Friday, 29 November 2013

Hour of Power 11/30/13

  1. She Cried Wolf (Horisont / Time Warriors) 2013
  2. The Frown (Isaak / TBA) 2013
  3. Boneflower (Avatarium / ST) 2013
  4. Child of the Bear [unmixed studio version] (Ichabod / Merrimack) 2014
  5. Romeo Must Never Know (Ken Mode / Entrench) 2013
  6. Concrete (Batillus / Concrete Sustain) 2013
  7. Pegasus (Intercostal / ST EP) 2012
  8. Of the Flock [live] (In the Company of Serpents / Of the Flock) 2013
  9. Dark Days [live] (Uzala / Tales of Blood & Fire) 2013
  10. Fir [live] (Bardo Pond / Peace on Venus) 2013
  11. Jesus Christ Pose (Soundgarden / Badmotorfinger) 1991 'classic clip'

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Internal Investigation #1: Heavy Company - Midwest Electric (album review)

From a weird idea I had, this will hopefully be the start of a new (probably short-lived) series of articles where bands / members of bands review their own records.  The first of these comes from Ian Gerber from The Heavy Company who brings something not often seen to the writing of Paranoid Hitsophrenic: credentials.  Ian was a co-founder of The Soda Shop website and now writes regularly for The Ripple Effect.  It's interesting to me to see how creators view their own works, the added plus here is that Ian can review his ass off but is notoriously hard to please.  For a comparison you can check out the review that I did for 'Midwest Electric' at this link.  Read on, Ian's review begins ... now:

Midwest Electric is an over arching concept into the dull and grey life that permeates the existence of Lafayette, IN native Ian Gerber, the guitarist and vocalist for The Heavy Co. Featuring 7 songs, no two are quite alike. Of course there is a reason for this. It IS a concept after all...

The album kicks off with hacking cough of a four count ala Masters of Reality as the song ‘Humboldt County Waltz’ takes flight. Stating the only desire that Gerber really has is ‘a stash like Willie’s and some room to breath’ this song is more in the vain of a heavy Tom Petty rocker than your standard ‘stoner’ rock record. It does feature plenty of ‘stoner’ vibe, especially in the bass and the break down in the song, which is obviously modeled off of THC’s California riff-mongers Fu Manchu. Shaky tempos riddle the song but add to the ambience of the ‘live in room’ experience that the record is aiming for. 

Track 2 is laid back, understated 3/4 time hippy tongue twister with a positive spin by the name of ‘A Groove A Mile Wide’. The first part of the song continues in the ‘Americana’ vibe that permeates through most of the albums tracks. By the end of the second chorus, however, the mood shift’s gears and the phased distortion picks up and segues into an extended solo section whose direction was directly ripped off of ‘Sky Blue Sky’ era Wilco...except not near as good. However, standing tall during the first section is the bitchin’ fuzzed out wah solo that is mentioned in the liner notes by Strange Haze/ The Golden Grass six string slinger, Michael ‘Big Sir’ Rafalowich. It might be the record’s most redeeming moment.

Following ‘A Groove A Mile Wide’ is what might be the albums boldest moment. Aptly titled, ‘Neil Young’ is a major shift in ambience for the record and a big shift in dynamics for the band in general. Using a lower pitched more or less whispered singing voice, sometimes compared to Mark Lanegan, Gerber expresses his wish to have balls like Mr. Young and then meanders somewhere into a forlorn longing for a different time and place in history. The song crescendo into a noisy guitar solo that sounds nothing like what Neil Young would play and outros into a Pearl Jam-esque cadence stating “no one knows this is somewhere”. Basically, its a song about drinking in your favorite bar, like the world needed another one of those.

Side one ends with an intsrumental which comes as some relief from the nasally, out of tune warble that Gerber exhibits over most of the record. Sounding something like a retarded (as in tempo) mash up of Jimmy Page jamming ‘Funky Boss” by The Beastie Boys and following it up with a misguided foray into Mahavishnu Orchestra era John McGlaughlin lead guitar playing, the song builds for around 6 minutes into a spacey trip out punctuated by erratic improvisation with a middle eastern modal tinge. THC pulls it off and it might be the best musical statement on the record. The solo section is more or less as it was in the studio. They did a few things right.

Side two opens with the feedback and fuzz intro of the heavy riffer ‘One Big Drag’. Probably the album’s most stoner-centric and focused offering, this song is the obvious choice for selling the record to fans of the heavier side of rock. While utilizing saturated and over the top guitar tones, One Big Drag is probably the bluesiest song on the record. It’s also the longest track. Just when you think the band will land it softly it gets weird and morphs into a funky, slowed down version of the main riff and drags on (see what I did there) for another three minutes, showcasing multiple tracks of lead guitar dribble before finally settling down into the soft finish that was hinted at before the psychedelics kick in.

Sailing Towards The Setting Sun is probably the albums most convoluted offering. It’s more of a sonic collage featuring tripped out existentialism. It’s a pretty dense dirge of psychedelic textures that bleeds into a slightly more song based, doomy outro. The vocals are rather weak and that weakness couldn’t be hid with multiple tracks stacked on each other. It’s the records most pointless and weakest track, obviously kept to fill time on side two.

Sailing Towards The Setting Sun does one thing ends...but not so much as it ends but segues via a piercing, psychedelic woosh into the albums closing track, El Bango Grande. El Bango Grande is another typical THC composition in the fact that it’s not a typical ‘stoner/psychedelic’ song. Mashing a honky tonk boogie riff with spacey jazz infused rock chord progressions, the cosmic americana still bleeds out of this band. It’s an appropriate closer for the batch of songs. The jazzy, ragaesque psychedelic interlude, which seems to be a necessary part of every THC song, builds up enough steam to blast the distorted bass and slow down enough for the original riff to become a proper ‘stoner’ riff and support the gang vocal attack of the songs mantra; “We’ve been searching for something bigger than us”. The Heavy Co. doesn’t have any problem getting heard by their audience. What keeps them from gaining a new audience is that they wasted a bunch of time playing around in the studio and getting stoned. It shows. Only someone doped out of their skull would really enjoy this record, but as it turns out, a lot of their audience enjoys doing that. Next time guys, don’t get so stoned and try not to over mix the record if you are going to do it by yourselves again. Less is more, unless of course...more is more. We’ll find out.

Check out Heavy Company on facebook
And listen to the album on the player below

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Doom Chart: Most Paranoid Songs of 11/27/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Abysmal (Hollow Leg / Abysmal)
  2. Mindless Ones (Monster Magnet / Last Patrol)
  3. Dargona Dragona (Vista Chino / Peace)
  4. The Past Plus The Future Is Present (Ice Dragon / Born a Heavy Morning)
  5. Wraiths (Crypt Trip / ST EP)
  6. SWB (Exiles / Wreck)
  7. The Willow (Doctor Smoke / Demo 2013)
  8. Black Moon (Tombstones / Red Skies & Dead Eyes)***
  9. There Is Not A God Or A Devil (At Devil Dirt / Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución)
  10. By Endurance We Conquer (Argus / Beyond the Martyrs)***
  11. The Revisit (Noctum / Final Sacrifice)
  12. Torment (Spiral Shades / Hypnosis Sessions)
  13. The Thief (Rote Mare / The Kingdom)
  14. Last Prediction (Dozer / Vultures EP)***
  15. Monster of the Highway (Black Rainbows / Holy Moon EP)***
  16. Tears of Blood (Tombstone / Evil Seed single)
  17. Ovi (Seremonia / Ihminen)
  18. The Bringer of Light (Doublestone / Wingmakers)***
  19. The Outstanding Loss (Blood Red Water / All The Ills of Mankind)
  20. Late For An Early Grave (Victor Griffin's In~Graved / ST)
  21. Night Child (The Oath / 7" single)
  22. The Message (Sasquatch / IV)***
  23. The Universe Is Mine (La Chinga / ST)***
  24. Overthrone (Anciients / Heart of Oak)
  25. Forevermore (Old Man Wizard / Unfavorable)***
*** New Song

Outgoing songs:
Spider Stole The Weed (Curse the Son / Psychache)
Writing on the Wall (Horisont / Time Warriors)
Kingdom (Sumeru / ST EP)
Death Is Another Word ... (Earthen Grave / ST)
The Jester's Clown (Wicked Inquisition / Silence Thereafter)
Walk Through Exits Only (Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals / Walk Through Exits Only)
Soul Cheater (Peacemaker / Cult .45)
Truth (The Dirty Streets / Blades of Grass)

SHIVAS NAT "Hard to breathe" LP on pre-sale

Morning folks! This just came in off the newswire:

Inline-Bild 2

SHIVAS NAT "Hard to breathe"

SHIVAS NAT is in a world of blues, garage and acid rock! 

The band was formed in late 2011 by Patrick Lykke Heinsoe (ex-HIGHWAY CHILD) on guitar/vocals and Aleksander Trap-Jensen on drums. Having existed shortly as a duo, Morten Clod-Svensson (ex-FUZZ MANTA) joined in on bass, and later Bjorn Sunesen (WILLOW'S TALE) stepped in, bringing organ and extra guitar. 

Shivas Nat plays their psychedelic garage/blues rock with an authentic and mind­blowing sound, that under the right circumstances will take you straight back to the colored mists and patterns of the early 1970s. 

Concert review from
"... Shivas Nat plays the type of far out psychedelic hard-rock a fan of retro-rock will inevitably enjoy, and this time the previous problems with audibility were immediately laid to rest as Shivas Nat struck the first chord - absolutely raw power, right from the start. Most of their rather 70s-like songs featured long instrumental passages in between Patrick's hauntingly powerful, echo-drenched vocals, thus empowering the overall psychedelic atmosphere..." -Bo Vinberg, 

Inline-Bild 3


- 100x transparent blue vinyl (exclusive mailorder version) 
- 200x transparent orange vinyl 
- 200x black vinyl 
- all high-quality heavy 180g vinyl pressed in Germany 
- matt laquered 300gsm gatefold cover 
- handnumbered 


A1. Shape (11:00
A2. I'm Alive (5:46
A3. Intermission (4:50
B1. Dragonodyssey (6:22
B2. You (7:01
B3. Weight (2:58)

Get your own copy of Shivas Nat’s fantastic debut LP at our store!

Here's a preview:

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Uzala - Tales of Blood & Fire (album review)

Cover artwork by Tony Roberts.
If female-fronted occult-inspired doom rock was "a thing" people did in a non-organic, put-it-together-because-it's-popular-right-now kind of way then you might find fault with a hefty armful of the best bands going at the moment.  But even if bands slopped their sound together in such a shallow way, you would have to at least credit Uzala for getting it dead right.  Well I don't know about you, but bands slopping their sounds together based on what's popular at the moment is not the world I live in but Uzala must still be credited with doing what they do and doing it just right.  What's more is, "occult" may be a kind of dirty word in some circles and far be it from me to mis-label a band because I'm not sure the word applies here and yet there is a mystical vibe to the affair.  From the slightly middle eastern inflection on opening track "Seven Veils" to the wall of static which gives birth to "Tenement of the Lost" or the evilly ceremonial vibe to the doomus in extremis number "Dark Days" and beyond, Uzala certainly put out a vibe of accessing hidden ancient mystery knowledge and revealing little glimpses of it in how they operate.  Some bands are right on the surface with occult references, on stage costumes and forced atmosphere (and those are all cool things, mind you), Uzala's sonic witches brew comes from a deeper place.  You might even say that it's the listener's job to fill in the blanks left open so expertly by the band.

Opening track, "Seven Veils" is some straightforward doom, and there ain't nothing wrong with that.  The big main riff practically drags and scrapes against the ground it's so slow and heavy, when it does so it sparks the deep, sorrowful voice of Darcy Nutt into life.  It isn't until the second half of the song however that it develops its own unique character, when wailing howls greet sounds of wandering guitar and the swirling wah-saturated bass of Nick Phit.  The effect is wind-like with an Arabian desert-specific atmosphere.  There, the music seems to go through a stargate or sandstorm as the 12-minute "Tenement of the Lost" piles up with layer upon layer of droney noise.  After some five and a half minutes of this melodic guitar and voice begins to emerge from the cacophony.

"Dark Days" reveals a band fluent in epic doom, further slangin' gigantic slow riffs and soaring vocals like back alley crack dealers.  By this point, the experience of 'Tales of Blood & Fire' is fully immersive, this is the point where the listener fills in the blanks.  I can't help but picture a prehistoric village set upon by black robed witches as the sun falls beyond the western horizon, and the howling winds blow out the communal fires.  Eyes pitched in shadow, the witches only smile from atop the surrounding hills as the villagers stampede in all directions, panicked.  "Countess" is more energetic than you'd expect from an 11-minute song.  A rolling double-tracked vocal during the verse creates a strong head of steam as Chuck Watkins's drums bang, crash and explode like a ship tossed at sea.  The instrumental middle section of this song is the most suggestive passage of all.  The instrumental sections on this album never really seem improvised, they seem well orchestrated, and whether or not that actually is the case, main songwriters / guitarists Chad Remains and Ms. Nutt are uncommonly in tune with their own compositions.  It's moments like this that may not stand out in the memory after listening, but just make it all come together as the album plays out.  When the chorus crashes back in, it's a nearly religious experience, one could only imagine the sway the band holds over the audience on stage.

This album comes with one simple caveat: listen with headphones turned LOUD.  This is not background music and when treated as such, or anything resembling background music, 'Tales of Blood & Fire' loses most of its drug-like power.  Remember that, kids!  'Tales of Blood & Fire' is available on all popular formats at the moment from their bandcamp page, the band has got vinyl LP's, CD's, cassette tapes and digital downloads ready to roll out at a moment's notice.  I picked up the album on CD for $10, prices vary from format to format.  The regular download will run you $6, the same as the tape so I suggest grabbing a copy of the tape, there are only 100 of these things in the whole world and you grandchildren just may thank you for it in the end.  Nah, probably not, but it's an excellent deal regardless because it comes with the download anyway.  Win-win.

Highlights include: "Seven Veils" and "Burned"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 43:33

From: Boise, Idaho / Portland, Oregon

Genre: Doom, Psychedelic

Reminds me of: Alunah, Arc of Ascent, Black Skies, In The Company of Serpents, Jex Thoth, Kings Destroy, SubRosa, Windhand

Release Date: October 15, 2013

Uzala on facebook

Monday, 25 November 2013

In the Company of Serpents - Of the Flock (album review)

Rad cover artwork by Mike Lawrence.
The winds of change sometimes howl, but sometimes they whisper.  I caught on to Denver's sludge doom stalwart duo In the Company of Serpents last year when they released their mindblowing 6-song self-titled E.P.  The bulging muscular sound heard on the debut was like a musical caduceus of twin snakes named sludge and doom wrapped around the staff of prog.  Not only was the sound powerful and muscular, it was also energetic, heavy as balls and fairly extreme.  But no matter how far the band traveled down the arm of extremity, it wasn't nearly as extreme as the change that has taken place in the band's sound since they released the debut to the time that this new one has come out.  Gone are the head-nodding road anthems such as "Dirtnap" and "Immolation", gone are the easy-to-love songs and in their place comes a challenging bouquet of bleak and desolate soundscapes.  After a few months of build-up and anticipation 'Of the Flock' hit the streets and it was not what I was expecting to hear to say the least.  I was expecting a suitable follow-up, one with deeper grooves, heavier riffs and more muscular moments, not the black metal / stoner doom hybrid that it eventually was, but anyway, we'll get into it all presently and I'll try to explain why this album is both a howl and a whisper.

As I already said, the sound of 'Of the Flock' was already imprinted in the genotype of songs like "Immolation" and "Canto III Inferno" from the debut but hidden in plain sight so to speak.  These DNA strands of musical extremity have been characterized in the phenotype of the new album and are expressed as dominant traits.  After a short twangy intro, "Ash Swamp", the listener is confronted with the blast beat wall of noise which opens "Craven" before things ultimately settle down into a swinging stoner groove.  It's probably the most "mainstream" stoner doom sounding song with the groovy riff but is an interesting one right off the bat.  This is where the album begins to challenge the hardened stoner doom head because the emphasis isn't on that warm, fuzzy deep low end.  The guitar is tuned higher creating a grimier, razor sharp sound.

It's amazing how the simplest thing (whisper) can change everything (howl).  My mind reacts differently to 'Of the Flock' every time I listen to it.  Sometimes I hear bleak walls of noise, other times my mind can cut through that to hear the southern grooves beneath, but after several listens, the album is beginning to settle in to a consistently abrasive mood that is all it's own.  Strangely, the tone for the album was set by the closing track, "Untied / Culling Essence from the Void".  This was the pre-release "single" if you will and it bears none of the classic hallmarks of the pre-release single.  It's not catchy, in fact it doesn't have a popular kind of sound in any way.  It's not the kind of song you're going to find yourself shaking your booty to and singing in the shower for instance.  But it was an accurate reflection of what the album is like without sounding at all like any other song on the album.  It's heavy, it's melodically melancholic and it's dark slow.

In hindsight, the sound of 'Of the Flock' had been imprinted on the DNA of the songs found on 'In the Company of Serpents' all along.  The change on the surface between albums was of bombastic proportions and hit my ears like a hearty howl, I'm just talking about the change itself here.  But change that actually resulted within the music was an altogether subtle shift and so reported against the ears like a whisper.  I readily admit that the change in sound was not at all satisfying on a cursory listen.  However, sticking with it, moving beyond expectations and taking the album for what it actually is and not what I expected it to be, reveals something fantastic.  What is obvious is that In The Company of Serpents challenged themselves on their second go at it.  In doing so, they've crafted an album that not only sounds different from what they'd done before, but different from anybody else in the field.  And that's not something you hear everyday, neither is a howling whisper.

Highlights include: "Craven" and "Of the Flock"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 32:16

Grant Netzorg: Vocals, Guitars, Fuzz
Joseph Weller Myer: Drums, Apothecary

From: Denver, Colorado

Genre: Metal, Sludge, Doom, Black Metal

Reminds me of: That's a tough one ...

Release Date: October 31, 2013

In the Company of Serpents on facebook

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Doom Chart: Most Paranoid Albums of 11/24/13

Top 30 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Tombstones - Red Skies & Dead Eyes
  2. Mountain Witch - Cold River
  3. Hollow Leg - Abysmal
  4. Crypt Trip - ST EP
  5. Doctor Smoke - ST EP
  6. Iron Man - South of the Earth
  7. Monster Magnet - Last Patrol
  8. Red Fang - Whales & Leeches
  9. Horisont - Time Warriors
  10. Doublestone - Wingmakers
  11. Beelzefuzz - ST
  12. *Dozer - Vultures EP
  13. Seremonia - Ihminen
  14. Borracho - Oculus
  15. Black Capricorn - Born Under the Capricorn
  16. Windhand - Soma
  17. Brimstone Coven - II
  18. Space God Ritual - Eldritch Tales
  19. Valley of the Sun - Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk
  20. Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals - Walk Through Exits Only
  21. In the Company of Serpents - Of The Flock
  22. Sandrider - Godhead***
  23. Noctum - Final Sacrifice
  24. Black Skies - Circadian Meditations***
  25. Uzala - Tales of Blood & Fire***
  26. Wounded Giant - Lightning Medicine***
  27. Samsara Blues Experiment - Waiting for the Flood***
  28. La Chinga - ST
  29. Curse the Son - Psychache
  30. Earthen Grave - ST
* Album available on itunes
*** New Album

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Hour of Power 11/23/13

  1. Exordium (animated short) 2013
  2. The Vampyre of Time & Memory (Queens of the Stone Age / ... Like Clockwork) 2013
  3. Bullets & Graves (Corrections House / Last City Zero) 2013
  4. Battalion of Zero [live at Housecore Horror Fest] (Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals / Walk Through Exits Only) 2013
  5. Abysmal / 8 Dead (In a Mobile Home) [live] (Hollow Leg / Abysmal) 2013
  6. Shroud Eater [live in Savannah, GA] 2013
  7. Champions (Sandrider / Godhead) 2013
  8. Ancient Light (Mountain Witch / Cold River) 2013
  9. The Blood Is Cold (Dozer / Vultures EP) 2013
  10. Frown Curve (March the Desert / Waves on the Moon EP) 2013
  11. Cosmic Communion (Brimstone Coven / II) 2013
  12. Groundman (Terra Firma / Harms Way) 2001 'classic clip'

Friday, 22 November 2013

Brimstone Coven - II (album review)

Cover artwork by Creighton Hill.
I missed the boat first time around.  West Virginian quartet Brimstone Coven released their self-titled debut album on bandcamp in March of last year and it flew right past me like a bullet in The Matrix.  I heard the album but it didn't quite capture my imagination.  I don't think I was quite ready for what they were laying down.  What can I say, I'm Canadian, and I may be a bit slow, eh?  Well, I'm here now, the bandwagon doesn't look so lonely and the caravan is rolling by slowly enough for one such as myself to hop aboard.  On their second go round, the band has tinkered, tweaked, turned on and toyed with their already distinctive sound, extending melody, protracting groove and exploding harmony in every which way.

In my extremely limited and slow-brainded understanding of things, the band's distinctive sound is created by interweaving two main factors (not counting the vagaries of the individual creativity of the players):  Scandanavian-style Retro Rock and the regional sound we call Maryland Doom.  When I listen to 'II' I hear things in common with such diverse bands as Iron Man, Revelation, Beelzefuzz, Mountain Witch, Year of the Goat and even pieces of Seremonia.  Now, I'm sure that wasn't Brimstone Coven's master plan when they hatched the idea to form a band, it was probably something more like,
"Wanna jam?"
Then they did, and magic happened.  Eventually.  Nobody gets in exactly right the first time.  But at some point, something unique took place.

Anyway, the album kicks off with a song called "Cosmic Communion".  It's got a nice riff which will feel familiar to those who dug on the first album.  Where the album and the band itself sticks out is during the chorus and subsequent verses.  A cool, almost robotic harmony lends an incredibly distinctive voice (voices) to the affair and sets the pace for the album to follow.

The band kind of splits its time between midtempo rockers and quieter numbers.  "Behold, The Annunaki", "Blood on the Wall" and "Lord and Master" fall under this latter category.  A slight country western vibe trickles in on the slower ones, particularly on "Blood on the Wall" which starts with a slow rambling guitar, growing piece by piece into one of the heavier songs on the album.  Still, there's that rambling cowboy feel throughout and it shines a spotlight on the quiet-loud dynamics the band bring to the table.

Arguably, the most interesting song on the album is "The Black Door".  Though the word "interesting" might be a dubious one, I think it's the one that applies here and I apply it in the positive sense.  The song hits you on multiple levels and you may have several contradictory reactions to the song on the first couple spins.  It's one of those songs, it's somewhat challenging in a way.  The opening line of the verse is reversed and plays right before the song kicks in.  The effect is whip-like and it sends the listener into a strange world smothered in Brimstone Coven's now trademark monotone close harmony.  The band are no strangers to backwards music as the outro to their last album plummeted into a backwards soundscape that left the listener with eerie feelings.  I love backwards music.  I used to flip whole Beatles albums around and listen to them backwards from back to front.  I remember one warm and windy night in spring when I walked the empty streets of Richmond listening to 'Magical Mystery Tour' backwards.  It seemed like the most unwholesome activity in the entire world.  Brimstone Coven understands this.  The English language is abrupt and unnatural sounding to begin with and when flipped backwards the sound of it becomes positively demonic.  This is the spirit the dudes from the Coven bring to their records.

Brimstone Coven's sophomore record is full of epic moments and occult-y moods, perhaps best exemplified by the track.  The band describes their own sound as "dark occult rock" and though that label may be charged with different meanings for different people, BC's particular take on the occult tag is at the very least researched and not overtly exploitative.  "Behold, the Annunaki" exemplifies all of these qualities and so becomes a kind of anthem for the band and for the record itself, but any of the first four tracks in particular are all standouts and manage to be quite different from each other.  This is an impressive record that hits you on several levels.

Highlights include: "Behold, The Annunaki" and "Cosmic Communion"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 46:37

"Big John" Williams - vocals
Corey Roth - guitar
Andrew D'Cagna - bass
Dan Hercules - drums

From: Wheeling, West Virginia

Genre: Doom, Rock

Reminds me of: Beelzefuzz, Blizaro, Bloody Hammers, Mountain Witch, Year of the Goat

Release Date: November 2, 2013

Brimstone Coven on facebook

Hamburg's Hammer Studios (GAMMA RAY / DARK AGE ) destroyed in a mass fire: HELP FOR THE BANDS!!

I was sent this bit of bad news late last night.  I just got home from work so I'm posting it now.  There was a fire at a Hamburg (Germany) practice / recording studio and several bands lost all their gear and equipment in the blaze.  Though I'm not familiar with any of the bands I understand how unbelievably shitty it must be for a band to lose all of its instruments and I also feel a bit of urgency to help as my paternal grandfather was from Hamburg.  Please help out if you can.  Read the press release  below to find out how:

Hamburg's Hammer Studios ( Gamma Ray / Dark Age ) burnt down! 
- Help for musicians in organisation with the Hamburg Cultural Foundation + donation account now available! -

It is a dark time for the music scene in Hamburg, Germany: On Monday, November 18th 2013, the legendary Hamburg-based 'Hammer Studios', ran by Kai Hansen & Dirk Schlächter of Gamma Ray and Eike Freese (Dark Age), burnt down in a mass fire. 

The recording studio, several practice rooms of Hamburg-based bands and a visual artist studio were completely destroyed. 
The damages are immense and 
according to initial estimates more than in a few hundred thousands. Together with the Hamburg Cultural Foundation an official donation account for the involved artists, who have lost their rehearsal rooms, studios & full equipment in the fire, has now been established.
For reasons yet unknown, on Monday, 18/11/2013 a warehouse complex in Hamburg went up in flames. Affected by the fire including the prestigious 'Hammer Studios' are several rehearsal rooms of local bands such as Brothers In Arms, 
A Million Miles, Chain Reaction, Black Hawk, Sambódromo, Kamizaraky, The Golden Creek or Cate 's Leila .
Valuable musical instruments, all guitar collections, amplifiers, and studio facilities were destroyed in the mass fire. Most of the bands are uninsured or underinsured and now fear for their existence.

In order to help these artists quickly and easily, a consortium of helping hands has now been launched 
in support of the victims:
The Facebook page  
»Help4HammerStudios«  now acts as the central point for those who want to help. Within only a few hours more than 4,500 people have already found together who want to support the musicians, whether in kind and cash donations till offering equipment or new rehearsal room facilities. In addition, already more than 50 bands have reported their assurances to support their musician fellows in form of benefit concerts.
With a separate fund-raiser campaign among its members as well as at this year's 'Hamburg Music Prize' "Hans" on November 27th, also thecommunity of interest 'Hamburg Music Economy (IHM e.V.) want to help the affected artists and music companies.

The Hamburg Cultural Foundation has just established an official account for donations to support the artists & producers, who have lost everything in the fire:

Name: Hamburgische Kulturstiftung
Bank: Berenberg Bank
IBAN DE25201200000052757010
Keyword:  Help 4 Hammer Studios

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Most Paranoid Songs of 11/20/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Spider Stole The Weed (Curse the Son / Psychache)
  2. Writing on the Wall (Horisont / Time Warriors)
  3. Kingdom (Sumeru / ST EP)
  4. Mindless Ones (Monster Magnet / Last Patrol)
  5. The Past Plus The Future Is Present (Ice Dragon / Born a Heavy Morning)
  6. Dargona Dragona (Vista Chino / Peace)
  7. Abysmal (Hollow Leg / Abysmal)
  8. Death Is Another Word ... (Earthen Grave / ST)
  9. The Jester's Clown (Wicked Inquisition / Silence Thereafter)
  10. Walk Through Exits Only (Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals / Walk Through Exits Only)
  11. The Revisit (Noctum / Final Sacrifice)
  12. SWB (Exiles / Wreck)
  13. Torment (Spiral Shades / Hypnosis Sessions)
  14. The Willow (Doctor Smoke / Demo 2013)***
  15. Wraiths (Crypt Trip / ST EP)***
  16. The Thief (Rote Mare / The Kingdom)
  17. Ovi (Seremonia / Ihminen)***
  18. Soul Cheater (Peacemaker / Cult .45)
  19. The Outstanding Loss (Blood Red Water / All The Ills of Mankind)
  20. There Is Not A God Or A Devil (At Devil Dirt / Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución)***
  21. Late For An Early Grave (Victor Griffin's In~Graved / ST)
  22. Night Child (The Oath / 7" single)
  23. Truth (The Dirty Streets / Blades of Grass)
  24. Tears of Blood (Tombstone / Evil Seed single)
  25. Overthrone (Anciients / Heart of Oak)
*** New Song

Outgoing songs:
I've Come for It All (Borracho / Oculus)
Raíces (Chinaski / Resiliencia)
Winter Is Coming (Church of Void / Dead Rising)
Berenjena Pipe (Weedpecker / ST)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

E.P. Epidemic III

As promised in the introduction to E.P. Epidemic II, here's part III featuring Doctor Smoke, Dozer, The Grave, March the Desert and the one and only Truckfighters ...

DOCTOR SMOKE - Demo 2013 (4 songs / 16:23) - Doctor Smoke came crashing and banging from out of nowhere with an amazing demo and an indiegogo campaign already set up to record their debut full-length.  My head is still spinning from the sudden impact.

The demo consists of three face melting originals and a Pentagram cover.  Between Earthen Grave's blistering cover of "Relentless" and Doctor Smoke's cover of "Pentagram (Sign of the Wolf)" that makes two awesome covers of my two favorite Pentagram songs to get my blood up within the span of a few short months.  But, of course, we're strictly talking Doctor Smoke and it's the originals that are the real draw here.

Doctor Smoke may be fresh out of "meds school", but they seem to have their Ph.D. in fuzz in hand.  The band boots the swinging saloon doors open on "The Willow", and they walk in and own the place.  Women want them, men want to be them and all that jive.  It's a smooth track, heavy, a confident feel from top to bottom, with a perfect flow from beginning to end, a nice wah solo to boot.  Doctor Smoke may not blow your mind with a whole new way of looking at music, they make their hay with some straightforward filthy and extremely heavy doom rock, sometimes that's the hardest thing of all to pull off.  These guys do pull it off and do it well.  While doom is known for it's grinding, dirge-like qualities (I think immediately of the "arrived 45 minutes late to the doom show, didn't miss the first note" meme), Doctor Smoke's identity appears to hinge on high energy.  In the middle section of the demo the band hits their stride.  "Blood & Whiskey" blends directly into "The Seeker" without missing a beat.  Once again, high energy and sleazy riffs up the stakes here to go along with some killer solos, nice dynamics and vocals which are just a touch deeper than Uncle Acid's.  All this combines to make Doctor Smoke a potent blend of the finest smoke.  This demo is available as a 100% FREE DOWNLOAD on bandcamp right now.  Inhale deeply from this demo, doctor's orders!
From: Mingo Junction, Ohio.  Best Song: "The Willow".  Rating: 5/5


Cover artwork by William Ede.
DOZER - Vultures (6 songs / 26:18) - Dozer's first new sounds in five years are actually eight or nine years old.  "Leftovers" from the 'Through the Eyes of Heathens' demo sessions in 2004-05, the six tracks that make up the 'Vultures' EP are strong enough to be most bands' standout career highlights.  "The Imposter", my favorite of the bunch, was a #1 Paranoid hit earlier in the year on my Top 25 song charts when it was released on a split single with countrymen NYMF (and what a strong three song single that was!).

I assume that most Paranoid readers know Dozer quite well, but there are some of us out there who are just getting her going at this party we call stoner rock.  If you haven't had time to go back and sample the above mentioned album or 'In the Tail of a Comet' well you should know that Dozer are legends in the field for a reason.  If you make 'Vultures' your introduction to the band you can hear right away how the band got it's well-earned reputation.  Keep in mind these are the songs that didn't make the grade for their Small Stone Records debut, but they are great!  Melody is a living thing which breathes and Dozer respirates with power and emotion, always.

Well, having now (finally!) listened to 'Through the Eyes of Heathens' I've got some perspective on the 'Vultures' EP, though only a little.  The songs which made it onto the LP surge with power and dynamics, the pre-production demos here that didn't make the cut are positively subdued in comparison with little of the stomp and pulse of those that did.  However, we are talking about demos here and so they aren't as well recorded or polished by their very nature.  That all said, the songs on 'Vultures' are still excellent and not only hold up on their own, but they ought to hold longtime fans over until the next Dozer release whenever that may be.

More than that however, when taken as its own thing, when not compared to the songs that made the album, what you find here is an incredibly solid six song set.  The six "lost" tracks burst with an energy all their own as compositions if not well rendered in the recording.  "Last Prediction" in particular is electrifying in its stop and start structure, featuring an eight bar guitar solo that is just mind-blowing.  The end of each line of the guitar solo overlaps with the pause on the main riff, ringing out before the main riff hacks its way back in.  Really, you've got to hear this, it's incredible!  What's even more incredible is that at the time, the song was left on the shelf.  This is a potential future #1 on the Doom Chart, for what it's worth.
From: Borlänge, Sweden.  Best Song: "The Imposter".  Rating: 4.5/5


THE GRAVE - Demonia (5 songs / 33:32) - Argentinian traditional doom trio The Grave have been on the Paranoid radar since summer time but they unfortunately slipped through the cracks here until now.  Their 5 song EP isn't flashy, there's certainly not a lot of trickery behind what they do, but there is a bit of that Halloween-y trick or treat vibe going on here.  The band treats listeners to a spare accompaniment.  The Grave start with a riff, then add drums.  Later, vocals are added.  Voila.  Done.  There's absolutely no pretension with this band and I love them for it.

'Demonia' has a very raw, live sound that can hardly be distinguished from their later live recording, 'En Vivo 2013'.  As I keep harping on, there's no trickery with this band, just an honest aesthetic with an eye out toward the traditional and metallic doom.  The EP starts off with an eerie and memorable clip from the 1971 film Simon, King of the Witches before spilling out into a pulsing riff on "Lord of Mirrors".  The whole thing is full of film clips and incendiary riffs in the great doom tradition.  Riffs like conflagrations, such as can be heard and felt on "Luciferian Woman".  You start to hear little pops and cracks in the recording and the whole thing begins to take on a "lost recording" feel, which only lends dark power to 'Demonia'.  It sounds as though it was recorded through the other side of a dimensional membrane.  It sounds as though it wasn't recorded so much as forged in a cauldron.  The fidelity is still decent and besides, I like a little wear and tear on my music.  By the time "Luciferian Woman" plays out, the band has you in its power.  Each song then bleeds into the next as you drown in a consumption of riffs.  As I said, not a lot of trickery here, The Grave just plugs in and plays.  The style is all their own, molten riffs, clean and deep vocals which grasp toward the epic and an incredible atmosphere.
From: Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Best Song: "Luciferian Woman".  Rating: 4/5


Cover artwork by Sam Grange (vocals).
MARCH THE DESERT - Waves on the Moon (3 songs / 18:25) - March the Desert erupted onto the Paranoid consciousness early this year with their excellent self-titled debut.  It didn't take too long for the band to re-emerge with perhaps an even stronger performance on three song E.P. 'Waves on the Moon'.  This young band from Brighton in the south of England carry on the sacred English tradition of being heavier than thou.  From The Pretty Things to Cream to Black Sabbath to Electric Wizard and beyond, the country that gave birth to the tradition of upping the heavy ante has found yet another deep rumbling voice in these native sons.  Opening track "Frown Curve" proves this beyond the shadow of a doubt, it's one of the heavier songs I've heard in a long while.  Once again the band revels in a Blue Cheer style riff staged in a doomy dirge setting.  The recording itself happens to fall on the lo-fi side of the coin, but the sound of it only adds to the Blue Cheer atmosphere.

But the U.K. isn't only responsible for some of the heaviest sounds the world has ever heard, it's also the birthplace of some of the most psychedelic.  Again, March the Desert proves they are game to toss their collective hat in among the legends on title cut "Waves on the Moon", a song which may go down as one of the ten "most" psychedelic songs I've ever heard.  And I've heard a lot of psychedelic music, particularly British psychedelic music at its most freaked out.  Heavy reverb on the vocals and a wah blissed guitar lick combine with a funky walking bassline before cutting out to the bridge and beyond.  This song will take you to an underwater world and drown you in reverb.  Final number "Tabula Rasa" finally answers that age old question:  What would Jimi Hendrix sound like if he played doom metal riffs through Blue Cheer's gear?

As three song EP's go, they don't come much tighter than this.  You can name your own price at March the Desert's bandcamp page by clicking the links on the player below.
From: Brighton, UK.  Best Song: "Frown Curve".  Rating: 5/5


TRUCKFIGHTERS - The Chairman (4 songs / 33:48) - Truckfighters' 'The Chairman' is like a single and mini live album in one.  By the time Truckfighters release their new album, 'Universe' on January 24 2014 it will have been about five years since the unveiling of 'Mania', the band's last record.  That's roughly the same amount of time between albums as Witchcraft's recent 'Legend' album and their previous record 'The Alchemist'.  When Witchcraft returned, they did so with a new sound which was little short of a reinvention of the wheel.  They showed the world and the legions of bands who have followed in their footsteps what the next step in the evolution of the Scandanavian hard rock sound could be.  On 'Legend', Witchcraft took Retro Rock into the future, and if that doesn't blow your mind then you might not have much of one to begin with.  The reason I'm going on at length about Witchcraft is because, Truckfighter's new song (the only new one on this EP), "The Chairman" has much the same feel.  Trucfighters have always been a different kind of band with a unique take on stoner rock, but "The Chairman" takes things to another level.  Manipulating tone and melody in novel ways, Mr. Dango shows the stoner rockers of the world how much more effective full-tilt heaviness can be when framed around high toned melody.  Perhaps I'm not as familiar with Truckfighters as I should be, perhaps I shouldn't be as surprised by this song as I am, it wasn't quite what I was expecting.  Fortunately, the surprise is a pleasant one, so don't be surprised how impressed I am with this song.  The new album may be something different entirely, something amazing.

Recorded earlier this year on the band's Australian excursion, the three live tracks here bring the band's live energy into strong focus.  It's a cool document.  Too often ignored by bands, the Australian audience recorded here proves they have energy to match.  Indeed, when the crowd starts shouting the chorus during Truckfighters traditional show opener, "Desert Cruiser", it is positively electrifying, even at a distance of many months and miles.  The crowd is game from the word go, trading call and response with vocalist Ozo on the very first run through the chorus.  The only thing I begin to wonder is whether any of my Australian stoner internet buds were at the show, immortalized on recording.  Next the band plays a terrific version of "Monte Gargano" from 'Mania' and "Traffic" from 'Phi' so that all three albums are represented.  All this makes 'The Chairman' probably the best E.P. in the world.

I grabbed my copy of 'The Chairman' from itunes.  You can also find it on 10" vinyl at the Truckfighters online shop.
From: Örebro, Sweden.  Best Song: "The Chairman".  Rating: 4.5/5

Monday, 18 November 2013

Mountain Witch - Cold River (album review)

Cover artwork by Emil Ahlman.
Every other band out there has either the word "Mountain" or "Witch" in their band name (there's at least one other band that has both).  Every other band uses vintage gear.  Every other band plays "Retro Rock".  With so many excellent albums out recently in this same style [Noctum's 'Final Sacrifice'; Doublestone's 'Wingmakers'; Horisont's 'Time Warriors'; Seremonia's 'Ihminen'], why did this German trio release theirs now?  Is there really room in this world for one more Germanic "throwback" band and their music?  On the surface, it would seem this is an album crafted from the very ashes of redundancy, destined to be lost in the shuffle and ultimately forgotten.  I find myself having to qualify this every single time I talk about a band that plays this "Retro Rock" style, but in the spirit of redundancy, I'll so it once more:  no two Retro Rock bands sound alike.  It becomes obvious as time unfolds with each and every new entry into the category that such uniqueness is one of the defining characteristics of the sub sub genre.  Sure, there are other Retro Rock bands that play a darker version of seventies hard rock sounds.  But, once more in the spirit of redundancy, there's something different about Mountain Witch after all (not to be confused with Portland, Oregon's Witch Mountain).

'Cold River' is Mountain Witch's second album, after 'Scythe & Dead Horse' from 2009.  The inaugural incarnation of the band featured Rene Sitte on guitar and Rene Roggman on drums, I haven't heard 'Scythe & Dead Horse' but the pair is said to have played highly improvisational instrumental desert rock.  Whatever the band sounded like in 2009, they are a doom rock beast in 2013.  The band has since recruited Tobert Knopp to play bass and Roggman has taken up vocal duties.  It's Roggman's sense of lyrical playfulness that ultimately wins me over.

"Shrubbery the Warlock" tells the tale of a pissed off warlock on the mountain top.  The entire story is bizarre and a little bit silly and that it's framed in an earnest sounding tune steeped in dark overtones lends it the air of absurdity.  "Sleepers Chant" features a rolling "vocal round" style performance that gives it the feeling of a nursery rhyme.  It's little touches like this that really make 'Cold River' stand out and keep it from getting lost in the slew of terrific albums.  But first, the album must get by on the music alone and Mountain Witch are up to the task.

The album kicks off with the short instrumental, "Snake Wand".  It's the only instrumental song on the album but feels like just the first of many.  Which isn't to put down of Roggman's vocals in any way, in fact I find his performance more captivating than most vocalists.  His delivery is often deep and commanding.  But it's a testament to the hypnotic groove laid down by the band and the deep dense forest of structure that I didn't even realize at first whether or not the songs were instrumental until I listened to them over again and watched the tracklist.  "Sleepers Chant" for example is instrumental until around the three minute mark when the song takes its unique twist.  Opening riffs are drawn out for extra measures the toyed with until the riff is embedded in the brain, it's only then that the band can move freely into the second act of the song.  Mountain Witch comes by this approach naturally and the instrumental sections contribute greatly to the dark atmosphere that the band has cultivated.  Mountain Witch's music is captivating without having to do too much.  The songs are well structured and dynamic, to the point where instrumental segments stand alone and sound like fully fleshed out songs in their own right, taking familiar themes and sounds and darkening them subtly through tone and extended passages.

Some Retro Rockers can take things too far.  It doesn't happen often, but when it does it's highly noticeable and stretches the limits of creative license.  What I'm talking about is stealing moments.  I'll explain.  One band in particular (let's call them Flower Band X) displays little to no subtlety in their dipping into the cupboard of Black Sabbath, stealing whole riffs or combining whole elements from two songs to make "new" ones and I imagine they'll keep at it until the cupboard is bare.  Mountain Witch (like Horisont) displays a deft hand for a more respectful kind of knickery.  They understand to take only one cookie at a time from the cookie jar and even then not too often, otherwise Mom and Dad are going to find out.  You may hear a familiar sound here or there as the band borrows a lick without resorting to swiping whole songs entirely.  On "The Covey", you will feel an old familiar sting from the drum pattern of "Children of the Grave".  But Mountain Witch do it in their own way.  Had they say, played the guitar riff from the Sabbath original overtop of it, this would be an entirely different conversation.  Look, the point is, Mountain Witch do it the right way.  Matter of fact, they do a lot of things right.

Retro Rock, Doom Rock, call it what you will, Mountain Witch's dark tunes strike the right notes, I have a feeling that this will be one of the albums that I'll be going back to for ages to come.  The album has been released on CD [here] and LP [here] by This Charming Man Records, I picked up my copy already.  You can always go with the ever popular bandcamp download by clicking the links on the player below.  You'll probably want to, without making any promises from this end I have another feeling that this album will be "list-bombing" the year end best of lists.

Highlights include: "Shrubbery the Warlock" and "Sleepers Chant"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 39:14

From: Hamburg, Germany

Genre: Doom, Rock,

Reminds me of: Black Sabbath, Brutus, Witchcraft (early years)

Release Date: October 28, 2013

Mountain Witch on facebook

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Doom Chart: Most Paranoid Albums of 11/16/13

Top 30 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Monster Magnet - Last Patrol
  2. Horisont - Time Warriors
  3. Iron Man - South of the Earth
  4. Doublestone - Wingmakers
  5. Tombstones - Red Skies & Dead Eyes
  6. Seremonia - Ihminen
  7. Mountain Witch - Cold River
  8. Beelzefuzz - ST
  9. Red Fang - Whales & Leeches
  10. Borracho - Oculus
  11. Windhand - Soma
  12. La Chinga - ST
  13. Crypt Trip - ST EP
  14. Doctor Smoke - ST EP
  15. Noctum - Final Sacrifice
  16. Curse the Son - Psychache
  17. Earthen Grave - ST
  18. Sumeru - ST EP
  19. Sasquatch - IV
  20. Old Man Wizard - Unfavorable
  21. *Dozer - Vultures EP***
  22. At Devil Dirt - Plan B: Sin Revolucion no Hay Evolucion
  23. Church of Void - Dead Rising
  24. Gaggle of Cocks - Low Class Trendsetter***
  25. Black Capricorn - Born Under the Capricorn
  26. Brimstone Coven - II
  27. Space God Ritual - Eldritch Tales
  28. Valley of the Sun - Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk
  29. Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals - Walk Through Exits Only
  30. In the Company of Serpents - Of The Flock***
* Album available on itunes
*** New Album
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