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
On the odd occasion, when we're feeling frisky, we slumbering scribes will give a single the same consideration as an album proper--a full review, in other words. Lots of sites don't, and we certainly can't blame 'em; it takes time and energy to write and revise a review, and one typically gets more bang for one's buck when that time and energy is spent on something more substantial. But sometimes a track deserved a little time in the limelight, and so we find ourselves here today, a new track from Blessed Black grasped tight in ink-splattered hands.
If a band names a track after La Brea, they had better have the goods. One does not simply evoke mastodon-swallowing tar pits without offering up something with a comparably monolithic je ne sais quoi. As such, Blessed Black play a dangerous game with their latest single--but worry not. "La Brea" pulls through.
Written by: The Administrator
If you run in the death blues circle, (an admittedly select group,) you are undoubtedly familiar with 20 Watt Tombstone. Hell, if you like blues rock or stoner doom in general, there's a good chance you've heard the name. These guys play a down 'n' dirty amalgamation of ZZ Top-esque groovy southern blues rock with a grimy Clutchian desert-rock edge. In other words, these are hard rockin' tunes from the backwoods. There's nothing flashy in their formula: just heavy riffs, gritty vocals, and the spirit of Americana.
20 Watt Tombstone's next release is a brief-yet-tantalizing affair: a 2-track EP featuring two bangin' cover songs. Side A is a rollicking cover of the (oft-underappreciated) "Just Got Paid" by the aforementioned ZZ Top. Side B, a rendition of "Midnight Train to Memphis” by Chris Stapleton, offers a slightly more somber--although no less hefty--side of 20 Watt Tombstone. Though small in stature, this release packs a damn fine one-two punch.
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
In my inflated opinion--and I'm almost certain the Village's overworked cook would agree--stoner doom represents equivalent of comfort food on the metal culinary spectrum. There's something so essential and heartwarming about the basic blend of roux-thick riffs, omnipresent fuzz, and a plodding forward march that indicates a certain willingness to take one's time.
Fulanno, an Argentinian doom trio, are a perfect exemplar of the type of band I turn to when searching for said aural comfort food. Notably, their latest, Nadie Está a Salvo Del Mal, is their best effort yet--indeed, any album that lands at #15 on the month's illustrious Doom Charts is, generally speaking, worth yer while. With that said, this album is hampered by some minor wrinkles, but should Fulanno iron 'em out in the future, I think it's safe to say we'll have a top-tier outfit on our hands.
Huge thanks to the illustrious Chris Latta for penning this guest review! If yer unfamiliar, Chris writes at Ghost Cult Magazine and makes music via epic doom outfit Lavaborne and acoustic project Christopher Steve.
Written by Chris Latta
I feel like Alice In Chains may be one of the more understated influences in the realm of doom, sludge, and stoner metal. The Seattle legends may have been grouped with the grunge movement, but their emphasis on crushing riffs and debilitating misery gave them more in common with the likes of Saint Vitus or Type O Negative than their contemporaries in Nirvana or Pearl Jam. With this in mind, it only makes sense for Magnetic Eye Records to release another one of their signature tribute albums covering what could be considered the band’s most impactful release.
What makes Dirt (Redux) particularly interesting compared to other tributes of this nature is how much liberty the bands have taken with their chosen songs. There are plenty of bands whose covers adhere to the originals as closely as possible, but a good majority of songs on here either exaggerate previously unexplored aspects or even sound like songs that the bands could’ve written themselves. This does make for a less cohesive listen and the overall effect is less viscerally personal than the original, but those are to be expected with any song-by-song recreation.
Written by: The Administrator
While we Villagers pride ourselves in having a solid familiarity with the content we critique, I'll be the first to admit that my level of familiarity with the 5 tracks contained within today's EP in question surpasses an acceptable level of sanity. Typically, in preparation for an in-depth review, I listen to the material around 10 times. Return From The Void, in drastic comparison, has entered these wretch'd earholes...well, significantly more frequently. All told, stating that I've listened to this damn thing upwards of 50 times doesn't sound terribly off base.
Why, ye may ask? In the year or so since I first encountered the hard rockin' Deserts of Mars, I've become oddly dependent on their (regrettably slim!) output. Return From The Void is what I turn to when I'm not sure what to listen to, when I'm feeling a little down, or when I just need a quick kick of stoner rock into an otherwise hard-hitting playlist. As a result, I've entered a strange scenario wherein a review feels somewhat impossible to write. Can I truly view this thing from a passingly neutral standpoint, or does my history color any interpretation with rose-colored glasses? Given the potential limitations, I'll do my best to be fair to you, dear reader.
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!
Check out our bandcamp!
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?
Written by: Volt Thrower
Context and expectations are important when listening to an album. Similar to going to a cheap ticket Tuesday movie, (remember those?) and being blown away and thoroughly entertained. A self released debut desert psych rock LP doesn't exactly tip the scales of excitement for one such as myself, but I was looking for a nice palate cleanser after listening to theBible Basher EP on repeat for two hours, and...spoiler alert! German psychonauts Hammada immediately caught my ear, and didn't let go for the entirety of the record.
Right from the get-go on "Occasus," they have a captivating balance, finely teetering between the spacey elements of psych and the heavy push of desert rock, almost doom at times. A huge plus for the band is the standout vocal performance, particularly on "Nox"--which, when combined with an organ laced riff, makes for a terrific single.
Airy, whispery vocals can sometimes lose themselves amongst the music, not a concern here where the leads are absolutely commanding for the most part, while being able to pull back when best suited. There's an impressive symmetry at play as well, which should've been a little bit more obvious perhaps, judging by the artwork. The way the record is broken into four 15 minute sections across the 7 tracks is satisfying, but the way they connect each section with a synthy zip-tie builds a cohesive story from start to finish.
One of the highlights on the album is "Heliokratia," a song that actually comes from their 2017 EP Sfaira, albeit with a little modern polish. Low and slow to start, flourishes of synth buoy an intoxicating bass tone that I would swim in if I could. Some of the softer vocals on the record to start, but they work well to aid the buildup before the full band kicks into gear into a roaring wall of fuzz. They mention desert vibes and atmospheric riffs in their bio, and they are delivered in spades throughout middle tracks "Ether" and "Helios." They bring it back down to earth for the transition into ‘Azimut’. Another solid track, with an organ laced furious finish that would’ve worked well to wrap up the LP in a nice 45 minute bow. Instead, ATMOS gives way to one last final 15 minute epic in "Domizil," a mostly grooving instrumental, until some final transcending chants bring things to a close.
I generally prefer an LP in the 40-45 minute range, but Hammada have no issues providing a captivating listen for a full hour. The initial listen as a palate cleanser did exactly as it should, but the subsequent listens have solidified this as a must listen if you’re a fan of anything psych rock related. A solid debut has them firmly on the radar for future releases. Check it out!
Hammada - ATMOS was independently released June 26th, 2020
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!