As a pseudo-medieval Village inhabited by a motley crew of slumbering (albeit highfalutin) peasants, we've dealt with a lot of absurd challenges. And, to our credit, we've survived ‘em all--quite handily, I might add. Feudal serfdom? A non-issue: we deposed that sucker years ago. Blatantly nonexistent sewer system? At this point we can't smell, and we're certifiably immune to any plague these rats have to offer. Loot-thirsty marauders from the north? They leave us alone now; last time they attempted an assault, we armored up, threw on some Sabaton, and slaughtered their strongest warriors with ease.
But here’s something we have yet to deal with: Orcs. Y’know, the brutish and (typically) malevolent beasts of lore. Two be-tusked specimens have emerged from their slime-ridden dens, and, much to our amused curiosity, are currently sniffing around our hastily constructed barricade. They’ve killed some chickens, but beyond that, they seem...uncharacteristically friendly. This may be a terrible mistake, but let’s let them in, shall we? If we perish this fateful day, so be it.
Here I am, quill clenched betwixt my inksplatttered teeth as I clamber into the tub. Advent Varic's Tumulus tumbles, rapidly and raucously, into my earholes. Perfectly on cue, blood pours from my nostrils as the sky burns. In other words: all is not well. Sorry, I mean: all is well. Fuck.
Why the tub? Two reasons. Firstly, as a clear Side A/Side B concept album, this beast offers a duo of twenty minute tracks, constructed and delivered as a single blackened stoner symphony. My attention span lasts about as long as this fragile soap bubble before me, so I'm admittedly out of my comfort zone. Secondly, it's damn comfortable, and if I'm going to witness the world collapse into inferno, I might as well do so from here, where the fires of civilization's demise will prevent this bathwater from going lukewarm. For those of you not privy to the expanded universe of Advent Varic lore, here's the gist: these extraterrestrial marauders were birthed from the muck of the titular far-flung world of Tumulus, and have since wrecked havoc across the universe on a cosmic mission of destruction at the bidding of the Godlike entity known as Varic. Our beloved homeworld is, alas, the next link in their chain of brutalistic annihilation. Concept albums live and die by the strength and flexibility of their narrative, and here, Advent Varic have given themselves ample room to experiment. Let's see where that takes us.
As of late, we slumbering Villagers have been drinking deep of the genres that tend to fall on the more extreme end of the spectrum. And, while there is certainly ample time and place for extremity, it's high time for this particular scribe to slip into something a little more comfortable. I crave the sweet embrace of dusty wind-swept fuzz, and, when I’m in this sultry mood, nothing does me right quite like top-shelf legends of the (then-emergent) scene.
I speak...not of Kyuss. But hear me out. Maybe I’m off my rocker, but I don’t think there are many longtime fans of stoner rock willing to state that Lowrider’s seminal Ode To Io isn’t, in fact, one of the greatest albums the genre has produced. A particularly notable designation, given the Swedish (rather than Californian) origin. While Kyuss may have opened the door, Lowrider swaggered over the threshold, shouldering a massive groove and a cut-to-the-chase approach to composition. In many ways, Ode To Io felt like it boiled stoner rock down to its basic essence: big attitude, bigger riffs. Every track on this classic feels essential in its own right, a massive step into fuzz-ridden stardom for the young band. But rather than providing Lowrider a launchpad, Ode To Io served as a trailblazer, allowing a bevy of other bands to come into their own. Lowrider have been around in the 20 years between then and now--a split or a remaster here, concert appearances there. But a proper followup effort was missing from the picture. And so here we are, history lesson complete, Refractions held tight in our white-knuckled grasp.
In the expansive metalverse, doom is my first love. When a band delivers a fat Iommi riff drenched in the fog of genre convention, I am content to sit, passively, in the palm of their momentarily almighty hand.
What ye may not know about this particular scribe is that, in addition to the doom, I also encountered a pretty sizable grunge period in my late teens. Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, et. al. were the name of the game, and the tropes associated with those melancholic wells still run deep in my musical preferences. Thus, when the two combine in unholy matrimony, my cold heart inevitably warms and weeps. This sentiment, of course, leads us to the track before us now--CELLARDOOR’s excellent debut single, released today.
After long last, we slumbering peasantry arise from Rip Van Winkle-hood, back with another edition of our neglected Sleeping Village Sampler.
For those of you not in the know, this is our (regrettably infrequent) column wherein we review, in brief, two of the bands that have escaped the clutches of a full length writeup. Usually there is an underlying current, a theme connecting the two. In other words, a method behind the madness. This time, however, all I’ve got is this: both bands featured here today have the word “Serpent” in their name, and they both requested a review on the same damn day. That’s simply too coincidental to neglect, and so here we are. Pull off your boots, pull up a chair, and stay awhile. You may want to check your boots for snakes later on, but that's life.
"Does the world really need another doom band? Probably not, but that might be why Blessed Black should be the next band on your radar." So begins Blessed Black's bio, and, immediately, prior to hearing a single note, my ho-hum radar is activated. Not sure if that's the one they were referring to, per se. But such are the risks one runs.
It's a valid point: does the world, indeed, really need another doom band? "Need" is a strong word, but there's certainly an audience afoot for this commonplace brand of doom-by-way-of-stoner-rock-by-way-of-grunge-by-way-of-heavy-metal. Provided they are good enough at their craft to merit a listen or two, I certainly won't turn them away, and so here we are, spinning this Cincinnatian(?) outfit's worthy debut, for what must be the tenth time today.
We Villagers are a busy lot this time of year, what with the silliness of year-end (and decade-end) lists. Thus, Captain Graves has taken the reins in the review department, as of late. Good thing too--the longer he's occupied with killer tunes, the more time we have to dig our own graves. - Ed.
Written by: Capt. Graves
We ate way too much Tumulan fungi last night in the Village. Needless to say, there wasn't much sleep going on. Instead, I spent the night listening to Rabbits by Brume, and down the hole I went chasing that fluffy white rabbit. In that hole I found a wonderland with talking animals and floating clocks.
The first track, "Despondence," brings you in and out of riffs and atmosphere. The vocals here are extremely powerful--they will send you spiraling into the abyss, and shoot you back out the other end. One thing I didn't enjoy about this track was the length. It felt like it was going nowhere by the end, like I'd been listening to the same riff for hours. "Scurry," however, has much more depth in the songwriting, and really starts to bring out the band's strong suits. More soaring vocals to send me deep into space, where I belong. A nice gentle atmospheric interlude to bring you around to an epic, slow, gritty guitar solo. This song feels like it has some nu-metal influence, and I can dig it.
While the Good Captain has, as of late, been all too happy to make himself at home in the Sleeping Village's humble confines, it's been a while since he graced us with a demonstration of his prowess with the ol' pen. Maybe...maybe the (self-described) Destroyer of Worlds is getting a tad too comfortable? Only time will tell. - Ed.
Written by: Capt. Graves
Hails from the Village, I have stepped foot among this filthy place again. For me the putrid smells, and humid air really make me feel at home. As we all got stoned around the fire last night, I decided to hunker down and listen to the new Opium Warlock album, and man did it send me spiraling into the abyss. This is some heavy shit, boys and girls. Opium Warlock is a band out of Prague and they deliver some of the best doom The Swamp has to offer.
The leading track, "Signals from Uranus," is layered in synths and bells. I may have just had a signal from my anus, and it's quite tingly. "Meth Desert" has some guest vocals from Ganja Mutt, and this man really knows how to make me tingle too. I think this song should have been called..."Signals from Uranus."
Avatarium has a new album out today, and as I fuck off for a few hours to bask in its undoubted splendor, I'll leave you fine folks with a recycled review of their 2015 debut. The Girl With the Raven Mask fit neatly into that year's AoTY slot, both in the moment and in well-considered retrospect. Without further ado:
So here I sit, basking in the warmth of Jennie-Ann Smith's vocal stylings. In one sense, her voice is a confluence of qualities: Grace Slick's sheer force, Jess (of the Ancient One's) eerie flow, and Jex Thoth's silky smoothness. But in another sense entirely, her tone is sophisticated beyond compare. Every track is imbued with a slightly distinct (yet no less alluring) character, and it is Smith, in large, who is responsible for this brilliant dynamism.
Sometimes a band has a almost-but-not-quite grand debut, the kind of album that bears the weight of rookie flaws, but speaks of something larger to come. And then, sometimes, said band delivers tenfold on their next outing, absolutely shattering notions of sophomore slump. And sometimes the groggy-eyed scribe who said he'd review the album in question in a timely manner spends two months mulling over how best to put his emamorment into words. And that lands us here, with Wolf Blood’s II spinning for what seems the umpteenth time.
Wolf Blood is one of those bands who revel in throwing a bevy of ideas at the wall and hoping they stick. Unlike most who engage in such reckless activity, these folks are really damn good at making sure it all stays up there. It’s purely original stuff, and in this business, that's a significant and rare quality.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!