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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Sun Baked Treats...

Groggy - 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


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


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


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


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


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rumble Road Revisited...

The Death Wheelers - I Tread On Your Grave (2018)

The last time we featured the Death Wheelers here on TBB was back in 2016, when we checked out their split with Witchstone on Sunmask Records. With this new album, the Wheelers are popping up on RidingEasy Records, a name which should be pretty familiar to regular readers, and the Canadian crew have put together eleven cuts of dirty, doomy rock, feeling like a strong blend of several '70s staples. From the sex-hunting hard rock to biker panic films (and their soundtracks), on through the early days of heavy metal and emergent atomic nihilism, hearing the songs of this album is like having a dope 'n' whiskey cocktail poured in your ear through a black denim funnel.
Is there fuzz? Yeah, and plenty of it, but behind that, the band is pushing riffs so fast you almost won't register how hooky they are until you catch your head bobbing right along to the bass slams, hi-hat rides, and hard drum fills. Scatter in a nice selection of samples presumably pulled from favorite films of the group (plus that old hoot, Rock: It's Your Decision), and you've got a solid bout of heavy rock set to soundtrack your next smoke session. And if the mood takes you, you can even try to piece together the story told over the course of the tracks, which involves undead bikers, cross-country riding, and plenty of debauchery. If that all sounds good to you, mark May 11th on your calendar as a day to have some spare cash set aside to pick up your own copy, or go ahead and pre-order one at the Wheelers' BandCamp.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Witch, Chronobot, Lightsabres, Salem Mass, Strange Broue


Saturday, April 07, 2018

Dragged Under Waves...

Ommadon - End Times (2018)

With their latest album, the Scottish duo of Ommadon deliver about forty minutes of concentrated doom, split into two parts for vinyl formatting. If you've heard the band's work before, you'll have a general idea of what to expect this time around, but if you're new to Ommadon, buckle in for some crushing heaviness that takes its time hoisting the slabs of its tunes into place.
Part one of End Times grinds its way up that hill with steady deliberation, threading in further layers of oppressive atmosphere every few minutes or so, and it's a good fourteen minutes before the vocals make their first craggy entrance. The morass of bass vibrations and superb under-textures is something which just can't be done justice with second-hand description; you've got to load this into your stereo and soak up all those bad vibrations yourself to appreciate the uncanny creepiness, depression, anger, and hunger that fill the experience.
The second half rumbles on in much the same way, with a short pause in the activities marking the point at which physical copies will need to be flipped. While there's just as much variance to this portion as the first, the guitar does seem to be more prominent in part B, giving things a sharper edge at points, while the waves of bass reverb gnaw away at the edge of feeling. It's big, it swings for the skull, it beats. Heavy music fans, get in and hold on.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Bongripper, first-era Godflesh, Skullflower, Ufomammut


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Dredging Up Pain...

Boghaunter - Writhe EP (2018)

Making their debut with this two-track EP, the three-piece of Boghaunter makes up for that small number of songs in volume and length, splitting nearly half an hour between “Constellation Vows” and “Ordeals”. Lavishing a strong doom base with blackened vocals and deathly guitar-work, the band weaves back and forth between melancholy and anger, growing the presence of the main riffs and expanding the scope of their sound into a powerful swell. Careful deployment of each instrument within the songs, along with a great ear for the tone interactions, helps spice up the tunes, and for a first release, there's an impressive sense of direction and purpose to each of the tracks. Here's hoping that craftsmanship doesn't hold up a follow-up for too long, as the band gives the impression of having quite a bit more to say with their music. Check it out if you're in the mood for thoughtful doom with a harsh edge.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Disenchanter, Heavydeath, Toward Atlantis Lights, WarHorse


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Deep Death Doom...

Assumption - Absconditus (2018)

Though they've been releasing material since 2012, this year marks the first full LP to come from the Italian duo of Assumption, and with the three tracks contained in Absconditus, the band shows what they've been building in that time away from the public's ears.
Slow, heavy, and deliberate, “Liberation” opens the album to strains of guitar and tidal bass, drums providing an elephantine pulse. When the vocals arrive, they're in the form of a deep growl, delivered on that fine edge of recognizability where you can follow along if you want to focus, or just take them in on the emotive level as snarled aggression. The escalation is managed quite well through the rest of the song, and its completion comes with a transition into cold but gentle wind instruments (or at least keyboard emulations of such) as “Resurgence” begins.
Before too long, that intro section of the song gives way to harder tones, translating the form of the first track into faster speeds and hookier riffs. Again, it flows so well that it's almost a shock to hear the guitar and bass draw to a close. And as “Beholder of the Asteroid Oceans Part I & II” climbs into gear, the band's fondness for growing from an atmospheric start is once again demonstrated, this time with layered drones and slow-rippling synths. The move from there to metal action comes with a vengeance, as the duo turns out their hardest song of the LP, with spacy drifting peeking back up in the latter half. All together, it's a pretty damn impressive first album, and well worth the wait for fans of the group's previous two EPs.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Disenchanter, Heavydeath, Jupiterian, early Opeth


Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Bloody Alteration...

Wykan - Solace (2018)

With their debut EP, this Montreal-based trio kicks things off with a mean groove, leading with “Lahppon Olmmos”, which brandishes a sample of tribal chanting before the guitar, drums, and bass drop into place. Heavy metal noodling on the guitar joins doom-worthy bass and blackened vocal grinds, while the drums bounce heavily without holding too fast to any one of the influences. Though there's plenty of energy all around, the riffs supplied by the guitarist steal the lead focus pretty handily, and despite the aggressive flavoring of the singing, there's a strong current of fun running through it.
“The Gathering” picks up after “Lahppon Olmmos” wraps up its ~7-minute run, moving to a slower pace and gentle melody, drum intensity building up to the bursting point for the metal switch. This is probably the track which most evidences band-leader Jeremy Perkins' background in black metal, with tremulous strumming, sustained passages of tension, and more naked venom than either of its EP-mates. Lastly, there's “Wykan” to serve as the EP's closer and (what with sharing the band's name) offering up something of a mission statement for the group's coming efforts. Like “The Gathering”, it moves from a slow opening to heavy intensity, and the riffs come chugging like a train loaded down with corpses. All told, it's an impressive debut, with enough hooks to catch ears wherever it gets play. So grab yourself a copy, turn it up, and consume some mean doom.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Bath, Jupiterian, The Munsens, Vodun, Yanomamo


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Gilded And Grotesque...

Et Moriemur - Epigrammata (2018)

Coming four years after their last album, Epigrammata shows the Czech group of Et Moriemur performing in high form, with a blend of black, death, and doom metal furnished in elegant presentation and finesse in crafting. Piano melodies thread through bellows and sinister bass drones, choral arrangements mix with razor-ground guitar-work, and moments of tenuous serenity are regularly bashed into pieces. Good handling of tension and momentum give the songs an unnervingly focused honing of their tone, and while a few of the tracks sound a bit too similar for the good of the album, the band's care for letting individual moments have adequate room to breathe helps Epigrammata rise above a pretty large slice of their peers' efforts.
As the majority of the music operates with an ear towards atmosphere as the dominant quality, there's some paucity of memorable riffs. Luckily, the band is deft enough with their juggling of the various elements at play to keep it from growing overbearing, and the production has enough power to it to effectively serve the king-sized sound. A few sections of somber spoken-word glazing are evocative of Ulver's late-'90s material, but by and large, Et Moriemur do a fine job of establishing their own style. Check it out if big and bold doom with emphasis on mood over fuzz fits your tastes.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Gallow God, Lurk, Tons, Ulver, White Darkness


Saturday, March 03, 2018

Wonders and Woes...

Towards Atlantis Lights - Dust of Aeons (2018)

Bringing together members from an assortment of bands, including Void of Silence and Pantheist, the group of Towards Atlantis Lights make their debut with this album and its four tracks, and sound truly colossal in doing so. Hell, the opening track (“The Bunker of Life”) is half an hour long, which makes for a pretty big first impression, you know?
Naturally, the group takes its time building things up over that duration, but it's not long before the gothic guidance comes to the fore, with monastic vocal drones and resonance to put you in mind of a massive pipe organ rising up from the depths of doom. Growls and sprawling guitar riffs join the affair, packing on the heaviness and adding some welcome complexity to the proceedings. Ride along with the slow-moving power, don't spend too much time breaking down the pieces, and you're in for a doom experience to soak through your ears and into your bones.
Once they clear that monster of an opener, it's on to the second half of the album, spread out over three tracks. First of those is “Babylon's Hanging Gardens”, which concentrates the vibes from the first thirty minutes into something with a beat to which you can (slowly) head-bang. “Alexandria's Library” moves from beat to tone studies, spilling out its bass-lines at the speed of tar, coaxing out a mournful vocal treatment to give you goosebumps, and drifting out on a delicate twist of piano. That leads nicely into the final track, “Greeting Mausolus' Tomb”, with its trembling string-pluckings and clear-voiced dedication, before the swarming heat of the deeper textures take over and death holds sway.
It's quite an experience, and while it will probably put off those with a need for speed, the listeners seeking some powerful doom metal should dig it, while the funeral doom fans get chills. Set to drop on March 6th through Transcending Obscurity Records, this is one to get your ears around as soon as you can, as it'll take quite a while to fully digest.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Jesu, Ksyatriya, Thergothon, Ufomammut


Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Luminescence of Stains...

Leechfeast - Neon Crosses (2018)

Aiming big with their sophomore album, the Slovenian group of Leechfeast have put together four tracks, each one at least eight minutes long. It's their first album release since 2012, though they've put together material for splits in that time, and the atmosphere they build over the course of the new LP's two sides is one of smothering dread, making the lengthy wait for the follow-up something quickly forgiven as it plays.
The album leads with “Sacrosanct”, which quickly establishes the nasty tone and gritty textures which persist from there 'til the end, a lo-fi spoken sample providing a nicely disorienting blare of detached reference before the bass and drums come in to set a pace like a stoned sloth with razors in its paws. “Halogen” follows, bringing a more concentrated throbbing to the bass-beam swinging, plus a tasty melodic nod to a classic piece of heaviness (cast your mind back about half a century when you hear it yourself), and “Tar” leads the way into the second half by diving head-first into a morass of grime you can practically feel on your skin. “Tar” is also the longest track of the LP, and its time is well-spent by the band as they grimly take hold of the riffs and twist them into lethal configurations.
By the time “Razor Nest” comes about to usher in the end, the album's already taken a compelling journey through its soundscape of pits and pains, but the band doesn't let up with the final track. Instead, they push on into even more massive sound ranges, lending a grandeur to the suffering that's almost symphonic in the way it stretches up and out, though the music stays well-grounded with its instrumentation. As the last of it rattles to a close, the band takes a minute to linger on some stripped-down echoing, providing a care to it that neatly captures the effort taken to make the album as a whole fit together in sludgy glory. And they succeeded, pretty damn well at that.
Sludgers who want it truly dirty and despairing, don't let this one slip by you. It's out March 30th, dually released by Dry Cough Records and Rope Or Guillotine, with a later cassette version from Hellas Records, and a string of European live dates through April in various countries. Damn, I envy those of you who get to catch those shows.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Dead Existence, Meth Drinker, Mudbath, O.D.R.A., Zeppheroin


Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Fleshless Abode...

Evil Spirit - The Imageless Mirror (2018)

Performed by just two members (Marcelo Aguirre on vocals and percussion, Ari Almeida on guitars and bass), this mini-album bridges the gap between the German group's first album, Cauldron Messiah, and their second LP, which is still cooking. Over the course of this release's five songs, the duo brew a mean atmosphere of low tones, strained strings, fierce wailings, and malefic attitude, bringing slow doom slogs and sludgy burners together with panache and a startlingly large-scale vibe. Heavy slams and gnarly riffs are in plentiful supply, there's a hefty Death SS cover which Evil Spirit does a great job of making into their own thing, and the music includes several creative surprises that are rather neatly worked into the flow. If you're like me, and haven't yet heard the group's first LP, this is a great introduction to the band's style and capabilities, and should leave you wanting to check out more of their catalog. Of course, that'll mean you'll end up hungering for that second album to show up, but that's an acceptable price to pay for music this stimulating.
~ Gabriel
For Fans Of; Brume, Heavydeath, Narcosatanicos, Sunken, Uroboros


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Nations Of Corpses...

Gnaw Their Tongues - Genocidal Majesty (2018)

Gnaw Their Tongues are pretty damn prolific for a one-man group, having put out a dozen albums (not including splits and side-projects) since self-releasing his first LP back in 2006. Keeping up that pace, GTT's first album for 2018 launches out from its start with howls, monstrous bass, and an enveloping sense of doom, compressing the massive-feeling music into just a little over half an hour of material. Electronics augment the nasty vibes, generating unstable fields of disturbance and high-speed percussion that ramp upwards into harder and harsher power. Industrial strength solvent for the nerves, high-pressure doom, nightmare factory recordings, and a big dose of unhinged, unrestrained maddened outpouring come together with fantastic results, while titles like “The Doctrine of Paranoid Seraphims” lure in unsuspecting listeners expecting something symphonic.
Not something which will appeal to everyone (thank goodness), Genocidal Majesty finds GTT continuing to experiment, but doing so with the confidence and dependable underlying technique that comes from having been at this for over a decade, with no signs of compromising the effort or earnestness of the various approaches he's taken in that time. The demonic passion which consumes GM at times (during “Cold Oven”, for instance) puts a long list of extreme metal groups to shame with how fiercely it comes at the listener, and the coatings of programming do nothing to get in the way of that assault. High-grade audio pain, intense and superb.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Boyd Rice, Iron Justice, Skin Chamber, Sunken, White Darkness


Saturday, February 03, 2018

Life In The Graveyard...

Burning Saviours - Death (2018)

With albums in their catalog dating back to 2005, there's no question that the Swedish group of Burning Saviours have a firm handle on the hard rock they play. With this latest album, they pay homage to some of the forebears who made the links between original doom metal and hard rock stand out most clearly, keeping the songs of Death heavy and theatrically menacing while emphasizing chuggy riffs, burnishing thick bass slabs, and singing about (what else?) the inevitable cessation of life.
Though there's a lot of homage filling the music, it also stands strong as a solid batch of old-school doom pulled off in fine form. Head-banging beats and hooky riffs are supplied in ample measure, the amping sounds warm (and pretty close to period-accurate for the style they're working), and refusing to stay small when there's a chance to go big with the rocking add up to an album which comes in without a trace of fear and does everything it sets out to do. Really, the music explains it better than I could, so as soon as the album drops (March 9th, through the good people at Transubstans Records), grab yourself a copy and get ready to ride a time-traveling train of heavy riffs back to the days when every piece of metal cover art would look good on the side of a van.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Black Knight, Candlemass, Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Salem Mass


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Ways Of The Waves...

River Cult - Halcyon Daze (2018)

Making their debut back in 2016 with a self-titled EP, the trio of River Cult are dropping their first LP this year, and for a group rooted in Brooklyn, they do a pretty damn respectable job of channeling the bluesy heavy psych sound into the five hefty tracks Halcyon Daze boasts. Thick pedal-boosted string textures and rolling drum rides build rich atmospheres of warm bleariness, and with not one of the songs dipping below seven minutes in length, the band gives themselves plenty of room to flesh out and shade in the nuances with care. It's heavy without losing momentum, psychedelic without going (too far) off the rails, and fucking groovy with hardly any bloat.
While the vocals are a lot of fun, keeping a sort of grungy, cool indifference going even in their roughest yells, the band packs in plenty of instrumental rocking, twisting their way through gnarled riffs, riding crescendos to a peak before leaping to another one, and getting down 'n' dirty in the earthiest tones. They've got heart, they've got chops, and from the sound of it, they're having a lot of fun bringing them together while pushing past emulation of their influences into something really great. Check this one out once it lands on February 9th (in CD, digital, and vinyl formats), play it loud, and play it again; just don't expect to catch all the details on your first time through.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Desert Suns, Frozen Planet....1969, Major Kong, Zombie Picnic


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Obverse and Occluded...

Zombie Picnic - Rise of a New Ideology (2018)

Debuting back in 2016 with their album A Suburb of Earth, Zombie Picnic made quite an impression on us with their free-wheeling strain of prog rock. They're back with their sophomore album now, due for release in March, and with it, the Irish quartet has assembled ~40 minutes of new material, perfectly portioned for the vinyl release it'll receive through Burning Shed.
Things start off in a low-key approach on “Democracy Cannot Survive”, with a gentle melody line cycling about as it finds footing, rising energy and expanding drum flourishes steadily infusing the measures, and the sharp, clear guitar tones wrapping firmly around the whole. The intensity continues escalating from there, with follow-up “They See Science as Dangerous” highlighting the group's ability to tighten up on a riff-ride while bringing all the members into vibrant action, with the bass-lines in particular grabbing listeners by the ear-balls.
Almost half of the album's duration is covered between those first two tracks, and for the rest of it, the songs are served up in more easily digestible form, from the focused drive of “DEFCON” on through to “Anger in Storage (Denial Will Follow)” and its relatively brief outro crash. Concise samples discussing the merits and impact of science fiction, among other societal concerns, are sprinkled throughout the music, and it's from these (and the titling) that the otherwise vocals-eschewing grooves get their thematic flavor. Whether they're really needed is up to the listener to decide, but they do add a nice splash of character (and personally, I'm always in favor of a well-used sample or ten).
Looking at the album as the group's sophomore outing, ZP have certainly managed to grow while holding on to the weird facets that helped make their first so distinctive. Fans of prog rock should go ahead and earmark some money for a copy, and fill the time before release by checking out the group's first album if it managed to slip past them.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Crown Larks, Indukti, Mondo Drag, Planes of Satori, early Porcupine Tree

Zombie Picnic - Anger in Storage (Denial Will Follow) (320 kbps)


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Plots And Pyres...

NEST - Metempsychosis (2018)

We last heard from NEST about two and a half years ago, with the release of their self-titled debut EP, which made a good impression with its stylish treatment of a blackened doom base.  After a follow-up EP in late 2016, NEST are back again to deliver their first LP, and with its half-hour or so of new songs, the Kentucky-based duo show that they're still in fine form when it comes to crafting concise assaults of weight-laden fury.  Instead of going the route of sheer blow-out screaming and thrashing, they put in the work to build carefully-developed melodies, letting listeners get attached to the tunes before smashing in with bolts of harsh violence, and keep that defiance of easy templates going the whole way.
While they've got a certain distance kept between themselves and rock-out vibes, they do have the ability to tap into those head-banging energies (check out the end section of “Gallows of Forever” for a demonstration).  Again, though, it's a work in contrasts; without the more serious majority of the music, those leaps into more traditional metal vibes wouldn't have the impact they do.  Similarly, their ratio adjustment between the doom and black metal takes them through a nice, wide range of effects and atmospheres, finding just as much room for deep grooves as they do for bone-rattle beatings, not to mention some good old feedback-soaked power drives.  Hell, I actually found myself throwing up the horns while listening (to “Divining by the Entrails of Sheep”, for the record) and I genuinely can't remember the last time a record provoked that response from me.  Even more impressive, they got the whole album recorded in just three days, with the songs' cohesion reflecting that feverish outpouring.
The time NEST have taken to put these songs together has been well-spent, no doubts there, and it's exciting to hear them stretching their style in so many different ways on their first full album.  As with their first EP, they pack in one song which dwarfs the others.  This time, it's penultimate track “Life's Grief” (embedded below), which rolls out to nearly ten minutes of powerful resonance, mixing its huge-sounding majesty with a deep-trenched coat of filthiness, capably covering the album's two extremes (plus the band's more experimental side) while also pounding out some heavy power.  If you're a fan of grisly doom and you're not sold by now, check the full album out once it drops, and let that take you the rest of the way.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Hesperian Death Horse, Odradek Room, The Sleer, Sunken, Trees


Saturday, January 06, 2018

Transmuted By Erosion...

Apostle of Solitude - From Gold to Ash (2018)

Returning three years after their last album, Apostle of Solitude have assembled forty-five minutes of new material for their fourth solo LP, due out February 23rd, working big riffs and heavy atmosphere to nice effect.  It's doom with some force behind it, and as the band moves along through the seven tracks, they balance the slabby bass-lines with emotive vocals, drums both thunderous and gentle, and some fierce guitar-work.  Almost all the songs break the 6-minute mark, so you get to hear the band build some big structures and give them thorough exploration, all the while using some lush production to bring out the finer details in the resonating chords.
The band also maintains a strong sense of character and consistent tone through the songs, without falling into monotonous drudgery or predictable tricks.  It's an album that really hits the feel of being conceived and executed in one fruitful go of it, while still fitting into the larger scope of the band's full catalog.  Closing out on the funereal “Grey Farewell”, the band shows that they've developed the important quality of restraint with their doom, letting sparseness and simplicity have their place without being buried under tons of fuzz or over-amped bass wallows.  By emphasizing the role of well-made melodies in the style, AoS give promise that there's more ideas yet to be shared from their group, and that they'll be given the time and growth they need to come out smashing.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Below, Earthshine, The Fateful Hour, Of Spire & Throne, Pilgrim