Saturday, 1 October 2016

REVIEW: Watchtower - “Concepts of Math: Book One” (EP)

By Theron Moore 
 
Album Type: EP
Date Released: 07/10/2016
Label: Prosthetic Records

 
The guitars crunch, the vocals bite, and the band chemistry shines through on each song, almost as if they know what each other’s gonna do before they do it. A near perfect record, which for Watchtower, is pretty much par for the course.
 
 
“Concepts of Math: Book One” CD//DD//LP Track Listing
 
1). M-Theory Overture (3:38)
2). Arguments Against Design (4:12)
3). Technology Inaction (6:20)
4). The Size Of Matter (4:51)
5). Mathematica Calculis (9:54)
 
The Review:
 
A new Watchtower record?  Well, please, don’t mind if I do!  “Concepts of Math:  Book One” combines Watchtower’s recent digital only release with a brand new song – “Mathematica Calculis.” 
 
There’s so much hard rock / metallic precision with songs on “Concepts…” it’s almost like watching surgery from an observational booth, or, watching engineers and architects create schematics.  This is the record Dream Theater wishes it could make, because it rides that jammin’ line of just enough rock to satisfy the metal heads and just enough noodly, technicality to satiate the prog heads.  Watchtower nail geometric rock n’ roll with a calculus bullseye, right on target.  And by god they do. Every time.
 
My complaint:  The record is only five songs.  Yeah, I know this is a combo release but Watchtower needs a new full length, a proper full length.  The first song, “M Theory Overture,” is an instrumental, and although I generally don’t connect with instrumentals, this one’s laser perfect.  The second song “Arguments Against Design” bring vocals into the mix and this is where it gets interesting.  Will the vocals take away from the mechanized (in a good way) machinations of how on point the band is musically?  Answer:  No.
 
The vocals complement the music and give it that well deserved metal bite it screams out for.  Again, this is where Dream Theater fails and Watchtower succeeds.  Watchtower isn’t afraid to bring the rock and find a way to properly inject just enough metal to not throw off the delicate balance of each song. And balance is crucial with prog. 
 
Go too much in one direction, or the other, and you risk either losing the audience or ruining the song.  Doesn’t happen here.  Watchtower gets it.  They understand the art as well as the science required to achieve this.  The guitars crunch, the vocals bite, and the band chemistry shines through on each song, almost as if they know what each other’s gonna do before they do it. A near perfect record, which for Watchtower, is pretty much par for the course.  You need to check this out…
 
“Concepts of Math: Book One” is available here
 
Band info: facebook
 
FFO: Voivod, Vektor, Spastic Ink, Blotted Science

ALBUM REVIEW: Mortillery - "Shapeshifter"

By: Theron Moore
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 27/05/2016
Label: Napalm Records

 

 
“Shapeshifter” finds the band firing on all cylinders, really attacking, sinking their teeth into each and every song. “Shapeshifter” shows growth, depth and progression.  I think it’s safe to say they broke the mold with this record.
 
 
“Shapeshifter” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1). Radiation Sickness
2). Age of Stone
3). Bullet
4). Mantis
5). Black Friday
6). Wendigo
7). At the Gates
8). Torture
9). Shapeshifter
 
The Review:
 
Love Mortillery.  Love this record, disc number three for the band.  It’s become a regular staple in my playlist at the gym.  Shapeshifter” is energy defined.  I dig retro thrash when it’s done right and for the right reasons.  Dust Bolt’s new record is a great example of this.  Old school as musical fashion doesn’t work for me.  Mortillery attacks this sound with a vengeance and makes it all their own.  This is denim and leather metal, fist in the air.  And Canada with their beer and metal, add Mortillery to the list of great Canuck bands – Exciter, Zimmer’s Hole and 3 Inches of Blood.
 
I should say that there’s a big similarity between Mortillery and 3 Inches of Blood, vocal-wise, but that’s ok, I’ll take that.  What I like about this band is that I feel like they’ve “become” with this record, that is, Mortillery found their style and perfected the hell out of it.  Tight is an understatement. 
 
It’s not thrash for the sake of thrash or speed metal because it’s expected, these songs are well crafted and rock out the way metal should sound.  Shapeshifter” finds the band firing on all cylinders, really attacking, sinking their teeth into each and every song.  Retro Thrash” or “Old School Metal” can be something of a niche genre.  Shapeshifter” shows growth, depth and progression.  I think it’s safe to say they broke the mold with this record.
 
“Radiation Sickness” and “Black Friday” are stand out songs for me.  Because I can see this band touring with Exodus or Nuclear Assault back in the day, jamming these songs live.  The record itself, “Shapeshifter,” has a big sound to it, a live sound showcasing Mortillery at their crossover best.  Keep an eye on this band.  Nukem, Dust Bolt, Mortillery.  The new big three of this genre.
 
Shapeshifter” is available now
 
Band info: official | facebook
 
FFO: Nukem. Dust Bolt, Exodus, Nuclear Assault

“And the earth will be destroyed with undulations of fuzz part II:” An Interview with Dreich & Album Stream


 
Dreich hail from different corners of the globe and were united in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2015.  Dreich is an expression of the suffering of the human condition on this mortal coil. The oath was sworn and the allegiance is kept by four wretched souls brought together by forces unknown to summon, the bleak, the heavy, the horrid, the animalistic, the energy and beauty within darkness.  In sonic ritual Dreich conjure hypnotic rhythms and entrance their fiendish victims and recent committed their first aural rituals to wax in the form of a split release with Irish fuzz merchants Mares of Diomedes .

On September 16th 2016, Heavy Earth Records was the vessel for which this release was bestowed upon the unsuspecting world, a release of bone rattling doom that is on par with the best in the genre.   Following on from the recent premiere of the Mares of Diomende tune “Earth Destroyer”, today we present the second part of our doubled headed interview, with the formal introduction of Dreich and a full stream of this gargantuan release.  So let the ritual begin.  Purchase the album on cassette, vinyl or digital formats here

SL: Can you give us an insight into how you started playing music, leading up to the formation of Dreich?

 
Dreich was the marriage of two different concepts/projects. The former project had been a slightly different line up and the latter was to be a project between our vocalist and guitarist, by forging the two together Dreich was sprung as we found our mutual gravitation towards the darker sonic realms.

SL: For folks unfamiliar with your band, are there any bands on the scene past and present that you would use as a reference point band to describe your band, and is there any bands that continue to inspire you and push you to try new things?


Dreich: As a band we’re shaped by our life experiences in a forsaken world, our different cultural backgrounds and our former projects. We have roots in many different scenes from death metal to D.I.Y. punk and listen to a vast variety of music definitely not limited to sludge and doom.


We don’t really like to frame our sound around that of other musicians. We’re a melting pot of influences, genres and are directing ourselves around what we feel, not what we know of other bands. Surely there are influences or other musician’s people may feel we share themes/sounds with, however Dreich never explicitly set out with such intentions, musically


 
SL: What can you tell us about your upcoming record and where do you feel it sits within the context current music scene.

Dreich: If we must frame our music we would describe Dreich as a band mostly rooted in Doom Metal with nods to death metal and black metal. We describe ourselves and our concept as Bleak Metal. We are always experimenting, progressing and evolving as a band and we are currently amidst writing our first full length release, but with these tracks from the split we have found our musical approach as a band.

SL: How was the mood in the camp going into the recording of the record?

Dreich: Although it was the dark days of Scandinavian winter, as a band we went into the studio feeling hungry to sink our teeth into our first recording. We play dark and heavy music; however, we still find much enjoyment within that, as a family who share that. We collaborated with Ballade Studios and we’re really happy with what was achieved there.


SL: What can fans look forward to from you over the next 12 months? How is your schedule shaping up?


Dreich: The next 12 months is  shaping up to be even more intense than those preceding it and we welcome that. We have the split with Mares Of Diomedes being released, some shows we're humbled to be playing, continuing with the writing process and then recording our first full length. We’ve had requests to play in both Europe and beyond so we look forward to embarking on an exciting year.


Cheers // Skål // Sláinte!!!



Band info: facebook || bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: Electric Citizen - "Higher Time"

By: Jake Wallace
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 13/05/2016
Label: Riding Easy Records




 

‘Higher Time’ is a sincere reflection of a band that has been dedicated to having their own bespoke brand of ‘70s psychedelic rock. Driving riffs, solid rhythms, flawless vocals and explosive solos, this album is a superb follow-up to their debut release and shows how far the band have come since then. They have made this style of music appealing and popular in the modern day and show no signs of slowing down for the future.

 
 
“Higher Time” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1. Evil
2. Social Phobia
3. Misery Keeper
4. Devils in Passing Time
5. Golden Mean
6. Higher Time
7. Ghost of Me
8. Natural Law
9. Crux
10. Two Hearted Woman
 
The Review:
 
Cincinnati 4-piece psych rockers Electric Citizen have released their second record, ‘Higher Time’, on RidingEasy Records as a follow up to their 2014 debut release 'Sateen'. As with the first album, it was recorded at The Diamonds studio in Cincinnati by Brian Olive.
 
The album kicks off with ‘Evil’ and straight away you can tell why they chose this particular track name. Laura Dolan’s vocals are absolutely fantastic for this style of music and having a husband-wife combination with her husband Ross provides a unique kind of musical connection. The main riff is nice and chuggy and as the vocals blend in with the killer riffs, Laura’s voice is very reminiscent of Jillian Taylor’s vocal work in Philadelphia’s Ruby the Hatchet.
 
The next track ‘Social Phobia’ is some straight up Sabbathian riffage and the female vocals work incredibly well which makes you wonder what might’ve transpired if Ozzy had been a woman! Around the 2min 40 mark Ross unleashes into a ripping solo with some otherworldly sounds and raw talent oozing from his playing.  Misery Keeper’, has a solid, driving riff throughout with some very interesting sections, drawing influence from a number of directions.
 
The first band that spring to mind are Dublin’s Mother Mooch who have a strikingly similar style and this combination of ‘70s style heavy rock riffs, psychedelic lyrics and female vocals is proving to be a heavily desired sub-genre of music due to the success of bands such as Ruby the Hatchet, Blood Ceremony and Purson in recent years. Electric Citizen have defined their sound and no matter what they turn their hand to, they are producing top notch psychedelic rock. Tracks 4 and 5 are packed with superb riffs and more soul-searing guitar solos from Ross.
 
The title track ‘Higher Time’ has a fairly simple structure but the raw power of Laura’s vocals combined with the sonic atmospheres lurking in the backdrop creates a very absorbing environment. After the slightly creepy spoken word interlude in the middle, the riffs wind back in and Ross launches off into another relentless guitar solo. The style of his solos are perfect for this style as it’s not taking away from the music or distracting you with elaborate guitar parts. It all just gels very nicely in a cohesive blend and the instruments all compliment each other as well as complementing Laura’s vocals.
 
Ghost of Me’ takes the tempo up a notch and they deliver the goods with some thrashing riffs and a slightly ominous tone from the keyboards combined with the entrancing vocals. ‘Natural Law’ is another fine example of how the band have defined their sound and set in stone their vision for both image and musical style. Ross’s solo playing is on fire in this track and his diversity as a rhythm and lead player really shows. ‘Crux’ has that swinging occult rock feel, it’s what I imagine lute players in medieval imbibing emporiums would’ve been playing if they had access to electric guitars, fuzz pedals and amp stacks. The final track ‘Two Hearted Woman’ begins with another master-crafted riff and it seems like Ross Dolan’s barrel of riffs has no end. The organ sounds are great in this track, layering a nice thick spread of sound among the rhythm section. The last section has the same stomping riff ascending up and up into a crescendo and the curtain falls bringing a close to an extremely solid album.

 
Higher Time’ is a sincere reflection of a band that has been dedicated to having their own bespoke brand of ‘70s psychedelic rock. Driving riffs, solid rhythms, flawless vocals and explosive solos, this album is a superb follow-up to their debut release and shows how far the band have come since then. They have made this style of music appealing and popular in the modern day and show no signs of slowing down for the future.

 
Higher Time” is available here
 
Band info: bandcamp || facebook


FFO: Ruby The Hatchet, Blood Ceremony, Purson

Friday, 30 September 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Dead - "Untitle"

By: TJ Kliebhan

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 30/09/2016
Label: We Empty Rooms

 

 
“Untitle”track CD//DD//LP listing
1). Grizzly
2). Don’t Pray For Us
3). The Kid Was All Wong
4). Turning Screws
5). Line Em’ All Up
 
The Review: 
Sludge metal has not run out of ideas just yet. On its surface, the Australian duo’s latest “Untitle” could be accused of lacking color. The tones and atmosphere recall acts like The Melvins or Big Business, a sound hundreds of bands ape. What sets DEAD apart is their pacing. The arrangements are exquisitely layered incrementally, so rather than relying on a droning effect DEAD elects subtle changes in sound or effects added one at a time to build an ensemble of punishing heaviness. Their latest record displays an ambitious band on a goal to prove how multi-faceted they are.
 
Untitle” is album two of a four LP set the band is amusingly calling “The Trilogy.” It is not abundantly clear how “Untitle” relates to the first record, “Captains of Industry”, but the release continues DEAD’s brand of sludge metal accompanied by dark abstract themes. The album opens with “Grizzly”, a track that encompasses what the band does best while foreshadowing the record as a whole. The track begins softly and treads toward a noisy climax one sound at a time. The two halves of the song could not be more dissonant. While the first half uses an eloquently picked guitar and whispered vocals the second half utilizes shouted double-tracked vocals, a buzz saw of a bassline, and booming snare. DEAD has a knack for sounding methodical for one minute and completely unhinged the next.
 
The best example of this formula is on the last track, “Line ‘Em All Up”. As the minutes pass, more and more haunting noises creep toward the surface of the mix while the vocal harmonies drone on. The track’s low frequencies grumble at the bottom while the high pitched screeching guitars aggravate any soothing repetitive qualities that the bass and vocals provide. The tracks sandwiched between the aforementioned vary with elements of drone, noise, and heavy riffs. The band transitions through these sounds seamlessly and combines them for a powerful overall sound. The arrangements on “Untitle” are so meticulously well-crafted and varied it allows all five tracks to distinguish themselves clearly while contributing to an obvious overall sonic theme.
 
On “Untitle”, DEAD attempts a little bit of everything and works to see how they can make these different sounds cohesive. Similar to a release like “Lysol” or “Amplifier Worship” there are a lot of different elements and genres explored on a track by track basis and DEAD do all of them pretty well. Ambitious releases can sometimes feel bloated or disjointed, but DEAD avoid this by keeping the tracks relatively short (no track eclipses ten minutes) and track list short as well. All of the material feels essential to this release and contributes to the greater whole which is a dirty, ostentatious, diverse release.
 
Untitle” is available here
 
Band info: facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: 30,000 Monkies - "I Ate Myself to Grow Twice As Big"

By: Jay Hampshire
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 16/04/2016
Label: ConSouling Sounds

 

 
 
Noisy, experimental and not without its moments of bristling intensity, “I Ate Myself …” is a record that piques interest with seven chaotic, constantly shifting tracks bursting with a myriad of influences, underpinned by a borderline disregard for the safe confines of genre.
 
 
“I Ate Myself to Grow Twice As Big” CD//DD//LP track listing  
 
1). Melæna
2). Coproliet
3). Coccinelle
4). Monuntainesque II
5). Apollo 10
6). Mountainesque I
7). Juice
 
The Review
 
Belgian noisesmiths 30,000 Monkies return with their second studio album ‘I Ate Myself To Grow Twice As Big’, seven chaotic, constantly shifting tracks bursting with a myriad of influences, underpinned by a borderline disregard for the safe confines of genre.
 
‘Melæna’ kicks in with hoarse, anguished vocals set in amongst cycling, fuzzed out riffing. It all seems far off, echoing, but the drums usher in a main riff composed of heavy tom work and whining, jarring chords. Muscular, overdriven bass raises its head, and the track alternates between these two patterns before dropping into a hardcore infused run that’s shaken up with heavy, frantic kick work and maddening guitar lines. It’s chaotic, a tad sloppy, but wonderfully organic.
 
Coproliet’ is a tumbling rush of density and urgency, military snare building then stopping suddenly, bright, fragile, strummed chords replacing it before being replaced in turn with a mass of groaning, feedback laden guitars. Coccinelle’ is a roiling lump of sub-doom guitars and unsettling high-pitched vocals, chords growing in strength, well-spaced and threatening. The atonal chants build by layers, and it grows into a more upbeat affair, picking up pace, locked in tight, exhausting itself before lapsing into meditative noise.
 
‘Mountainesque II’ drives from the get go, enraged well-bottom shouts and thumping drums powering through a thicket of tremolo guitars and whining feedback, bleak and paranoid, the crescendo of a track stretched far beyond normal limits. ‘Apollo 10’ swells with ‘radio’ noise, coming in waves, spreading unease, punctured by haunting shouts, before wild, scraping guitars and clattering drums throw things for a loop, before things break apart with whining noise and echoing, overlapping vox loops.
 
Mountainesque I’ is like a man railing against being trapped in an 80’s film score, reverb drenched shouts fighting against rushing synth layers, drums and guitar occasionally raising their heads to belt out grinding chords. Closer Juice’ kicks in with dreamy synth and slow, pounding drums. Strident, barked vocals come in, along with big, ringing chords, before everything falls down a spiralling rabbit hole of grinding guitars, descending drums and sweeping synths. It’s intense, dramatic, and bleak stuff, which is offset by the tracks’ zenith – layers of bright, ghostly synths that evoke the slightly unsettling climax of a psychedelic space opera.
 
Noisy, experimental and not without its moments of bristling intensity, “I Ate Myself …” is a record that piques interest with its cleverly constructed tracks. But, the self-same tracks struggle to find true individual identity, to stand apart from one another fully, which isn’t helped by a recording that lacks overall dynamic impact, seeing everything played safely towards an aural middle ground. A solid enough release, it sadly won’t leave a lasting impression on all but the most ardent noise fan.
“I Ate Myself To Grow Twice As Big” is available here
 
 Band info: facebook || bandcamp

TRACK PREMIERE: Order of the Owl take a blessed "Hell Ride"


Unbroken by way of pure unrelenting tone, Order of the Owl are no strangers to pushing the boundaries of their Atlanta roots. In the years since the debut album, “In the Noon of the After Day”, they have worked to push themselves into more than one genre of talent. The trio had replaced drummer Corey Pallon, with Demonaut basher Dwayne Jones, along with Casey Yarbourough on guitars and Brent Anderson crooning his demonic vocals and bass.

Their new album, “We Have Come to Collect our Crown” opens the listener to an expanse of new atmospheric layered psychedelic brutality. Engineered by Josh Lamar, in their hometown of Atlanta, Order of the Owl have stayed true to their influences and cross into doom grooves and sludge laden riffs. The album also features Juan Montoya of Killer Be Killed on Guitar solos on “Resurrection”, “Wood Valley”, and “Golden Dawn”.

The first single, “Hell Ride”, which we are exclusively streaming below exudes a swaying groove that lurches back and forth like a pure Cocaine Super Demon. The unrelenting drums of Dwayne Jones, is a driving force laying the foundation of the song, while the shredding of Casey Yarbourough opens the gates across the river Styx. This new album has an edge that crests on their journey atop the mountain to take their crowns, as they have surely earned them with this album. Check out this mammoth track below and the album is available to preorder here


Band info: facebook