Captain Graves is back. Guess he's too busy writing reviews to destroy worlds these days. To each their own, I guess. - Ed.
I've been on a rampage here in The Village. These stoned fools have dubbed me "Space Friend" thanks to Concilium, and it really makes my intergalactic blood boil. I guess all the flak I send their way is really getting to them. Solving this with humor isn't really conducive with my way of thinking. I prefer setting folks on fire, and then watching Varic eat their planet whole.
Here we have Blackwater Holylight, and I'm actually honored to write this review. Their reverb drenched self-titled was a delight, so I was ecstatic to find they had a new album (Veils of Winter) on the horizon with Riding Easy Records.
Our (very kind!) music-reviewin' friends over at the wonderful Alternative Control sent a package this week containing a plethora of stickers and an (illustrated!) Owl Maker CD. In celebration of their general badassery, we slumbering townsfolk are re-running our review of Sky Road, said band's latest effort. This short lil' write-up was put to paper prior to our acquisition of the web property upon which ye currently gaze, so forgive the brevity.
Without further ado:
Like all highfalutin peasantry, my rag-tag compatriots and I here at the Sleeping Village like our music with a little lyrical substance & mythological flavoring. As luck would have it, so do Owl Maker. Despite representing the insular world of southern CT, this hard-hitting trio is inspired by Lakota legend & moonlit desert landscapes. If anyone still needed proof that honest rock ‘n’ roll recognizes few borders, geographical or otherwise, we hereby present Exhibit A. Revel in the glory of Sky Road, Owl Maker’s latest EP.
If you haven't yet checked out Bostonian power trio Death Pesos, but had the chance to skim through the playlist they graciously curated for the Village over on spotify...you've got a pretty decent picture of what awaits. Scuzzy riffs and grimy licks are the name of the game. Throw some forthright aggression in the direction of the drums, supplement heavily with groovy bass, and bury deep in the mix some filtered buzzsaw vocals, a la your favorite Uncle Acid. These self described “garage-metal stoners” are all about noisy guitar, fuzzy ambiance, and rockin’ attitude--and on their latest single/B-side, they present a raw and rollicking amalgamation of influences. It's high-quality fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll, so we've gotta roll out the red carpet: with echoes of Cream, to Captain Beyond, to Stoned Jesus, to Faux Ferocious, to Graveyard, there's a lot of influential sounds on display in these 7-ish short minutes.
Look, we've got a lot of stoner metal to get through today. Rather than bore you with a vaguely tangential introduction, let's just get to it, shall we?
earthdiver's Leave Something Witchy is one helluva EP, taking the smudgy groove of stoner metal and infusing it liberally with the glorious devil-may-care vivacity of punk. The entire 3-track is delightfully raw, rough-edged, and nearly feral in its execution--like if Pan, the God of the wild things, decided to throw away the pan pipes and start a garage band. Angsty vocals and slightly goofy samples are upheld by the loosest and otherwise grooviest bass I've heard in a long damn time. This thing grinds and bounces around with a deliciously organic bent, keeping the low end moving forward with an egregiously thunderous confidence. Indeed, the bass forms the backbone of earthdiver's approach, with the uber-distorted guitar appearing more as embellishment to the groove.
It's seldom that I encounter a fresh-faced band with such jubilant energy behind them. Doom benefits greatly from a swift kick in the ass, and earthdiver might just be the ones to deliver. If you like a little zest and zeal in your stoner doom, this particular Villager highly, highly recommends you check this one out. Listen to the title track here:
Sometimes, an album I place on frequent rotation for review simply...well, never leaves rotation. It becomes so integral to my listening habits that the notion of writing a review becomes almost antithetical, because to write a review is often an admittance that it's time to wrap up my thoughts, take a break, and move on to other releases. Where Light Goes to Die, the sophomore effort from Atlanta's hard-rocking HOT RAM is, needless to say, such an album.
This power trio have been waiting a long damn time for this write-up, so let's get to it!
In many ways, HOT RAM appears to hit the ground running as a fairly prototypical doom/stoner rock outfit. Thick and bluesy grooves. Relaxed and expansive vocals, with just enough pent-up aggression to merit that sweet sludgy association. Fuzzy riffs that stretch and wind with a laid-back mentality and an exploratory spirit. That's all well and good--I mean, honestly, what else are we really here for. But alas, HOT RAM conquers the expected tropes with ease, and, fairly immediately, demonstrate that they have much more in store.
Where Light Goes to Die is, at heart, a hard rockin’ album, and it is this quality that took me most by surprise. HOT RAM fire on all cylinders with marked consistency, performing with the braggadocious air of a demin-clad classic rock outfit, without delving into the airy arena of radio-friendly singles. It’s like if Accept or early Judas Priest were converted by the Church of Misery. This mix of high energy riffage, pounding drums, and bass with ‘tude on one hand, and psychedelic meanderings on the other, is pretty damn potent.
The guitar feels fairly staple and straightforward in its approach, but it becomes apparent quite quickly that mere amp-worship ain't necessarily the name of the game. Take, for example, the frantic scale climbing that marks the finale of "Tribes of Titan," or the delightful sidewinding riff on (psych standout) "Petra," or the grinding aggression of "Nova Caesari," or the earnest rollicking of "Snake River." It is to their great credit that these tracks, and indeed every song here, feels like a very unique entity in the album's overall fabric. There's nothing here that should be cut, or refined, or even trimmed. As much as I love the genre, we all know the truth of the matter: in the hazy confines of stoner rock, sophistication and brevity aren't always the qualities most sought. HOT RAM throw that stereotype in the woodchipper, delivering six massive (yet varied) bangers.
I just listened to this album in full for the sole purpose of determining which track is my favorite. In conclusion? I genuinely cannot make that determination. Yer just gonna have to grab this HOT RAM by the horns and experience it in full unadulterated glory. Be part of the reason these guys get a little more attention. If it isn’t obvious thusfar, Where Light Goes To Die comes highly recommended. But yet, the question remains: will it leave constant rotation as a result of this review finally being unveiled?
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.