As you are undoubtedly aware, a team of battle-scarred (yet remarkably personable) scribes have recently moved into our humble Village. First out of the gate is the mighty Ancient Hand. Best give him your undivided attention voluntarily, lest he demand it. - Mgmt
Black Tongue’s sound is made to be the heaviest thing in the known universe. There’s no flash or unnecessary showiness in their music; it simply wants to be as heavy as it possibly can. On their last record (2015’s “The Unconquerable Dark”), Black Tongue did an incredible job blending funeral doom and deathcore to create a deep, heavy, and monumental record that bridged the gap between two very different sub-genres of metal. Now, in 2018, Black Tongue have undertaken a follow-up release that seeks to solidify their sound and add new elements on top of it.
Right as the record kicks off, it’s clear that Black Tongue is trying some new things out. The ambient guitar work that builds to an ominous breakdown drips with dark atmosphere. The opening track itself, “The Eternal Return to Ruin,” features lyrics that elevate the album to heavenly heights, while also featuring vocals that sound as though they were birthed from the deepest pit of Hell. The lyrical themes are consistent throughout much of the release; the afterlife, pain, death, hopelessness, and the abuse of God and people are all used to create one of the darkest records of the year.
This record also features heavy influences from black metal that the band pushes to the forefront of many songs. Most notably, the beginning of “The Cathedral” burns with the same intensity of Norway’s churches in the early 90's.
In addition to wearing black metal influences on their sleeve, Black Tongue covers Celtic Frost’s classic “A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh,” and, to my surprise, they do a wonderful job. Singing is retained for this song (its only instance on the entire record), but Black Tongue still manages to make it their own with their signature sound towards the end of the track. Other songs to note are the punishing “Contrapasso” and the crushing “Parting Soliloquy.” The former also makes use of black metal influences from shrieks to tremolo-picked guitars, and the latter features some of the most haunting vocals I have heard all year with the repetition of “Please don’t leave me here” layered over harsh noise that sends shivers down my spine after multiple listens.
Overall, this record brings Black Tongue to the next level. It is very clear that they mean business, and their goal of blending these two seemingly contrasting sounds of deathcore and doom metal can still have even more sounds added into it. With a release this varied in metal influences, lyrical quality, and consistency between songs, I think it’s safe to say that Black Tongue have created one of the most punishing, dark, and stellar metal albums of the year.
Written by: Ancient Hand
It’s Sunday, & you know what that means. We’ve had our black coffee + black metal, & now that we’re all keyed up, it’s time to kick back with some old-skool doom. As you may know, we spend time every Sunday exploring highlighting a lesser-known band that carries the mantle of Sabbathian legacy. Today we briefly shine the light on @witcherscreed, a young band whose very promising EPs are ample advertisement for their forthcoming debut. Slip on those headphones & dim the lights, dear reader; it’s time for #sabbathsunday.
When we talk about bands that emulate the 70’s, the risk is always that the group in question misses the encompassing sound of the decade in favor of poaching a little too aggressively. Not so here. While, for example, lead single Salem (Resurrection) feels Sabbathian in its mass, and demo 1’s self titled track has distinct Mississippi Queen vibes, Witchers Creed ain’t a copy/paste type of band. With boulderous (indeed, Mountain-esque) riffage liberally interrupted by acid-washed solos, a deliberate drumming style that recalls Baker’s contributions to Cream’s more straightforward numbers, & deliciously understated vocal harmonies, Witches Creed comes at the 70’s with a fresh-faced enthusiasm demonstrated by their many influences. Like early Saint Vitus or Pagan Altar, these young’uns display a delightful confidence, unmarred by uncomfortably clean production. Modern attempts at retro doom tend to focus exclusively on the nasty riff, & less so on the intricacies that keep things interesting. As mentioned, the soloing here is extensive & playful--this guy must know he can shred with a vibrant jubilance, & doesn’t allow stale notions of song construction to clip the wings of his stellar axemanship.
With a total of four distinct tracks up on bandcamp, burning through Witchers Creed isn’t exactly a major time investment--but oh, is it ever time well spent. That said, look for their debut album, courtesy of Ripple Music, sometime in the near future. If Awakened From the Tomb… is anything like what we’ve heard thusfar, the Sleeping Village certifies that it’s gonna be damn good.
Witchers Creed can be found at:
Some demos are rough ‘round the edges, & that is to be expected--but this statement should, under no circumstances, be taken to imply that Soul Grinder’s debut effort is somehow incomplete or unintentionally unfinished. Rather, I’m suggesting that instead of accepting a certain roughness as inevitable, these Portland-based thrashers tied their debut EP to the mast, broke out the trusty ol’ cat-o-nines, & lashed away until there weren’t any tangible edges left. Terraflesh is a wounded & angry beast of an EP, & Soul Grinder has made evident that they are not, in fact, here to mess around.
Vocals are the obvious first stop on our trip down Soul Grinder lane. At first blush, the wild-eyed April “Prilzor” Dimmick recalls Benatar at her sticky-sweetest. This carpet is promptly & elegantly pulled out, however, as she switches gears into a significantly more visceral affair. On first-round listens here at the Village, our monkish librarian astutely remarked that for any lovers of medieval literature Prilzor’s shriekish tone is like unto the vox of Grendel’s mother: grisly, rageful, tortured. Her true strength, however, is the uncanny ability to switch between a sensual croon to throat shredding howls within the span of a syllable. As the most effortless display of musicianship Soul Grinder has to offer, it lends a certain bent to the entire package. But that ain’t all to love.
Instrumentally, the guitar is clunky ‘n’ chunky, full of hooky leads & (combat) boot-stomping riffs. Timing feels a tad rushed in parts, but that is, undeniably, part of the appeal. As I mentioned several weeks ago, Soul Grinder a just a little discordant, but a whole lot unhinged--& that’s the entire reason we seek out such thrashy ‘n’ groovy tunage. In other words, we’re not here for precision. We’re here for chaos, & in this sense, axeman Alex Avery absolutely delivers. With that said, there are the occasional moments of pure NWOBHM fervor--take, for example, the intro on Hound of Doom, which strongly recalls both Maiden’s trademark gallop & Priest’s leather-clad badassery. Despite the outward appearance of wild abandon, Mr. Kevin Ross does a fantastic job holding everything together in the rhythm section, with drums on the title track worth particular mention. Aggressive & dense, a delightfully bonky moment in the spotlight helps break up the template.
I do, as the critic in the room, have a small bone to pick with the songwriting. The EP starts out with its best foot forward, & is, as a result, pretty frontheavy. Towards the end, it feels like difference in delivery--the singsong chorus on Iron Crone, for example--is what keeps the individual tracks distinct, rather than a more fluid & exploratory approach to composition. While not truly a significant issue here, adopting more break-the-pattern moments might prevent stagnation further down the line. But to reiterate, Terraflesh is an effort where sheer energy, not needle-threading precision, is the name of the game. As an embodiment of heavy metal’s bloody take-no-prisoners ethos, this flayed monstrosity of a demo comes highly recommended.
This particular Sleeping Village owes a massive debt to Black Sabbath…& not just because we blatantly lifted our moniker from their plunder-worthy supply of deepcuts. Because Sabbath have left such a veritable canyon in the firmament of heavy music, we dedicate every Sunday to exploring their own discography, or to highlighting a lesser-known band that carries the mantle of Sabbathian legacy. Today it's a case of the latter, as we briefly review Lunar Eclipse, the 2nd EP from @Stonus.band, a stoner doom outfit from Cyprus. Slip on those headphones & dim the lights, dear reader; it’s time for Sabbath Sunday.
Perhaps the ultimate touchstone for stoner doom & space-rock is Planet Caravan. While Stonus runs the gamut from hard rock to blatant psydoom, this EP is a gradual voyage that results in an updated approximation of the universe-traversing aesthetic. Aspirin, the 1st track proper, is a Pagan Altar-eque rocker with muffled vocals, jubilant cymbals, & some wonderfully catchy licks. It’s an enjoyably unpredictable track in & of itself...but then Spiritual Realities kicks into gear, & Stonus deftly maneuvers their way through a tonal shift, demonstrating modern prog leanings à la Tool. Just when you feel like you have some sort of handle on what to expect, the title track leaves firm ground & goes for a bit of a jaunt through the ether. To describe Lunar Eclipse as “chill” feels diminutive, but honestly, this is a supremely laid-back experience--yet still rockin’ enough to facilitate attention to the details.
The intro & outro feel unnecessary & add little to the atmosphere, but as the aforementioned songs are simply outstanding, this is a minor quibble. No bones about it: this EP is a fun & relaxing listen, not least because of the obvious attention paid towards consistent exploration. Stonus may not be innovators & wayfinders per se, but their ability to avoid getting lost in the stereotypical stoner doldrums is incredibly admirable--a trait that sets them far beyond their many colleagues in the genre. Despite sounding familiar, Stonus are genuinely unique.
For this week’s humble sampler, we’re turning the spotlight on a small DIY label from Quebec City, land of my ancestors. Specializing in slow-burning, distortion-heavy riffage, @from_the_urn are curators of the highest order. Without further ado, let’s get fuzzy.
SLOTHER - MMXVII
Want a succinctly accurate descriptor? Slother delineates their sound thusly: “damp riffs.” Certainly makes sense for a sound that was discovered in the depths of the St. Lawrence & thrust into mildew’d, barnacle-infested service. Sopping tone notwithstanding, Slother deals in an obtusely visceral blend of sludge & slasher aesthetics. If that ain’t enough to wet your whistle, the leisurely harsh vocals should seal the deal. This demo is massively promising.
STONED HORSES - Horstrummental
While never having witnessed a stoned horse, draught horses are my speed. I can safely say that this band potentially pulls as much weight as a Percheron or Clydesdale. A vocal-less endeavor, rippling muscular riffage is Stoned Horse’s forte. Nothing groundbreaking on display here, but if you like hardworking, frothy-mouthed tone, you’ve certainly come to the right place. À 2 jours de cheval, in particular, comes highly recommended.
GRAND MORNE - S/T
My father, on Rush’s Snakes & Arrows: “For 3 dudes, they make a lot of noise!” Something quite similar can be said here. Grand Morne is built on a simple foundation. Guitar, bass, drums? One of each. Vocals? Largely unnecessary. Despite these self-inflicted limitations, Grand Morne creates one helluva racket & absolutely slays in the composition game, crafting a sonically diverse palate across the stoner & doom spectrums. For comparison, try Voivod’s progressive tendencies & the crunchy menace of early Cathedral on for size. I love this album, & sincerely hope that Grand Morne’s forthcoming full length projects them as serious contenders in front of a wider audience.
SONS OF GEEZORA - S/T
Fear not, Kaiju lovers. The Village’s plague doctor will be seeing this bad boy shortly.
From the Urn Records can be found:
On a Friday morning, after a long work week of further pulverizing our broken, beat ‘n’ scarred eardrums, it behooves us motley villagers to get our mind out of the sonic gutters & seek out a bit of a palate cleanser. To this end, we offer @shadow_horse, a trio of self-described mythic rockers hailing from the wilds of Nashville, TN. More specifically, we present their latest single + resplendent music video, which premieres today over at spotify & the youtubery. We’ve been enjoying this track a helluva lot over this past week, &, seeing how it's OUT NOW, we heartily recommend you give it a watch (& a whirl).
Shadow Horse deal in modern rock of the epic variety--in comparison to your classic rocker, the underlying structure & lyrical content point toward archetypal sensibilities. Their debut album focused, conceptually, on a hero’s journey undertaken by the titular Visitor. The Choice doesn't appear to fit within a continuing storyline, but nonetheless remains within the established thematic oeuvre.
Instrumentally, there’s a similarity to Point of Know Return era Kansas. While the guitar itself feels supportive rather than technical, Lane Dudley isn’t afraid to approach the progressive bar, making bombastic use of his full register. As a result, the vocals are a little high in the mix, & some subtlety in this regard would add further dynamism to the overall sound. That said, there’s no question: this guy holds a mean note. Bass remains impressively prevalent, which, given the limited membership, certainly helps fill out the fold, especially giving an mellow (albeit song-appropriate) solo. The video itself--something we admittedly rarely deal in--is a pretty & well-shot affair. A lil’ less gritty than we’re used to, but a clean & honed aesthetic vision is evident.
All told, The Choice is A. definitely worth your while, & B. definitely worth coming back to. A solid choice, as it were.
Shadow Horse can be found:
Welcome to a special edition of Sabbath Sunday! Today, the utterance of “Sleeping Village” isn’t always an act of self-aggrandizement. Our motley township owes an obvious debt to Black Sabbath…but @sleepingvillageband, today’s group in question, also lifted their moniker from Sababth’s plunder-worthy supply of deepcuts. The Birmingham Four have left a veritable canyon in the firmament of heavy music. As such, we dedicate every Sunday to recounting the history of their own discography, or to highlighting a lesser-known band carrying the mantle of Sabbathian legacy. Today, it's a case of the latter, as we briefly review Among the Gods, Sleeping Village’s debut EP.
Sleeping Village's style is unexpectedly varied, which is to say that Among the Gods doesn’t lean on the stereotypical Sabbath sound. While the elements are there--thick ‘n’ groovy guitar & bluesy bass that follows the riff--Sleeping Village has made a well-adjusted effort to play a nuanced love letter to ye doom of olde, intelligently picking & choosing qualities from influences galore. The nonchalant vocal delivery, for example, is similar to Zeeb Parkes on Friends of Hell-era Witchfinder. The emphasis on adventurous soloing recalls early Pentagram. The somber momentum on the (particularly rockin’) Lucky 7’s recalls the drive of Saint Vitus’ Clear Windowpane. I could go on, but here’s the bottom line: if you like doom that absolutely oozes that sweet retro sound, I have little doubt Sleeping Village will let you down. In this sense, Sleeping Village truly lives Among the Gods.
The four tracks presented here feel very distinct, & thus, its frankly difficult to select a favorite. Ultimately, the title track feels like it illustrates the band’s strengths most effectively. A sneering chorus, backed by the fuzziest guitar tone money can buy, builds towards a galaxy-spanning solo--all the makings of a great tune.
Highly recommended. From one Sleeping Village to another: keep it up. We’re quite excited to hear what comes next!
Sleeping Village can be found:
A tad tardy for a review, perhaps, but as a late-in-the-year discovery, The Necromancers’ self-titled debut is worth the mention. But first: some poetic waxing.
Victims of hypothermia encounter a stage immediately before death where nerve damage makes them feel paradoxically warm--so warm that they remove clothing & allow themselves to succumb to the inevitable. At risk of sounding melodramatic, such is the comfort one finds in the gloomy embrace of doom’s inhospitable atmosphere. Despite the down-tuned drone, the lyrics evoking despair, & the general pea-soup atmosphere, doom lends a warm-and-cuddly feeling that other genres under the umbrella of ‘extreme metal’ typically lack. In Servant’s of the Salem Girl’s best moments (of which there are many), The Necromancers offer this full embrace.
This album makes a distinct break from the doom hallmark of pervasive fuzziness. The intro to Beyond the Black Marble House, for example, presents a freshly scrubbed guitar that elegantly rises above the low end. The bass is similarly void of filth, sounding crisp & deliberate. Drone this is not, but it still sounds irrevocably like doom. Lucifer’s Kin evokes Sabbath’s Children of the Grave, plain & simple, but with this production, it sounds anything but derivative.
Salem Girl Part I is a beast, to be sure, one of my 2017 Songs of the Year. Here, Tom Corniere-David’s ability to turn the aggression in his voice on & off with the flip of a switch is a supremely endearing quality--I find myself leaning into choruses, anticipating the moment sweetly crooned vocals become grim and mean. Side B is a small letdown compared to the brilliance of the first few tracks, with Salem Girl pt. II providing more of a one-armed hug than the real deal. Otherwise, The Necromancers' atmosphere will draw you in. Let it happen.
The Necromancers – Servants of the Salem Girl was released August 2017 from Ripple Music
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!