Saturday, 27 May 2017

Wax Ruins - HEAVYGAZER (Album Review)


Release date: May 20th 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

HEAVYGAZER – Tracklisting

Exploits Of Man
Praise a Name
Temple Smoke
Clarity and Inclusions
(Sparks) Into Mountains
Return
Strange Sorcery

Members:

Brian E. Smith
Blake McWhorter
Mark Baker

Review:


Wax Ruins is a band from Texas, USA that specializes in a different kind of Doom Metal sound. The band takes influence from bands diverse such as Ride, Tool, Torche and Yob. Their debut album - HEAVYGAZER - is a complex and progressive sounding album that pushes the boundaries between Indie Rock style anthems with a heavy Sludge/Doom Metal outlook. Distorted and full of psychedelic experimental riffs that allow the band to create something you don't hear every day.

Opening track - Exploits Of Man - is an almost twelve minute epic that opens with indie/shoegaze rock theatrics before heavy moments of Sludge/Stoner riffs appear with trippy vocals leading the way. The band adds a YOB style gloomy atmosphere to their music. The song never becomes bogged down by the different ideas and sounds that Wax Ruins have at their disposal. Moments of drone rock appear and it allows the music to flow more naturally.

Second track - Praise A Name - opens with a long drawn out psychedelic drone sound merged with sludgy/stoner based guitars. The song slowly builds up an exciting rhythm before a Torche style atmosphere appears. The drumming is calm and precise before the song moves into firmer Sludge/Stoner Rock territory. This song is perhaps the more Sludge/Stoner rock sounding song on the album. Wax Ruins may play it too safe on this track but it's still an excellent track that showcases their song-writing talents to great effect.

The next two tracks - 'Temple Smoke' and 'Clarity and Inclusions' - both see Wax Ruins tease the audience again with the change of direction in their sound as the album moves from different genres again. You're treated to moments of psychedelic rock, sludge, doom and stoner riffs with the band showing a great talent for sonic experimentation. The vocals and lyrics have a bleak outlook to them and may prove off-putting for some listeners.

HEAVYGAZER isn't an album for everyone. It's a challenging album to listen to but if you put the time in then you will richly be rewarded with a complex sounding album.

The fifth track - (Sparks) Into Mountains - is without question the standout track on the album. Sixteen minutes of pure doom/sludge/psych/prog rock experimentation where the band throws everything at you. It's quite an uplifting track despite the bleak moments that appear on the song. There is a definite YOB influence on this song with the band managing to create their own sound.

The final two tracks - Return and Strange Sorcery - offer two final rounds of trippy psychedelic stoner/doom based moments with elements of Post-Rock making more of an appearance. Though after hearing this album multiple times over the last few days I'm beginning to hear the Post-Rock vibe a lot more. A sign at how talented these guys are in creating weird and wonderful sounding heavy music. The production on HEAVYGAZER is incredible as the album is loud and intense from the start.

The album artwork is striking and matches the mood perfectly that the album conveys. If you're in the mood for a different sounding Doom/Stoner Metal album then HEAVYGAZER is the album for you. It's perhaps the best debut album I've heard this year and that's saying something. HEAVYGAZER is a brilliantly complex and uplifting album.

Words by Steve Howe

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Dö - Astral:Death/Birth (EP Review)


Release date: May 26th 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD

Astral: Death/Birth – Tracklisting

1.Astral Death 07:46
2.Astral Birth 12:16

Members:

Big Dog (guitar)
Joe E. Deliverance (drums & vox)
Deaf Hank (bass & lead vox)

Review

Firstly I have to apologize to Dö for not reviewing their excellent debut album – Tuho – which was released last year. Sometimes I miss albums when they're originally released and that was one of those times. I'm not making the same mistake with Dö superb new EP – Astral: Death/Birth. A twenty minute two song EP which is packed with delicious dark stoner/sludge/doom riffs.

With these guys being from Finland, you can expect heavy riffs from the start. Opening track – Astral Death – is an ugly sounding track at times with Deaf Hank's vocals providing a nightmarish feel. Dö's sound has a slight punk based vibe and the sound can be very raw at times but it allows the band to merge different sounds for quite an unsettling feel. Deaf Hank's vocals veer from clean based growls to almost death/harsh vocals.

Second track – Astral Birth – is a more upbeat track with the band returning to their earlier spaced out sounds. A different contrast to the opening track and this is perhaps the standout track on the EP. Dö play slow-paced riffs with moments of ambient noises interacting with the Doom/Stoner riffs being played in the background. Dö feel they were influenced by BONG at times as this track has an Ambient Doom feel to it. Though the band return to the EP's heavier sludge/doom metal roots as the once upbeat vibe is obliterated to kingdom come with pissed off vocals and riffs.

Truth be told I wanted the band to keep on playing their more psychedelic stoner based sound as it was a cool contrast to the opening track. The EP leaves you slightly depressed and wanting more at the same time. Astral: Death/Birth is another winning release from Dö and long-time fans of the band will find much to enjoy here.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe


Smoke Mountain - S/T (EP Review)


Release date: May 01st 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD

Smoke Mountain – S/T – Tracklisting

1.Demon 04:36
2.Violent Night 05:22
3.Smoke Mountain 06:24

Members:

Brian Pitt - Drums
Lee Pitt - Guitar
Sarah Pitt - Vocals

Review

Florida Doom/Stoner Rockers – Smoke Mountain – arrive with a highly confident debut EP. The EP flows naturally with Doom orientated Stoner riffs with Sarah's vocals added a more earthly feel. Sure you've heard this style of Doom/Stoner Metal a hundred times before but that doesn't stop it being a highly energetic slice of Doom/Stoner Metal.

Opening track – Demon – has a cool Blues Rock/Fuzz based feel even if on the slightly demonic side. Sarah proves she's not meant to be messed around with judging by the spiky and tongue in cheek lyrics fused into the song. You can hear shades of classic Black Sabbath guitar riffs lurking in the background and it's good to hear Smoke Mountain opting for a more classic Doom Metal sound.

Second track – Violent Night – carries on the demented and violent Doom Metal sound with delicious strands of violent fuzz making their appearance known. Smoke Mountain excel in creating nightmarish classic sounds. Sarah once again excels singing dark tales of despair and madness with a hypnotic addictive edge. The instrumental work is good for the most part with Brian and Lee making their presence known with heavy riffs from the start.

Third track – Smoke Mountain – is the standout song on the album where the band showing their most ruthless and creative streak. The song has a more distorted and lo-fi sound but it works in the bands favour as they slowly build up the tension by creating a classic doom and gloom atmosphere. Sarah's vocals are spooky and demented yet again with the harsh lyrics that will leave you looking over your shoulder.

Smoke Mountain's debut EP is a thrilling encounter of modern Doom/Stoner Metal that pays tribute to the classic bands that came before them. I hope Smoke Mountain have a more longer EP or full length album in the works as I definitely want to hear more.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Links:

Facebook | BandCamp

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Black Pussy - Power (Album Review)


Release date: May 30th 2017. Label: Made In China Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Power – Tracklisting

1.Introduction
2.Take You There
3.Slice Of Paradise
4.Parasols
5.Home Sweet Home
6.Full Tilt Boogie
7.Indians
8.Girlfriend
9.I Wanna Get High
10.The Way I Want You

Members:

VOCALS, RHYTHM & LEAD GUITARS, PERCUSSION and BASS - DUSTIN HILL
RHYTHM & LEAD GUITARS -RYAN McINTIRE
DRUMS - DEAN CARROLL
BASS - AARON POPLIN
PIANOS, ORGANS, CLAVINET, SYNTHS, PERCUSSION & BACK-UP VOCALS - KEITH O’DELL

BACK-UP VOCALS - ADAM PIKE & GINGER HEBERT

Review

Power is the new album from apparently "America's Most Controversial Rock Band" - Black Pussy. Before I start this review I'm not going to get into the controversy of the band's name and if they should change it or not. I've been a huge fan of Black Pussy for the last few years now and I'm here to concentrate on the music. Though no doubt I will get my usual standard response of "How can you support a band like that" after I've reviewed the album. I have with previous albums and I expect the same for Power.

Anyway, back to the review. Power is a more stripped back affair compared to Magic Mustache. The album is more rooted in seventies Classic Psych Rock with flourishes of modern Stoner Rock sounds. You can still hear the familiar Black Pussy riffs throughout the album. Opening track - Introduction - is a keyboard driven psych instrumental piece. It's not the most exciting songs to open the album with but it does prepare you for the seventies mood flowing on the majority of the album.

Second track - Take You There - is classic Black Pussy sound but with a more focused classic rock sound. Dustin's vocals are superb from the start with the catchy lyrics creating a feel good atmosphere. The music drifts from psych rock to a faster stoner rock vibe. This is what Black Pussy are experts at. Creating highly addictive riffs with huge sing-along choruses. The easy-going seventies vibe is a permanent fixture on Power compared to their other albums. The keyboards add a really nice touch and gives Black Pussy's sound a much bigger feel.

Third track - Slice Of Paradise - captures Black Pussy at their wicked best with sleazy lyrics and classic stoner sounds. This is the song that sees Black Pussy become a very different sounding band compared to their earlier albums. Black Pussy become more confident with their seventies style influences and they start to have more fun with their music.

Fourth track - Parasols - carries on the laid-back approach with the song telling a story of folks trying to escape to Mexico. The music contains yet again impressive keyboard/organ playing from Keith. The song has such an uplifting sunny vibe with the band expertly merging rock sounds from the last forty years or so and making it sound so fresh.

Fifth track - Home Sweet Home - is perhaps the weakest song on the album for myself. That's not to say it's a bad song. It's not. It's catchy and Black Pussy play some fine riffs. The song feels flat compared to the other songs on the album. Black Pussy are trying too hard on this song. That's the only complaint I have for Power. Home Sweet Home feels out of place compared to the other songs.

Power soon returns to winning ways with Full Tilt Boogie, Indians and Girlfriend being perhaps the strongest songs on the album. Overall, Power is another great album from Black Pussy and one that proves they're one of the best Stoner Rock bands around. Though controversy always follow the band around and I don't see that ever going away. It may become an occupational hazard with the band as their reputation will grow considerably more with this album. If that's a good thing then only time will tell.

Black Pussy are seasoned pros dealing with the negativity and controversy surrounding their name. For me, I consider Black Pussy as a band who play music that makes you smile and leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Power is a stunning album packed with great songs and one that shows why Black Pussy are very highly thought of within the Stoner Rock scene.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Made In China Records for the promo. Power will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Made In China Records from May 30th 2017.

Links:


Record Label To Check Out - Wicked Lester Records


Wicked Lester Records is run by Graham Bywater from Possessor. So far they have released the awesome EP by Mesmer and are currently working on future releases which will be announced very soon.

Mesmer EP



Keep an eye on Wicked Lester Records as they will be releasing more great albums in the near future.

Links

Facebook | BigCartel

Kong Lives - KONG SAVES (EP Review)


Release date: May 2nd 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Kong Saves – Tracklisting

1.Dimitri 07:42
2.Death, And Other Privilege 04:49
3.McMaggot 06:01
4.Thoughts Of Future Past (feat. Sam 'Slam' Wall) 09:25

Members:

Dai - Guitar/Vocals
Dibble - Bass/Vocals
Kane - Guitar/Vocals
Luke - Drums/Vocals

Review

Kong Lives is a Stoner/Doom/Post-Metal band from Newport, UK. According to their band line-up, each member provides vocals on their new EP – Kong Saves. It's a heavy affair with the band showing a distinct taste of filth-ridden grooves and riffs. I don't know who is the actual lead vocalist but whoever it is they do a great job on the opening track – Dimitri.

Dimitri blends post-metal/hardcore sounds with a murky Doom/Stoner Metal vibe. The whole mood is filtered with heavy psychedelic noises as Kong Lives play to their strengths. The production is handled surprisingly well for their debut release. It has a DIY feel at times but the whole album sounds good from start to finish. Kong Lives will surprise a lot of people with their debut release. As the band switches gears and start playing a more direct progressive rock sound. Clean vocals appear for a brief moment before the band return to the earlier hardcore based growls.

Second track – Death, And Other Privilege – opts for a more Sludge Rock sound with hints of NOLA style riffage. It's not as polished as the opening track but it has a high amount of cool riffs. The vocals remain with the early hardcore growls with moments of clean angry pissed off vocals. The music is the main highlight here as Kong Lives inject a fresh and manic sound at times.

Third track – McMaggot – is the more Stoner Rock/Metal orientated song on this EP and it's good to hear Kong Lives open the song with a slow-paced riff. You are still treated to moments of heavy filthy doom but the overall mood remains within the bleak Stoner Metal world.

The final track - Thoughts Of Future Past – is perhaps the strongest track on the EP as the band take influence from Ufomammut at times. Heavy spaced out sounds merged with the killer vocals from Sam 'Slam' Wall from Judas Cradle. Psychedelic Doom noises interact with post-metallic vibes that leave you wanting more.

Kong Saves is a stunning debut EP from a band who have huge potential. They're not the finished article yet but these guys are definitely worth keeping an eye on. I'm intrigued to see what these guys can do when let loose in a professional recording studio and perhaps when they've released a full length album. Time will tell......

Words by Steve Howe

Links:


Monday, 22 May 2017

VOKONIS - The Sunken Djinn (Album Review)


Release date: June 09th 2017. Label: Ripple Music. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

The Sunken Djinn – Tracklisting

The Sunken Djinn
Calling From The Core
The Coldest Night
Blood Vortex
Architect Of Despair
Rapturous
Maelstroem

Members:

Guitar & Vocals - Simon
Drums - Emil
Bass - Jonte

Review

You can never keep a good band away and that is especially true for Swedish Doomsters - Vokonis - who are about to release their new second full length album on Ripple Music. The Sunken Djinn. Coming almost fifteen months after their celebrated debut album - Olde One Ascending. The Sunken Djinn is a better-rounded and doomier affair with the previous albums Stoner sounds giving way to a more psychedelic and sludgier groove. You can still hear that addictive Vokonis groove first heard on their debut album. The album has a more intense heavy metal feel with Vokonis taking influence from classic eighties sounding heavy metal artists at times.

Opening track - The Sunken Djinn - has recently been released as seven inch single which sold out in double quick time. Vokonis have a slight nautical feel to their music on this song with the music being merged with a deep nautical influence. The lyrics and vocals are superbly put together and they have a cool understated feel to them. Though it's the riffs and Simon's near pitch perfect vocals add a real sense of importance and urgency to the overall flow of the album.

The opening track sets the scene for the remainder of the album to follow with songs such as Calling From The Core, The Coldest Night, Blood Vortex and Architect Of Despair. The songs run between the four minute to six minute mark and this allows Vokonis to explore and experiment more with their more progressive sounds. Especially with the albums psychedelic sounds as it adds a more world weary feel to the album.

The production is handled superbly well and that is what you expect from a Ripple Records release. When have those guys ever released a bad sounding record. I can't think of any. The Sunken Djinn is a doom metal album in every sense of the term and this is an album that will no doubt send Vokonis onto greater things. Vokonis take influence from their musical heroes and you can hear familiar sounds but Vokonis still manage to create their own sound.

The band becomes permanent doom dwellers with the music nightmarish in scope. Sue the last song - Maelstrom - embraces a less enjoyable dronish aspect but that doesn't stop Vokonis becoming one of the best upcoming bands within the Doom Metal world. High praise. Maybe, but Vokonis have delivered the goods with this album. Fans of Black Sabbath, High On Fire and Mastodon will find much to admire and riff-worship here.

Vokonis have delivered not only of the year's best Doom Metal album but perhaps one of the best albums of the year.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Richard at Sheltered Life PR and Vokonis for the promo. The Sunken Djinn will be available to buy via Ripple Music from June 09th 2017 on CD/DD/Vinyl.

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