Xanthochroid “Of Erthe and Axen” Album Review + Video…

XANTHOCHROID 

Of Erthe and Axen – Act I (of 2) – CD // DD

Self Released – August 22nd, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

 

Born:  January 2005

Location:

Lake Forest, California USA

Previous Releases:

“Blessed He With Boils” (2012)

“Incultus” (2014)

Disc I [Act I]
01. Open the Gates, O Forest Keeper
02. To Lost And Ancient Gardens
03. To Higher Climbs Where Few Might Stand
04. To Souls Distant And Dreaming
05. In Deep And Wooded Forests Of My Youth
06. The Sound Of Hunger Rise
07. The Sound Of A Glinting Blade
08. The Sound Which Has No Name

 

Review:
Listing influences from ALIEN ANT FARM to Opeth, Moonsorrow to Wintersun and even DIMMU BORGIR, this three piece has no compunction about letting you know that this is not your average ‘every-man’ style of music but geared more towards the intelligencia among us and have all of the tools in their possession to show you why. They are self-described as ‘an Epic Black-Metal band that strives to produce the most sophisticated and enthralling compositions’, further citing that Xanthochroid is ‘not for the casual listener, but for the true connoisseur who demands more depth, more detail, and more musicality than what is out there presently.’

Pro Band Pic

From the winding recesses of the mind of Sam Meador, the focus of the band came together through combining the desire to create moving stories with a love for pagan mythology into an ever evolving mythos, the music tells a story of a long power struggle between Thanos and Ereptor, two brothers who are heir to a deceased king fighting over the rightful kingship of the land of Septentria. This release and Part II (due Oct 17 2017) are being touted as a prequel to the two previous releases, further filling in the missing from the tales as woven to this point.

Xanthochroid offers up 8 tracks totaling 43 minutes and each is presented in the full cinematic method this trio has established to be their norm. Even the names of the individual tracks invoke a feeling of more than just another song title, from opener ‘Open The Gates O Forest Keeper’ which immediately popped Opeth in my brain, to ‘In Deep and Wooded Forests of My Youth’ that has all of the flourish of any black/folk song out there with the added panache of vocals that come out of the surrounding mists you can smell as the music flows across and underneath you. Operatic at times, multi-layered harmonies and instrumentation executed with bravado in precision-filled performances.

The last three tracks I would presume to be a three-part tome as each has a specific ‘Sound’ reference, ‘The Sound Of Hunger Rises’, ‘The Sound of a Glinting Blade’ and ‘The Sound Which Has No Name’, all strung together. Flowing one to the next and wrapping this with the darkest track musically, almost sounding as if Dany Filth himself had a hand in the writing.

The anticipation for Part II is already building and with this release, the scope widens even further! If you are not a fan yet, get this as a perfect starting point and if are already ‘aware’, continue the voyage adding this release to your library, share those that do not know and witness the spectacle LIVE if you are granted the chance… keep it LOUD!!

Pro Band Pic


Collide “Color of Nothing” Album Review + Stream…

COLLIDE

Color Of Nothing – CD // DD

Self Released + Crowdfunded – released May 25, 2017

Album Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Formed – 1992

LocationLos Angeles, California USA

MemberskaRIN – vox / Statik – sounds

Previous Releases – “Beneath The Skin” (1996), “Distort” remix collection (1998), “Chasing The Ghost (2000), “Some Kind Of Strange” (2003), “Vortex” remix collection (2004), “Like The Hunted” DVD/Live CD (2005), “Two Headed Monster” (2008), “These Eyes Before” (2009), “Counting To Zero” (2011), “Bent And Broken” (2012)

COLLIDE is a duo founded in 1992 incorporating elements of electronica, trip hop and synth-pop combined with a darker edge to create something esoteric in nature and ethereal in execution, delivering a hybrid that is like nothing before. They have worked with artists of the highest esteem during their existence including the likes of Charlie Clouser, Dean Garcia (CURVE) and Danny Carey (TOOL), and they keep pumping out their own flavor of music to the masses.

“Color Of Nothing” is the first offering in almost five years and kaRIN and Statik decided this time out to fund the album publicly, citing this move as a way to gauge if anyone still cared… with this release, the answer is a resounding YES and the result is amazing!!

 

Promo Pic

 

Eleven tracks clocking in at just over an hour, this collection of songs represents the BEST yet to come from this powerhouse and shows they are in top form and ready to take their place in your library. From the opening track ‘Wake Up’ through to closer ‘Pale Blue’, the edge is right there with all the ‘fixings’ to make this a feast for your auditory senses, including twists and turns to keep you moving all along. Flavorings of bands like KMFDM and MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT are sprinkled throughout with a splash here and there of LORDS OF ACID type progressions all serving kaRIN’s existential voice that cuts through with razor-precision and hits you between the eyes with her haunting delivery. ‘Soul Crush’ is a great example as she reminds us that “We are all human” in her signature siren-song voice.

‘Fix’ shines extra bright for ME, as the standout track from this album. Soft and slow for the first 40 seconds before the drum line hits between your eyes and then kaRIN grabs hold and drags you along, willingly through the guitar lines and floating hypnotic melody of the rest of the body of the song.  Even as drum fills jump out at you here and there, making the flow seamless as you traverse along Statik’s masterful arrangement. I could go on and on about each track here as they are each as strong as every other composition brought together here, but the BEST way for you to understand this record is to go GET IT, share it with every pair of ears you come across.  Support Collide in the live format if you are blessed with the opportunity and most importantly, keep it LOUD!!

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Metal Blade Records: Cirith Ungol “King Of The Dead” Ultimate Edition [Remastered] + Unwrapping Video

CIRITH UNGOL

King Of The Dead (Ultimate Edition) – Vinyl // CD // DD

Metal Blade Records – Re-Mastered // Re-Issued – Out NOW!!!

Album Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

Unwrapping Video and Picture by Matthew Thomas

 

 

Founded –  1972

Band Members –

Tim Baker – vocals (1976-1992, 2015 – current)

Jim Barraza – guitars (1988-1992, 2015 – current)

Robert Garven – drums (1972-1992, 2015 – current)

Greg Lindstrom – guitars (1972-1982, 2015 – current)

Jarvis Leatherby – bass (2015 – current)

Vernon Green – bass (1988-1992)

Michael “Flint” Vujejia – bass (1972-1987)

Jerry Fogle – guitars (1972-1987)

Neal Beattie – vocals (1972-1975)

 

This re-issue is a welcome gift to the fans they have been accumulating since the first incarnation of California based Cirith Ungol in 1972 and have been growing ever since. If you have never experienced all that IS Cirith Ungol, let me give you a quick history lesson. Greg Lindstrom, Robert Garven, Jerry Fogle and Pat Galligan played together in the band Titanic, their first band in junior high school. With a growing desire to play heavier music like that of bands like Mountain and Grand Funk Railroad, the band parted with Galligan and reformed in 1972 as Cirith Ungol. They played original, instrumental songs before adding Neal Beattie on vocals. By 1976, Beattie had departed and Tim Baker took over vocal duties in 1976. The band was signed to Enigma Records in 1980 where they issued their first album “Frost & Fire”, composed of songs in the style they had become known for and complete with fantasy-based lyrics (particularly sword and sorcery). The band pioneered a style of music that has become known by tags as “early epic doom” and “power metal” today. Their second album, “King Of The Dead”, was released in 1984 with eight songs, followed by “One Foot In Hell” (1986) with another eight songs in much the same vein. They disbanded after their fourth album “Paradise Lost” was released in 1991 due to “…frustration with the music business” by their own admittance.

Per the band’s Facebook page, the band took their name from the mountain pass Cirith Ungol in J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy novel “The Lord Of The Rings”, as the name translates from the Elves’ native tongue as “Pass Of The Spider.” While the place in Tolkien’s book is pronounced “kirith ungol,” the band pronounced it “sirith ungol.” Surviving members of the band came together for the 2015 Frost And Fire music festival in Ventura, California, in their first public appearance as a band since 1991. There they participated in a meet-and-greet, signing items for fans and announcing that they would re-unite for the 2016 Frost And Fire event, playing their first live show since December 13, 1991. Leading us to this amazing package for those of us that have been fans of theirs from some point in the history of this iconic early thrash/doom powerhouse, as well as the new fans that deserve to have their appetite fed with the revitalized original tracks and then feast on the extras!!

cu package watermark

With these remastered tracks, there is a new life from each, from ‘Atom Smasher’ to ‘Black Machine’, through ‘Master Of The Pit’ to the fan-favorite ‘King Of The Dead’ title track.  The rich tone and ripping guitar edge are enough to literally sink your teeth into as Tim’s signature vox rip through your flesh as ‘Death Of The Sun’ and ‘Finger Of Scorn’ raise your pulse even faster. For the digipak version, there is a second version of ‘Tocatta In D’ that is done as ‘…Dm’ and has a feel of a new version. There are also more audible notes than the original, it clocks in longer and sounds like the perfect update, even if only a remix from the masters. That is followed by the theme song for the band that is as heavy now as back then but with an even cleaner sound, the title track from the first ‘Frost & Fire’. This ‘expanded’ version of the release has a remixed version of that title track from ‘Frost & Fire’ that is just incredible. The digi version has 4 live performances from 1983 and an extra “alternate mix” of ‘Death Of The Sun’ that RIPS like razors. “The King Of The Dead – Ultimate Edition” digipak CD features a full re-mastering by Patrick W. Engel at Temple Of Disharmony, the five bonus tracks, expanded packaging and a bonus-DVD! Get it NOW and take the ride again… or for the first time and share it out to any that do not know…


MADLIFE “Precision in the Face of Chaos” Album Review & Music Video…

MADLIFE

Precision In The Face Of Chaos – CD // DD

Bleeding Nose Records – Released May 5th, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

 

Formed – 2000

Current Lineup Angry Phill -v / Isaiah Stuart -g / Kyle Cunningham -d / DieTrich Thrall -b

Previous Releases “Madlife” EP (2005) / “Music As Harsh As The World We Live In” EP  (2005) / “Angry Sonnets For The Soul” (2007) re-released via Universal /Fontana / RBE (2009) / “21st Century Megalomaniac” (2013)

Quote– “Developed in early 2000, the industrial hard rock band from Los Angeles was contrived between guitarist Isaiah Stuart and Lead Singer Angry Phill. They found common ground in their like and respect for multiple styles of music, largely in hard rock, industrial, electronic and classic pop. During this time, “The expression of emotion,” says Phill, “And the range of musical depth allowed MADLIFE the luxury to explore the human condition.” Enquote.

Pro Band Shot

This is a band that has been touring endlessly, playing festivals all the way from the world-famous Milwaukee Metalfest, the Mayhem Festival and Rock Hard At The Park, to name a few, they have shared the stage with the likes of KORN / SLAYER / PRONG / ALL THAT REMAINS / TRIVIUM and so many more, it is no wonder they have endorsements in place and are ready to unleash a new one on the world and the timing couldn’t be better.

***The band has current endorsements from Ernie Ball, In Tune Guitar Picks, Schecter Guitars, Fryette Amps, Line 6, and Meinl Cymbals.***

Listing their influences as bands ranging from ROB ZOMBIE to COMBICHRIST to MUSHROOMHEAD  to LINKIN PARK, MADLIFE has combined these elements and more into this fifth official release and comes out swinging HARD from the first second to the very end.  This album can very well take this Los Angeles based band to the next level.

Songs with all of the edge and attitude we have come to expect from Phill are in extreme abundance as with ‘Just One Gun’ where we get asked right off “Would you like to sing that angry song with me?” to the pummeling, staggered-beat intro of ‘Nothing Changes’ to straight ahead machine bounce of ‘Pain Of Pleasure’, each taking you in a different direction showing all of the listed influences seasoned with just enough rage-to-taste making it MADLIFE’s blend on your fork even with ‘Love Song’ hammering your ears with that special sauce that we have come to know.

12 songs clocking in at 43 minutes and for me, two standout from the rest, and for completely different reasons. ‘Rockstar’ hits hard with a DOPE meets UNION UNDERGROUND sorta punch and describes all the trappings that drive so many to be in this business and has that MADLIFE sonic-kick intact and full force. Then, there’s ‘All The Angels’ that screams from the first and has that hook that doesn’t let go.

Stellar production values, songs that deliver and leave you wanting more. Sounds like one to get NOW and play until your ears are ringing. Support them live if they come near you and keep it LOUD!!

Thank you to AGAINST PR AGENCY and Bleeding Nose Records for the Promo

Band Logo


Beastmaker “Inside The Skull” Album Review & Music Video…

Beastmaker

Inside the Skull – Vinyl // CD // DD

Rise Above Records – Release Date: May 19th, 2017

Reviewed by Santiago “Chags” Gutierrez

 

“Do you believe that someone out of the past – someone dead – can enter and take possession of a living being?” This is certainly an intriguing question asked by the character of Gavin in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, Vertigo. When pertaining to Beastmaker, the answer is a wholehearted YES! Beastmaker seem possessed by early Black Sabbath and other similar vintage doom rock from the past. These Californians have invoked those spirits to produce, what is in my book, a top ten contender for 2017.

Live band Pic

Beastmaker recorded Inside the Skull in three days. Andres Alejandro Saldate (drums) mixed and mastered while Trevor William Church (guitars/vocals) engineered. The band is rounded off by John Tucker (bass). Johanna Sadonis from Lucifer lends her unmistakable voice to “Heaven to Hell” and “Now Howls the Beast”. Knate from Salem’s Pot also makes a guest appearance. His contribution seamless given his track record with Salem’s Pot.

Church relates that the album was inspired by a myriad of topics. The base of the inspiration coming from horror movies such as Tomb of the Blind Dead. Thriller and suspense literature and movies such as the previously mentioned Vertigo by Hitchcock, and a distaste for organized religion were also cited as influences. The simple, yet effective, album cover was rendered by Branca Studios and perfectly conveys the contents therein. All ten tracks purveying a hauntingly doomy background to their style of old vintage metal.

 

 

Opening number “Evil One” initiates the proceedings with a wonderful doomy riff that drives the song along at a brisk pace. Album closer “Sick Sick Demon” bookending the album in much the same way. “Heaven to Hell” is a more varied track that ebbs and flows with its tempos. “Now Howls the Beast” and “Inside the Skull” feature some impressive solos. “Nature of the Damned” and “Psychic Visions” providing a mid-tempo that keeps things varied enough to create a dynamic album.

Beastmaker has created a memorable doom rock album with vintage overtones that does not disappoint. Inside the Skull is due to release on May 19th via Rise Above Records. Yes, Rise Above, so you pretty much know what is in store. It’s the perfect label for this band. They will be touring in May and June with Zakk Sabbath, so catch them live if you can. Now, in the words of the character Madeleine from Vertigo, “there is something I must do.” So, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll take another listen (or two) to this one.

Tour Schedule


SKUNK “Doubleblind” – Album Review & Stream…

SKUNK 

Doubleblind – CD // DD

Self Released – April 20, 2017

Reviewed by Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler

Not long before I went to bed last night the admin at Taste Nation LLC asked me to listen to Oakland, California SKUNK’s new album DOUBLEBLIND and share my thoughts. Problem was it was near midnight and I had to be up at 5AM so I postponed it for my morning commute to work. Man what an eye opener. Usually I’m draggin’ ass when I get out the door in the morning and need a few cups of coffee before I can put on my nice face. This morning was different. When I heard the opening riffs to Forrest Nymph I knew it was gonna be a good day.  Out of the gates you get catchy bluesy riffs and Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother-like vocals.   The album caught me between the eyes in the opening 4:30 minute offering.  Hooked by the wicked Hooks!!

 

Pro Band Shot

 

Upon further listen, I heard some real hard rockin’ tunes that sounded something like a combination of Bonn Scott Era AC/DCNazareth and Grand Funk Railroad paying homage to tits and weed!  While the music seems relatively simple, that is exactly what I like about SKUNK.  I don’t need a degree in music, English Literature or Art to understand it.  SKUNK seems to have figured out that people want to be able to feel like they are part of the music and they effectively make you part of the music with rock n’ rollin’ riffs, chugging bass grooves big booming drums (with plenty of cow bell) and clear vocals that ain’t mush mouthed.

If Skunk is ever doing a show were you live go because I have the feeling there will be lots of beer, weed, and chicks at the show. Some of my favorites from DOUBLEBLIND were ‘Forest Nymph’, ‘Mountain Child’, ‘Harvest Queens’, ‘Wizard Bong’ and ‘Devil Weed’.  If your looking for some hard rockin’ music for your party or to get you pumped up for work then look no further than SKUNK.  If you like classic hard rock then I am sure you will like SKUNK.

Band Members:

John McKelvy – Vocals
Dmitri Mavra – Guitar
Erik Pearson – Guitar
Matt Knoth – Bass
Jordan Ruyle – Drums

 


Night Demon “Darkness Remains” – Album Review…

Night Demon

Darkness Remains (Deluxe Edition) – Vinyl // CD // DD // Streaming..

Century Media – Street Date: April 21, 2017

Reviewed by David “The Lovely” LaMay

 

Ventura, California’s Night Demon is, with little doubt, becoming a  ferocious, unstoppable monster within the overall underground metal movement. Though their excellent 2012 debut e.p. seemed to sneak under the radar, it had the goods to land them a deal with powerhouse label Century Media. From there, in early 2015, the band released ‘Curse of The Damned’, a future classic of NWOTHM (New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal) and has followed it up with seemingly relentless touring and a live delivery that will melt your face off, straight down to the bone. Catch Jarvis Leatherby (bass, vocals), Dusty Squires (drums), and newbie Armand John (guitars) off-stage, and they’re every bit as cool as their music is hot.  How can they possibly make the scenario any more appealing to metal fans? Easy- By releasing ‘Darkness Remains’.

Night-Demon_band

 

Now, if you’re worried that the band has left its roots behind or grown beyond what’s made them so appealing thus far, rest easy. If you’re new to them, well, here is as good as any a place to start.

With a catchy as hell, old-school sound firmly in place, the band has wisely chosen not to attempt reinventing the wheel. Instead, they have fine-tuned the machine so that the 10 regular and 2 bonus cover tracks (including Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ in a really fresh, yet recognizable format) pulse and pound with earthy preciseness.   Foreboding hooves gallop furiously through dark terrain like ‘Hallowed Ground’ and ‘Black Widow’, while mid-pacers ‘Stranger In The Room’ and ‘On Your Own’ really hammer home the early 80’s charm. The title track is the biggest surprise, showing the trio being as adept at penning a tranquil, almost Sabbathy psych vibe as anything else they’ve tackled thus far.

Individually, Jarvis’ melodic, “every man” vocals ala Guy Speranza (R.I.P./Riot) or Chris Bradley (Savage) are smoother and more assured, as is Dusty’s drumming. Armand John’s new role in the band is proving to be a great addition; the riffs are still blazing sharp, but his sense of melody is keener than his predecessor’s, tightening the trio’s sound down to the smallest details. Topping it all off is the robust, vibrant production ‘Curse’ could have used, but never got.

Quartz, Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Jaguar, Cirith Ungol, Slough Feg and the like are nice touchstones to get an idea where Night Demon is coming from.  In the end, they manage to get their own thing going in full force with ‘Darkness Remains’. This record isn’t good, or even great. It’s downright fantastic. I am, once again, blown away by this band to no end. Essential – Ohhhh, hell yes!

March 4, 2017 (Saratoga Springs, NY)- From Left To Right: Armand John, Dave Lampkins, Jarvis, Myself, and Dusty kneeling in front. They tore that joint doooown!
Dave & Night Demon

ASHEN HORDE ‘The Alchemist’ EP Review & Stream; Lyric Video

Ashen Horde

The Alchemist:  DD – March 14th // Limited 7″ Vinyl – shipping around April 14, 2017

Los Angeles, the city of lost, or fallen angels in this case, is home to the the two-man duo that is Ashen Horde. That duo, multi-instrumentalist Trevor Portz and vocalist Stevie Boiser, have just recently issued their 2-song EP, “The Alchemist“. If you know anything about this project then you know what they specialize in: fiercely scathing, viciously volatile blackened thrash metal. That fact is more then validated and reinforced here as these two tracks, “Arisen” (lyric video below) and “Fallen“, channel a transformative tempest of sonics that pummel your senses. Dizzying leads race to and fro upon the frets while machine gun-like drums pound away and drive the tracks with ever-forward propulsion.

Pro Band Shot

 

Keeping things fluid and even somewhat on the melodic side, the Ashen Horde pair unquestionably deliver the goods with their solid, well-structured style of what is akin to controlled chaos.  It is furiously Metallic music through and through while the powerful, razor blade-throat vocals snarl forth their venomous verbiage without relent. So, the latest call to the altar from Ashen Horde, “The Alchemist,” is streaming on their Bandcamp (below) and I recommend you give it a spin if so inclined.

For bands who like:  Skeletonwitch, Goatwhore, Satyricon

 

Link:

 

 Words by Patrick “Riot” Whitaker


New Album Review – Kingnomad “Mapping The Inner Void”

Kingnomad

Mapping The Inner Void – Vinyl / CD / DD

Ripple Music – Release Date: February 25th 2017

 

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

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

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

 

Band shot with Ripple

 

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

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

 

Pro Band Shot

 

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

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

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

 

Great Live Pic

 

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

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

Reviewed by Andy “Esteban Dinger” Beresky