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


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


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


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


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