Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Sludgelord Exclusive Video Premiere: "Valley of Thorns" by Earthship

By:  Aaron Pickford


Formed in 2010, Jan Oberg and his band of bludgeoning troubadours are back.  Following their acclaimed third record, “Withered”, which  we described as “Loud, heavy, aggressive, and full of huge riffs”, 2016 will see Earthship chartering new territory  with the release of their new record “Hallowed” on Napalm Records.  Striking the right balance between the stronger dynamics of bands like Kylesa and Crowbar, with the melodies Alice In Chains, Earthship’s new album remains one of monolithic proportions.

Today, we are excited to present the first taste of the new album, with the UK premiere of their new video, “Valley of Thorns”.  The band had this to say about the track “It is one of our faster, a bit more progressive and cheerful tracks of the album but quite the opposite are the lyrics, mainly dealing with emptiness and despair. A sad and lonesome trip into oblivion but in a very colorful and metaphorical way. It shows you up somehow that we’re all running our private race against time before it’s all over and gone. Life is short, let’s get some shots!”

“Hollowed” is set to be released on June 24th via Napalm Records. Pre-Orders will be available shortly!  Check out this awesome track below.  





“Hollowed” CD//LP track listing:

1). Reduced to Ashes
2). Hollowed
3). Valley of Thorns
4). Conjured
5). Monolith
6). In Fire's Light
7). In the Arms of Medusa
8). Castle of Sorrow
9). Safeguard of Death
10). Red Leaves
11). The Edge of Time
12). Blood Candy (Bonus Track)
13). The Edge of Time - Acoustic (Bonus Track)


Band info: official || facebook

Opeth - "Book of Opeth" (Book Review)

By: Richard Maw


The Review

Having only read a PDF promo version of this lavish and extensive book, one thing comes to light; it will indeed be a splendid hard cover book if you have the cash to spend. The cover looks great and there are fantastic photos throughout which accompany the band's biography; for that is what the book is. The book covers the band from the start up to the present day, via line up changes, internal and external strife and Mikael Akerfeldt's singular vision.

It would be accurate to describe Akerfeldt as the band's guiding light and driving force. He even states himself that for some records he essentially directed other band members and bore the full weight of responsibility himself. What shines through even more than Akerfeldt's sense of purpose and responsibility is just how different Opeth have always been. They were not really a part of a scene and the first few albums place the band in the bracket of enthusiastic amateurs stumbling across a niche which marked them as unique.

Certainly, the difference between “Orchid” and “Blackwater Park” is crystal clear- as is the change again on “Heritage”. That said, Opeth have their own style, approach and vibe. You could compare them, perhaps, to Iron Maiden; a band that has become more progressive over time and changed massively from first album to most recent, while oddly maintaining their own identity.



Indeed, the most interesting things about the book, aside from the photos and general story, are the contributions from band members about what was being listened to at the time and how it informed each record. Progressive luminary Steven Wilson is on hand to explain that although the genre of metal no longer interested him, Opeth were something different and actually were operating at a nuanced level far beyond their contemporaries- piquing his interest enough to get fully involved with the band.

Over the course of 200 plus pages, you get a real sense of the band and a real sense of Akerfeldt's dedication to the cause. The man is a musician- not a guitarist, singer, songwriter or a “producer” (eeeeurghhhh!)- before all else. Music emanates from him. He lives and breathes it. His interest and knowledge of many genres, bands and obscurities therein inform Opeth's sound and style. They inform his approach. It is interesting that by the time of “Heritage”, he had simply lost interest in playing or recording metal for that particular record. The rest of the band agreed to go along for the ride and there you have it; the man follows his muse. There are those in metal that don't like the “new” Opeth; anything after “Watershed”, for example, or even anything after “My Arms Your Hearse”. They are missing out and they may well like death metal, or even like an Opeth album or two, but they don't “get” what Opeth are about. The style the band plays in is the medium used to convey the music and feelings that the band wishes to express. The style is NOT the message and band itself.

Simply put, if you are a fan, “The Book Of Opeth” will galvanise all your feelings about the band. Opeth are, for me, a band in a category of one. Real musicians, playing real music that is truly progressive: it started as one thing and progressed to another via taking in outside influences and making use of them in their own way. They are truly one of the best bands of my time and should be embraced as such. As Akerfeldt himself says, the only things that would stop him making music are serious injury, serious illness or death. Opeth may not make death metal records any more, but their attitude and approach is as heavy as it gets. True musicians making music for true music fans. An excellent and insightful tome, luxuriously packaged. The approach of the band is explained here, along with their history- and yes, it has made me revisit every record in their back catalogue. Superb and recommended.

The Book of Opeth” is available here

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Sludgelord Song Premiere: "Hand on the Stone" by Astrakhan

By: Aaron Pickford


Following the release of their debut EP “A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin” in 2014, Vancouver’s Astrakhan are back with their stunning debut album “Reward in Purpose”.  With a street date set for 10/06/2016, Astrakhan has also teamed up with the awesome Sunmask label to release this record on vinyl.  Recorded by Jesse Gander and Mastered by Stu McKillop at Rain City Recorders, “Reward in Purpose” stands as a singular piece of music and is meant to be taken as it is; the whole is indeed bigger than the sum of its parts.

Channelling some classic heavy metal vibes, throwing in some punk, having fun with different timings, dabbling in stoner, and the execution of the two vocalists add that little something extra. So, before your curiosity get the better of you, check out this massive new tune “Hand on the Stone” and all the info about the release can be found below.  you can preorder the record here, now get stoned.  




“Reward in Purpose” CD//DD//LP track listing

1 .Omajod
2. Turgid Waters
3. Of Sage and Other Herbs
4. The Traveler
5. Hatchet
6. Rabbits
7. Microcosmic Design
8. Forgetfulness
9. Hand on the Stone

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Monday, 2 May 2016

Sumac - "What One Becomes" (Album Review)

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 10/06/2016
Label: Thrill Jockey


The fact is, this is a monolithic, multi-faceted, beast of an album.  Rigid Man” sees Sumac in familiar territory, relentless riffs raining down on the listener like an armour plated Shellac playing Isis’ “Celestial”.  The band weave seamlessly between periods of crushing heaviness, fragile calm, hypnotic repetition and mind-bending mathematical chaos and overall “What One Becomes” sees Sumac taking all of their previous achievements as a foundation and building something even bigger in their own unique vision. This album sees Sumac really find their voice and deserves to see them mentioned in the same breath as their forbears.



“What One Becomes” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Image of Control
2). Rigid Man
3). Clutch of Oblivion
4). Blackout
5). Will to Reach

The Review:

Just over a year has passed since the release of Sumac’s stellar debut “The Deal” and the trio are back already with an embarrassment of riches in the form of “What One Becomes”.

Given the short gestation period of their new LP you would be forgiven for expecting a raw, back-to-basics record. The fact that it is a monolithic, multi-faceted, beast of an album that sounds like the product of years of craft is all the more impressive. It’s hard to talk about the band without discussing the members’ incredible track records - their times spent in the hugely influential likes of Isis, Old Man Gloom, Botch, These Arms Are Snakes and Baptists all make a mark here.

Image Of Control” opens the album in difficult fashion, everyone flailing furiously at their instruments to create a simmering cauldron of free noise. Even once they settle into a more recognisable structure it isn’t an easy ride. This is much more jagged and awkward then anything on “The Deal” yet still recognisable as Sumac and completely compelling. There is more evident organic complexity to the music here too, probably the product of this album being the first created by all three members in collaboration.

Rigid Man” sees Sumac in more familiar territory, relentless riffs raining down on the listener like an armour plated Shellac playing Isis’Celestial”. The moment when Aaron Tuner’s wrings searing notes from his guitar as Brian Cook and Nick Yacyshyn lock into a tectonic plate-shifting groove is truly transcendent. All three members are at the top of their game throughout, with Yacyshyn’s furiously inventive drumming raising everything into a higher dimension, particularly at the frantic climax of “Will To Reach”.

The full scope of Sumac’s expanded sonic palette is best demonstrated during the 17 minute behemoth “Blackout”. The track covers a huge amount of stylistic and dynamic ground during its mammoth duration, crafting a jaw-dropping progressive voyage into the beyond. The band weave seamlessly between periods of crushing heaviness, fragile calm, hypnotic repetition and mind-bending mathematical chaos.

While “The Deal” was a fine debut, it felt a little like a re-tread of former glories, albeit in glorious style. “What One Becomes” sees Sumac taking all of their previous achievements as a foundation and building something even bigger in their own unique vision. This album sees Sumac really find their voice and deserves to see them mentioned in the same breath as their forbears. At this rate I look forward to a paradigm-shifting triple LP sometime in 2017.

“What One Becomes” is available here



Band info: Facebook | Twitter

Vinyl Corner: Sinister Haze - "Laid Low in the Dust of Death" (Album Review) & Exclusive Full Album Stream

By: Hunter Young

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 07/05/2016
Label: STB Records



“Laid Low in the Dust of Death” is a monster of flaming slag dripping from the fingers of one of the best bands going, they lay you low with riffs upon riffs, Brilliant vocal setups, and production that will just destroy you. Sinister Haze has nothing to be compared to, keeping it fresh and heavy no matter what they are doing, and this album should rank in the top 5 of any list out there.



“Laid Low in the Dust of Death” DD//LP track listing:

1). Same No Good
2). Chains to Rust
3). Shot Through Darkness
4). Lead On
5). Tears of Lilith
6). A Buried Dream

The Review:

Holy journey of a thousand hot riffs Batman! Like sticking a fork in a live electrical socket, Sinister Haze's newest offering, “Laid Low in the Dust of Death”, slams into you with no apologies.

Melting through speakers and other apparatus, Sinister Haze play a molten form of Doom N Roll or Fuzz N Roll; alternating between some of the most massive doom riffs, played at a speed other than dead, and some of the most singing leads outside the 60s and 70s. It's Hi Gain Heaven! They also have the best usage of wonderful effects, wah pedal, overdrive for days, fuzz (duh), and so many delicious other options layered over the most legitimate of talent to tickle your ear. And they bring the blackened swagger along with it, knowing full well you can't turn away.

The album kicks it all off with the barn burner, “Same No Good”. I have to say, if that opening riff doesn't get your body moving in some way, or make you react at all, what are you even doing here? Loud, reverberating vocals come at you after the guitar does its best to light your soul aflame. Flipping magic. The album is full of amazing spotlights that will hit many different genre strings in the listener. “Chains of Dust” is an absolute mire of doom riffs, crushing you as they sink their vocal hooks into you. The meandering lead at the halfway mark slay, pure and simple. 

Then you have the midsection, starting with “Shot Through Darkness”, a dark musical journey, seething with tension and rolls through the speakers with a pissed off doom vibe; it's a major highlight of the album, but not a song to show someone who isn't a fan of the darker styled fuzz forms. The lead is searing on this track, and get very spaced out on the end. “Lead On”, slaps you again with that doom hand, but a bit of a quicker pace. Like a jog compared to the menacing amble of “Shot through Darkness”, you'll be thrown through the 4+ run time, and this is definitely a song I would shown people who haven't heard this style before. Easy access and a solid song. 




And finally, last third of the album kicks off with the massive track “Tears of Lilith”. It's a slog at just over 7 minutes, but it seamlessly weaves their slower style with that electric voodoo they manage to tune into on their wah pedal. It rock while it rolls, and then pops you a couple in the face. Just stellar for the third longest track on the album, holding your attention perfectly. Now, for the longest song, with a12 minute run, the last track is fairly different from what they've given previously. The vocals are still doubled, but their timing nowhere near synced, giving a weird atonal disharmony to the vocal side and making it a weird as hell experience until one starts to work in the more aggressive yelling . It becomes a pretty cool effect once you hear it a couple times, and makes you want to see where they are going with it. Musically, it's a very dreary, grey backing track that follows the vocals, creating an almost funeral atmosphere, for the first chunk of the track, changing at about the half point. They start adding some molten slag, guitar screaming above some superb drumming. Not overly flashy, it stays in the wheelhouse of just great playing, letting you enjoy 6 minutes of fresh, potent refreshment pumping out of the speakers. This is also where you would pull out the lighters we all know you have.

“Laid Low in the Dust of Death” is a monster of flaming slag dripping from the fingers of one of the best bands going, they lay you low with riffs upon riffs, Brilliant vocal setups, and production that will just destroy you. Sinister Haze has nothing to be compared to, keeping it fresh and heavy no matter what they are doing, and this album should rank in the top 5 of any list out there. It's going to spin itself into a maelstrom of destruction once you hit play, and you won't withstand it's buffeting for long. 



“Laid Low in the Dust of Death” will be available on vinyl via STB Records here from 7/05/2016 and you can check out the amazing full stream below.  



Band info: bandcamp || Facebook



Sinister Haze Vinyl Info

Sinister Haze - "Laid Low In The Dust Of Death"

  • 75 - Die Hard Edition - Half Green Half Black 180g
  • 100 - OBI Edition - Clear with Green and Black Splatter 180g
  • 130 - Standard Edition - Green and Black Swirl 180g
  • 200 - World Wide Distro Edition - Green 180g





Friday, 29 April 2016

Live Review: NOIZ All Dayer, Rebellion Bar, Manchester, 2/4/2016

By: Dominic Walsh


Boasting one of the best heavy metal bills in Manchester in a long time, NOIZ promotions’ NOIZ All Dayer in Manchester seemed almost untrue with the amount of talent on show.

Drone duo, Khost, opened up the day with a massively heavy amount of tone and drone for the small crowd. It was only 12.30 when they took the stage so people were still filing in through the doors, although there were a couple of people who had made the effort to see Khost based on their attire.

From here on in, the bill changed shape with bands moving up and down the bill continually. Presumably this was due to people arriving/being delayed etc.

One band that did take the stage at their scheduled time was PIST. Now, for those who haven’t heard PIST, the clue is in the name. 1pm was a remarkably early time for the Bury quartet to hit the stage, however their groove laden angsty southern sludge did more than wake the gathered masses, and blow any Friday night cobwebs away.

As the afternoon progressed, Fvnerals and Dystopian Future Movies (both late additions to the bill due to cancelled gigs in the area) serenaded the crowd with dark post rock and doom laden riffs that slowed the pace somewhat during the afternoon. The slower pace did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd. Both bands have been touring together; if you’re a fan of Neurosis, Bossk, Long Distance Calling (or bands to that effect), give them a whirl.

Either side of Fvnerals and DFM, there were arguably some of the star turns of the day. Another local band who are making plenty of waves in the metal world, Boss Keloid, were in celebratory mood with a storming set which showed how much the band have evolved. They are much tighter as a band, and the material from their new LP ‘Herb Your Enthusiasm,’ sounded incredibly strong. To bring the pace down again slightly, were Witchsorrow. Although they’re a doom band, their latest LP, ‘No Light, Only Fire,’ has plenty of more up tempo selections. A mix of these tracks and cuts from “God Curse Us” helped them deliver a great set.
Towards the top of the bill was heavy rock trio The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, who did not disappoint. Complete no frills rock and roll just the way it should be. Steak ably assisted with their fuzzy stoner rock keeping the pace up as the crowd got steadily more lubricated.

One of the absolute star turns of the day however, took place early in the afternoon. London’s Vodun turned many heads in Rebellion. The trio, who have just released their debut LP “Possession”, took to the stage in their ‘tribal’ attire and delivered a scintillating performance. Chantal Brown’s vocals can easily draw comparisons with Skunk Anansie’s Skin, and the riffs swerve from thrash, to stoner, to doom. Over the course of their short set, Vodun proved why they are getting many great reviews of “Possession”. Another afternoon success came in the form of their tour mates, Limb. Showcasing some prime cuts from 2015’s “Terminal”, the band delivered a stomping set against a hazy white light back drop; foggy and fuzzy on many levels! “Down By The Banks” is a monster of a track; Limb deserve to be edging themselves up bills. They have the songs and presence to be huge.

The day ended with Israeli sludge mob Dukatalon playing host to a fully liquored audience. Their stomping set ended with a huge stage invasion capping off an excellent day of heavy metal. The amount of bands on the bill only scratches the surface of the amount of great bands out there. NOIZ are behind many of Manchester’s all day metal events – if you are even the slightest it curious, go along and check out some of the bands; it’s almost a dead cert you’ll find something you enjoy.


You can check them out here: https://www.facebook.com/noizpromo/

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas - "Mariner" (Album Review)

By: TJ Kliebhan

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 08/04/2016
Label: Indie Recordings



While both artist’s individual talents are showcased this effort never feels like the two artists were unfamiliar with each other. Rather, this album can trick you into thinking this is one artist rather than two. There is an utter lack of competing sounds, styles, or egos. The spotlight is entirely shared and makes “Mariner” a highlight of a how a seamless collaboration record can sound.

“Mariner” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). A Greater Call
2). Chevron
3). The Wreck of S.S. Needle
4). Approaching Transition
5), Cygnus

The Review:

April has been a good month for metal collaborations. After getting an excellent release from The Body& Full of Hell, the 08/4/2016  saw the release of “Mariner”-a joint project from post-metal pioneers Cult of Luna and vocalist extraordinaire Julie Christmas. “Mariner” features 55 minutes of material over 5 post-rock and sludge rock tracks which largely explores a theme of space exploration. Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas had been attempting to collaborate for over a year before it finally managed to happen, but the wait was worth it. “Mariner” is a refreshing stop in the Cult of Luna discography. Christmas offers a different hue in the band that has not existed in their heavy extended pieces before. For Julie Christmas, her voice in conjunction with Johannes Persson’s growl creates even more dissonance than a project featuring just her own. By sharing the microphone, Christmas’ wide range and high pitched voice is even more distinguishing due to Persson offering a baritone platform for her to project from.

The vocal prowess from Persson and Christmas is what keeps this record great on further listens. While Persson remains ferocious throughout these long songs Julie Christmas shows off her varying vocal chops. There are parts on this record where Christmas sounds quite melodic and pleasant. The opening track, “A Greater Call” features Christmas putting on her best Lauren Mayberry impression while Cult of Luna’s plodding post-rock atmosphere give her vocals enormous space to fill. Julie Christmas’ unique croon is incredibly ethereal here. Her scintillating vocals are the only relief from Persson’s relentless scowls that also can surprise listeners at any moment.  “The Wreck of S.S. Needle” is the highlight track of this record because of its ability to showcase the range of talents these artists possess. By utilizing numerous Christmas vocal tracks and playing them all in a sequential layered method an angelic or perhaps cathartic effect is created at its climax. The track as a whole feels immense after five minutes of dramatic buildup featuring trudging guitars and synth crescendos that follow the lead of Christmas’ vocal inflections. 

The two more melodic tracks act as safe havens between tracks centered on big riffs and a dark post-rock atmosphere. While Christmas does sing pleasantly for moments on this album, she does not hesitate from implementing her trademark dissonant screech either. Cult of Luna appropriately picks up the pace to match her energy. The final track “Cygnus” features pummeling drums and a nimble guitar scale that draws the attention to Cult of Luna’s guitar prowess which remained relatively reserved until now. This track features the best climactic maelstrom and serves as an appropriate closer. What is quickly apparent on this record is the fantastic drumming from Thomas Headlund which drives all five of these tracks by electing to use power and timing rather than flash.  

This collaboration was effective because the two artists’ talents stylistically matched up, or at least Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas present a convincing argument that they did. “Mariner” is a focused project that accomplishes most of what it sets out to do. Although the concept of space exploration wasn’t very thoroughly carved out the music can stand without the concept behind it. Julie Christmas sounds natural behind the sludgy riffs and her vocal harmonies and dissonances with Persson are incredibly powerful. While both artist’s individual talents are showcased this effort never feels like the two artists were unfamiliar with each other. Rather, this album can trick you into thinking this is one artist rather than two. There is an utter lack of competing sounds, styles, or egos. The spotlight is entirely shared and makes “Mariner” a highlight of a how a seamless collaboration record can sound.

“Mariner” is available here


Band info: cultoflunamusic