Monday 25 April 2016

HOREHOUND ~ Self titled

Sometimes it can be hard, when writing a review, to tag a band with a genre description without said band sending an irate e-mail screaming for your head because you have tagged them wrongly. It gets even more difficult when the "underground" scene that you write about is currently going through a period of cross-pollination where bands are constantly crossing back and forth, cherry picking elements from other musical genres and utilising them within their own sonic palettes. Thankfully Pittsburgh's Horehound have saved me from all this controversy by tagging themselves, both on Bandcamp and their Twitter and Facebook pages, as "Stoner Doom"......thanks guys!

Horehound as previously mentioned are from Pittsburgh and are a quintet made up of Shy Kennedy - vocals, , JD Daur - drums, Brendan Parrish - lead guitar, David Westfall - bass and Mike Altopiedi -  rhythm guitar. The band, only formed last year (2015), have already caught the attention of the movers and shakers of the underground scene's podcasters, bloggers and journalists and now plan to expand that attention to a wider audience with their self-titled release on Blackseed Records "Horehound".

First track "World To Come" immediately grabs the attention with Parrish and Altopiedi's gnarly doom drenched, two guitar intro. Westfall and Daur then join and the song drops into a deliciously dark and seductive mid tempo groove. Entering stage centre the vocals of Shy Kennedy arrive, her powerful voice finding itself a niche somewhere between (ex)Witch Mountain's Uta Plotkin and Holy Grove's Andrea Vidal. A tad more ethereal than the former and a little less bluesy than the latter she weaves her voice over and around a backdrop of heavy crushing riffage and pounding rhythms interspersed with touches of tasteful lead work as if she was born with a microphone in her hand.
"Sangreal" is up next and sees the band hitting a furious stoner/occult groove albeit with a darker doomier edge. Kennedy's voice sits slightly lower in the mix here allowing the insistent riff, laid down by Altopiedi, Parrish and Westfall, to be pushed to the fore. Parrish adds to this little licks and motifs that catch the ear and pull the listener further in. Special mention should also go to JD Daur his drum and percussion work is everywhere on this track.
"Crowns and Thorns" starts with Daur's cymbals crashing before exploding into a mighty circular refrain. Pounding drums and throbbing bass lines go toe to toe with chainsaw riffage and wah pedal drenched guitar solos. Once again Kennedy's vocals are laid back in the mix but this time soaked in reverb giving her voice an otherworldly, ghostly feel.
"The Dead Don't Lie" finds Horehound exploring the darker side of their sound, a bruising riff revolving around a heavily phased Kennedy vocal. Altopiedi's brutally distorted guitar and Westfall's booming bass lay down a swirling refrain that Parrish then embellishes with an array of guitar pedalled effects. The last quarter of the song sees the riffs tempo gradually increase until imploding in on itself and closing on a droning sustained single note.
"Waters Of Lethe" shifts the dynamic away from the doom/stoner grooves of previous tracks by dipping its toes into the waters of post-grunge and alt.rock. Chainsaw riffage and heavy rhythms thunder and roll beneath a stunning vocal melody that to this reviewers ears recalls  90's Scottish/American alt.rockers Garbage.
"Myope" follows much in the same vein as the last track except this time around the band mix it up with a little stoner dirt and sludgey grime.
"Waking Time" brings the album to a close and finishes the album on a high. Westfall's throbbing,distorted bass intro heralds in a titanic doom drenched rumbling riff over which Kennedy's clean vocals are answered by Altopiedi's sludgey growl. Meanwhile Daur pounds out a thunderous backdrop of hard metallic percussion while Parrish adds little touches of six-string colouring in, over and around the massive sonic wall being constructed around him. It's a huge sounding finale to an album that deserves all the plaudits that are bound to be soon heaped upon it.

Friday 22 April 2016

SHADOW WITCH ~ Promo Release

Kingston, NY's Shadow Witch have released a three track promo for their upcoming full length album "Sun Killer". The band, made up of Anton Van Kleek ● drums, ‎David Pannullo ● bass ● voice, Earl Lundy ● lead voice ● mellotron ● loops and Jeremy Hall ● guitar, deal in a mix of stoner fuzz'n'roll mixed with a little NWOBHM and doom that is then salted with a touch of psychedelic seasoning. Clean powerful vocals, searing guitar solo's and riffs over solid bass and drums are the foundations on which the band hang powerful hooks and melodies and this combined with strong songwriting skills bodes well for the prospect of a full album.


Yurt were formed in Dublin 2006, their name means "tent" in Turkish and are a trio consisting of three members,  Andrew Bushe - percussion, Steven Anderson - guitar, vocals, electronics and Boz Mugabe - bass, vocals, electronics and if you wish to know more than that... well good luck.
Yurt are a band who like to play their cards close to their chests, cloaking themselves in a veil of mysticism even going as far as to  referring to themselves as "The Sonic Elders".
The band have released two albums "Ege Artemis Yurtum" and "Archipelagog" and on May 28, 2016 will release their third album "III-Molluskkepokk".

"Prog" can and is often seen as a dirty word these days, recalling a time in the mid to late 70's when bands like YES and ELP  foisted on the world's rock audiences bloated, self-indulgent, overly produced and often mind-numbingly boring conceptual albums.
The bad news is Yurt, among other things, dabble in "prog", the good news is there is no way on earth you could call what they do as "boring".
From the electronic/synthesised intro of "Lesion In The Chrysalis" through to the galloping final seconds of "Testament To Zero" not a note is wasted in mindless meandering. Brutality, ambiance and complexity sit side by side in a mix of grooves that take in elements of both old school traditional and intricate progressive metal. Around these two extremes of the same genre Yurt weave threads of  spacey electronics and shimmering psych colouring to construct a tapestry of  immense sonic magnitude. Whether grooving around a series of riffs as on "Parasitic Cabal" or going off on occasional cosmic tangents as on the excellent "Ruptured By The Shrapnel" the intensity of  what Yurt do is never diluted. Tracks "Sjambok" and "Unknown Component" see the band keep the foot firmly on the pedal, the former and shorter of the two being a stunning instrumental workout.. Throughout the albums six tracks the levels of musicianship are nothing short of breathtaking. Anderson's guitar and Mugabe's bass coil around themselves like the threads of a Celtic knot, furious licks and solo's interchanging with booming jazzy bottom end while Bushe  pushes, steers and drives the groove from below with accomplished and dexterous percussion. Vocals are mostly shared and are delivered clean with a monotone gruffness that fits in perfectly with the bands sonic soundscapes. The previously mentioned "Testament To Zero" closes the album in a storm of swirling synthesisers, gnarly riffage and thundering percussion, the band jamming a groove that has them sounding as if they were the bastard offspring of a pairing between Hawkwind and Mastadon,,,,,, and if that don't get you hitting the repeat button ...nothing will.

Tuesday 19 April 2016


San Diego, CA has thrown up a slew of good underground bands lately The Great Electric Quest and Amigo being just two of them. One band who, through sheer hard work and determination, have also been making a name for themselves in San Diego's underground scene are stoner/hard rock/doom architects Red Wizard. The band, who were formed in 2010, have been steadily raising their profile by constantly gigging in and around the San Diego areas bars, clubs and venues, delivering strong, powerful and passionate live performances that have earned the band a healthy respect from all those lucky enough to have witnessed them. In 2014 the band expanded this loyal fan base to an even wider audience with the release of 2014's self-titled EP on STB Records.
This year the quintet of Travis Baucum - Vocals/Harmonica, Miles Von Ricketson - Lead Guitar, Casey Lamontagne - Guitar, David Wilburn - Bass and Shane Kepler - Drums released their debut album " Cosmosis" in collaboration with both STB and Ripple Music

First track "Tides of War" opens with Wilburn's rolling bass riff trading off against Iommi -esque power chords before the whole thing changes direction as the main riff kicks in. Von Ricketson and  Lamontagne's guitars stutter and slur over a foundation of thunderous percussion and bone shaking bass supplied by Kepler and Wilburn before Baucum  enters into the fray , his deep throaty rasp roaring lyrics of blood, sword and flame. Von Ricketson lays down some seriously tasteful solos and licks over a groove that mixes Grand Magus-like heavy metal with Sabbath-ish traditional bluesy doom. It's a perfect way to open an album and bodes well for what is still to come.
"Tinnitus" is next up and this time Red Wizard move away from the "traditional" doom of the previous track and instead take a trip to the "epic" side of the genre. Built around huge slow crushing riffs and underpinned by a thunderous rhythmic backdrop the song screams out for a big vocal and Baucum provides this in spades. The front man trades his gruff stoner/sludge growl for a more mournful slightly gothic tone, the JD soaked rasp remains but here it is reigned in, refined. Massive sounding and embellished with some nice guitar touches I can see fans of The Gates of Slumber and Solitude Aeturnus really digging this.
"Blinded" explodes next from the speakers its blues drenched doom grooves speckled with crunchy riffs, searing solo's and tight solid rhythms, Baucum lays down a superb vocal as well as providing an absolutely exceptional harmonica solo, blowing his harp like a delta bluesman of old whose just found where he left his mojo.
"Cosmosis" opens in a frenzy of stabbed power chords and crashing bass and drums before Von Ricketson steps up to add in a deliciously simple but beautifully effective lead guitar motif. Baucum reverts to his epic, mournful tone, holding onto notes with a powerful vocal dexterity. At around the four minute mark the song takes a left turn into psych territory, Baucum roars/moans a wordless vocal over heavily effect laden guitars, intricate jazzy percussion and dancing bass lines before sitting it out to allow the rest of the band free reign to go wherever the muse takes them. Led Zeppelin fans may hear similarities to the famous middle section  of" Whole Lotta Love" and like that song this one soons segues back into its main riff. It's a trip!
The final three songs are a concept piece set into three short movements
"Red Wizard Suite Part 1" starts life with a jazzy fusion groove intro before erupting into a stoner doom monster that sees  Baucum spitting and snarling out the vocals as Von Ricketson, Lamontagne and Wilburn lay down the fuzz and Kepler lays down the beat.
"Red Wizard Suite Part 2"is more or less an instrumental bridge between parts 1 and 3 and incorporates both neo-classical and  bluesy guitar heroics, a bass solo and a solid, precise drumming display.
"Red Wizard Suite Part 3" closes the album and anyone familiar with, 70's, Australian, proto-metal legends Buffalo will recognise a similarity to the riff from their song "Shylock" Whether intentional or not there is nevertheless enough originality in and around that riff for the band to claim this as their own, Raucous drumming, deep throaty clean vocals and enough fuzzy guitar and bass to fill a waste truck all combine to take to a close a very good and deeply satisfying album from a band who borrow a little from the past and bring it to the here and now.
Check it out..

Monday 11 April 2016


Gorilla vs Grifter is a split album, featuring two of the UK's hardest working stoner/hard rock bands, released on HeviSike Records The album, mastered by Mos Generator's Tony Reed, sees both bands contributing four songs each, going head to head in fuzz-off to see who can be the gnarliest, dirtiest rock'n'roll band in Britain.

Gorilla get to go first and state their case with four songs of the greasiest, grimiest fuzz'n'roll your ever likely to hear outside of a Motorhead gig. "Both Barrells" channels the spirit of the late Lemmy's band by grooving on an " Ace of Spades" type riff that would be sure to make the big man smile ."Slay Rider" fuses gritty blues and fuzzy stoner in a glorious hybrid of the two and boasts an incendiary guitar solo."Grind Yer Down" again goes down the Motorhead route but this time the guys mix it up with little touches of lysergic psych. Gorilla finish of their section of the split with "Three Squeeler" a balls to the wall, take no prisoners rocker that is bound to become a mosh pit favourite when it is played live. All four tunes are coated with raw, throaty vocals and played with such force and power that you could well be fooled into thinking this was a live concert recording

Grifter are up next and mount their challenge with "Falling Asleep" a high tempo, fuzz drenched ripper that boasts a catchy chorus and addictive, crunchy riff. "Paige Turner" struts its stuff with a series of stuttering heavy riffs that are part 70's hard rock and part 90's desert grooviness."Hi Wasted" starts off pure rock'n'roll then detours into the blues with some tasty harp playing before returning to its root to take it to its close. "Me Love" closes both the album and Grifters contribution to it with a gritty stoner/desert workout that sees the three members firing on all cylinders in a delicious blend of gritty vocals, distortion drenched bass and guitar and tight powerful drumming.

The title to this superb split is Gorilla vs Grifter so it could be assumed that this is a competition and that a winner should be chosen. Well in my humble opinion there can only be one winner here ...........
the listener!

Sunday 10 April 2016


Psychedelic rock. acid rock and psych are terms we often use for when rock music steps outside the boundaries of the conventional and enters into the realms of experimentation. The beginnings of this form of rock music can be traced back to the late 60's when bands like the Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service moved away from the restraints of the three minute pop song and started adding elements of colour and texture into their music, often taking off into flights of fancy with extended jams that could go off on a tangent into unexplored areas. it was an era of freedom and expression and this new music reflected that freedom.
The advent of hard rock in the mid to late 70's somewhat curtailed psychedelia's march although aspects of it could still be found within the music of the progressive bands albeit with a slightly more complex and classical edge. The 80's saw psychedelia rear it's head once again this time within the realms of electronic music but it was the 90's that saw the genre start to get a foothold in the rock world again. The stoner and doom bands that emerged out of  the USA desert scene started to merge 60's psychedelic/acid vibes into their hard edged riff heavy grooves and in doing so created a whole new genre that we among the underground scene now call PSYCH!

Jagannatha are, it could be argued, direct descendants of those 90's bands who re-took psychedelia in the name of rock. The quartet from Grenoble, France blend together an eclectic mix of stoner grit and prog complexity with lo-fi doom and groovy psych and serve it all with high levels of skill and musical excellence all of which can be found on the bands self-titled debut.

First track " Krishna" opens up like a chrysalis slowly metamorphasizing  into a butterfly, light percussion and gentle arpeggios making way for ripped fuzz fuelled riffage and heavy rhythmic thunder before then falling back again. This ebbing and flowing of dynamics is then surrounded by Eastern influenced guitar motifs, complex percussion,swirling solos and massive throbbing bass lines., the whole thing building layer by layer until ending in a heavy psychedelic crescendo.
"Uchchaihshravas"  builds it's groove around a deliciously seductive bass line over which shards of guitar colouring are thrown in an almost random but perfectly placed order and are supported from beneath by precise and intricate drumming. At around the five minute mark things take a dark turn and this beautiful tranquillity is shattered as the band explode into a fuzz heavy riff. The band spend the next nine minutes plus using this riff as a base camp from which to go off in various directions of musical exploration, exiting on exotic flights of fancy then returning for a while before taking off into the stratosphere once again, it's breathtaking.
"Airavata" dispenses with gentle beginnings and instead goes straight for the throat with a deliciously dark low-fi doom riff. From this initial riff the song slowly climbs through a series of dynamic layers, building the tempo and intensity with each layer and filling these layers with swirling guitar solos, licks and motifs, furiously intense drumming and percussion and thrumming, bone shaking bass. It's heavy, spine tingling and totally brilliant.
After the whirlwind of the previous track the listener might feel in need of some respite and Jagannatha provide it briefly with the beautiful and quite compelling intro into final track "Kalki"  it's light fusion groove enhanced by jazzy chord progressions and arpeggios from the two guitars and complimented by funky drums and bass. This respite does not last though and its not long before the fuzz returns and we are back in heavy doom/psych territory but again this is only a temporary thing and the music shifts once more moving up a gear into a more stoner-ish metal groove. It would be enough for many listeners if the band stopped there but no this band wants you to take you to the edge of the cliff  and beyond and do so with a stunning lysergic final section that sees shimmering guitars soar over angular, jagged rhythms. Seventeen minutes, seven seconds of instrumental heaven.

I was desperately trying to avoid the word "journey" while reviewing this album but to describe this release without using that word has nigh on proved impossible mainly because this band and this album DO take you on a journey. The band create sonic voyages that propel the listener through worlds of colour, texture and mood that are at times heavy, brutal and tight and at others light, delicate and loose with the two extremes winding themselves around each other to create a whole that is, at all times, just mesmerizing.

Thursday 7 April 2016


Stonerror describe themselves, among other things, as a "psychedelic/stonerpunk band" and I have no arguments with this except to add the words "a, very, and good" in front of that description.
The four piece of Jarosław Daniel - guitar, Jacek Malczewski - bass, Łukasz Mazur - vocals and Maciej Ołownia - drums were formed in 2015 in Krakow, Poland and name Kyuss, QOTSA, Sabbath and The Stooges among others as factors for shaping their sound and groove. Despite only being together a short time the band felt it was time to get something down on tape, something tangible to represent what the band were all about and so this year released their debut EP "Rattlesnake Moan".

 "Rattlesnake Moan
" is an EP that will no doubt be embraced by those that enjoy their grooves a little sandblasted and gritty, those that worship at the altar of Josh Homme and his cohorts but there is much more buried here among these five cuts than just Kyuss homage. Stonerror bring elements of space, folk and even a little punky hardcore, to the table, adding an air of eclectic diversity to this mix of stoner fuzz and desert grit. The EP consists of  four well written,, original songs of which the title track "Rattlesnake Moan" stands out as the highlight, it's tribal drumming and, almost, Celtic groove giving it an almost epic doom feel that is further enhanced by its wonderful ambiguous lyrics and clean slightly gothic vocal tones. Coming close second is the opening track "Jericho" a track that builds from humble beginnings into something spectacular, touching base with elements of space, psych and sludge on its glorious journey. The band even throw in a Beatles cover... "Tomorrow Never Knows" takes Lennon and McCartney's song, adds a soupcon of fuzz and distortion a pinch of Hawkwind-like swirl and perfectly updates the Fab Fours 60's ode to psychedelia for the here and now.

All told "Rattlesnake Moan" is an exciting debut that although a little raw in places nevertheless promises great things for the future.

Wednesday 6 April 2016


A three piece band from Texas who play blues based rock'n'roll, surely this is a story we have all read before? Well you might think so except these guys are from Dallas not Houston and none of them have appeared in a Nickleback video!
Crypt Trip, as mentioned earlier, are from Dallas, Texas and came together in 2013, the following year the band released their self-titled album to rave reviews. Sam (bass), Cam (drums) and Ryan (guitar, vocals) have since continued working hard rehearsing, gigging, writing songs and have just released "Mabon Songs" a three song EP.

"Natural Chylde" erupts from the speakers, a thrumming distorted bass line bolstered by shimmering percussion, over which a funky, choppy wah drenched guitar riff is then laid. This riff  trades back and forth with the songs catchy guitar motif before the vocals kick in. The vocals are clean and bluesy in a Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac) way and although brief add to the late 60's early 70's proto/retro feel that permeates throughout. After this short vocal interlude the song reverts into an extended jam section with the rhythm section laying down a storming groove over which the guitar swoops and swirls in a scintillating display of guitar virtuosity. Vocals briefly reappear before the songs taken to its close with a gloriously funky outro.
"Tears of Gaia" keeps its foot on the retro pedal and see the band throwing a few early Deep Purple- ish  chord progressions into the mix, albeit with an up-tempo stonerized twist. Lyrically more complex than the previous track, the vocals are again clean and speak of ancient forests, evil rites and toxic mists, something that fit perfectly into the proto-blues groove the band are so adept at re-creating.
"Mabon Song" closes the EP with a short part acoustic instrumental number. Gentle acoustics are strummed/picked against a heavily effected electric guitar overlay. Short, pretty and fragile sounding it shows that these guys have more than one string to their bow.

If your a fan of the retro/modern, hard/stoner blues rock of bands like Graveyard, Kadavar and La Betre then you cannot go far wrong by checking out Crypt Trip

Saturday 2 April 2016

RUINAS de SADE ~ RUINAS de SADE .......EP review

Hugo Grubert - vocals, Vitor "Bob" Zen - guitars, Paulo Machado - Bass / synth and Gustavo Gamba - drums are four Brazilians who collectively make up doom/sludge/heavy stoners Ruinas de Sade. The band who were formed in Brusque, Brazil brought together by their love of Sleep, Sabbath, QOTSA and Kyuss.have just released a three song, self titled, EP.

Let there be no doubt, Ruinas de Sade worship at the altar of the riff in the venerable Temple of Doom, be under no illusions that these guys are going to fill your head with pretty psychedelic colours and moments of ambient beauty these guys deal in the three D's... downtuned ,dirty and doom.
"Funeral do Sol" opens the EP and the listener is immediately struck by the depth and delicious doomy darkness of the bands sound, Zen's guitar and Machado's bass combine to create a huge wall of fuzz and distortion which is pushed from beneath by Gamba's versatile drum work. Grubert's delivers his vocals in Portuguese, a fact that does not, for an English speaking audience , detract in any way from their impact. He fills the spaces between the songs instrumental passages with powerful emotive tones, his voice conveying a sinister evilness that totally fits in with the bands sonic manifesto.
"Divindade Abissal" slowly rolls out on a groove that is almost "industrial" in sound, Machado's rumbling bass and Gamba's pounding drums creating a sound more akin to a foundry than the rhythm section of a doom band. Zen fills the gaps and crevices in this onslaught with droning guitar riffs and sinister solo's while Grubert intones mantra -like vocals overhead. It's powerful and a little malevolent.
"Cadavar de Terra"  finishes the EP with a Sleep-like heavy desert groove full of both subtle and brutal changes in tempo and dynamic. Vocals are a little more traditional in structure than on the previous tune and are supplemented with the use of spoken sections that help ramp up the brooding atmosphere of the piece. Zen's incessant guitar riff builds up the tension, a tension that is further enhanced by the solid and tight rhythms being created beneath him from the  bassist and drummer, he also takes the song to the fade with an incredibly tasteful solo that has more than a touch of bluesy swagger in its execution.

For those of you who are a little wary of listening to bands with  non-English vocal/lyrics suspend your prejudices and listen to the vocals as just another instrument, forget about the content of the lyrics and just dig the vibe and feel that is being portrayed. you might just find you open yourself up to a whole new world of music

Friday 1 April 2016

CHOKE THE PALM TREE ~ THE CLEARING .......album review

The power of an albums artwork is something that one should never underestimate, if it was not for the cartoon image of a shapely cow -girl in hot pants, thong just visible, outside of a seedy saloon I may never of discovered German duo Choke The Palm Tree and their excellent second album "Hoax".That may say a lot about me also but let's not go there at the moment!

Choke The Palm Tree are Fabian Kunze (vox/guitars) and Roman Riemann (vox/drums) and hail from Pansdorf, Germany dealing in stoner/sludge grooves inspired by Kyuss, Baroness as well as all the usual suspects. The band, as well as releasing the aforementioned  "Hoax"  (2013) previously released "Stone or Rock" (2011) with both albums being quite well received within the stoner/doom and psych community. the band have now released their third album "The Clearing" via Bandcamp.

"The Clearing " sees Choke The Palm Tree continue on their path to world domination by tightening up some of the looseness of the two previous outings and adding a touch of melody that although was evident on both "Hoax" and "Stoner or Rock" is ramped up somewhat on "The Clearing"
"Olympus Mons" opens the album and highlights the bands unique ability to blend  hard/stoner, fuzz drenched, melody with intense sludge metal brutality, finding a middle ground between the two without compromising either. The songs slightly indie like clean vocals are offset with chainsaw riffage and precise and thunderous rhythms giving the song a unique swinging groove.
This theme of accessible stoner meets hard edged sludge continues throughout the albums eleven tracks with highlights being the excellent "The Bell" with its stuttering, stop start riff and infectious percussive nuances and "The Goat" with its more straight forward foot to the floor stoner grooviness. CTPT step outside of the box on a regular basis throughout the album especially on closing track "Gargantua" its angular and shifting tempos aligned with a harmonised vocal that is almost nursery rhyme-ish in delivery. In fact there is not a track on "The Clearing" that does not have some aspect of quirkiness or off-kilter edginess within its grooves and it is this combined with the high level of musicianship and strong songwritting that make this album such an exciting and interesting listen.