Wednesday, 17 August 2022

The Necromancers - Where The Void Rose (Album Review)

Release Date: September 16th 2022. Record Label: Self Released. Format:CD/DD/Vinyl

Where The Void Rose - Tracklisting

1. Sunken Huntress

2. Crimson Hour

3. The Needle

4. Orchard

5. Where The Void Rose

6. Over The Threshold


Members


Basile Chevalier-Coudrain - lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Robin Gevais - lead guitar

Benjamin Rosseau - drums

Simon Evarite - bass guitar


Review


Not only are The Necromancers back with their third album, ‘Where The Void Rose’, which is bloody fantastic, they also have a new lineup. Basile Chevalier-Coudrain is the new singer, as well as rhythm guitarist, and he is a great addition to the band. Apart from his appearance nothing has changed within the band, well apart from the music being even better than before. Call it natural progression but the way the guys have moved from the debut ‘Servants Of The Salem Girl’ through ‘Of Blood And Wine’ to where they are now with ‘Where The Void Rose’ shows how much should be done. Find your sound and hone it while building up something real strong and keep pushing the boundaries while retaining your core. That’s what The Necromancers have been doing all along with a blend of NWOBHM, doom and proto-metal which now has reached a whole new level.


This fantastic album starts with ‘Sunken Huntress’ which comes across as early Iron Maiden playing heavy metal doom, if that makes sense, and it’s bloody brilliant. The way the song flows filled with guitar harmonies and riffs, it’s impossible to not be swept away. ‘Crimson Hour’ follows and it is slow and mesmerising yet it brings a lot of heaviness to the equation. New singer Basile shines immensely here whether it is in the slower parts or the bone-crushing sections, he really comes to the fore. Being the longest song at over 8 minutes, the band allows themselves to move so elegantly between tempos and emotions…amazing, indeed! Listen to those riffs about a minute in! Prior, ‘The Needle’ was seductive and alluring but then those riffs kick in and I am floored. Harmonies abound as well adding layers to an already fantastic creation. 


A great fuzzed-out start initiates ‘Orchard’ keeping it trippy and suggestive. Eventually the rest of the band joins in staying on the slower course but adding layers of heaviness. Still it’s melodic and grabs your attention and holds it. Don’t know how they do it but it’s phenomenal! The title track, ‘Where The Void Rose’ follows starts off dark and minimalistic with a wonderful bassline leading the way. Suddenly everything erupts unleashing a flow back and forth between tempos, and this plays so well on emotions. An already great song the last couple of minutes are amazing in it’s modern take on MWOBHM….love it! Album closer ‘Over The Threshold’ is a strange but fantastic beast which really shows The Necromancers’ progression. Mid-tempo in the verses, heavy crushing levels in the choruses with out of this world riffs throughout. And the band moves so elegantly back and forth between this!


I hope ‘Where The Void Rose’ is the album that catapults The Necromancers to full-blown stardom because they deserve that, pure and simple. Their new recording proves this over and over again. Every single spin uncovers more things and opens up more avenues where The Necromancers unveils their fantastic world. Music this great should be much more lauded than it is. In a world where music, like so many other things, is disposable it takes extreme talent to grab someone’s attention and hold it and make that person come back to an album constantly. And this, The Necromancers have in abundance, and then some, cause I keep returning for more and it continuously rattles my mind. Can’t ask for more than that! Thank you, guys, for unleashing this beast on us…fantastic!


Words by Håkan Nyman


Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for the promo.


Where The Void Rose will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from September 18th 2022.


Links


Facebook | BandCamp


Psychlona - Palo Verde (Album Review)

Release Date: August 19th 2022. Record Label: Psycho Waxx. Format: DD/Vinyl

Palo Verde - S/T - Tracklisting

1.Gasoline

2.1975 

3.Rainbird

4.Meet Your Devil

5.Purple River

6.Jetplane

7.La Tolvanera

8.Warped


Review


Stoner Rockers Psychlona return with their third album Palo Verde and their first for new label Psycho Waxx. The new record label from the organisers of the Psycho Las Vegas Festival. This album sees Psychlona branch out into other areas of Classic Hard Rock that may surprise you along the way. Take the opening song Gasoline which made me think, am I listening to Psychlona from the UK or a totally different band with the same name.


Gasoline is a FUZZED UP with seedy intentions with the band embracing a sixties Surf Rock attitude and up-tempo Blues Rock grooves. Throw in the usual mix of Seventies Classic Hard Rock themes and powerful Stoner Rock vibes. Psychlona’s seedier lyrics and boisterous vocals seem tonally different from their acclaimed last album. However, this works to the bands favour as this album has a deliciously addictive sound. Certain parts of the song remind me of Chris Montez classic pop song Let’s Dance but that could be my mind playing tricks on me.


Second song 1975 is an ode to bands such as Truckfighters, KYUSS and FU MANCHU with the band focusing on a more straightforward style of Stoner Rock/Metal with Seventies based production values expanding that FUZZIER sound even further. Heavier Psych Extended Jams allow the guitars to be quite intense in places with an almost “Post-Doom” flavour appearing for a more SABBATH based sound. 


Two songs in and Psychlona are on their way in playing some of the best music of their careers to date with songs such as: Rainbird, Meet Your Devil and Purple River all having sublime lyrical content, first class vocals and a ton of epic sublime grooves and extended guitar jams. 


Gasoline, Meet Your Devil and Purple River are the standout tracks on the album. As Psychlona show such depth with their music by exploring other areas of music I didn’t expect to hear from them. The album is a wild ride in places whilst honouring the legendary sounds of the Stoner Rock/Metal scene. Maybe, the band have aimed BIG for this release and some parts even have mainstream or commercial rock appeal especially on the later stages of the album.


The final three songs of Jetplane, La Tolvanera and Warped offer eighteen minutes of free-flowing Stoner Rock/Metal attitude with the added approach of Seventies Classic Hard Rock sounds merging superbly with the Psych Rock vibes that Psychlona have laid down for this part of the album. Jetplane is another personal favourite of mine from the album. 


Throw in first class production values and this is the most fun journey and exciting album that Psychlona have released so far. Palo Verde is packed full of Stoner Rock anthems that could allow Palo Verde being one of the most defining Stoner Rock albums of the year. 


Awesome stuff….


Words by Steve Howe


Thanks to Richard at Sheltered LIfe PR for the promo.


Palo Verde will be available to buy on DD/Vinyl via Psycho Waxx from August 19th 2022.


Links


Official | Facebook | BandCamp


Friday, 12 August 2022

UP IN SMOKE FESTIVAL 2022 News And Line Up


Hey friends, we're absolutely stoked to present you the majority of bands for our beloved Up In Smoke Festival!

Get ready for three days of heavy psychedelic, stoner rock and doom at the Konzertfabrik Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland!

Check out the line-up below and grab your tickets fast!
Hope to see you there

Your SOL Crew

Cape Town's Ethyl Ether reveal the video for their new single Field Of Shadows


South African Psychedelic Rock and Roll band Ethyl Ether release shoegaze dream rock masterpiece, Field Of Shadows. The track is taken from their forthcoming studio album Violent Entertainment and follows the bands SAMA (South African Music Awards) nominated 2021 release Chrome Neon Jesus. Ethyl Ether draw from a deep well of musical inspiration painting a heady palette of blues, shoegaze, stoner, psychedelia, and classic rock 'n roll.

“We wanted to make a song that everyone could relate to for different reasons, leaving the lyrics and instrumentation open to individual interpretation” – Ethyl Ether


Buy //Stream Field Of Shadows out now on Mongrel Records: https://orcd.co/fieldofshadows


Links

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

An Interview With Yuko Morino from BlackLab


Japanese Doomsters BlackLab have made a great impression on me with their last two acclaimed albums (Under The Strawberry Moon and Abyss) within the underground scene. Their heavy blend of Doom/Stoner Metal that is fueled by Punk Rock, Psych Rock and Sludge Rock vibes.

BlackLab which is made up of members Yuko Morino (Guitar/Vocals) and Chio Shirarishi (Drums) are one of the most refreshing bands to come from the Japanese Doom Metal Scene.

The band are about to release their excellent third album In A Bizarre Dream on August 19th 2022 via New Heavy Sounds. 

I caught up with Yuko to discuss the formation of the band, evolution of their sound and making of their new album.

Read on for a great interview.

Hi there. How’s it going? Thanks for doing the interview.

I am the one who should thank you. I'm Yuko the singer/guitarist of BlackLab. We're so excited to be able to release our third album to the world.

For folks not in the know, can you advise how the band came together where it is today?

BlackLab was formed in 2012. When I first formed this band it was a three-piece band. One or two years after, the bassist left the band. But, instead of looking for a new bassist, I chose to play the both sounds of guitar and bass by myself. In this way, the band became a duo. We have been active in Osaka all the time. No records were released when it was a three-piece band.

How would you describe your music in your own words?

That question always makes me wonder. Umm, how about this? Rock music with hardcore punk, psych, occult rock, and stoner rock thrown into one pot, simmered in doom metal bouillon, and spiced with grunge.

We’re here to talk about your stunning new album In A Bizarre Dream. What can people expect for this album?

Our previous albums had a lot of raw, indie/lo-fi flavour. It can be said that this has succeeded in making a strong impression on people. I'm sure the next album will be a step up from that realm. This is mainly reflected in sound quality. Overall, this album is packed with the music we want to express right now, our current maximum performance skills, and our current maximum recording technology.

What is the new album all about and why did you call the album In A Bizarre Dream?

This album includes tracks in a wide variety of genres such as fast-paced hardcore punk and desert rock, heavy metalcore, mid-tempo doom metal, and abstract, lyrical alternative rock. However, there is a sense of unity in the atmosphere that covers all of them. Regarding album title "In A Bizarre Dream", like the previous work "Abyss", I saw the draft of the cover art and was inspired by it to come up with the title. It seemed to me that the seated old man in the center of the cover art of this album was having a strange dream. And I thought the word "bizarre" was more appropriate than "strange" for the effect added to the image. We love this title.

This is quite a different album compared to your previous albums. With perhaps being more Punk Rock and Experimental on this album. Was that the plan to write and record something different to your debut release?

The previous two albums contained gloomy and extremely long songs. I think this was the right choice for our musical expression at each point in time.

However, when planning the production of this album, I thought I'd increase the number of songs a little more and balance the whole to express the breadth of our music that is not limited to doom/stoner rock. I'm sure this attempt went well.


What were the recording sessions like for the new album? Was this a hard album to write and record for?

We and our label talked about seeking more sophistication in creating this album. We had to make a recording that would make it happen. Before going to recording, as a preparation, we had a thorough discussion with our recording engineer Jun, about the direction and method. And, we've never done pre-production recording before, but this time we did. This was very helpful. Due to these, the recording went smoothly.

The album was originally planned to be released before Desertfest in May 2022. According to that schedule, we had to finish the recording at the end of 2021. So I couldn't devote so much time to writing songs. But, COVID restrictions gave me time to create. (The Japanese restaurant I work for was forced to close for a total of three months during the COVID pandemic.)

And, we usually put no restrictions on the expression of music for the purpose of establishing it as an album. It's not difficult for me to write more and more songs if I can immerse myself in it. I want to thank to that we have been able to overcome some difficulties with the label that lets us act freely and the unity of our team.

Did you do anything different when recording album compared to your debut?

In recording this album, we focused on recording sound materials more clearly. In our previous works, I brought the guitar amp cabinet to the recording booth and recorded it like a live show, but this time, as many other bands, we put the guitar amp cabinet in a separate room from the recording booth. However, there is no change in the method of playing each instrument at the same time.

In addition to this, we tried improvisation recording for the first time, on a short instrumental track. Drummer Chia played the new unique percussion instrument called Steel Tongue Drum -Sazanami- on this track. The sound of that is also included in the interlude part of "Crows, Sparrows and Cats".

Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab) appears on this album with the track Crows, Sparrows and Cats. How did that collaboration come about. As I would never imagined that type of collaboration would work. Though it's a brilliant and magically diverse track.

Paul Cox from New Heavy Sounds made us the proposal for this collaboration. He used to run the Too Pure label in the 90's. As you know, Too Pure is an independent label that has released records such as Stereolab and P.J. Harvey. So he has a relationship with Laetitia. When I first heard the proposal, I was surprised by that crazy plan. But on the other hand I was very stoked to it. 

Paul played our two previous albums to Laetitia and got approval for the collaboration. I was surprised that she agreed to sing. What an amazing thing. After that, I immediately started writing the song for the collaboration. I like Stereolab enough to make it part of my band's name, so I had no hesitation in incorporating the Krautrock elements of Stereolab into my own song. The melody and lyrics came to mind easily, and I finished writing the song in two or three days. I am proud that this is really a collaboration.

What was working with Laetitia Sadier like.

As soon as the song was written, we recorded a demo of it and sent it to her. We had planned to add her vocals to it after we had finally recorded the backing track. But she unexpectedly sent me a vocal track that matched the demo. Because of this, we had to record a backing track to match that vocal track. The tempo of the demo track was not constant, so wrote I the clicks on her vocals and then we played to the clicks. Surprisingly, this seems to have had a positive effect on us to concentrate on the performance. Anyway, when I first heard the vocals that she sent, I was moved by the power of her expression.

Your previous two albums impressed a lot of people within the Doom/ Stoner Rock underground scene. Did the response to that album surprise you both?

I think that's largely due to the work of New Heavy Sounds. We couldn't spread our music to the world just by ourselves. We are very grateful that New Heavy Sounds found us. Many people say that our music will be favored by overseas listeners. But we were surprised that the response from overseas fans was better than we had imagined.

New Heavy Sounds are releasing your new album again. It's great BlackLab are continuing that relationship once more. How did you become involved with that great label?

The beginning of this wonderful relationship was that we posted a link to bandcamp of our first self released album "Under The Strawberry Moon" on several doom / stoner metal communities of Facebook. Paul from New Heavy Sounds saw it and got interested and contacted us. He asked if he could play our song on his radio show Artrocker Radio. Of course we found no reason to refuse it. New Heavy Sounds then proposed a plan to release the remix album "Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0". This was the beginning to our great journey to the world.

Who writes all the lyrics for BlackLab. Is this a group effort or down to certain individuals?

The lyrics of all songs are written by me. As many other bands, we share the role of each. Writing English lyrics is a bit hard to me because I'm not very good at English. But I enjoy that. Google translation is my lifeline ha ha.

Who and what influenced your lyrics for the new album?

I usually write the vocal melody after the backing track is complete, and finally the lyrics. I wrote the songs for this album in the same way. It's not often that someone or something in particular influences my lyrics. My usual method is to derive the lyrics from images and scenes that come to mind from the written backtrack. Sometimes it's a scene from a movie or manga I've seen in the past, or it's my own past experience. For example, when I wrote the lyrics for "Monochrome Rainbow", I remembered the feeling I had when I passed out in the past (by concussion or something), and exaggerated my imagination from there.


The album cover is superb. Who designed the artwork and how much input did you have into the final design?

Thanks. However to be honest, I’m not sure if this album cover can make a good impression on people. Because it has a bit of a weird feel to it. But I think that attractive things usually have a bit of a weird vibe to them. This is, Ged the owner of New Heavy Sounds edited a photo taken by our sound engineer Jun. The basis of the idea is what I imagined.

Will you be touring and promoting the new album in the coming months at home or abroad?

We're going to have one album launch gig in September over here Osaka. And after that, two in October and two in November in Tokyo, Osaka and Gifu. There are no plans for overseas tours at the moment. I hope we could go on tour, around next year.

How did you get involved with music. Was it a particular album, group or artist that made you want to write and play your own music?

I started playing electric guitars when I was twenties. That's pretty late compared to a lot of musicians, isn't it? At the invitation of a work colleague, I started a copy band with her and her friends. We were playing songs from the Velvet Underground, The Stooges, The Beatles, Japanese indie bands, etc. At that time I was in charge of vocals in the band. Later the guitarist left the band and I became a guitarist. I continued that band for several years as a hobby. 

A few years later, I formed a hardcore punk band with Chia and a bassist, and started band activities in earnest. I started writing songs in that band. That's when I was in my late twenties. I have known Chia for a very long time. When I was writing songs for that band, I was influenced a lot by Helmet, Faith No More, Soundgarden, etc. I still love these 90's iconic bands.

What is the current state of the Japanese Underground Rock/Metal scene. Do you have perform gigs on a regular basis and do you have a local scene that your actively involved with?

We only have regular gigs in Osaka, but there are bands with deep connections in Tokyo, Kyoto, Gifu and Shikoku, Kyushu region etc. They are mainly doom/stoner rock bands, but their genres are wide-ranging such as hardcore punk, new school metal, noise music, etc. They often invite us to play with them at their local gigs.

Both of players and listeners of Japanese underground Rock/Metal scene are aging. This may be true for other countries as well, though. Until the 90's, rock and metal were youth culture, but now it became to the middle-ages who were young people at the time stuff. 

However, among the children whose parents are such Rock/Metal people, it seems that there are a few young people who are attracted to Rock/Metal because of their influence. Around me, there are fans and players in their 20s who really love metal music. We sometimes perform with them at live shows, so I think it would be nice if we could stimulate each other. Also, I feel that the Japanese Rock/Metal scene has become polarized into overground and underground, and that has gone from popular culture to more subculture in Japan. 

But I think there is also the positive side of showbiz-like Rock/Metal music being weeded out and the underground scene being better formed. I think that the underground scene will be more active over here due to these things.

Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans currently out there?

Thanks for listening to me. Please forgive me if there're parts that are difficult to understand due to my imperfect English.

We want thank to folks who has supported us since our debut, folks who liked us seeing us for first time at Desertfest, and everyone who picks up this album and listens. 

Please play this as loud as possible. Let's have a bizarre dream with us!

Words by Steve Howe and Yuko Morino

Thanks to Simon at For The Lost PR for arranging this interview and thanks to Yuko for doing this great interview.

In A Bizarre Dream will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via New Heavy Sounds from August 19th 2022.


Links


Facebook | BandCamp | Twitter | Instagram


Highwalker - S/T (Album Review)

Release Date: July 29th 2022. Record Label: Argonauta Records. Format: CD/DD

Highwalker - S/T - Tracklisting


Burning Temple

The Hermit

Under The Twin Suns

The Final Trench Run


Review


Instrumental Doom/Stoner Metallers Highwalker self-titled debut album spans four songs and runs for around thirty three minutes. The band play a gloomy style of Instrumental Metal where the icy cold Psychedelic exteriors melt away to a distorted and down-tuned blend of Doom/Stoner Metal. Inspired by bands such as Pelican, SLEEP and CONAN though the band play at a much slower pace. The music is multi-layered and progressive at the same time.


Opening song Burning Temple offers a cinematic escape where Highwalker brings early-era Mastodon sounding aggression with the long drawn out grooves and hard hitting drums. The band starts playing FUZZ based guitars and elements of sludgy Post-Rock vibes. The guitars move into nineties Stoner/WEEDIAN territory and the ice cold flow of the record remains fully focused for Highwalker to deliver extended musical jams.  The band ultimately start playing AMPLIFIER WORSHIP and LOW & SLOW based music with Psych Metal vibes before the song ends on a more glitch free environment.


Second song The Hermit opens with a more laid back groove with cool solitary guitars and flashes of  Psych Rock and Post-Rock noises. The song fully moves up a gear when Highwalker plays a heavy blend of WEEDIAN based distorted rhythms. The instrumental work can be quite JAZZY in tone and nature with the song becoming quite melodic before the closing moments of the song. The distorted glitches make another brief appearance that allows the song to close naturally.


Third song Under The Twin Suns starts quietly yet again with Highwalker merging Ambient Post Rock rhythms and Post-Stoner chill out grooves. The music can be quite laid back and therapeutic in places with Highwalker confidently playing cool guitar sounds that loses its way when the FUNK based jams appear. Though the song is ultimately saved by a classical style of Stoner Metal appearing and allowing HIghwalker to play a more aggressive sound that features some of the heaviest parts of the album.


Fourth song The Final Trench Run is a more traditional Doom/Stoner Metal track with Highwalker still allowing themselves the chance to play the albums earlier Psych Rock and Post-Rock sounds. This track is downright catchy and full of aggressive tones that ends the album on an exciting finish.


For a debut album, this is an assured and confident release that should allow the band to make themselves known within the underground scene.


Words by Steve Howe


Highwalker's self-titled debut release is available to buy now on CD/DD via Argonauta Records.


Links


Facebook | BandCamp


Monday, 8 August 2022

Indus Valley Kings - Origins (Album Review)

Release Date: June 08th 2022. Record Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD

Origins - Tracklisting

1.Clown 04:43

2....And the Dead Shall Rise 07:01 

3.A Cold Wind 08:19

4.Hell to Pay 05:03

5.Dark Side of the Sun 08:49

6.Mohenjo Daro 05:47

7.Demon Beast 04:23

8.Drowned 04:52

9.Sky King 06:13


Members


Billy Fridrich – lead and rhythm guitars, lead vocals

Jonathan Lesley Habers – bass, vocals (lead vocals on Hell to Pay and Demon Beast)

Dan Lofaro – drums


Review


Origin is the second album from Psych Stoner Metallers Indus Valley Kings and the band explore musical areas such as Doom Metal, Fuzz, Blues Rock, Desert Rock and Grunge to allow this album to have a meatier sound compared to their debut album. The album is heavy and intense from the start with opening song Clown having a powerful guitar tone and thunderous heavy bass allowing Indus Valley Kings to take influence from bands across the Hard Rock Musical Spectrum. 


Clown becomes more grunge based towards the latter stages and I could easily detect an Alice In Chains influence with some of the guitar playing and lyrical content. The song shows how the band are quite adept moving from the classic seventies based Hard Rock sound to the more modern Psych Stoner Metal flavours that enrich this song so well. Don’t forget the killer vocals from Billy having a “showman” quality to them.


Second song …And The Dead Shall Rise is another delicious slice of FUZZ ROCK attitude with the Doom based atmosphere allowing Indus Valley Kings to play more top-heavy bass grooves with a thumping WEEDIAN guitar sound being quite “punchy” in the volume department. It seems the band take the Classic Power Trio structure and add distorted levels of Stoner based Grooves for a richer and fuller sound. The music is quite raw and abstract in places but this allows Indus Valley Kings to throw caution to the wind and deliver some intense Stoner/Desert Rock vibes that end up being one of the heaviest parts of the album.


There’s a lot to fully take in with this album. As the band have written some truly captivating lyrics that make you think in certain places. The music is highly original throughout with Indus Valley Kings not playing by the standard Stoner Rock/Metal Rule Book. The album could be considered experimental with the band taking a diverse and creative approach with the many different genres of music that’s included on this album.


The one area you can’t complain about is the riffs. As the album is jam-packed with epic riffs from different areas of the Hard Rock/Metal scene. With this album having a Blues Rock soul, the band do veer into “Jazz Rock” on certain stages of the album.


Other great tracks to check out are: A Cold Wind, Dark Side Of The Sun, Drowned and Sky King.


The production can be extremely loud and too forceful at times but that could be my advancing years showing. However, the album does sound superb especially on the second half of the album. Origins is a wonderfully different album and it’s good to have an “EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED” attitude with this record.


Excellent and Highly Recommended.


Words by Steve Howe


Links


Official | Facebook | BandCamp