Saturday, November 10, 2018

Rolling Up Shrouds...

Tombtoker - Coffin Texts (2018)


Coming at us out of Baltimore, Maryland, the five-piece band of Tombtoker bring their debut EP out on the heels of their demo, which released about half a year ago. Infusing the standard stoner doom metal with a sludgy bit of punk energy and antagonism, the group merges crunchy riffs with sharp beats while keeping a swampy vibe active underneath. Over the course of the EP's ~20-minute run, Tombtoker capably demonstrate their facility with cranking out hard beaters alongside more withdrawn doom indulgences, and the band operates with such tightness to their playing that it's hard at times to pick out the individual guitars from their twining grooves. A solid first full release, and those who've been looking for stoner metal with a harder edge would do well to check these guys out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Witch, Attalla, Bitchcraft, Wizard Smoke, Wolf Blood




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Saturday, November 03, 2018

Passing Through Pain...

Hesperian Death Horse - Živ (2018)


When we last heard from the Croatian group of Hesperian Death Horse, the year was 2014, and they'd not only done a concept split with fellow Croats Hazarder (on the theme of Nikola Tesla), but also released their first full-length album. Now that they've returned, they've revealed that said first album (Mrtav) was actually the first part of a concept album trilogy, starting with death and ending with birth. Živ is the step between those extremes, with the title translating to 'life,' and featuring (like Mrtav) four songs, each bearing a subtitle. Živ is also a bit shorter than that first album, but considering that relative durations of life and death, that seems appropriate.
With a deep and brooding atmosphere combining doom's weight with blackened virulence, the music grows in creeping fashion, moving through passages of slow-moving heaviness and faster aggression (kind of like life, you may be thinking). The synthesis of the two produces some great tension and stirring melodic developments, and the sections which cycle a riff while gradually escalating the harshness really bring the emotional thrust to bear with finesse. HDH find an impressive amount of range and material to be drawn from the interaction of the two styles, and while the length of the album makes it prime for vinyl issuing (fingers crossed), it's also likely to leave you hungry for more. Of course, that's much preferable to having too much piled on, so cheers to the Croatian crew for the excellent album, and here's hoping it's not quite so long until the last piece of the trilogy is set upon the world.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Heavydeath, Mamaleek, Open Tomb, Ulver, WarHorse




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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Free Flow Doom...

ӨПƧΣƬ - Unstructured Dissemination (2018)


Making their debut with this two-track, ~30-minute EP, the Singaporean duo of ӨПƧΣƬ (which I'm just going to call Onset for the rest of this write-up, for simplicity's sake) bring a deep emphasis on atmosphere to their music, threading in each development and additional element with careful deliberation. The basis is one of doom, leaning towards funereal emotionality but bringing enough hard edge in its twists to keep from sinking into navel-gazing introversion. There's some death metal flavoring at times, some post-metal, traces of symphonic majesty, and other flavors besides, all managed by the band with exceptional form in light of the EP's allegedly live recording (don't ask how one guy plays both drums and bass in that situation).
The 'live' performance also makes it easier to forgive the groove rut into which the second song settles and has a hard time getting itself back out of, but on the whole, it's a very stylish and impressive debut. Though originally self-released on BandCamp back in April, the EP's been picked up for a CD release on November 28th by the Japanese label of Weird Truth Productions. Check it out if you dig exploratory doom journeys, and definitely keep your ears up for more from this group.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Clouds Taste Satanic, Headless Kross, Heavydeath, Wyatt E.




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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Lunar Exposure...

Erasy - Under the Moonlight (2018)


With the two tracks of this EP, the Brazilian group of Erasy provides a quarter-hour of doom metal with a sludgy edge. Opening with the title tune, the band gives the thrumming bass-lines a grinding roughness, letting the riffs seep along and riding the musical changes with heavy grace. Though it's kept fairly low in the mix, the action of the guitar gives the song a trilling undertow, and the drums take their bursts out of the measured backing beat with excellent selectivity. The second song, “The Deal”, turns up the sludge ratio, with the yelling of the vocals matched by an increase in the drum-bashing, and harder squeals from the guitar, while the bass keeps up its firm grooving. Quite a solid pair, and by making the two songs almost exactly the same length, Erasy show how much variety they can put into the same basic framework.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bitchcraft, Bongzilla, Hypnochron, Tons, Wounded Giant




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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Perdurant Suffering...

Rigor Sardonicous - Ridenti Mortuus (2018)


Though it's been six years since their last album, the long-running Rigor Sardonicous are back with a new EP as they approach the quarter-century mark for their first release. Ridenti Mortuus features half an hour of seeping funeral doom, divided between four tracks. Leading with “The Smiling Dead”, a chilly atmosphere of ragged guitar, booming drums, and voluminous bass presence is established with low-key flair, and the instrumental dread creeps on with heavy pressure for its full ~9-minute run. Some vocals are present, but as a low-pitched growl, wedged deep in the mix, they come off as extra atmospherics, instead of trying to overwhelm the slabby circling doom riff.
“The Hound” picks up after the first song fades into silence, bringing the vocals to higher prominence while also introducing some slow-ring cymbal action. Some shifts in other specifics are used, but for the most part, it's more of the heavy doom grind, keeping the slow flow going while the bass thrums out of your speakers. “The Unsepulchred Dead”, at five minutes, is the EP's shortest track, and it steps up the tempo slightly, while keeping the weight and gloom firmly in place while brandishing the guitar buzz a bit more.
Lastly, “Intereo Parum Infantia” comes along to close things out with twelve minutes of further crushing, and with the expanded time, the band finds more room for bridges and incidental touches, letting the sprawling song take on more personality. The way the guitar springs to life for the lead-out riff is a particularly nice touch, serving to break the spell of slow pressure built by the rest of the EP. Something to keep you grim through those long winter nights, this will be releasing on November 11th, though you can go ahead and pre-order your copy through Rigor Sardonicous' BandCamp. Since it's digital-only so far, that's probably your best option, unless you've got a thing for being real punctual with your purchases.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Heavydeath, Jupiterian, Ommadon, Thergothon, Wizard Cult




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Saturday, October 06, 2018

Wings Of Eclipse...

Deathkings - Ex Nihilo (2018)


With their first release since 2016, the California-based group of Deathkings has adjusted their line-up from a quartet to a trio, dropping a guitarist and swapping out their drummer (though, in an odd twist, the new drummer has the same initials as the old one). With this two-track EP, the band brings a quarter-hour of sludge-crusted doom into being, opening with “Absolution”, a cruising crusher which angrily mourns the state of life. Breaks into slow-pulse bass throbbing and a mournful atmosphere of distant cries build up the tension and mood nicely, while the ramp back into powerful chords and assertive vocals mixes just enough roughness into its smooth ascent.
“Celestial Birds”, the B-side, runs about two minutes shorter, but makes up for that reduced time with increased aggression and raspiness. Mixing the drums to sound a little submerged brings some great low-end punch to their percussion, while the guitar twists its way through the measures with a serpentine mixture of grace and threat. Mean but stylish, heavy and focused, the song fuses its contradictions into something compelling and near-groovy, though it keeps enough dirt in the flavoring to ward off any accusations of compromise. Quite a strong pair, with each song showing off capabilities unaddressed by the other, and showing a band with plenty of fuel left in its tank after making their pit stop for realignment. Scheduled for independent release by the band on December 7th, this is one you should be sure to pick up and savor.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Heavydeath, Hesperian Death Horse, Jupiterian, The Sleer, Sunwolf


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Saturday, September 29, 2018

End Time Bangers...

Armed For Apocalypse - Palm Reader (2018)


Returning with their first release since 2013's The Road Will End, Armed For Apocalypse have brought four new tracks to bear. The new EP opens with “Mass Oblation”, a hard-slamming cascade of drums, bass, and howls, rumbling from one furious break-out to the next. “Worlds Beneath” follows, with hardcore beat rhythms fused to grinding breakdowns, strains of feedback, and more intense vocals. From there, they launch into “Forced to an End”, the EP's longest track at four minutes and change, rolling out a nimble bass-line to match the swerving drumming and gnarly guitar. The instrumental stretches allow for some extra madness to creep in, from the near-sizzle of the guitar sliding through the jagged bass to the growing sense of pressure, with the draining drop-out leading neatly to the finisher. The title track jumps right into more pounding beats, and doesn't let up for more than a few moments before reaching the final finish. With the four tracks averaging out to three and a half minutes each, things certainly move fast, but with the spirit and energy the band is unloading, that's as it should be. Whether you've been waiting for this since 2013, or you're just looking for some hard sludge action to satisfy your cravings, this quarter-hour slice should do you right.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Blacksmoker, Gilla Bruja, Legalize Crime, She Beast, Waft




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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Sending Up Smoke...

Hitman - The Offering: Side 1 (2018)


Coming at us from Nova Scotia, the quartet of Hitman have resurfaced with their third EP, following a single back in April of this year. Wasting no time, the EP launches off with “Curtain Call”, a two-minute burner of hard stoner rock, which lays down hard riffs while clearly establishing the style used by the rest of the songs. “Under the Weight” pumps up to five minutes and change, shifting to a slightly slower groove that still bristles with spiky guitar while flexing its bass muscle. Thanks to the extra run-time, the drums and guitar get some more room to shine, with a few breaks and a solo or two indulging in some gritty swagger.
They keep a good swing going through a honky-tonkish bit of cowbell counter-point, then flip right on into “Nero”, the EP's advance single. Here, the edge is rougher, the grooves harder, and the soloing wilder, all of it making clear why this track was picked to stand on its own and pique interest. Lastly, the double-header of “Enchanted Wizard / Hail the Outro” brings things to a finish on the back of big bass slams and some of the EP's sharpest guitar solo work, brandishing a fistful of flair while cranking out the attitude. A well-rounded set of tracks, with plenty of hooky little moments to lodge in the ears and memory, this batch of tunes should have fans well satisfied while drawing in a good crowd of new listeners to hear what they'll come up with next.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Five Black Bullets, Kyuss, La Chinga, Queens of the Stone Age, Return for Refund




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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Flapping And Stomping...

Moths - Moths EP (2018)


Coming to us from Puerto Rico, the debut EP from the five-piece band of Moths shows the group operating with a blend of heavy rock, stoner metal, and prog, with songs that wind through twisty changes in melodies, time signatures, and tempos.  Kept largely on the heavy end, Moths also find room for some tasty keyboard action, and the occasionally grungy guitar treatments bring a casual liveliness to balance the rumbling bass presence.   The frequent change-ups show a lot of ideas at work, and the success with which they're brought together in song after song has me excited to hear the layers of action the band would create in the space of a full album.  Beyond their snazzy riffs and knack for flipping one groove right into another, the band shows glints of hard aggression which further set them apart from the retro worship of the heavy rock masses.  Throw in a King Crimson cover (of “21st Century Schizoid Man”), and you've got an EP which demonstrates the band's abilities across a wide swath of styles, gives a nod to their influences, plays some kick-ass music in the process, and leaves listeners eager for more.  The EP will officially drop on November 2nd, so mark your calendar and make sure to grab yourself a copy.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Craneón, Earth Drive, Hijo de la Tormenta, Mother Mars, Persona




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Saturday, September 08, 2018

Taking New Tunnels...

Slug Salt Lava - Siaynoq (2018)


When we last covered Slug Salt Lava, the year was 2014, and the release at hand was their Radiated Soundscapes EP. There's been no other output from the Turkish group aside from a live set in 2016, but now they're back with a new EP, and the five tracks it has to offer show that the band has been putting their time to use building a harder and heavier vibe. There's some sludge to it, some heavy metal, traces of death, even a little groove metal, and the beating of the drums to the chugging of the guitar hits quite the rhythmic pleasure node. Some tasty guitar solos throw in alongside the bass riffs for a killer kick, and they cram quite a bit of change-up into the five songs, trading from doomy oppression to lively outbursts on a dime. At just twenty minutes, the band keeps it concise and punchy, and as something of a status report, it's good to hear them continuing to challenge their earlier style. Here's hoping they've got more material up their sleeves for release in the near future, and that they keep up their habit of experimenting with every release.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Ainriail, Attalla, Blind Samson, Cebo, Tons




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Saturday, September 01, 2018

Regal Mysticism...

SpaceMetal - Shroud (2018)


Making their debut in 2015 with a self-titled album, SpaceMetal have now returned with their sophomore LP, and the near-hour of material it packs shows the band angling for a blend of flavors both old and new, coming through in a batch of doom-brushed heavy metal. Big work-horse riffs are plentiful, the vocals take time to savor the words being sung, and the breaks and switch-backs are rolled in and out with cool smoothness. The guitar solos are probably where the group's Louisianan standing comes through the clearest, with a soulful strain that could easily be chalked in as delta blues blended with Dio-era Sabbath (“Forest of Faith” and “The Wheel” being a back-to-back pair that really bring out that flavor).
Lyrically, things are kind of all over the place, but in a pleasing way, with nature, revenge, replacement, lady-craving, existential spookiness, future landscapes, and van-art wizards are all in play, and the singing is balanced out by tasty extended dips into instrumental rocking. The music rarely gets full-on heavy, but when it's leveraged (e.g., the crunchy weight of the main riff in “New Blood”), it comes off very well, and as something done to benefit the song, instead of just being there for the sake of heavy. In the end, Shroud has a lot going on, and the musicians behind it deserve recognition for putting together such a well-rounded album, and for successfully channeling the sounds of yesteryear while dodging flat imitation or too-accurate flab. Grab yourself a copy once it drops on September 15th, should full-bodied heavy metal be to your tastes, and hear for yourself the SpaceMetal style.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Magic Circle, Pilgrim, Saint Vitus, Valkyrie, Witchcraft




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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Red Horizons...

Mystic Sons - Mystic Sons (2018)


With this first full album, the Swiss group of Mystic Sons roll out ~40 minutes of heavy stoner rock, with prominent bass-lines and grimy guitar tones grounding the chunky riffs in earthy flavor. Violence and occult flavoring is present, though it's presented without too much specification, with titles like “Californian Desert”, “Leather Apron”, and “Black Ritual” lending the imagery more substantial direction. The riffs, naturally, are the center-piece, and the slides into desert rock show a compelling way with focusing on the tone to build some rich atmospheres on its own.
With how sparse the lyrics are, it's hard to tell whether lines like “Satan is your friend” are delivered with tongue in cheek or not, but they fit the general vibes of the music well enough, and since they're near-mandated by the style, it doesn't make too much impact either way. The ~8-minute finisher of “Black Ritual” makes for a cool finish with its slow-rolling doominess, and the album as a whole shows a promising start for the young band.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Dead Witches, Kyuss, Monobrow, Uncle Acid, Wizard Smoke




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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Nurtured By Darkness...

Dead Hand - Reborn of Dead Light (2018)


The last time we reviewed a release by Dead Hand was back in 2016, when they put out a split 7” with Shroud Eater, and their experimental strain of sludge/doom was as much of a treat then as it was on their prior releases. Now they're back with their second album, and that genre-bending approach has even more refinement to its handling, with the band melding those two main styles while swirling in a number of others, and keeping the pacing, energy, momentum, and technical aspects all handled with excellent care.
As with the album's title (and its respective track), the song names lend a clear flavor to the music, with the remainder being “Alabaster and Bone”, “Parapraxis”, and “Amaranthine”. Short and evocative, though (outside of the ~4-minute “Parapraxis”) the songs don't share the shortness, averaging out about ten minutes per track. And in that time, they explore moods of aggression and melancholy, wrath and longing, crushed hope and burgeoning despair, and so on. Turns of melody and rhythm come sharply, but don't derail the songs, and the fusion of styles moves with impressive fluidity from one focus to the next.
While the length of the songs may be off-putting to some, it's an album that rewards jumping into those sizable songs with a diverse richness of heavy atmospheres. And given the difficulty of keeping all the turns twisted into the songs straight in your mind, it's practically guaranteed to hold up to heavy repeated listening. The band will be running a tour through the south-east United States in support of the album's upcoming release, set to drop on CD, vinyl, and digital on September 7th, with a bonus cover of Alice in Chains' “Them Bones” on the CD edition. Whatever your format preference, be sure to snag a copy if intelligently-composed heaviness is something you enjoy.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Heavydeath, Naught, Reptensol, The Sleer, Thou




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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Exploring Heavy Earth...

Necro - Adiante (2016)


Though originally self-released in digital formats by Brazilian band Necro back in 2016, Adiante didn't get a CD pressing until the following year, on the Abraxas label. Now, in 2018, it's finally getting issued on vinyl by Electric Magic, the label run by the excellent Samsara Blues Experiment. Along with my personal fondness for the group since hearing their debut LP on Hydro-Phonic Records back in 2012 (when they were still going by the name Necronomicon), that seemed like enough of a good excuse for catching up with the album after such a delay.
Running seven tracks and ~40 minutes long, Adiante opens with “Orbes”, which leads with a slam of drums and a flourish of electric guitar before sliding into a heavy psych groove that it follows through several twists of tempo and rhythm before bouncing out on its funky finish. The subsequent title track carries that energy to a higher level while counter-pointing with some staunch bass riffs, before “Azul Profundo” comes in for a luxuriant ~7-minute ride through more heavy psych, now with a pronounced prog flavoring guiding the instrumental interplay on a wild ride to the end of the A-side.
The second half maintains the cool flow, letting the drums get some spot-lighting with “Viajor”, balanced against a fiery guitar solo into electric organ breaks. “Entropia” follows, going back and forth between gentler action and crunchy riffs, and leading into the relatively traditional heavy rock structuring and explosive finish of “Espelhos e Sombras”. Lastly, “Deuses Suicidas” rolls up on a fierce drum-and-guitar charge, brandishing an almost honky-tonk-y swagger while bringing in all the preceding styles for a fantastic finale.
It's quite a relief to find that the band has kept up their high quality from earlier albums, and more than that, to find that they've continued growing and experimenting with that already-strong base. Fans of heavy psych should certainly check this one out, and while the album won't be shipping out until the end of the month, you should probably go ahead and get your pre-orders in, as there will only be 300 vinyl copies pressed. Long live Necro!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Earth Drive, Fakir Thongs, Gripe, Manthrass, Mondo Drag




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Saturday, August 04, 2018

Precious As Blood...

Idle Hands - Don't Waste Your Time (2018)


Surfacing from the heavier end of the Seattle metal pool, the quartet of Idle Hands make their debut with the five tracks of this EP, enticing listeners with '80s-styled guitar and bass work, modern death flavoring on the drums, and a pop-ish approach to the vocal presence. It balances out to something with much more of a hard rock leaning than all the metal components would suggest, and as their press release notes, there's some comparisons to be made to Ghost, though Idle Hands approach things with significantly less theatricality.
There's some solid songwriting across the EP, with firm foundations established before the band heads off on elaboration and tangents, and the weighted rock flavoring makes for an interesting fit with the usually-melancholy lyrical matter. Occasional bouncing drum rolls lighten up the Gothic veneer with lively indulgence, and the rhythm work in general shows appealing creativity to its twists and noodles. A strong first showing for the band, this should catch plenty of ears as they continue work on a full-length follow-up.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Demon Head, Exciter, Ghost, Van Halen, Woods of Ypres




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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Wrestling For Brainanas...

Groover von Kruger - The Scientist and the Monkey (2018)


With seven years between their debut release and this follow-up, it's not too bold to assume that most of you readers are unfamiliar with the Australian group of Groover von Kruger. It's also not much of a stretch to assume that our regulars are happy to check out new stuff, though, so I feel pretty well-assured that the band's hard and funky rock blend will be well-received.
Kicking off with the lively “Dynamite”, the band quickly establishes their flexibility and riff control, before moving into the dirty groover of “Pussy and Pancakes”, which slows things down for a saucy swing through a Spinal Tap-ish push over the top, while the tones go hard bluesy before jumping into retro shredding for a spell.
The title track picks up from there with a bouncier wailer bringing the bass to the fore, playing with dancy beats and high-tension guitar to build an atmosphere which gets neatly overturned by the following song, “Magic Beans”, which takes a lounge-band vibe and undermines it with tongue stuffed nearly through the cheek wall, letting an instrumental groove roll slowly along, with pit stops for announcements in Italian. Lastly, “Already Gone” pulls some of that atmosphere along by way of its casual piano, but spruces it up with funky licks and proggy twists, drawing it out into a fine finish.
There's a surprising amount to digest in these five tracks, and hopefully it won't take the group quite so long to craft their follow-up. Check out the EP yourself, and let the band know you want more if it tickles your fancy.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Frank Sabbath, The Heavy Co., Mondo Drag, Stone House On Fire, Stonerror




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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Gasping For Breath...

Flood Peak - Plagued by Sufferers (2018)


Hailing from Portland, Oregon, the three-piece of Flood Peak have been around since 2016, but this year marks their first official release, with the four tracks of Plagued by Sufferers showing off the band's mixture of styles. From doom-driven low-end on the bass riffs, through sludgy growling vocals, blackened guitar aggression, and deathly drum beatings, the group shows a well-rounded set of influences directed towards the unnerving side of metal.
That openness to style-blurring allows them a considerably large range of maneuverability, and they put the half-hour duration of their EP to work in showing their versatility in the high, low, and mid-range tempos, while shifting the flavor proportions of the music in ways that deftly avoid feeling unsuited to the songs' directions. There are also times when they jam them all together at once, and these may be the biggest stand-outs of the EP, because they make that gumbo work. Quite an impressive debut, and a band to keep an ear and an eye on as they continue building their discography.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Jupiterian, Lesbian, The Sleer, Trees, Ufomammut




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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Doom In Any Tongue...

Vanhävd - Låt köttet dö (2018)


With this half-hour EP, the Swedish group of Vanhävd roll out three tracks of powerful doom metal, bringing an edge of deathly deftness to direct the heavy momentum in interesting ways. There's a funereal morbidity lingering over the affair, with the fully slow portions feeling properly monolithic, and when the tempo picks up into hammering anxiety, the merging of the two energy extremes is handled incredibly well for a band's first release. It's certainly experimental, but at the same time, the band keeps a firm grounding in tunefulness and logical flow, keeping their swerves from coming too sharp for the good of the song. As this is supposed to be a 'sampling' of what their first full-length will hold, things are sounding extremely promising for Vanhävd, and fans of creative heavy music would do well to tune in as early as they can.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Battle Path, Earthling, Heavydeath, Mamaleek, White Darkness




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Saturday, July 07, 2018

Simple Machines...

Fred Vinters - Sound Machine (2018)


Making their debut with this four-song EP, the Swedish band of Fred Vinters (a quartet at live shows, but apparently just the band's name-sake in the studio for this) introduce themselves with some stripped-down bluesy hard rock. Electric guitar riffs and steady drum beats complement the earthy vocals, building a well-grounded base of clear-cut rock with few frills. Some boosts in amping, a layer of backing vocals, and an extra kick to the percussion in the chorus is about all the studio touch-up the basic tracks get, and it fits them well. There's a general downward slope of energy over the course of the EP, with the final song, “I Can't Stand the Sun”, consisting of just a bass groove, hand-drums, and singing. It'll be interesting to hear how this band develops, so go ahead and check them out if you're a fan of uncluttered rock.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Deadboy & The Elephantmen, Grusom, Muddy Moonshine, The Stone Fox, The White Stripes




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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Thoroughly Stirred...

Runescarred - We Are (2018)


With their debut EP, the Austin-based trio of Runescarred put their years of experience in previous bands to work in the service of creating metal that pulls from a variety of the genre's sub-styles, ranging from death metal-flavored beats and guitar tone, to British heavy metal vocals, doomy bass-lines, power metal solos, and thrashy breaks. It's a fast-moving mix with a lot of depth to its action, and it makes sense for the band to let curious listeners get a toe wet with the three songs of this EP before throwing a full album at them.
Still, though the songs duck and weave through their knots of style-merging, they keep a firm emphasis on melody and listener-friendly song-shaping. The leaps aren't blind, they're built from the preceding structures of the songs, though it takes some attentive listening to pick up the clues. That attention to detail makes it a great pick-up for those who like digging into their music, though, and should keep them tided over until the group's first full LP arrives. Until then, try to catch the band live if you happen to be in Texas, and stay tuned for big things from them.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Artension, Gamma Ray, Rhapsody of Fire, Symphony X, Twilightning




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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Moonlit Escapism...

Mist - Free Me from the Sun (2018)


We first heard the Slovenian band of Mist back in 2013, with their succinctly-titled Demo. Two EPs and five years later, the group has their first full album ready to share with the world, and in its ten tracks, the quintet show how they've developed their style over half a decade. Big sound, bold riffs, and a solemn atmosphere typify the album, with assertive guitar-lines and rich vocals providing the main guidance to the melodies. There's very much a 'retro doom' vibe to the songs, with traces of the more somber giants, like Candlemass and Saint Vitus, evident in the deliberation shaping mood and bass shading.
As such, while the usual aggression common to metal does show up regularly, its in the music's slower and more thoughtful moments that it really shines (“December” being a prime example). The heaviness is more of a means to an end than the be-all, end-all of something like Ommadon, but it's also deployed with effective dedication and thoughtfulness, wrapping around the core melodies with impressive bonding for what it is. A little more resonance or up-mixing of the bass would have been nice, but considering the need to balance five members' contributions, the end result is understandable. In any event, it's a pleasure to see this group finally put out an LP, and for something five years in the making, it certainly doesn't disappoint.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Blood Ceremony, Demon Head, Disenchanter, Pilgrim, Saint Vitus




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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Handshakes And Heartaches...

Gray Dog - The Deal (2017)


While this may have been released last year, the efforts the band went to in order to get a physical copy to me (intercontinentally, and relayed from one old address to the next) were enough to win me over into doing a review for it anyway.
So, this is the first EP from the Belarusian duo of Gray Dog, who are currently operating out of Poland (good company there). The EP's five tracks unearth some blues of the dirty and heavy variety, with twanging strings and wounded yells forming the main thrust of the music. Regret and pain are the main themes, as is commonly the case with blues, and the fretwork is nimble, sparing, and stylish. The production is likewise kept uncluttered, though the grimy tint comes through undimmed, and the growls and strings both get their full register across in fine clarity. Percussion is limited to thumps on the guitar's body (and a couple slaps of a background tambourine), which helps keep the sense of physical immediacy strong. There's a real sense of life to it (especially when they start baying like coyotes), and it's a welcome change-up from the dense posturing all too common in heavy rock. If you've been looking for something off the beaten path, but still truly heavy, here's your prescription.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; The Barnburners, Cebo))), The Midnight Ghost Train, Muddy Moonshine, T.K. Bollinger & That Sinking Feeling




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Saturday, June 09, 2018

Purge And Binge...

Ancient Altar - Cosmic Purge / Foie Gras (2018)


Over the course of the two songs on this EP, the LA-based outfit of Ancient Altar unpack about 24 minutes of stern doom metal, building from firm bass and drum foundations up through growls, toothy guitar-work, and clear but imposing singing. The first half, “Cosmic Purge”, works up to a powerful momentum, with a few breaks scattered in among the otherwise unrelentingly heavy roll-along. There's tunefulness threaded in, though the aggressive weightiness stays at the fore-front, and it carries itself well for its ~11-minute size. “Foie Gras”, the second and longer track, picks up from it with a little more emphasis on the riffs, and a little more speed to its crashing impacts. It's a nice twist from the atmosphere set by the first, and its faint touches of psychedelic exoticism on the guitar's solos lend things an appreciable expansiveness. Between the two tracks, it's a solid and enjoyable release, one which bodes well for the subsequent album on their own Transcendental Void Records label. Hopefully that'll arrive before too long, but in the meantime, get yourself acquainted well with this EP, and soak up the menace.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Abstracter, Bell Witch, The Munsens, Raedon Kong, Wounded Giant




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Saturday, June 02, 2018

Stars And Bars...

Black Elephant - Cosmic Blues (2018)


Back with their third album since debuting with 2012's Spaghetti Cowboy, the Italian quartet of Black Elephant have spent the four years since their last LP honing their heavy stoner rock hooks, and it certainly shows in the seven tracks of Cosmic Blues. Hot guitar grooves, echoing slides, mellowed-out bass that swings in for kicks, and drums that firmly lay down the beat are all at play, showing the fusion of blues, rock, and consumption-tuned psychedelic flavors in fine form. Once the band launches into a riff, it leads to a slew of others, slipping and sliding out to a finish until the momentum carries them right into another riff train. It's heavy but fast-moving, a little bit funky in the right places, and the guitar tones have such a nice seasoning to their twang, it's nice that the band lets them hold sway over a good stretch of instrumental passages. Grab this one if you've been hungering for some solid stoner rock with an emphasis on big riffs and tuneful cruising.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Daily Thompson, Farflung, Fatso Jetson, Mos Generator, Stone Machine Electric


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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Buoyed By Beats...

Dygora - Chambers of Reflections (2018)


Following up on their Prelude to Revoluton demo from 2015, the London-based quintet of Dygora have returned with four more tracks of death metal with a dusting of sludge influence, sounding pretty polished with the production of their beats and growling guitars. The vocals, despite their consistency in delivering a rough gnashing, are probably the least interesting component of the music, and often feel like they're just distracting from the instrumental meshing, with their most engaging usage being when the rasping is played as a rhythmic counter-point or overlay. Past the dirty tones of the guitars and bass, and a couple of spoken samples in the last song, there's not that much sludge influence to be found, unfortunately, and for the most part, the songs chug along without taking breaks to indulge in more textured effects, or to push their intensity and aggressiveness up to blackened levels. While it may be an improvement from their demo days, it also shows plenty of room for the band to continue defining their style as something more distinctive, though the near-half-hour of material here should please those who are just looking to satisfy their cravings for some blast-beats and barking.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Blood of the Wolf, Matalobos, Necrophobic, Reign In Blood, Throne of Heresy


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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Sun Baked Treats...

Groggy - ...in the Land of Sunshine (2018)


The last time we covered my favorite Russian band here on TBB was back at the start of 2016, to review Groggy's release of the Turtle LP. Though they've had a couple of releases since then, this EP makes for a nice point at which new-comers to the group's heavy stoner metal can jump in and check out what they're about, or just some extra enjoyment for existing fans. Opening track “IFLNTS” throws some wild, almost punkish intensity into that metal base, bashing hard and riding a fast-rolling groove through to the end. “TAAB” kicks in with a clear and savory riff, leading to funky string warbling and deeper rocking that keeps sinking further into heaviness. Lastly, “DSOTWE” leads the way out with a crunchy cook-up of chords, cymbals, and crashing drums, slowing fading out into a sizzling psychedelic wash. Tasty stuff from start to finish, and just as fun as it is heavy.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bomg, Hot Knives, The Munsens, Weedeater, Wounded Giant




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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Lost In Smoke...

Hot Knives - Static Bloom (2018)


With this debut EP, the Brooklyn-based trio of Hot Knives offer up three tracks of bleary psych rock, taking cues from an audibly wide range of influences while coating it all together with big slatherings of fuzz. And by just riding the grooves where they might go, HK effectively evoke the feel of '70s psych bands without it feeling even close to the clumsy aping that most retro-psychers fall into with their efforts. They're not hung up on being 'pure psych,' but like the originals, they're willing to mix in some punk rawness, some bluesy soulfulness, straight-up rocking, and whatever else does service to the songs.
True, it's a pretty quick experience, just barely breaking a quarter of an hour, but the band maintains quite a high level of quality with impressive consistency through that run, which is just what you want to make happen with your first release. On top of that, there's enough depth to the tangles and snarls of grooving to keep follow-up listens engaging, so if you dig some psych rock with real life behind it, hit up their BandCamp page to grab a copy for yourself, and throw them some spare cash if you want to hear more from the group in the future.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Frank Sabbath, The GTVs, The Heavy Co., MC5, Purge Solenoid




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Saturday, May 05, 2018

Rising From The Depths...

Spine Chilling Breeze - Estrus, Humidity and Other Addictives (2018)


It's been six years since the Greek band Spine Chilling Breeze released their debut album (plus a promo before that, which our man Jay covered back in the day), and in that time, the group disbanded, reunited, and put out a single to show that they were still alive.   Now their second LP has arrived, and with its seven songs, the band packs some lively heavy rock in, blending the bluesy roots with hard rhythms and rough attitude while playing up the riffs and rowdiness.
At just over half an hour, it's a quick run, but that fits the energy of the music, while also letting SCB bounce around, flavor-wise, without it feeling too disruptive to the flow of the album as a whole.  Pedaled-up guitar, clear drums, troweled-out bass, and vocals that jump from growls to howls are all in the mix, and while it doesn't always hit square on, there's enough liveliness and enthusiasm coming through that it doesn't really matter all that much.  The essential spirit is there, and as long as you're in search of straight-forward rock, this'll scratch your itch.  Here's hoping this gets SCB the ears they need to put out another full-length before six more years have passed.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Clutch, La Chinga, Queens of the Stone Age, Sedated Angel, Sheavy




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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Bloody Prescription Label...

Black Box Warning - Attendre La Mort (2018)


Hailing from France, the sludge three-piece of Black Box Warning makes their debut with this five-track EP, which features different dosage increments (e.g., “4 mg”, “2 mg”) for each of the track titles. Kicking off with “5 mg”, the group swings out a heavy bass presence before laying in the raw-sounding belts of growling and gnarled guitar. Tight handling of the riffs and concentrated spikes of impact show the band keeping their song focused on harsh but controlled delivery, and they keep that up with the tracks which follow, unfolding a set of dirty lungers while spine-tingling tone disruption and generally grimy atmosphere fill in the space between wrathful outbursts.
Though it all comes off as something you'll have heard before if you've listened to more than a handful of sludge albums, BBW pulls it off with earnest commitment and solid handling of the nuances, bringing a liveliness to the down'n'dirty maneuverings that helps lend believability to the usual misanthropic posturing that goes with the genre. It sounds mean, which is a big chunk of making sludge work to begin with, so as long as they keep that up while developing stuff like more memorable riff-hooks on their follow-ups, they should be well-poised to deliver even filthier barrels of bass and rage.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Attalla, Blacksmoker, Doperider, Dopethrone, Grey Widow




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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Slow, Dark, and Hazy...

Ancient Lights - Ancient Lights (2018)


With their self-titled debut album, the three-piece of Ancient Lights (bringing together members of 5ive, Ramesses, and Switchblade) showcase their heaviness through almost ninety minutes of powerfully atmospheric doom. Primarily instrumental, and operating mainly off of the guitar/bass/drums foundation, the songs tend towards forms of slow build-up and gradual erosion around central riffs, with tone and technique savoring providing the bulk of the enjoyment. Lances of guitar feedback and slams of crashing bass augmented by cymbal clangs, slow plows of string reverberation and counter-play, and keening wails coaxed from the instruments are plied into a massive set of slabs, the sort of thing to let play while you get more and more dazed on your substance of choice, or just the music alone.
Judging the overall flow of the album is difficult, not just because of its sheer size, or the semi-hypnotic effect of the music, but also because it drifts along with such ungrounded freedom that remembering whether a given chord strain went to this track or that is like trying to sift out specific grains of sand from a wall-sized dune. It's enjoyable, no doubt, and powerful to boot, but it really is the sort of album to have to spend some time with to just to be able to confidently pick out distinct portions and hold them in mind. Are those really recurring progressions, or have I slipped into a daze? That sort of thing. If you can dig channelings of pretty potent doom into almost entirely instrumental beams, don't miss out on this album. It's due out July 6th, so mark your calendar and prepare your ears.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Jupiterian, Ksyatriya, Lustmord, Major Kong, Neptune Towers




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