Friday, 17 February 2017

6 NEW BANDS: Nikos Mixas' 666 Pack Review for February 2017

 The 666 Pack Review
It’s the February edition of The Sludgelord’s 666 Pack Review and will there be love in the air???  Each and every month we handpick 6 review submissions and critique them by only using 6 words, then we rate them on a scale from 1 to 666!  Check out our awesome rating scale below: 

1 – You should give it up and pay more attention to your significant other. 
2 – You know those heart shaped candies?  This one says, meh…
3 – You could try seducing The Sludgelord more with dinner by candlelight. 
4 – There’s a spark here…tell us more… 
5 – Your Cupid just nailed The Sludgelord with about 20 arrows.
666 - The Sludgelord is head over heels in love with you!

It’s the month of romance, but not all will be loved.  The Sludgelord will listen to several dozen of bands throughout the year but only some will be of his liking.  The Sludgelord is a picky listener…and doesn’t care what you think of his opinions….

1). Uhna  - “Betingad Anstandighet” (EP) – Malmo, Sweden    Rating: 5

Uhna want to hear some more!

2). Gyrophares de la Haine  - (Demo 2016) – Rouen, France   Rating: 2

Loser! Loser! Loser! Loser! Loser! Loser!

3).Off The Gallows  - “Cut Yourself” – Siegen, Germany   Rating: 2

I might start cutting my ears...

4).Unearthly Child - “Awaken” – Jacksonville, FL   Rating: 3

Almost as thick as Florida humidity.

5).Insonus - “Nemo Optavit Vivere” - Pescara, Italy   Rating: 4

Black metal warms our black heart.

6). Dawn on Sedna  - “Our Sky Has Changed – Viareggio, Italy   Rating: 6

Fuck yes!  Italy rules this February!

ALBUM REVIEW: Unearthly Trance - "Stalking the Ghost"

By: Chris Bull

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/02/2017
Label: Relapse Records

“Stalking the Ghost” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Into the Spiral
2). Dream State Arsenal
3). Scythe
4). Famine
5). Lion Strength
6). Invisible Butchery
7). The Great Cauldron
8). In The Forest’s Keep

The Review:

There are few bands to which the phrase 'criminally underrated' is aptly applied as Unearthly Trance. Arguably spawning the 'blackened sludge/blackened doom' genres, they remain a hidden gem in extreme heavy music that only certain individuals appreciate.  7 years have passed since the superb 'V' with breaking up, 2 Serpentine Path albums, a few Howling Wind releases, a few other projects, a reunion, fatherhood, Thralldom reforming and releasing music coming in the meantime. The question that needed to be asked; will all this time dampen the creative fires that burn within the trident?

Fear not! As 'Into The Spiral', the album's premier track goes straight for the neck muscles with its pulsating, blackened groove, it's a superb start to the album and adds an element of optimism. 'Dream State Arsenal' is more about the gravity; crafting a ludicrously catchy, yet so crushingly heavy riff punctuated by Darren Verni's always exceptional drumming, it's a definite pick up point to where 'V' left off.  'Scythe' crawls like a venomous snake, before striking and infecting your blood stream with its glorious riffs and stop/start rhythm and I'm reminded a little of 2006's 'Electrocution' in stylistic delivery.

Anyone who has heard 'Famine' will know how thick and heavy the guitar sound is, with Ryan Lipynsky's unique riffs sounding apocalyptic yet crystal clear. I heard 'Lion Strength' on a YouTube video of UT playing live, to me it sounded like some of their earlier work...but on record, it's a natural progression from 'V', with Lipynsky providing both the throaty, melodic vocal passages, echoey whispers and his traditional gnarly growls. 'Invisible Butchery' starts with some atmospheric noise before the death growls bellow out like lava spewing from a cavernous volcano. It's the slowest song on the album and will please the doom heads with its subtle nods to Winter and Autopsy. The Penultimate track 'The Great Cauldon' is a 9 minute epic which sweeps through several genres, starting out with head swinging trad-metal and descending into blackened doom, albeit melodic and calculated. As the track travels along, it bares similarities to 'The Scum Is In Orbit' with Lipynsky's trademark croons and guitar solo near the song's conclusion. Excellent stuff. 'In The Forest’s Keep' is the final song and is more of an atmospheric outro than a full song with melancholic guitar passages played over a harsh rumbling before a sample is heard, with added delay over the top. It's a fitting finale to this beautifully crafted album.

To say I had been eagerly anticipating this album would be an enormous understatement; UT are one of my favourite bands and they have rarely, if ever, put a foot wrong along their path. Hopefully, this album will garner the attention and success they deserve. A triumphant return? That and then some.

“Stalking the Ghost” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Thursday, 16 February 2017

TRACK PREMIERE: Space Witch take their brand of psychedelic doom to the next level with "Hex Solaris"

Space Witch are a psychedelic stoner/doom band that draw on influences from 70's prog and psychedelia.The band formed in Stoke-on-Trent, England, UK in 2007 and consist of Darren Lee Rowlands (Guitars and founder member), Daniel Mansfield (drums), Peter Callaghan (Vocals and Electronics) and Tomas Cairn (Bass).  In 2008 they released their first demo, a 2 track self-titled affair and quickly followed it up with a stream of gigs in the UK underground. The demo was followed up in 2011 with 'Resurrection' a 7 track demo which included 3 live recordings.

In 2013 they released their first EP 'The Alchemy Paradox'-A 3 track mini album which was released by defunct Bristol based label Cosmic Tomb.  The band followed this up with a number of shows and festival appearances across UK and saw them embark on the 'Hang the Witch' tour. In 2014 the band released a split with the UK Doom band Trollkraftt called 'Wytchkraft' and their self-titled first full length (a double album) released as a joint venture with labels HeviSike Records, Fear Me Music and Orchestrated Dystopia Records. The album was critically acclaimed and was chosen as Roadburn Festival's album of the day.

To follow the album up, the band toured the UK as well as playing Norway and headlining a festival in Edinburgh which featured on a underground documentary about the Edinburgh scene. Since that time Space Witch have supported bands such as Conan and Mars Red Sky before taking time to write their 2nd full length, 'ARCANUM' which will be released in Spring 2017 on HeviSike Records.

The Sludgelord has been fortunate to have heard “ARCANUM”  and make no mistake when we say that that it will undoubtedly be the doom record of 2017, with Space Witch further developing their sound, but retaining all the elements that have made Space Witch one of the premier bands on the scene.  With a release date yet to be finalised, the wait to debut new music from their monolithic face melter is over, with one of the band’s finest and suffocating compositions to date.  I give you “Hex Solaris” by Space Witch, but not as you know it captain.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

REVIEW: Sleep - "The Clarity" (EP)

By: Jake Wallace

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 10/02/2017
Label: Southern Lord

“This track sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a huge robotic entity slowly trudging through space. ‘The Clarity’ is exactly what every Sleep fan wanted to hear after being dormant for such a long time. If these guys can pull an album out of the bag in the near future with anything remotely close to the calibre of power involved in this, then we are in for a serious slab of mind-altering, heavy doom.”

“The Clarity” DD//LP track listing:

1). The Clarity

The Review:

Sleep. The undisputed lords of doom. Ever since ‘Dopesmoker’ was released back in 2003, enthusiasts of monolithic, weed-steeped music have been crying out for more new material from the holy trio of Al Cisneros, Matt Pike and Jason Roeder. 

In 2014, it was announced that Sleep would be releasing a single entitled ‘The Clarity’ via the Adult Swim Singles Program, recorded by Neurosis’ Noah Landis and mastered by John Golden. It was pummelling, it was cataclysmic, it was tripped out and it was fucking stoned to the backbone. 

Now, in 2017, Sleep have re-issued ‘The Clarity’ via Southern Lord and this time round it has been recut by Adam Gonsalves/Telegraph Mastering and pressed onto a kick ass 180 gram 12-inch vinyl.

‘The Clarity’ begins with a series of morse-code sounding noises, transmitting some form of ethereal communication from a deep void in space. Suddenly, we are met with the crushing sound of the trio in full force as the track takes off and the Weedian proceeds. The nostalgic sound of Al Cisneros’ low-frequency chanting breaks through the extremely dense wall of sound provided by Matt Pike’s astounding tower of Orange amplifiers. This is also the first piece of material with Neurosis’ Jason Roeder on drums and he has completely found his place in the universe’s heaviest trio. 

Around the 2:20 mark, the track breaks down into more tripped out otherworldly sounds via Pike. I saw Sleep play this track in London back in July and this section blew my mind out the back of my head. No matter what anyone tells you or how sure you think you are… get earplugs before you see Sleep. It’s a no-brainer… meaning you will cease to have an encephalon should you disregard this advice. 

The lyrical themes of this track are very expectedly dominant on marijuana. The short, deep chants are a perfect compliment to the riffs with lines such as ‘Stoned chariot ascending, Smokes the true believer’ and ‘Heavy dry weight, hasheeshian smoked relief’. It really isn’t that difficult to see who the target audience are. 

Around the 5:20 mark Pike lays down some Sabbath-worshipping lead guitar licks and the solo actually comes across very cleanly compared to some of his earlier lead parts in the infamous ‘Holy Mountain’ back in 1992. This track sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a huge robotic entity slowly trudging through space. The sustain from the guitar is insane and Cisneros’ bass is flawlessly hefty as always. 

‘The Clarity’ is exactly what every Sleep fan wanted to hear after being dormant for such a long time. If these guys can pull an album out of the bag in the near future with anything remotely close to the calibre of power involved in this, then we are in for a serious slab of mind-altering, heavy doom.

Sleep headline Desertfest London and Berlin this year along with Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona and another performance at Psycho Las Vegas in August. 

“The Clarity” is available to preorder/buy here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

VIDEO PREMIERE: Greek post sludge goliaths Allochiria debut "Lifespotting"

ALLOCHIRIA is a post-sludge band from Athens, Greece. They were formed in 2008, and released a self-titled EP in 2010. In January 2014, they released their first full-length album,” Omonoia”.

In December 2016, ALLOCHIRIA joined forces with Art of Propaganda for the release of the band’s second album, “Throes”. Having shared the stage with Deafheaven, Year of No Light, Altar of Plagues, and many more, as well as undertaking their first European tour in March 2015, ALLOCHIRIA 's live experience becomes readily apparent across the vast expanses of “Throes”.

Although their music has often been likened to Neurosis, ISIS, Amenra, and Cult of Luna, ALLOCHIRIA assert their own identity in the post-sludge realm with their deep exploration of very human themes. With “Throes”, its theme explores man as a social being, the corruption that defines him in modern societies, his vain struggles, painful routine, and the effect this has in the world around him.

“Throes” retains the same concept as “Omonoia”, which has man in its main area of interest. But this time, ALLOCHIRIA's pursuit of that concept is angrier and more direct, making for an even more intense listen. Speaking directly to mankind, “Throes” expresses anger, pain, and agony in a higher degree; living beings are being killed, drowned, destroyed, and left helpless, and the rest either cause this or witness it. We mourn a little bit, and then go on with our lives - we are hopeless and weak. This is “Throes“, and ALLOCHIRIA are guiding its maelstrom.

Today you can check out the face melting new track “Lifespotting” which you can check out below.  “Throes” is available to preorder/buy here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

11 IS ONE LOUDER: St. Louis stoner rockers Spacetrucker debut "New Pubes" & pick their Top 5 Stoner rock/metal records

St Louis's SPACETRUCKER will re-issue their debut album “Launch Sequence” on CD, just in time for their spring tour. The album consists of seven tracks that combine stoner rock with the heavy grooves of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.  Despite the fact that the band has been in existence for a relatively short time, they have opened for bands like Jucifer, The Obsessed, and Karma to Burn. Today we’re excited to debut the opening track from the album, entitled “New Pubes”, not only that we hooked up with the band to ask if they could list their Top 5 stoner rock & stoner metal albums, as we take our weekly trip to the extreme, by cranking it to 11.  Why do we go to 11,  because “It’s one louder, isn’t it?”

Kyuss - Sky Valley

Perhaps it's because this was literally the first real stoner rock record I heard, to me it is THE stoner rock record; strange and heavy sounding with a psychedelic twinge and immensely strong riffage. I still remember my first listen of it; being one of my first forays into non-commercial music, I wasn't even sure what to do with it but it was the most unique thing I'd heard and has been hugely influential since. I continue to blast it regularly while cruising in the van, clenching my fist and shaking it with every syllable as I rasp out my best Garcia impression.

Sleep - “Dopesmoker”

I first heard “Dopesmoker” in the "Jerusalem" format, divided up into separate tracks. It blew my fucking mind anyway, but once I learned of the struggle involved and intent to get an uncompromised version of the real single track full-length album released, I respected this weedian saga even more. Every aspect of this from analog album production of a track of this length to executing this song live demands respect. Any true riff worshipper should consider it heresy to not hail to this album and its creators. 

Fu Manchu - “King of the Road”

The sunken mid range sound of the entire album marks it as a staple of stoner recording mentality, as well as the obvious driving force of fuzzed-out pentatonic riffs and a metronomic mountain of drums. For the gear head this particular album speaks volumes… defining the very clear association between enthusiasm for vintage machines and stoner rock. It has also become the undisputed theme music for a small sect of automobile enthusiasts: vanners. From the cover artwork to our anthem "Boogie Van", this is van jam number one. 

The Melvins – “A Senile Animal” 

They're difficult to pinpoint as solely stoner rock since the Melvins catalogue contains elements that range from totally bad ass chunky riffs and strong vocal harmonizing to drone noise and deranged octave shifts. This album made my list because it tends far towards the first two aspects like 1994's “Stoner Witch” but is especially mind warping being their first with the backing of Big Business members, adding a second drummer to increase the mad rhythm dynamics of their already incredible and unconventional Dale Crover.

Red Fang – “Murder the Mountains” 

The single "Wires" was my first listen, and while that track is a great straightahead highway rocker (and the video is highly amusing), every tune on this album is a kick in the nuts. Haunting lyrics and high contrast duelling vocalists are only the beginning; the drums are so dynamic I remember them like lyrics and the music is incredibly sludgy and brutish considering it is (the only album on this list) in standard tuning. Their deceptively simple approach to constructing ripping, writhing songs is the musical equivalent of Walter Sobchak's kidnapping resolution plan to "grab one of 'em and beat it out of him."

“Launch Sequence” is available buy here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: Woe - “Hope Attrition”

By: Conor O’Dea

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/03/2017
Label: Independent |

“This is music that is deeply rooted in darkness that still somehow manages to be transcendent and uplifting.  If you liked the incredible promise presented by “A Spell for the Death of Man”, this album exceeds it in every way. This is great metal, full stop.”

“Hope Attrition” DD track listing:

1). Unending Call of Woe
2). No Blood Has Honor
3). A Distant Epitaph
4). The Din of the Mourning
5). The Ones We Lost
6). Drown Us with Greatness
7). Abject in Defeat

The Review:

USBM has always been an interesting subgenre characterization for me. I have generally been of the school that geographies aren't exactly the most robust way to define a sound in a heavily globalized world. Labels like 'Cascadian', while lyrical and evocative, certainly extend beyond a specific geospatial location. Like all things boxed and categorized, we need to remind ourselves that while topographies may inspire certain sonic landscapes, the map is seldom the territory. Which is a very roundabout way of bringing me to the point that I do feel like there is something idiosyncratic in black metal that is made in America, but that something is very, very difficult to define. It is more like a visceral challenge to and disrespect for orthodoxy, movements, subgenres than anything tangible or even consciously intended. And this is neither borne of contrarian pretense nor some musical equivalent of obstinate defiance disorder: USBM bands make metal the way they want to. It is inflected and accented with the elements they choose and that's all there is to it.

Woe'sA Spell for the Death of Man” was a standout for me when released, and partially for these reasons, this was band that, for lack of a better description, sounded like themselves. Yes, you can hear their influences. Yes, you can see where the alchemy underpinning some of their ideas. But already in this debut, you can hear musicians keenly aware without fabricated neurosis of being overly self-conscious or possessed by self-conceit. They aren't trying or aiming for anything beyond that, and the results are savage and excellent. “Alone with our Failures” and “Wake in Mourning” are emblematic of this strong identity and musicianship. The promise of A Spell continued to bloom in sophomore effort “Quietly”, undramatically, but seemed to stagnate slightly in “Withdrawal”, which felt a little attenuated and listless by comparison. I can happily state that “Hope Attrition” is several steps beyond the debut and follow-up albums in both maturity and compositional excellence.

I have written a couple of times before on this blog about the importance of album cohesion, and this album has it in spades. Album opener “Unending Call of Woe” offers thick, mildly dissonant riffing, serving as the perfect introit for the conflagration that follows it. “No Blood Has Honor” has gone already as a song of the year pick for me, and I do not see it being bumped off the list. Anthemic, relentless, instantly memorable, it is the peak of an excellent album. “A Distant Epitaph” is a perfectly mournful acoustic interlude, but painfully short, given how beautiful it is. I would have liked to have seen this fleshed out a little more. Throughout the album, the raging but sorrowful melodicism of the second track sees expression in a variety of songs, which leads me to that strangest of black metal paradoxes: music that is deeply rooted in darkness that still somehow manages to be transcendent and uplifting. Leave it to black metal that emerged from New Jersey and grew up in New York to be as gritty as it is transformative. If you liked the incredible promise presented by “A Spell for the Death of Man”, this album exceeds it in every way. This is great metal, full stop

“Hope Attrition” is available to preorder/buy here. Vinyl will be available here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp