The Village has accepted me as one of their own. I'm not entirely sure why yet, as I will sacrifice them all to our Mighty GOD, Varic. Not one of these sleepy fools even cares. How much weed are they smoking around here? A lot, the answer is " a lot."* Damn stoners, and losing their inhibitions. Regardless, I am here, and they will be an offering for Varic.
On Tumulus we are born into battle, or even from battle. Rising from the core of those slain. With my powers I can raise new crew members from the bodies of those I've run through. My next victim has been found, and if the crew member is anything like him. I'll surely have my work cut out for me. I haven't seen such a weak specimen in my life ( I do love hard work).
Look. In the hunt for excellent heavy metal with which to rudely awaken our slumbering populace, we're well aware that some genres, by nature, aren't...how shall we say. Subtle in their execution?
The nasty blackened thrash/speed metal/punk conglomerate brokered by Wraith is the definition of one such sonic palette. Gloriously exemplified by high-octane riffage, rabid vocals, and a general sense of fun-loving wild abandon, their sophomoric album is an effort as energetic as it is loud. Take opener "Devil's Hour" as a prime example of all that follows: a raucous ride, equal parts deadly and jubilant. Think Midnight, Witchtrap, or perhaps Exciter, all by way of Venom. While the more critical among us would comment on the extreme brevity and the general lack of diversity, I'm here to say, emphatically: who gives a damn? I went into Absolute Power expecting an absolute ripper, and that's exactly what I got. No more, no less. Thank god.
While it may go against convention at our humble Village, I think, in this case, it’s best to let the album artwork do all the talking. Those (techni)colors. That monstrous chain-whipping entity. The iron-clad horde. The font. Need I really break out the thesaurus to describe what Portland’s endlessly entertaining Soul Grinder sounds like? Methinks not. This is heavy metal at its most overt, and, thus, its most...fun. From the massive drums, to the riffs, to the wretch’d screams of April Dimmick (aka Prilzor), The Prophecy of Blight encompasses and exudes the slimy excess--sonic, visual, and thematic--that we fans of the genre crave. Secretly or no. But yet, through the jubilant viscerality, Soul Grinder treat their craft with an earnest and mature confidence.
There are two (non-original) versions of Dolly Parton's immortal "Jolene" that I can, in good faith, recommend. The first is the hauntingly beautiful 45-at-33rpm monstrosity that some madman decided, quite accurately, was a good idea. The second is Turkey Vulture's rompish take on the classic--this track being the b-side to their debut release, which descends on ragged wings at the end of this month.
The joint effort of Jessie May (of Owl Maker) and Jim Clegg (of Lobsterface), Turkey Vulture blends grimy Americana with pedal-to-the-metal...well, metal. The entire 5 minute affair is distinctly flavored with bloody punk rock 'tude, leaning into the unbiased and seemingly belligerent anger of the 90's punk scene. On single "Boxer," Jessie May's abrupt fluctuations between harsh and pseudo-clean vocals sound like the bastardly combination of Lemmy's grit and Poly Styrene's sing-song menace. Meanwhile, rollicking--dare I say bouncy--riffage leads the charge, and Clegg's wild drums lend the affair an appropriately unrestrained maniacism. "Boxer" is a cautionary tale, filled to the brim with a pertinaciously punky verve and vigor.
Promo material cites, among others, Motorhead and Social Distortion; if we're going the route of gritty leather-clad rock + rockabilly pun, Danzig and The Distillers feel like an equally apt comparison. The same can be said of the aforementioned "Jolene," which feels like a wholly unique take on the song we all undoubtedly know and love. It's fast paced, it's startling, and yet it still maintains that hooky Parton charm. This is punk rock operating at it's finest. Lastly on the docket is bandcamp exclusive track "Bee Avenger," a humorous slice o' life in the lives of May and Clegg. It's upbeat, fun, and merits inclusion if only for the grin-inducing goofiness. Punk doesn't do so well when it takes itself too seriously. Turkey Vulture can be angry and still have a good time, and that's nothing to scoff at.
Prognosis? Boxer is, like, 5 minutes. Even if it weren't so short, it would certainly merit your attention, cuz this thing is fun as hell. When Turkey Vulture's next release hits, we'll be waiting.
Turkey Vulture - Boxer will be released June 28th, 2019
As a sobered collective of secularists, the Sleeping Village wouldn’t typically welcome a High Priest into our midst. But here we are: praising, with undisguised zeal, the latest effort from these Chicagoan doom-slingers. Such is the power of the riff. High Priest's forthcoming Sanctum is a wondrously enjoyable release, and we’re honored to spread the good word.
Sanctum is an addictive 4-track slab, a well-conceived coagulation of influences. Promo material cites Alice In Chains, Pallbearer, and Trouble, while additionally recalling the group’s genesis at an Electric Wizard show. These are bold comparisons for an untested crew...but comparisons with which I am very much inclined to agree. While the downtrodden AiC style vocalizations and the swirling Wagner-esque compositions are spot-on, I’d argue that High Priest occupy a surprisingly subtle spot in the doomverse. While undeniably (and characteristically) riff-centric, no track here even begins to feel weighed down or drawn out. While melancholic and sorrowful, Sanctum never wallows or loses its delightful dynamism. And while approaching, at times, NWOBHM’s trademark melodic drive, it never feels excessive, nor does it fly off the rails with reckless abandon. In this sense, High Priest demonstrate the genre-melding abilities of Valkyrie, or perhaps even Desolation-era Khemmis. It’s hard to bring something new to the doom game, but High Priest feel remarkably unique in their tempered approach. Bottom line: this EP displays a very modern edge while simultaneously illustrating a variety of sounds that helped define doom and sludge. Not, my friends, a bad place to be.
Sanctum kicks of with the excellent Descent, which remains, to this Villager’s ear, the best thing these guys have ever written. Here, High Priest is firing on absolutely every cylinder. Militaristic drums, decidedly soulful vocals, expansive-yet-immersive riffs that weave and meld with confidence. The twin guitar approach rips with power and precision, and the chorus is an absolute beast. Descent is on course to become a contender for most played track o’ the year, and for good reason.
Beyond this unabashed display of prowess right outta the gate, Creature and Paradigm reinforce initial assumptions. That is, High Priest know how to write a compelling song. As alluded to before, there is little space for stagnation. The tastiest licks and most rollicking riffs are afforded the perfect amount of time in the spotlight. And while that’s all well and good, the latter track, in particular, displays some notably fantastic work in the percussive department. For a band and genre that inherently places such (deserved) emphasis on the guitars, it’s genuinely wonderful to hear such a strong showing from the drummer. Truly a standout performance. Closer Offering, while displaying a certain Troubleing vibe and strong dynamism in the vocal delivery, does feel a tad long. Given otherwise impressive fat-trimming chops, the back half here does feel slow in comparison. As a whole, however, we’re left with a very well executed package.
As riff-worshipers, you and I are walloped with a lot of doom on a daily basis. Keeping that in mind, it’s fair to say that High Priest are going places. Sanctum comes highly recommended. If you need some convincing, listen to Descent below:
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and heavy enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a certain groggy-eyed and highfalutin' peasantry.