Black Heaven – Vinyl // CD // DD // Bundle Packages
Nuclear Blast Records – Released March 16th, 2018
Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler
A Journey into Black Heaven
Mario Rubalcaba (drums)
Isaiah Mitchell (guitars & VOX)
Mike Eginton (bass)
Greetings music heads this is that old sonic wave rider The Ancient One and I want to tell all of you about San Diego’s heavy psyche rock trio Earthless and their upcoming album Black Heaven. Originally signed to the independent record labels Gravity Records and then Tee Pee Records, Earthlesshas been Blowing minds since 2001 with their own brand of almost entirely instrumental heavy-psych rock that many of other great musicians/bands credit as inspiration in their own music. To date they have released a slew of split albums with the likes of Witch, Danava, Lecherous Gaze, Premonitions 13, Radio Moscow, and Harsh Toke. This is accompanied by2 live albums and 3 studio albums with their 4th“Black Heaven”, the subject of this review.
Released on March 16th, 2018 on the Nuclear Blast record label with songs that have more vocals than all their previous releases combined, Black Heaven is a leaner meaner Earthless album . Though I cannot be certain because I don’t have any contacts in Nuclear BlastRecords or Earthless I suspect the band’s association with the Rock Giant is why the bands latest album have significantly shorter songs. Is this a bad thing, absolutely not!! Isaiah has a fantastic bluesy voice that is also on display with his other band Golden Void.
While the 40 minute album is broken into six tracks, to me it all seem to blend together into two parts with interlude track “Voit Rush” acting as sort of a road sign telling me were I am at in the journey. What catches my attention most about Black Heaven is that more than half of the songs have guitarist Isaiah Mitchell also taking up the microphone as vocalist. Which I think he does a bang up job at. Yet for all that has changed Earthless has remained true to their original mind-bending blend of krautrock and Japanese heavy-blues rock with still some of the freshest and finest Riffs, meanest basslines and Cosmic Drumming on this great Universe!!
Jan Babiński – vocals
Konrad Ciesielski – drums
Piotr Danielewicz – guitars
Michał Banasik – guitars
Marcin Bąkowski – bass guitar
Michał Koziorowski – keys
Ring ring… Ring ring…
(Man on receiver) – Hi! You’ve reached Octopussy. How can we help you?
(Caller) Hi this is the late 60’s and early 70’s! Who am I speaking with? We want our sound back.
(Octopussy) – Well you certainly called the right people. Where should we start?
(60’s/70’s) – How about some funky, bass driven rock?
(Octopussy) – Can do
(60’s/70’s) – Hendrix inspired guitar work?
(Octopussy) – Check
(60’s/70’s) – Disco vocals?!?
(Octopussy) – uhhhh… let’s keep that to one track…
(60’s/70’s) – I was only kidding on that one.
(Octopussy) – Well too late. You’re getting it. It fits with the funk track anyway. We’ll stick to a more bluesy, psychedelic groove for the rest of the album. Maybe a splash of southern rock but not too much. Sound okay for ya?
(60’s/70’s) – So how about the vocals on the remaining tracks?
(Octopussy) – We’re going with a mix of smooth melodic, and raspy blues… plus some heavily distorted screams and speech.
(60’s/70’s) – Uhh.. screams?
(Octopussy) – Don’t worry about it. We’ll make sure it works within the context of the album.
(60’s/70’s) – In that case, we demand a ballad.
(Octopussy) – Sure. But it’s going to be trippy as fuck and really short.
(60’s/70’s) – I feel you don’t much like compromise.
Tracklist: Follow The Holy Riff 06:44
Hobo Magic 06:48
The Poet 04:32
The World Today 06:28
Lady Of The Groove 09:27
Hobo Magic are Stoner Rock band from Noosa, Australia.
But classifying them as just stoner wouldn’t give you a true description of what you are going to hear. The band use their influences of Black Sabbath, Blues, some Jazz rhythms and at some points even Metal.
This whole album is very similar and in the sonic universe of Sabbath’s Paranoid and Master of Reality era. As you listen along you will hear it too. They stay very much in the time period and sounds that can be produced in that time.
Follow The Holy Riff Which should be subtitled “Children of the Groove”, is a groovy tune. Most of the song is spent on keeping an almost sludgy repeating riff (which might be the holy riff) with breaks in between of a melodic reverbed guitar and great slow solo. The time scale shifts continually but they never sound like they are interrupting the flow of the jam.
Hobo Magic This song is less “intense” than the last. It starts of sludgy but slowly picks up pace and becomes faster. It isn’t a heavy but still has a repeating riff and it revs up and up until the ending much like the guitar began at the start of the song. After 1:50 the jamming starts now that the almost warm up sounding beginning.
The Poet The Poet starts off very strangely in contrast to the previous two songs; there is no distortion. This song is more of a melancholy tune, there is just a slow revered riff with slow and vocals that are a little distorted making the song feel cold.
The World Today The title track is a shift from the previous and is back to the norm that the first two tracks set us up for. It is also the most Sabbath sounding sound, the shouted high(er) pitched vocals, more of a jam song with little bits of vocals. Ask a simple question… About the world today. This track straight rips!!
Frostbite This song is more like the first one; the tempo/timescale change quite a bit, and is a repeated bit with subtle changes. It even has moments that sound close to The Poet. The vocals are processed in a similar way. The song is almost eight minutes and feels like it. Kind of slow, like frostbite.
Lady Of The Groove (Favorite) This song is a LOT like “Children of the Grave” (I’m pretty sure they meant it to as well.) The song also works as a way to remind and wrap up all the previous motifs that were in the past few songs. This is a great way to wrap up the album for just that reason.
In a way they are like a band named Magma. Hobo Magic are sticking to the mythos that they have created; all about the groove, the story of the lady finding and jamming to the groove, even their Facebook is curated in a way to complement the mythos just look at their About Us page.
Like I mentioned before, Hobo Magic are descendants from that 1970-1 period of Black Sabbath and they work really well in changing it into their own thing, different riffs, story, and singing. If you are a fan of Sabbath‘s 2nd and 3rd albums then you will definitely DIG this album.
Frank Attard: Drums, percussion, Clavinet, synth, meandering chaos
Paul Attard: Guitars, bass, synth, banjo-mandolin, piano, organ, complications
Dave Schembri: Vocals, harmonica, mellow vibes
Matthew Slager: Lead guitar on ‘Never Fail’
Wrecker’s Reunion Ball (5:00)
Lost Planet Airmen (4:34)
Bean Stalkin’ (0:28)
Thought It Best To Cut You Loose (5:33)
Soap Bar Pick-Up Joint (3:41)
The Stalwarts of Saltwort Castle (9:31)
The Working Mind of the Creator (3:44)
Woodhollow Green (12:55)
Bean Stalkin’ Again (0:56)
Never Fail (4:13)
Bigger Than Fear (5:44)
On Lunar Highlands (8:35)
The Heavy Hand Of The Destroyer (4:14)
Review: Sludge Metal can go in any one of many directions, and one of the most interesting just may be the original: The variety of Sludge both invented and perfected by Black Sabbath. That particular brand of Sludge Metal is heavily Blues-influenced and totally unafraid to incorporate highly experimental elements like irregular time signatures, tempo changes, and long complicated instrumental sections in a manner that is almost progressive. This style of music has existed since the late 70s and one of its latest disciples is Australia’s Mother Mars, and they exemplify it fantastically in their newest release, On Lunar Highlands.
As a listener will easily pick up on while making their way through the album, Mother Mars makes no attempt to pigeonhole themselves. They open with some sludgey goodness on “Wrecker’s Reunion Ball”, but they weave their way through several different styles like early-era Queens of the Stone Age-style desert rock on “Lost Planet Airmen” Psychedelic Folk on several songs, most prevalent in the interlude “Bean Stalkin’” and its brother-in-arms “Bean Stalkin’ Again”, and expertly execute a song that sounds like a long-lost B-side from Black Sabbath’s Paranoid in album high point “The Stalwarts of Saltwort Castle” (stream below).
While Mother Mars is an extremely skilled band, they really show their true talent when their songs are heavier and longer. When Mother Mars give themselves room to breathe, their songs gain an organic energy that is nearly second to none, especially when they decide to allow themselves what is a particularly decadent instrumental section full of guitar solos, bass riffs, and plenty of interplay between the band’s members.
Additionally, there are only 3 members of Mother Mars, though you’d never guess it from listening to them. These Heavy Space Rockers are incredibly adept at filling a space with as much noise as it needs to sound full and heavy without making it sound unnecessarily chaotic. It is chaotic, to be fair, but as Mother Mars proves, chaos is not always directionless. As the band simulates what can only be described as the sonic equivalent of a Solar Storm, they always make sure to include a clearly understandable sense of direction, as the songs always make sense, as a band full of gentlemen this talented should. If you are interested in Bluesy, Spacey, Sonic-adventurous Sludge Metal, and you have 70 minutes to kill, look no further than Mother Mars’ “On Lunar Highlands”. It is skillful, it is eclectic, and most importantly: it is heavy.
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.
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 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.
Line Up: Rex Brown / Lead vocals, Rhythm guitar , Bass Christopher Williams / Drums Lance Harvill / Guitar, collaboration Peter Keyes / Piano
When I first heard about this record coming out, I had ZERO idea what to expect, what with Rex Brown’s extensive and prolific career that is right around 30+ years along and kickin’, could be anything, right?? Would it be the hyper-power of Pantera, or some countrified shredding like Rebel Meets Rebel with David Allen Coe?? Maybe the stoner grooving of Superjoint Ritual or even the ‘Pepper‘d tone of Down or possibly something closer to the progressive speed of Kill Devil Hill?? My mind was reeling as I hit ‘play’ for the first time on this album…
The familiar click of a Zippo lighter and I hear “Smoke on this…” before being greeted by a power-punch of guitar/bass and cymbal hit hard as opener ‘Lone Rider’ jumped out of my speakers in welcome thunder as Rex‘ voice took form hold with a tale of pure rock-n-roll introspection, complete with guitar solo intact. This is NOT metal as you may have been expecting and Rex himself has said he is not catering to the expectations of anyone, doesn’t give a fuck what anybody says as he is doing this for HIM and if anybody wants to ride along, get on.
‘Crossing Lines’ is a slower tempo’d excursion into how to “Give it all for nothing’ reminding you there is no one else to blame as this bluesy tale flows along with a complexity that is smooth as glass and there is no escaping how the crackling, crunchy voicing lace their fingers into yours as this guitar slinging legend re-introduces himself to you and opens his veins with each song, letting you look through his eyes to get another take on his life experience seasoned perspective in a way he has not offered before. ‘Buried Alive’ is the confessional Rex used, to give us the story of how he dealt with his own loss of Dimebag Darrell and is simply stellar from first note to last, where ‘Train Song’ lets Rex point out that “We all get away underground, so, here we are, now find a way to calm down…” with a tone that lets you know he is not fucking around.
‘Get Yourself Alright’ is an outright pure stoner-feel romp where Rex asks directly, “What are you waiting for?” and will have you wondering the same thing with the multi-layered vocals spinning all around you, showing that the mastery being given in the purest form possible, is indeed just WHAT we have been waiting for, just as ‘What Comes Around’ is an even sharper tale from within the soul of honesty and reflection laced with enough emotion to get the point across clearly, just as ‘Best Of Me’ opens melancholy in feel as we hear of the “Shadows of myself beside me” and the chorus hits with power chords ringing, shifting back to the soft touch, even as a slide guitar rings echoes in the background as you are beckoned to ‘Stop… look round.”
Genre-blurring is something Rex has been doing his whole career and with this album, not only do we get to feel the bombastic, guitar driven swagger of rock-n-roll, but there is southern rock here as with ‘So Into You’ with the double Skynyrd-slide harmonies that make up the body of the backwall, and the surprising yet SO cool funk flavor of ‘Grace’ with it’s jangly 70’s sounding guitar line that is a great song in tones, composition and arrangement and the mix just WORKS on every level.
Standout track from this one for me, if I HAVE to pick one, would be ‘Fault Line’ in that Rex has said that he really ‘found’ his voice with this track and once he had it, he knew he could indeed step out front and made the rest just come together. The reach is well within his grasp and hopefully will lead to much more out of this man that so many of us have known of for so long.
In my opinion, he did what a true virtuoso does by metaphorically opening his veins to pour his very essence into these creations and this record is that deep and personal of a gift as he steps through so many doors to deliver on each track. Saying that his motto these days is to “Shake some shit up”, he has certainly delivered here and says this is about musical freedom and fun and puts forth that he’s got SO MUCH more in him and is quote “Just getting my feet wet” Enquote.
Find this ‘train’ and GET ONBOARD, drag all you know with you onto and witness it in a live setting if you get the chance… keep it LOUD!!
To quote him directly, “You’re only as good as your word, and your word better be good.”
Three piece band with a penchant for recording LIVE in the studio and this release that is being touted as not an EP, but part one of a four part release and was recorded in one take per their notes on their bandcamp page. According to their bio, Ruff Majik “has been aggressively marketing their brand of super-stiff rock ‘n roll madness since early 2012. Now they have three EP’s under their belt, an album filled with out-takes from the sessions for this album, and a reputation for wild and aggressive live shows, and they’re coming your way – tie down everything you want to keep, the boys are bringing earthquakes with ’em.” An intriguing descriptor for certain and I had to dive deep in. With the previous recordings, there has always been that garage-sound that lent itself to the ‘live’ feel that these guys tout as their modus-operandi, while keeping that bass-heavy groove they are known for intact.
Let me re-emphasize that these songs were recorded live and in only one take, not stopping for a break between songs but rather charging on through as a means to keep the cohesion true and the feel as ‘real’ as possible. Opener ‘Harpy’ starts off with a staggered drum line, mid-tempo pace, the bass hits four measures in and then the distorted guitar reaches out and grabs your throat before the vocals come out front in classic RM fashion, sounding slightly distorted and still clear in delivery.
Using all of the twists, turns and time shifts of stoner rock/metal you could hope for, ending with that hyper-fuzzed bass line that slowly fades into the opening progression of ‘Gone Down In The Woods Today.’ This is a full throttle galloping track that hits as hard as any SABBATH track with the veracity of a cobra and is relentless in the pummeling heaviness of the arrangement. Still no pause between as closer ‘Breathing Ghosts’ is even faster than the other tracks during the first minute until the vocal hits, tempo shifts and guitar drenched chords leaving their juices running down your chin as you drink it all in to the very last note.
If this is the tone of the next three releases, then the wait will seem unbearable. An amazing jumping point in this next stage of the evolution of this trio, MAJOR leaps in mix and composition and the arrangements truly are stellar in advance over all previous releases and should absolutely signify the turning of the tide for this band. Add it to your ‘rotation’ immediately, make sure every person you know hears it and support them live if they come to your shores…this IS South Africa after all. And as always, keep it LOUD!!
1. Warfarin 07:39
2. Driven to Distraction 05:14
3. Left For Dead 05:38
4. Seeds of the Past 06:17
5. Asphalt 08:57
Hey tasters this is The Ancient One. On the musical menu today are 4 heavy fuzzy psychedelic rockers from Huddersfield, UK. When I first listened to their EP Seeds of the Past I really didn’t know what to make of them. When their 1st track ‘Warfarin’ started out sounding like it was recorded on a old fashioned tape recorder in a garage. Still they had the courage to put music on Bandcamp and ask others to listen so I listened on.
As I sat listening the sound quickly improved and I realized it was an audio effect. What the music reminded of was the Misfits who fearlessly self produced albums on the cheap that they then sold at bargain basement prices. And at other times I was reminded of Faith No More. With vocal powerhouse John Bussey, the rafters rattling drum beats of Chris ‘Foz’ Foster along with Jax Townend’s floor shaking bass and Joe ‘Zeph’ Wilczynski fuzzed out psychedelic riffs, Sound of Origin is not a band to be overlooked.
Some of my favorites on “Seeds of the Past” are ‘Driven to Distraction’ with it’s heavy drum and bass laid down by Foz and Jax. In ‘Left For Dead’ John Bussey’s vocal ability shines through with Zeph’s fuzzy psychedelic guitar. I’m going to keep my eyes open for any future releases by Sound of Origin. If you like this EP you can get it at “NYP” on their Bandcamp page (above) and if you choose to pay nothing show them some love by following them on Bandcamp and giving them a like on Facebook. And while your at it come on over to Taste Nation and give us a like.
Kevin Jones – Bass
Dylan Jarrett – Guitar,
Evan Anderson – Drums,
Tyler Swope – Vocals
Gather round everyone Terry “The Ancient One” has a tale to tell about 4 young rock ‘n rollers from a place called Granite City, Illinois named: Kevin Jones, Dylan Jarrett, Evan Anderson, and Tyler Swope. Known as The Judge. Founded in 2006 by Dylan Jarrett, and Evan Anderson with mutual friend Zack Revelle the bands first incarnation was known as Unfallen which lasted less than a month. But that did not stop Dylan and Evan who had dreams of one day taking the stage and rocking the house down. Determined to make things happen . Dylan started The Jude as a side project with his friend Evan while playing for Ripper(named after the Judas Priest song) started by Andrew Pashea, cousin of Zack Revelle, and drummer Darren Williams.
With some material written and promo videos recorded using home studio software when Ripper split Dylan and Evans dream began taking shape when Evan found the drums they needed to begin rehearsing in Dylan’s home. With Bassist Kevin Jones complimenting Evan Anderson’s hard hitting drum style. The Judge found the heavy sound they were seeking to mix with Dylan Jarrett’s progressive guitar style and soon after Tyler Swope adding his vocal versatility that allowed him to hit the highs of musicians like Robert Plant and lows of Jim Morrison to complete the mix.
After recording their Demo which would later be called The Judge EP released on October 30th 2014 as a free download on Bandcamp The Judge began working in earnest to get its name out by doing more gigs. Compared by fans to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath at some point The Judge gained the attention of Ripple Record. They signed with the label and put out a “Self Titled” debut album that combined 4 tracks from their EP and 5 new tracks. Which is about the time I became aware of The Judge.
Like their first EP and debut LP, The Judge puts their all into their latest album “Tell it to the Judge.” Some compare them to the above aforementioned because The Judge has a hard rockin’ blue collar feel but I could hear other influences in their music. Though it took me several sessions of listening to Tell it to The Judge and the bands other albums to pin it down before I realized I was hearing elements of The Doors,Cream, and The Guess Who in the bands music.
Some of the best songs on this album are ‘Changing World,’ ‘Islands’, ‘High Flyin’and ‘Parade of Sin.’ If you like hard rockin blues music with a psychedelic feel give Tell it to the Judge a listen. If you like what you hear, don’t forget to share this with your friends also be sure to give us a like on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.