Written by: Loveloth
How does a band evoke the feelings of melancholy? The approach varies from genre to genre, but using the minor scale is a definite foundation. After that anything is game, and as a result, any sadboi--like yours truly--has a plethora of options to choose from. The most extreme examples are the DSBM and adjacent black metal genres. There, melancholy manifests through anguish and despair. Tremolo picking, shrieks and blast beats reign as lords, whereas on the opposite side of the spectrum, such as on the notorious pop ballads, we've got clean vocals covered by electronic-based instrumentation with slower paced beats.
I personally don't have any emotional responses when I hear most of that type of stuff due to how they're manufactured and how much they rely on cheap motifs. I realized this when I was a wee lad and as time went on, I searched far and wide for music to comfort, help me contemplate, and of course cope with any hardships I came across. At one point in time, I found myself listening to “Lethean” by Katatonia via a great YouTube recommendation, remember those? I was stunned with its energy and heaviness, and by the time Jonas Renkse's vocals kicked in, I was hooked. To this very day, Dead End Kings remains my favorite album by them and I would honestly put Katatonia right next to Opeth and that dude Devon Townsent as my go-to sadboi band.
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
It seems rather apparent that I don't review a lot of doom and sludge metal bands. It's not due a distaste for the genre, moresob just not looking hard enough. There are plenty of great albums/bands in the genre, but I find myself gravitating towards other sub-sects of the overarching metal genre. But here we have Of Wolves--a "newcomer" to the scene and already making a name for themselves due to the fact that they combine everything great with punk and metal. If you want crushing slow songs, you'll get them. If you want hardcore headbanging songs, you'll get them too.
Of Wolves have something to prove with their second album Balance. As for the quality of the songs... let's find out.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Context and expectations are important when listening to an album. Similar to going to a cheap ticket Tuesday movie, (remember those?) and being blown away and thoroughly entertained. A self released debut desert psych rock LP doesn't exactly tip the scales of excitement for one such as myself, but I was looking for a nice palate cleanser after listening to theBible Basher EP on repeat for two hours, and...spoiler alert! German psychonauts Hammada immediately caught my ear, and didn't let go for the entirety of the record.
Right from the get-go on "Occasus," they have a captivating balance, finely teetering between the spacey elements of psych and the heavy push of desert rock, almost doom at times. A huge plus for the band is the standout vocal performance, particularly on "Nox"--which, when combined with an organ laced riff, makes for a terrific single.
Airy, whispery vocals can sometimes lose themselves amongst the music, not a concern here where the leads are absolutely commanding for the most part, while being able to pull back when best suited. There's an impressive symmetry at play as well, which should've been a little bit more obvious perhaps, judging by the artwork. The way the record is broken into four 15 minute sections across the 7 tracks is satisfying, but the way they connect each section with a synthy zip-tie builds a cohesive story from start to finish.
One of the highlights on the album is "Heliokratia," a song that actually comes from their 2017 EP Sfaira, albeit with a little modern polish. Low and slow to start, flourishes of synth buoy an intoxicating bass tone that I would swim in if I could. Some of the softer vocals on the record to start, but they work well to aid the buildup before the full band kicks into gear into a roaring wall of fuzz. They mention desert vibes and atmospheric riffs in their bio, and they are delivered in spades throughout middle tracks "Ether" and "Helios." They bring it back down to earth for the transition into ‘Azimut’. Another solid track, with an organ laced furious finish that would’ve worked well to wrap up the LP in a nice 45 minute bow. Instead, ATMOS gives way to one last final 15 minute epic in "Domizil," a mostly grooving instrumental, until some final transcending chants bring things to a close.
I generally prefer an LP in the 40-45 minute range, but Hammada have no issues providing a captivating listen for a full hour. The initial listen as a palate cleanser did exactly as it should, but the subsequent listens have solidified this as a must listen if you’re a fan of anything psych rock related. A solid debut has them firmly on the radar for future releases. Check it out!
Hammada - ATMOS was independently released June 26th, 2020
In the rush to cover the constant waves of new music, we all too often neglect discussing the releases that leave the most substantial impressions in our lives. As such, we recently invited some bands and artists to wax poetic about an album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally. The fourth in this (increasingly popular, apparently!) series of guest reviews is Forest Bohrer of Adzes--who, incidentally, just put out a very good album that you can read about here. Read on!
Written by: Forest Bohrer
Time brings them all home
To the eye of every storm
Upon the landscape of heavy music, Neurosis looms. The Oakland-based collective has produced a slew of landmark records through the decades, influencing multiple generations of musicians and spawning entire genres of like-minded bands. Their most well-known record is the apocalyptic machine that is Through Silver In Blood, a sprawling seventy minutes of oppressive darkness. And yet, when I think of Neurosis records that had the profoundest influence on my life, 2004’s The Eye of Every Storm is the record I return to.
At the turn of the 21st century, the band had just delivered Times of Grace, a masterpiece perhaps even surpassing Through Silver In Blood in emotional weight and crushing sludge. And rather trying to reach the great heights of Times, or the depths of companion EP Sovereign, the band turned to a more contemplative, organic approach. A Sun That Never Sets and its successor The Eye of Every Storm featured gravelly singing, acoustic guitars, cellos, complex harmonies, and matured songwriting, but are no less weighty than other Neurosis albums for that.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Being born into a bible bashing religious cult/family is a traumatizing experience for a curious child. Something I've only started to fully grasp after countless hours and thousands of dollars in therapy. So when I saw the press release for a Bible Basher record featuring Tich of Temple of Coke, Joe E. Allen of Kurokuma and the doom doc featuring the UK underground, plus members of Archelon and Spaztik Munke, I knew I had to have it. I purchased a cassette copy instantly, I don't even own a tape player but I guess I'm on the lookout for one now.
Scathing, sacrilegious, supergroup sludge from Sheffield, UK, is exactly what the doctor ordered for this 2020 hellscape. “Words from the bible, riffs from hell.”
Written by: Volt Thrower
Skate rat doomers LáGoon are back again! Following up the maniacal mushroom meltdown of Maa Kali Trip from earlier this year, the two-piece has apparently one-upped into a power trio after seeing the light. They kicked ass as a duo, but have found that missing piece that will really solidify their status in the stoner rock world. Now with their fourth full length and seventh release in just a shade over two years, they remind me of King Blizzard and the Hizzard Whatevers...except LáGoon's music is actually enjoyable.
In all seriousness I do enjoy KG+tLW, I was obsessed with Im in Your Mind Fuzz in 2014/15, but have not been a huge fan of anything else until their latest. LáGoon, however, have been nothing short of a rocketship ascending.
Written by: Shane Thirteen
When I was in school in the mid to late 80's, Dungeons and Dragons was the Friday night pizza-fueled, soda pop-buzzin, eye-buggin fantasy fodder for me and all my friends. Friday night we would meet at Rex's house to play 'till late into the night.
When I saw the name Bog Wizard I was instantly traversed back to the campaigns of war and adventure of my youth. Now my band of merry warriors has a soundtrack: Bog Wizard! This power doom sludge trio from Michigan is thickness incarnate, so much so that the tracks laid down in From The Mire, in my opinion, should spark its own sub category in the stoner/doom/ sludge scene. This new sub-genre could be called, say: Northern Tundra Thickness Doom.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Winnipeg, Manitoba: a misunderstood and often unknown entity on the global stage. Easy to overlook, easy to make the butt of a joke--but those who have spent time here know there is a veritable treasure trove of historical or natural beauty to stumble upon. There is of course a dark history (and present) of racial injustice and a growing class divide, but this observation isn’t meant to politicize the intro--just a quick backdrop for sources of inspiration that manifest themselves in a sometimes devastatingly beautiful art scene. One such iteration of that specific art is the burgeoning sludge metal scene, an umbrella I'm willing to stretch a bit just to shine a deserving light on some local artists who know how to bring the heavy.
Now: on to some music, shall we?
Written by: Shane Thirteen
I am child of the 70's, born into the world during the height of Martial Arts media mayhem. I was born into a world of ninjas, samurai, and shoguns. By the time the 1980's rolled around, I could reenact battle scenes from the popular mini series Shogun with my friends in the back yard. Chuck Norris and Sonny Chiba were my idols. Every spin kick and sword plunged into the bellies of foes kept me enthralled with all things Japan.
As such, when I heard the name of this band, the grin on my face gleamed like a katana being drawn from its scabbard on an ancient battlefield on a bright sunny day. I was not disappointed.
Written by: Carlos
Lesser Glow is a five piece heavy band out of Boston. They hit on everything low and slow--and they hit it hard. You’ll get everything from the nastiest sludge to the most vibrant interludes, all without releasing the gas. Lesser Glow is also comprised of some very accomplished industry professionals, one being a producer for Chelsea Wolfe. But we're not here to talk personnel; we’re here to talk about their upcoming album, Nullity.
Nullity is a follow up to their 2018 debut, Ruined. If you haven’t taken Ruined for a spin I suggest you close this and do just that.
...All right, welcome back. Nullity is built around the idea that mankind is a parasite in this world. Weaving themes of internal conflict, creation myths, and interpersonal relations, this album features a big finish (spoiler alert) in which mankind is wiped from existence. Yes please, void daddy.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!