Traffic Death “Dead End” Album Review + Stream…

TRAFFIC DEATH

Dead End – Vinyl // Digital Download

Sump Pump Records – Released – Dec 10, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

Line Up:
Nate “Fetus” Phillips – Vocals
Andrew Smeltzer – Bass
Brian Greenfield – Drums
Garan Drozd – Guitars

Review:
Traffic Death is certainly an interesting band name. I figured I’d dig into this bad boy while I was stuck in the passenger seat of a large suburban-type vehicle on a long road trip as I tilted my seat back for a nap. Don’t let my nap fool you, this album is heavy as fuck – I just happen to sleep incredibly well with loud abrasive music in my ears. What I can’t sleep through is shit music. It wasn’t long before I nodded off and found myself in a very non-vanilla sex dream about Miley Cyrus that unfortunately ended too soon. Whether Traffic Death’s lullabies inspired my sweet images of leather and chains and Miley, I can’t say.

So now that I’m fully awake I’m giving Dead End a more serious listen. Traffic Death describe themselves as a “high speed, violent crossover 4 piece”. I see no reason to re-invent the wheel here as they’ve nailed their sound in six words though I will elaborate later. Near as I can tell, Dead End is their 3rd exclusive release but they also have a split release with The Lurking Corpses… whoever they are (I’m going to check them out for sure).

Dead End starts out with “Spontaneous Decomposition/Nothing to See Here” which reminds me a lot of M.O.D. and Billy Milano. I hear aggressive, thrashy, unapologetic hardcore with a touch of dark humor. However, it’s not long into this ingeniously titled tune before it steps up a notch, both musically and with the vocals leaving my comparison behind moving to a more Converge-cult sound.

Promo Shot

“Mandatory Sentence” opens with some seriously fun speed metal guitar work from Garan Drozd that I just was not expecting after hearing its predecessor. What comes next, though, caught me completely off guard. Nate Phillips rips a speed metal scream reminiscent of early Tom Araya. The rest of the track goes somewhere else but the change in direction is completely fluid.

I’m not going to track-by-track this album because the rest of it is more of the same. Clever and darkly comedic song titles perhaps over-use the “/” to translate multiple concepts. There’s a merge of, or shift into and out of, several styles. It seems to be random but if you go onto the band’s (hyperlinked) Facebook about page and read their influences and you know even half the bands, it all makes perfect sense.

My biggest complaint about Dead End is the fact that it’s only 24 minutes long. So even in waking, Dead End is a would-be wet dream cut entirely too short.

Additional Links:
https://sumppumprecords.bandcamp.com/album/dead-end

https://www.facebook.com/TrafficDeath/

Trafficdeath.bandcamp.com

 

Band Logo

Sons of Apollo “Psychotic Symphony” Album Review + Music Videos

Sons of Apollo

Psychotic Symphony – Vinyl // CD // DD

Inside Out Music – Released: October 20, 2017

Reviewed by Eric Layhe

 

Tracklist:
God of the Sun (11:12)
Coming Home (4:23)
Signs of the Time (6:43)
Labyrinth (9:23)
Alive (5:06)
Lost in Oblivion (4:28)
Figaro’s Whore (1:04)
Divine Addiction (4:42)
Opus Maximus (10:39)

American Rock Supergroup featuring:
Mike Portnoy – Drums
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal – Guitar
Billy Sheehan – Bass
Jeff Scott Soto – Vocal

 

Pro Band Pic

 

Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy is a man with many hats. Granted, most of those hats are as a drummer, he has many hats nonetheless. His latest project, yet another Progressive Metal Supergroup called the Sons of Apollo, may actually be his strongest. Sons of Apollo, comprised of Portnoy, fellow Ex-Dream Theater bandmate Derek Sherinian on Keyboards, former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, Mr. Big Bassist Billy Sheehan, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra vocalist Jeff Scott Soto.

Psychotic Symphony is essentially exactly what you would expect from a Portnoy excursion – it’s essentially a Dream Theater album with a harder edge. That’s not a bad thing, however. As long as you like this very distinct and often-imitated sound, you will be very pleased with this album. Solos galore, plenty of irregular time signatures, and top-notch musicianship abound.

As a slightly lesser-known name in the music business, one would expect Jeff Scott Soto to be something of a weak link in the band, but that is simply not true. Soto has a very muscular baritone that does the music plenty of justice and he is a welcome addition to the band. During the Sons of Apollo’s formative year, they sampled quite a few vocalists, such as Strapping Young Lad Virtuoso Devin Townsend and King’s X wailer Doug Pinnick, and Soto just happened to be the one to stick around.

The Production on this album is notable, being performed by band members Portnoy and Sherinian. The mix is very, very bassy, with a lot of priority being given to lower tones over higher ones. The bass is very audible and few keyboard lines go to very high pitches. Even the guitar is tuned as a baritone guitar, all the way down to B Standard tuning for any guitar players reading this. This grants the entire album significant edge and weight, allowing for a heavy groove in nearly every song. However, such a priority on lower sounds can occasionally result in the songs sounding muddled, especially in faster songs like the blistering “Lost in Oblivion”.

As usual with Progressive Metal, the longer tracks are easily the highlight — in this case, “God of the Sun” and the Instrumental “Opus Maximus”, but this whole album is a recommended listen for any and all fans of Progressive Metal. If musical self-indulgence and sheer showcases of talent is a turnoff for you, then this probably earns a skip, but if those things instead pique your interest, then you’ve probably already bought this album. Otherwise, go pick up Sons of Apollo’s “Psychotic Symphony”.


Hobo Magic “The World Today” Album Review + Stream…

Hobo Magic

The World Today – Limited Vinyl // CD // DD

Desert Highways – Released: September 14, 2017

Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner

 

Lineup:
Connor Mitchell – Guitar/Vocals
Jake ‘Greasy’ Bennett – Bass Guitar
Carter Veltmeyer – Drums / Percussion

Previous Releases:
2013:  Single –  Tides of the Astral Sea
2014: full length Self-Titled album Hobo Magic.

Tracklist:
Follow The Holy Riff 06:44
Hobo Magic 06:48
The Poet 04:32
The World Today 06:28
Frostbite 07:40
Lady Of The Groove 09:27

 

 

Review:

Hobo Magic are Stoner Rock band from Noosa, Australia.

But classifying them as just stoner wouldn’t give you a true description of what you are going to hear.  The band use their influences of Black Sabbath, Blues, some Jazz rhythms and at some points even Metal.

Track-By-Track Breakdown:

This whole album is very similar and in the sonic universe of Sabbath’s Paranoid and Master of Reality era. As you listen along you will hear it too. They stay very much in the time period and sounds that can be produced in that time.

Pro Band Pic

Follow The Holy Riff
Which should be subtitled “Children of the Groove”, is a groovy tune. Most of the song is spent on keeping an almost sludgy repeating riff (which might be the holy riff) with breaks in between of a melodic reverbed guitar and great slow solo. The time scale shifts continually but they never sound like they are interrupting the flow of the jam.

Hobo Magic
This song is less “intense” than the last. It starts of sludgy but slowly picks up pace and becomes faster. It isn’t a heavy but still has a repeating riff and it revs up and up until the ending much like the guitar began at the start of the song. After 1:50 the jamming starts now that the almost warm up sounding beginning.

The Poet
The Poet starts off very strangely in contrast to the previous two songs; there is no distortion. This song is more of a melancholy tune, there is just a slow revered riff with slow and vocals that are a little distorted making the song feel cold.

 

Limited Wax

 

The World Today
The title track is a shift from the previous and is back to the norm that the first two tracks set us up for. It is also the most Sabbath sounding sound, the shouted high(er) pitched vocals, more of a jam song with little bits of vocals. Ask a simple question… About the world today. This track straight rips!!

Frostbite
This song is more like the first one; the tempo/timescale change quite a bit, and is a repeated bit with subtle changes. It even has moments that sound close to The Poet. The vocals are processed in a similar way. The song is almost eight minutes and feels like it. Kind of slow, like frostbite.

Lady Of The Groove (Favorite)
This song is a LOT like “Children of the Grave” (I’m pretty sure they meant it to as well.) The song also works as a way to remind and wrap up all the previous motifs that were in the past few songs. This is a great way to wrap up the album for just that reason.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————

In a way they are like a band named Magma. Hobo Magic are sticking to the mythos that they have created; all about the groove, the story of the lady finding and jamming to the groove, even their Facebook is curated in a way to complement the mythos just look at their About Us page.

Like I mentioned before, Hobo Magic are descendants from that 1970-1 period of Black Sabbath and they work really well in changing it into their own thing, different riffs, story, and singing. If you are a fan of Sabbath‘s 2nd and 3rd albums then you will definitely DIG this album.

Funny Band Pic

Stream the album on Spotify or Bandcamp.

Buy and download from Bandcamp HERE.

Extra Links:
https://open.spotify.com/album/6EbXoNDAnLI7GYepgfUNqn

https://hobomagic.bandcamp.com/album/the-world-today

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

www.deserthighways.com

https://hobomagic.bandcamp.com/track/tides-of-the-astral-sea

https://hobomagic.bandcamp.com/album/hobo-magic


GoatWhore “Vengeful Ascension” Album Review + Stream..

GOATWHORE

Vengeful Ascension –Vinyl // Digital Download // CD

Metal Blade Records – Released – June 23 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

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

Born:
December 20, 1996

Review:

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

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

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

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

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

live Shot

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

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

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

Pro Band P

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

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


Monolord “Rust” Album Review + Tracks Stream…

Monolord

Rust – Vinyl // CD // DD

Riding Easy Records – Release Date September 29th 2017

Reviewed by Andy “Dinger” Beresky

 

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

Born:
2013

Review:

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

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

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

Tour Schedule

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

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

Band Pic

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

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

pics and patches

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

….

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

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

Monolord_Band Pic

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

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


Olde “Temple” Album Review + Stream…

OLDE

Temple – Vinyl // Cassette // DD

STB Records – released August 10, 2017

Reviewed by Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler

Welcome to the Temple of Doom!!

 

Line Up:
Drums – Ryan Aubin (Sons of Otis)
Guitars – Greg Dawson (Sons of Otis)
Guitars – Chris Hughes (Moneen)
Vocals – Doug McLarty (Jaww)
Bass – Cory McCallum (Five Knuckle Chuckle)

Review:
I just finished listening to “Temple” by a band from Canada’s Greater Toronto Area called OLDE.  “Temple” by OLDE is the band’s 3rd  album. With a focus on crushing riffs that has left me with ringing ears and a spinning head, I had to recover a bit before I started writing this review. Formed by guitarist/producer Greg Dawson who was inspired by a recording session with long-time stoner metal stalwarts and bandmate in Sons of Otis as well as friends in Moneen, Jaww and Five Knuckle Chuckle, Dawson (Cunter, Grift, BWC Studios) handpicked and assembled OLDE.

Pro Band Shot

I loved what I heard on “Temple” but I wanted to hear what OLDE’s past work sounded like to get a better feel for the band. So I cued up their 1st 2 albums as well as “Temple,” turned out the lights, put my headphones on and had myself a musical feast. What I liked most about the music in general is how the band focuses on crushing heaviness and the almighty power of the riff with bellicose vocals and sludgy bass and heavy handed riffing .

Yet the music isn’t just a bunch heavy riff and growling vocals.  Just like OLDE’s previous albums – “Shallow Graves” and “I”,  “Temple” has tons of meat to it. Besides the amazing guest solo on ‘Castaway’ done by  Joshua Wilkinson, and the stunt guitar work of  Ryan Aubin on ‘Maelstrom,’ “Temple” is full of intense leads and hooks. Some of my favorites are ‘Subterfuge’ and  ‘Now I See You’ which both have some killer riffs with drums by Ryan Aubin that sound positively tribal. The album’s title track “Temple” is an ominous bass heavy doom masterpiece that highlights the vocals of  Doug McLarty.

This album will leave you feeling like you’ve been in the mosh pit with Sasquatch (The animal) as you listen to OLDE  tell the world “it’s collectively full of shit.”

“Temple” was recorded mixed, mastered, and produced by Sons of Otis, guitarist/producer Greg Dawson at BEC Studio with album art by Joshua Wilkinson. The album also features a guest solo on ‘Castaway’  by Simon Talevski and a stunt solo on ‘Maelstrom’ by Ryan Aubin. “Temple” can be purchased as a Limited Vinyl LP on Bandcamp through STB Records, Limited Edition Cassette via Medusa Crush Recordings and in digital format on OLDE’s Bandcamp page.

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

http://medusacrushrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/temple

http://stbrecords.bandcamp.com/album/olde-temple-2

http://oldedoom.bandcamp.com/album/temple


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!!

 


Tau Cross Releases New Video ‘Deep State’ from New Album “Pillar of Fire”…

Tau Cross

Deep State – Vinyl // CD // DD

Relapse Records – released July 21, 2017 

 

Pillar of Fire_Album Cover

 

TAU CROSS, the multinational punk/heavy metal collective featuring Amebix bassist/frontman Rob “The Baron” Miller, Voivod drummer Michel “Away” Langevin, and members of cult crust outfits Misery and War // Plague, has announced their second full-length album, Pillar Of Fire, due out July 21st on CD, Double LP, and digital formats via Relapse Records.

Comments TAU CROSS on the new album: “Pillar Of Fire is the continuation of some of the ideas that were explored on our first album. This time we have managed to share the songwriting more equally and introduce some other textures to the songs. This should help to establish TAU CROSS as less of a one-off phenomenon and more of an ongoing musical collective producing our own distinctive sonic environment.”

Pillar Of Fire was recorded across three different countries and co-produced by “The Baron” in the same manner as their eponymous debut. The drums were tracked in Montreal, guitars in Minneapolis, bass in Seattle and Minneapolis, and vocals on the Isle Of Skye in Scotland.

Physical preorders and exclusive bundles are currently available via Relapse.com at THIS LOCATION. Digital preorders are available via Bandcamp HERE.

Pillar Of Fire further expands the group’s unique musical approach ranging from dark folk witchery to industrial punk metal brutalism; a moody melting pot of Killing Joke’s metallic post-punk and Motörhead’s anthemic, hard rock with flourishes of traditional instrumentation and an infusion of 16th century English mysticism. Pillar Of Fire is a musical unearthing of TAU CROSS‘ philosophical preoccupations: mythological motifs, ultra-terrestrial hypotheses, surreal, social political landscapes, and the endless search for meaning in a controlled universe.

 

 

TAU CROSS:
Rob “The Baron” Miller – bass/vocals
Andy Lefton – guitar
Jon Misery – guitar
Michel “Away” Langevin – drums
Tom Radlo – bass
James Adams – keyboards

 


Enhailer “Grisaille” Album Review + Stream…

In Case You Missed It Series – Episode 4

Enhailer

Grisaille – CD // DD

Blackseed Records – Released June 2, 2016

Reviewed by Andy “Dinger” Beresky

 

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the Akron, Ohio band Mockingbird. I’m fairly familiar with them, as I was privileged enough to be able to share the stage with them on multiple occasions.  Their sound was a progressive and melodic take on sludge/doom metal, in the vein of early Mastodon and Baroness, yet there was something so PURE about them.  They were completely removed from any of the mainstream trappings that the aforementioned bands eventually came to embrace.

I don’t typically like to define artists in terms of their former bands or other projects.  All the same, it’s hard to talk about High On Fire or Om if we don’t also talk about Sleep, isn’t it??  Drummer Chad Beverlin from Enhailer also plays with the criminally underrated Mockingbird, and there are enough similarities in their sound that it’s worth bringing them into the conversation.

 

Enhailer have a slightly goofy name, which is both endearing and problematic for me personally.  I like the name, though I know how using puny names can sometimes come with a stigma or turn people off unnecessarily.  Yes, I play in a band called Palace In Thunderland.  People tend to either love it or hate it. It’s goofy, and funny, and fun….we hope.  That’s really up to you, not us.  It’s also meant to be a bit artsy, and that’s the same vibe I get from Enhailer.  They’re instrumental, so we know that they’re artsy.  However, this is not the more stripped down minimalism incorporated by fellow instrumentalists Karma To Burn, nor is it the hip neo-melodicism of Pelican. This is something far darker and dirtier, like if we truly pushed Mogwai into the depths of despair that they’ve always mildly flirted with.

There’s nothing demure about Enhailer.   They encompass everything that I love about the American Midwest.  If you’ve never been, I’d highly suggest that you spend some time there.

While Mockingbird tended to write more songs with a more traditional vocal-driven structure, the lack of vocals allows Enhailer to work more with a classical, theme and variation motif.  The six songs tend to build, evolve, and intensify organically, which is what prompts me to compare them to Mogwai. The major difference is in the atmosphere itself, which is bleak, heavy and haunting, due largely in part to the guest keyboards, which loom and pulse in the background.  Technically Enhailer are a trio, though it’s hard to talk about this album without bringing in the keyboards, as they truly add a nice touch.  It’s also worth noting that their seem to be some form of growls in the background of a couple songs, though I think this is just for effect, and to add to the atmosphere.  I don’t think there are any discernible lyrics.

 

Band Logo

 

I really dig the production, which manages to sound both full and never excessive.  The songs themselves usually lurk at a comfortable, mid-paced tempo, and combine quieter, more introspective sections with full on dirgy doom riffs.  It’s a nice blend with a unique take that firmly separates them from the rest of the post-metal pack.  I get the feeling that this is really just a sampling of what Enhailer have to offer.  These six songs clock in at just over 30 minutes.  I’m thinking that they’ve got a lot more to say, in their typical manner of not speaking or singing a single word.


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…