A Journey to the 4 corners of the Firmament with Firmam3mt
Whoa, that’s what I found myself saying after listening to this Quartet of instrumentalists from Madrid known as Firmam3nt and their “Self Titled” Debut Album. In just 4 songs ‘North,’ ‘East’, ‘West’, and ‘South’ I felt as if I had traveled the globe. I don’t know if travel is the theme of the band’s album but with the four cardinal directions as the name to their songs and it’s big sweeping sound that creates an auditory Panorama, it seems like the theme fits.
Unlike some bands that concentrate on lead guitar and vocals it seems to me Firmam3nt is a band that takes a different approach to their craft. As all quality instrumentalists, the band approaches their music from another angle by trading off leads between the drums, bass, and guitars with amazing affect. My favorite is ‘West’ which seems to use the Bass as the foundation of the song. While you can get this album on Bandcamp at “Name Your Price,” I would encourage you to pay for the download or buy their CD at €8 or more because these guys are tight. Highly Recommended!!
Slovak Metal Army: March 3rd, 2017 (Digital); 3/15/17 (CD)
Have you ever heard of Vranov and Topľou? Yeah, me neither. Well, it just so happens to be a city/district in Eastern Slovakia. A little more research yielded that it certainly appears to be a beautiful, historical and culturally rich place to reside in. With all of this to offer, what exactly brings such skull-hammering anthems of darkness out of Brute?
If you guessed I didn’t know, you were right, but whatever motivates their aggression, I’m all for it. Don’t be fooled by the album’s angelic, dreamy intro (‘The Last Feelings’) one bit, because it’s a quick, deceptive lull followed by thirty-five plus minutes of insanity. But happily, to my surprise, the trip is anything but one-dimensional. Instead, the seven tracks offer a convincing mix of death metal stylings- Russian blast, the chug and groove of Sweden, the grind of 90’s Earache, and most importantly, the complex melody shifts/moods of legend Chuck Schuldiner. Add a nice production to the mayhem and you have an impressive package.
Fans of Entombed, Carcass, Brutal Truth, Death and such, should be well-pleased to add this to their listening heap. A versatile exploration of extremities guaranteed to turn your neck vertebrae to powder. You’ve been warned, and hopefully, enticed as well.
MAIRA hails from Austria, a country known for music and architecture. MAIRA’s music is built upon a post-rock/blackgaze foundation that leads the listener through various musical landscapes. They take their name from Greek mythology. MAIRA was the hound of Icarios and Erigone. Upon Icarios’ death, Maira stayed by his master’s grave until he starved himself, later becoming the constellation known as Sirius. MAIRA’s music is subtly engaging and certainly takes you on an ethereal journey.
Their EP consists of two songs. First on offer is ‘EOS.’ This track opens mostly with a spoken word dialog asking the listener if they know what lies beyond their mental capabilities. This sets up the rest of the track which slowly, yet effortlessly builds from a soft shoegaze feel to a more post-rock/blackgaze offering similar to Godspeed You!Black Emperor. The change seems effortless, and by the time you reach the end of this musical journey, you’re left wondering how you got there. Vocals are kept to a minimum which enables the song to be more expressive. There is a slight jazz feel to this tune as well with its change in rhythm and harmony shifts.
Track two, “ATE,” is a more up tempo offering with lyrics taking a more up front seat. Their bio states that this release “tells about our society and the fast-moving time in which we live” and this song surely encompasses that feel. The guitars, courtesy of Reini and Max, create a surreal landscape. Johannes drumming is expressive and Mario’s bass lines create a subtle backbone to the offering, even though it likely should have been more prominent in the mix. There is a lyric in this song that says “I won’t swallow what you feed me”, however, I am sure enjoying this musical nourishment.
MAIRA has provided a strong, yet short, first effort with this EP. Their Austrian musical architecture positively shining throughout this cheerful yet captivating celestial adventure. I do believe I have taken a glance beyond my mental capabilities. Here’s hoping we hear more from them soon.
Season of Mist – Release Date: February 24th, 2017
Presented as a meticulously honed movement of ripping riffs, rib-cage rattling groove, intricate solo progressions and a sludge/doom vocal line sprayed out with pure punk bluster, this Welsh four-piece offers their sophomore release containing nine tracks of some of the most ferocious time shifts twisting around the hammering double six-string assault that rides the writhing body of the bottom end to the soulful wails that captivates you to savor each second in anticipation of the next. From the first second of opener ‘Fortune Favors The Insane’ to the cymbal fade at the end, the tone is set, the bar has been raised and there is zero doubt the guys in HARK are not fucking around. ‘Disinigrate’ is full on, heart-ripping-from your-chest heavy for the whole 6-minutes plus, followed by ‘Nine Fates’ that comes at you with a slower progression that is almost misleading as the speed-shift exactly one minute in takes you by the collar and forces you to run to keep up before the screaming solo leads into the verse of this runaway train. ‘Speak In Tongues’ wastes no time using the utmost jazz tinged time-sig’s that would make even LARS ULRICH nervous, creating the heaviest staggered timeline I have heard in ages and not a beat is dropped or lost beginning to end while the brutality is kept intact, even as twisted keyboards seem to weave in and out of the screaming solo sections; truly an amazing feat with this one keeping that timeline smooth as glass.
‘Transmutation’ is more to the point rock-n-roll right on time and there is no stopping the head-banging along while you grind right along with, as does ‘Son Of Pythagoras’ showing HARK flexing the might they have brought forth with this record.
The last three tracks, to my ears, seemingly tie together as an opus in and of itself and I have a feeling if ‘Premonitions,’ ‘Comnixant 3-0’ and ‘The Purge’ are included in the live set, they are presented in this order. Pulling out all stops and utilizing everything they showed in each previous track is brought to the table here with the galloping drums sporting more of those fills from hell to the-thunder-on-the-under to those insanely swirling guitar lines that envelop each lyric in the perfect vessel.
When asked to describe their ethos, the answer given was:
“Fingers to the bone. That has been one of our motto since HARK’s inception, and it carried us through to the recording studio. We push ourselves in all kinds of ways, and that commitment resonates throughout.” As this release shows, in every way imaginable, THIS is how you ‘do it’… they will be touring Europe this Spring, support them if they come to your area and GET THIS RECORD the second you can!!
Pete August: Guitar
Vinnie Fiore: Drums
Jerry Jones: Vocals
Joe Laga: Guitar
Jesse Marianni: Bass, Keys
Hometown; New Jersey
Super Snake were Born in 2012 and were baptized in the waters of psyched-out post-whatever!! “Rock ‘n’ Roll Mind Control via a mouthful of psychedelics washed down with ten beers while listening to Black Sabbath and the dirtier parts of Sonic Youth. ”
This being the first full length release, opener and title track ‘Leap Of Love’ sets a pace for the album that those unaware of SUPER SNAKE will have a quick idea of what they are in for with this album. Super Snake has certain flavor the band describes as “…a Ouija board chopped up into little pieces, made into kindling, stuffed into your pipe.” This is pretty much what you get, from the first line about how ‘Sometimes they never get your name right…’ and PUNCH the double guitar assault hits and bowl is lit as the first break shifts to a dream/nightmare state as you follow the mix of cascading sounds swirling over each other until that double-six hits again. ‘Lie4U’ is the perfect 21st century anti-love song ripping forth with lyrics steeped in questioning and declaration like ‘I’d lie for you, even if you wouldn’t’ and a ghostly-mixed vocal rolling left and right as the solos whip back and forth to the end. ‘Hot Pavement’ begins with a measure of high bends and the rest hit after a measure, slower paced than we have been so far but still rolling along making your head bounce in time where ‘Spirit Cave’ has a 70’s wah-pedal rolling along with a stoner’s wet-dream of flow-along on this air stream vapor feel through the seven and a half minute ride along this tale of two. No break between, ‘Lavish Sum Of Dread’ comes in with a drum line filling the air as the perfect pace for this tale of a ‘Sunday thrill for one’ as described in what has become comfortable this voice that never quite fades out as it shifts speed and pitch. Standout ‘Sister Margaret’ wastes no time in the perfect headbanger 4/4 time signature with the mystic-sounding keys lilting between the melodies that keep winding around as so much smoke in a room surrounding the bodies bouncing along. ‘Dreamcoated’ give a quick four-click heads-up before it’s sonic blast rips the paint off the walls, ‘Too Late Who Cares’ instead is a full-on SONIC YOUTH/UNDERNEATH WHAT recipe of swirling lights melting into the walls and it makes sense. ‘Get Lost Be Mine’ has a blues-fueled bounce while ‘Cecelia’ reeks of Mississippi mud with the chugging single guitar jag. ‘Big Seize’ has a cleaner guitar tone that we tend to hear a lot out of New jersey but with a punch that is often lacking for whatever reason, switching to pure crunch across all strings as we slide onto a stellar solo that bridges the mid section across to the screams that come in and grab the frontal cortex while the drummer kicks into overdrive and everything is back to swirling together. Next enters ‘Take My Breath’ kicks in in true psychedelic bliss, clouds of varying colors circling like so much bong smoke to the end showing a band that is ready to make a stand and have accomplished their goal with this record.
Super Snake in a live setting would have to be insane if they can deliver the intensity of each song on this record and I have no doubt that they can and MORE… buy the album, support the live venues and let’s get these guys to your town and mine!!
Push play, lean back, fade in feedback, growing louder until the enormity of the music hits you HARD between the ears, and the assault is upon you, no turning back. Dubuque, Iowa is the base of operations for this two man powerhouse band that classifies themselves as a stoner/doom band. Wielding a drop-tuned seven string guitar and a five-piece drum kit, Anthony Dreyer and Alex Baumann have come together from the wasteland of cornfields and snowstorms to give us their first offering “Abominable” and have released two videos in support before the March 2017 release date as well. Eight songs tie together forty one minutes of some of the richest and flat-out HUGE sounding songs to come from two guys in my memory!!
Lead-off and title track ‘Abominable’ starts off just as described and let’s you know from the beginning that these two are serious and they are not fucking around either. ‘Electronaut’ continues in this same vein, the missing bass player not even looked for with the low end rumble of that drop-tuned seven string more than making up in complexity of progressions and outboard gear, creating a sense of multiple players. ‘Stoned And Feathered’ is even more brutal, hammering with a might and power that looms unstoppable until the last minute when there is a shift to a softer tone that becomes the intro to ‘Colossus’ and has a more staggered pace with power riffs and ultra time shifts and shows them flexing the doom/stoner hybrid colors with a mastery that is seemingly rare for a first recorded outing and this almost nine-minute instrumental shows the muscle behind.
Not a lot of info available about this band beyond their Facebook presence but as tight as they are together on this record, it would seem apparent they have been perfecting this for some time. ‘Lightbearer’ starts off with the traditional four-clicks of the sticks before this ‘running’ guitar line slips behind and pushes you down he road before you know what just hit you. Halfway through we enter the psychedelic portion of our program filled with the mystical that fades off into the intro to ‘Apophis’, a section that lets the doom feel come back in full force, lumbering along for less than two minutes before ‘Beneath The Black Sun’ takes hold with a complex weaving of loopy guitar and drum-line flying together, leading down yet another path of musical prowess shimmering with the power and might that lofts off into another fade off that ties ‘Himalayan Hymn’ completing what is a seemingly endless four part jaunt with no words necessary to convey the story, using only an insane complexity in time and structure to create this journey into the world they have created and taken us into the heart of. Suddenly, the music stops and just as you are thinking you have reached the end, there is a subtle spinning sound fading off and then it is indeed done. This forty one minute offering has reached it’s end and the ride has come to a close. This last four piece section in particular tells me that seeing these two live would be the ultimate medium to experience this melding of minds in to get the complete effect and I encourage you to do just that!!
WASTED THEORY ANNOUNCES DEFENDERS OF THE RIFF TOUR 2017
American Weed Rockers Wasted Theory are about to hit the road and have announced a North American tour for the Spring of 2017, with several heavy rock masters in alliance such as Wo Fat, Freedom Hawk, and ZED for select dates, as well as local support acts. In promotion of their second full length album Defenders Of The Riff (released 10/2016 on No Slip Records), Wasted Theory’s tour kicks off on April 14th in Wilmington, DE at the Oddity Bar.
Playing select dates from April to June, they’ll trek through 14 states, from Texas to Michigan, coming back around to the current final date in the federal capital Washington, DC on June 10th.
In addition, Wasted Theory recently world-premiered via Facebook their first video from the ‘Defenders of the Riff’ album, for the song “Black Witch Blues“. Self-produced and even filmed by the band themselves, it was shot entirely on an iPhone and created for less than 20 bucks. If you dig dirty rock n’ roll, bikers, black magic, and devil women then you’ll dig this: https://www.facebook.com/wastedtheoryband/videos/1081054325354080/
(w/Kingsnake, Backwoods Payback, 91’s)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ
(w/Kingsnake, Solace, Backwoods Payback)
(w/Foghound, Serpents Of Secrecy, Horseburner, King Giant)
Wasted Theory was born in July 2012, and raised in the Northern Mid-Atlantic salty air states of Delaware and Maryland. Fronted by Larry Jackson, Jr. on vocals and lead guitar, Brendan Burns on drums, bassist Rob Michael, and rhythm guitarist Dave McMahon, this heavy rock outfit conjures inspiration from several of the most hard hitting, dirty blue collar, beefed up rock n’ roll acts of the past 40 years. With influences like Artimus Pyledriver, Corrosion of Conformity, and Nazareth, the result is a guaranteed truck-ton of boot stomping heavy music.
Released in October 2016, “Defenders of the Riff” is a behemoth of testosterone-driven, southern fuzzed biker rock. With accolades pouring in from every heavy rock and metal music enthusiast to catch whiff of Wasted Theory’s riffs, they’re wasting no time in getting back on the road. Catch Wasted Theory on tour in 2017, and get your metal hordes ready for American weed rock’s Defenders of the Riff.
Hailing from a state known for the invention of the solid-body electric guitar, some of the most notorious serial killers, five-month long ruthless winters and more bars than churches, ATTALLA doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. Starting in late 2012 in Oshkosh Wisconsin, with roots in punk and hardcore, its members applied their DIY ethos to a style of music that had fueled their earlier endeavors but had yet to be fully harnessed. Drawing influences from Black Sabbath to Black Flag, ATTALLA trudges forward, spreading their strain of rock’n’roll to future sufferers of tinnitus. Set for release 3-24-17, “Glacial Rule” is the second release from ATTALLA that features Cody Stieg – Lead Guitar/Vocal, Brian Hinckley – Rhythm Guitar, Bryan Kunde – Bass and James Slater – Drums and was funded by the band themselves, no kickstarter nonsense for these guys, again, keeping with that DIY mindset.
Opener ‘Butte Des Morts’ comes on strong out of the gate, thick bass and dual guitars pounding along with drums as heavy and resonating as any stoner/doom/punk hybrid can deliver forcing your head to move in reflex as the tone is set and the pace unrelenting throughout the three minutes of pure musical muscle flexing until Cody’s voice comes at you like you are in CBGB’s during the NY hardcore days of the early 90’s. It feels like home through the soloing that carries you to the pause that, stops and then one measure more and ‘Ice Harvest’ starts with the ultra-distorted guitar that has become prevalent and runs for 5 full measures before the rest of the band joins in with a staggered drum line and slurred sliding chords that threaten to slam you into the wall and blow your eardrums in the ‘cold of the night, and traps your soul under ice.’ The vocal delivery sounds stripped down to the core and suits this song perfectly, translating the feeling of the cold that creeps into everything when it gets THAT cold. Having lived in that region myself, I could almost hear the air freezing as it does when. Almost nine minutes long, this opus delivers as promised from the first note to the last and ‘Valderan’ is the perfect ‘next’ track. ‘Black Wolf Rituals’ is perfect from the lone guitar progression that carries the first measure and into the rest of the band jumping right on with this sludge-fest of lumbering bass tones and harmonic squeals. The entire body of this track has that thickness to it again that we started with and is heavy enough the walk on as you follow each word across the ethereal pulsing of the notes that seemingly carry you along above the frozen wasteland below and then ‘Devil’s Lake’ comes in at double the speed complete with a searing solo as in your face as you could want it that same pace dropping to half time as the first word escapes.
If you have been to this particular location, this dirge describes the hill climbs and trails leading to the water itself almost too well making the images described almost surreal for me as I have been to the water and know the legends and tales contained there in. Title track and album closer ‘Glacial Rule’ starts off soft and slow until you suddenly hear two different droning ‘bees’ enter slowly from the background and take full volume as the power chords during the staccato pace put forth for this seven minute plus tome that delivers all elements of the previous five songs into one more glorious composition that is the complete package that ATTALLA has become with “Glacial Rule.” Grab your copy of this one as soon as released and if you get the chance, go support them in a live setting!!
Eternal Rituals For the Accretion of Light – Vinyl / CD / DD
Prosthetic Records – Release Date: March 3rd 2017
I’ve most likely stated before that it’s impossible to hear every single album ever within the course of one’s lifetime. If I haven’t put forth that less-than-bold proclamation prior, straight from my personal manifesto, I’m glad that we’re remedying the situation right now. I feel it is a really pertinent point that comes up quite often in my mundane, so-called life. All too frequently in conversation, someone mentions a song, album or artist, and it’s completely off my sonic sonar. The people in the conversation are taken aback that I’m not faintly familiar with that of which they so intimately speak. Often even, something that’s been repeatedly suggested to me as an obscure, long-lost holy grail album or just something that I’m going to completely dig on with my wig on, I’ve added it to the growing mental bucket list of cool shit to check out, and just never gotten around to following up. Either way, this inevitably leads to confusion, disbelief, hostility, malevolence and outright violence in close conjunction with the aforementioned conversations: all things that I’d rather avoid if at all possible.
Believe it or not, this does directly relate to my so-called relationship with the band Junius. I had never heard of them until quite recently. I discovered them through a happy accident involving chlorine bleach and ammonia, among other household chemicals. I have the bomb squad and the poison control center on speed dial for times like this when my MacGyver moments go horribly wrong.
Okay….none of that is true, but it would be a whole lot cooler if it were.
I stumbled upon Junius when I was checking out the lineup for the Roadburn Festival a few years back, and gazing upon that glorious lineup, I noticed two things: that the bands were getting more and more diverse, and that I had never heard of a good many of them. Wait for it….because it’s impossible for me to hear every band in my lifetime. For some odd reason, I had an immediate impulse to take some action right then and there. I decided to investigate some of these bands. Looking at the list, I picked Junius out of the crowd because it sounded like a cool name for a band, and I simply Googled them. The Googles told me many things. Lo and behold, they’d been around since 2003, and they were from Boston, Massachusetts, where I often attended shows yet had never seen nor heard of them. The Googles also told me that they apparently sounded like a cross between The Smiths and Neurosis, which sounded friggin’ cool enough to peak my interest and intrigue my eardrums. I checked out their debut album, The Martyrdom Of A Catastrophist, and I was suitably blown away enough to immediately order it on shiny golden vinyl. Thus began my love affair with Junius. Indeed, there was much to love and adore: the moody yet romantic goth-inspired croonings of singer/guitarist Joseph E. Martinez, the heavy guitar riffs interlaced with pulsing keyboards and throbbing rhythms, just all the right elements that combine the gloomy aesthetic of post-punk with the forward thinking intellectualism of post-rock.
The next step in our relationship was obvious: I needed to check out their second full length, the beguilingly titled Reports From The Threshold of Death. It expanded upon the strengths of the debut and also showed more depth and diversity in songwriting and influence. I was even further enamored, and took to bringing their various LP’s to bed with me, much to either the chagrin or delight of my other romantic partners. Fast forward to January 2016, when Junius announced they were working on a third album, and I prepared myself for yet another stage of our ongoing tryst. Now here we are on the eve of that album’s arrival, entitled Eternal Rituals For The Accretion Of Light. I can confidently state that this is my favorite Junius album, and when the vinyl is available, I will certainly be indulging in more ways than one.
For me, this album is their high point of artistry: every song just oozes with vividly oppressive, looming darkness, yet never gets bogged down in tangible malice or mere nihilism because of the music’s over-arching transcendent themes, intensely introspective lyrics, and ever-present haunting melodic fancies. From the opening synth swells and tribal drums to the final hypnotic reverberated chants, the album is just a tour de force trip through the dizzying depths of human emotion. The moody, longing key shifts of the first track, “March Of The Samsara,” sounds like Hum on a serious and prolonged Joy Division bender with its constant layering and interplay of guitar and keyboard, while the second song, “Beyond The Pale Society” starts off with more frenetic rhythms and urgent textures before settling into a stoic new wave template and climaxing with a soaring, anthemic chorus. The third song, “A Mass For Metaphysicians”, features lushly alluring croons leading eventually to more aggressive vocal shouts, and when these are combined with the constant barrage of down-tuned guitar chords, it’s heavily reminiscent of the Deftones’ finest alt-metal moments.
The fourth song, “Clean The Beast”, continues in the tradition of the last, and has the album’s most extreme vocals juxtaposed with clever octave guitar licks and slices of keyboard bliss. “All That Is, Is Of The One” is a short ambient interlude that gives some breathing room before the arpeggiated introduction of “The Queen’s Constellation”, a clever and catchy synth part that thematically repeats itself throughout the course of the tune. This song has quite a number of twists and turns, and it’s a highlight for me personally. “Telepaths And Pyramids” is up next, a more sullen and subdued affair that places brilliantly layered keyboards and vocals at the forefront, and spaciously uses the guitars and rhythm section more for emphasis. “Masquerade In Veils” is another high point, a shorter, mostly acoustic number with monotone goth rock vocals delivered in a gloomy baritone. A more upbeat affair, “Heresy Of The Free Spirit” is the ninth track. It’s a song that makes great usage of repetition, drilling particular melodies and vocal lines into the listener’s eager brain. The closer, “Black Sarcophagus” is another of my favorite songs from the album. It begins with a slow burning meditation of sound that builds with each passage, gradually peaking with an awesome crescendo of bleak guitar repetitions, drums, synthesizer drones and eerie chants.
This is a serious early contender for my album of the year. I can really appreciate what this band is doing in terms of a sweeping, grandiose artistic vision; their reverent attention to detail is startling and inspiring. Although they’re obviously drawing on elements and influences from past decades, Junius are ambitious and innovative. This is a release well worth checking out in my opinion, as it’s not the run of the mill rock or metal coming out these days. It’s an intelligent and forward thinking amalgam of diverse influence that brings vibrant color to even the darkest of pallets. Perhaps there’s a very good reason for this. Rather than copying the styles of whatever heavy music trend is currently in vogue, then rushing to release albums and spending months on end touring, Junius have taken their time on crafting their unique sound and their albums, often first flushing out new ideas in the form of shorter EP’s, and they tour only sparsely. I know that the conventional wisdom is that a band needs to release an album every two years and spend at least 300 days of one of those years touring to support said album if they want to be “successful.” Sure, there are bands that do that, and I’m not trying to take anything away from them. However, in my mind, there’s a big different between a successful band and a successful artist.
Nuclear Blast Records – Release Date: February 10, 2017
You can count on three things in life: Death, Taxes, and if you haven’t guessed already, OverKill. From 1983’s “Power In Black” demo right up until this very minute, no thrash band, and I mean not a one, has been as consistent and true to their roots as the NJ outfit has. They are just incapable of making a truly bad record. Now, even though the band is largely uncompromising, that by no means indicates they’re standing still. They had the classic Megaforce /Atlantic Records era, filled with youthful, fire-breathing slammers, the decade plus middle run that incorporated chug and groove into the mix, and finally, the 2010-to-now stint, returning to the full-on fury of the early days.
So, what I guess I’m trying to get at here is this- “The Grinding Wheel” finds the Kill boys running on a full head of steam. They are just as defiant and angry as they’ve ever been. The whole affair starts off with a bang, as ‘Mean, Green, Killing Machine’ builds from a rhythm section intro straight into neck-snapping velocity, then all gets nicely rounded out with some Sabbathy doom groove. ‘Our Finest Hour’ is a gut punch with plenty of the micro-second stops and swing the band has nearly patented. The ever-so-slightly slowed up ‘Come Heavy’ shows a darker, moodier side to the proceedings, but still can’t resist the urge to mash the pedal down at key intervals. These three tracks really represent the rest of the album well; the other seven tunes blend these highlighted facets just as sweetly. If you grab the limited edition, you’ll get an eleventh tune…A rousing cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Emerald’ to fatten things up. Oh, just in case you are wondering, Blitz’s contemptuous snarl and lyrical cynicism are as potent as ever.
I love when the old guard shows the youngsters how it should be done, and “The Grinding Wheel” is ass-whoppin’ evidence to back such a perception. OverKill has been around as long as “The Big Four” and this record is proof-positive that sales or commercial popularity will never outshine integrity.