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.
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.
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.
Argonauta Records – Release Date: February 13th, 2017
Two men brought together in the bands UNWELCOME and KESSLER decided in 2014 that they need to play their own flavor of music, saying they “designed it to be an undeniable source of power.” As the 11 tracks demonstrate, they aren’t kidding.
Andrea (guitar / vocals) and Maxim (drums) decided to say YES to stirring up a writhing pit of sweaty bodies, YES to heavy-music and want to remind each of us that “This is not a dress-rehearsal, this is the BIG SHOW!!” With an agreed vision that what they can do together should not be denied, this ‘collision of two different people collaborating as was always the intention’, have given this shape shifting revelation that has taken form in “Labbrador.”
Opener ‘Evil Sky’ comes out of the gate at full speed leaving no doubt that this is not going to be anything less than an assault with a relentless pummeling from Maxim while Andrea takes you along, making you want to ‘touch the sky’ with him. The multi layered backing vocals mixed with the ethereal guitar lines give all the body you need to not notice that there are no bass lines here.
‘Going Home’ / ‘Hey You’ and title track ‘Labbrador’ are further examples of what can be done with the swirling mixture of hard rock/stoner/post-punk can become when mixed in equal parts and then seasoned with some hardcore kicks and licks thrown in for good measure. ‘Blind’ shows that Andrea is not afraid to poke fun at some of his peer-group with the high-pitch tone he takes with alternating passages through the lyrics, sounding almost like some Bieber-prepubescent kid before he drops back to his regular growl into his mic emphasizing ‘it’s easy when you know’ as he spits over piercing notes from his Les Paul.
‘Perfect Black’ begins with a clean tone, something you wouldn’t expect from based on what has been heard to this point, but when Andrea’s voice hits 30 seconds in, it makes perfect sense. When the first solo break hits, that clean tone serves the song perfectly. There are three tracks listing a guest performance from Xavier Iriondo, ‘Sixty-Two’ / ‘Think’ and ‘SheMale’ that show an even blacker depth to THEBUCKLE. ‘Think’ starts of with the thick distorted chords accented by a nice combo of snare and rim shots, establishing an almost galloping pace that smooths into a sweet flex-closing ride cymbal going wide open through the pauses between measures, Maxim showing his true prowess behind the kit as beat-master while Andrea and Xabier deliver supremely, making this sound HUGE without losing the identity of what THEBUCKLE is. ‘SheMale’ is another one to show their twisted sense of humor as Andrea says he wanted ‘more’ but ‘can not make it work’… cracked me up.
‘On My Own’ takes me back to ‘Portrait Of An American Family’-era MARILYN MANSON with the vocal delivery so MM in attack and intent and a deep-dark HEAVINESS in the body of the song. It is obvious this is no joke ripping through your speakers. Disc closer ’12 Seconds’ is another facet to this gem of a band telling a tale wrapped around an Apollo mission, complete with injected radio communications, the last being the statement that “The heavens have become a part of Man’s world.” Started off with the sky and ended with it as well through the journey of this record.
The stand-out track on this one for me is ‘Sixty-Two.’ It with an even tempo that is immediately slower than the rest in true stoner fashion, and the loopy melody of the song will keep your attention as it curls around the tendrils of your brain, the vocal line bringing a DEFTONES flavor along as the perfect garnishment. While each song is well structured and written, this particular track brings a coherence that is at its strongest here. If there is one to be released as the lead-off from this record, this should be the one in MY opinion. Awesome stuff here, front to back and I would love to see them do it live and witness the ‘undeniable’ of this duo as they weave their visions of what they have described as “Dark and gloomy atmospheres tempered with obtundent, memorable melodies”. The world awaits gentlemen… \m/
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.
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.
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.
Catania, Italy is home to this five-man doom/stoner metal machine who’s latest release “The Law Of Purity” is set to be unleashed this February worldwide; let me help get you ready for this one…
Starting out in 2012 when Frank The Door (Marco-bass) and Red Frank (Seby-rhythm guitar) shared a passion for stoner-rock citing bands like BLACK SABBATH and KYUSS as favorites and influences. Lord J. Frank (Alfredo-drums) and Frank Sinutre (Francesco-lead guitar/vocals) completed the line up with that familiar recipe of old style whiskey, enough bass-fuzz to pull the hair off of your cat, quick shifting tempos and the aggro-gruff vocals that all lend to their psych-stoner spirited compositions. RHINO did their time playing biker festivals and the club/bar circuits tallying up a fan-base that pushed them along, allowing them to hone their craft to a razor sharp level. When asked to describe themselves, the response was “You in the desert, dust in your eyes and lovely mirages.” You could almost hear the Bongwater bubbling with that answer. Releasing their first 4-track EP in 2013, they kept hammering away and in late 2015 based in what I could glean, they cemented the five piece arrangement with the departure of Frank Sinutre, replacing him with Frank Real Tube (Luca-lead guitar) and Frank The Doc (Niko-lead vocal). The end result is PURE Sicilian stoner/hard rock as this release will demonstrate.
Lead-off single and title track ‘Law Of Purity’ begins with a pulsing back noise littered with birdsong that suddenly become the sound of tape running backward, high-speed until the guitar line begins, complete with muted cymbal tapping and then 30 seconds in, the rest of the band kick in as Niko’s voice rips your eardrums open with his growling delivery. Proving their might from the onset, it is obvious that RHINO is ready to dominate as the track rolls through with their signature pounding fuzzed out bass, time-shifts from hell and guitars working in perfect tandem letting the tale of this “New Messiah” unfold. The same guitar tone takes you into ‘Bursting Out’ as seamlessly as sugar folding into coffee, leveling out into a slow gallop as Niko starts out, “Sometimes, I feel…” leading you along this tale of “something hidden”, wondering what lies behind the “sleepless”…
‘Grey’ opens with two measures of measured snare and cymbal before the spaced out guitars take your arm and push you along this faster paced tempo taking you over through the twists and turns of time-shifts and bass runs quick enough to get you dizzy before the psych-solo rips into your brain at the midpoint, cascading through your bloodstream until Niko’s voice comes back, relaying the remainder of this tale to your waiting brain until it fades to silence.
‘Nuclear Space’ starts out with this funky bass line that goes on for about two and a half measures until the rest of the band comes in full-force, distortion boxes screaming all around. Fulfilling the need to give their take on what lies behind our very own atmosphere, this track is like the proverbial train dragging you along until the track just stops cold. Enter immediately ‘Eat My Dust’, a slower romp as unrelenting as ever in all it’s distorted majesty, VERY reminiscent of WARRIOR SOUL in it’s ‘simplistic-complexity’ of spinning guitar lines with a KORY CLARKE like vocal-delivery that has you grabbing to savor each syllable being belted out. ‘Nine Months’/’A & B Brown’ and ‘Cock Of Dog’ could easily be a 15 minute ‘jam piece’ for their live set as all run so smoothly together, one after the other as if they were intended to be a three piece opus.
For whatever reason, it seems to be a tendency for the last track of most stoner bands to be the perfect book-end and a precursor of what looms next and RHINO seems to be no exception here. ‘I See Monsters’ has so many elements mixed together saluting their aforementioned influences in power and might with the SABBATH-style window rattling thickness of guitar/bass and that MONOLITH vocal sneer describing the “monsters in your mind.” 48 minutes later, I had to pick my jaw up to close my mouth in my astonishment and appreciation for what I had just took in and if you know what is good for YOU, you will grab this one the second it is released!!
Warsaw Poland is where this bearded foursome hail from, bringing forth a 6-track masterpiece of doom/stoner metal with this, their third official release. Citing “old movies, 70’s music and magical herbs’ as their main influences, it makes sense that they ‘tune low and play slow’ as they follow their strict regimen of ‘smoking, rehearsing and touring.” If that is what it takes to get to this point, roll on gentlemen!!
Opener ‘Navigator’ is the perfect start to this album with the lone guitar and enough slow-decay delay to carry you until the first rumble of ultra low bass and cymbals take over. For the next minute plus, you feel it creeping into your veins as your eyes close without resistance, waiting for that moment when you hear “Leaf burns to ashes, inhale the holy smoke…” and a grin takes over as you understand. ‘Skulls and Candles’ is even slower in tempo, and is suiting to the tale being told. Love the tone of the guitar solo that takes you to the end, perfectly faded in saturated delay.
‘Scum Priest’ shows the shared love for old movies with the inserted dialogue including “The evil is real, may God have mercy on us” and the crushing assault splits you between the eyes as DOPELORD has shown they love to do, this time with a fury glowing brighter than ever before. ‘Reptile Sun’ is another crusher with a faster pace than usual and you can’t help but to get moving in time.
Two of the tracks stood out to me as incredible and I couldn’t decide which was more of a favorite. ‘Dead Inside (I & II)’ is the quintessential stoner float-along song with their signature ‘low and slow’ pace that carries you to the edges of the picture of lyrics delivered to you with an open hand. When the second part of this tome hits, you are ready for the bass/guitar pummeling that is about to be delivered, feet hitting the ground running. The title track ‘Children Of The Haze’, is near perfection that almost broke my sternum it hit me so hard just HOW definitive this particular composition is of one of the finest moments from DOPELORD… so far. “Dancing madly” absolutely describes how my heartbeat shifted with the flow of this opus.
As the last note faded out, I was stunned at how impressed I was, having been drawn in completely and I am SO looking forward to DOPELORD bringing it live to our shores this year. GOTTA get this one if you don’t have it!!
Tee Pee Records – Release Date: February 10th, 2017
Founded in Oakland, CA in 2010 citing to be the balls-deep bad-assery that would come from combining all of the sweet guitar based, no bullshit rock and/or roll of MC5 and BLACK FLAG to CHUCK BERRY, THE DAMNED and most in between, using that as the prow of a mighty ship cutting through a sea of turd to bring dangerously heavy rock to the masses. Three maxi singles and two full length releases later, LECHEROUS GAZE has become known for their punk riffs, wailing rock solos and shrieked vocals as well as having self-proclaimed themselves as the ‘#1 rockin’ band in the entire world.’ This third full length may be the one to show the rest of the world exactly what they mean…
Six seconds into the title track ‘One Fifteen’ anybody that is a fan of these five guys will notice something new; a clean surf-punk ‘DICK DALE sounding guitar mixed among the power chords letting you know this is not just ‘more of the same’. All elements LECHEROUS GAZE are present including that NASHVILLE PUSSY type vocal growl/sneer and this clean tone on top shows a willingness to keep ‘adding to the dish’, giving another spice to take in.
‘Reptile Minds’/’Cosmos Redshift 7’/’The Day The earth Caught Fire’ show that this band carry on with their all-out jam mentality, while ‘Thing Within’ reflects a maturity both in songwriting and musicianship. Standout for me on this release has to be ‘X City’ that brings everything together in the most coherent track to date from… the all-out guitar-gasm that really begins at the 2:16 mark will make your knees weak, fade to the 70’s keyboard taking you somewhere back into ELP‘s practice space. Perfect ending to this half hour jaunt, grab it asap!!
I’d been telling Taste Nation brainchild Matthew Thomas that I needed some good new post-punk in my life. Believe it or not, I don’t just sit around listening to stoner metal, doom, and all the old Black Sabbath albums all the time. I actually have fairly eclectic tastes, and I start to feel pretty burned out listening to one genre of music all the time. I beg and practically whine to be able to review someone who doesn’t list Kyuss or Sleep as influences, and eventually Matthew was kind enough to oblige. Okay, maybe not initially, when he tricked me into reviewing another stoner metal band by telling me it was a post-punk band, but I’m willing to forgive him that little bait and switch tactic, because it was a good stoner album, and the next band that landed on my proverbial desk was Sweden’s A Projection. Matthew basically asked me, “Is this post-punk enough for you yet??” And I answered with a resounding YES, then proceeded to bombard his Facebook page with cute pictures of kittens as a show of gratitude, for which you’d think that he’d be far more appreciative.
From the opening bassline from first track, ‘Hands’, which creeps and crawls through the brain like some long-lost Joy Division outtake that’s just resurfaced circa 2017, you pretty much know what you’re getting into: frenetic, restless and infectious basslines, drumbeats that pulse with a steady, hypnotic monotony, cold baritone vocals delivering bleak lyrics and minimalistic melodies, soaring synthesizer parts, and guitars that toe the line between lush ambiance and abrasive angularity. The second track, ‘Dark City’, follows suit quite nicely, with a catchy instrumental hook that’s reminiscent of the classic Joy Division tune, “24 Hours”, though A Projection definitely ups their early Cure influence on this one. This tune for me represents the peak of what they can accomplish with the whole Joy Division exchanging bloody kisses and black roses with The Cure approach, so I think that it’s cool that they change things up by the third song, “Transition”. The memorable line “No more singing on the dance floor” is reinforced with the more dance friendly beat and song structure, and it marks a turn towards the more upbeat, which continues on the next track “Sensible Ends”, with its curt vocal delivery and driving drum rhythms that eventually morph into a straight up four-to-the-floor dance beat.
The next track, ‘Scattered’, is where they really start to shake things up a bit. A Projection utilizes a two chord major key progression that’s eerily reminiscent of the Modern English song “I’ll Melt With You.” There’s also a really cool and quirky keyboard breakdown thrown into the middle before the vocals break out of the baritone range into more ecstatic octaves. In case you think that they’re going soft on us, rest assured that the next song ‘I’m Not Here’ once again launches into a dark and emotionally tortured dalliance, like Ian Curtis providing guest vocals for a Disintegration outtake. This is followed by ‘No Light’, which is more in the same vein of the second song, “Dark City.” Just read the above description of that track; it’s the same idea.
‘Next Time’ once again strays into pop territories, with a ridiculously infectious main hook initially introduced by the guitars and then driven home by the catchy chorus. I swear that I’ve heard this hook in another prominent 80’s tune, though I can’t place it off the top of my head. The ending of the song is great too, as it descends into this ranting style of vocals, like a goth-rock take on R.E.M.’s
‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (I Feel Fine).’ The next song, ‘For Another Day’, once again reminds me of early Cure, which is fine and dandy. ‘Betrayal’ is next, and once again brings that major key melodic sense to the table, and the quicker tempo gives it an irresistible urgency. ‘Hollow Eyes’ is slower and bleaker, with a more dissonant, eerie progression and some harsh triggered electronics in the background, along with a splendid descending keyboard line after the chorus. ‘Breach’ is in the same realm as “Dark Cities”, right down to the main guitar part that reminds me of “24 Hours.” The final track, ‘Listen To The Dark’ once again makes heavy use of electronics and effects – the drums and vocals are punctuated by heavy delay, which stretches out the otherwise sparse arrangement into a dark abstract soundscape that recalls some of The Soft Moon’s best work. This would have been a goth anthem were it only released in 1983.
I’m sure that you know what you’re thinking right now – I started this review by saying that I was burned out only listening to bands that sound a lot like other bands, and yet here I am reviewing a band that by my own account, simply sounds a lot like other bands. This is absolutely true; I’m guilty as charged. A Projection aren’t bravely treading new ground, nor do they really attempt to do so. This is an album made solely in the post-punk/goth/new wave tradition of the early 80’s. I’m not going to lie to you or insult your intelligence by saying that this album is the greatest thing since sliced bread and you must be living under a rock if you haven’t heard it. It’s just a well written collection of thirteen songs that are executed, performed, and produced to accomplish a particular effect, namely to conjure the spirit of a bygone age of music past. Right now, that’s simply scratching a particular itch that’s been nagging at my backside for the past couple weeks, plain and simple. If this albums sounds like it scratches your particular itch as well, then I’d encourage you to check it out for yourself. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, and you’re looking to drink down something more in the mode of a 70’s rock throwback, the new Horisont album is most excellent in my humble opinion.
When I saw Sharon Van Etten play to perhaps 30,000 souls at a festival in Kentucky, she unabashedly announced from the stage that she is very serious about her feelings. That’s one of the many things that enamors her to me, though the list goes on and on. I’d like to take this time to unabashedly announce that she’s my celebrity crush. Perhaps if I write a review that’s intriguing and interesting enough, she’ll one day become aware of my precarious existence and think to herself, “Hey, that guy is pretty cool for a supposed critic. Andy Dingus Beresky seems like a guy who gets things done. I wonder what makes him tick. I wonder if he’d be interested in knowing what makes me tick.”
Of course, it’ll never work out between us, as she lives in Manhattan, and I’m motherfriggin’ country mouse as it comes. Last time I was in Manhattan I had a full-fledged meltdown when I was stuck on the subway in the dark for an hour. This ended with me sitting down and crying on a crowded subway car one fine May morning, and this did elicit an unexpected outpouring of empathy from the normally stoic New Yorkers who shared in my plight, though seemed so utterly unphased by the incident. When I finally emerged from that underground nightmare, I’d missed my bus and chose to alleviate my woes with an expensive beer and cheap sushi at 10AM. All’s well that ends well, I suppose, and maybe someday, my morning will end with Miss Van Etten and I sharing AM beers and sushi while we stare longingly into each other’s eyes. I wonder if she even likes sushi?? Wow. I’m suddenly acutely aware that I’ve derailed this review from the very get-go. That’s a new one even by my own admittedly low standards.
I bring this all up simply because Sorority Noise also strike me as being very serious about their feelings. Actually, I’ll recant that statement ever so slightly, as I’m sure there’s a bit of tongue in cheekiness to Sorority Noise’s lyrical approach. I mean, the first lines sung on the album are “Let me be the drug, that you use to fall in love, the heroin that keeps you warm enough” from the aptly titled lead track, ‘Blissth.’ Sure, that’s kind of sweet and romantic from a somewhat somber and morbid perspective, so I can relate to the underlying sentiment. Still, it’s too over the top to be totally serious.
Sorority Noise is a four piece outfit from Hartford, Connecticut. They name check a bunch of bands that I’ve never heard as influences, such as Roswell Kid, Pinegrove, Modern Baseball, and Led Zeppelin. Oh wait…I HAVE heard Led Zeppelin a couple times, and the two sound nothing alike. The most obvious analogy to me is Weezer, who are a pretty straight forward rock band with obvious indie influence and emo appeal, though the big sound and clean production of their albums obviously sets them apart from the aesthetic of the original “emotional hardcore” bands that were in full bloom during the early to mid-90’s. Sorority Noise may not sound exactly like Weezer – they’re far more dark, with a heavy emphasis on melancholia and moodiness. However, they have a similar approach and appeal, in my mind. They understand the emotional impact of indie/alternative rock, and are able to elevate it to anthemic heights by adding in the perfect amount of stadium-ready bombast.
Heck, these guys might not even like Weezer. They might even hate them for all I know, and this paltry review may incite them to commit questionable acts of throwing star violence. Sorority Noise have some similar elements: the big catchy choruses, the big crunchy guitars and the big rock solid rhythm section. But there are a lot of reasons that my Weezer comparison is way, way off. Overall, this record is much darker and bleaker, with a pervasive slacker/junky vibe to the lyrics, even in the moment when the music itself is all bittersweet pop and candy-coated melodies, such as on the self-explanatory song, “Using.” The big difference is that Sorority Noise sound like they’re haunted. There are more atmospheric and orchestrated elements, and the dynamics are more stark. They shift gears between minimalistic, downtempo indie to frenetically upbeat pop-punk with twin harmonized guitars, sometimes within the course of the same song. At times, their lyrics go beyond simple self-deprecatory humor, and land firmly within the realm of the full-blown bummer. This shouldn’t be much of a revelation, given the title of the album.
“Does hell taste as sweet as you thought, do you like what you bought?” This was the question I was left musing to myself after I’d finished the closing track “When I See You (Timberwolf)”. I was starting to feel haunted as well, though it was that pleasant, warm, fun form of haunting, as if I’d transcended the gloom veil of the mundane, and for a brief instant tasted the highs of heaven and then drank the depths of hell before I took off my headphones, bundled up, and walked down the street for that next cup of afternoon coffee.
Here Now, There Then – Vinyl / CD / DD / Book / More…
Prophecy Records – Release Date February 17, 2017
From the opening progression of notes, it is apparent that, as DOOL themselves describe, there is something stirring underneath the fumes of Rotterdam and it is rising to the surface as so much cream rises to the top. Featuring the rhythm section from THE DEVIL’S BLOOD and joined by a twin guitar assault that perfectly frames the power of the voice that emanates forth to take you with, wandering through dim streets, out of the confines of the city and into the wild that lurches just past, with tales of dark caves inhabited by ghosts to the deep abyss of a broken heart. Imposing, ominous and at times, sensual and teasing, it is time to lock it down and close your eyes kiddies… DOOL has the wheel and this ride is but a beginning.
Singer/guitarist Ryanne van Dorst lends her voice to the delivery of clarity and entices you to ‘turn it up’ so you don’t miss a word she offers while Micha Haring (drums) and Job van de Zande (bass) build the foundation of each song, allowing guitarists Reiner Vermeulen and Nick Polak to complete the unique recipe for each of these eight ‘morsels’ that are offered for ravenous consumption with this debut release.
DOOL describes ‘Here Now, There Then’ as such – “The album is about dreaming, ambition, and will; about breaking boundaries and behavioral patterns, destroying stigmas. The phrase ‘Here Now, There Then’ is a mantra for whomever needs it. Whichever way one chooses to use it. This is the Shadowlands between fantasy and reality. A lucid fairy tale set against a concrete background.
Ten + minute opener ‘Vantablack’ demonstrates that DOOL is exactly as they describe themselves and are not afraid to let you know from the onset. Harmonic vocals draw you closer as Ryanne takes you along the path of the ‘tip of her tongue’ into the realm of the imposing and ominous… truly a song about vicious cycles and negative behavioral patterns. Featuring guest vocals by Farida Lemouchi.
“In Her Darkest Hour” begins with the sound of what can best be described as a child’s toy piano before the snapping snare takes you into this tale of someone that wishes to be someone/somewhere else to find the elusive eternal happiness that always seems to elude. Delivered with a vocal that shows the influence of bands like GHOST and SISTERS OF MERCY with a hypnotic flow that washes over as the mist swirls just beyond reach.
Tracks ‘The Death Of Love’ / ‘Oweynagat’ / ‘Golden Serpents’ and ‘Words On Paper’ show the mix of goth-pop and psych-metal in a manner much like GUANO APES while ‘She-Goat’ hints at SONIC YOUTH as ‘The Alpha’ resembles a mix of equal parts TOOL and early EVERGREY sealed with Ryanne’s own breath marking the taste as her own.
DOOL states on their Facebook page that they are bending their nature to find their true identity; with “Here Now, There Then” they have found it indeed…
There isn’t anybody out there (myself definitely included) who hasn’t thrown around the words “original” and/or “unique” a little too much or even when we want to make a more dramatic point that doesn’t really apply. If something can be realistically labeled as such, that doesn’t necessarily make it good either (I’m talking to you, Yoko Ono). Fortunately for your ears and mine, ol’ Doc Boctor and his musical “Licensed Practicing Nurses” are both very different and wickedly enjoyable. Now the problem is trying to tell you just how….
Last year, it was Odd Couple’s wildly diverse, yet remarkably cohesive “Flugge” (see review HERE) that hit me in a similar fashion, but DBMB somehow pulls even more influences successfully into the mix, albeit in a different style of sound. The main blueprint used is one of garage/psych rock circa 1966 fused with the jazzy, spacey underground from the beginning of that most glorious decade, the 70’s. This means you can hear a wide variety of classic, obscure bands/influences anywhere, at any time. Imagine The Seeds, Electric Prunes, 13th Floor Elevators and the like crash headlong into, then fusing effortlessly with Thirsty Moon, Zappa, Kraan and Skin Alley. Listen a little closer still, and you will find snippets of 50’s, surf and funk as well. Are you thinking all this can’t possibly work? Think again.
So, when all is said and done, you really do have something of a quite special listening experience in “Old, Bottles, New Medicine”. It’s the kind of release that only pops up a few times in a given year and needs to be obtained. The sound, feel and even the private-pressing look to the album’s cover all scream 1971 or ’72 at its most adventurous and eclectic. Get your carcass over to Bandcamp and let Dr. Boctor fill your prescription- NOW!