Friday, 24 January 2020

Elephant Tree Announce New Album Details For HABITS


London-based prog-psych-doom artisans ELEPHANT TREE have announced their highly-anticipated third album Habits, after four years of honing their sound on the international live circuit.

Released April 24th via Holy Roar Records, you can pre-order Habits here: http://smarturl.it/elephanttree

The band have also streamed their new single 'Sails'. View the video here:


The champions of the underground have delivered perhaps their most cohesive record yet, a scintillating blur of prog, stoner, psych, and melodic heavy rock. Opening on a hazy note of foreboding dread on 'Wake.Repeat (Intro)', the band explode into life soon after and rarely let up.

Every aspect of ELEPHANT TREE’s previously established sound has been amplified to 11 and fine-tuned to perfection. Their heavy, driving, grooves hold a more calculated rhythmic swing counterbalanced with leads that hold a soberingly clear gentleness. This is all tied together with vocals that possess a charming hedonism to their timbre, sure to win over legions more fans.

Elements of a heavy Pink Floyd, Melvins, and Deftones all combine with exhilarating effect, cementing the status of this group who have already sold tens of thousands of records and streams into the millions.

The union of sonic density and yearning is captured wonderfully, thanks in no small part to the band's production choice of The Church Studios, famed for the sounds of U2, Nick Cave, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Adele amongst others.

If the sound of Kyuss and Smashing Pumpkins partying with Hunter S. Thompson and Cult Of Luna in an arena sounds like a good time, then this is the album for you. If there's any justice, 2020 will be the year ELEPHANT TREE bloom out of best kept underground secret into a household name.


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Thursday, 23 January 2020

OZO - Saturn (Album Review)


Release date: February 7th 2020. Label: Riot Season Records. Format: DD/Vinyl

Saturn - Tracklisting

Lifeship
Saturn
Nuclear Fuel
Slide Way
Centuries

Members

Drums - Graham Thompson
Alto Sax - Karl Conrad D'Silva
Bass/Guitars - Mike Vest

Review

Saturn is the debut album from Psychedelic Rockers OZO and is a very hard album to describe. As at its core essence is an experimental Jazz based atmosphere blended with Psych Rock, Doom, Noise Rock, Krautrock with Sonic Experimentation to match. It’s purely an instrumental album but one that doesn’t shy away from being hugely experimental and unconventional at the same time. Which isn’t surprising considering the folks behind this project – Graham Thompson, Karl Conrad D’Silva and Mike Vest who are members of the following bands - Members of Ballpeen, Tong Po, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaind, Vanishing, Drunk In Hell, 11Paranoias and BONG.

Opening song – Lifeship – is a Psychedelic and Nightmarish take on Experimental Jazz based Rock with OZO creating an almighty loud sound. The song is quite addictive and moves into many different directions. The saxophone provides most of the Jazz based grooves with Graham and Mike providing a more Experimental Psych/Krautrock outlook with elements of Doom appearing here and there. It’s not the easiest thing to listen to and you need to be in a certain mood to listen to the album. Though it’s quite exciting when OZO go full flow and play a heavier and direct style of music.

Second song – Saturn – carries on the heavy psychedelic trip from the opening song but AMPS it up for an epic thirteen minutes or so. Everything is played looser, heavier and faster with more focus on heavy grooves than the Jazz style tendencies of the opening song. This song reminds me of another Mike Vest project – Blown Out – in many ways. I thought OZO would struggle to play this style of music for this long but it’s superbly weird, confusing and entertaining at the same time. The band almost lose control and focus in the middle but they manage to include a different style of music that gains back your attention with interest.

Third song – Nuclear Fuel – is another progressively long song running past the eleven-minute mark. Things become weirder and heavier yet again with OZO focusing more on their Psychedelic Rock and Jazz based influences. I must say this is my favourite song off the album. As it has a more conventional “Hard Rock” structure compared to the other songs on the album though still highly experimental as well. The distorted psych grooves add a calmer exterior in places but OZO don’t like to be playing the style of music for long and it carries on moving into many different directions.

The final two songs – Slide Way and Centuries – are both shorter songs but still carrying the same psychedelic trappings of the previous songs with Centuries being another standout song on the album. So expect more heavy psychedelic weirdness that will have you questioning your sanity.

Saturn can be called an Avant-Garde album. It’s quite different to what’s currently out there and maybe Saturn will take time to find an established audience. It’s quite a brave album for OZO to come out with for their debut record. It pulls no punches with it’s different style of music and I applaud the band for being different and thinking outside of the box.

The production is excellent and the album does have a classic seventies feel to it which allows Saturn to sound more organic than I initially expected. I’m not surprised that Riot Season Records are releasing Saturn. As that great label is the perfect place for the “Outcasts” of Psychedelic Rock Bands and OZO is no exception. It’s a marriage made in heaven you would say.

Saturn is too far out in places and quite hard to listen to at times. However, it’s never boring and makes for a superbly entertaining album that will surprise you in many different ways.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to OZO for the promo. Saturn will be available to buy on DD/Vinyl via Riot Season Records from Feb 07th 2020.

Links:


Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Lowrider - Refractions (Album Review)



Release date: February 21st 2020. Label: Blues Funeral Recordings. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Refractions - Tracklisting

1.Red River
2.Ode to Ganymede
3.Sernanders Krog
4.Ol' Mule Pepe
5.Sun Devil / M87*
6.Pipe Rider

Members

Ola Hellquist - lead guitar, vocals.
Niclas Stålfors - guitar.
Andreas Eriksson – drums.
Peder Bergstrand - bass, vocals.

Review

Seminal Psychedelic Doom/Stoner Rockers – Lowrider – have finally released their eagerly awaited second album Refractions and twenty years after their celebrated classic debut release - Ode to Io. The band did go on hiatus at the turn of the century and reformed 2013 to rapturous approval from the Stoner Metal community. It was only a matter of time that Lowrider came back with a new album and this is the main event.

Lowrider take a more cerebral journey with Refractions and inject a trippier style of Doom/Stoner Metal that takes their music into the realm of Spaced Out Cosmic Rock. Their trademark Desert/Stoner Metal riffs still remain but the band play a more grown-up sound that allows them to experiment with their music compared to their debut album.

Opening song – Red River – is a mixture of Psych Rock, Desert Rock and Stoner Rock which has a slightly early-Kyuss influence that Lowrider soon allow their Psychedelic creative juices take centre stage with classic sounding Desert/Stoner Rock vocals to match. The song moves into more “Monolord” style territory on the second half but Lowrider still manage to play their own blend of heavy addictive riffs that have an original vibe of their own.

Second song – Ode To Ganymede – is one of the best songs on the album with Lowrider showing the world what QOTSA would sound like if they didn’t go down the commercial rock route of recent years. The song is unexpectedly quite aggressive which allows Lowrider to play a more direct blend of Psych Rock and Stoner Metal that sees the band move into style of music that we haven’t heard them play before. The epic sounding Psychedelic Guitar solos is what make this song truly standout with a Spaced Out influence running freely for everyone to hear and fully experience. The organs are another cool touch which adds more substance to Lowrider’s overall sound.

Third song – Sermanders Krog – allows Lowrider to embrace their “Prog-Rock” influences even further with the band playing a more distinctive style of Psychedelic Stoner Metal with strands of Desert Rock leading the way. The song takes you on many different paths as Lowrider don’t stick to one conventional route. The song is quite challenging and creative in places but still equally and wildly addictive. This is one of the standout songs on the album and has a timeless sound to it all. The instrumental work is epic as they come with excellent vocals leading the way.

The second half of Refractions impresses even further with Lowrider leaving the Progressive Rock influences behind on the next two songs – Ol’ Mule Pepe and Sun Devil/M87*. The songs still have its fair share of Cosmic vibes but it’s more down-to-earth Desert Rock/Stoner Metal that the band first made their name with.

The final song – Pipe Rider – is the final song and don’t Lowrider leave the best song till last with an eleven minute plus Prog Stoner Rock/Metal odyssey that has many hidden surprises along the way. Lowrider could have easily lost their way with the many different sounds and ideas contained on this song. Though, to their credit Lowrider manage to keep the mood vibrant and most of all, original in their own unique way. The psychedelic and trippy interludes have the perfect balance of Heavy and Light Progressive moments that sound EPIC in every way possible. Fans of Monolord and Ufomammut will sure get a kick out of song especially when the heavier spaced out riffs appear. Though the vocals and lyrics are what make this song work so brilliantly well.

This is perhaps the best Stoner Metal album I’ve heard since SLEEP's comeback album The Sciences. Refractions is brilliantly produced and what makes this such a classic sounding album in its own right. Lowrider may have delivered the Stoner Metal album of the year.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Blues Funeral Recordings and Purple Sage PR for the promo. Refractions will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Blues Funeral Recordings from February 21st 2020.

Links:

Kirk Windstein - Dream In Motion (Album Review)


Release date: January 24th 2020. Label: eOne Music. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Dream In Motion - Tracklisting

1.Dream In Motion 
2.Hollow Dying Man
3.Once Again
4.Enemy In Disguise
5.The World You Know
6.Toxic
7.The Healing
8.Necropolis
9.The Ugly Truth
10.Aqualung

Review

Legendary musician Kirk Windstein debut album Dream In Motion is quite different to his work with his legendary groups such as Crowbar, DOWN and Kingdom Of Sorrow with the album being influenced by Seventies Prog Rock, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. The album is also more reflective with Kirk writing some of his most personal lyrics and music to date that allows Dream In Motion to have a more sombre atmosphere that you would originally expect.

Though that doesn’t mean Kirk has diverted from his trademark Sludge Metal grooves. Far from it. This album does feature a high amount of Sludge/NOLA based sounds but there dialled back a bit and the album feels more emotional at the same time. I always worry when Sludge/Stoner Metal musicians decide to release solo albums. As they always tend to be far removed what the person is known for and mainly be “Country” or “Americana” inspired albums. Most of those albums don’t impress me but I have no issues with Kirk’s debut solo album. Dream In Motion is a full on Hard Rock/Sludge Metal album with a few surprises along the way.

Opening song – Dream In Motion – opens with Kirk’s trademark “NOLA” groove before moving into Progressive/Classic Rock territory with a distorted Psychedelic edge. It’s a different style of music from Kirk but also one that has an air of familiarity as well. Kirk’s vocals are passionate and quite aggressive in places but still allowing Kirk to try his hand at different styles of music. The lyrics are excellent that impressed me from the start. The NOLA influence goes into Seventies Prog Rock overdrive but you are treated to some epic guitar riffs along the way. The song perfectly shows you how the rest of the album plays out.

Songs such as: Hollow Dying Man, Once Again and Enemy in Disguise allows Kirk to create a world-weary Psychedelic and Gloomy sound with a Post-Doom atmosphere being played on the opening stages on most of the songs. The most impressive about this part of the album is how comfortable Kirk is playing these different styles of music. Long-time fans of Kirk maybe disappointed at first to hear the album and it does take a few listens to fully come on board with the less aggressive style of music that Kirk is known for.

The later stages of the album are perhaps the best moments of the album with Kirk showing a fine ear for creative detail with the music and lyrics combining for a haunting and original style of their own. The most surprising thing about this album is the cover version of Jethro Tull classic – Aqualung – on this album. As it’s quite different to the original though Kirk still retains the dark experimental tone that appeared on the original version.

Kirk has been in the music business for over the last thirty years or so and is very much part of the fabric of the NOLA Sludge Metal scene. His influence can be heard in countless bands across multiple generations. I hope Kirk will release many more solo albums in the future as Dream In Motion is a super fresh record with a lot to say and I want to hear more of this style of music from Kirk.

Dream In Motion is a welcome addition to Kirk’s already impressive and legendary output of material.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Carl at Action PR for the promo. Dream In Motion will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via eOne Music from Jan 24th 2020.

Links:

Goblinsmoker - A World In Haze, A World Ablaze (EP Review)


Release date: February 7th 2020. Label: Sludgelord Records. Format: Cassette/DD

A World In Haze, A World Ablaze - Tracklisting

1.Smoked in Darkness
2.Let Them Rot
3.The Forest Mourns

Members

A - Guitars, vocals
M - Bass
C - Drums

Review

Goblinsmoker return with their latest EP – A World In Haze, A World Ablaze – and it carries on their distorted, trippy and down-tuned Sludge/Doom/Stoner hybrid sound. The EP is actually quite a clever release with it’s progressive sound and interesting song titles that all add up for a more disturbing taste of WEEDIAN inspired sounds.

The EP has three songs and runs for about twenty six minutes in length but this record feels like a full-length record as the band use their time wisely to create a rich and highly fulfilling album that’s got so many dark great riffs to it.

Opening song – Smoked In Darkness – is nine minutes of heavily played down-tuned Sludge grooves that have a slight NOLA feel to them with the band carefully plotting an intricate style of Doom/Sludge Metal that is thick and brutally heavy from the start. The vocals are used sparingly but are excellent when they appear. The music always drowns out the vocals on this song but lead vocalist A” holds his own against the pounding riffs that the band have included on this record. I feel the band are inspired by early-era THOU on this release but still maintaining a slightly distorted Stoner Metal vibe that is quite refreshing to hear.

Second song – Let Them Rot – another long round of aggressive Doom/Sludge Metal which the band make no apologies for. The dark psychedelic vibe lurks in the background with the band slowly playing a trippy blend of Post-Doom atmospherics before the bleak and nihilistic Sludge Metal riffs appear. Goblinsmoker take their time with song and it builds upto a nightmarish atmosphere that leaves you wanting more. This is perhaps the standout song on the EP with Goblinsmoker making no apologies for their deliberately slow paced style of Doom/Sludge Metal which oozes menace at each passing second.

Third song – The Forest Mourns – is the final song with the band continuing their blend of progressive bleak riffs and dark lyrical content that makes you think what is being said in the overall context of the song. This song is more “riff-centric” compared to the other two songs on the EP. As the band play a more familiar style of Doom/Sludge Metal with a deep thumping bass leading the way. The song continues with the overall bleak theme of the EP but the band don’t feel as aggressive but this song still allows the EP to finish on a high.

A World In Haze, A World Ablaze allows Goblinsmoker to develop their sound even further compared to their previous EP and makes you realize that we need a full length album from these guys as soon as possible. This is a quality release from a band that I want to hear more from. If you’re looking for your next addictive fix of bleak and progressive Doom/Sludge Metal, then please look no further. Goblinsmoker are that band.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Curtis at Dewar PR for the promo. A World In Haze, A World Ablaze will be available to buy on from Sludgelord Records from 7th Feb 2020.

Links:

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Desert Smoke - Karakum (Album Review)


Release date: November 11th 2019. Label: Raging Planet. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Karakum - Tracklisting

1.Smoke One 00:39
2.Darvaz 07:31
3.Solar Jam 12:07
4.Mystic Lunar Ship 06:28
5.Gate of Karakum 09:51

Members

André Pedroso Rocha (Guitar)
Cláudio Aurélio (Drums)
João Nogueira (Bass)
João Romão (Guitar)

Review

Karakum is the 2nd album from Psychedelic Stoner Instrumentalists – Desert Smoke – and these guys offer a heavier and dirtier blend of Psychedelic Stoner Rock. The album has quite a rich and experimental progressive sound that allows the band to drift into many different strands of Psychedelic/Stoner Rock weirdness.

The band are quite daring in places but there are parts of the album where I wanted Desert Smoke to delve even further into the dark musical odyssey they have released here. As sometimes you expect that “killer blow” but the band change musical styles for certain parts of the album. That’s my only complaint about this album. Other than that Desert Smoke bring the goods to the party with this album. The songs are long and offer many different styles of music that should keep you entertained.

Taking influence from KYUSS, Karma To Burn, Earthless, Yawning Man, Hawkwind and Black Sabbath with the trippy and epic cinematic Space Rock vibes allowing both Desert Smoke and the listener to go on all-out Spaced Out journey into the cosmos. The other thing that surprised me about this album is how HEAVY the band actually are. You can hear some epic Sludge grooves along the way with Darvaz, Solar Jam and Gate Of Karakum impressing the most.

Desert Smoke may seem they’re doing nothing groundbreaking with the standard Stoner Rock sound but appearances can be deceiving in this case. As the band have many tricks up their sleeve to make their album sound quite different to other Instrument Rock albums currently out there. The trippy and psychedelic vibes hide a dark and dangerous style of Desert Rock that feels like it has been corrupted by an unknown evil force.

The instrumental work between all 4 band members is nothing short of spectacular with the band playing a wide array of epic jams that have depth and meaning to them. The drumming from Cláudio Aurélio is one my favourite parts about the album. As Cláudio is a force of nature on this album and you can feel every precise hit of the drums coming at you from all directions. Though he’s superbly backed up by the other members of the band who create beautifully vivid guitar riffs that demand your full attention.

Karakum is a bold, daring and exciting album that demands many repeated listens to get the many different messages hidden within Desert Smoke’s dark vast world.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Links:


Blessed Black - Beyond The Crimson Throne (Album Review)


Release date: January 17th 2020. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Beyond The Crimson Throne - Tracklisting

1The White Wolf 02:48
2.The Black Gate 04:41
3.Heavy is The Crown 05:56
4.The Shadows 05:41
5.Arioch's Bargain 05:09
6.Finding The Limits 05:38
7.Stormbringer 04:59

Members

Joshua Murphy - Vocals / Lead guitar
Chris Emerson - Guitar
Ray Bates - Drums
Brad Bellamy - Bass

Review

Beyond The Crimson Throne is the type of album that draws influence from the last 40 years of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal but held together by a modern Doom/Stoner Metal vibe. You can hear influences diverse as The Sword, Mastodon, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden on this album. Blessed Black are passionate at what they do and they create a slightly wicked Progressive style of music that drawn me in from the very first song.

Opening song – The White Wolf – lasts less than 3 minutes but it’s more than enough time for the band to sink their claws into any devoted listener of Doom/Stoner Metal with it’s wicked style of classic Doom/Stoner grooves with a passionate psychedelic vibe allowing the music to grow naturally. Shades of The Sword and Mastodon can be heard on this song and it gives you a good indication for the rest of the album to follow.

Second song – The Black Gate – has a heavy NWOBHM feel to it but with a modern rock sounding sensibility that sees the Mastodon vibe there once again but the vocals from Joshua emit a gloomier presence with the Doom based atmosphere being more central to Blessed Black overall sound. The song is quite thrilling and the guitar riffs are plentiful and action packed from the start.

Third song – Heavy Is The Crown – pays homage to Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy with twinges of classic twin guitars opening the song with twisted glee and relish. Though the song soon moves back into heavier Doom/Stoner Metal territory but still allowing the band to keep their highly energetic blend of Classic Hard Rock/Metal. The lyrics are good and quite catchy in places with Joshua delivering another superb vocal performance that ranks as one of the albums best songs.

Blessed Black carry on their addictive and twisted style of Doom/Stoner Metal with other standout songs such as The Shadows, Finding The Limits and Stormbringer. Blessed Black stretch their creative wings on the final two songs and provide some epic sounding guitar solos that the MIGHTY GODS OF THE RIFFS would be impressed by.

The only downside to this album it’s too damn short. I would have loved another 2 or 3 songs to be included on this album. Though apart from that minor criticism, Blessed Black do a lot of things right on this album. This album is built on RIFFS and Beyond The Crimson Throne delivers this and so much more. With fantastic production, this is a genuinely exciting album that I can see the Doom/Stoner Metal community going quite crazy for.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Curtis at Dewar PR for the promo. Beyond The Crimson Throne is available to buy now.

Links: