Saturday, June 19, 2021

Into The Cosmos...

Planet of the Dead - Pilgrims (2021)

Following up on their debut album from February of last year, the New Zealander quartet of Planet Of The Dead have made quick turn-around to bring us this sophomore LP. Filled with references to sci-fi hallmarks like Alien, Dune, and RoboCop in the track titles and lyrics, with asteroid-drifting art for the album cover, the band makes no bones about their inspirations and pop culture fondnesses.

Opening with “Gom Jabbar”, the band takes a few moments for spaceship engine noise feedback to set an atmosphere before crashing into full sludge banger mode. Confident guitar crunch and flavorful bass-lines join the cymbal-heavy percussion and deep growls from the vocalist, coming together as a tight sludge package. The rest of the album doesn't drift far from that initial MO, but each song does get some tweaks to help it stand out. For semi-title-track “Pilgrim”, for instance, there's more of a groove focus, while “Nostromo” gets some slowed breaks, “The Sprawl” lets in some tasty soloing, and so on.

For those looking for sludge with overt sci-fi flavoring, news of PotD's continued output should come as welcome news. The band's willingness to switch to doomier slowness for breakdowns serves the spacy settings well, and a scattering of opening samples from the referenced movies add an extra touch of fun. With all the color pressings of their previous album already sold out (and one of the special pressings for this one already in the same boat), you'll want to act fast if you prefer your sludge on wax. Whether the band keeps up their annual schedule, or spaces the next one out a bit more, they're certainly becoming big players in a niche sub-genre.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Gallileous, giant gutter from outer space, Space God Ritual, Tides of Sulfur, Voidlurker

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Planet of the Dead - Escape from Smith's Grove (320 kbps)


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Stellar Travel Report...

SpaceMetal - Highness (2021)

It's been a while since we last heard from the NOLA-based group of SpaceMetal; their last LP, Shroud, dropped back in 2018, and it's been fairly quiet on their digital front since then. Now, thankfully, the group has returned with another batch of songs, this time in honestly-titled EP form, to reassure the world that their heaviness is alive and well.

First of the EP's four tracks is “Stare”, an eight-minute cruiser which plays around with acoustic guitar and spoken-word vocals for an intro before diving into the deep bass and big-body riffs which make up its majority. With a wizard standing at the center of the lyrics, the band keeps a friendly vibe going through the crunch of the tunes, and the strong flow makes the eight minutes fly by. “Cry” follows, working a twistier main riff loaded with earworm hooks. Playing with rhythm change-ups and brandishing big guitar chords, the band manages to make this song feel just as full (if not more so) as the eight-minute track, despite running three minutes shorter.

The title track opens up the EP's second half, ratcheting up the psychedelic traces with some echoing vocal effects and more sedate guitar work. The drums get to come out a bit more in this one, flexing on the cymbal emphasis and experimenting with the fills mid-measure. Lastly, “The Seed” holds on to the psych touches while bringing back the acoustic guitar from the very start of the EP, providing a nice cohering element while wrapping things up. All in all, while it runs just under half an hour, there's enough depth to the songs to let listeners dive right down while it plays, and come out feeling not just that their time and attention was well-spent, but that there's more to be heard next time they spin it. Grab it for yourself once it releases June 26th, or just head over to the BandCamp now to stream it ahead of time.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Attalla, Dead Hand, Tar Pit, Wizard Cult, Wizard Smoke

SpaceMetal - Cry (320 kbps)


Saturday, June 05, 2021

Weight Of A Heart...

Bong-Ra - Antediluvian (2021)

While Bong-Ra is best known for decades of work in the breakcore style, back in 2016, the one-man band experimented with doom metal, on the two-track Palestina release. Half a decade later, musician Jason Köhnen is taking a deeper run at the style, bringing together about half an hour's worth of material across four songs.

Opening with “Kheper – Pharoah's Serpent” (sic), the album's ten-minute opener operates with delicate female vocals over kicks of drums, long-reverbed waves of bass, crashes of cymbals, and squeals of feedback. Though most of the song takes a dirge-like tempo, there are outbreaks of drum frenetics, which add to the overall feel of churning currents moving deep beneath the surface. “Amun – Hidden Chambers” follows, taking its seven minutes to operate in much the same arrangement, but with some drifting piano and increased drum activity spurring things on, and the female vocals swapped out for some male groaning.

Precession of the Equinoxes” leads into the second half of the album, still more drum-driven than the preceding tracks, and more dramatic with the impacts and contrasts. The female vocals return, though they're all but drowned out by the crashing percussion, and we actually get something in the way of a riff from the down-tuned guitar presence. Lastly, “Aton – Mind Machine” follows up on that by working a distinct rhythm out of the elements in play, keeping the drums relatively concrete while the other instruments swirl around them.

Intriguingly atmospheric from start to finish, there's no denying that this album is the result of a musician wanting to push the boundaries, not just with their own talents, but also with the musical style they've chosen to play. Though there's a lot to remind listeners of Godflesh's industrial doom, the more abstracted nature of Bong-Ra's approach leans things hard into funeral doom territory, with the complementary Egyptian themes of the titles adding their own twist to things. One of those albums to put on for the purpose of letting yourself sink into the music.

~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Dirge, Godflesh, Fleshpress, Mudslide, Ommadon


Bong-Ra - Aton - Mind Machine (320 kbps)