Monday, 13 July 2020

Dee Calhoun - Godless (Album Review)


Release date: July 10th 2020. Label: Argonauta Records. Format: CD/DD

Godless – Tracklisting

1. Here Under Protest - 04:30
2. Godless - 05:52
3. The Moon Says Goodbye - 05:10
4. Hornswoggled - 04:20
5. To My Boy - 04:33
6. Spite Fuck - 05:50
7. No Justice - 03:49
8. Ebenezer - 05:41
9. Ride Away - 05:01
10. The Greater Evil - 05:41
11. The Day Salvation Went Away - 04:26

12. Prudes Puritanicals Puddles of Piss - 06:34

Review

Legendary Doom Metal Artist – Dee Calhoun – returns with his 3rd solo album Godless and it sees Dee on on fine form with an album that has 12 tracks to soothe your soul with. This is a deeply emotional and quite troubling album in places. As Dee lays his heart out here. Playing a more subdued acoustic style of American, Doom, Country and good old fashioned Outlaw Rock.

The album features Dee’s infinite wisdom which he’s built up with almost 40 years in the musical business and performing for great bands such as Spiral Grave and IRON MAN. This is Dee’s 3rd solo album and it’s good to see him continuing his excellent relationship with Argonauta Records yet again.

Godless is quite a spiritual album despite the name of GODLESS. As there’s a lot of deep meaningful lyrics that touch upon religious themes. The music is constantly captivating with Dee playing a wild style of Acoustic Rock that offers the perfect balance of different sounds and still keep the gloomy atmosphere thriving from start to finish.

Dee is joined by Iron Man and Spiral Grave bandmate, Louis Strachan, provided the bass tracks. Dee’s son Robert, “Little ‘Houn” Calhoun, appears on the record with percussion and backing vocals performances. So it’s good to see that Dee has made this a very close and personal affair and you can tell that on the lyrics for the majority of the songs.

Maybe 12 tracks is slightly too long for this album but it’s quite a powerful album that pulls no punches with the dark vocals and lyrical content that Dee has included on this album. The album is deeply soaked by the legendary Blues Rock scene as it’s steeped in a very cool and vibrant Blues Rock sound.


Standout songs on the album include – Here Under Protest, Godless, To My Boy, Spite Fuck, Ride Away, The Greater Evil and Prudes Puritanicals Puddles of Piss.

The “Outlaw” aspect of this album is perhaps the best part of GODLESS. As Dee writes and performs some of his best material when he’s in a more rebellious mood but though there are still plenty moments of emotionally charged acoustic rock to be impressed with.
GODLESS is wonderfully eerie and challenging in equal measure. So don’t expect an easy ride as this album offers no easy answers or solutions but a showcase for a Doom Metal Legend at the top of his game.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Mona at All Noir PR for the promo. Godless is available to buy on CD/DD via Argonauta Records now.

Links:

Sunday, 12 July 2020

It's All About the Riff featuring Dan Lorenzo from VESSEL OF LIGHT

Back in early March, Vessel of Light played three shows in NY/NJ. Jason Stewart did a video interview with our singer Nathan Opposition. Nathan commented that he'd be flying back to NJ in June to do a five day run with Vessel of Light. We were supposed to be playing at the Maryland Doom Fest plus four other shows last week. 

Before the Cornavirus shutdown we had plans to release our 4th album in 2021.

A few days after our last show in March Jason Stewart came to my house to film a lengthy interview with me, guitar in hand. I discussed my times with Hades, Non-Fiction and The Cursed with Bobby Blitz. Due to the stay-at-home orders we are way ahead with out next record. 


I wrote and recorded my guitar parts to sixteen new songs and drummer Ron Lipnicki has tracked fourteen of those. I told Ron to "go off" on this record and I doubt many drummers could pull off the intricate rhythms Ron has laid down. Jimmy Schulman and Nathan will be tracking their parts in July and August so we could have a new single out in September and a brand new full length album/CD in late September or October. 

A California label Nomad Eel Records will be releasing the CD first and then vinyl in early 2021.

Now, I mentioned Ron recorded some complicated drum tracks for our new album. My riffs are still very simple. Pretty much anybody who has played guitar for a few months could probably play most of these songs. For some reason Jason has chosen me to debut his new video series It's All About The Riff. Jason has spent countless hours these last three months editing my (musical) life story.


Social media: 


Video created and filmed by Jason Stewart 


********************************** 

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More great links to check out: 

Iron Pike - Be The Discomfort (Album Review)


Release date: June 21st 2020. Label: Self Released. Format: Cassette/DD

Be The Discomfort – Tracklisting

1.The Great Deep 08:35
2.Pig Manners 06:37
3.Forked Tongues 06:45
4.Loathe 07:51

Members

Niklas - organ, synthesizers, noise and vocals
Oscar - drums
Björn - Guitar and vocals
Bass and vocals on this album by Jakob.

Review


Be The Discomfort is the new album from Swedish Sludge Metallers Iron Pike and it’s quite a convincing and brutally heavy affair with the band playing a pummelling style of Hardcore based Doom/Sludge Metal. It’s a style of music that we’ve heard a million times before but if you’re on the lookout for a heavy style of Sludge Metal with great vocals to match then Iron Pike are the perfect band for you to checkout.

The album is expertly put together with a fantastic and free-flowing production that allows Iron Pike to grow naturally within the albums 30 minute running time. The gloomy atmospherics can be quite raw at times but this gives Iron Pike a more unsettling method of playing their down-tuned heavy sounds that ultimately brings a more claustrophobic style of Doom/Sludge Metal.

The song does have some trippy psychedelic parts spliced throughout the album with creepy soundbytes added along the way.

Opening song – The Great Deep – is the standout song on the album as Iron Pike utilize some great soundclips to portray a more deeper and emotionally involving blend of music. The vocals are a combination of clean vocals and harsh growls which are quite ferocious from start to finish. The lyrics could have done with some more work but overall this is a beautifully heavy and gloomy song that has some epic guitar sounds that allow Iron Pike to be noticed on their own merits.

The other songs on the album follow the same path as The Great Deep and Iron Pike do add different layers of heaviness to these songs with Forked Tongues and Loathe having a slightly more depressing and violent feel to them.

If you dig bands such as Cult Of Luna, CONAN and EyeHateGod then Iron Pike are the band for you. As Iron Pike are another welcome addition from the world famous Swedish Doom/Sludge Metal scene which has already given the world so many amazing acts. They prove on Be The Discomfort they are a band checking out and worth giving a damn about.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Links:

Facebook | BandCamp


Kingnomad - Sagan Om Rymden (Album Review)


Release date: July 10th 2020. Label: Ripple Music. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Sagan Om Rymden – Tracklisting

1.Omniverse 04:20
2.Small Beginnings 04:34
3.The Omega Experiment 03:46
4.Tillbakablick / The Usurper King 08:36
5.Multiverse 05:48
6.The Fermi Paradox 02:32
7.The Creation Hymn 04:19
8.On the Shoulders of Giants 05:01
9.The Unanswered Question 04:37

Members

Marcus.
Mr Jay.
Maximilian.
Mano.

Review

Sagan Om Rymden is the new album from Swedish Powerhouse Doom Rockers Kingnomad who make another mighty fine splash into the world of 70s Doom Metal and Proto-Metal with flashes of Psychedelic Rock, Hard Rock and Space Rock imagery on this album. Kingnomad take to the skies with this album especially with their excellent “out-there” lyrics and beautifully crazy song titles.

The album opens with the fast-paced Psychedelic stylings of Omniverse and it has the perfect balance of 70s Classic Doom Metal and the fantastical elements of Swedish Doom Metal. Truth be told I first thought I was listening to GHOST at first especially with the more groovy psychedelic parts but that thought soon left as Kingnomad start playing a more fast-paced and more interesting style of music where the lyrics and vocals help drive the music along.

One of the main strengths of this album is how the band never write or play the same kind of song twice. Each song is vastly different and have their own identity but still retain Kingnomad’s trademark style of Doom based sounds. The band thrive when they bring the more darker and daring vibes of 70s Doom Metal and give it a more inventive spin with the gloomy Psychedelic parts start leading the way.

Standout songs include: Small Beginnings, The Omega Experiment, Multiverse and On The Shoulders Of Giants being the most creative and diverse songs held on the album. This is where Kingnomad impressed myself the most with heavy riffs, slow tempos, theatrical vocals and top-notch songwriting being used to their full potential.

Kingnomad are one of the most interesting and perhaps standout bands from the “Retro Rock” scene that always bring something cool and exciting to the table. The band live for all things 70s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal and this album feels like it could have been released within that legendary period. As the production has quite a vintage feel whilst remaining superbly modern as well.

Sagan Om Rymden is beautifully crazy and superbly entertaining album that will keep their established fan-base happy for a very long time to come. This record could even allow Kingnomad gain a few more dedicated followers along the way.

Ripple Music seem to be on a major streak in releasing great albums and they have tonnes more coming in the next few months or so. However, this is Kingnomad’s show and they’ve released an outstanding album that will surprise you in many different ways.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Purple Sage PR for the promo. Sagan Om Rymden is available to buy now on CD/DD/Vinyl via Ripple Music.

Links:


Saturday, 11 July 2020

An Interview With Laura Mariposa Williams from LORE CITY and New Video For It's All Happening


Lore City are an Art Rock duo based in Portland, Oregon. The band play a cool and interesting style of music which blends Psych Rock, Indie Rock and Post-Rock which the band describe themselves as "Art Rock".

Lore City have released two excellent albums so far with Absence And Time (2013) and Kill Your Dreams (2014). Both of these albums are vastly different to each other but show a great style of different genres of music being fused together for quite an emotional journey.

Lore City will be releasing their 3rd full length album Alchemical Task in October 2020.

I recently spoke to Laura from Lore City to find out more about this great band....

Hi Laura from Lore City. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today?

Things are going well for Eric and I, thanks so much for talking with me.

For people not in the know, can you provide a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today?

Eric and I originally met at Syracuse University in the early 2000s, where we were both art students. Fast forward through the bulk of our twenties, and fate reconnected us. Eric took an interest in the songs I was writing, and we formed Lore City while living in New York. We got married right after recording our first album, Absence and Time. Then we migrated from Brooklyn to Chicago and secured a 2013 release on Already Dead Tapes and Records.

We kept writing songs and honed our sound playing shows across Chicago. In 2014 our second album, Kill Your Dreams, was co-released by Already Dead Tapes and Records and 1980 Records. We now live in Portland, Oregon, where we’re very excited about releasing our third album, Alchemical Task, this October.

I admire how you blend different styles such as Post-Rock, Indie Rock and Psychedelic Rock but bring your own creative style as well. How would you describe your music to a potential new listener?

I say, art rock—that term lets us shift around a bit like you said. I would describe our music simply as existential, poetic, and moody.

You’ve recently re-released your 2013 debut album Absence and Time earlier this year. How did that come about? Were you unhappy with the original version?

Not at all, we re-released Absence and Time because we had it remastered by Carl Saff. He had mastered our second and third albums, so in retrospect, we wanted him to do the first one too. It was a celebration of our roots as we moved forward.


I’ve only heard the remastered version but it’s an excellent sounding album. Are there any differences between the 2020 version and the original?

Thanks, yes, we changed the order of the songs, just for fun. We also replaced the original version of Heiress with an alternate version we recorded later in 2013.

You will be releasing your 3rd album, Alchemical Task, in October 2020, which I’m so looking forward to. What is that album about? It looks like quite a powerful and progressive album from the press release I read.

Thanks so much, the album is about how people are actually spiritual beings having a human experience—that’s the “alchemical task”. Going a step further, how do we begin to express and embody that we’re all one consciousness experiencing life subjectively? These have always been the themes of Lore City songs, but on this album, they’ve come to the forefront in a more realized way.

Was this a hard album to write and record compared to your previous albums?

From the moment we committed to recording a new album, all the writing and recording happened fairly quickly and easily. But leading up to that moment, we had gone through years of recording, while trying to find the spirit of the project again. So, it was a long climb with a huge breakthrough.

What influenced or inspired you when making this album?


Recently, I have been unequivocally inspired by the music and live performances of Thom Yorke and Radiohead, as well as Michael Gira and Swans. I also did a lot of reading on reincarnation.

What comes first for you when you record new music? Lyrics or Music?

Music comes first, while I keep a rotating selection of lyrics on hand. Eric makes a soundscape with beats, drones, and melodies, then shares it with me. And like navigating a Ouija board, I listen, and some force guides me to the right lyrics. Then I usually add additional instrumentation of my own.

You’ve had six years between your 2nd album and upcoming 3rd album. Did you have a break from Lore City or was the timing not right to record new music? 


Both—we took a break when we moved out west, and then we took our time developing and recording our new sound.

COVID-19 has pretty much put a stop to all life as we know it for the time being. How has it affected Lore City? And how are you surviving in this stressful time?

We’ve become quite reclusive over the years, so this downtime hasn’t changed our lives much. We’re lucky to have all of the people that we love safe and healthy, so we’re thankful. We get through the stress with eating healthy, daily exercise, and creative outlets. For a good zone-out session, we’ll kick back with some sci-fi movies.

After everything is back to some sort of normality, what does the future hold for Lore City? Will you be touring in support of the new album?

Our future definitely holds more albums—we haven’t stopped recording since we finished Alchemical Task. One day there will be shows again, but until then, we’re just as happy to focus on recording new music.

Who is releasing the album and what formats is the album being released on?

Alchemical Task is being released under the Lore City Music imprint. As vinyl lovers, we’re releasing the album as an LP, and of course it will be available as a digital download too. And for total availability, it will also be “free” to stream.


The album cover for the upcoming new album is excellent. Who designed the cover and how much input did you have into the overall design of the cover?

We owe the magic of the album cover to Nancy L. Greco. I came up with the initial concept after seeing one of her drawings from the early 1980s. The circle was inspired by the zodiac wheel, and the shapes themselves were mostly picked from Nancy’s existing drawings and paintings. The back cover of the album reveals the constellations of both my and Eric’s respective sun signs, Sagittarius and Scorpio. 

What have been your favourite records that you’ve heard this year, regardless of genre?

I’m going to veer a bit on this one and share with you what really inspired me to keep making music—the film portrait of Swans, “Where Does A Body End?”, directed by Marco Porsia. The film celebrates Michael Gira as a modern-day musical shaman, operating outside of the mainstream, and succeeding in finding an international audience. I loved watching the backstory unfold—how he never compromised his sound, and how he never gave up. Gira is in his 60s and making his best work.

Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go, do you have any words of wisdom that you want to say to your fans?

Thank you so much for talking with me. For everyone out there, I’d like to say—you are not alone, and this is not the end. Choose love over fear as much as you can.

Words by Steve Howe and Laura Mariposa Williams

Thanks to Laura and Lore City for all of the press materials used for this article.

You can watch the new video for the superb new song "It's All Happening" from their upcoming new album Alchemical Task due for release in October 6th 2020



Links

Thursday, 9 July 2020

GRAVEYHARD Release New Song and Video For PATHBUILDER From Their New Album


It's no secret, that Italy belongs to one of the current hot spots of a vibrant Sludge, Doom and Stoner Metal scene, while powerhouse label Argonauta Records is the top-notch home for an eclectic artist roster of all that is heavy. So it comes by no surprise, that the label just released the third album by Italian four-piece, Sludge explosives GRAVEYHARD!

Hailing from San Cristoforo, the band burst into the scene in 2011 with their impressive demo, Black Train Starting, followed by the highly acclaimed Cave Core (2014) and the thunderous, 2018- album Homonymous. April this year seen GRAVEYHARD release their third full-length, titled Pathbuilder, via Argonauta Records


The band's third record is a raw, brutal and pure blend of Sludge that could easily come straight out of Louisiana, served with a hint of Seattle's Grunge, giving the band's sound its rough, massive and yet original touch.

You can hear the stunning and fantastically heavy as balls new song - PATHBUILDER


Pathbuilder Tracklisting:

1.Burn Forever
2. The Fighter
3. Blame Yourself
4. King of Sorrow
5. Dejection
6. Pathbuilder
7. On My Knees
8. Holy Whiskey
9. Chainsaw
10. Winter

GRAVEYHARD is:

Ivan Magnani – Guitar + Vocals
Alessio Borghetti – Guitar
Carlo Bellagotti – Bass
Gabriele Americans – Drums


For More Info Visit:

www.facebook.com/Graveyhard
www.graveyhard.it
www.argonautarecords.com

Thanks to Mona at All Noir PR for all of the details.

TOXIC TITO Release New Video - GOT TO MOVE ON - From Their Upcoming Debut Album

NYC's TOXIC TITO will release their scorching debut album Bestia on August 21 2020.


About Toxic Tito:

Toxic Tito is a New York City psychedelic/punk/metal/grunge project coming for your head. The band says:"This album is a real punch in the gut, no fucking around here. Original, and full on "Balls to the walls"!! Rock Music has gone stale and moldy, pretentious and ass kissing. We don't do that."


They seek to exorcise the demons from the human race, sell a shitload of albums, and get on a Scorsese movie. This is a band of consummate professionals sharing an anarchistic ‘devil may care’ attitude. There are no expectations, only the desire to document what was once a good boy.

The bands story starts in 1977 when the Italian-Venezuelan Luis Accorsi formed his first band, Janz Kappela, who were perhaps the first punk band in Venezuela. From there life took him to New York City where he launched a career as an art dealer and played countless shows at the legendary CBGB’s with bands like Manslaughter and Cracked Latin. He had become a fixture of the scene. In 2014 The Flux Machine – was formed, bringing Accorsi back to the heart of New York City’s thriving rock and roll scene. A few years later he would launch a brand new project, Toxic Tito which sought to take on the world of metal.


Looking forward, Toxic Tito are preparing to release a new album, entitled Bestia It’s a vicious and ambitious record building off of the insanity of quarantine. Drawing on everything from ancient problems to the joy of summers arrival it is a bloodthirsty offering from the band. Accorsi’s massive catalogue comes to life with the group as they move forward in crafting some of the most interesting heavy metal to emerge from New York in years. If you want to get slammed into a punk infused rager... Have we got the band for you!

Watch the video for their new single Got To Move On.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

10,000 Years - S/T (EP Review)


Release date: July 10th 2020. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD

10,000 Years – Tracklisting

1."Albatross" Landing
2.Master Of Oblivion 04:39
3.Lee Van Cleef
4.Into The Jaws Of The Green King
5.From Suns Beyond

Members

Erik Palm - Guitars
Alex Risberg - Bass/vocals
Espen Karlsen - Drums

Review

10,000 Years is a Swedish Sludge/Stoner Metal Band and features members of PIKE. A very cool and brutally heavy Sludge/Stoner Metal band that I was a fan many years ago. Erik and Alex were both in PIKE and the guys have recruited drummer Espen to form this hugely talented trio who play very loud Sludge/Stoner Metal influenced by the likes of High On Fire, Kylesa, Mastodon and Black Tusk.

Their self-titled debut EP features 5 tracks with the band performing modern and muscular sounding Sludge/Stoner Metal with a very cool Apocalyptic and Psychedelic edge to their music. The music is very familiar in places but 10,000 years have more than enough talent to stand their own ground amongst their giants of the scene. This EP is a blistering good time with the band playing highly addictive grooves with an out-of-this-world feel.

Opening song - “Albatross Landing” - reminds me of early-era High On Fire with the aggressive riffs having a direct “Punk” feel to them and Alex vocals have quite a rough and ready feel to them. That’s not a bad thing for Alex to deliver. As the vocals are clean and easy to understand but he’s mightily “PISSED OFF” on this song. The song feels on for longer than it’s 3.30 minute running time. 10,000 years pack a lot of different styles of Sludge/Stoner Metal on this song and it shows you what the band will deliver for the remainder of the EP.

Second song – Master Of Oblivion – is another meaty slab of straight-forward Sludge/Stoner Metal sounds but with a more distinctive Psychedelic Rock/Metal approach. The band deliver some of the best riffs on this song especially when the band playing some wicked guitars towards the end of the song.

Third song – Lee Van Cleef – is where Alex’s bass dictates the action and sees the band offering more DIY and Punk based theatrics amongst the thrilling Sludge/Stoner Metal background. The overall feel of the EP is more loose and 10,000 Years offer a more realistic style of music to impress listeners with. The drumming from Espen is perhaps the real “standout” here with some great drumming that drowns the superb guitars being played in the background.

The final two songs – Into The Jaws Of The Green King and From Suns Beyond both allow 10,000 years to end this EP on a classy and exciting finish with down-tuned grooves leading the way. The EP does sound quite raw on these final moments but the band still remain focused and the EP is superbly well produced.

If you’re in the mood fora band l that pays homage to the TITANS of Sludge/Stoner Metal then 10,000 Years is the band for you. They have delivered an exciting and adventurous EP that will have head-banging and rocking out in full agreement.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to 10,000 years for the promo. The EP will be available to buy on CD/DD from July 10th 2020.

Links:


SAIL - Mannequin (EP Review)


Release date: July 10th 2020. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Mannequin – Tracklisting

1.Mannequin
2.Mannequin [Synthwave Remix]
3.Mannequin [Director's Cut]

Members

Vocals/ guitars: Tim Kazer
Vocals/ guitars: Charlie Dowzell
Bass/ synth: Kynan Scott
Drums/ percussion: Tom Coles

Review

SAIL were last featured on the blog back in 2017 when I reviewed their critically acclaimed album Slumbersong. The band did release an excellent EP Starve last year which I never found the time to feature. Though, time to correct that with the release of SAIL’s superb new EP – Mannequin. This EP features 3 versions of the same song but with a very cool twist.

As you have the original version of Mannequin and two different covers that sound quite different to the original version. SAIL play music in the same vein as Torche, Red Fang and Mastodon but perhaps slightly more melodic and way psychedelic in places. The song has quite a gloomy feel which wasn’t as prominent as their previous album as it sounds here. The vocals are quite moody and atmospheric in places and feel more aligned to 90s Alternative Rock than Sludge/Stoner Metal. Though, it’s a great fit and allows SAIL to breathe new creative life into their overall sound.

The two other versions of Mannequin includes a Synthwave Remix and Director’s Cut and these are equally as good as the original version.

The Synthwave version is basically just that. An Electronic based version of the song which has it’s own unique charms and sounds that shouldn’t really work but this is some epic trippy stuff here. Especially with the 80s influence leading the way. The guitars are nowhere to be heard here. As the title suggests, it’s purely Synths and if you ever wondered what a modern Sludge/Stoner Metal band would sound like as an 80s Synthwave band then this is the best possible answer.

The Director’s Cut is the best version on the EP. As it’s on almost twice as long as the original version and the song is more progressive and takes a lot more creative risks. This version is more complex and heavier in all of the right places.

If this is the new direction that SAIL will be heading with future releases then I’m fully on board with this wonderfully original and bold style of music. Overall, Mannequin offers 3 different styles of music for SAIL to impress listeners with and offers a wonderfully heavy sonic experience helped along by fantastic production.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Curtis at Dewar PR for the promo. Mannequin will be available to buy on DD from July 10th 2020.

Links:

Monday, 6 July 2020

Atavist - III: Absolution (Album Review)


Release date: June 19th 2020. Label: Candlelight Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

III: Absolution – Tracklisting

1.Loss 16:30
2.Struggle 14:22
3.Self-Realisation 09:38
4.Absolution 17:42

Members

Chris Naughton
Shane Ryan
Callum Cox

Review

Atavist new album III: Absolution came as a mighty surprise for myself. As I didn’t know that the band had reformed or they were releasing their first new album in almost 13 years. I was a huge fan of these guys back in the day and their highly evolved and progressive sound that had elements of Sludge Metal, Doom Metal, Post Metal and Death Metal that all combined for a deeply unforgiving and punishing sonic based experience.

III: Absolution sees Atavist return with a more world-weary and experimental sound compared to their past works but still capturing what made this band such a force to be reckoned with originally. Atavist play a more progressive style of Death/Doom Metal on this album that reminds me of YOB and Pallbearer in places. The band have added a bleaker and cinematic groove to their music and there’s some fantastic instrumental work throughout the album.

Atavist have written 4 songs for this album and they’re quite long in length ranging from 9 mins and 18 minutes in length. This allows Atavist to explore new things on this record and they play some punishing Death/Doom Metal riffs on the majority of the album. Atavist features Chris Naughton on Winterfylleth fame but this is a very different beast compared to that great band.

The Post-Black Metal atmosphere of the album is perhaps the main strength of this record. As the harsh vocals and guitars are built on that solid foundation that allows III: Absolution to be full of many gloomy moments with impressive songwriting and vocals to match. The album can be considered as on 1 epic song split into individual chapters with the opening song Loss and final song Absolution being the standout parts of the album. Though the other two songs Struggle and Self-Realisation being great songs as well.

I felt emotionally connected more to Loss and Absolution. As they have the heaviest riffs and perhaps the boldest ideas on the album. The Post-Metal sounds are Atavist through and through with the challenging style of music maybe too depressing for some to enjoy at first. The album despite it’s dark lyrical content and bleak sounds does offer it’s fair share of uplifting moments when the more commanding Ambient and Post-Rock vibes take a more commanding lead which left me wanting to hear more.

III: Absolution is a masterclass of Extreme Metal and Atavist may have released their most defining work to date.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Lisa at Hold Tight PR for the promo. III: Absolution is available to buy now on CD/DD/Vinyl via Candlelight Records.

Links:



Saturday, 4 July 2020

Merlock - that which speaks... (EP Review)


Release date: July 10th 2020. Label: Self Released. Format: Cassette/DD

that which speaks... – Tracklisting

1.idolon
2.prolapse
3.[vessel]
4.condemnation

Members

Lead Guitar & Vocals: Taylor D. Waring
Rhythm Guitar & Vocals: Riley D. Moore
Bass: Andrew Backes
Drums: Lucas Wild Barrey

Review

that which speaks… is the debut EP from Psychedelic Sludge/Doom/Stoner Riffsters – Merlock – and this is my first excursion to their trippy and very surreal take on all things Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal. Merlock show a wealth of different creative ideas and sounds on this album that took me quite a few listens to fully admire and appreciate. The album switches from harsh Post-Doom environments to more straight-forward Sludge/Stoner Metal surroundings that make you wonder that certain parts of the album were made by multiple different bands.

The EP is very LOUD and Merlock thrive on that fact whilst adding a trippy Spaced Out or Sludge-Gaze sound that even has traces of classic and true sounding Heavy Metal that helps make the rough sounding parts of the record even more thrilling and authentic.

The EP has 4 tracks with Merlock showing they aren’t afraid to experiment with their music and offering a “Death/Doom” style of vocals on certain parts of the album. Though, there are some truly inspired theatrical and OTT vocals to give “that which speaks...” that something little bit different to offer.

The record can be downright bleak and nasty in places but it’s the huge sounding Psychedelic and Progressive moments where Merlock impressed myself the most. As you begin to explore and understand their music more with some epic riffs being played along the way. The EP is quite raw in places and has a more organic feel compared to other records that I’ve listened to recently.

All of the songs ran between 7 minutes and 8 minutes in length and Merlock have a lot of time to play with to refine and perfect their highly experimental style of Doom, Sludge and Stoner Metal, The second half of the EP is perhaps the strongest part of the record with the final two songs of [vessel] and condemnation having the better sounds and ideas on the record. Though, as one epic release, Merlock have released a thrilling and adventurous EP that harks back to the early days of Mastodon with their style of Progressive Sludge based guitars and ideas written for this release.

If this is classed as an EP then I’m truly excited to hear what Merlock can do with a full length album. As no doubt everything will be bigger, bolder and even crazier to what is to be found on “that which speaks...” - Until then, this EP from Merlock is the type of record that the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal community needs right now.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Leanne at Mettle Media PR for the promo. "that which speaks..." will be available to buy on Cassette/DD from July 10th 2020

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EMPRESS - Premonition (Album Review)


Release date: July 24th 2020. Label: Self Released. Format: Cassette/CD/DD

Premonition – Tracklisting

1.A Pale Wanderer
2.Sepulchre
3.Passage
4.Trost
5.Hiraeth
6.Premonition
7.Lion's Blood

Members

Peter Sacco: Guitars/vox
Brenden Gunn: Bass
Chris Doyle: Drums

Review

Premonition is the debut full length album from Canadian Progressive Sludge/Stoner Metallers – EMPRESS – who released their debut EP Reminiscence back in 2018. The band sadly lost bassist Brenden Gunn last year and this album is a fitting tribute to Brenden’s legacy not only for the band but also Brenden’s family and friends.

The album is a more grown-up offering compared to their debut album as they deal with some deeply haunting and emotional themes on the album and it’s quite a dark, rich and varied journey that will surprise people in many ways. The band are perhaps more musically aligned to the earlier sounds of ELDER, Mastodon and Baroness though still standing tall on their own musical endeavours.

Opening song – A Pale Wanderer – offers eight minutes of Post-Doom grooves that branch out into different elements of Sludge Metal, Post-Metal, Psychedelic Rock and Stoner Metal with a YOB-esque influence running deep within the lyrical content. The vocals are some of the best I’ve heard this year with Peter showing a sense of maturity beyond his years with harsh growls, clean vocals and almost ethereal chants that show you EMPRESS are quite a force to be reckoned with. Even so early on with the opening song.

Second song – Sepulchre – was released as single earlier this year and I was lucky enough to premiere the song and showed me how different EMPRESS had become from their acclaimed debut EP. This song is more of a Hard-Edged Progressive Stoner Rock/Metal song with the band showing they know how to write a kick-ass song packed full of violent energy that oozes confidence. The song lasts under 5 minutes but EMPRESS show a real flair of playing a more standard Sludge/Stoner Metal song.

Third song – Passage – is another stylistic change with the band playing a more laid-back style of music with lush psychedelic grooves directing the action before the song changes into a more threatening style of “DOOM” based atmosphere. The progressive guitars are quite familiar in places and I’m reminded of TORCHE but when the harsh vocals kick-in, EMPRESS become EMPRESS again for some epic riffs being played for good measure.

There are 7 songs on offer here and I don’t want to spoil the hidden surprises and emotional depths that EMPRESS have created for the 2nd half of the album and that’s is where perhaps the album truly shines and stands out from the Post-Metal/Sludge/Stoner Metal crowd. As EMPRESS focus more on lyrical content and allowing the whole flow of the album to build up at a natural pace. There are still fantastic heavy riffs spliced throughout the album but it’s the lyrics and vocals that make this album ultimately work.

The standout songs from the 2nd half of the album have to be: Hiraeth, Premonition and Lion’s Blood – as this is where everything comes together and pays off big time for the band. Everything sounds fresh and original which is also helped by top-notch production the album holds from start to finish.

There were a few moments on this album that connected with myself emotionally and I was thinking about close friends and family members that I’ve lost over the last few years. So that was an unexpected thing for myself to go through whilst listening to this album.

Premonition is a deeply satisfying and superbly made album that allows it to be an Album Of The Year contender for myself personally and I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens elsewhere for other folks as well.

Do yourself a favour and check this epic and brilliant album out when you get the chance.

You won’t be sorry...

Words by Steve Howe

Premonition will be available to buy on Cassette/CD/DD from July 24th 2020

Links: