Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Blind Mess - S/T (Album Review)


Release date: June 16th 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Blind Mess – S/T – Tracklisting

1.Ship Of Fools 04:07
2.Your Bliss 03:45
3.Black Mess 05:41
4.Capricorn 05:07
5.Crach 06:14
6.Supernova 04:25
7.Empire 04:30
8.The Monkey 04:40

Band Members:

Oskar, Martin & Daniel

Review

German Stoner Rockers - Blind Mess - debut self-titled is a confident and self-assured affair with the band influenced by the usual Desert/Stoner Rock Bands of past and present. Blind Mess deliver a more turbo-charged affair compared to other bands. The lyrics are fine for most parts of the album as the band embrace their Desert/Stoner Rock roots. There are a few rough moments where the vocals and lyrics don't necessarily gel with the top-notch music as they should.

Opening track - Ship Of Fools - is a very good track to open the album as shades of Kyuss appears but with a more punk driven sound. The vocals take a few songs to get fully used to as they're more suited to a punk rock environment.

Second track - Your Bliss - opens with a thrash based riff before the anarchic stoner riffs appear. This is another song where Blind Mess can't decide whether they want to be primarily a Stoner Rock Band or a Punk Rock band. They do try their hardest to merge both sounds but it's only the stoner rock parts that impress the most. I cannot deny that the song has an addictive and rebellious quality to it.

Third track - Black Moss - sees the band settle more into a Thrashier/Stoner kind of sound and this is where the album finally starts to improve for the better. Boisterous riffs, vocals and lyrics hold your attention throughout. Sure it still has a punk rock sound but the band are now starting to feel like a proper Stoner Rock band.

The next three songs - Capricorn, Crach and Supernova - has the usual Kyuss and Fu Manchu influences but the band start to add a more fuzzier psychedelic sound that brings back memories of Truckfighters. Even the vocals feel they were sung by Mr Ozo from that legendary band. Despite a bumpy and varied start, Blind Mess album really starts to impress from the third track and doesn't disappoint for the remainder of the album.

The second half of the album is a lot stronger than the first half as the band become more confident and even start take risks with their music. The final two tracks - Empire and Monkey - carry on the punk driven Stoner/Desert Rock riffs with the band creating an almighty loud noise with heavy guitars and confident vocals.

The album contains two bonus live tracks with Ship Of Fools and The Monkey. Truth be told I preferred the live version of Ship Of Fools compared to the version held on this album. I have a feeling that Blind Mess songs need to be truly heard and experienced on the live stage. As you cannot really capture the live environment on a studio recording.

Despite a shaky and rough start, Blind Mess debut album is a very good and thrilling album indeed.

Words by Steve Howe

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Elder - Reflections Of A Floating World (Album Review)


Release date: June 02nd 2017. Label: Stickman Records (EU) and Armageddon Label (US). Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Reflections Of A Floating World – Tracklisting

1. Sanctuary
2. The Falling Veil
3. Staving Off Truth
4. Blind
5. Sonntag
6. Thousand Hands

Band Members:

Nicholas DiSalvo - Guitar, keys, vocals
Jack Donovan - Bass
Matt Couto - Drums
Michael Risberg - Guitar
Michael Samos - Pedal steel


Review

This is it, folks. No if, but or maybe. Elder's brand new album, 'Reflections Of A Floating World', is it! A force from their inception, the band has finally created something truly unique...Elder Music. Kick me if you please if my statement sounds corny but hell, listen to 'Reflections Of A Floating World' and you know I am right. Elder has done something unheard of, they've created a genre only for themselves and their growing following of devotees.

There’s no beating around the bush as ‘Sanctuary’ wraps its tentacles around me. Flying around in erupting supernovas, star showers and the birth of new galaxies, Elder ejects the listener into a realm which brings peace of mind. Despite some truly skull crushing moments! But that serves as an important purpose since you have to be broken down in order to rebuild. And I feel completely at ease as to where the band is taking me and how. My mind expands and absorbs a whole new way of being and thinking. Mind blowing, people, mind blowing! And it continues with aplomb in ‘The Falling Veil’. Transcendent, expansive and mind-altering the song slowly caresses until all hooks are in. The trippiness opens up even more but with more twists and turns. ‘Staving Off Truth’ is bone crushing, racing through galaxies only to step off the grid forging new paths, new ways of being. Amazing guitar solo, by the way.

‘Blind’ is reflective, sombre especially in the lyrically department. Going full tilt at first, the mood and tempo changes back and forth bringing out emotions perfectly. Oh, that explosive solo! ‘Sonntag’ is hypnotic, almost claustrophobic at first but as soon as the drums joins in, everything is copacetic. Still trance-inducing the groove and repetition releases ant tension I have…as I dance, leap, back flips, you name it! And that’s while driving, people. ‘Thousand Hands’ closes out this one-of-a-kind piece of mastery as Elder unleashes some amazing progressive pulverizing destruction music.

And this is how ‘Reflections Of A Floating World’ plays out. To me each composition tells its own individual story, yet at the same time, when bundled together, they create a broader story. And this is another side to Elder’s greatness. After all, it takes enormous talent to write songs this multi-faceted and with such ease. Honestly, I am not surprised about what Elder has created having followed their progress through the years. Still, ‘Reflections Of A Floating World’ floored me and caught me unaware and I, for one, am more than fine with that. I mean, things doesn’t get any better than this. Over and out….I’m going to lose myself in the wonderful world of Elder!

Words by Håkan Nyman

Thanks to Nick from Stickman Records for the promo. Reflections Of A Floating World is available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl now from Stickman Records (EU) and Armageddon Label (US).

Links:


Tombs - The Grand Annihilation (Album Review)


Release date: June 16th 2017. Label: Metal Blade Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

The Great Annihilation – Tracklisting

1.Black Sun Horizon 05:23
2.Cold 04:50
3.Old Wounds 03:40
4.November Wolves 06:22
5.Underneath 04:26
6.Way of the Storm 07:10
7.Shadows at the End of the World 04:34
8.Walk with Me in Nightmares 02:17
9.Saturnalian 03:08
10.Temple of Mars 06:47

Review

The bridge and tunnel men are back to herd a compilation of creature like songs that flourish in the sewer. ‘Tombs’ is a product of their environment with a resiliency of same, true survivors with a story or maybe more of a warning that builds on the bleak, calls attention to the languid and stirs the omnipresent cauldron of our petty existence. The bulls of ‘Brooklyn’, ‘Tombs’ are motivated with burning hearts of ancient fire. Mike Hill deserves any and all of the blue and gold adulation for propagating the colossal contradiction of life in the ‘Tombs’.

Black Sun Horizon- This is the consummate unswerving and persistent album opener, demonstrating a steadfast dedication to the speed and ferocity of metal.

Cold-A dark and vicious song assembled with distorted guitars, calculator drums and palpable screams.

Old Wounds-Black iron chugged through corrugated pipes, with a brief, yet terrific melodic passage.

November Wolves is a display of resonant crunch and partisan waveforms that register deep within your pewter bones producing a dichotomous effect of the harmonic and the growl.

Underneath-a monotone vocal delivery supported by progressive bass, gauged guitar and throbbing percussion. Teenage reminiscences with meat entrapped tusks…think of a beloved “Joy Division’ tape, warped from constant play and poor storage under the front seat of your mom’s sedan.

Way Of The Strom- momentary surreal technology segues into pandemonium as the machine ignites, rips you apart and reassembles your enhanced version of self.

Shadows at the End of the World-tried and true university black metal.

Walk with Me in Nightmares-The title alone is freezer chilling for this living world and sums up the sound and resultant feeling of the song.

Saturnalian-A tribute to American gothic metal, a middle aged punk in titanium.

Temple of Mars-The ideal album closer prepared with a slow drone, atmospheric of liquorish silver and a brutal crepitation avowing… ‘dark angel rise’.

If you are a Tombs enthusiast, captivated by their gloomy style and charred by their past burnt album offerings, then “The Grand Annihilation” will substantiate your voracious addiction with no conceivable prospect of a future recovery. This is another huge album of sinister heaviness spawned by the prodigious band called “Tombs”.

Words by Nick Palmisano

Thanks to Andy at Metal Blade for the promo. The Grand Annihilation is available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl now from Metal Blade Records.


Monday, 19 June 2017

An Interview with WO FAT


It's always good catching up and talking to Wo Fat. They've been one of my favourite Swampedelic Doom/Stoner Metal bands for the last few years now. Currently in the middle of a US Tour with their new bassist - Zack Busby. 

i was given the chance to catch up Wo Fat and discuss how things are currently going with the band. New Album plans and their involvement with the forthcoming movie Planet Of Doom.

Ladies and Gentlemen - It's time for WO FAT....

HI guys. Thanks for doing this interview. Long-time no speak. How are things with you all at the moment.

Thanks. Things are great. We are going out on our little US tour with our new bass player, Zack Busby, who is kicking ass and the band sounds great.

You’re about to go a mini-tour of the USA. This is perhaps your most extensive you’ve done in a long while. Are you all excited for this tour.

We are excited about it. We don’t do a whole of touring, especially in the US, so we’re looking forward to getting out there and reaching some new fans and seeing some friends we haven’t seen in a while. We are heading through the Midwest back to the east coast to play at Maryland Doomfest, which should be pretty killer.


I’ve seen you guys in action a few years ago when you played in London. For people who haven’t had the full Wo Fat swampadelic experience. What can people expect from your forthcoming tour.

As you said, I think they can expect a swampadelic experience of riffy heaviness. As I mentioned, we have a new bass (he’s been playing with us almost a year, but since we haven’t really toured in that time, it will be a new thing even for people who have seen us before because he brings a new vibe and level of heavy to the band. I think the live groove with the band is heavier and harder than ever. We’ll be playing some songs from Midnight Cometh as well as from previous albums.

The tour is finishing at Maryland Doom Festival. Are you headlining that festival or just playing a regular set there.

We are just playing a regular set, but we’ve got a pretty cool spot in the lineup. It’s a killer bill that we’re honoured to be a part of.

Will you be looking forward in seeing other bands perform at that festival. If so which ones are you looking forward to.

Most definitely looking forward to seeing a number of other bands on the lineup. Unfortunately we’ll only be there for Saturday (the day we play) so we’ll miss a lot of great bands but it will be great to see Earthride, The Skull, Bang, The Watchers and Iron Man to name a few. Hopefully we can get into town early enough to hang for most of the day. That’s one of the cool things about playing festivals like this – getting to see a bunch of rockin’ bands.

Your home-town of Texas certainly has a great upcoming Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene with loads of great bands coming out. You’ve produced and recorded a few of these cool bands over the last few years. What is the scene actually like in Texas. Is there a good vibe around the entire Rock/Metal community. What are your thoughts on the scene yourself.

Texas has a thriving scene of bands in the Stoner/Doom genre. I would say maybe one of the strongest in the US in terms of the amount and quality of bands from all over Texas. Austin has always had a great scene for this music with lots of support from fans and of course, a whole slew of killer bands, but the rest of the state I think is catching up to that. In Dallas-Fort Worth, even though we have a good scene of bands, it’s been harder to build a solid and supportive fanbase, but that I think is changing for the better a bit recently and Houston is definitely on the rise. 


There are so many great yet diverse bands within the scene around the state and everyone is supportive of each other as far as gigging and getting the word out. We’re doing this tour with The Well, who is one of the many bad ass bands from Austin, but from around the state there’s also Duel, Mothership, Switchblade Jesus, Las Cruces, Maneaters of Tsavo, Gypsy Sun Revival, Dirty Seeds, Doomstress, Blues Funeral, Amplified Heat, Crypt Trip, White Dog, Sweat Lodge, come to mind immediately.

It’s been a year since Midnight Cometh was released. Another great album that won plaudits all over the place. And your first for Ripple Music. Looking back were you pleased the responses the album received.

Very pleased. It’s always hard to know how an album will be received because it’s hard for us to step back and get an objective take on a record after we finish it. We felt really good about it but there are a few different things going on and ideas that we tried that. We weren’t sure if people would dig it or not. Ripple and their PR machine has done an awesome job with promotion for the record.

How are you feeling being on the extensive roster that Pope and Todd are currently building up.

That was honestly one thing we considered before signing with Ripple. We saw that they were making really good choices and building a really solid roster and I was thinking a couple years ago that they were a label on the rise for sure. It’s cool to be a part of the roster for sure.

Wo Fat have always known for being quick workers when releasing albums. Have you started work on the new album yet.

Ha! We’re a little behind schedule on this one. We have tried to keep releasing new albums or even splits every 16 months or so, but we’re still a way off form a new record at this point. We were so busy with other stuff for most of this last year that we just haven’t been able to focus on writing new material, but that is the plan for the rest of the summer after the tour.

If so what can people expect from it and when will it be out. Or is this too soon to tell.

I think people can expect some new sounds and vibes simply because of the high level of musicianship and the new groove that Zack brings to the table as a bass player and I think we all have some song ideas in mind that venture into different territories from what we’ve done before.

I feel like it may be a dark record though because it’s a very dark time for the US right now, and really the world as a whole.

You guys are now considered legends or elder statesmen of the Doom/Stoner Metal scene. Does it surprise you that upcoming bands hold you in high regards as major influences on their music.

That does surprise me honestly! It’s a humbling thing for me to think about. We have had the opportunity to meet and play with a number of bands that I still consider legendary, which has been awesome. But I also take inspiration from so many of the new bands on the scene too. It’s a good time for stoner rock right now.


You are part of The Planet Of Doom movie that’s being released next year. How did you become involved with that.

We’ve worked a lot with David Paul Seymour over the last couple of years. He did the album art for both Midnight Cometh and our live recording from Feak Valley Festival, Live Juju and he’s also done a couple t shirt designs for us so we’ve become friends and when he asked us to be a part it, we were of course “hell yeah!” The whole concept is so cool and being a fan of Heavy Metal (both the magazine and the movie) the idea of kinda recreating a similar vibe with amazing artists and bands is awesome.

I’ve spoken to a few bands about this already such as Vokonis and Slomatics. Have you seen the finished segment that you’re providing the music to. 

No, not yet. I can’t wait to see it though. The short clips that I have seen of the film look mighty cool.

Have you recorded a new song for the film.

We have. We actually wrote Of Smoke and Fog for the movie and we loved the song and how it turned out so much that we ended up putting it on the last record as well.

Well guys thanks for doing this interview. Much appreciated. All the best with the US tour. Before you go do you have anything to say to your fans.

Thanks for all that you’re doing to support the scene worldwide and get the word out about bands. It is much appreciated.

I’d like to also thank everyone that comes to shows and rocks with us. Hope to see you on the road:

Words by Steve Howe and Wo Fat

Catch Wo Fat currently on tour with The Well.

6-17 Blue Note – OKC
6-18 Riot Room - Kansas City, MO
6-19 Reggie’s – Chicago
6-20 Taps Live – Indianapolis, IN
6-21 Northside Yacht Club – Cincinnati, OH
6-22 Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia, PA
6-23 Bar Matchless, Brooklyn ,NY
6-24 Maryland Doomfest


Thanks to Curtis at Dewar PR for arranging this interview and to Wo Fat for taking the time out in doing this interview.

Links:

Atragon - I, Necromancer (Album Review)


Release date: June 09th 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

I, Necromancer – Tracklisting

1.Matriarch 07:49
2.Monastery of Silence 05:15
3.I, Necromancer 06:34
4.Wallowing Wizard 06:55
5.The Dead Weight of Unimportant Flesh 06:06
6.Jesus Wept 13:49
7.Guilt Returns 05:19

Band Members:

Vocals - Jan Gardner
Guitar - Ruaridh Daunton
Drums - Jason Watt
Bass - Ewen Cameron

Review

Atragon were born in the cold, harsh winter of 2012 and they worship the altar of slow fuzzed out doom metal. They're living and breathing in the vaulted tombs of Edinburgh, Scotland.

I, Necromancer is the follow up to the Witch Hunter Records release Volume 1.

They have played a lot as supporting acts to much bigger bands and it makes sense as the bass player runs a promotions company and bringing all the bands to Edinburgh. They have despite their age as a band completed a UK tour and I have read good things about their live-performance.

When I was listening to the record for the first time I felt some mixed emotions about it. The first couple of spins has the evil, churning riffs I like but unfortunately the vocals were a little bit out of tune. And it felt like the weak point in the wall of meaty and greasy riffs. Things get a lot better during the record though and sometimes the vocals are top notch. 

If you want to describe the bands sound I think they owe a nod to at a lot of different styles and even if its heavy blues, doom, prog or psych I think the music is tasting and sounding good. I like the variety of styles they shift between songs and its never boring to listen to. I hear strong Electric Wizard vibes and a couple of catchy Cathedral riffs and its when they hit the catchy notes is where the band impress me the most.

I think the record as a whole is very strong but there are a couple of songs that are worthy to mention. 

“I, Necromancer” adds some funny intros and extended instrumentals into the mix and I appreciate the less experimentation in the song because it allows their thick guitar tones to remain in the forefront. 

”The Dead Weight of Unimportant Flesh” is the best song in my opinion. The picking on the guitar in the beginning, the absolute gorgeous main riff and the vocal duties are impressive to hear. The tempo changing during the song is effective and put an extra dimension to a brilliant tune. The way good music is supposed to sound.

The ending track “Guilt Returns“, Hm! Wondering is this tune worth ending the record and not placed in the middle of the record. Thematically it fits though and sonically it expands the way stoner doom often sounds but I would preferred it after I,Necromancer to let the listener breath before heading through the thick sound wall during the rest of the record. 

To summarize. They've got the ingredients to be a killer stoner band , and in some way they're already there. Great hooks. Mammoth riffs and bad ass songs. I'm looking forward to hearing more.


Words by Svempa Alveving

Links:


Saturday, 17 June 2017

Cortez - The Depths Below (Album Review)


Release date: June 16th 2017. Label: Salt Of The Earth Records. Format: CD/DD

The Depths Below – Tracklisting

1. All Gone Wrong
2. Poor And Devoid
3. Walk Through Fire
4. The Citadel
5. Blood Of Heirs
6. To The Skies
7. Kill Your Ghosts
8. Dead Channel
9. Orison

Band Members:

Matt - Vocals
Scott - Guitar
Alasdair - Guitar
Jay - Bass
Alexei - Drums

Review

Greetings all,
Had the privilege of checking out the amazing new album from Boston based stoner/grunge band Cortez entitled The Depths Below. I understand the term "grunge" can make some get that prickly feeling inside, but I use it with the utmost of love and respect. As a guy turning 40 (good lord....) this summer, I grew up musically in the midst of the grunge explosion. If you do the math I was 14 years old when Nevermind came out.
But I digress, to the band at hand. This Cortez album is a definite rock monster. The band wears their musical hearts on their sleeves and do absolute justice to the influences you hear in all of the songs. You can hear elements of certain bands in just about every song, but Cortez manages to have a sound all their own.
Goddamit if their isnt an almost John Garcia/Kyuss like "Well alright" that kicks off the album opener All Gone Wrong. This track rips with a definite desert/stoner rock vibe. Poor and Devoid follows with a bit more of the grunge based influence. There are times when it sound musically, like the more rocking moments of Alice In Chains. The next three songs are part of a sort of musical trilogy called In the Shadows of Ancients.
The first is the song Walk Through Fire which features a killer driving chorus. The second part is the excellent The Citadel which shows the band slowing it down a bit in the intro and features some flourishes of acoustic guitar before closing with a big rocking outro. The trilogy closes with Blood of Heirs, which has a more old school metal feel. I may be wrong, but I swear I felt a bit of Motorhead in this one.
To the Skies is a rocker that has just a touch of Doom to it. That feeling gets revisited a bit later on. Next is Kill Your Ghosts which has a somewhat post grunge/90's modern rock feel due to the tempo before it takes a turn to stoner rock. Dead Channel carries on the mix of stoner rock and grunge with a killer chorus on this monster. The record closes with Orison which is an amazing Doom-grunge combination. Kind of a first to me, but I dig it.
The Depths Below is a mighty record. Whatever genre of rock you dig, you shouldnt have an issue getting down with Cortez. The songs are tight. It is well recorded and rocking. The vocals are excellent throughout. Their is plenty of driving guitars and killer solos. Rock fans will not be disappointed. Get down with Cortez!!
- Todd S

Instagram @alltheghoststhathauntyou

Words by Todd Stealey
Thanks to Cortez for the promo. The Depths Below is available to buy from Salt Of The Earth Records now.
Links:

Codeia - "don't be afraid", she whispered and disappeared (Album Review)


Release date: June 02nd 2017. Label: Backbite Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

"don't be afraid", she whispered and disappeared – Tracklisting

1.Lost In Translation 21:56
2.Shaping Stone 09:02
3.Facing Extinction 15:50

Band Members:

Markus; Denis; Timo

Review

Codeia have only been going as a band since 2016 and they have just released their debut album - “don't be afraid”, she whispered and disappeared. The band create a thin line between post-rock, post-metal, post-hardcore and doom based sounds. The album isn't an easy listen as Codeia aren't your typical Post-Rock/Post-Metal band. They create different sounds that could be ISIS (The Band)/Neurosis style heaviness one moment and blissful ambient post-rock sounds the next.

Opening track – Lost In Translation – is a multi-layered song with different parts and chapters to it. Codeia weave post-rock dynamics with a trance based sludge/post-metal sound with distorted vocals and bleak soundclips to match. Some parts of this song have a certain Tool-esque feel to them but I prefer when the band play the familiar styling of bands such as Isis (The Band) and Neurosis. As Post-Metal is one of my favourite genres of music and Codeia tap into that euphoric post-rock/post-metal high when the loud riffs finally come along, it's nigh on impossible not to be swept away by it all. Maybe the song could have been about 5 minutes shorter as it's an epic 22 minute journey that could be too frustrating for some. Though the band keep you entertained throughout with complex rhythms and sounds that will soon get under your skin.

Second track – Shaping Stone – is a more dynamic post-rock song with haunting vocals to match. The mood does become heavier with traditional sludge based guitars making a welcome appearance. This is perhaps the most exciting track on the album as Codeia have less time to play with this song. Though still epic at almost 10 minutes in length.

Third track – Facing Extinction – is a very cold and subtle affair with Codeia once again experimenting with their sound. Psychedelic and industrial style noises weave into the familiar Post-Rock/Post-Metal surroundings as Codeia create a challenging and complex song that I found to be very frustrating at times. Though you have to give Codeia credit for trying something different.

Overall, “don't be afraid”, she whispered and disappeared – is a challenging and beautifully played album. If you're a fan of bands such as Russian Circles, ISIS (The Band) and Neurosis then you will find much to enjoy here.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

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