Saturday, December 20, 2014

From Inner Earth...

Slug Salt Lava - Radiated Soundscapes EP (2014)

Ersin Taş is back, now with a pair of fresh faces helping him construct the sludgy crunch of Slug Salt Lava.  While the production does sound a little cleaner than on previous releases (and the music slightly less aggressive overall), the edges are still there, provided mainly by the sharp tones of the guitar while the bass and drums explore some intricate and carefully-paced rhythms.  Staying (mostly) free of vocals so as to fully focus on their instrumental work, Radiated Soundscapes adds five tracks of grim hammering and mean melodies to the group's catalog, all of them with fittingly epic and post-apocalyptically-inclined titles, from "Titans of the Wasteland" to "Infested Mountain" and "Perished Shores", that last of which pulls the EP to a solid close with its somber notes.
The material put together for this release shows that Slug Salt Lava still has plenty of ideas and fuel for its slow-burning metal, with more undoubtedly being forged as you read these words.  Start familiarizing yourself with the sound of Slug Salt Lava if you haven't already, and stay tuned for more news from this force from Turkey.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Fleshpress, Evoken, Gallow God, Eibon, Tons


Friday, December 19, 2014

Ride For The Light...

Lords Of Beacon House - Lords Of Beacon House (2015)

Serving as advance notice for their upcoming debut LP, the three tracks released by the Los Angeles-based Lords of Beacon House so far are a cocktail of '70s-styled heavy rock, stoner-friendly grooves, and some smooth production work.  With the slow-stomp bar rock of "Distant Thunder", the head-swim desert blues rock of "Seven Days", and the Purple Sabbath flavors of "Cool Water Blues" as a chaser, the band has put together an attention-catching teaser for their first release.  Certainly worthy of being played at high volume, these tracks should be getting plenty of play before the band unleashes the rest of the LP through HOMHOMHOM Records, so beat the crowds by familiarizing yourself with the group ahead of time, and be sure to set some money aside to grab a copy once the album is out.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Brimstone Coven, The Hunted Crows, Mother Mars, Celophys, The Heavy Eyes


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Don't Call 'Em That

Amniac ~ Infinite (2014)

After a well received demo, the Greeks of Amniac have returned with their first full length album "Infinite". They tend to take the Post-Metal route with their music, utilizing melodic soundscapes just as well as crushing, Sludge inspired riffs. Simply calling them another Post-Metal band wouldn't really be fair though, while they pull some influence from that direction, they're probably also one of the most interesting bands I've heard that are put under that banner. Usually, Post-Metal just sort of bores me, you listen to ten minutes of ambient noise and neo-psychedelic soundscapes just for a riff and heavy jam session that lasts two and half minutes, then you get another three to five minutes of random noises to end on. While I'm sure there a number of people this would appeal to, I'm not one of them. Amniac seems to have figured out the secret to keeping things interesting on a track to track basis, using hundred ton Sludge riffs to drive the track forward like a steamroller, making sure things never get stagnant. Their opening track "And the Others Just Survive" could serve as a benchmark for their work, you'll get a good idea of their sound, but they have much more in store over the final six tracks. Opening with an expansive guitar part, it doesn't take long for it to all come crashing down in the form of a bone shattering riff and the guttural vocals of someone who clearly chews glass on a regular basis, they're pretty sick. Switching up again, and slowing the mammoth riff down some for a period of time, only for it to come roaring back as a sonic death march. Towards the end of the track that opening guitar part makes a final appearance that leads into an outro section that is closer to a Doom Metal song than Post or Sludge Metal, and a damn good one at that. While you can pick up the CD version from Distroball Records, you can also grab a digital version from the Amniac's bandcamp for just a few bucks if that's more your speed.

For Fans Of; Neurosis, Isis, Cult of Luna

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Drowning In Toxins...

Fange - Poisse (2014)

With a sound that practically seeps dirty black tar from your stereo's speakers, Fange deliver a particularly virulent strain of sludge on this, their debut EP.  Whether bleeding feedback to a keening drone, kicking their way through a sticky groove, or vomiting out the vocals, Fange keep things from settling comfortably into place.  Since we're talking about sludge, that's a good thing, and the band delivers some satisfyingly filthy sounds to keep the oppressive atmosphere writhing along; they also pack in some suitably creepy audio samples, always a plus.
The big shot of the six songs is "Suaire", which takes the techniques used in the rest of the release, and really opens them up over the course of eight minutes of madness, but the EP as a whole does a great job of keeping the material from ever losing its vicious edge. If you've been going into withdrawal waiting for a truly dirty sludge release, this is the place to get your fix.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Zeppheroin, Meth Drinker, Open Tomb, le bomje, Lightsucker


Monday, December 15, 2014

The Doctor Has Arrived

Doctor Smoke ~ The Witching Hour (2014)

Another album that I'm thinking everyone had fairly high expectations for, is the latest release from Ohio's fearsome foursome Doctor Smoke, called "The Witching Hour". And even with it being almost the end of the year, the doctor has put down a hellacious slab of doomy, Heavy Rock that stands out from the crowd of similar albums that came out this year, and there were many. One thing they do very well, beside catchy vocal melodies, are guitar solos. If the power of the riff compels them, the power of the solo forces their hand at gun point. Of the nine tracks that make up "The Witching Hour", the third on the album "Evil Man", was my star track. You know the tired old bit about music 'speaking' to you? Well, this one slapped me, and commanded me to pay better attention on my first listen. Opening up with a spontaneous torrent of sound, the band jumps right into it and put down an all too fitting groove, with the guitar being sure to howl it's hard edged Doom riffs. A little after the one minute mark the song switches up some, and the bass thumps and rumbles along, but the drums slow up just a bit and the guitar stops riffing and slowly plays a long when the vocals first make their menacing first appearance, along with the addictive melody that comes with it, the sort that makes you want to sing a long every time you hear it. While this lasts for a while, the guitar solo cranks up around the five minute mark, and shatters everything that you thought you once knew about the song. While CDs are already out at their bandcamp (people outside the US should use Totem Cat Records, to save on shipping), the vinyl is slated to be released sometime early next year. So, go get your smoke, and drink, and whatever else you'd like, then come pay the good Doctor Smoke a visit.

For Fans Of; Graveyard, Black Sabbath, Pentagram

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Serpent Surfaces...

Yama - Ananta (2014)

Riding high off of the warm reception for their demo, and a packed performance at Roadburn '14, Dutch stoner rock group Yama have readied their debut LP for release upon the world.  Filled to overflowing with crunchy guitar riffs, confident drum backing and complex rolls, and a bass like thunder, the band does an excellent job of fusing the pieces into an energetic and unpredictable whole.  They show an open fondness for shredding and syncopation, with the songs frequently breaking out into rocket bursts of unrestrained wildness, before just as easily switching back into a more easy-going and melodically-focused mode for a stretch of their limbs and performances.
All in all, it's a very respectable range of music covered by the band, and quite the accomplishment for a first album.  One of my personal favorite moments in the run was the arrival of a well-played harmonica in "Ruach Elohim" around the mid-point of the album, mixed with some wide-phasing pedal effects and a classic stoner rock groove of rhythm and atmosphere to create something all the band's own.  Other high points include "Migraine City", which seems tailor-made for expansion and improvisation during live gigs, while delivering a dependable slice of doom rock in the studio form found here, and the two-part "Swordsman Of The Crossroads", which get more open with a traditional doom influence.  The members of Yama seems to have plenty of fire under their feet, so stay tuned, try to catch one of their live shows if you can, and ready yourself for the arrival of Ananta.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Wolf Blood, Demon Head, Moon Curse, Bitchcraft, Saint Vitus


Friday, December 12, 2014

A Dangerous Prescription...

Yanomamo - Ativan And Whiskey (2014)

With their slogan of "SLUDGE RIDDEN DOOM", it's not too difficult to guess the musical inclinations of Australian outfit Yanomamo.  With their latest single, following up on two releases from earlier this year, the group continues to make a name for itself in the dirty field of sludgy doom.  Good guitar tonality, goosebumps-inducing drum-work, and some mean bass come together in a crunchy collision of crustiness, while the vocalist's growl-howl provides a grim gilding.  Bolstered by a well-chosen audio sample, the song moves into more aggressive grooves in its latter half, picking up the energy and letting the group show off another side of their talents, finishing with a decisive bang.  It's a decent bit of chew for your ears, so tune into Yanomamo's output if you've been hungering for some sludge with real bite to it.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Meth Drinker, early EyeHateGod, Moloch, Serial Hawk, Naga


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Going Down Together...

Rorcal / Process Of Guilt - Split (2014)

The first half of this split is provided by the Swiss ensemble of Rorcal, who progress through their three song set of "IX", "X", and "XI".  From the start, their music is charged with violent energy, rattling at a break-neck speed through walls of drum assault, grinding bass drone, chainsaw guitar, and vocals that sound like gravel was gargled before heading into the studio.  It's largely pretty sludgy, but electrified into a blur of the usual attributes, which is a refreshing strain to come across in a genre that too often finds bands slavishly imitating their predecessors without bringing much of their own personality to the table.  Luckily, that's far from the case with Rorcal, who have stamped, stomped, and smashed their identity into every moment of the music.
For the second half, Portuguese outfit Process Of Guilt take the reins for their own saga in three movements, "Liar".  With the nine-minute opening segment, they manage to wrest the listener's attention away from Rorcal's fury, and shift focus to a slower (but no less intense) helping of sludge, heavy on the doom and bass.  As they progress through the song's pieces, things got rougher, faster, and angrier, with the music slowly melting into a stew of harsh feedback, bass bedrock, pounding percussion, and bellowing vocals before trailing off into a decaying drone.
Between the two bands, they've put together an impressively unrelenting and varied channeling of sludge, with their styles serving to complement and enhance the listener's appreciation of each.  With 666 copies pressed on vinyl, there's enough here to satisfy most sludge fans' cravings while introducing them to some new artists deserving of their attention.  Get on it!
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of;    Hesperian Death Horse, Grey Widow, Gnaw Their Tongues, Moloch, Open Tomb