Friday, July 29, 2016

Witches On Wheels...

Witchstone / The Death Wheelers - Summon The End / Mind Blowing Trip!!! (2016)

Coming to us from the superb Sunmask Records, this split unites two distinct Canadian bands with penchants for heaviness and stylized madness.  Witchstone take the first half, running two ~10-minute songs, while The Death Wheelers slice their section into smaller tracks.
"The Sludgelands" is the first of Witchstone's offerings, starting things off with a wail of feedback before slamming into the heavy with low-tuned strings and drums ready to bash some skulls inwards, deploying the dirty vocals once the thick stony atmosphere is well-established.  After diving through the filthy doom of that one, it's on into "Altar Riot", a more riff-driven piece with the grimy tones intact for the procession of heavy strains and nasty ear-worms as the energy goes wild.
Over on The Death Wheelers' side, they kick off with a sample from (what I think is) Psychomania, a film with a clear influence on the band's image of undead bikers.  From there, it's a ride through stoner doom cranked up to burning levels, with a few more choice samples adding their character to the instrumental tangles of notes and percussion which make up their cool stretch of songs.  Ending on "Cycling for Satan", which hurtles through the riffs and chunky bass-lines like they're heading back to Hell, the band smashes with style off into the horizon.
Between the two bands, it's a great split, with each getting to show-case their style while forming an effective counter-point to the other; Witchstone does it big and twisty, The Death Wheelers fire off like a rocket.  Both sides have a lot going for them, and in the end, it's just a blast to hear such damn fine music getting played (and you better crank up your speakers to do it).  Vinyl's getting regional distribution (War On Music for Canada, RidingEasy Records for the USA, Hevisike for the UK, and Totem Cat Records for Europe at large), with a limited run of cassettes for those who need it.  Either way, do yourself a favor and check these groups out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Davie Allan & The Arrows, Goya, Ladybird, Sleep, Strange Broue


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Let All The Blood Soak Your Flesh...

Dopethrone - "Host" / Fister - "The Failure" (2016)


Horror movies, fittingly, drench the cover art for the new split between Dopethrone and Fister. This stellar cover was designed by Alexandre Goulet and promises to be "the last thing you ever hear" as the clenched knife comes out of a speaker for Dopethrone and an execution by a guitar driven through the mouth and neck of a man for Fister. We're in for a Hell of a ride. 
Dopethrone took on a huge responsibility by naming themselves off what many to be the quintessential doom metal album by Electric Wizard. They've always knocked it out of the damn park. Their track "Host" begins with a field recording layered deep within vicious guitars and black metal vocals by Vincent as they flow recklessly with the bass of Vyk. The only thing holding everything together is the powerful and precise drumming of Carl. The grooves are a rowdy fuzz filled carousal that only become less tangible with each listen. I swear there are ghosts in this track.  
Fister delivers their signature take on black metal on "The Failure" with upped aggression the likes of which their home state of Missouri has never seen before. Marcus Newstand is a powerhouse vocalist, and guitarist, who carries his shrieked vocals and layers them so much it's dizzying. Marcus draws out each word so much I have to imagine he's just hoarse almost to the point of coughing up blood at the end of each session. Nearing the middle of the track the bass of Kenny Snarzyk, who normally splits vocal duties with Marcus, and the drumming of Kirk Gatterer slow dramatically into an almost funeral doom paced clashing with pure sludge that marches along until the song slowly dissipates into nothing.  
A vinyl release is slated for later this year by Riff Dealer Records.

For Fans Of: Behexen, Mayhem, Electric Wizard, Leviathon, Xasthur


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Grown From The Unknown...

Lachrima Corphus Dissolvens - Passage of the Three Laments (2016)

Here we have the latest album from Lachrima Corphus Dissolvens, which in case you haven't heard of them before, is a band from Bolivia which has been producing metal of the death/doom variety since 2003.  With Passage of the Three Laments (apparently an expansion/follow-up to 2010's Bin of the Three Laments), the group shares over an hour's worth of material to life in morbid atmosphere, managing to bring together moments of dramatic theatrics (e.g., the sounds of weeping children, the rumble of thunder, and piano progressions built around letting one note ring out at a time) with more fierce outpourings (howls, guitar shredding, hard and heavy drumming) and have it feel like a natural union, unhurried and paced in ways that play to the strengths of each side.
From that, there's a strong sense of thought going into the album's assembly even before the actual song-writing began.  It feels like a story being told with care, the different moods of the songs acting as environmental set-pieces to further illustrate the narrative while providing a dark richness for the ears.  I feel like I'm fumbling more than slightly to put it into words, as the group achieves a cinematic quality which most bands don't even seem to consider tackling, and LCD do it so damn well.
On top of that, there's the range of styles that the group meshes together, keeping the morbid mood alive through neofolk-like acoustic guitar strumming, the numerous atmospheric interludes, the vibrant turns into unrestrained metal, the genuinely epic size and ambition matched by production to make things sound as though they're taking place in a cathedral, the woods, a tomb...  It's all of this and more.
Just fantastic, all told, though thankfully there's enough substance to the album that it doesn't compromise itself for instant accessibility.  Not one to put on in the background (at least not for the first few times you hear it), but instead, something that should be given concentration to appreciate how much work went into making the songs what they are.  Expect to see this one in the single-digits ranks of my 'year's best' list, and please, if you enjoy doom that can take things seriously, take the time to hear this one for yourself.  Also, here's hoping that Forcefield Records or some other excellent label picks this up for wider distribution and a vinyl pressing.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Abysmal Grief, Bell Witch, Candlemass, Jupiterian, early Opeth


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Scraped From The Amp...

Resin - Resin (2016)

The Canadian group of Resin is making their public debut with this EP, sporting dirty vocals over fat-tubed bass resonance, sweet-pedaled guitar, drums that hit the sweet spot between loose and on-point, and old-school stoner doom riffs that show their blues influence proudly.  Powerful riffs to sweep you along in their rhythms, clear signs of creativity with the breaks and space play, and a care for the tones that has them simply seeping out of your speakers point to this band being able to come up with new ideas while staying true to the stoner doom spirit, always a relief in a genre as saturated with tradition slaves as that one is. 
And the three songs do what a first EP should do best: leave the listener hungry for more.  I want to hear more from this group, because there's so much potential here, and they've got such a grasp on how to work the essential stuff (which they've fucking got, just take the time to listen), so I can't wait to hear how they keep experimenting in the future.  Just thinking about the future for this group, with forays into heavy feedback, crazy-long songs, more sweet instrumental crannies, and, of course, all the fun song titles that'll entail, has me grinning and eager to hear what they'll devise.  Until then, I'll be keeping these songs steady in my listening mix.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Acid Bath, Crystal Balls, Green Fiend, Hypnochron, Ladybird


Friday, July 22, 2016

Tangled In Minerals...

Crystal Balls - Roots (2016)

With this two-track first release, which hit the world on April 20th (presumably at 4:20 p.m.) for maximum stoner cred, the Floridian group of Crystal Balls specialize in dirty grooves, vocals that sound like bong-water was gargled to prep for the recording session, and bass that stretches out with no worries.  It makes for a mix that some (like me) might describe as 'blackened stoner doom', but the emphasis is certainly on the stoner doom half of that mix, breaking up the usual zonked-out slowness of that style with frenetic bursts of raw beatings before slipping back into reverb adoration and focus on string tones.
It's an uncommon mix, but certainly an enjoyable one, as long as the rough vocals don't immediately turn you off.  The group shows a deft hand at drawing out and gradually twisting their melodies, with each of the lengthy tracks easily avoiding repetition for its own sake, and instead keeping things lively and engaging (though not so wild as to lose the already red-eyed listeners).  Since it runs just about 21 minutes between the two songs, you'll need to listen to it twice to hit the magic number, but that'll let you pick up on some details and technique you might have missed your first time through, so it's all good.  Definitely check this one out if you can dig some violent tendencies with your stoner doom, and stay tuned for more from this crew.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Desert Crone, The Munsens, Toke, Trees, Wolf Blood


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cool Guys With Cool Hotpants....

Totally Unicorn ~ Dream Life (2016)

Sometimes we all love a little something thats a bit discordant and out there. My personal vice when it comes to weird and wonderful finds is Australia's own Totally Unicorn.
Brought to my attention by an Aussie friend of mine while I was Thailand, I was shown the video for their song Cool Dads With Cool Sons while sat next to an elephant, in blazing heat drinking my 8th bottle of Chang. I know those details aren't entirely required, but when you watch the video it really helps paint the picture of what a surreal predicament I was in.
I will prefix this whole thing by stating that I'm not a massive hardcore fan. Whether it's the overly pretentious band members or the often discordant nature of the music, I don't know. I've never quite been able to put my finger on it. That being said, this is where Totally Unicorn stand a good few paces from that particular crowd. If you viewed even so much as 10 seconds of the video above this will already be brazenly apparent to you. If you've yet to, well maybe such song titles as "Umm, Yeah We're The Gay Metallica" and "Let's Spice Things Up With Laser Swords" gave it away?... Or maybe the fact that they released an EP called 9inches and pressed the vinyl in the shape of a dick (yeah, it totally looks as awesome as it sounds). Either way, it's safe to say that Totally Unicorn as about as far away from the conventional straight edge hardcore scene as it's possible to be without dabbling in acoustic folk music. Although I wouldn't put it past them. Still, it's a damn good refreshing change to find a band that don't even contemplate taking themselves remotely seriously. While listening to the music alone doesn't instantly convey this image, in typical Aussie style the guys certainly have fun at the top of their agenda. Yeah, not all of you are going to dig it, but I defy any of you to say that you wouldn't want to catch these chaps live or be at a house party with them. I can just picture it now... Them rocking up to the front door with a crate under each arm, before you later discover that one of them has buttered the cat, another shat in the washing machine and that they've superglued their latest album into the cd player.
The only trouble with Totally Unicorn is the fact they're damn hard to describe, other than that they're the musical equivalent of Marmite, you're either going to love them or hate them (apologies if that analogy gets somewhat lost in translation). It's tongue in cheek hardcore essentially, but you really should go and check them out and make you're own damn mind up.
Dream Life is out later this week and although it may not be in the shape of a giant phallic, this new release will still be an absolute belter. Head on over to their bandcamp and check out some of the preorder bundles on offer!
Go on, go!
~ Jay

For Fans Of; Nasum, Cult Of Luna, Sourvein, Swarm Of Spheres, Gay Paris 


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Breaking The Barriers...

Demons from the Dungeon Dimension - As the Crow Flies (2016)

Coming to us from South Africa, this debut from the Demons from the Dungeon Dimension (DftDD, or DDD, or D3, or 3D... so many options for getting around writing out that name in full!) offers what's become a relatively rare commodity these days: metal from an environment where it's still considered to be a threat to society.  Fittingly, there's more than a little of the retro heavy metal flavor to DDD's sounds, though they avoid whole-sale imitation in favor of blending it into their raw doom base.  As you might also expect of music coming from a context of no social support for what the musicians are doing, it's self-produced, though aside from some fuzz and a little persistent feedback, this doesn't cause any real issues (and the hatred doomsters have for fuzz is well-documented, right?).
Finding comparisons for the group's style is tough, as they casually move between heavy rock and metal barbs without telegraphing it, keeping afloat on thick grooves while weaving atmosphere to fit, but it does feel like they've carefully studied a wide number of bands to bring their own style into being.  Chunks of blues, flashes of death, and smears of grungy alt rock all bubble up from the heavy doom base, and hearing the way they roll it all together in a way that holds together (even while manifesting some odd shapes) is a big part of the fun of the album, at least in my listening.
The band already has a new EP out (I guess it's technically a single, but one that comes to about 24 minutes of music), so if you want to hear a new band applying some creativity and musical knowledge beyond doom dogmatism, you might want to grab the downloads for this and that from D3's BandCamp page.  And hey, why not throw them some money for it, to let them know they've got an interested audience paying attention out in the world?
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Brume, Celophys, Headless Kross, Moon Curse, Salem's Pot


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Morbid Furiosity...

Dead Thunder - DEAD! (2012)

Following up on our review of Dead Thunder's Broken English EP from a couple of weeks ago, we're now checking out the band's DEAD! EP, also from 2012.  Why?  Well, I really like what I heard with the first one, and I'd like to get this crew some more exposure, in the hopes that they'll have the chance to put together some more music to play at high volume and enjoy further.
That explained, let's get into it!  Running four tracks and recorded from live improvisation, DEAD! again finds the brothers of DT turning out solid jammy riffs, bursts of lively tangentialism, twisted bridges, and gnarly tone-play from the guitar to match the drummer's rhythm juggling.  The instrumental focus allows them to keep revving harder and weirder without having to drop back into the calm of a chorus, but they do give enough time with the riffs to instigate some serious body-swaying and/or head-banging, no small trick for stuff done on the fly.
And, as on the other EP, Dead Thunder get across a clear sense of character and humor with the songs, from the low-note wallows to the tears across extensive shredding and smashing.  Quite a talented duo, and well worth your time to check out over on their SoundCloud page, particularly as it won't cost you anything but time.  Here's hoping they make some more music materialize in the near future!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Boredoms, Daisy Chainsaw, Lightning Bolt, Terminal Cheesecake, Wizard Rifle


Friday, July 15, 2016

Tasty Salted Strings...

Black Caviar - Side A EP (2015)

This Russian group is making their debut with this four-song live EP, and the fuzzy, low-tuned blend of rock and metal which they deliver shows a band which is getting a solid start while figuring out their style.  Chunky chords, growling bass, and a nice use of echoing cymbals help create a noisy atmosphere with some real grit to it.  The band has respectable energy, and as they get more songs under their belt, it'll be interesting to hear how they develop their song-writing style.  Personally, my favorite was "Boulevard of Darkness", which brings in some sludged-up bluesiness to the mix, kind of reminding me of Groggy, a duo from down in Siberia, but having the rest of the songs to serve as contrast makes both sides sound better.  For now, this is something to draw the attention of those who like their doom rock dirty and unpretentious.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Acid Witch, Black Freighter, Crowskin, Reverend Bizarre, Warchetype


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Music for Cauldron Lovers...

Devil Electric - Vol I (2016)
The Gods Below cover art

Come on kids.  Let's go listen to some music that makes you want sacrifice a goat and draw a pentagram with its blood to conjure the dark lord.  It'll be fun. 
Devil Electric are an Australia doom metal outfit who are extremely new but have already gathered some buzz on the Melbourne charts, shared with the likes of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.  They're comprised of Pierina O'Brien on vocals, Cristos Athanasias on guitars, Tom Hulse on bass, and Mark Van De Beek on drums.  They're here for liquor from a chalice that's bubbling while emitting smoke and blood.  This is their two-track debut, appropriately named Vol I
Slow doomy and buzzy chords consume opening track "Devil's Bells".  The drum beat pummels with daring execution that almost resemble a fist beating against a table.  Desperate vocals cast away any notion of a redeemable lifestyle in favor of a chance to meet with Satan himself.  "The Dove and the Serpent", arguably the more Satanic in theme, adds a level of blues to the doom with Pierina's vocals echoed by a deeper voice resembling a possession.  The guitar of Cristos and the drums of Mark are constantly going beat for beat trying to outdo one another until they almost hit a brick wall with the song's abrupt end. 
Vol I is comprised of only those two tracks, but the entire EP, The Gods Below, contains two additional cuts entitled "Confusion of Mind" and "Holy Ghost" where we find Devil Electric dwelling even deeper in the abyss of madness.
~ Richard
For Fans Of: The Dead Weather, Kadaver, Black Sabbath (13 era), The Kills, SubRosa


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Somewhere Out In Space...

Menimals - Menimals (2016)

In my reviews, I often talk about how vital it is for bands to bring something new to the table with their music - or at least, put their own spin on old ideas.  Of all the albums I've reviewed for The Burning Beard, I've never come across one that truly creates its own unique musical climate quite like Menimals' self-titled album.  Hailing from Italy, Menimals craft a hazy, hypnotic musical waft of smoke that invokes psych, jazz and raga more than doom or heavy rock.
"In This Unforgiving Heat" opens the album with subtly undulating double bass and restrained, workmanlike drums that tether a dreamy lead wind instrument from flying off into space.  "Dodecahedrum, The Window Sphere" brings rasping, half-sung, half-intoned vocals into the mix.  The song's tempo ebbs and flows throughout the track, and everything adds together to create a truly atmospheric and engaging song.
With "Tetrahedron", Menimals finally let themselves go and explode off into the ether with a seven-minute epic that is simultaneously memorable and involving, whilst still being subtle enough to wash over the listener in waves.  With this self-titled debut, Menimals have crafted an album that takes influence from jazz, avant-garde rock, and even ambient music to create a record that has a place in avant-garde lineage - despite largely eschewing influence in favour of genuine individuality.  The album, by virtue of its sheer uniquity, is not for everyone.  However, it is an album that earns a hearty recommendation from me for its sheer originality.
~ Martin

For Fans Of; Coil, Faust, Nurse With Wound, Einstürzende Neubauten, Current 93


Monday, July 11, 2016

Stonerror Interview

While the Polish group known as Stonerror is still in their early days as a band, with one single and an EP (the excellent Rattlesnake Moan) to their name so far, they've made a great impression on our ears, so we were curious to know what was going on behind the scenes with this group.  Bassist/lyricist Jacek Malczewski was kind enough to field some of our questions, while also sharing some extra info, including the very welcome news that the full album is on its way through the birthing process.

The Burning Beard: Hi, and thanks for giving us some of your time!  To start things off, let's talk about the people in the band.  The members are Jarosław Daniel, a.k.a., "Faza" on guitar, yourself on bass, Łukasz Mazur on vocals, and Maciek Ołownia on drums, but could you give us some more detail on each of you?

Jacek Malczewski: We’re all semi-pro musicians, long active on the local scene in Cracow, Poland.  We’ve played in quite a few bands, but also have our "regular" lives, families, and trades.  Faza – the driving force behind Stonerror – is a former music club owner and manager, currently pursuing his career as a graphic designer.  I make my living mostly as a university scholar and teacher (of political philosophy and bioethics), while the rest of the gang also have their everyday jobs and duties.  But it is the overwhelming love for the music that really drives our lives and makes the time worthwhile.  Both Maciek and Łukasz are very talented musicians and composers – not formally trained, but gifted with an exceptional instinct and sensitivity – so I feel really lucky to be in a band with them.

TBB: How long have you known each other?

JM: Faza and Maciek have played together in a band called ZOOiD since high school, so after many years they comprehend each other musically on a deep, unspoken level.  I used to attend their gigs back in the old days, but befriended these guys only a couple of years ago.  Faza is actually my best friend now, and we talk for hours every day.  Music, beer, and a very similar life outlook brought us together.  I first met Łukasz two years ago, when his band was opening for my brother’s show.  He’s a stubborn, gutsy guy, whom I liked immediately.  Later it turned out that he was a huge ZOOiD fan, so for him joining Stonerror was like playing in a team with the heroes of his youth.  He’s a bit younger than the rest of us, but we all get along really well.  The atmosphere is friendly and challenging at the same time – we motivate each other to improve and do what’s best for the music and the band.

TBB: How did Stonerror come together?

JM: Last spring my previous musical project has reached a dead end, and I thought about starting a new band to play some heavy, overdriven stuff.  Faza and I stumbled across each other at some gig, drank several beers and decided to do something together.  He wanted to return to making music after a few years’ break, and had some cool riffs and ideas.  We recruited a drummer from my former crew, but he turned out to be immature and unreliable – suffice it to say, he quit three days before Stonerror’s debut gig, which had been planned and advertised for weeks.  An instant replacement was needed, so Faza called his old buddy, Maciek.  We rehearsed on Friday night and played the show on Saturday.  Somehow the audience loved us, so Maciek decided to stay in the band.
Łukasz is another cool story.  He is a talented and inventive guitar player, who’s never done lead vocals before joining Stonerror.  My brother recommended him to me, saying: "he’s got pipes, try him out".  Well, we did.  We were jamming on a tune that later became our opening track, "Jericho", when all of a sudden Łukasz yelled and roared like his guts were on fire.  Faza and I exchanged this meaningful look: "hell yeah, the kid’s on board".  Later it turned out that Łukasz can also come up with stunning vocal lines, and deliver them in an almost Maynard-esque fashion.  So, as you can see, Stonerror was born under a totally unpredictable, but very lucky star.

TBB: How did you settle on the name of the band?

JM: Faza had it at the ready, together with some band logo drafts and other related imagery.  We loved the name right off the bat.  It sounds powerful and majestically, it’s mysterious and catchy.  Well, it also makes people assume that we play stoner rock.  Which we don’t, by the way.  There’s a lot more un-obvious, crossover "error" than generic "stoner" to what we do.  I even coined a term describing our musical style, and it’s already taken root: "psychedelic stonerpunk".

TBB: What made you decide to cover "Tomorrow Never Knows"?  Were there any other songs you were strongly considering covering instead?

JM: We needed a cover song for the debut gig, because back then we didn’t have enough of our own stuff to play the whole set.  It was a Kyuss tribute show, so it would seem obvious to choose a piece from their catalogue, or perhaps do some Black Sabbath anthem.  But we’re "The Errors", remember?  Being a huge fan of The Beatles – perhaps the most innovative band of all time – I suggested "TNK": a powerful, psychedelic, trance riff with a beautiful melody on top of it.  This song is very special to me in so many ways, and playing it on our own terms was like a rite of passage for the band: can we put our own, original style and sound into one of the most groundbreaking tunes ever composed?  Well, we could, and so "TNK" has become a staple of our live sets.  On later occasions we’ve also covered Led Zeppelin’s "No Quarter" (the best riff ever!), and Kyuss’ "Demon Cleaner".  But we’re not going to record any more cover songs for release.  We prefer to do our own, original stuff.  O.K., one day I’d love to play New Order’s "Blue Monday" in a psychedelic stonerpunk version.  We’ll see about that.

TBB: The notes for Rattlesnake Moan describe it as a "live" EP.  Where was it recorded?  What sort of an audience did you have, and how did they respond to the music?

JM: Yet another incredible story.  In December of 2015 we were opening for Ścianka – the best and most renowned Polish alternative band of the last twenty years, who were touring behind their new, long-awaited album.  It was a real honor for us to play with them.  The club was packed with their faithful audience (200 people), who obviously had no idea who we were and where we came from.  And it only was our 5th(!) gig together as Stonerror.  We drank a few beers, jumped on the stage and played our hearts out.  It was a short set: five songs, twenty-two minutes or so.  The audience was cool, not booing or throwing us away from the stage.  After the show Faza says: "Guys, I’ve got a surprise for you. The gig has been professionally recorded".  He arranged everything, but wouldn’t tell us in advance, so we wouldn’t get too anxious and screw up.  It only took a few guitar overdubs in the studio and some basic mixing, and boom! – we had our debut EP ready for release.  Ladies and gentlemen – 100% live Stonerror!  And here comes the best part: Ścianka’s leader, Maciek Cieślak, offered to release "Rattlesnake Moan" on his own independent record label, My Shit In Your Coffee.  Seriously, it was almost like being knighted by the King himself!  All the reviews so far have been favorable – both at home, and abroad, in the UK, USA, Greece or Spain.  It’s so amazing and cool!

TBB: You have a music video for "Rattlesnake Moan", done in stop-motion animation by a Polish artist.   Who is this artist, and how did the decision to have that artist create a music video for you come about?

JM: Natalia Brożyńska is a Polish female visual artist, who specializes in stop-motion animation.  She’s young, but already recognized and award-winning: in 2013 she received the most prestigious honor in the Polish music video industry for creating a music video to Devo’s "Blockhead".  Amazing stuff, you can find it on YouTube.  Natalia is also a life partner of one of our good friends, an artist and musician – Tomasz Jerzy Tumidajewicz.  Tomasz wrote the script for us and Natalia took care of the puppets and camerawork.  They built a post-apocalyptic desert in their apartment, and created the characters of the Rattlesnake, the Danger Man, and the Hangman.  The final effect is marvelous: a story about frustrated love, retribution, and death, visually influenced by William Faulkner, David Lynch, and Tim Burton.  I almost cried when I saw the video for the first time, because it has illustrated our song and the lyrics perfectly.  Now, that’s what I call a successful artistic collaboration!  We’ll certainly work with Natalia and Tomasz again in the future.

TBB: Between the imagery of the music video and the cover art, there's a lot of desert atmosphere to the presentation of your music, along with the notable desert rock elements of the music itself.  What is the landscape like where Stonerror lives, and how does that contrast with the moods you try to bring to life in your songs?

JM: Well, as you can imagine, Cracow is quite far geographically from the Mojave Desert and Rancho de la Luna.  In our case the desert is more of an imagined representation of desolate, untamed nature, and unrestrained creative freedom.  Our moods come from within, not from the outside.  They’re a reflection of our own wild natures.  Stonerror’s music and lyrics are very personal and cathartic.  The dirty, heavy riffs combined with angry, dark poetry help us to exorcise the inner demons from the past, cleanse the wounds, and retain our internal liberty.

TBB: What are some specific influences on Stonerror's music and imagery?

JM: Musically, we’re all into Kyuss and the early-to-mid 1990s grunge and alternative rock scene that has shaped our musical sensitivity as kids.  Soundgarden’s "Superunknown" is one of our favorite albums that we play on the road.  But there is much more to it.  We love The Stooges with their raw power and brutal punk simplicity, we cherish the dark, mystical and psychedelic Tool.  Seriously, I could mention dozens of bands and genres here – but it’s pointless, since we’re neither closing our music within any fixed stylistic boundaries nor trying to emulate someone else’s sound.
The lyrics and imagery?  Well, you’ve already mentioned the desert.  But the desert has many faces.  It’s not only California and Kyuss, but also the Sinai desert of the Old Testament, the Sierra Morena wilderness of the "Saragossa Manuscript" or the Mad Max dystopian wasteland.  As the band’s lyricist, I draw a lot from the scriptural books of Exodus, Joshua, Apocalypse, and others.  I also employ visions and phrases borrowed from classic literary works, movies and – lately – Native American mythology.  It is an unending quest for a symbolic, universal language to express my deep-seated emotions, fears, and passions.  The desert sky is the limit.  Our imagery is also influenced by the desert – from sun-scorched land and bare cattle skulls, to rattlesnakes and vultures, to oil wells and muscle cars.
You must have noticed the stunning B&W photograph on the cover of our EP: a beautiful naked lady playing the huge skull.  It was taken by an independent artist from Chicago, O. Levent Eryilmaz.  We found this image on the Internet and were amazed, because somehow it perfectly matched our own intuitions and emotions.  So we wrote a letter to Levent, and he simply allowed us to use the whole photo session for the visual purposes of our debut EP and live shows.  The model, Anna Rob, was also very happy about it.  You can find generous and talented people everywhere.

TBB: What are Stonerror's plans for the near future?  Will we be seeing a full album from the band anytime soon?

JM: The preproduction of the studio album has already begun.  We are working on the new songs and preparing the professional photo shoot.  The recording session has been scheduled for early November.  The album will be produced and engineered by Maciek Cieślak in his private studio.  He is also going to contribute musically, playing the guitar, keyboards, and perhaps doing some backing vocals.  Another dream comes true – we are working with one of the greatest artists in our country.  The album is due for release around Christmas of 2016.  We’ll certainly send it to The Burning Beard for review.

TBB: Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?

JM: Follow your visions, find the right people to collaborate with, work hard and consistently.  Always trust your instincts, and never let the bastards grind you down.  If we could make it, so can you.

TBB: Thanks very much for your time and the excellent music!
~ Gabriel

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Changing Shape Again...

Hellenica - Forms (2016)

Our last encounter with the Canadian one-man band of Hellenica came in 2014, with the cassette release of Blood Moon Wolf Head.  On that album, Hellenica's western-inspired melodies and post-rock blues drew me into the atmosphere of the experience,
With Forms, Hellenica is taking a different approach to setting, titling each of the five tracks with latitude-longitude coordinates.  Musically, things start off by taking more of a subtle turn, with synthesizer and applied effects rendering some not-quite-ambient textures before the strings work their way into the patterns.  The combinations make for some brooding, semi-hypnotic arrangements, calming and yet unsettling at the same time.  The production, thankfully, plays up the strengths of the compositions, giving the sounds acoustic room to breathe, keeping them crisp and clear, and polishing the edges to a fine shine.
As the tracks stretch out in their undulating rhythms and cooled tones, the tension and activity build along with them, with echoing resonance and singular notes striking out in distinction.  Recommended if you could use something to help focus your mind, to have a deep stretch of music to let yourself sink into, to study long-form semi-procedural music composition, or if you just feel like having a break from regular rhythmes and persistent percussion.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Bill Laswell, Brian Eno, non-metal Burzum, Christoph Heemann, Lustmord


Saturday, July 09, 2016

Loaded With Ideas...

Zombie Picnic - A Suburb of Earth (2016)

This album is the debut release from the Irish quartet of Zombie Picnic, and with the four instrumental tracks they show-case on it, the band sets quite a high standard for future releases.  Playing in an energetic and free-spirited prog rock style, the group draw in influences from too many styles to list, swirling them about in a kaleidoscopic mixture that manages to keep rocking hard while flying around.
There's a cool jazziness to the mellower sections, something which the drummer holds onto throughout the faster smashers, while the strings slide from chilled noodling into wild bashers with a dazzling fluidity as a selection of samples provide the only vocals to be heard.  Pedal effects are used with enough restraint that they enhance the powerful playing without stealing focus from it, grooves are examined thoroughly without wearing them thin, and the heaviness they dive into from time to time shows that the band knows their way around it too well to be considered just visitors.
The unchained nature of the song-writing means that these songs are best listened to without expectations, at least initially, so that you can follow on with the ride and not get thrown too hard by the abrupt rhythm changes.  An first-run pressing of 100 CDs are being sold through Zombie Picnic's BandCamp page, so grab yourself one of those (or a digital copy) if you dig on complex, creative, lively, and good-humored rock that knows no bounds.  Massive respect to this group for what they've done with this first release, and I really can't wait to hear what they'll pull together for their next one.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Billy Tsounis, Broughton's Rules, Crown Larks, Frank Sabbath, Frank Zappa


Friday, July 08, 2016

Within The Living Rock...

Stonerror - Stonerror EP (2016)

Rattlesnake Moan is the second release from this Polish quartet, coming a month after their debut with the title track single of this EP.  Over the five songs included, the band shows off their skills in a nice range of moods and styles, fusing them together into compelling tunes.
The first song, "Jericho", sputters into action on a cloud of fuzzy stoner rock (who'd have guessed from the name?) tempered by a fairly sober and somber atmosphere once the vocals slide into place among the chords.  From there, the band pours out the richness of their tunes with style and sweet grooves, including a cover of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" that really makes the song their own, the chill desert rock riffing of the title track, "Wrath"'s deep-growl bass-line with counter-point energy from the guitar and vocals, and lastly, "Zombie Train" to rattle things along to the end on the wheels of bluesy, stony power.
The notes describe this as a "live EP", and if that's correct, then I'm blown away by how much control they put on display, and I've gotta say thatwhoever was working the recording desk deserves an award for the channel leveling they pulled off in that situation.  Most of the songs have that 'warm blanket' feel of great stoner rock that comes from all of the instruments' acoustics being allowed to soak into each other, with reverb rubbing against reverb and producing something more.  Big respect to the band for the showing they've put forth with this EP, and I'll be eagerly anticipating the release of their full album, whenever that might come.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Druglord, Fuzz Evil, Hemptress, The Munsens, Tuber


Tuesday, July 05, 2016

sludge with a lowercase s

giant gutter from outer space - stumm (2016)
 stumm cover art

Capital letters are for for English teachers and elitists.  This band doesn't use them. 
giant gutter from outer space are a Brazilian instrumental sludge duo who've been at it since 2014.  They consist of two friends from previous experimental backgrounds.  We've got johnnie r.r on drums and hernan on bass.  This is their second e.p., titled stumm.
Kicking off the two track e.p. is "stumm" which has a slow burning beginning with the metronomic sounds that quickly explode into a more chaotic (while still precise) sound.  It's almost like the song can't figure out where to go and it's being pulled viciously in two directions.  Trying to pluck your brain about in the process. There are elements of noise that clash with pure sludge.  "ruinen" continues with the dissonance but ditches the quiet metronome in favor of dirty guttural breakdowns.  Near the end of the song the sounds take on a almost a flame flickering out with metal falling. 
Their Bandcamp and Spotify also have their debut album black bile, which is outstanding as well. Definitely check out their songs "joy and misery" and "opium and resistance". 
~ Richard
For Fans Of: Jesus Lizard, Pelican, Karma to Burn, Noxagt, Lightning Bolt


Monday, July 04, 2016

Electric Citizen Interview

 As we've been following Electric Citizen's releases since their self-titled EP, on through Sateen and their most recent release, Higher Time, we were excited to finally have a chance to interview the band and ask them a few questions about their creative process and inspirations, along with what they see the future holding for them.

The Burning Beard: Hi, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.  I want to start off by asking: what was it that inspired the various members of the group to become musicians?

Nate: Metallica. I was obsessed.

Ross: Jimi Hendrix. I had a friend with a bass, his older brother played guitar, and they let me jam with them.

Randy: My dad bought me an electric guitar in high school and I started a band.

Laura: When I was little I would ask my mom "when do I get to be on stage?". I participated in drama club in school, but I wanted to be a singer, I admired so many singers. I was really shy about doing it in front of people, which really held me back for years, I didn't start singing in bands till 6 or 7 years ago.

TBB: Have any of you had formal musical training?

Nate: No

Ross: Not formal, but I took a year of guitar lessons early on.

Randy: A year of trumpet and piano, self-taught on guitar and bass guitar.

Laura: When I was getting started I took a few lessons with a friend who's an amazing singer.

TBB: Are your songs written by the band as a collaborative whole, or by individual members of the group?  How do you approach forming the ideas of the album?

Laura: Ross and I primarily write the songs, but Nate and Randy play an important role in forming the songs. Typically Ross will write a guitar part, bring that to the band to jam on, and I'll improvise over it until I finish the lyrics and melody.

TBB: Is the live performance of your songs a consideration during the writing and recording process?  Do you write and arrange any specific songs with live performance in mind?

Laura: We (mostly) record live in the studio, so the translation is quite simple. We don't always have a keyboard player at shows, so we try to keep that in mind when recording.

TBB: Are there any particular inspirations for your lyrics that you'd like to talk about?

Laura: I write about all kinds of things. The state of the world is insane. On one hand we are seeing these incredible advances in technology and medicine and on the other hand we are destroying ourselves through violence and pollution. It's a wild contrast, we're in a time of extremes, and I love exploring that in my songs. "Golden Mean", for example, might sound like it's about a troubled relationship, and in a way it is, but it's about my relationship to the world, and me trying to find balance in the good and evil.

TBB: Does anyone in the band have aspirations outside of the music industry?

Ross: No.

Nate: No.

Randy: Someday I'll have other aspirations but this is it right now.

Laura: Not right now, I'm very happy doing this, my backup plan is to move to the middle of nowhere and become a cowgirl.

TBB: Have any forms of media other than music (film, fashion, etc.) had an influence on Electric Citizen?  If so, what were they?

Laura: I think we're very influenced by art, film and fashion. I've always been attracted to the bizarre. Our first album, Sateen, was named after a character from this '70s film The Visitor, it has a strange plot but it's visually awesome.

TBB: How did you get signed to Riding Easy Records?

Laura: We were a very new band, we hadn't really done any shopping for a label. A mutual friend sent Daniel Hall our first (unreleased) album, and he asked to sign us. I'm really glad we did, RidingEasy has done great things for us.

TBB: Some heavy rock groups now sell more on vinyl than any other format. Is anyone in the band a record collector?

Ross: Yes, it started when my dad gave me his Jimi Hendrix records in high school.

Laura: If I had more money, I'd have more records. Every time I go into a record store I look for this band Frumpy on vinyl, you can buy their records on eBay, but I really want to just find it in a store one day.

Randy: Yes, my favorite find was The Beatles' white album on white vinyl.

Nate: I enjoy collecting Zappa records, and the records of bands we tour with.

TBB: On a related note, does the prevalent culture of highly limited edition items aimed at the collector's market appeal to you or put you off as a band?  Certain labels seem to be putting an emphasis on the collectable nature of music, and specifically records, with deluxe editions often being released in very small numbers.  Is this emphasis on the collectable side of music something that appeals to anyone in the group?

Laura: I don't see anything wrong with it. In this age bands have so few ways of making money. We don't really go over the top with this stuff, but I don't mind it, to each his own.

TBB: Do you ever feel it's difficult to innovate in a style as enduringly popular as heavy rock?

Laura: No, not really. Authenticity leads to innovation. Just be yourself, draw inspiration from what moves you, and do it in your own way. I think the worst thing modern music has done to itself is turn its back on influence. I think what really helps me is that I draw influence from so many different types of music and art. Music is a continuous movement, nothing has ever been created in a vacuum. Art inspires art in all forms. I recently visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. The entire museum was set up with his works, and hanging next to them were the works of his influencers; it was celebrated, and that was refreshing. I'll never stop being inspired because I'm not ashamed to be so.

TBB: What are the most challenging aspects of being a recording and touring musician?

Laura: The money. All our stress comes from money. How we're going to pay for this or that, we're always scrapping by. The rest is fun, we love writing and performing music, and thankfully we don't care too much about being broke.

TBB: Have any of the members of the band been in other groups or had solo projects?

Laura: We were all in local bands prior to this project, that's how we met Nate and Randy. Nothing that ever took off, and for me personally, nothing that ever recorded an album.

TBB: Are there any specific recently released albums that you've enjoyed?

Laura: Oh yes, many! Our eyes have been opened to so many cool bands over the last few years. What we are amongst is really starting to feel like a movement, it's exciting. We really respect all the RidingEasy bands, they're all doing cool stuff. And we really dig all of the albums from bands like Fuzz, Charles Bradley, Budos Band, Goat, Graveyard, Horisont, Blood Ceremony, Uncle Acid, Danava and Purson. Cincinnati has this really cool wave of Riot Grrrl style bands happening right now that I really dig too.

TBB: Some recent psych and heavy rock bands have been making a move towards using all old-school '60s/'70s equipment both live and in the studio when possible.  Is this something Electric Citizen do (or would like to do), or are you happy to use modern equipment and instruments? Was Higher Time recorded using analogue equipment?

Laura: We always record analog, we love the warmth of tape. We used a bunch of cool vintage gear in the mixing process on our second album too, like a nine-foot reverb tank. We have some vintage gear that we use live, but some stuff is just too fragile to take on the road, so it's a mix. We just use what sounds good to us, new or old, we don't really have any rules.

TBB: Although Higher Time was only recently released, many are already hungry for a follow-up.  Has any new material been written yet?

Laura: Oh yes, we never stop writing. We aren't doing a ton of touring this summer, so we're focused on album #3, most of our touring this year is hitting in October and November.

TBB: What are Electric Citizen's plans for the near future?

Laura: Playing a few festivals this summer, writing the next album, touring Europe in October and USA in November.

TBB: Many thanks for doing this interview!

EC: Thanks for having us!

~ Martin

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Slow Cruisin' Goodness...

Monocluster - Monocluster (2015)

This German four-piece have made the bold decision to make their first album a live one, coming in at just over a half-hour of dirty, bluesy, heavy rock with some psych to it.  A strong point in the group's favor, established early on, is how smoothly they can turn riffs around into something connected but new, creating songs which bob and groove along, delivering reliable fun without feeling too predictable.  Warm tones and leisurely pacing create an enjoyably friendly atmosphere, the vocals are suitably gruff without seeming forced, and the instrumental stretches have a cool vibrancy to them, making these live performances really spark up in their presentation.
It's good stuff to slow-bang your head along to, and while it does feel like more of a warm-up for the group than a full album, there's enough excellent work put in that listeners should be suitably jazzed-up for that first studio LP to arrive.  If you've been looking for some solid heavy rock that puts some twists in on the formula and has a blast doing it, be sure to check this crew out as soon as you can.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Fakir Thongs, The Heavy Co., Manthrass, Persona, RHINO


Saturday, July 02, 2016

Wandering Towards Clarity...

Frank Sabbath - Telluric Wanderers (2016)

I first heard this album, in a somewhat different form, back in February, while the band was searching for a label to release it.  Happily, they've since reached an agreement with Argonauta Records, so now it's available to the public at large.  This French group of psych doom rockers (whose first album we reviewed back in November) was a surprising blend of various styles, so expectations were high and open for this one, and it certainly delivered.  Listening to its updated and polished-up official form is another treat, as three extra songs have been packed in to lengthen the fun.
Starting off with a crisp roll of the drums right into a fuzzy growl of bass and guitar in the "Ascension" intro, Frank Sabbath quickly show that they've still got the hooks and funky grooves intact this time around.  After laying the foundational work down, they proceed into the quarter-hour exploration of "Subterranean", bringing in heavier and darker tones to fit the track title.  A thick atmosphere of pressure and gloom takes hold, making for a drastic change from the generally sunny psych of the self-titled album, but they certainly handle it well, especially with the driving ramp-up of feedback intensity.
After finishing that trip, it's on into the warmer environs of "Terra Incognita" and the superbly chunky "Inner Doom - Outer Doom", pieces which find the band bringing in some of their jammier energy while keeping things structured enough to sway listeners along with the rhythms and heated riffs.  This is where, in the demo cut, "Ducks on Drugs" closed the album out with a warbling use of distortion to have listeners checking their speakers' vital signs, spiraling out to a drop-off that nicely escorts the music out the door.  Now, though, it's been joined into the "Inner/Outer Doom" for one big slice of heavy psych.
From there, we hit the new pieces, including "Interlude n10", a quick and jaunty piece, then "Flying Peacock", a fizzy groove of fuzz and warm tones, then finally a big'un for the finish, "Doumedilalune - Noisnecsa".  This ~10-minute closer kicks the bass presence back up with extensive sweet riffing on the main melody line, mighty growls from the strings, and tight rhythms throughout.
All together, it's an excellent album, and one that's been nicely treated with this long-awaited release.  The band shows plenty of growth in style, song-writing, and working together, and while their sprawling list of influences can still be heard, they've tightened up the presentation considerably.  Keep your ears open for more from this fantastic band, and if you haven't already heard the first album, now would be a good time to fix that.  Hell, throw them on one after another (with their Orange Sunnshine jam pack as a spacer, if you want) and have yourself a great stony time.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Blue Cheer, The Crusaders, Mondo Drag, Quatrain, Terminal Cheesecake


Friday, July 01, 2016

Snapping Sounds Like Limbs...

Dead Thunder - Broken English EP (2012)

Picking this one out for review was a tough call, because (as the sharper-eyed among you will have already noticed) it came out back in 2012.  But the guys behind this music seemed so earnest, and the mix of styles so tempting, that I decided 'Hell with it,' and slapped it on to play.  To give a little more background, Dead Thunder are a pair of brothers from Illinois, doing their music with guitar and a drum-set, using stylistic elements drawn from stoner rock, doom metal, psychedelic, noise, and several other groupings.  On top of that, all four songs on this release are improvised, making their grooves that much more impressive.
On first listen, what'll probably grab your attention, aside from the gnarly guitar tone, is the rhythms the two members play through together.  Spinning up tangled beats, slickly diving into a smooth break-down, and collecting themselves for another go through the weird poundings is something you'll hear a fair amount of on the album, along with some tasty riffs that tend to last just long enough to pull you in before switching it up with another one.
Though it's billed as an EP, the release has 40 minutes of tunes to it, so newcomers will have plenty of material to check out while getting used to the band's style.  And while it doesn't have the production values of a major-label release, I'd urge all fans of creative heavy psych to check this out for themselves and get a sense of how talented this pair of brothers is.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Celophys, Meanderthal, Lightning Bolt, Sleep, Wizard Rifle