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


ELARA “Deli Bal” Album Review + Stream…

ELARA

Deli Bal – Vinyl // CD // DD

PysKA Records – released May 1, 2017

Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner 

 

Lineup:
DANIEL WIELAND – Bass & Vocals
FELIX SCHMIDT – Guitars & Effects
MARTIN WIELAND – Drums & Percussion

Tracklist:
1/A1                Deli Bal 8:32
2/A2                Amida 12:48
3/B1                Quarantania 7:51
4/B2                Harmonia 17:15
5/CD/Digital BONUS  Trimenon 09:41

Review:

ELARA or, as it is stylized on the record, [Elara Sunstreak Band] are a modern “power trio” from Germany. This is how the band describes themselves; [the band] “is the psychedelic journey of three friends for whom music isn’t a quick commodity but the expression of a positive attitude of life. Here, pressure encounters hypnotic sounds and lyrical depth.” Which is from their Bandcamp and the psyka-records.com shop.

 

 

The album art is very reminiscent of a bunch of band posters and album art from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Track 1/A1: ‘Deli Bal’
A quick Google search will give you a translation of the album’s Turkish title; “Mad Honey,” which is a hallucinogenic type of honey found in the rhododendron flower. (Which is shown on the cover)

The title track is the heaviest out of the bunch and the structure shows you how the rest of the album will be. It starts off with a sample (after the buzzing from the amps) we get the slow beginning of our journey through our music induced trip. The music slowly builds until 2:18 then the drums bring us into one of the heaviest parts of the album. We get a few shredding’s of the guitar interspersed with words until we get to around 7:50; wind is introduced and the music begins to slow down again the guitar drones out and we move into…

Track 2/A2 ‘Amida’
This track is a back and forth track, it starts off slow, then speeds up, then slows, then speeds up. It is slow in doing it so it is not jarring when it does but it is a constant tug and pull of speed and tempo. This track is also where the organ comes in, really giving me a feeling of the Acid Mothers Temple Collective. As this song is wrapping up, it does the same as the last track (But with the organ this time.)  Amida is also in Turkey (it is called Diyarbakır now) I think this is where the face on the cover comes from. It is very similar to the Amitābha sculptures. Amidah is a Jewish Prayer.

Track 3/B1 ‘Quarantania’
This song’s structure is close to the first, with less shredding, and ends with an effect that sounds like a tape being slowed.  Quarantania is also called The Mount of Temptation (it said that is where Jesus was tempted by the Devil.) I think that this is what the mountains and rocks are on the album cover.

Track 4/B2 ‘Harmonia’ (My favorite track)
This song is steadier in its tempo and speed and uses the influence of psychedelic rock. The ending sounds like it could loop around and be the beginning of the first track.   There isn’t much that I could find that relates to this track on the internet or the album cover.

Track 5 ‘Trimenon’ (Bonus Track)
Musically it is like Harmonia but in a condensed time. The guitar reminds me of some Middle Eastern music. A direct translation from German is Trimester. In Greek it can either mean 1) of three months or 2) a space of three months.

Live Band Pic

ELARA are toeing the line of being Metal on the shorter songs and more Progressive and Psychedelic on the longer tracks. The album gives me a very 90’s feel but as of writing this I cannot name the reason. The music itself is very similar to Sludge metal with a focus on more of a Classic/Progressive Rock feel (‘Harmonia’ showcasing that). In the heavier songs the music is very Tool-like. That focus on Rock during the slower passages is what (in my opinion) keeps the album from being metal. At points the music reminds me of some of the music from Acid Mothers Temple Collective. Vocally Daniel Wieland reminds me a lot of Scott Kelly (from Neurosis) or the guys from Mastodon. Yes, the music sounds stoner-y but it is more progressive as they even give a nod of their collective cap to Pink Floyd.

My only complaint about this album is the lack of a lyric sheet or lyrics available on the internet.  If you are a novice and just starting in the field of progressive music this should not be your first stop but wouldn’t be a terrible choice for a fourth or fifth experience as their music lends itself to a more sophisticated ear.  If you consider yourself an Audio Aficionado – “Deli Bal” is a MUST BUY!!!!

Take a listen here and buy a copy; CD and/or VINYL

Band Logo


The Judge “Tell It To The Judge” Album Review + More…

The Judge

Tell it to the Judge – Limited Vinyl // CD // DD 

Ripple Music – Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Reviewed by Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler

 

 
The Judge:
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.

 

Live Band Shot

 

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.


KNEI “Juventud de la Gran Ciudad” Album Review + Stream…

KNEI

Juventud de la Gran Ciudad – CD (available May 13th, 2017) //

DD (released December 2, 2016)

Necio Records – CD released May 13, 2017

Reviewed By Santiago “Chags” Gutierrez

 

KNEI comes to us from Argentina, a country that has recently seen a resurgence in its music scene. Juventud de la Gran Ciudad comes courtesy of power trio Nicolas Lippoli (guitar/vocals), Mauro Lopez (bass), and Roberto Figueroa (drums). On just their second full length (La Puera del Sol being their debut back in 2011) they have already established a rather unique sound. What you get here is 70’s inspired classic rock that incorporates a well balance of psychedelic, blues and jazz-like touches.

 

Band Pic in the Studio

 

Their musical prowess shines through on first track, “Juventud de la Gran Ciudad.” Clocking in at over eleven minutes, it showcases their full arsenal of writing skills. It centers, as most good rock songs do, on a powerful riff and adds time changes, experimentation, varied rhythms, and a feel of improvisation. “Vidas Pesadas” follows suit with an unmistakable 70s/psych touch that turns into a fantastic jam session. “Rock de la Mujer” incorporates a bluesy touch, yet ends in wonderful fashion as KNEI playfully interact with their musical ideas. Three tacks in and the listener is already getting lost in the arrangements KNEI has on offer.

“El Inentendido” is yet another blues infused track with great progressions throughout that continue to showcase the bands ability to guide the listener through the architecture of their arrangements. “Los Demonios” follows with a straight-ahead rock approach that incorporates a galloping bass line bordering on doom. Progressive tendencies show up again on “No Te Asustes Ya Mas, Loco”, each member having a chance to shine at different points throughout the track. You can sense how the members have an almost telepathic relationship as they playfully seem to bounce ideas off one another.  “La Tumba” closes the album in glorious fashion, KNEI proving they undoubtedly belong among the higher echelon of current rock bands.

Every track on this record is egregious, KNEI having a knack for taking astounding musical ideas and yet achieving a smooth listening experience. Sung entirely in Spanish, this is still well worth checking out if Spanish is not among your linguistic skills. Lippoli providing an apt vocal style that fits in perfectly with what is going on musically. And what a musical journey it is. If this wasn’t released digitally at the tail end of 2016, it easily would be on my current 2017 “best of” list. ¡Provecho!


Dead Acid People “Mocker Fuzzers” Album Review + Stream…

DEAD ACID PEOPLE 

Mocker Fuzzers – Vinyl // CD // DD

Self Released – Released May 28, 2016

Album Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Born2014

LOCATIONParis, France

Dead Acid People is a stoner rock band formed in 2014. In February, Guillaume (d) had posted an announcement to recruit musicians and Stéphane (g) responds to the call, and after a conclusive test, proposes to Alain (b), his friend, to join them. The trio works assiduously to consolidate the basis of a blend of rock embodying the sounds from Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, all the while injecting their own flavor into these dynamics, and by the end of the year, the group decides to recruit a singer. Several unsuccessful attempts later, in August 2015, with the arrival of Mathieu (v), the “training” is finally complete.

Pro Band Pic_2

 

Fast Forward to March 2016 and we are presented with 35 minutes of this hybrid-stoner/punk meshing that contains 8 tracks that run the rails from the opening progression of ‘Ashes’ that has a single bass progression for two measures before being joined by the six-string as the drumline fast-fades in and we’re off and running with Guillaume, Stéphane and Alainshowing time spent honing their edge as a unit over the last almost two years and when Mathieu’e voice enters at 40 seconds with the words “Everything can burn, everyone must die, everyone, until the crimson sky” the stage is set for the tale of darkness, full of hooks and distortion and a vocal clarity lacking in a lot of first-time releases any more; no pro-tools sounding anything here.

‘Sell Me To The Dust’ hits harder from the first and the staccato drumline is the perfect cadence for the body of, where ‘Happiness’ comes out with bass solo with the minor cymbal-kiss before the rest of the band join in and then we hear “Looking for some happiness, acting like I’m someone else” in a somber almost-monotone before the power chords jump back out and your head is moving again.

Live Band Shot

‘Blood Red Tide’ is another bass-opened track but is faster and fuller and including  some cowbell that fits right in as “Now we dance together, now we dance forever, me myself and I,  we all die under a blood-red tide” before settling into a medium tempo for the first section. ‘Burn Out’ opens with a staggering guitar-swagger before the thunder returns to pummel everything in it’s wake, especially pounding mid-track, before the spaced out solo takes over before that opening stagger hits again to lead through to the end.

‘Let’s Go’ and Burning Man’ each open with a drumline hitting hard before that defining punch in the face from the rest of the band that allows the eerily clear vocal line to deliver the tale of each that keeps you locked down, drinking each nuance in. Standout track for ME, absolutely has to be closer ‘Weird Jimmy’, a rocker with an edge that simply stated “This is a story of Crazy Jimmy. This is the story of a weirdy man” that slams and jams with the power of time shift and winding guitar notes to satiate the masses including a chugging solo that is short enough to not dull the senses but season to taste.

Well worth your time if you don’t have it already, share it with every set of ears you encounter and support them live if they come near you!!


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

 


Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow 2CD ‘Live In Birmingham 2016’ Due In June

In June of 2016, legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore made his much-anticipated return to rock music with the revitalized Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Delivering three powerhouse concerts in Europe, two in Germany and one in England, Blackmore yet again proved why he is such an integral icon of rock and roll.

On June 9th, Eagle Rock Entertainment will issue the ‘Live In Birmingham 2016‘ 2CD and Digital Audio, the first release of the audio from the 2016 British show. Packed with a set list combining classic tracks from both Deep Purple and Rainbow, the 2CD release boasts such classics as “Catch The Rainbow”, “Mistreated”, “Since You Been Gone”, “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll”, “Black Night”, “Spotlight Kid”, “Smoke On The Water”, “Stargazer”, “Perfect Strangers”, and many more. Continue reading…


Album Review – Mothership “High Strangeness”

MOTHERSHIP

High Strangeness – Vinyl // CD // DD

Ripple Music – released March 17, 2017

 

Born Feb 12 2010, Dallas Texas, Consisting of brothers Kyle Juett on bass/lead vocals, Kelley Juett on guitar/vocals, and Judge Smith on drums, these guys have a unique sound that demonstrates that Mothership’s goal from the beginning has been to carry on the tradition of classic rock stylings of the ’70′s, updated and re-calibrated and amped up for the modern day fan of thick lumbering tone maxed out with all the distortion there is to be found.

Eight tracks make up this 33+ minute offering and this represents the third studio album of four releases (based on what I could track down) and in my opinion is the most solid outing from the Juett brothers and Judge Smith together, showing a musicianship that comes from lots of time playing together to become the cohesive unit that MOTHERSHIP shows themselves to be with this outing.

 

Live Band Shot_Good

 

Opener and title track ‘High Strangeness’ is a nice slower even-keel instrumental that will suit the biggest stoner-fan with all of the elements in place to take you back in time to the days of MAHOGANY RUSH with the spaced out guitar solos that fly in and out over the even bass line that carries the melody of this track all the way to the left/right bouncing of some faraway sounding signal that slowly fades out. ‘Ride The Sun’ follows with a faster tempo than the previous and again, shows that virtuoso type of riff that dominated the underground rock world of later 70’s bands including the tone of the likes of UFO and MAX WEBSTER and THE GODZ with the stop/start soloing and phrasing and does not relent during the entire 4 minutes. ‘Midnight Express’ wastes no time with a double-measure drum intro before the brothers kick it in together with a heaviness to the tone that will hit you between the eyes and Judge does his all to be right out in front, hitting his drums as hard as it sounds, and then the last minute of, the pace almost doubles and there is no hesitation to run along with.

‘Crown Of Lies’ has a pace that could almost be a tip of the hat to HEART’s anthem ‘Barracuda’ w/ the double palm-muted gallop picking and is one of the stronger lyrical tracks on this album and is filled with more twists rhythmically than any other track contained, invoking the 70’s gods of jam-bands as the multi-layered solo’s sear your brain with the fury of each note. ‘Helter Skelter’ is NOT a BEATLES cover but instead sounds more like THE HUNT meets DIAMOND HEAD in pace and progressions and tells Mothership’s tale of their own dealings that garnered this moniker. ‘Eternal Trip’ is a pure guitar piece that allows Kelley to shine in his own spotlight with a piece that is hauntingly beautiful in its saturated state of reverb with a clear guitar tone that you can feel rolling across your tongue as you take it in.

 

High Strangeness_Vinyl

 

Standout track on this one for me, oddly enough, is the last song ‘Speed Dealer’ and for the first couple of measures, I felt the need to crank it up to ’11’ for the full impact of this juggernaut of heavy riffs and wash cymbal and was happy as fuck that I did with the power that screamed from the 14’s that were jumping to the quick fade.

They are indeed touring this one RIGHT NOW and it would be in your very best interest to support these guys in the LIVE format for the effect I just got from my measly speakers.  Get the album and catch ’em when they show up in your town!!

Link:

Words by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr


New Album Review – Wheel of Smoke “Mindless Mass”

WHEEL OF SMOKE

Mindless Mass

Release date: July 09th 2016. Label: Self Released. Format: DD/Vinyl

 

Leuven, Belgium’s Wheel Of Smoke play 70s tinted prog covering metallic space/psych/stoner territory, as well as calmer and more melodic songs. There might be a mix of Opeth, Ozric Tentacles, King Crimson, Agalloch and Pink Floyd as well as some elements of pure underground America flavorings reminiscent of the likes of Lone Star (not the country band) and Roy Buchanon and the like with soulful bluesy progressions. Founded June 7 2005, this marks the third full length release and does not depart much from what has become their own signature approach. The band cites their interest as “Providing our fans and public with a memorable experience at our live shows.” and state that they are influenced by “good music, everyday life, knowledge and ritual, and the anthropology of perception” but extend further that Wheel Of Smoke has NO affiliation or affinity with any religious/political beliefs whatsoever. So nothing too esoteric or any social-commentary based fronts. Not a bad thing by any means, particularly when that is the approach of seasoned musicians such as these four show they are with this latest release.

 

Band Pic

 

‘Degeneration’ is the first off and wastes no time with that 3/4 time sig, slight fill every 7th measure approach into the gravel-laced vocal that we can always expect from Filip (guitar/vox) / Erik (guitar/vox)  / Jouk (drums) / Tristan (bass/vox) and this has an inherent heaviness that grabs you by your shirt with no sign of letting go as the lunar-guitar assault screams higher and higher until the song fades among that bass rumble and you breathe deep. ‘Ruins’ has a quicker pace and shows of those KING CRIMSON razor sharp time shifts with guitar breaks to match showing that they are indeed happy to keep pushing the envelope with the timeless mix of fills and outbursts of tweaked wah-pedal glory flying in and out of each verse until the second the song just stops, no warning. ‘Bad Shepard’ hits next with pure 70’s almost dance-hall twang over the fuzzed out base line bouncing behind the rhythm section, sounding almost happy in progression until, just past two minutes when the tone turns noticeably darker and that trademark growl screams out again. ‘Unnamed’ enters with a soft guitar line, ghostly vocal climbing into the picture behind as the crescendo breaks into a trot then a slow-run, while ‘Synchronicity’ has a ‘jig’ tilt to the progression of the body of this song to the point this could be one of those ‘audience participation’ songs with lines like “We all know what it feels like” before the snap-pop tempo shift back into the next verse. I can almost see it in my mind’s eye when we hear “Hey” before the chorus rains again into your ears. ‘No More TV’ has a softer intro but breaks right into full unrelenting gallop as we hear of the fucked-up dream leading to a scream and then we are told “Let’s go drinking…” and the fuzzed out bass leads to an even faster run through as we run right along through the entire six minutes plus of this crowd-rouser type of song, executed with a surgical precision of solo attacks left and right, perfectly punctuating this track.

‘Feral’ is the last offering on here, and in my opinion, is the strongest composition recorded utilizing all the tools in their collection from a multi-layered vocal mix giving more substance and body as well as even using harmonic bends at the end of the solo-runs giving even more flavor to what has already been a feast for the mind and the bass/drum line could not be tighter or more precise than what is captured in this opus that clocks in at one second short of eight minutes. The shift to the spaced-out runs littered with revered and slight delay galore will make you feel the ground leave the bottom of your shoes in that stoner-rock way.  As you are rising along with the note-scales searing your veins as your pulse quickens to match the tempo for the last half of this final chapter that grows more and more complex and intricate driving madly towards that final three chord burst that ends with a dead-stop. My ears were almost ringing with the silence.

 

Band Logo

 

Amazing production, levels above each previous release and shows they are ready to rise out of the underground. If you are a fan, this is a must have, if you are new to the camp, great introduction and will make you appreciate the ‘precursors’ to this release as you witness the growth of each part of the machine that makes up Wheel Of Smoke. Based on the ‘live’ vibe they profess, I recommend going to see them if you get the chance!! \m/

Words by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr