Wednesday 31 May 2017

News: Details on UK Documentary - THE DOOM DOC

The Doom Doc is a captivating, visceral look into the world of doom, a super slow subgenre of heavy metal. Sheffield filmmaker, Connor Matheson follows the story of Holy Spider, a group of doom gig promoters in Sheffield, and speaks to Black Sabbath's Bill Ward, Crowbar's Kirk Windstein, Conan, Primitive Man and Slabdragger, as well as up-and-coming UK bands such as Kurokuma and Under. The film also features plenty of immersive footage from live shows in bars and basements, and explores issues such as drug use, mental health and gentrification through the lens of heavy music. 

Made on a budget of £2000, this is the first documentary ever on UK doom, sludge and stoner, a scene that traces its roots all the way back to Black Sabbath's debut in 1970 but is currently thriving like never before.

We recently announced the premiere of The Doom Doc: 8pm on Sunday 9th July at the Showroom Cinema, Sheffield (certificate 18). There will be a Q&A session afterwards featuring Connor Matheson (director/producer), Joe Allen (Holy Spider/Kurokuma) and Rob Graham (Drenge, ex-Wet Nuns). 

Tickets (£8.80 or £6.60 for concessions) can be bought at: Facebook event page:

We've also just released a brand new trailer!

Here's a full list of contributors:

Black Sabbath – Bill Ward, Vinny Appice
Crowbar/Down – Kirk Windstein
Conan – Jon Davis, Chris Fielding
Primitive Man – Ethan McCarthy, Joe Linden, Jonathan Campos
Slabdragger – Yusuf Tary, Jack Newnham, Sam Thredder
Kurokuma – Joe Allen, George Ionita
Wet Nuns – Rob Graham
Under – Simon Mayo, Matt Franklin, Andy Preece
Lunar Maria – Corin Bruce
Holy Spider Promotions – Joe Allen, Craig Bagshaw, Terry Larkin
Terrorizer magazine – Kez Whelan
The Lughole (venue) – Avi De
Tye Die Tapes (venue) – Adam Zejma

OPERATORS - Revelers (Album Review)

Release date: May 24th 2017. Label: Fuzzmatazz Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Revelers – Tracklisting

1.Leveled Reveler 07:49
2.Pusher 03:04
3.Messina 07:15
4.Walkin' on Air 03:50
5.Fuzz Muncher 04:42
6.Rolling Hitch 10:03

Band Members:

Eggat - Vocals
Dirk - Guitar & Vocals
Konni - Organ
Dän - Bass
Säsh - Drums & Vocals


I believe this is Operators third album. I'm fairly new to their robust Stoner Rock sound and their new album Revelers - acts a great introduction for beginners such as myself. Operators have quite a boisterous and playful angry side with their music that they fuse with psychedelic blues riffs.

Opening track - Leveled Reveler - opens with a two minute instrumental piece that shows what Operators are made of. Fast-paced blues driven psych stoner rock before the vocals finally appear.Some very cool organs appear and it allows Operators to play a very different kind of Stoner Rock sound. Trippy funk based psychedelics appear towards the song. 

The vocals from Eggat feel influenced by Anthony Kiedes of RHCP fame. It's a strong opening track and one that makes you feel at ease with the crazy music being played around you. These guys are highly thought of within the Stoner Rock world and from this song it's not hard to see why.

Second track - Pusher - is a thrashier punk kind of sound. A slight change in musical direction with sixties psychedelic sounding organs merged with the more modern thrash/punk stoner sound. I don't know why but I can hear elements of classic heavy metal sounds but given a psychedelic blues rock makeover when the heavier moments appear. Maybe I'm crazy, just the feeling I experience when listening to this album.

Third track - Messina - is a calmer affair with slowly played moments of psychedelic blues based rock. The organs add a gloomier atmosphere with subtle vocals from lead singer Eggat. The song does feel emotionally distant at times but that's probably down to the slow-paced riffs that appear on the first half of the track. The second half of the song is a very different story as Operators go slightly demonic with the heavier and doomier riffs that appear. The song does move into more prog rock territory especially with the vocals and lyrics of the song.

The final three songs - Walkin' On Air, Fuzz Muncher and Rolling Hitch all carry on the experimental vibe of the opening tracks. Crazy Stoner Rock sounds merged with a blues/hard rock vibe with great lyrics to match especially on Walkin' On Air.

The final track - Rolling Hitch - lasts for around ten minutes and it did start to test my patience at times. It's not a bad song, it's a great song overall. It's that the band changes the mood far too many times and it can be quite exhausting to keep up with. Though I do admire their talent and drive for writing a song such as Rolling Hitch. Overall, Revelers is a hugely enjoyable album with many exciting moments that will keep the most jaded Stoner Rock fan entertained from start to finish.

Is this an album I will be listening to all the time? Possibly not but I will return to the crazy world of Operators from time to time. Mainly to be entertained and be thrilled by some of their wacky and strange ideas held on the album.

Words by Steve Howe


BARRABUS - S/T (Album Review)

Release date: June 09th 2017. Label: Undergroove Records. Format: CD/DD

Barrabus – S/T – Tracklisting

My Nightmare As A Reality TV Contestant
The Trials Of Joseph Merrick
Master Of Disguise
Behind Closed Doors
In League With Vader
This Is The End

Band Members:

Paul Catten (Vox / Electronics / Theremin)
Mark Seddon (Vox / Guitars / Noise)
Matt Keen (Vox / Bass )
Adam Evans (Vox / Drums)


I can't lie to you. I'm a HUGE fan of pretty much anything Paul Catten is involved in. I all but stalked Murder One back in the day, and The Sontaran Experiment is another favourite of mine. That said I missed out on Barrabus the first time round for whatever reason so I was more than a little pleased when this turned up for me to review.

There were some little teaser videos doing the rounds about a month ago featuring no more than 30 seconds of music (which turns out to be roughly half of my favourite song on the record) which nicely whetted my appetite for more...

Opening track "My Nightmare As A Reality TV Contestant" starts of with a nice percussive riff with vocals that sound like they're going through a megaphone, before the song fully bursts into life just past the minute mark. It effortlessly lurches from one frenetic section to the next before it's closing and repeated vocal refrain "This show will be the death of me..."

Next up we get the 1.19 "The Trails Of Joseph Merrick" the song from the teaser video. I'll be honest when I first saw the video I was hooked. Again it switches through styles and aggression levels as it violently propels itself towards its conclusion. Special mention for the fucking feral vocals at the 0.29 second mark. Every time I hear it I immediately want to lose my shit to it.

In a genre (though I'm not sure this is technically a "sludge" record) were there are few very distinctive vocalists surely Paul Catten has to be amongst the greats. Morrow and Mike IX essentially...

The rest of the record thematically follows suit. Songs come and go never outstaying their welcome, moving through tempo, style and ferocity as the mood takes them. All in all this great self titled record is a fantastic release, chock full of excellent musicianship, a great production and a refreshing approach to songwriting as there are no generic formula's followed here.

A must have record.

Words by Simon Ross Williams

Thanks to Simon at I Like Press for the promo. Barrabus – S/T will be available to buy on CD/DD via Undergroove Records from June 9th 2017.


Saturday 27 May 2017

Wax Ruins - HEAVYGAZER (Album Review)

Release date: May 20th 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

HEAVYGAZER – Tracklisting

Exploits Of Man
Praise a Name
Temple Smoke
Clarity and Inclusions
(Sparks) Into Mountains
Strange Sorcery


Brian E. Smith
Blake McWhorter
Mark Baker


Wax Ruins is a band from Texas, USA that specializes in a different kind of Doom Metal sound. The band takes influence from bands diverse such as Ride, Tool, Torche and Yob. Their debut album - HEAVYGAZER - is a complex and progressive sounding album that pushes the boundaries between Indie Rock style anthems with a heavy Sludge/Doom Metal outlook. Distorted and full of psychedelic experimental riffs that allow the band to create something you don't hear every day.

Opening track - Exploits Of Man - is an almost twelve minute epic that opens with indie/shoegaze rock theatrics before heavy moments of Sludge/Stoner riffs appear with trippy vocals leading the way. The band adds a YOB style gloomy atmosphere to their music. The song never becomes bogged down by the different ideas and sounds that Wax Ruins have at their disposal. Moments of drone rock appear and it allows the music to flow more naturally.

Second track - Praise A Name - opens with a long drawn out psychedelic drone sound merged with sludgy/stoner based guitars. The song slowly builds up an exciting rhythm before a Torche style atmosphere appears. The drumming is calm and precise before the song moves into firmer Sludge/Stoner Rock territory. This song is perhaps the more Sludge/Stoner rock sounding song on the album. Wax Ruins may play it too safe on this track but it's still an excellent track that showcases their song-writing talents to great effect.

The next two tracks - 'Temple Smoke' and 'Clarity and Inclusions' - both see Wax Ruins tease the audience again with the change of direction in their sound as the album moves from different genres again. You're treated to moments of psychedelic rock, sludge, doom and stoner riffs with the band showing a great talent for sonic experimentation. The vocals and lyrics have a bleak outlook to them and may prove off-putting for some listeners.

HEAVYGAZER isn't an album for everyone. It's a challenging album to listen to but if you put the time in then you will richly be rewarded with a complex sounding album.

The fifth track - (Sparks) Into Mountains - is without question the standout track on the album. Sixteen minutes of pure doom/sludge/psych/prog rock experimentation where the band throws everything at you. It's quite an uplifting track despite the bleak moments that appear on the song. There is a definite YOB influence on this song with the band managing to create their own sound.

The final two tracks - Return and Strange Sorcery - offer two final rounds of trippy psychedelic stoner/doom based moments with elements of Post-Rock making more of an appearance. Though after hearing this album multiple times over the last few days I'm beginning to hear the Post-Rock vibe a lot more. A sign at how talented these guys are in creating weird and wonderful sounding heavy music. The production on HEAVYGAZER is incredible as the album is loud and intense from the start.

The album artwork is striking and matches the mood perfectly that the album conveys. If you're in the mood for a different sounding Doom/Stoner Metal album then HEAVYGAZER is the album for you. It's perhaps the best debut album I've heard this year and that's saying something. HEAVYGAZER is a brilliantly complex and uplifting album.

Words by Steve Howe


Dö - Astral:Death/Birth (EP Review)

Release date: May 26th 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD

Astral: Death/Birth – Tracklisting

1.Astral Death 07:46
2.Astral Birth 12:16


Big Dog (guitar)
Joe E. Deliverance (drums & vox)
Deaf Hank (bass & lead vox)


Firstly I have to apologize to Dö for not reviewing their excellent debut album – Tuho – which was released last year. Sometimes I miss albums when they're originally released and that was one of those times. I'm not making the same mistake with Dö superb new EP – Astral: Death/Birth. A twenty minute two song EP which is packed with delicious dark stoner/sludge/doom riffs.

With these guys being from Finland, you can expect heavy riffs from the start. Opening track – Astral Death – is an ugly sounding track at times with Deaf Hank's vocals providing a nightmarish feel. Dö's sound has a slight punk based vibe and the sound can be very raw at times but it allows the band to merge different sounds for quite an unsettling feel. Deaf Hank's vocals veer from clean based growls to almost death/harsh vocals.

Second track – Astral Birth – is a more upbeat track with the band returning to their earlier spaced out sounds. A different contrast to the opening track and this is perhaps the standout track on the EP. Dö play slow-paced riffs with moments of ambient noises interacting with the Doom/Stoner riffs being played in the background. Dö feel they were influenced by BONG at times as this track has an Ambient Doom feel to it. Though the band return to the EP's heavier sludge/doom metal roots as the once upbeat vibe is obliterated to kingdom come with pissed off vocals and riffs.

Truth be told I wanted the band to keep on playing their more psychedelic stoner based sound as it was a cool contrast to the opening track. The EP leaves you slightly depressed and wanting more at the same time. Astral: Death/Birth is another winning release from Dö and long-time fans of the band will find much to enjoy here.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Smoke Mountain - S/T (EP Review)

Release date: May 01st 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD

Smoke Mountain – S/T – Tracklisting

1.Demon 04:36
2.Violent Night 05:22
3.Smoke Mountain 06:24


Brian Pitt - Drums
Lee Pitt - Guitar
Sarah Pitt - Vocals


Florida Doom/Stoner Rockers – Smoke Mountain – arrive with a highly confident debut EP. The EP flows naturally with Doom orientated Stoner riffs with Sarah's vocals added a more earthly feel. Sure you've heard this style of Doom/Stoner Metal a hundred times before but that doesn't stop it being a highly energetic slice of Doom/Stoner Metal.

Opening track – Demon – has a cool Blues Rock/Fuzz based feel even if on the slightly demonic side. Sarah proves she's not meant to be messed around with judging by the spiky and tongue in cheek lyrics fused into the song. You can hear shades of classic Black Sabbath guitar riffs lurking in the background and it's good to hear Smoke Mountain opting for a more classic Doom Metal sound.

Second track – Violent Night – carries on the demented and violent Doom Metal sound with delicious strands of violent fuzz making their appearance known. Smoke Mountain excel in creating nightmarish classic sounds. Sarah once again excels singing dark tales of despair and madness with a hypnotic addictive edge. The instrumental work is good for the most part with Brian and Lee making their presence known with heavy riffs from the start.

Third track – Smoke Mountain – is the standout song on the album where the band showing their most ruthless and creative streak. The song has a more distorted and lo-fi sound but it works in the bands favour as they slowly build up the tension by creating a classic doom and gloom atmosphere. Sarah's vocals are spooky and demented yet again with the harsh lyrics that will leave you looking over your shoulder.

Smoke Mountain's debut EP is a thrilling encounter of modern Doom/Stoner Metal that pays tribute to the classic bands that came before them. I hope Smoke Mountain have a more longer EP or full length album in the works as I definitely want to hear more.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe


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Thursday 25 May 2017

Record Label To Check Out - Wicked Lester Records

Wicked Lester Records is run by Graham Bywater from Possessor. So far they have released the awesome EP by Mesmer and are currently working on future releases which will be announced very soon.

Mesmer EP

Keep an eye on Wicked Lester Records as they will be releasing more great albums in the near future.


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Kong Lives - KONG SAVES (EP Review)

Release date: May 2nd 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Kong Saves – Tracklisting

1.Dimitri 07:42
2.Death, And Other Privilege 04:49
3.McMaggot 06:01
4.Thoughts Of Future Past (feat. Sam 'Slam' Wall) 09:25


Dai - Guitar/Vocals
Dibble - Bass/Vocals
Kane - Guitar/Vocals
Luke - Drums/Vocals


Kong Lives is a Stoner/Doom/Post-Metal band from Newport, UK. According to their band line-up, each member provides vocals on their new EP – Kong Saves. It's a heavy affair with the band showing a distinct taste of filth-ridden grooves and riffs. I don't know who is the actual lead vocalist but whoever it is they do a great job on the opening track – Dimitri.

Dimitri blends post-metal/hardcore sounds with a murky Doom/Stoner Metal vibe. The whole mood is filtered with heavy psychedelic noises as Kong Lives play to their strengths. The production is handled surprisingly well for their debut release. It has a DIY feel at times but the whole album sounds good from start to finish. Kong Lives will surprise a lot of people with their debut release. As the band switches gears and start playing a more direct progressive rock sound. Clean vocals appear for a brief moment before the band return to the earlier hardcore based growls.

Second track – Death, And Other Privilege – opts for a more Sludge Rock sound with hints of NOLA style riffage. It's not as polished as the opening track but it has a high amount of cool riffs. The vocals remain with the early hardcore growls with moments of clean angry pissed off vocals. The music is the main highlight here as Kong Lives inject a fresh and manic sound at times.

Third track – McMaggot – is the more Stoner Rock/Metal orientated song on this EP and it's good to hear Kong Lives open the song with a slow-paced riff. You are still treated to moments of heavy filthy doom but the overall mood remains within the bleak Stoner Metal world.

The final track - Thoughts Of Future Past – is perhaps the strongest track on the EP as the band take influence from Ufomammut at times. Heavy spaced out sounds merged with the killer vocals from Sam 'Slam' Wall from Judas Cradle. Psychedelic Doom noises interact with post-metallic vibes that leave you wanting more.

Kong Saves is a stunning debut EP from a band who have huge potential. They're not the finished article yet but these guys are definitely worth keeping an eye on. I'm intrigued to see what these guys can do when let loose in a professional recording studio and perhaps when they've released a full length album. Time will tell......

Words by Steve Howe


Monday 22 May 2017

VOKONIS - The Sunken Djinn (Album Review)

Release date: June 09th 2017. Label: Ripple Music. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

The Sunken Djinn – Tracklisting

The Sunken Djinn
Calling From The Core
The Coldest Night
Blood Vortex
Architect Of Despair


Guitar & Vocals - Simon
Drums - Emil
Bass - Jonte


You can never keep a good band away and that is especially true for Swedish Doomsters - Vokonis - who are about to release their new second full length album on Ripple Music. The Sunken Djinn. Coming almost fifteen months after their celebrated debut album - Olde One Ascending. The Sunken Djinn is a better-rounded and doomier affair with the previous albums Stoner sounds giving way to a more psychedelic and sludgier groove. You can still hear that addictive Vokonis groove first heard on their debut album. The album has a more intense heavy metal feel with Vokonis taking influence from classic eighties sounding heavy metal artists at times.

Opening track - The Sunken Djinn - has recently been released as seven inch single which sold out in double quick time. Vokonis have a slight nautical feel to their music on this song with the music being merged with a deep nautical influence. The lyrics and vocals are superbly put together and they have a cool understated feel to them. Though it's the riffs and Simon's near pitch perfect vocals add a real sense of importance and urgency to the overall flow of the album.

The opening track sets the scene for the remainder of the album to follow with songs such as Calling From The Core, The Coldest Night, Blood Vortex and Architect Of Despair. The songs run between the four minute to six minute mark and this allows Vokonis to explore and experiment more with their more progressive sounds. Especially with the albums psychedelic sounds as it adds a more world weary feel to the album.

The production is handled superbly well and that is what you expect from a Ripple Records release. When have those guys ever released a bad sounding record. I can't think of any. The Sunken Djinn is a doom metal album in every sense of the term and this is an album that will no doubt send Vokonis onto greater things. Vokonis take influence from their musical heroes and you can hear familiar sounds but Vokonis still manage to create their own sound.

The band becomes permanent doom dwellers with the music nightmarish in scope. Sue the last song - Maelstrom - embraces a less enjoyable dronish aspect but that doesn't stop Vokonis becoming one of the best upcoming bands within the Doom Metal world. High praise. Maybe, but Vokonis have delivered the goods with this album. Fans of Black Sabbath, High On Fire and Mastodon will find much to admire and riff-worship here.

Vokonis have delivered not only of the year's best Doom Metal album but perhaps one of the best albums of the year.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Richard at Sheltered Life PR and Vokonis for the promo. The Sunken Djinn will be available to buy via Ripple Music from June 09th 2017 on CD/DD/Vinyl.


The Ditch And The Delta - Hives In Decline (Album Review)

Release date: May 12th 2017. Label: Battleground Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Hives In Decline – Tracklisting

1.Hives In Decline 06:55
2.Fuck On Asphalt 05:57
3.Sleeping Dogs 04:41
4.Dry Land 02:01
5.Till Body Quits 04:44
6.Mud 04:57
7.Dread Spectacle 05:36


Elliot Secrist-Guitars, samples, vocals
Charles Bogus-Drums
Kory Quist-Bass, vocals


The Ditch And The Delta are a band I hadn't heard of before. They've been compared to a wave of different legendary artists within the Sludge Metal field. Though I feel on their new album - Hives In Decline - the band creates their own unique sound. Parts Noise Rock, Sludge, Doom and Post-Metallic sounds. Hives In Decline is built upon math-rock like progression and that allows the band to create heavy melodic sludgier moments with fantastic punk/metal vocals.

Opening track - Hives In Decline - is a confident and self-assured slice of pure punk/noise-rock driven sound. The song has moments of psychedelic sludge/doom based grooves that remind me of Kowloon Walled City in parts that are merged with the post-theatrical sounds of Neurosis. The album has a gloomy and despairing outlook on life and it all starts with this great song.

Second track – Fuck On Asphalt - sees the band opt for a more Sludge Rock driven sound. It's a more grown-up sound compared to the opening track and the thumping bass lines add an unsettling feel with The Ditch And The Delta delivering a more post-punk sound especially with the vocals. The album may sound and feel under-produced at first, though with a few more listens of the album, you soon start to become more aware of the murky atmosphere the band have created on the album. The different genres and sounds held within the album have hidden meaning that you may miss the first time you listen to the album.

The album then returns to a more traditional Sludge Metal sound with songs such as: Sleeping Dogs, Dry Land and Till Body Quits - carrying on the expert sludge/doom delivery of the opening two tracks. Hives In Decline ranks as an uncompromising blend or pure rock/metal aggression and this band has a lot to say.

It's a shame the album only lasts for thirty five minutes or so. As the album suddenly ends. I wanted a couple of more songs from The Ditch And The Delta. Maybe I'm being slightly greedy there. The Ditch And The Delta aren't afraid to experiment with their sound and matching their noise/sludge hybrid sound with moments of Americana which you can hear on the excellent song - Dry Land.

This album is already starting to win plaudits within the Doom/Sludge Metal world and it's not hard to see why. The Ditch And The Delta have delivered a hard-hitting and uncompromising album that packs an almighty punch.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Earsplit PR for the promo. Hives In Decline is available to buy now via Battleground Records on CD/DD/Vinyl.


Sunday 21 May 2017

A Review of ARGONAUTA FEST 3 by Bruno Bellisario

When, a few days ago, I proposed to Steve this article/report, I regretted it immediately, thinking that maybe it was not the case and could be too self-referential. Then, I thought about it better, cold in mind, and I was told, probably, it is only the point of view of one who, at 40, is taking some small satisfactions away, such as playing in a band, making records, going around concerts, touring.

From my point of view, I can only appreciate the effort that hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the world make every day to allow as many as a hundred bands (including Dustrider, of course) to emerge from the limbo where they are confined. Of course, I am aware of the dynamics that often hide behind this, but this is not the place to talk about.

Big or small they are, festivals are, without doubt, one of the most important moments of aggregation, where people are assembled by a single major common denominator, music. Desertfest, Hellfest, Roadburn, Wacken are just some of the biggest European festivals where any band in the world would like to participate and where, most likely, they will never take part. But it does not matter. Each country has an innumerable number of small realities where one can express its creativity.

Names such as Argonauta Fest, Heavy Psych Sounds Fest, Pietrasonica, Sweet Leaf Festival, SoloMacello Fest, Burning Ruins, are just some of the most important festivals in Italy that can move the underground world we all need. On Saturday, May 12th I was, in the double role of spectator and musician, at the Argonautafest. What to say. There was an experience I would call it necessary.

Necessary because it allowed us to play with so many great bands with which we might never have played. Necessary because it allowed us to give a face and a voice to all those people who, until then, were just pixels on the screen. Necessary because allowed to touch with a hand a reality made of hopes, passion, blows, professionalism and friendship.

Foto di Giovanni Salinardi

The management of the event, from the audience point of view, was simply perfect. The comfortable venue (Officine Sonore, Vercelli) have been the perfect location to hold the event, with a perfect acoustics, being a non-dispersive place that can accommodate the right number of people. On this occasion, Argonauta has given way to some of its roster bands to present themselves in the best way, thanks to 40 minutes of live set that brought on 8 bands featuring completely different sounds, from stoner to heavy psych, through sludge and post metal.

Having to play around midnight, I've had the opportunity to enjoy the first bands that, despite the ‘tea time’, have been spent as if they were playing as head-liners at the main stage of the HELLFEST.

NO GOOD ADVICE was called to a hard test, having to open in the afternoon with a still small audience who, in any case, participated with transport to their show. Heroic. The NAAT, coming upstage later on, literally bent the air with a fresh and original sludge/psych as it had just felt. THE BUCKLE were, for me, a real surprise. A duo (guitar and drum) with its roots in a sound that closely remind QOTSA and EODM. The sound went slowly to darker and heavier territories, passing through the post-metal of OTUS and the percussive and violent sludge of NUDIST, until the post elaborations of VAREGO.

One of the most beautiful aspects (at least for me) of these festivals is the opportunity to listen to groups that I might have had difficulty listening, simply because I did not know them. It was the case of the head-liners EYES FRONT NORTH, a Parisian sludge metal/post-hardcore quartet that literally amazed me for their music made of so much psychedelia. We played in the middle and from the point of view of the band, the organization was perfect. No difficulties, quality back-lines, line-check that sounded more like a sound check for how beautiful the sound came out, thanks also to the great sound engineer. 

About our performance I do not pronounce, of course. We had a lot of fun and I saw the audience as well. Audiences and bands have shared hours of pure fun, thanks to the high quality of musicians that hit the stage. The overall feeling of the whole day was more than pleasant, in an atmosphere that, for both the audience and the bands, went beyond the mere participation. It was a true family celebration.

Let me make a special applause to the Argonauta Records. It is not for flattery. It's not because our label. It's not because Gero is a friend. It is not for any of these reasons. It is for the people, whoever they are, Argonauta or not, that blow continuously, day after day, to pull out something good from that rot that has become the Italian music scene. Making music becomes more and more difficult, day after day, due to an unwelcome general disinterest combined with a lack of space that inevitably leads to a general sense of overcrowding.

Of course, nothing is perfect, but there are people out there who invest their lives for something they really like to do, which fortunately allows them to live, but that keeps alive those creativity that we often need.

Fortunately, small realities save us. Long life the underground.

Words by Bruno Bellisario

Argonauta Records Links:

Dustrider Links:

Sunday 14 May 2017

An Interview with Sam Hart from ELEPHANT TREE

The story of Elephant Tree (UK) started in around 2013, when four young gentlemen from London made up their minds to create a stoner doom band. Jack Townley took the responsibility for guitars and vocals, Sam Hart took percussion, Riley MacIntyre discovered his talent in singing and playing sitar, and Peter Holland took the role of bass player and vocalist (as he was already doing the same in another band: Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight).

Their version of doom stoner is dark, deep and natural in wide sense. Slow flow of spleen takes you off and plunge in aphotic world of strange trees and thick riffs. Elephant Tree released their sophomore album April 2016, so I’ve decided to ask them if new material is already in progress. Sam replied to my request, and the result of our conversation is right before you now.

Hello Sam! How are you? What’s going on in the shadows of Elephant Tree?

Hi Aleks! I’m good thanks, as are the rest of the guys. We’ve just been in the studio again recently preparing some final touches to our track for the Planet Of Doom film. Can’t wait to get it sent over and see the finished thing!

Planet of Doom? I heard something about few months ago… It’s some DIY fantastic movie about doom music?

Yeah, that’s right. The guy running it is David Paul Seymour, who some people will immediately recognize as the creator of some of the best album covers in the scene. It’s going to be this awesome collective of artists and bands telling a story through music and artwork. You can hit up more details over here .

Well, I didn’t prepare and don’t know how you did figure out the band’s name. So can you enlighten me – what did you put in the image of Elephant Tree?

It’s actually a bit of an anticlimactic story really. We were trying to figure out a good band name that hadn’t already been used and didn’t sound too cheesy, so we decided to try looking at book titles. I just googled ‘fucked up books’ and there it was on the list at number 53 or something. The Elephant Tree by R. D. Ronald. We didn’t even look what it was about before deciding to stick with it. I think I’m the only one in the band who’s read it. It’s not too bad actually…

Your debut record “Theia” was released in 2014, and even for the first record you chosen James Plotkin to do mastering of your material. Was it a part of your plan? How did you see Elephant Tree’s right sound back then?

When we first decided to record we had no money, had only played a few gigs, and were working on the songs still. We decided that the sound we wanted to go for was a raw ‘rough and ready’ kind of sound. Basically to reflect that we were fairly new and also because we were all broke! We ended up getting into Sam Thredder’s (Slabdragger) studio. It’s this cool tiny set up he has in his attic that we barely all fitted into at the same time. Sam’s great at working with new bands and had us re-working and tweaking the tracks as we went along. I think as a band we learnt a lot over that weekend about how we wanted to progress and build for the next album. Sam suggested we ask James to master the album and put us in contact. He just seems to have the talent to make anything sound crushingly heavy.

Was it expensive to record the first album?

Theia wasn’t expensive at all really. Sam understands the struggle of new bands trying to get recorded so sorted us out with a really good offer. To be honest though, it wasn’t really about the money at that point, more about getting someone who would understand the genre.

Elephant Tree - Attack of the Altaica

I guess that it was good for the band that you found Magnetic Eye Records pretty soon and they released the album both as CD and vinyl. Consider promotion side… does it change situation that you’re based in UK and the label is from USA?

It does get difficult sometimes. I think the hardest thing is us being able to show the guys what we’re working on and work on ideas for promotions, because of the time difference and not being able to be there in person. The distance and time gap also means it takes a while to get replies and organize things, but they do get sorted in the end.

The sophomore album shows natural development of the band though core components of the debut album are on their places. How would you determine direction in which the band moved from “Theia” to “Elephant Tree”?

We had more time together as people. After a while you get to really know your band mates and the things that make them tick while playing live or recording. Also going on tour helps you develop. Just spending time and listening to each other’s favorite tracks helps understand what elements each of you want to bring into our own music. I know my drumming skills developed a lot and Jack and Pete both honed their tones and styles into something that just felt comfortable and right.

Riley was the one who made bigger suggestions of change. He really stepped back from the writing and live performances to focus on his career working at The Church Studios so the rest of us had to re-group and come up with a set of new material that didn’t rely heavily on Riley’s live involvement. Then we took it into the studio and he either loved it or told us that it needed to change. It helps having someone who isn’t married to the ideas you come up with when a riff gets played for the very first time. It also helps if that person is certified ‘exceptional talent’ as well…

Speaking about you “had more time together” – do you mean drinking and smoking? Some of your songs have thick psychedelic vibe; so do substances help sometimes?

I mean just generally hanging out. I don’t know where this whole ‘oh yeah we’re really cool because we always hang out and smoke weed all the time’ image comes from. I think it’s more closely associated with the states where it’s generally a bit more accepted. We just go get trashed in Wetherspoons.

(NOTE – Wetherspoons is a UK chain of Pubs and Bars around the UK)
Your material is balanced combination of different sonic experiments: doom elements, a bit of psychedelic and post influences. How did you invent this blend?

It really came out of each of us liking a wide variety of music. We all listen to a lot of different genres, for instance, Jack listens to a lot of folk music and Gary Newman, which means one day he might come in and say ‘It’d be cool to do a weird thing with sung choral harmonies over a distorted synth’. Then we work on making that work with whatever me and Pete have brought in before taking it to Riley and asking him to make it happen in the studio.

Was this formula calculated? How did you get that this sort of vocals work well with such music? And sitar, how did you decided to leave it amongst your tools?

It’s not calculated at all. We just try make things interesting. There are a lot of good Doom/Stoner/whatever metal bands out there now, and they all do what they do very well, but we just decided that we’d rather be a bit different and make something we found interesting. The sitar came about because Riley brought it with him to his first band practice and we all felt bad about telling him to take it home again. It looked quite heavy.

Another feature of Elephant Tree is deep melancholic mood, some sort of spleen, what kind of emotions do you tend to put in your songs?

We try to mix it up a bit. It’s quite difficult sometimes to not come across as a miserable bastard, as the genre tends to lend its self towards the gloomy side of life. I guess that’s why they call it Doom and not Rainbow metal…

You have a pair of good poetic finding on the second album, what can you tell about songs like “Aphotic Blues” and “Surma”?

As with most of our songs, the musical content comes first and then we play around with a theme that we think would fit the mood of the music. Playing around with melody ideas for a while usually brings some lyrical ideas and then we run with that. I don’t like to give too much away about the themes of our songs really as it’s better if everyone has their own interpretations, some interesting and some hilarious.

The second Elephant Tree’s album was released almost one year ago, can you already tell something about new material?

We are in the stage of writing new tracks at the moment and aren’t far off having a few finished musically already. Its never healthy to set a stern time limit on things as we want to work on stuff until we feel we’ve done the best we can with it, but we have set a goal of having a new release recorded before the year is out.

How do you see band's prospects consider further sonic development? Do you have an ultimate goal?

There is no plan or ultimate goal really, just to keep experimenting. We all have different ideas but at the same time we aren’t afraid to tell someone the noise they are making is shit.

Is it necessary to experiment further? I’m meaning that the second album is just really damn good one, I wonder that else could be added to such stuff…

We are looking at always changing what we do to keep it fresh for the fans and us. Playing the same style of stuff over and over takes it’s toll and when it no longer becomes fun then that’s it, the effort drops and the music suffers. That’s not to say we’ll be going drastically different, Jack can always release his K-Pop tracks as a solo project.

You're from London, and local rock scene is just huge. How did you find your own place there? Is it easy to find venue for Elephant Tree's live practices?

Having Pete in the band helps with this. He’s a bit of a celebrity on the scene, so he knows loads of the other bands and people involved in putting on shows. There’s also an amazing community vibe that goes on. Bands message other bands and get each other shows and generally just help each other out. There are very few ‘big egos’ which helps.

You mean that Pete is famous dude because of Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight, right? How do they gain the recognition? And why didn’t Pete share this secret with you still?

Pete is just known for being Pete. Trippy are doing really well but he’s always at gigs and just seems to know everyone. There really wasn’t any secret to tell, he’s like magnet when it comes to attracting conversations in bars.

How often do you receive feedback from people? Is it enough intensive to motivate you move further?

Honestly, not as much as you would imagine. People will come up after shows and we get a lot of reviews but not many people will tell you when they have an issue with a song or there’s something they didn’t like. None of it really changes our views on things anyway, for me personally it’s a bonus that people dig what we do, I mainly do it because it’s something I enjoy.

Okay, Sam, then I hope that this interview will help us to spread the word about Elephant Tree further and you find more careful listeners through it. Let’s sum up – what’s band’s general sacred message?

“Where’s the Spoons?”

Words by Aleks Evdokimov and Sam Hart