Thursday, 21 September 2017

Spectral Haze - Turning Electric (Album Review)


Release date: October 20th 2017. Label: Totem Cat Records. Format: CD/DD/VInyl

Turning Electric – Tracklisting

1. The Dawn Of The Falcon
2. Turning Electric
3. Cathexis/Mask Of Transformation
4. Ajaghandi
5. They Live
6. Master Sorcerer

Members

Spacewülff - Interstellar Howls/Geetarrrgh
Sönik Slöth - Supercosmic overdrive pedalinfused guitarvoid
Döômdögg - Dronemachinated AUM
Cëlestïal Cöbra - Conjurer of souls through ritual drums

Review

Spectral Haze return with their new album - Turning Electric - and their first release for their new label - Totem Cat Records. Turning Electric sees Spectral Haze taking the bold and bravado from legendary Stoner Rockers Monster Magnet and the classic psychedelic sounds of the mighty Hawkwind. With the album being a very exciting and fast paced affair.

The opening track - The Dawn Of The Falcon - opens with a psychedelic whirlwind exploding into a myriad of different sounds. Before the heavy stoner riffs and high calibre vocals of Spacewülff appear. The song runs frantically with its Hawkwind inspired space rock vibes before fully exploding into a Monster Magnet style rhythm. The vocals are very good indeed. Not the most original of vocals but they have quite a flair about them. The music on the other hand is vibrant with the band playing a faster and more fluid style of Space/Stoner Rock. The only thing that I didn't enjoy about this song was the constant piano sounds that slows the mood right down.

Second song - Turning Electric - carries on the same mood and atmosphere from the opening track and unfortunately the piano makes another brief appearance. The lyrics are very cool indeed. Simply written but with a catchy sing-along chorus. The whole mood of the song is very fast indeed with Spectral Haze adding weirder and wonderfully psychedelic spaced out sounds to the mix.

Third track - Cathexis/Mask Of Transformation - has a more classic fuzz rock feel with the band also adding a doomier feel. The vocals have a more "heavy-metal" feel compared to other songs on the album with vocalist Spacewülff changing styles at different parts of the song. Though they have a distinctive Dave Wyndorf vibe to them. The second part of the song sees Spectral Haze enter into "Earthless" jam-based psychedelic rock territory. This song is the standout song on the album. As it's quite epic at times.

The next two songs Ajaghandi and They Live - offer almost thirteen minutes of superbly played Psych/Stoner Rock. The fuzzy guitars make Spectral Haze's sound standout even more. As the whole tone of the album becomes decidedly clearer and louder. There are quite a few demonic sounding laughs lurking in the background that adds a sense of devilish fun to the whole flow and feel of the album.

The final track - Master Sorcerer - has a more world weary vibe compared to the other songs on the album. As the riffs are doomier and slightly sinister in tone. Spectral Haze approach this song with a sense of dread with the band writing truly "classic" doom metal sounding lyrics. This song shows you that the band are not all about space rock theatrics. As they create a good old fashioned sounding doom metal song. Sure, there are strands of heavy psychedelic stoner rock appearing within the song but it's the not-so-subtle doomier vibes that hold your attention. I would have loved to hear the band play this style of music more on the album. Maybe next time....

Turning Electric is a superb album from Spectral Haze and it's one that offers genuine moments of true excitement within the Doom/Stoner Metal world.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for the promo. Turning Electric will be available to buy via Totem Cat Records on CD/DD/Vinyl from October 20th 2017.

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Spotlights - Seismic (Album Review)


Release date: October 06th 2017. Label: Ipecac Recordings. Format: CD/DD/VInyl

Seismic – Tracklisting

1. Seismic
2. Learn to Breathe
3. The Size of the Planet
4. Ghost of a Glowing Forest
5. Under the Earth
6. A Southern Death
7. The Opening
8. What is This? Where Are We?
9. Hollow Bones
10. Hang Us All
11. The Hope of a Storm

Members

Sarah Quintero - Bass/Guitar/Vocals
Mario Quintero - Guitar/Synths/Vocals
Chris Enriquez - Drums

Review

Spotlights play a beautiful style of Sludge, Doom, Post-Rock, Noise and Shoegaze kind of sound. Parts The Melvins, Torche, ISIS (The Band) and Helms Alee but offering their own unique heavy sound. The band return with their sophomore effort - Seismic. A lush and progressive musical odyssey that captures the listener's imagination from the very start with brooding drums and haunting played riffs.

Opening song - Seismic - is a song that captures the balance between light and heavy sounds with Spotlights operating with a distinctive shoegaze authority. The song changes from melodic sludge/post-metal heaviness to a more refined doom-pop/shoegaze environment. The ambient and psychedelic sounds add a very cool and very friendly feel to the whole feel of the album. The dual vocals have a warm embrace around them. As Spotlights maybe distinctively a heavy rock band but they bring you into their sludgy rock world with loving open arms.

Second song - Learn To Breathe - has a classic eighties/nineties shoegaze approach with the band keeping the sludge riffs at bay and replaces them with a heavy alternative rock feel. The band adds their soulful and addictive vocals to the song at different parts of the song. The vocals have quite a stop-start approach that matches the flow and vibrancy of the song.

Third track - The Size Of The Planet - has more of a classic post-rock/post-metal feel that brings back memories of ISIS (The Band) at the top of their creative powers. It's a beautifully played slow piece with Spotlights on mesmerizing form. The shoegaze/doom-pop feel of the song is what holds your attention. Seismic has this magnetic and addictive hold over you as the heavy played sludge riffs leave you wanting more. The dual vocals and superbly written lyrics make the emotional connection between the album and the listener only stronger.

Fourth song - Ghost Of A Flowing Planet - is perhaps my favourite song on the album as it opens with a fantastic psychedelic/sludge hybrid sound with dreamlike vocals to match. The lyrics are simply written but Spotlights deliver them with ultimate grace and style.

Spotlights carry on their experimental doom/sludge rock vibes with more outstanding songs such as Under The Earth, A Southern Death, Hollow Bones and The Hope Of A Storm. Spotlights opt for a more drone based sound on later stages of the album without compromising the almost feel-good and uplifting sludge/post-metal/doom metal riffs they capture superbly well. Seismic is wonderfully produced with the band sounding incredible from the start.

Spotlights should also get credit for their use of different sounds on the album. As they keep the album sounding wholly original throughout. Seismic is an album that works on so many different levels. It never bows down to genre rules or conventions. Seismic is perhaps one of the boldest and most addictive albums you'll hear this year. I rank Seismic as one of the top ten albums of the year.

A simply incredible and exquisite album.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Monica at SpeakEasy PR for the promo. Seismic will be available to buy via Ipecac Recordings on CD/DD/Vinyl from October 06th 2017.

Links:

Facebook | BandCamp

Mastodon - Cold Dark Place (EP Review)


Release date: September 22nd 2017. Label: Reprise Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Cold Dark Place – Tracklisting

North Side Star
Blue Walsh
Toe To Toes
Cold Dark Place

Members

Brann Dailor - Drums and Vocals
Brent Hinds - Guitar and Vocals
Bill Kelliher - Guitar
Troy Sanders - Bass and Vocals

Review

When Mastodon announced their new EP there was a lot of head-scratching (and excitement for that matter). I mean they had just released one of the years top albums just a few months prior. This felt like a pretty bold and odd move. Since Mastodon certainly don't adhere to the structures of "regular" bands this however do fit in with their nature I guess. Enough about that, let's get into this EP.

I have been in love with Mastodon since first hearing The Hunter in 2011. That was basically my intro to heavy progressive music. So keep in mind that at the same point where longtime fans lost interest in the band i fell head over heels in love with them and their music.

I hear echoes of many albums on Cold Dark Place. There's definitively hints of Blood Mountain and Crack The Skye here on the opening track North Side Star especially. It almost feels like an extension of The Czar from CTS. And while Blue Walsh and the title track itself feels more like "Classic" Mastodon this is without a doubt in the vein of newer Mastodon. The tracks are littered with melody and that might not fall in good graces with some fans. That is not the case with me though, I love this EP. My only gripe is the length of the songs and as a result of that the EP itself.

With darker and gloomier instrumentation (the doomy b-bender guitars sure do add an extra layer that we previously haven't heard in Mastodon). This by no means a doomy record though. It feels very uplifting, bright in parts and full of variation. However the lyrics and emotion gives it a melodramatic taste. This keeps me coming back time and time again, I just can't seem to let it go. Just how awesome is the riffs from Toe To Toes? It makes me think of Van Halen, but in a good way. With fluffy and airy harmonics they hammer it all the way home.

For me the showstealer is Blue Walsh. This happens to be some of Mastodon's finest work regarding vocals. Especially Brann's reverb-laden verse vocals. Ethereal and crisp.

This begs for the question, why isn't this part of Emperor of Sand as a double album? While it certainly doesn't diminish any of these works, it feels like a missed opportunity. However it won't keep me from coming back to this hauntingly Beautiful Cold Dark Place.

Words by Simon Ohlsson

You can buy Cold Dark Place on CD/DD/Vinyl from here.

Links:

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

BIBLICAL - The City That Always Sleeps (Album Review)


Release date: September 15th 2017. Label: TeePee Records (EU/UK/US) - New Damage Records (Canada). Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

The City That Always Sleeps – Tracklisting

1. Mature Themes
2. The Last Thing I Remember
3. Regicide
4. Fugue State
5. Gallows Humor
6. Spiral Staircase
7. The City That Always Sleeps
8. House Of Knives

Members

Nick Sewell
Matt McLaren
Jay Anderson
Andrew Scott

Review

At first I didn't know what to make of Toronto’s Biblical and their brand new album. 'The City That Always Sleeps' got it's grip on me alright, but mainly because of it's strange nature. Couldn't for the life of me grasp it and tie all the pieces together. However, that first spin mesmerized me no end and already during the second spin this out-there record came together and made perfect sense. As a consequence thereof I was lost in a different, wonderful dimension and loving every single bit of it.

Opener ’Mature Themes’ is probably the oddest composition. The music is souped-up 60’s surf music with shouted, angry vocals played by Voivod. Make sense? It sure does, listen and rejoice. Only to end with space sounds in a wonderfully trippy way. It leads into ‘The Last Thing I Remember’ which is a slow, soothing headfuck. Repetitive, distorted vocals over mellow and beautiful instrumentation. ‘Regicide’ has an Opeth-plays-stripped-down space rock-feel to it, where the bass guitar and drums leads the way. The guitar and keyboards add layers on top creating amazing visions. ‘Fugue State’ continues down the same path as ‘Regicide’, at least in tempo and visions conjured up. Brings to mind Porcupine Tree at their very trippiest. Fantastic guitar solo!

Oh yeah! ‘Gallows Humor’ is Killing Joke playing super nova tunes. The tribal drumming and Colemanesque vocals guides the listener through this wonderfully strange song. Instrumental ‘Spiral Staircase’ puts the piano in the front room. A mellow, vast feel permeates throughout and it’s even further enhanced when the guitar solos kicks in. The title track is a beautiful affair where Opeth meets Porcupine Tree on a magic carpet ride only to end with a nod to Tangerine Dream and segue into closer ‘House Of Knives’. Shifting gear, Biblical go full tilt and really kick things out. Akin to Voivod playing surf music, odd but wonderful.

Check out Biblical, folks. They will blow your minds into the closest black hole and then drag you out, only to do it over and over again. These Canadians really pushes the envelope and boundaries to the extreme and I guess this can confuse listeners. But open your minds and let Biblical work their magic on you. Because the end-result is breathtaking!


Words by Håkan Nyman

Thanks to Becky at Pioneer Music and Carl at Action PR for the promo. The City That Always Sleeps is available to buy now on CD/DD/Vinyl via Tee Pee Records (UK/EU/US) and New Damage Records (Canada).


Comacozer - KALOS EIDOS SKOPEO (Album Review)


Release date: August 20th 2017. Label: HeadSpin Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

KALOS EIDOS SKOPEO – Tracklisting

1.AXIS MUNDI 13:40
2.NYSTAGMUS 12:26
3.HYLONOMUS 13:43
4.ENUMA ELISH 12:58

Members

RICK BURKE - GUITARS
RICH ELLIOTT - BASS
ANDREW PANAGOPOULOS - DRUMS / PERCUSSION
FRANK ATTARD - SYNTH / EFFECTS

Review

For those who did not know, Comacozer is a three piece instrumental/stoner/sludge psychonauts that, since their first Session Demo back to 2014 have been able to create their own style and personal vision of music.

With their last album, Kalos Eidos Skopeo (Headspin Records), the band composed by Rick Burke (Guitar), Richard Elliot (Bass), Andrew Panagopoulos (Drums), plus Frank Attard (Synth/Effects), continues its explorative journey to increasingly lysergic sounds. Kalos Eidos Skopeo is more than an album, is a real journey through the soul meanders. My Sleeping Karma fused with Ufomammut and Earthless to give birth to a rainbow of colours, sounds and feelings that will hardly leave the listener indifferent.

All the songs in Kalos Eidos Skopeo are characterized by a length largely over 10 minutes and by passages that bring the listener from (etno)trance to slurry sludge/doom moments. The album opens with Axis Mundi, a fuzzy/doomy song that closely remind me the slow elephantine cadence of the best Bongripper, which in the mid-song leaves room for mystical and psychedelic digressions. The album goes on with three inspired songs that could safely be part of a single ensemble. Psychedelia, mysticism and tons of fuzz are the ingredients that distinguish Enuma Elish, Hylonomous and Nystagmus.

While listening the album, the listener can feel the inspirational vein of Comacozer. Long and inspired songs that, although set along a common axis, do not go indifferent and make Kalos Eidos Skopeo a real concept album where it's easy to get lost. I really believe that with this new release the band has managed to centre a non common goal, that is, combining the inspiration of the moment with the right amount of composition, without exceeding in either of two ways. Nothing to say except that Kalos Eidos Skopeo is, in my opinion, an exceptional record in which Comacozer have succeeded in merging all the different souls that make up their musical background.

Awesome.


Words by Bruno Bellisario

Links:

Facebook | BandCamp

Sunday, 17 September 2017

With The Dead - Love From With The Dead (Album Review)


Release date: September 22nd 2017. Label: Rise Above Records. Format: CD/DD/VInyl

From Love With The Dead – Tracklisting

1. Isolation
2. Egyptian Tomb
3. Reincarnation of Yesterday
4. Cocaine Phantoms
5. Watching the Ward Go By
6. Anemia
7. CV1

Members

Lee Dorrian - vocals
Tim Bagshaw - Guitar
Leo Smee - Bass
Alex Thomas – Drums

Review

Greetings all,

With The Dead came storming out of nowhere a couple of years back. A bit of a dream project/super group with Rise Above Records head honcho/Cathedral, Napalm Death vocalist Lee Dorrian teaming up with the original rhythm section of Electric Wizard (Bagshaw and Greening). Their debut self titled album was a heavy ass slab of doom metal. I understand that something happened and Greening was out on drums and a new band put together. Bagshaw now handles all of the guitars, while Cathedral bassist Leo Smee and Bolt Thrower drummer Alex Thomes were added. The change in line up has only intensified the group.

Love From With The Dead is an absolute monster of a record. It’s seven songs of full on death, darkness, and brutality clocks in at a massive 66 minutes. It is heavy from the first note to the final squawk of feedback.

The album starts with 7+ minutes of the pummelling riffage of Isolation. Which leads into the next monstrosity entitled Egyptian Tomb. These two tracks are dark, but are only the start of what is to come. Reincarnation of Yesterday starts with a big opening and delivers a black mantra like chant that I can only assume is working to bring the dead back among us. Cocaine Phantoms crushes your soul with an ominous guitar riff. Watching the Ward Goes By sounds like a 10+ minute tribute to one of the true kings of dark drums. The song opens with the first half having spoken word over a low bass and drum rumble before exploding into a head shatter riff and guttural screams. Anemia is an intense mix of eerie quietness and face melting heaviness. The record closes with the dark monolith that is CV1. Am unrelenting journey into the dark blackness that is intense and soul stirring. That vocals are raspy and tortured. The rhythm never lets you go and the guitar is heavy and full of feedback and dissonance.

Love From With The Dead casts a large, dark pall over the land. It is unrelenting and brutal. If you are seeking out sheer heaviness, this is it. By far, one of the darkest, heaviest, bleakest albums of the year. The blackest of ink used on the letter penned. If this is With The Dead’s love letter, I am utterly terrified of how their hate mail must read.

Words by Todd Stealey - Instagram @alltheghoststhathauntyou

Love From With The Dead will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Rise Above Records on September 22nd 2017.

Links: Facebook

Hotel Wrecking City Traders - Passage To Agartha (Album Review)


Release date: September 2nd 2017. Label: Cardinal Fuzz/Evil Hoodoo. Format: CD/DD/VInyl

Passage To Agartha – Tracklisting

1.Quasar 11:03
2.Kanged Cortex 11:54
3.Chasing the Tendrils 16:59
4.Passage to Agartha 14:43
5.Ohms of the Cavern Current 11:39
6.Oroshi 22:57

Members

Ben - One Drumkit
Toby - One Guitar

Review

Aussie Instrumental Sludge Rockers - Hotel Wrecking City Traders - new album, Passage To Agartha - is an epic album. Comprising of six tracks and clocking in around ninety minutes. This is an album that you need to take your time with as some parts of the album are very easy to listen. Whilst other parts are of the album is quite experimental and may test the patience of some their fans You can't deny the adventurous drive that the band has shown here. As they've taken their trademark psychedelic sludge/doom instrumental riffs to another level. This is perhaps the most complete album that the band has released to date.

Opening track - Quasar - is a post-rock/post-metal style song with the band exploring many different doom/sludge based atmospherics that finally merges into a heavy psychedelic outburst of different textures and noises. It's a captivating song with Hotel Wrecking City Traders on splendid creative form. The song does falter a few times but the band soon pick themselves up and unleash another heavy spectacular riff and one that drives the song to its natural conclusion.

Second track - Kanged Cortex - is another spaced out song with ambient noises being merged with the heavy sludgy guitars. The noisy and glitchy sound effects take time getting used to but once the dust settles the band once again settle into a more convincing rhythm. Shades of Pelican-esque post-metal riffs appear and that sound drives the album and band onto heavier psychedelic sounds. The drumming is quite jazzy and frantic at times but is perhaps the main driving force of this song. Everything feels built around or upon the intense drumming of Ben.

Third track - Chasing The Tendrils - is the seventeen minute opus that the band closes the first half of the album with. It sees HWCT opening with a more laid back style of post-rock/stoner sounds. The heavy bass keeps the mood driving along. It can be a bit boring at times. As the band don't change direction for the first few minutes of the song. I know that the band have an epic time to fill up. I wanted more variety after listening to the same repetitive sound over and over again. Though it's a different story when the band start playing heavier sludgier/post-metal style grooves. The mood becomes a bit more exciting, As the band start to impress again like they did with the first two opening tracks.

The second half of the album offers three more songs of heavy epic spaced and experimental sludge/post-metal/stoner sounds. The album does veer into more psychedelic/prog rock territories but the band never forgets their sludge/doom/stoner/post-metal roots. Out of the final three songs, Passage To Agartha and Oroshi are perhaps the standout songs on the album. With the band playing a more distorted psychedelic drone style of music.

Passage To Agartha is a very bold and daring album in some respects. As it asks a lot of patience and endurance from the audience. Ninety minutes listening to one album maybe too jarring some and it's perhaps better listening to the album in different stages. As you can easy feel lost with the many different styles of music that the band performs on the album.

The production is quite exquisite with each song having its own distinctive feel and identity. Apart from a few minor flaws, Passage To Agartha is a complex and brilliantly crafted album.

Words by Steve Howe

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