Album Review – All Them Witches “Sleeping Through The War”

ALL THEM WITCHES –

Sleeping Through The War – Vinyl / CD / DD

New West Records – Release Date: February 24th, 2017

 

Born January 6, 2012, ALL THEM WITCHES brings a mixture of fuzzed out psychedelic rock, bluesy slow tempo’s filled with the depth and might of southern hard rock. Hailing from Nashville TN, this quartet is set to release their fourth full-length and if you are a fan, you will love this collection offered. If you have never heard of them before, this will serve as the perfect introduction. Eight tracks that contain some of the best to come forth from these gentlemen.

Lead off track ‘Bulls’ starts off with the clean chords taking me back to the glory days of sunshine and softness of the seventies until a minute and a half into, the distortion enters full-force. Parks’ voice offers shelter speaking of “Leaves on the promenade…” For the next almost seven minutes, you experience all facets that make ALL THEM WITCHES so listenable… again, this is just the first track and shows they will not back down as you traverse this road.

 

Logo_Release Date

 

‘Don’t Bring Me Coffee’ starts right off with Parks letting you know “Ain’t nobody gonna tell me how to run my town…” showing that he is in control and nobody better question it because “That ain’t how it’s gonna go down.” Using the backdrop of a tale of a woman coming out of his chest; ATW prove they can spin a tale as they lure you into their labyrinth of sonic bliss. ‘Bruce Lee’ / ‘Am I Going Up’ / ‘Alabaster’ and ‘3-5-7’ are all master-tracks and let ATW flex the muscle they have been building since that fateful day in January 2012 and the might is shown throughout making you dizzy with the winding haze-filled solos and staccato drum lines seasoned with enough hallmarks of psych-rock to please the oldest tie-dye aficionado. ‘Cowboy Kirk’ starts with a standard 4-measure drum intro, setting the pace for this tale of what happened when he “Sat down in a Cantina” getting “Pretty close to havin’ fun”.

Here we have another case of the ‘last-track’ being the defining moment of what all of this meant on this record and at almost 10 minutes, there is plenty of time for Parks to tell you why he guesses he will go ‘Live on the internet’ as he states from the get-go past the Mellotron that opens this opus. “Time to go out-source lightning again” and there is much to be relayed to your waiting mind during this almost 10-minute beast into the mastery these gentlemen have offered up for our consumption.

 

Pro band shot

 

A band unlike any other out there currently and the dark mystic atmosphere shows the tireless work they continue to live while polishing up their signature sound/style as they traverse the skyline of the underground rock scene. This album shows they are ready for the big-time… let’s help them to make it happen!!

 

Words by Ric “Sui-Syko” Dorr


Album Review – Bad Guys “No More Mr. Bad Guy”

BAD GUYS 

No More Mr Bad Guy – Release date: February 2, 2017

Label: Hominid Sounds – Cassette / DD

 

“Formed through a mutual desire to play some rock music that’s not had the life squeezed out of it by some kind of poo-faced academic mangler, they make the heavy stuff and they play it loud, the way it should be.” To further quote the band, the BAD GUYS are self-described as “A midlander, a southerner, a Canadian and a Hungarian with double necks, double kicks and no mic stand. Long hair, grey hair, bald-heads and beards.” Still not intrigued? Read on…

From all accounts this is the fifth/sixth and final (??) release, depending on the source, and is the epitome of what they set out to do as early as 2010, the earliest year of release I found. Clocking in at 26 minutes, there is more packed into this release than just about anything recent at double the length and serves as the perfect bookend of everything they have done up to this point.

 

Last Show Pic of Band

 

Starting off with a HIGH ON FIRE sounding drum intro before the feedback squeals keen on until the first power chord hits at 30 seconds in and you are already moving in time to the forward push through the sludge-heavy rhythm line until this tale of looming doom begins, ‘Ekranoplan’ sets the tone…BRUTAL. You better get moving or you will get your ass kicked. ‘Cordyceps’ starts off a little slower, but… wait for it… right back in your face at 200 percent with no sign of relenting.

‘Dickhed For Love’ is a modern love song as only BAD GUYS could tell it, complete with warbling solos that trips back and forth behind the self-efacing chorus.

‘Boiled Head’ is by far the one that grabbed me by the throat with the over-fuzzed everything mixed with the distorted spoken word laced with a triple dose of doom before the pounding gallop along this black road of terror. “Nothing left of you now, just a…” MC5 guitar-tones screaming in the background as you hear “Forever…” before the final fade out.

Last track and the quintessential ‘stoner’ song clocking in at exactly 4:20 is a ‘true-story or three’ as some of us can certainly testify, but would prefer not to *cough cough* and shows a supreme advancement in musicianship during the body of the entire song and the soloing particularly during the last minute plus. Would be a shame for there to not be more from the BAD GUYS, but IF not, perfect exit… stage right.

 

Band on Horse

 

Thanks to Bad Guys for 6 years of Rock ‘n Roll Bliss!!  May the Wind at Your Back be Your Own as you ride off into the Sunset or the nearest Brothel!!  Much love from Taste Nation!!

Words by Ric “Sui-Syko” Dorr


Album Review – Gravehuffer “Your Fault”

Gravehuffer

Your Fault – CD / Cassette / DD

Grind/Hardcore/Crossover/British Punk

Swamp Metal Records – Release Date: March 3, 2017

 

When most of us come across the word “retro” used to describe music, we readily think of the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, but rarely do the 90’s enter our minds – Even though the last day of the decade was over 17(!) years ago.  Of course, it surely didn’t/doesn’t help that as the new millennium loomed close, so too began the severe, still-ongoing decline of quality rock reaching the mainstream.  Joplin, Missouri’s Gravehuffer have something to say about this time frame getting thrown in the trash, and they say it convincingly.

 

Live band Pic

 

“Your Fault” exhibits few, if any, signs that it gives a damn about what is hot or happening in 2017. Throughout it’s thirty minute run time, the record never wavers from taking the 80’s D-Beat punk of GBH, Broken Bones, and Discharge and and infusing it with a strong dose of the early Earache catalog, back when they were actually presenting the most extreme music available circa the early 1990’s.  I do believe I also hear elements of Agnostic Front and the mighty Bl’ast in there too.  Add it all up and you have eleven tracks of unrelenting mayhem, smoothly delivered and more than the sum of its parts.

So, hell yeah, Gravehuffer’s latest gets a thumbs up from me. It’s kinda the musical equivalent of flicks like “Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer”– It’s not a casual, off-the-cuff experience, but when that right moment arrives, little will work better to scratch that itch.

Words by David “The Lovely” LaMay


Album Review – The Heavy Crawls “Self Titled”

THE HEAVY CRAWLS

Self Titled  – Vinyl / CD / DD

Self Released:  September 29, 2016 / Vinyl Release:  February  2017

 

The Heavy Crawls is a Ukrainian band that consists of Max Tovstyi (guitars, vocals, bass, keyboards, songwriting), Inessa Joger (drums) and Iryna Malyshevska (percussion, keyboards, backing vocals). There is no doubt that this is Max’s brainchild and this started out as a two-piece in 2013 known as The Crawls. Max and drummer Dasha Gavryliuk wrote and recorded their first song together in a two hour period. Later that year, a long-play was recorded followed by video and extensive touring which established a broadcast presence in Poland, Greece, Germany, France and the USA. 2014 brought a second LP being worked on, as well as a couple more videos and continued participation playing Ukranian festivals across the country. 2015 saw the second album’s release and while they received multiple invites to different countries to play various gigs and festivals, conflicts between Max and Dasha lead to the final decision to stop playing together. In the Autumn, Max reconnected with Iryna, whom he had previously worked in other projects with and brought in drummer Inessa to complete a new line-up. Max wrote new material and after a few rehearsals, a debut single was recorded and the name changed to THE HEAVY CRAWLS. Within days, more invites from promoters and they went on the biggest tour in the history of the band.

2016 saw the third long-play finished, this being the first one from this incarnation and it has been long in coming to this point. Citing tons of 70’s icons as influences, there is no doubt they have been fed the cream from HENDRIX to LYNYRD SKYNYRD showing moments of stoned-bliss blues/psych switching to flat out rock bravado in the blink of an eye… and it WORKS!!

 

Vinyl Package

 

Beginning with ‘No Longer Mine’, this 10 song offering will get your head nodding in time from the first cymbal crash to the last minute when tempo shifts to a pace that makes you want to stand and move, getting almost frantic by the last measure and you are hit immediately with this fuzzed out intro as ‘Do You Feel My Love’ begins, smoldering solo intact that goes down like delicious ice-cold Yoo-hoo.

‘She Said I Had To Wait’ shows that multi-tracked vocals as back-ups still maintain that specific sound that Max has dialed in as how he wants this to sound as he mixes and produces it all, demonstrating his many talents and then gears shift dramatically with ‘I Had To Get Away’ using a distorted loopy slide progression as the body of this song mixed with a staccato drum-line that fits seamlessly. I kept thinking of legends CHRISTIAN DEATH with Max’ delivery, almost strained and reverb saturated. ‘One Of A Kind’ shows that they can pull of a ballad as easily as ‘Friday, 13th’ shows the ability to pull off something that could be off of the newest BRANT BJORK album without a whisper, while ‘Girl From America’ lets you know they can be as “kitchy” as the rest, with no limits in the way.

Max is certainly the captain of this rocket as he takes the seat at the kit on ‘Too Much Rock’n’Roll’, the fastest song contained, while ‘Burns Me From Inside’ starts off with a BAND OF GYPSIES style slow bass-line immediately joined by a guitar progression that is enough to make you think that maybe the spirit of HENDRIX is coursing in and out of Max’ fingertips during this 8-minute plus sojourn.

 

Live Band Shot

 

The one that kept me coming back over and over is ‘Backseat Blues’ and the second that glass-slide starts ripping up and down, I felt like they had come to my house in the South (USA) and levitated out of the water in my backyard. There is such a genuine American blues feel all the way through, switching to a more southern-rock sound for the last minute plus and, again, seamless is the only word to really describe the shift.

So after 10 compositions of tracks that could each stand on their own, the only question left for me is “When will I get the chance to see them do it LIVE??”  I hope the answer is a resounding SOON!!

Words by Ric “Sui-Syko” Dorr


Album Review – Crippled Black Phoenix “Bronze”

Crippled Black Phoenix

Bronze – Vinyl / CD / DD

Season of Mist – Released: April 11, 2016

 

So how often can a drummer for one(or two) already established and killer band break away and do something that is unexpected, something unique and able to stand on it’s own two feet? Not often. Hell I can’t think of anyone besides Dave Grohl or Phil Collins, who have pulled it off successfully. Well now we have Justin Greaves, skin beater for Electric Wizard and Iron Monkey, who with his project Crippled Black Phoenix, have created in their latest album ‘Bronze’ what can be considered a contemporary exploration of mood and atmosphere.

 

Cool Band Pic
This is no collection of 3 minute dittys designed for ass shaking, no, this is an album that demands your time and attention. An album not to be taken lightly, it makes you want to experience it as a whole, even though it works song to song as well. Hearkening back to some of the most relevant bands and albums of the early to mid seventies, this UK Octet, crafts some of the most passionate melancholic, psychedelic stoner-prog found this side of the moon. They succeed at pulling you in to their world, a world this is terminally overcast, and weary, but a world not without emotion and, dare I say love?  Listening to this I hear Pink Floyd, I hear The Cure, I hear Muse, I hear King Crimson, I hear Mogwai. And it works. All of it.

 

I especially love the places where they take musical chances, like on the album opener which is an orchestral instrumental track led off by a passage from the beginning of Genesis. Another chance was taken with the song ‘Scared and Alone’ employing a horn section to accentuate the tired and troubled lead vocals provided by Belinda Kordic, who shines in the singular track that she takes lead vocals on. All the other tracks are sung by Daniel Anghede who at times is reminiscent of 80’s post-rock goth progenitor Peter Murphy with his deep baritone voice and delivery.

 

LIVE Band Shot_Cool

 

My favorite track on the album comes in the 7th slot titled ‘Turn to Stone’. It is a paean to every great rock song written in the Seventies, with it’s mid to slow tempo march, infectious main riff that makes you bob your head, and it’s psychedelic guitar nuances, emphasized by a vocal delivery that’s half Robert Plant half Neil young. The later part of the song is a ride out on the bridge riff, proving that there is beauty in repetition.

Elsewhere throughout the album you will find hints of organ, synthesizer and other non-standard instruments placed tastefully for maximum affect, enhancing and emphasizing the masterful songwriting.  The end result being an artful, moody collection of contemporary prog-rock songs with heart that shines brightly in a musical landscape that is all too often more of the same.

Words by Mark Aceves


Album Review – House Of Lightning – “Self Titled”

House Of Lightning – Self Titled

Self Released – Released:  December 1st 2016

 

 

First things first: let’s get Henry Wilson’s impressive resume out of the way, shall we?

Yes, he fronts House Of Lightning with his distinctive guitar and vocal stylings.  He’s drummed in legendary Florida sludge outfits Cavity and Floor, and this isn’t the first band that he’s fronted.  His previous project, Dove, put on one of the most impressive displays of live prowess that I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing.  They played on the floor at an arts space in Lowell Massachusetts, and they absolutely killed it, laying down a non-stop barrage of chunky stop-start riffs and aggressive rhythms, mixing the groove of stoner rock, the urgency and immediacy of hardcore, and topping it off with High On Fire’s undisputed desire to punish.  I will always remember that as one of the greatest live experiences of my brief and uneventful life, especially since it just came out of nowhere, these three guys playing in a relatively unknown band setting up and laying it down like their very lives depended on it, and in the process winning over a crowd that previously had very little exposure to them.  That’s how it’s done.  If you don’t have their solitary self titled release, I’d recommend at least checking it out, especially as it will give a bit of context to this review.  There are certain similarities between Dove and House Of Lightning, besides that they share a frontman, though House Of Lightning brings some rather distinctive influences and attitudes to the forefront.

 

Nuclear Image

 

I mentioned Dove’s penchant for hardcore punk, and that’s the obvious jumping off point.  Their songwriting was punctuated by stop-start rhythms, syncopation, and unexpected twists and turns in the song structures.  These are all things that are still incorporated to great effect with House Of Lightning, though there’s more of a focus on melody, particularly with the vocals.  While Dove utilized a lot of shouted and screamed vocals, all of the vocals on House Of Lightning’s second album are cleanly song, with a laid back delivery and lyrics focused on positivity, peace, and unity.  The vocals have a deliberate reggae vibe to them, as evidenced by their choice to end the liner notes of their debut record with “Thanks and praise to Jah.”  That factor combined with the rapid, thrash-inspired riffs lead me to point to The Bad Brains as the strongest and most consistent influence throughout.  Overall, the six songs on this album are even more melodic than on the debut, Lightbringer, though they’re also a bit more same-y.  There’s often not much distinguishing one song from the next, which they can get away with since the album runs just a hair over 36 minutes.  The one noticeable change of pace comes in the form of the fourth song, “Small Hours”; it’s a slower tune with guest vocals provided by Melissa Hope Friedman, who also contributes backing vocals on a couple tracks.

It’s also worth noting that House Of Lightning have added a bassist for this one – on their debut, Wilson used synthesized bass.  Fellow Floridian Eric Hernandez of the band Wrong now holds down the low end.  Drummer Rick Smith is also a new edition, hailing from the band Torche.  It seems like there’s a lot of cross-pollination going on within the Florida scene, as Jonathan Nunez, bassist for Torche, recorded this album, and it sounds terrific.  The guitars are big and beefy, yet they’ve got enough crunch to cut even when they’re chugging along at maximum velocity.  The drums are constantly in your face, and the bass has enough high end bite to accentuate some of the funkier melody lines going on underneath the mayhem.

 

Band Logo

 

I’m going to end this review by pointing out that House Of Lighning have chosen to finance and release this album by their lonesome rather than work with a label.  Self releasing is a bold move from a band whose resume sports such pedigree.  Their previous debut was released on Translation Loss Records, and I’m not sure what prompted their split with that label, or their decision to release this album themselves, when I’m sure another label would have jumped at the opportunity.  It’s a gutsy decision, though one that’s often pragmatic given our state of the music scene and economic makeup in this country.  By releasing a record themselves, artists cut out the label and directly reap the profits of their labors, though a label usually has more resources at their disposal in terms of promotion and distribution.  I bring this up because I personally think it’s important that bands put a lot of thought into their choices to work with like-minded labels when they record an album, or whether to self finance and self release their music.  Many younger bands put all of their cards into the same hat, hoping to get on the label of their dreams and sometimes subsequently taking deals that aren’t particularly in their best interests.  It’s good to see a bunch of veterans like House Of Lightning demonstrating that a truly independent release is still a viable option for any band.

Reviewed By Andy “Rama Llama Ding Dong” Beresky