Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pickman's Metal...

Space God Ritual - Tentagram (2016)

We last heard from Space God Ritual with their release of From Void to Ocean back in 2014, and since I'm always hungry for more quality doom with Lovecraft references, I was quite happy to see notice of this new release in our inbox.  Fitting (in a way) with the title, Tentagram holds ten tracks of SGR's space-dwelling doom, with plenty of polish to the melodies, production, and presentation (seriously, feast your eyes on that cover art at full size, if you haven't already done so).
Opening up with a brief taste of things to come in "Prophecy", the band soon moves into their musical domain through "The Gate".  With this song, they give fuller demonstration of what to expect in this incarnation, with traditional doom cast into dramatic theatrics, as they were on the last album.  I was happy to notice a little more humor to the performance in comparison to FVtO's somberness, as with the occult come-ons of "Altar Nights" ("You're the type of girl / Who'll make the portal swirl / You're the type of girl / Who'll make the cosmos whirl!").
There's also an unhurried narrative holding together the musical pieces, telling of ancient creatures being conjured to Earth for destructive purposes, themes which naturally lend themselves well to metal.  The one mis-step I'd pick at would be found in "The Return of the Gibbering Thing", which handles the lyrics from a first-person perspective of one of the alien things, consequently (and unfortunately) humanizing it by not particularly distinguishing its mind-set or style of expression from the other songs.
That aside, though, it's a pretty solid album, with the music and vocals coming together in effective ways, nice garnishes of audio effects, and a fairly stable tone to the tales.  Check it out if you've been itching for some doom metal that tells stories, or if you just want it more theatrical than usual, but be ready to play the album at the volume it deserves.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Below, Black Magician, DoomLord, Pilgrim, Saint Vitus


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Resurrected With Riffage...

Serpent - Nekromant (2015)

With this second album from the Swedish three-piece of Serpent, they bring some old-school heavy rock to bear, with riffs, rhythms, and chunky melodies driving the bulk of the LP through its nine songs.  Bass, drums, guitar, and vocals come together with a nice chemistry, and the band's attention to putting out smooth tones (with a little rough bite to them for the guitar) really hits that '70s evocation without being too on-the-nose about it.
It really feels like music that should be blasting out of the windows of an El Camino or similar car, peeling down the highway with a back-woods party as its destination.  Generally speaking, it's music that just wants to rock without thinking too hard about why, or getting too heavy in mood.  My personal favorite parts were the times when the band switched to instrumental shredding (as in "Hey You", which you can hear below), as these felt like the sections in which they got to really lose themselves in the music and channel that feeling right back into what they were doing.
All in all, it's an album pretty damn-near perfectly-suited to the hotter months of the year, whether you let it play while chilling with a cold drink, or as the soundtrack to more energetic activities.  Nice tunes, sweet tones, and a lust for grooves that serves them well; it'll be neat to see how the band tops this one.  To get your own copy, you can hit up Serpent's BandCamp, or grab it on vinyl from Transubstans Records.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Dio, Electric Citizen, Night Horse, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy


Friday, June 24, 2016

Snakes In The Machinery...

Mos Generator / Year of the Cobra - Gamma/Hydra / The Siege (2016)

H42 Records and Ripple Music have teamed up again to release and distribute this split 7" to the world.  While both labels have handled groups from a variety of nations, the team-up this time is of a pair of American bands.
On the A-side, Mos Generator do a two-parter, and "Gamma/Hydra" is a tasty heavy rock groover.  Mellow vocals complement the tone of the guitar, sharp beats and steady rolls from the drums throw in some shake-ups, and the bass strums along without too many cares.  Some neat bridges and build-ups (particularly an extended instrumental break in the second half) add further spice, and the whole thing fits together quite well.
Year of the Cobra take the B-side with a heavier bent to their tune, as "The Siege" pairs slow-rolling bass riffs against peppier drums and vocals which put me in mind of Electric Citizen's more melodic songs.  They make sure to hit some hard beats with the chorus, though, bringing a sweet contrast to life as a result.
The two bands are touring through the USA, from June 17th to July 8th, so check their sites for dates and locations and catch a show if you can.  There's also four version of this split to be had, with H42's exclusive grey, Ripple's white, the tour-only gold, and standard black.  Check it out if you've been looking for some new heavy rock to keep your speakers blasting.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Electric Citizen, Fatso Jetson, Isaak, La Chinga, Mangoo


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Deep And Heavy Grooves...

Sunnata - Zorya (2016)

With their latest album, the Polish psychedelic doom group of Sunnata lays out five big tracks (with an average length of ten minutes or so) in which they make use of deadly riffs, earworm tunes, big bass presence, and enough fuzz to insulate your house (and who wouldn't want a house insulated with music?).  It's a near-immediate jump into the musical action, though a few atmospheric interludes of reverb and tonal focus crop up occasionally (the intro of "Long Gone", for example, makes good use of this as a near-midpoint chill zone before gradually revving back up).
Plenty of crunch and crush to the tracks helps ensure that things don't wander too far from the main threads while spinning out the psychedelic grooves, and the mean edges to their vocal joinings also aid in keeping things grounded in the midst of throbbing feedback.  To be honest, I feel like this is one of those albums where description just falls flat in communicating the actual listening experience, so if you've got a taste for heavy psych doom, by all means, crank up your speakers and play through it for yourself.  I will say, though, that it's damn good stuff.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Brume, Druglord, Gallileous, Merlin, Salem's Pot


Friday, June 17, 2016

Annelids And Ladders...

Palace of Worms - The Ladder (2016)

Palace of Worms' first album since 2010's Lifting the Veil (though a couple of splits were released in the interim, including one with Mastery, who guests on a couple tracks here) finds the one-man band drawing influences from a wider range, with death and doom joining the black metal base, while atmospheric touches of neofolk, symphonic metal, and more add further layers of complex moodiness.
Deep and haunting riffs meld well with the more savage outbursts of violent shredding, the drums are applied strongly to both moroseness and madness (with the complexity they get to show in the slower sections kind of stealing the faster sections' thunder), and while the timbre of the vocals doesn't change that often over the seven tracks of the album, it's worked into the compositions in forms that allow it to rage and wail in diverse ways.  Some carefully-rationed use of backing vocals helps lend a bit of extra suffering and majesty to the proceedings at points, while slow-paced bridges amplify the sense of desolate longing.
It's a very well-assembled album, and while there is a bit of disjunction from track to track, that kind of helps set each track apart as its own distinct experience.  Vinyl copies can be acquired through Broken Limb Recordings, digital copies through their BandCamp, and the cassette version is available through Acephale Winter Productions and Sentient Ruin Laboratories.  Good stuff, though not the easiest starting point for those new to blackened metal.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Abstracter, Alraune, Earthling, Heavydeath, Uroboros


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Starting The Climb...

Mount Soma - Origins EP (2016)

This debut EP from Irish group Mount Soma brings the band to bear with about twenty minutes of stony doom rock divided between three tracks.  Thick tones of reverb, nimble harmonics which get to nearly steal the show in the calmer passages, and drums which work well both restrained and hard-hitting make up the majority of the music, with Clutch-like vocals coming and going as called for by the energy of the songs.
It's not really something to put on when you're in a high-energy mood, but there's a nice sense of care taken with the music from moment to moment, something that should aid the band considerably in future efforts.  And while the group may still be finding their footing, musically speaking, it feels as though they could stand to up their aggression, as too large a percentage of this EP feels as though it's just drifting along.  True, the music is nice during that time, but even when the heaviness swings back into play, it doesn't feel as though there's that much of a destination in mind.
Still, on the whole, the band shows skill and good chemistry with each other, and for a first three songs, things could be a hell of a lot worse.  The down-sides are in hearing how much promise this band has, and being impatient for them to rise to that level and put out a full album, in which their inclination to go for sprawling compositions can really be put to use.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Ape Skull, Hobo Magic, Lords of Venus, Mares of Diomedes, Oceans of Titan


Monday, June 13, 2016

Blinding Desert Sun...

Curse The Son - Isolator (2016)

Curse The Son's Isolator starts off with something really special.  The five-minute title track that opens the album feels like a masterclass in subtle, menacing doom that evokes the old masters without mimicking them.  The jazzy, classy first half-minute of the song undeniably invokes the first few minutes of Electric Wizard's "Funeralopolis" but is done by Curse The Son with a degree of tact and subtlety that's never been one among Jus Oborn's many talents.
"Callous Unemotional Traits" stomps through with a bluesy, desert-baked riff and world-worn vocals that ooze a rusting, harsh old-world American vibe that can be damn hard to fake.  The Connecticut trio trade in the sort of riffs whose sheer weight and force can only be rivaled by elephants and jumbo jets; and the group excel at juxtaposing these dirty, furious riffs with melodic, howled vocals that imbue the band with a certain bluesy flavour I've not heard in a full-on doom band for a long time.
Largely the group eschews the more lysergic tendencies of the stoner doom style they operate in for a straighter approach; but the phased guitars and ominous atmosphere of "Hull Crush Depth" throw the group headlong down a very strange rabbit hole.  An excellent rhythm section holds down the whole thing throughout and, often, the music is stripped right back to the bare bones of drums and bass.  An excellent drum solo in "Sleepwalker Wakes" highlights the quality of the stick work on this album.
Isolator is an excellent album and one that ticks all the applicable boxes for the style.  Curse The Son play their brand of idiosyncratically American stoner doom with precision and also real style.  Vocal harmonies and a real sense of vivid dynamics throughout the album suggest a band that places far more value in song-craft and originality than many of their peers, and it has paid off with Isolator.

For Fans Of; Spelljammer, Weedeater, Moon Curse, YOB, Electric Wizard


Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Haunting Matinee...

Merrin - Midnight Movies (2016)

Merrin's love of movies is all over their latest release, from the name of the album (obviously) to the cover art, track titles, and their creation of a horror movie/music video for the opening track, "INT.BASEMENT.NIGHT" (which you can watch below).  Running a line-up of guitars, drums, and synths, the group gives themselves plenty of range in their assembly of moods and styles.  Moving easily from deep-cave doom to nigh-proggy rock ("De Palma"), slow-cooked stoner rock ("The Tenderiser"), and other approaches, Merrin show off their riff power on a number of fronts, though things are generally fairly heavy.
Even while instrumental, the sense of purpose with which the band moves through their songs lends things a concept album air (and the titles don't hurt at all in that regard).  Add to that the smooth momentum the band keeps going through all of these changes, and it's like a slow-turning kaleidoscope for your ears.
Trying to come up with comparisons for the group is a tough order, as they've quite thoroughly got their own thing going on this album.  The few that I was able to come up with that felt like comparable fits, I found, were bands which had also played around with the idea of their albums serving as soundtracks to unmade movies, or at least had that same cinematic scope of ambition and broad-spanning unity to their song-writing.  It's an album with levels of depth that'll easily swallow you if you're not careful, though that should come as a welcome experience.  Impressive through and through, be sure to check this one out for yourself.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Broughton's Rules, The Dunwich Orchestra, Have A Nice Life, Merlin, Pale World


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Tear The World Apart...

Slabdragger - Rise of the Dawncrusher (2016)

Boasting four big tracks (and a normal-sized one, "Evacuate!", popping in after the opener of "Mercenary Blues"), the sophomore album from London's trio of Slabdragger comes six years after their debut with the Regress LP, and as they mention in their album notes, it's been a rough time getting it here, but the results do a good job of arguing for the worth of the wait.
Quickly revving up to speed after a few lone notes to test the waters, the album lives up to the band's name by delivering chunky slabs of heaviness, grimy grooves, and dirty vocals dueling with the weighted bash of the drums.
Big as the tracks are, they manage to keep their momentum rolling along at impressive speeds, and work with some inventive structuring along the way.  Spinning off into tangents, welding in bursts of Lightning Bolt-like noise assaults, navigating jags of vicious shredding, and putting in thorough worship of their riffs, the group fuses stoner metal, doom, and sludge with just a dash of black metal for a potent cocktail of destructive forces.
Though it could have been the habanero salsa I was snacking on while listening to the album (trying to find something to eat with as much power to it as what my ears were ingesting), the music had me breaking out in sweats by the time of the title track, and primed for a big finish as "Implosion Rites" dropped into place for the finale.  I was not disappointed, either, as it took their massive riffage to the logical progression of a monster one, circling through its own tracks and casting off reverb and extra notes like the rattling stomp it represented.  And still more came.
So yeah, it's a hell of an experience, and it makes clear that Slabdragger put the time developing the album to damn good use.  By the time you read this, the last of the vinyl copies will likely be sold out, so if that's your format of choice, join me in hoping that a second pressing is on the way (maybe with some multi-national/continental distributors savvy enough to pick it up).  But be sure to check this one out if you're a fan of mad heavy music and mighty riffs; luckily, you can stream the whole thing on the group's BandCamp until you're convinced you need a copy of your own.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Behold! The Monolith, Church of Misery, Of Spire & Throne, Weedeater, Wounded Giant


Friday, June 10, 2016

Tusks And Tankards...

Humulus - Electric Walrus EP (2015)

Following up on their self-titled debut album from 2012, the Italian trio of Humulus are back with this three-track EP, fusing spacy psychedelia onto a stoner rock base.  Working from deep grooves, tasty string tones, and a drummer who keeps things rolling and bursts out some wildness when appropriate, the group shows their style with decisive flair, handling heavy and smooth measures without skipping a beat.
While the first track, "Red Star, Winter Orbit" is a big, swirling instrumental piece, "Maud and the Black Moon" brings in smoky vocals that had me in mind of Danzig at first, though that impression shifted more to Joy Division thanks to their integration with the bass.  The singing sticks around into the last track, "Glider", though they make some space for a very fine instrumental bridge to bring elements of the previous two songs together.
Playing with style that goes beyond the call of duty throughout the EP, Humulus have loaded the EP with hooks to catch those who haven't heard their work before.  If you dig stylish heavy rock, desert rock, stoner rock, psych rock, or... well, pretty much any heavy music, you should be able to get down with this.  Check it out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Brain Pyramid, Frozen Planet....1969, Lint, Mondo Drag, RHINO


Sunday, June 05, 2016

Plugged-In Pineal Broadcast...

Ethereal Riffian - Youniversal Voice (2016)

With a string of releases under their belt since starting up in 2010, the Ukrainian group of Ethereal Riffian have put together a respectably-sized catalog of tunes by this point.  That repertoire gets a nice exploration in this live album, which joins together tracks from the group's earlier albums (including all of Aeonian) with a couple of new songs.  As you might guess from the names and artwork, there's a large dose of psychedelia to the material, with Eastern modes, didgeridoo, chanting, and other fixtures of the quest for expanded consciousness getting melded to heavy bass, thick riffs, and other stoner doom staples.
The band also gets a nicely fluid momentum going with the songs, something fairly rare among the live metal albums I've heard, with a neat stream-of-consciousness unrolling taking effect as the tight chords and sprawling feedback come together.  The musicians put in some excellent performances along the way, clearly invested in playing the songs as effectively as they can, and the emotional projection from that work adds something special to the experience.
How easily you'll get caught up in the blitz of melodies and thunderous crescendos is up to your preference for that sort of thing, of course, but the skills put on display by Ethereal Riffian within the songs of this release are hard to deny, whatever your tastes may be.  From the gradual warm-up of the intro to the last echoes of the final track, Ethereal Riffian play their asses off to deliver a well-made album, with little to none of the slacking off that bands commonly find excuses to do when assembling a live album.  If you haven't heard this group's work before, it makes for an excellent jumping-in point, and fans of previous releases should be thrilled to hear the lush treatments in spontaneity received by the songs in a live context.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Eternal Elysium, Frank Sabbath, Mondo Drag, Santana, Terminal Cheesecake


Saturday, June 04, 2016

Songs From The Ruins...

Chronobot / AlgomA - AlgomA // Chronobot (2016)

When we last heard from Chronobot, it was on their split with Hemptress, released by Sunmask Records.  Now they're back with another double-Canadian split, this time served up by Dead Beat Media, and their partner in crime this time is the sludge-dealing group of AlgomA.
AlgomA take the A-side (naturally), starting off with "Phthisis", a filthy-sounding, high-bass rager with a big chunky riff to get lodged in your brain, along with bubbling strains of feedback.  Then it's "Electric Fence", a track with a dystopian setting to match the cover art, with internment camps and betrayal fueled by starvation lending things a harsh grime of despair to go with the electrified sizzle of the chords.
Over on Chronobot's side, some of that sludgy residue remains, but things are shifted to more of a stoner doom stance, with broad bass riffs, plodding beats, and shots of melodic lead guitar to liven up the proceedings.  Stretches of instrumental grooving characterize their first track, "Red Nails", before they tumble on into "Jerry Can", a gear closer to the harshness of AlgomA's tunes, with another strong riff leading the listener through the track.  Lastly, "Sons of Sabbath" pays homage to the great ones, bringing things to a close with a fast-running stony jam.
Between the two bands, there's a nice range of heaviness covered, and both put on good shows, making this a solid introduction for those new to either group.  It's also a nice reminder that Canada's high-quality metal is hardly limited to the tech-death that seems to overshadow its exports, so in short, snag this one up if you're in the mood for some low-tuned metal to make you feel dirty.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Church of Misery, Ensorcelor, Moloch, Pale Horseman, Tons


Friday, June 03, 2016

Creeps In The Canopies...

Sloth King - EP (2015)

Coming to us from Germany, the quintet of Sloth King are going in with this ~40-minute debut EP of their tunes.  Fitting with their name, the band's music tends towards being slow and majestic, balancing between doom metal, stoner rock, and some funereal blackening of tone with gnarly guitar chords and churning bass riffs, while the vocals soar through the low end (occasionally complemented by backing snarls) and the drummer performs impressively in a wide range of speeds.
From the comparatively chill opening in "Relinquish" on through the death-crawl of "Witch", the creeping misery of "Towering Ruins", the slow-burning fury of "Ever And Anon", and the massive, reality-warping finish in "Strange Entities Beckoning From Beyond", Sloth King find ways of incorporating odd but compelling twists of style in effective ways while retaining the essential heaviness.  As an introduction of the band to the world, it does a great job, showing off their skills in a number of areas, delivering memorable compositions, and show-casing their inventiveness and interest in stretching boundaries.  A great start, let's hope they follow it up with another release before too long and get more ears tuned in to their excellent material.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Black Magician, Hexenjäger, The Sleer, Trees, Wolf Blood