Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nights In Green Paisley...

The Sonic Dawn - Into the Long Night (2017)

With their second album, the Danish outfit of The Sonic Dawn wades into the older and more popularly-tailored depths of psychedelic rock, as it was in the mid-'60s, with gentle swirls of melody a more prominent part of song-writing than heavy vibes of feedback. As such, there's more than a slight poppy flavor to Into the Long Night, but it's of a form blended with others, so the peppy rhythms and upbeat vocals come out as a tasty groove, not an obnoxious ear-worm.
That lightness of being isn't the only thing TSD have pulled from the '60s, though, as the warmth of production is so on-point it's almost startling. When the vocals get distorted, for example, it sounds passable as something mixed in mono and doubled up into stereo output, with a unity of sonic presence that suggests the band was paying just as much attention to the presentation as to their content. And while a nice wrapping ain't nuthin' without goodies inside, they bring strong substance on that front as well, with the guitar lines and outbursts of drumming charging out full of life, optimism only slightly dimmed by the realities of the age in which we live.
And when the band makes the blues component of their music more overt, as in “Six Seven” (quite possibly my personal favorite), the heaviness and sense of earthy vibrancy really kicks things up, making their sparing use of it all the more effective in its contrast and impact. As the album continues, that side of things becomes more evident in their song-writing and lyrics, with the initial starriness turning a bit more jaded and weighty, the guitar riffs spikier, the electric organ more pronounced. It's an album that holds a full journey within itself, and while the first few songs may put off those looking for something with more punch, those who give the full album a listen should find plenty there (and plenty of variety) to reward their patience. Firm recommendation on this one, those who are fans of psych rock should give this a try and see how genuine feeling for the music will beat affectation any day.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Blue Cheer, Cream, John Mayall, Southwest F.O.B., Ultimate Spinach


Hot Box The Garage

Bandersnatch 原子 (2017)

Eclectic stoner garage jams coming out of Moscow. This is my first run in with Bandersnatch and these three dudes + one girl are pretty wild! Lots of different ideas going on here but it never gets old or stale. Big production (not over produced) and somewhat drastic master changes between songs are pulled off effortlessly. First track “Trigger” fires out of the gate. Everything is separated in an interesting way and allowed to breath, but this track just rips like crazy. Second track “Letters” starts out before diving into it. Throughout the entire record songs effortlessly flow from one song into the next. “Alone II” clocking in at 5:49 is the longest (and spaciest) jam on the record but really shows off the atmospheric sludge skills of Bandersnatch. Outside of that keeping the 2 - 3 minute track times keep everything feeling fresh and never stale. Sounds like something that Kyuss could have kicked out if they would have stuck together, or early Queens Of The Stone Age with more edge. Amplifier Worship / Pink era Boris fans are going to eat this up.

For Fans OfTruckfighters, Sonic Chicken 4, Boris, Kyuss, early Queens Of The Stone Age


Monday, April 17, 2017

Supreme Scottish Space Rockers...

The Cosmic Dead ~ Psych Is Dead (2017)

The Cosmic Dead are one of those few bands that, to my knowledge at least, have never really failed to produce an album or EP thats anything other than great. Maybe thats down to the forgiving nuances of the instrumental post rock genre, or maybe it's just sheer talent. Sure, when you're not saddled with the burden of thinking up vocals, it possibly frees up a bit more focus... but having caught these guys live once before I'd like to think that the Scottish quartet swing more towards the latter.
So anyway, here they bring us Psych Is Dead, their first release of 2017. I say first release, as these chaps seem to be the hardest working bastards out their. If they're not in the studio, they seem to be on tour throughout the deepest darkest depths of Europe. So I doubt this will be all we hear from them over the next eight months... I sure do feel for their loved ones.
But onto the album, and it's deceptively misleading title. Misleading, because if the 30 minute runtime is anything to go by, psych is well and truly alive and kicking... Albeit on a seemingly menacingly sounding trajectory towards some kind of interstellar apocalypse. Like being slowly sucked towards the event horizon of a black hole with a synth and sitar soundtracking your inevitable doom.
From start to finish Psych Is Dead is a relentlessly eerie and haunting sci fi ride. Smattered with moments of melancholy and discordance thrown in to occasionally knock you off guard. What never seems to waiver is the underlying feeling of foreboding. Seriously, if HAL had gone to the trouble of creating a score to play over Dave's demise throughout 2001 A Space Odyssey, then this is exactly what that psychotic little bastard would have come up with.
The album climaxes with #FW, it's third and final track, which after four minutes of lulling you into a false sense of serenic security, suddenly smashes it's way in with all the force of Vladimir Komarov's Soyuz capsule hitting Russian soil (damn I'm proud of all these Space related analogies I'm managing to crowbar in here). The violent and aggressive turn works well to draw the album to an end. The build up of drums coupled with the discordant synth adds the final dose of peril to the whole space rock journey, culminating with an abrupt finish. The finale of which left me in much the same state as Kubrick did at the end of the aforementioned 2001 A Space Odyssey - A resounding feeling of dazed awe, mild confusion and a slight sense of "what the fuck just happened"!?
I bloody loved it.
~ Jay

For Fans Of; Russian Circles, Au Revoir, Ghost Box Orchestra, Caspian, Red Sparowes, 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Knocking Down Pews...

Cursus - Cursus (2017)

This is Cursus' first full-length album, and with it, the duo of guitarist/vocalist CJ Duron and drummer Sarah Roorkfirst introduce themselves to the world at large with a fair amount of style. Opening track “Her Wings Covered the Sky” moves at a slow and deliberate pace, the down-tuned guitar chugging along with the clack of the drums a higher counter-point, and occasional growled vocals punching in spots of change among the steady instrumental growls, establishing a foundational style which sticks around through the rest of the album.
Some sharper riffs are brought in to tweak the formula with “Waters of Wrath”, with the vocal presence expanding alongside those changes, and the heaviness gets more direct in its shaping. Things proceed in similar fashion from there, and while there's some solid riffs built into the proceedings, it feels like the music is missing some vital spark to bring it to the next level. Maybe these songs do better in a live context, with the band able to shape things more to the reactions of the audience, but in the studio-captured form, it feels too ponderous, and oddly sterile. That might be due to the low variety range in dynamics that the band is able to pull together with their chosen set-up, as the timbres and tones tend to stick pretty much in place from song to song, with a few exceptions (their cover of Pink Floyd's “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, for example). And the gut-belted growls could stand to be used in more moderation, probably, as the contrast provided by comparatively clean vocals in “Trail of Tears” really makes the latter shine.
Those complaints aside, Cursus do a good job of maintaining consistency in their chosen mood, and the mixing pushes each part of their ensemble out with near-equal spotlighting. Nothing feels too quiet or awkward in the mix, some of the grooves land quite solidly, and when they take things in the slower, more thoughtful directions (mainly in the last two songs), it all gels with real appeal. But debut albums are where bands are supposed to cut their teeth, get a feel for what works in long-form song arrangements, and so on, so with what they show here, there's little reason to believe that Cursus won't deliver with their follow-up, whenever it may come.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Ahna, Aldebaran, Dažd, Grime, Oak


Friday, April 14, 2017

Heavy Noise From Below...

Mutautu - Basement Tapes EP (2017)

Does Finland have a desert?  Some very solid slices of legit OG desert rock here.  I usually get pretty bored with some of the new 'desert rock' stuff coming out, but this is right up my alley.  The production is pretty cool, you can tell they spent some time on the guitars, but vocals and drums sit pretty far back, and might just be a bunch of condenser mics in a room?  Either way, it works, don’t change! 
First track “Outskirts” is riff-heavy, and reminds me a bit of the later Kyuss stuff in terms of maturity.  Second track “TAHMA” adds a bit more sludge to the mix and overlays a handful of keys on top, with some really great back-and-forth guitar work.  Last track “Spaceroller” almost has an Earthless quality to it, but much more concise.  Everything rocks, but each in a different way, pretty cool.  A pretty solid 3-track EP here, some great driving music, and I'm excited to see what they come up for the LP.  

For Fans OfSabbath, Graveyard, Horisont, Kyuss, Rated-R era QOTSA


Saturday, April 08, 2017

Comets In The Atmosphere...

Cloud Catcher - Trails of Kozmic Dust (2017)

Picking up where they left off with 2015's Enlightened Beyond Existence, the Denver-based trio of Cloud Catcher have returned with eight tracks of fuzzy grooving, hard rocking, and gnarly twist-ups. Rumbling in the low end and burning through crescendos, the band shows a strong knack for infusing their jammy bashes with a sense of direction and purpose more in line with the types of bands who do full concept albums than the smoky bar yellers to which their sound seems to owe so much influence. It's heavy rock with some real life to it, not content to just ride along and retrace the pathways blazed in the '70s, but wanting to cover some new territory of their own, and doing a damn fine job of it.
That's not to say that they don't give some fairly big channels to those older pioneers; “Visions”, for example, is basically a faster rendition of “War Pigs”, and the band bears more resemblance to the heavy psych bands of the late '60s/early '70s than they do to most of their 21st-century contemporaries. As the desert-tinged turbulence bumps along, it does a great job of wrapping listeners up in a warm fuzzy tone-blanket, feeling so reassuring in its tangles of rhythms and tasty feedback that it's hard to imagine it coming to an end. When it does, though, the finish comes with style to spare, and it brings the whole journey to an end that just makes you want t start it over again. The work by the band in putting this album together is just great, and it's one of those where imagining the songs played live, with full room to improvise and spin off into wild solos, makes me practically shiver. Fans of heavy rock, heavy psych, and fuzz rock should all do themselves a favor and check this one out ASAP.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Frozen Planet....1969, Mondo Drag, Pollution, Slow Season, Weedpecker


Friday, April 07, 2017

Centrifugal Pressure...

Radien - Maa EP (2017)

I must be cashing in karma, because I’ve been having good luck with bands out of Helsinki lately.  Radien cook up a nice EP of atmospheric black sludge here, reminding me a bit of the older Thou stuff, but it’s not quite the same, and the vocal tracks on this are amazing. 
A-side “Varjot” opens up a ton of atmosphere before bursting into this brutal river of black metal.  I guess the closest thing you could compare this to are the slower parts of FALSE, with a much darker undercurrent.  The production on the A-side sounds like the vocals are pushed through some kind of overdrive pedal, and it’s fucking awesome.  While the tone chasing is heavy here, there is substance to go with it.  The entire side just crushes and the amount of low end is perfect.  Towards the end of the side, when we have some kind of high end tremolo or keys on top of the entire thing, it's just icing on the cake. 
The B-side gets off and running right away with incredible low end, and more vocal heaviness right off the bat, but with less filter, letting us see that the power isn’t coming from the production, but from the vocalist, Jyri.  An onslaught on double-tracked vocals leads into a huge breakdown, leading us out of this heavy as fuck EP.  

For Fans OfFALSE, Sunn 0))), Throne of Ahaz, Thou, YOB


Saturday, April 01, 2017

Internal Expansion...

Beyond From Within - Beyond From Within (2015)

Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the trio of Beyond From Within are making their debut with this album (though the band itself seems to have been cooking for a few years), which works from a base of easy-going psychedelic rock while spinning in touches of garage rock and '60s pop.  They do a convincing job of emulating that era, with twists of guitar tone, smooth-flowing wave undulations, and strong drumming (usually laid-back, but rising to fiery heights at times) joining the mellow vocals for an experience that channels its influences to impressive effect.
Virtually all of the songs are compact in their execution, and though they don't really give the impression of following set formulas, each one pulls off its vibe with a conciseness that makes for a weird fit with the psychedelic flow.  Only three of the dozen songs on the CD break the four-minute mark, and personally, I would have liked for them to cut loose into some more sprawling cuts once or twice.  At the same time, that doesn't feel like something that would necessarily fit with their song-writing process at this point, and it's surprisingly easy to sink into the whorls and valleys of the songs, even as short as they are.
The way the band works together in the songs adds a lot of charm to the music, with the relatively simple workings of a usual three-piece put to more obscure purposes here, in the sense that the swirling tunes and effects make it feel as though there's more players present, with what you heard a moment ago not necessarily being what really happened.  In effect, it's a genuinely psychedelic array of music, and the group deserves big props for being able to tap into and deliver such an authentic slice of early psych rock, something made all the more impressive by this being their debut.  For fans of classic psych, it's a treat that they should be sure not to miss.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Honeysuckle Mantra, The Kaleidoscope, The Moody Blues, Southwest F.O.B., Tommy James & The Shondells


Friday, March 31, 2017

Old School Sludge...

Mephistofeles - WHORE (2017)

Coming out of Parana, Argentina. Mephistofeles is a band you will be able to decide if you love or hate in the first 10 seconds, as they dial in a dirty fuzz sludge that is so perfect you’ll know right away if it’s for you or not.  First track “Black Sunday” rips into it with a big fat crusty riff, with just the right amount of wah thrown in.  The production on this record is so good you find yourself turning it up one little tick at at time until you realize the entire room has been filled, as the track ends with a great little amp squeal.  Next up is the title track, “Whore”, picking up the speed just a bit but not giving up any of that beautiful dialed tone.  Ramping up with the main riff, Mephistofeles really knows how to let a riff grow into the song, letting you take in the tone, production, everything at will, but never going on so long that you get bored and catch on to what’s coming next.  That being said, Mephistofeles song lengths are a bit shorter than the average sludge combo.  This seems to work to their advantage, as I never felt like anything was lost with the 5-minute track lengths.  Think along the lines of Electric Wizard’s “We Hate You.”  It’s hard to pick a stand out track on this record as everything flows along together so nicely, but it’s not necessarily one piece.  At times it drops into Sabbath / Electric Wizard worship territory but it feels distinct enough to last on its own.  More evolution than direct worship.  One of my favorite records of the year so far. 

For Fans OfSabbath, Sleep, Church of Misery, Electric Wizard, Elder


Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Enduring Presence...

Humbaba - A Timeless Mass (2017)

When we last heard from Humbaba, it was with their two-track debut EP back in 2014.  Given how much I enjoyed it, I was thrilled to find out that not only was the band still kicking, but that they had put together this first full-length album (with a redesigned band logo as a bonus).
Singing with clear energy and impact, vocalist Emre Can Serteli fits his musical element smoothly into the tapestry of beats, riffs, and sustained tonal flourishes drawn forth by the other three members, making for some satisfyingly deep tunes to envelop your senses.  There's also a nice wide range of styles put to use, from the general psych doom vibes of the early tracks to the '70s doom and Danzig-ish dark blues crooning in the title track (and elsewhere), or the smoky rumble and haze of “Shame On You Lazy Raymond”.
Each track gets time enough for the band to flesh out its ideas, slip in some tasty groove passages, and do some extra exploration, and it's fun to hear the group testing out their ideas while staying grounded in firm foundations.  The cathedral-like grandeur of final track “Lost and Fine With It” makes for a more-than-solid closer to the album, and on the whole, it does an excellent job of expanding Humbaba's sound while still pleasing those they hooked with that first EP.  Definitely worth checking out for any fans of warm (but not exactly mellow) heavy music; let's hope that it'll be less than three years before Humbaba unleash their next release.

For Fans Of; Druglord, The Munsens, Olde Growth, Raedon Kong, Rhino (Italy)


Friday, March 24, 2017

Power Riffage From Rome...

Chronic Hangover - Nero Inferno Italiano (2016)

Hailing from central Italy and cutting their teeth in most of Rome’s stoner / doom venues, Chronic Hangover bring dusty desert riffs with relative speed.  This is music for stoner rock fans who want their tracks with some get up and go, and sitting somewhere between Mercyful Fate and Monster Magnet, Chronic Hangover have their own sound while building off their influences with clear effort.  Stand out track “Regretudo” has a 42-second build-up (by no means slow) before the track topples over and we hit a nice groove track reminiscent of Truckfighters in their prime.  Even though this is a more introspective track, as opposed to some of the other rippers featured on here, we’re able to see how independent each individual musician is in Chronic Hangover and what they’re bringing to the table.  On-point vocals playing off a fantastic thumping rhythm section with fantastic overdrive-backed guitar solos that come together like butter without overpowering each other.  This is for fans of all those bands in the early-to-mid-'80s that felt they were born too late, yet still wanted to throw their hat in the ring for that specific blend of metal that got them to buy an instrument and start a band in the first place.

For Fans OfMercyful Fate, Ghost, Monster Magnet, Truckfighters


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Priapic Navigation...

Kalamata - Disruption (2017)

It's been longer than I'd hoped since we last heard from the German crew of Kalamata, but their time away has borne excellent fruit in the form of this new album, Disruption. Happily, Kalamata still have the same understated sense of humor glazing the music as with the last album, as the track titles make clear; in progression, those are “MY”, “ERECTION”, “SHOWS”, “ME”, “THE”, and “DIRECTION”. Keeping their old 'desert rock drowning in doom' dynamic alive and well, Kalamata also show a growth (and though I'm hesitant to use such a loaded word, you could also call it 'maturation') in the arrangement and escalation of their songs. Brooding periods of echoing strings, building drum-beats, and tone meditation lead to roaring onslaughts of nasty, gnashing grooves, while elsewhere, slow cruising through uncurling melodies calls to mind the best of the '70s heavy psych bands.
It's not an album for playing in your car (unless you're, say, spending multiple hours on a highway with no change-offs), but something to let yourself sink into and absorb with as few distractions as possible. The ramping up to the finish in “DIRECTION” is done so damn well that I'm already wishing I could hear the album for the first time again, but at the same time, I have the feeling that I'll be noticing new details with each listen for quite a while to come. Heavy music fans of any stripe or inclination, give this a try; unless you just have to have vocals in the mix, I'd say this is an album that truly has something for all of you (though, admittedly, sludge is kind of low in the ratio). Excellent work, Kalamata. And hey, could you guys restock your patches soon, please?
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Broughton's Rules, Goya, Merlin, Narcosatanicos


Friday, March 17, 2017

High Desert Psych...

Stratus Nimbus - Stratus Nimbus (2016)

Some great throwback old school '90s vibes here.  Sounds like something that could easily have come out from Twentynine Palms or Seattle / Yakima back in the day and was overlooked until now, with an album cover that appears to be a nod to the Pacific Northwest by featuring the Fremont Troll.  They go heavy on the Misty Grey influence, but not quite to the level of worship.  I couldn’t find a lot of background on these guys, but it appears to be the work of one guy by the name of Tom Davies, using a round table of musicians to knock this stuff out.  This thing has its own sound coupled with a pretty clear vision of where it’s trying to go.  Clocking in around thirty minutes, each track is completely varied from the last, but they're all knocking that '90s sound right out of the park.  Stand-out track “A walk in the dark” starts with a slow waltz of fuzz with heavy SD-1-powered riffage on top of the fantastic rhythm track, flirting with a King Tuff sound if you replaced the bubble gum with a big fat blunt.  Looking at one of the best 'riding around town' records of the year right here.  Check out “galaxy girl” as it doubles down on more of a psych rock sound that we don’t get a lot of anymore.  Fans of the first few years of Man’s Ruin releases are going to eat this up.

For Fans OfMisty Grey, Psychic Dose, Saint Vitus, Static Tension, early Helmet


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Water and Crows...

Tethra - Like Crows for the Earth (2017)

Italian foursome Tethra, following heavy touring and the release of their debut record back in 2013, are back with another foray into the dark.  Where Drown into the Sea of Life focused on water and the passage from life to death as thematic elements, Tethra take things to a more personal level on their new full-length Like Crows for the Earth, exploring loss and solitude through another symbol: the crow, a species that devastates any ecosystem it's introduced to, as a stand-in for humanity.

The most distinctive element of Tethra's sound, by far, is vocalist Clode.  No stranger to growls and death cries, this guy's real talent is his clean singing.  His bassy, syrupy voice sets the band's sound apart and should please any fan of Peter Steele.  Understated interludes haunt this album from the background--many of the songs feature lead-in tracks all their own and simply pick up where those leave off.  Most often leveraging acoustic guitars, but sometimes bringing in outside sounds (the sitars on "Deserted" are a high point), these quiet rest-stops feel melancholic and fragile set amidst the mid-tempo riffs, downtuned chugs, and guitar solos that otherwise dominate the soundscape.  When the bigger sounds crash in, all doom and gloom, they carry with them that establishing mood and give the greater work a moody, depressive slant.  "Subterranean", the stand-out of the album for me, has Clode crooning mournfully as twin guitars weave a matching melody.  It feels good to go big, but it never hurts to set the stage.

Fusing elements of doom and gothic metal with just a hint of progressive, Tethra is heady, dark stuff.  Intense and often soaked with emotion thanks primarily to lead singer Clode Tethra, Like Crows for the Earth will worm its way into your thoughts and stick there.

For Fans Of; Saturnus, Type O Negative, Soliloquium, Summoner's Circle

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Shadows Against a Wall...

Buensucesco ANALOGY: The Sun | Divided Line (2017)

Concept albums are tricky to review.  If I hadn't read Buensucesco's promotional material before listening to their new EP ANALOGY: The Sun | Divided Line, would I have known this compact, quixotic journey of an album is inspired by "Myth of the Cave," an Israeli musical suite itself inspired by Plato's Allegory of the Cave?  Probably not.  Even so, their aspirations to conceptually lofty heights shine through in inventive songwriting, surprising instrumentation, and clever twists.  And with song titles like "On the one hand, the poor put down, surrendered bought all the things were taken, much cohesion, a lot of sweetness"... well, I think we can all agree that Buensucesco is reaching for something well beyond ground-level rock.

The first couple of tracks get right into it with wailing guitars and a big, moody sound.  Evocative and occasionally mysterious, these feel like post-rock songs with something waiting just beneath the surface, like a trap waiting to be sprung.  "The tulip curse came with the arrival of fall" (I warned you about the song titles) is a relaxed, hopeful piece that brings in twinkling piano keys under soaring guitars.  By this point I had taken it for granted that I was listening to instrumental post-rock, when "Wunderkammer" surprised me with death growls and alternating Isis-like clean vocals.  The songs leading up to this point feel like an introduction by comparison, though that's by pure virtue of shock: "Wunderkammer" brings a force barely intimated by its predecessors.  Track 5 snaps the other way as it soothes with soft chords and gentle piano backing, working its way up to string-bending heaviness and pounding beats.  The last song, mercifully titled "Fate forgive us," brings in a saxophone, of all things, eschewing a jazz quality in favor of something sleepy, dream-like, and very much in keeping with the tradition of shoegaze.

It's obvious that the Buensucesco are brimming over with ideas and anxious to put them on display.  From pianos, to saxophones, to synths, to song titles that would stretch the word count of any review, these guys have crammed a lot of ideas into a package that's barely a half hour long.  ANALOGY: The Sun | Divided Line features bold yet compartmentalized experimentation, and I'm looking forward to Buensucesco exploring the ideas they've laid out here and expanding them into something larger.

For Fans Of; Isis, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, Ashes and Iron

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Buensucesco - Fate forgive us (320 kbps)


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sticky Smoking Pages...

Pale Grey Lore - Pale Grey Lore (2016)

Though this album was originally released last summer, it's picked up some new attention with Kozmic Artifactz' plan to put out a vinyl release of it via their Oak Island Records imprint.  Given Kozmic Artifactz' reliable track record (no puns intended, I swear), it seemed worth our time to give a listen to these lads from Ohio. For a debut, the self-titled album has a nice, strong, confident stride to its style, from the opening track's brandished chords to the final moments of closer “Grave Future” and the trippy invitations it contains.
The music does a fun job of blending modern stoner doom with joyful '70s heavy rock tonality, with the beats and rhythms further swirling the lines between those two big influences.  Stuff like the southern-fried grooves of “Black Sun Rise” had me in mind of Mountain, for example, while the touch of Deep Purple, Blue Cheer, and Iron Butterfly can be felt in various other places in the album.  And like so many of those albums from yesteryear, the guitarist manages to give his instrument a sense of its own life, at times not so much playing as singing through its strings.
And the rhythms are similarly new but familiar, often managing to get my head swaying along within a few moments of kicking into the song.  While not exactly uplifting, there is a warmth and friendliness to the music that does a lot to help it quickly connect to the right spots for fans of heavy rock, and the details of the music are thick enough that on repeat listenings, you can either let yourself sink into the grooves or pick away at all the little things happening, depending on your mood at the time.  In any event, it's a damn good start for this group, and one which has me hoping to hear more from them in the near future.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid King, Ancient Warlocks, Desert Suns, JPT Scare Band, Wizard Smoke


Friday, March 10, 2017

The Pulse Of Water In Your Lungs...

Demonic Death Judge - Seaweed (2017)

God damn this is heavy!  Extremely fantastic production, on par with Magrudergrind but aimed at groove as opposed to blast.  Speaking of groove, these guys have riffs for days.  Demonic Death Judge, hailing from Kotka, Finland, doles theme out like candy, one KO after the other.  This third full-length from the band is a ripper from the start, with the riffage amplified by vocals filtered through thrash, almost bordering on a crust-ish sound, but with way more atmosphere to it. 
Opening track “Taxbear” rips into it in no time, bouncing back and forth between filthy vocals of pure sludge and a slow groove before mixing both into a toxic tonic, heavy on crash, with fantastic backing guitar eating into the octaves of the effortless glorious power that encases the entire thing.  Stand-out tracks like “Heavy Chase” show us a more sludge-rock-heavy Demonic Death Judge, keeping the mix in the red and vocals maxed, more accessible than the first track, but so heavy with attitude and power it prevents it from heading into something as “poppy” as Kyuss / Torche territory, while expanding on the ideas that those bands are pushing for.  This track also features one of the best and proper break-downs I’ve heard in a looonngg time.  This is a record that sucks you in and bowls you over to the point that every few minutes you just find yourself just saying “Fuck” out loud.

For Fans OfElder, Agoraphobic Nosebleed (sludge records), early Kvlertak, the first four Sabbath LPs


Saturday, March 04, 2017

Ziggurats Of Insanity...

Mountain God - Bread Solstice (2017)

I'm having a hard time shaking the feeling that the name of this album is a tongue-in-cheek homage to the Spinal Tap-like 'metal typos' which used to be a lot more pervasive in the days before everyone had spell-check at the ready (“Clam Caravan” is the one I've specifically got in mind). And while Dread Solstice might have been a more evocative title, Bread Solstice arguably does a better job of capturing the weird, uncommon vibes that this band brings to their debut LP.
With a semi-subtle storyline threaded through the track titles, and launching off from the setting captured in the cover art, the album quickly establishes its brooding psychedelic tones as a melting morass of strange notions, sinister growls (both vocal and instrumental), firmly-built riffs, and the ability to pack enough force into their playing to knock your speakers into standby mode (at least, that's what happened with mine, and as many heavy beats and bass waves as my stereo's put out, that's still a first). You'll want to make sure your set is in good working order, though, so you can soak up the sonic malevolence this crew assembles with such seemingly untroubled skill.
Most of the music goes without vocals, leaving little doubt that they're working from firm foundations, but when the voices do come into play, it's usually as a veritable barbarian howl. And though the music drifts on the edges of abstract, the deep grimy grooves exert enough weighted momentum to pull listeners along in the wake, through the strangest moments and the most direct of head-banging invitations. A damn good album, even stronger when considered as the debut LP it is, and worth checking out for those who want their doom to go beyond '70s homages and heavy riffs. Copies will be available through Artificial Head starting on March 24th, so if you like what you hear, mark your calendar and set some cash aside.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Ksyatriya, Nelly Olsen, Reptensol, Venus Sleeps, Wizard Cult


Friday, March 03, 2017

Fuzz Off! Episode 1

Here's a new feature we're super proud to bring y'all...

Long time friend of the Beard, Wayne Rudell - guitar supremo at Powered Wig Machine and artist extraordinaire has a new venture.

Fuzz Off, will be a regular web series presented alongside brother Joey and Orgo Martinez.
The guys will be providing a sit down commentary on current music events, upcoming festivals, new records, tours and gear. 


Drive Of Your Life...

Rozamov - This Mortal Road (2017)

Boston-based Rozamov are back, following up two EPs with their first full-length, clocking in at forty minutes of epic and extremely well-textured doom. A 'progressive' record, as so many are these days, except this one never gets boring, while exploring a plethora of new and interesting ideas, similar to Elder’s breakout Dead Roots Stirring.
 This release has a much, much heavier side to it, and it's one of the most exciting releases I’ve heard in sludge in a while. Anyone interested in the headier side of metal should check this out. Think earlier Mare Cognitium, with their high-concept stuff, or more recently, Inter Arma’s Paradise Gallows with more groove. The stand-out opening/title track This Mortal Road is a slow trashy sludge feast that trudges along, opening up with filtered vocals before dropping into a filtered riff of desolation. Production is on point the whole way through, but the drums are especially exquisite, sitting just in front of everything and giving the toms a meaty kick. Awesome effect.
 Rozamov really excels in opening the listener up to a riff, letting it fester while adding texture and spacing, and allowing it to grow. The whole thing has a consistent build to it that is expanded further by fantastic vocals. Each piece segues effortlessly into the next, never feeling like a 'concept' record, but maintaining that consistent theme through the entire album. Really great stuff here, finally giving me hope in something for 2017. On tour now, go support 'em!
~ Dan

For Fans Of; YOB, Neurosis, Grief, Elder, Conan


Thursday, March 02, 2017

By Fist and Claw...

Warcrab Scars of Aeons (2016)

Last year brought a lot of surprises, both good and bad, but one that flew under my radar was Warcrab.  This six-piece band out of Plymouth, England, throw together a spiteful, heady blend of sludge, death, and doom in a way that grooves like a wave as it simultaneously crunches and cracks like an earthquake.  Scars of Aeons is their second full-length album and it's a thundering good time.  The production here is much improved over their first album Ashes of Carnage which struggled to contain the band's ambitions, the result being oversaturated and slightly muddy.  This album, in comparison, brings clarity without sacrificing any of the bone-breaking weight of three down-tuned guitars.

"Conquest" opens with a foreboding, atmospheric lead-up that does its job of quickly establishing the mood before mid-tempo drums and mountainous riffs take over.  Churning blast beats pick up the pace as it barrels forward, keeping in time with throaty growls and chugging guitars.  "Destroyer of Worlds" crushes, as its name implies, while "In the Shadow of Grief" slows things down to a more doom-like pace with occasional spurts of rolling energy.  "Bury Me Before I'm Born" chugs and squeals like a classic death metal song.  This is what Warcrab excels at: fooling you into thinking they're one thing while drawing on techniques and tempos of something completely different.  Set 'em up, knock 'em down.

At over 10 minutes long, "Scars of Aeons" is both the title track and the final, tumultuous climax.  The groove here is emotionally resonant in what feels like a mighty pay-off to the rest of the album.  The final moments wind down to a doom-speed crawl as the last chords ring in your ear despondently.

This is a short album, weighing in at a mere 34 minutes over 5 tracks, but it's capital B Big in every other way that matters: tonally, thematically, and musically.  More aggressive than your typical sludge, drawing on the intensity of death and some of the more riff-centric niches of doom, Scars of Aeons has a broad appeal that should please fans of those genres equally.

For Fans Of; Crowbar, Bolt Thrower, Black Tusk, Kingdom of Sorrow

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Warcrab - Scars of Aeons (320 kbps)


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cold As Ice...

Attalla ~ Glacial Rule (2017)

It's been a long time coming, three years to be exact, but the Wisconsin doom quartet Attalla finally return with one beast of an album.
Right out of the gate you can hear how the guys have progressed. Still managing to retain all the fuzz and thumping of their debut, Glacial Rule adds a slightly more polished groove and fidelity to the whole affair. A little counter intuitive for a doom metal outfit you may think, and in many cases you'd be right. It's proven to be the undoing of many a sludge/doom band over the years, but Attalla have manage to add themselves to the ranks of the luck few that have managed to hit right middle of that sweet spot that lies just between all out sludgy fuzz and down right over produced. Think of it this way; where the first album saw the band angrily playing in a darkened graveyard, Glacial Rules sees them playing sombrely on the aftermath of a Viking battle ground. Sorry, but this was the first analogy that came into my head after listening to both albums back to back, and I just couldn't shake it. It's got something of that Nordic grandeur to it that I can't quite put my finger on. Don't worry, it falls a longship sized way short of sounding anything like Amorphis or Opeth, but there is just a hint of something there. Or maybe it's just Adam Burke's fantastic artwork planting seeds of Valhalla in my mind. Either way, it bloody works, and who's to argue with that?
With all but one track (Devil's Lake) well exceeding the six minute mark, the album weighs in a good 12 or so minutes longer that their first outing while boasting the same amount of tracks. This should go some way as to showing the changes the guys have made. Hell, thats a whole EP's worth to most bands... or a few grindcore albums!
All in all a bigger, bolder and ballsy'er return than I expected. Well worth the wait!

For all of you itching for the wax to spin, fear not, the guys have got you covered with two versions ready to pre-order now for the release on 24th March. Head on over to their Bandcamp page and treat yourself!
~ Jay

For Fans Of; With The Dead, Elder, Black Pyramid, Wounded Giant, Wo Fat


Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Munsens Interview

The Munsens have been earning regular play in the stereos of The Burning Beard's staff since their first EP, Weight of Night, was released back in 2014, and with the appearance of the follow-up Abbey Rose EP, they set themselves even deeper into the pantheon of bands we've been thrilled to discover.  After their recent US tour, The Munsens were kind enough to share some time with us and answer a few questions, shedding light on the band's background and giving some indications of what they've got planned for the future.

The Burning Beard:  Hi, and thanks for taking some time to field our questions!  First off, how did The Munsens initially come together as a band?

The Munsens:  The Munsens started a handful of years ago in Asbury Park, New Jersey.  At the onset, we weren’t a band in any official sense, we would just jam in our original guitarist’s basement after the bar, generally just playing one riff forever, and then another riff forever, and then another…  Over time it evolved into whatever it is now.  It was slow moving, however; for the first few years Shaun (current guitarist) and I lived in Denver, while our former guitarist, Jon, still lived in New Jersey.  He would come out west for a chunk of time and we would tour or play locally or record.  Whatever the time allowed for.  It was hectic.

Following the release of the Weight of Night EP and subsequent tour, we didn’t play for quite a while, as our original guitarist, Jon, decided he was going to live in Asbury Park, NJ full time and wasn’t going to be able to come out to Denver to join us permanently (or even periodically as we’d done throughout the history of the band).  Shaun and I continued to write and were set on finding the right person to join us, rather than rush a new lineup together.  Ultimately we decided Shaun would move from drums to guitar and we would bring in a new drummer.  We met our current drummer Graham through our friends in Cloud Catcher and we’ve been running with it from there.  We are thrilled to have him in the band.

TBB:  What are the musical backgrounds of each of the members?

Mike:  Shaun and I (we are brothers, in case that’s not clear) grew up playing piano, and then come middle school or so we began playing guitar and bass and playing in shitty “bands” with our friends.  Once I moved to Colorado in 2007 (Shaun in 2009) and we got our own place we started jamming more frequently, with more people, picking up different instruments along the way.

Graham:  I grew up in a musical family and picked up drums at a young age.  I played in garage bands through high school and a couple bands in the Denver area after that.

TBB:  Around what age did each of you start developing a taste for doom metal?

Shaun:  I was always into heavy ‘70s stuff like Sabbath, Zeppelin, and Cream, but I think it wasn’t until I was about 18 when I started listening to more modern doom.  Bongripper's Hate Ashbury and Satan Worshipping Doom were very influential albums for me.  I was really into the way they would build their riffs into these epic climaxes.  That really stuck with me in my songwriting.

Mike:  Somewhere in my teens as well.  I was pretty into faster genres of metal, punk and rock and roll when I was younger.  Got into Pentagram, Witchcraft and some of the better known bands that lean to the doomier side at first, and it rolled on from there.

Graham:  Around the age of 14 or 15, after flipping through my parents records and taking a liking to the imagery and sound of my mom’s Sabbath records.  After that I honed in my taste with heavier bands like the Melvins, Eyehategod, Grief, etc.

TBB:  What are some of the members' favorite bands?  And what are some bands that you think fans of The Munsens would be surprised to know that you dig?

Shaun:  I've been on a ‘60s-‘70s Argentinian rock n' roll kick lately.  Bands like Pappo's Blues, Vox Dei, Color Humano, Manal, etc.  I've listened to an extremely wide range of genres throughout my life, but perhaps some of the more unexpected might be classical compositions from Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, and New York hip-hop such as The Diplomats (Dipset).

Mike:  Favorites are tough.  I’ve been all over the map, but two that come immediately to mind and I will always hold dear are Pentagram and Lightnin’ Hopkins.  Turbonegro - particularly the Ass Cobra album - is another I am always coming back to.  Denim fuckin’ Demon!

Currently, I am really into a band from Portland called Lonesome Shack.  And to throw out two random ones that people might find surprising, one from the past and one I just came upon - The Chariot and Lebanon Hanover.

Graham:  Some of favorites include The Clash, Converge, Melvins, Annihilation Time.  And not to mention my guy Phil Collins and a love for mainstream hip-hop.

TBB:  Are there any other bands which you feel have probably had an influence on The Munsens as a band, whether in musical style, album presentation, or other ways?

TM:  Neil Percival Young.  That’s the first which comes to mind.  In our early days, Electric Wizard, Witchfinder General, Weedeater, and those sort of legends for sure, though the influence grew far wider as the band evolved.  We listen to and play all kinds of music these days, and I think that bleeds through in our music.  In terms of overall approach, we’ve always respected the DIY avenue that bands like Bongripper take.

TBB:  How did you settle on the name 'The Munsens'?  And is it, as I've always kind of assumed, meant to be like the Manson family meets the Munsters?  Or am I totally off-base with that?

TM:  We’ve yet to hear that one!  But that’s pretty good!  When we moved to Colorado, we had a few friends using “Munsen” all the time, like, “Look at this fucking Munsen” in reference to someone they found ridiculous or someone who was blowing it.  Presumably they got it from the movie Kingpin and the character Roy Munson and the implication that comes with it: “A born loser, a real Munson.”  “To have the whole world in the palm of your hand and then blow it.”  We found it fitting.

TBB:  What was the experience of recording Weight of Night like?

TM:  Recording Weight of Night was a blast.  We worked with our buddy Mike Moebius at his former studio, Moonlight Mile in Jersey City, recording it live and adding vocals and another guitar track afterword.  We recorded that one to tape in a room without air conditioning in the middle of the summer.  Every once in a while we’d have to let the machine cool down and we’d walk to the corner store for beers and pizza.  It was all-time and an experience we will never forget.

As with most of the Munsens stuff from that time, we were on a tight time frame.  I think we went in for two and a half days or something in that range.  Mixing was a bit more tedious as we had to to it all over email with Mike since none of us were staying in New Jersey.  He crushed it regardless and we are psyched on the whole thing.  HOPE YOU’VE GOT SOME FREE TIME THIS SUMMER, MIKE!

TBB:  Looking back, are there any adjustments or full changes you'd like to have made in putting it together?

TM:  Sonically, we were thrilled with that EP.  As far as any wholesale adjustments, it’s always been wishing we had more time to experiment with different sounds and ideas.  If I remember correctly we had to put all the vocals down pretty quickly (no time for pause once the voices were going) and then do the mixing and mastering via email because I was heading to work a job in France and Shaun was headed back to Colorado.

TBB:  How did the process of making Abbey Rose compare to creating that first release?

TM:  We recorded Abbey Rose in Denver with Jamie Hillyer at Module Overload, which was also a good time.  We did this one live as well in the same way as Weight of Night but recorded it digitally and in a smaller space this time around.  The equipment used on this one was all completely different - different amps, different cabs, different drums.  Jamie has a lot of cool equipment so we messed around with some of the stuff he had in studio.

Again there was the time issue due to some of us traveling, and ultimately that is why we released Abbey Rose as an EP.  Though it may be longer in running length than a traditional EP, we weren’t able to put all the time we wanted into it since a couple of us were heading out of town.  We wanted to get it out before we toured this past January, and liked what we had so that’s the path we settled on.  We will put out a full album this summer.

TBB:  What led you to make a part two for “The Hunt”?  Was that something you had planned from the start?

Shaun:  It was an idea shortly after we released the first one.  Both the ending riffs are more or less modeled after each other.  They are very similar in structure.  It’s a bit of a mini story, with The Hunt I being the first half. but they were both just meant to be long, monumental songs.  It was a song we had written before the other three on the EP, and that’s why it kind of sounds a bit different and doesn’t mesh with the theme as cohesively as the others.

TBB:  Since you recently toured the US West Coast, how did you feel about the audience reactions?  Any particularly memorable experiences from that or previous live shows you wanna share?

TM:  This recent tour was hands down the best we’ve done.  Thank you to everyone who came out and to all the bands who helped us out.  Y’all rule.  The last show in Tempe at the Palo Verde Lounge was particularly memorable, both in show and venue.  We’ve played Palo Verde once before and this time we were lucky enough to play with Goya, Twingiant and Grey Gallows.  We were familiar with the former two, but Grey Gallows caught us by surprise and blew us away.  Also, hosted us, so thanks a ton for that!

The show was insane, in our opinion.  Getting to see everyone play on the floor face to face with the audience was so cool.  Reminded me of basement shows we used to attend in New Jersey when we were younger.  One of the regulars at the bar, perhaps an employee but I have no idea, was running some sort of scam there where she overcharged people and just kept all the money.  Not the margin she overcharged.  All of it.  When Shaun called her out on it she denied and denied and denied keeping our $20 for three PBRs.  Finally she folded, pulled the money out of her bra and looked me in the eyes.  “Fine, steal from my children.”

TBB:  You released both Weight of Night and Abbey Rose on cassette.  Was that due to a special fondness for the format, or was it just the best-suited option for a physical release for the band both times?  Any interest in putting either or both out on vinyl/CD/8-track/whatever else?

TM:  More than anything, we couldn’t afford to press a record, and preferred tapes to CDs.  Having some sort of physical product was most important, though I think we all do really like tapes.  We are certainly hoping to put our upcoming release out on vinyl.

TBB:  Both releases were also mastered by Dennis Pleckham of Bongripper, at Comatose Studio(s).  What was that experience like, and how much input did you give him on what you wanted the end product to sound like?

TM:  Dennis is the man!  Both were done via email, and the beauty of working with Dennis is that he knows exactly the sound we are after.  We provided a couple examples and a bit of input and he has nailed both of them.

TBB:  In a world where visas, booking fees, and the like were of no importance, what would be The Munsens' dream gig line-up in which to play?

TM:  We’d take our buddies in TOKE and play an end of the world party in a castle somewhere in Eastern Europe.

TBB:  On a similar but more realistic note, any currently-active bands out there with which you'd be interested in doing a split or collaboration?

TM:  Oh man, so many.  We’d be humbled to be included with any number of bands.  Hopefully we can cut an extra song for something like that.  I was just introduced to a Slovenian band called The Canyon Observer - for the sake of staying topical, let’s say them.

TBB:  So what are The Munsens' plans for the near future?

TM:  We will be headed on a short tour this March on the way to SXSW, starting in Denver for a handful of dates with our friends in Cloud Catcher.  We will be playing a couple Denver shows after that, including Electric Funeral Fest, June 16-17, before we head back on tour in July.  I’d love to say our new record will be out by then, but realistically, that will probably happen a bit later in the summer.  There are a few other dates we are booked on, yet we are unable to announce just yet.

TBB:  Anything else you'd like to say to our readers?

Mike:  Personally, read more.  Don’t get caught up in all the bullshit that is flying around.  Read books.  Make your own decisions.

TBB:  Thanks very much for your time and the excellent music, can't wait to hear what you'll have for us in the future!

TM:  Thank you for taking time for this!

~ Interview by Gabriel