Dec 30, 2009

Interview With Jochen From German Sludge Masters No Hope

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You may heard No Hope's track "M-Lady" on the Doom Metal Alliance Volume 9 Sampler, if you have you will know this a real sludge filled heavy band with wide ranging influences and a deep passion for the style that they deliver. They have a EP available now called "Big Block Damnation" and its worth checking it if you are into classic sludge metal. Here is a interview i did with Jochen from the band. You can expect to hear a lot from this band in the future.

1. Hello, thanks for the interview. How about giving the readers a little history of the band ?
Sure. Hi this is Jochen, guitarist of NO HOPE. We exist in the 16th year already, gone through all highs and lows, but finally have now a very strong line-up. We are all close friends what is very important for all of us, it's more than just making good music together. We all love heavy music, most when it's slow and deep. Today we present our third release "Big Block Damnation", and the song named "M-Lady" is appearing on the Doom Metal Alliance Sampler No.9.

2. The band seems to have a lot of different influences, especially in the guitar work. What bands have inspired No Hope to produce the sound that you have ?
That's right, we have lots of different influences. We all listen to a wide spectrum of music, not only Metal, also Rock, Classic and stuff. These different directions formed our complete sound. Mostly we adhere to a lot of southern rock and sludge stuff, classic metal like Maiden and even extreme styles like Grindcore, Crustcore or Death Metal.

3. Germany has always had a big Heavy Metal tradition but what is it like for Doom/Sludge Metal ?
We don't know too many doom bands especially in our country, but Germany has in fact a wide audience for doom, sludge, stoner or even drone stuff, and there were quite a lot of fine doom bands of various styles, but most of them sadly are only known in the underground.

4. Lets talk about recordings, give the readers a insight on whats available ?
Like I said before it's our third album now. The first one was released in 2001 called "Bleeding Wounds" and was nearly a full-length. After 8 years of NO HOPE it was really time for a recording, and it contains the latest songs which were written after having a few significant line-up changes. We just distributed it for some true fans and the band of course and it's no longer available. The second release "No Hope" was released 2 years later thought as a sign of life and got given away for free just for promotion.
We made it through some really hard times with the band but managed to finish our current EP called "Big Block Damnation". All songs of the three releases are still in our live-setup and still represent the musical direction of NO HOPE.

5. How has the latest album been going, have you had much reaction from it ?
It's nearly all up to one person to distribute and communicate, I did it all the years for my other bands, and it's way more easy to give this job to a single person. But everyone has to do their normal jobs, me too, and so it's hard to find time to do this seriously and professional in a minimum of time. But our die-hard fans always asked for the new record, and the amount of positive reactions is about to rise. We hadn't played live yet since the release so there is hopefully more to come.

6. You been featured on some compilations, how important are they for the band ?
We're not used at all to all that. In early times you were happy about getting a positive message from a friend or a new fan. Nowadays we know what we are and try to spread our word further and give other people around the globe the chance to listen to our music. Getting famous is still very strange to us, haha.


7. You been playing some live dates, what kind of reaction have you been getting ?
In former years the audience was very critical. There were two groups of people: one that refuses our music and one that worship us. And this group was very very small. The last gigs after this long break were awesome, there was a big crowd, even new audience gave us a very positive feedback. This reaction is new for us too. In the beginning it was said: This is so damn slow, that's nothing about music, it's just something about body control…

8. How would you describe the audience you get at shows, are they more new fans of Doom or is it more a old school crowd ?
We're lucky to see old and young people as well on our gigs. Some of them have nothing to do with doom or other kinds of this music. After the show they were very enthusiastic and come to us to buy a CD or simply thank us for the great entertainment. There are only a few but these people are or become great fans of our band.

9. What are your songs about and do you think lyrical content is important in Doom/Sludge Metal ?
It's all about personal experience, most of it sad and cruel. We write lyrics on the point, not metaphorical or like poetry. Some songs and lyrics are very personal and quite difficult to understand for outside people, but mostly you get words everybody can identify with.

10. What have you got planned for 2010 ?
Playing live whenever we get the chance. Our CD has just been released, not many doomfans know about it. We will enter stage over entire Germany or further. If it's got a plug, we will play. We don't play for money or fame, just for the fun of it, to spread the word. We're not too much interested in a label, because we all got jobs. And we all know that you don't get far with this music.

11. If you could create the ultimate Doom festival, what bands would be on the bill ?
We are all fans of bands like Crowbar, EyeHateGod, Carnivore or Neurosis. It would be very special to play with these bands. But there are also great doom bands in Germany, many of them underground but not less great. B.Son for example is a great German doom band, we are also on their sampler "Deutschland's Doomed 1". Holy Hydra should be mentioned too, our friends' doomcore band. And there are lots more, to find the right ones would be either difficult or a very huge bill!

12. How do you rate German Doom bands compared with the rest of the world ?
They are not worse than any other doom bands in the world. The biggest problem are the fans. If it's not mainstream or played everywhere, it's hard to get kids listen to your music. But if there are some, they worship you. That's the reason to go on making extreme non-popular music.

13. The guitar sound is huge, what equipment does the band use ?
Thanks for the compliment. Some years ago I made my biggest dream come true. I finally got a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Solo Head, one of the first hundreds. It just sounds awesome. The first time I heard this amp, I wished to get one of it. Fuck money, I just had to get one soonest. So we made all the guitar recordings with this amp. We've put the focus on the guitars, so we recorded 10 tracks of guitars on this record. To dirty up and boost the signal, we both also use a BOSS MT-2 pedal. We use Gibson, LTD and Ibanez Guitars, most of them with EMG 81 Pickups. And we're tuned down to B of course.

14. You obviously love what you do, can you imagine yourself playing any other kind of music ever ?
We all played and are playing in other bands. Our bass player is also sampling and programming for the mighty B.ABUSE, our guitarist plays in a Maiden and Metallica tribute band. Not too long ago, I played in two more bands, one of it highspeed Death Metal (BLOODCRAVING) and the other one some modern Thrashcore (ALL FALL DOWN). In former times I even played in a coverband, we all like to play good old coversongs. In my eyes it doesn't make sense to play the same music in different projects. We all got a big musical background, so why just playing only one kind of music?

15. Thanks again for the interview, any last words for the readers ?
Thanks for the nice questions, thanks for reading these crappy answers, come and listen to the sexiest band alive. Tune low, play slow and enjoy slow motion noise on heavy rotation!

www.myspace.com/nohopedoomcore

Dec 29, 2009

Nightstalker - Superfreak

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At this point in time i am traveling around California in a rental car with the family and it is times like this you need some good driving music, Nightstalker are a band that seems to fit that need for the most part even though this seems more spacy and psychedelic than previous efforts. One thing that is amazing about Nightstalker is the band has been together for a staggering 20 years and really haven't change their style that much considering how long they have been trying to make a name for themselves. The band did gain a good reputation in the underground Greek scene mainly due to their live performances as early on as 1991 and that still continues to this day. One of the problems the band has faced over the years is their scattered recording history, "Superfreak" is only their third full length release which is pretty disappointing considering how long they have been playing but the fact they are still firmly hooked into the stoner rock sound shows they must really believe in what they are doing. The band doesn't play anything new or innovative, so stay clear of this album if that is what you are looking for. The album is however full of easily accessible,catchy choruses and memorable hooks but also play in a straight-forward style, every song has the same verse-chorus-verse progression so it is easy to get tired of the sound pretty quickly.

The album gets into gear with a chilling intro called "The Science Of Magic" before cranking it up for the first real track named "Enough Is Not Enough". From the get go it is obvious what this band is about, this is riff-rock fueled by weed and alcohol and it stays that way for the duration of the entire CD. Best songs would be "Baby, God Is Dead" despite the repeated vocal lines which are a bit overdone, "Superfreak" that is real simple in one way but also has a great riff played with real precision."Heavy Mental" and "Stain" are other standout tracks but really all the tracks on here have such a similar to one or another, it is real hard to separate one track from the next. A special mention must go to bass player Andreas who has a Geezer Butler type quality to his playing, some of the bass lines are awesome and its all helped along by some excellent production. Tolis is a great guitar playing also that while he is playing a style that has been done a million times before, you have to remember how long this band has been together, that pretty much makes them originators even though not many bands (if any) quote Nightstalker as a influence. The weak point for me has always been the vocalist Argy, this will upset you Nightstalker fans out there but his voice has never really cut it for me. He sounds like a cross between Ozzy Osbourne and Dave Wyndorf but without really mastering either approach to singing. At times he just seems to be moaning as opposed to singing and it just gets on my nerves after a few songs.

In conclusion, i must say if Nightstalker was a band from the USA then they would be a big well known band and a major influence. They play with passion and obviously have a real love for the style of music that they play. This comes out in their songs which are real strong despite their sometimes simplistic approach to arrangement. This will appeal to fans of everyone from Sabbath, Motorhead to Clutch and early Monster Magnet. Don't worry about what i said about the vocal style of Argy because i am sure a lot of people will dig his vocal sound, that is just a personal gripe with me. This is Nightstalker's strongest release so far but it is unlikely to win them any new fans but its "Raw Rock 'n Roll simplicity" made to be played loud with a few beers in the belly. 7/10

www.myspace.com/nightstalkermusic

Dec 28, 2009

Raven Head - Catharsis

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Raven Head from Nelson, British Columbia in Canada have had this album up for free download from their Myspace site for some time and listening to the quality of the music and the musicianship, it is really surprising they are not getting wide-spread attention. This is real classy rock music that blends many different styles from heavy Sabbath type riffs, Progressive rock in the vein of Pink Floyd and Genesis and catchy pop-ish melodies that create something truly atmospheric. The guitar attack of "Cold Lake" should get you interested from the start, the combination of heavy rolling rhythms and floating psychedelic feel is something timeless but also pretty unique in today's music world. "Epic" combines a apocalyptic riff with some cosmic shouting vocals from singer "Mike Hodsall" who also plays guitar. At over 12 minutes, it is a psychedelic journey and the mind-bending solo work has a hypnotic vibe to it. The track has a improvised feeling about it and i am not sure if the soloing is something that is structured or just jammed out but it has a real live vibe about it. Even though the songs are real lengthy, the 8 songs take up nearly 70 minutes but it never seems forced or dragged out. Every section of music seems to be a natural movement from one section to the next in the same way that Pink Floyd did it at their peak. You can picture this band doing a "Live At Pompeii" show just like Floyd, the music has that type of feeling about it, desolate and barren but extremely moving.

The track "Rosedale In Retrospect" has a some fine throbbing bass sounds at the beginning of the track and the dreamy,floaty vocals compliment it perfectly. The track is a effortless 9 minute journey into a cold dark place and the whole piece is so atmospheric it gives you the chills. "Absence" kicks off with some moody acoustic guitar playing combined with the warm vocal approach is mesmerizing. A little long perhaps, i would have like to have heard a heavy section thrown in there but still its a great slice of mood music. This track features some great dreamy keyboard sounds in the background that are perfectly mixed and balanced to give off a feeling of pure melancholy and sadness. A very emotional moving piece of music, beautifully arranged and played with real warmth and feeling. "Feast Of Flames" is more Floydish dramatics, starting off very mellow, the track slowly builds and at around the 5 minute, once again the use of keyboards for dramatic effect are very well done. The guitar work is outstanding and really shines on this track, the runs this guy plays are breath-taking but also full of so much feeling and taste. This band plays like seasoned veterans of the music world, like i said earlier its amazing they are not already a huge band. It also must be noted the music has a real visual quality to it so picturing this band on stage covered in laser's and a stunning light show is pretty easy to imagine.

Its not all trippy, mellow stuff however, they also have some heavy moments like in "Burning Sun" which has a powerful thick riff and like everything on this album it has some real catchy hooks, both musically and vocal wise. The riff change at around 4 minutes into the track is incredible and is perfectly executed. Its like they have a natural instinct on how to arrange and construct music with finesse and a abundance of taste. The guitar playing is both hypnotic, mesmerizing but also extremely tasteful like its the work of the 70's master guitar players like Gilmour, Page, Blackmore etc etc. "Resting Place" has a real early 70's Canterbury Progressive Rock vibe, anybody into bands like Caravan will know what i am talking about. Moody and always moving but also kind of quirky especially when the big riff comes in sounding like the work of "Alex Lifeson". This band really knows how to mix up sounds and influences and make it sound so natural. "The End" is not the Doors song but its equally as dramatic, a mellow intro leads into some heavy guitar sounds with a swirling riff that echoes the sound of classic Rush. Its another lengthy track but the track moves along so much emphasis on natural musical progressions that it all seems seamless with the song never stretching too long for its own good. This is a album to chill out to late at night or a perfect album for those hungover mornings, its also a beautiful piece of Progressive Rock with enough heavy sections to keep 70's rock purists happy. Psychedelic Rock fans will also admire the cosmic vibe of the album, its a pity i have already done my top 40 of 2009 list because this really deserves a place in it even though i think it was recorded in 2008. Cant wait to see where this band goes in the future, their potential is limitless. 10/10

www.myspace.com/ravenheadband

Dec 27, 2009

Planet Gemini - Wicked

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Planet Gemini is the work of a one man work-aholic metal machine know as "Hellion" or H, the impressive amount of work and music this man has released over the years is truly astounding. Over a dozen recordings have been made since the early part of this decade including a incredible six in the Cauldron of Fuzz series. The band or man has released all of their albums via a free download on the Planet Gemini website, while this is a generous thing to do, it may also might be one of the reasons the band has flown under the radar for all these years. So its about time the band has finally been given a official release and Psychedoomelic Records must be thanked for recognizing what is one of the hardest working and most creative musicians in metal which is Hellion. "Wicked" has been completely remixed and remastered with 2 bonus songs "Rise of the RedGod" and "Fal From the Sky"! It comes in a Digipack with a 8 page booklet and Includes lyrics, stories and some awesome artwork. I haven't seen it myself but i will take Hellion's word for it, i am still listening to a downloaded version which this review will be judged on. All i can say if a download can sound this good, the re-mastered,re-mixed version must be pretty good.

"Incantation" kicks the album off in fine style with a thick,rich guitar sound in the vein of old-school classic metal like Trouble and Sabbath but Planet Gemini have always managed to give the style a original edge which makes it stand out compared with the seemingly endless amount of old-school metal bands that are around these days. Interesting to note at this stage of the review is that Hellion's vocals were compared with Sheavy's Steve Hennessey on a Hellride review. A rather strange comparison as i don't hear that at all, his vocals do have a old school approach with the same vibe as some early 70's vocalists but Hennessey or Ozzy is not one of them. Songs like "Silver Strings" and "Preachin’ to the Choir" have enough chugging head-banging hooks to satisfy both doom and old school heavy metal fans. "Minus" and "The Deadly Sleep" are total old school doom rock songs that are dark and menacing but without getting too much to a crawl, in fact most of the songs on here have a fairly mid-tempo kind of groove but that is mid-tempo within the context of a doom metal band. "Lightmare" is a dark cosmic trip that sounds a little at odds with the rest of the album but still a interesting piece of music. "The Beast on Your Back" is a monster of a song, lurching and lumbering it is a stand out track on the album and properly my favorite cut on the album.

"Grim (My God of Red)" is one of the rawest tracks on the album and it follows nicely after the opening "Incantation". "Author of Pain" is another highpoint on the album, the song has a more progressive doom vibe to it and like most of the album has some inspired playing. "Eden" ends my version of the album with a moody acoustic vibe. There is two bonus tracks "Fal From the Sky" and "Rise of the RedGod" which i haven't heard but that is just more reason to seek out this CD. The songs are well written, well played with some interesting exciting unique guitar solos. The drums are kind of basic but that is to be expected from a one man band but they are still solid and serve all the songs very well. If there was ever a band that deserves more attention, its Planet Gemini. The sheer bulk and quality of the work should be enough reason to grab a copy of "Wicked" and it serves as a ideal starting point if you have never checked out the band as yet. 9/10

Planet Gemini: Wicked Collector's Edition AVAILABLE NOW!!!

Iron Claw - S/T Compilation

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This year i got one of my best Christmas presents ever, the new re-release of this Iron Claw Compilation. They have had compilations released before but this one is the best in terms of sound and in packaging. Iron Claw were one of the earliest purveyors of thunderously heavy proto-metal with a early doom vibe. These guys could play with the best of them, laying down heavy riffs with enough intensity to make Mr. Iommi take note and a bleak beat that predates sludge metal by a number of decades. People still think that "Dismorphophobia" is a actual Iron Claw release but in fact its just a compilation. Iron Claw crushed everything in their path across the UK from 1969 until 1974. Yet during this time, after recording at many stages throughout their career, they never officially released a single album. Luckily through tape-trading, the band's name was kept alive throughout the 70's up to now where you can get high quality recordings on CD.

Rockadrome has lovingly put together a knock-out package, laying down once and for all a proper homage to a band that never got the justice they deserved during their lifetime. Complete with liner notes from founding member Alex Wilson, a complete band line-up roster, artist quotes on each song, tons of photos, and, most importantly, 16 giant slabs of heavy early masterpieces of dirty doom influenced metal before doom metal even existed, this is a can't miss package for all fans of heavy psych, proto-metal and the early days of doom rock. While everyone claims to have found a band as heavy as Sabbath, not many if any bands really come close but Iron Claw are pretty close to the heaviness of Iommi,Butler,Ward and Osbourne. Like most bands from the period, its only the cheap production and poor management that stopped them from being on the same level as Sabbath.

They formed after Alex witnessed Zeppelin playing on their first tour of Britain, the band finally found their direction after hearing Sabbath perform at the Dumfries Youth Club in 1969. Initially, the band was so enamored with Sabbath that their live set was the entire first Black Sabbath LP plus a couple original tunes! Then slowly, they began to write more of their own material and the real talent of Iron Claw began to emerge. Featuring a guitar player, Jimmy Ronnie who at 15 already had the riffs, the band career's was full of seriously mind alternating, devastatingly heavy psychedelic blues that was put down on tape in only a few recording sessions.

The CD presents, roughly chronologically, the bulk of Iron Claw's recorded output, and it's a fascinating study of one band's development and perseverance. The first 5 tracks come from what is known as Mark I of the band, featuring the original line-up. This is by far the most Sabbath derived period of the band but the band didn't rip off Sabbath, they had their own sound as these tracks show. The tracks are low-fi, 4-track recordings that adds an endearing, garage quality to their early brand of doom that is truly ahead of its time. The track called "Clawstrophobia," is just what the title suggests, a monstrous heavy riff-fest, this is the most Sabbath-esque track on the disc, eerie as anything done by the masters, and worthy of appearing next to "The Wizard," or "Black Sabbath." This is amazing track when you consider just how young the band were at this time, they were all still teenagers. "Mist Eye," is another Sabbath-y proto-metal riff, with a strong vocals and some savage guitar playing that some bands are still trying to master right up to this day.

"Sabotage," has a kind of jazz intro before launching into a monster of a distorted blues riff, "Crossrocker," is a full-on fuzzed doom assault, while "Skullcrusher," does exactly that. Each of these are prime examples of the burgeoning heavy metal sound and each stands as a testament to the worthiness of this band as one of the heaviest outfits in their day. Worth buying for these five tracks alone, but the best is yet to come.

Having laid down these mighty platters of raw heaviness, Iron Claw finally met Sabbath, but rather that being embraced as fellow heavy metal pioneers, they were instead hit with a veiled threat of litigation if their early tapes were ever released. That shows you how much Sabbath was threatened by this young still unknown band. But it also marked the demise of Mark I of the band, the singer leaving in 1971. The band reformed with a new singer and extra guitarist and launched head-long into Mark II of their existence, which quickly morphed to Mark III when that guitarist was asked to leave. This period, Mark III, heralds the real glory days for the band. Keeping the inherent heaviness in their groove, but lightening up the affair a touch with more blues base, the boys had grown, learned their instruments, and concentrated on songwriting. "Rock Band Blues," charges like some amphetamine-fueled Deep Purple outtake. New singer Willie Davidson adds a more soul to the band's sound than before. Ronnie once again proves to be one of the most unheralded, unheard guitarists of his time. His tone and phrasing on his jams here are knock-out mind-boggling! "Pavement Artist," follows a weird version of a drum solo intro into another killer catchy blues riffing tune. Echoes of Free reside here, or some proto-version of early Whitesnake, this can also be found in "Strait Jacket," "Gonna Be Free," and the band's one and only attempt at a ballad "All I Really Need." Its this period of the band that should have been recorded and released at the time, if so i am sure we would be talking about Iron Claw in the same way we talk about Sabbath, Purple and Zeppelin. The Mark III version vanished when original drummer Ian McDougall quit. The new version of the band adopted a more experimental, free form jam sound producing interesting cuts with "Winter," and "Devils" but the original magic was lost and the writing was on the wall that the band would split. Much praise must go out to Rockadrome for keeping these bands alive, there was so much underrated music in the early 70's that went un-noticed while big name bands stole all the attention. That has always been one of the biggest crimes in heavy rock history because while the likes of Sabbath,Purple and Zeppelin deserve their place as hard rock kings there was many bands who on their day were just as good.

Rockadrome Store Record Label Hard rock Heavy metal psych prog rock vinyl cd

Truckfighters - Mania

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Truckfighters are a band that had a distinctive sound in the beginning but that signature sound has been messed around with several times due to constant and destructive line-up changes. They have gone through two drummers and a guitarist in the last two years, their second drummer left due to an injury and was replaced by their original member who left again soon after re-joining the band. This would destroy most bands but somehow they kept things going even though the band at the moment is basically two members, Ozo and Dango. This is their third album and the lack of a second guitar player is quite noticeable but this is still a strong album anyway. That signature sound i mentioned was one of a distinct blend of fuzz and hard rock but on this album it seems a little more relaxing and laid back. The band to a certain degree has dropped the wall of guitar fuzz noise approach and have developed a much smoother hard rock sound. They don't have the same punch as they used to but the songwriting is still top-notch stuff that is moving into a more progressive rock sound while still retaining the riff rock vibe they have always had. In a few songs the band seems to be trying a different approach as in the opener "Last Curfew" which has some of the most aggressive vocals ever dished out by Ozo. "The New High" has one of the sickest riffs the band has ever done. While the second guitar is missing, the band seems to be trying to be making up for it by becoming more aggressive and that becomes more and more visible the further you get into the album.

Another stand out feature of the album is the gritty bass sound which has been cranked up a notch for this recording, once again this helps to fill the void left by the absence of the second guitar. "Monte Gargano", "Con of Man" and "Majestic" are all highlights on the album, the band has set themselves a new standard of songwriting with these tunes. The rest of the album seems a little over-rated to me but that is just my opinion. I know Truckfighters have a dedicted and loyal following and those people will love this album. Personally thier previous two albums have more kick than this one but this album has a definitive polish to it that is bound to attract new fans. Truckfighters seems to be moving away from ultra-dense desert rock metal sound and getting closer to much more marketable progressive rock with a more psychedelic edge. Its not mainstream at all but there is a obvious shift into a more commercial direction even though this album contains some real long songs. "Majestic" is over 13 minutes in length and is the best example of the band trying to get as much out of a song as possible in the fine tradition of progressive hard rock. Now that the term "Stoner Rock" is now officially dead and buried (if its not it should be), Truckfighters are one of the bands searching for a new fresher approach to the genre and they have found it on Mania. Time will tell if its the right way to go, check it out for yourself. I still rate previous albums higher than this but this is a album that could be the turning point for the band. 8/10

www.myspace.com/truckfighters

Dec 22, 2009

Ahab - The Divinity of Oceans






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The Divinity Of Oceans is the second album from German Funeral Doom Metal band Ahab, following their acclaimed debut album The Call Of The Wretched Sea, released in 2006. The Call Of The Wretched Sea was a concept album based on Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick, and The Divinity Of Oceans follows in its wake. The album’s cover art is taken from Théodore Géricault’s famous painting of 1819, The Raft Of The Medusa. Now you may think two albums about whaling maybe stretching things a bit but at least it makes a change from the usual Doom Metal subject matter. The Divinity Of Oceans contains seven tracks taking up a hefty 67 minutes of what is rather minimalistic Funeral Doom at times but Ahab are one of the few bands that can do it and keep it interesting. The first track "Yet Another Raft Of The Medusa (Pollard's Weakness)" opens with melodic strummed guitar before launching into the trademarks of the Ahab sound. Deep guttural vocals, pondering drums, bass heavy guitars and a lead guitar playing eloquent tones of misery and woe. The riffs of Hector and Droste are as heavy and ponderously crushing as a the ocean itself, and the haunting leads are gloomy and obscure. The keyboards are kept to a subtle level and do just enough to complement the melodies. The vocal work of Daniel Droste has improved, adding some mournful clean vocal work and choruses to his Gregorian-like chants. The rhythm section of Wandernoth and Althammer is huge as always as they add layers of sound to fill out the song.

The rest of the album follows in a similar vein, no surprises there except there is a couple of moments where they mix things up a bit. "Tombstone Carousel" has a more energetic, chugging pace with double bass drum work, crushing doom riffs and even somewhat surprisingly melodic interludes. Here the band shows they have some versatility and its not all pure doom and gloom. In "O Father Sea" and "Redemption Lost", their sound has some cleaner doom moments that at times flirt with a sound of Solitude Aeturnus. The album’s title track is another multi-dimensional highlight, but the whole album maintains an impressively high standard. The album plays like a true concept album, the songs tend to flow into each other and if you are not paying attention it is easy to lose track of what song you are listening to. The songs are real long with the shortest track being 7 minutes but its somewhat more easily digestible and varied at the same time compared with their debut album but without giving up on the dark atmosphere. The music is very lyrical but unfortunately the booklet doesn't contain the lyrics but you can find the lyrics on several lyric websites. Its worth searching the words out as they are truly well written and a excellent piece of intelligent story-telling.

I think that that Ahab have released possibly the most captivating Funeral Doom Metal of 2009 and it shows some solid progression from The Call Of The Wretched Sea. This album has much more variation, such as more changes in tempo but only slightly, this album still crawls along but there is more chugging riffs and less minimalistic structures that show the band has matured considerably since their debut album and may grow to be even more intricate in years to come. Maybe the best Funeral Doom album of the year for me and i am sorry i am so late reviewing this album. 9/10



Ahab @ MySpace

Top 40 of 2009

In no particular order


1. Yidhra - Promo EP
2. Dark Covenant - Promo EP
3. Orchid - Through The Devils Doorway
4. Count Raven - Mammons War
5. Dopethrone - Demonsmoke
6. Ahab - The Divinity Of Oceans
7. Ichabod - 2012
8. Black Pyramid - S/T
9. Planet Gemini - Cauldron Of Fuzz 6
10. Sunn O))) - Monoliths And Dimensions
11. Wino - Punctuated Equilbrium
12. Revelation - For The Sake Of No One
13. Funeral Circle - Sinister Sacrilege
14. Raventale - Mortal Aspirations
15. Paganus - S/T
16. Sesta Marconi - Where The Devil Dances
17. Dali's Llama - Raw Is Real
18. Baroness - Blue Record
19. Earthen Grave - Dismal Times
20. Houdini - Rotation Of The Elements
21. Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight - Movin On
22. Sinister Realm - S/T
23. Switchblade - S/T
24. Eternal Elysium - Within The Triad
25. Ancestors - Of Sound Mind
26. Sihr - Beneath The Twelve Mile Zone
27. Ol Scratch - The Sunless Citadel
28. Eagle Twin - The Unkindness Of Crows
29. Tank Destroyer - Head Of The Demon
30. Serpent Throne - The Battle Of The Old Crow
31. Yob - The Great Cessation
32. Dawn Of Winter - The Peaceful Dead
33. Doomraiser - Erasing The Remembrance
34. Altar Of Oblivion - Sinews Of Anguish
35. Maegashira - The Stark Arctic
36. Iron Man - I Have Returned
37. Mournful Congregation - The June Frost
38. Black Market Ministry - Voices Of The Coming Plague
39. Skeletal Spectre - Tomb Coven
40. Horisont: - Tva Sidor Av Horisonten

Of course there was many other great albums released this year or at the tail end of last year which this list reflects but these are albums that have been on constant rotation for me in the past 12 months.

Skeletal Spectre - Tomb Coven

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SKELETAL SPECTRE "Tomb Coven" CD is out now on Razorback Recordings, the same label that brought you all of the debut albums from Coffins, Acid Witch, and Hooded Menace! The album has the usual killer artwork expected from a Razorback release, this time the artwork painting has been done by by Adam Geyer. Skeletal Spectre are yet another old school Swedish retro death/doom metal band, it seems to be getting to be a little trendy these days but bands like this are so good so who cares anyway. They are calling this a full length album despite the fact its under 30 minutes, this is something that always bugs me a little. Call it a ep and sell it a bit cheaper folks but that is a minor complaint. One look at the album art, the song titles and the names of the band members tells you this band is very tongue in cheek. On bass and vocals you have Behold the Pentagram, Sacrifice the Virgin plays guitar and then there is Haunting the Beyond on drums. The sound is very old school with influences ranging from early Entombed, Celtic Frost, Cathedral, Black Sabbath to Motorhead but its all played very much in the vein of classic doom metal with death metal vocals. "The Decapitress" starts the horror off with chugging riffs and a wall of sound and while everything is pretty basic, the sonic heaviness and the vocals of Behold the Pentagram send it over the top.

Most people would have heard all the riffs before somewhere but that is not a issue when a band is as crushing as this, the cheese factor is at a all time high but this is real good fun to listen to. "Amulet of Impurity" is sludge meets rock and roll and "Eerie Bones" is a masterpiece of crawling catchy death with melodic doom overtones. "Wrath of Corrupta" has a type of Motorhead punk metal vibe to it and "Burial Ground" is a slow boiler of a track with a real catchy chorus. "Cursed Ancestry" heads off in a mid-tempo Cathedral stoner groove with Behold the Pentagram doing his best Tom Warrior impression. The title track "Tomb Coven" is the closet thing to Acid Witch on here with a sinister riff complete with morbid vocals. There is not much you can say about this album, you have heard it all before but the sound is massive and it is full of catchy hooks and rhythms. Something about Razorback Recordings always leave you floored and this is no exception, the production is massive. Once again this will create a debate for doom and death metal fans alike on whether the two genres should ever mix but i think this is proof that it can and that bands like this are here to stay. This is easily in the top 5 of Razorback releases so far, faultless in terms of sound and production. It may not bring anything new to the death/doom table but this is a kick ass CD that is pure fun. I would have like a couple more tracks but i will overlook that when the tracks here are just so damn good. 9/10

Skeletal Spectre @ MySpace

Dec 21, 2009

Revelation - For the Sake of No One

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Revelation started up in the 80s in Baltimore, Maryland releasing what is considered their debut album, Salvation’s Answer in 1991 although earlier this year saw the overdue release of the S/T album that was to have preceded the Salvation’s Answer album. The band has a rich history leading up to 1995 when they released the great Yet So Far CD. They have remained a largely a cult band even though they should be considered one of the greats of the genre. You must keep in mind the same line-up have released a staggering 11 albums under the name Against Nature. This album is the classic line up of Revelation with John Brenner on guitar and vocals, Bert Hall on bass and Steve Branagan on drums. The Release album was a fine return to the Doom scene when it was released last year and this album carries on with the same high quality standard that Release had but this album maybe a little better. "A Matter of Days" kicks the album off in pure Doom Metal fashion with smoking riff work and searing solo work that this band should be famous for. The guitar work is fits in well the adventurous bass work that is wandering in a different direction it seems but they not only make it work, it also sounds fresh although they are on a very traditional Doom Metal path. The band specializes in the pentatonic blues based riff rather than the sustained notes that so many Doom bands focus on these days. Second track "Offset" simply smokes but like most of this album, the track has a kind of restrained vibe but the guitar/bass and drum work serves the songs in magnificent fashion. A lot of bands would really complicate things but Revelation have the knack of finding the perfect groove and vibe for each track.

Brenner has always been a great vocalist and a bit different than your usual doom metal singer with his high and sometimes nasally voice but it is just perfect for carrying the strong melodies, particularly on the epic "Canyons". At nearly 10 minutes long, this track is a stand out piece of old school Doom Rock. The unique about Revelation is they don't follow the Doom Metal rule book too closely and "Canyons" is a classic example of what can be done if you have some finesse and imagination. The song is basically a extended jam highlighted by Brenner’s exciting soloing that is riveting to listen to. "On A Promontory" is more up-tempo than most of the material on here and "The Whisper Stream" shows the band are not afraid to be a little eccentric with their song-writing. This tune heads into a almost "Rush-Like" song but still with old school Doom Metal tendencies. "Vigil" brings the band back into pure Doom Metal style both musically and lyrically, all the elements are there on this one. Haunting melody, interesting and original arrangements and of course a emotional filled vocal. The album ends with the title track "For the Sake of No One" and its delivered with the same power and passion as the rest of the album. A fitting end to a very complete piece of work from the masters.

While this has a very 70’s style of playing, they add a freshness to it which is a pleasure to hear in 2009. A special mention must go to the guitar work that combines simplicity with some exciting open chord flourishes that gives each and every track some serious depth. I did read once that Brenner was described as a cross between Alex Lifeson and Tony Iommi and that is pretty accurate, the guitar work is heavy but extremely colorful at the same time. As usual with this band the lyrics are highly expressive and thoughtful and delivered from a very personal point of view. The interplay between bass and drum work on this album are not to be missed either, the album has many layers and with all good albums like this, a new layer is discovered every time you give it a spin. The only negative aspect of this album is the recording that is well produced but also extremely quiet, you will need to crank your volume up to fully experience the power this band has. I strongly encourage people to buy this CD or head to the Bland Hand Records site and you’ll find the entire Revelation discography available for download as high quality mp3s. The downloads are on a donation based system, pay a few bucks and help the band out. This is proof of what experience and great songwriting brings to a band and Revelation has all that and more. 9/10

Myspace

Dec 20, 2009

Dopethrone - Demonsmoke

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Its been a hell of a few months for Canadian Doom and Sludge and here is another CD to add to the ever growing list of killer Canadian releases. "Dopethrone" in March 2008 as a completely D.I.Y. project but quickly formed into a fully fledged band, the band members are Vincent on guitar and vocals, Thomas on drums and Vyk playing bass guitar. With a name like "Dopethrone", they don't win any points for originally and the music itself is very much in the vein of Bongzilla, Weedeater and Sleep but there is a big difference. Where as Bongzilla battered your brains out with long repetitive riffing, Dopethrone actually keep the songs pretty short and have a almost catchy appeal. Obviously the band are a pack of weed-worshiping maniacs and like Bongzilla, they use a few spoken word samples to drive that point home but its the riffs, the great sound and concise song arrangement that make this such a great release. From the opening title track "Demonsmoke" with the spoken word sample about a woman buying some "Colombian", you pretty much know what you are in for but don't ride them off as just another rip-off stoner band because they have the riffs and more. The riffing has a hazy, old school groove that is more 70's than the likes of the other bands i previously mentioned. There is where the catchy element comes in, yes the sound is fat and heavy but there is a instant hook that comes with every track on here.

"Wizard's Sleeve" changes between big stoner grooves and some almost blue-grass style picking and the start/stop arrangement is very effective and pulverizing. "Spirit Ruiner" is filled with more thick grooves and more spoken word samples and the vocals are spewed forth in a typical Mike "Muleboy" Makela style but vocalist Vincent delivers it with a touch more demonic malice. Track four "Abraxas" is the odd tune of the bunch, a great tune in its own right but it sounds a little different from the rest of the album. "Psychic Vampire" and "Blood Boiler" are two of the best tracks on the album, the former is actually the longest track on the album at 5 minutes. It might sound funny but i find to listen to songs so short these days seeing as most Doom/Sludge bands do tend to drag things out as long as possible. This hurts the album a little in my opinion because a good riff deserves to be played over and over again, sometimes on this album you feel ripped off by the fact that songs end too quickly. "Power Violence Forever" strikes as being the weakest track on Demonsmoke but its in and out in just a couple of minutes. The album ends with "Legalize Murder", more thick heavy grooves are in abundance and its a fine way to finish what is a really short album that is more like a ep than a full length album.

Rating this album is difficult, its not original at all but still it kills with great grooves and a excellent production. The songs are great but at the same time seem too short and a little un-finished, the vocals are awesome but they have been done many times before. It would be so easy to say fuck it and give this a 10 but that wouldn't be too accurate in judging the album as a whole. Having made that observation, it must be said that if riffs make a album then this is one of the best albums released this year. Seeing as this band is fairly new, they have a incredible amount of potential to be a monster within the Stoner Doom Sludge scene if they can established a sound more of their own. Load your bong and give them a listen. 8.5/10

www.myspace.com/dopethronemafia

Huata – Open the Gates of Shambala EP

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Huata are a French band formed in 2006 who after many line-up changes have finally settled on a stable line-up in 2009. The band is made of Carcinos (guitar and vocals), Vkng Jzz (bass) and Coco (drums). Member Vkng Jzz is also plays in other French bands including The Arm Of The Dirty Rabbit, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. They play deeply distorted sludge doom in the vein of Electric Wizard, Church of Misery, Coven, Pentagram as well as Weedeater, Earthride and Ramesses. The music is hardly original but its real good powerful stoner doom metal and the lyrical is provocative to say the least. The subject matter includes Josef Fritzl and his Hitler youth, necrophilia, the destruction of the world and even some reference to the killing of hippies. The band is promoting their releases on myspace and offers their debut 2009 EP as a free download, click on the link on the bottom of this review and you will find the download embedded in the header of their page. The ep was Russian label Quagmire limited to 66 tapes. It was also distributed in France through the label Throatruiner records. The ep is supposed to be pressed on CD but its still available as a free download.

Huata is a Celtic, Breton word, one of whose meanings is "hunting witches" so that gives you some idea of where this band is coming from. The band is already getting a reputation for being a incredibly loud live band and the songs on here are made with excessive volume in mind. The guitar sounds are thicker than molasses especially the bass which is one of the heaviest bass sounds i have heard this year. The riffs are all built around huge amounts of fuzz and distortion but its not all slow doom, some of this stuff simply shreds in a stoner doom kind of way. The overall sound is pure vintage but pushed to the limits of sonic depravity, if Church Of Misery had of existed in the early 70's, they might have sounded like this. The production is dirty and raw, this type of production would hurt most bands but its suits Huata just right. There is no weak tracks on here, they are all great tunes but "Josef Fritzl Syndrom" and "Alchemist Reborn" stand out as being classic tracks. It is interesting that within the wall of sonic bliss they create there is also some strong melodies trying to push through although you may not notice it as the sound is so crushing at times. Its all over in about 30 minutes and it will leave you devastated, fans of Church Of Misery will love this. This was recorded over a year ago so a full length album can't be far away, i can't wait to hear what they come up with. If its anything like this, it will be one of the albums of the year. 9/10

UPDATE ~ This was released in 2009, not 2008 as originally stated. Also Coco is no longer in the band - Ed

www.myspace.com/huatastonerband

Dec 18, 2009

The Wizar'd - Infernal Wizardry

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If there ever was a mystery band, its The Wizar’d from Tasmania, Australia. It is close to impossible to find out any informative information about the band, the band members don't use their real names and they come from one of the most obscure places on earth which is Tasmania. Sorry to all those that live there but face it, its no man's land. I have been there many times and to think a band like this lives and plays this music there is amazing. They must scare the crap out of people down there as this state of Australia is not exactly known for its love of heavy music. I have had this album for about a year after a friend sent me a downloaded version of the album but i finally got the real CD so i thought its about time they got a review for it. They have a complete D.I.Y approach to their music and seem to love being as underground as possible so maybe that is why info, especially interviews is so hard to come by. They have a garage Doom approach and the vocals are not exactly classy, in fact they have a snotty punk sound but that adds to the charm and character of the songs. This is mostly slow, traditional doom with pretty shitty production to be honest but somehow it seems to suit them just fine. Not many bands can release something that sounds so bad production wise but make it sound like such a tasty piece of Doom. The band takes the influences of early Cathedral, Reverend Bizarre and mix it up with early 80's British Metal sounds, at times the music sounds like a Doom version of Cirith Ungol but with punky vocals.

The album starts with "Horned Lord" and the Sabbathian riffs are right there, the album only gets better though. Second cut, "Witchwither" really highlights the singer's warbling vocals and it nearly kills the track at times but this is some classic Doom with killer riffs. The singer goes by the name of "Ol' Rusty Vintage Wizard Master", that had me cracking up when i first read it but even though this dude isn't very well versed in the craft of singing, his voice has a unique charm about it. The CD really starts to deliver the goods by the third track "Infernal Wizardry", it begins with a b-movie incantation over feedback before it erupts into a orgy of what sounds like drunken Doom kids just having fun. The singer does his best angered, tormented vocals and despite the average production, it is still delivered with some real power. "Depressive Holiday" has the vocalist muttering in the most monotone voice you can imagine but the music delivers on every level. From this point on, a more of a Electric Wizard feeling begins to emerge in some of the parts. This track crawls along for nearly 10 minutes but holds your attention right to the end. "Crushing Gothic Slime" is perhaps the most throw-away track on the album and beware of the fairly cheesy lyrics on this one. "Gloomwing" comes and goes without you even noticing its there or that is what happens to me where i hear it. "Plague Ship Of Doom" is another slow burner and is pretty solid but not a major highlight but the next and last track of the album kills. "The Megalomaniac" starts off classic riff and moves into a uptempo groove after a series of strange vocal and guitar effects. Where it goes after that is one hell of a warped journey into drug-induced Doom. At times like a few of the tracks on here it wanders but its riddled with some truly cool but weepy guitar leads, along with some very memorable Doom riffs that Iommi himself would have been happy recording.

The band is undoubtedly at their best when the riffs and grooves are old school , and the vocals are dirty. "Horned Lord", "Infernal Wizardry" and "The Megalomaniac" definitely stand out as the album's high-points. I know a lot of The Wizar'd's material is rehashed for releases so how old or new are the songs, i have no idea. There was a real buzz about this band about a year ago with a video getting around of a entire live set, i think it still exists if you Google it. What has happen since then is a mystery but that sums up this band, that is a pity because this is a great album despite a couple of clunkers and poor production values. They used to have a Myspace but i can no longer find it, their official site is dead which leaves their record company's Rusty Axe website and that tells you next to nothing about the band. Some bands love to be obscure, this band seems to live for it. The band is worthy of attention, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for them, that is if they are even still together. If you know anything, let me know as i haven't the time to Google band names all day. Until then, let's just call Infernal Wizardry a record well-suited for doom aficionado's everywhere. 8.5/10

Dec 17, 2009

Funeral Circle - Sinister Sacrilege

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Funeral Circle is a Doom band hailing from Vancouver, Canada and have released their first official ep courtesy of Miskatonic Records. I heard a earlier demo from them and while the songs were great, the production was too thin for the music to leave any lasting impact. Things have turned around now because this is a beast of the ep with good production and things can only get better for this band who has some huge potential to be a monster within the Doom scene. The band is made up of a guitarist/singer who goes by the name of The Grand Inquisitor, Pilgrim who also plays Guitars, Malphas on bass and Patriarch playing drums. Whats unique about this band is the range of styles of Doom they covered, within the 30 minutes or so of this CD you will sounds similar to Candlemass, Pentagram, The Lamp Of Thoth, Paul Chain, Saint Vitus, Witchfinder General, Solstice and sometimes you will hear this all within the one song. The first two tracks, "Homunculus" and "Legions Invictus" are in the epic doom style similar to the likes of Candlemass but with a original twist. The vocalist, The Grand Inquisitor gives the songs some powerful and inspiring vocals and his lead playing shows a good understanding of vibrato and phrasing. Something that would make Tony Iommi proud. The rhythm section propels the tunes along that make you stand up and take notice, may even give you the chills up the spine like all good Doom Metal should do.

"Legions Invictus" is exceptionally arousing, similar to The Lamp Of Thoth's best work in as it features some well conceived and executed spoken word passages. "Sinister Sacrilege" kicks up the pace a little sounding like something out of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal era, with twists and turns this track sounds like it was made to be a opener or closer to a live set. While the tempo is pushed up a gear on this one, the track still retains the Doom sound and feel throughout. The track with the rather cheesy title "Fist of Satan" is more N.W.O.B.H.M esque style with some more up - tempo with a great riff and the chorus is especially catchy. The ep ends with a cover of an obscure 80’s Canadian band known as Lord Ryur. The song is called "Pact with the Sinner" and it fits in well with the rest of the cd. Sounding a little like Witchfinder General, this is pure old school Doom Metal Rock. Its great to see so much good stuff coming out of Canada right now. Funeral Circle are a band worth paying attention to with this EP. The songs are great and the musicianship is there, and they have a killer vocalist. If you’re into traditional Doom Metal and if you are a old school Doom fan you will dig the hell out of this baby. Can't wait for a full length album to come out from this band, now that is something to look forward to. 9/10

www.myspace.com/funeralcircle

Dec 16, 2009

Skanska Mord - The Last Supper

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This CD has been hanging around my house for quite some time waiting to be reviewed, i kept on putting it off because i was hoping one more spin would get me hooked on this Swedish band. I am a big fan of Swedish Stoner Rock so i real excited about hearing this but after some 20 spins of the disc, they strike me as being a little too generic of the Stoner Rock sound. They are not bad at all but you find yourself saying haven't i heard this before somewhere? The band follows the same path as other Stoner greats from that country like Dozer, Truckfighters and so on. Big meaty riffs inspired by 70's hard rock legends with some harmonica and organ thrown in places to fill out the sound. The band members are two members of Half Man, vocalist Jan Bengtsson and bass player Patric Carlsso and three from Mothercake, drummer Thomas J?nsson and guitarists Patrik Berglin and Petter Englund. "Under the Volcano" sets things off in a positive manner with some fine stoner riffing so at first you get yourself strapped in for some killer Stoner workouts but you soon find, its all a little familiar. They are not ripping anyone off, its just too much like so many other bands in the genre. Jan Bengtsson has a great voice in the Soundgarden type vein and the guitar work is polished and is very tight. They have a bluesy feel along with enough fuzz to satisfy most Stoner Rock fans and the band delivers a decent amount of energy throughout the album.

The best tracks all seem to be in the middle to the ending of the CD, tunes like "In the Dark" and "The Hermit" are major highlights with some serious grooves. They are straight up, no bull Stoner Rock tunes so if that is your thing you will dig those two songs. "A Journey" is another cool song with more "no frills" Stoner grooves and is certainly catchy and heavy, the band reminds me of a cross between Greenleaf and The Bought Low at times seeing they have a blues based groove most of the time. The problem i have is in the rest of the album where the band lacks its own personality, its good stuff but way too generic and too traditional for its own good. Being a debut album you can forgive them for maybe playing it safe and they should develop more of their own sound in the next couple of years. For now though this is a album that has some genuine killer moments but just as many stock-standard moments where they sound un-inspired or just sound too much like other bands. It still proves however that Sweden is still a hot-spot for Stoner/Desert Rock bands, how that country continues too produce so many bands with that sound is amazing and Skanksa Mord have that sound indeed. It will be interesting to see where the band takes that sound in the future, definitely a band to watch out for. 6/10

www.myspace.com/skanskamordmusic

Dec 15, 2009

Elsewhere - Promo EP 2009

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Elsewhere are a Italian Gothic/Doom band that combines the influences of My Dying Bride, Opeth, Paradise Lost, Katatonia and insert sounds reminiscent of bands from the great Italian Progressive Rock scene. The band is made up of Martino(vocals), Riccardo( piano), Edoardo(bass) and Luciano(guitars). This 3 track EP explores relationships, the difficulty to live within modern society, anguish, pain and the constant quest to find an utopian solution to death. As a band they have a sound that is a little different in structure than the usual Goth/Doom outfit as they have a lot of Progressive Rock touches and even some guitar work that is verging on blues at times or at least that's how i hear it. The EP starts off with the epic "A Worthless Corpse" that combines a slow and haunting melody that is full of emotion. There is a fine balance between the heavy extended riff work and some delicate moody sections including the piano intro which sets the mood for this 14 minute track. The song does a pretty good job at keeping your attention despite being a little long and the instrumental role-play show a great deal of versatility.

Second track "Forsaking" is perhaps the most "prog-rock" of the three songs with some interesting tempo changes and acoustic parts. They produce a kind of cinematic drama within this tune and while it sounds a little too much like Opeth in parts, it sounds like the strongest tune on the EP. The final track is "We Are Water" and this is Doom at its most intimate, very melancholic but also showing some subtle diversity. This is one of the better bands i have heard this year playing this style but i found the vocals to be a little weak, not bad but lacking some emotional depth that these songs need. The production is excellent and the playing is very good but does the world need another band like My Dying Bride? I would think not but at least they are trying something a little different. 8/10

www.myspace.com/musicfromelsewhere

Dec 14, 2009

Dark Covenant - Promo EP

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During the early-mid 1980s, bands from England and the United States contributed much to the formation of Traditional Doom Metal as a distinct genre. In 1982, English pioneers Witchfinder General released their debut album Death Penalty. During 1984 and 1985, three American pioneers also released their first albums Saint Vitus released their eponymous album, Trouble released Psalm 9 and Pentagram released Relentless. The Swedish Candlemass would also prove influential with their first record Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 1986. Traditional Doom was on a high at this point in history and then it pretty much died, thankfully a few bands like Solitude Aeturnus brought it back in the consciousness of Doom Metal fans but it has remained underground ever since but maybe that is about to change with bands like Dark Covenant. The genre needs a much needed boost and this is a band that could do just that, they have released a 4 track promo EP and it has all the trademarks of a classic Traditional Epic Doom Metal.

The band concentrates on classic Doom Metal subject matter like ancient mythologies, the esoteric and other epic themes but its not just the lyrical concepts that puts this band firmly in the "classic mold", its also the stylish, finely tuned musicians. The EP starts with "Forever Amongst The Ruins" that begins with a very "Candlemass" sounding riff capped off with the stirring vocal work of Vjohrrnt Wodansson who has a commanding thundering voice. The track has all the elements needed for a epic Doom track, great riffing, a acoustic interlude, double bass drum pummeling and some soaring lead guitar lines. Track two is no slouch in the epic Doom department either, its called "Black Sun Rising" and the crunching riff and melodic note runs would make Solitude Aeturnus proud. Once again there is more exciting lead breaks from guitarist Evil Lair and its quite obvious that this band takes their music very seriously as the musicianship is top shelf stuff. The band has playing in one form or another since the early 90's and it shows as their instrumental skills are excellent. "Black Sun Rising" is nearly 7 minutes long but it actually seems short as it is so well constructed in terms of arrangement. The song abruptly ends leaving you wanting more like there should be a part two to this epic tale.

Next up is "Perennial Solitude" and out of the four tracks, this one might be the best at showcasing the brilliant guitar work of both Evil Lair and JS. Both highly talented players who have a obvious flair for playing this genre of metal. The track like all the tracks are a finely tuned balanced between melodic Doom metal and technical ability without going too overboard in either direction. The final track is "Black Raven" and has one of the heavier riffs on the CD but its also combined beautifully with somber quieter moments that add to the intensity of the song. Like "Black Sun Rising" it has a un-expected ending which leaves you wanting more and also makes you wander if there was some music left on the cutting room when it was recorded. The fade out conclusion seems to be a after-thought but all the songs on here are the type of songs that could easily be extended into very long pieces of music. The band has a full length album in the works and is going to be one of the most eagerly awaited albums of 2010. Its not too often in the world of Doom you hear a band with this much musical ability seeing as the current Doom scene is awash with sludge, stoner riffing bands and you certainly don't hear guitar solos as good as this too often either. They are a band that will appeal to old-school Doom Metal fans and fans of Traditional Melodic Metal but i would hope all "Doom Fans" will take some time out to hear this band. This is only the beginning for the band but with material like this and musicianship of this quality, the future of Doom Metal is in good hands. Like it proudly states in the inside of the CD, "Face Your Imminent Doom". 10/10

www.myspace.com/darkcovenantdoom

Clagg - Lord Of The Deep

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One of the draw-backs of getting CD's sent to you every week for reviews is sometimes a CD gets lost in the endless pile of CD's or simply gets forgotten about. One look at my CD collection and you can see how easily this could happen, this is the case of Clagg's third album "Lord Of The Deep" where too many CD's and too little time forced me to put this on hold for a while. I totally regret it now as this is a great slab of sonic Doom from a band that is one of Australia's heaviest bands ever. Its been two years since they released "Where Dead Gods Sleep" which was so heavy it was like they were searching for the ultimate brown note noise. That album was incredibly, oppressively thick and slow and this album might be a little faster overall but the heaviness is still there intact. The band has been plagued with a lot of line-up changes recently but its great to see they have lost nothing in terms of heaviness or sonic brutality.

The album starts with the 16 minute "Carrion" and in typical Clagg style it is in the vein of Iron Monkey, Grief etc. There is not much in terms of riffs but there is a oddly faster middle section to break things up a bit. With bands like this there is a tendency to get a little tedious and the last half of the track does just that. Its still all good but they might have been wise to shave a few minutes off the track but thankfully there is a great solo towards the end of the track which makes it worth the journey. The title track which is split into two parts called "They Dream Fire" and "At the Rising of the Storm" is more concise than the opener despite running over 15 minutes. "Buried" has a killer riff but its a real effort to sit through as once again, one killer riff in a such a long track makes it a demanding stretch.

"The Harvest" is different from the rest of the album because the sludge noise is replaced by traditional doom and the vocals take a un-expected twist. The raspy growls are replaced by some crooning which gives singer Scotty a chance to show he has some melody to his pipes as opposed to his usual hollering style. The final track "Devour the Sun" takes the band back to its usual sludge fest and once again things do tend to drag on a bit but it is saved by some scorching solo guitar work. Despite the fact that most of the songs do run over their desired running times, i still think this is a slight improvement over "Where Dead Gods Sleep" and therefore is a ideal way to start checking out this band if you haven't done so as yet. 8.5/10

Clagg @ Myspace.com

Megasus - S/T

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Megasus from Providence, RI all work for Harmonix, the video game company behind Guitar Hero and Rock Band and i don't if that does their credibility any good or not but there you go. They did start off as a one-off project formed to contribute a track for Guitar Hero II but they have become a fully working band with a debut album out on 20 Buck Spin Records but this sounds like the type of record that Rise Above Records would normally put out. They have been given the Doom tag but this is closer to High On Fire than it is to Electric Wizard. It has a heavy layer of psychedelic influence, with sludgy guitars and mildly distorted vocals.The production reminds me of High On Fire’s Surrounded By Thieves, with a muddy guitar sound but drums sure pack a punch. At times the drums almost seem too loud in the mix and they tend to over-shadowed the riffs but that's just a minor detail. The album has got one problem and that is its inconsistency, when its good it is very good but there is a couple of weak tracks on here that really hurt the album seeing the whole thing is over in under 40 minutes. Having said that there is still a lot to like about this album which has a more modern sound and influences than a lot of other bands in the Doom/Stoner Rock scene.

The one thing that makes them a little different is they embrace the old subject matter from old classic metal like mythology, wizards etc. Maybe they spend a lot of time listening or reading Dio lyrics but the songs are total old school in the lyrical department but everything else sounds more modern. "Red Lottery" might be the best of the slower tracks sounding a little like a Pentagram track. The track "Megasus" is available for download in Rock Band and if you are going to name a song after your band it better be a good tune. Thankfully this track is indeed good, the song has some frenetic energy with drumming that is reminiscent of High On Fire’s Des Kensel, with drum rolls all over the place. "Paladin vs. Berserker" has a good metal groove, Guitarist Ryan Lesser and bassist Paul Lyons are mostly in step, but Lyons seems way higher in the mix which makes the sound un-balanced and add that to the loud crashing drums and it sounds a little messy in places.

"Ten Kingdoms" and "Hexes/Szaadek" are tracks that work pretty well and the performance of front-man Jason Kendall is at his peak during these two tracks. "Swords" and "Iron Mountain" come and go sounding like filler to me, not bad tracks at all but just a little aimless. The album was originally intended as a digital download but they did manage to find a company willing to press 200 copies of the album on vinyl. In conclusion, this not a album you will listen to everyday but there is enough good material on here for the occasional spin and the potential is there for better releases in the future. If you like a Doom sound that is played at faster than normal tempos for a so called Doom/Sludge/Stoner band, you may like this. At the end of the day, this left me a little confused. It’s a little too inconsistent of an album to be considered a classic, but the stronger tracks show that this is a band to keep tabs on. 7/10

Official Myspace

Dec 13, 2009

Black Wreath - A Pyre of Lost Dreams

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You could called Black Wreath a "super-group" keeping in mind the band consists of Kim Larsen, (ex-Saturnus, Of The Wand And The Moon and others), Blazing Eternity's vocalist Peter Mesnickow and Whelm's bassist Dave Miller. With such a line up, you would think Black Wreath knows its stuff as far as melodic Doom Death Funeral Doom is concerned and they do. But the band takes things a bit further into the dark realms of Funeral Doom and often delivers a powerful, depressing and heavy dose of sad Funeral Doom of some real quality.

The album is made of four tracks, the last one being the most ambient one. The three first are very long and extremely heavy, not so much in sound but in emotional depth.

The vocals shift from heavy growls to half spoken, half mumbled voice. It tops a thick layer of mournful guitars' lines, monotonous and yet with lyrical sounding guitar lines . Songs have a dark but tranquil vibe, the deeply sad moods the band slowly spews forth will get stuck on your mind. The production is a bit distant, which certainly is a good idea considering the type of atmosphere they are trying to get across but at times some of it seems to be lacking certain dynamics and stifles the some of the melodies. In some parts of the songs, there is some incredible tension that build and build but sadly there is no big endings which left me a little frustrated.

"The Black Holes of Your Mind" is the longest track at 15 minutes and is about as bleak as you can get. The vocals here shift between a narrative tone and crushing growls, but after nearly 6 minutes of this the guitars begin to stray elsewhere, the pace slows even further almost to the point of stopping completely. There is a acoustic guitar interlude that while sparse and predictable, hits hard emotionally speaking and creates a unexpected folk metal atmosphere. "Nocturnal Dominion" follows, and lacks much of the vibe of the first track. This is 13 minutes of deep, meandering, cavernous doom metal that crawls like some monolithic beast, the sound is broken up with some keyboards and chimes that adds something different to a track that i found largely dull even for a Funeral Doom track.

"Solitude Rising (Missing All Exits)" the third track is again very long, at 14 minutes, but at least manages to sound original but trying something different for a Funeral Doom band. There is some very somber riffs and experimental little, fluttering bells and guitar lines. "Nidstong" closes the album with nearly 8 minutes of minimal rainfall, and dark, low-end piano sounds. It might sound great in a movie soundtrack but here it just serves up a very mundane, boring way to finish a album. When its good this album is awesome but when its dull, its reach for a Tylenol time. Search out the good parts though and you will be rewarded, the rest is just too much of a trip into nothingness. 6/10

www.myspace.com/blackwreath

Yidhra - Promo EP

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Yidhra's 4 track promo ep is out and at only $5 it is a essential pick up for you doomsters who love traditional doom played with a sense of freshness. Even though they are playing a very traditional style of doom, the combination of a vocalist that doesn't really sound like anyone else and a rich full guitar sound with catchy riffs makes this ep irresistible. The CD opens with "The Lament Of Longinus" which some of you might have heard on the new Doom Metal Alliance sampler that is making the rounds at the moment. This song is in the vein of Saint Vitus at their very best, a slow intro section starts off the track in a haunting fashion before launching a huge riff. The guitar is thick but has a clean biting sound with the just right amount of fuzz. The track has a repetitive riff but at the halfway point in changes down a gear to a even slower tempo with some demented soloing that is twisted and eerie at the same time. The track then returns to the main riff to finish out the track. "Witch Queen" is up next, a Sabbath inspired doom riff kicks the track into pure doom and gloom atmosphere but the track really gets into gear when a the mid tempo section comes in. A stomping, head snapping power-metal riff to be sure but it shifts back and forth from that to total doom. The solo at around the 5 minute mark wails before they take it back to doomsville with that killer opening riff to round of a great track. "Ancient Ones" is more Saint Vitus style doom with a creeping riff line and spoken word type of singing before he returns to his bellowing vocals during the chorus. I really dig this dude's voice and like i mentioned before he somehow manages to sound original even though is vocal technique is a much used one. The guitar crunch is really on display on this track especially at 4 minutes into the song where there is a extra heavy emphasis on the guitar sound. Like all the tracks on here, production is real good and polished. Maybe the catchiest song on here is the last track "Conquest For Nova", the opening riff is instantly infectious and the rest of the song just grooves. Special mention must go again to the production and mix of this baby, everything is clear and powerful and even the drum sound pounds. A lot of drums tend to get buried in the mix of promo CD's but on here, they are right where they should be in the mix. The solo on "Conquest For Nova" is one of the highlights of the album, full of soaring melody and feeling. If they can get a sound like this on a promo EP, then a full length album should be on everyone's wanted list. I have heard dozens of promos this year and there has been some good ones and some shockers but this is the best promo released this year. In fact calling it a "promo" really doesn't do it justice, they are the best new band for 2009 in my opinion and that's a big call because this year has been a great year for doom but there is a freshness about this band that makes for repeated spins of the CD. Check them and this Ep out. 10/10

www.myspace.com/yidhra

Dark Trance - Beyond The Gates Of Insanity

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Dark Trance is a one man band created by Dmitry Gubsky who does everything and its true that this guy is quite decent instrumentalist and programmer but this where this review might get a bit ugly. The band is primarily known as a black metal or dark metal band but the problem i had with this CD is he inserts different styles into the mix and for the most part it didn't work for me. When it works which is not very often in my opinion, it is pretty good. "Shadows Of Spirits" is evidence it can work in small doses, its a good mix of black meets doom metal but elsewhere things seem a little disjointed. At times it sounds like Cradle Of Filth, at other times Marilyn Manson and then at other times it sounds total black metal. There is some elements of doom thrown in but its so mixed up with other genres and influences, it sounds confused and it makes it hard to get into a vibe. The overall sound is a industrial version of black metal, not something i would normally listen to but i am not going to slag off this album just for that as i am sure a lot of people will get something out of this album. Highlights for me are the title track "Beyond The Gates Of Insanity", "Dreams Are Hollow" and the previously mentioned "Shadows Of Spirits", elsewhere the album left me cold and bored. I will say this though, this is a huge improvement over the previous album "Ghosts in the Shells" which i didn't like at all. That album was once described as "black metal for Hot Topic shoppers" and i think that was a fair description. There is a hell of a lot more depth in the songs on this album and the overall production and sound has made giant leaps forward but it still leaves me wanting more. Maybe its the programmed sounds but the computerized, industrial sounds just do it for me and never has but check it out for yourself. Like the old saying goes "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" and i am sticking to that on this one. 5/10

www.myspace.com/darktranceband

Dec 11, 2009

Silver Devil Demo 2009

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Silver Devil is a great stoner/ desert rock band from Gävle/Söderhamn, in Sweden. The current line-up is Anders Lövstrand - vocals, Clas Andersson and Otto Molin on guitars, Erik Bergkvist- bass and Marcus Ström - drums. This is their second demo in a year or so and if the first demo tweaked your appetite then this new demo will do so even more. The first demo was great, no question about it but the new one sees the band sounding even more focused and precise. It is short and sweet but the three tracks all kick like the proverbial mule starting off with "Cactus Kicker" which has a good stomping stoner groove and their spaced out vocal sound. The thick warm fuzzy guitar sound sounds even more developed on this demo and also seems a little better produced. I mentioned in my last review for them that are coming from the Fu Manchu/Truckfighters school of stoner but the thing that sets them apart is the spacy vocal sound. They sound distant from the rest of the band which creates a other worldly effect. The second track "Control" is maybe the best example of this, along with the fuzzed out distorted riff that never stops its groovy swagger. The band play some intricate riffs for a stoner band but they are not short of some strong melodies either. Catchy yet powerful with a swirling psyched out sound that surrounds you, you must have this on CD however to fully appreciate the wall of sound they have. Unless you have giant speakers on your computer, you wont get the full effect listening to tracks straight off their Myspace page, it just doesn't do the songs justice. The third and final track "Lies" is a equally a sonic trip as the other two tracks, more great riffing, spaced out guitar sounds but without resorting to endless guitar effects. This is demo is similar to the first demo but this one seems to be slightly more original and it seems the band is really discovering their own sound. As a demo its a bit short, its all over in around 10 minutes but its a fun 10 minutes that shows a band that is ready to show the world that you don't have to live in the desert to play this music with real passion, skill and finesse. If there is ever a band that needs a full length album out in the stoner rock genre, it is this one. 10/10

www.myspace.com/silverdevilsweden

Dec 10, 2009

Yidhra, the Doom - Giver ( Interview With Dave K )

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Their Myspace reads "Heavy, doomy riffs in the tradition of doom, apocalypse, in universal space and time with undertones of the Cthulhu mythos and other dark themes, fact and fiction entwined", yes indeed !! Yidhra have been one of the highlights of 2009, a new band with a brand new demo/ep available through Black Eye Media and in 2010 things can only get better. This band gets my vote for best "new" band of the year, while the band plays a style done many times before, they have a freshness about them that cant be denied. Here is a interview with Dave from the band. Doom On !


1. Hello, thanks for the chance to do this interview. Why don't we start with the dude's in the band and their musical background.

Dave K. ~ guitar/ bk. vocals. Ted Venemann ~ vocals. Tom Harris~ bass. Craig Bradford ~ drums.

2. Lets talk doom, what is about doom metal that attracted you to the style ?

The heaviness, it's spooky and the tempo...slow and low, much heavier than fast stuff and since i'm such an old fucker it's just easier to play slow!!!! hahahaha

3. I have always thought of doom metal has to be the ultimate underdog in the metal scene and that gives it a certain mystique. Do you think doom metal would have the same appeal if it went mainstream ?

I'm sure it would be watered down crap....it's remained in the underground for more than 20 yrs. right? I mean the scene has grown, but compared to more 'popular' metal it's still in the underground.

4. The demo/ ep is now available, can you tell the readers about it ?

The ep. / demo was recorded out of sheer necessity...we need something for people to hear us, get gigs, the usual band stuff. and of course, in the recording process you want it to turn out as well as possible so it works in the band's favor.

5. Black Eye Media has signed up the band, how did that come about ?

Black Eye Media was already a 'myspace friend' so once the songs had been posted i started just randomly sending messages to people / other bands who i thought might like it. so that's what i did with B.E.M. and within a week of the songs being posted, they hit us up about working together and so far it's been pretty damn cool!!!

6. How has the live shows been for the band and what kind of response has the band been getting ?

The live response has been great. No one has thrown shit at us, no shouts of 'you suck!!' and ted puts on a good show, he's a great front man...active and captivating.

7. What about the name "Yidhra", who came up the idea for the name ?

The way Yidhra came to be, i was playing in 'crowned by fire' as second lead, I've been friends with john (the singer) for more than 10yrs but for some unknown reason i got booted but john told me he knew this dude who wanted to start a doom band. So i met this guy, grant story, he played guitar too and sang...long story short things looked like it could work out. I came up with some riffs, gave him some lyrics and we started the search for bass and drums. Oh, grant being a big h.p. lovecraft fan came across the name Yidhra, basically it means the queen of witches, the witch of all witches...hence the song 'witchqueen'. Anyway, after long search for drummers we settled on this dude Johnny Tsunami and got Tom on bass. After 5 rehersals we did our first gig. The live video on our myspace site is from that 1st show. Unfortunately Johnny had to quit, he had to move to texas for work and this happened within 2 days of that 1st show. 2 weeks later we found Bradley James Dio (who is on the ep.), so we made plans for regular scheduled rehearsals. Within 2 more weeks Grant got in a horrible car accident and became paralyzed from the neck down, really fucked up!! So everything was put on hold. I kinda didn't know what to do...keep it going? change the name? what? so tom and i talked, decided to keep it going and keep the name...i have known Ted for more than 20yrs and had been in another band with him, well aware of his capabilities. So i hit him up, at least stand in as vocalist til we found a permanent guy. Things went well, he was having fun and decided to join as a 'band member'. We did bunch of shows, good response...so far so good, though we did loose Bradley on drums after the recording. He had to leave due to family issues, fortunately Craig became available, we (Ted and I) had jammed with Craig before so we hit him up. and it worked out too...we've had about 4 or 5 rehearsals with him and it sounds great. A great addition, very powerful!!

8. What songs are in your live set apart from the songs on the ep ?

This is kinda funny...with all the crazy drama, everyone's weird schedule the writing process has been very slow. I write all the 'music' and i play or try to play my guitar every day, so i come up with shit all the time but i don't like overloading myself if we can't work on the ideas as a band, to get to the point we only have 5 or 6 songs, hahahaha...the 4 on the ep., 1 more that wasn't recorded and 1 that i'm kinda re-working. hahahahaha....and ideas for at least 3 or 4 more. and since most gigs set time is about a half hour, 4 to 5 songs is plenty.

9. The band has a pretty much traditional doom metal style, who does Yidhra rate as being the main influences ?

Honestly, i grew up playing punk rock in the early 80's. When the whole British new wave of heavy metal hit, bands like Motorhead and Venom fitted right in. Discovered Metallica on a late night radio show coming home from a Dead Kennedys gig, found bands like Celtic Frost, Slayer, you know...shit just started crossing over and blending together. Seeing Saint Vitus with Black Flag in the early days doom was just another part of the 'heavy' shit....so to me there really wasn't a separation of genres. As time has gone on and the development of bands i think the categorizing of 'types' has become more apparent, but that's just my opinion. So when it comes to DOOM and what i'm writing i just draw on my natural abilities and what i would like to hear...heavy dark simple catchy stuff. Some people may be put off by the words 'simple' and 'catchy', but i truly believe you must have SONGS!!! You can be the heaviest evil-ist shit but if put together in a crappy way it's gonna be crap!!! Just cuz some dude can shred the fuck out of a solo or play a million notes a second doesn't mean he can write a cohesive song. Again that's just my opinion and how i approach playing guitar.

10. Is there any plans for a full length album in 2010 ?

Sure, we hope to!!

11. In the time the band has been together, what has the been the highlight so far ?

We had the chance to record a song with Bill Metoyer. He recorded all the early metal blade stuff, the first 3 Slayer albums, all the early Trouble, Armored saint, just a ton of stuff!! We recorded 'conquest of nova' with him...it's the 4th song on the ep and of course doing this interview means things have been picking up lately...ever since we got the ep done which has been the last 3 or 4 months.

12. Do you want the give the readers the info on how to get a copy of the ep ?

Well, they can contact us on myspace, www.myspace.com/yidhra and we will be putting up paypal soon, they can go through Black Eye Media also. I'm sure at some point we'll be on itunes. Just do a friend request on myspace and everyone will be updated as things progress...shit, they can even reach us through Earthdog Promotions, right?

13.Yes they can indeed, what is the doom scene like in Los Angeles at the moment, i heard recently its pretty dead which i found a bit surprising.

The music scene in general sucks in L.A, very few places to play but the people who we have come across that are involved in the scene, the bands, the hardcore fans have been great!!! We do the best we can with what is available to us.

14. The band has had some airplay on internet radio in the US. Has there been any airplay in overseas countries ?

We've sent a couple discs overseas so we'll see what happens, we would love to go play some festivals of course!! Hell yeah...fingers crossed!!

15. Any plans for Christmas and New Years celebrations ?

I'm sure each of us will spend time with our families.

16. OK thanks again for the interview, any final words ?

Spread the word of YIDHRA!!! DOOM!!! We all hope you dig it, we appreciate the fans, we appreciate all the help and kind words!!! thanks ~ Dave K. ~ Yidhra

www.myspace.com/yidhra

Cortisol - Meat

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Cortisol's "Meat" came out nearly 4 years ago but its only now that its getting noticed by doom, sludge and drone fans. I have only discovered the band myself a few months ago but after searching the Internet for information on the band and coming up with very little, i thought its about time this album got some much overdue attention. This album is not for the weak stomach or for the timid doom metal listener, this is some sick, crushing noise that at times is closer to drone than sludge or doom. There is only 4 songs on here ranging from 7 to 16 minutes in length and listening to these songs is a slow, almost painful experience that only the most hardcore doom fan would appreciate. The guitar/ bass and drum sound you have heard all before but its the vocals that are the real stumbling block to get over with this CD. They range from black metal style shrieks, blood curdling growls, tortured screams but they are mixed so far in the background it produces a truly terrifying effect at times. They can be compared to Mike Williams from Eyehategod but the way it is mixed makes it sound even more harsh and threatening. Its a hard listening to this at times, the songs are so drawn out it can be a excruciating experience getting from one track to the next. Don't know anything about the lyrics, the album came with no lyric sheet and it is impossible to decipher anything this dude is singing about and i use the term "singing" loosely but the distorted guitar sound does fit in well with the vocals (whatever he is going on about).
Even though there is four different tracks on here, they all sound similar and so much so that it could just one long 45 minute track. There is no such thing as variety, no light or shade, it just sheer crushing brutality. There is also no breaks in the sound, if a guitar riff stops then the noise will be replaced by the vocals and vice-versa. The feedback-laden guitar riffs do drag at times however and even though i generally enjoy most of these type of bands, this one is a tough one to get through. It is a real skill to make a album like this and keep it interesting but this band is lacking in such skill to my ears. The urge to skip half a track is something that is hard to avoid with songs like this especially in the 16 minute title track. Musically they don't do anything that hasn't been done better by other bands but they are so crushing, it still makes for a good album. The thing that the band has going for them is the vocals that are at the same time are grotesque but also very well done. A lot of thought has gone into how the vocals have been mixed with this album giving it a unique edge even though there is nothing original with the actual musical content. This is a album that you will love or hate or may just leave you somewhat confused which is where i stand. This is a album where i will have to be in a certain mood to fully appreciate but they are a band that deserves to be recognized a lot more than they currently are. 7/10

Cortisol @ MySpace

Dec 9, 2009

Raventale - Mortal Aspirations


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Raventale is a one-man project featuring "Den of Winter" guitarist Astaroth. This album is being advertised as the band’s transformation from depressive black/pagan metal to black doom metal. Interesting way to promote the band as it is still half black metal to me, adding a few slower riffs and some extra keys doesn't make you a doom band all of a sudden but anyway this is still a great album despite the mis-leading promotion.

I must stress however this ain't no traditional black metal album so just beware black metal heads, this album is way more diverse than that. The album starts off very doom with a haunting goth/doom sound using keys before it explodes into typical bombastic black metal style. The track is called "The Fall Of The Mortal Aspirations" and is a great attempt at making something heavy and dramatic using keys but avoiding sounding like just another goth/black/doom hybrid. The sound from that out-set is real powerful and is really highlighted on the excellent "My Birds Of Misfortune" which has everything from metallic chugging riffing which got me sucked right away, the track features some breath-taking musical interludes that mellow things out a bit but doesn't sound distracting or out of place. This is one heavy track that also features some strong melody lines and like most of the album, the arrangement is faultless.

Raventale gained significant notoriety for their first record and its portrayal of the nature inspired lyrical themes and still a lot of themes remained with this album. One thing that has changed though is the use of English texts which will make a lot of us happy as the lyrics are beautifully written. "A Fading Scent Of Cinnamon And The Naked" once again includes a lot of somber emotive sections but all bundled with some catchy but real crunchy guitar sounds. Astaroth clearly shows he has high standards of musicianship, song writing and diversity and while this album sounds a lot cleaner than the first album from them, it actually benefits the bands style perfectly. The the rasping vocals of Astaroth is what gives the songs the black metal edge but this album is diverse enough and has so many strong and sometimes beautiful melodies, it can appeal to a wide section of metal fans who like metal that is powerful emotionally as well as musically. The album is interspersed with instrumentals, most of which are so short that they blend in with the following track so they sound like a integral part of the album. The next major highlight for me is track 8 "Suicide As The Destined End", this track reeks of sorrow and sadness and is the most funeral doom sounding track on the album.

The epic sounding track on the album and once again, beautifully constructed and playing. It has a almost symphonic metal vibe to it towards the end of the track, this is a black/doom sound that can make you cry if you let it. A note for fans of the first album from this band, the sound has distinctly changed as well as the style and the shaping of the production around the music has been molded in a different light to the previous efforts, which was a little monotonous on occasions, this has a epic symphonic sound driven by sorrow and sadness while retaining some viscous metallic crunch in places. Hard album to categorize, some doom fans will say not doom enough, some black metal fans will see it as a sell-out which its not at all in my opinion. Hell, i was ready to tear this album apart before listening to it but i was instantly was drawn in by the excellent musicianship and the intense emotional pull that this album has, great album. 9.5/10

Raventale Myspace
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