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