Written by: Lunar Fanatic
Dissonant black death metal is nothing new, in fact the subgenre feels a bit trite by this point. That being said Labored Breath’s debut album, Dyspnea, is a fresh, bludgeoning entry into what I’d consider one of metal’s darkest styles. This album from the one-man project from Oakland, CA wastes no time in setting the album’s tone.
Cavernous (and that description is truly earned here), bleeding dissonant notes erupt into pure auditory violence on opening track "Hypothesia." The drumming is explosive, and the guitar work swirls around it, made even more prominent by the excellent use of panning. Both ears are under constant yet varied assault throughout the album, and the beautifully raw production obscures enough detail from the surface to make diving deeper into the ocean of the winding song structures featured throughout Dyspnea.
Editor's unsolicited opinion: Here's an aspect of the cursed reviewer life that I will always find endlessly gratifying: the prospect of witnessing a young and talented band evolve from a fresh face into a genuine presence in their respective scene. Way back in '18 we reviewed the first EP from this group, and then I was so impressed with their debut album that we featured in on our Caravan of Doom Vol. 1. Needless to say, these guys are on their way up.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Not often does stoner rock catch my ear, but when it does it hooks itself deep within my brain. Stonus (how fitting) have come up with what’s now their third EP titled Seance, and it’s pretty enjoyable from front to back. With only three songs, they heavily reflect the style of Sundrifter, who dropped one of my favorite albums in 2018. What’s also neat is that this one was recorded completely live.
Because of this, there’s a very organic feeling that makes the repetitive nods showcased in all three tracks work decently. The middle track “Messianism” plays on that the most, being the longest one, and trailing off significantly at the end. I also found it to be the most explosive, riding on a rhythm pattern that “drops” (if you will) guitar chugs in gradual changes of pace. To contrast, you get vocals that add most of the melody, and a dash of howl.
Written by: The Administrator
Back in the olden days of this here blog, we briefly reviewed, in conjunction, a couple of serpent-themed bands. One of ‘em—the appropriately monikered Serpent Worship—impressed me with serpentine riffage, undulating psychedelic backdrop, and a generally pythonian tone.
Snake-like sonic qualities aside, however, my favorite aspect of this one-man outfit was the remarkable ability to compose simple yet engaging tracks without the aid of vocals. Indeed, to lift my own words: “perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Serpent Worship is the sheer intrigue layered into the composition; it genuinely wasn’t until the third listen that I realized there are no vocals.” On his latest 2-track outing, Blood & Venom, our serpent worshiping friend taps once more into this reservoir, but arguably delivers an even more enjoyable treatise on the effectiveness of no-nonsense fuzz.
Written by: The Administrator
Splits. You gotta love 'em--particularly when they succeed at A. delivering high quality tunes, and B. serving as a solid introduction to participating parties. It's an odd (yet glorious) occasion when a split features two tracks that compliment each other's strengths without outshining the other's performance. Lucky for you and I, The Plague Split nails that fine balance with a delicacy at odds with the sheer sonic decimation wrought within it's short-yet-mighty runtime.
The split before ye marks a certain uncharacteristic brevity for both parties involved, and so, keeping in spirit, this review shall be uncharacteristically brief as well. That isn't to say, I hasten to add, that it isn't worth every second of yer while--because it is. Without further ado: let's get destroyed, shall we?
Hey! We're a record label now!
SLEEPING VILLAGE RECORD’s inaugural release is a compilation of 10 previously released underground stoner doom tracks, curated--as always--by a highfalutin peasantry. Sleeping Village Caravan of Doom (Vol. 1) is an exhibition of like-minded tracks that balance sludgy heft with an earthy stoner atmosphere. These are songs that would feel at home in the midst of a bog or mire, and we’ve brought them together, drenched in murk and algae, for your gloomy enjoyment.
Rather than simply throwing as many artists as possible into the doomy stew, this compilation seeks to bring together and showcase 10 uniquely stellar bands that compliment each other sonically and aesthetically. While the runtime clocks in at a hefty hour and a half, the roster remains slim so that each band has appropriate time to shine.
Sleeping Village Caravan of Doom (Vol. 1) will be released digitally and available for NYOP on October 2nd, with a preorder going live TODAY for the measly sum of $1. All proceeds from this project will be split evenly between the bands and the label, with any of the Sleeping Village’s cut going to fund further compilations (or a possible physical release!)
TRACKLIST as follows:
Fostermother - Destroyers
Dizygote - Children of Talos
Doomfall - Why Fear the Godless
earthdiver - Blood Moon
Green Hog Band - Machine
Old Horn Tooth - Old Horn Tooth
Stonus - Mania
Jointhugger - I Am No One
Black Road - Radiation
Bog Wizard - Swamp Golem
Huge thanks to the Sleeping Village’s resident Volt Thrower for the assistance and much-needed wisdom in putting this together! Thank you also to the bands, who all deserve your love and affection, and lastly to you, who made the launch of this endeavor from the Sleeping Village’s fertile ground a possibility. Enjoy!
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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 next guest in line to graciously offer a retrospective in this series is Duncan Evans, who creates dark folk/post-punk under his own name, and apocalyptic noise poetry (which we premiered here!) under the Moonlow moniker. He's a producer, an engineer, a writer at Ghost Cult and Alternative Control, and, lest it be forgot, has a twitter you should probably follow. Beyond these current projects, he was previously the guitarist for Forest Of Stars--so, all told, cred certified many times over, amiright? Without further ado: enjoy this retrospective!
Written by: Duncan Evans
This album was my first proper introduction to Nick Cave. It remains an incredibly important piece in the jigsaw of my own development as an artist and as a human being. I also believe it is significant in a wider cultural sense.
Around the mid-2000s, Nick Cave had seemingly grown tired of producing records with the expanded 8-piece lineup of The Bad Seeds: “It felt like every time I took a song into the Bad Seeds, everyone piled in on it. In the Bad Seeds, you play a song, and everyone's grabbing a fuckin' maraca, y'know?" In response, Cave and three Bad Seeds members (Warren Ellis, Martin P. Casey, Jim Sclavunos) formed Grinderman. At the same time, I was growing weary of the virtuoso prog rock I had been listening to. I had listened to a few of Cave’s songs and I had meant to properly explore his work for a while. I remember reading about Grinderman in the music press just before its release, and I thought this was probably as good a place as any to start. I ordered a copy and, strangely, two of them landed on the doormat a week later. Hearing this record on its release in 2007 was something of a Damascene moment for me. It opened up doors which remain unclosed. What follows is an explanation of how this album impacted me so deeply, and why I think it matters in wider terms.
Written by: Shane Thirteen
First things first: Seven Swords comes out August 21st, and I highly recommend you track down and reserve your copy now from bandcamp. This group from Savona, Italy has laid down a classic. Black Elephant has been around about a decade and as they grow they leap closer to being one of the world's best stoner/heavy psych bands. They describe their sounds as 70's fuzz stacked with Blues Psych Space Rock. All that is true.
What I gather from this album is Black Elephant is deep black warmth. The kind of warmth you feel on the first cold day in fall as you clinch into your bed and curl into the softness of your lover. It is sensual and the music wafts me away like smoke dangling on the rim of a bong. I tend not to think of albums as single tracks I like. But how do all the tracks fit into the feel of the album? What is this piece of music trying to tell me? Where does it want me to go?
And now for something a little different, both in format and in sonic content! To adequately assess the latest offering from Slow Draw, two Village-dwellers--Continuous Thunder and The Administrator--took up the pen to express (complimentary) views, making for a somewhat rare double review 'round these parts. Without further ado:
Written by: Continuous Thunder
I’d like to start this with a bit of a disclaimer that I went into this album with no previous knowledge of Slow Draw or Stone Machine Electric (something I will be correcting immediately). I just saw the drone tag and I hit play. Drone can mean any number of things, but as this was a drone project of a member of a stoner band, I went in with expectations of good vibes and ultra-long riffs. What I didn’t expect was just how sparse the arrangements would be. Seriously, there’s little more than an electric piano, synths, and a guitar at any given moment on this album, and it lines up more with ambient music than drone.
Sparsity in music can be a blessing or a curse. On one hand, it strips things down to their bare elements, removing any fluff or embellishments that distract from the core of the composition. On the other, it reveals just how strong or weak a composition actually is. I think back to the last album from Earth where they dialed back the fuzz and reverb and had to lean on their riffs more than the atmosphere. Gallo does the same thing but to an even greater extent. The guitars are (mostly) acoustic, buzzy synths only serve as a backdrop, and there is very little, if any, percussion.
Written by: Continuous Thunder
In the world of heavy psych-rock, the majority of influences often come from the rock bands of the ‘70s, and if we’re honest, the modern bands more resemble hard rock and early heavy metal. Ultimately, this is understandable; modern heavy psych likely comes from a desire to trace heavy music back to its roots, and the origin of heavy metal is often, though not without contention, considered to be Black Sabbath’s 1970 self-titled debut. As such, many of the sounds and aesthetics emulated in heavy psych come from the time period immediately before and after that key event. You rarely hear modern bands going for the sound of the true psychedelic rock of the mid-’60s, and that’s why The Sonic Dawn is different.
Hailing from Denmark, The Sonic Dawn completely embrace original psychedelic rock in ways few modern bands do, right down to the floral shirts and mustaches.
Written by: Volt Thrower
As a kid the countless hours spent driving under starlit prairie highways in the 90’s, on the way to various campgrounds and theme parks, laid the foundation for desert rock being able to bring a wash of fuzz driven comfort later in life. There’s something incredibly soothing about being able to lose yourself in a locked in groove, essentially time traveling through the hundreds of km’s of nothingness. Heavy rockers Heavy Hands from Boston, take a stab at a classic style with some modern flair with their latest self-released offering “Through the Night.”
A rolling drum groove, with some fuzz drenched bass open things up on “Devil Nets”, sure to make Brant Bjork blush. Kicking things off with a nostalgic blast is a great hook, but they build upon that opening, with a really unique sound that the band feels out across the dozen fleeting minutes. The soulful delivery of the vocals on “Villain” really compliment the underlying bass and drum groove, but the guitar is the real scene setter for most of the album. Ranging from bluesy psychedelic washes, to straightforward riffage, to a near black metal tremolo picking style, giving it another layer with a sense of urgency and despair. Lyrical themes starting with, of course a desert highway cruise with your girl, to a poetic exploration of the plight of the never good-enough, ending in a mental “Breakdown.” Clean production wraps it all up into a nice, tight little package.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!