Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Paranoid 25 (07/31/13)

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Mind Crawler (Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats / Mind Control)
  2. Devils II (Witches of God / The Blood of Others)
  3. Mutated Dracula (The Mangled Dead / Hate Humans)
  4. Black Colossus (Zeppheroin / Howl)
  5. The Bull (The Ruiner / digital single)
  6. King's Highway (Scorpion Child / ST)
  7. So Deep (Ape Skull / ST)
  8. Live Forever (Black Sabbath / 13)
  9. Vulture Bitches (Ten Foot Wizard / ST)
  10. Suicidal Slayer (Rote Mare / The Kingdom)
  11. Maleficia Lamiah (Pombagira / Maleficia Lamiah)
  12. The Wicked King (Hela / Broken Cross)
  13. Caress of Darkness (Aniara / Caress of Darkness EP)
  14. Tempest (Shroud Eater / Dead Ends EP)*
  15. Hole In Your Head (Cultura Tres / Rezando Al Miedo)
  16. From the Woods (Black Moth Cult / The Fountain of Tantric Worship)
  17. The Protean Towers (High Priest of Saturn / ST)
  18. Hecate (Demon Eye / ST)
  19. Cathedral of the Damned (Cathedral / The Last Spire)*
  20. The Age of Salem (Salem's Pot / digital track)
  21. Honeyland (Voodoo Mule / Voodoo Zoo)
  22. Battle in the Swamp [live] (Conan / Mount Wrath)*
  23. Drakon, It's Shadow Upon Us (Black Oath / Ov Qliphoth And Darkness)
  24. Kingmaker (Spiritual Beggars / Earth Blues)
  25. Hand of Lucifer (Doublestone / ST)
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
Volcanic Winter (Mammoth Storm / Demo 2013)
Twisted Light (The Black Angels / Indigo Meadow)
Chemical Fog (Shallow Grave / ST)

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Holy Mount - Alpic (album review)

Cover artwork by Maryanna Hardy.
From on high (up north) comes an album that is appropriately goat adorned and magnificently riff-festooned.  Never will you hear a band more locked into a groove, welcome to the ultimate hypnotic thrillride!

"Nineteen Ninety and a Half" sets the pattern for the rest of the album to follow.  This song features one of the most insistent grooves you're likely to hear all year, built from a synth melody that loops around hollowly like the 'killer's tooth' in a spray paint can, the riff somehow latches onto your brain like some kind of attractive parasite and hastily attaches itself to your central nervous system.

When vocals do finally make an appearance they are laid back and groovy, falling into lock step with the mood of the music perfectly.  Insistent grooves and a laid back vibe, brought home by the lazy vocal stylings of Danijel Losic seems to be the formula Holy Mount rely upon.  And a powerful brew it is.

Well, it may be just to claim that each song relies on a similar formula to convey an interminable mood, but it would be unjust to simply leave it at that.  Brandon McKenzie's (good Canadian name) Basslines act as greased lightning to the slow-moving bulk that is Losic's riffs, bringing them to life, animating songs, providing the spark of a lead instrument and penetrating the areas of the listener's brain that the laid back vocals simply cannot reach.  At other times Troy Legree's drums take up the lead, while at others the kit stays hypnotically in the background.

"My Sun" and "Behind Drip Hill" work in tandem to massage the brain into a psychedelic mindspace, slowly, subtly until the subtlety is broken on "Eiger" a groovy masterpiece that has the same flair for sending the listener to head nodding oblivion as some of Hawkwind's more energetic numbers.

Finally, 'Alpic' is bookended by a Mutt-and-Jeff combo of instrumentals, one mercilessly short synth-laden tone setter at the front ("Goldenhorn") and a (well, almost instrumental) lengthy riff-tacular.  Even at nearly 10 minutes in length "Daydream Light" isn't quite long enough.  It's an undeniably interesting composition as well, with the vocals being incredibly low and distant in the mix while a guitar lead picks up the slack during what would be the verse.  It's just another example of how Holy Mount can bypass your circuitry and blow your fuse without half trying.  As I say, this is trance inducing stuff.  Never have you so willingly submitted yourself to a groove.  Never has your mind and soul been so easily taken!  Beware, this album may cause mouth-breathing loss of self-awareness and thousand yard stares into unknown worlds.

This album review could be easily summed up in just two words: insistent grooves.  Within that simplistic framework however is an ultimately satisfying listening experience full of excellent riffs and unbreachable, unbreakable moods.

Highlights include: "Nineteen Ninety and a Half" and "Eiger"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 38:56

Troy Legree - Drums
Brandon McKenzie - Bass
Danijel Losic - Guitar, Synth, Vocals

From: Toronto, Ontario

Genre: Stoner, Psychedelic, Drone

Reminds me of: Hawkwind

Release Date: June 28, 2013

Better Reviews:
Ride With the Devil
Welcome to the Void (in Greek)

Holy Mount on facebook

***Special thanks to A.S. Van Dorston of Fast n Bulbous for introducing me to Holy Mount***

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Terror That Comes In the Night by David J. Hufford (book review)

Chances are you've heard of sleep paralysis.  Five or ten years ago that might not have been true.  The internet has been a boon to many things, esoteric subject matter such as sleep paralysis being one of them.  But before all the hype, before all that was known or understood about the phenomenon was a well-worn cliche, David J. Hufford was out there, busting his ass, gathering data, shining a much needed light on the, at the time, poorly understood phenomenon.  One of the more substantial fruits of his tireless labors was a book called The Terror That Comes in the Night.  First published in 1982 it's the 'Black Sabbath' (1970) of sleep paralysis research, the first and in many ways still the best book on the subject.  Even after some 30 years it's still the definitive book on the matter.

The book's success lies in its accessibility.  Strictly speaking, it's not an academic book but it's by no means dumbed down "complete idiot's guide" either.  Hufford takes great pains to clearly delineate the definitions and meaning of his statements and the esoteric jargon he uses and all readers are the richer for it, including academics.  The book is full with some 36 case studies which appear in the form of transcripts of dialogues the author had with people who have experienced the phenomenon, which gives what could easily become a high-falutin' book a down to earth approach.  Real people telling real stories, often for the first time to anybody (Hufford met many of his interview subjects after lecture tour dates, but not all of them, many times however oft-embarrassed "confessors" would approach him after these talks).  These case studies are the meat and potatoes of the book, without a doubt, these are the juicy bits.  Most of these stories are simply unforgettable.  Hufford also spends a great deal of the book discussing the dozens(!) of discreet features of the experience, while taking pains to identify those elements which are most common, thus establishing the sleep paralysis narrative so many are now familiar with today.

The phenomenon of sleep paralysis is thought to afflict 30% of people at least once in their life, of course any real data of this nature is probably ultimately unknowable.  Academics now refer to it as sleep paralysis, but the experience has taken many names and aspects throughout the years: The Nightmare; incubus/succubus; vampire, alien abduction are just a few of the associated phenomena just from Western culture alone.  Keep in mind this is a worldwide occurance and is cross-cultural in most of its aspects and all of its major features.  The author refers to it as "'Old Hag' attack[s]" (linguistic origin from Newfoundland, Canada).

Just so you know, Hufford is Professor Emeritus of Medical Humanities, Penn State College of Medicine. Studying folklore while at a University in Newfoundland, Hufford kept hearing stories about an Old Hag experience which were strikingly similar to his own personal experiences, experiences which he had never shared with anyone before (another feature / response common to the phenomenon, that of fear of loss of sanity and/or embarrassment).  Hufford respected the people sharing their stories enough not to dismiss them  as ignorant and superstitious out of hand.  The thesis behind this book is that belief systems are rooted in experience, and though it sounds crazy, belief in an old hag or old witch that visits sleepers in the night to put a crushing weight on one's chest is actually rooted in experience.

It's an idea that might not have been taken at all seriously by academics before this book came along and that in and of itself makes it a groundbreaking work.

Why is it here?

Remember that crazy story about Geezer Butler's nocturnal visitation and how it directly led to the dark and heavy direction Black Sabbath took soon after?  That's a possible sleep paralysis episode right there.  Of course I should be a bit more cautious in assigning explanations to historical events, but this is my blog dagnabbit!  And this is an excellent book and an excellent read besides.  Better than most horror fiction because it's real folks' accounts of real experiences, The Terror That Comes in the Night is an indispensable addition to any paranoid library.

Rating: 5/5

Page Count: 278 pgs

From: Philadelphia, PA

Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press

ISBN: 0-8122-1305-X

Genre: Non-fiction, Folklore, Sleep Studies, Nightmares, Incubi, Witches, Sleep Parlysis

Release Date: 1982

Better Review:



Sunday, 28 July 2013

Pyres - Year of Sleep (album review)

Right from the opening of "Proximity" it's apparent that each moment of 'Year of Sleep' is well thought out and executed with precision.  About a minute in and I'm sold on this band.  Well, I may be a cheap date but it's now up to them to lose me over the course of the next 39 or so minutes.  Will they withstand the pressure?

Pyres are from Toronto, a place as far away from Vancouver both geographically and culturally as New York is from Portland but the music they produce goes beyond all that, they speak in a universal language of metal.  The fact that they're Canadian, well that's just an extra point in the bag for them right there.  It appears this quartet of earhole heartbreakers knows the fine and subtle art of reviewer seduction.   Way to be from a place that you knew would sway my favor Pyres ... maybe they're just like, trying too hard, you know?

Nah, effort gives you a triple word score on this site.  For Pyres, it comes in the form of a mature sound that is neither light and fun nor tongue-in-cheek and it's no picnic either.  It's a sound that is deadly serious, but not too morose and shows a severity of purpose, intent and execution.  It all may sound like a big boring drag, but it isn't.  This is exciting music, all the more so because it's the band's debut album and one always hopes that there are many more such albums to come.

Pyres display a refined ear towards composition that begins with each individual performance on the record.  Each note finds its correct position, every beat sits in it's correct place and each moment would be rendered incomplete with any single one of those elements missing.  That's not to say that this is an uptight and rigid sounding album with wall to wall noise and filler.  There's a lot of empty spaces left over when it all comes together, creating momentum, groove and metal swing.  Indeed, the compositions seem to grow from those empty spaces like a mysterious force of nature.  Every track on the album is complete and sounds as though having sprung from the fertile womb of the most natural of states of being.

Without a doubt, 'Year of Sleep' is one of the most refined and (hate to use the phrase) 'professional sounding' recordings the underground has produced all year long.  Some might argue it's a bit over-cooked in that regard but I beg to differ.  This isn't a flossy or clean recording by any stretch of the imagination.  The musicianship and songcraft are just a cut above.  In a way it reminds me of a lot of nineties recordings and albums in terms of texture, though I can't name you which ones.  Musically, it's on a plane of its own.  Sludge that's neither too busy nor too slow and every inch a metal album, the appeal of which goes far beyond any particular genre classification.

While staying mostly within the mid to low tempos there are moments that blaze, such as on album closer "Everbearing" which starts with an almost Monster Magnet or early Tool-like frenetic energy before trading in more hardcore circles.  The hardcore tendencies of the band never stay longer than a cup of coffee (or an adult beverage) much like hardcore songs themselves.  It's almost as though these short and sweet moments develop branch-like tumors of song structure.  Starting off with a short blast, then layering it front and back, then separating the wheat from the chaff until what remains is a concise and dense nugget of hearty and nutritious metal.

This may be Canadian Metal Album of the Year when it's all said and done and is a strong contender for my personal favorite Canadian Album of the year, it's that good. (but it's got some heavy competition, that's for sure).  The only thing that stops this album from being a 5 is the absence of a truly, truly stand out track.  They're all excellent songs though.  As of right now, Pyres are one of the best kept secrets in metal, listen on the player below and let's see if that doesn't change.

Highlights include: "Proximity Anxiety" and "Atlas Cast No Shadow"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 39:59

From: Toronto, Ontario

Genre: Metal, Sludge, Hardcore

Reminds me of: Anciients, Eyehategod

Release Date: July  2, 2013

Better Reviews:
Metal Bandcamp
Ech(((o)))es and Dust

Pyres on facebook

Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Paranoid 30 Albums (07/27/13)

Top 30 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Tumbleweed Dealer - ST
  2. Cult of Occult - Hic Est Domus Diaboli
  3. Blood Ceremony - The Eldritch Dark
  4. Shallow Grave - ST
  5. Alice in Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
  6. Scorpion Child - ST
  7. Magister Templi - Lucifer Leviathan Logos
  8. Tombstone - Where the Dead Belong
  9. Church of Void - Winter is Coming EP
  10. Devil To Pay - Fate Is Your Muse
  11. Head of the Demon - ST
  12. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Mind Control
  13. Abysmal Grief - Feretri
  14. Brutus - Behind the Mountains
  15. Devil - Gather The Sinners
  16. Desert Storm - Horizontal Life
  17. Rote Mare - The Invocation / The Kingdom
  18. Black Sabbath - 13
  19. Mangled Dead - Hate Humans
  20. Age of Taurus - Desperate Souls of Tortured Times
  21. Goatess - ST*
  22. Church of Misery - Thy Kingdom Scum
  23. Peacemaker - Cult .45
  24. Pyres - Year of Sleep*
  25. Tentacle - Ingot Eye
  26. Holy Mount - Alpic*
  27. Pombagira - Maleficia Lamiah
  28. Mammoth Storm - Demo 2013
  29. Demon Eye - E.P.
  30. Magic Circle - ST
* New Album

Hour of Power 07/27/13 (playlist)

  1. Waiting (Caravan of Whores / Road to Kurti) 2012
  2. Never Live Again (Ancient VVisdom / Deathlike) 2013
  3. Truth Untold (Black Tusk / Tend No Wounds) 2013
  4. The Glove (Fen / Of Losing Interest) 2013
  5. Medium (Zato Krev / The Bat, The Wheel And A Long Road To Nowhere) 2012
  6. Windhand 'Soma' Album Trailer
  7. The Duke [of Supernature] (Monster Magnet / Last Patrol) 2013
  8. Voices (Alice in Chains / The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here) 2013
  9. The Atomic Mother (Beneath Oblivion / From Man To Dust) 2011
  10. Follow the Rats (Peacemaker / Cult .45) 2013
  11. Enslaved in the Icy Tundra (Desert Storm / Horizontal Life) 2013
  12. Revolution Is My Name (Pantera / Reinventing the Steel) 2000 'classic video'

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Desert Storm - Horizontal Life (album review)

incredible cover artwork by Chris Hitchman.
Fuzz.  Beards.  Booze.  Good times.  Enlightenment.

Oxford, England's aptly named Desert Storm aren't out to reinvent the karmic wheel, they just want to take it for a spin, the ultimate roadtrip on 'Horizontal Life'.  In a way, the album title should give you a solid idea of what the band is all about on this one, it's a linear thinking monolith with a 'head down and forge ahead' attitude found in the basic early song structures which build towards increasingly complex ideas with the passage of the album.

For the most part on 'Horizontal Life', especially early in the going, Desert Storm establishes a solid identity that's not entirely separate from the one found on 'Forked Tongues' yet in many ways is miles ahead of it in terms of development.  Listening to the two albums back to back is like listening to a band grow from adolescence into manhood. As for that alluded to identity, Desert Storm spins out Stoner Metal at will and in great abundance like some kind of metallic candy floss.  Mmmm, spikey.

An important thing to note is the band's desire to boot open the doors of perception and take a more thorough look at this stew we call reality.  This emphasis on immaterial matters is explored both lyrically and musically, although that may not be apparent upon a cursory listen of the first couple tracks, it's there and takes greater and greater shape as the album plays on.

But even if you are not one to explore the canyons of your mind, Desert Storm isn't going to force things down your throat.  It's enough to enjoy the raw visceral power on display.  You see, Desert Storm hits you on multiple levels and you can't help but respond in one way or another.

And then "Titan" comes on and throws you for a complete loop.  Its hollow black metal atmospheres of the opening passage make you wonder whether this is the same band playing.  Ah, the wonders of the computer age (did I accidentally play a video or another song or playlist on itunes?  Nothing is safe when clumsy fingers interact with keyboard navigation).  Anyway, the song becomes an epic spaced out journey through parts unknown which for a moment or two becomes a quasi psychological thriller soundtrack from the 1980s.  Somewhere in the mix the band also comes to a boil on some of the heaviest, headbanginest and groovy sections of the whole album.  If that sounds awesome to you, it's not nearly as awesome as the song itself.  The atmospheric wizardry continues into eastern/western headspinner "Gaia" as the full scope of the album begins to come into focus.

'Horizontal Life' is like a classic album from a time when bands not only wanted to, but were encouraged to try new things, take on different textures and styles all on one record.  The band maintains a singular identity but fearlessly ventures into unexpected places.  Not a lot of bands are brave, willing or capable enough to do such a thing.  They were in the sixties, and there hasn't been a lot of this experimentation since, I find.  Corrosion of Conformity's 'Blind' album and some of Alice in Chains' early different takes on their own sound comes to mind but there just hasn't been too much of it.  Desert Storm 'go there' and deserve your respect and the lending of your ear for their efforts.

With 'Horizontal Life', Desert Storm has crafted a sword.  They take the 'stoned' sounds of the desert and having dug around in other gritty areas of the earth, take those stones and raw elements and smelted them down, refining them into a solid piece of metal.  It swings, slices through but also leaves a heavy impact.  Yes, this album is a sword.

Highlights include: "Shadow of an Eagle" and "Titan"

Rating: 4.5/5

1). Word to the Wise Man (4:09)
2). Shadow of an Eagle (4:38)
3). Astral Planes (5:57)
4). No Slave To Master (5:16)
5). Mr. Strongbatch (3:50)
6). Enslaved in the icy Tundra (6:01)
7). Lunar Domes (3:27)
8). Titan (10:58)
9). Shenzhen (6:41)
10). Gaia (5:26)
11). Hofmann (3:29)
12). Scorpion (4:24)
Total Run Time: 1:04:11

Chris White: Guitar
Ryan Cole: Guitar
Chris Benoist: Bass
Elliot Cole: Drums
Matt Ryan: Vocals

From: Oxford, England

Genre: Stoner Metal, Southern Metal

Reminds me of: Clutch, Diesel King, Peacemaker

Release Date: April 1, 2013

Better Reviews:
Canadian Stoner Metal
Heavy Planet
Ech(((o)))es and Dust
Sleeping Shaman

Sludgelord interview

Desert Storm on facebook


OR HERE (digital)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Paranoid 25 (07/24/13)

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Devils II (Witches of God / The Blood of Others)
  2. Black Colossus (Zeppheroin / Howl)
  3. Volcanic Winter (Mammoth Storm / Demo 2013)
  4. Mind Crawler (Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats / Mind Control)
  5. Twisted Light (The Black Angels / Indigo Meadow)
  6. The Bull (The Ruiner / digital single)
  7. Mutated Dracula (The Mangled Dead / Hate Humans)
  8. Maleficia Lamiah (Pombagira / Maleficia Lamiah)
  9. So Deep (Ape Skull / ST)
  10. King's Highway (Scorpion Child / ST)*
  11. Chemical Fog (Shallow Grave / ST)
  12. Hole In Your Head (Cultura Tres / Rezando Al Miedo)
  13. The Protean Towers (High Priest of Saturn / ST)
  14. Live Forever (Black Sabbath / 13)
  15. The Age of Salem (Salem's Pot / digital track)
  16. Suicidal Slayer (Rote Mare / The Kingdom)
  17. The Wicked King (Hela / Broken Cross)*
  18. Vulture Bitches (Ten Foot Wizard / ST)*
  19. Hecate (Demon Eye / ST)
  20. Kingmaker (Spiritual Beggars / Earth Blues)
  21. Caress of Darkness (Aniara / Caress of Darkness EP)*
  22. Drakon, It's Shadow Upon Us (Black Oath / Ov Qliphoth And Darkness)
  23. From the Woods (Black Moth Cult / The Fountain of Tantric Worship)*
  24. Hand of Lucifer (Doublestone / ST)
  25. Honeyland (Voodoo Mule / Voodoo Zoo)*
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
The Imposter (Dozer / split single w/ Nymf)
The Secret Spot (Scorpion Child / ST)
[Devil's Grip] Driven Insane (The Gates of Slumber / Stormcrow EP)
Lucy in the Sky with Demons (Temple of Nothing / Psalms of Solitary Self-Indulgence)
Running on Fumes (Lowburn / Soaring High EP)
At the Cromlech (Kröwnn / Hyborian Age)

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Ghold - Judas Ghoat (album review)

Cover Artwork by Chris Fane.
Ghold are yet another Soggy Bog of Doom discovery.  It just might be impossible to listen to that show without discovering something great.  This time around it comes in the form of a UK band who fit in well enough musically and were just generally good enough to pull the opening slot for Conan and Bongripper when that caravan rolled through town.  Food for thought for the uninitiated.  It's a good starting place when thinking about the sound of Ghold, and that's a high compliment indeed.  Of course, there are things which set them apart from not just those two venerated ones, but from just about any other doom band you will ever hear.

Press play and what you get is bouncing rollercoaster rhythms that someone accidentally left the "kill" setting on for.  Not so fun after all.  Pretty brutal as a matter of fact.  But no need to go run and grab the old mop and scumbucket because this ride will not induce vomiting.  You heard it here first people!  Fluids may be exchanged at listeners' discretion however, this will most likely result in bloody puddles.

Similarities with Conan run a bit deeper than the surface.  They have that same pituary aggression in the monosyllabic vocals and overall delivery whereby each guitar strum is like a bicep and each snare hit is like an injection of steroids.  Much of the time on the two longer compositions, Ghold plays it slow, standing on a peak, chest thumping and shouting proudly as a ritualistic warning to all the puny people below.  However, when the tempo is turned up, that's when things get freaky, like Bane pumping the juice into his system and blowing up like a pissed off balloon right in front of your eyes.

"Our Sciolist's Ritual" is a funhouse mirror's study in tempo.  From a crawl to a sprint back down to a crawl again over a fifteen minute course, the song takes the shape of a carnivorous plant and it's activities which are as follows: to wait patiently until that trap is sprung.  Then, a veritable feast!  Then, to rest again.  Or continuing with the barbarian imagery: stalk, PILLAGE, rest.

As "That Woebegone" slams in, you realize how special your time with the band's drummer is and why you shouldn't let it slip away unappreciated.  It's a busy and varied performance, once more switching tempos the way swamp dwellers change socks.  It's the song I heard on Soggy Bog and it's my favorite from the tape.  Oh yeah, I got it ('Judas Ghoat') on tape and it's an attractive package.  Both sides of both the booklet and the actual cassette itself are professionally printed.  The booklet, the actual tape and even the artwork itself reminds me of the heyday of tapes, it's got that feel of that all-too brief shining moment between the fall of vinyl and the rise of the mp3 format, when instead of an ipod I would walk around with a backpack full of tapes (for any and all moods and occasions), so that with each step I took I sounded like a walking tictac box.  Sigh ...

Anyway, right, "That Woebegone", killer stuff and as I said, it's the highlight on this tape, the coming together of the various ideas found scattered throughout 'Judas Ghoat' all done up in an intense package.  "Breathe In Beast" has its moments of skull crushing intensity too, but the watchword here is "dynamics".  Things go up, things go down, then just when things are seeming to normalize that when things go all pear-shaped and spin out of control.  It's a bit like the game Mousetrap, remember that one?  The game based on the conceit that 'a better mousetrap' is never as elegant as the one that actually works?  The game where you spent what feels like a solid month of youthful time building some crazy contraption to push a ball through the crazy maze and all told it takes like 5 or 10 seconds and it's done?  Remember that game?  Man, let me tell you, no one ever wanted to play Mousetrap twice.  That or 52 card pickup.  But 'Judas Ghoat' is nothing like that.  In fact, I like it a lot.  Maybe it's because I don't have to sit there and build Ghold's crazy contraptions, I can just listen to and enjoy the end result.  It's a stunner of a debut and though only 4 tracks, at 40 minutes, gives you full value for what you pay, which is entirely up to you, by the way.  Unless of course, you're awesome and you pick yourself up a tape like I did, then it's a modest ₤4.

Highlights include: "That Woebegone" and "Hairshirt"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 39:29

From: London, England

Genre: Doom, Sludge

Reminds me of: Balam, Conan, Highgate

Release Date: April 8, 2013

Ghold on facebook

Monday, 22 July 2013

Peacemaker - Cult .45 (album review)

Artwork by Jen O'Brien.
Peacemaker are another solid entry into the world of doom metal from the next wave of British doom bands.  After teasing audiences with a three song EP which promised great things last summer, the band finally dropped the full album's worth of material (all three sampler songs are on this album).  Peacemaker doom is streamlined and groove oriented.  If you like metal and you're into doom, then I think you'll like this album.

'Cult .45' is best described as a gallery of power.  This album is a headbanger's dream, showcasing a manly penchant for doing as much with as little as possible.  Simplicity is key here, no need to make things too complicated.  However, within that cloak of simplicity underlies a profound largesse and a pool of ideas that has verily boiled over.  It's like the effect that Ritalin has on a racing mind, it speeds things to overwhelming levels, producing a seeming, exterior calm.  But what appears simplistic and straightforward on the surface is actually roiling with purpose and heavy handed reason.

Riffs topple headlong one after another with all the horrible beauty of unstoppable machines and power grooves filter out any unnecessary movement with mechanical precision.  'Cult .45's 33 minutes are nothing if not economical.  Peacemaker shrugs and hillsides crumble, mountains quake and re-shape the land.  The best riffs are the most simplistic ones and when those riffs are coupled with anthemic vocals the effect is earth-shaking, mountain-moving and relentlessly groovy.

Vocals are deep and gruff while remaining 'realistic', un-effected for the most part and maintaining a naturalistic toughness.  Once again this thing rolls on big wheels, rolling riffs on a relentless rotation within songs and throughout the album.  Orphan-making wheels within wheels.  "Sorrow Trip" takes the general feel of Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" and gives it an update for the doomed era.  If the riffs all seem classic, it's because some of them really are.  The band is somehow handling archetypal metal riffs and ideas and doing it with a level of control and (again) economy that is truly impressive, especially for a first album.  It would be so easy to take a hamfisted approach to these ideas and overcook them or smother them in the ketchup of over-exuberance, Peacemaker knows what they have on their hands and know what to do with it.  And though the band exercise an impressive level of control on this album, they retain a looseness to the performances.

At the end of the day I think it's fair to say that, if you are not in a doom band, that this is the kind of music and the kind of style that you would want your doom band to play.  Achieving a zen state of Headbanging simplicity with the air of old school metal wisdom and beer can crushing sensibilities but every inch a doom band, Peacemaker have now made their presence known.  And mountains tremble at their approach.

Highlights include: "Follow the Rats" and "The Siberian Problem"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 33:05

Guitar - Sam Taylor
Vocals - Al Osta
Drums - Rich Maw
Bass/Wizard - Al Lawson
From: London, England

Genre: Doom, Metal

Reminds me of: Beastwars, Demon Lung, Desert Storm, Diesel King

Release Date: June 24, 2013

Better Reviews:
Heavy Planet
Ech(((o)))es and Dust
Welcome to the Void (in Greek)

Peacemaker on facebook

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Top Paranoid 30 Albums

Top 30 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Tumbleweed Dealer - ST
  2. Cult of Occult - Hic Est Domus Diaboli
  3. Shallow Grave - ST
  4. Alice in Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
  5. Blood Ceremony - The Eldritch Dark
  6. Scorpion Child - ST
  7. Magister Templi - Lucifer Leviathan Logos
  8. Abysmal Grief - Feretri
  9. Church of Void - Winter is Coming EP*
  10. Devil To Pay - Fate Is Your Muse
  11. Head of the Demon - ST
  12. Devil - Gather The Sinners
  13. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Mind Control
  14. Rote Mare - The Invocation / The Kingdom
  15. Black Sabbath - 13
  16. Age of Taurus - Desperate Souls of Tortured Times
  17. Tombstone - Where the Dead Belong*
  18. Church of Misery - Thy Kingdom Scum
  19. Tentacle - Ingot Eye
  20. Pombagira - Maleficia Lamiah
  21. Kadavar - Abra Kadavar
  22. Brutus - Behind the Mountains*
  23. Mangled Dead - Hate Humans*
  24. Peacemaker - Cult .45*
  25. Mammoth Storm - Demo 2013
  26. Desert Storm - Horizontal Life*
  27. Demon Eye - E.P.
  28. Magic Circle - ST
  29. Mothership - ST
  30. Cardinals Folly - Strange Conflicts of the Past
* New Album

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Paranoid Top 25 Songs (07/17/13)

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. The Imposter (Dozer / split single w/ Nymf)
  2. The Secret Spot (Scorpion Child / ST)
  3. Devils II (Witches of God / The Blood of Others)
  4. Black Colossus (Zeppheroin / Howl)
  5. Maleficia Lamiah (Pombagira / Maleficia Lamiah)
  6. Volcanic Winter (Mammoth Storm / Demo 2013)
  7. Mind Crawler (Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats / Mind Control)
  8. Twisted Light (The Black Angels / Indigo Meadow)
  9. The Bull (The Ruiner / digital single)
  10. [Devil's Grip] Driven Insane (The Gates of Slumber / Stormcrow EP)
  11. So Deep (Ape Skull / ST)*
  12. Chemical Fog (Shallow Grave / ST)
  13. Hole In Your Head (Cultura Tres / Rezando Al Miedo)
  14. The Protean Towers (High Priest of Saturn / ST)
  15. Live Forever (Black Sabbath / 13)*
  16. Lucy in the Sky with Demons (Temple of Nothing / Psalms of Solitary Self-Indulgence)
  17. Running on Fumes (Lowburn / Soaring High EP)
  18. The Age of Salem (Salem's Pot / digital track)
  19. Kingmaker (Spiritual Beggars / Earth Blues)
  20. Drakon, It's Shadow Upon Us (Black Oath / Ov Qliphoth And Darkness)
  21. Mutated Dracula (The Mangled Dead / Hate Humans)*
  22. Suicidal Slayer (Rote Mare / The Kingdom)*
  23. At the Cromlech (Kröwnn / Hyborian Age)
  24. Hecate (Demon Eye / ST)*
  25. Hand of Lucifer (Doublestone / ST)*
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
Caul of Time (Beastwars / Blood Becomes Fire)
Already Dead (Devil to Pay / Fate is Your Muse)
Ancient Song (Geezer / Gage EP)
Hysteria (Mount Salem / Endless EP)
Eyes of Zamiel (Demon Lung / The Hundredth Name)
The Blackness of my Soul Will Be So Great As To Make the Night Weep (Tentacle / Ingot Eye)

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Fair Warning! Don't Miss ... Brain Pyramid (Magic Carpet Ride)

Rambling down the dusty old trail by way of France, Brain Pyramid just want to blow some heads open with their acid blues jams.  Bands like Savoy Brown, Killing Floor, Love Scultpure, Free, Bakerloo, The Groundhogs and Ten Years After finally have a suitable successor in this trio.  Liberal helpings of wah and other guitar effects mix with a lazy vocal delivery to create a crazed atmosphere where ... 'things' ... are all happening man ... and 'stuff' ... but none of it seems to bother the Brain Pyramid.  They simply let the world buzz on by in its self-importance while they weave intoxicating spells in the blues idiom for all who will listen.  Heads take note, this is brain-melting psychedelic blues for the 21st century.  Fans of Ape Skull and Tangerine Stoned, won't want to miss Brain Pyramid.

"It’s in the non-psychedelic town of Rennes that the Trio formed, Brain Pyramid was born by the meeting of Baptiste (drum) and Gaston (guitar/vocals) in october 2012, they were quickly joined by maxime (bass), but after shows with him he had to leave for his studies. He was replaced right after by Ronan (already playing in the Doom Stoner band Huata), met during a show.

"The band started with couples of jams, and then constructed itself little by little to become what they are now, a sound full of the guitar-player’s 60’s and 70’s influences : Heavy Psych and Heavy Rock stuff like Blue Cheer, Toad, Jimi Hendrix, Leaf Hound... But also a very tied rythm section that remind us the desert rock sound with bands such as Kyuss, Sleep, without forget classic : Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin....

"The Trio recorded his first EP at the end of march 2013 : that first try has to aim giving the public a whole idea of the sound and the set of the band.

"Brain Pyramid is now searchin for live experiences, to play a lot and give a strong, acid and cosmic music to your Brain !

"Brain Pyramid did mainly shows in their hometown of Rennes, in bars and little scene.

"We shared the stage with Psych bands like Prisma Circus or Cheap Wine, this summer we’ll be playing the Celebration Days Festival with bands such as Aqua Nebula Oscillator, Blues Pills, Dean Allen Foyd, Mud Walk...

"In december we’ll receive in Rennes Russian Band The Grand Astoria."

Brain Pyramid on facebook

'Magic Carpet Ride' is currently available as a Pay What You Want download on bandcamp (click links on the player below) and an extremely limited edition of 50 CD copies for a measly 3 Euros.  Collectors: that's a solid investment.

One more thing, look at that album cover.  It's a carpet, a 'magic' carpet, but the format doesn't quite work because it's square.  If you ask me, this thing is begging, BEGGING for a cassette tape release as the rectangular shape would bring that cover to a whole new dimension.  Enjoy the music responsibly ...

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Fair Warning! Don't Miss ... Deep - Vol. 1

Deep emerged from the ocean of underground bands without much hype or fanfare, but a great deal of enthusiasm from reviewers (including my review over at Temple of Perdition).  At this point, they are a potential sleeper pick for many "year end lists" while still remaining ensconced in shadow among listeners.  Their music is a strange beast, a study in experimental sounds, rich and dark tones poured across pan fried fuzz.  The lo-fi recording of 'Vol. 1' brings out the live vibrancy, urgency and immediacy of the music that is as refreshing in itself as the sounds are original.

Here's an excerpt from my review on Temple of Perdition:

"Deep is one of the most original sounding and imaginative bands I’ve heard in a long while.  They take the basic elements of stoner and doom music and, in a 360 degree fluid environment, carry those elements to strange places, making unexpected blind leaps within the gloom.  Such creativity is the very stuff of life itself.  If the world ran on logic alone there would be very little to do but be trampled upon and die.  Well there’s no trampling where this band is coming from.  It is believed that 80 percent of all organic life on earth lives within the deep.  It is within this teeming spirit that Deep’s 8 song album finds its home. 

Plunge into the paper thin production and razor sharp fuzz of opening track “Sun” and right away the band name begins to take shape and make sense.  One thing that can’t be passed without further mention is the fuzz tone which sounds at times like the band is running a fuzzbox through a Tesla coil rather than a guitar and amp.  “Sun” bobs atop the surface with the brightest sound on the record and it is after this point that we dive down into ever-darkening layers where internal thought is the only companion."
Once again, don't take my word for it, check them out for yourself at the following links:

Deep's facebook page

Friday, 12 July 2013

Hour of Power 07/12/13

  1. You're Mine (Black Angels / Indigo Meadow) 2013
  2. Ethereal Sword (Galvano / Two Titans) 2012
  3. Bedridden (Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals / Walk Through Exits Only) 2013
  4. Monstrance Clock (Ghost BC / Infestissumam) 2013
  5. The Siberian Problem (Peacemaker / Cult .45) 2013
  6. Beelzefuzz album teaser 2013
  7. Untitled New Song [live] (Moon Curse / TBA[?] Live at Days of the Doomed III) 2013
  8. Trample the Dead (The Legend of Bert / Trample the Dead) 2013
  9. Space Orchid vs. Massive Drumkit (The Grand Astoria / Punkadelia Supreme) 2013
  10. All Life Long (Lowburn / digital single) 2013
  11. Yesterday's Gone (Miss Lava / Red Supergiant) 2013
  12. Big Fat Boogie (Brutus / Behind the Mountains) 2013
  13. Ice Worm (The Gates of Slumber / Conqueror) 2008 'classic video'

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Paranoid Top 25 Songs (07/10/13)

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. The Imposter (Dozer / split single w/ Nymf)
  2. The Secret Spot (Scorpion Child / ST)
  3. Caul of Time (Beastwars / Blood Becomes Fire)
  4. Already Dead (Devil to Pay / Fate is Your Muse)
  5. Ancient Song (Geezer / Gage EP)
  6. Devils II (Witches of God / The Blood of Others)
  7. Maleficia Lamiah (Pombagira / Maleficia Lamiah)
  8. Twisted Light (The Black Angels / Indigo Meadow)
  9. Hysteria (Mount Salem / Endless EP)
  10. Black Colossus (Zeppheroin / Howl)
  11. Lucy in the Sky with Demons (Temple of Nothing / Psalms of Solitary Self-Indulgence)
  12. Volcanic Winter (Mammoth Storm / Demo 2013)
  13. The Bull (The Ruiner / digital single)
  14. Mind Crawler (Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats / Mind Control)*
  15. Eyes of Zamiel (Demon Lung / The Hundredth Name)
  16. Running on Fumes (Lowburn / Soaring High EP)
  17. The Blackness of my Soul Will Be So Great As To Make the Night Weep (Tentacle / Ingot Eye)
  18. Hole In Your Head (Cultura Tres / Rezando Al Miedo)*
  19. [Devil's Grip] Driven Insane (The Gates of Slumber / Stormcrow EP)
  20. Chemical Fog (Shallow Grave / ST)*
  21. The Age of Salem (Salem's Pot / digital track)*
  22. The Protean Towers (High Priest of Saturn / ST)
  23. Drakon, It's Shadow Upon Us (Black Oath / Ov Qliphoth And Darkness)*
  24. Kingmaker (Spiritual Beggars / Earth Blues)
  25. At the Cromlech (Kröwnn / Hyborian Age)
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
Gun You Down (Ape Machine / Mangled By the Machine)
Join the Sabbath (Chains / single)
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Alice in Chains / The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here)
Demons on Wheels (Devil / Gather the Sinners)
Secret of the Fox (Half Gramme of Soma / ST)

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Werewolves in Siberia - The Rising (album review)

When I'm not reviewing albums or interviewing bands and musicians, I write fiction, specifically horror fiction.  Writing fiction without music is like building with bricks and no mortar.  To me, Doom is the music of horror and that's one of the reasons I got hooked on the stuff in the first place.  Now, most bands within the Doom genre don't often directly borrow elements from Goblin, John Carpenter or Mike Oldfield (although some do), the horror in Doom is a manifestation of fear and morbid musings.  The bands within it often push the music of horror into new places and dimensions.  Werewolves in Siberia does not fall within the genre of doom, nor does it fall under any of its various subgenre, but, from a purely retrospective point of view, it represents the purest strain of horror music one can encounter.  Werewolves in Siberia is a one-man horror synth project out of Idaho.  Chris Cavoretto, the man-wolf from Siberia (by way of Idaho) behind the music, comes from the worlds of metal and hardcore and slathers his compositions in those sensibilities.  Fans of late seventies / early eighties horror films and their soundtracks will find a lot to love in his latest offering, 'The Rising'.

There are other electro horror synth artists out there that one can find on bandcamp: Umberto and Giallo Disco stir from the same pool of inspiration, but Werewolves in Siberia separate themselves from the pack.  Even within this weird subgenre they are different.  Where those other artists can be labelled as IDM with a dark twist, Werewolves is pure darkness with an electronic twist.  The visions of Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Don Coscarelli and George Romero are the very substance of 'The Rising'.  What makes Werewolves worthy of your attention as a Paranoid Hitsophrenic reader are the metallic touches Cavoretto brings to the table, most notably on "Destruction".  Heavy bass synth that at times recalls the most violent tones and textures of Nine Inch Nails' "Pretty Hate Machine" while attaining an iconic hook.

"The Hunt for Humans" is a fine example of how the music will grow and mutate from a basic idea or framework into something more complex and ultimately more horrible.  Use of solid drumming, of which Cavoretto statesis the one element of this project he considers to be directly influenced by his metal roots, increases tension, gives it a high 'danger factor' and grounds this mostly digital creation in a solid reality.  In this way, the music itself illuminates the name of the band, where slow building music becomes a living metaphor for lycanthropic transformation.

"Night of the Flesheaters" and "Blood Moon" keep things moving along this same track.  Ever-expanding darkness and ever-increasing tension.   As each song starts, one often gets the mental impression of a small group of survivors huddled together in a stairwell exit or tomb or forest etc., the song structure itself then becomes a study in the imaginary characters not quite making their collective escapes.  That's what kind of album this is.  There is no happy ending here.

Of course, it's this image-making, however bleak, which is the real appeal of this album.  The truth is, had such horror luminaries as those directors listed above not enlisted the aid of such composers as Goblin for example, this kind of album would hold no charms for rock and metal people.  As it is I can't recommend Umberto and Giallo Disco here because their sounds, though inspired by the very same horror films and soundtracks of the seventies as WIS, are simply too bright and dance oriented.  Thankfully, Werewolves in Siberia's vision is as pure and unrelenting as it is dark.  'The Rising' will not inspire you to dance, 'The Rising' will inspire you to turn all the lights on and lock all the doors and windows.

I don't need to tell you, this kind of thing is not to everyone's taste, but it is to mine.  I love the horror films and their soundtracks that were coming out around the time I was born and just before.  This was the genre's peak.  'The Rising' represents a return to the summit for frightening instrumental synth music.  This album is a flame thrower to the kerosene of imagination.  'The Rising' is pure horror music.

Highlights include: "Destruction" and "Blood Moon"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 28:20

From: Siberia, Idaho

Genre: Horror, Synth, Electronic

Reminds me of: Blizaro, John Carpenter, Giallo Disco, Goblin, Northwinds, Qosmic Qey, Umberto

Release Date: March 12, 2013

Better Reviews:
UK Horror Scene

Zombie Hamster interview*

Werewolves in Siberia official website

Werewolves in Siberia on facebook

*special thanks to Zombie Hamster website for introducing a rich world of synth driven horror music to me through this interview!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Brutus - Behind the Mountains (album review)

Cover artwork by Maarten Donders
I first heard Norwegian retro rockin' stoner quintet Brutus when I found their video and put it on the Hour of Power about a month back.  You see folks, things like that are as much for my sake as they are for yours!  Since that time, the entire internet world hasn't been able to shut up about this band as anticipation began to build and the tension I felt towards ending that bleak period of my life that shall henceforth forever be known as "Brutus-less" was eating me up inside.  What's so amazing about these guys?  Aren't they just another Scandanavian retro rock band?  Yeah, basically, but also, not so much.  Permit me to try to demonstrate ...

Brutus just want to have fun, BUT, Brutus are also chased by demons; a darkness which they embrace and add fully to their music.  Thankfully however, that darkness doesn't manifest itself in morbid navel-gazing and boring pip-squeaky melancholia.  Even as the band is worried, hurried and harried through the dark forest, they're still crushing beer cans on their foreheads, belly belching like men do and generally causing whatever amounts of mischief and havoc as possible.

Their larger-than-life riffs weave between dead trees, chased through tall grass by a lasso swinging death's headed figure of doom on horseback.  Flirting with doom and coming out laughing like wild men, Brutus ends up looking like a group of deep woods survivors, edgy attitudes and etched faces.  The moods the band displays are all over the map, reflecting the rhythms of life, they have sides to match all scenes one may find oneself in, and provides the perfect soundtrack thereof.  I love the dark, dark overcast skies feel as stormclouds gather over creepy mansions on "Blue Pills" or as larvae-bearing ghost ships sail over dry land dropping their overflowing payload as they go on "Reflections".  But if it's the fun-and-sun filled, cruising with the top down getaway moments you're looking for, there's always "Big Fat Boogie" and "Personal Riot".  Or maybe you've already arrived at your destination, hot dogs on the end of sticks, sun going down or are simply looking for a good back porch stomper, well "Square Headed Dog"s got you covered there as well.  Do you plan on scaling the precarious face of a mountain in the deep forest with an escaped lab experiment gone wrong nipping at your heels?  Well "Mystery Machine" is the perfect tension building soundtrack to that exact scenario too.  Who knows, it might give you that extra boost you need to escape, heels intact.  It might even save your life.

Image courtesy of Dice Magazine.
But maybe not.  Basically, 'Behind the Mountains' is a handy album to bring around to maypole dances by day or ensorcelled orgies round the old hanging tree by night.  It both establishes and matches the mood of each event at different times.

Music was just better in the olden daze and Brutus number among the legions of Scandanavians who say "fuck it" and don't bother to update a sound, they just drive a stake through it and roast it with orange amps. Mmm, tasty!  What can I say to convince you that this band is better than all the other Scandanavian "retro rock" bands out there?  Nothing, nor would I want to.  Each one is different.  Brutus may be the most unique sounding of the bunch.  There's not any one or two specific bands that you could point to from bygone days, who this band uses as a point of reference or sounds like (well ... maybe Sabbath, but yeah, no two bands).  Theirs is an original sound never bordering on infringement.  As a matter of fact, it may be time to trash the well-worn label 'retro' regarding these lads and slap upon their rubber-burning bumper the fresh appellation of 'throwback'.  Yes folks, there is a difference!

Highlights include: "Personal Riot" and "Blue Pills"

Rating: 4.5/5

1). The Witches Remains (4:58)
2). Personal Riot (3:54)
3). Big Fat Boogie (3:43)
4). Blue Pills (6:11)
5). Square Headed Dog (4:39)
6). Mystery Machine (3:48)
7). Crystal Parrot (4:13)
8). Reflections (6:56)
9). Can't Help Wondering Why (6:41)
Total Run Time: 44:59

From: Paris, France

Genre: 'Throwback' Rock, Doom, Blues

Reminds me of: Kadavar, Witchcraft, Year of the Goat

Release Date: June 14, 2012

Better Reviews:
The Sleeping Shaman
Ech(((o)))es and Dust

Brutus on facebook


OR HERE (digital)

Friday, 5 July 2013

Tombstone - Where the Dead Belong (album review)

Cover artwork taken from "The Valley of Dry Bones" by Gustav Doré
"Here lies Paris borne power trio Tombstone (Alex, Johan and Clément).  Their rumblings shook the earth ..."

Tombstone is a relatively new band in the stoner and doom scene.  Don't feel bad if you've never heard of them.  They had a four song demo out last year and it was damn fine.  Thick, thick, smokey vibes nearly had the listener coughing and choking while listening to it.  This is their second release, but their first full-length and there have been changes or updates to the sound (more on that in a minute).  But if you're not already familiar with their demo, this is as good a place to jump in as any.  Tombstone rides the line between stoner and doom the way a witch rides a cursed wretch, suffocating in its granite block heaviness while retaining an eye catching beauty.  The guitar's tone is sharp but edged with fuzz, a fungal blade, studded and barbed with thick and deadly spores.

Strides have been made in a very short time.  'The Devil's Ride' demo was a good, dare I say strong opening salvo from a new band, but compared to 'Where the Dead Belong', it almost sounds inconsequential.  Right off the bat, the first thing you notice is the sound quality of this new release.  'The Devil's Ride' featured a murky production and a bevy of bum notes.  Of course, I just so happen to be the kind who digs that sort of thing, but there's no substitute for getting one's message across in the best light possible.  This new album does just that.

The band has brightened their sound considerably to go along with the greater sound quality.  That beautiful and heavy tone (can it be called a BBT [Big Beautiful Tone]?) is just one manifestation of this brightening.  The change in overall tone is most apparent on the re-recorded "Born of a Jackal".  A theme song for the band of sorts, it's at least three atmospheres less crushing than the original version, but there's a sleekness to the re-recording that makes it go down smooth.  Pressures still remain high throughout the record though, the ... strain ... unbearable ... on "No Tomorrow", a true slow, heavy and downtuned highlight.  In short, the riffs born under the jackal's moon are still sweetly nauseating in their tritonal rollercoastery.

Opening shot "Dance of the Dead" establishes the tone that the rest of the album will follow.  Vertigo inducing Riffs as big as the full moon as seen from the top of a crumbling mountain roll in waves, one after another, always satisfying.  The easiest, most natural thing in the world would be to compare what this band is doing to the stoned vibes of Sleep, specifically from that band's classic 'Holy Mountain' album, but that comparison might be a bit unfair to Tombstone.  Let's not get carried away here.  Still, there's a similar sensibility there to tone, mood and atmosphere.

Like fellow French doom/sludgesters Cult of Occult, Tombstone can infuse darkness into their music without having a particularly dark sound or tone to the instruments.  The darkness comes from the compositions themselves.  "Shrines", "No Sanctuary" and "Werewolf" in particular feature some ebon moods in counterpoint to the more stoner-y tone and feelings found on the record.  You can approach this album from different mindsets and it will sound appropriately different with each one.  In the end however, this album is all about Tombstone churning away riff after riff with a maniacal obsession.

Tombstone save the best of all for last with "Werewolf".  Ten minutes of incredibly dark and looming atmospheres, it's as catchy as it is bass heavy as it is epic in scope.  Somehow, the specific bass tone used here catches the full pregnant belly of the full moon in its all its silver glory, while the guitar and drums captures hectic scenes from the deep woods, the rush of grasping branches in your face and the warm night air running through your fur as you run down your panic-stricken prey.

This album has been streaming on bandcamp since January but was finally made available to download this very week.  Now get out there and get you some!

Highlights include: "Werewolf" and "No Tomorrow"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 40:18

From: Paris, France

Genre: Stoner, Doom

Reminds me of: Cathedral, Church of Misery, Green Shade, Kyuss, Sleep, Space Fog

Release Date: January 16, 2013

Better Reviews:
Temple of Perdition
Welcome to the Void

Doommantia interview

Tombstone on facebook

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Northwinds - Winter (album reviews)

Northwinds most recent album 'Winter' came out over a year ago but it's new to me and most likely it will be new to some of you out there.  However, the band is anything but new.  They've been kicking around for some 25 years or so now in one form or another, existing in large part in a virtual ghetto of doom in their home and native land of France.  But four full-length albums into their career and they remain undeterred in their aims, 'Winter' is all the better for it as I contend that it's this apparent Sisyphusian battle which has helped shape, inspire and spark the overall tone and themes of the album.

Themes of aging, slowing down and deterioration are clear and present without being overstated.  The album title 'Winter' alone gives one an idea of the thematic content found inside.  Cold happens when molecules slow down in their vital vibrations begind to shudder to a halt until atrophy sets in, when this happens, living organisms slow down and ultimately stiffen, collapse and die.  The intro "Turned To Stone" and later Angel Witch cover track "Gorgon" seem to symbolize the ultimate expression of these ideas and the logical conclusion of the state of 'cold' or 'winter'.  How much of this is "thematic statement" and how much is simply the band wanting to do an Angel Witch cover inspired by the 1964 Hammer film of the same name is debatable but the intro gives a clue that the band was clearly thinking about these themes rather carefully.

Other wintry feelings are provided by cold and distant atmospheres laid down by the keyboards.  This may be the most interesting and memorable element of the band.  Horror film soundtrack elements from the late eighties / early nineties lay a dark foundation for a decidedly intimate setting when the music opens up into seventies prog soundscapes for the verse.  This technique is used to amazing effect on "Land of the Dead" and "Black Tower" and it never ceases to heighten the mood of any of the songs on 'Winter'.  The prog elements are neither mathy nor overly layered with disparate elements and skyscraper song structures but contain a sensibility.  Moods materialize out of an ultimately laidback feeling from the guitars and vocals meeting with a powerful and energetic rhythm section.  Of course, 'Winter' is not a one note kind of album.

Northwinds are veterans and understand the energy that ought to go into each section of music and provide it accordingly with a deft hand.  As for the songs themselves, you'd be hard pressed to pick out one or two that standout above the others, but again, this isn't because all the songs sound alike.  Each song is incredibly different from the others.  The constants of style and 'voice' the band utilizes are durable, but also elastic and malleable.  No two songs sound alike, but I suspect if you like any one of them you'll like all the others due to the strong identity of the band.  "Last Chance" and the 22 minute epic title track "Winter" have Sabbath-like riffs and vibes while "Gorgon" and "Clear Windowpane" have more rocky elements and are just otherwise unlike anything else you'll hear within the genre of doom.  The latter Saint Vitus cover in particular is incredible.  Northwinds Infuses the song not only with funk elements but also with their own trademark keyboard laden atmospheres, this is the way cover versions are meant to be.  Take a song and make it your own.  As always, especially with "Gorgon", the emphasis is on instituting a cold and otherworldly atmosphere setting up the band for their knock out punch of energy, storytelling and melody.  "Winter" is a masterclass of combining the hell hot riffs of Sabbath with the moon cold soundscapes of Pink Floyd, throughout it all however Northwinds maintains that strong individual identity.

From the brief itunes clips I've heard up to this point of the rest of the band's recorded legacy, 'Winter' sounds like a punctuation of the various elements the band has incorporated into their sound over the years.  Much like the Maryland Doom masters Revelation, Northwinds started off as a fairly traditional metal band and has slowly over the years added layers of doomy progression and instrumental experimentation.  But, near as I can tell, there isn't much either within Northwinds' back catalogue nor within the entire oeuvre of doom that prepares the listener for this.

It's been said, the band have another album in the hopper called 'Eternal Winter' which will act as a companion to this one.  I for one am excited to hear it and to see how it compliments this album musically, if at all.  'Winter' is an excellent album, if you're a new fan, like me, or haven't yet had the privilege to listen to the band, this is a fine statement of atmosphere, tone, mood, riffs and individualistic identity.

Highlights include: "Black Tower" and "Land of the Dead"

Rating: 4/5

1). Turned to Stone (2:05)
2). Land of the Dead (7:02)
3). Last Chance (9:22)
4). Gorgon (6:23)
5). Black Tower (5:30)
6). Winter (22:03)
7). Clear Windowpane (3:24)
Total Run Time: 55:44

From: Paris, France

Genre: Prog, Doom

Reminds me of: Blizaro, Revelation

Release Date: May 4, 2012

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Album cover artwork inspired by 'Abbey in an Oak Forest' (1809) by Caspar David Friedrich

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