Written by: The Administrator
Like many of our music-blogging contemporaries, this particular scribe does, indeed, fuck with Soundgarden. As luck would have it, I also fuck with Vancouver's ever-evolving Seer, whose latest effort, Vol. 6, caught eyes of several Villagers with its dark and delicate take on doom. Thus, finding out that the two have been combined by way of glorious tribute was enough to elicit a (rare) grin on this three year anniversary of Chris Cornell's death. Seer's cover of "Room A Thousand Years Wide" is a heartfelt homage to one of their most beloved heroes--and, beyond that, it's a damn good track.
Let's get to it, shall we?
Written by: Volt Thrower
Let's just get this out of the way first: that artwork. Lordy it's stunning, and sets the bar high without a single note even being played. I own this record on vinyl and like 80% of the decision to buy it was based on the artwork alone. Designed by Toronto based tattoo artist Arthur Mills, it perfectly captures the haunting, war-torn, cosmic yet industrial landscape the band lays to waste on their second EP now, Pale Mare II. Pale Mare instantly get compared to High on Fire, which is lofty and can be a bit unfair, but the band themselves don't seem to shy away from the comparison on their bandcamp page.
So, lets dig into some High on Fire worship, shall we?
Written by: Continuous Thunder
If you told me at the beginning of the year that one of the best sludge metal albums I’d hear in 2020 would come from two Japanese girls… I’d lean in closer and ask you to tell me more. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, when women are involved in making hard rock and metal on the doomy side of things, it tends to be pretty damn good more often than not. Some of my favorite albums from the past couple of years have been from bands like Windhand, Castle, and Electric Citizen. And this year we’ve already had great albums from Konvent and Lucifer. Well, get ready to add BlackLab to the pile.
As mentioned, BlackLab is a doom and sludge duo from Japan, made up of guitarist and vocalist Yuko Morino and drummer Chia Shiraishi. Abyss is their second album. Being a duo in the doom metal world requires some sonic creativity to get your sound sufficiently heavy and thick. I’m not sure what witchcraft Morino has employed, but her guitar tone is freakin’ huge! And these riffs aren’t just fuzzy, they’re downright filthy. We’re talking trve slvdge, Houdini-era Melvins levels of nasty. Along with down-tuning, a sub-octave can be heard filling out the bottom end. I don’t know if Morino dubbed in a bass guitar or if she split her signal into an octave pedal, but there is certainly no lack of low end here. She’s also the kind of guitarist who uses feedback to her advantage.
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.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Unabashed stoner doom has always been one of my favorite things ever since I first heard Tony Iommi hacking up a lung on "Sweet Leaf," circa grade 9 out back behind the auto shops. But by now, the book on stoner doom has long been written and published. Through the annals of history, an innumerable amount of bands have knelt at the altar to pay homage with their Sabbathian smoke fueled riffage. Cliches, puns and cheesy lyric runs, all a staple of a genre intended for mind bending fun. Hailing from Kiel, Germany, Earthbong bring us their second full length Bong Rites. Will it bring us towards the crimson light, or will it fail to ignite?
First impressions are everything in a genre overflowing with copycats, and I was instantly pulled in by the album artwork. It reminds me of Slaves BC cover art, but just splashed with enough purple to remind you that you’re “Goddamn High” while being pummeled to death. The aforementioned album opener starts off with a thunderous intro that seems absolutely blistering in pace after it pulls the rug from beneath you, and you're left trudging through knee deep molasses. A hazy atmosphere built on swirling layers of guitar lulls you into a sense of zen before that too is swallowed whole by the demonic vocals rising from the crust of the earth. Two vocal styles, a Dixie Dave Collins like harsh bark and a barbaric cave-echoing howl, work together to deliver some of the finest dope doom riff worship of the new decade.
Written by: Continuous Thunder
One of the things that initially drew me to doom metal and stoner rock was the way that the music complemented the aesthetics of one of my favorite sci-fi subgenres: the post-apocalypse. Something about the dark tone of the lyrics and sludgy riffs calls to mind images of blighted landscapes, lone wanderers, lawless lands, and road warriors. It’s especially gratifying when the artists recognize this correlation themselves, look no further than Truckfighters’ “Desert Cruiser” or Wo Fat’s “Lost Highway.” The UK’s Desert Storm also recognize this correlation and lean into it. The music video for “Drifter” off their 2018 release Sentinels is comprised entirely of clips from Mad Max 2. This fascination with the end of days is still present on Omens, their newest release, but this time it’s through the lens of mystical medieval fantasy.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Stoner rockers Psyclops come out of the gates swinging with their debut LP Amalgam. Blending elements of prog, psych, stoner, doom and hardcore, the 4-piece out of Portland, Oregon certainly have created an amalgamation of sorts with their first long offering. What that process of fusion has yielded remains unclear to me, but it is an enjoyable process to figure out.
The soft opening instrumental of “Fabricated”, being overlaid with a thunderstorm in the background, does a pleasant job of setting the scene in the Pacific Northwest. A bluesy little riff by guitarist Guerd Alberts gets the party started and we are off to the races with lead vocalist Chris Jackson coming out of his spoken word intro, to guide the band with a howl charged assault. A straightforward rocker comes to a close with a hardcore frantic finish. Before you have time to think about what just happened, the rhythm section of bassist Brandon Peterson and Alex Flatt on drums, are guiding you through the ultra groovy psychedelic intro of the un-googleable track “ ”. Another straightforward if unremarkable groove rocker, which does finish with a nice solo and full band freak out, ending in feedback.
Like any good pseudo-medieval village of our size and prosperity, we highfalutin peasants abide by a certain standard of hospitality. For those bands that pass through our palisade time and time again, we gladly offer up a spot at our roughly hewn and ovular-if-not-round table.
earthdiver are, without a doubt, such a band within the context of Sleeping Village lore. I personally have been a fan since hearing their rambunctious three-track EP, and was subsequently thrilled to have interviewed 'em. Hell, I'm wearing my earthdiver t-shirt as I scribble away--a pure coincidence born of the reality that I wear this shirt, like, at least once a week. Needless to say, this particular scribe has been very excited for the advent of their all-important debut album, both because I've been itching for new tracks, and because I'm excited for the stoner/doom community to witness the set of chops on this talented trio. The wait is over. Lord of the Cosmos is (almost!) here. Time for that hospitality.
Our motley township owes an obvious debt to Black Sabbath…but Sleeping Village, today’s group in question, also lifted their moniker from Sabbath's plunder-worthy supply of deepcuts. And so, despite being prompted to do so by our friends at Crypt Guard, it was inevitable that after reviewing Sleeping Village’s promising EP here at the Sleeping Village, we would end up writing about their future endeavors. On a #SabbathSunday, no less! Thus, on the docket today: Sleeping Village’s latest 5-track release, entitled Holy Water.
We all know what we’re getting into, from the logo, to the borderline occult atmosphere, to the riffage, to the Geezer-esque low end and the Ward-ish percussion. No question ‘bout it: these guys live, breath, and die by the monolithic template established by (Ozzy-era) Black Sabbath. Indeed, their bio indicates an unabashed acknowledgement of their particular station: Sleeping Village is “unashamed Sabbath worship.” With that in mind, is it worth listening to Holy Water instead of just throwing on Master of Reality for the umpteenth time?
Written by: Vattghern
I’m a critic at heart. Chance is, if you spend just a little bit of time with me, you’ll roll your eyes at me constantly being nitpicky about everything that decides to fall into my hands, so to speak. Naturally my nitpickiness is ever so present when new music awaits judgement, which results in few things really blowing my socks off. Yet one song that sparked my interest when browsing Bandcamp pretty early in 2020--when toilet paper was still available en masse and doing one’s groceries didn’t feel like Russian roulette--did just that: blow my socks off. “Sails” by Elephant Tree was neither from a genre I was fond off nor was it from a band I previously knew. Despite that, I fell in love, excessively hitting the play button.
So, when the promo sheet was updated and I spotted Elephant Tree’s new studio album Habits, my eyes lit up and I instantly messaged the Village Overlord, begging for a promo copy. As you’ve already guessed, my request was heard and here I am, reviewing Habits, the new album by stoner rock aficionados Elephant Tree.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!