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