Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Alchemical Mixture - Bite The Bullet & Pet The Preacher (album reviews)

From: Copenhagen, Denmark.  Highlights include: "Hit the Ground"
and "I Will Not Die".  Rating: 4/5.  Release Date: late April 2013.
Total Run Time: 20:07
Bite the Bullet is a two-man operation out of Copenhagen, Denmark.  But don't let their number fool you, it's a full sound the band puts out, utilizing different instruments such as piano and trombone on closing track "My Soul".  There's no shortage of musical ideas here, nor is the band short on the skill to pull those ideas off.

Fuzz, staccato piano and fluttering high-toned vocals illuminate opening track "I Feel Love".  The song is somewhat reminiscent of Roxy Music but toughened up by degrees.  Classic alternative rock with manically blowing clouds of guitar smoke distortion to throw up walls of sound until all melody is enclosed and hidden away in a rubber room of its own devising.  "Hit the Ground" is classic American psychedelic rock in the Byrds idiom, utilizing the never dull, always great sounding E, A, D, G chord progression (correct me if I'm wrong) during the verse with high/low harmonies.  The harmonies really sell this thing and it doesn't hurt that the two guys in the band kind of resemble Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley.  It's a great song, classic psych (see the video below).

This is the psychedelic world inhabited by Bite the Bullet.  There's something about the high harmonies, slightly cowboy western sounding fuzz riff and persistent drums that lends a song the element of danger.  That's just what happens on "I Will Not Die", evoking classic images.  Cowboy booted tough guy, a free spirit who don't take no shit off no man, rolls back in the small and quiet town where he grew up, in a black Cadillac of course with shag carpet interior , looking to escape the mistakes he's made in the big city ... until they catch up with him putting everyone in the town at risk.  It's a great vibe on this song, even if the story it evokes in this reviewer isn't terribly original, it still makes for a cool picture show in my mind's eye.  In other words, I dig it, it's got like a Nick Cave or Tom Waits dusty air about it while still being dreamy and psychedelic.  Kind of like The Big Lebowski, if you can boil that movie down into an overall impression encapsulated into one song.

This is the band's debut EP, being born of the ashes of their former band Highway Child.  A full-length album will see vinyl release via Bilocation Records this summer.  For now you can stream this EP on the band's official website.

Cover artwork by Lucas Ruggieri
From: Copenhagen, Denmark.  Highlights include: "A Part of Me"
and "Bright Land - Black Death".  Rating: 3.5/5.  Run Time: 35:35
Also out of Copenhagen are Pet the Preacher, the oddly named band who set the (under)world alight with last year's 'The Banjo' concept album.  It was a rollicking revue of big bluesy riffs and lyrics that shouldn't have worked but did framed around a scenario of a man's journey through his own private hell and the way to get out.  Less than a year later, here we are again.  The band is back with a new/old double EP containing the band's debut release from 2011, 'Meet the Creature' on side A, while the band's latest release, the 'Papa Zen' EP, comprises the whole of side B.

For those already familiar with the band's first EP, this will be a rehash but it appears here for the first time on vinyl.  Ditto 'Papa Zen'.  It's a great way of getting older material out to new listeners, like myself, who hadn't heard it.  As a first recording, the excitement and enthusiasm is clearly evident on these three cuts and just maybe a trace of self-consciousness.  It can be hard to tell with these guys though, they come from out of left field and do their own thing at all times.  The penchant for experimentation that the band is becoming known for can be found here in some oddball rhythms on "I Won't Let You Go" which shouldn't work but do and an otherwise mad scientist approach to a melding of stoner metal and traditional blues, something you would never have expected to sound so original but grows like barbed wire vines from the seed of the blues..

"Into a Darker Night" kicks the swinging saloon doors off the hinges of side B and swaggers in powerfully with some quietly urgent intensity.  "Papa Zen" is an instrumental that pops the cork off the tension built up in "Darker Night".  "A Part of Me" refocuses the intensity and tension through a heavier lens.

While band leader Christian Hede Madsen is busy with his more blues focused side project Hound, I doubt fans of Pet the Preacher will have to wait long for the band to make their next move as they're an inspired band who emphasize artistry and integrity over trends.  One thing this band won't run out of any time soon is ideas for new short stories.

Bite the Bullet official website
Bite the Bullet facebook

Pet The Preacher facebook


Monday, 29 April 2013

Miss Lava - Red Supergiant (album review)

Cover artwork by Jose Mendes for Maga-Atelier
Miss Lava came under the intense scrutiny of Paranoid Hitsophrenic's gaze when they signed a deal with Small Stone Records to release this very album later on in the year.  The label's other three recent signees were all familiar faces here: Gandhi's Gunn (now Isaak), The Socks and It's Not Night: It's Space.  Who were these Miss Lava guys anyway?  I immediately set to find out.

Miss Lava blast onto the scene with high-powered album opener "Desert Mind", setting a high standard for action-packed rip-roaring rock n roll which doesn't flag or waver.  11 tracks and 42 minutes long, the band gets in, gets the money and enters the idling getaway car without ever once stumbling, never overstaying their welcome despite the same-iness of the compositions overall.  It's not that the band recycles riffs or the songs all sound alike, but once that petal is on the floor, they don't bother very often to mix in different tempos or feels.  It's like going down a steep hill in a shopping cart, no brakes on this ride, baby!

Actually, there are three songs that momentarily tap the brake on this bad boy, two songs which can be considered the band's midtempo material and one slow one, breaking up the nearly relentless flow of the album.  "Hole To China" which still rocks much ass despite being one of the slower cuts on the record and "Ride".  Already a massive hit in the Doom Charts, it's a slow hammer of groove, matched nowhere else on this fine record than perhaps "Yesterday's Gone".  A streamlined machine of fuzz guitar, clean drums and vocals and thumping bass.  The album closes with the title song which is probably the slowest one.  At 4:29 it's also the second longest track on the record.  See how they get the money and run?

As I alluded to earlier, Small Stone will be releasing a re-mixed, re-mastered version of the album this summer.  It's a good job too because the production by bassist Sam Rebelo is a couple inches thin of the full bodied sound this band so richly deserve.  As for the version that's currently available at such online retailers as Ozium Records webshop, the CD is a truly nice package.  A die-cut cover with transparent red film opens onto a silhouetted picture of the band staring at a red sun going nova (you can make a bit of it out on the album cover photo above).  Overall it's a nice looking, and unique, package worth picking up for no other reason than the amazing music contained therein which the booklet itself implores the listener to "Play it loud and proud".  Not a problem, this may prove to be Small Stone's best release of the year, and for a year that is only a third gone and has already seen the official releases of Mother of God and Gozu's latest albums, I don't choose those words lightly.

Here's the band's self-produced video for "Ride", it was my introduction to the band and it might as well be yours.  If you do watch I guarantee you will see how much ass their rock n roll feet kick.

Highlights include: "Ride" and "Desert Mind"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 42:37

Johnny Lee - Vocals
Samuel Rebelo - Bass
J. Garcia - Drums
K. Raffah - Guitars

From: Lisbon, Portugal

Genre: Stoner, Hard Rock

Reminds me of: Clutch, Deville, The Shooters

Release Date: December 3, 2012, remixed, remastered Small Stone Records release Summer 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Get in your shopping cart and ride!

Better Review:
Sludge Factory
Sea of Tranquility

Miss Lava on facebook

Miss Lava official website

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Devil To Pay - Fate Is Your Muse (album review)

If you like to mope around the house listening to gently sung ballads over delicately plinked notes then I would turn and run in the other direction right now. Without a doubt, 'Fate Is Your Muse' is one of the best hard rock records of this year and will remain so until the bitter end.  If you like fast-paced mood setting heavy rock with chugging riffs and vocals that cannot be ignored, then this is your band.

Devil To Pay know how to set the scene (by the way, every time I say the name out loud I think people are hearing Devil Toupee).  "Prepare to Die" is not only a perfect opening song title, it's a perfect album opener musically as well.  A riff that cannot suppress its own enthusiasm spills out into a mushroom cloud blossom of shredded chords, a catchy chorus and memorable stomp to set a high standard for what's to follow.  And Devil to Pay don't disappoint, they "break your doubts and heave them / across the sky".

"Ten Lizardmen & One Pocketknife" is the kind of song title that should give the reader an idea of the kind of tension and absurdity the band finds expression for in their subject matter.  A less obvious example of this, but no less perfect, is "The Naked Truth", expressing extremity of tension in both music and lyrics.  Driving rhythms and relentlessly churning riffs chew up listeners and spit them out in an intense miasma of beer-stained paranoia.

The apex of this sentiment comes in the form of "This Train Won't Stop", the ectoplasmic embodiment of the spirit of this band, this one's got it all.  While chugging away the lyrics never forget to give the listener something to ponder and chew on, in an almost shamanistic sense.  You think the guy who's flying on a vision quest will be the most incoherent at the party but this is simply not so.  No one is more in tune with the universe and "what's happening" than that guy whose consciousness leaks out of his head like steam to envelop the surrounding environment.  Devil to Pay is that guy.  But there's nothing soft in their approach either, the band knows how to lay a good shit-kicking without getting too uptight about it.  It's just a little something in their bag of tricks, just something they know how to do.  No reason to make a big deal about it, but yeah, don't mess with the shamans.

Menacing guitar and drums roll over the horizon like a deadite army on "Black Black Heart", showing the band at their most contemplative, toying around with different structures, different tempos and feels.  It's hard to imagine they left anything in their bag of tricks.  Devil to Pay don't just feature an expansive consciousness, the musical territory along which they stroll is a vast open country, all of it hard edged.

Steve Janiak's straining and expressive vocals sometimes call to mind Joakim Nilsson of Graveyard, but while both bands pluck inspiration from the decade of wood-paneled vans, vinyl kitchen flooring and long hair, the two bands cannot be compared.  The seventies denim vest of Devil To Pay is draped over a decidedly modern metallic frame.  With that most hirsute of decades as the starting point of both bands, Devil To Pay progress into a heavier, sharper edged eighties sound and beyond, whereas Graveyard seem to regress into the sixties.

This thing is so full of great hooks, catchy choruses and rumbling riffs that it can be almost overwhelming.  Devil to Pay take stoner rock and inject it with heavy metal steroids creating exactly the kind of rock music this reviewer has been looking for forever.

Highlights include: "Wearin' You Down" and "Yes Master"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 49:29

Steve Janiak - Guitar / Vocals
Matt Stokes - Bass
Chad Prifogle - Drums
Rob Hough - Guitar

From: Indianapolis, Indiana

Genre: Hard Rock, Old School Metal, Doom, Stoner

Reminds me of: Black Label Society, Graveyard, Mothership

Release Date: April 9, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Become the urban shaman and master the art of living large.

Better Review:
Heavy Planet
The Obelisk
Ech(((o)))es and Dust
Sea of Tranquility

Devil To Pay official website

Devil To Pay facebook



Saturday, 27 April 2013

Hour of Power 04/27/13 (playlist)

  1. Wizard of War (Orchid / Mouths of Madness) 2013
  2. Into Her Grave (Vidunder / ST) 2013 ***
  3. Kvelertak (Kvelertak / Meir) 2013
  4. Vacio (Chinaski) 2013
  5. Steak 'Corned Beef Colossus' EP teaser - 2013
  6. Goodbye Gemini (Blood Ceremony / The Eldritch Dark) 2013
  7. Kingdom of Others (Death Ape Disco / Supervolcano) 2013
  8. From the Woods (Black Moth Cult / The Fountain of Tantric Worship) 2013
  9. Hand of Lucifer (Doublestone / ST) 2013
  10. Secret of the Fox (Half Gramme of Soma / ST) 2013
  11. Forever High (Orange Blossom Jam / Mystic Jar of Doom) 2013
  12. Hexagon Riders (Ice Dragon / The Burl, The Earth, The Aether) 2010 * 'classic' video *
  13. Mirrors (Romannis Mötte) 2013
*** special thanks to Captain Beyond Zen for this video

Doom Charts for 04/27/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Ride (Miss Lava / Red Supergiant)
  2. Lucid (Mount Salem / Endless)
  3. Pare Huarg (Lord Summerisle / Demo)
  4. Restless Wanderer (Devil / Gather The Sinners)
  5. Enter the Void (Tsar Bomba / Silent Queen)
  6. Lifestream (Blizaro / Blak Majicians)
  7. La Ley Del Dolor (Cultura Tres / Rezando al Miedo)
  8. Rain on the Highway (Geezer / Handmade Heavy Blues)
  9. Warrior Woman (Corsair / Ghosts of Proxima Centarui)
  10. Highflyer (Eternal Elysium / Highflyer EP)
  11. Final Escape (Amaxa / ST)
  12. Signed, Epstein's Mom (Gozu / The Fury of a Patient Man)
  13. Astral Sabbat (Jess & The Ancient Ones / Astral Sabbat EP)
  14. Big Bad Wolf (The Gentlemen Bastards / ST)
  15. Money Shot (Early Mammal / Horror at Pleasure)
  16. Leaning on a Bear (Purson / The Circle & The Blue Door)*
  17. Rad Dungeons (The Valley / ST)
  18. A Slow & Heavy Ride (Iron Hearse / Get In The Hearse)
  19. Tower of Silence (Cathedral / The Last Spire)*
  20. Widow Stone (Sonic Mass / single)
  21. Weather Breeder (Neon Warship / ST)*
  22. Wash His Bones (Dead River / ST)
  23. Corpus Earthling (Midnight Zombie Alligator / Nova Sico)
  24. Great Leader (Giza / Future Ruins)
  25. Death March (The Gates of Slumber / Stormcrow)*
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
Welldweller (Lothorian / Welldweller)
Howling (Wheelfall / Interzone)
Beneath The Black Star (Deep Space Destructors / II)
On Strings (VolumeFeeder / Crowns & Chains)

Top 30 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Blizaro - Blak Majicians
  2. Tentacle - Ingot Eye
  3. Cultura Tres - Rezando Al Miedo
  4. Weed Priest - ST
  5. Crag Dweller - Magic Dust
  6. Kröwnn - Hyborian Age
  7. Tsar Bomba - Silent Queen
  8. Devil - Gather The Sinners
  9. Beastwars - Blood Becomes Fire
  10. March The Desert - ST
  11. Green Shade ... Bright Interlude
  12. Void of Sleep - Tales Between Reality & Madness
  13. Sideburn - IV Monument
  14. Iron Hearse - Get In The Hearse
  15. Gates of Slumber - Stormcrow EP
  16. Mothership - ST
  17. Grave Disgrace - Triumphant & Militant Church
  18. Shinin' Shade - SAT-URN
  19. Spacefog - Purple Void
  20. Moss - Horrible Night
  21. Black Pyramid - Adversarial
  22. Revelation - Inner Harbor
  23. Bretus - In Onirica
  24. Egypt - Become the Sun
  25. Miss Lava - Red Supergiant
  26. Cardinals Folly - Strange Conflicts of the Past
  27. Devil To Pay - Fate Is Your Muse
  28. Machine / Sungrazer - split album
  29. Zodiac - ST
  30. Boudain - ST EP

Friday, 26 April 2013

Doublestone - ST EP (album review)

Cover artwork by Johan August Christiansen
Doublestone strutted onto the scene a little over a year ago with their three song EP called 'Set The World Ablaze'.  An ambitious title to an effort that very nearly accomplished said feat.  Heavy guitars and a punchy rhythm section put the tinderbox world on notice that this was a highly combustible trio who had riffs, high energy and knew how to use them.  Still, something was missing.  Somehow the circle was incomplete.

A year passed.

Then, Doublestone returned to threaten the Earth's extinction once again.  On this latest effort, Doublestone take the role of gravediggers, shamelessly raiding the riffs of the seventies, and the music is even better, more immediate, more audacious than before.  Smart use of organ on "An Omen" and "Wolves Gotta Howl" takes the band some sixty feet below, all the way down into the gone but not forgotten garage band era of the sixties.

"Wyoming Is Burning" is the heaviest thing on six wheels, rolling slow and menacing riffs out on skids greased with an open hi-hat hiss.  "Low" continues the doomy vibe with its drunken swaying riff and equally sluggish tempo and a catchy vocal hook, "You better learn how to lay low!"  It seems the band is only toying with listeners.  Just as soon as you've adjusted to the slower ride, they kick things up a gear or three with "Your Mother Said", a blistering riff rocker.  The previously mentioned "Wolves Gotta Howl" is given a dark, dark vibe by combining sixties garage rock rhythms with horror film elements borrowed from the same era combined with a fantastic circuitous hook.

But opening track "Hand of Lucifer" is the standout song here, believe me when I tell you, this thing's got groove.  Actually, don't believe me, listen on the player below and you tell me.  I don't know what it is with them Danes man, but they never seem to disappoint.  Doublestone proves themselves as capable of standing shoulder to shoulder with countrymen Moonless, Pet the Preacher and Altar of Oblivion in terms of a high level of quality while sounding nothing like those bands.  Actually, they sound like refugees from Sweden on this one, although other Germanic bands such as Kadavar, Heat & Torso among others have successfully summoned the riff rock demons of their Scandanavian cousins, Doublestone put the retro rock world on notice with this EP, infusing just the right amount of doom and a double dose of heaviness as befits their name.

I've got to admit, even though I was familiar with the band and I was impressed with their 'Set The World Ablaze' EP, I was not expecting just how good this six song EP would be.  I was pleasantly surprised with the direction this band has taken and will be first in line any time they want to put something else together in the future.  This EP is full of hooks, catchy vocals, wormy, groovy riffs and cloaked in heaviness not often found in retro rock bands.  If any of that sounds appealing to you, check them out on the player below, it's a FREE DOWNLOAD!!

Highlights include: "Hand of Lucifer" and "Low"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 23:44

Bo Blond - Guitars, Vocals
Kristian Blond - Bass
Mike Bruun - Drums

From: Copenhagen, Denmark

Genre: Stoner, Retro Rock, Riff Rock, Hard Rock, Doom

Reminds me of: AmaxaDevil, Heat, Kadavar

Release Date: January 19, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Get out your shovels and start digging for groovy, wormy retroness.

Better Review:
Welcome to the Void in Greek
Ech(((o))) and Dust

Doublestone official website

Doublestone facebook

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Mothership - ST (album review)

Mothership is everybody's favorite new hard rock band, and why not?  Melody never sounded this tough, the five minute song never had such full sleeve tattooed arms.  Mothership is one of the unequivocal success stories of underground rock n roll to emerge in the past year or so.  After building a large groundswell of support from an indie released demo and self-releasing their album last May, the band was signed by Ripple Music in the fall of last year and have since released their first music video and latched onto some major shows, kicking up dust on stage with none other than Nashville Pussy, Wo Fat and Kvelertak to name a few.  They then kicked off a rad cross country tour with Gypsy Hawk.  And they did it all on their own backs, through the power of the shredding riff and more energy than a nuclear power plant.

The album opens with a tasty five minute instrumental, "Hallucination" that first sits and ponders the mysteries of life, then gets up and smashes them to a fine powder.  These are some bad ass motherfuckers, man.  Seventies grooves and riffs with full arm sleeve tattoos and beer guts unleashed on flapping leather wings, this band won't be denied.

Hard rockin' funk characterizes every millisecond of this album, imprinted into the DNA of each song, moving from strong moment to strong moment in an ever tightening grip of berserker frenzy.  Even when the band explores the quieter moments between gigantic pillar-like riffs, they do so with an ear towards the rhythmic rather than the atmospheric.  The atmosphere on this album is made up of exhaust fumes, beer breath and the occasional jet of projectile vomit.  All the while, the lyrics pry the listener's mind open with images of "Cosmic Rain" and "Lunar Master"s.  I make a big deal of the tough sound this band pumps out but it's never in an aggro spirit.  The vocal tone is warm, inviting and welcoming to all who want to join the party and that's just fine with me, you just have to watch for flying barstools in the back is all.

From the anthemic "City Nights" to the Texas Chainsaw hymn of "Angel of Death" the band keeps the pace  high and the playing hot and heavy.  Of course, that's not to say the band doesn't have its more thoughtful side.  Spaced out song intros and metaphysical lyrics such as "Nothing that you see / Is true reality" prove the point.  Mothership is a well rounded band, the thinking man's band of tough guys, as apt to sit around the backyard campfire solving the world's problems over a case of beer as they are to crash the party and bring along all their gnarly long haired friends.

Talk about leaving on a high note.  I'm telling you, the song that closes the album, "Lunar Master", is just about one of the best songs I've ever heard from any decade, period.  A manic, all-stops-pulled-out floor tom beat down from drummer Judge Smith really kicks this puppy into orbit..  The first half of the song features a seventies feel to the riff with an eighties galloping rhythm it's a driving force of nature, a juggernaut set to tape.  The second half is the aftermath of destruction, almost as if the charging behemoth of the riff were to have looked over its shoulder and pondered the destruction that lay in its wake, not remorseful, just ... pondering it.  What makes this album so special is that this song is only a slight cut above the others.

I imagine most of you out there have already heard this album, got it one way or another and have since put both of your socks back on and sobered up just a bit, but for those who haven't, to the ones who came late to the party, or who somehow let this one escape their grasp.  Repent! ... no, really, pick it up if you're into doing yourself some good.  There are no longer any excuses to put this off because you do not want to find yourself staring out the window longingly at age 85 thinking about the 'Mothership' that got away.

Highlights include: "Lunar Master" and "Cosmic Rain"

Rating: 5/5

Total Run Time: 45:11

Kells Juett - Guitars / vocals
Kyle Juett - Bass / vocals
Judge Smith - Drums

From: Dallas, Texas

Genre: Hard Rock, Doom, Psychedelic, Early Metal

Reminds me of: Crag Dweller, Five Horse Johnson, Neon Warship, Wo Fat

Release Date: February 12, 2013 (via Ripple Music)

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Crash a party on the other side of the galaxy, then crack some brews and solve that world's problems only to hop in the mothership and do it all over again.

Better Reviews:
Soda Shop & redux
Broken Beard
Sea of Tranquility
The Ripple Effect
The Sleeping Shaman
Heavy Planet

Mothership Obelisk interview

Mothership facebook

GET IT HERE (physical copy)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Alchemical Mixture - Orange Blossom Jam & Ziz (album reviews)

The Italian psychedelic, stoner and doom scene is one of the richest, most prolific and consistent in the world today.  I thought I'd lift the skirt on the Italian underworld once more and expose two of the newer, not so widely known heavy psychedelic bands that call the country of Italy home.


Cover artwork by Valiu Voodoo
From: Osimo, Ancona.  Highlights include: "Forever High" and "Bees 
Dance".  Rating: 4.5/5
Orange Blossom Jam have got to be the most metal psychedelic band I've ever heard ... or is that the most psychedelic metal band I've ever heard?  Heavy psych taken to extremes, space rock and doom combine to form one of the most unabashedly heavy metal psychedelic combos around Italy or anywhere else for that matter.  This is heavy fuel for doomy fires.

About halfway into ten minute instrumental opening track 'I', the guitar crunches out one of the most ... "fuck yeah" moments you will ever hear in heavy music.  The kind of simplistic riff and syncopated rhythm that makes you wonder why you've never heard it before, or why you don't hear this kind of thing more often.  It sounds so easy.  It's the way you imagine heavy music as an overall concept in your head.  Dun-dun-dun, Dun-dun-dun, etc.  OBJ don't bother trying to overcomplicate the heavy, they've got loads of time to complicate things while toying around with their endless psychedelic ideas, so when it's time to kick ass, they simply roll up their sleeves and take care of business without being shy about it.  The heavy grooves only continue to roll off the band's collective tongues and fingers from there.

"Bees Dance" builds slowly, taking time to construct perfect moments from the most basic of foundations.  It's a confident band that takes this approach.  By not trying to do too much, they accomplish so much more.  The album is bookended by ten minute jams.  "T.H.C." is the second of these and, again, strikes the perfect Black Sabbath chord in the introductory riff.  Once again the vocals are heavy, gruff and forced through a smoke blackened throat.

This is some of the most powerful music I've heard in a while, managing to capture the best of the material and ideal worlds by combining the worldly strength of heavy muscle with the mystic understanding of the psychedelic mind.  A mind that is blown wide apart by the likes of Ziz.  Where OBJ found a mind-body balance, Ziz lets the mind take over.


From: Voghera, Lombardy, Pavia.  Highlights include: "Ziz"
and "... And To Protect".  Rating: 3.5/5
In many ways, these two bands couldn't be more opposite.  Ziz bill themselves as supernatural occult rock, toning down the heavy by degrees and increasing the use of texture.  Ziz adds waves of synth heavy or melodic embellishments to their compositions depending on need.  The outcome of the synth effect is always the same though: otherworldly textures.  While the heaviness is comparatively downplayed or understated, the band finds time to reference Paul Chain / Steve Sylvester style horror doom in places, never afraid of peering into that dark abyss,  but never staring so long of deeply into it that it becomes their obsession.

Instead, Ziz floats like a giant head in the sky broadcasting messages down as from a mind-controlling UFO.  They like to beam down late seventies / late eighties film soundtracks and simply allow the listener to create the images in their heads.  Synth gets a good workout throughout the disc and becomes their distinguishing characteristic.  "Welcome To The Machine" elements combine with A Clockwork Orange sounds to animate the spirit of Ziz, especially on "Tardigrad".  I can't imagine this kind of thing being everyone cup of tea, but those who dig it will probably love it a lot.  Robotic voices speak across the entirety of the disc's 31 or so minutes, sparking a conversation that, ironically, never becomes metallic.  The closest the band gets is to the neighboring skies of Hawkwind on the uproarious closing track, "Space is the Place".

In selecting these two albums to showcase side-by-side I have attempted to display the sheer creative breadth that is flooding out of the country of Italy.  Be it heavy metal or alternative rock, each band puts a little bit more thought into their product to place it on a psychedelic pedestal.  You can listen to both albums on the players below

Orange Blossom Jam is:                                  Ziz is:
Matteo Stronati – Guitar / vocals                    Alessio Bertucci – Guitar / vocals
Nick Soltani – Guitar                                      Lorenzo Trecate – Synth / vocals
Satia Dalia – Drums                                        Daniele Curone - Drums
Andrea Simonetti – Bass                                Nicola Cosella – Bass / vocals

Genre: Heavy Psych, Space Rock, Doom, Metal

Release Date: September 19, 2012 (Orange Blossom Jam); February 18, 2013 (Ziz)

Orange Blossom Jam on facebook
Ziz on facebook

Doom Charts for 04/24/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Lucid (Mount Salem / Endless)
  2. Pare Huarg (Lord Summerisle / Demo)
  3. Welldweller (Lothorian / Welldweller)
  4. Ride (Miss Lava / Red Supergiant)
  5. Restless Wanderer (Devil / Gather The Sinners)
  6. Enter the Void (Tsar Bomba / Silent Queen)
  7. Lifestream (Blizaro / Blak Majicians)
  8. Final Escape (Amaxa / ST)
  9. Signed, Epstein's Mom (Gozu / The Fury of a Patient Man)
  10. Astral Sabbat (Jess & The Ancient Ones / Astral Sabbat EP)
  11. Warrior Woman (Corsair / Ghosts of Proxima Centarui)
  12. La Ley Del Dolor (Cultura Tres / Rezando al Miedo)
  13. Highflyer (Eternal Elysium / Highflyer EP)*
  14. Howling (Wheelfall / Interzone)
  15. Beneath The Black Star (Deep Space Destructors / II)
  16. On Strings (VolumeFeeder / Crowns & Chains)
  17. Rad Dungeons (The Valley / ST)
  18. A Slow & Heavy Ride (Iron Hearse / Get In The Hearse)
  19. Big Bad Wolf (The Gentlemen Bastards / ST)
  20. Widow Stone (Sonic Mass / single)*
  21. Rain on the Highway (Geezer / Handmade Heavy Blues)*
  22. Wash His Bones (Dead River / ST)
  23. Money Shot (Early Mammal / Horror at Pleasure)*
  24. Corpus Earthling (Midnight Zombie Alligator / Nova Sico)
  25. Great Leader (Giza / Future Ruins)
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
Thy Kingdom Gone (Weed Priest / ST)
Piss Me Off (Hellryde Inc. / Hellryde Incorporated)
The Hammer (Attacker / Giants fo Canaan)
Misery Mountain (Black Overdrive / ST)

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Black Moth Cult - The Fountain of Tantric Worship (album review)

Cover Artwork by Coven Illustration
First off, no this isn't the doom rock band from the UK, Black Moth, nor is this French band an actual cult dedicated to the worship of that British band.  This is Black Moth Cult, a quartet from the French Riviera.  So let's get to it...

Solid stoned fuzz greets the listener right off the bat  on opening pair "Black Moth Cult" and "Sheer Dropping Suns" like an official diplomatic escort, somehow personified by the gatekeeper at the entrance to the emerald palace of Oz.  Your fuzz diplomat will be sure to steer you clear of all the clean, beautiful areas of town, taking you instead to the scuzzier back alleys, the greasiest spoon diners and meet and greets with the downtrodden. Pan-seared Fuzz is more or less the backbone of this record but this isn't your typical stoner album.  Somehow, Black Moth Cult finds the beauty within the grime, mire and noise.  The beauty is in the melodic and groovy elements that walk along the backs of those dirty sounds like a privileged upper class.

Every now and then the listener slips away from the escort and makes a bee-line for those desirable places, away from the pot-holes and the kipple to those stunning places above the clouds, "Mezcalkings" being the zenith of this expression.  "Mezcalkings" is a half spoken, piano-driven number.  In many ways a typical BMC song, featuring an understated verse which picks up the excitement levels during the fuzz-laden chorus, but providing a little something extra, a little something different with the piano and spoken passages.

But that's only part of what this band does.  Usually running a bipolar gamut, Black Moth Cult's hard-edged riff-o-ramas are punctuated by quick-burst moments of math and lingering moods of contemplation.  Dynamism, harmony and fuzz are the name of the game.  Never is this more clear than in the hip thrusting and head banging groove of "From the Woods".  Again, melodic phrasing is given striking relief against the backdrop of hogshit funk.  Smells awful but sounds great!  Ah, breathe in those funky sounds, just drink them in!

"Six Love Goddesses" has more headnodding bounce to the ounce than a Roger & Zapp song, almost reminiscent of Moon Curse's driving soon-to-be-classic "Medicinecoma" before opening up onto a highway of fuzz for the chorus and going off-road for a strange and mathematical journey to the bridge.  "Vintage Wines" captures that seventies mood in the chord phrasing and brush-shuffle snare march, it sounds like a deep album cut from any number of big name groups of the decade.  When the fuzz kicks in, it's all the more ripping and wrenches the song back into the warm soil of the stoned underground.

I'm glad that I've welcomed Black Moth Cult into my household to gather their sounds around the house lights, drawn to the light while simultaneously smothering it in the flickering darkness in their numbers.  And take a moment to lose yourself in the awesome pen and ink album cover by Coven Illustration.  Skulls n' snakes n' tits n' moths have the makings of a vision quest.  I say, if the time is right, this is probably the kind of activity you should engage in.

Highlights include: "From The Woods" and "Six Love Goddesses"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 42:56

Timothey Gelly  - Vocals, crushed glass bag & hammer
Alexandre Baille - Guitar
Nicolas Morsard - Bass
Quentin Gullo - Drums

From: Toulon, France

Genre: Stoner

Reminds me of: Deville, Intronaut, Romero, Tsar Bomba

Release Date: March 2, 2013

Better Reviews:
Heavy Planet
Temple of Perdition
Welcome To The Void in Greek
Stoner Rock BBQ

Black Moth Cult facebook

Monday, 22 April 2013

Half Gramme of Soma - ST (album review)

Cover Artwork by Dimitris Kazakos.
Greece is another of those places that seem to have been sprinkled with magic stoner dust at some point and just births terrific bands like a queen bee.

Half Gramme of Soma sprang from the Mediterranean hive in early 2011 and after adding vocalist Andreas have unleashed their stinging debut album.  They did well to find him.  A confident and forceful vocal delivery goes along way to hype up a song.  Andreas provides the band with a sparkplug on opening track "Burn Your Shadows" to help drive an urgent riff to put smiles on faces and make heads bob.  But really, the song is a bit of a misfit within the rest of the album.  A straight-forward rock song that does nothing to signal the coming madness found on most of the rest of the record.

The first hints of this psychedelic stoner madness rears it's heavy-lidded, bloodshot and grinning head on second track "Bipolar".  Twin guitars focus on swirling and swelling pangs of wah induced confusion.  On first listen, I was surprised at just how much of the rest of the disc was composed of these understated moments of contemplative psychedelic riffing, because the opening track gives little clue of what's to come.  But by the end of the affair, you realize that most of the album is like this and that this is what comprises the bulk of their sound: blues riffs that have just had their minds blown and have become forever lost in a catatonic murmur of wah.

"Secret of the Fox" takes this tendency to a summit of desert butte-y.  A star-speckled sky overhead, the stinging breeze of sand and psychedelics in the system, this song just may be the band's crowning achievement.  "Push Me Around" is a builder.  Goblin riffs and trollish tempos build a rocket powered speed demon, taking off about half way through the track into unexplored territory.  The next two tracks kind of split up the two parts of "Push Me Around", expanding upon their established sound and taking it to even bigger, better and more mind-expanding territory.

Aldous Huxley never intended Soma, his happy-pill from Brave New World, to be so mind-expanding but these five Greeks sure do and pull it off, and at only half a dose.

On a side note, the physical 'Half Gramme of Soma' CD is an impressive package.  Custom Printed in silver and black by Fuzz Ink, the cover image is enough to make a sober man question the basic foundation of reality.  You can stare at it for hours and it only reveals more secrets.  The inside is just as trippy with a spore cloud of cosmic babies and a die-cut eye, the CD slip is cut into the shape of an eye with the actual CD providing the "eyeball".  Anyway, all that stuff is peripheral to the music really.  Is it a great album?  Yeah!  Should you get it?  Yeah, I'd say so.  Will you?  Not on my say so alone!  So go ahead and listen on the player below and be sure to listen past the first song, because as I said, even though it's a good one, it's not really representative of the rest of the album.

Highlights include: "Secret of the Fox" and "Dead End"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 43:20

Andreas S. : vocals
Alexandros K. : guitars
Takis A. : guitars
Jim P. : bass guitar
Uncle Jim : drums

From: Athens, Greece

Genre: Stoner, Psychedelic

Reminds me of: Cube, Dala Sun, Enos, I Saw The Deep, The Routes

Release Date: January 8, 2013

Suggested NON-listening activity for fellow non-stoners: The desert savage in you wanders into the big city and is found to be a curiosity, only to end up hanging itself due to lack of soma.

Better Reviews:
Heavy Planet
Dr. Doom's Lair
Phantasmagoria in Greek

Half Gramme of Soma facebook

'KEEP OUR HEADS' Eolian Empire Portland, OR Comp. Free Stream & Pre-Order

And now an important messagefrom Crag Dweller:

Here's our track from the KEEP OUR HEADS cassette compilation out May 1st on EOLIAN EMPIRE: http://eolianempire.bandcamp.com/track/the-animal

You can stream the whole comp exclusively on the local Skulls on Shirts blog this week:http://skullsonshirts.blogspot.com/2013/04/keep-our-heads-hear-hearing-heard.html

Pre-order your cassette for $10 ppd: http://goods.eolianempire.com/product/keep-our-heads-heavy-vibes-from-portland

Or get it early for just $7 in person at the release shows this Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27: https://www.facebook.com/events/346742178779337/

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This song is available exclusively on 'KEEP OUR HEADS' the EOLIAN EMPIRE Comp. which features such other terrific Portland area bands as Sioux, Gaytheist, Norska, Rabbits, Lord Dying and 20 others!

So, once again you can only get the merciless Crag Dweller's latest song, "The Animal" on the 'KEEP OUR HEADS' compilation tape.  It is not on their absolutely stunning debut 'Magic Dust' (see review) which, along with Mothership's 'Mothership' and Neon Warship's 'Neon Warship' form an unholy trinity of recent hard rock masterpieces.  Anyway, yeah, keep your head ...

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Death Ape Disco - Supervolcano (album review)

Cover artwork by Greig Clifford
Along with Enos, March the Desert, Anacondas, Sea Bastard and King Goat, Death Ape Disco are among a terrific crop of newer bands from a burgeoning underground scene in Brighton, a seaside town on the south end of England.  The diversity of styles on display in this group of bands gives evidence of the fertility of the local scene.  Each of the bands listed above is as different sounding as they are excellent.  Among the most outstanding and the most unique of these bands is Death Ape Disco who play a high energy, grunge-crusted brand of rock n roll characterized by discordant vocal harmonies a la 'Facelift' era Alice in Chains.  Their debut album, 'Supervolcano' was released in early March and is deserving of some wider attention and acclaim.

The first thing you notice, is the clean production sound and sharp performances on the record.  'Supervolcano' gets off to a rolling start with three quick, high energy, fast paced tracks, then crests the top of the hill on "Grinding Down the Sun" and there are no brakes.  Closing track "Mars" hits the NOX and the listener is convinced that this album can and will blast off into outer space.

Death Ape Disco's use of high harmonies is often striking, the chords they hit upon are momentous and bold, they are the runway from which the album takes off.  One part Beach Boys, one part Alice in Chains, one part Black Crowes, but distinctly Death Ape.  By the time "Grinding Down The Sun" plays out, it's clear that this is the band's signature, these complex harmonies take over the entire affair, before arriving at the band's eponymous track, which is dominated by close harmonies.  Vocalist Rob Rainford is joined by guitarist Kit Brice to amazing effect, providing an unholy amount of momentum to the affair.  It's a tricky balancing act to have to pull off, especially live, which is why, I suspect, the technique isn't often used by underground bands.  When a band gets it right, it's impressive and terrific.  When they fall a bit wide of the mark, the sound can veer towards ... Nickelback territory.  Fortunately, this band gets it right far more often than not.

Photo taken from melodic-hardrock.com
Not to be overshadowed by the vocals however, instruments actually do play a part here.  Riffs are fast-paced, drums deliver groove by the ton and the band has plenty of stomp despite their tendency to sprint.  Sometimes the guitar work has the tendency to wind and twist like the roots of a tree pushing through pavement, a few more solos would be welcome and one gets the feeling twin headed string tickling monster Brice and Boulstridge have a few great ones in them, but the lack of solos does little to diminish the power and spectacle of the album as a whole.  Mostly the songs are too tightly structured to allow for such flights of pyrotechnic fancy.  On a similar note, drum fills are kept largely to the beginnings of tracks rather than interspersed throughout.  The fact that the band can tightly structure their songs however speaks quite well of their craftsmanship.

At the end of the day, 'Supervolcano' is a terrific hard rock album infused with more than a touch of grunge and southern metal in the C.O.C., B.L.S. vein.  It will surely get the blood pumping through that mangy old corpse and I would recommend this album to anyone with even a passing interest in rock music from the nineties and beyond.

Highlights include: "Kingdom of Others" and "Death Ape Disco"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 34:10

Rob Rainford - vocals
Kit Brice - guitar, vocals
James Boulstridge - guitar
Sam Curtis - monkeybass
Harry Lehane - drums

From: Brighton, UK

Genre: Hard Rock, Stoner, Grunge, Southern Metal

Reminds me of: Alice in Chains, Fen, Mexicoma, VolumeFeeder

Release Date: March 6, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Get in your shopping cart and roll down from the very top of the hill.  Pick up whatever mangled limbs remain, push cart back up to the top of the hill.  Repeat.

Better Review:
Stoner Hive

Death Ape Disco facebook

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Hour of Power 04/20/13 (playlist)

  1. Stone (Alice in Chains / The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here) 2013
  2. Greyblackfalconhawk (Ice Dragon / Greyblackfalconhawk) 2012
  3. Kings Highway [live] (Scorpion Child) 2013
  4. Together Again - Black Sabbath promo clip 2013
  5. God is Dead? (Black Sabbath / 13) 2013
  6. Unspoken (Kylesa / Ultraviolet) 2013
  7. ... And Death Rides With Us (Temptations Wings / Legends of the Tusk) 2013
  8. Brother Death (Zodiac / ST) 2013
  9. Keyhole / Inner Saturn (Shinin' Shade / SAT-URN) 2013
  10. Wheeling Dervish (Romero / Take the Potion) 2013
  11. Closer (Traveling Circle / Escape From Black Cloud) 2012

Doom Charts for 04/20/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Thy Kingdom Gone (Weed Priest / ST)
  2. Lucid (Mount Salem / Endless)
  3. Ride (Miss Lava / Red Supergiant)
  4. Howling (Wheelfall / Interzone)
  5. Welldweller (Lothorian / Welldweller)
  6. Astral Sabbat (Jess & The Ancient Ones / Astral Sabbat EP)
  7. Pare Huarg (Lord Summerisle / Demo)
  8. Enter the Void (Tsar Bomba / Silent Queen)
  9. Beneath The Black Star (Deep Space Destructors / II)
  10. Lifestream (Blizaro / Blak Majicians)
  11. Final Escape (Amaxa / ST)
  12. Piss Me Off (Hellryde Inc. / Hellryde Incorporated)
  13. The Hammer (Attacker / Giants fo Canaan)
  14. On Strings (VolumeFeeder / Crowns & Chains)
  15. Signed, Epstein's Mom (Gozu / The Fury of a Patient Man)
  16. Warrior Woman (Corsair / Ghosts of Proxima Centarui)
  17. La Ley Del Dolor (Cultura Tres / Rezando al Miedo)
  18. Restless Wanderer (Devil / Gather The Sinners)*
  19. Rad Dungeons (The Valley / ST)
  20. Wash His Bones (Dead River / ST)
  21. A Slow & Heavy Ride (Iron Hearse / Get In The Hearse)
  22. Big Bad Wolf (The Gentlemen Bastards / ST)
  23. Corpus Earthling (Midnight Zombie Alligator / Nova Sico)
  24. Misery Mountain (Black Overdrive / ST)
  25. Great Leader (Giza / Future Ruins)
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
She-Wolf (The Wandering Midget / From The Meadows of Opium Dreams)

Top 30 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Weed Priest - ST
  2. Tentacle - Ingot Eye
  3. Crag Dweller - Magic Dust
  4. Blizaro - Blak Majicians
  5. March The Desert - ST
  6. Green Shade ... Bright Interlude
  7. Cultura Tres - Rezando Al Miedo
  8. Tsar Bomba - Silent Queen
  9. Sideburn - IV Monument
  10. Beastwars - Blood Becomes Fire
  11. Kröwnn - Hyborian Age
  12. Iron Hearse - Get In The Hearse
  13. Devil - Gather The Sinners
  14. Void of Sleep - Tales Between Reality & Madness
  15. Spacefog - Purple Void
  16. Gates of Slumber - Stormcrow EP
  17. Bretus - In Onirica
  18. Egypt - Become the Sun
  19. Grave Disgrace - Triumphant & Militant Church
  20. Various Artists - Chilean Fuzz Comp.
  21. Mothership - ST
  22. Revelation - Inner Harbor
  23. Shinin' Shade - SAT-URN
  24. Mount Salem - Endless EP
  25. Moss - Horrible Night
  26. Boudain - ST EP
  27. Miss Lava - Red Supergiant
  28. Orange Blossom Jam - Mystic Jar of Doom
  29. Devil To Pay - Fate Is Your Muse
  30. Zodiac - ST


Special 4/20 Edition
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Sweet Leaf (Black Sabbath / Master of Reality)
  2. Gardenia (Kyuss / Welcome To Sky Valley)
  3. Better The Devil You Know Than The Devil You Don't Know (At Devil Dirt / Chapter II "Vulgo gratissimus auctor")
  4. Dopethrone (Electric Wizard / Dopethrone)
  5. Hail the Leaf (Down / NOLA)
  6. Bong Thrower (Belzebong / Sonic Scapes & Weedy Grooves)
  7. A Planet on 4 Legs (Dope Flood / A Planet on 4 Legs)
  8. The Psychedelic Warlords [Disappear In Smoke] (Hawkwind / Hall of the Mountain Grill)
  9. You Don't Know Shit About Dope Smoke (Black Acid Devil / Mountains of Madness)
  10. 666.1.333 (DSW / Dust Storm Warning)
  11. Marijuane & The Kingdom Comes (The Routes / Land of Holy Dope)
  12. Sunshine of Your Leaf (Green Shade / .. Bright Interlude)
  13. Gweedo-Weedo (Truckfighters / Gravity X)
  14. Storm Reefer (Dopethrone / III)
  15. Space Reefer (Spelljammer / Vol. II)
  16. Cannabis Sativa Lucifera (Goat Bong / Goat Worship & Sodomy)
  17. Weedemon (Occult Overdrive / Rehearsal Demo 2010)
  18. Ghost Cargo From the Bong (Dopelord / Magick Rites)
  19. Holy Weed of the Cosmos [The Great Ritual] (Black Land / ST)
  20. Dopefiend (Woodrue / Dopefiend Demo)
  21. Stonk (Dopefight / Hell Comes Home Vol. 1)
  22. Forever High (Orange Blossom Jam / Mystic Jar of Doom)
  23. Weed Priest (Weed Priest / ST)
  24. I Just Wanna Get High With You (Geezer / Handmade Heavy Blues)
  25. Get You High (Lord 13 / 2013)

Friday, 19 April 2013

Temptations Wings - Legends of the Tusk (album review)

Temptations Wings originally got the nod here at Paranoid Hitsophrenic because of the band name.  Anybody who shows enough respect to a classic song to name their band after it as an homage displays good taste.  The logic goes: if you're going to name your band after a song, it might as well be a great one, and if a band is named after a great song they at least deserve a listen.  What you get here is southern rock with a pitted and dull bladed edge of viking toughness.  If there were ever such a group of men to be known as Southern Vikings, then Temptations Wings are them.

Viking Metal, as it is known, is one of those subgenres that doesn't really fit.  It's really just Death Metal with apparent viking themed lyrics.  Honestly, I don't even know why Death Metal bands bother with lyrics at all, seeing as how they are unintelligible.  Some of those death metal lyrics are really articulate as well if you read them.  It's a shame.  But if there were a band worthy of the label, this is it.  Clearly heard lyrical themes combined with the blood, thunder and brute strength of berserker warriors get the message across.  This is what true Viking Metal is and should be.  The band is from North Carolina and adds the spice Corrosion of Conformity style southern riffery to the stew as well, making for one thick and tasty 18 minute pot.

Opening track "Crush the Weak" does just that.  It has groove in bloody spades and thumping rubber band rhythms that bounce right into the center of the brain.  A raiding party of beer can crushing good times.  But it's not until "... And Death Rides With Us" that the band puts their hulking menace on display with a slicing, dicing C.O.C. type riff and call and response chorus.  Shredding leads and heavy groove complete the task, earning the band old school metal stripes to adorn their southern rock overcoat, looks good don't it?  Sounds good too.

The EP closes with a final rocking track after a short instrumental precursor.  "Frozen Wastes of Death" captures the mood of its title weaving a windswept passage into southern chugger "The Last Titan".  Lyrically, the song carries with it themes from the title and soundscape of its intro.

Temptations Wings play it cool here by not offering up a free download but charging a dirt cheap price on the CD version, the same low price of the digital download as a matter of fact, so you might as well pick up the CD.  I like it when bands do this and I think it's a smart idea.  I grabbed mine a short while ago.  It sits here on my desk right next to the empty mug, empty box of donuts, the nail clippers and the severed heads.

UPDATE:  It's come to my attention that I am obligated to inform the reader that I do not have severed heads on my desk.  Or anywhere else for that matter.  Furthermore, Temptations Wings' music did not inspire me to take them and glory on the frozen wastes of an icy battleground.  That is all.

Highlights include: "...and Death Rides With Us" and "Crush the Weak"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 18:28

Micah-Guitars and Vocals
Wilford -Bass

From: Asheville, North Carolina

Genre: Stoner Metal, Southern, Hard Rock

Reminds me of: Arkham Witch, Crag Dweller, Down, Nightosaur, Thorr-Axe

Release Date: March 3, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: taking heads and glory on the frozen wastes of an icy battleground.

Better Review:
The Soda Shop

Temptations Wings facebook

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Traveling Circle - Escape From Black Cloud (album review)

Cover artwork by (my very distant relative???) Erin Klauk.
Like a white pearl formed from the grit of flaked-off beauty in an utterly black ocean of chaos, Traveling Circle have emerged from Brooklyn, New York to unleash their latest album of otherworldly psychedelia.  When I think of psychedelic music, the geographical area that is associated with it is either Haight-Ashbury or Swingin' London, not Brooklyn, New York.  But that's just where these three lads are from and far be it from me to call their particular strand of psychedelia anything but 'authentic'.  Brooklyn is not the epicenter one would expect of such mind expanding sonic waves.  Isn't Brooklyn hung up on a heavy reality trip, man?  The waves produced by Traveling Circle are more cosmically attuned to the calmly rolling Pacific Ocean than the harsh, choppy, hurricane-prone Atlantic.

Then again, on second thought ... Traveling Circle cut a Panama canal through the genre by their use of serene spider's web melodies, gently lapping spaced out tone and their penchant for whipped up frenzies of fuzz and reverb, creating a torrential downpour of noise during sideways gusting jams.

Opening track "Higher" features the most echo drenched vocal I've ever heard.  It's a creeper of a tune which situates the listener snugly inside the realm of the dreamworld.  The tone is very much set on this one, which carries through to varying degrees throughout the length of the record.  "The Candlelight Sways" features a falsetto vocal delivery that is actually reminiscent of Marvin Gaye in both tone and choice of melody.  I'm talking 'Trouble Man', 'Here, My Dear' era Marvin Gaye.  Not everybody's favorite era, to be sure, but it was during this period when the master of soul was at his vocal peak and it was an era which was punctuated by moments of absolute brilliance.  Traveling Circle takes us to this place early and often.

After tiptoeing through the delicately building birth pangs of a "Newborn Shadow" we reach the "Green Spider" and it's pure otherworldly psychedelia.  Classic stuff really, vapors blown down from The Byrds and Rolling Stones at their most lysergic to the Brian Jonestown Massacre and their associated acts to be picked up here in convincing fashion.  Of course, hearkening to days past is not the target of Traveling Circle, rather, it is to push the music ahead to a kaleidoscopic foggy future.  Well if "Green Spider" is the future, then it's got a great soundtrack.  "Closer" flows naturally from these vapors providing a fluid landscape upon which floats a stream of those gossamer melodies, always threatening to lose shape and distort monstrously on this breakthrough trip.

This band is all about feel, "Rock This Feeling" lays it all on the table, providing more a few tingles up the spine with its fuzzsaw slashes, cutting a striking image on a largely ethereal album.  "Rock This Feeling" tugs the free floating soul back down to earth by its silver tether and gives the inert body a shake just in time to witness the Canterbury prog weirdness of "Fountain of Time".  This fountain is an oasis in the desert of reality, the strange and vivid dreams of the record have now escaped into the waking world.  Most observers would call it madness and try hard to shake it off, Traveling Circle go deeper down the well on "Conduit is Closing" right the next thing.

I think, the lesson here, is one we've known all along, which is actually twofold.  One, that you can be whatever and whoever you want to be no matter where you're situated, dig?  And two, that in an internet age of instant access to an undigestibly amorphous blob of media, cross-pollination from various sources can facilitate a worldwide 'scene' rather than a local one.  In other words, if something is 'happening' in say, San Francisco, it doesn't mean that folks as far afield as Tokyo, Rome, Nairobi or even Brooklyn can't catch wind of it and conversely that one no longer need look out their own bedroom window for inspiration when there's a world at one's fingertips.

To gain a ton of insight into the album read this terrific interview the band did with It's Psychedelic Baby magazine.

Highlights include: "Fountain of Time" and "Closer"

Rating: 4/5

1). Higher (3:30)
2). The Candlelight Sways (2:55)
3). Newborn Shadow (2:57)
4). Green Spider (2:21)
5). Closer (3:28)
6). The Willow Tree Fair (4:53)
7). Rock This Feeling (3:23)
8). Fountain of Time (3:54)
9). Conduit Is Closing (3:59)
10). Tears From the Soul (3:38)
Total Run Time: 34:52

Dylan (lead vocals, guitar)
Josh (drums, percussion)
Charlie (bass guitar, backing vocals

From: Brooklyn, New York

Genre: Psychedelic

Reminds me of: The Barrens, Marvin Gaye, Mondo Drag, Soft Machine, White Bone Rattle

Release Date: December 16, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Enter a looking glass world where the air feels like gelatin but cracks like crystal by every movement that is made.  Follow the cracks and swim between the spaces avoiding the sharp edges to arrive at the hinted doorway.  Enter, continue.

Better Reviews:
The Obelisk
It's Psychedelic Baby
Writing About Music

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