Friday, 19 September 2014

'Summoning the Rhino' - The Sludgelord speaks with Javier Galvez of Horn of the Rhino


Once again, HORN OF THE RHINO have torn up the rule book of heavy metal with the release of their 5th record and third through Czech label Doomentia Records.  This trio from Spain are an infusion of many sub genres of metal and rock, the clean vocals of Soundgarden, the growls of the best death metal acts, mixed  with the fuzzed out guitar tones of distinguished acts like High on fire and you’re perhaps only just scratching the surface of this band’s unique sound.

The trio have entered their tenth year as a band and they are continuing to grow with each record they produce, their mixture of sludge, grunge, thrash and death metal, is every bit as dynamic as that unlikely fusion suggest and at the heart of it all is founder, writer, vocalist, guitarist Javier Galvez.   

With ‘Summoning Deliverance’, recently released, everything about this band is better on this record, more riffs, more dynamics and the biggest asset of all, an incredible vocal performance from their hugely talent front man.  Upon discovering this band, formerly know simply as ‘Rhino’, to me they are continuing to prove that you can be unflinching heavy, yet melodic at the same time. 

Front man Javier describes this album as “conceptual” and an ode to misanthropy.
The
general hatred, distrust or disdain of the human species or human nature.  So I was keen to get the lowdown about the record from the man himself.  This is the conversation we had, when we talked back in August and prior to the record coming out. 





(SL) Welcome back to the Sludgelord Javier, pleased to talk to you again.   It is just over two years since the last time we talked. First of all, I have seen the artwork for the new record, its incredible and holy fucking shit, the two new tracks you initially stream are brutal.  Some of the best you’ve recorded.

Javier Galvez) Hey there Aaron! A pleasure to talk with you again for sure. I follow SL through FB and it´s a good reference to get through new albums and bands. Glad you like both the artwork and the songs.

(SL) Let’s kick things off; can you perhaps summarize the last couple of years for HOTR, what have been some of the highlights for you guys?   Have you observed a steady increase in popularity over this period or from album to album? 

Javier Galvez) The last couple of years were really full of activity; we released Grengus, that was/is a very strong record, and yes, I think the name of the band got a little more heard in the underground metal community, thanks in part to the promotion from Doomentia this time. As always, we played wherever we can, putting a solid great show for the people paying the ticket, delivering everything we got on the stage.

We played some cool festivals here and there, shows… but the highlight was the German tour in November 2013. Kudos to the guys in Beehoover for getting four unknown people into their bus and playing all over Germany together. Was intense, hard to do at times but worth every minute of it for sure. The HOTR machinery was well oiled and we proved it every night, I can tell you.

SL) Tell us about your immediate plans for the rest of the year? When’s the record officially out, because there have been rumours of end of July, but that’s fast approaching.  Set the record straight

JG) Seems like Doomentia got a tight schedule this summer so we have to wait a bit. The record release show is planned for August 16th so the CD should be out between right now and that date. From that we got a few shows and festivals already booked and more waiting to confirm.

(SL) What springs to mind when you think about the completion of your new/current record? You’ve got 10 tracks on this one, as opposed to 8, was that due to having better material this time around and were they completely new for this record, as opposed to being leftovers from the last one? 

JG) This time it wasn´t easy. There was so much pressure going on in the studio for different reasons. The mixing sessions were longer than expected and all the recording took a toll on all of us, I think. But at the end the record came out great.
We´ve got 10 tracks this time, but you´ll see. No leftovers, never; maybe, sometimes I can rescue a forgotten riff in the recorder but that´s all. And no better or worse material, just different. And hard to play haha!!

(SL) You’ve chosen to work with Xanpe again on this record at Koba Studios, was it the case of it ain’t broke don’t fix it?  What does he bring to the table that gets the best out of you guys?

JG) Xanpe knows the band; he´s a friend, he does live sound for the band. When we´re recording or playing live with him, he´s like the fourth member. A hideous topic but it´s true.




(SL) In terms of the mix, there seems to be more layers to your sound this time around, more guitar overdubs for example but it has a live feel to it too, is that a fair assessment? 

JG) That was the plan. The songs were asking for it. More guitars, more noise, more chaos! The overall production was meant to differ from the previous record, as we always try to do, and we needed that live, human feel, yes.

(SL) How long was the gestation of your new/current opus from conception to delivery? Are you a band that takes completed song into the studio or do you write in the studio for instance?  I remember when we talked awhile back, (I think when I bought some vinyl from you), that some of these songs have been around for awhile?  Give us an insight into the record 

JG) We need to go back to the end of 2011, that is when we finished recording ‘Grengus’. As always I write at my own pace so once I ended with my recording duties I put myself to work. This time I wanted to make a different thing so I planned to do a concept album. Slowly I glued all the pieces together: lyrics, titles, riffs… Because of the story line, sometimes the lyrics would come first as opposed to the usual “music comes first”, at least in my case. It was great to do it this way because it  kept things really interesting. We started the official rehearsals by November and began recording by March, with all the material written, yes!!  although this time I sang on the spot on most of the tracks; got the lines, verses, choruses and all but when recording I wanted it to be as fresh as possible.

(SL)  The new tracks seem to encompass the sounds of your last three records, ‘Builder of Carrion ‘Effigies for example is more Grengus, than say ‘Weight…’ but then at the end of the track there’s a nod to moments of DTM.   Is this the definitive record for HOTR, because I know with Grengus you said you wanted to make a more aggressive record, as Weight was built upon more melody in terms of vocals? 

JG) No, I wouldn´t say that. It´s another record by the same band, by the same song writer in a different time frame. There are things that will remind you of DTM or WOC because of that. We have a certain way to do things and that´s great, because that means  we have our own style, or at least seems like we try it haha! It´s cool cause you´re comparing those songs with our own material and not another band/influence.

(SL) I feel stupid for asking, but what are your thoughts about the record now? You probably wrote, recorded it awhile back, is there anything you would change looking back?  Do you rest on your laurels until the release or do you continue to write music for the next record.  I know when we talked before you were already writing songs, which may or may not have ended up on this record. 

JG) I would put more layers of guitars and crazy sounds in some songs but overall its cool the way it is. I think people will go crazy, it´s a massive album, the fast stuff is faster and the slow is slower so everybody will be happy! I stopped writing for this record right before entering the studio. And yes, I´m already writing new stuff for the next one.
 
(SL) Moving onto the artwork there are no massive cocks, this time haha.  Seriously though it is incredible. Who designed it?  Tell us about the concept behind it and is it reflective of your lyrics?


JG) Garrés didn´t want to be involved with us this time so I checked a few names here and there and Nick Keller was elected. I told him all the concept behind the album, gave him unfinished lyrics and my idea for the main cover so together we developed it, but all the credit goes to him, of course. It was a pleasure to see the guy so into it, telling me his ideas… You´ll see.

(SL) As music fan yourselves and given that music seems to be so disposal at times, how important is it is to offer a great package to your fans? You were recently giving away free CDS when fans bought shirts for example, so it seems you’re keen to give your fans value for money. What can fans expect in terms the finished physical product for ‘Summoning Deliverance’? What format is/will be available? 

JG) Oh yes, I always measure what we do with what we would want to see as fans, of course. In this day and age, that everybody “likes” music but in reality don’t give a fuck, it´s very, very important to give a high quality final product, whether it is a CD or a big old LP. We are lucky on this matter because Doomentia is a label that cares about things like that and, of course, we take advantage of it mixing great artists with our music. This time fans will be salivating every time they will put their greasy hands on the 2xLP or the CD, that are the formats that will be available, along with the digital download.

(SL)  Will there be a bonus track on the vinyl this time around?  If so, any details you wanna share? 

JG) Not this time, but you´ll be surprised for sure.

(SL) I could be forgiven for thinking Howard Jones (ex KSE) sings during the clean parts at the end (who is also a brilliant vocalist), indeed a major selling point in terms of your music has always been the vocals. On this record you’re continuing to mix things up, dare I say, your voice seems to be evolving with each record, do you view your voice more as an instrument now, than say in the past? 

JG) I don´t know… I think I always approached my voice as an instrument. Depending on the song, it could be the icing on the cake or the main reason to be if you got a killer vocal melody.

(SL) What continues to be the ‘goal’ for HOTR as a band and thoughts on the emergence of the whole ‘underground’ scene and its increasing popularity?  Bigger labels seem to picking up bands from the underground scene, is that something that is attractive to you as a band?  Doing the band full time for example.  Some feel it could dilute the creative process in some way, taking the element of fun away from it

JG) I always said that the moment somebody tells me something about my songs in a “this works, that not, this sells, that not” kind of way, wouldn´t work, because music must flow free, no rush, no evil plans to conquer the world and get rich; yeah, I know some bands did something like that and worked for them haha! Personally my goal is achieved already, writing songs, putting them on wax and be able to play them live? That´s my thing! Obviously would be great to be up there with the big names of the genre, getting credit for what you do and be a well respected band, that would be huge for me.



(SL) How valuable are blogs and social media for bands such as yourselves? 

JG) Right now they are what keep the wheels in motion. I don´t like so much the social media thing but nowadays is a necessary evil, you must be there if you want to know about your favourite band. And blogs, of course, help a lot doing coverage of new and not so new bands and albums.

(SL)  Will you guys be hitting the road in support of this one?  Any concrete plans you can tell us.  Frustratingly it appears that you won’t make into the UK again this year, any plans head over next year.  You recently hooked up with a booking agent, is that correct? 

JG) Man, we´re trying to do a tour through UK so bad! Our booking agent is working on it right now so we hope to book some dates in the not so distant future. So far, the confirmed dates are in our country:

Aug16 Bilbao
Aug 23 Cangas
Sept 6 Madrid
Oct 11 Vitoria

(SL) What are your survival tips for the road?

JG) Stay healthy with decent food, if possible, lots of good sleep, no alcohol, no smoke and lots of water and hot tea if you´re the singer. Once the tour/show is over, you can get crazy as you want!

(SL) What do you guy use in terms of guitars, amps and why? Also what tuning do you use? 

JG) I have a bunch of Gibson that works perfectly through a modified 800 and a Matamp GT1, that are the amps I usually play both in the studio and on stage, but this time we recorded some tracks with a Mesa Boogie that sounded killer in the mix with the rest. I like dirty, high gain sounds but the sheer power of the Matamp is unbelievable. The tuning is AECGDA.




(SL) What have been some of your highlight in terms of records you’ve bought, shows you’ve attended etc this year?   

JG) Recently I go to see Incantation for the first time and was amazing. John McEntee is a true warrior. Being a legendary figure of the underground as he is, the guy keeps on doing his thing not matter what. Regarding records, I bought the new ones from Black Anvil, Lord Mantis, Tombs, Full Of Hell, Impetuous Ritual, Triptykon… Great albums all of them.

(SL) From a personal perspective thanks for talking, as you know I’m a massive supporter and fan of you music.   Do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us? Things to look out for in the future? 

JG) I know you´re sold to our cause Aaron haha! Thanks to you and the SL blog for the coverage and the endless support. We´ll see what the future will bring. Right now I want every HOTR fan to enjoy the new album. Like I said, it´s a massive one, so much crazy things going on there, a killer and honest record from an honest band. We´ll be putting up on our site new live dates when confirmed so stay tuned and maybe we´ll be playing near you, who knows?

Thanks again and keep it brutal!

Intro and inteview by: Aaron Pickford

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Horrendous - Ecdysis (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 14/10/2014
Label: Dark Descent Records

‘Ecdysis’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1. The Stranger  (07:12)
2. Weeping Relic (03:58)
3. Heaven’s Deceit (03:10)
4. Resonator (03:38)
5. The Vermillion (02:55)
6. Nepenthe (04:31)
7. Monarch (03:57)
8. When The Walls Fell (02:25)
9. Pavor Nocturnus (06:22)  
10. Titan (04:45)

Bio:

East Coast Death Metal trio HORRENDOUS are set to return with their highly-anticipated sophomore release, Ecdysis, on October 14. Picking up where the band's critically acclaimed 2012 debut, The Chills, left off,Ecdysis sees HORRENDOUS emerge as one of the most intense, brutal, and most importantly, genuine contributors to today's traditional death metal revival.

Ecdysis is set for an October 14 worldwide release on CD, vinyl and digital formats via Dark Descent Records. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered at Subterranean Watchtower Studios (www.facebook.com/SubterraneanWatchtower). Cover art for the album was done by Brian Smith. 

The Band:

Jamie Knox | Drums
Damian Herring | Vocals, guitars
Matt Knox | Vocals, guitars

Review:

Horrendous have produced one of the great death metal albums of 2014 and when all is said and done, ‘Ecdysis’ should be remembered as one of the great death metal albums of the decade. That isn’t hyperbole and it isn’t baseless hype on my part. It’s just the truth. Perhaps I’m reading too much into things because I’m so enamored with the album as a whole, but everything about ‘Ecdysis’ feels like Horrendous set out to create an all-time classic from its earliest stages. Even the artwork is improbably good. There’s a confidence level and a self-assuredness exhibited throughout the whole album that is so rare in this day and age.

The album starts off in incredible fashion with “The Stranger”, which is on par with the best death metal songs of all time. I’ve probably listened to it at least 30 times in the short time I’ve been listening to the album and it still stuns me every time I’ve listened to it. The immense melodies, the shimmering lead guitar work, the brilliant rhythmic work from both the drummer and bassist. Everything fits into place in a truly magical way. From the borderline-doom opening section, with melody oozing from each labored riff and chug to the ingenious main riff that utilizes rhythms usually reserved for Van Halen albums. Believe me, I get why that might sound terrible on paper, but it fucking works. There are sorrowful chords that flirt with black metal like Dark Tranquility used to in the early 90s. The guitar solo work throughout this song and the album as a whole is absolutely gorgeous. I’m prattling on because I feel like I can’t move on until I run out of glowing words of praise; that’s how much I love this song. It’s only for your benefit that I move on to the rest of the album.

Elsewhere, the album is engorged with memorable riffs from start to finish. If you put a gun to my head, I’d say that mid-period Death, Edge of Sanity and ‘Heartwork’-era Carcass strike me as being primary influences, but they’re definitely not just some hodgepodge of repurposed old ideas. “Resonator”, as an example, does an excellent job of alternating between a thrashing death metal attack out of Stockholm in 1990 and a tumbling mid-paced section that sounds even older. “The Vermillion” brings back something I absolutely loved: the seemingly random but beautiful acoustic guitar song in the middle of a death or black metal album. It was a staple of Swedish bands in the 90s, from Dissection to Lord Belial to In Flames, and dozens of others, and “The Vermillion” is a nice addition to tradition that hasn’t been observed all that much in the last ten to fifteen years.

The only song that really feels out of place is “When the Walls Fell”, a two and a half minute detour, in which Horrendous opts to jam a variety of more traditional heavy metal riffs. As a self-contained instrumental track, it’s just fine, but it seems like an unnecessary song that doesn’t really lead to anything. Once we’re back on track, “Titan” closes the album out in an excellent fashion, highlighted by some excellent lead guitar choices, and a renewed focus on melody and a fittingly weary-yet-victorious emotional tone to the whole of the song. Paying attention to details like writing a song that actually feels like it gives the album closure is just one of the reasons that Horrendous is at the top of the death metal heap in 2014. Now someone book them on a tour with Morbus Chron so I can die a happy man.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a copy here



For more information


Close The Hatch - To Collapse In Absentia: Green EP (Review)


Album Type: EP
Release Date: 26/8/14
Label: Red Moth Records


To Collapse In Absentia: Green” DD track listing:

1). Purple on Green 07:08
2). Wax & Purpose 05:52
3). Grit & Fire 05:47
4). False Hopes & Gun Smoke 08:32
5). And to All Things... 05:52

Review:

Traveling in rarefied air of twisting genres and groundbreaking original sound, Close the Hatch has a different take on post-metal that cannot be ignored. Eschewing the layered minimalism and tribal buildups of Neurosis for a more expansive melodic palette, Close the Hatch loses none of the intensity needed for the sonic immersion that we all love about post-metal.

A blend of hardcore style vocals blended with some pleasantly nice clean singing and a fantastic production; the drums sound HUGE on this. An impressively balanced and clear mix on this one as well as all the instrumentation sound great and can be clearly heard allowing the wall of sounds to enter even deeper into your headspace.

The second track “Wax & Purpose” moves into more post-rock territory with airy tremolo picked reverb melodies ghosting over dreamscape vocals. “Grit & Fire” enters into some deep Deftones territory particularly around the two minute mark with the song entering into what could be an outtake off “Diamond Eyes.” The coda of this song firmly enmeshes into Explosions in the Sky territory as well with dueling atmospheric guitars. A really cool stylistic blend I like is that Close the Hatch has integrated some less underground elements effectively into their sound.

“False Hopes & Gun Smoke” has what is my favorite sonic part of the album in the vamp for the first couple minutes, a really nice slow burn with some excellent minimalist guitar work and VERY cool use of effects. The longest track on the album, it boasts some long form songwriting more typical of the genre and similar to what Cult of Luna does often in that it builds quiet-heavy over a couple cycles until the last section of the song which makes it feel as if the entire song is building to those moments. The plodding and powerful rhythm guitars during the coda are perfectly placed in this appearance on this song and Close the Hatch definitely picked the right spot to use them.

The closer “And to All Things...” is the most “post-metal” sounding of all the songs boasting riffing/and lead work more typical of the genre. Not to knock it down at all because it's very well done and fits perfectly at the end of this EP leaving you with the feeling the other songs were building to this moment. The interlude in the middle is pretty exceptionally layered as well with some pretty great interplay between the piano and guitars. This is my favorite track on the album and the monolithic singularity of the atmosphere it presents is perfect for those long car rides at night alone. A great EP and I'm sure these guys crush live. Based in Dayton, OH it looks like they have been playing shows in that region and if you're in the area check these guys out. Available on bandcamp below for name your price or from Red Moth Records on CD. Check it out.

Words by: Chris Tedor

It is available here for name your price DD



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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Horn Of The Rhino - Summoning Deliverance (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/9/2014
Label: Doomentia Records

‘Summoning Deliverance’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1. Awaiting The Scourge 01:40
2. Exvenhstench 06:25
3. Onward Through Domination 07:20
4. High Priest 06:15
5. Their Tombs 08:21
6. Deliverance Prayer 05:32
7. Drogg Öm Thraal 01:06
8. Grim Foreigners 06:08
9. Builder Of Carrion Effigies 08:16
10. An Excess Of Faith
06:48

Bio:

Once again, HORN OF THE RHINO and DOOMENTIA are a pair that has come a long way together. Ever since their 2010 ‘Weight of the Coronation’, ‘Summoning Deliverance’ is their fourth collaboration, including the re-release last year of ‘Breed of the Chosen’ their very first proper recording originally issued as RHINO back in 2007. The trio might have entered their tenth year as a band but they’re still growing and this is, by far, their most adventurous and ambitious work yet. Here, their quite unique mix of sludge, grunge and thrash takes here a whole new dimension. Javier Galvez soulful voice may still be their biggest asset but on ‘Summoning Deliverance’, they’ve proving that although they’re still heavy-as-fuck, they’ve got any tricks up their sleeve. If sometimes they plough headstrong into the nearest wall, they also like to suggest in a very subtle yet menacing way that that even darker clouds are ahead.

He may not want to spill the beans too much about this ten songs set recorded last March at Koba studio but nevertheless Javier describes this album as “conceptual” and an ode to misanthropy, with every tiny details – from the sublime yet apocalyptic artwork by Nick Keller to the lyrics – working around it. So as advised by the man himself, it’s time to just “give in to that sonic maelstrom!”

Remember: there’s heavy and there’s HORN OF THE RHINO!

The Band:

Javier Gálvez | Vocals, guitar
Sergio Nobles | Bass
Julen Gil | Drums

Review:

Certain conversations can really strike a chord with you. 

For example, when the Sludgelord says: “I’d like you to review this for me, because I can’t”, it piqued my curiosity. 

“Horn of the Rhino?”  I responded.  “Why can’t you review this?”

“I wouldn’t be objective,” came the honest answer. 

“I love it too much.” 

I had never heard of this band before, and instantly I knew I was going to be dealing with some rather impressive shit.  I was going to have to do my homework for this…

‘Summoning Deliverance’ is the fifth album from this Spanish trio of noisemongerers, and it sets a high benchmark for how heavy one can make music.  For sure, Horn of the Rhino don’t know how to make a bad metal record (‘Weight of Coronation’ being a newfound favourite album of mine), and ‘Summoning Deliverance’ has just made its way to the front of the album of the year queue with elbow-shoving confidence. 

The sound of Horn of the Rhino is somewhat akin to being hit with a sledgehammer: there’s this chest-pounding impact, the shock from the force of it, and a gulping breathlessness that follows the attack.  Songs like ‘Builder of Carrion Effigies’ and ‘Exvenhstench’ gladly dish out that ‘broken-ribs feeling’, their riffs almost gleefully smashing themselves into you.  Conversely, there’s also a fine selection of Conan-esque doom heaviness here; songs that are slow, sadistic, and downright inhuman.  Check out ‘Their Tombs’ and feel gravity suddenly press itself down upon you like the thumbs of the Old Gods. 

These ten tracks (spoiler alert, there’s also a secret eleventh track) are no doubt going to make every metal head’s home a heavier and happier one.  For me, tenth track ‘An Excess of Faith’ has a riff that slithered up to me like a snake and bit me right in the heart.  Guitarist/vocalist Javier Gálvez flicks out this sonic magic with the flair of Houdini, while cohorts Julen Gil and Sergio Robles ably back him up with bursting drumbeats and growling basslines respectively.  For me, ‘An Excess of Faith’ is the fitting crescendo to ‘Summoning Deliverance’s’ crushing movement. 

At once thrashy, doomy, and very death-y, Horn of the Rhino doffs their metal-studded caps to so many metal genres.  Then they hit them on the back of the head with a club and take grisly trophies from them.  ‘Summoning Deliverance’ is a bloody masterpiece of cross-genre metal, leaving no stone unturned in the search for the hardest sound and the most vicious lyrics.  I now totally understand why the Sludgelord Himself could not objectively review these guys, and I join him and many others who have been ensnared by the Horn of the Rhino. 

Words by: Chris Markwell

You can pick up a copy DD or CD directly from the band here and from the label here.  Vinyl will be released soon.  More details when we have it. 



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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Craang - To The Estimated Size Of The Universe (Album Review)


Album Type: Full length
Release Date: 26/5/14
Label: Self-Released

To the Estimated Size of the Universe” CD/DD tracklist:

1). Slo Forward Jam (07:54)
2). Butterfly (09:04)
3). Magnolia (09:36)
4).The Meteorian (15:22)

Bio:

Based in Thessaloniki, in Greece, fuzzy psychedelic rock trio CRAANG have released one of the best spacey-psychedelic rock releases you’ll hear this year.

“To the Estimated Size of the Universe” is an impressive debut full-length album that offers an enthralling brew of
fuzzy stoner rock laced with healthy dose of 70’s psychedelic rock. The combination works remarkably well and has
the ability to take you places as far and wide as the cosmos.

The whole record flows together excellently, with each track fading into the next, never losing the momentum. That
said, lie back and listen “To the Estimated Size of the Universe” from the beginning to the end and enjoy the stellar cosmic journey that CRAANG will take you on during forty-plus minutes

The Band:
Manos | Guitar, vocals
Mike | Bass
Nick | Drums


Review:

Boasting some of the cooler artwork I've seen in some time, a nice watercolour psychedelic theme, you can tell off the bat “To the Estimated Size of the Universe” is going to take you on a trip. Beginning with atmospheric sounds into some nice heavy chugging bass and sweet lead wah-work the first track “Slo Forward Jam” begins our journey into space. Around the 2:50 mark there is some pretty awesome huge spacey guitar noise that reminds me of a more extreme drugged out version of Gilmore's “whale sound” from the interlude in Floyd's seminal track “Echoes.” A more Floydian experience inhabits the middle section of the track with some nice open melodies and the guitar work here is pretty exceptional. The coda section begins with a riff explosion that reminds me somewhat of Dylan Carlson's playing in Earth's classic “Pentastar: In the Style of Demons” as Craang throws some nice bends/slurs into the heavy blues riffs

The second track “Butterfly” has the introduction of nice verbed out open vocals, over some really interesting riffs. Craang's riffs on this track are fascinating and seem to be in ¾ but imply a polyrhythm over bluesy riffs. Definitely a cool feel and some very nice drum work throughout.

My only real critique of this album is that some parts of the kit and perhaps the overall drum volume could be slightly higher. The cymbals in particular could be just a tiny bit higher and seem to need some Eqing to separate them a little bit from the mix as some of the individual hits are hard to make out. That being said the overall production is fantastic as the guitars and bass sound awesome and the kick/snare/toms sound fantastic. The guitars and bass tones are great and the heavier parts have very similar tones to Elder's newer releases. The vocals are also perfectly verbed for the songs and float over the silky carpet of sound Craang weaves.

“Magnolia,” the third of the songs seems to be the inspiration for the flower child artwork. Not disappointing by channelling more heavy 70s sound. This track reminds me a lot of the band Elder, but if they dropped way more acid and smoked less weed. Taking us on a huge trip this track covers a huge amount of sonic territory from rifftastic to spacey and tripped.  I agree with Craang in their subconscious choice of this song as inspiration for the album artwork, it perfectly encapsulates their sound and I'd be inclined to say it's my favorite song on the album.

I really like the beginning of the final track “The Meterorian” in particular, the nice volume swells over the crushing fuzz bass are a nice subtle atmospheric touch. By far the longest track on the album, it boasts a pretty different sounding melodic section right before the middle, with some melodies that sound inspired from some classic 80s synth soundtracks during the non-heavy part. Really cool part it separates the track nicely into the heavy part into the break/open section.

Really great song writing as “The Meteorian” progresses heading into some Ufomammut noise freakout territory with some feedback oscillations spiraling into your subconscious.

In closing, Craang has a very interesting sound and demands to be heard. They have estimated the size of the universe and it is vast and all encompassing. Join them on their trip below.

Words by: Chris Tedor

You can pick up a copy here and watch out for the vinyl release via Pink Tank Record next year



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Monday, 15 September 2014

Akem Manah - Demons of the Sabbat (Album Review)



Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 08/08/2014
Label: Freak Metal Records

‘Demons of the Sabbat CD/DD track listing:

1). Dark Ritual 01:50
2). Worship in Fire 07:34
3). Reign of Terror 04:25
4). Possession of Nun 08:47
5). Hollow Graves 08:44
6). Unholy Horror 04:%9
7). The Twisted Rites of Satan’s Bride 08:01
8). Nightfall 02:16
9). Demons Rise 09:13

Bio:

Akem Manah is a doom metal band from Oregon that formed in October 2009 by Dead Nedry, Mike Bonnetti, Kyle Simms & Brian Murray. Akem performed a few shows but choose to be more of a studio band. The original line-up reorced the demos "Akem Manah" November 2009 & "The Devil" in January 2010.

Following the recording of "The Devil" demo, Kyle left the band for a job in California. In February lead guitarist Mike left for personal reasons. Robert Ingraham replaced Kyle as bassist in January. The band would soon after the line=up change go in to New Sound studio to record the debut album / followup ep.

On July 9, 2010 the debut album "The Devil Is In All Of You" was released via Cdbaby, Itunes & Amazon.com. Shortly before the release of the debut album, Nedry moved back to his home town Bandon, Oregon. On March 29, 2011 the ep "Horror In The Eyes" was released. It consisted of unused songs recorded during the debut album sessions. It was planned to be the last Akem Manah release.

In November 2011, the band decided to take a shot at making another album new album. In January they entered Emerald City Productions to record the 2nd album called "Night Of The Black Moon". It was released on March 23, 2012.

In April 2012, it was announced that bassist Robert Ingraham and drummer Brian Murray had left the band in order to focus on college and careers. Nedry has opted to keep Akem Manah going. It was also announced in May 2012 that a new album was in the works.

The new album will features former White Zombie drummer Ivan de Prume & former Nile bassist Chris Lollis, along with some guest musicians. The new 3rd full length album "Demons Of The Sabbat" is set for a Summer 2014 release & a 4th full length album is in writing stages for a spring 2015 release

The Band:

Dead Nedry | vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass on tracks 1 & 6
Chriss Lollis (Nile / Lecherous Nocturne) | bass
Ivan de Prume (White Zombie) | drums

featuring
Scott Von Heldt (Kurai / Brian Head Welch) | lead guitar on tracks 3 & 9
Adam Richardson (Ramesses / 11Paraoias) | vocals on track 9 

Review:

I am quite fucking pleased I overlooked the pseudo-clipart artwork and the rather dull lead ‘Worship in Fire’ and stayed the course, as this album gets better and better as it progresses.  From something that nearly forced me to make an Obituary-lite crack to a serious, introspective, sludged-out death/doom record. It grows consistently more and more complex and thick, as if maturing over the course of the recording. After an ambient intro that actually foreshadows the denser tracks found later on the album, I was prepared to turn it off and move on as the almost/not-quite riffing of ‘Worship in Fire’ beat its theme into the ground, and failed to impress with the lead, before mercifully slipping into something more comfortable with ‘Reign in Terror’, the third track from the Oregon-based band's third full-length.

Leading off with an almighty stoned, hair in your face, clouds of smoke riff that blasts you into orbit, the tremulous, fx-soaked guitar of ‘Reign..’ keeps things cosmic as the guttural vocals hold processed inhuman court over the groove. This song immediately leaves the grave and begins to explore the doom side of their equation, crafting a very atmospheric and spacey sound that is still firmly rooted in death and evil and the double-kick. This sound grows to encompass the remaining songs, often combining with breakdown-esque crunch and gruff rasping rhythms to fantastic effect. No need to speed, relentlessly dedicated to the mid-paced stomp, it gets harder and harder not to close your eyes and bang your head through the dulcet sledgehammer tones of ‘Hollow Graves’ and the absolutely complete final titular track. The latter opening with a growling staccato drone, juxtaposed over a frenetic drum solo by session musician and former member of White Zombie Ivan de Prume, before a classic sludge tune bursts forth from your speakers and culminates in the now-mandatory washes of ambient echo and reverb. From track 4 onward, it actually can be difficult to tell when one song ends and another begins. It has an excellent flow and continuity, and it feels like a unit, rather than a collection of songs.

The lineup on this surprisingly rad 9 track disc is rounded out by bassist Chris Lollis (also of Lecherous Nocturne and one-time contributor to the mighty Nile), and the man at the helm, front man and lyricist Dead Nedry. Nedry also produced and did the artwork, though I wonder: do I lose metal cred if I think he went a little heavy on the skulls?

Words by: James Harris

You can pick up a copy on CD/DD here



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