The Ugly Kings “Darkness Is My Home” Review + Stream…

The Ugly Kings

Darkness Is My Home – CD // DD // Vinyl

Kozmik Artifactz – released April 13, 2018

Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner

 

Lineup:
Russel Clark (Vocals)
Christos Athanasias (Guitar)
Nicolas Dumont (Bass)
Andy Alkemade (Drums)

 

Tracklist:
Promised Land     04:53
Black Widow        03:53
Raging Bull           03:21
Killing Time         04:31
Love Enemy         03:56
You & Me             03:58
Lazarus                 05:43
Little Birdy Told Me 04:10
The Fire                06:24

 

 

Review:

The Ugly Kings are a Rock band from Melbourne, Australia. I’ll let the band explain themselves further; “[we] offer a stripped down but powerful injection of energy and emotion to the modern rock scene [by] formulating what can only be described as ‘Power Blues’ [with] memorable beats, thunderous bass lines and an electrifying barrage of bluesy ‘grit’ riffs tied with raw and emotive vocals.”

Darkness Is My Home is the first full length album by the band. (The previous releases being a E.P. of sorts, Of Sins, and a single, Promised Land, which is the same as the version on this release but has a b-side that is not on this album.)

Overall the band’s sound is a mix of early Classic Rock and are heavily inspired by Blues Rock. The perfect descriptor tag for the album is Doom Blues with Rock flair. In a way this album sounds like you can chop up and mix it up and make different songs each time. At the same time I like that it sounds that it was recorded in one take in a converted garage to studio.

Track-by-track: (Briefly)

Promised Land: I found a quote from the band on the song; “‘Promised Land is about the false promises that are preached to us by the charlatans of our society (politicians, big business, etc…). It’s about the pipe dream they sell us to keep us in servitude to the 1%, to keep us slaves to the dollar and material things. There is nothing at the top of the ladder, except another ladder. The Promised Land isn’t the destination we get sold, it’s inside of us.”

The band also have a beautifully shot video for the track too.

 

 

Black Widow: This is the 2nd hardest rocking track on the album. There is a bunch of back and forth in the tempo. It is also what I imagine the cover art comes from. (That and for Love Enemy)

Raging Bull: This is the hardest rocking track on the album. The riffs on this song sounds so familiar and I can’t think of what it is from.

Killing Time: Watch the music video for this track HERE

Love Enemy: This is a slower and more blues filled track. They sit on the riff while Russell is delivering the vocals. This track also feels like it could be a 2nd part to Black Widow.

You & Me: This is where the title of the album comes from. This is another slow track.

Lazarus: This track is a cover of David Bowie’s Lazarus from his swan song album “Blackstar” and the band manage to make it their own while keeping the original close at hand.

Little Birdy Told Me: Kind of feels like Love Enemy.

The Fire: Is my favourite track from the album.

Pro Band Pic

 

 

 


Cosmic Fall “In Search Of Outer Space” Album Review + Stream…

Cosmic Fall

In Search Of Outer Space – Vinyl // CD // DD

Reviewed by Terry ‘The Ancient’ Cuyler

“Cruisin’ Under The Stars…”

 

Tracklist:
Jabberwocky       (11:36)
Narcotic Vortex  (08:00)
Purification         (04:12)
Lumberjam         (06:56)
Spacejam             (07:44)
Icarus                   (04:50)

Lineup:
Drums: Daniel Sax
Bass & Vocals: Klaus Friedrich
Guitar: Marcin Morawski

 

 

Hello all, today I am feeling nice and mellow a feeling I enjoy, though it often evades me. But that’s okay. Good mellows are often fleeting things and should be enjoyed in the moment without worrying about getting back to the grind. For me the moment came on my morning commute to work as I tuned the world around me out with the music on my iPhone and took a 43 minute interstellar jaunt into the cosmos as I road the city bus with all the bleary eyed early morning commuters.

Playing in my headphones was the music of a trio of Heavy Psyche rockers from Berlin, Germany called Cosmic Fall. Some of you may recall me reviewing their split album with  APHODYL called “Starsplit” last year that left me wanting to hear more of their music. Well seems I got my wish for more Cosmic Fall. On March 30th the Cosmic Fall released its 3rd album ‘In Search Of  Outer Space’ that is currently available as a digital download or CD, and soon to follow is The Vinyl which will be released May 30th and available for Preorder April 30th. Whew, now that I got all that out I can tell you you are in for amazing Heavy Psych music with this new release.

Filled with swinging bass grooves, and jazzy drumming done by bassist Klaus Friedrich and drummer Danial Sax Jabberwocky wows the listener as the new Cosmic Fall guitarist Marcin Morawski  begins lay down the space fuzz while Klaus surprises the listeners with some mellow vocals.

Though I ain’t into Narcotics the album’s 2nd track Narcotic Vortex feels like a good replacement for them. The guitar and bass have a real dirty feel that becomes real mellow before Dan begins his drum solo creating a bridge for Klaus and Martin to bring the music to its peak. Track 3 and 4 Purification and Lumberjam seem to be aptly named and are quite possibly my favorites from this album. Dan’s soft taping on the cymbals while Klaus gently noodles his bass and Martin does some soothing pick work that feels like a refreshing rain storm that cleans the city streets. Next is Lumberjam. Dan and Klaus set a rhythm as Martin saws out the leads like a buzz saw. Feeling like a musical version of the Voyager Satellite traveling through deep space, Dan and Klaus set a nice smooth rollin tempo while Martin picks and uses what I believe are effects peddles and the volume knobs to create the spaced out feeling to this song. Closing “In Search Of Outer Space” is Cosmic Fall’s retelling of the Greek tale of Icarus. Klaus really doesn’t have to sing a word. You can feel the tale with its lofty soaring guitar that finally comes crashing down.

“In Search Of Outer Space” is definitely worth owning on vinyl. Full of mind blowing Heavy Psych rock. The album artwork is by Klaus Friedrich  and layout by Daniel Sax.  The album was Mixed and Produced by Marcin Morawski & Co-produced Sax and Friedrich; making this a self produced gem!!  Highly recommend!

Blue Logo


Black Space Riders “Amoretum Vol. 1” Album Review + Stream + Videos + Lyrics

BLACK SPACE RIDERS

AMORETUM Vol.1 – Vinyl // CD // DD

Self Released – January 26, 2018

Reviewed By Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler

***The Riders Mount Up Again***

 

Line Up:
JE (VOX, Guitars)
SLI (Guitars)
MEI (Bass)
C.RIP (Drums)
SEB (VOX)

Previous Releases:
2010 – S/T Black Space Riders,
2012 – Lights In the New Black,
2014 – D:REI,
2015 – Refugeeum
2016 – Beyond Refugeem

Musical Influences:
Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Thin Lizzy, The Chameleons, David Bowie, Bauhaus, Tom Waits, Slayer, Motorpsycho

Hello once again friends, this is The Ancient One and today I’d like to tell you about some out of this world music by a Quintet of space rockers from Münster, Germany called the Black Space Riders. In 2008 founding members JE, SLI, SAQ and C.RIP sought to give the music world music that could truly be called PSYCHEDELIC SPACE ROCK and created what they call a “NEW WAVE of HEAVY PSYCHEDELIC SPACE ROCK”. After listening to their current Album AMORETUM Vol. 1 released January 26th, 2018 and  with their past releases I gotta say the band and their style of rock are aptly named.

What I enjoy most about the music is the detached far away sound. To create their take on the psychedelic space rock sound Black Space Riders seems to have combined desert rock, electronic music, a bit of 80’s new wave and some Post Punk with powerful vocals with anthem-like lyrics on the 2 most recent albums. If I were to compare them to anyone I’d say that I’m often reminded of Pink Floyd, and David Bowie with a harder edge.

Live Band Pic

When I first gave AMORETUM Vol. 1 a spin I was really not impressed with the first song however what followed changed my mind as I quickly realized Lovely Lovelie was a cornerstone for the rest of the album to be built on to give the listener a good starting point. It’s also a play on words.  Lovely Lovelie – Lovely Love Lie get it. I didn’t because maybe I am a Doofus. Also its not a single song in a collection of songs that are put together simply because the sound fits with the occasional filler song to make the album longer. Rather its part of an album with a theme created by Black Space Riders. Although theme albums are nothing new to me, Black Space Riders may quite possibly have delivered a Magnum Opus with this one!

Refusing to be swallowed by the darkness AMORETUM  Vol. 1 is the  follow up to their July 2015 album “REFUGEEUM” that came out when it seemed the world had gone mad with fear and hate in Europe. Continuing to rage against that darkness  with in us all Black Space Riders have mounted up and released AMORETUM  Vol. 1 which is about conflict and seeks to inspire us to overcome our dark side. Specifically the conflicts between fear, hate, and rejection, darkness on the one hand, and love, empathy, and care light on the other. This album and band seem to be very relevant with acute razor-like lyrics that seek for positivity and rejecting hate…universally!!  The superb musicianship by these veteran rockers shine with each new release and is again evident with Amoretum Vol. 1

Rather than bore you all to death with a track by track description of all the songs I am going to provide you links to my favorites on YouTube and  Bandcamp and let you decide for yourselves.

 

Track Listing with Lyrics

 

LOVELY LOVELIE

Get back to your beds, hide in your hole

You lovers collapse while facing your fall

A paradise will no longer exist,

peace and love can no longer resist

Erupting fear breaking the wall

Lovely lovelie

Our garden, destroyed, taken by storm

We‘re bringing the harm, the hideous swarm

A love so deep, now determined to die,

wrapped and muffled by hate

Get back to your beds, here comes the storm

Lovely lovelie

Get back to your beds, hide in your hole

A love so deep, now determined to fall

Get back to your beds, facing your fall

Erupting fear tearing down every wall

Get back to your beds, hide in your …

Lovely lovelie

Lovely, lovely lie …

Another Sort of Homecoming

The times were terrifying

and coldness wrapped me up

I‘d been sent to see, to seek, to save

A long way to the top

How they turned their lives

into a mellow mass:

how they shed their feelings and their souls

forgot about the past

So, day by day

I denied my moaning heart

and repelled temptation, brave and strong,

to join and fall apart

Now it‘s time to change

My longing growing strong

Leave this place and coming home again

is what I really want

GO! Time to return to my ground

GO! I have to leave these souls I found

GO! Time to rest under the shield

GO! Energy!

Another sort of coming home

 

Live Band Pic 2

SOUL SHELTER (Inside Of Me)

Bringing back the sunshine

Remembering the light

A place attacked from outside

I keep this place inside

Inside of me, inside of me

Garden of completeness

A warm and tender light

A place attacked by darkness

Don‘t hide this place inside

Soul Shelter – Inside of me, inside of me

Soul Shelter – Inside of me, inside of you

Silent is the inside

All quiet now and clear

Knocking from the outside:

denial, hate and fear

Soul Shelter – Inside of me, inside of me

Soul Shelter – Inside of me, inside of you

 

MOVEMENTS

Just a glimpse of something lost,

flickering in my mind

Like a memory from the past, echoing

Ground control, lost control, no control

In a place where I belonged:

echoes from the past

In a time I called my home, wandering

Ground control, lost control, no control

How I missed the ones I loved,

moments passing by

Still I‘m waiting for the call, remembering

Ground control, lost control, no control

Movements

Comes a time, comes a time of reunion

Comes a place, comes a place of communion

Comes a time, comes a time of affection

Comes a place, comes a place of attraction

Comes a time, comes a time when we meet again

Comes a place, comes a place where we meet again

Comes a time, comes a time when we love again

Comes a place, comes a place where we live again

Stop and rest – consider and remember

Stop the quest – rethink and now remember

Rest, remain – and realize amazing

grace, retain – the echoes of your living

Go and see – now realize the beauty

Go and turn – now realize the grace

Go, return – get hold of all the beauty

Go and feel – compassion to embrace

Movements

Comes a time, comes a time when we meet again

Comes a time of reunion

Comes a place, comes a place where we meet again

Comes a place of communion

Comes a time, comes a time when we love again

Comes a time of affection

Comes a place, comes a place where we live again

Comes a place of attraction

Realize the grace

Realize the beauty now

Echoes from the past

Passion to embrace

Movements

 

COME AND FOLLOW

Follow me, take my hand

Don‘t look back, just trust my way

Follow me, leave this place

I will take you far away

Watch my shades: familiar shape

with sweetest taste of the unknown

Bite into tender doom

Worship and adore my throne

Beautiful but treacherous

Rotten to the bone

Serpentine but sensual

A queen of hearts dethroned

Now you love, now you know:

adoration brings the light

Idolize, now you‘re lost

I take you to the other side

Beautiful but treacherous

Rotten to the bone

Serpentine but sensual

A queen of hearts dethroned

Come on follow me into the darkness

Come and follow me, follow my love

Come on follow me, beauty is transforming

Come on follow me into the dark

 

FRIENDS ARE FALLING 

Open your arms after closing your thinking for ages

Missing the trust that you lost on your way to the stars

Fighting the hating has taught you to hate for ages

Remind you your mission was based on a vision of love

Open your mind to the memory of love and affection

Missing your friends who vanished while you‘ve been

away

Yearning for turning to someone so close and familiar

Remind you your mission was based on a vision of faith

Falling, friends are falling

Falling and lost in a vision of trust

Falling but lost in my vision of trust

Open your heart to some gratitude,

kindness and friendship

Empathy melting the ice that‘s enclosing your soul

Yearning for turning to someone so close and devoted

Remind you your mission was based on a vision of trust

Falling, friends are falling

Falling and lost in a vision of trust

A vision of love and a vision of trust

Open your heart after closing your spirit for ages

Missing the feelings you lost on your way to the stars

Fighting the hating has taught you to hate for ages

Remind you your mission was based on a vision of love

Falling, friends are falling

Falling but lost in a vision of trust

My vision of faith and my vision of trust

Falling but lost in my vision of trust

Falling for ages, falling from the stars

 

FIRE! FIRE! (Death Of A Giant)

Facing the past, deeply crooked for ages

Annual rings of a life, witnessing hope

Murder and death, lovers and birth, closely entwined

The battle of darkness and light, observer of life

Here on the hill, bound in hostile surroundings

Cracks in the bleeding wood: scars and remains

Here all alone, shelter and symbol of freedom:

a giant, so massive and old: gentle but strong

Tearing down to the ground

Burning heat, smoking coal

Fire! Fire!

Burning down to the ground

Timber heart, holy wood

Fire! Fire!

Facing the day, changing the soul of perception

Father of life, father of fire and death

Cold is the night , warm is the shine of the torch

Now and forever: deep is the heart of the flame

Tearing down to the ground

Burning heat, smoking coal

Fire! Fire!

Burning down to the ground

Timber heart, holy wood

Fire! Fire!

 

FELLOW PEACEMAKERS

 Will she find, will she find, will she find?

Withered blossoms falling down to earth

All she left alone

Nothing else than footprints of the years

before they reached her home

Will she find, will she find, will she find?

Looking back: she missed her final choice

Mandatory hate

Where’s the place? Now listening to her heart

Hope it‘s not too late

Start a new world, so far up above

Waiting to return

Gathering the troops of heart and soul

Sowing seeds of love

And she will find her way!

Will she find, will she find, will she find?

Will she find, will she find, will she find:

fellow peacemakers?

She will find, she will find, she will find:

fellow peacemakers!

We will find, we will find, we will find:

fellow peacemakers!

Black Space Riders Live

Live Band Pic 3


Dead Quiet “Grand Rites” Album Review + Stream…

Dead Quiet

Grand Rites – CD // DD // Vinyl

Artoffact Records – released November 3, 2017

Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner

 

Lineup:
Aaron “Boon” Gustafson: Bass (Anciients, ex-3 Inches of Blood (live), ex-SprëadEagle)
Jason Dana: Drums (ex-Karen Foster, ex-SprëadEagle)
Brock MacInnes: Guitars (AnciientsTobeatic, ex-Venomous Tusk, Percheron, Rotting Hills, The Blood River Band, ex-Hammer of Hades)
Kevin Keegan: Guitars, Vocals (ex-Barn Burner, Klandestīn)
Justin Hagberg: Keyboards ( WorseBlack Wizard (live), Allfather, ex-3 Inches of Blood, Klandestīn, Ritual Dictates, ex-Roadrunner United, ex-The Villain Avian Symphony)

Previous Releases:
2014 – Demo
2015 – “Self Titled”

Tracklist:
Moon Curser 08:26
Blood Lovers 06:37
Corpse Revival 08:26
Disgraced 05:41
Fucking Oath 06:12
Dear Demon 08:10
Old Hopeless 06:37
Spiritual Abuse 05:02
Grand Rites 08:48

 

 

Review:

On bandcamp the band describe their sound as, “…influences ranging from doom metal to classic rock, Dead Quiet seeks to meld melody with catastrophe as they weave through a dissonant landscape of crushing metallic riffs and somber choral musings.” Dead Quiet masterfully delivers this is high fashion with “Grand Rites”.  If you recognize some of the members’ names above that is because Dead Quiet are the closest thing to a modern day “Supergroup”.

As a follow up to their first album it fits in well.  They have improved sonically and sound as if they are maximizing the talents of each member while making it a cohesive and flawlessly executed throughout the 64+ minutes and 9 tracks that comprises “Grand Rites”.  With their roster set, there truly isn’t a dud in this second album. Like I said before this album is an improvement over the first, they went from a good first album to a great second and sadly, more times than not, bands do the opposite due to a myriad of reasons; time constraints, label demands and just the overall pressure of the “Follow Up” from the “Big Debut”.

Keegan’s vocal delivery is certainly worth noting.  The songs are packed with acid laced lyrics ranging from Politics to Religion to The Thrill of the 1st kill in closer “Grand Rites” that name a few subject matters.   Keegan preaches to the listener; the concert goer. He draws the listener in to pay closer attention as it is impactful, powerful, meaningful, genuine and most important…..it fits perfectly with the band’s overall sound – a melting pot of Rock, Sludge and Metal.  We are only at the beginning of 2018 and we may already have a top 3 contender!!


Links:
https://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Dead_Quiet/3540399775

https://deadquiet.bandcamp.com/

https://deadquiet.bandcamp.com/album/grand-rites

 

Dead Quiet Live!! Photo cred to @holtproductions Live Band Pic


The Atomic Bitchwax “Force Field” Album Review + Stream…

THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX

Force Field – Vinyl // CD // DD // Merch

TeePee Records: released December 7, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

Formed:  1993

Current Members:
Chris Kosnik bass, vocals (currently of Monster Magnet, formerly of Godspeed and Black NASA)
Bob Pantella drums, percussion (formerly of Raging Slab, currently of Monster Magnet, Riotgod, Cycle of Pain)
Finn Ryan guitar, vocals (formerly of Core)

Previous Releases:
The Atomic Bitchwax (1999)
TAB-2 (2000)
Spit Blood EP (2002)
TAB-3 (2005)
Boxriff EP (2006)
TAB-4 (2007)
The Local Fuzz ‘single’ (2011)
Gravitron (2015)

 

 

Review:
Veterans all, referring to the members of this long-running unit, that all started as a side-project in the summer of 1999 and has since evolved into this raging storm comprised of three forces that meld seamlessly into the animal that stands before us, represented by the band’s seventh offering, “Force Field”.

Twelve songs and thirty-four minutes make up this release and is by far the strongest release yet from The Atomic Bitchwax aka TAB, bringing all of the honing, sharpening and precision born of endless touring here in the States and internationally over the last 18 years together to blast you out of your seat as never before. Having been previously described as a band that ‘specializes in high-octane, 70’s based hard rock, space rock and psychedelia’, TAB has taken that base formula from the edge of the century and brought it to the front in ALL of it’s sonic glory.

From the drum intro of “Hippie Speedball” through the histrionics of “Humble Brag“, there is no lack of bravado tinged with sheer brilliance of power chords, psycho-quick time shifts, hyper-rumbling bass lines and all of the lyrical twists and turns we have come to love and expect from TAB and tracks such as “Tits And Bones” fill that order with ease. Closer “Liv A Little” let’s those 70’s root fly high with the keyboard fills and an over-modulated vocal line that brings you to the sound and feel of what is must have been like at a T-Rex crowd with the energy that is necessary for the listeners of this century.

Band Pic

 

Two stand outs to me from this instant classic and MUST-HAVE for the long-time fans and the ones just discovering this trio are “Super Highway” with it’s phase-shifted drum intro into a high-speed jaunt with lyrics to match is one of those songs that begs to be played at full-volume and gets your heart racing alongside, trying to keep pace and would be a great track to feature as the lead off, in MY opinion.  The second is “Fried, Dyed and Laying To The Side“, an instrumental romp that allows each guy to shine in their own mastery of their individual ‘weapon’ which only brightens the genius of this release.

If you were expecting something closer to a Monster Magnet record, hope you weren’t too disappointed. While the interweaving and endless touring with each band has not stopped and will more than likely not change anytime soon, The Atomic Bitchwax have proven time and again that they are their OWN entity and their finest-hour to date is upon them with “Force Field”. See ’em if they come anywhere close and convert the ‘unknowing’ in your circle.

Let it roll endlessly and keep it LOUD!!


Earth Drive “Stellar Drone” Album Review + Stream…

Earth Drive

Stellar Drone – CD // DD

Raging Planet – released June 10, 2017 (DD) & October 20, 2017 (CD)

Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner

 

 

Lineup:
Hermano Marques – Vocals and guitar
Luis Silva – Bass
Luis Eustáquio – Drums
Sara Antunes – Vocals

 

Previous Releases:
2014 Known by the Ancients
2015 Planet Mantra

 

Tracklist:
Lactomeda 01:49
Known by the Ancients 07:01
Dead Blood for the Royal Weather 07:14
Two Temple Place 09:36
Stellar Drone 10:59
Are we Drowning in Digits 06:13
Magical Train 05:07

 

 

Review:
The band have their album described as an “Addictive cosmic journey, one entrancing hybrid embracing heavy psych riffs and sweet vocal harmonies.” The album does have those elements of that. When Hermano is singing it sounds like Jane’s Addiction but heavier and more distortion on the voice. The parts when Sara takes over it sounds like either Belly or Hole. When they sing together it sounds almost new, but still has those influences. So in shorter terms; they gave their album a good description.

Track-by-Track:

Lactomeda – Is a Spanish term for the Milky Way Collision with Andromeda. The cover even seems to be depicting it. The song is a collision of Noise Rock and Space Rock. It is almost sludgy for a noise song but in pace but it is also fast for a space song. It is a good intro for what the rest of the album holds.

Known by the Ancients – Here is where the Jane’s Addiction comes in (Especially in the 3 minute area). This song is more of noise than of space origin. This is a heavy rock song, Hermano comes in at the last two minutes and makes the song seem even heavier.

Dead Blood for the Royal Weather – This is one of the more radio friendly songs, even though it is eight minutes. It plays it safe and doesn’t do anything too crazy. It stays on the cusp of being space and noise.

Two Temple Place – This is the first true Space Rock sounding sounds and as it moves along it introduces some of the harmonies the description on bandcamp mentions. It is a slow song with slow vocals with stretched out chords with reverb and drum fill. That is until the 3 minute mark; more drums and distortion to the guitar is added and everything gets slightly faster. At around the four minute mark the tempo changes again and is like Known by the Ancients.

Stellar Drone (Favorite track) – This track is more spacey than the previous track but it is also faster and more distorted and changes tempo a few more times.

Are we Drowning in Digits – This song is almost like a continuation of Two Temple Place. It sounds very similar but has more “Normal” Rock influences.

Magical Train – This is the most radio friendly track and could have been released as a single to promote the album. It is also the song that reminds my the most of Hole (the first album.) Sara really goes in on this track and gives a great performance. It is like the previous track but stays on the heavy rock side of music.

Pro Band Pic

Review (Continued):
Musically, Earth Drive are bringing back the 90’s Noise Rock and helping to bring back Space Rock (in the more expansive tracks). During the mostly instrumental parts it sounds almost like a soundtrack to a late 80’s sci-fi movie. In some ways it sounds like it is two separate ideas for an album that were pieced together but it is done well so it doesn’t sound too different. To paraphrase the TV Series “Stranger Things” – ‘The Upside Down'”.

This is a very easy first listen and is also very accessible because the stretches of odyssey are in between more pop/rock radio-ish oriented tracks. If you have any interest in Space Rock or a modern take on it with influences with 90’s Noise Rock, you should take a listen.

 There are two choices either from the Raging Planet (For a physical and/or digital) Bandcamp HERE or the band’s HERE !!! (Where you can get the full digital discography)

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

Album Promo


Octopussy “Dwarfs and Giants” Album Review + Stream…

OCTOPUSSY

Dwarfs and Giants – CD // Digital Download

Independent: Released – Nov 10th, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

Line Up:
Jan Babiński – vocals
Konrad Ciesielski – drums
Piotr Danielewicz – guitars
Michał Banasik – guitars
Marcin Bąkowski – bass guitar
Michał Koziorowski – keys

 

 

Review:

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?

 

Band Pic

 

(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.

(Octopussy) – Not at all

(60’s/70’s) – Great. I can’t wait to hear it.

(Reader) – Me too.

Uhhhhhhhhhh…. OK then. Links are below:

https://octopussyband.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/octopl/


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

Foo Fighters

Concrete and Gold – Vinyl // CD // DD

Released By Some Big Label on September 15th, 2017

Reviewed by Andy “Dinger” Beresky

 

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

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

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

Pro Band Shot

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

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

…………………………………………………

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Nekromant “Snakes And Liars” Album Review + Stream…

NEKROMANT

Snakes And Liars – Limited Vinyl // CD // DD

Transubstans Records – released June 16, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Established – 2011

Location – Vänersborg, Sweden

Band Members:
Adam Lundqvist– Guitars
Mattias Ottosson – Bass/Vocals
Joakim Olsson – Drums

 

Previous Releases:

As SERPENT – ‘Master Of Ceremony’ single (Oct 2015)

“Nekromant” (Dec 2015)

As NEKROMANT – ‘Stoned To Death, Doomed To Die single (May 2017)

‘Ashes & Rain’ single (June 2017)

 

Review:

Quote – “Fans of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, och and so on will not be disappointed!” Enquote. The first words I saw used to describe this three piece from the land of the often refereed ‘NWOSHM’ movement of the last several years, with bands rising to the forefront that are letting the rest know that they are just bloody sick of nu-metal and the glut of ‘pretentious hipsters’ that think they know what good old blues-based HEAVY is about with their auto-tuned machine based garbage and hyper-polished turds being passed off as the best-yet…

Back to basics, balls out and cranked to the top, these guys show that they are here to represent with some of the best progressions and time shifts held high on thick bass runs that hit you in the chest with each note. No splintering of genres here, but higher, CLEAR vocals that are easily understood, unlike so many that permeate anymore and the fit is tighter than a glove with the precision-playing that slices cleaner than the sharpest blade.

Coming together in 2011, Adam and Mattias spent the better part of the next two years consumed in a series of jamming/drinking sessions in the metropolis Mjölby, located in the eastern part of Sweden, playing hard rock, which did result in an EP and an LP.  It was in 2013 that  they joined forces with Jocke, a hard-hitting drummer with roots in both heavy metal and other types of music, that everything coalesced into what is now presented to us as NEKROMANT.

 

Band Pic

 

Thirty-five minutes totaling from 9 tracks that stand out on their own as individuals as well as are the perfect summation as a whole. From the immediately head-banging inducing opener ‘Stoned To Death, Doomed To Die’ with it’s quick-gallop paced tempo and screaming squeals of harmonic bending strings over that soaring vocal, the stage is set and even the seemingly effortless time shift halfway through, you are hooked for what will prove to be exactly what you have been waiting for to show; that true rock-and-fucking-roll still exists. This is proof positive that it is indeed alive, well and flourishing in all the riff-laden, relentlessly paced ecstasy you could ask for. And when ‘Funeral Worship’ hits, slow and rolling low, it is the precise gear-shift needed, fully owning a doom-laden structure with Mattias’ voice ringing clear and true, never wavering in delivery all the way to the sudden-stop ending.

‘Black Velvet’ comes out in full 80’s metal glory, wringing of a sound that made me think of a mixture of Italian masters BULLDOZER meets WITCHFINDER GENERAL in a salute to the essence of that heavy duty blues-rooted guitar onslaught so thick in tone that you almost forget there are only three guys in the room here, where ‘Ashes & Rain’ is from the start all loopy and heavily, dare I say it, ‘progressive’ in structure and pace in the arrangement that transcends any labeling with the various soft-touches scattered throughout this song.  Again, further showing a versatility you may not have expected after the last full length, yet sounds honest and natural here, and in my opinion is what makes for legendary music. It can really be heard if you mean it when you play it.  When it is from the core of your being as these songs each show these three are doing, then they become timeless and relevant as would seem to follow their original statement in intent.

From the soft fade-in wash cymbal of ‘Inside Yourself’ with another crop of time-shifts from hell, perfectly stirred into this brew, to the instrumental indulgence of ‘Mardröm’ through to the even-slower measures of ‘Never Saved’, there is no room for dissapointment here as you have been consumed along the path you have been walking with this album to get to the title track ‘Snakes & Liars’ that gives its ALL with its staccato opening that is close to being the fastest beat on this album and you are pulled right along this almost two minute run through the “Fortune and Fire” described.

Closer ‘Spelmannen’, which translates to English as ‘Player’ is sung in Dutch, has an almost traditional-folk song feel to it before the power chords hit, and even then, still maintains an anthemic feel that made even my black-heart feel a little less dark in the soaring solo sections and chorus alike. Excellent choice to wrap this package together and there is not one song on here I would not want them to play in a live setting!!

Keep this one as an option on your best-of lists for 2017, make SURE it is part of your library, AND your best buddy’s too and catch them live if the chance comes to you… keep it LOUD!!

Band Logo


Tau Cross “Pillars of Fire” Album Review + Stream…

Tau Cross

Pillars of Fire – Vinyl // CD // DD

Relapse Records – released July 21, 2017 

Reviewed by Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler

 

 

Band Line-up:
Andy Lefton-Guitar (War // Plague)
Jon Misery-Guitar (Misery)
Tom Radio-Bass (Frustration)
James Adams- keyboards
Michel (Away) Langevin-Drums (Voivod)
Rob (The Baron) Miller-Bass and vocals (Amebix)

Hometowns:
Montreal
Isle of Skye
Minneapolis
Seattle

Review:

Having grown up with MTV from it’s inception, I find that if a band really wants me to buy their album, the spectacle of a good music video is sure to catch my attention. About 2 weeks ago while watching music videos on YouTube, I stumbled across the Video “Lazarus” from their 2015 self titled debut album “Tau Cross”. Impressed by the music and the Cinematography I quickly followed the links to their Relapse Record’s Bandcamp. It was there I discovered they had a new album called “Pillars of Fire” due out in a few days. In the mean time I purchased their first album and made a note in my head to return and buy “Pillars of Fire” especially after being blown away by the debut release.

I could probably write volumes about the members of Tau Cross but will refrain as it would turn into a novel. Vocalist & Bassist “Rob (The Baron) Miller (Amebix)”, drummer “Michel-Away- Langevin (Voivod)”, “Jon Misery (Misery)”, “Andy Lefton (War//Plague)” on guitars, and “Tom Radio (Frustration) ” also on bass bring a great deal of talent and creative energy from the punk and various metal sub genres they offer up. Which is why I suspect they refuse to box themselves into a specific genre. But fear not as the unspecified genres are for my punk and metalhead friends.  Tau Cross brings a musical Smörgåsbord.

Pro Band Pic

“Pillar Of Fire” is an album that shows Tau Cross has a second act. While listening I found myself engrossed by the songs. While Tau Cross do not sound like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden or Dio, the lyrics, vocals and instrumentation created the same musical spectacle that drew me to them as a teen. Some may try to compare Vocalist // Bassist Rob (The Baron) Miller for his raspy voice to Lemmy Kilminster of Motörhead. While he can sing with a harsh rasp, I discovered Rob has a vocal range that at times had me asking who’s the other guy singing. These are a few of my favorites from “Pillar of Fire” – ‘Raising Golem’ a song the Golem from Jewish folklore, ‘Bread And Circuses’ which speaks of the savagery Rome descended into. Then comes the tale of the horror of being lost at sea done like a good old fashioned sea shanty ‘On The Water.’ I could go on but I am including a link to the album on Bandcamp so you can listen and buy for yourself and “The Short Stories” the band masterfully forged through the lyrics the band kindly offers up (also on their BC Page). The end result is nothing short of Amazing.  This should be in your music library yesterday!!  Must Buy!!