Wednesday, 7 December 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Crowbar - "The Serpent Only Lies"

By: Richard Maw


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 28/10/2016
Label: E.One Music |
Steamhammer



Each album is demonstrably different while maintaining a common thread so no record is out of place within the discography. Stylistically, I would say that this is closer to “Symmetry...” than “Lifesblood”, and perhaps is a little closer to the band's earliest material, but at the end of the day: it's Crowbar. Where this album sits in the band's discography will only be fully revealed over time, but I can say that it has got better and better with each listen. What a band. Appreciate them while they are here.

“The Serpent Only Lies” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. Falling While Rising
02. Plasmic And Pure
03. I Am The Storm
04. Surviving The Abyss
05. The Serpent Only Lies
06. The Enemy Beside You
07. Embrace The Light
08. On Holy Ground
09. Song Of The Dunes
10. As I Heal

The Review:

Crowbar are 100% reliable. They have never made a bad album. They have never gone commercial, gone thrash, gone death, gone hardcore or deviated in any way from their uniquely satisfying sound.

Generally regarded as sludge, and New Orleans sludge at that, the band have been operating at the highest level of quality for a quarter of a century now. Kirk is still at the helm and now Todd Strange is back on bass (Kirk plays on the album) after a career in something non-metal related. The album, as per, mixes riffs of the heaviest weight (“Falling While Rising”) with faster bursts of hardcore pace (“I am The Storm”). Most people familiar with the band have a favourite Crowbar album (some go with “Odd Fellows Rest”, some the self titled, or “Broken Glass” etc. etc.) but I can reliably inform you that this one could be a contender on anyone's top spot.

The last record, “Symmetry In Black”, was a tour de force: this is just as good. They really haven't put a foot wrong on this release. The doomy and spacey vibe of “Surviving The Abyss” is a welcome shift in dynamics and recalls “When Planets Collide” (and other tracks) from the bands formidable canon.

Operating, as they do, in a field of one brings its own challenges. The band have to find ways of making things interesting; the line up has always been in flux, but whether this is by design or default I don't know. Each album is demonstrably different while maintaining a common thread so no record is out of place within the discography. Stylistically, I would say that this is closer to “Symmetry...” than “Lifesblood”, and perhaps is a little closer to the band's earliest material, but at the end of the day: it's Crowbar. The title track is as vicious and melancholic as their best work, with Windstein's voice still a unique selling point.

The album is another focused and concise release; ten tracks of similar length gives the right playing time for enjoyment and immersibility (running out of actual words, so making them up!) and each track goes by at a fair clip. “The Enemy Beside You” is another hardcore/sludge hybrid which spits some serious bile. Kirk is in his 50's now, but isn't showing any sign of mellowing. Since leaving Down, he seems to have re-focused on Crowbar and brings some huge riffs and vocals to tracks such as “On Holy Ground” down the back stretch of the record. “Song of the Dunes” is even more impressive, with a rather creepy atmosphere added to the mix.

By the time of “As I heal”, the record had absolutely won me over as yet another sterling piece of work from Crowbar. Where this album sits in the band's discography will only be fully revealed over time, but I can say that it has got better and better with each listen. What a band. Appreciate them while they are here.

The Serpent Only Lies” is available now

Band info: facebook

Saturday, 3 December 2016

ALBUM PREMIERE: "Astral Sand" by Mojuba


After two years spent between rehearsal room and gigs, Italian stoner rockers Mojuba recorded their first full-length: “Astral Sand” in January of this year.  The foundation of the band stems from guitarist Mascio, who in 2014 inspired by the psychedelic heavy sounds he was listening to, decided to form the band completed by Pierserio (vocals), whom Mascio met at a jam session at the end of 2013.

The musical path they chose was immediately clear because these guys like to jam rock guitar riffs set in solid evocative atmospheres, walking the footsteps of the great 70s bands, especially Black Sabbath. Not to mention Kyuss and Orange Goblin.

The “Mojuba” is an African prayer about praise and gratitude which originates from the word “Mojo”, the magic talisman associated with the early bluesmen, that later, with the arrival of Rock and Roll, became synonymous of libido. Despite the fascination for the magic rituals and the evocative nature of the tribal Africa, the term “Mojuba” assumed for the band another meaning: to free body and mind!

After a year spent in rehearsal room and on stage, in 2015 came one after the other two changes in the lineup: Alfonso (drums) joined the band in April and Fabrizio (bass) in October.  While waiting the release of the album, Mojuba shared the stage with Throneless (SWE), Zolle, Zippo, Selvans, and many other bands from Abruzzo and Marche.


Today ahead of the release of “Astral Sand” via Red Sound Records we have the pleasure of debuting the album in full below.


Band info: facebook

Friday, 2 December 2016

DECADES APART: 5 Albums 5 Different Decades, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010

By: Aaron Pickford, Victor Van Ommen

& Phil Weller


Decades Apart


The idea of Decades Apart is pretty simple. I’ll choose 5 different albums from 5 different decades and I’ll share a little information about them and hopefully you’ll check them out if you haven’t already.   Today is 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010.  Whilst some these albums may not all be considered classics, they’re certainly amazing records.  So be sure to check it out.    

Black Sabbath – “Black Sabbath” (1970)



An argument may still remain whether Black Sabbath truly invented heavy metal , however what is true to say, is that Black Sabbath impact and influence on heavy metal music remains unequalled.  Famously recorded in one day, Sabbath’s debut was released on Friday February 13, 1970.  The foreboding title track and “N.I.B” are perhaps the bands most potent examples of Sabbath’s fundamental power.  Indeed if you ask the question, what is doom?  Well you only have to refer to the title track and there you have your answer.  If satan had an anthem, “Black Sabbath” would be that song. Elsewhere on the album are traces of blues and psychedelia. Early reviews of the album according to Tony Iommi’s were “awful”. But in America, “Black Sabbath” sold a million. In the UK, it made the Top 10. And over time it would be acknowledged as a landmark album in the evolution of heavy metal.

The year proceeding would see the band develop further still morphing from the dark masters of  seemingly occult music to a respected hard rock band, who would help create the emerging genre of heavy metal.   Seemingly doing the impossible by today’s standard, the four brummies recorded not one but two classic albums in the 1970, with “Paranoid” following a mere 4 months later, an album that would cause further a tectonic shift in the rock world.   By the time “Paranoid” emerged, clearly Sabbath has developed greater compositional range to their music and their performances on their second album were further step up. 

To give some context to what Sabbath would go onto achieve, in 1968, bassist Geezer Butler and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne were in a band called Rare Breed when a certain unknown guitarist Tony Iommi invited them to form a blues rock group with drummer Bill Ward. This new band would settle on the name Earth, following the recording of some initial demos and some subsequent positive feedback, the momentum of the band was stunted slightly following Iommi’s brief dalliance with Jethro Tull. Iommi would soon return and the group reunited in 1969, deciding upon the new name of Black Sabbath.  In the Autumn 1969, the group was signed to Philips Records and entered the studio with producer Rodger Bain.

“Black Sabbath” was recorded live on the floor in the studio with very few overdubs added ad if you don’t already know the story, due to the loss of a few fingertips, Iommi down tuned his guitar for easier playing, with this new tone giving that synonymous “doomy” effect.

Having been turned on to Black Sabbath by my own Father, listening to this self-titled 1970 is arguably the definitive debut heavy metal record. In terms of a general concept “heavy metal” and it’s development of the genre was moulded not only tone of the music, but because of the band underlying lyrical themes, with Sabbath’s devotion to darker themes that others perhaps  had not dared undertake.  The band’s environment, in terms of living in poverty and career choices being limited to factory worker or petty criminality, Black Sabbath were far removed from hedonism hippie music that was popular when the band formed in 1968, considering themselves a blues band. Instead it is said that Tony Iommi observed the lines that formed at the local movie theatre whenever it showed horror films and remarked that if people were so willing to pay to be scared, perhaps they should try playing evil-sounding music. So with that in mind, they took their name from a Boris Karloff film.  Indeed the title track to “Black Sabbath” capture the essence of horror, with Iommi playing a slow, ominous riff based on the “devil’s tritone,”. The sluggish pacing of the track is truly something to behold and perhaps personifies what is indeed heavy, with the slow and ominous motif becoming the primary influence of the doom metal genre.  There is no filler on this record, “The Wizard” with their inspired use of harmonica, ably backed up by Geezer on bass and a masterful performance from drummer Bill Ward. “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” inspired by psychological horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. N.I.B.” a Sabbath song for bass-lovers, man that Butler solo and with Osbourne at his mercurial best. 

Sabbath’s cover of “Evil Woman” by Crow was their first single from the album, a straightforward blues rocker and arguably the most accessible song on the record, Sabbath truly but their own stamp on it, particularly with Iommi’s riffs replacing the brass of the original. 

The title of “Sleeping Village” speaks for itself, a sombre dirge with Osbourne crooning over the top of Iommi’s acoustic guitar from the outset. With dramatic shifts in tone throughout, from a 60s inspired jam to the rigid structure of an menacing, plodding riff. “Evil Woman”is up next into another cover, this time in the form of “Warning” originally by The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, clocking in at an immense 10m30s, and taking up most of the album’s second side. This track was the least accessible on the album with “Wicked World” completing the album with politically charged lyrics, A politician’s job they say is very high, For he has to choose who’s got to go and die, They can put a man on the moon quite easy, While people here on Earth are dying of old diseases catchy riffs, booming bass guitar and a master class of intricate drumbeats from Ward.  Black Sabbath made music that personified their environment, dealing with the harsher realities of life in their lyrics, married with dark and sinister tone of the guitar and the flawless display by Geezer and Ward.  Sabbath truly have no equal and the next time someone asks you what heavy metal is, reach for your copy of “Black Sabbath” and utter not a word, because this album speaks for itself. 


Diamond Head – “Lightning To The Nations” (1980)



“Lightning to the Nations” also known as “The White Album” is the debut album by British heavy metal band Diamond Head. The album was recorded in 1979 and released on the 3rd October 1980 through their own label Happy Face Records.  The album stands in history as possibility one of the most influential heavy metal records of all time. Speaking as a Metallica fan, the band first came to my attention, due to their cover of “Am I Evil?” which featured on the “Lighting to the Nations” album.  One can not be certain whether Diamond Head’s  would have remained in heavy metal shadows without their association with Metallica , however this union certainly helped gain the band more widespread attention, given Metallica  covered no fewer than 5 of the 7 songs from the album. To put it bluntly if Metallica fans thought these tracks were cool, the same fans would check out Diamond Head.  Conversely and perhaps unfortunately so, Diamond Head's were associated more as the inspiration to Metallica rather than composing one of the best heavy metal records of all time.  "Lightning to the Nations" combines great guitar-driven elements with epic sounding vocals and a sound unique to them and whilst Diamond Head never reached the heady heights that Metallica would achieve 10 years later, they deserve enormous praise from creating a legendary record, one that would go on to inspire the biggest heavy metal band of all time. 


Megadeth – “Rust in Peace” (1990)



Rust In Peace” is the fourth album by Megadeth, released on September 24th 1990.  It feels poignant and only fitting to be discussing this album, given the tragic loss of drummer Nick Menza earlier this year, appropriate then that he be remembered for playing a pivotal role in the creation of perhaps the greatest thrash metal album of them all.  It is safe to say, Megadeth was never the most stable band, disgruntlement of an ousted guitarist from Metallica, which perhaps Mustaine would never recover from, coupled with drug addiction, tragedy and a revolving line up, Megadeth were always on the cusp of creating something huge, but up until this point, the band never quite reached their peak.  Following the release of their 1988 album, “So Far, So Good, So What” drummer Chuck Behler and guitarist Jeff Young would leave the band, to be replaced by Nick Menza and an emerging guitar virtuoso, Marty Friedman, who was known as one half of the speed metal band Cacophony, who also featured Jason Becker, indeed it was the release of Friedman’s debut solo album “Dragon’s Kiss” that piqued Mustaine’s attention, remarking in his biography and I paraphrase that Mustaine was so intimidated by Friedman, it created some anxiety, that he was hiring someone technically superior to him.    Irrespective of this apparent tension, “Rust In Peace” is one of the most technically brilliant thrash albums, indeed it is the sheer technical complexity of the album that would truly define Megadeth and perhaps set a new benchmark for thrash metal standards.

“Hangar 18” and “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due”, with their continuous tempo changes, elegant neo classical inspired solos, along with Mustaine at his magnificent songwriting peak, these two songs would set the tone for the album and inspire it to go down in history as Megadeth’s apex in terms of album output.   Thematically “Rust In Peace” is centered around politics, nuclear warfare, religion, UFOs, and personal issues such as drug and alcohol addiction. “Rust In Peace” is a) an album written by Mustaine at his creative, b) it was performed by members with the technical capabilities of Menza and Freidman members, it is little surprise then that “Rust In Peace” is one of the greatest heavy metal album of all time and the best Megadeth album ever. 


Queens of the Stone Age – “Rated R” (2000)



The year 2000 was a turning point for the stoner rock genre and this had a lot to do with Josh Homme’s band Queens of the Stone Age. Referred too as trance robot music for ladies, the conception of the band was to make the desert sound more widely known and to make something that women could dance to. If you take these two goals and prop them up against QOTSA’s 2000 sophomore album “Rated R,” then there’s no denying that even this early in the band’s career, Homme could already mark this as his second greatest musical accomplishment, the first of course being Kyuss.

Homme was able to turn heads and grab attention. At the time, “Rated R” was something new for the mainstream, while for the heavy underground, those involved felt like they were finally getting recognition. That’s not to say the underground wanted this recognition, but QOTSA was arguably the catalyst for many bands like Red Fang, Mastodon, and Truckfighters to spread the stoner rock gospel and influence a generation of their own.

It’s interesting to note that the year 2000 also saw the release of Limp Bizkit’sChocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water,” a record that went on to sell millions and was at the time regarded as a would-be classic. In the meantime, that album has faded from our memory, but “Rated R” continues to mature like a fine wine. So what was it that made QOTSA a band to notice?

The album is 11 songs long and ranges from stoned riffing to catchy grooving. “Rated R” leaned in the direction of experimental rock music without neglecting the need for a strong hook. Different instruments were used and the songs were structured in such a way that they could stand alone as a hit single while simultaneously being an integral part of the album as a whole. The album’s lyrical content was for mature audiences, but that didn’t stop radio stations from playing “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” regardless of the season. And to top it all off, Homme invited several friends from the desert – amongst which Dave Catching, Chris Goss, Mark Lanegan, and Pete Stahl – to contribute to this masterpiece. With all of these creative minds who came from the same scene, it’s no wonder “Rated R” turned out to be a template for the burgeoning stoner scene which has since then exploded.


Ghost – ‘Opus Eponymous’ (2010)



First impressions are pivotal and from the moment the eerie, mysterious swelling organ chimes of ‘Opus Eponymous’, Ghost have had thousands captivated. Their anonymity, a driving factor in their success, is pure theatre, the cold, occultish feel of Black Sabbath and the horror loving, hip swinging charisma and humour of Alice Cooper potent flavours on this hors d'oeuvre. Yet, where dark, 70s rock whetted the appetite of so many, they juxtaposed all that with the kind of melodies that made ABBA so irresistible. From the human sacrificing stadium rock of ‘Ritual’ to the poetically haunting ‘Elizabeth’ and the beguiling, lofty sounds of ‘Satan Prayer’, while it may not stand as a classic album – especially when compared to the ever increasing quality of their later releases – ‘Opus Eponymous’ provides us with a thrilling first encounter. With the gift of retrospect we can hear their naivety in some ways, this is a band still developing, still laying down the building blocks for a sound that has, today, become truly irresistible.

TRACK PREMIERE: Kent metallers Allfather debut charity single "Inherit The Dust"



With the flames barely died down from their critically praised album 'Bless The Earth With Fire', Kent metallers Allfather are following it up swiftly with new single, 'Inherit the Dust'. Seething with aggression and barely-concealed rage, the track offers up a feast of gargantuan riffs, monolithic grooves and a breakdown big enough to crack the earth.

Recorded with long-time collaborator, Jason Frye at his new studio Century Audio, 'Inherit the Dust' addresses the West’s seemingly endless obsession with bombing the Middle East in the hope of bringing peace, but being continuously surprised at the tragic consequences of these actions.

Vocalist Tom continues: “War in the Middle East has continued to drive instability and created an exodus of refugees from these countries. Refugees that Europe and the West seem less and less willing to offer asylum and safety. We’ve created a world where in some places children fear clear, sunny days as they know these are the best days for drone strikes to be carried out. Our governments claim we want peace yet offer only obliteration".

With that in mind, Allfather are donating all proceeds from sales of “Inherit the Dust” to humanitarian charity Help Refugees. Help Refugees assist displaced people throughout Europe and the Middle East, providing food, shelter,and safety for thousands of refugees. For more information see http://www.helprefugees.org.uk/

'Inherit the Dust' will be released as a digital download on today Friday 2 December 2016 via Bandcamp here and you can stream the track in full below








Allfather play the Black Heart. Camden on Friday 2 December 2016 and the Underdog Gallery, London Bridge on Saturday 17 December 2016.


Band info: bandcamp || facebook 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

TRACK PREMIERE: the underground's newest doom behemoths Cowardice unveil "The Tearing Down"


Cowardice is a 5 piece doom/sludge based in Northern New Jersey.  The members are collectively in active bands including Black Urn, Null & Void, Sunrot, Thera Roya, Sentient Horror, Worthless, Intertia.  The band was formed late spring 2016 and recorded their first record summer 2016 with Brian Brody in Summit, NJ.  Today at The Sludgelord, we can exclusively debut the first track 'The Tearing Down', from the forthcoming album "Without Condolence”, to be released 29/12/2016 via their bandcamp page here.  Given the pedigree of the bands mentioned, you know this is gonna crush.  Check it out below. 



Band info: facebook

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

LABEL INTENSIVE: A 2016 Guide through the Magical World of Elektrohasch Records


By: Victor Van Ommen



 Elektrohasch is a German based record label run by the one and only Stefan Koglek of the almighty Colour Haze. The label’s beginnings date back at least fifteen to twenty years, somewhere around the turn of the century. Since then, Elektrohasch released records by bands who were part of a (European) post-Kyuss movement like Ugh!, Los Natas, and Gas Giant. All of these bands spent their time on Elektrohasch laying down songs with heavy, grungy riffing with a thick low end which resulted in albums that now, years later, are regarded as gems of the scene.

In an effort to shine a light on where the label stands today, we here at The Sludgelord thought it would be a good idea to place three of Elektrohasch’s newest releases side by side in one review. These records are Ahkmed’sThe Inland Sea,” Saturnia’sThe Real High,” and Hidden TrailsInstant Momentary Bliss.” Each of these records tells a part of the Elektrohasch story.



Ahkmed – “The Inland Sea



Drone and psychedelics mix really well on Ahkmed’s album “The Inland Sea.” There’s a hint of shoe gaze in the sound, which adds depth to the band’s otherwise consistent attack. Most of the songs rely on hypnotic, repetitive riffing, which is doused in a myriad of effects and distortions. The songs bleed into each other, making it difficult to pinpoint a standout moment. However, at five songs long that add up to an hour of mind-twisting instrumental rock, it’s fair to say that Ahkmed isn’t necessarily on the hunt for a catchy lick. Instead, Ahkmed seems to be on path to provide a listening experience. It’s this take on the craft that jives with Elektrohasch and as a result, “The Inland Sea” delivers breadth to the label’s sound and displays once again how far the world of psychedelics can go.

Band info: facebook


Saturnia – “The Real High”



What Saturnia and Ahkmed have in common is that they both provide the listener with an experience. Where Ahkmed reveled in a mess of guitars, Saturnia flies a gentler course. Saturnia’s new album, “The Real High” pretty much gives everything away with its title. The band creates smooth, textured music and does their best not to break a sweat. Despite Saturnia’s tendency to drift off into space with mind, body, and soul, the band manages to keep things minimalistic. In some ways, Saturnia drones along like Ahkmed, but they do so with a sense of melody that is both gentle and welcoming as it is inoffensive. Saturnia might not be for everyone because of just how gentle their sound is, but the album is no less immersive. They go full on stoned and swim around in the listener’s psyche, which is an element found in many Elektrohasch releases. 

Band info: facebook

Hidden Trails – “Instant Momentary Bliss”



Where Ahkmed  and Saturnia dwell in a broad sound, Elektrohasch has also released an album this year which is more precise and focused on “the song.” Psychedelic songwriting is a skill on its own. There needs to be a chorus, and this needs to be catchy. But the free-your-mind element to the music shouldn’t be forgotten, so the chorus needs to be balanced out by jams, swirls, synths, and a slew of other psychedelics. Hidden Trails have chosen to walk this line and have found a decent balance between the two. Their album “IMA” is therefore a mature listen, one that also dips into prog-rock territory, but because the band features old members of Hypnos69, this influence should come as a surprise to no one. In comparison to Ahkmed and Saturnia, Hidden Trails are less stoned but no less heady, which is an attribute of the psych rock genre that sometimes gets overlooked. Many think that psychedelic rock is only good when under the influence, but Hidden Trails shows that even on a sober mind, a song can take the listener along for a wild, trippy ride. By providing a home for Hidden Trails, Elektrohasch continues their quest to represent every color of the psychedelic spectrum.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

As a label, Elektohasch has as a goal to provide a warm home for psychonauts. Whether you’re a listener of the music or a master of the craft, Elektrohasch is the place to be if you’re into psychedelic rock. Having hosted debut albums by the likes of Causa Sui, All Them Witches, and the extremely underappreciated Kings of Frog Island, Elektrohasch has proven time and time again that they are a front runner in the world of psychedelic rock. This year, with releases by Ahkmed, Saturnia, and Hidden Trails, Elektrohasch shows once again that they know their stuff.  Thanks to Elektrohasch for sending us these CD’s, your contribution to the world of music doesn’t go unnoticed.

 

Label Info: official

 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

REVIEW: Call Of The Void - "A.Y.F.K.M." EP


By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 16/12/2016
Label: Translation Loss



Call Of The Void’s sound is a potent cocktail of punk attitude and rock’n’roll swagger coated in a thick layer of sludge aggression. “AYFKM” is an intoxicating adrenaline rush that will keep you coming back for more.

“AYFKM” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Get in the Van
2). Are You Fucking Kidding Me
3). Throwing Bullets
4). On and On
5). Never Enough


The Review:

It’s been a few months since I’ve heard something filthy from the riff hotspot that is Denver, Colorado. Thankfully, Call Of The Void are here to break the silence with their facemelting new EP “AYFKM”.

Get In The Van” opens the record and draws the listener in with a towering edifice of doom riffage.  The crawling hypnotic heaviness casts a powerful spell which makes the sudden shift into breakneck sludge-fuelled hardcore at the song’s mid-point feel like a kick in the gut.  The track feels like a glimpse into an alternative reality where Matt Pike was kidnapped by Black Flag, a killer combination of dirty punk and Sabbath worship.

From here, Call Of The Void waste no time and rip through the remaining four tracks in a breathless ten minutes. The title track makes it clear that “AYFKM” stands for “Are You Fucking Kidding me?” a sub-two minute burst of bile-soaked rage with insistent hooks that will burrow their way into your brain. “Throwing Bullets” ups the pace to near breaking point, throwing more grind influences into the pot and culminating in a ferocious raw thrash finale reminiscent of Trap Them at their most unhinged. “On and On” and “Never Enough” almost come as a relief after the onslaught of the preceding tracks but even when Call Of The Void slow down a little they still pack a hefty punch.

Call Of The Void’s sound is a potent cocktail of punk attitude and rock’n’roll swagger coated in a thick layer of sludge aggression. “AYFKM” is an intoxicating adrenaline rush that will keep you coming back for more until the band return with a larger dose of mayhem. 

AYFKM” is available here


Band info: facebook || bandcamp