Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Pronounced: heh-vee-as-fu*k

Shellfin ~ Cities Without Names (2015)

The Australia five piece of Shellfin are back at it, this time with the jewel of a stoner rock album called "Cities Without Names". Using huge array of samples, twenty ton riffs, burly vocals, crack drumming, rolling bass lines, and some interesting sounds in the interim, they put it all together and make it a perfect cocktail of heaviness. I know it's still early, but this is something I definitely see making a few year end lists around the stoner rock community. I've listened to "Cities Without Names" once a day or more since I got the digital version a couple weeks ago, and I'm still discovering new things to love about the album. From everything about the hilarious "She is a Robot" to the classic "Werewolf in London" type howls that are right at home on the single "Smokin' Gun" and even the dark, sludgy overtones of "Tomorrow Never Arrives", all of the differences meld and the songs flow together perfectly. While I can't simply pick a favorite track off of this one, I've been playing "Down to Zero" a good bit tonight, so I'm going to talk about that one. One of the shorter tracks at only three and a half minutes, it opens up with some roaring drums and distorted guitars. It takes a few moments for the gruff vocals to drop in, but when they do the song manages to pick up even more steam as it thunders along and you band your head repeatedly. As you get into the second half and towards the end you start to get weird sound effects mixed in with the assault of heavy, some jungle noises, a countdown, and a quick sample from "The Big Lebowski" make it through before it's back to business with the band blasting through the last little bit of the track. With the official release being this past Sunday, there still plenty of time to get in on the action and check out one of Australia's finest. You can pick up "Cities Without Names" for a "name your price" deal over on bandcamp, and even if you only spend a couple bucks on music all year, make it this gem.

For Fans Of; Monster Magnet, Orange Goblin, Mammoth Mammoth

Monday, March 02, 2015

Two Things in this World

Wasted Theory ~ Death and Taxes (2014)

If I didn't know where these guys were from, Delaware sure as hell wouldn't be my first guess.  Probably not even the top forty-nine.  After hearing the eight tracks from their 2014 debut, geographical location is pretty irrelevant.  They got the soul instead of the zip code, and that's the most important part.  From the crunchy, southern-ized riffs that are a mainstay from the first minute to the last, and vocals like a sun baked gravel road, that fall in with the songs seamlessly.  You'll be hard pressed to find a bad section in a song much less a bad song.  You may find a song you're not as fond of as the others, but you still won't be able to call it a "bad song".  Over the course of a couple weeks and several listens my favorite track changed a few different times, ultimately I settled on "Hellfire Ritual".  Leaning just a bit more toward the stoner rock side of things than the other tracks, if the Truckfighters and Orange Goblin would lock themselves in a studio drinking whiskey and doing bong rips, this is the song they'd record.  Opening up with a fuzz laden guitar piece, it launches into a heavy fuzz and bass laden jam for a few seconds before the dirt road vocals make their appearance.  In between all of that, the screaming guitar solos and the thunderous drums rhythms, the groove is perpetual and ever lasting, at least for those five minutes, then it's on to a new groove.  With so many awesome tracks on one album, it's worth your time to just go stream it over on their bandcamp, because hearing is believing.

 For Fans Of; XII Boar, Thieveing Coyote, Kyuss, Orange Goblin, Truckfighters

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Bleeding Ear Canals...

Keeper / Sea Bastard - Split (2015)

Bringing together the US and UK, this six-label split provides one track each from Keeper and Sea Bastard, but stretches them out to over half an hour of sludgy doom.  Keeper goes first, with "777", a massive growler of a track featuring vocals like iron filings in a blender over the deep bass and guitar harmonizing, and the slow-crashing drums which provide punctuation to the drawn-out measures.  It's blackened sludge of extremely high quality, the kind that makes you feel like black frost should be creeping out of your speakers with each passing minute.
After a little background chatter, Sea Bastard's side starts up "Astral Rebirth", launching into a 20-minute dirge of metal and drone, voiced by an ominous growl that ramps up to savage howling alongside the strings as the energy mutates during the course of the journey.
It's two monster tracks that really go well together, and with supplies of the LP down to about a fifth of what was pressed, you'll want to act quickly to snag yourself one of these heavy slabs.  There's not much more that needs to be said, so if you're the type to get off on punishing your ears and nerves with some of the weightiest and dirtiest sludge out yet this year, get to it!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Trees, Fange, Coffin Torture, Deuil, Blind Samson


Obey Your Wrath...

Crowhurst - Crowhurst (2015)

With a countless number of appearances on splits, EPs, and collaborations, and more than a few concept albums, Crowhurst have finally released a self-titled full-length solo LP.  To mark the occasion, they've taken elements from doom, industrial, sludge, black metal, and a few other sources, shaken them all together, and poured out the resulting sticky mixture as a dark and brooding album.  The production walks a fine line between gloss and grime, consistently being adjusted to best fit the material of the moment, and the gloom produced by the band is similarly balanced between aggression and melancholy.  Vocals emerge as shredded screams and suffocated whispers, melodies shift from reflective calm to maddened thrashing, and the audio dynamics practically bungee-jump from highs into lows, and back again.
It's also worth noting that the album effectively avoids one of the largest dangers of industrial doom, that being an over-reliance on automation.  On the whole, the music feels primarily organic, with the electronic details serving as an unsettling enhancement instead of a cybernetic crutch.  All the dirty sound you might expect from blackened doom is found intact, and the occasional howls beyond human capability only emphasizes the strength of the underlying song-writing.
The album will be out April 10th, released on vinyl by Ivory Antler Recordings (it'll also be available on 8-track, for all of you obscure format hounds), and there's talk of a companion remix album yet to come.  For atmospheric and haunting noise, it's quite a treat, so you might want to go ahead and set aside a few bills to pick up a copy once it arrives.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Skin Chamber, Thergothon, Gnaw Their Tongues, Fleshpress, Ulver


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Carve The Swine...

Melmak - Pig Songs EP (2015)

Coming in close to a year after their last EP, Melmak are back once again with Pig Songs, a noisy collection of five abrasive sludgy tracks.  "Live Dead" opens things up with a squeal of feedback into a wall of bass-heavy resonance, keeping a gnarly riff going while dipping into crunchy break-downs.  It's a very satisfying return from Melmak, as they've kept their style tight while still working in some new approaches, and it makes for some compulsive head-banging.  Speaking of "Compulsion", that's the title of track two, which continues the nasty vibes by way of a bass-tapping intro, feedback-layering, and an eruption into wicked off-beat rhythms and gurgling growls.
From there, it's on into "Abyss", which bleeds together the rougher vocals with a spacy drawl and cuts the rhythms into even trippier passages.  "Suffering Is A Pleasure" continues in a similar but more compact vein, drifting into the crusty "Piggery" to wrap things up with some sonic disintegration.
It's good to hear that Melmak have built on their previous wickedness with plenty of style, and just enough polish to really bring out the details, so sludge fans who haven't already had a chance to get familiar with this duo have a perfect opportunity to jump in now, and dig into the past stuff once they've given their ears a good dosing.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Open Tomb, Moloch, Acid Bath, Fudge Tunnel, Meth Drinker


Find Your Center...

Spiralism - Chakras (2015)

Though they've been around since 2010, Chakras marks the first album in Spiralism's catalog, and the 4+ years spent developing the music found here have clearly paid off.  "Drowning High" starts the album off with a collection of humming, revving, and other electrical noises, before the guitar and drums hesitantly emerge with a sparse melody a couple of minutes into the the track; after another minute, things are more fully fleshed-out, with things building further from there.  It's an impressive demonstration of the band's way with song-writing, and as an introduction, it leaves little room for doubt that they've come to impress their listeners, twisting into a variety of forms (metal, ambient, rock, psychedelic, and a pinch of drone, just to name a few) over the course of its 12-minute run.
With an opener like that, you've got to have something with real punch to follow it up and sustain that high, and Spiralism delivers that with "Sophia", a fuzzy growler which allows the band to unleash rock of a more straight-forward nature while keeping enough experimentation alive to maintain their genre-bending momentum.  Spiralism shows their confidence yet again with the next track ("Weighing of the Heart"), which jumps right back up to the 12-minute mark, front-loading the album with songs that would be ear-marked for the big finish by lesser bands.  It's like that for the rest of the album, with "The Fool", "Dust Devils", "Gnosis", and "Passages of Nuit" all breaking the 7-minute mark, and filling their durations with material that's just as fresh and varied as the amazing opening.
It's hard to imagine how Spiralism might follow up on such a strong debut, or how long that follow-up will be cooking away before release, but that just means that you'll have enough time to dig into Chakras' complex arrangements and familiarize yourself with their ins, outs, and mobius strip-like twists.  No word yet on a vinyl release, but with any luck, fans of wax will soon be able to pick up this monster and wear their needles thin; until then, grab yourself a digital copy from Inverse Records and let the learning begin.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Earth Drive, Lucuma, Mondo Drag, Planes of Satori, Domadora


Friday, February 27, 2015

Rusty And Crusty...

Veuve - Veuve EP (2015)

Veuve are a new band from Italy, here with their debut EP, and on it, the trio pour out a few barrels of sludge mixed with the more laid-back attitude of stoner rock.  Starting off with the lengthy "Private Drowning", Veuve grind out bass riffs and slow drum propulsion, bringing in a truly dirty-sounding guitar for extra effect once the basics are set, and keeping up a good stomping pace for most of the song.  The style set by the first track remains the standard for the rest of the EP, with leisurely pacing and some tasty guitar embellishments riding over regular bass hum.  There's not much in the way of earworms, but the material is played with enthusiasm and a promising dedication to keeping things going once they get the ball rolling.
As a first step for the band, it's decent, but my main complaint is that they don't get wild enough with it.  It feels like the band is having a difficult time balancing their influences, as the guitar solos rarely make the leap into imaginative finger-shredding or sweet tonality that you might hope for from the stoner rock elements (although the short 'n' sweet jamminess of "Dov'eri Tu Vent'anni Fa?" shows that they've got that potential, when they don't overthink or over-extend the songs), and they don't really do enough wallowing in filth or feedback to hold on to the sludge fans.  Veuve might be best served by dropping the more repetitive, drudgy sludge side of things and fully embracing the warmer grooves they have lurking under the muck, as it's the moments where they seem like they're having fun (instead of putting on a dour front) where their music seems to really come alive.  All in all, despite the rough edges, it's not a bad start, and the band shows enough sides to their musical personality to suggest that it would be worth the time to keep an eye and ear out for further developments.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Crypt Trip, Moon Curse, Brimstone Coven, Testosteroll, Sonora Ritual


Bang Your Head...

Sata Kaskelottia - Sata Kaskelottia (2015)

Breaking out with their self-titled debut, the Finnish crew of Sata Kaskelottia have come out swinging with rough and gruff rock, delivered in their native tongue.  The stomping tempos and savage rhythms fuse well with the large-sounding and well-produced songs, and there's enough bar rock grit to keep things feeling authentically crusty in between high-speed rips from the guitar and drums.
Not being too conversant with the Finnish language beyond the occasional Fingerpori comic strip, I'm in the dark as to what the lyrical content is (although the words 'samurai' and 'zombie' pop up in a couple of track titles to lend recognizable elements).  Despite that, the earnest rock attitude comes through loud and clear, and with an enjoyable variety of vocals, the band is able to switch from yells to cleaner singing without missing a beat.  Sata Kaskelottia is able to work that same sort of magic with the music itself, though they do favor the harder stuff.  That balancing act seems to come through most clearly towards the center of the album, where "Veden Alle" and "Kyntö" hit some very sweet spots of combining the two extremes, before driving back into aggressive material for the rest of the songs.
It's a respectable first release, with a very strong voice for the styles that interest the band, though there are a few hints of ways in which they might expand their scope.  If you like your rock to blend tradition with more modern flavors, go ahead and try out some Sata Kaskelottia.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; MACH22, Buitre Humano, Oak & Bone, Father Sky, Destrage