Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Making The Monolith...

Brain Pyramid - Chasma Hideout (2014)

France's 3-piece Brain Pyramid has come back from tripping in the blue with their new album, the cerebellum-melting Chasma Hideout, which runs wild on a fuel of heavy psychedelic and hard rock. Capturing the spirit of jamming out in the country-side and lathering it up with some toothy distortion and sweet-finger licks, there's a lot of unruly and vibrant energy coursing through the album as it riffs and rips all over the place. Killer drum fills and rhythm switch-ups keep things unpredictable and energized, while the ~11-minute brain liquidation of the closing title track gives the trio the room they need to satisfactorily cap off their mad run of songs, including the massive shredding of “Lucifer”, the mighty acceleration of "Into The Lightspeed", and the space truckin' intro of “Living In The Outer Space”.
The album's release date is today, so if you have a fondness for heavy psychedelic with some high-energy performances, be sure to not let this one slip past you. It's currently available on CD from Acid Cosmonaut Records, so do yourself a favor and snap one up before they're all gone!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Wicked Lady, Church Of Misery, Salem's Pot, Eternal Elysium


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Stoned to the Throne

Black Hand Throne ~ IV (2014)

Another band from the state of South Carolina is the sludgy Doom Metal sound coming from Black Hand Throne. In the interest of full disclosure, they were supposed to be featured in the "Rising Sons of the South" article I wrote a little while back, but when I was copy and pasting I must of skipped over them by accident. To make up for my oversight, I decided to expand the small blurb to a full blown album review, because their latest effort "IV" is definitely worth one. If you're looking for that sense of despair and pure annihilation in a Stoner Doom album, look no further than "IV", or pretty much any Black Hand Throne album for that matter. Their sound is that of men with doctorates in the ways of Stoner Doom Metal, taking what the pioneers did, building on it, and making it their own. The growling vocals that get bellowed out remind me of Church of Misery at times, with a super heavy instrument groove that rivals the likes of Sleep. The pounding drum rhythms give way to soul crushing guitars, with the bass guitar loading up the low end with sonic destruction. My favorite track on this album would have to be "War of the Ancients", with an atmospheric opening and walking bass line it takes a few moments for it to turn into a plodding funeral march when the crunchy guitar tones come slamming down. The track really hits its stride just after the start of a slightly cleaner vocal performance, going a little more in the direction of Crowbar this time around. The main riff has a little more of that sludgy, Southern vibe than some of the others, but it absolutely slays anything that stands in its path. As the seven minute opus begins to come to an end, the drummer start up with a slamming outro that really ends the track on a good note, with crunchy guitar tones acting as reinforcements. That's just a taste of what this almost seventy five minute album has to offer, you can pick up a digital copy at their bandcamp, which I think is the only available format at the moment, for ten bucks. While that seems a little steep for a download, it's a buck a track, the going rate at places like iTunes and Amazon. But give it a few streams before you decide, and if you're into it, it'll definitely be ten bucks well spent at the end of the day. 

 For Fans Of; Sleep, Electric Wizard, Bongzilla

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Somber Introduction...

The Sleer - The Sleer (2014)

On The Sleer's self-titled debut EP (which is almost long enough to slip by as an album), the group from Colorado puts an interesting spin on traditional doom, mixing in some black metal inclinations to make it more aggressive and primal. This is most prominent in the vocals, which, though they do make use of the rasping growl style, have an interesting 'damping' effect put on, making them not quite as abrasive as some other groups with comparable vocals. On the instrumental side, they've got some good bass/guitar grooves going, backed up by drums with a wide spectrum of performance. The song-writing pays homage to the doom of yesteryear, but puts enough of a personal interpretive spin on things to keep it from seeming stale or uninspired; instead, they come across as pleasingly modern while they show off their fondness for tarry riffs, conjuring up imagery of mysterious crypts and treacherous swamps.
As a debut, it's a very strong start for this crew, establishing a strong sense of their character and musical style, while also providing some serious doom. It's slow but powerful, serious enough to make the music feel genuine without being stodgy or rule-bound, and has enough variety to it that they'll have a good range of options when deciding how to follow up on it with their next release.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Trees, Hesperian Death Horse, Grey Widow, Lake Of Blood, Fleshpress


Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Voices Came From Below

Buried Voices ~ Arson for the Heart (2014)

Buried Voices are four guys from South Carolina that play the modern day equivalent of Heavy Rock, Heavy Modern Rock maybe? It could probably be labelled off as many things at the end of the day, but all that's really important is the music, and it is catchy, groove laden Hard Rock that is often duplicated by very rarely this well, with all of the proverbial gears falling into place perfectly. Their release "Arson for the Heart" just made its CD debut after three years in the making, and what I'm sure included some blood, sweat, and tears. Every track has its own personality quirks, which becomes clear after just a couple tracks have finished, with influences ranging from Merle Haggard to Alice In Chains, all the way to Pantera and Crowbar at times. There's a little something for everyone, and while you might not fall in love with every one of the eleven tracks, you're almost guaranteed to find at least one to latch on and sink your teeth into. From the melodic vocals that haunt tracks like "Pretty Little Helpless", to edgier and even some screamed vocals that pop up in other tracks like "Perfect the Art of Sorrow", courtesy of the bass player, to the crunchy guitar riffs that slam forward from start to finish, paired with a thick and prominent bass tone that you don't get all the time, and a slamming drummer that beats his kit like it stole something from him and you start to get a sense of how well these guys do their job, whether it be in a studio or on a stage. I'd have to label "The Blowtorch" as the standout track for me, opening up with one of those crunchy riffs that sound like they tear their way out of the speaker cone, while the singer belts out his edgy, and slightly gritty melodic vocals. The bass is exemplary, chugging along, while the drummer is pounding out his vicious rhythms in the background, picking up any dead space to be found in the mix and carrying it on their back, really making each song sound full and dynamic in its own right. You can get in on all of this too, just head over to their bandcamp and give the album a listen and buy a digital version, or head over to CDbaby and get a physical copy of their album on a pretty slick looking CD.

 For Fans Of; Alice In Chains, Corrosion of Conformity, Audiobreed

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sounds From The Psyche...

Billy Tsounis - Nefelibata (2014)

Psychedelic to the point of being semi-hallucinatory, the new album from Billy Tsounis pulsates with energy from the first moments, billowing out in expansive waves of guitar and bass held down by the solid drum-work.  Mr. Tsounis put everything together himself, and the quality and sense of interaction between the assembled pieces deserves some recognition; there's some truly intricate stretches of sound to be found here, and imagining the multi-tracking behind it all is enough to make your head start to spin.
Some of the tracks bring in heavily-distorted keyboards, which emphasize the dream-like quality which characterizes much of the music.  The moods of the album range from gentle to viciously aggressive, and while there's an ethereal feel to much of it, the harder parts land with genuine impact.  That sense of surreality is reinforced by song titles such as “Eyeballs In The Yard” and “The Clown Salivates”, and while vocals are absent, the space they leave is filled up nicely by the lushness of the instruments and the strength of the song-writing.  The guitar usually has a pleasantly bright tone, and in Tsounis' hands, it comes alive with personality, adding to the many layers of material to mull over while listening to the album again and again. Great stuff, all around.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; The Human Instinct, Ten Years After, Lightning Bolt, Jimi Hendrix, A Place To Bury Strangers


Friday, September 26, 2014

Assault Over Airwaves...

MAXX12 - Special Forces (2014)

On their second album, MAXX12 have a few new faces in the band, giving them the opportunity to redefine themselves. Having not heard their first album, I can't say how this outing differs, but the band offers some traditional hard rock dredged from the start of the '80s.  Big power chord riffs (sometimes fairly crunchy), melodramatic vocals, and radio-friendly song durations combine with arena rock ambitions to deliver a sound most likely to be heard on stations with “Edge” in their name.  The guitarist, T. Michael Riddle (a.k.a., Rooster) mixes in some neat twists here and there, but things are kept generally simple, without much in the way of surprises after the first listen.  These sorts of songs are generally meant to be memorized quickly for chant-along live performances, though, so it's hard to fault them for something intentionally omitted.  If you like your rock so straight-forward that it becomes retro, MAXX12 are part of the new crop of throw-back hard rock that seems to be growing more popular with each month, and they've got enough chops to keep up with the rest.  Ultimately, radio play will determine whether this iteration of the band swims or sinks.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; High Spirits, Twisted Sister, Dio, Night Ranger, Thin Lizzy


Thursday, September 25, 2014

We All Wear Masks

Plague Mask ~ Failure in Repetition (2014)

When I think of New York's music scene, Hardcore and Punk are among some of the first things to come to mind, and the following band has a certain degree of that in their music but deep down, it's thick, syrupy Sludge Metal through and through. From the state of New York, Plague Mask uses some of that classic NY Hardcore to propel an otherwise swamp mud tempo forward at breakneck speed for short bouts, but always returning to that Sludge Metal core, and the grinding pace it entails. Gracing us with their latest release "Failure in Repetition", with five tracks which can go from melodic and doom-y to a gnarly beast in the blink of an eye, and like all good things it goes by too quickly, even if the songs are short. While the thick and unforgiving guitars bear down on you, you're attacked, beaten, and left for dead by the drums, all while the vocalist stands there, snarling out lyrics and looking on approvingly. As much as I love the title for the track "MKUltra", my favorite track on the album would have to be the closer "Like Lemmings", opening up slow, with a dark and mellow guitar part, it rolls on for a few moments before opening up into a low and slow Sludge piece with a brutalizing riff that slowly bashes in your skull, this eventually tapers off, then speeds up some and their Hardcore pedigree shows through some for a moment, this lasts until around the two and a half minute mark and then the songs takes a sudden left turn and is never quite the same again. Being lead by a smooth, melodic Doom riff, the song pounds forward with all the others falling in line behind it, and just before the end of the song the riff changes yet again, going out on a heavy, growling note. You can pick it up from the group's bandcamp page, in digital format, along with their release from last year that you can read our coverage of here.

For Fans Of; Converge, Black Tusk, Skeletons

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Looking Into Darkness...

Animi Vultus - innerside... (2012)

In preparation for the upcoming album from Animi Vultus, we're heading back to 2012 to check in on their latest album, innerside....  According to their notes on BandCamp, the band's songs are 100% improvised, which makes the effective tone of their music just that much more impressive.  With one member (Saliatahn) handling all of the instruments and arrangement, and the other (Malphas) handling vocals and phrasing, they have an intriguing and distinct approach to generating their music.
At the same time, that unpredictability makes it very hard to pin them down.  They have a resonant epic doom sound to a lot of the material, with a chill to the production and a commitment to atmosphere (with touches like indistinct guttural noises, dry-sounding drums, and organ interludes) drawn from the more theatrical segment of black metal, but they pull in so many other influences that it seems inadequate to just call them black(ened) doom metal.  There's soundscapes, drone, heavily-filtered folk, funeral doom, and more, all of it effectively channeled in their unscripted studio sessions.
Most of the songs top the 6-minute mark (the two that don't are the intro and the very short “Meaningless Thing”), with the first post-intro track, “...As The World Burns” taking the crown at ~10 minutes.  The duo makes excellent use of their time, developing some goosebump-inducing atmospheres that sound ideal for listening to in winter with the lights extinguished, and then breaking them into pieces with a violent interruption (or, in the case of “Extension”, a dense polyrhythmic build-up into either didgeridoo or a well-programmed drone synth).  The last track, “Self Awareness” drifts along on gentle keyboards, circling a downward riff and stretching out into ethereality, then silence.
There's just not enough room to talk about all the impressive details to the extent that they deserve, so, as a condensed version, take it this way: If you want to hear musical darkness done in a variety of styles, get yourself a copy of innerside..., and stay tuned for their follow-up!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Gnaw Their Tongues, White Darkness, Trees, Blackwolfgoat, Sunwølf