Sunday, 30 June 2013

Albino Python - The Doomed and the Damned (album review)

It's been almost a year since Albino Python slithered their way into the peaceful dreams of doomed sleepers with the ridiculously catchy one-off digital track "The Haunter of the Dark".  The late July arrival of the track was a pre-order heralding a larger work slated for a Halloween release.  After some health-related delays, two further songs finally emerged in late November, "Through Dead Black Eyes" and "Black Sunday".  Already by that point the band was showing some different looks.  While their introductory song featured a fairly clean sound, not only from the vocals of Shelly Delbridge but also from an overall low end heavy doom sound from multi-instrumentalist Eric Corder that was as sleek as the skin of the creature the band had taken their name from, the two new songs featured altogether more abrasive textures, from the thorny riffs to the spike studded snarling vocals, the band had taken on more of a sludgy aspect.  Now that the full complement of the six tracks which make up 'The Doomed and the Damned' have been released, it's clear which direction the band is coming from, with Albino Python emerging from the filthiest end of the musical spectrum.

The filthy path they walk is somewhat familiar ground to the two principals here as Delbridge and Corder also make up the depressive black metal duo A Cloud Forest.  "The Haunter of the Dark" is certainly a departure from those shadow-encrusted roots, the remainder of the Albino Python music to have since emerged finds a slightly more balanced approach between the two styles with the relative cleanliness of "Haunter" shucked off like a husk that just didn't fit right, perhaps being too tight and restrictive before ultimately splitting under the pressure.

Of course, that's perhaps missing the point.  Vocally, Delbridge gets more disgusted and growly as side one plays on, musically, the album is smooth and consistent, with the 'feeling' of each track determined by the vocalist's level of vitriol.  By the time we get to track three, "Black Sunday", the vocal and riff combination borders on the death/doom sub (sub [sub]) genre but for the most part, 'The Doomed and the Damned' is straight doom and the band serves up a delicacy at that.  In fact, what sets this band apart is that this is a colorful album, not dominated by black hues against a desolate background but an album whose shadows fall across a vibrant palette of polychrome guitars and textures.  It's the same kind of sensibility that Chad Davis brought to Hour of 13, after draping oneself in the tightly restrictive atmospheres of Black Metal it must be liberating to have all this room to work with in Doom.  After nearly a year of sampling "The Haunter of the Dark" I'm convinced that it's one of the finest examples of the genre one can find.  There's no significant drop off in quality in what has since emerged either.

"To Hell We Ride" starts off with a bang, quite literally with the sound of a gun being cocked and fired, cocked and fired, cocked and ... the music starts.  Bringing up Delbridge once again, it's on this track and the next one, "Stone Gray Skies" where what must be considered her trademark becomes most apparent.  On all Python songs, her vocals are echoed by a long trailing delay, the effect of which is like a ghostly bridal gown trailing along rain-soaked lonely roads at night.

There is one slight criticism to be found here and that has to do with the treble-happy tinniness of the production which can grate on the ears when thrown on a mixed playlist with headphones.  It's a small matter and the 'problem' is ultimately correctable and only provides minor irritation before the volume is [always hesitantly] turned down.

Art is a constant process of experimentation.  Albino Python have donned their lab coats for 'The Doomed and the Damned'.  It's been a pleasure to hear this band develop as songs slowly emerged over the course of a year.  Right now, you can download the album from their bandcamp page (just click through the links on the player below) and it is available on cassette tape from Easy Rider Records in four different colors.  I recommend this album for those who like their doom to be on the filthy, raw and raunchy side.

Highlights include: "The Haunter of the Dark" and "To Hell We Ride"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 36:29

From: Phoenix, Arizona

Genre: Doom, Sludge

Reminds me of: Acid King, Demon Lung, Hour of 13, Shroud Eater

Release Date: June 19, 2013

Albino Python on facebook

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Doom Charts for 06/29/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Alice in Chains / The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here)
  2. Caul of Time (Beastwars / Blood Becomes Fire)
  3. Join the Sabbath (Chains / single)
  4. Already Dead (Devil to Pay / Fate is Your Muse)
  5. Fire (Kadavar / Abra Kadavar)
  6. Hysteria (Mount Salem / Endless EP)
  7. Maleficia Lamiah (Pombagira / Maleficia Lamiah)
  8. The Secret Spot (Scorpion Child / ST)
  9. The Imposter (Dozer / split single w/ Nymf)
  10. Demons on Wheels (Devil / Gather the Sinners)
  11. Gun You Down (Ape Machine / Mangled By the Machine)
  12. Ancient Song (Geezer / Gage EP)
  13. Lucy in the Sky with Demons (Temple of Nothing / Psalms of Solitary Self-Indulgence)
  14. Twisted Light (The Black Angels / Indigo Meadow)
  15. Eyes of Zamiel (Demon Lung / The Hundredth Name)
  16. Running on Fumes (Lowburn / Soaring High EP)
  17. Night Demon (Night Demon / ST EP)
  18. The Blackness of my Soul Will Be So Great As To Make the Night Weep (Tentacle / Ingot Eye)
  19. The Protean Towers (High Priest of Saturn / ST)
  20. Black Colossus (Zeppheroin / Howl)*
  21. Kingmaker (Spiritual Beggars / Earth Blues)
  22. At the Cromlech (Kröwnn / Hyborian Age)*
  23. Volcanic Winter (Mammoth Storm / Demo 2013)*
  24. Secret of the Fox (Half Gramme of Soma / ST)
  25. [Devil's Grip] Driven Insane (The Gates of Slumber / Stormcrow EP)
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
Master of the Temple (Magister Templi / Lucifer Leviathan Logos)
Conflict (Philip H. Anselmo / War of the Gargantuas)
On the Mountain (Iron Man / att hålla dig över)

Top 30 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Alice in Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
  2. Head of the Demon - ST
  3. Blood Ceremony - The Eldritch Dark
  4. Devil - Gather The Sinners
  5. Shallow Grave - ST
  6. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Mind Control
  7. Magister Templi - Lucifer Leviathan Logos
  8. Rote Mare - The Invocation / The Kingdom
  9. Tumbleweed Dealer - ST
  10. Black Sabbath - 13
  11. Pombagira - Maleficia Lamiah
  12. Abysmal Grief - Feretri
  13. Kadavar - Abra Kadavar
  14. Blizaro - Blak Majicians
  15. Tentacle - Ingot Eye
  16. Devil To Pay - Fate Is Your Muse
  17. Demon Eye - E.P.
  18. Cardinals Folly - Strange Conflicts of the Past
  19. Beastwars - Blood Becomes Fire
  20. Black Pyramid - Adversarial
  21. Cult of Occult - Hic Est Domus Diaboli*
  22. Magic Circle - ST*
  23. Revelation - Inner Harbor
  24. Albino Python - The Doomed and the Damned*
  25. Church of Misery - Thy Kingdom Scum*
  26. Kröwnn - Hyborian Age
  27. Mammoth Storm - Demo 2013
  28. Scorpion Child - ST*
  29. Age of Taurus - Desperate Souls of Tortured Times
  30. Cathedral - The Last Spire

Friday, 28 June 2013

Hour of Power 06/29/13 (playlist)

  1. We Are The Worm (Behold! The Monolith / Defender, Redeemist) 2012
  2. Moonchild (Venomous Maximus / Beg Upon the Light) 2012
  3. Hang The Witch (Space Witch / The Alchemy Paradox EP) 2013
  4. Nameless Cults (Wo Fat / Cyclopean Riffs split w/ Egypt) 2013
  5. Scorpion Child's Shaun Avants' influences interview
  6. In Vino Veritas (Cult of Occult / Hic Est Domus Diaboli) 2013
  7. Rooster (Alice in Chains / Dirt) 1992 'classic video'
  8. Halv King (Behold! The Monolith / Defender, Redeemist) 2012

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Black Wizard - Young Wisdom (album review)

Cover artwork by Dena Lazarenko.
Dopey eyed and numbly grinning stage hands buzz behind the curtain, surgical in their preparations, lab coats and clip boards held out ticking checklists.  They do a strange dance, weaving this way and that, all follow a confusing yet distinct pattern of motion leaving nothing to chance, dizzying in its bumper-car-like efficiency.  The stage is nearly set, except ... something's missing.  "It needs more smoke", they all seem to agree.  So the exhausted milk cow that is the Black Wizard's array of smoke machines are flicked back on, wheezing and groaning as they cough out thin clouds of manufactured smoke.  If the machines had eyes they would have bags under them and look up at the men who control them with betrayal etched across their metallic faces.

The curtains flash open and a cloud of vapor stumbles forth like a confused and poisoned mob.  Somewhere behind the opaque density are a band of dopey eyed, numbly grinning wizards, hidden in this occult fashion from the eyes of the uninitiated.  If one could pierce the vaporous veil, they would see these wizards playing decidedly energetic rock n roll, even though, if one could actually see the band through the haze, the performances don't come across as highly energetic but appears as a group of guys comfortable in their own skin.  Wizards can do it in their sleep.

Big, bad Iommian riffs cloaked in black, speak deadly incantations of unadulterated metal, drums whip up thunderclaps, providing an air of storm-drenched theatricality.  Sing-along choruses provide group a activity for party-going crazies and there is always smoke available in vast quantities.  This is good times music to waste one's youth to.

Psychedelic clouds grace the stroke of "Midnight", the witching hour arrives to showcase a darker side of the band with the threat of being accosted by green skinned, wide eyed and grinning witches crouching just behind every fence on the way home.  One thing 'Young Wisdom' has plenty of is excellent leads and "Midnight" is another strong example of guitarists Grant and Cook's ability to weave a perfect spell without having to get too busy.  Their fretwork pyrotechnics appear in the form of smoke-filled atmospheres and gibbous textures rather than a series of choreographed explosions. "Something Sweet" appeals to the sweaty, long-haired scumbag in all of us combining blistering leads with doomed darkness.  The band doesn't need to ram their technical excellence down listeners' throats, they just give a song what it needs, short bursts of hyperactivity included.  The excellence here is in the riffs and the tightness of the songwriting.

The album title 'Young Wisdom' sums it all up, but it also betrays this band of miscreants for what they really are.  For all the surface beer bonging and bowl smoking there's a sensitivity on this album towards not overdoing anything and maintaining delicately balanced atmospheres.  Sure, you could try to chalk up the 'not overdoing anything' philosophy to burnt out pot-headed laziness, but that's not what's going on here.  The wizard is a thinking man with a master's ability and this band does their level best to honor the tradition. Some of this record's greatest accomplishments are what Black Wizard didn't do.  They didn't go overboard when they could have, they didn't sacrifice feel to showcase exuberant individual ability.  Oh, there's dynamism and shreddery afoot, but they keep things on an even keel throughout the record.  Basically, 'Young Wisdom' earns the dudes a master's degree in rip-roarin'!

Image courtesy of The Vancouver Sun.
When I saw them open up for Corrosion of Conformity, the dudes I went with didn't have much experience with any of the bands on the bill.  They were convinced that Black Wizard was the best band of the four that played that night and had stolen the show, much to my frustration as a Corrosion of Conformity fan who was trying to introduce them to that band.  There's just no squirming out of it when the Wiz's got you under their spell.  In the end 'Young Wisdom' has validated their opinion.  It comes out officially tomorrow (Friday June 28) and is available for streaming and CD pre-order RIGHT NOW on bandcamp (click the links on the player below to get there).  And if you're in town in and around Vancouver tomorrow night, go to the record release party at the Rickshaw Theater at 8pm.  You will be enveloped by tentacles of smoke.

Highlights include: "H.U.G.H." and "Wicked Wanderer"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 35:45

Adam Grant - Guitars, vocals
Kenneth Paul Cook - Guitars
Evan Joel - Bass
Eugene Parkomenko - Drums

From: New Westminster, BC

Genre: Stoner, Hard Rock, Metal

Reminds me of: Anciients, Black Mountain, Crag Dweller

Release Date: June 28, 2013

Better Review:
Heavy Planet
Ride With The Devil

Black Wizard on facebook

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Doom Charts for 06/26/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Master of the Temple (Magister Templi / Lucifer Leviathan Logos)
  2. Conflict (Philip H. Anselmo / War of the Gargantuas)
  3. The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Alice in Chains / The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here)
  4. Already Dead (Devil to Pay / Fate is Your Muse)
  5. Fire (Kadavar / Abra Kadavar)
  6. Hysteria (Mount Salem / Endless EP)
  7. Join the Sabbath (Chains / single)
  8. The Imposter (Dozer / split single w/ Nymf)
  9. Demons on Wheels (Devil / Gather the Sinners)
  10. Gun You Down (Ape Machine / Mangled By the Machine)
  11. Caul of Time (Beastwars / Blood Becomes Fire)
  12. Maleficia Lamiah (Pombagira / Maleficia Lamiah)*
  13. Ancient Song (Geezer / Gage EP)
  14. Lucy in the Sky with Demons (Temple of Nothing / Psalms of Solitary Self-Indulgence)
  15. Twisted Light (The Black Angels / Indigo Meadow)
  16. Running on Fumes (Lowburn / Soaring High EP)
  17. Night Demon (Night Demon / ST EP)
  18. Eyes of Zamiel (Demon Lung / The Hundredth Name)
  19. On the Mountain (Iron Man / att hålla dig över)
  20. ***The Secret Spot (Scorpion Child / ST)
  21. The Blackness of my Soul Will Be So Great As To Make the Night Weep (Tentacle / Ingot Eye)
  22. Kingmaker (Spiritual Beggars / Earth Blues)*
  23. Secret of the Fox (Half Gramme of Soma / ST)
  24. [Devil's Grip] Driven Insane (The Gates of Slumber / Stormcrow EP)*
  25. The Protean Towers (High Priest of Saturn / ST)*
* New Song
*** Due to an itunes mix up previous listings of the track "Liquor" were actually for "The Secret Spot"

Outgoing songs:
Mt. Abraxas (Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats / Mind Control)
Electric Mistress [7" edit] (Stoned Jesus / single)
Silent One (Demon Eye / ST EP)
Girls 'n' Guns (Deaf Proof / Beyond the Orange Door Demo)

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The House by the Cemetery (1981) (movie review)

This is the fourth Lucio Fulci film I’ve seen after Zombi 2, The Beyond and City of the Living Dead and I’m becoming more and more familiar with the ‘language’ of Fulci, his pacing and his tendencies.

A quick plot set-up (no spoilers): A professor moves his family of three from New York City to a small New England town to continue the research of a recently deceased colleague.

An obvious influence on this film is Stephen King’s The Shining, specifically in the form of a ghost who speaks telepathically with the little boy in the film.  Themes of relocation and alienation are present as well.  When the family first arrives in the small New England town, the ghost is actually standing across the street and down a ways talking to the boy just as King had his ghost stand waving on the horizon, calling to Danny in a distant voice.  It’s fair play because Stanley Kubrick decided to leave things a bit more subtle in his film adaptation of the book and as the old adage goes “it’s okay to steal from outside the medium you are working in”.  It’s assumed that not every film goer reads novels and had film audiences only just witnessed the same scene in Kubrick’s take on the novel of a year and a half earlier, it wouldn’t have worked.  Well it works here and I recognized it instantly.  See, one other tool in the storyteller’s bag of tricks is to reference other recognizable works to put a spell on the reader / viewer / audience.  As the mind recalls the more well-known story, it also brings back the feelings of the original.  Done well, this technique adds layers to a story and gains sympathy from an audience (see my review of Uncle Acid’s recent abum ‘Mind Control’ wherein this same technique is used to admirable effect).  Done poorly however, and this technique is simply wretched thievery (see another 'flower-themed' band who shall remain nameless).

Fulci was a master of gore.  Now, gore isn’t necessarily the greatest thing in the world because directors often take a hamfisted approach to it.  Fulci’s gore was over the top as it should be and he’d keep the camera’s eye trained on it for an uncomfortably long period of time.  One scene in particular (and there’s a minor SPOILER here) is when they finally get into the cellar and Norman Boyle (Paolo Malco)’s hand is attacked by a bat.  Norman stabs it with a pair of sharp scissors but the bat doesn’t die.  Not initially anyway.  Fulci kept the voltage turned up on viewers until the smoke started pouring from the skin.  No way, you were going to get off easy in a Fulci movie.  In a Fulci movie?  Forget it!  The man made you squirm.  If there was a death in the story, he wasn’t going to simply cut away to a funeral service.  Fulci wasn’t a reporter, he was a revealer.  If there was a death in the story he was going to show it to you.  It was Akira Kurosawa who said that it’s the job of the artist to never look away.  Fulci never looked away and he was fearless in sharing what he saw.  In a way, he challenged audiences to be the artist, or at least to have an artist’s mind and see what the artist sees, to understand what it was that they saw.  And what they saw was horrorific.

Fulci was also a master of atmosphere.  He could do more with cobwebs and a flashlight than any ten CGI artists put together, hell, any hundred.  Atmosphere is all-important to the horror genre.  While the Doom Metal band grapples with finding just the right and lowest tonal frequencies possible, the horror writer struggles with atmospheric embellishment.  Sure, horror fans, we like an interesting plot and we’ll sit through and hour and a half of slow pacing just to get to the small handful of lasting and horrific images, those things are important, but what we’re really there to experience is the atmosphere of horror.  Aside from those few ‘setpieces’ what atmosphere can do is make an average movie stand out, it can make a boring movie at least visually interesting and it can make a bad movie into something memorable.  Fulci manipulated light and shadow like an ethereal puppeteer.  It’s a conspicuously subtle technique from a man who is known primarily for the gore he wrenched from his characters.  Little visual things like tombstones among dead trees and dusty old books swimming with occult secrets and his use of cellars.  There’s nothing like a good cellar in a horror film.  From Poe’s The Black Cat to Night of the Living Dead ((1968) & (1990)) it’s been a genre trope almost since the beginning.  Fulci extracts full value from his in this movie: loud, creaking stairs; mesmeric eyes peering from shadow (another Fulci trademark but never so memorable as here) with cobwebs and strange, The House by the Cemetery has some of the best basement / cellar scenes in the business.

All that said, the man had his filmmaking flaws and there’s a flip side to all the excellent work Fulci did in his films, this one is no different.  As he was wont to do to exploit the full nauseating potential of his wonderful gore, Fulci often attempted the same technique of engaging in a staring contest with viewers during all major scenes tense or intense.  In other words, he hung around too long.  The problem was perhaps one of feel or one of editing, but the fact is he shot his wad too early too often and just let it sit there creating more awkward moments than ones fraught with exciting tension.  Instead of a slow build up, it was often a long, drawn out conclusion that viewers had to wrestle with and the climactic scene which begins with the young, annoyingly voiced Bob is locked in the cellar creates many a shift in seat, a wristwatch checked, a doodad played with because the attention of the viewer really does flounder.  Both tension and momentum are lost in this scene despite the excellent job that had been done in setting this scene up.

Fulci has Ann, the babysitter who is originally introduced to viewers as a red herring, meet a grisly demise in a similar locked cellar scenario.  Images of dismembered children are there in the lead up to this scene.  Of course, it’s probably best that Fulci didn’t exploit the scene’s full potential with such a set-up because he would have been relentless about it, showing the dismemberment in explicit detail, crossing a line into truly poor taste.  There are certain lines that shouldn’t be crossed and an on-screen child murder is one of the thickest, boldest lines one can imagine.  The dismembered corpses of children colors pretty close to outside the borders as is and was one of the elements which gave this film its infamous ‘video nasty’ rating in the UK.  Anyway, in spite of the careful build-up the scene just falls flat.  How long can it possibly take for Dr. Freudstein to walk up a dozen steps anyway?

Of the four Fulci films I’ve viddied, this one is right up there among his best work, though, and once the climactic scene gets moving it leads to some of the most memorable moments in the film.  Although I would have liked to have seen the cemetery aspect of the film’s title emphasized a lot more one can’t fault the man’s overall storytelling capabilities.  Pacing and execution are a little off at times, but that’s as is expected.  At the end, he delivers on the horror director’s promise of a few key unforgettable images (who can forget the knife twisting into Dr. Freudstein churning out a nearly endless ream of maggots?) while padding the memory with a bed of imagery and moments.  But, can anyone tell me just what the hell happens at the very end?

One of the most disturbing aspects of the film though, has nothing to do with storytelling or technique and everything to do with performance.  The voice of the young boy, Bob Norman (Giovanni Frezzi) is just not right.  This is an Italian movie with Italian direction, and Italian production, but Italian actors speaking English.  The film is overdubbed which adds a soupcon of just right B-grade silliness.  The actor speaking for Bob, the child, is not a child, but a woman trying poorly and failing miserably to sound convincingly like a little boy.  For the first half of the film at the very least it’s a major distraction and I could see it being a deal breaker for some.  It really doesn’t help matters that Frezzi has a naturally creepy quality that is brought out by the character’s indifference and obliviousness towards the horror around him.

As mentioned above Bob befriends a ghost, a little girl who may be a couple years older than him.  She gives him a beat-up and broken limbed doll for him to play with.  Dolls, specifically older dolls are one of the creepiest, ghastliest inventions in the history of mankind.  I haven’t seen the movie Chucky since I was a child, not since around the time it came out and the reason is, dolls are fucking gross, period.  That shit is traumatizing to a young person.  Also remember that episode from Seinfeld where Jerry and Kramer switch apartments after the Kenny Rogers’ Roaster’s sign is turned on ends with a scene where the silhouette of a doll called Mr. Marbles is seen scuttling around the apartment while Jerry tries to sleep.  All of that pales in comparison to the creepiness of this kid and his unnatural voice playing with a girl’s doll.  It pales and withers!

As always, this being a music blog, we've got to talk about the Walter Rizzati film score.  Beautiful and haunting, Rizzati broadcasts waves of paranoia through moviegoers by his use of grating static-y drone which is turned up to 11 in key scenes, then has the rug pulled out from underneath it by a hard cut, just dangling the audience on a frayed string.  It's an effective technique when used at the right moment, but I'm afraid it's overdone here and goes from being a potential legendary masterpiece of Italian horror soundtrack to something that becomes really distracting and ultimately annoying.  Here's a lesson kids, know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em. Just because something works one time doesn't mean you've got to go back to it every time.  Now, I don't know how much input Rizzati had in these decisions but I suspect they were Fulci decisions, a man who seems to have lived by the credo, "if something's worth doing, then it's worth overdoing".

Rating: 4/5
Directed byLucio Fulci
Produced byFabrizio De Angelis
Screenplay byLucio Fulci
Giorgio Mariuzzo
Dardano Sacchetti
Story byElisa Briganti (as Elisa Livia Briganti)
StarringCatriona MacColl (as Katherine MacColl)
Paolo Malco
Ania Pieroni
Giovanni Frezza
Silvia Collatina
Music byWalter Rizzati
CinematographySergio Salvati
Editing byVincenzo Tomassi
StudioFulvia Film
Release date(s)14 August 1981
Running time87 min.

Other links:

Monday, 24 June 2013

Cult of Occult - Hic Est Domus Diaboli (album review)

Your eyes flutter.  Confused thoughts race and spin adrift as you begin to awaken.  Your mind is a cloud of thick ash but no thought could conceal the headache that feels like half your skull is crushed and missing.  Your back feels wet but it's only the cold of the stone floor of the mausoleum seeping in.  Something rumbles deeply.  You quickly get up and race to the door but it does not open.  The tomb is sealed, the windows barred.  The dust which litters the place begins to stir, little flaked off bits of skin, mementos of a life now gone, whirl in busy little cyclones as though pushing against all odds towards a second life.  The thousand pound lid of the sarcophagus slides from its mount and crashes into dozens of pieces on the ground.  The once human figure within arises, slowly, stiffly, achingly ... hungrily.  Hungry for life ... your life.  It's dried lips have pulled away from teeth in a grotesque grin.  Indeed, it is happy to see you.  You're in 'The House of the Devil' now ...

Cult of Occult's first full-length album is the sonic equivalent to being locked in a tomb with a hungry corpse. Words like brutal, punishing and devastating come to mind, but they aren't the right ones.  The kind of tortures the band inflicts on ear drums are far subtler than that.  Sinister, dark, evil and abrasive are perhaps closer to the mark.

Comprised of five masterpieces of doomed sludge, with each piece for the most part clocking in at over 10 minutes (plus a quick three minute instrumental interlude making up a total of six tracks), 'Hic Est Domus Diaboli' is an unceasing work of shambling, sinister, dark and abrasive evil.  This is the music hungry and vicious corpses would make in nightmares.

For seventy awful minutes, Cult of Occult burrow beneath the skin, take a blood vessel express directly to the brain and proceed to wreak havoc.  "In Vino Veritas" kicks off the album with a wall of distorted feedback, the tone of which falls across the rest of the album like a shadow of spreading lava.  For the most part 'Hic Est Domus Diaboli' is made up of incredible riffs played incredibly slow, riffs that moulder with the stench of decay.  And yet, through vigorous performances, there is a liveliness to the affair, a liveliness that begins with the compositions themselves.  Not a moment is wasted here, all songs are exploited to their fullest potential, the band is single minded in their vision as they trudge through a fuzzy potboiler of hellish proportions.  Riffs are drawn out but are untiring in their trek, they would walk across miles of putrefied earth to get inside your skull and ultimately, they succeed.

"Opus Ad Odio" takes the hellish feelings of dancing flames felt throughout the rest of the album and snuffs them out, plunging the listener into an underworld of darkness dominated by bass and distorted spoken word passages (in what sounds to be Latin).  The song is a morass of confused souls, wailing in shadow.

All song titles (as well as the album title) are in Latin, if one could distinguish the lyrics through the ripping vocals, it would be interesting to hear if they too were in Latin.  Though the vocals are extreme, they are not harsh and do not grate on the ears as so many other screamed vocals do.  This may have something to do with how the album was mixed and mastered with the guitar soaring sonically above the rest of the instruments and also to do with the sympathetic tones of the strings and vocal chords.

If this album has a patron spirit it is a three-headed foam slathering beast of the devil's third.  This is music conceived in the mouth of horror, and birthed with spitting hatred.  As for the band themselves, they like to remain relatively anonymous, though not self-consciously so, simply allowing the music to speak for itself.  This album is not to be missed for those who like their doom riffs to be both classic and epic and their sludged out soundscapes to be unforgiving.  'Hic Est Domus Diaboli' will rake you across the coals.

Highlights include: "In Vino Veritas" and "Pro Diabolus Mori"

Rating: 5/5

Total Run Time: 1:10:42

From: Lyon, Rhône-Alpes, France

Genre: Sludge, Doom

Reminds me of: Moss, Shallow Grave

Release Date: June 22, 2013

Cult of Occult on facebook

Sunday, 23 June 2013

R.I.P. Behold! The Monolith bassist / vocalist Kevin McDade

I was totally stunned to hear this terrible news, friends.  No other posts today, just listen to the legacy the man left behind ...

"We are deeply saddened to report the loss of our band member, friend and brother Kevin McDade in a car accident early Friday evening. Needless to say we are absolutely devastated by this. Our hearts and thoughts go out to his parents, family and girlfriend. 

Thanks for the time we had and the music we made together. We will, and already do, miss you terribly."

-Chase and Matt, Behold! The Monolith

Hour of Power 06/22/13 (playlist)

  1. Torn Apart (Valient Thorr / Our Own Masters) 2013
  2. Night Demon (Night Demon / ST EP) 2013
  3. All Is Hell (Night Slug / Dismal Fucker) 2013
  4. Ugly Creature (The Devil Rides Out / Ugly Creatures)* 2013
  5. Unspoken (Kylesa / Ultraviolet) 2013
  6. Untitled [live] (Satellite Beaver) 2013
  7. Rites of Samhain [Chad Davis vocal unreleased demo] (Hour of 13) 2012
  8. Black Helicopters (Gaggle of Cocks / Low Class Trendsetter) 2013
  9. Electric Hellhound (Wo Fat / Cyclopean Riffs split EP w/ Egypt) 2013
  10. Devils II (Witches of God / The Blood of Others) 2013
  11. Hecate (Demon Eye / ST EP) 2013
  12. Vote With a Bullet (Corrosion of Conformity / Blind) 1991 'classic video'
*third in a five video series! (see the first and second parts)

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Doom Charts for 06/22/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Mt. Abraxas (Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats / Mind Control)
  2. Conflict (Philip H. Anselmo / War of the Gargantuas)
  3. Electric Mistress [7" edit] (Stoned Jesus / single)
  4. Master of the Temple (Magister Templi / Lucifer Leviathan Logos)
  5. Join the Sabbath (Chains / single)
  6. The Imposter (Dozer / split single w/ Nymf)
  7. Gun You Down (Ape Machine / Mangled By the Machine)
  8. On the Mountain (Iron Man / att hålla dig över)
  9. Silent One (Demon Eye / ST EP)
  10. Night Demon (Night Demon / ST EP)
  11. Fire (Kadavar / Abra Kadavar)
  12. Lucy in the Sky with Demons (Temple of Nothing / Psalms of Solitary Self-Indulgence)
  13. Hysteria (Mount Salem / Endless EP)
  14. Ancient Song (Geezer / Gage EP)
  15. Demons on Wheels (Devil / Gather the Sinners)
  16. The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Alice in Chains / The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here)*
  17. Already Dead (Devil to Pay / Fate is Your Muse)*
  18. Liquor (Scorpion Child / ST)
  19. Caul of Time (Beastwars / Blood Becomes Fire)*
  20. Twisted Light (The Black Angels / Indigo Meadow)*
  21. The Blackness of my Soul Will Be So Great As To Make the Night Weep (Tentacle / Ingot Eye)*
  22. Eyes of Zamiel (Demon Lung / The Hundredth Name)
  23. Secret of the Fox (Half Gramme of Soma / ST)
  24. Girls 'n' Guns (Deaf Proof / Beyond the Orange Door Demo)
  25. Running on Fumes (Lowburn / Soaring High EP)
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
God Is Dead? (Black Sabbath / 13)
Infestation of Grey Death (Cathedral / The Last Spire)
Doomsday Calling (Lothorian / Welldweller)
Milk Leg (Intronaut / Habitual Levitations)
Ice Tentacles (Grave Disgrace / Triumphant & Militant Church)

Top 30 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Alice in Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
  2. Head of the Demon - ST
  3. Blood Ceremony - The Eldritch Dark
  4. Devil - Gather The Sinners
  5. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Mind Control
  6. Rote Mare - The Invocation / The Kingdom
  7. Kadavar - Abra Kadavar
  8. Magister Templi - Lucifer Leviathan Logos
  9. Shallow Grave - ST
  10. Tentacle - Ingot Eye
  11. Black Sabbath - 13
  12. Tumbleweed Dealer - ST
  13. Devil To Pay - Fate Is Your Muse
  14. Abysmal Grief - Feretri
  15. Blizaro - Blak Majicians
  16. Pombagira - Maleficia Lamiah
  17. Demon Eye - E.P.
  18. Beastwars - Blood Becomes Fire
  19. Black Pyramid - Adversarial
  20. Revelation - Inner Harbor
  21. Cardinals Folly - Strange Conflicts of the Past
  22. Kröwnn - Hyborian Age
  23. Mammoth Storm - Demo 2013
  24. Cathedral - The Last Spire
  25. Cultura Tres - Rezando Al Miedo
  26. Age of Taurus - Desperate Souls of Tortured Times*
  27. Witches of God - The Blood of Others
  28. Crowlord - Naked Chicks, Goats & Wolves*
  29. Grave Disgrace - Triumphant & Militant Church
  30. Cough / Windhand - Reflection of the Negative

Friday, 21 June 2013

Mansion - We Shall Live EP (album review)

There are plenty of good bands out there that play occult rock, Finland's Mansion plays 'cult rock'.  They are a six piece band, but for all that is known about them there could be a hundred of them, not all of them musicians, huddled together in a mansion somewhere in the frost-bitten north.  Only christian names are given, and just a few photos have emerged of the band while playing live.  They exist as a muted and esoteric secret, only paying homage to the world outside when they speak through their instruments.  'We Shall Live' is their first attempt to communicate their cryptic message to the masses.  Mansion's music is devotional music, non-traditional gospel that revives a dead religion for a new day and age.

When they do speak, a clean sound emerges.  Usually you associate doom with a scraggly aesthetic, ragged dark tones and lazy tempos.  Mansion's riffs are streamlined, satisfyingly doomy with gilded edges.  Vocals have an almost glossolalic tinge at times before settling into a more traditional rock and metal sound, in order to spread the message to the masses.

For the history buffs, there is reason to Mansion's madness.  The name of the band is taken from the surname of Alma Kartano who led a religious cult in Finland from the 1920s through to the 1950s, which was collectively known as Kartanoism.  Kartano is the Finnish word for Mansion and at its peak the Kartano cult could count about around a hundred devotees to its numbers.  The cult was notable for using children as preachers while apocalyptic feverishness mired the movement in a dour and lengthy period of waiting for the second coming.

According to their short bio, Mansion were "brought together to create strong music reflecting the life of the cult's followers".  Staying true to this vision, lead vocals are sung by a woman, also calling herself Alma, who takes on the spiritual essence of the original Alma.  Thick atmospheres of devotion greet the listener on first play with a lone organ and quiet vocals heralding opening track "Mother's Burden".  Right off the bat, this establishes a worshipful tone to the church of Mansion.  When you see the promo photos of the band surrounded by devotees and children with all present dressed in black sexless clothing, it's easy to get a 'cultish' vibe from this band.  As a matter of fact, I didn't realize Mansion's cult-like imagery was based on anything at all aside from an earnest drive to express themselves before I read their bio and still I was ready to have Mansion be cult-leaders for this review.  "Mother's Burden" is a true epic, rotating between killer riffs with driving tempos and that devotional sound that the band will soon become famous for, the band has a unique vision and they are able to impart that to listeners, even to those that don't know the actual history behind the band and their partial inspiration.

The religious overtones carry over into the title track and spill out across the second side of the EP.  Another trick of the trade that Mansion brings to the table are loose and stray bits of ambience between, in and around their songs which create an upright and attentive mental state before slamming in to listeners with those powerful riffs again.  Often, the band builds up a strong head of steam with their powerful riffs and solid tempos, before pulling the rug on listeners by cutting the speed of their songs by half and allowing the solid edges of the music to blur like solidified smoke breaking up.  The technique is not abrupt, is actually quite subtle and very nearly creates a true state of rapture or musical bliss (see "Sorrowless" for a prime example of this).

Of the four songs on this EP, "Slumber Sermon" is clearly the slowest of the bunch and brings those religious, monastic feelings to a head in a cataplectic dirge.  This is a very accomplished debut EP.  Based on the quality of riffs and the number of subtle musical techniques spread throughout, it plays out as though a lot of thought has been put into the music and makes this EP a whole and complete work.  I will definitely look forward to a full-length album from this band.  This is an incredibly solid introduction to a band with a unique vision.  The EP is available for pre-order on the band's bandcamp page (see link at bottom of page) and there are a number of preview tracks available for streaming there, check them out or repent!

Highlights include: "Mother's Burden" and "Sorrowless"

Rating: 4/5

1). Mother's Burden (7:11)
2). We Shall Live (4:57)
3). Sorrowless (4:39)
4). Slumber Sermon (5:13)
Total Run Time: 21:59

Alma - Vocals & keyboards
Jaakob - Guitar
Immanuel - Bass
Veikko-Tapio - Guitar
Aleksanteri - Synths
Mikael -Drums & percussion

From: Finland

Genre: Doom, Gospel, Metal

Reminds me of: Demon Lung, Ghost, Sabbath Assembly, Seremonia

Release Date: 2013

Better Reviews:
Sleeping Shaman in German interview, also in German

Mansion on facebook

Read more about Kartanoism here


Thursday, 20 June 2013

Crowlord - Naked Chicks, Goats & Wolves (album review)

Crows can be taught to speak a small vocabulary in a parrot-like fashion, if you raise them from an early enough age and train them to do so.  They don't have the most beautiful or musical voices in the world, but if you could imagine just one crow in all the millions across the world growing up in captivity in Memphis, Tennessee and somehow starting a band, then I've got to think Crowlord would be it.  Apparently, you can also teach crows to attack people.  Could you imagine a small army of attack crows defending your home against unwanted visitors all shouting, "f-k awf!  f-k awf!" all at the same time?

Sometime in February I was treated to the Crowlord demo on bandcamp.  I don't remember how I latched onto this one, but I suspect a certain Sludgelord might have had something to do with it.  Anyway, it was on my list of stuff to review for far too long and before I'd even begun my review of the demo it was pulled down from the site.  The reason?  You're looking at it.  It was sent down the memory hole to make way for the band's triumphant debut, 'Naked Chicks, Goats & Wolves'.  I'm glad I was able to grab the demo while I could, though.  It has now become a lost relic of the internet age.  One more note before we jump in here.  If you'll look closely at the album cover the clawed and goat-headed (and goat-legged) figure also has tits.  Just thought I'd point that out.  It's very Baphometan (to invent a word).

Crowlord plays a doomy brand of sludge wrapped in an incredibly dark sheath.  Brian Anderson, Crowlord's vocalist can actually sound like a crow, cawing doom down from a building ledge or power line, and he does so without delving into outright mimicry.  Meanwhile, the band behind him sound like an overcast sky with dark clouds slamming together on gusty jets.  In other words, these are ominous tones provided by Jeremy Jackson and John Burton, Crowlord's double bass attack.  They don't bother with the whole guitar thing, you know how it is, that's been done to death!

The five songs from the demo have been re-recorded here with new drummer Rob Morrison and have been provided with better sound quality.  In all, four songs have been added to the demo's repertoire, "Good Lord, Look Away", "Retarded Wizard", "Draugr" and "Gestate", all of which rely heavily on Morrison's steadily pulsing and busily punctuated backbone and a bit less on the darkly suggestive atmosphere provided by the bass combo.  But the five older songs, they are the sticky substance that holds 'Naked Chicks, Goats & Wolves' together.

So why am I so into Crowlord when they have this abrasive vocalist and lean pretty heavily towards the hardcore side of things, when normally those aren't my things?  It's got to be a mixture of a couple elements here.  First thing is the band's double bass attack, and their wise use of it.  It's no gimmick that the band opts for this set-up and the result is that a guitar isn't missed.  I prefer a band at their darkest, droniest and doomiest anyway and there's plenty of that here.  The second reason is, in a word: dynamism.  Because Crowlord doesn't get stuck on one particular mood or sound, the hectic-paced sludge encrusted beatdowns and the slow, ominous doom balance each other perfectly from song to song.  You don't get lost in one scene or another and neither side of the band overstays its welcome.  Sequencing counts!

I'd be surprised if Crowlord weren't signed to a major label sooner or later.  They are already building a fairly sizable following for such a new and unsigned band.  I could easily see these guys getting snatched up by Relapse or Southern Lord or somebody and the busier, sludgier, crustier side of the band emphasized to the nth degree but all that stuff is based on nothing at all aside from an incurable case of Paranoid Hitsophrenia.  Of course Crowlord could just caw "f-k awf" at the prospect of emphasizing any one element of their sound to please label people, which I'm sure is exactly what they'd do.  The beauty of Crowlord is in the balance of elements.  For now anyway, just enjoy the Naked Chicks, the incredibly deep tones of doom, the Goats, the cawing vocals and the Wolves.

Highlights include: "Son of Crow" and "In the Nightmares of Serpents"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 45:32

John Burton (Bass)
Jeremy Jackson (Bass)
Brian Anderson (Vocals)
Rob Morrison (Drums)

From: Memphis, Tennessee

Genre: Doom, Sludge, Hardcore

Reminds me of: Baptists, Eyehategod, Relapse bands

Release Date: June 14, 2013

Crowlord on facebook

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Mammoth Storm - Demo 2013 (album review)

By far the heaviest of the new breed of bands to come out this year is Swedish trio Mammoth Storm.  When I listen to this I think how incredible it would be for the Liverpool band Conan to play some shows in Sweden with Salem's Pot and Mammoth Storm.  Then I get greedy and think of a way to try to bring that 1000 gees heaviness to my neck of the woods for a Saturday or Sunday night show.  A man can dream.  Needless to say it would be the heaviest show in the history of western civilization.  It would be the closest thing to re-creating the Byford Dolphin explosive decrompression incident from a stage.

Mammoth Storm's music is the kind of organism that can survive in extreme environments.  While the otherwise fragile human body can only withstand so much strain, it's a rare and amazing feat that these three lads from Sweden can even be in the same room as their instruments, let alone play them and survive.  This is the soundtrack to an underwater volcanic vent.  This is music that takes a casual stroll on the ocean floor, whistling with its hands in its pockets.  I'm saying it's extremely heavy and durable is what I'm saying.

So now you know what to expect going in.  You've got your pressure suit on, you've got your respirator in your mouth and you're ready to dive into the molten-making caldera of Mammoth Storm.  What is this stuff all about anyway?  Energetic stoner doom with a nod toward the national heroes of the Land of Nod, Sleep themselves and Electric Wizard.  Vocals are of the gruff, gravel-gurgled variety, a tough sounding voice for a tough sounding band.  It's not the kind of thing you haven't heard before, but rarely have you heard it done this well.  This is certainly one of the most promising demos released this year and you hope they never lose that heavy, heavy edge moving forward.  In some twisted way, the demo is almost too professionally recorded, you want to hear this band at its muddiest, swampiest, most imperfect form possible.  Something in what they do brings that impulse out.  It's music to hasten decay, an ink blot which turns into a shadow which then feeds on all that is bright and vibrant and begins to grow to eventually encompass the totality of the earth.

There are so many nerd debates in the forum of music, one is originality versus orthodoxy.  Now, I don't want to turn Mammoth Storm's review into a soap box or anything, but there's a lot to be said for a band that doesn't necessarily bring a whole lot that's new to the table but gets it bang on the money regardless.  Riffs that sway drunkenly and shamble like rotting corpses and vocals from putrefied chords drag out those feelings of discovering Electric Wizard or Dopelord for the first time and feast on their guts.

Come to think of it, this has got to be the best demo of the first half of 2013, at least of releases that are explicitly labelled as demos.  Naga's demo is excellent (see the review), Crowlord's is amazing too (review coming soon), but that got taken down from their bandcamp page and there are a number of others that have placed different bands of various styles on the watchlist for future developments, but Mammoth Storm's heaviness and spot on riffs can't be denied their place atop the mountain.

Of course I look forward to what comes next from the band but these three tracks, all of which are over seven minutes in length will keep me plenty busy in the meantime.  Dig in.  If you like heavy as balls, downtuned, monstrous music with just the right amount of catchiness without the pop sheen then Mammoth Storm is highly recommended.

Highlights include: "Volcanic Winter" and "Ancient Apocalypse"

Rating: 5/5

Total Run Time: 23:39

Daniel Arvidsson - Bass, Vocals
Christer Ström - Guitars
Emil Ahlman - Drums, Organ

From: Parts Unkown, Sweden

Genre: Doom, Stoner, Sludge

Reminds me of: Belzebong, Conan, Dopelord, Mamont, Mara, Salem's Pot

Release Date: May 12, 2013

Mammoth Storm on facebook
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