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


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


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