Nov 30, 2009

Eggnogg Is Thick And Heavy ( And So Is The Band )

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A recent discovery for me was finding "Eggnogg" a hard rock/sludge band from upstate New York. They are not your typical sludge/doom band as they have their own sound happening while still remaining real heavy within the stoner/sludge/doom genre. I wanted to find out more about the band so i asked for this interview and they agreed to do it. Read the interview and go check out the tunes, they are a band to look out for.

1. Hello and thanks for the interview, first question is how long has the band been together and how did the band formed ?

Eggnogg has its roots in a band called GonZo that we formed in high school in 2004, which had as its core members Justin, Quinn, and I.

2. I must asked this, how and why did you come up the name "Eggnogg" ?

Upon recording our latest album, we decided that there were too many bands using the same name as us, and so we figured we ought to change our name before releasing it. As for the specific name "Eggnogg," I'm uncertain what made it stand out above the others we had in mind. Possibly it was because the name is meaningless, and unused. Reflecting after the fact, I suppose a rational reason would be that the drink is thick and heavy, and an acquired taste.

3. How would you describe the sound of the band ?

Heavy Rock. Others may choose to call it doom, sludge, fuzz-rock, or psychedelia.

4. The album has pretty good production, where did you do the recording ?

We recorded the album at Justin's house, producing the entire thing ourselves.

5. Do you have specific themes for your songs or are they just inspired by whats in your head at the time of writing ?

Often times I'm unsure where the songs are coming from when I'm writing them, but they always turn out to be very significant and even prophetic of my own life. There is always a meaning to be found in our music, and these themes tie in with each other, illustrating large philosophical concepts that cannot otherwise be described.

6. Has the band played many live shows ? The reason is ask is the band has been a pretty well kept secret so far !

We played quite a few shows in our home town throughout the years, but recently we have often been distanced from each other for one reason or another.

7. What is your local scene like and is there many venues at the moment where you live for Sludge/Doom bands ?

There is no scene at all for our kind of music where we're from. And on top of that, there are very few musicians around willing to play that kind of music. Venues in the area are generally bars looking for cover bands.

8. What band do you think has the ultimate sound and do you model yourself on any bands in particular ?

We have our inspirations, but our collective vision for the music is to do something new. Some of my favorite bands are Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Pink Floyd.

9. Does the band have any long term ambitions in terms of touring and record deals etc ?

Definitely. We're hoping a label will pick us up so the album can have a proper release, but right now we're a bit too unknown to have drawn much attention.

10. Has the band had many reviews ? From my research i have only found one so far which was a really positive but short review on the Sludge Swamp website.

Well, not many, since we just recently adopted our current name and recorded our first album only last summer. Hopefully the word will spread about us.

11. How is the album being distributed and how can the readers get hold of the CD ?

We haven't managed to get the CD in stores yet, but you can get it directly through us by emailing to
Any other inquiries should also be sent to this address.

12. One thing i noticed about the band is some of the great solo guitar work, its real heavy but there is also a hint of melody also. What is your personal opinion on the songs, are you happy with the way they turned out or do you wish you could change some parts ?

I am very content with how the album turned out. We have been recording for years, and I think we've finally managed to make something that captures how we actually sound.

13. So what is in the immediate future for the band ? Is there any shows lined up you want to mentioned right now ?

Nothing planned at the present. We'll be writing the next album this winter, and doing some demos. Recently I moved to Brooklyn, and so the band is separated for the moment, but hopefully we can make a new home for ourselves down here in the city.

14. Thanks again for the interview, any last words ?

Check us out. Torrent the album if you have to. The songs are up on Youtube. Spread the word. Burn it for your friends. At this point I'm only concerned with getting our name out there. My biggest goal is for people to hear us.

UPDATE: The album is now available from here - Eggnogg - The Three

Samsara Blues Experiment - Long Distance Trip

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A band i have only recently been introduced to is Samsara Blues Experiment. This Berlin three piece were formed after psychedelic blues band Terraplane split in 2007. Samsara Blues Experiment play classic stoner rock, with a strong with a strong psychedelic vibe inspired by late 60's, early 70's music. They have some diverse influences include for example Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Sleep, Earthless and Mammatus. The band is formed by Christian Peters: vocals, guitars, sitar, organ, synthesizer, Richard Behrens: bass, effects and Thomas Wedder: drums and percussion. The band's sound is nothing new but the wide range of influences and instruments that they use gives the band a unique feel that sets them apart from other bands playing this style. The material on this album is as diverse as is their influences from the 13 minute "Center of the Sun" with its long wah-wah drenched guitar solo's to "Wheel of Life" which is a acoustic number. "Army of Ignorance" has the band heading into Doom Metal mode with a riff at the beginning that is real dark and moody. "Double Freedom" has the band sounding a bit like "Holy Mountain era Sleep" but stretching the music out into 20+ minutes of sprawling, jammy, psychedelic psyche rock. Someone described this band as "Imagine Robin Trower jamming with the guys from Sleep and add some Sitar" and a more accurate description would be hard to come by. One thing that is great about this album is how the different styles flow so smoothly into each other within the songs and from one song to the next. The whole band is driven by solid percussion, the fuzzed and effected guitars are never overused in a pretentious way. The bass playing is smooth but powerful and the vocals remind me of Dave Brock from Hawkwind. They have that lazy but cosmic vibe about them which fits in well with the psychedelic musical excursions they indulge themselves in. There is not much to hate about this CD, everything on it is essential listening if like the more psychedelic end of stoner rock. One question that must be asked though is why hasn't a big label or at least a big independent label picked this band up, they even toured the US on totally their own money. I guess its another example of how screwed up the music business is at the moment but if any band needs some support its this one. I have read some live reviews for the band and the reviews have been mixed so i am not too sure if the band can pulled this stuff off live or not. All i know for now is "Long-Distance Trip" is a solid, interesting psychedelic proto-metal journey of the stoner kind that while some of it wanders a little bit, there is also some killer grooves and hooks that are hard to get out of your head even after just one spin of the CD. Give them a listen. 9/10

Nov 26, 2009

Trouble - Live In Los Angeles

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OK i must start off by saying i wasn't even going to buy this album but i found a brand new copy for $5 on Amazon so i went for it and i was going to avoid reviewing the album because i really don't have much time for Kory Clarke as a singer or front-man. I did see the band earlier this year and thought Clarke did a good job on some songs but he also butchered some others, i hope he is doing a better job these days. I am really waiting for the new Trouble studio album to emerge before i can give a final judgment on Clarke and how the future of Trouble is looking. This live album however i must admit, Clarke does sound better than he did when i saw him performing with the band. The track list on this album is a little disappointing, it focuses on Trouble from the 90's and apart from one song ( End Time ) it ignores early Trouble classics like The Tempter, Pray For The Dead, Victim Of The Insane etc etc. That still remains the bands strongest era in my book so to totally ignore such material makes this live-set seem un-even and more importantly much less doom. The fact is Trouble stopped being a doom when they released Run To The Light in 87. Having said that, i still rate the 90's stuff as being real good and its only the Simple Mind Condition album that never manage to grab me. I have been listening to Trouble since 83 when a friend gave me a live cassette and apart from Black Sabbath there isn't another band i have listened to more. This is why i am so passionate about my opinions on Clarke, i didn't think they could ever replace Wagner but i seriously think they could have found a better replacement than the ex-Warrior Soul singer which is a band i didn't like at all. There is no need to talk about songs, i am sure most of you have heard them all but i will make a few points worth noting. "R.I.P" sounds like a band during a sound-check, something is not quite right with the sound or the playing, it lacks all the energy of the studio version of the track. "The Sleeper" has the band sounding tight and Clarke delivers a decent performance of the song. From that point on the album is listenable till you get to "Troublemaker" which is rendered almost intolerable by the drenching of echo and re-verb on Kory's voice. The production on this album isn't great, i have better sounding live bootlegs than the recording on this but it is still passable. One wonders why they haven't released more live albums in the past, this seems long overdue. Rick Wartell's and Bruce Franklin's guitar work on this should be reason enough to check this out but how much you listen to it really depends on your appreciation of Clarke,for now i still have mixed feelings. 7/10

Semtex - Pot Secret

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One of the most promising new Finnish sludge bands, keeping a slightly more stoner-like groove than other bands from that country which seems to be more into the funeral doom style. Released on CDR and limited to 200 copies but its already been picked up by many downloading sites which has actually helped them a great deal in getting their name and music out to the stoner's around the world. The cover and packaging has gathered some attentions also because of the artwork but also because it is printed on brown wax paper type material. Its also comes with a pretty cool booklet so for a DIY release, it is a good pick-up. Onto the music, well one look at the cover and song titles tells the story. This is a weed-worshiping stoner sludge doom outfit following the riff mastery of bands like Sleep, Bongzilla and Goatsnake but they do have some more mellow psychedelic moments. The disc starts the bong hopping caravan with a track about the dangers of smoking pot or so it seems at first before you realize it is quite the opposite. Just like Bongzilla they use a lot of spoken word samples about weed, even the vocals sound just like the Bongzilla crew. The track is called "Loading Up" and the giant riffing is all there, they don't anything you haven't heard before but the lyrical play on words is extremely well done. The words are delivered like orders to be obeyed rather than suggestions but like most other weed obsessed bands, the subject matter is rather limited. There is only so many ways you can write about weed and its been done to death a million times before it seems. I have nothing against bands using weed as a subject matter but it has really become a cliche and does show a lack of imagination for the most part. The main thing the band has going for them is the big riffs and there is plenty of them on this 30 minute disc, cuts like "Next Hit" and the 10 minute "Slow No Mercy" shows what the band is capable of which is sonic thunderous riff fests. The guitar sound is huge, fuzzy and real thick, the bass is not far behind in terms of fullness. The drum sound is equally big with a snare sound more like a floor tom. Not much more to add really about it, if you are already a fan of the influences I have already mentioned you will get some good bong hitting pleasure from this band but I feel their best work is yet to come. A full length album could be in the works and if they get the production even bigger they could be lethal. This is a pretty good first effort that at times is little bit too predictable but man this is real HEAVY!! 8.5/10

Nov 25, 2009

Dali's Llama - Raw Is Real

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Would you believe Dali's Llama have just released their 8th album, I bet most of you haven't most of them, if not all of them. This is a tragedy as this band is one of the most truest, most dedicated stoner rockers in the world of fuzzed out desert rock riffarama. Their last 2 albums "Full on Dunes and 2007’s Sweet Sludge" show the quality the band can produced as both albums delivered so many cool grooves and no-frills hard rock. Dali’s Llama’s production partnership continues on this album with Scott Reeder (The Obsessed, Kyuss)and it must be said the production on this CD is smokin hot! This album has a heavier, rawer, darker feel about it but still retains all the Dali's Llama's trademark riff oriented chugging rock and roll attitude. There is so many ass-kicking moments on the disc like on "Hell No" when they deliver one of the most ball tearing solo's you will ever hear. This is the real shit in terms of desert rock, total rocking that is pretty clean sounding really but once again its the attitude and the conviction they deliver within the songs that is the key.

"Syphilization" has one killer riff which makes me relise why I got into stoner rock in the first place, the guitar duo of Huskey and Dillion just breathes fire into the songs with the guitar sound right up in the mix. There is a little change of pace with "Always" which has a lay back mellow, psychedelic type of groove going on but most of this album is full of pure psyche rock grooves, a good example would be "Blackout" and they even put some groove into a punky number called "Grump". "Theocracy" has a cutting sound, both musically and lyrically but still keeps a intensity going even though its a pretty slow track. I didn't get no lyric sheet but from what I can figure out, the lyrics are slightly political which is unusual for a band of this ilk but they not only pulled it off but they sound honest, convincing and genuine. The title track "Raw Is Real" is pure Kyuss meets Monster Magnet and gets the album off to a exciting start, the vocal sound of Zach Huskey is sounding better than ever on this tune.

The album ends with the feedback rich closer "Fluids", not what I would call a standout track but a fitting way to end a album of this magnitude. Elsewhere on the album you will find the cuts "Slug Man" and "Eve's Navel", good tracks in their own right but a little less memorable than the rest of the disc. This is a minor quibble however as not many bands manage to squeeze this many good tracks on a album these days. Along with the impressive guitar sounds of Huskey and Dillion, you also get the thick, very warm bass tones of Erica Huskey which not only adds some nice bottom to the sound but it also compliments the drumming of Jeff Howe perfectly. Dali's Llama are basically desert rock for the experienced desert rocker, the kind of listener that has grown up on Kyuss but there is also kind of 70's rock groove that echoes the sounds of groups like The Groundhogs, The Edgar Broughton Band, Savoy Brown and The James Gang only with more of a gritty attitude.

The cool and also slightly unique thing about the band is their ability to be totally rocking in a swampy way but remaining totally assessable and catchy. Let's face it, most stoner/desert rock band died years ago with the best bands long gone or only mere shadows of their former selves and keep in mind the amount of imitators from the cities that jumped the desert band-wagon all those years ago, where are they know ?
Its with this philosophy I am glad there is still a band like Dali's Llama to fly the desert rock flag and fly it with honesty, dedication and a sense of fun, not to mention loads of good old grooves. Give it a listen, this should be the album to get you hooked if not so already. Out on Dali's Llama Records. 9/10

Nov 24, 2009

Bone Parade - Vollmondlieder

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Bone Parade's Vollmondlieder is a exercise in chilling ambient darkness put together by by married duo and Albany Sonic Arts Collective regulars Kevin Johnston and Erica Sparrow. The music within is of the droning doom variety and while music like is limited with what you can do with it, Bone Parade do manage to come up with something that is not just another homage to Sunn O))). Originally released on cassette by Scotch Tapes, it is only 20 minutes long containing 4 tracks on a wonderfully made hand-made, hand-sewn sleeve. Opener "Mandragora/Death And The Maiden" engulfs you in drone and operatic vocals and the feeling you get off this is one of coldness. I can't help thinking about a frozen wasteland while listening to this. You have the operatic singing of Erica Sparrow which gives the music a entirely different atmosphere to most other bands in the drone genre. Kevin Johnston provides the noise behind it while Sparrow recites a spoken word passage, very effective and like I said before - chilling. "Selenite" has a more industrial feel about it while making a hell of a thunderous noise. "The White Ship Has Sailed" and "Veneration" seems the music more grounded but the vocal sharing on "Veneration" from Johnston and Sparrow creates a even colder atmosphere but seems to be the least original piece of the EP. This is best described as "esoteric drone" so might not be to everyones taste but I like it, if you are already a drone fan you will know what to expect. They are hardly breaking any new ground but they are also not copying anyone either, this sounds fresh in a genre that is trapped within its own cliches. The CD version of Vollmondlieder is limited to 200, and one look at it and you will see the hard work that went into making it. 8/10

Nov 23, 2009

The Company Corvette - The Company Meeting

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The Company Corvette from Philly are stuck in the past, I mean really! Is that bad, no of course not but this album is so chock full of 70's riffs, 70's Proto Metal sections and Bluesy sections, it is really like a time - machine taking you back to a time when music was honest and simple. First track "Butter Woman" kicks things off with a Motorhead meets ZZ Top vibe, the main riff has a swaggering groove and when the vocals kick in with its lay-back almost T-Rex sound, you know you are in for a fun ride. "End It" and "Hole" keep the grooves going with the band's exceptional guitar work from Alexei who is no slouch at a ripping solo either. The rhythm section of "Ross(bass and vocals) and Peter (Drums) are solid but without taking any of the limelight away from the guitar work which is the main focus of the songs. The title track "The Company Meeting" is Classic Blues Rock done with a slight modern Stoner Rock edge, a great tune and the riff change just before the 2 minute mark rocks. I wish they had of kept that going a little longer, this is pure catchy Rock N Roll. This track features another killer solo,nothing original about it but the execution of the songs is well played. "Party" doesn't do it for me however, a bit short and simplistic but they regain my attention with "Old New" which is one of the more stomping tracks on the album. Track 7 is called "22" and for the first time on the album you hear a little Doom riff but that doesn't last for long before they switch gears and move back in the Bluesy Hard Rock style. The last two tracks "Trouble" and "Dirty" are more of the same, just good old Hard Rock sounds. If 70's Rock still raises the hairs on the back of your neck or if you are looking for a good party record, you should like most of this album from The Company Corvette. Its worth the price of admission just for the amount of groove in the guitar work, if there is a weak point its the vocals. Not that its bad but it just lacks a bit of power and variety. He sings nearly everything in the same tone and pitch, I think if he added a bit more range to his voice the songs would gain would benefit a lot from the added dynamics. For fans of ZZ Top, Thin Lizzy, Motorhead and Queens Of The Stone Age, while I think this band can still improve a lot, this is a pretty good starting point. 7.5/10

Highgate - S/T

First up, I don't have the artwork available at the moment so sorry about that and this album came out in 2008, I don't why or how I missed this one so sorry again but here is a much overdue review of one of the most depressing, bleak and inaccessible albums ever recorded. This album contains just one untitled 50 + minute piece of Blackened Doom. Whenever a band attempts something like this, you run the risk of producing something really mind-numbing boring or something really mind-blowing brilliant. Remember when Sleep recorded Jerusalem, the record was panned by critics and even some fans but look at it these days. The record is seen a one of the most important Doom albums ever recorded, these type of recordings take time to grow on you and Highgate's S/T album is no exception. The music on this album is a sick, bleak nasty piece of Blackened Sludge Droning Doom in the style of Burning Witch,Grief, Noothgrush, Winter, Wreck of the Hesperus, and Corrupted to name a few bands but Highgate maybe might be taking it a step further down the path of pure misery. This is the kind of record that will either have you on the edge of your seat with the crippling tension or leave you searching for the nearest razor blade. I will admit you have to be in the mood for this stuff and a great degree of patience wont go astray either. It's slow and extremely pounding, and while most people would likely be bored witless by such a long, fearsome doom song, there's enough variety here to keep most doom fans interested, because just as the song starts to drag they throw in some few mid paced riffs here to keep it interesting. While this sticks to the mostly Funeral Ambient Doom sound, they do occasionally break into more traditional Doom riffing. There is a section around the 25 minute mark that could be off any Reverend Bizarre album and at around 40 minute point, there is one riff that is right up there with any Traditional Doom band. The mood however stays as tormenting as possible, its unsettling and with vocals that sound a lot like Khanate's singer. There is not a huge amount of lyrics though as the band seems to focus on producing bleak and sometimes ambient sounds while retaining a evil atmosphere. If you are looking for something catchy or something you can nod your head to, you better stay away from this one but if you are of the extreme Doom persuasion, then you will love this. The only downside is the production which seems to be demo quality but still its good demo quality. This is an album that's been done pretty well in an genre that is a hard one to pull off successfully, and Highgate have done it and are to be commended for that. Not recommended for the average Metal Head perhaps but if you have a lot of patience then you'll probably enjoy this album a great deal. 8/10

Nov 22, 2009

Goat River

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Goat River from France must really love American Stoner/Doom/Desert Rock sounds because this 6 tracker CDR sounds straight out of the 90's Desert Rock scene. Sounding like a hybrid of Sleep, The Melvins and Kyuss. This band would have to be one the best bands I have heard from France in a long time, maybe the best since Rising Dust first hit the scene. The only downside to this CD is the bass which is mixed or buried way too far down in the recording, apart from that this is great instrumental Stoner Doom. The CD kicks off with "Only Living Is Dying" and "You Sure Need A Mustache" and it becomes clear early on that this band is intent on causing some serious ear damage, if only the flaws in the bass sound weren't there. The riffing most of the time manages to create a trance-like effect as this is so real slow music with a sound drier than the Desert they sound like they come from. The band already has a good live reputation and have gained a lot of positive reviews and this CD captures the live feeling for the most part. "Mount Rushmore's Mushroom" is basically one long acid trip in a musical form, the Psychedelic Doom/Drone sounds they conjure up sound somehow fresh even though the style has been done to death. The instrumental nature of the band seems to work, no real need for a singer here at all. For the first release, this is a damn fine 40 minutes of Stoner Doom with all the elements needed to make the music work, it just a pity the production is quite there on this. I believe their next release will be a split 7" EP with mountainous Stoner freaks Dispenser the Dispenser. That will be something to look for but what this band really needs is a full length album with balls and all production, if they manage to get it, then the future for this band will be a positive one. While there is nothing original about the material, they seem to be naturals at playing the style and who can say no to another band that sounds like Sleep or Kyuss ? 8/10

Eggnogg - S/T

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First up I must say when this CD got sent my way, I really didn't know what to expect from a band called "Eggnogg" but I was blown away when I heard this self-released CD. The other problem I have is the CD arrived with no artwork or any information of any kind and to make matters worse, the only info I can find is on the Myspace page which appears to be a fan-run site. Anyway despite all that, this is one killer album that is pretty much a Doom album but with enough tempo changes and interesting guitar solos to make this very original sounding. You can hear a lot of different influences but at the same time, but they don't ripped off any of them. They have a Cathedral meets The Hidden Hand kind of Stoner Doom groove most of the time but what really stands out is the great solo work. This dude can really play with feeling, they are unique in as much they are melodic, jammy but also blend well with the rhythm section which is real tight. I will keep this review short for now till I can get more information but if you like classic Stoner/Doom sounds especially like the ones from Maryland that came out in the 90's you will want to hear this band. 8.5/10

UPDATE: The album in now available from here - Eggnogg - The Three

Jacknife Holiday - Demo / Promo 2009

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Jacknife Holiday from the UK really do pack a punch judging by the tracks they sent to me, musically they walk the fine line between Sludge Metal and 90's Metal bands like Superjoint Ritual, Black Label Society and Pantera. Their guitar sound is full of thick fuzz and the screaming/yelling vocals make for a aggressive wall of sound. "Grieve Black" is a track you will find on their Myspace profile and it sums up the band's sound all in the 5 minutes. Thick riffs grind along at a mid-tempo pace and the tortured vocal style can slam you against the wall if you crank it loud enough. One of their best tracks is "Screamin Meat Pod", it kicks off with some serious groove before the tempo is pushed up a notch moving back and forth between a Sludge/Stoner groove and "Eyehategod" styled noise rock. "Short Term Memory Fuck Off" has enough bottom-end to shatter the floor boards and once again the vocal attack is right there. Special mention must go the drumming which is real solid and loud, some bands like this the drums tend to be a bit buried in the mix but here they right up front, pummeling their way through every track. This is a band that you should take note off but the hardest thing is where they fit within the Metal scene. The guitar sound is heavy enough to be given the Sludge/Doom tag but the actual riffing crosses over into different styles. Of course they are closer to Sludge Metal than anything else but the obvious influences are wide - ranging. This band will make waves once they get a full length album out, especially if they get the production they deserve. Fans of Eyehategod, Weedeater and Sourvein will find something to dig with Jacknife Holiday and some more Traditional Metal heads might like their Black Sabbath riffing tendencies but the vocal style might prove to be too over the top for some of those people. Personally I found these songs to be growers and certainly get better with every spin. Another great band from the UK which seems to be one of the hot-spots at the moment. Check them out. 8/10

Nov 20, 2009

Fferyllt - Dance Of The Druids

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Fferyllt are another band from Russia that plays Folk meets Viking meets Doom Metal, I have heard so many of these bands this year and to be honest I really don't want to hear anymore. The problem with this genre is the bands most of time all copy the same formula, same lyrical approach and most of the time the singers are inter-changeable. Fferyllt are no different, not that they are bad because most of it is actually pretty good but it is predictable to the extreme. Take the semi-opera-like female vocals in a track like "Night Of The Wood-God" for a good example. She can sing but the delivery is so over the top you don't if you should laugh or take it seriously, for me it really doesn't belong in a Metal band. Musically its very melodic Metal, jam packed with Folk based touches and cliches. Its heavy for this style of music but the production doesn't help matters because for the most part it sounds dull and lifeless. The band can be described like this, take Folkearth and Irminsul, add the folk aspect of Yggdrasil and heavy metal-flirtations of Korpiklaani and you have Fferyllt. That has properly turn you off already but its really not all that bad, it just is a band with a average sound and life-less arrangements. For its style its catchy and they try real hard to be energetic but the use of such instruments like bagpipes, mouth harps, whistles and various other folk music instruments is too overdone and I found it more annoying than anything else. "Jule", "Gjallarhorn" and "Warriors of Ireland" are the best tracks on here because they do leave a lasting memory but the rest I found instantly forgettable. On these tracks the melodic folk metal gets a make-over when the harshness of the vocals brings it up a notch. But overall there is not enough of these vocals, and mixing the clean female vocals with the harsh male screams would benefit this band and its songs a lot.The Metal side of the band is just there without doing anything to get excited about, the playing is pretty generic.Lyrically they deal with some Norse mythology, some Scandinavian history as well as some fantasy stuff and it fits in well with the overall concept of the music. There is not much more to say about this album, one look at the artwork which is stunning I must admit will tell you what to expect. 6/10

Nov 19, 2009

Baroness - Blue Record

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There was a fair share of hype from the Metal community concerning the release of this the new Baroness album called "Blue Record". After all the last album "Red Album" saw a shift in direction and now with new guitarist Valkyrie's Peter Adams, did that mean another change in sound for the band? The answer is they have indeed changed again, this time in a more Progressive Metal direction unlike the more Sludge Metal style they had before. Baroness continue to make Metal epics surrounded by atmospheric interludes, but this time around they do it with a bit more of a Progressive Rock edge. They do this by bringing in a lot more influence from early progressive bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Yes. While this might upset some old fans, Baroness actually do make it work quite well. The album kicks off with "Bullhead's Psalm" which is dark and ambient before moving into "The Sweetest Curse" which is really the only track on the album that sounds like the older material from the band but this album contains a lot more experimental passages than previous efforts. This point really stands out in tracks like "Steel That Sleeps the Eye" and "Blackpowder Orchard" that features everything from Folksy sounds to dueling guitar melodies. The interludes play a important role on the album as they act like the glue that holds the other tunes together. "Steel That Sleeps the Eye" acts as a prelude to "Swollen and Halo" and it almost sounds like an acoustic ballad directly evolving into a progressive metal track with the way the two songs are structured. The feedback in "Ogeechee Hymnal" blends right into "A Horse Called Golgotha". "War, Wisdom and Rhyme" is arguably the heaviest song on the album and is my pick for the best track but its a album that you get a different vibe from every time you give it a listen. One thing that sets this apart from the "Red Album" is the drumming which at times almost has a disco rock feel about it but don't be put off, this is still a heavy record but this no Sludge Rock album. This is a mature, complex, rewarding album that could over time fit comfortably alongside the arena rock of the 70s and 80s and while some of they have lost some of their heaviness, they have made up for it by making something is denser in sound but also more artsy. Nothing is stays the same here, there is a many changes in atmospheres, and even John Baizley’s vocals are not a constant, but are used as one more instrument in the band that actually chooses to lead the band in one direction, only to be pulled into another direction by the sometimes haunting guitar work. Baizley is a good singer, but it might take a little getting used to, but personally, I really enjoy his voice.He isn't really a screamer, but there’s nothing soothing about his singing either and the lyrics are something else again. I haven't got a clue what "Jake Leg" is about, you can try and figure that one out for yourself. What makes Baroness's music so compelling and satisfying is the sheer eclecticism and focus on musicianship that makes the album work. It is still very melodic in parts but it also contains some ominous, sustained guitar tones which is very suspenseful in parts. Of course, there are machine gun drums, technical guitar play, but there is also a lot of mind-blowing psychedelic jamming. Baroness is truly one of the most unique bands in the business, defying simplistic labels and expectations and "Blue Record" is a must-have for any fan of the band and for anyone that digs heavy and well-crafted music. I still rate the "Red Record" a little higher than this one but this is damn close. 9/10

Domes Of Silence - The Temple Of The Wasp ( single )

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Its been a long time since their acclaimed first album "Mescaline" was released but considering the serious health issues vocalist Sean Parkin has been battling with, its more than understandable. I hope he pulls through real soon and get back to doing full time what he has a natural talent for which is making head-stomping Stoner Hard Rock music. In the years the band has been together they have been through more than the average band, personal conflicts, serious health problems, addiction and multiple line-up changes but they are back with a new single "Temple Of The Wasp" and they are sounding better than ever. The song is a real groove based stomper which is part Fu Manchu, Kyuss, Atomic Bitchwax and Clutch all given the Domes Of Silence very tight, polished treatment and this band is real tight indeed. The track is catchy, infectious with more groove than just about any band in the genre can muster. The laid back vocal approach adds balance to the fuzzy guitar riffing and dynamic but subtle solo work. The drumming is steady, solid and even has a little cow-bell. The lyrics are excellent as is to be expected from this band, well-thought out and entertaining. The band has a delivery that is hard to ignore, you don't hear to many bands that have this much finesse. The track is in and out in little over three minutes and instantly has you hitting repeat, a great tune. The other track is a the live favorite "Bad Wisdom" and it kicks ass but has a different groove than the first track. It has a more of a 70's "Iggy And The Stooges Raw Power" groove going on with a energetic, more eclectic sound. Once again, the delivery of vocals and shredding pure rock riffing is so in tune with each other, it is a instant keeper even though it has such a Classic Rock you may think you have heard it before somewhere. The production sheen is outstanding and has a slightly more heavier sound than the debut album did. You can call it Stoner, Sludge, Punk Rock, Psyche or give it any tag you want but this is just Rock Music the way it was meant to be played, with groove, passion, feeling and energy. Check it out. 10/10

Nov 18, 2009

Evoke Thy Lords - Escape to the Dreamland

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Evoke Thy Lords are a band I knew absolutely nothing about so turning this one up for the first time made me squirm because I did already know this is a Stygian Crypt Productions release and they have some female vocals so I thought here we go, another Goth-Doom band! Luckily they are less Gothic Doom and more of a Epic Doom band with folksy overtones. A gloomy atmosphere hangs over their songs and the melancholic atmosphere is quite superb. Musically their style is very straight forward of a classic mold of Doom Metal but you can hear bands that have influenced their sound which is everything from Katatonia, Type O Negative to My Dying Bride. "Longing From Beyond", "Daemonolatry" and "The Dreamlands" stand out as being the strongest cuts on the album but the rest seem a little under-done and un-original. They stick a little too close to their influences at times and the omnipresent flute parts and the frequent acoustic guitar passages disturb the flow of some tracks. The female voice is operatic and angelic, while the other voice of Alexey's is much deeper and of a growling style. Lyrically the band is inspired completely by H.P. Lovecraft and the lyrics are well written and performed, musically its laced with some folk music elements and the flute adds tons of melody. While a keyboard work enhances the melancholy, it is mostly kept in the background of the songs keeping everything just that little bit heavier. This can be best described as subtle Epic Doom, even though they change tempos fairly often and sometimes they overstep the boundaries of what would normally be considered doom metal,the atmosphere stays dark and eerie. The band has been around since 2002 so this debut took its time coming out so I am hoping these are old songs that they just wanted to get out their system and there is better stuff around the corner. This band has the potential to be a force within the scene, I just hope they drop the obvious Goth cliches and move towards a more original style. 7/10

Band Website

Folkearth - Fatherland

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Folkearth are a truly international band with members from all over Europe and even more amazing the amount of additional musicians they have used on their records, I think I counted some 70 + plus musicians who have worked with them on their albums. Also staggering is that "Fatherland" is their sixth album since they formed in 2004 and their forth album since 2006. I was interested in hearing this album because I heard their last album "Father Of Victory" and found it to be a really weak version of Folk/Viking Metal so I was hoping for big things from this album. I think the amount of recording they have done may be part of the problem for Folkearth, the term "quality control" is something they may not be aware of. This album starts out very promising with "Hymn to Zeus" that is hypnotic and somewhat mesmerizing and the following "Braver Than Heroes" is a good piece of Folk Metal but from then on the old problems that existed on previous albums re-emerge. The vocals are too weak, and he doesn’t seem to hit the right notes which for this style seems to be a issue. "Guardian of the bridge" kicks off in a faster, more aggressive style but once again the music is hurt by the weak vocals. The rest of the album follows the same path, some of the actual songs are pretty good musically but the vocals and the production mangles everything. Take the title track for a example, its a beautiful acoustic tune with good keyboard use, an accordion and a whistle. But the weak clean male vocals sound like he’s trying to sing with marbles in his mouth. The use of various whistles, flutes, violins, keys and such is done well enough, and the folk aspect of the music is done in a original manner. Metal-wise it’s also quite listenable. There aren’t any specific riffs that I will remember, but I like what they are trying to do. I went back after hearing this and re-listened to some of their other songs from previous albums and here is something that become very obvious. Production was never the strong point of the multinational outfit’s albums, but it has nose-dived from raw to just plain poor, with the whole thing sounds compressed and lifeless. The vocals on the CD also suffered a big drop in quality, they were never great to begin with but the good singers from past efforts have gone to be replaced with some near-tuneless female wailing and completely ridiculous epic male vocals. Overall this sounds like a slapdash collection of throw-away instrumental passages thrown into fairly pedestrian metal compositions. The songs that work best tend to be those that features the acoustic guitars to take the lead, as the distorted sections are subdued by the weak production and the terrible double-bass sound made from programmed drums. Even the weak vocals manage to struggle through the muddy sound a little better in these songs.I’m sure fans of the band would be happier waiting a year or 2 for a really good bunch of songs rather than an endless, poorly recorded supply of hit and miss material. If they continue churning out albums at their current rate, with the amount of Folk/Viking Metal out there these days, the band runs the risk of becoming little more than a sad self-parody. 4/10

Nov 17, 2009

Diathra - My Endless Sorrow

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Diathra has changed quite a bit since their first album which came out some six years ago, three members have left the band, leaving room for their new vocalist Marina Volovik and second guitar player Michael Sobol. They also got help from two session musicians to fill the bass and drum duties. If you have never heard of them, they are yet another female fronted Gothic Doom band and the question has to be asked why is this style of Doom Metal so popular especially in countries like Russia where this band resides. Don't get me wrong here, I like some Gothic Doom stuff but there seems to be a real in-balance with the amount of these releases coming out. The problem is so many of them are so generic and so predictable from the musical pattens they follow right down to the image. Diathra are a classic example of this, the band follows the same path as 100's of other bands in the genre without attempting to put their own sound to anything. The opening track "Autumn" is a good representation of what this album is about and sounds like. The band concentrates on delivering some good melodies and tries to add some catchy-ness to the sadness and emotional tones of their songs. The guitar work is kept pretty clean and the crunchiness is kept to a minimum while still sounding very much like a Metal band. "Autumn", "My Autumnal Images" and "I Feel" sound like the strongest tracks on the album because they at least offer up some strong arrangement and vocal melodies, its on the rest of the album where the problems emerge. One big problem as I hear it is while the lead vocals of Volovik are very good, they for some reason put in keyboard player Dmitri Laptenok doing some growls in places that just don't fit the melody or the song. His vocal work is very average at best but at least his vocals are not represented a lot on this album. The keyboard work of his is orchestral, and involves some melancholic piano but thankfully it works well within the context of these songs. The strongest part of the band seems to be guitar leads which are inspired by 70’s and 80’s hard rock sounds. This at least gives the band something different to offer you Goth-Doom heads out there.Another problem with many of the songs is that they are too long and the simple songs structures are pressed so hard that there is simply not enough stuff in the songs to keep the 6 minute plus songs interesting. The band seems to be trying to get a sound happening that will land them on MTV or something much like "Nightwish" but unfortunately, the songwriting is not there as yet. Fans of the band had to wait 6 years for this so you would have expected something special to be produced but instead they have released a stock-standard Goth-Doom release which is too heavy on melody and too short on musical ideas. I am sure that some people will like this for the vocals of Marina Volovik and some of the guitar work which features some very highly skilled tricks including arpeggios and other Ritchie Blackmore type mastery. This is a album that I listened to 5 times before commencing this review and to be honest I don't think I will ever listen to it again for the reasons I already stated. 5/10

Shroud Eater - Demo 2009

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The Floridian trio Shroud Eater demo with great cover artwork by guitarist/vocalist Jeannie Saiz that reminded me of the artwork of The Accused is short and sweet but full of some cool punk rock meets sludge grooves. This would have to be one of the most refreshing demo's sent my way this year, while some demo's show a band that is already at full potential, this band that not only has real potential but they have room to move within a style that is usually somewhat limited. The 3 tracks here "We are Beasts","Vesuvius" and "Cyclone" are all good but also different from each other showing the band has more than one trick up their sleeves. "We Are Beasts" attacks in pure Punk Rock meets Stoner Rock fashion with a confusing riff and a very un-predictable song structure. This un-conventional way of playing gives the band their edge however and they should work on this further because it really is a unique gift they have. "Vesuvius" kicks off with a drum solo of sorts from Felipe Torres before a good dose of feedback moves the tune in a "Neurosis" direction. The song is also helped along by the solid, active bass work of Janette Valentine that pushes the songs along. Jeannie Saiz's vocals have a shouting Punk Rock quality which suits them fine but maybe some fine-tuning might be in order, at times its a little distracting. "Vesuvius" features a cool instrumental section with a effective solo from Saiz before the song builds up in tension to the ending of what is a great track. The final track "Cyclone" is a instrumental and is the most Doom/Sludge sounding tune on the demo. There is the Doom plod, the tempo changes and some nice guitar touches that cut through the noise. The production on here is pure demo so its not great, at times the drums sound too high in the mix and the guitar sounds a little thin. What is great about it though is the songwriting and a fresh approach to a style that is becoming stagnant, they take Punk, Stoner, Doom, 90's Alternative Rock and put their own sound over the top of it. I think they have huge potential and I am looking forward to see where they go from here. Its only 15 minutes long so its not much to fully judge a band on but if these 3 songs are anything to go by, they will be a band to watch for in the next year. 6/10

The 11th Hour - Burden Of Grief

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The 11th Hour is a side project from Ed Warby (drummer for Death Metal bands such as Gorefest, Hail Of Bullets and Demiurg) and Rogga Johansson (singer/guitarist for more old school Swedish death bands like Paganizer, Ribspreader, Revolting and Bone Gnawer so it is quite a shock to hear them doing Doom Metal especially something this true to the Traditional Doom Metal formula. On this Ed Warby plays everything and sings some parts with Rogga Johansson handling the rest of the vocals. The first thing I must do is give you a heads up over the packaging, I have read there is two versions of it. One you get the basic product and the other is you get a booklet complete with lyrics which is worth having because there is a deep concept to the songs and its worth reading.The lyrics are displayed like the journal of the dying character. The artwork on the front cover is breath-taking and is almost worth the price alone but the music within is pretty much a case of heard it all before a million times. Lets start with the concept, its a story about a dude a guy dying of lung cancer, and going to each step from the announcement that it is terminal to his actual death. If that is not a good idea for a Doom Metal album, then I don't what is. Its a harrowing tale that is well executed, well written and thought provoking. There is two main sides to the music, one with the clear voice that reminds you of classic Traditional Doom Metal in the style of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus and then there is the more Death Metal style vocals of Rogga Johansson that gives the band a more of a Death/Doom sound. For the most part the band are playing by the rulebook without offering anything new, just a generic interpretation of Classic Doom Metal. There is some orchestrations, with violins carefully inserted to add emotion to the sad tale. Its these passages where the band sounds the most original, the rest of it is pretty standard Traditional meets Epic Death Doom. The best tracks are at the start and the end of the album, the opener "One Last Smoke" is so much like Candlemass it would fit right in on their "Death Magic Doom" album. The final track is "Longing For Oblivion" a intelligently inter-woven theme of a dying man's last moments, concluded by the cold beeping of a life-support machine that comes to a end. In between those two track however you get tracks like "Origins of Mourning" and "Weep for Me" that while they have all the trademarks of what could be considered Classic Doom Metal, for me they sound lifeless and devoid of any real emotional content that the lyrics deserved. Having said all that I don't want to put this down too much as it is still better than a lot of other Doom albums that are out there and it serves as a good meeting point for Traditional Doom fans and lovers of Extreme Doom. Mainly for fans of Candlemass, Isole, Doomsword and Solitude Aeturnus but some Death Metal fans might like it also, even just for the novelty value. I know this review may upset some people as this album has already got some amazing reviews, for me it seems a little incomplete. Give it a listen and make up your own mind on this one. 7/10

Earthen Grave - Dismal Times

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When Ron Holzner left Trouble, his future you could say looked a little shaky but he now has found a new home in "Earthen Grave" which may prove to have been a wise move for him. The thing that makes Earthen Grave such a interesting proposition is the way they have blended the old Doom sound of Trouble, the Stoner Rock sound of The Obsessed and Pentagram and even added some Thrash elements into the mix. There is huge doses of straight up Metal and even violin played by Rachel Barton Pine,a respected classical violinist. What you are left with is 5 tracks ( 3 originals and 2 covers ) and 30 minutes of some fresh sounding Metal that crosses over many styles while retaining a sense of originality. The opening cut "Dismal Times" starts off moody and full of darkness with guitars and violin combining to make a ominous sound before launching into a colossal lumbering riff based Metal. Vocals go from yelling to the spoken word before the tempo pushes the band into top gear verging on Thrash Metal. While the music is similar to other bands, the way its arranged gives it a identity of its own and the 6 minutes passes very quickly indeed. Next up is "Life Carries On" that has a more original flavor to it, guitarist’s Tony Spillman and Jason Muxlow’s trade solo's back and forth with ease and once again Rachel Barton Pine musicianship shines throughout. The final section of the song is amazing with Scott Davidson’s drum work coming to the front of the mix backed up with some monstrous bass playing from Holzner. The next tune is a cover of Witchfinder General's "Burning A Sinner" and this smokes. They bring some much needed energy to the track and while the original is great, this version is given a new lease of life with the violin and Mark Weiner vocals giving it a new twist. "Death on the High Seas" is the EP's epic at over 10 minutes, another violin featured intro complete with some nautical sounds in the background set the mood and then we are taken on a journey. The twin guitar sound is thick and the stomping riff is real powerful, the song once again is a mix of Doom and Thrash. Mark Weiner's vocals really drive the song to its logical conclusion which is one of a headbanging anthem, I can picture the hair flying listening to this killer track. I don't think I have ever heard a track quite like this one, the mixture of screeching violin and chugging guitars is very unique and it works. The final track is the other cover and its a fine version of Pentagram's "Relentless". Like the other cover its done with passion and a sense of freshness, they don't just run through the song for the hell of it. Its always been a great tune but here it seems re-born and given some new-ness which a lot of other bands who have done this track never seem to get. Its a bit unusual to have 2 covers on a debut EP but the quality of the performances is so high that it doesn't harm the listening pleasure found on this great release. Can't wait till the band gives us a full length with all originals however, they have all the songwriting capabilities to make one of the best albums ever. 9/10

Nov 16, 2009

Green & Wood - S/T

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Green And Wood, a band that came out of nowhere for me but are actually from LA have their self titled album out on Cyclopean Records. The The gate-fold LP comes with a full color poster of the cover art as well as a drop-card for a free download. It also comes in beautiful translucent orange vinyl. This power trio plays a heavy blend of Sabbath, Sleep, Blue Cheer and Pentagram influenced Stoner Doom Metal but are not just following the over-played blueprint created by those bands. They have carved out a sound that is rich, organic with enough of their own sound to make them a worthwhile investment for Doomsters and Stoner Rockers alike. What sets the band apart is the vocals lines which are catchy and melodic while they make full use of hook-laden riffs that contain more than enough groove for any band of this genre. "War In The Sky" is a great track which sounds like a focused jam, much like early "Atomic Bitchwax". The walking bass-lines and creative guitar work is exciting to hear and the band really likes to stretch out even though most of the songs are fairly short, they really pack in a lot of movement into the arrangements. Its this sort of playing that makes this band at times seem like a homage to albums like Randy Holden's Population II, and Jerusalem's eponymous heavy rock masterpiece. There is also plenty of Sabbath worshiping going on but they at least put their own spin on it rather than just recycling the riffs made famous by Tony Iommi. There is many highlights on the album but some are "Construct of Fear" with its harmonic passages at the start and the down-tempo layered riffing at the end. "Banquet of Jupiter" is one of those hook-laden numbers I mentioned earlier and is a real solid tune, "Castle Kerak" is also another monster with the drummer sounding like Bill Ward circa 1970 all over again. If there is a downside to this album, its the fact it is all so very predictable. You can almost hear the first 10 seconds from each track and then predict in your mind the rest and you would be right. The plus side though is they are so good at doing it that its also a very enjoyable romp through everything from early 70's Heavy Prog, Blues Rock to modern day Stoner doom. The band is capable of writing great songs with cool arrangements and if they continue to find their own niche in songwriting, the next album could be a masterpiece up there with the 70's classics they so obviously worship. If you love Stoner Doom with a 70's edge and you are a fan of Witchcraft and Graveyard you will eat this one up. This album is a grower and I expect to see this high up on the top 10 lists for 2009, I know some people will be freaking out grooving to this album. For me, the jury is still out to see if it will stand the test of time but right now its one of the more listenable Retro-Doom Rock releases to hit my doorstep this year. 7.5/10

Hguols - Epitome

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The debut album by one man project called Hguols is the work of one Thomas Eversole and this is some real visionary music. I first must point out before going any further that this is for the most part Black Metal which is not normally reviewed on this blog. The reason behind me reviewing this is while this raw Black Metal, it is also instrumental and extremely Ambient. It is also unique in the way its recorded being it is a 100% MIDI recorded. I know this would scare most people off including myself but after checking some of this out, it actually surprised me to hear how good it sounds plus the amount of cold ambiance that is injected into the tracks. If there is a weakness in the using the MIDI technique, its in the drum-sounds which come off sounding a little cheap and thin but everything else is raw, viscous, dark and cold. All of the songs blend or should I say bleed together very well and the whole album comes off as sounding like a soundtrack to the apocalypse but once again we get back to the MIDI argument. This will divide opinions on the project, while I can already hear people complaining about making music this way, its also kind of a weak argument. I have heard bands using real instruments that still don't sound as good as this. On to the tracks themselves, all the songs blend together so not much point in me picking out individual tracks but there is a couple that drag and sound a bit sterile but that might the recording technique used. Most of the songs on here were written on guitar which is maybe why most of it works the way it does and the way the songs are constructed to make it sound solid musically. The weakness lies in the MIDI recording process and he might want to consider using live instrumentation in the future. These songs would kill with real guitars and drums but you have to judge music on what it is and for Hguols, it works fine as a project band and nothing more. I like the cold ambiance and the rawness but I have a major problem with how it was all made. Maybe I am too old-school to accept this as a acceptable way of producing music but I think you are only going to hear a lot more music made this way. Some genres of music should never be made like this but for Raw, Ambient Black Metal it can be very effective and Hguols has just proved it. 6/10


Mournful Congregation Interview From 2008

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This interview with Mournful Congregation's Adrian was originally conducted by the DMA's founder Derek Edward Kellington in 2008 and I thought it was worth a re-post. Check it out.

1. Thanks for taking time to answer my questions Adrian. The band has been going for 15 years now and I would like to start off by asking how Mournful Congregation came to be? By that i mean what were the influences behind your dark sound and how it all came together in general.

"Mournful Congregation originated in the South Australian Riverland town of Loxton around 1993. I joined several years later in 1997 after Damon relocated to Adelaide and we've been based here ever since. To the best of my knowledge the three original members were quite inspired by the works of bands such as Thergothon and Candlemass and simply sought to create their own form of extreme darkness with the band name being a reflection of this intent. As far as I know the formation of the band was like that of many other young bands - in a shed or bedroom, something like that."

2. How was it that you came about being in the group, and what are your personal influences to play so extremely slow?

"I was approached about joining the band around the summer of 1997. I was familiar with the doom genre in general but MC was definitely on the extreme edge of it all and the emotional and musical extremity appealed to me greatly. I'd never played that slowly but my approach was to basically take all that I knew and apply it to the style and in the process try and give the band a certain signature feel. Hopefully over the years we have succeeded in this."

3. What were you doing musically before joining MC?

"I joined MC at the start of 1997 and prior to that hadn’t really done anything of note. I’d spent the years before that as a typical enthusiastic high school drummer, practicing as much as I could and taking lessons. At the time it was a real thrill to join a band that had demos circulating through the underground worldwide and a developing reputation."

4. I will ask the ultimate cliche question, but put it into terms ive never seen anyone do. You mentioned the emotional extremity of the groups sound. How is it that you get this sound down? Does the band get into this mindset, or does it just come natural when you begin to play? Cuz i know you guys dont just walk around with tears in your eyes all day.

"The band's signature sound begins with Damon as he is the principal composer and I honestly don't know what mindset he is in when he comes up with the riffs and the song structures. The three of us are very aware of the overall sound we want to generate as a band and work towards this both in the arrangements and the actual sounds we seek to pull. The whole mindset thing is a difficult one to answer - I think after this much time we all know what is required and perhaps place ourselves in the appropriate frame of mind, even on a subconscious level. So when we jam it's not like we have to consciously shift into "Mournful mode" or anything like that. Having said that, for the forthcoming album I spent weeks before recording my parts deliberately reading nothing but suicide literature, the darkest material I could find. The subject matter and the feel of much of the music is so bleak that I felt it necessary for my performance and state of mind to be a reflection of this."

5. Suicide literature for two weeks? wow dude. you hear how actors will get lost in their role. How did this effect you during and after-wards?

"Yeah, I basically immersed myself in the writings of a Romanian philosopher named Emil Cioran who seems to be largely unknown in the west. The feeling of hopelessness and pessimism that flows through his work is like nothing I've ever encountered before. I did feel as though I was creating a particular psychological state, like it would have been completely wrong to walk into the studio upbeat and happy. I believe that certain energies resonate and translate through the medium of music and this was somehow my way of honoring both the themes we are exploring and those who believe in what we do. It did mess with me a bit, like I wasn't sleeping properly and became pretty moody and so on - but it felt right... to become one with the music."

6. Has mournful congregation seen the light of day outside of Australia?

No, not as yet. If fact we've never once performed live with this band. Having said that, plans are underway for both an Australian and European tour early next year and we are very much looking forward to this.

7. Plans of a European tour. Any plans of playing with other bands yet? If so who?

"This situation and the bands with which we may play rests in the hands of the tour manager and we’re quite unsure ourselves who we’ll be sharing stages with. There are certain bands (Worship, Esoteric, Funeral, Ahab, Ataraxie etc) that we would very much like to perform with but only time will tell on this."

8. Ive heard alot of groups out of Australia, but not much in the way of funeral doom or the likes. Are there other groups with your style there?

"There are various doom bands here but not other funeral doom bands of note, as least as far as I'm aware. There are death/doom bands such as Stone Wings, and most doom fans have heard of Disembowelment but we are the only ones I know of carrying the flag of extreme funeral doom, or however people wish to categorize our style."

9. Would you catagorize you sound as funeral doom, or do you care to catagorize your music?

"I’ve always considered us to be an extreme doom metal band and I’m not really into classifications. We tend to be most often labelled funeral doom which is fine but at the same time I’d like to think we don’t fit into any particular niche and have our own distinct sound."

10. Doom metal is a rather large scene comparatively speaking looking back to its beginnings, with festivals popping up all over the world. Are there any in Australia, and if so has the band been able to be involved?

"It's great that these festivals continue to evolve around the world and we hope to be a part of some in the near future. As far as Australia goes though, I've never heard of any doom festival taking place. There have been doom oriented gigs but I believe that's as far as it has gone."

11. Are there any side projects among the band mates that the public should know of?

"Damon is also involved with two established bands, Stargazer and Cauldron Black Ram and has a project entitled The Esoteric Connexion which can be located on our MySpace page. Justin is a member of Black Orchid in addition to MC and all of us have and continue to do session work outside of the band."

12. Anything you would like to add that we haven't covered?

"Many thanks for the interview and support! The new album shall be out in the very near future and hopefully we get to tour in your part of the world before long. All the best!"

Dark Covenant tries to keep it "old school"

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Dark Covenant are a Doom band from Canada that play in the Classic Traditional style of Doom but with a lot of twists and turns. I would put them in the same league as Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass and I am sure its only a matter of time before they reach the Doom-Gods status. Their playing is of a exceptionally high standard combining Classical style riffs that are full and heavy but with a finesse of a highly polished experienced band even though they are yet to record their first full length album. I conducted this interview with Vjohrrnt Wodansson (vocals) and we got to discuss such matters as well as the musical history of the band. Hope you like the interview, check out the band because you will be hearing a lot more from them within the next year.

1. Greetings and thanks for the interview. I read the band started out as "Dawn Of Sorrow" back in 93, that is a long time ago. How did everything eventually come together all these years later?

First of all we want to thank you for this opportunity to introduce ourselves in our first interview, we appreciate your support. Our history is indeed contradictory and singular as it is both very recent and very old at the same time. Evil Lair and I used to play together back in the early 90s. We tried to create some form of Doom Metal mixed with classical influences, taking inspiration from Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, King Diamond and other great bands and we did record a few very rough sketches of songs on some cheap 4 tracker tape. No vocals, just music. That was named Dawn of Sorrow then. Then, some events in our lives caused us to go our separate ways for a while. We each moved to different parts of town and kind of lost track of each other.
During that long period, Evil Lair recorded a few albums on his own through his musical projects. On my side I also played in a few black metal bands and recorded 3 albums and a MCD. My actual Pagan folk metal band still active to this date is Fjörd.

About a year ago, we again found each other on Myspace (isn't that a surprise) and we just got in touch again. Then it was silence again for a few months until we talked on the phone and we talked about remaking some doom metal again like in the old days. The idea was appealing of course but it kind of stayed there, then some months ago he sent me an mp3 of a song he composed. I was blown away. I immediately wrote lyrics for it and recorded the vocals a few days after. That became Forever amongst the ruins. Right after that he composed a bunch of other songs and there it was; an album written within a few weeks. I wish this would have been 16 years ago, but fate decided otherwise. We each had things to do and experiences to live until the proper forces reunited us again.

As for JS and Somatophylax, well it's pretty much the same. Back in 89 we used to play together in our first metal band doing cover songs of Kreator, Destruction, Sacrifice and Candlemass. Then, I moved away (with Evil Lair) and the rest I explained above. Now that we needed musicians, I thought; what the heck! And so it is that we are playing together again after 16 and 20 years apart. So that makes us the "oldest-newly-re-formed" doom band around.

2. The band members sound like experienced musicians, can you give a brief history lesson on previous bands and musical experiences?

I have played in a few BM bands as drummer or vocalist and recorded albums as well; I toured Europe as a drummer with another metal band in 2004 and recorded music in the heathen folk music genre (not released though). The only active band I play in besides DC is Fjörd (pagan folk metal). Evil Lair as recorded many albums with his other projects: Graven Dusk (funeral doom), Nordic Winter (black metal) and Strigoï Mort (classical black metal). JS plays also in Fjörd, and Somatoplylax aside from playing session bass for a band back in 91-92 I think, never played in any bands until now. But although some of our musicians have not been playing in other bands for the past 20 years does not take away their talents. They are more than capable to play our music and participate in the composition of the future songs. I couldn't ask for a better line up for DC and to play trad. Doom metal.

3. The band plays Classic Doom or Traditional Doom depending on what you like to call it. Is that the style you always wanted to play?

I personally loved that genre ever since heard Candlemass' NIGHTFALL back in 89. But it was hard to find musicians that wanted to play that style here. When I moved away with Evil Lair, we tried but we were always alone and had poor equipment. When we split, we each joined/formed black metal bands, which was also a music very close to my heart (and still is), and we advanced faster on this path. But through the years, I often thought about trying to form a doom metal band, but with whom? Well, time would answer that question for me. Somatophylax (which is my brother by the way) always loved doom metal as well. As for JS, he's a huge 70s progressive rock fan (King Crimson, VDGG, etc) as well as viking-pagan metal, and of course he also likes the trad. Doom metal genre since back in the 80s.

4. Dark Covenant write songs around ancient mythologies and esoteric themes, would inspires the band to write about such subjects?

I have been interested in the occult, metaphysics and the esoteric for over 20 years. I have read from Satanism, to Crowley, Cabal, wicca, Egyptian mysteries, Sumerian magic, druidism, Slavic and Nordic heathenism and more. I read a lot of crap of course and those do not inspire my lyrics. As I was saying I am very interested in the mysteries but what attracts and motivates me more is the revelations behind the mysteries. I do not write about nonsense and pseudo-esoteric crap. On our coming album, the main concept is the traditional Evolian: revolt against the modern world concept. In poetical verses, I write about the eventual downfall of this decadent modernist civilisation to make way for a new age, and the isolating feeling that you do not belong to this superficial, materialistic world. I have other ideas for more "mystical" and mythological inspired lyrics but that will be for future songs.

5. What has the band done so far as far as recordings go? I read a full length album is in the works?

We have 7 songs thus far. 4 of them will be on our promo CD which we are actually preparing for labels, magazines etc. The album is all self-made. We do the cover layout (except the front artwork) and record and master the music ourselves. Evil Lair has his own studio and he's a very good graphic artist (it's his job too). So aside from pressing the album, which we hope to find a label to help us with that, we do the rest. The full album entitled "Eulogies for the fallen" is in preparation. Only 3 songs left to record the vocals on and then, the bass. After that it's mixing and mastering, the usual. It will be about 45min for 7 songs and intro.

6. Everybody talks about influences but what individual musicians does the band admire?

Speaking for myself as a vocalist, I would say Messiah Marcolin, Robert Lowe, King Diamond and Warrel Dane. As a musician in general, I would have to say Quorthon from Bathory. Evil Lair is more Andy La Rocque, John Perez, and Yngwie Malmsteen. As for JS, he's into Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved), Oysten G. Brun (Borknagar) and Robert Fripp (King Crimson). Somatophylax likes Steve Harris, Geddy Lee, Dirk Schlächter as bassplayers.

7. Is there a standard of song-writing the band reaches for because the songs on your Myspace page already have an element of class about them?

They have to be good by OUR standards. I mean anyone can write catchy songs that could play on the local trendy radio, but that's crap. Doom metal music must have passion and emotion. Not just cool riffs played slow. Evil Lair's been playing for a long time and he knows how to write songs. As JS once told me, there are those who are musicians and there are those who are composers. There's a difference. Putting up a song is easy, composing a song is another matter altogether. We believe our songs have meaning. Not just lyrically, but musically as well. No riffs are just there to fill up a gap, make the song longer or just for plain fun. Each melody has its purpose, its reason to be at this particular place in the song, not after or before its intended location. The same goes for bass, vocals, etc. That's how you compose a song. Sure it can end up being "catchy", but it will be for a reason other than just public ratings. I believe our songs are appreciated by those who heard them because they reach in in a different way.

8. How is life in Canada for you guys? I have heard from other Canadian bands that it is tough to break out of there!

Well it depends in what genre of music you're into. Death metal is very big since early 90s. Black Metal started small (we were what? 5 in early 90s. People I mean, not bands) now it's huge and most of them aren't even BM in "my" opinion on the matter anyway. We have our share of grind and whatever else exists now. But Doom Metal, now that never made it big. In fact I don't recall that there ever was any Doom Metal bands here in Quebec. In Canada, I don't know. Recently I got in touch with a guy from BC who plays in Patriarch. He was as surprised as me to find a doom metal in this part of Vinland (North America). But in our traditional doom genre, I believe we are the only one around throughout the whole country. It's kind of nice and sad at the same time. It's good to be unique and thus, original but the downside is; with whom the hell are we going to play with live?
If you want to break out of here, you play trendy BM or Death and you're a star. There is no trend in Doom so we're stuck man. Seriously, we will try to see if we can play the USA or even Europe eventually if a label or promoter flies us over there.

9. After the album is released, have you got any tour or promotional plans?

Aside from playing local shows, no. We have a contact who told me that he could try and help us get into the line up of a big fest in Europe, but we will see when the album is out, how it's appreciated by the people and if indeed this opportunity could become true. That would be great if it comes to pass, let's hope so. As for promo, we will press some t-shirts after the promo CD release.

10. Is the band looking for a major label for the album and is that important to you?

We are indeed looking for a label. "Major", not necessarily. Some smaller labels have real good deals and are just plain honest. There's a lot of ripping off with major labels. I could think of a few which even if they would contact us I would tell them to fuck off. The importance of a label depends on what you want for your band. If you just want to jam and play locally, and not really bothering to have a full blown pro-CD with colored lay out etc etc, there's no need for a label. You can do all that yourself; press your own CDRs and have a sticker on it, copy b/w covers and distribute them yourself. If you want more, then a label can help, unless you are a fortunate band. We have contacts with CD pressing companies, but we would prefer a good, honest label to back us up for our first album. We'll see after that.

11. What do you think about the Doom Metal scene these days? Has it got better or taken a turn for the worse since every man and his dog with a computer can make a band and sell it on the Internet.

That's a hard one. Ok, first of all I haven't been following the Doom metal scene all the way through since 89 so I am not up-to-date of all the bands out there. When I started, there was Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus that I was into a lot. These bands have made lots of album since then. Candlemass fell when Chapter 6 arrived. It wasn't all bad, but I was disappointed. Then they made some real crap for a while. Now they're back on track and have a real good album with DMD. Solitude Aeturnus, I liked the first 2, then the last one, Alone I like. There was of course tons more out there but then there was no internet so it was very hard for me to discover new bands aside than in some metal magazines which I didn't read at all. Now I discover great bands like While heaven wept, Isole, The flight of Sleipnir, Khthon, Wheel, Automnal, and Hooded priest just to name a few. So in a way the scene got bigger yes, but as far as I can tell, it didn't "sell out" like it happened in the Death or Black metal scenes. Doom metal never got trendy even if bands like Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus are big shots out there.

As for the guy and his dog, well that can happen since its easy now to get equipment and just create a fake band with no real instrument, just computerized samplers. But that shows I think, there's no soul, no true emotion in the music, it's artificial. I don't encourage that. And the internet, well, it's practical for sure to promote your band fast and far. Back then when there was no internet, we used tape trading and paper flyers. Now its e-mails, Myspace profiles and websites. I don't mind as long as one doesnt not become the slave of that technology. Technology is to be at the service of man and not the other way around. People are so dependent of technology now that if the system crash (and it will) and all electronic/electric power sources fail, they'll be in serious trouble. Dark Covenant tries to keep it "old school" in the sense that we use guitars, bass and drums, no keyboards or overused FX. We keep it simple yet effective and easily reproducible live. That's my take on it.

12. How about telling people how to get into contact with the band for recordings, shows etc.

There are a few ways. Our website at Dark Covenant

Our myspace at
And e-mail at

13. Thanks again for the interview, any last words for the readers?

Thanks again for this chance to promote Dark Covenant through the medium of your web-zine. It's greatly appreciated. Keep visiting our website and MS page for up-dates on our promo CD as well as our coming album. Mags and labels and promoters, you have our contacts to join us if need be.

Support the sound of the modern world's imminent doom

Nov 15, 2009

Into The Storm - Admidst A Sea Of Chaos

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Into The Storm have the unfortunate pleasure as being known as a Post-Metal / Mathcore band which really puts people off. Lets face it, the style has been kicking a dead horse for years but bands like this are breathing new life into that horse and while Post-Metal might be a handy tag to put on them, they are offering up more than the usual outfit in this genre and they actually sound fresh. They are from Seattle and this album is in the fine tradition of DIY but they have done a fine job of delivering a great high quality sounding CD. The main thing they have going for them is they at least inject a little intensity into the mix and avoid for the most part, the by the numbers approach that so many other bands clumsily fall into. They have a fine balanced sound that while its produced extremely well, its not overdone in any one area. Check out the drum work and sound of drummer James Reeves which threatens to fall apart at any moment but manages to hold it all together within the chaos of some unchained Hardcore sound attacks. Trying to come up with bands they may be influenced creates a interesting problem, there is many sounds that come to mind. "Fugazi", "Neurosis" and "Cursed" are the more obvious bands but they also have their own identity. "Between Disaster and Tragedy" breaks the mold with some ambient chords and subtle melody lines before launching itself into the deep-end with sheer noise, its these sort of tracks where the band shows its strength. "Tearing Apart Space and Time" features the killer drum sound I mentioned earlier and some vicious bass grooves. The hilariously titled "I’m not your Buddy Guy" is a chaotic, frenzied grinding barrage of a tune, don't go looking for big melodies on this one. My pick for best tune though would have to be "Gnaw on their Skulls" even though its one short tune, there is so much hook in the song that its works. Elsewhere there is a couple of tunes that left me cold, "Well Hung Pterodactyl" being one of them. Another great titled song but the track comes and goes with no long lasting impact. "Sleeping through Thunder" and the epic closer “Excalibur III” which somehow reminds of some kind of European Goth/Doom band,(maybe its just melodic guitar style) are another two of the album’s highlights. The latter track, with its kicking, metallic drive keeping things rolling and once again the bass grooves are on show along with the guitar melodies. To sum this one up which is limited to 250 copies (in fact each disc is hand numbered), this is a enjoyable album that is also a grower. It took me a few listens before it really grabbed my attention but once it did, I dig the hardcore sonic attacks and the melodic post/indie style that seem to be taking somewhere else. Like I said at the beginning of the review, one look at tags like Post Metal or Indie Rock can send people running for the hills these days but this band is actually different. They have a fresh approach to the songwriting which makes this warrant repeated spins as they can dish out some frantic shorter in your face numbers but can also tackle longer tunes with ease and with some variety in the playing. This band was not really my cup of tea at first but they got me sucked in after a while, I think if you gave them a listen it will happen to you. 8/10

Nov 12, 2009

Sesta Marconi - Where The Devil Dances

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Sesta Marconi's first full length album has arrived to give new hope to those that may be thinking old school Doom Rock is dead. Its alive and this is one of the best examples of how to mix Classic Rock, Doom Metal and Traditional Heavy Metal into a seamless package of pure rocking ear candy. This is one of those records that bring back memories of the early days of Doom Metal but there is so many influences on show here, its really is a smorgasbord of Heavy Rock sounds and textures. Some of the obvious influences here are Trouble, Candlemass, Saint Vitus, Black Sabbath, Count Raven, Pagan Altar, Cathedral but there is also a significant nod to bands like Black Widow, Captain Beyond and Pentagram. The band really covers all the bases on a album that is not only Heavy but also is rich in catchy, memorable songwriting. Their last release was the un-forgettable "Ritual Kamasutra Kitsch" EP but they have taken it to the next level here with a album with not only better, more re-fined playing but also better production and a great looking CD package. They describe their music as "Doom N Roll" and that sums up the Sesta Marconi sound as its on the lighter end of Doom Metal relying more on catchy songwriting, infectious riffing, strong vocal work in the timeless tradition of Sabbath and Purple. The mix works extremely well however and it is very apparent that band have spent a great deal of time perfecting a sound that will appeal to not only the Doom crowd but also Traditional Headbangers. The album begins with a chilling, errie riff that leads in "Gruesome Woe", a song that has a Candlemass type theme to it, not only musically but also lyrically. Like mentioned before, the guitar is not partially heavy but its effective in a early 80's style of Metal guitar work. A good track indeed but the album only gets better from here on in, the second cut "Skeletons Party" moves the band up a gear. A bit more of a intense feel in the riffing and also a more of a Psychedelic edge makes the song a instant keeper, this is where you begin to peel back the layers and start hear other more Progressive Rock sounds starting to shine through. By this stage the vocals of Sergio will start to sound like a old friend, he has a sound like many others to a certain degree but try to pin-point a direct comparison and it is almost impossible to name one. The vocal technique is one straight from the masters of the genre and yet he makes his own mark on a style that has been done to death but somehow he manages to sound fresh. Track 3 is "LSWD" which stands for "Life Sucks Without Drugs" and I know how they feel, as the title might suggest it has more of Hippie Rock/ Black Sabbath vibe about it. In fact it wouldn't be out of place on Vol.4 as it has a meandering style much like Wheels Of Confusion, at times it seems the track may run completely off course but it all gets pulled back together by a band that seems to have a natural ability for this type of music. At this point I must say the rhythm section of Nico( bass ) and Giuseppe ( drums ) and tight enough to keep it solid but loose enough so as to not lose that jammy 70's quality. "Rock And Roll Voodoo Style" and "At The Crack Of Dawn" are more by the numbers Hard Rock, not bad at all but with less instrumental exploration than the previous tunes. Stefano( guitar) continues to shine by mixing older Doom Metal sounds but with modern technology and technique. The real highlight of the album (for me anyway) is up next and its the almost 14 minute long "Vanitas The Leper Queen". On this track the band really pull out all the stops blending every influence together into a stop that seems a bit scattered at first but after a few listens you can see the method to their madness. Like mixing early Cathedral and classic Pentagram with some occult rock thrown in, the track is a monumental piece of work showcasing everything the band can do into one track. The final track "Blasted In summertime" is a fitting end to a album that has a bit of everything to offer the seasoned Metal/Hard Rock listener. If you are one of those that consider that doom metal is too slow to listen to the whole time, but you like a bit of variety then this a album you must check out.Sesta Marconi is the perfect example of a band that can take 55 minutes of your time without one moment of boredom and do it without resorting to just being heavy for the sake of it. I love head-crushing down-tuned metal as much as the next Doom-Head but there are times you want some high quality, well-written catchy Doom Metal just like in the old-school days. I am sure this will appeal to traditionalists mainly with the Doom Metal/ Heavy Metal audience but that is not a bad thing, there is still millions of us left. A almost flawless album. 9.5/10

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Nov 11, 2009

The Sound Of The Catacombs' Compilation

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Even though this release on Midlands based label Catacomb Records has been around a while it is still a excellent way to sample what this great label has to offer. The label has a impressive line up of bands to its name and this compilation is a great way to check out some of those bands if you haven't done so already. The label not only has some impressive bands, they also excel in delivering great packaging and have shown great dedication to the scene through promotional work. First up are Suns of Thunder with "Gimme Some More" and is a perfect way to kick off the compilation with a track that features some great riffing and a abundance of energy. Outburst from Leicester are next with "Primitive", a impressive Sludge/Stoner band with a huge fat guitar sound and this tune has the elements essential for a killer tune even though it ends a bit too early for my tastes. Obiat are next with the epic "Farewell to Mankind", this song has a Sabbath meets Psychedelic groove to it and is a one of the highlights on the disc. Grifter is next with "Slow Boy" and features strong melody, a stoner groove complete with cowbell and is one of the strongest tracks I have ever heard from the band. Dirty Red is next, the band has none other than former St Vitus drummer Armando Acosta but don't expect too much Doom here. This track is more of a blues-based number that features some soulful female vocals, don't be put off though as this is a fine track. Next you have Godsize with "Pure Agression" which is some more Sabbath worship but the vocal style may not be for everyone and I feel it does some damage to a song that musically kicks some serious ass.

Spacecharge with "In Time" is up next, this track is one of weaker tracks on the album suffering from thin production. The tune itself is strong enough but the production doesn't do the song justice. Up next is the great Abdullah with "Long Gone", a extremely well played tune with a sound that is like N.W.O.B.H.M meets late 70's Doom Rock.Brummie Psyche doomsters Alunah is up next with "Higher", another great track from them although the production lets it down. Sophie's vocals still shine on the song though and it stands out as one of the more unique songs on the album. One day soon this band will get as much attention as other female-fronted Stoner/Doom bands that are around at the moment and are over-rated by some underground media. Alunah are as good, if not better than all of them in my opinion. Next is a band I don't know much about but I do know members of Taint are involved. The band is called Black Cesar and the track is "Freerange Woman". This track never seems to grab me with its Punk meets Sludge attack but check it out for yourself. I Am Colossus are up next with "Revelations", a Doom/Death track that is heavy as hell and has the vocals to match. Even though I dig the track it kind of sounds out of place on this compilation. Sonic lord’s "Come Back Down Again" is next and this kills, this is another band that will be a name in Doom real soon. The riffing is huge and has some great dirty sounding vocals, this is a classic waiting to be discovered. Gonga with "Sentinel" is next but is a bit of a departure from the usual Gonga material, this could almost be described as Folk Doom but its still a strong tune. Just don't judge the band on this track alone as this is a bit of a different approach from what the band usually does. The Harold Wartooth is a band I know absolutely nothing about but I will looking forward to hearing a lot more after hearing this, this is some tasty Stoner Rock with great quality riffing through-out. They do sound like someone else however, cant quite figure out who at the moment. The song they give us is called "Flight of the Bitch", great title and a great tune indeed. Queen Elephantine with "Sea Goat" is next on the menu and once again there is a issue with the production. The track is pure Doom but the muddy mix lacks the crunch to make this track really effective. The random noises and effects within the track give the music a strange character but I found it a little distracting. El Topo are up next with "Let's Ride" and it follows the Stoner Rock template a little bit too closely and comes off sounding un-inspired and un-original. The guitar sound is real warm and fuzzy though. The last track on the album is Mos Generator with "On The Eve", a great building song with killer melodies, good riff ideas and has a bit of a classic rock feel to it. So that is it, a great compilation from a great label. If this isn't proof of how strong of a label Catacombs Records is, I don't know what is. I have to take a couple of points off for a couple of production flaws but most of this is nothing but killer material from bands that all deserve to be on play-lists everywhere. 8/10

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