Friday, 22 September 2017

REVIEW: No Funeral & Livid - "No Funeral / Livid" (Split)

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Split LP
Date Released: 15/08/2017
Label: Live Fast Die Records


The combination of these two bands on one mammoth slab of wax is a marriage made in hell. No Funeral and Livid are definitely acts to check out now if you like it slow, heavy and desolate.

“No Funeral / Livid” Split LP//DD track listing:

1). No Funeral - Infection
2). No Funeral – Disease Brought By Depression
3). Livid – False Hope

The Review:

This split LP brings together two Minneapolis doom heavyweights united in snail-paced drudgery. No Funeral and Livid both deal in punishing, immersive doom delivered in contrasting styles.

No Funeral immediately establishes an air of quiet foreboding with the cold, bare introduction of “Infection”. Clean guitars are quickly drowned under a torrent of filthy sludge as the band rumble into a lumbering evil riff. There are slight increases in tempo as the track progresses but a grisly doom crawl is maintained throughout, somewhere between Iron Monkey’s belligerent spite and Unearthly Trance’s bleakest moments. The mood of hopelessness is heightened by the nasty dual vocals, particularly the harsh howls of despair near the start of second track “Disease Brought By Depression”. Here the band dive deeper into the well of misery, building to a harrowing climax where a vocal sample detailing the effects of heroin withdrawal skips and repeats as the track unravels into chaos.

Livid’s side of this split is a single 19 minute epic titled “False Hope”. The oppressive atmosphere of No Funeral’s offering remains but the sludge has been dialled back in favour of spacious dark psychedelia in the vein of Yob or early Pallbearer. There is a stark contrast on the vocal front too but Cole’s Benson’s clean, reverb-assisted delivery instils a similar level of dread via a different mechanism. Over the first half of the track the band wring maximum impact from a gloomy chord sequence before letting a huge riff unfurl out of the dirge and develop over the second half.

The combination of these two bands on one mammoth slab of wax is a marriage made in hell. No Funeral and Livid are definitely acts to check out now if you like it slow, heavy and desolate.

“No Funeral / Livid” is available here



Band info: No Funeral || Livid

ALBUM REVIEW: Usnea - "Portals Into Futility"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full length
Date Released: 05/09/2017
Label: Relapse Records



The guitars are thoroughly dissonant and murky, the bass is husky and drums voluminous. Then there are the vocals, which feel like they're being delivered with the sort of urgency of someone trapped at the bottom of a deep well. The whole composition of the record is just magnificent for doom fans.

“Portals into Futility” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Eidolons and the Increate
2. Lathe of Heaven
3. Demon Haunted World
4. Pyrrhic Victory
5. A Crown of Desolation

The Review:

Portland's Usnea is known and loved for a few things. These include its unique doom metal sound, ambitious concepts and sprawling music. Its 2014 four-song recording, "Random Cosmic Violence," clocked in at about an hour. Its self-titled 2013 debut contained two tracks on vinyl, with download code for two songs comprising 25 more minutes. And although the genre is rather renowned for its density, with "Portals into Futility" ticking in at just under an hour, Usnea demonstrates aptitude for music with a rare depth.

After its release, there were murmurs that "Random Cosmic Violence" did not deliver the oomph of Usnea's debut. Some of that clatter could well be chalked up to what follows promising acts that go from independent labels to big independents like Relapse. Critics pointed to a wilder vocal style in the debut sliding into a two-vocalist approach that could be seen as formulaic at turns. Exciting moments there were, but subtle questions amped up some of the tension.

"Portals into Futility" is a solid return to form for a young band widely expected to do great things. There are also hints of maturation for its songsmithing. Along with the longer tracks – two songs compose about half the playing time here – that allow this imaginative group some musical space  and are cuts that seem indicative of a crew that is open to test itself and the genre itself. Such courage is rather exhilarating, and makes for quite a frenzied trip.

Usnea's return starts with "Eidolons and the Increate," for which there is likely a fantastic backstory or other mythology. Heavy of the sludge, you may also notice some post-punk and funeral doom influences herein. Joel Williams and Justin Cory are back on vocal duties, and they seem far sharper this time around. They manage to keep the opener – at 12 minutes in length, you might ponder the wisdom of this kind of beginning – very dynamic. Usnea's bass and drums are a stand out early too. Credit the tight arrangement and what seems to be an evolution of Usnea's performance. Such advancement is to be expected for a group that sticks together after a few years. You similarly hear this progression in this next track, "Lathe of Heaven," a compact song that is a good example of why many have seen so much potential in Usnea. From a relaxed build with an almost Americana or desert vibe, Usnea plunges you into a far less hospitable place just before the three-minute mark. The guitars are thoroughly dissonant and murky, the bass is husky and drums voluminous. Then there are the vocals, which feel like they're being delivered with the sort of urgency of someone trapped at the bottom of a deep well. The whole composition is just magnificent for doom fans.

The terror continues with "Demon Haunted World" then to "Pyrrhic Victory," where the vocals alternate between Williams and Cory. If you enjoyed them together on "Random Cosmic Violence," you will most assuredly find their work on the latest leaps and bounds better. The vocal pairing feels more clearly formed and executed on the latest. If you did not love it last time, you may well be won over by Usnea's growth. The production on "Portals of Futility" is flawless across the board, and lyrically and vocally there is no exception. This is top-shelf doom metal sure to excite fans.

The album's closing, "A Crown of Desolation," is arguably the best, and the most perplexing, cut. The folk-flecked chords hurl the listener headlong into a thick wall of guitar. As noted, Usnea is not afraid to test itself, and this song breaks away from its characteristic vocals to offer ghostly choruses and ultraheavy bass lines that press hard on your mind. Over the track's 19-plus minutes, you will catch the aforementioned folk chords and choruses again, and more of what makes the quartet so good, and a few departures from what you've heard throughout. Finishing with a standard doom track with slow guitars and howling vocals might have been a perfectly satisfying way to wrap. Instead you get a song befitting its place at the conclusion of the recording.


"Portals of Futility" is available here



Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Satyricon - "Deep Calleth Upon Deep"

By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/09/2017
Label: Napalm Records


 ‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’ is something of a spiritual successor to ‘Rebel Extravaganza’ in that the goal appears to have been to take an established sound and create the weirdest, artsiest version of it they could and there is evidence of a sweeping creative resurgence throughout the album as a whole.


‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Midnight Serpent
2. Blood Cracks Open The Ground
3. To Your Brethren In The Dark
4. Deep Calleth Upon Deep
5. The Ghost Of Rome
6. Dissonant
7. Black Wings And Withering Gloom
8. Burial Rite

The Review:

For most of you reading this; Satyricon requires no introduction. The band was among the most popular in Norwegian black metal dating back to the mid 90s. Opinions, as is often the case, vary as to where the band peaked creatively. For some, it’s their second wave black metal period from ‘Dark Medieval Times’ through “Nemesis Divina”. Others prefer the forward-thinking mania of ‘Rebel Extravaganza’ or the stripped down black n’ roll approach of the last 15 years.

For the purposes of this review, it’s worth pointing out that I believe their creative apex to be the period from ‘Dark Medieval Times’ through ‘Rebel Extravaganza’, with ‘Volcano’ being hit and miss, and everything since then being thoroughly middle of the road; accessible at the cost of any idea that might be exciting or interesting. While the band have never made a bad album, they’ve settled for “fine” for three straight albums, to the point that even the band themselves acknowledge that a change of direction was desperately needed. In the press materials for ‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’, Satyr spoke to the need for the band to move on:

"Approaching this release, what I always kept in mind is that either this is the beginning of something new or it's gonna be my last record. If this is going to be the last, then it needs to be something special.”

If nothing else, it’s fair to say that this mindset has resulted in the band’s first truly exciting album in the last fifteen years. Contextually, ‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’ is something of a spiritual successor to ‘Rebel Extravaganza’ in that the goal appears to have been to take an established sound and create the weirdest, artsiest version of it they could. “Rebel Extravaganza” mutated and distorted 2nd wave black metal into something wild and wholly unique. Here, Satyricon twists the much more plain style of the last decade-plus into a truly engaging black n’ roll freakout. In fact, calling ‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’ “black n’ roll” feels like selling it short. While I may not have found the last several Satyricon albums all that interesting, they’d still cultivated their own unique sound, and each album was immediately identifiable as Satyricon. That identity remains intact here, despite forgoing the tropes and formula they’ve settled into over the years.

A sweeping creative resurgence is evident all throughout the album. Album opener “Midnight Serpent” runs a gauntlet of ideas, ranging from the conservatively black metal opening moments to the sprawling dissonant atmosphere of the song’s 2nd half. “The Ghost of Rome” is about as close as a black metal band has ever come to crafting their own version of late 60s psychedelic pop, or more recently, Queens of the Stone Age's “Another Love Song”.

The point is; it’s more evident than ever that Satyricon will never truly journey back to a conventional black metal sound. Waiting for bands to tap into whatever your perceived peak era for them might be is a recipe for disappointment. Some bands manage to pull it off, but they’re the exceptions. In Satyricon’s case, they’ve finally arrived at a new sound that’s as well-worth exploring as their early glory years. Progress for a band is a good thing, when it works. The road to this point wasn’t a smooth one, but they’ve gotten to where they need to be. They’re very different from the band we knew 20 years ago, but they’re every bit as interesting as they were back then.

‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’ is available digitally here and on CD/LP here.


Band info: Facebook

INTERVIEW AND TRACK PREMIERE Occult tinged riff dealers Elder Druid conjure up "Blue Dream Black Death"


Elder Druid are a 5-piece sludge/doom band formed in early 2015 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. Five lovers of heavy riffs and molten fuzz came together to add their stamp to the world of stoner rock and doom metal and with heavy influences from Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Kyuss and Sleep, the riffs began to take shape and all the elements started to fuse.

With two guitarists, Jake Wallace on lead and Mikey Scott on rhythm, a wall of sound is generated from the slow, rhythmic riffs. The coarse vocals of Gregg McDowell are gutteral warcries with enchanting, occult lyrics to tell the stories of warlocks and wizards. The low end is also ferocious with Dale Hughes providing a deep level of twang which lays the foundations to the riffs, complementing the reserved sense of calm from Brien 'Grizz' Gillen delivering a very soft but heavy canvas to the songs.

After gigging through the summer of 2016 across Northern Ireland, the band went into the studio with Andy Shields (Hornets) and recorded a 5-track EP entitled ‘Magicka’. After being picked up by Jon Davis from Conan, it was released digitally on all major platforms on October 15th 2016 on Black Bow Records. The band would continue to gig into early 2017 and In May 2017 they played the album launch for Hornets' 'Witch Hunt' alongside doom legends Slomatics and 7.5 Tonnes of Beard. Following a successful UK tour  these occult-laced riff dealers from Belfast, Northern Ireland  are set to release their debut album “Carmina Satanae” which roughly translates to Songs of Satan. Containing 8 of their heaviest  tracks to date and recorded with Niall Doran in Start Together Studios, the album is set for release on October 6, 2017 and today you can stream the opening track from the album entitled, “Blue Dream Black Death” below. 

You can also check out a short interview with Mikey Scott, who gives us the low down on the inception of the band, what we can expect from the forthcoming album and what the future holds for this talented doom progeny. 


Can you give us an insight into how you started playing music, leading up to the formation of Elder Druid?

Mikey (guitar): I actually started playing bass guitar first at a fairly young age, probably about 11 years old, with dreams of becoming the next Linkin Park, writing terrible songs with a couple of friends and planning our world domination. After that didn’t pan out as we imagined, guitar and bass was more of a hobby for me during my teens. I played in a band in my late-teens, giving me some good stage experience before connecting with the ‘Druid guys after Jake got in touch to write some seriously heavy riffs.

For those of us unfamiliar with your band, is there any bands on the scene past and present that you would use as a reference point bands to describe your band, and who or what continues to inspire you and push you to try new things?

Being perfectly honest, I was a bit of a doom novice before joining Elder Druid. I’ve always been a heavy metal man but my major influences would be bands like Metallica, Deftones and Machine Head. Spending time with the guys really introduced me to the world of low and slow music, which I fell in love with pretty quickly.

Jake turned me onto bands like Sleep, Electric Wizard and Bongzilla, to name just a few – I think you can definitely identify influences in our style from those bands. I’m currently listening to a lot of Beastmaker and Monolord. Two absolute titans of modern doom.

I think you can take inspiration from almost anywhere when it comes to writing music – different genres, movies, locations or even the atmosphere you find yourself in. I’ll get riff ideas or little bits of melody for a lead guitar part at the most inopportune times, almost completely randomly, and have to take myself off to whistle or hum the idea into my phone and hope it comes back to me later. Sometimes they’re great and sometimes they’re trash, but you have to have that creative energy to consistently bring ideas to the table.

What can you tell us about your upcoming record and where do you feel it sits within the context of current metal scene?

Our upcoming record, “Carmina Satanae”, is a collection of our 8 heaviest tracks to date. We brought back 2 old favourites in ‘Reigning Hell’ and ‘Rogue Mystic’ for re-recording to give them the treatment they deserve. The other 6 tracks will be brand new to everyone’s ears, unless you’ve seen us play live over the last few months. We’ve been crafting these songs together for a while now, playing them on-stage as much as possible to truly let them develop and breathe as pieces of music. We’ve taken time to arrange the songs in such a way that a full album play through makes sense to whoever’s listening and takes them on a journey.

Make no bones about it, this album is heavy. We have a lot of groove all over it, and a few lighter moments in there but this album is for fans of sludge, doom and anything loud.

Does anything spring to mind when you think about the completion of your upcoming record and how is the mood in the camp at present?

I think I can speak for everyone when I say we’re excited. It’s a good feeling to put a lot of work into something, especially something that’s creative, and be happy with the results. Niall Doran from Start Together Studios, who recorded and mixed the album, really got what we were looking for in terms of sound – a lot of credit has to go to this man for taking our live sound and being able to recreate that for the album. For me, the excitement just builds with every new track or video that we put out leading up to the release. I just want as many heavy doom and sludge fans worldwide to hear the album and hopefully dig it.



What stands out as your overarching memory from the recording sessions?

As far as one particular memory goes, I’d have to say standing on the roof of the studios, looking over Belfast, after we’d finished recording the record was a bit of a triumphant moment for myself. We’ve put a lot of work into writing songs, gigging and getting shit done this year – so to finally have a full length album in the bag made me proud. That was a cool moment to reflect on everything we’ve achieved since we formed in 2015 and how far we’ve come.

I’d also say the vibe in the room that whole weekend was amazing. We decided early on that we wanted to record the album live to get that feeling of you’re listening to us, not a cleaned up unnatural version of us. If you want to come see Elder Druid live, this is how we sound. We wanted to try and replicate the energy we have on stage in the studio and everyone showed up and delivered. It’s hard to recreate energy, or a particular vibe, especially when you’re on the clock, but we all knew how big of a deal this was and magic happened that weekend.

With your new record in the bag, how is your schedule shaping up over the next 12 months?

Right now, we’re looking to the album launch in Belfast on October 6th with local heft merchants Nomadic Rituals and Molarbear, as well Manchester’s Voodoo Blood who we met on tour earlier this year. We wanted to bring anyone who’s supported us this far an unbelievable night of music, start to finish and I don’t think there’ll be any disappointments with that line-up.

Looking further ahead, we have big gigs coming up south of the border – Siege of Limerick and Zhora’s album launch in October, as well as a couple more trips across the pond to England later this year and early 2018.

Finally, do you have any last words?

To anyone who’s supported us by coming to the gigs, buying music/merch, watching our stuff online etc. major thanks from all of us. Playing in a band is a lot of fun on a personal level, but when other people can get a kick out of it, that’s one of the best feelings you can get.  If you’re not already, get on the Elder Druid Bandcamp, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram for new material and upcoming gig information!

It’s been a good year so far, we won’t be taking it easy after this new record drops so stay tuned for more good stuff in the not-so-distant future. Peace!


Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Thursday, 21 September 2017

SATAN'S DOZEN: 13 Unearthly Hymns Unearthed (September 2017)



SATAN’S DOZEN is our attempt to present the very best music the underground scene has to offer and whilst we’d love to review every band submission we receive, not to mention the countless  recommendations you send our way, in practical terms that is just not possible, however because we don’t want killer music to pass you by, each and every month Andrei Moose will painstakingly sift through the music labelled “no killer riffs included” and choose 13 of the best new albums released via bandcamp and bundle them together into the mightiest riff sandwich.  So we hope you dig our selections and enjoy the riffs.   This is SATAN’S DOZEN Vol. III, 13 Unearthly Hymns Uearthed.

1. Masterhand – “Mind Drifter” Released May 12, 2017

Garage / psychedelic / stoner / rock



2. Have Blue – “Melted Mind” Released July 17, 2017

Garage / psychedelic / blues-rock 



3. Surprise Party – “The Last Temptation Of Chris” Released March 19, 2017

Psychedelic / stoner / rock



4. Blue Eyed Sons – “Animals” Released August 15, 2017

Psychedelic / stoner / blues / hard / rock



5. Vintage Cucumber – “Arabische Nächte” Released June 21, 2017

Psychedelic / instrumental / experimental / kraut / rock



6. Analog Faze – “Analog Faze” Released June 23, 2017

Psychedelic / stoner / rock




7. Addicthead – “Addicthead” Released July 15, 2017

Psychedelic / progressive / stoner / rock 



8. Obey the Wolves – “Obey the Wolves” Released March 23, 2017

Desert / fuzz / stoner / rock



9. Knall – “Free Album” Released May 19, 2017

Experimental / instrumental / acid / jam / kraut / rock



10. Sarattma – “Inner Spaces” Released March 17, 2017

Instrumental / progressive / stoner / metal



11. EL COLOSSO – “Pathways” Released March 14, 2017

Stoner - rock



12. TURBOBOBCAT – “Pentastar Rocket Ride” Released August 12, 2017

Stoner - rock



13. Hard Driver – “Freedom Machine” Released July 1, 2017

Stoner - rock



ALBUM PREMIERE: Polish soul crushing doom band 71TONMAN unleash "Earthwreck"


Polish doom band 71TONMAN are set release their sophomore album “Earthwreck” via Black Bow Records on September 22nd 2017.  As a follow up to their 2013 self titled album, “Earthwreck” takes their original template, but this time around the delivery is bigger, bolder even more soul crushing.  71TONMAN have delivered a fucking monster of an album, so if you love fat riffs, then this 71 Ton goliathon is highly recommended. If you’re a fan of band like Suma, Indian and Primitive Man check out the full stream below and be sure order a copy when it's released on Friday.  




Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

ALBUM PREMIERE: Fuzz Popvli deliver "The Fuzz of The Gods" on debut "Fuzz Dei"


"Fvzz Dei" which in latin means "The Fuzz Of The Gods", is the debut album of the roman fuzz trio Fvzz Popvli. Featuring members of the bands The Wisdoom and Beesus , "Fvzz Dei" will be released via Heavy Psych Sounds on 22nd September  and is a grandstand example of fuzz sounds, an amalgamation of garage rock and powerhouse song writing, catchy hooks and most importantly Queens of the Stone Age-style riffing, you can check out “Fuzz Dei” in full below, this is music for the gods.  You can preorder/buy the album here


Band info: bandcamp