Monday, November 23, 2015

Fallen Angels - World in Decay

A band from Seattle of all places that’s steeped and schooled in the art of ‘80s Bay Area thrash? Yup. Fallen Angels prove that grunge didn’t finish the job. Their third album, the Michael Rosen produced World in Decay couldn’t be thrashier.

The quintet is locked tight with dual leads battling amid razor sharp rhythms, prominent bass keeping up, and vicious percussion holding down the fort. The musicianship here was never in question. But can they write songs?

Sure. These nine tracks of pure thrash attack are well-composed operations that keep up the adrenaline with timely breaks in the aggression letting the listener catch a breath. Throughout they show off their ability to induce the kind of furious headbanging and fist pumping that thrashers live for.

One can hear their careful study of classic acts such as Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax as well as second-tier thrashers. With those pitiless riffs and blazing solos Fallen Angels can hold their own against today’s collection of neo-thrash flag wavers like Havok and Evile.

Fallen Angels aren’t blazing any new trails but they’re running along those well worn with enthusiasm, skill and a healthy appreciation for their roots. Thrash on, brothers. May patches be ever on your jacket.

Released August 4, 2015 on Cyberdyne Records.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Wrekmeister Harmonies - Night of Your Ascension

Night of Your Ascension is the third full-length composition by J.R. Robinson under the Wrekmeister Harmonies banner. For this release he’s enlisted the talents of members of Indian, Yakuza, The Body, and Bloodiest as well as Sanford Parker, vocalist Marissa Nadler, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and harpist Mary Lattimore among others. (Extended list below)

Inside are two compositions, “Night of Your Ascension” based on events in the life of Don Carlo Gesauldo and his madrigal “Ahi Dispietata e Cruda” and “Run Priest Run” inspired by the brutal in-prison murder of convicted child molester Father John Geoghan. Both are harrowing explorations of justified violence - at least in the eyes of those carrying it out - putting together sorrowful beauty and doomed ugliness.

The title track ushers in a beautiful quiet with female vocals casting a haunting yet serene melancholy. It delves into solemn and repetitive contemplation with delicate melodies dancing like butterflies. String and harp speak with ancient and downcast voices, giving way to a deep cello groan and rising, tension-filled noise. Guitars and drums come in with a crash that’s still emotionally draining but is swollen with doom.

That inescapably oppressive doom is shaded by voices and a madness of overstimulated nerves. Violence is unleashed, cymbals abused and lamenting voices join the angelic and an unbroken rush of corruscating guitar fills the space. A brief respite ensues then returns to the sinister pall. Melody and doom tremble with energy. Noise filters through a determined chord progression with ghastly howls curdling the blood and deeper chants suffering under spine-tingling noise until its abrupt end.

“Run Priest Run” starts out ominous with a quiet tension as if a foul smell is carried on the whispering breeze moving the wind chimes, triggering events about to be set in motion. Choral voices call into being thunderous and malevolent doom. Doom for the unrighteous. A violent and cruel justice.

An angelic voice casts a darkness that gains intensity until Chip King unleashes his most unholy howls of terrifying and maniacal violence. Methodic yet uncontrolled madness flails through the plodding chords and crashing percussion bringing a swift end to the victim. When all's said and done peace and justice is restored by pristine melody.

Over 32 and 17 minutes respectively “Night of Your Ascension” and “Run Priest Run” explore the human condition. Solitude, violence, peace and murder play out through a draining display of composed art. Sonic extremes meet and mingle in both cooperation and conflict. Any Wrekmeister Harmonies release is an emotionally taxing journey and this is no exception. It fills both the soul and the mind with a spectrum of pain that can deeply affect the listener.

Wonderful work again, Mr. Robinson.

Incomplete list of contributors:

J.R. Robinson, Chip King and Lee Buford (The Body), Alexander Hacke (Einsturzende Neubauten), Eric Chaleff (Bloodiest), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza), Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea), Dylan O’Toole and Ron DeFries (Indian), Solomon Lee Walker (Morrissey), Cooper Crain (Cave), Marissa Nadler, Mary Lattimore, Olivia Block, Mark Solotroff (Anatomy of Habit), Chris Brokaw (Come), Jaime Fennelly (Mind Over Mirrors), Fred Lonberg-Holm

Released November 13, 2015 on Thrill Jockey Records

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Born Broken Blast Out A Tune For The Canadian Election!

From Asher Media Relations:

BORNBROKEN Post New Track ‘A Nation of Ignorance’ Protesting Canada’s Federal Election; Announce New Vocalist Pepe Poliquin (ex-Endast)

       Montreal’s death thrashcore rippers BORNBROKEN have added new vocalist Pepe Poliquin (ex-Endast) to their line up and have just unleashed a new whopper of a tune featuring Peloquin entitled ‘A Nation of Ignorance’ for metal heads gearing up to vote in Canada’s federal election this week.
Guitarist Mike Decker comments:
“Doesn’t it seem that there are more lies exposed then truths being revealed and are we are letting it happen right before our eyes? Our latest single talks about a nation of ignorance we elected into power, that conceals everything behind a cloak of secrecy, conspiracy and silence. Well it’s time we expose the incompetence, stop the confusion before it all turns into chaos. The best way to protest and raise your voice is by voting. Make yourself heard and not be one of the forgotten.
We also like to add, we like to welcome into the band Pepe Poliquin (ex-Endast) on vocals. Pepe stepped down from playing guitar (for health reasons) and has given everything he’s got to be the voice for BornBroken. We also like to thank everyone who hung out along for the ride since our debut album “The Healing Powers of Hate”. It’s been a long a bumpy road, since our last single “Watch the World Unwind”, with lots of curves and dead ends, but we always seem to pull through. In the immortal words of Mike Muir (Suicidal Tendencies) “You Cant Bring Me Down!.”
Its time to hear the cry once more, and feel the rise again! The battle hasn’t just begun and it will never be over, unless we raise our voices together as one.
Keep in touch and most of all keep it real.”

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Bedroom Rehab Corporation - Fortunate Some

Art by Liz Walshak

I typically don't get a lot of unsolicited emails from bands asking me to check their stuff out. I often don't have the time anyway. But Bedroom Rehab Corporation got my attention first with their name. Then the professionalism of their contact. Then their awesome one-sheet pdf which included the killer album cover by Liz Walshak. Then the video included for "When All You've Got is a Hammer". Package that all up and Fortunate Some couldn't be more suited to my interests. So first of all, kudos to you, BRC for promoting yourselves excellently.

But the music is even more excellent. This bass/vocals (Adam Wujtewicz) and drums (Megan Killimade) duo from Connecticut plays a style of psychedelic doom full of power, passion and of course, fuzz.

I'm gonna go track-by-track on this one because there's only four in a near-perfect runtime of about 28 minutes, and it's my blog.

We start of with the shortest track in "Riddles of Wind and Time". Right away we're treated to how Adam can manipulate his bass. At times it sounds more like a piano than a bass. In a device the band employs often those quieter bass moments slink under his vocals while Meghan hammers and pops higher in the mix. The sinister doom stalks the listener with devious eyes and huge riffs layered with a descendent melody. It's hypnotic, mean and leads into the next track well.

"When All You've Got is a Hammer" is super catchy. The chorus will be stuck in my head forever. "When all you've got is a hammer/It becomes all you need/All I've got is this hammer/Everything looks like nails to me" sums it right up.

Again they use a quiet/loud dynamic between the verses and chorus with Adam's bass growling like a surly beast and Meghan channelling one of my all-time favourite drummers in Chris Hakius and his style in Sleep, OM and the short-lived The Sabians. She holds the pulse of the songs, doggedly driving forward with a snare that snaps with muscle. "Hammer" moves into some heavy psych territory with the main theme persisting, where Adam really coaxes some crazy out his instrument utilizing every inch of the neck and what I'm sure is an admirable pedal board. I can only wish to dominate my bass that way. On this track in particular he gets downright transcendent. He creates incredible atmosphere and Meghan's drum patterns are just as infectious as any riff.

"Giants in the Ice" is a sloburner rumbling and rolling with a lethargic pace befitting the title. It's quite the trip, easily drawing the listener into a state of bliss with their typical sinuous dynamics and blend of oppression and airiness. And Adam really lets it rip in screaming "Giants in the ice!" While still working within the soundspace it's their most straightforward track, leading into closer "The Serpent, The Smiler".

Meghan's tribal beats dominate the track with the bass getting eerie, whether quiet or loud. Adam shows off his vocal range here with cleans moving to gruff. He's moving like a wave, cresting and resting. All the while Meghan continues her cyclical movements to perfection. The track moves into a mind bender psych solo, and emerges with a renewed sense of percussive purpose driving a free-form sonic bass exploration eventually morphing into screams and a ferociousness on all fronts. Then it crashes out in a exhausted state.

Fortunate Some is a very welcome surprise in a year of quality doom. The duo have obvious chemistry with each member critical to the success of the other. They're subtly dynamic, shaping atmosphere when called for and bludgeoning when you need it. They have a way of shifting the sonic focus between themselves so the listener always has someone to love.

I'm a sucker for tone and I love the sounds both wrangle from their instruments. I'm also a sucker for duos. There's just something about the two-person band that makes a connection with me. It doesn't always work mind you but when it does, as is the case with BRC, it's a beautiful thing. Just you and me against the world, baby. Wielding hammers of course.

I can't recommend this enough. Honest, dynamic, psychedelic and forceful doom from two individuals who obviously live and breathe for their art.

I doubt I'd be able to talk the Mrs. into listening to this in the bedroom though. Giants, serpents, hammers, wind? Nope.

Bedroom Rehab Corporation Official

Bedroom Rehab Corporation on Facebook

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Blast From The Past: My Favourite Albums of 2006

Inspired by Heavy Metal's recent postings of Best Of lists the 2000's I managed to find my personal list from that year!

Oh how times have changed.

Here it is!

Here is my list for 2006. I listened to ALOT more music this year so I am sure some stuff got lost in the shuffle. You won't agree with everything on this list, but I won't agree with yours either. I guess this isn't so much a BEST of 2006 as it is My Favourites of 2006.

My process was pretty much "What did I go back to, what did I get cravings for? What got stuck in my head? What grabbed me right off the bat?
Feel free to talk to me about my selections. I like talkin' music.

1.Mastodon - Blood Mountain
2.I Hate Sally - Don't Worry Lady (Very close second, great mix of styles, great live, and awesome people)
3.Lamb Of God - Sacrament (I got the invitation, and I am going!)
4.Kalas - Kalas (Matt Pike! incredible first, last and only album. R.I.P. Kalas)
5.Slayer - Christ Illusion (They still got it! and Lombardo is back!)
6.Accept Death - Accept Death (Death Accepted. Cool samples, great doomy feel, scary vokills)
7.Deicide - The Stench of Redemption (I am SO glad Benton didn't kill himself at 33)
8.The Abominal Iron Sloth - s/t (uh, it's real good)
9.Kylesa - Time Will Fuse It's Worth (Two drummers, two vocalists, too good)
10.Kataklysm - In the Arms of Devastation
11.Jucifer - If Thine Enemy Hunger (not metal, not conventional, like Veruca Salt on LOTS of drugs)
12.Om - Conference of the Birds (two ex-members of Sleep crafting epic doom masterpieces)
13.The Sword - Age of Winters
14.Witch - s/t (This stuff makes you high just listening to it!)
15.Napalm Death - Smear Campaign (grind at it's best)
16.Sepultura - Dante XXI (who needs Cavaleras? I know Iggor played on this one)
17.Bury Your Dead - Beauty and the Breakdown (If you're gonna be metalcore, at least be good at it)
18.Sworn Enemy - The Beginning of the End (token hardcore album)
19.Lair of the Minotaur - The Ultimate Destroyer
20.Black Cobra - Bestial (great tone, sounds like a giant tank plowing across the landscape blowing up everything in sight)
21.Hatebreed - Supremacy (formula starting to get old, just enough difference to make the list)
22.Saviours - Crucifire (another great "stoner" album)
23.Norma Jean - Redeemer (who knew christians could rock so well?)
24.Scissorfight - Jaggernaut (if you like Clutch, you'll like these guys)
25. Fucked Up - Hidden World (if this is fucked up, I don't want normal)
26. Dry Kill Logic - Of Vengeance and Violence (Cliff Rigano rules)

Top 5 "Really fun to listen to but not necessarily great albums"
1. Dragonforce - Inhuman Rampage
2. Funerot - Invasion from the Death Dimension (Tyrannosaur could be my fave song of the year)
3. Cross Examination - Hung Jury
4. Venom - Metal Black
5. Motorhead - Kiss of Death

Surprise of the Year:
I Hate Sally - Don't Worry Lady (who knew I'd love a local band this much, and the fact that Mike Kopko hated it)

Disappointment(s) of the Year (other than no new Clutch):
Tool - 10,000 days
Five Horse Johnson - Mystery Spot (JP from Clutch drumming, thought it would be better)
The false start (demise?) of Black Veil Choir (Justin Marler from Sleep)
Stuff I Thought I'd Like But Wasn't Really Feelin':
Trivium - Crusaders (bad lyrics)
Protest the Hero - Kezia (hate the vocals)
Isis - In the Absense of Truth
Tool - 10,00 Days

Compilation of the Year :
Sucking the 79's 2: Back in the Saddle Again

Collaboration of the Year :
Rebel Meets Rebel

Top EPs of the Year:
Jesu - Silver
Arise and Ruin - The Fear of...

Stuff I Missed in 2005 That Would Have Made My List:
Most Precious Blood - Merciless
Early Man - Closing In

I Really Want To Hear It But I Can't Find It:
Neil Fallon's solo performance from the Glasgowbury Festival

Most Anticipated of 2007:
Clutch - From Beale St. To Oblivion
Baroness full length (look out Mastodon!)
Kingdom of Sorrow (again)
Fu Manchu - We Must Obey

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Demon Lung - A Dracula

Back in 2003 I reviewed Demon Lung's The Hundredth Name for Ghost Cult Magazine giving the album a 9/10 and likened it to a “modern doom masterpiece.” Time has done little to alter that sentiment as the CD still finds itself in rotation in the car. However, it might be usurped by the Vegas group's latest offering, A Dracula. This time the doom quintet base their concept on the 1977 flick Alucarda, the gist of which is this: the daughter of Satan falls in love with a nun and converts her to the dark side. She is killed by her fellow nuns, is resurrected by Satan's Daughter and together they exact their revenge on the nuns and the world. How cool is that?!

The band once again worked with Billy Anderson. His engineering helps give the music that penetrating warmth that envelopes the scene like a fog, obscuring all that lay beyond the here and now, allowing the listener to become one with the music. Music that somewhat manages to be even more epic than its predecessor.

After the acoustic intro “Rursumque Alucarda”, Demon Lung launch into A Dracula with “Behold, the Daughter”. The track features some swift rhythms that have no place on a doom record but Demon Lung make them work. Hey, Cathedral didn't drag their feet the whole time either. As we're introduced to the evil temptress those rhythms bring trepidation and mimic the pounding hearts of those confronting the Daughter. It does slow to groovier movements and ominous doom however. Through it all Shanda Fredrick's perfectly suited voice leaves no doubt that this is doom no matter the tempo.

Throughout A Dracula we can feel this dynamism. Fast sections give way to pounding riffs in a sludge vein as well as chugging doom signalling action of a most dark sort. One even finds quieter moments with Fredrick's croon dominating. Those times are ones of abject sorrow yet are usually followed by the muscular doom we've come to expect. One can think of and feel those times like tears drying and a resolve building into the resulting destruction. Revenge.

Time and again the unholy trinity of Phil Burns and Brent Lynch (guitar) and Jason Lamb (bass) serve up powerful and epic riffs reaching the highest spires and the deepest dungeons. Their unity is as natural as it is overpowering. Undoubtedly doomy tone and a bevy of riffs, punctuated by concussive chords slam the listener hard enough to make the heart skip a beat and the variety of moods pieced fluidly together reflect the drama of the narrative.

All this ensures not only a feeling of doom but also of terror through those racing tempos, barely perceptible, more felt than heard atmospheric touches and Fredrick's coldly seductive delivery. Saving perhaps the best for last, A Dracula concludes with “Raped by the Serpent”, where all things come to a head and Fredrick puts forth her most powerful performance.

There is no doubt Demon Lung have crafted a superb doom album here but what makes it special, and so intriguing, is how they're able to adapt the film into the lyrical concept without it sounding cheap. Especially without the use of samples. Other than the arresting chorus on the closer, my favourite lyric is from “Deny the Saviour” with “You worship death, I worship life.” I love that this is the Daughter speaking to the nun.

With A Dracula Demon Lung have once again rendered my soul to the darkness and put forth an album I'll be sure to listen to for a long time to come. Lurching doom, terror-filled runs more akin to death metal, Jeremy Brenton's thunderous percussion and Fredrick's (splendid) voice comprise the pieces of this excellent (sure, I'll say it again) masterpiece.

Released June 29, 2015 on Candlelight Records

Monday, June 1, 2015

Blurring - Blurring

I tried to like this. I really did. I mean, it's got Danny Lilker and Erik Burke! But Blurring's self-titled debut is just not my cup of tea. I've never really heard any of Burke's bands (I only know him by his reputation.) and I'm not all that hot on Brutal Truth, so they're just names. But I generally like grind so hey, let's do this. However. I'm pretty picky with my grind. And I don't pick Blurring. It's all gnashing teeth and rubber-room guitar motherfuckery. It's so intensely chaotic that there's very little to actually grab on to. Hooks? Get outta town. Melody? Pfft. Then again, it is grind.

Scott D'Agostino and Matt Colbert (guitars, both ex-Kalibas) twist and squeeze all sorts of ear-raping noise from their guitars. And for those hell bent on energy and pure craziness, dig in. There's plenty of madness to go around. Burke's percussion follows of course, adding some structure to the din. 

Lilker's basslines sound solid. When you can hear them. You have to really try and pick out the rubbery technicality rumbling away behind the walls of insanity scrambling your brain. Mark Welden's vocals are feral and sickening; more black metal than grind. More werewolf than barking. They change the tone of the grind from anger to hatred, from pissed off to vengeful. So there's that.

But by and large Blurring is one long rocket-propelled grenade launcher of “fuck you” set to fully automatic. Barely controlled chaos rides the knife edge of insanity but never is there any real danger of falling to the right-minded side. I'm not trying to say it's a bad album, it's just not my type. Other than some respites during “Rape Van” and “The Devil I Know” it's just a little too crazy. If you're one of those individuals that can soak up and assimilate madness, you'll get all you can handle. But if you like a little more core to your grind, there's other bands out there to satiate your needs and blur your mind.

Released April 28, 2015 on Handshake Inc.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rise of Dissension - Rise of Dissension

The first time my ears were graced by the sounds of Kingston, Ontario's Rise of Dissension was when they were one of the openers for Hamilton's Varga. It was clear from the off that these were seasoned musicians and veteran songwriters and performers. Through a mutual friend of drummer (and well-respected scene vet) Landon Chatterton their debut self-titled album found its way to my inbox. Having languished in a sea of mp3s for a few months I was finally afforded the time to dive in.

The most telling feature of the band and in particular guitarist/vocalist Doug Smith and lead guitarist Andrew Simmons, is that these songs are the collective product of time-tested woodshedding, of working through ideas from minds that never stop, and the all-important reverence of the riff.

On Rise of Dissension (with bassist Darren McLean rounding out the lineup), the band captures their live intensity and puts it to tape. It's full of chugging rhythms and tasteful lead work in front of Chatterton's precise and powerful percussion. Smith's gruff vocals come across as honest and true while their tone packs a certain crunch.

Songs range from the headbanging thrashiness of "Backstabbing God"  and "The Blame" to the groove metal stylings of "Preach", the latter of which incorporates some ballsy hardcore elements, a formidable screech and powerful bellows. "Mend" follows with its own groove, acoustics, melody and although it pains me to say it, "Godmack-ness".

Later on we get the muscular "Untrue" and its anthemic gang vocals and "Away From Me"'s Black Label Society southern charm (also hinted at elsewhere). As well the raging "Torch the Nuns". The none-too-subtle title bearing true to its mix of thrashing speed and the good side of US melodic death metal.

Closing out the album is their cover of KISS's "War Machine" which adds some considerable heft to the original.

Rise of Dissension is a catchy, varied and engaging affair. The band plays whatever metal they feel the need to and their enthusiasm shows. It's a fun album full of memorable riffs and sweet leads. It's the kind of album that gives the adrenalin-starved the juice to get movin' and I look forward to doing just that the next time I see them. And not a drop of beer will be spilled. They'd want it that way.

Rise of Dissension on Facebook

Rise of Dissension on ReverbNation

Rise of Dissension on iTunes

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Vyrju - Black

Vyrju is a (mostly) one-man black metal band from Norway. Jan F. Lindso performs all instruments except drums and clean vocals which are handled by session musician Tim Yatras. Lindso contacted me on Twitter before the album's release last year in hopes I'd review Black and it unfortunately got lost in the shuffle. Time to make amends, however brief.

Over four songs Lindso, as Vyrju searches deeply for peace. Through undulating melodies and icy tremolos one can feel the desperation. Marching rhythms feel like a listless plod through life, one foot in front of the other, moving inexorably towards doom.

"The Residue of Life" begins majestically before launching into a scathing black metal tirade with anguished screams calling to the void. Despite the outpouring one does not feel a sense of triumphant catharsis. Just endless suffering, emptiness and misery. While instrumental "Gone" and its acoustic nature lays bare a tortured soul that rages elsewhere.

Black is dark and necrotic, pulling inspiration from second-wave bleakness while fulfilling the desired melodic quotient. It's very personal lyrically as well as musically becoming something both its creator and the listener can get lost in.

Black is both fiery and beautiful reflecting a deep-seated anxiety towards finding peace within oneself and the struggle to get there. This is emotionally-charged melodic black metal worth getting into. If only I'd done so earlier.

Black on Bandcamp

Vryju Official Site

Vyrju on Facebook

Vyrju on Twitter

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Kingdom of Noise is pleased to be streaming the new album from Blliigghhtted entitled Zeroes for your listening (dis)pleasure!

The highly prolific Turkish artists (Ruahanathanas, Emir Toğrul and Merdümgiriz) bleed a chaotic strain of highly experimental black metal. Zeroes consists of two tracks both breaching the 20 minute mark. Icy guitar melodies drift lazily countered by blasts of apocalyptic freakouts. Feral incantations are highlighted by spine-tingling howls. Washes of synths create an impermeable atmosphere of ancient dread. And the percussion is truly possessed, following unpredictable paths, all in the name of creating a desperate sounding and unique identity.

The trio appear totally absorbed by their creative forces and thusly, the listener is drawn in as well, wrapped under layers of sonically manifested terror and confusion. As expected from this group of musicians, Zeroes is a challenging and exhaustive experience. Prepare thyself.

For more BLLIIGGHHTTED, including complete discography and merch, visit the links below:




Sunday, March 22, 2015

Enslaved and YOB with Ecstatic Vision and Kosmograd @ The Opera House, Toronto March 19, 2015

YOB killing it

Sometimes there's more to a show than just the bands playing it. When Enslaved and YOB come to town it's kind of a big deal for the underground metal fans. People show up, giving homebody shmucks like me a chance to meet all kinds of people I only know online. In this case I was attending a show that a bunch of my colleagues were also showing up for. After almost 3 years of writing for that site I finally got to meet Sean Palmerston, Laura Weibe, and Adam Wills. Renee and Danielle were there too but I didn't have the chance to meet them. I was also finally introduced to Profound Lore Records' Chris Bruni. While it was awesome to finally meet all them, a show is less than ideal for conversation. But I'll take it! On to the show.

Local band Kosmograd opened the show. I'll be honest. I wasn't paying that much attention. I was trying to chat with the above people, survey the lay of the land for later and check out the merch booths, where I didn't see Kim Kelly who was travelling with YOB because she got denied by some jerk at the border. But, what little I picked up sounded tight and they're stage presence was good. I was just distracted.

Heavy psych band Ecstatic Vision took the stage next. I'd watched some video of them performing at St. Vitus Bar in NY and they started off with the same song I watched. The biggest impression they left on me was passion. Dudes were either 110% into their art or blitzed on something. Or both. Their psychedelic heavy rock was sort of a mix of Milking the Stars-type Monster Magnet and Hawkwind jams. I bet I'd totally dig it on record in the comfort of my own home but in the live environment it kind of fell flat. I was also stone cold sober so that contributed but their energy was....different.

Here's why I made the trek to The Big Smoke. The almighty, incomparable YOB! Last year's Clearing the Path to Ascend is one of those instant classic albums that I will undoubtedly spin for my whole life. Needless to say I was excited. A handful of us found a nice spot near but not too near the stage to not only see and hear the doom trio but feel them. With only a 50 minute set time (a bigger travesty I have never seen) they could only get three songs in. All three were off Clearing and that was okay with me and the rest of the crowd that appeared just as buzzed about it as I was. From the opening sweep of "In Our Blood" to the closing notes of "Marrow" YOB kept the crowd entranced with their immensely powerful doom full of deep emotion. I'm sure I wasn't the only one that was totally taken over and let my eyes close, head tip back and just take it in all the massive and moving doom metered out by guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt and bassist Aaron Reiseberg.
The rolling rumble of drummer Travis Foster during "Nothing to Win" got things moving, sparking a sad three-man mosh pit right in front of me. I say it's sad because despite the jumped up tempo, YOB is not mosh music. It was short-lived however as the band settled into "Marrow" to close out the set. Here's where they excel at separating body and mind. As I stood transfixed, eyes closed, nothing was touching me but the music. I couldn't even feel my aching feet. It was like my body was floating in a vessel of sound, bouyed by the invisible waves and completely unaware of any other stimuli. It was exactly what I wanted. And despite my expectations, I didn't cry! Very nearly did but maybe I was just too happy to be there to break the dam. THAT'S what live music is all about.
YOB delivered. Plain and simple. They owned the stage. I wasn't alone in wishing they could play for 2 hours but that wasn't to be on this night. Enslaved was too take up arms next.

I had to do some hardcore catching up on the Enslaved discography before coming to the show. I had some unprecedented time to waste on YouTube so I took advantage and schooled myself. After listening to Frost and every full-length from Below the Lights on, including new album In Times, Vertebrae is still my favourite. Even with those albums in my recent memory I still didn't know what song it was unless Grutle Kjellson announced it. I started mere feet from the bassist/vocalist but moved near the back of the venue after one song so I could actually hear the band. Sound down front was limited to percussion, vocals and bass. Closer to the back I could hear Herbrand Larsen's keys and the guitars of Ivar Bjornson and Ice Dale ripping out their intense black metal struck with their growing prog influences.
Enslaved ran through a 90 minute set covering quite a wide range of their history displaying their excellent musicianship and almost over-the-top showmanship. Total rock stars. At least on stage. I can't speak to anything other than that but I didn't see them out with the crowd at all so.... Enslaved fans were not disappointed however. Despite the sub-par sound the crowd was into it. Fists in the air, heads bangin', lyrics sung. Just as it should be. Black metal can be a tricky proposition in the live environment but it didn't seem to bother the floor. At least once though the band went into one of their more progressive passages and it sucked the life right out of the room. You gotta keep that momentum going! But it didn't take long to amp the masses back up.
Highlights from their set included "As Fire Swept Clean the Earth", "Ethica Odini", "In Times", "Building with Fire", "Fenris", "Convoys to Nothingness" and set closer/live staple "Isa". For that one the Norwegians were joined on stage by YOB's Reiseberg and Scheidt for some vocal assistance, after which Scheidt left the stage bowing to Enslaved in reverence. I'm sure his sentiment was echoed by the throngs of Enslaved shirt-wearing fans. Their history is long and storied and they played up to that. They may even have won some new fans out of those (like me) who were there to see YOB.

I hadn't been to an out of town show in almost two years but this one was worth it. It takes a lot to get me to travel for shows but after seeing YOB play, they could join the ranks of bands I'm willing to go to those lengths to see again and again. I personally enjoy Enslaved more with a good set of headphones but I wasn't disappointed. The icing on the cake was meeting my friends and shaking Mike Scheidt's hand to thank him for the interview I did with him last year for Full Metal Parenting and getting my picture taken with him and Bruni (and my buddy Gabe). I really should get up to the city more often but this show left enough good vibes in me that I should survive for a while.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

New Blliigghhtted Song Streaming!

The good follks at Metal Temple are hosting an exclusive stream of the track "Seven Zeroes" from the upcoming album Zeroes by Turkish experimental black metal collective Blliigghhtted!

Check the link below.

"'Seven Zeroes' Streaming at Metal Temple"

From the promo

The 45-minute album is by far the most progressive and chaotic material recorded by the prolific Turkish musicians. At once dissonant and mighty like Melkor's chants in timeless halls. Recorded in a conducted fashion helmed by Ruhanathanas, this dark journey has come to fuse together a variety of influences that one can get through high doses of hermetic Extreme Metal and Dark music. From Ambient driven Doom undertone to Psychedelic Synthesizers to relentless Black Metal melodies and chanting Death Metal vocals the album presents chaos of dark reality trying to break free of its cosmic shell.

Formed by Ruahanathanas known for her work in VIRANESIR. BLLIIGGHHTTED is a psychodrama for exploring the history and philosophy of dark spirituality through correlations and juxtapositions of tradition and degeneration in essence and form. Current members include filmmaker-musician Emir Togrul of YAYLA and the idiosyncratic drummer Merdümgiriz. The project is releasing the debut album "Zeroes" through Merdumgiriz Records March 31st.

As with his work on YAYLA, Emir Toğrul's grand vision, each Zeroes CD, Tape, t-shirt and patch is handmade; Emir sprays the discs, cuts and inserts the prints for the jewel case, jacket and tape making all non-machined parts from scratch. All current and upcoming merch comes to fans direct from the hand of the creator himself; there is no limit to the number of "Zeroes" merch, as long as the man is alive. Toğrul is also co-owner of Merdumgiriz.

Zeroes will be released on March 31, 2015. Preorder it at Bandcamp here!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Crypt Sermon - Out of the Garden

Recently I've been listening to a lot of Candlemass's Nightfall and a trio of Trouble albums (Psalm 9, The Skull, Run to the Light) so Out of the Garden by Philly's Crypt Sermon dropped into my lap at a most opportune time. Already riding high (literally and figuratively) on trad doom, Crypt Sermon's injection into very regular rotation was almost too much to bear at first.

I was instantly blown away by just how epic Out of the Garden is. And as usual when I love something so much, it quickly becomes hard to write about. It's difficult to critique something as a fan, and especially when it's basically without flaw. But I've been telling everyone who'll listen about it. I even tracked down a guy in a Candlemass shirt at a (thrash) show to tell him about Crypt Sermon.

Over the past couple months the litany of hook-laden melodies (both guitar and vocal based) crop up out of the blue. Sometimes though they just as easily morph into a Candlemass tune, or by extension and song by Below. Not to say Crypt Sermon are as blatant in their Candlemass worship as Below. And as for the references to Solitude Aeturnus, well, that's a band I've yet to check out. But if Crypt Sermon draws inspiration from them, then I need to get on that. Pronto.

The band itself is made up of a team of talented veterans. Vocalist Brooks Wilson (who also painted the extraordinary cover) plays bass in Unrest and Trenchrot which also include lead guitarist Steve Jansson. Rhythm guitarist James Lipczynski is the man behind the amazing Labyrinthine. Bassist Will Mellor is also in Hivelords and drummer Enrique Sagarnaga beats the skins for Ashencult.

But as you can tell from the comparisons already made Crypt Sermon sounds nothing like the members other bands. This is trad-styled doom of the most epic kind. Ominous and dark melodies gracefully weave their way through the stories of times ancient. Times of fealty when monarchies (in the back pocket of the church) meant something. When it was the Christians mercilessly slaughtering in the name of their god. Times you'd expect to hear about by taking a look at the cover and what appears to be a member of the Knights Templar.

Out of the Garden is stacked with layers and atmosphere. Even after dozens of listens it continues to reveal itself. It's clear that the band has taken this quite seriously. There's no skimping on just pounding out some doom.

Neither is there any lack of dynamics. Plodding doom pace, heavy-handed mid-paced, and hearty gallop all have their place, often within the same song. Not to mention Jansson's amazing solo work. They're triumphant and honestly add to the overall songs in a way beyond the purely sonic.

At times, such as the chorus of "Will of the Ancient Call" where it seems to come at the listener from all sides, like in the thick of battle without feeling chaotic. And on the title track where they come together in a wave of clashing sounds then spread out and lock into a doomy groove.

The best aspect of Out of the Garden is how moving it is. Wilson's vocals have a lot to do with that. He's simply amazing and what's scary is that he's actively trying to get better. Might we have another Messiah Marcolin on our hands? Wilson (and the rest) really shine on what has cemented itself as my favourite track, "The Master's Bouquet". It features a wickedly dreadful riff that carries death on its back and a terrible vengeance. It's a simple enough story that I won't ruin but Wilson sells it so, so well moving between gorgeous and gritty.

I've no doubt Out of the Garden is going to be fighting for a spot near the top of my year end list for 2015. I'm still working my way back through the 80s and 90s for traditional doom to love and Crypt Sermon have definitely sparked that search. There's only so much funeral or stoner doom to take in so something like this spreads the melancholy around in a different way. The melody, the grit, the solos and Sagarnaga's underappreciated percussion coalesce into a trad doom album that nears perfection. It's too early to label it a classic but that's just a matter of time.

Released February 24, 2015 on Dark Descent Records.

Crypt Sermon on Facebook

Out of the Garden on Bandcamp

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lord Dying - Poisoned Altars

Sludgy is as sludgy does, sir! That's the kind of straight backed reaction Poisoned Altars, the newest from Lord Dying will give you. There's nothing sloppy or undisciplined about it. The mission is to pound the listener's will into oblivion under a barrage of chugging rhythms, dangerously heavy riffs and venomous vocals. Mission accomplished.

The Portland group continues on from Summon the Faceless without a hint of a sophomore jinx. They've just honed the edge of their deadly, hammering sludge. The dirty tone and gruff vocals keep it rooted in the filth with fiery runs and galloping guitars emerging from the muck. The resulted blend of down-tuned force and massive riffs makes Lord Dying one of those bands that end up sounding like the energy they put into the tunes.

Their thrash is handled in the same way as High on Fire. It's not all about unbridled speed or flashy solos but you know they'd like nothing better than to see a thousands fists in the hair as waves of hair banged furiously along to their wicked riffery.

On Poisoned Altars you won't hear the band trying to overcomplicate things. Dooming out and steamrolling while remaining dynamic can be achieved with guts and grit and that's what Lord Dying are doing here. They got vigour and dark intent without trying to terrify.

Red Fang's Aaron Beam lends guest vocals to "An Open Sore" and his cleaner voice works well alongside Erik Olson's bullying bite. You can hear a lot of hardcore in Olson's delivery to go along with it's gruff character.

There's isn't a dud to be found on Poisoned Altars. The tone leads to the overwhelming urge to shower, the riffs are epic and profoundly catchy and it's all pulled together by an undeniable groove. They've cemented themselves well in the sludge world, ranging from High on Fire to former tourmates Howl to early Mastodon while bringing in those thrash and stoner flavours a la The Sword.

There's no ill effects to feel from approaching Poisoned Altars. It's got all the muscle and heart of it's predecessor and then some. But it seems more realized and tighter. The guitars are more confident and the attitude is more pissed. High energy sludge with plenty of hardcore edge. Amen.

Released January 27, 2015 on Relapse Records.

Lord Dying on Facebook

Lord Dying on Twitter

Lord Dying on Bandcamp

Monday, January 19, 2015

Horisont - Break the Limit 7"

If you've been waiting for Swedish throwback rockers Horisont to release a new album you'll have to wait a little longer. I know, Fall 2013 was so long ago! But in the meantime the quintet has released a killer 7” called Break the Limit (Rise Above) to whet the appetite. Comprised of two songs both just barely cracking the four minute mark, it's not much but the boys pack in as much as they can.
“Break the Limit” utilizes deft fret work and cruisin' riffs to great effect, immediately taking the listener back to the days of yore. The chorus is as hooky as Hell is hot in August particularly thanks to vocalist Axel Söderberg himself. When he hits those hight notes you just have to sing along. Or at least try to.
Drummer Pontus Jordan is swift and filly, with jazzy movement. The bridge is slow(er), ominous and heavy on Magnus Delborg's bass. And of course, guitarists Charlie Van Loo and Kristofer Möller simply tear it up with soaring guitarmonies and shredding solos.
Flipping over to “Yellow Blues” we're greeted by some fancy keyboard work. No word on who's playing them but they need to keep it up! It lends extra flair to the bellbottoms and makes hair grow. They don't stick around too long as they give way to some rumbling riffage. Jordan propels his thunder feet down the highway like a semi without brakes. The keys come back with a psychedelic edge just before the glory. Van Loo and Möller battle each other as if they went down to Georgia. It's all very bluesy and such but when they lock horns together they just fire off into the stratosphere. Fantastic.
I actually missed out on 2013's Time Warriors so this 7” is the first I've heard Horisont since 2012's Second Assault and I just about forgot how tight these guys are. I never realized how much Söderberg reminds me of Early Man's Mike Conte until now. A Horisont tour with Early Man and Dune would be stellar! Anyway, as good as Break the Limit is, it's more of a tease than a stop-gap.
These songs have a fire burning under them and one can only hope that extra energy carries over to a new full length as soon as possible.
In the meantime, check out the video for “Break the Limit”!

RIYL: Witchcraft, Blues Pills, Brutus, Graveyard, Thin Lizzy

Released November 3, 2015 on Rise Above Records.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Fayne - The Queen of Kings

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on The Queen of Kings by Montreal's Fayne. Mostly because this sort of music is targeted at a young audience and at 36 I feel anything but young. But also because regardless of age, there isn't much that's interesting about it.
Metalcore/deathcore is a tired genre whether the genre's backers want to admit it or not. And Fayne pretty much regurgitate the same recipe as a million other bands. Whiney emo vocals, like Alien Ant Farm covering Michael Jackson's “Smooth Criminal”, or a third-rate Chino Moreno, trade off with your typical death grunts.
(I kid you not, mere seconds after writing that Alien Ant Farm bit, a guy walked in on me and when I shut it off for him to use the phone he says “Oh I know that one! Smooth Criminal! Alien Ant Farm!” To which I replied “You'd think so. But no.”)
Breakdowns a plenty and that djenty lack of flow comprise the bulk of their sound, with a fair share of guitar acrobatics and emotive solos. Some of those breakdowns are worthy of breaking a chair over someone's face (in a good way) but it's nothing countless others can conjure up.
Stuff like this sells whether I like it or not. I suppose it does have a market (a buddy of mine likes it) among the melody deprived karate dancers. And for what it's worth it sounds good. But despite production values that make The Queen of Kings sound as clean as a waxed asshole, it doesn't change the fact that what's coming out is shit. And it doesn't smell like roses either.

Released November 20, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

He Whose Ox is Gored - Rumors

He Whose Ox is Gored followed me on Twitter about a dozen times. Must have been a glitch but I never followed back. No offence, but at the time it was just another random band. Until the promo for Rumors landed in my inbox. I had no idea what I was missing.
After diving into this 10+ minute EP I feel like a fool. This band is really cool. It deserves to be said plainly. If these three tracks are any indication of their style, they can be added to the list of bands defying categorization. One can hear alt-rock, noise rock, grunge, sludge and techy/progressive elements woven into an aesthetic that feels decidedly unpretentious.
Vocalist/synths Lisa Mungo sings with confidence. One can sense her natural expressiveness and ingrained talent. Her vocals are a mix of sweet and easily digestible and a more passionate yell without loss of control. Paired with the atmospheric synths and she serves as contrast to the more abrasive tones laid down by her bandmates.
Opening track “Void Assault” has guitarist/vocalist Brian McClelland bringing a rolling semi-tech riff somewhat akin to modern Mastodon but with enough mathiness to make it sound like Meshuggah through a post-hardcore filter. Bassist/vocalist Mike Sparks also shines here with a bass solo that is just bonkers.
“Buried Twice” shows off their gnarlier side. The superfuzzed tone and straightforward, catchy riffs take hold as Mungo wails the chorus beyond a doubt of conviction.
The synths aren't as prominent on much of the title track but their subtle impact is still felt. The track drives hard as well as leaves space open for Sparks's dynamic bass to not get lost amid the crunchy fuzz and drummer John O'Connell's energetic and nuanced playing.
Overall, Rumors sounds intimate and heartfelt while maintaining an adequate energy. It's just edgy enough to be cool, but not so aggressive as to turn off a larger audience. They walk a stylistic line that could lead to quite the broad cross-section of converts. Rumors is incredibly catchy, especially in the vocal department. I have a feeling they could do much more musically but they wisely sacrifice overbearing virtuosity in the interest of songcraft and gut reaction.

He Whose Ox is Gored on Facebook

He Whose Ox is Gored on Twitter

Rumors on Bandcamp

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wrekmeister Harmonies - Then It All Came Down

Cover design by Simon Fowler

Then It All Came Down is the second work from the Wrekmeister Harmonies project spearheaded by J.R. Robinson. For this 34 minute track he's brought together the talents of a number of artists including Bruce Lamont (Yakuza), Sanford Parker, Chris Brokaw (Codeine), Ryley Walker and members of Bloodiest, Disappears, Indian and Leviathan to name a few.
The concept of the track revolves around the process of natural decay and accepting that all that is brought into the light must eventually return to the darkness.
Unfolding over such a period of time means that patience is rewarded. Containing a number of movements, TIACD begins beautifully with a droning organ and chimes ushering in female choral vocals. Acoustic guitar (Walker) seeps in from the middle distance completing the scene of serenity.
The peace is broken though as Wrest's coarse growls penetrate an ominous darkness that falls over the whole. A deep drone and various noises move the listener into an unsettling and foreboding realm. It's a short period of unnerving though as mournful strings come into play.
Sorrow and ache now dominate as all feelings of hope are now lost. The calm has been restored but it is a more desperate one. Lamont's pastoral chants deepen those feelings as the strings swell with emotion accompanied by more instrumentation, filling the sonic space to a breaking point.
At that time an ear-shattering tone explodes into powerful doom feeding back magnitude and crushing atmosphere. The tipping point has been reached and the decay goes from deterioration to crumbling collapse. It's absolutely massive and haunted by spectral vocals. The destruction intensifies as percussion enters, crashing as pieces fall away.
As the decay nears completion it softens, and a melody return amid the drone. Vocals both possessed and pastoral continue to afflict the listener as the serenity of completion comes full circle and the light fades into darkness.
Then It All Came Down is a powerful, thought-provoking and existential piece of music. Robinson's vision is executed with care and understanding. Bringing so many elements (and people) together could not have been easy but the results speak for themselves.
Although enjoyable (as much as something this morose can be) under any circumstances, the full impact of the work requires an ideal listening environment. Solitude, subdued lighting and the absence of distraction allow for the full breadth of human emotions displayed here to encapsulate the listener, penetrate the soul and thus allow the full scope of the composition to be realized.
One can only imagine how moving this was when it was debuted at the Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago under a full moon in July 2013. What an experience that would have been.

Released October 21, 2014 on Thrill Jockey Records

Monday, August 18, 2014

Can-Con Double Feature: The BODY POLITIC - Egressor and WHERE GIANTS ONCE STOOD - Live Above

I try and support Canadian metal, I really do. But sometimes I get promo CDs that I have a hard time promoting. Like Egressor, the new EP from Nanaimo's The Body Politic. And even then it comes down to taste. The Body Politic can be categorized generally as mainstream metal. A young band for young fans. I'm old.
There are a lot of progressive elements weaving their way through the emo-core these lads are co-ordinating. Djent and staccato rhythms hammer away as synth/key melodies meander below the current and soaring vocals trade off with aggressive screams.
At times TBP sound like they are tripping over themselves in an effort to make the songs as jagged as possible. Also, in the attempt to diversify they shoehorn parts in where they aren't necessary and it can ruin any flow the song has going.
There's no doubt their live show is a co-ordinated attack with the long-banged masses losing their shit over the emotive outpouring juxtaposed against the back-breaking poly-metrics. For those raised on Sumerian-core, Protest the Hero or anyone who thinks that Meshuggahswitch Engage would be the sickest shit ever will find that Egressor scratches that itch between the shoulder blades. But if you had pimples when say, Metallica released ...And Justice for All, you might want to run the other way. 

On your way out of there you may come across the place Where Giants Once Stood. This Toronto group bears a lot of similarities to TBP but take things in a more metalcore direction. There are still staccato rhythms but they incorporate more groove and defined breakdowns on their EP Live Above. Less emo, more aggro. Vocally the death growls and snarls pull down the clean vocals making it all less whiny sounding than it could be. The technicality is less in your face but still tight. Many karate moves will be flashed around the pit at a WGOS show, I can guarantee you that. I could have seen such a sight for myself a couple weeks ago but I was out of town.
I can hear a similarity to Linkin Park here and there but without the electronic elements and again, less whiny. Actually, the growls and snarling screeches aren't all that bad. “Living In Security” (nifty little play on words) has some nice guitar work, both within the riffs and the solos but follows with the syncopated nature of the album.
Less progressive and more -core than their Nanaimo counterparts, WGOS may appeal to a larger subset of metal's younger demographic. Still not my cup of tea but I could see this doing well on satellite radio or that Vevo metal channel. Plus, I know a guy who is going to love both. Kids these days.... 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Moloch / Haggatha split 7"

I find splits to be a good way to introduce myself to new bands. Thus this 7” split from Dry Cough Records serves as my intro to the UK's Moloch and Vancouver's Haggatha. Clocking in at just over ten and a half minutes it won't take up much of your time but it may sap you of all your energy.
Moloch offer up four minutes of doom-laden sludge with “Head of Coil”. Vocals like a sadistic and vengeful badger spit venom from a mouth full of hate. Feedback and thick as tar tone issue forth from straining amps in powerful downstrokes and menacing riffs. Their rolling crush of ill-content snarls and oppresses sending waves of negativity cascading through your mind. Find the pleasure in extreme pain.
Haggatha counter with “Time and Suffering”. The six and a half minute track is depressive and slow, dragging the listener toward oblivion with a plodding cadence. An incessant doom riff drives you deep underground as its hypnotic aspect coils around you. Buried under immeasurable pain, the deep roars of utter anguish anchor the track in a world of despair. It's funereal and heart-wrecking. Throw these guys on a bill with Loss and Pallbearer and they'll fit right in. You listening, Profound Lore?
Weak souls may find solace in the relative brevity of this split but hardened doom warriors will ache for this kind of punishment til the end of days. Sign me up for a double dose of Moloch and Haggatha please.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Doors to No Where - Lucky You

I usually try and review albums that are either pending release or recently released. Lucky You by Santa Cruz trio Doors to No Where was released back in October 2012. That's putting a stretch on “recent”. But the band reached out to me and if a band is still pushing that hard a year and a half later, I can at least give it a try, right?
It didn't take long for me to get hooked though. Lucky You is actually incredibly refreshing. Most of the fare I find myself navigating is of the death/doom/black/grind variety and various permutations of such. Not much of it is light-hearted. Not much of it catchy in the same way Doors to No Where are.
D2NW take a mix of desert rock, classic rock, trad doom and even grunge and run that shit through the groove machine set to maximum. Their approach is simple yet effective. Take proven and familiar sounds, put them together without sounding cut-and-paste and crank it to 11.
The title track starts things off as first tracks should. It displays many of the elements that comprise their sound. Vocalist/guitarist Marc Lewis' guitar tone has crunch to spare but is also dialled in pretty hard to a Kyuss vibe. A rhythmic bar room chug drives the track, with Sean Sandford's solid bass lines riding shotgun.
Vocally Lewis brings a tackle box full of hooks. His clean tones sound human and familiar, while when he adds volume they get a bit rougher and make me think of Sixty Watt Shaman. That's not the only thing that reminds me of those stoner rockers of old. (I think I heard they're reuniting?) Speaking of old, one might also be able to discern a bit of mid-90s Eddie Vedder in there too.
As the album progresses the distinct Kyuss sheen starts to wear off a bit letting other stonerrific influences shine through. Mid-period Corrosion of Conformity and The Sword vibes make an appearance wearing Fu Manchu and Speedealer t-shirts. Dig a little deeper and you might even unearth traces of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Cathedral and Candlemass.
Lucky You is far from formulaic but there are attributes that crop up with regularity. Namely boundless, infectious riffs equally suited to filling dive bars or arenas, pretty sweet and soulful solos and songwriting chops with enough dynamics to keep the listener interested. And let's not forget all the rockin' and rollin'. Whether doomy, stoned or grungy, it all takes a hefty beating from drummer Alex Ross. Toss in some Toadies, early thrash and NWOBHM and you've pretty much figured out the recipe.
Doors to No Where aren't doing anything you haven't heard before but they do their own thing convincingly. In a time where it seems every band is trying to one-up the last one, D2NW's simple approach to riffs, song structures and vocals is a welcome shot in the arm. The sun is shining so you might as well roll down the windows and crank Lucky You on your way to the party. Then just leave it on.

Purchase at iTunes

Sunday, April 27, 2014

King Dead - King Dead

It wasn't the self-proclaimed “spaghetti western doom sludge” tag that drew me to King Dead. It was the fact that the instrumental trio is two bassists and a drummer. I love that dynamic. In fact, the spaghetti western part could very well have turned me the other way. It's not exactly a style I'm fond of. Try as I might I couldn't even make it all the way through that last Across Tundras album. But I gave King Dead the benefit of the doubt and forged ahead.
Forging ahead is actually a common theme on this self-titled debut. Without the benefit of vocals the music itself does the narration. Most often one can get a sense of the scene by the way King Dead shape their dynamics. They build up towards the spilling point creating a sense of drama.
The really interesting thing is one bassist, Will McGrath plays a 6-string and his role is higher pitched and steely, while Kevin Vanderhoof takes the low road with his growling low end. At times McGrath will soar like an eagle while Vanderhoof plods away below. At others Vanderhoof plays the lead role while McGrath provides more atmosphere. It's not the sound you'd expect from two basses but that makes it all the more appealing.
Directing the show in a way is drummer Steve Truglio. As he goes, so does the song. He can sit back and let the bassists do their thing or he can push the energy through, sparking the drama to unfold in cathartic climax.
On the hole King Dead is ethereal and smokeladen. The steely and rumbling basses are quite expressive. It can go from depressing to triumphant and back again. Their bluesy psychedelia sounds like solitude and introspection. But there's a resolve, determination and urgency that filters through over the course of the journey.

From ambling cadences to full-on sprints the album unfolds with a sense of purpose. Drone, doom and sludge all have their place on this heartfelt, expansive and callous-handed release. The desert aura and steely/synth tone would have you thinking in reddish hues but the album pulses with a blood more blue. The noonday sun shines not on King Dead. Storm clouds gather on the horizon at dusk bringing a chill to the air. And well, King Dead is pretty cool.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Moon Coven - Amanita Kingdom

*enters room panting and breathless* Hey, sorry. Yeah. I had to run out and get some bellbottoms, sandals and a new shirt before writing this. Get into character, ya know. Right on. Ok. Lava lamp, on. Patchouli, burning. Bummer. No black light. It's all good. Where was I? Oh. Moon Coven. Amanita Kingdom.
Seems like anymore when I hear that a band is from Sweden my thoughts go in the direction of retro-styled stoner rock rather than death metal. Bands like Witchcraft, Horisont and Truckfighters being some of the more well known of the style. Moon Coven stands to join those fuzz-riden heavyweights with debut Amanita Kingdom.
Touted as an EP, the album actually clocks in around 34 smoke-addled minutes. But it is only five songs. Five totally solid songs. The quintet features three guitarists making their groove-heavy riffs dominate the speakers with a monstrous fullness. Despite the immensity of tone, the power lies in psychoactive realms rather than a simple display of volume.
Moon Coven's aural aesthetic is one of impeccable smoothness; their highly repetitive jams feeling effortless and natural. Fuzzed-out riffs and blazing solos float by with an ethereal lightness and a desert tranquility. Carefree and relaxed, the listener easily falls into Amanita Kingdom's embrace leaving all troubles behind. That feeling of escapism is a theme that runs throughout the album.
The clean vocals sound distant and dreamlike, and carry with them a detached sort of bliss. Music this authentically vintage sounding calls for nothing less. (But can you believe these guys used to be in a tech-metalcore band?) One can hear an analog hiss to go along with the overdriven amp worship. It's a package that points to the obvious influence of none other than Dead Meadow. My reaction upon hearing lead track "Ruler of Dust" back in October was strikingly similar to when I first laid ears upon a Dead Meadow record playing in a record shop all those years ago. That being "OHMYGAWDIMUSTHAVETHIS." Both bands have that quality that instantly binds to the soul lending a familiarity bordering on predictability without feeling like a rip-off or stale. It's like a sympathetic resonance. Ya, that's it.
Moon Coven's debut takes what it means to be stoner rock and embodies it wholly. Heavily psychedelic and mind expansive with a keen sense of melody and a few Sabbathian licks thrown in for good measure makes it easy to get completely absorbed in Amanita Kingdom. They make it all too easy to sit back, surrounded by the comforts of delirium, gaze into the night and wonder where it all went wrong out there. Headphones are highly recommended although intense volume would also suffice.
So Amanita Kingdom. Dude, it's like totally......psilocybacious! Know what I mean?! Just choose the right mushrooms, man.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kingdom of Noise Top 40 Albums of 2013

2013 was a damn good year for metal. I didn't listen to as much as I did in 2012 though. I spent more time with albums as I tried to write the best reviews I could. I was writing for other people now and not just myself. That being said, I did listen to a LOT of music. I posted what did slip past me last year and I have picked up on some of those albums. But this is about what really turned my crank last year. I could make a list of 100 albums that are worthy of my recommendation but I'll go with the usual 40.
However, I won't be breaking each one down with a blurb as I have in years past. I simply don't have the time. And since I already wrote about most of them it seems kind of redundant.
So without further ado, MetalMatt's Top 40 Albums of 2013 (with accompanying review links, mine or those of friends).
And don't pay too much attention to the order up to around #20.

40.  Full of Hell - Rudiments of Mutilation (A389) Reviewed for Ghost Cult Magazine.
39. Nails - Abandon All Life (Southern Lord) Kevin Sirois' review at About Heavy Metal.
38. Phil Anselmo & The Illegals - Walk Through Exits Only (Housecore) Reviewed for About Heavy Metal.
37. Sepultura - The Mediator Between The Head And Hands Must Be The Heart (Nuclear Blast) Reviewed for About Heavy Metal.
36. Inter Arma - Sky Burial (Relapse) Reviewed for Hellbound.
35. Adoran - Adoran (Consouling Sounds) Reviewed for About Heavy Metal.
34. Monster Magnet - Last Patrol (Napalm) Reviewed for Scratch the Surface.
33. Fell Voices - Regnum Saturni (Gilead Media) Reviewed for Hellbound.
32. Ash Borer - Bloodlands (Gilead Media) Reviewed for Hellbound.
31. Cara Neir - Portals to a Better, Dead World (Halo of Flies/Broken Limbs) Reviewed for Metal Bandcamp.
30. Exhumed - Necrocracy (Relapse) Dean Brown's review for Scratch the Surface.
29. A Storm of Light - Nations to Flames (Southern Lord) Reviewed for About Heavy Metal.
28. Earthless - From the Ages (Tee Pee) Reviewed for Ghost Cult Magazine.
27. Inquisition - Obscure Verses for the Multiverse (Season of Mist) Dave Schalek's review for About Heavy Metal.
26. Yellow Eyes - Hammer of Night (Sibir) Reviewed for Metal Bandcamp.
25. Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu (Svart) Bill Haff's review for Scratch the Surface.
24. Castevet - Obsian (Profound Lore) Reviewed for Hellbound.
23. Lychgate - Lychgate (Gilead Media) Reviewed for Hellbound.
22. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - Mind Control (Rise Above) Karen Mann's review for About Heavy Metal.
21. Uzala - Tales of Blood and Fire (King of the Monsters) Reviewed for Scratch the Surface.

#20-11 are pretty fluid too.

20. Magister Templi - Lucifer Leviathan Logos (Cruz Del Sur) Reviewed for About Heavy Metal.
19. Shooting Guns - Brotherhood of the Ram (self) Reviewed for Hellbound.
18. Beaten to Death - Dødsfest! (Mas-Kina) Reviewed for Metal Bandcamp.
17. Corrections House - Last City Zero (Neurot) Reviewed for About Heavy Metal.
16. Demon Lung - The Hundredth Name (Candlelight) Reviewed for Ghost Cult Magazine.
15. Vista Chino - Peace (Napalm) Reviewed for Scratch the Surface.
14. Kylesa - Ultraviolet (Season of Mist) Reviewed for Hellbound.
13. Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed (Prosthetic) Reviewed for Scratch the Surface.
12. Pyres - Year of Sleep (Granite House) Reviewed for Ghost Cult Magazine.
11. KEN Mode - Entrench (Season of Mist) Reviewed for Hellbound.
10. Windhand - Soma (Relapse) Reviewed for Scratch the Surface.
9. Woe - Withdrawal (Candlelight) Dave Schalek's review for Last Rites.
8. Noisem - Agony Defined (A389) Reviewed for Metal Bandcamp.
7. Cloud Rat - Moksha (Halo of Flies) Reviewed for Kingdom of Noise.
6. Jucifer - за волгой для нас земли нет (Nomadic Fortress) Reviewed for About Heavy Metal.
5. Batillus - Concrete Sustain (Seventh Rule) Reviewed for About Heavy Metal.
4. VHOL - VHOL (Profound Lore) Reviewed for About Heavy Metal.
3. Subrosa - More Constant Than The Gods (Profound Lore) Reviewed for Hellbound.
2. Anciients - Heart of Oak (Season of Mist) Blurbs written for Scratch the Surface and Metal Bandcamp.
1. Clutch - Earth Rocker (Weathermaker) Blurbs written for Scratch the Surface and Hellbound.

There it is. Now I can take this piece of paper with the list on it out of my pocket for good. It's only been there two months.
17  D