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/


Writer Eric Layhe Top 25 Albums of 2017 + Links…

Eric Layhe Top 25 Albums of 2017

 

1. Caligula’s Horse – In Contact (Inside Out Records)
https://caligulas-horse.backstreetmerch.com/

 

2. Pain Of Salvation – In The Passing Light Of Day (Inside Out Records)
http://painofsalvation.com/

 

3. KXM – Scatterbrain (Rat Pak Records)
https://kxmmusic.bandcamp.com/releases

 

4. In The Presence of Wolves – Of Two Minds – Stages 1 & 2 – The Ape And The Cage (Self-released)
https://inthepresenceofwolves.bandcamp.com/

 

5. The Burden Remains and The Horns Of The Seventh Seal – Touchstone (Self-released)
https://coldsmokerecording.bandcamp.com/album/touchstone

 

6. Icefish – Human Hardware (Self-released)
http://www.icefishband.com/

 

7. Pallbearer – Heartless (Profound Lore Records)
https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/heartless

 

8. Toehider – “GOOD.” (Birds Robe Records)
https://toehider.bandcamp.com/album/good

 

9. Nothing More – The Stories We Tell Ourselves (Eleven Seven)
http://nothingmore.net/

 

10. Mother Mars – On Lunar Highlands (Pepper Shaker Records)
https://mothermars.bandcamp.com/

 

11. Ayreon – The Source (Mascot Label Group)
http://www.arjenlucassen.com/content/

 

12. Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony (Inside Out Records)
http://www.sonsofapollo.com/

 

13. Others By No One – Book I: Dr. Breacher (Self-released)
https://othersbynoone.bandcamp.com/

 

14. Sons of Texas – Forged By Fortitude (Razor & Tie)
http://www.sonsoftexasmusic.com/

 

15. Ne Obliviscaris – Urn (Season of Mist)
https://neobliviscarissom.bandcamp.com/album/urn

 

16. Starset – Vessels (Razor & Tie)
https://merch.starsetonline.com/

 

17. Subterranean Masquerade – Vagabond (ViciSolum Records)
http://vicisolumrecords.com/album/vagabond

 

18. Leprous – Malina (Inside Out Records)
https://www.omerch.eu/shop/leprous/

 

19. Trivium – The Sin And The Sentence (Roadrunner Records)
http://store.trivium.org/

 

20. Voyager – Ghost Mile (IAV Records)
https://www.discogs.com/artist/2684097-Voyager-30

 

21. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (Reprise Records)
http://www.mastodonrocks.com/

 

22. Alice Cooper – Paranormal (EarMusic)
http://www.alicecooper.com/shop/

 

23. Steven Wilson – To The Bone (Caroline Records)
http://www.stevenwilsonhq.com/

 

24. Big Wreck – Grace Street (ole)
https://www.bigwreckstore.com/big-wreck/music-295/big-wreck-grace-street-cd.html

 

25. 10 Years – (how to live) AS GHOSTS (Mascot Label Group)
http://10yearsmusic.com/site/


Container “Mountains of Gaia” Album Review + Stream…

 

CONTAINER

Mountains of Gaia – Limited Edition 12” Vinyl // Digital Download 

Independent: Released – March 26, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

Line Up:
Daan – vocals
Boudewijn – bass
Rutger – guitar
Erwin – drums

Location:
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Review:
One might expect and album that opens with a piano excerpt from “Entry of the Gladiators”, more commonly known as the song they play at the circus as the clowns pile out of their tiny car and climb on their unicycles to juggle bowling pins, or break into a tumbling routine or whatever else clowns do… well you might expect an album that opens with this to be a bit of a joke.

 

 

But you’re not quite right. While Mountains of Gaia does have its fun moments, most are relegated to the opening track which is appropriately named “Circus”. Once the piano fades behind the percussion, the bass takes over, carrying the tune while distorted screams point us in a different direction. Thankfully, the screams give way to more melodic, though still filtered, singing. Really, this is where the lightheartedness goes out the window and we begin a musical adventure.

“Backstabber” takes us to a completely different locale of Container’s sound with a little 70’s Black Sabbath worship and an edge all their own. It’s a bit stoner and a bit “garage”, as they put it. It’s clear listening to the band that this was recorded in a studio, but I still think garage is a very apt term to describe a certain rawness or lack of refinement in Container’s style.

 

Band Pic

 

“Challenger” is an 8 minute, long, slow piece that musically reminds me of the Doors. Maybe Riders on the Storm or LA Woman, but then there’s some spoken word reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine, if you can imagine these two together. That’s only the first couple of minutes. It picks up with more of a Vol. 4 ambiance before slowing again to that Doors-y, wandering-through-the-dessert-on-peyote feeling with one last increase in pace to close it out.

Even though we’re only about halfway through, it’s hard now to look back and remember the silliness Mountains of Gaia opened with. The album leads us down a path of variety with different tracks blending the (aforementioned) base elements, stoner rock & “garage rock”, with a touch of post-rock, punk and hardcore. The result is an eclectic adventure that might seem to stray yet is uniquely Container. It’s almost surreal how after the 8th and final, the title track, another 8 minute opus taking us through the Mountains of Gaia until the music ends. Surreal, I mean if we decide to press play and take the trip again. We realize we’re started back at Circus. Is it a metaphor?

 

Live Band Pic

 


Spacelord “Spacelord” Album Review + Stream…

Spacelord

Spacelord – Digital Download

Self released:  October 10, 2017

Reviewed by Eric Layhe

 

Lineup:
Bass: Chris Cappiello
Drums: Kevin Flynn
Vocals: Ed Grabianowski
Guitar: Richard Root

 Tracklist:
Five Days in a Hole (5:34)
That Witch Rises (6:56)
Livewire (4:11)
Warlike Prelude (1:16)
Warlike (6:15)
Hollow Moon (4:11)
The Old Road (3:09)
Black Sword (4:28)

 

 

Review:
Monster Magnet is a band whose far-reaching influence on the world of Rock music is not always properly appreciated. Without them, such Hard Rock giants such as Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal may have never seen the light of day, and yet Monster Magnet has never become the household name that they probably should be. After all, the school of Monster Magnet is a deceptively large one, and an excellent recent graduate of that school has recently surfaced with the name of Spacelord.

There are Monster Magnet followers of two basic varieties: Desert Rockers a la Queens of the Stone Age, Brant Bjork and Kyuss; and Stoner/Sludge Metallers a la Soundgarden and Red Fang. Spacelord straddles this line a bit, but tends to adhere a bit more to the Stoner Metal side of things. As a matter of fact, Spacelord’s self-titled debut is quite reminiscent of the early days, sounding like they’d be right at home among the track-list of Louder than Love, especially tracks like the 6-minute sludgey atom bomb “Warlike”, which opens with lots of reverb and closes with sinewy guitar lines that Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil would be proud of.

Logo

Spacelord is first and foremost a very genuine affair. There’s nothing absolutely perfect here. It is perfect in its imperfection. That’s not to say the music is bad – in fact, it’s very much the opposite – But a huge amount of personality is found in those little moments where a backing vocal is a little flat, or a guitar comes in the tiniest bit late. This is not a tightly-composed Progressive Rock opus, and it shouldn’t be. This is an intentionally organic album. The performance here is not done by robots programmed to hit every note with surgical precision, it is done by humans – real living humans, and the interplay and charm associated with such a work breaths through this album impeccably.

Spacelord is the album that it needs to be and not an iota less. With their very first record, Spacelord has asserted a very real identity for themselves.  It is one that regales you with the feeling of the early 90’s, when Stoner Metal was at its absolute finest.  It gives you hope for another golden era that Monster Magnet and Kyuss would likely welcome with open arms.

Band Pic


Ethereal Riffian – “Afterlight” Live DVD Review + Stream + Video…

Ethereal Riffian

Afterlight – Limited DVD Packaging // CD // DD

Self Released – released August 17, 2017

Reviewed by Eric Layhe

 

Tracklist:
Whispering of the Ancients (1:39)
Beyond (7:04)
Transoma (9:05)
Wakan Tanka (12:02)
Thugdam (8:52)
March of Spiritu (10:55)
Anatman (12:24)
Drum of the Deathless (7:29)
Sword of the Deathless (9:29)
Light of Self (7:28)

Ethereal Riffian is:
Val Korniev – guitar/vocal/didgeridoo
Olexander Korniev – bass
Max Yuhimenko – lead guitar
Nikita Shipovskoi – drums

Guest Musicians: 
Makha Tretyakova – djembe
Sergey «Bookvarique» – djembe
Yaroslaw Kaminskiy – didgeridoo

 

 

Live albums are a risky endeavor: If a band has not yet achieved worldwide success, then releasing such material is a gamble on its potential success, and essentially risking a good deal of money on the production, recording, and packaging of a single concert with the hopes that enough people will want to experience that singular show. Thankfully, Ethereal Riffian is not a band that seems to care about gambling.

Ethereal Riffian are a Rock band from Kiev, Ukraine. I simply say “Rock” in such a sub genre-obsessed genre because Ethereal Riffian is sort of their own thing- Somewhere between Progressive Rock, Doom Rock, Spiritual Rock, Stoner and Psychedelic Rock. It might paint a clearer picture to call them something along the lines of “Meditative Rock”. Their drum-based composition and vocals reminiscent of Gregorian or Tibetan Chanting are extremely conducive to sitting down on the floor, crossing legs, entering a groove (which there are many), and just listening and enjoying.

“Since 2013 I wanted to have a single release that can give a versatile overview of the band’s creative work – its music, philosophy, approach to limited editions and live potential. And now we have it,” says Val Kornev, the frontman of the band. “With this release we, on one hand, aim to crystallize all our work and ideas since the inception of the band, and on the other hand, we want to show the quintessential component which unites all spiritual paths. For the band this release marks the end of the first chapter in its history and the beginning of the new one.”

Afterlight Packaging

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that this is a live album. This was indeed recorded live, and I wouldn’t believe it had it not been accompanied by the occasional applause of the probably all too small audience. Ethereal Riffian does an excellent job of bringing their intricate and lengthy compositions to the stage, to the point of getting the listener to almost smell burning incense and experience visions of what must be the most intense temple experience one could ever feel.

One thing that must be emphasized is that if you can afford their unbelievably extravagant limited edition packages, certainly do. Almost all of Ethereal Riffian’s releases have an absolutely beautiful package that is hand-crafted with a degree of dedication and love for the craft that is practically never seen elsewhere, and naturally, the best way to ensure that these packages to continue to be made is by buying them. The band’s many releases are worth buying for the package alone. For example, their album “Æonian” is packaged with a full-length original hardcover novel.

Artifactz

All in all, “Afterlight” is a fantastic release by a band that obviously has an unparalleled passion for all things artistic and this passion reflects in all aspects of the release- composition, performance, and packaging. If you are not averse to live albums, I would highly recommend you purchase this album. Finally, if you do: please, please get the limited edition version. You won’t regret it.

Additional Links:
https://etherealriffian.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/etherealriffian/
https://www.instagram.com/etherealriffian/
https://twitter.com/EtherealRiffian
https://vk.com/etherealriffian


A Comprehensive Look into How Ethereal Riffian Packages their releases…


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.


The Flying Eyes “Burning Of The Season” Album Review + Stream…

The Flying Eyes

Burning Of The Season – Vinyl // CD // DD

Ripple Music // Noisolution (Europe) – released September 22nd, 2017

Reviewed by Eric Layhe

 

The Flying Eyes:
Adam Bufano – Guitar, Lap Steel
Mac Hewitt – Bass
Will Kelly – Vocals, Guitar
Elias Schutzman – Percussion, Vocals

Tracks:

  1. Sing Praise (4:17)
  2. Come Round (3:26)
  3. Drain (4:41)
  4. Circle of Stone (7:29)
  5. Fade Away (5:18)
  6. Farewell (4:29)
  7. Rest Easy (4:56)
  8. Oh Sister (8:09)

 

 

Review:
The Flying Eyes know exactly what kind of band they are: A riff or two, some vocals, a solo, and a heaping tablespoon of Black Sabbath worship- that’s all they want, and to be frank, that’s all they really need.

Despite it being reminiscent of “the good ol’ days”, it’s always refreshing to hear a band that knows that all they need are guitars, bass, drums, with quality guest keyboards from Trevor Shipley, and a good, solid overall composition.  That’s precisely what Maryland natives The Flying Eyes deliver.

Pro Band Shot 2

Opening track “Sing Praise” bursts out of the gates with an astonishingly memorable bass riff. “Drain” opens with reverb guitars that one would be forgiven to expect out of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” before taking a left turn into Sludge and Doom territory with an absolutely blistering guitar solo. Even though the music is well-composed and performed even better, the vocals of guitarist Will Kelly are the real standout here. They won’t be fronting an opera or performing a Tenor aria anytime soon, but they are absolutely perfect for the music that is focused on here. When this music is coming out of a sound system, images of cruising through the desert in a 1970’s muscle car are sure to follow. This is the type of music that should accompany a vision quest or a protest montage of the Vietnam War and The Flying Eyes seem all too aware of this, owning that image with all the confidence in the world.

However, this album wears its influences (or “influence” in this case) on its sleeves perhaps a little too proudly. The Flying Eyes seem to have listened to Black Sabbath’s “Master of Reality” many, many times and that particular influence seems to show itself quite a bit. That’s not to say it’s their only influence, as by the time the 7th track, “Rest Easy”, begins, some sections are reminiscent of Pink Floyd rear their heads. but by the time the listener gets there, they may have already gotten used to the already strongly-established vibe, giving them something of a case of stylistic whiplash. The riff-verse-riff-verse-solo-riff structure permeating throughout this release gets a little old after a while, and a listener would be excused for needing a couple of listening sessions to really get the intended effect from Burning of the Season, and it takes a little bit of patience despite being a fairly short album at a very digestible 43 minutes. Make no mistake, this is a high quality and highly recommended album.

On the whole, Burning of the Season is an album that knows what it wants to be.  If you are looking for an album that provides what is promised very effectively despite putting nothing particularly new on the table, then you should look no further than The Flying Eyes’ excellent new release.

Live Band Shot


Zuul “Zuul” Album Review + Tour Schedule + Stream…

ZUUL

Zuul  – Vinyl // CD-R // DD

Sump Pump Records – Release Date: September 8th, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Location:
Iowa City, Iowa

Lineup:
JL BOLINGER – GUITAR/VOCALS
IAN KOEHLER – GUITAR
DENNY RICHARDS – BASS
ALEX WATTS – DRUMS

Review:
Was sent this record to review, never heard of the band, had heard of the Tyrannosaurid Theropod Dinosaur that had been found in 2014 in Montana and had only recently been named and described this year, and by looking at the cover art, I gathered the name was probably more akin to the demon and demi-god Zuul the Gatekeeper of Gozer, from the Ghostbusters movie that, coincidentally enough, was a facet in the name of the aforementioned wicked lizard.

 

 

Eight songs making up this 32 minute romp of all things rage/punk/screamo complete with surf-punk kitsch in the guitar lines and an hyper-fuzzed bass line, enough cymbal crash to simulate roaring waves and a sneer-filled growling vocal line to rival even the fiercest on delivery.

ZUUL’s debut on vinyl for the first time, includes poster of the album artwork, lyric poster and an additional live album on the download code (w/vinyl version only).

From opener ‘747’ to ‘Punk Funk’, any pretense is wasted as these are full speed ahead through ‘What If’. ‘Middle Child’ is a slower tempo’d rocker that even the purest would have to appreciate in it’s heavy handed arrangement to keep your head moving. And then there’s ‘I Don’t Drive’ that comes out of the gate with a soft-touched clean guitar that breaks into over distorted squeals at the chorus break where the plush returns to envelop the ardent among before the clean returns to circle again.

‘Jimmy Buffet Killed Iowa City’ has a staggered intro that takes a hold as the winding guitar returns weaving circles around from all directions leading to the demanding vocal line that forces you to listen in a riotous cadence that shifts on a dime and again and again to almost a dizzying proportion that flows perfectly into ‘Greg Hall’ with it’s Spaghetti Western intro before full on shrieking rage comes back through the mic.

Live Band Shot

 

Final track ‘untitled’, may be the one that doesn’t seem to fit until you listen to the lyric that flows with a voice that is almost impossible to believe is the same guy that you have just spent 7 previous songs with. Even the first guitar notes are clean and slightly warbled, showing a completely different side for this band on what I have to assume is a first release from as I could not find anything online besides the album listing and release party info on their labels webpage. This song shows ability typically not associated with a band that is seemingly pissed off all the time to deliver on any level imaginable.

Great outing from the Midwest and shows great promise in MY opinion. I have a feeling that in a live format they could rip your face off or get you pumped up and screaming at the very least. Get the album, play it to no end and share it to any set of ears you can, catch them live if they come anywhere close and keep it LOUD!!


Ruff Majik “The Hare And The Hollow” Album Review + Stream…

RUFF MAJIK

The Hare And The Hollow – Limited Vinyl // DD

Self Released – released June 20, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Formed:
September 1, 2012

Location:
Pretoria, South Africa

Band Members:
Johni Holliday (Guitar/Vocals/Organ)
Jimi Glass (Bass)
Benni Manchino (Drums)

Previous Releases:
“The Bear” EP (Oct 2015)

“The Fox” EP (Sept 2016)

“Monarch Of The Hills” single (March 2017)

“The Real Swan” (March 2017)

“The Swan” EP (April 2017)

Review:
Three piece band with a penchant for recording LIVE in the studio and this release that is being touted as not an EP, but part one of a four part release and was recorded in one take per their notes on their bandcamp page. According to their bio, Ruff Majik “has been aggressively marketing their brand of super-stiff rock ‘n roll madness since early 2012. Now they have three EP’s under their belt, an album filled with out-takes from the sessions for this album, and a reputation for wild and aggressive live shows, and they’re coming your way – tie down everything you want to keep, the boys are bringing earthquakes with ’em.” An intriguing descriptor for certain and I had to dive deep in. With the previous recordings, there has always been that garage-sound that lent itself to the ‘live’ feel that these guys tout as their modus-operandi,  while keeping that bass-heavy groove they are known for intact.

Live Band Pic

Let me re-emphasize that these songs were recorded  live and in only one take, not stopping for a break between songs but rather charging on through as a means to keep the cohesion true and the feel as ‘real’ as possible. Opener ‘Harpy’ starts off with a staggered drum line, mid-tempo pace, the bass hits four measures in and then the distorted guitar reaches out and grabs your throat before the vocals come out front in classic RM fashion, sounding slightly distorted and still clear in delivery.

Using all of the twists, turns and time shifts of stoner rock/metal you could hope for, ending with that hyper-fuzzed bass line that slowly fades into the opening progression of ‘Gone Down In The Woods Today.’  This is a full throttle galloping track that hits as hard as any SABBATH track with the veracity of a cobra and is relentless in the pummeling heaviness of the arrangement. Still no pause between as closer ‘Breathing Ghosts’ is even faster than the other tracks during the first minute until the vocal hits, tempo shifts and guitar drenched chords leaving their juices running down your chin as you drink it all in to the very last note.

If this is the tone of the next three releases, then the wait will seem unbearable. An amazing jumping point in this next stage of the evolution of this trio, MAJOR leaps in mix and composition and the arrangements truly are stellar in advance over all previous releases and should absolutely signify the turning of the tide for this band. Add it to your ‘rotation’ immediately, make sure every person you know hears it and support them live if they come to your shores…this IS South Africa after all. And as always, keep it LOUD!!

The Hare and the Hollow logo