New Album Review – Kingnomad “Mapping The Inner Void”

Kingnomad

Mapping The Inner Void – Vinyl / CD / DD

Ripple Music – Release Date: February 25th 2017

 

Kingnomad is a band out of northern Sweden, and they don’t really mention their actual hometown on any of their biographical information, only that they’re from a small village.  I like that, a little mystery right off the bat, especially for a band with supposed occult leanings.  I use the word “supposed” because it’s clear from this foursome’s bio that they’re a bunch of down-to-earth dudes in it for the ha-ha’s, not hardcore Satanists intent on destroying the universe by hurling curses from Ancient Grimoire of black magic.  That’s fine and dandy, though I’m not sure how many of you caught the recent blog post from the fabulous Invisible Oranges author Joseph Shafer, entitled “Ten Metal Clichés We Can Do Without.”  I’m going to doing something that I’ve never done, and link it here for posterity, because it really spoke to me: http://www.invisibleoranges.com/ten-metal-cliches-we-can-do-without/

Give it a read.  Go ahead.  You might hate the article, and you might hate me for agreeing with the vast majority of what the author has to say.  Why do I bring this up within the context of this review? Well, that’s kind of my thing, isn’t it? No album or band exists within a bubble or a vacuum, and I firmly believe that context and relevancy are extremely important.  I’m also a firm believer in the Zeitgeist, the “spirit of the age”, and if an album doesn’t in some way, shape or form speak to that spirit, then it’s simply not for me.

I may constantly chastise myself for my tangential reviews, though there’s a method to my madness.  I have two diatribes to launch into for this review, and luckily, they flow pretty well from one to the other.

 

Band shot with Ripple

 

Firstly, did you read the Invisible Oranges article?  If you’ve read some of my reviews, you’ll probably know by now that I’m highly critical of quite a number of these things listed.  I remember seeing the title of this article and thinking “Man, they had better have Satan as the number one cliché or I’m going to be extremely disappointed in humanity.”  Thank you, Invisible Oranges, for delivering the goods – I’ve had enough disappointments with the whole of humanity as of late.

Kingnomad manage to encapsulate and incorporate three of the items on the cliché list: Black Sabbath worship, Satan, and Cthulhu.  I’d like to emphasize that the aforementioned article calls for moderation and thoughtfulness, a “less is more” approach rather than an outright abolition of some of metal’s most traditionally treasured golden calves and sacred cows.  I could use plenty of examples from occultism and esoteric traditions to illustrate the validity of this argument, though I’ll instead drudge up one from contemporary popular culture.  In the Star Wars mythos, one of the main ideological differences between the Jedi and the Sith is their interpretation of the Force, beyond the light and dark sides of it.  The Jedi believe that the Force is like a candle, and that a bright burning flame can be used to light many more candles, while the Sith believe that the Force is more like venom, and to spread it out too thinly is to dilute its potency.  When it comes to metal, I’d have to agree with the Sith on this one.  The reason that lyrical subject matters that are traditionally held as taboo carry so much weight and power is their relative scarcity.  It’s the fact that they’re not the norm that makes them so alluring.  The ritualistic and artistic deconstruction of societal barriers releases a wave of liberating cultural energy that can be harnessed into transformative effects.  That’s the basis for a whole system of esoteric practice that’s intrinsically linked to metal, The Left Hand Path (let’s save that particular can of worms for another review, though it is worth mentioning here).  However, as these themes become overused and ubiquitous, they lose their ability to shock and awe; their potency is diluted.  They cease to be the language of counterculture, heterodoxy and ultimately liberation, and instead become the manifestation of a mindless adherence to a tired and cliched orthodox blueprint.  Anything that holds the potential for liberation also carries with it the threat of oppression when it transitions from the realms of the fantastic and abnormal into just another lame-and-tame inevitability of the mundane world.

 

Pro Band Shot

 

In that regard, Kingnomad are not one of the more egregious offenders, as their references to Lovecraft and Lucifer His Dark Majesty are used sparingly and light-heartedly.  The band openly admits that they’re in it for the fun, and that’s just fine with me.  Ghost set the stage for the whole “Scooby Doom” school of metal, and it looks like the good times are here to roll.  As far as the Black Sabbath worship, well…. if you’re playing metal and feel like you’re not indebted and influenced by The Sabs, then you’re doing it wrong.  I’ve attempted to defy the unquestioned supremacy of Sabbath for many years now, to cast doubt on their reign in hopes of finding other worthy usurpers to the crown who’ve lurked in their shadows, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Black Sabbath are kings, lords and masters wherever The Heavy is concerned.  This you can trust.  Plenty of their contemporary proto-metal protégées from the late 60’s and early 70’s left their marks and signposts, though none blazed a trail the way that Ozzy and crew did from the moment that the iconic tri-tone of their title track was committed to tape.

On Mapping The Inner Void, Kingnomad mine the Sabbath treasure troves for what that they’re worth, though their incorporation of the more psychedelic elements of bands like Witch and Mammatus sets them in a place firmly above a mere Sabbath clone.  They’ve got more of that indie rock vibe that started creeping in from the neo-psych movement that Dead Meadow brought to the forefront of the stoner scene.  They’re able to use some of those fuzzy, major key riffs that Dead Meadow pulled off with such poise on their debut and also dive into some of the more nuanced, layered sounds that made Feathers such a breakthrough album.  They’re also going for some of the pop hooks and harmonized vocals that turned Ghost and Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats songs into such mesmerizing ear candy.

Herein lies my second tangent, which is the continued resistance to the melding of the metal and indie worlds.  I bring this up because Kingnomad wisely call themselves “doom rock”, rather than doom metal.  This may seem like a small distinction, though it’s a very important detail to some.  Metal carries with it a sense of tradition that lends itself to puritanism, while rock is more open ended.  I’m a pragmatist who also doesn’t like to falsely advertise; if you’re a traditionalist or purist who is turned off by the bands that I’ve name dropped above, then this album very well may not be for you.  I personally have never been turned off by indie rock getting its proverbial peanut butter mixed in with metal’s chocolate.  I’m a steadfast believer in one of the central themes of the Russian dramatist Anton Chehkov’s continual literary themes: that art needs new forms.

 

Great Live Pic

 

With two tangents down, it’s time to get this review back on track and talk about the music itself.  Kingnomad write slow to mid-paced fuzz-fests characterized by an overall ethereal vibe.  All the songs have a delightful other-worldliness, from the juxtaposition of super saturated and squeaky clean guitar tones, to the wispy vocal delivery and the smidgens of choice samples from horror movies that the band laces into their songs.  There’s some cool synth sounds too, which I’m always a sucker for.  There are seven songs total; the entire album clocks in at just under 40 minutes, so it’s the perfect length for vinyl, and it won’t test either your attention span or your patience.  All the songs are good, distinctive and memorable, making for a inclusive and cohesive listening experience that deepens with repeat listens.  I don’t really have a favorite song, though ‘Nameless Cult’ certainly burrowed its way through the canals of my inner ear and lodged itself unwittingly into my memory with its haunting chords and major key dalliances.  Similarly, the closing track, and the longest of the album, ‘The Waiting Game’ is also a highlight in its epic take on heavy psych rock freak-outs.  Even the shortest track, the instrumental interlude ‘Whispers From R’Lyeth’ confidently stands on its own strengths.  This is fine album in my eyes, especially for a debut.

In case you haven’t noticed, I also have a penchant for offering constructive criticism when I think that it’s pertinent.  With that being said….guys, keep it fun and keep it fresh as you move forward with your musical career.  This is an extremely imaginative release, and you’re going to have to up the ante on your next one to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.  Look into all the weird fiction that’s out there beyond the wall of sleep.  There are lots of great anti-heroes that you can draw upon for inspiration besides The Adverse One.  Keep drinking your beer and writing your riffs, because you’re obviously onto something, and no one can take that away from you, not even me with my feeble pen and polished words.

Reviewed by Andy “Esteban Dinger” Beresky


New Album Review – Kreator “Gods of Violence” (Japanese Edition)

Kreator

Gods Of Violence (Japanese Edition) – Vinyl / CD / DD

Nuclear Blast Records – German Thrash Metal

Release Date: January 27, 2017

 

“The Big 4 Of Thrash” has never been a term I give any merit into. None. It’s based on record sales/public acceptance far more than overall quality of output and integrity. If that wasn’t the case, so many bands are realistically more deserving and would get their due, and Germany’s Kreator ranks extremely high on the list for proper candidates. Don’t think so? Then you must not have heard their latest, “Gods Of Violence”.

 

Gods of Violence_Release Info

 

Quite simply, “Gods” may just be the band’s best work in their 35 years of existence. The previous three albums to it have been really excellent, but this trip around actually manages to surpass them in terms of intensity and musicianship. Grandiose intro “Apocalypticon”, complete with choirs, marching drums, orchestration and melodic guitar overlays, strong implicates something epic is soon to come. And does it ever! Starting with “World War Now” and completing with bonus closer “Earth Under The Sun”, the listener is thrown back in a sonic blast that is amazing in its heaviness, songwriting and versatility. While smoothly executed speed with snarling, intense vocals is the overall order of the day,  all tracks have plenty of dynamics, be it an acoustic intro/section, flawless time/tempo shifts, or devastating guitar leads and solos of impeccable melody. Every track, without exception, has a clear identity of it’s own, yet taken as complete work, each fits together nicely to create a unified package. Accomplishing that in any genre is an admirable task, and rightfully so.

Dare I say that Mille, Ventor and company have created a bona fide thrashterpiece? Damn right I do. If I had 10 thumbs, they’d all be up. Either get this into your collection or just admit you aren’t really a metal fan after all.  A bold statement for an equally bold platter.

Words by David “The Lovely” LaMay


New Album Review – My Sleeping Karma “Mela Ananda – Live”

MY SLEEPING KARMA 

Mela Ananda – Live – Vinyl / DVD / CD / DD

Napalm Records – Release Date: 2/24/2017 

 

Aschaffenburg, Germany is home to the four men that make up MY SLEEPING KARMA. The town is located in the southwest part of Germany, 41 kilometers (25 mi) southeast of Frankfurt, Aschaffenburg lies in the far northwest of the state of Bavaria. This is referenced only to give you an idea of where they hail from and give some perspective into these master musicians that proclaim they are “Not beginners or amateurs and when they take the stage, you will forget everything around you as they take you by the hand into the deepest, hidden corners of your soul” enquote. Tough to imagine from a band that has potato chips showing as the band interest and list SLAYER as another band they love…

 

Band Live Pic

 

Five studio albums later, beginning in 2006, sporting two singles and an appearance on Napalm Record’s Christmas compilation, MY SLEEPING KARMA has put together a ‘Greatest Hits’ of sorts ranging from the first self-titled 6-track record all the way through to 2015’s release “Moksha” and the result – “Mela Ananda Live,” is simply stellar!!  Classifying their musical style as a conglomeration of Psychedelic / Stoner / Instrumental / Space / Progressive Rock, it is awe-inspiring how they move between lush almost-jazz tempered cool into near metal-thundering riffs ripping through you, never dropping a beat throughout this 68-minute beast, traversing of what can best be described as inner catacombs.  Each track exposing its own light across the shifting shadows of drums / bass / keyboards and guitar, keeping your attention as you hear every word that is never spoken by the voices of this quartet, each voice offering its own color.  I barely noticed the audience between songs with the flow of the performance being as smooth as tempered glass.

 

Touring Schedule with Images

 

Each of the ten tracks included would have been the ones I would have selected from their extensive library if I had been asked to design the set-list, personal favorite ‘Psilocybe’ especially and the running order lends to that smooth-as-glass tempering making this offering almost as good as being there yourself!!  Great introduction to a veteran band that seems to tour nonstop as their schedule for March 2017 they have posted shows; every day booked from 3-16 to 4-1-17. If you get the chance, go and reward yourself to this near-transcendental experience offered to you. If you cannot, immediately add this album to your library and enjoy the inner-ride. As they further state, “My Sleeping Karma offers the perfect movie soundtrack to everybody’s own inner journey. Just be warned, you may never want to leave again!!” enquote. Nothing better than ‘truth in advertising’ and this record is exactly that. OUTSTANDING accomplishment!!

Words by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 


New Album Review – Horisont “About Time”

Horisont

About Time – Vinyl / CD / DD

Century Media Records – Release Date:  February 3rd 2017

 

“Odyssey” really saw them forge their own path instead of being a Witchcraft/Graveyard also-ran. – Brian “Butch” Balich

 

I hope that Brian Balich, of Argus fame (for starters), doesn’t mind me quoting him to start off this review, though he beautifully summed up my thoughts on Horisont with this one sentence when we were recently having a lively Facebook discussion regarding their releases.  I remember getting my hands on the first Horisont record some years ago, I believe it was when I was writing reviews for the now defunct Stonerrock.com, as that was a period in my life when I had all kinds of random promos floating through my home office.  I remembered that they were a Swedish retro 70’s rock band, as was very much in vogue at the time with the success of Graveyard and Witchcraft, though they sang a considerable deal more in Swedish than Witchcraft, and there was a little more of ZZ Top’s boogie and swagger in their sound than was typical of the other throwback bands of the era.  These guys obviously owned well-worn copies of Cactus albums.  That was really the extent of the impression that their debut left upon me.  It was well written, it was cleverly crafted and executed with style and poise, though for me personally, there wasn’t much to distinguish Horisont from any other band devoted to that big blues rock sound of lore.  When I later received a promotional copy of their sophomore album, Second Assault, it just sounded like more of the same, and I kind of wrote them off as exactly what Butch described: a hopeful band following in the footsteps of these aforementioned other more successful bands, and ultimately finding themselves swallowed in the shadows instead.

 

Great Band Shot

 

With this in mind, it was with some surprise that I found more than a few people heralding Horisont’s 2015 album, Odyssey, as their favorite of the year.  Granted, I’d no longer kept up on the band, because  honestly there’s just too much music out there for any one person to fully absorb in a live time, and they’d just done nothing thus far to captivate my ever-ebbing attention span.  Still, there was something so insistent, so fanatical about the praise being heaped on Odyssey, from people that I knew and trusted. I had to check it out for my lonesome.

I’m glad that I did, because it’s a real gem, a literal diamond in the proverbial rough.  It blew me totally out of the water – right out of left field, Horisont had unleashed the best conceptual sci-fi metal album these ears had heard since Slough Feg’s most triumphant Traveler.    Perhaps there was some trace of this transition in the band’s third album, Time Warriors, which I’d never heard prior to starting this review. I intend to remedy this situation and find out for myself.  Okay, fuck it….I listened to it on YouTube just now, and although it’s a leap forward from the first two albums, flirting with some NWOBHM and prog rock influences, it’s nowhere near as actualized as Odyssey.  Perhaps it was the addition of second guitarist Tom Sutton, who had previously played in a past incarnation of Japanese doom mongers Church Of Misery, that galvanized Horisont to so radically step up their game on their fourth album.  The most obvious point of departure from the prior albums is the sheer scope of influence that Odyssey so seamlessly encompasses.  It’s also worth pointing out that in their bio, they straight up state that it was Tom’s idea to write the ten minute song that eventually morphed into the title track, so there’s that.  At any rate, this is the album that The Sword wished that they’d pulled off with Warp Riders, a 70’s throw back album that goes heavy on the science fiction elements without going full prog and thus sacrificing the bodacious boogie.

As much as I’d love to wax poetic about Odyssey for another several paragraphs, I’m going to resist that constant temptation for tangents, just this once.  Instead, let’s fast forward a bit to the present moment; the year is 2017, and Horisont is on the verge of releasing their follow-up album, About Time.     Tom Sutton is out, some other guy named David is in.  This is their first album that’s coming out on Century Media, about a year and a half after Rise Above released Odyssey.  I bring these things up strictly because they’ve boxed themselves into a very tight corner, coming off a real creative high point, signing with a new label, replacing a guitarist, then perhaps feeling some pressure to establish themselves on said label with a new release that’s going to follow up their crowning achievement.  That’s a tall order, and a year and a half isn’t a lot of time to deliver.

About Time does ultimately deliver, capitalizing on the same strengths that marked its predecessor.  It’s another progressive proto-metal album that reminds me of the mid-70’s output of some of my favorite bands of the era: Scorpions, Rush, Thin Lizzy, Blue Oyster Cult, Uriah Heep, Judas Priest, you get the idea.  Musically, there’s a ton of super cool things going on.  I can’t find a credit anywhere for who is covering the keyboard work, though that’s really one of the album’s strengths, the increased usage of synths both in terms of melodic lead parts and more atmospheric backdrops.  The dual guitar attack is once again superb, each part bubbling over with taste and tact.  The vocals continue to show improvement, mostly in the sheer bravado of frontman Axel’s delivery, though there are also so many awesome, Scorpions-esque backing parts laced throughout.  I also enjoy the playfulness and subtle irreverence of the lyrics, plus the now obligatory song sung in Swedish.  The bass and drums play well off one another, and they’ve both got an uncanny knack for holding down the groove while also making sure things stay fresh and interesting.  The production is stellar – it’s a nice clean mix that brings out all the myriad elements.  It’s also worth noting that the cover art is bad ass, looking like a page from a long lost comic book adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

 

2017 Touring Pic

 

Okay, let’s revisit a point I was making earlier in relation to Odyssey.  I often don’t like it when an album feels “rushed”, like the band wrote it hastily for some reason that leans more heavily towards being business rather than artistically oriented.  I could potentially make that argument here.  About Time clocks in at 10 songs in 37 minutes, which is quite a downsize from Odyssey’s 12 tracks and 52 minutes, plus we’re not getting a ten minute epic opener.  About Time lacks that special kind of ambition and urgency, it doesn’t overflow with the feeling of unrestrained liberation unleashed by the breaking of prior constraints flows through every note of Odyssey.  Rather, it’s more about a refining process, of solidifying and then expanding on previous ideas until they reach their new heights.  I really enjoy the songs in and off themselves, the hooks and the pop sensibilities incorporated into a heavier retro metal format, that same alchemical formula for success which catapulted Ghost’s career, minus the corny costumes.  Ultimately, this is my favorite Horisont album, largely on the strength of its songwriting, which in my mind frees me from that feeling that they might have been better off if they’d spent some more time on its creation.

Whenever I review a band that’s obviously going for any form of retro-rock shtick, I find myself wanting to go on a tangent about whether or not it’s creatively limiting to strictly mine certain eras of the past for inspiration, if such an approach ultimately cuts an artist off from whole swaths of potential influence.  Horisont have pretty much put that particular internal argument to rest for me, as they’ve proven that any time period is a potential goldmine if one is simply willing to expand the breadth of one’s influences.  Does any given retrophile act still reek a bit of gimmickry, however sincere in its intent?  Sure, though that’s so often the price of entertainment, isn’t it?

Reviewed by Andy “A Beautifully Simple Smart Doorbell By Ding” Beresky


Album Review – Electric Age “Sleep Of The Silent King”

ELECTRIC AGE

Sleep Of The Silent King – CD / DD

Argonauta Records – releases February 27, 2017

 

From the deep South, southern Louisiana to be exact, the birthplace of sludge-metal, comes this hybrid of all things resonating traditional metal, elements of folk / blues / stoner / doom / progressive, and a pure rock dynamic to morph it all into this, the debut offering from this three piece named ELECTRIC AGE. While this is the first release from this line-up as a unit, I was informed directly that these seasoned players have decided to forgo sharing their collective pedigree to let this album stand on its own merits in the here and now. After taking it in, I believe they have created something amazing that can indeed stand tall as an accomplishment of songwriting, musicianship and something that has been so lacking as of late in American metal; the art of storytelling. Dripping with the archetypal concepts of good, evil and the divine throughout this sojourn, the band states that this is “A conceptual and mythological journey through the threshold of time and consciousness, into the heart of darkness and divinity, through death and redemption, and finally into the inexorable void.” So, not just another “Wankfest” but actually thinking-man’s metal?? The pulse quickens…

 

Band_in a shack

 

From the first notes of ‘The Threshold’ through to the acoustic fade out of ‘The Dreaming’, there is a precision of delivery from each member of this power-trio reminiscent of DEMONS & WIZARDS  in the exacting musicality given with each track. ‘Shepard And The Raven’ comes on with a single snare-drum pop and a full-on power chord assault hits you before you know it, this chapter of the story unfolding with the might of the voice telling the tale of…

‘Robes Of Grey’ comes out of the gate with a gallop and you can’t help but to hold on as the freight train rolls on. Even when the tempo slows for a moment, you draw your breath slower until that next chord hits and you go again. Ultra thick bass serves as the intro to ‘Cold Witch’  before the hammering guitar takes you into the tale one more “Four long winters have past a ray upon the feet of cold offering…” and further into the mind of the king you are drawn as he asks her to carry him away. Soaring deep notes serve as the perfect accent to the vocal flowing forth.  The bass line towards the end reminds you of just HOW deep and dark these guys have shown they can get.

‘Priestess Pt.1’ allows you to catch your breath for a minute through intricate overlaying guitar lines, as the main body of this song, and when ‘Black Galleons’ hits with a thundering drum-line steeped in reverb; it is right on time to keep you glued to this epic journey, time shifts galore that are indeed suiting this diatribe as we hear that “We would die for the Purity and Grace” as the solo lets you traverse onward back into the thunder as the song fades out. ‘Sleep Of Winter’ wastes no time, right back to full-on ‘rock-god’ phrasing on that Les Paul and the pace does not cease to push you along at full-charge. ‘Silent King’ enters with a clean guitar tone and a slower pace again but the majesty and multi-layers of the lush mix is never gone, letting you forget that this is a trio. Our king is in self reflection as the ‘Elders’ and his feelings of being “born of the dark and will leave the same.”  ‘Priestess Pt 2’ shows more of the acoustic/folk side complete with violins in the background as “She spreads her black wings to fly”.

 

Live Band Pic

 

The last two tracks are the ones I kept going back to time and again. ‘Electric Age’ is one of those songs with enough hooks to catch a bushel of fish out of the air with and could definitely be the story behind the name of this power-trio.  The slow doom fade out into ‘The Dreaming’ is the perfect segue into the song that sums up what we have traversed over the last hour plus and offers final insight into the king’s mind in reflection and attempted remembrance. Is he awake or still in a dream or somewhere in between or…  as the ‘pick-birds’ chirp randomly, are we are all dreaming??

I have told my kids as I put them to bed to ‘dream the dreams of royalty’. I now wonder if any of their own nights were filled with tales such as this…

Each of these songs stand tall on their own, just as I was told was the intention and together, they represent a near-masterpiece.  For a first debut album, gotta give it an ’11’ on a 1-10… get it the second you can!!

Words by Ric “Sui-Syko” Dorr

 


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