Sunday, 26 April 2015

Shrine of the Serpent - 'Shrine of the Serpent' EP (Review)


Album Type: EP
Date Released: 04/03/2015
Label: Materia Prima Records

‘Shrine Of The Serpent’ CD//DD track listing:

1).  9 Gates Of Shadow
2). King In Red
3). Gods Of Blight

Shrine of the Serpent is:

Todd Janeczek | Guitar, Vocals
John Boyd | Guitar, Vocals
Garret Hubner | Drums

Review:

Only the best of the best Doom can create that indefinable feeling of dread and that sinking feeling like no other, heavier than the ton weight squashing wile coyote cloaked in atmosphere, sombre and unceasing. Portland band Aldebaran members alongside Tenspeed Warlock and Roanoke come together for their new project Shrine of the Serpent (SOTS)

Releasing their eponymous, self-titled, three track debut of monstrous death doom to rapturous reception, I have a listen and see what they have to give.

‘9 Gates of Shadow’ is an eerie beginning; spoken words oozing doom and gloom, setting the scene for the heaviest riff you can imagine, blacker than the devils soul. With full blown ferocity it appears and pitches a tent in your lugholes. Hubner’s drum work pounding into the skull and Janeczek’s death metal roaring encapsulating the vibe totally; like a wounded animal in pain he persists. Torturous and unrelenting it churns the stomach and chills the psyche of all those who are brave enough to listen before ending with some atmospheric playback.

‘King In Red’ with a shudder I listen, whiny feedback; atmospheric sound effects hinting at the psychedelic before the aural assault begins. Pure evil, dark and dank in its misery has arrived and by the love of all that is Satan, you know it! The plaintive, melancholic riffs harken back to the sounds of Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass; heavily accented by growling vocals and double-kick drumming for a full on emotional effect. An epic offering of just under 12 minutes, not once does it ease up, never giving the listener time to get bored or to even breathe, it is relentless in its awesomeness.

‘Gods of Blight’ opens up with a female vocal passage to begin with, a gloomy, Edgar Allan Poe style story, supernatural in presentation creating the perfect demonic atmosphere. Riffs cloaked in murkiness and shadow creates that sinking feeling with ease, the despondency in the lyricism palpable. Here as throughout the album, they blend sludge, doom and death metal with bravura making one hell of a tune.  Whilst there is only 3 tracks to this EP, this record keeps to one of the key features of doom metal: the length of songs. Each song is over 8 minutes long, with the longest just under 12, but that doesn’t mean they’re lacking in quality; all of them have an incredible feel.
Combining death and doom metal does not always work, in this case it does, and fabulously.

‘SOTS’ is a monolith, with Janeczek’s vocals; gut wrenching and raspy, lyrics that are about as death metal as they come- just short of Cannibal Corpse and Behemoth. Spine chilling, buzzing riffs and inordinately heavy drums all working in synchronicity, significantly enhanced with a dark atmosphere that sends shivers, chills and dread coursing through the listener just as it should.

With their ability to mould huge, mean, ugly riffs into mammoth landscapes of sorrow and despair, it is the raging black soulless melody of SOTS that holds the attention, opening portals in the mind to dark imagery and wonderment.

An impressive debut from a band that understands the aural conveyance of tortured souls and mental anguish.

Words by: Kat Hilton

‘Shrine of the Serpent’ is available here


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Gevauden - 'Message for the Damned' EP (Review)


Album Type: EP
Date Released: 14/12/2014
Label: Self Released

‘Message For The Damned’ CD//DD track listing:

1). The Cursed Undead
2). Lament of the North
3). Message for the Damned

Gevauden is

Bruce Hamilton | guitar
Andy Salt | bass
David Himbury | drums
Adam Pirmohamed | vocals

Review:  

Doom that comes straight out of the commuter belt, Gevaudan are without doubt a beast of a band. The EP opens with the impressive “The Cursed Undead” as the band mixes weighty riffs with clean and well pitched trad doom vocals and death growls. The atmosphere and sound actually reminded me of a kind of slowed down classic Judas Priest (I'm talking 1976 to 1980 or Sad Wings/Sin After Sin era). The EP sounds good too- the guitar solos over just bass and drums at first and all the instruments sound tight and powerful.

There are hints of The Gates of Slumber here with fantastical lyrical themes and mournful vocals, but equally there are other classic doom references that I do not need to name.  “Lament of The North” offers more melancholy-and more growls- to build an effective composition with its tale of defiance and integrity. The band mix vibes well here- aggression in places, sadness in others and all of it sitting well together. The title track closes this impressive set- a positively Sabbathian start sets the band up to spread their wings over the following nine minutes plus. The riffs are stiring, the playing crisp and assured and the vocals are also well worth noting for their quality (something not all doom bands can boast by any means!). It is quality stuff and forged from the very furnace of real metal that gave us Sabbath, Priest, Vitus, Candlemass, TGOS and so on. If you like your traditional doom you should check this band out as they are a cut above most bands operating in this genre. Bigger things are to come, for sure.

Words by: Richard Maw

‘Message for the Damned’ is available here


For more information:

https://gevaudan.bandcamp.com/releases | http://www.gevaudandoom.co.uk/

Blues Pills - 'Blues Pills Live' (Album Review)


Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 20/3/2015
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

‘Blues Pills Live’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. High Class Woman 5:44
2. Ain't No Change 8:35
3. Bliss 4:42
4. Dig In 6:32
5. Black Smoke 7:42
6. Time Is Now 3:48
7. No Hope Left For Me 4:15
8. Devil Man 4:56
9. Astralplane 5:11
10. Little Sun 6:57

Blues Pills is:

Elin Larsson | vocals
Dorian Sorriaux | guitars
Zack Anderson | bass
André Kvarnström| drums

Review:

If you don’t already know Blues Pills then I’m not sure how you landed at The Sludgelord. Perhaps you Googled something like “pills for my blues”? If so, then read on because Blues Pills are just that. At this point in time, the band has a 7”, two EP’s, a live album, and a full length under their belt, making them one helluva busy band. And just when you thought they were getting comfortable riding the wave of last year’s full-length, they’ve given us another pill to swallow, “Live at Freak Valley.” If you’ve been a fan of their blues-infused retro rock up until now, then you’ll love –absolutely love – this album.

“High Class Woman” starts things off fervently and with reckless abandon. The high octane rock n’ roll that the band has been touring Europe with constantly is presented here all at once. The next hour of music that unfolds runs through fan favorites like the drum-driven “Astralplane,” an extended version of “Black Smoke,” and the obvious “Devil Man.” There is no let-up, no mercy; just plain ol’ good times with loud rock n’ roll music. The musicianship stands at the forefront and Blues Pills are selling it well, be it with Larsson’s growling, and yes, sexy, delivery in “Time is Now,” or how “Bliss” demonstrates a masterful handling of the wah pedal. This may just be the closest you’ll get to that magical night at Madison Square Garden when Led Zeppelin laid down their Song Remains The Same set. Yeah, I may be overselling it a little bit, but if you already dig Blues Pills you’ll understand what I’m getting at.

In short, Blues Pills was on fire at Freak Valley and demonstrated that they’re not only good on record but their live act is also one to witness. On stage, they handle their instruments with finesse but they would not have gotten so far if it weren’t for their songs. Between all that guitar masturbation and hippy freak outs, there are verses and choruses that flow beautifully into one another. Their debut album encapsulated the song writing of the band accurately and its this live set where you can hear these kids put their money where their mouth is. Go see Blues Pills live, it’s worth it, but if you can’t wait then throw this album on your turntable.

Words by: Victor van Ommen

‘Blues Pills Live’ is available everywhere now

For more information:


Weedpecker - II (Album Review)

II cover art

Album Type: Album
Date Released: April 30th 2015
Label: Self Released

II - Track Listing

1.Reality Fades
2.Flowering Dimensions
3.Fat Karma 05:28
4.Nothingness
5.Into The Woods
6.The Vibe
7.Already Gone

Members:

Wyro-guitar & vocal
Bartek-guitar & vocal
Mroku-bass
Falon-drums

Bio:

Weedpecker was born in Warsaw circa 2012, when the Dobry bros. (Wyro and Bandos) decided to match their dreamy psychedelic rock tunes with some stoner heavy grungy riffing…soon joined Pan Falon as drummer who plays also for ultraslow doomers Belzebong. After the summer of 2012 the lineup was completed with the Spanish bassist Jeso, who was earlier in some extreme acts like Looking For An Answer and Antigama. In April 2013 they recorded their first self titled album and since then they have been promoting it supporting bands like Elder, Naam or Mars Red Sky.

Review:

Weedpecker caused bit of a stir back in 2013 when they released their acclaimed S/T debut album. It had a stunning mix of Psychedelic Spaced Out Cosmic Stoner Metal riffs with a nice sideline in loud fuzz. Weedpecker are back with their new album – II.

II carries on the magic Weedpecker beautifully created on their debut album but adds a louder and spacier vibe that will have you on the edge of your seat. Opening track – Reality Fades – starts off as a blissful post-rock song with hints of cosmic fuzz slowly playing the background and then the sublime laid-back vocals start taking you to sunnier climates as Weedpecker build a serene wall of noise and calm at the same time. As the song progresses the band slowly start adding Stoner/Space Rock riffs before all hell breaks loose as the FUZZ goes into overdrive.

Second track – Flowering Dimensions – carries on the Spacey Post Rock guitar with elements of Psychedelic Rock offering a more serene and quiet affair. The dual vocals of Wyro and Bartek offer brief vocal passages though it's the slow-paced riffs that hold your attention as Weedpecker come louder with each second. The song may start as a tranquil piece but give it a few moments as Weedpecker unleash some of the albums heaviest riffs they've created so far.

Third Track – Fat Karma – is a song that some of you may know already has it's been played heavily on YouTube and within The Doom/Stoner Metal community. And why not? - This track is what Weedpecker are all about. Gigantic riffs drenched in LOUD FUZZ and VIOLENT FEEDBACK that sees the band focus more on the Fuzz and Stoner Metal side of their music. The vocals are another highlight as they have a distorted Space Rock quality that more than matches the Spacey riffs on offer here.

Those three tracks should tell you what to expect for the remainder of the album. Heavy Cosmic Riffs with Weedpecker offering a different style of Stoner Metal that I haven't heard in a long time. One of the other great tracks to look out for is Nothingness – as it sees the band in a more reflective and heartbreaking mood though it's still a loud as hell affair packed with great riffs. Can this be classed as Weedpecker's Lighter/Mobile In The Air style song. Maybe as it has some haunting lyrics that obviously mean something personally to the band.

Weedpecker have created a sonic experience that demands your full attention as this is one of the most powerful Stoner Metal albums you'll hear all year. II is a contender for one of the albums of the year. Brilliant.

Thanks to the band for the promo. II will be available to buy from April 30th 2015.

Words by Steve Howe

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WALL - Wastelands/Warfields (EP Review)

Wastelands / Warfields cover art

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 24th April 2015
Label: Self Released
Wastelands / Warfields - Track Listing

1.Wastelands 03:26
2.Warfields 03:16

Members:

M - drums
A - guitar
S - vocals/synth
S - bass/vocals
I - guitar

Bio:

WALL are creating paradoxes since 2008. Minimal pop songs at Maximum volume. Heavy low ends without the angry attitude and muscle flexing. Inspired by almost everything from the mamas and papas to early swans. Constantly changing equipment and attitude so it is safe to say that no one in the band knows what it is exactly they are doing. Hopefully even with Mark E Smith on bongos it will sound like WALL.

Review:

Doom/Sludge/Pop Rockers – WALL – are back with a blistering new EP – Wastelands/Warfields. And it's a stunning array of high octane Sugary Pop Coated Doom/Sludge Metal riffs. I'm a huge fan of these guys who made a big impression on me back in 2013 with their S/T release.

If you're a fan of FLOOR and Torche then WALL is the band for you. This EP sees WALL in loud volatile mood with the band playing fast-paced Sludge/Doom Pop music. Opening track – Wastelands – has bone-crunching and heavy down-tuned guitars with lead vocalist – Sascha – providing sublime vocals packed full of passion and demented fun especially towards the end when the mood takes a sinister turn.

Second track – Warfields is classic WALL through and through. Heavy melodies with a great singalong chorus though with a slight Punk-Rock swagger. WALL return to the normal sound of down-tuned sludgy guitars with Sascha once again on fine form singing his heart out. WALL have offered a brief glimpse of their new sound on the EP and if this is the way WALL are going on their next album, then WALL may have something special for us to experience.

Just do yourself a favour and download this brilliant EP now as it's available for free download. If you like what you hear check out their 2013 debut album as it's a favourite of ours at Sludgelord HQ.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

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Psychedelic Witchcraft - Black Magic Man (EP Review)

Black Magic Man cover art

Album Type: EP
Date Released: April 2015
Label: Self Released/Taxi Driver Records

Black Magic Man - Track Listing

1.Angela 04:57
2.Lying on Iron 04:15
3.Black Magic Man 03:49
4.Slave of Grief 05:35

Members:

Virginia Monti

Bio:

Psychedelic Witchcraft was born by the hands of the ancient gods of Blues and Doom . Living through the imaginary of Occult and Witchcraft, with psychedelic colors and emotions. Inspired by the sounds and the pictures of an almost lost Era.

Review:

I've been listening to Psychedelic Witchcraft's debut EP – Black Magic Man – for some time now. It's a 70s style Classic, Hard Rock. Retro Rock. Doom Metal and Occult Rock kind of thing. It's created by one hugely talented individual – Virginia – though she goes by the name of Mia on this album. Mia is a demonic possessed doom metal soul siren on this EP. Mia's vocals are mesmerizing.

Black Magic Man is packed full of demonic soul with Mia playing some haunting doomy riffs especially on the EP's first two tracks – Angela and Lying On Iron. The EP goes from classic 70s hard rocking doom on the opening track of Angela to a more reflective and a psychedelic soulful affair of Lying On Iron.

Psychedelic Witchcraft have created an EP full of bewitching passion and hard-rocking riffs to match. The standout track has to Black Magic Man. This song fuses Black Sabbath classic Doom with traces of Psych Occult Rock that wouldn't go amiss from Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats. It has a slight folk-rock acoustic vintage vibe that I totally dig and it gives the song a real vintage quality around it.

This EP is kicking up a real buzz within the Doom/Stoner Metal community and it's not hard to see why. It's a stunning release from a band/solo artist that I want to hear more from. Mia has proven she has the talent and drive to go a long way with Psychedelic Witchcraft. Check it out. Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Black Magic Man is available to buy digitally now. A Vinyl Release will be released soon by the good folks at Taxi Driver Records.

Words by Steve Howe

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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Fulgora - ‘Stratagem’ (Album Review)




Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 24/03/2015
Label: Housecore Records

‘Stratagem’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

1. Source
2. Splinter
3. Risen
4. Artifice
5. Design
6. Crutch
7. Meridian

Fulgora is:

B. L. LaMew | Guitar, Vocals
John Jarvis | Bass
Adam Jarvis | Drums
Sparky Voyles | Guitar (live)

Review:


Fulgora is likely to get some extra ears and eyeballs even before anyone hears it, with Adam and John Jarvis of Pig Destroyer being the rhythm section of the band, even if Fulgora is pretty different from Pig Destroyer musically. In reality, aside from sharing a bassist and drummer, the only connections Fulgora and Pig Destroyer share are being thoroughly pissed off and being flush with savage riffs.  ‘Stratagem’ has a considerable hardcore influence, most strongly represented in guitarist/vocalist B.L. LaMew’s throat-grating shout. Musically, Fulgora are a frenzied blend of grind, death metal and hardcore, splicing the musical DNA of Nostromo, Napalm Death and Cryptopsy circa ‘Whisper Supremacy’. With ‘Stratagem’ clocking in at nineteen minutes, Fulgora don’t waste any time. While this is listed as a full length, it’s only a full length in the way that Assück’s ‘Misery Index’ is considered a full length.

The short run time might be to Fulgora’s advantage, as there’s a lot to take in, even in such a short period of time. Taking ‘Artifice’ as an example for the whole album, you’ll hear a mixture of convulsive drums and guitar bends, blistering grindcore blasts, hacking palm muted guitar riffs and even more besides. There are brief doses of atmosphere and melody to serve as reprieve here and there, but otherwise you’re largely in for variations on similar musical themes over the the 7 tracks on offer.

What Fulgora do, they do as well as anyone going right now, but I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I’m hoping for a bit more variety from future releases. Whether that comes in the form of wider variation in tempo, or expanding the different emotional tones the guitars work with, or maybe trying some different vocal techniques would do the trick, though traditional singing would likely be a bad fit. ‘Stratagem’ is an excellent foundation to build from though, make no mistake about it.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a CD/LP copy here


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