Sunday, 23 July 2017

THE CURF ~ DEATH AND LOVE......review


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Goat" Stavroulakis on rhythm and lead guitar but by the time of the release of EP "Royal Water"( 2016)  Patronidis had been replaced by Koll, a while later Stavroulakis left the band and The Curf were a trio.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

BUZZARD ~ BUZZARD ...review


Minnesota trio BuzzardPete 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

ATRAGON ~ I,NECROMANCER ... review


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 ..... 

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Friday, 14 July 2017

POSTE 942 ~ LONG PLAY .... review



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

SHROUD EATER ~ STRIKE THE SUN ... review


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 EaterJean 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

SOUND OF ORIGIN ~ SEEDS OF THE PAST .... review.


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

FALL OF AN EMPIRE ~ CROWEATER 2: THE LAST WISHES OF KINGS ... review


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