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


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


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


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