Friday, 31 July 2015

WITCH FYRE ~ FFOBR?

A while ago Bandcamp reviewer and Doomed and Stoned blog contributor Paul Rote coined the term FFOBR (female fronted occult blues rock), a term he came up with to describe a current trend (and long may it continue) among bands of the stoner/doom and occult genre to turn to the female voice for their vocal colouring. Witch Mountain, Royal Thunder and to some extent the legendary Acid King have all paved the way for those of the fairer sex to get up there, strut their stuff and show to those that think a woman's voice has no place in rock music that they are as good, and in some cases better, than their male counterparts. The latest addition to this, ever growing, list of ladies doing it for themselves is Samantha Cram, the explosive vocalist of Rhode Island's Whisky Fyre.
Less blues orientated than a lot of the FFOBR bands Whisky Fyre nonetheless deserve to be heard, as evidenced on their self-titled and self funded EP now available over at Bandcamp

Whiskey Fyre (the EP) is a marvellous amalgamation of heavy metal riffology, infectious occult rock grooves and gritty stoner fuzz  all topped off with Cram's impassioned and emotive vocals. The three guys behind that voice, Brian Rice, Tom Cat and Michael Colantonio, create, between them, a sonic maelstrom of heavy grooviness, shifting time signatures as if they were furniture and seamlessly moving from one glorious riff to another, never losing the intensity and laying down thick, syrupy grooves of metal perfection. Over this sonic riff fest Cram's voice wails, croons and growls and gives Whisky Fyre a fragile edginess  that may have been lost had the vocal been that of a testosterone fuelled male.
The female voice in metal/rock music is like Marmite ( a UK yeast product that uses the slogan "you either love it or hate it"), some will accept it, some will love it and others won't give it the time of day, but if you find yourself somewhere in the middle of those views then I urge you to give Whisky Fyre a try... you might be surprised.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Catch the SPACE EXPRESS with the Czech Republic's /\ / LAMBDA

Got to admit to some confusion here as on Bandcamp "Space Express"is credited to /\ but when you delve deeper and take a look at the bands line-up they collectively go under the name of Lambda. Things get further mixed up when you notice that they are refered to as /\ / Lambda on their Facebook page. So for the purposes of this review I will refer to them as Lambda

Comprising of Tomáš Zimmerman - guitar,  Václav Ruttkay - bass,   Filip Faschingbauer - guitar and Matěj Kräussl - drums, Lambda are from the Czech Republic and deal in a style of music that I suppose could be described as post-stoner, a sound that sits somewhere between the experimental krautrock of Colour Haze and the more guitar orientated psych of Earthless. Blending these two styles together the band have created their own unique sound, a sound which is displayed to  startling effect on this their debut EP "Space Express".
 The bedrock of Lambda's sound is the heavy (but not brutal) rhythms created by the backline of Ruttkay and Kräussl whose sometimes tight hard rock, sometimes loose funky rhythm work lays a solid foundation on which the two guitarists can riff and solo to their hearts content. Faschingbauer and Zimmerman compliment each other perfectly whether it's laying down some funky wah or ripping a dirty fuzzed up riff both guitarists understand their place in the music, duelling but never trying to outdo each other, painting sonic portraits from their six string palettes.
"Murder In The Zen Garden" is the only non-instrumental on "Space Express" and includes a superb vocal from Black Velvet Suicide's David Kaplin and includes the immortal line "Mother Nature... she created stoner rock"...... says it all really.


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

THREE EYES LEFT ~ New album "ASMODEUS"

Italian doom trio Three Eyes Left slipped into my life in 2011 via their EP "Non Method As Method, No Limits As Limit" a wonderful two tracker full of heavy doom soaked riffage, dark angular rhythms and clean throaty vocals. In 2013 the band released "La Danse Macabre" their first full album, crisper and more polished than the previous release "La Danse Macabre" showed a band that were improving  both in  songwriting and musical skill and a band with a bright future. We are now well into 2015 and Three Eyes Left have just released their latest opus "Asmodeus"

"Asmodeus" is, in my opinion, the bands best recording to date, an album that once again shows that this is not a band willing to just sit on its laurels but a band who are willing to push forward yet still remain true to its roots. From the filthy opening riff of "Beyond The Mountain" to the vocal that closes final track "Trident"everything about "Asmodeus" reeks of class. This is a refined doom, an almost alternative doom, a doom that nods its head to the past but has its feet firmly placed in the stonerized grooves of today.

 Maic Evil's vocals, right through the album, are delivered with a controlled clean fury, every syllable dripping with passionate power while his guitar solos scorch and his riffs burn, spewing from his fretboard with fuzzy furiosity. The rhythm combo of Andrew Molten (bass) and K Luther Stern (drums) are not just there to keep time, their powerhouse grooves swell the dark doomy sound filling in the gaps with deep booming four string and percussive thunder,pushing the bands sound to unbelievable heights. Together the three members have created an album that seeps into your inner-core filling your soul and raising the hairs on the back of your neck, sending shivers down your spin. "Asmodeus" is in short KILLER!
Going by the release dates of their EP's and albums it seems like Three Eyes Left like to do things in two year cycles so if that is the case I can't wait for 2017.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

PANTANUM ~ Brazilian doomster trio release "Volume 1"

Big things are happening in South America regarding the "underground" music scene, bands plying their trades in the fields of psych, stoner and doom seem to be popping up every other week. Lately I have been listening to bands from Peru, Chile and as far down as Argentina, all quite different and all of varying levels of musical skill and production quality  but all with a passion and love for the music they are creating. Today, thanks to an e-mail from a member of the band, I am now grooving to Brazilian doomsters Pantanum and their recent release "Volume 1"

"Volume 1" is an astonishing recording that mixes heavy doom riffage with touches of psychedelic metal colouring but what sets these tunes apart is the weird and wonderful warblings from vocalist and bassist Francisco Gusso. Anyone who is familiar with, Spanish doomers, Misty Grey's vocalist Bea and her anguished witchy wails will immediately find a comparison in Gusso's demonic warlock sucking on helium vocal tone. He sneers, snarls and chants his way through the six songs on offer here, bringing an air of malevolent evil to the already dark doomy grooves. Pantanum are not a one man band though and on tunes like "Electric High" and "Sonar" the band show that as well as being able to lay down the doom they can also stretch out and experiment. All the way through "Volume 1"  Stresser's guitar soars and swoops, ripping scintillating solos and tasteful licks from his fretboard as well as laying down some fuzzilicious riffage.  Apart from vocal duties Gusso also holds down the bottom end with majestic bass runs and thundering deep lines, locking in tight with Silvario's drums, the drummer power-housing around his kit on the heavy stuff and laying out with delicate percussive touches on the softer psychedelic passages. Together these three guys make a noise that although having its roots in the doom genre still manages to sit just a little outside of the box.... and it's a noise you should hear.

For those of you out there who have a love of good dark riff laden psych and like their vocals a bit off the wall and different then check out Pantanum's, weirdly wonderful Brazilian doom.

Monday, 27 July 2015

SIMON MAGUS ~ Release their debut album "The First Year Of Catastrophe" on Black Swamp Collective

 Hold on to your hats 'cos your about to be blown away!!!!!

Simon Magus hail from Toledo,OH and consists of five dudes,Wes Allen - Vocals, Micah Shimborske - Guitar, Schmid - Guitar, Nick Shallcross - Guitar & Bass and Mark Reynolds - Drums, from various bands and backgrounds with a united love of Trouble, Saint Vitus and Black Sabbath. A while ago the band took these influences into the studio, sprinkled them with a little 90's grunge and created what is in my opinion the best trad doom album released this year,,,,so far.

Exploding from your speakers like a grenade "She Wept" opens the album, its stuttering twin guitar riff and thunderous bass and drums assaulting the senses, leaving you reeling, then  just when you think things can't get any better than this in comes Wes Allen with a vocal performance that will send shivers down your spine. Allen's voice, a unique blend of bluesy holler and throaty stoner grit, roars out the lyrics like a man possessed while beneath him the rest of the band drive the song with a force and power that defies belief.
The pattern continues throughout the rest of the album, powerful intense musicianship and vocal pyrotechnics combined with strong thoughtful song writing. Lyrics such as "calling out to a god who doesn’t answer by name, you incur the wrath of man with only yourself to blame" (A Dying King) and " and i took no comfort in the kindness of my friends,  these walls i raised were all my own,  i’ve been disfigured by disgrace unerased"(Eulogy For The Elephant Man) show that Simon Magus are a band who require you to think as well as listen.

Simon Magus have remained coy on whether this project is a one -off deal or an ongoing concern, hinting ,via their Facebook page, that there may be more to come but not committing themselves either way. Whatever the band decide to do in the future is really their concern but it would be a shame if this was the last we heard from these guys as music this good NEEDS to be heard


Sunday, 26 July 2015

BEASTMAKER ~ Channeling the spirit of Sabbath with their self titled EP

Take a trawl through the the Facebook pages of  any of your favourite stoner, doom and psych bands and it is likely that in their about section you will find among their influences the name Black Sabbath.
Forty years after getting together in Birmingham ,UK, Black Sabbath still influence and inspire so many of those bands we listen to today. The Sword, Orchid, and Freedom Hawk are just three bands who owe a large debt to Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill and let's not forget all those Swedish bands like Graveyard, Witchcraft and Horisont who have taken Sabbath's dark rock noodlings and added elements of bluesy swagger and psychedelic colouring to the mix. California's Beastmaker are another name you can add to those list of bands influenced by those four sons of Birmingham and that fact  can be evidenced by their new, self-tiled, EP.

After the initial reaction to rifftastic noise that hits you on this EP the next thing that grabs your attention is the "Englishness" of the vocals, which sound not unlike early Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett, a tone which is slightly monotone yet melodic and forms a perfect counterbalance to the heavy traditional doom riffage that sit beneath.

First track "Eyes Are Watching" is a masterclass of doomy atmospherics and metal riffology incorporating shifting time signatures, classy pentatonic solos and combined with those vocals, mentioned earlier, tells you more about this bands sound aurally than I could explain here in words
Second track "Heathens" steps a little outside of the Sabbath blueprint, but not too far, employing a chugging  mid-paced nwobhm type riff over which the glorious verses and chorus are incanted. The track is further enhanced by a wonderful Iommi-esque guitar solo, short and to the point and saying just enough without going into the realms of over-indulgent showmanship.
"Astral Corpse" the third and final track is pure "Master of Reality" era Sabbath worship with a riff that just screams Iommi and the only way the band could possibly improve on this track is by adding an Ozzy type "Oh Yeah" at the end of each verse.

So in summing up what we have here is three songs of Sabbath- esque doom shot through with moments of psychedelic colour and texture. Ok its not an exactly original concept but its done  exceptionally well and has groove a mile wide. So if you are, like me, a Sabbath fan with a penchant for early Floyd type vocals then you just gotta check out Beastmaker!


Friday, 24 July 2015

THE CRIMSON TRIP ~ Mexican psychanauts request you join them in THE ORDER OF THE OCCULT

Mexico is a country I really know very little of, having lived in the UK all my life and only having travelled around the holiday destinations of southern Europe the only knowledge I have of the country is what I have read in books/online, or what I have been fed via the medium of film and television, and as for the Mexican music scene I probably knew even less! Well that was until I signed up to Bandcamp and discovered that Mexico, as well as other Central and South American counties, has a very healthy and vibrant "underground" scene. The Crimson Trip are part of this scene and have just released their second album "The Order Of The Occult".

"Order Of The Occult" follows on from the bands excellent self titled 2014 debut with the same mix of dark doom riffage and heavy psych experimentation that made that release such a joy, this time around though they have added a bit of spit and polish, sanded off some raw edges  and added a touch of light and shade to their gritty grooves.

Title track "Order Of The Occult" starts things off in grand style, bursting out of the speakers with an Iommi-esque circular lick from guitarist Iron Jared before exploding into a pummelling riff augmented by the tight rhythmic work of Alberto L Martinez (bass) and Luis Mtz (drums) and all topped off with the truly astounding vocals of frontman Tony Orta. If  by now your not already hooked, then by the time you get to the songs middle section with it's drone/psych breakdown and Orta's plea to "Do it for Satan" you will be.
The rest of the album follows in a similar vein of heavily psyched doom and stoner attitude with songs full of occult themes and dark satanic dealings that are expertly executed and delivered and although I don't want to single one person out for individual praise (everyone is on top form) I do have to give a big shout to the incredible vocals of Tony Orta.
Tony Orta's vocals are, it has to be said, slightly accented and a little bit undisciplined at times but this in no way detracts from their effect, in fact it is these vocals that give The Crimson Trip their own unique sound. Orta soars, moans, rasps and roars over and around these dark grooves with glorious abandon, not shackled by any conventional style or form his voice gives the music an edge that may have been lost with a more conventional frontman, an edge that takes The Crimson Trip from being also-rans to contenders.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Austria's SAVANAH release debut album DEEP SHADES

In February of this year Austrian trio Savanah released  "Deep Shade" the first track from their debut album of the same name.. It was a gem of a track full heavy stoner riffs and psychedelic atmospherics and resulted in them getting some considerable airplay via local Austrian radio stations. Today the band  released the full album and it's been well worth waiting for.

"Deep Shade", in my opinion, is one of those albums that has the potential to make many of those end of year best of lists so beloved of the stoner community's blogs and websites, containing as it does all the elements that us denizens of the "underground" music scene look for in our music. If you want riffs "Deep Shade" has got them, thick fuzzy and catchy as hell, if your looking for fiery guitar solos, strong vocals then look no further, majestic bass lines and furious drum work, its here, Colour Haze type heavy psych?..... yeah these guys can do that to. The level of musicianship and tight interplay throughout these five tracks is truly stunning and the fact that Savanah only formed in 2014 makes it even more astounding.

Do yourself a favour and check these guys out and if you don't come away dazzled and bewildered  by the awesome sonic attack that these three Austrians deliver....
well then you better check your pulse...there's a good chance your dead.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Finnish psych rockers JUPITER release "Interstellar Chronodrive"

Jupiter, the fifth planet from the sun and also a Finnish stoner/heavy psych band. What do they have in common I hear you ask? Well nothing really but I was struggling with an intro to this review and that's the best I could come up with........At least i'm being honest!

"Interstellar Chronodrive" is a sprawling album of heavy psych bombast incorporating elements of hard rock/stoner fuzziness and cosmic space rock trippy weirdness. With songs  titles such as "Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal", "In Flux" and "Spirit of the Leech" you can sort of guess these are not going to be tunes about women, trucks and beer unless of course if those women are trucking across the cosmos with a couple of six packs, (idea for a song there guys),  no these boys are aiming a little higher. Fronted by the melodic voice of Tuukka, who also plays a mean guitar, and supported by the dynamic rhythms of Mikel (bass) and  Liehis on drums ( last names are soooooo
yesterday) Jupiter at times wander in to the heady realms of progressive rock  with angular time changes, jazzy progressions and complex arrangements but they manage to balance this all with enough gritty fuzzed out riffage and foot to the floor rock'n'roll attitude to please even the most discerning stoners and doomers out there.
Sterling stuff!


Looking back I may well have nailed it with that review intro, Jupiter, band and planet are both heavy and both OUT THERE

Friday, 17 July 2015

SOUTHERN FRIED GENOCIDE ~ prepare for "ELECTRIC MAYHEM"

The words "southern", "fried" and "genocide" are three words that are bound to catch the eye of any stoner, doomer or hard rock fan who spends long hours perusing the internet for interesting new sounds, and when those three words are then joined by another two like "electric" and "mayhem"...... well you got to check it out


.First off  lets get something out of the way.... Southern Fried Genocide are a band that are bound to draw comparisons with Maryland's famous sons Clutch, owing to vocalist Steve O's similar preacher in the pulpit delivery, but whereas Neil Fallon and the boys tend to lean heavier on their hardcore roots "SFG" have a more organic southern rock vibe going on
.
So what do you get for your money?
Well ."Electric Mayhem" is a butt-kicking album of joyous rock'n'roll energy married to stonerized metal riffage, blues infused solos and thick swampy rhythms. From opening track "Blood On My Hands" to the epic instrumental closer "Jimini Cricket"(every southern band has to have its own "Freebird") not a note is wasted, a drum fill out of place, everyone playing out of their skins, working for the song.

All in all "SFG's" "Electric Mayhem" is an album of extremes, extremely well played, extremely infectious and extremely good and if Clutch float your musical boat then your gonna love these guys.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Doctor will see you now... France's DOCTOR DOOM release debut

The type of bluesy, doom infused stoner grooves that bands such as Graveyard, Witchcraft, Horisont and Lonely Kamel have made so popular over the last few years has mostly, with a few exceptions come from Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Norway etc. Well now France's Doctor Doom want a piece of the action and have just  released their debut " This Seed We Have Sown"

Doctor Doom, from Pamiers, France and consisting of Jean-Laurent Pasquet : vocal / guitars, Jérémie Delattre : Guitars / backing vocals, Sébastien Boutin Blomfield : Bass, Keys and Michel Marcq : Drums,  have taken that Scandinavian menu of gritty stoner riffs, bluesy hard driving rhythms and doomy 60's psychedelics and slapped a little French dressing and Gallic flavour to the mix  and served it all up in one killer album.

The first thing that hits you about " This Seed We Have Sown" is the vocals, laid back and darkly melodic with a cool late 60's vibe. It is these vocals, solo and harmonised, combined with the high level of  musicianship shown throughout, that sets this album apart from others of its ilk.
Musically the band beg, borrow and steal from every genre and era, blending jazzy chord progressions to bluesy licks and  psychedelic noodlings , and peppering it all with some stoner fuzz and occult/retro rock grooviness. This is not one of those albums that gets in your face and demands your attention, no this is subtle in its approach, growing on you track by track until finally your powerless to resist its sonic charms. and are forced to press that re-play button for another hit

A cynic might argue that we have enough bands ploughing this particular furrow and do we really need another Graveyard or Kamchatka? Well to some point I would agree, the stoner market does seem to be getting a little saturated with similar sounding bands but I feel Doctor Doom have that little extra quality that elevates from also-rans to contenders.
Check 'em out see what you think.....



Sunday, 12 July 2015

OCCULT WISDOM ~ Heavy psych trio release debut album


When Dzjenghis Khan guitarist Spencer Grau and Chief Nowhere drummer Andy Campanella got together with David Calder Ure (bass) there was never any doubt in their mind in which direction they wanted to take Occult Wisdom. Having been schooled in the sounds of bands as diverse as British 60/70's underground heroes Hawkwind  and The Pink Fairies through to current stoners Dead Meadows and QOTSA, Occult Wisdom were always going to play it psychedelic and slightly left of centre

NOTE: David Calder Ure although playing on "Occult Wisdom" has now departed and has been replaced by Donovan Jesus Hernandez

 "Occult Wisdom" is a sprawling monster of an album that takes in all those elements from the bands mentioned earlier but mixes them all together in a unique blend of yesterday and today.
Songs like "Reflections On Elephants" and  "Canned Man" show that this band are not ones to be stuck in the rut of verse/chorus/verse, no these guys like to mix it up a bit by adding moods and colours with subtle, and sometimes, brutal changes of pace and time signatures, going off in tangents of glorious psychedelic madness, bringing it all back to the song just as you start to think they've  lost their way . Add to this the mixture of lone and harmonised vocals combined with scintillating guitar solos and tight rhythms and what you have is an album that although references the past is wholly original in its delivery and content.

If you are a fan of intelligent, articulate music that likes to push the boundaries a little but you also like your grooves to be a little down and dirty and fuzzed around the edges then you won't do better than  Occult Wisdom.




Friday, 10 July 2015

CYBERNETIC WITCH CULT ~ Retro grooves from the UK

Retro is sometimes viewed as a dirty word in music, bands taking a sound and style that has been used successfully in the past and recycling it for today's market. Some bands though can take those past influences twist them round, turn them over and come up with something new and exciting, retaining the grooves of the past but injecting something of themselves into those grooves. Cybernetic Witch Cult are one of those bands and on their debut " Morlock Rock" they show that "retro" can be a good thing ...in the right hands.

There is no doubt that "Morlock Rock" has its roots set firmly in the 70's, both musically and lyrically, its lyrics mirroring a love of sci-fi and horror b-movies and its music nodding its head towards Sabbath and Pentagram and their ilk. Cybernetic Witch Cult are no clones though and manage to avoid the trap of trying to sound like their heroes by injecting a feeling of fun and a sense of humour throughout the eight songs that make up this album. Songs like "Tyrannosaurus Hex" and "Cybernetic Witch" rock out with a dark doomy edge, infectious, well played and full of hooks but you can't help but feel that the band had their tongues firmly stuck in their cheeks while writing them.

 Lead vocals and guitar are handled by Alex Wylde his vocal tone clean and slightly nwobhm in style and his guitar tone dirty and distorted, ripping out wah drenched solos and fills as well as thrashing out monster riffs. Kale Dean (bass,vocals) and Liam Stocks (drums) work like shire horses filling out the sound with their respective instruments, plugging the gaps with booming bass lines and thunderous percussive work. Together these three musicians are a force to be reckoned with and in "Morlock Rock" have produced an album that although blatantly "retro" in flavour has enough of "today" in its grooves to placate any of those naysayers.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

MOTHER MOOCH ~ Occult grooves from the Emerald Isle

 Hailing from Dublin, Ireland and consisting of five members, Mother Mooch are one of those bands that once you hear them you will never forget them,
In March this year, after a few years of changing line-ups and gigging the circuits, the band finally found a sound that worked for them and decided to release their first EP "Preludes"

"Preludes" consists of three tracks of superb occult-ish desert rock, fronted by the sultry and warm tones of Chloë Ní Dhúada and backed up with some superb musicianship and super tight grooves from the rest of the band, Sid Daly - Guitar and vocals, Farl - Guitar, Barry Hayden - Bass and Danni Nolan - Drums.
Opening track "L.H.O.O.Q" kicks off proceedings with a pure desert rock groove, fast paced and with one of those chugging riffs that us stoners find irresistible. Short sharp and to the point and  containing enough hooks to fill a fishermans basket this ROCKS!
"Into The Water" begins with a single picked guitar arpeggio over which the second guitar lays  beautiful psychedelic tinged colours. Ms Ni Dhúada's vocal, haunting and seductive, floats above and around the music, smooth and with no histrionics she compliments the arrangements never overpowering them. This is my favourite track on the EP
"Sinners" sees the band get a little up -tempo bluesy with a riff  Led Zep's Jimmy Page would be proud of. Ni Dhúada is no Robert Plant so instead she employs a little more swing to her vocalising and in doing so brings a Celtic vibe to the bluesy groove that takes the song from  the southern swamps of the USA  to the muddy bogs of Ireland with startling effect.

The blurb at the bottom of Mother Mooch's Bandcamp page states this EP is a sampler for a forthcoming album so fingers crossed there will be more coming from this band very soon!

SHAYK ~ Detroit's sleazy stoner trio release EP... Volume 1

Detroit trio Shayk are not a band who are likely bust out a few country tunes about losing your woman/farm neither are they going to write some beard stroking contemplations on the meaning of life and man's place in god's great scheme. No Shayk's sound and groove is more akin to concrete pavements, tall buildings and dilapidated warehouses, in other words Shayk's sound comes from the street.

Made up of   Scott Cox; Guitars and Vocals,  Larry Patrick; Bass and  Scott Switzer; Drums (although Dave Arney plays drums on the album) Shayk have just released their new EP Volume 1, a collection of  sleazy urban anthems shot through with bluesy grooves mixed with a touch of funky swagger.
 Cox's vocals, a mixture of stoner grit and street savvy arrogance are delivered with an almost rap like rhythm  and are superbly complimented by his incendiary fuzzed out guitar playing, laying down infectious funky riffs and bluesy solos. Scott Switzer must be a hell of a drummer to have replaced Dave Arney as the latter is all over these tunes, working his kit like a whirling dervish on amphetamines .At the bottom end we have Larry Patrick,  his bass locking in tight with Arden's drums yet loose and sassy when the dynamics dictate.

Together these guys have produced an EP that takes the hard rock blueprint of the 70's, dirties it up with some fuzzy stoner rock and then smears it all in a large dollop of street corner funky blues.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

DOLLAR LLAMA ~ Portuguese sludge with a swampy southern metal edge

Sludge, i've got to admit, is not really my thing but from time to time I like to dip my toe in to its dirty waters  and have a little paddle. It was on one of these little wades through Bandcamp's sludge pages that I came across this little gem from Portugal's Dollar Llama.
Grand Union is an album that gives no quarter, if your looking for something with elements of light and shade, with subtle nuances, maybe a power ballad or some psychedelic ambience then STOP reading now! This is foot to the floor, take no prisoners sludge shot through with a thick swampy southern metal edge. Vocals are raw and full on, bellowed in tune rather than sang but with no hint of accent and avoid going into the arena of black metal guttural by retaining a sense of melody. Musically the band has a looser feel to their groove than say a Baroness or a Kylesa, whose sludge noodling's rely on a tighter more studied approach, that's not to say Dollar Llama's approach is sloppy, far from it these guys can play. This looseness suits the southern edge to Dollar Llama's sound perfectly and when they need to get tight they lock in tighter than a pythons coils.
If you like your music hard, fuzzed to the max with a touch of Lynyrd Skynyrd's twin guitar attack mixed with Planet of Zeus's swampy stoner bite then you will love Dollar Llama.


Monday, 6 July 2015

Looking Back......... Road To Kurti from Oxford trio Caravan of Whores

Time to step into the time machine again and this time we are going back to 2012 for what was one of my first, and still one of my favourite, purchases from Bandcamp. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you "Road To Kurti" from Oxford,UK's Caravan of Whores.

Recorded in Wales in 2012 and hot on the heels of their debut EP " A Cosmic Interlude", "Road To Kurti" is a tour-de force of  dusty desert doom grooves that is reminiscent, in some ways, to Kyuss' "Blues For The Red Sun" having that same fuzzed out desert vibe mixed with the doomy heaviness that made that album such a seminal release.
The EP opens its account with an absolute monster in "Drug Queen" which begins with a swirling drone over and around a short  movie soundbite that then morphs into a glorious eastern sounding heavy fuzzed, doomy riff. Vocals then enter the fray courtesy of bassist and vocalist Pete Smith, not stoner growled or raw whiskey soaked as you might expect, from the heavy down tuned mayhem, but surprisingly clean and harmonious. The song ends with a delicious psych workout with all three members going hell for leather up until the final swirling fadeout.
"Mister Bendy Man" is up next with a dark stuttering groove that sees the John Slaymaker (guitar) and Smith riffing in perfect unison against a backdrop of stunning sticksmanship from drummer Jamie Gillett, Slaymaker also peels off a gem of a solo here, superb choices of note and with buckets of tone and emotive feel.
"Your God Is Dead" has a definite Sabbath feel to it, especially in the up tempo mid-section but that all disappears in the final third where CoW show us their jazzier, bluesier side, albeit with a healthy dose of Hawkwind psych/space in its groove. Slaymaker shows again here that he's a lot more than just a riff machine with yet another stunning solo.
"Waiting" closes the EP in style with a killer of a tune, Slaymaker on his own playing a dirty circular riff before Smith's filthy distorted bass and Gillett's furious drums enter and blow the roof off! This track also see Smith getting a little more gnarly vocally, finding a little more grit in his delivery and sounding quite angry, a tone that really suits the song.

Not a lot has been heard from these guys of late and their Facebook page seems to have been shut down so I have no idea if they are still together, there was a rumour that they were working on something new last year but nothing has materialised since. If anyone has any information concerning their current position i'd love to know what they are up to.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

YEAR OF THE COBRA ~ Seattle bass and drum duo release "The Black Sun" EP

Some bands like to surround themselves in a cloak of anonymity , giving out very little information allowing their music to speak for them instead, Year Of The Cobra are one of those bands.
This is all well and good and gives a band an air of mystery and intrigue but when it comes down to the humble blogger trying to write a review it can be a nightmare.
Their FB page describes them as "Two individuals who play heavy music" and going by their photo's Year Of The Cobra are a male (drums) /female (bass and vocals) duo from Seattle,Washington who are influenced by Black Sabbath, and that's about it information-wise. Their music though DOES speak for itself.

"The Black Sun" is a wonderful three song EP of stripped back occult/lo fi doom carried by the sweet, haunting, ethereal voice of the bassist, who also lays down some utterly infectious, deep distorted four string grooves Her male counterpart meanwhile keeps the rhythm tight and solid underneath and on the third and final track "Wasteland" really shows that he's not just there to keep time but that he's also an integral part of the YOTC sound, pounding into the skins, cymbals crashing and sticks flying all around his kit, driving the sound with feral abandon.

Year Of The Cobra may like to play it a little coy and close to their chests but if they carry on making music this good it won't be long before everyone knows who they are.


COSMIC NOD ~ Welsh psych wizards release stunning two track EP

The Cosmic Nod hail from Cardiff, Wales and contain among their ranks two members of  The Witches Drum, Mat Warren (guitar) and Owen Griffleson (bass) plus  Luke Llewellyn (drums), With a little help from Tom Rees (keyboard,voice) and Grant Jones (voice on Black Rubber) they have just released "The Cosmic Nod EP" a spectacular near 30 mins of psych soaked instrumental mayhem that'll just blow your mind.
If you dig the guitar heavy noodlings of Earthless or the instrumental interludes of Dead Meadows then The Cosmic Nod are going to be right up your street. Never being one to shy away from taking the lead role in a band  Mat Warren's six-strings are the dominant force in these recordings, whether its wah drenched soloing, ambient psychedelic arpeggios or just riffing out with his foot on the fuzz pedal the man never ever falls into the trap of soulless shredding, every note is played with passion and feel. Griffleson and Llewellyn's contributions should not be ignored either, the bassist laying down some exotic deep rumbling lines on quieter passages and going toe to toe with the guitarist on heavier ones Llewellyn too is awesome using every part of his kit to good effect, shimmering cymbals, tinkling jazzy percussion or just pounding the hell out of his skins. Tom Rees's keyboard should not go ignored either adding texture and filling the gaps with lysergic colour
.

I'm not sure whether this is just a Witches Drum side project or whether this is a new chapter for Warren and Griffleson but I'm liking what i'm hearing and i'd most definitely like to hear more.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Greenbeard ~ Second album from Texas desert groovers

In November 2014 Texas desert rockers Greenbeard released a self-titled album that was, according to their Bandcamp page, a collection of high quality demo recordings. Filled to the brim with fuzzed up riffage, scalding solos and driving rhythms this album immediately drew the attention of online music fans, bloggers and critics and it seemed that everyone was in agreement....this was a band to keep your eye on.
A year later with a few more gigs under their belt and the addition of a new member Greenbeard are back with their first full album "Stoned At The Throne"

Comprised of five new songs and three re-workings of tunes from their demo, "Stoned At The Throne" shows that the band have lost non of that promise hinted at on "Greenbeard", and that if anything have exceeded that promise.
"Sativa Wizardia" kicks things off with its glorious dirty, fuzz drenched riffage that nods its head towards Kyuss but also has a touch of The Sword's metallic stoner edge in its groove.
"Don't Get Too Desperate" sees the band encroaching into Queen's of the Stone Age territory with its quirky, angular riff and Josh Homme type vocals. I've got to admit on first listen this did not gel with me, a little too QOTSA and not enough Greenbeard, but on subsequent listens i've found myself warming to it and slowly growing to love it.
Third track "The Voyager" has Chance Parker and Ethan Thayer laying down the doom with a thick sludgey riff under which Buddy Hachar (drums) and Marc Maddox (bass) lay a groove that you could bury a bus in. This also has one of my favourite vocal performances with Parker and Thayer's voices blending together as one, magnificent! The track ends with the two guitarists trying to outdo each other with superb intertwined solos.
Next track "Crooked Is As Crooked Does" is probably my favourite track, incorporating a truly gorgeous strutting desert riff combined with mellow laid back vocals in the verses that explode in the chorus. Prepare yourself also for an absolutely fret burning guitar solo and a beautiful moment when the guitars and drums fall away to leave a wonderful two note bass motif supporting the vocal, awesome!
"Dead Valley" a highlight of the 2014 demo is fleshed out here with the addition of the other guitar, adding a depth that was lacking in the original. A good tune
"Swimming In The Grass" has an infectious stuttering riff that hooks you from the start carrying you along with its super cool vocal that then descends into a full blown psych freak-out in the final third.
The final two tracks "Eris" and "Sludgito" both of which can be found on "Greenbeard" are enhanced by the extra six strings and benefit from the more polished production found throughout the album.

It seemed a long time between pre-ordering this album, on Bandcamp, and finally getting my grubby hands on it today but it was well worth the wait.