Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Grown Dark And Large...

The Nepalese Temple Ball - Arbor (2015)

With their new hour-long album, The Nepalese Temple Ball make a thoroughly impressive debut, establishing their musical character with songs that go deep while staying sharp, coaxing swampy bass and piercing guitar-work into a strong alliance from the opening salvo into the following siege.  The vocals likewise mix it up with multiple methods, though the usual is a strident stab somewhere between a growl and a blackened howl, while the drums provide what may be the album's strongest source of variety, flipping in an instant from one toothy rhythm to the next basher.  There's also some subtle synth effects and a few other electronic polishes, though always with a restraint suitable to the songs.
As well as each part stands when considered on its own, it's in listening to the way the band joins them all together that the gold really shows.  They're careful to give everyone their share of the song, without making it seem divided or over-structured, though the twists of the songs suggest long work figuring out the best flow.  Trying to figure out which song to include as the streaming track was more difficult than usual, as you might guess from my gushing this far, but given how good a hook the surging power of "Desert Baron" had in me, it seemed like one of the top options for introduction.  Give it a listen, get the whole album, listen to it start to finish, and see where you're at then; me, I'm giving this an early pick for the year-end Top 20.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Nelly Olsen, Bell Witch, Heavydeath, Acid Bath, Wolf Blood


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Oncoming Traffic

Left Lane Cruiser ~ Dirty Spliff Blues (2015)

 Indiana's Left Lane Cruiser is back on the road, this time with the new album "Dirty Spliff Blues", and as you could of guessed, smoking copious amounts of grass is encouraged.  This isn't your typical blues or stoner rock record, rather a fine mix of the two styles, towing that line over the entire record. Steel guitars and dirt road vocals give way to roaring bouts of guitar distortion and even some fuzz here and there, making for some damn fine, swamptastic tunes. Of the ten tracks on this stomper of an album, my favorite is the middle child. With a title like "Heavy Honey", it doesn't take much to figure out the lyrical subject matter, but that doesn't make the song any less great. Opening up with a twangy, distorted riff, you're immediately infected with the sort of boogie these guys lay down consistently. Seriously, the riff is catchier than herpes. It takes about thirty seconds for the dirty and raw vocals to kick in, adding their own sort of country twang to the mix. Around the halfway point a guitar solo starts up just before the whole thing takes off, launching into a blistering stoner rock tangent before things slow back down and come full circle, with the song trailing off much the same way it started up.
While the album was released on June 16th, there are still plenty of vinyl options to get your pick of, including classic black, and some limited orange (100) and starburst (150) vinyls. And for all of you folks not addicted to vinyl, you can still grab CDs or the digital copy from iTunes.

For Fans Of; Midnight Ghost Train, Fatso Jetson, Scott H. Biram

Monday, June 29, 2015

Eloquent Music for Lovers

Nightslug ~ Loathe (2015)

Mixing bouts of feedback and brutally heavy sludge riffs, Germany's Nightslug treads that line between noise and music at times. At points, melding the two into a sonic monstrosity that completely pummels the listener.  Their sophomore album "Loathe" kicks off with the track "Vile Pigs", and within seconds you're accosted by piercing feedback and a solitary bass part, while Otis from "House of 1,000 Corpses" rants in the background. After about thirty seconds the drums crash their way in, followed quickly by a crushing guitar riff. The snarled vocal performance comes up after that, falling in perfectly with the bass heavy swamp groove that permeates the entire track, and album really. Around the three minute mark things begin to slow up just a little, with some spacey and slightly psychedelic feedback pitches. It doesn't last all that long though before the guitar and growling vocals stop all of that in its tracks. The main riff reprises for just a short period before things winds down with a long bout of feedback before leading off into the next song. And all of that goes down in less than five minutes, four and a half to be precise. With the longest of the seven tracks only coming in at just under eight minutes, all the songs have quick durations, probably a result of the band's punk and hardcore background. That keeps things moving at a steady pace though, it never gets bogged down in anything, and nothing feels unnecessary in the music. This is definitely an "all thriller, no filler" kind of sludge metal album. And to make things as easy as possible for you to get your hands on the vinyl copies of this gnarly slab of sludge, it's been co-released by three labels, Broken Limbs Records(US), Lost Pilgrims Records (FRA), and Dry Cough Records (UK). You can't go wrong with that many options, or just grab a digital copy from bandcamp if that's more your speed.

 For Fans Of; EyeHateGod, Cough, Fister

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Burst Loose From Hell...

No Trust - The Cycle (2015)

After the late-2013 release of their first LP, Unfound, the sludgy duo of No Trust buckled down to work out some new material, and this resulting album will be released in just two more days.  What you'll hear once you get the chance to grab your own copy and fire it up is a highly aggressive blending of metal styles, with an emphasis on sludgy death underscored by doom-accepting pushes of (very) heavy melody and big bass presence (and to my ears, some blackened harshness also joins the fray).  For a two-piece band, No Trust generate an impressive amount of noisy belligerence, with cascades of percussion and grimy guitar serrations tearing away almost as soon as you hit play.  Meanwhile, the vocals come in with a savage assault, though the band has a good ear for when to back off, ensuring enough restraint to keep the impact of their vicious guttural nature landing firm.
No Trust show a strong command of their music in all of the different ratios into which their genre-mixing fury is distilled, covering the 'seize you by the neck and shake you' blitzes, the 'let's fuse your spinal segments' slow sludge grinds, and the 'gnash your teeth to bloody pegs' abandonment with damn good commitment to pushing each form out to well-deserved extremes.  There's very little of that inadequacy you can get when a band too firmly rooted in one style tries to throw in an failed experiment past their ability/familiarity to land; No Trust pull off all the varieties with fire in their veins and a death-grip on the execution.  In short, if you like your sludge with a big splash of death (or if you don't, but have any amount of curiosity about that combo), get yourself a copy of The Cycle.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Weapon, Trees, Earthling, Uroboros, Hesperian Death Horse


Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Comeback Kids

Arenna ~ Given to Emptiness (2015)

 This being the band's newest release since 2011, "Given to Emptiness" is more of a thinking man's stoner rock album. Given to spaced out, hypnotic jams instead of loud and brash party songs. While both styles have their high points, this is the route they chose, and it was the right one for them. Arenna's latest effort is forty-seven minutes of pure stoner bliss, and while the ten minute opener is a pretty long track to kick things off, I don't think it really would of worked as well anywhere else. With the band moving in between crushing stoner rock, and a more mellow, psychedelic styling so seamlessly, the album can almost feel like one long song, or maybe that's just how lost you find yourself once you really let the sound envelop you. When that happens, those forty-seven minutes seem like seven minutes, time becomes a foreign concept. Some press I've seen about this album have praised "Drums for Sitting Bull", praise it does deserve as it's a great song, it just wasn't my pick of the litter. For my personal taste, "The Pursuer" tended to push all the right buttons. With the first half of the track focusing on the small nuances of the soundscape they're trying to immerse you in, and creating atmosphere. They use the second half to fill that atmosphere up with powerful riffs and a massive vocal performance, in a huge crescendo on top of stellar bass and drum rhythms that are a powerful underlying current over the course of the whole album. The album made it's official release May 7th on Nasoni Records, so it's already been out for a little while, but you can still pick up vinyl and cds directly from the band's webstore.

For Fans Of; Abrahma, Greenleaf, Electric Moon

Promising Rough Drafts

Stone Chief ~ High Noon at the Saloon (single) (2015)

 This is pre-production song from one of the latest North Carolina start ups, Stone Chief. "High Noon at the Saloon" is a psych rock track, with plenty of heavy. Like I said, it's pre-production stuff and a little rough around the edges by the nature of things, but all the ideas are there, and they're solid in the execution. With an almost ten minute run time, the song is in no hurry to get where it's going. Opening up with some ringing guitar notes and cymbal taps, it takes a minute for a the riff to really fill out and some more drums to drop in. After a guitar solo and some vocals moving between clean and guttural, things start falling into a riff and moving along at a steady clip. That is, until things start slowing back down within the last three or four minutes, treading the line with psychedelic doom metal for a couple of minutes there before things wind down. You can actually pick this up along with a couple of other pre-production songs off of their bandcamp. After listening to the other two songs, I'm definitely interested in hearing this complete first effort when it's done.

For Fans Of; Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Funeral Horse

Friday, June 26, 2015

See You On The Other Side

Grusom ~ Grusom (2015)

 I discovered Denmark's Grusom early this year with their "DIY Demo", and even though the production on there is a little rough, it made a big impression and got more than a few listens. I wasn't the only one though, about a month after the demo's release the always excellent Kozmik Artifactz signed the band to put out their first album. This debut full length from them made an even bigger impression on me though, taking all the great ideas and songs from the demo, building on them and adding more tracks in the studio to drop one of the best albums this year. With swinging guitar and keyboard rhythms, it brings to mind The Doors from the very beginning of things, but they go even darker and heavier. Like if Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek decided to join Black Sabbath instead of starting their own band. Once things get started the swinging keyboard rhythms make every song jump out, and the dual guitars can go from mellow into a headbanging riff at the drop of a hat, keeping the listener on their toes from track to track. In addition to that, the singer's raw, melodic wailing on top of the music will draw you in if nothing else does. With nine songs that can stand on their own from top to bottom, it's almost impossible to pick a favorite. Some rank a little higher than others, but they're all so damn good. I will say that the first single "The Journey", and the preceding track on the album "Cold Stone" did get quite a bit of repeat play. The two flow so well together, it could almost be one epic song. Like a river, the whole thing ebbs and flows, with calm sections broken up by rolling rapids that make toes tap and heads bang. If you like your heavy rock bluesy, grim, and not just like anything else, this is the band for you. If you like heavy rock, this is the band for you. If you simply like music, this is the band for you. All you fine folks can really hear right now is the single, but pre-orders start July 5th at the Kozmik Artifactz store for the July 31st release date. This is one of those records that is not to be missed this year.

For Fans Of; Dax Riggs, Groggy, Danzig, Lucifer, Orchid

The Rising Sun

Red Mountains ~ Sun (single) (2015)

Red Mountains has given us a glimpse of their debut album that's coming out in September on Nasoni Records. The first single, called "Sun". The sound is somewhere in the neighborhood of stoner/psych/desert rock, but judging from this track, there's definitely some doom overtones there too. Kicking off with a slow and stomping riff that sounds like it's off of a Saint Vitus album, it takes a couple of minutes but things heat up and turn into a stoner rock fuzz fest for a minute there. Kind of like the difference between wandering the wilderness in the middle of snow storm, and being in a convertible, blasting down a desert highway at a hundred miles an hour. It probably seems like they have a lot going on, and they do. Not in such a way to make the song feel over-crowded, though, rather moving in between all of the different tones instead of trying to pile them all on at once, and doing all of them well. It didn't stay in one place too long though, so the track is a big tease, but I'm betting the album will be the easy older sister.

For Fans Of; Fuzz, Black Sabbath, Sleep