Thursday, 28 February 2013

Giza - Future Ruins (album review)

artwork by Shepard Hall.
Over the border under cover of darkness and about two hours drive down the I-5 lives a band called Giza.  They're a new band, having formed just a wink under a year ago, but their sound is as ancient as the growl of the fifteen foot high bear stalking just outside the protective shelter of the caves of our ancestors.  At the same time their visions and scope are as futuristic as our post-apocalyptic descendants huddled in the cave-like remnants of a cold gray, rain-soaked office building.

'Future Ruins' is as accurate an album title as one might come across.  Minimalist tendencies throughout the disc forewarn of a coming era without hope, without a future.  This is the soundtrack of the choked off end of the thread of history.  The destructive waves unleashed by this trio do their best to hasten the cataclysm.

At ten minutes in length with minimal variation to build up the song, "Seance" becomes a study in dynamics. Chiefly constructed in droney atmospherics, chord phrasing provides the only real changes.  Ringing notes are offset by roaring chords making for powerful moments.  This is what Giza does: they let the beast roar.  They do it every chance they get.  They do it often and they do it well.  Oppressive waves of distortion and drum rolls hammer away any hope of salvation from an onslaught that has less to do with the outer world than it does the inner.

It's not until we get to "Hour of the Bullfight" some 15+ minutes in to this 30 minute disc that we get our first taste of anything that even approaches the melodic.  Up to that point the listener is content to be crunched beneath a mountain of slow and heavy rubble.  "Hour of the Bullfight" just may be one of the most dynamic songs of the bunch and has a lot to say in terms of heavy and melodic interplay.  The song evokes an imaginary past when native peoples would approach the river for a drink, the forest their only backdrop.  Flash forward to an all-but certain future (thus spoke Giza) wherein the remnants of humanity will have no hope of a clean drink in these polluted modern rivers.  The song begins as the picture of beauty amongst the heavy backdrop of the first half of the album and is eventually asphyxiated by relentless doses of sludge.

Artwork by Shepard Hall.
From the hopelessness emerges a "Great Leader" with a very battle oriented sound.  The song is characterized by a catchy drum riff on the toms and the feeling of sirens brought about by bended strings.  It's a darkly humorous look at humanity's apparent 'need' for leadership and how those who would aspire to leadership would only lead the remnants of humanity down that same dark path again, utterly stamping out humanity once and for all.

Through the somber overtone of the album, Giza tap into that rich vein of mid-winter pacific northwest nastiness.  It's never too, too cold but the dark gray, constantly drizzling skies create sun-starved feelings of isolation.  And the slums!  Gray skies above lush forests choked off violently by pitted pavement and crumbling gray buildings such as in Tacoma or Everett in Washington state, or New Westminster or Abbotsford in Canada makes for boredom, depression and frustration in measured doses.  Giza's music is obsessed by that evil spirit, the ghost of cave bears past transported to a resource depleted future where every neighbor is an enemy and every man, woman and child is somebody else's opportunity.  Actually, it doesn't sound all that 'futuristic' at all, sounds suspiciously like the world of today.  (This is that Planet of the Apes moment where the reviewer finally realizes where he has been all along.)

Highlights include: "Great Leader" and "Hour of the Bullfight"

Rating: 3.5/5

Total Run Time: 30:34

Steve Becker-Bass
Richard Burkett-Guitar
Trent McIntyre-Drums

From: Seattle, Washington

Genre: Drone, Sludge, Instrumental

Reminds me of: Cable comics, X-Men: Days of Future Past storyline, Nonsun

Release Date: December 12, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Beware.

Better Reviews:
Temple of Perdition
Born Again Nihilist
Ech(((o)))es And Dust
The Obelisk

Giza Stereokiller site
Giza facebook
Giza twitter
Giza on Encyclopedia Metallum

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Midnight Zombie Alligator - Nova Sico (album review)

'Nova Sico' is a six song, 52 minute concept album centered around the experiences of a zombie apocalypse survivor.  The concept behind the album has been adapted into a written story called Alpha i Omega by friend of the band Sergi G. Oset.  This project is fully immersed in art and creativity and is given greater life outside of itself by the written word and also by the moving picture Corpus Earthling, a 23 minute mini-epic directed by Midnight Zombie Alligator (MZA) vocalist, drummer and keyboardist Alejandro Moreno.  More than a simple music video, Corpus Earthling tells the tale of Alpha i Omega and 'Nova Sico' taking the work from the status of a static album to that of a dynamic and fluid multi-media project, in fact the video features surprisingly little in common musically with the album making it more of an addition to the overall project than a rehashing in a different format.

The album starts off, ballsily enough with three songs that tip the scales at over ten minutes a piece.  "Colourful Darkness" takes the mood of opening titles music from a zombie movie and expands upon it.  The opening piano figure perfectly captures the somber mood of a horror flick, supported by synthesized strings, cymbal swells and ethereally haunting guitar.  At ten minutes, it's an unusually long intro, but there's nothing really usual about this record altogether.  "Cuerno Meseta" begins to open things up in a stoner rock direction while still retaining that old horror flick sensibility with a slow but catchy riff that drones relentlessly.  Ten minutes into this twelve minute track, the listener finally hears Moreno's voice for the first time.  After twenty minutes of instrumental music, we get our first taste of Moreno's perfectly suited slightly smoked-out voice and penchant for catchy melody.

The reverb-drenched title track spans eleven minutes of its own and encapsulates the feeling of unsheltered terror in the night while retaining a slow stoner doom sensibility.  "Taste My Flesh" moves in those rarified circles known as 'anthems', if there ever were one for zombie victims, this is it and that's for sure!  A more than satisfying riff with a catchy chorus and a simple message that's easy enough for anybody to understand: that's an anthem alright.  The next track "Corpus Earthling" continues the more traditional stoner rock tone and sticks out like a sore thumb, it being the only real basic, three-minute song on the whole album, it is also the only track to veer away from the somber mood / midtempo pace.  It's the 'action scene' of the album, if you will.

The band returns to the key-laden soundtrack feel on the final track "Patient Zero", only this time with vocals.  I can't say this piano-driven ballad will appeal to every stoner / doom fan, but it does fit with the album and the story, completing the tale.  It also builds slowly to an epic Led Zeppelin by the seaside kind of feeling.  I don't want to tell you how the story ends but I think it's somewhat up to interpretation if you haven't read the accompanying narrative or seen the video.  There's no surprise ending or sound effects in the music, but there's a subtle tone to the final riff which should send the shivers a rattling the spine.

Don't be swayed by hipsters, zombies are still cool and always have been, no matter how long they've been trending.  As Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolfman before them, Zombies are now a staple of the culture.  Recently, members of the Canadian government discussed "what if" scenarios about a zombie holocaust, treating the House of Parliament as a comedy club.  When you remember that the government owns about a quarter or a third of your TIME and LABOR, depending on how much money you make,  and that that time and labor pays the salaries of these clowns it's very upsetting.  In an odd way, the lines between entertainment and reality are blurring more and more.  I for one thought we'd have seen the peak of that blurring with the rise of so-called "reality TV", but I suppose the movement continues to escalate.  What was once diversion has now become fodder for parliamentary discussion.  On the other hand, the lines that once divided, categorized and segregated different forms of media is blurred by Midnight Zombie Alligator and this is an orgy of creativity that is very welcome.

Like 'The Wall' or 'Tommy' before it, 'Nova Sico' is a true concept album, not a collection of regular songs that happen to tell a longer story, but a narrative with a strong sensitivity towards storytelling built with atmosphere and also long on hooks.

Highlights include: "Taste My Flesh" and "Cuerno Meseta"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 51:59

Alejandro Moreno: Vocals, Drums, Keyboards
David Trillo: Guitars, Vocals
Toni Pérez: Bass, Choirs

From: Barcelona, Spain

Genre: Stoner, Psychedelic, Prog

Reminds me of: Goblin, Pink Floyd, Zombi 2

Release Date: November 30, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Find the cure within.

Better Review:

*special thanks to Sludgelord for introducing me to MZA via this review

MZA official website
MZA facebook

Doom Charts for 02/27/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Matterhorn (Egypt / Become The Sun)
  2. Digging Down [The Hole Part One … From Deep Below] (Black Space Riders / Light is the New Black)
  3. Kali Maa (Veracrash / My Brother The Godhead)
  4. A Criminal Mind (Cpt. Kronos / The Invocation EP)
  5. Hate Humans (The Mangled Dead / Hate Humans)
  6. Carry You Away (Neon Warship / ST)
  7. Bald Bull (Gozu / The Fury of a Patient Man)
  8. Lava (Deville / Hydra)
  9. Parado (The Heavy Eyes / Maera)
  10. Deja Vu (The Gentlemen Bastards / ST)
  11. Taste My Flesh (Midnight Zombie Alligator / Nova Sico)
  12. Trapped In The Past (Space Mushroom Fuzz / single)
  13. Awakened Dream (Palace in Thunderland / Stars, Dreams, Seas)
  14. Same Old Story (The Brimstone Days / On A Monday Too Early To Tell)
  15. Earth Rocker (Clutch / Earth Rocker)
  16. Onyx and Obsidian (Black Pyramid / Adversarial)
  17. The Wallowing Wizard (Atragon / single)
  18. Seed (Sautrus / Kuelmaggah Mysticism: The Prologue)
  19. Pony (Geezer / Handmade Heavy Blues)
  20. Aphrodites Child (Seamount / IV Earthmother)
  21. Night of the Dancing Witch [vocal version f./ C.Poupoutsi] (Talis / GLOT)
  22. Blind (March The Desert / ST)
  23. The Observer (Zosimos / ST)
  24. Troubled Rose / Frozen Eyes (Hornss / The Red Death)
  25. The Humble Titan (Ice Dragon / single)
No outgoing songs

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Sideburn - IV Monument (album review)

The cliche of the times is to lump every Swedish band into some mystical bag of retroness, typically some sound of the seventies seems to seep into the affair.  Whether fair or accurate or not, it is probably due to the reviewer's expectations of the country's musical exports that that label is constantly applied.  But doesn't some measure of seventies sound find it's way into every rock song in some form or other?  Relatively few bands actually try to emulate the sound of the seventies, for the most part, I think it just happens that way when bands opt for a stripped down / back to basics rock sound.  Which is what many bands were trying to do in the dawning days of the post-psychedelic era seventies in response to progressive tendencies and technical extravagances.

So with all that out of the way as a set up, let it be known right now that Sideburn is not one of those retro rock bands.  Sure, there's a vapor of seventies in the air as you'll find on any heavy guitar based album, but Sideburn is different.  There is some feeling of eighties and nineties as well, sure, but this is an individualistic band with an individualistic identity.  Their sound can almost be described as stripped down metal with absolutely devastatingly heavy guitar tone, used masterfully by Morgan Zocek and Jani Kataja, especially when played menacingly slow (see "Fire And Water").  When they play fast they are stone hard, high and tough, when they play it slow they are absolutely magmatic.

Bassist Martin Karlsson and drummer Fredrik Haake are not to be left out of the discussion either.  Karlsson's virtuosic performance and lively grooves are the true backbone of every song on the record and Haake performs out of his skull on all nine tracks, delivering quality beats with character every single time  out even while so much is asked of him in terms of the varied tempos and twists and turns in each of the compositions.

As the cliche crushers that they are, Zocek and Kataja don't simply do the heavy all day long.  They can wax poetic with the acoustic strings as well on "Silverwing" a midtempo hopper in the spirit of 'Zeppelin IV' or even some hidden gem off 'Splendor Solis' era Tea Party.  This song had a profound effect on me as it just brought me back to lazy days, younger days, days when we were free.  The whole album was like that really, and I think I know how that profound effect is achieved.  In a word, "effort".  Melodic vocals are not an afterthought, but a major contributor to the success of the album, songs like "The Saviour", "Tomorrows Dream" and title track "Monument" are testament to this.  This is what a talented singer (in the form of Kataja) can do for a band.  Variegated styles and guitar sounds also give this record the feel of a classic album.  Don't get me wrong, I go for records that have a consistent feel and sound, probably more than the next guy.  Sometimes bands try to punch outside their weight class and do too much on a single record.  That's simply not the case here.  Sideburn is an extremely talented group and they get the job done of crafting a dynamic album with many different shades and sounds.

This is truly a fantastic record.  Even the 'power ballad' of the record "Crossing The Lines" is excellent.  Typically, the slower songs are the ones I tune out but I see this one as a "sittin' on the porch in the spring time drinking a beer watching the sunset" kind of number, it's got a great feel.

At the end of the day, I'm really glad I got to know 'Sideburn IV - Monument'.  It's got moments of caterwauling hard rock, ballad-y songs that don't waste time and molten doom in the form of songs like "Fire and Water" and "The Last Day".  But more than that, being a child of the grunge / Pantera nineties who was raised on classic rock and metal there's something about this record that really speaks to me.  And that's not to contradict my opening spiel, this is not strictly a throwback record in terms of sound, the old references aren't slavishly reproduced, they are lovingly revitalized in a whole new light.

Highlights include: "Silverwing" and "Tomorrows Dream"

Rating: 4.5/5

1). Diamonds (6:04)
2). Fire and Water (6:09)
3). Tomorrows Dream (4:07)
4). Crossing The Lines (6:25)
5). The Last Day (7:05)
6). Silverwing (7:27)
7). The Saviour (6:52)
8). Bring Down The Rain (5:11)
9). Monument (7:44)
Total Run Time: 56:59

Morgan Zocek - Guitar, Background vocals
Jani Kataja - Lead vocals, Guitar
Martin Karlsson - Bass, Organ, Background vocals
Fredrik Haake - Drums, Percussion

From: Stockholm, Sweden

Genre: Rock, Metal, Traditional Doom, Stoner

Reminds me of: Black Label Society, Down, Grand Magus, Led Zeppelin, Mage, Mos Generator, Tea Party, Terra Firma

Release Date: October 3, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Springtime at dusk, crack a beer and rock out.

Better Reviews:
Stoner Hive
Cosmic Lava
Metal Kaoz

Sideburn on facebook


Monday, 25 February 2013

Void of Sleep - Tales Between Reality And Madness (album review)

Void of Sleep's debut full-length album is a chaos theory mind-twister.  Storm clouds roll in vertically and fall to thundercrack the ground.  Oceans solidify and crawl inward to land, swallowing all in their collective paths.  Melodic, crunchy and mathy, sometimes all at once, Void of Sleep take everything you know about heavy music and bend the hell out of what's straight, and straighten out what's bent.  They vivisect and stitch everything together sideways.  Void of Sleep will not be content until all genre delineations have been absorbed and incorporated into a single, hideous, hunch-backed, multi-limbed, writhing and agonized mass.

There are so many styles and sides on display here it courts ridiculousness to attempt to touch on all of them, I doubt there's even room for such a mad dash in this post, but it is worthy to say that despite the deluge of ideas, a single, cohesive vision emerges.  They are creatively restless but focused.  This is no crazy quilt but an incredibly complex and truly stunning tapestry of melody, aggression, mathematics and precision.  Rarely do these elements actually come together but there are glimpses of angry and precise melodic mathematics.

It would all be a little too pat for there to be any one song that unveils all of what Void of Sleep has to offer, the reality is there's too much for any one song.  The various sounds and styles the band has are diffused across the measure of the disc, but two songs that give the best idea of what the band are about are "The Great Escape of the Giant Stone Man" and "Blood on My Hands".  The former is an odd fantasy tale with an incredibly catchy chorus, guaranteed to stick to the roof of your mind like peanut butter.  The song breaks down and enters a black hole of atmospherics only to re-emerge floating in a Kirby-esque extradimensional patchwork about halfway through.  Somehow the band McGiver's a space ship back to the main theme by duct taping together stray bits of melody and land with only a few self-inflicted bruises.  The band struts away from the wreckage as onlookers are left stunned.  "Blood on My Hands" is the album opener.  It starts off safely enough with a cool stoner riff but soon the aggro chorus and herky-jerky nature of the music gives the impression that this is going to be a Pantera-like technical groove metal album seen through weed tinted goggles.  It's an impression that's not off the mark ... some of the time.  But by the end of the second track "Wisdom of Doom" that initial impression is left drained, dismembered and curing on the laboratory floor.

There are so many whiffs and hints of great bands and musicians here that a short list of reference points should give the reader an idea of the scope of this album: Alice in Chains, Led Zeppelin, John Entwistle, Behold! The Monolith to name a select few.  This is one of those bands that either everybody who listens will find something to love about them, or it will totally polarize listeners.  Those that fall in love with this album will do so diving head first and those that don't will run, not walk in the opposite direction.  But I don't think that will be the case, I think the first scenario will more likely be the case.  Every metal fan, every rock fan, every true music lover should find something very appealing about this album and by the end Void of Sleep should have at least earned the listener's respect.

Void of Sleep's recombinant and hybridized 'visionary sludge' is a revelation, catchy while challenging, accessible yet obscure.  The cover says it all really, it's simultaneously esoteric and specific, speaking to both the magi and the uninitiated.

Highlights include: "The Great Escape Of The Giant Stone Man" and "Ghost of Me"

Rating: 4/5

1). Blood On My Hands (5:25)
2). Wisdom Of Doom (7:08)
3). The Great Escape Of The Giant Stone Man (6:44)
4). Lost In The Void (8:32)
5). Ghost Of Me (6:21)
6). Mirror Soul Sickness (5:52)
7). Sons Of Nothing (5:37)
Total Run Time: 45:34

Gale - Guitar & Backing Vocals
Allo - Drums
Paso - Bass
Burdo - Vocals & Guitar

From: Ravenna, Italy

Genre: Sludge, Experimental, Prog, Psychedelic

Reminds me of: Lord Summerisle, Opeth, Rush, Under the Sun, Voltron, -(16)-

Release Date: January 21, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Burning orange clouds rain ones and zeros down from blackened skies spreading a terrible and fatal disease of ill-logic.

Better Reviews:
Heavy Planet
Stoner Hive
Rock Freaks

Sludgelord interview

Void of Sleep on Facebook
Further browsing



Sunday, 24 February 2013

Rogue Transmissions - Demons, Fairies & Wailing Guitars: The Best 100 Obscured Rock Acts 1968-1976 by Ra'anan Chelled (book review)

Book reviews aren't the kind of thing normally done on music blogs, but one book deserves special mention due to its thoroughly researched excellence and its relevance.

Demons, Fairies & Wailing Guitars is a guide to 100 of the best underground bands from around the world whose first recordings fell between the years 1968-76.  More than a simple list, author Ra'anan Chelled provides insight, opinion and detailed biographies on each entry and outdoes himself by scoring multiple interviews with many of the featured artists.  Some of my personal favorite bands profiled in the book are C.A. Quintet, Leaf Hound and Blue Cheer, all of whom I've written about on this blog.  So of course, the first thing I did when this book came in the mail was to flip to those entries to compare notes.  Mr. Chelled has a wonderful power to turn an unexpected phrase and his literary powers are made all the more exceptional when you realize that English is not his native language.  It's a wonderful thing when non-English speaking writers have a fresh take on the language and discover many uncovered nuances of the language, normally hidden from native speakers due to lazy thinking and taking their own verbal heritage for granted, it's just human nature.

Some of the more familiar bands to PH readers covered in the book include Captain Beyond, Hawkwind, Budgie, Pentagram, Cactus and Sir Lord Baltimore.  But really, the beauty of a book like this isn't necessarily in reading about the bands you already know and love, although it's certainly interesting to do so and learn a bit more about those bands, it's about discovery.  Every band in this book is worth checking out.  The second thing I did when the book came in was I flipped to the back index and looked up the references to Black Sabbath and without half trying discovered a new favorite band of the period, one by the unambiguous name of Bang.  They play a garage thrashy seventies style of hard rock, bordering on proto-metal and even proto-doom, they are well worth checking out.  Other of my favorite bands with their own entries are Arzachel, The Churchills, Gandalf, The Open Mind, The Plastic Cloud and Tomorrow.

Each entry is between two and nine pages long with discography and lineup information and Chelled goes out of his way to include other references in "If You Dig:" and "Loved It? Try Also:" sections at the front and back of each profile featuring a whole host of other bands not covered in the book, but these lists are also essential in one's trolling through the backbins of time.

The book is illustrated throughout with band photos, fliers and album covers and of course, for lovers of lists there is a section of lists in the back section.  This book is altogether essential reading for anybody interested in underground psychedelic rock and hard rock from the original psychedelic era for the worlds that it opens and makes a beautiful companion piece to any music lover's collection.

Demons, Fairies & Wailing Guitars may be the best book on the subject of underground psychedelic rock since the trio of books compiled by Vernon Joynson (Fuzz, Acid & Flowers [U.S.], The Tapestry of Delights [U.K.] and Dreams, Fantasies & Nightmares [CA, AUS & NZ and S.A.]) in the late nineties, and those were really more encyclopedias but were really comprehensive.  Chelled gives prominent credit to those publications in his Foreword.  I often wonder how future generations will view this underground world of stoner rock / doom metal twenty or forty years down the road and I suspect it will be with the same reverence some of us music nerds view that wonderful period of psychedelic / hard rock from the period 1968-1976.  I can hardly wait for the re-issues, the bonus tracks, the unearthed treasures and compilations and the books like Demons, Fairies & Wailing Guitars.

The print run of this book is limited to a hundred copies and each one is signed and numbered by the author himself.

Rating: 5/5

Page Count: 501 pgs

From: Tel Aviv, Israel

Genre: Non-fiction, Music, Psychedelic, Hard Rock, Prog, Krautrock

Reminds me of: Tapestry of Delights,

Release Date: January 23, 2013

Suggested reading activity for fellow non-stoners: Sit in a tree and freak out the squares, man!




Message the author Ra'anan Chelled on Facebook

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Hour of Power 02/23/13 (playlist)

Once again, maybe the best HoP yet.  A whole bunch of new videos and new songs premiered this week but not Ice Dragon's "Season of Decay". This fan made video was made a couple weeks ago but was uploaded to youtube just this week so it starts this week's playlist.  The release of Beastwood's 'Alabama Space Witch' is right around the corner so what better way to commemorate the occasion than by showing the brand new video clip of the opening song, "Galactic Bison"?  Kadavar's "All Our Thoughts" video was shot on a phone camera and took roughly half a year to edit.  Now we reap the benefits of all that hard work.  The Brimstone Days shoot all of their music videos in a single camera / single take fashion with no need for lengthy editing sessions, their new one premiered this week and it is memorable.  Australian paisley pop psych outfit Ride Into The Sun have a new single coming out soon, the video for "Hunt Like Wolves" is actually a couple weeks old but slipped under the radar until it showed up in my inbox.  Great stuff.  As is Newcastle-Upon-Tyne quintet Druganaut's compelling album teaser video "Sober Again".  Pittsburgh doom veterans Dream Death's new album comes out the same day as Beastwood's, February 26, and they have released the song "Feast" as a preview which, judging from comments, is catching on like wildfire, much as it should.  As always the Hour of Power is rounded out by highlights of the week's posts, great songs from Palm Desert, DemonAuta, Aleph Null, Crag Dweller, Black Overdrive and Hellryde Inc., in that order.  Maybe a bit static with the imagery but the soundtrack is guaranteed to get your blood moving.  Thanks to all the musicians, readers and browsers for making this another terrific week at PH!

  1. Season of Decay (Ice Dragon / single) 2012
  2. Galactic Bison (Beastwood / Alabama Space Witch) 2013
  3. All Our Thoughts (Kadavar / ST) 2012
  4. What Do You Want (The Brimstone Days / On a Monday Too Early To Tell) 2012
  5. Hunt Like Wolves (Ride Into The Sun / single) 2013
  6. Sober Again (Druganaut / TBA) 2013
  7. Feast (Dream Death / Somnium Excessum)2013
  8. Acid Phantom (Palm Desert / Rotten Village Sessions) 2013
  9. Hacia el 6to Sol (DemonAuta / Caminando en la Luna) 2013
  10. Mars Father (Aleph Null / Belladonna EP) 2013
  11. Gotta Have It (Crag Dweller / Magic Dust) 2012
  12. Misery Mountain (Black Overdrive / ST) 2012
  13. Piss Me Off (Hellryde Inc. / Hellryde Incorporated) 2012

Doom Charts for 02/23/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Matterhorn (Egypt / Become The Sun)
  2. Bald Bull (Gozu / The Fury of a Patient Man)
  3. Lava (Deville / Hydra)
  4. Kali Maa (Veracrash / My Brother The Godhead)
  5. Same Old Story (The Brimstone Days / On A Monday Too Early To Tell)
  6. Digging Down [The Hole Part One … From Deep Below] (Black Space Riders / Light is the New Black)
  7. A Criminal Mind (Cpt. Kronos / The Invocation EP)
  8. Hate Humans (The Mangled Dead / Hate Humans)
  9. Parado (The Heavy Eyes / Maera)
  10. Deja Vu (The Gentlemen Bastards / ST)
  11. Trapped In The Past (Space Mushroom Fuzz / single)
  12. Awakened Dream (Palace in Thunderland / Stars, Dreams, Seas)
  13. Carry You Away (Neon Warship / ST)*
  14. Earth Rocker (Clutch / Earth Rocker)
  15. The Wallowing Wizard (Atragon / single)
  16. Pony (Geezer / Handmade Heavy Blues)
  17. Aphrodites Child (Seamount / IV Earthmother)
  18. Taste My Flesh (Midnight Zombie Alligator / Nova Sico)
  19. Onyx and Obsidian (Black Pyramid / Adversarial)
  20. Night of the Dancing Witch [vocal version f./ C.Poupoutsi] (Talis / GLOT)
  21. Seed (Sautrus / Kuelmaggah Mysticism: The Prologue)*
  22. The Observer (Zosimos / ST)
  23. Troubled Rose / Frozen Eyes (Hornss / The Red Death)
  24. Blind (March The Desert / ST)*
  25. The Humble Titan (Ice Dragon / single)
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
Set In Stone (Three Seasons / Understand The World)
Deserted Planet 2078 (Deep Space Destructors / II)
It Comes From The Mist (Wheelfall / Interzone)
Receive It (Megachurch / Megachurch 2: Judgment Day)

Top 25 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Egypt - Become the Sun
  2. Neon Warship - ST
  3. Year of the Goat - Angels' Necropolis
  4. Wheelfall - Interzone
  5. Dryasdust - ST Demo
  6. Slow Heart - Dead Friends and Angry Lovers
  7. Cpt. Kronos - The Invocation EP
  8. The Heavy Eyes - Maera
  9. The Gentlemen Bastards - ST
  10. Crag Dweller - Magic Dust
  11. Aleph Null - Belladonna EP
  12. Wheelfall / A Very Old Ghost Behind The Farm - split album
  13. Palm Desert - Rotten Village Sessions
  14. Spacefog - Purple Void
  15. Deep Space Destructors - II
  16. DemonAuta - Caminando en la Luna EP
  17. Stone Machine Electric - ST
  18. From Beyond - The Color Out of Space EP
  19. Palace in Thunderland - Stars, Dreams, Seas
  20. Blue Aside - The Moles of a Dying Race
  21. Veracrash - My Brother The Godhead
  22. Arkham Witch - Legions of the Deep
  23. Alunah - White Hoarhound
  24. Greenleaf - Nest of Vipers
  25. Chains - Of Death

Thursday, 21 February 2013

DemonAuta - Caminando en la Luna (album reviews)

Arriving highly recommended by their countrymen, the superlative At Devil Dirt, Chilean trio Demonauta dropped their second EP in January and the world is a fuzzier place for their effort.  Three guys (David, Miguel Angel & Ale) dedicated to high powered fuzz rock.  Grooving canola oil slick bass lines, pounding drums and more guitar and vocal effects than one may shake a stick at define the DemonAuta sound, which is experimental while at the same time focused like a laser beam.

DemonAuta is classic fuzz / stoner rock, driving and melodic with warm breezes of intensity.  David Veliz's guitar tone is fat, full-bodied fuzz, bordering in places on pure static amplified and manipulated into musical notes and chords as on opener "Hacia el 6to Sol".  The sound is experimented on, refined, explored and re-imagined throughout the EP's entire span with generous dollops of phasing and reverb among other effects.  Even at five songs and 23 minutes there's simply no shortage of ideas, Veliz is never content to stay static, just to sound like actual static.  His vocals are all in Spanish and are sugary in tone but spit with venom.

That thrust toward the explorative is apparent in the songs themselves.  While they are all characterized by The Fuzz tone and pounding rhythms laid down by Alejandro Sanhueza, each song has its own distinct flavor.  Some of the best moments on this EP arrive when Miguel Quezada's bass fuzz carries the day, allowing Veliz to graze in more melodic pastures.  In those moments, Quezada becomes the hero holding the fort as Veliz takes flight as in "Al Viento Entender" and "Hotel".

Instrumental title track "Caminando en la Luna" translates into English as "Walking on the Moon" and that's the exact feeling of the song.  Somehow, the slightly more laidback vibe and the squealing guitars transport the listener to that great silver orb in the sky, exploring some of the same musical territory first staked out by Joe Meek on his classic 'I Hear a New World' album.

The EP is split as evenly as five songs can be between lyrical and instrumental numbers, sequenced as lyric-instrumental-lyric, etc.  The band almost sound more comfortable on the instrumental numbers, the songs are less controlled and more free and open, that much should be obvious, but there seems to be a higher comfort level when there's no lyrics 'holding them back' to freely explore their sonic worlds.  (Aside from the aforementioned title track, the other instrumental is "Camaleon")

This is a great band, each of the three guys steal the show in different parts and come together to make a large and distinctive sound.  It's the kind of group where the listener could imagine any one of them being the star attraction in any other outfit or going on to mega solo success but collectively they bring it all together perfectly.

Each song can be downloaded for free by clicking the download link on the player below.

Highlights include: "Camaleon" and "Hacia el 6to Sol"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 23:17

From: Santiago, Chile

Genre: Stoner, Fuzz Rock, Desert Rock, Moon Rock

Reminds me of: At Devil Dirt, Blue Cheer, Chilean Fuzz comp. groups

Release Date: January 22, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Lovecraftian winged blobs flit by in the upper atmosphere of the Blue Area of the Moon.  It's then you realize you should have worn heavier boots.

DemonAuta Bandcamp
DemonAuta facebook

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Crag Dweller - Magic Dust (album review)

From the artistic haven of Portland, Oregon reside three Crag Dwellers bent on unleashing rugged waves of rhythmic punishment and scorching blasts of guitar accelerated pyrotechnia.  A Crag Dweller sounds like some kind of mountain troll, one with enough burl and brawn to confront Conan the barbarian himself (The trollish crag dweller would still lose the fight unless he was wise enough to join Conan in his unending quest for regency and good times, and what a soundtrack that crag dweller would devise for the Cimmerian's adventures).  Seventies grooves and early eighties shredding combine to convince heathens and "True Believer"s alike that YES! Rock & Roll does save!  Rock & Roll IS the answer!  An album like this should be the new DSM-approved prescription to treat depression and lethargy.

The Conan reference is not by accident as this band possesses much axe-swinging appeal.  Not in the Conan (the band) or Gates of Slumber way, but closer to High on Fire's caveman brand of rock and definitely through a seventies looking glass.  The lasting impression this album will leave on listeners is the high energy and swagger the band possesses.  The energy doesn't necessarily come from speed, though most of the album's 34 minutes are spent uptempo, it comes from the momentum of the performances, the feel of a riff sliding into a quick solo then back again, building songs organically in layers which build precariously.  This is downhill running music, snowball sounds, pyroclastic flows of molten ash metal.

Throughout the affair, Crag Dweller find a way to keep the energy levels high ... and then up the ante.  The band set new standards for excellence for guitar based music and leave one asking the question of every other band, "yeah, but can you shred?"  Crag Dweller guitarist / vocalist Rich Vivarelli can and often does, throwing down at a moment's notice.  Opening track "Chrononaut" is an absolute scorcher and is an excellent showcase of what the band can accomplish in just over five minutes.  Wasn't there a Twilight Zone or something where someone had a camera that took pictures of the past?  Well if not, there should have been, but anyway, that's what Crag Dweller is like.  It's like a snapshot of the moment Judas Priest and AC/DC fans discovered the raw and visceral speed of punk.  "So Far, So Good, So What ..." and "Gotta Have It" are further uptempo highlights, the former providing perhaps the catchiest chorus of the affair while the former packs a ton of momentum and energy.

The band has some slower, groovier material on showcase though.  "The Gate" is a doom-y track, akin to High on Fire's well-known take on the genre while "Madness" also finds the band getting their slow groove on, highlighted by bass / vocalist Cliff Martin's solid lead.

Though the disc itself is on the short side of the time ledger, Crag Dweller take their time with their compositions, never rushing through a song.  Four of the seven tracks break the five minute barrier and each track feels fleshed out and complete, built in ever thickening layers of shredding guitar and pounding and rolling rhythms.  Drummer Travis Clow finds perhaps his best showcase in close-out track "Motel Burnout", a dynamic song with varying tempos punctuated by searing leads and pauses.

Crag Dweller have amassed seven blistering tracks to melt the air guitar in your very hands and they call it 'Magic Dust'.  Everything, from the killer and slightly mysterious artwork by Adam Burke on down is a confirmation that everything about Rock is king.  Crag Dweller have tapped in to that mystical era of when I was young and metal was fairly young too and the sweaty and burning-eared excitement of running around my uncles' basement suite listening to records and freaking out, not intellectualizing it, but feeling the music, letting it possess me.

Highlights include: "Chrononaut" and "Gotta Have It"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 34:43

From: Portland, Oregon

Genre: Hard Rock, Stoner, Old School Metal

Reminds me of: AC/DC, Harvester, Saviors, Thin Lizzy

Release Date: November 27, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Start from a sharp, jutting and rocky outcrop and strut as giants would strut, across mountain tops.

Better Reviews:
Ride With The Devil

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Aleph Null - Belladonna EP (album review)

From wikipedia:
Atropa belladonna or Atropa bella-donna, commonly known as Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the familySolanaceae, native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. The foliage and berries are extremely toxic, containing tropane alkaloids. These toxins include scopolamine and hyoscyamine which cause a bizarre delirium and hallucinations.
Such is the direction German trio Aleph Null has taken with their latest release, 'Balladonna', their second EP in just under a full year.  A quick word of warning, Aleph Null's latest contains and emits scopolamine and hyoscyamine upon listening.  This is clear in the head-swimmingly whiplash-like-effect on the breakdowns and is apparent in the video for "Belladonna Wreath".  But this isn't your hippie grandpappy's trip, this trip is potentially deadly to your health.

Walls melt and carpets swirl on "Belladonna Wreath", rhythms bounce and amphibious guitars breathe lysergic acid leading directly into "Mars Father".  There's been a slight, ever so subtle attitude adjustment in the Aleph Null camp.  The music has become decidedly more hallucinogenic in form and structure and in tone this second time around.  Take the ending of "Mars Father" for example.  The crushing heavy guitar tone of the Dale EP remains intact but there is a pronounced trip factor here that was not emphasized on their previous effort.  Feedback drones atop a thick and evilly deep bass groove before the rest of the band return for a slow jam.  Mournful and distorted vocals paint a picture of eternal despair.  Then, the band slows things down another notch and the listener gets motion sickness just lying there watching the ceiling breathe.

Yuri Gagarin, about to trip out
If there is a thematic overtone to 'Belladonna' it's tripping.  Cosmic tripping.  Like the best Jim Starlin comics it's an exploration of inner space in outer space.  This feeling is exemplified by the instrumental, bridging track "Gagarin", which is an acoustic guitar / synth contemplation.  The famous Russian cosmonaut becomes a symbol for the adventurous spirit willing to explore both worlds.

"Solar Sail" closes out the affair on a seven minute headtrip which I imagine is about the death of the inner life among the masses brought on by worldliness and materialism.  Culturally dead landscapes and office towers like monuments to mankind's lost inner life pass below a fleet of starships navigated by "higher beings" (higher beings sure, but not aliens).  Thankfully the band reproduces their lyrics on their bandcamp page because Philip is one of the more bespoke lyricists in the world today, whose vocabulary will often have the listener reaching for the dictionary.  They're the only band I've ever heard to use the words "patina", "paroxysm" and "megalophobia" in a single song.  Particularly evocative is this section from "Solar Sail":
city skylines
like gravestones veiled in fume
the void in your eyes
orbit electrical gloom

no, we won’t land here
set foot on your “hallowed ground“
for with your fear–withered hands
you choke the oneiric voice to death

solar sail
cosmic freight
we pass you by
towards brighter suns

...where eyes upon the ground we sail unseen...
Aleph Null aren't content to build worlds but instead set their sights on crafting whole cosmoses.  From the bumpy rapids of opener "Belladonna Wreath" to the slow currents of "Solar Sail", Aleph Null set a course for the seat of human consciousness with lysergic torpedoes locked on target, poisoning brain-washed minds with underwater heaviness.

This is one of the most distinctive bands in the underworld of heavy, today.  Dark, ego-destroying psychedelia with bludgeoning power, 'Belladonna' will make hay with fans of sludge, doom, stoner and psychedelic music alike.  The best part of this whole thing is that it's available as a FREE DOWNLOAD on Bandcamp.  Just click the 'Download' link on the player below and go to town.  While you're at it, you might as well grab their excellent 'Dale EP', which is also available for free so if you haven't yet done, meet your new favorite band.

Highlights include: "Belladonna Wreath" and "Mars Father"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 22:38

From: Cologne / Düsseldorf, Germany

Genre: Psychedelic, Sludge, Stoner, Cosmic Rock

Reminds me of: Jim Starlin

Release Date: January 23, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Who needs hallucinogens when you've got Aleph Null?

Better Review:
Dr. Doom's Lair
Metal Observer
Sorrow Eternal

Monday, 18 February 2013

Palm Desert - Rotten Village Sessions (album review)

Rough and red walls thrust upward, reaching with stumped cliffs toward a cloudless sky.  Bone-filled caves, patiently opportunistic carrion buzzards and octopedal insects the only companions to a wind-screamed lonesomeness.  'Rotten Village Sessions' is an evocation of the desert through the medium of the fuzzbox.

While it may or may not be fair to claim that Palm Desert's latest offers nothing new to the genre of fuzz / stoner / desert rock (more on that front later, read on), it is fair to say that they are standing confidently and competently astride the shoulders of giants, having learned their lessons well from the towering figures of the genre.  There ain't nothing wrong with that, not at all.  They have perfectly captured the desert rock sound, including the loose feeling of Kyuss and Desert Sessions albums granting the music an organic quality, as though each composition has a life of its own that the band does not even try to control or stand in the way of.  They are like the classic writers of a bygone age, receiving broadcasts from on high, merely recording divine communications.  Thankfully, Palm Desert's music does not run amok of the band and the songs are generally well behaved.  No section overstays its welcome even while each section of music is fully explored and exploited to fullest effect.

It's worth noting that the album was produced by the band's drummer / manager Kamil Ziolkowski who also does the cover photography and provides additional guitars.  The multi-talented Ziolkowski does a little bit of everything for the band and always seems to deliver the perfect funk-laced beat with the right balance of cymbal crashes.  As producer, always gets the most out of Jan Rutka's bass, whose thick and ropey tones become the focal point of the music, allowing Piotr Lacny's guitar to flow atop and paint pictures.  Ziolkowski is also the drummer for Polish sludge band O.D.R.A., whose 'Karl Denke Blües' album is monstrously good as well.

'Rotten Village Sessions' is full of highlights.  "Damn Good", "Down the Odyssey" and "Acid Phantom" all qualify as such and would be standout tracks on most albums in the genre, but it's the little moments that hook into me.  When I'm looking for something a little older to listen to years down the road, I'll remember this album.  I'll remember the fuzz and the aforementioned ropey bass and the tasteful use of crash but what will really stick out in my memory are the short sketchy interludes "Ghulassa Saloon" and "Orbitean".  I may not remember what they sound like, looking back years from now, but I will remember that they exist, that they are a part of this album, that they were little bursts of creativity that could not be left out of the sequencing.  I'll remember the idea of them and how they contributed immensely to the comfortably loose feel of the album.  These are balanced by the two long songs that bookend the album, "Down the Odyssey" and "White Wolf", all of which help remind the listener not to cage their creations.  If a song wants to be long, let it be long and if a thirty second drum clip finds its way onto the album, let it be.  And if there's still room left, tack on a nice bluesy acoustic riff with a slight country twang to close it out.  This album has a lot to say about how it's done and could be an invaluable lesson to other bands and musicians coming up, just saying.

If stoner / desert rock is what you're looking for, well ... you've just found it.  Palm Desert speak the language of stoner and desert rock fluently.  Kyuss-era Homme-an tone to the guitar and song structures with flights of epic fancy giving a great and greasy, loose feel to the recordings.  They've got cowbell in tasteful supply and floor tom marches with heavy crash.  They've got everything the stoner rocker is looking for and then some.  In the end, it may appear on the surface that Palm Desert's 'Rotten Village Sessions' is a typical stoner album, heavy on the crash and fuzz, paying endless tribute to the greats of the genre, but beneath the desert sand, just under the surface is something truly unique.  It may take some digging, but that something will eventually emerge and stand fully revealed to the listener.  This band has heart and soul and I think it's fair to say that they are standouts within the genre.  This is a terrific album which starts strong and improves with every listen.

Highlights include: "Damn Good" and "Acid Phantom"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 47:31

From: Wrocław, Poland

Genre: Stoner Rock, Desert Rock

Reminds me of: DSW, Kyuss, Routes, The Shooters

Release Date: January 4, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Creating a makeshift desert in your backyard by spilling the sand from the sandbox and/or (unsoiled!) kitty litter, or failing that, evicting the children from the local park and wandering the playground searching hopelessly for water.

Better Review:
Ride With the Devil
Dr. Doom's Lair

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Alchemical Mixture - Annimal Machine, Black Overdrive & Hellryde Inc. (album reviews)

It can be hard to get into a Mexican state of mind when living in or around Vancouver.  Daydreams of hot climes and great food are tempered by 200+ days of rain and fast food chains on every street corner.  But today we're going to try to get there, but not by sheer mental will of effort.  Today we're going to focus on los tres grandes EPs of recent vintage from Mexico by the likes of Annimal Machine, Black Overdrive and Hellryde Inc.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  One listen to any one of these three EPs and I'm sweating my ass off.

The three bands featured here all have different approaches and all sound quite different but they all have one thing in common: they are all "heavy as fuck".

Annimal Machine - ST EP
Highlights include: "Rage" and "Condenado".  From:
Ciudad Guzmán, Jalisco.  Rating: 3.5/5
Annimal Machine is one of the more aggressive stoner bands I've heard, relentlessly attacking their instruments, especially visceral is the heavy hitting of drummer Fat Bastard (who makes the all-name team).  See opening track "Condenado" for evidence of this.  The excitement of the performances really comes across and the band gets into some high powered synergy which is infectious.

While the energy output and aggression levels are high, the band still manages a loose, jamming feel to the three tracks on their EP.  Much like Spelljammer's Vol. II, each of these three songs breaks the 8-minute mark and there's an exploratory feeling.  "A Fistful of Dollars" is a look at the band's slightly more subdued side.  It's slow, especially when compared to "Condenado", but it's not lacking for energy or drive.  It starts off with a good two minute jam before settling into a fairly straight forward structure and a very solid groove.  The final two minutes of the song pick up the energy and excitement level and lead quite well into the true standout track, "Rage".

"Rage" is the final synthesis of what was great about the first two tracks: the heavy hitting instrumental pounding attack and the slower, groovier feel creates a headbanging, blood pumping highlight that simply must be felt and not just heard.  Already my body temperature has gone up two degrees.

The entire affair is laced with a punky 'don't give a shit' attitude and I suspect that the three dudes in the band intuitively 'feel' what they create without overanalyzing it.  Very much a west coast attitude.

Black Overdrive - ST Demo
Highlights include: "War Weather Worshipper" and 
"Soulless".  From: Mexico City.  Rating: 4/5
But due east a-ways, we find Mexico City's Black Overdrive, authors of one of the more promising and exciting recent demos from the underground.  They have a simple message:
Fuck ballads!! Crank it LOUD!!
I, for one, concur, as the sweat collects, beads and falls down my forehead.

Black Overdrive's six song self-titled demo EP is a hard driving and fuzzy kick in the teeth.

Black Overdrive is not the kind of band that paints beautiful pictures with highly complex song structures or atmosphere, their sound is quick and dirty graffiti scrawled on a crumbling wall.  Ripping guitars with the occasional flight of pyrotechnic frenzy and blazing drums create a backdrop for yelled vocals that get their point across needless of melody.

'Black Overdrive' is nothing if not consistent in feel and sound.  And that feel has to do with having one's head in a vice and the sound has to do with the grinding of one's teeth.  It's an intense affair, with no let-up.  Crushing guitars and pedal to the metal drums with the punk ethos prevalent on Annimal Machine's EP flip the bird to big studio magic, hair and makeup bands that are all about quantity over quality.  This is really what ties all the underground bands together throughout the world.  But the question of whether integrity begets quality becomes a chicken and egg thing.

Black Overdrive play what they want and say what  they want, fortunately, what they want is for the best.  "War Weather Worshipper" has already been a hit on the Doom Charts and there's no drop off in quality from there.  Each of the six tracks on their demo EP is killer with a consistent mood (with perhaps the understandable exception of their version of Fu Manchu's "Squash That Fly", although it leads perfectly into "War Weather Worshipper") and casually terrific performances.  There's nothing casual about me at this point, though.  I've got sweat stains on my back and armpits and am hunched over, panting.  But I move forward, ever forward to travel north ...

Hellryde Inc. - Hellryde Incorporated
Highlights include: "Piss Me Off" and "Insomnia".  From:
Monterrey, Nuevo León.  Rating: 4.5/5
Way up north from Mexico City, very nearly at the Texan border we arrive in Monterrey, one of the most highly 'developed' cities in Mexico to listen to the debut EP from one of the country's most highly developed underground bands, Hellryde Inc.

Zakk Wylde-ian guitar squeals and a clean production sound across the board give this EP a kind of sheen that is in stark contrast to Black Overdrive's offering but is no less raw for it.  The power felt on Annimal Machine and Black Overdrive is still dominant here thanks largely to the aggressive performances of Jesús Osuna [Guitar], Guillermo Uribe [Bass] and Javier Arévalo [Drums] and the confident belting of vocalist Edson Lee.

Hellryde Inc. blast through their five songs in just a smidgeon over twenty minutes and it flies by in a  flash.  So many styles and sounds are referenced here that it gives the listener no time to really get settled into the record and become a complacent listener.  Groove metal, southern metal, stoner, doom and heaps of other statements flit by and  in the blink of an eye are splattered across the windshield and quickly forgotten.  It's always time to move on, always time to move forward on this record.  Graveyard visitation feelings abound on "Love is in the Grave".  A nice wavy tall grass sound in the intro and an "I need to go for a drink" vibe in the breakdowns found within the verses bring these feelings to fruition, but the song's brevity gives it an incomplete feel.  Although as I said, they sure do keep things moving at a fast pace in every single way.  Got to keep moving forward, no looking back on the Hellryde lest ye be turned to a pillar of salt, which would no doubt quickly be forgotten and abandoned.

Despite all that, the band manage to invoke a trademark sound and an identity all its own.  Melting tires sliding on hot pavement at night.

So there it is and there they you have it, three EPs, 14 songs and 71 minutes from a trio bands from Mexico that have nothing to do with each other except that they are all hard and heavy and the listening of which will result in a delirium inducing fever.  I see a vision of wavy lines taking shape.  I need to go outside, get some air.  I open the door and ... ah, rain again.  It was all a mirage.

Genre: Stoner, Metal

Release Date: September 1, 2012 (Annimal Machine); November 1, 2012 (Black Overdrive); December 13, 2012 (Hellryde Inc.)

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Take a cold shower or move to Vancouver where cold showers are the norm 250 days of the year.

Better Reviews:
Ride With The Devil Annimal Machine review
Stoner Hive Annimal Machine review
Global Domination Black Overdrive review
Ear Munchies Hellryde Inc review

Hour of Power 02/16/13 (playlist)

Every weekend I post a new Hour of Power and every time I think it's the best one yet.  This week, brand new and great looking official video clips from Year of the Goat, Death SS and Gates of Slumber kick things off in terrific doom-y fashion.  All new songs by Orchid, John Gallow and Black Rainbows highlight the 'middle set' of videos and highlights from the week's (regretfully few) posts close out the affair, including an excellent fan made video for Slow Heart.  Interspersed throughout are clips from The Nice, The Alan Bown! of sixties infamy plus Chains and the Black Sabbath "The Rebel" acetate demo.  Also on the Black Sabbath front and placed carefully somewhere in the middle of the playlist is a three-minute teaser clip of Black Sabbath talking about the new album '13' in the studio.  It makes for an interesting change of pace and goes together beautifully with a brand new clip of Finnish soon-to-be giants, Dryasdust in the studio.  Enjoy!

  1. Spirits of Fire (Year of the Goat / Angels' Necropolis) 2012
  2. Ogre's Lullaby (Death SS / The Darkest Night) 2013
  3. Death March (The Gates of Slumber / Storm Crow EP) 2013
  4. Flower King of Flies (The Nice / The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack) 1967
  5. Wizard of War (Orchid / Wizard of War EP) 2013
  6. Holy Land (John Gallow) 2013
  7. An Inside Look At Black Sabbath in the studio 2013
  8. Finger Sessions (Dryasdust) 2013
  9. C'mon C'mon C'mon (Black Rainbows) 2013
  10. My Girl The Month of May (The Alan Bown / Outward Bown!) 1968
  11. The Rebel (Black Sabbath / acetate) 1969
  12. Alone and Red (Slow Heart / Dead Friends and Angry Lovers) 2012
  13. Of Death (Chains / Of Death) 2012

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Doom Charts for 02/16/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Matterhorn (Egypt / Become The Sun)
  2. Bald Bull (Gozu / The Fury of a Patient Man)
  3. Set In Stone (Three Seasons / Understand The World)
  4. Lava (Deville / Hydra)
  5. Deserted Planet 2078 (Deep Space Destructors / II)
  6. It Comes From The Mist (Wheelfall / Interzone)
  7. Kali Maa (Veracrash / My Brother The Godhead)
  8. Same Old Story (The Brimstone Days / On A Monday Too Early To Tell)
  9. Digging Down [The Hole Part One … From Deep Below] (Black Space Riders / Light is the New Black)
  10. Hate Humans (The Mangled Dead / Hate Humans)
  11. Parado (The Heavy Eyes / Maera)
  12. Deja Vu (The Gentlemen Bastards / ST)
  13. A Criminal Mind (Cpt. Kronos / The Invocation EP)
  14. Trapped In The Past (Space Mushroom Fuzz / single)
  15. Awakened Dream (Palace in Thunderland / Stars, Dreams, Seas)
  16. Pony (Geezer / Handmade Heavy Blues)
  17. Aphrodites Child (Seamount / IV Earthmother)
  18. Taste My Flesh (Midnight Zombie Alligator / Nova Sico)
  19. Onyx and Obsidian (Black Pyramid / Adversarial)*
  20. Night of the Dancing Witch [vocal version f./ C.Poupoutsi] (Talis / GLOT)
  21. Earth Rocker (Clutch / Earth Rocker)*
  22. Receive It (Megachurch / Megachurch 2: Judgment Day)
  23. The Wallowing Wizard (Atragon / single)
  24. The Observer (Zosimos / ST)
  25. Troubled Rose / Frozen Eyes (Hornss / The Red Death)

* New Song

Outgoing songs:
Cool To Hate (Mother Gun / Human EP)
Cosmonautical Mile (Harvester / The Blind Summit Recordings)

Top 25 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Egypt - Become the Sun
  2. Neon Warship - ST
  3. Year of the Goat - Angels' Necropolis
  4. Slow Heart - Dead Friends and Angry Lovers
  5. From Beyond - The Color Out of Space EP
  6. Dryasdust - ST Demo
  7. The Heavy Eyes - Maera
  8. Cpt. Kronos - The Invocation EP
  9. Wheelfall - Interzone
  10. The Gentlemen Bastards - ST
  11. Wheelfall / A Very Old Ghost Behind The Farm - split album
  12. Palace in Thunderland - Stars, Dreams, Seas
  13. Blue Aside - The Moles of a Dying Race
  14. Veracrash - My Brother The Godhead
  15. Abrahma - Through the Dusty Path of Our Lives
  16. Arkham Witch - Legions of the Deep
  17. Alunah - White Hoarhound
  18. Greenleaf - Nest of Vipers
  19. Crag Dweller - Magic Dust
  20. Aleph Null - Belladonna EP
  21. Stone Machine Electric - ST
  22. Palm Desert - Rotten Village Sessions
  23. Spacefog - Purple Void
  24. Mamont - Passing Through the Mastery Door
  25. Chains - Of Death

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Uncanny Mailbag 02/15/13

A look at what came in the mail this week, featuring links, product descriptions and mini-reviews, featuring ...

THE ALAN BOWN - Arkham Witch - DISASTROID - The Nice

THE ALAN BOWN - Outward Bown (1968)

The Alan Bown started out in the mid-sixties from the ashes of the John Barry Seven (yes, THAT John Barry) as a mod/soul band called The Alan Bown Set who released a terrific single called "Emergency 999" in 1966.  But the winds of change were blowing and like most British bands of the time gave themselves body and soul over the psychedelic mores of the time and re-emerged nearly overnight as The Alan Bown!, dropping the 'Set' from their moniker.  At the time 'Outward Bown' was released the band had found a niche as a wimpy toytown pop outfit with singles like "We Can Help You" [written by the original, British Nirvana], "Toyland" and "Story Book" leading the charge for the album's release.  All great songs, but offering no clue as the true power this band had on offer.  A charged-up cover of "All Along The Watchtower" being a prime example of the band at their most powerful.  Somewhat harder edged songs like "Magic Handkerchief" and "My Girl The Month of May" also evinced a further sea change for the band towards a harder edged, proggy sound that would find full blossom on "Movie Star Baby" [written by then current band member Jess Roden], a terrific song that was sadly only recorded as a BBC Session and never officially released.  Interestingly "Penny For Your Thoughts" synthesized the two sides of the band with a fuzz heavy, West Coast / Hendrix raver of a riff during the verse and a wimpy pop chorus that sounds almost George Michael-ish.  Terrible as that sounds, the chorus lasts only two bars and the overall song is really quite excellent.

What this CD re-issue lacks in liner notes (limited to a single paragraph on the back cover), it more than makes up for with its 14 bonus tracks, two more than the original album itself!  I got this CD from Record Heaven and it appears that I grabbed the last copy.  As of right now they're selling the double CD version which includes a mono and stereo mix but not nearly as many extra goodies, including the BBC Sessions.  I'm sure it will be restocked at some point, so keep an eye out on Record Heaven if you're interested because there are many versions of this album and they are all overpriced on Amazon.

Highlights include: "Movie Star Baby [BBC Session]" and "Magic Handkerchief".

Rating: 3.5/5

ARKHAM WITCH - On Crom's Mountain (2011)

By now, everyone's heard Arkham Witch's stellar 'Legions of the Deep' album, but how many have heard 'On Crom's Mountain'?  I'm not sure but I know that when I discovered this band on youtube many months ago this album seemed impossible to get a hold of.  Enter Metal on Metal records and their release of the Keighley quartet's debut on tape, licensed through Mexico's Raw Metal label.  Much like their latest album, 'On Crom's Mountain' is ten tracks of raw guitar-driven, old school metal, the way you remember it and the way you like it.  The cover was redesigned by Jowita Kaminska-Peruzzi of Metal on Metal and connects to the 'Legions of the Deep' artwork and Arkham Witch's next release (not yet released). This item is limited to only 66 copies and costs a mere 6 euros but is also available as a digital download on Arkham Witch's bandcamp.

Here's the original cover artwork, nice but not nearly as nice as Jowita's.

Highlights include: "Battering Ram" and "Viking Pirates of Doom".

Rating: 4.5/5

DISASTROID - Money & Guilt (2012)

Disastroid are a terrific trio out of San Francisco that play an exciting style of stoner rock, reminiscent of a more accurate vision of Queens of the Stone Age's 'Robot Rock'.  This album starts out strong and improves with every listen, each song better than the last and keeps on giving.  I reckon this album came out about half a year ago and I slept on it first time around, only because I never got the chance to hear it for one reason or another, but after reading about them on a blog or two I always kept them on my back-burner list.  It only took one listen to convince me that this was something I needed in my household.

Real basic setup on the physical package, a bare-bones gatefold cardboard sleeve with a photocopied insert small poster / liner notes.  All told, the package will run you 10 dollars on big cartel.  I also got a free Gorilla vs. Robot t-shirt with it.  Win.

Highlights include: "Money & Guilt" and "Fallout".

Rating: 4.5/5

THE NICE - The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack (1968)

This was an album that had been near the top of my to get list for a long time, but I held off because I thought I could find it out there, in the real world.  I was able to find each of the Nice's next three albums used or new in different stores but I could never get my hands on this classic, their debut.  The Nice of course was the band that propelled Keith Emerson to stardom with his manic, knife-wielding stage performances and keyboard wizardry.  The band was completed at this time by three other cats who were no slouches of their own: guitarist Davy O'list, drummer Bruce Davison and bassist Lee Jackson (combining their names formed the fictitious title character Emer-List Dav-Jack, who was also credited with group compositions).

For metal and stoner rock fans there's a couple breath-takingly good proto-metal songs on this album, such as opening track "Flower King of Flies", and especially the bonus track "Azrial (Angel of Death)".  For me, this CD was worth picking up for those two songs alone, but there are other great moments.  Already by this time Emerson had hit upon his trademark sound of bouncing rhythms (see bonus track "Diamond Hard Blue Apples of the Moon") that would later come to define and dominate the sound of not only The Nice but of ELP as well.

Though this album came out when Prog was in its absolute infancy, already the borders between what the new prog bands were doing and that of the psychedelic bands of the era was clearly delineated with this release.  The single "Rondo", "Bonnie K" and "Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack" are all keyboard driven proggy slices of pop and can all be found on the A side of the album.  The B side is experimental in both sound and structure and creates more of a challenging listen.  This CD version comes with 5 bonus tracks including some of the best songs, two already mentioned: "Azrial" and "Diamond Hard Blue Apples ..." as well as "America", which may have been their most popular song.

I got this CD from Amazon seller Rarewaves-CA, on the cheap too.

Highlights include: "Azrial (Angel of Death)" and "Flower King of Flies".

Rating: 4/5

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