Saturday, December 29, 2018

Stung By Sunlight...

Scorpio Rising - Scorpio Rising (2018)

Rising up from the depths of Cincinnati, the one-man doom project of Scorpio Rising has three songs to offer on his self-titled debut demo. Leading with “Black Equinox”, he establishes some old-school doom vibes (think Saint Vitus), with steadily-paced guitar riffs trading off with bass accentuations. Whispered vocals add to the sense of the first track having been recorded in a desolate cathedral, and the song glides out to a quiet fade. “I said it all with that kiss...” takes over from there, with its ~7-minute run-time giving SR an opportunity to show how he handles the long-form doom. A focus on atmosphere serves him well, as the vocals are kept submerged while percussion peaks up through the dirge-like bass grind.
Lastly, “I love you ?” picks things up into a quick-moving haze of garage rock psychedelia, with distorted guitar chords washing over dirty riffs and an almost surf rock-ish percussion line. It's something of an odd finish, but at just a couple minutes long, it works to reinvigorate the listener before sending them off. While there's some expected roughness to the demo, it's still enjoyable, and shows SR bringing his ideas to successful life. Hopefully there'll be more confidence in the vocals on future releases, but as is, it's a nice introduction that does a good job of demonstrating the flavors and skills the band digs.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Abbot, Count Absurdo, Heavydeath, Hypnochron, The Munsens


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Twisting Through Growth...

Through The Canopy - Descension (2019)

Coming to us from Norway, the three-piece of Through The Canopy are issuing their first EP after a couple years of live gigs and private practice, and the two-track release brings their ambitious mixture of styles to light with fine form.  With each song running over ten minutes, there's more to dig into than the track-list would suggest, and it leads with “Seven Days”, featuring a slow warming build-up into proggy tech work, then more fully into a metallic groove.   The band keeps the song changing again and again from there, with impressive twists keeping the action fluid and high-aiming.  Hints of death metal keep the teeth bared, there's a distinct heaviness to the harder riffs even as they zip along, and some sharp soloing brings power while eschewing cheese.  It's an intricate blend, and for such a lengthy track, it keeps things moving from one focus to the next with such cleverness and vivacity that it never seems to drag.
The other track, “Illusions Lost”, takes a similar tack to the song-writing, but wears a slower and more somber mood for its warping, while also placing more emphasis on allowing listeners to trace the changing of the main melody.  Though it demonstrates the band's abilities with just as much range as the A-side, it presents a much different side to their fusions.  To be honest, this is the one that I expect will really hook ears, despite running a few minutes longer than “Seven Days”, thanks to its firmer groove establishment.   But between the two tracks, there's fantastic work and detailing to spare, leading to an excellent first impression.   The vinyl release of the EP is up for pre-order, so check them out, nab yourself a copy, and keep your ears sharp for their next release.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Asilo, Behold... The Arctopus, Lesbian, mid-era Opeth, Qualeaceans


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Rise And Shine...

Sonic Moon - In Orbit (2018)

With almost two years of gigs under their belt, the Danish quintet of Sonic Moon have issued their first EP, and In Orbit brings a four-pack of tunes to entice listeners, opening with the desert rock twist of “Places”. Dry-sounding chords lead through harmonized yells and a bruiser of a beat, giving some good opening energy to the set.
The grungy grooves of “The Heavens” pop up next, letting hooky melody and tasty guitar tones mesh with rugged bass pulses and some high cymbal action, making an intriguingly heavy piece out of higher-end elements than are usual for the style, before “Something Else” picks up the lead. A little bit of atmosphere is set with quiet strings before a ripple of drums lead back to the beefier material, slipping in a little psychedelia in the end-of-measure guitar twinkle and twang, and the band spices things up by making good use of phasing on the line in the track's back-end.
Lastly, there's a ~7-minute self-titled song, and “Sonic Moon” makes use of its position and space by working a slow-burn escalation into heady riffage. The band's co-op powers really come to the fore in this slow-paced study, with each instrument getting plenty of time in the audio spotlight. For the band's first release, it does a great job of showing off their skills in a range of styles, speeds, and intensities, and provides a fair number of hooks to catch in your ears at the same time. Keep your head up for more to come from this crew.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Catherine, DDT (Canada), The Heavy Co., early Kyuss, Suiciety


Saturday, December 08, 2018

Engulfed In Power...

Feel No Pain - Into the Chaos (2018)

Having changed out half of their line-up last year, following the release of their demo in 2016, the Spanish group of Feel No Pain are naturally still shaping their sound, but from the four songs on this, their first EP, they're shaping up quite well. Leading with the shortest track, “Tower of Silence”, the band gives a taste of atmosphere and drum flourishes, with chanting and croaking bird squawks leading into a doomy but energized vibe. Segueing from there into “Sky Burial”, FNP bursts loose with a blitz of drum and guitar action, firm bass-lines setting the foundation for them to rock out. The riffs are plentiful, but the band is careful not to let them drag on for too long before switching to the next, and the high speed of action gives things a feel not unlike '80s heavy metal infused with some Slayer-like aggression.
“Vanished” brings in some tricky rhythmic play, but settles into its high-speed groove with fine style, rumbling and pounding along while throwing in switch-ups and breaks that provide variety without killing the flow. The solo towards the end gives a great demonstration of the band's shredding capabilities, and the drummer never lets up in giving his part cool intensity. Closing out with “Into the Chaos Dimension”, FNP keep things strongly rocking, firing percussion barrages and striking guitar ragers while bellowing to match. As their first non-demo release, it's a Hell of an impressive one, and should earn them some attention for the hard work and intensity they put into it.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Atrocity, Earthling, Exciter, early Slayer, Weapon


Saturday, December 01, 2018

Finding Faith Below...

Lowered - Lowered (2018)

Coming at us from the fertile musical landscape of Portland, Oregon, the debut LP from Lowered brings the group into action with half an hour of black doom metal, emphasis on the black side. Split across four songs, the band gives each piece extensive development, shifting through riffs and rhythms with sharp flexibility while keeping the speeds high enough to get your brains rattling. Melodic progressions are given clear presence in the midst of the slamming, and the breaks into sparser instrumentation are handled with enough deftness to slide them right in without detracting from the songs' flow. The vocals are suitably demonic, with a good balance of rasp and groan, and their fine meshing with the grinding tone of the guitar gives the band an extra notch of distinction to their sound, on top of the impressive flow control they maintain through the lengthy tracks. Though the album was originally released back in February, it's been picked up for vinyl reissue by Throne Records, with regular and deluxe editions available in addition to a few test pressings. Hopefully the band will keep up their momentum and provide a follow-up before too long, but in the meantime, there's plenty to savor here. Something for you fusion fans with a taste for the harder stuff.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Alraune, Earthling, Hesperian Death Horse, early Opeth, Trees