Saturday, May 18, 2019

Informed By Erosion...

Folian - Ache Pillars (2019)

Coming to us from the locale of Portland, Oregon, the latest release from one-man project Folian features four tracks approaching lingering pain and consumptive brooding from an uncommon angle. Mixing low-frequency oscillations, haunted vocals, meticulously-mixed string sparseness, and a bevy of shifting electronic textures, the music of Ache Pillars aims for tangential listening recognition, keeping a thick swaddle of ambiguity to the emotions and structural direction, but prodding out such intriguing combinations of its sounds as to demand an emotional response. Or a physical one, as goosebumps don't seem like an inappropriate reaction to the intersecting layers of reverb and delay banks.
Metal purists will probably be too weirded out or offended by the absence of genre boundaries to really dig the experience, but the near-half-hour ride is one which persistently demonstrates pains-taking efforts to fuse unpredictable emotionality with the unhinged electronics, with quite an impressive result. About half of the EP's run-time goes to the final track, “Where All This Dust Comes From”, which breaks from the momentum built by the preceding tracks' run in order to build its own upwards creep into claustrophobic tension. Something best taken all in one go, but each track shows different facets of musician David Fylstra's exacting technique and enviable creativity.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Gnaw Their Tongues, Pale World, Sutekh Hexen, Ulver, White Darkness


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Maddened Subterranean Fury...

Gourd - Moldering Aberrations (2019)

Coming at us from Ireland like an assault on auditory immune systems, the latest EP from the two-piece of Gourd brings just under half an hour of filthy doom-soaked sludge, packed into three tracks. Leading off with “Befoulment”, Gourd insinuate creeping despair under unsteadily rising bass reverb, with vocal howls bleeding their notes right into the morass of fragmenting sustain. Treading a rough path through the distortion and growls, the band finds their way on to “Mycelium”, which finds firmer footing in a persistent bass undertow while the vocals struggle through the haze. Broken with a few instances of spoken-word samples, the dark miasma and hard edges of the feedback form a compellingly antagonistic vibe, without even a hint of posturing or pretense behind the attitudes and emotions on display.
Lastly, the title track (the video for which you'll find at the bottom of this review) brings with it some of the most traditionally-structured rhythms to be found on the EP, though they're quickly dropped in favor of the more nebulous rasping and rumbling bellows. Keening abrasion and dissonance are bent to the music's purpose, and multiple twists in volume, along with the song-writing's directions, keep things strange and stimulating. As short as it is, it makes for a harrowing experience, and one which is deeply impressive.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Body Void, Endless Floods, Leechfeast, Lifeless Gaze, Ulver


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Circulation And Iteration...

Kavod - Wheel of Time (2019)

Coming to us from Italy, the group of Kavod are three guys finding ways to unburden their souls through their music. The three songs of this debut EP are the result of jamming and picking out pieces which they liked, and as a result, the tunes have a solid flow to their grooves, despite the variety of their styles. There's touches of post-metal, but for the most part, the music lets psychedelic metal tendencies guide its path, with carefully-handled rhythms and melody-building. The shifting of focus through the contributing instruments is done with similar slickness, keeping a grit to the tone while pushing for fluidity to the playing.
There's also, arguably, some prog flavoring to the deep consideration of the song-writing, but as the EP comes together at just over fifteen minutes, it's hard to get too firm a read on those inclinations. What it does clearly establish is that this crew is working with open ears and minds, leading to songs that are stimulating while being well-grounded in heaviness. With such an intriguing introduction, I personally can hardly wait to hear more from the group, and find myself especially curious to find how their style grows with the future releases.
~ Gabriel
For Fans Of; Asilo, Indukti, Reptensol, Stonerror, Ulver


Saturday, April 06, 2019

Laughter In The Dark...

Electricjezus - Смех (2019)

It's been four years since the last solo album from the Russian duo of Electricjezus, but the enjoyable power shown in that last release (Котлован) has, by all signs, continued to strengthen in the intervening years. Opening with a slow riff study in “Соки земли” (or “Growth of the Soil”; Electricjezus continues to kindly provide translations of their titles), the band (re-)establishes their guitar and drums M.O. with panache, picking up energy and speed as they move into the subsequent tracks.
It's in those follow-ups, like “Приговор” (“Sentence”), where the sludgy potency of the band is made explicit, with their handling of momentum steering the swampy chords and weighty beats into feeling impressively sizable for a two-man operation. The absence of a bass (guitarist Ruslan employs a bass pick-up, instead) in no way keeps them from bringing suitably dark and heavy tones to the agonized audio experience. Special kudos to Ruslan's vocals, which are used infrequently, but consistently sound as though they're being sourced from someone in the middle of being crushed by a boulder. In a good way, of course.
And for a couple of the tracks breaking the ten-minute mark, the music maintains a good pacing, moving along without seeming too sluggish, in spite of the low-end, low-tempo, low-life vibes they keep in play. And despite the sparse instrumentation, the songs do a great job of catching you up in the grooves, getting swept along without any doubt of a satisfying experience. They've found what works, and trimmed off all the fat, leaving an excellently crafted batch of weighty tunes to do their job, and do it damn well. This is one of those to take in the first time, let it sit and digest for a while, then dig right back into it to figure out what you missed because you were too caught up in the groove to savor all the details. Hats off to Electricjezus, once again.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Body Void, Dead Existence, Hypnochron, O.D.R.A., Sleep



Saturday, March 30, 2019

Heavenly Earthen Philosophy...

Greenthumb - There Are More Things (2018)

Following up their 2018 debut West with this, their second EP, the Italian group of Greenthumb roll out three solid tracks of psych-tinged stoner doom, with aching vocals and rumbling riffs. Though the production and mixing are kind of rough, the vibes come through with good power, and while I personally dig the slower song sections a bit more, the ramps up into battering action show the band performing just as well in that mode. The vocals are a highlight, with the keening sense of longing and pain meshing wonderfully into the distant and wind-blown feel of the singing. At just over twenty minutes, there's enough here to give you a good sense of the band's style, while also holding enough back to build appetite for more. As they've already managed to put out two EPs in the space of one year, it's a fair bet that we'll be hearing a full album from them before too much longer, so go ahead and get a taste of this Italian doom group's flavors.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Below, Eternal Candle, Humbaba, Mist, Windhand


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Stirrings From The Underground...

Chasmdweller - Chasmdweller (2019)

On this, their first release, Chasmdweller offer up two lengthy tracks of death-flavored atmospheric doom, leading with “Plague Monument”, a slow-crushing roller with breaks into rampages sourced from the death metal side of its heritage. Boggy reverb and cave-like acoustics add to the dungeon vibe, as do the intentionally muffled vocals. Touches of electronic texturing further it even more, while also providing solid intro and outro coverage, and the murkiness of it all is spun together with a good ear for how to combine flavor with big riffs and healthy momentum.
The second half, “Clotting of the Sacred Artery”, pulls a synth intro as well, but develops into a paganistic tambourine-and-drones piece that shows the group's melodic side in ominous fashion. After about four minutes of that examination, the more traditional metal resurfaces, breaching with a driving drum pattern and bass riff to match. Following their ride, a sink back into hissing drones leads the way to the finish.
Though it's a quick trip through the mini-album, Chasmdweller certainly make a good showing in that stretch, and their blending of well-executed death doom with more uncommon elements shows not just a promising inclination towards experimentalism, but also a refreshingly out-there twist on a style that can often end up too predictable, even while staying enjoyable. That they don't blend the metal and dark electronic portions more directly into each other is a bit of a shame, but as an introductory release, it does a great job of piquing interest while letting its songs stand firm on their own. A very limited run of cassettes is up on the BandCamp page of the label, Static Void Records, or you can snag a digital copy for just $2. At the very least, swing by the page and give it a listen to hear some enjoyable oddness applied to the doom foundations.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Descend Into Despair, Drift Into Black, Illimitable Dolor, Nonsun


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Revitalizing The Senses...

A Vintage Death - Acrid Death Fragrance (2018)

Making his debut with this EP, the one-man band of A Vintage Death emerges with five tracks, coming together for slightly under half an hour of material. Working a blend of death doom with touches of black metal, the music focuses on an atmosphere of gloom and ambiguous danger, and while there's often a brutal edge to the delivery, there's also a considerable amount of attention paid to the melodic side.
The fusion style allows Carmine d'Annibale, the mind behind the project, to shift through a variety of speeds in short succession, slipping from the intensity of quick beatings into brooding downtempo action, and the flexibility of that aspect shades the other instrumentation as well. While the guitar often comes through in a droning grind, it's laced into the beats and bass with such deftness that the difficulty of assembling all the parts single-handedly can be easy to forget.
The production is, as might be expected of a one-person project, on the rougher side, but that suits the mood and energy of the music, for the most part. A little more separation of the instruments wouldn't be unwanted, but as it is, it effectively evokes the olden days of each of the constituent styles. All together, it's quite an enjoyable experiment, and one which I hope will see follow-up releases.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Altar of Betelgeuze, Amort, Battle Path, The Maledict, NEST


Saturday, March 09, 2019

Passing Time In Style...

Molior Superum - As Time Slowly Passes By... (2019)

We last heard from Molior Superum with their Electric Escapism EP back in 2014 (man, time flies), and half a decade later, they've returned with this full LP to follow their 2012 debut. Starting with the title track, a trim little piece of melody exploration, the band sets a tone of fanciful warmth and casual technical prowess, letting their deft finger-work and ear for tonal-rhythmic intersection guide the way. 
With the progression into “Att Födas Rostig”, things get a bit dirtier in flavor, as the guitar takes on a southern blues twang, making for an interesting pairing with the Swedish lyrics. The heavy rock cruising is kept light enough for some shredding to slip smoothly into place among the rowdy riffs, and that balance between tunefulness and a dirty bass end is developed in a variety of ways across the rest of the album.
While there's a lot of '70s hard rock influence to be heard in the songs, the band does a great job of putting a personal spin on it, finding ways of tweaking it into something that stands apart from most heavy rock acts of then and now. It's hard to pin down the specifics of that distinction, but part of it is just how fresh the songs feel. They don't get bogged down in the bass, but the lightness doesn't drift off into pop rockish cotton candy clouds, either. Whether incorporating vocals or going off on sprawling instrumental rides, Molior Superum make it clear that they kept developing their skills in the time between releases. 
 Infectiously fun and compelling (more than once, I found myself humming along to a song I was hearing for the first time), the songs ride a fine line of having clearly gone through lots of crafting while still holding a spontaneous air to their twists and shimmies.
At a fairly trim 37 minutes, the album is kept focused, energetic, and engaging, while also being long enough to keep a few secrets back from the initial listenings. While it's not set for release until March 29th, you can go ahead and order vinyl copies of the album, in a variety of colors, directly from Molior Superum's BandCamp page. As there's only 100 of each color pressed, you'll want to snag it fast, or be kicking yourself about missing it.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Deep Purple, Eternal Elysium, Hijo de la Tormenta, Mondo Drag, Mountain


Saturday, March 02, 2019

Perceptions Of Pain...

Il Vuoto - Vastness (2019)

With his debut album, released back in 2015, the one-man band of Il Vuoto served up a powerful concoction of atmospheric funeral doom, with the art, titles, and music coming together in impressive union. The follow-up album has finally arrived, and with its hour's worth of material spread over five tracks, it certainly makes for a worthy succession.
The band's orchestrator, Matteo Gruppi, puts care and consideration into every part of the album, and while the track titles have been made somewhat less theatrical (with the previous names including “I, Essence of Nothingness” and “Through Mirrors I Saw the Ghost of Me”), the comparative directness of titles such as “Weakness” and “Her Fragile Limbs” opens them up for more expansive story-telling. The lyrical approach follows a similar course of restraint, with the melancholic vulnerabilities they express meshing right into the dirge-like guitar tones and melodies of suffering.
While the drum-work rarely gets brought to the forefront, Gruppi does a great job of using it to reinforce and intensify the songs' rhythms. Likewise, the supporting synth textures are subtle, but present throughout the majority of the music, which moves through a nicely wide range of dynamics and moods over the course of the album, while retaining its sorrowful doom base. Closing out with a relatively short instrumental piece, “As the Whole World Failed”, Il Vuoto maintains his careful control over the emotional direction to the end. There's a lot to savor within the songs, and their large size is put to good use in furthering the moods, rather than just stretching to fill time. Well worth the wait, this album is well-suited for cold weather, or just for savoring some finely-made dark atmospheres. CD copies can be ordered from Hypnotic Dirge Records, while digital (and the rest of Il Vuoto's catalog) is up on his BandCamp page.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Descend Into Despair, Funerary, HellLight, Nonsun, Towards Atlantis Lights


Saturday, February 23, 2019

First Burning Rites...

Flesh Temple - Fire, Promise... (2019)

Making a solo debut with this EP, though the band was allegedly formed six years ago, Flesh Temple offer up three tracks of death-styled doom with a blackened rough edge. Leading with “Conduit”, a slow-burn menacer of rising anger, the EP brings a good amount of atmospherics to the table, and mixes its stylistic cocktail with an impressively slick fusion of the elements. The doom generally has the dominant position, with bass-lines chugging away, while the death metal inclinations of the guitar tend to find their volume down-mixed for easier meshing, though it gets pushed back up for some solo action. The black metal flavoring mostly comes through in the raw buzz of the guitar's tone, though a few portions find the drums kicking up into manic gear and skewing the ratio harder in its favor.
“Tears” slips in with a colder vibe, playing up the blackened doom in mood and song-writing while relegating the death to the drums, and to be honest, that was the balance which worked best, at least to my tastes. It felt big in scope, and resentful, seeming more like reflection on an accepted suffering than an outlash. After a crescendo finish, it's on to the closing title track, with a groaning melody on guitar easing into melancholy focus as the song fleshes out. An atmospheric break towards the end provides a suitably somber intensification, and the fade-out fits as an implicit promise of more to come. Solid stuff, well worth checking out if you've been looking for some wintry tunes.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Alraune, The Sleer, Thergothon, Trees, WarHorse


Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Fruited Rosary...

Caustic Casanova - Pantheon: Volume 3 (2018)

Continuing a series they've been running since 2014, Caustic Casanova pack the A-side of Pantheon: Volume 3 with three songs of their own devising to complement the cover of Weedeater's “God Luck and Good Speed” on the B-side. Leading with “Clown Butter”, the three-piece D.C. group blur together a number of styles, with punk, groove metal, stoner rock, and more evident in the twitchy riffs, funked-out bass-lines, and bumping drum-work. Keeping the track instrumental, the band twists and dips through enough nuttiness to pass as a lost Frank Zappa tune, while continually revving up the energy and pressure.
Carrying on from there with “Everyone's Goddamn Business”, CC shift into a heavier gear, something akin to a proggier cut from Kyuss' Welcome to Sky Valley, though the arrival of the dual vocals put my mind in the neighborhood of Acid King and general-purpose grunge. Carrying plenty of melodic jumps and fake-outs, the song runs through its duration before you can fully grasp everything it's doing, and dives from there right into the last of the EP's originals, “Stampede”. True to its name, the song rides up with a galloping riff and rising speed, pulling you along for the trip with an assortment of hooks and groove mutations.
A bit of banjo and fuzzy bass rumbling sets a suitable opening for the Weedeater cover, and despite the absence of Dixie's distinctive voice, CC do a great job of paying homage to the original while giving it their own coat of style. It's a little friendlier in mood and tone, and not just because of the cleaner vocals (though the growls are certainly present). The strings are a little warmer, the feedback less abrasive, and the guitar less choppy, but it all feels in line with the weird fun of the A-side's contents. Though it all comes together at just about twenty minutes of material, there's a lot to take in across the four tracks, and the band comes out sounding enthusiastic, inventive, and cool. Snag a copy on vinyl or digital; or, if you've got to have things on tape or CD, you can grab a collection of all three Pantheon releases (with an alternate version of “God Luck”) on either of those formats. In any event, do yourself a favor and check this crew out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Kola Turbo, Crown Larks, Frank Sabbath, Queen Crescent, Zombie Picnic


Saturday, February 09, 2019

Bizarre Parables and Spooky Psalms...

Sacred Monster - Worship the Weird (2019)

We last heard from Sacred Monster back in the days of 2015, with the two tracks of their sophomore EP, Monster Double Feature. Nearly a decade into the band's tenure, they're releasing their first full album, bearing eight tracks fusing groovy heavy metal with a broad range of horror influences and black/death metal-styled vocals. The riffs are fun and lively, the spikes of embellishment done with high style (check out the harmonized peaking in “The Wraith” when you get a chance), the rhythms both solid and fluid, and it's clear that the band had fun devising the assorted ways of communicating horror flavors and occurrences in musical form.
The melodic flavor of “Waverly Hills” (one of the tracks based on a horror story of the band's own devising) brings Ghost to mind, to an extent, but for the most part, it's hard to pull comparisons to other bands for the songs. You might think 'Oh, there's some Motorhead,' or 'That feels kind of Quiet Riot-ish,' but outside of the band leaning more towards '80s heavy metal than the more occult-flavored '70s groups, their influences seem too diverse to pin down. The guitar-work leads most of the songs, and the guitarist does a great job of coming up with ways to keep the character and approaches of his role fresh, going from bluesy to thrashy to old-school heavy metal on a dime. The rest of the band meshes into it superbly, ramping up and toning down as the tone demands, and the band as a whole does a great job of keeping consistent character going without tiring it out by riding one atmosphere through the full album. The full thing drops on March 1st, with digital, CD, and T-shirt versions available, so be sure to check it out if you've been looking for some hard-rocking metal with a nice splash of variety to it.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Below, Dr. Living Dead!, Lordi, Merlin, Pilgrim


Saturday, February 02, 2019

Shivers And Stairways...

OLDD WVRMS - Codex Tenebris (2019)

It's been a couple of years since OLDD WVRMS' last release, the EP-compiling Ritae, and in the time since that reorienting, they've worked up about an hour's worth of new material. Said hour is split into five tracks on Codex Tenebris, opening with “Ténèbres”, a mournful but hard-edged cruiser of a tune which neatly establishes the vibes of the album. Brooding bass, flexible drumming, and gnashing guitar are twisted through tempos ranging from moderate to swampy slow, and the riffs shimmer despite the grimy tonality that surrounds them. “A l'or, aux ombres et aux abîmes” follows, bringing a stiffer attitude and heavier crushing, but also a spookier atmosphere in the reverb-drenched melodies. The powerful riffs get a good workout here, bringing more of both tension and emotive regret, and making a nicely low-key nest for itself before “Misère & Corde” comes slamming in.
The midway track pushes harder into standard metal territory than the preceding tracks, but handles that shift with excellent poise, balancing the near-shredding portions with retreats into echoing doom-lit corridors of honed menace. With the next track, “La vallée des tombes”, there's a shift back into the slower morbidity, with a funeral doom-ish sort of tone study and permeating sadness, though it does raise a little prog flavor with a mutating rhythm passage, and kicks into hard gear towards the end.
Lastly, “Fléau est son âme” drifts even further into the murky melancholy, taking a couple of minutes to quietly meander before emerging into a solid melody. From there, it's a ~10-minute ride through rising pressures and unsettling atmosphere, with the band's handling of both serving to impress. There's not a weak song in the bunch, and the variety offers something for different listeners with different tastes. Pretty damn impressive, and well worth snagging once it drops on Cursed Monk Records come February 15th.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Hesperian Death Horse, Jupiterian, Lifeless Gaze, Sunwolf, Trees


Friday, February 01, 2019

Tar Pit Interview

Having just released their debut album, Tomb of Doom, the Portland-based group of Tar Pit specialize in doom metal with influences both modern and old-school, and the band's way with riffs, atmosphere, and flow made a great impression on us (you can check out our review right here).  The band was kind enough to give us some time and indulge our questions, letting us know the details behind the band's beginnings and where they plan to go from here.

The Burning Beard: Hi there, and thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us!  Why don't we start with a rundown of who's currently in the band? And what are the musical backgrounds for each of you?

Brandon: As of right now, there are just four of us in the band including myself on rhythm guitar, Mathew on vocals, Stephen on lead guitar, and Derek on drums.

As far as my own background in music, I’ve bounced around from multiple bands playing bass and guitar for various projects for the past 10 years. Oddly enough, I don't really listen to a whole lot of doom metal. I tend to listen to a lot of punk/hardcore, “grunge”, and old timey blues along with whatever else I picked up from my dad, step-dad and grandpas.

Mat: My only musical history I have is that I have played alto sax for about eight years, specializing in blues. I only started singing seriously like 4 years ago for this band. But I too tend to listen to more 'grunge' and '70s rock and roll.

Derek: I mainly listen to old school death metal and thrash.

Stephen: I’ve mostly played sludge and doom with a bit of punk/hardcore in high school.

TBB: Hayden Johnson amicably departed his position as bassist back in January. What are you looking for in the search to refill that role?

Brandon: Right now we are not in a hurry to find a replacement. It's unfortunate that Hayden ended up leaving the band, especially before the album dropped. All of us are on good terms, though, and Derek and I actually play in another band with Hayden, so we still get to make music together.

I think when the time comes to start searching for a new bassist for this band, we are going to look for someone who is passionate about the style and sound of the band and is able to contribute to the writing process as far as riffs and moving lines. Being able to put up with me is also a plus, haha.

TBB: What was the original 2014 line-up of Tar Pit like? Did that incarnation make it past song-writing/jam sessions to do any live shows?

Brandon: The original version of the band (at least from my point of view) consisted of Derek, Mathew and original guitarist Alex Stanley. I took part in the first few sessions as well, and that's when "Bruja" was written. I ended up leaving to pursue another band and after I left, Hayden joined the band as bassist. The band ended up dissolving shortly after due to secondary bands, and the fact that Tar Pit was originally a side project for various members. No live shows ever happened with that line-up.

TBB: Riffs are a big part of Tomb of Doom's songs, but the solos make a big impression, too. How hard was it to settle on where to insert those, and what were some of the flavors Stephen Hoffman had in mind when he was constructing the solos?

Brandon: I can't speak for Stephen on behalf of constructing solos, but as far as the arrangement of riffs and where to put leads, I tend to be very vocal about the way I’m hearing the songs in my head and how I would like things to go. I can be pretty annoying to work with, but I’m very picky about how I want things to sound when it comes to the big picture.

Stephen: The reasoning behind where the solos ended up varies depending on the song. Some of the songs pre-dated my time with the band, so there was a certain element of trying to maintain some continuity with earlier demos. In general though, we placed the solos and leads where we thought it would most help break up a riff, and keep things lively, or to elaborate melodically on a particular riff that we wanted to draw out. As for the solos themselves, I try to keep things nice and bluesy, but the occasional minor-key melody or sloppy punk bit will come through.

TBB: What were the song-writing sessions like for Tomb of Doom? Were there any songs that changed significantly as a result of how they handled in live shows? And for those not in the Portland area, how many other songs does Tar Pit have that haven't yet made their way onto studio recordings?

Brandon: The sessions began in early March of 2017, when the band decided to regroup and I stepped in as the guitarist. The first song I wrote was what ended up being "Sauin". Mat and I would get in a room together and I would have him play drums. We would pretty much just drink and hash out ideas and then show them to Derek and Hayden. If they dug it, we worked it out. I used "Bruja" as the template for my writing style when I first joined, and tried to build our sound from there.

"Tomb of Doom" was written shortly after, and at this point we recruited Alex Huston as lead guitarist. We recorded the demo, played a show with Weedeater and Telekinetic Yeti, and then Huston left. We started looking for a new lead player after that, and Stephen filled that spot. Stephen had already written "Rune" for a solo project he was working on and we basically hijacked the song, made some tweaks to it, and made it flow with the other songs already written.

"Capra Nocturnus" was the first song Stephen and I had written together from various riffs he and I had lying around. That song started off a little rough, but I think it came out great once we figured out what direction to take it. We’ve written other songs, but most of those have been dissected and rewritten.

TBB: How would you say the revived line-up of Tar Pit has been received at live shows so far?

Brandon: Live has been great. This is the first band I have personally played with that has gotten to open for bigger acts and actually play in front of a bigger crowd. We don't really book too many shows. We just wait for something we really want to be a part of to come through and try and get an opening slot if so. It's been great and the turnouts are always packed.

TBB: I really dig the cover art for Tomb of Doom, the heavy texturing and use of light do a fantastic job of evoking that subterranean feel. Where did the art come from, and how did you settle on that as the fit for your first album?

Brandon: The art work came from my good friend Joey Rivera. He and I used to play in a grungy type band together and during the few years that we played, I had no idea the dude could paint. He posted some stuff online and Mat had a concept in mind for the album art, so I approached him about it. I think it came out great. The dude really nailed it.

TBB: How would you describe the atmosphere you aimed for with the album's songs?

Brandon: I always tell everyone that I want to write really dark, evil, sludgy sounding stuff with proto elements. So I hope that's what we captured, haha.

TBB: Do you feel like that same atmosphere will stick around for the next album, or are you thinking of going for something different at that point?

Brandon: I think that the next album will reflect the headspace we are in when it is written. It's hard to say, 'This is how it should be,' and then write something under those restrictions. I'm sure it will be similar in style to Tomb of Doom, but more polished, hopefully heavier, and as far as technicality and musicianship, better.

TBB: At this point in time, are you feeling like Tar Pit will head right into another album, or will there maybe be an EP and/or split release before then?

Brandon: I'm thinking a split is our next move, or a two to three song EP. There is definitely zero chance of us doing a full-length this year, especially with Derek and I preparing for our first full-length with our other band.

TBB: In the case of an eventual split or two, are there any particular bands, local or international, that you feel would be a good fit with Tar Pit?

Brandon: I can't seem to think of very many at the moment. Glasghote is a really cool sludge band from Portland, and I would like to do something with them down the road. I'm also a big fan of Brothers of the Sonic Cloth (Seattle), and I would shit myself if we were able to do something with them.

TBB: How do your families feel about Tar Pit?

Brandon: I don't think my family gives a shit. I'm sure they don't understand it and think I need to grow up, haha. Derek's parents, on the other hand, are super supportive, his whole family [is], actually. I don't think they've missed a show yet.

Mat: My family doesn’t really agree with what I’m singing about, haha, but my brother has been really supportive. He’s been to every show and has become our official unofficial photographer.

TBB: You've got cassette copies up for order, digital is a go, and CDs are in the works; any hopes for a vinyl release of Tomb of Doom at this point?

Brandon: If we can find a label to finance it or cough up the cash ourselves, then yes, we will put it out on vinyl.

TBB: Will we be seeing any other Tar Pit merch in the near future?

Brandon: In the very near future.

TBB: Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?

Brandon: Snag a copy of the tape while we still have them, and thanks for all the support and positive feedback!

TBB: Thanks for your time and music, and be sure to let us know when your next release is ready to be heard!

~ Gabriel

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Beginning The Rites...

Tripping Haze Ceremony - Demo 2018 (2018)

Coming to us from Malaysia, the trio of Tripping Haze Ceremony (you know, good ol' THC) have assembled a three-track demo to introduce themselves to the world. Starting off with the intro track of “Sativa's Trip”, they lay down an atmosphere of psychedelic doom, thick on the sustain and reverb, running up one riff for the length of its minute and change. From there, it's on into the considerably larger “Panhead Dream”, sparked off with a nice conversational sample. The flavors of the intro are brought back for expansion, with a firm central riff anchoring the slow-moving grooves. Vocals are effects-treated and pushed to a distant sound, merging well with the fuzzy groans of the bass, while the drums beat out the slow pace while finding time for some extra spice in the fills. A chill but snazzy guitar solo helps lead things to the song's finish, and then it's on into the last tune, “Night of the Damned”.
The third track again makes use of a solid spoken sample, then delves its way into another thick riff, picking up steam as it rolls into action. The vocals return with their echoing evaporated feel, giving things a nice brain-tingling haze, and the bass keeps on rocking its thing. Though understandably short, being a demo, it still does a good job of setting out the band's style and skills, and there's enough psych doom goodness for fans of that flavor to sink their teeth into and chew a few times. Check it out for yourself, groove on it, and if you happen to handle a label, go ahead and get in touch with these guys if you like what you hear.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Cough, Eternal Elysium, Groggy, Humbaba, Hypnochron


Saturday, January 19, 2019

Emerging From Cold Depths...

Tar Pit - Tomb of Doom (2019)

Following a few line-up adjustments and a hard-to-find demo, the Portland-based quintet of Tar Pit have emerged with their debut album, boasting about forty minutes of hot-blooded doom metal across its five tracks. Drawing from the late-'70s/early-'80s vibes of basements, dungeons, and caverns, along with the inclination to build expansive narratives, the group tempers the quirks of yesteryear with some firm structuring, focused production handling, and a meaner demeanor. The tracks flow into each other with fine style, the grooves are deep and dirty, and the guitar solos, when they arise, are both vivacious and suitably downcast.
As the album goes on, it really gets its hooks into you, aided by the clever positioning of the tracks; they start out with the longest song, then gradually shorten them down to the middle, then grow them back out on the way to the end. It's a neat way of accelerating the pace without sacrificing any of the weight, and seeing it put to use on a first album impresses further how much potential this band has. There's nothing to detract from Tomb of Doom's power as an album in its own right, though, with no sign of the fumbles or self-conscious second-guessing that so regularly pop up to pull down early works. If anything, my complaint would be that it feels a little short, but at the same time, that helps them keep it trim and punchy.
While I'll be sour that I won't have a chance to see these guys live anytime soon, that's somewhat salved by the knowledge that a copy of the album is on its way. Check them out for yourself, snag a copy of the cassette pressing if that's a format you rock (only 100 copies made), and keep your ears perked for more to come from Tar Pit. In the musical world, at least, 2019 is starting off on a good note.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Below, Blood Farmers, Goya, Merlin, Saint Vitus


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Turning Through Time...

Frozen Planet.... 1969 - The Mystery Wheel (2019)

Spawned in the recording sessions for their 2017 album Electric Smokehouse, Frozen Planet.... 1969's The Mystery Wheel is a single 26-minute jam taking listeners through the riffs and grooves filling the Australian band's heads at the time. Heavy and psychedelic, with swanky guitar wonking it up with hard-plugging bass and funky drumming sliding about the place, the jam keeps a wonderful unpredictability alive for its run without slipping into aimlessness or wankery. Maybe the most impressive part of it is the sense of how well-tuned to each other's ideas the band members are, with one laying down the opener of a new tangent and the others near-immediately hooking into supporting meshes. Slips into chiller territory handled well, with the quiet mood studies bearing a goosebump-inducing intensity you wouldn't necessarily expect from an improvisational session, but there you have it. Between the slick grooves, heady psych pumps, talent show-casing, and staunch coolness, it's a little chilling to imagine that this piece of work could have remained tucked away in the band's vault. Thankfully, now that it's out in the light of day, FP69 fans have an extra piece of excellence to enjoy. And if you're new to the band, it's not a bad place to start, as long as you recognize that you're jumping into the deep end with them.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Deep Purple, Groggy, Iron Butterfly, Mondo Drag, Stonerror


Saturday, January 05, 2019

Setting Down Roots...

Withered Fist - This is My Mountain (2019)

Starting off 2019 with the release of their debut EP, the Irish two-piece of Withered Fist brings three hefty tracks of melodic doom metal to bear. Starting off with the title track, they make it clear that their heaviness won't be compromised by the melodic emphasis, with instrumentalist Justin Maloney (formerly of Two Tales of Woe and Acrid Nebula) grinding on the strings of his bass until it's all too easy to imagine blood seeping from his fingers. The percussion doesn't aim for anything too fancy, but provides a perfectly suitable dirge-paced beat to the glowering atmosphere, and the strains of guitar give a slight wash of psychedelic or sludgy flavoring to the affair.
“The Dread” picks up from there, moving to a rolling beat which plays up the drums a bit more, and giving things a little more heavy rock flavor while keeping the metal aspects firmly in place. A workhorse of a main riff keeps things moving along with good fluidity, and the stylish big finish will undoubtedly make for a great live track. Lastly, “The Journey” clocks in with over ten minutes of power, riding highs and lows of energy while getting its hooks in, and showing a more tender side to the band with the work of vocalist Carl King (TtoW). It all makes for a strong debut with good repeat value, so check them out if you've been looking for some fresh heavy music that avoids easy pigeon-holing.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Green Druid, Headless Kross, The Sleer, Valkyrie, Wounded Giant