Saturday, May 29, 2021

Turning The Cards...

Hermit's Weedsom - As Above So Below (2021)

Making their return about half a year after the release of their first album, with a follow-up that's about twice as long as the debut, the French duo of Hermit's Weedsom are clearly aiming high and keeping their momentum up. Coming together at just over an hour across its eight tracks, the album works with an instrumental cocktail of heavy rock and prog metal, with some stoner dabs to keep things warmly casual.

Leading off with “Wheel of Fortune”, the band works a tight groove, spinning it out into elaborations, riding those out, and circling back to the original riff with some new twists to incorporate. Sharp guitar-work and tasty tones mesh well with the hold-it-down and flare-it-up styles of the drums, which pack plenty of punch in the mix. As the band continues through the album, each song gets its own focus and flavor, from the moody sorrow of “End of Cycle” to the inward-spiraling “Broken Chariot”, the craggy menace of “Emperor's Fall”, and on. Not a disappointment to be heard among them, and the band keeps things inventive from start to finish.

The track titles are all nice and evocative, and loaded with Tarot references, complementing the emotive performances of their songs while providing a sense of occult mystery to the whole package. While some may have issues with taking the whole album in one go (the shortest song is just two seconds short of seven minutes), if you've got a spare hour to sit and soak it in, you'll find the time spent to be well rewarded. Here's hoping that some savvy label signs them up for a vinyl release of these tunes; if they do, expect them to be snapped up fast. Even if this doesn't get a vinyl pressing anytime soon, get on over to the BandCamp page and grab yourself a CD or download of the album, and save it for a day when you've got time to savor some excellent music.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Rooster, Frozen Planet....1969, Necro (Brazil), Porcupine Tree, Weedpecker

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Hermit's Weedsom - Broken Chariot (320 kbps)


Saturday, May 22, 2021

Studies In Decomposition...

Coffin Lurker - Foul and Defiled (2021)

This is the first album from a two-man Dutch supergroup of dark music veterans. Bringing together Maurice De Jong (probably best known for Gnaw Their Tongues, though there's at least a dozen other projects to his name) and Rene Aquarius (likewise prolific, and half of Dead Neanderthals), this is billed as an experiment in pushing the qualities of doom metal to extremes. With the album coming together at just over half an hour in length, it's implicit that to meet that goal, these are going to be some dense songs.

Opening track “Crypt within a Crypt” gets things off to a suitable start, with an enveloping rumble of fuzzy bass joined by low, guttural vocals. The song operates mostly as an audio cocoon, shrouding the listener in morbid ambience, with shredding guitar lines mixed down to become another textural component in the murky din. “Of Suffering” continues in much the same vein, though with some of the textures changed up, and a different rhythm to the massive rumbling. The drums also get more play in this song, though they're suitably muffled, adding to the subterranean feel.

“Suspended Animation” carries on the oppressive atmosphere, with grinding guitar feedback elevated a bit in clarity, and the vocals groaning with more fervor. There's also a shift into what amounts to a bass solo, with clanging piano and drum counterpointing, for one of the more impactful passages in the album. “Sacrificial Chalice” turns up the tempo of the rumbling bass, making it a throbbing presence in the stereo field, and “Cadaverous Odor” brings things to a close with a big riff carrying it along.

While it's not quite as confrontational and unprecedented as the press releases might have it, there's still a lot to respect with the ends to which the duo have pushed this music. It's incredibly heavy, almost to a tangible degree (assuming you've got your speakers turned up loud enough), and the grime is virtually palpable. If you find yourself wanting to just sink into a pit of auditory doom, this should punch your ticket.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Cult Of Occult, Evaporated Sores, Heavydeath, Leechfeast, Meth Drinker


Coffin Lurker - Of Suffering (320 kbps)


Saturday, May 15, 2021

Anticipation And Dissolution...

Devastating Light - I Have Already Failed You (2021)

On the debut album from the Finnish band of Devastating Light, the group delivers a concept album mixing doom, sludge, and post-metal styles, built around the story of a man becoming a father, and struggling to exist in the world that surrounds him. Heavy concepts, but the band brings the music up to the level of quality to handle them. Split into three parts (titled, aptly, “Part One”, “Part Two”, and “Part Three”), the album flows with sorrowful grace and a direction to its anger.

“Part One” is almost entirely instrumental, moving from one slow and meditative riff to the next while keeping production and instrumentation pared down to a sharp and chilly minimalism. There's a bit of blackened lo-fi quality to things, with the buzzy strumming of the guitar over the sound of burning leaves, for instance. Despite the apparent simplicity of the melodies, they're emotionally affecting, with subtle twists to their progressions which slip them in even further. As “Part Two” takes over, the vocals arrive in the form of a down-mixed howl, evoking the sense of the singer being buried beneath the weight of the instruments. It works on a narrative level, too, adding another quality by which to be impressed to this debut release. On top of that, it's worth noting here that this is a one-man band, with everything “played, recorded, mixed and mastered by” musician Teemu Toikka.

Following the emotional turns and curves of the music, with its shifts through a wide range of dynamics and techniques, makes this a compelling and harrowing journey, if you're willing to sink yourself into the experience and listen along closely. Fantastic stuff, and an amazing start for the band.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Dead Existence, Dirge, Endless Floods, Odradek Room, Stonerror


Devastating Light - Part Two (320 kbps)


Saturday, May 08, 2021

Crumbled By Existence...

 Crust - Stoic (2021)

On the last album from this long-running Russian crew, the band operates at high quality in a blending of metal styles. Influences from black and death metal can be heard creeping into the base, which is largely a mix of doom and sludge. Unsurprisingly, the music is incredibly moody, and capable of shifting from aggression to withdrawn brooding on a dime.

Leading with the title track, the band establishes their MO in clear terms, and expands on it in intriguing ways through the album's remainder. From the melodic atmospherics of “Watching Emptiness” to the acoustic interlude of “Willow Forest”, threads of drone in “A Blind Man in Darkness”, and the sample/scream interplay of “Darkness Becomes Us”, Crust show themselves to be well-versed in ways of keeping the heavy music engaging and varied.

The production is well-suited to their work, letting the bass end swell into an encompassing presence, while the higher register has an interesting ceiling in the mix, providing the guitars and cymbals with a touch of compression. The gentler parts of the song-writing are integrated in natural ways, letting the band fade from one harsher section to another while keeping it impactful, and when they're in hard gear, it comes off as consistently genuine and earnestly delivered. Though it can be taken as just a wash of dark metal, there's more than enough small details worked into the song-writing to reward careful listening as well. Excellent from start to finish.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Dead Existence, Fleshpress, Malsten, Mudbath, O.D.R.A.

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Crust - Desert (320 kbps)