Aug 28, 2012

Witchcraft - "Legend" ...

It has been around 4 years since Witchcraft have released a full length album so in hindsight, this album is a bit lacking. I will try to explain why I think that is but after such a long wait, it seems surprisingly short on ideas. On the surface not much has changed except they are now signed to Nuclear Blast and Magnus Pelander and bassist Ola Henriksson are the only remaining members who played on their last album The Alchemist. This may have something to do with the slight but noticeable shift in a more commercial direction. The band have always been kind of catchy in their own way but this new album has an even cleaner approach and there is less of the heavy-prog influence that graced previous albums. This is a straight-forward blend of Black Sabbath and late 60's heavy pop a-la Iron Butterfly. With the guitarist and bassist now the only ones left from the original line-up, they also make their presence felt far more on 'Legend' than on any other album. The bass especially is now pushed front and center which is fine by me but along with that comes less dynamics in the sound and style with more of an emphasis on melody and shorter, concise songs.

If you are already a fan of Witchcraft then songs like the opening 'Deconstruction' and 'Flag of Fate' should make you feel right at home as that patented Witchcraft vibe is still here. The atmosphere however is not as dark as it has been on previous records and dare I say it but some of this seems a little bit "too happy" for its own good. At times it gets a little bit nauseating; the worse offender being a track titled 'Democracy' where the lyrical approach becomes very cheesy indeed. There are some great grooves, 'Ghosts House' being one of the album highlights with its infectious swagger. The song most of you would have already heard 'It's Not Because of You' is pretty typical of the album as a whole and if you have already made up your mind that you don't like it, you are unlikely to enjoy this album as this tune is about as good as the album gets. The only other major highlight is a track called 'Dystopia' that has a great atmospheric intro passage. The rest of the album is just ordinary by Witchcraft standards and seeing as there has been a 4 year wait for this thing to emerge, it is a bit disappointing.

Witchcraft are a talented band that can't do anything really bad but it still seems like to me at least that their best work is either already past or is still to come. 'Legend' is by no means a failure but it is not exactly mind-blowing either. The song-writing is in a comfortable place right now and perhaps that lack of risk-taking is what hurts this album the most. The album has a psychedelic edge but it is the inoffensive, happy kind of psychedelia most of the time and you can't help but wonder what the album might have sounded like with a bit more grit and dirt added to the mix. In many respects I hear this album being like 'The Alchemist Light' as it takes the more commercial elements from that album and makes it the bands sole direction for this release. Witchcraft fans should be satisfied enough but if you have been undecided on this band, this album is most likely to push you away even further. I think it is their weakest effort so far but still more than a listenable recording. The best way to describe it ....... for fans only..... 6/10

Words: Jack Sabbath

Witchcraft | Facebook
Offical Website

NEWS: MOURNFUL CONGREGATION To Return To The US For September Tour; 20 Buck Spin To Reissue Three Previous Albums ...

Following an incredible tour of the West Coast of the United States at the end of 2011, including a devastating performance at Rites of Darkness III, Australia’s epic doom sorcerers MOURNFUL CONGREGATION will return to The States in the weeks ahead!

The new pending tour will see MOURNFUL CONGREGATION returning to the US on an eleven-date trek erupting out of Seattle on September 14th and surging its way down the West Coast, and ending in Denver on September 28th, including a performance at Stella Natura in Soda Springs, California, a three-day fest in the wilderness of  Sierra Nevada’s Tahoe National Forest including Aerial Ruin, Aluk Todolo, Ash Borer, Blood Axis, Sabbath Assembly, Sutekh Hexen, Waldteufel, Wolvserpent and dozens of other acts. The Adelaide-based MOURNFUL CONGREGATION will be joined by Colorado blackened doom act Velnias as direct support for all dates, and Tim Call from Aldebaran will be sitting in on drums for MC on this tour. Additionally, a limited edition screen-printed tour poster with exclusive art by illustrator David D’Andrea will only be available at these eleven dates.

This new burst of touring precedes a series of MOURNFUL CONGREGATION reissues, as the band’s current stateside label home 20 Buck Spin will be reissuing their Tears From A Grieving Heart, The Monad Of Creation and acclaimed The June Frost full-lengths exclusively to North America. All three of these classic back catalog releases will be released on October 16th on CD and digital download, and are all must-hear albums for diehard fans of Skepticism, Opeth, Pallbearer, Katatonia, Evoken, Ahab, Loss, Samothrace and Disembowelment.

MOURNFUL CONGREGATION September 2012 US Tour w/ Velnias:
9/14/2012 The Highline – Seattle, WA w/ Anhedonist
9/15/2012 The Backspace – Portland, OR w/ Anhedonist, Hail
9/16/2012 WOW Hall – Eugene, OR w/ Anhedonist, Rye Wolves
9/17/2012 The Alibi – Arcata, CA
9/18/2012 The Stonehouse – Nevada City, CA
9/19/2012 The Elbo Room – San Francisco, CA w/ Amber Asylum, Wreck & Reference
9/21-23/2012 Stella Natura – Soda Springs, CA
9/24/2012 The Oakland Metro Backroom – Oakland, CA w/ Pendulous, Lycus
9/25/2012 5 Star Bar – Los Angeles, CA w/ Pendulous, Destroy Judas
9/27/2012 Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT w/ Visigoth, Odiom Totus
9/28/2012 Aqualungs – Denver, CO w/ The Flight of Sleipnir

Official Website
20 Buck Spin.Com
Source: Earsplit PR

NEWS: Ritual Productions To Release BONG’s Self Titled Album On CD For The First Time ...

Hot on the heels of the acclaimed new album Mana Yood Sushai and following a ton of positive feedback from recent live shows, BONG are resurrecting some of their back-catalogue via their spiritual home, Ritual Productions. Their debut 2009 self-titled album was originally released on vinyl, limited to 500 copies and with just two edited album tracks, ‘Wizards Of Krull‘ and ‘The Starlit Grotto‘. This October, Ritual Productions will be releasing the album for the first time ever on CD and Digitally, including the full versions of these tracks and one unreleased bonus track entitled ‘Asleep‘. This revitalised collection will remind people of BONG‘s beginnings, when their early meditative hymns were first committed to wax. The bonus track is a rare treat too, witness BONG at their darkest, most mournful and most psychedelic. To my mind, one of their greatest compositions.

Overall, a great collectible and an interesting comparison to their new material. These jams still sound so utterly entrancing.

Ritual Productions. Net
Bong | Facebook
Source: The Sleeping Shaman

Aug 26, 2012

Black Bombaim - "Titans" ...

A more adequate title would have been hardly found for the new album by the Portuguese Earthless, i.e. psychedelic acid rock jam band Black Bombaim. Their third output, the double LP Titans, is overwhelming not only for the physical extent of the release but also, and especially, for the tunes in it. After the successful self-titled debut album in 2009 and the heavily acid rocking 2010 album “Saturdays and Space Travels”, Titans is the definitive affirmation of this great band from Barcelos, Portugal.  The double LP Titans came out in May 2012 for the Lusitanian label Lovers & Lollypops as with for the previous releases. The album was recorded in Meifumado Studios and mastered in a special place, at Golden Mastering (Melvins, Sonic Youth, Om) in California.   So this time the Black Bombaim trio, i.e., Ricardo Miranda on guitar, Tojo Rodrigues on bass and Paulo Senra on drums, went over the measure of a normal album in various ways. As a matter of fact they made up a 65 minutes-long monument to Psychedelic Jamming with capital letters by involving an impressive roster of international and Portuguese guests.  The entity of this “constellation” of guests is such that you may have the measure of how respected Black Bombaim is worldwide and “at home”, especially after having played with many great bands by now during tours in UK, France and Spain: e.g., Kyuss Lives, White Hills, Radio Moscow, Electric Wizard, Russian Circles, Gnod, Notorious Hi Fi Killers and the Catalan psych act CUZO. Here are the names: Steve Mackay (The Stooges), Noel V. Harmonson (Comets On Fire), Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless/ Howlin Rain), Adolfo Luxúria Canibal (Mão Morta), Jorge Coelho (ZEN, Torto), Tiago Jónatas (Surya Exp Duo), Ghuna X, HHY, Tiago Pereira (Aspen), Guilherme Canhão (Lobster/Sunflare) and João ‘Shela’ Pereira (PAUS, If Lucy Fell, Riding Pânico).

This incredible team lead by the trio subdivided their (semi-)improvised performances into four long chapters that occupy the four sides of the two Titans LPs. The band’s style relies on exquisite cosmic to acid heavy bluesy psychedelic jamming with some retro tinge, very much in the vein of Carlton Melton, The Head, Wooden Shijp, Earthless, as well as John Cipollina, Bevis Frond, Outskirts of Infinity, etc., and even back to the very roots, Blue Cheers, Cream, Hawkwind, MC5 and the likes. However the frequent steering towards Sleep-inspired approach to lysergic psych-doom as well as the personal touch by the guests turned the instrumental improvisations in Titans into an almost avantgarde psych metal hybrid where keyboards, electronics and sax as well are involved together with some unusual strained vocals.

The four tracks building up the album do not carry any specific name, as there is no need to. Each of them occupies one side of the two LPs (in the limited double vinyl edition) and so they are simply called A, B, C and D side, followed by the names of the guests involved:
A Side - Noel V. Harmonson, Adolfo Luxúria Canibal, Jorge Coelho, Shela (19:47)
B Side - Tiago Jónatas, Guilherme Canhão (18:34)
C Side - Steve Mackay, Isaiah Mitchell (16:01)
D Side - Ghuna X, HHY, Tiago Pereira (10:36)

The A Side, involving guests Noel V. Harmonson, Adolfo Luxúria Canibal, Jorge Coelho and Shela, is the longest track, almost 20 minutes, but it flows away effortlessly due to the richness of the composition: rumbling bass lines, boiling hot psych riffs made magmatic by the wide employment of effects and insertion of keyboards and of unexpected utters from a guttural voice. The voice is declamating “titans” and verses in Portuguese while sounding halfway between Tom Waits’ rough wailing and a black-death metal singer’s  rants. Weird but interesting effect! This is the only track where minor vocals are employed. In psychedelia drumming is often essential, if not a bit subdued,  as guitars and bass endorse the biggest efforts in generating a tentacular soundscape. But drummer Paulo is (b)eating his way out of the riff jammings with powerful and moderately syncopated rhythms. In the A Side Paulo is even  providing two minutes of substantial solo drumming backed by light spacey echoes from the guitar pedals, very much like in a jazzy jam session. After about 14 minutes of the psychedelic vortex created by bass, guitar, drumming and vocals the musicians leave their weapons down for some two minutes of soothing silence where a slow, delicate shread of an acoustic guitar vibrates with a melancholic mood. Soon time comes for a reprise in a subdued but majestic doomy way via slow plodding riffs and the solemnity of retro-sounding keyboards (in the vein of Deep Purple or Wicked Lady). The fading of the keyboard sound at the end of the A Side merges with the subdued intro of the B Side whose smoooth continuity with the previous track can be appreciated in the digital version of the release.

The beautiful B Side, involving guests Tiago Jónatas and Guilherme Canhão, sees the band and their guests paying a due hommage to early, glorious Pink Floyd and British retro psychedelia. Therefore sounds and atmospheres are soft, very much keyboard-driven and absolutely out of the world, dilated, spacey and spectacularly retro-flavoured thanks to an unmistakeable and relentlessly pumping bass sound, the combination of pedals, echoed keyboards, and the employment of Theremin. This suite as well is somehow subdivided into distinct parts, where the contribution of Ricardo’s is uneavenly distributed. Ricardo’s mighty, psyched-out acid riffs are blooming in all their grandeur, energy and almost surgical precision and complexity in the long, mind-blowing central jamming. Ricardo’s seemingly casual wandering in the psychedelic territories is kept tight by the essential backing by Tojo’s deep-sounding bass and Paulo’s touches on cymbals and drums. It is awesome how the initial cosmic psych jamming effortlessy turns into a final killer retro, heavy psych bluesy session involving alll available guitars and effects until a slowing down of the pace and the return of the Theremin close the circle.

The peculiarity of dynamic C Side, involving Steve Mc Kay and Isaiah Mitchell, is the employment of Steve’s sax jammings. Sax is added to the great performance of guitars beautifully reverbered by wah wah effects and the tight, galloping drumming which gets intensified in waves. The sleazy sax jamming takes place only during the first 3-4 minutes of this magnificent 16 minutes-long psychedelic suite. The rest is mostly in Ricardo’s magic hands (or fingers). The crazy cosmic/weed guitar jamming is occasionally plunging into straight, dirty-sounding vintage heavy psych blues backed by an awesome vibrating bass line. It is like being on a time machine with destination: Deep Seventies.
The closing suite, C Side, involves Ghuna X, HHY and Tiago Pereira and is the shortest track, “only” 10 minutes-long. After some soft background noise, a long, sinister keyboard note will make you feel uneasy for a few minutes during its crescendo. This track is surely doomy and almost funereal also riff-wise. When the downtuned guitars and the thunderous drumming emerge and swallow the fading keyboard sounds it is the turn of a spectacular jamming starting like some straight dark Sabbathian doom and smoothly evolving into a flamboyant retro blues rock spyral easily making you roll over the carpet into pure dope ecstasys. Towards the end distortion and effects make the guitars howl and wail like imaginary, out-of-the-world animals uttering their last call to the fading sun. And in a few seconds some soft electronic glitches put an end to this magic adventure.

The production of this new album by Black Bombaim is immense. Titans is very beautiful even in the digital version which has the advantage of entering into this long psychedelic travel without interruption till the end.
But the double LP is essential for best appreciating the multiple shades and flavours of this majestic slab of modern lysergic psychedelia deeply rooted in the glorious tradition as in a solemn, introspective ceremony, a bit like when listening to Sleep.  You, your vintage hi-fi, Black Bombain and nothing else to be bothered about …

Words: Marilena Moroni

P.S.: … Do not miss Black Bombaim in concert, in Central Europe, in a short while!

Lovers & Lollypops

Sabbath Sunday ...

Three-quarters of the original BLACK SABBATH lineup performed on August 3 as the headliner of this year's edition of the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, with founding drummer Bill Ward sitting out the reunion due to a contract dispute. His fill-in was Ozzy Osbourne touring drummer Tommy Clufetos.

This was SABBATH's only North American performance of 2012 as guitarist Tony Iommi continues his treatment for cancer. The rest of the scheduled SABBATH tour dates were played by Ozzy Osbourne and billed as "Ozzy & Friends."

BLACK SABBATH's Lollapalooza setlist was as follows:

01. Black Sabbath
02. The Wizard
03. Beyond The Wall Of Sleep
04. N.I.B.
05. Into The Void
06. Under The Sun
07. Snow Blind
08. War Pigs
09. Electric Funeral
10. Sweet Leaf
11. Symptom Of The Universe / Drum Solo
12. Iron Man
13. Fairies Wear Boots
14. Dirty Women
15. Children Of The Grave


16. Paranoid

Fan-filmed video footage of BLACK SABBATH's entire Lollapalooza performance can be seen below.

Ward in May announced again that he was declining to join his former bandmates for its scheduled 2012 dates, as well as the recording of a new album, due to a contractual dispute.

He also allegedly had his lawyers direct SABBATH to remove him from photos of the band posted at the official BLACK SABBATH web site "so as to not give the public the wrong impression about his involvement in the current BLACK SABBATH lineup," according to a statement issued by the band's publicist.

Bassist Geezer Butler issued a lengthy retort at his own web site, writing that Ward "hadn't told any one of us he was having contractual problems, and frankly those things are worked out between our representatives, and never between the four of us, let alone in public."

Until now, Iommi told The Pulse Of Radio a while back that the members of SABBATH stayed friendly even when there were legal or other issues going on. "We've always been talking. We've always been in touch with each other," he said. "There might be a lawsuit in the thing between us, but we still talk to each other like nothing's happened, you know."

Ozzy, Iommi and Butler are working on their first new album together in 33 years.

See More Here > Blabbermouth

Aug 23, 2012


Platinum is proud to welcome a new member & one fantastic band to our artist roster & little family of rock: ALUNAH from the UK!
Recently billed as the "Future of Doom" by Terrorizer Magazine, Alunah's "White Hoarhound", their second album and first for PsycheDOOMelic Records, will be released on Monday 3rd September 2012.

Recorded by Greg Chandler (Serpentcult, Esoteric & Moss) and mixed / mastered by Tony Reed (St.Vitus & Trippy Wicked), "White Hoarhound" follows on the back of their recent appearances at DesertFest London and Sal Abruscato 's (Type O' Negative) A Pale Horse Named Death Wolverhampton show and see's the band take their Paganistic Doom sound to new levels.

Consisting of Soph Day (vocals and guitar), Dave Day (guitar), Gaz Imber (bass) and Jake Mason (drums), Alunah hail from the Midlands, UK and have spent the last 6 years building up a reputation for being one of the country's most hardworking and consistent live bands by playing national dates in top O2, HMV etc sponsored venues with international artists such as Paradise Lost, Trouble, Fu Manchu, Orange Goblin, Karma to Burn, Acid King, Firebird, Roadsaw, Witchcraft, Graveyard, Taint, Sally, Blaze Bayley, Winnebago Deal, Litmus, Witchsorrow, The Crave, Charger, Conan, Doomraiser, Black Spiders, Lord Vicar and Nebula to name just a few.

As well as their reputation as a great live band, Alunah's previous catalogue of recorded work (debut album "Call of Avernus", "Fall to Earth" EP and "Song of the Sun" single) has received plaudits from around the world leading to their current home on the PsycheDOOMelic Records' roster.

-  ALUNAH "White Hoarhound" -  New album released 3rd September 2012 on PsycheDOOMelic Records!  -

Alunah | Official Website
Alunah | Facebook
Alunah | Bandcamp

Aug 22, 2012

Black Temple Below – "Promo MMXII" ...

Black Temple Below is an Italian doom-sludge metal band that didn’t take much ending up under the spotlight of an outstanding international extreme metal webzine (see Here) as well as getting expressions of appreciation from web and fans for their self-produced debut 2011 demo.  The 2011 Demo neatly, or I should say, filthily depicted the style of this band devoted to some occult and tortured, hellish and suffering, in any case very heavy and sick, funereal blackened sludge doom metal blend deeply inspired by Celtic Frost, some SunnO))) and Hell maybe, as well as HP Lovecraft. I may be wrong but it seems to me that there is a, let’s say, “new wave” of very gloomy Italian doom-inspired metal that has been somehow building up as of late by a circle of nasty italian bands and musicians. This trend is like a black blood-filled menacing stream flowing side by side with the groove-laden, and definitely more mellow, psychedelic desert/stoner-doom river in the lively, braided Italian undeground scene. Black Temple Below are definitely part of this circle of Italian gloomy bands to which nasty lady-fronted SaturninE and the newly converted doom band Fuoco Fatuo belong.

Beside the common passion for heaviness, darkness, distortion, the filthiest roars and the darkest possible sounds and atmospheres, a common link, and possible a dark, valuable source of inspiration, is experimental multi-instrumentalist Adam van Maledict a.k.a. Adamennon. Adamennon is involved in this awesome stream of darkness either as musician or as sound magician in his recording/mastering laboratory SFR Studio located in the mountains in Central Italy. SFR Studio is actually becoming a reference for a growing number of bands which want to impart a certain, chilling “old” raw sound to their releases, and where rawness is not meaning poor managing of sound but the result of a skillful elaboration aiming to pristine metal sounds taking you back in the 80’s/early 90’s. Black Temple Below’s line-up includes Ipsissimus Magister on vocals/invocations, Sectarian Of The Sewer Realm on guitar/vocals, Sieg Julli Tenebrarum on drums and Brother Humbler on bass in the demo, further replaced by Adam Van Maledict on bass in addition to his performances with synths/noise & ambience. In addition to Adam’s musical background, the other band’s members are related to cult underground entities like the death metal/crust act Cancer Spreading and the grindcore act Jesus Ain't in Poland, among others.

Black Temple Below’s substantial 2011 demo was out as limited to 66 copies in early 2011. Some fine DIY skills were involved in a new self-produced release, called Promo MMXII, that the band shared on Bandcamp since July 2012.
The new output includes 9 tracks, three of which are re-recorded and remastered versions of tracks from the 2011 demo (The Feast of Eihort, Rise of the Putrid Moon and Lysergic Sacred Dimension). Four tracksof the new release are bound to be part of the split with Fuoco Fatuo (just shared on Bandcamp). Another split is expected with SaturninE. Raw, sinister, distorted, slow, killer riffs, equally indebted to both Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost for the load of groove and darkness, are going to assault you from the very first seconds of this collection of tunes. The viscous dark riffage and Ipsissimus Magister’s impressive filthy growl sound as if they were seeping through the stones of an old tomb, whereas the production often renders the drums and cymbals as if sharply bitten inside an echoing cave. Try these great effects, for example, in the opening track, Nocturnal Congregation Through Forgotten Woods, or in the splendid funereal ballad Morbid Dreams Of The Unknown.

Adamennon’s direct input is not limited to the pulsating and deeply distorted bass lines. Adam also provided some highly atmospheric and quite uncomfortable black ambient/electronic passages both as intervals into the tracks and as independent tracks, e.g. Desperate Restless Souls and Magnum Innominandum. He should also be behind the occasional steering of the band towards funeral doom as well as in some contamination with extreme dark progressive, like for example in the onset of the track Morbid Dreams Of The Unknown. The three remastered old tracks from the previous demo remind of the relatively more dynamic and groovy version of the sound by the band. There an explosive combination of tight and extremely heavy riffing and overly sick growls get periodically accelerated with the effect of a huge mass of boiling mud suddenly sliding downslope (and you are right downhill …). In spite of being slightly more funeral doom-oriented in the new release, the band did not dismiss the use of those impressive accelerations. Tracks like Under the Pyramids and the suite Pentagram Burning On The Master's Throne are devastating. Such powerful “slow” accelerations make a cool contrast with the occult, almost ritualistic development of the funeral doom parts, where even the insane dull growls contribute to the sick hallucinating atmospheres instead of disrupting them.
The vocal parts in this band are impressive and dreadful, loaded with human pain but so furious and deep that sound hardly human. In Black Temple Below singer Ipsissimus Magister gets the best out of his experience with cult band Cancer Spreading. However it is the coupling of Ipsissimus’ fierce bestial inging style with the suffocating ambience created by heaviest groove-laden sludge/doom poisoned by raw black metal and calibrated use of blackened ambient drone/prog electronics that makes Black Temple Below’s style quite original and infectious like a mortal virus.  The best thing to do is to get hold of the digital version of the 2011 Demo from Bandcamp or, even better, from the few copies left (if any) of the demo directly from the band, go into it, and then plunge into the nightmare with the tracks of the new Promo MMXII with the aid of Bandcamp only, while the band is looking for a label for decently releasing such sick stuff. And, for those who have the chance, catch the band in a live exhibition ...

SaturninE, Black Temple Below, Fuoco Fatuo, … and Adamennon’s darkening mantle … watch out, something obscure, vicious, slow and sickening is growing in the rotten bell of sunny Italy! And it is so disgustingly cool …

Words: Marilena Moroni


Link to the 2011 Demo on Bandcamp:

NEWS: PENTAGRAM To Perform Entire 'Relentless' Album At 'Power Of The Riff – East' Festival ...

Legendary cult rock act PENTAGRAM will play a very special set for the first Power Of The Riff - East festival on September 1 in Brooklyn, New York. The band will perform its Decibel magazine "Hall Of Fame" album, "Relentless", in its entirety for the first time since the early 1980s. PENTAGRAM will also play other beloved songs spanning the group's career, including tracks from their most recent album, "Last Rites". The influential doom legends will also support DOWN in Phillaldephia and Maryland. In other news, fans can finally get their hands on the PENTAGRAM documentary "Last Days Here", winner of the "Best Music Documentary" at the International Documentary Film Festival. The film is available from, iTunes, Best Buy, and other online and physical retailers. "Last Days Here" is also available for viewing via Netflix (DVD and streaming).

PENTAGRAM's classic "Death Row"-era line-up and the band's debut album, "Relentless" (1984), was inducted into Decibel magazine's Hall of Fame in 2010. Guitarist Victor Griffin's invention of the "Drop B" tuning is first heard here. This heavy-handed hallmark went on to influence handfuls of players and defined a subgenre.

Source: Blabbermouth
Posted By Doomm@anic

Aug 21, 2012

ROADBURN 2013 NEWS: The Ruins of Beverast ...

Roadburn's elated to announce that Meilenwald‘s The Ruins of Beverast will play its first ever performance at Roadburn Festival 2013, set for Saturday, April 20th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.

Former Nagelfar drummer and main songwriter Meilenwald has pushed the boundaries of black metal like no other before him, creating a unique musical landscape firmly rooted in classic black metal, but underpinned by grimy doom, swampy dirges, churning industrial music, arrays of ambient / experimental passages, and most surprisingly, occasional strains of melodic pop.

The Ruins of Beverast‘s haunting but also sinister albums (Unlock The Shrine, Rain Upon The Impure and Foulest Semen of A Sheltered Elite), deliver exotic, otherworldly music founded on plodding blackened doom. But that starting point is then exploded into shards of brain-rending shrapnel that is rife with unexpected leaps into extremely complex operatic or symphonic passages interspersed with interludes of ambience and heart-wrenching melodies. The variety and inspiration of these musical / artistic masterpieces makes them a must have for all fans of blackened-doom, as well as those in the vanguard of avant-garde music.

As a mythological symbol, the ruined bridge of “Bifröst” — the original ancient nordic expression for the old German word “Beberast” which Meilenwald modified to Beverast — symbolizes the end of the world, and the lyrical content of The Ruins of Beverast reflects a bevy of related interests that include religion, ancient warfare, and even science fiction.

The Ruins of Beverast has been a one-man, studio project so far. In what we consider a real coup, The Ruins of Beverast‘s Roadburn performance will feature a full band backing up Meilenwald‘s much acclaimed vision. We simply can’t wait to welcome The Ruins of Beverast to next year’s festival.

Roadburn Festival 2013 (including Godflesh playing Pure in its entirety, Electric Wizard's curated ' The Electric Acid Orgy' event and Die Kreuzen reunion) will run for four days from Thursday, April 18th to Sunday, April 21st, 2013 (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.
For more info, please visit: Roadburn.Com

Aug 20, 2012

NEWS: PAGAN ALTAR - Judgement of the Dead CD Press Release ...

Back in 1982 PAGAN ALTAR released this N.W.O.B.H.M. masterpiece and almost immediately this album went into obscurity. They have been by far the most over looked band in the history of heavy metal music. It’s amazing that they’ve finally pulled it all together for being virtually non-existent for nearly 15 years. They deserve all of the success and recognition they’re getting today and much, much more! In the late 90’s they came out of the woodwork and put this out on their own label and it was mistakenly called “Volume 1”. The extra track was an acoustic track which was just called “Acoustics” at the time. This is the first time this album will be released in all its glory. The correct title “Judgement of the Dead” and updated acoustic song title as well. Also, this is the original artwork that was released back in 1982 which has never been seen before until now! We’ve re-mastered the CD to sonically preserve its antique feel. If there ever was such a thing as a perfect album, this would be it! There is nothing more satisfying than the sound of this record. If you’ve never heard of this band or album, think of Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull and you’re almost there. They take music to a whole new level.

1. Pagan Altar
2. In The Wake Of Armadeus
3. Judgement Of The Dead
4. The Black Mass
5. Night Rider
6. The Dance Of The Banshee
7. Reincarnation

Coming soon to the SKR STORE:

Shadow Kingdom Records

Aug 19, 2012

Bedemon – "Symphony of Shadows"...

Finland metal label Svart Records have released the (ten-years-in-the-making) BEDEMON release Symphony of Shadows. The nine-track album clocking in at just under 60 minutes has been released as both a single CD and 2-LP vinyl set, both chock-full of photos, liner notes, descriptions as to how the album came to be after the tragic death of founder Randy Palmer back in Aug. 2002 and so on. Five are Randy’s compositions, with Geof contributing two songs, Mike contributing one track, “The Plague” while all three members wrote another track titled 'Son of Darkness.'

There has been some discussion recently on the Doommantia Forum on how good are these obscure acts from the 70's and do they deserve all the praise they are currently getting from doomsters. It is true that in the case of Bedemon their 70's recordings were thin sounding and lacked anything truly remarkable to stand up against Black Sabbath, Purple, Zeppelin and other 70's heavy rock monsters. Now almost 10 years in the making there is a new release and any doubts that might have existed about the song-writing qualities of Randy Palmer should be put it rest. It is easy to get emotional when you think of Randy Palmer's tragic death especially if you think he finally put together the album he always wanted but is no longer around to see it happen. The story of the band is a well-known one now. The band was the idea of Randy Palmer, who was closely aligned with the members of Pentagram which is really the only reason the 70's material is so sought after by collectors. Palmer played for several years with Pentagram, and Pentagram‘s Bobby Liebling and Geof O’Keefe in-turn spent time in Bedemon. Even though the band recorded a bunch of rough and raw demos, there was nothing officially released until the 2005 demo compilation, Child of Darkness.

After Palmer's death, drummer O’Keefe (who also plays 80% of the guitar solos), bassist Mike Matthews and new vocalist Craig Junghandel decided to complete the album and I for one am glad they did because this exceeds all possible expectations. To be honest I didn't have high hopes for this, I thought it was too little, too late but with the sad demise of Randy Palmer it is fitting that the album got a serious release regardless of the quality or strength of the material. The big bonus here is the quality of these songs go way beyond what I was expecting. 'Symphony of Shadows' sounds like a collection of songs that have been kept in a 70's time-capsule but have gained strength over the decades. The truth is though these songs were written by Palmer in the last 10 years and not the 70's at all but they still capture the essence of what was 70's Bedemon. When listening to this, you can't help but think of early Pentagram as the sound, style and general atmosphere is very close to the original Pentagram material with one exception, this seems far doomier and has a Wino/Saint Vitus kind of edge to some of it.

The other difference is while Pentagram kept most of their songs to shorter, more concise playing times, a lot of the songs here are long, sprawling, meandering doom pieces......some of which are up around the 10 minute mark. Kicking off with 'Saviour' it is pretty clear from the get-go that this album was not going to be some kind of throwaway project of Palmer's. These songs are well-written tunes that show the life-time experience that Randy Palmer had. It also doesn't sound "too retro" or at least not as retro as you might think. The songs can proudly sit alongside other modern doom acts such as Hour of 13 and they sound fresh and not just a collection of left-over ideas from the 70's era. As the album plays on, songs like 'Lord of Desolation' and 'Son of Darkness' do have a predictable vibe about them but the songs are still damn good. There is a ominous feel to songs like 'The Plague' that can send chills up the spine but they all carry infectious gloomy grooves that are impossible to get out of your head.

There are passages that seem over-extended, 'D.E.D' is one such song. Pushing almost 8 minutes long, the song virtually runs out of steam at about 4 minutes and it stretched-out with a repetitive chorus that gets pretty dull by the end of it. Those kinds of needless padding are rare though as most of this hour-long album flows beautifully. 'Kill You Now' is short and sweet and an instant classic for Bedemon fans while 'Godless' is my personal favorite track on the album. 'Godless' is a marriage of proggy sabbathian rock and pure Saint Vitus styled plodding doom and it is jam-packed full of irresistible groove and wonderfully tasteful and emotional guitar work and it is that which makes this as good as it is. The solos are dramatic, emotional and it is not just mindless doom shredding. The playing on this album is raw one minute and then beautiful and tasteful the next and the blend is potent. The closing epic duo of 'Hopeless' and 'Eternally Unhuman' are a bit overly expanded for their own good, both songs have a tendency to drag on a little but there is so much spark to the playing that it is impossible to turn it off without sitting through the entire 59 minutes.

As a way of honoring Randy Palmer’s legacy, 'Symphony of Shadows' is near-perfect. If you ignore the emotional element it is still a near-perfect release. There are slight detours and moments where the album seem to be just treading water and fleshing out songs just for the sake of it but those passages are rare and there is certainly not a weak track on the album. If you want to compare it with the original Bedemon material, then this is a worlds apart and a big step up from the original tunes. It also carries the pure 70's production values which compliment these songs perfectly and if you want to hear above-average riffing, this is an album you must hear. A special mention must also go out to vocalist Craig Junghandel who delivers a stellar performance. All in all, this is all you could want from a Bedemon album and more and of course we must thank Randy Palmer for making these songs possible.....9/10.

Words: Ed Barnard & Sally Bethhall.

Bedemon Official Website
Bedemon | Facebook

Aug 18, 2012

Nether Regions - "Into The Breach" ...

This band is most likely sick to death of hearing this by now but there is no getting past it, Nether Regions "Into the Breach" is mostly High On Fire worship but before you put this on the "ignore" list, I must point out, this is one of the better examples of metallic, melodic sludge-metal going around. The band is also not a copy-cat band in the way that some reviews might suggest. They are generic in the sludge-metal sense but they also mix it up with passages that push into the direction of bands such as Om and Neurosis so you can never say they are too predictable. 'Into The Breach' is an album that is impossible to hate but it is also pretty hard to get excited about. The riffs are good but there is not one riff on this album that left me floored and while this is an easy album to kick back to and head-bang to, it lacks the "memorable" quality to put it above anything else that has been released in the name of sludge-metal in the last 10 years.

One thing that seems a little perplexing to me is during the first half of the album, the band seem to be stuck in second gear and just treading water. It is not till tracks 5 and 6 before the album seems to kick into high gear. The opening trio of songs; 'Into the Breach/Spanish Werewolves, ' 'Do You Live' and 'Your Name Is Madness' all have some very heavy-duty riffage, some very flashy drumming and Matt Pike-ish intensity but they all come and go without leaving a lasting memory. They are songs where you think, well this is kicking ass and real heavy but where is the spark and where is that vital ingredient that makes me want to listen to this again and again. The fault is not in the musicianship because the playing on 'Into The Breach' is excellent and they even have jazzy breaks which are at least something different. One of the recurring features that the album has (for better or worse) is a lack of vocals. Passages of music go on for minutes sometimes without any vocals which isn't a problem usually but in this case, it often feels like it is missing.

When you get to the tracks 'Pale Faced God,' 'Blood Ritual' and 'Alpha/Omega' the album finally begins to pick up steam and everything seems to come together for the better. 'Pale Faced God' has moments of classic 70's rock guitar wizardry and 'Alpha/Omega' has infectious grooves up the ying-yang and is truly the first real memorable tune on the album. Sadly it is really the only memorable track the album has to offer and all the other tracks seem to fly by in mediocre fashion. 'A City Far Enough Away' is atmospheric but stock by sludge-metal standards but the closing mini-epic 'Outrun the Sun' ends the album on a high-note. This track may not be the most exciting piece of sludge you have ever heard but at least the band seem to be firing on all cylinders by this late stage of the disc.

The production on this album is a bit raw and rough but it seems to enhance the songs for the most part so despite its faults can't really be criticized. The songs are mostly an interesting melting pot of different tempos, metallic chest-bashing and cleaner, more ambient post-rock moments but it is hard to remember anything much from this album once it is over and done with. The album is about as solid as anything else in the sludge-metal genre but lacks that key element to take it to the next level. Nether Regions have successfully married the sounds of High On Fire and Neurosis but with the first half of the album having a "going through the motions" kind of vibe, it all seems underdone and unremarkable. At its best, 'Into The Breach' is up there with the best of them but those high points are all too rare to raise this anywhere above "average." ......7/10.

Nether Regions | Facebook

Aug 16, 2012

Pagan Altar - "The Time Lord" ...

“PAGAN ALTAR is arguably the very best band in the ENTIRE world that have flown under the radar for far too many years. It gives me great pleasure to announce this amazing EP release. This N.W.O.B.H.M. band is still going strong as they have written a mountain of music that has since been released over the years on their very own label. These are the oldest known recordings to exist dating all the way back to 1978! These are demo recordings and they didn’t properly record a few of these other songs until later on. These demo recordings are the birth of what I believe is one of the very best bands ever existing. This album has atmosphere written all over it and there’s no one that remotely sounds like PAGAN ALTAR. Bands and people today are just discovering these sounds for the first time and now they influence a ton of music that’s being written today in the metal world. The CD version has been re-mastered to scrub and preserve this recording to the best possible sound that we can deliver. This has only been released on vinyl until now.” ( Shadow Kingdom Press Release )

That press release may be a little over the top but there is no doubting what an important band Pagan Altar has been for the development of the doom metal genre. This is interesting because the band has never been a doom metal band really. They formed in 1978 and were part of the N.W.O.B.H.M movement of the early 80's even though they went largely unnoticed for many years. It also has to be pointed out that this new release isn't new at all, it is actually a reissue of early material that originally surfaced on demos and then on the EP of the same name released in 2004. Despite it being a bit disappointing there is nothing new to hear here, it is still a worthy reissue of 5 tracks that have stood the test of time very well indeed. None of these tracks sound too dated but if there is a track that does sound a little weather-beaten, it would be the opening track 'Highway Cavalier' which sounds a little ancient to my ears. The riffing on the track sounds pure early 80's, hear it and you will know what I mean, you just don't hear riffing like this much anymore but any dissatisfaction with the riffing is soon blown away by the killer lead that opens the EP. That tune is followed by the title track which carries a similar vibe although has a more timeless feel about it but from here on, you get nothing but classic Pagan Altar.

'Judgment Of The Dead' and 'The Black Mass' are filled with wonderful melodies, killer riffs, exciting vocals and more hair-raising leads. Most readers of this site would know these songs like old friends but for those that have been living under a rock someplace, this is classic doom-tinged heavy metal - the kind that simply NEVER dates. The best (in my opinion) is saved for last with 'Reincarnation' which is a perfect melting pot of sabbathian meets Judas Priest-esque riffing and melody and then the EP all comes to a all-too quick ending. Whoever came up with the original idea to reissue these classic tunes deserves his or her own statue somewhere. It is about bloody time the original Pagan Altar releases got a make-over and while I would prefer to hear brand new material, this is still an essential release for ALL metal heads, not just doom metal fans. I must also remind you that this is just the first of reissued Pagan Altar albums set to be released by the end of 2012 if the information I have read is correct. It is true that some passages on 'The Time Lord' sounds a little long in the tooth nowadays but the killer riffage, leads and vocals make up for all of those moments.....8/10.

Pagan Altar | Facebook
Official Pagan Altar Site

Aug 15, 2012

The Company Band - "Pros and Cons" ...

There's not too many corporations I approve of these days, but I'm glad to see these corporate raiders back in action, even if it's for a five song EP. I was frankly blown away by their self-titled disc a few years back and still consider it one of the best pure hard rock records of the 21st century. "Pros & Cons" isn't quite on that level, but it shows The Company Band is not just a start-up that soon runs out of gas. The songs here seem to lean even more strongly towards the classic rock of the 70's. It's not quite as aggressive as the self-titled but seems bluesier, smokier and the hooks are more rootsy. Take for example "The House of Capricorn", which has a kind of Bad Company feel to it. Bad Company is a name that turns up more than once here as a possible reference point. Neil Fallon's voice is just as strong as it is with Clutch and the lyrics remain impossibly endearing Co. Band trademark. "Black Light Fever" definitely has that Bon Scott AC/DC touch to it,  while "Kill Screen" slams to life like a wild combination of Montrose, BOC and AC/DC with an awesome chorus. "Loc Nar" has a stalking atmosphere and more of that Bad Company feel, especially during the lengthy solo section which is pure 70's blues rock. Speaking of which, "El Dorado" wraps things up with a haze of laid back classic rock crunch. It captures that elusive "desert rock" feeling and has hooks so huge they could reel Moby Dick in.

A bit of a different, more classical approach for The Company Band here...not better or worse than before, just catchy in a different way. Look forward to the next fufll length.

Words: Dr. Mality
The Company Band | Facebook
Weathermaker Music

TOUR NEWS: The ONE INCH GIANT is Stomping Your Way ...

You lucky people from the East Coast will get the chance to see One Inch Giant as they head out on tour in a couple of weeks. They will be sharing stages with the likes of Borracho, Eggnogg, Black Thai and others, don't miss out. In other news the band has a deal with Soulseller Records, and have released a pre-prod of a song from the next album which can be heard here:  Bandcamp but can also be listened to here but I recommend you check out their Bandcamp and official sites ASAP.

Tour Dates
8/27/12 St Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, NY
w/ Eggnogg, Nevereven, The Eyes of the Sun

8/28/12 Hanks Saloon, Brooklyn, NY
w/ Reign of Zaius, INNIS

8/30/12 DC 9, Washington, DC
w/ Borracho, Auroboros

8/31/12 Gunners Run, Philadelphia, PA
w/ Black Thai, Borracho

9/1/12 El'n'Gee Club, New London, CT
Stoner Hands of Doom festival

Aug 14, 2012

Iron Man – "Att Halla Dig Over" EP ...

You know there are very few bands in this world that you can totally depend on to release something great every time; even the best bands can make mistakes and often do. However there are exceptions, there are those bands that can't do no wrong, they just don't have it in them. The doom metal institution known as Iron Man are one of those bands. Since forming in 1988, the band has never been too consistent with releasing albums regularly but they are now on the greatest roll of their long career. A full length album and now two excellent EP's in around 3 years is their busiest run of releases since they released three full length albums from 1993 to 1999 but more important, the band is at their peak musically. Even though it has already been almost 3 years since their last full-length album was released, Iron Man are one of the rare acts that can satisfy with just a 17 minute EP like this one titled 'Att Halla Dig Over'.

The sound and style of the band is still rooted in Maryland doom and Black Sabbathesque doom riffing and melodies but the songwriting is better than ever while the performance of these pieces is second to none. Without a doubt the biggest plus of the band's career has been the addition of Screaming Mad Dee on vocals because he really has given the band an exciting presence and this EP is without a doubt the finest vocal performance of his career. The man has a timeless, classic metal approach to singing which is something you don't hear much in doom metal at all these days. Apart from this guy, Robert Lowe and a few others, vocals of this standard are almost impossible to find within the doom scene. The scream, the way Screaming Mad Dee delivers the words with such classic heavy metal passion is so charismatic and addictive to the ear, it sends a chill up the spine.

But onto the songs and this EP has four mammoth slabs of traditional doom metal starting with 'Quicksand.' The signature sound and style of Al Morris is immediately satisfying as he unleashes fuzzy sabbathian riffing, gorgeous hook-laden grooves and leads that are full of energy and passion. Iron Man combine 70's heavy rock riffage, early 80's classic metal and a modern trad-doom styles into a seamless package of irresistibly infectious metal. The leads are the freaked-out psychedelic kind that have a slight Jimi Hendrix vibe about them while the vocals are simply massive, mountain-sized vocal gymnastics. Screaming Mad Dee really pushes his vocal chords on this release but it still sounds like it is totally under his control at all times. The confidence that the musicians show on this EP is more than evident as it showcases the sound of a band at its peak.

If the opening track doesn't hook you in, the second track 'Crucified' will. This is Iron Man at their heaviest. It is hard to say if this is the heaviest song the band has ever written but it would have to be close. The guitar sound alone on this track is enough to have the listener rolling around on the floor in delight as Al unloads some gorgeous Iommi-ism's. What makes this so heavy is the over-powering distorted guitar sound coupled with more throat-tearing vocals from Dee. I also have to mention some exquisite bass-lines from bassist Louis Strachan who also seems to have stepped-up a notch in his playing or is it the band is simply on-fire right now. I can't tell what it is but something about this track tells me the band are loving doing what they do more than ever before and it shows up in these stunning grooves.

On the third track, the EP takes a slight detour with a tune called 'Suffer The Children.' This track to me at least sounds like a psychedelic re-working of Black Sabbath's "The Wizard" mixed with Sabbath balladry a-la 'Planet Caravan.' The track is absolutely beautiful in the way it has been arranged and the addition of Whitley Roca delivering angelic female vocals is just the icing on the cake for what is a monumental track. As with most of Iron Man's material, it all sounds familiar but that doesn't matter when the music is just this good. The EP ends on 'On the Mountain' which is given a make-over, not that it really needed it but it sounds amazing here. The track originally appeared on the 'Generation Void' album released in 1999. There is not much you can say about a tune as "classic" as this one but this is one remake that was worth re-doing even if it was just for the fun of it. It has more monster guitar work and no offense to former vocalist Dan Michalak but Screaming Mad Dee has you beat with this version.

Of course I could whine about how it is too short and I wish it was a full-length album and so on but this is 17 minutes that can be put on repeat time and time again. The EP is a melting pot of the old Iron Man and the new fresh version of the band and it is flawless. Check this out and you will hear a band at their absolute peak proving once again that Iron Man are one of the benchmarks for other traditional doom metal bands to follow and worship.....10/10.

Iron Man | Facebook
Iron Man | Official Website

Aug 13, 2012

Dopelord - "Magick Rites" ...

Dopelord hails from eastern Poland. Magick Rites is released on the Polish label Can’t Tell You Records. The label started this year, and Magick Rites (available both on CD as well as on cassette) is their first release. What an awesome start for a new label! Opening track The Pentagram is an instrumental piece to get the listener in the right mood. Building up slowly, you hear the evil making its way for you, coming straight at you from the deep waters of the swamp. After all, doom, stoner, etc. stands or falls with a good riff, and this is one hell of a good riff on their opening track.

Ghost Cargo From The Bong carries on where The Pentragram left off: a deeper investigation of the unholy mix of sick riffs, (magick) herbs and horror. As stated on their bandcamp page, their main inspirations are old movies, 70s music and magical herbs. Ghost Cargo features vocals, but they are mixed fairly in the background. Magick Rites sounds like Klusek (bass), Mroku (guitar), Miodek (guitar & vocals) and Arek (drums) have been listening strictly to Black Sabbath without paying any attention to other genres. Maybe they made a musical detour to get some Electric Wizard albums, but this album shows the strength of really delving into one particular niche and perfecting the sound you love to hear. Therefore it comes as no surprise they specially thank Tony Iommi and Black Sabbath J.

 Lucifer’s Son grabs for a higher key, and the vocals are comfortably placed in the background of the warming evil riffings.

Check Lucifer’s Son here:

Unihorn is stellar too. The sound of Dopelord sometimes reminds me of a more straightforward version of Hour Of 13. Unihorn (brilliant title by the way) precedes Possessed. Possessed closes the net of doom around you and sounds pretty much like vintage Electric Wizard. Magick Holocaust is slooooow and devastating. It seems the vocals are getting better by the track, and closer Rise! Undying! works as an open invitation to listen to Magick Rites once again. Rise! Undying! lasts 11 minutes and leaves you reaching for your remote control.

The artwork of Magick Rites is pretty stunning too and made by Miodek and one Tomasz Gornicki. With a total duration of more than 50 minutes, go buy your happiness with this album. Order your copy of Magick Rites directly at Can’t Tell You Records or at their Big Cartel page for only € 8,- on CD, and even better: € 3,- on cassette. Plus, you can get the digital version of their debut album on Bandcamp for € 3,-. .......9/10.

Words: Sandrijn van den Oever

Dopelord | Facebook
Can't Tell You Records | Facebook
Can't Tell You Big Cartel
Dopelord | Bandcamp

Woccon - "The Wither Fields" ...

Woccon is a melodic doom/death metal band from Athens, Georgia. It was started by multi-instrumentalist, Tim Rowland(ex-Peregrine,Sholfrost), in January of 2011 and was later joined by Tiler Kuykendall, Wade Jones, and Sam Dunn. Their first 4 track demo was recorded and self released in March of 2011 titled, Through Ancestral Fires, which featured Ryan Morgan of Misery Signals performing guest vocals. In February of 2012 Woccon recorded their first EP titled, The Wither Fields, which would soon be available as a self release. As of May 2012, Woccon has been in the studio writing and recording their début full-length (currently untitled) and are in the process of looking for a label to contract with for the début album and future releases. Writing a review after a long time; it is personally very satisfying to review a Band like Woccon; more so since I am a great follower of Melodic Doom/Death Bands. “Day light dies” comes to my mind, when I listen to Woccon as there is a lot of similarities in the music.

Woccon’s EP titled The Wither Fields is a quality EP to dig into. The opening track “Our Ashes” starts off with a superb rhythm section which moves into melodic waves to a give a start which is much expected out of a band that falls in the category of Doom death. The drumming has good double blast structures with some good variation. The highlight of the track is the way the guitar structure is laid on each other. It is simply mind-blowing!  The following track “Shattered mirrors” is another track which has a lot of blast beats and good lead parts with some good strumming of guitar in between which makes the music very interesting. The vocals are thick and powerful.

The track “A Failing Devotion” (featuring Lili Le Bullet of Drakkara) starts with female vocals and moves on to Death vocals with a doom-y feel attached to it. It is a mid paced song with screaming rhythm guitars. The final track “Lament” is a perfect example for a doom-y song, which is very melodic and mid-paced. A perfect ending to the EP!!! All the 4 tracks are very different from each other. Hence, no reason to get bored!!! This EP The Wither Fields is a rewarding listen that really does well to draw the listener in and keep the interest alive till the very last note. Musically this EP sounds sorrowful at every turn. This sorrowful sound is captured brilliantly as the guitars, bass and drums all play a part in making these songs unquestionably heavy but with dashes of dark melody. It creates a melancholic sound that will have you hooked from the first lengthy song.  It is very doom at times which reminds us of “Swallow the sun” band.

The production is really good and their Artwork is very striking. I can’t wait enough for Woccon’s full length album in future. Seek The Wither Fields, if you want something a little more meaningful. You will be left speechless! A masterpiece that will find demand amongst fans of old Katatonia and Daylight Dies. Go get it!!!

Words: Mahesh

Woccon | Facebook

Hesper Payne / Sabazius - "Under The Alum Shale" Split Album ...

Split albums like this one don't come along too often. Here we have two of the most underrated doom acts on the planet delivering a track each and both are of an equally high standard. Hesper Payne have delivered amazing doom rock for about 10 years now and have released three stunning EP's with 'Titans of the Northsea,' Dreamer in the Deep,' and 'The Strange Tale of Samuel Gonzalez' released not too long ago this year. That one has yet to be reviewed on this site but we will do something about it soon because it is a monster release that every doom fan needs to own. As well as those stunning EP releases, they also released the excellent compilation 'Relics from the Deep Dark Woods' and their most recent full length 'Unclean Rituals' which saw the light of day in 2010. Along with a great sound and great musicianship, they have always also had unique concepts to base their songs around and the epic track on this split is no exception but lets not forget Sabazius who are also a force to be reckoned with.

Sabazius formed in 2006 and have been a roll ever since with 2 excellent full-length albums, 7 EP's and a couple of split releases so they have done a lot in a very short space of time. I guess it would be fair to point out that both bands are an acquired taste given their unique take on doom metal which is perhaps why they still fly under the radar for most doomsters but that must surely change soon. This split album comes with spectacular artwork that hints at the apocalyptic doom that lays within its grooves but it also comes with a concise and comprehensive pairing of epic songs that could almost have come from just the one band. Both bands have recorded a 32 minute  epic track for this split release and both tracks convey a similar array of dread and ominous emotions as well some incredible instrumentation and arrangement that makes both these tracks all so easy to listen to despite their overly long-playing times.

Hesper Payne start things off 'The Deathless Dreamers Will' which is by far the more complex track out of the two tracks this split has to offer although it is still rather simple even by doom metal standards. It begins mellow and rather hypnotic with keyboards setting the mood but as the track unwinds you soon discover the keys are really central to the piece and are the driving force behind this epic track. As the track moves along, it becomes more of a progressive doom piece, not too dissimilar to the epic works of Cathedral. It gets more experimental as the music switches back and forth between reflective, somber moments and passages of pure sludge with soaring leads that I can only describe as "sexy." The track is a slow-moving exercise in doom and it is not to almost 20 minutes into the track before the pace picks up and even then, it doesn't change the overall vibe of the song. Vocals play a major role in the track but the voice itself is a little monotonous and doesn't have the variation that the music has but it is not bad enough to disrupt the great way this track moves along. All in all 'The Deathless Dreamers Will' is an almost flawless track and with a better vocal, it would be one of the all-time great doom epics but it still comes damn close to that anyway.

Sabazius and their epic 'The Madness from the Sea' is more traditional (for the want of a better word) than Hesper Payne's track. While Hesper Payne have put forward a sprawling, slightly progressive occult doom track in the mold of Cathedral and other hippie-doomsters, Sabazius have recorded a colder, bleaker piece that is based more around stark minimalism. While it is different to the 32 minutes of music that came before it, it is also a perfect compliment to that track. It is so perfect, it could almost be a part-two of the Hesper Payne epic tune. It is rare when you get two bands that come together for a split and compliment each other so well but that is the case here. You get to hear more ominous keyboards but the melody lines are far more icy and depressive overall. I have read that these two bands came together with the goal in mind to come up with two pieces that would convey the same kind of emotions so these two tracks would sound like a concept album of sorts. If that is the case, they have nailed it beautifully. It is hard to say which is the better track out of the two. Both tracks have something truly unique going for them and both are very easy epic tracks to sit through which is no easy task when you are talking about two doom tracks both stretching beyond 30 minutes a-piece. The album is a limited release in a digipak, limited to only 100 copies, with an A4 poster of the stunning album artwork but this deserves a much bigger distribution. However, Hesper Payne have a history of giving away their music as free downloads so start looking out for it now, you won't be disappointed.....9.5/10.

Hesper Payne | Facebook
Hesper Payne | Bandcamp
Hesper Payne | Official Website
Sabazius | Offical Website
Sabazius | Facebook
Loathesome - Buy The Split Here

Aug 11, 2012

Evoken - "Atra Mors" ...

Often numbers like 100 possess a sort of landmark status. Numbers like 100 and 20 may be relatively small numbers, or else big numbers depending on the situations. Number 100 is big, when not huge, when it marks, for example the number of releases in the catalogue of a successful underground label devoted to not-so-easy metal even for metallers. This is the case of the excellent label Profound Lore Records. Number 20 is stunning when it marks the years of activity of an underground metal band that has still very much to say. This is the case of the majestic US funeral doom death act Evoken.

These two entities and numbers go together well as Evoken’s brand new album “Atra Mors” is the 100th release for  Profound Lore Records, a top-quality label for which many metallers by now go basically almost blindly. And no better choice could be done for this double celebration. The relationship between Evoken and Profound Lore is recent. After years of interaction with European labels (Avantgarde Music and I Hate Records) the band literally crossed back the ocean and landed in the roster of the Canadian label devoted to the darkest and most original shades of doom, black and death metal. Some sort of relationship was actually already existent due to the direct and indirect connection of Evoken’s band members with Disma, one of the monster old-school death metal bands in the roster of the label. Evoken’s new album Atra Mors was released on July 31st 2012 and is the fifth LP released after five years from the last monumental full-length album “A Caress of the Void”.

The new album is stunningly beautiful and somehow embodies the different souls of the label. At the same time Atra Mors testifies a certain degree of evolution in the style of this long-lived and very “solid” band in the Olympus of funeral doom death for many years. When dealing with Evoken scary monumental albums must be expected, i.e. easy 70 minutes-long. Atra Mors is no exception, as you have to expect 1 hour 7 minutes for eight tracks. Six tracks last between 9 and 12 minutes, with two shorter tracks acting as intervals. When not in the length, it is in the style that present-day Evoken are somehow different from what came years before. The sources of inspiration of Evoken’s style are still clear and solid as huge basalt pillars: the Finnish pioneers Thergothon (from which Evoken draw their name), the Australian doom-deathsters Dismbowelment and the early Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride.  The new album still possesses a traditional background style consisting of monumental sounds and dark melodies which resonate somehow more severe than melancholic. Roaring riffs get developed and worked out slowly and painfully by the grim but sober growl emitted by John Paradiso over a sound carpet where the thundering and war-like drumming is blended with the atmospheres exhaled by keyboards. Nevertheless all this scary wall of sound is being mitigated, or just embellished by a substantial load of melody and a wider range of sonic features. Hence Atra Mors is very melodic but no less heavy than the previous albums! This is a giant album by length but it is characterized by a richness of shades and features making it flow like the intriguing development of a grim gothic fairy tale.

The variety in the singing features is impressive, as occult-sounding growls pass to clean, to spoken vocals and even to some severe monk chanting. Also there is a frequent employment of sober and gracefully intimate acoustic intervals where guitar, cello or piano create a haunting alchemy with the rawness of the dirty and twisted doom riffs and periodical brutal assaults bearing a genuine old school death metal flavour. All this effectively contributes in turning this slab of an album into a majestic kaleidoscope and in somehow exploiting the remarkable length of the suites for developing the richness of sounds which definitely stray from the boundaries of funeral doom death metal. Atmospheres created by Evoken range from ethereal to lush to martial to breathlessly abyssal, and make the new album a challenging one, for sure, but also dynamic and thus attractive. The adoption of substantial amounts of melody and the variations employed by the band in their style, together with the act of “crossing the ocean” and basically of getting professionally back to their continent for a double solemn celebration, recalled in me echoes heard in the “oceanic” band by definition devoted to a somehow similar majestic down-tempo genre, the German act Ahab and their solemn and charming album The Giant. Well, Evoken’s Atra Mors is sounding to me a bit less funereal than what hinted by the album and by the ghastly, cemeterial track titles. The sounds actually evoked in me images or sensations as if the band were celebrating concepts like the implacable laws of Nature, the greatness of the World (or of the cosmos) and the frailty if not the nothingness, of human beings.  So, due to this epic and, let’s say cosmic, feelings, the album actually recalled me the sensations felt while listening to Ahab’s The Giant, as if I were experiencing a sort of “oceanic”-like  terrestrial doom, with what this implies for those who heard and appreciated Ahab as well.   For their twentieth anniversary Evoken forged a surely solemn and oppressive but multifaceted doom ceremony which suggests that the band is far from being trapped in a rigid style and is still evolving.  I guess Profound Lore Records could hardly have chosen a better, more solid album than this one for the celebration of the 100th release in its amazing catalogue: an album made by an impressively long-lived underground heavy band, which is synthetically incorporating the various souls of the label and which is opening to new horizons.
Another album to have …

Words: Marilena Moroni

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Evoken | Myspace
Profound Lore Records

Evoken – Atra Mors

Aug 10, 2012

NEWS: BEDEMON's 'Symphony Of Shadows' To See Light Of Day ...

Svart Records has set an August 24 release date for "Symphony Of Shadows", the first-ever set of all-new material by BEDEMON, the band regarded by many as the original true U.S. doom band.

Inspired by the goriest of fright films and the most menacing of music at the time, guitarist/composer/journalist/author Randy Palmer churned out the very first doom songs written on North American soil. This understated innovator recruited the help of his bandmates, PENTAGRAM co-founders Geof O'Keefe (drums) and Bobby Liebling (vocals) as well as schoolmate Mike Matthews (bass). Throughout the 1970s, the band recorded numerous sinister, doom-drenched slabs of metallic gold — BLACK SABBATH were Palmer's idols — that illegally floated around on sub-standard bootlegs for decades. Finally, in 2004 to much fanfare, these rough, never-intended-for-public recordings were collected, repaired, and released as "Child Of Darkness: From The Original Master Tapes".

Since then, BEDEMON has seen a surge in popularity due to their intertwined history with the original PENTAGRAM, in addition to their music being featured in the critically acclaimed award-winning documentary, "Last Days Here" (Sundance Selects/914 Pictures), chronicling the life and times of PENTAGRAM and original BEDEMON vocalist Bobby Liebling.

Literally a decade in the making, BEDEMON now proudly issues their sophomore release, "Symphony Of Shadows". Shortly after completing recording of the basic rhythm tracks in April 2002, band founder Randy Palmer was involved in a tragic car accident and passed away in August of that year. O'Keefe, Matthews, and new vocalist Craig Junghandel worked with recording engineer Shawn Hafley over the next decade to finish the project both in tribute to Randy and also because they felt so passionately about the strength of the material; the result is nine bone-crushingly heavy slices of pure '70s-flavored doom metal.

Clocking in at just under 60 minutes, "Symphony Of Shadows" will be released as both a single CD and deluxe 2-LP vinyl set, chock-full of photos, lyrics, liner notes, and intimate stories from the surviving members of this very special band.

Of the album, drummer/guitarist/composer Geof O'Keefe says, "This is dedicated to Randy. His songwriting is so far advanced beyond the 'Child Of Darkness' material. The album sounds like a classic '70s metal release, which is very intentional!'

Svart Records president Tomi Pulkki heard the album and knew it was perfect for Svart, saying, "As a label that is perhaps best known for releasing PENTAGRAM and REVEREND BIZARRE on vinyl, I didn't think twice when the chance to work with BEDEMON was offered. We're happy to help bring their final opus to the world."

"Symphony Of Shadows" track listing:

01. Saviour
02. Lord of Desolation
03. Son of Darkness
04. The Plague
05. D.E.D.
06. Kill You Now
07. Godless
08. Hopeless
09. Eternally Unhuman

VIDEO: ORTHODOX: Live Video Performing At Primavera Sound 2012 ...

The bound ones of Seville ORTHODOX, recently blasted all their ancestral musical force at Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona. Fortunately for those who could not see this amazing performance, we are glad to share it with you with this video clip that captures the essence of this unique band.

The shots in this audiovisual piece, masterfully conducted by ARAM GARRIGA (American Jesus, Introspective, Cuzo “Scala Rossa”, etc), faithfully conveys  all the tension and rawness that emanates from the stage when these penitents hidden beneath black robes make appearance.

On top of this the sound, after a brief martial intro extracted from their album Sentencia, comes directly from the stage´s PA system. The band is performing the opening track of their first album Gran Poder: Geryon’s Throne… for those who are not familiar with it,  there are plenty of elements of the band´s hallmark: oppressive drums, solemn guitars and an  anguish voice that bursts in from deepest yearnings of the human soul.

Orthodox | Facebook
Source: The Sleeping Shaman

Winters – "Berlin Occult Bureau" ...

Berlin Occult Bureau, by the Scottish trio Winters, is a very fine doom rock album with a fresh nineties indie rock sound. The album will be released on the 31st of August, on CD (limited edition) and as a limited vinyl edition on the German quality label Van Records. Clocking in just under forty minutes, Winters give you myriad rock and metal spheres combined into one rolling, rocking vehicle: Berlin Occult Bureau. Berlin Occult Bureau is their second album (check their debut Black Clouds In Twin Galaxies and the EP Satelites released on Rise Above Records in 2008). Although the band doesn’t sounds doom in the regular use of the word, it’s still pretty down and unhappy. Like they describe on their facebook: Winters sounds like Ace Frehley on downers. Their inspirations: The Damned, The Dickies, The Kinks, The Cardiacs, and, Kiss.

Goodbye opens up the album quite up-tempo. You can clearly hear the guitar driven & rock oriented nineties indie sound. Nice one! It’s easy for the sound of this band to comfortably nestle itself into the back of your head. It’s radio friendly, easy on the ears and nothing too offensive lyrically. Plans Within Plans opens up with a possible semi-Pixies riff. Good start. This isn’t even doom, and you will like it!  Ausländer is as close as Winters will get to major radio play if you want my humble opinion. This song also stars on the Van Records compilation disc, which I got at Roadburn, and to be honest, to this day that disc hasn’t left my car stereo. Great, great song and this song actually got me into Winters in the first place, and I was desperately hoping for this album to be released. Schwarze Kraft reminds me of Nirvana and Sebadoh, which is a good thing.

Berlin Occult Bureau starts off with a few good drum rolls. A neurotic riff sets in and makes this track a beauty. Yes, Winters is eclectic, and as they state on their “ [the] songwriting is rooted in an eclectic mix of classic British post-mod pop to bands like Low and singer-songwriters like the late Elliott Smith. One of the biggest influences is the cult British proto-punk band The Creation. Contemporaries of The Kinks, The Small Faces and The Who, they inspired the name of Alan McGee’s seminal indie record label in the 1980s as well as providing camp German disco donkeys Boney M with their 1970s hit ‘Painter Man’.”  On Your Street Again is lighter in tone. No Tomorrow might just be your anthem for the sunny days of this Summer (in Holland at least). A track named Ace Frehley shows their clear love for, well, Ace Frehley. Run Run Run and Geistkämpfer close the album. Geistkämpfer shows the band at its best: slow, nice moving dark rock that digests very smoothly right into the bowels of your musical intestines.....8/10.

For those of you that live in the UK, go see them here live at the 6th of September in  London / Black Heart Camden together with Lesbian (USA) and Necro Deathmort. You can check out Ausländer here: YouTube

Words: Sandrijn van den Oever

Winters | Facebook

Aug 9, 2012

ORCHID: First ‘Heretic’ Video Teaser Now Online ...

San Francisco-based doom rockers ORCHID have released a first snippet video for the title track of the band’s upcoming new EP ‘Heretic‘.

Check out the 1 minute flick below also featuring a short commentary by the band.

‘Heretic‘ will be released on September 7, 2012 via Nuclear Blast. The EP will be available on 10“ Vinyl, as Digisleeve CD and digital download.

‘Heretic’ tracklist:
01. Heretic
02. Falling Away
03. Saviours Of The Blind
04. He Who Walks Alone

Orchid | Facebook
Nuclear Blast Records
Source: The Sleeping Shaman

Aug 8, 2012

Tempestuous Fall – "The Stars Would Not Awake You" ...

You may have heard the one-man ambient black metal project Midnight Odyssey. Well Tempetuous Fall is another project from the same man, Dis Pater and this comes from Australia so that should give you a "heads-up" that this could be pretty good and you be right. One thing about the Australian scene is, it is not overwhelmingly huge in terms of the amount of bands, but it is top-heavy in sheer quality and this album is no exception.

Sounding like it is inspired by My Dying Bride this is not another direct rip-off or clone of said band. While it can hardly be called original, it is a fresh take on a much-used formula. There are five songs ranging from 10 to 14 minutes but for once this is a funeral meets death doom album that never drags too much as it is mostly mesmerizing from start to finish. Despite the My Dying Bride influences  'The Stars Would Not Wake You' is still leaning heavily in the funeral doom direction for the most part, 'Shape of Despair' comes to mind while spinning this disc. It is a blend of deep, sometimes droning funeral doom and melancholic metal all put together with a production that has created an atmosphere that is otherworldly.

There is a symphonic element to this album that sets it apart from a lot of other My Dying Bride wannabees and that coupled with the spaced-out production takes the listener on a journey into the cosmos. The guitar sound is of course, incredibly heavy and oppressive but it is held back in the mix which gives this an even more depressive, almost morbid feel. This album finds a great balance between using the very best elements from the funeral and death-doom scenes and something totally unique to this project and this project alone. The musicianship is fantastic but the vocals are kept mostly to fairly monotonous growls and chants. For the first time in a long time, this is a funeral doom kind of doom album that has no weak tracks. Despite these songs being overly long at times ('Beneath a Stone Grave' is one song that could have done with some trimming), it still manages to be one long, intriguing journey to the morose and depressive side of being.

The album hits it stride early on with the opening track 'Old & Grey' which is amazingly infectious for such a gloomy style of metal. Readers of this site would know by now that I recently suffered a heart-attack and this album served as one of my main soundtracks to the whole dreadful experience. Not only was the music very fitting but it was also oddly positive as it helped me come to terms with how fragile life can be. However you don't need to have a heart-attack to appreciate the emotions that drip from the speakers when playing this epic release. The melodies, harmonies and the lush musical textures that 'The Stars Would Not Wake You' has are staggering at times and it keeps you focused for all of its 64 minutes. 'Beneath a Stone Grave' and 'A Cold Stale Goodbye' are the albums two most epic tracks at over 14 minutes apiece and they do suffer a little from a little too much extended plodding but it is no deal-breaker. They are just two tracks that need a bit more patience than the other three tracks. 'A Cold Stale Goodbye' is actually hair-raising, spine-chilling stuff for its first 10 minutes or so only to go slightly off the rails for the remaining 4 or 5 minutes as it gets drag out with less than essential padding.

The title track and especially 'Marble Tears' are emotionally driven pieces that hit where it hurts, making the most out of the use of synths and violin. By funeral doom standards, this is one of the best albums of its kind released in the last few years and I find it hard to fault anything with this album. It is morose, depressing, dark and all so painfully filled with sorrow but there is something about this that will have you coming back for more so this is one doom album that is certain to have a lengthy life-span. A must have for fans of My Dying Bride, Shape of Despair and Thergothon; this can not be missed......9.5/10.

Official Home-Page

NEWS: UFOMAMMUT: 'Oro: Opus Alter' Details Revealed ...

The second installment of UFOMAMMUT's two-part "Oro" album series — "Oro: Opus Alter" — will be released in North America on September 18 via Neurot Recordings. The CD's intriguing cover art was brought to life once again by the unstoppable force that is the Malleus Art Collective. Additionally the band has continued its tradition of visually presenting each track from the "Oro" series with their fans, and has unveiled the album's second hymn, "Luxon", in full video style.

"Oro: Opus Alter" track listing:

01. Oroborus
02. Luxon
03. Sulphurdew
04. Sublime
05. Deityrant

As with all previous UFOMAMMUT albums, the concepts behind "Oro" are expansive and multi-faceted, mutating the Italian palindrome which translates to "gold" with the Latin translation of "I prey." "Oro" explores the concept of knowledge and its power; the magical stream controlled by the human mind to gain control of every single particle of the world surrounding us. "Oro" is the alchemical process to transform the human fears into pure essence; into Gold.

Although "Oro"'s two chapters will be released months apart from each other, they must be considered as a single track in which the musical themes and the sounds appear and reappear, mutate and evolve, progressively culminating in the crushing final movement. "Oro" is an alchemic laboratory in which substances are flowing, dividing and blending themselves in ten increments from the alembics and stills, culminating into the creation of Gold.

"Opus Alter" is going to fulfill and widen the perspective of the new work of UFOMAMMUT. Starting where "Opus Primum" ended — the album released as well by Neurot in April of this year — "Opus Alter" evolves deeper into devastatingly powerful new territory, where chaos is metamorphosed by cacophonous sound, until the final notes resonate, knowledge is forged and the band strike gold.

UFOMAMMUT is continually updating its tour itinerary, having new performances confirmed across the European continent for the months ahead, with plans coming together to bring their otherworldly mammoth sludge magic across the Atlantic in the near future.

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