Nov 30, 2010

R.I.P. Armando

The sad news is that Armando Acosta, legendary drummer with SAINT VITUS, has passed away at the age of 58. He passed away on Thanksgiving day at 2am, he was 58 years old. Armando was one of the original Saint Vitus members joining the band in 1979 when they were known as Tyrant. Armando's drumming was crucial element to the Vitus sound and when they recently replaced him with Henry Vasquez in 2009, the sound of Saint Vitus changed forever. There has been no official statement per se so I don't want to say no more right now, I am deeply saddened by this loss to the world of Doom Metal and music in general. It is a very sad time for Saint Vitus, their fans but more importantly for his friends and family. My thoughts are with you all. R.I.P


"With great sadness we say rest in peace, Armando. The strong, gentle bear is gone to a better place. I knew him as a beautiful, mellow guy who shared a lot of my loves — motorcycles , swords, armor and music.

"Ride on, brother. See you later!

"If you loved as he loved, there is no love greater, forever..."

Wall of Sleep - When Mountains Roar

Hungarian band Wall of Sleep are back after a 3 year break from recording with a new  full-length album, "When Mountains Roar" and a new lead singer in Cselényi Csaba. After forming in 2002, the band got off to an amazing start with the excellent "Overlook The All EP in 2003, the equally awesome "Slow, But Not Dead" in 2004 and their best album, (in my opinion) "Sun Faced Apostles" in 2005. They then kind of lost the plot when they released "...And Hell Followed With Him" in 2007, an album most people would agree would have better off with a few songs dropped and made into a EP. Wall Of Sleep have never suffered in the musicianship realm, they have always had great players but the vocals have always been an issue with this band and despite having a new vocalist on this album, it seems that issue continues to haunt them. The new guy up front is ex-Stardrive's Cselényi Csaba and he is an improvement over previous singer Gábor Holdampf, the man who was rather unfairly called the "Yogi Bear" of Doom Metal. The other immediate improvement with this album is the band have a new-found freshness and maturity while maintaining all the infectious groove that has been one of their trademarks over the years. "...And Hell Followed With Him" was an album that had the groove but at least half the songs sounded like a limp-wristed attempt at Doom Metal, basically the songs lacked any spark. This new album, "When Mountains Roar" brings back the spark found on earlier releases but again sadly the singing is well, average at best but more about that later.

Being named after a Black Sabbath" song you would expect a plodding kind of doom to hit your eardrums but Wall Of Sleep actually sound more like Dio era Sabbath than Ozzy era. This album also seems to suggest the band are moving away from their trad-doom roots into a more straight-forward Stoner-Metal sound, they have always been heading in that direction anyway but on this album, they have arrived firmly within that genre. The riffs still pack a doomy punch at times however as in my personal favorite of the album, "Receive the Pain." Also, the band is still all over the place in terms of influences, Cathedral, Trouble to Down, C.O.C, The Obsessed and even Thin Lizzy can be heard in snippets throughout this album so there is plenty of variety.  Unlike the last album, there is no filler but also really nothing that totally blows you away either. Along with "Receive The Pain", opening track "Hungry Spirits" kicks with an infectious groove and "Raven Avenue" is close to 7 minutes of some hair-raising majestic playing. The rest of the album doesn't stand up as well but it doesn't fail either, it is just by-the-numbers Stoner meets Heavy Doom Metal with some heavy organ thrown in for good measure. Basically to put it in a nut-shell, if you have listened to Doom Metal for more than a few years then you have all this a million times already but when Wall Of Sleep nail a tune, they work some magic. It just doesn't happen often enough for my liking.

This brings me to the subject of vocals, the new guy is better than the previous singer but he sings in a style that seems to go against what the music is doing. The vocals are at times a little abrasive for the music sounding out-of-place, it is not really bad but a more melodic vocalist could have done wonders for the album. I stress this is just my opinion but it is how I hear it. Despite all that, this is a big step forward after the last album and deserves to win the band some more fans. The "Sun Faced Apostles" album still reigns as their best album but this comes close at times so I can still recommend it, out on PsycheDOOMelic Records........7.5/10
Wall of Sleep @ MySpace
Psychedoomelic Records

Earth - A Beaurocratic Desire for Extra Capsular Extraction

What dawned on me, like a bolt of lightning while listening to Earth's "A Beaurocratic Desire for Extra Capsular Extraction" is that this band has been together for 20 years, how time flies while you are droning out, I mean really. This album comes as a teaser for their new album titled "Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I" due for release in February of 2011 but it has old + unreleased material and this made me drag out CD's I haven't listened to in years like "Pentastar: In the Style of Demons," their album from 1996. Earth are considered pioneers of droning doom but their fans live in different eras of the band, some love the early stuff while others didn't really like the band till they released the "The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull" in 2008. This is their 14th release if you include live albums and compilations but there is also 4 split album releases as well so they have been a very productive band in their 20 years together. Of course, there has been many line-up changes but that is to be expected with a band that has been around as long as Earth. The current line up consists of main-man Dylan Carlson - Guitars, Don McGreevy - Bass, Steve Moore - Various instruments and Adrienne Davies on Drums.

This album has material from the first Earth recordings "Extra-Capsular Extraction" and "Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars Live" and it has been remastered by Mell Dettmer. It should be noted some tracks come from the 2001 reissue of "Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars Live" so if you have heard the original version of that album, you wouldn't have heard some of this album before. The band from my home of Washington state were never really innovators of music but they were one of the pioneers of the drone doom genre and these recordings drive home that fact even more. Listening to some of these tracks for the first time in many years made me think about how ahead of their time they were in many ways but also how there is so many bands now doing nothing but recycling what this band did 15 to 20 years ago. The two part "A Bureaucratic Desire for Revenge" was a landmark recording for its time and it sounds even more "relevant" now in light of a lot of music that has been released in the last few years. Kelly Canary of "Dickless added vocals to "A Bureaucratic Desire for Revenge, Part 2," and vocals is a rare occurence in this mainly instrumental act. While on "Divine and Bright," someone called Kurt Cobain does some vocals and I believe this tune was a rare demo recording until now.

The centerpiece to this compilation is the 18 minute "Ouroboros Is Broken," a track you either love or makes you want to climb the wall. Elsewhere you get the incredible riffing of "Geometry of Murder" which is perhaps one of the band most traditional pieces of doom-work especially in the Sabbathian guitar department. Also included is "German Dental Work" and "Dissolution 1" and fans of the band should know about these tracks by now. As a compilation, its only real function is as an introduction piece for newbies as long-time fans will know what to expect but it is great to go back and re-visit these tracks once again. It is true that elements of this sound dated especially the drum-machine and hasn't that torture device improved over the years. If you dig this kind of doom, you most likely already dig Earth, if not this won't make you rush out and become a drone-head but the main effect this had on me was to get real excited about their 2011 album, bring it on................8/10
Earth @

Nov 29, 2010

A Interview With Brigantia - Nostradoomus Told You To Listen

Aleks Evdokimov returns with Doommantia's second interview with the mighty Brigantia. They are one of the very best of the Irish Doom Metal bands after having form in 2007 and their most recent release "The Chronic Argonauts" got rave reviews and the band has had a steady run of live-shows which have also had a positive reaction. I dig this band and if you haven't heard them yet, it is about time you did. This interview is with guitarist, vocalist Dave Gleeson.

Q: Hi Dave! I’m very sorry for delay but finally here’s a handful of questions for you and Brigantia. What is a current state of the band, man? You have two demo-albums and though the last one “The Chronicle Argonauts” was released in February of 2010, it’s time for new songs or at least for old ones but in a form of full-length CD.

Hi Aleks. Well, at the moment we are in hibernation mode. Busy writing songs for the forthcoming debut that is due in September next year. This is the first time since the band began that we have actually taken the time to breathe and plan our next move!
On the subject of using old songs for the album, we most probably will not include anything from “The Chronic Argonauts” preferring instead to delve a little deeper into our back catalogue.

Q: What about “Nostradoomos” EP which you were going to release a year ago? Did it just turn in “The Chronicle Argonauts” demo?

Nostradoomus became “Argonauts” yes. I thought the title was a little too jokey, too self aware..
Add to that the fact we had some abortive attempts at a demo under that name and it’s fate was sealed!

Q: You take this band’s moniker as dedication to the ancient Celtic tribe – it’s a bit unusual for a doom-band, but there’s another question: how this barbaric name reflects upon your music?

To be honest, we originally saw the name as a pleasing alternative to the scores of doom bands with similar names! It gave us a celtic connection and also alludes to a grandiose and proud type of music, something I hope we can live up to.

Q: Oh, there must be a national pride in your heart if you allow me to make such a conclusion from the band’s name. I may be wrong, but I know not too much of Irish bands and such popular pagan activists as Primordial or Cruachan are one of the best representatives of their genre, didn’t you want to stand with them in one line playing a pagan sort of doom?

Not really, no. First of all, Ireland is very well represented in the pagan metal genre by the bands that you mention, along with others like Mael Mordha, Darkest era and Cealtachor.

Secondly and more importantly to us we wanted to play doom the traditional way, we wanted the big riffs, twisting song structures and sheer heaviness that comes with that style.

This was not something that we talked about, just something that happened naturally in the practice room.

Q: Dave, you and John, the drummer of Brigantia, play together in different bands from the earlier 90s. What kind of music did you play? And what do you think about such term as “band’s popularity”? Mourning Beloveth is a popular doom band for example though it’s a very comparative sentence as you understand. Is there any conditions that exist now to make any doom band really famous?

Ha ha, very bad music.. We started in 93 as Cerberus playing mid paced black metal in the vein of Hellhammer, we had a rehearsal tape but that was as far as it went.
After that the 1st incarnation of Brigantia was born. We released two demos and split in 96. Not before time really, I sometimes wonder what we were thinking back then…..

Ah the follies of youth, ha ha!

I think that there is a conscious effort to elevate doom metal beyond it’s current status at the moment. We have seen Electric Wizard's cult following becoming a much larger concern, Hour of 13 signing to earache and you can hardly log on to the net without seeing adverts for the latest Cough album.

Maybe it’s a sign of the times, maybe I’m just more aware because of being in a doom band but it does seem that doom’s popularity is rising in certain circles.

In saying that, it’s in the nature of the music to oppose these revelations and come back with something more off putting than before..

Doom will always remain in the underground, even after some brief flirtations with the sun.
Q: How did you record “The Chronicle Argonauts” songs? They sound great and I am interested to hear which equipment did you use recording that material…

It is a home recording done by a very good friend of ours, we were happy with the way it turned out. We spent 3 days getting the basic songs down and then returned to record the extra layers at a later stage. We didn’t use anything special during the recording, just our basic rehearsal room set-up. Everything as you hear on the demo is exactly what you will hear live.

Q: Dave, and how did your record sessions and rehearsal sets go? You know there’s a mention that rehearsal or studio work are great chance to drink the booze, joking and so on. As instruments play by themselves and songs record themselves by some magical ways.

Ha ha, yeah sometimes rehearsal’s are a good excuse to drink a couple of beers and have a laugh. Why not! Lately however it has gotten increasingly difficult to find the time and rehearsal space for jamming so every opportunity has to be used to our advantage. Usually a lot of the groundwork is done at home, recorded roughly and then shared so can make better use of our time in the practice space.
(Please send me the details of the magical instruments in a private e-mail ;) )

Q: Oh, and I must ask you about the song from your first demo – “Better off dead than red”. Comrade, do you still afraid of “commies”? :-) And man right now our secret services checking your id to get you out of Ireland and sacrifice on the altar of Lenin! Sorry, I’m just kidding…

Yes, death to all commies! Well, no it’s far more mundane than that I’m afraid!

This is a rather pathetic attempt at self aware humour regarding a band both myself and John had played in before Brigantia. The bands name was Red Dawn and the rest as they say is history.

Q: I would like to ask you to comment on songs from “The Chronicle Argonauts”, because maybe I’m too inattentive but I see not that Argonauts or even a conception of the big quest did appear in this album.

The Title for the Chronic Argonauts is taken from the HG Wells book of the same name that actually pre dates his famous Time machine novel and also deals with the subject of time travel. There is a loose thematic connection between the songs, time machine of doom and Prisoner deal with time travel, loss and redemption while The eyes of Lugosi is a sentimental look back at the highs and lows of a horror icon from a golden age.

I thought that the title would be a fitting description for the songs contained within.

Q: Dave, Brigantia played with Pentagram, The Gates of Slumber, Lord Vicar, Pagan Altar and Mourning Beloveth – what do you feel playing with these gentlemen? What is their… well… secret? Is there something behind devotion, hard labour and patience when you play doom metal?

Believe me it is an absolute privilege to play with these bands that are some of the main reasons why Brigantia exist in the first place. We know how lucky we are and we hope that we could emulate at least a fraction of their class and longevity.

I wish I knew their secret Aleks! These guys just have the magic that’s needed to come up with the goods time after time, their quality is in their consistency which can only come from hard work and lots of touring.

Q: Tell us please about the Dublin Doom Day festival, how long does it exist? I’m sure that you mentioned that – there are a lot of good doom festivals happen each year, I’m glad that you have your own fest in Ireland.

Ah yes, Dublin Doom Day festival is starting to look like one of Europe’s premier festivals after the absolutely stellar quality of the line-up this year (And I’m not just saying that because we played!) It was a real coup to get HO13 to play their very first show on Irish soil and then to have them play after Mourning Beloveth and before Pagan Altar no less! A masterstroke.

The festival began last year and is the brain child of Mark Leigh. The third edition has already been announced and there are already a couple of definite names on the bill. Knowing Mark we are also in for a few surprises so I would advise anyone reading this that may be thinking about travelling for it – DO IT!
Q: Man, I did ask that stupid question long ago – do not ask me why I’ve reminded of it right now! Just tell me – do you have pets at home? Dog or cat… or cockroaches at least?

Ha ha, No comment, I’m already under investigation from PETA ;)

Q: And as you know we must end our interview with some final words… As for me… I just wish you all the best, man – to you, to Neill and John. Spread Doom carefully and all will be fine! And yes, I think it would be very good to see you one day in Russia.

Thank you very much for the interview Aleks and apologies for the delay with the answers.

For anyone reading this our demo is available for free download Here
Interview By Aleks Evdokimov

Belzebong - Alchemist 2010 Demo

It seems that the Polish doom / stoner rock scene is exploding at the moment, I have heard more Polish bands in the last year than I have heard in my entire life so there is something happening and it is mostly all very good. Looking at the band's name, "Belzebong" and the artwork that comes with it puts you in familiar territory and you would be guessing about now they are in the mold of Electric Wizard, Sleep and Bongzilla and you are right, no big surprises there so their sound and style could be considered an outdated formula but it really comes down to the riffs and Belzebong have the riffs and lots of them that will make you put down the bong and take notice. Also without a doubt Belzebong are the most stonerized of the band I have heard from Poland in the last year as their sound oozes with hazy, smokey riffage. You know the formula here, riffs, samples, more riffs, solo's, more samples and more riffs and all delivered in a bottom-heavy, fuzz-drenched fashion.

So are the riffs any good ? Yes, indeed they are, they are totally crushing, psychedelic and full of infectious chugging grooves. The closest reference point is Bongzilla as they have the same repetitive nail the riff home kind of attitude. It is also instrumental apart from the samples so this pure unadulterated doom riff rock and nothing less. The band does have a unique element that comes in the almost bizarre psychedelic tinkering lead work that sounds positively trippy. There is just two tracks on this demo, the first being "Bong Thrower" which is all based around monolithic, drugged up riffing that builds up a hypnotic vibe and seems to get even heavier the longer it plays. It is the most straight-forward of the two as it is the most instrumental with the least sampled vocal effects while the other riff-fest titled "Names Of The Devil" has a sick vocal sample that is totally demented, I have no idea what this deranged passage is all about but it is mesmerizing. Their sound is killer with a warm, deeper than deep bass heavy fuzz and the band are very tight when they lock into their solid grooves. The news is their debut album has been mixed and mastered and will be released early next year on CD and vinyl so that could be one of the weed-metal albums of 2011 and if you like that artwork, it is available on a shirt, check their Myspace for details. For fans of Bongzilla, Electric Wizard, Sleep, Stonehelm, Witchsorrow and of course the mightly weed.................8/10
Belzebong @ Myspace

Mystons – Alkaem

A Finnish band called Mystons, delivering a 2nd album called Alkaem. Their debut is called Black Book (2008). I tried finding it, but no luck so far. I never heard of the band before, so I was pretty interested to review Alkaem. The cover wasn’t exactly a promise, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised reviewing this!

Think Danzig & Sisters Of Mercy vocals and grungy riffs, leaning to proto-stoner. The album as a whole is a lot of fun to listen to, because of its energies and its quality songwriting. I like the warm, fuzzy sound of the guitars, and of course the strong vocals on Alkaem. Kicking it off with Good Enough For Death this is as good a track as any of the others on Alkaem. That is to say: there aren’t really any weak spots on the album, except maybe for track eight: Bullet. Good Enough For Death is as simple as it is effective: strong vocals with ‘first person’ lyrics and a warmly riff, making my speakers hum with pleasure. Burn Your Demons follows the same esthetics and the result is as good if not better than opener Good Enough For Death. Singer M. Myston’s vocals are captivating and to be honest pretty awesome. I like the whole attention the band has paid to writing just good songs, strong lyrics and a very good production sound. What more could you need on your 2nd album? Werewolf Eyes sounds scary and beautiful like any good Danzig track does. Tearstained and Mountains are great too, especially Mountains. Every time I listen to this album I can’t help but moving certain body parts to the rhythm of the tracks.

All Alone is a nice acoustic track, where M. Myston’s vocals get a nice place in the spot light. Shadow Of The Beast has a slow build, and is one of my favorites. Song number eight (Bullet) shows the Johnny Cash reference in the promo sheet, but it’s kind of cheesy. Possibly the only misstep on this album? Luckily, Get Born Again & Skeleton Dance end the album perfectly. Listen to Skeleton Dance’s riff and you’re sold!

Mystons originated in Sep 22, 2007 “in a Finnish ranch owned by a seaman called Oiva. Since then, many ecstatic shows of dark, altering music fuelled by mystics, priest robes, fire bombs & spitting have been seen.” Sounds promising! According to the promo sheet, Mystion’s music can be described as “Mystic Rock – a unique mixture of Rock, Grunge, Metal, Alternative Rock, Blues and Mystics influenced by such bands as Danzig, Black Sabbath, White Stripes, Johnny Cash and Doors.” Now, the White Stripes reference can easily be omitted (I hate White Stripes) because Mystons deliver pretty strong tracks. The other references I do understand J. This is definitely a band that has its shit together, because how many times the musical references or descriptions a band mentions on its promo sheet or myspace don’t make any sense at all?

Burn Your Demons can be enjoyed on youtube here: YouTube

Also, have a look at the visuals on their official Website All I can say is this band is pretty original in its take on the given (or chosen) musical matter.

The album can be downloaded for free on their myspace, but please support them and buy the album at Record Shop X

I hope to catch them live soon in Holland!
Review Written By Sandrijn van den Oever

Official Website
Mystons @ Myspace
Mystons @ Facebook

8,5 / 10, but it’s close to a 9 really.

Nov 28, 2010

Acid Bath - Paegan Terrorism Tactics Reissued

This is a re-issue for one of the most underrated gems in Sludge Metal history, "Paegan Terrorism Tactics" by the legendary Acid Bath. While their earlier full length album "When the Kite String Pops" might be more well-known mainly due to its album cover which was the "Pogo The Clown" painting by infamous serial killer-cannibal-pedophile-necrophile John Wayne Gacy, it is this album I rate as their best album, not by much of course as "When The Kite String Pops" is an incredible recording in its own right. The fact that it was such great album makes this album just that even more remarkable, producing one flawless album is hard enough but two within a 2 1/2 year period is nothing short of phenomenal. Acid Bath recorded these albums at a time where "Sludge Metal" wasn't a well-known musical tag and it certainly wasn't overused like it is these days but Acid Bath were indeed sludge and this is one of the most underrated gems of the genre. The line up of Dax Riggs - Lead Vocals, Sammy Duet - Guitars, Vocals, Mike Sanchez - Guitars, Joseph Fontenot - Bass and Jimmy Kyle on drums were not the greatest musicians but they were easily some of the very best songwriters and best riff-makers of the last 20 years. Their backgrounds are varied and impressive as these guys have also played in bands like Agents of Oblivion, Deadboy & the Elephantmen, Golgotha, Daisyhead and the Mooncrickets, Dry Pussy, T-Daks and His White Plastic Soul, Dark Karnival, Goatwhore, Vual, Ritual Killer, Crowbar, Walpurgisnacht, , Devourment, Prophecy, Shredding Lettuce, Shrum, and Jacknife. The story behind the "Nola" scene has been written about to death but no band sums up what the scene was all about better than Acid Bath.Over 10 years in existence but only 2 full length albums and a EP is all they could muster but 2002 saw the release of the 3 hour DVD titled "Double Live Bootleg," and sure that DVD is a bit rough around the edges but at least it captures the band in their prime with live footage from 1992 to 1996 but back to "Paegan Terrorism Tactics."

Acid Bath's sound was rooted in Black Sabbathian riffing cranked up to 10, given a serious dose of swampy grit, some stoner-rock infectious quality with a side-order of energetic punk rock and sometimes all within the one song. "Paegan Terrorism Tactics" kicks off with "Paegan Love Song" that sets the album off with an intense rush of energy. The song is pretty simple but incredibly infectious, full of great grooves and most important of all HEAVY!! Vocalist Dax screams, wails and hollers like a banshee while the band go through a couple of intense tempo changes that really blow your head off, the slower droning section is particularly effective. Second tune, "Bleed Me an Ocean" is a Acid Bath classic, starting slow and doomy, then going fast and then back to slow. The song builds up intensity at every turn and with guitarist Sammy Duet screaming out some backing vocals, this tune is a pure buzz to crank up loud. "Graveflower" follows with a more melodic edge to it showing that Acid Bath had many tricks up their collective sleeves. This track that is full of misery and menace is perhaps the bands most well-known song and with good reason, the tune is pure gold. "Diab Soule" which is French for "drunken devil" is up next and this song literally makes you drunk with its raw sludge-driven power, another great track. "Locust Spawning" is another one of Acid Bath's more well-known tunes and it is all violence and pure aggression with Dax Riggs showing in my opinion he is the Nola's scene best ever vocalist and frontman, sorry to all you Anselmo fan-boys out there but to me this dude is the master of that scene. "Old Skin" is the only real filler track on the album but it is only a bit over a minute long so it is hardly ever an issue, the track is basically a poem delivered over an industrial sounding dirge. "New Death Sensation" is a kind of demented, twisted sludge-ballad of sorts, I can't think of any other way of describing it. Lasting for close to 7 minutes, the song is hauntingly mesmerizing showing yet another side to the band.

"Venus Blue" continues in the same depressing mode as the previous track and this is Acid Bath at their most mainstream. One thing about the band is they also had a "grunge-rock" element that pops up within various melodic parts on the album but this is very dark and heavy grunge, not your flannel-shirt wearing Nirvana pop-rock kind of thing. Moving on-to "13 Fingers" and they crank up the volume and the tempo for some heavy ass-kicking sludge filled with killer hooks and irresistible vocal lines and the following tune "New Corpse" is in much the same vein. "Dead Girl" finishes the album with a very depressing acoustic kind of drunken dirge. The incredibly dark atmosphere of this track is the perfect way to finish the album but the album ends with a twist. After some silence you hear a hidden track titled "Ode of the Paegan" and I know some people think this is just "Dead Girl" continued but it is actually another track on its own. The running time of "Dead Girl" appears to be 24 minutes but it is really only 7 with the rest of the time taking up with the extended silence and then the hidden track. I wonder how people hit the stop button before ever hearing it ? If you make it right to the real ending of the album, you have 74 minutes of an almost flawless piece of Sludge, Doom, Stoner Metal history but this has been reissued and now he comes the bit that bites and it bites very hard for me. This newly mastered version is crisper and much louder and sometimes that is better, right ? In this case, the answer is no as to my ears they have lost a certain magic the album had in its original state. The original was more filthy and muddy and that suited the tunes perfectly, the songs have lost something with this new edition. Now I totally applaud "Rotten Records" for reissuing this album but I doubt if long-time fans of the band will appreciate what they have done here.  The new mastering does do some damage to the bleakness of the original and I compared both versions before starting work on this review but long-time fans will be the judge on that. For new fans, this will still blow your face off and knock your ass into the dirt and I guess that is call that matters. "Paegan Terrorism Tactics" is a timeless but underrated masterpiece so here is your chance to check it out. Essential..............9.5/10
Acid Bath@MySpace
Rotten Records Store

Katergon - Endless Life

Myspace Bio - "Katergon emerged in 2007 from an old formation since the members were eager to explore new territory. The band from Biel/Bienne (CH) presently consists of two guitar players/vocalists, a bass player and drummer.
After the first experimental steps in a new field of music-making, the band developed a strong urge to explore intense, heavy, melancholic, but yet spherical sounds. To quench this desire, they increasingly included electronic elements. The result may best be described as a balancing act between Post-Rock and Post-Metal, enhanced with elements of Doom and Noise-Core.
From the beginning, there has been the idea to enrich live performances with visual projections; thus an experience to immerse into, challenging more than one sense."

Another new post-rock, post-doom, post whatever band, this time it is a Swiss band called Katergon and this is a very emotive, deeply atmospheric 2 track EP titled "Endless Life" and there is some very impressive musicianship on display here. It is not really Doom Metal but it is very dark as it gives off a feeling of deep isolation and loneliness and the warm production job engulfs you with a large surround-sound effect. There is also a prog-rock element at work here especially in the track "I am The Sea" that has a Pink Floydian quality to it with a dreamy ambience. The song flows beautifully as it gradually builds in tension with its sound washed in psychedelic melodious techniques. It is a very intense piece of work with a melodic and cinematic arrangement. The vocals of guitarist Jan Marchand are unique in that they are monotonous and yet carry a mesmerizing kind of hypnotic beauty and the musicianship displayed by him and Mauro Di Cioccio - Guitar/Backing Vocals, Olivier Ruppen - Bass and Matthias Müller - Drums/Programming are exceptionally good. There is a long history of great musicians from Switzerland going way back to the early 70's and Katergon are no exception.

The title track "Endless Life" is very different from "I Am The Sea, " much heavier and more directly discordant. The raw, abrasive guitar work in combination with a harsher vocal performance makes this the stand-out track of the two. While "I Am The Sea" is a good track, it is very generic of many other bands but this title track has a very different vibe. At times it verges into the realms of bands like Tool while at other times it takes off into a Neurosis, Isis, Pelican direction. One thing is for sure you could never accuse this band of not being diverse. The two songs here both run close to 10 minutes each but both flow very well with no moments of unwanted musical padding. They another band on the "must keep an eye on list" but for now I am not too sure if this is something I will be going back to listen too much in the future but they should attract a good following in the next year or two, if not for their songs, for their stunning musicianship.................7/10
Katergon @ Myspace
Official Website

One final thought, if you head to their Myspace page there is a song called "An Old Mans Reflection," my favorite track by them, check that one out.

Black Oath - Portrait of the Dead 7"

Black Oath are a band from the occult-doom capital of the world at the moment, Italy. The band has been together since 2006 but only has this single, a self-titled EP and a split album with the rather obscure Tetramorphe Impure. to their name so far. The band follows in the tradition of other Italian occult-doom acts such as The Black, Death SS and Abysmal Grief but this band has a little more N.W.O.B.H.M injected into their sound on this single with features one original and a cover of the Alice Cooper classic "Second Coming." Its only 10 minutes of music in total but it is still worth getting even it is just for the great A3 sized poster that comes with the red and gold splattered vinyl.

The original track that takes up side one is  "Portrait of the Dead" and it comes from the Witchfinder General and Black Sabbath school of classic Doom Metal but what I really like about the song is you can hear the influences but they have put their own mark on the style as they don't really sound like anyone else. Musically the band is great but a couple of minutes into the track it gets a little predictable but in a very pleasing way I must say. Black Oath are a just a 3 piece but make full use of their sound as it sounds nice and chunky with no real emptiness within their grooves. With some trepidation, I turned it over to listen to one of my all time favorite Alice Cooper songs, "Second Coming" and I am more than pleased with what Black Oath have done with it. They put their own spin on the song without totally destroying the vibe of the original and that is a unique feat on its own, right there.

Of course hearing just one original from a band is hardly enough to make predictions for the future of the band but as a small taster, this is very impressive stuff. The good news is they will be releasing their debut full length in 2011 on Horror Records and I can't wait to hear what they come up with. Black Oath will be a band to look out for in the coming year, have a listen to them and tell me what you think of them...................8/10
Black Oath @ MySpace
Horror Records
Horror Records @ MySpace

Getting To The Heart Of The Drone - A Interview With Locrian

Aleks Evdokimov presents an interview with Chicago's Locrain, this is a "must-read" for fans of drone and experimental music. Enjoy and thank-you Aleks and Terence, Steven and Andre from Locrian......Ed

Q: Salute man! I’m very sorry for such huge delay, I hope that you understand – thank you for patience. It’s a bit strange but thinking out questions for you I suddenly have realized that I have done only one interview with a musician who play in a similar genre – it was Stijn van Cauter. So I afraid what we begin with is a very simple questions, what is Locrian about?

Terence:  Decay 

Steven: I agree with Terence.

André: Really too much to be summed up easily with words, I think that’s why we make music. It might mean a different thing to everyone in this band and to every listener. The best way to understand what we’re about is to see us live or play our releases, or look at our album artwork. What we’re about is all there.

Q: Sorry comrades but what does the band’s name mean? I may be wrong but it’s some musical term, isn’t it?

André: It’s a mode of the major scale.  It was banned by the church for a long time because it has a dissonant tone in it, and the church equated dissonance with evil. The mode got its name from an ancient Greek tribe.

Q: When and how did you gather together? Was Locrian a duet from beginning? As I’ve read there were only you and Terence in the band since the beginning but you welcomed also Steven Hess for your 3rd full length album “The Crystal World”.

Terence: Locrian was just André and I for about five years.  And after some collaboration with Andrew from Velnias on drums, and with other people like Blake Judd, Jeremy Lemos, Bruce Lamont and Mark Solotroff we knew we needed one more person on drums.  Steven fit the bill.

Steven: Thanks.

André: I’m going to disagree with Terence though on the idea that we were looking for a full-time drummer when Steven started playing with us. But Steven is really not just a drummer so I definitely was elated about the opportunity to play with him.  We’ve been a fan of Steven’s stuff for a long time so his input in this project has really helped us to push and expand our sound as well as explore new moods and dynamics.  I think that playing the kind of stuff that we do was/is really intuitive for Steven so it’s been really rewarding actually.  I think the trajectory we went in after “Territories” would have been limited if we were to play with most drummers.

When Terence and I started playing together we were friends and we wanted to start playing some more free form music, something not as constricting as the music that we’d played before that.

Q: How did the Locrian sound change with Steven's appearance? Ed (master mind of wrote that your compositions became “thicker” – so can you say the same?

Terence:  Before we were a lot looser. Steven adds a lot with not only is percussion but also his electronics too.  I think that is what really helped us.

André: I think we’re able to utilize new dynamics and textures.  Though we have drums, our songs aren’t really going to be straight-forward by any means.  I definitely think that we sound thicker than ever.  Our music is still bleak, but just in a different way now. Steven can play really direct stuff if he wants and it’s appropriate for what we’re going for, but he’s really just a great musician and adds a lot of great ideas.

Q; So that bleak sort of sound is the one that you really want to hear in Locrian songs? Drone music often has a tendency to become industrial sound – can you imagine yourself playing such harsh modern stuff with more noisy mechanical vibes?

André: It’s always a possibility.  I think that we’ve been working on some stuff lately that has somewhat of an industrial vibe, but I don’t think any of our music fits neatly into any categories.

Q: I must ask you about JG Ballard and his book “The Crystal World” which lies in a base of your CD. Man, well no one can guarantee that everyone who will listen your album will also read that book… Please tell us a few more words about that novel! You know that it’s a rare chance to see a drone band which compose album based on sci-fi book.

Terence:  I am a huge science fiction fan, and Ballard’s early work is so excellent.  The Crystal World is such a great approach to a tale about the beginning of a new phase of the world.  One where the world begins crystallizing all it touches.  Like a plague of leprosy, and a doctor is sent to investigate and also find some colleagues.  It’s very psychological and fantastic.  A beautiful book I think.

Q: Is this book as frightening as “The Crystal World” CD is? :-) If it’s so then it’s not necessary to read it for everyone who listened CD because they already know it’s subject very well.

Terence:  Well it is not a word for word interpretation, but the tone of this creeping apocalypse that is horrifying and beautiful really stood out to me.  We are probably a lot darker than the novel, I think what sets the novel apart is how Ballard describes light though crystals that have formed on homes, trees and animals solidifying them into this tableaux.

Q: Did you deliberately create your Crystal World album darker than original one of Ballard? I sometimes wonder - is it really worth of making things more obscure than they are?.. Some people like “dark” emotions and “dark” music as our real social life sometimes is very dark in itself.

André: If our album is darker than the book then I don’t think it was intentional on our part.  We’ve always been interested in creating work that makes sense, that tells a story, and that evokes some sort of feeling in us and hopefully the listener.

Terence: I think it is a dark book, very ominous, very beautiful on the surface yet this massive weight hangs over it.

Q: What is the composition “Triumph of Elimination” about? There is vocal lines… well… just screams in that track and I wonder why did you use voice in that certain song considering that rarely will anyone understand a word from it’s text, I must ask you about it.

Terence:  I was reading Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture and thought how evocative what he said was and how horrifying some of it could be if slightly disembodied from its source.  So I appropriated some phrases and came up with the lyrics.  The prison of the modern condition.

Q: And there’s a voices in “Obsidian Facades” too – does this song have important lyrics for understanding the album? Because you know – it’s quiet impossible to recognize any word.

Terence:  I think so, I wrote them, but yeah.  I think it is more about texture and like if you can make out lyrics or read them on the CD to me it is important.  I wanted them to be blasted out like the landscape I am describing, that fits the music too.

Q: Hm, how did you record those songs? Now I’m meaning in the process of transforming book’s ideas into music – not record session, because I wonder – are all of songs tided together or are they just separated visions of different parts of the novel?

Terence:  The album flows a certain way, from more electronic towards a more acoustic drone.  I think it has peaks and valleys and vistas.  It is similar to maybe your description of chapters.

Q: Was it difficult for you to express J.G. Ballard’s visions through your music? Did you ever think composing the tracks – “No, it couldn’t be like this. Crystallized jungle doesn’t look like that”!

Terence:  No, I think the title came later after we had been recording.  I had always wanted to refer to that novel.  And just the way the album kind of manifested itself really seemed to fit.  But I had referred to Ballard in the past; his novel Concrete Island was a huge influence on me, and The Drowned World too.  Obviously I love books like Crash and Running Wild.

Q: Can you name other sci-fi authors which influenced upon you?

André: I’m really interested in the twentieth century dystopian writers.  I would recommend people checking out the big names in this genre: H.G. Wells, Yvgeni Zamiatin, Aldous Huxly, George Orwell.

Steven: I personally don't read a whole lot of sci-fi these days, but those that I have read in the past have been: Philip K. Dick, Aldous Huxly, Orwell, Arthur C. Clarke, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, and Isaac Asimov.

Terence: Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, JG Ballard's earlier work obviously, Stanislaw Lem and perhaps the biggest for me is Samuel Delaney, I think Dhalgren is a masterpiece.  Certain books by Margaret Atwood are great, like Oryx and Crake.

Q: Drone with power electronics or noise – anyway you have to work very carefully with band’s sound in those cases trying not to fail with studio work and mastering. How long did you labour over recording new songs?

Terence:  We rarely did second takes, it was pretty straightforward.  We had a handful of ideas and live moments we wanted to distill in the studio.  So it was pretty brief.

Steven: Yeah, just a couple second takes, a handful of overdubs, and hours of mixing.

André: We really took our time with this recording.  We had booked studio time a few hours at a time sporadically for a month or two I think.  Yeah, some of our influences include power electronics, noise, and drone as well as a lot of other styles of music, but we don’t really let that limit what we do in the studio.  I think that the broadness of our musical tastes helps us in the studio more than anything because we aren’t limited by trying to fit into some ultra-specific musical category. It’s rather that we use our influences to evoke certain feelings.

Q: Do you play “The Crystal World” live? And which sorts of instruments do you use during live sets or rehearsal?

Terence:  Yep, we’re in the middle of translating more of it into the set now.  A lot of the tracks are contingent upon what we played.  I play a lot of keyboards and do all the vocals, and I use a combo of an ARP and Moog analog synthesizer, with some analog tape delays and reel-to-reel tapes.

Steven: Things are coming along well with the live versions of these songs. There are a couple of them that we still need to try playing in a live setting, but so far, so good.

As far as equipment/instruments I use drums, cymbals, sticks, a looper/sampler, and prerecorded cassettes (with my own material).

André: When we play these songs, I use my electric guitar, a contact microphone, and a bunch of pedals—the more important ones being a loop pedal, a delay pedal, some fuzz pedals, and an Exhoplex tape delay.  In the future, I might weave some different equipment into performing these songs though.

Q: What is this about a second part of “The Crystal World” release? Me and Ed have only the first CD, is second part ready?

Terence:  Yes it is ready, we can get you a copy.  That is one hour-long track, something we did in response to the first disc, and it interprets each track into a more movement-based composition.

André: We think of the first disc as the actual album and the second disc as something special that we plan to keep specific to the CD release.  We’d prefer that the second disc be kept as one continuous sound rather than breaking it up into two sides of an LP.  It’s less accessible than disc one, but I think the material is just as strong.

Q: Of course it would be nice to get second part of “The Crystal World”, but man what is a reason to record one long song? It’s harder to listen as one piece and I guess that it’s harder to compose one monolithic long track than few ones which are shorter…

André: I understand that a track that’s almost an hour long isn’t the most accessible thing, but the idea for the second disc was for it to mirror the feelings of the first disc.  I think of the second disc as an album on its own really.  I’m really happy with how the track turned out.

Q: What is your background? Where did you play before Locrian?
Terence:  André and I played with our wives in Unlucky Atlas, a more gothic-folk project, mainly acoustic.  I make a lot of visual art.

Steven: I played, and still perform with Haptic (Entr’acte, FSS), Ural Umbo (Utech), On (Type), and Pan American (Kranky).

André: I play all sorts of music though: metal, hardcore, experimental, I even play the fiddle.

Q: Is there any place for fiddle in Locrian? Fiddle could sound very disturbing and horrifying – so it fits to Locrian style.
André: Well, fiddling is essentially a folk-based way of playing the violin.  There’s a possibility that we’ll involve more violins in future releases, but I doubt that we’ll involve fiddle playing, but anything is possible.  I play the French Canadian fiddle and there’s actually at least one black metal band from Quebec that involves traditional Quebecois music.  My favorite is a band called Forteresse and they actually put a picture of my favorite Quebecois fiddler on one of their albums.  The fiddlers name was Joseph Allard and he was alive from the mid 1800s until about 1947.  I was totally surprised that someone else that played some sort of black metal was interested in the same kind of music that’s so different from black metal.
I’m really interested in the early Quebecois fiddle recordings and a lot of those sound really dark, but part of the reason they sound so dark may be the fact that they were recorded so primitively.  A lot of the stuff I’m interested in involves an element of drone, for example a lot of fiddlers will tune their fiddles so that there are certain strings that are constantly droning while the higher strings play the melody. I think it’s interesting how bands like Forteresse are putting this traditional folk music into new contexts, but I’m not super interested in doing so myself.

Q: Truly to say I have never explore the roots and past of drone very well, so I would be very much obliged if you introduce that genre a bit deeper for me and some of our readers.

Terence:  I would say Phil Niblock, Elaine Radigue and La Monte Young were early people to check out.  But I think you can also think of drone in many ways like with old American field songs, they were long and very repetitive.  Or religious chants.  But yeah like in the 1970s Klaus Schulze made some great records. I would say some great material recently is this guy Acre, completely amazing.  Vomir is harsh noise but it is like 60 minutes of unchanging static.  I love it.  The key album for when André and I started was the Fripp & Eno album “No Pussyfooting.”

Steven: This is a very tough question to answer, since “drone” dates back so far in musical history and there are many forms of “drone” in music – from vocal chants dating back thousands of years to Southeast Asian music, to modern compositions of the 50’s and 60’s to kids self-releasing tapes they recorded in their bedrooms using a wide array of musical instrumentation and various electronics to create drone. But to start out I would suggest the artists that Terence mentioned, but also Pauline Oliveros, Brian Eno, Main (aka Robert Hampson), Labradford, Tony Conrad, the first couple Earth releases, Thomas Köner, Deathprod, Eleh, Nortt, and Rosy Parlane.

André: I suggest checking out some of our contemporaries making drone music. We put out a tape for one of Chicago’s most underrated musicians: Neil Jendon.  He mainly plays modular synths and guitar.  He’s also got some releases out on Bloodlust!  I highly recommend any of his releases.  I’m also really enjoying Demian Johnston’s recent releases on the Dead Accents labels. I think his stuff is a good place to start too, especially for people who are more into more metallic drone.

Q: Can you name the most significant bands and events in the history of drone? I’m not meaning Locrian in itself now and date of release “The Crystal World” :-)

Terence:  The Theatre of Eternal Music was really important, and the Minimalist school of composers as well.  But again it’s hard because in a lot of religious music from around the world, and folk music too, you have drone instruments, like the bagpipe, or tambura.  Then you get to the synth based works of Tangerine Dream or something.  So it’s tough.

Steven: I guess my answer to the previous question works well for this one too.

André: I think you have drone based music in totally different parts of the world, and each scene kind of has its own important events and significant bands.  I think there are a ton of significant bands and events in the drone scene just in Chicago.  We’ve been involved with some great drone-based events in Chicago that were significant.  For example, we played the Matchitehew festival last year, which had a ton of great dark drone bands as well as some more straight-forward black metal bands.  Mark Solotroff’s Bloodlust! label has released a lot of Chicago based artists that I think are more influential including his own stuff (Intrinsic Action) dating back to the early 1980s.

Q: Where do you all live? What is this place? It’s funny but your music influence is strange to me,"The Crystal World”, I’m starting to think that you live right there – in that bloody crystal world… Though “Elevations and Depths” makes me sure that you’re from USA – it’s a fact. There is a bleakness which is similar to David Galas songs.

Terence:  Chicago, in Cook County, in the state of Illinois, in the United States. A part of North America, on the earth.  I do not want to live in the crystal world.

Steven: Chicago, IL. United States.

Q: That’s all for this time, thank you very much man for that interview and your patience. I wish you all the best, good luck! If you want to add something then it’s a right time!

Terence:  Thanks for the questions.
Interview by Aleks Evdokimov
Locrain @ Myspace

Nov 25, 2010

Adrift For Days - The Lunar Maria

There has a lot of talk around message boards of late about what country has the worlds leading Doom Metal acts and one name that doesn't come up much but should is "Australia." The Aussies might not have the most doom acts in the world but in terms of quality, they can't be beaten right at the moment. In fact off the top of my head I can not think of one sub-par doom band from the land down-under and if you want further proof of that country's ability at producing quality bands, look no further than Adrift For Days. Formed in Sydney in 2009, this five piece doesn't sound particularly Australian, not that many Aussie acts do anyway, they tend to build their sounds from a worldwide source blending in different facets of the Doom Metal spectrum. "Adrift For Days" could easily be at home in good old "Maryland, USA" or anywhere in "Europe," they have a multi-dimensional sound that doesn't tie itself to any particular country or scene. The band led by Lachlan R. Doomsdale ( I kid you not, that is his name or moniker ) is a powerhouse tight unit of musicians that have produced an album here that sounds more like a band of seasoned  doom veterans than a band still new and developing. This 70 minute monster of an album that features 7 songs, 4 of which extend way past the 10 minute barrier so this is a long, ambitious piece of work. The album is captivating, atmospheric and totally crushing but even more amazing is the mesmerizing arrangements to which these doom-sludge masterpieces are built upon.

Oozing its way out of speakers is the first installment of the album, "Bury All That's Chosen" which is one part Earth and another part Om because it starts off barely moving but constantly building up a feeling of tension and a kind of paranoia, it is creepy and hypnotic. After around 5 minutes, the flood gates are opened to a tidal wave of Sludge and Doom but what makes so damn intriguing is the musical variations they throw in along the way. Sometimes it has an almost bluesy edge, other times it is very psychedelic, at times they sound like Ufomammut, other times it heads into a Electric Wizard Stoner-Doom vibe. Whatever gear they get locked into, it is staggering musicianship on display and the large amount of hallucinogenic, mind-bending sections that effortlessly interweave throughout the piece is the stuff to raise goose-bumps and give you the chills. The 60's psychedelia vibe is all over this disc too, beautifully merging with doom and droning sections and despite being 15 minutes long, "Bury All That's Chosen" is a stunning way to start an album. After a short interlude comes the second track titled "Messages Through Sleep" which you can hear the band adding an even darker twist to their sound, this track has a Pink Floyd kind of dreamy vibe about it that gets disturbing and very twisted in parts and vocalist Mick Kaslik delivers a very mesmerizing vocal performance in this tune. Tune in and drop out as they said in the 60's and it is indeed a very heavy, dark take on psychedelia that makes you want to drop acid and float off in another dimension but you don't need the drugs, Adrift For Days does that work for you. The dreamy feeling is shattered eventually by haunting, anguished screams and some killer guitar hooks proving their skills at multi-layered, multi-dimensional atmospheric song-building. When it all comes to rest some 12 minutes later, they could have ended the album there and I would have been satisfied.

The shorter and straight-forward "The Leech" follows and it is where the band put blues, stoner-metal and psychedelic rock into a blender and pours it out in the form of a thrilling rock-fest. Even though this is still a 5 minute track, this tune seems incredibly short after the preceding two epics but I put that down to the infectious nature of the material. Mick Kaslik again proves he is a multi-talented vocalist with another variation on his vocal style. At times he is in the Phil Anselmo mold, other times he is like Al Cisneros but he also has many other strings to his bow that constantly pop up and amaze. Lachlan R. Doomsdale and Ron Prince are also a flawless guitar duo as they unleash improbable riffs and solos with immaculate ease and finesse. On bass you have the rock-steadiness of Matt Williams while on drums is Steve Kachoyan who delivers a remarkable solid performance throughout that is not overly flashy but incredibly solid laying down a perfect foundation for the rest of the band. Halfway into the album and you are met with a highlight of the album in "Within These Walls." While it is a case of the band on repeat to a certain degree, it is another mesmerizing effort lasting over 8 minutes and again using subtle musical variations to its maximum effectiveness. Adrift For Days does have a certain formula to most of their songs but when it is this good, why mess with it. Next up on the album is the longest track, Along The Moon River" that twists and turns for over 18 minutes. Here simple ideas are built into monumental moments of sludge meets psychedelia and drone ambience. The song seems to play itself as it naturally progresses with nothing sounding forced or thrown in just for the purpose of dragging it out for another few minutes of sonic self-indulgent drivel. It might be too expanded and long for some listeners but for me, I find it a totally engrossing piece of music.

The album ends on "Waveform Collapse" and it is appropriate way to finish up the album. It follows in the same bleak, doom meets psychedelic fashion but over-loaded with feedback and droning influences, it is kind of a predictable way to round out the album as many recordings seem to end this way but hell, it is still an absorbing track. This album may leave you asphyxiated and feeling slighty claustrophobic as this is a punishing way to spend 70 minutes but it is a one hell of a ride. The blend of crushing riffs, drones, and the psychedelic atmosphere is engaging and intriguing while the exquisite production perfectly enhances the dynamics within the bands songs. Fans of Ufomammut, Om, Sleep, Electric Wizard, Earth, Isis and even Sunn O))) will be hard press to find an album better than this with those kind of sonic capabilities but even other fans of Doom and Sludge Metal should find much to admire about "The Lunar Maria." The stumbling block will be the elongated running times of most of the songs and maybe they could have trimmed the fat here and there to make a bit more concise but I am not going to complain too much, this is a masterful piece of work...............9/10.
Adrift for Days @ Myspace
Buy The Album Here
Download It For Free Here

Druid Lord - Hymns for the Wicked

Fans of Acid Witch, Hooded Menace and other horror-death doom beware there is a new band to fire up your bubbling cauldron to, it is Druid Lord from Florida. As far as I am aware of this band has been around for a year or so, so there is not much history to be told except its band members backgrounds. Tony Blakk on vocals and bass came from such bands as Acheron, Apostasy, Diabolic, Serpent Son and Equinox, also ex-Acheron and Equinox is Pete Slate on guitar, his earlier bands also included Incubus, Abhorred Existence and Mythos and drummer Steve Spillers is also a ex-Equinox member. Druid Lord continue in the sickly tradition of bands like Acid Witch, Coffins, and Autopsy so you know what to expect but don't expect another run-of-the-mill horror-gore death-doom outfit, Druid Lord are one of the best bands I have heard in the genre. Musically it is pure simplicity most of the time but killer just the same, lyrically I will admit it is all a bit goofy but no more cheesy as any other band in the horror doom scene. All the typical trademarks are there, huge riffs that bleed slime and filth, spooky-sounding guitar solos and a strange kind of vocal that is closer to Death Metal than say Acid Witch but it is strangely basic for this kind of band, not much in the way of effects so they lack a certain atmosphere at times.

It is a short album, only 8 songs in about 35 minutes so there is not much chance of getting bored here and there is not much variation within the songs so a track by track analysis seems a bit pointless. All the songs are delivered drowning in a sea of putrid slime and pus and if that description didn't make you sick then this album is sure to make you feel a bit queasy. The pace of the songs walk a fine line between Doom Metal and old-school Thrash/Death Metal, nothing gets fast but they have a vintage Death Metal edge to most of their songs. Most of the songs chug along without getting plodding and there is some killer riffs along the way. Opening track "Chamber of Ghastly Horror"sets the pace and the tone for the rest of the album and this track is very infectious in a deranged kind of way. Of course their obsession is horror movies mostly from the 70's and 80's and the subject matter of their songs follows the path of that kind of gore and splatter. Sometimes though their lyrics are great, the last track titled "Circling of Vultures" is about a mortally wounded man bleeding to death and the thoughts that run through his mind while he lay there dying, lyrics like this one are dark and atmospheric, elsewhere though the lyrics range from the typical to pure cheese but like Acid Witch it is all good morbid fun.

While these horrid tales are kind of simple, there is still great flow to the album to override the basic nature of the songs but I do feel the songs do lack a couple of essential elements to put this above the ranks of other horror-doom acts. While other bands might use a creepy old organ to increase the eerie atmosphere, Druid Lord lack such embellishments so the album does seem to repeat the same formula and vibe repeatedly. They also add acoustic sections in a strange way as they seem to be placed at random without much thought, I could be totally wrong of course but they don't seem to enhance the songs in the way they should. These though are minor complaints on my part as this album still delivers a ghastly dose of crushing doom so I wouldn't dismiss the album just on these points of view. Along with the opening track, "Castle of Count Sadist", Baron Blood, Eerie Ways and the closing tune "Circling of Vultures" are killer tracks but the album as a whole is a total buzz to listen to all the way through. After Hooded Menace and Acid Witch, this band of crazies ranks a close third in the horror-doom stakes at the moment. If you are a sucker for this kind of sick and deranged death/doom, then this is required listening and you got to love the classic artwork this package features so that is another incentive to buy this disc. It's out on the Horror Pain Gore Death Productions label and they have always been a great and reliable source for this kind of brutal music and this is no exception. Make everyday Halloween with Druid Lord's "Hymns for the Wicked.".........8/10
Official MySpace
H.P.G.D. Productions
Druid Lord Interview

Hollow Leg - Instinct

Hollow Leg was created by just two guys from Jacksonville, Florida but I read they both grew up in Boston and that might explain in a small part why they manage to blend styles so easily on this 10 track monster they call "Instinct." Two man bands are fairly common these days but it is rare to hear a band like this that has such a full sound. Blending Stoner Metal with Doom and Sludge, hearing this band is like being hit over the head with a big bag of potatoes again and again. This has thicker than molasses pulverizing guitars and a vicious vocal attack but the magic is in the groove-laden riffs and the supreme songwriting that makes this album a no-brainer to listen to as track one to track ten flows effortlessly. For those who feel the need for reference points, Acid King, Dark Castle, Black Cobra, Olde Growth and Orange Goblin are just a few bands that spring to mind while listening to this but Hollow End don't need such comparisons, they stand out on their own all throughout this album. Musically most of it is chaotic with singer/guitarist Brent unleashing grit-filled riffs and horrifying vocals that at their cleanest sound still sound like crazy hardcore while at their most intense sound extreme metal without really sounding like anyone else. The bands strength though is in the solid songwriting and the super-tight performance the band delivers, that makes you drool with amazement.

Opening track "Caretaker" does a great job at delivering high-octane thick riffery that beats you over the head with chunky perfectionism and groove, so intense is this song that the 3 minutes literally feels like seconds. Second track "Shattered" switches gears from Stoner-Metal to a more doomy, sludge groove. It is heavy Stoner-Doom with a irresistible edge, while other bands plod, this band burns and this track is pure gold.  The more epic "The Return" has one of the more vicious vocal performances on the album with a voice that cuts into your eardrums while musically Hollow End unleash a tidal wave of raw but incredibly tight doom-laden, almost psychedelic ear-candy. The band keeps you on edge by mixing up the tempos on the album, keeping the intensity level at a premium and "The Return" is one of the major highlights of the "Instinct" album. The "Dark Castle" reference I made earlier becomes even stronger on the tune titled "The Source" as I believe it features Stevie Floyd from that band making a guest appearance. This tune is also a highlight as it builds from very calm to absolutely face-peeling madness. This song can crack the ribs at high volumes, so you have been warned.

"Bacchus" gets locked into a mid-tempo heavy grinding riff and gets even more infectious the longer it goes on, this band are masters at making tunes with the ideal head banging tempo and this tune is a classic example of pure groove-metal. Like I mentioned before, the band switch tempos and riffs very regularly and nothing original there but when you have killer riff after killer riff like Hollow Leg has it makes you wonder where do they get them all from ? "Nothing Left" gets quiet for all of the two seconds of its intro before kicking you to the floor once again with another succession of titanic riffing and raspy, nasty vocal screeching. This track has a spoken-word sample in the middle before launching into its second half where the tune just gets even heavier and doomier. "Spit In The Fire" gets the groove into overdrive with a hypnotic, mesmerizing riff and has a wonderful chorus that sounds angry yet melodic at the same time. "Warbeast" is one of the best examples here of a band truly on fire, the apocalyptic vibe of the main riff coupled with a ever-building atmospheric arrangement that seems to get more unhinged as the song progresses. Its one of the longer tracks but again with the constant switching of riffs and tempos, the tune never loses its strength or power of the groove.

"Grace" is in your face heavy with more infectious chunky guitar work. Musically if you took away the heavy factor, these songs would be like classic anthemic rock-songs. The songs have that kind of "classic" 70's rock feel but played with a modern, heavier than a Mack truck sound. It is still Stoner Metal, Doom Metal and Sludge but these songs are written like quality Hard Rock songs not just a wall of sonic-noise. The last track here titled "Wayside" finishes off the album with an instrumental that blends all the elements of the bands sound into the one stream of sonic fury. Starting slowly and atmospheric, it launches into the cosmos with a powerfully tight psychedelic vibe and is a solid way to finish what is close to a flawless album. "Instinct" is one of those albums that gets better and better the further you get into the album, not that there is anything wrong with the album's opening tracks. Even better is that this album is available from their Bandcamp page so if you don't get there and grab a download, you seriously need help. This is essential listening for 2010 and without a doubt one of the best albums of the year, like I have already said, this thing burns. Recorded by Jeff McLear and Scott Angelocus with additional vocals from Stevie Floyd, Scott Angelocus and Jarad Weston, this is a professional, well-rounded album with exceptional production of the highest quality and should NOT be missed...........9.5/10
Hollow Leg @ Bandcamp - Download The Album Here
Hollow Leg @ Myspace

Nov 24, 2010

Magnus Pelander - S/T

Magnus Pelander  (formerly of Norrsken) formed Witchcraft in 2000 in order to record a tribute to Pentagram's Bobby Liebling and Roky Erickson. The "No Angel or Demon" single was released in 2002 by Primitive Art Records which caught the ear of Lee Dorrian's label Rise Above Records, who quickly signed them. After the release of their debut album in 2004, they quickly became popular due to their vintage seventies-esque sound. "Firewood," their second album was released in 2005 followed by "The Alchemist" in 2007. They are a band that has certainly divided the doom, stoner underground scene, simply put some people adore them while others hate them with a passion but either way, it is hard to hard to argue about their authentic 70' rock feel which ranges from proto-doom to prog-rock to a more commercial hard-rock style. My take on the band is pretty well-known, I have always thought their first album was great and have been on a terminal nose-dive ever since. Musically I feel they are way more impressive live than they are in the studio as their records have always sounded horribly thin compared to live performances. So there you go, I have laid my cards on the table and now you know where I stand on Magnus Pelander and Witchcraft. This album under the spotlight here is not a Witchcraft, album so I listened to this album for the first with a total open-mind hoping for something a little different and to hear another side of Magnus Pelander. Was I rewarded, well the answer is yes and no.

This is the debut solo recording from Witchcraft  frontman Magnus Pelander, a 4 track EP. What you get here is what could be described as a "folk" version of Witchcraft and it is mostly acoustic and mostly extremely mellow. His distinctive voice is here of course along with his trademark brand of psychedelic song-writing. What first grabbed my attention is musically this is pretty intricate for a recording so folksy. On the EP Magnus plays 6 string acoustic guitar, some electric, plus drums and percussion while a good friend known only as Mike here plays 6 and 12 steel string acoustic guitars, piano, bass, percussion, and is charge of the arrangements. This duo has already played live together, most notably at the Roadburn Festival. Psychedelic and melancholic, this album isn't too far from this man's day job but displays his love for folk-rock and the singer / songwriters from the 60's and 70's better than Witchcraft ever has as they have always tended to go off on a prog-rock tangent especially on the "Alchemist" album with its 15 minute title track. Opening the EP is "A Sinner's Child" that is pretty close to a "Black Sabbath" kind of ballad along the lines of the classic "Solitude" track. Featuring the lyric, "I am a sinner’s child / you better wait a while / before you take my hand / can you see Satan smile," this song is in line with Witchcraft's and their occult-rock leanings. The song features a female backing vocal and is very atmospheric, one track in and it's so far so good.

"Hope" is far more intimate with a beginning consisting of just piano and a vocal. As the track builds however you are treated to some very impressive guitar work that I guess you could call "heavy-folk." It is very obvious from listening to this tune that these two players have a magical chemistry happening as they unleash some fine guitar licks. The closest they get to heavy happens on the third track titled "You Have Got No Friends to Turn to" as Magnus brings out the electric guitar for some plodding riffs and some wild psychedelic lead solo's. If this was on a Witchcraft album it would be regarded by now as one of the bands strongest tunes. Even though it still has the acoustic folksy going, it is the most infectious rocking track on the EP and my personal favorite of the four tunes. The last and the longest track is also the most melancholic, titled "Stardust," it is the most prog-like of all the songs with different movements, strings and piano parts. After just 20 or so minutes, it's over and out and it leaved me very impressed. We all need something mellow once in a while and this serves that need very nicely. It didn't make me a bigger Witchcraft fan but it certainly gave me a stronger appreciation of Magnus Pelander's talents as a guitarist, singer and songwriter which was a pleasant surprise for me. The only other acoustic album of note this year was Wino's recent release and that beats this by a nose and nothing more. This is a great EP that is perfect for late-night listening and would make great early morning hangover music so check it out.............8/10
Witchcraft @ Myspace

Nov 23, 2010

Wooden Stake - Vampire Plague Exorcism

I’m back again with a doom band fronted by a charming lady.

But you know you have to beware of charming ladies, eh eh …

Band Wooden Stake is actually a vicious duo based in Texas, USA, including the said lady, Vanessa (Nocera) on amazing vocals and bass, and Wayne (Sarantopoulos) on guitar, drums and, minor, keyboards.

Well, while listening to the tunes contained in Wooden Stake’s debut mini-CD, Vampire Plague Exorcism (2010), I started rolling all over the floor, exactly like a vampire stabbed to death by a wooden stake! So amazingly cool …

The name, and the logo, of the band stems exactly from this, the pole employed as the traditional weapon for killing vampires by staking them through their heart. The genre covered by the band is a mixture of traditional heavy doom and occult horror rock lead by Vanessa’s peculiar and charming voice.

The band is absolutely new, so there are not many news about it on the net.

However Vanessa and Wayne are far from being new to the underground metal panorama. They both play in the US death-black-thrash metal band Scaremaker, that released one of the best death metal albums of 2010 (for those who like the genre, me for example …). But this is not enough because Wayne is better known as Elektrokutioner, a flashing name for the filthiest death metal around: Decrepitaph, Encoffination, Father Befouled ... Wow!

As I am a fan of Elektrokutioner’s nasty musical output, I should have run across this creature before, for example while playing around with cross-references in Metal Archives. On the contrary I must confess I stumbled into Wooden Stake by chance by surfing in the cursed blogosphere.

Vanessa and Wayne are very busy in working on the new album right in these days, but Vanessa was so kind to interact with me a bit. So this writing is a hybrid thing, an album review mixed with a preliminary, “sort of” interview. But a serious one will come when the work on the new album will be completed.

According to Wooden Stake’s hellish duo, their music is intended to evoke images and sensations inspired by vintage horror movies and anything creepy, preferably set in a moorland and in a dark and foggy ambiance: “decrepit castles, old and forgotten cemeteries, decaying mausoleums, crumbling tombstones, Waldemar Daninsky, werewolves howling at full moons, the Blind Dead ghost ship rising up from under the sea, Paul Naschy films, the films of Hammer and Amicus, the amazing Dracula films of Christopher Lee, all other great Euro-horror from the 60's and 70's, haunted asylums, witchcraft, sorcery, alchemy, black pools of blood, skulls scattered across desolate graveyards, etc.”. Well, basically what you need for a sinister imaginative doooooom soundtrack ...

Mini album Vampire Plague Exorcism is a far too short soundtrack, although it was sufficient to hook me to this band helplessly. The mini-album includes a short intro and an outro, in pure horror movie-style, and three tracks of scary, occult horror doom dripping pure groove and graced by some truly great, haunting vocals by Vanessa.

The short intro, Sepulchral Awakening, has the whole collection of sounds and effects expected for old-style horror movies: a gravely sounding bell, stormy winds, howling wolves … It should make you scared but actually it is far too exaggerate and makes me think that Vanessa and Wayne like their humour. They intend to create expectation like those exaggerate trailers of the old horror movies, where not much was actually seen to happen (not like the butchery in some modern horror movies) but atmosphere was the key. And, as in the best doom tunes, here you’ve got loads of atmosphere …

The second, substantial track, Stalking In The Shadowland (over 7 minutes), takes you in full doom action. A slow, heavy start lead by the distorted guitar sounds and the impressive pummelling drums give the pace like in a funeral march.

The rhythm of this second track is rather slow and oppressive, very much “Sabbathian”, heavy gloomy doom “by the rules”, although there are occasional accelerations laden with much groove.

In this track, as in the rest of the album, vocals and drums are recorded in sort of background mode relative to guitars. It may sound like an imperfection if you like clean sounds, but it actually helps in creating a distinct retro atmosphere and imparts an additional slight effect of echo, like being listening to the band in a hollow place (dark, hollow place, like a crypt, of course …).

Vanessa’s voice is peculiar: it is indeed very melodious, quite warm and full, but when melody prevails it doesn’t dilute or add any bit of sugar to the overall sinister sound. Vanessa gets the most varied shades from her poliedric voice and even deforms it in sweet to definitely and incredibly nasty growls, like in the second and third track (I actually thought the deeper growls were uttered by Wayne…). The haunted voice of a “demonic banshee” …

Wooden Stake
It seems almost obvious to think about the official doom goddess Jex Thoth when it comes to female-fronted doom metal bands. But in case of Wooden Stake, Vanessa’s style is different, and that’s cool, as it contributes in distinguishing the band and enriching the panorama. Vanessa said to me that she has so varied sources of inspiration for her singing in general, but she has been singing and growling, and playing music, since before she could really speak, haha!

Vocals are often doubled with superposition of slightly decoupled sung and spoken parts and the spoken parts seem to softly repeat some sorts of formulas or prayer as in a ritual ceremony.

Going back to the mini CD, the third track, “13 Condemned”, is shorter, almost 5 minutes, is faster and lead by a beating rhythm. This track most closely reminds me Pentagram both for the slightly dissonant vocal style, the groovy melodies, the coupling of vocals and drumming in the faster parts. There’s a minor but charming, or I should say, scary, addition of some grave growled singing to the slow chanted intervals.

The + 4 minutes-long fourth track, Forbidden Oath, sees more of extreme variations in the vocals but what stikes of this track is the massive, irresistible groove lead by downtuned and fuzzy guitar that dominates all the other components of sound, vocals and drumming. This is pure Pentagram groove as well … Actually this is the track from where Wooden Stake started to exist. Vanessa told me that Wayne sent her the core of the track and she was “conquered”! Here are Vanessa’s words:

“(Wayne) sent a track to me that was pure DOOM and I knew right away I could work with this. (That track being "Forbidden Oath"). I wrote some lyrics, learned the bass parts, and I laid down the track in one night. As far as going into the direction of a DOOM band, it interested me because it was a chance for me to write a different style of lyrics and focus on different vocal styles.”

The fifth and last track, the almost 2 minutes long A Passing Lament, is a melancholic outro which ends with a tail of solemn religious chants and the sound of a storm.

The overall style of Wooden Stake’s heavy doom is markedly vintage, retro-sounding, for the sinister tunes, the vocals and the production. Guitar riffs are rather simple but absolutely hooking and “fat”. The drumming parts, along with the vocals, are especially worth of note. They are pummelling but the dominance of the cymbal sounds give a sort of “light” touch. Wayne’s drumming has a distinct old-school flavour which contributes to the precious retro sound in Wooden Stake. The drumming is powerful, when not hammering, even if it doesn't build up a cacophony of noise and even when it is slow. It is sounding like "ritual" to me and beautifully contribuites to the sinister atmosphere of the sound. It’s actually the same “old-school” flavour lingering onto Scaremaker’s faster, death-thrash tracks, and makes you feel the sweat behind the beat.

More than a word is to be spent about the production of the sound in this debut album, where, as previously mentioned, the chanted parts and the drumming are recorded with a background effect relative to the guitar work. This way of producing/mixing sounds has actually the result of enhancing, or even making the focal components of Wooden Stake's music, i.e.,vocals and drumming, stand out even if they emerge from the background.

Vanessa’s comment on the album’s production, cured by the band members themselves, was full of enthusiasm: “I personally love the sound of this band and the sound of the recordings that we have done. It really gives it a raw, vintage sound and I think it stands out on its own. I can't really think of anything it sounds like, even when I think about older bands, it doesn't mimic anything I've heard.” I cannot but agree!

Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Pentagram, Saint Vitus and Electric Wizard are to be taken as overall sources of inspiration, if not obliged references, in Wooden Stake’s style. However to me the tunes absolutely recall Pentagram and Saint Vitus as the tunes are drenched with loads of retro-groove. Wooden Stake share heaviness and obscurity with the heavy doom monsters, but I can grasp a certain “easy-going” attitude of style and up-beat and very groovy melodies that I find particularly well expressed in Pentagram. This is my opinion, of course.

So I found Wooden Stake’s irresistible style eerie and obscure but also extremely catchy and, well, this was a sort of surprise, especially if I was thinking about the nature of the other musical projects of the musicians involved. But Vanessa confirmed that Black Sabbath were actually her entrée into heavy music in general, and something similar was expressed by Wayne in a recent interview: entering straight into the most extreme genres of metal, jumping off completely the “normal”, mainstream rock, but getting a life-long imprint of doooom and groooove from Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Motörhead …

The mini-CD Vampire Plague Exorcism was released (in limited edition) by Hexamorphosis Productions, a sub-label of Razorback Records in late September 2010.

Wooden Stake shares an incredibly productive attitude with the bands in which both Vanessa and Wayne are involved. So Wooden Stake was not just an experiment diverting the couple temporarily from the death metal-oriented musical activity. Actually Vanessa, who has the attitude of the people who give themselves a thousand percent in what they do, confirmed that she had a great time working on this band and really exploring her vocal abilities. Therefore the hellish duo has a few more goodies about to come out!

The upcoming releases, on which the couple is actively working, are the "Invoke the Ageless Witch" 7" EP, which will be out on Sarlacc Productions, and the full-length album "Dungeon Prayers and Tombyard Serenades" which will be released on Razorback Recordings.

Two more releases are in program, a split 7" EP with Blizaro (label to be announced) and a split 7" EP with Druid Lord (Altsphere Records).

I’ve listened to the new tracks posted on myspace for the coming album and from what I’ve heard I have the feeling the new output will be heavier. My impression has been confirmed by Vanessa. The new release will be a little heavier and the lyrics as well will be a little darker and more grizzly. So Wooden Stake is really going through a metamorphosis as far as gaining a more dynamic sound and getting a little deeper with the lyrical content.

Well, I can’t wait! …………………………………………………………………9/10

Review by Marilena Moroni
Wooden Stake @ Myspace
Razorback Records
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