Aug 31, 2010

What Happened In August !

Its the end of the month so its time to check in on the view count and its another monthly record for the site with 41,091 unique hits. I think the site has peaked now and as much as I would love to see even more views coming to Doommantia.Com, I think it has pretty much reached its absolute viewing highpoint. Nothing has changed in terms of where the views are coming from, 79% of all views come from outside of the USA but the US still heads the country view list with 21% of all views. The amount of dedicated readers has increased though with 63% of all views being return visits to the site, I must thank the services of Sitemeter, Statcounter, Google Analytic's and others for keeping me up to date with all this, if you are not using services like these, you must, they are essential and make very interesting reading but back to Doommantia. This month has been the busiest yet with over 50 CD reviews of bands like Bongripper, Spirtual Beggars, Heathendom, Nomad Son, The Sword, Conan, Roareth, Project Armageddon, Dirty Woman, Sabre and even Ozzy got a mention, although not a positive one ha ha. We gave you interviews with Without God, Lord Of Doubts, Equinox Ov The Gods, Elliott's Keep, Brains and the mighty Doomshine. There was a review of the Seattle Doom-Fest, some compilation downloads from good friends Thee Big Black, Doom Metal Front and the team at the Sludge Swamp. We even revisited some old albums from Sleep, Witchfinder General, Saint Vitus and Goatsnake just for the fun of it. Overall a great month, hope you keep on checking in on the site and from everybody here at Doommantia.com, thank you very much.

Doomsower - Portland's Doom Titans

Oregon's own Doom Metal titan's Doomsower have been steadily making a name for themselves for a few years now by killer live performances with other local acts and bigger names like The Gates Of Slumber. They recently delivered a killer but all too short set of old-school Doom Metal at the Seattle Doom-Fest and have big shows lined up that are guaranteed to impress all that witness their savage metal attack. They have recorded two demos, both are very raw, especially the first one and if there was ever a band that deserves a good production job, its Doomsower as their actual songs are awesome. Their style of Doom Metal is rich in nostalgia but its in a Reverend Bizarre kind of way, they have the Sabbathian qualities that goes along with so many other bands in the genre but there is a original and unique vibe they have that is 100% Doomsower. So what about the demos......

The first one "Ov Doom" was recorded in 2008 and its raw, very raw in fact and is seriously flawed in its production values. I will get that out of the way first, the vocals are way too loud in the mix, the drums although are incredibly powerful are also too loud but its real real heavy to the point its almost indescribable. The five songs all breathe a old-school, larger than life vibe of old fashioned Heavy Pagan meets Epic Doom Metal and forget about comparing them to someone else because they take a multitude of influences and put them in a blender to create a sound that is very multi-dimensional. Its Black Metal meets Doom at times especially in the subject matter with their songs of evil but its not satanic, its too old-school for that. They plod and churn with riffs that oscillate and crawl along with a seething type of malice. Its ugly, raw doom with much variation in the tempos, its ranges from really slow to slow to mid-tempo and so they never get trapped into any one formula. Reverend Bizarre might be a reference point as might be early Cathedral but even on these early recordings, they have already captured a sound of their own.

Justin plays guitar in the mold of the other classic guitar players of the 70's up to now, large sweeping chords give way to sinister passages of axework and at times his technique and sound is pure, crushing doom that is loud and beefy. Drummer Kalvin is different again, while Justin keeps the guitar work to a level of raw perfectionism, Kalvin is right off the charts. He plays with a bombastic style, crashing and thrashing (but slowly of course) around his kit like he is the Keith Moon of doom. While he is looser on his instrument compared with Justin, the combination is brutal and unified. The second demo is like the first, its rough and raw but one thing is instantly apparent and that is there has been a progression in the songwriting. The track "Cimmerian Sunrise" is one of the coolest doom tracks ever recorded, beginning with a riff to melt speaker systems everywhere it builds in raw intensity. The vocals this time are kept to a respectable level but what really sets this track on fire is the very sick solo work from Justin, its almost like a demented form of psychedelic jamming, moaning like a wounded animal it is harrowing to the eardrums.

The wounded animal comes back to life 10 minutes in, screeching and hollering and then the band hits a mid-tempo chugging section which is pure Doom ear-candy. This tune shows the majestic heights the band can reach and I can't wait to hear this recorded in a decent studio, its going to blow people away. This 13 minute monster is joined by another song, this one is over 9 minutes and is the excellent "Keinen Sohn", again it contains some sickening riffs that moan and whine. It also chugs along with a infectious but brutally heavy vibe. Both demos are great musically but the second demo shows a progression in the songwriting and the sound of a band really finding their feet. The second demo has better production even though I think it was recorded live with just one microphone. Doomsower sound like no one else in the Northwestern part of the US so they really stand out in the underground Doom scene around here and maybe in the entire country too. The fact that they are just a two piece doesn't hurt their overall heaviness too much and if they ever add a bassist, the sound will be lethal. Personally I would like to see them enlist the services of a bass player as this will be the icing on the cake for what is already a real heavy band. Doomsower are one of my favorite US Doom Metal bands and properly the one with the greatest potential as far as demo bands are concerned.

They are still young, still a little green but with all the live experience they already have and the extraordinary batch of songs they have already recorded, their future has to be one that is going to delight and excite Doom Metal fans worldwide. Please support Doomsower, buy their demos, go to their shows, buy them a beer, let them crash at your house, great dudes, great band and one day they will conquer all. With rating these demos I am going to do a first and rate songs and production separate, why because they deserve it.
DOOM ON DOOMSOWER.
Demo One:
Songs - 8/10
Production - 3/10
Demo Two:
Songs - 9.5/10
Production - 7/10
www.myspace.com/ovdoom

Be Prepared To Get Doomed In 2011

Check out the line-up of bands for this event scheduled for next year in Wisconsin, this will be two days you won't want to miss. More info coming in the coming weeks.

Sloath - S/T

Just like the album art suggests Sloath play barren type of primitive doom that some call anti-music, not that its not musical but this sub-genre derived from Doom Metal and Drone is the opposite of what so called "normal" is. Its devoid of catchy tempos or riffs, devoid of any standard vocal techniques but that is why its so damn good. Its like they made up their minds to bypass all trends in rock music and go for the most crippling, sickening, regressive music they can come up with. Despite being hated by many in the underground media, this genre of droning, doom ambiance is right up my alley and Sloath from the UK excel at a style while many others come off as being simply boring. Sloath are simple, meandering, monotonous, repetitive and only really have about two riffs per song but the riffs are so huge and thunderous, you don't really need anymore. This is a album I can listen to all day and never get bored with despite the constant repetition. There is only three tracks on here ranging from 11 to 22 minutes so you better be prepared for a serious musical assault.

Basically what you hear in the first few minutes of opening track "Black Hole", you continue to hear for the entire album even though different riffs come into play so reviewing each track is really a waste of my time and yours. The music they unleash here is pure downer-sludge, its sick, twisted and has a sound that is ridiculous in its heaviness. They have a sound to melt speakers with waves of distortion that push the levels of musical decency and while there is slight variations here and there, the intense atmosphere is suffocating. What is great is this is good headbanging shit, its not all noise and atmospheric indulgence that some bands get lost in. The main center-point to the band is the two guitar players but the crude drumming is also a prominent feature and then you have the vocals which are like the sound of someone being tortured to death, don't ask me the meaning of the songs, I have no clue and it matters not a bit with music this powerful.

Sloath have already built a up a solid reputation as a live act playing shows with  Acid Mothers Temple, Burial Hex and Om and from all reports the reaction they get is either mind-blowing approval or total disgust for their obnoxious noise. Seeing this band live must be a amazing experience judging by the thunderous quality of this album and I also have a feeling they must have blown a few bands off the stage in the past if they pull off the same sonic intensity live as they do on this recording. Get yourself a copy of this if you still dig Sleep but you are looking for something heavier with a more of a psychedelic edge. Don't let this band pass under your radar of doom, this kills. 9/10
Sloath Myspace
Album out on Riot Season

Aug 30, 2010

Slugstain - Demo 2010

Their promo info sheet reads "Slugstain is a Finnish band founded in 2010. Slugstain plays heavy doom rock. Slugstain is seriously inspired and shamelessly influenced by Black Sabbath, Cathedral, Trouble, Danzig, The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Witchfinder General and Pentagram etc. We don't have the need to reinvent the wheel, it's all about the power of the dark riff". Damn right its about the power of the dark riff but what is more interesting is Slugstain don't sound like any of the bands listed above expect for maybe The Obsessed and even then, its only in a small way. Slugstain actually remind me more of a young Orange Goblin, dark, mostly mid-tempo, infectious and slightly psychedelic. Being such a new band, I can forgive them for them for the rather primitive, under-developed song-writing style but the grooves and riffs are there already.

The four song demo is well produced with a real beefy guitar sound and the line-up of Olli Onkamo (Vocals), Janne Savolainen (Guitars), Jelle van der Beek (Drums) and studio session bassist Viljami Rentola lay down some killer riffage. The vocals of Onkamo are instantly enjoyable, he has a rich, warm tone to his voice and the way he delivers the catchy vocal hooks, it automatically drill themselves into your memory. The guitar work of Savolainen is right on the money also and like they proudly say its all about the riffs and Slugstain do churn out some killers within the short running time of this demo. Opening two tracks, "Bringer Of Night" and "Howlin Susie" have a late 80's/early 90's Maryland Stoner Doom vibe, the riffing has a Victor Griffin kind of quality and while this is very predictable, its also very good. "Urban Hermit" strikes some more solid grooves and Jelle van der Beek's drumming is also up to the task by pounding out some thunderous but slightly primitive hits around the kit.

The final track is the weakest of the four tunes, "Throne Of Cosmos" gets a little bit on the cheesy side of Stoner Doom with the lyrics and the repetition gets a little tiring towards the end, overall though its a weak ending to what is a pretty good demo from a very new band. Finland is of course becoming a mecca for Doom and Stoner Metal acts and you will read many more reviews over the next few months from Finnish bands. I say this a lot with new bands but Slugstain has huge amounts of potential and with the possibility of a full length album in the not too distinct future, it will be something to look out for. I personally can't wait to hear a lot more from Slugstain in the next year, with a bit more originality they could be the next riff kings from the country that brought you Reverend Bizarre, Skepticism and Spiritus Mortis. 7.5/10
www.myspace.com/slugstain

Ice Dragon - The Burl, The Earth, The Aether

We are on a roll with albums at Doommantia.Com, every album that seems to be coming down the pipe is incredibly good and Bandcamp seems to be supplying a lot of them. Without a doubt Bandcamp is becoming a absolute gold-mine of heavy and doom metal discoveries and one of the latest is Ice Dragon from Boston, Massachusetts. The album "The Burl, The Earth, The Aether" and its up for download from their Bandcamp page with a "name your price" deal and you can't be much fairer than that. Ice Dragon immediately hooks you in with a mix of modern Doom Metal and 70's epic Heavy Metal/Space Rock sounds and ideas while not over-doing any of those musical angles. You also get your required fix of Sabbath inspired sludgy riffs along with some bluesy early 70's axework along with modern Stoner Doom riffing you would expect from Electric Wizard and Sleep. Its a combination that can't lose and this is a pretty close to a perfect album so here we go with the review.

Opening track "Squares Inside Squares" come pummeling out of the speakers with bulldozing intensity, the riffing is bass-heavy and pulverizing and the hollering vocals are charismatic. What got my bones shaking though is the bluesy lead guitar work, it spirals and soars to majestic peaks and is exceptionally well delivered, make no mistake this is atmospheric Stoner Doom pushed into overdrive. They quickly do the unexpected with the intro section to the second track "Spellpouch", its a medieval folk piece of music that is interrupted from time to time with sonic blasts of orgasmic, sludge and yet melodic power-chords. Its a strange kind of progressive, epic doom that totally goes against the grain of generic Doom Metal and its magical and unique. "Meddoe" is shorter and more psychedelic, starting slowly with more folkie elements in the 70's folk-rock vein and its also incredibly atmospheric with a outer-worldly vocal sound that comes straight down from the cosmos. One of the highlights of the album is up next with "Hexagon Riders", at first it sounds like a doom version of King Crimson, it has a similar vibe to "21st Century Schizoid Man" and just like Fripp & Co had that huge orchestrated sound that was bigger than the sum of the parts, Ice Dragon also achieve that same larger than life sound. This is a killer Space Rock meets apocalyptic kind of doom that is made even more trippy with a atmospheric effect that is like wind spiraling between the speakers, freaky and hypnotic.

Equally as impressive is "The Watcher" that churns along with a Electric Wizard technique but only far more within the realms of Space Rock, the song is a monolithic creeping mass of foreboding, gritty psychedelic atmosphere enhanced by the buzzing, feed-backing guitar and synth noise. "Alucard" is a slow to mid-tempo groove-driven rocker that oscillates and quakes, the vocals also get a extra injection of aggression in the tune, another great song. "Winged Prophet" begins with more acoustic melancholy in the medieval vein, this track strikes me as the weakest track of the bunch as over the course of 5 minutes, it never quite gets off the ground and lacks the dynamics through the absence of any heavy parts but its still a nice interlude. The final track is the 11 minute "Aquageddon", this monster of a tune captures everything that Ice Dragon are good at and blends it into a epic piece of well constructed and ambitious music. "Aquageddon" builds in its doominess and mood, forever climbing in intensity and atmosphere that spirals to its mesmerizing conclusion, again it heads off into the heavens (into Space Rock territory) and it is methodical in its arrangement. Ice Dragon have produced a album here that can really reach and impress a wide group of listeners, it has the doom, the space rock vibe, folkie interludes and a progressive rock edge making it a very unique recording. This is another album you must download now, it has so much going for it, its a no-brainer...get it!! 9/10
The Burl, The Earth, The Aether | Ice Dragon
Ice Dragon Official

Aug 29, 2010

Hesper Payne - Unclean Rituals

Hesper Payne is a death doom band from Newcastle upon Tyne on the north east coast of England and are another band in the endless stream of high quality doom acts emerging from the UK. Hesper Payne take their lyrical inspiration from the works of H.P. lovecraft et al and northern English mythology so you could say they are carrying on a British traditional here. The band to us folk from across the pond have seemed to come out of nowhere but they have been busy over the last 6 years recording demos, one EP titled "Titans Of The Northsea" which features the 18 minute "Ghosts Of The Hesper Payne", a track that has to be heard to be believed. They also released a compilation of early demo recordings titled "Relics From The Deep Dark Woods" which is available for free download along with all their albums via the bands official website. This is a curious move on the bands part as their material is so strong so why they want to give it away for free is a mystery, the free download culture happening among bands these days is fine and dandy but it seems a lot of bands have said f..k trying to sell the stuff and why compete with illegal downloading, you might as well beat them at their own game. So you have no excuse to miss out on this band and their albums, trust me these are all essential downloads.

Hesper Payne described themselves as Progressive Death/Doom Metal but this new album is their doomiest offering yet and in some ways also is their most multi-dimensional and creative. The music on this 60 minute plus monster is based around thick and dense atmospheric epic songs and the songs range from 6 to 13 minutes in length giving each track room to develop and breathe. The band is also extremely quirky in a way that just has to be British, song titles like "Mirthless Dirge Of The Toadstool Druid" and "Sarkless Kitty's Weeping" is the sort of weird stuff that bands like Genesis came up with in the early 70's, its freaky and unusual and they have the eccentric music to match those absurd song titles. The music is slow, morbid and thick as molasses syrup but its also very interesting, avoiding the standard cliches of your "norm" in Doom Metal. Every song holds surprises and are constantly twisting and turning with dynamics in the guitar playing and the expressive, melodramatic vocal style which is in the Robert Lowe vein but where as Lowe takes it all very seriously, here the vocals from also guitarist Brooke Johnson seem to be a little weird, again this is pure British eccentricity and something you will never hear from a American Doom Metal outfit.

Musically Hesper Payne master a array of different doom styles and deliver them all within songs you can truly get lost in, there is also a warmness to their sound and style that is very unique. When the band moves into a Funeral Doom vibe, it still keeps the warmth and depth to it unlike other bands in the genre who try and make the music as cold as possible. "Unclean Rituals" is a album that is catchy enough to enjoy on the first spin and intriguing enough musically to enjoy for years, if not decades. There is no weak spots, not a minute wasted and the musicianship is exceptional. The actual songwriting though is their strong-suit, its intricate and beautifully woven together with songs moving from the bleak to a almost majestic kind of beauty. The tricky part for me from a reviewers point of view is trying to compare them with someone as they really don't sound like anything in the Doom/Death genre. While they have their fair share of Sabbathian touches, they don't resemble Sabbath at all, maybe The Lamp Of Thoth for their more whimsical elements but even that is a vague comparison. "Mirthless Dirge of The Toadstool Druid", "Lord of The Green Abyss", "Sarkless Kitty's Weeping" and "Empty Emperor" are maybe the highlights of the album but really this album is immaculate all the way through. British Doom at its best and you can get it all for free, what more can you ask for, start downloading now. 9.5/10
Hesper Payne
Hesper Payne @ Bandcamp

They Had Holes Instead Of Eyes

This review has been sitting around on my computer for about two years now as I thought it was too old of a album to put up onto the Doommantia site but over that time, Saint Vitus have not only become incredibly popular among new fans to the Doom Metal genre but the amount of bands that singled out Saint Vitus as being a major influence is staggering. To be honest a lot of it is pure bandwagon jumping, along with Pentagram, its very hip to be into Saint Vitus at the moment but I guess you could say better late than never. The band was formed in 1979 under the name Tyrant, with Scott Reagers (vocals), Dave Chandler (guitar), Mark Adams (bass), and Armando Acosta (drums), but soon changed their name to Saint Vitus after the song "St. Vitus' Dance" by Black Sabbath. Their main influences were Black Sabbath and Black Flag, the latter of which Saint Vitus toured with during the 1980s. Black Flag would also sign Saint Vitus to their own record label, SST Records, who would end up releasing 4 LPs and 2 EPs by the band. The Black Flag connection doesn't end there as Saint Vitus in many ways had more in common with Black Flag than just the record label after all Black Flag were the doom of the hardcore scene, have you ever heard Black Flag songs like "Rats Eyes"?. They were totally at odds with the metal music being recorded at the time which for the most part was either Thrash Metal or Glam Metal so for years after the release of their first album, they were consider outcasts and most people lumped them in with bands like Hellhammer, in other words bands that the mainstream thought couldn't play to save their lives.

Another vital point about the first Saint Vitus album released in 1984, is it was ahead of its time but in another way recorded 15 years too late. They could have been the band that inspired Black Sabbath to play slow, doomy metal way back in the late 60's. The band was brought to my attention by a friend who was seriously into Hardcore Punk but seriously against Heavy Metal, his line to me was something like "this is too slow and metal for me but you might like them", of course he only bought the album because it was on the SST Record label. Hearing Saint Vitus for the first time was a life-changing moment, I would forever chase down Doom Metal albums from that moment on and there wasn't too many of them in those days. Saint Vitus did have a solid Sabbath influenced sound but there was something far more sinister and depressing within these grooves, it was rougher and lacked any of the polish found on Sabbath albums. Dave Chandler’s fuzzed out and wah-wah drenched guitar style was minimalist, dirty and raw and then you have Scott Reagers very demented and at the time very odd vocal approach, he supply some of the creepiest vocals ever recorded for the album and even now he still sounds utterly possessed. The album wasn't all slow and sloth-like, the opening two tracks "Saint Vitus" and "Black Magic / White Magic" moved along at a mid-tempo pace that was still dirgey as hell but full of LSD fueled riffage. The comparison to Hellhammer is there with the riffing style, "Saint Vitus" could be compared with "Third Of The Storms" and "Burial At Sea" could be compared with "Triumph Of Death" which along with "Burial At Sea" were properly the slowest songs ever written up to that time in metal.

"Zombie Hunger" is still one of the most frightening songs ever recorded, made even more horrifying by Reagers melodramatic singing style. Reagers truly sounds like a zombie when he spews out lyrics like "I creep by moonlight / I hide when the sun starts to rise / I sleep with the dead things / I have holes instead of eyes". At times the music is hypnotically infectious as in "The Psychopath", that song still gets me mesmerized and while I was heavily into Magic Mushrooms and Acid in 1984, even now I still get the same mind-expanding feeling while listening to this masterpiece or maybe its just a Saint Vitus LSD flashback!! Technically speaking the album is totally flawed in so many ways, the vocals are mixed way too loud, the guitar sound is very very murky, the bass is just a muddy rumble but that is the magic of it really. The band was still in the learning stages of their doom-craft and that gives it a timeless quality that even the next full length album titled "Hallow's Victim" didn't quite have even though they were still very green. The magic of these albums also has a lot to do with Scott Reagers who is still my favorite Saint Vitus vocalist, no offense to Wino but Reagers captured a vibe that Wino couldn't and still cant reach. To this day one of my most vivid memories of 1984 is almost getting kicked out out of a local metal show for making the DJ play "Zombie Hunger", I think it lasted maybe 3 minutes before the DJ promptly scraped the needle off the vinyl and pointed to me in the crowd and proclaimed "don't blame me,blame him" and pointed to me in the crowd. I then had to stand my ground and defend my musical taste, now I know that the joke is on them, Saint Vitus are bigger than ever and are a huge influence on nearly everyone within the doom scene.

Over the next 10 years, Saint Vitus would go on to record a succession of killer albums from "Born Too Late" in 86 to "Die Healing" in 95 and that is where their studio output stopped but reports are they will return to the studio for a 2011 release and I personally can't wait to see if they can still deliver the gloomy goods. Saint Vitus defined Doom Metal in 1984 and till this day, it still remains in the top 5 most important Doom Metal albums ever made but I guess you know that already, if not what the hell are you doing on this site? 10/10


Saint Vitus @ Myspace
Saint Vitus Merchandise

King Giant - Southern Darkness

If there is one band that perfectly sums up Southern, Stoner Metal/Rock, it has to be King Giant from Arlington, Virginia. They have the grooves of other highly influential so-called Stoner Metal (I still hate that tag) like Clutch and Down but they combine that with the early Punk Metal crossover sounds of C.O.C and then throw into the melting pot a hefty dose of blues and old fashioned 70's Southern Rock in the Skynyrd/Black Oak Arkansas tradition. The vocals add yet another dimension, the voice of Dave Hammerly adds some serious grit and with all due respect to the former vocalist, Bob Dotolo (R.I.P), Dave is the perfect man for the job. The sound of King Giant sits right on the outer edges of Doom Metal but the real meat and potatoes is in the groovy, bluesy groove ridden riffs and southern rock tinged melodies.

Opening track "Solace" beats you over the head with a killer heavy riff, pounding drums and whiskey drenched vocals. While the music is still in the sludgy tradition, there is a strong element of Southern Rock that is right below the surface so its not driving the music but it is giving them the southern-fried metal sound. So good is "Southern Darkness" is there is no stand-out tracks because they are all good, I tried picking a favorite but soon gave up when I realized that its all killer and no filler. I only times they stray from their formula is on "13 to 1" where the music is almost upbeat and dare I say up-lifting, hell the song even features a banjo, how many metal bands can do that and get away with it. The only change of vibe is their cover of Skynyrd's "Needle and the Spoon", here they go as close as possible to losing the original vibe of the song with their sheer, pounding heaviness almost burying the feel of the original.

There is Country And Western meets Metal in songs like "Mississippi River", imagine Johnny Cash fronting a Metal band and you get the idea. While there is a certain level of predictability in songs like "Burning Regrets", "Lady Whiskey" and "Hollow", its their quality of musicianship and beer-drinking party vibe (not that its that happy but its fun all the same) that carries the album through and makes it work for the entire 51 minutes. You could say you have it heard it all before but I doubt if you would have heard it played with this level of passion and integrity. Its also crosses over various genres and sounds, anyone from fans of Godsmack to Eyehategod and everything in-between should get something out of this great album. I can't say much more about "Southern Darkness" except its one of the best Southern Stoner Metal albums ever made and it really couldn't have been made anywhere else, this breathes the pure Southern air in its grooves and you can literally taste the Jack Daniels or Jim Beam (depending on your personal taste) while spinning this disc. King Giant are a band that could be easily pigeon holed but they don't deserve that at all, they stand out on their own and should be recognized on behalf on their own merits. Apart from the predictability factor, this is a great album from King Giant. 9/10
Official Site
Official Myspace

Doom Metal Front Zine #4 & Compilation Number 2

Sven and the Doom Metal Front Zine are back with another compilation and another zine continuing their priceless contribution to the underground Doom Metal scene. This time around the compilation features bands from Belgium, The Netherlands & Luxembourg released together with the downloadable "Doom Metal Front Zine #4". As usual the quality band selection is incredible as the track-list shows, support the zine, download the compilation and discover some new bands.

Track list:
01 Alkerdeel - De Bollaf
02 Beyond Belief - God Forsaken
03 Faal - Perpetual Solitude
04 Heavy Lord - Serpento
05 Hooded Priest - Well worth the dig
06 Izah - Finite Horizon
07 Maudlin - I'll cut - distant distortion
08 Merca - White Tongue
09 Morast - Tracking You Down (Alone With Your Fears)
10 Möse - Halfway To Nowhere - I Sleep With Demons
11 Officium Triste - No Hope
12 Ortega - Shipwrecked
13 Putrification - Shattered Vision
14 Santa Cruz - What is love (crystal meth boogie)
15 Sardonis - The Hollow
16 Sunneater ((O)) - Legion
17 Tekhton - Auric Revelations
18 The 11th Hour - In the Silent Grave
19 Toner Low - One

Doom Metal Front Blogspot
Download Here
Or Download Here

Aug 28, 2010

Highgate - Shrines To The Warhead

Highgate are back with their most crushing piece of work to date - "Shrines To The Warhead". When Highgate released their debut album back in 2008, I simply fell in love with the sheer, devastating power and bleakness of their blackened Funeral Doom sound but what amazed me more was the amount of negative reviews it got. One review used quotes like "The Epitome Of Boring" and "the most boring album I had the doubtful honor to listen to, It’s so bad, I don’t even know where to start to criticize it". All i can put that down to is it was simply too heavy for the average feeble minded metal listener, for me it was the true definition of heavy. Like a more blackened version of Warhorse, that album was a devastating statement of pure intensity and while I can see that 55 minutes of some of the most harsh and really ugly sounding doom might not be for everyone, I still thought they were in a league all of their own. This new album is again pure ugly filthy sludge and doom but its very different from the debut, gone is the Black Metal overtones and in comes a even colder, more ambient kind of Sludge Metal. They still remind me of Warhorse on their classic "As Heaven Turns To Ash" album but Highgate go even one step further into the realms of bleakness and slumbering, depressing dirge.

The album begins with a spoken word intro about Pentecostal churches in Appalachia before "Shines To The Warhead" unleashes its first real track titled "Holy Poisoning". With fuzz-filled, below down-tuned bass sounds and a guitar that literally sounds like amplifiers on fire, it moves along at a punishingly slow paced that is driven along with drums that are violently pounded upon but of course very, very slowly. Just when you think it cant get any heavier, it slows down even more before grinding to a halt after 13 minutes of tortured dirge. Yes its ugly and yes there is no light at the end of the tunnel, no hints at melody or hooks, its designed for pure devastation and that is precisely what it delivers. "Of Ruins" continues that tortured sound but with a different guitar tone that adds a more atmospheric presence, the songs still revolve around the minimalist approach but this is where the tension and spine-chilling ambiance comes out to seriously play with your nerves. "Of Ruins" adds little touches like piano that sounds so cold and stark, it somehow adds a even more heavy mood to the piece, its truly scary, nightmarish music. The vocals also take on a even creepier vibe on this album compared with the debut, they are deeper and more tortured, fans of Grief should dig the anguish vocal tones.

The albums fourth and final track is "Warhead Rise", again its another slow motion monster of a track and it has the monster-like vocals to match the horrifying guitar sound. Their minimalist riffing is effective at maintaining the tension but they also tease the listener at times, one part in the song you get the feeling its about to swing into a more uplifting pace but its stopped dead in its tracks to leave you stunned and mentally ravaged. At 42 minutes, its a lot shorter than the previous album but at the same time, it seems more devastating and productive. If you are one of those people who found their self-titled full length to be too much to handle, too cold or too graven, "Shrines To The Warhead" will also be a too much to cope with. Its 100% pure Sludged-Out Doom Metal made for the extreme Doom Metal fan with his or her's taste firmly stuck in the bleakest of Funeral Doom Metal sounds. This album shows Highgate are progressing and have taken their sound to the next level of pure filth and musical punishment, the production is also a step-up on previous works. This is one punishing album you must hear but be warned, it ain't pretty, this is doom-pure. 9/10
Band's Official Site at Blogspot.com
Highgate Myspace
Total Rust

Black Pyramid - Stormbringer 7"

You know the music business is so unfair and unbalanced with people more worried about what band is on the new Guitar-Hero game or people obsessed with bands who are well past their used by date, Metallica being a good example. On the other hand, you have bands becoming overnight sensations like The Sword who achieve great success with very little effort from touring and live performances. Obviously this makes people every mad and its a justified reaction, you only have to look at what makes it to un-imaginative TV music shows like "That Metal Show" on VH1. Watching that and you would think its still 1985, they blatantly show their colors by refusing to promote or educate viewers on newer bands and thus, bands continue to fly under the radar and so the mainstream gets stuck in a never-progressing world of predictability. The sheer amount of bands that should be well known but are not due to the media's refusal to progress is of course endless and one of those bands is Black Pyramid. Now you can argue they are not doing anything new but neither is The Sword who are good but really are nothing more than "homogenized stoner-metal". Now this isn't a Black Pyramid vs The Sword thing, I am just trying to point out that the music industry needs a complete overhaul and a serious wake-up call and bands like Black Pyramid are one band that could give the music-business the kick in the ass it so desperately needs.

The 2009 self-titled full length album was a instant doom classic album when it was released and the recent split with Old One (another band still flying under the radar) showed they are the real deal. Black Pyramid are a hybrid of Sleep, High On Fire and Black Sabbath but the end result is a sound that is fresh, potent and exciting. "Stormbringer" (nothing to do with the Deep Purple tune) is a pummeling, Sabbathy burner that is full of punch and churning grooves from the opening seconds. The whole band is on fire from the pounding, huge drum sound from Clay Neely to the metallic onslaught coming from the riffs of Andy Beresky. Andy has been criticized in the past for his Sleep-like vocals and nothing has changed there but I personally feel he has one of the best voice's going around in the genre. "Stormbringer" moves from heavy psychedelia to High On Fire styled galloping metal and the way BP moved effortlessly between the metallic to the melodic and back again is brutally efficient and precise. The other track on the 7" is "The Cloud Of Unknowing" which shows the other side of BP's weaponry, its more laid-back that "Stormbringer" but still has that Psychedelic Doom Metal edge that sets them apart from most other bands. It kicks off with a cleaner guitar sound but when they move in total Doom mode, the effect is sinister and hypnotic with Andy's infectious vocal hooks.

It seems like Black Pyramid keep on evolving and growing with every recording they do and this only makes me get very excited for their next full length album, I have no idea when that will finally drop but its a almost certainty that it will be a landmark release for the band. This 7" is out on Hydrophonic Records and please note the artwork above IS NOT the single art, its all I could find as I was sent these two songs via a friend and like he said, you have to hear this, this rules and he was 100% right. You can hear "Stormbringer" on their Myspace page so go check it out and crank the mutha up, it doesn't get much better than this. 9.5/10
Black Pyramid@MySpace
Meteor City Records
Electric Earth Records
Hydrophonic Records @ Myspace

Aug 27, 2010

Throne of the Void in the Hundred Petal Lotus – Demo 2010

Throne of the Void in the Hundred Petal Lotus just released a demo, and the above artwork can give you some idea of what to expect. Furthermore, their Myspace states as genres: Down-tempo / Psychedelic / Religious – and it is the religious part I am interested in the most. Why? Not because I’m religious, but because there are so little bands that choose to work within this genre. I think of Om, Orthodox maybe, but I can’t really name any other acts. Om is one of my all time favorites, because I have the feeling that their music has the goal to uplift your spirits, or to entrance you. So not only music for music’s sake (nothing wrong with that by the way), but also some semi religious feel to it that gives it just that little vibrating extra dimension of blissful riffing and calming musical structures. As a hardcore kid I loved 108, Shelter and the lot, so I can relate to ‘religion’ and music. And even on the back of my iPod I have engraved: Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit, (because I love Carl Gustav Jung, not because I’m religious).

The Demo consist of one long track, spanning 16 plus minutes. On their Myspace this track is divided into two parts: part 1 and part 2. What I like the most about this demo is that it can be enjoyed on two different levels. So, you can listen to this with the volume turned up very high, but you can also enjoy the track(s) on a more quiet level. With the volume up, you’ll notice the drones and the ‘loose’ structure of these riffs. This is perfect music to write to or read to, and the only minus is the production. With a clean production, this release could well be a 9 or even close to a 10. As I said before, there are not too many bands operating in this subniche of Doom. As always, Throne of the Void in the Hundred Petal Lotus’ Demo starts with a riff. This riff is the foundation for this formidable track, not unlike Sleep, Orthodox and Om. After ninety seconds the vocals kick in, and they follow the riffs nicely. 2:30 into this track the tempo slows down, and the bass and vocals get a more prominent place than in the intro. The bass drones its way towards some nice improvisation somewhere around six minutes. Then the mighty riff takes over once again, and the second part of this track has even more variety in tempo and riffs. Lingering, the music ends about where it started. I think this is a very balanced release: Throne of the Void in the Hundred Petal Lotus chose to blend all the elements of its music into one nice product, instead of giving the riff the spotlight, or the drones, or the exotic instruments.

Throne of the Void in the Hundred Petal Lotus is a three-piece from Providence, Rhode Island, with Indrayudh Shome on guitar and vocals, Nate Totushek on drums, and Matt Becker on bass. The name of the band is from a Bengali poem by the mystic of the Baul Lalon Fakir. The band is as yet unsigned and their demo is out on Concrete Lo-Fi Records.

8/10

Myspace
Demo 2010: Demo Download Link
Review Written By Sandrijn van den Oever

Aug 26, 2010

Boris And Ian Astbury - BXI

On paper, the collaboration between the never to be pigeonholed, Boris and The Cult's Ian 'Wolfchild' Astbury seems like the work of a mad musical scientist. I have always been a big fan of Boris and their obsession with creating something new and different with each release and I have always liked Astbury's voice although I have never been a fan of The Cult's gonzo goth meets 70's hard rock approach but believe me I have tried to get into them but The Cult never clicked with me. So I was nervous about what this EP might bring and to a certain degree, my apprehension was justified. Boris are obviously a band that doesn't give a s..t about genres or what people expect of them so for them this strange collaboration is properly just another day in the life of a very eccentric band after all they have already teamed up in the past with Keiji Haino, Merzbow and Sunn O))). Maybe its a attempt from Boris to spread their music to a more mainstream rock audience and if that is their objective, then this EP should succeed at doing that.

Opening track "Teeth And Claws" is a solid blending of different genres starting off with big open chords before moving into more melodic, gentle passages. When Astbury’s vocal comes in, its not as predictable as one might first think, sure it still sounds like him but he gives a unique performance here. "We Are Witches" is less successful even although Boris deliver some down-tuned crunch that is more like what are used to hearing from the band, however it just sounds a little bland and lacks any real hooks to make this memorable. Astbury also delivers a fairly ordinary vocal take on the track compared with the others and overall "We Are Witches" comes off sounding sterile. The next track is the main highlight even though it still doesn't sound that good to me. Its a cover of The Cult's "Rain" this time sung by Boris guitarist Wata, the version is given a psychedelic overhaul with gritty guitar and a almost child-like vocal which adds a more ethereal vibe to the version of the song. The other track on here is "Magickal Child" where Boris return to one of their trademarks of sound and that is ambiance. The atmospheric track, while being alright seems to suggest that Boris are being restrained somewhat to accommodate Astbury's vocal style. Personally I think this tune would have been much better left alone for a actual Boris album.

They have promised live shows and that should be interesting but this EP left me rather un-impressed. Astbury seems a little out of place in some of it while Boris give off a "going through the motions" kind of vibe. Now after having stigmatized the release with those comments, I am also sure some people will go ga-ga over this EP but for me I wish Boris would stick to what they do best and this isn't it for me. 4/10
Boris Website
Boris Myspace
Southern Lord

Very Strange Meat - A Interview With Karol From Brains

BRAINS was formed by laapot666 in 2009 and plays Blackened Rock n Roll exclusively. Brains' ultimate aim is to create serious, honest and dark Rock n Roll steeped in the influence of traditional rock arrangements, black metal atmospheres and psychedelic/stoner vibes. BRAINS released their debut demo in early 2010 entitled STRANGE MEAT and made it available as a free download. Since then BRAINS have been putting in much work in the jam room and on the live circuit with a view to becoming a live force to be reckoned with. (Lovingly stolen from their Myspace Page).

Q: Hello mate! I'm truly glad to have a chance to discuss your band Brains because I was pretty amazed as I've heard "Black is Thee New Black" compilation and your song "Black On Black" is on there. Sorry but I'd want to ask you to introduce yourself to our readers, man!
A: Hi Aleks, Thanks for taking an interest in the band. I'm Karol and I play bass and do the vocals in Brains.

Q: Ok, Karol, as I understand - Brains is a "young" band but it sounds very professional with the first demo "Strange Meat", from where did you appear? Where did you get such fresh and clear ideas for your music? Well, their freshness is a question for those who grew up in 70s maybe but I deny not my words - "Strange Meat" is fresh and thick!
A: Brains is pretty far from being a young band (but we're very good looking!). We have actually all played together in various styles of band in the past so when we were getting together it didn't take all that much thought. As for where the ideas for the songs come from,  I'm really not too sure. A riff comes along, or a lyric that you like, and you build on it musically or thematically from there. But yeah, there is a definite 70's influence in there too. The professional sound is due to kindness on the part of local studio owners, and friends with excellent skills on Pro Tools, and lots of patience.

Q: Oh, of course it was obvious that you didn't take your instruments just month ago! And I do not mean that you're young cause I saw your photos in MySpace :-) Well, I have another one ordinary question - if I do not ask you then someone else will, so why did you name your band Brains?!
A: Well most importantly I just like the word Brains and everything it implies. The brains is the nerve centre of the body where all music and art, pain and pleasure, fear and joy is processed. Its also quite mysterious. The idea does not actually have anything to do with zombies or anything though most people seem to think this is why the band is called Brains.

Q: Ha-ha, firstly I was thinking that it was about zombies indeed! It would be very good if you introduce also your band-mates! I think that a good band is a some kind of family or a gang at least, though Brains looks like a eccentric occult commonwealth disguising itself as rock musicians.
A: I don't know what to think, man. Brian is the lead guitarist and he's in charge of the sweet guitar tones and solos. Ronan, who plays rhythm guitar, comes from a more metal background and provides the much-needed crunch and feedback, and Evin on drums looks after the grooves.  We do all come from playing different styles though - Evin has mostly played in Alt/Punk bands, Ronan in Black/Death metal bands, and Brian in 70's style classic rock bands. He also plays in a traditional Irish duo, so I guess you could say commonwealth.

Q: Well, Karol, I've mentioned "Black is Thee New Black" compilation, and I must say it was a first time when I have heard of Thee Big Black - what is it?
A: "Thee Big Black" is an English, free downloadable 'zine. I think they're on their seventh edition now. Basically it's your traditional zine in a downloadable format. It focuses on all things dark and heavy with album and demo reviews, gig reviews, interviews, band features etc. It also features a mini comic with every issue. Well worth a look.

Q: There are some people who still think that "real", paper magazine is better than web-zine or free download zine as Thee Big Black or Deutschland Doom. What would you prefer a publication about Brains in paper magazine or in a web-zine?
A: It doesn't effect  me one way or the other to be honest, I'd like a publication about Brains in whatever has the larger readership :. I am old enough to remember the days of Photocopied 'zines, tape trading and all that carry on but I don't get romantic about it or anything. If you ask me these publications exist to spread the word about underground music and if it can be done more efficiently online than on a paper copy so be it.

Q: I'm sure it can! And I'm sure that this compilation helped you enough to spread Brains' vibrations over the masses with your classic blues/hard rock song "Black On Black", do you set yourself as an object dissemination of your music world-wide? Which ways do you go spreading the Word of Brains?
A: Well we do our best to promote the band in the usual ways. Sure the "Thee Big Black" compilation was great, at the very least for introducing me to the couple of great bands that I might not have otherwise heard. Other than that, we tend to rely on positive reviews, interviews with fine people like yourself, gigs. That and spam, lots of spam.  To be honest I don't think the promotional end of things is anyone's specialty, but we do what we can.

Q: The cover-art of "Black is Thee New Black" looks like it's authors work in a seafood restaurant as Brains "Strange Meat" art-works shows us that you prefer beef over marine products. Who is the author of your art-work and how do it and album's title reveal its conception of this demo?
A: The cover for "Strange Meat" was designed by a friend of mine called Leon Nelligan. Basically he was given a free reign on design for it, as we didn't really know what we wanted on the cover. It turned out we knew what we didn't want though, so it took the poor guy a couple of attempts before we eventually agreed on a direction - from there, more back and forth. In the end we were happy with the artwork, it is nice and simple. The Brains lettering was designed by me. It took a long time 'cause it was the first time I had picked up a pencil to draw in a good few years, and it still needed fixing.
The "StrangeMeat" demo didn't or doesn't really have any concept as such. It's a bit of a mixed bag of styles with a central rock sound. We had a shortlist of maybe nine songs for the demo - after eliminating a couple we were left with the first 5 tracks, and then we decided to put "Strangemeat" the song on there, because it's a bit jarring after the first 5 tracks. So the demo title seemed obvious after that.

Q: As you say - Brains play Blackened Rock n Roll and we can see in your web-page that your influences are Tom Petty and Burzum for example, strange mix indeed though I didn't catch Varg's spirit in your songs. For what do you like this project?
A: Yeah, the Tom Petty and Burzum influences have been commented on a couple of times now. When writing these songs and trying to find a style that suited me, I was aiming for somewhere in between the nihilism and atmosphere of Black Metal, and the traditional structure of Classic Rock. I am a big fan of Rock Music of all kinds and Tom Petty would be one of my favorites. I am also a big fan of metal, and Black Metal in particular.  I guess the Rock end of things overpowered the black metal in the end but I like to think there is a couple of subtle black metal-isms in there too.

Q: I hope that state of things will remain the same in your next works and you will not start to play blast-beats based blues black metal… or will you?
A: No, Its fairly safe to say we will not be playing blues inspired black metal although  the English band Screamin Deamon did it to great effect on their album "The decline of the English murder", but, no, its not a road we would be interested in going down.

Q: Your song "Black On Black" is about Dracula as "Wolfbeast" is about werewolves as I see, and your "retro" rock'n'roll sound makes me suggest that you're big fans of old black-and-white horror movies, but your vision of these subjects is brand new. Do you miss the times when Black Sabbath was one and only heavy band on Earth?
A: Well "Black on Black" was written two years ago during Halloween week - I was reading the book for the occasion and it seemed like a good idea to write a song about the Count himself. That one was fun to write. Wolfbeast, however is not really about werewolves. It's more about the consequences of your actions, fear, paranoia etc., although you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
Personally I am happy to be living in the 21st century as far as music is concerned.  I think Black Sabbath has been a huge influence on anybody that makes heavy guitar based music, but they're not everything.

Q: I even starting to think that Black Sabbath made more reforms in people minds than any political or religious figures, but just look what Ozzy does now! Man, don't you think that watching his example we can draw a conclusion that his way was wrong? You may do not answer - it's your choice.
A: I think maybe when he was doing so many drugs his brain shut out he's wife's nagging, now that he doesn't do the drugs I guess its not as easy to ignore her so he does what he wants her to do and makes silly tv shows and acts like a clown. Maybe that's what he has taught us, do drugs and ignore your wife.

Q: Karol, I hope that it's not too boring but I want you to comment on other songs on "Strange Meat" demo, if you don't mind?
A: "Wolfbeast" we have discussed. "3ft wide 7ft tall" is our only love song, and was written as an ode to nine green females that were staying at my house for a while. "Black on Black" as you know is a more doom inspired song about Dracula.  "That Awful Witch", believe it or not, is actually a true story. It has a simple blues progression, and lyrically is about an episode of sleep paralysis I had, when I woke up in the night but couldn't move or speak. I could hear doors in my house slamming shut and people talking and walking around my room - scary shit! "Muddy Water" is probably the most musical song on the demo with lots of ins and outs, guitar passages etc. It's about one really bad day.

Q: I'm sorry if that's too personal for you but didn't you get how you fall in that state of "sleep paralysis"? As I can suggest - thanks to MySpace once again - you have an interest in occultism so such experience must be not just scary but even interesting for yourself. Or well… you know… We made an interview with one fair gentleman who likes heavy and slow music and he told me how he fell in such terrible state through dope-smoking that it helped him to compose one great song and to broke this bad habit after such occasion.
A: Its not at all a personal for me.  Yeah, of course it was an interesting experience and even when I woke in the morning I knew what had happened as I was aware of sleep paralysis and how it works. That said, when its actually happening you are dreaming even though it seems like you are awake so you believe that all this is really happening so it is quite scary, occult interest or not.
I sleep my best after smoking dope personally, its when I am straight that my dreams get a bit mad.

Q: It's said that "Brains' ultimate aim is to create serious, honest and dark Rock n Roll". Ok, I'm agreed, man! But your song "Strange Meat" sounds not serious at all, it's like a bloody crazy country music. Why did you decide to close album with such freaky track?
A: OK that's true, I don't know why we finished off the demo with such an off-kilter song. I suppose we do have a lot of different influences, and although we felt the songs that made it on to the demo were the ones that were best representative of what we do, we also have a lot of variety in our music. So I guess having "Strange meat" on there is a kind of warning to people to not get too accustomed with this particular sound……or something.

Q: Did you want from the very start to made your first release available as a free download?
A: I'd like to sell it for a hundred dollars a pop, but I don't think we would have many takers. Seriously though, for the moment I have no problem giving our music away. It didn't cost us a fortune to make, and the more people that listen the better.  Of course we will be selling hard copies and merchandise at gigs, because there are still people who like to have these things, and I think there always will be. But unless the record industry comes up with a way of curbing illegal downloading, then the days of making money from album sales are dead and gone.

Q: I know that your mates - Castero and Brigantia - made the same with their first releases, and I bet that you know these gentlemen very well. Hah… Castero loves rock'n'roll as much as you do, though they prefer groove. Are you friends with such noble sirs? Are there another new honorable downtempo bands in Ireland which are worthy to mention?
A: Castero and Brigantia are both excellent bands, they both seem to work really hard. Although there has been much talk, we still have not gigged together, so I don't know the guys personally. There is some stuff in the works though, so by the time this gets published I'm sure that will have changed. There's lots of good music in Ireland at the moment - Howlin' Widow, from the North, and Realistic Train, from Dublin, would be two more to check out.

Q: You have a plan to record a full-length CD - it's not a question because the answer is well-known. Do you already know where will you record material for your first CD? Did you find a label to release it?
A: Yeah, we will record a full-length album at some stage - for the moment though we are concentrating on our performance and trying to get as tight as possible. I think this is the most important thing for a new band, to be impressively well rehearsed from your first performance, and then to have something to give/sell to people if they want to hear more. We do, however, have quite a bit of material, so maybe there will be something done in the new year.

Q: It's my personal question, Karol, I'd like to ask you about modern Ireland, what is it like mate?
A: Modern Ireland is ok - the economy is fucked, and the cities and towns are the same wherever you go, but there is a lot of beautiful countryside and that's where I spend most my time, so it's ok by me.

Q: Karol, it was the last question, thank you for your answers. My best wishes to you and your family, I want to wish you and other gentlemen of Brains good luck and both spiritual and creative development. Say few words for our readers, man!
A: Thanks for taking the time man - I really appreciate the support.
Brains' "Strange Meat" demo can be downloaded for free at Brains Bandcamp  - 6 tracks of Blackened Rock n Roll from the south of Ireland.  Roll it up, smoke it up, turn it up.
Cheers Aleks
Interview Conducted By Aleks Evdokimov
www.myspace.com/laapot666
brainscork.bandcamp.com/

Frailty - Silence Is Everything

If you were to try and think of bands from Latvia, I doubt if you will be able to name even one band, but there is some good bands from there and Frailty rates as the best I have ever heard from the country. Their "Lost Lifeless Lights" albums was a beautiful Death/Doom Gothic Metal album and the following EP simply titled "EP" was also a great release that didn't just copy the usual Death/Doom style, they actually sound like they are trying to re-invent it in some way. The "Silence Is Everything" EP features three studio tracks and a live version of "Doomed Halls of Damnation". The EP kicks off with "Wendigo", crushing riffs with a huge,thick sound pulverize along side the powerful drumming that is immaculately recorded. The vocals range from deeper than deep death growls to a clean and slightly twisted clean voice, the voice's comes from Martins Lazdans and Edmunds Vizla who is also one of the exceptionally good guitarist's in the band. "Wendigo" is more death than doom but the musicianship and quality production makes this a solid track no matter what genre you care to placed them in.

"Underwater" the second track up is very atmospheric, death growls blend in exquisitely with the keyboards and the constant thump-thump of the rhythm section is hypnotic. The keyboard work on this tune reminds me of Pink Floyd as does elements of the lead guitar work, very melodic and emotionally dynamic. The sound is a little too processed and lacks some raw, live energy that the live track "Doomed Halls Of Damnation" has. "Doomed Halls" shows just what a killer live band "Frailty" is, it shows the band is its raw element although the sound quality of the mix is flawless. Its also the most Doom Metal sounding track on the EP, sinister and melancholic at the same time, the dynamics of the band are endless with the ability to capture and put you in trance. "Doomed Halls Of Damnation" is wonderfully constructed throughout its 13 minutes and never loses its atmospheric intensity. They use the clean voice to display a kind of inner pain and suffering, this is Doom Metal that can make you cry, magical stuff indeed. The other track on "Silence Is Everything" is "Desolated Moors", another 13 minute marvel.

"Desolated Moors" is again a much more gloomy track than the opening two tracks and this is in my opinion where the band really shines, they have a feel for doom but more important have a distinctive approach to composing. They use piano and keyboards to great effect at eight minutes into the track and its also important for me to add, they use the instrument for pure atmospheric sound textures as opposed to just a background noise that thicken up the sound. Its a EP that runs past the 37 minute mark which is a full length album to a lot of other bands anyway so this a very important release for the band, I think the best thing they have ever done. There is no question that the skill of the musicians is imposing but they are selective to how they use their ability which is what make the songs so great. I am sure they could do a lot more within their songs but its simply not needed, the songs are flawless just the way they are. Very impressive. 9.5/10
Frailty @ MySpace
Frailty Official
Solitude Productions

Aug 25, 2010

Fistula - Goat

Fistula recording status now stands at 4 full length albums, 4 EP,s and they have appeared on no less than 7 split albums in 11 years, maybe its just me but it seems that as soon as one Fistula release begins to get a little stale they are on top of the situation with another release. These crazy mutha's from Medina, Ohio have never really disappointed either, even their most average recordings have been nothing short of extraordinary. The last full length album for example titled "Burdened by Your Existence" was like having brain surgery with a jackhammer, if you have never heard it, please seek that one out. This EP titled "Goat" is based around Ohio serial killer Anthony Sowell who was charged with eighty-five counts of murder, rape, and kidnapping, he has pled not guilty by reason of insanity. The music of Fistula is a very fitting soundtrack to these monstrous allegations and it also includes samples of police statements and news bulletins concerning the crazed lunatic.

The five tracks on "Goat" are mostly slower than slow Sludge Metal but with the occasional bursts of hardcore thrash cleverly inserted at just the right time to keep you on the edge of your seat. "Ohio Death Toll Rising" begins with sonic intensity before returning to a sinister slow swampy grinding doom. The track is a toxic dose of vicious and violent sludge and a killer opener designed to crack your skull and it does just that over the course of 5 minutes. "One Chair And An Electrical Cord" is a thrashy kind of hardcore sludge that is as ugly and menacing as the song title suggests. They get remarkably slow and dirty on "The Ones That Got Away", changing the vibe from the violent to the downright depressing. "So Far Sowell So What" is one of the EP's highlights with a main riff that has more meat to it than a industrial slaughterhouse. To add to the suffocating atmosphere they have added samples of the victims relatives crying, this adds a very overpowering effect to the already brutal, emotionally draining tune.

The last track is "Mission Accomplished" with more sound bites from nightly news reports and a single, hypnotic riff used for ultimate effect. This EP comes to me as I have found myself obsessed with serial killers of late, the "Portraits Of Evil" double DVD has been on constant rotation in the last few weeks. I am not sure if the world needs to know about these assholes so much that we also need music to go along with these depressing events, after all Church Of Misery and other bands have worked the concept to death already. However, Fistula have delivered another killer (no pun intended) EP and it might sound strange to say but the 24 minute running time of this disc is really just enough, any longer and the concept and sonic intensity might lose its bite. This is gritty, filthy Sludge Metal played by a band that has all the instrumental expertise to make this a instant winner. 9/10
Fistula @ MySpace
Crucial Blast

At The Gates Of Doom - A Interview With Doomshine

Doomshine from Germany are much loved by the metal underground but underrated by everybody else including the band themselves as this interview points out. A classic Traditional Heavy Metal band with its roots in classic Metal, Hard Rock and Doom Metal. The new album comes after a 6 year wait but the album titled "The Piper At The Gates Of Doom" has been worth the unexpected delay. This interview with the band covers a lot of ground within its 12 questions so I hope you enjoy it.

Q: Hello and thanks for this interview. Ok, this question I am sure you are already sick of answering by why six years between albums ?

A: First of all sorry for answering this that late. We always are slow in everything we do. That´s the simple reason for six years between two albums. We had no pressure and everything you see and hear is self-made, these facts cost a lot of time. And between us all working on this album we just lived our lives, so actually six years is nothing, haha.

Q: "The Piper At The Gates Of Doom" is a great title, was you inspired by Syd Barratt when doing the writing for this album or has it got a deeper meaning ?

A: Inspired by the title, of course. But rather less musically. We named the album "The Piper At The Gates Of Doom" because of the lyrics, it is the summary of all the songs. The idea was to describe that 40 years after the first Floyd album the world didn´t get more friendly, so we replaced the word "dawn" with "doom" which is definitely a view of a darker period.

Q: When you listen to the finished album now, how do you compare it with "Thy Kingdoom Come" ?

A: I think it is more basic, it sounds very real. There´s not much difference to our live sound now. "Thy Kingdoom Come" is a very beautiful album, more like a dream. "The Piper" is alive, awaken, crue and present. We have more traditional rock and metal elements today. I´m really looking forward to what the future will bring. We are still on our way and we really are curious to see what will come. Actually we have to hurry cause we´re far away from our twenties, haha...

Q: Personally I rate the new album a little higher than "Thy Kingdoom Come" as its a little more on the infectious side even though remaining totally within the realm of Doom Metal so my question is - Was there any concerted effort by the band to make the songs flow a little easier than previous recordings ?

A: No, not really. We had a lot of fun writing that songs. I wonder that some people tell us that the new songs are more catchier and stuff  like that. I don´t know...maybe they are. And I hope we are able to keep on going our way between doom, classic rock and traditional metal. I agree when you say that the new album is the next step on a higher level, but there are also people who prefer our first album. And that´s okay, because it´s kind of different. Although I don´t want to compare us with Iron Maiden I would say that "Thy Kingdoom Come" is our "Somewhere in Time" and "The Piper..." is our "Piece of Mind". Both great albums but different.

Q: A lot of people view Doom Metal as a elitist form of music, what is your thoughts on this ?

A: "Elitist form of music" sounds very arrogant, haha. Actually we are no doom experts so we don´t think about such things. Doom is very soulful mostly, the blues of metal. It depends on what comes from your heart. From that point every form of music could be the elitist.

Q: I know a lot of people rate Doomshine along with Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass as being the most important bands in the Doom scene. How does that make you feel ?

A: That´s very flattering and we are glad to hear that. But hey, Solitude and Candlemass are in the Champions League, I can´t believe that people see us on the same level, haha. We are amateurs against them! Nevertheless it´s a praise and it´s an honor for us that these people feel like that. Thank you very very much!

Q: What about the lyrical concepts for the new album. There is a couple of intriguing songs that I am curious as to where the idea's came from. The first one is Waltzhalla, where did the inspiration come from for that song ?

A: "Waltzhalla" was just the working title when we wrote that song. We liked it and I tried to find the suitable words. My idea was to name many of those who are or were involved in war crimes. It´s a rather weird story... all these warlords and bad people meet again at a place called "Waltzhalla" where they dance and drink to the memories of their cruel past. To remember all the senselessness they went through. It´s kind of a hippie song but in a rather cynic way.

Q: The band's sound still is very much rooted in the old school, not only older Doom Metal but Heavy Metal as well. Are you influenced by the likes of Rainbow and Dio for example because the new album more so than "Thy Kingdoom Come" has a lot of classic metal elements.

A: Oh yes! The truth is that we are more in classic Heavy Metal than in Doom Metal. Rainbow and Dio stand definitely for that kind of music we really love. And as I said before I hope that we will combine classic elements with our fresh ideas in the future. Just listen to the guitar solos of Sven. He plays like a real bastard from the 80s, doesn't he?

Q: What was your feelings on Ronnie Dio's passing and is there anyone you think can replace his role in the Heavy Metal world ? He was such a iconic figure so I was wondering is there anyone that come close to filling the space he left behind.

A: The day I heard that Ronnie passed away was real hard. I was on holiday in Stockholm with my girlfriend and that day was...ruined somehow. So we drank some pints to Ronnie very early that afternoon. I don´t think that anyone ever will fill the space he left behind and I think nobody wants to. It´s hard to think about it but all our legends will die some day and no one can replace them. You can´t replace Phil Lynott, Keith Moon or even Chuck Schuldiner. The only thing we can do is to care for their legacy.

Q: What has the band got planned for the rest of 2010 and 2011, tours etc ?

A: Oh, don´t ever ask Doomshine for future plans, haha. Let me try to answer... it sounds boring but there will be no tour, just some gigs. We will start writing new songs one day and we just can hope that inspiration is with us.

Q: Will we have to wait another 6 years for the next album  and does the band think ahead in those terms ?

A: I really hope that our third our album will be released before the summer of 2016 but I don´t want to promise. It´s possible that we release something in 2013 and it´s possible that the next album comes in 2017. Time will tell. And no...we don´t think in those terms.

Q: Thanks again for the interview and I would like to personally thank you for giving us such a killer album. I am sure the album will feature highly in top 10 lists of 2010. Any final words for the readers ?

A: We have to thank YOU for loving our music. This is the greatest thing a musician can experience. And we really know that this passion of music worshipers is our incentive to create a third album as soon as possible. Shine on, sisters and brothers!!!


Line Up -
Tim Holz - Vocals, Guitar
Sven Podgurski - Guitar (Spiral Tower, Tragedy Divine)
Carsten Fisch - Bass
Markus Schlaps - Drums
Doomshine Official Homepage
Doomshine @ Myspace

Aug 24, 2010

Witchfinder General - Death Penalty ( Review Request )

Time for another review request and this time its a album I really enjoyed re-visiting. Its a flashback of doom-days past and this one has not only stood the test of time but its interesting in the way its means different things to different people depending on your age group and place of birth. Witchfinder General climb on board the new wave of British heavy metal in the late 70's and cause a major stir when they release their debut album "Death Penalty" in 1982. The album followed a couple of now highly collectible singles namely "Burning A Sinner" and "Soviet Invasion", both classic tracks in their own right. The first thing to raise eyebrows was of course the cover. It featured Joanne Latham, a well known British fashion model with breasts exposed, needless to say the album was either taken off record store shelves or hidden inside a brown paper outer sleeve. The cover photograph was taken in the yard of St Mary the Blessed Virgin Church in Enville, Staffordshire, without the permission of the local Reverend too I might add.

The other striking element of the record was the music itself, they were self-confessed Sabbath clones which was going against 99% of what was happening in British Metal at the time. Most people outside out the UK don't realize that British Heavy Metal bands at the time were at least 2 years ahead of everybody else. Those who think that Speed Metal started with the likes of Metallica's "Kill Em All" don't know that there was many UK bands playing just as fast or even faster than Metallica ever did and they did it 18 months to 2 years before the genre became fashionable. Witchfinder General bypass that trend completely and went for slow, doomy sabbath inspired riffing which was something rare for the so called N.W.O.B.H.M movement. This wasn't Saxon or Iron Maiden styled headbanging metal, this was old-school filthy hippie metal with a attitude to match. At its time of release it was consider a fun but a cheap attempt at a Black Sabbath worshiping record with a dirty production and even a Ozzy Osbourne cloned vocalist in Zeeb Parkes. These days though, its considered a classic Doom Metal record and in my mind its always been that, I actually have bought this recording 7 times in various formats including a glorious picture disc that would be hanging on my wall right now if I wasn't married ha ha.

The lyrics were sexist and cheesy like "I'm going to lay her, do you know what I mean, I really wanna make her scream"(No Stayer) or drug inspired like "Look out for me, Let's trip on L.S.D and "Mushroom tea, a toke of weed, Amphetamine is real good speed"(Free Country). They also have their fair share of Black Sabbath inspired evilness which popped in the tracks "Witchfinder General" and "R.I.P". Musically it was a combination of infectious and at the same time gloomy riffing from Phil Cope, throbbing bass that was supplied on the record by a fictitious person called Woolfy Trope(?). The vocals of Zeeb Parkes was like a cross between Ozzy Osbourne and Joey Ramone and his voice went from traditional singing to squeals(Invisible Hate). The atmosphere on the record was incredibly dark for 1982, not since the early Sabbath records had this much darkness been unleashed on a metal album. In years to come of course it was quickly over-shadowed by the likes of Trouble and Saint Vitus but hey, they were doom kings for at least a year.

The whole album is great and timeless despite it being a total Sabbath rip-off and being incredibly cheesy in the lyric department. Its packed with great grooves that still didn't come close to the heaviness of original Black Sabbath but it was really the first record of its kind for a number of years, maybe even since Sabbath's Volume 4 was released. The standouts are the opener "Invisible Hate"(an ode to sex, drugs, rock, and beer), "R.I.P"( a tribute to grave robbers everywhere), "No Stayer"(with its Rat Salad rip off intro) and "Free Country" with its anthemic, drug-taking vibe. The band went on to release a disappointing follow up album in 83 titled "Friends of Hell", the album wasn't a disaster by any means but lacked the spark the first album had. The band split in 1984 and faded into obscurity till the doom revival of the late 90's and early 2000's rekindled interest in the band. They reformed with a different line up in 2006 and released a new studio album(Resurrected) in 2008 and while its a decent album, the original elements that made the band great in the early 80's are sadly lacking. Good music matures with age and that is what has happened with Witchfinder General's "Death Penalty", it still sounds great today in all its cheesy, monster riffing glory. If you love Doom Metal it has to be a essential part of your collection. 10/10
Witchfinder General Official Forum
Witchfinder General




 

Ossimoro - Deus

The Italian band Ossimoro are one of the more genre confused bands I have had to review in a long time. Ossimoro translated into English means oxymoron which means a combination of contradictory or incongruous words. Take a look at their Myspace page and they describe themselves as a Stoner/Doom band and yet in the next sentence list their influences as being anything from Alice in Chains, Soundgarden to Danzig, Metallica, The Cult and Stone Temple Pilots, none of which are what I classify as Stoner Rock or Doom Metal so this is a instantly intriguing band. Are they living up to their name by trying to confuse us all or are they simply trying to blow our minds with such contradictory statements. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter because this band is one hell of a good, gritty Hard Rock band that sound like some of their influences listed above but they also have a sound of their own. One thing is certain, they are admirers of the 90's decade for they have a sound that is half grungy Hard Rock (Alice In Chains) and half Desert Rock (Kyuss).

After a album intro, the band gets into high gear with the dirty hard groove of "Deus Ex Machina" and the band is smokin. The vocals of Francesco Fornara are a sticking point at first, his voice is a little unusual and a acquired taste and if you don't understand the Italian language it can be difficult element to absorb. These feelings don't last long however as the musical grooves and the slightly disturbing atmosphere soon wins you over. Along with the opening intro and full track, the next two tunes are also good driving rock songs. "Splende Il Fuaco"(Fire Shines) and "Sierra" have suffocating melody lines and strong hooks that are very much a case of deja-vu, you have heard all this before back in the early to mid 90's but it was good then and it still can kick ass today. The guitar sound has a excellent balance of distortion and beefy bottom-end and guitar player Federico Venditti has more than enough tricks to keep it interesting like the wah-wah solo in "II Sole A Mezzanotte"(Midnight Sun). My favorite track for me has to go to "Sotto Il Sole"(Under The Sun), a swirling psychedelic tune with crunchy Sabbathian riffing.

The fitting finale to this album is another highlight titled "Ceneri"(Ashes), its a punchy, adrenaline rush of a song and a perfect ending to a very solid album. Other tracks like "Assassino"(Murderess) and "II Culta"(Worship) are also solid but come off as the weakest tracks on the album in my humble opinion but I am sure some folks will love the tunes. The conclusion I reached is this yet another great Italian Rock band and "Deus" is a great album but they might want to think about changing the bio on their Myspace page as they don't display any Doom elements in their music and the Stoner Rock elements are insignificant. Its true to say they are still living in the 90's with their sound and the way their songs are constructed but its still great Hard Rock sounds from Ossimoro. Worth checking out indeed. 8/10
Ossimoro @ Myspace

Burden - A Hole In The Shell

The release date for this gem is the 15th of October, via Van Records in Germany. Their debut 7" titled Man Of No Account left me craving for more Burden, and here it is. I gave their first 7'' an eight out of ten - and their actual debut album is even better. Better because the sound is broader than what you would expect upon hearing Man Of No Account. Again, the similarities to Down and Pantera are there, even in the nice above artwork. I like the sludgy pace of these tracks, in the way a typical Down track is great. I like the vocals a lot, and they are perfectly mixed in the overall sound. According to Last.fm, the vocals are grungy, but I doubt that.

Besides all the heavy tracks, I'm happy they made room for slower tracks like About The Veil And The Wound. On the overall production, I'm thinking what would happen if they would give the drum that extra heaviness. But for now the sound is perfectly fresh. Bless The Broken gives you a perfect visiting card of what to expect: a Panteraesque anthem in its own right. Done With Denial has a beautiful riff and an interesting rhythmic pulse. Black Room opens purring like a motorbike, and makes me think of Alice In Chains. You'll recognize Man Of No Account of course from Burden's debut 7", as well as The Slug. The Drag. The Misery. About The Veil And The Wound slows things down, a perfect resting point on this release. I think it's a funny coincidence that track number 7 is called Stampede - Hellyeah's latest is called Stampede too (starring Pantera's Vinnie Paul). Stampede is yet another fine rocker, with excellent riffing. Anthemic like a lot of Burden's tracks, and with a magnificent solo. Process, 6:40 minutes, is my favorite, because of its epic reach. The Fool, 5 minutes something, is a fine example of how Burden mixes slow, heavy and fast. Closing track Conflict is 'metal' in its right form.

It is hard to point to any negative points, so I won't try. Their promotional sheet mentions: "It is not just autumn being rough. It is BURDEN who wrote the perfect soundtrack for stormy seasons. A soundtrack that requires every single sense yet is not too aloof and still able to burst every stage worldwide!" I'm afraid these are not just loose words - I can see a great future for these German metallists! 9/10
Burden @ Myspace
Burden Online.Com
Review Written By Sandrijn van den Oever

Aug 23, 2010

Trees - Freed Of This Flesh

The ever mysterious Trees from Portland, Oregon are back with their second release on Crucial Blast Records with music as barren as their Myspace page (the only Trees site I know of). This is the follow up to 2008's "Light's Bane" EP and again its another 30 minutes of tortured, minimal and unseemly Doom/Drone/Ambient Metal that is so hideous and ugly to the ears. If you have never heard them, their repulsive dirge ranges from slow to even slower tempo's that at times seems to stop all together. Everything is drawn out for maximum impact, not only the riffs themselves but even the vocals and drums are isolated to painful levels of ear-splitting agony. If you have no patience then this isn't the band for you as the music seems to want to let loose but it never does, rather it keeps you in a state of tension.

First track titled "Ashes" is painfully slow and with blackened ambiance especially from the vocals that range from the guttural to demented shrieks of torture. The gloom never lifts and never shows any signs of breaking into anything remotely traditional in the usual Doom Metal mold, it is bleakness at its most ugly and depressing. The other track called "Hollow" is even more grim, the first 7-8 minutes is nothing but a extended chord repeated to death and when you finally get to anything resembling a change in structure, its so subtle and minimalist, its barely noticeable. The sound is a mass of crushing heaviness, screeching feedback and atmospheric drones that are ponderous to the extreme. There is honestly not much to talk about here apart from what I have already said but I do think the total lack of dynamics and sonic range is their strong-point. Each track has plenty of space to build in atmosphere and aggression, and while the band are incredibly slow and bleak, they are also very precise in what they do.

Drums burst out at precisely the right moment for maximum effect, tortured guitars are only matched by even more tortured vocals and the overall vibe is very unsettling. Who knows what type of listener this kind of music is meant for but its certainly not for the traditional listener. Even fans of Khanate and Burning Witch will be taken back by the overall bleakness of "Freed Of This Flesh". This is floundering dirge, ugly and awkward but also very atmospheric. 7.5/10

Trees Myspace
Crucial Blast Records - CD

Project Armageddon - Departure

There is a lot to be said for sticking to a formula for Doom Metal especially when the older ways seem to produce the bands and albums with the most longevity. Just like Briton Rites who released a album earlier this year full of classic melodies, classic riffs with a old-fashioned approach, Project Armageddon take the same path with their album titled "Departure". Coming out of Houston, Texas usually means "great Doom Metal", after all the outstanding quality of Doom Metal from there is only really matched from the glory days of the Maryland Doom/Stoner scene. This trio do use a well-worn formula but you cant mess with something as timeless as the musical approach that came from Saint Vitus, Pentagram and Black Sabbath but most important of all, Project Armageddon follow the blueprint closely but deliver a album of killer tunes that original or not - WORKS!! "Departure" is a classic metal album in the finest Traditional Doom Metal style. First reactions are always crucial and in the case of this disc, I yelled "where the hell has this band been hiding, this is awesome". This trio who are all ex-members of Well of Souls are exceptional musicians who have a exquisite taste for strong melodies, powerful riffing and absorbing arrangements.

"Plague For Shattered Man" kicks the disc off with beefy guitar and a vocal style and sound straight out of 1972, so much so you could swear Blue Cheer's Dickie Peterson has risen from the grave. Dok Hollada has one of those rare rock voices, common in the late 60's/early 70's but refreshing to hear in a modern band. The vocals are expressive, melodic, clean and full of emotional power and above all else - taste. The guitar style of Brandon Johnson sits somewhere in the middle between Scott "Wino" Weinrich and Leslie West of Mountain, you could say they have their influences zoned in and working at their full majestic potential. "Plague For Shattered Man" is a killer opening track that is almost too good for something new, this sounds like a classic, timeless heavy masterpiece that has been hiding for decades and Project Armageddon have finally brought it to life. "Psyko-Sonic" is a earthy, sinister track using bass and percussion to set up a bluesy but gloomy tune that builds in melodic atmosphere. Switching between quiet and loud parts, the song is always climbing and the vocals of Hollada are perfectly presented. The two part "The Reckoning Of Ages" is equally as mesmerizing, the first part is a )Planet Caravanish") acoustic and drum instrumental piece while the second part is a heavy, crushing instrumental slab of melodic metal. Not a major highlight especially without the presence of the great vocals but still very listenable and kick-ass.

"Steward Of Shame" is a chugging metal rocker, not so much in the Doom Metal vein at first but more in the vibe of bands like Sinister Realm. It has a power metal feel for the first three minutes before shifting down into doom mode with Sabbathian grooves and crashing drums from Raymond Mathews ("Take a note to the uncanny similarity to Sabbath's Wheels Of Confusion during one part of the riffage"). Its get even more doom infected before heading back to the stomping metal that began the track and this carries the tune till the mind-shattering ending, it is one hell of a great track. "Lament For The Leper King" is another instrumental with a lot of great twists and turns, great bass playing and more killer riffs but again where are the vocals, sorry to keep on going about the lack of voice but he is so good that tunes seem empty without him wailing. "Time's Fortune" is within the realms of Cirith Ungol, I don't know if anybody else will hear it this way but that is the first band I thought of while listening to this tune. It has a progressive edge and a almost mystical vibe, the guitar work is very impressive in this track especially the solo at 5 minutes in. The album ends with the short "Static Transmission" and the albums title track, the former is short but very sweet while "Departure" is another great Trad-Doom tune, ending what is a very concise and impressive album.

Along with Briton Rites, Project Armageddon have delivered a stunning slab of traditional Heavy Metal with its foundation firmly set in classic Doom Metal and 70's melodic, bluesy Heavy Rock. This is a "must have" CD for the old-school doom fan and seekers of the timeless metal riff and melody. Essential. 9/10

Project Armageddon MySpace
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