Friday, August 31, 2018

Toten Hex - Cemetery Avenue (2017)

I totally missed out on this one from 2017. For some reason, I feel like I knew about this Toten Hex release last year, but somehow never got the chance to listen to it, or forgot about it. I'm really regretting that after finally catching up, and this is some really good shit. "Cemetery Avenue" was most likely one of the best releases I missed out on from last year. If you enjoy that big fuzzy Doom sound with slow thunderous riffs, you will most likely dig this one. One interesting aspect to this release is that the songs are pretty fucking short, not just by doom standards, but by general song standards. However, I couldn't tell at all, and I only noticed this when I really took a closer look at the Bandcamp page. The songs really flow and blend well together. On top of that I was so drawn in to the music that it didn't matter anyway.
As far as the strings go, it seems like most of the power is coming from the guitars. If there is bass on this it's either very low in the mix or just it blends in with the guitar. However that is quite alright because that guitar tone is thick and toasty as fuck. Plus it's pretty bassy in its own right, carrying a lot of the low end. I was a fan of the vocals on this as well. Throughout each song they float somewhere between angry chant and death growl, and it really does compliment the fiery riffs. These riffs are really fucking good, and have a nice groove to them. I can't wait for whatever Toten Hex releases next. Highly Recommended! Cheers! -Samir

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Golden Bats - Residual Dread EP (2018)

After a few years and a boatload of EPs the devilish one-man act known as Golden Bats has finally released a full-length album! "Residual Dread" drags you wailing along a gravel road and into the depths with heavy, dingy doom played with sharp, rusty sludge tones. This album fills the role of a gravedigger - it's dreary, morose, a bit grisly, and beneath the glum appearance there's a whole lot of taut, wiry muscle used for putting people underground. A constant doom metal undercurrent churns with that understated strength while savage, corrosive vocals rain down from on high spraying the songs with a bitter venom. Meanwhile, melancholic melodies will stalk you over the course of each track only to emerge from the shadows when you least expect them and strike with sorrowful guitar leads, organs, and keys. The result sounds like it could have been lifted from a Transylvanian funeral if it was mashed up with a back-alley knife fight. Songs creep slowly with riffs swinging in a dangerous, steady rhythm like a mace at the end of a pendulum. At the end there's even a whiff of black metal spirit blowing in the cold, deathly wind. No doubt this is one for the wicked - needs to be played 'til it disintegrates your skin or dismantles your soul - or maybe both! -Brandon

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Unholy Slough - Chthonic Ritual (2018)

This descent will take us impossibly deep into the bowels of a crypt long forgotten by God and man alike in order to gaze into the cold heart of eternity and try not to be driven mad in the process! You have been warned - this will be gruesome. After the demise of the warbling, water-logged stoner/doom act The Devil's Swamp, a new band arose from their tomb going by the name Unholy Slough. However, all the time spent in the grave means that the sound has decayed, becoming an especially grim mix of death, doom, and sludge that must have been burned dry in hellfire. The first track "Prologue" creates an eerie atmosphere that grows more harrowing with each passing minute building tension as you feel the air grow still and your heartbeat quicken. And then you find yourself in a world of terrifying misery as "Ritual" begins and the first, low, wretched shout engulfs you like a cloud of stale and putrid rot. Slow and bleak the song continues with riffs and an atmospheric synth that make you feel as though you're trudging through the catacombs with the tempo picking up only briefly so that the dead may taunt you. "SM" strikes even harder, picking up and echoing through the dark chamber and shaking the walls with an extra dose of gloomy brutality. The final track "The Last Chthonic Vision" reaches a grumbling, agonizing climax that crawls through a seemingly endless vortex of desolate, swirling death before abandoning you frantic and delirious in the depths of despair. Once this album has you there's no escape, so submit to the somber, unnatural growling in the darkness and embrace your cursed fate! -Brandon

Friday, August 24, 2018

Kurokuma - Dope Rider (2018)

"Dope Rider's" cover art was very misleading to me. Before I decided to hit the play button, I thought it was going to be listening to Stoner/Desert Rock. The opening drum beat sort of back this notion up as well. However once the strings and the vocals came in I realized I was listening to an entirely different beast altogether. Kurokuma's fiery Sludge Doom is catchy as fuck. The riffs and grooves had me locked in right away on "Dope Rider". You have to savor them though, because this EP is only like 13 mins long. When that final riff on Track 2 ("Dope Rider Part 2"), and you revel in the gooey sludgy goodness of its detuned riffage, you find out how fleeting that moment really was when the song ends minutes later. That's alright though, because if you're like me, you will just start the damn EP all over again and give it a few more listens, because it's that fucking good.
There's also a hint of Noise Rock abrasiveness, but I don't know if it's enough to reclassify this as being anything other than Sludge Doom. It can be heard primarily in the vocals and the bass. I really dug the screaming from the vocals, and I felt like it had the right amount of aggression to compliment the riffs. I think the drums have something really interesting going on. I don't think I truly noticed until a few listens of the EP that he has this consistent hard hitting shuffle and swing throughout both songs. I think maybe the last bar or so is played straight but who cares, it was a little off and a little different, and added a little flavor to the whole Sludge Doom experience. Overall, this EP was a pleasant surprise. I'm really glad this didn't turn out to be a Stoner/Desert Rock album, as Sludge Doom is really more my thing anyway. With all that being said, I highly recommend this one! Cheers!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Eye - Out of Body (2018)

Eye comes to us from Russia thickly veiled in a shroud of mystery - even the cover of their new album "Out of Body" is a cryptic bramble of dim neon contours hiding in the darkness - but the sound they bring is unambiguously heavy. They've arisen from the underground to ensnare all who will listen by playing psychedelic stoner-doom with dual male/female vocals and just the right kind of twists to turn your mind into mush. The first track ("Transformation") brings in the battering ram of doom and starts banging at the gates - first slowly in majestic arcs then faster and more frantically - until your ears are blown out and your head is full of static. Once you're on the ground with fuzz pouring out of your ears, then things start to get trippy as the second track begins swirling in extra psychedelic wind-swept desert sounds and eastern influence into the mix. The next two tracks ("Moment Balans" and "Smoke Weed") see the band fighting with their stoner instincts as songs shift seamlessly between slow, cosmic head spaces and spicy, driven beats. On the last song ("Circle of Suffering") Eye starts to get ethereal as though the band has expended the last of their mortality and now they're able to ascend into the night sky to spread their sound among the stars. And so just as they came, now they go, leaving us with an important lesson: if your eye comes out of body... you don't have to put it back in, 'cause this shit is awesome! -Brandon

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Lightpath - Children of The Void (2018)

A new plague of misery has broken out in the city of Ferrara, Italy in the form of a band called Lightpath! They're slowly blighting souls and corrupting minds using a crass kind of death/doom that's heavy on the raspy and nasty tones. They've dubbed their first release "Children of the Void" as a 'promo'. What's a promo? Is that a demo? An EP? Well it doesn't fucking matter because whatever it is rips! They've only got three songs on here, but each one hits like a riot echoing through the catacombs with subtle occult undertones. Strains of wrath writhe their way through the dark and narrow passages of the decrepit, doomy underground, but they take any available opportunity to burst out into a driven death metal fuming with sharp, rotten odors. Revolting terror will arise in some of the slowest passages eliciting a sense of hopelessness before you're mangled by musical storm that follows. A sense of gloom hangs overhead as it rolls through with grumbling patches and ominous thunder before breaking out into a chaotic, merciless buffeting. I love the drums on here as they seem to have a raw, tribal energy and some standout rhythms that hold the torch and lead the way as songs creep through the decaying darkness. Regardless, Lightpath take the harsh road all the way through this thing and that makes it all the better - definitely worth a listen or twelve! They've got me hooked and I'll be watching for what comes next! -Brandon

Friday, August 17, 2018

Foehammer - Second Sight (2018)

Here's an album that flew under my radar from earlier this year. Holy Shit this is an amazing album! Combining the right amounts of Sludge, Doom and Drone, "Second Sight" from Foehammer is a behemoth of an album. This shit is meant to be cranked at the fullest volume, so that the low and slow riffs can reverberate against your bones the way Doom Metal is meant to be played. Out of the four tracks, not one of them is under 7 minutes, so you definitely get enough time bask in its radiant misery. As toasty as these riffs might be, there's still this sense of dreariness that casts its shadow over every song. The music is fiery, but it is also very ugly in a gratifying way.
The fucking string section on this album is just monstrous. Like two looming pillars of nothing but Sludge and Fuzz. It's just a downpour of constant heaviness, and it's super fucking slow. Combined with the pummeling of the drums, and the death growls of the vocals, the impact is monumental. "Second Sight" is an agonizingly brutal release, that has crawled its way up in Sisyphean fashion, to the top of my best of the year list. I'm glad I didn't go throughout the whole year not listening to this album, because I would've been missing out on a truly great album. Highly Recommended! Cheers! -Samir

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Saltbuck - Cityslicker (2018)

Based on the cover for Saltbuck's latest release "Cityslicker" (I mean maybe even the title is a bit misleading), you might not know exactly what you're in for here. I'm not saying either are bad, but at first glance I would have guess this was strictly a Noise Rock affair. It's not totally untrue, but there is definitely some slow and sludgy Doom Metal goodness with a slight stoner twinge if you really want to get down to the core of what it is. The riffs are fucking massive, like a huge cloud of smoke suffocating the listener with its sinister grooves. It's almost like the plumes are a mix of weed smoke from a depository and the grey smog from a rundown industrial part of town. Saltbuck inhabits both of those worlds, mixing purple/green haze with the gloom of modern day dread.
 Like I mentioned, massive riffs, so the bass and the guitar have a really nice wall of fuzz that blends together really well. They're very thick, and definitely have a gooey center to them. The vocals are extremely grating in a Sludge Doom sort of way. No clean singing for sure! It's like a mix of the grit and the gravel of harsh urban landscapes with the hoarseness of smoking way too fucking long. The drummer is hard hitter, and I don't mean off of the bong. It really adds to the impact of all the pummeling riffs. I mean this shit is catchy. If you're looking for good heavy music to band your head to, this will get the job done for sure. It's not all straight forward either. It kind of gets weird (in a good way) in areas, but overall I dug it. High Recommended! Cheers! -Samir

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Talsur - Tormented (2018)

Last year I wrote a bit about Talsur, a one-man doom metal juggernaut out in Russia who has been self-releasing all kinds of dark and melancholic music that touches on a variety of doom subgenres, just letting the sounds of lament come forth in a torrent, flowing in whatever direction natural chaos takes it in. Now with a little help from Sofia Strazhkova on violin, Talsur has put out a new full-length album entitled "Tormented" - a gloriously sorrowful piece of melodic death/doom with plenty gothic inspiration in the vein of My Dying Bride. Guitar, bass, and drums groan and growl with some morose doom that even borders on the grim at points, while piano and violin phase in and out adding somber melodies and a classic, refined atmosphere to create a romantic funeral of sorts. Clean vocals clash beautifully with death growls to drag you through grief - even if you don't understand the source - and then slow, grand riffs moan with ill intent as they prey on your heightened emotions before ripping into brief flashes of broad, grizzly violence. Scattered throughout the album are pockets of haunting, ghostly sound during which the lament of a dozen lost lives seems to weigh on your soul and you're left paralyzed, able to do nothing but let the pain wash over you, be it smooth or scathing. The intensity only ramps up as the album goes on, eventually swelling to an epic and anguished end. This is the sound of contemplation as you stand motionless in the graveyard - surrounded by beautiful stone monuments that herald eternity - ready to hurl yourself into your own tomb! Tormented is a record that was made for those bewitched by pain and sorrow - but if you aren't there yet, you will be after you hear this! -Brandon

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Kingnomad - The Great Nothing (2018)

Each time Kingnomad appears, it seems like they're stepping out of an otherworldly fog as enigmatic travelers presenting music created from a place just beyond the outskirts of our conscious minds, and the delivery of their second full-length "The Great Nothing" is no exception. Now however the Swedish band is bringing an extra dose of cosmic and creepy vibes and kicking some more doom rock into their heavy psych formula - and I love it! From the opening group vocal harmonies on "The Yoga of Desolation" you'll get a glimpse into their eerie leanings before they bring things back with a brighter prog rock spirit on "Cosmic Serpent", and from there effortlessly snaking around styles but always conjuring evocative melodies that seem to resonate just beneath your skin. Between their dark/light dichotomy and chilling organ tones Kingnomad almost brings out an spooky rock 'n' roll boogie, but they tend to go wandering off into more exploratory head space before letting you get too comfortable in any one spot. It definitely hits some epic moments and with the acoustic guitars and the magic in the keys you'll hear sparks of Uriah Heep and other sorcerous 70s sounds dancing around the stern and steely-eyed rock grooves. The last track seems to go off in a dozen different directions over the course of 20 minutes, but it all twists around and melts back together at the origin point through the power of occult mysticism. There's no doubt The Great Nothing is an absolutely awesome record so let Kingnomad take you into the swirling void and show you all its unearthly splendor! -Brandon

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Skincarver - Shades of A Shallow Grave (2018)

Combining Sludge grooves with Grindy Metallic Hardcore, Skincarver pummels the senses, while eviscerating your body with their new release "Shades of A Shallow Grave". It's not full on Grindcore and its not full on Sludgecore either, but it meets somewhere in the middle where riffs are delivered with a severe crunch or unload like a thick pungent ooze. It has the characteristics of a crocodile swimming in the sewers. Surrounded by refuse and slime the hulking beast slowly waits to feed and when it does it goes into a frenzy sloshing the gross sewer water around painting the tunnels with shit and rat guts.
 I'm really digging the bass sound on this. It's not super detuned or anything but it adds that extra heftiness in there, that creates a good balance of Sludge and Hardcore grit. It has a prominent place in the mix as well, and is not so overly distorted that it's nothing but low end noise, which I like. It also pairs well with the guitar parts which already have kind of a disgusting swampy low end, which I mean in the best way possible. I always dig a really good versatile extreme metal drummer, and you definitely get that on this release. They aren't pigeonholed to strictly slow Sludgy stuff, and you get a nice variety of double kicks and blasts. Similar with the vocals. No clean singing of course, which I prefer, but nothing that is purely just death grunts. Anyway, every time I listen to it I wish it was a little longer because I have been enjoying it that much. Hopefully I won't have to wait another two years for a follow up to this one. Good shit! Highly Recommended! Cheers! -Samir

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Grave Disgrace - Sabbatharium (2018)

Goddamn, I don't know how such a killer band slipped under my radar for so long, but Grave Disgrace are here to rip open some caskets and terrorize the world with their third full-length album "Sabbatharium". This is the good shit with unholy stoner-doom so heavy that it'll drag you to hell, played nice and low with deep, powerful riffs coming at you from now until you die and then beyond! It's chock full of fuzzy wobbling bass, deadpan moaning vocals, and the stale rank stench of death unearthed from a Transylvanian graveyard in every single note. More than anything else, these guys are masters of ultra-evil, psych-tinged blues with guitar leads that make Robert Johnson's legendary trip to sell his soul at the crossroads seem like a picnic with the church choir. The massive sound, the hulking pace, and deliciously messy layering makes every track feel like a dark and joyous fever dream torn from the mind of something undead. It's a macabre vein of slow and profane doom that reminds me of all of the things that made me fall in love with this wicked genre of music in the first place - and then it builds on it! Sabbatharium is the sound of a curse that you don't want lifted, instead choosing to offer yourself up to the darkness and wallow among the damned. I don't know how to turn the volume down on this one - it's loud, lumbering, depraved and I don't want it to stop! -Brandon

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Howling Eye - Sonorous (2018)

Last year The Howling Eye helped us wander through the galaxy and see both dark and beautiful things lurking among the stars with their debut EP "Dying Sun". Now the Polish cosmonauts are ready to take us on another journey through the fringes of space with their new album "Sonorous". Twisting off in even more wild and dazzling directions than before, Sonorous showcases a variety of tunes spanning psychedelic stoner, pensive post-metal, bright and hazy doom, and more. The album kicks off with "Kairos" whose first half bangs out a tantalizing stoner jam before cosmic radiation turns it into the kind of funk that you just can't fake! Afterwards "Stranded" comes blasting out the gates heavy and hard before losing steam and setting you to drift aimlessly among quiet trippy tones. Out there you can start to explore some moody post-metal styles on "Reflections" before crashing into "The Potion" which returns to some more terrestrial sounding stoner-doom with another chunk of funk and even a dash of surf rock thrown in. It closes on the 16-minute "Weedblazer" which burns through stoner rock territory with a wicked groove, then goes dipping into the darkness before ending in a smoky, forlorn corner of the universe. Compared to last year's fuzzed up Dying Sun, Sonorous strays much further from its stoner-doom source to offer a more vivid, varied, and far-reaching tour of the stars - and that ain't a bad thing! Just turn the volume up and let The Howling Eye take you space trucking in whatever direction they want to take you! -Brandon

Friday, August 3, 2018

ИЛ (IL) - Нечисть (Nechist/Undead) (2017)

So here's another great one from 2017 I missed and I want to specifically call out Rob Hammer for posting this on his YouTube channel. If you do not follow it, you should, because a lot of the shit that I personally post about ends up being on his channel. So if you enjoy the bands I post about and don't already subscribe, do it! Anyway, so here's the band ИЛ which according to Russian to English translators is IL. The name of the album is "Нечисть" and the translation for that came out to be "Scum" while Rob states in his YouTube video for the album, that the translation is "Nechist" which is an evil spirit. The reason I'm explaining this is because I think both translations fit with how I would describe this album (***Update I'm being told it means Undead and not Scum***). It has a real thick and equally filthy Sludge Doom sound to it, but it also has this evil foreboding presence to it, which you can definitely gather from looking at the cover art as well. The book matches the cover for this one!
This album feels like it was birthed in a swamp, and features some punishing riffs that are heavy as fuck. The overall mix is excellent especially for the sound they are going for. The guitars are thick like fog penetrating haunted forest.  The vocals are wretched and miserable enough to feel right at home with these gloomy ass tunes. The drums are what you'd expect, but at the same time he does do some blasts that harken back to their blackened roots. There's a whiff of psychedelic influence that is noticeable, albeit masked by the noxious fumes of the dank riffage. However, the contrast between light and dark is barely noticeable, as its passage of time is quite limited. With that being said, I really did enjoy this one. I would say it's a contender for being one of my favorites of the year, but it's actually from last year, so it's kind of disqualified from that. Oh well, highly recommended either way. Cheers! -Samir

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Saint Karloff - All Heed The Black God (2018)

You can typically find them lurking in the shadows on cloudy nights when the thunder starts to rumble and something unnatural is building in the air, but now the fiendish rogues of Saint Karloff have entered the waking world to twist souls and contort minds with their debut album "All Heed the Black God". This record is a dizzying concoction made up of stoner rock, psych-doom, and a touch of dusty occult magic dumped into an old wine barrel and stirred with Uncle Acid and Black Sabbath in mind. Saint Karloff groan with all the strange, wicked sounds of the night no matter whether they're hitting some mid-paced jangling tunes with a groove ("Ghost Smoker", "Dark Sun") or fast, driven, dire songs blasting wild-eyed through the darkness ("Space Junkie", "Radioactive Tomb"). The sound seems to induce a paralyzing panic where you break out into a cold sweat as your brain is crawling and seething, desperate to flee from some unseen force, but you're physically transfixed and your body craves more music. There's a vaguely ghostly presence about it as though it hits just the right frequencies to shake one or two nearby spirits loose and sets them free to fly about as the songs play - but not enough ghosts to slow the rocking energies that the band brings! It's just plain awesome heavy rock music brought to you from the dark side - check it out! -Brandon

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Lowen - A Crypt in the Stars (2018)

It is a thin veil that separates us from oblivion, but a new band has formed in London that seems to walk the line. Conjuring an otherworldly kind of doom metal Lowen harnesses the power of the void to create their haunting and heavy debut album "A Crypt in the Stars". The band mashes up ancient Mesopotamian history and mythos with cosmic influences and sound resulting in monolithic tunes with their own gravitational pull. Music will progressively shift between tense, contemplative passages that are perfect for thoughtful stargazing and dark, heavy riffs that will get your head banging. Layered on top are captivating ethereal vocals that seem to travel beyond this world and into the next with chilling incantations on themes of gods and battle. The album opens on a Middle Eastern inspired chant that seems to echo across a desolate landscape and into the recesses of your soul until guitar feedback signals the incoming heavy metal dominion and summons a raspy backdrop to contrast with the beautiful yet ominous vocalizations. As that trend continues through each song it leaves you floating in a sense of all-consuming mysticism as though timeless magicks are weaving their way through the ether to command fate. The final track "In Perpetual Bloom" starts with slow and trepidatious doom as arcane power mounts with each passing minute until it reaches an explosive climax and the sound unfurls to be scattered in the vast emptiness of space. A Crypt in the Stars is absolutely enthralling - once you turn it on you won't want to turn it off! -Brandon