Sunday, August 28, 2016

Thunder And Destruction...

- Tuho (2016)

After warming up with a couple of EPs over the past couple of years, Finnish group Dö have released their first full-length album, and the six tracks held within it present their sludgy doom in fine form, deploying gruff vocals, pounding drums, and low-growling strings in a swampy mass of beats and anger.  "Born Under Black Wings" opens things up with a roar, pursuing that initial burst of power with dogged determination, throwing chunky chords and snarls around without fear.  "Everblast II (The Aftermath)" follows, switching in some higher pitch for the guitar and bringing some earworm melodies with it, riding the riffs through thundering drum-work and the lower strings' rumble. From there, "Ex Oblivione" shows more of that melodic side, with an instrumental ride through uneasy atmosphere and increasingly pressurized measures swelling to monstrous slamming.  "Kylmä" rides a rugged groove in to pick up where "Ex Oblivione" leaves off, working its main riff with focus and wonderful grime to the tones.  "Hail the Fire", the shortest track by far at a little under two and a half minutes, provides a calm interlude on acoustic guitar, with vocals toned down to match its quiet contrast.
But then "Forsaken Be Thy Name" rips into life, with its ~12-minute runtime to bring things to an end, and those moments of softness are gone, stomped out by a colossus of pain, savagery, and regret.  Sometimes using the full instrument set, and paring it down for aching power at other moments, the song makes for an excellent close-out to the album, showing even more variety to Dö's expansive style.  For a first album, the presentation by the band should have them winning over the ears of heavy music fans around the world in short order, so be sure you give them a listen as soon as you can.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Attalla, Funeral Horse, Green Fiend, Oldd Wvrms, Wounded Giant


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Gorging On Ether...

Devourer of Heaven - When the Sky Fell EP (2016)

This first EP from the Los Angeles-based doom project Devourer of Heaven is the work of Alex Makuch, who wrote, performed, recorded, and mixed all of the songs.  "Rise" starts off the EP in a sedate tone, strings being gently warmed up, before the heavier elements filter into place.  Some nice grime to the guitar tone clears the way for the growled vocals, and as the guitar picks up into wilder life, the bass and drums swell out into a grander scope, fitting well with the track's title and laying a strong groundwork for what follows.
"Fire and Pain" takes it from there, with guest Sten Hasselquist contributing some extra guitar layers, as the mood shifts to more of a melodic doom sensibility, though the hard edges of the break-downs retain the kick of the first song.  A smooth shift carries on into "Empire Dead", showing some more overt funeral doom influences (balanced by some lively howls from guitar) as the weight of the chords intensifies and the bridging riffs slow.
Lastly, "Gallows Prayer" returns to the initial calm of "Rise", savoring some slow-picked notes before blooming into a lush arrangement working thick-nested drum-work against the slower strings, and finishing with a solid flourish and declension.  The variety put into the songs speaks well for the DoH project's future, as there's a sense of fruitful experimentation to each of the songs.  Far from being a one-note style worshipper, Makuch seems to be taking pleasure in finding ways of fusing non-obvious aspects of different doom strains together for something which challenges him, while not going overboard enough to lose grasp of the songs' main drives.  Good stuff all around, and a very promising start for the band.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Battle Path, Blind Samson, Crimson Altar, The Munsens, Pillar of Leviathan


Friday, August 26, 2016

Joyriding Meteoroids...

Stonecutter - Space Ride EP (2016)

Making their debut with this EP (which is titled as simply Stonecutter EP on their BandCamp), this duo from Poland introduce themselves to the world with five tracks focused on having fun with that mix of styles that Polish groups seem so adept with: namely, doom/stoner metal with a wide streak of psychedelia and some bluesy currents.
Opening track "Tombstone" draws listeners into the action with eight minutes of instrumental cruising, building momentum and craggy riffs with thick fuzzy bass to serve as their tarmac, before "Space Rock" activates the jets to break out of the atmosphere and head for outer space with plans of bleary-eyed mischief.  Alternating between deep, hard crunches and more open acoustic environments for the strings, the song keeps things burning along without staying too rooted in what came before it.
The band's self-titled track picks up from there, sprawling out over more than nine minutes, and slipping into a mellower ride (one which literally gave me goosebumps as the tones slid over each other), though it's not too long before the heaviness re-emerges, with pedal treatments of the strings producing something akin to gravity's pull in audio form.  "Stone Cold Blues" picks up after that, getting even crunchier and dirtier with the riffs, and finally, "Klint Westwood" provides a two-minute wrap-up with a spaced-out take on a familiar melody.
As a whole, the EP does a great job of showing off the duo's talents, covering a nice range of varying styles, heaviness, and techniques in execution, while leaving enough unsaid to build temptation for follow-ups.  Personally, I can't wait to hear more from this band, so I'll be hoping that they get the recognition and support from fans that they've earned with their work so far.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Acid Elephant, Dead Thunder, Frozen Planet....1969, Gallileous, Major Kong


Monday, August 22, 2016

Season of the Blues...

Slow Season - Westing (2016)
Slow Season's third outing, Westing, kicks off with a frenetic blues rock jam that sounds like the bastard child of Clutch and Led Zeppelin.  Propulsive, energetic and impossible to dislike Y'Wanna fulfils the classic role of an opening track.  It grabs you where it hurts and it never lets go.
The thumping, hard hitting drum work may lack discretion but it does supply the sort of furious backing Bonham would be happy with whilst the stop start riffage of Flag owes a similarly large debt to Jimmy Page.  If the spirit of Led Zeppelin hangs heavy over Slow Season then it's no bad thing and nothing that a million doom bands haven't done with Black Sabbath.
In ways more than just their influences, Slow Season have a decidedly retro aesthetic.  The majority of the songs on Slow Season fade out, rather than lasting until their natural endings.  It might not seem a lot but it hasn't been the norm to fade rock songs out since the seventies.  The slow grinding blues rock of The Jackal summons to mind the dust drenched blues of the deltas as re-imagined through the sphere of scuzzy old school hard rock.
Slow Season may not be innovators as such but there is something paradoxically refreshing about their sound.  You can compare them to the old legends all you like but it doesn't diminish the fact that they're actually very good at what they do and Slow Season proves this as much here if not more than their previous efforts.
If criticism had to be meted it would lie for me with the production; on songs like Saurekonig there's a slightly murkiness to the sound - a lack of instrument clarity.  Perhaps this is intentional, but a drier more directly punchy production would have better suited these decidedly to-the-point songs.  It's a small fly in an otherwise very enticing jar of ointment though.
Make no mistake, those who like their rock heavy on the dirt and even heavier on the blues will find much to enjoy here.  Those who don’t like heavily influenced music might be best to move on, as it's not hard to identify the album’s roots if you're out to do so – but I see no reason to penalise them for that.  Slow Season have produced an excellent heavy blues rock record here and those enamoured with the genre's downtrodden charm should give this album a listen pronto.
~ Martin

For fans of; Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wishbone Ash, Groundhogs, Kadavar

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Burning On And On...

Stone House On Fire - Neverending Cycle (2016)

Neverending Cycle is the second full album from this Brazilian group, and with it, they groove through eight tracks of solid heavy rock, seasoned with retro psychedelia and a more modern touch of hardness to their rock.  Savory guitar tones rolled in light fuzz, jazzy drum-work, a strong sense of atmosphere, and grooves crafted to sink firmly into memory are cooked into an impressively detailed album.
The care taken with building momentum across the songs is another strong point, with a swift rise through the first half, a breather in the form of ~2-minute "Pasaje", and a ramping up through the last three songs, ending with the ~7-minute rampage of the title track, which wraps things up with plenty of flourish.
It's an album that's easy to just let yourself get absorbed by, soaking up the powerful riffs and rhythms, but at the same time, it's one which rewards careful listening, picking out the nuances of those sweeping drives.  Pre-orders are up now for vinyl and cassette copies, so if you've got a taste for heavy rock that does more than just imitate the old ways, do yourself a favor and check in on SHOF.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Earth Drive, Gripe, Hijo de la Tormenta, Mondo Drag, Montaña Electrica


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Feel Them Twisting...

CEBO))) - GUTS (2016)

One-man sludge band CEBO))) is back with five more tracks on this new release, rolling on the momentum of Bloodwheel, which was released back in January.  Starting off with "Hill Country", a series of vocal samples from bluesmen and killers are threaded together with an undercurrent of bassy menace and understated humor, doing a great job of setting the mood while telling its own story.  The title track follows, launching into more dominant bass and bringing in the rest of the instruments, including the gruffly raw vocals, as a prickly riff develops into a craggy groove, leading listeners further in with the slow-bounce beats and thick tones.  "Sinkhole" makes for the last of the release's original tracks, getting further down in the swampy sidling rhythms before exiting on a keening note.
From there, a mean and gritty take on Cream's "Blue Condition" churns out the grime, switching between the vocals used on the previous two tracks and a cleaner (but synth-burbled) voice treatment, lending the interpretation a nice polish even while it swims in the muck.  Lastly, a cover of Willie Dixon's "Meet Me in the Bottom" cranks through it at high speed, making for a style that's like rockabilly filtered through sludge's sensibilities, and bouncing along like a pick-up with aging suspension.
The songs show a further growth of CEBO)))'s experimental nature, as well as the way the elements are assembled, and above all, he seems to be having fun with the material.  Check this one out if you want some sludge that recognizes its bluesy roots.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Church of Misery, Chronobot, Dopethrone, Groggy, Weedeater


Friday, August 19, 2016

Spilling New Blood...

Crimson Altar - Clairvoyance EP (2016)

Coming to us from Portland, Oregon, the quartet of Crimson Altar are making their debut with this release, sporting four tracks of doom to make their first impressions on fans of heavy music.  The music has a little fuzz to it, and some nice emphasis on melody (particularly with the control shown in the vocals), but the band's main focus is on melding traditional doom with modern touches, not afraid to break out of the slow crush tempo for a lively bit of guitar noodling or some unexpected sweetness in the form of flute (handled by vocalist Alexis Kralicek).
On the whole, the band's efforts to tinker with the staples of doom while keeping its essence firmly intact are quite successful, though there are times where trying to find a balance feels like it would be better suited by diving more fully into the heavy end before coming back up with a lighter touch.  Aside from that, and a slight need for more rhythmic variations, Crimson Altar are in fine form, with songs that have a more than fair chance at getting lodged in memory until you find yourself humming out a few bars.  Good stuff all around, be sure to check this crew out; and if you're in the north-west region of the USA, you've got a chance to catch them live over the next few days, just check their BandCamp page for the dates.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Blind Samson, Brume, Jess and the Ancient Ones, Mist, Wolf Blood


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Splash It On...

chainsaw rainbow - art brut (2016)

With his latest album, Chainsaw Rainbow's mastermind Dominic Massaro offers up ten new tracks of effects-laden guitar and dreamy drifting, including a new version of "Love is a Vapor".  Covering a range from soft-ringing chords to blaring feedback (and regularly layering the two extremes over each other), the songs play with contrasts of aggression and introspection, spooling out hypnotic loops but ratcheting the tension up to prevent getting drawn into drowsiness.  Punkish raucousness and shoegaze's pedal play are blended in interesting ways throughout the tracks, whether pushing into harder territory or slowing down to calmer cruising, as the swirling tones and heavy resonance bleed together in well-handled waves.
The album also shows some changes in the way Massaro is approaching the songs, though picking out particulars is a bit tricky due to the idiosyncrasies of each individual Chainsaw Rainbow release.  Where photorealistic had a focused, almost tunnel-vision-like push through channels of single-minded drone and pedal drive, Art Brut shows more diversity within the bounds of the tracks, wandering about and taking in some changes instead of blasting away.  While both approaches have their merits, it's a little too easy to imagine the musician getting worn out on the latter in quick order, so the signs of alteration are reassuring, while also giving listeners who aren't directly in tune with the fuzz-drone experience something more to latch onto if it's their first time hearing the band.  As usual with Chainsaw Rainbow, check it out when you're in the mood for some good-humored heavy psychedelic material with a wide streak of shoegaze and drone influences, and you should be well satisfied.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Mind, Skullflower, Spacemen 3, Telstar Sound Drone, Terminal Cheesecake


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Lit By Burning Corpses...

Wizard City - Wizard City EP (2016)

Starting off with a film sample worked well into a building atmosphere of dread before launching into low-toned strings, grinding bass, and raw vocals, "Filthy Disease" starts off this debut from England's own Wizard City with a fusion of doom and sludge, roiling sickly between the weight of the former and mental grime of the latter.  It makes for a striking mix, one executed quite well by the quintet, with further exploration shown in "Eternal Realm of Hate", which brings in a stinging sharpness for the guitar while the vocals belch out that old chestnut of "Where is your god now?".
"Jail Cage" churns up some fuzz while handling a bit of a throwback-flavored main riff, the proto-doom of it soon savaged by the sludgy rawness and aggression, though it rises back up to take its own before the finish.  Lastly, "Abyss" sinks into an instrumental pit of nasty growls and heavy resonance, making for a stylish finale which show-cases the group's abilities in constructing a layered monster of a track.  An excellent first release, and one which should have listeners looking forward to further output from this crew.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    The Air Turned To Acid, Coffin Torture, Dopethrone, The Hyle, Verdun


Friday, August 12, 2016

Finding Familiar Strangers...

Serpents of Dawn - Beloved Unknown EP (2016)

Following up on their 2013 debut, Burnt Offerings, the San Francisco-based group Serpents of Dawn are back with this quartet of new tracks, featuring an adjusted and expanded line-up behind the music.  Running about a quarter of an hour, the EP starts off with "Yawning Black Abyss", setting up the style of doom rock with gruff, growling vocals running under the retro-influenced riffage, the two guitars showing nice interplay as the drums sweep in on the fills and bass plugs away.  "Eye for an Eye" and "Locust Bringer" roll along in similar modes, trying slight tweaks on the formula, mostly by way of seeing how the guitars can get cranked and twisted, before "Out of the Mire" rises up with a sizzling riff right out of the gate to carry things to the end. 
While some more variety would certainly be welcome on the group's future releases, they're showing a solid dynamic between the members, and the songs have an infectious energy that helps them feel bigger than their three-minutes-and-change durations.  Give this group a listen if you want some fun heavy times, and keep your fingers crossed for their next release to arrive before too long.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Blacksmoker, DoomLord, High on Fire, Nightosaur, Queen Crescent


Monday, August 08, 2016

Salem's Pot Interview

Salem's Pot have been on an upward trend of exposure ever since Daniel Hall heard their Watch Me Kill You demo, and subsequently formed Easy Rider Records (soon to become RidingEasy Records) just to make sure the recording got a wider release and vinyl editions.  In addition to the releases Sweeden and ...Lurar Ut Dig På Prärien, the Swedish group has released a couple of singles and a split with Windhand; recently, that catalog has been expanded to include the band's first 'full-length' album, Pronounce This!.  Salem's Pot were kind enough to indulge our questions about their influences, the changes within the band, and what they see on the horizon.

The Burning Beard: Hi there, and thanks for letting us throw some questions at you.  To start things off, what's the worst question you've been asked in an interview?  Aside from this one, of course.
Salem's Pot:  That is actually a good question.  Any questions about what drugs we took during our recordings or about drugs in general are pretty boring and we are pretty fed up with those questions.  Communication in music is deeper than just chemicals, if you've been there you know what it's about and it just comes out naturally.  I mean, have you reached yet?

TBB: As fans of old sleazy movies, have you come across any lately that really got you excited? 
SP: Recently saw "Who could kill a child?" and I really liked it.  Possessed Spanish children on an island without spoiling too much.  Perfect summer movie. 

TBB: Are there any particular visual artists (in film, painting, live performance, comic books/strips, etc.) who have had a special influence on the music and/or album presentation of Salem's Pot, or whom the band-members just dig on and would recommend fans of the band look into?
SP: Anything from the compositions of Ennio Morricone to the movies by Kenneth Anger and the music/live performances of Hawkwind.  Giallo movies and Hammer Films artwork are also a big inspiration. 

TBB: If Salem's Pot could provide the soundtrack or score to a movie by any film-maker, live or dead, who would the top contenders be?
SP: Stanley Kubrick and Dario Argento.

TBB: Do any of the members have a favorite Stephen King movie, or is there no real connection there beyond the name?
SP: Stephen King's stories have haunted us since we were kids and Salem's Lot, Misery, It and Carrie, to name a few, are all awesome.  But Kubrick's The Shining is probably one of the best movies ever made. 

TBB: In previous interviews, you've said that you never wanted to get stuck doing a single type of music.  What are some exercises or methods you use to keep things fresh?
SP: Well, it's pretty much impossible to make something that's never been done before, but we're trying to not restrain ourselves.  We never start a song by saying that it should sound like this or that, we just play what comes to our minds and if it sounds catchy enough it doesn't really matter what genre it is.   Also we are all into different stuff so we put in a little bit of everything, as long as it's creepy. 

TBB: As a band which started out as a two-piece, what's it like to be working with such a comparatively large line-up these days?
SP: When the two of us started the band it was only one of us who played an instrument, so we took in a bass player and a drummer just to have a beat to make noise over.  The other one took care of the artwork and the visual parts as well as the concept.  He eventually learned how to play the organ and synthesizers and with the addition of that I can focus more on actually playing guitar.  We used to have a hard time finding a drummer who lived in the same town so a friend of ours, who's really a guitar player, took the job.  Finally he got sick of playing drums and was about to leave, so we put him on a second guitar and recruited the drummer from his old band.  It was really difficult in the beginning and pretty much sounded like total chaos, but now I can't see it any other way.

TBB: You did a great split with Windhand a few years back. Are there any other bands you'd really like to do a split record with?  Actually, let me fork that into two parts: bands who are currently active, and bands which you'd have to do some magic to reunite or bring some members back to life for recording purposes.
SP: Currently Beastmaker, otherwise The Cramps. 

TBB: If money and other logistics were of no concern, what would your dream pack-in item for a Salem's Pot album be, aside from merciless psychic expansion?
SP: Probably an anti-gravity machine. 

TBB: Was there any special consideration as to who wore which masks on the cover of Pronounce This!, or was it just what you dug out of your closets/picked up at the local costume shop?
SP: We all picked out which masks we wanted to have for our live performance and the clothes are from our own and our girlfriends' closets.

TBB: What are some of the strangest things you've encountered on tour so far?
SP: Russia was pretty crazy, everything from the vodka-fueled train ride to the drunken/stoned crowd in our dressing room.   One guy stage-dived without anyone catching him.  But there's been a lot of weird stuff on the road, some of it isn't even weird anymore.  After a show in Munich one of us tried to put his mattress into a small closet because it would be like "sleeping in a coffin".  It obviously wasn't even close to fitting and none of it made any sense, I guess he ended up on the floor.

TBB: Are there any annoying misconceptions about the band that you tend to come across?
SP: We've heard a lot of things, anything from that we really are a side project of Windhand to that we ride bicycles to our gigs.  Some people seem to be upset about that we don't play the same riff for 20 minutes anymore, but truth be told we just did that because we couldn't play any better. 

TBB: What are Salem's Pot's plans for the near future?
SP: Amsterdam this weekend and Sonic Blast festival in Portugal in August.  And then a European tour with Electric Citizen in October that should be announced soon.  Apart from that, try to stay sane and not get eaten alive by the society. 

TBB: Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?
SP: Thanks for sticking with us, without you this world would be long gone. 

TBB: Thanks very much for your time and the excellent music!
SP: Thank you!

~ Gabriel

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Melody Amongst The Fuzz...

Moths & Locusts - Helios Rising (2016)
Melody is a musical tool that can too often be forgotten in heavy rock.  Distortion pedals might be the rock guitarist's ‘bread and butter’ but a keen sense of melody is always a good thing - yet many guitarists act as though distortion and melody are mutually exclusive.
Moths and Locusts clearly realise the power of a good tune though, as this most recent in a long series of releases from the Canadian quartet, Helios Rising, is every bit as melodic as it is heavy.  The guitars craft distorted melodies not a million miles away from Queens Of The Stone Age at their more aggressive; and vocals are clean, clear and well sung.
Although Helios Rising's compositions lack the repetitive, long form jamming of Space Rock, the album does have the genre's signature bleeps and bloops in plentiful supply throughout, adding a psychedelic element to the group's sound.  It's an effective embellishment that manages to never distract from the song itself.
In addition to the group's finely tuned sense of melody, there's a very natural sense of dynamics on the album too.  Troubled is a slow burning, atmospheric jam that suspensefully threatens heaviness for a long time before finally giving it.  The track's echo laden wails and murmurs give the piece a fittingly tortured sense of drama.
Overall, Helios Rising is a fine album that comfortably fits in with the wider heavy psych rock movement without losing its own identity.
~ Martin

For Fans Of; Hawkwind, Queens Of The Stone Age, Floor, Truck Fighters, Torche

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Our Dear Leader (320 kbps)