Friday, 31 May 2013

Sardonis / Eternal Elysium - Ascending Circulation split (album review)

Cover artwork by Nat Damm
SardoniS really only came onto my radar when I was sent a copy of 'SardoniS II' in the mail.  I'd known about them for a while by that point and it was on my list of things to "eventually" pick up, but there was no more time wasted once it arrived.  I carefully extracted the disc and threw aside the slipcase in a devil-may-care fashion, throwing myself wholeheartedly into the album.  I liked it.  Great instrumental bands are something peculiar to doom in that they hold the listener's attention without the obvious and immediate hook of the vocal melody.  Think of bands like Bongripper, Giza, Iron Mtn, Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead, It's Not Night: It's Space ... well, there are just so many.  It's only surprising because I don't typically like instrumentals.  Sure I like Metallica's "Call of Ktulu" and "Orion" just like everyone else but what I'm saying is, I don't normally go for non-vocal music.  But I go for SardoniS in a big way and after recently discovering Eternal Elysium (a band that's been around for over 20 years!) due to my recent review of their 'Highflyer' EP for The Sludgelord blog, I found this album and it was some sort of Lovecraftian dream come true.  Rarely do I find splits that not only do I know both bands, but both are trusted.  Wheelfall / A Very Old Ghost Behind the Farm comes to mind, as does the upcoming Wo Fat / Egypt split but it's a rare treat indeed.

'Ascending Circulation', was put together for the tour of Japan SardoniS did with Eternal Elysium and just as they did for the October shows, SardoniS takes the stage first with their first offering "The Ascending".

I know people who can't listen to music with lyrics in any other language than English.  They are lyrically fixated to a fault.  It means there's a whole world of music that they don't get to enjoy.  Oh well.  I'm not that way, I listen to the vocal melody rather than the lyrics, allowing certain lines and passages to get caught in the meat grinder that is my head naturally and organically.  One of the most interesting aspects of music is the way it is connected to language in the brain, the rhythms of the music mirroring the rhythms of the composer's mother tongue.  It's for this reason that Eternal Elysium offer some of the most unique and funky rhythms within the broad field of psychedelic stoner doom music.  The Japanese language is rhythmically interesting in that it is full of abrupt stops and starts, punctuated by melodic flourishes and rapid fire monotone, followed by sudden stops and starts, etc.  All composers have this same tendency to mirror linguistic rhythms, tones, etc. and SardoniS is no exception.  The native Belgians don't need a vocalist to speak in a language distinct from that of their tour and split companions from the far east.  For nine and a half minutes the duo that is SardoniS belches out swelling rhythms in a song that isn't all that interesting structurally, but never drags or loses the listener.

Eternal Elysium unleashes their raggedy funk on the Japanese / English "Unbound (Kai Hoh)".  The song has the same swaggering, shambling appeal as a homeless drunk has to an insatiable murderer, the temptation to give in to impulses cannot be ignored.  Thankfully, we aren't murderers, we're headbangers, and our naturally rambunctious compulsions are indeed set free on this one.  The next track, "Circulation (Jun Kan)" ended up on the aforementioned Highflyer EP which was released just three weeks after this split.  It's got a great riff and the memorable line, "the future is completely blank".  Apart from the atomic blast that is SardoniS' "To The Barn!", it's probably the most uptempo and immediately hooky song on this split.

Because of the audible background buzz, "The Spiral Conclusion" sounds like a home recording that was never intended to see release.  Indeed, it was recorded roughly a year before the other two songs on this disc and it, along with "To The Barn!", are CD only bonus tracks that weren't on the original 10" record or bandcamp download.  This nearly eight minute instrumental is the perfect illustration of what I mentioned earlier about the linguistic origins of music.  The song starts out almost as a traditional Japanese folk song with plucked strings in the classical style and builds slowly into something recognizably stoner rock.

To take nothing away from SardoniS, Eternal Elysium steal the show here with their infectious rhythms.

Highlights include: "Circulation" and "The Ascending"

Rating: 4/5

1). SardoniS - The Ascending (9:28)
2). SardoniS - To The Barn (4:21)
3). Eternal Elysium [Kai Hoi] (8:04)
4). Eternal Elysium [Jun Kan] (6:25)
5). Eternal Elysium [The Spiral Conclusion] (7:40)
Total Run Time: 35:56

From: Belgium (SardoniS), Japan (Eternal Elysium)

Genre: Doom, Instrumental, Psychedelic, Stoner

Reminds me of: Monster Magnet

Release Date: October 4, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: The journey of the warrior's spirit begins in the body (SardoniS) and ends in the mind (Eternal Elysium) ...

Better Review:
The Sludgelord
The Sleeping Shaman
Robust Fellow

Sardonis facebook
Eternal Elysium facebook


Thursday, 30 May 2013

Artaius - The Fifth Season (album review)

My attitude going into this one was that I never understood the genre classification 'folk metal'.  It seems no two musical ideas could be more diametrically opposed.  Folk is folk and metal is metal and the twain shall never meet.  Folk has nothing to do with blast beats and everything to do with the traditional, regional music that the local folk (of whatever region) have played long before there were such things as recording studios, pro tools and pitch correction software.  If the term folk metal is applied to music exhibiting the traditional qualities of metal then it should simply be called Heavy Metal or Traditional Metal.  If it's metal in a naturalistic setting, that is, the kind of music people play socially when just getting together to jam and play, the sounds produced would be nothing like the music that gets the 'folk metal' tag slapped on it.  If the term has arisen out of an apparent wedding of folk music with metal well, I simply don't hear the 'folk' part of it.  Folk music is not simply what springs up from the archaic instruments associated with it.

So maybe I was getting off on the wrong foot here.  Looking at Artaius, an Italian band, who consider themselves to be a part of this genre, have released their debut full-length via Moonlight Records.  I would say a more accurate description of the band would be Progressive rather than folk.  There are flutes and stringed instruments you play with bows and yes, there's even the odd chord progression one would associate with traditional music.  Flutes always evoke an image of the very forests that are the physical origin of the instrument's creation.  It's an almost supernaturally spiritual connection that is unavoidable and somehow beautifully life (or creation) affirming.  But these forest feelings are swept aside by the choking exhaust of space-age keyboards that make their striking first appearance early on opening track "Make The Iguana".

Fiddles and wood-chopping guitars get a rhythmic assist from some snakily zipping keyboards, spilling out into seventies smooth jazz with funk flourishes on "Over The Edge".  Got all that?  The entire album is draped  in this sort of crazy quilt of styles.  It would be so easy for Artaius to get hamfisted and crash right through the delicate lattice work they've set up by trying too hard to be different.  However, there's an undeniable genuineness to the overall sound, something natural in the coming together of the various influences found within.  Still, while the beautiful female vocals and male death metal grunts sing in "harmony" on this track, bringing to mind perhaps early Paradise Lost circa 'Gothic', one can't help but smile wryly at the effort nonetheless.  But despite the progressive overtones and challenging clash of styles this album isn't all about busting out the calculator and bursting brain vessels, there are moments of true neck breaking headbangery on display spread throughout the length of the album.  Amazingly, these moments are often underscored by flute or fiddle accompaniment, who the hell would have ever expected to headbang or mosh to that?  Folk Metal people I suppose.

It's not until about the time that "Prophecy" rolls across the speakers (about halfway through the album) that this thing comes together for the listener.  You've heard the pitch, you've sampled the introduction, now you have the proof of concept.  Here the band serve up their thickest cuts of riffs, dark as the acid trippin' pupil of Robin Goodfellow (sticking with the 'folk' theme), undeniably ear-watering (haha ... gross) and unrepentantly heavy, yes even the flute (yummy).  This is the point at which the album makes the most sense on first listen and paves the way for your ears to feast during the final stretch, the four winds suite and it's precursor "La Vergine E Il Lupo", which has a 2001: A Space Odyssey set in a Celtic forest vibe to it.

As I alluded to the last four tracks make up a 16 minute 'Wind' suite.  The styles of the band fall into place once again on "Wind of Revenge", revisiting that dark edge that gives this band such potential to become something truly special.

So has Artaius made me re-think my position on the supposed subgenre of folk metal?  No, not at all.  I still contend that this is prog music, complete with polyrhythms and formulae defying song structures.  But that's besides the point, because at the end of the day this is just metal, any further splintering of classification could only serve to dilute its impact on the listener.

Highlights include: "Prophecy" and "Wind of Revenge"

Rating: 3.5/5

Total Run Time: 50:29

Sara Cucci (Voice)
Andrea La Torre (Guitar/Growl)
Giovanni Grandi (Keyboard/Synth/Scream)
Enrico Bertoni (Bass Guitar)
Mia Spattini (Violin/Whistle)
Alessandro Ludwig Agati (Drums/Percussions)

From: Sassuolo, Italy

Genre: Metal, Progressive

Reminds me of: Lord of the Rings, Paradise Lost

Release Date: April 10, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Finding the Mordor in your own backyard.

Better Review:
Sea of Tranquility
Prog Metal Zone

Artaius facebook

Fair Warning! Don't Miss ... Boneworm

Got a Pay What You Want download here of a band so good it feels mighty guilty to have my paypal be deactivated at the moment.  Heavy as lead shoes, slow as molasses dripping from a sloth's butt yet somehow still as catchy as an STD in Thailand.  You've got to check out Boneworm.  Who are they?  Where are they from?  How did they get here?  Read on ...


"The themes on Boneworm's self-titled debut are brutish and desolate. Songs of love have their place in timid ballads and frivolous pop ephemera. But concepts like failure and crushing doubt are burdensome beasts that are best caged and conveyed in music that is unafraid to handle them. This has always been the dire necessity of metal music. Boneworm tells these tales by calling upon rasped howls, punishing bass, and the occasional guitar solo that delicately pulls us aside and promises that nothing will ever be ok again.

For a genre that is frequently looking outward into the psychedelic aether, Boneworm offers their doom with a sense of crushing immediacy. Which is the more terrifying, the intricate words of a sinister hex being cast, or plaintively being told that nothing matters because time is already against you?

To be fair, imagery of bubbling cauldrons and mystic dimensions is overkill when you're already writing your music against the backdrop of Portland, Orygun. A discerning ear will detect the homages and influences, but Boneworm's sound is brewed and bottled in a northwest style. This is the soundtrack to rain-slick blacktop glowing under sodium lamps. This is the thump and rattle of freight trains and rattling windows in the industrial district. This is the distinct sound of Cascadian doom.

Boneworm is Tim Burke. Tim plays guitar and shoulders the burden of knowing exactly how you are going to die.

Boneworm is Dave Becker. Dave plays bass and, like a lich or a Roman emperor, only seems to be growing more powerful with age.

Boneworm is Chaz Rocker. Chaz plays drums and hangs out with your Camaro-driving uncle. Ask about the weekend they drove to Reno."

upcoming shows


Boneworm on facebook

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Grave Disgrace - Triumphant & Militant Church (album review)

Grave Disgrace came to my attention sometime last summer while searching albums "tagged with doom" on bandcamp.  The cover of their self-titled debut grabbed me, something about it told me this was going to be something that wouldn't disappoint.  It didn't, I'm still listening to that album, especially "The Mire Brings".  It's very Sabbath-y in the sense that the vocals are Ozzy-like and the guitar hits that perfect Iommi tritone that's neither too thick and distorted nor too thin and weak.  In fact, this slightly mysterious Russian band gets things just right more often than not from the artwork on down.  By the time I discovered they had a new release out, it had been a while since I heard a brand new, really doom-y album as was 'Triumphant & Militant Church' by Grave Disgrace, the band's second major release on bandcamp.  Needless to say, the next 30 minutes after pressing play will drown you in doom.

After the long, slow and entirely doom-y tension builder, "East of the Sun", the band gets down to business.  "Ice Tentacles" slams in with the kind of riff with the kind of tone that I'm always looking for but had been hearing less and less of.  It's for that reason if for no other that I "lost my shit" (as the youngsters say), when I first listened to this thing.  And a worthy reason it was.  I like my doom thick, shaggy, and possessing sharp claws and teeth and an ill-tempered demeanor.  I like stuff that is more experimental and pushes boundaries too.  But nothing is going to make me lose more of said 'shit' than an entry into the genre of doom that doesn't have a slash next to it.  This is what I listen for.  This is what I scour for.  To find stuff like this.  All this is not to say the band hasn't changed, grown or progressed.

The biggest, most obvious change of all is in the vocals.  Where Aleksei Uvarov sounded Ozzy-like on 'Grave Disgrace', he doesn't sing here on 'T&MC' so much as create a chemical process deep within his guts that belches through him miraculously forming words on the way out.  In effect, the vocals have taken on a much deeper tone.  Comparing "Ice Tentacles" to say "The Mire Brings", one might get the impression that it's an entirely new singer.  That may even be true!  With very little info on the band available I'm relying on The Metal Archives here for my information, but that's usually a trusted source.  A change of heart perhaps?  Who knows?  Either way, the change of direction from melodic to guttural vocals is a significant one.  It gives the band a sludgy overtone, but I don't want to get into the game of putting slashes next to what Grave Disgrace does, they cut enough deep slashes in listeners anyway.

Side B continues the pattern on of an intro, in this case "West of the Moon" ("East of the Sun" on side A, see how that works?) preceding a longer, mercilessly slow riff fest, on this side taking the form of "The Cult".  It picks up where "Ice Tentacles" left off, having much the same tone and tempo as it's side A twin.  The largest difference between the two being the driving pace that closes out the last minute of the song.  A precursor to the next Grave Disgrace release?  Time will only tell.  It certainly leaves the door open to a sequel.

This is doom in its purest, grimiest incarnation, hammering slowly away at the nerve until the very last minute of the album.  That's when they bring the chainsaw out and make the final end a messy one.  I highly recommend this album to anyone who listens to doom.  You can't always say that, no matter how good an album you've got.  This isn't middle of the road stuff, this is hammer on temple doom!

Highlights include: "Ice Tentacles" and "The Cult"

Rating: 5/5

Total Run Time: 31:57

Aleksei Uvarov - Bass, vocals
Konstantin Belousov - Drums
Sergey Saprantsev - Guitars

From: St. Petersburg, Russia

Genre: Doom

Reminds me of: Grave Siesta, Pilgrim

Release Date: April 9, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: The perfect 'road music' soundtrack for an armored tank rolling into battle.

Better Review:

Grave Disgrace facebook

Doom Charts for 05/29/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Prepare To Die (Devil To Pay / Fate Is Your Muse)
  2. Poison Apple (Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats / Mind Control)
  3. Lunar Master (Mothership / ST)
  4. One of a Kind (Nocturnal / single)
  5. Ladies of the Night (Devil / Gather the Sinners)
  6. Electric Mistress [7" edit] (Stoned Jesus / single)
  7. Savage Dancer (Black Moth / 7" single)
  8. Crux To Bear (Across Tundras / Split LP w/ Lark's Tongue)
  9. Vertigo (Zodiac / ST)
  10. Rebecca At The Well (Revelation / Inner Harbor)
  11. Swing the Scimitar (Black Pyramid / Adversarial)
  12. Walpurgia (Weed Priest / ST)
  13. ... And Death Rides With Us (Temptations Wings / Legends of the Tusk)
  14. Conflict (Philip H. Anselmo / War of the Gargantuas)*
  15. Goodbye Gemini (Blood Ceremony / The Eldritch Dark)
  16. Under Control (Space Mushroom Fuzz / Something Weird's Going On)
  17. Milk Leg (Intronaut / Habitual Levitations)*
  18. Black Flag (Tsar Bomba / Silent Queen)*
  19. Mars Father (Aleph Null / Belladonna EP)*
  20. Ice Tentacles (Grave Disgrace / Triumphant & Militant Church)*
  21. Doomsday Calling (Lothorian / Welldweller)*
  22. Kingdom of Others (Death Ape Disco / Supervolcano)
  23. In The Heather (Romero / Take The Potion)
  24. God Is Dead? (Black Sabbath / 13)*
  25. Girls 'n' Guns (Deaf Proof / Beyond the Orange Door Demo)*
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
Polygon of Eyes (Scorpion Child / ST)
Dull Ache [I Hate Myself Today] (Tentacle / Ingot Eye)
Shadow King (Beastwars / Blood Becomes Fire)
Chrononaut (Crag Dweller / Magic Dust)
For the Throne of Fire (Kröwnn / Hyborian Age)
Yorgan Mountain (Green Shade / ... Bright Interlude)
Kärsimyksen tie (Musta Risti / ST)
Purple Void (Spacefog / Purple Void)

Fair Warning! Don't Miss ... Tangerine Stoned!

Take it from one who spent five years of his life listening to virtually nothing but 60s / early 70s psychedelic / prog music, Tangerine Stoned is the genuine article.  You could swear this is some long-lost album from the decade of flowers in gun-barrels and turtle vans.  Check it out on the player below after reading this short ...


"Tangerine Stoned formed in Summer 2011 by guitar player Alex Key and vocalist Chris Jei.  Their intention was to re-create the sounds of 60s psychedelic bands like Pink Floyd, Doors, Cream, Seeds, Jimi Hendrix Experience.  They recruited Daniel on bass guitar, Verner on keys and Checcho on the drums.

"They immediately started to write original material inspired by the acid sound of the aforementioned bands.  In late 2012 they signed a deal with Moonlight Records and started to record their debut album the self-titled 'Tangerine Stoned'.  The album was released in May 2013.  The band is currently gigging throughout Italy, and it's getting ready for a European tour in the Fall."

And if all that isn't enough to convince you, catch the band's full 40 minute live performance on the clip below:


Tangerine Stoned on facebook

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Grey Host - Dawn For Vultures (album review)

Artwork by John "Stormcrow" Sebastian (guitar/vocals)
Grey Host come form that formerly great and bustling metropolis Cincinnati but sound as though they have emerged from some Cimmerian bog, hands tied, face down, having been left for dead, left for Set, axe wound to the skull, but still unstoppable, only made stronger by the experience, an experience that has left its mark, not only in the form of a gnarly scar along the ridge of the Grey Host's head, but, a mark that manifests itself in the form of atmospheric brooding.  For the Grey Host will seek his revenge.  And, lo!  There shall come a time of reckoning.  Restoration of honor becomes his obsession.  He stalks the mist shrouded peaks of Hyperborea, brooding in contemplation, seething in anger, finding resolve.  If you don't believe me, just listen to "The Shaman".  (And for the record, I know what a host is but prefer to personify my records in the form of an individual, okay!  Of course, there are multiple meanings to the word 'host' and maybe my interpretation of the name implies an individual who is host to some form of grey demon, creature, parasite or in this case is host to a seething lust for recompense.)

Anyway, that's what it comes down to here.  Tough as nails doom, filthy vocals and sludgy drone, which paints pictures of ravaged landscapes, to create a style all their own.  This is Grey Host's signature, Doom n' drone.  When I say drone here, I'm talking about the understated instrumental passages the band lace carefully throughout the disc.  The sludge comes here in the form of dust caked in the corners of eyes in a parched expanse, the swamp is but a memory, a lifetime away.  Grey Host fleck off riffs like dry, cracked skin, peeling long strips off in an instrumental direction.  Barely audible keyboard drone makes all the difference in the world here, lending the music the sound of a howling wind sweeping across the desert plain.  Again, it's not something you would automatically notice, but it's there, more felt, more subconsciously absorbed, than heard, let alone enjoyed.

Another intrinsic factor to the Grey Host experience is the pace.  Grey Host keep it slow and lumbering, stooped, massive shoulders with arms that terminate in axes which weigh far heavier than the price of a man's soul.  The band doesn't bust out into a trot or charge through tracks at a galloping pace.  They stalk their prey like a sinewy panther, muscles tensed like oiled chords rippling beneath bronzed and sun parched skin (I'm paraphrasing Robert E. Howard here from memory because that's what Grey Host does to me).  Actually, it's hard to call the music strictly slow.  It is at times, but mostly it's kept to the tempo of a brisk walk, or slow march.  Notes are steeped in remorse, sorrow and haunted by the memory of acts it sometimes takes for a body to survive a hard driven life.

Photo by Greg Lutz
Grey Host inhabit a land of giants, wizards and warriors.  It's an impressive debut, the six songs on the album create a run on effect with each track kicking at the rubble of the previous track to start the avalanche of the next one.  For nearly an hour the band smashes heads in, then broods about the next attack.  Rarely does the Grey Host experience regret, but on closing track "Dawn for Vultures" there's a bone weariness to go along with a slightly western feel, the development of which begins slowly in the second half of the preceding track, "Bonemother".  See how the tracks run into one another, develop and roll through each other?  'Dawn For Vultures' is sure to satisfy the doom, sludge and drone crowds, taking an experimental approach while still remaining accessible.  The band still has shirts and CDs available through their bandcamp page too, so check it out by following the links on the player below and snatch it all up before it's gone.  I got my CD in the mail already and it's a nice looking package with an especially cool drawing in red ink on the inside of the gatefold.  Peep it here.

Highlights include: "The Shaman" and "Bonemother"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 54:30

John Sebastian - Guitars/Vocals
Jason Nix - Guitars
Zac Schmidt - Drums
Evan Roberts - Organ

From: Cincinnati, Ohio

Genre: Doom, Sludge, Drone

Reminds me of: Conan, Kröwnn

Release Date: March 30, 2013

Suggested Listening Activity for Fellow Non-Stoners: This is music for a Hyborian war party, traveling by caravan through a desert plain.

Better Reviews:
The Sludgelord

Grey Host facebook

Monday, 27 May 2013

Beringia - Domesticated Animals EP (album review)

Cover Artwork by Ben Jackson
Yes folks, it's time once again to turn our collectively paranoid gaze southward to Stumptown, otherwise known as Portland, Oregon.  No longer a pit stop on the coast highway, it's multifarious art and music scenes have the city pegged as a destination for art and music lovers in and of itself.  Alright, I don't know much about these guys, except that Juan the guitarist is in another awesome band called Sioux who you can check out on the Eolian Empire comp (check it out, track 13).

Swinging bass strikes dribble in oddmetre like blood from hanging corpses.  Inquisitional intensity first squeezes and strangulates grooves before they  are given a chance to take off, then dismembers the notes, spraying them in unexpected directions across the length of the record.  Post-punk syncopation is taken to extremes, redecorating the foundations of this music in its own intestines.  'Domesticated Animals' is as aggressive as a jonesin' junky's knife thrusts, while still keeping a good head above the shoulders.  The end result is a messy kind of logic.

Beringia don't play their music any more than a latent serial killer plays with a dead bird on the side of the road.  They go to work on it, they attack it.  That aggression always sits right atop the surface, at times listening to 'Domesticated Animals' is like watching a street fight, it's exciting and scary with awkward choreography and you might just get thrown in from the sidelines and walk away with your feathers ruffled and your nose bloodied.  That's sure to happen while listening to opening track "Ghost Hunters", at the very least some of that dripping blood will get on you for sure.

Okay, so now that you've shaken hands with the pure visceral power of Beringia, follow me, step through this doorway into the bright light, and allow me to introduce to you, another side of the band.  It's not all madness, murder and mayhem here you know?  The first hints of it are introduced on "Ghost Hunters" during a short break in the middle of the song.  A calmness washes over the affair, a breath of clarity is taken, like a gasping swimmer with his head above the surface in a roiling mosh pit, taking in what he can before being inevitably pulled back down for another round.  I won't say it's a softer side, but Beringia offers the listener a gallery of visions.  Those little moments of clarity amid the brutality, chaos and confusion.

This view of the band through an alternative prism comes into full technicolor view on "Binary Monolithic Machine".  The song is bookended by some ambient passages that allow the listener to catch his breath.  You're going to need it for the rapid fire strikes of "Vacant Beast".

The band has a self-titled full-length LP already under their belts with a new one coming soon.  But this EP should loom large in their legend as a slice of experimental metal, which doesn't crawl up its own ass and actually delivers some songs you can sink your teeth into.  Shouting, muting, rapidfire scales and double kick which swing in and out like a pendulum blade, disjointed rhythms, visions of serene order within a limb-scattered war zone, these are the unique visions of Beringia.  Check these guys out if you think you can handle it by clicking the links on the player below, after all it's "Name Your Price".

Highlights include: "Ghost Hunters" and "Domesticated Animals"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 25:37

Ian (Lord Farthammer) Engblom- Vocals, Bass
Justin Lee Henry - Vocals, VoX
Ryan Stabach - Vocals, Drums
Juan Carlos Caceres - Vocals, Guitar

From: Portland, Oregon

Genre: Post-Punk, Metal

Reminds me of: Anciients, Godstopper, Red Fang

Release Date: February 24, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Out on the sea, caught in a rager, where you will wait patiently for your vision of clarity.

Beringia facebook
Beringia official website

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Mind Control (album review)

Uncle Acid (the Jim Jones of Rock?) has returned, Deadbeats in tow.  It's two years later, the skies are a little more smog choked, the streets are a little more crowded and there are just that many more potential Acid Coven cult members.  If word about this band ever got out into the mainstream, it could be a revolution.  What's frightening is that it could very well happen with this album.

The album opens with "Mt. Abraxas" and its interpreted likeness graces the album cover.  Abraxas, of course, is a Gnostic word of various attribution, but most commonly interpreted as their word for God (as per Carl Jung).  The song tells the story of the people who climb the mountain, one after the other, while sadly "they don't know, there's nothing up there".  Meanwhile, Uncle Acid plays with our Sabbath fanaticism by directly quoting the opening riff of "After Forever" (without disrupting the flow of the song!), which as we know was Sabbath's unabashedly Christian apologia from 'Master of Reality' in which Ozzy implored that "God is the only way to love".  It's incredibly ironic that currently Black Sabbath themselves are set to release their first new album in a coon's age with a lead single called "God Is Dead?", which deals with a similar theme that is not nearly as well thought out or well handled as Uncle Acid's opening track.  The word Abraxas, again has more than one interpreted meaning, but I'm going to go with the assumption that Uncle Acid here is referring to God, or some light of spiritual knowledge, understanding or comfort.  This is a brilliant way to start the album and is Uncle Acid's way of inviting the listener into his cult, for first he who seeks a higher truth must first acknowledge none higher than ye olde Uncle Acid.  It's been a long, long time since I felt this way about any single song, or that is to say, thought so deeply about any single song.  It's a highlight of an already bright discography and the seminal moment of the album from which all ideas flow like evils from Pandora's box.

There's a palpable Beatles influence here.  I should say, more of a palpable Beatles influence on this album, expanding on the hints of the mustachioed quartet's influence on Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats previous album, 'Blood Lust'.  Specifically, this Beatlesque feeling comes across most clearly in the form of "Death Valley Blues" and "Valley of the Dolls", which play on the Liverpudlians Indian excursion, during which they famously lived for a month with The Beach Boys, Donovan and Prudence Farrow among others in a Transcendental Meditation camp in the remote foothills of Rishikesh, India.  Another brilliant touch, playing on the fabs' foray into 'religious awakening', which may or may not have been a conscious decision when composing the album.  It may have been a stray mood, thought or feeling floating around when thinking about the themes on this album.  If nothing else 'Mind Control' is a bucket of cold water in the face of 'seekers', the theme being that the titular subject of the album being the end result of religious belief, practice and the following of religious leaders.

But if you think it's all an intellectual exercise without any of the visceral punch that catapulted the band's earlier efforts, then fear not.  'Mind Control' has hooks on chains, beginning with "Mt. Abraxas" and following through with "Poison Apple" the lead off single and goes from there.  When I think about what makes a great and memorable chorus, I think about, when I read the song title does the chorus come washing in to my mind?  "13 Candles" from 'Blood Lust' does this in a big way, as does "Death's Door" and "I'll Cut You Down".  "Mind Crawler", "Follow the Leader" and "Valley of the Dolls" have this in spades as well.  5 out of 9 songs with this hookiness factor is phenomenal.

I was expecting to be let down with this album.  I really was.  I'm a cynic when it comes to music, I'll admit it.  We've all been let down so many times in the past with favored artists not reaching the pedestal our ears have put them on.  It's nobody's fault but our own ... okay, okay, no more tarnishing you with my same dirty brush, it's nobody's fault but mine.  I certainly won't be one to blame the artist, it's human nature to be left behind by the ever-changing wiles of the artist or for the artist to choke under pressure.  After all, this is their label debut (on Rise Above Records no less).  When nobody's watching it's relatively easy to stay loose and do one's best, but once the attention turns one's way, it's understandable to fold under pressure.  'Blood Lust' is such a fantastic record, one of my favorites, that there was no way Uncle Acid would be able to reach those same heights, were they?  That's just not the way things work, right?

Well it is now.  The truth is, in a lot of ways that count, 'Mind Control' is a better overall record than 'Blood Lust'.  Not only is it strong musically, but it's well thought out and executed.  In fact, I'm not sure I've heard a record that was more well planned and executed.  Not for a long time anyway.  While many concept albums play out like great films or novels, 'Mind Control' is like a master's thesis.  And don't get too uptight if your nerdy younger sister starts talking about Uncle Acid at the dinner table, it's his time now, he won't be your prized little secret for too much longer.

Highlights include: "Mt. Abraxas" and "Poison Apple"

Rating: 4.5/5

1). Mt. Abraxas (7:09)
2). Mind Crawler (4:22)
3). Poison Apple (4:14)
4). Desert Ceremony (5:10)
5). Evil Love (4:08)
6). Death Valley Blues (4:59)
7). Follow the Leader (6:29)
8). Valley of the Dolls (7:11)
9). Devil's Work (6:56)
Total Run Time: 50:30

K.R. Starrs (Guitar, Vocals)
Dean Millar (Bass)
Thomas Mowforth (Drums)
Yotam Rubinger (Guitar, Backing Vocals)

From: Cambridge, England

Genre: Psychedelic, Doom, Rock

Reminds me of: The Beatles

Release Date: May 14, 2013

Better Reviews:
The Obelisk
Dr. Doom's Lair

Cvlt Nation interview

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats facebook
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats on Encyclopedia Metallum


Saturday, 25 May 2013

Hour of Power 05/25/13 (playlist)

  1. Dead Rock Commandos (Nighstalker / Dead Rock Commandos) 2012
  2. Stormbreak (Kings Destroy / A Time of Hunting) 2013
  3. The Righteous Walk (The Devil Rides Out / Ugly Creatures) 2013
  4. Gravity Chasm [live] (Conan / TBA) 2013
  5. Scion of Infinity (Funeral Circle / ST) 2013
  6. Embrace the Stone (Age of Taurus / Desperate Souls of Tortured Times) 2013
  7. Time to Die (Satan / Life Sentence) 2013
  8. The Last Titan (Temptations Wings / Legends of the Tusk) 2013
  9. Electric Worry (Clutch / From Beale Street to Oblivion) 2007 'classic video'
  10. Master of the Temple (Magister Templi / Lucifer Leviathan Logos) 2013
  11. Puujamala (Loijatar / Hämärän Kulkija) 2013

Doom Charts for 05/25/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Polygon of Eyes (Scorpion Child / ST)
  2. Dull Ache [I Hate Myself Today] (Tentacle / Ingot Eye)
  3. Prepare To Die (Devil To Pay / Fate Is Your Muse)
  4. Poison Apple (Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats / Mind Control)
  5. One of a Kind (Nocturnal / single)
  6. Savage Dancer (Black Moth / 7" single)
  7. Crux To Bear (Across Tundras / Split LP w/ Lark's Tongue)
  8. Rebecca At The Well (Revelation / Inner Harbor)
  9. Lunar Master (Mothership / ST)
  10. Vertigo (Zodiac / ST)
  11. Swing the Scimitar (Black Pyramid / Adversarial)
  12. Shadow King (Beastwars / Blood Becomes Fire)
  13. Chrononaut (Crag Dweller / Magic Dust)
  14. Ladies of the Night (Devil / Gather the Sinners)*
  15. Under Control (Space Mushroom Fuzz / Something Weird's Going On)
  16. Kingdom of Others (Death Ape Disco / Supervolcano)
  17. For the Throne of Fire (Kröwnn / Hyborian Age)
  18. Yorgan Mountain (Green Shade / ... Bright Interlude)
  19. Goodbye Gemini (Blood Ceremony / The Eldritch Dark)*
  20. Walpurgia (Weed Priest / ST)*
  21. Kärsimyksen tie (Musta Risti / ST)
  22. ... And Death Rides With Us (Temptations Wings / Legends of the Tusk)
  23. Electric Mistress [7" edit] (Stoned Jesus / single)*
  24. In The Heather (Romero / Take The Potion)
  25. Purple Void (Spacefog / Purple Void)
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
Nuclear Messiah (King Goat / Atom)
Dancing With My Demons (Chains / 7" single)
Cryogenics (Utah / ST)
Silverwing (Sideburn / IV Monument)

Top 30 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Devil To Pay - Fate Is Your Muse
  2. Black Pyramid - Adversarial
  3. Blizaro - Blak Majicians
  4. Kröwnn - Hyborian Age
  5. Head of the Demon - ST
  6. Tentacle - Ingot Eye
  7. Cultura Tres - Rezando Al Miedo
  8. Devil - Gather The Sinners
  9. Beastwars - Blood Becomes Fire
  10. Revelation - Inner Harbor
  11. Weed Priest - ST
  12. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Mind Control
  13. Crag Dweller - Magic Dust
  14. Kadavar - Abra Kadavar
  15. Mothership - ST
  16. Cardinals Folly - Strange Conflicts of the Past
  17. Demon Lung - The Hundredth Name
  18. Grave Disgrace - Triumphant & Militant Church
  19. Magister Templi - Lucifer Leviathan Logos
  20. Shinin' Shade - SAT-URN
  21. Abysmal Grief - Feretri
  22. Tsar Bomba - Silent Queen
  23. Gates of Slumber - Stormcrow EP
  24. Demon Eye - E.P.
  25. Grey Host - Dawn For Vultures
  26. Zodiac - ST
  27. Cathedral - The Last Spire
  28. Sideburn - IV Monument
  29. Kings Destroy - A Time of Hunting*
  30. Geezer - Gage EP

Friday, 24 May 2013

Lesados - Leziria (album review)

Lesados play stoner rock which has grown from the cracks of a punk rock foundation.  They have the same kind of driving, hypnotic, almost robotic riffs and rhythms that were a main feature of Josh Homme's early years.  When a guitarist just riffs away forever like that it creates a juggernaut of momentum.  This is true of track one "Porque?", a hypnotic drill of head down riff mongering and brick wall smashing.  As the song and album titles suggest, Lesados' lyrics are all in Portuguese.

On "Neblina", the band get into some slow riff doom territory, while maintaining a crusty punk edge which is always apparent in the vocals, upping the tempo for the chorus.  While older Black Pyramid and Devil have a doom punk thing going, Lesados have a different feel, capturing more of the original spirit of The Obsessed in its combination of styles.  "Olival" keeps the doom rolling with grooves a-plenty, once again scratching out simplistic, heavy and ultimately satisfying riffs, which seems to be a dying art.

In many ways, 'Leziria' features a misleading album cover.  Where one might expect to hear some slow burning dusty crop blues inflected rock, Lesados keep a steady pace.  So steady in fact that the bulk of the songs are a nearly uniform length with the exception of closing track, "Zona", an 11 minute romp which also features a hidden riff-o-rama track.  'Leziria' is fast-paced, riff-mad, heavy rock n roll.  As the album progresses, the feel of the album cover becomes a little more apparent on tracks like "Cadáveres" and "Zona".

So what you're getting here is some fast paced, punk-inflected stoner rock with rural moments and insistent riffs.  The doomier moments fall within the bracket of what Corrosion of Conformity is doing these days, which is a good band to keep in mind when approaching Lesados, especially on "Neblina".  Best part of all, you can download this gem for half a friggin' euro on the band's bandcamp page, now.

Highlights include: "Neblina" and "Porque?"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 37:59

From: Alverca, Portugal

Genre: Stoner, Punk, Doom

Reminds me of: Corrosion of Conformity, The Obsessed

Release Date: March 17, 2013

Better Review:
Stoner Hive

Lesados facebook

Fair Warning! Don't Miss ... Lovijatar

Don't let this Finnish folk outfit pass you by.  Tired of everything sounding the same?  Well, Lovijatar is like a 40 ounce cup of coffee taken intravenously!


"12.2.2013 Helsinki

"Finnish Folk and Stoner Rock Band Lovijatar Released an Album Hämärän Kulkija

"Experienced musicians Jussi Rautio (Battlelore, Guitar) and Tommi Vaittinen (Elephant Bell, Vocals) felt a need to start to create music together. Lyrical inspiration would come from Finnish folk poetry,old believes and nature. Band called Lovijatar was born and it takes influences from progressive rock, folk and doom metal. Bands first release ‘Hämärän Kulkija’ was released in the beginning of 2013.

"Inspiration for lyrics made by Rautio and Vaittinen comes from Kalevala and other old Finnish folk poetry. Pieces of melodies have been taken from Carelian and Finnish folk requiems. These requiems have been recorded in the beginning of the 1900´s when the last traditional folk singers were alive.

"“We have picked themes from these dirges that feel natural and transformed those in to modern rock expression. Our goal is not to recreate some old folk music but to create totally new music that has echoes from the past centuries. We can not fully understand how people have felt and lived in the old forest societies but we are children of our time and we want to sound like that”, Says Rautio.

"Carelian keens or requiems (itkuvirsi) were performed in the old rituals that were connected to passing and transferring from one state of life to other one. For example a subject for a dirge could be a death of a close one or destiny of immigrant folks. Women with covered faces performed these songs at ceremonies. These songs have deep understanding towards life and what happens in a human soul. These song empowered members of Lovijatar to find a musical expression.

"“I feel that we must do music in Finnish because it is our mother language and if really want to evoke emotion we can not do it in another languages. We have lost lots of old Finnish culture and it is best preserved in folk poetry. That’s the only place where we can really go and find something ancient from our heritage. “, Rautio continues.

"Jussi Rautio and Tommi Vaittinen write lyrics and compose music. Arrangements are done by the whole band.

"Other members of Lovijatar are Mikko Neuvonen (Elephant Bell, Drums), Petrus Rapo (Boner, Guitar) and Riku Hakala (Tytär, Bass.) ‘Hämärän Kulkija’ is bands first release that is a combination of heavy riffs, melodic expression and hard handed playing. Release is bands first one and it is released by themselves. It can be heard and bought from:"

Lovijatar on facebook

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Black Pyramid - Adversarial (album review)

Cover artwork by Eli Wood.
There's no other way to start a review of Black Pyramid's third album, 'Adversarial' without mentioning the change in line-up, and it's an important change.  Actually, the change took place a while ago.  Before Black Pyramid's second album 'II' came out in January of last year, Andy Beresky, guitarist and vocalist of the three piece had left the band.  In his place now stands Darryl Shepard, a veteran musician of numerous bands and projects over the years (see his profile on Encyclopedia Metallum), including The Scimitar a new side project with Black Pyramid bassist Gein and drummer Brian Banfield (Blood Stone Sacrifice).  The band name was actually inspired by the opening track of 'Adversarial', "Swing the Scimitar", but we'll get to that in a moment.  The personnel shift is significant and changes the overall tone and sound of the band, of course it does, you don't replace a guitarist / vocalist in a single guitar band set up without it having a major impact.

Where Black Pyramid once embraced a hardcore punk / doom crossover sound mixed with the occasional elements of Irish folk, that trademark sound has been largely swept aside, although not entirely (see instrumental "Issus").  On 'Adversarial', Black Pyramid move toward a more head down power doom sound, a sound that is somehow more befitting the band name.  "Swing the Scimitar" successfully evokes images of Arabian desert raids in the Hyborian Age.  A swirling riff kicks up sand storms in the mind.  Men with shrouded faces descend from the clifftops whose blades are swifter than the wind.  As not only the opener but the longest track on the record, it sets the tone and locks it in, while also setting a high standard for the rest of the album to follow.

As I mentioned in my Blizaro 'Blak Majicians' review (read it!), I discovered the song "Aphelion" on the Obelisk podcast for Stoner Hands of Doom XII in August of last year.  It was from a split seven inch single with Odyssey and it was Shepard's first recorded release with the band.  It's a great song that was actually a Top 5 in the pre-blog Doom Charts.  The song has been re-recorded here in a roomier eight minutes plus version that hangs that big riff on the clothesline and airs it out for all it's worth.

"Onyx and Obsidian" continues that Arabian desert vibe that all the longer songs on 'Adversarial' all share, particularly in the middle of this track.  Thumping rhythms and killer octave shifts create a sitar feel from Shepard's guitar.  The album closer, "Onyx and Obsidian" also clocks in at over eight minutes long and is the most adventurous and epic track on the album.

'Adversarial' finds that the band has moved on from what they were doing with Beresky in the fold.  In many ways, it's a meatier sound that is more substantial even with only 5 tracks and about a quarter of an hour shorter than 'II'.  In other ways the usually prolific band may have lost some 'real world' momentum in the process of swapping front men, but that doesn't really matter with the album in your hands and the music in your ears.  Beresky, by the way, has since moved on to Palace in Thunderland and I like what he's doing there now more than what he was with Black Pyramid, while at the same time, I like Black Pyramid more with Shepard in front.  Far as this reviewer is concerned, the situation, musically, is win-win.

Highlights include: "Onyx and Obsidian" and "Aphelion"

Rating: 4.5/5

1). Swing the Scimitar (11:59)
2). Bleed Out (5:39)
3). Issus (3:56)
4). Aphelion (8:32)
5). Onyx and Obsidian (8:23)
Total Run Time: 46:51

Darryl Shepard - guitar / vocals
Gein - bass
Clay Neely - drums / synth
From: Boston, Massachusetts

Genre: Doom, Stoner, Psychedelic

Reminds me of: Stone Machine Electric, Wo Fat

Release Date: April 2, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Arriving at the sand-smothered gates of the ancient ziggurat, scale the outer wall and let the siege begin ...

Better Review:
The Obelisk

Black Pyramid facebook


OR HERE (digital)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Magister Templi - Lucifer Leviathan Logos (album review)

I don't remember where or when I heard about these guys but I know I'd had May 10 circled on the calendar for weeks, for that was the day that the Magister Templi took the altar with their full-length debut.  I've said it before and I'll say it some more, I love me some old school style metal.  Where machine gun guitars hack and slash through all bullshit, galloping rhythms stalk listeners on darkened streets, muted cymbals and anthemic singalong choruses finally capture them in their frenzy.  That's what it's all about.  You can almost feel the denim draped over your shoulders, the fingerless gloves raising a fist, head thrown back, mullets flowing in the breeze of sheer amplitude.  And that's just the opening tune, "Master of the Temple."

It's no wonder that 'Lucifer Leviathan Logos' is such an accomplished debut.  They've been around for roughly five years now, having up to this point released a total of six songs spanning a demo and an EP.

"Lucifer" may be Magister Templi's oldest song, as an older version appears on their two-song demo, which is fitting because it treats the listener to some melodic vocals that remind me somewhat of the underground heavy prog/psych bands that were coming out of England in the late sixties, bands like Vandergraaf Generator, East of Eden and Second Hand.  It forms a trio of songs, along with "Leviathan" and "Logos" that not only form the album title but that cut through the album evenly (each of the even numbered songs) forming the overall "master's thesis" of Magister Templi, summarizing everything, all the ideas they are attempting to get across on this album.

"The Innsmouth Look" is, quite obviously, a Lovecraftian Mythos song (side note: it's funny because I only just read Marvel Premiere #s 4, 5 & 6 featuring Dr. Strange, which dealt with this subject exactly.  Side note to the side note: these three issues were written by comics Hall of Famer Gardner F. Fox, one of the very first fiction writers to recognize Lovecraft's genius and pick up on what he was doing, including expanding on his beloved Mythos).  It's one of the most unabashedly and appropriately doom-y song on the album and builds slowly towards the driving metal that defines most of the rest of the album.  The previously mentioned "Leviathan" builds dynamically on the foundation laid by this song as well, slabbing layer upon layer of doom then metal and so on, which makes this such a well-crafted and atmospherically rich album.

Vocalist Abraxas d'Ruckus delivers a full performance, seemingly challenging and pushing himself on every song, either by crafting a memorable melody or shifting into an unnatural falsetto.  Earnestly spoken incantations add the spice of danger and authenticity to the largely occultic lyrical content.  It's this predilection for spoken word passages then pushing the vocal performance just past that of d'Ruckus' natural ability that lends this album a Doors-like finish, it's smooth going in, then foams up while passing through the throat.

Through it all, though it may be a little rough around the edges in places, even someone who has lost their hearing can simply feel the raw power of this album pulsing through their feet and up their spines to infect the brain like the fungi from Yuggoth.

A lot of old school metal type bands go with one sound and one tempo and one goal in mind on every song and that certainly has its place and makes for an enjoyable ride.  Magister Templi however, aren't afraid to experiment with many shades to their palette while still retaining an overall feel to the album all the same.  Look no further than album closer "Vitriol" for evidence of this.  "Master of the Temple" doesn't sound like "Lucifer", which doesn't sound like "The Innsmouth Look" and so on.  While a lesser band might have taken  each of these songs and crafted seven whole albums around them with six to ten songs that all sound roughly the same, Magister Templi has produced a varied listening experience while still signing their work with a signature sound.  It's a rare trait these days and rarer still to be pulled off so successfully.

Highlights include: "Master of the Temple" and "Lucifer"

Rating: 4/5

1). Master of the Temple (6:01)
2). Lucifer (4:50)
3). The Innsmouth Look (5:56)
4). Leviathan (5:30)
5). Tiphareth (5:46)
6). Logos (4:31)
7). Vitriol (4:25)
Total Run Time: 36:54

Abraxas d'Ruckus: Vocals
Baphomet: Guitar
Patriark: Guitar
Akoman: Bass
Grimmdun: Drums

From: Oslo, Norway

Genre: Doom, Old School Metal

Reminds me of: Arkham Witch, Natur

Release Date: May 10, 2013

Better Reviews:
Angry Metal Guy
Last Rites

This is Not a Scene interview
Nocturnal Cult interview

Magister Templi facebook


OR HERE (digital)

Doom Charts for 05/22/13

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Savage Dancer (Black Moth / 7" single)
  2. Polygon of Eyes (Scorpion Child / ST)
  3. Crux To Bear (Across Tundras / Split LP w/ Lark's Tongue)
  4. Nuclear Messiah (King Goat / Atom)
  5. Dull Ache [I Hate Myself Today] (Tentacle / Ingot Eye)
  6. Shadow King (Beastwars / Blood Becomes Fire)
  7. Chrononaut (Crag Dweller / Magic Dust)
  8. One of a Kind (Nocturnal / single)
  9. Dancing With My Demons (Chains / 7" single)
  10. Lunar Master (Mothership / ST)
  11. For the Throne of Fire (Kröwnn / Hyborian Age)
  12. Vertigo (Zodiac / ST)
  13. Prepare To Die (Devil To Pay / Fate Is Your Muse)*
  14. Poison Apple (Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats / Mind Control)*
  15. Kärsimyksen tie (Musta Risti / ST)
  16. Rebecca At The Well (Revelation / Inner Harbor)*
  17. ... And Death Rides With Us (Temptations Wings / Legends of the Tusk)
  18. Swing the Scimitar (Black Pyramid / Adversarial)*
  19. In The Heather (Romero / Take The Potion)*
  20. Cryogenics (Utah / ST)
  21. Under Control (Space Mushroom Fuzz / Something Weird's Going On)*
  22. Kingdom of Others (Death Ape Disco / Supervolcano)*
  23. Purple Void (Spacefog / Purple Void)
  24. Yorgan Mountain (Green Shade / ... Bright Interlude)
  25. Silverwing (Sideburn / IV Monument)
* New Song

Outgoing songs:
Widow Stone (Sonic Mass / single)
Stone (Alice in Chains / The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here)
Highflyer (Eternal Elysium / Highflyer EP)
Leaning on a Bear (Purson / The Circle & The Blue Door)
Keyhole / Inner Saturn (Shinin' Shade / Sat-Urn)
Solution (Supermachine / ST)
Holy Planet Yamoth (Necronomicon / The Queen of Death)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Alchemical Mixture - llord & Lord Summerisle (album reviews)

Lord Summerisle - Demo
From: Barcelona, Spain.  Highlights include: "Pare Huarg" and
"Ocellót".  Rating: 4.5/5.  Release Date: January 7, 2013.
A couple months ago I wrote a review for an amazing multi-media project by the band Midnight Zombie Alligator called 'Nova Sico' (go ahead and check it out).  It's an incredible mix of stoner doom and sludge with film soundtrack elements about a zombie apocalypse and one man's journey to find a cure.  The band combined audio with visual and written elements to create an overwhelmingly successful project.  A short while later I wrote a review of a three song demo by progressive trio Lord Summerisle for Stoner Hive (read it here).  It turns David Trillo who provides guitar and vocals for MZA does the same for Lord Summerisle as well.  I had no idea!  But that's not even the end of it, not content to freak the world out in those two bands alone, he and Mike Kelly, drummer for Lord Summerisle, form a third, decidedly more brutal combo with Aris on bass called llord!  These three bands couldn't possibly be more different from each other and I'm proud to feature the two lords here on Paranoid Hitsophrenic!

Lord Summerisle (named after a Christopher "Sabbath fan extraordinaire" Lee character from one of my personal favorite movies of all time, the original Wicker Man [1973]), thy middle name is Prog (an awkward and perhaps pretentious middle name, I know, but the musical genre itself is known for nothing if not pushing the boundaries of good taste).  Kudos to this band for not only delivering an authentic slice of pure seventies progressive rock, both in terms of structure and rhythmic sensibilities, but also crafting one of the catchiest songs of the year while doing so.  "Pare Huarg" is certainly the catchiest instrumental of the year to date.  As a matter of fact, 'pure seventies' doesn't even cut it as this thing can go twelve rounds with anything by King Crimson, Gabriel-led Genesis and oh, let's say E.L.P. et al. in terms of rhythmic complexity.  Lord Summerisle hops right over the top and stalks confidently into the rhythmic minefield of Zappa territory, joined perhaps on the front lines by burly Captain Beefheart.  Got it!?!  This thing is crazy!

We don't hear vocals until a few minutes into track two "1864" which throws a wet blanket on the prog fire the band started in the instrumental opener.  But such a wet blanket of normalcy can only serve to dampen relatively little of the fire damaged areas, this being a raging inferno of prog after all.  Guitar effects, continued rhythmic explorations / experimentations and a damn hell ass crazy structure keep this hard driving number strictly in the wheelhouse of latter day prog.  However, concessions to a more typical song must be made when dealing with vocals.  "Ocellót" gets this spaceship off the ground and zipping across the universe with its warp drive space rock tempo and octave shifts during the verse.  All together, Lord Summerisle's three song demo is sure to please anybody with a hankering for classic hard rock, specifically of the prog / space rock strains.

I mean that, really.

It is sure to.

Hopefully, this is no flash in the pan, but a project which will deliver on the promise of this rather musically accomplished demo.  A full-length album of this kind of material may draw the attention of Ming the Merciless and have these three musicians hunted down and killed for threatening the tyrant's galactic empire.  That's the kind of high powered Space Rockin' Prog I'm talking about.  And of course, if that were to happen, the world would be without two thirds of our next group, llord ...

After a long, hard day doing math at the prog factory, it must be kind of nice for David and Mike to open up their switchblades and just start cutting up swathes of heavy grooves.  That's not to say that llord doesn't feature some of the same progressive sentiments that define MZA and Lord Summerisle, it's just not nearly at such a titanic scale.  Where the rhythms rarely pause for a breath while herking and jerking throughout whole compositions on Lord Summerisle's debut, never giving poor Mike Kelly a moment to relax, llord play things relatively straight.  Trillo's hacksaw riffs are utilitarian and industrious.  In comparison to Summerisle, llord is sloping brow music that tosses the switchblade over the shoulder in confused frustration and simply cuts into a groove with a dull homemade shiv of mouth-breathing and ill-tempered riffs.  Trillo's throaty death metal screaming tells the listener that there is no bargaining here with this madman.

llord - Demo
From: Barcelona, Spain.  Highlights include: "Verro" and
"Iron Pescatore".  Rating: 4/5.  Release Date: January 31, 2013.
Interestingly (typically?), each of the three songs on llord's demo increases in compositional complexity, one after the other.  From the 4 minute opener "Iron Pescatore" which features a fairly orthodox metal song structure, even while the musical style borrows bits and pieces from various sources all at once, to the six minute follow up "Ordell" which begins to rely a bit more heavily on some syncopation to the 10 minute closer which opens like a spilled box near the middle of the track, unleashing a horde of tritone horrors, the complexity is increased before taking over the end of "Verro" entirely with a madcap finish.

David Trillo has a real knack for penning riffs that get caught in my head.  "Pare Huarg" and "Corpus Earthling" from MZA have been known to be on non-stop rotation in my noggin all night long, he's got riffs and bands for every mood.  Check them all out.  All three are up for "pay what you want" download on bandcamp!  Click the links on the players below to be swept along to the bandcamp pages.

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