Wednesday, February 28, 2018

SuuM - Buried Into The Grave (2018)

Stumbling out of the forest, looking pale and practically undead is SuuM - a band who seem to have sustained themselves on nothing but traditional doom for months. They're now here to indoctrinate you into their wicked lifestyle with their debut album "Buried Into The Grave", an offering set upon a profane altar in the middle of a mausoleum. It's based on a classic style that sits well next to the likes of Saint Vitus or Reverend Bizarre, but feels just a touch more modern. This stuff broods in the darkness as an ominous storm brews overhead, complete with a few thunderous explosions when songs burst into an occasional rage. The first track "Tower Of Oblivion" does well to announce the band's dark intent as the guitar lies down a thick layer of slow-churned dreariness as a foundation before the vocals moan over it with infernal lament. Add in a practically maniacal solo followed by a maddening build up with a vigorous grumble from the drums and you'll soon find your eyes glazed over as you give in to the gloom. The rest of album continues in a similar direction - groaning nefariously through the night - until "The Woods Are Waiting". This one is a moody instrumental with simple, sorrowful guitars and a touch of the blues - it's few moments respite for you to reflect before the end. With the final track "Shadows Haunt The Night" all the lingering spirits in the crypt seem worm their way out into the world, presumably to go forth and bring the essence of SuuM to all. Even if you don't check this one out, you may hear the dead whispering its praises as they pass over you in the night! -Brandon

Friday, February 23, 2018

Pressor - Weird Things EP (2018)

Pressor plays burly sounding synth driven Stoner/Sludge/Doom, with the riffs that move like lava, and a ferociousness of a bear with a face full of bees. These Russian heavyweights are big on stoner grove riffage, and make great use of it throughout the 4 tracks for "Weird Things". There's nothing too distinctly weird about this album, outside all of the added space sounds by the synth. No, I think the weird is in reference to weird fiction and the authors that write such literature. This seems like it would pair well with Lovecraft, Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, or even Philip K. Dick. Although I can't imagine reading and having this cranked at the same time. Which has me thinking, has anyone ever tried to play an audio book via audible and played it to music? I think that would be fucking sick to listen to this while also listen to someone reading Conan or even some pulpy Sci-Fi Adventure.
I digress, but really the album has the might and heaviness of Conan's sword, the darkness and foreboding doom of Cthulhu, and the alien extraterrestrial sounds of deep space travel. The fuzz from the guitar and bass merge as one to form a plume of volcanic smoke, with the texture of the ash raining down. The drummer always seems to find that doom pocket, regardless of tempo or mood changes, and pounds the shit out of each rhythm to make it that much heavier, to create an even bigger impact. I really dug the ghost trail vocals especially since they were done in a sing/scream style, making it less psychedelic, and more aggressive with that extra bit of gruff. Overall I really liked this EP. Pressor is slightly different and surrounding itself with interesting soundscapes while mercilessly crushing it at the same time. Well done! Cheers!- Samir

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Shambles - Primitive Death Trance EP (2017)

This is some truly gross sounding stuff, that has been unearthed from a dank crypt in Thailand. Shambles play OSDM with a slow Death/Doom rumbling is that likely to put anyone who listens to into a death trance, luring them into the abyss. The band relishes those murky moments where the riffs are so slow and low that they fall off the bone, but also have this tightness about them where the blasts let you know these dudes are fucking around either, and they can be brutal on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to speed. I really fucking love the low end of the string on "Primitive Death Trance". It's probably my favorite takeaway from this EP, and what has resulted in repeated listens. Plus these dudes have been around for over 20 years so clearly they know what the fuck they're doing, and have crafted some pretty repulsive sounding tunes. What I want to know is, where the fuck are all the other Death/Doom bands in Asia? I want to hear them! In the meantime though i'll keep listening to this album because it's really fucking good. Highly Recommended! Cheers! -Samir

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Flesh Relic - Silent World (2018)

In Chicago, a secret ritual is underway. Combining witchcraft, alchemy, and science one man brings a formidable sound to life. Flesh Relic is a project masterminded by Edward Nudd of Cokegoat (another great band that you should investigate if you aren't already familiar with them) and "Silent World" is the fifth EP under the Flesh Relic banner. This release uses layers of sound, smoothed together with synth to create a slice of progressive doom that slithers out of the darkness and into the obscure recesses in your mind. It evokes this kind of Pallbearer meets Opeth feel - not too similar to either band, but it strikes at the same nerves and draws out the same sensations. All four tracks on this album come through clear while the guitars and gentle synthwork generate this white fog of atmosphere that permeates the room and seeps into your soul. Meanwhile the vocals mix whispered growls and clean, deep melodies, with both styles breathing dark thoughts and themes into your mind and breeding shadow and doubt within you. It's only about 20 minutes in total, but that should be enough to let the EP's misty aura envelope you and get you hooked on the sound. I definitely dig it - I'm going to be watching for more and digging through the earlier releases in the meantime! -Brandon

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Funeralia - Where Death Is My Hope (2017)

Record label "Moscow Funeral League" made the world a little more gloomy when they tapped a new vein of darkness out in Spain - a group by the name of Funeralia. The band's first release (a "mini-album" by their own nomenclature) is titled "Where Death Is My Hope" and it features all the joy of a dead rose on a snowy grave. We're talking about gothic death/doom with classically-inspired keys and orchestration, the kind of sound that's perfect for a romantic evening in a decrepit mansion lamenting the death of a loved one. It opens with a cold, ominous wind and a chilling piano intro before blossoming into a full-bodied, churning anguish. Piano continues throughout the piece accompanied by typical metal instrumentation and symphonic stylings, creating music that's heavy enough to wreck you, but with a strong air of sophistication. On top of this, there are the dual vocals with a gorgeous mix of agonized, rumbling death growls and angelic quasi-operatic melodies (that keep getting stuck in my head) that will make you feel as though your soul is being torn between heaven and hell while your body is trapped in a state of unending despair. The dreary tone of the songs take you on a slow venture through the graveyard, with a tragic sigh and contemplation as you look over each headstone, but if the music itself doesn't sell you on sorrow, the audio clips of thunderstorms and crying that are mixed in might. This album is melancholic to the core, but definitely worth the pain. -Brandon

Friday, February 16, 2018

Smoke - Stoned to Death (2018)

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fu Manchu - Clone of The Universe (2018)

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

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Krvshr - Night Terrors (2018)

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tentacle Wizard - Bringer of False Light (2018)

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

Friday, February 9, 2018

Rotted - Pestilent Tomb (2018)

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

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Rip VanRipper - Pars Flaccida (2018)

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

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Megaritual - Dreamfeeder (2017)

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

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Cardinal - Omut (2018)

When I first stumbled across this album on Bandcamp, I couldn't find ANY info about Cardinal - it was as though "Omut" had simply been pulled out of the abyss. Thankfully the label (Crab Stoned But Rocking) eventually put a bio up on their website, which Google then kindly translated from Russian to English, so now I know these guys are more than a sweet, dark dream. Much appreciation to all the wicked forces out in Moscow that conspired to bring Cardinal's first full-length album out to the world - this is a rocking piece of female-fronted stoner-doom with tunes that will drive into your ears and create a rhythmically churning tornado in your head! The album kicks off with a completely original rendition of "Me and the Devil Blues" from the legendary Robert Johnson. It takes the blues classic and throws it in a blender with big chunks of modern, fuzzy rock 'n' roll and sprinkles a little black magic in for flavor to create an electric stoner rock anthem. It's a good one to put up front because it sets the tone for the bluesy stoner-doom that's to come. The band doesn't hide their influences, musical or otherwise, because aside from the Robert Johnson cover, they also put a Pentagram tune on here and turned a couple of poems from Lord Byron into songs. It's clear that they've got a solid foundation of good taste! But on top of that the album's got a ton of stoner groove with some psychedelic and occult touches that come to the surface from time to time. It's definitely the kind of stuff I want to jam - this album should be heard! -Brandon

Friday, February 2, 2018

thallMOTH - ANVRF (2018)

thallMOTH is the shit! Super fuzzed out Instrumental Stonerdoom, that's slow and droney. Pretty much the antithesis of my last couple of reviews, but I don't give a fuck. It's simple, it's heavy, and the sound is super fucking thick. What is Instrumental anyway other than songs without lyrics? That's how you write a song right? Well, it's not always that simple, and I think these dudes make it work. For what it's lacking in vocals and lyrical content, they make up with ambient noises, and guitar melodies that keep things interesting without it just being too repetitious and stale.
The low end rumble on this is fucking amazing. It's a sound that I can imagine being played at an insane volume, and letting the music resonate through your flesh and bones, while you pack the next bong. "ANVRF" is definitely the kinda stoner shit that needs to be blasted. Fuck your neighbors! If they don't like it, tell them they need better taste in music! The intertwining detuned bass and guitar fuzz work as one to cast its stoner spell on the listener, keeping you locked into a trance that will leave you wanting to see this journey to its completion.
There is one song however that does have vocals, and it's the last track titled "Message from ANVRF (Black Sabbath Tribute)" and at first I was shocked to hear this. Are they really covering "War Pigs"? How could they even top Faith No More's version? Well, even though I didn't see this coming, I will say that the band doesn't play the song as a straight cover, and they definitely make it their own. At times they completely ignore the original rhythms, opting for something that seems more natural to their stream of musical flow, however you can still tell it's "War Pigs". When the vocals come in, the singer doesn't even bother emulating Ozzy, as they come up with a haunting new melody that seems even more ominous and sinister than the original. It also kills me at the same time, because now I'm a little torn! Come on guys, do an album with vocals! Not necessarily these songs, but give us something in the future! I really dug the vocals! Yeah so overall, this was very enjoyable, and I hope to hear more from thallMOTH in the future. Cheers! -Samir

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Ditch And The Delta - Hives In Decline (2017)

You can add this to my ever growing list of releases I didn't get around to reviewing last year, but better late than never I suppose. Hailing from SLC, The Ditch And The Delta deliver crushing Sludge grooves with Post Hardcore, with a pinch of Math Rock, but nothing that's too noodly to wear out its welcome. I could see this band being on tour or at least the same roster of bands that were on Hydra Head Records or Robotic Empire in the late 90's early 00's, because one they definitely share a similar sound, and two they're that good. Think Fugazi meets Mastodon or Neurosis meets Unwound. It's highly emotive but also hits you hard because they're also heavy as fuck.
I kinda peg these dudes in the same category as Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean (who I reviewed last week), as a contemporary Sludge band that's doing something a little different, and not really concerned with what everyone else is doing. This suits them well, as they stick out like a sore thumb, rather than just being another fish in the endless sea of Doom/Sludge bands. Also similarly like CTTBOTO for all of their gargantuan heavy moments, there are those moments where they tend to reach for the non-metal influences to bring something interesting into the mix. The strings are burly, with the distorted bass low end rumble having a menacing prominence in their overall sound. The guitar sound is detuned and thick. However, they do not shy away from the fact that they are a trio, with some melodic parts seeming sort of minimal or stripped down, to expose their numbers. This is used to the band's advantage to open up a world of different possibilities though, not limiting themselves to simple chug riffs, or drone doom power chords. Then there is the blanket of shouted vocals, which adds that layer of aggression and raw fury, even when the strings and the drums aren't reflecting the same irritable expressions.
Overall I really dug this. It's definitely a change of pace, and definitely something I would recommend to those who are looking for something that's a little different than the Sludge bands in the underground right now. I'm definitely into the bands that are knockoffs of others, especially if they sound like Eyehategod or Grief. However, I feel like for every ten of those, we need a band like The Ditch And The Delta around, so things don't get too stale or redundant. Cheers! -Samir