Oct 31, 2011

The House of Capricorn - In the Devil's Days ...

If you read Sarp's review of the last House of Capricorn album, (READ IT HERE) you would have read that the album is a little long and has a tendency to drag a little. Well if you thought that was right on the money, this new album is even worse. 'In the Devil's Days' is well over 70 minutes of stoner-doom metal and with overly extended pieces that do get a bit tedious but damn, there is some seriously great atmospheric metal within its slightly ponderous, and awkward journey.

What gets me about this band from New Zealand is how stylistically diverse they are. They have the trad-doom elements a-la Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus but there is also a range of sounds and styles that are similar to that of Kyuss, Paradise Lost, Danzig and Type O Negative. In fact, there is a lot on this album which sounds like a throwback to mid 90's metal and gothic rock so this is a real varied and diverse album that leaves you wondering, where exactly does this band fit in. The variation that the album supplies is everything from slow, downtrodden doom plodders to mid-tempo stoner-metal burners to other passages that sound more like generic heavy metal and hard rock from the 80's and 90's.

At times the album is insanely catchy with infectious hooks popping up regularly throughout its 70 plus minutes but for me personally, the band really hits pay dirt when it takes a few chances and changes the atmosphere and direction of the album completely and this occurs several times during the CD.

The opening 'All Hail To The Netherworld' is upbeat with an infectious chorus. You could be forgiven at this early stage in the album in thinking, this band has nothing to do with doom-metal at all but when the doom does hit, it hits hard. The second track is the very sabbathy 'Les Innocents' which is over 10 minutes of morose, downtrodden, dark-doom that is anything but upbeat. The only drawback with this tune is it seems powerfully epic at first only to sound rather routine and familiar by the five-minute mark and then there is still another five minutes of song to endure before it's over. It is not exactly boring but it is not exactly captivating either. There is another track on the album that more-or-less repeats this formula called 'Horns.' This one is even bleaker in some respects but it's also even longer at 14 minutes and even more tedious.

'Horns' is spooky, dark, depressing, and very atmospheric but it is hard to stay focused on it for its entire 14 minutes. It kind of loses its impact halfway through to me and people with short attention spans will find tracks like these two a real chore to get though. Because of the length of these tracks, they tend to overshadow the real good tracks on the album. 'Coffins and Cloven Hooves' is a fine track that picks up the pace and changes the atmosphere in very dramatic fashion. There are great energetic riffs that come at you fast and hard and like the album's opening tune, it is very catchy. 'Arcane Delve' is catchy but a bit hit or miss depending on your mood. 'Canto IV' is a short instrumental interlude and nothing remarkable. 'Veils' is another epic doom track but more melodic than the other extended doom tracks on the album. Again it is stretched beyond its limits, almost 10 minutes with this one but there is no doubting the emotionally draining intensity of the track.

'To Carry The Lantern' has another great chorus and has fine guitar work. This track (and others too) has a kind of Type O Negative vibe going on, one listen and you will hear it too. There are many moments on this album that cry out 1990's hard rock and metal and this is one of them. 'Illumination In Omega' marks the point in the album where it really becomes an effort to keep listening. This track is inventive but overly dramatic to the point of overkill, the acoustics and backing vocals sound awkward. The album closes with another shift in atmosphere and direction with the title track that has an emphasis on big vocal melodies and this is a very good closing tune. So as you might have guessed by now, I have mixed feelings about 'In The Devil's Days.' Some of it is great, some of it sounds like generic ideas slapped together. The musicians in the band are excellent though, Marko Pavlovic has a great voice and the semi-satanic lyrics are interesting and sometimes a lot of fun to listen to. The guitar playing is also great and played with a great deal of finesse. The drumming is crisp, and solid throughout the album.

The atmosphere during some of the tracks is engaging and sometimes really creepy, the longer doom-inspired tracks have a sorrowful, depressing vibe that can match it with any other trad, stoner, or funeral doom act but oddly enough, it is the faster, more energetic tracks where the band really seem to shine. There is catchy hooks, grooves, and great vocal melodies that are instantly memorable so there is no question that the band have the ability to release quality albums. This album though is too long with too much emphasis on the long, doom epics that overshadowed the finer tunes on the recording. I still highly recommend people check this album out but I also think the best work of this band is still to come, time will tell.....7/10.

The House of Capricorn
The House of Capricorn @ Myspace

The Devil’s Blood – The Thousandfold Epicentre ...

For all our readers with ADD: yes The Thousandfold Epicentre is a brilliant album, yes it gets a 10 and yes you should buy it immediately. So order the album, and then get back here to read the entire review ?. On repeat ever since I got the promo, Thousandfold Epicentre is everything you could have ever hoped for, and more. I’ll try to write some comments that effect the album as a whole. The overall sound is more clearer, and I can think we can properly speak of an so-called ‘epic’ album, in its reach, execution and feel. There is an evident growth in both the craftsmanship or execution of the music by the musicians, and the overall quality of the musical product. I got into The Devil’s Blood when listening to The Time Of No Time Evermore. I got the demo of course, and Come, Reap, but I really started enjoying them with The Time Of No Time Evermore. Why? Because they managed to equal international (and historical) like-minded acts like Jex Thoth, Blood Ceremony, Coven, Black Widow, Roky Erickson, be it musically or inspirationally. The Graveyard Shuffle, I’ll Be Your Ghost and the aforementioned releases gain in my opinion from the quality of the stellar The Time Of No Time Evermore album. And now there is The Thousandfold Epicentre. I’ll try to calm my enthusiasm, but in every way it’s a very important release, both for the band as for the nice niche of occult rock that The Devil’s Blood now commands.

 It’s nice to be able to accurately hear the lyrics, Selim (guitar & mastermind of The Devil’s Blood) is a true poet of occult doom, and I think this album can be best appreciated when taken as a whole. That’s why I have the feeling we are dealing with a conceptual album here. I mean conceptual in the way that Selim magically focus his total energy in every single second of this release. He channels this nice Edgar Allen Poe sphere of beautiful hauntedness. For the duration of this album we are totally under his spell and we can delve safely in his poetics of lyrical Satanism, magick and what not.

As for the production, a lot of time must have been invested in adding little touches of extra instruments like various stringed instruments and organ or synthesizer. I was a bit hesitant when I heard the new material live in a tryout show, but hearing the total album with all its great details (and overdubs) it’s just plain magnificent. With this album, The Devil’s Blood aims high and the broad, overall approach works like a charm. If I were to describe the album as a whole, I would say: the tracks on this album really ‘belong’ to one another, and can best be appreciated as a whole, because of the story told in the songs. The construction of the tracks is done slowly, and that is why the impact of the album is so strong. Summed up, well, you get The Thousandfold Epicentre. By now we can safely state that The Devil’s Blood have transcended Jex Thoth and Blood Ceremony, and I can only shiver what their next step in musical occult domination will be. The artwork is beautiful, and I’m really looking forward to my vinyl copy of The Thousandfold Epicentre to fully appreciate the extensive artwork.

As for the songs, let’s delve somewhat deeper into them. Starting with Unending Singularity, this track serves as an intro to On The Wings Of Gloria, a seven minutes plus track that immediately shows you the growth that this band has made. On The Wings Of Gloria has this nice twang in the riff, and the vocals of Mouth introduce us to the new level of songwriting that The Devil’s Blood has achieved. Her voice seems even stronger than on previous releases, and I really love the added distorted background vocals. After four minutes, the energy is released, and we hear nice keys added to the chorus. The guitars and rhythm are in a healthy co-op, and Die The Death continues the sphere of the first track. Dig the la-la-la-la chorus! Within The Charnel House Of Love is another epic track, with nicely tempoed guitars and rhythm section. Cruel Lover is one of the favorites, with a galloping rhythm that will make you drool. After four minutes cosmic sounds are added (giving this and a couple of other tracks loose ‘space rock’ elements). She – we have arrived at track number six – is a straight occult rocker with very clear vocals. She is likely to become a live favorite, with a very memorable chorus and a plain and simple good song. The title track is a personal favorite, because of, well, everything. Just listen to the song and be happy. Oh yeah, the memorable riff I suppose, coupled to the lyrics – I’ll call youre your name – Devil! Fire Burning’s lyrics are penned by Saturnalia Temple’s brethren in occult doom, and the last three tracks – Everlasting Saturnalia, The Madness Of Serpents and Feverdance – really serve as one big monster track. Everlasting Saturnalia is fully centered on Mouth’s beautiful voice, and serves as intro to The Madness Of Serpents. More than eight minutes of occult bliss, and we end the disc (or vinyl) with Feverdance – lasting fifteen minutes plus. The track opens up with Mouth’s vocals hypnotizing you into a state where eventually you have to say farewell of wave goodbye to The Thousandfold Epicentre.

It’s a shame really that my scale goes up to 10 only, I wish I had an reviewer’s scale equivalent of Spinal Tap’s amplifier that goes up to 11… Here is a teaser: At YouTube but you can check more teasers at Van Records @ YouTube . I’m proud to be a Dutchman again :D......10/10

Words: Sandrijn van den Oever

The Devil's Blood @ Facebook
Van Records
The Devil's Blood Official

Oct 30, 2011

Vincebus Eruptum Issue 11 For Sale Now! ...

Issue 11 of Vincebus Eruptum is now available for sale. The cost is $8.50 shipped throughout North America. Supplies are limited so get your orders in now!

Issue 11 of the Italian heavy psych magazine Vincebus Eruptum features interviews with Blood Ceremony, The Atomic Bitchwax, Quest for Fire, L’Impero Delle Ombre, Black Pyramid, The Flying Eyes, The Mike Gunn and so much more.

This is a great fanzine so please support it and get yourself a copy.


The Heavy Eyes – S/T ...

Sometimes, I love being wrong. See, not too long ago, I reviewed the promo EP from these guys, and I said that it was a good thing the EP was short, because with this much groove and rock, our mortal brains couldn’tve handled it. Good news is, I was wrong, humans are able to listen to it, barely, but still. Even better news is, it’s a pretty amazing piece of work, too.

Luckily, our brains can handle it by generating copious amounts of serotonin. This album, running just over forty minutes in eleven songs, is one bundle of joy for those who enjoy their rock with lots of groove. Let me explain: The Heavy Eyes play heavy rock tinged with 70’s groove and stoner undertones. The guitarwork is groovy beyond belief and at time, jammy – they love adding small improvisational passages or variations on the riffs they were playing previously. Rumbling bass. Drumming that is sometimes so rapid that despite being told the drummer uses a single bass pedal, I find it hard to believe. One thing that stands out, what always stood out, was the vocal approach – the vocals are enjoyable, the lyrics good and delivery very catchy, which is a welcome break from a variety of bands that treat vocals like a second-tier element. The album also retains a certain lo-fi edge, it’s not completely lo-fi, of course, but has a raw sound to it, which is just what this band needs, if you ask me.

One more thing: the full-length includes the four tracks in the promo, so I will be using my earlier review as a reference point for those. Props to the band for having those tracks placed so well that they don’t disturb the flow of the album. Oh, and I will likely say “groove” a lot, because hey, that’s what this album is all about.

So. The album kicks off with “5%” which begins with a studio sound: “Ready?” It’s a valid question, because while it just begins with a rather simple groove it quickly moves on to the guitars laying down the same riff, moving up the fretboard and thinning the sound of it, the bass rumbles on and the drums lift up the whole thing. It’s one hell of an opener. Then comes the drum-driven “Pinwheel” setting the tone to a very nice stomper with the start-stop parts: instruments stop when the vocals kick in. The trick on this one is: the guitars play the main groove, move up and thin it, and then start playing different solos before re-uniting somewhere in the middle. It’s still an amazing track and fits incredibly.

Third in line is “Iron Giant” which is about a “tall, defiant Iron Giant.” The song itself is a giant as well, with impressive and top-notch grooves, pounding drums (that, at times, baffle me at how these rhythms are being pulled off with a single bass pedal) and good bass. The vocal delivery is especially delectable on this one, but what sets the tone is the rise-fall groove structure put forth by the guitars. Then comes “Voytek” which settles into an angular groove and at a comfortable pace. The song centers around the main riff and moves along using the variations of it – that is held together by excellent drums. This song shines in its transitions between various parts, as there are many riffs and they transition well.

As if to change the pace a bit, the band introduces bluesy guitars with “Wax Apple” which is about a man who can’t help but waste all of his money on girls. With quiet, easy-going, soft groove setting the tone, the band displays their typical flair by transforming the same groove into a rockin’ hook. The solo section is incredible, but the song is all about the flow – the movement of the story told in very nice vocals and good lyrics, and movement from the slow and steady to the delicious guitarwork. Nice. Next up is our bait-and-switch song, “Where is Wilder?” See, it begins with this heavy rock intro, a bit somber and resembling somewhat doomy variations of rock, but it quickly switches that up to a moving, good groove and incorporates what is otherwise somewhat introspective riff into the song by using it as a hook – brilliant song writing, that’s what that is. But, the actual bait-and-switch comes at the end, where the band seem to be meandering at a passage, right before launching into the two-minutes-plus jammy grooves marked by angular guitar work, nice soloing, bass leads and pounding drums, leading to a rockin’ finish.

As if to continue the last track, “It’s Been so Long” is one seriously, overtly rocking track. Its’ a stomping, raging track marked by soaring vocals, aggressive guitars and very, very good leads. Riffs are good, the solos are mind-blowing and the band takes a tangent of sorts: see, after a certain part, as a bridge, the band plays the earlier sections a bit faster and introduce a little variation, but they manage to shift the mood entirely with it. Interesting, to say the least, and the in-studio banter asks at the end, “How do you feel about that?” Well, I feel good, thank you. Then comes “In Need” which is best described as a flurry of riffs – the riffing feels like a surge, onwards and over you, crashing across the riverbed. The mid-tempo churner has very nice lyrics and a catchy hook as always, and jammy grooves move it along and you know what you are in need of – more of this. So much more of it.

Not one to shirk from giving more, the album continues with “Drifter” which kicks off with this rockin’ bass line thumping. The guitars follow that bass line and add a little bit of variation at the end. The song has a sharper edge, but it is displayed in the typical Heavy Eyes style, with jam-like variations and surging, rushing riffs that flow into one another and are held together with thunderous drumming and rumbling bass. Next up is “Supermoon.” This is one of the more technical moments of the album, the guitars and the bass angling themselves at a certain geometric position and the vocals providing the needed touch to smooth the rough edges, and the dirty drums are a joy to listen to.

The ride comes to an end with “Wolf Tickets,” which opens like how every closer should: warm, somber but glad to have taken the ride at all. It opens with a riff that’s a little more on the technical side, but quickly moves onto the rockin’ pastures we have known The Heavy Eyes for. This is one of the harder tracks on the record, with the band choosing bass, drum attacks and sharp-as-a-razor guitarwork and riffs aplenty (that transition well and make the track sound like a jam in and of itself) to go out with a bang. The track is hard to get a hold of, as it’s constantly on the move and rarely keeps to one riff, and the fact that they manage to condense so many into a singular track, the closer at that, is… wow, man. Just wow.

IF YOU’D ASK HOW WELL THE HEAVY EYES FARED, I’D SAY, PRETTY WELL. The album rocks, grooves, stomps and moves start to finish. Riffs aplenty, grooves abound and everything is held together by excellent musicianship and harmonious instrumentalization. The songs are incredibly well-structured, the album flows well, the lyrics and vocals are very good, the drumming is mind-blowing and the guitars… speechless on that front. And, I think, still, one plus is that the album does well not to wear out its welcome. It’s perfect at the length it is, any more and it could get a little challenging, any less I would just say that it could do with another song perhaps. So yeah, this album is a well-thought out, well-executed and well-structured. Not one song repeats, and though some elements are constant, it’s good that they are. It’s a heavy, riff-tastic, mind-blowing beast of an album. A well-deserved, well-earned 10/10. Get it good.

Words: Sarp Esin

The Heavy Eyes @ Bandcamp

Oruga – S/T ...

Remember when I said there should be a term, “sludgedoom” or “doomsludge” with no slash or dash needed? Well, we’re back to that with this, because it’s the best way to describe this French monolith and underground hit, Oruga. Oh, and one thing before I go: this review is long, long overdue, I know. I’m such a scatterbrain sometimes, and more often than not, late in the game, too. Anyway.

French bands, to me, always had this weird edge; maybe it’s my long-standing association with French cinema, but I always pause when I see that a band is from France. No offense to the country or it’s people, it’s just that I’ve come to expect something completely off-kilter. Then came Oruga, the underground hit everybody seemed to be in on, so I decided, why not, I’ll give them a go. They basically play down-tuned, nasty, suffocating, snail-paced, sludge-laced doom-influenced, drone-flavored metal. That’s basically what they do. So we have guitars tuned all the way down to hell and almost droning in their tone and usage, grumbling bass, minimal drumming, and vocals that can only be described as enfeebled shouts – the guy seriously sounds like he’s gasping for air half the time. Add to that the occasional solo-like (that are never actually solos in the conventional sense) guitar sweeps, and you have the Oruga style down.

The ride starts with “Northern Promises” that displays Oruga’s talent. The main riff falls, drags and rises and is a very technical one played at low tempo, accompanied by punctuating drums and steady bass. It alternates between this riff and a more flowing, let-it-ride passage/hook that grooves and crawls, right before hitting an upward hill of a more steady, if a little slower groove. They polish it off with a nice solo and bring it to a close and you wonder just what the hell that steamroller driver was drinking. Then comes “Kissing the Void” and there, Oruga starts churning the riffs, spiraling them around the vocals at first, with a beginning solo to boot, before settling into more grooving, angular main riff that they punctuate with riding passages. Similar to the first track, the band plays along and settles into that comfortable pace until they hit a steep sludge hill, where slabs slow down even more and embellish it first with a solo, and then with guitar feedback and off-kilter bass.

Then comes “My 9/11” and it plays out just like you expect from a song referencing the day when everything changed – it’s a suffocating, harsh track that follows dense, angular riffing to a doomsludgier (told you, I’m hoping to coin a term) hook, and to switch it up, they give it to you raw at first and embellish it with sharp licks of guitar the second time around. The song is the first time, also, when Oruga decide to slow down just a tad, for about a minute, and give you spoken-word vocalizations before hitting an ascending bridge and adding technical drumming into the mix returning to where it started. It’s a song that goes places, that much is certain. Switching it up to create a bit of a brighter (read “gray skies in the morning and no rain”) mood, as if sensing we need some sort of reprieve, the band moves closer to a rock moment in “Like a Stone in the Water” and draw closer to more atmospheric, moody stoner pieces in their delivery. The track crawls, following the Oruga pattern, until a certain point, using angular grooves as its ground-slime for barely-faster-than-a-snail pace in inducing filthy, swampy doom, but then suddenly hits a rock hill and starts bringing it. Therein they decide to experiment and create melody out of what is otherwise feedback and guitar noise, which yields an interesting, smile-worthy result and finish it off with more of their beastly slabs and sweeps of guitar.

The EP comes to a close with “Crimson Dawn” where the band approaches something akin to melancholy. I swear it, it’s the strangest mood buried between the droning slabs and melodic licks of guitar. The band has its heavy metal-like moment with vocal harmonies (yes, pleasant vocal harmonies on this misery-inducer.) It shows off good range far as the band’s concerned, but keeps the slow-paced, choking misery air of the rest of the album, along with the technically-sound riffs and sludgy, droning tones.

While I found Oruga’s offering enjoyable, there are some things I decidedly did not like. The sound was too dense, too dark and too suffocating that it’s a mood-killer – perfect if you want your mood hacked to pieces and bloody on the ground, but for me, it can’t be listened at all times (or in very long intervals, three tracks max) and it is a minus. Further, I find the sound a little too undefined – not in a lo-fi way, mind, just… let me put it this way, alright, when I say “doomsludge” I mean sludge metal’s unpleasantness and desire to challenge the listener expressed in slabs and doom grooves – it’s a combination that is too hit-and-miss at times and the sludge influence takes away from the refinement of the doom. But otherwise, if choking, impending-doom/buried-alive type atmosphere and droning riffs are your thing, I doubt you’ll be unsatisfied. 7/10.

Words: Sarp Esin.

Oruga @ Myspace

Rue - Thorns ...

Rue from Akron, Ohio are quite achievers and one of the best kept secrets of the underground heavy-music scene. The band has been together for at least 8 years and kept the same line-up (or close to it at least) for all that time but very few people have ever acknowledged how good they are. This is likely to change now with the release of 'Thorns,' the long-awaited second full-length album from the band. The first full length came out in 2003 so this a long-time coming but the wait has been worth it, this is a great album. The official release is due to land in a week or two and this is sure to generate a buzz when it does. 'Thorns' is an angry, filthy album that also has a quality production and is full of ear-catching melodies, guitar dynamics, tempo changes, and changes in genre direction. It is a slightly progressive sludge-metal album that easily switches gear into full-blown doom at times and they covers sounds and styles that range from Eyehategod to Mastodon to everything in-between.

The title track kicks off the album with an acoustic instrumental that provides the intro for 'Brown' and then the album is full steam ahead from there on, churning out massive amounts of riffs, grooves, and aggressive power. 'Brown' is a chaotic track filled with feedback, insane drumming, massive doom riffs played over the top of abrasive vocals. The doomy riffing is at odds with the drum work and the vocals but it all fits making this a powerhouse track that will throw your body up against the wall with the sheer indignant rage of it all.

The thirteen tracks on the album display no filler, it is a well-balanced recording from start to finish and choosing highlights is almost impossible. 'For Thousands of Years' has irresistible grooves and hooks that changes gears between aggressive plod one minute to intense mid-tempo chaos the next. The next track 'Sadaver' is a masterpiece, no other way to put it. Combining sabbathian riffage with the pissed-off aggression of a Eyehategod, this is a jaw-dropping exercise in blending different styles all into the one track and delivering each one with the utmost precision. If I had to name just one tune as a highlight, this is the one.

'Broken Arms Broken Wings' is sludge given a shot of speed, this high energy romp is crossover doomy sludge at its most groove-laden but within the ugliness is some fine, dare I say classy musicianship. 'Storm and Sea' keeps the mid-tempo aggression going while the following 'Preassures' takes the foot off the gas ever so slighty for some bluesy-doom riffing with a southern-rock edge. 'Choice' and 'Strong Will Evolve' keeps the filthy sludge workout in high gear and there isn't a break from the iniquitousness depravity anywhere. If there is an issue, it is the albums second half is just a repeat of the albums first half, going as far to have an acoustic title track reprise as the albums closing track. Repeating the formula, if you can call it that is not a problem if it kicks ass and sounds awesome so even though, the album gets a little predictable six and seven songs in, it still keeps you listening right till the end. 'High Iron Blues,' 'Everfailure,' and 'A Walk of Lies' are the three tunes that take the album to its acoustically based outro and each tune is great but it is more of the same southern-fried, angry doomy sludge.

A few things makes 'Thorns' stand head and shoulders above over sludge releases. One is vocalist Jeff Fahl who has one of the best voices for this style of heavy. He barks, he croons, screams, screeches, and he delivers infectious melodies and sometimes all within the same song. At times he sounds like a total maniac incapable of showing any compassion, other times he comes off as a deranged but a sensitive human-being delivering great melody lines. His colorful performance on this album is one of the key elements that makes this essential listening. The guitar of Mike Burns is dynamic and explosive, churning out masterful riff after masterful riff and the drumming of Greg Cook is well, insane! The songs here are extremely well-played and arranged and very much well thought-out. Rue don't take the easy route with their brand of sludge, there is constant deviations in structure and tempos that makes this one of the most exciting sludge releases in recent years....A must have...9.5/10.

Rue Official
Rue @ Shifty Records

Been Obscene – Night O’Mine Review #2 ...

Oh yeah, another great rocker from Germany. What is it about Germany and heavy psychedelics? Another great horse from the Elektrohasch’ stable, Been Obscene hail from Salzburg. They originally started their career in 2007, and Night O’Mine is their sophomore effort. Read a review on their début here: Doommantia.  Listening to this album reminds me of an age when stoner wasn’t taking itself too seriously, and making music was about plain fun. Not that you’ll find ‘funny’ music on Night O’Mine, but the whole atmosphere is so relaxed & loose that you can literally taste the fun the musicians must have had when recording this. Listen for example to the title song – Night O’Mine – and you know what I mean. Great, unexpected riffings, coupled to a very good energy and good old stoner rock vibe make for a great album. It’s that simple. Even Minipoes – my ex’ cat – digs Been Obscene a lot, because she happily purrs on the placemat besides me, dozing off to the good sounds of Been Obscene.

Mind you, it’s not ‘just’ stoner what Been Obscene delivers on this great album. There are a lot of ‘soft’ songs to keep it interesting, listen for example to track number eight: Alone. It’s a great indie rock song if I may be so bold. Opener Endless Scheme is a superb opener, with a great great riff and mesmerizing vocals. Been Obscene is indeed versatile, and on their site they state: “Driving riffs meet melancholic interludes, classic 4/4 beats complex rhythms and arrangements. A powerful, but sentimental up and down, that always finds its salvation in wonderful refrains.” They have shared the stage with acts like Motorpsycho, Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork, Colour Haze, Los Natas, Rotor and My Sleeping Karma. Fellow writer of doom Sarp Esin wrote a very good review on Night O’Mine here: Doommantia. Well, it never hurts to write more than one review on a good album, right? Snake Charmer, their 2nd track, is even better than the first one, and it shows a lot of different approaches to the field of rock. Quite a task really: how to be unique and ‘original’ within the already crowded space of stoner, doom, heavy psychedelics and plain rock? Track number three, titled Cut The Rope has this nice Josh Homme feel to it. Apathy is slower and heavier, while Night O’Mine is one of the highlights on this album. And then The Run and Memories In Salvation.. what more could you possibly want from a solid rock record?

Great artwork by the way! Listen to a couple of their new songs here: http://www.facebook.com/beenobscene?ref=ts&sk=app_178091127385. There are two trailers, watch them here: YouTube and here: YouTube......8/10.

Words: Sandrijn van den Oever

Official Website

Oct 29, 2011

Mythological Cold Towers - Immemorial ...

After reading the interview Aleks did with Mythological Cold Towers, (Read It Here) I thought this a band I must revisit. The truth this the work of this band has been gathering dust in my storage shed. 'Sphere of Nebaddon (The Dawn of a Dying Tyffereth)' was a decent album but the following 'Remoti Meridiani Hymni (Towards the Magnificent Realm of the Sun)' left me cold and that was the nail in the coffin for me with this band or so I thought. 'Immemorial' is the bands newest offering and while I don't think it is up to the standard of 'Sphere of Nebaddon,' it is a gigantic leap up over the 'Remoti' album. This is their fourth album, their third which I have never heard is something called 'The Vanished Pantheon.'

I think the best word to describe this album is "ponderous," but it is a move back to the traditional death-doom sound while still keeping traces of the black metal and goth genre that plague the 'Remoti' album but don't fear, this is way better than that. The goth vibe comes in a very keyboard laden sound but the album seems to be mixed too lo-fi to fall under the goth-metal banner. This album is majestic and elegant but it is full of little flourishes that are easy to miss on the first couple of spins. The songs here are slow and almost funeral-doomish in places with a raw vocal growl that is more like animal grunts than actual singing. In fact, the vocals are nearly all done in the same style which is a chanting kind of vocal and this is the biggest hurdle I had to get over while listening as there is no variation at all, well almost no variation. Musically though, the album is interesting. The seven tracks here range from four to almost 10 minutes but even the longer pieces seem to go by without getting too tedious.

The songs are raw but emotional, majestic yet very grim and dirty. The opener 'Lost Path to Ma-Noa' is short and almost sounds half-finished. It seems to be building up to something epic and then it abruptly ends so this track seems kind of forgettable to me but the album gets better from now on. The second track 'Akakor' has a cinematic vibe and has some exciting shifts in tempo, and great lead guitar passages. Without a doubt this is the best track on the album, if only they were all this good. 'Enter the Halls...' is faster, meaner, metallic, and showcases the bands more old-school metal influences. It has it moments of brilliance but the almost eight minute running time turns out to be a deal-breaker in this case as it begins to drag halfway through. 'The Shrines of Ibez' is reminiscent of Skepticism jamming with 'While Heaven Wept.' It is rich in melancholy but has a real progressive-metal edge to it and this is a major highlight.

'Like an Ode Forged in Immemorial Eras' is basically a predictable, generic snooze-fest that goes nowhere but luckily it is only five minutes. The following 'Fallen Race' has a bit of everything. It begins with horns and a symphonic-metal epic feel before heading into total funeral doom mode with a monster-thick, fuzzy riff before dropping away into a more ambient passage complete with piano and waves of swirling keys. This track even has elements of stoner-doom if you listen close enough. It is not the best track on offer from the album but it want color in a doom song, this has it, great track. The album ends on 'Immemorial' which is a good but oddball mix of ideas that don't seem to fit together too well but gets better with repeated spins. In conclusion then; there is some albums you hear and you know most people will at least like, if not love. Then there is others where, you just can't judge the reactions of listeners and this is one of those albums. For me it is a real mixed bag, full of lots of highs but also has some serious low-points. Out of the now, three albums I have heard from the band, this ranks easily at number two but at the same time I can't see myself listening to this too much in the future. It lacks the wow-factor, that element that draws you in and makes you want to go back and re-visit an album time and time again. Something is missing, the vocals are too samey and lack emotional deep which is a shame because there is a lot of emotional depth within the playing on the album. There are moments of true excellence but overall it is patchy, verging on mediocre at times.......6.5/10.

Mythological Cold Towers Official

Avernus – Where Sleeping Shadows Lie ...

On ‘Where Sleeping Shadows Lie’, we see a bevy of hard to find and/or out of print material from one of America’s best-kept secrets (finally!) in CD format. As anyone who has followed the band knows, it’s nearly impossible to find ANY of their original releases (typically in cassette format) regardless of the venue used to locate said material. Over all, the production and layout are good. There are some liner notes about the band's history and songs (as well as the lyrics with their meanings. There is also a rant from McCoy about his decision in making this CD). The first four tracks are the bands fabled, long sought ‘Sadness’ demo (reviewed on this site). These songs are incredibly heavy and original. The band cites Paradise Lost as a major influence, but after listening to this, it’s impossible to see how.

Track five ‘Godlessness’ was released on one of the Metal Massacre comps ages ago, and is a long and epic track that literally has a bit of everything in it. The later songs are tracks that were either on or cut from the release “…of the Fallen’ or traditionary and/or demo tracks that were either given out at concerts/festivals or tucked away by the band. There is some high quality Metal on display here and it’s a shame that the band hasn’t seen it fit to re-release all their material on CD. This is a great way to hear one of America’s best Doom/Death Metal bands progress from Doom/Death Metal, to straight Gothic Metal and then to a Gothic/Doom/Death Metal hybrid that was original and forged new ground. The only let downs are: 1. Kim Goss attempts to sing back up on the first four tracks. 2. That Rick McCoy is a horrible vocalist when he tries to sing clean. 3. There aren’t any tracks from ‘A Farewell To Eden’, which sucks because it was surprisingly better then the album that followed it. 4. There are no tracks from the bands Death Metal release ‘A Delicate Tracery of Red’ and the entire.

This is a great starting point for someone new to this band as it covers some of their best material. This album is worthy of your money (and the time it would take to track it down). This gets an 8/10.

Words: Grimdoom

Avernus @ Myspace

Oct 28, 2011

Krack Sabbat - The Horseless Knight & Cult Of A Slug EP's ...

Krack Sabbat formed in January 2011 and are the three-piece of Kalvin- Bass (ex-Doomsower, ex-Heshbeard), Christian- Drums (ex-Doomsower, ex-Amen), and Lee- Guitar (Spacegod Ritual). All three members of this band share the vocals. Being two-thirds ex Doomsower you would be bound to find some doom in their sound but this is much different from Doomsower at least to my ears. They play stoner/traditional doom, sludge, and a good lashing of psychedelia and there is equals amounts of each woven into a sound and style that is insanely infectious. They have two recordings up on their BANDCAMP site so here is a brief overview of both of those.....

The Horseless Knight EP
This one had me from the get-go. The first track 'Electric Reverend has a old-school drunken Reverend Bizarre style as it is stoner-doom but loose, and flirts with time, especially in the drumming. I have always liked bands that play on that edge between tightness and have a loose natural unforced feel and Krack Sabbat have that. Everything is raw and primitive especially the raspy vocals but they manage some cool little switches in tempo, groove, as well as adding some very unexpected twists. The sinister chant-like vocal that comes halfway through the opening track is atmospheric and incredibly charismatic. Overall, 'Electric Reverend' is a great track and an insane 7 minutes of pure old-school riffy doom. This is followed by 'Coffin Lung' which doesn't have the infectious appeal as the previous tune but it has its own characteristics to make it another winner. The vocals here are true apathy and I mean that in a good supremely lethargic traditional doom-metal kind of way, it is perfect for the depressing, dark and gloomy vibe they present.

'Vermin Quest' changes the gears for the first time on this 5 tracker with a mid-tempo sabbathian stomp for the first couple of minutes before the fuzz is cranked up and the song switches into some catchy behemoth riffage. The vocals are again one of the focal points; technically you could never call them professional but they ooze with charisma and it draws the listener in to this very sabbathy tune and it has a fade-out at the end, you don't hear that much anymore! 'Green Queen' is up next is about as doom-laden as it gets with a bass line pushed up to sub-sonic levels and the main guitar riff is a crawling, ominous monster. I can't help but think about Reverend Bizarre during all of this recording but Krack Sabbat don't really rip them off but they have the same quintessential doom approach. They save the longest track for the last, the massive, almost 11 minute 'Stone Ape' which has just enough deviation to keep it interesting despite its overwhelming epicness but it doesn't bring anything new to the EP. Still a worthy addition to the recording. Best track here in my opinion is 'Vermin Quest.'

In the end, 'The Horseless Knight EP' lacks identity but at the same time delivers some very charismatic, crushing doom-metal. The vocals are what makes this better than most and while they display their influences loud and proud, they have a certain charm all of their own. There isn't a whole lot of lead but when it does occur, it is very captivating and immensely organic. The production like I mentioned earlier is raw but still a hell of a lot better than a lot of other demo-type recordings floating around. Krack Sabbat have a sound, style, and approach that many a doomster looks for in a doom band so this is a very gratifying 36 minutes worth of doom...........9/10.

'Cult of the Slug EP'
Released on the 7th of September, this newest offering from Krack Sabbat is a slightly more varied effort. The opening track, 'The Dope Hound is Loosed' features sound clips taken from "Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory" and "Werewolf Woman" but also features very black-metal inspired vocals in the vein of early Bathory. After the charismatic vocals of the 'Horseless Knight EP' this is a little frustrating but you soon get used to it. This track is bizarre to say the least; starting off in a black-metal vein, it somehow mutates into a psychedelic doom jam with bluesy lead work. The production is also more low-fi but still acceptable but lacks the clarity of the other EP. 'The Dope Hound is Loosed' sounds a bit disjointed to my ears but the following title track is a masterpiece of trad-doom and it is crushingly bleak. The blackened vocals of the opening track are also in this track but they are far more melodic at least. This almost 10 minute epic displays some fine compositional skills from the band with chilling, atmospheric touches that are hypnotic. Having three guys all contributing vocals is a massive plus for the band and really plays a huge role in the engaging ambience. This tune takes you on a mesmerizing journey and is beautifully structured. It is a track where the listener is drawn in by simplicity and the band does not waste a single cymbal crash, chord, or bass note and the vocals displayed a kind of bare-boned emotion that is enchanting.

Following such a great track would be an almost impossible task for any band but Krack Sabbat come up trumps with 'De Morbis Narcotium.' The band get even more traditional on this track that blends everything from Candlemass to Warning epic-metal to Black Sabbath-esque riffage and tempos. There is obviously someone else taking the lead vocal role in this one and that adds some extra diversity to the EP. 'De Morbis Narcotium' is a stunning blend of modern and old-school doom traditionalism and it showcases some wonderful authentic 70's song-building techniques as well. This is a very colorful track that is one part depressing doom, one part classic occult/proto-doom metal from the early 70's - nice track. 'DankSkank' is the last track on this EP and it includes more sound clips, this time one centered about the smoking of weed and that sets the mood for this very psychedelic, stoner-doom jam. The track is based around giant grooves and raw, blackened vocal mutterings. This is kind of predictable in a Bongzilla, Stonehelm kind of a way but it is an enjoyable bong-hopping tune with some fine psychedelic lead noodling along the way. This one scores a 8.5/10. Best track - 'Cult of a Slug.'

The 'Cult of a Slug' EP doesn't quite have the production that the 'Horseless Knight' EP has and the opening 'The Dope Hound is Loosed' sounds weak compared to all their other songs but that is just my opinion and that is not worth much so make up your own mind on that one. One thing is obvious; if these two EP's were combined into a full length album and given a slight boost in production, Krack Sabbat would be onto one of the albums of the year. The songs are there already, they just need some fine tuning in the production department. The playing might not be perfect but to be honest I like it that way. The rawness, honesty, and passionate performance comes through the grooves, riffs, and the vocal work and that is sometimes worth more than technical ability and that is 100% true in the case of Krack Sabbat. These are the first recordings from a band that should easily make a long-lasting statement on the doom, stoner, sludge, psychedelic-metal scenes. Impressive beginnings.....

Krack Sabbat @ Facebook
Krack Sabbat @ Bandcamp

Poema Arcanus – Iconoclast ...

When one thinks of Doom/Death, they often think of Europe, specifically England and the ‘Peaceville Three’, not many would think of South America as a potential hotbed for the slow and brooding sounds of depression.

This album/band however, will change your perception. On Iconoclast we hear deep, passionate and beautiful Doom/Death Metal played with an air of professionalism, passion and originality such as its never been played before. Poema Arcanus started life as a Death/Thrash band that over the course of a few years got slower and slower.

This is a monstrously heavy, while seductively melodic piece of music that will leave you breathless. The guitars are incredibly busy the entire recording. Never will you hear so much from a band with only one guitarist in the Doom field. He constantly shifts from crunching distorted riffs, to clean somewhat prog-ish interludes, and back again.

The contrast of crunch to open, from distorted to clean is ambitious at best, but this band pulls it off seamlessly. Lots of effects are tastefully utilized here. The atmosphere that he creates by himself is awe-inspiring to say the least. There are plenty of leads but no solos unlike the bands prior album.

The bass goes from clean to distorted and back again, matching the guitar and is typically the one instrument that never quiets. The distorted parts almost sound like a really heavy guitar. The keyboards, while not overtly intricate, do help to add subtle atmosphere where it would have been lost otherwise. The drums are more or less standard for the style, but they keep it interesting throughout the recording. The vocals are another area that stands out. They go from a deep baritone croon to intense guttural growls and shrieks. This album (as opposed to their prior release) has more clean vocals in it, but it works. (Also the songs are sung primarily in English but there are two tracks in Chilean.)

Not all is sunshine and lollipops however. The energy and attitude are there but about half of the album is bland and generally boring. The songs don’t really go anywhere, as if they weren’t fully flushed out. More work should’ve been done to add balance and cohesion to the album as a whole. The end result is this: the production is good and the professionalism of the band shows throughout. The drawback would be that it tends to get boring towards the halfway point of the CD. Other than that, this is still a good album and a great starting point for someone new to this band. This gets a 5.5/10.

Words: Grimdoom

Official Site

Oct 27, 2011

Hammers Of Misfortune - 17th Street ...

An album like this can easily be experienced with the same emotion that fuels you when you watch a magnificent, soaring landscape. Or a beautiful painting by an artist you admire.

Yes, I realize this sounds big and gushing but I think, with some amount of confidence, that when music is in the field of what Hammers Of Misfortune play and loaded with so much love and grandiosity, it reaches the same level of greatness than art.

Hammers Of Misfortune always played Heavy Metal in its purest incarnation. The metal that you could find in old vinyl collected with care and inherited from a wiser brother. Or the heavier Hard Rock classics. Stuff like early Maiden, Dio-era Black Sabbath, Judas Priest but als Thin Lizzy, early Rush, even the more operatic incarnations of Queen. That might not be everyone's cup of tea, but to be honest, it should be, especially when the band delivers with as much passion as you can hear in this record. In the past, including on their cult-worthy release “The Locust Years”, I always thought they had heart and some sort of magic but lacked restraint. And yet, on “17th Street”, the band created the by the ever-so-excellent Joh Cobett, whose Slough Feg are a blessing from heaven, uses that love for no holds barred epicness, theatrical heaviness and larger than life songs to reach a place that has been abandoned by more well-known bands.

It's a powerful, galloping, epic album. Even when the songs take a break and go into moodier territories, they're still all about the grandiosity and the power of rock. The keyboards, the queen-esque guitars, Joe Hutton's leading vocals (that remind me of David Byron at his most evocative), the moments of over the top theatricality all work together to make an album that isn't even remotely concerned with being “different” or “restrained” but goes for the heart and guts. Whether its with hair-raising epics like “The Grain” or the beautiful, purely 70's prog-ballad “Summer Tears” (a song that sounds like it came out from a time machine), I didn't have a second of boredom. The whole album is played great, produced like it should be (with a lovingly warm and analogic sound), soaring and glorious and at times just right to cruise a road feeling great about life. This is heavy music for the soul...9/10.

Words: Andrea Contanzo.

Hammers of Misfortune Official

Eyes of Fire - Prisons ...

This album is more or less a heavier version of their first album ‘Ashes to Embers’ not so much a continuation. The songs are more structured and less experimental. The present from the first album seems lost here and processed. Over all it's not a bad sophomore effort. This album is crunchier then its predecessor. The distortion is thicker and it’s somewhat thrashy in places. The guitars punch throughout most of the CD. The leads are more prominent and what one would expect. Much of the atmosphere is lost but the general sense of personal loss is still present. The bass and drums have some fairly creative things to offer as well, but they fall into more standard format created by the guitars. Like the prior release, this is atmospheric Goth/Doom Metal/Rock, not “sludge” as the archives “genera” would have you believe. This CD also has more in common with ‘Mindrot’ than the first CD

The tempo is stepped up as well, while the overall tone of the album is slow, it hits more moderate to moderately fast speeds sporadically through out the album. The lyrics carry the same theme(s) as the prior CD as well, but again, come across as forced. The production is sound, the music is tight (or as tight as atmospheric music can get) and overall the songs/structures are good. This doesn’t necessarily forge new ground like their first release, but it’s not a bad (and heavier!) continuance of their highly original sound. Both releases are worth pick up for fans of the aforementioned. There is a “special edition” disc that has a 20 something minute song that is fairly banal, but good nonetheless. This gets a 7/10.

Words: Grimdoom

Eyes of Fire @ MySpace

Oct 26, 2011

Reclusa - The Anticonscience ...

Reclusa is a rather new one-man band from Byesville, Ohio (USA), devoted to the generation of an overly grim mixture of doom/death metal poisoned by industrial noise, drone and some truly bleak and muddy metal sounds halfway between sludge and raw black metal. The multi-instrumentalist behind this project is Styv, aka The Insect Hermit, doing drums, keyboard and noise for the black - funeral doom metal act Diseased Oblivion.
If you like to go through the “lists” typically reported on the bands’ pages and you do it for Reclusa, you can get an idea of the offerings … Influences: solitude, isolation, insanity, hatred, obsession, death. OK, most of heavy music is based on all this. Interests: drugs, alcohol, staying indoors, doing nothing, sleeping, rotting. Ach …
Reclusa, as well as Diseased Oblivion, have spread around their misanthropy via several underground labels, including two labels well known here, i.e. NoVisible Scars and, as of late, Crucial Blast. The latter is in particular infecting the world with the debut full-length album by Reclusa, The Anticonscience, out on October 11th 2011. And considering what kind of gloomy and bleak music is normally hosted by Crucial Blast, well, it was probably only in the order of the Mother Nature that  Reclusa and Adam, Crucial Blast’s heart and soul, met.

Reclusa’s style is slow, heavy, dark, evil and filthy. It’s not totally soulless, or better “mechanic”, like pure industrial noise, because it sounds deeply evil. Reclusa’s music doesn’t sound anything human or devilish, though, as it sounds like the voice of an indefinite, faceless monstruous (because unknown), ancestral entity or phenomenon evoked by a sound which has doom/sludge and death metal as its background, with deep and, well, somehow creative contaminations of bleakest conceivable noise, industrial and black metal. The “phenomenon” “speaks”  also by means of some highly disturbing low gurgling growling reminding of what heard in goregrind (but without the irritating pig squeaks) or else evoking some magmatic disgorging from the depths of the Earth.
If the other mid-October release on Crucial Blast, the reissue of Light’s album, was the attempt of recovering some fine underground experimental doom-drone tunes brilliantly knitting ethereal atmospheres, Reclusa (which means “imprisoned” in Latin and in Italian) equally brilliantly depicts a nightmare.
As enybody visiting Crucial Blast must have noted, the label’s owner, Adam accompanies any release with his own considerations about his discover of the band, the elements of attraction in the sound which attracted and then convinced Adam in investing on the band, and so on. I always find these writings an interesting reading because when I like the band I find I do share several impressions with the writer. And when I’m not able to appreciate a band because it’s too far from my instinctive taste or my cultural schemes, sometimes I’m surprised to see how many things I am missing.
You can actually be “sociable” while sort of headbanging in the mob at a black metal gig. In the case of Reclusa’s style, it is definitely not for entertaining even metal-addicted friends, as it is a deeply misanthropic experience. Oh, and I dig it massively.

Here are Adam’s words introducing the band: “I checked out Reclusa, and was floored by how ridiculously heavy and disgusting the music was; it didn't even sound like metal to me, but inhabited another realm of twisted, abstract heaviness closer to industrial noise, while utilizing massive down tuned riffs and elements of death metal that were left to putrefy into noxious formless slime. Reclusa mixed together filthy sub-Godflesh / (early) Pitch Shifter machine pummel, putrescent guttural vocal-fumes, ultra bleak dark ambience, weird bits of diseased dub, deformed deathdoom, blasts of orchestral terror, & murky industrial noisescapes, and the result is hopeless, terminally nihilistic ugliness that skulks in a dark corner somewhere in between the likes of Black Mayonnaise, The Human Quena Orchestra, Aderlating, and the nastiest strains of underground gorenoise. (…)”

The Anticonscience album can be experienced as one hell of a stone-cold catacombal, barbaric nightmare, as well as a “descent into vile, absurdly heavy low-fi mechanized horror” that is going to possess you for over seventy seven minutes via 12 tracks (I sincerely can’t call them “songs”) with lengths rarely below 5 minutes.
The album could not start in a more sinister, “gloomy doomy” way, by means of a hyper downtuned, raspy, fuzzy, plodding leading riff interacting with the dull growls of the beast during the first half of the opening track –98.6F. When the doomy/death march ends, icy-cold and alienating combinations of background drone, clicking noise and buzzing industrial sounds build up and eventually catch-up with and superpose to the leading riff- and growl-driven doom-death melody (yes, there’s even a melody) coming back towards the end of the track. The following track Frozen Embrace sounds like a natural continuation of the rumbling sound introduced by the first track and it is certainly different from the third track “Systematic Abandonement”, which is a loud, urban / industrial nightmare made of obsessive and echoed repetition of noises, vocal samples, moaning, as in a deeply altered state of mind. As I experience normally while hearing industrial drony music, this and the subsequent similar tracks had a weird effect on me as it immediately evoked flashing black and white zigzags, shadows and images I couldn’t clearly grasp, like those described by people before epilectic attacks. Interesting although quite disturbing effect … The following three tracks bring back unbelievable levels of heaviness via the re-introduction of the raw, fuzzy, muddy, bleak doom/sludge-death riffs, played in a syncopated to heavily dissonant way, as well as the growling “beast”, together with some impressively heavy pounding tribal, war-like ancestral percussions and industrial noises and buzz, as heard especially in the stunning, monumental sixth track Solitary Definement. The subsequent tracks follow more or less the pattern of alternating industrial noise alienation and the recall of the raw bestial, ancestral, to war-like, martial pounding sounds as if they were coming from a dark foggy separate world of colliding planets and in pre-human, or better pre-life conditions. The last four tracks of the album employ a more massive dose of drony industrial noise which is overwhelming and, for me at least, suffocating the doomy component of the sound, the one I definitely prefer.

There’s a very detailed and, well, highly technical description of this album on the webpage of Crucial Blast Records devoted to Reclusa, which is well worth reading.
I am a fan of heavy and sometime even punishing music, but I noted that the amount of gut-tearing sounds in Reclusa does not conjugate necessarily with loud sounds. Not at all: the heaviest tracks, i.e. the doom-death-riff driven ones, are the tracks where the sounds are probably softer, less directly aggressive to the eardrums as, on the contrary, the louder, noise-dominated tracks are. The raw, sludgy, muddy, dull bleak sounds in the doom-death tracks travel like seismic waves, they vibrate first in your body before arriving to your head. An addictive experience that would be interesting to test during a live exhibition.
Reclusa’s debut full-length The Anticonscience album is out on the Crucial Blaze series as limited hand-numbered edition of two hundred copies, including a twenty-page chapbook of nightmarish artwork and writing, a vinyl sticker, and 1" badge.
Scarily impressive, addictive heaviness ...   9/10

Words: Marilena Moroni

Reclusa @ Facebook
Reclusa @ Crucial Blast

Ehécatl – Ehécatl EP ...

The spirit of Blaak Heat Shujaa is back …
It’s bass player/vocalist Thomas Bellier’s and drummer Tim Gacon’s “fault”!
They gave life to a new / side project called Ehécatl, whose debut album, the self-titled album, will be out on label Improvising Beings on October the 5th 2011.

What is the spirit of Blaak Heat Shujaa? Well, I guess those who appreciated this young and highly endowed French band will remember the ethereal psychedelic desert session-imprinted rock drenching the band’s acclaimed debut album.
In the project Ehéclat there is much of that ethereal psych desert rock but it is blended and contaminated by something else, and the “desert” explored and almost visually depicted by the music is also something else from the almost classic, western movie-flavoured desert sung in some of Blaak Heat Shujaa. But it is known that the Blaak Heat Shujaa musicians have a wide-angle cultural and musical background.

The name of the band, Ehécatl (the Aztec god of wind), is self-suggestive of the fact that Thomas and Tim made up what is probably the first “pre-Colombian psychedelic doom band”. So this has nothing to do with the Mexican black metal band bearing the name Ehécatl, of course.
According to the duo’s own words, in reverence to Aztec mythology and use of traditional meso-American musical patterns, Thomas, Tim and a few guest musicians and friends wrote and performed an actual soundtrack for a sacrifice at the foot of the Pyramid of the Moon.
Well, true, the main framework of Ehécatl sounds is definitely reflecting these devotional/cultural pre-Colombian, native American sources of inspiration but the result to me sounded a bit more outreaching. I didn’t get the impression of it when I first heard only one song originally uploaded in bandcamp by the band some time ago, but I got it while listening to the whole debut album.
What struck me, and my imagination, in Ehécatl is the strong core of beloved psychedelic desert rock which, again, rides the sound waves, strays boundaries and oceans and evokes other deserts, sound- and mind-wise, no matter if the whole album officially starts as a nocturnal shamanic ceremony in a luscious Central American jungle during a heavy rain!
The album includes 6 tracks consisting of a short intro and of + 7 minutes-long suites alternating with shorter, 3 minutes-long songs for a total length of about 30 minutes and a half.
The suggestive and solemn intro (El Entierro de los Nahuas) is about the onset of the above shamanic ritual. The deep, occult, rhythmic chanting by guest Sébastien Bismuth (from Alcohosonic) mimicking Aztec ministers, immediately plunges you into it, in a moonlit night ready for a ceremony in honour to benevolent and malevolent forces of Mother Nature.
The second track, suite “La Canción del Dios Ehécatl”, starts the long path of the ritual and duly represents the pre-Colombian stoner doom style in the intentions of the band.

The psychedelic parts especially cannot but remind of the great South American psych bands, and especially the most experimental ones, like Los Natas and their European counterparts like Colour Haze or Causa Sui. The band guys also mention another experimental, desert-flavoured psychedelic band to which they feel inspired, Mario Lalli’s The Yawning Man.
Here Ehécatl blends Blaak Heat Shujaa’s psych desert rock grown in the shadow of big Californian saguaros and palm trees with the wind-battered, melancholic, grievous to almost alienating South American psychedelia as well as with meditative ritual downtempo heavy sounds and gloomy atmospheres recalling Sleep or Om.

In this as well as in the other tracks sounds effects are those typical for psych/space and desert rock: dilated, reverbered and distorted guitar/bass sounds deformed by pedal effects; calibrated and sometimes syncopated drumming and percussions (cymbals and other traditional instruments) in the background to further enhance the ritualistic character of the sound or else to follow the jazzy jamming of the guitar/bass; the occasional use of (slightly buzzy) silence as a form of music. Last but not least come the vocal parts which emerge from the background almost as echoes and never overcome the leading guitar/bass sounds. Thomas’ vocal parts resemble what heard in Blaak Heat Shujaa and are accompanied by or alternate with deep chanting and other vocal effects provided by drummer Tim. Thomas’s chanting is in general monotonic and wavy as to imitate mantra-like invocations for a prayer uttered to the sky. Actually Thomas’ singing often acts almost like “backing vocals” to the actual “actor” of the overall sound, the great pulsating bass which sounds in so many different ways in this album.

The third track, The Wrath of Tepeyollotl, follows the hypnotic psychedelic path previously established but enriches the melodies with some elements deriving from early Pink Floyd (I think I hear them especially in the first part), whereas in the second part surprises jump out of the hat.
Well, the whole album sees the employment of traditional musical instruments, like flutes and various types of percussion, but the surprising use of sitar in the second part of this track somehow deviates from the official “Aztec” affiliation of the band. Anyway, the sitar (performed by guest musician Michel Kristof), is great because it is actually employed to make riffs into a genuine mid-tempo desert-stoner rock base! Moreover the sitar sound is, maybe obviously, one of the elements that extend the reach of this “Aztec” psych desert stoner-doom style to other, more “exotic” geographical coordinates and, well, mind attitude.
The fourth track, Rih, is an instrumental 3 minutes-long mid-tempo interval rendered as a galloping rhythm which reprises the sitar-driven accelerations in the previous track and leads to the next, emotionally involving suite, the almost 8 minutes-long suite Tenan.

Tenan is for me probably the most hypnotic track of the album, although it basically follows the general scheme where calm, meditative, chanted litanies alternate with mid- to up-tempo intervals. In the faster intervals of this track the jammings between the pulsating bass and the drums interact in particularly elaborated to almost improvised jazzy patterns. Especially in this song the hypnotic melodies built up by modern and traditional instruments (flute) and by the melancholic singing remind me of melodic lines heard in Middle Eastern or Northern African old traditional love or devotional songs. At certain moments it is like capturing some notes of aching Umm Kulthum’s songs from an old radio in a far-off Sahara oasis with a jasmin-scented nightly breeze and one’s own meditations about life and what’s above it as companions …
Whatever is the desert geographically or metaphorically evoked by the multifaceted sounds of this beautiful album, all the songs are part of this shamanic, devotional and, why not, chemical trip which is ended probably a bit abruptly with the final short track, the instrumental Nanahuatzin y Tecciztecatl. Here hypnotic Pink Floyd-inspired rhythms (I can’t but think about the start of “Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun” …) come back again and develop in a crescendo which rapidly leads you out of the ritual (and of the trip), probably into the silence of a sort of dumb slumber.

I must say, this musical shamanic ritual might have been easily and most pleasantly longer, especially seen the dynamic character of Ehécatl’s rich sound, which is light and heavy, simple and luscious at the same time. There are surely many similarities between Blaak Heat Shujaa and Ehécatl. However Ehécatl is definitely a different beast which follows the path of “classic” desert rock and borrows elements from old-school and modern space psychedelia, doom and jazzy jamming and contaminates with ancestral, traditional, “ethnic” music. What comes out is not the typical “world music” but it is a fascinating experiment in exotic, manthra-like psychedelic dark desert rock, where all in all rock is the main ruler.
I guess this highly charming although too short debut album is just a mouthful of the potential of this band if and when involved into a longer opus … 8.5/10 8.5/10

Review by Marilena Moroni

Ehecatl @ Bandcamp
Ehecatl @ Improvising Beings

Noscrape - Soundtrack to a Post-atomic Landscape EP ...

Noscrape is another band of the “Megawolf cult” roaming around in Italy and devoted to heaviness, distortion and downtuning.
The band started back in 2001 in a small village lost in the countryside not far from Milano, in Northern Italy, although the guys converted to the “cult” only in 2007, when the band abandoned the initial grunge/punk and stoner-oriented sounds (expressed in the early recordings and demos) and steered towards heavy music and experimentation.
After some internal changes, the present-day line-up includes Dario (vocals & guitar), Tirlu (guitar), Dag (bass) and Zana (drums, percussions, plus synth, keyboard and effects).

Those who followed the Sludge Swamp will remember this band as their tunes were hosted on the blog and were included in the Swamp Comp Vol. 2 compilation.
In particular, Noscrape is one of the bands well known to the Italian underground music fans religiously following the Perkele portal. One of the reasons for Noscrape’s popularity is that its line-up includes musicians active in other appreciated bands. It is for example the case for Dario and Zana militating also in the drone/doom project Vøid, connected to another heavy creature, the grindcore band Hungry Like Rakowitz.
The continuous exposure to different musical experiences and personalities, and the involvement in the various events in appraisal of “His Heaviness The Megawolf” has surely had a substantial influence in moulding the style of this band even during their second, heavy period. The latter is marked by the release of the self-titled EP in 2008 and, especially, of the new EP “Soundtrack to a Post-atomic Landscape”, out during August 2011.
The 2011 EP “Soundtrack to a Post-atomic Landscape” is available on Bandcamp.

Well, with Noscrape the word “EP” is a bit tricky as the band’s EPs are normally slabs easily lasting or even exceeding one hour of music.
Noscrape’s activity is completely DIY, as it is the case for most underground bands in Italy, and not only in Italy. The quality in the output of many underground bands in general shows that passion is part of the treasure paying the bills.

Noscrape have been addressing their sound towards more experimental territories in these last years, maybe also thanks to the “technical” collaboration with Adamennon. As a matter of fact the 2011 album “Soundtrack to a Post-atomic Landscape” was recorded and mixed at Adamennon’s SFR Studio.
However Noscrape’s own imprint can still be recognized in the new album, and so, I would say, a substantial powerful band is definitely established because the new release, said grimly entitled “Soundtrack to a Post-atomic Landscape”, is an impressive output devoted to a blend of doom/sludge heaviness and drone/post metal alienation with a whiff of psychedelia.
The eponymous opening track, is an instrumental-only suite covering almost 21 minutes and starting with a “low profile”, in a rather minimalistic and mellow way via a acoustic guitar solo leading a somber, melancholic melody, until some sinister, dissonant keyboard and synth notes appear as flashes and stir the seemingly quiet atmosphere. In the meanwhile the background is invaded by a disturbing, fluctuating buzz. With or without the thread of the guitar this is the sound accompanying the listener in this post-atomic environment which is not particularly menacing until when the combined charge of distorted and downtuned guitars and bass and of a weird, unpleasantly hollow-sounding drumming is unleashed for the first time. Distorted heavy charges and mellow acoustic guitar-driven parts alternate and create a contrast which is more anguishing and melancholic than horrifying. The second part of this long and varied, but all in all somber track sees the band soon abandoning heaviness and exploring the territories of ambient space/noise psychedelia by means of delicate sounds where synth is ruling and guitars and cymbals act like pegs around which the airy melody is built up. The heavy distorted refrain comes back only in the last 2-3 minutes like a gloomy ghost to fade away soon into silence again. This first track is surprising because it is so different from the normal style of the band.
The second 14 minutes-long track bears a solemn but also menacing Latin title, Hic Sunt Leones, something like “here are the lions”, a sentence attributed to the ancient Romans when they were going to Africa to get fancy animals and also to colonize and turn the local proud populations into their slaves. So you know what to expect, i.e., the mammoth distorted wall of sound of guitars and drums growing from the silence like a storm from a distance. Bass, guitars and the weird drumming build up a slow, plodding doom-sludgy melody possessing some degree of groove and in full hommage to Sleep, Om, Ufomammut, Lento, Electrozombies and so on. This time vocal parts are introduced as short, tortured invocations emerging from a “dense”, annihilating background. After several minutes sudden accelerations come as a surprise and remind of Melvins when they “go punk”. In the second half of the track the band hints to some post-metal dissonance but without exaggerating. Towards the end of the track the band includes a “patchwork” of excerpts from some unfortunately well-known violent, racist and offensive public talks of one of the most famous and infamous Italian politicians that all Italian doomsters will recognize. But the even most embarassing and, well, disgusting thing is to hear the amount of clapping and cheers with which many many people salute this politician’s obnoxious talks. So you realize that the “post-atomic landscape” is not caused by any bomb but is made by the people themselves in a smooth way, with their vote. Terrifying and hopeless …
Terror and oppression by the mob, hopelessness and grimness go with the gut-tearing intro of probably the most powerful track of the album, Concrete. This third track is the shortest of the EP, “only” slightly longer than 12 minutes, and is an impressive, devastating doom-sludge ride which is occasionally interrupted by some short intervals where the sound of the guitars becomes more intimate. These are essential elements in the style of the band and represent islands of calmness into a noisy doom/sludge/industrial sonic nightmare where, again, vocals emerge with supreme efforts. As expected at the end the crushing charge fades away into the silence.
As to the vocal parts, even if they are not so frequent, they add an important contribution to the overall sound and atmophere. You can recognize two different styles, either harsh, roaring if not barking, or else clean but sounding quite distorted as if by pain, almost wailing. The two vocal styles can be found in the same track and seem to hint to the presence of a belching oppressor and a suffering victim of whatever is happening in this nightmare.
The story ends with the +15 minutes long, concluding track Annihilation, where the band displays their twofold style widely, thereby varying continuously between the distorted crushing, doom-sludgy wall of sound and those charming soft, almost space-desert parts. There a warm and reverberating guitar sound trembles in the silence and sets the leading melody then reprised by the following distorted charge. As previously heard, the heavy distorted intervals host the tortured dialogs and invocations of singer Dario. After the last explosion of distorted fury the sound drowns into a vortex of synth-driven sonic effects fading away like a bad dream dissolves when the sun rises …

I previously addressed the drumming as “weird” because it sounds peculiar: the cymbals are recorded and rendered with a very neat and almost crispy sound whereas the drums sound a bit dumb, disturbing as the noise of a hammer on a box of wood can be. So the drums are sources of noise more than a sound and seem to be recorded as in background. At the very beginning I didn’t like the effect but then, where the heavy sludgy distorted parts dominate, such disturbing, hollow hammering sound of the percussions fits.
The oscillation between heavy noisy sludgy blocks and minimalistic, somber to spacey psychedelic intervals makes up a quite repetitive sonic scheme which helps inducing a general hypnotic effect. However in each “block” or “interval” the band’s guys introduce or knit a good number of small range variations that help in wading through these long tortured suites in an unexpectedly easy way without getting bored.

Noscrape guys have always worshipped molasse-like heaviness and their 2008 self-titled demo had been duly described as a concentrate of “radical, “palaeolithic”, ominous, acid heaviness, pure sound nihilism which leaves no hope and makes no prisoners”. You can still recognize their reference stars, like Sleep, Om, Melvins (with whom they toured back in 2009) as well as Ufomammut, Lento, ect.. However in this new release the band has started defining their own style more precisely, I would say “grow as a band” into maturity by definitely getting rid of excess groove deriving from the early stoner-grunge background and keeping on experimenting with rich sounds (including synth and keyboards) and crushing heaviness. The band is probably still in evolution but the path they entered is winning.
This EP wins the battle, the coming full-length will win the war …. 8.5/10

Review by Marilena Moroni

Noscrape @ Facebook
Noscrape @ Myspace
Noscrape @ Bandcamp

My Dying Bride - The Barghest O' Whitby ...

The first thing that jumped out at me when pressing play on this new My Dying Bride 25 minute epic 'The Barghest O' Whitby' is how old this sounds. This is closer to the sound of the band back in 1992 to 1995 than anything they have done in recent years. True, this isn't as heavy as 'Turn Loose The Swans' or 'As the Flower Withers' even but it is a slight return to the glory days for the band. My Dying Bride usually get one of two reactions from doom fans, there is the ones that love them to death and ones that can take them or leave them. I will admit from the outset, they have always been an average act to my ears with a few outstanding tracks but a ton of mediocre fodder as well. However, when they do something great, it is truly remarkable but the thing with this epic is it is a mixture of both greatness and banality all within the one track.

The track starts out atmospheric and gets even more so as the track progresses. The track also gets heavier and bleaker but getting through the 25 minutes is a bit of hard work. There is some captivating passages especially with the use of violin and it is fairly well-balanced between crippling death doom and the melodic goth doom that they are more famous for producing. Vocals are mostly in the spoken word vein and they really add to the creepy atmosphere of the piece. 'The Barghest O' Whitby' is almost like a "best of" My Dying Bride captured in one really long song. While overall it sounds more like a return to the rawer, bleaker death doom of the past, there is also elements that can be heard from different periods of their existence. Keeping that in mind, the My Dying Bride fanatic should be more than please with this but I have to write this review keeping all fans of not only MDB but doom metal fans in general in mind and from that perspective, I can see that many people might find this too long for its own good with too many moments that sound bled to death.

I have to say this though. Take this from someone who really doesn't like the band too much; this is good, real good and one of the best pieces of work I have heard from the band for many years so if I like it, you My Dying Bride fans should be falling over themselves once this is officially released on November 7 through Peaceville Records on CD and limited vinyl......7/10.

My Dying Bride Homepage

Thrashing Corrosion Fields (Interview with Black Cobra) ...

Interview form Rafa from Black Cobra. Make no mistake “Invernal” is not your average “heavy” album! This is a f***ing monster!

Dr. Doom: Let’s start by explaining does the title “Invernal” really means?
Rafa: Invernal is a Spanish word that means wintry or winter like

Dr. Doom: I was surprised when I found out that the new album is a concept album. I always believed that lyrics always come second in Black Cobra. How important is the “lyrics part” for Black Cobra and what’s the concept of the album?
Rafa: The concept , if you will, is about a post apocalyptic time in Antarctica where everything is covered in radiation and all the landscapes have been mutated

Dr. Doom: In my opinion there is a slight change of style in “Invernal” to a more thrash metal or death metal direction. “Obliteration” for example for most of its part sounds more like a death metal song while vocals in almost the entire album sound semi-gang and remind some thrash bands. Do you feel that at this point Black Cobra might be searching to have a greater appeal to a broader range of metal fans?
Rafa: We’ve always had the same approach which is to write music we want to hear. We’ve also had the habit of pushing the music further into new realms. We’ve never written songs with the goal of getting more fans from different genres. We aren’t opposed to it , if anyone likes our music, it doesn’t matter who it is but we’ve never tried to cater to anyone.

Dr. Doom: Sometimes you are accused for not allowing yourselves to experiment a lot. What would you say about that?
Rafa: I’ve never heard of such accusations.

Dr. Doom: What is the difference of working with Kurt Ballou and Billy Anderson. Why did you choose him in the first place and what was his contribution in “Invernal”?
Rafa: Kurt was suggested to us by Greg Anderson from Southern Lord. We had heard his work before but he was also recording a lot of Southern Lord bands so Greg sent us s couple of cd’s to check out his current work so we decided to go with him. He had a great contribution to the album. Kurt has an incredible ear and is extremely precise in every step of the recording process. He suggested a lot of different types of guitar and drum sounds and he can always figure out how to solve any kind of obstacle that comes his away. The man’s an animal.

Dr. Doom: Besides the producer the other big change for the band was that you migrated to Southern Lord Records. What kind of horizons has this opened for the band so far?
Rafa: First off, Southern Lord has a great roster of bands. They have definitely helped expose the band to a broader range of music lovers.

Dr. Doom: Now let’s talk about the shows. First of all, do you feel that Black Cobra is a “live band”? I mean do you think that the listener must see you live in order to grasp the feeling of the band in its full extend?
Rafa: We are definitely a live band. The records do speak for themselves but you can’t translate the the intensity of the live experience onto a cd. Physically impossible. However, our delivery is the same , whether we are in the studio or on stage we are always playing with same force, same power.

Dr. Doom: I’ve read a review for “Invernal” commenting that it might be the first Black Cobra album that can work really well as a “studio album” rather than just new material for your lives shows. Do you agree with that opinion?
Rafa: I like all our records. Every time we record , we’ve been honing in bits here and there so we definitely make progress each time. Invernal , to me, is as close as we’ve come to how we sound live. We are not deliberately trying to make our albums sound like a live show or else we would just put out live albums.

Dr. Doom: How challenging for you is to be a band of two during your live shows? Is it likely to see more members added in the future?
Rafa: It’s challenging playing new material since you’re not used to it but once you’ve played the new songs for a while it’s more of a thing where you try and play the song better. I was still learning how to play drums when we started the band so it’s been more of a challenge just to keep improving on my drumming. It’s always going to be the two of us. Maybe we’ll have someone come onstage as a guest to do a song or something like that but don’t plan on having more members.

Dr. Doom: Can you reveal your plans about this year’s European tour?
Rafa: We will definitely be touring Europe next year. The managers are all working on that right now and we will announce as soon as everything is confirmed.

Dr. Doom: Have you missed playing for your previous bands (Acid King, Cavity, 16)? In what way would you say Black Cobra differ from what you guys did your previous bands?
Rafa: I still play with Acid King from time to time. In fact a couple of weeks ago I did the Fall Into Darkness festival in Portland with Premonition 13, Wino’s new bands. they are awesome.

Dr. Doom: O.K. guys thank you very much for this interview! As always the final words are yours!
Rafa: Thank for the interview. Hope to see all you maniacs at the shows when we tour out there.

Interview By Dr Doom Metal (Dr.Dooms Lair)

Black Cobra Official Website

ORANGE GOBLIN Announce New Album Release Dates And Full UK & Ireland Tour - New Album Art Revealed ...

From Earsplit PR:
ORANGE GOBLIN will release their brand new studio album, A Eulogy For The Damned, on Monday February 13, 2012 in the UK/rest of world and February 14, 2012 in the US. This date is the same day as Black Sabbath released their self-titled debut album in 1970!

A Eulogy For The Damned is the band’s seventh studio album but first for new label home, Candlelight Records. The ten-track offering was recorded at The Animal Farm studio in South London, UK, produced and engineered by Jamie Dodd and mastered by two-time Grammy-nominated Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson at Tube Mastering. A Eulogy For The Damned will be released on CD and limited edition colored vinyl in gatefold sleeve.

A Eulogy For The Damned Track Listing:
1. Red Tide Rising
2. Stand For Something
3. Acid Trial
4. The Filthy & The Few
5. Save Me From Myself
6. The Fog
7. Return To Mars
8. Death Of Aquarius
9. The Bishops Wolf
10. A Eulogy For The Damned

To celebrate the release of the new album, ORANGE GOBLIN will hit the road in April 2012 for the A Eulogy For The Damned UK & Ireland Tour. Dates for this are as follows:

4/7/2012 Desertfest @ The Underworld - London
4/8/2012 The Fleece - Bristol
4/9/2012 The Old Bell - Derby
4/10/2012 Classic Grand - Glasgow
4/11/2012 Sound Control - Manchester
4/12/2012 The Garage - Swansea
4/13/2012 The White Rabbit - Plymouth
4/14/2012 o2 Academy - Oxford
4/20/2012 The Pint - Dublin
4/21/2012 Spring & Airbrake - Belfast

ORANGE GOBLIN will also be appearing live at the following locations later this year (with more festivals to be announced soon):

11/13/2011 Candlefest - Moho Live, Manchester
12/03/2011 Hard Rock Hell V - Prestatyn, North Wales
12/17/2011 The Underworld - Camden, London
01/14/2012 Club Zeljeznicar - Zagreb, Croatia
6/15–17/2012 Hellfest - Clisson, France (Exact date TBA)
8/11/2012 Bloodstock Open Air Fest - Derbyshire

Orange Goblin Official Site
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