Friday, February 16, 2018

Smoke - Stoned to Death (2018)


With a name like Smoke, you can only imagine what this band sounds like. Hailing from the deep swamps of Louisiana, Smoke is heavy on the Stoner vibes while also mixing in some Sludge Doom for good measure. If you mixed Iron Monkey, Weedeater, and maybe a little QOTSA together, you would most likely get Smoke. The band has that warm and fuzzy sound to it, while also managing to hit hard like a left hook to the jaw. Scratch that, make it a shovel to the head. These guys definitely love their stoner riffage, but you can definite catch a whiff of that NOLA Sludge/Doom heritage in there as well. These dudes sound nasty as fuck though.
Like I said they have that warm and fuzzy sound and that comes mostly from the guitars on this. It's definitely laid on thick like Robitussin to a sore throat. Speaking of which, the vocals on this are fucking killer, and I couldn't imagine them using anything else. It really gives them that edge and contributes to their overall dank and dirty sound. There's a really good bass tone on this album, that is really punchy and cuts through. A lot of times I often associate the sludge sound with the guitars, but if I were to pin a "Sludge Sound" for bass, this would probably be it. The drums on this are fucking amazing. There are moments where you wouldn't expect it and this dude throws in some double kick that really adds a heavy layer to this. It's also used sparingly, which gives it even more of impact when it does happen.
Overall I really dug this. It's not the most original stuff out there right now, but it's definitely the type of music I'm into that's for sure. If you're looking for something that has a stoner groove, but want something that's harsher than your typical heavy psych, then Smoke is definitely your shit. This gets my stamp of approval! Cheers! -Samir


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fu Manchu - Clone of The Universe (2018)


Usually I don't review albums from established bands like this, but I felt like I needed to make an exception here. Fu Manchu certainly doesn't need my help in promoting their new album. I'm simply writing this review to file it away for the "Best of" year end list, and also to proclaim that it is probably my favorite Fu Manchu album of all time. Even more so than "The Action is Go".
My love for that album started not too long after it came out. I was reading Thrasher or Guitar World (I can't remember where the article originated), and I saw Fu Manchu being featured with J Yuenger of White Zombie (who I'm still a fan or, just not Rob) who apparently produced their new album. I remember him saying he let the band use his vast pedal collection, but that's the only thing I really remember from that article. Either way, It peaked my interest and when I finally got my hands on "The Action is Go", it blew my mind. The front cover with the retro skateboarding picture captured the full essence of the whole album. Godzilla sized 70's style rock riffs with a punk rock energy played to the backdrop of a California summer.  This was my introduction to Stoner/Desert Rock, and I believe this was my doorway drug to the harder stuff like Sleep and Electric Wizard. I was already a metal head well before that, so it makes sense I would be drawn to the more sinister and aggressive aspects of the Stoner genre.
Fast forward to yesterday when I listened to this for the first time. I mean up until this point I have casually followed their albums. I liked "King of The Road" but after that I got quite lost on their stuff. It just didn't seem to hold up for compared to what I heard. Until now. I mean seriously, this is a great fucking album. The guitar and bass still have that massive fuzz sound that's often duplicated but nothing is quite like the original. The riffs are just as Kaiju-like as they ever have been before, and they're just a little less California Sunshine and little bit more Angry Red Planet Mars. I think what I like most about this album is the fact that the last track is about just as long as all of the other songs combined, and it features Alex Lifeson from Rush on it.  In a way it makes me feel a little nostalgic about rush even if i'm not the biggest fan. Just knowing they're not going to be together anymore makes the track seem a little bit more special.The song might seem vast but it doesn't get old, and it's not bogged down by being repetitive with plenty of tasty riffs to keep the listener satisfied.
So overall this is definitely one of my favorites of the year from a band that I have been a fan of for decades now. So grab your skateboard, or bong, or whatever you need this to be the soundtrack for and turn this shit up, because it fucking rules. We live in a day and age where Stoner Rock is plentiful, and for the most part have nothing new to offer. Yet, for whatever reason, Fu Manchu manage to pull off their signature sound while still feeling fresh after all of these yes. Cheers! -Samir

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Krvshr - Night Terrors (2018)


Great news! If you've been sleeping too soundly at night, Krvshr is here to grab you by the throat and make you shit yourself with their new album "Night Terrors"! This is some brutal sludge that was raised on a steady diet of hardcore and brushed with a light layer of doom. It's the band's first full length and they really worked hard to make sure you feel this deep in your bones. When the guitar and drums hit in unison, it feels like a machete hacking away and opening up fresh wounds with its sharp and rusty guitar tone and murderous rhythmic force. It's filled with rancorous rage, pissed off guitar strains, and squealing feedback, but its hardcore/punky nature still gives it some catchy bits. The first track "Wax Wings" is a great example, but I especially love the third track "Sailors Grave" and the vocals on the chorus. The last track "Walking Hell" is longer than the rest and a little more brooding, but features the same wretched ire. The whole album has an addictively abrasive power - it hits you like a brick, then someone drags that brick across your skin. Okay, yeah, it doesn't sound 'addictive' when I spell it out like that, but trust me, you'll keep coming back the sound. You might hear one song, think it's good, and walk away, but before too long you'll be wandering back, hungry for the Krvshr's painful bite. -Brandon


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tentacle Wizard - Bringer of False Light (2018)


Tentacle Wizard is a band out of Serbia that wants to take you on a nice, meandering stroll through a world of devastation and ruin. Their debut release "Bringer of False Light" takes slow stoner-doom with psychedelic and post-metal touches and plays it with a mellow tone over the course of three long-ass songs. How do they achieve such a sound? Well it can be attributed in part to their use of two bass guitars, which makes the air feel dense, as though you have to wade through the music. But beyond that you can give credit to the songs themselves, which are as exploratory as they are heavy. Guitar leads wander all over the place, trying to dig their roots anywhere they can. The final song in particular kicks around in the darkness angry and aimless for the first six minutes before diving into an absolutely serene sense of psychedelic peace. Don't get me wrong, even though this has a smooth disposition, it's still got its rough patches and a strong arm. The vocals are hoarse declarations shouted into the cosmic void, and while the tone might put you at ease, there are enough crushing riffs to put you right back on edge. It all just depends which tentacle the wizard summoned out of the abyss - sometimes it's going to gently guide you through the wasteland, other times it's going to slither all around you, bind you up, and squeeze. In any case, it's definitely worth letting tripping out on for a while. -Brandon


Friday, February 9, 2018

Rotted - Pestilent Tomb (2018)


Holy fuck this is some good shit! Influenced by American and European Death Metal of the late 80's and early 90's as the band's bandcamp firmly states, Rotted is a one man project that indeed had a penchant for OSDM, but also combines aspects of Death/Doom and Sludge, adding to the brutality and carnage of its predecessors. The album is aptly named "Pestilent Tomb" as the grooves on this maggot infested slab of putrescent flesh is noxious enough the wake the dead.  Riffs move and sway like waves of rot, and fester in its disgustingly heavy prominence. 
I'm just a sucker for a detuned slow to mid paced heavy groove-laden riff, which are plentiful on "Pestilent Tomb". This is where a lot of the OSDM influence comes from. Riffs stew in their own repetitive filth, as the riffs are simple and heavy. Don't get me wrong though, just because the riffs simple doesn't mean they're stupid. The music just isn't concerned with the technical escapades of more modern Death Metal. The sound production on this release however is definitely more modern, relishing in its agonizing nastiness, without coming off as being too polished or over produced. 
The strings are definitely fat and heavy, and there is a good mix between the sludgy chugging of the guitar and the deep low bass sound. Sometimes you can here the bass entering or exiting a riff before or after a pause, and I think that's an awesome way to make you forget you're listening to only one person perform all of the instruments. That and the top notch musicianship. Even though the sound is a little loose like decaying meat off of bone, the playing on this is tight as fuck. Especially the drums. Not everything on this release is slow, as it's clear the intentions aren't to make a straight Death/Doom album. It just so happens that these are the types of riffs that this dude likes playing. However when shit speeds up, the drums make their presence known with wallops of double kicks, and bludgeoning blast beats. The they get out of the way again for the strings and the vocals to do their tending to the dead. Lastly the vocals really kill on this. It's deep, but it cuts through the mix, and is as subtle as a chain saw in a backwoods cannibal massacre. 
Overall I really dug this. I'm really into the fast shit, but I also like the stuff that let's you savor the riffs before beating you over the head into a bloody pulp. "Pestilent Tomb" is definitely one of those types of releases for me, and if you're into that kind of shit as well, you should most definitely check this out. Highly recommended! Cheers! -Samir


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Rip VanRipper - Pars Flaccida (2018)


Hey it's some fellow Michiganders who happen to Stoner/Sludge/Doom, and these guys sound down to bake out! Combining the sounds of Dopethrone, Church of Misery, and a little bit of Beastmaker, Rip Van Ripper are high on dope and ready to lay down some tasty stoner riffage. Combining Traditional Doom templates with Stoner/Sludge grooves, Rip Van Ripper are super dank for sure, and sound nasty as fuck.
One thing I've noticed for sure with these dudes is that their influences they cull out seem to span over decades rather than being limited to a certain era. You can hear the 70's but it's not just rampant Sabbath and Zeppelin worship like you'd expect. There's a bit of the 80's and 90's Doom/Sludge in there, as well as the more contemporary bands I mentioned above.  These bits and pieces here and there craft some pretty sick and memorable riffs for sure.
There's definitely some fuzz in the guitar parts, but nothing that is overpowering, especially when the riffs get extra sludgy. The low detuned part come in with enough clarity to make an impact, and not seemed one big ball of mud. This could also have something to do with the bass sound as well, which while slightly distorted is almost devoid of all fuzz. The bass tone itself, sounds more like something you'd hear on an old school punk record. Think Geezer Butler playing for Black Flag. I am a fan of this drummer's foot work for sure. I really like Stoner Doom that really accents and stresses the heaviness of the guitar and bass, rather than just sitting back and staying out of the way. The vocals on this release are fucking amazing. There's a high and low death growl mix that makes this band stand out in the crowd bong in hand. There's also some cleaner vocals in there as well, and altogether it makes for a great sound. This helps in a way, because the genre itself can be pretty stale if you're not bringing something different to the table.
"Pars Flaccida" fucking rules, and is definitely one of my favorite stoner jams of the year thus far. This isn't Rip Van Ripper's first release, but it sounds like they're definitely honing in on weed metal mastery with this one. Pack a bong, order a pizza, turn this shit on, and let the party commence! I definitely recommend this one for sure! Cheers! -Samir


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Megaritual - Dreamfeeder (2017)


Born of both sky and soul, "Dreamfeeder" is the latest release from Australian one-man band Megaritual and it manages to feel simultaneously worldly and cosmic over the course of its 25 minute musical odyssey. It's a beautiful mix of genres that you can almost think of as an audio mosaic - you can zoom in and analyze one component, but when you do, you're missing the bigger picture. Here, that big picture is a swirling, trippy journey that starts in your head and ends sprawled out among the stars. The album starts with the title track, which leaves acoustic trails echoing through the void before blossoming into a booming doom metal and then evolving beyond that. The doom is strong here at the beginning, but over the course of the album it shifts, evaporates, and simply leaves behind its dark flavor to enhance everything that follows. Conversely, you'll hear a hint of Eastern musical influence trickling through the music at first, but when the second track hits, it's like the dam breaks and you feel it rushing forth like a raging torrent. Exotic Indian tunes (raga) weave through a mesh of psychedelic, stoner, doom, and rippling cosmic sounds. It's the kind of stuff you should burn incense to, but even if you don't you'll probably get a whiff anyway because the music practically gives off its own fumes. This is unique piece of work for sure, sort of outside the realm of what I'd normally dig into, but I'm really glad I did. -Brandon