Saturday, 24 September 2016

Holy Serpent - Temples (Album Review)


Release date: 30th September 2016. Label: RidingEasy Records . Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Temples – Tracklisting

1.Purification By Fire
2.Bury Me Standing
3.Toward The Sands
4.The Black Stone
5.Sativan Harvest

Band Members:

Scott Penberthy - Guitar/Vocals
Nick Donoughue - Guitar
Dave Bartlett - Bass
Lance Leembrugen - Drums

Review:

Here we go, with another fabulous review! Let me open with the same words I used after the first seconds of listening. Holy shit! Holy Serpent! Holy Serpent’s latest album is something absolutely amazing and insane. In this latest release, Temples (RidingEasy Records), the Melbourne based quartet completely expand their sonic journey through a much more heavier and massive sound compared with their self-titled debut album (Holy Serpent).

Here, the tunes are atmospheric and heavy, and the slow grooving passages perfectly mix with the vocals of Scott Penberthy that, in some passages closely remind one of the finest voices of the grunge scene of the 90's, Layne Staley. What I found really interesting in this album, is the perfectly mix of doom, stoner and grunge, where (slowed) Black Sabbath fuses with Alice in Chains, Fu Manchu and Acid King. All without disdaining more psychedelic passages, as in the best tradition of the 60/70’s.

The album opens with Purification By Fire, where slow-burn riffs, rhythmic and massive patterns of bass and drum slowly accompany the listener into dark and heavy atmosphere, where the vocals really remind to the best Layne Staley. This long opener ends with a riffage close to Acid King. One of my favourite tracks. It follows Bury Me Standing, a song which starts with a powerful wha-guitar-solo and then suddenly change tempo, perfectly declining the doom concept of Saint Vitus around the howls of Penberthy.

In Toward the Sands, Holy Serpent expand their sonic experimentation, as the song constantly turns on a dime from fast rager to doom, and where we can hear in some passages the echo of Monolord’s Cursing The One (from their amazing album Vaenir, RidingEasy Record). The same groove can be found in the next The Black Stone, possibly the song with one of the heaviest, slow and obsessive rhythmic of the whole album. And, mind you, is not a note of disappointment, indeed. Simply amazing.

Temples closes with a 12 minutes long journey through Holy Serpent, Sativan Harvest, a three-pieces song which is built around an epic stoner/doom riffage that drifts into haze of droning guitars. Here the tunes are, if possible, even more fat, slow and dark. Around the sixth minute, the psychedelic change in pure Pink Floyd style gently introduce a massive dose of heavy and elephantine riffs, where the vocals become, if possible, even more intensive and profound. The third part of Sativan Harvest accompanies the listener towards the end of Temples, where guitars, bass and drum give way to synths, strings and cellos, in an ending that leaves you speechless, where the dark atmospheres of the whole album are replaced by a deep sense of calm, where doom meets Björk. The perfect ending to a great album.

What else can I say...Holy Shit! Holy Serpent!

Words by Bruno Bellisario

Thanks to Dave at US/THEM Group for the promo. Temples will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via RidingEasy Records from September 30th 2016.

Links:

Moanaa - Passage (Album Review)


Release date: 15th September 2016. Label: Arachnophobia Records . Format: CD/DD

Passage – Tracklisting

1.[...] 01:32
2.The Process, Part I 09:08
3.The Process, Part II 03:03
4.Crystal 06:48
5.Terra Mater 12:24
6.The Shift 09:51
7.Grim Encounter 12:29

Band Members:

Łukasz "cHooDy" Kursa - guitar
Marcel Łękawa - drums
Damian "Cichy" Olearczyk - bass
Kuba "Piwus" Piwowarczyk - guitar
K-vass - vocals

Review:

Greetings all,

This time around I got to check out the new album by Doomy Polish Post metal juggernaut Moanaa. Passage is the bands third release and it is a titan. This band brings the heavy, along with the melody, and ambience for anyone in to post-whatever. This is a really masterfully played and masterfully recorded album that I hope people take the time to check out.

Listeners have to be ready for the long haul, as Moanaa brings it long and heavy. 4 of the 7 tracks break 9 minutes, with two of those crushing for over 12 minutes. The Passage is either intentionally or unintentionally a journey through many a sonic passageway. There are a couple of items that really stick out. The band rocks in and out of different styles effortlessly, just as vocalist K-vass goes from clean singing to a guttural growl in a snap. It is impressive. The band also loves their delay pedals, as clean guitar chimes rattle through riff after riff of head banging goodness. These guys also fully embrace some relaxed moments of pseudo relaxing ambience, that relaxes you just enough to snap your next at the next crushing thud.

The songs really show the band's strong playing and songwriting. After a brief intro, the record kicks in to the two part The Process, 12 minutes over 2 tracks that shows you exactly what is in store for you. After the awesome little (almost 7 minute) Crystal, they unleash the epic Terra Mater. This 12+ minute opus destroys you for almost 9 minutes before cradling you in the warm acoustic glow of the last 3 minutes, that shows you everything is going to be OK...at least until The Shift and Grim Encounter close the record out out by crushing your soul and leaving you wanting more. It is a massive epic voyage! Find it and Enjoy!

Words by Todd Stealey

Links:


GEEZER - S/T (Album Review)


Release date: 18th November 2016. Label: Ripple Music (CD/DD) and STB Records (Vinyl). Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Geezer – S/T – Tracklisting

Sunday Speed Demon
One Leg Up
Sun Gods
Bi-Polar Vortex
Dust
Hangnail Crisis
Superjam Maximus
Stoney Pony

Band Members:

Richie
Turco
Pat

Review:

Heavy Blues/Doom Rockers – Geezer – return with another round of fast-paced riffs on their new self-titled album. Two years have passed since their last release – Gage. Geezer’s new album is being released by powerhouse partnership of Ripple Music and STB Records. So you have that mark of quality working in your favour when those two great labels are involved.

Geezer’s new album starts with the very low-key opening track – Sunday Speed Demon. A bluesy and almost country classic rock song which is definitely not the most familiar sound Geezer is known for. Pat Harrington (Vox/Guitars) then turns into a rock and roll preacher with shouts of Hallelujah and Amen. Then the heavy riffs start to appear and the album finally comes into life. You better fasten your seatbelts folks, as from here on in, Geezer change the whole tone of the album for the better.

Second track – One Leg Up – sets the whole tone for the remainder of the album as Pat appears to channel his inner-spacelord. He sounds like a much younger and vibrant Dave Wyndorf. That’s not the only change as Geezer start to channel the early cosmic spaced out sounds of Monster Magnet with the heavy thunderous rock charge of Blue Cheer. The grooves become more psychedelic and the music is heavier as a result.

The song-writing is fantastic with the lyrics having a certain tongue-in-cheek quality about them, though it’s the music that holds your attention. Geezer seems to be thriving with their sudden change of sound. The one thing that impressed me the most about the album is how Geezer has added elements of Droned Out Space Rock. This allows Geezer to create a doomier and spaced out sound compared to previous releases.

The next three tracks – Sun Gods, Bi-Polar Vortex and Dust – is where Geezer impress the most as they create some of the albums standout moments. Sun Gods has a haunting Post-Rock/Doom/Drone kind of vibe with some spacier Desert Rock style vocals. That could be my favourite song on the entire album and perhaps my favourite song by Geezer so far.

Bi-Polar Vortex and Dust carries on the spaced out vibe but with traces of Geezer’s familiar style of Blues Rock/Doom riffs making a welcome return. Pat’s vocals impress yet again that remind me of Dave Wyndorf yet again but with a grungier outlook.

The production on the album is crisp and precise as this allows Geezer to create the best sounding record of their career so far. I’ve been a fan of Geezer for a few years now so trust me this is the best they have ever sounded. You can tell that the band put their heart and soul into this album. It’s a passionate and hard-rocking affair with the eight songs on the album being equally as good as each other.

The album runs for fifty-two minutes or so and Geezer impress from the very start. Geezer’s transformation from Doom/Blues Rockers to Spaced Out/Cosmic Stoner Rockers is one that you all need to hear and experience for yourselves. I can’t rate this album highly enough. Geezer may have delivered perhaps one of the best Stoner Rock albums of the year in my opinion.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Richard at Sheltered Life PR for the promo. Geezer will be released on CD/DD via Ripple Music and Vinyl via STB Records from November 18th 2016.

Links:

Blood Diamond - Saviours (Album Review)


Release date: 3rd September 2016 . Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Saviours – Tracklisting

1.Insanity Grows 05:50
2.The Heckler 03:03
3.Your Pointless Gods 03:00
4.Sand and Stones 05:23
5.Burning Torch 04:19
6.Watch Me Flying 05:02
7.Never Confessed 04:54
8.Refused 04:11

Band Members:

Tim: Guitar
Sven: Guitar/Vox
Bert: Bass
Mike: Drums

Review:

Blood Diamond’s second album – Saviours – owes a huge debt of gratitude to the earlier heavier sounds of Baroness and Mastodon. As the album visits the similar kind of sounds those two bands made their names with. It’s kind of refreshing and exciting to hear after all these years. Sure there have been countless other bands that have released similar sounding albums over the years but Blood Diamond are perhaps the first band to try and do something new with that sound.

Saviours feels like the natural successor to Mastodon’s landmark album – Leviathan and that’s no bad thing. You know what to expect. Fast paced and heavy precise progressive sludge metal riffs with the band showing a flair for psychedelic stoner metal grooves from time to time.

Opening track Insanity Grows opens the album with a track that holds your attention throughout with razor sharp guitars and the familiar style of clean/grizzled growls from lead vocalist Sven. It starts with a superb haunting ambient noise before the guitars come crashing in. Insanity Grows is one of the albums standout tracks on the album and it’s a wise decision to open the album with this track. As it shows you what’s in store for you over the next eight tracks.

Second track – The Heckler – is pure Mastodon riff-loving worship but Blood Diamond still create their own moments of psychedelic sludge madness with perfectly played riffs that move from slower paced moments to the more manic faster and heavier noises.

Third track – Your Pointless Gods – has a more classic progressive feel compared to the other tracks on the album. The drumming is a major highlight of this track with spiky lyrics making this another great tune to check out. The riffs and vocals both battle for their attention in the spotlight. The production sounds super-fresh as Blood Diamond start to create their own identity.

Fourth Track – Seed and Stones – captures early-era Baroness with a more stoner based vibe and it’s a song built upon a simple premise but delivered with the band’s own verve and style. The psychedelic guitar solos add an extra touch of class that will have you head-banging in total agreement.

So four songs into the album and you will now have a total feel on how the album will play out for the remaining four songs. As the mood and overall atmosphere of the album remains the same. Blood Diamond perhaps create the most exciting moments on the second half of the album. The album becomes heavier with Blood Diamond opting for a more faster and progressive style of music especially on tracks: Burning Torch, Never Confessed and Refused.

If you miss the days before Baroness/Mastodon went a little bit too commercial then Blood Diamond perfectly bridges the gap between the earlier years of the Progressive Sludge Metal sounds and today’s modern Stoner Metal grooves. Saviours is a fantastic sounding album and is one that will entertain the hell out of you over and over again.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Links:

Official | Facebook | BandCamp

Dee Calhoun - Rotgut (Album Review)


Release date: June 2016 . Label: Argonauta Records. Format: CD/DD

Rotgut – Tracklisting

01 Unapologetic
02 Rotgut
03 Not Everyone Wins A Prize
04 Little Houn Daddy Houn
05 Babelkowa
06 Backstabbed In Backwater
07 The Train Back Home
08 Sincerely Yours
09 Deifendor
10 Cast Out The Crow
11 Winter A Dirge
12 At Long Day's End

Band Members:

Dee Calhoun

Review:

Dee Calhoun has had quite a varied music career over the last 20 plus years or so. He's been the vocalist of Doom Metal legends Iron Man for the last 6 years. It's a role that he's excelled in over the last few Iron Man records with some superb vocal performances especially on their 2013 album – South Of The Earth.

Now Dee has released a solo album called Rotgut. An acoustic Southern/Blues/Country/Doom kind of album. Rotgut has a similar vibe to Scott Kelly and Wino's recent solo albums. So if you're a fan of those kind of albums then Rotgut will speak volumes to you.

The album can be a very hard album to listen to at times especially with the bleak subject matters that Dee covers. The lyrical content is bleak but one that also offers moments of hope. A very hard thing to do but Dee pulls this off with style and grace. Songs such as Unapologetic, Rotgut, Backstabbed in Backwater, Cast Out The Crow and At Long Day's End show that Dee has a keen eye for Americana based melodies especially when mixed with elements of Folk, Southern Rock and a hint of Doom.

Rotgut is an album that will take a few listens to fully enjoy the overall feel of the album. It's not an album that's going to appeal to everyone. These acoustic solo albums can be an acquired taste for me a times but thankfully Rotgut is an exception to the rule. As it's superbly produced and it offers the listener a vintage style of sounds.

The instrumental work is good throughout the album though there's a few moments where the guitars can sound a bit out of tune at times. Maybe that's just me but it shouldn't stop you're enjoyment of the album. You can tell that Dee has been influenced by Neil Young on this album as the track – Not Everyone Wins A Prize – sees Dee perform his best Neil Young style vocal performance. The song itself is a haunting and heartfelt melody as it takes aim at the heart-strings.

Little Houn Daddy Houn is perhaps one of the weakest songs on the album. It's a song that Dee perform with his own son Rob Calhoun. I can see why Dee included this song on the album as it's a tender experience that Dee could enjoy with his son. Though it feels out of this place on the album. I applaud Dee for including this on the album as it shows you the more paternal side of Dee that people may not be used to. Maybe I'm being too harsh on the song itself.

Apart from that minor complaint, Rotgut is a stunning solo musical odyssey that brings the audience closer spiritually and musically to the man himself which Iron Man could never do.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Barbara at NeeCee Agency for the promo. Rotgut is available on CD/DD from Argonauta Records now.

Links:

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

XII Boar - Beyond The Valley Of The Triclops (Album Review)


Release date: August 12th 2016. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD

Beyond The Valley Of The Triclops – Tracklisting

1.Prologue 01:23
2.Beyond The Valley 04:16
3.The Hustle 06:21
4.Strange Kinda Lonesome 05:51
5.El Mucho Grande 05:54
6.Welcome To Your Doom 00:36
7.Penetrator 05:05
8.Abyssal Lord 07:29
9.Black and Blues 04:06
10.Jupiter Aligns 04:00
11.Beggars Roost 04:58
12.Triclops 05:42

Band Members:

Tommy Hardrocks - Guitar & Vocals
Adam "Bad-Dog" Thomas - Bass & Backing Vocals
Dave Wilbraham - Drums

Review:

XII Boar's new album, Beyond The Valley Of The Triclops is pure rock and roll excess from start to finish. It's loud, heavy, boisterous and packed full of dirty Stoner, Doom and Groove Metal riffs. Sure the band could have easily cut a couple of songs from the album but damn, you sure do get a lot of great riffs for the price of the album.

XII Boar's music is made for one thing and that's to ROCK THE FUCK OUT. If you're a fan of Orange Goblin, Black Sabbath and a few bands from the legendary NOLA scene you will probably enjoy the hell out of this. The opening few tracks – Prologue, Beyond The Valley and The Hustle create a manic Doom, Stoner Metal and NOLA based atmosphere with a hint of Blues Rock holding it all together.

The vocals from Tommy are confident and assured from the start with some heavy grizzled growls from Adam coming in from time to time. The album is a major step-up from their 2015 album – Pitworthy. This album has a more easy-going atmosphere though the album cover may give you the wrong impression. The album could have become very repetitive especially with the 12 songs they've created here but XII Boar being the seasoned professionals create an album that's vibrant and that will keep you entertained until the very end.

There's quite a few progressive riffs on the album especially on the albums standout track – Abyssal Lord. Beyond The Valley Of The Triclops is an album built on pure aggression and one that will get your heart pumping whilst thanks to the fast-paced brutal riffs!!!

XII Boar are a rare breed within the Doom/Stoner Metal scene as they combine the classic heavy metal sounds with the more anthemic modern Doom/Stoner Metal riffs. XII Boar would have easily ruled the roost if they were around in the 70s/80s Heavy Metal scene and this album is a testament to that.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for the promo.

Interview with AARON BOYER from VALLEY OF THE SUN

 

Today's guest is Aaron Boyer. Drummer from the awesome Fuzz/Stoner Rock crew – Valley Of The Sun, who released a superb new album called Volume Rock earlier this year.

Signed to Fuzzorama Records (Truckfighters Record Label). Valley Of The Sun profile has steadily been rising over the last couple of years thanks to great albums such as Volume Rock and their acclaimed live performances.

The band are about to head out on an European Tour with DOT LEGACY. I was given the chance to catch up with Aaron before he travels to Europe with the band. This is what went down....

Hi guys. Thanks for doing this interview. Hope things are well with you today. How is the mood in the Valley Of The Sun camp. Excited for your forthcoming European Tour.

Aaron: No problem, always glad to do an interview! We're excited for the tour as well, counting down the days until we leave.

You have a tour with Dot Legacy happening soon. What can people expect from the tour.

Aaron: Our last tour was all in Germany and Switzerland. So people at those concerts were able to see the band as a 4 piece, we've recently added a second guitar player. This tour is focused on territories outside of GSA, so it will be the first time for these fans to see the band as a 4 piece. As far as Dot Legacy, they're 4 French guys who jump around like crazy on stage. I think all those who come out will have a great night of rock and roll.


How did the tour with Dot Legacy came about. Were you fans of their music before arranging this tour.

Aaron: One of the guitar players for Dot Legacy is named Arnaud. He's been on every VotS tour, doing jobs from sound-guy, driver, and even playing bass on one tour. I also co-own a booking agency and backline company with him called Total Volume. We've been friends for years but our bands have never shared the same stage, so we wanted to rectify that situation and put a tour together with both of our bands.

You toured Europe already earlier this year. How was that reception to that European Tour.

Aaron: That tour was only in Germany and Switzerland. The reaction was great. We've spent the most time in Germany over the years so we've built a really solid fan-base there. It was a lot of fun, but I'm really looking forward to hitting many more countries and cities on this tour.

What were your favourite moments from that European tour.

Aaron: Towards the end of the tour we played in Frankfurt. It was a normal show, but that night I woke myself up with a massive fart. We all had a good laugh for about 10 minutes. It was hilarious. And that same night, Adam our guitar player, decided it would be funny to cover a passed out Ryan with these caramel corn puff snacks. When he woke up he had no idea how or why he was covered with these things. That was probably my favorite night, we were exhausted from being on the road for 3 weeks and all a bit slap happy.

Will you be performing dates in the USA after you return from Europe.

Aaron: We have one concert in the USA after we get back, but that's it. The US market is far different than the Euro market. Bands that can sell out 500 person rooms there play to 100 people a night if they're lucky here. It's crazy; you'll see a band travelling in a nightliner there, but when they're in the USA they're in a shitty 20 year old van that breaks down. If you don't have a major label behind you in the States you are struggling.


You released your superb new album – Volume Rock earlier this year. Congrats on another great album. Have you been pleased with the responses so far.

Aaron: It's my favorite album we've put out. It's the record I've always wanted to make with this band, I guess the third time is the charm. It received a lot of good reviews, but we haven't played live enough over there to really gauge the fan response. Honestly, at this point I feel like we're constantly trying to beat our first EP, "The Sayings of the Seers". People really loved that EP and it's a battle to try to one up it.

Was it an easy or harder process recording Volume Rock compared to your previous album.

Aaron: It was a really enjoyable experience. Our previous bass player who was with us for years had to leave, he was offered a career promotion that was too good to pass up. So Ryan and I decided to write and record this album with just the two of us. We don't have the same taste in music, but we were able to perfectly blend our tastes and styles and make an album we both really love. Many people don't know this, but "Sayings" was also recorded by just Ryan and I.

Did you do anything different when recording Volume Rock.

Aaron: We really didn't do anything differently. We worked at the same studio with the same producer as our previous albums, so everybody already had relationships with each other and knew everyone's work styles. It was an enjoyable experience. The only different approach was that the aim was to make a straight forward rock album in Valley of the Sun style. Our last full length we tried to push some boundaries a bit and the songs weren't as easy to catch on to, we wanted to make this one as easy to digest as possible.

You've hooked up with Fuzzorama Records (Truckfighters Record Label) once again to release your new album. Why did you choose Fuzzorama Records.

Aaron: We've been friends with the Truckfighters guys for years now. And we have a contract with them for multiple albums ;)

Did you have offers from other record labels.

Aaron: We had some licensing offers, but nothing that we felt happy with. The music industry is a tough place, and realistically no deal is that great anymore. I've got friends who have been on major labels, going on massive tours and walked away penniless. When we signed the deal with Fuzzorama we were happy with the terms. This is by no means a job for us, it's a very expensive hobby that let's us travel a bit and meet some awesome people.

You've played Truckfighters a number of times over the last few years. I saw you guys in London back in 2014 and you kicked ass. Made me a fan of your band that very night. Was that intimidating supporting a band such as Truckfighters who have a brilliant and well deserved live reputation. Or did you just focus on your own thing.

Aaron: We've known them since 2011 when we did a USA support tour for them that I booked. It was their first time in the States. Our music is different as is our live show. Dango jumps higher than anyone in VotS, but they've never had a drummer who performs as crazy as I do, so it's cool ha-ha

You can't let other bands intimidate you, you just have to go on stage and own it. If anything, knowing you're playing with great live bands drives you to up your performance.


Did the guys provide any helpful advice during your time supporting them and working with them over the last few years. Not a bad choice of guys to have fighting in your corner.

Aaron: They've been great to work with and have provided us a lot of help. I'm happy that we've been able to have the relationship with them that we've had.

Well Adam thanks for doing this interview. All the best for the European Tour. Hope you have a blast. Before you go do you have anything to say to your fans.

Aaron: Thanks for doing the interview! I'd like to encourage all of our fans to come see the band this tour. We'll be taking a break after this run and won't be back with the regularity that we have been for the last couple of years.

Words by Steve Howe and Aaron Boyer

Thanks to Richard at Sheltered Life PR for arranging this interview. Thanks to Aaron for taking the time out to talking to me. You can buy Volume Rock here.

Links


-----------2016 European Tour-----------

UK dates presented by Snuff Lane

22/9 Manchester, UK Rebellion Manchester
23/9 Bristol, UK The Mothers' Ruin
24/9 London, UK The Unicorn Camden Live

27/9 Malle, Belgium Jeugdhuis Babylon
28/9 Ghent, Belgium Muziekcentrum Kinky Star
29/9 Caen, FR La Demeurée
30/9 Nantes, FR La Scène Michelet
1/10 Paris, FR Espace B Paris
3/10 Poitiers, FR @le cluricaume cafe
4/10 Olten, CHF Le Coq d’Or
5/10 Munich, DE @ 8 Below
6/10 Berlin, DE Urban Spree
7/10 Halle, DE Rockpool eV
8/10 Chemnitz, DE @Zukunft
11/10 Cluj-Napoca, ROM @The Shelter
12/10 Bucharest, ROM Fabrika
13/10 Sofia, Bulgaria Mixtape
14/10 Larissa, GR @stage club
15/10 Athens, GR Death Disco