Yes, yes. The observant reader will note that The Sleeping Village was host to a review of this single many months ago. But today, the occasion is ripe to break the same dastardly write-up out of the ol’ archives. On March 9th, Detroit Doomsters Temple of the Fuzz Witch will be releasing their self-titled debut under Seeing Red Records--and "Bathsheba," the track we previously spoke highly of, serves as the lead single. If you missed it, here's a chance to remedy that mistake.
As a figure of literal biblical proportion, Bathsheba is an admirably complex character. An obvious victim of David the adulterer, Bathsheba was nonetheless a cunning puppet-master who made the best of a bad situation, solidifying immense power for her bloodline. This is all to say that Temple of the Fuzz Witch’s homage to Bathsheba is significantly more black & white than the character herself. Fortunately, nuance isn’t the goal for these riff-worshippers. Like with the fuzzy witch's prior EP, we’re presented the opportunity to revel in some no-nonsense fuzz induced occult gloom, and boy, does this hit the spot.
When we talk Sabbathian influence, Iommi’s thick riffage is usually the topic in question. Here, however, the bass is pure Geezer. Thick, forward-facing, & nearly recalling Dopethrone in its stoic delivery, the bass provides a well constructed foundation for the titular fuzz. The Electric Wizard influence extends to vocals as well, manifesting in filtered, heavy-lidded howls that prowl low in the mix. Like everything else, the vox lacks frills, but it’s an excellent performance to be sure. The soloing around the 4:10 mark is particularly well conceived. Simple but delightfully timeless in its distorted, steadfast delivery.
These are the sounds that made me fall in love with doom in the first place, & the continuation of that god-given tone is truly a delight to behold. A review of Temple of the Fuzz Witch's debut in full shall manifest shortly, but for the time being, we implore you: spend a lil’ precious time with Bathsheba. And get on that $6.66 pre-order.
This particular Sleeping Village owes a massive debt to Black Sabbath…& not just because we blatantly lifted our moniker from their plunder-worthy supply of deep cuts. Because Sabbath have left such a veritable canyon in the firmament of heavy music, we dedicate every Sunday to exploring their own discography, or to highlighting a lesser-known band that carries the mantle of Sabbathian legacy. Today it's a case of the latter, as we review Fresh Grass, the debut EP from Brooklyn’s GRASS. Slip on those headphones & dim the lights, dear reader; it’s time for Sabbath Sunday.
Let’s not beat around the bush here: Fresh Grass is a remarkable effort. As someone who does battle with a veritable fogbank of stoner metal and doom on a daily basis, take it from me--Grass operate on a very high level of professional musicianship. Frankly, the only real criticism I have to offer is that Fresh Grass is trapped within the miserly confines of an EP. Were there another two or three tracks to flesh things out length-wise, this would constitute one helluva album. But alas, we’re left with a debut that would have blown last year’s Top 10 EP list to smithereens, if only it had entered the Sleeping Village a tad earlier. But that’s enough hyperbole, folks. What’s this thing sound like, anyways?
While they classify themselves as a rock outfit, GRASS plays doom with ample helpings of southern rock’s sleaze and the high-flying swagger of 70’s psychedelia. Permeable groove and simple yet melodic guitar are the name of the game, and, like any devotees of the riff, GRASS keep things moving just low and slow enough to shake foundations. The bass here is of particular note--Josh Peterson’s hefty stylings add a distinct dynamism to the formula. Look to intro track Amnesia / My Wall as a prime case of the bass’s general presence. Here, the riffs are big and the amp is king. And lest they be neglected in our riff-centric musing, the vocals elevate the package wondrously. Phil Anton’s voice is a thing of beauty, combining, somehow, the sultry tones of Jack Bruce’s early-era Cream with the gruff Americana of Clutch’s Neil Fallon. No question: this guy can sing.
The obvious concern with these genre trappings is a certain reliance on repetition, but with subtle variance in tempo and riff structure, each song is imbued with its own character. Take Easy Rider, for example, which remains significantly more laid-back than the hard(er) rockin’ Fire. There’s no real opportunity for boredom to set in, which, given the course of many Sabbathian enterprises, this is no small feat. GRASS have something special on their hands, and if their next release delivers on this promise, we’re in for a show. Need I say it? Fresh Grass comes highly recommended.
GRASS - Fresh Grass will be released Feb. 22nd
Doom metal is my desert island genre of choice. Besides an obvious proclivity for hefty riffage, however, what draws me to doom is the opportunity for subtle variation. The ability to take a winning formula and bend it to one's will is what makes or breaks the bands who worship the gloom. In this sense, Maryland doomsters Yatra tread a fine line on their debut, Death Ritual. That said, they walk it with deft balance and great aplomb. Death Ritual has an unique character, and for that, it shines in the stygian environs of its own creation.
Like many before them, Yatra proudly carry on the droning traditions of Sleep, Electric Wizard, and perhaps Miserable-era Bongripper. In other words, the riffs moves like tepid silt, while drums perform their duties with little flash or braggadocio. Notably, the guitar is oddly comforting--its caliginous persona is so well defined that it takes on a near-physical presence. Darkly mantric riffage remains the name of the game across Death Ritual’s runtime, and in some instances, this works very well in their favor. Look to Black Moon as a particularly acute example of the capabilities of (frontman) Dana Helmuth and (bassist) Maria Geisbert to hold it down in the low n’ slow department.
As time inevitably goes on, however, the sheer personality of the riffage begins to falter as a primary source of interest. And here, we encounter the aforementioned need for variation; while consistently performed, something must act as a foil to the lumbering strains. Thankfully, rather than devolving into the Straits of Boredom, Yatra utilizes a vocal style not typically associated with the genre. Blackly muttered howls lurk behind the guitar, comprising an odd yet appropriate for Yatra’s general aesthetic. What makes it succeed so well isn’t the quality of the isolated vocals--which, while intriguing, likely wouldn’t hold up in a true black metal context. Rather, it is Helmuth’s ability to weave his vox with the swell of instrumentation that ultimately gives Yatra an edge. Leaning into such a complimentary style results in a surprisingly well-conceived package. Also of note, vocally speaking, are the pleasantly wormy choruses. Album centerpiece (and highlight) Smoke is Rising, for example, has been stuck betwixt my ears for days now. While an intrinsically simple tune, simplicity certainly has its place in the doom pantheon.
The album's length remains quite respectable, especially given long-winded convention. That said, while the formula works, the middle portion of the album has proven to outshine both the head and tail ends in terms of memorability, with the penultimate Mighty Arrows being the least repeatable of the lot. All told, not much of a complaint. I have listened to Death Ritual a great many times over the past week--a process which resulted in a comforting familiarity. It's been time well spent. I’ll leave it at this: were the Sleeping Village marooned on an island, Death Ritual would undoubtedly keep this particular villager plenty entertained. Needless to say, Yatra and their brand of doom comes highly recommended.
Released Jan. 4th from Grimoire Records.
Despite Homme’s declaration that Kyuss was inspired more by Black Flag than the progenitors and perfectors of psychedelic heavy rock--say, Blue Cheer or Black Sabbath--the desert rock scene’s worship of the amp and riff are surely tied to the ingenuity of early doomsters. Because Sabbath have left such a veritable canyon in the firmament of heavy music, we dedicate Sundays to highlighting a lesser-known band that carries, in some fashion, the Sabbathian mantle. Today we review Electric Mountain’s s/t debut, straight outta Mexico City on the wings of inspirations aplenty. Welcome to Sabbath Sunday.
At this point in the Sleeping Village’s doomy coverage, it feels a little cliche to declare, but here goes: Electric Mountain doesn’t deal in subtilty. Borrowing Kyuss’ thick riffs and Orange Goblins aggressive percussive flair, this meaty and otherwise fuzz-tastic take on the belov’d stoner rock template remains a highly enjoyable listen, despite zero intention of breaking the mold. And yes, I can harp on the unoriginality here, but while the formula remains consistent, there really isn’t a bad track on this slab. Upon many repeated listens, Going Under and Green Mountain Side are clear standouts, especially if you’re particularly diggin’ the crunchy Black Pyramid vibes. Into the Maelstrom provides that crisp mid-album acoustic flavor, and Free Woman/Space Rocket provide that feisty one-two punch in the album’s early stages. This is a lesson in hookiness--with riffs characterized by near-sensual groove and a near-impenetrable haze, fuzz idolatry is the name of the game.
Gib’s filtered vocals are distance and tinged with a forthright familiarity, serving as an effective sidekick to his joyously energetic guitar. Bouncing from riff to lick and back again, there are no slow moments here. While the occasional riff does recall earlier tracks, each song has its own unique identity. Electric Mountain as a whole squarely hits the mark in terms of length--long enough to satisfy, brief enough to incite a round of questioning: what will they deliver next?
If your relationship with rock of the overt desert and psychedelic varieties can be qualified as mere flirtation, Electric Mountain might not be the introduction necessary to sway you over into the riff-filled land. That said, fans of the genre with undoubtedly find this debut a significantly worthwhile affair.
Given the obvious influences affecting today’s mustard-yellow EP in question, let me just slip into this cozy confessional & state the uncomfortable truth: all things considered, I could probably live in a world without EYEHATEGOD. Despite undeniable deity status in certain circles, Mike William’s particular vocal quality has never rubbed me the right way--nor, for that matter, the wrong way. Franky, it just doesn’t really rub me at all (and now, pardon me for a minute whilst I hand in my sludge card.)
This isn’t to say, however, that I could live (or even remotely enjoy) a sludge-less existence. As a genre, it remains a toxic concoction, combining the depressive gloom of doom with the sheer rabidity of hardcore. It’s messy. It’s dirty. It’s a sputtering engine, suffocating in grease and drowning in mud. For a relatively simple formula, Tombtoker’s particular brand is a distillation of everything I find appealing about sludge metal. Cobbled together from the sarcophagal scraps of metal history--Black Sabbath, Weedeater, Iron Monkey, Black Flag, Crowbar, Wolf Blood, the aforementioned EYEHATEGOD, & maybe even a lil’ Neurosis--Coffin Texts, Tombtoker’s forthcoming debut EP, is a well-conceived effort. And that’s putting it lightly.
Starting from the ground up, Tombtoker plays stoner doom with a punky, aggressive, and otherwise rusty edge. The sonic qualities of the bands listed above are all prevalent, but Coffin Texts doesn’t necessarily feel like a regurgitation of existing material. It’s a unique bent on the whole genre package, and this outfit’s obvious skill and ability to write intriguing songs are undeniable. Armed with hooks-a-plenty, these are the kind of tunes that drag you down with ease. For the most part, the dual guitars grip tightly to each other, establishing a pythonian groove early on. That said, the occasional solo rises from the muck, and if not for these moments, the duality would feel underutilized. The riffs are crunchy as one might expect, and then some--slow, dense, an algae-coated Sasquatch wading through the Northeastern wilderness.
While sludge often suffers from, well, a sludgy mix, Coffin Texts sounds pretty damn fine. The bass work here is worth a special mention. Like a besmirched baker vengefully frosting a shit cake, Mr. Hagen lays it down with a disgustingly thick intensity. “Warfare revolution” and “Blood freak” carry themselves with an unprecedented weight, while finisher “Globster” feels like it was written exclusively to showcase that meaty low end. Vocally, Mark Kuczak’s deep growl and rusty bark never overpowers the guitar (or drums, for that matter). He’s got a helluva lot hidden up his sleeve, and over the course of the EP, reveals a bevy of vocal deliveries. This only adds to Tombtoker’s noteworthy dynamism.
Standout tracks? It is to Coffin Texts’ extreme credit that choosing is, in fact, an impossibility. Every track contained within this 20ish minute runtime has its own slimy charm, and over numerous visitations, listening to this beast from top to bottom is an inevitability. Bottom line? Tombtoker does sludge metal proud.
These guys have been on my radar since they first starting liking my instagram posts (hey, vanity pays!) Needless to say, the Sleeping Village shall be following Tombtoker quite intently from this point forward. Coffin Texts is a very high quality debut. Heartfelt recommendations are in order
Coffin Texts releases Dec. 7th from Seeing Red Records. In the meantime, may I point you in the direction of that $6.66 preorder? Don’t mind if I do.
Tombtoker can be found at:
A certain groggy-eyed, highfalutin' peasantry