - Invaders EP (2015)

This half-hour EP is the first release from the three-piece French group Out Of Space, and while the names could just as easily belong to a tribute band for The Prodigy, OOS buckle down and play some spacy psychedelic rock with a hard stoner edge to introduce themselves to our planet.  They begin with a trip down "Bloody Road", throwing out ear-snagging riffs and hooks with ease as they plow through the dirt, and it'll quickly either get your head moving in time with the beats or wake you up enough to start doing so.  "Lined Coin" drops in with a slower, bluesier (but still very fuzzy), and generally more '90s-tinged spin, letting out some bleary blaring from the guitar as the drummer holds it down.
"Psycho Jake" and "Riot" form the last of the first half, exploring the psychedelic grunge territory further before it's on into the ~16-minute "Desert In Bloom" for the finish.  The final song starts out slow and very spacy, letting the vocals and drummer set the scene before the guitar slides right in with a buzz and a grin to help things grow from there.  By the end of the track, it's undergone so many alterations that you'll have to strain to remember the start, though they make it all flow together like water.  All in all, a great EP for fans of heavy/stoner/psych/space rock, and a very nice beginning for the band.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    CHIEFS, Fuzz Evil, Slow Season, Mother Mars, Tuber


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Feel The Atmosphere...

Telstar Sound Drone - Jaegerklause Berlin Jan 2014 (2015)

Telstar Sound Drone's first album landed in 2013 (our full thoughts on that one can be found here), defining the band's incredibly heavy and psychedelic sound with its space-warping power.  The band is still hard at work on the follow-up album, which we're told will be arriving around the end of this year, but in the interim they've released this four-track live EP to tide over the slavering fans.  In addition to three of their own tracks, done up in lavish form, they've included a cover of "Hurricane Fighter Plane" (which I'd come to associate it with Alien Sex Fiend, given how many times their cover showed up on Cleopatra Records compilations, but now find is originally attributed to The Red Crayola).  
Rich resonance, vibratory feedback, and echoing vocals give the music its primary characteristics, and while the audience is largely swamped out of audibility by the tornadoes of sound, they voice their approval enthusiastically in the moments between songs.  Fans of the band will be happy to find that all of the usual magic is there, plus a little extra improvisation to go with the setting, and those who haven't dipped an ear into the act yet will find this a nice place to start.  Either way, Telster Sound Drone are doing just fine out there, and though the EP is currently digital-only, you can certainly let Bad Afro Records know if you feel it deserves physical release.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Mondo Drag, MC5, A Place To Bury Strangers, Moon Curse, JETDOG


The Smoking Clutch...

Burning Full Throttle - Traveler (2015)

Two years after the release of their first album, Burning Full Throttle are back with another, this time putting some extra spin on their characteristic hard stoner rock sound.  They hit the road rolling with "El Camino", which tosses a couple of nods to Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" before burning off towards red-eyed horizons and the rest of the album.  Kicking hard on all fronts, with belted-out vocals wailing over the bang of the drums and the guitar/bass fuzz-fronts, the band tears into and through its songs with a gleam in their eye and fire in their back-pockets, rarely settling down more than a slow rock stomp.
With five of the eight songs on the album in the 4-5 minute range (and two of the remainder drifting less than half a minute further), BFT packs the riffs in quick, jams out as much soloing as they can get away with, and hits the next one while you're still processing the last one's hooks.  They've really captured that New Mexico desert road with exceptional clarity for a band all the way over in Hungary, and while there are a couple of down moments (the Cookie Monster vocals of "Desert Monster" probably take the position of prime offender, even if it is done as a joke), the album as a whole stands pretty firm.  Best enjoyed with a window cracked to let the smoke rise out over the asphalt.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Ape Skull, Desert Suns, The Dust Bowl, Hobo Magic, The Mound Builders


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Roll Over, Shake Hands...

Derelics - Introducing EP (2015)

To quote the band's own description of their debut EP, "it's called 'Introducing' cuz it's an introduction... To what, well, you'll have to listen to figure out."  Hopefully they'll forgive the spoilers, but what you'll hear is a heavy stoner rock with a good ear for melodies and a knack for twisting the songs into interesting new forms without losing the essential groove.  There's a little grunge in their DNA, but it feels like Derelics are more concerned with just rocking their balls loose than living by any sort of genre guide-lines, with all sorts of influences bubbling to the surface over the course of the three songs.  Each of them has plenty of charm, but as is usually the case with me, the longest one won me over the most (in this case, that's "Ride the Fuckin' Snake to Valhalla", and if you're not smiling at least a little at that title, we'll have some stone-faced doom for you another day).  The band has a vibrant energy playing together, plenty of tweaks and fuzz, and seem to be having a great time doing what they do, so get yourself introduced and stay in touch with Derelics.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    From Deep Space, Queen Chief, For Love Not Lisa, Special People, Alice In Chains


You Must Yield...

Wicked Inquisition - Wicked Inquisition (2015)

After seven years and two EPs, Wicked Inquisition have finally released their first LP, with an evident good use of the time spent getting to it.  Things are brought up to speed in short order by the opening track, "Black Magik Nacht", putting pummeling riffs and matching drum-beats to work with touches of '80s gusto to give it some extra juice.  A little bit of a tempo drop eases you right into "Crimson Odyssey", and the group gets a touch more open about their appreciation for powerful heavy metal as the vocals rise up more dramatically and the guitar goes a touch more symphonic with the chording.  It's this blending of styles that forms their focus for the rest of the album, with traditional staples like nuclear war ("M.A.D.") and man's inevitable doom ("In Shackles", "Death Of Man") mingling with more upbeat material ("Sun Flight" and "Tomorrow Always Knows" with its cheeky Beatles tap).
A capper comes in the form of Wicked Inquisition's self-titled track on their self-titled album (ding ding ding), which condenses the mood of the album into one thoroughly-solid last shot.  The unity of the album from start to finish stands out more with each revisit, and the group has really out-done themselves with putting together a first album they can still be proud of years later.  Check it out if you like traditional heavy metal, moreso if you like hearing it with some experimental twists.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Carnivore, Earthling, Monolith (USA), early Exciter, Pentagram


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Leader Of The Herd

King Bison ~ King Bison (2015)

From those rolling Pennsylvania hills comes a band that sounds like it could be from the heart of the south. The follow up to King Bison's debut EP is a self-titled 30 minute romp through the woods in a 4x4, guzzling beer and smoking copious amounts of dope. 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. Somethings remain timeless, down and dirty, heavy riff driven rock is one of those things. It really doesn't matter which song you go to on the album, it's going to be a killer. Between thumping drum rhythms, distorted and fuzzed out southern fried riffs you have a smokey, blues infused vocal delivery. Not being able to talk about just one of these tracks, because it wouldn't do justice to how stellar this album is. "March of the Sasquatch" had me hooked on the first listen, I think I hit the back button quite a few times that first time. You have a song about cryptid beats from around the world, matched with slamming drums and a riff that's fuzzier than Bigfoot himself. The next track that grabbed me was "Pariah", because everyone likes a song about a good lookin' woman. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, man. With some rough vocals on this one, it's really a heavier than hell blues song, and it's great. Hell, it might even get you laid. The closing track, "Space Boogie" is little bit more mellow than the other tracks, with a bit of psych thrown in at points just to spice up the batch some. Once you get into the second half, a massive guitar solo starts howling and takes over until the end. Look for this album to really catch on once word gets around, and you can be the first on your block with the CD from Snake Charmer Coalition, or just grab the digital copy from King Bison. Either way, you'll want in on this one.

For Fans Of; Artimus Pyledriver, Sasquatch, Midnight Ghost Train

Monday, May 25, 2015

Another Trip Down Under

AVER ~ Nadir (2015)

 Australia's AVER are back with their first release since 2011's debut album that Jay reviewed back then, and the good people loved. Their latest album "Nadir" was released just a couple months ago and, not surprisingly, has been widely acclaimed since day one. They took the tried and true formula that made their first album so good, refined it, and stepped up their game even further. The fuzz is palpable on this slab of psyched out stoner rock that seems to never stop giving the good stuff, at least not for sixty minutes, then you just hit play again. Always on the move, but never in a hurry to get there, the album is infested with raw, powerful vocals, and heavy melodic riffs that ooze into your ears and slowly start taking over your mind. With the ability to move between teeth smashing heaviness and mellow, melodic interludes with the sort of ease that we walk from room to room with, the album is sure to have something for everyone that's a fan of this blog. After a couple of complete spins, I was stuck on the fourth track "White Lies", and it really drives home that point I was just making. The song opens up slow, some simple strumming and clean guitar playing, but it won't stay that way too terribly long. Picking up a little steam over the first two minutes, the vocals make their appearance at that point. They're blusey sometimes, and can move their way into grunge territory without any notice really, except for maybe an incoming fuzz riff. That's the beginning of a recurring pattern, melodic lulls with massive, hard hitting peaks. With most of their songs having that peak and valley pattern to them, "White Lies" included, you find yourself getting lost inside each and every one of them, the almost ten minute run time of a lot of the tracks probably doesn't hurt that cause either. And seeing as how the album's title is referring to a low point, or valley, it all fits together just perfectly. If you didn't discover their first album until a couple years later like I did, this is your chance to get in on the second album right now, don't pass it up.

 For Fans Of; Nebula, Dozer, Sungazer

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cry Of Rebirth...

Kroh - Precious Bones (2015)

Originally formed in 2011 before breaking up the following year, Kroh have reformed themselves with this new single, which has the B-side of "Heaving Earth" to go with the title track.  "Precious Bones" sets the tone with down-dropping tones and percussive vortices as the vocalist lays on the drama with her delivery, crying out unsatisfied desires as the instruments grimly soldier on.  "Heaving Earth" injects a crunchier vibe for the bass and guitar, with the drummer continuing his strong performance and the vocals going slightly more aerial.  As an introduction to the band's new line-up, everyone gets a clear representation while also defining the sound they're going for, so if you have a taste for doom rock, you might want to give them ten minutes of your time.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Possessor, John Gallow, Mist (Slovenia), Grimmage, Lords of Beacon House


Get Your Hammer...

Abysmal Grief / Runes Order - Split (2015)

This split brings together two Italian doom metal bands (oh, and it's on Italian Doom Metal Records), with the quartet of Abysmal Grief providing the A-side, and the duo of Runes Order on B-side duty.  Abysmal Grief's side, "Hymn of the Afterlife", opens with a very atmospheric vibe, with church-bells tolling, muffled chanting, and the sound of an organ droning over it all; heavy bass provides an interruption to the rites, creating an entry-point for the rest of the band's metal to invade and corrupt the established order.  The chants become more solemn, a demonic voice emerges to rumble and hiss, and the organ shifts to more insidious keyboarding while the drums continue their dirge-like pacing.  The effect is near-hypnotic at times, thanks to the steady rise and fall of the elements overlapping each other, and the whole thing would go quite well as the basis for a short horror film.
Runes Order's side, though also a single track, is sectioned into five acts, beginning with "Join the Convent" and proceeding through "Snuff the Nun", "The Witch Nun", "Electroshock Torture", and "Pray!".  A simple drone forms the base, expanded into additional keyboards and synth pulsing before heavier hits and the vocals arrive, and with the measured handling of the pieces, like Abysmal Grief's track, it covers itself in the sensations of a witchy giallo-like horror film, though with more of a hallucinatory aspect.
The record has a 500-copy run (200 on grey vinyl, 300 on standard black), so for fans of dark soundscapes, it's certainly worth checking in on before they become unavailable.  If you're willing to sit down with the record in a darkened room and give it a fair chance at the moodiness, odds are good that you'll get some tingling along your spine.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Evoken, Amort, Goblin, Sutekh Hexen, Factrix


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Blood-Slicked Aisles...

Sacred Monster - Monster Double Feature (2015)

The Chicago-based quintet of Sacred Monster have been kicking around since 2011, though they only released their first EP early last year.  They've taken a bit less time to get this follow-up out, so everyone who had their ears tickled by the first one will find more gnashing and bashing to suit their tastes by the two tracks of this Double Feature.  First up is the Lovecraft-inspired "Charles Dexter Ward", a howling rendition from the POV of the tale's ancient sorcerer as he plots his revenge and other nefarious deeds.  A hard riff lays the main groove, which takes off as SM hits the solo, bleeds off into a trailing note, and slams back in to close it out.  "Bum Knee" skews a little bluesier with its style before the vocals storm in to transform it to mosh-mode.  They somehow mix the blues and bloody noses together in working fashion, with the energy and humor put in by the band-mates serving to gel it further.  The two tracks play off of each other in a lively way, and the EP, though quick, serves as a nice demonstration of the band's capabilities.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Dead Hand, Repellers, The Hyle, Yanomamo, Lords of Venus


Space Gets Bent...

Multishiva - Multishiva EP (2015)

The half-hour covered by the three songs on this EP forms the first release from the Finnish psychedelic rock group of Multishiva, and though you might expect them to still be finding their footing (which they might be), on these three songs the band launches themselves forward at full speed.  Freak-out guitar licks, throbbing bass, drums that can go from slow to flicker-twitch in two seconds, and vocals with a full chest of air pushing them out into the echoing space come together in a blur of sound that pulses in just the right places to pick you up with it for the ride.  Multishiva strikes a balance between energized and spacy, mixing rocket-fuel guitar licks with slow-burn ring-mod effects, and the band juggles them about in ways that show off their long hours of practice without losing any sense of spontaneity.  The instrumental tear-off sections have an amazing spark to them, enough to make you believe they've been at this for years, and given that this is just their beginning, things are certainly looking up for Multishiva.  Give it a shot if you have any sort of fondness for psychedelic rock, but be prepared to have it taking up your free listening time for the rest of the month.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Gallileous, JPT Scare Band, Wired Mind, AXIS/ORBIT, Molior Superum


Friday, May 22, 2015

Putting It To The Test...

Mos Generator / Stubb - The Theory of Light & Matter (2015)

If you've heard either Mos Generator or Stubb before (or really, most anything put out by HeviSike Records), expectations of some toothsome stoner rock should already be percolating in your brain; if you're new to any or all of them, this split makes for a very fine introduction, with each of the bands contributing three solid tracks.  Mos Generator takes the A-side, digging back through the decades for the psychedelic seasonings of their side, with fuzz-headed hard riffs getting melted all over by heated break-downs and syncopated spine-twitchers.  They do slide into a meaner angle with their last buster, "There's No Return from Nowhere", but here again is an introduction of sweeter melodies to even out the ride, cinching it up with a flourish.
For their part, Stubb get loose in a bluesier form, taking a 'my legs aren't working right now' sensibility in to channel the psychedelic influences through to the distortion and grooves of their half.  Mesmerizing and casually experimental, you can hear the guitarist's reluctance to let go of a riff's mutation when the time comes to fade out and move on.  The two sides add up to a satisfyingly diverse and deep-ended spectrum of stoner rock, released today digitally and on limited vinyl (red & black marbled from HeviSike, and white from the bands), so go ahead and pick up a copy if you've been wanting something to scratch a bleary-groove-wanting itch.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Isaak, Groggy, The Hunted Crows, Syreregn, Red Scalp


Use Your Ears...

Omar - I Am Heavy Metal, Who Are You? (2015)

Do you like hard rock, either modern or heavily influenced by what it was in the '80s?  If the answer to that is a 'yes,' then you'll probably want to check in on Omar, a group releasing its first album today; it would have been here sooner, but due to a stolen shipment of vinyl, the time is now.  Relying on head-banging rhythms and noodly guitar riffing to pull in listeners, Omar bring in more heaviness than this style of music usually handles, though never really enough to shift it into 'heavy rock'.  Thanks in part to the glossiness of the mixing and production, things do go a little too close to radio rock (especially with the vocals), but the band's enthusiasm is hard to deny.  While the heavy metal claimed by the title doesn't appear too often, Omar does have it in them when they calm down, with tracks like "Ounce of Dirt" and "Bayonet" showing a more compelling style as the band gets less giddy.  Depending on your tolerance for cock rock, you might get more or less out of this, but there's little doubt that it's exactly what Omar wanted to do.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    MACH22, MAXX11, Black Stone Cherry, High Spirits, La Chinga


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Finding New Nebulae...

Frozen Planet... 1969 - Lost Traveller Chronicles, Volume Two (2015)

It's no secret (or if it is, it's a very poorly-kept one) that Australia is home to some of the best heavy psych rock to be found these days.  One of the biggest fighters for that scene, right up with Desert Highways, is the label of Pepper Shaker Records, which (in addition to the oft-lauded Mother Mars) has handled releases by Little Big Wolf and our subject today, Frozen Planet....1969.  Continuing on from the first volume of their Lost Traveller Chronicles, FP69 pick up right where they left off, pulling listeners from the first into a swirling cloud of fuzz, feedback, thunderous drums, and space-brained riffs.
Since the music is built around instrumental jamminess, it's up to the track-list to provide a setting, and with names such as "The Long Journey Home (Through Glitter, Dust And Debris)" and "Drifting Gently Backwards In Slow Motion While Staring Out Over A Suspended Streaming Mass Of Colour", it's not hard at all to say they've succeeded.  Reading and rereading the names as the string-tones spasm and twitch into long-burning grooves
It's not all your standard excellent heavy psychedelic rock, though, as the band has included touches of dub (for example, "Silver-Lined Cloud Lounge"), blues ("Aerial Burial"), shoegaze (that extra-long one I named earlier), and jazz ("Distant Star Island") for an ever-shifting, always-vivid cosmic blanket to cover your mind.  While it's just a little over half an hour, the album feels so sky-fillingly large as to not seem wanting.  Besides, room needs to be saved for Vol. 3, whenever it arrives, and should the opportunity for a vinyl release arise, no editing will need to be done to squeeze it on wax.  Currently available on CD and digital, so kick back and give it a listen until you're orbiting out there with Frozen Planet.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Gallileous, Telstar Sound Drone, Salem's Pot, Wicked Lady, JPT Scare Band


Dying Yet Again...

HEAVYDEATH - Awakening of the Forgotten (2015)

The ever-productive Heavydeath are back again, this time with ~20 minutes of material both old ("Awakening of the Forgotten", a reworking of a track from one of the numerous demos) and new ("Steel from Beyond", "Old Dust Alive").  The group's blending of death and doom is as satisfying as any previous release, but with a little more warmth and richness to the recording, and less of the crypt-studio feel (though I still found myself shivering for some reason).  The way the bass and vocals play off of each other is where it feels the meat of the songs is residing, with the guitar's sharp buzz acting as a scalpel to carve things up just as they start to settle in, and sometimes going a bit mad with the slashing.  "Old Dust Alive" really hits a nerve with the distortion effects, so even being the shortest of the three tracks, it gets under your skin and creeps into your bones.  If you haven't already given Heavydeath a listen, this is a great place to start; if you have, it's just more to appreciate, and gives a good sense of how they've adjusted things since the days of the first track's original recording.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Coffin Torture, Plaguewielder, Sator, Sonance, Verdun


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Emerge Into Light...

Blood of the Mother - The Mother and the Neue Maschine (2014)

This album marks the first release from Glasgow's Blood of the Mother, and while they may be new, they're already dab hands at putting together heavy layerings and twisted progressions.  The first of the four evocatively-titled tracks on The Mother and the Neue Maschine takes an interesting curve to atmospheric sludge, dropping lo-fi elements into more richly-textured pieces for high contrast and successful ear-invasion.  "Womankind Is Kinder Than Mankind" leads listeners to a slower and more meditative setting, letting the strings resonate over slow drumming as the vocals quietly intone words of travel and identification before a wave of violence overtakes it and destroys itself.
As "Corpses of Lost Ideas" leads into the second half, the violent and wintry sounds come together in a more massive fashion, hitting an expansive projection that feels like it could fill the depths of a strip-mine.  After bleeding itself out, "Death in Kentucky" approaches with softer tones again, keeping a subtle edge going beneath the guitar's throttled notes, seducing your ears into complacency before launching the last volley.  A sound-clip that can't help but date itself already puts a little bit of a damper on the end, but in general, the release is a pretty fantastic first work.  There's variety, imagination, an expressiveness with the instruments that's downright devilish, and a considerate crafting for each individual piece.  Check it out if you like hearing sludge and doom being burned down to the bones.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Gnaw Their Tongues, Heavydeath, White Darkness, HATE&MERDA, Ulver


How Polite...

Warp Riders - A Tea Party With Demons EP (2015)

This new EP from Norway's Warp Riders finds the group taking traditional hard rock, giving it a little modern crustiness and bluesiness, and proceeding straight-forwardly from there.  Crunchy cuts from the guitar are backed by strong drumming, a voice straight from the '70s, and vibrant bass, and through the four songs it sounds like they're really enjoying themselves with the noise, grooves, and choruses.  This being an EP, none of the songs are all that long, but the quickness works with the group's style, letting them storm in, throw the riffs around, and rush back out before you can pin it down.  It's easy to get swept up in that energy, even if hard rock isn't usually your go-to genre, and the band has enough heaviness going for it (plus some psychedelia rising up in "All of the Birds") to appeal to stoner rock fans as well.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Fu Manchu, Black Rainbows, Father Sky, Five Black Bullets, Kopper8


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hand 'Em Over

Mud Shark ~ Lend Me Your Ears (2015)

 No one does fuzzy, psyched out rock and roll like those crazy cats in Denmark. This time it's Mud Shark that's making their name heard, with their latest five track album called "Lend Me Your Ears". In this instance, that's an outstanding suggestion. From the very beginning it's an avalanche of fuzz filled riffs that will have you involuntarily nodding your head and tapping your foot. The bluesy, melodic vocals really make their mark on tracks like "Face of Sin", where the entire thing has a heavy blues vibe. Not just in the vocals, but in the guitar parts, with a recurring section that's twangy and has old delta blues written all over it. After that, the entire thing cascades into a hard hitting rock section, slowing down and then picking up steam and really letting their legs stretch on the heavy rock and roll side of it. If you're into things that aren't quite as mindfuck heavy as sludge and doom, these guys should be exactly what you're looking for.

For Fans Of; Libido Fuzz, Cream, Radio Moscow

Monday, May 18, 2015

High on Giant's Blood

Wounded Giant ~ "Lightning Medicine" (2013)

 Even though Wounded Giant's first LP "Lightning Medicine" has been out since 2013, it's getting a new breath of life thanks to Black Mess Records and a super deluxe vinyl reissue. For those unfamiliar, Wounded Giant lays down a thick groove of classic doom metal that's laced with a big dose of psychedelia just to make things interesting. They don't sound quite like anyone else, managing to put yet another spin on the timeless doom metal sound, leaving it feeling fresh and new. The guitars just obliterate and crush everything in their wake, with the smooth vocals striding in right behind that. The drum rhythms feel like their something out of an old tribal drum circle at times, seeming to go their own direction but still fall in so nicely with the rest of the track. The album ends on the title track and it's a supremely heavy exercise in doom, with a rolling drum intro, that's joined shortly by a fuzzed out doom riff. Around halfway things devolve into a jaunt through sludge territory, but start to regress after a skull bludgeoning few moments. By the time you've gotten to the last couple minutes of the album, things slow down even further to a snail's pace. This is where a heavy bout of psychedelia sets in, with spaced out sounds that wind the album down in a psyched out daze. Black Mess Records is the party responsible for getting a vinyl version of this gem made, including a special edition set of 50 colored records that comes with an "herb" jar and leather patch, of which 8 remain at the time I typed this, so you still got time. If you don't need all the extras, they have have a regular edition of the record for sale also.

For Fans Of; Black Sabbath, Sleep, Hawkwind, Church of Misery, Saint Vitus


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hot And Sweet...

Ape Skull - Fly Camel Fly (2015)

Ape Skull's first album (which was on Heavy Psych Sounds, just like this one) came out just a couple years ago, but they're already back with another full-length, done in just one recording session but without any compromising of their style.  The nine songs to be found on Fly Camel Fly are largely in the stoner rock style, though they do mix it up a bit with touches of blues and psychedelic to keep listeners from feeling like they know how it's going to go.  Warm string tones and fuzz amps help bring the band's love of the early '70s to life, with songs such as "Early Morning" and the title track radiating a sunny friendliness that shows the band's skill at mixing heavy and upbeat vibes.  The guitarist's knack for stretching and twisting the psychedelic off-shoots leads to some savorable sweetness, though the band does take care to keep things generally compact, with only "Fly Camel Fly" itself breaking five minutes.
Similarly, the vocals have a high-soaring quality, but never really over-reach or over-stay their part in the songs.  Mad fills, bridges, and backing from the drummer give the music's sleepy-eyed smile some percussive caffeination, sometimes moving into an off-beat swagger that's cool and infectiously enthused, and the band-members do a great job of enhancing each other's performances without being too obvious about their props.  Music for good times, heavy rock with an honest-sounding love of its influences, and a title that'll have fans scratching their heads for years to come; Fly Camel Fly is an early pick for this year's Top 20.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Camel, Iron Butterfly, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, Blue Cheer


Good Nyborg, Man...

Fatso Jetson / Farflung - Split (2015)

The musical match-makers over at Heavy Psych Sounds are back with another split of heavy-hitting stoner rock, this time with the long-running Fatso Jetson and the even longer-running (if only by a couple of years) Farflung.  Fatso Jetson's side consists of "Taking Off Her Head", a hard-bouncing groover that does a great job of warming up your ears for the rest of the record, and "Flesh Trap Blues", a beefy desert rocker that just wants to get down the whole time it's going.  Farflung's side runs roughly twice as long, split between "Jettisoned in the Rushes... Phase One" and "Igneous Spire".  The first of these builds and builds up from a spacy bass riff into echoes and counter-play between the instruments, getting looser and less earth-tethered as it drifts on through its paces, while "Igneous Spire" brings all their heat to the fore with beats and riffs that will compel your body to move.
Both bands show off the skills they've sharpened over the decades, and to say that they sound comfortable and confident would be a severe understatement.  Each band takes their songs by the throat and shakes, taking a quick smoke break here and there before returning to business.  If you've got a taste for heavy, stoner, space, or psychedelic rock, swing on over to HPS and help yourself to a copy before they're all gone.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Isaak, Mangoo, Mos Generator, Snake Thursday, Wo Fat


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Headless Kross Interview

Headless Kross recently released their latest album, Volumes, through Black Bow Records, with three big tracks to fill the LP.  We had a few questions for the Scottish three-piece, and bassist/vocalist Derek Sexton was kind enough to answer them for us.
Interview conducted May 3rd.

Ride With The Devil: First off, congratulations on the new album, and thanks for giving us some of your time today.  Volumes was a great experience to come across while reviewing albums, and it really stood out, maybe not least of all because of that giant opening track.  To start the questions, is that first track called "Rural Juror" or "The Juror"?  It was "Rural" in my copy, but "The" when I checked the Burning World BandCamp page, and that's been bugging at the back of my mind since then.

Headless Kross: It is definitely “Rural Juror”.  Like all the song titles on the album, it’s meant to be a bit difficult to say out loud.

RWTD: Thanks for clearing that up.  How did you end up with a 20-minute-plus song?  Did you start out intending to do a huge track, or did it just grow to that size over rehearsals?  Was wanting to come up with something to top your material on the Lazarus Blackstar split a part of the impulse?

HK: Our songs tend to take on a natural length, rather than us deciding to do a “long” song.  “Rural Juror” took a while to put together in its final form, but there was never a point where we felt like we were adding anything in for the sake of it.  It was more a case of us playing it in a way that sounded right, checking the stop-watch and thinking “Oof! That’s quite long!”

RWTD: Was there any nervousness about opening the album with a song that long, or were you all ready to go for it?

HK: We had been rehearsing quite intensively in the run up to recording, but we had to be careful not to overdo it and lose the natural feel of the songs.  “Rural Juror” was the oldest of the 3, and so we had practiced it the most, so on the day it was the other 2 we were a little more worried about.

RWTD: The three of you have mentioned influential/favorite bands from your youth in past interviews, but was there any band(s) or album(s) you found yourself thinking of or listening to a fair amount while putting Volumes together?  What was the general mood of the band in approaching the album's assembly?

HK: It’s difficult to pinpoint specific influences, as the whole process took a while from writing to recording, but occasionally we hear echoes of things we were listening to.  For us it was more important to set the correct tone while recording, in terms of mood, so each day we would watch some “inspirational videos” before going in to the studio.  These included footage of Zen Guerilla, The Cosmic Psychos, Gallon Drunk and the classic “In Bed with Chris Needham” documentary (if you have not seen this, go and watch it now!)

RWTD: On the rare occasion you get some time to spare from work and the band, what do you do to relax?

HK: Derek – I enjoy reading (MR James, Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen are particular favourites), watching old television and also do a bit of close-up magic.

RWTD: From what I've heard, Headless Kross keeps its touring mainly to Scotland and Ireland, which has me feeling down over here in the States about my prospects of seeing HK tear it up live.  How have the crowds reacted to you over the years?  Any stand-out incidents of enthusiastic fans or detractors?

HK: We generally have good reactions when we play.  We are lucky enough to be involved in a scene which is populated by like-minded people, and they are usually very nice to us.  There have been no real horror stories yet.  The closest is probably Tommy and Derek sitting outside the Limelight in Belfast, and being told by an enthusiastic local to… ”Fuck your heavy metal – I’M SNOOP DOG!!!” (he wasn’t)

RWTD: Of the bands with whom you've shared a stage, have there been any whom you felt really fit with your sound, or vice versa?

HK: Too many to list – whether it’s the wig-outs of Wild Rocket (whose debut album is excellent), or the crushing heaviness of bands like Slomatics, Conan or Ommadon, we tend to fit in well with most bands we play with.  To be honest, it’s more important to fit in with bands in terms of the approach they take.  We have played many shows with bands a bit further afield in terms of sound, but who take the same cooperative attitude towards shows as we do.

RWTD: Any bands out there with whom you'd really enjoy doing a split in the future?

HK: To be honest there are too many to choose from.  It would probably be more of a split LP.

RWTD: Any bands in particular whose music you'd be tempted to cover if licensing fees weren't an issue?

HK: 'Money For Nothing' by Dire Straits.

RWTD: Thanks very much for your time and the excellent music.  Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?

HK: Thanks for your support.  Come and say hello at the next show.

~ Gabriel

Funny Name, Serious Slammings...

Nelly Olsen - Nelly Olsen (2014)

With cryptic song-titles and a pressurized depth to their music, Nelly Olsen (who've been leaking out singles since the end of 2013) finally released a full album back in November, more than meeting the expectations set by their harbinger songs.  Beginning with the warming rays of "Disharmonious Sun", NO build up thick skeins of notes before blasting them into pieces, just to go on and rebuild from the jagged remains; by the time of the second song, "Nightwolf Schizophrene", they're well and truly on a rampage, smashing through riffs just as quickly as they can be cemented.  It's a stunning display from the band, and the restraint they show in the quick drop down to "Self-Deception" (right about where side B of the record would begin) is enough to give you audio whiplash.
After "Self-Deception" gets its feet on the floor, it rushes head-long into the spinning gears of Nelly Olsen's musical machinery, getting chopped to pieces but picking itself right back up each time it happens.  Instead of trailing quietly off into the night, "Devil's New Boots" ends the album by roaring off with all cylinders firing.  It's an impressive performance, and easily popped retroactively into 2014's Top 20 list; if you haven't already heard it, Negation Records and SM Muzik are handling the release, so send all of your demands for a physical copy right their way.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Methadone Skies, Persona, Mos Generator, Holly Hunt, Slomatics


The Mighty Hunters...

Hexenjäger - Demo (2015)

This demo comes to us from Hexenjäger, a new group based in France, and despite their freshness, the group already seems well-seasoned and toothsome, undertaking 20 minutes of doom for their self-titled track.  Despite the French roots and Germanic name, they go with a Spanish horror movie sample to open it up before plunging into the tar-coated and slow-moving main riff, a monster that the band follows relentlessly into darker and deeper regions before meeting their end.  It's a rich strain of doom metal, with sludge in the grit and occasional sharpness of the guitar, some traditional nods from the vocals and bass-tone, and a funeral atmosphere to the pace of the chord-crushing.  One of those big tracks that you want to hear a live treatment of as soon as you first encounter it, "Hexenjäger" battles its own speed down to the bones before eroding away completely.  There's a lot of patience going into the song, and if this is their demo material, there'll be some major head-turning noises to be heard on their future releases.
"Murk" makes up the B-side at a comparatively quick 8 minutes or so, bringing more psychedelic and traditional doom to bear, and it's not until almost half-way through that the vocals are revived for action.  The singer does a great job in both songs, assuming you're not inherently biased against clean singing, and the presumably rough recording conditions don't do much to diminish the band's skill at bringing it right into the song's folds.  Between the two tracks, Hexenjäger have made a great introduction for themselves by establishing how well they can kick ass even at low speeds.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Gallow God, Eibon, Fleshpress, Buried God, Abstracter


Friday, May 15, 2015

Spells Are Ready...

Psychedelic Witchcraft - Black Magic Man EP (2015)

The first EP from this Italian trio is a four-pack of doom rock tracks, kicked off by the single with which the group started the year, "Angela".  A quick horror movie sound-bite leads into the melodic mixture of drums, bass, guitar, and rich vocals, a formula followed for the rest of the EP once established.  The songs go by quickly, as the group has a tendency to settle into a groove, give it a little flash, revisit the original, and go from there.  It makes for some catchy tunes, just what you'd want from a starter EP of this type, and while Psychedelic Witchcraft have left themselves room to grow into more complex arrangements, the bluesy earthiness works well for them at this point.  Black Magic Man is getting a limited release on 10" vinyl through Taxi Driver Records, so give it a listen if you're looking for something to play on your way to or from the pub before a night of Hammer Horror films.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    John Gallow, Occultation, Mist (Slovenia), Demon Head, Jess and the Ancient Ones


Darkened Solar Lodge...

Venus Sleeps - Dead Sun Worship (2015)

A little over two years since the release of their demo, Ireland's psychedelic doom quartet of Venus Sleeps have returned with a full album, packing near three-quarters of an hour into the space of five songs (including a cover of Syd Barrett's "Golden Hair", turned to much heavier ends than could have been imagined back then).  From the solar wind opening of "Ether Sleeper" to the trailing strains of "Age of Nothing", Venus Sleeps show dedication to making their brain-loosening riffs and low-end assault sound as good as they can.
The bass gives you enough reverb to start swimming on air if your stereo's loud enough, but there's a crispness to the mixing that lets it co-exist with the higher registers of everything else without crushing the life out of them.  The guitar gets so psychedelic at times as to pass for a wildly-modded synth, and well-used echo effects on the vocals let them sink right in to the crushed-velvet mind-trip, guiding your ears through the maze of amps and tones as the music unwinds.
Extra-high praise goes to the drummer, Fergal Malone, who handles all this madness with a relaxed air as he injects the propulsion keeping the tempting lethargy of the slow grooves tempered.  No matter how much drone or ring mod is thrown his way, Malone fires back with something that plays right to it, taking a well-earned breather with the spaciness of "Golden Hair" towards the album's center.  Despite the length of the songs, the album glides right along, and if not for it throwing off LP-fitting once this album makes it to vinyl, I'd be more than happy for a few more songs to keep Dead Sun Worship going.  As it is, the band has me roped into needing to play this over and over, getting familiar while anticipating their next release. 
Definitely one to pick up for fans of psychedelic doom, it's currently available on CD or download from Venus Sleep's BandCamp.  Venus Sleeps also has a show tonight, so if you happen to be near Dublin tonight, get yourself over to Tenterhooks without fail.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Gallileous, Windhand, early Electric Wizard, Salem's Pot, Dopelord