Sep 30, 2011

Caronte – Ghost Owl EP ...

During this weekend of early October I’ll have the chance to go rather close to home for an impressive evening devoted to the darkest forms of occult doom metal performed by some new, “established” and “historical” monsters of the genres, respectively Black Oath, Abysmal Grief, Necros Christos and Mortuary Drape.

But also the space and time devoted to the opening acts, the “emerging” bands, is carrier of cool surprises and great music. For example Caronte will be there.
Caronte is a new band added to the way attractive Italian doom metal panorama (there’s no chauvinistic excess here, you know) and is cool indeed.
Actually this band is not new for me as I had the first impact; probably in the best way, especially for this band, i.e., I saw them playing live in a squat near Milano while opening for Cough in a sticky hot night last May. Few people (because underground metal fans are lazy …) and a bunch of highly inspired heavy musicians. Our jaws couldn’t but fall down in admiration.
Caronte is a brand new band as they started composing music and playing it during 2011. But there’s some (surprising) background experience supportive of these guys’ activity.
Band members are Dorian Bones on vocals, Henry Bones on bass, Tony Bones on guitar and Mike De Chirico on drums.
As from their bio, Caronte raised from the ashes of a dandy-looking, horror punk to death rock band from Parma, The Wraiths Orchestra, which was mixing horror punk à-la-Misfits, dark sounds and melodies into an intriguing catchy and slightly morbid mélange. Moreover  singer Dorian Bones is also militating into the by now fully established black metal/black’n’roll band Whiskey Ritual.
Caronte is a different beast and, oh, so charming!

The name adopted by the band, Caronte, aka Charon, means the “guide of the dead”, the “ferryman” in charge of transporting the newly deceased souls across the Styx swamp and the Acheron river which divided the world of the living from the world of the dead. This is beautifully described in Dante’s Divine Comedy book of Hell. The mythologic reference figure for the band is therefore grievous, tragic and obscure, and accordingly doom could but be the metal genre employed.

However Caronte band declares a profound inspiration by the work of Aleister Crowley as well, which adds to the occult aura permeating Caronte’s music.
Recently Caronte released  their début EP called Ghost Owl with elegant golden and black cover arts, out on the Italian label Lo-Fi Creatures / Moonlight Records.

The EP includes three rather long tracks with an average length of 7 minutes.
Music-wise the band’s style is a spurious variety of “old-school” heavy, gloomy and doped, grimly noisy alienating doom in the vein of the classic and present-day masters, i.e. Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Electric Wizard and Cough. This grim doom background is contaminated by various other features, like groove-laden stoner and vintage dark, Sabbath-inspired psychedelic rock and a taste for obscure and melodramatic musical constructions like those found in other Italian cult doom bands. Especially for the latter feature comes the remarkable voice of the (well-built) singer Dorian Bones, who abandons black metal and delivers an impressive heartful and powerful exploit reminding of memorable vocal styles like early Danzig as well as Morrissey of The Smiths.
The inspiration to the monster, old-school doom bands and to Electric Wizard surely helps the band in shaping the core of their own style of “acid ethereal doom” which sounds “old”, almost mossy and enriched by raw, hypnotic rhythms almost physically smelling of incense or psychotropic smokes good for some blasphemous occult rituals. The occasional employment of rock accelerations and the adoption of frankly stoner rock constructions surely enlighten the occult doom background of Caronte’s style.

These accelerations characterize especially the first song, Ghost Owl, which is slightly faster than the other ones. Especially in the darker, more doomy songs or parts of songs, like in the second track Black Gold or in the third one Trice of Dreams, the explosions of Dorian’s passionate and often desperate chanting style may sound almost surprising when one would expect an underworld-like baritone gloomy aggression as in Abysmal Grief or Wizardesque torn shouts, filthy screams or banshee-like hisses.  No, Dorian is carrier of loads of melody and sense of drama and, surprisingly, there’s no trace of gothic stickiness, even when delicate contributions of female background vocals are occasionally employed.  Indeed Dorian’s vocal style may sound almost “alien” sometimes as it is so reminding of the dark sounds of the 80’s. But it is a distinctive, quite original and way charming feature of this band.
The surely great interpretation and emotional burst carried out and evoked by the vocal parts are beautifully supported by the very well written song structures, strong distortion and downtuning of the great leading bass and guitar, powerful blasting drumming and a rather dirty production. The latter might be disliked by someone, but for me it is essential for any doom metal album for adding atmosphere and, well, for getting rid of excess melodrama. The songs in Ghost Owl EP are beautiful and involving. I don’t want to use the word “infectious” because these songs grab you much by the passion and not only by the morbid, doped doom sounds.

This EP is an excellent start for this new band, even if it is too short to fully show the potential of this band as experienced in the live exhibition I happened to see. The EP ends  and you feel like being halfway along a path, you need the story to go on.  Let’s go on … ……….. 8.5/10

Words: Mari

Caronte @ Facebook
Caronte @ Myspace
Lo-Fi Creatures @ Myspace
Lo-Fi Creatures @ Facebook
Caronte's Black Gold @ YouTube

Sep 29, 2011

Royal Talons - Crushing Denver Doom ...

Coming out of Denver, this three-piece known as Royal Talons are a doom band that are more than ready enough to take on the world with their uncompromising heaviness. The tracks that are available to hear on their Royal Talons Bandcamp Page reek of quality, whether it be the musicianship or the quality of the recordings, this band have it together in every department. Mixing sludge, doom, psychedelic, stoner metal, and some hints of drone, they are a diverse machine. Take a listen to 'Shark Skull' below this post for an example of the glorious guitar sound they possess; beautifully thick and fuzzy, it simply crushes. While the sabbathian riffing which is of the Electric Wizard and Church of Misery variety is nothing new, the emotive, melodic yet hollering vocals give the band a unique edge.

Each song on their Royal Talons Bandcamp Page is epic, long-ish slogging head nodders and there isn't a bad tune in the bunch. They have a quality of a long-established band and not just another band testing out reactions on a bandcamp page. Somebody needs to sign this band up and fast and get a full-length album out, the band is primed and ready to deliver the goods if these tracks are anything to go by. This is really my kind of doom, traditional but extremely sludgy, extreme but not bypassing melody. While the songs plod along for the most part, there is subtle tempo and atmospheric riff changes that catch the listener by surprise. 'The Scroll' is one of these tracks. Starting atmospheric and psychedelic with a hypnotic vibe, it builds into a nasty, violent piece of tortured doom along the lines of a Burning Witch or a Grief track and it doesn't quit from building in menacing intensity.

Each song has a charismatic individuality all of its own even though they are all slow, crawling riff-fests. Some are more psychedelic than others but they are all generally, mammoth, epic doom workouts, the kind that many try but few have mastered as good as this. They are not big on leads but when they do occur they have an ethereal beauty that is extremely chilling and refined. These are not just doom-songs, these are all musical journeys that take the mind into a world of altered perceptions and distorted imagery. This is proving to be the year of the bandcamp band and there is a lot of killer bands sharing their music through the site but this is easily one of the most professional and impressive. I have no choice but to give these tunes a 9.5/10.

Royal Talons @ Facebook
Royal Talons Bandcamp Page

New Locrian Track From The New Album The Clearing ...

We are proud to present to you a track off of the new Locrian LP which is due for release November 1st called The Clearing. Check out the bio, press-release info and the new track below. This is going to be a captivating release!

Bio: This fall, Fan Death Records sees Locrian give birth to their magnum opus. The Clearing breaks free of the “must own” list for the group itself, and transcends into a “must own” list for general fans of everything from Loveless to Goo to Black One, Touched, Through Silver and Blood, and beyond. Not quite ambient, certainly not black metal, The Clearing takes a diversity of sounds, combined with a hushed aesthetic, and folds them into a mature record that demands attention from the first second to the last. This may be the closest the group will ever come to capturing the holy communion of their live performances.The ominous sounds that escape cognitive identity clatter through the intro of “Chalk Point” before falling into the gulf of layers that comprise the majority of The Clearing. Pushing the organic and the electronic in and out, with Augury in an Evaporating Tower and Corpolite, Locrian adds a mastery of everything from hushed acoustic guitar to near power electronics to synths that break through from a world of giallo soundtracks, penning a near symphony while never faltering from a solid path.

The beacon atop this secret pyramid is “The Clearing” itself. Here you find a staggering arc of sound that may be the group’s finest hour. At nearly 20 minutes, a slowly building rite pulls the listener into a place and time that they will compulsively visit over and over again to better understand. For every person any of the above strikes a chord with, Locrian is a must-know band, and The Clearing is a must-own album.

Coming up from the basements of experimental black metal, Locrian quickly made a name for themselves, laying the cobblestones for their own unique world. Through three LPs and a small stash of other releases, the group have floated ever towards a mesmerizing sound that defies classification. Dark, brooding, complex, and lush, with each release Locrian have raised the bar for their own grey sky heightened standards.

This fall, Fan Death Records sees Locrian give birth to their magnum opus. The Clearing breaks free of the “must own” list for the group itself, and transcends into a “must own” list for general fans of everything from Loveless to Goo to Black One, Touched, Through Silver and Blood, and beyond. Not quite ambient, certainly not black metal, The Clearing takes a diversity of sounds, combined with a hushed aesthetic, and folds them into a mature record that demands attention from the first second to the last. This may be the closest the group will ever come to capturing the holy communion of their live performances.

The ominous sounds that escape cognitive identity clatter through the intro of “Chalk Point” before falling into the gulf of layers that comprise the majority of The Clearing. Pushing the organic and the electronic in and out, with Augury in an Evaporating Tower and Corpolite, Locrian adds a mastery of everything from hushed acoustic guitar to near power electronics to synths that break through from a world of giallo soundtracks, penning a near symphony while never faltering from a solid path. The beacon atop this secret pyramid is “The Clearing” itself. Here you find a staggering arc of sound that may be the group’s finest hour. At nearly 20 minutes, a slowly building rite pulls the listener into a place and time that they will compulsively visit over and over again to better understand. For every person any of the above strikes a chord with, Locrian is a must-know band, and The Clearing is a must-own album.

Recommended if you like: Yes - Relayer LP, Throbbing Gristle, La Monte Young, Hive Mind, Burzum - Aske LP

• The follow-up to their critically acclaimed The Crystal World LP.
•The Clearing was recorded by Jeremy Lemos, who has worked with notables such as Stereolab, John Fahey, Jim O’Rourke, and Wilco, amongst others.
• Artwork is by Brian Ulrich, who has an art book coming out via Aperture Foundation

Press Quotes

• “...Locrian are a trio to be reckoned with, creating some of the best heavy cerebral music around.” – Exclaim

• “...[Locrian] have an individuality and uniqueness that is all their own and they just seem to be getting better and better.” – Dommantia

• “...Locrian does not limit their sonic palette to fit into any particular genre or specific sound, and the result is that this music often penetrates much deeper, taking the listener to places they never thought possible.” – Musical Warfare

Check out the debut of Chalk Point from the new album ....

Fan Death Records

Sep 28, 2011

Noothgrush - Live For Nothing ...

Formed in the spring of 1994, Noothgrush have had an interesting recording career. They have been together for 17 years for only one full-length album, 'Erode the Person' released this just a couple of months ago but they been involved in some 9 splits with bands such as Sloth, Corrupted and Gasp to name just three. Along with all that and a couple of seriously good compilations, Noothgrush haven't been the most productive band around and the their lack of touring means that they are a true-cult band of the sludge and doom underground.

Oddly enough, mention their name and everybody knows of them though, so they have built up a kind of legendary underground status and its much deserved. This live album is basically two radio broadcasts the band did in 1996 and 1999 respectively so they were recorded when the band were at their absolute peak. Most people who I have spoken too over the years about the band seem to own at least one compilation and so most people will know most of the songs on this album already. I think there is at least 10 songs on here that have appear on these comps, maybe more. 'Live For Nothing' is packed to the brim with Noothgrush hateful brand of sludge, 79 minutes worth of it in fact, so this is a real value for money release put out by Southern Lord. What is also a bonus is, there is no repeats in the playlist which is surprising seeing as these broadcasts were made only 3 years apart.

When you listen to the power and intensity of the band, it is strange they are not mentioned in the same breath as Eyehategod and Buzzov*en because they really deserved to be. Noothgrush played a diverse brand of sludge, stoner-metal, and doom in the 90's which is why they were so great back then. They were full of hate and nasty riffage but they also were great at bringing infectious melodies into the madness and they also injected some killer hooks and grooves into some of their songs and this album is a good showcase of those talents. 'Sith,' 'Oil Removed,' 'Hatred For the Species,' and 'Made Uncomfortable By Others Pain' are a few of the highlights here and these are all minor classics within the sludge-metal genre.

But you also get out-and-out stoner-grooves as in 'Derrell’s Porno Song' and then there is epic, monster cuts like 'Erode the Person,' 'Flee From Hunger And Disease,' 'Useless,' and 'Jundland Wastes' which are songs that are not that long really but sound totally epic anyway. Most of Noothgrush’s songs are slow, lethargic head-nodders, the kind of heavy music perfect for drunken headbanging when banging in-time is completely out of the question. The icing on the cake here is the best-ever cover version of Celtic Frost’s 'Procreation (Of the Wicked)' that you will ever hear, so good that the album is worth buying for it alone.

What is so important about this is, this is the closet that 99.9% of us will ever get to seeing the band live so it is two recordings that has to be heard by anyone with even the slightest interest in the sludge-doom underground. The sound on this album varies and could have been a lot better but it is good enough to get the point across that Noothgrush are a band that deserves some much overdue admiration......8/10

Noothgrush @ Facebook

Sep 27, 2011

Coroner To Headline Roadburn Afterburner; Voivod's Au-delà du Réel; Anekdoten Confirmed ...

Roadburn Festival has announced that CORONER will be bringing its amazingly tight brand of technical thrash metal to the 2012 Afterburner, set for Sunday, April 15 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.

Roadburn Festival 2012, including VOIVOD's curated event, SLEEP, OM, D.USK, VIRUS, THE OBSESSED, HEXVESSEL, 40 WATT SUN and SÓLSTAFIR, among others, will run for four days from Thursday, April 12 to Sunday, April 15, 2012 (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.

VOIVOD named their curated event at Roadburn Festival 2012, Au-delà du Réel, after the band's favorite sci-fi show, "The Outer Limits", when it was broadcast in French during the '70s. As curator, VOIVOD will personally select the bands that will play during Au-delà du Réel, set for Friday, April 13 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.

VOIVOD's excited to announce that Sweden’s ANEKDOTEN has been confirmed for Au-delà du Réel. ANEKDOTEN ranks amongst the very best prog-bands to emerge from Scandinavia since the early '90s. Firmly rooted in KING CRIMSON-inspired, Mellotron-drenched prog/art-rock (with hints of PINK FLOYD and JETHRO TULL as well), the band has released several acclaimed albums that garnered them a devoted cult-following over the years.

Please visit Roadburn.Com for more information.

Wizards Of Firetop Mountain - S/T Demo ...

Wizards of Firetop Mountain is an Irish Doom outfit who have released their Self titled Demo. They play classic psychedelic rock and stoner rock to some extent. This five piece Band will really blow you out. When I heard their Track “Sonic War” the vocals style was similar to Phil Swanson/Seamount. This track is fast with a tinge of stoner rock feel. There are some elements of psychedelic rock in between. “Dollar Hips” is another classic stoner that starts with a long intro; and the vocals dive in a trademark 70’s rock and roll style. There are some good lead parts in between. Dunchee, the vocalist has done a good job to keep the music very tight. If I really have to compare them to any actual band, I think Jex Thoth would be closer, but it is pretty difficult to do that for a two song demo. The production is good and entices one to check out their future releases. Overall a decent beginning!

Words: Mahesh

Wizards Of Firetop Mountain @ Facebook

Masada - Suffer Mental Decay Demo ...

Masada have just released their 2 song Demo “Suffer Mental Decay.” It is pretty hard to review a 2 song demo, but Masada stands out as the self-titled track “Suffer Mental Decay” is an ‘on your face’ kind of track. It starts as old-school Death Metal with a good old production style which you hear on many old bands like Massacre, Autopsy etc. It is a pretty well produced song. You can make out each instrument, massive attacks of double bass, old school guitar riffing and bass playing. The vocals consist of extremely deep growls but they're not the main focus of the songs. They rather work as a supporting tool to the very well-played instrumentals.

Overall, Masada recorded a very oldschool-sounding Death Metal demo with “Suffer Mental Decay.” It's well-played, it's dark, it's evil, it's Death Metal! A must listen for fans of old school band Immolation.

Words: Mahesh

Masada @ Bandcamp

Sep 26, 2011

One Thousand Songs (Interview with 1000mods) ...

Interview with Lambros from 1000mods. Is it just me or something just started smelling like weed?!?!?

Dr.Doom: Congrats for the “Super Van Vacation” what are the feelings in the band right now?

Thanks for the wishes! We feel very happy and relieved that the album is ready and we are looking forward to the Release Live Party and our first European Tour.

Dr.Doom: Let’s not waste any time and talk about the new album right away! “Super Van Vacation”!!! Strange title! What is the concept or the attitude you wanted to pass with this album?

Super Van Vacation is the title of the last track of the album. It’s an old song written some time after the release of our “Blank Reality” Ep and it was probably the first song that lead us to a more psychedelic/jammy path. We decided to name the album after that song because we think it describes best the mood during the recording sessions.

Dr.Doom: So far I’ve only heard a couple of songs and one of the things that impressed me is the improvement of Dani’s vocals. In what other levels you see the band has improved?

The fact that we recorded all together live enabled us to improve musically, each one as a unit and at the same time all together as a whole. We worked a lot before the recordings and now, I think, that we play tighter and our jams flow better.

Dr.Doom: I cannot neglect the collaboration with Billy Anderson. I’ve read that it was his initiative to start working with you guys. So, how is he as a person and how is working with him?

Working with Billy Anderson was an amazing experience for us. We had a great time together and we are totally satisfied with the recordings’ result. We were amazed by the way he worked. Although he is very experienced and has a precise idea about sound, he was always listening to our thoughts and our suggestions and tried to make them work and bring out the best possible result.

Dr.Doom: What is the impact of Billy Anderson on the character of the album what do you think would sound different without him?

Billy taught us techniques that we have never thought of before. The recordings took place in our home studio and this was our first attempt to record live there. He provided solutions in order that we could play as loud as we wanted to and avoid problems with spill. He also showed us some tricks that helped us with the drums and the vocals recordings. Of course we have to mention that this album wouldn’t have been released without our good friend and sound engineer, George Leodis, as he managed to mix the whole thing in a very short period of time in order to have the album ready before the tour.

Dr.Doom: I read that Malleus studio is responsible for the cool artwork for “Super Van Vacation”. How did that collaboration start and how it did work out? Is that the brightest colors they’ve ever used or what?

We got in touch with Malleus while we were recording. We know that they are the best in our genre and we are very happy that our debut album is designed by them. We also have to point out that this cooperation would never have happened without the support of a very good friend of ours, who is also a big fun of Malleus’ work.

Dr.Doom: Do you have an official release date?

The 29th of September is the official release date of the album, both in CD and Vinyl. On this day we are having our Release Live Party at An club with our good friends Routes and Sadhus.

Dr.Doom: A lot of people have accused “Blank Reality” of sounding like Kyuss too much. Looking back is there something you would change on any of your releases?

I don’t think we would change anything about our releases. We think that every time you record something you “etch” your feelings and experiences at that moment. “Blank Reality” had a more “in your face” attitude and “Liquid Sleep” was more psychedelic and laid back. I think the reason that many people accused Blank Reality of sounding like Kyuss was Dani’s vocals but that didn’t come out on purpose. That was the tone of his voice at that moment. I think that, musically, “Blank Reality” lacked the well-known Kyuss’ psychedelia.

Dr.Doom: After a Demo an EP and a split, and a really good name on the local scene do feel things have become a bit easier for the band?

For sure it’s easier for us to book a gig or get in touch with other bands but we know, and I think everyone in the local scene knows, that we never gonna make a living out of music. This is always going to be our passion and our hobby, financed by our regular jobs.

Dr.Doom: Lately the Greek underground scene has become full of stoner/sludge bands. Do you see this movement as something positive or maybe just some weird trend?

First of all we believe that this new movement is global. Stoner/Doom/Sludge audience is getting bigger and bigger. Many legendary bands reunite, tour and play in sold out venues and many new bands from all around the world release amazing albums. I think this is positive for the local underground scene, as the Greek audience that is interested in this music and attends the foreign bands’ gigs, is also going to “discover” local bands and support their shows.

Dr.Doom: Last Summer I believe you released a split tape with Wight! I would like to hear your opinions about that band. Personally, I believe Wight have released one of the most underrated stoner albums of 2011.

We are very happy and proud about that release. When we got in touch with Rene (singer and guitar player of Wight) we liked his idea about releasing a split tape together a lot. The result really exceedded our expectations. The artwork was beautiful and unique! “Wight Weedy Wight” is one of my favorite releases for 2011, filled with Sabbath riffs, psychedelic jams and an eternal love for the 70?s. I’m sure they are going to get the attention they deserve soon!

Dr.Doom: What other contemporary bands do you find interesting?

I think, at the moment Europe has the upper hand in our genre. Sungrazer and The Machine from Holland do a remarkable job in the contemporary psychedelic music. Also our good friends Stonebride from Croatia is a band that has already released two awesome albums and has moved forward with new recordings. And last but not least, we have our hopes up for the upcoming debut album of Sgiriya, formed by the original members of Acrimony. It’s going to be an epic album for sure.

Dr.Doom: Is there something in the contemporary stoner/doom scene you really hate?

Not really.

Dr.Doom: Brant Bjork, Colour Haze, Radio Moscow, My Sleeping Karma, I bet you have a lot of memories from hanging out in the backstage with such monsters? Something you would like to share?

We feel very lucky that we’ve shared the stage with these bands. We had some great moments during these gigs. I think watching Colour Haze rehearsing and jamming in an empty An Club before the show and jamming with Radio Moscow are some of the moments that we will never forget.

Dr.Doom: You recently had a show at Ides Of August festival at Chalkida. Did you manage to play any new songs there? How was the crowd’s reaction?

The festival in Chalkida was awesome. It was a plessure for us playing a gig organised by some friends of us and having fun again after our last gig, 3 months ago. Unfortunately, due to some problems with the local police we only got to play a couple of songs from our forthcoming album. Anyway, we had a great time and we are planning to play again in Chalkida after the European Tour.

Dr.Doom: I see that now there are plans for an extensive European tour! What are the feelings on band right now? I believe you haven’t done that before.

It’s the first time playing abroad. It’s a whole new experience for us. We are trying hard to work out all the details with our jobs, gear, merch etc., but we really can’t wait for this!

Dr.Doom: So what are the band’s plans besides touring? Shall we have to wait half a decade for your next album?

We’re already planning to tour Greece right after the European tour and maybe play a couple of gigs again in Europe in 2012. We are also going to release a special edition Vinyl with a 20min. song that we’ve already recorded with Billy Anderson and of course proceed with the songwriting for our next album.

Dr.Doom: Before we close would you like to solve the mystery about the name of the band?

We started using this name as a joke even since the band’s line-up was different. At that time most of the band’s members were leaving and rehearsing at a village of Korinthos, named Chiliomodi. So we did a funny “translation” of the village’s name. We turned Chilio (which comes from the word Chilia that in Greek means a thousand) into 1000 and then modi into mods. So here you have 1000mods.

Dr.Doom: So this is it! I would like to thank you for your time and wish luck with the tour! If you have something more to add.

Thanks a lot for supporting us and the local underground scene as well. Keep up the good work! We’ ll meet soon! Cheers!

Interview By Dr.Doom Metal ( Dr.Dooms Lair )

1000mods @ Facebook

Paths of Prakriti - Axis Mundai ...

As summer draws to an end and the days get shorter, Paths of Prakriti's début album is a great way of clinging to those memories of warm summer days. The album amalgamate's the 60s San Francisco sound but filtered through contemporary influences, while front man Jon Reier Stylte's vocals sooth the listener into a dreamlike state, the addition of flutes and organs help infuse the 60s influences that are present throughout the album. From the opening track 'Runaway Day' there is a clear influence of Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan that is a definitive factor which runs through the album. 'Axis Mundi' spans many genres from Folk, to Psychedelic via Blues it is a record which is bewitching and incredibly immersive, from the opening dreamlike note the bands sound envelopes the listener and allows them to float away on a blissful cloud. Their laid back vibes are positively uplifting.

The album has a relaxed, hazy pace to it and the band is in no hurry to speed up the proceedings. One thing that makes this album refreshing is the emphasis on acoustic sounds; instead of blazing electric guitars and pummeling drums, we are offered a mix of calm acoustic strumming and escapist Sitar notes, with the latter occurring prominently throughout the album along with the theme of Meditation. There is something hypnotic about the Sitar, that the band wish to share with us. From Sienna Root to Bong and Colour Haze, more and more bands seem to be using this instrument to expand upon themes of meditation and reaching a higher level of consciousness.

The closet this record resembles is Quest For Fire's 'Light's From Paradise', as it has a similar tone and hazy chilled out vibe to it. While it's not Stoner Rock there are frequent moments of inspired Psychedelia, but 'Axis Mundi' may not be for everyone, however if your looking for something soothing and calming this record is for you. You'll like this if you like Quest for Fire, Colour Haze......8/10

Words: Saul Crowley

Paths of Prakriti @ Myspace

Black Sun Aeon - Routa ...

From Finland, Tuomas Saukkonen is the man behind this Black Sun Aeon project. In 2009, this mainly one-man band surprised me with an album titled 'Darkness Walks Beside Me' - surprising because I usually loathe gothic-tinged doom but that album got stuck on my playlist for the best part of a year. This album which is over a year old (so I apologize for my slackness in getting this review up and running) and is a huge two disc release but still only has a complete playing time of under 80 minutes so I can't see the point of spreading these songs out over two CD's especially when most of the songs are very average but I will gripe about that later. The reasoning of having two discs is disc one has a more goth-rock flavor while disc two is more in the tradition death-doom vein but the differences are slight so there is certainly no real concept here that I can hear. When you think of Finland and then listen to this album, the two go together. Finland is cold and you can picture people huddled by the fireplace sipping their favorite liquor and this album seems like a perfect soundtrack for that.

The more than obvious point to raise about this album is it sounds like 'Darkness Walks Beside Me Part Two,' and that is perhaps the albums greatest weakness. When you make a really strong album, trying to repeat the formula a second time usually fails to some extent and this album does display some cracks. For one it is just too long with too much filler and having to kill the atmosphere by swapping one disc for the other doesn't help matters too much. It also seems hastily produced and some of the songs sound weak compared with others and thus makes for a very unbalanced album. However, when the album does shine, it has some real quality moments; rich in captivating melancholy and sometimes infectious grooves. For the most part, this is mid-tempo death-doom with emotional, evocative melodies with some blatant black-metal influences thrown into the mix.

Disc one starts with 'Core of Winter' which is a good example of goth-doom done right without all the romantic syrup that plagues most goth-doom bands. The only other member of this band, vocalist Mikko Heikkila does a stellar job on this track, his vocals are mournful even though they are the death-growl mixed with clean approach. It is one of the best tracks on the two discs but by track two, the cracks start to appear. 'Frozen' is not a bad track by any means, it is just sooooo predictable and generic, it is instantly forgettable. 'Sorrowsong,' 'Routa,' and 'Wreath of Ice' supply the most solid 15 straight minutes on the album. The multi-instrumentalism of Saukkonen is showcased and it shows him at his most creative best. While the songs are for the most part are extremely heavy on keyboards, the downtuned guitars provides a nice balance in these tracks. The rest of the first disc is just, well.....average but I have to say when the album heads off into one of its many black-metal influenced blast-beating sections, the results are impressive and I would even go as far as to say, better than what most black-metal bands can muster. It should be pointed out that the two discs are given their own unique titles, 'Talviaamu' (Winter Morning) and 'Talviyö' (Winter Night) but there doesn't appear to be any concept related to these titles.

Disc two or 'Talviyö' is more riffy, more stripped down but really not that much different from disc one. The tracks, 'River' and 'Frozen Kingdom' stand out as highlights while other tracks such as 'Apocalyptic Reveries' sound only half-finished. It is that undeveloped feeling that plagues a lot of this album. Disc two like the first is melodic death metal, gothic doom and black metal mixed with ambient and epic-doom death vibes. If you took the time to read my review on disc one, you can simply copy and paste it in here for disc two. While it is more riff-based and has more grooves overall, it is basically the same oppressive goth-tinged death-doom but is less memorable than disc one. While the best songs on this double CD all sit on disc one and both discs have filler material and songs that sound half-baked, this album would be hugely improved if it was condensed into a single 40 minute release. Now, 'Darkness Walks Beside Me' was a great album but this sounds like that albums slightly retarded younger brother. It is the same style and approach to instrumentation but it has less highlights and more filler moments and I was expecting a lot more. Disappointing..........5/10

Official Website

Brutus - S/T ...

Brutus is “that band.” Let me explain – there is that band that you see everywhere. It keeps popping up, but you are so preoccupied with other stuff, you just mildly pay attention and pass that band by, until one day, there they are again and you go, hey, there was this one band, wasn’t there? So, yeah, Brutus is that band, and special thanks to Life Is Psychedelic ( for being my stop-gap measure.

Brutus, for all intents and purposes, plays heavy rock. The basic Brutus sound entails an impressive mastery over groove, riff and solo (the last one in bass, single and dual leads.) These guys have seriously nice riffs and they are fiercely enjoyable. Under those lay dynamic, energetic and very skilled drumming. Over those, the rock-vocals. But the cherry on top is an undeniable dynamism that gives every song in the album a distinctive flavor and keeps things interesting – just when you think you’ll just listen to this one song and drop it, you end up running through the whole thing. The album also has a very pronounced blues influence, which often gives the music a borderline jazzy feel at certain times. That’s a good thing.

Anyway, things get off to a groovin’ start with “Hypnotized” which starts off easy, but features pulsing drums, soaring vocals, impressive, if subtle lead work (bluesy licks all around) and two memorable riffs at the heart of it. See, they first ease you in with the first riff, then change it up and introduce leads (first, single and then, dual) before quietly closing the track. It’s infectious and a great kick-off track. Next up is the more up-beat “Solution” which begins as a pure-blood rock track and with a cameo from the beloved cowbell. It’s a very nice track, which features the catchy line “Turn me into all those things you want from me,” and leads by the same riff, but switches instruments (especially the drums) around it to show how the same riff can be bombastic and fast and slow and easy at the same time. Interesting and marvelous play, to say the least, and the almost psychedelic, crooning vocals at the end are much appreciated.

Next up is “Feel Free” which feels like a continuation of the previous one. The two tracks are a bit too similar, to tell the truth, but still, it’s more heavy rock goodness in the form of a feel-good track, with a nice groove that smoothly cruises on through, until the band switches it up and introduces a variation on it to go with the almost muted, very very quiet licks of leads. It’s a nice song, but it’s nothing special. Next up, is “Golden Town” which gives you the full blues influence with it’s vocals, generally more somber air, the two-one step beat. It’s a five-minutes-plus piece of sheer bluesy beauty which features leads smudged in blues – after a certain point, the singular lead becomes a dual and the bass joins in on the fun. The entire song is a cruising, slow-burning build-up to the magnificent soloing for the better part of it. The only problem here is that it feels too much like a closer track, so much so that I often feel that what comes afterwards is a string of bonuses.

Then comes “Spirit of Time” which begins with bass, subtle guitars and subdued drumming, but quickly turns into more than you bargained for – between bluesy, subtle licks of leads and chilled music, you get more energetic parts comprised of an almost-chugging build-up and riding release of guitar, which leads up to almost melancholic pastures characterized by a stable riff around which vocals, bass and dual leads are structured. It’s an odd, almost progressive track in over seven minutes, and is one hell of a ride. As if to say enough brooding, Brutus brings us “Swedish Lady” next – the upbeat, catch-release, pounding riff, soaring vocals and the grooving passages leading into slower, easier parts mark this one as the ever-changing, addictive curveball-next-in-line. It’s a welcome break and brings a smile to my face every time. To lift our spirits higher, the album hits us with “Hey Mama” in which I hear the slightest surf rock influence, with it’s jumpy, quirky main riff, rock-injected riffing in latter-day passages and hook. I think I even hear a saxophone somewhere in there. It’s second half is a better-burning, dance-worthy, playful riffs, pronounced bass in a detour before returning to the jumpy riff.

The album comes to a close with the most jazzy track of them all, “Swamp City Blues.” With it's almost angular-riffing, Rastfari-accented lyrical delivery, a rhythmic presence that’ll get your head nodding and foot tapping, it’s brilliant. The track is, however, marked rather with the spoken-word passage accentuated with almost Hendrix-like guitar improvisations laid on top of leading bass and drums that set the tone for the remainder of the duration – the entire thing culminates in a jam-session-like leading after one another, and the resulting combination is absolutely breathtaking.

SO, ALL-IN-ALL, you find a very enjoyable album in Brutus’ offering. It’s got everything you need of a smooth, easy-on-the-ears, riff and bass, blues-influenced heavy rock album. It’s a must have, in that it is both superbly executed, glossily-produced, well-thought out and well-flowing effort. Seriously, apart from that one part in the very beginning, every song flows naturally both into the next one and in itself. There are, however, two flaws: often, entire songs are centered around one riff, and the second marks the transition into an almost impromptu sounding lead passage, which makes some of the album a bit predictable at times. Oh, it’s easier to get a hang of, so it’s kind of a neutral minus. Second flaw is that it stacks up groovy tracks against one another a little too much in the first three, and starts throwing curveballs one after another after that, which disturbs the flow a bit. Apart from those, however, the record is flawless, I’m happy to say, and is well-worth the purchase and being worn out by multiple spins in the years to come. 9/10

Review Written By Sarp Esin

Brutus @ Facebook
Brutus @ Myspace

Sep 25, 2011

Sonne Adam - Transformation ...

Sonne Adam's "Transformation" is a intriguing release on many levels. For one thing they are a band from Israel and how many of those are there? Another thing is this it is released on Century Media and this unlike anything I have ever heard from that label except for maybe Triptykon but even that doesn't sound as old-school and traditional as this. This album is death-doom played the old-fashioned way, slow crunchy riffing but with an ugly tone that would not sound not out-of-place in a sludge or even a drone-doom band. Fans of the recent Disma album or fans of the slower Morbid Angel tunes will dig some of this but still will be left scratching their heads over the kind of odd hybrid of styles they mangle together. The fact that Century Media has put this out is strange as there is nothing remotely mainstream or commercial about this. They have a specific sound all of their own that is different from all the other bands on the label that have very well-defined approach. Anyway, labels and genre-tags aside, the first thing that grabbed my attention about this is the guitar sound; down-tuned, ugly, thick and drone-like. From the point of view of death-metal, the band kind of sounds like Incantation in passages but overall, this is a far more doomy animal.

The feeling this album gives off is one of pure evil. While I wouldn't call this black-metal, there is an element of old-school, Norwegian BM but only far more atmospheric and bleak. Don't listen for anything in the way of infectious riffing or melodies because you won't find many at all on 'Transformation.' There is only one track on the entire album that comes close to being catchy, the self-named 'Sonne Adam' which is the third track on the disc. The opening duo of 'We Who Worship the Black' and 'I Sing His Words' pummel the listener with thick, doomy death riffs and drumming that sounds almost positively organic compared with the rest of the band. It is like the drums were recorded in a different studio and at a different time and it gives the tracks a unique feel. The vocals are guttural to the point of being incomprehensible, I gave up within seconds trying to understand any of the lyrics; all I know it sounds black and evil and that seems to be good enough for a death-metal band these days.

What I also find curious and different about this album is the best songs are all in the second-half and to be honest, I find the first half of the album to be pretty ordinary but the second half throws up some interesting material. At first the songs seem kind of simple but after repeated plays, the complexities of these tracks come out. There is some fine guitar leads that are more complicated that they seem on the surface and there is some good layering of sounds, again especially on the albums second-half. One of these tracks that really stands out is one called 'Shine' that has a different vocal approach compared with the rest of the tunes. The albums best work though is saved for last in the track, 'Apocalypse.' This track features the album's best riff and is also the album's most atmospheric tune. 'Apocalypse' can only be described as a sickening, dense hellride and Hooded Menace fans will love the thick chugging on this track. If the entire album was like this, I wouldn't hesitate giving this release a 10 but alas, this is not the case.

The production lets the album down in some ways, it is murky and doesn't do the songs any favors, especially with some of the guitar leads. The vocals do nothing for me; I have nothing against the guttural approach as long as it can still hold a melody but there is not much of that on this album. However, this album has some killer moments of blackened, crusty death-doom that should appeal to death, doom, sludge, and old-school extreme-metal fans alike. It may be the most extreme release that Century Media has ever put out too. If you are in love with the recent Disma album and are wanting more of the old-school death meets doom approach, this one is for you. Hardly perfect but this is still an atmospheric, slow and riffy heavy album that fans of Triptykon, Hooded Menace, incantation and old-school death-metal will enjoy but you may need to be in the mood for it......7/10.

PS: Sonne Adam is Hebrew and means "Hater of Man".

Sonne Adam @ Facebook
Sonne Adam @ MySpace

Sep 24, 2011

Beware Of The French Doom Attack; Interview With BARABBAS ...

Do you believe in lightning strikes ? In love, I absolutely do  not, but in music yes obviously, and this is my latest :  BARABBAS ... This quartet from the suburbs of Paris just released its first mini CD ( with an exact total length of  33.33 minutes) which contains 6 songs (including 2 intros) and proves to be an oustanding (good) surprise.  The band plays a rather traditional  doom in its origins and structures, with influences from Cathedral and St Vitus detected here and there, their slogan "heavier, slower, deafer" is globally very suitable; but what sounds  very different from the mass and make them sound somewhat modern at the same time, is that vocals are in french and the remarkable power of the whole interpretation, both these elements make their style very original and refreshing. Those french vox, a massive production and a pounding rhythmic, give an amazing stunning power that I hadn't ever heard at this point in this genre, in this sense they also can remind a bit the good early C.O.C. or the likes who enjoy extreme power and heaviness. Nice program for sure! Read the following interview with their guitarist Stéphane, and SUPPORT them.

Hello Saint Stéphane... you formed in 2007, ok you took your time and it was really worth waiting for the CD release, but other reasons must explain this rather long delay, right? As Barabbas delivered by an earthquake, is it the tsunami that made you free of your chains ?! (oops sorry...) Do you think one must necessarily be in the thirties to display the best possible doom ?!!! What's your background ?

S : Ave Steph ! Indeed, four years for the first ep, that seems an eternity, but seen our advanced ages, the doctors disadvised us to go faster. More seriously, we have all jobs who need quite a lot of investment, family lives and some of us are in parallel musical projects, all that doesn't facilitate the rehearsals. All in all, no matter about the time it has taken, that's not a race and as said  JC (the other one, not our drummer(beater)), " the last ones will be the first ones " (we feel reassured as we can). Concerning our history, it is of a distressing commonness : simply four buddies, all coming from local bands more or less known (Sarkazeinfor JC, Call Us As You Wish for Jérôme), we're now gathered by love of the heavy, slow and gloomy musics (and hearing losses), just to  write it I already find that razor, I feel sorry in advance for your readers, mea culpa...

"la question de Pilate" should certainly be used as intro to your live performances ? on stage, if that's materially possible, do you plan to play the movie on back-screen or something?

S : "Pilate's question" is a sample reworked from the film "Barabbas". This peplum is our bible in some way, more for its existential dimension than for its religious aspect : this bandit delivered instead of an innocent, clumsily seeking to understand why he was allowed a second chance ... This suggests both the arbitrary nature of existence (or opacity of destiny, if you believe in determinism), the difficulty of giving meaning to one's existence ... In short, a theme totally doom to our senses. To play this sample as an intro for gigs,  can therefore set the scene and, implicitly, to understand the music that follows is a symbol of excess, the bombast specific peplum. Regarding the broadcast of images of the movie, I know that Jerome is currently working on a visual idea of this type for our next electric mass but this little devil has not yet said what he intended to do exactly ...

"Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces, Barabbas sells its CD for  7 €" is one of the best marketing slogans I've ever heard, do you have any others like that on hand for the future?

S : Vanity is a sin, but we're pleased with your compliment. We have some in reserve, such as "Jesus Loves Even Barabbas" or "Speak louder, I play in Barabbas" that will perhaps soon end up on a T-shirt.

Was the choice of singing in French an evidence since the beginning ? To my knowledge you are the first French group of doom to sing in its native language, one can say that french sounds fine soft, rich, delicate to hear, but paradoxically, I find that this gives a very sharp edge to your trad doom, how do you feel its use ? Do you think that french vocals can bring something that english could not?

S : We would be perfectly unable to sing in English, we already badly master our mother tongue ... !
Singing in French has become obvious, we attach importance to the text content and we certainly could not express ourselves as accurately in another language. And in these times of globalization, the use of our native tongue has a small edge of  "resistance to uniformity"that is not displeasing to us, although we recognize that this may limit our audience. For the cutting edge, I think it comes from Rudolph, his voice exudes a real aggressive rock'n'roll, all in power. Surprisingly, he had never sung before Barabbas, while you just can see it quickly on stage :  he is made to be frontman.

I agree your music is actually inspired by trad doom but its raw power and groove in some ways remind me sometimes HC à la early Corrosion of Conformity, may be due to your previous experiences or older influences, am I definitely completely stoned or is it realistic?

S : No, you're not far from the truth since some of our influences go beyond the doom (or even metal) and I know that JC and Jerome listened and still listen to a lot of HC, so nothing abnormal at all to point some little HC feelings in the way they play.

Starting with some  musical connotations, I found some similarities in the overall approach with The Bottle Doom Lazy Band, a sentence like "the music of Barabbas may be boring to hear but it is even harder to play" may be closer to their state of mind (musically very square but quite a few 2nd degree and good humor), do you know them? What is your state of mind rather "fun"or "sorrow"?

S : We do not know them personally but we do really enjoy all the stuff from TBDLB. Moreover, we have been seeing them in concert there in a little local pub, they were supposed to share the bill with Red Mourning and  Mudweiser, but they had barely begun to turn the bass and drums that suddenly the sound limiter has failed to plunge the room into darkness. As a result: they have repackaged rather than betray their sound. Frustrating for us ...but class  in the attitude "no compromise". Back to your question "fun or sorrow, " I would say that one does not preclude the other, see Ozzy or Lee Dorian. I do not remember who said "Humor is the politeness of despair, " but it pretty much sums up our mood, we are some kind of happy pessimistic guys and  to self-parody (even self-deprecation)  is natural. And pride is a deadly sin, right?

This last quote joined in the spirit your drummer's little message towards you in his thanks list, is it so difficult for him to play doom ?! Is he technically bored over what he did before?

S : No, I think he just wanted to be disagreeable with us because we are committing towards him an implacable hatred. This is the pretty boy of the group and it makes us jealous. So it doesn't make us too much shade, we stuck him to the back of the stage behind the drums and that he does not forgive. Moreover, in rehearsal, he played with headphones just not to hear us (and in retaliation, we neither do listen him).

The story of Barabbas goes back to the supposed responsibility of the Jews in the crucifixion of Jesus (deicide), could your lyrics speak precisely about that or might it be too subject to controversy? Do the band  name and the general concept imply mainly lyrics relating to this story or this historic period (for the moment at least ...)? Just like for Huata, one could quickly note your religious approach and inevitably classify you straight into the occult range, how do you feel about that ? Are you closer to an Electric Wizard or a Place Of Skulls ... ? do you feel invested with a divine mission?

S : We do not intend to limit ourselves to the biblical universe but we do not want to abandon either. For the ep, we had even pre-recorded songs with to non-religious themes, but we finally didn't keep them to favor the "concept album" edge. In fact, the biblical references in our songs are not necessarily to be taken literally, they function more as metaphors, like the themes of "dragon / rainbow / sorcerer" from RJ Dio (rip) as I wrote above, "Barabbas" is about the sense of absurdity of existence that you can sometimes feel, 'Horizon Golgotha ", it's the inevitable that arises in your life, this could be the history of a heavy smoker who has just learned he has terminal cancer and who looks in the mirror, sneering "thou hast indeed sought sasshole ?  So, between Griffin and Osborn, we feel much closer to Electric Wizard. No divine mission for us, our Church of the Holy Riff Sonic Redeemer is inspired by Hendrix Electric Church: a movement open to all without distinction of sex, color, religion, an invitation to purify themselves and commune together rejoice in the big sound. Our only idol is Euterpe (this said, if possible any disciples want to elect us as spiritual leaders, we are ok : nothing better than a good old sect to make lots of money without being trampled and abused its followers ...).

I guess the end of Cathedral nearby wasn't a very good news for you as fans, with that happening, the coming back of St Vitus with especially a brand new album is a great pleasure,  right?

S : I admit, doing the first part of Cathedral was one of my secret fantasies. Now, barring a miracle, it seems grated (unless playing in Lourdes, perhaps). That said, there is not just Messiah's who die and rise again, who knows if this split is final, see Black Sabbath with Dio (sorry, Heaven and Hell) and St. Vitus, precisely, for whom a new split probably drown Rudolph into a deep depression. I await their new album with impatience, will they live up to their legend? Sometimes, even the gods can fail ...

The Holy Trinity (Black Sabbath, Cathedral and St Vitus) that you cite as influence, that's cool ok, but that's not necessarily all in a doomster's life, so which more recent bands do you particularly enjoy? (frenchies included!)

S : In total disorder: Ramesses, The Puritan, Cough, Blood Ceremony, Lord Vicar ... Personally, I really appreciate the last Wounded Kings, its daring and hypnotic mood with regard to the genre (I think especailly about the use of piano). At the risk of being expelled from true metalheads paradise, we really liked Ghost ... although it has a just a bit to do with doom (or metal ...). For nationals: Huata, The Bottle Doom Lazy Band, Hangman's Chair are unanimous in our congregation.

Any plan for future gigs? I suppose that nothing's easy to find some in France, according to yo, what can "repulse" most, the fact that you play doom or the religious connotation of  your name?

S : Both, sir! Even some close friends have raised questions about us after the release of the album ... And when you see how many we were at the Glaz'Art in Paris for Blood Ceremony who have still two albums under their belts, you know that programmers are not going to fight to get the unknown Barabbas .. . But we still have some dates to be confirmed for the autumn and we perform a mini-concert for 30 minutes next 25th June à l'Empreinte (Savigny-le-Temple, in 77). Economic miracle: the entrance is free! Deaf brothers, if you're in the neighborhood...

The end has come, last words ? thank you very much Stéphane and  long live BARABBAS!

S : That's us who thank you for opening us your doors to the Temple of Perdition and contribute to the spread of the Gospel Sonic Barabbas. For the final word, in these troubled times, what would you think about : "Love each other"? Well thinking again, I have the feeling of having yet heard it somewhere ...

Interview By Steph ( Temple of Perdition )



In their continued reign of bringing some of the most talented, underground bands on the heaviest end of the musical spectrum to the public, Southern Lord have just unveiled their upcoming schedule for the remainder of the year, including releases from NOOTHGRUSH, DEAD IN THE DIRT, WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, BLACK COBRA, CRAFT, HEARTLESS and SUNN 0))).

This coming Tuesday, September 27th, prepare for a crushing live release from one of the sludge metal scene’s most underrated, unsung, and recently reformed acts; NOOTHGRUSH. Southern Lord will drop the notorious Bay Area act’s Live for Nothing CD, bearing an hour and 20 minutes of some of the most low-end sludge/doom known to man. The record hosts two live radio broadcasts from NOOTHGRUSH; the first from KZSU from 1996 and the other from KFJC in 1999. Both recordings are a precise document of the powerful group in their prime, the recordings were mastered by From Ashes Rise guitarist Brad Boatright. The label will then release the gatefold 2xLP vinyl edition of Live For Nothing on November 8th.

DEAD IN THE DIRT’s debut 7” Fear will be released will be released next week as well. The Atlanta-based band's unhinged style draws from the discordant heaviness His Hero is Gone, the urgency of Cursed, the speed of DropDead and the blackened darkness of Deathspell Omega. Fear, is literally one of the heaviest and most brutal recordings from a new act to come out in recent times, and will see a one-time pressing of 1500 copies via Southern Lord on September 27, 2011, and once it's sold out, it's dead. Catch DEAD IN THE DIRT still on their current tour through next week and watch for much more in the coming weeks. And find a full stream of DEAD IN THE DIRT's Fear EP via BrooklynVegan RIGHT HERE.

A record as dynamic as it is devastating, Invernal, the almighty fourth full-length from San Francisco’s BLACK COBRA, will finally bulldoze its way into the hands of North American fans on CD this October 11th, and on gatefold-jacketed LP to be released in the months ahead. Raging with whiplash-inducing time change-ups and wreaking more damage than lineups three times the size of this brutalizing duo, BLACK COBRA will be on the road with Kyuss Lives! in November and December and will be announcing countless more support and headlining tours through 2012, as always proving to remain one of the hardest-working bands on the scene.

Washington’s WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM recently set free their fourth full-length Celestial Lineage on CD September 13th, boasting some of the clan’s most majestic and mammoth black metal magic to date, and bringing their ongoing trilogy of albums to a brilliant finale. Celestial Lineage has been overtaking their fans and the media, bringing hundreds of fans to nearly every show of their ongoing North American tour. The new opus will be presented on 2xLP this October 25th. Following their currently ongoing North American tour, WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM will embark on their European phase in support of Celestial Lineage.

On October 25th, Swedish horde CRAFT will once again threaten humanity with their gritty, orthodox style of blackened might via the official North American release of their newest full-length, Void. followed by a 12” vinyl pressing on November 8th. Void delivers a nine-track convoy of black hymns over forty nine-minutes, showcasing CRAFT integrating more black 'n roll vibes and slow-motion suicidal stomps, and ultimately spewing forth some of this hateful Scandinavian crew's swiftest and cruelest punishment to date.

Pittsburgh hardcore warriors HEARTLESS will make their Southern Lord debut this autumn, with the release of Hell Is Other People. HEARTLESS’ sound is exactly what their moniker implies; brutal, suffocating, and void of remorse. Bellowing with sinister, mayhem that diehards of metallic hardcore in the vein of Integrity, Cursed or Nails, rushing with crust/powerviolence intensity. Following a rash of 7” releases via an array of D.I.Y. labels over the past handful of years, the band’s debut full-length Hell Is Other People will see a North American compact disc release on November 8th, and on LP November at a later date to be announced shortly. Stay tuned for continuous updates on this unit into 2012.

Closing out the 2011 release schedule, Southern Lord will proudly reissue SUNN 0)))'s long out-of-print sophomore album ØØ Void, finally finding its proper resting place. Following the duo's Grimmrobe Demos debut, ØØ Void was initially released in 2000 via HydraHead in North America and Rise Above in Europe, with only a limited reissue via Daymare Records in Japan in 2008, making these hymns virtually out of print for some eight years. Not only featuring the core guitarists Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson, ØØ Void features bass by Stuart Dahlquist (Burning Witch, Goatsnake), as well as guest contributions from Petra Haden (QOTSA, Foo Fighters, The Decemberists) on violins and vocals, as well as Pete Stahl (Scream, Wool, Goatsnake, QOTSA) contributing vocals, and was recorded on 2" tape by Scott Reeder (The Obsessed, Kyuss, Goatsnake). This 2011 reissue features revamped artwork by Stephen Kasner and a layout by Stephen O'Malley. Now this highly sought-after catalog piece for worshippers of the pulverizing SUNN 0))) drone style will be available again via a proper Southern Lord reissue. The reissue of ØØ Void will hit North American streets on November 22nd via CD, with an LP pressing at a later date to be announced soon.

1000 Mods - Super Van Vacation ...

Many people will disagree with me on this one, but the golden era of stoner-rock ended many moons ago in my opinion. The style of high energy, fuzz rock is still well and truly alive but many bands just sound like recycled versions of Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Dozer and Truckfighters but there is still a few bands that stand out, one of those is the Greek band 1000 Mods. The album cover says it all, big fuzzy riffs, fast cars, boogie vans, Orange amps and the like and yes Fu Manchu did it all 15 years ago but great music is great music, no matter how generic it might be. This album was produced by Billy Anderson so it has the stamp of quality right there and the sound of it doesn't disappoint, this thing rocks. The first thing that grabbed my attention while listening to this, is their style of stoner-rock is truly international on this release. Sometimes it is pure American, a-la vintage Alabama Thunderpussy while at other times, they sound like a Euro stoner-jam band like a Re-stoned or Color Haze. So even though this album carries on for well over an hour, it doesn't get too stale of repetitive but I have to admit, it is still too-long for my liking.

1000 Mods for the most part play straight-forward, traditional stoner-rock for the want of a better term. They sound like worshippers of the classicMonster Magnet records and of the desert rock scene when it was at its peak and they don't seem to care; it is all sounding a little long-in-the-tooth these days but you have to admire the attitude. The album is riffs, riffs and more riffs, big, loud and extremely fuzzy but with little variation which can be good or bad depending on your own personal taste. For me, I like a straight-forward riff-rock album now and then but it has to have variations to the formula for me to want to listen to it for over an hour and 'Super Van Vacation' does get a little testing after 40 or so minutes.

'Road to Burn,' 'Vidage,' 'Track Me,' 'Abel,' and the title track are the albums longest tracks and the ones where the band stretches the most, musically. There is a lot of swaggering grooves, nifty energetic riffing but it is in tracks such as 'Vidage' where they add other elements that the band is at their most interesting. That track starts mellow and has a building, mesmerizing arrangement so when the 'heavy' kicks in, it is very atmospheric. 'Track Me' also has some interesting moments of variation; for the most part it sounds pure European stoner-jam music in the vein of Astrosoniq and has a 'Color Haze kind of vibe.

Songs like 'El Rollito' and 'Johnys' show the band at their most generic and straight-forward but this is where the band is at its best. They are truly masters of the big, plain and simple kick-ass riff and this comes off better to my ears than when they try to branch out into more jammy areas of stonerism. But by the time the last two tracks roll around, 'Abell' and the title track, 'Super Van Vacation' things start to drag in my opinion. There is nothing wrong with the band, instrumentally or otherwise, it is just that there is not enough variation to sustain interest for the entire 65 minutes. It is a pity because I suspect a lot of great music is going to be ignored, not listened to or simply forgotten due to the extended running time of the disc but shave 20 minutes off this album and it could be considered a classic release.

Folks who worship the mighty riff and fans of Truckfighters, Fu Manchu, Astrosoniq, Alabama Thunderpussy, Color Haze, Dozer, Monster Magnet and Kyuss should all get a lot of enjoyment out the 'Super Van Vacation' album. Nothing new here, just a fine although too long riff-rock record.....8/10

1000mods @ Facebook

Sep 23, 2011

Brainoil - Death of This Dry Season ...

As my daughter would say; eewwwww, this is icky!! This is indeed some nasty sludge-metal from Oakland, California's Brainoil. The band has been around for some 13 years now but still remain buried in the swampy underground doom and sludge-metal scene. The problem is a lack of recorded material; this album comes 8 years after their last self-titled full length and before that, there was just a couple of split releases so they haven't put out much in all this time. Now for the kick-off, 'Death of this Dry Season' is only a disappointing 25 minutes long so it is hardly a full-length album but in that 25 minutes, Brainoil unleashed some vicious, pummeling sludge that is well, groovy! This is pretty catchy stuff for a sludge-metal band, absolutely not mainstream in any stretch of the imagination but still very assessable. The production on this release is muddy and while this would be a flaw to most bands, it actually works in Brainoil's favor on this release. This is also mixed very well in terms of where the instruments and vocals sit in the mix. It seems they have got the levels just right on this one.

The title-track kicks things off, sounding really old-school in many respects. In some ways, this sounds more like a really heavy stoner-rock tune from the 90's than it does a modern sludge-metal track. There is killer, infectious grooves and throbbing, loud bass, and some really powerful drumming. It also has one of the key ingredients for a sludge-band, "misanthropic atmosphere." The song is built around faster than usual sludge metal tempos but it is still thick, crushing and it has the raspy vocals you would expect from a sludge-band. The track is nothing special though as it is pretty generic, sludge-metal but the infectious nature of it all makes it enjoyable.

'Gravity Is a Relic' is also very upbeat and follows on in a similar fashion to the opening track. The first real gem is up next with 'Opaque Reflections' and this is where the band really comes into its own. Glorious feedback kicks off proceedings and then it is a visceral barrage from then on. Brainoil are not what you would call progressive, they are not going to be called the next Mastodon or anything like that either but tracks like this one suggest that they are heading in a somewhat different direction compared with your standard sludge-metal band. The music seems a little too upbeat for me to be called pure-sludge yet they have all the harsh elements associated with the sludge-genre and they also have inflections of punk-rock that sets them apart from the norm.

'Feet Cling To The Rotting Soil' is a good example of the hardcore, punkish energy that they project through most of this mini-album. While none of this is really complex, the way the riffs, drums, and vocals are presented is totally intricate, making this a compelling, brutal track. They still have their fair share of doomy breakdowns but it is when they speed up again, they seem to be in their element. 'To Bury the Pages of Existence' packs punk, doom, sludge, southern-blues all into just 2:13 minutes of song. A very exciting track but it is over in the blink of the eye. 'Crimson Shadows' is one of the album's more crusty moments; it has some nice shifts between ugly, punkish sludge and downtrodden doom-metal. The release ends on 'The Beauty of Death' which has hints of infectious melody in among the crusty but groovy riffing. Good track but one that sounds kind of formulaic and that leads me to my next point.

The only real problem with this is, if you take special note of what is going on in the first track; you have heard the whole release. There is not a hell of a lot of variation and while that is not really a problem, (after-all, most sludge bands are like this anyway) it sounds real samey by the halfway point in the album. They have a habit of starting songs off fast only to head in a doomy, more tradition sludge direction by the end of the track and this formula is repeated through the album's 25 minutes. It is only a minor gripe but it gets kind of predictable, really quickly. Apart from that, this is pretty good. The playing is top-notch; the drumming in particular is always powerfully interesting and the whole thing crushes with energetic intensity. I was expecting a little more from them, seeing as it has been 8 years since their last album but this is good enough. Worth checking out...............7.5/10

Brainoil Official
Brainoil @ Myspace
20 Buck Spin Website

Sep 22, 2011

Avant-Garde Rock Maestros Virus Added To Roadburn 2012 line-up; Hexvessel and Dark Buddha Rising Confirmed ...

From Roadburn.Com ...

Avant-garde rock maestros Virus, led by former Ved Buens Ende mastermind Carl-Michael Eide (a.k.a Czral), are one of the finest, most exquisite musical exports Norway has to offer at this very moment. Its very hard to describe the musical universe of Virus... think a vast spectrum of genres, ranging from psychedelic to krautrock and from rock via jazz to avant-metal, but all weird and trippy in an inexplicably elegant way... and then at the same time it's really catchy, too!

Virus either smothers your inner demons, or gives them new life, as they pull you in all different directions. Their latest album, The Agent That Shapes The Desert, ranks amongst the very best metal albums of the year. To hell with the term progressive, what Virus does is beyond even futuristic -- they are otherworldly, sublime. Virus will appear on Thursday, 12 April at the 013 venue, Tilburg, Holland.

Finland’s psychedelic, haunting, folk rock band Hexvessel (Friday, 13 April) and Finnish drone / occult / metalnecromancers Dark Buddha Rising (Saturday, 14 April) have also been confirmed for Roadburn 2012.

Sponsored by UK's Terrorizer and Germany's Rock Hard, Roadburn Festival 2012, including, Sleep, OM, d.USK, Agalloch, Devil, Solstafir and Voivod's curated event among others, will run for four days from Thursday, 12 April to Sunday, 15 April (the traditional afterburner) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.

Pre-sales will start Saturday, 26 November, 2011.

For more info, please visit Roadburn.Com

Sep 21, 2011

Isole - Born From Shadows ...

The river Isole flows through Finistère in the region of Brittany in France, near Roudouallec. Another town on the Isole is Scaër. At the town of Quimperlé it is joined by the Ellé to form the Laïta that flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Le Pouldu. I imagine that is where this band from Sweden got their name from but I could be wrong; just think of it as a little geography lesson for you all. Isole are one of those curious bands I have been listening to for a long-time but still know very little about really. I know they formed in 2004 and used to be called Forlorn and band members, past and present have played in bands such as Undivine, Ereb Altor, Morannon, Complicity, Nightchant and Withered Beauty. I have also been hearing for years what an incredible live band they are. The live-reports always say the band are highly professional and are one of the very best Swedish doom-acts to see in a live-setting.

Their studio output though, got off to a shaky start in my opinion with the début, 'Forevermore' released in 2005 but then they turned it all around for a stellar release, the following year with the 'Throne of Void' album. That album got compared to the likes of Solstice and Candlemass but they also had their own, unique individuality. From 2006 onwards, they have been on a bit of a roll. Great albums in 2008 and 2009 with 'Bliss of Solitude' and 'Silent Ruins' and then they went a bit quiet apart from a split release they did with Semlah in 2010. So I have looked forward for a new full-length album for too long now but the promo arrived in my inbox and I couldn't be happier. This album titled 'Born From Shadows' is another high-quality release from a band that can't seem to do no wrong. The band has always worn its influences on their sleeves and are proud of it. This album doesn't really change that fact either. The band is still in the vein of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus but personally I hope they never change. While there is many more original bands in the doom-metal scene, there is few as constantly good as Isole.

Isole are text-book traditional doom-metal, no more, no less and if you are an experienced listener of trad-doom bands, then you will know exactly what to expect but what sets Isole head and shoulders above many others is their use of compelling, haunting melodies that have been the focus of most of their albums so far. This album is no different but the melodies seem even more captivating and dare I say, infectious on this record. Of course, people who are not in love with the doom genre in the same way as me and many readers of Doommantia wouldn't understand the use of the term "infectious" when describing a 'doom act' but there is a certain, almost indefinable something that great doom-metal bands have, that black, death and thrash bands just don't and never will. Isole are a perfect example of this musical phenomenon; simply put, the riffs, melodies and vocals send a chill up the spine and are emotionally gut-wrenching.

They have a spectacular vocalist and guitarist in Daniel Bryntse who sings in the Rob Lowe tradition and does it with total emotion. He also has the uncanny knack of conveying the mournful sadness needed to sell a melancholic doom tune. But vocals aside for a while, what about the music on this album? There is 7 songs, mostly epic with most ranging from 7 to 10 minutes and it has no real filler. It does have a couple of passages that drag but these are short-lived and a minor disruption to this very solid album. The musicianship is excellent as always but they sound even more sophisticated now. The guitar work could be considered 'generic' in doom terms but the strong melodies and variations within each song keeps this album interesting.

Isole are 100% doom-metal but they do bring in elements of more extreme styles of metal in small but very effective doses. Of course, you get the death growls - pretty typical for doom bands these days but there is also black-metal tinged riffing in places too but never once does it sound like a hybrid of styles, it still reeks of crushing doom with melody. Even when the drumming picks up the pace, it still sounds like a doom band even though some of the drumming is actually pretty fast. On the other side of the coin, they are not afraid in blend in goth elements that are similar to My Dying Bride; so it is a fairly diverse album overall. These songs are mostly straight-forward in the traditional sense but they also have more complex, proggy elements, although it took a couple of spins before I really became aware of the songs intricacies. This album takes a few spins before you can really get to know it and appreciate it fully.

Highlights: 'The Lake,' 'Black Hours,' 'My Angel' and the title track, 'Born From Shadows' but really, every track is very good. Fans of classic traditional doom-metal should find this a worthy addition to their collection. The official release date is October 28th and is going to be on the Napalm Records label - mark it on your calendars now.................9/10.

Isole @ Facebook
Isole Official
Isole @ Myspace

Rwake - Rest ...

Someone I know mentioned that the new Rwake release might be the eventual solution for people who were disaffected by the new Mastodon album. The connection isn't that evident, but if you felt somehow disappointed by Mastodon's rock approach, Rwake definitely deliver a much more visceral, oppressive and unrelentingly heavy experience for you. The band has never been simple or easy to decipher, for me. “Voice Of Omens” was labeled as a Post-Metal album, but I never felt like that record could be dumped within the tons of Isis/Neurosis clones that seem to clog up the genre. Rwake's approach was, and still is, way more evolved than that. Yes, they still go for the throat, with long, brutal, heavy songs, but there's something in their sound that goes for a whole different feeling too.

With “Rest”, they have created whats possibly their bleakest, more gut wrenching release to date. Possibly one of the most chilling discomforting albums that the post-sludge scene has given us in quite some time too. Of course, we aint talking about a sound that's usually light-hearted or groovy but there's an edge here that really struck a weird chord in me. After the opening instrumental, the dirging, apocalyptic chords of “It Was Beautiful But Now Its Sour” blast off. The vocals are of the hardcore bred type, guttural, dripping with anger and terror but they have a unearthy, disturbing tone to them. It's like hearing a man possessed screaming a ritual in order to awake some sort of insane demon from the dpth of the sea. And if that description sounds excessively clourful, just listen to the song.

From there on, the music spirals into darkness and fear. The band takes its time to create some more layered, moody passages, but when those are done, the guitars blast off again, slowly, inexorably, sometimes coupling with eerie synths that make the vibe even more disturbing and emotional. What really makes this album peculiar is how it feels literally like a descent into chaos. The music pummel's and pummel's, pausing at times for a breather but just to hit again. Its like hearing some hyper distorted take on Lovecraft's stories, gone sludgy. It crushes and makes you feel palpably oppressed. It could almost be seen as a flaw. The album is great but almost too focused on intensity at times. Still, it works and hits you right in the guts. Definitely a keeper, and I didn't expect anything less from them.

Review Written By Andrea Contanzo.

Rwake @ Myspace

Black Skies Dawn - S/T ...

This is a much overdue review for Black Skies Dawn's self-titled début but there is a reason behind the delay. This album did the rounds of a couple of reviewers only to find its way back to me as no one knew what to do with it. It is not that this UK trio are bad but this one of the most frustrating albums you could ever possibly have to review. So I have the album in my possession once again and it is up to me to get this review out there and here is a warning, it is going to be a bumpy ride. So let's get the basics out-of-the-way first. Black Skies Dawn play stoner-metal mixed with a little doom and more traditional heavy metal sounds. Their approach is all British, all classic and certainly all heavy so their influences are all in the right place. They also use the slow to fast approach to song-building quite well in places too and there is also some tasty riffing throughout the album. None of this riffing will exactly leave you on the floor in amazement but it is solid all the same.

The album which runs for over an hour is a little long and is a bit short on ideas but there is some highlights worth mentioning. 'Sun Dancing Seas' has some fine, ear-catching instrumental sections. 'Bound to the Black Monolith' has an epic vibe and is a good attempt at capturing an atmosphere. The album longest track, 'Persecution and Execution' also has its moments where everything comes together for a fine and dandy stoner-doom track. The odd and somewhat frustrating part of the album playlist is the most dynamic and interesting tracks are saved for last with 'Other Way' and 'Bossonian Marches.' The guitar work in these two tunes are mesmerizing and atmospheric so it makes you wonder why did they leave these songs for last and why couldn't they have brought in these kinds of dynamics into other tracks on the album.

Now this is where, things get a bit ugly. The album has very average production with the main problem being the vocal mix. There is no way around it but the vocals here are so irritating, it makes it very hard to get through one track, let alone an hours worth of this stuff. His voice itself is fine, it fits in very well with other vocalists with the doom and stoner-metal scenes; the problem is the way it is delivered and mixed. It is too loud and too over-the-top of everything else thus destroying any hope of enjoying what the guitars or drums might be doing. I repeat, the vocals are not bad but they need to re-think the entire way they approach vocals and their placement within the bands sound. One guy I gave this CD to, to possibly review couldn't get past 10 minutes into the album because the voice diminish any hope for him to a handle on what the rest of the band is doing. I don't think it is quite that bad but is sure as hell is a major stimulus with undesirable consequences.

What really sucks is there is huge potential in the grooves and riffs but it is wrecked by the vocals which is a shame. It really is a case of 'great ideas, riffs, and concepts' but can you do it again please? If I could somehow train my ears to block out the vocals, I would rate this album pretty high but I have no such skill. As it is, I give this a 4/10 for the bands potential to do better next time. I hate bringing bands down in this way but honestly is the best policy.

Black Skies Dawn @ Facebook
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