Saturday, 21 May 2016

LK Ultra's Red Hot Mixtape, May 21st ed.


Side Lava
1). -(16)- - The Absolute Center of a Pitch Black Heart - Relapse Records revealed this week that legendary Los Angeles sludge band 16 will return with a new LP, titled 'Lifespan of a Moth' on July 15. Along with the news came the bandcamp link above featuring the first single. It's an osbtacle course full of fast-moving curve balls. A great song that shows the deft hand of a veteran band at work and an excellent start to any mixtape.

2). MOS GENERATOR - Wicked Willow - Another legendary west coast band, Washington's resident bullshit-less throwback rockers Mos Generator also have a new album in the pipeline called 'Abyssinia' set to invade homes on August 5. The first single, "Wicked Willow" is streaming on Decibel and it's more than worthy of inclusion on any mixtape. The build-ups and (slightly) subdued payoffs here are masterful.

3). CHURCH OF MISERY - Make Them Die Slowly (John George Haigh) - Japan's favorite heavy sons, Church of Misery's latest album, 'And Then There Were None...' has been out since early March, but this song is still reducing my mind to sludge. Great riff from the "Iron Man" like intro, to the awesome chorus, this one's got it all.
"I'll hang you high and drain your blood

Sip on the nectar while your bones reduce to sludge
Submerge your carcass in the drum
Sulfuric acid bath, without a trace you're gone"



4). MERCHANT - Black Vein - I hadn't heard Australia's Merchant until fairly recently. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't this. My feeble mind couldn't have imagined a band so expertly walk the line between extreme metal and what you might consider to be traditional sludge in the Crowbar, Eyehategod vein. "Black Vein" is a real standout track on their new album 'Suzerain' and at 9 minutes, it's one of the shorter ones.


5). BLACK SHAPE OF NEXUS - Sand Mountain - Germany's resident drone/sludge masters Black Shape of Nexus (B-SON)'s new album 'Carrier' was an adrenaline shot to the heart of a band that's been shaping minimalist sonic worlds for a decade and "Sand Mountain" is the standout track, a nervous breakdown of a song with a paranoia-inducing riff. This is the flashpoint where the drive to move minds with droning sounds and minimalist structures and the drive to move bodies with great riffs and punchy rhythms comes together.

Side Magma

6). BLIZARO - Frozen Awakening - Blizaro is my favorite band and they're still the best kept secret in the world of underground heavy. Their second official full-length 'Cornucopia Della Morte' was recorded years ago but got lost in haze of delays and label changes. When their new, self-titled record comes out (hopefully sometime this late spring / early summer) you'll hear how the band has changed their focus so this album is a weird artifact of a weird band. "Frozen Awakening" is arguably the best song on the album, one that finds that perfect marriage between Goblin-esque Italian horror music and Paul Chain-like Italian proto-doom riffs.


7). BLOOD CEREMONY - Lord of Misrule - The title track to Blood Ceremony's fourth album has that signature band sound with a sprinkling of 60's flower power petals. An upstrokey riff and flute combine with a powerful chorus to keep that Wicker Man vibe from their last album going strong. It's a scene of drunken revelry, fated to end in a sobering way.


8). VOKONIS - Olde One - I have to remind myself that Vokonis is a Swedish, not an Italian band. They have that sound. The ostensible title track from Vokonis' first album, 'Olde One Ascending' is doing just that at the Paranoid compound. It's one of those songs where when you're still learning it and it comes up on a playlist, you have to pull your device from your pocket and check who does it and make a mental note. It's the melodic riff that floats over the heavy bassline that does the trick.


9). DOPETHRONE - Host - Dopethrone and Fister put out a FREE split single on bandcamp last week. Dopethrone's side is like a pipe bomb filled with spinning sawblades. Just a killer tune with a great riff and that buzzy tone the band is known and celebrated for. It made for a nice surprise and a solid ramp for the big finish to our mixtape.


10). HEAD OF THE DEMON - Sathanas Trismegistos - Head of the Demon is another of my top 5 favorite bands. Their second album just escaped into our dimension, this is the title track. Sometimes I think they're playing black metal at quarter or even eighth speed, this is one of those times and it's a perfect example of what about this band just clicks for me. A good way to end a mixtape, by throwing you into the abyss.


***

Bonus Cassingle:
A). LOOKING GLASS - Procession
B). LOOKING GLASS - Electric Mistress

Saturday, 9 April 2016

BLACK MOUNTAIN - IV

I haven't listened to Black Mountain in over 10 years, not since their debut, the one with the memorable tune, Druganaut on it. I only listened to the whole album once or twice and I remember being pleasantly surprised by Black Mountain because I didn't like Stephen McBean's other, earlier project Pink Mountaintops. Anyway, here we are years later, I've grown from a young outsider to an angry loner and Black Mountain has gone from a surprisingly cool local band to an internationally known and respected heavy psych / stoner band. I think I got the better end of that deal ...

MOTHERS OF THE SUN - In the meantime however, I've seen the movie Beyond the Black Rainbow which has a brilliant synth soundtrack from Black Mountaineer Jeremy Schmidt, in fact I've got the DVD right here. This album kicks off with a staccato synth over which glides a soulful duet. Three and a half minutes in we get our first riff and it's a good one. The synth and guitars here match the album sleeve art perfectly. The cover reminds of mid-career Pink Floyd, Technical Ecstasy and perhaps some Supertramp or even some Badfinger covers. It's the coup de grace of throwback moods.

FLORIAN SAUCER ATTACK - I'm always biased against Vancouver bands because this is such a hipster town and I don't know about your hipsters, but ours are incredibly snobby and arrogant. I mean, basically they're a bunch of beta-types that manufacture status by being extremely cliquish. Unfortunately most people can't resist the allure of being accepted into an exclusive group. I just say, fuck it, who needs ya? Songs like this just seem so "staged", if you know what I mean. It's hard to believe that a bunch of musicians in today's day and age got together and just jammed out a song like this. It's more 80's than 80's. Would have fit right in to the essential hipster playlist from 10-12 years ago when bands like Le Tigre dominated the underground dance clubs.

DEFECTOR - This one's got somewhat of a True Detective vibe to it. A little gospel-ish in places with a sexy night blues undertone. Not my cup of tea, but sounds a little more natural than the last one. At this point, I can see some of you out there thinking something along the lines of "uh oh, the angry loner's out of control here!" There may be some truth to that.

YOU CAN DREAM - But to be fair, I know this culture, I know where these people come from. They're more concerned with their daily costumes than the inside of their own heads. People who are so pre-occupied don't necessarily have anything to say. Fuck this. It's table flipping time. Angry loner has become raging creep!

... alright, no more ranting about hipsters. I only meant about 80% of that anyway, some of it was just said for effect. You decide which is which! Honestly though, I'm bored by this song. I can't really tell the difference between this and the last. The synthy parts are the real saving grace here. But again, that's me showing bias because I was such an enthusiastic fan of Schmidt's Beyond the Black Rainbow soundtrack. This album is starting to sound closer to the way I remember the first Pink Mountaintops album being. What happened to this band in the last 10 or 11 years?

CONSTELLATIONS - Also, I don't remember this band having a female vocalist. I mean, they might have, I just didn't remember them that way. This is a better song. Just crunchy guitar, drum, bass and cowbell. Unpretentious. This is what the whole album should be. Then the synth comes in, no problem there. Doesn't seem like they're trying to do anything in particular here, just get their groove on, which is what it's supposed to be about. End of, you're supposed to feel what you're creating. Creation isn't a totally intellectual enterprise, some of it is sextremely libidinous. And that's a good thing. Definitely courting a Heart, Loverboy, Streetheart or later-Chilliwack affair on this one. I'm into it.

LINE THEM ALL UP - Here comes the folk rock section of the album. Some cool feels here, the synth gliding in and out always provides an ominous overtone to even the most pastoral tune. Like if the bad guys in The Sound of Music were Terminator robots. If you know me at all, you know I hate slow songs ... but I don't hate this at all. Wait, is that an accordion I hear? Maybe? Not sure. I sat-in once or twice on the local radio show Accordion Noir back when. That was fun and the guy who hosted it was cool as shit. He looks like an uptight guy but isn't at all. Forgot all about that til just now actually.

CEMETERY BREEDING - At this point it's becoming clear to me that I prefer the female vocals. I didn't mention they have a boy/girl singing duo in this band. Very jangly guitar on this one. Some kind of out-of-body XTC vibe here. Not the worst tune on the album, but not really my cup of tea. Schmidt's contributions are definitely the most interesting part of this band ...

(OVER AND OVER) THE CHAIN - ... There's no doubt about it. Even this three minute long mostly droning and monotonous atmospheric ramp up is interesting. Some heavy guitars coming in with a bombastic riff. I want to say the riff is Barbarian Pomp and I mean that in a very good way. Sounds like a lost track from the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack. Kind of a slow song, but this one has won me over. Picking thing up a little bit here slowly ... and a long, slow decay.

CRUCIFY ME - I don't know, call me crazy, call me stupid but I was expecting riffs. That's what happens when you've got ignorance. I've got to admit, I was hoping for 10 Druganauts. I'm this band's worst nightmare. They would roll their eyes at me in an overly theatrical way. But I'm more surprised that the Canadian indie rock scene is still stuck in the days of Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire. I figured that Canadian hipsters united would have moved on by now. I really did. Finally, three minutes in and only a minute and change to go and the song finally starts. Oh there the drums drop out again. Who likes this stuff?

SPACE TO BAKERSFIELD - More slow jamz. Long ways to go yet on this song. Could you imagine seeing this live? Everybody standing around with their arms crossed, some swaying back and forth, some nodding along with their eyes closed, all feeling at one with the universe for brief shining moments of peace. Shudder ...

***

Overall this album is like what if Pink Floyd had recorded Obscured By Clouds later on, like between Wish You Were Here and Animals? But instead of Pink Floyd it's Broken Social Scene or Arcade Fire as the band doing it. I'm sure there's a better way to say that, but I don't care. This album wasn't a complete waste of time, but I know now that I'll never listen to this band again. It's not for me. I think this album might be for people with low-testosterone.

Monday, 14 March 2016

SON OF A WITCH - Thrones in the Sky

Illustrations by Ars Moriendee and Design by Gustavo Rocha.
Alright, it's Sunday night, I'm drunk, feelin' good. This was my one day off this week and now it's time to settle down with a little previously unheard tuneage. What do we got here ... ah, Son of a Witch! South American band. First full-length album. Lotsa long songs, 4 of 5 over 10 minutes. Looks good, perfect for where my head is at. I remember them from a 2012 EP they released. Without going back and replaying it, I remember them as a band with a jammy kind of sound. Not really psychedelic, but expansive. We'll call it breathing room doom. I'm just about ready to roll, let's do this. Press play and awaaaaay we go ...

THRONES IN THE SKY - Nice opening. Good riff, nice pounding crash. This is enormous ... Alright, I'm feelin' good but let's not pass judgment too quickly. Good break down and tight rebuild. Echoey vocals. I'm flyin'. Fuck this is a good track. 7 more minutes to go and we've got a slow jam part. Shades of Iron Man. My mind wanders ... Since Halloween I've been on a #nowanks movement and it's changed my life. I feel better than I have in years, maybe ever. I'm more assertive, more direct. I feel like a man again and more than that, I feel like a human being again. I make direct eye contact and hold it without discomfort. What I'm saying is, I feel strong and I owe it all to quitting wanking. Oh, I think I can put my finger on this tune. With the huge riff and echoey vocals it reminds me of Sons of Otis at their expansive best. Two minutes left. This thing is ending on an anthemic note with the repeated refrain. Excellent opening move. Let's see what we've got next.

ALPHA OMEGA ASTRA - Almost a Radar Love feel to the start of this track. I'm expecting double time on the snare up next. But it spills like oil into a main riff. You don't really see a move like that coming when something's that pausey. Ah, a break down ... and onto the main drag. Nice primary riff. Fuck, I think I'm fully sold on this album. Ho-lee fuck, this is some kick ass shit. Not to downplay Son of a Witch themselves but this one's got a Sons of Otis meets Church of Misery swagger to it. Nicely done. Any fan of the riff would be proud to blast this out their windows. And a sudden tempo shift. I'm in love. Lots of changes in this one. 6 minutes into a 12 minute monster and I'm still engaged. I think we're into a jammy part. Yeah, this week I've been thinking about the two different types of musicians. There's the cool beardo / hipster musician, who I'm worried I don't really get along with all too well and the nerdy, ponytail sporting musician who is more my natural ally. I was thinking about who I'd rather sit down and have a cup of tea with: Robert Plant in his prime or Geddy Lee at the height of Rush's fame ... I got to go with Geddy Lee. No question. You just feel like he wouldn't feel like he has some better place he needs to be and he'd be more into talking about whatever weird shit pops into your head. "Martians: green skinned or red skinned, what makes more sense?" I don't know. I don't know what the fuck I'd talk to either of those two guys about but I can't help but feel talking to Geddy Lee would be more interesting. We've been around the world here with this song and now we're chunking back into the main riff. Two songs in and I'm into it, man.

FAR AWAY FROM DREAMING (Giant Spheres & Humanoids) - Shortest track on the album and it's still almost 9 minutes long. Good start though. Bit of a laidback vibe in a heavy way. Transitioning into a Church of Misery meets classic-era Down mode. Another solid riff. Drifting off into space now ... floating ... and crashing back down. Finally checked out that bar across the street that's been there about two solid years now. I don't know, it's too busy and wild on the weekends. By the way, the bar is used as a regular set or exterior on the show Lucifer, I don't know which cause I've never watched it and probably never will. The bar is called the Union Jack if that rings a bell to anyone who's ever seen it. Whatever. Pretty cool place. I remember when it was a full-on raging dive bar so it's weird it looks the same inside with maybe a slightly improved atmosphere and far fewer winos and junkies. Holy shit, yeah about 6 minutes in and we've definitely hit on some Down vibes with the vocals, if not the music. Not my favorite on the album so far, but another solid tune. At this point I think I'm just spoiled to be honest because this might be the standout tune on any number of albums. Drummer does a good job of keeping things live and moving, but maybe gets out of a good situation a little too early if you know what I mean. He brings the excitement up to a peak but only for a bar, he doesn't let it breathe and flow.

NEW MONSTER - Okay, I'm definitely spoiled. We're a half hour in, just listened to three great tunes, let our minds wander and on pops another cool track and I've got next to nothing to say about it. Another cool riff. Not bad at all. But now I'm wondering if this had been the second track and Alpha Omega Astra had been in fourth spot would I be unimpressed with that one? It's a valid question. You can sometimes have too much of a good thing. At this point I'm thinking about the empties in my apartment and how I should either cash 'em out this week or leave 'em for the bums in the alley, one or the other. And you know something, it's not the band's fault, it's mine. I'm a big spoiled baby of a music fan at this point. This song has got some good rock n roll moves in it. Two and a half minutes in and we come to a nice bridge. This album is stuffed with riffs. Not Master of Reality level perhaps, but these guys don't quit. It's impressive really and it's just hit me how well this album is recorded and mixed. Clean but organic might be the best way to describe it. And that sudden change again. Yeah, this tune is at least on par with the first two. I'm thinking about the next couple film things my buddies and I have to shoot on weekends. I'm excited about what we're doing but nervous that I won't be able to hit my self-imposed deadlines. You'll see what we've been up to soon enough ... I hope! Fucking great tune this is! My buddy Chris Smith and I were talking about the Metallica song Shortest Straw at work this past week and I still haven't listened to it. Got to keep a mental note of that for after Thrones in the Sky. Haven't listened to that tune in a long time. I've had Apetite for Destruction in my head all week thinking about doing Sweet Child O Mine for Karaoke. That one and Bohemian Rhapsody. Those are good karaoke jams. Pretty excited about that. Nice finish to this one.

JUPITER COSMONAUT - Bass only intro right here. Guitar wahs in with slow drums and rattling crash. Drifting off into space again here ... then a gigantic Sabbathian riff, maybe the heaviest one on the record. This is nice. And the main riff takes shape. I think I may have hit on why I got so spoiled by this album: it's consistent. I don't think it's same-y, but just consistent in tone and structure. Instead of letting that huge pendulous doom riff play out, they whipped it into rock n roll shape. It's good stuff though. I'm not bitchin'. Speaking of consistent, the touchstones here are Sons of Otis, Church of Misery, Down and Black Sabbath. And you know what? Even a little Tombstones somehow, their early stuff, not their last two albums which we're a bit more sludgy. 6 minutes in and some brief swampy vibes here. It doesn't last, yet again. I'm a little disappointed, I gotta admit. They kind of slide in and out of swampy and flowing. Oooh, now a little jumpy thing here. This is what I was talking about with the drummer hitting on a good move and playing it out a little bit. Nice to hear, but again, like the glimpse of a ghost out of the corner of an eye, it's gone too soon. Yeah, this tunes all over the map, like it isn't sure what it wants to be. Haven't been to karaoke in over ten years. Looking forward to it. Now just have to make the night happen. I asked the waitress at the Union Jack if they did karaoke cause I thought I could hear it from my building, she said, "the house band's that bad, huh?" I nodded and said, "yup." Though if I wagered a guess, I'd imagine they were more the nerdy musician types. Funny how these things go sometimes. You can't win 'em all. The #nowanks thing is a work in progress. I'm still ironing out the kinks and finding what works for me. I've gone longer without ejaculating than I have since I was 11 years old if that doesn't creep you out too much. It's supposed to not be healthy for you to "hold it in" for too long. At this point I've got it to, you can jerk off once every two weeks. Like I said, it's about finding a balance, but so far, I like the results.

And what's more is I like this album, Thrones in the Sky. Not to sound like any more of a dick than I already have with my wild ravings, but I'm surprised how good this is. I expected a lot more loose jamming and lack of structure. This is a very well put together album. Although, as I eluded to earlier I wonder if the band didn't out-smart themselves in a few places. Don't worry about doing too much all at once, let it breathe. I mean, I understand it's been four years since their humble EP debut on bandcamp and it's true that if anything these songs sound overcooked not undercooked.

Son of a Witch on facebook

GET IT HERE

Sunday, 6 March 2016

SLASHER DAVE - Exorcisms

So, I've had a musical crush on Slasher Dave since he released his album Spookhouse back in 2013. In fact, he was one of the first of the faux horror soundtrack / synthwave artists I discovered. Truthishly, it's entirely inaccurate to call him synthwave at all as he's right up my musical alley located just around the corner from Goblin-avenue and Carpenter lane with little to none of the dance bollocks that characterize much of today's scene. He's a horror soundtrack purist, a metalhead and one hell of a synth artist. His new album Exorcisms was released by Bellyache Records in mid-February. Let's dissect it, shall we?

EXORCISMS - Right off the bat Slasher Dave gets to a nice spooky place. Demented sound. Totally warped. This is exact giallo music. Totally Argento. I get the sense straight away that this is a tone setter for the rest of the album. Different sound from what we've heard on the last two Slasher Dave albums.

INSOMNIA - Cold, wintry tone hear with the bell sounds and dark overtones. Synthwave or Horror Disco or whatever you want to call it is emerging as a popular subgenre of electronic music but it's mostly just dark dance music or even Miami Vice inspired. THIS is what I'm looking for when I dip my stubborn toes into the synthwave waters. No drums of any kind to speak of here, just a frightening or unsettling atmosphere.

DAY DREAMS - Another aspect of this subgenre that I love is picturing the missing film of these soundtracks that never were. The last two songs are all about billowing curtains bathed in light through a darkened room. Shadows move.

TRANCE LIKE STATE - It's been minutes now and we haven't heard bass or snare drums since the opening track. Slasher Dave has really taken his time here to build suspense and hammer home the possession narrative. In a way the music itself is becoming a proxy for the storyline suggested by the title. We'll see if we get delivered from evil by the end of this thing.

STRANGE BEHAVIOR - Creepy piano and a keyboard choir greet us at the front of this composition. This may be my favorite track yet. The thing about Slasher Dave is, he comes from the metal world so he's not approaching things from a spooky-fun dance-off ethic. I think he really gets what horror and the accompanying music is all about. The tragic thing about horror fanatics is that we don't get scared by horror films, we're stuck with spooking our significant others, but the music gets under our skins. Slasher Dave brings that across here better than most, maybe better than anyone I've ever heard do it.

DEVIL'S POSSESSION - Very surrealistic overtones here. Man, there must be some kind of toddler's birthday party going on in my building or the one next to me. As this surrealistic song is playing two girls start high-pitched howling in unison. Weird moment perfectly suited to the music.

THE WINDOW - Here we go. I had a feeling it was coming. The Tubular Bells moment. This is still an interesting song because it's like a what if Goblin had written Tubular Bells. Some fine giallo here especially towards the middle of the song. And wouldn't you know it, this song is called "The Window". Slasher Dave does such a great job of painting a moving picture through music that he pre-suggested that image to me by the second and third tracks in only to deliver the coup de grace here!

CRUCIFIX - One of the few longer songs on the album (nearing 4 minutes) and it's got a real Fulci or I should say Fabio Frizzi feel here with the steady pounding rhythm and choral notes. Sharp piano rides overtop with a haunting melody. This album is turning into a tour de force. A very specific feel that is totally appropriate to the subject matter. Maybe a little on the nose in fact, but that's kind of what you're looking for in something like this. If absolutely everybody was doing it on the other hand, it would be a different story.

DELIVER US FROM EVIL - At 5 and a half minutes this track is nearly twice as long as almost all the others. And as the title suggests we get our first heroic theme of the album. Finally a little relief from all this soul churning evil. This theme represents hope, I assume in the form of a priest. I'm willing to bet this guy fails by the end of it ... spoiler alert! Full disclosure: those darn kids are still making a whole lot of racket outside but not in a spooky way that suits the music anymore, so I think that's undermining my optimism here. Little call back to the opening track here, that haunted, abandoned carnival thing as I assume, the evil spirit fights back. This is more Don't Torture a Duckling than The Beyond, more giallo than pure horror. Actually, those flutey sounds are almost martial in nature which makes me wonder whether or not the heroic character on this track was intended to be a detective, rather than a priest. The hero and evil spirit wrestle for possession.

HEED OUR PRAYERS - Shit just got real dark, son. This is exactly the kind of music you don't want following you into a rain-splashed, steam-soaked, back-lit alley at night. A short track, but another real standout.

THE RITES OF EXORCISM - And now we've come to the darkest moment of all. The moment of truth. The double time melody, pitch shifting bells and Gregoran choir beneath suggest a battle and one that's not going too well. I'm amazed at Slasher Dave's ability to nail it with the stage-setting. Little spoken prayer there as the song dies out.

LEVITATION - Alright, this is cool shit. A dark and epic atmosphere. I was kind of waiting for a fast pace breakout, but we get that stomp going midtempo, which is about double time for this album.

FOREVER'S LULLABY - And a nice serene, peaceful acoustic guitar tune. It appears all is well and all will be well. And a very Goblin-esque la la la chorus. I see the little girl who was possessed lying in bed, tired from her desperate fight, but safe and sound. But I still can't shake the feeling that the parents will leave the room, the door will close behind them and the little girl's head will snap around towards the camera with glowing eyes ... Hey, that's a surprise, that final twist never comes.

And that's that. It says a lot about the current state of storytelling in movies and yes, even in music that when the final twist ending DOESN'T come it's more surprising. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing, I'll let you decide gentle reader, but if you're like me and you likes you the horror music but you don't like the danceable nature of most synthwave music, then you've just found yourself a gem of an album. And that's no twist ending either considering that Slasher Dave's previous two, 'Spookhouse' [2013] and 'Tomb of Horror' [2014] are among my favorites of the genre.

Fans of Goblin, Frizzi and indeed the entire Italian giallo ouevre will also get a great kick out of this one because Slasher Dave really picks up where those composers left off, which is using the synth as a real musical instrument and not as a drone behind a dance beat. Again, if everybody was doing this it might not be all that special, but for the nonce when Slasher Dave releases an album it's a special occasion indeed!

Slasher Dave on facebook

GET IT HERE

Thursday, 25 February 2016

CENTIPEDE - Sarnath

Centipede, a three piece stoner metal band from Helsinki. I hadn't heard of them before this promo was sent to me but according to their bandcamp page they've been EPing for a few years now. Sarnath is their debut album. I didn't know any of this stuff before I pressed play. I like to listen to my albums the way I like to see my movies: knowing as little as possible going in.

DROWN - This is the first single from the album so I've not only heard it, I've been listening to it quite a bit lately. Just a good heavy mid-tempo romper with some nice propulsion. Vocals are more coal than diamond which suits the tone here. Good song.

THE UNSPOKEN - Tempo gets turned up here. Driving tune. Yeah, this one's likely to generate a speeding ticket or two. My ex got two speeding tickets which resulted in her licence getting suspended. The first time was when I put on a Motorhead CD. The second time was when she was alone and the Motorhead CD came on the disc changer. This doesn't sound like Motorhead but it builds up that chugging momentum in a powerful way. Very good tune.

FROSTBITE - More of the same. Nice chugging riff then a slow down for the chorus. Next song will be critical to see if the whole album is samey or not. I'm reserving judgement til then.

ABYSSAL - Downshifting here for a spell. Almost a "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" feel at the front of this one. One of two short, 2+ minute ditties. Sounds like an interlude. Nice change of pace actually. I don't normally dig interludes but this one actually adds to the album overall. Good creeping around an abandoned house vibe to it.

BLACK MEAD - Getting that samey vibe. I mean, they're all good songs, but Centipede doesn't give you any different looks. Which is rare for a Finnish band, they're usually all over the map. This band kind of reminds me of something I reviewed once for Stoner HiVe but I can't remember what it is ... it'll come to me ...

BEACON OF THE PROFANE - Grande, is the band I was thinking of and it was a review for Sludgelord. It's good stuff, but a bit too samey to truly enjoy the album as a whole, cohesive work. As much as I like these songs, you end up feeling like you've just listened to the same song 8 times over so it's unsatisfying. This one was a short, fast number.

MIDWINTER WOLVES - And here we come back down to earth a little with a slow intro ... and then the big straight ahead heavy rock moves. See, this is ironic. I know they don't mean to, but this band is shoving my musical tastes back down my throat. Oh, the verse is a slow down and the chorus whips things back up into midtempo territory. Anyway, I make it quite clear to everybody that knows me that I don't like the slow songs, but I'm finding myself pining away for more songs like this one. More tempo changes or something, anything! I think another part of the problem might be how consistent every instrument sounds in terms of tone. I don't know. I like the songs on the album, but listening to it in one sitting may be redundant. This makes for some excellent mix-tape / playlist fodder. I think you have to take this band piecemeal, but you'll be more than happy to do so.

SARNATH - And now we come to the title track. The big finish. Let's see what you got ... Nice beginning, floor tom and bass gives the intro a cavernous feel here. Yeah. Okay, fuck yeah, this is what I was talking about. The verse kicks in and for the first time in roughly 30 minutes I feel like I'm listening to a whole new song. This is good stuff, arguably the most doomy song on the album, it feels bigger and more fleshed out than the other tunes. The other tunes are a good time but this is the song you settle down with.

So there you have it, a good album, I rank them all as 5-star songs, yet paradoxically it's a 3 star album. Again, until the last track and the brief mid-album interlude, you feel like you've got one song on repeat when the album is taken in all at once. But break it up, spread it out and listen to it one song at a time on playlists or whatever and I guarantee you'll get a longer shelf life out of this thing.

Sarnath will be available March 4, 2016, a little over a week from now.

Centipede on facebook

GET IT HERE

Sunday, 21 February 2016

R.I.P. - In the Wind

Cover artwork by Adam Burke.
Take the Steppenwolf classic "Born to Be Wild", dip it in Motörhead, drape it in Saint Vitus and cast it in the reaper's image and you begin to understand the level of badassery that R.I.P. is wielding.

I used to watch the show Sons of Anarchy; the first couple seasons were great. But the thing that always struck me as odd about the beloved biker drama was the largely acoustic folk soundtrack. I can understand the exciting juxtaposition of hauling ass down the highway with a soft or slow song playing to provide a kind of mental drag to make you feel like you're going even faster than you actually are, but come on.

When I'm watching the show I'm not on a hog and I'm not feeling the wind. The show could have used some sonic thrust to convey that cruisin' with attitude and authority thing the directors seemed to be going for. At the very least pick a better theme song, "2 Wheel Nation" by Acid King would have been a nice start. "Ridin' through this world ..." has been the butt of too many of my jokes over the years to take the music of S.O.A. seriously.

Which is the long way around to say that THIS, 'In the Wind', the debut album from self-styled West Coast Street Doom outfit R.I.P. is what the show's been missing.

There are only a handful of true bikersploitation hard rock bands in the pleasantly crowded underground heavy scene and R.I.P. may be the best of them. The concept is fairly straight-forward: take the tone of classic doom and rocket propel it with stomping drums, throbbing bass, broken beer bottles and police sirens until the hand gripping the accelerator moves forward, slowly but surely and the pavement tears.

Nowhere is this ethic more apparent than on the chugging "Smoke & Lightning" and the galloping "In the Wind Part 2", although picking standouts here is futile. And don't bother comparing this trio to Black Label Society. That's like comparing the real life Angels to Samcro.

In my limited personal biker experience, the older bikers that I know still listen to classic rock and the younger ones listen to rap of whatever's on the radio. This is unacceptable. But you and I can help. Inform your local bikers that R.I.P. exists, commandeer the stereo and dam the amplifiers with West Coast Street Doom! No doubt there will be groans of protest and maybe a hurled bottle or two, but once the wind gets moving through the speakers a calming sense of rightness will settle over the affair. Three songs into 'In the Wind' and you may have just re-established a sense of order in this mad, mad, mad world.

When TV bikers cruise to a folk rock backdrop and their real-world counterparts do their thing to a rap soundtrack, there's just a littler something off with the world. R.I,P. and you and I are here to set things aright, alright?

'In the Wind' will be released on March 18 by Totem Cat Records.

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Thursday, 18 February 2016

LOTHORIAN - Beyond the Astral Mind

I found out about Lothorian through Acid Cosmonaut Records, who released their 'Welldweller' EP almost exactly 3 years ago. I reviewed it. I liked it, I'm not going to say I absolutely loved it, but one thing stood out to me and that was the promise of this band. Their potential was enormous.

It was around that time that a youtube teaser video was circulating for a full-length album called 'Mørke' that never came to fruition. I don't know the full story behind the abortive effort but the band went through some line-up changes and one can only hope, various sexual preference and lifestyle changes along the way. I'd also like to imagine that the band has dealt with heavy personal issues such as balloon addiction and standing trial for "flying a kite whilst not sober" to get to this point.

This is the first we've heard from them since then, and it's also their first full-length album. So, what's is going to be then, eh? Do these Belgian droogies live up to their potential or do they fall like eggy weggs and go splatty wat on the paving?

I decided to share my first impressions of the album, unvarnished, unedited and written "live" as I listened for the first time ...

Witchcunt - Don't know how you can expect to get away with calling a song "Witchcunt" in today's shitty political atmosphere but I like it! Lothorian is already getting on my good side by showing some balls early on. Tone-setting screams and a horrific, evil riff. Nice. This is turning out to be an instrumental and that's alright. The way I remember it, Lothorian's Welldweller EP was split between instrumentals and vocals, one after the other, back and forth. Let's see if the trend continues... This is a fucking killer song, by the way. Very spookhouse atmosphere, like an over the top haunted house from some silly late-80s horror movie.

Blackhand - Starting out strong with some pounding bass drums and floor tom. Ah, there's some vocals. Different from the last time. Actually sung this time, no affectation. That's always a plus in my book.

As the Void Absorbs All Light - Another fast start with the drums. This guy's doing overtime here! I'll have to look up his name. Come to think of it so is the guitar with the almost, but not quite blackened tremelo picking. Bit darker, slower and heavier than black metal picking but in that same ball park. This is a damn good band, man. And, just as I suspected, another instrumental.Three songs in and we're really establishing a cinematic feel. Little more lively than say, Cult of Occult which feels Hammer-ish to me. This feels a little more like Monster Squad, The Burbs or The Gate because of the Draculan riffs and faster tempo drums. And yes, I know I just made up the word Draculan. Just try and stop me! And that word specifically refers to a cape-wearing Dracula.

Eternal Smoke Cloaks the Night - I'm gonna be severely disappointed if there aren't vocals in this song. Not because I don't like Lothorian's instrumentals (I'm starting to prefer them), but because it would shoot gaping holes in my sequencing theory. Right on cue. Little throatier this time than last. Another kick ass song with a solid, doomy riff and interesting drums. It makes such a huge difference when drums don't just sit there but actually do something. When I played drums, I wasn't that great, but I wouldn't just hold a backbeat, in my mind I was playing riffs of my own. I'd add little asides, not just as fills, but consistently so that they became part of the "beat", which was more than a "beat", it was a riff. In my mind anyway. This drummer seems to share a similar philosophy. This guy is awesome, an early candidate for drummer of the year. What's his name? I'm gonna look it up ... Jurgen. Yeah, this guy kicks ass, man. Again, this is a great band. No last names though. Fame is for the weak-minded.

March of Time - Low, slow start. Let's see if my theory gets shot down here. We're into the middle of the album now so if there was a time to change things up, this would be it. 2/3 of the way through and there hasn't been much development here. This is more of a moody interlude than the previous instrumentals. I'm starting to get the impression that the way they write instrumental and vocal songs is different. The instrumentals are more simplistic and monolithic. We'll see about that later ...

Forbanned - This is off to a killer start. Simplistic riff and pounding drums for that Conan / Witchsorrow feel. Two totally different bands but they both do similar moves. Vocals pop in to keep the sequencing streak alive. A streak that extends all the way back to 2013. Longest song on the record here at nearly 9 minutes and it may just hold up as thee standout cut. Also a bit of a Goya vibe. Aha! There's the drop out I was waiting for. No way you sustain that pace for 9 minutes and nowhere to build up from that fast start. They've just said fuck it and changed things up completely. Another killer part here. Fuck man, this record's gonna make my end of the year list ... Another change up and it's got a bit of a drunken swagger to it. And then revved back up to a crazy riff-thing. Damn skippy, that was another great tune.

Solitude - Well, that was the most logical place for the vocals to come in and they didn't. Again, another instrumental with a riff that's a little more caveman-ish than their vocal songs. For the instrumentals, does the guitarist write those at home and then bring them to the band later and the vocal tunes are jammed out and therefore more complicated? Oooh, curveball. There are vocals here after all. Interesting. This is another excellent tune. Just a doomy riff and heavy hitting drums. Whoa, real whirlwind going on here in the bridge. Hurricane winds blowing through this song. Now a real funeral doom / blastbeat tug of war at the end. Disgusting.

Soothsayer - Three songs in a row with vocals. Nice tempo change here in the bridge. And a doomy path leads the way back. Fucking awesome song. Once again the drummer is the real hero here. I may be a little biased as a former drummer, but still. Oh my fuck! Awesome tempo changes here! Alright, every song so far has been awesome, but this one is really getting my goat and sacrificing it to some subterranean fiend. This is it, this is the song I would play for someone who's never heard Lothorian before. Oh, that fucking riff! And they come out of it leaving you wanting more. Now that's what I call a killer fucking tune!

Dance of Death - And we end on the shortest song on the record. I'll be shocked if there's vocals here. Absolutely gobsmacked as my British friends might say. Actually, they'd probably throw the word cunt in there to spice things up because the British are cool that way with their vulgarity. Killer, dare I say iconic doom riff, may be a call back to the intro. I don't know, I'll have to go back and replay it, my memory's not THAT great. I've just been force-fed a table full of amazing doom riffs so you'll have to forgive me.

And it's over. Well, I'm not just satisfied here, I'm positively stuffed. That's a great record and yes, fans of Goya will find a lot to love and salivate over on 'Beyond the Astral Mind'. Like I said, Lothorian prove themselves here to be a great band, not just with the riffs but by keeping things moving, keeping it interesting the whole way throughout. Jurgen is my new hero.

This definitely has the potential to be an end-of-the-year candidate. The only 4-star tune was March of Time, all the rest were 5 star boner-makers. The rest was just one amazing riff after another.

Going back I noticed that "Witchcunt" was a little call-back to the opening song on their first EP, "Witchunt".

The best part is the album is available for #freeload on bandcamp!

GET IT HERE
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