Fangs Of The Molossus ~ Fangs of the Molossus (2015)
While the self-titled Fangs of the Molossus album came out on CD back in 2013, it's getting a new breath of life thanks to a vinyl re-release from Italian Doom Metal Records. This will be their first release promoting the Italian doom metal scene exclusively, and with the wide spectrum of those bands, this is a stellar starting point for the indie label. The music itself is an exercise in occult doom metal with a heavy handed dose of psych and stoner at times. The third track "I Drink Your Blood" was an immediate attention grabber the first time through. This is a song Sleep would of written if they were watching nothing but 70's Italian horror flicks while getting stoned and recording "Sleep's Holy Mountain". The same use of massive, pounding riffs with an even darker and more sinister edge to them. With the bass and drums just as heavy as anything you've heard, the song slams through until the halfway point where it's broken up by an instrumental section with a hammering textbook doom riff that gives way to a spaced out guitar solo. By the last couple minutes things get reeled back in from the psychedelic freak out session and return to the opening riff that the track rides into the darkness on. With four more tracks of visceral doom metal gracing the LP, it's worth forty solid minutes of heaviness front and back. You can go snag a copy of the new black or blood red vinyl, or even a hand numbered promo edition, from Italian Doom Metal Records.
For Fans Of; Electric Wizard, Saint Vitus, Sleep, Black Sabbath, Doomraiser
The final album to emerge from the three-piece of Mad Monks shows the group in their self-avowed darkest release, as The Dark Retreat takes the band's prog and blues roots and gives them a deep dunking in a vat o' doom, turning out a record that goes both big and mournful with its riffs and rhythms. Skittering tear-outs from the guitar and manically-powered black-jacks of bass provide most of the mutating assault, with the drums and vocals providing a comparatively stable side to the songs, at least until they get twisted with their own effects, but the Mad Monks also have a more atmospheric side, shown in tracks such as "Asthenia" and "Apsis". For these, the stridency of the music is pulled back to more sinister effect, and the deliberate way with which Mad Monks apply pressure with the tension gives the whole album a great vibrancy.
With the band calling it a day after hitting such sweet spots with their fusion, this seems likely to become one of those hidden gems; after all, why do a bunch of promotion when there's no more shows? But The Dark Retreat is more than worthy of being held up for appreciation by a wider audience than just those who already knew of the band, and though it's currently only available on CD, there's always the chance that it might end up on vinyl someday, even if the last two tracks ("Chimera" and "Perihelion") running 26 and 3 minutes long does make it a tricky proposition. Don't hold your breath for a theoretical release, go ahead and grab yourself a copy of the one that already exists, then play it loud in a dark room.
For Fans Of; Acid King, Spiral Shades, Morphine, Mondo Drag, Hellenica
South Wales' V A I L S are a two-piece with an urge towards musical experimentation, and on this debut EP, the pair shows their fondness for sludge with some understated humor. Well, aside from the neon dinosaur on the cover, but beyond that, there's the song titles, with names like "Megatron's Telethon" and "Don't Poke The Bear" serving as a clearer statement of what the distorted vocals deliver. Aside from "Don't Poke The Bear", which closes out the EP, the songs are all under the five-minute mark, letting the band spurt out different takes on their heavy groove base in rapid succession. All of them work, and also hint at how the band might further develop on future releases (though the wild energy suggests they could just as easily throw everybody for a loop with something completely different next time around).
The EP is getting a 100-copy run on CD courtesy of When Planets Collide, and the first 50 or so come with an exclusive patch of the band's name, done all dino-like, so turn up your speakers and bang your head for the first few plays until you're ready to order a copy. Do it fast enough, and we might even see a vinyl release in the works. And hey, you know it'll be a better use of money than going to see Jurassic World.
The Scottish three-piece that is Headless Kross have been putting on some great live shows and putting out albums to match since starting back in 2011, but with their new album, the group has laid down a clear challenge to all the bands with whom they might share a stage. Consisting of just three tracks, but stretching out to three-quarters of an hour, Volumes finds Headless Kross spooling out heavy clouds of fuzz, feedback, and grimy tones punctured and punctuated by the powerful drum-beats, and clearly not giving a damn when it comes to holding back.
"Rural Juror" is the biggest of the three, staking out a territory of 20+ minutes, and the band's gambit of throwing it right at the listener with the start of the album has the helpful effect of tenderizing your ears for the shorter stuff by way of the steady main riff's off-shoots and the aggression of the vocals. "Who Is This Who Is Coming" and "Even The Destroyed Things Have Been Destroyed" make up side B, following in the riff worship rituals with their own distinctive onslaughts, going wilder and more psychedelic. It's some high-quality stuff all around, with the rough FX of the guitar blazing almost out of control in the ripping and howls, and it makes for an album to be played as loudly as you can manage. One of the stronger contenders for album of the year so far.
For Fans Of; Bongripper, Major Kong, JPT Scare Band, Cough, Wolf Blood
Crossing stoner metal with the toasty tones of desert rock, the British quintet of Strauss have arrived after two years with the follow-up to their self-titled debut EP, and over the course of the five tracks on Luia, the group digs deep into the sandy grooves of that crossing. "Mud At You" slings the listener off into the music with a rattling ride of crunchy chords and indomitable percussion while the vocals let rip. The middle tracks are all big and atmospheric, with undeniable power shown in the massive sound pulled together by the instruments. "For All The Wrong Reasons", in particular, finds the band pushing their deep-groove plowing to the hilt, with hard bars of riffage clocking listeners right upside the head. While the vocals do drift into hardcore mode occasionally, they don't detract too much from the experience, and generally match the rough energy of the music. The EP hits a good pacing, though the drop-off from the end of the last track does feel abrupt, and Strauss show a willingness to challenge themselves that should serve them well on further releases. Give it a listen if you like some punky crustiness to your desert-dried metal. ~ Gabriel
For Fans Of; Mastodon, Deaf Flow, Repellers, Dead Hand, Baroness
Flight of the Seraphim - Fire, Water, Earth, Wind (2015)
It's difficult to give a description of Flight of the Seraphim without mentioning how prolific they are, as the band released four EPs and an album in 2014. Since their EPs are long enough to pass for albums, you can do your own math on how much time the band invests in refining its prog metal arrangements before sharing them with the world, but the point is that this band somehow arranges a ton of intricate stuff and makes it sound good.
That fine polish and giving nature are clearly still in effect on FotS' latest album, which in addition to a track for each of the title elements boasts an bonus pair of songs, "Quintessence" and "Aether". The band does an impressive job channeling the nature of each one into the musical textures and attitudes, with the rippling ring mod and overlapping rhythms of "Water" making for some of the more evocative moments (and, of course, "Earth" gets heavy, heavy, heavy, despite being the shortest of the title tracks).
It's all handled with skill and creativity, with no sense of pretension or over-repetition to the tangles of notes and beats, and while the album fits together great on its own, the two extra tracks make for a very effective coda. Another impressive work from Flight of the Seraphim, certainly worth investigating if you've got a taste for metal mixing heaviness with lush sounds and song-writing.
For Fans Of; Chord, Wicked Lady, Mondo Drag, Indukti, Titan
Having been around since 2013, and with a demo released last year, Australian 3-piece Comacozer have stepped up with a full studio EP mixed by Frank Attard (Mother Mars, Frozen Planet.... 1969). First of the three tracks to be found on Deloun is "Flamens of the Highest Order", a suitably cosmic-sounding 9-minute-plus slab of circling chords, building tension and layer development as it curls tighter and grows heavier. With this first track, the band shows a clear interest in digging past the main grooves into weirder territory, enough to mark them immediately as a crew to follow with their promise of further fuzz-loving wanderings. Of course, right after that is the ear-resting interlude of "Cosmic Hypnosis", showing that while they can pull off the meditative/dronier side of heavy psychedelic with plenty of panache, it's the more active material that really lets Comacozer cut loose.
"Nebula Dawn" makes for the last of the tracks, merging elements from both of the prior pieces into a new space-age alloy. The psychedelic side ride rises to the top here, with guitar notes bleeding into each other as the bass bobs along under the surface and the drums kick into fiery beats. Undoubtedly even better live, where they don't have to sacrifice their jam time, it's a solid capper to the EP and a killer intro to the band. They'll be playing a few live shows with Holy Serpent in June, so if you happen to be in Australia looking for quality heavy music, don't miss out.
For Fans Of; Gallileous, Bomg, Mares Of Diomedes, Humbaba, Oceans Of Titan
Billing themselves as a band which combines audio and visual stimuli for their performances, Malka claims to have a sound "unlike any other." While that's clearly hyperbole, especially with how much influence the music seems to draw from dreampop, the band does boast a respectable rapport between the performances of its members, and the music comes together with a clean blend of psychedelic and garage rock energies. A focus on extended crescendos brings a bit of post-rock flavor into the mix as well, and the songs are written with plenty of ambition and complexity to earn their wings. As just a part of what the live performances entail, it's safe to say that Malka's energy and enthusiasm will lead them to even higher levels, but they're doing quite well even this early. ~ Gabriel
For Fans Of; Porcupine Tree, Explosions In The Sky, 3rd Ear Experience, Daisy Chainsaw, Inspiral Carpets