Nihilosaur “Hymn & Ruin” Album Review + Stream…

NIHILOSAUR

Hymn & Ruin – Digital Download

Independent – Released July 1, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

Line Up:
Florian Analfox / Voices, Bass
Felix Geniusfix / Guitars, Samples
Tiwo Meiz / Drums

Review:

From the nether regions of Poland, Nihilosaur return with their 3rd full length album entitled “Hymn & Ruin”. Nihilosaur has a unique sound. I don’t feel that music needs to be categorized but it’s a lot easier to describe a band by their genre. Usually when I don’t know how to classify a band I’ll hit the net and check the usual places. Wikipedia is my go to but Wikipedia never heard of Nihilosaur. My next stop is Encyclopedia Metallum who list Nihilosaur as “Death Metal / Hardcore”. Even the shortest of listens leads me to believe that what they actually meant when they said “Death Metal / Hardcore” was “we don’t know”. Off to Nihilosaur’s Facebook page where they list their Genre as “Hymn and Ruin”…. That’s not a fucking genre. That’s the album title. I assume what they mean when they say their genre is “Hymn and Ruin” is “We don’t care”. I don’t think we can lump them into any category.

With that in mind, I think the best way to describe Nihilosaur’s sound is by conjuring up an image in your mind of the Nihilosaur itself. What would that be? First, the Nihilosaur is ancient & long dead but reanimated, presumably by some toxic waste and a few shots of lightning though no one knows for sure. Some of the Nihilosaur’s flesh was preserved in the tar pits from whence it came while some places the flesh is rotten, even decomposed to the bone. Its movements are slow. Despite having emerged from the pits a decade ago, tar is stuck to the Nihilosaur’s exterior. Flowing like molasses off its body with each movement, despite leaving a trail behind there seems to be no end to the muck. Nihilosaur is large, carnivorous and hungry – but not evil. No. Nihilosaur will devour you with indifference; not malevolence. He’s also horny as fuck.

Let’s see if we can complete the metaphor as we tour through the album. Starting with the cover, the analogy breaks down but let’s ignore that for just a minute. We’ve got a comic book style cover with an upright elephant with multiple arms, its trunk rammed into its gut. I guess it’s eating itself? I’m not really sure. The lettering of the band name looks eerily familiar and I’ll kick myself when I figure out where it’s from. Hopefully you’re reading this and yelling it at your screen, maybe I’ll hear you. Anyway, I have no clue on the significance of the elephant. Maybe it’s some sort of Nihilist symbolism though that’s a complete nonsense thought.

The album opens with a track called “No, No, No”. The heavily distorted guitars start the number, giving us a clue as to what comes next. The drums and bass of join the fray filling out a thick doom sound. Slow, melodic, distorted voices start creating eerie, ancient doom. They soon give way to death voices but quickly return to eerie again. Unfortunately none of the voices are discernible so I have no idea what this song is about. I agreed to review this album based on the band name alone (it’s so clever!!) and was hoping to hear what these guys have to say. The incomprehensible voices are a theme throughout the album. In fact the voices are turned down so they don’t stand out but rather blend in with the music. I suppose this is why the band calls them voices as opposed to vocals. It does suit the sound.

Moving on track to track, we have an atmosphere of thick goo. Imagine your lungs filling with tar. How they achieve such density with a 3 piece is beyond me. I would guess it has something to do with the heavy distortion and the blending of the voices which throughout the album go from eerie to death vocals to deep chants to low rumblings to screams.

Bimp Picture

Song titles like “A Kiss is the Beginning of Cannibalism” and “A Bag of Bones” tell me the Nihilosaur is hungry…or perhaps he was. After all, it’s not a bag of drumsticks, it’s “A Bag of Bones”. Song titles like “Night is My Nudity” and “What Are You Doing After the Orgy?” tell me he’s horny… but then again, if “A Kiss is the Beginning of Cannibalism” then he’s probably planning on working up an appetite during the orgy. Don’t go anywhere alone with the Nihilosaur unless you want to be dinner.

The album closes out with a track called “Reptile Parthenogenesis”. If you’re not aware, parthenogenesis is when an animal impregnates itself. Get ready for there to be many little Nihilosaurs running around having orgies and devouring whatever’s in their path. (Edit note: after writing this paragraph and submitting this review, I woke up in the middle of the night and realized what the elephant is doing to itself on the album cover… a little parthenogenesis action!!!).

Seriously though, it’s hard to take a band seriously when their members have names like Analfox and Geniusfix. I have to assume that they don’t take themselves too seriously either. That’s a trait I think is very admirable in music and musicians. It’s supposed to be fun. Grab a copy of Hymn and Ruin, give it a listen and have a good time.

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Ufomammut “8” Album Review + Tour Schedule + Stream…

Ψ Ufomammut

“8” – Vinyl // CD // DD

Neurot Recordings – released September 22, 2017 

Reviewed by Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler

 

Dalle Pesanti Psichedeliche Rock Wizards

 

Ufomammut is:
Poia – Guitars and FX
Urlo – Bass, vocals, FX and synths
Vita – Drummer

Ciccio – Soundlord
Lu – visuals

Previous Releases:
– Godlike Snake – full length cd/lp – Beard of Stars – 2000
– Snailking – full length cd – The Music Cartel – 2004
– Lucifer Songs – full length cd/dvd lp/dvd – Rocketrecs/Supernatural Cat – 2005
– Idolum – full length cd – 2lp+cd – Supernatutal Cat – 2008
– Snailking – full lenght double vinyl – Supernatural Cat – 2009
– EVE – full lenght cd – LP+cd+dvd – Supernatural Cat – 2010
– ORO – cd – LP+dvd – LP – Neurot Recordings / Supernatural Cat – 2012
– ECATE – full length cd – LP + dvd – Neurot Recordings – Supernatural Cat – 2015

 

 

Review: 

Hey doomsters this is the Ancient One and I’ve just returned from yet another odyssey through the cyberscape traveling the ethereal soundwaves. While traveling I learned through fellow music heads Italian wizards of heavy psych / stoner / doom Ufomammut  have released a new album entitled “8”. Wanting to know more I wasted no time in getting a early preview but I unfortunately failed you. While I wanted to let you know about it before its  September 22nd release date to give you all time to get your pre-orders in I was unable to because personal issues got in my way.

For those who are unfamiliar with them, Ufomammut (pronounced- ufomam’mut) is a heavy psych / stoner / doom band hailing from Italy. Going strong since 1999 “Ufomammut” was formed by  Poia (guitarist, synth, and sound effects), Urlo (bass guitar, synth, sound effects and vocals), and Vito (drums)  With 7 albums to date the bands upcoming album was released on the “Neurot Recordings label on September 22nd and is the bands 8th album, thus its title “8”.

As in past albums “Ufomammut” fearlessly experiments with sound and music. But what makes “8” unique is the method in which it was recorded. Seeking to give the listener the experience of listening to them live Ufomammut recorded the instruments in live studio sessions. And this painstaking process that has resulted in an amazing album.

Ufo by Malleus - web

Opening with “BABEL,” stoner doom Wizards Ufomammut begin weaving their auditory spell using a language all can understand. While I’d like to tell you which songs I liked most I really can’t. Every time I took time to look at the title of the song playing it broke my trance. So instead I will tell you what I enjoyed about “8” as a whole.

Unlike some music in which you feel like a spectator watching or listening to the metal gods on high, “8” envelopes you making you feel like you are part of the music. Listening to the fuzzed out guitar, drums, bass, droning chants, and psychedelic sound effects had me feeling like I was part of some strange musical mystery cult.  “8” is best listened to in full and if you don’t have a decent stereo I recommend listening with headphones.

Helping them launch their latest album on September 22nd  the “Malleus Art Collective” unveiled it’s “A Malleusdelic Art Trip Into Ufomammut exhibition”  at the release party  held at the Santeria Social Club (Milan, Italy) on September 22nd.

AVAILABLE NOW (Here) https://www.malleusdelic.com/store/index.php… – “The Art of Ufomammut” is a graphic journey by Malleus through 18 years of UFOMAMMUT.  We wanted to put together almost all the designs we created during these years for Ufomammut, from the first album covers to the last silkscreen posters, from the Limited Edition vinyls to the t-shirt designs. 96 pages – softcover.

Like many Ufomammut fans, I would have loved to go to the release party or to one of their European dates following it. But since I can’t get to Europe I can console myself with the fact Ufomammut will also be appearing at the Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore, Maryland next year May 24th – 27th, 2018.  Highly Recommend!!

 

Tour Schedule

 


Comacozer “KALOS EIDOS SKOPEO” Album Review + Stream…

COMACOZER

KALOS EIDOS SKOPEO – CD // DD // Vinyl

Headspin Records released August 20, 2017

Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner

 

Lineup:
Rick Burke – Guitars
Rich Elliott – Bass
Andrew Panagopoulos – Drums / Percussion
Frank Attard – Synth / Effects

Previous Releases:
Deloun/Sessions is a compilation of their first two E.P.s via 2015 and 2014 respectively.

First Full Length release was Astra Planeta in 2016.

Tracklist:
Axis Mundi     (13:40)
Nystagmus     (12:26)
Hylonomus    (13:43)
Enuma Elish  (12:58)

Review:
Comacozer is an Australian Space Rock band that are a strange mix of Acid Mothers Temple, Fripp and Eno, with a dash of that good ol’ Stoner fuzz thrown in… or as they tell you; [We are an]“Instrumental psych space doom from Sydney, Australia..[so just]

press play….
close your eyes….
lose your mind….
take the journey thru space and time…”

The art for this album is done by Iqbal Tawakal. It’s like seeing into someone’s trip as they listen to the album.Promo Shot

 

Track-by-track Breakdown:

***Axis Mundi
The song starts off with a repeating of an almost transportive arpeggio and a strumming on the guitar. Slowly the bass comes in and repeats the guitar. When the cymbal creeps in the arpeggio stops and we get into the first jam. At 4:34-ish we begin to get more distortion added to the guitar as it wahs back and forth in almost a trance state and it continues until the 10 minute mark. Now, we start getting back to familiar territory from the beginning of the track; there is a new element though, a subtle click. Around 12:50-ish we slow down more and more until 13:20 as the song fades out.

The term axis mundi refers to “… a point of connection between sky and earth where the four compass directions meet.” and is also “in certain beliefs and philosophies, is the world center, or the connection between Heaven and Earth.” there are a lot more information and connections to our world so check out the underlined name above to learn more… (i.e. read the page while you listen to the song)

***Nystagmus
This track starts off close to how the middle of the first track acts. It is also the track that made me think of Fripp //Brian Eno and Acid Mothers Temple. The guitar is playing an almost repetitive riff and the only thing that really changes are the affects on it. Around 8:50-ish we get a new sound (the fuzz is back) and we get our “stoner rock moment” which lasts until the end of the track.

This explanation is really science-y and word so I’ll use the brief explanation with a LINK to a whole page on the subject. “Nystagmus is a condition of involuntary eye movement, acquired in infancy or later in life, that may result in reduced or limited vision. Due to the involuntary movement of the eye, it has been called “dancing eyes”.

Band Shot

***Hylonomus
Has a Far Eastern, and almost atmospheric, sounding opening that lasts 40 seconds. Much like the 2nd track it has a repeating structure and the things that change are 2 minutes in we get the Far Eastern influence back and almost 11 and ½  minutes in, they get faster, repeating the established pattern, and it slowly fades out leaving us behind.

The Hylonomus “is an extinct genus of reptile that lived 312 million years ago during the Late Carboniferous period. It is the earliest unquestionable reptile” learn more HERE.

***Enuma Elish
The last track is the most Fripp and Eno sounding track and uses the most sound effects. It starts off slow and slowly gains momentum. More and more layers are added to the sound and toward the end we get some of the more fuzzier riffs and it ends like the start of the first song making the album almost a loop.

Enûma Eliš is the is the Babylonian creation myth. The myth can be read HERE.

Album Info

In Conclusion:
This album is a really good experience and it is best listened to as one continuous song (Because of the looping effect on the end of the last track on beginning of the first track. And to have the best feeling about the album I had to listen to it multiple times before finishing the review.  I recommend you do as well as Comacozer delivers their best work to date!!

As the saying goes… Smoke ‘em if ya got ’em!

Extra Links:

https://comacozer.bandcamp.com/album/kalos-eidos-skopeo

https://www.facebook.com/pg/comacozerband/about/?ref=page_internal

https://www.discogs.com/artist/4614263-Comacozer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axis_mundi

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nystagmus

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hylonomus

http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/enuma.htm


Foo Fighters “Concrete and Gold” Album Review + Music Videos…

Foo Fighters

Concrete and Gold – Vinyl // CD // DD

Released By Some Big Label on September 15th, 2017

Reviewed by Andy “Dinger” Beresky

 

So….I’ve been asked to review the new Foo Fighters record.  Taste Nation owner Matthew Thomas prefaced our conversation around the possibility of this review happening by saying that he’d talked to another reviewer he’s friends with, and this particular guy had said that “it was actually pretty good.”

Okay – let’s just take a moment right here to talk about the significance of this statement.  What does it actually mean that in order for folks in our business to take a band seriously, we need to be told that the record is “actually good” in advance?  What does that say about Foo Fighters, and about the way we operate in the review business?

In full disclosure, I’ve never been a Foo Fighters fan.  Okay, there was this one song, on one album that they released in the early 2000’s that I actually enjoyed (the song was “Come Back” from the album One By One, thanks Googles!!), though that’s really about it. I actually bought the album, because someone told me that it was “actually good”, then I sold it because I never really listened to it more than a handful of times or appreciated it beyond that one song.  I can, however, appreciate Dave Grohl’s contributions to the canon of punk and rock n’ roll, obviously with Nirvana, though also with Scream.  And I recognize his contributions to our little scene itself: when he took over drumming duties on the third Queens Of The Stone Age album, and with his Probot record, which brought some of the biggest movers and shakers in the underground metal scene into the limelight by virtue of Grohl’s musical reputation.  And I believe that it’s Grohl’s reputation that has prompted the writing of this review – I may not be a Foo Fighters fan, though I recognize that in an industry filled with some real d-bags, he doesn’t seem like a total asshole.  He seems earnest and passionate, hell, even humble….well, as humble as a guy in his position can be.  Aside from that, I do want to recognize his contributions beyond Foo Fighters, and let’s face it – Foo Fighters are a mainstream alternative radio rock band with a huge following and fan base.

Pro Band Shot

Also, the album ACTUALLY is good, by mainstream alternative radio rock standards.  That’s what we’re really talking about in the underground when we say that a record of this stature is “good” – we’re saying that it has at least something that appeals to those whose tastes tend to either veer away from the mainstream, or who are perpetually in search of something beyond the mainstream.  We’re saying that it’s not run of the mill radio swill, and I’d be tempted to dismiss much of Foo Fighter’s catalog as that kind of fluff.  That’s not entirely the case this time around. In regards to reaching beyond the mainstream norms, Concrete And Gold delivers the goods, ironically by embracing the mainstream norms.

Bear in mind, I’m not 100% behind it.  Grohl’s grandiose statement that its a combination of Sgt. Peppers and Motorhead is patently absurd.  I’m not fully endorsing the Foo Fighters as the second coming, nor am I hailing this album as the one that’s going to “save rock and roll.”  There’s some critics who love to drop those kinds of statements; always have been.  I remember in the “alternative 90’s”, when Fig Dish released That’s What Love Songs Often Do.  Great album, you should pick it up if you like 90’s guitar driven alt rock.  It’s a beauty, eh.  I like it well enough, I still own my original CD copy and it’s gotten a lot of repeat plays over the years.  They managed to get a single on the radio that was pretty decent, though it didn’t make much of an over all impact.  My point is, I read this one review of the album in Spin Magazine or some other big name rag, that praised it with outrageous hyperbole and  bold prophesy, saying that in 10 years we’d be referencing Fig Dish as a household name, that we’d be comparing all other similar bands to them, and saying things like “oh another band that sounds just like Fig Dish.”

…………………………………………………

Obviously none of these things came to pass.  Granted, we’re talking about the post-Nirvana 90’s, where everyone in the industry was both eager and unable to recognize the “next big thing” in the wake of Nevermind’s surprising impact and legacy.  I’d like to think that we can all agree that the conditions in the music industry of the time were what made Nirvana’s meteoric rise from promising indie rockers to colossal megastars possible, and that those conditions are no more.  Everything about the music industry has changed, and things will never go back to how they were.  The other key ingredient in Nirvana’s success, that’s more nebulous and harder to define, was their ability to take all of the angst and alienation that our generation felt after the impact of the 1980’s, and channel that into an album that succinctly and directly addressed to how many of us were feeling.  That’s what gave “Smells Like Teen Spirit” it’s anthemic quality and lasting resonance – at the time it DID smell exactly like teen spirit.  Not the cheap, superficial spray that simply masked  what lies underneath: the lyrics, jagged power chords, dynamics, even the simply chorused solo that echoed the song’s main melody cut right through all the glitzy and glossed wool that had been perpetually pulled over our eyes during the 80’s.

I bring this all up because simply making an album that’s “actually good” isn’t going to have the same impact; it’s not going to magically save rock and roll from the vapid auto-tuned pop ditties and overproduced pop country that dominate the airwaves.  Lots of folks would love to see that, I get it.  Part of me would love to see that as well.  The stark reality is that it’s not 1992, and this isn’t Nevermind.  It’s Concrete and Gold, and much like that long-lost Fig Dish album, we’re not going to be saying “oh another band that’s trying to sound like Foo Fighters on Concrete and Gold” in 10 years.

Part of what makes this album actually good is its over-the-top production.  Instead of rebelling against the machine and recording a raw, stripped down rock album, as his prior outfit did with In Utero, Grohl opts for the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach.  It makes sense, since Foo Fighters have basically pumped out pop-rock since their inception.  This is as overproduced as anything that Taylor Swift has ever recorded.  That’s actually not a bad thing, as it makes an otherwise milk toast band sound pretty peaches and cream.   It’s got plenty of layers and nuance, little touches here and there that really make the album shimmer and shine.  Grohl and company have definitely made excellent use of their studio time and a veritable “who’s who” list of special guests (look them up), and I can appreciate the album solely on that level.

What really makes the record work better than prior Foo releases is that it feels more album oriented to me.  It showcases a chance to explore music within the context of a studio, rather than just to write a collection of hit songs.  Sure, there are obvious singles; I guess the second track (after a brief but bombastic intro track), “Run”, is the first single off the album.  It’s the obvious choice.  It’s upbeat and catchy with a huge, hook laden chorus followed by a crunchy, remotely heavy two note riff and harsh screams that will make those whose musical tastes gravitate towards modern rock radio pronounce “Wow!  Grohl’s got his edge back!!  He’s angry.”  Yeah, sure he does….it’s a pretty transparent ploy, and I’m sure it will be lauded and successful in its re-branding effort, thanks to sly marketing campaigns, plenty of PR, and the credulous naive, gullible, and downright disingenuous critics at more “respectable” music rags.

The rest of the album has its moments, its ups and downs.  “Make It Right” has a funky/fun guitar riff that’s akin to what Queens Of The Stone Age are doing.  “La Dee Da” also reminds me a bit of QOTSA, though Josh Homme and company are much quirkier in terms of songwriting and instrumentation.  “The Line” sounds like a classic Foo Fighters track, simple, non-offensive guitar driven rock, treated to the production standards of modern pop.  “Dirty Water” is similar, although it’s more subdued, like the kind of track a band would release as their third MTV video in the 90’s daze of Alternative Nation after their first two hard-hitting singles.  These songs, though unremarkable, are at least coherent – I’m not sure what Grohl was thinking with “The Sky Is a Neighborhood”. The composition and arrangement make about as much sense as the song title, and his attempts to write “political” lyrics are frankly embarrassingly disconnected from the zeitgeist.  His weak, equivocal words don’t capture any spirit of our current age, they simply smell like Axe body spray.  “Sunday Rain” is a fucking mess; the intro has some bluesy licks before the verse uses a reggae styled downbeat/offbeat and keyboard swirls underneath the overproduced vocals, which seem an attempt at Grohl sounding “soulful.”  Instead it’s pure cliche heaped upon cliche.

It’s actually the more somber, understated songs that I prefer.  “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” sounds like a bar room ready drinking song, and although there’s much better music I’d prefer to have a beer to, it stands out as a stronger track, as does the title track, which finishes the album on a melancholy note, with drawn out passages of slow, longingly over-saturated guitars and moody vocals….

I don’t know folks.  Sure, this album is “actually good” in that it’s not totally boring and takes some unexpected turns, which I think is largely a product of the modern pop production combined with some actual ambition on Grohl’s part to push himself outside of the typical verse/chorus/verse format that’s par for the Foo Fighter course.  It’s also not going to have very much replay value for me, nor is it going to save rock and roll.  Plus, Taylor Swift’s last album was much better.


Screams of Winter “Divine Chaos” Album Review + Stream…

SCREAMS OF WINTER

Divine Chaos – EP – Digital Download

Independent – Released – Sept 1, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

Line Up:
Michael Scola/ Vocals
Maxwell Damske / Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Bass, Drum programming
Alex Damske / Lead Guitars

A Brief History:

Screams of Winter is a melodic death metal act hailing from Chicago, Illinois. Forming in 2004 as a middle school act, they disbanded in 2010 when they “failed to evolve musically”. (Reference their Facebook about page). Fast forward 7 years, Screams of Winter have reformed and re-recorded 5 tracks that “finally sound like what the band always wanted them to sound like”. I haven’t heard their 2006 release, which they describe as “far from listenable” but I have to say the 5 tracks schlepped up on Divine Chaos are what I want them to sound like as well.

 

 

Review:

First the cover, which I’m guessing is a depiction of Saint Peter. The gates behind the angel-like figure suggest he’s standing atop the stairway to heaven waiting to pass judgement on whoever seeks entry. He is the Devine. However, there’s also an element of space here. The planet, stars, and comets are the Chaos. Well thought out.

The album opens with ‘Mechanical Chaos’. The first minute and a half is mostly keyboard ambiance with some light percussion and the odd strum of the guitar. This is the kind of thing a band might have the Sound Man play at the start of a show to set the mood as the band enters. Sound Man or keyboardist, that is, if they had one which it appears they don’t though I believe I hear some here and there throughout the album. Guitars lead us into the tune and finally the vocals join the fray. The first thought I have is Screams of Winter sound like a cross between Children of Bodom and Arch Enemy. Michael Scola’s vocals remind me of Angela Gossow and whoever is taking the lead on the guitar shreds like Alexi, early Bodom. Upon reading their bio, I see they list In Flames as an influence and now I can hear it big time. To be clear, I’m talking early In Flames, not current In Flames. There is one low point to the song that I feel compelled to mention and that’s the clean vocals. They’re not bad; I just don’t think they fit the track. In this particular case, they remind me of Ray Alder of Fates Warning, specifically from A Pleasant Shade of Grey. While Alder is one of my favorites, unfortunately in my opinion, using them on this track takes away a bit more than it gives. And don’t get me wrong, ‘Mechanical Chaos’ is solid regardless.

‘Divine Tragedy’, track 2, opens with a super melodic riff and again I can hear that early In Flames. I love the harsh backing vocals here as they allow for a pace that couldn’t be done with a single screamer. Again though, they cut to the clean vocals which I’m not fond of. In this track, they do better suit the layout, as they come while ‘Divine Tragedy’ slows. I believe they’re inspired by God Forbid who uses clean vocals more frequently and who are also, coincidentally, listed as an influence on Screams of Winter’s “About” page. Despite my reservations, this might be my favorite on this EP.

‘Orwellian Overture’ begins with Rush-like keys which come and go throughout the track. Again with the clean vocals; but they’re growing on me. I love how they transition in and out of the melodic riffs on this track.

Scarlet Beast Promo

‘Rise of the Nephilim’ is the perfect tune for a live show. It’s got all the elements I’m looking for. It begins with a pace that’s sure to open a pit. It slows a bit after 30 seconds or so, allowing the guys who get gassed easily the opportunity to stand aside and breathe while the few psychos remaining can keep at it as the reduced pace still justifies some slamming. The backing vocals again suit the track (fry, not clean). ‘Rise of the Nephilim’ continue the tradition of sweet transitions as the guitars sustain, the drums take over for a few seconds before the soloing begins which gives way to a chant “Rise! – Rise! – Rise!”. Of course, in the live setting this is the time for crowd interaction and I have no doubt there’ll be any problems getting the fiends in the audience to chant along. Sure, the nuts in the pit will likely be gasping for breath, single fist raised to open the airways as they labor out a hoarse whisper.  Those who stand back banging their heads and fists will be sure to compensate. Once the chant ends the drums take off, a little back feed and back to the shredding… and moshing. Rise of the Nephilim maintains the pace until it closes.

Holy Lust closes out Divine Chaos with a nice slow melody that takes off unexpectedly. Again, smooth transitions bridge the gaps as the songs changes speed, from death to melodic and back again. I mention them every track as I feel transitions are key in separating the average Melodic Death Metal acts from the exceptional.

With so much going on in each track, it’s hard to notice that the earworms on Divine Chaos average almost 5 minutes each. Despite being just a 5 track EP, Divine Chaos clocks in at 29 minutes. Aside from being an amazing blend of Bodom, Arch Enemy and In Flames this album has one more feature extremely attractive feature and that’s the price. Digital download of Scream of Winter’s album (at the time of this writing) is listed on Bandcamp for $4USD. Are you kidding me? $4? I could create an endless list of trivial items people piss away more money on, sometimes on a daily basis. I’m not going to. All I’m going to say is there’s links below to 4 different ways you can buy it and Bandcamp is the cheapest.

Links:
https://www.facebook.com/screamsofwinter/

https://screamsofwinter.bandcamp.com/album/divine-chaos

https://play.google.com/…/a…/Screams_of_Winter_Divine_Chaos…

https://open.spotify.com/album/1Ei8nKuOBaKlqCpfpB40mB

https://itunes.apple.com/…/al…/divine-chaos-ep/id1278661776…


The Flying Eyes “Burning Of The Season” Album Review + Stream…

The Flying Eyes

Burning Of The Season – Vinyl // CD // DD

Ripple Music // Noisolution (Europe) – released September 22nd, 2017

Reviewed by Eric Layhe

 

The Flying Eyes:
Adam Bufano – Guitar, Lap Steel
Mac Hewitt – Bass
Will Kelly – Vocals, Guitar
Elias Schutzman – Percussion, Vocals

Tracks:

  1. Sing Praise (4:17)
  2. Come Round (3:26)
  3. Drain (4:41)
  4. Circle of Stone (7:29)
  5. Fade Away (5:18)
  6. Farewell (4:29)
  7. Rest Easy (4:56)
  8. Oh Sister (8:09)

 

 

Review:
The Flying Eyes know exactly what kind of band they are: A riff or two, some vocals, a solo, and a heaping tablespoon of Black Sabbath worship- that’s all they want, and to be frank, that’s all they really need.

Despite it being reminiscent of “the good ol’ days”, it’s always refreshing to hear a band that knows that all they need are guitars, bass, drums, with quality guest keyboards from Trevor Shipley, and a good, solid overall composition.  That’s precisely what Maryland natives The Flying Eyes deliver.

Pro Band Shot 2

Opening track “Sing Praise” bursts out of the gates with an astonishingly memorable bass riff. “Drain” opens with reverb guitars that one would be forgiven to expect out of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” before taking a left turn into Sludge and Doom territory with an absolutely blistering guitar solo. Even though the music is well-composed and performed even better, the vocals of guitarist Will Kelly are the real standout here. They won’t be fronting an opera or performing a Tenor aria anytime soon, but they are absolutely perfect for the music that is focused on here. When this music is coming out of a sound system, images of cruising through the desert in a 1970’s muscle car are sure to follow. This is the type of music that should accompany a vision quest or a protest montage of the Vietnam War and The Flying Eyes seem all too aware of this, owning that image with all the confidence in the world.

However, this album wears its influences (or “influence” in this case) on its sleeves perhaps a little too proudly. The Flying Eyes seem to have listened to Black Sabbath’s “Master of Reality” many, many times and that particular influence seems to show itself quite a bit. That’s not to say it’s their only influence, as by the time the 7th track, “Rest Easy”, begins, some sections are reminiscent of Pink Floyd rear their heads. but by the time the listener gets there, they may have already gotten used to the already strongly-established vibe, giving them something of a case of stylistic whiplash. The riff-verse-riff-verse-solo-riff structure permeating throughout this release gets a little old after a while, and a listener would be excused for needing a couple of listening sessions to really get the intended effect from Burning of the Season, and it takes a little bit of patience despite being a fairly short album at a very digestible 43 minutes. Make no mistake, this is a high quality and highly recommended album.

On the whole, Burning of the Season is an album that knows what it wants to be.  If you are looking for an album that provides what is promised very effectively despite putting nothing particularly new on the table, then you should look no further than The Flying Eyes’ excellent new release.

Live Band Shot


Nap “Villa” Album Review + Stream…

In Case You Missed It Series – Episode 7

Nap

Villa – CD // DD // Vinyl

Released July 28, 2016 and re-released February 2017

Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner

Lineup:
Ruphus,
Hemme,
Pi

Other Releases:
August 28, 2017 – Nap Split E.P. with Black Lung Nap vs. Black Lung Split

Tracklist:
A1/1     Donnerwetter  05:12
A2/2     Sabacia            07:58
A3/3     Duna                05:49
A4/4     Larva               03:41
B1/5     Xurf                 04:48
B2/6     Shitzo             05:25
B3/7     Ungeheuer    05:05
B4/8     Autobahn      05:06

Review:

NAP are a Stoner/Progressive Rock band from Oldenburg, Germany. Here is how they describe themselves; “Nap plays as a classical 3-piece rock-formation, mostly instrumental with rather rare vocal parts. Psychedelic sounds, up-tempo beats, grooving Doom and Stoner-riffage plus some Noise and Surf influences with strong tendencies reminiscing the sound of the Hippie-Era and the origin of Metal. A combined musical paradox, of highs and lows, all to end into an excessive nightmare.”

Album Art:
Depending on which version of the album you get you either get a melt-y dreamscape (in black and white) or a cloudy sky at sunset.

Track-by-track Breakdown:

A1/1     Donnerwetter
Translates into Thunderstorm. This track goes in between a somewhat clean solo and a fuzzy riff. It is almost book-ended by drum fills. At some points it almost gives me the feeling that the end of “Side A” (Black Bombaim – Saturdays Space Travels) gives off.

A2/2     Sabacia          

It starts off very 1970’s Black Sabbath sounding but becomes less so as the song continues, until it gets to about six minutes into it then we get our first glimpse at vocals on this album. (Almost sounding The Atomic Bitchwax-y)

A3/3     Duna 
Duna is a preview is what is to come in Xurf. Here we have, for the most part, Clean guitar tones and an almost repetitive beat. Duna might be in reference to Duna Jam which is a “a mix between a picnic and a pilgrimage” in Italy that has been going since 2006.

A4/4     Larva   (favorite track)
This track is clearly a jam and it’s fuzzy guitar and strained vocals (once again at the end of the track) keep the track interesting. It is definitely an almost Karma to Burn like in its structure and amount of guitar.

 

Pro Band Pic

 

B1/5     Xurf
Is what the title of the song suggests, It is a Surfer Rock style song. (But with distortion) A reference would be Dick Dale. This would not be out of place basting on the beaches of California in the sixties.

B2/6     Shitzo 
Starts off slow, like a Sleep song but gains speed toward 3:54 and gains its speed again. It is almost a Sludge Metal song; if it wasn’t for the speed it gains toward the end. I could not find a translation for this word but it could be a clean mononym for for shit-show because it sounds like a mash-up of all of the references in the rest of the album.

B3/7     Ungeheuer      (Should be a single)
Translation: Monster. And, oh, is it one. The music stays loud throughout the whole track. This is the last track that has vocals, and it also has the most. “Shallow phrases come out of their mouths, With their shallow hearts they try to occupy your mind, Confusion spreads like the flu, Some day they may come over you, It all ends up in the eternal void anywhere you go.”

 

 

B4/8     Autobahn
Translation: Highway. This song stays constant and almost repetitive structure (like a highway) and in the end (4:15) it begins to differ from the beginning of the song. It is almost like a crash starting to happen, it slows, it gets faster and faster until it becomes an almost screech and then it ends.

—————————————————–

In Conclusion:

Nap are reminiscent of another Stoner band, Sleep, but faster, which is ironically what a nap is compared to sleep. The music, as well as being them jamming, it is like a journey. A journey like the ones most stoner albums give are best experienced on vinyl (Which sadly are sold out (unless you look at Discogs) or you can buy a CD directly from the band’s Bandcamp Page (link below or above).

The vocals remind me of Brocas Helm or The Atomic Bitchwax (Except they are used less in Nap’s songs). The instrumentals are similar to Black Sabbath in the 1970’s, especially during the “Vol. 4” & “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” years. The music is also very close to the jamming in some of Karma to Burn’s music. The songs that do have a little bit of organ have almost a Cheap Wine feel; the organ is just barely there but it is present. When the music gets faster and more distorted there is a clear relation to Black Bombaim.

You will not be disappointed with this album if you enjoy a good Stoner jam band (or a if you are a fan of Black Sabbath).

Stream the album HERE and buy the CD or DD

Additional Links:
https://napofficial.bandcamp.com/album/villa

https://www.discogs.com/Nap-Villa/release/9888070

https://www.discogs.com/Nap-Villa/release/9893932

https://www.facebook.com/pg/napband/about/?ref=page_internal

https://napofficial.bandcamp.com/album/nap-vs-black-lung-split-12-white-vinyl-strictly-limited

http://dunajam.net/


Kadavar “Rough Times” Album Review + Music Videos + Tour Schedule…

Kadavar 

Rough Times – Vinyl // CD // DD

Nuclear Blast – Release Date: September 29th, 2017

Reviewed by Andy “Dinger” Beresky

 

Germany’s premiere retro-metal rockers Kadavar have long been a favorite of mine, since their first album dropped.  Their take on the heavy 70’s sound was surprisingly refreshing and convincing for a genre so hell bent on mimicking the past masters, and they had a killer fashion sense to boot.  Seriously, these guys dress to impress, and they’ve got some righteous hair and beard styles to match the bombast.  In a field that was rapidly becoming over-saturated, this three piece stood out as something special, and their second album still stands as a solid test to their legitimacy, not by treading any new ground, but rather by solidifying and consolidating their alchemist formula: one part Black Sabbath, one part Pentagram, and a heavy handed helping of Sir Lord Baltimore.

Record Release Party

It was Kadavar’s third album, Berlin, where we saw some real growth in the band.  Not only did they polish up, modernize and thicken the production a bit, they also wrote some songs that were more hook oriented and less blues based, while others took a slightly heavier approach.  It’s that heavy approach that’s carried over and is thrust up front on their latest record, Rough Times, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer….

The first three songs are really in your face, with a huge, throbbing bass tone and gnarly guitars cranking out more modern riffs.  The title track leads off this album, and it starts with a bombast of hyper saturated guitars smashing through a chain of punctuated and syncopated power chords overlaid by a subtle, subdued lead.  This sounds like nothing that Kadavar have ever done before, and if I hadn’t known who this was, I would have probably never guessed, even though the vocals aren’t too different from their past releases.  They’ve still got that signature, shrill Ozzy-esque sneer, and “Lupus” still got a really great range.   A little past halfway through the song, there’s a groovy breakdown riff that straight up sounds like something that Rage Against The Machine might have played in their heyday.

The second track, “In The Wormhole” continues this approach with a more plodding but equally heavy guitar part that’s more typical of modern doom.  There’s also some cool organ on this one during the vocal parts, along with a low and fuzzy guitar solo that adds some dimension.  “Skeletal Blues” opens up with another big groovy riff that once again reminds me of RATM….maybe it’s the accentuated bass?  Anyways, the verse and chorus are a bit bluesier; perhaps it’s the strange production choice that gives these songs their more modern edge.

It’s not until the fourth song that there’s a shift in vibe and production towards what has come before. With “Die Baby Die”, that we hear anything remotely “retro” or resembling the first two albums, and even then, it’s a more busy, complicated take on that early sound.  The ultra-catchy “Vampires” opens with a 60’s inspired psych sound; fuzzy chords ring out, followed by a jovial, simple bassline and some bare bones atmospheric keyboards alongside the vocals.  The distortion kicks in for the second half of the verse and remains through the chorus, though it’s still one of the album’s catchier number.  “Tribulation Nation” showcases both the more psychedelic side of the band that reared its head on the first two albums and the more hook oriented songwriting from Berlin, and it’s an early album favorite for me.  It straight up sounds like a Hawkwind song, complete with the driving Lemmy-esque bassline, and that’s A-okay by me.

The next track “Words Of Evil” sounds a bit like Sin After Sin era Judas Priest with its palm muted power chords punctuated by bluesy runs and progressive flourishes.  “The Lost Child” is a more subdued song, with a sinister vibe that creeps into  Doors territory with its “riders on the storm” ready keyboard parts and lush guitars, though they do rev up the old distortion pedals for the chorus.  Fans of the softer, more acid-damaged Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats tunes will eat this up.  True to the album’s form, Kadavar changes gears again for the next song, “You Found The Best In Me”, a laid back, though upbeat, major key Southern rock ballad with some truly soaring vocals.  They end the album with the odd “L’Ombre Du Temps”, a more ambient affair with airy whispers of French poetry spoken over the music.  It’s interesting to note the contrast, how the last three songs decrease in both volume and distortion, and what a drastic difference this is from those first three songs.  In a strange way, it does offer at least some semblance of symmetry and balance to the album.

I don’t often do the whole track by track analysis in my reviews, as I feel like a lot of other reviewers already do that, and they do it much better than me.  This time around, it feels like the obvious and intuitive way to approach Rough Times, as it’s both a diverse and an uneven record.  There’s just not any other way for me to write about it that would make any sense.  There’s no overarching theme or trend in the album other than its variety.  I’m not sure if this album was recorded in different studios, though the drastic shifts in productions style certainly point that way.  I’ll tell it straight – I don’t really care for the first three songs, and I’m not exactly sure what they were going for.  I can appreciate that they tried to go there, did something different, and for me….it just doesn’t work.  It’s too jarring, too clunky a shift.  Are they trying to veer into the more extreme stylings of modern stoner doom bands like Electric Wizard?

I’m not sure.  I’m not entirely against them going for a heavier approach – they managed to do so, much more convincingly in my eyes, on Berlin.  “Last Living Dinosaur” was a good, solid heavy track that didn’t sound forced.  It sounded organic, natural, authentic, and these are all key ingredients of the sonic cocktail that’s made Kadavar so successful up to this point in time.  Those first three tracks just don’t sound like a natural progression to me at all, it sounds phony, and the shift after these tunes towards their more natural inclinations only drives this point home.

photo: Clemens MitscherLive Shot_Clemens Mitscher

Once the tone does shift, I rather enjoy the rest of the record, and I’m well aware that there will be those who enjoy and embrace the added heft of those first three songs.  Hell, I’m aware that there are also people out there who actually enjoy listening to Rage Against The Machine, as odd as that idea might be to me personally.  There are probably folks who aren’t going to like some of the other tracks very much, preferences always vary from person to person.  I still stand by my point that bands should experiment and vary their sound, they should take risks and try new things, regardless if these new directions align with mine or anyone else’s tastes and preferences.

With that in mind, I’d highly recommend checking out this album, as it does try out a lot of different things – it seems to me that there’s at least something for everyone to like.  It feels a bit like a transitional record, where Kadavar are branching out and seeing what works, and I for one am hoping that it leads to greater things down the pipeline.  I’d love to see them trim the fat on the next release and really up the bar in terms of their consistency.  All in all, the uneven nature of this record isn’t enough to tip the scales and dethrone Kadavar as my personal leaders of the proto-metal pack.

Tour Schedule


GoatWhore “Vengeful Ascension” Album Review + Stream..

GOATWHORE

Vengeful Ascension –Vinyl // Digital Download // CD

Metal Blade Records – Released – June 23 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

Line Up:
Ben Falgoust/ Vocals
Sammy Duet / Guitars and Vocals
Zack Simmons / Drums
James Harvey / Studio Bass
Robert “TA” Coleman / Live Bass

Born:
December 20, 1996

Review:

GoatWhore: Just saying the name puts a smile on my face. Say it with me now: GoatWhore. Did you smile? If you didn’t I’m willing to guess you didn’t say it out loud. Maybe you’re on a bus or waiting for the doctor and afraid to be judged? Toughen up a little. PC culture would love to take our GoatWhore away. Are you going to sit back, stay silent and let them take our GoatWhore? Let me hear you! GOATWHORE!

Fuck that feels better! I sure got some dirty looks stopping through white bread America wearing my GoatWhore shirt on my way home from seeing them live at Full Terror Assault. (Check this shit out, best kept secret in American metal). Seeing GoatWhore live has been a treat each time. The energy is electric and these guys know this full well. In fact, according to their Facebook page when they recorded Vengeful Ascension, GoatWhore aspired to match the live experience as much as possible. Let me say, they 100% have the right idea. On one hand, it’s unfortunate that you simply can’t package up the energy of a GoatWhore concert so they’ll never reach this goal. On the other hand it’s fortunate you can’t simulate a GoatWhore concert because you’ll never be able to download it and that means you have to get off your ass and go see them. Each time I have, Ben Falgoust says roughly the same thing (paraphrased): “Get the album. Buy it from the merch booth, off Bandcamp or steal it off the internet BUT come out to a concert and support the band.” So just what are we stealing off the internet?

First the cover of Vengeful Ascension depicts what I believe to be their rendition of Lucifer, having fought his way back from the depths of hell and risen to the earth, clutching the sun and marking it with some sort of magic symbol. He appears to be sucking the energy out of it and into himself no doubt to power himself for impending battle. This imagery seems to hold true to the theme of the album. Straight from their Facebook page, the following is what they intended the album to be all about. I feel compelled to directly quote Falgoust, his words eloquent and clear:

“There’s that whole idea of Lucifer being the anti-hero. He’s cast out from this place in Heaven to the depths of nothing. He keeps trying to ascend to the top again but no matter what, there’s always this significant force trying to destroy him at any point and banish him back to Hell. If you look at it from an everyday aspect in life, it’s the idea of people, hitting the bottom of the barrel or you know, things just aren’t going right in life… emotion plays a huge part in how people react. Whether it’s based on love or hatred or sadness or whatever, there’s always an aspect of emotion that drives people to an extent. So the whole idea of a ‘Vengeful Ascension’ is built on being at the bottom, working your way to the top, and realizing along the way that there’s other facets to the journey aside from just pure retribution. Within negativity there can exist a positive angle as well.”

I would have needed to write a 10,000 word essay to convey this concept. And for this idea alone I would buy this album and use it as a theme to my rise.

live Shot

Musically speaking, Vengeful Ascension is very similar to what GoatWhore has been offering up for the past 17 years. They somehow manage to blend elements of several different sub-genres together in order to create their own unique sound. Wikipedia lists GoatWhore as “Blackened Death Metal”, whatever that means. GoatWhore’s Facebook page list them simply as “Metal”, which I feel is more accurate. Album to album, track to track we get emphasis on different sub-genres. Vengeful Ascension leans toward black more so than any.

Track 2, “Under the Flesh, Into the Soul” has elements of speed metal yet mysteriously sounds like something that might have come out of Dimmu Borgir’s playbook. This is one of my favorite tracks on this album and these jerks have not deviated from the practice of giving the most complicated titles to the earworms. Try yelling out “Under the Flesh, Into the Soul” between songs next time you see them live. As if to prove my point, “Mankind Will Have No Mercy” shows up later on the album again with that speed metal feel that I can’t get enough of. This one probably has the least blackness on the album.

They follow this up with the title track, “Vengeful Ascension”. Again, this track is heavy in the black metal but thankfully not without a slightly off-key melody. Later tracks, “Abandon Indoctrination” and “Those Who Denied God’s Will”, are structured very similarly. It allows the track to keep that black metal feel without being boring.

Pro Band P

Where the “Sun is Silent” is a slower paced track, thankfully the only one of its kind on Vengeful Ascension. I’ll admit my bias right now; I want to spend my live GoatWhore experience in the pit. I’m getting a bit old so one or two slow ones is a welcome breather. I really don’t have time for any more than that.

In summation, Vengeful Ascension is another great GoatWhore album. The band wants you to hear it and it sounds to me like they don’t really care how. The one caveat is that you go out to the shows. I think that’s a pretty fair deal. For those who just aren’t in the right geographical area or for those who aren’t in a financial position: Go back and review the Falgoust quote above and use it as motivation to bring yourself into a better position where you can afford to get out to a show or maybe plan that trip to the festival you’ve always been dreaming of… where you’re sure to see GoatWhore… and maybe pick up a shirt too.


Monolord “Rust” Album Review + Tracks Stream…

Monolord

Rust – Vinyl // CD // DD

Riding Easy Records – Release Date September 29th 2017

Reviewed by Andy “Dinger” Beresky

 

Lineup:
Thomas V Jäger – Guitars & vocals
Esben Willems – Drums
Mika Häkki – Bass

Born:
2013

Review:

I don’t write many reviews of actual doom albums, for good reason.  It’s a surprisingly complicated subject, not to mention a very personal one.  The whole stoner doom “genre” has a rather rich history, which through inexplicable luck, I’ve been privileged enough to play a small part in.  Like any other “genre” (and I use the word very loosely), it’s tough to pinpoint its exact birth, the point where it all started.  There are obviously precursors, though for me, the first real groundbreaking record of the genre was Sleep’s Holy Mountain.  And what exactly made it so groundbreaking?  It was such a convincing replica of the Black Sabbath model, condensed into a power trio, that even Black Sabbath said that Sleep did it best.  Perhaps you’ll already see where I’m going with this.  Stoner doom isn’t generally about innovation and originality, unless you’re YOB.  It’s more about the VIBE, man….

Sleep once again pulled off a landmark album with Jerusalem/Dopesmoker, which was innovative only in that it pushed the limits of length and repetition to their logical extreme, eschewing traditional songwriting structures in favor of elements from classical composition and Eastern motifs.  Perhaps most importantly, it established the importance of unique tones and massive low end above all else.  It’s largely unimportant from a critical perspective that the album is so monotonous – the repetition actually works in its favor, whereas with other genres, it would not.  Dopesmoker simply punishes, relenting only in shorter, quieter sections.

Other groundbreaking albums in the genre followed suit – Acid King pretty much perfected the combination of fuzzed out post-Sabbath riffs and ethereal vocals on Busse Woods.    Electric Wizard’s Dopethrone pushed the limits of production to the very extreme, with spaced, blown out vocals, hyper fuzzed guitar, unearthly effects and massively distorted bass.  I often deride this album as my least favorite of the Electric Wizard catalog, sheerly because it doesn’t sound GOOD.  However, that was never the point.  It doesn’t sound like anything else that came before it, and that’s why it’s so important.  I remember the first time I heard that bass burst in with that massive riff from “Vinum Sabbathi”, and my jaw literally dropping in disbelief.  Nothing had ever sounded like this up to that point.  Nothing.  Sure, Witchcult  Today sounds much better, Black Masses has much better songs….and Dopethrone will always hold a special place in my heart.  When you get into these groups, there’s only a couple ways you can get out….

Tour Schedule

There’s a few other landmark albums I’ll reference for context – Warhorse released As Heaven Turns To Ash, offering a sound that branched into death metal territory, utilized more dynamics and pushed the extremes to which a guitar can be downtuned.  Despite their sole album, they’re always going to be fondly remembered as the band that blew Electric Wizard off the stage when they ventured to our lovely continent on their first American tour.  Around the same time, Sloth borrowed Electric Wizard‘s gear and somehow unveiled a real corker of an album that seemed to stop both time and space in the wake of its gravitational field.  Goatsnake dropped a couple key albums around the turn of the millennium, matching big tone with accomplished vocals and making Sunn 0))) amps a household name and a much valued commodity.  A little later down the line, The Sword’s main achievement was in marketing and promotion, though they did introduce faster tempos and broke away from the established power trio format, utilizing NWOBHM inspired harmonies.  Conan pushed the limits of volume and heaviness with their first release, issuing forth a single-minded and monolithic statement of intent.  Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats injected sugar coated Beatles-eque harmonies into their psych-doom, and frankly, also changed the face of marketing by deliberately cultivating an air of mystery, concocting a lovely yet bogus legend around their origins, and then initially refusing to play live.  This combination resulted in massive hype.

Of course, there’s also the first Black Pyramid album (full disclosure: I am a member of), which for some inexplicable reason made quite a splash at the time.  I don’t know – I just tried to draw influence from these bands, and I also tried to write good, brutal songs that mix things up in terms of tempo and style.  I wrote the lyrics to be evil in a way that I didn’t think evil was fully explored in the genre.  That’s it.  It wasn’t rocket science or anything, and I’ve honestly never fully understood the appeal.  I guess it just hit the right spots at the right time.

Band Pic

Enough ruminating on the past, let’s fast forward to the present.  It’s 2017, stoner doom is somehow still a thing, and Monolord is the band of the movement.  They are a Swedish trio and their bassist was previously in the grind outfit Rotten Sound, whom I rather like.  The other two were previously in Marulk, whom I’ve never heard.  I suppose that doesn’t matter all that much, as they’re in Monolord now, and I’m writing about them.

What can I say about Monolord?  How do they contribute to the landscape of the genre?  Well, first off, their name is an excellent description of their sound.  Secondly,  they’re very obviously influenced by most of the bands I’ve listed above, with the obvious exception of The Sword.  There’s some serious Sleep, Electric Wizard, and Acid King worship going on, so if you dig those bands, I don’t see any reason you’d write this off.  Thirdly, they’re a relatively young band, though not green by any means.  Their first album was released in 2014, and they’ve had an impressive array of releases since.  A single here, an EP there, a sophomore album in 2015; they’re certainly staying busy and making a name for themselves.  Their sound has stayed pretty consistent from their first release, and it’s everything that you’d want and expect from a good stoner doom band – downtuned, fuzzy guitar interspersed with trippy effects and bursts of feedback, huge bass tones, spaced out vocals, and a rock-solid drummer holding it down underneath all that precious noise.  They tend to stretch song lengths upwards of ten minutes at times, though I’d be hard pressed to define what criteria differentiates their decision to keep a song shorter or to extend it.  If I had to venture a guess, I’d say they just ride out the riffs that they really, really like to play, and this lends an authentic, organic vibe to what they’re all about.  That’s vitally important in a genre that’s so inherently derivative.

pics and patches

If anything, I’d say that the consistency has been Monolord’s strongest suit up to this point.  They haven’t made many efforts to tread new ground, and up until, they haven’t really felt the need to.  Their second album, Vaenir, is a little more polished than the debut, and this was exactly what they needed to do – double down on what’s obviously working.  The Lord of Suffering 10″ showcased a little more maturity in the songwriting department, and it’s still exactly what you’d expect.  This brings us up to Rust, where they’ve thrown out everything that’s come before, re-written the proverbial book and drastically redefined who they are as a band.

….

I’m just kidding, none of that is true.  Any one of the songs on Rust could have comfortably fit on a prior release.  That’s by no means a bad thing – I’ve already touted the consistency of their artistic vision.  The subtle though obvious shift this time around is that they’re beginning to make more use of the studio to explore more textures and sounds, and it makes for delicious little surprises interspersed between gargantuan riffs.  After opening the album with two pretty straight forward songs, the title track initiates with a haunting organ intro that drives the catchiness of the vocal hook home.  Once the riffs do actually drop, it makes for an extremely effective counterpoint.  It’s a seemingly little thing, and it makes a whole world of difference.  This is my favorite track on the album, and I think it’s the best song they’ve written to date.

They follow this up with “Wormland”, an instrumental with slower, more deliberate riffing that takes a stark turn once again into more melodic territory, with a most triumphant, transcendent lead guitar line once again surprises by finishing up with a violin echoing the same melody.  “Forgotten Lands” once again surprises us by making ample usage of its near 13 minute run time, detouring into a full-blown psychedelic breakdown mid song, with a delightfully wonky guitar solo and more exotic, modal guitar work.  The final song, “At Niceae”, basically utilizes a false ending.  It’s an otherwise standard track for Monolord, except that the riffs fade out, leaving us with feedback.  I thought the album was over, and then an acoustic guitar kicked in, overlaid with some heavily echoed vocals and a sorrowful melody.  It’s a great conclusion to a well executed album.

Monolord_Band Pic

As I stated earlier, there has been a maturity inherent in the development of the band, and it’s firmly showcased on Rust.  It’s not like they’ve gone full prog or anything – they still do what they do best, which is just heavy, zonked to the nipples doomliciousness.  There is simply an increased emphasis on melody within the songwriting itself, while retaining the heavy, trippy sound that’s made a name for them.  As far as how it fits into the continuum and tradition of the genre?  Well, they’re currently on top of the game.  Electric Wizard’s last album was far from their best work; it’s most likely their weakest.  Veterans like Acid King and Goatsnake are only sporadically active.  The Sword have a full-blown musical identity crisis on each album.  If Sleep actually drops a new album, that will be a game changer based on the strength of the one song they’ve recorded since their reunion.  Since for some inexplicable reason, there’s still a lot of interest in this sound, it leaves a lot of room at the top for more established bands that aren’t quite stoner royalty yet,  like Windhand and Cough, as well as newcomers who are able to make a name and get some momentum behind them, like Monolord and Vokonis.

In closing, I’m continually perplexed at the longevity of stoner doom.  Other genres that are so pigeonholed and overspecialized have only occupied a single moment in musical history before they’ve been forced to evolve or become redundant and obsolete.  You can’t really call it a trend – trends quickly rise and fall within the realm of heavy music, though doom’s rise in prominence has been slow, steady, and continual.  Indeed, there are those who have already evolved beyond their humble roots, bands like High On Fire, Elder and YOB.   What is it about turning up really loud, tuning down really low, and aping Black Sabbath that’s had such a lasting, overarching appeal?    Is it that musically, it digs right to the very roots of metal, the birthplace of all things heavy? Is it some primal, ritualistic element buried deep within the collective human subconscious?  Is it an attempt to identify with, and thereby transcend the darker aspects of human nature?  Some kind of catharsis for our more socially unacceptable emotions and fantasies? Once again, I don’t really know.  I can tell you that even I’m not immune to its perpetual pull – even though I’m bored with the more common cliches associated with the genre, I’m such a sucker for a huge, over-amplified Sabbath riff.  In that regard, Monolord has delivered the goods in spades.  As always, my brain jumps right head to “what are they doing to do next?”  It’s a fair question even now.  Will they continue down the path of predictable consistency, with a pragmatic and gradual approach to change, or will they choose to truly branch off into the outer limits, returning to us with some unique permutation of psychedelic doom-inspired mayhem that will blow our minds like the forebearers of the genre did before them?