Friday, June 30, 2017

Ogimaa- Desolation (2017)

"Desolation" seems like a pretty fitting title for Winnipeg Sludge Doom trio Ogimaa's new EP. It's dark, cold, and full of misery. The first track "Fallen Empire" starts off with a melancholic/bleak intro riff that seems pretty tame, but then when these dudes finally roar, they fucking let it rip, teeth and all. The music itself feels like getting hit by a wave of filled with nothing but dead trees and roadkill. Every down stroke feels like being underneath the foot of a giant troll, lumbering around in a doomed and trivial existence. The mix here is top notch with every part coming out the way it was intended to be. Nothing is ever too muddy or too fuzzy. The guitars have the right amount of distortion for an awesome sludge tone that is less syrupy and has an impact closer to a sledgehammer. Detuned and fucking heavy! The bass has a nice distorted growl, especially in those moments when its isolated and not just supporting the weight of the guitars. The drums pound angrily with great fury that never drags and has purpose striking forward. The vocals have a nice mix between something harsh and a singing scream. Speaking of which, the drummer is the one doing the vocals on this one. Not like the guitar and bass are doing the vocals, and the drummer does the back up. He's the only one doing them! So fucking bravo on that, because I hardly see enough of that! Overall this a pretty enjoyable EP. It will be over before you know, and have you wanting more which every good release should strive to do. Cheers! -Samir

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Vermiforme- Riitualiis (2017)

Vermiforme have the nastiest Stoner/Sludge/Doom in South America. If someone wants to dispute me on this, that's cool but I'm sure I'm pretty close to being right. One thing that threw me off about this album is that it's actually a live recording. What tipped me off is when the vocalist said "gracias" and people were cheering. I don't maybe it was the intro that did it, but overall the sound quality is fucking top notch, as I'm guessing this is exactly how the dudes wanted it to sound like in a studio setting. Without listening to their older stuff but just glancing at it I can tell there's a good chunk of older tunes on here. However, if this is your first introduction to the band I think it works as a way to discover and then go back to their first two releases. The only band who I can compare their sound to is probably Conan, but I feel like they're the gold standard now as far as Doom bands go, along with Bongripper and Monolord. They're a little bit nastier than Conan and definitely have more of a Stoner vibe than they do. They just sound so filthy and disgusting it's soothes me. Plus they don't scream in English it's all Spanish, so kudos to them for not conforming to a global audience. Plus the singer has a very unique sounding voice. It's guttural, harsh, raspy, deep and most importantly menacing. It's like I'm not sure I wanna meet the dude because he'd probably scare the fuck out of me. It's also worth noting that their cover of Black Sabbath's "Solitude" (mellow as fuck) is played brutal as fuck. I wasn't so sure when I read the track listing, like are you sure you guys wanna cover that one with the way you sound? It kinda doesn't fit. However, they take the tune and destroy and crush it until it becomes their own with their own sound. Overall I really dug this, I'm definitely gonna check out their older shit and hope they make some new filthy/nasty Stoner Sludge Doom riffs in the near future. Cheers! -Samir

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Subetroth Interview

Like I mentioned in my review of "Agnozia" (which you can view right here) Subetroth defy any sort of categorization. They're definitely heavy as fuck and seem to be somewhat grounded in Stoner/Sludge/Doom, but from there they kinda just do whatever they want. Subetroth create a sound that's original and unique for a sub-genre of metal that sees lots of imitators and duplicators, and I wanted to pick their brains to figure out how these Avant Sludge Fiends do what they do.

Super Dank Metal Jams: So how did you guys form?
Scott- It started with me and former member, Justin Cook (Ravena, Botulist), while we were writing material for Ravena, which is a post-rock/post-metal group of sorts. We both realized we had more of a metal background with each other and decided to try and make something a little heavier. So, I hit up Frank, whom I’ve known since we were in high school, and had a tech-metal band with some years later.
Frank- Yeah, he hit me up and said he was starting a Doom metal project, and I was like “What the hell is doom metal?” He said he thought I would be good at it, and I was looking for a reason to get back into playing again after our 10-year hiatus from playing together. Scott told me to come through and meet and Justin and see how the chemistry worked. So, they taught me their first song, which was ‘Okker’s Shanty’, and we all clicked. Then I just started writing riffs.

SDMJ: Who are your biggest influences and inspires you?
Frank- Me and Scott listened to a lot of shit like Cephalic Carnage, Candiria, Converge, Nasum, and Soilent Green when we were in high school.
Scott- I think we both agree Cephalic’s ‘Exploiting Dysfunction’ is one of the greatest metal albums ever made. It was flawless in its delivery and dynamic presence.
Frank- Hell yeah, and bands like Mars Volta and At The Drive-in, I like that kind of shit.
Scott- I’d have to say that Soilent Green was probably the biggest contributing factor to my particular writing style. Cephalic Carnage just gave me the balls to be unafraid to try weird and obscure shit that no one else was doing. I think we’re both inspired by groups who didn’t fit into any particular genre or scene. At that time (late 90’s, early 00’s), you still had to sift through CDs at the local music store and read hard copy magazines to get a glimpse of what was going on in metal. There was no way to listen to any of these groups before buying the actual physical album back then. Needless to say, most albums were one and done. But the few gems we found or came across totally shaped how we viewed metal from there on out.

SDMJ: What is your songwriting process?
Scott- Dropbox.
Frank- I would be at home, find some time to write some riffs, and record them on the phone and send them to our Dropbox folder where Scott would construct some the tracks based on what we would send.
Scott- Frank has like 70 riffs currently still sitting in our ‘Riff Bank’ folder.
Frank- I have some more.
Scott- As far as what we try and accomplish with our particular sound, we wanted to find a way to make music that IS agonizing. Not just sounds like it, not just lyrics that convey the message, it needed to be painful. For ‘Native Alien’, we were bullshitting around about what the sound would be like, and Justin mentioned that he had a fretless 7-string he had used for some experimental black-metal stuff he was working on. We thought it would be cool to have some elements like that in our sound, but then he wrote the last riff of ‘Res Judicata’, and me and Frank were like “Fuck.”
Frank- Yeah, we can’t just have that one part be fretless, we couldn’t even play it on our fretted guitars. We made the commitment, right then, with that riff, that we HAD to be a fretless band. So, then we went back, and essentially “defretted” all of our material and gave it more of a sleazy sound that comprised Native Alien into what it is.
Scott- We went from doing something we thought might just fit in with all the other doom/sludge, to doing something nobody is doing, which is committing an entire metal band/sound to fretless instruments.

SDMJ: How did you write for Agnozia?
Scott- After ‘Native Alien’ dropped, we realized we weren’t doing the fretless thing enough, mostly because we had deconstructed fretted riffs into fretless ones. Not only that, it seems like even if we did, we still weren’t blurring enough lines to step out of the flock. So, I figured we should do something more experimental that probably won’t be acceptable for most doom/sludge followers, who are into some version of the Sabbath-worship sound. I realized quickly that, to me, the heaviest genre of music in the world was based on some sort of 70’s detuned vibe, and I’m not really into that at all, and honestly disagree. Frank and I came from the dirtier side of the underground, and we learned that we actually fit more into the “Sludge” category than doom. But we were really into what bands like Bongripper and Thou were doing, so we didn’t know that we had to make a hard stance on where our band was going. So, for the second release, we had to get weird. We had to try things that let it be known that we weren’t gonna just spit out the same record over and over. Back when were actually still writing and recording for ‘Native Alien’, I had shown Frank a song of a local Folk artist (Josh Davenport) and was telling him how cool I thought it would be to eventually cover his song ‘Preacher, Drunken Killer’, but it was just an idea and nothing came of it at the time. So, some time had passed after NA released, and I watched ‘Black Snake Moan’ and thought, “Holy shit, we should totally pay tribute to the sound that influenced THE sound.” Black Sabbath was heavily influenced by the blues, and my favorite style was Delta Blues. Just one guy, with a guitar and a slide. After the movie ended, I went into my studio and wrote the intro to ‘Rubber Band Moan’ with no intention of making it heavy, I was just inspired in that moment. What the song turned into was bringing the influence of what heavy music is to us in full circle, making sure to understand that we had to do something different than everyone else to pay REAL tribute to those who came before us. So RBM was actually written first, and we had the idea of covering Josh’s PDK, and we thought we should just do an experimental EP that reflects on the significance of American musical heritage.

SDMJ: What has compelled you to combine Sludge/Doom and Avant Garde music?
Scott- Well Avant-Garde in of itself is void of description. We like heavy music…
Frank- And what heavy is to us. We are the only all fretless band that we know of that is doing what we’re doing, and being fretless changes the way you write things. Riffs can’t just be power chords and 5ths, we actually have to compose who will be playing what note so as to not create such a heavy out-of-tune warble that can be substantial for a low as we tune and being fretless. I mean, our guitars are tuned like basses (E1), and the bass is tuned down to E0. That’s 20.6 Hz and up that we have to ensure precision playing.
Scott- Exactly. So it sounds like what we’re doing is really simple, and it is as far as understanding the building of the riffs, but we had to practice a lot in order to get the timing of our slides right, and even just exact hand placement was a learning curve. We had to come up with new vernacular that we had never used before in other bands when describing where a particular slide would start and end, and how fast it should be. Like “Ok, so start at the 3 fret, and slide up to 6 ½…” or “roll your finger forward/back a little more on this part” and shit like that.
Frank- So when we decided on the fretless thing, the idea was exciting for what we could come up with. In the creative process, it just opens up possibilities and makes you step outside the norm, or changing what’s been done. We went back and did what we called “defretting” all of our material, like taking out chunky linear progressions and turning them into slides to give a much more uneasy feeling…
Scott-Which was heavier to us than anything we have experienced. The music was uncomfortable, and yet fun and sometimes playful.
Frank- And made us giggle.
Scott- Yeah, we knew that when we started acting like little school girls over a particular riff, we were going in the right direction.

SDMJ: Where did the idea of adding instruments such as the banjo into a doom song come from? Scott- I remember one of Zakk Wylde’s old albums, Pride and Glory. The opener of that album had a banjo that introduced the band who then came in and played the same riff. I thought that was so cool back then when it came out and apparently, it never left my mind when we finally decided the theme of ‘Agnozia’. The guy who played for us, Chandler Pratt (Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit, The Little Fuller Band), is actually a fucking monster on guitar, but also plays a savage mandolin and pretty much whatever else he wants. He and I were in our first band together as kids, and it only made sense to me to have him come in on the project. I gave him no direction, except for “play banjo here”. He went with some sort of a Celtic highlands/Middle Eastern vibe on it that still managed to keep the integrity of American history. There’s no way that song would even be on the album if he hadn’t done what he did, it’s the catchiest part of the album for us.

SDMJ: I saw in the bandcamp tag for Agnozia that you had put concept album in there. What are the concepts, themes, and ideas explored on this album?
Scott- There was no continuous theme for the album from song to song, but the album as a whole is a tribute to American folk and blues music. We tried to incorporate sounds from the world of old (old for our country anyway), and sort of honor the contributions that came to shape most major genres of music in the world. And honestly, it was just a fun concept that was easy for us to entertain. So each song has its own story that stands by itself from the album, but I tried to write the lyrics to where they had purpose and meaning to me, but are vague enough for the listeners to interpret a meaning for themselves. PDK is all of Josh's original lyrics, barring the one spot/bridge where we added our own riffs to the song, and I tried to write in a way that respected his song while saying something that I would yell in a SUBETROTH song. There is no set way we come up with arrangements other than conceptualizing an idea and trying to figure out a way to sonically portray that idea. We would run all sorts of ideas through the ringer. Sometimes shit would work the first try, while other riffs/ideas/deliveries never made it to the album. We would just experiment by literally cutting and pasting demo riffs in Logic Pro, add a generic beat for tempo, and listen, listen, listen. I think the benefit of being a studio band is that we spend WAY more time listening to ourselves than we we do actually playing our instruments, which is sort of unique from the way a traditional band operates. We have no idea how our material works on a crowd, so it hasn't shaped our understanding of what we're supposed to be doing. We just tinker with everything until it's something we like to listen to, not to play or perform. For Agnozia, it was American folk and blues. For the next one, we'll try and ruin some other genre (or genres) of music. Not everyone will dig what we do, but blurring genre lines is the only way new shit gets created, and we want to make stuff people haven't heard before. Otherwise, we're just doing a slight variation of what's been done over and over in doom and sludge. Doing that is very uninteresting to us.
Frank- For ‘Ungrown Tug’, Scott came with a really cool intro riff with the purpose of having a banjo on it. By this time, we had PDK and RBM conceptually written, but we wanted the party-like opener for the EP. Some of these riffs were in our Riff Bank, and we had a rough idea on which riffs we were going to use, even though some of them were written on fretted guitars. Then Scott mangled the shit out of them and defretted them…
Scott- “Let’s slow this riff to ¼ speed…”
Frank- Jesus! He added a whole sort of swag to these riffs and made them new. Ungrown Tug was the last song we wrote out of the 3, and after hearing it in it’s almost finished state, I was like “We need a fuckin’ harmonica in here or something.” So like with the blast beat section in Ungrown Tug, it’s the same riff as what’s being played under the harmonica solo, but Scott did what he does, arranged it, and then I heard what I had originally wrote in a new way, hence the need for a harmonica. That with the banjo only made sense. The song had a very fun-vibe to it, and having Nathan come in was exactly what made the song complete.
Scott- All the songs needed that little bit of out-of-genre flair. For PDK, the song in its raw format is the song of a broken, but good man. The progressions in the original are traditional, diatonic minor in delivery, and it was that along with his lyrics that made me want to cover the song. I wanted to capture a fractured mind, but also have it be beautiful in a bitter-sweet sort of way. So for the intro, we took his original recording, and added some horror-like concepts to it so as to give the feeling of the whole despair thing or whatever. When the band kicks in, we wanted a big theatrical presence to counter the intro, and then we brought Reese Rose in to give it that haunting, beautiful quality…. Frank- Which was the final touch to a song that was missing something until she came in. Even though we worked on the delivery a lot, the progression was still Josh. So we decided to put the two riffs that are obviously outside of the original song in, the first one from me, the second one from Scott.
Scott- Yeah Frank’s riff had that, “Ok, back to SUBETROTH” feel to it that let stood on its own, and allowed for a break to bring the band back in, in a familiar way. The second riff goes back to us needing to show the fretlessness of the band, and not some gimmick that just makes it harder for us to play shit people with fretted guitars can do. I tried to replicate some sort of hybrid speaking-in-tongues thing with someone who suffers from mental illness that solely pays tribute to the title of the song, and Josh himself.
Frank- And RBM is just a SUBETROTH song, with a cool intro.
Scott- Done.

SDMJ: What do you think is the best way for you to execute writing for a concept album, and how would that change for the future?

Scott- Well like Frank said, it goes back to being fretless. We almost have no option but to write differently when it comes to our brand of music, whatever that is. Being unpredictable keeps expectations of us low, and allows us to experiment with whatever we want since we’re still a new band with little to no presence in the scene because we are a studio band. I mean, now, it’s just me and Frank. Just us doing whatever the fuck we want with no social or fan obligations. We got a little buzz from Agnozia, but it’s still nothing compared to what bands that actually tour get. People stumble across us, and for that, we don’t have to take what we do too seriously. So we don’t.
Frank- We just get after it, make sure we have enough material to work with, and not be scared to be experimental or conceptual, no matter how silly the idea might be. Just fuckin’ execute.

SDMJ: How do you stay creative?
Scott- Don’t listen to metal.
Frank- Yeah I gotta step away from metal pretty often. Gotta go back to the stuff that makes you feel good, and then come back with the state of mind that you’re gonna come back with some heavy ass shit. I find that I don’t like a lot of stuff these days, not much metal other than the old stuff I grew up with. Seems like there’s not enough risk takers in metal, especially in the doom/sludge genre, and it’s kind of irritating.

SDMJ: What are you currently listening to, and what should we check out for the blog? Frank- Hall & Oates, Slightly Stoopid, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, 311, The Cars, Minus The Bear, Phil Collins, Classic Rock, 80’s shit, and SUBETROTH. I don’t know, just pretty much whatever is good. Scott- I found myself caught up in the recent trap/twerking/dub phenomenon. I love that shit, Buku, Knife Party, Toadface, Excision, and Celldweller. I also love Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko, those dudes rap like Meshuggah does polyrhythms. I know none of what Frank and I are listening to helps the people who listen to heavy music or are reading this probably, but if had to recommend something, I got one, Author & Punisher. I saw that dude open up for Weedeater and it was one of the heaviest things I’ve ever heard in my entire life. That dude fuckin’ gets it. -Samir

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Burn The Chapel- Phases (2017)

Shrouded in a plume of putrid smoke is Burn the Chapel - a one-man stoner/doom baron from Detroit - and it smells like there's something new burning. "Phases", his latest EP, is a dirty, instrumental riff mammoth intent on leaving you in a tepid haze. The release is composed of four original songs, plus a re-released bonus. Almost everything on the first three is played with a long draw - perfect for spacing out and letting the music put your mind out to pasture. The guitar solos chirp with tons of classic rock flair, pairing perfectly with the slow churn underneath. Afterwards, the title track starts with a similar style, but halfway through it shifts and the song simmers with something a little more modern. "Monolith", the bonus track, was lifted from an earlier EP, but it's been redone for this release. Once you hear it, you'll totally understand why - it's an awesome, desert-tinged sonic journey with a monstrous solo. It's something that will really have you wandering the soundscape, so it's worth putting out twice! There are some serious fumes coming off of these tracks, so if you need to get lost in your head for a while Burn the Chapel can show you the way. -Brandon

Monday, June 26, 2017

Khemmis/Spirit Adrift - Fraught with Peril (2017)

In an act of genre-bending defiance, two titans of doom have teamed up to introduce some wretchedness into traditional American folk songs. Khemmis, whose sophomore album "Hunted" seemed to make an appearance on every "Best of 2016" list last year, and Spirit Adrift, a one-man master of melancholy, just put out "Fraught With Peril", a split where each band covers a classic tune with origins in the early 20th century. Both songs are completely uncompromising and put the heaviness second to none. The bands each have a style that draws the misery out of these songs to help you experience a fragment of the pain that inspired them. Khemmis tackles "A Conversation With Death", a song that was originally written by Lloyd Chandler but was twisted by oral tradition until it was overshadowed by a more popular variation, "O Death". Their rendition starts with a haunting, powerful vocal intro before divulging into a deep, full-band heavy metal dirge. It's definitely got a lot of the sound that they are known for - slow, tragic, and well produced. Afterwards, Spirit Adrift sings lamentations on "Man of Constant Sorrow", most often attributed to Dick Burnett. Again, the track starts with vocal harmonies before swiftly descending into a woeful piece with a wide breadth. The rhythm hits a low thunder and the vocals moan with grief, but the guitar leads bring in a touch of southern twang that hearkens back to the song's roots. On their own, these pieces are awesome, but paired together they become a massive combo that speaks to the timelessness of human suffering. This is definitely more than a couple of cover songs, this is a continuation of musical legacy. -Brandon

Friday, June 23, 2017

Norska- Too Many Winters (2017)

Norska features members from the band Yob, and while there might be some sonic strands of their DNA in there, the band's brand of Sludge is more in line with Red Fang and High on Fire. Given the artwork of "Too Many Winters" don't expect any bong worship on this album. The art reflects the cold darkness that prevails throughout this release. Unlike the usual stuff we expect from Yob the music has more uptempo moments and moves with a sense of urgency, which is not your typical doom metal pacing. The riffs are fiery and slightly blackened, with touches of dark atmospheric psych. There are times when the music does pull back to play slower, and I think that it gives those moments more of a chance to ring to let the vocals shine through and be more melodic and create great harmonizing parts. Speaking of which, the vocals aren't too harsh. I mean they're screamed and growled, but there are also those moments where there's singing, and it really ties in with the song and doesn't stand out as being obnoxious or out of place. The guitars and bass have a gruffness to them but not anything overly distorted. Overall, great shit coming out of Oregon when it comes to doom. Keep up the good work! Cheers! -Samir

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Hexxus- Tunguska

Hexxus play sludge infused post metal, that stays aggressive and moves along sluggishly with anguished torment and despair. Under the thick layer of caked on crusty sludge produced by the heavy combination of detuned bass and guitar are well written beautiful harmonies that remain bleak like the rest of the music. This is a good thing. It's definitely interesting music and not your typical sludge metal fare. There's some really good grooves and riffage going on with this album, and when these dudes heavy, it's massive as fuck. It's like walking through a cloud of dirt with rocks coming at you from all directions. The band pulls you into the mud while being hogtied then dragged through the muck, then plucks you out and beats you slowly with mallets. The vocals on "Tunguska" remain pissed throughout. No clean singing whatsoever, and that's fucking by me. Fuck singing. But really I enjoyed the vocals. Nasty and threatening as fuck. In fact I enjoyed the whole things, which is why I'm writing about it. I mean you should give it a listen as well. Cheers! -Samir

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Howling Eye- Dying Sun (2017)

Reaching from beyond the blackness of space (or maybe just from Poland) is The Howling Eye with their debut release, "Dying Sun". With a slow stoner/doom rumbling you'll be sent swirling through the cosmos to probe the depths of the universe. But you'll soon realize that you aren't just taking a tour of a bunch of bright, beautiful galaxies - there is a dark presence that creeps among the stars. Sure, this expedition is fueled by heavy riffage, but that will occasionally be supplemented by bleak guitar chimes as the bass grumbles some low threats. There's a deep resonation in everything you hear with fuzz and feedback that fill in the gaps, as though you're feeling the vibrations in radio frequencies traveling through the void. Putting the stoner space trek aside, the band even attempts to bring the concept of a hidden track to the digital age. Although the Bandcamp page only lists three tracks, buying it gives you one extra piece entitled "Jam". It's 18 minutes long and more experimental than the other songs with some unique tribal sounds - definitely a nice bonus. The whole release is awesome if you need something to guide you through the night sky, just be prepared for something insidious. -Brandon

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nightpröwler- Unholy Rawness (2017)

Nightpröwler on the loose! After six years and three EPs, the vicious Nightpröwler from Quito, Ecuador has finally released their first full-length album: "Unholy Rawness". Nothing on this album will show you any mercy so get ready to be hammered by some brutally frantic metal. This is blackened speed in the vein of Midnight (with a heavy dose of Motörhead thrown in) so if you like it fast and evil this is going to have you banging your head and hailing the dark one! It's the perfect album to play at full volume if you're driving drunk down the highway as fast as you can on the way to a ritual sacrifice. If you're familiar with the band, you'll recognize a few tracks from their EPs such as "Drunk Whores and Destruction", "Midnight Sacrifice", and "Witching Rock N' Roll" but all of been re-recorded and injected with extra speed and power. I love the pacing on this release - once it gets ramped up it doesn't bother to slow down. The rhythm pushes on furiously with wild guitar roaring all over the place as you get slammed with track after track of snarling metal madness. This album is a rabid beast and if you haven't been scared off yet you need to hear it! -Brandon

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Mang Ont- Vohk (2017)

Like the scalped coat of a woolly mammoth, Mang Ont are warm and burly as fuck. When these guys move there is definitely a low end rumble that shakes the Earth below their feet. Their riffs are as beefy and mighty​ as King Conan himself, but with Conan getting so stoned out of his gourd that he sits in silence on his throne just staring out into the vastness and the great responsibilities of his kingdom. I believe this is the music he hears in his head. This is great instrumental stoner doom that is both pummeling yet fuzzed the fuck out. Altogether their sound is pretty tasty. When the riffs get massive it feels like you're being trampled under a stampede. There's but of ambient noise that's in the mix that kind of fill in the voids, and really add to the experience giving it an almost ethereal and other worldly feel to it. I'm really into the lead/melodic guitar parts on this, since they added a lot of character to these songs. They may not have been noticeable on the first listen but on the second and third it really caught my attention. I'm not particularly drawn to instrumental doom music, because it often time seems to be too repetitive. Mang Ont weave you into their sinister web, and keep you in a trance for the duration of the journey. It's a savage and barbaric one, so make sure you pack enough joints to make it to the end of this high fantasy tale to enjoy the cave paintings of doom and gloom. "Vohk" (which stands for mammoth's tusk in Estonian) is a killer fucking album. Highly recommended! Cheers! -Samir

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sahara- The Light (2017)

Holy shit, Sahara fucking rules! I see it on Facebook constantly where people a dogging stoner doom and Sleep/Electric Wizard worship, but Sahara's dank riffs should pass the smell test with most for sure. The band delivers when it comes to sinister/seedy vibes and scuzzy soundscapes. Not really sure what's behind the name "The Light". Is it the light from the sun which baked this crusty nugget into it's crispy final form? Is it the light from the lighter which lit all of that hash the singer must have had to smoke to get his vocals to sound so blackened and guttural? Or is it some sort of spiritual/religious thing (probably/most likely)? I don't fucking know for sure though! I do know I'm really fucking into this album, and it's the right strain of Doom Metal you need to pack into your bowl. There's nothing psych or 70s sounding about "The Light", because the light on this album is going to take you on a stoner Odyssey to the fiery depths of hell . The guitar and bass have a fuzz sound that seems to originate from a were wolf's naval, and are as heavy and hairy as a Yeti. There's a little Sabbathian groove and swagger to them (in the same vein as Dopethrone), but these dudes would most likely scare the shit outta Sabbath if they played during their day (like Dopethrone as well). So that's a good sign when you're playing doom and you would most likely make them run for the hills. Overall, this album blows a lot of stoner shit out of the bong water. This is some good shit. Cheers! -Samir

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Lunar Locust- Doomsday Cult (2017)

New Hampshire natives Lunar Locust have emerged under the light of the full moon with their debut EP, "Doomsday Cult". Should you be willing to join the cult, you'll undergo the initiation ritual: four tracks of hazy stoner/doom designed to tear you to shreds. The first three tunes are all wicked riff monsters driven with an aggressive attitude. How aggressive? Well, two of the three members of Lunar Locust also play in a hardcore punk outfit called Crystal Methodist, and you can definitely hear some of that anger carrying over to what they're doing here. The vocals are harsh, the guitar tone is distorted with rage, and every cymbal crash seems to be punctuated with malice. The last song changes the style, but doesn't lighten the mood. It's an enigmatic instrumental piece played out with a tense rhythm and ambient sounds. After the assault from the first few songs, the eerie subtlety leaves you uneasy, feeling like the band could come back and strike at any point. The EP ends without that final blistering blast, but the anticipation is still there - so since you're already worked up, might as well play it again! It's not too long (only about 15 minutes) so if you're ready for a fuzzy doomsday attack, put this one on. Just be warned that you may be playing it a few times on repeat! -Brandon

Monday, June 12, 2017

Elder- Reflections of a Floating World (2017)

Reflections of a Floating World, the newest album from Elder, is going to take you on a trip. This won't be your typical Sabbath-worshiping, journey through the riff-filled land - no, this is more complex than that. It is an expedition to a unique, extensive soundscape that was born of stoner rock but evolved into a prog-heavy serpent, fluidly snaking its way between diverse musical passages. Each of the six colossal tracks on this release weaves a sonic tapestry, constantly moving forward into new territories and scarcely looking at where it's been until the song is complete. The guitar does work its way into a girthy riff from time to time, but you'll also hear a lot of indie rock twang that brings a more elegant, fragile tone than you might be expecting. The addition of the keyboards creates an ambiance that solidifies the delicate nature of the sound while also unifying the various elements you'll hear. Although I'm sure many will try to deny it, this album manages to hit on some post-hardcore nerves that resonate throughout each song. If that thought doesn't scare you off, your trek through the floating world will be a rewarding one, filled with rare combinations of intricate sounds twisting themselves together in the shadow of progressive rock. -Brandon

Friday, June 9, 2017

Heavy Traffic- Plastic Surgery

I heard "Plastic Surgery" when it first came out back in December, but the limited edition white and green vinyl came out last month so this review seems appropriate and long over due. The first band that came to mind when I heard "Plastic Surgery" was Comets on Fire. These dudes just have this fiery explosion about them that was reminiscent of that band. You can tell these dudes are more into Blue Cheer than they are Sabbath. Heavy Traffic play Heavy Psych Doom Rock that has a fuzzy stoner vibe to it and seems fit for a garage. Think Fuzz or even Mudhoney with a slightly sinister twist peppered in here and there. The musicianship on this record is fucking phenomenal. The riffs are catchy and memorable, while the sweet licks from the lead guitar fucking rip, and weave in and out of the fuzz clouds coming out of the amps dissipating into the ether. The vocals are hazy and have that ghost trail quality I often hear in psych music. I'm actually not a big fan of all the psych doom stuff coming out lately and that's probably reflected in what I choose to review. However, this shit is the real deal. If I wanna hear that type of music, this is the kinda stuff I wanna tune into. Highly recommend, and you should definitely check this out! Cheers! -Samir

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Meatwound- Largo (2017)

My introduction to Meatwound (who features former members of Combatwoundedveteran and The Holy Mountain) came last summer when I discovered their debut "Addio". What I heard was a combination of metallic hardcore and noise rock with the foot on the gas. They sounded like they could be on Amphetamine Reptile, but on steroids. Meatwound picks up the pace even more with "Largo". It's a full on cleaver attack to the senses that sounds like a mesh of Coalesce and Unsane. The rhythm section on this release is the true heroes of this album. The bass and drum wind and swerve while maintaining that tight noise rock swagger that's familiar to 90's music fans. I mean I feel like all and all this is a Time Warp to the mid to late 90s. It retains all of the aggressive, frantic, and abrasive tendencies of the time and puts it through a meat grinder. Going back to that bass sound though. Holy shit, you couldn't ask for a better sound for this band. It's classic, and definitely recognizable to fans that era of music. It's fucking distorted and just fucking pops. It does harken back to similar sounds created by The Jesus Lizard and Unsane, and it's quite satisfying. I've spent plenty of time talking about the noise rock connections, but this band has it's roots deeply connected to Hardcore and Metal. The vocals are barked in an aggressive fashion, and the band moves as a whole with the precision and strength of a bullet train, plowing over and crushing anything in its way. If you're​ looking for a meaty combination of noise rock and hardcore (I wouldn't quite call it noisecore), chew on this gnarly​ piece of animal flesh. Cheers! -Samir

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cromlech- Iron Guard (2017)

Riding forth from Toronto with blades raised high comes Cromlech, ready to strike down man and beast alike in order to dispense their newest EP, "Iron Guard". A tremendous powerhouse of epic doom, this release will cause your heart to ache with hunger for battle and honor. All of the band's heavy prowess is wrapped up in medieval influence, creating a legendary experience. The first song, "Iron Fist / Iron Will" is a brilliant banner displaying the band's heroic glory with a decree so monolithic that they ran out of words for the second song - so they made that one an instrumental instead. "Unshakeable Weaponthane" starts off with a slow, heavy doom, but erupts into a frenzied assault that leads right into their third song, "Lair of Doom". Despite the title, this one sacrifices some of the doomy elements for a more driven, straight-forward metal approach as it tells the tale of Beowulf's final struggle. The EP closes with "Vigil at Earneness (From the Raiment of Flesh)", which goes full medieval as an instrumental that swells with ancient grandeur. A cold wind blows as acoustic guitars sing in both sorrow and triumph amidst other traditional sounds. By the end of the record if you don't find yourself dressed in chain mail with sword in hand, it's probably because you've already been slain. -Brandon

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Lilith And The Serpent / Coffin Hag- Split (2017)

My head is spinning as a darkness falls over Minot, ND - ground zero for this potent split from Coffin Hag and Lilith And The Serpent. Both bands are masterminded by Bukavac Per, a mighty metal architect whose solo work is menacing and remarkable in its own right. However, this particular record is ready to ensnare you with a creeping tendril and drag you down into a murky sea of psychedelic doom. As opposed to a traditional "you get half, I get half" structure, the six songs on the album alternate - one from Coffin Hag then one from Lilith And The Serpent. As a result, you get a heavy, trip of an album that feels like one whole, collaborative work as opposed to two smaller ones pushed together. The bands are similar enough to pair extremely well, but they are also distinct enough that you won't confuse them. Both are doom-driven monsters that blend elements of psychedelia seamlessly into heavy music, but Coffin Hag brings a lower, dusty sound with flat male vocals, where as Lilith And The Serpent is more dynamic and features female vocals that are gentle, eerie, and ethereal. The two styles complement each other with wicked perfection. Taken together, they produce a cohesive piece of art that will let your mind wander the shadows to explore the void and capture glimpses at an unreal beauty. Let it go. -Brandon

Friday, June 2, 2017

No Funeral- Misanthrope

No Funeral play miserable, pissed off, detuned sludge that resembles the album's title and is definitely misanthropic sounding. There's hate oozing from their pours in the form of festered black pus that reeks of rot and bodily decay, but you take a whiff anyway to see why it's so rotten. The band play old school sludge that would definitely peg them in there with Grief, but there's a stoner vibe in there that peaks through every now in then. It's hard to tell if these dudes actually worship the Iommic one, but it sounds more like Sabbath by way of Bongzilla when it gets to those stoner parts. There's definitely some meat on these bones, and the sandpaper vocals rubs this sound raw creating a gnarly mix that is satisfying. The guitars have a septic bowel churning feel and is about as smooth as spreading chunky peanut butter with a rusty knife on hot gravel. So that means I'm digging it. The bass is heavily distorted which it should be for sludge, and altogether creates a cornucopia of doom fit for any scum bag fuck face out there. I've received word that there will be a No Funeral/Livid split down the road and I can't fucking hear it. This album was killer, and if you haven't heard it yet you should definitely do so! Cheers! -Samir

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Void Commander- Shrooming Widow (2017)

These dudes bring the bass heavy fuzz for sure. Not like super maxed out like Truckfighters and Fu Manchu (which I like), but a nice rumbling low end that will pull you into the void itself. Void Commander just has this classic stoner sound, that's like a good mix of Blue Cheer and Sabbath. There's a little 70's hard Rock in there and maybe a few strains of Sleep, but not enough to be annoyed with or to simply point the finger and scream "copycat!". Void Commander have tasty riffs and deep stoner grooves, while also not forgetting those who have paved the way for them to be producing the kind of music they're making. Let's not kid ourselves, stoner rock isn't exactly the most original sub-genre of music out there, and is quite derivative of a very particular body of work. However Void Commander strike me as a band that can serpentine in and out of those conventions and just make killer music, which is what I definitely would like to hear. Plus there's something a little sinister going on here which is something I'm always drawn to. The slightly​ twisted riffage from the bass and guitar blend well with the smoke trail vocals of the singer. While the music evaporates into the ether the drums pound and beat but keep a retro sound that's in line with the rest of the sound and moves and flows quite nicely. It would be neglectful on my part not to mention the harmonica as well, which makes a few appearances here and there. Plus the sweet licks from the lead guitar we're fucking ripped with that stoner almost southern rock vibe. Overall, if you have an hour and fifteen minutes to burn a few (or all day to shroom), this is the perfect album for you to do so. Highly recommended​! Cheers! -Samir