Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sun-Cooked Psych Rock...

Red Scalp - Rituals (2016)

Following up on their 2014 debut EP, the Polish group of Red Scalp have now returned with their first full album, packed with six songs of rambling but tight-riffed stoner rock.  Quickly launching off after an introductory sample, the album soars off with massive-sounding strings swaddled in fuzzy blankets, soon joined by similarly-treated vocals and grounding percussion.  Spacy, expansively psychedelic tones and pedal effects drench the music, with phasing, wah-wah, and big-sky reverb just a few of the tricks in Red Scalp's bag, used to add some extra flash to the impressive base-line grooving conjured up by the band.
The vocals fit in just right, pulling the charismatic whole-heartedness quality from traditional '70s heavy rock, without picking up too much of the cheesiness that tends to stick to those when attempted by modern bands.  The playing by the individual musicians has some of that same magic to it, with each getting spots to show off their own fire, and all of them pulling together to swing out hard unified licks and beats.  The first four songs in this vein lead up to the title track, a ~20-minute monster of slow build and heaviness, followed by the quick closer of "Revelation", and all six come together to make a damn powerful first album, full of hooks and sweet technique.  If you've been on the search for some heavy rock with some real fire behind it, this should do you right.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Druglord, Eternal Elysium, Frozen Planet....1969, Merlin, Mother Mars


Friday, April 29, 2016

Lighting The Stage...

Cultist - Three Candles EP (2016)

With members of Skeletonwitch and Howl behind the formation of this heavy stoner rock band, Cultist has an unusual lineage lurking behind their debut EP.  With nearly a half-hour of material to it, the five songs of Three Candles balance tunefulness with thick fuzzy riffs for potent results.
The opening title track has something of a Blood Lust-era Uncle Acid vibe to it, with raw guitar tone cutting its way through the bountiful fuzz while the vocals wail on in obscurity.  The songs which follow use a comparable formula, though they veer further away from those psych touches and more towards regular modern heavy rock and traditional heavy metal worship in their execution, with doom influence bubbling up from the bass.  Strong rhythmic force and catchy riffs are a component of each one, some slammed harder than others, and there's a good sense of cohesion to the hot-amped chords and well-beaten drums.
As a first release, it's a firm start, likely to draw people's ears past the backgrounds of the band's members and on into the sounds they've crafted here.  Good hooks, lively playing, and buckets of fuzz add up to a set of tunes that should earn plenty of repeat plays from those who pick up a copy, and while the EP is currently digital-only, it's easy to imagine this popping up on vinyl in the near future.  Check it out now, though, so you can get started having fun with this Cultist.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Brume, Desert Crone, Fatso Jetson, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Uncle Acid


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Storm Meets Thunder...

Desert Storm / Suns of Thunder - Split 7" (2016)

H42 Records have long been in the habit of supplying solid 7" split records, and I'm happy to say that this latest one continues that trend of quality and heavy tunes.  On the A-side, we've got Desert Storm playing "Signals From Beyond", a groove-focused piece of desert rock (surprising, right?).  Husky vocals and pedal-treated guitar tone mesh with some thumping drums to get the job done, rolling along on the main riff's rhythm while throwing in a few twists, with a crunchy break-down or two lying in wait.
Over on the B-side, "Earn Your Stripes" is performed by Suns of Thunder, playing in a similar style, but with a little more alternative rock in their DNA, sort of a down-tuned Soundgarden or Audioslave, with clearer vocals and sharper string tones.  The 7" is available in a traffic light set (100 each on translucent green, yellow, or red, plus 50 on clear), with the official release date popping tomorrow (that's the 29th of April, just to be clear).  If you want some alt-ish hard rock with a stoner rock dip, be sure to check it out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Acid Western, Bones of Mary, DATURA4, Father Sky, Mangoo


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Filling The Sky...

Hexenjäger - Black Titan (2016)

Last year, we heard from Hexenjäger with their demo, and now they're back with their first full-length album.  The unorthodox doom metal of that demo has matured into something with the same rough outline, but more muscle and riffage behind its heavy churning doom.  Each of the tracks have a nice length to them, leading up to a reworked version of the 20-minute song from their demo (now sadly without the torturous samples that once opened it) renamed to be the album's closing title track, and they get their main melodic thrusts across while luxuriating in the roominess by way of off-shoots, solos, and expanded tune-twisting.
Along the way, they manage to subtly fold in stylistic elements from psych rock, traditional heavy metal, blues rock, and a few other sources, stirring them into the doomy base to excellent effect.  The riffs are of that special variety where they just sink right into your brain, lodge themselves in, and feel as if they've always been there.  As a continuation of the band's demo, it shows them expanding their musical palette while honing their main focus, with clear indications of further goodness waiting to be released.  With a layout that's practically begging to be put out on vinyl by some savvy label (three on the A-side, the big'un on the B), keep your ears up and fingers crossed for this to make its way onto physical format.  But in the meantime, throw some money to the band and pick up a digital copy on their BandCamp, then play it loud and let it get deep into your system.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Black Rainbows, Church of Misery, Disenchanter, Dopelord, Eternal Elysium


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sludge, Fuzz, And Crust...

Slush - American Demons (2016)

American Demons is the latest and longest release from the NYC band of Slush, who've been kicking around for a few years now, and are now bringing eight tracks of fuzzy, sludgy, punky, doomy rock (plus a shot of blues every now and then) into action with a rough but stylish form.  Keeping things generally quick and concise, but letting riffs and tunes have the room needed to grow, the band uses thick-fuzzed bass, flexible percussion, and gnarly guitar to build multi-hooked runs and lines of memorable sway-inducing grooves.
While there's a trust-bringing crustiness to the music, pulling yourself away from the impulse to just slow-bang your head along and focusing on the playing will give a sense of hard refinement put into getting all the pieces to come together just right.  Even when blearily shredding along, or bringing out a swampy growl of mad bass (both of which come into excellent use in "Iron Mountain", which you can find below), the band keeps a... well, polished isn't the right word for it, so let's call it well-worn, as though they've played through everything enough to be able to bend it and twist it around without losing the essence.  While I can't call myself a big fan of NYC, the music of this album does have me regretting that I can't catch Slush doing their thing live.  Check it out on their BandCamp, and when you find yourself trying to hum out whichever track ended up lodged in your brain, go ahead and buy a copy to help show they're doing things right (you can even snag a mercury silver cassette version, with art for each song, if that's your thing).  Strong stuff with a good sense of humor and powerful chops.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Black Pyramid, The Heavy Co., Merlin, Satan's Satyrs, Special People


Friday, April 22, 2016

Cthulhu Revised: Canadian Edition

Seer - Vol. 2 (2016)

Seer is a Canadian post-doom project by Bronson Lee Norton on vocals and acoustic guitar, Madison Norton on drums and percussion, Josh Campbell on bass and slide acoustic guitar, and Kyle Tavares on electric and acoustic guitar, percussion, and vocals.  Together, their slow, nearly funereal, doom metal shines a light darker than a black nail polish factory on a moonless night.  Their first EP, simply called Vol. 1, was a nice blueprint to their latest release, Vol. 2, and both are provided below on the band's Bandcamp. 
"Cosmic Ghost" kicks off the EP with beautiful violin by additional musician Madeleine Gawthrop, who also provides backing vocals. And, frankly, the snail-paced time structures, along with peppered-in drums and acoustic guitars, make early Black Sabbath seem peppy by contrast.  The whole track crawls along into "Haunter", which continues the slow doom bleeding with intensity  nicely accompanied this time by Danielle Howell on backing vocals and a righteous melted guitar solo by Royce Whittaker.  Nearing the end is a sharp change of tone with venomous blood-curdling screaming.  "Antibody" follows with pure hell at every corner, the guitar, vocals and drums belted as we hear the band furiously pummeling their way through.  And finally, we have the aptly-titled closer "Aeons".  With a welcome return of Danielle Howell, it's a chaotic, almost structureless piece that wouldn't be out of place in an H.P. Lovecraft short story, being played to keep a creature of unbridled horror at bay. 
For Fans Of: Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Electric Wizard, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Ulver, Blood Ceremony
Seer - Cosmic Ghost (320 kbps)


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Branches And Dark Roots...

Canopy - 2015 EP (2015)

Back with a new EP, Atlanta, GA's band Canopy have three more tracks of their experimental style to share with the world, though this time around, they seem to have their tastes more firmly settled.  The first of the tracks is "Life is Just Terrible", a ~9-minute piece with blackened vocals, thick-layered drumming, and broad slabs of bass lending things a sludgy air while heavy riffs are primed and deployed one after another.
"Hexed" comes after that, putting its three minutes and change to work in a quicker, flashier, but still hard-knuckled approach to the same general vibe.  Lastly, "Cosmic Void" provides a comparatively gentle few minutes of acoustic resonance before launching back into the grime and gutturality with which they seem most comfortable.  It's a strong second release (or third, if you count their original demo back in 2011) from the band, and one which shows them continuing to refine their approach to the music they've put together; even more impressive, it was recorded in just a single day.  Harder riffs, more sophisticated song-writing, and good chemistry between the instruments makes this a solid EP to add to your rotation if you've looking for something heavy and harsh, but still somewhat tuneful.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Attalla, Coffin Torture, Corpse Light, Mudbath, NIXA


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bloodying The Benedictions...

Verdun - The Eternal Drift's Canticles (2016)

Following up on their self-released EP from 2011 (picked up and re-released by Head Records, Lost Pilgrims Records, and Throatruiner Records on various formats over the next couple of years), Verdun are now back with their first full album, being handled by those same three record labels.  The five tracks Verdun have put together this time around have a nice sludgy ring to them as soon as their titles are read, with names such as "MAnkind SeppUKu" and "Self-Inflected MutAlitation" (could be they meant 'Self-Inflicted MutilAtion', but who's to say).  If you're wondering about the apparently random capitalization, it's a minor easter egg that spells out 'Masuka Is Gone', a reference to the EP's title The Cosmic Escape of Admiral Masuka.
Now that all that set-up is, uh, set up, on to the music.  After a couple minutes of atmospheric establishment, the bass comes crashing in alongside the drums, making a suitable environment for the droning vocals and background yells.  It treads the line between doom and sludge in an interesting way, with the bass doomy and relatively clean in tone, while the guitar picks up fuzzy slack and the drums bring a flexible strengthening presence.  Generally speaking, things stay more on the doom side of the equation, but almost always with a lurking undercurrent of menace from the other side.
Each of the tracks also does an impressive job of building its own sense of character despite the similar tool-set used in constructing them all.  The choices of samples (most of which are Japanese, in keeping with Admiral Masuka) and semi-ambient texturing do a lot to help in this regard, but the main sections' rhythms and weighty implementation, along with some vicious vocal work in the second half, do even more.  By the time of the last track, "Jupiter's CovEn", they've got a melancholic drive behind the music as they sing of death and life.
The official release date is the 29th, but you can pre-order CD, vinyl, or digital versions at Verdun's BandCamp.  Verdun have really stepped up to the plate with this album, and their hard work shows in each track without pulling attention away from the sizable riffs and powerful momentum.  If you didn't catch their EP when it came out, this makes for a great chance to jump in at catch the group in excellent form.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Fange, Kalamata, Ksyatriya, Trees, Uroboros


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Brightness Of Dusk...

Sunwølf - Eve (2016)

Sunwølf's latest album is the first released since the departure of long-time drummer/pianist/glockenspielist Dominic Deane from the band, as well as being the first recorded in the new Sunwølf Studios (for the full story, check out our interview with band-leader Matthew Carrington from last week).  Named for Carrington's new daughter, he described Eve as having a more positive and hopeful tone than prior Sunwølf albums, though he affirmed that the heaviness was still there in force.
As the album begins with "Gilded Heart" and a careful layering of acoustic guitar strings, that freshly-tapped vein of tenderness is quickly evidenced, though it's almost as quickly tempered by the arrival of harsh vocals as the intensity and volume of accompanying instruments rises.
From there, the album keeps trying new ways of unifying disparate elements, with somber chanting tied to keening electronics ("A Rest Mid The Gloaming"), folk-style reminiscence with near-thrash drum-beating ("Quell"), and so on.  It's an album that seems to be testing its own boundaries and expectations with each new track, finding ways to twist through the borders and find new emotional landscapes while leaving a clear trail back to where it began.  As such, it feels a bit odd for the release to come in spring, as I suspect this album will, as with most of Sunwølf's output, benefit from the sort of weather that leaves frost on one's windows.  Then again, there's so much overturning of standards and other actions that could be posed as birth/rebirth metaphors that this season fits it just fine.
Eve will be officially released in two days (assuming you're reading this on April 16th, 2016), with a bonus track included for the first 100 orders (and you can also snag a T-shirt with the album title's logo, if you want).  Once you've got a copy, be sure to clear out your plans for the next hour, as this is one where you should really turn the lights off, lay down, and give it your full focus.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Bell Witch, Death In June, Jesu, Ulver, White Darkness


Friday, April 15, 2016

Grooves From The Desert...

Saturna - Saturna (2016)

Hailing from Barcelona, Saturna mix groovy desert rock riffage with trancy, trippy heaviness to excellent effect.  There's not a lot of fault here - the vocals are delivered with such gusto and passion that it's hard not to enjoy them, the rhythm section gives the songs a rock-steady basis, and the riffs in particular are excellent.  Throw into the mix some genuinely very good guitar solos and you end up with a recipe for some damn good heavy rock.
Saturna balance straight-up heavy retro rock with a deeper, darker underbelly that often threatens to spill over into the music but rarely does.  This psychedelic undercurrent gives the songs a sense of creative friction and elevates them to something more than the sum of their already very good parts.
If comparisons had to be made, the heavy stoner and desert rock of the '90s comes to mind more than the often tighter, more regimented riff rock of the '70s - though there's certainly an element of that.  Saturna have influences - certainly - but on this album, that's just what they are; influences.  There are clearly reference points here (the scuzzy desert-doom of Kyuss, for example) but Saturna never feel derivative, which is refreshing and actually somewhat unusual.
In their self-titled album, Saturna have proved themselves to be a stoner rock band well worth watching.  This is an album of well-made and well-played heavy rock that really can't argued with.  The songs never feel simplistic, and more melodic songs like "Leave It All" give some lighter, but still rocking, relief from the more raucous moments.  This is an album that should be given a good chance if you enjoy heavy desert rock.
~ Martin

For fans of; Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Truckfighters, Karma To Burn, Samsara Blues Experiment


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Death Metal Fairy Tales...

Second to Sun - The First Chapter (2016)


Avant-garde, mostly-instrumental pioneers Second to Sun have created an otherworldly instrumental landscape for their newest album, entitled The First Chapter.  Hailing from Russia, Second to Sun have incorporated a dark blend of fairy tales, atmosphere and original stories into each of their songs, giving these lush, heavy, glorious pieces a much greater depth than a band purely interested in making a simple sound-oriented groove.  But this is nothing new for the mini orchestra conducted by founding member Aleh Zelenkevich (who also plays drums), Vladimir Lehtinen, and Theodor Borovski. 
Opening track "Spirit of Kosoto" begins with extremely melodic keyboards, almost resembling a quiet rainstorm before a glitchy drastic lighting bolt of tangled squealing guitars blasts alongside back-breaking drum-beats, with those keys intelligently woven through the rest of the piece.  A particularly wonderful, and creepy, feature of this album is a mechanical-sounding voice, or maniacal laughter sprinkled throughout.  "Me or Him" begins in similar fashion, but the quiet is broken up much sooner than before, providing a sinister howl not out of place from the background music for a film centered around a Viking war party cornering whomever is unfortunate enough to be their prey, and ending with a single somber last note.  "Land of the Fearless Birds", "The Blood Libel", and "Narčat" all continue churning out relentless beat after beat, which, to me, keeps up the idea of traveling through a nightmarish soundscape with a storm following every step, relentlessly marching onward into glory.  "Virgo Mitt" ends our travels and unleashes a more chaotic onslaught of guitars, almost like this entire album is a lion tamer who's kept his beast at bay but finally lost the upper hand, until a final return to the harmonious bliss we heard at the very beginning of the album.  It leads me to wonder, was this a dream?  Or was a battle truly won in the end? 
An added bonus are two bonus tracks at the end, "Chokk Kapper" and a demo version of "Narčat".  Their Bandcamp, featured below, also has their first, albeit unofficial, album, Based on a True Story, which I also highly recommend. 

For Fans Of: Mayhem, Red Decending, Synestesia, Kataklysm, Arghoslent
Facebook Bandcamp

Second to Sun - Slave Shall Serve (Behemoth cover) (320 kbps)


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hitting The Peaks...

Mount Hush - Low and Behold! EP (2015)

Low and Behold! (aside from being a great stoner rock name) is the first EP to come from Switzerland's group Mount Hush, and with its four tracks, the band establishes their heavy psych-edged sound with good style.  Starting off with "The Spell", they bring together some retro grooves with motor oil in their DNA and smoke in their eyes.  Cool rhythmic interplay between the bass and drums gives the guitar a solid platform on which to show off some freaky streaks, and the vocals have a classic, instantly-familiar quality that helps everything mesh all that easier.
From there, it's on into "King Beyond", with more '70s style angled a little lower and heavier, and some inspired runs of guitar squeals studding the melody.  "The Day She Stole the Sun" strikes a moodier vein, though things are kept heavy on tone and timbre, as it rumbles through its changes.  Lastly, "Levitations" goes into a down-beat and subdued desert rock trip, with acoustic guitar and resonant tones building an atmosphere of reflection and wistfulness, and making for a smooth wind-down of the songs.
Mount Hush carries the retro rock bag with a hell of a lot more authenticity and creativity than half the acts mining that territory these days, and given that this is just their start, it's exciting to imagine where they'll go from here.  They've already got a split with Atomic Mold out on vinyl, including an exclusive live track called "Wolves in the Walls", so if you want to show your support for the band, grab one of those, a T-shirt, or even just a digital copy of the EP.  In any event, if you dig on heavy psych rock with a little garage to its sound, definitely check this crew out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Camel, Frank Sabbath, JPT Scare Band, Love, Uncle Acid


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunwølf Interview

Sunwølf have been a long-time staple here at The Burning Beard, going back to their first album, Beyond the Sun, and holding steady through subsequent albums Midnight Moon and Beholden to Nothing and No One, the latter of which also had us interviewing the then-two-piece group.  With Sunwølf's new album set to arrive on the 18th of this month, we felt it would be a good time to get back in touch with the band and find out how things have changed since last we spoke.

The Burning Beard: It's been a while, so let me start by asking, how has the band been since we last heard from you?
Matthew Carrington: It has indeed been a while.  We’ve been doing fine, the line-up has changed (parted ways with old drummer Dominic and I’ve gained 2 new live members, Scott on guitar and Steve on drums).  I’ve also relocated from Leeds to North East Scotland.

TBB: How do you feel Beholden to Nothing and No One has settled into the Sunwølf body of work by this point?
MC: I’m really proud of Beholden, it was a huge step forward from the previous two albums in terms of songwriting.  I think the record had a ton more depth to it than its predecessors also.  It’s a record that I had wanted to write for a long time and I was pleased with the response it received.

TBB: As Sunwølf always change up their approach to music from album to album, tonally and instrumentally, how would you compare the upcoming album to your previous releases?
MC: The new album (Eve) is essentially a raw version of the band.  It’s a lot more exposed than Beholden and perhaps more simplified.  I named the album after my daughter, Eve, so it’s a very personal record to me.  I made a conscious effort to make this record a little more hopeful and brighter than the style on Beholden.  Besides, it’s impossible to write that sort of bleak material when you’re happy.  That’s not to say we’ve dramatically changed our sound, we’ve just added a dose of light optimism to the equation.


TBB: The cover art seems to combine elements from the artwork from your previous albums, is that something of a theme for Eve in general?
MC: We try to keep a narrative with our artwork.  My friend Sean Doherty has done all our record sleeves and has a pretty clear idea of where we’re at stylistically.  We changed it up a bit for the Beholden art but Sean has been working on new artwork for the Beholden 2xLP reissue which is happening soon.  The new artwork is more in keeping with our other records.

TBB: What was the general mood and mind-set in approaching the work for this new album?
MC: As mentioned earlier, I knew I wanted this record to be more melodic and positive than Beholden.  The record is named after my daughter Eve and I wanted to stay away from any negative connotation… instead creating hopeful, uplifting music to represent our precious child’s first venture into the world.  

TBB: Are there any particular tracks on Eve which you found notably difficult to wrestle into the form you wanted from them?
MC: I definitely found it hard to get a handle on some of the tracks on Eve, for sure.  Most of my gripes were concerned with the album’s production; I recorded all parts for the record so I had to be more objective than I’d previously been with other albums where I hadn’t produced.  “Gilded Heart” was the first song I recorded and mixed… but I just couldn’t get a mix I was happy with, so I conceded that I needed help.  Which is when I asked long-time SW producer Ross Halden to mix the album, to which he fortunately obliged.  Listening back, Ross really brought the record to life and I don’t think I would have done the material justice without his input.

TBB: On the other side of it, are there any that seemed to just come together with little trouble?
MC: To be honest, a lot of the material I write comes together very easily.  Although in fairness most of the Sunwølf songs just revolve around one repetitive riff and layered up guitars… not technical, but all the feels.

TBB: Eve is the first Sunwølf album to be recorded in your special-built studio, correct?  Could you tell us a bit about how the new environment influenced the album, and some details about the studio itself?
MC: Yes, I recorded the whole record in there.  The studio backs onto my garden and is pretty simple in construction.  We had an existing shell to work with, which was an old coal store I believe.  We replaced the roof and essentially did the ‘room in a room’ method complete with floating floor.  It’s well-insulated, meaning I can make a racket without disturbing my neighbours.
The studio is perfect for what I need… an isolated, quiet space with some monitors and a few guitars.  A lot of the material came along very quickly once the studio was installed… I had a bunch of material ready to refine that I had been working on periodically throughout the year.

TBB: How will Sunwølf be keeping itself busy around the time of Eve's release?
MC: To be honest I will be keeping things very low profile… my priority is my family right now but I look forward to playing the handful of shows that we have booked in for the rest of 2016.

TBB: Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers, or special thanks you'd like to give to anyone who helped in the shaping of the new album?
MC: I’d like to give a special mention to my father-in-law, John.  He put in a tremendous amount of work when we built the studio last summer and continues to be very supportive of the band.

TBB: Thanks very much for your time and the great music!
MC: Thanks for your time and interest guys!

~ Gabriel

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Aiming Ever Higher...

Forming the Void - Skyward (2015)

It's been almost two full years since Forming the Void debuted with their self-titled release, and now they're back with this new album, the longest yet in their catalog.  I have to admit, the cover art had me grinning even before I fired up the music, but once I did that, I knew I was in for a treat.  FtV start things off with the title track, a piece which carefully assembles layers of riffs and reverb for a couple of minutes before switching up into harder and crunchier coatings, and eventually a knotty lead guitar run setting its own rhythm against the bass and drums.
Things continue in similarly high fashion from there, and since there's only five tracks (though all nice and sizable at 6+ minutes each), I'll go ahead and pick 'em apart for you readers.  "Three Eyed Gazelle" is the next tune, making its heavy stoner rock power evident from the first wide-amped notes, with a persistent bass-line that practically throbs through the woofer and some subtle desert rock DNA to the sprawling song-writing.  After that, "Saber" picks up with a rolling back-and-forth rhythm from the bass, deliberate stretching of the guitar's tones, and a sharp counter-point from the drummer as the vocals slide into post-grunge mode.  Slick use of phasing/flanging later on, along with some restrained psychedelic melting, give this track some of the album's most otherworldly vibes.
"Return Again" comes next, bringing a comparatively chill atmosphere, at least until the heaviness breaks back in with a vengeance, and going even more desert-baked with the guitar tones.  For a track with so much yelling and crashing weight, it comes off as a song with a lot of thought behind it.  Lastly, "Sleepwalker" arrives with a moody reservation to its opening section, ramping up gradually into something both spacy and firmly earthy, and hitting a fine balance between the two impulses.
The five songs achieve a great flow through the album, making for an experience that keeps changing things up even as it pulls in previous elements.  It's one of those albums that just begs to be heard again and again so that all of the little details can get full appreciation, earning strong recommendation from us here at TBB.  Check it out, give all of the songs a try, and let it settle into your brain.  Then listen to it a few more times.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Broughton's Rules, Goya, Raedon Kong, Snail, Venus Sleeps


Friday, April 08, 2016

Heady Tones And Tombstones...

Desert Crone - Distorted Solitude EP (2015)

This EP comes to us from the doom-lairs of Sweden, holding the work of a three-piece band whose members go by Cedermark, Micke, and Jumbo.  Opening up with a blare of fuzzy feedback on "A Mourning Prayer (Dreadful Cries)", the band launches into their music and its heavy presence with a confident stride, laying down thick riffs and nerve-gripping rhythms with, of course, a massive bass growl.
Track two, "Earth's Savage Darkness", takes a more serious tone with the chords and pacing, rolling out eight minutes of stony doom with a focus on building the melody up and tearing it back down.  "Shadowmaster" brings things to a close by taking turns with broad guitar tones, high-stress vocals, twisting bass-lines, devilish drums, and howling pedal effects.  It's a recipe for stoner doom satisfaction, and being that this is the group's first release (as far as I could determine), it points to more potent material on their horizon.
The release is being handled by Bloodsoaked Records (also based in Sweden), who have given the EP a run of 200 cassettes, so if you'd like one of those, hop on over to the label's BandCamp page.  You can also snag it in digital format there, so if that's more convenient, go for it.  Just be sure to check it out if dirty stoner doom metal is something you enjoy.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Brume, Goya, The Munsens, Windhand, Wounded Giant


Thursday, April 07, 2016

Imperial Tomb Resurrection...

Dead Emperors - Dead Emperors EP (2016)

Dead Emperors are a sort-of revival of the dissolved band Mad Monks, adding Evan Chadwick (former guitarist of Oculus) to the line-up of remaining members Larson (vocals and bass) and Eric Dirks (drums).  With live shows starting up last year, the group has now put together this five-track EP to introduce themselves to the world at large.
From the first track, "In the Flood", the group gets something of a retro heavy metal spirit going, with clearly-shaped riffs and strong drum presence pushed along by gnarly guitar-work and jabs from the vocals.  Following on that, "Panta Rhei" (the group's first single, complete with a music video you can check out below) brings more emphasis to those vocals, letting them outline a heavy-rocking attitude that persists through the rest of the songs.  There's also a more prominent use of subtle atmospherics, though the blustering rock holds a pretty tight grip over it all.
Rhythmic switch-ups, heavier vibes, bluesy break-downs, stylish drum solos, and more are packed into the EP's remainder, melded together with ambitious experimentation on the fringes.  It's a lot of fun, and does a great job of showing the members' musical chemistry.  Whatever comes next from this group, expect it to show more of the energy and 'beyond the call of duty' melody flexing that gives this EP so much liveliness.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Frank Sabbath, Neon Burton, Stone Machine Electric, Sweat Lodge, Wyatt E


Saturday, April 02, 2016

New Murky Depths...

HATE&MERDA - La Capitale Del Male (2016)

The last time we heard from HATE&MERDA was with their L'Anno Dell'Odio debut album, which established the group's skills in the realm of harsh sludge.  With this new album, that skilled way with the sludgy returns in strong form, rolled with environmental texturing and abrasive fuzz into a mean low-tuned machine.  However, it also feels as though they've brought in more slow-paced sections this time around, which serves as an effective contrast for the parts in which they're slamming around and applying squeals of feedback.
And when they slam, they really slam.  Pounding drums and slabs of bass, vocals reduced to grunts and screams by the intensity of the moments, and other signs of the musicians throwing themselves headlong into their performance fill the tracks, so that when it switches back to drawls of reverbed notes, electronic atmospherics, and slow-built melodic strains, you realize just how much control they're exerting.  It's a sophomore album which shows significant growth, and a desire by the band to reach new heights in the mood and technique of their music.
This might be best shown in the 9-minute closing track, "Vai Via", which incorporates all of those elements from the previous tracks into a hard ride of unstable emotions and caustic sounds.  Despite the softer bridges used semi-regularly through the album, "Vai Via" does a good job of sending listeners off with an acrid aftertaste to solidify the album in memory as one which pulls few punches.  If you've been looking for some new sludge that doesn't stick to the basics and call it a day, be sure to check in on this LP.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Grey Widow, Hypnochron, Legalize Crime, O.D.R.A., Uroboros


Friday, April 01, 2016

Endangered Explosions...

Rhynosaur - Riding the Bomb EP (2015)

This is the second release to come from the German group of Rhynosaur, following their debut single "Accelerate" by about a year.  This time around, the band brings five tracks of garage-vibe stoner rock with a dusting of desert rock to their dry-fuzz ampage.  Rolling bass riffs and flexible drumming provide a solid punch to the low-end, while the vocals range higher and provide most of the humor, as with the opening lyrics of "Zombies" ("People 'round the world / Gone all insane / All fucked up / And wanna eat your brain").  Snazzy, free-handed guitar-work jumps in and out as needed, and the songs manage the balancing act of feeling open to improv without losing their way, showing some cool rhythmic change-ups along the way, particularly through "Skull Crushing Fungus".
The five tracks flow together really well, moving from mad to chill easily and finding ways of tweaking the sound to give each song a distinctive feel of its own.  Trailing off into silence at the end of closing track "Parcheesi" (and yes, they do manage to make an effective rocker out of Parcheesi, somehow), the EP brings the band out in strong force, and should have some broad appeal to fans of laid-back stoner rock.  Stay tuned for more from this crew.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Blacksmoker, Kyuss, Mother Mars, Neon Burton, Skullcave