Written by: Blackie Skulless
I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t even realize that Mike Tramp had such a big catalog of solo albums until I stumbled upon his newest, Second Time Around. For those unaware, he was famous for fronting the Danish/American glam metal band White Lion in the ‘80s, before later forming Freak Of Nature, and eventually going solo. The focus has certainly shifted since then, regarding energy. Singers going solo like this can pretty much be hit or miss.
Different doesn’t mean bad, though. Second Time Around is very AOR driven, aiming itself towards songs that are more tame in nature and come from a singer/songwriter life perspective. A lot of this is built around summer-related themes, particularly the fun of highways and driving. Though that obviously leaves room for plenty of cheese, the lyrics have strength in poetic flow. This is usually what I would expect from older artists that once fronted bigger heavy metal acts.
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: Blackie Skulless
When something goes by the name Bear Mace and has “bears” as one of their lyrical themes, you have to assume it’s gonna be pretty silly. But that wasn’t quite the case, and the band in question's upcoming second album Charred Field Of Slaughter actually stays rather focused and hones in on general bloodshed. They’re a death metal act that hails from Chicago, Illinois, but sound like they could spawn from the charred field of Tampa, Florida.
Though things are a bit cleaner than what most of the OSDM pioneers laid down, the meaner buzz adds a chaotic shake. Horrid vocal work taking the gutturals to filthy limits with a slight echo is properly placed atop, caking on small hints of comprehensibility. The only complaint there is the fact that they can feel too “belch”-like at times. That aside though, this reeks of obvious influence from early Death, particularly the Spiritual Healing album. The progression in “Xenomorphic Conquest,” as well as the chorus, sound exactly like the title track from the famous Death record. The high-frequency wails only add more to it.
Written by: Loveloth
George Carlin was a genius. A philosopher in comedian's cloth, an astute social commentator and a dude who was way ahead of his time. His ability to confront people with difficult-to-stomach facts in a hilarious way remains to be topped. Among all his numerous (and brilliant) bits, a few stuck with me, so today I will showcase a quote from his “Saving the planet” bit--which, like most Carlin routines, is even more relevant today:
“We’re so self-important, so self-important. Everybody’s gonna save something now: “Save the trees! Save the bees! Save the whales! Save those snails!” and the greatest arrogance of all: “Save the planet!” What?! Are these fucking people kidding me?! Save the planet?! We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet! We haven’t learned how to care for one another and we’re gonna save the fucking planet?!”
Keep in mind he said this in 1992, in a time where grunge was becoming a serious deal, and way before Al Gore, Kyoto's convention and the whole “Save the Earth” hype that is cool today. Now, as a the filthy palaeontology nerd that I am, and to have as smooth of a transition as possible, it is my duty to showcase you any band that decides to tackle such matters. The Ocean do it, Endolith does it, and now Thecodontion do it on their debut Supercontinent.
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: Shane Thirteen
I tend to not read reviews of bands or artists I'm going to review because I don't want the influence of someone else's ideas to be in my head when I'm trying to think of how I feel about a project. That being said, I have no idea what other people are writing about War Cloud. What I can say is that if the words "AMAZING" or "Fucking Fantastic" haven't been used to define them, then that is a low-down dirty shame.
War Cloud hits on so many levels for me. I can take a snap and sink back in my chair and ease into that place in my mind that puts me back into teenage fantasies of being a riff-monster rock star. The guy who lays down the riff that changes the world. To me, War Cloud's Earhammer Sessions is the beginning of my rock and roll fantasy. I'm old. I mean like, I fucking remember the 70's kind of old. This album evokes that old school rock and roll spirit. It takes me back to the days of true rock and roll domination.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Woah man, the usual rate for Haunt dropping releases is one full-length per year, with a complimentary EP to go along with it. But 2020 is different, and considering the amount of shit this year has offered humanity, it’s nice when things are different for the better. Frontman Trevor Church dropped Haunt’s third album Mind Freeze at the beginning of the year--an album of the year contender for sure. But instead of an EP to follow, we get a second full-length under the name Flashback.
Unsurprisingly, this is the cleanest effort the band has dropped to date, especially considering the vocals taking more of the forefront than ever before. I chalk that up to the concise and clear delivery. Additionally, we’re met with a far warmer feeling to contrast the previous record, fitting the summer time feelings, rather than the winter ones of the previous effort. It’s probably safe to say that this is also where Haunt were reaching for more of a pop-metal aesthetic, especially with “Electrified.” The chorus is catchy as hell and somewhat watered down, though it isn’t bad by any stretch of the word. You just can’t ignore the prettier nature and simplistic build.
We covered this album during last week's edition of Fresh Meat Friday...but Pyrrhon is far too significant of a band to gloss over with such egregious brevity. As such, our very own gibbously non-euclidean amalgamation--aka Loveloth the Omniscient--took the reins. Hence: enjoy this expanded review! - Ed.
Written by: Loveloth
Three years ago, a more impressionable, less jaded Loveloth scoured the plains of the Interwebz in search of new, exciting music. One faithful day, I was doing the usual, which translated to me religiously reading Angry Metal Guy. Anyhow, here I am scrolling through and chillin' until I see this insane album cover. It features a mangled dog snarling, whose paw got stuck in a rusty iron trap. The beast has multiple wounds and is clearly malnourished. The surrounding area looks nice though as it's filled with leaves, but the dog and washed out color palette evokes a feeling of discomfort. Needless to say, my interest was piqued and one quick glance later I see the title. Pyrrhon, What Passes For Survival. The two r's in the band name were weird, sure, but I was not prepared what was to come.
You see, there is this guy named Kronos who writes for AMG, and he is known for his hot takes and penchant for the most extreme forms of metal. What I absolutely love about his style, apart from his vast vocabulary and superb phrasing, is how convincing his points always were. Sure, I would disagree with him, but his hot takes never felt cheap and that is pretty rare these days. But now: back to the epic, overlong intro.
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 a band or album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally. The fifth in our series of guest reviews is brought to us by the multi-talented Sarah Allen Reed of (I quote) "Ophelia Drowning, Coma Roulette, The Forest At Night, and way too many other things to keep track of!" Sarah's assorted projects can be found at her official site.
As ye will inevitably and quickly discover, this particular retrospective marks the Sleeping Village's first non-text article! Needless to say, we were very excited to see that Sarah's retrospective would address notions of personal musical impact in a new and novel fashion--namely, a gorgeous autobiographical comic. Today, Sarah discusses in visual form the influence of Our Love to Admire by indie-rock/post-punk heavyweights Interpol. Without further ado: please enjoy!
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!