Thursday 29 October 2015

2016 Borderland Fuzz Fiesta Festival Line-up Details

Here's the full line-up for the 2016 Borderland Fuzz Fiesta.

The Friday night, Feb 26, 2016 show will now be Dead Meadow, Yawning Man, Blaak Heat, 3rd Ear Experience, Zed, Funeral Horse, Big Mean, and Dead Canyon

Saturday, Feb 27, 2016 will be Waxy, Dandy Brown (of Hermano), Cloud Catcher, Fuzz Evil and more to be announced soon.

Friday night with Dead Meadow ($20):

Early bird two-day pass, limited to 50 ($30):

Back for its second year in a row, Borderland Fuzz Fiesta will once again bring the unmistakable sounds of Palm Desert, California and beyond to Tucson, Arizona. Curated by the Ruddell brothers of both Powered Wig Machine and Fuzz Evil, the show will take place on Friday, February 26th and Saturday, February 27th at 191 Toole in the heart of Tucson's historic downtown.

More band announcements will be revealed soon, but as of now, here's the lineup.

191 Toole is a 400 capacity venue so this is going to be super-intimate.

WOMEN - Feel Bad Hits Of The Winter (EP Review)

Release date: November 2015. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Feel Bad Hits Of The Winter – Tracklisting

1.Feel Bad (Hit Of The Winter)
2.Hive Minds
4.Jam Room (Full Version)

Band Members:

Jon. Ron. Gareth.


UK Scuzz/Grunge/Sludge/Stoner Rockers – WOMEN – return with a new EP – Feel Bad Hits Of The Winter. Yeah I wonder which band influenced them for that title. Don’t worry; this isn’t some second rate QOTSA clone. WOMEN are a finely tuned Sludge/Stoner Rock combo with a few tricks of their own in the riffs department. A couple of the tracks on the EP – Feel Bad (Hit Of The Winter) and Hive Minds – have been streaming already on BandCamp for a few weeks and I’ve promoted on the Facebook Page recently. Now it’s good to see that WOMEN have a proper EP with two extra songs but more about them later.

First track – Feel Bad (Hit Of The Winter) – a low-down, dirty Sludge/Stoner Metal song that packs quite a punch with melodic riffs and a fully confident groove. The vocals are what you expect from a band such as WOMEN. Grizzled, angry and one that has shades of Mastodon at times. The FUZZ is there for everyone to feel and listen as the mood can be very psychedelic with a ton of fast-paced riffs.

Second track – Hive Minds – opens with a grunge based riff before the band return to their heavier Sludge/Stoner Metal ways. The vocals drift from clean based chants to sludge based growls and it’s quite a contrast especially when they’re mixed with the grunge based doomy riffs. It shows you how inventive and demonic the band actually is. One of the standout songs on the EP.

Third track – Vampyres – sees WOMEN opt for a more Red-Fang approach to their music especially where the riffs are concerned. The vocals have a snarling Punk Rock vibe but it’s the heavy sludge/stoner riffs that holds your attention as the band play at such at a fast pace. It’s hard to keep up at times. It’s quite a bass heavy affair as WOMEN experiment with their sound yet again. I’m not complaining as its good to see WOMEN explore different sounds on the EP.

Finally, WOMEN offer one final epic almost 13 minute track – Jam Room (Full Version) – a song that takes a while to get going as the production is very lo-fi as the sound drifts from great to not so good. I feel this song is just here to make up the numbers but it is a great song to listen to. I hope the guys record a new version of this song and perhaps cut 5 mins from it as there is a fantastic song waiting to be discovered here. It’s purely an instrumental jam based song with epic guitar solos and impressive drumming through out.

Feel Bad Hits Of The Winter is an excellent EP and it shows that WOMEN are definitely a band to look out for. Hopefully the next full length record won’t be too far behind.

Thanks to WOMEN for the promo. Feel Bad Hits Of The Winter will be available to buy soon.

Words by Steve Howe


Cult Of Occult - Five Degrees Of Insanity (Album Review)

Release date: October 15th 2015. Label: Deadlight Entertainment. Format: CD/DD

Five Degrees Of Insanity – Tracklisting

1.Alcoholic 14:46
2.Nihilistic 12:10
3.Misanthropic 16:19
4.Psychotic 10:32
5.Satanic 17:11


Cult Of Occult’s new album – Five Degrees Of Insanity – is a complex, dark and brooding exercise in Sludge based torture. This album is the audio equivalent of intense pain as the band doesn’t shy away from creating brutal down-tempo Doom/Sludge Metal that some people may struggle with. The twisted album cover tells you what to expect for the next 65 minutes or so.

Even the bleak song titles revel in the misery as Cult Of Occult lay on the doom ridden filth onto the listener. Opening track – Alcoholic – has enough vitriol and power to drive you to drink. The vocals are pitch black from the start with the intense and almost psych based doom and gloom rhythms make this perhaps one of the darkest albums your likely to experience this year.

The band deserves credit for creating epic songs that not only holds your attention but actually demands your respect. Who’s going to argue with them as the nihilistic tone of the album is so commanding through out. The songs range from 10 mins to 17 mins in length as the band leave no stone unturned as the riffs become bleaker and darker with each passing moment.

Tracks such as Nihilistic, Misanthropic, and Psychotic – sees the band venture further into drone based sonic territory as the music can become slightly repetitive at times but it’s the bleak outlook of the whole album that holds your attention. The final song – Satanic – is the darkest song on the album well with a name like that what did you expect – A ray of sunshine. No chance. Not with these filth-ridden doom-mongers. It’s good to see Cult Of Occult actually play some gloomy Occult based metal with a tinge of Psychedelic Drone based noise that I remember from their earlier releases. The mix of clean based vocals and death based growls works superbly well as the band unleash perhaps the standout track on the album.

Five Degrees Of Insanity is an excellent record that will frustrate you at times but you can’t deny how powerful it really is. Cult Of Occult should be very proud of this album. It may not be to everyone’s tastes but at least they have the vision and courage in releasing a superb album such as this. Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Alex at Deadlight Entertainment for the promo. Five Degrees Of Insanity is available to buy now on CD/DD.

Craneium - Explore The Void (Album Review)

Release date: October 25th 2015. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Explore The Void – Tracklisting

1.Imperial Duster 06:22
2.Meet On Mars 04:23
3.Holy Oath 03:27
4.Tzar Bomba 07:44
5.Harvest 04:48
6.Demon Of The Sands 04:01
7.Dr. Plague 05:32
8.Witchcoven 05:01
9.Ceasing To Exist 09:16

Band Members:

Ankko Kaján - Lead and backing vocals, Guitars
Martin Ahlö - Lead and Backing, vocals, Guitars
Axel Nordman - Lead and Backing vocals, Bass
Joel Kronqvist - drums


Craneium’s debut album – Explore The Void – is a rare album that comes out of nowhere and makes a lasting impression on you. If you’re a fan of Truckfighters, Kyuss, Sabbath and Wo Fat then Craneium deserve your attention.

Opening track – Imperial Duster – starts with a Fuzz/Desert Rock soaked groove with the band opting for a crazy sci-fi based vibe with tales of illegal races along the Milky Way. You’re bound to detect the Star Wars influence and it’s an interesting idea as these guys have a slight Monster Magnet influence going on. It’s crazy, yeah, no doubt but the band are having so much fun it’s hard not to get caught up by it all. The vocals are pitch-perfect as they have the right amount of charm and style to give the song an extra layer of confidence.

Second track – Meet On Mars – carries on the sci-fi/space-rock theme with a trippy 60s based organ before the heavier sludge based riffs make themselves known. It’s a different kind of Fuzz vibe compared to the first song but there’s a slight menacing mood with the band opting for a heavier approach. It allows the band to venture into Heavy Metal style theatrics but it’s the Psychedelic Fuzz atmospherics that keeps you entertained through out.

Third Track – Holy Oath – has a lo-fi punk sound drowned under the distorted noises as you feel this is a different band from the first two tracks. Imagine Kyuss given a Punk-Rock makeover and that’s the best way to describe this song. It’s an exciting song though I wasn’t expecting the lo-fi punk vibe. It’s good to see a band like Craneium experimenting with the standard Fuzz/Desert/Stoner Rock sound.

Fourth track – Tzar Bomba – is one of the standout songs on the album as the band delve further into their Psych/Fuzz/Desert Rock sound with layers of distorted Sludge/Stoner Rock being played in the background. The vocals change direction and delivery yet again as this band doesn’t stick to one set sound. It’s the same scenario with the music as the band experiment with their sound as they create a dangerous cocktail of delicious and dangerous Psychedelic Fuzz.

Fifth track – Harvest – sees the band opt for a more stripped back approach with the riffs being played at a slow pace that verges on Industrial Rock mixed with heavy pounding Sludge/Stoner riffs. The ambient based noises add a certain sense of calm before the band unleash a non-stop barrage of violent Stoner/Desert sounds that would make Truckfighters proud to call their own.

Maybe I’m giving too much away with this album review. The band have 4 other songs to entertain you with and believe me when I say Craneium create even heavier far-out riffs seen on the first half of the album. Truth be told, Craneium opt for a more Doom Metal approach with the Fuzz/Desert Rock vibes giving way to a heavier doom and gloom approach. There are still huge amounts of fun to be had on Demon Of The Sands, Dr Plague and Witchcoven.

The final song on the album is where Cranieum impress the most. Ceasing To Exist is an epic 9 minute song that has an Atmospheric Doom/Post-Metal quality about it though it’s the traces of intense Psych Stoner Rock that holds everything together. Cranieum end the album on such a high note. It’s almost impossible not to be moved by this song as it’s very emotional at times especially when the acoustic psych guitars appear towards the end of the song.

Craneium have created a crazy, fuzz-tastic and doom-laiden psychedelic surreal road trip into the unknown. Explore The Void is a brilliant debut album. Check it out. You won’t be sorry.

Words by Steve Howe


Facebook | BandCamp

Holy Mount - We Fell From The Sky (Deluxe Edition - Album Review)

Release date: Sept 7th 2015. Label: White Dwarf Rock. Format: DD/Vinyl

We Fell From The Sky (Deluxe Edition) – Tracklisting

1.Throughout These Eyes 07:25
2.We Fell From The Sky 06:00
3.Garm of Hounds 05:56
4.Born of Eclipse 06:19
5.Meadowvale 06:30
6.Breeze Blows West 05:08
7.The Rain The Might 05:10

Band Members:

Danijel Losic / Troy Legree / Brandon McKenzie / Clayton Churcher


I remember reviewing this album back in 2011 when it was originally released. It struck me back then what a fantastic record this really is and how Holy Mount were a band to look out for. Fast forward 4 years and the record is being re-released as a Deluxe Edition on Vinyl.

If you're new to the world of Holy Mount, here's your chance to find what all the excitement is about. Holy Mount play Heavy/Psych/Drone/Stoner Rock with hints of Doom running throughout their sound. It's very very loud once the guys get into a continuous rhythm and the album can be very euphoric at times especially on the opening few tracks.

Fans of Earthless will get a kick out of this band and album you can hear certain influences from that legendary band within Holy Mount's music. It's hard to pick a favourite song on this album as they're all equally good as each other. The thing that impresses the most is how the band constantly shift musical genres without you noticing as you will by put in a hypnotic trance. It's addictive stuff with shades of 70s Psych Rock coming into play at times.

What's so deluxe about this edition. Well the band have included two songs from the “Breeze Blows West” 7” they released a while back. Even though the band have released two further albums (Alpic and VOL) since this albums original release, it's this album that I consider my fave from Holy Mount. As it showed me what awesome musicians the guys actually are. I've heard rumblings of a new album being released next year or so. Let's hope so as I feel Holy Mount have only began their musical journey. Until then, enjoy this trippy and psyched out masterpiece.

Words by Steve Howe


Monday 26 October 2015

Shooting Guns/ZAUM - Himalaya To Mesopotamia (Album Review)

Release date: November 6th 2015. Label: Sunmask Records/Pre-Rock Records/Superbob Records. Format: Cassette/DD/Vinyl

Himalaya To Mesopotamia – Tracklisting

1.Shooting Guns - Super Himalaya
2.Shooting Guns - Dirty Needle
3.Shooting Guns - Ultimate Nullifier
4. ZAUM - The Serpentshrine

Shooting Guns Band Members:

Jay Loos
Jim Ginther
Toby Bond
Zach Low
Brennan Barclay

Zaum Band Members:

Kyle Alexander McDonald : Vocals, Bass, Sitar, Synth
Christopher Lewis : Drums


Two of Canada’s finest upcoming Doom Metal bands Zaum and Shooting Guns have teamed up for a split record – Himalaya to Mesopotamia. Four songs lasting 39 minutes with ZAUM offering one epic 19 minute song and Shooting Guns offering 3 songs lasting around 6 to 7 minutes each.

If you’re not familiar with either band then this is the best place to start. Zaum’s music is described as Eastern based Doom/Stoner Metal. Imagine OM and Sleep given a Middle Eastern twist as the sounds are shrouded in heavy drone based Eastern Mysticisms. Shooting Guns on the other hand are an Instrumental Doom Metal band with shades of Ambient Noise, Post-Rock and Stoner Metal. They’ve already released a split record earlier this year with Hawkeyes. So I was curious to hear what they’ve conjured up for this split record.

First up is Shooting Guns and I’m excited to hear what they have in store with us as they have quite a different sound compared to Zaum. One more of Instrumental Psych/Doom/Stoner Metal compared to the Eastern based sounds of Zaum. The first song is Super Himalaya. A Psychedelic Doom/Stoner Metal ride with Shooting Guns opting for a more stripped back feel compared to their earlier releases. It’s very lo-fi at times but it still sounds superb from start to finish. The riffs are played at a fast pace with distorted ambient noises being the main driving force on the track.

Dirty Needle is the next song to follow and it’s another spaced out trippy doom and gloom based musical odyssey with the band creating some heavy out there moments. Shooting Guns even manage to follow Zaum’s lead and inject some Eastern based vibes. This is perhaps the best song from Shooting Guns on the album as it features the bands trademark riffs but given a Zaum makeover. Long drawn out psych doomy riffs await to take you to another world or dimension.

The final track from Shooting Guns is – Ultimate Nullifier – which is classic Shooting Guns from start to finish. This is a song that could have came from their critically acclaimed album – Brotherhood Of The Ram. It’s a fast-paced Doom/Stoner Metal song packed with intricate psych vibes and spaced out noises to show you why these guys are so highly thought of. In my opinion, Shooting Guns are perhaps one of the finest Instrumental Doom/Stoner Metal bands currently out there. They’ve released 3 great records in the last 12 months.

Finally we have Zaum’s contribution – The Serpentshrine. If you’re a fan of Zaum’s debut album – Oracles – you’ll find much to admire here as Zaum continue with the Eastern epic based drone sounds merged with slow-paced Doom/Ambient/Stoner Metal sounds. The vocals and chants drift in and out to add a world eerie atmosphere that also brings a sense of mystery. It does take time for Zaum to unleash the heavy thunderous riffs. Though it’s worth the wait as you know a violent storm is coming towards you.

The vocals move up a gear when the heavy riffs appear as the song becomes more exciting as a result. Zaum crank up the tension as the guitars merge with a murkier psychedelic sound. The drumming becomes more powerful as a result. Psychedelic Noises and Eastern Mantra sounds collide for one of the most spaced out trips of the year. Take a journey with ZAUM as The Serpentshirne features some of ZAUM’s most creative work to date.

I hope a new album from both bands isn’t too far away. Until then, Zaum and Shooting Guns have created a stunning record here. Himalaya to Mesopotamia is a must-have record for all you spaced out astronauts to admire and fully experience.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Zaum, Shooting Guns and Sunmask Records for the promo. Himalaya to Mesopotamia will be available to buy on Cassette/DD/Vinyl via SunmaskRecords/Pre-Rock Records/Superbob Records from November 6th 2015.

Shooting Guns Links:

Zaum Links:

Tombstones - Vargariis (Album Review)

Release date: December 4th 2015. Label: Soulseller Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Vargariis– Tracklisting

1. Barren Fields 09:26
2. And When the Heathen Strive, Vargariis Rise 08:43
3. Oceans of Consciousness 10:14
4. The Dark High 09:18
5. Underneath the Earth 09:05
6. Pyre of the Cloth 09:43

Tombstones Band Members:

Bjørn-Viggo Godtland – Guitar/Vocals
Ole Christian Helstad – Bass/Vocals
Markus Støle - Drums


This album is an infused masterpiece of a home brew like quality. There is a great deal going on here and there is much to enjoy over repeated listens. In fact, you can’t listen to this just once. You need to listen to this piece of work several times to really enjoy what has been accomplished for your auditory pleasure. This band is no stranger to stoner rock as evidenced from past releases, but make no mistake, this band is doom. This current release is essentially a stoner rock and doom metal meatloaf. The recipe has doom as the main ingredient mixed with some stoner crumbs. These songs are long, with all but one of them being over 9 minutes on the clock and the shorter one still being over 8 minutes long in duration.

This album is complete with strange twists and unexpected turns alongside fast ups and slow downs. It’s like a large course meal seasoned with darkness. This may be an acquired taste for the safe genre folks, but if they give it a chance, it will be a palette revelation when they finally begin to crave the bitterness over the staple foods. The overall experience is an arduous journey through a forest of ugliness ending in the completion of another chapter in your desperate life. What a trip. A true stoned and doomed classic. Now, on to the individual tracks…

Barren Field s- The beginning feedback you hear is the precursor to what is to be the soon unexpected find behind the lifting curtain. This track has it all, including sludgy doom and driving metal, alongside indelible vocal passages. You will sway like a weeping willow on this one.

And When The Heathen Strive, Vargariis Rise - You need to make sure your limbs are limbered up, because the swaying continues on this track. I can describe this sound experience as a decathlon, harnessing everything that is beloved in the blueprints of darkness. There are many parts to create the spectacular whole. This workout track is an endorphin rush complete with embossed veins the size of garden hoses. A real workhorse.

Oceans Of Consciousness- The start of this song tenderizes you for the rest of the tumultuous tempest of this sonic exposure. You are not a participant in the chaos, but more of an observer of the destruction. The band controls this offering with precision, carefully regulating between time lapse and slow motion, all swirling in the ether. The dual vocal passages of screaming and hoarseness, as well as, vintage soloing are a welcome mat for your ears, graciously accepted at the end of this experiment in sound. An album favorite.

The Dark High - This track is a slow churner that succeeds in thickening the sinew around the bone. A constant barrage of stoned, galloping riffage and gravel like vocals. The last part of this song is black gold.

Underneath The Earth -This song resonates with harsh punishment through the chugging and rumbling instruments and satisfaction through desire type vocal passages. The entire track is festering with the murkiness of the subterranean world and the force of the beings that prosper under the village. The end turn is quite a ride.

Pyre Of The Cloth - This track is constructed of plodding distorted doom and heavy rock creating the backdrop for additional great singing passages and some sparse screams. I dare say that there is some catchiness here and some gratifying solo work. This is a perfectly strong closer to an utterly phenomenal album.

This album is dark, but not entirely bleak in its charred composition. There is a certain faint light that shines through the dismal fog, providing warmth that feels at home within your bones.

This band is made up of dirty hippies that own the dark. This musical fungi grows only where Tombstones mark the land. I will not wash my mushrooms before I eat them because I want all the nutrients, but more importantly, because I like the taste of this world. This is an extraordinary endeavour, in span and rendition.

Words by Nick Palmisano

Thanks to Jan at Sure Shot Worx for the promo. Vargariis will be available to buy from Soulseller Records on CD/DD from December 4th 2015. The Double Gatefold Vinyl will be available to buy from January 2016.


Friday 23 October 2015

Interview with Paul Waller from OHHMS

OHHMS have became one of my fave UK Sludge/Doom/Stoner Bands from the UK Scene over the last 18 month or so. They've released two acclaimed EP's over the last 12 months with BLOOM and COLD.

OHHMS adventurous style of Sludge, Doom, Noise, Stoner, Post-Rock and anything else they throw into the ring make them an exciting band to check out. 2015 has been a fantastic year for them. Countless gigs and stunning reviews for their music given the band a much broader fan-base.

If you haven't discovered OHHMS yet now here's your chance as I recently caught up with Lead Singer – Paul – to see how things have been in the OHHMS camp and what the future holds for them. So lets get started....

It’s been an exciting time for OHHMS since we last spoke, a New EP, countless tours and gigs. How would you describe the last 18 months or so for you as a band?

I think we last spoke just before our first EP, ‘Bloom’ came out, then 8 months later, this June I think it was we put out our second EP, ‘Cold’. Both records have now pretty much sold out of their initial pressings, I know we have a few left and the label has been recalling back the final copies back from the distributors so they can sell some themselves.  

But that’s just statistics, on a personal note when we began all I wanted was to document one more recording with my friends before I packed in playing music and become a journalist properly. I had no idea how good those demo recordings would be and how incredible it would feel to be on stage as some of those riffs and solos flowed over me from those guitar and bass rigs. It’s been life changing. 

I’ve seen a handful of bands before where I get chills when they hit certain notes or passages and it’s always so intense a feeling I can’t quantify it. I get that all the time with OHHMS, in the practice room, on stage, listening back to our recordings and demos. It’s truly exciting for me day in day out. 

Plus, every week for the past few months now there has been a ton of admin to deal with for the band that has meant I can no longer write for the magazines and websites like I was. When we are not in the practice room, I spend my spare time managing OHHMS, liaising with the label, promoters, festivals, artists and other bands, all those things I used to dream of doing as a kid. 

It’s not like we are selling hundreds of copies of records a week or selling out venue after venue, word is spreading sure but it’s at a level in which we can deal with most of the stuff ourselves. Over the past year I’ve been doing the band accounts as well and we have just started to turn a profit, so we hired a decent PR for our future European endeavours and we bought a van too. We still don’t see any cash; we put it all back into the band. 

Saying that, our financial projections for next year’s European Tours see us running at a massive loss but we work shitty jobs just like everyone else to make these things happen.

What has been the highlight of the last 18 months for you so far?

My personal highlight if I had to choose just one would be ArcTanGent Festival, which we recently played in Bristol. I had an absolutely incredible time. 

A few weeks before we played we were informed that we had been bumped up the bill to the main stage from the 4th stage, I mean, no pressure or nothin’, it were mad. 

I wanted to play our first EP in full for the set and I remember our drummer wanting to change it at the last minute but I was having none of it. So we played ‘Bloom’ and when I was half way through the first verse of ‘Rise of the Herbivore’ I opened my eyes and looked up and the place was packed, so many people it was crazy. What’s more there were a group of them singing back the words in the front couple of rows and I was just so utterly impressed by this you wouldn’t believe it. 

The best part though was a few hours later we went to the office to collect our food tokens and I see the organizer James make a beeline for us. He’s holding something close to his chest with a massive smile on his face. As he approached I could see it was both our records in his arms. He asked us there and then to come back and play again. We just stood there like plums you know… “Er yeah, okay”

Sometimes I have to pinch myself Steve. Those moments are the ones that stick for life I reckon. What a guy eh? 

Now let’s talk about COLD. WOW. What an EP that is. One I rate more highly than your debut EP – Bloom. How has the record been received by fans and critics alike as COLD has a different sound to Bloom?

The EP has gone down well all over the UK and Europe with critics; I was pretty gutted when I got sent a review in an Australian magazine that was pretty negative and couldn’t tell us from Clutch and Orange Goblin, which was weird. I was gutted because I was born in Australia and was well impressed that the album had reached as far as my homeland.

There was another bad one in Power Play magazine that said we were derivative of the doom/stoner scene as a whole and I liked that one much better. I don’t agree at all and one could argue back of course that Power Play magazine itself is derivative of all rock/metal magazines as a whole but at least they had the balls to give something a slagging.

Magazines are so afraid to be honest in reviews these days; no one wants to rock the boat that might mean they receive a diminished advertising load from labels they have upset. I remember when Conan’s ‘Blood Eagle’ came out and Zero Tolerance gave the thing 0/10 and ripped them apart in 120 brutal words. Now for me that was the album of 2014. My very favourite, I didn’t care that the reviewer thought the band sucked. At least he was being honest in his thoughts plus it made me chuckle. Job done mate…

Does it bother you what people say in reviews then?

Yeah of course, I want everyone that likes heavy music to love OHHMS, but I know that can’t happen. We have released 65 minutes of music so far and with only 4 songs. We are not an easy sell and that’s our own fault but we just play what comes naturally in our practice space.  

We had an email recently from our PR that showed us tons and tons of reviews that ‘Cold’ has had from massive magazines to tiny blogs and only a couple received average scores. The negative ones are usually what you remember but it’s not enough to make me lose sleep that’s for sure.

COLD is more progressive, experimental and contemporary to Bloom. Was that the plan to release something different?

I guess you could say that although we had written ‘Dawn of The Swarm’ before the songs that were on ‘Bloom’. I just wasn’t fully happy with the vocal melodies at the time so we put ‘Bad Seeds’ on ‘Bloom’ instead. We went a bit too crazy in the studio with it I think too. To the point where we still haven’t played ‘Dawn…’ live yet as vocally the harmonies are really tricky when we can barely hear the vocals most of the time when we play live. 

But yes, OHHMS is a band determined to experiment with different sounds and textures and structures from the norm. Sometimes it works and sometimes it sucks. When an idea stinks we bin it and when one feels right we bed it in for what seems like months before we put it in a song. 

I’ll give you an example; listen to Max’s drumming on any song. Its nuts, what’s wrong with him? It shouldn’t work, what he’s doing… it’s jazzy, it’s not rigid yet it’s fluid and remarkably heavy. Every now and again it’s only a guitar or a vocal line that keeps an actual rhythm going. I don’t understand it myself and I don’t want to for fear it might ruin the joy I get from hearing it.

Seriously though I’m on holiday right now writing this and I’m genuinely excited about what the guys are going to come up with whilst I am away. It could be anything.

Did you guys do anything differently when recording COLD compared to BLOOM?

Nothing at all, when we completed 2 songs we took them to the studio to record them.

Your vocals are very different as well. I think you were influenced by artists from 70s Hard Rock especially on Dawn of the Swarm. What did you do different with your vocals when recording COLD?

Yeah, it’s fair to say that the vocals sound clearer and more powerful on this record than they did on ‘Bloom’. But all I did was watch couple of YouTube clips and learned how to control my voice a little better and how to warm it up properly. Also, for the first record I was still not quite ready to leave the hardcore, gruff style that I was used to completely, but it’s not like they are guttural Cattle Decapitation style or anything, the diction was still clear.

What I was most proud of was those harmonies on ‘Dawn of the Swarm’ though. We tried out a couple during the ‘Bloom’ sessions as well of course but nothing as intricate as we laid down on ‘Cold’. It was so much fun but holy shit I hope those out-takes got deleted. 

It took a lot of practice… let’s put it that way.

You’ve been involved with a few tours and gigs in 2015. And you’ve been winning a lot of praise for your live performances. What have been your fave gigs so far this year? Obviously touring with Slabdragger must have been great fun?

The tour with Slabdragger was killer. Of course it was, I knew it would be, so much so that we are doing another 3 dates with them at the end of February 2016 to be able to go to the towns we missed the first time round. The highlight for me would have to be the final date, a sold out London show at the Black Heart. I don’t know if you know the venue but it gets really hot when the room gets half full. For a sold out show it’s just nuts. The first few rows of the crowd that I could see just looked crazed, delirious in the heat. We played for what, maybe 25 minutes and I probably lost half a stone. I could barely move at the end of it. Plus I broke my toe. I have no idea how that happened but I know I’d do it all again.

Over the past 18 months we have made a point of playing every town up and down the UK that we can. If there is a venue and someone wanted to promote us then we would play it. Sometimes we got paid and sometimes we didn’t but you know I think that it’s essential that if you are starting out you do what we did. 

Since we started we have played to rooms which contained 9 paying customers in them and rooms with over 1500 punters in them as well. Our first show was in in April 2014 and now 78 shows later it’s nuts to see that come the 5th of December we will have almost 2 months free from playing live gigs. We finally will have a break.

I’m busting to get some new songs written.

I’ve heard you’re recording your debut full length record soon and that it will have a different sound. When can we expect to hear that and is it going to be a different sound for OHHMS?

We begin recording at Christmas and will be continuing to record throughout 2016. We should be able to do it in 4 different sessions of 4 or 5 days each. It's going to be a massive project and we can’t wait to get started.

Holy Roar have let us know we can do exactly what we need to do artwork wise and also I can let you know it'll be a double LP which some might think will be a risk for a debut album with people having limited attention spans these days for such vast records but we have all this music in us and it's all good. No filler, I'm not kiddin'. I would say that though wouldn’t I?

It’s a concept album of sorts but musically it shouldn’t be too much of a departure. Some of the songs will be under 10 minutes and there will be some instrumentation we haven’t used before but we are still going to be sticking to the musical pallet of those first 6 Black Sabbath albums. For me that's the safety net. Stick within those boundaries of instrumentation and you won’t go too far wrong. 

There’s also talk of you guys touring Europe more extensively over the next 12 months or so. You guys looking forward into travelling further afield? Any festival appearances you like to confirm?

Yeah, we noticed on our FB page that roughly 30-40% of our likes are from people that live in mainland Europe so we are doing a little 4 dayer over there at the end of October this year and then thanks to those amazing people at Dead Pig bookings we are going to be dedicating 2016 to Europe, playing just a handful of UK shows.

We have played so many English shows over the past 18 months in support of our 2 EPs that there are very few new towns for us to hit. Although, we have yet to step foot in Wales which is very disappointing. Sorry Wales.

As for festival appearances in 2016 I can tell you we have 4 booked so far and a few more on the cards. I remember when we were starting out and I would email these festival promoters and just get no reply... It was always disheartening and let’s face it to be expected when you are just starting out. These days the promoters are contacting us and all we do is turn up and play, eat and drink beer and leave. We're living the dream mate.

All we can confirm at the moment though is that we are playing Sound Bay Festival in Lisbon, Portugal in April. We get to play with Elder as well - a band that I love so I am really looking forward to it…

People have been saying that the UK Doom/Sludge/Stoner Scene has reached its peak and the only way from there is down. Do you agree with statement? If you do, how can the UK Doom/Sludge/Stoner scene improve?

It was on its way out before we formed. A year and a half later the UK is utterly saturated with sound-a-like bands and watered down bullshit. We get put on bills with so many shitty bands it’s unreal. But every now and again a shining light appears and they transcend the ‘scene’.

On personal note I tend to check out every single band I hear about, I am still obsessed with a good fat riff, I still want to bang my head and I still want to have heavy music wash over me on a daily basis. I am in no way jaded but there is so much crappy music out there it’s hard to pick out those gems when they come about. 

Saying all that I cannot think of one band in the UK underground scene has broken through, Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats are the closest to do so, Orange Goblin and Electric Wizard sell more records than even they but you wouldn’t count them as having broken big…

Until someone breaks through in a massive way I don’t think that the scene will die off, the doom and stoner scene has tended to flourish and then back off in waves since I got into Candlemass in the late 80s as a kid. I think about it a lot but I don’t have an answer. OHHMS have one foot in this scene for sure but I hope that people find a lot more in us than just the generic stoner sound. That would be horrible.

We have to talk about the gear that you use when performing live. What gear do you use when performing live? Is it an advanced setup or just a basic rig?

Um… as a singer all I can say that it’s loud and is constantly growing to the point where we can no longer fit on smaller stages. So many cabs and FX pedals and god knows what. It’s bloody stupid and bloody deafening. 

What tips can you give the budding musicians out there to get that distinctive sound?

All I would say is that if your music can’t hold your own interest then don’t inflict it onto the public. A sound, a look, a feel, whatever, if it burns like a fire inside you then just do it.

With 2015 drawing to a close. What have been your favourite albums you’ve listened to this year?

Wow, I haven’t thought in too much detail yet but I have loved records by Rolo Tomassi, Old Man Lizard, Death Grips, Gruesome, Tame Impala, Black Rainbows, Chelsea Wolfe, The Moth, Disasterpiece, Marriages and Rose Windows. There is probably a ton more….

Well, thanks for doing this interview. Before you go do you have any infinite words of wisdom for your fans out there?

Words of wisdom? OHHMS? You must be joking.

Words by Steve Howe and Paul Waller

Thanks to Paul for taking the time out to talking to me. I can't wait to hear the debut album when it's released in 2016.


Interview with SKIES BELOW

Skies Below impressed me in a big way with their blistering debut album – Aphelion. An emotionally involving Progressive Doom Metal opus that includes elements of Jazz, Prog Rock, Post-Metal and even Psychedelic Rock.

The band were very kind enough to let me premier one of the songs from the album before it's official release which I was extremely grateful for. If you haven't heard Aphelion, then do yourself a favour and headover to BandCamp and check it out.

Skies Below are highly thought of in their local Seattle Rock/Metal scene. They have even managed to get Tad Doyle to co-produce their album as well as mixing and engineering the album. So it sounds loud as hell.

I wanted to find more about Skies Below as they've literally came out of nowhere onto my radar. And Skies Below have kindly agreed to this interview.

Hi Skies Below. Thanks for doing this. And allowing me to premier Doorway_Descent_Dissolution on the blog. Meant a lot. How are things with you all today.

Liz - Fantastic! We've been playing local shows and focusing a lot on getting our music out to the public. It's great to be in a scene where there is support to continue doing what we enjoy.

How did the band come about. Can yo give a brief description on how you all met, how the band formed and where it is today.

Tim – Dan, our guitarist, found our Drummer Tim via craigslist. Something about Blue Oyster Cult. Liz and I have been friends for ages and we were connected with our Bassist Ryan through Andrew Chapman of Princess.

Dan - I started out jamming and writing with our former 2nd guitarist and cellist. After a while, I posted on craigslist looking for a drummer (yeah Tim, something about Blue Oyster Cult and Drive Like Jehu). Ryan and Liz were eventually brought on and we scaled down to a four-piece earlier this year.

Liz - I jumped in after Tim Ryan and Dan started jamming and were thinking of adding a vocalist. At the time there were 5 dudes in a stinky rehearsal space and I wasn't sure what to do with the music that was starting to take shape. I've been friends with Tim for many years and we both had worked in other bands so his wife Angie suggested that I try out. It was kinda like yeah OK let's see what happens. The songs just kept coming so we started practicing and sharpening up to play our first live shows. We started out in September 2012.

Ryan – It was the first time I’d ever “tried out” for a band. I was all set to pack up my stuff and let them talk about me when they asked me to join the club.

Your debut album – Aphelion – has just been released. You had the official release party recently. How did that go.

Dan - The release show was great. We had a great turnout, everyone was very supportive, and I think we all agree we played our best set as a band that night.

Liz - Party was a blast! Our friends and family who were here came out and celebrated our release. It happened to be my 40th birthday so that was quite a way to commemorate that. We had a major windstorm that knocked power out to many homes so it was relieving to see so many still willing to come out.

What can people expect from the album if they haven't read my review of course.

Dan - It's definitely a mixed bag, some heavy stuff, some atmospheric stuff, sometimes brooding, sometimes frenetically paced. Oh, and a little bit of disco. Hey, it worked for KISS.

Liz - Heavy mellow music stew. There are shades of Psychedelic, Progressive, Doom and Metal in our recipe.

Ryan – Musical magic. I always have a hard time with genre labels, so I have trouble explaining what our music sounds like. I have heard a lot of people use the term “doom” with our music lately, which is a little confusing to me, and seems like it might lead people to expect something darker than what we do. That’s not to say we are all sunshine. I don’t know what people think when they hear us for the first time.

Why did you choose Aphelion for the name of the album.

Tim – We’re all a bunch of nerds and the space theme was pretty natural for us.

Dan - We decided on an astronomy-themed title and made a list of potential titles. We settled on Aphelion because it sounded cool to us and I think we dug the metaphorical connotation. Aphelion is the point in the point in a celestial body's orbit when it is furthest from the sun.

Your music is very different to other Progressive Doom Metal bands. As you include Jazz, Prog Rock, Post-Metal and Psych. How would you describe your own music.

Tim – Hotdogs of rock. Take everything out there and mix it in a meat grinder.

Dan - The eclectic musical tastes thrown into a blender to make a delicious and nutritious smoothie.

Liz - I think what makes our sound so different is that we all have such varied taste in music. I grew up listening and singing Latin music so I apply that flavor into what I bring vocally. I also love rock music of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s and there is that element sprinkled in there as well. It's a wonderful mix and I'm real happy with it.

Ryan – I think it’s definitely a product of the different styles we all listen to and have played in other bands. I definitely like the slower, more melodic style, while Dan tends to have much more tension and quickness in what he plays. Tim is great and helping us blend things together, and Liz layers herself in with unexpected patterns and melodies.

I love the Latin based vibes especially on the beautifully written – La Loba. I suppose this is a question for Liz. What is this song about. I have a feeling it's quite a personal song. Was it a hard decision to include a song such as this on the album.

Liz - It was decided early on when we were in stages of writing that I would sing a Spanish song. My good friend Lissa was gracious enough to let us borrow her poem that was just the right amount of intensity for translation. This song is about a woman who is cold and destroyed basically so she does not want to feel or be attached to anyone. She is the stone goddess a heartless wanderer who is wanting nothing more than to bring ruin.

How did you manage to get Tad Doyle to work on the album.

Tim – Tad a super nice guy. I ran into him at another recording studio opening and mentioned the project. He was interested and the rest is history!

He's done a fantastic job on the record. Co-producing it with you guys, mixing and engineering the record. What was working with Tad like and did he provide any useful advice for you as a band.

Dan - Tad was great! He has been making and recording music for quite some time and obviously really knows what he's doing. He was excellent at striking a balance between offering suggestion and direction during recording and mixing and sitting back and letting us do our thing. That and both he and his wife, Peggy, were super hospitable.

10 – You're from Seattle which is mainly known for the Grunge scene. Though I know it has a more vibrant Hard Rock/Metal Scene other than grunge. What is the local music scene currently like in Seattle.

Tim – Seattle has a very healthy heavy scene and can be very supportive. I think we have seen a lot of growth in the Doom Metal genre, which is definitely where my tastes of gravitated to recently.

Ryan – Tons and tons of great bands. Some really great musicians live in Seattle, and we have gotten to play with a bunch of them.

Do you get to perform gigs in your home-town or do you have to travel further afield.

Tim – We stay local to the Puget Sound area, but are planning on touring over the next year.

The album cover for Aphelion is superb. Who designed the cover. And what does the cover mean to you as a band and for the album in general.

Tim – Our friends Jules Inkwell and Matt Jahn (Into The Storm) collaborated on the artwork. And the originals are 24x24 oil on canvas. We are all big sci-fi/fantasy nerds and almost all of our songs are about a book we like.

13 – What's the song-writing dynamic within the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.

Dan - Nowadays, either Ryan or I will come in with a riff/some riffs and a loose structure. As we go through the process of developing the drum parts, the songs take form. Then Ryan and/or I write lyrics and send them to Liz to chop up and form along with her vocal melodies.

Liz - It is group collective. Dan and Ryan do the bricklaying along with Tim. I come in with melody and chorus building. The guys also love science fiction so a lot of our songs have lyrics that are related to that.

What have been people's reaction to your music. Good or bad reactions.

Dan - For the most part, people are pretty receptive and into what we are doing. My dad said “it sounds like music”.

How do you deal with negative reactions to your music. Do you take suggestions or criticisms on board or do you focus on your own thing.

Tim – Constructive criticism is always welcome and I think hearing what people do not like helps me grow as a musician.

Dan - I personally love receiving criticism whether it is negative or positive. We definitely write music that is, first and foremost, stuff that we dig, but it is nice to hear the opinions of pairs ears outside of the four of us.

Liz - This is very much our own thing but I like to know if there is anything we can do to make it better. I think taking things to a four piece made the world of difference to our sound live. The studio is a different beast altogether. I appreciate honest feedback always.

Ryan – I think I always have an ear open to what other people might be hearing, but at the end of it, we are the ones writing the music, so we have to be happy with what we are doing. We have enough differences of opinion between the four of us that we don’t need to include a lot of other voices in our process. We aren’t after the “in” sound, we do what we like.

Which bands and artists inspired you to become musicians. Any particular albums that stand out.

Tim – I grew up in the Midwest listening to 60’s and 70’s rock (Zeppelin, anything Clapton or Joplin), some good metal (Pantera), and a lot of bad metal. Since I became more serious about playing music, my inspirations have come from a broad range of music. (Kylesa, Shellac, Fugazi, Dead Low Tide, Russian Circles, Death From Above 1979, Pink Floyd, Tool, Deftones, Helms Alee, Lesbian, Isis, Botch, Gaytheist, Lord Dying, DETHKLOK!, Whores).

Dan - Not that I am anywhere near his level, but Robert Fripp of King Crimson was one of the musicians in particular who inspired me to pick up the guitar. Heavy bands like ISIS and Melvins are definitely a big influence on how I play and write. Also, I really love the B-52s.

Liz - I had always been into music and singing from a very young age. My dad sang classic Latin ballads and folkloric music so that was my first influence to start learning how to vocalize. He taught me my scales and breathing. I love Janis Joplin and her album Pearl is one that influenced me to belt out with soul and heart.

Ryan – Well, when I was a kid, Def Leppard was number one for me. I almost hate to mention it at this point, but Undertow by Tool was the album that really shifted my perception of music. All of a sudden, I was listening to the dynamics of the music instead of just the vocals. I still spend a lot of time with Tool, as well as bands like Neurosis, Failure, Mastodon, Don Caballero, Electric Wizard, High on Fire, Kyuss, Sleep, Mogwai, Sons of Otis, Pink Floyd. Mostly stuff with a sense of drama to it.

Thanks for doing this interview. All the best with your new album. It's a superb record.

Thanks Steve!

Words by Steve Howe and Skies Below

Thanks to Skies Below for doing this interview. Aphelion is now available to buy now.


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