Saturday, October 14, 2017

Composure Flowing Away...

Odradek Room - A Man of Silt (2017)


Coming to us from Ukraine, the group of Odradek Room have readied their sophomore album, and A Man of Silt shows the band delving into a compelling mixture of prog, doom, post-rock, and sludge, with a variety of ways to blend those styles flowing out of every track. Flexing their musical muscles in a range covering slow and melodic introspection up through snarling, dissonant rage, OR continually shift from one blend to the next without making the changes feel anything but natural. The number of instruments they put to use is just as impressive, and like the styles, they're brought together in such an organic way that their diversity can fly right past the ears. The vocals aren't quite as fluid with their changes, both both clean and dirty singing is put to solid effect, with enough time spent in instrumental passages to help smooth their presence.
It's an impressive and ambitious album, and as a sophomore release, all the more staggering for the range OR are able to pull off with few hitches, with a level of depth that issues a siren's call for listeners to return to it again and again. Give it a go if you've been in want of expansive, experimental, and extremely good metal.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Animi Vultus, Bell Witch, Hesperian Death Horse, Indukti, Mamaleek




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Saturday, October 07, 2017

Gravity And Ether...

Earth Drive - Stellar Drone (2017)


We last heard from Earth Drive around this time of year back in 2015, with their EP Planet Mantra. If you were with us back then, you might remember how much I loved that record, along with their first album, Known by the Ancients (and if you weren't, you can read those reviews right here). Now they're back with a second full album, sounding even better than those excellent earlier efforts, blending their earthy psychedelia with hard metal power, and commanding head-banging reactions again and again.
They vary the balance between psych and metal up quite a bit across the six songs proper (plus a quick little intro track), but there's a strong sense of character and style connecting them all, as the bass thunders loud, the drums snake and smack through gnarly rhythms, the guitar wails and snarls, and the vocals coil deftly through it all. It's one of those albums that can make you think 'I should upgrade my speakers for this,' but fans of heavy psych should be able to enjoy this wherever and whatever their listening situation is, provided the volume can go high enough. Definitely a strong contender for year's best, at least in my book.
And hearing the album, it's hard to believe that the band has such a low-key presence online. The album's getting a CD release by RagingPlanet Records, but as of yet, no word on a vinyl release (even though, at 48 minutes run-time, with the title track opening up the second half, it's practically tailor-made for one). Hopefully some savvy specialty label will get their ears on this and get some LPs pressed, but don't sit on this album until that happens, grab yourself a CD or digital copy and fill your home, vehicle, or wherever with the power of this group. Get it, savor it, and spread the word.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Gripe, Frozen Planet....1969, Mondo Drag, Nelly Olsen, Venus Sleeps



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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Breaking The Burden...

Yanomamo - Neither Man Nor Beast (2017)



It's been a while since we last heard from the Australian crew of Yanomamo, but with their first full album (scheduled for release on CD and vinyl on October 20th), they've returned in fine form, bringing a bevy of heavy riffs to bear in a set of eight sludge-soaked songs. A choice sample from Caligula kicks off the festivities in “Blood Red, Black God”, from which the band unrolls a slow-beating assault with a sly streak of humor. They work the bass low and dirty, the drums hit hard, and the vocals are suitably grimy, with little flab or redundancy to the songs. I did find myself wanting some more feedback nastiness, but I always want more of that in my sludge consumption.
Yanomamo strike a good balance between that mean leanness and thick, tarry grooves, bringing the album in at a respectable (and vinyl-friendly) forty-five minutes or so. There's a clear stylistic continuity between the songs, but there's also a fair amount of experimenting within that stretch, with the use of flanging strings adding some of the most distinctive tones to the proceedings. Hit this up if you've been seeking some gnarly sludge with strong grooves, and rock well once you've got it.
~ Gabriel


For Fans Of; Attalla, Grey Widow, Meth Drinker, O.D.R.A., Open Tomb




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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Churning Out Filth...

O.D.R.A. - V (2017)


The Polish group of O.D.R.A. last crossed our radar back in 2015, with their debut album, Sexnarkoman. The grimy authenticity of their sludge snarling (not to mention their cover art style) put me in mind of early EyeHateGod back then, and two years later (with an appearance on a four-way split LP bridging the two albums) the group still sounds defiant and nasty, starting off their first song (“Motloch”) with a hocked loogie before crashing into grinding bass and ruptured howls.
But there's also some subtle refinement to their feverish aggression on this new album. As they thread together the bone-grinding riffs, there's more direction shaping the songs, even when they hit near-off-the-rails levels of riff-smashing (“Widly”, for instance). At forty minutes across eight songs (nearly a quarter of that given to the closing track, “Tkacze”), the band strikes a good balance between quick action and satisfying substance. Dragging sludge on for too long can kill an album's replay value, or at least reduce it to a few favorite and several skippers, but with the average song on V running four minutes and change, they give themselves room to experiment while still keeping it suitably lean. If you've been hungering for some genuinely nasty sludge lately, give this crew a go, and crank it up loud.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Blind Samson, CEBO, Coffin Torture, Hesperian Death Horse, le bomje




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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fusion Of Fears...

Ksyatriya & Animi Vultus - Discrimination (2017)


It's been too damn long since we heard from either Ksyatriya or Animi Vultus (three years and change since the former's most recent release, and over five years for the latter), so it comes as not just a delight, but a relief to get word from the groups that this split had been put together and was ready to be shared with the world.
Ksyatriya lead the way on the digital A-side, opening with the ~10-minute “(R).egimented (A).utocratic (C).ontrol (I).n the (S).ubdivision of (M).ankind”, a slabby mountain on which the band puts to work samples of diatribes by Malcolm X over craggy riffs and shuddering, thickly-reverbed tones. “Rise of the Femme Order: Bigot Cleansing” makes up the second section of the duo's record half, retaining the heavy bass presence while introducing the words of Emmeline Pankhurst for the ideological component. Both tracks feature careful development of the instrumental shaping, taking the droning thrum and directing it with nudges and anglings of the pulse, and there's a feel not unlike a sociologically-minded take on Bell Witch's “Beneath the Mask”, though the brothers of Ksyatriya give it much more distinction than that simple description suggests.
Animi Vultus' 'B-side' consists of just one track, the sprawling “Joy of Existence”, which clocks in at just over half an hour. In that space, the band grows their titan from quiet beginnings to deep snarls of doomy resonance, on through interludes of quiet menace, and into some violently energized rampages. There's a lot of discrete sectioning, with moments like their defiant digging deeper and deeper into a vein of sustained riffage that gets spikier and meaner with each pass, or the frenetic drumming so fast it's (almost) certainly programmed, or the nasty rumble that sinks, and sinks, and sinks still more. There's some real power and direction behind the voiceless doom they provide, and it finishes the split off on a decisive drop into the void.
It's been a while since I've heard an album, even a single-artist affair, that managed the kind of focus and completion of purpose that this one achieves. The two groups complement each other damn nicely, leaving listeners to guess at how much communication between them went on behind the music's construction, and the tension stretch of the last few minutes comes at a time when the musical handling should have attentive ears dangling on its string. Expect this one on the year's best releases list.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Bongripper, Major Kong, Sunken, White Darkness




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Friday, August 25, 2017

Orbits And Outgrowth...

Frozen Planet.... 1969 - From the Centre of a Parallel Universe (2017)


It should be no secret that we're big fans of FP69 here at TBB, as they always bring excellence with their heavy psych rock.  With this latest record, the Australian crew have again brought the magic thunder to bear, funking around on thick jammy grooves and swirling up their guitar tones with savory finesse.  Oozing bass waves and snaky drum patterns keep the songs driving forward, and while the tunes take some rambling routes, they rarely lose the momentum and undulating pulse that the band's chemistry and amped-up weight generate.
At only five tracks (and one of those an intro that lasts about a minute), it does feel like a shorter album than the band's usual fare.  But part of that is down to the smooth flow of the music, as they still hit nearly three-quarters of an hour between the other four tracks.  It's hefty stuff, but also disarmingly frisky, carrying a jazzy feel of improv and interplay between the musicians, and doing a stunning job of sweeping listeners up in that energy.  And with the last track, “Ancient Wings Taking Flight”, FP69 really capitalizes on that captivation, churning up and smoothing out their riffs until you've gotta just float along on the waves.   It's the sound of a band in their prime not settling for the familiar, and the pay-off is fantastic.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, JPT Scare Band, Mondo Drag, Reptensol, Ten Years After




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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Roots Buried Deep...

Warrior Pope - Anchorite (2017)


With their debut album a couple of years ago, Warrior Pope delivered one big track to serve as the whole of the LP, a mammoth they steered through experimentation on a doom foundation. With this new release, the band has opted to split their efforts into four tracks, and with that reworking of the structuring comes a wider range of styles drawn into the making of the music. The doom is still there, and strong, but there's also touches of desert rock, prog, post-rock, and psychedelic, all woven together in ways that neatly avoid feeling forced or heavy-handed.
And the development of those chords and riffs? Damn tasty. The group has quite a way with building tension and subtle layers while grinding down on a heavy progression, allowing their instruments to do all the singing and howling. The title track almost feels like an album unto itself, between the ~17-minute duration and the labyrinth of twists it follows. But by surrounding it with distinctly separate (and excellent) songs, Warrior Pope have side-stepped that semi-problem from their first album, where the waves of song growing through their changes made it difficult to recall the original forms or particular passages with clarity. Here, they take a trek that's easier to trace, without compromising the depth of the songs. And it is good. Hell, it's pretty damn great.
The biggest strike against it would be the clip-off endings for the songs. They reach satisfying endings, but then cut the track before the tones finish trailing off, generating a little amp pop in the speakers. It's not a big fault, since it fits somewhat with the organic atmosphere, but as the one thing I'd pick out against them, it does stand out. On the whole, it's hard not to recommend; the album is epic without being ostentatious, experimental without losing its way, and the savagery the music sometimes generates makes for a great contrast with their song-writing techniques. Keep your fingers crossed for this one getting physical release.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Broughton's Rules, Dead Hand, Reptensol, Venus Sleeps




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Saturday, August 05, 2017

The Great Enchainment...

Earthling - Spinning in the Void (2017)


I first heard Earthling when Forcefield Records was kind enough to include a promo CD copy of their first album, Dark Path, with one of my orders. I eventually listened to it, and shortly after that, ordered the vinyl. That first album has continued to grow on me with every listen, and I've been waiting for this follow-up to emerge for quite a while. Now that it's here (four years after that debut), I'm thrilled to hear the band still going strong, with some adjustments and experimentation finding their way into the band's blend of black/death/thrash/doom (and just a touch of well-handled power metal).
Leading with “Clay in the Hands of Evil”, Earthling load the bases with touchstones of the full album, including sharp guitar shredding, ragged growling howls, quick shifts of rhythm and tempo, and some deviously gnarly riffs. From there, they build up more and more venom with the songs, carving away, laying down hard beats, hammering and smashing when needed, and gradually reducing the amount of breathing room listeners are given. That control of intensity is a welcome retainer piece from the first album, and while the group doesn't follow the same arc of rising abandon for this set of six songs, they do bring more power to the music with each successive track. It's not just in the escalations of speed, fury, drum-pounding, and general volume, but (perhaps) most effectively in the way the instruments join together to hit a commanding, keening focus of tone and style.
I could go on about the other great parts of the album (like that suspension tension to the intro of “The Helm” – oof!), but taken out of the actual experience, the words just wouldn't be doing it justice. To make it simple, if you dig on high-power metal fierceness that doesn't feel the need to restrict itself to just one of the style's sub-groupings, grab yourself a copy of this album (and the first, while you're at it). High quality, showing signs of good growth while retaining the essential character, this is a sophomore album to inspire envy in similar bands and solid replays for fans.
~ Gabriel


For Fans Of; Atrocity, Battle Path, Lesbian, Necrophobic, Weapon




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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Melting The Desert...

El Jefazo - El Jefazo (2017)



With their first studio album, the Peruvian group of El Jefazo come out packing some mean heavy rock with a psychedelic strain, letting their strings snarl while the drums lay down some hard grooves. Twists into pedal effects add some extra panache, and while they're fun little bursts, the music is solid enough (and the band's confident enough) that they're not allowed to rob focus from the powerful riffs, only to kick things up when they need that boost into wilder riding.
The group keeps things instrumental for this batch of six songs, freeing them from having to stretch measures out to cover verses, and a lot of that freedom is used to focus on ramping up from a base riff to a more intense form of it (my favorite example of this being “Rio Tinto”). But the psychedelic element is more than just some flange on the guitar; while things are certainly heavy, they're also pretty damn spacy at times. Stuff like the double-down grind of “Megalodonte” shifting into slow-melt sustain shows how adept the group is at bridging those two sides, but they use that play sparingly enough to keep it fresh when it does arise. The expansive close-out of “El Cañón de la Eternidad” simmers it down to a fine finish, and all around, the band's first full LP is a satisfyingly diverse and ambitious effort, with plenty of raw energy evidenced in the playing. Here's hoping a follow-up emerges before too long, as I'm really curious to hear what other ideas this group has rattling about in their strings and skulls.
~ Gabriel


For Fans Of; Frozen Planet....1969, Gripe, Groggy, Humbaba, Persona




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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ripping Back Out...

Zaraza - Spasms of Rebirth (2017)


It's been a while since Zaraza's last album. Almost a decade and a half, actually. But with the two-piece's return, they show themselves to be firmly on top of the filthy sludge/doom (with a few industrial slams) style as it lived in the mid-'90s days of the band's birth, when Godflesh, Fudge Tunnel, and others were slogging away at the height of their powers. The blear of feedback from bass, the clang and punch of the drums and cymbals, and the snarling gutturality of the vocals come together in a nasty piece of work that's pretty damn compelling in its slow-moving roil of dissonance and dirtiness.
The slow-burn dredging of the instruments gets a lot of focus over the course of the album, and accordingly, the sustain on the strings is matched by a wide impact from the drums. It feels big even while building up to the outbursts, and the weighty crashes from both sides do a great job of hammering down listeners who've got it turned up to suitable volume. There's shades of early black metal to the seriousness of the lyrics' promises of violence (not to mention the buzz-saw grinding), most pronounced in “Blood.ov.Psychiatrists” and its nasty gnashing. Over the whole of the album, there's a grimness that tends to be lacking from most of the modern sludge emulators, and the songs practically drip with miserable abandon, so while there's not much range to the tempos, the heavy oppression of the music draws in enough variation in other aspects to squarely hit the mark. Mean, heavy, and almost unbearably slabby, Spasms of Rebirth firmly reestablishes Zaraza as a force to be reckoned with on the less amiable side of sludge.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Dead Existence, Fleshpress, Fudge Tunnel, Mudbath, Skin Chamber




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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Filling The Skies...

Crown Larks - Population (2017)


Having established themselves with a debut EP in 2013 and their first LP two years later, Crown Larks are back after another two years to further adapt their flexible musical style. Where Blood Dancer was a funky fusion of dream pop, space rock, and jazz (with a few more odds and ends stirred in), Population bends things further by ramping up the psychedelia into echoing outbursts and roiling riffs, letting things flow from there as the other influences settle in where they can.
This leads to bouts of prog meshing with world music, heavy psych dovetailing into orchestral shoegaze, and hot jazz brass bursting out of drone-underscored drum solos. But with the dream-like atmosphere that coats the music, they somehow stitch it all together in a way that not only works, but flows from one section to the next with unpredictable impulses that always seem just on the verge of losing balance. It's a strange ride, but one with a lot of appeal, whether you're digging the ambitious combos, bobbing along with the wild beats, or just zoning out to the stream of sound. Check it out if you're down with music that blurs the lines and expectations, but be prepared to invest more than a few sessions with the album before you can really pick out everything that's going on within it.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Daisy Chainsaw, Knifeworld, Terminal Cheesecake, Vanilla Trainwreck, Witchcraft (Sweden)




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Monday, July 10, 2017

You Aint In Kansas Now...


Youngblood Supercult ~ The Great American Death Rattle (2017)


I've been sat on this record for a good couple of weeks now. Staring at it in my iTunes, patiently waiting for the first of this year's batch of shrooms to mature so I could give it the full psychonaut experience I reckon it truly deserves... So, while it maybe the psilocybin talking now, I can say with little trepidation, it was well worth the wait!

For those of you living under a rock for the couple of years or so, Youngblood Supercult suddenly appeared on the radar in 2014 with their first stellar album, Season Of The Witch - as strong a debut as ever you'll hear. Followed up in 2016 with their release High Plain's, which was picked up by the great DHU Records and given a fantastic vinyl treatment, as is the label's style.
One year on and DHU have once again backed the Topeka (now) quartet, to offer up yet another blistering release, this time handing over art direction to Joshua over at The Company, who's done nothing short of a superb job. 

Right from the get go, YBSC reveal their intentions and instantly begin to bathe your ears with a heavily blues influenced dirty psych tone thats absolutely second to none - easily one of the best I've heard in recent memory. The title track really paves the way for the rest of the album. As if Kadavar had resurrected the spirit of Cream and come back from the dead just play an Aleister Crowley tribute concert. It's so dark and sombre, yet eerily beautiful and haunting in the way it's put together and mastered. No album this year, at least to my knowledge, as really encapsulated the retro feel like this does. Not only managing to pay homage to the classics like Sabbath and Sir Lord Baltimore but also Graveyard and Serpent Throne - all while successfully carving out their own unique niche.
With LoFi fuzzy riff's by the bucket load, topped off with a subtle acid rock foreboding, The Great American Death Rattle really shapes up to be one of the best psych albums of the year. Easily holding their own against the likes of Elder's 'Reflections Of A Floating World' and All Them Witches 'Sleeping Through The War'. That's some going too, as both of those releases have garnered some remarkable reviews.
If you're looking for a new album so smoke to, look no further!
~ Jay
For Fans Of; Black Sabbath, Moon Curse, Wicked Lady, Black Pyramid, Asteroid





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Saturday, July 08, 2017

Pain and Prescience...

Descend Into Despair - Synaptic Veil (2017)


With their second album, the seven-piece Romanian group of Descend Into Despair have delivered a monstrous mass of funereal doom, broken into five uneasy pieces for slow digestion. A variety of vocal approaches complement the broad range of instrumental tones and techniques, with slow-boiling rage, desperation, despair, and anguish brought to light over the course of the album. There's a bit of an early Opeth feel at times, though more grounded, not only in terms of solos and riff expansion, but in the balancing of instrumental work as well. The guitars don't run off with the show, as all of the members have vital parts in developing the atmosphere and musical punch. Most of the album can't really be pinned to any one band for comparison, but the fluidity and general vibe did have my mind flashing on the Hungarian group Dreamgrave, whose sophomore album Presentiment managed a similar sort of sprawling darkness with points of gentle exquisiteness.
There's such a sense of careful construction to the songs, with their shifting inner structures, that it occasionally feels operatic, or at least just majestic. The ringing out of individual notes allowed full focus, the undercurrents of swirling bass, assemblages of quick-turn dramatic breakdowns and hard impacts, and on and on... DID have turned out an excellent and impressive album here, and having it be just their second full-length points to a compelling future for the group. Fans of ambitious metal that doesn't allow itself to be boxed into the usual traditions, do yourself a favor and get a copy of this album, then set aside some time so you can listen to it with full attention. Damn good.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Dreamgrave, Funerary, Temple of Gnosis, Thergothon, A Thousand Sufferings




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Saturday, July 01, 2017

Casting Black Stones...

Altar of Betelgeuze - Among the Ruins (2017)


Altar of Betelgeuze have been picking up plenty of acclaim for this album already, but the constraints of time being what they are, we've not yet had a chance to feature them here on The Burning Beard. That long-running mistake is now corrected, and the seven tracks assembled by the Finnish quartet for Among the Ruins decisively show that all the hype is founded on worthiness. Mixing sludge, doom, heavy rock, death metal, and more, the group goes for a free-rolling trip through heaviness and taut grooves, generally feeling more warm than vicious, but keeping a sharp edge to their instrument tones and performance.
Though over half of the songs break the six-minute mark, the album rarely feels as though it's dragging, thanks to some tight use of melody shifting and clever bridge twisting. There's enough variety to the moodiness that while it initially feels like a summer head-banger, the anger and snarls could work just as well in a depressive winter context, so there's some all-year value for you. And while the descriptions of the musical style mix had me expecting (unfairly, I admit) some Acid Bath-like mania, AoB keep things on a comparatively tight leash, spooling out their transitions in a form that can be followed without too much trouble. The road to the end comes with its fair share of bumps and bruises, throwing itself between wild and measured expressions, but on the whole, it's a trip on which listeners are invited to ride along with the band. Throw it in your deck, play it at high volume, and take it as it comes.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Desert Suns, Lesbian, Norska, Wolf Blood, Wounded Giant




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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ophidian Interment...

Shrine of the Serpent / Black Urn - Shrine of the Serpent | Black Urn (2017)


When we last heard from Shrine of the Serpent, it was with their debut EP, back in 2015, so it's nice to see that the band is still going. They've resurfaced to do this split with Black Urn (a band new to me personally, though they've been around since about the same time SotS started), with just over half an hour of material between two tracks from each band. Shrine take the lead with “Desecrated Tomb”, a grim piece of exquisitely heavy doom spiked with sludgy feedback on the strings and a gurgling rasp on the vocals, drums pushing back against their near-burial in the low-end resonance. Snarls of melody claw out from the persistent pressure of the thrumming strings, generating a pull that's hard to resist and effectively drawing listeners along into “Catacombs of Flesh”, their second contribution to the split. The catacombs bring a bit more of a death metal influence to bear, though it still has that near-funereal doom feel of being submerged underground with the weight the band brings to bear, and SotS burn hard until the end comes with a decisive impact.
Black Urn's half of the split brings cleaner tone for the strings, with the finger-slides audible and emotive in their opener, “My Strength Lies Within Heavenless Plains”, which amplifies the funeral doom vibe before bringing the death back with a crash and violent escalation. That rage carries on through the rest of the track, never falling back into restraint until they've exhausted themselves. And when that time comes, it's picked up by their heavy sludge cover of Alice In Chains' “Junkhead”, the lyrics turned into unintelligible rasping howls. After hearing the laughable 'doom' cover of Pink Floyd's “Money” from Doom Side of the Moon recently, it's refreshing to hear a doom cover of a song that doesn't drop the ball, and while it would have been fun to have some of the original's harmonization for the choruses, Black Urn bring a strong sense of non-faked character to their rendition.
Between the two bands, it's a damn good time for those of you who like your doom dirty, kind of depressive, and heavy as fuck. General advice of not operating heavy machinery while using this applies, but if you do, be sure to play it loud enough to scare anyone in range of your vehicle's speakers.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Heavydeath, Hesperian Death Horse, Jupiterian, Mörk Gryning




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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Interpreting Spilled Blood...

Dirt Forge - Soothsayer (2017)


Hailing from Denmark, Dirt Forge are a fresh new band making their debut with this album, packing a solid forty-five minutes of sludgy doom metal (including a three-part title track) into the spaces of Soothsayer. There's some upbeat aspects to the music, mainly in the hooky melodies that are threaded throughout most of the songs, but on the whole, the music comes out swinging low and hard, with the vocalist's growls nicely complementing the snarling guitar and head-bash drumming.
By the time the band hits their second track, “Fortress Burning”, they're well in swing with the beats and grooves, with the thrashing and chord-clawing fitting together in a nasty mash which hints at some death metal fondness in the members' tastes. It's not high-flown metal; there's few trips through complicated time signature switch-ups or multi-part arpeggio solos. But the meathead vibe works well with the brutal flavor of the music, and there's more than enough unexpected inclusions to make clear that there's intelligence behind the slamming. As the trek continues, lyrics of death and despair filling it out, there's a firm sense of the affection this band has for the music and its history, and their homage pays off with some tasty riffs and hellacious howling. Check it out if you've been hungering for some mean metal with a low-end emphasis, and keep an ear out for more to come from these Denmark doomsters.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Black Anvil, Noothgrush, Oak, The Scimitar, Wizard Smoke




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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Crash Of Diesel...

Space Wizard - Vol. 1 (2017)


Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, Space Wizard are making their debut with this five-track EP of retro heavy rock, spiced with touches of fantasy metal, to make their impression of channeled '70s attitude upon the world. You can practically smell the beer-stained denim while listening to their songs of demons and wizards, so it's a bit of a shame the cover art doesn't offer some imagery you'd see on the side of a van (although the logo's spot-on) to go with the tunes; I guess they're saving that for the LP. There's not many surprises to be heard, but then again, that's not something for which they're aiming. It's just some straight-up riff digging, so as long as that's what you're craving, you should be able to have a fun time with this EP. And as it is their first release, what they've put together is pretty good by those standards, with a square chance that they'll spread their style further on upcoming efforts. Give it a listen when you've got a six-pack handy, and keep your ears open for more to come from this crew.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Demon Head, La Chinga, Orchid, Sheavy, Teacher




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Saturday, June 03, 2017

Stricken But Strong...

Illimitable Dolor - Illimitable Dolor (2017)


Making their debut with this album, Illimitable Dolor are an Australian band, spun out of The Slow Death to pay tribute to the death of their vocalist, Gregg Williamson. Furnishing a solid modern doom base with touches of death metal in the vocals and gleams of funeral doom in the pacing, emotion, and understated melodies (plus the organ-styled keyboards), ID have put together an album that's fully self-contained while also offering appreciable depth of content.
Though there's plenty of time given to the guttural vocals, the band builds atmosphere and follows riffs through numerous instrumental passages, allowing the somber mood to mature, seep in, and affect listeners' own emotions, assuming they're giving the music the attention it deserves. It's one that's tough to analyze, being suited more to simply being soaked in as an experience, but that's not to say that ID slump any on the song-writing front. As they and their instruments groan through the album's course, there's a broad slice of the metal spectrum explored along the way, made more impressive by how firmly each style is slotted into the music. It's an album well-suited to use for delving into your own depression, or for riding along with the band through theirs. That the songs can linger on in memory on the strength of their tunes is a plus, and hopefully the group will continue on to create something pursuing the melodies, without their grief holding onto them quite so tightly at that point.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Jupiterian, Sunwølf, Thergothon, WarHorse




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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Rising To The Sun...

Brume - Rooster (2017)


When we last heard from Brume, it was a couple of years ago, when they brought out their debut album, Donkey. The craggy bass-lines and deep valleys of beats have shifted with their new album, Rooster, moving to swifter tempos, a more intense general energy, and a more experimental approach to the song-writing. The vocals, which were a high point of the first album for me, have also received some tweaking, with some fun use of multi-tracking allowing Susie McMullin to sing against herself, swirl about, and slip verses in on the trailing sustains of their predecessors (check out “Harold” for some clear examples, or closing track “Tradewind” for some sharp soulfulness).
Maybe most noticeably, the drums move about much more, and while I didn't have any complaints about the action they offered in Donkey, I have to say that Rooster brings a wider scope to the territory Brume as a full band are able to cover, performing with high style all the while. At the same time, they've still got a handle on the psych-infused doom of their first album, with plenty of satisfaction for that vein streaming through tracks like “Calling the Serpent's Bluff” and “Tradewind”, and the savoring of that becomes all the richer for being something they've decided to hold close in the context of the band's expanded palette. Using the sophomore album to redefine their sound without losing what fans latched onto in the first album is an act that relatively few bands are able to pull off, but Brume have done a more-than-solid job of just that in Rooster. Fans of doom, go into this without building too many preconceptions; just do yourself a favor, take some time when you've got an hour to spare, and check it out in full.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid King, Bell Witch, Blood Farmers, Dorthia Cottrell, Venus Sleeps




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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Burning Transmission Fluid...

Stonerror - Stonerror (2017)


It's been about a year since Stonerror's debut EP, Rattlesnake Moan, but the Polish group has finally returned with eight new tracks of fuzzed bass foundations, groovy beat embellishments, snazzy guitar-work, and smoky vocals. Star-eyed psych and headbanging rock come together with tasty results, with some flavors like late-'90s alt rock providing an extra dose of ear-hooks for the melodies. The album moves fast, swaying and dipping through the down-beats and drifting warmth of the songs, and while it doesn't have the stylish dark tones of the group's EP, it's by no means a step down in quality.
Stonerror seem to have hashed out some of their weirder tendencies in the assembly of these tunes, finding something both more stylistically consistent and more upbeat, and calling to mind the sort of cozy musical blanket that you can just wrap yourself up in to while away an afternoon with a smile on your face. At the same time, they bring plenty of energy to bear in the songs, jamming in wild rock break-downs and tangled psych bridges, playing with tempos and time signatures, and generally having what sounds like a great time creating their music. One to blare through your speakers whenever you need some pick-me-up vibes, Stonerror also raise the question of whether their next release will be as much of a switch-up in their song-writing approaches as this one was to their last.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Crown Larks, Frank Sabbath, Strato's, Vanilla Trainwreck




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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sweeps, Sticks & Stuns

Wreck Plus - Dark Construktor (EP) (2016)


“YOU'VE JUST STEPPED INTO A TIME MACHINE, AND IF ALL IS RIGHT... WELCOME TO 1976.” Feels about right, coming out of Paris France these guys do a 70s thing well more on the Horisont side than the Graveyard side if you know what I mean. Production is top notch with buzzy fuzzed out guitars and heavy on the refurb vocals (with a scream!). This is pretty much what I wanted from Truckfighters but they haven’t scratched that itch in a while. First track and title track “Dark Construktor” sits somewhere in the Vol. 4 era of Sabbath era tunes but this isn’t close to worship. It’s not exactly grand funk either which makes the band interesting. They’re obviously gunning for the 70s throwback thing but there’s a lot of unique stuff going on in to pull you in right off the bat. The crazy breakdown / ballad thing that happens 4 minutes into the first track gives you hints of how expansive this little EP really is. Second track roles right off the bat adding a little low end to the mix and letting the rhythm section shine a bit more. A change in vocal dynamics even gives it a bit of an Alice in Chains sound (just a hint). Things take a darker turn and we’re treated to some pretty cool dark choir vocals under some nice high riffage (and later high gloss organ!) Intermission “Arturia: Stellar Blacksmith” is heavy on the synth setting us up for the second half of this EP. REALLY nice touch, I feel like I found some old laserdisc that’s about to pull me through my TV and into the 4th Dimension. Leading into Starcrossed Lovers which almost has a Deep Purple vibe to it heavy and straight forward with a high squeal. Closing track “Esoterhythm” closing things out with some thunder. Heavy on the cymbals and heavy on the high riffs Wreck Plus play us out with a bang. I’m hoping these guys follow up with a concept full album, the attention to detail is fantastic.
Dan

For Fans OfTruckfighters, Master of Reality / Vol. 4 era Sabbath, Kyuss, Horisont, Captain Beyond




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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Having A Ball...

REZN - Let It Burn (2017)


Making their debut with this album, the Chicago-based REZN (subtle, yeah?) touch down with ten tracks of spacy psychedelic stoner doom, trading in thick and heavy bass waves, tripped-out vocals, and effective use of drony tones to build some songs which carry a sense of immense weight and oncoming destruction. While the undulating distortion of the vocals can make them difficult to decipher, the way in which they're delivered makes it easy to pick up on their Sabbath-like crooning of doom and dread, and groove right along with it.
Thankfully, the band doesn't rely entirely on the common 'throw bass at the speakers until it solves everything' approach, as they show some nice tunefulness among the low-end swells, with tracks like “Orbit” and the back-to-back “Dread” and “Rezurrection” demonstrating the handle they have on melodiousness to go with the volume (with the last of those even bringing in some sitar-like strings for a taste of retro psychedelia). Interconnections between the songs step up the band's style even further, and the circling back through early song territory on their way through the rest of the album adds a neat sort of hypnotic time displacement to the experience.
All together, it's an impressive debut album, one which shows the band having a solid grip on their current style, but with room to grow on future efforts. The experimentation and riff playfulness provide strong points in REZN's favor, as does their tendency to work in some interesting atmospheric touches, and I'm urious to see how they'll change things up with their next release. Fans of heavy psych and space doom should check this crew out, the sooner, the better.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Brume, Ritual Abuse-era Cough, Dopelord, pre-Buckingham Electric Wizard, Reptensol




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Monday, May 08, 2017

Fear & Loathing at Desert Fest 2017 - Part 2


Day 2 



9:48am.


 I woke with the warm sun on my face, and a napkin. Saturday seemed to be beginning in much the same conscious state that Friday ended. Although I woke up spooning an empty Dominos pizza box and half empty bottle of Fanta. After praising a deity I don’t believe in for leaving me with orangey sustenance within arms reach, I checked my phone for some kind of pictographic evidence to try and piece together the latter of the previous night’s escapades. Through bleary eyes, well eye (I was still having to keep one closed to focus) I flicked through the photo’s…
Only one single, picture from the day before...


That was it. I’ll guess I’ll have to ask around. 

There wasn’t much of a hangover to speak of, which was disconcerting. Past experience has told me to expect a full scale biological assault on every one of my senses within the next two to four hours. Brace for a slow and impending death. 
Once able to focus with both eyes I got washed and dressed, rolled a joint of salvia and headed back out in the hope of catching Sonic Gypsy. 

I didn’t. 

The saliva hit me like a tennis racket to the face. Seemingly unlocking all the residual narcotics flowing throughout my blood stream and sending every last scrap directly to the centre of my brain. I fetched myself a pint of Guinness in the hope it would straighten me out enough to successfully converse with strangers. It seemed to do the trick. One of the chaps from Morass Of Molasses found me and struck up conversation. For the life of me I can’t recall what we talked about, but we seemed to hit it off and ended up chatting for some time. 
Most of the day flew by in a bit of a haze. There was a Chinese food buffet washed down with red wine (it seemed like a wise idea at the time) followed by gin and tonic by the canal. It all sounds very civilised, but in reality we must have looked like goth hobo’s to the passing general public. Thankfully this is Camden, and the whole goth hobo look is writhe on every corner, so I doubt anyone other than Asian tourists batted an eyelid after stumbling upon us. 



Following a brisk romp back, the first band I managed to catch was Iron Witch, raising hell upstairs in the Black Heart. We’d rocked up a little on the late side and the queue to see them was trailing down the stairs and along the side of the bar. We finally managed to fight our way in with just two songs left to spare. The Liverpudlians and certainly drawn a hell of crowd. Over the sprawling sweaty masses of heads and shoulders I could just make out a number of crusty dreadlocks whipping around and the occasional guitar headstock. The roar was deafening, even through my earplugs that I’d thankfully not managed to loose the night before. It was safe to say the guys were killing it.

As the set wound down and the rising in everyones ears began we were unceremoniously washed back down the stairs by the crowd evidently desperate for a gasp of fresh air. Taking a quick glance at the days stage times we high tailed it back over to The Underworld to catch most of Celeste’s set. I’ve been told to check them out on multiple occasions but I have to admit they’re not a band I’m all that familiar with. I would advise though, not to catch them while tripping your balls off. Their dark post metal ambience coupled with their unique stage show consisting of dry ice and red head torches is enough to strike fear into even the most seasoned psychonaut. Even stood way towards the back I was hit full on with a mix of both wonderment and fear by the sonic and visual experience. Not usually my go-to genre I was still left highly impressed by the French black metal quartet. It’s also worth mentioning, they easily won the prize for best merch of the weekend in my book too. 

Following their set, which I wish I’d got to catch more of we all headed off to find food. Casually forgetting Inter Arma were up next and I was looking forward to checking them out. By the time we returned the stage was empty and the masses were heading out. Piss poor timing. Not to be deterred and now at a bit of a loose end we headed back stage and before I knew it I found myself drinking with the guys. Trey (I believe - my face-to-name recollection is awful even when I’m sober) asked if I had ‘anything’ on me. I pushed all the empty cans and bottles on the table to one side and began emptying my pockets. Oli began laughing at the stunned faces looking down and the ever increasing pile of narcotics in the centre of the table. 

“Whats this” someone asked reaching down to pick up a bag.

“Mimosa” I replied. “You can make a drink out of it or just chew it… Right, thats the lot”.
“Jesus fucking christ”! 

“He’s like a wizard”
Oli responded, patting me on the back and handing me another can.

“Whats this”!?
 
“That’s ether. Careful with that shit, don’t smoke around it”. At which point I snatched it from their hands. “We’ll probably get into this rotten shit later on”. 

After introductions, lines were racked, drinks exchanged and the inevitable questions began flowing. All until I scrambled around in my pockets and pulled out another bag, handed two of the guys a bag and told them to eat.

The room when quiet. 

“What are they”? 

“Dried shrooms dude, just in capsule form”.

“Great, I love shrooms”!


They both took a couple of the small musty looking capsules and threw them back. 

“You’ll need a couple more”.

I pushed two more into their hands. Glancing concerned looks at each other they nervously swallowed them too. Looking down at the mere two I had left, I announced that two would be no bloody use to me so handed them over.

“Oh, I think I’ve had enough”.

“You can fuck that sky high mate. Stop being a pussy. Two won’t touch me, take them.” 


Now, with a slight look of terror in their eyes they reluctantly washed them down with the provided lager. 
The overwhelming sense of the room was nervousness, and I could feel eyes darting back and forth between me and my two “science experiments”.

“If I'm out there naked on the intersection later, please will you bring me back in”.

“Sure thing man”.


At which point I patted them on the shoulders, said “I’ll see you on the other side” and strolled just in time to catch Scissorfight clearing all their equipment from the stage. I felt like overstayed my welcome and without me realising Oli had wondered off. The guys were lovely, but I became acutely aware that I was stood there in silence for prolonged periods of time and it was no doubt becoming awkward as fuck. To them some random guy and his enormous friend and bust into their dressing room and instantly plied them with exotic weird and wonderful narcotics before even introducing themselves. Oh, and they were knocking back our beers at an alarming rate too. No, it was most certainly time for me to retreat, so I headed to the bar to grab some more whiskey before trying to locate someone I knew. As I downed my drink it dawned on me that I’d left something on the table backstage. I wondered back and the guys were all stood in a circle around said table peering down at it. I excused myself and reached between them to pick up the small brown bottle and pipette they were staring at. I held it up to the light and saw it was still at the same level I’d left it at. 

“I knew none of you fuckers would be dumb enough to touch this shit”. I said and placed it back into my jacket pocket. 
They all laughed as I turned to the fridge, grabbed a beer said “I’m taking this. See y’all later” before walking out. I felt I’d left on a slightly better note this time and happily strolled to once again find someone I knew. 


This proved to be pretty unsuccessful and after aimlessly walking in circles I opted to return back to the dressing room… Everyones faces were different. Wait, what had I taken? Had it just kicked in?… Evidently looking completely baffled, Matt explained that Inter Arma had gone and he subsequently introduced me to Bongzilla. Mike shook my hand and asks “are you the chemist guy”? I squint and turn to Oli who had happened to spot me and followed me in. 

“Oh yeah, people are calling you The Chemist now”. 
 
Sweet! 

“I guess I am then”. 

“Have you got any coke”? 

“You don’t beat around the bush do you”
I smile and Mike pats me on the back. 
We’re all stood around chatting for a while when a voice from behind shouts “on in five minutes”! At which point a monster of a joint is thrust towards my chest. 

“Oh, go on then” I mutter and I take a big drag.
For some reason waiting for me to fully inhale first, I hear Oli whisper in my ear “Thats all weed” …I look down at the faint green phallic looking thing between my fingers and cough.
Heartily. 

Oh, I’m going to regret this I think, before foolishly taking another hit and handing it back. 
Now, I’ve smoked on and off for a number of years, but when I do I tend to be no good for anything. I’ll happily just sit in a comfy chair and laugh myself silly. With that in mind, I’m in complete awe of Bongzilla. Anyone who’d have walked into that room five minutes prior to them hitting the stage would have been met by the most overwhelming contact high alone. Seriously, it was like someone had a dry ice machine in there. How they’re able to maintain such a tight set after smoking that much is nothing short of a miracle. But that they did. I watched in awe as they blistered through their first of two sets planned for the London audience. This set, consisting solely of their early work, got straight off to a thunderous start. Bathed in their token green light they instantly began to melt the faces of the completely packed out Underworld crowd. I wish I could offer a more detailed description of the show, but having smoked with them prior, and now standing just three feet from the the band I’ve been dying to catch for around 15 years now, it was all I could do to stand there utterly transfixed. It all went by in a gut rumbling, green, endorphin releasing blur. I evidently wasn’t the only one that enjoyed the spectacle, as during their final song I looked down to see one girl in the front row below me, passed out, face down on the edge of the stage. This picture really typifies the whole show… 





 In some what of a euphoric state, I don’t recall much of the following hour or so or actually leaving The Underworld. My next memory is talking to an old rocker outside of The Black Heart, who kindly gave me a cigarette as it had just dawned on me I’d left nearly a whole pack of Lucky Strikes and the remainder of my weed elsewhere. I recall discussing the role of Sabbath in influencing the likes of Sleep, The Obsessed and Yob. The pros and cons of prog rock and Triumph bikes. I told him how my old man had grew up in Aston and had seen Sabbath’s very first gig after changing their name from Earth. He hugged me, offered me another cigarette and I politely excused myself. What ever it was I’d taken earlier was beginning to wear off and I needed to maintain. I fought my way to the bar where someone handed me a rum and coke. Oh, sweet sweet sustenance. Around this time Oli returned grinning from ear to ear in his trade mark way. I explained that what ever the fuck I’d taken had run its course and I was now beginning to lag. 

“Thats the ether”.
 
“What?!”
I shouted back. 

“The ether, don’t you remember? We huffed it before Bongzilla”!

Well, shit. That explains my loss of basic motor skills and inability to maintain a steady trajectory. I knew we’d get into that rotten shit sooner rather than later. 

“Here, take this”. 

As a small baggy was pushed into my hands. What a life saver. 

On the way to ‘refuel’ Mike from Bongzilla ambushed me once again. Plying me with a beer and asking me if I could find him any “stuff”.
“Ah, some dusty showbiz? Follow me my good man”! 

It’s a weird scenario being locked in a toilet cubicle with one of your musical idols, and don’t let anyone tell you any different. It’s not the first time I’ve found myself in this predicament either. Similar instances have occurred with guys from Eyehategod, Raging Speedhorn and most of Church of Misery to name just a few. The surreal-ness of this position never fails to astound. You take the hit, stand up, then proceed to try and make small talk, before one of you comes down just enough to realise that you’re both stood in a dank, shit smelling, cramped box, chatting bollocks, mere inches from each others faces. At which point the more compos of the two of you reaches for the lock and excuses themselves. 
So, as Mike opened the door and left, Oli returned asking for his stash back. 

“FUCK! Mike’s got it!” 

Luckily Oli was able to explain that this was a misunderstanding and retrieve his hard earned devil’s dandruff. It’s a good job that big ol’ bastard loves me, because although out of it, that was a dick move on my part. 
Suitable scorned, and with recompense made in the form of a beer, we continued the night sat at the bar occasionally getting up to request songs from Julia, who was doing and absolutely stellar job of DJ’ing. 
My final recollection of the night was singing along to Queen then yodelling to Hocus Pocus by Focus with a compete stranger, before deciding enough was enough and staggering my way back in the general direction of my bed.

 End of day 2.

 ~