Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Wo Fat - The Black Code (album review)

Thick.  Heavy.  Smokey.  Funky.  Groovy.  Trippy.  All words that apply to The Black Code, yet the sum is so much more.  It's a journey to Mars in a Cadillac the size of Texas.  It's John Lee Hooker with Kyuss on a soundtrack to a sci fi story by EC Comics written by H.P. Lovecraft.

As an opening salvo "Lost Highway" puts it right between the eyes, seemingly boiling down the feel of the rest of the album in one compact shot.  A kind of stripped down, economy model of what's to come.  It's no less a great tune for its economy.  The title track expands on the musical ideas already set forth and "The Black Code" has arrived.  The band finds dense muggy grooves and locks in, chugging along like a juggernaut without being repetitive and finding plenty of room to explore.

"Hurt At Gone" shows some great blues roots, bringing an element into the mix that just always seems to sire classics in stoner music: slide guitar.  Thick ass groove.

"Shard of Leng" takes us off from a sweaty strip of Texas highway into outer space.  The first half of this twelve minute song is a psychedelic jam.  Somehow, it doesn't drag or seem drawn out or lose your attention and by the time the lyrics roll around an important part of the story has already been told.

This is a rare one indeed.  Everything is just perfect.  Even the instrumental jam sections are just right, every note a winner.  Wo Fat has somehow managed to take the ideas and imagery of sci fi, space travel, and the music of ZZ Top and Kyuss and break these elements down to their essence and extracted only what's good.

This album has been available for download on bandcamp for quite some time but the CD will be released on November 13.  A limited edition of 680 vinyl copies in various formats will also be released on November 13.

Highlights include: "Lost Highway" and "Hurt At Gone"

Rating: 5/5

From: Dallas, Texas

Genre: Psychedelic, Stoner, Hard Rock, Blues

Reminds me of: High on Fire, Kyuss, Sleep, ZZ Top

Release Date: November 13, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Waiting in the desert for the mothership to take you away.

More Info

Better Reviews
Heavy Planet
The Obelisk
Cosmic Lava
The Soda Shop
Dr. Doom's Lair

Interview with Dr. Doom here

Doom Charts for 10/31/12

Top 20 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Huckleberry (Ichabod / Dreamscapes from Dead Space)
  2. The Dead Still Ride (From Beyond / The Color Out of Space EP)
  3. Red Admiral, Black Sunrise (Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell / Don't Hear It ... Fear It!)
  4. Streets of Evermore (Lord Fowl / Moon Queen)
  5. Levitation (Down / Down IV)
  6. Grind It (Lord 13 / 2013)
  7. Lose Yourself (Mangoo / Neverland)
  8. The Veil of Isis (The Sword / Apocryphon)
  9. Canyon Man (Corrosion of Conformity / ST (bonus tracks))
  10. Known Depressant (Ice Dragon / split 7" single w/ Fellwoods)
  11. Empire (Beastwars / ST)
  12. Saviour (Bedemon / Symphony of Shadows)
  13. Waiting for Saturn (Bison, Bison / ST)
  14. Goliath (Graveyard / Lights Out)
  15. My Truck (Stoner Train / Hobo from the Outer Space)
  16. An Alternative to Freedom (Witchcraft / Legend)
  17. The Hunt (Grand Magus / The Hunt)
  18. Rising Fire (Von Thundersvolt / Demo)
  19. Prophet (Candlemass / Psalms for the Dead)
  20. An Old Friend (Bison B.C. / Lovelessness)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Mount Fuji - ST (album review)

Amazing what a couple years difference will make.  In the early Aughts I couldn't stomach the way premature 90s grunge revivalists were dumping all over the radio.  Bands like Nickelback, Default, Linkin Park, Puddle of Mudd and Creed sprouted up and were big stars overnight.  These were cookie cutter outfits whose singers generally sounded like they were singing through marbles.  These bands may have been hitmakers but they didn't get the right alchemical mixture to become classics because they forgot to combine the grunge with heavy slabs of genuineness.  Also, as an afterthought, there was no originality there, but who cares about that stuff anyway, right?

Fast forward ten years or so and there's a new early 90s grunge revival.  This time it's a genuine one.  Bands like Mother of God, Soundcrawler, Satellite Beaver and the subject of this review, Mount Fuji, sound genuinely influenced by those great bands of yesteryear, Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees and Soundgarden among the most audible and best sources of inspiration, the riffs, the attitude, the singing all come natural, it's part of their DNA.  These guys grew up on those bands.  Those bands were in the air when these guys were all very young, it's hard not to be influenced by that.  These aren't bands that changed their style to try to jump on a dying trend.  There's a reason Nickelback has become a dirty word.

But Mount Fuji is more than just a 90s re-hash band, there's something else they bring to the table besides genuineness: originality.  "Six Feet Under the Rainbow of Hell" is the most different and interesting composition on an album full of interesting compositions, a spoken word intro leading into a song that is heavy, emotive, doomy and by the end of it, it seems you've been on a journey.  As different as that song is structurally from the others on the album, it is representative of the whole.  A kind of musical fractal.

And make no mistake, these guys sound thick and grungy but are undeniably a metal band, they rock hard.  In "acht" and "Simple Depression Guide" they go to page one of the doom playbook and slow things down, giving the music a claustrophobic gravitas.  Like a lot of great German artists, they're not afraid to experiment, I've said elsewhere that the German psyche is split between the glories of the past and the wonders of the future.  That holds true here as well.

This album is heavy as shit, but they're not afraid to let loose with great emotive choruses and melodies such as in "Just Human" and the end of "Head on Fire".  The singer isn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve either belting a phrase that I've felt for years and is near and dear to my heart: "I'm tired of this shit, fuck you all!" in "Colossus", and some similar sentiments in "Yearning".

Mount Fuji is one of the most honest and genuine albums I've heard all year and is a cathartic and ultimately satisfying experience.

Highlights include: "neun" and "Six Feet Under the Rainbow of Hell"

Rating: 4.5/5

From: Liepzig, Germany

Genre: Doom, Grunge, Sludge, Stoner

Reminds me of: Alice in Chains, Hyne, Mother of God, Satellite Beaver, Soundgarden

Release Date: September 29, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Spending the night in an abandoned insane asylum, then waking up to discover it was never abandoned.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Mamont - Passing Through the Mastery Door (album review)

Mamont presents eight fuzzed-out psychedelic head-swirlers on its debut album, released on Ozium Records.  It's rare to come across a band so aptly named, with just the right album art to match.  The name alone conjures images of a Woolly Mammoth stomping through the tundra, the album artwork tells us that it's actually in the clouds.

Intro "Mammuten" really acheives that woolly mammoth stomp sound with fuzz and toms, a performance on a level with the most muscular, sword-wielding moments from Conan's "Monnos" album.  It sets the tone for the record and is a statement the band revisits throughout, this is the band's signature.  The idea of a fuzzed-out mammoth stomp pervades the songwriting, at times charging head on from beginning to end, at others building serene green fields of melodic psychedelia for them to stomp through and shake things up.

There are mammoth riffs on showcase too (see "Blind Man (Part III)"), that stand among the best of their countrymen peers, but it doesn't do to think of them as another Swedish retro rock band.  They are a psychedelic fuzz band that takes influence from all eras of rock n roll, blending and reshaping them into a sound and a mood all their own.

There's a quietly confident feel to the album that comes from a band having found just the sound they wanted.  The thick, heavy tones are crushing in approach, yet at the same time, almost gentle in their delivery.  A mammoth that could trample all in its wake but chooses to live and let live.  The guitar tone is molasses thick and heavy without being overly aggressive.  That said, this band 's got balls to back it all up, but they're like the big guy who doesn't need to constantly prove himself by going around starting fights all the time.  When things do get heavy though, they take care of business.

The more I listen to the album, and think about it, the more I like it.  This could be one I stick with for quite some time.

Highlights include: "The Secret of the Owl" and "Satans Fasoner"

Rating: 4/5

From: Nykoping, Sweden

Genre: Fuzz Rock, Psychedelic, Stoner, Grunge

Reminds me of: Conan, The Doors, Mother of God, Mudhoney, The Shovell

Release Date: September 28, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Pick a flower with your nose and eat it, man.

Better Reviews
The Obelisk
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Sunday, 28 October 2012

Doom Charts for 10/27/12

Top 20 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Huckleberry (Ichabod / Dreamscapes from Dead Space)
  2. The Dead Still Ride (From Beyond / The Color Out of Space EP)
  3. Tombstone Rider (Vinum Sabbatum / Bacchanale Premiere)
  4. Path of Doom (Venomous Maximus / Beg Upon the Light)
  5. Grind It (Lord 13 / 2013)
  6. Canyon Man (Corrosion of Conformity / ST (bonus tracks))
  7. Child Witness (Lord Vicar / Signs of Osiris)
  8. Saviour (Bedemon / Symphony of Shadows)
  9. Goliath (Graveyard / Lights Out)
  10. Empire (Beastwars / ST)
  11. Levitation (Down / Down IV)
  12. Red Admiral, Black Sunrise (Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell / Don't Hear It ... Fear It!)
  13. My Truck (Stoner Train / Hobo from the Outer Space)
  14. An Alternative to Freedom (Witchcraft / Legend)
  15. Lose Yourself (Mangoo / Neverland)
  16. Streets of Evermore (Lord Fowl / Moon Queen)
  17. Rising Fire (Von Thundersvolt / Demo)
  18. God Lie (Goya / Demo)
  19. Prophet (Candlemass / Psalms for the Dead)
  20. Electric Rattlesnake (Overkill / The Electric Age)

Top 10 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Ichabod - Dreamscapes From Dead Space
  2. Venomous Maximus - Beg Upon the Light
  3. Vinum Sabbatum - Bacchanale Premiere
  4. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Don't Hear It ... Fear It
  5. Down - Down IV, pt. I: The Purple EP
  6. Witchcraft - Legend
  7. Bison B.C. - Lovelessness
  8. Goya - Demo
  9. Mother of God - Anthropos
  10. Kadavar - ST

Saturday, 27 October 2012

RetRotation #1 - Monster Magnet (Mastermind)

Monster Magnet was one of my favorite bands in high school.  The "Dopes to Infinity" album was a revelation to discover ("I talk to planets, baby!"), and "Superjudge" (heard later) cemented them firmly as a great band.  It seemed that no one else was doing what they were doing.  Is it metal or is it rock and roll, or ...?  What is it?  The rockers thought it was too weird, and the metalheads couldn't 'bang to it, so where did Monster Magnet fit in?  With the weirdos of course.

I grabbed up everything of theirs I could find, including the "Tab" EP and even the "Space Lord" single.  The way Dave Wyndorf writes lyrics, it's just one idea after another that at first seems nonsensical but taken as a whole actually makes perfect sense in a stream of consciousness kind of way.  Monster Magnet was mighty fuel indeed for a young impressionable weirdo.

I was the only one in high school who liked them.  Some heard "Space Lord" and were curious but no one fell under their spell like I did.  The "Powertrip" album seemed disappointing at the time, like every song had "Dopes" or "Superjudge" potential but always fell just short somehow.  They opened for Marilyn Manson and all the girls who saw the show said they sucked.  I still tried to defend them, but I'm sure nobody in high school cared about the quality of the music, only the image associated with it (except for the weirdos of course).  I'm sure it's still the same.

Enter the "God Says No" album and I'm at just the wrong age for this record to come out.  Just about to turn twenty at the time, obviously I knew exactly what I wanted to hear and what life was all about and it just seemed that "God Says No" wasn't saying it to me.

Sick to death of the rap/rock bullshite fusion nu metal garbage even the slightest step further in the direction of hip-hop sleazebagging its way into rock music was an unforgivable crime punishable by excommunication.  Rapping wasn't the only problem.  The Nine Inch Nails / Marilyn Manson synthezoid influence was making rock / metal lose its purity.

The actual crime in the case of Monster Magnet's "God Says No" album was its use of programmed drums, the kind of which might have been heard on latter-day Smashing Pumpkins releases or the Fight Club soundtrack.  Drum machines?  Were Monster Magnet going industrial?  How long before Wyndorf starts rapping?  Seemed like a logical progression at the time, Wyndorf was weirdo enough to pull something like that.  I turned my back on one of my favorite bands and didn't listen to them again for another ten years.  Fear Factory and Machinehead met similar fates around the same time.

Some ten or more years pass pretty much uneventfully and as happens to us all, I mellow a bit with age.  Before long the excommunication has been overturned and I find myself remembering exactly why Monster Magnet was one of my favorite all-time bands.  So I ordered the three Monster Magnet albums I missed and the first one that came in the mail was "Mastermind".  It just so happens that the album is now exactly two years old, so what better way to kick off a new feature called RetRotation that will give me a chance to review albums on or near the anniversary of their original release?  These are the first new Monster Magnet sounds to enter my ears in over ten years.

Here`s a track by track rundown of my first impressions:

  1. Hallucination Bomb - I would never expect Monster Magnet to sway too far from what made them a great band in the first place, monolithic riffs, and this is no exception.  Following in the tradition of Boot-In-The-Face Rawk n Roll openers like "Dopes To Infinity" and "Cyclops Revolution", "Hallucination Bomb" kicks down the door and makes itself comfortable.
  2. Bored With Sorcery - Building off the momentum of Hallucination Bomb, Bored With Sorcery is classic Monster Magnet.  Uptempo, weirdo lyrics, throw in some `baby`s and even a rare (albeit quick) guitar solo, this song`s got it all, everything you`d expect from this band.
  3. Dig That Hole - Another classic MM moment.  Slow rocking, memorable chorus, great lyrics "I`m a blue tooth jerkoff on TV, And I ain`t gonna try too hard - I`m gonna win me a contest and break off my piece of the American dream".  Wyndorf has summed up the world I come from.  Entitled, obnoxious douchebags, that`s what the world is made up of today, digging that hole indeed.
  4. Gods and Punks - I know that this was the lead single.  Four songs in and I`m comparing this album to `Dopes to Inifinity`.  Every song has been great so far, typical Monster Magnet, and yet each song introduces a new element.  Really great middle 8 about 2:40 into the song.
  5. The Titan Who Cried Like A Baby - Here`s a song that hearkens back to the aforementioned "God Says No" album with its electronic atmospherics.  This seems more like a showcase for Wyndorf`s stream of consciousness poetry than a real song.  Almost has an interlude feeling, building atmosphere for the next phase of the album.
  6. Mastermind - Picking the tempo up again with the title track and it`s back to what they do best: Rocking.  More staples of the Monster Magnet sound with wailing and distant vocals behind a wall of sound to end the song.
  7. 100 Million Miles - An uptempo, though slow building, punkish rocker.  As always, the song is vocally driven as I hear yet another staple: the vocal effect Wyndorf is fond of using where it sounds like it`s coming off a radio in the background (don`t know what it`s called).  Very psychedelic last half of the song.  If punk music went psychedelic, this is what it would sound like.
  8. Perish in Fire - This song has a different feel to the guitar from any song I`ve heard from this band.  It almost sounds like something from Ministry`s "New World Order" album, with the drums played at quarter speed.  More aggressive and less psychedelic than what I`m used to.  Still, I like it.
  9. Time Machine - "Perish in Fire" ends abruptly with another wall of sound and leads directly into this song, which not just slows things down, it shuts them down abruptly.  Very much a companion to "The Titan Who Cried Like a Baby".  He touches lyrically on something I`ve always dreamed about, going back in time to buy comics.  Yeah, that`s exactly what I`d do with a time machine.
  10. When The Planes Fall From the Sky - The hard rock comes stomping back in and offers a different look.  The most `southern rock` song I`ve heard from the band, Wyndorf also offers more emotive and soulful vocals than he usually does.  Great riffs here.  There are also hints of grunge.  This is a great song.  A gem among gems.
  11. Ghost Story - A more rustic feel to this one with acoustic guitar accompanying the electric.  No matter how the music may vary, he never strays far from his lyrical thematic roots, this song being no exception.  For fans of the band this is one of the best parts.  The line "All the gods in this universe can`t spin you back to me" reminds me of how I used to watch the Silver Surfer cartoon on mute with Monster Magnet spinning in the background.
  12. All Outta Nothing - Classic Monster Magnet, this could be a "Dopes" outtake.  With the variety of material and new (to me anyway, post "God Says No") musical ground on this album, it`s nice to close it out with a good old fashioned straight forward song of what we might expect from the band.  Still, is he talking about himself when he paints a picture of "A burnt out magician, with nothing to say".  I should hope not.  Remember these are first impressions, I`ll have to (gladly) go back and listen again for a fuller understanding.
  13. Watch Me Fade (bonus track) - Of course I sprung for the bonus tracks version of the CD because I didn`t want to leave any Monster Magnet songs on the table.  I want `em all, baby!  This one`s an uptempo rocker.  Not sure why it got bumped down to `bonus track` status.
  14. Fuzz Pig (bonus track) - Not sure again why this is only a `bonus track` because it`s an interesting song.  Somewhat in the vein of "The Titan Who Cried..." and "Time Machine" only more musically interesting.
All in all, a good album.  I like it better than "God Says No".  Full up with all the "yeahs" and "babys" and "whoos" and references to Marvel comics and giant riffs and spaced out stream of consciousness lyrics and all the other trappings one might expect from a Monster Magnet album, makes for a satisfying listening experience.  There are many shades of the past and just as many glimpses of the future, at least the future of from where I left off with the band, ten years behind.  Overall it reminds me of "Powertrip" (which I no longer consider a disappointing album, but a really solid one), but there`s enough of a difference between the two and enough variation within the songs that it really has its own feel and stands alone within the Monster Magnet canon.

Reminds me of: Powertrip, Superjudge, Dopes to Infinity albums

My Rating: 4/5

Country: New Jersey, United States

Genre: Stoner, Hard Rock, Psychedelic, Southern Rock

Released: October 27, 2010

More Info

Suggested Listening Activity for fellow non-stoners: Surfing the cosmic spaceways in a filth-rimmed bathtub.

Better Reviews
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The Obelisk
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Weekly Mail Bag 10/22/12 - 10/26/12

A look at what came in the mail this week with quickie reviews ...

Abysmal Grief - Misfortune - I really like this one because it's got something every doom band needs in some quantity: cheesy organ.  The kind you would find Count Dracula playing.  A mood setting album, it's got a good late 60s / early 70s / Hammer horror film feel.  Already had it digitally but had to get the CD.  I don't listen to this enough.  Highlights include "Ignis Fatuus" and "Cadaver Devotion".  Rating - 4/5

Argus - Boldly Stride the Doomed - I discovered this terrific traditional doom band on the Soggy Bog of Doom Podcast's Traditional Doom special.  They have a very heavy guitar attack and the vocalist really belts 'em out, you get the sense he believes in what he's singing and the band believes in what they're doing.  They do traditional doom right.  Highlights include "The Ladder" and "A Curse on the World". Rating - 4.5/5

Bee Gees - Bee Gees` 1st - Released during the summer of love, the Bee Gees First album was neither the falsetto singing disco Bee Gees that you may think of them as nor was it their real first album.  But it is their best.  As psychedelic as the groovy Klaus Voorman cover suggests, this is a solid album if a little slow in places by being ballad heavy.  Highlights include "In My Own Time" and "Turn of the Century".  Rating - 4/5

Blizaro - City of the Living Nightmare - Wasn't sure what to make of this group at first, because I liked what I was hearing, but I kept waiting for the "song" to start.  Once I knew what to expect I was ready for them.  They create soundtracks to imaginary horror movies from the late 70s / early 80s but also have more traditional doom metal songs as well.  Very interesting and worth checking out.  Highlights include "Finale Incantata" and "Portallucinations".  Rating - 5/5

Deep Purple - Machine Head - One of the 'Holy Trinity of Heavy Metal' and another album I grew up with, it was time to add it to my collection if for no other reason than the solos in "Highway Star".  So maybe I am dead sick of "Smoke on the Water" but this album`s still required listening.  Can`t go wrong with any of the first six Deep Purple albums. Highlights include "Highway Star" and "Space Truckin".  Rating - 5/5

Goya - Demo - From Arizona comes one of the most promising demos of the year.  They play a very fuzzed-out style of stoner doom.  The presence of Electric Wizard is
very heavy, especially on "Blackfire", but the spirit of Black Sabbath reigns over everything Electric Wizard's ever done.  That's the great thing about music.  At the end of the day, Goya plays some great tunes with a great tone, both sonically and stylistically.  Highlights include "God Lie" and "Night Creeps".  Rating - 4.5/5
Kadavar - ST - I put off getting this one forever.  It didn't disappoint.  There's a duality to the German consciousness that they like things either old or weird.  Either looking to the past or the future.  Kadavar does both.  Bigass 70s riffs with slightly more adventurous songwriting reminds one of The Shovell.  Liked every song here on first listen.  Highlights include "All Our Thoughts" and "Purple Sage".  Rating - 4.5/5

Led Zeppelin - III - Like most redneck biker kids, I grew up on Zeppelin.  So can you believe I have never actually owned a copy of Zeppelin II or III.  It's always just been around.  Somebody's got those kicking around.  III was the one Zeppelin album my parents didn't have, so of all of Zep it's the one I'm probably least sick of.  Highlights include "Immigrant Song" and "Celebration Day".  Rating - 4.5/5

Mountain - Climbing! - A disappointing album for those looking for more "Mississippi Queen" and/or "Never in My Life", but an altogether solid, if typical, album for its time.  That said, it is worth it for those two all-time classics alone, but there`s more to explore here.  Kind of reminds me of George Harrison`s "All Things Must Pass" album.  Highlights include "Never in My Life" and "Sittin`on a Rainbow".  Rating - 4/5

Premonition 13 - 13 - Not to disparage his faultless musical output in the slightest, but Wino could probably shit on record and I'd pay to hear it.  So without so much as a single note previewed, I went ahead and ordered this one.  As always Wino doesn't disappoint, he just surrounds himself with great musicians and produces every time at bat.  Highlights include "Clay Pigeons" and "Deranged Rock & Roller".  Rating - 4/5

The Smoke - High in a Room - One of the great 60s psychedelic bands, this was their only album released  in Germany and it's not great, but I love this band.  I already had the 'best of'' collection which actually has all the best songs from this album, but being a bit of a completist I had to get this one to have the full album, this CD also has 14 bonus tracks.  Highlights include "High in a Room" and "My Friend Jack".  Rating - 3/5

Under the Sun - Man of Sorrow - Mix Kyuss, Rush and Saint Vitus and whadda you got?  This band.  There's even some Van der Graaf Generator, East of Eden or John Entwistle in there as well.  This is a really unique album as I think it's the only one I've heard that I would classify as Stoner Prog rock.  Great songwriting, excellent tones.  No real weak moments.  Highlights include "Stride" and "Divinity".  Rating - 4.5/5

Hour of Power 10/27/12 (playlist)

Highlights from the week of 10/21/12 - 10/27/12

  1. Anxiety Puke / Lovelessness (Bison B.C. / Lovelessness)
  2. Looking Glass (Ichabod / Dreamscapes from Dead Space)
  3. Hallucination Bomb (Monster Magnet / Mastermind)
  4. Red God (Beastwars / ST)
  5. Dying Earth (The Sword / Apocryphon)
  6. Doom Rock Glazik (Stangala / Boued Tousek Hag Traou Mat All)
  7. Waiting For Saturn (Bison, Bison / ST)
  8. Passage (Zosimos / ST)
  9. Never In My Life (Mountain / Climbing)
  10. Known Depressant (Ice Dragon / split 7`` single w/ Fellwoods)
  11. Purple Sage (Kadavar / ST)

Friday, 26 October 2012

The Sword - Apocryphon (album review)

The Sword are one of those bands, along with Orchid that I just never really liked. I couldn`t see what all the hype was about.  So I never really looked too deeply into this band.  This is the first album of theirs I`ve listened to.  Reading youtube comments on their latest video (see below) there seems to be a tiny uproar about this band`s perceived change of direction from stoner doom to more traditional heavy metal and their use of synths, but that conversation goes out the door.  For me, this is a new band and a new experience, I carry none of the baggage of expectations.

This is an old school heavy metal album.  Ten rockin' tracks to headbang to.  Be warned all ye who enter here: this album is a recipe for severe neck damage.

There are little glimpses or essences of Logan's Run or Zardoz spread throughout by way of synth, creating a nice atmosphere and mental imagery of swords, sorcery and spaceships.  Conan in the future.

The Sword has tapped into a primal vein of precious Metal and created something with it that is not only shiny and new (sci fi sounding) but almost archetypal and primitive.  They seems to have taken some of our favorite parts of Metallica and Black Sabbath (among others) and crafted something that warps those influences beyond recognition and yet is entirely familiar.  Arena rock on a glactic scale.

I get the sense that this is not for everyone, but for those of us who got through high school with large doses of Metallica and Black Sabbath, I think this will be a satisfying listening experience, even if you`re getting a bit older like me and have to break out the icepacks after listening.  Other than that, for those who like really hard rockin`old school metal, this album is probably for you.

"The Veil of Isis", "Eyes of the Stormwitch" and "Dying Earth" are all potential Number 1s on the Doom Charts.

Reminds me of: Behold! The Monolith, Grand Magus, The Machine, Ozzy Osbourne, Witchcraft

My Rating: 4/5

Country: United States

Genre: Stoner Metal, Heavy Metal, Doom

1). The Veil of Isis (5:33)
2). Cloak of Feathers (5:25)
3). Arcane Montane (4:06)
4). The Hidden Masters (4:49)
5). Dying Earth (5:22)
6). Execrator (2:46)
7). Seven Sisters (3:30)
8). Hawks & Serpents (4:31)
9). Eyes of the Stormwitch (3:11)
10). Apocryphon (4:57)
Total Run Time: 44:06

Release Date: October 22, 2012

More Info

Suggested Listening Activity for fellow non-stoners: Belting battlecry, rushing headlong down the white corridors of a spaceship, sword in hand, spltting in twain all misfortunate enough to cross your path.

Better Reviews
Heavy Planet
Dr. Doom's Lair


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Zosimos - ST (album review)

"Zosimos" is the debut release from a new band from Texas.  It sounds like it was recorded live in a small studio and that live feel, especially to the vocals and drums, give this recording much of its charm.  Their attack isn't brutal, but they don't pussyfoot around either.  The music is dark and heavy and that's just how we like our Doom here at the Hitso asylum.

First track and it's so nice to hear a band find a groove.  Chugging bass and spider-web thin guitars open "Ghost Town".  And when the groove comes it hits like a sack of doorknobs.  There's that great live feel to the recording, especially in the vocals that I'd hate to see a band lose with more studio time and/or better mixing/equipment.

"Uncanny Revulsion" is built around a terrific doom riff.  Again, great live feel to the vocals and crashing symbols.  The vocalist really gets into it at the end and I love that genuine emotion behind the delivery.

"Passage" is easily the standout track.  Great doom riff, more uptempo than the other tracks, great groove and I am a sucker for vocal harmony.

"Dry Hex" is more than what the cheeky title would suggest.  A glimpse of the band's future?  Leaning towards the Stoner side of things, the song sounds more polished and mature in its composition.

There's nothing trailblazing here and they won't change the face of Doom metal, but Zosimos shows great promise and some real heart and soul, which is something not every band can claim and counts for a lot.  They are officially on my radar as of now.

Rating: 4/5

From: Texas

Genre: Doom Metal, Stoner

Reminds me of: Balam, Set, Midnight Ghost Train

Release Date: October 11, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Playing chicken with a freight train.

Beastwars - ST (album review)

Beastwars is a 4 piece sludge / doom band from New Zealand whose self-titled debut originally came out May 9 2011 in their home territory.  So it's not technically a new album, but it was posted on Bandcamp September 11 so it's new someplace and it's new to me.  "Beastwars" scored huge locally, winning their country's best metal album award.  And it's not for lack of competition that they won.  This is a truly terrific album that blends various influences and genres seamlessly into something distinct and noteworthy.

Opener "Damn the Sky" sets the tone for what's to follow, building a riff into something monstrous by upping the ante along the way.  Vocalist Matt Hyde goes from lazy mumbling to Matt Pike-esque screeching, a technique revisited throughout the album to match or set the mood of the music perfectly.

"Red God" and "Damn the Sky" are definite sludge-y highlights.  "Cthulhu" shows a slightly different side of the band with its understated accompaniment to lyrics that are at times buzzed rather than sung, recalling H.P. Lovecraft's story 'The Whisperer in Darkness' (fucking read it!).  "Mihi" is a slow-building potential sleeper hit.

"Empire" is a very strong album closer, bringing all previously touched upon elements to a final confident musical statement..

This may be the best Kiwi music I've heard since Fourmyula.

Reminds me of: High on Fire, (early) Metallica, -(16)-

My Rating: 4/5

Genre: Sludge, Doom Metal, Rock, Stoner

Release Date: September 11, 2012

More Info
And even More

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Rafting down the ditch in a poorly patched-up dinghy.

A Better Review:
The Obelisk

Doom Charts for 10/24/12

Top 20 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)

  1. Windows (Mother of God / Anthropos)
  2. Huckleberry (Ichabod / Dreamscapes from Dead Space)
  3. Heap Wolves (Windhand / ST)
  4. The Dead Still Ride (From Beyond / The Color Out of Space EP)
  5. Grind It (Lord 13 / 2013)
  6. Tombstone Rider (Vinum Sabbatum / Bacchanale Premiere)
  7. Path of Doom (Venomous Maximus / Beg Upon the Light)
  8. Levitation (Down / Down IV)
  9. My Truck (Stoner Train / Hobo from the Outer Space)
  10. Cancer You Fucking Bitch (Pet the Preacher / The Banjo)
  11. Saviour (Bedemon / Symphony of Shadows)
  12. An Alternative to Freedom (Witchcraft / Legend)
  13. Canyon Man (Corrosion of Conformity / ST (bonus tracks))
  14. Streets of Evermore (Lord Fowl / Moon Queen)
  15. Goliath (Graveyard / Lights Out)
  16. Rising Fire (Von Thundersvolt / Demo)
  17. God Lie (Goya / Demo)
  18. Empire (Beastwars / ST)
  19. Prophet (Candlemass / Psalms for the Dead)
  20. Electric Rattlesnake (Overkill / The Electric Age)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Bison, Bison - ST

Bison, Bison is a hard driving stoner rock band whose singer's subject matter and lazy and slightly mournful vocal delivery displays an influence of mid 00s indie rock, most evidently on the album opener "She Says".  Far as I know it's the only metal song I've heard all year that mentions dancing, at least in a social context ("she says that I can't dance").  It can be a bit jarring at first, but probably only because of genre-limiting expectations.

The band rocks hard and doesn't let up from beginning to end, crashing and banging through track after banging track.  "Rivertown" slows things just a bit, but still offers plenty of crash and bang and establishes a nice groove over which a sing-song-y chorus is lazily chanted.  Though it strays slightly from a good formula, it`s probably the standout track on the CD.  Other highlights include "Waiting for Saturn" and "Sweetish" which is built around a great 70s riff which recalls both drug-era Aerosmith and Black Sabbath`s "War Pigs" and is can`t miss.  There`s a nice psychedelic rush of swirling guitars and atmospherics leading back into the main riff towards the end of the track which makes for a great closer and leaves the listener excited for what`s to come from this band in the future.

By the time a half hour has passed the band has established a unique voice that the listener will want to revisit.

At $7 on their bandcamp page, the CD version of the album makes "The Price is Nice" list and is worth picking up.

Reminds me of: Black Pyramid (Beresky era), Black Sabbath, Summoner, Sweet Love

My Rating: 4/5

From: Portland, Oregon

Genre: Stoner, Hard Rock

1). She Says (4:07)
2). Blood & Sand (2:42)
3). Waiting for Saturn (4:18)
4). Concave (5:20)
5). Rivertown (6:33)
6). Sweetish (7:06)
Total Run Time: 30:00

Release Date: August 30, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Rolling down hills in shopping carts

Monday, 22 October 2012

Bison B.C. - Lovelessness (album review)

Local Dirtbags Let Rip Steaming Pile of Awesome

Bison BC is one of a small handful of local Vancouver bands, along with The Ancients, Black Wizard, Funeral Circle and to a lesser extent The British Columbians, that I would consider hometown heroes.  Even if they are self-described dirtbags.  Therefore, it is my duty to review their third full-length, officially released only a matter of hours ago, while it`s still warm on the table.

So, here`s a track by track rundown.

Album opener, "An Old Friend" lays everything out on the table.  Shredding guitars, thrashing drums, a heavy atmosphere pervades from the almost Maiden-like opening riff to the caveman drumming reminiscent of Des Kensel.

The first bit of the track "Anxiety Puke/ Lovelessness" (which I assume is the Anxiety Puke part) reminds me of something from the 90s.  The unceremoniously consummated love child between Offspring and 'Deliverance' era Corrosion of Conformity, which abruptly gears down only to slowly build back from the ground up.  The long instrumental build up gives plenty of room for the guitars to breathe and feel their way around the melody.  A study in tension.  This is the song the label has chosen to promote as the album's single, and at 9 minutes seems an odd choice, at least on the surface.  But it's the right choice, showcasing not only what this album is all about but providing some of the band`s best moments since "Stressed Elephant" from 2010`s `Dark Ages`.

"Last and First Things" is another slow burner taking time to build the song up in layers upon layers with many false starts, each time getting it more and more right until finally the song opens up with vocals about four minutes in, settling in to the perfect groove.  Of course, the experimentation doesn`t end there as the band continues to explore different facets of the groove they established early on.  It is almost classical in structure, somewhat reminiscent of a fugue.

"Blood Music" is perhaps the most doom-y of the songs here, stoner/doom by way of High on Fire circa `Snakes for the Divine` or Thrash-y doom by way of Behold! the Monolith, but unmistakably Bison B.C.

"Clozapine Dream" is a fairly straightforward thrash/punk blast which tumbles back in on itself into a slower stoner/doom finish.  All in all, the shortest track on the album and perhaps the quickest and easiest way to find out what this band is all about.

"Finally Asleep" is a probably the slowest most down tempo song on the album and I can see why they might have chosen to close the album with it.  The first five tracks all have a consistent feel and a coherent singular vision, this track might have disrupted the flow so they appear to have stuck to the old adage that you can get away with a longer or slower song at the end of your album.  I forgive them.  It`s another great song and somehow more reminiscent of their previous album than anything else on this one.

Overall, this feels like a band really finding its niche and growing into its sound.

I like `Dark Ages` but it wasn`t the kind of thing that I find revisiting over and over again.  Lovelessness is a much more accomplished album, in terms of song craft, it is the kind of thing I will be playing over and over again over the next couple months.

Reminds me of: Behold! The Monolith, Black Pyramid, High on Fire, Red Fang

My Rating: 4.5/5

From: Vancouver, B.C.

Genre: Stoner Metal, Thrash Metal, Doom, Sludge

1). An Old Friend (6:21)
2). Anxiety Puke / Lovelessness (9:03)
3). Last and First Things (8:11)
4). Blood Music (10:46)
5). Clozapine Dream (3:15)
6). Finally Asleep (6:51)
Total Run Time: 44:24

Release Date: October 22, 2012

More Info

Suggested Listening Activity for fellow non-stoners: Swimming in a pool of razor blades then sliding down Filth Mountain.

Better Reviews
Axis of Metal


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Ichabod - Dreamscapes from Dead Space

It is obvious at first listen that this a confident, veteran band.  It's been about three years since Ichabod`s last album (`2012`) and the depth, scope and completeness of vision on this latest offering lends no clues as to the upheaval in this band over that span.  Or maybe it does.

Perhaps the music is a perfect reflection of everything that has happened to the band in the past three years.  An expansion of sound into new territory (brought vividly to fruition here) which saw the band part ways with original singer Ken McKay due to creative differences.   The band`s entire future was put in jeopardy but from the chaos, the band pushed through and came out the other side with a supportive new vocalist (John Fadden) and a musical statement that is among the most articulate and fresh of anything released in the sludge or stoner genres this year.

While a lot of bands struggle and strive to find a distinctive voice and occasionally come close, that ever-elusive 'statement' on the tip of their proverbial tongues but never quite articulated, Dreamscapes From Dead Space is an instance of a band speaking fluently in a language all their own.  I call it Space Sludge.

There's a duality of light and heavy, light and dark, tight restriction and infinite space.  It's a tightrope balance which Ichabod navigates effectively, bridging the chasms between heavy slabs of sludge and  calmer passages of more traditional rock with the expansiveness of space rock.

No song encompasses the overall structure and sonic landscape of the album as a whole better than opener ``Huckleberry``.  A high speed chase through burning streets littered with wrecks and hazards that leads to an escape through a welcoming and expansive desert.  ``Epiphany`` does nearly the same in reverse to equal if opposite effect.  ``Hollow God`` and ``Looking Glass`` are absolute scorchers while ``Baba Yaga`` and ``All Your Love`` begin as more subdued offerings of Space / Prog rock and eventually kick into Stoner / Sludge overdrive.  Through it all though, Ichabod never really forgets what they do best: play loud, hard and heavy.

Highly Recommended.

Reminds me of: Hawkwind, Kyuss, Steak, -(16)-

My Rating: 4.5/5

Genre: Stoner Metal, Rock, Sludge, Psychedelic, Space Rock, Prog Rock

Total run time: 47:11

Release Date: October 9, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Popping the clutch on your couch and driving that sucker to the moon, baby!

More Info

Better reviews:
The Obelisk

Doom/Psych/Stoner/Sludge Charts for 10/20/12

Top 20 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
1). Killer Kane (Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell / Don't Hear It ... Fear It)
2). Heretic (Orchid / Heretic EP)
3). Windows (Mother of God / Anthropos)
4). Dancing Madly Backwards (Captain Crimson / Dancing Madly Backwards)
5). A Different Moon (The Graviators / Evil Deeds)
6). Heap Wolves (Windhand / ST)
7). Path of Doom (Venomous Maximus / Beg Upon the Light)
8). Levitation (Down / Down IV)
9). Grim Tormentor (Conan / Monnos)
10). The Ambassadeur (Skanska Mord / Paths to Charon)
11). The Dead Still Ride (From Beyond / The Color Out of Space EP)
12). An Alternative to Freedom (Witchcraft / Legend)
13). Hellfire (Red Hot Rebellion / ST)
14). My Truck (Stoner Train / Hobo from the Outer Space)
15). Saviour (Bedemon / Symphony of Shadows)
16). Canyon Man (Corrosion of Conformity / ST (bonus tracks))
17). Work Enslaves (Grave Siesta / ST)
18). Streets of Evermore (Lord Fowl / Moon Queen)
19). Cancer You Fucking Bitch (Pet the Preacher / The Banjo)
20). Electric Weaveworld (Engines of Ruin / Electric Weaveworld single)

Top 10 Albums
#). Album title - artist
1). Bacchanale Premiere - Vinum Sabbatum
2). Don't Hear It ... Fear It - Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell
3). Dancing Madly Backwards - Captain Crimson
4). Beg Upon the Light - Venomous Maximus
5). Ichabod - Dreamscapes From Dead Space
6). Witchcraft - Legend
7). Down - Down IV, pt. I: The Purple EP
8). Anthropos - Mother of God
9). Evil Deeds - The Graviators
10). Damned By Fate - Red Desert

Saturday, 20 October 2012



Of all the new / unsigned / independent bands that have debuted in 2012 so far, Moon Curse is the one that has made the biggest impact at Paranoid Hitsophrenic.  Theirs was the first album of the year wherein all tracks reached ten plays, they were the first to score three number ones ("Medicinecoma", "Northern High" and "Brontis"),  in the doom charts and would have placed a fourth ("Black Elk") if not for a play count restriction (10 play max) technicality.  Not bad for a five track, four song and an interlude, EP by an unknown, unsigned and underappreciated band over 2000 miles away in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

You know that feeling when you listen to something for the first or second time and something clicks and it just puts a devilish smile on your face?  That was "Medicinecoma".

On first listen, I liked the EP and all its tracks, but it wasn't until "Medicinecoma" found its way onto a mixed playlist that the band really outshined the competition.  I was infected by the bouncy groove and haven't since recovered.  "Medicinecoma" is one of the best songs of the year by any artist big or small.  Actually, the same can be said for any of the songs from their self-titled debut.

So what makes this band so special?  In a word: catchiness.  They carve out an irresistible groove around a great riff and spread over top it one hell of a vocalist.  No, Matt Leece is not a virtuoso, nor does he need to be to suit the stoner doom groove of the music, but he's got something a ton of vocalists don't:  memorable vocal melodies that are as much a musical statement as the main riff and a rough but clear vocal delivery.  The riffs are excellent, but the vocal melodies really make this band stand out and really ratchet the catchiness factor up to 11.

What's missing from this band however is a physical release of this EP and the lack of touring.  Apparently, there has been some kind of talk of the EP possibly coming out on vinyl, but obviously that hasn't surfaced yet and I would love to see a CD version or a possible support slot on a tour that comes this way but without label backing such financial loads are almost impossible for a new band to shoulder.

Interview with Moon Curse

Hour of Power

Highlights from the week of 10/14/12 - 10/20/12

1). Mark of the Beast (Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell / Don't Hear It ... Fear It)
2). Lonely Devils Club (Captain Crimson / Dancing Madly Backwards)
3). An Alternative to Freedom (Witchcraft / Legend)
4). Rivertown (Bison, Bison / ST)
5). Damn the Sky (Beastwars / ST)
6). The Lost Art of Bong Rips (Goat Bong / Goat Worship and Sodomy)
7). Hell's Heroes (Venomous Maximus (Beg Upon the Light)
8). Earthrise (Vinum Sabbatum / Bacchanale Premiere)
9). Levitation (Down / Down IV)
10). Lord of Desolation (Bedemon / Symphony of Shadows)

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Goat Bong - Goat Worship and Sodomy

Goat Bong is the work of one man, Dirty Mike Alcala of San Antonio, Texas.  The songs here are instrumental pieces built in layers of key instruments atop Sabbath-like riffs, replete with spoken word (usually slowed or distorted) samples, one from Bill Hicks.  There's even a rare (death metal growl) vocal performance in "Romancing the Drone" that is mixed low and distant so as not to be distracting.

The riffs that the songs are built around are great, even monumental, but the keyboard and synth that rides over them at times can be challenging, pushing the boundaries of what I'm expecting to hear.  Occasionally those boundaries are pushes to the limit and I can go no further ("Tripping the Riff"), or just close enough that I can meet the song halfway ("Cannabis Sativa Luciferi").  That said, this album is not without its highlights.

"Baptized in Bong Water" is currently making the rounds in my world right now as a 'single'.  It's a weird one because at a certain point the drums seem to fall out of tempo, as though the drum sample was cut off just a half beat too soon at the end, but if you listen closely the guitar sticks with it and stays at the same tempo.  "Crack Rock n Roll" and "The Lost Art of Bong Rips" are also stand out tracks, the latter being the most straight forward metal song with the keys being replaced by guitar solo.  Also, if that song has taught me anything it's that farts are still funny.

Reminds me of: Blizaro, Bloody Hammers, Abysmal Grief, Black Sabbath, Dopethrone

My Rating: 3.5/5

Genre: Doom, Stoner, Drone, Psychedelic, Instrumental

1). Baptized in Bong Water (4:18)
2). Tripping the Riff (3:07)
3). Cannabis Sativa Luciferi (6:11)
4). Romancing the Drone (6:58)
5). Crack Rock n Roll (5:07)
6). The Lost Art of Bong Rips (2:42)
Total run time: 28:20

Release Date: October 31, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Digging a grave / illegally dumping barrels of toxic waste in the woods at night

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Don't Hear It ... Fear It

I'm going to tell you right off the bat, this is one of my current favorites.  The Shovell picks right up where my other favorite musical genre(s) (late 60s / early 70s British psychedelic / prog rock) leaves off.  Right from the get-go the intro to "Mark of the Beast" is clearly a blood relative of the classic (and heavy as shit) "Old Man Going" by the Pretty Things.  Once the intro gives way to the verse the album picks up some heavy steam and continues to gain momentum until the final showstopper of "Killer Kane" ("Bean Stew" the CD's closer is listed as a 'hidden track'), clearly one of the great heavy rock songs of the year (see current Doom Charts) or of any year for that matter.

The Shovell know just what they have here in the "Killer Kane" riff, even foretelling its passing in an untitled interlude midway through the album.  It's like they just couldn't wait to give you that riff.  How can you argue, it's not the kind of riff you just sit on, but it's just a 49 second preview, when the song finally kicks off and that pause-y chorus crashes in, it's catchy as hell.  Same with "Red Admiral, Black Sunrise", catchy as hell.  "Devil's Island" and "Mark of the Beast" have also been making the rounds and absolutely crushing misery on my daily hour-long commute to work playlist.

Again, this is a very Prog-Psych album with more than a waft of heavy blues rock, but played catchy in the vein of Octopus' "Restless Night" or Grapefruit's "Deep Water" albums.  Tony McPhee of the legendary Goundhogs (their 1968 debut lp "Scratching the Surface" being one of my all-time favorites) appears on "Scratchin and Sniffin" and "Bean Stew".  The prog psych feel comes across when the riffs stop flying momentarily and smoke-thick atmospherics and heavy tension building instrumental passages wash in, as though for the listeners to catch our collective breaths and get ready for another dive in to the fray.

There's also a palpable nautical vibe to some of the songs, some of the passages are very sea-like in a way that I can't describe because I lack the technical language, but it has a very maritime feel in a way that Ahab only hints at.

For those who like classic, stadium-sized guitar rock riffs with more than just a pinch of thought put into the songwriting, this album is highly recommended.  A future classic for sure.

Reminds me of: Atomic Rooster, Grapefruit (later), Groundhogs, High Tide, Octopus, Pretty Things, Sir Lord Baltimore

My Rating: 4.5/5

Genre: Hard Rock, Retro Rock, Psychedelic, Stoner, Prog

1). Mark of the Beast (6:03)
2). Devil's Island (7:16)
3). iDeath (6:11)
4). Untitled (0:49)
5). Red Admiral, Black Sunrise (7:05)
6). Scratchin' and Sniffin' (4:59)
7). The Last Run (4:11)
8). Killer Kane (3:23)
9). Bean Stew (7:15)
Total Run Time: 47:08

Release Date: August 28, 2012

Suggested Listening Activity for fellow non-stoners: Lighthouse tipping (like cow-tipping, only with a Lighthouse)

Better Reviews:
The Obelisk
Cosmic Lava
The Soda Shop
Fast n Bulbous


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Bedemon - Symphony of Shadows

At the time of the original incarnation of Black Sabbath, they were not a well respected band.  Hard to believe now, and it was hard for a pair of upstart American musicians by the names of Randy Palmer and Bobby Liebling to believe even then.  They were among the first to be heavily influenced  by the band that would spawn an entire new genre of music, these two creating the Black Sabbath influenced bands Bedemon and Pentagram at a time when it was unfashionable and commercially unviable to do so.  It would take fifteen years from Pentagram's inception for audiences to catch up and for the band to make their vinyl debut, Palmer never lived to see his band secure an album release.  But he did manage to record what would be the band's only official release of original and new material, albeit that new material is now actually ten years old.  But it is new to us.  And we're lucky to have the chance to finally hear it.

Symphony of Shadows is full of morbid anthems and fatalist mantras.  It is a labor of love, a heart and soul affair.  It's True Doom with hard-edged arrangements around 70s riffs and hopeless lyrics.

The main riff from "Eternally Unhuman" sounds like it was written in the 70s and the rest of the song embellished  and expanded upon in the 90s, early 00s, which is not a bad thing at all. I bet half the bands I listen to wish they could work that way and sound like they try.  Again, not a bad thing.  Bedemon was in a unique position to actually do so.  But really, I'm struck by how modern this album sounds.  Maybe that's the wrong word.

Metal, especially Doom Metal, is not a genre of music that lends itself easily to trends or changing fashion.  It is a lifestyle, a worldview, and it isn't about fitting in.  It is a kind of music that isn't easily placed, timewise.  What's good now will sound good twenty years from now and vice versa.  This is the kind of album that defines that ideal.  It is timeless.

I don't know, I guess it doesn't really matter  if they're treading new ground or not, sometimes you just want something to sound familiar and good.  That's how I like my Traditional Doom, I know what I want to hear, I know what to expect when I put it on, because it's what I'm in the mood for.  This is that kind of album.  Songs like "Saviour", "Lord of Desolation" and "Kill You Now" I'm always in the mood for.

Put it on, I'm in the mood for some good old Traditional Doom.

Reminds me of: Altar of Oblivion, Argus, Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Dusted Angel, Pentagram

My Rating: 4/5

Genre: Traditional Doom Metal, Heavy Metal

1). Saviour (4:23)
2). Lord of Desolation (7:00)
3). Son of Darkness (4:25)
4). The Plague (5:04)
5). D.E.D. (7:27)
6). Kill You Now (3:35)
7). Godless (9:38)
8). Hopeless (9:39)
9). Eternally Unhuman (7:40)
Total run time: 58:43

Release Date: October 23, 2012

More Information
The Obelisk interview

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Playing in traffic

Better reviews:
Cosmic Lava


Monday, 15 October 2012

So Close Now - Soon to be Released

October 22 - Bison B.C. (Lovelessness)
October 22 - The Sword (Apocryphon)
October 23 - Bedemon (Symphony of Shadows)
October 23 - Mos Generator (Nomads)
October 26 - Graveyard (Lights Out)
October 26 - Groan (The Divine Right of Kings)
October 30 - Indian Hancrafts (Civil Disobedience for Losers)
October 30 - Neurosis (Honor Found in Decay)
October 30 - Venomous Maximus (Beg Upon the Light)
October 31 - Albino Python (TBA)
October 31 - From Beyond (The Color Out of Space EP)
October 31 - Goat Bong (Goat Worship and Sodomy)
November 2012 - The Wandering Midget (From The Meadows Of Opium Dreams)
November 13 - Bell Witch (Longing)
November 13 - Soundgarden (King Animal)
November 13 - Wo Fat (The Black Code)
January 2013 (?) - The Fellwoods (Gyromancer EP)
January 29 2013 - Five Horse Johnson (The Taking of Blackheart)
February 2013 (?) - Gozu (The Fury of a Patient Man)
February 5 2013 - Mother of God (Anthropos)

Venomous Maximus - Beg Upon the Light

The first time I heard Venomous Maximus I nearly shit myself.  I thought, these guys are gonna be huge.  The song I heard was "The Mission", still a favorite of mine.  Then I heard the rest of their six song EP and it all sounded a bit same-y to me, especially the vocal delivery, which never seemed to change, either range or melody.  It just made the songs all kind of sound the same.

Vocalist and band leader Gregg Higgins seems to have worked on his vocal skills over the past year or so revealing more of a range and even adding a growl in certain places for emphasis and it works.  That promise that I first heard in the band has been fulfilled with the release of their debut full-length.

There's an epicness to the music that I never really picked up on before but now seems to be the band's identity or signature.  It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise after having read this interview with the band.  What really comes across in the interview as well as in the music is the dedication and enthusiasm the band members all have to be the best they can be, to write the best songs they can.  It speaks for itself musically, it comes across in the playing and it's something that can't be faked.

Interestingly the band decided to re-record another favorite of mine from their original three song demo recorded in 2010, "Give Up the Witch."  Comparing the demo version with this new version really reveal the work Higgins has put into varying his delivery and style over the course of the past few years to great effect.

Another nice touch which actually provides the album with its sense of fullness of scope and vision are the intro track "Funeral Queen" and two interludes which are more than just interludes, more than just filler.  These tracks were just as planned, thought out, poured over and perfected as much any full song on the album.  "Funeral Queen" has got to be up there with the best album introductions of all time.

Throughout there is an epic fantasy feel to the songs and the overall album in general tracks like "Battle for the Cross", "Path of Doom", and "Hell's Heroes" at times reminding me of Lord of the Rings or Army of Darkness.  These are all great songs by the way.

Reminds me of: BNWOHM, Monster Magnet

My Rating: 4.5/5

Genre: Doom Metal, Psychedelic, Heavy Metal, Stoner

1). Funeral Queen (1:49)
2). Path of Doom (5:49)
3). Give Up the Witch (4:58)
4). Father Time (2:03)
5). Dream Again (Hellenbach) (5:04)
6). Moonchild (5:07)
7). Battle for the Cross (5:53)
8). Venomous Maximus (4:39)
9). Mothers Milk (3:43)
10). Hell's Heroes (7:06)
Total run time: 45:54

Release Date: October 30, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Swinging swords and splitting heads from crown to teeth.

More Info

Better reviews:

Down - Down IV Part I: The Purple EP

Not sure what everybody's problem seems to be with this one in the blogosphere, did Phil Anselmo really piss that many people off on VH1 or is it just elitist snobbery? This EP is great.

I wasn't sure what to expect going in as "Witchtripper" and "Misfortune Teller" had already been personal top 5 hits but it seemed the remaining 4 songs had been getting lambasted on a handful of my favorite blogs.  Who knows, maybe this served to Down's advantage, with the poor reviews having softened my expectations enough to accept eagerly what to others sounded like a pile of shit.  But I don't think that's it at all.  I think it stands on its own merits.

Firstly, there has been a maturing of the band's sound.  Of course there has.  What was once a side-project has blossomed (due mostly to circumstance) into main band status, at least for Phil Anselmo and Pepper Keenan, allowing for more attention to detail and focus.  At six songs and 33 minutes it's a long EP, maybe the equivalent of a single side of a regular length Down album, but still short in the grander scheme, which maybe why this is the most "solid through play" the band has released since its brilliant, now classic debut NOLA way, way back in '95.  Second-of-ly (joke reference, not illiterate) the criticism of predictability and 'same-old-ness' is entirely false as they have crafted for themselves a sound that is both cohesive within the album and consistent within their existing back catalogue while creating a new band identity which renders the band virtually unrecognizable compared to their original incarnation but still a logical outgrowth of that time to now.  Previous efforts have been more 'Southern Metal', a genre they helped define, while this is definitely a Doom Metal release, which may piss some people off for starters, perceiving the move to be jumping on a trend or a big band using the underground to make a comeback.  But this is all tangential to the music itself, which each release must surely be measured by.  This is one of the darkest and most occult inspired Doom releases of the year which is both surprising and welcome.

It seemed like I waited forever for this thing to come out (at least since May), then was further delayed in obtaining a copy once it actually came out due to it being sold out, it was definitely worth the wait.  The plan of course is to release four EPs over the course of a year and a half or so, which pretty much makes this a kind of side A of a double LP and I don't think I've ever heard a double album on which every last song was solid so there may be cracks in the armor appearing in the coming months but part I is everything I could have hoped for.  Some great riffs in there and some catchy tunes.  Anselmo's voice is in fine and familiar form, but gone is the rock n roll singing from previous Down releases, replaced with a lower, throatier delivery.

Also, it being an EP you're probably going to be able to find it on the cheap and for what it's worth, it's well worth picking up for Doom fans and Down fans alike.  Recommended.

Reminds me of: Dusted Angel, Pentagram, Skanska Mord

My Rating: 4.5/5

Genre: Doom Metal, Southern Metal, Occult

1). Levitation (5:00)
2). Witchtripper (3:49)
3). Open Coffins (5:44)
4). The Curse is a Lie (6:01)
5). This Work is Timeless (3:43)
6). Misfortune Teller (9:05)
Total run time: 33:19

Release Date: September 18, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Beer drinking, hell-raising and virgin sacrificing.

Better reviews:
The Obelisk
Dr. Doom


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Captain Crimson - Dancing Madly Backwards

Now, (again) from Sweden, one of the catchiest albums of the year.

Lines like "I'm telling you bro/you've got a demon inside of you", and "Satan as our witness, man you got no soul" just stick with you and have been carefully added to the personal repertoire of one-liners.

I fear this band will be over-looked though for the simple fact that they are Swedish because of the now long-held cynicism about anything that even begins to resemble a "scene" such as the Seattle grunge thing you've heard so much about.  The good Captain follows in the wake of already firmly established Retro Rock superstars and fellow countrymen as Graveyard, Witchcraft, Skanska Mord, etc. but make no mistake Crimson is his own man.

This is an uptempo album, confidently played, three sheets to the wind with infectious riffs and ... is there a healthy representation of cowbells present? ... you bet! "Lonely Devil's Club" is a scorching opener and has already been a No. 1 hit in my household, "Dancing Madly Backwards" and "Wizard's Bonnet" are also both killers with Bonnet especially showcasing the band's tightness and progressive tendencies, which are reminiscent of Leaf Hound among other classics.

One of the best Heavy Rock albums of the year so far.  Highly recommended

Reminds me of: Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Black Widow, Cream, Graveyard, Jimi Hendrix, Leaf Hound, Witchcraft

My Rating: 4.5/5

Genre: Retro Rock, Hard Rock, Psychedelic

1). Lonely Devil's Club (5:38)
2). Mountain of Sleep (5:57)
3). River (4:42)
4). Don't Take Me For a Fool (4:48)
5). Autumn (5:05)
6). Wizard's Bonnet (4:47)
7). Silver Moon (4:52)
8). True Color (3:15)
9). Dancing Madly Backwards (6:23)
Total run time: 45:22

Release Date: August 29, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Driving through farmers fields with the windows rolled down, dust be damned / making crop circles.

Better reviews:
Heavy Planet
Fast n Bulbous
Cosmic Lava


Doom/Psych/Stoner/Sludge Charts for 10/13/12

Top 20 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
1). The Graveyard of Broken Dreams (Altar of Oblivion / Grand Gesture of Defiance)
2). Killer Kane (Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell / Don't Hear It ... Fear It)
3). Heretic (Orchid / Heretic EP)
4). Hellfire (Red Hot Rebellion / ST)
5). Grim Tormentor (Conan / Monnos)
6). The Devil's Cradle (Vinum Sabbatum / Bacchanale Premiere)
7). Sinking City (Lord Vicar / Signs of Osiris)
8). Cancer You Fucking Bitch (Pet the Preacher / The Banjo)
9). A Different Moon (The Graviators / Evil Deeds)
10). Older No Wiser (Red Desert / Damned by Fate)
11). The Ambassadeur (Skanska Mord / Paths to Charon)
12). Streets of Evermore (Lord Fowl / Moon Queen)
13). Path of Doom (Venomous Maximus / Beg Upon the Light)
14). Southern Belle (Midnight Ghost Train / Buffalo)
15). My Truck (Stoner Train / Hobo from the Outer Space)
16). The Last Legion of Sorrow (Bloody Hammers / ST)
17). Electric Weaveworld (Engines of Ruin / Electric Weaveworld single)
18). TFBUNDY (Von Thundersvolt / Demo)
19). Too Far South For Mutiny (Nightosaur / Spaceaxers)
20). Take Me With You When You Die (Witchcraft / It's Not Because of You single)

Top 10 Albums
#). Album title - artist
1). Dancing Madly Backwards - Captain Crimson
2). Don't Hear It ... Fear It - Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell
3). Bacchanale Premiere - Vinum Sabbatum
4). Anthropos - Mother of God
5). Monnos - Conan
6). Evil Deeds - The Graviators
7). Beg Upon the Light - Venomous Maximus
8). Damned By Fate - Red Desert
9). Paths to Charon - Skanska Mord
10). Even Higher - Sonic Titan

Witchcraft - Legend

The first time I heard 'It's Not Because of You', the lead-off single to the long-awaited and much anticipated fourth album from veteran doom/retro rockers Witchcraft, I didn't know what to make of it.  This isn't like them.  Wasn't the song perhaps a little too bouncy, a little too ecstatic?  The riff didn't sound '70s enough.  What a poor choice for a single, I thought, this will only turn long time fans off and not attract many new ones.  So I put the song away for a week or so forgetting about it and moving on to the next thing as 'uncomplicated' minds are wont to do.

Once I put my expectations to bed however and gave the song a second chance it quickly became one of the most addictive songs of late summer.  So fun to sing along to, what with Magnus Pelander's unique vocal delivery, a feature of the group's sound that provides the album with its largest sense of familiarity and continuity among their legendary (pun intended) catalogue.  That's not to say that the band has done a complete 180 but it has expanded into more progressive and (I think) brighter territory.  This album is littered with percussive punctuation!  The overall sound is more dynamic and modern to a greater or lesser extent which is highlighted well with an updated kind of production style.  This is what initially scared me off and probably will scare off a lot of die hards who have had five years to forget the last album and only want a return to the same thing over and over again (not that I can blame that attitude, the sound was great).  Plus, is it just me or has Pelander never sounded so confident in his delivery?

Lyrically, the songs are candid and political, at times introspective and other times anthemic.  Streamlined and hard driving, dynamic and full bodied, that's how I would describe the sound of this album if such words were worth anything when trying to describe music which I don't think they are.  So let's just say that the album is good.  It's probably not what you were expecting but it's Real Good.  It warrants repeat plays and there's so much going on that I'm not going to get bored of this thing anytime soon.  Songs like 'An Alternative to Freedom', 'Ghosts House', and 'White Light Suicide' (recently featured on the Soggy Bog of Doom Podcast (9/25/12)) will be in my constant rotation for months to come.

Turns out that 'It's Not Because of You' was a wise choice of first single for this album afterall, as it is representative of the overall sound which is very dynamic and most importantly Good.  Real good!

Reminds me of:  When good bands change but still sound good.  Highly original.

My Rating:  4.5/5

Genre: Psychedelic, Hard Rock, Retro Rock, Doom

1). Deconstruction (5:10)
2). Flag of Fate (4:36)
3). It's Not Because of You (4:14)
4). An Alternative to Freedom (5:18)
5). Ghosts House (4:17)
6). White Light Suicide (5:17)
7). Democracy (3:49)
8). Dystopia (6:47)
9). Dead End (12:11)
bonus track (on CD version)
10). By Your Definition (5:12)

Release Date: September 25, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Speed walking down the street / speed pacing around the room while muttering angrily about the government/current state of society.

More info

Better reviews:
The Obelisk
Fast n Bulbous
Dr Doom

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