Jan 31, 2010

Las Cruces - Dusk

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The new album by Las Cruces has a long and complicated story behind it, for starters it has been a incredible long wait for this album, its been 12 years since they released their last album, the classic "Ringmaster". On top of that, this recording for this album was finished over 2 years ago, the singer on the album also left the band around the same time. "Dusk" also includes 3 tracks from a EP recorded 9 years ago so what you get here is a real mixed bag of a album. Las Cruces has always been one of the most under-appreciated bands in the scene however so its great that the album is finally here. So how does this album compare with the excellent "Ringmaster" album of 12 years ago. The first thing that becomes clear is the overall sound is very different, gone is the clear big production of "Ringmaster". This album has a muddy guitar sound but it is still real heavy but the guitar sounds buried in the mix at times. This is a disappointment at first but that feeling doesn't last long as this is still a cool, strong album of mostly mid-tempo doom tunes. First track up is "Wizard" and its a great track that switches back and forth between lumbering doom parts and mid tempo headbanging sections. The musicianship has made a noticeable improvement even though they were great muso's before but now the riffing seems to be more precise than ever before. The rhythm section of the band is what stands out in the mix while the guitar work sits more in the background of the bands sound. The bass is particularly thunderous on the album along with the drums. Next track up is "Revelations" which is another mid-tempo old school doom rocker, once again the buried guitar work is a bit of a let-down but all is forgiven when you hear the shredding solos that fly out of the speakers. Mixed way louder and up-front than anything else, they slice off your head with some real energetic muster. Its all about groove and this album is not lacking in that department at all, every track has doom laden groove stamped all over it and "Revelations" is one of the highlights. "Cocaine Wizard Woman" has a southern blues feel played with a doom metal vibe, a lot of bands try their hand at this style and most miss the mark but Las Cruces nail it in this song, the lyrics are also a real enjoyable listen. "Burning Bright" has a 70's boogie rock vibe to it even though its played with a total metal attitude. "Wings of Gold" continues the mid-tempo chugging along, for some reason one cant help but think of Death Row era Pentagram when listening to this track. "Banished" was originally recorded for the "Lowest End EP" from 2001 and its one of the most doom ridden tracks on the album. Its a lot more bottom heavy than the other tracks on the album and is a definitive doom track on "Dusk". The track is Las Cruces at their best and most powerful. Title track "Dusk" makes a appearance next and is pretty good but the buried guitar hurts the overall vibe of the song but it is still pretty solid. "Farewell" is another track from the 2001 EP and is a welcome addition to the album but the next track "The Level" is the odd track on the album given its death metal vocal gargle. While its a alright track by itself, it doesn't sit well with the rest of the material on the album. "Roll of the Die" features some killer bass lines before exploding into a monster riff but not in a doom metal kind of way. The riff sounds like something from the grunge era only dirtier than anything to come out of that era. "Killing Fields" is a masterpiece of sinister metal, it has a simple but a very effective punishing riff. The final track "Grin" is also another track from the 2001 EP and has a catchy as hell chorus and more solid metal mastery. "Dusk" is a welcome return from Las Cruces despite the odd production and strange mix, when the songs are this good you can get past the production problems with no problems. The production of "Dusk" may not be as clean as that of "Ringmaster" but it does nothing to take away from the quality and power of the songs contained within. This is another album that will be high up on peoples list for best albums for 2010 so you will want to check it out as soon as possible. 9/10


Jan 28, 2010

Asteroid - Asteroid II

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This is my last review for a few days as i need some time to sit back and soak in all this great music that has come by way in the last couple of weeks. Its been a hell of a way to kick off 2010 and here is another potential classic, the brand new album from Sweden's Asteroid. The cool thing about the first Asteroid album was it was a album you could groove out to at any time of the day or night regardless of the mood you was in. The music was catchy but with enough fuzz and powerful grooves to rock out to but you can also just kick back and let the music wash over you. The new album simply entitled "II" is even more infectious and like the first album has been released on the Fuzzorama Records label. All the Asteroid trademarks from the first album are still there, fuzzy guitar sounds, 70's prog meets psyche rock influences and harmonies that have become a major part of the bands sound. "Garden" is a great opener to the album but by the second track "Disappear" you are truly hooked by their use of irresistible vocal parts, this is stoner rock you can actually sing to as the vocal lines automatically get stuck in your head. Asteroid play a relaxing form of fuzz rock and that is ever present in the third track "Karma" that rocks out just as much as it relaxes you into a sense of warm euphoria. Just like the first album the guitar work of Robin Hirse leads the way and is the most dominant in the mix with Johannes Nilsson on bass and Elvis Campbell on drums providing the perfect backbone to Hirse's free flowing jamming style. "Edge" is classic fuzz rock played in a way that has become a signature sound for stoner bands from Sweden and that leads effortlessly into "River" where the music takes on a more moody atmosphere. The album gets a more spaced out vibe from here on in but is also slightly heavier compared to the first half of the album. The band has always been pretty straight forward in terms of arranging songs but the second of "II" they indulge themselves by diving into experimentation of the 70's space rock kind while retaining the irresistible grooves. The next track "Lady" brings the band's 70's influences to the fore with some stunning prog rock vocal and guitar work which joins up with the next track "Towers". The last three songs blend together like a extended musical suite and if you are not paying attention, you would swear you just listen to one long song. The next song "Fire" is one of the strongest songs on the album, a total rocker from start to finish. If there was one track that sums up the sound of Asteroid its "Fire", they did songs like this on the first album and i can imagine them always doing it, its Asteroid at their best and the style they are most at home with. Like all good albums they leave the longest track for last and it is the excellent "Time". This is the most organic sounding jam song on the album, it also has a very spontaneous vibe to it adding to the feeling you are listening to a live jam that hasn't been over-rehearsed one little bit. The album is over in a very quick 44 minutes and it is a very engaging album all the way through, like the first album i think this will be a grower of a album. I just hope people catch onto the album a little quicker than the first time around, i cant find much to dislike about "II", so check it out. 9/10

Asteroid @ MySpace

Jan 27, 2010

Centurions Ghost - Blessed And Cursed In Equal Measure

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First up, i have to give big thanks to Tony for getting this CD to me so quickly for this early review. Do you ever get a CD in your hands and already get that feeling you are going to be blown away by something really special, that is what happened here with the new and third album by Centurions Ghost. One look at the exceptional artwork and you get that immediate doom vibe and within seconds of the opening track "Powerful Sense Of Dread" the scene is set for a barrage of heavy laden monolithic doom metal. A little personal CG listening history from me, the first album "A Sign of Things to Come" in my opinion was a monster of a album, underrated by many but still a favorite among a lot of the doom metal community. The second album "The Great Work" didn't hit quite the same but became a grower of a album and in time became another favorite. That brings us to the third album from the band in 5 years "Blessed & Cursed In Equal Measure". I have been waiting for what seemed like a eternity for this album to come out but at last its here in all its unadulterated down-tuned glory. 2010 has already seen some real solid releases and this is another one, no filler or moments for your mind to wander, this is a beast from start to finish. Forget about track by track descriptions here, no need for it as every track, in fact every minute of this album is classic doom for the insane. Centurions Ghost do play some elements of traditional doom but its in a twisted form much like bands like Iron Monkey but at the same time they have some mid-tempo sludge riffery like Crowbar. This combination is a brutal one and this time around the band has taken it one step further by adding a slight progressive edge to their songs given them new depth and in a way even more of a bleak sound. There is crushing riffing crashing into more traditional blues runs and its also mixed with a more aggressive tone both musically and vocally. To top that off, the sound overdoses you on the ooze of distortion and punishing bass tones. Its almost impossible to pick favorite tracks but "Wizard Of Edge" knocks you on the floor and holds you there to the last second. The album closer "Temple" is a unforgettable piece of creepy spaced out doom and "Hyena Circle" maybe is one of the greatest stoner doom tracks ever written but every track is a masterpiece of pulsating doom. What stands out is Centurions Ghost technique of avoiding the standard extended doom jamming style that so many bands indulge in. On "Blessed & Cursed In Equal Measure" the band keeps the listener guessing on whats going to happen next and therefore the album goes beyond any pre-conceived expectations. Its true the songs are of a "epic nature" but never are they boring and they have successfully married the sounds of classic dark metal partially from the early 80's with modern day doom excesses. If there is a heavier band from the UK at the moment, i would love to hear them and with older bands like Electric Wizard officially stuck in neutral it is great to know there is albums like this that can still floor you. Essential.......10/10

CG at MySpace.com

Jan 26, 2010

Virulence – If This Isn’t a Dream… 1985-1989

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Anybody wondering why punk rock is often mentioned as a influence on the whole stoner/desert rock might want to check out this new compilation of rare Virulence recordings made available by Southern Lord Records. Virulence made their mark right at the end of the golden era of West Coast punk rock, they left it a little late to mark any real impact but the tunes on this disc show they could have been a force in the scene if things were timed differently. The main interest in the band is they are the beginnings of what was to become "Fu Manchu". The band was made up of Scott Hill, Greg McCaughey and Mark Abshire and Ruben Romano who went on to play in Nebula. The band also had on vocals, Ken Pucci who now has a new group with Abshire called "No More Saints". So is this some early version of what was to become stoner rock ? The answer would be no but there is still hints of what was to happen especially in the guitar department, the hardcore sound they make is heavily influenced by "Black Flag" but with thicker, more crunchy guitars that would later be the focal point of "Fu Manchu's" sound. If This Isn’t a Dream… 1985-1989 contains 20 songs in total both studio and live with the studio material having a "very much" demo quality about it. The live recordings are much rawer and come across as being much closer to the real sound of the band. The studio tracks were recorded in 85, 86 and 1988 with the 1988 tracks being the strongest of the bunch. The live material comes from shows recorded in 87 and 89 and show the potential the band had plus some of the 70's rock tendencies they would later explore in great depth with Fu Manchu and Nebula. The disc as it goes on travels backwards in time rather than forward and with it the sound and songs become more primitive. If This Isn't a Dream... in 1988, which was originally going to be released on Alchemy Records but it is a odd album for its time. They mix "Black Flag" hardcore with crossover thrash metal and sludgy Black Sabbath like doom parts. So was it worth the effort to unearthed this stuff, the short answer is no but it will be of interest to Fu Manchu freaks and collectors of obscure 80's punk crossover bands but that's about it. The problem is the songs and playing are over-simplistic and the rough edges the musicians had unfortunately is highlighted on every track especially the live material where things get downright sloppy at times. This is a element of rough-edged doom at times so fans of the first Saint Vitus might find something to enjoy but its still largely just one for the collectors out there. Apart from some of the fuzzy guitar sounds there is not much for desert rockers out there either but it is further proof of what a impact the west coast punk/hardcore rock of the 80's had on the whole stoner scene. There is only one track on here i would ever get the urge to listen to again and that is the 9 minute "The Curse", a song which shows some real potential. Sometimes some recordings should stay locked away and unfortunately this is one of them. The only real interest here for me are in liner notes where Scott Hill discusses their innocent beginnings in the music business. 4/10

The Resurrection Sorrow - Hour of the Wolf

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The Resurrection Sorrow started out as a project formed by vocalist Alex Dementia (ex After Dark) and bassist/guitarist Alex Coelho (Tides Within, ex-Malstrom), they were soon joined by drummer Louie Gasparro (Supervillain, Murphy’s Law, Blitzspeer). They kept it as a three piece for a few months before Zak Gross as lead guitarist, his ability as a great guitar player soon made Coelho focus on playing bass. In January of 2009 they teamed up with NYC engineer Joe Hogan who has worked with the likes of Nebula and The Atomic Bitchwax and began work on what would become "Hour Of The Wolf". I went into the review for this album totally fresh meaning not really knowing what to expect. What i got was a balls out hard rock album that is not original at all but covers a wide spectrum of influences or it seems that way. The first band i thought of when hearing the opening two tracks "Resurrect the Sorrow" and "Unholy Divine" is Corrosion Of Conformity" mainly due to Alex Dementia's striking similarity to Peeper Keenan but there is many other bands that spring to mind. The sounds of Kyuss, White Zombie, Crowbar, Black Label Society, High On Fire and even Danzig all get thrown into the Resurrection Sorrow's melting pot with pleasing results. The band has some dirty, sometimes muddy riffs with its fair share of darkness attached but there is also a strong commercial appeal to some of their songs that wouldn't sound out of place on some mainstream rock radio stations. Its not too easy to take what is basically "stoner metal" and make it assessable but for the most part, The Resurrection Sorrow have done just that.
There is some great tracks on "Hour Of The Wolf" with nothing that would be considered filler material. The opening track "Resurrect The Sorrow" is a fantastic swampy swaggering metal thump-er with a great chunky guitar tone from Zak Gross. Once the vocals come in however, the song takes on a different feeling all together however. "Unholy Divine" comes along next and by this stage you will be noticing the solid heavy hitting drum work from Louie Gasparro. "Shadow of a Vampire" is a monster leaping out of the speakers mixing doom with a early 80's bay area thrash metal sound. "Plague of the Dying Sun" is a slower more sludge filled number that sounds strangely like a radio friendly version of Crowbar but it works. "Bloodshot Eyes n’ Soul" is a punishing chunk of metal and "Supernatural Suffocation" sounds like Megadeth meets Down. "Undermyskin" has a hard time getting into any sort of groove but once it does, the result is a powerful one with great riffing. The other track on here is "Soul of the Soulless" which picks up the pace on the album at a time when its really needed. Some people will find this album a little too familiar with the influences being highlighted so clearly but the raw passion to which the music is played shines through on every tune. There is a couple of times where the band gets dangerously close to the commercial cliff-edge like in "Buried Dreams" and that will turn some people off the album which is a shame because this is still a mostly kick ass CD. Like it proudly states on their Myspace page "the wheel is not being reinvented here—it’s being reinforced" and bands like this are out to prove you can still rock out with some trace of commercial appeal. With a sound that stretches from classic 70's rock to grunge to hardcore to stoner metal to mainstream hard rock, they wont appeal to everyone but there is no doubt "Hour Of The Wolf" does rock. 8/10


Jan 25, 2010

Whitebuzz - Book Of Whyte

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I could make this the shortest review in history by saying if you have heard Om then you have heard White Buzz but it wouldn't be fair on this Hannover trio because most of this album is irresistibly multi-dimensional and interesting but its also fair to say if you don't like Om, then stay clear of this band. The album contains 4 tracks and one untitled track spanning over 70 minutes that at times could be considered very tedious depending on your tastes for this style of cerebral music. White Buzz take the sludge elements of bands like Eyehategod and the chanting vocal style of Om to create extremely long psychedelic journeys into minimalistic sounds while still sounding multi-dimensional.
Its is interesting to note the reactions this album has got from the underground media, a lot of it is just plain viscous insults about the bands music while others have given high praise to the band. It is however refreshing to see the band has posted both points of view on their Myspace blog, not many bands are so open about such criticism's. My take on the band is more good than bad, i like the way they combine the stoner doom of bands like Sleep, the extended spacey attitude of a modern day Pink Floyd and the hypnotic qualities of Om to make these trippy jammy monoliths. The opening track "Pentaprisma" crawls out of the box with only a few riffs in the entire 15 minutes, its melancholic, psychedelic but also has some pretty dense heavy moments. The length of the track is its biggest enemy however because there is not much in the way of musical ideas to warrant a song that is so long. The rest of the album follows the same path but the songs are better, the 16-minute “A Journey through the Orchestral Labyrinth of the Wide Plateau" is the most Om-like track on the album but is also one of the best. Great guitar work from guitarist/vocalist Cris is subtle at times but the feeling the song gives off is relaxing just as much as it is a source of hypnotic heaviness, passages from the song could have been on Pink Floyd's "A Saucerful Of Secrets" album.

The 19 minutes and 28 seconds of "The Return of Phoenix" is the hardest track to sit through, it takes itself really seriously in its real slow and doomy intent even though you have to wait a good 5 minutes before the track actually starts to cook. The track basically has a Om meets Sleep approach but once again if have a hyper-activity disorder this track will have you pulling your hair out in restless frustration. "Antipocalypse" is basically 12 minutes of more riffs stolen from Sleep but done extremely well and if you ever actually get this far into the CD you will be rewarded for doing this as this the most straight-forward track on "Book Of Whyte" and therefore in a funny way is a welcome break from the oppressive nature of most of the music. The untitled track is hypnotic rhythm sounds for 5 minutes that really serves no purpose at all within the context of the album.
Despite the fact the album contains 4 real songs, it really could have been just one long concept piece a-la Sleep's Dopesmoker or it also could have been broken up into 3 or 4 Ep's to be made more digestible by the average doom fan. There is a lot to like about White Buzz, the guitar sounds are great as they move from the psychedelic to the real heavy and back again with effortless ease. The production is top-notch and has a nicely packaged layout. Musically the whole album is the same, it sounds a bit like Sleep but not as heavy and a bit like Om but not as artistic. Just super-long desert stoner doom jams, yep its not original but i like it anyway. 8/10


Seamount - Light II Truth

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Seamount is known as a traditional doom metal band from Germany, influenced by Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus and Revelation( or so everyone says,i don't hear it much myself anymore) with a large amount of classic rock and new wave of British heavy metal influence as well. They have four extremely talented musicians plus on vocals, none other than Phil Swanson who has worked with numerous bands with the most well known ones being Upwards Of Endtime, Atlantean Kodex and Hour Of 13. Their debut album released in 2008 was a instant classic album full of insanely catchy riffs and memorable songwriting so it was always going to be a hard album to beat and personally i feel "Light II Truth" is a little weak in certain areas compared with the classic debut album. However there is still some good tunes to be had on the album and seeing as the album clocks in at 75 minutes, you have plenty to choose from. The first thing to grab your attention is the package itself, brilliant album artwork with a 28 page booklet full with lyrics and paintings. They are also on Church Within Records which means they have joined forces with some of the greatest bands on the planet. The opening track "Out of the Dark" is a killer slab of doom meets rock and roll with a cool riff and haunting wailing lead guitar work. The guitar duo of Tim Schmidt and Andy Kummer are on fire and Swanson's slight Ozzy style of vocals compliment the music perfectly. They are not nearly as doom as you might think though, second track "Together Wear the Cross" is pretty much standard rock music and is actually rather commercial sounding. By the time you get to the third track "Honey Flower" you soon get the picture, Seamount are not a doom metal band at all, just a really good hard rock band. The musicianship is faultless, classy, precise and with loads of feeling but the guitar sound is a little too thin and clean for my tastes. "The Paradise" is one of the darker tracks on offer here but finishes up sounding like a extended interlude more than a actual song.

"Vampyropoda" gets pretty close to doom metal as we know it with a very Candlemass sounding type of riff and has a epic atmosphere despite not being a very long track at all. "That Witch" leaves you confused at first, almost sounding like something off a Foreigner or a Boston record but all is forgiven pretty quickly when the track begins to rock out in early 80's heavy metal fashion. The final track on the album is a 9 minute epic called "Into the Light" and is the strangest yet most original track on the album. It has a guitar line i am sure you have heard before but i bet you wont be able to figure out where but the entire album has that vibe. The rest of the album left me cold to be honest about it, i loved the debut but this album seems to be full of more filler than killer. The playing is great, no doubt about that. The production is alright too but the guitar tones lack a bit of power for my liking, the bass and drumming is delivered with passion, quality and finesse. Where the album falls down for me is the lack of catchy riffs, there is nothing on this album to compete with "Sleeping Wizard" from the first album for example. The other problem is it is just too long with too many songs that don't stick in your memory. The urge to hit the skip comes up quite often but to be fair if you took the best tracks on here and made it into one album, then you would have something really solid. They also seem to get the "doom" tag still which is a little mis-leading as i don't hear many doom elements at all on Light and Truth but judging it on what it is, i will say at least half this album is great rock music. Make up your own mind with this one...6/10

Seamount Myspace page

Jan 24, 2010

Longing for Dawn - Between Elation and Despair

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This is the third album from Canada's Longing for Dawn and it is a heavy dose of funeral doom with ambient ingredients that is not like much else out there in the doom scene. What makes this different is the use of electronics that are used in a very effective manner by guitarist Frederic Arbour. The guy has two dark ambient projects of his own and on here he demonstrates how industrialized electronics can blend with crushing funeral doom to form a incredibly cold atmosphere which only enhances the bleakness of a musical genre that is largely one-dimensional. Interesting to note that this album has appeared on many top 10 doom lists of 2009 and yet somehow this band never gets discussed much on webzines and forums. I got this album late last year so it missed out on my being in my top list but if i had have got it earlier it would have certainly made a appearance because this is a pretty good album indeed. The album is made of 4 really long tracks that are rich in dark ambiance and icy melodies. The vocals of Stefan Laroche are a very deep and bellowing roar that we have all heard before in funeral doom but he somehow manages to sound fresh and unique. He mixes his roar with spoken word sections that adds to the ambiance and this gives the band a original edge. Opener "Our Symbolic Burial" opens with a lengthy ambient buildup before launching into plodding heaviness but with clean vocals before moving into total death/doom mode. The song has a surreal quality to it with a good use of space between the musical sections that highlights the albums gloomy yet melodic approach to funeral doom. Its a solid piece of work but the album actually gets even more impressive when the second track "A Sunrise at Your Feet" kicks off. This might be considered the most depressing track on the album, based around Arbour’s minimal guitar melodies and Francois Fortin's hypnotic drumming style. Even though the track weighs in at over 11 minutes, time flies by keeping the track involving and interesting by the use of electronic elements. The next track "Reflective" is right up there too with a suffocating bleak sound, some albums like this can be too heavy in mood to take in all in one sitting but the music on "Between Elation And Despair" actually draws the listener in and puts you in a trance-like state. The weakest track is the last one, The Piscean Dawn" and its a 16 minute source of aural punishment that is too long for its own good. Not a bad track by any means, its just i found it a real hard track to get through as by the 10 minute mark the mournful melodies get a bit exhausting to the ear. If there is a weakness to the band it would be the bass and drumming that while its competent, for the most part they don't add much to the actual songs. The strong point to the album though is the above average songwriting, the shifts between tranquility and short doses of aggression keep it interesting and captivating for the most part. This is one of those doom "sleepers" of 2009 that is worth hunting down if you can find a copy, i have heard it is a hard one to find. Longing For Dawn do bring something a little new to the table of doom and for that reason they must be applauded. 8/10

Longing for Dawn @ MySpace

Jan 22, 2010

Bring Me The Head Of Orion - Courting Leviathan

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Bring Me The Head Of Orion is a drone doom outfit from Austin, Texas who have already released demo's, been involved in a split album with Syncope and have appeared on some compilation albums so they have already had a productive recording career. This album is called "Courting Leviathan" and is released via Australia's Black Drone label. You may love or hate drone but either way its hear to stay and this one of the better releases in the genre. This has all the usual droning trademarks, extended humming and buzzing tones, a crushing bleak atmosphere and repetitive guitar and bass lines but this album is blacker than most. Obvious comparisons go out to Sunn O))) especially the Black One era and while drone is very limited sound wise, Bring Me The Head Of Orion take it about as far as the style can go given the confined limitations of this genre of music. Two epics "Courting Leviathan" and "For He Was Many" take up the bulk of the disc, both these tracks run over 20 minutes and there is two shorter tracks that begin and end the album. All the tracks follow the same path of droniness, long ringing chords that buzz and hum, no drumming or vocals, just a overwhelming sense of tension and controlled contemplative pensive awareness. Best track or the most easily listening track for the want of a better term would be "For He Was Many" which seems to have the most varied sound textures, not quite as monotonous as the other tracks. There is enough "brown noise" to please the hardcore drone fan but the sustained tones don't seem to have much purpose as there is not much in the way of song building. Very hypnotic for the most part, this album does have a mesmerizing quality about it but its definitive mood music to listen to in a darkened room alone. I feel at the moment, drone is stuck in a rut, the glory days of Sunn 0))) are over even though their recent material has been good, its just the experimentation side of the genre has hit a brick wall with the style just going around in circles. At least this album is very listenable but it is not ground breaking in any way, just solid drone done with a large amount of blackness inserted into it. If you don't like drone then you will hate this, if you want riffs and lots of them then avoid this but if you are a hardened drone listener, then you will enjoy this album by Bring Me The Head Of Orion. Its only been made in limited quantities however so be quick if you want to grab a copy. 7/10


Jan 21, 2010

Wiht - S/T EP

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Wiht is a young band from Leeds in the UK and in case you are wondering Wiht translated means witch. Members of the band are Chris Wayper on guitar, Joe Hall on bass and Rick Contini on drums. The amazing thing about this new band is they only started jamming together in October 2009 and yet in such a short time have recorded a remarkable 3 track EP. There is two 16 minute tracks with a 9 minute track sandwiched in the middle so you get good value for your doom dollar here. From the sounds on the EP you can hear all the influences but they are wide and varied within the doom spectrum from Sleep, Weedeater, Electric Wizard to Boris, Sunn 0))) to Ufomammut. The first track "Into Ruin" starts off with a very Sleepish holy mountain era riff that serves as the backbone for the entire track but rather than just being repetitive, the track has a natural progression that keeps envovling keeping it interesting. It moves from plodding doom to spacey psychedelic sounds that produce a atmospheric vibe, there is what they call these days "shoegazeing parts". I would love to know where that term came from but it sounds right. The song builds up tension from the 10 minute mark onwards and there is no vocals but bands like these don't really need them. "Into The Ruins" comes to a quiet conclusion rather than doing a big crescendo ending, this band isn't predictable in that sense at all. "Vasta" has a chaotic beginning with crashing drums and a powerful riff before taking a stoner groove direction. There is more other worldly sounds that vibrate and generate a sometimes haunting sound but it is all interwoven by a strong stoner doom rhythm. A quieter almost Pink Floyd sounding section is follow by a mid-tempo thumping riff and its all held together by a great warm and rich bass sound. When the band slows right now they avoid the usual down tuned doom riffing and go for a more space rock ambient sound which sets them apart from most other bands. The track between these two is "And The Thunder Rolls" and is my favorite of the EP but only just because all three tracks are real good. The track gets off to a headbanging start before taking you on a almost jammy cosmic adventure. I say almost because the band is real tight but there is also a live feeling about this and "And The Thunder Rolls" is a perfect vehicle for this kind of music. The great element within this EP is the variety, the light and shade and the dynamic sound the band has. This band will get the "doom tag" from most people but they are really more of a space rock meets 70's hard rock/psyche rock band and that is not a bad thing at all. There is a couple of stand-out points about this debut EP, first one is the mind-blowing production and the second is the incredible talent of the players. In both cases its a winning formula that should get them not only great reviews but should generate some interest from promoters. This band would go down real well at Roadburn, i can see them now jamming out a 2 hour set backed up by a trippy light-show. The lack of a vocalist might throw some people but personally i think they are a band that can live without one. If they do decide to get a vocalist in the future, i hope they choose wisely because they wouldn't want to mess with the natural chemistry they already have. You can download this EP for free so what are waiting for, check their page for details. 9/10


Jan 20, 2010

When The Deadbolt Breaks - The Last Day Of Sun

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When The Deadbolt Breaks began back in the middle part of the last decade and released their debut "In The Ruins, No Light Will Shine" in May 2006. That debut album was a onslaught of great riffs and a sonic desire to destroy everything in its path. Towards the end of that year a line-up change was made and the band released a split CD with NY sludge metal gods Negative Reaction. In mid 2007 the band started work on this album called "The Last Day Of Sun" with the intention of recording one of the most sonically charged sludge/doom albums ever. That leads us up to now and the band is still out promoting the album but still are waiting for the album to get the distribution and recognition it deserves. You could say this album is 2 years in the making but when you see what a massive piece of work this album is, then it becomes obvious why they believe in it so much. Its a mammoth release, 2 discs and 11 songs providing the heaviest and most diverse work the band has ever done. It breaks new ground not only for When The Deadbolt Breaks but also for the entire sludge/doom genre. Disc one starts off in chaotic fashion with "A Million Miles Of Trouble Ahead", sounding like a hybrid of sludge, doom and thrash, this track will floor you with its sonic intent. The punishing drumming, shredding riffs, screaming lead breaks, join forces with bellowing tortured vocal gymnastics and lower than low bass guitar frequencies. Next up is "Just Before Twilight" and the mood is relaxed for a while at least. A soothing melodic atmospheric intro begins the song and it induces imagery of floating down some swampy river alone and scared. That silence is soon shattered by a bombastic yell only to pick you up and take you a melodic psychedelic journey for a short breather, this section of the song is given a beautiful but almost eerie touch by adding some mesmerizing back-up female vocals. Just when you are feeling the effects of melancholy, the track takes some twists and turns between sludge grooves and a almost progressive rock epic approach. The song descends down to traditional doom for the last couple of minutes, winding down a monster track that will leave you almost euphoric. "Hope, Love, Solitude, Murder" brings things back to pure heavy sludge driven chaos, the ever rolling, twisting guitar work is stunning and the fast sections in the second half of the track are nothing short of intense. Track four is a 16 minute doom masterpiece titled "Story Of A Dead River" the extremely distorted, fuzzy guitar work threatens to collapse under its own weight at times as it crawls along but with a subtle lead guitar melody that gives it a atmosphere of dread. At around 10 minutes and beyond the soaring lead takes the track higher and into a almost drug-induced comatose state and then the track finally comes to its screeching, feed-backing demise. Next up is "As Flies For Flesh" which features some additional vocals by JJ from Maegashira" and this is about as harsh and threatening as doom can get. Down tuned dirge of a riff coupled by the ever present bellowing, growling screams, this always works in a doom track but here they almost make a new blueprint for how it should be done. Disc one is completed by "Sever The Wound Culture", another lengthy dose of doom that provides one of the heaviest riffs on disc one. Its a plodding track that doesn't change much expect for a almost jazz rock inspired guitar part at around 6 minutes but then the drumming turns chaotic again verging on grind at times. Varied and diverse, the first disc will leave you battered and exhausted but wait there is a second disc!

Disc two kicks off with "In Their Blood" and its more apocalyptic sludge that opens the song before it slows down and provides the vocals to take a more ambient approach, not that it stays that way for long. The last half of the song returns the sound to one of psychedelic doom with a menacing arrangement. A cascading riff concludes the song in the style of classic epic doom metal. "Amidst Heartache And Bloodshed" begins with one of the most devastating riffs ever recorded, down-tuned enough to give whales a headache, this track also features a more ambient vocal sound. This track is also epic in its richness and diversity and is full of emotion but still retains a huge level of sonic ambiance, this is the strangest track on "The Last Day Of Sun" and also one of the most psychedelic driven tracks. The devastating riff work returns to finish up the song. If you think you have heard it all, you are wrong because next is the 17 minute "Sprawled In Seamless Time". Like the title suggests it is a sprawling track and with more clear, ambient vocals. Do you see a pattern emerging here on the second disc, it is different to the first disc from the point of view of vocals but that only gives this 2 disc set some real musical depth. There is more female vocal in the background to add extra ambiance and feeling and the track doesn't lose the droning, psychedelic vibe for the entire length of the song. This might be the weakest track on the album only because of the way the track doesn't have the surprising changes that are contained in other tracks on the album. At 17 minutes it takes a bit of effort to sit through but given the right mood, the track is very effective at inducing a hypnotic cosmic feeling especially if your brain has had some mind-altering drugs that day. Track 4 on disc 2 is "Of Fallen Grace" with starts with a fairly tame intro but it slowly builds and builds to a earth shattering level with some incredibly harsh sounds. Filthy, dirty and crawling, its a exercise in how heavy you can go while still keeping a sense of melody and purpose. The sound is very abrasive but its combined with more soaring guitar work that at times squeals and screams out at you. The final track on this monster is "Spinal Carve" and is the shortest track at 3 minutes so its also the hardest to remember. Its pure sonic sludge metal that attacks with ferocious drumming and more insane bellowing vocal growls. Before you know what happened the song comes to a abrupt halt and its 2 hours and some minutes later, you have made it through one of the most well thoughtful, adventurous doom/sludge recordings ever made. The band must be real proud of "The Last Day Of Sun" as it is so musically diverse for a band in this genre of music. While its diverse, it is also produced and recorded very well with a incredibly full, thick sound. The work that has gone into this is nothing short of prolific, out of the 2 plus hours of the 2 disc's, there is only maybe 10 minutes where it wanders a little and that is a achievement considering how long this recording is. I would suggest every sludge/doom maniac will want to own this and play it forever, if your speakers can take the sheer weight of the sound anyway. You might not be able to listen to both disc's back to back, i know i couldn't. The first disc had me mesmerized for over a week before really getting to know disc two. Having done that now though, i have to say this is a essential purchase, send the band a message about the album and get ready to fall in love with this album. 9.5/10


Jan 19, 2010

The Wounded Kings - The Shadow Over Atlantis

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The Wounded Kings debut "Embrace Of The Narrow House" was a minor doom masterpiece in its own right so i couldn't to check out their latest "The Shadow Over Atlantis". The band started out as a 2 man project band but recently became a full band and have even done gigs with Lord Vicar and Gates Of Slumber. The new album is out on I Hate Records who has worked with Count Raven, Hellish Crossfire and Minotaur to name a few. So how does the new album compared with the first? This is darker, heavier, better produced and is more atmospheric than the debut and is already a early pick for the best album of 2010. Musically they still are within the realms of Candlemass, Saint Vitus and Black Sabbath but they have a natural ability to head off in more ambient directions which gives them a unique edge compared with most of the other "run of the mill" doom bands that have flooded the scene over the last few years. One look at the album cover and you are automatically ready for a doom experience and within seconds of the opening track "The Swirling Mist" you are transported into another world that leaves you inspired, mesmerized and focused on the glorious sounds you are hearing. Slow, Sabbath inspired doom blues is how i would explain the guitar work as it has notes that in turn blend into crushing chords and the vocals have a cosmic quality that takes your mind beyond what you are hearing. Melodic touches meets depressing guitar work and they do it all without sounding predictable as far as doom metal excesses are concerned. Its also a song that leaves you confused as to what to focus on, the entire band is smoking so with every spin of the track you find something new to blow you away. The last half of the track is partially brilliant where swirling organ turns to more sparse piano sounds before descending back to some serious doom blues. "Baptism of Atlantis" is up next and it too is a masterpiece of thick, heavy guitar work and atmospheric musical passages. The album follows a theme of the human race losing its spirituality and in doing so mirroring the demise of the Golden age of Atlantis but i was too much enthralled by the music on here to take any notice of the lyrics and more about them later. By the time the second track winds down you are already 18 minutes into the album but it seems more like 5, the music never drags or becomes bogged down.

"Into the Ocean's Abyss" is nothing more that a short piano interlude but this only makes the album seem even more bleak and dark. "The Sons of Belial" is another extended bleak crawling doom track with some incredibly powerful and dramatic chord sequences, once again the band knows just where to leave the spaces in the chord progressions. Like someone said once "its what you don't play, not what you do" and The Wounded Kings know that one all too well. "Deathless Echo" is another short interlude that drowns you in atmosphere, the organ seems to be oozing blood as it plays and while it just plods along the song is rich in texture and dramatics. This leads in the final track "Invocation of the Ancients" which simply crushes you for over 10 minutes, its a raw, haunting oppressive doom cut. The vocals remind me a little of Victor Griffin and i don't know if anyone else hears that but there is some real class to the vocal sounds. The sound is also a little on the low-fi side of things but that just seems to suit the oppressive nature of the songs. The band and album is total doom but there is also hints of post-rock sounds in there and i even hear elements of Dead Meadow in the songs although its in real small doses. The band isn't technically brilliant but their skill is in their ability to construct some of the most raw doom metal ever written but also add to that some elements of pure depression that is somehow beautiful at the same time. Most of the lyrics however i found a little predictable and underwhelming but the vocals sound great within the songs so it doesn't affect the overall listening pleasure of the album. Add to that two interludes that really add to the bleakness of the album rather than to just fill out the album's running time and you have a complete piece of work that is hard to match. If the album was a little longer (as it seems a little on the short side) and the lyrics were a little stronger then this album would be perfect but it still rates as the best album of 2010 so far. 9.5/10

Official Myspace

Jan 18, 2010

Surtr - S/T Demo

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Surtr are a duo of French doom addicts that formed in 2009 so they are a extremely new band but they already have a demo that is making its way around the doom community. The band is made up of Jeff on guitars and vocals and Regis Beck on drums. The demo was recorded at Recorded at L'Usine, Thionville, France in December of last year so they have wasted no time in getting this out for all of us to hear. Its made up of only two originals and one Black Sabbath cover. The first original up is just simply titled "Part I" and is a 9 minute mainly instrumental number with the occasional vocal from Jeff. Its a long rambling track full of all the influences you would expect from a modern day doom band like Saint Vitus, Reverend Bizarre, Pentagram and of course Sabbath. They use a lot of subtle melodic touches that are interwoven with pure riffing passages. A pretty good track but maybe a little long with not enough musical ideas to warrant the extended running time. The next track is strangely titled "Part V" so maybe there is other installments to be made or released on a future recording. This track is the better of the two originals with some classic sabbathian musical techniques used throughout the track. If great riffs is whats needed for a quality doom metal then this track comes pretty close. Nothing original musically but a fine dose of doom writing just the same, they follow the blueprint of doom metal to the letter here but it is done with integrity and some passion to make a track that demands repeated spins. The final track is a cover of Black Sabbath's "Electric Funeral" and their version is decent but not ground-breaking in any way, just a honest interpretation of the Sabbath classic. Another original tune might have been a better choice but this is a just a first demo and i never say no to hearing Sabbath so i enjoy the version anyway. Interesting to note the first two tracks on this demo are part of a concept they are working on called "World of Doom". This is something i will have to find out more about but the idea of a "World Of Doom" sounds awesome. The whole demo is only a bit over 20 minutes but judging by this they are a band with real potential and deserves to be heard and supported. They have a blog site at Surtr @ Blogspot that will give you more information about the band. One thing is certain, they love their doom and fans of Reverend Bizarre in particular will want to check out Surtr. 8/10

Surtr @ Myspace

Cephalophore - Ghosts

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Cephalophore's "Ghosts" is now for pre-order and is being released on the newly formed Barren Meadows Recordings label. The album title is very fitting for a album that is eerie, dark and is a trip into your deep subconscious mind. This is music that can serve as a soundtrack to your nightmares or can simply provide a relaxing hypnotic, meditating background to your deepest thoughts. As far as i know its the work of one man Hezekiah (Saint) Raven and it is certainly filled with mind - alternating sound textures, mellow for the most part but also very moving. Made up from parts rather than actual songs, the music is very much ambient, slightly industrial, experimental but the sound has a great mixture between warm sounds and bleak coldness. Best taken as a whole rather than analyzing the separate tracks, it is a album that sounds rather simple on the first listen but peel back the layers and you will find some well thought-out complex imagery contained within the sounds. That might sound like i am blabbering but this is music that requires a lot of attention and some imagination on the listener to get the vibe of the album. This will most likely appeal to people who like minimalist droning music but rather than indulging in loud extended bass/guitar humming sounds, here it is more about engaging the listener with subtle changing sounds and its great because you hear something different with every spin of the album. Drone was once described as "about as far away from music as you can get before it stops being music" and i guess that is pretty accurate but its albums like this that can take you on a little journey, where you finish up might be absolutely horrifying or absolutely beautiful. Its up to how you hear it, i found this album to be a excellent example of using sounds to create something multi-dimensional within the framework of ambient drone music, a original and moving experience. Find out more about the album here - http://barrenmeadowsrecordings.blogspot.com/2010/01/pre-order-cephalophore-ghosts-album.html or check out the Myspace site. 9/10


Jan 17, 2010

Interview With Daan From Toner Low

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Toner Low in my opinion are the leading Stoner Doom outfit from Holland, their hypnotizing low-frequency riffing is hard to beat. Their albums are landmark recordings in heavy psychedelic soundscapes and the band has played live shows in Holland, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom and they have played the Roadburn Festival. Here is a interview i did with Daan (guitar/vox).

1. Hello, thanks for this interview. How's life been for you guys lately ?

‘Quiet, since we decided to do no gigs or rehearsals from November 2009 until March 2010. We did about 35 gigs since November 2008, when our second cd/lp got released, and toured and played in Holland, Germany, Austria, Croatia, France, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. By November one of our band members needed some time off and we all thought it was a good idea, also to give our (or at least my) tinnitus-ridden ears some much deserved rest.’

2. One thing i haven't read much about is what you all did before Toner Low. Can you tell the readers about your musical upbringing ?

‘The three members which TL consists of today all grew up (musically) in the (mid-)eighties metal scene. I played in my first metal-band in 1984, the others started playing in bands in 1986/1987. We were in local thrash metal-bands until late 1992, and after that got involved in other music styles, such as grind, punk and alternative rockbands that people outside our region never heard about (maybe except for grind band Sexorcist). Concerning my musical upbringing, my parents’ 45 RPM-7-inch collection consisted of Fats Domino and Jim Reeves. I got into alternative music in 1977, when David Bowie was in the charts with Heroes, Iggy Pop with Lust For Life and The Stranglers with No More Heroes. My older brother attended high school, got in touch with certain high school kids and then he introduced me to this new craze called ‘hard rock-music’. So when I was eleven years old I already liked Ted Nugent, Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, Rainbow, Rush, Journey and such. A few years later I was very much into Accept, Exciter and Raven, and so it went on to Slayer, Mercyful Fate and Manowar in 1984, and later Hallows Eve, Savage Grace, Leatherwolf, Agent Steel, Exodus, Possessed, Dark Angel, Kreator, Trouble, Holy Terror et cetera. After that I got into bands like Macabre, Sadus, Rigor Mortis, Autopsy, Cathedral and Entombed. When death metal became too popular and thrash metal became clean and boring, I got to know a lot of older music that I had missed on, such as The Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Stooges, The Byrds and eighties punk like MDC, Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion and Minor Threat, and I also started listening to Monster Magnet and Kyuss. In the mid-nineties I discovered some metal again with Darkthrone, Dissection, Mayhem, Impaled Nazarene, Ulver’s third cd and so on, and I have been a mixture of styles ever since. At the moment I mostly listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Of course there’s also a lot of other old and new music I discovered later but I won’t all mention those bands here, ‘cause this answer is way too long already. People of today don’t have no time for that anymore, haha, time.’

3. What was the early days like for the band ? Did you already have a musical vision for Toner Low ?

‘We started TL in March 1998 when we had a break with one of our earlier bands and we just wanted to play stonerrock with a heavy and massive sound. Therefore our first line-up had three guitars in it, and a bass of course. Kyuss, Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu and Sleep were all of inspiration to us back then, and so we didn’t really had a particular style as we have developed into. The only thing that is still the same today, is that we wanted to have the heaviest sound we could and can create. In 2001 came the turning-point musically when we deliberately started a stoner-ish rock-band with for the most part TL-members, because we had too many riffs that were too much stonerrock and we wanted to get rid of that for TL. So we started this band, called The Mad Löggers, to give ourselves a few months to sort of detox, to get the stonerrock out of our body-system so to speak. We wrote six of those songs in the Summer of 2001, released a split-lp in 2002 and did 30 gigs until we quit late 2006. Consequently, in 2002 the music of TL took a more doomy path.’

4. How do the Toner Low albums compare in your eyes and ears ? The last album seemed more drone influenced to me.

‘Yes, that’s true, the second album is more drone-ish than the first. It’s also much slower, maybe that’s why it sounds dronier, haha. Quite soon after we released the first album, in 2006 we gradually started to play those songs slower and slower during our gigs. I don’t listen much to our cd’s, but the first is a bit too fast in my opinion -- and in the rest of the band’s too for that matter. Maybe we had that in the back of our minds when we created the second album-songs.’

5. Toner Low has done some killer shows over the years, Is there a particular show that sticks in your memory ?

‘Well, many gigs stick in my memory, all for their own reason, but mostly for the soundcheck, the dinner, the people we meet and/or the party after-wards. It doesn’t really matter to me where we play. Some stages are big, most are medium, some are small, but it all looks the same to me once the gig has started. We have our visuals beamed right at us, so I only see colors and hear loud music, haha. But I’d like to mention Stoned From The Underground 2008, for the very warm welcome we’d got from the audience and from the organization, after arriving three hours too late at the festival ‘cause of serious car-trouble.’

6. How does the band set out to write songs, is there a certain formula you work on to write songs ?

‘Mostly we have some riffs that we recorded at home. At rehearsals we then work on those riffs. Some sound good together, others we just take a part of and of course we create new riffs to complete a song. During the following weeks or months we rehearse and record the composition that came out on a tape, and listen to it and reconsider parts and so on. All this time the song is still without samples and vocals. For our second cd one song has even been changed after we recorded it in the studio, albeit slightly. We are hard to satisfy but easy to please, haha.’

7. Has your local scene been kind to the band ?

‘Yeah, we did quite some local gigs in the first six years, but in those years that didn’t result in a wide local following as sometimes happens with bands. Since 2005 we only do one or two a year, ‘cause there’s not that many clubs that can have us decibel-wise and we don’t wanna play too much local gigs. The last years we have most contacts with bands, clubs and booker's in other parts of the Netherlands and outside of the country. The doom and stoner-scene has been very kind to us so far, that’s for sure. Thanks, brothers and sisters!’

8. The doom scene has become really diverse over the years so what do you call doom ?

‘I would say I call early Trouble, early Cathedral and Winter (the band I mean) doom, but also Candlemass, Count Raven, My Dying Bride on the one hand, and Electric Wizard and Sleep on the other. As you state it has become a very diverse concept, and I think people of different generations will have different ideas of what is doom music. Of course it should be heavy and slow music in the first place. But also within doom there’s a lot of sub genres, as you know, and slow ain’t the same slow to everyone.’

9. Is there other styles of music that influence the way you construct your music ?

‘Hmm, probably, ‘cause we listen to all sorts of music. I can’t say this or that style is something we incorporate into our music, other then some drone-parts that we use in some of our songs. When we make a song we just listen to what’s in our heads and reproduce that. Our drummer Jack did all the samples for the second album and has been around when mixing took place, and with that in the end he is the one who completes the compositions. He just does what’s good for the song, and gets his influences from a broad spectrum of music and his unbelievable creative brains. We owe much of our sound and songs to him.’

10. As we move into the next decade, where do you see doom metal heading ?

‘The music will slow even more down and eventually come to a hold, haha. Well, I don’t know, you can never know what people may come up with, but it probably will get heavier and more apocalyptic instead of more mainstream as happened to many other styles at some point. I don’t see anyone getting into the charts or anything. Would be cool if some doom-band would succeed in holding on to the doom riff and creating a hit single for the people at the same time though. Maybe in the so called Doomsday Year of 2012 the misinformed masses will be ready for it, haha.’

11. As we all know, being in a band is expensive but is there any chance of Toner Low touring the USA anytime soon ?

‘For various reasons it’s not very appealing to go on a tour in any country where you have to take a plane to and are not in control of the situation. Especially our drummer has got no good relationship with planes, every plane he took crashed so far, haha. No that’s not true, I think he just doesn’t like airplanes. But also, if I’m right, it would cost us at least 400 dollars only to get visa for the USA, so all in all it would be pretty expensive too.’

12. How has CD sales been for Toner Low and is that something you worry about much ?

‘We don’t worry much about that. It is not something that we care most for and we are not very active promoters of our band, as some of those young hipsters with their street teams, clothing-endorsement deals and 10,000+ MySpace-friends nowadays seem to be. But of course we appreciate all who really support us and buy the real thing with the original art-work that our drummer spent so much of his spare time on.’

13. When can we expect a new album from Toner Low and what can we expect to hear ?

‘Maybe somewhere in late 2011 or early 2012 a new full-length. All the songs still have to be composed and I’m not sure, but I think we will start on those in the course of this year. We also still have a few unfinished songs left from the 2008-studio session. Some of this will most likely be released late 2010, early 2011 on vinyl only. Any new songs we might create this year will probably be a continuation of what we did. Two things for the next album already are for sure: the songs will be titled after numbers and there will only be four lines of vocals at most in each song, those lines preferably consisting on three syllables each.’

14. I recently saw Toner Low II rated as number one album of 2009 but wasn't it recorded in 2008 ? I ask this because i had it high up on my 2008 top 10 list.

‘Yeah, actually the second album is a 2008-release. It came out late November, but many people only got to know about it in 2009. And of course most (if not all) of the reviews of it got published in 2009. We appreciate it very much that Laurel/Rocksanne put it at top position for 2009.’

15. Just one question about the vocal side of the band. What inspires the lyrics in the songs ?

The only song that actually has lyrics that are more than just some words to me is Two. Those are lines I wrote in November 2002 and are about living slow. I think my pace of living inspired that one, haha. The other lyrics are written by all of us and composed of words that sounded good together, the words inspired each other so to speak. Except for Three, that’s some quite coherent story-telling lyrics written and performed in the studio by our drummer Jack. In an earlier interview somewhere I said I would write more lyrics like the 2002 one, but at this point in January 2010 I’m not too sure about that. Cause we sing with two vocalists, our bass player Miranda and me, we keep the lyrics shallow and vague, and don’t wanna sing about personal stuff, social issues, obscure movies, conspiracy theories and so on. The lyrics for our second album were mostly written after we recorded the music, and were recorded one or two weeks before mixing started. So they ain’t very important to us or to the song structures, let alone if they have a meaning.

16. Ok i think that is enough questions for now, is there any last words or thoughts for the readers ?

Yes, thanks to the readers for their interest and for reading this, thanks to the people that support us by coming to our gigs, listening to our music and having our releases in their cd/record-collections. And also thanks to you, Ed, for giving us some much welcomed exposure.


Doom Metal Alliance Sampler Volume 10 - Free Download

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1. Rote Mare - Eternal Winter

2. Crowned By Fire - Witch In The Window

3. Moloken - Die Fear Will

4. Buddha Sentenza - Saturn

5. Wizardrone - An Insult To Injury

6. Darkwood Sanctum - Tomb Of The Kraken

7. Jacknife Holiday - Grieve Black

8. Castero - Smokes Of Doom

9. Blood Of The Tyrant - Helena

10. Arise Within - Crown Of Nothing

11. WTTA - Dead Inside, The Decline Of Hope

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Jan 15, 2010

Monkeypriest - Defending the Tree

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Monkeypriest are a Sludge/ Doom trio from Spain and this their self - released EP which some people say is basically just a demo. I am not sure about that but if it is, it would explain the slightly thin production. Leaving that aside though, most of this EP kills with the force of a thousand rhino's. They would not get any points for originality but what they lack in that area they make up for it with sheer sludge overdoses of doom. There is so many bands to compared them to, Goatsnake, Grief, Eyehategod, Hellhammer or even Slayer if they had a taken too much LSD. This band has nothing to do with thrash or death metal but they have very metallic riffs, interesting tempo changes and a snarling lead singer who sounds like a pissed off caged animal. The opening track is the weakest track on the EP in my book, its called "March Of The Monkey" and it starts out good enough. Pounding ominous riffs that sound like thrash metal slowed right down but the track comes to a sudden stop like someone fell asleep and landed on the stop button. I hate it when bands end songs this way and on this occasion it ruins what could have been a classic opener. The rest of the EP is great though, the next track "Defending The Tree" sounds like the same main riff from the opener but this time it is reduced to blackened sludge. Nasty, dirty bass driven riffage is the order of the day and this track also ends with a sudden stop but this time it sounds like it was meant to happen. The sudden stop of the first track just sounds like a fatal error. Things get ever better for the next two tracks "War For The Throne" and "Doomsday", "War For The Throne" is close to a 10 minute exercise in musical filth. The rumbling, hypnotic riff is the masterstroke of the EP, at about the halfway point of the track the bass and guitar seems to vomit its way out of your speakers rather than just simply played. There is also a large amount of tension underlying every note as the song builds to a very stoner punk conclusion. "Doomsday" is the most traditional sounding track on the EP even though it is also the most up-tempo of the four tracks. It kicks off very much in the sludge metal vein before a old school death metal kicks in and then the track spirals towards the most Sabbath like moment on the record bringing the song to a close. You cant really go wrong with picking up a copy of "Defending The Tree", it is high quality sludge despite the sudden ending of the first track and the average production. The artwork is fantastic which is like a impressionist painting of lavender and lilac which forms the shape of the titular tree. If you like crawling sludge/doom, crude guitar work with tempo changes that take you by surprise then this is for you. The whole EP is over and out in little over 20 minutes and i can guarantee you will get the urge to hit the repeat button. Highly recommended. 8.5/10


Jan 14, 2010

Griftegard - Solemn · Sacred · Severe

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Griftegard is a Swedish band made up with members of Wolverine and Bokor, and they play a brand of traditional doom which is emotionally crushing one minute and almost soothing the next. For the most part they sound like Candlemass meets Memory Garden but they play at a pace closer to funeral doom bands. What makes them different is they are a religious band but not in the bible-pushing sense, they write emotionally charged tales and question the point of our very existence. Thoughtful, mystic and esoteric, the band takes the religious angle and breathes new life into the sometimes predictable christian doom metal scene. The real strength of the band is to let the melodies carry the songs and create a atmosphere of despair and confusion. Vocalist Thomas Eriksson is a wailing singer who knows how to convey a feeling of being confused by his own existence and you can feel his pain while listening to this album. The first track on the album is a song originally recorded on their 2007 demo named "Charles Taze Russell" which is a interesting song about the prominent early 20th century Christian Restorationist minister from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and founder of what is now known as the Bible Student movement. I am not sure what point they are trying to make with writing a song like this but its has some thought provoking lyrics based upon Biblical themes. Musically though i had hard getting into the track and the same goes with the second track "Punishment & Ordeal". The tracks just seem life-less and even though this extra slow take on traditional metal isn't meant to be uplifting, these two tracks sound stagnant and lacking any dynamics.

Thankfully the rest of the album is great, "I Refuse These Ashes " is a great track with a excellent use of choirs at the end of the song. The atmospheric "Noah’s Hands" is the odd track on Solemn, Sacred, Severe. It provides a folksy ambient interlude on a album that is mainly epic doom. The much heavier "The Mire is my pick for the best track but the finale "Drunk With Wormwood" is a close second. Thomas Eriksson makes it mark on this song but more or less going solo, this song would sound very cheesy done by most other bands or vocalist's but here he is accompanied by a piano and delivers something very effective. Most of the time Griftegard follows the doom formula but the use of a church organ sound ( not standard keyboards )and choirs only adds to the funeral vibe. The songs are mostly based around extended riff ideas with a sound in the middle range of heaviness but they do seem short on solo's at times. The drumming of Jens Gustafsson is solid but its the ominous vocals from Eriksson that make this album so haunting. Solemn, Sacred, Severe displays a solid performance that’s aided by the excellent production, the artwork is also very good. Griftegard is a Christian band but its still very much in the mold of classic Swedish / Euro doom metal. Fans of everyone from Candlemass to Reverend Bizarre will find something to get excited about with the album but its definitely a album to listen to while in a state of loneliness. Apart from the first two tracks, i dig this album and it kills their only other proper release, the "Psalm Bok" EP. The huge improvement in writing and the emergence of Thomas Eriksson as such a powerful vocalist makes their future in doom metal a intriguing one, the next chapter in their recording career could see them catapulted into doom metal greatness, for now they are already almost there. 8/10


Colosseum - Chapter 2: Numquam

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Colosseum are a band from Finland who show some real potential to be one of the new shining lights in doom metal when their debut album "Chapter 1: Delirium" came out in 2007. That is a masterpiece of funeral doom with a bleak and dreary atmosphere that was hard to beat at the time. While the word "progression" is not usually associated with doom metal, usually bands in the genre do change and develop their sound over time and i have been waiting for nearly a year to hear this album to see which way Colosseum go. While i have to say "Chapter 2: Numquam is disappointing because its so much like the first album, you swear at times you are listening to the same songs all over again. Not that its all a bad thing, the first album after all is a classic slab of doom intensity. Were they just trying to write and record part two versions of every song from the first album ? I don't know but the tracks on here are so recycled from the first album tracks that you are blown away by the overwhelming sense of deja vu. Within seconds of the opening track "Numquam" is become obvious that this just a re-write of the opening cut from the first album "The Gate of Adar". The main riff is the exact same slow-chugging riff or very close to it and the vocals are the same guttural death-growl. You don't really expect vocals to change much album to album but here you get the feeling its the same words all over again. Maybe they are just playing it safe and trying to capture the essence of the first album. Now skipping the obvious comparisons, the album does have some subtle differences from the first. The keyboards seem a little louder in the mix this time around and there is more quieter sections added in which give the album a little extra dimension.

The use of orchestral type arrangements are still prominent in the songs, the last part of the second track "Towards The Infinite" being a good example. The other standout track is the last track before the outro called "Prosperity" and this contains all the elements that made the first album such a powerful album. The tracks in-between follow pretty much the same path, the sound on this album is still massive with crushing bottom-end and excellent production. The band’s ability to use the slow build up to a crescendo is still there but there is a increased use of keyboard and guitar melodies that seem tighter overall. The guttural vocals are still there but are mixed perfectly so as to not take away the main focus of the instruments. There is still the melancholy and sadness that the first album had and they still have the soaring lead breaks, i do dig the style but i would have like a little more anger inserted into the songs in parts. Interesting if you judge this album as a whole it is full of great moments like the final crescendo of "Prosperity" but its moments more than complete songs that leave a lasting impression. In conclusion, there is nothing on this album to compare to the brilliance of "Aesthetics of the Grotesque" from the first album but it is still high quality doom but obviously the band doesn't know the meaning of the word "plagiarism" that this album reeks off. If you never heard the band before and love funeral doom, you will dig "Chapter 2: Numquam" but if you bought the first album you may feel like you bought the same album again. I hope for the next album they show some signs of innovation and progressed a bit, a third album the same as this would be overkill but for now this is a crushing funeral doom release you should check out. 7/10

Colosseum @ MySpace

Jan 13, 2010

While Heaven Wept - Vast Oceans Lachrymose

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While Heaven Wept received critical acclaim for their previous album "Of Empires Forlorn" no one at the time knew we would have to wait so long for a new album. Its been 6 long years between albums so my curiosity was anticipation for this album was on a high. The band's musical vision comes mostly from Tom Philips, the composer, guitarist, keyboardist and now just a sometimes vocalist and he has excelled himself with this album which is of a "pure epic" nature. A change has been made since the last album with a new singer, Rain Irving from Altura who released a progressive metal album entitled 'Mercy' back in 1996. Thankfully Irving is the only major change in the band's sound but this album sees the band adding more progressive rock touches than ever before. Irving's vocals have also added a lot more emotion to the band's sound than ever before but its still all about the instrumentation with While Heaven Wept and this album you can hear the band have new standards for themselves, both in playing and songwriting. Musical terms mean next to nothing with a band like this, from epic doom metal, old school power metal, progressive metal to symphonic black metal, While Heaven Wept has it all covered all on one album. The epic statement the band makes with the album opener "The Furthest Shore" is not only a a mammoth one but is their most classic bit of work yet. Its a 15 minute musical journey so vast, i could almost do a long review of this track alone. Soon as you hear the first riffs and guitar melodies, you know what band you are listening to, all of the band's trademarks are there especially the keyboards and acoustic guitar melody that makes a appearance early on in the track. By this time you are confronted by the new vocalist and it becomes obivious he is good match for the pounding riffage but also just as important, he keeps those classic While Heaven Wept vocal melodies alive. Great keyboard and guitar leads follow after the second chorus, then there is a section of Power metal meets progressive rock riffs before some vocal gymnastics from Irving. There is a brief interlude section before even more dynamic lead breaks and stunning keyboard work. There is more acoustic work before the doom riffing makes another appearance sounding heavier than it did before. The highlight of the track is the last 3 to 4 minutes which scales new heights of majestic epic metal, i loved this track so much when i first heard it that i was ready to leave the rest of the album for another day, simply a stunning way to open a album.

Things get a little more simple on the second track "To Wander The Void", its easily the most straight forward song on the album but still delivers some technical but catchy guitar breaks and the vocals are delivered with pure passion. While this is a strong track, it seems like a let down after the epic opener. The song does have some remarkable melodies towards the ending of the song that bring back memories of classic power metal from the 80's. Funny how "To Wander The Void" seems so short even though its still over 6 minutes long, again that epic opener is still in your head. At this point you might be thinking "The Furthest Shore" should have been the album closer instead of the opening cut. "Living Sepulchre" follows with a slight euro black metal sound to start with before a acoustic guitar part comes in and more dramatic lead guitar melodies follow that. This track leads nicely into "Vessel" which is a song all epic doom band's dream about writing, it has a half-time chorus that gets stuck inside your head even when listening to other tracks on the album. The title track is up next and is nothing short of fine rock art, the fine piano work is pure class and it tells a story without relying on vocals at all, same goes for the final track "Epilogue" which closes the album in fine style. If one band can speak to you through music alone, its these dudes from Virginia.
Along with Solitude Aeturnus, While Heaven Wept are the premier epic doom in the US, no doubt about it. But what sets them apart from the Solitude Aeturnus guys is the finely tuned progressive rock elements, from Pink Floyd to Rush influences, they managed to blend it with classic epic doom to make something full of passion and musical integrity. "Vast Oceans Lachrymose" is nothing short of amazing, an album that is powerful, emotional, filled with sorrow but still sounding like down to earth music. If there is a weak point, its seems a little un-balanced due to the fact the opening track is so epic compared with the rest but what i do is play the first track last. This is still as close to perfect as any album can be for this sub-genre of doom. 10/10



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DKH from the UK are a rare breed of band, mixing genres from hardcore punk, stoner rock, doom, sludge to balls out metal. Formed as a side project in early 2007 by guitarist Doh and drummer Slick, they were soon joined by Thor on bass. Soon after they recruited Seph as their front-man and vocalist. They have played shows with bands as diverse as Dopefight, Chickenhawk, Bad For Lazarus, Moloch, Trippin Violet, Dead Existence and Funeral Hag. The EP has 10 songs plus a outro, all squeezed into 29 minutes and its all heavy, sludge, punky and full of viscous grooves. Opener "Glasseyes" begins with a sludge / doom riff but quickly the aggression is unleashed into a blur of chaotic hardcore aggression all top off with Seph's screaming, raspy vocal strangulation's. Slow to fast to mid - tempo beats and rhythms and back again, this track is a onslaught of intense changes. Its evident from the start the band is out to destroy. "Thor Bloody Thor" is a 43 second hardcore sludge attack with a sick riff that i wish had have gone longer. "Doe Kill Hooves" has a catchy riff with a fuzzy stoner groove but played at a tempo too fast to really fit the stoner rock tag. The stop / start arrangement which is a trademark of a lot of songs on the EP make this a infectious piece of metal meets hardcore. "Chav Scum" is equally as infectious while remaining intense in its groove based intent. The bass sound is just as fuzzy as the guitar and it is most prominent in this track. There is also bursts of fury with the drumming, not so much in the thrash sense but very much in the mold of classic hardcore bands.

"Afterman" has a old school Fu Manchu type of riff but with a much more aggressive edge. The groove factor is there in this tune as well and i love the changes in tempo in this track. Their songs are fairly short but they sure pack a lot into them and this track is a instant favorite of mine. "Scaremonger" hits you between the eyes, one of the more up - tempo tracks on the EP has some of the most sludge ridden riffs you will ever hear packed into a short but filthy tune. "Steve Stevens" is the next track up and i have no idea who this "Steve Stevens" is but this is the odd track of the bunch. Its uses some flange bass sounds to get you into somewhat of a psychedelic mood but it quickly turns almost psychotic with its use of fast beats and pure screaming aggressive parts. The guitar works shreds for the most part but its their ability to combine aggression, groove and chunky riffing that makes the track so cool. On "Refrain" the fuzz level is right up not to mention the metallic crunch but its the hardcore aggressive screeching of Seph that is up - front. Not a bad thing at all because this dude is one of the best vocalists of his kind i have ever heard from the UK. "Grief" has more great sludge / stoner riffing blended with more anger, the guitar work is furious and sometimes chaotic but that sums up most of the EP. That leads you into a track called "Pain" that has more twists and turns than a lot of bands have on a entire album, the EP ends with a 44 second outro noise track. Can't really compare this band with anyone, maybe a punk hybrid of High On Fire maybe but this is pretty unique stuff in a world where a lot of sludge bands are now starting to sound the same. DKH are not 100% original by any means but the combination of genres that mangle together is very well done and the aggressive intent doesn't sound forced at all. This is a great way to start 2010, i can't wait to hear more. 9/10


Jan 12, 2010

Doom Metal Alliance Sampler Links ( By Request )

Here is all the links to all the Doom Metal Alliance Sampler Compilations. Volume 10 is almost finished and will be posted soon.

http://www.twofrom8.com/doommetalallianc e/uploads/Doom_Metal_Alliance_Sampler_Vo l._1.rar

http://www.twofrom8.com/doommetalallianc e/uploads/DMA%20Sampler%20Vol.%20II.rar

http://www.twofrom8.com/doommetalallianc e/uploads/Doom_Metal_Alliance_Sampler_Vo l._III.rar

dma vol.4.rar

Dma Vol.5.rar

Vol.5 CD 2.rar

Dma Vol.6.rar

Dma Vol.7.rar

Dma Vol.8 Part One.rar

Dma Vol.8 Part Two.rar

Dma Vol. 9.rar

Across Tundras - Western Sky Ride

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This is a album review request, a friend of mine brought this around my house a while back and said here "review this piece of crap". Obviously he wasn't too happy about forking out his hard earned cash on the CD but he has been bugging me for a long time to review this album so he it goes. "Across Tundras" once proudly advertised themselves as a mix of Neurosis, Black Sabbath and Neil Young and they weren't joking. What they do for the most part is take Neurosis, mix that up with Sabbath style riffing and throw in some country folk influence so they might be one of the only country - doom bands in the world. Sometimes it works but a lot of the time, it doesn't. Western Sky Ride is nearly 70 minutes in length so there is plenty of opportunity to hit the skip button and i do find myself doing that a lot with this CD. For example the The disc's opener "Carrion Crow" has some alright vintage rock riffs before in the middle of the song they engaged in some pretty cool metallic riffing but it is all ruined by would you believe whistling ? What would posses a band to take this route is a mystery as the track takes a dramatic detour for the worse possible direction. "Follow Me to the San Luis" and "Two Black Clouds" are both very influenced folk tracks, the latter has guitar twang over noisy ambiance but both tracks left me thinking about that skip button. "Song of the Sullen Plains" has a thicker guitar sound and some much stronger vocals making it a standout track on the album.

"Low the Daystar Hangs" mixes a big riff with country licks but doesn't seem to get into tune with either. "Thunderclap Stomp" is the most rocking piece on the album, there is some Sabbath style riffing mixed in with southern rock lead guitar breaks but this time it works for the most part. "Badlands Blues (Dyin’ Days)" is an 8 minute epic that is heavy, fuzzy in parts and very jammy for most of the song. "Run with the Wolves" is just mediocrity to the extreme and "Two Black Clouds" makes the fatal mistake of adding some electronic sounds that simply don't work for the song. The final track on the album is "Gallows Pole" bringing the album back to the way it started which is a type of countrified Sabbath style post - rock. As you might have gathered i was not impressed at all with their concept of blending styles like these and he disc's vocal performance leaves a bit to be desired to say the least. Much of the vocal work just seems to be thrown in to fill out the song, most of it is a mix of tired moaning and background shouting. The sprawling compositions do have a original flavor about them so i will give them points for that but most of the musical ideas seem more like a afterthought more than well thought out songwriting. I must also point out, i know very little about the band and have only ever heard this album from them. Since doing this review, i did check out some other reviews for this album and discovered some people like it or even loved the album. Well that leaves me baffled but what the hell do i know. 5/10


Forest Stream - The Crown Of Winter

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Forest Stream's "The Crown Of Winter" is a album where i guessed what they would sound like without ever hearing them and i was right 100%. Typical generic euro doom or so they call it, i prefer to think of it as prog - metal with doom elements. But is it bad, not at all, most of it is actually pretty good but its a very predictable album in so many ways. The band is actually from Russia and it is true that these Russian metal bands do have a knack for writing highly complex, emotive compositions but i am starting to think the "doom tag" that all these type of bands are getting is very mis-leading indeed. There is not much Sabbath worship here or Saint Vitus type musical leanings. This is more in the vein of Katatonia, Opeth with a little Swallow The Sun thrown into the mix. None of those bands strike me as being doom metal but maybe they hear things a little different in that part of the world. The Crown of Winter is still metallic and ethereally ambient at times but the generic use of time changes, odd time signatures, and melancholic themes has become a very over used by bands these days. The album begins with a ambient build up as an introduction before moving into the 11 minute album titled track. They mix the tinkering of piano keys with waves of distortion pretty well and there is the usual shifts between aggression and moments of pure tranquility.

"Mired" is a good track with double bass drum work and strong melody lines and musically there is some very slight black / death metal moments. The black metal sections are only a small portion of the album but they are effective in their usage. Other standout tracks are "Blessed You To Die" and "The Seventh Symphony Of Satan" which blends black metal with keyboard - laden doom metal. Forest Stream excels at their respected instruments, especially in the keyboard department, but they lack any strong vocals at all. While the deathly growls are effective, the clean singing ranges from just OK to utterly powerless. Once again the problem i have is Forest Stream has a sound to them that is reminiscent of so many bands in the genre and while the instrument work is of a very high standard, the vocals are a bit of a nuisance to listen to. The songs i have mentioned in this review are great but the rest of the album contains too much padding. There is also too many over-extended endings to songs which just points to lack of ideas, considering their last album "Tears of Mortal Solitude" was released way back in 2003, i was expecting a lot more. However "The Crown Of Winter" is a improvement for Forest Stream and shows potential for greater things. I just hope they don't spend another 6 or 7 years doing it, for now though i am sure some euro doom heads will get into this album. 6/10


Buzzoven - Violence From The Vault

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Time has been kind to Buzzoven, even though the material on this EP is over 10 years old it still sounds remarkably fresh even compared to a lot of other sludge metal that is being released now. The material recorded after the classic "Sore" album has just been released by Relapse with the title "Violence From The Vault". The songs are what you’d expect from Buzzoven but the sound is more filthy and dirty than any of their other releases. Originally put onto cassette tape in 1995, they have finally seen the light of day and any Buzzoven fan, both old and new will want to check this out. There is only two tracks that were ever released before and they are Nod" and "Mainline" which came out on EP releases after the break up of the official line-up around 1995/96. "Nod" tends to be a bit of a long - winded mess at times, at over 15 minutes long. The track has its moments but i found it way too long for the musical ideas contained within. "Mainline" and another track "Paintake" stand out as highlights on the EP, "Mainline" especially has one of those riffs that will leave you battered and crushed . "Breed" suffers from a over-use of repetitive samples which just leaves you with a bad headache more than anything else. "I Never" is pure Buzzoven greatness, this track is proof alone why they are such a important influence in the sludge metal scene today. The problem though is the tracks sound like they haven't been re-mastered in any way at all, just simply transferred from old cassette tape to CD and the sound quality really suffers for it.

This type of recording process leaves you with a sound much similar to listening to a low bitrate Mp3 so the sound is thin for the much of this EP. Putting that to one side though, this is meant to be a "for the fans" release and from that point of view it serves its purpose very well. Its also not till you get to the third track "Breed" till the poor sound quality gets a little grating. Most of the EP is drowning in large levels of feedback and distortion which i can dig but it doesn't come off too well with the dirty, cheap production. "Nod" suffers the worst where at times the music sounds muffled and often indecipherable. However this is still a essential document of one of the most the important bands in extreme sludge metal’s history. If you like Buzzoven, then you will want to add "Violence From The Vault" to your collection but if haven't never experienced the band before i would you suggest to hunt down the "Sore" album first. 6/10


Desolate Anguish - Trainwreck Sessions Demo 2009

Desolate Anguish have been making a lot of noise out of Knoxville, Tennessee for a while now but still under - appreciated and unknown to most people. A bit of a mystery really as they make some good chaotic shredding noise but also have a doom edge. This review is for their 2009 demo "Trainwreck Sessions", a appropriate name for this shredding noise. The first of the three tracks is "All That A Man Has He Will Give To Save His Own Life", a punkish shredding buzzing riff takes up the bulk of the track complete with screeching vocals making a real wall of noise. The repetitive riff doesn't let up till halfway into the track before a more sludge / doom section takes over. While the music slows down, the anger doesn't. The band seems to be pissed off about something and it comes through in their intent to make this track a all out assault of doom / punk noise rock. There is some awesome riffing from guitarist Terrible Tim in the second half of the track, despite the long running time of the track it never loses any momentum. Track two has the lovely title "Japanese Cunt Basher", squealing feedback sets the track in motion before more punkish riffing takes control, the vocals are again angry and viscous. The highlight though is the final track "Traitor", this tune has the most groove of the three tracks but aggression is still the key to the song. Imagine a punk version of Grief then you might be getting close to the sound of Desolate Anguish, they have a lot of slower break-downs within the songs but you wouldn't call this doom, sludge maybe. Desolate Anguish have their own sound and approach to song construction or is that de-construction, take a listen to the sick riff at around the 4 minute mark of "Traitor" for example. At this point i am think of the now split "Boulder", the vocals have that kind of raspy screeching sound. Perfect for Desolate Anguish and a perfect back-up for the bands twisted riffing and tormented angry sound. Overall there is more slow sections than fast ones on this demo but the anger and intense performance puts them in a league of their own. Someone needs to get this band a full length album happening, while its noisy and chaotic, its also catchy in a perverted, twisted way. Check the band out, the three songs on the demo are up on the bands Myspace page. Worth a listen and worth your support. 8/10

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