Thursday, 25 August 2016

SPLIT REVIEW & EXCLUSIVE STREAM: Black Tar Prophet/Iron Gavel - "Black Tar Prophet/Iron Gavel" Split

By: Hunter Young

Album Type: Split LP
Date Released: 16/09/2016
Label: Broken Limbs Recordings

“Black Tar Prophet/Iron Gavel” Split LP//DD track listing:

1). Black Tar Prophet – Malignancy
2). Black Tar Prophet – Ruinous Decay
3). Black Tar Prophet – Sociopathic Society
4). Black Tar Prophet – Abuse
5). Iron Gavel – Teeth/Torn
6). Iron Gavel – Shroud
7). Iron Gavel – Germ

The Review:

Splits are always a great time, but when you have the Likes of the sonic muck makers Black Tar Prophet on one, you must cleanse the soul for what's to come oozing from your speakers. BTP have been dragging fans into a sludge infested quagmire for a while now, and when paired with funereal Iron Gavel, thou shalt not leave unmarked.

Kicking the piece off, Black Tar Prophet lets loose the malignancy with their harsh, throbbing brand of sludge, with the track “Malignant”. Throughout their half of the split (4 songs, #1-4), it's like listening to cancer grow, an almost bulbous sound generated by their nothing-but-low-end approach, as it just slowly grows from one song to the next.  The soundbites are religious, anxious, full of nothing but bad vibes; and their music is the sonorous black velvet curtain behind the show. They only stray from slow trudging at the end of “Ruinous Decay” and the aptly titled “Abuse”, going faster and more violent throughout the latter, and towards the last minute more groove oriented on the former, respectively. And for the record, BTP makes 3 minute songs feel like a whole album.

And after that punishing journey, Iron Gavel gives us some simple midnight oil stained doom, spread across the remaining 3 tracks. They have a more traditional feel in the doom/sludge area, closer to an Electric Wizard type sound but with a more bass heavy tone; hard to explain until you pick this one up. Opening with thunderous “Teeth/Thorn”, Iron Gavel riffs like a giant striding across distant lands, shaking everything around with its mighty steps. They utilize effects well, giving a spacey vibe and large sound to the track, and then busting out some truly fun riffage with distortion and some phase. “Shroud” follows suit, keeping that deep, muddy distortion tone, but is much faster, and so much shorter at 1:31. Fun track to just jam out to. They end with “Germ”, another long song at a little over 6 minutes, and just as full of fuzzy goodness! These guys fill rooms with a sound large enough to blacken the lights, if this split is any to go by.

If you're a fan of doom/sludge bands with no vocals and nothing else other than pure volume from their amps, these two bands will delight you! Treat yourself to one of the most even matched records of the year, and prepare to feel a beating in your ear canal as we offer you the full and exclusive stream of the whole split below.   

“Black Tar Prophet/Iron Gavel” is available here

Band info: Black Tar Prophet: bandcamp || facebook || Iron Gavel: facebook

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

LIVE REVIEW: Vektor @ The Star & Garter, Manchester, England. 17th August 2016

By: Phil Weller


With much of 2015 spent cooped up in writing sessions and locked behind studio doors, Arizona thrash troupe Vektor were always going to spread their wings in 2016, and with an army of blisteringly progressive and technical, gilt-edged songs now adorning their arsenal, it is no surprise they chose to smash through ‘Terminal Redux’ in its entirety during this mini UK tour. And what an album it is. Sprinkled with some form of pixie dust, or perhaps bolstered by main man David DiSanto bargaining away his soul in some form of Robert Johnson type deal with the devil, however they have crafted this album, it has thrust them into the heart of extreme metal’s war cabinet.
From shrill vocal shrieks to cannoning drum work and lusciously defined twin guitar attacks, here is a record that has a sickening amount of tricks up its sleeve. As, one by one, they give each trick– such as the sombre openings of ‘Cygnus Terminal’, which morphs into a stomping beast of a song to the dextrous, tapped guitar playing of its successor ‘LCD (Liquid Crystal Disease)’ – they always remain engaging and entertaining. While many modern thrash bands have the tendency to fall into a clichéd formulaic reiteration of the 80s classics, Vektor prove to be much more than just a thrash band and here they parade their rich, coloured plumage before a sweat box of a room.
The dingy old pub of The Star & Garter, which nestles just a stone’s throw away from Piccadilly Train Station’s bustling taxi rank, is the most fitting place for music as nasty and visceral as this to mark its territory tonight. As the sky – barely visible through a grubby window at the back of the stage – slowly darkens, and as the block of flats whose figure cuts a striking silhouette upon it slowly becomes illuminated, the temperature becomes increasingly stifling. You sweat, you swig your beers quicker and you cheer even louder. The bludgeoning mess that is playing out before you, even with the PA sometimes struggling to handle the sheer attack of it all, is reciprocated in a packed-together crowd; one detailed by battle jackets and bobbing heads.
Though, as boisterous as this music is, it is always tactful in its chaotic expulsion. The whiplash pace of ‘Ultimate Artificer’, one of the more out-and-out thrash numbers, is well received alongside ‘Pillars of Sand’, a more epic sprawling song mercilessly pocked with musical plot-twists and side stories. Extreme their music may be, but thoughtless it is not.
Tonight the band seems in complete sync with each other. As they bombard their instruments they do so smiling, performing with a harmonious pleasure which truly crowns their set. They make the 73 minutes of the album’s lifespan seem much less – though dense with character and awe-inspiring moments – and that is testament to both their song writing and performing abilities.

ALBUM REVIEW: Inter Arma - "Paradise Gallows"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 08/07/2016
Label: Relapse Records

Paradise Gallows” is a monstrous monument to Inter Arma’s colossal ambition that captivates for every second of its mammoth 70 minute duration. Few other bands blur the boundaries between genres as effortlessly while still delivering songs of this quality.

Paradise Gallows” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Nomini
2). An Archer in the Emptiness
3). Transfiguration
4). Primordial Wound
5). The Summer Drones
6). Potomac
7). The Paradise Gallows
8). Violent Constellations
9). Where the Earth Meets the Sky

The Review:

There have been some epic records released so far in 2016 but nothing as mind-bogglingly huge as Inter Arma’sParadise Gallows”. The Virginia quintet’s new LP is a vast voyage on a galactic scale across the spectrum of heavy music.

 Nomini” opens the record in subdued fashion. Soaring lead guitar lines ride above spacious acoustic guitar to create a haunting nocturnal atmosphere reminiscent of Pallbearer’s “Sorrow & Extinction”. The track fades out only to return later in “Potomac”, the album’s centrepiece. Organ and piano join the fray to elevate the song into a grandiose slab of raw classic rock.

Elsewhere on “Paradise Gallows”, Inter Arma take their music to entirely different places. There are abrupt shifts in sound and style from track to track that sometimes make you wonder if you are listening to an entirely different band. Sudden changes like this can be jarring and result in an uneven listening experience, but they only enhance “Paradise Gallows”. Every track on this record feels meticulously crafted and sequenced to be the logical next step in this bizarre journey into the unknown.

The relative calm of “Nomini” is destroyed by the onslaught of “An Archer in the Emptiness” and “Transfiguration”. Both tracks are epic fusions of lumbering sludge riffs, death metal intensity and insane drumming forged in a cauldron of cavernous reverb. Imagine listening to Mastodon’sRemission” in an echo chamber with all elements apart from the drums slowed down to half-speed and you won’t be disappointed. The band hone this progressive approach to perfection for “Violent Constellations”, ramping up the complexity even higher with restless, spidery guitar work.

Primordial Wound” and “The Summer Drones” see the band focus on relentless repetition of minimal one chord riffs. The hypnotic pull of these riffs increases with each iteration, weighty slabs of doom that draw the listener ever deeper into psychedelic oblivion.

Not content with having covered these bases, Inter Arma contribute a couple of contrasting ballads. The massive title track is a rumbling, Neurosis-style dirge split between passages of hushed, dustbowl soundscapes and explosions of crushing, spaced-out doom.  Where the Earth Meets the Sky” is a different proposition, a sparse acoustic close to the record that provides a suitably powerful yet understated conclusion.

Paradise Gallows” is a monstrous monument to Inter Arma’s colossal ambition that captivates for every second of its mammoth 70 minute duration. Few other bands blur the boundaries between genres as effortlessly while still delivering songs of this quality.

Paradise Gallows” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

RIYL: Tombs, Cult of Luna, Neurosis, Rorcal

The Sludgelord EP Premiere: "Alteration" by Khaldera


Born from the embers of endless hours of improvisation; the music of Khaldera is the reflection of what is created on the spur of the moment. Something that is beyond the grasp of rational thought, Khaldera creates a distinct atmosphere with carefully designed guitar lines, visceral drumming and solid fretless bass playing. Mesmerizing and fateful drones with transcendental qualities swell into cathartic destruction just like a peaceful stream swells into a violent, cleansing river.
Situated seomwhere amidst the gentle hills of the Swiss Plateau, Khaldera self-released their debut EP “Relief” in 2013 (mixed and mastered by Aaron Harris and Chris Common respectively) before being signed to Czar Of Revelations and are due to releasetheir follow up EP “Alteration” on 26th August 2016
With the release only a few short days away, today at the The Sludgelord, we are streaming “Alteration” in full and you can check it out below.  So if you’re a fan of instrumental pychedelic ambient rock and dig the sound of Russian Circles, Isis, Cult Of Luna, Ulver, Earth, Tool and Minsk, then this could be the EP for you. 
Alteration” will be released via Czar of Revelations on 26th August and is available here

“Alteration” CD//DD track listing:
1. Impending Tempest
2. The Inevitability Of Transition
3. Afterglow
Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Mizmor - "Yodh"

By: TJ Kliebhan

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 12/08/2016
Label: Gilead Media

A.L.N. demonstrates a penchant for punishing the listener in so many different ways, but also establishes a talent for creating harmony layered within the chaos.

“Yodh” CS//DD//LP track listing:

1). Woe Regains My Substance
2). A Semblance Waning
3). The Serpent Eats Its Tail
4). Inertia, an Ill Compeller
5). Bask in the Lingering

The Review:

A.L.N. follows a long line of Pacific Northwestern musicians leading the charge for American Black Metal. The mysterious multi-instrumentalist from Portland, Oregon lends his talents to multiple projects including Hell and Urzeit who create unique blends of tumultuous black metal and doom metal. “Yodh” is the latest release from A.L.N. under the Mizmor (meaning "psalm" in Hebrew) moniker he uses for his solo-projects. With “Yodh”, A.L.N. makes a strong argument for Mizmor as his best musical project. After a four year gap between full length recordings, the project has returned stronger, focused, and more cathartic than ever.

“Yodh” is broken into five extended pieces that all have their share of A.L.N.’s ferocious growl, mesmerizing doom riffs, and suffocating abrasive climaxes. All five tracks are incredibly ambitious and while the track lengths can appear daunting “Yodh” does not suffer from any periods of self-indulgence or overkill, each sequence being equally as gripping as the last. These tracks feature multiple sequences that are woven in a way similar to seventies prog rock. What differentiates Mizmor from other metal acts in the same vein are the smooth transitions that remove any abruptness from appearing, making this the perfect blend of black and doom metal stylings. This album is downright heavy like a great doom record should be. “The Serpent Eats the Tail” has a brilliant riff that would find itself right at home on an early Black Sabbath record. “Yodh” is also as horribly biting and desolate as a great black metal record, but does so in an incredibly maximalist way. This record is beautifully mastered and sounds as sharp as any metal record in recent memory. This mastering style paired with the black metal traits gives the record a similar feel to Emperor’sIn The Nightside Eclipse”, in that it does not need to rely on aesthetic or tradition to provide that eerie feeling of total misery.

 A.L.N. is a master of sonic and vocal diversity that makes the 60 minutes blow by as fast as the riffs themselves. Rather than employing an utter scorched earth policy of heaviness, these tracks offer a lot a breathing room within this bleak atmosphere. This is certainly a technical release whose monoliths were created to be admired while dwarfing whatever surrounds it. A.L.N. demonstrates a penchant for punishing the listener in so many different ways, but also establishes a talent for creating harmony layered within the chaos. Much like the world in which the record was created, these tracks have a hidden beauty about them that can be lost in the distracting clamor of what is immediately apparent. A.L.N. displays both what is ugly as well as what is harmonious in a frighteningly familiar imbalance. The grim heavily outweighs the allure in a way not totally dissimilar from what so many of us are used to. 

Yodh is available on cassette here digitally here and on vinyl here

Band info: bandcamp

The Sludgelord Video Premiere: "Vessel" by Defy The Ocean


Weary and hungry for change, two friends start making music together to combat the curious disease of modern life. An antacid for a burning gut.  Defy The Ocean is born. Chris Theo and Marcos Economides are its creators.
The first single “Place Your Bets” was released in November 2011, it told a tale of revenge. The second single “The Path” was released a month later.  In September 2012 the debut EP “Myopic” was released to critical acclaim.
Since 2013 Marcos and Chris have been working on the follow-up, working to fuse their writing styles more completely. The goal was to create a group of songs, not only thematically linked as was the case with “Myopic”, but to also go deeper, to explore and ultimately capture the isolation, frustration and promise of life and dreams within the swirling technicolour of modern city life, which all too often swallows us whole.
In 2016 Defy The Ocean are back with “Elderflower”, an E.P. of immense scope, traversing alternative, rock, metal and progressive waters to deliver a gripping, sonic odyssey that enthrals from start to finish. Featuring over thirty minutes of finely crafted material that consistently subverts expectations to reveal something fresh, exciting and urgent around every corner; this is a release that must be experienced.
From its haunting, guitar-driven soundscapes and luscious vocal arrangements, to its sumptuous grooves and atmospheric synths, “Elderflower” will pull you into its world and hold you submerged until its final note rings out.  In anticipation of the “Elderflower”s release on 2nd September, today we present the exclusive video for the track “Vessel” which you can check out below and it is available here
Here’s what Defy The Ocean had this to say about it “An acoustic-guitar-driven track on steroids - that's how we describe it. The fact that the bridge features a hundred and twenty year-old instrument called a Chitravina, played furiously by guest musician Vishwanath Sankaran, over a flamenco-style rhythm in 13/8, is just a bonus. Lyrically, it tells a story of gothic proportions, of how the influence of vapid promises (wealth, fame, celebrity etc) can corrupt those close to us. We are ripe for the picking, vampiric forces reaching into our homes and hearts through screens, to rob us of reality and feed us hollow dreams.”

“Elderflower” CD//DD track listing:
1). Rest
2). Veil
3). Elderflower
4). Brine
5). Vessel
6). Poisoned
7). Bones
Band info: facebook

Monday, 22 August 2016

INTERVIEW: In Conversation with Steve Moss (The Midnight Ghost Train) @ DB's, Utrecht, NL 16/8/2016

By: Victor Van Ommen

The Midnight Ghost Train were on a roll. In 2014 they released the critically acclaimed stomp-rocker, “Cold Was The Ground,” and toured it hard. Real hard. But then Steve Moss - the singer/guitarist of the band - blew up the ligaments in his hand. The Midnight Ghost Train derailed, forcing the band into hibernation. But they never really rested. According to their social media, Steve did everything in his power to keep us up to snuff on his recovery, and kept the band in our thoughts by doing so.   So they never really disappeared. Now they’re “better than ever,” to quote Moss.
We sat down with Steve in Utrecht last week to shoot him a couple of questions regarding his hand as well as the future of the band (yeah, the new album). He was completely open with us by going deep into the details of his hand’s rehabilitation. This brought us into talking about playing style and what we can expect on the band’s new album. Here’s a spoiler – it’s not going to be what we expect.   

Band info: facebook