Jun 30, 2011

Wreck of the Hesperus - Light Rotting Out ...

I’ve been a fan of Ireland’s 'Wreck of the Hesperus' brand of funeral dirge since I first heard their 2006 opus 'The Sunken Threshold' and while their output since has been a little disappointing, I am glad to say they are back, sicker but more sophisticated and atmospheric than they have ever been before. This album comes in an interesting package; it is presented in A5-cardboard sleeve containing 3 beautiful graphic art cards that represent each track on the album. The only words I can think of to describe 'Light Rotting Out' is otherworldly and surreal. They still sound like a very pissed-off Thergothon or a doomed-out Burzum or Darkthrone but this album unleashes a complex array of emotions through blackened ambiance and raw, sludgy doom that is thicker than molasses syrup.

What makes Wreck of the Hesperus a unique band in the doom scene it is what they don't do and don't play that makes them great. Their silences, pauses, starts and stops really makes this album the engaging, tormented experience that it is. The music keeps you guessing and keeps you on the edge of insanity for all of its 40 minutes. Starting with 'Kill Monument' the band stumbles along like a wounded mammoth, lurching with ominous mutated notes and eerie rhythms. They have an industrial, ambient edge but there is also hints of free-form jazz and even cinematic soundtrack music but mostly this is raw, filthy funeral sludge that is ugly, angry and monotonous but it still keeps my attention despite is repetitive bleakness.

Throughout the opening track then 'Cess Pit People' and the two-part 'Holy Rheum' sounds, noises, chants and strange instrumentation appear and constantly interrupt the flow but it mostly all works in adding to the horrific atmosphere of impending gloom. The only mis-step is some sax parts which sound a little out-of-place but apart from that, the arrangements are as mesmerizing and interesting as they are disturbing. Of course there is monster riffs of doom but the real outstanding element here is the drumming which is simply incredible. It is rare to have a band playing tempos at about the speed of a slug but still have a busy drummer in the band but that is the case with Wreck of the Hesperus's Ray Keenaghan, this guy is always doing something behind the kit whether it be interesting drum patterns ( that have more in common with jazz than doom-metal ) or just intriguing cymbal work.

This album wont be for everyone of course, it is a harrowing extreme album with extremely long extended pieces. 'Holy Rheum' drags on for 22 minutes of morose-doom for example so if you like tunes that are straight to the point, you might want to bypass this album. However, being the sick puppy that I am and having a taste for de-structured, ambient doom, I have to say I am quite taken with 'Light Rotting Out.' In the world of funeral-doom, this is really about as ambitious as it gets. The style is not renown for being adventurous but Wreck of the Hesperus are really stretching themselves on this album while still maintaining the funeral-doom traditions. If you are a fan of the aural slime then the quality and atmosphere of 'Light Rotting Out' should satisfy......8.5/10

Wreck of the Hesperus @ Myspace

In Times Of Solitude - New Solitude Aeturnus Comp ...

Massacre Records has set a July 15 release date for a new compilation from Texas doom metal veterans SOLITUDE AETURNUS. Entitled "In Times Of Solitude", it features "demos, early days footage and rare tracks," according to a press release.

A song from the collection, "It Came Upon One Night", is now available for streaming on the Massacre Records MySpace page

"In Times Of Solitude" track listing:

01. It Came Upon One Night
02. Transcending Sentinels
03. Into Battle
04. Sojourner
05. Where Angels Dare To Tread
06. Rememberance Of A Life
07. And Justice For All
08. Sojourner
09. Mirror Of Sorrow

SOLITUDE AETURNUS's latest album, "Alone", was released in November 2006 through Massacre Records. The CD was recorded at Nomad Studios in Carrolton, Texas with Sterling Winfield (PANTERA) and J.T. Longoria (KING DIAMOND) sharing engineering duties.

Draconian - Where Lovers Mourn ...

Draconian is a curious entity in that they seemingly came from out of nowhere into the spot light after a few surprisingly high quality releases. This band has an uncanny way of blending Doom, Death, Gothic & Black into a highly original sound that they completely own. This release is perhaps the "blackest" of the bands proper releases.

The production is good enough for the songs within. The guitars have a very Black Metal feel to them opting for more opened chorded/single noted passages then the crunch the band would later use. They are a surprisingly epic yet incredibly melancholic. There are no solos but the leads are solid and misery filled. They only accentuate the sorrow in the lyrics.

The bass more or less follows the guitars and drums but it does sound good all the same. The drums are more or less standard Goth/Doom patterns, but they do work well with the material. The keyboards add to the vibrant atmosphere and help with the backbone of the guitar dirges. The lyrics are more typical for the style, about love and loss with a poem thrown in for good measure.

The vocals from both singers are brilliant. The male vocals go from spoken word to more mid-ranged Blackish howls to guttural Death Metal growls. The female vocals are vibrant and sharp. Lisa Johnson is by far a stand out singer and certainly one of the best female vocalists in the Metal field today. Her vocals add a more drastic yet tasteful contrast to what has become one of the more played out trademarks in underground Metal.

Overall the only complaints about this album are that after the halfway mark some of the songs start to blend together. That and that Lisa isn’t featured more prominently. Aside from these, this is a very good début album from an up and coming Goth/Doom Metal band and if you’re into the more romantic side of said style then this is a must. Highly recommended. This gets an 8/10.

Review Written By Grimdoom

Official Homepage

Jun 29, 2011

Orchid's Black Funeral - No Need To Say More ...

ENJOY ....

Bongs For Satan - A Interview With Kamni ..

Aleks is back to hoping to introduce Kamni to a wider audience with this great interview. They are a great stoner/doom band and if you like Electric Wizard, Sleep, YOB, Ufomammut, then they are essential listening. Thanks to Aleks and Pavel from the band for getting this together....Read On ....

Q: Hi Kamni! Who is on-line?

-Hail, it’s Pavel!

Q: Well, hi Pavel! What is current line up of the band? Is it stable enough? And I will not ask you to show me your health certificate!

-I play on guitar and provide vocals, Andres is on bass, Ruslan is on drums and we have a new member –second guitarist Den. Everything is pretty stable, just trying to be in touch with each other.

Q: Kamni has only one release (though at the moment of publication they have released an second EP), let us talk about it – how long did you spend composing that stuff?

-It appeared in a half of a year since we started rehearsing.

Q: Oh, so you worked out such great melodies in very brief period, accept my sincere congratulations! Did you already have concrete ideas when you go into studio or was it only improvisation?

-Well, Bong Of Satan was ready was ready for recording, the other tracks were finished during the record.

Q: What did you aim for when recording these songs?

-We just wanted to play gigs and that worked.

Q: This is first interview of Kamni, am I right? Then I just can ask you to tell us something about band’s foundation and etc. From where did “Stones” fall?

-There is nothing unusual, I knew Ruslan for about six months, we played in another band. I suggested him to play stoner, but we needed a bassist and found Andres through the Internet. He turned out to be a big fan of doom, stoner, sludge, also likes Neurosis etc. We began rehearsing, made Bong of Satan, it’s our first track, then recorded a EP and began playing gigs. We’ve recruited a second guitarist recently.

Q: Where did you dig out that distorted sample in “Intro”? There’s a television anchorman tells some funny things about Ozzy.

-That’s a famous video, the TV-show ‘Vremya’ (“Vremya” is an only news TV-show in USSR of 70s) from 1972. The narrator says really ridiculous propaganda bullshit, that’s why we decided to make a sample.

Q: So that man told that Ozzy was (well, it was 1972) already distorted and insane, of course it was a very bad example of Soviet boys and girls… But don’t you think that it’s true and his sanity is under question indeed?

-Ozzy’s sanity is quite more normal, than average people have.

Q: There were words about “violence and obscurantism” in your “Intro”, is it said about your own vision of music?

-Violence and obscurantism is about all human civilization, I guess.

Q: Ha, the answer is fitting! Here we go – your song “Bong of Satan” sounds really powerful and groovy, and there’re a bunch of good riffs anyway, but true to say I see this track only as a tribute to Doom Cult traditions. Didn’t you ever think to enrich the genre with some new ideas?

-Yeah, Bong Of Satan is some kind of a prank. It’s really hard to bring anything new within this genre, that’s why more likely we are tying to find our own sound and our own face.

Q: The band’s name Kamni is written in Cyrillic (?????), but why don’t you use Russian lyrics in your songs?

-Yes, the band’s name is written in Cyrillic. We had an idea to make lyrics in Russian, but it didn’t work. Russian is not an easy language to write the lyrics in.

Q: Did any Russian bands ever inspire you? I still wonder how would Kamni sound with Russian lyrics about vodka instead weed and other hangover deviltry…

-Well, Andres and Den both don’t listen to Russian music at all. Andres is a huge snob and he really likes only sludge, doom, black metal and so on.

Personally I like some genres in Russian music and listen to many bands.

-By the way your drummer is a fan of hip-hop and other heretical stuff, does his manner of playing add something special to Kamni? I remember American Enoch which CD was released on R.A.I.G. records, and their drummer really kicks ass! The man makes Enoch’s sound very special indeed!

-He is interested in gospel, maybe it gives something special to us, but in my opinion our sound is standard.

Q: Man, what is track “1947” about?

-Do you know s about the crash of a UFO in Roswell back in 1947? There’s an American hoax film about it, where aliens are disemboweled and have their intestines explored. And the track is about that shit, about a guy who believes in that.

Q: So do you think what it was just a fake?! As it was when they were flying to the Moon and back?!

-Exactly like the Moonshot.

Q: What’s the hell!! But well… As I know Kamni work with new stuff planning to record full-length album, what is a current state of your record session? How many ttracks will be included in LP?

-We are not working on a LP. Currently we are recording a new EP, and the presentation will be in Mantra Music Club in Moscow, on 24 of June. We’re hardly pressed for time, but as far as I can see we’ll make everything on time.

Q: And how will the new stuff sound? Can you say that it will be some psychedelic relaxing material as in your track “Sun Inside” or will there be more harsh and hard doom as into “Repatriation of God”?

-You’ll hear it yourself)

Q: And this answer isn’t fitting at all! Lay your cards on the table, man! You have nothing to hide!

-Okay, psychedelic rock, doom, meditation. We’ll print DIY stuff because we want to have our music released on CDs as fast as we can. The tracks, also will be uploaded to the internet, but after the presentation.

Q: What did drive you to compose instrumental track “Sun Inside”? I was feeling it’s vibes very well when we share few portions of vodka with my comrade after hard working day.

-Obviously, I had that riff and we decided to finish our record with a calm psychedelic track.

Q: What is the best to do listening your music – to drink, to dope, to pump iron in gym?

-To fuck chicks.

Q: Well, maybe… Okay, Kamni got quite positive – I’d rather say enthusiastic – reviews, let’s take for example stonerrock.ru or even doommantia.com (Hi Ed! How are you?). so don’t you feel a bit giddy? Why am I asking this? I know some bands who getting few good responses after their first release and have their nose bloody high in the air. I do not sure that Kamni are one of such swelled heads, but let us clear this situation!

-Hah, are we supposed to be overproud bastards?) A couple of reviews on the Internet doesn’t make us more professional, talented or anything. We are just trying to make music as good as we can, we just fucking play what we like. It’s really cool to see people coming to your gigs, that is real feedback from the listeners.

Q: Indeed I do not think so, I was meaning mmm… 3 concrete bands but let us don’t sound their names. I would like to hear your point of view – are there really original stoner/sludge doom bands in Russia? Bring it on dude!

-We are more impressed by Ukrainian scene, the guys there play just awesome! Mozergush live show was a killer. Being a totally underground band they are very serious about music they make. The persons in the band are charismatic like no one in any Moscow band. Both Snakerider and Stoned Jesus are cool too (Hail, Igor!). Also there is a good band BOMG from Monastyrische, formed by a father and his son playing heavy stoner doom in the vein of Electric Wizard. To tell the truth, we want to make a fest of Russian and Ukrainian doom, sludge and related genres in Moscow, but the main problem are the finances.

Q: But similar gigs have a place in Moscow time to time, is it too difficult to call few bands from abroad to play at one stage?

-We know guys from other bands and it’s cool to hang out with them, but the music from the most Russian not defunct stoner- doom- post metal and so on bands didn’t impress us very much. There are cool projects, but they are not active and do not play gigs. Anyway, we are glad to communicate with all guys from Moscow gang. The only releases we wait for is a LP from The Moon Mistress (Moscow) and a EP from Bone Machinist (Saint Petersburg).

But, personally I often go out to see Stone Cold Boys gigs with great pleasure, they play really cool despite they are quite different sub genre.

Q: Ok, I’ll be waiting for gig of Kamni in Saint-Petersburg, come here and play your new songs! That’s all for this time, do you have few final words of wisdom to enlighten our readers?

-Thank you for interesting questions, we’ll come to Saint Petersburg as we’ll have chance to play a gig there! Hail to all guys out there who listen our music and support our gigs!

Do not shoot up, do not smoke-

Better go and pray to God!

Interview By Aleks Evdokimov ( Metal Library )

Kamni @ Myspace

Check out the new EP “A.T.O.M. - Here

Threefold Law – Revenant ...

When I started writing about Revenant, the beautiful new album by Cleveland (Ohio) band Threefold Law I had only said album and the early, raw demo launched by Planetfuzz some time ago.

Both releases are cool but, in spite of some obvious traits-d’union, they seem to be done by somehow different bands.

I was in need of the missing link, the two MMX EPs.

And I got hold of the EPs via the band’s imaginative and clever website where the band has created a cool system for their self-managed merchandise.

As stated in the band’s own biography, Threefold Law rose from the ashes of a previous band called Burning River in 2006 and started developing their style under the influence of classic and present-day heavy, doom metal and stoner/desert rock masters, i.e. Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Trouble, Pentagram, Cathedral, Down, Corrosion of Conformity, plus tons of heavy music and rock absorbed during the youth years.

Surely there are many bands sharing these premises and fortunately many of them are able to deliver some great tunes which are “faithful to the line” and personal at the same time, and, in any case, quite enjoyable..

Threefold Law’s music is heavy and drenched with some great melodies and groove, and all this come from the ability of the musicians in this band to create familiar but diverse, raw to dark or even dreamy soundscapes in the heavy doom/stoner desert hybrid genre. Also the name of the band, Threefold Law, fits to among the dearest themes for doom, like ancient beliefs in pagan religions like Wicca.

So it is good fun.

As it is the case of many metal releases, the band’s lyrical themes want to “tell a story” and, as he band states, are devoted to “expose the frailty of the human condition”.

The MMX EPs, which were released in early 2011, marked an energic approach of the band to the doom-stoner panorama. The two separated EPs, The Rede and The Burning Time were released together. Only one of the two tracks of the early demo is included in this double release, the powerful Killer of the Sultan, now in EP The Burning Time.

The two EPs sum up a substantial amount of tunes distributed into nine varied, heavy, catchy songs.

The two EPs are slightly different from one another. The Rede EP is somehow heavier and rawer but the sounds are layered and have more depth than those in EP The Burning Time, which sound slightly flatter.

Dynamics, vocals and great riffs and long jammings of the double guitars and a cool bass are definitely the trademarks of the band and what links the two EPs together from the musical viewpoint. In these EPs the drumming, although powerful, is maybe slightly suffering from the production which has privileged the strings.

The vocals are cool, quite “metal”, aggressive, sludgy, they spit rage, and in some instances remind me of a mixture between early Corrosion of Conformity and young angry James Hetfield’s tone in early Metallica. During both EPs the vocals don’t change in style.

The guitar sounds are quite rich and are probably better showing the potentials of this band. The leading heavy catchy riff sequences in the first part of the songs convoy to some great and often long and polyhedric jamming between guitars and bass, with oscillation between the dark atmospheres of doom heaviness and almost psychedelic dreamy escapes also thanks to some pedal effects. The aggressive vocal parts mostly occupy the energic riff shots between the jammings and surely further impart dynamics to the overall sounds.

Especially during these long jammings the band’s guys also develop that balanced bit of “experimentation” that helps the band in departing from too predictable beaten paths.

Also one feels the musicians are really having the greatest time while jamming. And it may be like that as these jammings are still present, if not dominant, in the new, debut full-length album, Revenant.

The new album is therefore the “third” release and so it sort of follows the concept of the “threefold law” (or “law of return”), which is basically the Wiccan belief that (thanks, Wikipedia) states that whatever energy a person puts out into the world, be it positive or negative, will be returned to that person three times. In Wicca this would also be indicated as “karma”.

This stream of ideas stemming right from the band’s name is further stressed by the primordial, epic feeling one gets by reading the names of four of the five tracks in album Revenant: Earth, Air, Fire and Water, with Air and Fire separated by an instrumental, exotic interlude.

Earth, Air, Fire and Water, the basic elements of the world especially according to the ancient philosophers, from the classic Greek culture down to ancient Persia. As a matter of fact, according to a recent interview at The Soda Shop, the main ispirer of this album for the band’s frontman and mastermind, James Thorn, have been the delightfully witty but also profund poems (quatrains) by Persian matematician/philosopher/poet Omar Khayyam.

Here is the story told in this album:

“A man traveling alone through the desert in fourth century Persia realizes he may not reach the next kingdom alive. He sets up camp and eats the last of his rations. Before going to sleep, he smokes a pipe of hashish. Unsure whether he is asleep or awake, the man is visited by the spirit of a dead Sultan. The two engage in conversation as the man attempts to find out what lies beyond life.” (from the band’s official website).

One would expect that the epic feelings induced by these titles would be developed by some either oppressive monumental or ethereal music styles where human presence has no sense or place. But no.

As in Khayyam’s style, where human universal concepts are dealt with via the description of human frailties, terrestrial joys and the appreciation of the “laws of nature” as rulers of phenomena in life, Threefold Law come back with their genuine, heavy doom-stoner style and describe the “high concepts” in their way, with their mighty juicy, solid riffs and the guitar jammings found before. There is a difference with what heard before, though, the vocal parts.

The topics announced by the song titles are sonically developed via some quite different styles adopted by the band. As expected the first song “Earth” and the fourth song “Fire” are heavy, “earthy”, solid doom-stoner raaaawk quite similar to the previous releases and carrying the angry vocal style. In Fire the angry vocals remind of Fu-Manchu half-spoken slogans but made angry. In these tracks the mountain is building up, the fire grows and devours everything, pummeling riffs are needed.

When the “concept” is “light” also the sounds and the melodies become light: psychedelia enters rather powerfully into the leading doom backgrounds and the vocal style gets soft, and the resulting “ambience” recalls the light-minded atmospheres of desert rock. And it makes sense as the desert, like the ocean or a mountain, is a raw, basic environment with powerful effects on the human mind.

And here comes the long-lived band’s guys affection for Kyuss …

The second, “soft” vocal style occurring in tracks Air and Water is provided by the drummer who replaces James Thorn’s harsh vocals and adds a cool element of surprise to this varied and dynamic album.

A nice thing in the final track Water is the final part where the intro riff is recalled to “close the story”, so a track that starts “light” develops towards some cool doomy heaviness. Nice!

What is still present and beautifully developed from the previous releases are the long guitar/bass jammings, where doom heaviness is blended with bluesy and psychedelic groove. And these jammings are one of the things I like most of this band’s style.

Production is surely improved in this album and also better renders the drummer’s efforts and contribution.

What I would just add as criticism for the production, for me at least, is about the sound of the guitars in the main riffs outside the jamming parts: I would like them to sound even heavier, deeper or better more fuzzy or rawer, a bit more aggressive.

This album may sound apparently “easy” and I guess that one careless listening would miss the subtleties and shades of Threefold Law’s sound.

I’ve listened to Revenant several times and it constantly grew. It is beautiful. I wouldn’t call this album as a “maturity” album as I have the feeling that this still unsigned, highly endowed band has much more potential for further development. So I am sure that we’ll hear more great tunes by these cats. 8.75/10

Review by Marilena Moroni

Official Website

Threefold Law @ Facebook

Lunar Dust - Full Moon Blues ...

Lunar Dust is one of the promising newcomers to the desert rock scene even though their music sounds like it has come 15 years too late but they are a very good band with very good tunes and you can't complain about that. This power trio was formed in Milan, Italy 2009, after a decade or so of playing around in various bands in the Italian underground hard-rock scene.  They play in the classic, traditional stoner/desert and 70's rock style but pay special attention to melodies and great vocals. One of the main influences is obviously Kyuss and Dozer but they have a psychedelic edge to some of the passages as well. The stoner-rock sound they have is more 70's hard-rock based than the average stoner band, in fact some of it reminded me of bands such as Cactus, Grand Funk Railroad and even Humble Pie's heaviest moments.

The album takes you a groovy journey of fat fuzzy riffs and ear-catching melodies with some down-tuned doom-laden moments also thrown into the mix. Throughout the albums eight tracks, you get tunes that while are not life-changing, they are incredibly solid and this album is fiercely consistent so it is hard to pick out good versus bad tracks, all the tunes here are very good. The album opener 'Firewall' doesn't try to re-invent anything but it still manages to kick some major ass through a wall of high-octane riffing and thick grooves. The following track titled 'Silent Deepness' is where the band sound most comfortable as it has a very authentic early 70's American raw hard rock vibe that is similar to a lot of the American hard rock of the day, imagine if Kyuss had of existed in 1971..( got it? ) .. then they might have sounded like this.

'Beware The Cactus' is instrumental stoner-metal at its most inflammable with some scorching riffing and driving power but above all else, it showcases the bands finesse at its instrumentation as there is some very elegant musicianship on display here. The next two tracks push the album in a more mediocre direction. 'And Never Fall Down' and 'Mekong Delta' are still good tracks but are not as memorable as the others but still this album moves along at a solid pace of quality, passionate hard rock workouts. 'Crimson Eyes' is the most commercially assessable tune but it still has the grooves to make this perfect 'cruising down the highway' music. The album ends on 'Heavy Rains' and 'Stereotype' with the latter being the pick of the two tracks.

The thing about Lunar Dust is if you have followed the stoner/desert scene since its inception then this album will sound a little too familer, too predictable and generic. Block all that music from your mind however and this is a total winner so that is what it comes down to, if you want something original or unique then this isn't an album you should be looking at buying but if you want some genuine kick-ass hard rock with infectious grooves, melodies and riffage then this is a no-brainer. For fans of Dozer, Honcho and of course Kyuss.... 8/10

Lunar Dust @ Myspace

Cemetery of Scream - Prelude to a Sentimental Journey ...

Starting life as a Doom/Death act, Cemetery of Scream did as so many others have done and added Gothic Metal elements to their already original formula. This was both good and bad, as they became even more unique on one hand yet less heavy on the other. On this, the bands fifth recording, they shifted gears once again. The production is thin but it works well enough for the band to get their ideas across. The guitars aren't very heavy at all but they do flow well. The leads and solos are simplistic but effective all the same. The guitars sound as if they are tuned to standard and are a bit tinny in the mix. They are mostly epic and somewhat ponderous while remaining oddly upbeat. The bass does its own thing here and there but mostly follows either the guitars or drums.

The drums are executed flawlessly and keep things interesting for the most part. The keyboards add the atmosphere when the rest of the instruments are rocking out. They are mostly background but sound good. The vocals are interesting to say the least. The singer has apparently lost some of his deathly prowess, as his growls seem forced compared to the bands older offerings. His cleans are heavily accented but this doesn't detract from the music. He, when singing, has a mid to low rage croon and its very forced and awkward sounding at times.

This is a concept album that has random speaking parts in between to help push the story along. This is a problem since one, they are random and two, the bands grasp of English is questionable. The music is fun; lively and rocking with a definitive Latin feel to it (that surprisingly works well). The vibe is somber to expressive, while seemingly holding back in some places. It’s hard to not headbang to this album. This album gets a 7/10.

Review Written By Grimdoom

Official Website

Jun 28, 2011

Heavy Glow – Midnight Moan ...

Back in 2010, the début EP of Heavy Glow appeared out of nowhere and it impressed me greatly. The band combined classic rock, modern blues, grunge, stoner rock with some tasty riffs and wild solos.  The band seemed to be trying to recreate the Hendrix, Cream vibe and they came pretty close to doing just that but with a modern twist. Now with a new album out, they seem to still have the blues but with a more Deep Purple-ish feel this time around but with a distinct southern rock flavour. Now I know I will get some flak for this but I think this album is a disappointment despite some great smokin guitar work and some strong grooves. There is three main issues I have with this album so I will get them out-of-the-way first before moving onto what is good about 'Midnight Moan' and I must stress the point that many people will still find this to be a good album but I don't think it's as great as it should have been.

Problem number one; The production sounds seriously flat on this release and the vocals seem to be mixed way too loud and that brings me to problem number two. The vocals of Jared Mullin are frustrating to listen to, on the one hand Mullin has an incredible range and power but on this album he tends to sing every song in the same range which seems to be a pure waste of his talent. There is also the lyrics and melodies that also bring about monotony. Some songs especially in 'All My Money' the chorus is repeated over and over again and it is all done in the same, bland vocal range with no emotional dynamics at all.

Problem number three is more of a personal thing but I feel the modernized guitar-sound doesn't suit the bluesy style they are presenting, it just isn't the right blend to me so I am constantly thinking, this would be much better if it sounded more organic and vintage. Anyway these issues are up for debate and I can see people typing away furiously right now because I am sure many folks wont agree with me but there you go, my 2 cents worth.

Now the good news, this album has a few great psychedelic hooks to draw you in. Opening track 'Lose My Mind' is a short, heavy psych stomper with great riffage and it is really the only time on the album where the vocals seem to have some emotional depth to them. The following 'Slave Dance' is even better, it is a slower, groove-based track with incredible hooks and great guitar work especially the screaming solo. Sadly these are the best two tracks on the album as the rest of the disc doesn't have anything that rises to the same standards except for just one track and you have to wait till the final cut before you can hear that one. 'Today Is Technicolor (One Step Closer)' is a trippy kind of track but very commercial-sounding and a little banal, sorry but I call it as I hear it. 'All My Money' is the most infectious track on the album at first but is ruined by the repeating chorus that I talked about earlier. 'Collide' is more up-tempo but still very much within the psychedelic blues frame-work. This track is decent and a lot of fun - certainly one of the better tracks on  the album.

The southern rock vibe really pops up in the next tune, 'Purgatory Blues' but it comes and goes in just 3 minutes of pretty forgettable southern twang. 'Smithereen' is an acoustic track where they rely on the vocals to drive the song, big mistake in my opinion and that fades into a short instrumental track, 'Midwestern Lullaby' which is pleasant enough and that is all I can say on that. The album then ends on 'Diggin’ a Ditch' which gets the album well and truly back on track with a semi-epic powerhouse heavy-riff driven track full of attitude and power. If the whole album was as good as this track and the opening two tunes, this album would right up there with the best albums of the year and that is even with the average production.

Again, I set my expectations too high with this album and expected way too much from this talented band. It is mostly my fault and I gladly admit that but when I heard the 'The Filth and the Fury' EP, I genuinely thought this band would come up with something truly monumental and I think they failed in more ways than one. It is still way above average in the musicianship department but with only 3 great tracks, 2 decent ones and 4 instantly forgettable numbers, the score-card isn't looking too great. I strongly recommend though you head to their Bandcamp page and check them out yourself, I mean what the hell do I know anyway but I can't rate this any higher than a 5/10 and even that is me being generous........

Heavy Glow @ Bandcamp

The Grand Astoria - Caesar Enters The Palace Of Doom News ...

On July 19 THE GRAND ASTORIA's new 7 inch will be released via Berlin based Setalight records. Limited tour edition! Check it out now at Bandcamp! This extremely hard working band keeps the hits coming...

The Grand Astoria @ Bandcamp

Umbra Nihil - Gnoia ...

In a world where it's all been done before, it's not only refreshing to hear something from out of left field but surprising. Umbra Nihil has got to be one of the most original and intriguingly strange bands in existence. Firmly rooted in the Doom Metal field they're take on the style music is simply something EVERYONE should hear/experience. The production is good but a little thin, this only adds to the weird and haunting songs within. It sounds as if it was recorded on a slightly higher end “home recording” device. The guitars are heavy with more than a fair amount of melody to balance it out. The lead and rhythm guitars wander around each other in some very unique ways. There is only one solo but lots of leads. The chord structures/patterns this band use are very unique. The atmosphere they created is odd and creepy, almost otherworldly in its presentation.

The bass is excellent and only adds to the darkness the guitars create. The drums sound programmed with a few screw-ups here and there. The vocals go from clean to grim periodically. There are also some whispers thrown in. This is so different from anything you've ever heard its astounding. The moods in this album are varied and go from dark and evil to light and somewhat jovial. The underlying vibe is spooky and bizarre without coming off as cheesy. This is something that every Metallian should own on the merits that it’s highly original and odd as hell. Incredibly recommended. This gets an 8/10.

Review Written By Grimdoom

Umbra Nihil Official
Umbra Nihil @ MySpace

Lavagoat - S/T ...

My first thought when pressing play on this full-length album from Saskatoon's Lavagoat was, is this the same band that release that rather ordinary demo two or so years ago. Apparently it is and so this album comes as a total surprise and goes way beyond any expectations I had for it. I always thought they had potential but I wasn't expecting this. Lavagoat have become a sludge-doom outfit with some real backbone and dare I say....soul. The band obviously have a diverse range of influences and that certainly has proven to be a bonus for them when composing these tracks as these tunes cross over everything from Black Sabbath, Trouble to Mastodon to Eyehategod and really everything else in-between. This is a diverse, multi-dimensional album that pummel's the listener from start to finish but it is not just riffs for the sake of heavy riffs, there is some real substance to the tracks.

The first time I heard the album opener, 'The Puritan' I thought this is the kind of stuff that Cathedral should be put out for their final release due next year. Not only does it sound a bit like the classic stoner, proggy, doom that Cathedral do best but the vocals too have a similar vibe about them and it sounds equally as mystical. One of the bands strongpoints is that the vocals are shared by bassist Sean and guitarist Graeme and all band members also share writing duties. Yes, Lavagoat are real heavy but there is a million heavy bands out there so what makes this anything different? Well for a start, the band never get locked into a single groove or formula for too long, these songs move, swing, gallop and plod at different times throughout the album and they do it with crushing force to spare. These songs are kind of complex for what they are but have enough subtle passages to keep it a meandering, psychedelic experience. 'The Puritan' along with 'Magma' and 'The Witch' are all Cathedral-esque in as much as it is stoner-metal, doom and sludge that is meddling with prog-rock clichés. These 3 songs are highlights but Lavagoat have many more tricks up their collective sleeves.

'Old Man and the Sea' is more traditionally metallic with blackened harsh growls and a faster approach to guitar riffing. Same can be said for 'The House' which like 'Old Man and the Sea' is great but definitely generic and derivative of many other bands, luckily they do it with enough infectious metallic clout to make it memorable. 'Rome' is one of the albums most doomed-out moments especially in the tunes first half, the track then veers off into a more traditional stoner-metal direction but the sound is thicker than molasses and is a perfect lead-in to a track I have already mentioned titled 'The Witch.' Lavagoat have a certain Lovecraftian edge that is interwoven throughout the album, no more so than on 'Interstellar Deserts / Azathoth' that references one of the known gods right there in the title. This almost 8 minute instrumental is Lavagoat at their most diverse as this track showcases all the different styles, moods and grooves that this album has all within the one track. As a composition, it is not exactly mind-blowing but it still shows the listener that these guys are great players and are more than capable of producing sonic-bliss.

The albums last track and a major highlight for me is 'Cursed Emperor' which gallops along with extraordinary drumming and the main riff to the tune is pure gold. Again you can be excessively concerned with critical or inconsequential details about how it is predictable and you can prognosticate about how memorable this album will be in the long-term but for now, I am digging the hell out this album. Don't make the mistake that I did and simply play it once and pass it off as 'just another stoner-doom release.' It is generic in parts but there is many dynamics and subtleties to Lavagoat that you can't hear from just one listen. The more you listen, the more music comes out of this album. But, I also have to say they are capable of much better and I have heard they are working on a new album called 'Monoliths of Mars' that should blow this one away. This album is indeed a stepping-stone to far greater things but for now, this is good enough. Buy it.........8.5/10

Lavagoat on Facebook
Somnambulist Sound System

Borracho – Splitting Sky ...

I actually have the Soda Shop to thank this discovery. A short while ago, I stumbled upon this Washington DC stoner rock quartet (who also advertised doom influences) who promptly reminded me through three songs why I love stoner rock so much. They had this one song on an Adam West split, and two demo tracks, no proper album. After June 28th, they have their début, “Splitting Sky.” And that I finished this review on June 28th gives a whole new meaning to the word “fate.”

Now, I’ll be honest with you, I expected this album to be good, judging by how well their released material was, even with the rather humble production levels. But I never, ever expected the album to be THIS good. To re-iterate, the Borracho sound is all about fat, fuzzy tones, grooves and slithering solos, thundering bass, throaty vocals and stoner vibes. One thing, though, is that most of the time, the guitar work can be described as “playful” and I will use that adjective a lot. One thing I will say now, however, before we go on: I usually prefer the briefer, faster, stomper-laden side of stoner rock, and as such, this album took a lot of getting used to – but, one thing I can say is that during the longer pieces, the transitions are amongst the smoothest I’ve seen and no matter what song you’re on, you know that it’s Borracho you’re listening to and nothing else (see note). Now, without further ado:

The album kicks of with “Redemption”, which is a cool instrumental opener that introduces the Borracho tune, but the point of the song isn’t that – it is rather to lay groundwork to make the transition into “Concentric Circles.” The song has been revised, of course, since Borracho’s demo days and is a little glossier, little faster and all the more addictive. It’s a stomper full of infectious grooves and hard rock-style guitar work. Next up is the slower, groovier and frankly, sleazier “Bloodsucker” which is a playful, slick tune laid on top of rumbling, fat guitars. It has the smoothest of transitions between just groovin’ and churning out riffs. It has an amazing solo section where the guitars literally duke it out between stable passages and taking different kinds of stabs – there are literally alternating solos fired on all cylinders, one after another, which culminates in a very good finish.

Then comes “Grab the Reigns”, another mid-tempo groove-fest that lays it on just as efficiently as before, before kicking it up a notch or two and springing into action, in which case the more technical chord progressions are dropped in favor of some stoner rock action before bringing it back again and rolling on. But the bridge back to the initial riff kinda takes a little too long in my opinion, but it’s good nonetheless. Following that is “All in Play” the addictive, slithering, grooving masterpiece of a song. The thing that marks this as one of the best on the album is it’s play with shifting gears – you see, early on, in repeating passages, a small, faster riff is played but only as a transition measure, but the band decides to follow that little piece and go all out on it and make their way from that riff on out. Genius.

Next up is the revised and elongated “Never Get it Right” which now features an interesting intro: it’s softer, features acoustic guitars and is bleaker and a little bit more bittersweet. It wouldn’t be out-of-place in a Flight of Sleipnir album, but then comes the real song that is the polar opposite: thundering bass, playful riffs as well as simple yet effective ones, and the song is every bit as great as it was before, if not more so. It stomps, it broods, it shouts and is one hell of a ride. Then comes “Grinder” which features the crowd-pleaser cowbell and alternates between slower ‘verses’ and other parts, which are faster – not stomper-level fast, but faster. It’s Borracho to it’s very bones, has everything that the band has going for them, and has it in spades. It’s a hard-hitting, grooving, lumbering, stoner rock that’s heavy on the rock and light on the stoner.

The album comes to a close with the eleven-minute “Plunge.” It’s a brooding, grooving, chill-out, slow drug song with the lyrics written from the perspective of the drug. It’s basically made out of two sections, the initial part eases us into the tunes and the riffs before this start-stop instrumental passage, followed by the second, more churning second part. This all culminates in a wonderful finish passage, where the band gives a whole new meaning to “slow.”

What is most definitely clear aside from all of that, is the fact that Borracho has come up with one hell of a début, and if this first effort is any indication, they are destined to bring us more infectious grooves and recognizably original pieces in the future. I would prefer more stompers alongside the mid- or low-tempo songs, but I can’t complain about the results in any case. For now, suffice to say that “Splitting Sky” gets a 9/10 from me.

NOTE: One of my most important criterion is that a band has to be shaped like itself beyond all influences that made the sound of that band what it is. A band has to harbor an identity of its own, while understandably sounding like one of their influences – that delicate balance is wherein identity rests, and Borracho has it in spades. Oh, and that 1.0 was because mid-tempo songs get too stacked against one another at one point.

Review Written By Sarp Esin

Borracho @ Bandcamp

Jun 27, 2011

Whitehorse - Progression ...

Whitehorse from my old home-town of Melbourne, Australia features former and current members of Love Like...Electrocution, Mr. Hyde and the Jeckyls, Terror Firma, Breeds There a Man and True Radical Miracle and have churned out sonic blasts of doom for longer than most people realize. Their début self-titled album released in 2007 was a masterpiece that received 100% and 10 out of 10's in reviews all over the world including from yours truly. Why then, this band hasn't reached 'legend' status is beyond me but I will move on. This new album is called 'Progression' but is it really progression? In many respects, I feel the band has actually gone backwards at least in terms of style. The self-titled album was unique within the genre they played but this album is closer to sounding like many other bands in the death, doom, sludge, drone-metal genre of music. Despite all that, this album is still a head-splitting album of agonizing and drawn-out doom. Only 5 songs that still manage to take up 38 minutes but this is a painfully short release and that is disappointing.

While this album is closer to generic death-doom than anything they have done before, they still blend in sounds reminiscent of Khanate, Neurosis, Swans, Winter, Sons of Otis, Ramesses, The Dead, Spinewrench, Coffins, and the funeral doom of bands such as Evoken.

That is a fairly wide range of sounds and styles and that is exactly what Whitehorse is like as nothing is too obvious but there is hardly any big surprises either. 'Mechanical Disintegration' is the opening track and I guess you could call it psychedelic bluesy sludge played to the sound of volcanic eruptions. There is an underlying industrial vibe going on through the track as they use a lot of off-the-wall strange noises to add to the bleak cold atmosphere of the piece. There is the odd hint of melody but there is basically a 'dead' vibe to this. The first element that I noticed that was different between this and earlier works is there is less droning passages which gives this a more traditional death-doom vibe, not a bad thing in itself but it does take away some of the band's original uniqueness.

The title track 'Progression' follows in a similar vein and there is not much to say about this track except it is extreme oppressive doom but nothing too spectacular by Whitehorse standards. The next track however titled 'Remains Unknown' is a red-hot smoking slab of stomach-churning corrosive doom-metal that lasts for over 10 torture-filled minutes. The rumbling bass, tribal slow drumming and the overwhelming atmosphere of sheer nothingness or emptiness is hypnotic. It is completely derivative of many other bands in the genre which is something that brings this album down in my view but it is still a mesmerizing example of how to do it. 'Control, Annihilate' is the albums shortest track and is also the albums most forgettable track. It is not a complete dud but it has a thrown-together to fill up time on the album kind of feel about it. This track and the title track are straight-forward death-doom tracks that sound like they are holding themselves back somehow. The songs threaten to go hog-wild at any moment but they are always pulled back in at the last second.

The album ends though on another winner, 'Time Worn Regression' which is Whitehorse at their very best. The elephantine riffing, the guttural growls and screams of torture dig away at your brain for nearly 10 exhausting minutes. There is also a bubbling, kind of churning noise in the background that seems to be waiting to spew out of the speakers at any moment, that moment never comes but it creates a certain extra tension to this track. So what you finish up getting is 'Remains Unknown' and 'Time Worn Regression' which are two essential tracks from Whitehorse that make this album still worthy of a place in your CD collection. The rest of the album is average though and I hate to say that because I am a huge fan of this band. The fact that the album is fairly subdued means it requires some memorable passages to keep it interesting, sadly it doesn't have too many of those. I am also a little worried that the band may be trying to attract a more alternative audience for their music and I may be 100% wrong but something about this is suggests they are moving into a more mainstream direction. However this album which is more like a EP really is a good introduction to the band if you have never heard them before. Buy this first and head back into their past and more extreme catalog of doom-works. Yes I am disappointed in this album but considering how great their self-titled album was, maybe I raised my expectations too high........7/10

Whitehorse Official
Whitehorse @ Facebook
Whitehorse @ Bandcamp
Whitehorse @ BlogSpot.com

Jun 26, 2011

Barn Burner - Bangers II: Scum of the Earth ...

Montreal’s Barn Burner released their début album, 'Bangers', two years ago which was an album that had decent songs but with ordinary production. No production woes this time around though, the sound on this is great. The band has been given the 'stoner-metal' tag rather unfairly in my view, sure there is a High On Fire and The Sword-ish kind of riffing going on but there is equal amounts of good old-headbanging metal that is not too far removed from early Iron Maiden so simply lumping them into the stoner category is a bit wrong. The 'stoner-metal' tag is given because Barn Burner has got glorious fuzzy guitars and retro power-chords a-la a Fu Manchu but their approach to my ears at least seems more metal than the usual riff-rocking band. The first thing I must say is, this band is a lot of fun from the get-go. I mean check out that cover-art for a start. 'Bangers II: Scum of the Earth' is a blend of good-old vintage riffage and feel good anthemic rock cranked up to 10 that seems to be designed to be listen to while either driving down the highway at 100 MPH or while extremely intoxicated.

The main difference between this album and their début is the increase in doomy, meaty riffage. This is not a doom album by any stretch of the imagination but the guitar has got a more sinister edge to it this time around. The album kicks off with 'Scum Of The Earth' that has a sick and twisted riff and old-school metal intensity that wouldn't sound out-of-place on any number of early 80's metal albums. This tune gallops along at a frenzied pace but when it's all over, is not exactly memorable, it is actually too generic to have any long-lasting impact. Luckily for us, the album best tracks are yet to come. 'Dark Side Of The Barn' is the first sign on the album that the band has indeed improved as musicians and composers. This track has crushing bottom-end but is extremely catchy and the song even breaks out some really interesting surprises in its second-half. It is not rocket-science by any means but it is a fine balance between intriguing riffage and vintage doom-tinged rock. The following 'Gate Creeper' continues in the dark metal vein but doesn't really offer up anything too remarkable but its final section is at least different featuring haunting keys.

'Keg Stand And Deliver' I gather is supposed to be some-kind of party tune but seems like sub-par filler material to me. I know a lot of people dig this track but sorry, I don't share their enthusiasm. 'The Earth's Crust' and 'Quest for the Cube' both have some good chugging moments without bringing anything new to the table but if you like The Sword and even Wolfmother these songs should get your head nodding. This middle part of the album is a bit weak to my ears I must say, no bad at all but instantly forgettable. However, the album bounces back with the next tune titled 'Brother Fear' which doesn't exactly break the formula any but it is at least charismatic and interesting. 'Skid Marks The Spot' has a funny title that may seem a bit goofy but this is strangely one of the albums more mature-sounding tracks. The following 'Crushing Defeat' is the best track on the album for my money, it is slower with a more interesting progressive edge and this where Barn Burner is at their peak in my opinion. The album then ends on 'Ghost Jam' which can only be described as hardcore-punk metal blues. It is decent but a disappointing way to finish the album in light of the very good track that precedes it.

So Barn Burner is fuzz-rock, stoner-ish but with the emphasis on head-banging tunes. They are good musicians and vocalist Kevin Keegan has a great voice but it still comes back to the tunes and this album is too up-and-down for my liking. The slower passages stand-out as being the albums high-points but the faster, more frenzied moments don't seem to have any substance to them and therefore are fairly forgettable. The album does sound great when played loud and certainly has its fair share of blow-your-hair back intensity but overall lacks that vital element to make it memorable. Having stigmatized the band with my ranting then, I must also say that many people will dig this album and I recommend it to fans of 80's metal and 90's stoner-rock but my advice is sample a few tracks before buying. If you are like me, you might find it mediocre and unbalanced......6/10

Barn Burner @ MySpace

Zebulon Pike - Space Is the Corpse Of Time ...

One of the greatest thing about the Heavy Rock scene is how it seems to constantly defeat expectations and produce albums that still manage to surprise me, while never completely steering away from its deep roots which are in the love for riffs and heaviness. Zebulon Pike are a perfect example of that attitude. The band has gotten smarter and more gere defeating with each album and seems to reach a powerful peak with this one, their fourth opus. Their sound is undeniably heavy, with guitars that are chugging along like massive walls of concrete, a big bass and loud drumming. And yet, they seem to float through all this spectre of emotions and moods through their songs. Think of a mixture between the style of Kylesa, Mastodon, Baroness, Pelican, Isis and the progressive insanity of later King Crimson or Don Caballero. If that seems difficult, just think of instrumental heaviness with guitars that are downtuned and skull crushing and with a big, gnarly low-end, but also love to go for spacey trips into improvisational insanity. All on top of a rhythmic session that seems to be sprawling like a weird ink blot.

While the album is far from easy to digest, it rewards repeated listening. Beneath the thick, cold layer of distortion and sonic assault, there's tons of hypnotic shades to it. It's tough but takes you to another place, while never forgetting to hit you with neck snapping moments of metal.
Definitely recommended.

Review Written By Andrea Contanzo

Zebulon Pike Official

Note; Sorry for the small cover image, it is all I could find - Ed

Until Death Overtakes Me – Symphony III ...

It's safe to say that driving while listening to UDOM is a bad idea. Lying down and listening to this is also out of the question. This album can and will put you to sleep, especially if you’re on any medication that causes somnolence. With that being said, this is one hell of a record for the rest of us with any real attention span.

The title of this album "Monolith" is nothing short of apt. This is a large, monolithic beast that hits you will wall after wall of misery-drenched sound.

The production is surprisingly good. This really doesn't have much if anything in common with its predecessor 'Prelude to Monolith', which was good but suffered greatly from garbage production.

The guitars are thick and continuous. Droning on and on with each not held until the sustain is but a faint memory. Only open chorded, they let you know rather quickly (or slowly in this instance) what the sound of heavy truly is. The bass is a bit buried but when heard adds to the already dirge happy guitars. The drums are much more involved than on the prior release but still maintain a small presence. The keyboards simply engulf each track giving all four offerings an oppressive yet approachable atmosphere.

The vocals are almost an after thought and are seemingly under the music. They sound like a mixture of whispers/chants and growls.

The music is in the same vein as all UDOM releases in that its beyond slow and very minimalistic. This isn't something you "rock out" too. It's very deep and ponderous music that will leave you writhing on the floor of a dark room in agony while reaching out for the solace of a spent candle. So much is displayed with so little it’s hard to completely describe it. The music is both soothing and soul crushing.

This is a very original piece of music not only in the Funeral Doom field but Metal in general. This is highly recommended for anyone who digs painfully slow music and/or wants to try something very, very different. This gets a 9/10

Review Written By Grimdoom

Until Death Overtakes Me Official

Jun 25, 2011

Ideosphere – Black Hole Transmissions ...

As part of my post-mortem Sludge Swamp (R.I.P.) dig (or “Sludge Swamp Legacy Series” if you want to get epic), I stumbled across this very interesting, very underrated and by-and-large awesome band. It suits the rightfully-deserved fame of the Swamp and deserves our attention.

Now, first thing’s first: Ideosphere is a four-piece band from New Jersey who play retro rock with heavily pronounced psychedelic, and more nuanced doom influences. There are other stuff in there as well, as these genre-benders also have a touch of progressive rock in their blend, and they have taste enough to remove all that is superfluous about prog rock and keep all the functional, good parts. They do also possess a slight bluesy feel, but all those influence-labels are watering down the actuality that they just have awesome, if retro-sounding, music. The songs are usually centered around “central riffs” and usually lead to spacey, bluesy, psychedelic passages and drawn-out solos that lull you in; along with quirky bass lines and quite delicious drumming. Add to that the fact that the lyrics always tell self-contained little stories, and you’ve got a winning combination.

The ride starts off with “Murgatroyd to Heavens” and while the Yogi Bear reference may throw you off at first glance, don’t fret, it’s an incredible starter and displays what the band’s capable of right from the start. It’s a pure-bred rock number with a catchy riff for an opener, a heavier chorus and overall playful, impressive use of melody and riffs. Then, it hits a bridge part where the band displays psychedelic skill and inclination, with a keyboard-laden sound scape setting the backdrop for a very nice, groovy solo. The band follows that up with “F.O.G. (Fear of God)” which is where they wear their doom influence on their sleeve and hold it up so we can see it. Also making an appearance is a very real space rock influence in the keyboards. The guitars are heavier and groovier, and the whole thing leads up to a section wherein subtle and melodic passages are overlaid with a speech (done in a Southern accent to boot) about damnation is delivered. Both cheesy and incredibly effective.

Next up is “Bad Bob”, about a biker kid, aptly named Bob and his misadventures. It’s a fun biker song if I ever heard one, with hard rock and blues influences displayed by the dozen. It starts out like a creepy, atmospheric, brooding piece but quickly gains that desert vibe. It lumbers on, all groovy and chillin’, until suddenly “Bad Bob welcomes us all to hell” and the band pulls out all stops on the rock and the prog. It’s incredible the way it shifts gears and drags you with it. But all skill and beauty there aside, then comes the real high point. “Complicated” is one of the easier songs on the album, as it stands out from the first few chords of the riff and never let's go. It’s bass and keyboard verses to harder-hitting, doomier and slower choruses are incredible, and it’s one of the best songs ever, let alone one of the best songs on the album. The main riff is catchy as all hell and it WILL get stuck in your head, but it serves to lull you into a sense of security (false) until the band suddenly kicks into prog-rock gear and polishes the hard-hitting passage with a skillful solo before returning to the base of the song. Incredible. Next comes the most evanescent song of the album, however, titled “Fantasma.” It’s a drawn-out, ballad-like song that always flies over my head at every listen. It’s by no means inadequate, and in fact it’s a nice track on its own right and has its very nice moments, but where it shines is near the end where it hits a psychedelic hill and starts to climb it.

Then comes the part where the band puts on their best anti-corporate punk attitude with “Broken Bones” in which they threaten to break our bones because (or in the event that) we are “corporate swine.” Won’t argue the point, but it is one neat track. It’s got thundering drums, a very catchy and groovy chorus, shouted insults and a promise of broken bones all set to the backdrop of a pure-blood rock track, which has its prog moments but is by-and-large a subtle, incredible stomper that raises the pulse after “Fantasma”s rather chill-out air. It’s also got this memorable, quirky, slap-and-pop bass line during it’s solo passage, which tickles my ears every time, believe you me.

“Herman!” is the closer to the album, and what a closer it is. Clocking in at a very comfortable 8 plus minutes, the song is about a poor kid (named Herman, if you couldn’t guess) who hears voices and kills his mom when she tells him to “put down the knife!” It’s a psychedelic, trippy piece that alternates between ambient passages, circus-like melodies and quirky grooves, all the while preparing us for the moment when Herman loses his marbles, because as he does, he drags the band along with him. That’s where Ideosphere simultaneously fires on all cylinders and starts laying, out of nowhere, heavy slabs of sludge-y, ten-ton chords. A brilliant change of pace to say the least and the song itself comes to a close with discordant voices whispering. Gives me chills every time. It’s the good kind of scary.

So what is the mark on this? Are you kidding me? “Black Hole Transmissions” is an instant and as-of-yet underrated classic. I was at three different albums, trying to decide which to focus on next when this one came and it took over my world. Yeah, THAT good. Get it, buy it, listen to it, stream it, steal it, whatever you do, acquire and listen to this album. It’s 9.9/10, and that’s me restraining myself.

Review Written By Sarp Esin

Ideosphere @ Bandcamp

Sendelica - The Pavilion Of Magic And The Trials Of The Seven Surviving Elohim ...

Our British comrades Pete Bingham and Glenda Pescado probably retired their official job, otherwise I find no explanation for such an enviable activity of their psychedelic project Sendelica. Churning out great albums one after another, traveling and doing regular concerts in Europe (and the band even looked to Russia in January 2011) the band also has enough time to record bootlegs and music for films (the new release has a bonus section too - new video called "Ritual") in between the bright flashes of highly intensive creative work. I consider myself lucky: I was able to get the brand new album "The Pavilion Of Magic And The Trials Of The Seven Surviving Elohim" whole in mp3-format high quality one month before the official release which was scheduled for June 20.

Just one caveat - all nine tracks of the album were sent to me as one solid file, which in the end, I consider it as a big plus: the integrity of the album, logical transitions from song to song are better felt this way from the very first listening, as well as a serious approach to writing music, which consists in an absolute dive into the abyss of space improvisations and psychedelic trip without the use of chemical catalysts. Seriously, I do not have any idea how they do it!

I could review "The Pavilion of Magic and the Trials of the Seven Surviving Elohim" with each track – one by one, because Pete (the man with sonorous guitar, neat beard and kind heart) sent me an album’s track-list with breaking the songs down by the minutes, but, seriously, I do not see the point to do it: those who are in the subject, who had listened to earlier works of Sendelica, who appreciates qualitative, picturesque progressive psycho-rock, will not be disappointed with new material from these famous Brits. Songs of different lengths (from 4 to 14 minutes) are full of complex melodies, and though it’s sometimes impossible to predict the course of author’s imagination most of the compositions are quite difficult, and the very idea of trying to forecast any turn of melody seems desperate to me (especially if you heard their “The Girls From the Future…” or “Streamdellica…” albums), there’s no place to a rational seed, you just drown in sound and feel it with every nerve as you’re the one who compose this stuff, ‘cause it’s natural (or supernatural) vibes which move the stars and some invisible fluids amongst us.

You need an “over-emotional” level of perception for getting this music but romantic themes as a title line of "Arizona Spree” touch quite affecting human feelings – it’s delay of samadhi, the world and it’s experience still hold you tight on the material plane. Obviously, the length of tracks is limited only by the size of the CD - whether it is the will of the musicians, they would have played the same program in a fully relaxed state in new ways, in enlarged form and with a smile of Buddha in their faces producing "The Pavilion of Magic…” with same number of songs but in 2 or 3 CDs. There are mystical rituals based on the eternal universal laws performed in the "Pavilion of Magic": for example many compositions are cyclical, that is a good psychedelic and alternative rock characteristic, they are wide and sonorous yet their origin is not artificial… The sound is clear and bright, musicians show preference to fuzz and distorted sharpness is minimal, so the guitar low-frequency vibrations lie in the ear extremely well but without any cloying sweetness.

"The Pavilion of Magic" and "Zhyly Byly" (a song which is legacy of Sendelica’s Russian tour 2011) are the best proof of my words: guitar has moderately heavy vibration, bass sounds solid and supports the drums clearly, all instruments together give birth to a magical atmosphere in which we can easily learn Sendelica. "Banshees & Fetches" demonstrates the close relationship of musicians with a good friend of prog-rockers - the saxophone, "Venus In Furs" (a cover version of Velvet Undeground) and "This Is The Day" strike right through the heart: the cause of such fatal stab is the presence of delicious Sirens, guest vocalists Ellis Davidson and Molar, in these songs. You know it’s a situation when you’ve listened a cover-version of some track which you previously never heard and your first intention is to find an original version but only after you play this cover one more time… maybe two… Sorry but I feel that it’s better for me to stop or I’m going to choked with sincere, but too obsessive enthusiasm. But the album is really stunning.

There’s no place to static in Sendelica compositions: the changing of tempo, the very compositional landscape of the album - the band does not stand still! So welcome to the "Pavilion of Magic"! Magic mirrors, hypnosis, levitation lessons and astral vision are now available to all, especially desperate ones will be admitted to the rituals of old psychedelic spirits evoking, but keep in mind - dirty Harry Potter and his omnipresent magic wand will not harm you here! These guys are professional magicians, but they play so well that you can hardly tell a game of your imagination from reality, perhaps, "The Pavilion of Magic and the Trials of the Seven Surviving Elohim" does not change the world for the better dramatically, but there’s a trend for it, these gentlemen are on their way - they do magic, and they do it easily and efficiently. (Translated From Russian Text)

Sendelica @ Myspace

Review Written By Aleks Evdokimov

Russian translation: Metal Library

Ashes You Leave – The Passage Back to Life ...

Eastern Europe isn't known for its Metal, or music in general. There are very few bands that come out and the ones that do, typically aren't very good and/or fade away shortly afterwards. This band however, has been in the game for sometime and given their geographic location actually deliver the goods consistently. Their début album is nothing short of flagrant MDB worship, with that said, it’s a very good début for what it is, but it looses points due to its lack of originality. This album is akin to a slower 'As the Flower Withers' era MDB. There is a weeping violin, slow romantic passages, and bursts of speed here and there. The biggest difference between this and MDB would be there is a female vocalist number one and number two she is the primary vocalist.

Regarding the vocals, for starters they’re very different. Most people expect a female vocalist to sound like Christina, Tarja, or Anneke, trained and/or with a great range. This isn't the case here. Dunja has a good voice, but it’s more of a lower to mid range alto and it adds a different quality to the music at large. She does wail in a few places here and there but her unique vocals add a haunting sense of desperation and longing that would otherwise be lost if she was a full-blown soprano. There is a tangible yet ethereal presence in her voice that is simply wonderful.

The male vocal presence is scant at best and is more in the old school style of cookie monster growls. Not a whole lot else can be said; aside from they fit the music as well as can be expected. The guitars are fairly thick and heavy. They have a keen sense of melody, but once again, they do borrow an obscene amount of riffs from MDB. There aren’t any solos but a lot of good leads. Dreary and woeful are the sounds they create. The bass more or less follows the guitars and the drums are standard for the given style but pretty good. There are some keyboards present adding a very strong depressive atmosphere. They aren't played constantly and are more or less used for filler between songs and intro/outros, but they are used to good effect. The violin is also played well, but a little too close to Martins style (the keys are in the same boat most of the time). The violin isn’t as prominent in the songs either.

The production is surprisingly good for an eastern European band, with the overall quality of the material exceptionally high. While not the most original it’s certainly delivered with precision and conviction. You could certainly do far worse. This gets a 8/10.

Review Written By Grimdoom

Official Website

Enormicon - Storm Of Swords ...

Another album, I found myself discovering almost by chance after having my eye caught in by an alluring description.

The band self describes their music in that lovely colourful way that some unsigned metal bands do: “If Conan stumbled into a cave full of magic mushrooms, guitars and amps, this is the album he would've recorded “. That's a bit cartoonish but it does give you a feeling of the war-like approach that Enormicon have towards their brand of metal. In a little more than half an hour, the band manages to pull off an impressive mixture between the epic thrashing of early Celtic Frost, the punishing apocalyptic riffage of High on Fire, the epic structures of early Mastodon and a general love for raw and epic metallic riffs.

While their songwriting still has to mature a bit, (they tend to write very similar songs), they definitely have tons of attitude and guts to their delivery and this album is definitely something that will give your head plenty of stuff to bang to. Give them a spin', possibly loud and you may enjoy it.

Review Written By Andrea Contanzo

Enormicon @ Myspace
Enorimicon @ Reverbnation

Zippo - Maktub ...

It's with a mixture of joy and sadness that I have to type the following phrase: the new album by Zippo is incredibly good, so good and strong that it will hardly have the success it deserves in our own country. That's the harsh truth. Guys like Zippo, which are able to create an album like “Maktub”, that not only sounds great but also says something new and shows that there are bands in the scene that could become giants, are ignored or scoffed at in Italy.

That sad, wow.

The guys wanted to make something big. Actually, bigger. Huge. One can already see it by the Cd's magnificent artwork by Bass player Stonino. It's a package that makes you want to collect the album and makes you excited for what you're about to hear. And since as you press play, you get hit and rewarded with, possibly, one of the most intense and intelligent pieces of Heavy Rock of the year. The sound, perfected by the capable hands of Victor Love and James Plotkin (Khanate, SunnO))), Baroness), is like a machine of unpredictable intelligent heaviness. The riffs are huge, full of sudden turns towards groove, melody or mysteriously hypnotic spiraling. The whole band sounds perfectly oiled, delivering songs that are increasingly complex, crushing, and mesmerizing as the album progresses.

While at first, thanks also to Davide's impressive vocal performance, you will bang your head and be drawn in by their Stoner-ish grooves with touches of intelligent Post-Metal, the record will unfold and you'll just get joyfully trapped into an architecture of complex structures, moments of jamming, tension and release, explosions of heaviness, sudden phases of eerie quiet.

With the added guest appearances of Orange Goblin's Ben Ward or Zu's saxophonist Luca T Mai, the album just defies any categorization, like the great albums by late Mastodon, Kylesa or Baroness did. What you have here is a bold, intelligent, heavy, powerful explosion of sound that will get your heart on a first listen and grow more and more on you as you replay it. Possibly one of my favourite records this year and a must have.

Review Written By Andrea Contanzo

Zippo @ Myspace
Zippo Blogspot
Subsound Records

Hollenlarm - Hellish Noise ...

One of my personal favourite ways to discover new bands is following a recommendation trail on sites like CdBaby. Usually, what I get to put my grubby paws on, are less known and often great bands that deserve to be put into the light. That is the case with Hollenlarm. There's a good numbers of bands that tried to deliver the “Blackened Sludge with Enhanced Nastiness and Brutality” recipe lately but these guys seem to have it down very well.

Their own description drops names like Acid Bath, Eyehategod or Darkthrone. That is maybe a bit too much, but it definitely gives a hint of the direction they're going in. Their sound is Filthy Demonic Sludge of the best kind, filled with slow, oppressive, detuned riffs, harsh and bestial vocals, a mood of utter nihilism and self-destructive despair and adds to it some sudden bursts of Crust/Black Metal in its first incarnation. What this means in even simpler terms is that songs like the gut wrenching opener “Tex” or the crushing “Fit For a King” will bash your skull in with plodding, saturated brutality and suddenly bursts into visceral blasts of frantic drumming, screams, and feral brutality.

The guys need to get a better producer and focus a bit more, but right now they have the potential to enter the same smelly, rotten room as Sourvein or Trap Them.

Review Written By Andrea Contanzo


Hollenlarm @ Facebook

Jun 24, 2011

Heavy Lord - Balls To All ...

This is the fourth album from the Dutch band Heavy Lord and while it continues the tradition of blending stoner doom metal and sludge doom metal; it is also the most progressive and mature album from all the band thus far. In the world of doom-metal there is hundreds of underrated bands and lets face it, the entire genre is underrated but why Heavy Lord are not seen as one of the true greats of the scene is a mystery that continues to baffle. For one thing the band has been doing it for 10 years so if anything they be considered within the realms of a pioneering influence status by now but sadly it is 10 years and 4 albums into their career and nobody talks about them and most people I speak to have never heard them which to me is a tragedy.

I think one of things holding the band back from being more accepted by doomsters is the vocals. Personally I don't mind the vocals of Steve at all but I can see how some folks mind find his voice a little annoying. I put this minor gripe people have in the same context as Lee Dorrian from Cathedral; many people love the music but can't stand the vocals. Putting that aside now, this album is very good. It is not album of the year, far from it but it is a solid barrage of crushing riffs, pulverizing drumming, and bone-rattling bass but it has some intriguing twists and turns along the way.

The key word here is "solid" - this album has no weak tracks, no fillers but to be totally honest, there is no outright killers either. It has been nearly 4 years since their last release 'Chained to the World' and 5 years since 'From Cosmos to Chaos' and seeing as those 2 albums were monumental slabs of stoner-doom, I already knew the band would have to pull-out something extraordinary to compete with those timeless albums.

4 years between albums is a long time and bands can lose some ground or maybe lose some of their edge and that seems to be the case here. It is odd though that in the 70's bands often would release a classic album once a year and in some cases do it for 10 years or more straight so why now it seems to be an issue is a tough call. Some blame the length of some CD's but with Heavy Lord and many other bands, their albums are around 40-45 minutes long which was the standard length for an album in the good old vinyl days anyway so that excuse just don't wash. Alright I am shooting off-topic now but I think it makes for an interesting debate, maybe a good topic for the Doommantia Forum: HINT, HINT !!!!!

But let's get to 'Balls To All' - great title and this band indeed has some balls to produce albums as bone-charring as this. The albums opening track 'Back When The Giants Ruled The Earth' starts pleasant enough with some acoustics but then the wall of bombastic riffs are unleashed and it doesn't let-up much till the very last crushing note is played. While the album does have some spacey, psychedelic moments, it is still a riff-lovers delight. The band has always been a lumbering beast in the vein of Cathedral, Zoroaster and Black Sabbath and not much has changed so if you are already a fan, you will drool over all the chugging and ominous riffs that this album has to offer. Like I hinted at earlier, it is hard to find real highlights but on the other hand, there is no real weak-links on the album either.

Tracks like 'Kick Teeth' and the epic 9 minute'Dieselweed' will make you giddy with their sonic non-stop riff-fest. The dynamics coupled with a real passion for wanting to be as heavy as they can, simply works. Heavy Lord don't hide their influences, nor do they try. The band is Sabbath, Cathedral, Sleep, Crowbar, Celtic Frost, Eyehategod and Electric Wizard all rolled into one and I hear people saying; well they sound just like blah, blah, blah but does it really matter when it is this heavy and the riffs are this good. I mean originality sometimes doesn't mean a shit when a band plays with such passion and power. Like I have already said, if you worship the riff, then Heavy Lord are a no-brainer, you have to like them in my opinion.

The one track that does stand out even if it is only conceptually is 'Mare Tranquillatis' which is a 10 minute intriguing piece about a man planning on committing suicide, I wont give away the plot here but take a listen, it is enormously well-done. There is a short interlude as well on the album, here simply titled 'Track 6' but apart from that, if you have already heard the band, you will know what to expect. The only real difference is the 4 years between albums has only made them even better musicians, they were great before of course but they seem to have more finesse in their playing now and they have become just a touch more experimental and progressive but this is still 100% stoner-doom and that is what you want from a Heavy Lord album. I rate it slightly lower than their previous efforts but this still crushes so no real complaints - check it out........ 8/10

Heavy Lord Official
Heavy Lord @ Myspace.com

UFOMAMMUT Announce Final Eve Tour With Neurosis ...

 From Earsplit PR ~

Italian superdoom trio UFOMAMMUT have announced their final days of live performances in support of their most recent album, Eve. After touring on the monstrous album throughout Europe for the past year, the band will play the album live over the coming months on several short tours between July and early October, including a July tour as direct support for Neurosis!

Stated the band about the upcoming July tour supporting Neurosis: "Neurosis are one of the most important and influential entities in heavy music and obviously it'll be great for UFOMAMMUT to play before them during their Summer tour. But sharing the same stage has even a more special meaning for us. We surely grew up in different places, we have different background and different experiences, but we feel like our attitudes are very close and similar, beyond the mere musical aspect. That’s why we are honored and pleased by Neurosis invitation."

UFOMAMMUT Summer European Tour Dates:
7/17/2011 Grunspan - Hamburg, Germany w/ Neurosis, Amen Ra
7/18/2011 Conne Island - Leipzig, Germany w/ Neurosis, Amen Ra
7/19/2011 Arena - Wien, Germany w/ Neurosis, Amen Ra
7/20/2011 Spaziale Festival - Torino, Italy w/ Neurosis
7/27/2011 FZW - Dortmund, Germany w/ Neurosis
7/29/2011 Effenaar - Eindhoven, Netherlands w/ Neurosis
7/30/2011 LKA - Stuttgart, Germany w/ Neurosis
8/19/2011 Balla Coi Cinghiali Festival - Bardineto, Italy
9/14/2011 Superkronic - Leipzig, Germany
9/15/2011 Festaal Kreuzberg - Berlin, Germany
9/16/2011 Stengade - Copenaghen, Denmark
9/17/2011 Inkonst - Malmo, Sweden
9/18/2011 Blitz - Oslo, Norway
9/19/2011 Truck Stop Alaska - Goteborg, Sweden
9/21/2011 Nuclear Night Club - Oulu, Finland
9/22/2011 Lutakko - Jyväskylä, Finland
9/23/2011 Yo-talo - Tampere, Finland
9/24/2011 Korjaamo - Helsinki, Finland
9/26/2011 Molotow - Hamburg, Germany
9/27/2011 Underground - Cologne, Germany
9/28/2011 013 - Tilburg, Netherlands
9/29/2011 *TBA - Netherlands
9/30/2011 Baroeg - Rotterdam, Netherlands
10/1/2011 Het Depot - Leuven, Belgium
10/3/2011 The Croft - Bristol, UK
10/4/2011 *TBA - UK
10/5/2011 *TBA - UK
10/6/2011 Purple Turtle - London, UK
10/7/2011 *TBA - France
NME Magazine recently named UFOMAMMUT in a feature on "The Twenty Heaviest (Metal) Records Of All Time" alongside Black Sabbath, Sleep, Sunn O)))., Godflesh and more. Check it out here. Also make sure to scope out some seriously crushing footage of UFOMAMMUT annihilating the audience at this year's Roadburn Festival in Holland and more at this location.

Stay tuned for more updates on UFOMAMMUT's ongoing activities as more live actions are confirmed, and as the band prepare to enter the studio in July to begin forging their next opus of cerebral, organic doom metal.

Direct any press inquiries on UFOMAMMUT and all other Supernatural Cat Records artists, in North America contact: earsplitpr@aol.com; in Europe contact: rarely_unable@yahoo.co.uk.

Ufomammut Official
Ufommamut @ Facebook
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