Friday, 24 June 2016

Paradise Lost - "Shades of God" Reissue (Album Review)

By: Richard Maw

 
Album Type: Full Length (Reissue)
Date Released: 22/07/2016
Label: Music For Nations

 

 
The reissue sounds great- crisp and clean, unlike a lot of modern day murk that infests the doom genre and there can be no doubt that “Shades of God” was an important record for the band- perhaps occupying a space kind of like “...Justice” did for Metallica, but unlike that band, Paradise Lost were able to reach higher and achieve more musically on subsequent releases. Having said that, the record is a must-listen for any fan of Paradise Lost and essential listening for anyone with an interest in the doom genre.
 
“Shades of God” Reissue track listing:
 
1. Mortals Watch The Day
2. Crying for Eternity
3. Embraced
4. Daylight Torn
5. Pity The Sadness
6. No Forgivenes
7. Your Hand in Mine
8. The Word Made Flesh
9. As I Die
 
The Review:
 
Paradise Lost, as noted in my previous writing about the band, are an unusual outfit in that their career trajectory did not go as predicted in terms of approach, style and perhaps commercial success. “Shades of God” finds the band maintaining their early doom/death sound, their mid 90's Metallica-by-way-of-Type-O-Negative commercial peak was still a way off. After the genre classics of “Lost Paradise” and “Gothic”, “Shades of God” is something of a left turn- rather than a step forwards (or backwards, depending on your viewpoint!) like “Icon”.
 
Song lengths here come in at over seven minutes on several occasions, while the textures are more subtle this time around. The reissue sounds great- crisp and clean, unlike a lot of modern day murk that infests the doom genre. To be sure, PL's was and is a unique take on doom- they sound nothing like Pentagram/Saint Vitus. Instead, they come across kind of like Bolt Thrower mixed with Sabbath.
 
There are echoes of Metallica (early) and classy thrash in “Mortals Watch the Day”, while out and out rock style gate crashes “Embraced”. Each band member does a fine job, with the guitar work being a particular highlight. The sound allows every instrument to be heard, too. There are progressive tendencies here and I would assert that although I have heard this record many times, there is always something new to pick up on.
 
 
So far, so good, then... However, this is not the best Paradise Lost album. Not even close, in my view. Don't misunderstand me- it is still a fine, fine record but it lacks one thing: song writing. It just doesn't, for me, have the bite of the first two albums or of what followed (not all of what followed, mind!). The songs are labyrinthine in places and there is always a lot going on. Truly, aside from the opener and a couple of other songs, there are not a lot of memorable tracks here. That said, what there IS more than makes up for what there is NOT. The performances are fantastic, solid production and mixing, experimental structures and instrumentation and the album is clearly the sound of a band starting to spread their wings.
 
“Daylight Torn”, for instance, has a lovely acoustic section. After that, the band utilise a trick that surfaces on subsequent albums by juxtaposing the fast and chugging start of “Pity The Sadness” (slamming track!). The nine tracks that the album contains are all of a uniformly high quality and the style and delivery is consistent and creates a mood of darkness and bitterness very well, with “No Forgiveness” being a fine example of this. The more direct approach favoured by “As I Die” was a portent of things to come, but none listening at the time could have predicted what PL would go on to be.
 
The downbeat vibe is successfully carried through the whole album and the longer songs do invoke the feel of a funeral march at times- doom indeed! There can be no doubt that “Shades of God” was an important record for the band- perhaps occupying a space kind of like “...Justice” did for Metallica, but unlike that band, Paradise Lost were able to reach higher and achieve more musically on subsequent releases. The record is a must-listen for any fan of Paradise Lost and essential listening for anyone with an interest in the doom genre.
 
Shades of God” is available here
 
Band info: facebook

Drudkh + Hades Almighty - ‘One Who Talks with the Fog/Pyre Era, Black!’ Split (Review)

By: Heather Blewett

 
Album Type: Split LP
Date Released: 03/06/2016
Label: Season of Mist



One of the most paramount bands in the black metal genre, Drudkh have crafted a sound that strikes the ideal balance between brutality and atmosphere that is consistently delivered record after record. Their contribution to this split is sublime, “Golden Horse” commences fast and forceful and immediately recognizable for the incomparable majestic sound that Drudkh are so highly praised for.  Hades Almighty have returned strong on this split, the inclusion of choral and chanted vocals alongside stompy riffs and sinister growls makes for a memorable listen. Each track is immersed with variety; the concoction of musical elements is riveting and well structured.

 

‘One Who Talks with the Fog/Pyre Era, Black!’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

 
1. DRUDKH – Golden Horse
2. DRUDKH – Fiery Serpent
3. HADES ALMIGHTY – Pyre Era, Black!
4. HADES ALMIGHTY – Funeral Storm
5. HADES ALMIGHTY – Bound

The Review:

There isn’t a Drudkh release that should ever go unheard, and their latest opus alongside Hades Almighty is certainly no exception. One of the most paramount bands in the black metal genre, Drudkh have crafted a sound that strikes the ideal balance between brutality and atmosphere that is consistently delivered record after record.

 
Their contribution to this split is sublime, “Golden Horse” commences fast and forceful and immediately recognizable for the incomparable majestic sound that Drudkh are so highly praised for.  The riffs are emotive and soaring, juxtaposed with the vocal snarl and clattering of blast beats; it’s bold and brash yet imbued with melody and atmosphere. Following on with “Fiery Serpent”, a gloomier more melancholic tone is present, featuring a more expansive sound that once again exudes emotion and atmosphere.

With a tough act to follow Hades Almighty bring out the big guns (well riffs) for their input, solidly delivering with an almost modern day Alcest style riff introduction on “Pyre Era, Black!” before the heavily distorted guitars and crashing of cymbals disturbs the tranquillity. Forming in 1992 from Bergen, Norway, and with an arson charge for guitarist Jørn Inge Tunsberg’s for the burning of Åsane church along with Varg Vikernes, Hades Almighty don’t veer far from the stereotype. Nevertheless, their black/Viking metal offerings are very much welcomed after a 15-year hiatus.
Hades Almighty have returned strong on this split, the inclusion of choral and chanted vocals alongside stompy riffs and sinister growls makes for a memorable listen. Each track is immersed with variety; the concoction of musical elements is riveting and well structured.

 
If this is a glimpse into future releases from Hades Almighty, then good things are certainly to come. I look forward to a full-length follow up.

 
“One Who Talks with the Fog/Pyre Era, Black” is available here

 

Katatonia - "The Fall of Hearts" (Album Review)

By: Phil Weller    

 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/05/2016
Label: Peaceville Records

 
 
These songs are harmonised and bolstered by each member, with each instrument vital without ever dominating and as such, this feels like one of Katatonia’s most well rounded releases to date.  Ten albums in and they sound fresh, replenished and polished, throughout the album as a whole, are some perfectly placed and executed riffs. You feel a lot of the time they are holding back, never fully going for the jugular, and that caged beast approach makes these songs utterly compelling.
 
“The Fall of Hearts” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1). Takeover
2). Serein
3). Old Heart Falls
4). Decima
5). Sanction
6). Residual
7). Serac
8). Last Song Before The Fade
9). Shifts
10). The Night Subscriber
11). Pale Flag
12). Passer
 
The Review:
 
As I write this, I write on the dawn of a changed Britain. Amid the dramatic shifting of both the British and the European political landscape, there is, despite a majority vote for Britain to leave the EU, a gloomy sense of dread residing over this little island, a sense of not knowing where our future lies and how it will all pan out. Rain patters against my windows pane and Katatonia’s tenth studio album, ‘The Fall Of Hearts’ provides a fittingly greyscale soundtrack this morning.
 
Yet, beneath their frowns and sighs is a sense of hoping, a light piercing through the dark. From the raw emotion of the uplifting guitar leads in ‘Serac’ to the delicate doting of ‘Decima’, decorated by genteel acoustic and soothing strings, here is a record endorsed by the Swedish band’s worldly experience and musicianship. Ten albums in and they sound fresh, replenished and polished.     
 
The record starts to unfold instantly, Jonas Renkse, who also takes on co-production duties, purring atop cascading clean guitars. Sprinkled throughout the track, and indeed the album as a whole, are some perfectly placed and executed riffs. You feel a lot of the time they are holding back, never fully going for the jugular, and that caged beast approach makes these songs utterly compelling. These songs are harmonised and bolstered by each member, with each instrument vital without ever dominating and as such, this feels like one of Katatonia’s most well rounded releases to date. The light and shade of ‘Takeover’, which boats some excellent guitar work betwixt serene acoustics and dark, ominous piano introduces the album perfectly.
 
Preceeded by the aforementioned ‘Decima’, ‘Sanction’, hinging on a monster riff, benefits from the calm before the storm and stands as one of the record’s standout moments. ‘Passer’, for those wanting a little more meat and potato offers just that – more savagery in the form of relentless blast beats and gruff guitar work amongst the breezing vocals.
 
Yet, as much as there are stand out moments pocketed throughout the record, the greatest success is just how well it flows from start to finish: It sucks you in and before you know it all 12 tracks have passed by. This is achieved through their signature overcast atmosphere, that blackened mood that, contrary to first impressions, isn’t wholly surrendering. There is hope and an inner strength lurking within and on a day like today it is both cathartic and empowering. An excellent record.
 
The Fall of Hearts” is available here
 
Band info: facebook

The Sludgelord Presents: Slomatics - "Future Echo Returns" Artwork Reveal, Video Premiere and "Electric Breath" Stream

By: Aaron Pickford




Few bands in my tenure at The Sludgelord have captured by my attention more that today’s featured band, Slomatics.  Having reviewed their eighth release “A Hocht” way back in 2012, their gargantuan riffs coupled with wistful psychedelia truly captivated me.  You may be thinking, “captivated you, that’s a bit strong innit”, however I wholeheartedly stand by those words, because Slomatics have become one of my favourite bands and really, if you don’t know this band, you’ve caught the wrong train my friend.

Following the release “A Hocht” in 2012 and with each subsequent release the band have grown stronger as a unit and with their latest release “Future Echo Returns”, they have created their most intelligent and monolithic record to date, indeed when an album renders you incapable of putting into words how you feel about it, you know you have encountered something incredibly special indeed and to me, “Future Echo Returns’ is exactly that. 


With the release of the record scheduled for September, it would be foolish to keep you waiting that long without tantalising you with more info.  So, today, I am delighted to present a Slomatics triple header, with exclusive Gatefold artwork reveal, “Future Echo Returns” video premiere and their track “Electric Breath” in full and you can check it out below.  


"Future Echo Returns" Gatefold art, by Tony Roberts


Here’s what the band had to say about the video


“We've collaborated with Dermot Falloon before, so when he approached us about doing something for the new record we jumped at the chance. Dermot shares an interest in our thematic approach, and he really let the dark recesses of his imagination run wild this time. His work doesn't so much fill in the blanks with our music, as much as drive it to it’s illogical, twisted, dystopian conclusion”



Now if we’ve still got your attention, here’s track 2 from the album “Electric Breath” in full



Future Echo Returns” will be released on 2nd September via Black Bow Records and can be pre-ordered here


“Future Echo Returns” track listing:

1). Estronomicon
2). Electric Breath
3). In The Grip of Fausto
4). Ritual Beginnings
5). Rat Chariot
6). Super Nothing

7). Into The Eternal 

Band info: facebook

It's Not Night: It's Space - "Our Birth Is But A Sleep And A Forgetting" (Album Review) + (Full Album Stream)

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/06/2016
Label: Small Stone Records


No vocals, just a lot of stoned, smoky repetition that is equally spiritual as it is absolutely mind blowing.

“Our Birth is But A Sleeping and A Forgetting” CD//DD//LP tack listing:

1). Nada Brahma
2). The Beard of Macroprosopus
3). Across The Luster of the Desert into the Polychrome Hills
4). Starry Wisdom
5). Pillars in the Void
6). The Black Iron Prison and the Palm Tree Garden

The Review:

New York three piece It’s Not Night: It’s Space are set to release their new album, “Our Birth is But A Sleep and A Forgetting” on June 24th. We here at The Sludgelord have been offered to host a stream of this album, which if you dig in and press play, you’ll understand that we couldn’t turn this offer down. So roll up and get comfy, we’re going for a ride.

The mélange of audio samples that greet the listener are of speeches that range in theme from politics, drugs, and philosophy. Slow, sparse strums on a steel string acoustic guitar weave in and out of a deep electric drone, and as the song builds, it also fades into the next chapter of “Our Birth is But A Sleep and A Forgetting.” You better buckle up, because this album needs to be taken in with one deep drag, because there’s little time between the cuts to catch your breath.

The jam starts with a zany guitar riff in “The Beard of Macroprosopus” that twists blindly through a mass of background drone and a hard hitting rhythm that, though slow, lacks nothing in heft. It’s abundantly clear that It’s Not Night: It’s Space have taken flight. No vocals, just a lot of stoned, smoky repetition that is equally spiritual as it is absolutely mind blowing.

The story goes that the band wrote these songs “in moldy warehouses, grimy basements, and dusty backrooms of pizza shops,” and I must admit, you hear those settings in these seven songs. For example, the dark, effect laden riffs in “Across The Luster of the Desert into the Polychrome Hills” conjure up hallucinations of dark, dank atmospheres that are as comfortable as they are frightening. The steady groove in “Starry Wisdom” is the sound of a band finding sweet release in making an absolute raucous in a basement tucked far away from society. After all, this might be the only place in the city where a band can make this much noise without having the fuzz being called on them.

Made up of guitarist Kevin Halcott, drummer Michael Lutomski and bassist Tommy Guerroro, these boys from the East Coast have gone and done something that many stoner rock bands can only dream of; It’s Not Night: It’s Space present themselves as an entity. These three guys have locked in and met each other on a musical plane far removed from the mindless riffing that’s flooding our little niche. The guys in It’s Not Night: It’s Space communicate with each other through their jams. Though the cuts on this album may be songs that the band wrote before hitting the studio, it’s audible in the recording that the band caught a moment instead of a performance. If you’re into that kind of thing, you’ll definitely be into “Our Birth is But A Sleep and A Forgetting.” Enjoy!

Our Birth Is But A Sleep And A Forgetting.” Is available here and you can stream it in full below



Band info: facebook

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Sludgelord Video Premiere - "The Smoke of Many Fires" Be'lakor

Intense, passionate and deeply moving melodic death metal from Down Under



At The Sludgelord we pride ourselves at introducing you to the very best music from the heavy metal underground.  So with superb album premieres from Battle Path and Hollow Leg earlier this week, today  melodic death metal is on the menu, in the form of Aussie’s finest purveyors of darkness, Be’lakor.   

With the band set to release their brand new album “Vessels” this Friday 24th June, an album described as “eight songs that with satiate your hunger for progressive structures and technical prowess,” today at The Sludgelord we present their brand new lyric video for “The Smoke of Many Fires” which you can enjoy below. So if intense, passionate and deeply disquieting melodic death metal is your thing, hit play and snap your neck to this 9 minute masterclass.




Be’laktor had to say about “Vessels”and is available here

"Vessels is the product of well over a year's hard work - without doubt, it's the album that has challenged us the most. It's much richer and more textured than any of our other albums. There are parts which sound like the Be'lakor that fans know, while other sections might surprise some people. Our goal was to keep the music exciting and varied, for us as much as for anyone else. Vessels is also our first concept album, which has meant that lyrically we've really pushed ourselves this time around. We hope our fans will enjoy it as much as we do!"




“Vessels” CD//track listing:

1. Luma
2. An Ember´s Arc
3. Withering Strands
4. Roots to Sever
5. Whelm
6. A Thread Dissolves
7. Grasping Light
8. The Smoke Of Many Fires


Band info: facebook

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Comet Control - "Center of the Maze" (Album Review)

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/06/2016
Label: Teepee Records


Using the word understated might be the best way to sum up “Center of the Maze.” It’s this characteristic that makes Comet Control so inviting. Whether it’s the warm distortion used, the acoustic guitars deep in the mix, or how the light vocal delivery lays comfortably on a soft bed of blissful psych, there’s enough to get lost in. Comet Control struts a laissez-faire attitude with layered simplicity, which absolutely works in the band’s favor.

“Center of the Maze” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1.) Dig Out Your Head
2.) Darkness Moves
3.) Silver Spade
4.) The Hive
5.) Criminal Mystic
6.) Golden Rule
7.) Sick in Space
8.) Artificial Light

The Review:

Comet Control makes their intent clear pretty early on their sophomore album “Center of the Maze.” Coming at you with a heady sitar-like twang on the main riff, album opener “Dig Out Your Head” makes for a solid send off into space. The second cut sends the listener even further into the deep unknown, tumbling along with an urgent space rock drum roll accented by expansive shoegaze riffing. Comet Control hangs this spacey backdrop throughout these eight songs, providing a lush wash of headphone-ready psychonauts as a result.

Using the word understated might be the best way to sum up “Center of the Maze.” It’s this characteristic that makes Comet Control so inviting. Whether it’s the warm distortion used, the acoustic guitars deep in the mix, or how the light vocal delivery lays comfortably on a soft bed of blissful psych, there’s enough to get lost in. Comet Control struts a laissez-faire attitude with layered simplicity, which absolutely works in the band’s favor. Their tunes are laid back and far out. It’s how Comet Control combines these two qualities in their songs that make their songs worth checking out.

The potential downside to “Center of the Maze” is that the album sounds as though Comet Control hasn’t brought everything they have to the table. What “Center of the Maze” offers is an album that’s not as far removed from the band’s 2014 debut as it could have been. That Comet Control’s two albums are sonically pretty close doesn’t detract from the level of quality delivered with “Center of the Maze,” it’s just that the short creative step between the two albums leaves this new one feeling like there's more to be desired.

Center of the Maze” is available here



Band info: facebook