Friday, December 29, 2017

Slund- The Call of Agony/Brain Dysfunction (2017)

Not really sure why I didn't bother listening to this one earlier and giving it a review, but I have now after a long break of not writing, and I'm here to write about not one, but two Slund releases in one year! Slund are rooted in Sludge's hardcore influence, which they play to maximum effect throughout this release. There's an element of Grindcore involved as well, and that is definitely a shared result of them relishing in hardcore's influence on Sludge Doom. Imagine Eyehategod or even the Melvins in their Early Hardcore/Sludge years, and just making that even more intense, elimiating any sort of Sabbath influence, and adding nothing but hatred and misanthropic bleakness bathed in overdrive distorted feedback. Pacing between crawling cataclysms, midpace marches and punk beat melees,this is what you get with Slund, but even heavier. It's so fucking heavy and detuned. Plus there's nothing fuzzy or furry about their sound either. The strings (not sure the combination, all guitar, all bass, or both?) sounds like someone was feeding whale blubber to an old hand crank meat grinder and letting the rusty blades slowly chew away at the meat. I definitely regret not getting to this release sooner, and if you haven't listened to either, you should probably give this a listen. Did I fail to mention this is all a one man band? Fucking amazing!

Blistering blasts, detuned nasty sewage sounding riffs, and thick beefy bass heavy grooves; here's Slund's second release of the year! Continuing the onslaught of Grind/Sludge devastation, "Brain Dysfunction" sways back and forth between frantic mayhem and Doom Laden head bobbing riffage. It's the perfect blend of depraved madness, that combines the best elements of extreme music, making a melange of vile sounding pandemonium. This release is definitely more of companion piece to "The Call Of Agony". While both releases seem to walk the line between Grind and Sludge, this release definitely leans more to the Grindy side of things, whereas "Agony" had more straight forward Sludge. Doesn't matter though, because this shit rules! The strings are ultra fucking heavy, I have no fucking idea what this dude is tuned to. All I know is that when the slower sludgy parts come in, it sounds almost like a fucking bass. I mean it might as well be one. The vocals provide a constant stream of response like quips and remarks, spewing forth vicious ear piercing/world shattering screams. The drums on this are pretty mechanical and machine like in its precision, but there's no complaints here on my end. This shit is over and done with pretty quickly though, so prepare for repeated listens. In true Grindcore fashion the songs are very short, with the longest being a little more than two minutes, and the shortest being only a couple of seconds. This is incredible feat considering all of the memorable riffs packed into this monstrous sounding release. Highly recommended for sure! With two releases this year, I'm wondering if we'll see even more from Slund in 2018, considering the pace this dude is working at, churning out slabs of Sludge infused Grind. There needs to be more bands out there doing this kinda shit! Cheers! -Samir

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Matalobos - Until Time has Lost All Meaning (2017)

Under the cover of darkness Matalobos descends upon the world to bring a touch of misery into people's hearts. "Until Time has Lost All Meaning" is their latest release and it feels like a ghost coming in the night. It casts a cold shadow over your soul with melodic death/doom that balances somber, serene themes with the harsh and heavy. The first track "Of Ghosts And Yearning" starts with a gorgeous acoustic guitar passage before the band plunges into heart-wrenching sorrow played nice and slow. The vocalist roars with deep, bitter shouts and it feels like you're being ripped from reality and sucked into the black vacuum of the void, as though his voice is a tunnel straight to the abyss. But even through the grim, abrasive cries the band maintains strong melancholic melodies to create an anguished kind of harmony. The next song "In Flesh Engraved" sees more death-inspired mayhem at the outset but as the song progresses it becomes more refined and woeful. There's less fear of falling into the void here and more fear of falling into the dark thoughts in your own mind. "La Luz Del Día Muere" (translated to The Light of the Day Dies) is the final piece, a quiet instrumental that accurately captures some of the painful notes of the day's end with jazzy/bluesy inflections - not what you'd expect with death/doom, but it works. The three tracks here make for an awesome EP that's just dripping with agony. In terms of style, I wouldn't put it in the same bucket as Paradise Lost/My Dying Bride gothic stuff, but I would bet this is going to appeal to the same crowd. Definitely a cool sound so let the beauty and sorrow engulf you! -Brandon

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Kurse - Tales of The Wizard (2017)

Swaying between 70s-tinged cosmic haze and fuzzy, foggy stoner rock is Kurse, a trio out of Montreal. They've taken it upon themselves to chronicle the adventures of a mighty mage with their debut EP "Tales of the Wizard". I don't know which of the wizard's tales the cover art is supposed to represent, but it's amazing. I dug through all of the lyrics and while they're filled with mysticism and ritual, none mention an encounter with giant deer, face stripped of flesh with a tentacles writhing around. Or maybe it's a regular-sized faceless tentacled deer and the wizard is just really tiny? In any case, Kurse is a band that can conjure many tones and as the EP unfolds they'll take you through the cosmos with psychedelic swirls, into ancient chambers with gently echoing chants, burning through the desert with motorized, grungy stoner rock and more. Not only do these songs caress the misty mountain tops with placid guitar stylings but they also tear through death's valleys with some heavy headbanging moments. It sounds like this wizard got into some awesome shit and I really like the way Kurse recounts his righteous deeds! -Brandon

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Atomic Bitchwax - Force Field (2017)

If you don't know The Atomic Bitchwax at this point, you've got about 25 years of stoner rock history to catch up on. They've just released their seventh studio album "Force Field" and it's a good example of why you shouldn't make your 'Best Albums of the Year' lists in November! It kicks off at full-throttle and it's got enough fuel to run like a madman all the way to the end - FUCK slowing down! Force Field is non-stop, high-energy rock 'n' roll strapped to a rocket ripping through the sky at a speed that will make the skin will peel off your face. The songs are short - most are under three minutes - and they usually whip by so fast that you don't get a chance to appreciate the subtle spacey vibes that they've got. But when you do manage to get a taste the flavor explodes in your mouth and will have your eyes bugging out as you come to a more conscious understanding of why you're digging this so much. Then when they throw in a touch of organ right at the end and you get a little glimpse of Deep Purple all groovy and fast, I'm down for the count. Catchy, fun, fast-paced stoner rock - when you're looking for a good time, what more could you ask for? If you need something to put some fire in your belly and drive you screaming through the night, this is it! -Brandon

Friday, December 22, 2017

Serpents Eve - MMXVII (2017)

Serpents Eve from Northern Ireland are rising from the abyss to swing the mighty hammer of doom and lay waste to all who stand before them with their second release "MMXVII". It features four tracks of epic doom instrumentals inspired by the likes of Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass and even without vocals it conjures a dark and powerful grandeur. Like a cartload of lead this is heavy as fuck with colossal rhythms that pull you into the band's menacing dominion. In lieu of a singer the guitar steps in and cries out with majestic melodies of power and sorrow. MMXVII clocks in at just under 20 minutes, but it feels a lot bigger than that. It's got the weight of a leviathan rising up out of the ocean and wreaking havoc upon a coastal city. I can practically hear it now - the guitar like a siren wailing out warnings of incoming danger, people crying out for their families, but you can tell from the anguished tone that it's too late. With dramatic pauses and all the beast is tearing through buildings creating mountains of mangled steel and rebar as countless souls perish beneath it. It's a terrible tragedy that I just made up, but it would be a REAL tragedy if you didn't check this out! -Brandon

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Weird Tales - Shiny Void EP (2017)

They've returned once more, drawing upon the strange and obscure to create something bleak - Weird Tales is back with their second EP "Shiny Void" and it delivers three tracks of desolate doom metal that might be even better than their last set. The band's first EP came out earlier this year and it hung low with a gloomy, detached apathy but on this one they've managed to muster up just a touch of energy in order to drive their dreary sound further than before. These songs are slow, lonesome trips through the abyss with a faint psychedelic vapor that passes straight through you and leaves you feeling hollow. Between the phaser effects and the somber echo of the vocals it's as though you're traveling through an empty world, resigned to your hopelessness. Then every once in a while the weight of the void becomes too much as something within you cracks - the song pace and the psychedelics pick up and it's like a piece of your mind crawls out of your head and manifests in a shape beyond your comprehension. But as soon as you understand what you're seeing it disappears and the solitude feels fresh again. Wandering through these wastelands is a melancholic experience, but these tunes are good enough to keep you coming back. It's great hearing more from these guys; I'm looking forward to the next one! -Brandon

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Dead-End Alley Band - Storms (2017)

So this album has been out for a few months now but with a North American CD release just days away and vinyl coming out of Europe next month this feels like a gift that keeps on giving! Storms is the third studio album from Peruvian mystics The Dead-End Alley Band and it summons doomy psychedelic rock straight to your speakers in order to swamp your ears with heavy hazy tunes and fill your head with sticky smoke. The first track "Red Woman" stands as the gatekeeper swirling with doom and darkness and leaves you with the sensation that a phantom is watching you as it weaves its way through an unnatural fog. But as you move deeper into the album each track gets warmer and more wild as the eerie tone starts to dissipate and the band divulges into fuzzy jams. I can't decide what I love more - the haunting organ that will both chill your soul and evoke the acid-inspired spirit of the late 60s or the buzzing guitar which is equally vintage with constant uncontrollable licks and leads bursting all over the place. Doesn't matter in the end though - everything comes together to make a single miasma brimming with murky rock 'n' roll. Breathe it in deep, recommended for sure! -Brandon

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Oakbreaker - S/T (2017)

Groovy southern-style sludge coming out of Germany - Oakbreaker is throwing down some heavy shit whether you're on board or not! On the cover of their self-titled debut is a man wielding an axe in the dark near a cracked and broken tree. This captures the essential elements of what you're going to hear - powerful rhythmic chopping that will leave you wading through a flurry of splintered debris. But down underneath the sludge-heavy axe swings are some down-home bluesy foundations that keep twisting their way through the tunes. Scatter in some hardcore touches to give it a mean edge and just drop of doom that bubbles up in spots and you've got one nasty batch of songs ready to take you down. Even though the band is a whole continent away, Oakbreaker has a certain NOLA charm and would fit right in with the scene. It all rolls up into a good package and listening to it makes my neck sore imagining how hard you could bang your head - this one's worth a listen! -Brandon

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Angus Black - S/T (2017)

Fuzzed up and stalking the streets of Finland is Angus Black - a trio of devilish rogues playing stoner doom with psychedelic and occult touches. Earlier this year they introduced themselves to the world with their first release, a live EP titled "Live from the cellar". Now they've committed their tunes to a full-length self-titled studio album and it's ready to cast a shadow on your mind and fill your head with gloom. Angus Black have a definite Uncle Acid feel - the vocals, guitar tone, and general occult vibe all contribute to that - but instead of delving into 70s rock influences the band has doubled down on the stoner doom sound. It's got a long streak of melancholy running through it but the songs are still played with a kind of upbeat swagger so it creates a heavy, downtrodden rock 'n' roll that still feels driven. But for me, the track that stands out the most here is one of the slowest and most dejected: "I'm Yours". It's a 12 minute tale of lament and submission that manages to express this detached passion like a lost soul was flayed and laid bare before your eyes. Angus Black has the good stuff so make sure you're listening! -Brandon

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dumblegore - Misanthropic Ritual (2017)

There is a dungeon somewhere in the city of Vitória da Conquista, Brazil where the duo known as Dumblegore lurks. From within their murky lair they conjure sounds both dark and dense and they've recently compiled their wicked tunes into an album titled "Misanthropic Ritual". This is thick, musky doom featuring vague hints of gothic rock and fronted by vocals with a black metal rasp - when it all comes together it creates an atmosphere like a disfigured Transylvanian horror. There are plenty of heavy riffs stomping through the decrepit stone corridors of Dumblegore's domain but the synth is just as much of a powerhouse here, taking on a ton of different roles. Whether it's bellowing like a massive blasting organ, providing gentle, eerie touches, or carrying a haunting melody meant to make your hair stand on end the synth manages to stand out as soon as it creeps into the picture. Even with all the terrifying tones and ghastly atmosphere, Misanthropic Ritual is still catchy at points with songs like "There's Nothing Left To Feel" and "Mr. Correct (Hate Everyone)". Mix in a couple of covers from GG Allin and Weedeater just for fun and this becomes a trip to the crypt you don't want to miss! -Brandon

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Wiccans - Bad Habit (2017)

Holy FUCK do I love this. With a pentagram etched into the dirt Wiccans rise out of the city of Detroit with their new album "Bad Habit" - 8 tracks of earthy, occult stoner doom that will ensnare your soul and put you under a powerful spell. The guys and gals in Wiccans have definitely captured some kind of magic and whether it's a "bad habit" or not, it's all I want to hear right now. At its base Bat Habit has got some highly addictive stoner doom riffs that get stuck in your head almost immediately and a matching rhythm that practically forces you to move to its dreary dirge. But then it's loaded up with all kinds of extra instrumentation like chimes, hand drums, and tons of flute to give the album a natural feel. The band is fronted by dual female vocalists who sing simultaneously with tales magic, witches, demons, and ancient ceremonies in a way that evokes a sense of ritual. The first track "Street Weed" starts with a didgeridoo before the dual lead vocals start to chant "O god with the horns come back!" to the beat of a drum and tambourine. Then it all falls into this trippy stoner doom riff that feels wicked and warm all at once with more chanted lyrics that run across the song before closing on wild effects and a flute solo. I'm already in love and that was just the opening! The riffs and pagan vocals just continue from there drawing you deeper all the time. There's a ton of occult stoner sounds filling these tracks, but you'll get glimpses into other worlds as well with some eastern-inspired hippie twang on "Magic Red Drops" and AC/DC-esque rock on "Lone Witch". As a bonus, you'll also be treated to a few "Little Gnome Facts" that have been scattered throughout the album, where a weird computer will teach you all the things you didn't know that you wanted to learn about gnomes! Not only is the music amazing, but this shit is educational too! Bad Habit is flat out awesome. It gives me a similar vibe to Blood Ceremony's self-titled release, with the riffs, female vocals, flute, the occult themes, and the way the music just grips me and won't let go. I can't recommend this one enough, so do yourself a favor and listen to it already! -Brandon

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Void Tripper - Volume I EP (2017)

Over the last few years it seems like some of my favorite new underground metal acts have come from South America - Mephistofeles (Argentina), The Evil (Brazil), Nightpröwler (Ecuador), and others come to mind. Now comes Void Tripper out of Brazil, a stoner/doom mud bomb bursting with their first demo/EP "Volume I". There's no question that this is Sabbath worship in the first degree but goddamn if they aren't nailing it! There's plenty of meat on the bone here with a nice chunky sound and some big ass bass rumbling with an infectious groove that'll get heads bobbing and bodies swaying. It has some psychedelic leanings as the guitar goes wild with wah and the tracks inspire images of a slow spiral through the cosmos. But scattered throughout are touches of sludge (especially in the vocal style) that creep in to beef up the tunes, introducing a little rage and spicy flavor into the traditional Sabbath-inspired mix. Yeah, there's a lot of bands riding the Black Sabbath train lately, but these guys really pull it off - here's hoping for more! -Brandon

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Arbor Ira - Weltenfresser (2017)

According to the Metal Archives "Arbor Ira" is Latin for "Wrath of Trees" and their songs are about nature striking back! ... But a lot of the lyrics are in German, so I can neither confirm nor deny that. What I can say is that the band's latest album "Weltenfresser" (or "world eaters" in English) is a phenomenal force of Peaceville-inspired gothic death/doom, no matter what language you speak! This album definitely has a My Dying Bride thing going on with songs that groan in a sorrowful tone then burst out loud and low all while being backed by a small, dedicated string section to give things a dramatic flair. The first track "Des Poeten Klage" will ease you into the sound by mixing doom with a driven thunder before the second track "Enslaved/Funeral Belt" explodes and exposes their full on death roots. Every track sounds like it's in mourning, but each goes in a different direction combining churning melancholy, gentle reflective passages, booming force, and miserable howling wrath in different amounts. As a whole it becomes a singular entity of heavy metal that swirls with agony and heartbreak - don't overlook this one! -Brandon

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Possessor - The Ripper (2017) Review + Interview

It's only been a year since Possessor had released "Dead by Dawn", but here they are again with "The Ripper", a full albums worth of raucous heavy anthems that are sure to wake the fucking dead. Possessor aren't afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves, and in their case it's a battle jacket filled with all sorts of patches. Everything from Doom, to Classic Rock, to Early British Heavy Metal, and even some Grunge, Punk and Thrash as well. It's hard to pin down exactly what metal sub genre it is Possessor is playing, because they defy any sort of label. These dudes dine at the grand buffet of heavy metal delights, each member picking and grabbing from different plates and platters old favorites and modern crowd pleasers. All this and I haven't even mentioned the horror influence which is a big part of their image and sound. Through their rough and tumble exterior is a sinister shadow of terror lurking beneath the windows at night. It's the kind of music that gets all the creepy crawlers and night prowlers hyped on a Saturday night. It's heavy duty rock n roll for the living undead. With it's chugging guitars, blazing steed drums, and infectious growls, "The Ripper" is a catchy as fuck record, that like title suggests, fucking rips as well!

So here's the interview I did with the band. Cool fucking dudes!

Super Dank Metal Jams: What were you listening to when you were writing these songs? Do you feel like what you were listening to had any influence, or did you draw upon other sources of influence to help create?
GRAHAM: There are always a lot of different forms of inspiration when it comes to making albums but with us it’s normally films, music and the outdoors… and beer. Ha. I’ve been listening to Darkthrone and Cannibal Corpse way too much, as well as L7, High on Fire, Acid Bath, Unsane, Kvelertak and too much else to mention. I get a lot of my inspiration from mates and liked minded folk who make music around me. I love seeing friends being creative.
BEAN: As with every Possessor release, the creative element is almost exclusively Graham's input. My role is to take what he brings and inject a certain energy to it. My influence in that regard came less from specific songs or albums and more from wanting to put a completely live feel behind the music. I watch a lot of live bands. It's an environment I feel very happy in and that's got a lot to do with the exchange of energy from the band to the audience and back again. My aim is for people to experience a Possessor album in the same way they would if we were set up and playing it in front of them. I felt quite strongly that The Ripper should be recorded live, with no click tracks or multiple takes. It's very similar to Dead by Dawn in that the basic rhythm tracks really came from the first takes with minimal editing. We kept the process moving quickly and just slammed it out! Conjure and Possess was finished barely a week before we took it into the studio which I think helped it to sound fresh. Also, a lot of extra vocals and stuff that we overdubbed ultimately just got taken off again. We wanted the whole album to sound as “no frills” as possible.

SDMJ: What was your writing process for this album, and how was it similar/different than past albums?
GRAHAM - This album was the first one we did without me producing. I think we wanted to take more of a backseat and just play without the mixing, mastering to worry about etc… and it worked wonders I think. A lot of the songs on The Ripper were half written ideas from last year and I’ve spent this year piecing them together to make one cohesive record. As with Dead by Dawn everything on this album was done as a two piece, but with our buddy Sam Thredder (Slabdragger) at the controls. I think the bottom line was we never wanted to do anything but our very best and in order to do that we needed to get a producer in who would just be cool as fuck and let us just play in a great environment. In this case, his Mums attic! Ha. We are also very keen on catching the feel and energy of the band and not spend days doing overdubs and take after take. The way we see it is get in there and play it. If you spend too long it usually ends up sounding really unnatural.
BEAN: By the time I hear the songs they've already been shaped into fairly detailed demos. Graham has a clear idea of how all of the parts fit together. This includes a general feel of the drum parts which he programs into a machine along with all the guitars and passes on to me. The great thing is he seems to think about drums in a very similar way to how I play, so it feels like a very natural process to pick up what is presented and develop it from there. Any changes are minimal. I’ll just add my own flavor based on the feel of those demos. Next, we just take it into a rehearsal space and play it all until it feels completely natural. For me it’s all about getting an atmosphere down on tape rather than specific drum parts. To be honest, beyond the established structure, I’ll rarely play a Possessor tune in the same way twice.

SDMJ: What was the recording process for The Ripper, and how did it compare to other albums? BEAN: The main difference between this and our other albums is just that we tracked it at the Cro’s Nest with Sam Thredder from Slabdragger at the desk. It’s the first time we’ve used a studio to capture the songs and brought in some outside support. For comparison, Dead by Dawn was essentially a DIY project for which we used our own equipment (multitrackers, etc). For that we recorded the drums at our rehearsal space and everything else was tracked at Graham’s home. That’s the only real difference though. Our approach for The Ripper was largely the same. Rehearse the songs and record them quickly. The recording process was over and done with in just two, sweaty days.

SDMJ: Is it a concentrated effort to mix metal sub genres such thrash, doom, sludge, and Old School British Heavy Metal, or would you say that's something that comes naturally?
GRAHAM: I’m not a fan of pigeonholing. I have never understood why a band would ever want to categorize themselves with a simple word. I think it worked wonders in the eighties as it was cool to be part of a new scene. Nowadays, a lot of metal subgenres are over-saturated and in danger of becoming stagnant. Sure, we combine elements of thrash, sludge, black metal and just plain heavy metal but it’s just how we play as we like so much different stuff. There is never a plan. I always liked the idea of playing thrash slowly or doom quickly just to see what sticks. There are enough bands doing witchy stuff with Black Sabbath, copy/paste, weed inspired band names, we just want to fucking rock and have a good time with it. Why limit yourself to one tempo and style? I’ve never got that. Explore your possibilities.
BEAN: Yes, I'll say it comes completely naturally. As far as I am concerned, all of the sub genres you mentioned just come under the wider banner of Heavy Metal. We just wanted to make a great Heavy Metal album and have people bang their heads. I will say that we talked a lot about the NWOBHM scene throughout the rehearsals during the run up to the recording. I think it's fair to say, if anything, we wanted to infuse the vibe of that era into these songs. Stale booze, moonlit alleys, denim, leather and chains! Iron Maiden’s Killers was the most tangible frame of reference. We wanted the album to sound like an early Derek Riggs illustration.

SDMJ: Name some horror movies or books you would say made a big impact on you, and can be found creeping around in your works?
GRAHAM: The classics always remain the big pull for me, although there have been some damn scary films of late. That recent Blair Witch was really good! Ava's Possessions and The Babysitter were also both very enjoyable if dreadfully forgettable. I’m fussy with horror these days, ha, I loathe any torture crap or centipede nonsense as lazy shock value is just tired. I like atmosphere and terror. Lyrically there are many nods to vampires on this album, such as Lost Boys, Near Dark and Christopher Lee in his most famous role. The mother of all films, Texas Chainsaw Massacre remains a very big deal to us in every aspect. You either get that or you don’t. Ha. This album features some little snippets from Motel Hell, Devils Rejects (which is not a masterpiece) and weirdly enough Charles Manson, who died two days before the record came out…? Reckon that might make us the last band to ever sample him!
BEAN: I think metal music, horror movies and books will always go hand in hand. Both represent an extreme point of view and they deal with darker themes. Seems like a no-brainer to merge these things together and use them to create something edgy and exciting. I saw a great little film a few days ago called, The Eyes of My Mother. Beautifully shot and full of tension. A worthy addition to the genre and recommended! As for how this all has influenced The Ripper; we've dedicated this set of songs to Tobe Hooper (RIP) and for reason’s Graham has already mentioned, you’ll hear references to Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the lyrics. Fans of Night of the Living Dead will spot samples taken from that film and you can probably pick out song themes influenced by another of our favourites; Troll Hunter. Possessor albums are created to be enjoyed in a similar way to those films. Cool, fun, scary and best enjoyed with beer.

SDMJ: The Ripper to me seems heavier and more aggressive to me than Dead by Dawn. Do you look back on your previous works and use it as a point of reference for writing for the next album? GRAHAM: Besides the obvious nods to Jack the Ripper, the album for me was always meant to sound like it was set in the streets of the East End in the 1980s. As Bean says, the ‘Killers’ Maiden album was a quite a big inspiration. Remember the days of Mary fucking Whitehouse and the video nasties? That and sweaty queues to see Saxon at the Marquee. I do feel like we are certainly honing a sound now and it just seems like the done thing to get louder, heavier and nastier. My love for death and thrash metal have simply overpowered my riffs on this album. Plus my new amp! That’s pushed us into a crunchier territory. I’ve also been pinching solo ideas from Kai Hansen and Pat O’Brien, like I’ll ever be able to play guitar that good! Ha. We never really look back to be honest. I’ve maybe listened to ‘Electric Hell’ (first album) twice since it came out. I never enjoy listening to our older stuff as I’m very much about the now and what we can currently do. Plus I always pick holes in stuff and notice what could have been done better. As I’m sure most musicians do. That’s not to say I’m not proud of our previous work as I am for sure.
BEAN: We definitely wanted to turn everything on this one up to eleven. We wanted it to feel like a progression from Dead by Dawn but without losing the things that made that a successful record. Sam Thredder (engineer) helped us to achieve a weight to these recordings that gives them an extra push in the heavy department. Graham has written some of his most brutal riffs, I usually just hit the drums as hard as I can and as I mentioned before, the spirit of 1981 was strong with us… We wanted The Ripper to play like the soundtrack to a dirty, backroom fight in a seedy pool club. There's a strong irony there because Graham and I are generally pretty peaceful guys!

SDMJ: Are you listening to anything right now that you think our readers would be into or should check out?
GRAHAM: Too much to mention! Ha. Today I would certainly recommend ‘1184’ by Windir as that is one of the most triumphant and exciting black metal albums I’ve ever heard. ‘Initium’ by Samhain, ‘Sister’ by In Solitude, ‘Headless Children’ by W.A.S.P, ‘The Conjuring’ by Wo Fat, ‘The Return of Martha Spatthead’ by The Accused, ‘Master of Brutality’ by Church of Misery, ‘Los Angeles’ by X and ‘Youth of America’ by Wipers (which is like mainlining excitement) have been on heavy rotation of late. Recently I think ‘Cult of The Void’ by Seer is really special and I’ve rediscovered Cathedral’s ‘Garden of Unearthly Delights’ lately, that’s a stomping fun album.
BEAN: I loved Power Trip's Nightmare Logic album and Medusa by Paradise Lost has rarely been off my turntable since it was released. Today I’ve been listening to Brumation by Dead Ranch and I’d give a heavy recommendation to all of the above. From the vaults, I always have a steady diet of Judas Priest going on so I’m pretty excited about their upcoming new release. I’d also kick myself if I didn’t implore your readers to go and check out Discharge’s Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing record.

SDMJ: Any plans for a tour or extensive gigging for the new album?
GRAHAM: We are in the process of getting together a fresh live line up for the New Year so we shall see what happens. The next month or three are going to be focused on tightening up the new line up and bedding the new songs into the live environment, but once that's done we are ready to possess. BEAN: The calendar is currently completely clear, there is nothing booked in but as Graham says, our intention is to return to the stage sounding heavier than ever. Watch this space!

SDMJ: Do you have a release date yet for the physical releases?
GRAHAM: Yes, the tape and CD are set for release on December 11th but it looks very likely that they will be available sooner! We don’t really have a set date for vinyl yet but early 2018 would be a safe bet. The tape is coming out via Graven Earth Records, which is run by Rachel Excarnate, the lady with the biggest tape collection in America.

SDMJ: Get anything good on Black Friday?
GRAHAM: A flu bug!
BEAN: Ha! Truth be told, I spent Black Friday kicking myself for buying a brand new TV last week… D’oh! -Samir

Pillars - Pyres and Gallows EP (2017)

Pillars is a doom-dealing quartet spreading evil from their hometown of Nice, France. Their debut EP "Pyres and Gallows" was originally released through Bandcamp last year, but it just got a cassette release so let's talk about it! This EP is a gathering in the darkness with a sacrifice placed on the altar of doom in order to summon up monstrous riffs and fuzz from beyond. For the most part, you'll hear a lot of traditional doom inspiration on this release as it stomps through the shadows and revels in a somber, mid-paced gloom, but the forceful rhythms and rough edge on the vocals provide an aggressive undertone. At one point that aggression blossoms into full-on violence on the track "Dirty Whoreshippers" when the beast waiting in the darkness seems to break free of its chains and escape to run through the night. The songs build a dreary atmosphere, but keep a sharp edge with a few discordant touches to ensure that you don't get too comfortable in their cultish dungeon. Check it out - you might be the next sacrifice if you don't! -Brandon

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sons of Geezora - S/T EP (2017)

Straight out of the underground to knock over some skyscrapers - Sons of Geezora are a group of guys in Québec combining their love for Black Sabbath and Japanese monsters into one glorious union of lo-fi psychedelic stoner-doom. They've unleashed their debut self-titled EP on an unsuspecting public, and now it's absent-mindedly toppling buildings all over town. With songs played through a haze of smoke and debris, it doesn't feel like an immediate, driven, malicious kind of danger - just like everything will be wrecked as a consequence of the fuzzed out jams roaming around. This one has a sort of red-eyed, listless groove as it lumbers through the city center, but it occasionally musters up a burst of energy for destruction on tracks like "King of the Sky" and "Sons of Geezora/Tokyo". The songs are loaded up with murky stoner riffs swinging through the fog, but when the guitar solos break out they're nice and bluesy just the way the forefathers intended. I really love the stripped-down, lo-fi tone this EP has going - it doesn't need any fancy production values, the music speaks for itself! Make sure you pay attention to this one before it brings a building down over your head! -Brandon

Monday, November 27, 2017

Luna - Swallow Me Leaden Sky (2017)

Can you feel it - that palpable sense of dread in the air? The inescapable thought that although everything seems okay on the surface, at any moment all of your fears could tear a hole through reality and bring your world crashing down? That's "Swallow Me Leaden Sky", the 3rd album from Luna out of Kiev, Ukraine. It's an instrumental release composed of two 20 minute epics that combine beautiful symphonic music with a painfully slow type of metal that sits somewhere between funeral doom and death/doom. The resulting sound evokes an ever-mounting terror and the fear that you may die at any moment - just the way good doom should! The first track "Everything Becomes Dust" starts with something that practically sounds like a cinematic soundtrack, simultaneously building up anticipation and melancholy. Then after about 5 minutes horror emerges with a grim organ that announces your fate. The song carries on long and somber, really lingering on the deep pangs of sorrow. Afterwards is the title track, which is sweet and delicate for about 30 seconds before low rumbling piano notes signal the return of the darkness. A short while later all of the heavy gloom is back in full force thundering harder than ever before. For me, this song conjures images of a massive, ornate mausoleum in which a hooded figure gently takes you by the hand and leads you to your eternal resting place as waves of panic and calm come and go. This album is bleak and was designed to make you uneasy but at the same time it's fascinating and alluring. It'll probably unearth some disturbing emotions as you listen, but don't let that stop you - you're going to want to hear it. -Brandon

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Spectral Voice - Eroded Corridors of Unbeing (2017)

There are few bands that convey simultaneous misery and hatred like Spectral Voice. They've put out several demos and splits already, but now the Denver act has put out their first full-length album, "Eroded Corridors of Unbeing" on Dark Descent Records. This is a death/doom album in possibly the most literal sense - fierce and gnarly death metal mashed up with bleak, foreboding doom, and neither side is pulling any punches. Songs groan out low and depraved, easily switching between a brutally murderous rancor and long, forlorn strains dying in the void. The first half of the album is dusted in a layer of noise that growls at you when the music dies down, but it clears up for the second half when the quiet moments are just as unsettling as the loud. Vocals howl out both deep and coarse seemingly from somewhere beyond perception. Even in its most vicious moments, the whole thing aches with inescapable gloom. When all of these elements are combined with the band's gargantuan sound, it makes you feel as though you're being swallowed whole by the gaping maw of the abyss, or perhaps coming face-to-face with some kind of world-ending cosmic entity the size of the solar system. This is high quality if you're hungry for death metal or doom metal and absolutely unmissable if you want both! -Brandon

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Electric Wizard - Wizard Bloody Wizard (2017)

So there's this tiny little band that you've probably never heard of before called Electric Wizard. They've recently released their 9th studio album "Wizard Bloody Wizard" and it seems like everyone and their brother has something to say about it... Including me! I guess the first thing to address are the scores of people frothing at the mouth screaming that this album sucks - it doesn't. This is solid stoner doom wallowing in the darkness with a little retro 70s influence (Sabbath stuff specifically). It has a much cleaner sound than any of their albums before, reining in their all-consuming reverberation for a more localized fuzz. Combine that with the direction of the second track "Necromania" or the fourth "The Reaper" and you'll realize that this album puts more focus on being occult rather than heavy. Does that make it bad? Not at all, there's plenty of music I love in that same niche. So there's a shift, but it's still Electric Wizard at its core with Jus Oborn's deadpan wails, far wandering guitar leads, and evil blues influence scattered throughout. If the fifth track "Wicked Caresses" was mixed and mastered differently it could fit in with the material on any of their albums from the last decade. If you're paying attention there's a ton of kick ass moments on the bass here - almost every song has something noteworthy. So what's with the hate? Well, it FEELS like a late career album. Like a lot of successful bands that have been around for a while (I think Motörhead and the Ramones also hit this point eventually), it sounds like Electric Wizard is comfortable with their legacy of amazing, genre-defining material and they aren't pushing themselves to top it. As a result Wizard Bloody Wizard is admittedly weak compared to the rest of their catalog, but it's a totally enjoyable album when taken on its own. Just listen to it without expectations of a new masterpiece and you're probably going to dig it. -Brandon


Monday, November 20, 2017

Neither God Nor Master - EP1 (2017)

Neither God Nor Master is a band snaking their way out of Brooklyn, New York bearing the weight of their debut, "EP1". This is a release that's way too short for the massive sound that it introduces, featuring only two songs of heavy, sinister stoner doom. Musically, it's molasses - thick and slow churning with a sound that you'll get caught in. Then once you're good and stuck, vocals reach out from beyond the veil of death, all arcane and reverberating, and run over everything like water that keeps the songs flowing. The first track "The Weedologue" feels like a cross between a funeral procession and a journey through the desert Dopesmoker-style. While on the trek, the song seems to draw out all of the ghosts that have been haunting your mind and lay them bare right before your eyes. But then it all dies suddenly on a Sweet Leaf inspired coughing fit before slinking into the next song, "Who Placates The Fire". This is a tune full of spine-tingling evil with riffs that slog through the darkness. The vocals here make you feel like you're slipping away like a grain of sand in an hourglass, eventually descending into the abyss. EP1 is awesome, but goddamn, two songs is not enough! I'm going to need EP 2, 3, 4, 5, and a full-length! -Brandon

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Forest of Legend - S/T (2017)

Judging by the band's name and their cover art, I wouldn’t of pegged Forrest of Legend as being Stoner Doom. At first glance you might suspect that they could be folk metal or some sort of Black Metal from the Pacific Northwest. Nope, Forrest of Legend are straight up Stoner Doom in the same vein as Sleep, early Cough, and Church of Misery. This shit is real toasty. They have a wall of fuzz that makes you want to kneel at the altar of Iommi and Pike and praise/thank them for paving the way for the many who try to replicate their sound. Forest of Legend is no exception. They may where their influences proudly on their sleeves, but they take their worshiping seriously, and always keep the sabbath unholy. The riffs are simple yet memorable and catchy. Plus the singer totally slays it with the vocals, adding a bit of gravel in his delivery of the melody. The leads on the album are pretty smoking too, and surprisingly enough they didn't remind of Pike or Iommi. While this might not be the most original album, nor does it push the envelope for Stoner Doom, it has its charm and you're likely to get hooked. Highly recommended! -Samir

L.o.W - Bones EP (2017)

Hailing from Szczecin, Poland, L.o.W (I have no fucking idea what it means), play filthy sounding Sludge Doom with a slight stoner vibe for the reefer fiends out there. Their sound is indeed low, as well as thick, fat and nasty. Sickening grooves and sinister riffs make "Bones" worth checking out. This is the type of sludge that's thick like molasses and fuzzy like a grizzly. The bass sound on this fucking rules. It has the right amount of distortion to where it just blends in with the fuzz of the guitar, but you can still feel its presence and you know it's there. The vocals go between your typical harsh screamed vocals commonly heard in Sludge, and Death Metal growls which gives the songs their monstrous if not demonic presence. This isn't heavy in a sort of chugging way, but the riffs move like tides of rot and refuse, as it swallows you whole, collapsing your body, and becoming one with the dirt, slime, muck, and of course sludge. That's the kind of heavy this is. It shifts in waves, and its grooves are quite infectious. Anyway, go check out "Bones". Minus the intro it's really only three songs, but this EP rules, and I'm anticipating more from these dudes. Cheers! -Samir

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sator - Ordeal (2017)

Genoa, Italy's Sator have clawed their way out of a black cloud of misery in order to unleash their second album, Ordeal. This one strikes with a hammer in both fists, delivering a harsh and heavy sludge/doom combo that's ready to ruin you. Every riff seems to be played through gritted teeth, pushing through pent up aggression but pounded out steadily and without mercy. These run over staggering rhythms that pull the sound together to make a savage groove. The album has a sort of a bare-knuckle bleakness to it. You'll hear songs that brood with anguish as they ring out slow and painful ("Sky Burial") but also tunes that thunder forward, threatening and driven ("Soulride"). A slight psychedelic influence also trickles in through the guitar leads - they're sorrowful, but dabble with the discordant and trippy. The music can be brutal, but listening to the vocals is like standing in a fiery whirlwind - it's a violent howling sound all around you that's fueled by an unquenchable fury. Feedback shrieks throughout the album too, filling the gaps and keeping you on edge. It ends in chants from a choir and a haze of whining amplifiers as though it's attempting to cling to life, but has simply expended itself. Ordeal is doomy, ferocious, and probably exactly what you need in your life so get it in your ears already! -Brandon

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Black Road - S/T EP (2017)

Earlier this year, I had the great fortune of catching Black Road in concert when they opened for Brimstone Coven. I hadn't heard of the band before I saw them that night, but I was immediately enamored with their rockin' doomy vibes. After their set, I wandered over to the merch table and was disappointed to learn that they didn't have any tunes. But today I am vindicated - Black Road's debut EP has arrived and like a witch's cauldron it's bubbling and smoking with all kinds of wicked goodness! This one stands at the crossroads of doom and bluesy rock with warm stoner fuzz churning underneath. It's fronted by spellbinding female vocals that seem to breathe an occult fire into each track. The songs roll at an easy pa itce with fluid riffs that keep each track swinging smooth and sinister the whole way - even through the awesome, blistering guitar solos. Waiting dead in the center of the EP are the companion pieces Morte and Morte (coda) - two eerie instrumentals that take departure from the other songs. Layers of keys and guitar are swimming in a strange darkness that creates a sound fit for a haunted mansion. In either style, this release is chock-full of shadowy magic, so give it a listen and let it cast its spell. -Brandon

Monday, November 13, 2017

Skaarv - S/T (2017)

There's a restless chimera that's on a rampage and they're calling it Skaarv - it's a real beast of an album put out by the Norwegian band of the same name. This is one big stew of heavy metal styles in which the band dumped in stoner, sludge, southern, and even groove to produce a flavorful combination of sound. Depending on which track you're listening to, you'll hear chunks of each genre in different amounts - sometimes you'll get a heavy dose of southern metal with some sludgy flair, other times it's stoner with a mid-tempo groove. But no matter what kind of earful you're getting at the moment, it's going to be backed by a heavy rhythm that will get you moving and overlaid with some solid riffing and guitar leads. The album has a few calm moments like on "Culling in the Mist" or the last track "Horizon" in order to showcase some cleaner guitar work, but aside from that it's a ton of hard hitting music meant to drive you. There's no shortage of grooves here - they're going to grab you and throw you around continuously until you forget who you are. This isn't the type of sound I'd expect to find out in Norway at all, but it doesn't matter - Skaarv is a melting pot of good shit, so dig in because you're going to find something you like! - Brandon

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Bloodmoon / Trapped Within Burning Machinery - Split EP (2017)

Here's one I've been meaning to get to for a while. This split with Bloodmoon and Trapped Within Burning Machinery is killer. It's only two songs, but nothing on here is less than 10 minutes. Bloodmoon (who features Peter Tomis from Disgusted Geist, another great Sludge band who we reviewed earlier this year) combine Doom and Sludge with Atmospheric and Gothic elements as well, creating something that is both monstrous yet haunting at the same time. "Nothing is Special, Nobody Cares", comes in swinging with a vengeance , but then unravels into a reflective moment of clarity. The band's more progressive tendencies emerge about halfway through, as the song gets a second breath, ending the song with an impressive finish that seems almost completely different than where they started, but still fucking awesome. Trapped Within Burning Machinery's contribution "Abysswalker" is a slow burn that starts off brooding, with a rumbling bass line, and spectral ambiance, before it unleashes a fiery flame, churning along with amassed hatred, in a repetitive and almost meditative fury. TWBM weave a Blackened Doom web, that's modern but more traditional than they let on in the beginning. Filthy vocals ravage beastly riffs as they lumber along in an abysmal state (much like the song title suggests). It's sorrowful and gloomy, and it paints a dark picture of a world covered in ash, grey skies, dead trees, and nothing human in sight. Both songs complement each other while both having something different to bring to this release, making it both devastating and unique. Spend 30 minutes in hell, with these dudes. You won't regret it. Cheers! -Samir

71TONMAN - Earthwreck (2017)

Listening to 71TONMAN is like getting hit with a 71 ton sledge hammer, or even being toppled and then buried with 71 tons of brick. These guys are fucking heavy, and their brand of primal concrete sludge does not disappoint. The riffs are devastatingly memorable and come swinging in like a wrecking ball, leaving destruction and ruin in its path. There is a thick layer of filth these tunes are slathered in as well. Everything from the strings to the sickening vocals are strewn with impure grime and nastiness. Each song is a like a rotten blackened dirge, oozing forth a scummy muck of sludge metal viciousness. Just like the band's bandcamp describes them, they are definitely "fat, low, and slow". I'm sold. Of course there are other adjectives to describe them. Bleak is definitely a word that comes to mind. Their album art and song titles paint a picture of a world drained of its color, and that's what you get here as well. It's cold and harsh, but this is where a lot of the good Sludge Doom comes from. A place that is grief stricken with zero hope for humanity. Like I said, I'm sold and I think you'll be too. Cheers! -Samir

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

R.I.P. - Street Reaper (2017)

Last year, Portland maniacs R.I.P. smashed down cemetery gates with their debut album "In The Wind". It was so nice, they had to release it twice - the first time on Totem Cat Records and then again on RidingEasy! Seeing no reason to slow down, the band revved their engines and now they're roaring through the graveyard with their second effort "Street Reaper". This album is simultaneously occult and motorized - it's drowning in all the darkness of early doom, humming with a sense of evil and dread, but then kicks in this dirty vigor that will get you ready to riot. It's fuzzed up, fueled by rock 'n' roll energy, and absolutely electric with songs of death and terror. The sound is practically shaking with a buzzing distortion and the vocals wail madly - it demands to be played loud. The guys in R.I.P. call their style street doom. Musically it really seems to go back to the primitive roots of doom metal and re-invent the wheel from there, injecting some nasty attitude along the way. Listening to this shit feels like cruising a rocky road paved with human bone - and I want to ride it to the end, baby!

Ember - 271 EP (2017)

Ember from Birmingham, Alabama are back to set your mind adrift with their second EP, "271". Featuring three tracks of slow, ethereal doom, the new release makes you feel as though you're floating through a gloomy dreamscape. While the band's first EP had a sludgy crunch to it, the songs here are much smoother, featuring some serene shoegazing twang that will send you into a swirling ether. This sound bleeds into a churning, dynamic doom that shifts seamlessly between a quiet simmer and a thick lumbering creep, carefully morphing from one state to another. Don't let the dreamy tones deceive you - the music has a hefty undercurrent ready to drag you down anytime it slips into a heavy rhythm. At the center of all of this are the hypnotic female vocals that run through each track like a spectral river. They come in gentle and airy, soothing your soul, but then surge with a consummate power. The resulting music is a unique and masterfully executed. When you hear this album, it's as though you're drifting among black clouds, tranquil until the winds swell and the skies groan. -Brandon

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Black Sound - Argestonia (2017)

I kinda feel like once Halloween comes and goes, the next couple months go by in a blur. Before you know it, you have Thanksgiving, you do Christmas, and then just like that it's 2018. We started this blog at the end of 2016 so we're coming up on our one year anniversary. I knew there would be a point where I might start reviewing stuff we missed throughout the year for whatever reason, and this is definitely one of those releases. For whatever reason, I don't recall seeing anything about "Argestonia" in February or March, but had I did, we would've reviewed it sooner. 
Right off the bat you'll notice The Black Sound's fat fuzzed out sound. It's thick and meaty, and it's a great sound for a Stoner Doom band. Clocking in at around 12 minutes, you get nothing but a lava infused, reefer maddening, doom-laden riff fest. Like a bearded stoner accidentally lighting his facial hair on fire while lighting up for another toke, this shit is both fiery and toasty. Their slow and steady grooves resonating from their orange amps will have you seeing visions of purple and green rather than black. 
The singer in this band has got a really nice voice. It's sort of gravelly and slightly harsh. It kinda reminds me of "Dixie" Dave from Weedeater but not quite. I would say it's definitely in the same vein, but not like a total rip off or a duplicate of what "Dixie" does. Like mentioned above, the guitars are fat and beef with the cowhide still intact for all that extra fuzz. It's thick like a cloud of weed smoke, and dank like the basement you're getting stoned in. Or at least it's the type of environment well suited for this sound. The bass creeps in here and there, while the drums bring the crackle and roar with the thunder and lightning. 
The Black Sound definitely play low and slow, with a drunken whiskey soaked blues swagger, and a dope fueled haze in their eyes. Too bad "Argestonia" couldn't be any longer. Not that the songs needed to be longer, but it definitely leaves you wanting some more songs from these dudes. Hopefully we'll be writing about The Black Sound again in 2018, if they have plans to release more stuff. Cheers! -Samir

PS: This is a little out of the ordinary for me to write something like this, but something out of the ordinary happened to me this past weekend. I discovered (as some of you may have noticed on our Facebook page) that I was banned from posting and/or commenting in groups for a whole week. I wasn't given specific details on how or why, but I'm assuming it had to do something with me posting two reviews back to back, and someone reported me for spam. we get most of our readers through posting in Facebook groups. Right now it is simply the easiest way to reach a large amount of people. We do not need hundreds and hundreds of readers to click on our posts to inflate our egos here. We simply do this for free to support and share bands we give a shit about. However, the more readers we do get, increases the chances we might turn them on to something they weren't aware of before reading, and could direct their traffic to the band's Facebook page where the band might get some followers as a result. I personally do most of the leg work for distribution, and banning me pretty much cuts those legs from underneath us. If I get put in FB jail again, I will come up with some sort of back up plan, but for the time being I will just say this. If you're reading this and you're the one who reported me, do me a favor and block me, or if you're an Admin for a group who reported me, remove me from your group. You don't even have to tell me you did it! Keep it anonymous! I don't give a fuck! Thanks! -Samir

Clouds Taste Satanic - The Glitter of Infinite Hell (2017)

Brooklyn-based instrumental doom quartet Clouds Taste Satanic are here to drag us into the abyss with their fourth studio album, "The Glitter of Infinite Hell". This one is comprised of four tracks that are as colossal as they are sinful, each clocking in at about 18 minutes a piece! With length like that, it's definitely a slow burn (perhaps eternal?), but these aren't the types of songs that linger in one spot, droning on, trying to stretch out a single idea for as long as possible. Each one is a tour of the profane, slithering through the underworld and groaning with the strains of the damned. The first track "Greed" conjures visions of crossing the river Styx, opening the gates of hell, and being exposed to some of the initial horrors. Then "Treachery" creeps in quietly before bursting with a churning and crunching, like demons whipping at hordes of souls bound in chains as they turn a great wheel. With each passing song more THC seems to seep in and you'll hear more stoner influence atop the cruel snarl of evil. The third track "Violence" is where this starts to become apparent with streaks of groove and warm, smoky jams mixed in amid the torment. "Wrath" continues the trend and closes the album - the denizens of hell are probably well baked at this point (in more than one way) and all hope is lost in a pleasantly dark haze. This is an awesome trip through the pit so check it out! -Brandon

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

I, Forlorn - My Kingdom Eclipsed (2017)

Out of the Netherlands comes a one-man project that touches at the heart of despair - I, Forlorn. The debut album "My Kingdom Eclipsed" growls with a miserable kind of death/doom buried beneath layers of delicate keys, strings, and acoustic guitar - taking agony and painting over it with something majestic. Its foundations are built on an extreme and melancholic kind of doom but the more symphonic elements have taken root, growing both deep and wide, becoming entangled and transforming into an integral part of the sound. This stuff isn't just used for intros - it's intertwined everywhere, helping to reinforce the somber atmosphere and define sorrowful melodies alongside the guitar leads. These pieces are beautiful but that doesn't mean this album is gentle by any means. The vocals howl with a wretched rasp imbued with the flavor of hell and you'll hear black metal influence scattered throughout that keeps things coarse. The resulting balance is incredible with a near-perfect fusion of each style. In spite of the music's hopeless nature and lyrics that mostly deal with depression and loss, it swells to an almost epic tone at points and I get swept up in its dark glory repeatedly. This album is definitely worthy of your time so give it a listen! -Brandon

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Iron Monkey - 9-13 (2017) / Unsane - Sterilize (2017)

So here's my bonus review for the week. Actually it's a double review, and it's about two bands that I discovered at different points in my life, and who became favorites of mine. They also both released albums recently, so I thought I'd review them together. Neither of these bands need me to write this, and honestly any band that I review on here doesn't either. I just do it because I love heavy music, and I think there are some that go under the radar and i'd like to not only listen to those bands, but also talk about how much I liked their shit. So this review is really for me, and I guess if you like these two bands, this review is for you too.

I remember reading about Iron Monkey and sludge in general in Metal Maniacs when I was an early teen. I wasn't sure exactly what sludge was, but once Crowbar had been name dropped in some articles, I got the gist. Slow, low, and played kinda loose, like the music was actually trying to mimic the movement of sludge rolling downhill. I saw advertisements for the S/T release, but I didn't hear it until a little later on. I was kinda pissed I had no heard them earlier. It's definitely a classic, and I've returned to it many times. They were like the result if Electric Wizard and Eyehategod formed a super group. They were that much of a Goliath. Piercing harsh vocals, a thick low end, and a Sabbathian Stoner Groove, that not only were trademarks of the Stoner Sludge Doom sound, but have been copied, borrowed, and stolen mercilessly since. Then after their release "Our Problem" they didn't put out anything else and that's because their original singer Johnny Morrow died. However, 20 years later released not that far off from the S/T album's original release, the band puts out "9-13". Considering how much of a classic the S/T album is, it would be hard to top that. While I can confirm that my feelings are pretty strong for their their first album, I feel like I can enjoy "9-13" in its own right without being over zealous about the first two releases. It sounded exactly how I wanted it to sound. Pure sludgecore bliss. The riffs are simple, catchy, and have this loosely swung swagger to them. They definitely kept a lot of the elements that made them great. Is this how they would've sounded if they just kept going in the first place? Who knows! I just know I'm really glad they finally did. It's fucking heavy and it crushes.

I'm guessing like most people I discovered Unsane when MTV put "Scrape" on heavy rotation. it wasn't quite metal, but it was definitely more abrasive and had more attitude than the Alternative Rock and Grunge that they were regularly showcasing. As a result I was hooked, and it also served as a gateway to Amphetamine Reptile; a label with a roster of bands who shared a similar sound. I of course have followed the band as they have jumped label to label including two of my favorites Relapse and Ipecac, and now they find themselves on Southern Lord with "Sterilize". Upon first glance of the album art, it looks as if the band has not lost its touch one bit, including their signature use of blood you can find as a constant theme throughout their entire body of work. Once I listened to it, I discovered this is probably some of their best work in a long time. It's heavier than most, it's just as abrasive as ever, and it's even got some of the sludgiest songs I've heard from them. It has all of their trademarks as well. Their jagged waltzing rhythms, the screaming, those stabbing leads, and that fucking bass sound. The band hasn't changed one bit. It's been five years since "Wreck" out, and it was even another five years before there was a release before that. I'm hoping that it won't be another five before we hear anything else from them, but in the meantime if I do have to wait, this album will tide me over for sure. It fucking rules! Cheers! -Samir