Friday, 5 February 2016

La Chinga - "Freewheelin'" (Album Review)

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/03/2016
Label: Small Stone Records



Retro-rock might be a misnomer but La Chinga does serve up that saucy 70s hard rock vibe. Each song makes a steadfast bolt to the chorus by way of Aerosmith swagger and Van Halen riffing, without neglecting the importance of a bad ass guitar solo. High-sung backing vocals abound, contributing a feeling of unity to the record and those listening to it.  At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter which song is cherry picked from the track list, each one is a party and luckily we’re all invited for the ride.


Freewheelin' CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Gone Gypsy
2. Mother Of All Snakeheads
3. White Witchy Black Magic
4. Stoned Greased White Lightnin'
5. Faded Angel
6. Mountain Momma
7. War Cry
8. K.I.W.
9. Right On
10. Dawn Of Man

La Chinga is:

Carl Spackler | lead vocals, bass guitar
Ben Yardley | guitar, mandolin, theremin, backing & lead vocals
Jay Solyom | drums, percussion, backing vocals


The Review:

Some parties are unforgettable. Take the time Jimmy Page rode a motorcycle through a hotel’s hallways, for example. That will always be remembered. And I’m sure there are plenty of ladies out there who have stories of joining Sammy Hagar in sex tents underneath the stage while Alex pounded out a drum solo up above. One day – and maybe it’s already happened – there will be such stories circling above the La Chinga camp. I say this because La Chinga’s classic-rocking, home-run debut “Freewhelin,’” harkens back to the days of yore when a band would roll into town and bring a party with them.

Retro-rock might be a misnomer but La Chinga does serve up that saucy 70s hard rock vibe. Each song makes a steadfast bolt to the chorus by way of Aerosmith swagger and Van Halen riffing, without neglecting the importance of a bad ass guitar solo. High-sung backing vocals abound, contributing a feeling of unity to the record and those listening to it. Whether the backing singers are encouraging the “freewheelers to keep moving” or celebrating the fact that “they’re going nowhere in the fast lane,” the sense of togetherness is hard to ignore. There are no synths or Hammonds heard anywhere – thank God – and the mandolin driving “Mountain Momma” is a needed touch of unpredictability. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter which song is cherry picked from the track list, each one is a party and luckily we’re all invited for the ride.

They’re coming over to Europe for a tour in the spring and I wouldn’t be surprised if they get up to no good and leave some unforgettable parties in their wake. So you better get in on that.

“Freewheelin'” will is available to buy here

Band info: Facebook | BandCamp

Horrified - ‘Of Despair’ (Album Review)

 By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 25/03/2016
Label: Stormspell Records (CD),
Infernal Devastation (LP),
Till You Fukkin’ Bleed (CS)



While the straightforward death metal moments are very good, it’s those moments of downtempo grandiosity that separate Horrified from other modern day death metal bands. It’s in those moments that Horrified offer us reassurance for death metal’s future, even in being so reminiscent of its past.


‘Of Despair’ CD//LP//CS//DD track listing:

1. Palace of Defilement
2. Infernal Lands
3. Chasm of Nihrain
4. Funeral Pyers
5. Amidst the Darkest Depths
6. Dreamer of Ages
7. Of Despair
8. The Ruins That Remain

Horrified is:

Dan Alderson | Guitars/ Vocals
Rob Hindmarshh | Guitars
Dan Hughes | Bass
Matthew Henderson | Drums


The Review:

Changes in musical direction are nothing new in metal. In fact, most bands end up changing over time, often quite a bit. For some it’s much more abrupt. You could point to Metallica moving away from the dense and imposing thrash of ‘...And Justice For All’ to the ham-fisted arena metal of their self-titled album. Or, to make more relevant comparison for this review, it can happen the way it did for Hypocrisy, who moved from ugly, punishing death metal to a synth-heavy melodic death metal sound. Hypocrisy’s change was more of lateral movement, remaining firmly entrenched in the death metal scene, even while coming up with more accessible, easily-digested songs.

In the case of Horrified, and the their sophomore album ‘Of Despair’, the transition is a bit softer as they’ve retained elements of what worked on their début, ‘Descent into Putridity’, but have broadened their horizons considerably. They’re very clearly still a death metal band, and the album’s tempo is pretty similar to their previous material, but the guitars have taken a much more melodic turn, by and large.

I had a chance to check in with guitarist/vocalist Dan Alderson, and when I asked him about what led to this more melodic turn, he had difficulty putting a finer description to it. In his interview with Kat Gillham at IronFistZine.com, he pointed to Dan Swanö’s legendary “Edge of Sanity” as being a primary influence. When you combine that with a general change in listening choices, and that he wrote most of ‘Descent into Putridity’ at a much younger age; the changes make perfect sense.

Aside from “Edge of Sanity”, it’s easy to hear bits and pieces of any number of melodic swedish death metal bands as the album moves along, even if Horrified still work from a foundation built upon bands like Asphyx and Dismember. With Horrendous’ Damian Herring handling the mixing and mastering of the album, it feels like everything fell into place for this album and the result a huge leap forward for Horrified as a band.

That ‘Of Despair’ and Horrendous’ material share some common links shouldn’t be surprising, but the two bands are still different beasts. Horrendous, especially on ‘Anareta’, is a band straddling the fence between underground melodic death metal and the accessibility of 80s heavy metal and thrash. Horrified, on the other hand, walk a line between nastier, primal death metal and the swed-death which the two bands share in common.

When trying to find a couple of songs to act as a microcosm of the album as a whole, “Dreamer of Ages” and the title track stand out, not just as album highlights, but as the songs that best encapsulate the album’s overall diversity. “Dreamer of Ages” rages early on, with brisk thrash tempos and tremolo death metal riff fit for Sunlight Studio in 1990. Once the song gets to the halfway point the speed slows dramatically, and the song becomes a mournful dirge, bursting with phrased twin guitar leads.

When I asked Alderson about the role of each guitarist (himself and new guitarist Rob Hindmarsh) he explained their dynamic as follows: “Rob only tracked his leads on Of Despair. His solo work on the album gives the trade-offs a nice 80s feel, and I think his shreddy lead work trades off with my more phrasey leads well.” Alderson’s more deliberate and expressive lead work takes center stage on the album’s instrumental title track, a song I hope is a harbinger of what future material will sound like.

While the straightforward death metal moments are very good, it’s those moments of downtempo grandiosity that separate Horrified from other modern day death metal bands. It’s in those moments that Horrified offer us reassurance for death metal’s future, even in being so reminiscent of its past. The performances are imperfect, just like those of the subgenre’s pioneers, but ‘Of Despair’ is also gushing with melody and atmosphere; something that’s all too often lost in translation when the death metal bands of today look to the past for inspiration.

You will be able to preorder the album on CD here. Check back for vinyl pre orders here, and do the same for tapes here.

Band info: Facebook

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Familiars - "Migration" EP (Review)

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 23/01/2016
Label: Independent


“Migration” DD track listing:

1). The Wild Horses of Sable Island
2). Runners of the Woods

The Review:

The last we heard from Familiars was in January 2015. They had just released a self-titled EP ( review) that was chock full of crunchy, Dozer-like riffs and smoky vocals that hung low in the mix.

Now a year down the line, Familiars is back with a new EP, “Migration,” and as the title suggests, their sound has shifted. The thing still bites like its predecessor does but there’s less gas being given on these two tracks. “The Wild Horses of Sable Island” is a touch more hypnotic than what their first EP while the vocals in “Runners of the Woods” fill the cracks in the music just right, hanging onto that Deftones influence.

It’s hard to say if these two songs are a sign of a new direction for Familiars or if it’s hinting at a balanced full-length that will draw on mesmerizing riffs as much as upbeat ass-kickers. I’m hoping for the varied full-length scenario because these two EP’s complement each other very well.

“Migration” is available here



Band info: bandcamp | facebook

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Disastroid - "Love Is What You Bring On Home" 7inch (Review)

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: 7inch
Date Released: 22/01/2016
Label: Independent


“Love Is What You Bring On Home” 7inch/DD track listing:

A). Love is what you bring on home
B). Gadabout

The Review:

If a band who makes math rock and is able to do so without alienating those who aren’t musicians, then they’re doing a pretty good job. Now with four releases under their belt it’s safe to say that Disastroid is such a band. By the time this review is posted, Disastroid will have released their new 7” called “Love is What You Bring Home.” It’s a release that plays out strange melodies to difficult timings, digging as deep into sludge territory as they do stoner rock. Side A is home to the 2 minute title track, a freak out that’s a little indebted to Fatso Jetson but no less Disastroid. Side B’s song is called “Gadabout,” and though less frenetic than its Side A counterpart, it’s no less restless. When put next to their last release (review), it’s apparent that Disastroid hasn’t really made a huge sonic transformation but rather has laid down more proof that they’re a steady force in the Californian music scene.

 Oh yeah, and check out that artwork.

Love Is What You Bring On Home” is available here



Band info: bandcamp | official | facebook

The Sludgelord's "Sour 16" for January 2016

By: Aaron Pickford

Just as soon as the year 2016 began, the first 31 days was over, but fortunately for you guys we managed to feature 50 new records.  Indeed whilst they may not be all new releases for 2016, it is safe to say that some records we have featured during January are undoubtedly early contenders for album of the year and we are a mere 3 days into the second month.  Leaving us in little doubt that 2016 is proving to be an exceptional year of music thus far. 

We have had the usual assorted of goodies, you name the genre, it is likely we have featured it and some of my own personal highlight from January, were new albums by Conan, Garganjua, Egypt, Black Tusk, and lest we forget the blackened tones of the ever prolific Primitive Man and their split with Poseidon’s favourite band, Sea Bastard

But what is a review site, without a talented bunch writers, so it was to my surprise and delight that we have been fortunate to have recruited two new writers and they have been quick to make their mark with high quality reviews, so welcome Richard Jaspering and Josh Lee.

Anyway, let’s get back to the matter at hand.  The Sludgelord’sSour 16’ is back, you know the deal,  each month, you the reader are unwittingly compiling a list of the top 16 records of the month, covering all genres of metal.  Is it not a chart, in which reviewers or contributors extol their opinion about their favourite music.  To put it simply, the Sour 16’ are the records  that have been trending the most at Sludgelord HQ and perhaps which you guys have been most interested in over the last month.


So here is the The Sludgelord’s Sour 16’ for January 2016.   Dig in, spread the word and perhaps revisit some records you may have overlooked.  The results are compiled based on page views alone and calibrated into the list below. So roll up, kick back, chug a beer and Hail the riff! All reviews can be viewed by clicking the artwork. (Total views since their publication are highlighted in red)

16). = High Priest of Saturn– “Son of Earth & Sky” (277)

Much like Tarot's “The Warrior's Spell” from last year the record is a kind of mixture of stoner/prog/doom/rock/psych. It is not necessarily riff led, or structured in the conventional sense, but this adds to its charm. It makes for a dynamic and melancholic listen as the music washes over you.  High Priest of Saturn have written and recorded a superior meeting of styles in this sophomore release. I highly recommend that you sit back, relax and just listen.


16). = Cauldron– “In Ruin” (277)

The riffing of “Burning At Both Ends” is pure Accept, adding a teutonic flavour to the Canadians' Brit worship. The reverb soaked drums and higher tempo of “Santa Mira” is pure 80's metal while the more sombre “Corridors of Dust” echoes the sounds and hooks of “Chained To The Night”.  This is an homage, pure and simple. Music from the past, being played today and with modern chops and studio equipment that can accurately create the sound that the band want to hear.   They sit as a dependable and impressive retro outfit. Kind of the Overkill of retro metal, perhaps? And that is a very high compliment, by the way.


14). The Body– “No One Deserves Happiness” (282)

Horns swell as dim, low riffs wash over your mind, drums vacillate between cold sweetness and strong blows and the stage of chaos is set by the high screaming voice of unreason, formless yet voluminous and constant. Static whispers through grating frequencies and primal percussion, augmented by surprising claps and snaps, urges the dance of a readied, warring people.  The Body’s latest is an opus to ecstatic agony redolent of SWANS and Neurosis’ output. If no one deserves happiness, I suggest here that it is earned.


13). Garganjua– “A Voyage in Solitude” (286)

'A Voyage In Solitude' bursts through the speakers triumphantly, like a lonely knight back from the Crusades, suffering, but ultimately glad to be back, 'Extinction' with it's solemn, sobering overtones, lays down meaty slabs of despair for the listener to indulge in. Some gut wrenching growls are also presented courtesy of bass player Gaz Owen and with the doom scene becoming a little stagnant of late, it's good to hear a band brandishing weapons of melody and having the balls to use them when the situation calls for it. A solid first album from these lot.


12). Classhole – “Classhole” (307)

Straight up punk rock with super thick guitars and bass making it more hardcore punk with relentless battery than anything else. All the songs are short and sweet mostly around a minute and a half and it feels like the bass is cranked way the fuck up. This whole record reminds me of Slayer's earlier albums to where as soon as one song ends the very next one comes ripping through. The entire album sounds like the derailment of a freight train coming through a republican party parade.





11). Niche – “Heading East” (319)

In spirit Niche is heavy but in practice they know how to apply heavy. This means that they have this tool on hand but don’t always need it. So “Heading East” is slick without drifting too far from the raw attack they delivered in 2013. Even when Niche dips in and out of urgent rhythms, they do this with a level of finesse that pushes the lush harmonies to the surface rather than diving into a riff-fiesta.




10). Mourning Beloveth – “Rust & Bone” (358)

For a band that have been around for nigh on a quarter of a century, Mourning Beloveth incorporate a surprising amount of experimentation. That said, they have their sound and are sticking to it. They incorporate death, doom, even elements of black metal and so on into their sound and deploy them all for variety across their albums. Although we may have heard the tricks before, the quality remains high and the band remain inspired with great depth and breadth to their compositions.




09). Mars Red Sky – “Providence” (365)

What makes Mars Red Sky so good, is that they effortlessly walk the line between heavy as hell and light as fuck.  “Shot in Providence” opens things up with guitars that are heavier than we as fans of the band are used to and for a band like Mars Red Sky, who excel at writing fantastic songs that balance heavy and melody, this is a daring step and it works really, really well.





08). Egypt – “Endless Flight” (387)

With an excellent album cover that recalls “Never Say Die”, the band let you know what they are about- spacey and heavy stoner rock/doom with plenty of Sabbath and a little Fu Manchu thrown in there. You have a guitar in your left ear, the bass in your right and drums and vocals in the middle in this wall of sound type production.  If you want some stoner/doom to start the year off, then this is a fine choice. A great record that you can play all the way through and just enjoy.  




07). Oranssi Pazuzu – “Värähtelijä’” (391)

Taking the album “as is”, ‘Värähtelijä’ contains flashes of brilliance, plenty of greatness, but a general need to be a bit more concise and efficient. It’s not every idea that deserves five minutes of exploration. In fact, very few ideas deserve that kind of focused repetition. Still, there’s no doubting that Oranssi Pazuzu are one of the few truly unique metal bands going in 2016, and that counts for a lot.




06). Black Tusk – Pillars of Ash” (397)

As per previous records, you get a kind of Southern sludge Motorhead: “God's On Vacation” roars out of your speakers and then “Desolation of Endless Times” just levels you. This is visceral stuff and has absolutely every needle in the red. Truly, the record form thereon in is pretty much unstoppable. To say that there is anything new here or any kind of left turn would be inaccurate. It is Black Tusk, more of the same; heads down and flat out.  The new era of Black Tusk should be celebrated as the band have chosen to push forwards after a most horrendous event. Their life force refuses to be dimmed, and this record is a shining example of grace under pressure and as fine a statement of intent as you will find.




05). Abbath – “Abbath” (471)

Abbath remains a creature of two minds, willing to both sprint and pace himself for a marathon, and he continues to produce at a top-tier level, whichever mode he’s in. Because of the long wait between this album and the last Immortal album, having new material from Abbath felt like an event, before I’d even heard a note. This album lives up to that anticipation, provided you weren’t anticipating “Pure Holocaust: Part II”, or something wildly different from the albums he’s released over the last fifteen years.




04). Primitve Man/Sea Bastard – “Primitive Man/SeaBastard” (644)

“Cold Resolve” is Primitive Man’s finest hour to date. Maintaining a suitably crushing tempo throughout its lengthy duration, it’s an intoxicating slab of misery reminiscent of a more aggressive Unearthly Trance  or Iron Lung slowed down to 3 rpm.  Sea Bastard have a knack for constructing huge tracks that flow seamlessly from one section to the next and remain engaging throughout. “The Hermit” is another killer cut from a great band who grow stronger with every release.  This split is a fine way to kick off 2016, two great bands at the top of their game delivering the goods once more and leaving fans eagerly awaiting their next releases.


03). Borknagar – “Darkness Drips Forth” (932)

Even though ‘Winter Thrice’ is firmly rooted in the present sound, I’d strongly argue that this is the best iteration of their established prog rock-obsessed extreme metal sound to date. The songwriting is the strongest it’s been since ‘Empiricism’, and the album sounds absolutely fantastic from a production standpoint. Vintersorg should also be commended for turning in his best vocal performance to date, which comes from someone who has been a diehard ICS Vortex devotee when it comes to Borknagar’s vocalists. It helps that the music behind him lends itself to his strengths, driven by big, ringing chords and some delicious guitar leads.


02). Conan – “Revengeance” (1241)

The song 'Every Man Is An Enemy' has one of the most metal sounding titles I've ever heard and the violent intentions inherent in the brooding, bruising riffs put the bands money where its snarling mouth is. 'Earthenguard', the final track of the 6 on offer, is a song so heavy it has its own gravitational pull. Its 12 minutes of neanderthalic doom which also swims and swirls thanks to the phased guitars. It's an odyssey, a massive trek through mountainous chops and pounding beats that are designed to systematically cave your head in.  Have Conan outdone themselves? Quite possibly.



01). Megadeth – “Dystopia” (5035)

This line-up has introduced itself with a battering ram of thrash utopia; the riffs, the fury and the sizzling lead playing present here stands toe-to-toe with the bands best 21st century output.  It’s a record which accentuates the bands relevancy in 2016. Masters of their trade just listen to ‘Lying In State’ and tell me they can’t smash shit up with the best of them. They continue to release music and make the effort to give more content for their fans to consume. Not many other bands their age can say that.


This list features reviews by, Chris Bull, Philip Weller, Richard Maw, Daniel Jackson, Dan Caycedo, Charlie Butler, Richard Jaspering, Victor Van Ommen



Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Duel - "Fears of the Dead" (Album Review)

 By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 12/02/2016
Label: Heavy Psych Sounds



My guess is that this Austin, Texas four piece has been raised on a steady diet of slasher films and Danzig. And what do you know, that’s exactly what we get to hear.  What makes these horror-doom rockers so interesting to listen to is the general good times they’re serving up. The lyrics are dark, yes, but the palm muted riffs that explode into infectious choruses turn each song into a celebration and once “Locked In” closes out the record it’s hard to believe these 38 entertaining minutes of horror-doom and good time rock n’ roll have already passed us by.


“Fears of the Dead” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Fears of the Dead
2. This Old Crow
3. The Kraken
4. Fell to the Earth
5. On the Edge
6. Electricity
7. When the Pigs Are Fed
8. Locked outside 


The Review:

Let’s go ahead and judge Duel by the cover of their debut album “Fears of the Dead.” The background is red, The Grim Reaper stares off into the distance, and the band’s name is written in a font common for horror movies. My guess is that this Austin, Texas four piece has been raised on a steady diet of slasher films and Danzig. And what do you know, that’s exactly what we get to hear. 

What makes these horror-doom rockers so interesting to listen to is the general good times they’re serving up. The lyrics are dark, yes, but the palm muted riffs that explode into infectious choruses turn each song into a celebration. Such is the case with how “This Old Crow” bounces around between rollicking guitar riffs, simple lyrics, and a crisp snap of the snare drum. And when singer Tom Frank sings “it’s time to release the kraken!” in the stage-ready third cut, all fists in attendance will fight gravity and start punching at the sky. In short, Side A has you running to your turn table and placing the needle back at the beginning to go through all of this one more time.

Feel free to do that but let us not forget that where there’s a Side A, there’s also a Side B. It’s on this side that the burl makes way for cleaner melodies. Opener “On the Edge” offers up a taste of some quality proto-punk which is balanced by the doomier 8 minute closer “Locked In.”  Between these two songs lies a homegrown bluesy shuffle in “Electricity,” a song that really takes the cake once Tom Frank hits his higher register in the chorus. “When the Pigs are Fed” is a cut that drips 1970’s classic rock and again uses the snappy snare drum to drive the chorus. Once “Locked In” closes out the record it’s hard to believe these 38 entertaining minutes of horror-doom and good time rock n’ roll have already passed us by.    


“Fears of the Dead” is available here

Band info: facebook

Elevators to the Grateful Sky - "Cape Yawn" (Album Review)

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/03/2016
Label: HeviSike Records



Cape Yawn” DD//LP track listing:

1). Ground
2). Bullet Words
3). All About Chemistry
4). Dreams Come Through
5). A Mal Tiempo Buena Cara
6). Kaiser Quartz
7). I Wheel
8). Mongerbino
9). Cape Yawn
10). We're Nothing at All
11). Laura (One for Mark Sandman)
12). Mountain Ship
13). Unwind


Elevators to the Grateful Sky is:

Sandro Di Girolamo | Vocals
Giuseppe Ferrara | Guitars
Giorgio Trombino | Guitars
Giulio Scavuzzo | Drums


The Review:

On paper, a potent mix of Monster Magnet, Kyuss, and Fu Manchu is pretty exciting. Taking heavy riffs, meandering, psychedelic passages, and melting them all together with stories of sun, babes, and drugs is the musical equivalent of your Grandma’s recipe for apple pie. Palermo, Italy four piece Elevators to the Grateful Sky (ETTGS) are on board with this mind set, delivering exactly that on their sophomore album, “Cape Yawn,” out in March on HeviSike Records.

In 48 minutes, ETTGS lays down 13 songs, each one drawing from a precise palette of influences. The result is something we’ve heard before - “Ground” is very Fu Manchu, “Kaizer Quartz” digs around the John Garcia side of the desert, and “Cape Yawn” owes so much to Yawning Man, - but done very well. Sure, each song is a “sounds like this” or a “sounds like that,” but that doesn’t immediately detract from the level of enjoyment that can be had when listening to this record. If you’re into these bands then you’ll enjoy “Cape Yawn” like apple pie – you’ve had it before but each recipe is that little bit different.


Cape Yawn” is available here

FFO: Monster Magnet, Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Yawning Man

Band info: bandcamp | facebook