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