Wednesday, 16 August 2017
When a band makes an album that ticks all the right boxes both musically and vocally and tags on to that albums title the legend "Pt: 1" you can't help but hope that "Pt:2" arrives soon and that when it does it does not disappoint. This was the case with Nashville's Howling Giant, the band released their second EP " Black Hole Space Wizard: Pt. 1" last year (2016) to great acclaim and whetted the appetites, of all who heard it, for the next instalment filling those listeners with a hope that "Black Hole Space Wizard: Pt 2" would be just as good ,if not better, than its predecessor. Well that time has finally arrived and " Black Hole Space Wizard; Pt 2" is finally getting released (August 25) so now you can judge for yourselves if the wait was worth it.
As the droning feedback intro of "Henry Tate"pulls you gradually in to a world of swirling space themed groove and crunching hard rock bluster it becomes glaringly apparent that Howling Giant have not fumbled the cosmos shaped ball they were carrying when creating "Pt 1"and that for this band it's onward and upward towards the multiverse and beyond. Doom, rock (both stoner and hard), psych, heavy metal and prog are all touched upon as the band take you on journeys both musical and metaphysical, telling their tales of time and space, cause and effect against a backdrop of deliriously diverse soundscapes all delivered superbly by Tom Polzine (guitar and vocals), Roger Marks (bass and vocals) and Zach Wheeler (drums and vocals).
It would be wrong to pick out individual songs for special mention as each and every song on "Pt: 2" is an integral piece in a bigger picture, "Henry Tate", "The Pioneer", "Visions", "The Forest Speaks", "Circle of Druids" and "Earth Wizard" all have their own individual merits and highpoints and all are key components in the telling of "The Black Hole Space Wizard" story/saga, a story/saga you the listener will want to return to time and time again.
Do yourself a favour and give "Black Hole Space Wizard: Pt.2" a spin but before you do you might want to play "Pt.1" again first, just to refresh your memories.
Can't wait for Pt.3 now...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 12 August 2017
Seems Ripple Music are getting a little adventurous and heavy with their choices of whom to sign to their iconic label, the label have been releasing an increasingly diverse array of albums of late, albums that criss-cross across the undergrounds many genres and sub-genres and range from heavy stoner doom to intricate post rock. Latest band to get the Ripple treatment are Poseidon a four piece from the mean streets of East London whose blend of post-rock nuances, progressive complexity and doom flavoured darkness can be heard on their Ripple Music debut album "Prologue".
Droning feedback and noise heralds in first track "The Beginning ,The End, The Colony" and is gradually replaced by a crushing low, slow guitar riff supported by deeply distorted bass and pummelling percussion with occasional shards of dark chordal guitar colouring fracturing the gloom, the song continuing along this path, building in atmosphere and mood, until clean clear, heavily phased vocals suddenly appear shining a little well needed light and much appreciated relief into the proceedings. This relief is short lived though and the band, Raza Khan (drums), Matt Norris (guitar), Matthew Bunkell (bass/vocals) and Jamie Starke (guitar) are soon taking off on another darkened tangent of crushing heaviness this time with Bunkell's vocals taking on a more visceral, animalistic tone beneath which Norris and Starke rip the air asunder with their riffs and licks and Bunkell and Khan shake the earth with their heavy rhythmic drum and bass grooves, the song finally reaching its climax almost as it began with waves of thrumming noise and dark sustain fading into a deafening silence...breathtaking is to small a word for it!
In contrast the next track "Mother Mary Son of Scorn" is almost too pretty and nice to take in at first, it's gently strummed acoustic guitar backed by Khan's simple but effective percussion and enhanced with swirling six-string electric colouring, could almost be described as achingly beautiful if it was not for the morose lyrical content and the weary sadness of its vocal delivery.
Poseidon return to the crushing heaviness for "Chainbreaker", the song starting with a short soundbyte/narrative on the need to stop the endless grind of " the machine" a reference to the struggles we all deal with on a daily basis, living under the yoke of bosses and governments who have their own agendas. The song then explodes into a choppy stonerized doom groove, guitars crunching out fragmented powerchords that drip with fuzzy menace over a punishing backdrop of crashing percussion and grizzled bassitude with Bunkell mixing his vocal delivery between feral and clean.
"Omega" closes "Prologue" and begins with drone like effects groaning and growling like ships lost in a fog beneath another section of narrative which this time takes the shape of a religious sermon. The song then slowly gathers momentum with eerie dark guitar arpeggios gradually making way for slow throbbing riffage and pulverising percussion that then segues into a heavily fuzz drenched, slighty more aggressive doom refrain embellished with gravelly vocal tones and soaring guitar solo's. Epic, atmospheric and heavy it closes the album on a massive high.
Musical heaviness cannot be easily measured and can be a matter of a listeners perspective, one man's Neurosis can be another mans Monolord and vice-versa, but there is no getting away from the fact that what Poseidon bring to the table will probably cause that said tables legs to buckle and leave a Poseidon shaped indent on its surface, such is the enormity of their dark dank grooves.
Check 'em out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 11 August 2017
Twenty years is a damn long time in anyone's book but that was how long ago Puerto Rica's La Iglesia Atómica (The Atomic Church) last played together. The band, whose line up has fluctuated quite drastically since their formation in 1990, were one of the leading lights of Puerto Rica's burgeoning rock scene and it could be argued were one of the early pioneers of today's stoner rock movement, their brand of fuzz soaked groove preceding the emergence of Kyuss and Sleep by a whole year. Agustin Criollo ( bass, guitar, keyboards and vocals) has been the one constant throughout La Iglesia Atómica's career and now with the recruitment of Martin Latimer (guitar) and Herb Pérez (drums) and the release of a new album "La Iglesia Atómica"( South American Sludge Records) the band are ready to ride again.
In the twenty years that have passed since La Iglesia Atómica last trod the boards of a live stage a lot has happened, a new dawn of psychedelic tinted rock has arisen in that time and permeated the fuzz'n.roll of the stoner/hard rock scene seeing bands like Wo Fat, Earthless and others stretching out their raucous grooves into extended jams and experimenting with lysergic textures and hues. This recent development has not been lost on La Iglesia Atómica, the band have always had a leaning towards the psychedelic and so have embraced these new freedoms filling out their grooves with a myriad of bright colours and darkened shades. This might not seem so evident on the albums opening track "Cadavar Exquisito" the songs low,slow and heavy groove, embellished with swathes of textured keyboard colouring beneath which slow pounding drums beat out a ponderous rhythm, is more akin to doom than it is psych but as the album progresses those lysergic elements gradually begin to take shape. "Resurrección" follows, built around Criollo's deliciously seductive bass line and Pérez jazzy percussive chops the song is taken to another level by Latimer's stunning guitar work, the guitarist laying down dark swathes of chordal sustain that hang momentarily in the air before being replaced by more, giving the song an almost Floydian feel. The band have not discarded their stoner/hard rock roots entirely though and on songs like "Superhombres", "Mala Semilla"" and "La Mala Viene" they revisit those roots with fuzz drenched riffage, thunderous rhythms and soaring guitar solo's the foundations over which clean vocals and harmonies are sung (in Spanish). It is however when the band cut loose that the true beauty of what La Iglesia Atómica do becomes apparent, the band taking off on tangents into uncharted territories, improvising around a theme or a motif as on the wonderfully diverse and bluesy "Algo Habitual" and the excellently manic "Stoner Ball", the three musicians playing off each other, losing themselves in the music before gathering the threads together again and falling back into the groove, freedom and focus in equal measure
Twenty years ago La Iglesia Atómica called it a day, packed up their gear and went on to other things but now they are back .. ready to blend those old school stoner grooves of their past with those newer sounds they have picked up along the way, let's hope its not another twenty years before the next album!
Check 'em out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Tuesday, 8 August 2017
That renowned webzine of all things riff shaped, Metal Injection, recently ran an article pontificating on the rising popularity of the doom scene. The articles author, Matt Bacon, asked a number of the scenes leading lights the reasons why, for what is essentially a sub-genre of a music that been around for a few decades, such an uptake in listeners as well as players has occurred in the last few years. Reasons were offered that ranged from people needing a soundtrack to a coming apocalypse through to a general boredom with fast metallic bluster and over technical guitar wizardry, Desert Psychlist offers another explanation however and its a simple one.... Doom is slow, low ,crushingly heavy and reaches that part of you other metal genres do not come close to touching, your darkened soul.
A bold statement you may say but if your not convinced then try giving New York's Eternal Black's latest offering "Bleed The Days" a listen, doom has never sounded so good!
"The Lost, The Forgotten and The Undying" opens "Bleed The Days" and almost, but not quite, blows Desert Psychlist's theory, outlined in this reviews opening paragraph, straight out of the water by slamming straight into a mid to up-tempo stoner doom groove. Guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob sings of "a killing floor" and "November souls" in grizzled clean vocal tones while locking into a gnarly rolling proto-doom refrain with bassist Hal Miller, their combined riffage, enhanced by Wohlrob's searing solo's, perfectly underpinned by Joe Wood's heavy swinging percussive beats.
"Snake Oil and Coffin Nails" initially follows a similar path to the previous track with Wood laying down a pacey percussive foundation for Miller and Wohlrob to wrap thick sludgey riffage around before suddenly shifting down into a deliciously dark plodding doom groove with Wohlrob waxing lyrical of "teeth grinding on coffin nails" in raw,throaty tones. The songs swings between these two differing dynamics before closing on a wave of pulverising doom'n'roll taken to another level by Wohlrob's scorchingly dark guitar solo.
"Sea of Graves" nails Eternal Black's doom flag to the mast and finds the trio delving deeper into the mire with a menacing, and quite spine-tingling doom groove that owes, in its initial stages, more than a nod of its horned head to Ozzy, Tony, Bill and Geezer's iconic song " Black Sabbath", The song then takes off on a journey through dark psychedelic hues taking off on a myriad of different musical tangents and dynamics with Wohlrob, Miller and Wood effortlessly shifting through time signatures and tempos before the song signs off on a wave of dark sustain.
"Into Nothing", a haunting and strangely relaxing instrumental made up of banshee-like guitar effects over glistening arpeggios and intricate percussion shows Eternal Black's progressive leanings and serves as a brief respite from the more visceral aspects of their music. It is both charming and unsettling in equal measure.
"Stained Eyes On A Setting Sun" is up next and for this listener encapsulates in 7:20 seconds everything that a doom song should aspire to be, heavy but not brutal, monolithic but not monochrome, bleak but never bland. Miller holds down the bottom end with superb dexterity his deeply distorted bass tone the anchor around which Wohlrob weaves his dark fuzzed guitar colouring and under which Wood lays a barrage of pounding skins and shimmering cymbals. Bleak lyrics telling of "Men drowned in drink" while "Women claw at the soil" are roared sermon like, preached rather than sang giving the song an almost prophetic feel.
Title track "Bleed The Days" begins with Wohlrob and Miller laying down an undulating fuzz soaked refrain with Wood filling in the spaces with solid and industrious percussion before the trio take things to the next level by combining in a thick reverberating mire of proto-doom- ish groove. Wohlrob sings "Bury me in cold black mud, Where all my brothers lay" his gravel thick tones a perfect match for swamp thick riffs and rhythms beneath them.
"All Gods Fall" closes the album with an epic tome stretched over almost eleven minutes. Dense, thick refrains of reverberating guitar and bass soar and momentarily hang over powerful pounding percussion around which morose and reflective lyrics tell of the futility of religion and worship ,the song briefly shifting into Sabbath-esque territory before plummeting back into the depths of despair and finally coming to a climax.
Doom is a genre on the rise slowly but surely making its ominous presence felt, maybe not so much in the mainstream but most certainly amongst those who prefer their grooves of a more metallic flavour, and if bands like Eternal Black keep making albums as good as "Bleed The Days" then who knows where this genre could lead us in years to come
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 5 August 2017
The people in charge of the water for Austin, Texas must be adding something a little special to their supplies as this is the second album from the Lone Star States capital city to earn itself a review on Desert Psychlist's pages this month.
Texas trio Greenbeard wowed devotees of raucous riffage and psych drenched jams with their self titled album "Greenbeard" back in November 2014, which this writer dubbed, in his Bandcamp mini review, as "six tracks of glorious laid back desert rock that just kills!". The band followed this up, in July 2016, with "Stoned At The Throne" a release that saw the band moving up to a quartet and adding into their sandy desert sound an element of psych tinted doomy darkness , the resulting grooves garnering plaudits and praise from all who heard it. Two years on and the band, after a bit of a reshuffle, are back as a threesome, Chance Parker (guitar/vocals), Dan Alvarez (bass), and Buddy Hachar (drums), ready to rock our world and blow our minds with their third and latest release "Lòdaròdbòl".
"Swing", a song split into two distinct halves ,kicks off "Lòdaròdbòl". The first half sees Greenbeard hitting a Kyuss flavoured groove driven by Parker's crunching, palm muted, fuzz drenched guitar riff, beneath which Alvarez's bass and Hachar's drums create a whirlwind of insistent desert groove. The second half a calmer, slower more measured groove with the addition of keyboards (courtesy of guest musician Matt Bayles) giving the song a slightly heavier feel, both parts coated in Parker's clean, warm and totally effective vocal tones.
"Lanesplitter" finds Greenbeard in alt/grunge territory, Alvarez's slurred bass lines and Parker's warm clean vocals, swooping guitar fills and solo's are complimented by Hachar's loose but solid percussion, the trio creating a groove that in places recalls those of Seattle's Alice In Chains . Not a band content to hang on to one groove for too long the trio then take the song into the stratosphere by going into an extended psych drenched jam given extra depth by (Bayles) Deep Purple-esque keyboard flourishes and Parker's soaring solo's.
"Young Concussion" revisits the desert sound the band made their name with on earlier albums and hits one of those quirky, off-kilter grooves that would not of sounded out of place had it been found on one of Ex-Kyuss/QOTSA man Josh Homme's "Desert Sessions" albums.
"Battleweed" is up next an ode to the smoking of pre-battle exotic tobacco. The songs proto-metal vibe, tempered with elements of hard rock and blues, explodes out of the speakers on a wave of grizzled six and four string riffage pushed by pulverising percussion with Parker urging us all to "Grab your sword and shield and smoke your battleweed".
"Love Has Passed Me By" uses a chugging bluesy hard rock refrain to make it's point, Parker ruefully crooning of missed opportunity and regret his vocals pitched slightly lower than previous tracks giving the song an almost 80's gothic feel.
"Wyrm" finds Greenbeard experimenting with progressive rock hues while still maintaining a firm grip on the stoner/desert credentials that we the public first fell in love with them for. The songs backbone of crunching guitar, distorted bass and pounding percussion is superbly enhanced by the clever use of keyboards and synthesisers (Bayles and Jackson Webster ) these extra layers of instrumentation, combined with Parker's superb vocals and deft guitar solo's, giving the song an extra level of depth and focus.
When Greenbeard first appeared on the scene it was hard not to make comparisons with Kyuss and QOTSA and although there are still similarities to be found with those two iconic Josh Homme bands, an air of off kilter swagger and quirky rhythmic bluster, Greenbeard have, with "Lòdaròdbòl", found their own niche, their own sound and it's one you should all hear.
Check 'em out...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Tuesday, 1 August 2017
When a band describe their interests as "Warping the space/time fabric with sonic rituals, obliterating minds, crushing the sunlight" you know you need to take those guys seriously. Austin, Texas stoner doomanauts Destroyer of Light, Steve Colca (guitar/vocals), Keegan Kjeldsen (guitar), Penny Turner (drums) and Jeff Klein (bass), are the band in question and on the evidence of their latest offering "Chamber of Horrors" ( Heavy Friends Records) it would seem those words have more than a ring of truth to them.
Whispers Into The Threshold" a song that could be described as an instrumental if it were not for the unintelligible and unsettling mumblings sitting just beneath the songs dark and achingly low, slow doom drenched two guitar refrain. This refrain, underpinned by thrumming bass lines, thundering percussion and embellished with shards of scintillating guitar colouring, reverberates with a dark mournful menace before slowly gathering pace and suddenly coming to an end on a wave of stuttering riffage.
"Into The Smoke" follows, cleverly rearranging the previous tracks stuttering finale as the basis of it's intro before segueing into a fuzz drenched circular riff overlaid by Colca's bear like roar the guitarist/vocalist telling a subterranean tale of being "paralyzed and suffocated" and "enslaved by the cave-thing" against a backdrop of pounding percussion, distorted bass and sludge thick riffery, the band finally bringing things to a close on a wave of soaring guitar solo's and howling feedback.
Next up is "The Virgin" an astonishing tale of sacrificial murder told in a mix of clean and growled tones over a menacing low doom groove replete with screaming movie soundbytes, Like an Italian horror movie set to a soundtrack of heavy sludge the song meanders menacingly through a series of differing dynamics and tempos, dragging in it's atmospheric wake elements of doom, sludge and even a little prog-like complexity.
"Twilight Procession" eases down on the throttle and finds the band exploring aspects of serenity and tranquillity in an instrumental piece that has an almost post-rock feel to it. Strangely beautiful and a complete contrast to the doom and sludge that has gone before ,the song serves as a brief respite before we dive headlong back into the swampy doom and sludge of the next track.
"Lux Crusher" finds Destroyer of Light taking a slightly more traditional stoner doom approach to things with Colca utilising a mixture of clean and guttural tones as he once again tells the story of ritual sacrificial but this time from a victims perspective.
"Prisoner of Eternity" takes much the same "traditional" doom path visited on the previous track but this time with a little gothic colouring added to the mix. Heavy, pulverising riffage pushed by grizzled bass and powerful percussion is enhanced by a series of absolutely scorching blues tinted guitar solo's as well as a superb and powerful vocal delivery
"Buried Alive", a massive tome of atmospheric doom that builds layer by glorious layer closes "Chamber of Horrors" with not so much of a bang more the sound of coffin lid slowly closing,.Low slow and extremely heavy, it's unnerving, superbly dark and macabre tale of living interment is superbly delivered both vocally and musically by all involved.
Themes based around horror and the macabre are often the norm when it comes to the doom genre but rarely are those themes so well told or as vividly imagined as they are on the seven songs that make up Destroyer of Light's latest opus. So roll up, roll up, visit your darkest fears and nightmares in the "Chamber of Horrors" and be prepared to be afraid .....very afraid!
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 28 July 2017
One of the many musical highlights of 2016 was the release of Youngblood Supercult's "High Plains", a captivating collection of blues tinted hard/stoner rock grooves laced with hazy lysergic colouring and texture. The album, which was starkly different in direction from their previous release "Season of the Witch", showed a band who had, with the addition of a new vocalist, found a new sound and groove that seemed a much more comfortable fit and one that offered them a base from which they could stretch out and explore other musical avenues . The album also saw the bands profile take a huge upward sweep with "High Plains" appearing on many critics and reviewers end of year best of.. lists as well as securing itself a prominent position on that ultimate of monthly best of's...The Doom Charts.
This year the band reconvened in the studio and after a few dramas, that ended with the band taking over remixing/remastering duties, the quartet of David Merrill (vocals), Bailey Smith (guitar), Weston Alford (drums) and Brad Morris (bass) have emerged with a brand new album of killer tunes flying under the banner " The Great American Death Rattle" (DHU Records).
As with the bands previous album, "High Plains", the blues is the core around which the band build their songs but these guys do not approach that genre from any sort of traditional angle preferring instead to dance around it's perimeter, taking elements from it and weaving into those elements textures of psych, desert and even a little lysergic folk, playing with the form but never disrespecting it. From the slightly spooky opening salvo of title track "The Great American Death Rattle" through to the heavy lysergic blues drenched closer "Sticky Fingers" there is not a moment for the listener to catch his or her breath as the band lead you through phantasmagorical soundscapes of bluesy excellence. Morris' bass and Alford's drums combine in a solid and stunning mix of complexity and power to provide the backbone around which Smith weaves her six string magic, the guitarist eschewing the current trend for mindless shredding opting instead for feel and emotion, her chords and riffs reverberating and chunky, her solo's soaring and heartbreakingly beautiful. Over this tumultuous whirlwind of delta influenced groove Merrill provides soulful, measured vocals, the frontman's hazy, warm edged roars and croons bringing a classic rock feel to the proceedings, his distinctive tones an integral ingredient to Youngblood Supercult's overall groove and sound.
Hazy and lysergic are two words that come to mind when listening to "The Great American Death Rattle" other words that also might be used are bluesy, heavy and majestic (with that last one being the most prevalent in Desert Psychlist's mind as the albums last notes fade into the ether and our fingers hover over the repeat button). The Cambridge English Dictionary describes the definition of majestic as " something beautiful, powerful, causing great admiration and respect", a definition that perfectly fits the collection of nine songs that make up Youngblood Supercult's new opus.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Thursday, 27 July 2017
Desert Psychlist is not in the habit of reviewing demo's but there are occasions when a band release a demo so damn good that it would be a disservice to both music fans and the band not to give 'em a well deserved plug as is the case with High Priestess's aptly titled "Demo".
"Sisters are doing it for themselves" sang the Eurythmics (with a little help from Aretha Franklin) and sisters of the riff, Katie Gilchrest: (guitar / vocals), Megan "Whiplash" Mullins: (drums) and Mariana Fiel: (bass) are certainly testament to those lyrics, the Californian trio not only writing, arranging and playing all the songs on "Demo" but also having a hand in the mixing, mastering and artwork.
Desert Psychlist is partial to a little eastern promise and High Priestess deliver that in spades with first track "Firefly" a delightful doomy romp through eastern tinted desert soundscapes underpinned by Mullins tribal beats and Fiel's big bass lines and enhanced by Gilchrest's colourful keyboard flourishes,.the song gradually growing in weight and depth when Gilchrest switches to guitar and the band hit a low. slow but deliciously lysergic groove that sees the guitarist/keyboardist sharing vocals with Fiel, the pair harmonizing but with one just a heartbeat behind the other creating a sublime echo effect, their similar tones haunting and ethereal.
"Despise" follows and opens with Gilchrest's acoustic guitar and Fiel's bass laying down a madrigal-like refrain that fades out to be replaced by an almost prog-like interlude with Gilchrest switching to electric guitar, sweeping complex arpeggios over Fiels thrumming bass and Mullins sparse but totally effective percussion. The song then shifts up a gear into full on doom territory Fiels bass defiantly holding the middle ground while Gilchrest adds exotic touches of six string colouring and Mullins lays down a solid and pulverising array of percussive power beneath, the guitarist and bassist layering their haunting harmonies above it all. The song then goes into out there psych mode in its mid-section with Friels bass emitting all manner of grizzled noises and effects complimented by Gilchrest's swirling dark keyboards and Mullins thunderous drums before diving back into the doom again and taking the song to its conclusion.
"Take The Blame" sees High Priestess exploring a more stoner doom sound, the band laying down the fuzz hard and thick, the band jamming a sound that that has a distinctly Swedish feel, emulating but not copying those blues flecked grooves that are often the territory of Graveyard and Witchcraft
"Mother Forgive Me" finds High Priestess back in more familiar country, ethereal harmonies sang (and in this case also whispered) over low ,slow grooves of lysergic doom anchored by grizzled bass and pummelling percussion all overlaid with deliciously seductive guitar colouring.
"Earth Drive" closes "Demo" with an atmospheric, slightly folky doom torch song taken to another level by Gilchrest's soaring guitar solo and hauntingly sweet vocals and harmonies, melodic yet with an underlying feeling of darkness it leaves the listener in no doubt that High Priestess are a band they will want to hear a lot more from in the future.
Check 'em out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 23 July 2017
Athens, named after the Greek god of wisdom Athena, is the home of The Curf, three Greek musicians who in their own words "ooze doom'n'groove". The bands current line up of Chris Androvitsaneas. (vocals and guitars), Spyros 'Pappous' Chrysochoou (bass) and Pepper Koll (drums) originally began life as a four piece releasing one album "I" (2007) with Apostolos Patronidis on drums and George "The Goat" Stavroulakis on rhythm and lead guitar but by the time of the release of EP "Royal Water"( 2016) Patronidis had been replaced by Koll, a while later Stavroulakis left the band and The Curf were a trio. It is this line up, slightly stripped down but just as sonically explosive, that releases, for your listening pleasure, "Death and Love"(Fuzz Ink Records).
From the palm muted guitar riff that heralds first track "Dark Hado" to the sliding of strings that signals the end of final song "Death and Love" it seems, to this listener, that The Curf have been looking a little deeper into themselves of late finding that side of themselves that is a little edgier ,a little less bright and sunny. Maybe its a reflection of the political turmoil and financial woe that Greece and the Rest of the World finds itself in today, its hard to say, but there is a definite air of darkness and heaviness to be found in the bands new opus that was not as prevalent on previous releases. Songs like "Let Go" with it's low slow doom groove and almost spoken vocals, and "Order'n'Sin", with its atmospheric feel and searing guitar solo's, are given an extra level of doomy gravitas by Androvitsaneas' low key, not overly powerful, but totally effective vocal tones that combine with his guitar, and the bass and drums of Chrysochoou and Koll, to create dark atmospheric grooves of velvety smooth yet at the same time gloriously raucous doom'n'roll. The Curf are not averse to lightening the mood in places though as on "Smoke Rings", where the band hit a crunching hard rock stoner groove, and on "9-6" , a song with a thrash/punk like meter where vocal duties are handed over to guest vocalist Nancy Sim (The Burning Sticks, Immortality), although even here the band can't help from slipping into doom/psych mode, mid-section, before returning to the songs initial up-tempo groove. "California" sees the band recruiting another friend Babatsos, in on vocals, the singers blackened, harsh vocal style combined with the songs mixture of punky aggression and low slow dynamics giving the song an almost hardcore punk meets black metal feel.
All in all "Death and Love" shows, over the span of nine gloriously delicious songs, a band who are steadily moving on an upward curve, a band feeling more confident to embrace moods and shades from other genres and incorporate them into their sound, a band who you the reader should, if you have not already, make a point of checking out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 21 July 2017
Minnesota trio Buzzard, Pete Campbell (guitar, vocals ), Andy Campbell (drums) and Gene Starr (bass), are all seasoned musicians who have frequented the line ups of some of the stoner/hard rock scenes most well respected bands, Sixty Watt Shaman, The New Suns. Place of Skulls and The Mighty Nimbus to name just a few. With a wealth of experience like this behind a band you would expect the resulting noise that these guys could make together to be something a little special and you would not be wrong, just give their brand new EP " Buzzard" ( Stone Groove Records) a listen just to see how special!
Utilising a bank of influences that include among others Grand Funk, Blue Cheer and Mountain it is hardly surprising that the four songs that make up "Buzzard" have a distinctly proto-metal, heavy rock feel to them, The trio combine to create a sound and groove that is very much of today but contains a spirit and feel born of another era, at times seeming as if the band had been plucked by a giant hand from the seventies and placed in a modern studio and told to make some music.
"Never Again" kick-starts "Buzzard" the band jamming a deliciously proto groove built around Gene Starr's gnarly, gloriously grizzled bass riff. Andy Campbell sit beneath this riff complimenting Starr's bass line with his percussion, the drummer steering the groove rather than driving it and allowing Pete Cambell's guitar to fill out the spaces with shards of reverberating chordal colouring and soaring solo's. The guitarist also handles vocal duties his low, warm soulful tones a perfect fit for the grooves played beneath them, clean powerful and measured they add an extra dimension of class to what is a very classy collective performance.
"Keep Me Comin'" begins with Pete Campbell chopping out a funky, effect laden, chord progression unaccompanied before being joined by the drummer and bassist in a stop/start hard rock refrain, the fractured nature of the groove combined with the equally fractured meter of the vocal delivery strangely adding to its feeling of depth. Once again Starr's bass is the anchor around which the song is based but this time Andy Campbell is allowed the freedom to express himself, the drummer using every inch of his kit to great effect combining with Starr and his namesake Pete Campbell to give the song a strutting swagger.
"Is You Is" finds Buzzard exploring their darker side both musically and vocally, the band sprinkling a little Sabbath-esque proto-doom into the proceedings and using a mixture of clean and growled vocals to embellish the songs lyrics
"Blood Secrets" stays in the darker territory visited on the previous track and finds Pete Campbell stepping out from his role as sound colourist and really embracing the spotlight, his riffs and solo's driving the song and the rest of the band through a series of subtle changes in time and tempo as well as providing an excellent, understated but totally effective, vocal performance.
It would of been nice to have a few more tracks to slaver and drool over but beggars cant be choosers and what you do get with "Buzzard"is four songs (five if you include the live cover of Robin Trower's "Bridge of Sighs" that comes with the download) of high quality, well written and delivered kick-ass rock music with a slightly retro feel that should tide you over nicely until their next release.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 16 July 2017
Edinburgh's Atragon are a band who like their doom a touch on the "classic" side, the four piece, of
Jan Gardner (vocals), Ruaridh Daunton (guitar), Ewen Cameron (bass) and Jason Watt (drums).readily cite the likes of Cathedral, Reverend Bizarre and Sabbath as influences that have shaped their sound. This is not to say these guys do not have any originality and are just following a path paved by the riffs of others, far from it, Atragon bring a fresh approach and a modern twist to a genre of doom that these days is often overlooked, as can be heard on their brand new album "I,Necromancer" (Witch Hunter Records).
"I.Necromancer" is an album that will appeal to fans of all those bands mentioned earlier as well as those of a more sludge/stoner persuasion containing, as it does, massive swathes of dark metallic riffage driven by thunderous percussion and spine crumbling bass that is enhanced by scorching neo-classical and soaring blues tinted guitar solo's. Where Atragon differ from those other purveyors of despair and despondency is in their attack, the band incorporating into their grooves of darkness an element of stoner/hard rock grit combined with a touch old school heavy metal swagger, mixing up the low, slow and heavy with mid to up tempo dynamics to give songs like "Monastery Of Silence" and "The Dead Weight Of Unimportant Flesh" an almost thrash-like feel at times especially when those dynamics are combined with Gardner's throaty, sometimes maniacal vocal tones. These forays into furious abandon are tempered by moments of spine tingling doomic splendour with the title track "I.Necromancer" and the epic "Jesus Wept" warranting special mention ,the former for it's gloriously atmospheric feel, searing wah pedal drenched guitar solo's and pulverising rhythms, the latter for it's deliciously gory subject matter and its titanic dark doom groove
Whether you gravitate to doom, are drawn to sludge or just a hard rock/heavy metal fan looking for something a little more feral and menacing you will find something to rock your boat/shake your tomb/ripple your swamp among the seven songs of darkness and menace that make up "I.Necromancer"
Check it out .....
Friday, 14 July 2017
French quartet Poste 942 are not what you would call your atypical stoner rock band,. their sound of fuzz drenched grooves and grinding rhythms are informed as much by those of AC/DC as they are by Kyuss and their ilk and if you throw a smattering of Seattle grunge and the homey blues in there as well you might just get a little closer to describing what these guys do.
The band, Sébastien Mathieu (guitar), Sébastien Usel (vocals), Ludovic Favro (bass) and Nicolas Millo (drums) have been jamming their brand of infectious rock'n'roll and fuzzy groove around their home country and further afield since forming in 2013. releasing a well received demo, " Poste942", and EP, "Extended Play", along the way. The quartet are currently promoting their first full length album, an eclectic collection of songs flying under the simple yet effective title "Long Play" (Beer, Bear, Bore Prod.).
So what do you get for your hard earned cash? Well for starters you get thirteen tracks (two of which are narrative) that criss cross between gnarly grunge aesthetics, bluesy hard rock swagger and gritty stoner fuzziness, and see the band effortlessly shifting between differing musical dynamics yet managing to maintain a core sound that is wholly their own. This diversity of groove is in some part anchored and informed by the gritty, sometimes raw and feral, sometimes throaty clean vocal tones of Usel, the frontman's slightly accented but totally effective voice conveying a plethora of emotions and moods as he roars and croons over backdrops of throbbing bass, thundering percussion and crunching guitar. The bands engine room of Favro and Millo provide a foundation of infectious rhythmic splendour, the bassist and drummer one minute laying down grooves of bluesy funkiness ("Devil's Complaint") the next going hell for leather, fast and furious ("Punky Booster"), both solid and tight together but able to stamp their own identities on a song when the opportunity presents itself. Mathieu compliments these grooves with crunching chordal riffage, short un-indulgent soloing and subtle bluesy colouring, his guitar combining at times with Usel's diverse vocal palette to add an edgy darkness to the proceedings.
Grungey enough for the grungers, fuzzy enough for the stoners and with enough swaggering bluster for the hard rockers "Long Play" is an album well worth investigating no matter what your personal preference may be.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 9 July 2017
Miami, Florida, still, to this day evokes. to those not native to the area, visions of gleaming fast cars and glowing street lights beneath which stand men in expensive suits, jacket sleeves fashionably rolled up eyeing exotic women dressed in figure hugging designer dresses, not so much because that's Miami's reality but more because that was the image sold to us by the 1980 iconic TV show "Miami Vice". Some Miami residents however adhere to a more alternative dress code that includes denim and band tees, people who prefer their grooves a little grittier, edgier and heavier than the soundtracks Phil Collins and Gloria Estefan provided back in the day, and some of those residents form bands!
Shroud Eater, Jean Saiz (guitar/vocals), Janette Valentine (bass/vocals) and Davin Sosa (drums/vocals), are three such Miami residents who, since the bands formation in 2009, have consistently delivered diverse slabs of metallic groove to an eager and appreciative fan base both live and from the studio. The latest chapter in Shroud Eater's story has just been released via STB Records and flies under the banner of "Strike The Sun"
"Strike The Sun" is an album of immense magnitude and depth utilising an array of dynamics with which to shade and texture its diverse and dazzlingly collection of raucous grooves. From the haunting "Sleepless Fire" via the doomy heaviness of "Iron Mountain" the sparse atmospheric beauty of "Dream Flesh" to the progressive sludge thick refrains of "Futile Exile" their is a feeling of a band comfortable in their sound, a band who can charm you with their serene beauty one minute then beat you to the ground with their brutality the next, Shroud Eater are a band consisting of three people all of whom sing and the band use this to great effect mixing ethereal and mournful tones with those of a more visceral nature, a brave move that could, in other hands, result in a confused and fragmented sound with no identity, not so with Shroud Eater, they use this to their advantage arranging their songs so as to incorporate those voices so that no matter who is at the mic the listener is in no doubt that the grooves they are listening to belong to Shroud Eater .
Made up of eight of the most diverse and exciting collections of sludge tinted songs your likely to hear in your lifetime "Strike The Sun" is an album that deserves to be heard, needs to be heard and must be heard by as many people as possible.
Check it out....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 8 July 2017
Huddersfield, UK, once the centre of Britain's Industrial Revolution and still a town known for its textile, chemical and engineering companies is the home of Sound of Origin a four piece band of like minded brothers, John Bussey (vocals), .Joe 'Zeph' Wilczynski (guitar), Jax Townend (bass) and Chris 'Foz' Foster (drums), with a penchant for raucous fuzz and distortion inspired by the likes of Kyuss, Weedeater and Down, a sound and groove that can be heard on the bands debut EP "Seeds of the Past".
"Wafarin" kicks things off in fine style with Wilczynski laying down a riff so drenched in fuzz and distortion its almost in danger of of breaking up, underneath this sawtoothed onslaught Townend and Foster lay down a barrage of thundering bass and drums, the pair complimenting the guitarist's output with gnarly bottom end and tumultuous percussive might. Frontman Bussey delivers into this mix of stonerized metal and raucous hard rock big gritty vocals delivered with feral passion, mixing his vocal stylings between short sharp bursts of staccato-like attack, throaty guttural roars and clean classic rock type crooning, his unique mix of tones a perfect match for the diverse grooves of metallic desolation surrounding them.
"Driven To Distraction" follows a similar path to the previous track but with the metallic elements of the bands sound pushed slightly to the fore with Wilczynski dialling down the fuzz and instead opting for slightly more overdrive and distortion, the guitarist adding touches of doom-like dynamics into the songs gnarly refrains, refrains that are pushed hard by Foster and Townend's solid rhythmic backdrops and topped off with Bussey's superb vocal stylings.
"Left For Dead" finds Bussey singing a folk-like melodies over clean strummed guitar periodically interrupted by swathes of heavy fuzzed riffage and thundering rhythm with Bussey following suite vocally. The songs quiet/loud/quiet aesthetic gives the song a kind of grunge /alt feel and indicates that there is more to this band than at first meets the ear.
"Seeds of the Past" jams a circular desert groove embellished with little Kyuss type guitar fills and licks with Bussey giving his best performance so far, the frontman singing of having "his head in a cloud" against a backdrop of chugging riffage and pounding percussion.
"Asphelt" sees Sounds Of Origin moving into slow and low territory the bands sound getting a little dark and doomy both vocally and musically with Bussey crooning clean and clear in the songs quieter moments shifting through the gears to growling and roaring as the songs groove gradually gets heavier.
Sound Of Origin's "Seeds Of The Past" is a good indicator for where British underground rock is currently residing at today, well written, superbly performed songs that are informed by grooves that may have been born in the USA but have a groove and feel that is totally home grown
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 7 July 2017
South Carolina's Fall Of An Empire caused many a head to be turned and an ear to be pricked when in August 2016 they unleashed on to the world their superb and frankly unexpected masterpiece "Croweater: An Echo In The Bone", a stunning opus packed to overflowing with fuzzy blues tinted stoner/hard rock grooves coated in uber-cool soulful vocals. The EP was warmly embraced by music fans and critics alike making it to a respectable eighth position in the September edition of The Doom Charts. This year the band release part two of their "Croweater" saga with "Croweater 2: The Last Wishes Of The Kings"
Shane Smith's gnarly bass riff introduces first and title track "The Last Wishes Of The Kings" swiftly joined by Brad Muñoz's solid, busy drums and Cody Edens and Brent Carroll's gritty chordal guitar colouring, the four musicians laying down a bedrock of prog tinted stoner/hard rock for vocalist Kenny Lawrence to wrap his soulful larynx around, the frontman telling tales of kings, thrones and broken bones in honeyed heartfelt tones, the band together creating a virtual Game of Thrones for the ears.
It might be argued that the marrying of fantastical themes of sword and sorcery to hard riff orientated rock music had seen it's day back in the mid to late 70's when bands like Uriah Heep and Dio era Rainbow ruled the roost, and in some respects that would be true, but Brent Carroll's lyrics combined with the hard edged grooves laid beneath them reinvigorates the whole fantasy inspired sub-genre for a new generation. Songs like "This Mountain", with it's big chorus and even bigger groove, "The Brink", with its chugging, insistent riff and pulverising percussion and "No Passage" with its classic rock inspired feel that recalls memories of Bad Company, are all given an added feeling of dimension and depth by Carroll's clever use of the English language, the guitarists words soaring soulfully over thick slabs of atmospheric rock music, immersing the listener in a world a million miles from the one outside his/her window.
If you yearn for those days when lyrics that told a story were as equally important as the riffs and rhythms that lay beneath them then "Croweater 2: The Last Wishes Of Kings" is something you should really check out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones