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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