Wednesday, June 19, 2019
After over a year off for various reasons, we have returned solely because we wanted to review the new Beastwars album. I really wanted to review this as I was at this band's debut album release show in their hometown back in what now seems like many years ago.
If you're unfamiliar with the band common reference points are early Soundgarden (by that, forget Superunknown and anything afterwards),early Mastodon (pre-Crack the Skye) and High on Fire but as far as this listener can tell Beastwars have for the most part put their own spin on sludge. This is a reunion album of sorts which means it could easily be forgettable like the final Soundgarden album, what was it called again?
On this album, Beastwars initial call for attention is entitled "Raise the Sword", and they sound like a band ready for battle, which is fitting since frontman Matt Hyde was battling lymph node cancer before this album. The song is slow with an early Soundgarden dueling the Jesus Lizard sound and you have to give a New Zealand band huge props for using a very fitting Bruno Lawrence sample from the New Zealand dystopian movie, The Quiet Earth. "Wolves and Prey" is one of those songs that the word sludge was invented to describe. It sounds like the musical equivalent of a concrete mixer's end result before drying and it's the kind of heaviness you get stuck in and have difficulty escaping in a hurry. "Storms on Mars" shows that Matt Hyde can do much more than just roar although he also does that here, this song sees getting tuneful and able to carry a melody (although if you're familiar with their song, Iron Wolf you would have known that he possessed this ability). Beastwars really build an oppressing atmosphere and the entire band changes tempo a few times in this song using a quiet/loud soft/heavy dynamic combined with the sheer emotion conveyed vocally make it one of the highlights of the album.
The early Soundgarden worship is incredibly strong in "Omens". It runs a little too close to the original for my liking and detracts from Beastwars' own musical stamp on sludge. Hyde's vocals on "Sound of the Grave" evoke a haunting feel as he takes a much more melodic approach yet manages to sound like he has risen from the grave. A lot of death metal vocalists are going to go green with envy. At the beginning of "The Traveller", Matt howls over a guitar are reminiscent of blues players like Howlin' Wolf. The song is shortly pulled back into the modern world of music and the slow building tempo changes lend the tune motion.
The piano in "Like Dried Blood" will take a number of listeners by surprise as it takes nothing away from the musical heaviness and aids in weighing down the sheer heaviness of the subject matter of the song. Relax though, Beastwars haven't turned into Ben Folds Five as the heaviness is turned up more than a notch around the mid-point of the song where the guitars just about drown out the sound of the piano.
"IV" is not only a strong comeback album but a strong album overall. "Storms on Mars" is the song most likely to hook new listeners in and it is baffling that it wasn't released as a single rather than the early Soundgarden alike, "Omens". IV is definitely designed to be listened to as an album with three slower somber songs concluding the album you just know that thought went into putting the songs in order. I'm crossing my fingers that I get to see the band live the next time I'm in New Zealand.
Edit: A little over 12 hours of writing this and the band released this video for "Storms of Mars".
Release date: 28 June 2019
Friday, May 18, 2018
Record Label: Ripple Music
High Priestess are a recently new Los Angeles trio who play heavy psychedelic music. The band was formed in 2016 through an advertisement that the band's bass player and vocalist, Mariana Fiel placed on Craigslist when she was seeking like-minded musicians. The band now consists of Katie Gilchrest on guitar and vocals, Mariana Fiel on bass/vocals, and Megan Mullins on drums. The three musicians released a five song demo in 2017 and got a record deal with Ripple Music due to their musical style and the strength of their work so their first album has now come into fruition.
The first song "Firefly" informs their listening masses as to what High Priestess is all about. The band immediately lay on a hypnotic psychedelic groove which the the trio then incorporate with the slow crushing plod of doom metal. The soaring yet melodic vocals add further to the ethereal quality of the song. The ten minutes of the song takes psychedelic influences from the past and the metal element and the prominence of the instruments gives the song a modern feel. "Despise You" opens with a much more laid back approach and the singing starts much earlier in the piece. This second composition also takes a metallic twist with loud drums and frightening growls that seem much more sinister than most death metal bands as they aren't a constant feature and take you by surprise. Elements of the song are reminiscent of Soundgarden but High Priestess definitely have their own unique thing going.
The intro to "Banshee" wails doom metal but the dreamy vocals come in and the loud drums disappear for a while only to return again. The band utilize the loud-quiet-loud approach to great effect. "Take the Blame" is a fuzzed out heavy jamming rock tune. Some of the tune is in the video below.
The vocals on "Mother Forgive Me" are quiet with some even whispered and this aids the hypnotic psychedelic quality to remain a constant feature.
Starting an album with the longest song didn't seem a wise choice but High Priestess still command your attention immediately and they aren't about quick punches although this self-titled does have a couple of short burners and the variations in tune length are a wise move. This album is recommended for anyone interested in modern psychedelia.
Release Date: 18 May 2018
High Priestess on bandcamp
High Priestess on Facebook
Small Takeover on Facebook
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Record Label: Self-release
In the beginning, there was no God. So God created one. Within the Giant's Reach looked at and listened the last twenty years of metal. And they saw and heard that it was good. So, it is written.
On the first song on "In The Beginning, which is called "The Summit" the band combine a furious Slipknot rhythm with Phil Anselmo style vocals although towards the end of the song the vocalist takes a much more death metal direction. "Faceless" has a digital sound that isn't miles away from Japanese band, Mad Capsule Markets. There's a similar vibe of controlled chaos due to the drummer, Evan Parigi's timekeeping.
After the nu-metal opening,there's a stomping feeling to "Rise". The vocals are definitely used as an instrument in this track and it's an effect that works well for Within The Giant's reach as the drums and the vocals seem to play off each other. This is a track that will have nu-metal fans wetting themselves. Collapse/Rebuild contains the ferocity of early Korn although, for most of the track, the vocals of Norman Lucas head in a more death metal direction. When the semi-rapped part comes in, it's difficult not to think of Biohazard and their melding of hardcore, metal and rap.
This EP is recommended to fans of Coal Chamber, early Korn, Slipknot and other bands mentioned in this review(Pantera don't really count).
Release Date: 11 May 2018
Within The Giant's Reach on bandcamp
Within The Giant's Reach on bandcamp
Monday, May 7, 2018
Record Label: Heavy Friends Records
After releasing their second album in 2017 which we reviewed here. Texan doom merchants Destroyer of Light have returned to the fold and have released a "Hopeless" two song EP. In this day and age, it's becoming more and more questionable as to what exactly constitutes an album, a single or an EP. The lines are undeniably blurred when you consider "Dopesmoker" by Sleep and " Mirror Reaper" by Bell Witch.
On "Hopeless" slow crushing riffs accompanied with clean vocals are the order of the day. This time the vocals of Steve Colca don't remind me quite as much of Ozzy and are more often reminiscent of former Candlemass vocalist Messiah Marcolin. These songs remind me mostly of Candlemass although Destroyer of Light often head towards a more fuzzed out sound. Check out half of this release in the video below and judge for yourselves.
Release Date: 11 May 2018
Destroyer of the Light on bandcamp
Destroyer of Light on Facebook
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Record Label: Cramada
Swedish D-beat should be enough of a description of Deny's music for many out there to know whether or not they like it. Fast and angry punk rock with vocals that border on yelling would be a suitable outline for those unfamiliar with the music of Discharge and the D-beat sub-genre that the UK band spawned and was so named due to the band's drumbeat. The rest of you will already expect fast angry short songs heavily influenced by Discharge. "Parasite Paradise" is a comeback album as it's the first release for the band in a decade.
The longest song on "Parasite Paradise" clocks in at two minutes and twenty two seconds. There's no question as to whether or not this music is punk. It's sandpaper raw and scratches the right itches and places that don't itch until they bleed.
Release Date: 29 April 2018
If you do Spotify you can check them out here
Deny on bandcamp
Deny on Facebook
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Label: Ripple Music
"Already recognised as one of the world's leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of their most ambitious projects to date, The Second Coming of Heavy Series.
Serving as an ongoing showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each installment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multi-coloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, like a fine anthology of books. So much so when the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines form a mind-blowing image direct from the underground".
The above quote was taken from the electronic press kit that accompanied the review copy of this album and it hits the nail on the head with the information about this series and the record label releasing the material.
This volume features a North American and a European band. The American band, Ride The Sun hail from Southern California and the European band, The Trikes are residents of Germany. The balance of this LP favours the US band, Ride The Sun get five songs and The Trikes get four. Time for some US/European trade balance discussion. There's a raw rock sound to a number of these tracks which is more Motorhead than Kyuss. According to Ride The Sun's bandcamp, there are two vocalists in this band, which maybe why sometimes the vocals are close to close to Neil Falloon of Clutch and at other times much rawer.
While Ride The Sun are about rocking your face of, their German offsiders, The Trikes are more laid back and instead of going for the throat, this band creep up on the listener with catchy melodic, jamming guitars and a reliable drummer providing the background beat which all fit into a psychedelic groove of fuzz together. Just listening to the music, it's impossible not to get the feeling that these musicians know each other well. A further inspection of their bandcamp site reveals that the vocalist/drummer and the bassist share a family name.
If I had to declare a winner between the two bands, then the prize would go to The Trikes as their musicianship is clearly of high caliber however it's clear Ride The Sun achieve their goal of rocking out and taking others along for the ride.
Release Date: 4 May 2018
The Trikes on bandcamp/Ride The Sun on bandcamp
The Trikes on Facebook/Ride the Sun on facebook
Monday, April 23, 2018
Four Lights are a pop punk band from Seattle. Kobayasi Maru is their second record. The band's music falls somewhere between power pop and punk-pop. The emphasis is more weighted towards pop than either punk or power with tight harmonies. The press sheet mentions a Weezer influence and that band definitely comes through in "Characters" and "Scene of The Crime". However, this whole album is about as punk and, for that matter, about as pop as The Goo Goo Dolls have been since they got a song in a Meg Ryan movie (check out their "Hold Me Up" and "Superstar Wash" albums for when they peaked musically).
Record Label: North AmericaBomb Pop Europe: Stardumb
Despite my complaints, the catchiness of most the songs on Kobayasi Maru is undeniable but this album feels too long as too many of the songs just blend together. Four Lights claim to love nerd culture and be pop punk but anyone hoping Four Lights used "Milo Goes to College" as a blueprint is heading for a disappointment. To be fair to Four Lights, the most appealing songs on "Kobayashi Maru" are songs that run over the three minute mark. "Jimmy's Song Part 2" and "Characters". In these tunes, Four Lights really put themselves across as tight and accomplished songwriters.
If emo or Weezer excites you, then "Kobayashi Maru" will be for you. Now, where is that nomeansno album?
Release Date: 20 April 2018
Four Lights on bandcamp
Four Lights on Facebook
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