Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ready To Ride...

Hesperian Death Horse - Mrtav (2013)

Hesperian Death Horse's debut album is a sprawling affair, with four track that add up to nearly an hour's worth of violent, nasty, chew-your-own-arm-off black metal, sludge, and doom. A significant portion of the material plays with post-rock conventions, though they're careful to never let it slide into the self-indulgence that plagues so much of that material; instead, they keep it tightly-focused, employing the quiet and melodic interludes just to make the rest of it seem that much more dangerous.
Despite the acerbic nature of the music, there's also a surprising lushness to it, thanks to the time and effort put into it through every step of its creation. Listening to it, you can appreciate how much they must have labored over getting the arrangement and production just right, and that attention to detail pays off in spades, even as they howl and thunder through the tracks. This group from Croatia has an enormous talent for balancing the violent, gritty side of their music with the smoother, more subdued side, but even better, they put that talent to work to elevate the music, instead of building the songs around a bunch of 'look what I can do' gimmickry, as a lesser band might be tempted to do.
Really, I don't feel as though I can say enough good things about the work put into this album, so I'll just say that it's fantastic work, it's an incredible debut, I'm desperate for this to get a physical release so that I can import a copy, and leave it at that, at least until they roll out their next album.  Damn good stuff.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Earthling, Black Magician, Amort, Bell Witch, Ulver


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pronounced "Twelve Boar"

XII Boar ~ "Truck Stop Baby" (2014)

English three piece, XII Boar (see title) should need no introduction. But for the new kids on the block, they play an extra sleazy mix of Southern and Stoner Metal, and for a southern stoner through and through it's one of the best things going right now. With fat, sludgey riffs, a punching bass line, and ferocious drumming they lay down a thick groove, and then blast it loud and proud, the way it should be. 
The title track for the vinyl only release of "Truckstop Baby" is a Stoner Metal work of art, with seriously heavy southern styled riffs, and a chorus about those lovely lot lizards. It opens with a solitary Blues guitar piece, but is quickly joined by that heavy bass riff and those swinging drums, and the whole thing gives way to the gritty, dirt road vocals that pack a punch, reminding me of Artimus Pyledriver. On the flip side, you have a mellow, almost Blues revision of the lead off track on their debut offering "XII". This version of "Train Wreck (Slight Return)" is a good bit slower but they still managed to retain a nice, head bobbin' groove without the aggressiveness of the the original version. The song has a Down like quality to it in places, mostly in the chorus, but the overall tone is still uniquely XII Boar.
As I stated earlier, this is a vinyl only release, so you need to head over to their store and pick up a copy of the slick purple 7" that the songs come on, complete with a CD and trucker girl sticker.

For Fans Of; Down, Artimus Pyledriver, Orange Goblin, Weedeater, Crowbar

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ride The Sky Into Space...

Space Chaser - Watch The Skies (2014)

From the first blistering riff assault, it's clear to hear what kind of music Space Chaser digs. Thrash with a '90s pedigree seeps from their core, with drums, guitar, bass, and vocals all rocketing forward at extreme speeds. The songs are quick and punchy, with plenty of opportunities for head-banging and circle pits to erupt. That unrelenting energy does make the songs a bit difficult to differentiate at times, but it also works in the band's favor, turning the entire album into one wild freak-out of thrash. The album is also loaded with countless references to B-movie sci-fi and horror, from the Puppet Master-derived “Decapitron” to the frenetic “Saucer Attack”, “Predator” and “Undead Revenge”. If you have a longing for ye olden days of thrash with a sense of fun around it, be sure to check out Space Chaser for a taste of that time, unfiltered and undiminished; the Germany-based group will be releasing Watch The Skies through This Charming Man Records for you to get your gnarly little hands on a copy this May.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Holy Grail, early Megadeth, Exodus, Exciter, Dr. Living Dead!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tearing Up The Night...

Aleph Null - Nocturnal (2014)

Nocturnal starts off with a squeal of feedback that lasts just a second before they pull the floor out and drop the listener into a pit of heavy resonance. It's a neat trick and a great introduction, and one that does an excellent job of setting the stage for the rest of the album's churning waves and swirling clouds of smoke and foggy haze. To say that it's heavy psychedelia would be a serious understatement, and they do a great job of blending '70s-inspired touches and progressions into the knee-crushing weight of modern heaviness with the amps turned up and fuzzed out. There's a nice subtle menace to the track titles, which include memorable names like “Muzzle of a Sleeping God”, “Backward Spoken Rhymes”, and the implicit violence of “Roman Nails”.
Along the course of the album, the doom elements begin to stand out more and more, gradually taking over the album to culminate in the 15-minute, two-part title track, which opens with some subdued chords that sound like they should be playing over footage of a funeral at night. On its way to that destination, the hard grooving, treacle-thick breakdowns, and massive drum rolls serve up more than enough tasty, chunky, and well-baked doom for any heavy psych or stoner metal fan to fill their ears, several times over. Excellent stuff, don't miss out on this one.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Celophys, Olde Growth, Necronomicon (Brazil), Alice In Chains, Acid King


Saturday, April 19, 2014

With A Demon's Horns...

DEMON HEAD - Demo 2014 (2014)

An improved version of the self-titled first cassette from Demon Head (or DEMON HEAD, as they always seem to write it), Demo 2014 still has roughness around its edges, but underneath the fuzz (which you could experience for yourself, if they hadn't already sold every last copy of their 100-cassette release) there's a bluesy traditional doom that drips with old-school D&D flavor and love for heavy metal. Luckily, you can still check out the four tracks (“Undertaker”, “Ride the Wilderness”, “III”, and “Demon Head”) over at Caligari Records' BandCamp page, which should give you a good idea of why you should keep your ears to the ground for any info on their first studio album or EP.  Tasty stuff.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Danzig, Black Sabbath, Salem's Pot, Uncle Acid, Magic Circle


Friday, April 18, 2014

Cinders And Salt...

Slug Salt Lava - First - Promo (2014)

Slug Salt Lava's first full release (after the single for “Fallout”) finds the one-man band from Istanbul churning out some demented and heavy instrumental sludge, perfectly tarry and low-pitched. After the quick opening track of “Dust”, things slide into slow and low mode for the following of “Fallout”, the revived power of “Cult”, and the final rise of “Rejuvenation”. Each of the tracks sounds like it was recorded in a bomb shelter, letting the echoing bass and careful percussion roar to life and snake their way into your ears to give your brains a good rattle. There's no doubt that this project has legs, so give our sample track a listen, then scoot on over to the BandCamp page to get yourself a copy and show Ersin (the bloke responsible for all the mad doom) your support for his endeavours.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bongripper, Bell Witch, Salem's Pot, Sleep, Major Kong


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Let's Get Stoned...

Fuzz Manta ~ The Stonewolf (2013)

I'm not a big prog fan. On the whole, it's all a little bit disjointed and pretentious for my taste. I think my dislike stems back to my childhood, when I would be played Yes ad nauseum. Not that I can't appreciate the genre, hell, I love a good organ bashing (oh er!), but I'm a busy man dammit, where in my life is there space for a 10-minute Wakeman solo!? But I'm getting off track here. My point was going to be that Fuzz Manta are, for all intense and purpose a prog rock outfit. There are a myriad of other influences that shine through but their roots seem to be planted firmly within the early 70's progressive movement. I mean, just take a glance at the opening/title track, it's an absolute monster! Weighing in at a huge 34 minutes in length, they could easily give early Genesis a run for their money if it ever came to some kind of Back To The Future-like live stand off.
That being said, it was a little be of a slog for me to get through. Technically, it's absolutely remarkable, just like the rest of the album, but half and hour was a bit much. I think that's my only criticism with this album, and let's face it, that's wholly down to my own personal preference. If you do happen to share the same notion, then fear not, because from side B onwards the track length is quartered and The Stonewolf basically serves as a big unashamed monolith of spectacular talent.
Where many bands will incorporate a number of genres, then fleet between them throughout the recording, Fuzz Manta have gone to the extent of overlapping and merging them on top of one another. What's the difference you may ask? Well, it's one thing to break out a classic rock lick then suddenly ramp the pace up and go all southern rock, but it's a completely different ball game to be playing a southern rock riff then have someone playing an organ over the top. That takes a musical ear that very few bands out there actually possess. None the less, the whole amalgamation of different styles makes for one hell of a psychedelic mind bender of an album. Eclectic isn't the word. At times I actually had to check back on my iTunes to make sure that it hadn't skipped to something else while I was listening. From classic rock to stoner rock via the world of psych, space, funk, prog and even at times lounge, the Manta really take you on a journey. I've yet to actually exploit the whole album while tripping, but I can just tell that it's so textured and far out that I'm bound to find it a hell of an experience.
Do yourself a favour though and treat yourself to the vinyl, its undeniably the way this thing was meant to be heard. Float on over to our friends at Bilocation Records and give your ears the joy they deserve!
~ Jay

For Fans Of; Kadavar, King Crimson, Baby Woodrose, Jefferson Airplane, PJ Harvey


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Serbian Hell Sizzles...

Hazarder / Hesperian Death Horse - The Electric Wizard (2014)

This split doubles as a tribute to the Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla (whose surname is used for both tracks), so it's fitting that it comes from a record label in his homeland, though both of the contributing bands are from the neighboring country of Croatia. Hazarder's side of the split is a thick and sludgy (but up-tempo) cloud of noise, heaving to and fro like a ship caught in a magnetized storm, with the drums providing thunderclaps, an electrical sizzling provided by the guitar, and the vocals serving as ominous rumblings of further violence.
Hesperian Death Horse's side begins with a quick jolt of piano-driven melody, before introducing agonized black metal vocals into the proceedings. From there, it's a slow, crushing grind of sound, like a steamroller turning skulls and skeletons into pavement. It's nasty-sounding and virulent in all the right ways, and they shift through a number of modes in the nine minutes of their Tesla track, packing violence and agony into every moment. Hats off to both bands, and their excellent, abrasive work, and here's hoping that PMK Records gives this a physical release in the near future.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Moloch, Hate, Open Tomb, Earthling, Weapon