Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Doom Chart: Most Paranoid Songs of 10/30/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. South of the Earth (Iron Man / South of the Earth)
  2. Orchard (Windhand / Soma)
  3. Walk Through Exits Only (Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals / Walk Through Exits Only)
  4. I've Come for It All (Borracho / Oculus)
  5. La Chinga (La Chinga / ST)
  6. Lucifer Takes The Crown (NYMF / From the Dark)
  7. Soul Cheater (Peacemaker / Cult .45)
  8. The Jester's Clown (Wicked Inquisition / Silence Thereafter)
  9. Raíces (Chinaski / Resiliencia)
  10. Night Child (The Oath / 7" single)
  11. One Big Drag (The Heavy Co. / Midwest Electric)
  12. Kingdom (Sumeru / ST EP)***
  13. Death Is Another Word ... (Earthen Grave / ST)
  14. In the Nightmares of Snakes (Crowlord / Naked Chicks, Goats & Wolves)
  15. The Past Plus The Future Is Present (Ice Dragon / Born a Heavy Morning)***
  16. Ghost Rider Solar Plexus (Geezer / Gage EP)
  17. *Winter Is Coming (Church of Void / Dead Rising)
  18. Truth (The Dirty Streets / Blades of Grass)
  19. Abysmal (Hollow Leg / Abysmal)***
  20. Overthrone (Anciients / Heart of Oak)
  21. From Time ... To Eternity (Stone Magnum / From Time ... To Eternity)
  22. Berenjena Pipe (Weedpecker / ST)
  23. Dargona Dragona (Vista Chino / Peace)***
  24. Wheels of the World (Spirits of the Dead / Rumours of a Presence)
  25. Vow (Naam / Vow)
*This is the old version of the song, it has been re-recorded for the 'Dead Rising' album
*** New Song

Outgoing songs:
Goodbye Henry Anslinger (Curse the Son / Psychache)
Proximity Anxiety (Pyres / Year of Light)
I'm Lost (Ice Dragon / Born a Heavy Morning)
Paranoia Conspiracy (Trouble / The Distortion Field)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Manthra Dei - ST (album review)

Acid Cosmonaut Records is still a relatively new label, not the most prolific of labels, but of an incredibly high standard of output.  'Manthra Dei', the self-titled full-length debut from Brescia, Italy's quartet of psycho stoners, is just the third Acid Cosmonaut release (ACD-003) and continues to help cement the label's slowly growing reputation as a psychedelic stoner label that won't let you down.

The album opens roomily enough with the 11 minute "Stone Face", a song that showcases what the band has to offer: riffs and atmosphere in equal measure.  The song is a slow building, paranoia inducer.  Half way through the song things get intense.  It sounds like the soundtrack to the scene in a Swinging London exploitation film where the formerly good girl lead finds out that the drink that was offered to her by the cute boy with the long-ish hair in the sharp suit has been spiked with acid as the heated oil dances on the projector screen behind her.  It's an instrumental, a mode of operation which takes up the bulk of the album's run time.  It's not until we reach "Legendary Lamb" that we first hear the vocals of drummer Michele Crepaldi, a set-up which probably explains why there is so little of them.  But first, we have "Xolotl".

"Xolotl" is an Aztec deity associated with death, electrical storms and deformity.  I love this stuff.  You've got to love the Aztecs, only they would have a god of deformity.  And only Manthra Dei would boldly attempt to depict a god of death, lightning and deformity in a psychedelic instrumental drenched in sixties regalia.  For the curious, Xolotl is also associated with Lucifer, the morning star or Venus as it is in the heavens and in that form guided the sun into Mictlan, the Aztec underworld.  I apologize, I'm just a huge nerd for all things Mesoamerican.  The song itself was released as a digital single around two years ago and has been re-recorded and largely re-imagined for the album.  While the song may be less heavy than it was two years ago, it's also much brisker and moves at a better pace.  There's an almost jazz-fusion prog element that creeps into the playing of keyboardist Paolo Tognazzi by way of Camel or even Dave Sinclair of Caravan of Dave Stewart of Egg.  This song is all about storm-swept atmospherics with, once again, an emphasis on the ominous.

"Legendary Lamb" comes in and blast aside what has come before with the most straight-forward composition to be found on the album yet.  While on the surface the song wears the veil of a riff-centric hard rock tune with a traditional structure, it doesn't take long for the band to cast the veil aside and use the song as another showcase for their expert playing, with a particularly strong performance from guitarist Paolo Vacchelli.  It's clear when listening to "Legendary Lamb" that Manthra Dei loves playing music.  They seem less interested in writing catchy songs than they are finding a groove and sprinting over top of it.  Manthra Dei declare themselves here to be musician's musicians.

Well, for those that know me, it's no secret I'm a horror nut, so for me, the true standout highlight on this album comes in the form of the shortest, most understated track.  One gets the feeling, it's almost a thowaway kind of number, an interlude at best, but for my money, it's the climactic payoff to an enjoyable build-up.  "Urjammer" is a slow organ solo that is played by spiders descending on stringy webs to hit the keys.  That's how it sounds, anyway.  It's a creepy little 5 minute instrumental that revels in the ominous once again.  It becomes clear by this point, if it wasn't already, that Manthra Dei deals in the music of suspense, psychedelic thrillers in sound (anybody out there seen the psychedelic thriller Blow Up?  It's a great film.).  They would make good film composers, that's for sure, following in the colossal footsteps of proggy countrymen Goblin.

But, as I said earlier, in the grand scheme of things, "Urjammer" is little more than prelude to the album's big centerpiece "Blue Phantom".  At 17 minutes it dominates the second half of the album.  The song builds smartly with an ethereal soundtrack of lingering tones, pierced by blotches of sound, not entirely unlike the build-up of Pink Floyd's "Echoes" (their true post-Syd Barrett magnum opus).  The difference here is that Manthra Dei cuts the build-up short and unexpectedly punches into an uptempo workout that wouldn't have found them out of place in the Canterbury Scene of the late sixties.  It's not until after the bandhas had a satisfying workout that the building process begins anew.  Or maybe it's a demolition process as the musical declarations become more and more understated, the accents more and more muted we come to a place which sounds almost ancient Egyptian in it's rolling percussion and melodic ascending / descending string plucking.  The true hero on this number however is bassist Branislav Ruzicic who drives the entire 17 minute beast of a song forward like a slave master standing atop a 17 ton slab of stone with the thickest whip in the whole world.

The album is capped off by an acoustic reprise of the opener, "Stone Face", giving the album a sense of cyclical cohesion, but also advancement as attested by the change in instrumental approach.  'Manthra Dei' is a highlight of the year in the psychedelic instrumental world, a refreshing and satisfying 51 minutes that plays out like a love letter to the art of musicianship, the paisley world of the late 1960's and all things creepy and ominous.

Highlights include: "Urjammer" and "Xolotl"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 51:16

From: Brescia, Italy

Genre: Prog, Psychedelic, Hard Rock, Canterbury, Instrumental

Reminds me of: Caravan, Egg, Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Swinging London, Tangerine Stoned

Release Date: October 20, 2013

Manthra Dei on facebook

Monday, 28 October 2013

Old Man Wizard - Unfavorable (album review)

Cover artwork by Valin Mattheis.
When I get up on that old pale horse and ride to my final showdown with the grim reaper at high noon, Old Man Wizard's debut album, 'Unfavorable' would make an appropriate soundtrack to play 'on screen'.  Why?  Because the prog meets cowboy sounds in this here six gun LP blast just the right feel to sum up a life that has been both on the range (read: on the fringes of society) and frazzled in endlessly, overly-complex thought to chew through sleep with a voracious appetite (ie: progginess).  That, and there's a renaissance fair feel that creeps in to add a dash of whimsy which would make for as good a soundtrack to the final showdown as is possible.

That also seems like a good starting point to summarize the sounds on 'Unfavorable'.  Imagine the Man-With-No-Name riding through a heat shimmered desert ... and emerging out the other side of it to come upon a misty-shrouded castle in a lake.  Old Man Wizard strikes a balance between six shooters and sorcery, cacti and moats, saloons and dungeons.  Now imagine that 'film' set to a seventies prog rock score and you ought to get the picture.  Only, let's remove Clint Eastwood from the role of hero, and go with Sean Connery a la Zardoz and we're right where we want to be.  Yeah, that's the ticket.

The album starts out with a pair of cowboy tunes.  "The Highwayman" kicks things off with a spaghetti western march before spilling into a mess of punk tempos.  The remarkable thing here is the way main man Francis Roberts and co. can bring things back around to a cowboy feel for the chorus.  Next up, later that night, the campfire still aglow, the imaginary cowboy sits against a flat rock eating his can of beans as the slow ballad "If Only" plays.  This is also the place where the 'Wizard' part of the band name begins to take form with it's Old English ballad melody.

"Nightmare Rider" takes the peaceful feelings of "If Only" and trots all over them like so many dead leaves.  It actually reminds me of that scene in the animated version of Lord of the Rings where they have to hide in the roots of the old tree from the Black Rider.  Anyone remember that one?  Classic.  "Nightmare Rider" captures that feel with thick, heavy and dark tones punctuated by exuberant melody.  It's a study in storytelling, the music evoking the strong imagery told in the lyrics like ectoplasmic vapor arising from a tombstone.

"The Bearded Fool" has long been a favorite at Paranoid Hitsophrenic as it was released some months ago on bandcamp backed with "Traveler's Lament".  The explosive riffs of "Bearded Fool" are embellished with eerie synth-work.  The whole thing's got a Yes feel, only with deeper vocals and about a tenth of the song length.  It's a great song that rewards endlessly on repeat plays.  It's b-side companion is the folkiest number among the bunch.  It also has a classic Brit pop psych otherwordliness to the performances and lyrics.  This is the moment when our wizard-hat cowboy rides into the misty moor and finds the damsel fair captive in the castle tower.  Or maybe a cave near the entrance of mist-shrouded Olympus.  Either way, this is mythological music.

I had the great pleasure of premiering the last track on this album, "Forevermore" at the beginning of the month (find it right here), so I was able to discuss it briefly then.  As an album closer, it leaves the listener bruised and hungry for more.  Groovy as hell.  I love it.  And this is right when the Grim Reaper and I are standing back to back, about to take our ten paces.  And as you're watching the scene play out, you just know that your wizard-hatted hero (okay not Sean Connery after all, but me with a mustache and no beard and in the Zardozian bandolier [now try not to imagine it, haha!]) will not survive this duel.  No one does.  And yet, it's hard to imagine a more heroic stance to take, a more fitting final scene or a better, more suitable soundtrack playing.

This is 'desert rock' in the truest sense of the term (well, except for an actual stone from the desert), spaghetti western sounds braided with the mirage-induced imagery of fantasy by way of classic ballad like melodies and proggy punctuations.  The horseback riders in this story substitute crescent moon-speckled wizard hats in place of stetsons, the wizards substitute pistols for wands but there is no substitute for a great tune.  'Unfavorable' has six of them.

The full six track album will be released on vinyl and as a digital download on November 1 on bandcamp, but you can pre-order the album right now and walk away with "The Bearded Fool" and "Traveler's Lament".  There's also other goodies on the bandcamp page as well, like t-shirts and things.  Just click the links on the player below to have a look.

Highlights include: "The Bearded Fool" and "The Highwayman"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 31:27

From: San Diego, California

Genre: Prog, Stoner, Folk, Hard Rock

Reminds me of: Corsair, Ennio Morricone, Excalibur, The Gunslinger, The Holy Grail, Montenegro, Tumbleweed Dealer, Yes, Zardoz

Release Date: November 1, 2013

Old Man Wizard on facebook

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Doom Chart: Most Paranoid Albums of 10/26/13

Top 30 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Iron Man - South of the Earth
  2. Windhand - Soma
  3. Monster Magnet - Last Patrol
  4. Borracho - Oculus
  5. La Chinga - ST
  6. Curse the Son - Psychache
  7. Sasquatch - IV
  8. Beelzefuzz - ST
  9. Earthen Grave - ST
  10. Church of Void - Dead Rising
  11. Spiral Shades - The Hypnosis Sessions (Demo)
  12. NYMF - From the Dark
  13. Horisont - Time Warriors
  14. Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals - Walk Through Exits Only
  15. Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu
  16. At Devil Dirt - Plan B: Sin Revolucion no Hay Evolucion
  17. **Fangs of the Molossus - ST
  18. The Heavy Company - Midwest Electric
  19. Yidhra - Hexed
  20. Blood Red Water - All the Ills of Mankind
  21. Red Fang - Whales & Leeches***
  22. Tombstones - Red Skies & Dead Eyes***
  23. Hollow Leg - Abysmal
  24. The Dirty Streets - Blades of Grass
  25. Sumeru - ST EP
  26. Seremonia - Ihminen***
  27. Goatess - ST
  28. Vista Chino - Peace
  29. Argus - Beyond the Martyrs
  30. Wicked Inquisition - Silence Thereafter
** Message the band at the link provided to purchase a copy of the CD
*** New Album

Hour of Power 10/26/13 (playlist)

  1. Goodbye Gemini (Blood Ceremony / The Eldritch Dark) 2013
  2. Children of the Sun (Nightstalker / Dead Rock Commandos) 2012
  3. Heartbreaker (Motörhead / Aftershock) 2013
  4. Loner (Black Sabbath / 13) 2013
  5. Golachab (Saturnalia Temple / Impossibilum EP) 2013
  6. Go Blind (Shooting Guns / Brotherhood of the Ram) 2013
  7. Ride to Ruin (Hollow Leg / Abysmal) 2013
  8. Conscience (At Devil Dirt / Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución) 2013
  9. Evil Eye (Fu Manchu / The Action Is Go) 1997 'classic clip'
And a special bonus:
10.  Cooking Hostile with Phil Anselmo Episode 1 2013

Friday, 25 October 2013

At Devil Dirt - Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución (album review)

40 years ago ...

Augusto Pinochet, commander-in-chief of the Chilean army stages a successful coup d'etat against President Allende, the man who had appointed him to the position.  He would hold the reigns of power in the country for the next 17 years.

Months ago ...

Memories resonate and echo across time.  A shadow passes over the earth, traveling at twice the speed of sound.  I'm picking up a transmission from the universe as the shadow approaches.  60's underground psychedelia, Smashing Pumpkins 'Siamese Dream' album and a kind of positive social Darwinism will collide with Chainsaw fuzz to formulate a Plan B from outer space.  It's going to cause a stir.  It's going to change opinions.  It's going to solidify things then take them in new directions.  This is what it will look like to see individuals embody the very expansion of the universe ...

Today ...

The first thought that occurs to me is 'Siamese Dream', but mostly just the heavy, catchy parts of that album.  For the last At Devil Dirt album, 'Chapter II', the first thought that occurred to me was 'Songs for the Deaf'.  Is this evolution?  Is it revolution?  Well for those of us who have been following the course the band has taken in the interim, the transition should come as little surprise.  Besides, it's not as pronounced as I'm making it out to be.  At Devil Dirt is still At Devil Dirt and the dust and dirt that settles on Chilean streets still churn and dance with their immutable power, but let's say there's an extra teaspoon of sugar in this recipe and, importantly, an extra serving's worth of variation.

At Devil Dirt have the increasingly rare ability to craft memorable choruses.  I'm not just talking about pleasant or catchy hooks here, I'm talking about statements with the power of a politically charged lullaby.  Aldous Huxley discussed the ability of melody to worm its way into the mind and change opinion in his 1959 non-fiction book Brave New World Revisited from the chapter "The Art of Selling":

"...melodies tend to ingrain themselves in the listener's mind.  A tune will haunt the memory during the whole of a lifetime.  Here, for example, is a quite uninteresting statement or value judgment.  As it stands nobody will pay attention to it.  But now set the words to a catchy and easily remembered tune.  Immediately the become words of power.  Moreover, the words will tend automatically to repeat themselves every time the melody is heard or spontaneously remembered.  Orpheus has entered into an alliance with Pavlov - the power of sound with the conditioned reflex.  For the commercial propagandist, as for his colleagues in the fields of politics and religion, music possesses yet another advantage.  Nonsense which it would be shameful for a reasonable being to write, speak or hear spoken, can be sung or listened to by that same rational being with pleasure and even with a kind of intellectual conviction."

Such power is dangerous in the wrong hands.  At Devil Dirt have scored the kind of sing-songy messages that are not easily forgotten at least twice on this album:  the title track, and the album's closer "There Is Not A God Or A Devil" (also featured on the Chilean Fuzz II compilation [see the review here]).  The band understands that simplicity is the usher of memory and that this simplicity invites a listener / audience sing along.  John Lennon had the ability to pen anthems with "Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine" being the finest examples of his politically charged message songs.  It's also clear that At Devil Dirt had Lennon in mind while creating 'Plan B'.  Lennon's "Across the Universe" is covered here (interestingly sequenced right before "There Is Not a God Or A Devil") and the song is smothered in about three inches of dark fuzz.  The Chilean duo had shown the ability to pen simplistic anthemic tunes on 'Chapter II' and that ability has been focused like a laser to match their intent on 'Plan B'.

Of course, it isn't just the above mentioned songs that show this mind-worming catchiness.  I begin to wonder whether or not the band can really help but write incredibly catchy songs.  Opening pair "Don't See You Around" and "Conscience" are marvels of eloquent catchiness.  This is the form the band's evolution has taken, it's all about focus.

As for the revolutionary, AT Devil Dirt tries some things that are altogether new to their sound.  "40 Years Ago" becomes a 13 and a half minute "sound-painting", not entirely unlike "Revolution 9", with clips and samples of what I must only assume is Chile's own notorious dictator, Pinochet propagandizing.  The song is bookended by more traditional sounds, including one of vocalist Nestor Ayala's most ambitious choruses yet, as he experiments with Alice in Chains style dissonance.  Fortunately, the adventurous melody is met by perhaps his most ambitious and far reaching lyrics yet, telling the story of Pinochet and the plight of the Chilean people during his 17 year reign.  I'm not even going to pretend to know what living under a dictator is like, but it is heartening to know that there are those out there who chose not to forget and are still driven to tell the story.  Another branch of At Devil Dirt's revolution is the abundance of slower songs, specifically on side B, something that was missing entirely from 'Chapter II'.  That album could be accused of being a bit samey, however kick-ass.  But perhaps the most surprising strike here in the band's musical coup d'etat is the bluesy acoustic "Time To Flee".  There is absolutely no doubt at all that the band has pulled out all the stops on their latest record and that the band has invested their hearts, minds and souls into its execution.

Years from now, after the revolution ...

When the shadow had passed over the earth, finally completing its orbit, it punched into escape velocity, it's work finished.  Down below a confused murmur arose.  Could it have been a dream?  Had it all really happened?  Yes, the Earth remained the Earth, and there was no way you could feel the difference between day to day and yet it was there.  Something had changed.  Something essential had shifted.  The heavens did not rejoice, the sky did not sing and to a man, the human race went quietly about its business.  Yet somewhere within the heart of every one a confidence pulsated and they knew instinctively, they were ready for the next step ...

'Plan B' will be made available in most musical formats between Halloween and March 2014.  The digital version of the album will be available on bandcamp from October 30 while CD and cassette copies will be distributed from December 15.  The vinyl edition will be out in March from Bilocation Records.

Highlights include: "Sin Revolución no hay Evolución" and "There Is Not a God or a Devil"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 55:20

Néstor "Gato" Ayala (Guitar/Vocals)
Francisco "Hongo" Alvarado (Drums)

From: Santiago, Chile

Genre: Stoner, Psychedelic, Blues, Doom, Sludge

Reminds me of: John Lennon, Smashing Pumpkins

Release Date: October 30, 2013

At Devil Dirt on facebook

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Chilean Fuzz II Compilation (album review)

Spicy cover artwork by Christian Spencer.

With the holiday season lurking just around the corner, everyday life has you stressed.  Petty bosses, bitchy co-workers, mouthy kids, disobedient pets, disinterested spouse; it's enough to finally push you over the edge!  Why not take a stoned trip down to Fuzz Country?  That's right, for just a single American dollar you can luxuriate in the finest of fuzz at a 20-star resort designed by renowned fuzz architect Christian Spencer (of the firm Barbara y Los Rotos Del Rock).  Bask in the desert heat, fall into the sun and enjoy a relaxing swim, or go paragliding with Icarvs!  Thirsty?  No problem, Savannah has you covered, which type of blood do you prefer?  It's all on tap from A to O and back to AB.  So, what are you waiting for?  Come on down and find out what all the fuzz is about!
*this is not a paid advertisement.  Chilean Fuzz is not responsible for accidental death.  Some restrictions may apply, see coupon for details.


Now, a return engagement.  How can I stay away from the Land of Fuzz?  The last Chilean Fuzz was an absolute treasure trove of riffs and a welcome stack of homework of bands to discover (see review here).  A couple short weeks ago Chilean Fuzz II: The Sequel landed in the collective lap of the universe like a surprise gift from the fuzz gods, and I for one was not upset about this at all.

Once again, I can't help but marvel at the never-ending crop of bands the country yields.  Soponcio opens things up and officially joins the ranks of incredible CF Comp discoveries alongside Lisergico, Bruto, Piedraseca, Chevy, Acido and Perro Loco from the first volume.  They were present on volume I, but really shine through here with "Vena".  Other songs from new Chilean Fuzz bands to blow your mind to come from Savannah with "Blood Drinker".  The band Convoy has an absolute barnburner on this one and the punkish selection from Dosis does its part to bring the house down.  The last couple tracks on the album by Mosto and Bagual are absolute pounders.

Some of the new Chilean Fuzz Comp bands are a little rough around the edges in recording and delivery (see Turbo Diesel & Kayros) but add the matte finish of grit-encrusted coal to a largely polished collection of gems.  Barbara y Los Rotos Del Rock are a more established band but add to the roughness with "Stereoparanoico" (love that title!), the first new sounds from the band since their excellent EP from February 2012 (review here).  We've not heard them rougher or readier than this before.

As for the rest of the veteran presence we've got the aforementioned Barbara y Los Rotos Del Rock, Piedraseca, Icarus Gasoline, Chevy, Bruto with an unassailable highlight from their new album and the immortal At Devil Dirt.  I wanted to talk a bit about At Devil Dirt's contribution, "There Is Not a God Or a Devil" from the new album, but I'll elect to wait for the ADD review.  It's songs like this though, that create added value to the collection as you get a preview of the unreleased new album from one of the truly great bands in the world.  Not just anybody can bring you that!  Piedraseca continues to stand out with dangerous grooves on "Perdidos en el Desierto".  If I was slightly on the fence about this band I'm not anymore, I place them among Chile's elite fuzz bands and continue to hope for a full-length sometime in the relatively near future.  And my goodness, speaking of the country's elite, Icarus Gasoline's number "Roma en el Sol" is a laidback monster of groove.  Recalling perhaps some of the subtler, sexier moments of ZZ Top, you can almost see the desert sunshine blaze through your squinting eyes with this one playing.

It speaks volumes about the current state of the Chilean fuzz rock scene that Mr. Spencer can put together two such compilations of 20 (or more) songs each with very little overlap in terms of the bands that appear on these things within the space of a single year.  Volume II may not be as strong overall as its predecessor but is still stuffed with highlights.  And it all fits on a single CD, which is a plus for some of us.  If you're still under the impression that all the best fuzz bands in the world hail from Europe and North America it's time to get with the program.  Book a fuzz holiday with your travel agent and go on down to the land of fuzz.

Highlights include: "There Is Not a God Or Devil" by At Devil Dirt and "Perdidos en el Desierto" by Piedraseca

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 1:17:57

Genre: Stoner, Desert Rock, Doom

Release Date: October 2, 2013

Chilean Fuzz on facebook

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Doom Chart: Most Paranoid Songs of 10/23/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. La Chinga (La Chinga / ST)
  2. Goodbye Henry Anslinger (Curse the Son / Psychache)
  3. Orchard (Windhand / Soma)
  4. Ghost Rider Solar Plexus (Geezer / Gage EP)
  5. One Big Drag (The Heavy Co. / Midwest Electric)
  6. Proximity Anxiety (Pyres / Year of Light)
  7. Raíces (Chinaski / Resiliencia)
  8. In the Nightmares of Snakes (Crowlord / Naked Chicks, Goats & Wolves)
  9. The Jester's Clown (Wicked Inquisition / Silence Thereafter)
  10. I'm Lost (Ice Dragon / Born a Heavy Morning)
  11. Lucifer Takes The Crown (NYMF / From the Dark)
  12. I've Come for It All (Borracho / Oculus)***
  13. Soul Cheater (Peacemaker / Cult .45)***
  14. From Time ... To Eternity (Stone Magnum / From Time ... To Eternity)
  15. South of the Earth (Iron Man / South of the Earth)***
  16. *Winter Is Coming (Church of Void / Dead Rising)
  17. Death Is Another Word ... (Earthen Grave / ST)***
  18. Night Child (The Oath / 7" single)
  19. Berenjena Pipe (Weedpecker / ST)
  20. Truth (The Dirty Streets / Blades of Grass)
  21. Walk Through Exits Only (Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals / Walk Through Exits Only)***
  22. Overthrone (Anciients / Heart of Oak)***
  23. Wheels of the World (Spirits of the Dead / Rumours of a Presence)
  24. Vow (Naam / Vow)
  25. Paranoia Conspiracy (Trouble / The Distortion Field)
*This is the old version of the song, it has been re-recorded for the 'Dead Rising' album
*** New Song

Outgoing songs:
Mystery Machine (Brutus / Behind the Mountains)
Illuminati (Spiral Shades / Hypnosis Sessions)
Lonely Creatures (Beelzefuzz / ST)
Dirty Ceiling (Tangerine Stoned / ST)
Supersun (Mothersloth / Hazy Blur of Life)
Something Sweet (Black Wizard / Young Wisdom)

Hollow Leg - Abysmal (album review)

Cover artwork by Shawn Garrett.
Everything about Hollow Leg is aggressive, from the lyrics to the Pike-ian vocals, from the floor tom pounding drums to the heavy handed way in which they're played.  It's a trait that I find is shared in common with many Florida based bands, a regional in-your-face flavor.  But aggression isn't just chest beating forcefulness, it can also take the form of insistence and when it comes to catchiness and hooks, Hollow Leg drives hard to the hoop and takes it to the house.

And right off the bat, Hollow Leg puts its best foot forward.  Yes, there are puns here.  Album opener, "Abysmal" is the absolute inversion of its name, much like the inverted cross in the wolf's face which graces the album's cover.  No, I'm not talking antonyms.  I'm talking terrific.  I'm talking about a tune torn from the terrifying territory of doom.  The title track of this here album moves you.  It's heavy, groovy, addictive and if and when we're talking about songs of the year, absolutely essential to the conversation.  Driving rhythms duke it out with descending riffs and those vocals.  This shows you the band means business.   And then, as if to prove "Abysmal" is no fluke, the ones with the hollow legs unleash "Ride to Ruin" on your battered ass.  There's an 'it' factor here, my friends.

But first, the band some other sides to show you.  "8 Dead (In a Mobile Home)" spills directly from the mouth of "Abysmal" and is in many ways more low key and yet an entirely appropriate follow up.  Slower and more menacing, this songs gives a good glimpse as to what to expect from this band for the most part on side A, which is lumbering riffs met with a cascading punctuation of crash.  It also happens to be one of the stand out tracks on this debut effort.

And, as if the lyrics and sounds of the first three tracks aren't enough to emphasize the band's keen sense of horror, instrumental track "Pompeii" slams down an almost Nightmare on Elm Street-ish keyboard-like guitar effect with altogether shattering and destructive force.  It needs to be heard to be believed.  This track leads right in "Ride to Ruin".  I don't know, the more I hear it, the more it rivals the title track for catchiness and groove.  It's kind of a toss up here for which one's best, they are both amazing songs.  "Ride to Ruin" just may have you pumping your fist, punching the air in wide swinging arcs.

"The Dog" isn't far behind these two in effectiveness either.  By now the pattern is set, Hollow Leg makes much of hanging moments and empty space.  That's what establishes your swamp funk groove.  They keep it coming too, even towards the end of the disc, relentless in their pursuit of neck breaking grooves.  "Cry Havoc" is perhaps the most musically far-reaching track on the album and brings a return to that mysterious guitar effect while taking the groove to pulsating places.

'Abysmal' is available as a digital download and on LP, you can find both on bandcamp by following the links on the player below.  If you like aggressive and groovy doom, you won't be disappointed

Highlights include: "Ride To Ruin" and "Abysmal"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 35:30


From: Jacksonville, Florida

Genre: Doom, Sludge

Reminds me of: Beastwars, Eyehategod, Shroud Eater

Release Date: July 30, 2013

Hollow Leg on facebook

Monday, 21 October 2013

Myelin Constellation Compilation (album review)

Amazing cover art by Steve Somers.
A few weeks back I posted a press release from Matt Schmitz of the band Sleestak about the Myelin Constellation compilation he was putting together (find it here).  It's a benefit compilation.  Mr. Schmitz's wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and the proceeds from the compilation will go to help the Schmitz family deal with mounting medical bills and I suggest you read the press release to appreciate the full scope of the problem and the cause to which this project benefits.  But aside from that, what makes the Myelin Constelation benefit compilation special from a musical standpoint is that each and every one of the 20 songs on it is either rare or previously unreleased.  There are live versions, unreleased remixes, demos and outright unreleased songs.  There are songs here from such Paranoid favorites as Wo Fat, The Gates of Slumber (R.I.P.), Stone Magnum, At Devil Dirt, Sons of Otis, Abrahma, Apostle of Solitude, Black Capricorn, Sleestak (of course) and Switchblade Jesus.  And that's just one half of the story.  All told there's two full hours of archaeological treasures that Matt has unearthed.  All this makes Myelin Constellation Volume 1 the most indispensable compilation in the stoner/doom genre since ... well, ever.

The collection kicks off with a pair of live tracks from Northless and Sons of Otis, with the Northless track being a radio session.  Then we come up to our first pair of absolute gems from The Gates of Slumber and Backwoods Payback.  The 14 minute "Suffer No Guilt" is no real surprise to the legion of fans this band 'had', but it has been remixed by Rich Wittaker.  It's like two songs in one, the 14 minutes split right down the middle with slow and fast sides while Backwoods Payback's comparatively brisk track has been taken from an upcoming EP.

Coltsblood makes their rather large presence felt with the 14 minute "Abyss of Aching Sanity", the first true Myelin comp exclusive.  Wo Fat takes a groovy ride and gets "Broke Down in Texas", a swampy instrumental that was part of a 7" split single with Small Stone labelmates Abrahma, a rarity of a song for anyone who missed the trio during their European jaunt.  And this is also the part of the comp that delves into the secret art of sequencing as Stone Magnum's "Savior in Black" is the perfect follow-up.  The song is a re-recording of an older song with the current line-up and is then followed up by Apostle of Solitude's "Whores Wings", another exclusive.  This half hour is probably the best overall block on songs on the comp, but be forewarned, the bulk of the songs on this record are on the quiet side so you will probably turn the volume way up as you listen to it, the Wo Fat track takes the volume and twists it like a nipple sending the volume into the stratosphere, you may want to be prepared to turn the volume down a touch before the song comes on if you are listening with headphones.

The next half hour block of music is nothing to sneeze at either.  It kicks off with the high energy space rock of Sons of Alpha Centauri, a band previously unknown to me.  This interesting instrumental comes from a split single with the ubiquitous Karma to Burn.  Next up Mr. Schmitz has put Sleestak right into the middle of the affair with their previously unreleased demo by the name of "Space", which keeps with the space rock theme musically and the tone of it leads perfectly into the next track.  "Solitude", the Black Sabbath cover by Black Capricorn, had been making the rounds on youtube a couple weeks back (I even featured it on my Hour of Power), you could call this the unofficial "single" release from the comp.  That's followed up with an unmixed demo version of "Don't See You Around", the killer opening number from At Devil Dirt's upcoming album, 'Plan B'.  This version emphasizes Nestor Ayala's double tracked vocals to the nth degree.  What comes next is maybe the surprise of the whole compilation.  Florida swamp rockers Confused Little Girl cover the Cab Calloway classic "Minnie the Moocher".  The band turns the song into a thrusting, throbbing mess, and neither the song nor the stoner/doom genre couldn't have been more honored for them having done so.  Last up in this half hour block of songs is the other half of the Wo Fat / Abrahma split, also a cover, this time of Edwin Starr's equally classic "War".  That thing I warned you about earlier goes for this song as well, but despite all that, Abrahma certainly do an interesting and worthy cover of an instantly recognizable song.  Which reminds me, it's been far too long since I listened to Abrahma's amazing 'Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives' album.

The final batch of songs boasts the most eclectic gathering of the bunch.  Narcotic Luxuria is another previously unknown band to me and their song here "Voodoo" is bizarre to say the least.  Dreamy synth doom with gothic twinges are knitted together in a turn-on-a-dime style composition.  Asatta is the next band that I discovered through this comp.  Their number "Earth To Orion" is claustrophobic sludge with epic touches, if you can wrap your mind around that.  The last in the consecutive run of bands that are new to me is Headless Kross, no doubt named after the Black Sabbath album, their track "From the Dark" features six heavy minutes of punishment.  British doom upstarts Myopic Empire make a strong entry here with their "Victory" demo, the vocals of which recalls the classic crooners of their homeland, back when it was known to swing.  For their part it's one of the strongest cuts of the last section.  My personal favorite of the last half of the comp however, belongs to Switchblade Jesus and their track "Oblivion".  We finish things off with a largely acoustic black metal track from Albawitch.  This is another of those louder-than-usual tracks.  The song "Accident of Birth" begins as an early post-Syd-era Pink Floyd-like dirge (complete with flutes) before stomping on the gas pedal of blast beats then back again.

Myelin Constellation Volume 1 is a terrific achievement and may very well have upped the standard of compilations within the world of doom from the cover art down to the content and cause.  Best of all, this is an ongoing thing with the door to submissions for future volumes never closed.  Volume 2 is already in the works and there's no reason to expect a drop in standard here and the one idea remains, that of the MC comps only featuring rare or unreleased material.  But it doesn't really matter how I put it, $6 for 20 songs and 2 full hours of music going to a worthy cause pretty much speaks for itself doesn't it?

Highlights include: "Oblivion" by Switchblade Jesus and "Minnie the Moocher" by Confused Little Girl

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 1:59:59

Genre: Doom, Stoner, Sludge, Psychedelic, Spâce Rock, Black Metal

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Myelin Constellation on facebook

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Monster Magnet - Last Patrol (album review)

Awesome cover artwork by John Sumrow.
It would seem that "Negasonic Teenage Warhead" changed everything.  It was their big breakthrough song.  No, not as big as "Space Lord", but it was the one which gained them wider attention.  I loved the song when it came out, but was at that awkward early-teen age where I was cagey with what I liked because it might not meet with peer approval.  But if anyone ever asked: yeah, I liked that song.  It wasn't until a couple years later though that I finally bought the album.  By that time, peer pressure was a fading, shameful and ugly memory and the band had a new one out called 'Powertrip'.  That's my side of the story anyway.  For Monster Magnet those pressures were felt during the creation of 'Powertrip', if not explicitly acknowledged.  A month's sequestered writing session in a hotel in Las Vegas spawned an album that largely did away with the band's psychedelic roots in favor of a more mainstream rock sound.  This trend continued for over a decade, all the way up until the band's 2010 album, 'Mastermind'.  But after embarking on a pair of tours in which the band played the 'Dopes To Infinity' and 'Spine of God' albums in their entirety during the interim, it seems Dave Wyndorf was reminded of what Monster Magnet fans really crave.  So here we have the follow-up to 'Mastermind' and a return to roots.

The album kicks off with a blast of understatement on "I Live Behind the Clouds", a song which cannot help but be compared to some of the band's quieter, subtler early material such as "Dead Christmas" or "Blow Em Off".  This opener is more of a languidly drifting signal flare than an explosive firework, but the report of its firing bellows loud and clear through the ears of the longtime fan.  The nine minute title track certainly sounds familiar, and yet, it's a sound not heard from the band over the past 15 years or so.  Just the very fact of its length seems to signal how much of a pleasure it was for Dave Wyndorf just to be free and get all spacey once again.  It's a style he wears like skin or black leather, what could be more natural?

And just in case there were any lingering doubt or unconfidence in the band's focus on psychedelia, they follow up with "Three Kingfishers", the song that has been most caught in my head during the past week.  I'm quite familiar with the Donovan original from 'Sunshine Superman', being a big fan of all of the Scottish singer/songwriter's first decade's worth of albums from his humble origins as the British answer to Bob Dylan to the expansive 'Cosmic Wheels' album, so it's surprising to hear the song here, and just how naturally it wears the cloak of heaviness.  It's not the first cover song Monster Magnet has ever done, they've also done justice to Sabbath's "Into the Void" and MC5's "Kick Out the Jams" just off the top of my head.

Perhaps the most refreshing thing about 'Last Patrol' however has less to do specifically with the history of Monster Magnet and more to do with the recent history of popular music in general.  While melody and tune have lost their predominant place in the world of popular music, rhythm and beat have taken their place at the ends of the stately table.  The bulk of this album takes 'beat' and keeps it in the background where it ought to be, as a platform for the melodic instruments upon which to strut their collective stuff.  The beats are by and large reduced to a time keeping stomp, any relative complexity broken down into the essential and played repetitively.  And as I say these things, you should understand, I'm a drummer, I just think it's time to re-emphasize the musical in music, apparently Monster Magnet feels the same way and is willing to pitch in for their part in the greater good.  The CD comes with a pair of bonus tracks, one of which emphasizes this point.  "Strobe Light Beatdown" sounds like a 'Mastermind' sessions outtake.  There's nothing wrong with the drums on this track, they are fairly typical rock drums, they are quite busy and manage to build up a froth of excitement and yet are unremarkable all the same.  It becomes clear at this point that Wyndorf knows how to get more with less, and generate excitement on the strength of the musical ideas on the album, rather than simply relying on the drums to carry the bulk of the excitement duties with a lot of busy-ness.

'Last Patrol' and it's return to psychedelia is not a cynical case of an aging musician grasping desperately at what he thinks his old fans might like and trying to cash in or re-live past glories.  The heart is there, the soul is there on record and, notably, there's a freewheeling ease to 'Last Patrol' that comes from a band slipping comfortably back into a natural sound.  Dave Wyndorf remembers what made Monster Magnet great in the first place.  'Last Patrol' doesn't turn the clocks back.  After remembering the realities of personal development during bygone days, who the hell would want to?  What it does is display a band that remembers what they are.  Monster Magnet is back.  I mean, really back.  Back to making the kind of 'stoner' rock that tries substances with a little more visual punch.  Substances that folks like Hoffman, Huxley, Hicks and Hunter Thompson would approve of, Kirby powered acid.

Highlights include: "Last Patrol" and "Mindless Ones"

Rating: 4.5/5

1). I Live Behind the Clouds (4:26)
2). Last Patrol (9:24)
3). Three Kingfishers (4:34)
4). Paradise (4:31)
5). Hallelujah (4:13)
6). Mindless Ones (5:31)
7). The Duke [of Supernature] (5:00)
8). End of Time (7:45)
9). Stay Tuned (5:54)
10). Strobe Light Beatdown (4:26) [bonus track]
11). One Dead Moon (5:20) [bonus track]
Total Run Time: 1:01:00

Dave Wyndorf (Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards)
Phil Caivano (Guitar, Bass)
Bob Pantella (Drums)
Garrett Sweeney (Guitar, Sitar)

From: Red Bank, New Jersey

Genre: Psychedelic, Stoner, Hard Rock

Reminds me of: Dopes to Infinity, Spine of God, Superjudge, Spacemen 3

Release Date: October 17, 2013

Monster Magnet on facebook


Saturday, 19 October 2013

Doom Chart: Most Paranoid Albums of 10/19/13

Top 30 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Beelzefuzz - ST
  2. Borracho - Oculus
  3. Iron Man - South of the Earth
  4. Earthen Grave - ST
  5. Curse the Son - Psychache
  6. La Chinga - ST
  7. Spiral Shades - The Hypnosis Sessions (Demo)
  8. NYMF - From the Dark
  9. Blood Red Water - All the Ills of Mankind
  10. Yidhra - Hexed
  11. Church of Void - Dead Rising
  12. Windhand - Soma
  13. Monster Magnet - Last Patrol
  14. Goatess - ST
  15. Vista Chino - Peace
  16. Sasquatch - IV
  17. Argus - Beyond the Martyrs
  18. Wicked Inquisition - Silence Thereafter
  19. The Dirty Streets - Blades of Grass
  20. Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals - Walk Through Exits Only
  21. **Fangs of the Molossus - ST***
  22. Horisont - Time Warriors***
  23. Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu***
  24. Sumeru - ST EP
  25. At Devil Dirt - Plan B: Sin Revolucion no Hay Evolucion***
  26. Ice Dragon - Born a Heavy Morning
  27. Brutus - Behind the Mountains
  28. The Heavy Company - Midwest Electric
  29. Hollow Leg - Abysmal***
  30. Noctum - Final Sacrifice
** Message the band at the link provided to purchase a copy of the CD
*** New Album

Hour of Power 10/19/13 (playlist)

  1. Mouths of Madness (Orchid / The Mouths of Madness) 2013
  2. Rabbits (Thinning the Herd / Freedom from the Known) 2013
  3. Lord of Sumo (Mountaineater / ST) 2013
  4. The Obscurantist Fiend [The Beast Pt. I] (Blaak Heat Shujaa / The Edge of an Era) 2013
  5. Lost Soul (Glowsun / Eternal Season) 2012
  6. New Stone (Parasol Caravan / single) 2013
  7. Cassock (Windhand / Soma) 2013
  8. I Drink Your Blood (Fangs of the Molossus / ST) 2013
  9. Re-Animator Theme (Richard Band / Re-Animator OST) 1985 'classic clip'

Friday, 18 October 2013

Fangs of the Molossus - ST (album review)

Artwork by Count J. Vendetta (rhythm guitar, space fx)
You might look at Fangs of Molossus as a true underground band.  No bandcamp, no record deal, no fake hype, just a word of mouth that sets torch to dry brush and conquers forests.  'Fangs of the Molossus' is a classic doom record, no frills, no bullshit, just some giant riffs and ill portents.  I don't know too much about the band and though it gives me less to blab about, that's just the way I like it.  I know they are Italian, I know they are four in number, I know they were graced with guest appearances by Ain Soph Aour and JC Chaos of the Italian black metal band Necromass, and I know that this album is pretty damn good.  That's what I know.

From the opening fuzz heavy guitar wallop and Iommian hammer-ons of "Caligula", you know what you're getting yourself into.  This is doom.  And you know what doom is like.  It's like trying to run through muddy waters.  Prepared to be covered from head to foot.  "Caligula" is an iconic opener, a single word lyric makes it nearly an instrumental.  This is some of the swampiest stuff you'll ever hear.  A dilapidated shack sits ghostly atop the mist covered waters of a swamp.  A single light burns inside illuminating the thin trees outside the windows.  Inside, loud repetitive banging is heard and it's then that you know old tyrants never die, they become demons to haunt the thoughts and influence the deeds of men.  That's my impression of this track, at least.

The band's psychedelic fixation provides the disc with plentiful elbow room in the form of atmospheric passages.  This penchant begins subtly in the opener, developed within each song and is given full expression in the spaghetti western instrumental "O Fera Flagella".  Even with this spacious approach (the latter instrumental is the shortest track on the disc at 6:36), Fangs maintain their groove.  It's easy for a band to lose their way in a song with long improvised sections, Fangs turn it into a strength.  Through it all though, that doom groove is what remains embedded in the skull when the final moments tick off the end of closing track "Dead King Rise".  Fangs of the Molossus lead you through a viscid, fire-lit tunnel of horrors, and the ride never lets up, even when things go relatively quiet.

And now a word on the vocals.  Acid King Khanjia is the man behind the mic stand on this disc, but has since departed from the band.  The duties were subsequently passed to lead guitarist Amp Zilla.  Khanjia for his part provides a rough flourish to the affair and though I've not heard his replacement Zilla on the mic, he will be missed.  He was assisted by Ain Soph Aour on "I Drink Your Blood", the very Sleep-like melody is appropriately blood stained in its performance by both vocalists.

So without the bandcamp page or the label backing orthe hype, there's only one place to go to get your hands on this disc and that's the band itself.  If you can't make it a Fangs of the Molossus gig and pick up a CD in person, there are a couple other methods of diffusion.  If you have a facebook account, you can send them a private message of inquiry at this page, and if you don't, you can email them at  No need to be shy or wary, the Count is a very cool guy and pleasant to deal with.  I'm extremely glad I picked up a copy and it's just one more piece of evidence that 2013 is the year of the Italians.

Highlights include: "I Drink Your Blood" and "Caligula"

Rating: 4/5

1). Caligula (7:54)
2). Cult of the Witch Goddess (8:03)
3). I Drink Your Blood (7:14)
4). O Fera Flagella (6:36)
5). Dead King Rise (10:09)
Total Run Time: 39:56

Amp Zilla - vox, guitar & space FX
Count J. Vendetta - guitar & space FX
Daemon Nox - bass
Iako - drums

Acid King Khanjia (vocals on record, now departed)

From: Florence, Italy

Genre: Doom, Psychedelic

Reminds me of: Doomraiser, Sleep

Release Date: July 21, 2013

Fangs of the Molossus on facebook

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Doom Chart: Most Paranoid Songs of 10/16/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Mystery Machine (Brutus / Behind the Mountains)
  2. Illuminati (Spiral Shades / Hypnosis Sessions)
  3. La Chinga (La Chinga / ST)
  4. Goodbye Henry Anslinger (Curse the Son / Psychache)
  5. Ghost Rider Solar Plexus (Geezer / Gage EP)
  6. Lonely Creatures (Beelzefuzz / ST)
  7. Proximity Anxiety (Pyres / Year of Light)
  8. Orchard (Windhand / Soma)
  9. In the Nightmares of Snakes (Crowlord / Naked Chicks, Goats & Wolves)
  10. Dirty Ceiling (Tangerine Stoned / ST)
  11. I'm Lost (Ice Dragon / Born a Heavy Morning)
  12. One Big Drag (The Heavy Co. / Midwest Electric)
  13. Raíces (Chinaski / Resiliencia)
  14. Night Child (The Oath / 7" single)
  15. Wheels of the World (Spirits of the Dead / Rumours of a Presence)
  16. The Jester's Clown (Wicked Inquisition / Silence Thereafter)***
  17. Berenjena Pipe (Weedpecker / ST)***
  18. Supersun (Mothersloth / Hazy Blur of Life)
  19. From Time ... To Eternity (Stone Magnum / From Time ... To Eternity)
  20. Lucifer Takes The Crown (NYMF / From the Dark)***
  21. Vow (Naam / Vow)
  22. Truth (The Dirty Streets / Blades of Grass)***
  23. Paranoia Conspiracy (Trouble / The Distortion Field)
  24. Winter Is Coming* (Church of Void / Dead Rising)***
  25. Something Sweet (Black Wizard / Young Wisdom)
*This is the old version of the song, it has been re-recorded for the 'Dead Rising' album
*** New Song

Outgoing songs:
  1. Lazy (Ape Skull / ST)
  2. Fear of the Doom (NYMF / From the Dark)
  3. Ancient Apocalypse (Mammoth Storm / ST Demo)
  4. The Places You Walk (Jex Thoth / Blood Moon Rise)
  5. Methademic (Black Sabbath / 13)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Horisont - Time Warriors (album review)

Horisont was one of the first of the Scandanavian retro rockin' bands that I discovered, right after Devil, I believe, and I was blown away.  I don't remember what song it was that I heard which set my ears on fire, but I remember trying desperately to track the CD down for something like six months and having no luck, it was either sold out or over priced.  Eventually I ordered it from Scrape on Broadway and I picked it up sometime around a year ago.  That was the last time I ventured out that way.  Fuck!  It's been almost a whole year since I went to Scrape ... so sad.  This story actually has two unhappy endings because after a half a year's build up of being excited to hear 'Second Assault', when it finally entered my earholes it shriveled up and died there on that first listen.  In other words, I was underwhelmed.

Now the band has returned and out of nowhere they have created what may be the year's best album of its kind.  Long hair and mustaches meet warm low end grooves and are piled high with '70's boogie woogie.  Balls out wailing vocals are draped in an overdose of denim.  In many ways there's nothing new here and yet in many ways, this has been a completely unexpected record because 'Time Warriors' documents a band reaching the peak of their brilliantly high potential.

After all this time, Horisont has managed to rekindle that initial excitement I had when I first heard them and they sustain it over the course of 10 strong numbers.  The Horisont style is back in full measure and in finer form.  It's my guess that experience has streamlined the band's musical vision, proggy turnarounds and quick run scales abut face melting riffs on all sides.  Not a moment is wasted.  The song structures are tight but the playing is loose giving the record that live feeling bands crave while still being well recorded.  Once more that deep, deep, warm low end makes this record perfectly suited for the turntable.

'Time Warriors' blows my mind with its rock and roll simplicity.  "Diamonds in Orbit", "Brother", "Eyes of the Father", "She Cried Wolf" are all hectic highlights, but then again, one would struggle to find any low lights on this disc.  Until the tenth and final track, "All Must Come To an End ..." spins in, no song eclipses the four minute mark.  There's no meandering here, no noodling and no unnecessary exploration.  All that work had been finished before the band entered the studio.  "Backstreet" and "Dödsdans" perfectly capture a Thin Lizzy vibe from harmonic guitars to lyrical subject matter (well, I can't vouch for the Svensk "Dödsdans", but "Backstreet" is pure Phil Lynott) and are bolstered by a sympathetic recording once again.

It's not that 'Second Assault' wasn't a good record.  Maybe the anticipation had built too high and my expectations were all skewed towards disappointment.  I've re-listened to it in preparation for this review and it's still not grabbing me.  All the ingredients are there, but they just don't come together in the right way.  'Time Warriors' gets it just right.  If Witchcraft's re-shuffling of the retro rocking deck on the 'Legend' album provided some veteran direction to the scores of Scandanavian bands who appear to be lost-in-time, Horisont prove that there's no need to escape from the parallel universe just yet.  There's still a lot of life left in this subgenre.  This is a short record at 33 minutes in length, but at 10 fully realized, fast-moving songs, it still makes for a satisfying listen and any more songs might have been overkill.  I get the feeling that all of the good ideas made it onto wax here anyway because this is a power packed album, concentrated for full impact.

Highlights include: "Diamonds in Orbit" and "Eyes of the Father"

Rating: 5/5

1). Writing on the Wall (3:50)
2). Diamonds in Orbit (2:57)
3). Ain't No Turning Back (3:31)
4). Backstreet (3:14)
5). Vänd Tillbaka (3:11)
6). She Cried Wolf (3:24)
7). Brother (3:04)
8). Dödsdans (2:43)
9). Eyes of the Father (3:02)
10). All Must Come to an End ... (5:19)
Total Run Time: 33:09

Axel - Vocals
Charles - Guitar
Kristofer - Guitar
Magnus - Bass
Pontus - Drums

From: Gothenburg, Sweden

Genre: Retro Rock, Hard Rock

Reminds me of: Brutus, Graveyard, Kadavar

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Horisont on facebook


Monday, 14 October 2013

Why I Doom Part 2: One Year "Uninterrupted"

One year and just a sliver shy of 100,000 page views later, there are no regrets.

I started this blog because there were so many great albums around, I wanted to do my part to help promote this criminally underappreciated subgenre that had restored my faith in new music.  It was also a good way to stay in shape writing-wise and to give myself a challenge.  I had never done an album review before I started Paranoid Hitsophrenic and I had no plans as to how long I would keep this thing going.  No expectations and no second guesses were just about the only rules I went into this thing with.  Well, those two and the idea that negative reviews are a waste of everybody's time.

Oh, just a thought about the name of the blog.  I'm not great with titles.  I knew I wanted a title that riffed on Black Sabbath, but it seemed like all the good ones had already been taken.  So I started riffing on Paranoid.  Paranoia and identity have been running themes throughout my writing and it seemed like the perfect starting point.  I've been doing what eventually became the 'Doom Charts' forever so I'm always looking for hits for my personal charts, a play on words later and a title was born.

The title of this post: "uninterrupted".  If it seems like a lot of the posts here are disjointed and don't flow as a single piece of writing, it's because they are disjointed and the majority of them weren't written in one sitting, or even in one week.  For the most part, I've had to write reviews in bits and pieces because believe it or not, there is a real life that goes on behind the scenes, lazy as I try to be.  I started off writing reviews in single album-length sittings.  It wasn't long though before I got stumped and would have to break things off early and get back to them.  Also, the time it took to write reviews didn't always make me the greatest of people to live with, especially when the blog was new, the routine was new and there was no great reason as to why I was doing it.  Often, I'd be trying desperately to finish a thought or sentence with my ladyfriend trying to get my attention in the background.  My thoughts didn't often win those battles either.  By now, things have settled in to a more comfortable routine of writing around others' schedules, for the most part ...

I got my first couple facebook shares very early on (via Venomous Maximus and Bison, Bison) and that inspired the hell out of me.  I wanted to say thanks or something so I started a facebook profile and, after being a cynical curmudgeon about 'social networking' for a number of years, I'm glad I did it.  Six months ago I started a facebook page for the blog itself and some 240 'likes' later, I'm slowly learning how to run it properly.  I started doing interviews early on because that's just what music sites do and over the course of the year, I think, I learned how to do those the right way too.  Hell, I've even been interviewed myself a couple times (on Temple of Perdition and The Ripple Effect websites) and those were a lot of fun.  They taught me a lot, those interviews.  The thing I'm most proud of is that I continue to learn something new about life or writing every single day and Paranoid Hitsophrenic has been a huge part of that process this year.  It might be time to get back to doing those ...

Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I opened up the doors for review submissions and was excited to see the response.  Before long however, it became overwhelming.  At one point I had a queue of some 70 albums and EP's to review.  Being just one guy, with a full time job, I started being unable to fulfill commitments as the list of submissions spiraled out of control.  For that reason, the year hasn't been a complete success and I had to close the submission door.  I did whittle that list down a bit but there are still 52 albums and EP's in that list that I never got around to featuring.

I went a bit crazy with the year end stuff, which I think is a lot of fun.  I wrote something like 120 or 130 short reviews of different albums in December on top of my regular schedule of articles which put me way behind schedule.  When the new year hit, I decided to up my game and really focus on the writing, trying to make it as strong as I possibly could, and for a time, it seemed to be working.  I started writing reviews on the side for Stoner Hive and it felt like I might be stretching myself a little thin.  Then I opened my big mouth and said how much I'd like to write for Sludgelord ... one day.  Well, it seemed there was no time like the present.  It wasn't long after that that The Temple of Perdition came calling.  I'm a huge fan of that blog too and there was no way to refuse the invitation to write for them.  I had a week off in February and I pulled myself out of the quagmire and got a week ahead of schedule.  By mid April I was behind again, writing for four blogs and starting to struggle with the words.  How do I say roughly the same thing in a new way?

It was around that time that I started the facebook page and from an idea by Steve Miller (who writes for Temple of Perdition), I came up with the concept of the 'Super' Doom Charts (he even came up with the name, though that was later).  What an insane thing that was to do, but remember, there have been no regrets here.  Compiling the 'Super' Doom Charts ensured that the end of every month is a chaotic clusterfuck but it's the best damn idea I ever had for this blog.  The first one rolled out June 1st.

Then, the day after America's Independence Day, my Step-Father passed away suddenly and it was time to focus on real life and family once again.  It's still tough and my mom's still taking it hard.  It's still really tough.  Anyway, I had to stop writing for the other blogs after that and there are no hard feelings.  When it happened, I was working on a review of Steak's then-new 'Corned Beef Colossus' EP.  I started writing it at their place, where I was staying for the weekend with my ladyfriend.  We do that occasionally.  I played the EP and Step-dad commented that "Hey, these guys sound like Black Sabbath!"  I wrote it into the review.  I found it weird because of all the bands I listen to, Steak seems like one of the least Sabbath-y of them all.  It was a good weekend.  Less than two weeks later he was gone, and I couldn't bring myself to finish the review.  Just thought I'd share that brief little story.

After that, I just didn't have as much time to focus on the blog and I found myself, more often than not, listening to an album for the first time, reviewing it and posting it here all on the same day.  That's not the way I like to work, but I had to do it to keep this thing going.  By now things have calmed down quite a bit.  These days, I like to listen to an album once with no pressure and no thought of starting a review, then listen to it a second time and write an introduction (things always go easier when you have a good introduction), then listen to it a third time on the day of posting, and write the bulk of the review in that one sitting.  It's a good way to work, I think because it's less stressful.

The blog keeps growing.  Even as I write this, this has been the biggest day for the blog yet.  Why?  I don't know, but things keep expanding rapidly.  I went from 20 pageviews a day to 200, then to 400 and the blog is currently enjoying its first four digit pageview day, a year to the day that it was born.  But it would all mean nothing without the relationships that have been forged along the way.  Getting to know my fellow reviewers and music fiends from around the world and some of the dudes in the bands has been the highlight of the whole process.

Artwork by Olaf (Talis)
It's been a crazy year.  I never thought this thing would catch on, even in the small way that it has.  The readership has grown every single month and the posts here have been shared more times than I can count, more times than I even know about I'm sure.  There was ample opportunity in my personal life and ample excuses to lose interest, stop blogging and move on to other things.  The demands of the blog are such that I've started three short stories, one novel and one non-fiction book (plus another novel idea and an idea for a comic book series) this year and have nothing concrete to show for it.  There were other ideas that came and went too, nothing outside the blog got finished.  There were plenty of blog-related ideas too that came to nothing.  There were so many things I didn't have time to do.  I had no idea what would happen with this blog, but I had about a dozen ideas when I started, most of which were never done, some of which were quickly dropped or only done once.  Time is a mothah and it goes by way too fast.  And yet there are no regrets.  I don't resent the blog for the time it consumes and I don't see it as an imposition.  What's sustained me over the course of a crazy year is that people keep reading and keep sharing what I have to say about this or that album, or my lists of what I'm listening to at the moment.  It makes me give a shit.

Today, Paranoid Hitsophrenic celebrates its first birthday and it's all your fault.  Thanks everyone!

Rick Cimato (Thinning the Herd)
Mike Scaccia (Ministry, Rigor Mortis)
Jeff Hanneman (Slayer)
Kevin McDade (Behold! The Monolith)
Craig Ethier
Joey LaCaze (Eyehategod)
The Gates of Slumber
Mike Boone (Sourvein)
and everyone else who went down fighting this year.
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