Saturday, 24 June 2017

Pyreship - The Liars Bend Low (Album Review)


Release date: May 28th 2017. Label: Black Bow Records. Format: DD/Vinyl

The Liars Bend Low – Tracklisting

1.Gravity 07:22
2.Machine Men 06:58
3.When Leaves Turn To Blood 06:15
4.Die-Sect 07:54
5.... Are We Dead yet? 06:46

Band Members:

Sam - Guitar and Vocals
Jason - Guitar and Vocals
George - Bass
Steve - Drums

Review

Pyreship's blend of music incorporates elements of Noise, Grunge, Sludge, Stoner, Psych and Doom that shows their own highly original take on Hard Rock/Metal. Their debut album - The Liars Bend Low - is an album containing a deep political message throughout especially on the epic second track - Machine Men. Though I'm jumping ahead of myself.

Opening track - Gravity - opens with a distorted psychedelic sound before a grunge style atmosphere opens up the album up to heavier sounds and cool vocals. The song becomes heavier with Pyreship now starting to play their heavy hybrid sound that stretches across the different musical boundaries contained throughout the album. A distinctive sludge/noise groove fills the doom based atmosphere but with an uplifting vibe that appears at different parts of the song. The song takes a heavier route around the half way mark and Pyreship proves they are no pushovers in the volume departments. As this album has the perfect balance within the loud VS quiet style moments on the entire album.

Second track - Machine Men - is a deeply haunting song that comments on the political surroundings currently going on around the globe. Splicing the classic speech from Charlie Chaplin classic film - The Great Dictator - and merging it with heavy sludge, doom and psychedelic stoner grooves is a work of genius. Sure I've heard this speech before merged with the theme tune from Christopher Nolan film - Inception. I have to say Pyreship's take on that speech is the more dynamic and genuinely exciting as they write hard-hitting social lyrics and riffs that pack an emotional punch.

The production on the album is excellent as the whole tone and sound of the album is always constantly evolving to match the mood for the individual songs held on the album.

Third track - When Leaves Turns To Blood - is another sombre affair that sees the band aligns themselves to the world of classic nineties sounding Grunge/Noise Rock with a haunting modern gloomier atmosphere. The vocals are more restrained with on this song compared to the other tracks. It allows Pyreship to focus more on their music as the overall feel of the album becomes louder and more chaotic.

The final two tracks Die-Sect and … Are We Dead Yet - offer two more final rounds of doom and gloom sounding distorted riffs with bleak topical themes that you cannot ignore. On the last song Pyreship show deep understanding of the current political climate happening around the world with their choice of soundclips that they use against their own music.

Pyreship is perhaps one of the most exciting bands I've heard in years and they have delivered the goods with The Liars Bend Low. As this is a COLOSSAL album in every sense of the word.

Words by Steve Howe

USA Customers can buy vinyl here from the band directly
European Customers can buy vinyl here via Black Bow Records.

Links:


An Interview with Connor Matheson - Director/Producer of THE DOOM DOC


I'll let the following synopsis explain everything you need to know about the forthcoming
documentary -THE DOOM DOC


"Made on a crowdfunded, shoestring budget, this film offers a visceral look into a hazy black hole that lies at one extreme of the musical spectrum.

Doom is a style of heavy metal that’s all about crushing riffs played at sluggish tempos through huge amps, and the foundations of the genre were laid on Black Sabbath’s debut album in 1970.

Doom’s experienced a resurgence in popularity of late, and in this documentary, local filmmaker, Connor Matheson follows the story of Holy Spider Promotions.

They’re a DIY collective who put on doom gigs in Sheffield but they’re constantly up against it, vying for space and attention on behalf of an extreme and polarising form of music.

Through the lens of doom the film explores issues such as drug use, mental health and gentrification, and Connor speaks with luminaries from the scene, including Bill Ward (original drummer of Black Sabbath) and members of Conan, Crowbar, Primitive Man, Slabdragger, Wet Nuns, Kurokuma and more."

I caught up with Connor Matheson - Director/Producer of the The Doom Doc and he kindly agreed to do this interview.


Hi Connor. Thanks for doing this interview. Congrats on the new film. How did you come up with this crazy idea to film a documentary on the UK Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene?

Connor Matheson (director/producer): We came up with the idea when we went to film our friend, Joe’s band, Kurokuma at a DIY venue in Sheffield called the Lughole. I'd only recently started making music videos because I was kinda frustrated with my job at the time and I wanted to get back into something creative. I did photo journalism at uni and in the past I have documented different subcultures through photography and film and I'd been really wanting to get my teeth into a new a big project. 

I was inspired by that night at the Lughole - it had such a unique vibe and the DIY atmosphere made it feel like we were really witnessing something special. It was in the taxi ride home me and my friends, Ryan and Perch decided we were going to make a doc on doom metal. 

Was that the first idea for the documentary that you had? Did you have any other ideas for the documentary - any that you would like to share with us all?

Connor: We didn’t really have a solid plan. It just snowballed over time. We originally wanted to make a small film following Holy Spider, Joe's gig promotion group, but then we ended up getting some quite good interviews with big bands in the scene and this kind of spurred us on to take it further. About a quarter of the way though the project we had a hard drive melt down and lost almost all the footage. When this happened we felt pretty demoralised but we decided to carry on and made a crowdfunder to fund some new hard drives and get the production back on track. We smashed the target in 7 hours and the positive response from the doom/stoner/sludge community really encouraged us to push us forward and take the film to the next level. 


What can people expect from The Doom Doc? Just in case not many people know about the film.

Connor: The film is an immersive look at the doom/stoner/sludge scene today. It follows Holy Spider as they try to put on a doom all-dayer at the same time as the more mainstream Tramlines festival in Sheffield. From that we shoot off into deeper themes such as drug use, gentrification, mental health and escapism. And through interviews and live performances with leading people in the genre we explore the doom scene, all the way from underground bands playing in house parties and DIY venues up to metal icons such as Bill Ward and Conan. There's some high quality live footage from Primitive Man, Kurokuma, Slabdragger, Conan and more.

Did you discuss it between friends and bands before you started filming? What was their reaction to the whole project? Did they give you any helpful advice or advise you not to  go ahead with this film?

Connor: Not really, we just dove in head first and started filming at gigs. I would record gigs and interviews on my camera whilst my friend, Ryan took the sound from the desk. Overall people were really supportive of the project and things just naturally developed as word got around of what we were doing. 

It looks like the worldwide scene has embraced this project. Did it surprise you how many people were interested when you announced the project? As you’ve received worldwide help filming the documentary?

Connor: Yeah, it was really surprising the positive reaction we got. At first this was just something going on in my bedroom for a few months. To see that so many people were hungry for a doc exploring doom was really encouraging and to get help over in Los Angeles with filming one of the interviews was exciting and unexpected. Shout out to Hugo, Liz and Billy from Doomed & Stoned!


How did you decide on the final list of people to interview, especially with your limited production budget?

Connor: We focused on what was accessible at the time, choosing to interview bands that were visiting close to our region, as well as travelling whenever possible to see bigger shows and get band interviews. The money we raised through the crowdfunder helped with transport costs. We didn't really set out to interview anyone in particular, apart from Bill Ward - we knew we needed someone from Sabbath in there basically. Everyone else just happened naturally, friends of friends etc. and a lot of them are just people from bands Holy Spider has put on.

Are there people/bands that you’ve interviewed who don’t feature on the final version of the documentary?

Connor: Yeah there is quite a lot of great footage we just couldn’t fit in due to time constraints or other reasons. Oozing Wound, for example. But there will be awesome content to be released either on YouTube or on the DVD once we have finished the cinema screenings of the doc. This will include live gigs, interview outtakes from Bill Ward and Kirk Windstein, and a sick live session from Slabdragger. 

Does the film feature Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal from different parts of the UK scene? Obviously you can’t capture every town, city or region within the UK. Have you featured bands from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales?

Connor: The doc primarily focuses on the north of England, particularly Sheffield and surrounding areas, such as Manchester. But we did venture as far as Cardiff for Red Sun festival last summer and London to film at Slabdragger's studio. We fully accept we've focused on certain areas and missed out getting to know all the different scenes in the UK. And it's not like we're trying to say Sheffield is where everything is happening. We hope we've shown it as representative of what's going on around the UK. The doc is quite story-driven and needed that focus on one group of people really.

Craig and Joe from Holy Spider Promotions

Did you learn anything important about the UK Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene in general that really opened your eyes?

Connor: The biggest thing we learnt is the amount of passion and determination band members, promoters and fans put into maintaining a thriving doom scene, even when the odds are against them with venues closing down, gigs being cancelled, etc. The DIY scene really keeps this going. We hope the film pays tribute to this kind of attitude.

Did you watch any other documentaries on the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene to prepare you before you made the film?

Connor: I watched Such Hawks Such Hounds when researching for the doc and Joe's seen Slow Southern Steel, but I personally drew most of my inspiration from old punk documentaries such as Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies. Our doc is much more involving and less just talking heads like a lot of music docs can be.

Obviously you had a limited budget to make the documentary. Wow. And it looks like you delivered something special going by the recently released trailer. Did you wish more for more money on the project?

Connor: More money would always be great but I’m a strong believer that limitation breeds creativity. Some of our best ideas came from having a really small budget and the problems we faced because of that. When the odds are stacked against you it forces you to be creative to come up with unique solutions and ideas. For example, when we were filming the first Lughole gig I was the cameraman and Perch was following me round with a bedroom lamp to create enough light. There was actually a review in a local mag of that gig saying we spoiled the gig! And it's not been plain sailing with equipment failures and the like. I'm really proud we've managed to squeeze a quality piece of film out of a shoestring situation. Also this is a DIY film covering DIY music and we really wanted the making of the film to reflect the content.

How excited are you for the forthcoming premiere in July?

Connor: I’m very excited about the premiere. I’ve got to admit it has been a little daunting as it's the first film I’ve made and I wasn’t expecting such a huge response. But it's going to be something really special and I’m looking forward to showcasing the best of UK doom. The cinema have been really helpful and encouraging which has been great. We've already sold over 100 tickets so things are getting real now and we actually have to deliver.

Can you give more details where the premiere is happening?

Connor: The premiere is happening at one of the UK’s best - and Sheffield's only - independent cinemas, the Showroom on July the 9th.  It’s going to be a really special night with some of the key figures in the UK doom scene attending and people from the metal press. The film's followed by a Q & A with myself, Joe from Kurokuma and Rob from Wet Nuns and Drenge. We’ve even got an afterparty organised in the city centre which is open to everyone with a premiere ticket free of charge. We actually sold out on the original screen which means it's been moved up to a larger one, which is quite exciting but it does mean if you really want to go you need to buy your ticket as soon as possible through the Showroom website to avoid disappointment. There's a chance there'll be no tickets on the door on the night. 

https://www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/the-doom-doc

The documentary has been rated 18. Nice. How did you feel when you heard you’ve received that rating from the BBFC?

Connor: Well it was only rated by the Showroom, but we really did expect nothing less than an 18 certificate as it's got a lot of drug use and swearing in it - it's definitely not one to bring the kids to, unless you want them going round swearing and smoking bud.


Will you be showing this film in film festivals across the world or other parts of the UK?

Connor: After the premiere we will be submitting to a bunch of film festivals including Doc'n Roll in London, Sheffield Doc/Fest and SXSW in Texas. But we won’t know if it actually gets in any of these until later next year. 

Will the film be released on home media anytime in the future? Digital download, DVD or Blu-Ray?

Connor: The film will eventually be released on DVD but this won’t be until after the festivals at some point early next year. This is because when you submit to these festivals they often want exclusivity. So the only chance to see it for most people this year will be at the premiere. 

If this film is a major success, will you be making anymore documentaries on the metal scene?

Connor: Possibly in the future. I’m not planning to start another big project like this too soon but then again I didn’t plan for this one, so who knows? 

Words by Steve Howe and Connor Matheson

All photos kindly provided for promotional purposes by Connor Matheson.

Links:

Mars Red Sky - MYRAMYD (EP Review)


Release date: June 16th 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: Vinyl

MYRAMYD – Tracklisting

1.MYRAMYD

Band Members:

Julien Pras (vocals, guitar)
Jimmy Kinast (bass, vocals)
Matgaz (drums)

Review

Mars Red Sky return with MYRAMYD. A vinyl only release that sees the band create an epic 17 minute instrumental track. The song has the familiar sounds that Mars Red Sky are known and loved for. Though this time the band have added elements of cinematic rock and delivered the song within an orchestral/operatic style of music. This is something we haven't heard from Mars Red Sky before.

This is a band testing the boundaries of their own music and creating something different. It's beautifully heavy with the spaced out riffs and orchestral style sounds being played around you. If this is the new style of music that Mars Red Sky will be progressing with their next album then I want to hear how vocals will interact with music on Myramyd.

The song has moments of droned out noises in the middle of the song and it slows the mood right down allowing Mars Red Sky to experiment with their music yet again. Though the heavy riffs return with a vengeance as the song becomes more doomier and even trance based psychedelic riffs leave you wanting more.

Mars Red Sky have delivered the goods yet again. It's a shame this is only being released on Vinyl. As most people may not get the chance to listen to this EP. I'm grateful of getting the chance to listen and review this beautifully played and progressive spaced out rock opera.

Mars Red Sky prove yet again why they're one of the finest Psychedelic Doom/Stoner Rock bands currently out there today.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for the promo. Myramyd is available to buy on Vinyl now from Mars Red Sky now.

Fheels - Traveller (EP Review)


Release date: June 16th 2017. Label: JodelDiplomRecords. Format: CD/DD

Traveller – Tracklisting

1.Desert 05:15
2.Toyboy 03:41
3.Igor 04:59
4.Perfect Mistake 03:18
5.Spring 04:58

Band Members:

Felix – Vocals & Guitar
Tobias – Rhodes & Organ & Backing Vocals
Jens – Bass
Justus – Drums & Backing Vocals

Review

Fheels are an Alternative/Blues Rock band from Hamburg, Germany who channel heavy blues rock with a slight alternative feel. The band has a member of Stoner Metallers – High Fighter – in their ranks so that's a plus point for me to check them out. As I'm a huge fan of High Fighter.

The opening track – Desert – from their excellent debut EP – Traveller – has a similar feel to the bluesy vibe of All Them Witches. Though Fheels play perhaps a more stripped back approach to their music. Very laid back with cool lyrics that has a slight Americana/Desert Rock vibe. The song becomes very psychedelic at times.

Second track – Toyboy – is a more heavier affair with the band laying on the loud blues based riffs from the start. Fheels add a more funk-based style of music and it works for the most part. It's not the most exciting song on the EP but Fheels do create some soulful grooves to lose yourself in.

Third track – Igor – opens with a solitary blues riff and this see Fheels create a classic style Blues Rock song. One that is full of heartfelt lyrics and cool vocals to match. It's a delibrately slow-paced song that allows the other members of the band to show their worth. The song does become heavier in the second half and that's where I found the most enjoyment on this song. It ranks perhaps as the best song on the EP.

The final two tracks – Perfect Mistake and Spring – round off this cool as hell EP with the band playing a more sombre blues rock vibe especially with Perfect Mistake. Spring is more upbeat and sees the band play a more psychedelic and semi-acoustic offering compared to the other tracks on the EP.

Fheels have released a beautifully played and sometimes delicate EP that plays to their strengths. If you're a fan of Blues Rock then Fheels is the band for you.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Mona at Platinum PR for the promo.

Links:


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Blind Mess - S/T (Album Review)


Release date: June 16th 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Blind Mess – S/T – Tracklisting

1.Ship Of Fools 04:07
2.Your Bliss 03:45
3.Black Mess 05:41
4.Capricorn 05:07
5.Crach 06:14
6.Supernova 04:25
7.Empire 04:30
8.The Monkey 04:40

Band Members:

Oskar, Martin & Daniel

Review

German Stoner Rockers - Blind Mess - debut self-titled is a confident and self-assured affair with the band influenced by the usual Desert/Stoner Rock Bands of past and present. Blind Mess deliver a more turbo-charged affair compared to other bands. The lyrics are fine for most parts of the album as the band embrace their Desert/Stoner Rock roots. There are a few rough moments where the vocals and lyrics don't necessarily gel with the top-notch music as they should.

Opening track - Ship Of Fools - is a very good track to open the album as shades of Kyuss appears but with a more punk driven sound. The vocals take a few songs to get fully used to as they're more suited to a punk rock environment.

Second track - Your Bliss - opens with a thrash based riff before the anarchic stoner riffs appear. This is another song where Blind Mess can't decide whether they want to be primarily a Stoner Rock Band or a Punk Rock band. They do try their hardest to merge both sounds but it's only the stoner rock parts that impress the most. I cannot deny that the song has an addictive and rebellious quality to it.

Third track - Black Moss - sees the band settle more into a Thrashier/Stoner kind of sound and this is where the album finally starts to improve for the better. Boisterous riffs, vocals and lyrics hold your attention throughout. Sure it still has a punk rock sound but the band are now starting to feel like a proper Stoner Rock band.

The next three songs - Capricorn, Crach and Supernova - has the usual Kyuss and Fu Manchu influences but the band start to add a more fuzzier psychedelic sound that brings back memories of Truckfighters. Even the vocals feel they were sung by Mr Ozo from that legendary band. Despite a bumpy and varied start, Blind Mess album really starts to impress from the third track and doesn't disappoint for the remainder of the album.

The second half of the album is a lot stronger than the first half as the band become more confident and even start take risks with their music. The final two tracks - Empire and Monkey - carry on the punk driven Stoner/Desert Rock riffs with the band creating an almighty loud noise with heavy guitars and confident vocals.

The album contains two bonus live tracks with Ship Of Fools and The Monkey. Truth be told I preferred the live version of Ship Of Fools compared to the version held on this album. I have a feeling that Blind Mess songs need to be truly heard and experienced on the live stage. As you cannot really capture the live environment on a studio recording.

Despite a shaky and rough start, Blind Mess debut album is a very good and thrilling album indeed.

Words by Steve Howe

Links:



Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Elder - Reflections Of A Floating World (Album Review)


Release date: June 02nd 2017. Label: Stickman Records (EU) and Armageddon Label (US). Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Reflections Of A Floating World – Tracklisting

1. Sanctuary
2. The Falling Veil
3. Staving Off Truth
4. Blind
5. Sonntag
6. Thousand Hands

Band Members:

Nicholas DiSalvo - Guitar, keys, vocals
Jack Donovan - Bass
Matt Couto - Drums
Michael Risberg - Guitar
Michael Samos - Pedal steel


Review

This is it, folks. No if, but or maybe. Elder's brand new album, 'Reflections Of A Floating World', is it! A force from their inception, the band has finally created something truly unique...Elder Music. Kick me if you please if my statement sounds corny but hell, listen to 'Reflections Of A Floating World' and you know I am right. Elder has done something unheard of, they've created a genre only for themselves and their growing following of devotees.

There’s no beating around the bush as ‘Sanctuary’ wraps its tentacles around me. Flying around in erupting supernovas, star showers and the birth of new galaxies, Elder ejects the listener into a realm which brings peace of mind. Despite some truly skull crushing moments! But that serves as an important purpose since you have to be broken down in order to rebuild. And I feel completely at ease as to where the band is taking me and how. My mind expands and absorbs a whole new way of being and thinking. Mind blowing, people, mind blowing! And it continues with aplomb in ‘The Falling Veil’. Transcendent, expansive and mind-altering the song slowly caresses until all hooks are in. The trippiness opens up even more but with more twists and turns. ‘Staving Off Truth’ is bone crushing, racing through galaxies only to step off the grid forging new paths, new ways of being. Amazing guitar solo, by the way.

‘Blind’ is reflective, sombre especially in the lyrically department. Going full tilt at first, the mood and tempo changes back and forth bringing out emotions perfectly. Oh, that explosive solo! ‘Sonntag’ is hypnotic, almost claustrophobic at first but as soon as the drums joins in, everything is copacetic. Still trance-inducing the groove and repetition releases ant tension I have…as I dance, leap, back flips, you name it! And that’s while driving, people. ‘Thousand Hands’ closes out this one-of-a-kind piece of mastery as Elder unleashes some amazing progressive pulverizing destruction music.

And this is how ‘Reflections Of A Floating World’ plays out. To me each composition tells its own individual story, yet at the same time, when bundled together, they create a broader story. And this is another side to Elder’s greatness. After all, it takes enormous talent to write songs this multi-faceted and with such ease. Honestly, I am not surprised about what Elder has created having followed their progress through the years. Still, ‘Reflections Of A Floating World’ floored me and caught me unaware and I, for one, am more than fine with that. I mean, things doesn’t get any better than this. Over and out….I’m going to lose myself in the wonderful world of Elder!

Words by Håkan Nyman

Thanks to Nick from Stickman Records for the promo. Reflections Of A Floating World is available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl now from Stickman Records (EU) and Armageddon Label (US).

Links:


Tombs - The Grand Annihilation (Album Review)


Release date: June 16th 2017. Label: Metal Blade Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

The Great Annihilation – Tracklisting

1.Black Sun Horizon 05:23
2.Cold 04:50
3.Old Wounds 03:40
4.November Wolves 06:22
5.Underneath 04:26
6.Way of the Storm 07:10
7.Shadows at the End of the World 04:34
8.Walk with Me in Nightmares 02:17
9.Saturnalian 03:08
10.Temple of Mars 06:47

Review

The bridge and tunnel men are back to herd a compilation of creature like songs that flourish in the sewer. ‘Tombs’ is a product of their environment with a resiliency of same, true survivors with a story or maybe more of a warning that builds on the bleak, calls attention to the languid and stirs the omnipresent cauldron of our petty existence. The bulls of ‘Brooklyn’, ‘Tombs’ are motivated with burning hearts of ancient fire. Mike Hill deserves any and all of the blue and gold adulation for propagating the colossal contradiction of life in the ‘Tombs’.

Black Sun Horizon- This is the consummate unswerving and persistent album opener, demonstrating a steadfast dedication to the speed and ferocity of metal.

Cold-A dark and vicious song assembled with distorted guitars, calculator drums and palpable screams.

Old Wounds-Black iron chugged through corrugated pipes, with a brief, yet terrific melodic passage.

November Wolves is a display of resonant crunch and partisan waveforms that register deep within your pewter bones producing a dichotomous effect of the harmonic and the growl.

Underneath-a monotone vocal delivery supported by progressive bass, gauged guitar and throbbing percussion. Teenage reminiscences with meat entrapped tusks…think of a beloved “Joy Division’ tape, warped from constant play and poor storage under the front seat of your mom’s sedan.

Way Of The Strom- momentary surreal technology segues into pandemonium as the machine ignites, rips you apart and reassembles your enhanced version of self.

Shadows at the End of the World-tried and true university black metal.

Walk with Me in Nightmares-The title alone is freezer chilling for this living world and sums up the sound and resultant feeling of the song.

Saturnalian-A tribute to American gothic metal, a middle aged punk in titanium.

Temple of Mars-The ideal album closer prepared with a slow drone, atmospheric of liquorish silver and a brutal crepitation avowing… ‘dark angel rise’.

If you are a Tombs enthusiast, captivated by their gloomy style and charred by their past burnt album offerings, then “The Grand Annihilation” will substantiate your voracious addiction with no conceivable prospect of a future recovery. This is another huge album of sinister heaviness spawned by the prodigious band called “Tombs”.

Words by Nick Palmisano

Thanks to Andy at Metal Blade for the promo. The Grand Annihilation is available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl now from Metal Blade Records.