• Doom Charts

    DOOM CHARTS PERORATION – APRIL 2024
    05/17/24 03:46:03AM
    “I heard it on the radioI saw it in the videoI played it on my stereoI read it on the Doom ChartsAnd I loved it…” ~ (probably misheard) lyrics from Masters Of Reality And I love it… A big thanks to all the Contributors and all those other bloggers, journalists, podcasters, radio dj’s, reviewers and […]

    DOOM CHARTS – APRIL 2024
    05/03/24 06:34:38AM
    As we cruise into the month of May and feel the approaching summer, the sweet fragrance of outdoor festivals, we present to you the April Doom Charts. Those albums that were spun the most and loved the hardest. As usual, there are many more. And you might have found a different favorite album during the […]

    FRIDAY FREEBIE – WATCHMAN
    04/26/24 12:00:00PM
    WATCHMAN – CURSED In fitting fashion, this month’s Freebies end with none other than low, slow, and thoroughly fuzzed out DOOM. Indiana’s WATCHMAN spread their apocalyptic sound ever further on third album Cursed, and the lethargic, nodding riffs hit just right. Dank, hazy, you name it, this is a murky record that oozes pure Sabbathian […]

    FRIDAY FREEBIE – SLUDGEBUCKET
    04/26/24 11:30:00AM
    SLUDGEBUCKET – SLUDGEADELIC As we near the curtain call of another Friday Freebie bonanza, none other than Oakland, California duo SLUDGEBUCKET keep us moving with their EP Sludgeadelic, recorded live in the studio and released this past March. A drum and bass guitar two-piece, SLUDGEBUCKET chart a course of jazzy, heavy instrumental grooves across four […]

    FRIDAY FREEBIE – OBSERVERS
    04/26/24 11:00:00AM
    OBSERVERS – THE AGE OF THE MACHINE ENTITIES Dare to venture into the cosmic unknown and embark upon the epic sci-fi doom that is OBSERVERS? “Without your space helmet, Dave? You’re going to find that rather difficult.” From Tasmania’s Martin Kennedy, of ALL INDIA RADIO, comes his new band OBSERVERS and the debut albm The Age of […]


  • Musipedia Of Metal

    Reviews: Pallbearer, Combichrist, Insanity Alert, Tzompantli (Reviews By Rich Piva, James Jackson, Mark Young & Gavin Brown)

    Pallbearer - Mind Burns Alive (Nuclear Blast) [Rich Piva]

    Pallbearer is a strange band to review after you just lost a loved one, but what better way to experience the beautifulness of their version of doom, a version that has become less and less heavy instrumentation wise but never loses its punch. Mind Burns Alive is barely a metal album, but it is going to be tough finding something heavier and more emotional than this record.

    Reviewing this and the new Vitskär Süden back-to-back in my given headspace is quite cathartic I must say, but Mind Burns Alive is even more on point to the pain and emotions that I have experienced over the pat 2 months or so. I literally feel this record coming out of my speakers during the opening track, Where The Light Fades. Can an album be more on point for a person at a certain time of their life? Pallbearer has perfected the doomy slow burn, but this beauty they continue to add to their music is astounding. Yes, this one gets crunchy at the tail end to keep the metalheads interested, but it is about so much more than that. 

    There has always been a bit of Type O in Pallbearer, and with the title track you get some of those vibes for sure. This track will satisfy the listeners yearning for the heavier doom metal side of Pallbearer. The whispered vocals at the beginning just adds to the deepness of the song as it permeates your skin and seeps into your veins. Signals hits just as hard, with a chunky but beautiful, with excellent vocals and a solo that breaks your heart. There is so much raw emotion built into Mind Burns AliveEndless Place is classic later period Pallbearer and if saxophone offends you in any way be ready for it, but it very much works here. 

    Daybreak may be Pallbearer’s most delicate track in parts, abandoning any semblance of metal for just straight up raw emotion that rips your heart out up front and at the end, but when it does kick in during the middle oh how I love that layered guitar work and we get really heavy around seven minutes where the raw emotion and metal crunch absorb each other into a purely perfect sound. What a song. Where The Light Fades, the closer, destroyed me.

    Whether it is the right album at the right time or whatever, Pallbearer nails it with Mind Burns Alive. The perfect mix of raw emotion and heaviness lyrically and musically that creates a dark and beautiful soundscape that only this band can deliver in this form so effectively. 9/10

    Combichrist - CMBCRST (Out Of Line Music via Rough Trade/Believe) [James Jackson]

    I had the pleasure of seeing Combichrist perform an Old School set at Leicester’s Uprising Festival last year and the act were a personal highlight of the event, I went for one band but came away very much intrigued by the Industrial/Aggrotech of Combichrist. For the most part the “band” are frontman/founder Andy LePlegua, joined by various artists when performing live; earlier recordings are far more Techno than the most recent recordings including this album and an EP released earlier this year. 

    The tracks on CMBCRST are an interesting blend of Metal and Techno, the two seemingly unrelated genres thrown together to create something simultaneously organic and synthetic, where one track is more “Metal” the next holds more of an Electronic/Techno element; some are then more in line with the Industrial offerings of Fear Factory, the first band that came to mind when Through The Raven’s Eyes came on. 

    Such is the diversity within the tracks that even the rather Funk infused, cowbell toting intro of Modern Demon which almost descends into Goth Rock territory before a stomping Techno beat takes over, doesn’t seem out of place, whilst the track Sonic Witch has a riff that reminds me of the tone of Rob Zombie’s album The Sinister Urge. For twenty years LePlegua and Combichrist in its various forms have been a huge part of the Aggrotech/EBM/Dark Electro scene, their work appearing on both Movie and Game soundtracks. 

    Undoubtedly this album will only cement their role as one of the most influential and longstanding artists within the genre. 9/10

    Insanity Alert - Moshemian Trashody (Season Of Mist) [Mark Young]

    From one extreme to another, Insanity Alert brings you four songs that are inspired by four incredibly well-known recording artists. How well you’ll like it will depend on how you like your classics being treated. They take influence from some of the speediest exponents of thrash – S.O.D, D.R.I and Municipal Waste as well as adopting that sense of humour that allows them to poke fun and hopefully get a laugh too.

    Welcome To The Moshpit is our kick-off track and is a rapid fly-through, keeping enough of its source material so you know exactly where it’s coming from. Wisely, they have trimmed the song to an inch of its life, knowing that stretching it beyond would probably start to grate on our nerves. It sounds exactly how you think it's going to sound, job done. Beer In The Park is shameless. And guaranteed to make you thirsty. They keep the best bits in, and you can imagine this being done live, everyone singing along as you would with the original. Beerless Fiesta is well, George Michael with double bass and death vocals. It’s the sound of drinker’s remorse, but with trem picking and Motorhead’s drums. I’d rather hear this than the original...

    Moshemian Thrashody, well, this is the song for everybody who has been battered in the pit. I defy anyone not to like this, it could be the soundtrack to anybody who has been battered in the pit. Condensing a 7-minute classic into the best bits is a tall order. Adding your own lyrics to it and keeping it sounding something like the original is something to be applauded. It is not half-arsed and finishes the EP off well.

    In the space of 12 minutes, they take what could be thought of as untouchable music and George Michael and wring it through an irreverent thrash filter. Sometimes you need someone to do this kind of thing, have a bit of fun that we can all share. Each of the songs is approached with the right balance of keeping it recognisable whilst maxing out the speed. How this lands will depend on your sensibilities, but if you go in with the approach that it is in good fun then I think you will like it. 7/10

    Tzompantli - Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force (20 Buck Spin) [Gavin Brown]

    With their 2022 debut album Tlazcaltiliztli, the death/doom/ black metal behemoth that is Tzompantli fused indigenous history and lore, merging traditional instruments with the heaviness of that unholy trilogy of sounds and the results were spectacular.

    Now two years later, Tzompantli return with the follow up album Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force and it sees the band building on the power of that debut album with another collection of brilliantly executed songs, bolstered by even more additions to their tribe this time around.

    The tribal rhythms that Tzompantli crush all in their path with are more than present and correct on Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force and this definitely adds to the power of the bands music especially on songs like Chichimecatl and Otlica Mictlan, which merge their doom infusing brutal death metal and in turn, some real menacing vibes with those tribal sounds, and the results are immense, something that happens constantly on this album.

    Those meetings of sound are something that are all over this album and it all adds up to a brutal and atmospheric listening experience, and it safe to say that Tzompantli have delivered the goods again with Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force, and in doing so, they have made an album that is even more eclectic and even heavier than what they have done in the past, and another example to mark Tzompantli as an undisputed force to be reckoned with in extreme music. 8/10

    Reviews: Gatecreeper, Cognitive, BAT, Ancient Settlers (Reviews By Paul Hutchings, GC, Matt Bladen & Mark Young)

    Gatecreeper – Dark Superstition (Nuclear Blast Records) [Paul Hutchings]

    We’ve covered the burgeoning development of this Arizonian old school death metallers in some detail over the past decade. Now signed to Nuclear Blast, this is a big step up the band, which they have pulled off with ease. Vocalist Chase H. Mason acknowledges their improvement. “We refined the song structures. We’re getting better at what we do.”

    Ominous words for any competitors, but great news for those who enjoyed the band’s previous work. Alongside Mason, Dark Superstition sees the return of guitarists Eric Wagner and Israel Garza, drummer ‘metal’ Matt Arrebollo and bassist Alex Brown. It’s a powerful follow up to 2021’s An Unexpected Reality and evidence that the band are moving upwards through the ranks.

    What’s impressive about Dark Superstition is the feel of it. Described as their answer to Entombed’s Wolverine Blues or Dismember’s Massive Killing Capacity, there’s a wider sound to this album. Whilst the band retain their death metal links, there are variations which show a maturity in the songwriting. 

    The opening track Dead Star is less ripping your face off than previous albums, whilst Oblivion is a sonic blend of intensity and slower, more pleasurable riffage. Tackling themes of supernatural, divination, fear of the unknown and the trust in magic or chance, there’s plenty to explore. Black Curtain for example, sees the band take on a gothic stance with influences like Sisters Of Mercy and Fields Of The Nephilim combing with the band’s more punishing style.

    That’s not to say that Mason has eased off, no way, and his rasping gravel coated roar remains as ferocious as before. However, the influence of bands like Dismember is strong. Drummer Fred Estby worked with the band in pre-production, and his touch on tracks like Masterpiece Of Chaos, described by Mason as “a nightmarish vision of a broken mirror with an ominous creature that lives within the fragmented web of glass”, is evidence of the classic Swedish sound’s influence.

    Gatecreeper don’t mess around either. The songs are generally short and sweet, with only the dramatic finale Tears Fall From The Sky, a crushing doom epic clocking in at over four minutes in length. With a tour with Enforced and 200 Stab Wounds booked for the Autumn, and an album that is certain to carry favour with old and new fans alike, Dark Superstition still brings the HM-2 sound and, having established their position, are unlikely to let it go. 8/10

    Cognitive - Abhorrence (Metal Blade Records) [GC]

    Formed back in 2011 in New Jersey Cognitive have released an EP and 4 full length albums so far, the last being back in 2021, now they are back and ready to release their new album Abhorrence on their current label Metal Blade.

    The title track Abhorrence kicks everything off in a suitably savage deathcore way, managing to avoid the overtly electronic sounding guitars that most bands seem to have right now and sticking to good old fashioned and well produced cuts, overall, it’s a decent start BUT there are cleanish type vocals included that sound a bit cheesy, Insidious does its best to sound like early Whitechapel and succeeds in everyway which is no bad thing because that was their best era, but it just seems a bit too familiar for me for a band 5 albums into their career. 

    A Pact Unholy doesn’t really do to much different from the first 2 tracks but the range of vocals is different and there are a load more technical guitar parts and this makes for an interesting listen, but once again I just don’t think the clean vocals go at all, in both songs they have featured you could easily take them out and not notice, I hope this doesn’t become an exhausting pattern throughout the whole album. 

    Ivory Tower continues the deathcore tone running and once again while not being exhilarating is still more than decent to listen to, with As The Light Fades there feels like a bit more grandiosity has been added into the darkness and its chugs and blasts away while having an almost epic feeling in places and because of that the clean vocals finally pay off and add something to the song as a whole and the guitar solos at end add a suitably grand finish! Savor The Suffering is almost everything you could ask for from a modern deathcore track, huge guttural vocals, chugging riffs and thunderous drumming and the obligatory breakdowns midway through all careering together to rip your face clean off and all in just under 3 minutes, thank you very much! 

    Containment Breach is more of the same as you would obviously expect, there isn’t a whole lot of variation on this record and sometimes, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it and it does have an excellently ominous ending section that really makes the whole song that bit more interesting. Rorschach tries its best to lull you into a false sense of security but the more laid-back start last all of 30 seconds before all hells breaks loose, the riffing of Rob Wharton & Harry Lannon is sharp and stabbing.

    Tyler Capone’s undeniable bass rumble holding the all the chaos together with the drums absolutely exceptional from AJ Viana but what stands out here are the vocals, its an unreal vocal performance from Shane Jost on this track, you can feel everything he is spitting out at you, tremendous stuff, following this with Lunar Psychopathy sounds slightly less interesting because it’s not as layered or nuanced but it’s still decent in the grand scheme of things, so its onto Cold Dead Hands to close the album and of course it does so in furious fashion, with not one single second wasted on subtlety or restraint and is another great showing of when it’s done right deathcore can be one of the best styles of metal around.
     
    At first, I was a bit unsure about Abhorrence, there were some parts that I could have done without but for the most part this was a brilliantly heavy and unrelenting listen and the few bits I didn’t particularly like didn’t actually ruin anything for me in the long run. If you like deathcore you will undoubtedly love this record. If you don’t and are looking to explore the genre, check out this record as it’s a very, very good way to start your journey!! 8/10

    BAT - Under The Crooked Claw (Nuclear Blast) [Matt Bladen]

    2/3 Municipal Waste and 1/3 No Tomorrow, BAT is a no-frills gore soaked band from Ryan Waste of the Virginia thrashers, he’s joined by Waste guitarist Nick Poulos, also of Volture and drummer Chris Marshall of punk band No Tomorrow, this trio coming together in 2017 but only now making their recorded debut. The punk drumming of Marshall, fills these songs with fury, putting the speed into speed metal. 

    Influenced by blood splattered VHS tapes from their youth, banned video nasties that were said to corrupt the moral fibre and set against music inspired by bands such as Venom, Discharge (Warshock), Motorhead, The Misfits (Just Buried) and Motorhead. BAT is no side project it’s the flipside to Municipal Waste, there Ryan cranks out crossover thrash rhythms on six strings but here he gets to take scuzzy lead bass like Lemmy or Cronos, the NWOBHM gallops on Revenge Of The Wolf fitting into that sort of musical area before the crossover chops ring out on Bastardized Force

    Rite For Exorcism sees the trio locked in for some punk metal grooving, those basslines giving you some grunt as the drumming takes that familiar punk one-two to make it faster and nastier, Streetbanger unloading speed metal on you in under 3 minutes. The lyrics are all derived from horror movies so the song Horror Vision is a natural fit as it sees them praising these video nasties, with lurid excitement as Marauders Of Doom lets more classic/speed metal leather shows it’s face. 

    Signing to Nuclear Blast and the addition of a new drummer allows more experimentation of their gory punk metal hybrid, Under The Crooked Claw is a superior record to their debut, better balanced between the moments the band wants to create, fire up the VCR and let the slashers loose with this as your soundtrack. 8/10

    Ancient Settlers - Oblivion’s Legacy (Scarlet Records) [Mark Young]

    Oblivion’s Legacy is the sophomore release from Ancient Settlers, their first for Scarlet Records and it is good one. The Circle Of Misanthropy, with its jaunty opening, voice-over, and Swe-tinged guitar build starts at a fair old lick, with some class death growls courtesy of Argen Death There are melodic flourishes all over it with the partial switch to clean singing handled well. It's punchy, taking enough influence from Swe-death without it being a direct copy. 

    Lead breaks go the right way, and it’s a solid start that they maintain into Oblivion’s Legacy. That jaunty theme returns as the muscular opening falls away to reveal a carny arrangement, which jars for a second. Luckily, the metal returns, dual vocals that match with the guitar lines, presenting them with a class singalong section that is made for live performance. The melodic death provided does enough without trying to be something new and has all the key ingredients you would want – great tempo and is attacked with gusto, in every facet from the drums to leads to the vocals.

    This attitude towards the music is kept up, as they know what riffs should go where, a great example is Stardust Odyssey where they have three great chord builds, and a mighty elongated roar that segues into a massive breakdown via a subtle change. Its really good stuff, as is the charging Wounded Heart. The synths used here do good work in supporting and once again they go for a chorus section that is built for being played live.

    Their respective countries of origin, being Venezuelan and Spanish means that they can also lean into a lighter approach, such as that delivered on Subversive. This is not to say its soft in any way, it’s just the way it is put together is more Euro metal than Scandinavian (this is not a diss). What is excellent here is that there is no drop-off in speed, the tracks fly by at a lick with barely a chance for them to grab a hold. What is in their favour is that they keep to the overall tenet of providing the best melodic death they can, Coven Garden has this wicked progression with the cleans draped over without sounding off.

    In fact, I’d like to say that Oblivion’s Legacy is certainly one of the brightest melo-death albums I’ve heard this year. There have been plenty of albums that talk about channelling the Gothenburg sound and in the process seem to lose something of themselves, ending up with mixed results. Here, they take what they like, or feel right and then put their stamp on it. The Mechanical Threats Paradox, whilst a mouthful of a title is another great example of their vision. Don’t take my word for it, give it a go. Alas, Redemption is the last song, and as you would expect, they serve up a classic slice of melodic metal, mixing tempo up nicely and even amping up the synths for good measure. 

    All told it’s a decent set of songs that whilst not offering up anything ground-breaking, they are good songs that deliver on all counts. On the strength of this material, you hope that they can continue to grow with bringing their own sound into it, as they are doing on here. Good Stuff. 7/10


    Reviews: Vitskär Süden, Troy Redfern, Freedom, Darko (Reviews By Rich Piva, Paul Scoble, Paul Hutchings & GC)

    Vitskär Süden - Vessel (Ripple Music) [Rich Piva]

    When you hear a band has a “Dungeons and Dragons” theme to their music, where does your head go? Probably not to a dark and beautiful place like Vitskär Süden takes you with their output, and there may not be anything more dark and beautiful right now that their new record, Vessel. This is heavy stuff. Not heavy in the normal meaning from a band that the awesome Ripple Music releases. This is heavy in a bleak, atmospheric and sparce sort of way. It’s not the riffs that get you on Vessel, it is the vibe, the darkness, and the cold feeling that this record leaves with you, in the best sort of way.

    There is nothing remotely metal or stoner rock on vessel. I guess you could go doom here, but more like Nick Cave finally figuring out he should have done doom records all along. Or how about dark prog? Bleak psych maybe? I mean the opening track, Vengeance Speaks, with the sparce opening and added synths and background vocals, it is just next level bleakness and I am so here for it. Martin Garner’s vocals have grown so much and is now one of my favourite voices is rock today. 

    Those synths I mentioned drive R’lyeh, an awesome song with a cool riff that goes nicely with the frantic baseline and pairs nicely with the synth work. I love the subtle sounds added to the track and those vocals are so great too. Vessel Through Tunnels They Move has an almost Middle East vibe to it, especially in the guitar work. This track is simply beautiful and incorporates all of the goodness the band brings to Vessel, this one lead by the sparce but simple and effective guitar parts throughout the song. 

    More darkness envelops you on Hidden By The Day. I love the addition of the acoustic guitar and piano to the mix on this one bringing more of those Nick Cave vibes I mentioned earlier. I could see the goth kids from my high school back in the day getting behind this one too (compliment), especially with the cello sounding synth chimes in. Tattered Sails is the slowest of the slow burns and incorporates more of the psych aspects of the band, especially in the guitar work. 

    Did I mention bleak in this review before? Well check out Everyone, All Alone for even more of it. Closing with what is pretty much a piano driven ballad is probably a first on a Ripple release but boy oh boy does it work here. These vocals are just next level.

    If the D&D aspect of the band has kept you from listening to Vitskär Süden, you need to get over yourself quickly and check out the beautiful bleakness of Vessel. Trust me, you will not even get a whiff of the stuff while experiencing the gorgeous doomy psych prog the band has perfected. 9/10

    Troy Redfern – Invocation (RED7 Records) [Paul Scoble]

    Troy Redfern is quickly becoming one of the biggest noises on the British blues rock scene. Troy has been making music for well over ten years and has also released material under The Troy Redfern Band moniker. Troy’s last album was 2022’s The Wings Of Salvation. The style on Invocation is Blues Rock with a definite Boogie feel to a lot of the material. There is a lot of rock and roll swagger and in the odd place a little bit of late eighties / early nineties rock, and maybe even a little bit of seventies glam rock. 

    The album kicks off with the song The Strange, a great piece of bouncy boogie at a fast-walking pace. The verse has a purposeful stomp, whilst the singalong chorus is full of energy. Next comes Getaway, a very tight, funky rocker with a rock and roll chorus and a very good solo, the song has a great driving fast ending. The next track is Van Helsing, another up-tempo rock track with a minimal and very controlled Verse, and a pounding and almost aggressive chorus that releases all the tension that has built up during the Verse in a way that feels explosive. The song also has another really good solo, the one on Van Helsing just soars, and is perfect for the song. The next track is the first blues ballad on the album; The Calling

    The Calling is a great melodic ballad with some superb slide guitar playing and an absolutely anthemic chorus. The next song is Native, and it is a very interesting song. If you plotted a graph of the songs intensity it would form a shape like a mountain or an inverted V. The song starts very minimal and it slowly builds in intensity, peaking roughly half way though, with a section that is big, loud and dramatic and includes a really great guitar solo. The song then ebbs away, dropping back to the minimal sound from the beginning. The song builds from nothing to huge proportions, and then collapses back. After Native, comes The Fever

    The Fever is a great piece of bluesy rock with some great slide guitar, the chorus is nice and powerful, and the awesome guitar solo features slide and shredding. All Night Long is an absolute blast of rock and roll with great energy, a brilliant chorus and yet another stunning solo, this song is so much fun! After the energy packed brilliance of All Night Long Troy goes for a ballad as any kind of up-tempo song would seem bland at this point. Blind Me is a big blues ballad with lots of slide guitar, the chorus is very emotive, and the song has the feel of a piece of Late Fifties or early Sixties pop, there is also a slight country twang to the song. 

    Voodoo Priestess is a stunning piece of sleazy rock and roll with loads of slide, an awesome chorus and the perfect foot tapping, head nodding, fist pumping tempo. Next comes Take Me High, a relaxed blues rock / rock and roll with an awesome chorus (have I mentioned how good the choruses are?). Invocation comes to an end with the appropriately titled song The Last Stand. A taut piece of blues rock with a measured verse and a bigger but relaxed chorus, the slide guitar solo is haunting and memorable, and makes the song a great way to end the album. 

    Invocation is a great album. It’s full of a really great energy that makes the fast rockers crackle with vigour and zeal and fills the ballads with emotion. The guitar work on the album is nothing short of spectacular, but that is what Troy is known for, I was also very impressed by his vocal performance which is pretty much just as good. I loved all the choruses on the album, they get stuck in your head very quickly and stay. Most of all this album is a blast of great fun from start to finish, the only thing you’ll feel sad about is when the album ends. 9/10

    Freedom – Stay Free! (Wild Kingdom) [Paul Hutchings]

    Plenty of melody, harmonies, and Americana in this second album by the retrospective sounding Freedom. Formed in 2019, their live show is rumoured to be anthemic, uplifting and a joy to the soul. Described as a ‘bargain basement Springsteen’, anyone who caught the Boss on his recent tour of UK stadiums is likely to be up for some of this punchy, classic Rock n Roll. Stay Free follows on from the self-titled debut record, and it’s the first with the revamped line up which now includes Ola Göransson (Heavy Feather, Stacie Collins) and Matte Gustafsson (In Solitude, Siena Root, Heavy Feather) alongside Mange Monroe and Magnus Laver. 

    Anthemic, uplifting, Freedom rightly don’t claim to reinvent the wheel, for that would be too bold a statement for an album steeped in those early influences. There are bits of Tom Petty, Eagles, and even The Gaslight Anthem in parts. A heady ten tracks that move from the up-tempo opening song Tonight through to the slow drawl of closing song Generation, with its laid-back vibe, there’s certainly an enjoyable experience lurking here if you want some guitar-based rock ‘n’ roll. The music is rich, excellently crafted, and has a polished finish that doesn’t over gloss the sound. 

    There’s saxophone in Eye Of The Storm and Love Reaction which add class and depth, whilst every song provides a catchy undertone that you can’t but help nodding along with. With a fine production that enhances the harmonies and crisp vocals, and an overall tone that brings a smile to the face, this is music that the band rightly describe as music to follow you through thick and thin, far into those never-ending summer nights. Whilst summer nights in the UK may not be quite as inviting as they once were, Freedom’s approach is certainly reminiscent of good times and good memories. 7/10

    Darko - Greyscale (Lockjaw Records) [GC]

    Before I begin, I need to clear up some initial confusion from my end. This new EP Greyscale is by UK hardcore punk band Darko and has nothing to do with the US deathcore band Darko, which is a relief because they are shit! Anyway, Darko (UK) have been knocking about for 10 or so years and have a few EPs and an album behind them already. 

    It all starts in a very subtle and subdued way on What I Cannot Be but that doesn’t last long before some raucous and rowdy hardcore punk spin kicks its way into your presence then batters you around the chops repeatedly and before you know its all over and Built On Broken Wings then throws a definite nod to early Taking Back Sunday but with more a much more punk attitude and less of the emo whining and while it does all have a very post-hardcore feel to it they never lose their edge throughout. 

    Aggro falls directly into Comeback Kid territory and really packs a punch as the title of the song would suggest, the main thing I have noticed so far about the songs are the varying styles of vocals, there are 4 members listed as doing vocals and every single one has a different style so therefore the music changes to try and match the chosen vocalist at that time and while sometimes this may help, here it tends to makes things sound a bit muddled in places, especially the grunting death metal vocals? 

    Aux II for the first time carries the hardcore theme directly into the next track and also starts with aforementioned out of place DM vocals when the more HC style vocals kick in it all makes much more sense and sounds more coherent, maybe it looks/sounds good live but here it just fells all over the place, when they do find a groove its all works so well and sounds positive and uplifting but then they mix the styles up to please all 4 vocalists and lose all momentum. 

    Anyway I’m already onto the last track Lowest Hanging Fruit that has more of the urgent post-hardcore from earlier and when they play this it’s an absolute pleasure to listen to because its focused and laser sharp and uplifting like it should be and this song is a perfect exercise on focusing on what you do best and also annoying as I wish the rest of the EP sounded like this because if it had their score would have been so much higher. 

    Having been around for as long as they have, I would have expected Darko to have a more defined style but to me here it seems like they are still trying to find a sound? When they concentrate on the post-hardcore/punk they sound brilliant and life affirming but they then try and throw all sorts of other things in that just makes everything sound like they are trying way too much for their own good! 6/10


    Reviews: Kerry King, Pain, Geezer/Isaak, Zombeast (Reviews By Mark Young, Richard Oliver, Paul Scoble & James Jackson)

    Kerry King - From Hell I Rise (Reigning Phoenix Music) [Mark Young]

    I think we should start this off by saying that this is not Slayer. It’s not meant to be Slayer and at the end of their 2019 run, some would say that the Slayer on stage wasn’t Slayer. There is also a lot of negative arrows being shot at Mr King, based on comments he’s made (or not made), his personae, and the fact that the announcement of some Slayer shows this year surfaced around the same time he was gearing up to release his solo album. 

    Considered by some to be a hack artist, constantly in the shadow of Jeff Hanneman his efforts are sometimes maligned and to be honest I think treated unfairly. Was Repentless a storming album? No, it was patchy, but it was the only Slayer you were getting. Like AC/DC you know what you are going to get the minute you press play, and they are not going all out to win new fans.

    So, to recap I’m reviewing this purely on the strength of the music within. I’m not comparing it to Slayer, because it isn’t. However, I’m sure that if there is something that sounds like them, I’ll have to mention that. King himself has said that some of this material was around in one form or another around the Repentless era. Also, if you have been writing music for one band for the last 40 years then that style will undoubtedly bleed into whatever music you are writing. So, I assume that if you weren’t fond of that album, then you might not find a lot to like here.

    And to avoid any doubt, those wishing to read a hatchet job might as well look elsewhere. I’m sure there will be plenty of that online.

    Ok, here we go.

    Diablo is the kick-off track. Its instrumental and I’m beginning to detest these because everyone is doing them. I’m not sure they offer anything apart from announcing that the show is about to begin. Where I Reign on the other hand comes screaming in, breakneck pace with Mark Osegueda in full flight. Lead breaks are right where they should be, and Paul Bostaph is playing with an energy that surprises me. It is exactly the sort of song you want to be starting things off, a statement of intent that there is still a fire there. 

    If the riffs play up to his stereotype, then so be it because it flies. The lead breaks are frenzied, and I expected nothing less. Residue backs off, occupying that mid-pace chug but here the vocals carry the song as they are delivered with venom, As riffs go it’s perfectly adequate but with the vocals and drums being so prominent, they make it sound better. Idle Hands, mixes in punk with a delivery that is spat like bullets. So far so good.

    Idle Hands brings more of that riff build that was used on Residue, so much so that the pair could be almost the same song. There is a nifty little pre-solo break, but again it’s the vocals that rule here. Trophies Of The Tyrant has some great lead breaks, a King™ melody line, and a solo rhythm that can be described as simple. Having reached halfway one thing is apparent. There are a lot of great moments, but they don’t translate into great songs.

    Second half, Let’s go.

    Crucifixation starts off at a pelt and stays there. There is some class drumming from Bostaph, not overtly flashy but embellished with enough touches that you would expect from him. An elongated melody break feels overlong, but as it descends into a manic solo it picks up once more which is always welcome because if you have nowhere to go, go berserk with a whammy bar. Tension has that slow, measure to it but again doesn’t offer anything and feels as though we are in the filler zone. 

    It makes Everything I Hate About You hit so much better. Of all the songs I’ve heard so far this reminds me of about three different Slayer songs but is a quick blast through and over quickly. Toxic is a straightforward, heads down stomper and works really well because of that. It’s not trying to be anything other than a meat and potatoes track but its better than Tension by a mile. Two Fists has an almost hard rock riff build to it and is fighting with Toxic for the song I hate the most so far.

    What did I say about a hatchet job?

    Luckily, Rage comes in and gives the album the necessary kick in the arse. Mark’s vocals are spot on here, full of energy like he’s determined to drag the material kicking and screaming into something you want to hear again. This is what has been required, quick, nasty, and to the point. Shrapnel does enough to keep you engaged, but it needed to be faster to keep that momentum in place that had been built up by Rage. Its not a bad track by any means, but it could have been shifted earlier in the pack so that the final duo could have been a proper blitzkrieg.

    Final track is From Hell I Rise and closes the album in a similar style to Rage. It had to finish with an attack like this, fairly rapid with suitably mental lead breaks. This is what this album should have been like, it’s what I expected it to be like and I wish It was like that. Its compact, quick and does what it needs to do.

    In all honesty, this could have done with some ruthless attention. There are two, probably three songs that should have been cut from the final selection. Track placing also plays a part in reducing the effect that the good songs have and the final three should have been switched, so that the pace could increase and really give the album a decent close. 

    I keep mentioning Mark’s vocals, but they are the MVP here. He attacks each song like his life depends on it, there is nothing half-hearted or tired in his delivery. Same for Paul Bostaph. He is playing with an energy that I didn’t think he had and puts a shift in here. Between them, they do their best to elevate the music. Riff-wise, we know there is a million memes about 000-111-000-112211-000 and there is nothing here that will change it. They do what they need to do, and with that From Hell I Rise gets a 7/10

    Pain - I Am (Nuclear Blast) [Richard Oliver]

    After an eight year absence, Peter Tägtgren returns to his “hobby” project Pain for the ninth album I Am. Peter has certainly kept himself busy in the last eight years recording another album with Till Lindemann of Rammstein, a new Hypocrisy album and the resultant touring and an album with Joe Lynn Turner. Pain has never left Peter’s mind though and the overwhelming reaction to the 2021 single Party In My Head gave the album writing process an explosive start.

    One thing that is definitely certain is that I Am is definitely a nod to the Pain of old. Previous album Coming Home was a great listen but saw Peter exploring some different sounds and was a more experimental Pain album. I Am certainly explores some different musical avenues but this has far more in common with albums such as Rebirth, Nothing Remains The Same and Dancing With The Dead with heavy, anthemic and downright catchy tunes which perfectly mesh metal and industrial sounds such as I Just Dropped By, The New Norm and Revolution

    There is a greater emphasis on electronic and industrial sounds this time round with the 80’s goth aesthetics of Go With The Flow being a particular highlight and the darkwave teasing's of Not For Sale. The title track introduces a darker and melancholic tone which also really shows itself on sombre album closer Fair Game. Party In My Head makes an appearance on the album after its 2021 single release and it is a clear highlight being one of the most dangerously catchy songs that Pain have released.

    As with the previous Pain albums, all music is performed by Peter Tägtgren though this one is a bit more of a family affair with Peter’s son Sebastian (also the live drummer for the band) contributing some writing credits. I Am is an album that is definitely going to go down well with the Pain fanbase. For those that were not keen on the experimental nature of Coming Home this album is Pain doing what they do best and firing on all cylinders. After an eight year gap between albums, Pain sound truly invigorated and energised and it sounds like Peter has had an absolute blast writing and recording this album as the energy of it is infectious. 8/10

    Geezer/Isaak – Interstellar Cosmic Blues & Riffalicious Stoner Dudes (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Paul Scoble]

    Heavy Psych Sounds are a great label, particularly when they put two great bands like Geezer and Isaak together to make a split release. The two Doom bands, with different but complimentary sounds, have produced a split (as it’s got seven songs on it and comes in at thirty-six minutes I’m not sure if this is a split album or EP, I’ll just refer to it as a split) featuring four songs from Geezer and three from Isaak.

    Geezer have been making music together since 2010 and in that time have made six albums, the last one being 2022’s Stoned Blues Machine. Geezer are made up of Pat Harrington on Guitar and Vocals, Richie Touseull on Bass Guitar and Steve Markota on Drums and Percussion.

    Isaak have been around since 2007, from then until 2012 they went under the moniker Gandhi’s Gunn, but have only released material as Isaak, as their first album The Longer The Beard, The Harder The Sound was released in 2013. The band have released two albums since their debut, the last being Hey in 2023. Isaak are made up of Davide Foccis on Drums, Francesco Raimondi on Guitars, Giacomo H. Boeddu on Vocals and Gabriele Carta on Bass.

    The Geezer material has a great bluesy stoner feel to it. Opening song Acid Veins is mid-paced Stoner Doom that switches between driving and purposeful and bigger, more expansive riffs, the song also boasts some great melodic Guitar solos. Next is Little Voices which is slower and more relaxed than the song that preceded it, again there is a tuneful solo, and a great head-nodding tempo. Mercury Rising is a great piece of Stoner Rock with a wonderful bounce to the tempo, it also has a great chorus that will get stuck in your head. Geezers side of the split comes to an end with the song Oneirophrenia, a tout and measured stoner song with a purposeful chorus and as with all the Geezer tracks, lots of melody.

    The three Isaak tracks have a more aggressive, sludgy feel to them. The Whale, which features a guest performance from Fabio Cuomo from Gotho and Liquido Di Morte, is a fast and aggressive track with a Hardcore edge to it, in places it reminds me of High On Fire’s more extreme material. Despite all the aggressiveness the song also has lots of melody, particularly in the second half of the song. Next we get Crisis, featuring Fabio Palomba from Nerve and Burn The Ocean. Crisis is slower than The Whale with a relentless feel it, the song gets more aggressive and sludgier in the second half. The final Isaak song and final song on the split is Flat Earth featuring Levre from Ufomammut, a big Doomy track that is full of melody and builds in intensity as the song develops.

    Interstellar Cosmic Blues & Rifferlicious Stoner Dudes is a cracking split. All the material is very good, and the two bands styles complement each other very well. If I had to choose I prefer the Geezer material as I’m more into that style of Doom, but that is just my personal taste, the quality on this split is very high throughout. Another great split from Heavy Psych Sounds! 8/10

    Zombeast - Heart Of Darkness (Massacre Records) [James Jackson]

    Well this one took me by surprise, proving that you really can’t judge a book by its (Necronomicon style) cover. Heart Of Darkness is Zombeast’s second full length album and with a name like that and the accompanying blood soaked artwork, I fully expected to be heading into Death Metal territory but instead found a Horror inspired Punk Rock outfit in a similar vein to The Misfits. 

    Covering such Horror conventions as werewolves, in Call Of The Wild with its obligatory chant of "Die, Die, Die" soul sucking demons and serial killers; Zombeast have everything covered thematically, even including a track dedicated to necrophilia. Whilst I am finding the vocal delivery a bit hard to understand at times, that drawl a little muffled, the overall performance is pretty good, all of the “whoa’s” are in the right place and the melodies catchy. 

    There are moments which are almost Thrash like, thrown into the mix of Punk Rock which amps up the sound without it becoming too frenetic and for an album that is had initial doubts upon its fast becoming something that will be played again. My experience of Horror Punk acts is limited to the more commercially available Wednesday 13, Frankenstein Drag Queens and Murderdolls, Zombeast are a band that, based on this album, I’m keen to explore a bit more. 8/10


    Reviews: SVNEATR, Take Offense, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, Waste (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

    SVNEATR - Never Return (Prosthetic Records)

    Third album from Vancouver extreme metal band comes as the band celebrate their 10 year anniversary. Following their 2021 album Chinhook, band founder Vitharr Monteith (guitar/vocals) didn't know if the band would survive much longer. He found himself worrying about not only the future of SVNEATR but of the world in general with corporate tyranny on the rise, the global pandemic and the environmental crisis. These things are all what inspired Never Return an album that is about resignation, how to live with the world in it's current state. Monteith's approach to this record was to take everything they have learned over 10 years and create their most progressive record to date.

    Swathes of atmospheres driven by strings and the impressive guitar playing of Vitharr and James Readman, lead us out of the last track Reaper Of The Universe, an elongated outro that is just an instrumental journey finishes off Never Return in a way that would make you doubt that this is an extreme metal album. Their duality with the guitars, moving between tremolo picking, death metal grinds, acoustics etc builds on the already technically gifted black metal style the band are known for but embellishing it. The addition of cello and contrabass from bassist Shawn Hillman who adds both of these to his repertoire and uses them on the record to brilliant effect, expanding the sonic output of SVNEATER.

    Omen has some slow moving groove ala Gojira, even bringing some of those fret slides the French heavies love. It means that they can unleash metallic hell on the title track, Matthew Logan's drumming dictating the changing pace of And When Comes The Storm. This track is where SVNEATR have added to their sound with some chanting and clean vocals too, the chants coming at the end of Omen especially. This Canadian foursome's third album is an advancement in their overall sound; with the doubts cast over their future erased Never Return is a crowning achievement. 8/10

    Take Offense -  T.O.tality (MNRK Heavy)

    I've always talked about how picky I am with thrash, a lot of it just doesn't always sit well with me. However crossover thrash is a different thing. Maybe it's the punk and hardcore elements, the more rabid approach or the fact I was brought up with the Tony Hawk's soundtrack, I gravitate more towards any band who have that crossover sound. 

    Releasing their debut on MNRK Heavy but their fourth record total, SoCal band Take Offense tick all the right boxes for fans of the crossover style. This is a bunch of Cali dudes playing music to skate, drink and toke to. It's anti-authority, anti-fascist and proudly shouts about Latino/Mexican heritage. Influences are of course fellow SoCal legends Suicidal Tendencies but also shredding bands such as Ratt of Van Halen where the Strip bled into the world of the Z-Boys, listen to the title track. The album is a tribute to the acts that have come before them and their scene in general. 

    From the abrasive S.W.O to the shredtastic If I'm Damned Then So Be It, there's aggression in Uncivilised Animals, while Now Or Never brings the speed of Slayer, House Of Shadows has the brooding evil of Kerry, Jeff, Tom and Dave. It's 14 tracks but this ain't prog, most fly past in a heartbeat though No Man's Land is an intro to the excellent and defiant Stolen Land, T.O.tality really takes you on a breakneck listen, culminating with the snarling The Prayer, Take Offense take you to Cali with their frantic crossover stomp. 8/10

    Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown - Electrified (Rattle Shake Records)

    Nashville rock n rollers Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, club together stories of underdogs and rebels on their new album Electrified. Released on their own label Rattle Shake Records, this trio have had a real meteoritic rise to fame, from playing little shows in rock clubs around the world they have supported bands such as AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, ZZ Top, Jeff Beck and many more meaning that this southern blues rock trio have a lot of experience behind them both on stage and in recorded output. This is their sixth album and their fourth on their own label and it's got the swagger and the style of a band at this point of their career.

    Locked into what they do as a band, that fuzz drenched guitar and soulful vocal is insistent, Caleb Crosby's locomotive shuffle drumming rattling the rhythm along as Graham Whitford doubles down on the six stringing. They're a band who are born from the blues and raised in rock n roll but they happen on many of sounds painted by Americana acts. Whether it's the moody Crossfire, the southern style of Happy Gets Made features blues legend Ruthie Foster duetting with Tyler while One And Lonely is a swampy ballad that features Larkin Poe and some slinky slide guitar. 

    Bryant wields his custom Strat on grimy country rocker Snake Oil and the wild eyed Shake You Down but on Trick Up My Sleeve he reveals vulnerability in his vocal and deftness in their song writing. Well into their groove as a an act, TB&TS keep quality high but still try to test themselves on this sixth record of American roots rock. 7/10

    Waste - In Bloom (Seek & Strike)

    In Bloom is brutal, there's no arguing with that. This new EP from deathcore mob Waste is absolutely bloody brutal from the build of intro Be Welcome which moves into the crushing aggression of Wither it's no wonder they're said to be for fans of Suicide Silence, Osiah and Bound In Fear, though they are a lot more than just a copy of these bands. 

    Aggression, breakdowns, guttural vocals with poignant lyrics about mental health and music that is infected with electronics and with Serpants Tongue and In Dolore a unnerving dissonance which reminds me of Slipknot. I'm trying really hard to find any other things to say about this but I'm not the biggest deathcore fan, especially when it's all about the sheer brutality however if your music tastes expands to burly dudes beating the crap out of you with music then In Bloom will be for you. 6/10



  • Outlaws Of The Sun

    French Post-Metal quartet HOMECOMING on tour now! New album 'Those We Knew' available on Copper Feast Records.

    Photo credit Fab William Alexander.

    Progressive metal/post-metal foursome HOMECOMING's tour across France, the UK and Belgium kicks off today in Lille. They will defend their recently released album 'Those We Knew' - out on British imprint Copper Feast Records.

    HOMECOMING's well-honed personality brilliantly fuses grunge, 90s rock and progressive metal. New album Those We Knew highlights remarkable vocal work that guides the listener through various musical tableaux. The vocals adapt to the moods and unite the tracks, tying together the influences. Discovering ‘Those We Knew’, we can easily imagine Alice In Chains featuring Tool or Cult Of Luna. The gloomy, heavy, sometimes hushed 90s tones collide with endless imagination, peppered by ethereal atmospheres, enticing introspection.

    TOUR DATES - info & tickets

    17.05 FR LILLE, La Bulle Café
    18.05 FR PARIS, Le Klub
    30.05 UK BOURNEMOUTH, Bears Cave
    31.05 UK BRISTOL, The Gryphon
    01.06 UK ROTHERHAM,The Hive
    02.06 UK LONDON, Signature Brew
    01.07 FR PARIS, Supersonic
    12.07 BE BRUXELLES, Café Central
    13.07 BE HASSELT, Cafe Nocturna

    “Elements recognizable from the likes of Mastodon, Neurosis...” - The Obelisk

    “Mind-Blowing. The skill of the musicians, the gift of the singer, the sound dynamics are of a high level” - Doom Charts

    “A brilliant and technically minded band” - Outlaws Of The Sun

    “It is an absolute stunner of an album,
    each of the six songs tells a different story” - Metal Epidemic

    “Aesthetic and enjoyable” - Ever Metal

    “A stunning blend of so many different sounds that it’s amazing they can put it
    all together in such a comprehensive manner” - Heavy Music HQ

    "The guitars pour out devastating riffs when it's not a more progressive work" - Music In Belgium


    Since 2017, Parisian post-metal quartet HOMECOMING experiment as much as they navigate between different styles, drawing inspiration from sludge, grunge, 90s alt-rock and progressive metal. The key to the success of this unlikely fusion? Unfailing coherence, underpinned by a miracle recipe: blistering riffs, melodious or ultra-violent vocals, out-of-control drums, and a whole arsenal of better-than-average ideas that help to create an outstanding soundscape.

    HOMECOMING's ambitious debut album, aptly titled "LP01", was released in December 2019 on a self-production basis. Spotted by tour promoter Hello Euphoria, the quartet crossed the French borders, hitting the roads of Europe until arriving on the stages of leading heavy music festival Desertfest London (in May 2023). Shortly after, they sign to UK label Copper Feast Records for the release of their second studio effort, 'Those We Knew' on April 19th 2024. The whole thing is off to a flying start.

    LINE-UP

    Théo Alves Guiter: vocals, guitar
    Renaud Fumey-Seguy: guitar,  backing vocals
    Basile Chevalier: bass
    Theo Giotti "Atc De Giotto": drums

    Links

    Facebook | BandCamp | Instagram


    Thanks to Shake Promotion for all of the details.


    MOULD - Pull & Repulsion (Album Review)

    Release Date: May 17th 2024. Record Label: PolderRecords. Formats: CD/DD/Vinyl

    Pull & Repulsion: Tracklisting

    1.Dust and Venom 06:48

    2.Face the North 07:06

    3.Age of Obsidian 06:47

    4.To Control the Sky 07:36

    5.Verticality 08:11

    6.Abort 04:44


    Band Members


    Jeska Buhmann – Vocals & Guitar

    Mark de Smit – Guitar

    Juriën Quaars – Guitar

    Koen van Soelen – Bass & Vocals

    Rob Dekker – Drums


    Review


    MOULD is a Sludge/Doom Metal band from The Netherlands who play a delightfully hip, down-tuned and droned out style of Sludge with gloomy atmospherics that can be quite Grunge obsessed in places. The band are influenced by the likes of YOB, Pallbearer, Neurosis and Windhand with the lyrics having quite an emotional depth to them. MOULD adds levels of Psychedelic and Sonic based melodies within the heavier Sludgy grooves. 


    The vocals are expertly handled by Jeska and Koen who also play Guitar and Bass respectively. They’re clean based and work superbly well together bringing a first rate LIGHT vs DARK aspect to the whole creative narrative of the album. The majority of the tracks run between seven to eight minutes in length with MOULD showing a charismatic style of Prog Metal and Post-Rock interludes which the band put to great use on the superb opening tracks: Dust And Venom and Face The North.


    There’s an ice-cold nature to the early parts of the album but MOULD soon employ a more robust and uplifting style of SONIC based Doom Metal within the closing stages of Dust And Venom. Second track Face The North has that classic Post-Metal sound that Neurosis perfected anf opened the floodgates for countless other bands to become aligned with. MOULD delve into that area of music with the majority of the album as the pummelling rhythm section and heavy guitars conspire to build an avalanche of subtle Post-Metal textures and Psychedelic Sludge movements with Jeska’s vocals being quite dominant and commanding at the same time. 


    The first two opening tracks allow MOULD to lay down the foundations and rules for the record to move into heavier Psychedelic waters with the LOUDEST and AGGRESSIVE moments yet to come especially on the outstanding tracks of Age Of Obsidian, To Control The Sky and Vertically. Koen’s vocals sets off the album into a more despairing DOOMED and DISTORTED direction with the music taking a similar lead. However, MOULD always find a way to bring an upbeat energy to their music even if it acts as the perfect soundtrack to the end of the world.


    My favourite part of the album is where MOULD strip back the heavy sound and replace it with a more cool sounding Ambient Post-Rock or Post-Doom element which gives the record a certain reflective mood. The instrumental melodies allows Jeska’s vocals to become more warm natured but the heavy Sludge Metal aesthetic isn’t too far behind with MOULD devouring everything in their sight.


    Pull & Repulsion is a stunning album that allows MOULD to surprise you with the different directions the album ultimately takes you upon and leaves you wanting to hear more from this sublime band. This is an emotionally charged album built upon wonderful ideas and intense grooves that allow this record to become an unmissable experience.


    Words by Steve Howe


    Thanks to PolderRecords for the promo.


    Pull & Repulsion is available to buy now on CD/DD/Vinyl via PolderRecords.


    Links


    Official | Facebook | BandCamp | Instagram




    Prog Stoner Rockers Vitskär Süden Premiere New Video For R’lyeh From New Album VESSEL

    Progressive Stoner Rockers Vitskär Süden have just released their excellent new album Vessel today on esteemed Hard Rock Label RIPPLE MUSIC and we're excited to premiere the new video for one of the standout tracks "R’lyeh" which you can watch below:


    The works of H.P. Lovecraft have always bubbled beneath the surface of Vitskär Süden’s music, the band considering themselves to be purveyors of weird fiction and cosmic horror in musical form. Storytelling has been present on all three V.S. albums, whether in a literal or figurative sense, so it seemed only natural to nod to the sunken city where great Cthulhu dwells in one of the band’s tracks.

    “I believe I began singing the city’s name, R’lyeh, as temp vocals when we were working this song out and it just seemed to stick,” says vocalist/bassist Martin Garner. “We’d been building around the track’s main guitar riff for a few years and always been planning to do something with it – we Easter-egged it on our previous record The Faceless King within the spacey section of the song “The Way – Part 1” – and I suppose Lovecraft just chose this moment to make his appearance.”

    In that spirit, the music video for “R’lyeh” features footage from a 2005 silent film version of The Call of Cthluhu directed by Andrew Leman, who co-runs the HP Lovecraft Historical Society based out of Los Angeles. Garner had contacted Leman early in the writing process to ask about the correct pronunciation of the fabled mythical city, but Leman assured him that the city’s name was in the alien tongue of the Great Old Ones and impossible to pronounce via the human vocal apparatus. So there was really no wrong way to pronounce it. That being the case, Garner pronounced it the way it sang best.

    As for the music itself – three members of the band found themselves stranded from longtime drummer Christopher Martin for part of the recording process, and guitarist Julian Goldberger crafted an ARP and drum sequencer part so the rest of the band could begin tracking the elements of “R’lyeh”. The band fell in love with it and it became the heartbeat and foundation of the track.

    “I’d been listening to a ton of Depeche Mode at the time and those sounds were creeping into my periphery,” says Garner. “I’m also a huge fan of John Carpenter’s film music, so I was fully ready to hear what the ARP might sound like turned loose in the dark soundscape of our Vitskär Süden world. Having the ARP in play also allowed me to get up into the midrange with the bassline a bit, since it was holding down the low end. So it really influenced and redefined what was happening sonically in the track.”

    Thanks to Purple Sage PR for all of the info.

    Vessel is available to buy now on CD/DD/Vinyl via Ripple Music


    Urzah - The Scorching Gaze (Album Review)

    Release Date: May 03rd 2024. Record Label: APF Records. Formats: CD/DD/Cassette

    The Scorching Gaze: Tracklisting

    1.I, Empyrean 04:21

    2.Lacrimare (Misery's Shadow) 05:08

    3.Immateria Noir 07:05

    4.(Interlude) 00:51

    5.A Storm Is Ever Approaching 03:40

    6.The Aesthetic 01:45

    7.Of Decay 03:52

    8.Thera I: Sea Of Flames 09:08

    9.Thera II: Embers Of Descent 05:58


    Band Members


    James Brown - Drums

    Ed Fairman - Vocals and guitar

    Les Grodek - Bass

    Tom McElveen - Guitar


    Review


    Sludge/Stoner Metallers Urzah bring a Progressive Metal energy to their blistering debut album The Scorching Gaze which sees the band tread the path dominated by the likes of Mastodon, Baroness and High On Fire. However, Urzah proves they can hold their own with their wicked style of music that combines Groove, Thrash, Psych and Post-Metal soundscapes. The record has some sublime thrash beats and breakdowns that are heard very early on within the album on the excellent opening tracks of Empyrean and Lacrimare (Misery's Shadow).


    There’s a slight Hardcore sound that almost verges into metalcore territory which perhaps comes mostly through Ed’s aggressive vocals which he performs like a seasoned veteran throughout the album. You can hear echoes of bands such as Cave In, Old Man Gloom and even Elder when the band ventures into Psychedelic waters. The soundscapes are vast and quite distant when they appear but they also give The Scorching Gaze a more cinematic sound.


    Urzah have a great way of combining the harsher and violent instrumental sounds with the more charismatic Psychedelic Stoner Metal grooves which meet on the battlefield of intense Groove Metal/Post-Metal dynamics on the sublime tracks of Immateria Noir, A Storm Is Approaching and the brilliantly monolithic two part tracks of Thera I: Sea Of Flames and Thera II: Embers Of Descent.


    You can see why the band has supported and played with the likes of BONGZILLA, OHHMS, Dopelord, Tuskar and Grave Lines. The record oozes class from every level with Urzah proving to be quite a true force of nature with the creative ideas and sounds contained on this album. The Scorching Gaze is one wild and unpredictable ride which will impress you with the multiple different styles of Sludge/Stoner Metal that Urzah have at their disposal.


    This is an album you simply cannot ignore and with the record having superb production values throughout, Urzah have delivered the goods with this release. 


    Outstanding. End Of.


    Words by Steve Howe


    Thanks to Frenchie PR Trail for the promo.


    Hidden will be available to buy now on CD/DD/Cassette via APF Records.


    Links


    Facebook | BandCamp | Instagram | Linktree




    Yellowknife's GNARWHAL Get Ready For A Stoner Sludge "War / Nothing More" With Latest Single Off Upcoming EP “Altered States” Out May 2024

    From the far reaches of the Canadian North in the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife's award-winning (Best New Single at the 2022 Music NWT Awards) Gnarwhal are bringing forth their doomy stoner sludge rock sound to the masses with their forthcoming EP "Altered States" due out on May 24th, 2024.

    Unveiling singles "Tides" and the EP's title tracks over the last few weeks, the quartet is getting ready with their latest peek at the release with "The War/Nothing More", which is actually two songs that the band wrote at completely different times and thought they would work well stitched together.

    Guitarist Benji Straker comments:

    "I wrote The War shortly after we finished recording our first album. At that same time, I was writing music for my Hughes project EP so lyrically and thematically it fit right in line with that. Once I finished it, I actually released it as an acoustic solo version on the EP, Here I Am. The Nothing More demo was written shortly after and musically it was inspired by my classic post-hardcore/punk influences. I think Refused would be the main driver of the rhythm on this track."

    Vocalist Mark Kilbride adds:

    "In Nothing More, I am fond of the lyric: “Shed your skin to make it”. This part relates to putting in the work day in and day out, wanting something so bad you are willing to do anything just to grasp it. Pushing your own boundaries, knowing you put the time and effort into your vision. “Whole again you can’t fake it”: Being authentic. To be whole this character has to believe in this process and be present in his delivery of the songs."

    Listen to "The War / Nothing More" at https://youtu.be/IOTBEVpGFlE

    The band's sophomore record, “Altered States” promises to deliver a diverse and introspective musical journey in which the band artfully navigates the realms of heavy alternative fuzz rock and progressive metal, creating a sound that is uniquely their own.

    "We hope our progression as a band and as songwriters appeals to our fans and listeners. The Altered States EP is a bit darker and maybe heavier than our first one. Conceptually and thematically, the songs on the EP fit together better as a package and we hope this is conducive to a front-to-back experience for listeners." says Srtaker.

    Recommended for fans of Kyuss, Mastodon, and Elder, “Altered States” is due out on May 24, 2024, and available for pre-order at https://gnarwhalband.bandcamp.com

    Previous singles

    Lyric Video - “Altered States” https://youtu.be/yLtXbxLuFrY

    Lyric Video - “Tides” https://youtu.be/ix726UB1FKU

    Track Listing:
    1. Tides (3:37)
    2. The War / Nothing More (6:36)
    3. From Her Hands (3:46)
    4. Altered States (3:19)

    More info: Gnarwhalband.com | Facebook.com/gnarmusic | Instagram.com/gnarwhalsounds

    Thanks to Asher Media for all of the info.




  • Stoner HiVe

    Maragda – Tyrants

     

     

    Maragda – Tyrants
    Spinda Records – 2024
    Rock, Prog, Psych
    Rated: *****

    Their self-titled debut album was released in October 2021 and we were honored to premiere that very first Maragda album. It told the tale of a civilization named Maragda, which sought refuge below the earth after a catastrophe and forgot all about the surface after being there for many years. It told the tale of rebellion against oppression and the search for truth and light. That fight continues in some shape or form on their new album Tyrants. “In the new musical journey, the band immerses listeners in introspective themes ranging from self-imposed limitations to the fight for values, love, hope, and farewells.” Moments of krautrock, garage and space rock are still there to help tell their story, but you can also use the cliff notes and state this is one hell of a powerful prog rock album! Prog rock, with psychedelic touches of course, we wouldn’t want you to think we would forget mentioning that genre. But it’s prog first and prog last. And if you are still as in love with their debut album as I am, you know the Barcelona, Spanish three have this very transportive style, dotted with all kinds of other tidbits. The manner in which Marçal Itarte (bass/vocals), Guilem Tora (guitar/backing vocals) and Xavi Pasqual (drums) color in all their compositions make it easy for you to dream with your eyes open. There are these highly natural, world music, folk and flamenco missives scattered throughout the album, it makes their universe become this living and breathing entity. Immediately, during opening track Tyrants, you can feel the pulse of the album, the heartbeat, the propellent, the energy that is about to burst outwards. And then there are those more scorching and obliterating moments, which other bands usually implore to sear parts of the composition to such a degree it becomes difficult not to drown in all that sound. The Maragda three use that ability in such a way that it makes the song blossom and give it even more color. And instead of drowning, you feel like flying. Just listen to second track Skirmish to have a taste of that feeling. But there are almost forty-five minutes of this wonderful prog rock adventure to experience, and if you hear the delicate opening of Endless turning into that stop motion, riff heavy, darkened rocker you know that the Tyrants album will deliver everything and all to every heavy rock loving fiend. Tyrants is full bodied, exuberant and its complexity easy to enjoy and to get lost in. And I will be losing myself in this for months… Or years… Or the rest of my life…


    (Written by JK)




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    Horseburner - Hidden Bridges

     

     

    Horseburner - Hidden Bridges

    Out June 21st on Blues Funeral Recordings, the new Horseburner album Voice Of Storms. And Hidden Bridges is the new single and video for that wonderful new album! Check it out and be as excited for what these progressive sludge metal motherfuzzers have come up with as I am.




    Horseburner's new album "Voice Of Storms" is an allegorical commentary on the mistreatment of women across history. It’s the story of a girl being sold into child marriage who is imbued with the spirit of ancient Greek hunt goddess Diana, unleashed and wreaking havoc on a society that regards females as objects or currency. Drummer Adam Nohe reflects on their new single "Hidden Bridges": “It turned into a song that everyone in the band loves, I think it’s a universal favorite. Story-wise, we’re looking at our protagonist being led through an interdimensional crossroads where she can see all universes and timelines happening simultaneously. Here she learns of how she came to exist and it sets her on her mission through the rest of the story.”


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    Ruff Majik – I’m gonna be needing a helmet for that…

     

    Ruff Majik – I’m gonna be needing a helmet for that…

    “I once ate a moth as a kid, nearly suffocated. Don’t eat moths.”


    I once learned, ages ago, that a review of a live show should always go up the next day or the day after, at the very latest. And don’t mix it with other stuff. A review is a review and an interview is an interview. An interview should have a news worthy lead and some enticing first lines. And once the internet started to take hold of society, we heard nobody is ever gonna read a long story on the internet. But, well, this IS the internet. I can do whatever I want. And Stoner HiVe is my little old blog, so F those rules! This here, is some weird story, a longform hybrid, chitchat about and with 
    Ruff Majik. Moving through time and place and going all gonzo. Cause sometimes you just have to roll with the punches…

    Just like a band on tour has to roll with the punches. You never know what might happen on the road as you make all those many miles disappear beneath your wheels or feet. Your van might break down. Leaving you stranded. Or you might, inadvertently and unbeknownst to you, have started a cult in some city you have never even set foot in before. Crazies that only ever needed was some speed and well, someone to crown like a king and worship like a God…  

    Struggling to make sure to be able to rock Eindhoven, the Ruff Majik guys were frantically grasping at whatever string they could while recovering from a gig in Ede. But luckily and of course, when they finally got a hold of the honorable Acid King, the band immediately offered to help out and lend the band a backline. Because, when a van breaks down, somewhere, on the road, it’s very difficult nowadays to find an affordable replacement vehicle. Which means, most of the gear was stuck in that van as well… But they made their way to Eindhoven to play the support slot for Acid King in the Effenaar, at the tail end of August 2023. And meet up with old friends from South Africa, who for some weird reason, suddenly all lived in the Netherlands. And those crazy German fans that just follow the band around whenever and wherever they can. Perhaps the start of an even grander cult? 


     

    The sun is out, the weather is fine. It’s the end of August 2023 and that guy leisurely strolling towards me, smoking a cigarette is the frontman of Ruff Majik, Johni Holiday. That relaxed gait seems to disappear as he closes the gap, it seems there is some anxiety in his step and an energy in his movement that takes some time to get a feel for…

    Wait what… August 2023, we’re already in May 2024. And I see Johni through a video call, he’s on the phone and rattling in his lovely South African accent about the new album called Moth Eater which will see the light of the day in October and the new single What A Time To Be A Knife, scheduled to air on June 7th. Ranting about the sorry state of the South African music scene. “Not the bands nah, the promotors, the pub owners, the old guard. They’re the ones holding the cards at the moment. It’s what the song is about or perhaps even the album. Cause we’re trying to smash that. To take over. And luckily the young people are starting to find out about that. Cause before this it was hard to sell tickets for a local gig. There are enough young bands, but not many fans in South Africa are into live music it seems. But we figured out this is also due to the fact that those lazy promoters and venue owners, did the bare minimum and were squeezing the bands. We’re getting involved now and doing it on an honest buck for honest work kind of deal. It’s already starting to make a difference. We can feel it!”

     


    Straight forward, full of energy and a lust to do things right, Johni talks about the scene, the new album and the upcoming tour. They’re hitting Cottbus, Germany on May 16th. That’s today! And trek through entire Europe until their flight back on June 8th or something. But for a moment there, we were back in Eindhoven. “Oh yeah, I met up with those friends from Africa back then in Eindhoven. Thanks for reminding me…”

    Memories. They’re weird. I’m back in August 2023 now, standing outside, at the venue talking with the guys, snippets of the conversation shoot through my brain. Drummer Steven Bosman: “We talked only Afrikaans, South African, last night, and the audience only spoke Dutch. And it sounded like we understood each other. We were all equally drunk at that stage. So that might have made a difference.” Johni Holiday: “But it’s all about the speed. The rhythm. For us it’s even weirder, cause coming out of Germany we probably switched over to talking at their rhythm in our South African language. Completely filled up with weird South African slang. It could have easily stopped making any sense to anyone... And now we stop at totally different points of a sentence…”

     


    Those first three songs that night at the Effenaar felt like a stop and go as well. Johni going a bit too fast, the rest catching up. Almost like he wanted to get it over with. The sound guy still trying to find the right space to occupy. But then it gelled. Johni’s nervous leg starting to calm down, the sound rounding out and Ruff Majik becoming the force it already was on the amazing Elektrik Ram record. That amazing and for me personally best album of 2023, where Johni opens up on everything he went through, but not in a necessarily dark away, but also not by glorifying it. Just laying bare. An album that is still on heavy rotation over here… 

    Back on the phone, where I see this dubious image of myself in the corner, like I was run over by a truck, like I swallowed some bug and nearly suffocated. “But Moth Eater, the new album, is a real band effort. Operating as a tight unit that wrote and recorded the whole album. And on the new single What A Time To Be A Knife we added some extra angry vocals by our mate Reegan du Buisson from Facing The Gallows, the best South African core band. We can’t wait to unleash it all! The last tour was definitely a huge bonding experience. All the crazy shit we experienced, and all those wild adventures. Also the definite feeling of having each other’s back, no matter what. It made Ruff Majik into what you will hear on Moth Eater…”

     

    It was before the Eindhoven show and there was still Dresden in Germany to go afterwards, when we talked about the tour so far. “It’s been wild! Very cool. Had amazing times at amazing places. But some stupid stuff happened as well. See that car over there. That old Audi. That’s our entire tour van at the moment. Everything has to be crammed in that. Because the other van broke down in Germany. We did two twenty-seven hour drives. To get to the next gig in time.” Bosman: “We went from Porto, Portugal to Liechtenstein. That’s over 2000KM.” Johni: “But the day before we went from Frankfurt to Porto. Which is even further. So, two back to back twenty-seven hour drives. Both those drives could have been easier if we left earlier. Both times we did not leave earlier, because we had some space and wanted to enjoy ourselves a bit.” Cowboy Bez: “And who wants to leave the beach in Portugal earlier, right? But we made it. We drove in shifts. It was fun.” Johni: “But the shows have been absolutely crazy. A few big shows. And a few insane crowds. And some weird shit… We actually started a cult.”


    “Yes, this time we really started a cult…” Because of the fact that certain illicit products might have been involved and because some people might get into the trouble over this, let’s redact the names, and make it less obvious, who and what and where. Well, a bit… Cause only three people might actually read this way too long weird story... Right? “Yes, before we only joked around, let’s start a cult. But this time we really started a cult… Without us knowing it… We had never even been to Prague. But yes, some local dealer only listened to Ruff Majik and sold his product with the specific instructions to listen to our All You Need Is Speed song while doing his product. And well, it caught on. So that was our crowd. A bunch of speed freaks that all needed a live fix of the drug we were selling. And they knew all of our lyrics and had their own ideas about what our lyrics mean and were just screaming along at the top of their lungs, and half way through they suddenly came forth with a helmet. Someone in the crowd had gotten the helmet from the All You Need Is Speed video made by a proper blacksmith. And they crowned me with it… And we were all, this is really really weird man…”

     


    The live fix. It’s not just for the junkie crowd. It’s also for the Ruff Majik boys themselves. “Don’t get me wrong. I love making music. Recording and going through all those motions. But the live thing. You know. When you get on stage. Get that feeling, where you disconnect from reality and just have an amazing time.” Bez: “It’s exactly that. Whenever I’ve got a gig for something, my girlfriend knows, before and after, he’s gonna be a difficult man! I love playing live. You get all that energy from the crowd. It’s hard to come down from that.” Bosman: “There’s something about playing live. About the movement, of your body, of letting go, of getting this almost unattainable feeling, that no substance can match. There’s nothing that can come close to that feeling, and that is the ultimate rush of playing live. There is this ‘moment’ where it all turns into one ‘moment’.” Bez: “Even on tour, a longer one like this one. There are always days when the spirit is a bit low, or the ‘fierce’ as we call it. But once we get on stage, then a few seconds in, it’s back up again. And we just look around, everyone’s good? Yes!”

     

    Everyone’s good. Just like most of the reviews were of Elektrik Ram. An album that felt like the next big leap after The Devil’s Cattle. Tårn sounded like the culmination of everything that came before. Very dense, tight and grimy. The Devil’s Cattle opened up everything, all the sounds. And left the gate open for Elektrik Ram to do even more, almost go overboard on snippets, effects, little details and of course for Johni to open up about himself. Turning it into something much more personal and by doing that, making it universal. “Yes, I think so. Weirdly enough. I’ve had conversations afterwards with a bunch of people who listened to the lyrics, where part or all of it, definitely spoke to them. You know. Where they confessed to me, I’ve had the exact same feelings. Or I went through all that as well. Or people that said, I was having a difficult time and the album helped me through some of it. We had definitely not expected as much positive feedback as we received, but we are incredibly thankful. Cause we worked our asses off for this album. I think it has been the hardest we ever worked on an album.”

     

    And that’s when work on Moth Eater started. Back there on that tour. During those insanely long drives. What else is there to talk about right? “I’ve said for the longest time, we should make an album to fuse funk and sludge together so that we can call it FUDGE. Or rename the band FUDGE and forget there already was a band called FUDGE and tell people we play SLUNK music. What’s slunk you ask, well, it’s a mix between sludge and funk.” Are you scared yet for the new album? I am... And I think I might need a helmet for that!

     

    But for those who have lived with the Elektrik Ram album, you know what it’s about. So, how was Johni handling the tour back then? “I’m having a bit of a panic attack right now. If you’ve wondered why I’m moving around this much. It’s not the end of the world. You know, tour life isn’t easy. A lot of stuff happening at the same time. A lot of stuff going haywire. And then the mind just goes, click, goodbye, see you next time. It’s a bit tough. But it hasn’t been like this the entire tour. And I was worried it would have been worse. I was worried I would not even be able to tour anymore. So, things are going pretty well, all things considered. This is still very mild; I’m dancing it out!” “You’re doing great buddy!” “We got you!” “And yes, they have my back, and it’s of course a bit like exposure therapy. To jump into the deep end and find out I can actually do this. And even under some of the more hardcore circumstances that are possible. So the next time, when the tour runs smoothly, things will be perfect! Cause you know, tours tend to run smooth! Haha. And not that this tour hasn’t been amazing!” Cowboy Bez: “Next time will be all limousines, loafers, and Hugh Hefner type of transportation…” Bosman: “The highs have been incredibly high, but the few lows have been pretty low.”

     

    Turns out the highs are numerous and they keep spilling over with energy for certain crowds and tumbling over each other professing their favorite gigs of the tour. It’s endearing and beautiful to see how they try to top each other with all these amazing shows, gigs and experiences they’ve had during this tour. The tour that brings Elektrik Ram but also Devil’s Cattle to the masses. Cause well, when that album was released, that pandemic thing happened. Do you still remember that? Weird memories. “We’ve been filling the setlist with songs from both albums and one or two older ones. But it has been revolving, because some songs are just a bit too hard to play live. Or the mood wasn’t right. Or because we needed to spare my voice. And I still refuse to stop smoking. And we all refuse to sleep properly. But only two shows left now, so we can go full tilt!”

     


    They did, they came, they saw and the raved their asses off; and will do so again as of tonight throughout Europe! First stop Cottbus, Germany. TODAY! And then a whole slew of gigs to win over the rest of humanity for their cult. And judging from the first single What A Time To Be A Knife, the new Moth Eater album, the completion of a trilogy, will surely help as well. “I just wanted to call and let you know what’s happening in the Ruff Majik universe. And well, sort of warn you that you’re on the album… As The Dealer…” Wait? What... ‘Click’ Be warned. Jimi Glass is the bass man. Jimi is the quiet one. And bring a helmet!

     

     


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    Stoner HiVe’s Top 10 Most Listened Artists Last Week…

     

     

    Stoner HiVe’s 
    Top 10 Most Listened Artists Last Week…


    Duel
    Dätcha Mandala
    Bottenhavet
    Whores.
    Djinn
    Nine Moons
    Stonerhead
    Tet
    Bongripper
    Freeways

    It’s Monday again! The Monday after Sonic Whip, still flying high from that festival. Man, what a ride! From the top of my head, amazing shows by Kadavar, Monolord, Minami Deutsch, Stoned Jesus, Delving, Kanaan, Domkraft, COFFIN, Full Earth, Dhidalah, Mojo & The Kitchen Brothers, Kintsugi Empire and many more! And now we’re preparing for an interview on Wednesday… And the Masters Of Reality concert on Thursday. Followed by Ruff Majik and Monkey3 on Sunday. And then a week or two later Freak Valley happens again. It might just be the best month of May ever! But due to all that and what came before we did not have that much time last week to HiVe. But stil, we did write about the Numbers 40 to 26 on the April Doom Charts, in what we like to call a Stoner Hype post. We also jotted down a few words about Nine Moons and Dätcha Mandala. Not sure what we can do this week. But I know for sure we’re doing another awesome Full Album Premiere again! More on that soon! Enjoy yer week and listen to the good stuff!



    Dätcha Mandala – Koda

     

     

    Dätcha Mandala – Koda
    Discos Macarras Records – 2024
    Rock, Hard, Seventies, Blues, Classic, Stoner, Pop
    Rated: ****

    There’s something so bittersweet and wonderful about the slow and steady progress, development and evolution a band can go through. There are listeners that come in at a later state and go back to discover how it all started. There are the ones that started at the very beginning and go with them through every stage. And of course, everyone is entitled to feel whatever they feel about those changes. A few that have difficulty accepting change. Those last music loving crazies will have trouble keeping up with the grandiose Bordeaux, France three called Dätcha Mandala. For on Koda they’ve taken yet another giant leap in progression of their art. Production wise, composition wise and perhaps even more so when it comes to delivering such ear pleasing rock that it’s difficult to come to grips with the fact that this band will not be exploding out of the Heavy Underground. Why not you ask, when it is so catchy? Well, they’ve chosen to do that hardrock thing, that classic rock thing, that blues infused, seventies inspired rocking. And even though you and I will agree that it’s the most honest, pure and lovely form of delivering the riffs and the rock, it is not the kind that will easily go big. Even though Wild Fire could easily have been a big hit by The Black Keys. Om Namah Shivaya, with its swagger, a muddy Black Crowes rocker. Or when you listen to opener She Said and are remembered of so many bands and sounds that it constantly throws you a curveball, earworm and all and you just cannot stop yourself from listening to it. Title track Koda follows, almost going the way of Muse, the track feels even bigger in the sense of gestures and the manner in which it can seize you whole. Prog touched, and with such incredible instrumentation, its another early highlight. But the highlights keep on coming, cause the Koda album keeps on giving. They shapeshift, change color, but keep the overreaching Dätcha Mandala vibe going. Just listen to The Wanderer, which goes big in the way of pop sensibility, turning an eighties turn in the beginning, yet has gravitas and heaviness thanks to the guitar tone, the riffage and the lumbering giant end. Majestically written and composed. We can even forgive them for the bit too cheesy Love Myself, even though the message is admirable, the music feels so light in weight and color when it starts out, that you while listening, you might accidentally take flight. But of course, this kind of sun dappled songs will do exceptionally well during those midday sets on a summer festival, and I would not mind at all hearing it on any or all of them. And on some level they might have found it a bit too sugary as well perhaps? Cause they immediately go more punk, with even a starting belch and a riveting, energetic punch and kick during the following Thousand Pieces. It’s Not Only Rock And Roll, has a weird flow during the refrains, brings you minor Eastern motifs and an absolute brilliant ending, building and delivering and sending you off towards a genuine ballad called Julietta. But Julietta has heart and a raw electricity to it. It’s not a ballad to be taking lightly. End track Homeland brings you full circle, home indeed. And on some level to the Dätcha Mandala you might or might not know. For on many levels it does remind more of the earlier Dätcha Mandala sound, yet it also goes back to the earlier tracks on the album and yet, paradoxically enough also might sound like what the band might turn into on a future album. Heavy footfalls, aired out by guitar licks that take flight and double vocals, both growling and emotive as they have been throughout the album. With Homeland they give us a song to feel completely comfortable with, and a future to look out for. And with Koda as a whole, they have once again drawn us a house to live in and given us enough colors to do endless dances with…


    (Written by JK)




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  • Screaming From the Heavy Underground

    Transonic Science Releases "Psychobulb"

     



    If you're the slightest bit familiar with the underground German stoner rock scene, chances are you've heard of Transonic Science. 

    The moment I heard the band, I was instantly hooked on their sound. It's some of the most infectious, energetic, feel-good stoner rock I've had the pleasure of hearing, and my go-to jam when I need a mood or energy boost. Not only that, but the band's sound and energy is very much their own; when Transonic Science comes through your speakers, you immediately know who you're listening to. This is a band that's been on massively heavy rotation for me since I first heard the Bulldozer Blues EP in 2023. 

    These guys have been making music since 1997, nearing their third decade of cranking out their unique brand of stoner rock, marked by alternatively melodic/gravelly vocals, vibrant riffage, and infusions of psychedelic rock, blues, desert groove, and grunge. The band released two EPs (Sunshine Baby Home in 2000 and Bulldozer Blues in 2020) and one full-length album, Mind Strippin' Sun, in 2003. Transonic Science has also played a plethora of gigs alongside names such as Dozer, Girls Against Boys, and Blackmail. Unfortunately, the band lost co-founder Gerald Kirsch in 2018. Acquiring strength through a tribute concert for their friend and band mate, Transonic Science welcomed bassist Manuel Estrada. 

    By 2020, the band was itching to make a comeback, and comeback they did with their latest LP, Psychobulb, a highly-anticipated album that saw the light of day on May 3, 2024, via Argonauta Records. 

    Now, let's dig into this juggernaut track-by-track: 


    Psychobulb



    1. Fear of God

    This was the first single Transonic Science released from Psychobulb in April 2024. Fear of God was not only a phenomenal choice for a first single, but it's an equally great way to start the album, blasting right out of the gate with Transonic Science's trademark dynamism. Lyrically, Fear of God is about an angel who rebelled and was abandoned by God. After the angel returns to ask for forgiveness, God rejects him, ultimately leading to the angel's suffering. That rather grave situation is skillfully recreated in this track's sound. Fear of God actually starts off in a very groovy way, complete with some upbeat piano. After the first verse, however, the song escalates into crashing instrumentals and vocal wails, during which it's easy to envision the angel being cast out and falling from heaven. Just as quickly, the second verse regains the groove, only to collide with cruel fate again. This is reminiscent of two opposing sides: a clashing together of wills, repeated failures, and consequences. Fear of God ends with guttural, growling vocals (God is pissed, after all), and heavy, formidable guitars, signaling God's rejection and the angel's unfortunate end. The crazy part is, in spite of the seriousness of the situation at hand, this song is incredibly infectious and very immersive due to its light and dark layers. In a word, it feels very powerful. 

    2. Stereo One

    This track starts out with slow, hypnotic bass and tranquil, yet mournful vocals that sing of regret, solitude, and perseverance. Stereo One picks up just before the halfway point with a quick interlude of bright, soaring guitar and confident vocals, before giving way to that dismal vibe again, repeating twice. The song ends on a hopeful note, with some wailing guitar solos and lighter, sunnier riffage. However, based on the lyrics and alternating mood here, it feels like a forced sense of optimism; you might as well keep going because you have nothing else to lose. 


    3. Kain & Abel

    The second single from Psychobulb has a way of lumbering in, low and rumbling, moving into swinging verses and more melodic vocals behind scintillating guitar. However, it just wouldn't be a Transonic Science song if we didn't answer that with gruff, shouting vocals and kick up the heaviness tenfold in the chorus (and I mean that in the best way). This, of course, creates a sound like an argument in tone, a back and forth between reason and rage, light and dark, good and evil. This makes perfect sense because Kain and Abel, like Fear of God, is about opposing sides...polar opposites in this case. According to the band, Kain and Abel acknowledges that good and evil will always be at odds with each other, and is "how they keep each other alive and ensure they...will always exist." This is another passionate performance from both vocals and instrumentals, adeptly conveying the contrast between good and evil with music, words, and voice. And, as always, the song is super catchy in spite of the heaviness of the subject matter. 


    4. Cherokee Smith

    Now this one is a straight-up, feel-good, upbeat stoner rock jam with some hints of surf punk. Quite the ray of sunshine after the stormy conflicts Psychobulb began with. Ergün Aktürk is doing what he does best, delivering a fiery, impassioned performance atop the uplifted, vibrant instrumentals. This song includes a great showcase of guitar work as well. 


    5. Scarscraper

    It appears I spoke too soon. Scarscraper is an incredibly broken-hearted song, carried by trepidatious bass and cautious, sorrowful guitar. Even more than Stereo One, Scarscraper conveys a mental and physical struggle. The difference is that this one has much more dejected feel; the subject is far less content with his situation. 


    6. Wildest Frame

    On Wildest Frame, the mood is lifted with one of the most rollicking tracks on the album, featuring some triumphant, blazing lead guitar. This is classic Transonic Science. 


    7. Dusty

    Dusty's riff and vocals on its verses snake about like a lone serpent on the sunbaked desert, interspersed with wailing lead simulating the blinding sun overhead. In fact, if I could describe the mood of this song in two words, it would be "desert blues". 


    8. Satellite Blues

    Satellite Blues is so delightfully fuzzy, a thick layer of the stuff over a grumbling down below from the bass. Vocal effects are used here, amplifying Aktürk's gravelly tone in the best way. It seems I've spoken too soon again... If Dusty is desert blues, then this is desert blues on steroids - a badass, Mad Max kind of situation, complete with a foot stomping rhythm. Heavy, fuzzy, sandblasted, delicious. 

    9. Jaycoon 

    Jaycoon, overall, is very much a retro rock ballad, unlike anything I've ever heard from Transonic Science before. Like many of the songs on Psychobulb, Jaycoon is layered with the contrast of husky vocals and heavier instrumentals on the choruses. This time, that contrast isn't so great that it implies a conflict or opposing forces; the spirit of the song is maintained with a certain woebegone tone that is ever-present. As the song fades with the same grief-stricken retro rock guitar it entered with, it feels a bit eerie in the best way, ending the album on a haunting note. 



    Final Thoughts

    Let's be completely honest: I knew I was going to love Psychobulb. Transonic Science continues to bring their trademark energy, vocals that can go from melodic to throaty growls at the drop of a hat, and their own brand of stoner rock tinted with psychedelic blues and a hint of grungy goodness. The remarkable thing (and the thing that frankly makes me a bit emotional), is that flame of passion the band has always had is burning just as brightly as it was over 20 years ago, when they released their first full length album. Aging like a fine wine, Transonic Science proves on Psychobulb that they never went anywhere and, in fact, aren't planning on going anywhere anytime soon. While these pillars of the German stoner rock scene are still holding steady, they're not content to stagnate. On Psychobulb, Transonic Science delivers an incredibly impassioned, thoughtful, layered performance that demonstrates that their sound has only continued to grow and develop over the years. I would say job well done, but I feel like that would be the understatement of the century. My primary feeling, to be honest, is one of immense respect for this amazing band. 


    More About Transonic Science


    Transonic Science Is:

    Peter Begerow - Drums
    Markus Bongardt - Guitars
    Ergün Aktürk - Vocals
    Manuel Estrada - Bass


    You can follow Transonic Science/check out their music at the following links:
    Go forth and show Transonic Science some much-deserved love! 




    Best New Releases April 2024

    There really isn't a super elegant way to say it: April absolutely killed it with the new releases. I mean, across the board: stoner, desert, garage, grunge, psychedelic...some traces space as well; it's all here! Needless to say, it was a busy month of keeping up with everything and blogging as time permitted. Of course, when you feel very strongly about an album, it makes the writing process infinitely smoother and more pleasant, and I would have happily written about of all the albums listed below if I could! 

    That said, I hope I can do these awesome albums justice with these little blurbs, and the reviews I did manage to complete will be listed with its corresponding album below. 

    Here is exactly what I submitted to the Doom Charts for April 2024, in ascending order:


    1. Yeast Machine - Sleaze




    Oh, Yeast Machine... My heart still hasn't recovered from this one.

    I'm sure it doesn't come as a huge surprise to most that Yeast Machine's Sleaze landed firmly at #1 for me this month; it certainly wasn't a surprise to me either. What was a surprise is just how it's possible for Yeast Machine to top the sheer beauty, delightfully nostalgic 90s grunge vibes, and raw emotion of their first two EPs, but they did...Oh, did they ever. 

    I could write an essay (or more) about this album, and in fact, I did just that. You can go on a crazy, deep, heart-wrenching, therapeutic deep dive of Sleaze with me here. We'll laugh, we'll cry, unlock some core memories...but most of all, we'll give this gorgeous album the time and spotlight that it deserves. But if you take away only one thing from this post, know this: Yeast Machine outdid themselves in delivering on their promise to give us something "louder, fuzzier wilder. Calm becomes tension and dissolves into sensation." 🖤

    Favorite Track: Garden Wall





    2. Stonerhead - Running High



    Stonerhead delivers a very developed, polished, and refined version of stoner music. Not only that, but they do it while tapping into various styles, including stoner rock, psychedelic rock, progressive rock, doom metal, and stoner metal. Vocals and instrumentals alike deliver a powerful, emotive performance that seamlessly moves from clean and melodic to heavy and riffing to trippy and psychedelic. Running High indubitably proves that stoner music can be incredibly sophisticated with an intricate, thoughtful composition. Stonerhead is a band made up of legitimate musicians whose hard work, creativity, and meticulous attention to detail are palpable throughout this album. 

    Read my full review HERE.

    Favorite Track: Super Mario

    A huge thank you to the band and Broken Music for sharing this amazing album with me!

       



    3. Sunface - Cloud Castles 



    There are so many amazing new albums being released today, but I definitely want to shine a big spotlight on Sunface's highly-anticipated new release, "Cloud Castles". 
    Make no mistake, with its overall maximum chill, dream-like sound, "Cloud Castles" is the atmospheric fuzz-drenched psych rock we know and love from Sunface. However, this album takes on a more airy, diaphanous vibe than the band's previous work. I mean this, of course, in the best possible way. "Cloud Castles" is an unbelievably immersive, sensory experience. It's what the feeling of filling your lungs with crisp, fresh air or jumping carefree and headfirst into a turquoise tropical pool sounds like. These atmospheres form gossamer clouds that float languidly alongside light and breezy vocals. However, it's the almighty riff and a beautiful array of percussion from around the world that provide the tether that keeps these sonic landscapes grounded to the earth, ensuring that they never float away entirely. 

    Favorite Track: Tall Trees




    4. Tet - Tet



    Tet is a heavy psych band from Poland whose debut self-titled EP tends to have a thicker undercurrent of dark, heavy riffage running beneath it than many other bands in the genre. Beautifully garnished with dazzling lead guitar and grounded with prominent bass and pulsing percussion, this album gives psychedelic rock fans the best of both the darkness and the light, never straying too far in either direction. 

    Favorite Track: Dom w cieniu gruszy

     





    5. Spacedrifter - When the Colors Fade



    This four-piece genre chameleon from Sweden certainly pays homage to Homme with their debut full-length album, When the Colors Fade. However, it won't take the listener long to discover that there are a plethora of influences here, including garage, stoner metal, alternative rock, psychedelic rock, grunge, and punk. With these influences to guide them, Spacedrifter's adaptability and ability to play multiple genres shine brightly on their debut, all while providing a bit of a nostalgic 90s feel. 

    Favorite Track: Through the Desert


     




    6. Monolith - Horizon 



    Bremen's doomy retro rock trio Monolith is finding themselves at least waist-deep in psychedelic territory with their new album, Monolith. Previously leaning more on a doom-laden retro rock sound and heavier guitars, the band is lightening things up a bit with their latest release. While keeping their signature captivating vocals, retro sound, and weighty instrumentals, this is interspersed among the lighter, kaleidoscopic vibes of psychedelia. As a relatively new psychedelic rock fan, I greatly appreciate this palpable vein of darkness in a genre that is often very light and atmospheric. 

    Favorite Track: Neptune's Daughter

       



    7. Eleanore - Full Throttle In All Directions



    Full Throttle In All Directions
     reveals a more sophisticated, well-rounded sound that clearly demonstrates the band's ability to play more than garage rock. I think it's safe to say that Eleanore is putting the final touches on that "wall of sound" that they strive for, adding a massive amount of dimension on this album, honing their craft while developing new skills. This is a band with a ton of ambition and a willingness to always expand their repertoire, and that's palpable on Full Throttle In All Directions. Furthermore, they always manage to keep things very down to earth with their approachable lyrics and by incorporating elements of the music many of us grew up on. That being said, listening to Full Throttle In All Directions feels like catching up with an old friend you haven't seen in a while. There are many things that are familiar, some things that are new to you, but that fundamental core that established the friendship will always be there. 


    Read my full review HERE.

    Favorite Track: One For The Road

    A big thank you to the band for sharing this one with me and for their continued support of the heavy underground scene as a whole!

       



    8. Cactusfizz - The Ruins



    In spite of the brevity of The Ruins, Cactusfizz adeptly manages to provide us with a complete thought; four full songs that progress very naturally. These songs not only leave one marveling at the musicianship present throughout the album, but they certainly inspire a bit of thoughtful contemplation as well. Happening upon The Ruins was the most pleasant surprise for me, providing a digestible but quality sampling of heavy psychedelia with a garage rock flair. I would recommend this album to any fan of psychedelic rock, but I think it makes an especially good album for fans who are just starting to get into the genre or those who don't have the attention span for those 10+ minute psych rock tracks (I'm guilty of that, myself!)

    Read my full review HERE.

    Favorite Track: No Life Found





    9. The Cosmic Dead - Infinite Peaks



    Infinite Peaks is the highly-anticipated ninth full-length album from Scotland's psychedelic space cadets The Cosmic Dead. Bringing together sonic portraits of both the barren, windswept dunes and the vast, daunting beauty of the cosmos, The Cosmic Dead has created something truly awe-inspiring. 

    Favorite Track: Space Mountain - Part I: Desert Djilo







    10. No Man's Valley - Chrononaut Cocktailbar/Flight of the Sloths



    Chrononaut Cocktailbar contains songs that have a very retro feel; bluesy, sexy, loungey, and post-punky, with a bit of a rockabilly/alternative rock flair. It certainly has a dark feel, but in a very intriguing, and often, a very relatable way. Best of all, said darkness is delivered in a really fun manner with the incredibly infectious instrumentals and smooth, clean vocals. 

    Then, of course, you have the other side of the coin: Flight of the Sloths: a fifteen minute meditative psychedelic rock jam that is both structured and improvisational in style. Accompanied by a beautiful, immersive, calming AI video, this combination is downright theraputic to watch.

       

    Even though these sides of the album are polar opposites, it's quite easy to see how they fit together once you listen to everything in its entirety. If Chrononaut Cocktailbar explores darkness head on, particularly the darkness of the human experience, then Flight of the Sloths is the healing; the proverbial therapist you'll need after all of that other stuff. You can certainly see how this material was written during the pandemic; a bleak time that made the world reexamine how we treat ourselves and each other, shining a much-needed light on mental health and self-care. As silly as it may sound to legitimately recommend a song as a therapeutic tool, I feel that I can safely do just that with Flight of the Sloths, especially in the realms of mindfulness, meditation, and self-reflection. And seriously, major props to No Man's Valley for creating such a thing. 

    Read my full review HERE

    Favorite Track: Orange Juice






    11. Kintsugi Empire - Shun



    Kintsugi Empire is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Pieter Holkenborg from the Netherlands. The album is (delightfully) both a smooth and pleasant and jarring and thought-provoking listen. Incorporating elements of post punk, indie rock, alternative, and experimental rock, Shun lyrically serves as an expression of solace and empathy for those on the fringes of society. 

    Favorite Track: Into Nothing



    12. Kolonel Djafaar - Getaway 



    I'm back at it again with my jazz! This month, it's jazz in a more prominent form, but still a jazz fusion nonetheless. 

    Belgium's noteworthy brass ensemble, Kolonel Djajaar, is back with their second album, Getaway. Here, they combine Afrobeat, Ethio jazz (eerie undertones of traditional Ethiopian music combined with the soulful tones of its more familiar counterpart), and psychedelic rock. The Afro beat and Ethio jazz elements make this an incredibly unique jazz fusion. The jazz elements together with psychedelic rock's uncanny ability to paint sonic imagery allow the listener to easily conjure views of urban life in the not-too-distant past, with an undercurrent of apprehension. 

    Favorite Track: Urban Dweller 



    That was quite a month! It may take me a while to recover from this one, and to listen to all of this music. While I'm busy doing that, don't forget to show your favorite underground bands some much deserved love! Follow, share, and support them at gigs and on Bandcamp whenever possible! 


    Juke Cove - "Tempest"

     


    Juke Cove is a trio from Leipzig who very aptly describe their sound as "trippy jammin' meets groovy riffs, punk energy, and doomy heaviness." Before we get into all that, first you must know that these guys aren't just messing around; Juke Cove's members come together with a notable amount of experience in heavy music. Maxim (drums), has a background in jazz drumming and has played in punk and surf rock bands as well. Dima (bass) has played in several Russian rock bands, including the established psych rock band The Grand Astoria. Mateusz (vocals, guitar), has played in hardcore and rapcore bands, and currently plays drums in Insekt, a hardcore punk band from Leipzig. 

    Juke Cove formed in 2018 and released their first album, s/t, the following year. This was followed by their second album, Remedy, in 2021 through Interstellar Smoke Records (a label we all know and love around here). Remedy made its way to the #23 spot on the May 2021 Doom Charts

    Since then, the band has stayed incredibly busy, playing a massive amount of gigs in Germany (supporting some big names and some of my personal faves including King Buffalo, Rotor, Weedpecker, Valley of the Sun, Mars Red Sky, and Dopelord), as well as completing two short tours in Poland. Juke Cove began recording their third album, Tempest, in early 2023 and is gearing up to release this kraken to the word on May 3, 2024, again via Interstellar Smoke Records. 

    So, without further ado, let's get into Tempest track-by-track:



    Tempest



    Tempest contains 8 tracks:

    1. The Path

    The Path starts with low rumbling instrumentals, like a behemoth creature stomping around. Bright psychedelic guitar joins in while that rumble continues in the background. Booming drums and crawling bass give the feel of thunder and an impending storm. Vocals here are a half spoken/half sung medley of a melodic chant and a guttural demonic growl. This song unquestionably provides a sense of impending doom, or maybe even a quest to outrun something. This anticipatory vibe builds into some epic guitar work that rounds out the last half of the song. 


    2. Hypnosis

    This track has more of a stoner sound to it. A wicked bass line snakes about throughout the song while vocals that begin as an echoing chant seamlessly merge into melodic punk. Hypnosis is aptly named; that bass line alone is incredibly mesmeric, especially when combined with the stoner riffage and some lighter, spacier sound peppered throughout. This song is a lovely commingling of the heavy and the light, and is definitely one that you'll get lost in. 

    3. Wait

    Wait is a song that gorgeously ebbs and flows, beginning with bright lead guitar over thumping bass, crashing percussion, and melancholic vocals, creating a sense of cautious optimism in the midst of trepidation. Just past the halfway point, however, building energy from the vocals and instrumentals culminate in heavy, rumbling confidence. 

    Check out this cool visualizer for Glow: 



    4. Confined

    This one starts with punky vocals over burly stoner riffs, evoking a sense of being trapped or shouting to be heard over chaos. An abrupt tempo change gives way to some bluesy guitar and the now melodic vocals have a melancholic tint; almost like resigning oneself to the calamity heard earlier. Some killer lead guitar solos follow, leading into a fast-paced heavy alternative rock ending to the song. This gives the notion that while the chaos will always be there, you'll eventually find your own niche within it (willingly or otherwise).

    According to the band, this song has to do with the "diverse feelings of living and working in the digital age" (Ah, so I wasn't far off!) Certainly something the vast majority of us can identify with. 

    5. Tempest

    Tempest begins with another spellbinding spotlight on the bass. Thunderous drum rolls and scintillating cymbal over the lumbering bass again paint a stormy sonic landscape. Heavy metal guitar enters, hushed but menacing as the song swells into a delightfully turbulent, faced-paced jam; Juke Cove's signature brand of metal/hardcore. The momentum continues until the song ends, fading out like a storm disappearing over the horizon. Tempest is yet another appropriately named song that brilliantly highlights some of the things Juke Cove does best: those bass lines, the hardcore-influenced sound, and the turbulent crescendos.

       

    6. Glow

    Glow was the first track I ever heard from Juke Cove, and the one that got me insanely curious about the band. This is because, within a single track, the band effortlessly manages to play at least three separate genres of music. The song starts off fast and furious with almost thrashy instrumentals and some hardcore punk-esque vocals. Before you can catch your breath, Glow flawlessly transitions into melodic doom, vocals included. At this point, the lead guitar slowly brightens this trudging cadence into a psychedelic groove that's to die for. 

    Furthermore, when I learned that Glow's lyrical meaning has to do with developing a sense of optimism in the very conflicted, warming planet we live on, it makes perfect sense. This happens in stages: anger, sadness/hopelessness, and finally, acceptance, expertly mirrored by the style change-ups in the song. 

    Here's an awesome live version of Glow from Juke Cove's YouTube channel:


    7. Burst

    A short, two and a half minute number, Burst begins in a way that makes you think it's going to be more of an upbeat, bluesy, proto-metal song, but the vocals are heavily punky throughout. Who knew punk could be so groovy? It works! 

    8. Xanadu

    Xanadu delivers thick, viscous hard rock to start. While it surrounds you with its sludgy stickiness, it's still incredibly easy to coast along on the riff. This abruptly morphs into some very classic-sounding punk vocals and instrumentals. You'll find yourself sing/shouting along; this portion of the song is insanely energetic and infectious. As quickly as that happened, we switch gears again to the polar opposite: ethereal, atmospheric psychedelic rock. Only Juke Cove can metamorphosize from angsty, high-octane punk to such a placid, dreamlike mood so quickly. The song ends on this note, accompanied by some more great lead guitar solos. 



    Final Thoughts

    Wow! That was a killer ride! 

    First off, the energy on Tempest is absolutely off the charts. In fact, this album was perfectly named...Its sound, like a storm, has different kinds of energy sweeping through at different paces. There might be rolling thunder to start (doom), lightning (punk), driving rain (stoner/metal), and glimmers of returning sunlight as the storm passes (psychedelic rock). As no two storms are alike, nor are any two songs on Tempest

    The album also delves into thought-provoking subject matter. According to the band, Tempest's lyrics focus on "themes of fate/fatelessness and action/inaction". Just how large of a role does fate play in our lives, if it's even real at all? And, if it is real, how much of it do we actually have control over? 

    It goes without saying that the most distinguishable aspect of Tempest and Juke Cove in general is the band's unparalleled ability to play multiple genres of music. Not just multiple genres across a whole album, but usually at least three genres within a single song. My favorite thing about this, however, is how seamlessly Juke Cove makes these transitions. It's done so smoothly and in a way that befits the mood of the song so well that it takes you a moment to notice the switch. Combined with the vocals and lyrics, these style change-ups work together beautifully to create a state of mind and send a powerful message about the human condition and the world we live in. 



    More About Juke Cove

    Juke Cove Is:

    Mateusz - Guitar, Vocals
    Dima - Bass, Vocals
    Maxim - Drums

    You can support Juke Cove by purchasing and streaming their music on Bandcamp and Spotify, and by following them on InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

    Be sure to check out Tempest when it releases on Friday, May 3 via Interstellar Smoke Records! 

    A massive thank you to Juke Cove for sharing your awesome music with me! 



    Yeast Machine - "SLEAZE"

     


    I've been waiting for this one. 

    Tübingen's grungy stoner rockers Yeast Machine, with their uncanny ability to steal my heart, announced at the end of last year that they were working on new music. This came mere months after I came across the band in the fall of 2023, following the release of their gorgeous EP Rise of the Yeast, and fell head over heels for the band's authentic grunge sound and heart-wrenching lyrics. With that being said, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Rise of the Yeast landed securely in the #2 spot on my Top 25 Underground Releases of 2023 list. Since then, I've been closely following the updates from Yeast Machine leading up to their new album, SLEAZE, (released on April 19, 2024), their first full length album upon signing with the awesome Tonzonen Records. 

    First, Yeast Machine released a series of teaser videos for the first single from SLEAZE, called Rip It Off, emphasizing the "ripping off" of a literal and metaphorical plaster. This little tidbit was enough to clue me in that this song, in typical Yeast Machine fashion, was going to cut deep emotionally. What REALLY got me was the following text from an Instagram post the band made shortly before officially releasing the single:

    "Imagine, you're sitting in a weird old uncomfortable armchair, thinking about the last years, realizing that your little music project which started with one creaking guitar on a balcony, has become a real band with concerts, traveling, merch, smaller and bigger stages and people who are actually listening to the made-up stuff you wrote. 

    Imagine, you're sitting in a weird old uncomfortable armchair, thinking of the next couple of weeks and months and the first album you're throwing into the world, hoping for some people to enjoy it. 

    Imagine, you're on the brink of a new stage of life and the one you're in right now feels like an old, dirty plaster and you just want to...

    Rip it off." 



    Isn't it funny how armchairs, particularly the weird and uncomfortable ones, have a way of searing themselves into our core memories?

    Can you imagine? Something that started as little more than a past time or pipe dream, but also something that you poured your heart and soul into, not only taking shape but taking off? At first, it's your bandmates, then a handful of people at gigs, then more and more people all over the world, who, in their hearts and minds, can intensely identify with what you're doing. The words you write and sing, the way you sing them, the music you play, the mood it creates, and the memories it unlocks have a unifying and healing effect on people you never would have met otherwise. How beautiful, how mind-bogglingly amazing is that? Well, it gives me an immense amount of pride and sheer joy to announce that the members of Yeast Machine find themselves in just such a predicament. People are noticing, and, more than anything, people are feeling what they're doing. If that's not the ultimate life accomplishment, I'm not sure what is. Rest assured, SLEAZE is packed full of moments that each and every listener can identify with in a big way. They're not always easy to digest (keep some tissues and a cozy chair for contemplation handy), but they're always immensely therapeutic. 

    I have to admit, I wasn't sure that Yeast Machine would be able to churn out an album that was emotionally on par with their previous EPs Behind The Dead End (2021) and Rise of the Yeast (2023), but they did. In fact, they actually went above and beyond the call of duty and somehow made an album that is essentially emotional catharsis in music form, while being (as the band promised) "louder, fuzzier wilder. Calm becomes tension and dissolves into sensation."

    Ladies and Gentleman, I'm beyond honored to present to you SLEAZE by Yeast Machine, track-by-track. I only hope that I can even begin to do this album justice. 



    SLEAZE


    SLEAZE contains nine tracks:

    1. Intro

    The intro is an eerie, haunting performance, a bit of a cautionary tale:

    "The train arrives
    Hold your breath
    To escape
    Your little death

    The evening came
    Unexpectedly 
    The hour demands 
    The usual fee"

    Definitely not the style I envision when I think of Yeast Machine, but I mean that in a good way! This is a very interesting way to start an album, as it leaves you with no idea of what to expect, thereby psyching you up and hooking your attention.

    2. Universal Avatar

    Universal Avatar begins with a glorious electric buzz from the guitars, booming drums, and driving, heavy bass. This song already feels heavier than Yeast Machine's previous work, leaning more into heavy stoner/desert and darker alternative rock territory, the low rumble from the instrumentals rattling your insides. The vocals here are confident, almost smug. This fits in seamlessly with the lyrics, which seem to delve into narcissism: 

    "Kick in the door
    Spread like kudzu
    The room is full
    The room is overfilled with you

    Do what you want to 
    Do what you are
    Universal Avatar

    And oh
    I come along in every shape
    Show me love or
    I'll dissolve in space"


    3. Banshee

    This track begins with a chugging fast pace, heavy on the hi-hat, building anticipation. There are many starts and stops that culminate in howls (Banshee wails?) from the vocals. Just past the halfway point, Banshee slows down considerably, causing you to stop rocking out long enough to realize you're actually listening to a rather evocative narrative. This song is more progressive in nature, effectively telling a story with constantly evolving vocals, instrumentals, and pacing...it almost gives a musical theater feel. This is another style I wasn't expecting from Yeast Machine, but it's a very pleasant surprise that shows off their skills when it comes to sophisticated composition in particular. 

    "And the story unfolds
    By the eternal stones
    Of the dead and the cold
    Where the children hide
    Cause they made friends with the ghost
    And they are calling her name"

    4. Garden Wall

    Here we go... Garden Wall, guys. Can you tell from the wall of text below that I have feelings about this one?

    I remember when I got the news that this single was out, I was in my kitchen making a cup of coffee when I decided to give it a listen. Bad idea. Make sure you have a soft place to fall, emotionally and perhaps physically as well, before listening to Garden Wall. Let's just say by the midway point of the song, having managed to stumble to a chair, I was just sitting there with my head in my hands saying, "Wow...oh wow," over and over. 

    This haunting, heavy ballad, as the title suggests, focuses on what beauty lies behind a self-constructed wall. In my mind, a "wall" can be many things, physical or mental, that are preventing you from reaching your full potential. We put walls up as defense mechanisms, as a way to keep ourselves safe, but they often end up doing much more harm than good. Primarily, it becomes easier to remain placated, albeit stagnant, behind what a wall of lies... It's something that tells you you're not good enough, and you'll never be able to climb over it. However, if you're lucky, a crack will appear and clue you in to the "Shangri-La" that might be on the other side. Surmounting the wall is terrifying, and you may lose your footing a few times along the way, but it's always worth the climb. 

    Vocal and instrumental building is utilized brilliantly on Garden Wall (and on SLEAZE as whole, I'm beginning to notice), remaining rather melancholy and doubtful in the beginning, picking up slightly in the first chorus as the initial glimmers of hope are realized, growing angry, then confident and powerful, culminating in some soul-crushing screams at the end. Those screams, quite frankly, were an audible representation of the emotions building up inside me as I listened, and were released at the perfect time in the song. That energy, the good and the bad, just had to be purged. I don't think I have to tell you that, based upon my physical response alone, I can massively identify with this powerful, touching song. However, it's that identification, combined with the way the vocals and instrumentals rise and fall in line with physical response of the listener, that makes Garden Wall so potently relatable, it's almost eerie.  

    Yeast Machine made an incredible short/film music video for Garden Wall. This video really helps the listener to fully envision the meaning behind the song. I also applaud the creative choice of using the childlike, masked characters and whimsical imagery. For me, it's a great physical representation of the time in our lives when many walls and insecurities are formed: childhood. And, in my mind, the masks are representative of self-deception. 

    "Your wall has been a liar
    People told you about the wires 
    But you don't listen anymore cause you hear the whisper's call
    And the crackling of the fire 
    Your garden grows 
    Behind the wall
    The words shine bright
    You could have it all" ❤


    5. 1st of July

    A lovely, acoustic song with gentle, mournful vocals. This song picks up a bit at the end and leaves us with some beautiful vocalizations, ending very abruptly. Of course, this only adds to 1st of July's haunting effect, leaving you on the edge of your seat.

    "I tend to be
    In a pretender's body
    I feel light
    When you shine on me" ❤


    6. Brittle Pillars

    Brittle Pillars begins with thumping bass and percussion that brilliantly commence and maintain the momentum of the song. The guitars join in to brighten things up and totally rock out. The tone of the vocals, a bit more grave for the most part, tend to reel you back in and remind you that there's a tale being recounted here. In this case, it involves a plea for help from a long-lost sibling. There's a spoken word part in the middle that escalates in intensity, frantically building into the second part of the song, and peaking in a huge way. 
    The last two minutes of the song utterly blast in with some gorgeous, ultra heavy, grunge/alternative-tinted guitar work and melodic yet powerful vocals that threaten to blow you away. However, you hang on tight, and they totally surround you as you get blissfully lost in the melody. These two minutes, in fact, were so lovely yet so intense, they made me a bit emotional, creating some kind of feeling for me that I can't quite identify..."marvel" and "enchantment" are the first words that come to mind. In fact, the story within this song and its imagery could easily be another theater piece. Brittle Pillars holds rank as my second favorite song on SLEAZE, second to Garden Wall, of course.

    "Days open like a flower bed in Spring
    Blossoms falling off my heavy wings
    I catch your breath and you try to catch mine
    Two lost birds fly perfectly in line" ❤


    7. Circling Bird

    This one has an even more charged opening than Universal Avatar, more upbeat and downright danceable (I have no shame in admitting I took a short dance break here). Among the bright, high-voltage hum from the guitars, there are some spots of low reverberation. Vocals alternate between a no frills, post-punky croon and powerful, rock n' roll screams. Circling Bird proves that stoner/grunge/rock can intermingle with a lively, dance-worthy rhythm that not only compels you to move but is sure to be a song that you find yourself singing at the top of your lungs. 


    "The final drop 
    Time to divide
    To be the prey
    Or Vogel sein

    But in the end
    It's all the same
    And my wings
    Go up in flames

    Above our heads 
    Engraved our names
    Above our heads
    Our rotten graves"

    8. Rip It Off 

    Here we go! Rip it Off was the first single Yeast Machine released from SLEAZE, and, as touched upon earlier, implores the listener to rip of the figurative plasters that are holding them back. 
    Rip it Off starts off with a bang, making you wonder if we're in for another groovy number. As it turns out, while there's undoubtedly a tidal wave of stoner groove here, this song is ultimately one of Yeast Machine's trademark heart-wrenchers. Instrumentals alternate between delicate guitar and (primarily) fiery riffage, while passionate vocals relay sage advice:

    "You gotta rip it off 
    Send rivers down your arm
    You gotta rip it off 
    It won't do you any harm

    Through the rabbit hole
    A new chapter has begun
    You gotta rip it off
    Said the mother to her son

    ...

    You'll walk another line which I haven't 
    drawn
    And you'll walk alone, my love
    You gotta rip it off..."

    I've listened to this song many times since its release, but when I listened to it in conjunction with the rest of the songs on SLEAZE, it became even clearer to me that the message Rip It Off conveys is the very spirit of the album as a whole. More on that in a minute. 

    9. I Can See 

    I Can See is another acoustic song that begins in a very muted and placid manner, the guitar having a bit of Middle Eastern/Desert flair. Vocals grow increasingly fervent, brightly highlighted against the softened, bare-bones instrumentals. I've always greatly respected the skill of Yeast Machine's vocalist, but hearing it in such a standout way here made me appreciate his talent even more; he has quite a knack for being able to move his voice from gentle and melodic to commanding and resonant at a moment's notice. 

    "My concrete walls 
    Feel safe and warm
    On the other side
    Rages a storm

    When my eyelids fall
    I can see..."


    ❤ = Lyrics that hit me squarely in my feelings 

    Final Thoughts

    First of all, my heart is so happy. Is it weird to say that I'm insanely proud of these guys? I am. I mean, I don't know them personally or anything, but I'm proud as hell. 

    In that same vein, I love seeing good things happen to good people. I was downright giddy when I read that Yeast Machine signed with Tonzonen, literally jumping up and down with happiness when they announced their new album, and all but screaming when they did a gig with Giant Lungs (a band that most of you know is very near and dear to my heart). Now, as Yeast Machine continues to tour in promotion of the album, people's reactions have been massively positive. Following this amazing band's journey as musicians for the past several months has been inspiring. These guys have been working hard, and it shows.

    SLEAZE is still filled with all the reasons we love Yeast Machine: the spot-on 90s-influenced sound, powerful grungy vocals, and instrumentals that masterfully vacillate between soothing, heavy and riffing, melancholy, and downright groovy. And of course, this album is still brimming over with those heartfelt lyrics that have the ability to clench at our hearts and deeply resonate with us. However, much to my amazement, SLEAZE manages to not only give us an even more raw and heartfelt experience, but it builds upon it in several ways. The core of the album seems to be a personal journey of growth; primarily of building confidence and knocking down mental and physical barriers. However, there are also a few instances of the band utilizing storytelling, interspersing lyrical narratives among the more typical "Yeasty" tunes. As mentioned earlier, these narratives are reminiscent of artful, theatrical pieces, keeping in line with the album's primary theme, but in a metaphorical way. The acoustic interludes accentuate this quality as well, serving as palate cleansers of sorts in between acts. 

    Of course, I also can't fail to remind you that Yeast Machine certainly delivered on their promise to give us something weightier with SLEAZE. The band's prior work fit snugly in between grunge and stoner rock. Now, we see Yeast Machine turning it up tenfold and venturing further into the stoner, heavy alternative, psychedelic rock, and occasionally stoner metal territory. Needless to say, this is so cool to hear, and I'm certain that SLEAZE is going to make for a killer live show, especially with those Yeast Machine classics (Time is a Weird Place, Sievings, The One The Sun) folded into the set. The bits and pieces of live gigs that I've seen on video so far are infectiously energetic, so if you have the opportunity to see Yeast Machine live, DO IT!

    Stoner rockers, grunge kids, alt-rock aficionados, human beings: Yeast Machine makes it abundantly clear on SLEAZE that they have all of our backs. Not only does this band continue to pull on our tattered heart strings, but they provide a soundtrack for you to heal to and relate to. With SLEAZE, now more than ever, Yeast Machine also gives us something to rock out to like no one is watching. If this band was holding anything back before, that's all gone now. The proverbial plaster has been ripped off, and Yeast Machine bears their heart, giving us their strongest, most genuine performance yet. SLEAZE is like a raw nerve, an unhealed wound that's been left to fester in a lot of darkness and neglect. The time has come to "rip it off" and talk (scream) about it. The healing will come after. 

    More About Yeast Machine

    You can follow Yeast Machine/listen to their awesome music at the following links:
    The band is currently on tour! Be sure to follow their social media pages for updates and upcoming gigs!


    And finally, a HUGE thank you to Yeast Machine for sharing your amazing music with the world. My life is certainly a little brighter having heard it. Not only are you creative geniuses who know no bounds when it comes to making open and honest music that dives deep into the human experience, but you're incredibly sweet, supportive members of the heavy underground! Rock on! 

    Go forth and show Yeast Machine some much-deserved love! 





    Cactusfizz - "The Ruins"

     


    Admittedly, I can be a bit of an unobservant person, but it seems to me that Copenhagen-based band Cactusfizz just kind of blasted their way into the heavy underground scene out of nowhere. The band really created a buzz in the stoner/doom community when their latest album, The Ruins, was featured by the always awesome Weedian in mid-April. A little digging tells me that Cactusfizz has actually been releasing music since at least October 2022, with their debut EP Dust and Religion. They've also been playing a plethora of live gigs both locally and abroad, including providing support for March 2024 Doom Charts favorite Skraeckoedlan. 

    The Ruins was released on April 3, 2024, a project on which the band collaborated with friends Jye O'Sullivan and Maria Baez. The album contains seven tracks (including an intro, interlude, and outro) and has an almost twenty-two minute runtime, but trust me when I say there is a LOT packed into this relatively short masterpiece. Let's get into it:



    The Ruins




    1. Intro

    2. Tunnel

    The howling winds of the intro lead us into Tunnel, which begins with drums (delightfully heavy on the cymbal) and some psychedelic, desert-tinted guitar. Heavy bass begins to rumble from beneath, creating more dimension. Bubbles of brightness rising up from the cymbals and guitar are the icing on the cake, creating a multi-faceted psychedelic desert trip. Vocals come in at the halfway point, starting off in a smooth, soothing tone, but quickly building and swelling along with the instrumentals in a crescendo that culminates when a heavy amount of fuzz is dropped. Lots of variety in the pacing of this track always leaves you wondering what's coming next. 

    3. The Mould 

    This song takes on a much faster pace and a funky, 70s psychedelic tone. The vocals play a much larger role here, including some spoken word parts interspersed between some melodic singing, creating a feeling of frantic apprehensiveness that keeps the listener on their toes. The overall vibe here is quite trippy, the funk factor and groove remaining constant.  

    4. High Tide

    This is a gorgeously eerie interlude track that features low background male vocalizations with beautiful, haunting, standout female vocals hovering above them. You can't help but think of a siren song. 

    5. A Long Wait

    A Long Wait is an infinitely darker song on which the lyrics focus on some of the bleakest problems in our modern world. Vocals alternate between a half-singing/-half-spoken cadence, melodic and mournful singing, and more spoken word. Instrumentals are likewise more melancholy overall. This one will certainly put you in a contemplative mood. 

    6. No Life Found

    This is a really great follow-up to A Long Wait. Still colored with darkness and uncertainty, No Life Found feels like a natural continuation. The highlight here is the bass guitar that again has a sublime way of rising up from the depths to be the shining star here; you feel it rumbling in your body, immersing you both physically and emotionally in the song. Somber psychedelic rock guitar and cautiously optimistic percussion beautifully complete the mood. 

    7. Kodu (Home)

    On the outro, we hear the howling wind again behind a spoken incantation, bringing the album full circle. 




    Final Thoughts

    In spite of the brevity of The Ruins, Cactusfizz adeptly manages to provide us with a complete thought; four full songs that progress very naturally. These songs not only leave one marveling at the musicianship present throughout the album, but they certainly inspire a bit of thoughtful contemplation as well. Happening upon The Ruins was the most pleasant surprise for me, giving me a digestible but quality sampling of heavy psychedelia with a garage rock flair that I was able to both thoroughly enjoy and mentally process in one afternoon, leading to this article. I would recommend this album to any fan of psychedelic rock, but I think it makes an especially good album for fans who are just starting to get into the genre or those who don't have the attention span for those 10+ minute psych rock tracks (I'm guilty of that, myself!) Above all, hearing what Cactusfizz is capable of on The Ruins has made me very eager to see what the future has in store for this immensely talented band! 

    More About Cactusfizz

    Cactusfizz Is:

    Cesar Quintela - Guitar, Vocals
    Lev Koval - Drums, Backing Vocals
    Julen Ordenana - Bass, Synth, Backing Vocals

    You can listen to/follow Cactusfizz on the following:
    Get out there and show Cactusfizz some much-deserved love!