Sunday, March 29, 2015

Seeking The True Self...

Persona - Persona (2014)

Released on Halloween of last year, the self-titled debut from this Argentinian band is a stylish blending of psychedelic and stoner rock, putting warm '70s amp tones to work alongside prominent drumming and chill bass grooves.  Some prog-like experimentation with overlapping rhythms, along with some very impressive fuzzy freak-outs, serves to bring out the band's character in strength despite the absence of vocals.  Three of the band's four members do service on guitar (with two of them doubling up on bass), allowing for some truly intricate interplay and layering, and playing up each other's strengths in interesting ways.
The energy and enthusiasm displayed by Persona on this first release, besides making for one hell of a groove-shaker, points to a promising future for the group.  Their way with spinning sleek cool into high-speed rolls of fire had my hair standing on end more than a few times, and their range of styles and moods suggests that they'll have very little trouble keeping things fresh on the releases of the future.
The album has such a fine flow from song to song that when the last song hits its final note, there's almost a sense of whiplash at the sudden absence of Persona's golden tones.  Of course, that only encourages listeners to give it another go, so it's a crafty touch from the band, and the album is one that I sincerely hope plenty of people will get to hear.  Copies are available digitally through BandCamp, so go ahead and load up some of this high-octane heavy rock as soon as you can.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Manthrass, Earth Drive, The Heavy Company, Mondo Drag, Planes Of Satori


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hierophant In Black...

Lords Of Venus - Vol. 1 EP (2014)

As indicated by the name, this is the first release from the Lords Of Venus, a group out of California with a focus on heavy stoner doom.  If that's not enough to pique your interest, let me give you more description of this EP; first of the four tracks is "Illuminate", which lights things up with a murky soundscape before breaking out the metal, keeping it low and slow with dusky atmosphere and a fittingly vulgar attitude.  With the last resonant bass chord, it's over, and on into "Passages", which makes use of a more prominent and lively main riff without sacrificing any of the doom.
"Hail" comes in after that, and while it's a song name with some stiff competition in the realm of stoner doom, Lords Of Venus put in a good showing, injecting still more energy into the tar-thick progressions.  "Carcosa" starts off the end with a plodding beat and deep-buzzing guitar, ramping up to a more intense deployment of the same style until it burns itself right out of existence.
It's a strong set of songs, and Lords Of Venus have done well by themselves with establishing their style and attitude through the low-cranked headiness.  There's already rumblings of more material to be delivered to the masses in the near future, so keep your ears open for further developments from this promising trio of doom priests.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Electric Wizard, Toke, Sumokem, Attalla, Olde Growth


Friday, March 27, 2015

Fill Your Veins...

BOAR - Veneficae (2015)

After about five years of EPs and appearances on splits, the Finnish group of BOAR have finally put together a full-length album (released through Lost Pilgrim Records, who've handled such fine bands as Mudbath, Deuil, and Fange) to bring their unfettered stoner doom power to life in full glory.  The first of the six tracks to be found on Veneficae is "Old Grey", which fires up the album with a gurgle and buzz, then a roar of sludgy percussion, vocals, and feedback.  After a firm coat of dirt, some traces of recognizable melody emerge, though they're still heavily crushed by the band's unrelenting treatment, and after fading into a drum-carried bridge, the song rattles out, leaving a strong impression to be picked up by "Witch Woman" and carried forward through the rest.
"Witch Woman" blends a little more of the traditional doom metal sound into the crustiness set up by the first song, along with some dark psychedelic elements to keep things unpredictable and wild.  There's also some cool loping rhythm worked in over a break of relatively sweet-toned guitar riffing (underlaid with hissing growls), plenty of head-banging stretches, and a quick double-stomp ending before "Sand" erupts to up the head-banging ante.  Somehow, despite the howling noise and scratchy edges, "Sand" really hits close to my early Black Sabbath brain-spots; admittedly not for the whole song, but for a pretty substantial chunk, making it more than worthy of a smoky jam-out session.
The title track picks up from there, followed by "Trees" and "Wolf Lord", and if the names don't tip you off to how heavy the band keeps things, you'll just have to pick up your own copy.  Sludge, noise, doom, and a healthy amount of experimentation come together with a style both technical and casual, blending them so smoothly into gritty grooves that you'll have to listen over and over again to figure out how they did it, and even then, you'll still be wondering.  Veneficae will be released May 1st, though you can go ahead and pre-order through Lost Pilgrims; vinyl will be limited to 500 copies, so don't sleep on this one if you like your metal dirty, noisy, and heavy as Hell.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Acid Bath, Rorcal, Ulver, Grey Widow, Dopelord


Thursday, March 26, 2015

In Constant Upheaval...

GRIPE - La Revolucion Permanente EP (2014)

GRIPE are by no means a new band, as the Argentinian group has been putting out releases for roughly a decade, but here on their latest EP, they show that their energy is just as high as ever.  Things start off on a high note, with "Elementos de Elevacion", at 7+ minutes, taking the first slot and the honor of longest track to be found on La Revolucion Permanente.  A roaring wave of feedback introduces the song, trailing off into an electronic burbling quickly superceded by firm and earthy rock chords and drums, while an interesting phasing or flanging effect on the vocals gives them an otherworldly vibe.  There's surprises around every bend of the song's structure, with pit-falls and chittering synths serving as side-notes to the powerful main melody, and the mood is practically boiling with drastic swings.
After that monumental starter, the band has virtually unlimited options for how to proceed, and their choice is to drift right into what could easily be an extension of "Elementos", as "Sublimato" holds onto the heavy end while introducing a free-floating approach to the vocal passages and some thick-packed guitar stompage.  "Nana" takes a little break for subdued guitar as the drums lay out their attack plan, then the rest of the band engages for a fantastically crunchy psych groove while the vocalist chants the name of the song.
The EP's title track steps in from there to do duty as an interlude, with its sub-2-minute run-time essentially acting as the eye and edge of the hurricane before spinning into the closer, "Bromuro de Pancuronio".  Though it has a slower tempo than the preceding material, "Bromuro" still gets down without restraint, and works as a damn good finale, winding things down but staying energized.
For a band with a decade's worth of experience behind it, GRIPE still sound amazingly inventive and enthusiastic, pushing themselves to try out new combinations and approaches to the fusion of styles informing their music.  If you haven't heard of them before now (like myself, I have to admit), then La Revolucion Permanente makes for a great point to jump into this hard-working group's catalog.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Manthrass, Lucuma, Craneón, Bruto, Persona


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Long Walk

Soundcrawler ~ The Dead-End Host (2015)

While lots of people got in on the band's debut release "The Sandcrawler" back in 2012, they've just made their triumphant return last month with "The Dead-End Host". France's Soundcrawler can be described as the feral love child of Alice In Chains and Dozer, switching from heavy riffing to melodic and expansive guitar work that manage to create a sweeping realm of stoner rock. "The Dead End Host" manages to cram nine of these on to one album, each one offering up a little something different but never lacking in the main areas. Well put together songs lead to well put together albums, and that's exactly what happened here. The songs all go together so well that it's difficult to choose just one for listening, you find yourself constantly starting from track one and listening all the way through. "The Dead-End Host" opens up with the video single "Raiders", and the five and a half minute soundtrack to a pursuit through the post apocalyptic desert. After a slow guitar build up during the intro, it slams into overdrive around the one a half minute mark. Like nailing the accelerator in a sports car, you're forced back into your seat by the sudden blast of fuzz and drums. The vocal performance on this track, like most of the others, is one of the main things to invoke that memory of Alice in Chains. While they do share some musical similarities at times, that vocal resemblance is uncanny at certain points. This track never reaches that same energy as they display in that fuzz blast at the beginning, but that's okay. There's eight more chances, and they absolutely nail every one of them. You can acquaint yourself with their newest album over at their bandcamp, where you can check out their 2012 debut also, if you haven't already and pick up CD copies of it all too.

For Fans Of; Half Gramme of Soma, Truckfighters, Karma To Burn

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dwell In Shadows...


CULTO's first release (CULTO) came out in 2013, with the tracks "Culto I" and "Culto II" making up its half-hour run of doom-laden, high-feedback drone metal.  Now the Italian duo is back again with CULTO II, featuring five minutes less material, but making up for that by building it as a single track ("Culto III", if you were having trouble guessing).
Things start off quiet and subtle, with a single tone rising, drifting, and shifting as it grows in volume and intensity, gradually being joined by additional presences which swell up from beneath the edge of hearing.  Around the 5-minute mark, some synth keyboarding slips in with slow and somber steps, joined soon after by a heavier bass reverb, with everything maintaining the anticipation-building restraint as the song continues to climb.  A few more minutes, and measured acoustic guitar is combed into the folds of the sonic arrangements, imparting the sinister atmosphere of black metal's more folk-driven interludes, minus the screaming.
Things continue in this vein, with the underlying synths growing more pronounced in their hissing and sine-wave undulations while the guitar provides a steady progression until fading off into a cloud of nebulous feedback and trailing tones, and finally into silence.  Though less outwardly metal than CULTO's previous release, the doom is still palpable, and the music makes for quite the experience when focused on in a darkened room.  Whether used as a palette cleanser or in preparation for more visceral music, "Culto III" is an interesting piece which benefits from the contrast it provides in any comparison.  Something best suited for cold and dark nights.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Sunn O))), Sutekh Hexen, Ulver, Bhutan, Bill Laswell


Monday, March 23, 2015

Rituals of Doom

Doomraiser ~ Reverse (Passaggio Inverso) (2015)

 These Italian doomsters have a long, glorious history of some great albums in the realm of doom metal. Their newest album since 2011's "Mountains of Madness" was released on Blood Rock Records. It really doesn't stray too very far from they tried and true sound they've perfected over the years, not that it needed to. They've always had that right mixture of melody and heaviness, so that something massively heavy can still have the haunting, resonant qualities of something that would usually be much more melodic and softer in style. It's a balancing act, and they manage to balance it in just the right ways. While the lead off track "Addiction" is the video single and quite good, I really got into the next to last track "In Winter". For this one they crawl along slower than usual in the beginning, with the megalithic riff dragging out that feeling of despair to new depths. It doesn't stay that way forever, switching over to a crushing mid-tempo riff about a third of the way through. And even manages to kick it up another notch afterwards, around the halfway point. Falling back into the slow crawl from the beginning, it doesn't take very long for a screaming guitar solo to fall into place. With the song being just over nine minutes long, the transitions are seamless and don't feel rushed. With the album being produced and mixed by Billy Anderson himself, you know it's properly done and sounds great. You can pick up the digital version for just a few bucks off of Blood Rock's bandcamp or check out the Doomraiser's store for all of physical copy needs, including some vinyl options.

For Fans Of; Saint Vitus, Black Sabbath, Paradise Lost

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Wild And Free...

Mares Of Diomedes - Mares Of Diomedes EP (2015)

Mares Of Diomedes is a new group from Ireland, comprised of two brothers who've previously played in separate bands while jamming at home together, and who have finally decided to see what they can come up with as an officially unified group.  The four tracks assembled for their first EP amount to just under half an hour of sludgy doom, and right from the start, the brothers make it clear that they know how to effectively use fuzz and walls of bass, while the drums are carefully mixed to avoid being drowned out by the low-end power.
The first three tracks ("Under Burning Sun", "The Messiah", and "The Flood") aim for similar territory, providing plenty of opportunities for listeners to engage in that distinctive doom style of slow head-banging broken up by harder and/or faster thrashing, with the vocals staying raw and throaty.  On the last track, "Tooth and Nail", the brothers really pull out the stops, giving it a run-time about twice as long as any of the other songs so that each section can get full attention.  Rolling drums, a thick under-current of bass, and a truly doom-driven melody bring the monster to life, with so much fervor animating it that I can't help but imagine what an experience it would be live.
For a first release, even considering the musical experience both members already have, it's a doozy.  Heavy and dirty, well-mixed without losing the grit, the band gets to show off their range but makes no bones about their commitment to doom and sludge.  Very solid stuff, and a cinch for ensuring attention to the band in all of their future efforts.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Coffin Torture, Attalla, The Sleer, Weed Priest, Blind Samson