Thursday, 22 June 2017

11 IS ONE LOUDER: Illinois stoner doom trio Earth Witch discuss their Top 5 stoner doom albums

A stoner/doom trio from Illinois is how Earth Witch are described and it is very accurate! Their debut album “Out of the Shallow” is most definitely for fans of SleepHigh on Fire and The Sword.  There are massive riffs on offer and the tracks have quite a range to them, too. You get mellow and bluesy swaggering muscular grooves and psychedelic Sabbath goodness elsewhere.

Simply put Earth Witch have delivered one of the albums of the year, every track is a winner. Every riff is massive. The production is raw and warm. Everything sounds big. Everything sounds heavy and for that Earth Witch need to be applauded for delivering a fantastic and heavy record and today it is our great pleasure to welcome the band to talk us through their top 5 stoner doom albums, as we take our weekly trip into the extreme and turn the volume all the way up to 11.  Why do we go to 11,  because its one louder

Kyuss - "Welcome to Sky Valley"

Kyuss really started to come into their own on "Welcome to Sky Valley", their third full length and first with member changes and being on a major label. I mean, "Blues for the Red Sun" is equally killer, but "Welcome..." encompasses all of the best song writing elements the desert rockers had been honing in on. While Queens of the Stone Age emerged out of its ashes (and was actually my introduction to the band), they never really could get back that "desert rock" vibe that still puts Kyuss at the top of the fuzzed out stoner rock genre. I love driving across the literal desert and jamming this on tour, specifically "100 degrees" - a short n' sweet banger. Has that loner rebel feel to it, while still most definitely makes you want to head bang right into the van's dashboard. Might be why so many bands try to copy their sound to this day. I reach for this record before QOTSA, Fu Manchu, Hermano, or any of the other killer projects that have come after. This one hits the spot every damn time. - Nathan

The Sword - "Age of Winters"

"Age of Winters" is one of the few albums we as a band can all agree on as an essential influence. Super catchy and always driving 70's inspired heavy rock. I don't think I need to go into great detail on this one as everyone with a slight interest in the genre has probably spun it multiple times over. What I personally dig most about this record is not just the amount of rad tempo changes, but how syncopated the drums and guitars are throughout. Gives it such a huge, yet overall tight sound. -

Sleep  - “Holy Mountain” 

Is it a little too on the nose for us to put a Sleep record on this list? We don’t give a shit; everyone cites Sleep because they are the masters of the genre! The rhythms and grooves throughout “Holy Mountain” influenced our style heavily, and Matt Pike and Al Cisneros’ guitar and bass tones were a good point of reference for Ivan and I when we were figuring out our sound. Wave after wave of riffs pummel your brain, yet the overall cohesiveness and flow of the album keeps you interested throughout. Cisneros’s work on the album personally influenced my playing style for Earth Witch, as he adds these crazy bass fills in most the songs that are certainly noticeable, yet not too overbearing where it distracts the listener from the rest of the song. It’s also rad that a three-piece band like Sleep can sound as full as they do, which is another thing we strive to do with our music. The mix of driving rock and heavy doom on the album is a formula Sleep perfected, influencing us and a slew of other bands over the last 20+ years. - Derrin

Danava - "Hemisphere of Shadows"

Our drummer has long been involved in running his own independent label and distributing a variety of tape and vinyl releases. During a period where he was operating his own store front in Illinois he had become quite the authority in turning us all on to the best records and one such day he suggested “Hemisphere of Shadows” by Danava and I promptly purchased it. I got home to give it a listen and could not believe the amount of riffs this band could cram into their songs. Their guitar sound was really unique compared to most heavy bands sporting tones with crushing amounts of distortion and gain, Danava had a more classic slightly driven crunchy tone and derived more of their heavy qualities from the precision and intricacy of their riffs. The record was definitely inspiring to Earth Witch as we moved from our early primarily doom focused sound to a more intricate riff laden heavy rock. The record also set some aspirations for how I wanted to approach recoding. One of my favorite tracks on the record is “I Am The Skull” which has an awesome break where they shift into this sweet keyboard solo. Ever since I heard that track I had to write a song with a keyboard solo, even if it was just for the studio recording I had to do something cool like that. -Ivan

Harvey Milk - “A Small Turn of Human Kindness"

Individually the members of our band sport quite an eclectic range of musical tastes from bands like Converge to Captain Beefheart or Christian Death to Husker Du. I recall about six years ago I was on a kick of listening to exclusively weird avant garde and noise rock type music. Nothing but Naked City, Captain Beefheart, US Maple and Ruins (Japan). I remember I was hanging out with my friend Greg listening to music and he threw on this band Harvey Milk and recall being completely blown away by how heavy and diverse their sound was. Dynamic shifts in volume and mood presented this wholly unique form of heavy music that was as bludgeoning as it was vulnerable. I became a huge fan of the group and they kind of provided a gateway into reinvigorating my interest in heavy music. “A Small Turn of Human Kindnes”s is one of their best albums. It encapsulates the pure raw qualities of the group. Creston Spier’s howling vocals has never been more heart wrenching than on tracks like “I Did Not Call Out”. The spacious quality of the drum sound as demonstrated in the opening of “I Alone Got UP and Left” cultivates such an empty feeling in the pit of your stomach. Few other albums showcase so well the power of sonic and emotional force a three piece band can produce. -Ivan

Earth Witch’s latest record “Out of the Shallow” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

TRACK PREMIERE: Florida sludge metallers Ether turn up the volume on "No Gods, All Masters"

Florida sludge metal band Ether returns with their sophomore album, “There is Nothing Left For Me Here”. The album hones in on their NOLA sludge influences and reverb soaked sombre melodies. The record was written amidst the separation and divorce process of a member, which steadies the mood of the record toward complete and utter abandonment. Lyrically, the album touches on the personal but focuses on current socio-political affairs, the whitewashing of historically tragic events, western programming, capitalism, and other tenets of denigration of the human condition. The record is as emotive as it is crushing, combining haunting melodies with Sabbath-esque riffs, to present something truly cathartic. Ether maintains a DIY punk ethic, releasing their own records and booking their own tours, from which members learned in their time in the hardcore scene.

“There is Nothing Left For Me Here” 
will be released on July 7th 2017 on CD, cassette, vinyl and digital formats and you can stream a brand new track “No Gods, All Masters” below

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

REVIEW: Schammasch - “The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite” (EP)

By: Conor O’Dea

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 09/06/2017
Label: Prosthetic Records

Schammasch have created something remarkable with this most recent artistic expression, sophisticated, complex and yet somehow, eminently accessible.  Get lost. It is worth your time to find a way out.

“The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). “Prologue”
2). “The Weighty Burden Of An Eternal Secret”
3). “Along The Road That Leads To Bedlam”
4). “These Tresses Are Sacred”
5). “May His Illusion Last Until Dawn’s Awakening”
6). “Chimerical Hope”
7). “Do Not Open Your Eyes”

The Review:

"May it please heaven that the reader, emboldened and having for the time being become as fierce as what he is reading, should, without being led astray, find his rugged and treacherous way across the desolate swamps of these sombre and poison-filled pages; for, unless he brings to his reading a rigorous logic and a tautness of mind equal at least to his wariness, the deadly emanations of this book will dissolve his soul as water does sugar. It is not right that everyone should savour this bitter fruit with impunity. Consequently, shrinking soul, turn on your heels and go back before penetrating further into such uncharted, perilous wastelands." Comte de Lautréamont, Les Chants de Maldoror”

There can be only deep silence after the invocation of the triune. It is time to pause. An initiate, waiting, in the shadows, barely breathes, as the adept brings one deeply important ritual to a close. You know where you were left, but are unclear where the way could possibly open again. Ab initio, ab vacuo, a ritual begins, revitalized, innovative, and redacted: but only in the paths it wanders, not in the powers it invokes. Thunder, perfect mind.

Schammasch have created something remarkable with this most recent artistic expression, something that draws deeply and effectively on both the painterly and writerly roots of its inspiration. It is sophisticated, complex and yet it, somehow, it is eminently accessible. It is a sort of roman-de-clef, but it does not seek to intimidate, browbeat or baffle the listener with fabricated dissonance or obfuscatory elitism. It invites the listener to enter its mysteries and get profoundly lost within them. Schammasch here effectively create auditory and lyrical topographies that bend the common conventions of compositional and narrative structure in surreal ways. I am using surreal here in the sense of Magritte and Dali, both of whom illustrated Lautreamont's “The Lay of Maldoror”; it is a bending of reality, a reconfiguration of the real through symbolic interpolation. The six songs following the prologue mirror the Canto division of Lautreamont's poetic novel, a glimpse into the fin-de-siecle madness that performed this superlative Dada-like twist on both the” Divine Comedy” and “Paradise Lost”.

“May His Illusion Last until Dawn's Awakening” and “Chimerical Hope” are perhaps the most immediately 'moving' of these tracks, but as with all things Schammasch, this album should be taken as a whole: in contemplation, in mindful inebriety. Get lost. It is worth your time to find a way out.

"I am the silence that is incomprehensible and the idea whose remembrance is frequent.
I am the voice whose sound is manifold and the word whose appearance is multiple.
I am the utterance of my name"
The Thunder, Perfect Mind

“The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite” is available here

FFO: Behemoth, Secrets of the Moon, Deathspell Omega, Triptykon

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Elder - "Reflections of a Floating World"

By: David Jupp

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 02/06/2017
Label: Stickman Records |
Armageddon Shop

‘Reflections of a Floating World’ is both a glance back and a stride forward. The direct nature of some of the riffs and the weight of their execution sit it comfortably between ‘Spires Burn/Release’ and ‘Lore.’ The expansion of ambition and variety in musical approach however, keep Elder’s eyes firmly fixed on the horizon


“Reflections of a Floating World” CD//CS//DD//LP track listing:

1. Sanctuary
2. The Falling Veil
3. Staving Off Truth
4. Blind
5. Sonntag
6. Thousand Hands

The Review:

The release of a new record from one of your favourite bands can be a bittersweet affair. The journey home from the record shop is one of both trepidation and anticipation. ‘Oh God, what if it’s shit? But hang on, what if it’s better – surely it can’t be better?’ Not that a record should only be framed in the context of its predecessors but with an LP as good as ‘Lore’ the possibility of something superior incurs such fantasies with ease.
When it comes to
Elder and their fourth long-player ‘Reflections of a Floating World’ the answer to these questions is a simple yet complex one. Is it shit? Absolutely not! Is it better than ‘Lore’? Now that requires some discussion...
Having followed
Elder from their outstanding coming-of-age effort ‘Dead Roots Stirring’ (2011), through follow-up EP ‘Spires Burn/Release’ (2012) and then on to 2015’s list-topping masterpiece ‘Lore,’ Elder’s ascension to the peak of the heavy underground is completely justified. They are a band I have watched progress and grow over the last six years and their post-debut trilogy of records would all fight for a place in my desert-island record bag.
Reflections of a Floating World’ sees an expansion to the formula that has served them so well. Having pushed about as far as a power-trio can on ‘Lore,’ the addition of second guitarist/keyboard player Mike Risberg is an exciting one. Not only can Nick DiSalvo ditch the loop pedal hopscotch but for a band built on the interweaving of melody, a second thread in the loom can only be a good thing.
Album four sets flight with ‘Sanctuary,’ a cut that has been around since the early touring for ‘Lore.’ Its proximity in creation to the last record can be felt in both melody and structure and it serves as a superb ‘previously on
Elder’ recap. Thankfully the constituent parts that make Elder such an exciting prospect are all still here; Gargantuan riffs, emotive melodic leads and stop-start atmospheric interludes.  More importantly, just as on ‘Lore’ the band's ability to whittle, refine and expand these parts is too. The opening down tuned notes of ‘Sanctuary’ gives a huge nod to fan-favourite ‘Gemini’ and within seconds the trademark time-signature origami is deployed.
For a band that revels in songs that outlast ten minutes, an ability to carve act and movement into each journey is vital. As ‘Sanctuary’ approaches the halfway mark and climbs to its apex,
Elder deliver one of the best melodic runs they have ever written. But before you can grasp hold, and with typical poise, they abandon it for a quieter interlude that folds in on itself for over five minutes, eventually erupting into an explosion of everything that makes Elder great.
Similarly to
Russian Circles, Elder have mastered the art of holding a riff to the light for just enough time to take it in, before whipping it away and replacing it with something different. Whilst early listens of the record can prove frustrating as you try and grasp each pattern, subsequent listens bring you ever closer to the familiarity that opens up the narrative.
Track two ‘The Falling Veil’ is an intricate exercise in this very process and across its eleven-minute zoetrope of ideas not once is the groove and binding thread lost. DiSalvo scatters riffs into view with his traditional dexterity but before they can land the wheel is spun and new ideas click into place. Jack Donavon’s bass and Matt Couto’s drums supply a base to this kaleidoscope, one that also twists and turns against the flow, always keeping things interesting.
Staving off Truth’ is up next and follows a similar blueprint. DiSalvo’s vocals take a more prominent role this time delivering a decent vocal melody. The riffs however are not quite up to the standard of previous tracks and the song hints at a large payoff that never quite emerges.
Blind’ sees the first glimpse of the expansion in sound a fourth member offers. Distorted drums and tremolo guitar flicker in the distance before a vintage
Elder riff slams into earshot. A galloped tee-up follows before falling away into an organ backed vocal refrain. DiSalvo’s vocal suits this treatment and as the pulsing keys dissolve, a bludgeoning half time riff pierces the swell. The band’s ability to fuse ideas together with arpeggio enables them to shape a collection of moments into a cohesive whole. It is perhaps this glue that was absent on ‘Staving off Truth.’ 
Similarly to ‘Sanctuary’ the halfway mark provides an exceptional guitar-lead zenith. The production on ‘Reflections of a Floating World’ follows on from ‘Lore’ but the variety of tones has been expanded, and here a more traditional stoner-fuzz punctures the storm. ‘Blind’ consists of a truly impressive array of ideas that fly by with surprising cohesion. The production allows each musician room to breathe in the mix and the last two minutes are all Donavan’s. His overdriven bass tows the song home under a typically intricate run of melody.
Sonntag’ follows next and delivers the album’s only misfire. Whilst relatively short in the context of the record, eight minutes is far too long to dedicate to an instrumental that doesn’t really go anywhere. It is perhaps an idea that was fun to play and meant to serve as a palette cleanser for the album closer to come. Sadly, for me it unnecessarily saps the momentum from the record and becomes
Elder’s first notable mistake.
Luckily the record finishes on a high. The audacious riff-Tetris returns and just as on ‘Lore,’ subtle strings are deployed to add another touch of epic to an already strong album. As the song rages to a close, the now staple guitar melodies flash and crack in the squall and the record comes to an outstanding close.

Elder have carved out their place at the helm of the underground with a unique sound crafted over time and through force of will. This unique identity is so pronounced in relation to the rest of the stoner canon that they run the risk of becoming our scene’s Radiohead. Whilst it is exciting to have such a talented band flying the flag it is important to be measured and genuine in our support.

Reflections of a Floating World’ is both a glance back and a stride forward. The direct nature of some of the riffs and the weight of their execution sit it comfortably between ‘Spires Burn/Release’ and ‘Lore.’ The expansion of ambition and variety in musical approach however, keep Elder’s eyes firmly fixed on the horizon. The welcome addition of a second guitar and keys also widens the lense through which to view their musical landscape. Not all of the angles succeed, but where the record undoubtedly blooms is in the refinement of the band’s ability to assemble their jigsaw of ideas. Whilst I’m not sure the finished piece surpasses that of ‘Lore’ it is a worthy addition to their discography and bodes well for an exciting continuation of their journey.
 “Reflections of a Floating World” is available

FFO: Sleep, Pallbearer, Samsara Blues Experiment, Baroness

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Monday, 19 June 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Iced Earth - "Incorruptible"

 By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 16/06/2017
Label: Century Media Records

This is the kind of album that Judas Priest should be making- and used to make. “Incorruptible” is a great metal album, it delivers on every level, with every band member excelling in their field. Time for me to get hold of the back catalogue as well, as “Incorruptible” has converted me to being a fan of the band. After nearly thirty years of albums, Iced Earth are deadlier than ever.

“Incorruptible” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. “Great Heathen Army”
02. “Black Flag”
03. “Raven Wing”
04. “The Veil”
05. “Seven Headed Whore”
06. “The Relic (Part 1)”
07. “Ghost Dance (Awaken The Ancestors)”
08. “Brothers”
09. “Defiance”
10. “Clear The Way (December 13th, 1862)

The Review:

Back with their twelfth album, Iced Earth are something of an American metal institution. Yes, the line up album to album often changed, but with Jon Schaffer at the helm the band has been viewed as perhaps akin to the US version of Iron Maiden in terms of scope and ambition. I have to be honest here, I have never really got into the band until now. I bought “Something Wicked This Way Comes” some years ago but could not get into it. On the strength of Tim “Ripper” Owens involvement, I got hold of the deluxe edition of “The Glorious Burden...” same thing. Maybe I didn't persevere enough, maybe I was expecting something different; whatever the reasons I didn't get it. Until now.

“Incorruptible” is a hugely enjoyable record. It is uncategorisable, other than to say that this is metal. Proper metal. Screaming vocals. Shredding guitars. Massive drums. Rumbling bass. Songs about heathen hordes, piracy, history, brotherhood, nature... they are all here.

The opener “Great Heathen Army” is epic in sound and delivery, but equally is straight to the point in that it goes for the throat and does not let go. Stirring stuff, for sure, as is “Black Flag” (nowt to do with the hardcore punk band- Rollins fronted or otherwise). Changing pace, “Raven Wing” is sublime- it has some undefinable quality that makes for a classic track. It's not a hard rocker or a ballad, but is perhaps a distant cousin to a track like Accept'sPrincess of the Dawn”. Have a listen and you may understand where I am coming from.

There are vicious head bangers such as “Seven Headed Whore” and “Defiance” epic trad metal like “The Relic (Part 1”), an instrumental (“Ghost Dance..”.), trad power balladry with a metal heart (“Brothers”) and a suitably epic closer in the form of “Clear The Way (December 13th 1862)”. The production is never less than state of the art, the musicianship superlative. More important is that the songs deliver as well.

This is the kind of album that Judas Priest should be making- and used to make. “Incorruptible” is a great metal album, it delivers on every level, with every band member excelling in their field. Time for me to get hold of the back catalogue as well, as “Incorruptible” has converted me to being a fan of the band. After nearly thirty years of albums, Iced Earth are deadlier than ever.

“Incorruptible” is available everywhere now

FFO: Judas Priest, Blind Guardian, Iron Maiden, Nevermore

Band info: facebook

Friday, 16 June 2017

INTERVIEW: Demonsmoke recreate the attitude of their surroudings on accomplished debut "Morphine Moonshine"

By: Stephen Murray

At a time when sludge fans are being sold their favourite tipple heavily cut and in short measure, Demonsmoke are the real deal and “Morphine Moonshine”, their first full-length, is an accomplished debut.

It draws directly and joyously from an esteemed musical heritage that takes in early Sourvein and the first two Eyehategod LPs, and draws alongside the sounds of Weedeater and Dopethrone. And like those heavyweights, Demonsmoke are steeped in hard living.

“We're from the slums of the [San Joaquin-Sacramento River] Delta,” explains drummer Mitch Groseclose, alluding to another Delta notorious for paradoxically serious partying and swollen grooves. “We just try to recreate the attitude of where we live.”

Demonsmoke grew up together in Antioch, California, mostly meeting in the local high school apart from bass player Boug Groseclose who is Mitch’s uncle. Eight years after high school, Mitch met guitarist Vinny Messina again at a party and soon after they began jamming together. Nothing was to come of that, but after the abrupt end of the band Mitch and vocalist Cam Salas were both part of, the way was paved for the three to come together, Mitch then bringing in Boug to complete the rhythm section.

“We love heavy shit and having a good time,” says Mitch. “We decided to start a band that sounds like the music we all love to listen to.”

Woozy, iron heavy guitarwork punching through feedback, lo-fi film samples lifted from Mitch's large VHS collection (notably Gummo, The Wild Angels, Apocalypse Now and GG Allin), and overlaid with reverb-sodden bong-gurgle vocals. There is no ambiguity as to the kinds of record collections that inspired the creation of “Morphine Moonshine”. The sound is unashamedly classic sludge, and the band are keen to point out the help they had in creating it from Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studios, Oakland.

“Recording the album was an amazing experience” says Mitch. “[He] really knows his shit!  We showed him the demo, recorded by Nick Masson at Blue Rock Studios two years earlier, and he was down to record the full length. We were super excited and all ears when we showed up in the studio. Greg made sure all of our gear sounded tits before we even put a microphone to them. Our vision of the album came out better than we could have hoped. Crispy, crunchy, fuzzy as hell, but you could still hear everything clearly. Greg is a super nice, down-to-earth guy and knows his shit about more than just recording. He dropped tons of wisdom on us and the whole experience was enjoyable as hell.”

Beyond the music, the record also adheres closely to sludge traditions thematically. The band name, album’s title and artwork, as well as individual song titles like 'Set in Stoned’ and album highlight 'Junkie’, signal the group's subcultural position unabashed.
“Wouldn't be stoner rock without some stoners in the group!” says Cam.
Now that Proposition 64 has passed making the sale of recreational marijuana legal in California, surely life has never been so good for stoners.

“We're not political in our music, but personally I think legalization is a double edged situation,” Cam muses. “On one hand I’m glad to see more acceptance of weed, but on the other hand big business is going to try and get involved and I don't want it to get all commercialized.”

Mitch is also unsure about what the new legislation means. “Weed has always been my drug of choice. I grew up with ADHD and all those fucking speed pills, so smoking pot seemed like the natural medicine to me. I've had my medical card for nine years now and really enjoy the system. Prop 64 wasn't necessary, I think, because things were already set up if you wanted them to be.

“I've tried almost all drugs,” Mitch continues. “I had a big psychedelic phase. Mushrooms, LSD, DMT, 2C-I. I loved opening up my mind. Now I mostly just stick to weed and hash. I'm a big-time dabber!” he laughs.

While not all the band indulges, Mitch isn't the only member to have broader tastes in this regard.

“Well I used to pretty much do whatever I could get my hands on,” Vinny admits. “Went from smoking weed, droppin’ acid and eating shrooms to doin’ coke and oxy. Got into a lot of trouble with crank there for a little while, but now all I really do is drink. Got me a class A and I'm drivin’ big rigs now so I can't fuck up and come up dirty, ya know?”

Listening to “Morphine Moonshine” it's hard to imagine any of the band not coming up dirty. This record would impart a hazy high to even the most hard-bitten prohibitionist who ventured to listen to it and is a tonic for any hangover. It's as if the thing was crafted with an alternative harm reduction motto in mind:  Crush. Dab. Weight.

“Morphine Moonshine” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: In Human Form - "Opening of the Eye by Death of the I"

By Brandon Green

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/06/2017
Label: I, Voidhanger Records

The complexity of the songwriting on all of the tracks leaves the listener discovering many layers over multiple listens. This band has some serious talent, and absolutely deserves your time. A massively unique release weaving together so many influences it’s difficult to quantify them all.  This is excellent music, and I can’t wait for future releases from this band.

“Opening of the Eye by Death of the I” CD//DD track listing:

1). Le délire des negations
2). All Is Occulted by Swathes of Ego
3). Apollyon Synopsis
4). Zenith Thesis, Abbadon Hypothesis
5). Ghosts Alike
6). Through an Obstructionist's Eye

The Review:

After their first full length album in 2013, “Earthen Urn”, which was independently released, it was clear the New England outfit had an extremely unique and captivating direction for their black metal sound. Taking a more progressive approach with massively complex-yet-catchy song structures, In Human Form have mastered their craft and continue to surprise. Fast forward to 2017, In Human Form has outdone themselves with an absolutely fantastic release packed full with aggression, prog, and jazz-fueled black metal. The new album, “Opening of the Eye by the Death of the I”, is every bit as raw, introspective, and evil sounding as some of my favorite black metal records. I’ve personally lost count to how many times I’ve listened to this release.

6 tracks in length, the album is mostly constructed with three longer (~15 min) epic tracks with instrumental compositions in between. Overall, the album flows amazingly well given the extremely complicated song structures. The record has many introspective as well as meditative moments among the scorching black metal sections, and the vocal performance on these songs are impressive with Patrick Dupras’ throaty black metal screams and carefully written lyrics/patterns about mortality and mysticism. Nick Clarke’s guitar work is masterfully crafted with an amazing balance of progressive and jazz tinged compositions among the beastly black metal sections. The drum work, although frequently mid-paced, is mind-numbingly complicated and tight throughout, and the bass riffs are carefully constructed to pop and compliment everything in chaotic harmony. The nonlinear approach is highly welcomed on this release, and frankly blows my mind how In Human Form crafts their music and keeps the music paced extremely well. My favorite song is “Through an Obstructionist’s Eye”, which is the album closer.  The opening riff is massively catchy, and the song goes in so many amazing and unthinkable directions a black metal band would typically care to venture.

I’ve had the pleasure of catching In Human Form live a few times where they performed many of the tracks from the new record, and these songs are played with every bit of mastery as they were recorded. The complexity of the songwriting on all of the tracks leaves the listener discovering many layers over multiple listens. This band has some serious talent, and absolutely deserves your time. A massively unique release weaving together so many influences it’s difficult to quantify them all.  This is excellent music, and I can’t wait for future releases from this band.

“Opening of the Eye by the Death of the I” drops on June 23, 2017 on I, Voidhanger Records and is available here

FFO: Ihsahn, Enslaved, Ephel Duath, Death, Frank Zappa

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Thursday, 15 June 2017

RIFF REWIND (15/06/2013): Jex Thoth - "Blood Moon Rise"

Jex Thoth is an american  psychedelic rock band from San Francisco. The band name is derived from the name of the singer Jessica Bowen and her pseudonym, with the surname Thoth coming from the name of the Egyptian goddess Thoth.

Founded under the name of Totem, the band released an eponymous EP via the Swedish record label I Hate Records in 2007 and renamed themselves Jex Thoth shortly thereafter.  The following year, their self - titled debut album of the band was released, with a song from album having already featured on a split single with the band Pagan Altar.  The “Totem” EP was released as a re-release, as well as another EP called “Witness”. 

 Heavy and thick in the spirit of Black Sabbath, brewed with the soul of Sabbath contemporaries like Amon Düül II, Pink Floyd, Heart and Blue Öyster Cult. Their classic song craft, weaving melodies, rich tones, and crushing drums will have even the most sober of listeners completely transfixed!

“Blood Moon Rise” delivers not only a collection of catchy doom ballads, but a flowing tapestry of cursed, psychedelic heavy metal. The album reflects Jex Thoth’s expanded vision, while incorporating celebrated elements from the band's self-titled debut. Mixing shamanistic and futuristic sounds with harsh and more subtle tones, it cradles and sways, dooms and dances, shivers and quakes. Some tracks send you floating away, while others bind you firmly to the earth.  Today we rewind the riffs back 4 years to the day and reacquaint ourselves with Jex Thoth second full length “Blood Moon Rise”.

So if you missed it the first time, be sure to remedy you error by checking out our review in full below. 

By: Lucas Klaukien

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 15/6/2013
Label: I Hate Records

Blood Moon Rise cover art

“Blood Moon Rise” CD//DD//CS//LP track listing:

01) To Bury (2:54)
02) The Places You Walk (5:04)
03) The Divide (6:38)
04) Into a Sleep (4:06)
05) And the River Ran Dry (1:12)
06) Keep Your Weeds (5:49)
07) Ehj¤ (8:16)
08) The Four of Us Are Dying (3:59)
09) Psyar (8:33)

The Review:

What can I say about a record that may go down as one of the least sludgy in the history of SLUDGELORD?  What could I possibly say to convince hardcore sludgesters out there that this is a record that they should probably pick up or at least look into because they’ll probably dig it?

Hm.  Nothing I suppose.  But I’ll try anyway, because no matter where you’re coming from on your heavy journey through music land, you probably will dig this record.  First off I’d call it psychedelic doom with beautiful vocals, blessed by nature with Jex Thoth’s feminine timbre.   I’d say that the music is darker than you might think.  Then I’d say, never mind all that and just give it a listen because this is some incredible stuff.

To my mind and ears, ‘Blood Moon Rise’ is the Return of the Jedi of doom.  First you find yourself out on the western plain, in a desert setting, then you’re deep in the forest and the spectre of the dark side hangs over the balance of the record.  There’s some amazing atmosphere on this thing, it grows thick along the walls like humidity; this is one of the deepest and richest atmospheric records I’ve heard. 

The tones are so low, the vibes are so slow that it’s almost like drone with song structure.  Its music peeled from a wisp of smoke, then unleashed down a deep dark abyss.  “The Divide” is the best example of this, dressed in the black and crimson robes of a forest ceremony, this song plunges into the heart of the listener.  This is accomplished by the sparseness of drums, not just on “The Divide” but throughout the record, which allows us to forget all about the business, the hustle and bustle of urban life that I’m positive we are all too familiar with.  It’s only natural that the less busy, deep dark tones bring out those foresty feelings in listeners.  Of course, the forest of Jex Thoth is no tranquil refuge; it is a distressing place, packed with tribulation behind every tree.

Ehjä” sheds some light on Thoth’s atmospheric keyboards, though only just a pinpoint of moonlight between the leaves.  This is where that droniness comes into play, slow riffs and Jex just leaning on the keys for minutes straight, yet there’s still a lot of movement and ironically, the atmosphere is more suggestive than it is explicit or emphasized as it is usually in ambient drone, ironically making it all the more potent for its subtlety.

If you’re looking for the more uptempo stuff, well there’s not a lot of that here, but “The Places You Walk” is a rockin’ little number, more of an insistent pounding than something that can truly be called fast.  Apart from that, the rest of the album is incredibly consistent in mood with the only track that disrupts the flow being “Keep Your Weeds”, which ironically was the first song I heard from this album.  Needless to say I wasn’t ready for the relentless psychedelic occult doom rumble this album had to offer.

This is Jex’s second album and she sounds confident, her backing band is competent and tastefully understated, allowing the vocals to shine atop, rather than being pinned beneath the deep low tones that the doom factory behind her pumps out.  When the glimmering wraith appears from behind the bent boughs of a primeval forest inviting the listener to forbidden worlds, you want to go with, so when ‘Blood Moon Rise’ invites the listener to supernatural places, you should go and see what happens.  You may find a new home there, or they may find your body weeks later, your head a squished puddle.  It’s up to you.  I’d risk it.  In fact I did, I – (squish).

Band info: Official || Facebook