Saturday, January 30, 2021

Outrunning The Imminent...

Cortége - Chasing Daylight (2021)

Having been around for about half a decade, the Austin-based duo of Cortége have put out a good half-dozen releases. With the sci-fi flavor of their presentation, and the doomed Western vibe to the music, it's tempting to compare them to the KC-based Merlin, of Christ Killer fame. But with this new two-track EP, coming together at just over a quarter of an hour, the band clearly shows their own distinctively Texas-sun-scorched character, with morbidity and melancholy never entirely deprived of stylish swagger.

Starting off with some tone-setting engine cranking and radio-tuning (including reports of a Texas-sized meteor), Cortége then slam into a huge and moody funeral stomp, shift gears into a dirge-like gloom, and rumbles on from there. Despite the rowdiness of the opening, a considerable part of the song is focused on drifting tones and slow riff grooving, simply relishing the details of the instrumental swamp they're exploring. It's like a mix of the classic Italian film music for low-budget but high-ambition flicks in the western and horror genres, fused around dramatic and goosebump-raising foci.

The break into the second half squeals through on rough tires, but carries listeners smoothly into deeper and darker audio territory, somehow almost somber in its bar-twang guitar and boot-step percussion. As much as it tends to hang onto one riff for a while, the musicians coax an amazing amount of nuanced characterization from the wide-spaced clangs and chords. It helps that they're willing to experiment with instruments, bringing keyboards and bells to prominence alongside the usual doom metal bass/drums/guitar. All together, it's a very impressive EP, and a concise, compelling argument for the band's skills across an open range. If you haven't checked the band out before, this makes for an excellent intro; and if you have, it's a welcome reminder of just how damn good they are.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Broughton's Rules, Farflung, Frozen Planet....1969, Strato's, Tumbleweed Dealer

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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Pieces Come Apart...

Runtuh - Dissolution (2021)

From our friends in StoneDulu Productions (home of Ksyatriya and Mind Reader) comes this debut album from a new project of theirs, the duo of Runtuh. With StoneDulu stalwart Trishay J. Trada on guitars and vocals, and Shahab Faisal on the drums, the two have tackled not just a concept album for their first release, but one which is formed as a single piece split into quarters.

The first of those, “Dissolution I – Alienation”, comes into being with some echoing strums of the guitar, soon shaped into chords and overlaid tones, though the pacing is kept slow and steady for a good while. As the drums roll in, along with some light cymbal work, the song soon shifts into full heavy gear, amping up its volume, layers, and intensity. Clean and rough vocals both get put to use in the building of the song's structure, putting the harmony and dissonance to work not just there, but in the rumble of amp fuzz and the harmonics as well. Hard beats from the drums go right up against the shredding guitar, getting things wild just by the midpoint (did I mention that the opening track is 20 minutes long?).

“Dissolution II – Transformation” brings things back down from that rowdy release, spending a couple of minutes on somber, clearly-voiced grief in the lyrics, while the instruments are pared down to match. The downcast mood is maintained through the song, though the bass and reverb focus return, and it stands strong as perhaps the most 'single-like' track on the album. “Dissolutions III – Revolution” opens with an audio sample from the TV series Sacred Games, before launching into a mournful drift on heavy doom pulses. As “Dissolution IV – Reprise (Unplugged)” comes around, the allegedly acoustic nature of the track does nothing to diminish its assertive gloom, with drummer and guitarist taking a meditative route to the finish.

The album is impressive, and consistently enjoyable, in that special sort of enjoyment earnest doom metal has. The jumbo-sized songs are used to keep growing and exploring the songs, and never seem to find the band caught in a non-purposeful retread. As one of the numerous projects TJT has his hand in, it's a mystery when we'll see the next release from this group, but this first release has more than enough meat on its bones to keep listeners occupied until part two rolls around.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Alltar, Goya, HellLight, Sepulcros, Ufomammut


Runtuh - Dissolution II - Transformation (320 kbps)


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Paving The Way...

Cavaran - Bulldozer (2020)



Though they've been putting in work on demos and live shows since 2014, this is the first studio release from the Belgian power trio of Cavaran, and it shines bright enough to warrant the wait. If the energy shown here is anything like their live shows, it'll give you an extra reason to resent the pandemic. And, while it did come out last year, it's finally receiving a physical release on CD, thanks to Polderrecords.

Leading off with “Walter”, the group immediately shows a stylish approach to instrumental stoner metal, blending tasty noodling with hard riffs, and swinging between the two grooves as the mood takes them. Some melodic nods here and there could be an indication of the band's roots, or just a quick goof – where would you place a couple bars of “Careless Whisper”?

As they continue, with “Dino” cranking up the guitar acrobatics, the rhythmic compulsions rise to greater heights, and the drummer gets to shine in the breakdowns. Things go higher still with “Holy Grail”, ripping through progressions, playing with feedback, and working a tight and deft central rhythm that'll be hooked in your head for days. “Wörner” takes penultimate placement, settling back down into more of a bluesy mode, and putting its status as the EP's longest track to good service as it turns out some truly sweet melodic maneuvering. Lastly, “Bigfoot” brings it home with a percussion-driven trip into prog-seasoned delight, twisting and flexing the song in a new way virtually every measure.

Unlike a lot of instrumental stoner groups, whether their feet are planted more in rock or metal territory, Cavaran resist the impulse to drop in audio samples. As much fun as those can be, the omission does let them stand in a more professional light, without having to worry about weird sample clearance coming back to bite them. And, thankfully, their song-crafting is more than strong enough to make up for it, coming off fantastically no matter which mood, tempo, or style they tackle. Plug this one into your ears ASAP, and let's hope a vinyl version isn't too far off!

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Rooster, Alltar, Bomg, Major Kong, Stonerror

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Cavaran - Holy Grail (320 kbps)


Saturday, January 09, 2021

Blunt-Tip Force...

Space Weed - Sorry We're Stoned (2021)

Hailing from the metal-storied region of Florida, this group's debut demo runs quick but effectively, with three tracks coming together at a little under a quarter-hour of music; given their proud theming, and the title of the last track, a quarter seems just right. With a title and cover art suggesting that they're fond followers of record label The Company, and their respective stable of artists, the demo cranks up to a ripping start with “Muskrat”, a track which practically throbs with bass reverb over the percussion. Their Bandcamp citing of Melvins, Electric Wizard, EHG, and Weedeater as influences feels honest enough, as the track follows one big main riff through its turns, letting the tone and vibes set the flow.

Production is rough, as you might expect from a demo, sounding authentically garage-y and raw, but as they follow that intro up with “Laser Rust Animation” the tone and clarity pep up considerably, with a snarly guitar line balancing out the broad-waved bass fuzz, the drums kicking up the tempo, and crashing cymbals spiking through the rumble. Some chunky breakdowns show an instrumental sense of humor with the push and retraction of the chords, while a slowed-down nod to Slayer's “Raining Blood” gives a brush of menace to the affair. Throughout, they show chops with pulling listeners into headbang mode, and while the playing threatens to tip over in a couple spots, they keep it just this side of upright.

Lastly, “Quarter Pounder” slows things back down, while keeping most of the energy of the preceding track intact. It's a bit sludgy, a bit doomy, but then their sample kicks in (and if you're not grinning upon hearing it, you need to brush up on your cinema classics), and the grooves take over indiscriminately. Altogether, a promising taste of things to come from this crew, with a nice dose of the fun we could use to recover from 2020.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of: Corpse Light, Dopethrone, Hypnochron, Lifeless Gaze, Tar Pit

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Space Weed - Quarter Pounder (320 kbps)